Ready, Set, … Go?

By Regis.

Last post I told you I would post about the RV upgrade projects. Well I haven’t a clue how to present that in an interesting way. So what your’e going to get is a list and some pictures with a short description.

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But first, as the title teases, we are about to start this years trip! The continued cold weather does have us worried a bit. The plan is to head to the Pacific Northwest and spend a lot of time around in the state of Washington. Apparently, the shortest way is to head to South Dakota, then west. Fair enough, we like that part of the country. But if it doesn’t warm up we may be snow camping! Fortunately, we have a working heater. Unlike the first year in this RV, where we found out how much colder it can be at 7000 feet elevation (without a working heater) verses 5000 feet. Check this post  brrrr-and-wheres-dart-2
Our first several days will be at the local beach. We actually have a water front site! No, not the ocean water or even the ICW water but maybe a marsh of some type but we can walk to the ocean! Then we head to the gulf coast for a bit then bee line for South Dakota.

One more thing before I get to the upgrades and pictures. I wanted to let you know how you can follow our blog posts! I know some of you get our posts forwarded to you by a friend or notice the Facebook post. You can “sign up” on our blog site, then you can get notified when ever we post, you won’t miss any of the action and you can comment as well!

to sign up on our blog:

goto landrtravel.com or click here ====> Button

It should take you to our latest post. On the right side panel you should see a list of older archived posts. ( read through and catch up!) Below the archives will be a “button”  “follow us we’re lost.” Click it and enter your email.

Now you should get notified when we update our blog! FYI… The first time you comment on a post it will need to be approved by us, so be patient, we’ll get to it! (internet access out in the wild can be spotty!) Once you get approved your comments will post immediately.

On to the upgrades!

I’ll list what I’ve been doing then expand on a couple;

  • Air horn
  • espresso holder
  • basement organization
  • reroute some electrical
  • Flash light holders
  • Four wheel weight RV
  • Align headlights

Espresso holder?

In the RV space is at a premium, even in a big RV. One thing Linda and I will not do without is our espresso drinks. She, a cappuccino, me a latte. Our espresso machine, while not big, will not fit in any of our cabinets. It resides on one side of the stove in camp and on the other side when traveling. Problem is when traveling ANYTHING not tied down will bounce and shift around while going down the road. My solution is to brace the machine on the counter with a “stop” wedged into a gap between the stove and counter. This works great and version 2, made of IPE wood, even looks great!

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Pretend the basket is an espresso machine. It will not slide to the left!

Basement organization.

There are several compartments below the living space, the “basement”. This being the longest trip planned and other factors, we need to be more disciplined with the basement storage. I had seen a great Vlog from the RVGEEKS about how they organize their basement with plastic totes. I went with the concept about the totes. What it has done is to delineate space, which helps keep stuff in its place. One compartment was a big problem in that removing one thing causes two others to fall out! No more!

RV Weight.

For two years now I’ve been wanting to get the RV weighed. Ever since I found out that I under bought (not by much, but still over loaded) the truck to pull the 5th wheel, the RV weight has weighed on my mind. I even had a weigh in scheduled last year be had to cancel. The manufacturer does supply a sticker that lists the weight of the RV, full of fuel and propane, out of the factory, but is it accurate? Well it probably is. But how much STUFF have you added? Great news is that the manufacturers weight was darn close and even with most of our stuff we were well within weight limits on all four wheels! FYI we have been adding more stuff and will be getting a per axel weight soon but I don’t think it will change dramatically.

Headlights?

The only time slot I could get to weigh the RV was 9:30 a.m. and it meant I had to leave at 6:30 a.m. Since I had to fuel up before going I had to leave by 5 and that meant getting up by 4. At O’dark thirty you tend to rely on your head lights while driving. Besides not driving in the rain much (see is winter over yet) it was probably the first time driving the RV in the DARK. HA! Two summers on the road and just now driving in the dark for the first time and realizing the head lights are all akimbo! Well, I spent some time tweaking the lights and probably need some more.

Last but not least AIRHORN.

The RV is built on a medium duty truck frame, a Freightliner M2. Think of the largest UHAUL truck you can rent. Pretty big right? Now think about driving it and having to hit the horn and it sounding like a Toyota Corolla. Not impressive right. It might be a GUY thing but I had to install some air horns on the RV. Still not the sound I want but much better!

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Is Winter Over Yet?

By Regis,

Hello all!

In preparation for our 2018 adventure I was looking back and noticed we have not posted since January! Well, to be honest, we haven’t been doing much to share. Plus, It’s been COLD! Yes even here in Floridia it’s been way too cold to even wear shorts! Just last month we had frost!

In February, my mom came down to visit and we piled into the RV and headed to Clearwater on the gulf coast. My Aunt Toni and Uncle Mike were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. As I was in the wedding party, oh so long ago, I scored an invite! I felt very honored to be able to share the occasion. It was great to see everyone and to share some adventure stories with cousin Mike, including a story about Mt. Baker.

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While driving back from Clearwater, it rained a good part of the way. I think, in the three summers of camping, we have not had to drive in the rain more than 2 or 3 hours TOTAL. However, it rained fairly constant on the way back to St. Augustine. One thing constant rain and driving 60-65 MPH will do is highlight any weakness in your weather proofing.

About 2 hours into the trip home Mom hollers from the back ,” There’s water dripping from the roof!” Linda was driving so I jumped up to investigate. Sure enough water was dripping just between the cab and “living room”. I went back to the bedroom and grabbed some towels and sopped up the water.

Later investigation showed that the water was dripping directly under an external roof seam. Now the manufacturer does do a good job of minimizing roof seams. In fact there are only two – one where the front cap connects to the roof and one where the rear cap connects. There are also multiple holes for vents, sky lights and AC units and such. One of the pre season tasks I do is to inspect the sealant around the roof penetrations and apply more sealant as needed. After last years trip I made a mental note to remove and replace ALL the sealant in the next year or two. Well it should have have been done sooner I guess.

Word to the wise. If seam sealant has been painted over, remove sealant and replace as soon as possible! Part of this seam had been painted to match the color of the front cap. However, the paint may have hid the true condition of  the sealant. So what looked good was not.

In other news, Linda has been planning and revising and revising the next trip! I think there are alternate versions as well. We have also been doing some projects on the RV. Nothing major, just little things to make day to day RV life better. I think I’ll write a post on some of those later, with pictures!

We have been organizing our stuff to take on this years trip. Linda is finding this to be very hard. We are planning to leave near the end of April and be traveling into September. Our longest trip yet! One problem with that is how much and of what type of clothes to bring. Ten sweaters and one pair of shorts or ten shorts and one sweater? Me, I have it easy, I have only one sweater!

I had started writing this post three week ago and the title is still true! Today April 10 and it only got up to 63 degrees (17.2 C). When will it stay warm?!

 

Hike Up Broad Mountain

BY Regis

Our last day on Cape Breton Island was fairly lazy. Cleaned up the RV a little, drove up the coast to check out some scenic overlooks, and most important, stopped at a little bakery/cafe Linda found on the way back from whale watching.

I got one of “those” looks from Linda after I ordered a sausage roll thing and THREE pastries. While Linda ordered, I went out to the car to keep Dart company as he was not allowed in the cafe and no outdoor seating. Linda came out shortly, bags of lunch filling her arms, and we headed back to the RV. It was a nice day and we sat outside to eat. I was unpacking the bags and sorting out dishes for each of us. There’s my sausage and three pastries, there’s Linda’s soup and salad, of course, but what’s this… THREE more pastries! And she was giving ME the look?!

It was all good and I even saved the brownie for later. After letting the lunch goodness settle for a couple of hours I thought it would be a good idea to go on a hike.

Just across the road was a trail up to the top of Broad Mountain. I grabbed the pack, some water, the camera and got on the bike to peddle over to the trail. As I was warning up during the first 100 meters or so, I found myself thinking about the nice smooth carriage roads of Acadia. This trail was rough, probably the roughest one so far. Most of the geology “up here” is granite rock with a very thin layer of dirt, well just dust really. Anything that needs roots to grow will need to send them out along the ground not down. This causes many roots to be exposed when a path is repeatedly walked on, as well as various sized granite rocks. Not smooth walking at all! At about the half way point there was a bench with a view point. It seems no matter the trail, there are always benches placed along the way.

Time for a break and to snap a picture. As I was putting the camera back into the pack, I remembered how, on this trip alone, we have missed several photo opportunities because the cameras where not readily in reach or we just didn’t bring them. Hiking with a camera in hand is not comfortable but if I’m going to turn a corner and surprise a moose, I want to snap the photo of the goofy look on the moose’s face as he watches an exhausted hiker fall backwards, down the hill, while snapping pictures.

Spruce grouse
Might be a Spruce Grouse

Well I didn’t see a moose but no more than 50 meters later I turned a corner and spied a bird in the trail. Camera at the ready I snapped away. The bird was wary but did not bolt. I got some shots but most were in shaded spots. Maybe Linda can work some Lightroom magic and make them usable. I continued to the top where I found some great views!

 

video from broad mountain

 

The views were great. I could stand in one spot and see Warren lake, which we hiked around with Dart. I could see the town of Ignoish, Broad Cove, the Keltic lodge, Middle head, our camp ground, and Smoky Cape. All of these places, we had spent time at and loved every minute. I wanted to stay longer but there was a brownie calling my name from the campground!

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Panoramic of Broad cove with Smokey Cape, Middle Head and Warren lake

On the way down, camera still at the ready in my hand, I ran into that same bird! The lighting was still bad, this time with the sun behind the bird. I slowly walked closer, snapping photos step by step. As I crept along the trail, the bird would keep a distance of about 1.5 meters. I crept closer, he would move away. This went on for about 5-6 meters, I would take a few steps, snapping photos and the bird would take a few steps until the trail widened a bit.

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Spruce Grouse? working it for the camera.

I think by this time the bird did not think of me as a threat and as the bird went wide right on the trail, I went wide left. The closest we got was just 1 meter between us and I was snapping photos all the way! Now with the light behind me and shining on the bird, I was hoping to get some very nice shots. Well they turned out ok, not NAT GEO stuff but we should be able to identify the bird.

The rest of the way down I started to worry. You see, Linda is the Photo editor and I was thinking I just ripped off 70-80 photos of ONE bird. Good thing I kept a brownie in reserve! As it turns out, a day later when she got a chance to download the pictures, I had taken over 200 shots of just that one bird!

As I write this, one of the things that occurs to me is that trips like this are make up of small, unforgettable moments. I will not remember all of this trip but I will remember this bird. I will remember carrying the kayaks across 50 meters of mud flats because of the tides. I will remember the crab we saw, on the same mud flat, making his way back to deeper water wearing a long piece of seaweed like a scarf. I can just hear him saying “don’t mind me, just a bit of seaweed floating on the tide”.

Another RV tank story Plus bugs!

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Looks like red oak to me!

We have written twice before about our “solution” to the bug problem, that was to purchase a screened tent room. By simply spending close to $200.00 (ca) and not even un-boxing it, it seems to have solved the problem. Until this morning. I was outside and in 15 minutes I was bitten 3 times and it is the first time I have even seen mosquitoes here. I have a theory.

Since we got to PEI, the wind has been blowing consistently from the same direction. It’s been blowing about 10-15 mph.  Yesterday was a calm day at only about 5 mph. Today, it’s blowing 15-20 mph and gusts to 25. My theory is that based on the direction of the wind, it has taken a couple of days to blow the mosquito population from New Brunswick to PEI.  Time to move?

Today was a RV cleanup day. Clean the floors, bathroom, dump the tanks, etc. My job is to empty the tanks, which is ok because I don’t clean very well anyway so it works out. The procedure is simple, ensure that one end of the drain hose is attached at the tank and the other end to the magical hole in the the ground where everything goes. Check! Pull open the main drain valve. Check. Open the black tank drain valve and let drain. Check! Close black tank valve… close black tank valve… CLOSE black tank valve! No check. The valve would not close!

Aside from cleanup day we were to create some video, you know fun stuff. I was to be getting some video of all the neat water life in the shallow waters, Crabs wearing seaweed scarfs, little shrimps, little crabs, you know cool stuff. But no, I’m going to be “plumber man”. Looks like it’s now an RV maintenance day. And the worst kind to boot.

I will spare you all the details, but considering what I was dealing with the potential for a very nasty job was very high indeed. Luck was on my side because of what the problem turned out to be.

A block of wood!  Yes, a block of wood, measuring 7 inches by 2 inches by 1.5 inches. (what are the odds that a block of wood, floating in the tank, would ever be oriented correctly to enter the drain?) Thankfully the drain pipe is 3 inches in diameter and the block was able to make it far enough to get most of the way past a 90 degree bend in the pipe and lodge part way in the valve.  Otherwise, it might have gotten stuck in an unreachable place.  Thankfully, the valve can be taken apart for maintenance/repair. However, I could only move the pipe pieces so far. I had to try multiple angles and positioning of the wood to find the correct way to “stretch” the opening enough to pry the block out.

I would like to think that it was an oversight, but having read many RV tales of things left in tanks during manufacture, I have to be believe it is just plain lack of pride, laziness, or lack of responsibility for a good job. If only these people would have to deal with the problems they create… Oh but I can only dream.

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All this red water was clear yesterday!

Oh yeah. The video we were going to get today. There is too much wind and wave action. The water is all murky – nothing to see there.  Maybe tomorrow.

OH CANADA!

Happy Canada day! 150 and doing well. If I had a good connection, I would include a musical interlude of “OH Canada”. (If anyone is so motivated please feel free to share a version in the comments below.)

Since we are in Canada for this great day we thought it appropriate to be like most other Canadians. We got the Maple Leaf and banners flying, Canadian beer chilling in the fridge, and fighting off the mosquitoes left and right!

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Dart not too happy about this!

I know, the mosquitoes are not unique to Canada but the farther north we go, the more there seems to be. We did see a porcupine fast asleep on the side of the boat rental shack next to the ICE machine. This guy was out cold and not about to move. Can you imagine him getting startled out of a deep sleep, quills “flying” everywhere!

 

 

Thank you

Just a short post to Say Thank you for reading. Since the start of this trip we have picked up many new viewers from around the world. I hope you find something of interesting as we continue to travel along.

Again, thank you for interest!

Fire tower hike

BY Regis

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heading to the fire tower

After hiking out to the coast near Cutler, see “Coastal Hike” at landrtravels.com, surprisingly I had some energy left. I set off to check out a hike to a fire tower near the campground. Now there is, in fact, a map of hikes in the area. However the details, like trail name, length, intersecting trails, (which, without trail names is pointless anyway) was sorely lacking.

Video clips can be seen by clicking HERE.

I could see the tower from a clearing near the campsite, so off I went, safe in the knowledge that there was a trail to the tower. I did in fact find a trail head, ominously, across the road from a small grave site.

The trail I started to follow was the cypress trail. Doesn’t sound like a trail to a fire tower, does it? So at a “juncture” where the cypress trail turned left and what looked like the remnants of a road went right, I had a decision to make. Now normal people would follow the trail, me, not so much, especially when a trail to a fire tower was named “cypress”. By my logic the tower would need a road, at least most of the way to the top. Follow the road it was!

With the general direction of “westish” and a definite direction of UP, off on the road I went leaving the cypress trail behind.

After several hundred yards, or more, the “road” narrowed a bit, well quite a bit. It was more a game trail at this point. Based on the size of the “game trail” I was THE biggest game to travel it and I made the trail a bit bigger. It also got soggy with lot of moss. If not careful the next step would be knee deep.

Now what? Go back? Oh Please… not going to happen. Next choice, turn uphill. As seen in the video the first hill was a bust. No tower on it, so carry on.

Farther on I intersected a trail. It turns out to to be… wait for it…. the CYPRESS trail! Oh what a slog!

I followed the cypress trail the rest of the way to the tower and oh what a sight!

Now I don’t remember the exact term used but, “you can hike to the top of the fire tower” rings in my ears. Looking at the tower I wonder how, or why, it is still standing. The Tower seems to be about 60 feet tall, with four sets of stairs. The base set of stairs has either been blown over by the wind or deliberately set askew (fallen over) to prevent use. Farther up I see very sketchy stairs and even sketchier top platform. The tower is also anchored by four guy wires, one of which is laying useless on the ground.

The good news is there are solar panels and a radio antenna on the top. Somebody is using this thing.

Now Its been quite some time since I’ve climbed/scaled a tower. I’m thinking forty years? Hell its only 15 feet to the first set of useable stairs. Even the first ten feet are on the blown over stairs. Thats only about 5 feet of real climbing. I think that was the hardest 5 feet I have climbed in my life!

Most of the rest was ok. Toward the top, with closer inspection, the wood was very weathered. And what was I saying about the tower being used? At about the 45 foot mark a very large battery was left there. It was an AGM and about 80-90 pounds, didn’t look too old either.

Once at the top a look around revealed that this setup was NOT being used. The antenna was fine however ALL the electronics were in a large plastic tub, With the lid off on the “floor” and no glass in the window frames the tub had about 3 inches of water. I would be very surprised if it worked at all.

I don’t know how this could have been used as a fire tower. The top space was about 6×6 foot square. not much room for anything really. Maybe only used to go up and pin point a fire and not keep a watch.

Here are some pic from the top.

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0626 View 3 (1 of 1)

 

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On the way down I followed the cypress trail ALL the way and it was a bit shorter to the campsite.