Epistle Three

       More of the silliness from us ....

Last episode we left you, on pins and needles I'm sure, in Sault Ste. Marie wondering how the RV Gods will get us next time.  Well.... they did and we still survived.  Read on gentle readers ... for what it is worth ....

We left The Soo on Saturday the 21st of September.  This area of Canada should be sold off to the highest (or anyone crazy person who wants it) bidder.  Miles and miles of nothing!  It just continues, and you develop an understanding of what the Ancient Mariner went through.  Tho .... we did not have a dead albatross on the front of the Folly ... just a ton of Saskatchewan bugs augmented by whatever little beggars that Northern Ontario could throw at us. Suffice it to say, we eventually made it to our next stop which was North Bay.  We were almost approaching civilization here, and found the campsite to be quite nice.  But, it was a challenge to find.  It turned out to be at the end of a residential street that made driving the Folly quite fun as we dodged parked cars, kids playing and dogs barking.  Sweet suburbia ... a nice change from the nothingness of Northern Ontario.

The site was reasonably well kept and typical of the private sites we have stayed in.  The major difference was that the fellow who ran the place had just bought it this July 1st.  The description of the campground included the comment that there was an internet access available.  The problem was that it was located in his store area ... chocolate bars, pop, ice etc.  He really did not understand computers and got quite bored as I was waiting for Elsie's computer to boot up and then change the settings to include the phone number of the local access provider.  As only he and I were there, he must have decided that he liked me.  Out poured his life story.  He was a CP worker who was severely injured on a job and had to retire from the company.  Instead of taking  a settlement, he opted for a lifetime pension.  He then purchased a convenience store somewhere else in Ontario and ran that for 7 years.  He then decided that 24 hours a day and 7 days a week was not fun so he up and sold that.  He purchased the RV Park and seemed to need reassuring that he had done the correct thing. If you wish to know how much he bought his store for, how much he sold it for, and how much he paid for the RV site just ask.  Oh yeah, if you want to know about his 3 daughters, just ask.  Eventually, he got bored waiting for me, and he left me sitting there among all the goodies and next to his cash register.  Surprisingly, he is typical of the people you run into in these parks.  They trust you with everything, and treat you like a real human being.  Just how I will re-assimilate into the North Van ... "I don't trust anyone, and I have a better security system on my house than you do" philosophy  ....I don't know.  As you drive around the parks, you see everything just left out on the site with nobody around.  Nothing, it seems, goes for a walk.  Different people or  ... same people with different expectations????  It will be interesting how all this works out in the Excited States.

As we were leaving the next AM, we didn't unhitch the Folly.  That night after dinner, we went for a walk to the little park next to the site.  The whole deal is on Lake Nipissing, and the park was very nicely kept by the City.  There was a cairn with a beaver on top that I took pictures of for later use. (see pictures)  Somehow it will come in handy, I think.  The end of the park had a boat launch and there were a Polish (?) family there fishing.  The father had caught a 8 to 10 pound northern pike, and he was not looking forward to eating it I think.  Apparently, they are very bony and dry.  He had two kids, and they were excited about the whole deal, but somehow he just looked a little tired....

The next day, Sunday, we left for the run into Ottawa ( or as most intelligent Canadians call it ... "Sodom on the Canal").  The drive was an easy one, but once again the RV gods got involved.  The instructions to the campsite said that we were to follow highway 31.  So, we found the turn off the Trans Canada and started along a business section type of road.  We then lost the highway 31 signs, but Elsie remained calm as "the book" said that it was on Bank Street which eventually turned into Metcalf Street.  Well, it was Bank all right but that is were it ended…. No Metcalf signs at all.  We were fighting our way along at around 2:00, and the traffic was getting heavier.  Fortunately, I found that the drivers in Ottawa seem to be quite gentle and there was little panic.  But time went on and Elsie was getting more tense.   Where the hell are we? ... was the constant chant.  But, as usual, Elsie triumphed, and we literally stumbled over the park.  It was in the Greely suburb of Ottawa.

We pulled in and the old guy who ran it mentioned, to our query about the rotten signage, that last year the Capital Commission had spent millions having all the signs translated into French.  They took down the highway 31 signs and then "lost" the Metcalf signs as well.  They had kept the Bank street name.  He said that he had contacted all the local politicians and got absolutely nowhere with them.  He, rather darkly mentioned, that this translating os road signage would never have happened in Quebec.  There were little interest in having anything English on their road signs.

On talking to various people as we go across this country, this is one thing that I am really noticing.  The comments about immigration and the favouring of the Frogs just flow out.  There seems to be very little patience with the Feds and their policies.  Maybe there is hope for the future after all eh?  After we got the Folly set up, I ran into a guy who had his 5th wheel behind us.  It turned out that he was from Quebec (Montreal I think) and he was using this park as his home park.  His big concern was the immigration policies that the Liberals have.  I asked him what was the alternative and, he as most Canadians say, … sadly there is no alternative. What are we going to do?  Crouton seems to be universally hated.

We called my cousin on my mother's side, Lori Fry, who had just moved to Ottawa from Halifax in July.  I hadn't see her since the late 70's and had never met her husband, Don.  More importantly, Barley and hops had never met their cousins, Lindsay and Mocha.  A visit had to be in the cards.  We made arrangements to meet on Monday night for dinner.  It was something that we were really looking forward to.  But, more mundane things were also pressing.  We had developed a leak in the toilet area of the Folly and had to make arrangements to visit the local Titanium dealer to see if this could be rectified.  We also wanted to wander around "Sodom on the Canal' to see just how our tax dollars were being spent.  So, the plans for Monday were made and Tuesday at 9:00 AM, we were to attempt to find VOS Trailers in Stittsville, a suburb of Sodom. Hopefully, we thought that they could find and fix the leak very quickly and we then could head towards Quebec City.  Time is pressing as the campsites do close around the 15th of October.

Monday was fun ....

The trip into Ottawa was easy and we had to drive past the area that Elsie had lived in when she had worked here lo these many years ago.  She didn't seem too interested in stopping and looking around the old neighbourhood so we pressed on to town.  (We had visited that area in ’94 she said)  Believe it or not, we got a parking place at the end of a block (so I can back in easily) right in the middle of the Bytown market.  We left the truck and had only walked several feet when we looked up and saw the sign for Fairway Traders, the business owned by Liza Guy’s brother.  We went in and said "hello" and met her brother and his wife.  They recommended a Dim Sum spot, Palais International where they claimed that Crouton and the idiot Gov. Gen. eat.  We went there; the food was good, and the prices were high.  $50.00 for lunch was a tad high for us as we are used to Vancouver prices.

We headed up to Parliament Hill, where I was hoping to see Crouton. I had my comment ready … “RESIGN you son of a bitch …. You are a THIEF”! But, fortunately for Elsie and probably for me as
well, we saw no one so my bleat went unused.  One good thing happened though … on the way back to the car (we had 2 hours of parking for only $4.00 ) we passed the stalls in the Market and bought a huge cauliflower and two huge pieces of broccoli for 1.00 each.  We now have enough veggie now to last us a very long time.

We washed the Folly' front on our return from visiting Sodom, and then headed for our dinner date with Lori and Don.  We met Lori as we drove along the road to her place.  She was out walking her dogs.  I would have recognized her anywhere.  She hadn't changed a bit since last time I saw her.  She still looks like she is 20 years old.  It turned out that Barley and Hops got along quite well with Mocha and Lindsay.  In fact, Hops was treating Mocha like Barley treats her when she doesn't want to play.  There is a bully side to her after all...  It sure was pleasant to catch up on the lost years, the forgotten relatives, and meet Don as we had heard so very much abut him from Mom.  It was an extremely enjoyable evening and was over far too soon.  We did have to get up early to take the Folly for repair and Don had to go to work.  I really don't know what that word means anymore, but I'm sure that Don does.  So, we bid them good bye headed back to the Folly.  Hops could not understand why we were leaving her new playmate there, but I don't think that the "Fry Pack" would appreciate being broken up.

The next morning we had to be up and moving very early as our appointment with VOS was at 9:00 and we had to find it.  As usual, Elsie did a superb job and we were even a little early.  The drive there, on the back roads of course, was a good example of bucolic Ontario at its best mixed with a very good smattering of huge homes of the fart catchers of Ottawa and their civil service.  There are some huge sub divisions going in and is a good example that the civil service is ever expanding I guess!

We got there and the fellow, Gord, had a look and decided that it was not a leak in the roof, thank god, but only the toilet not seating itself correctly.  He played around with it and tightened things up.  Guess what; it is supposed to hold water in the bottom of the bowl.  This is something that it has never done, and I was a little suspicious about it when we first used the damn thing.  He showed me how to tighten it up if it continues to leak, but if it does, I think that I will demand a new toilette on our return to Vancouver.  The top is ceramic and the bottom is plastic, and that is the problem as the two materials never fit well together.  Add to this the salient fact that the room is only about 3 x 3 and it is very hard to sit down directly.  The temptation is to sit down and then squiggle over after.    The room being so small makes any movement (no pun intended … in fact no puns were intended in all this last discussion about the toilette).  One good thing about this is that our legs will sure get stronger as the trip goes on or we will literally be “full of sh*t”.

He had a look at the Folly and mentioned that we had the polar package which they never order and the double glazed windows.  The prices for these 5th wheels are about the same in both east and west.  He did mention that I should have them re caulk the bottom molding on the sewer side when I get home to Vancouver.  All this took only an hour, but he still managed to charge us and the manufacturer Glendale.  He said that Glendale often argued with them over the labour costs and then paid a reduced rate to them.  The cost was 35.00, but with all the other details he mentioned, I felt it was worth it.

For example, I was always wondering abut the fresh water tank, and just how did I empty it before going anywhere.  Eighty gallons of fresh water would weigh about 300 lbs so it would be a concern and make a real dent in our gas mileage.  On the side of the Folly is the “city water” connection.  I have been connecting the hose from the water tap, from the park site, to where it connected on the Folly.  Beside that connection is another one that has only a hole to pour water in.  He explained that to get a full fresh water tank, I would have to use that “hole” and fill up the 80 gallons.  The tank is located between Folly’s wheels.  To empty it, there is a tap underneath.  In effect what I had been doing, lo these many weeks, is to run the fresh water off the city water tap.  No water is being kept on board.  That explains why when I ask Elsie to drain the water when I am emptying the grey water, it only takes several minutes to have the kitchen tap start to sputter.  We were only emptying the lines from the hose connection to the pump and to the taps themselves.  So, if we were to go dry camping, we would have to fill up the fresh water tank separately.  The hot water tank feeds off the fresh water so we always will have 10 gallons of hot water onboard.

Another thing I learned is the TV antennae must always have the two triangles on the plate inside matched when putting it down.  That way the head of the unit is always facing the rear and does not attempt to collapse on the railing up there and bend.  So many things to learn ….

So, by 10:30 we were on the road from Stittsville heading toward Quebec City.  From our campground book of sites, we had chosen a KOA in Quebec City mainly to see if our experience in Sault Ste. Marie KOA would be replicated.  Would we be thrown out again for some huge convoy from the States?  This time the RV Gods must have been paying attention to some other poor slob and let us luck into a gorgeous spot.  The campground was huge with lots and lots of pull throughs.  I am, I must admit, getting more and more confident with backing up the Folly.  In Kenora, it only took me 15 minutes of pure "pleasure" to fit the Folly into a back in site.  And yes, after all was said and done, the Folly parked, Elsie and I were still talking to one another.  One day, I will be really put to the test and have to make a complicated back in.  Till then, .... there are pull throughs. 

The Quebec KOA was, as I said, very, very nice.  By 6:00 in the evening, there must have been 50 units in there with most of them being A Class Diesel pushers.  The median value of these beasts is probably 500,000 cdn.  If you do the math, there are a lot of people with a lot of money.  I guess that it is similiar to having a row boat in a marina and watching the huge yachts sail in.  There but for the grace of God .....  But, speaking of God ... the RV Gods noticed that we were in a nice place and were very contented.  In fact we were sitting in the "Herold" chairs and were sipping our post driving Gin and Tonics when they decided to get even.  Elise mentioned that her headache had gotten worse and that she was going inside for an aspirin.  I began to get dinner ready and Elsie began to sink rapidly.  The first thing I realized is that she was on her way to bed with a heavy shirt on and was threatening to be sick.  My beautiful pork chop dinner was sitting ready to be consumed.  So, like the caring guy I am, I helped her into bed and sat down to enjoy my repast.  I must mention here that I did save Elsie 1/2 the bottle of wine in case she got up and was hungry.  In fact, I even packed her meal into a plastic container and put it in the fridge just in case.  By 9:30 I was dead tired and Elsie was snoring in bed so it fell to me to take the puppies on their late night "squirt and squeeze" and once again I found new respect for Elsie.  Just how do you control those two on their leashes when one wants to go one way, and the other one wants to go in the opposite direction?  The leashes constantly are tangled up in their legs and Hops, snorting like hell, was peeing all over her leash.  I sure do not want to do this again.

On returning to the Folly just a little put out with the dogs, I had the temerity to suggest that since she felt cold, we close the window that she constantly demands to be open to allow fresh air.  The response from her is not fit to be recorded here.  Suffice it to say the window remained open all night and in the morning, fortunately, Elsie was back to her usual fighting weight and feeling like normal.  The power of the RV Gods is not to be doubted.  Since we both had so much fun that night, we decided to have a low key day and just sit in the Folly and relax.  We have been pushing pretty hard because of the Campsite closing deadlines that we both needed some recuperation time.  Driving the Folly is getting easier for me, but it still is pretty stressful.  It is similar to the feeling I used to have during one of Ozzie's rugby practices.  After running till you wanted to drop, he always divided everyone up into groups of two and had you do wind sprints with the other person holding on the the back of your shorts.  Your legs go like hell; you are puffing like an old steam engine, but you are getting nowhere fast.  The distance covered given the energy consumed never seemed equal.  I suppose that I will get more used to it .....

Early Thursday morning, 7:45 the earliest yet,  we left Quebec City bound for Florenceville NB.  The drive was to be around 4 to 5 hours over nice highways.  But, again the RV Gods ....

When we got to the campsite selected in Florenceville at 1:00, there was no one around to check in with and a note said, "pick a spot.  we will return at 5:00".  We wondered around the park on foot looking for somewhere to park the Folly but could not find  a level site that would take the size.  It was too bad as the site was on the Saint John River and was indeed beautiful.  We decided to forget that place and go to the other site in town.  We got there and found that all the sites were pull throughs, all were grass covered and all had lots of trees for shade.  Initially, there was no one there to sign in with, but just as we were sitting in the truck a guy walked up.  Sure enough, he was the owner so we got out of the truck to talk to him.  Boy, the RV Gods must have been laughing at this one!  The first thing I noticed was that there was no one else in the site!  Then, when I opened my mouth to mention this to him, the attack of the black flies occurred.  You could not take a breath without a free New Brunswickian meal.  His comment was that they were only black flies and they were not a bother.  To him maybe ....  Then he dropped the other shoe.  Conversationally, he mentioned the little holes all around the site.  Skunks, he said.  They were digging for roots and that we had better watch the dogs at night.  Well, the combination of the flies and skunk potential was enough for me.  I could just picture the two of us, sitting in the truck for long hours, smelling the results of Barley or Hops chance encounter with a perfumed little beast.  YECH.  I think that we probably set the record for leaving a site!  The only other alternative was to continue through to Saint John which was another 250 kms.  This was a very long day of driving!!!!

We finally found the campsite in Saint John after stopping in a gas station to ask directions.  A couple in a pick up truck from Alberta stopped because they realized we were lost.  Their directions, along with the gas station attendant's help were enough to get us to the site.  It is beside Rockwood Park (a Stanley Park like spot) and was OK.  The sites were gravel, but only two of the pull throughs had sewer connections.  They were already taken, of course, by the time we got there.  We were dead tired so the thought of a back in site did not amuse us.  We took the pull through and set up the Folly.  Without a sewer connection, we are limited to 2 or 3 days of camping before we have to empty the "grey" water.  That is water from the sink and shower.  It is inconvenient as hell to have to hook up the truck, pack everything away, and drive 100 meters  to the sani dump to empty the tanks.  Being in one of the sites with no sewer, the temptation is to head back to the road on once everything is packed up for the run to the sani dump. Result, our stay in Saint John would be limited to two days..  Elsie's niece, Kristin, is living and working in Saint John so we were looking forward to see her and meet Ian.

We phoned them and Kristin invited us to a pizza dinner Friday night.  WoW ... pizza on Friday night ... we hadn't done that ritual since we pulled up stakes in Vancouver.  This gave us the opportunity to wander around Saint John during the day and then head to their place that evening.  Kristin must be getting a little weary of having relatives drop in.  She has been living in Saint John for 10 months and saw no one.  This month, she had her Mom, Mieke, and Jim drop in, then her Dad, AL, and Debbie and now us.  In fact, Al and Debbie were still in the Maritimes and just returned to Saint John that day from a "run around" the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia.  It was a "full house" that night for the Pizza, and we certainly had a good time. It is ironic that Al and Debbie live in Vancouver, but we only see them after driving 4000 kms. across Canada.  It is neat to see that the "youngsters" have set themselves up so comfortably in Saint John.  The RV Gods must have noticed us having a good time because they once again intervened.

On the way back to the Folly, it started to rain.  Oh well we thought ... this is not Vancouver; we don't need Moses to part the rain soaked St John river.  One quick rain shower and then back to the
sun again.  Right ...?  Wrong!  By the time we got "home' it had started to rain hard.  Within 20 minutes, it was teeming down.  This time frame coincided with the Puppies last squirt and squeeze for the evening.  By the time Elsie got back with them, they looked like drowned rats - the dogs that is!  All night it just poured.  It sounded like that monsoon rain storm we ran into in Thailand.  As the two days were up for our grey water filling, we were planning to head south to St. Andrews the next day.  All night, we heard the rain pour.  The noise on the fiberglass roof was enough to keep us awake worrying about getting up and finding ourselves being washed down the Saint John River.  At 6:00 when Elsie gets up for the early "squirt and squeeze", it was still raining hard so once again everything was damp and humid in the Folly.  Here the fireplace came into real use!  It is run on electricity so we do not have to pay for the heat.  The furnace runs off propane which is our expense.  Slowly, the place dried out and the rain stopped.  By 11:00 it was not raining, and even the huge puddles were starting to dry up.  We decided to head towards Str. Andrews by the Sea which was only 1 1/2 hours south. 

When we first visited here in '94, we fell in love with this area and this trip is no different.  By the time we got here, the sun was shining brightly and there was not a cloud in the sky.  The site we had picked from "the Book" was easy to find, but once again there was no one to sign us in.  This time though, there was a map of the area which clearly showed us where we could "dock" the Folly.  This place is fantastic!  It is located on the shore of the mouth of the St Croix River.  The site drops down from a level upper campsite location to a lower, on the water, series of campsites.  Many of these are "seasonal" and have trailers on them full time, but one site is INCREDIBLE.  It is only really available to Motor homes and not trailers as the back in would challenge a saint.  There as a motor home on it when we got there ... imagine ... parked up on a little rise with the entire door side open to the sun, and beach.  "It don't get no better than that".  We chose to setup on the upper part beside some beautiful trees and with a grassy "field" on our door side.  This is NICE.  Because it is off season for the site, the price was only 16.00 per night, and they trusted you to drop the money in an envelope through the door of the office which was now closed for the season.  It will be indeed hard to leave this site.

In St. Andrews we found an Internet cafe from where we shall send this epistle this afternoon (Monday, Sept30).  We will probably leave here on Wednesday or Thursday and head into the Excited States. I hope the damn trees hurry up and start to change.  I'm getting impatient, and we are still up against the Oct 15th deadline many of the campsites have.  Oh well, Maine can be beautiful and there are still Lobsters to be had!!!

Well, we will head into St Andrews now and have look through the shops after we send this edition of the "epistle".  I just re read it and it sure is jumbled and runs on and on!!  Sorry bout that!!

I wonder what the RV Gods have in mind for us after this pleasant interlude .... stay tuned

Joe, Elsie, Barley, and Hops --  away 1 month and still loving it!


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