We left Whatcom Meadows on Wednesday, August 20th, 2003 Well they are at it again! Those Gods are out to get us for sure this time. We just spent three days in Dog Patch preparing Harvey for his trans-continental jaunt. The larder is full, Harvey is glistening, everything looks up for our departure. We even had a sufficient amount of booze on board – single malt variety – that we figure we could survive any stressful moment that we might encounter on our up coming epic voyage. I'm surprised we didn't hear the Gods laughing at just how cocky we have become.

The day before we left with Harvey just sitting there glistening, Elsie and I re-packed all the bottom bays. We placed all the things we figured we’d need immediately close to the outside, and we marveled at the empty space that we had produced by doing this. Thoughts of souvenir purchasing were racing through our minds as we looked at all the space we had now created. Hey, we even have room to store one of those massive wood carvings that they sell at every curve at the road in the Gaspe. Are we ready for this trip? We thought so…..

As we so carefully stacked all those objects in the bin below the passenger seat we did not realize (chuckle chuckle …. those damn Gods are at it again) that there is a little lever sticking straight down from the motor that controls the slide.  This gizmo must not be touched! Guess what? We touched it!

So, the morning came; we are ready to leave, and we were excited. As a finishing touch, Harvey needed gas and propane. Fortunately, there was a gas station just at the end of the road in Alger just before we hit the I 5. The plan was to hit the I5, turn south, go to Seattle, turn east, and keep on truckin.

So, we headed out; drove the 5 miles to the Alger Shell station and pulled in to fill up. When I got out to begin to top up the tank. I  noticed something very peculiar. The slide, on the passenger side, was sticking out about two inches. Now this was definitely not supposed to happen! This meant either that the slide motor was gone…. the mechanism needed adjustment…. or Harvey was saying he didn’t want to go anywhere. Well, after thinking about it for awhile and pulling the slide back in, we thought (hoped) that this just might be a momentary aberration. As a result, with brave hearts and with a full gas and propane tanks we set out.

Our first stop was just after Seattle. Guess what? The slide was sticking out again. Oh joy! Oh  bliss! Oh rapture! What can we do? If we continue this way and we hit dust or rain it could be a real mess. On top of all this, the weather outside was HOT!  Harvey comes complete with a dash air conditioning as well as a coach air conditioner.  The basic idea is to drive with the dash air on, and then when camped, switch to the coach A/C.  Unfortunately, the dash air was losing some of its cooling powers. Our stop that night was to be Spokane, and we thought we would just stop in at a National Dealer and have them look at our problems. Off we went buoyed with the thought that the road to Spokane was relatively dust free and blue sky presaged no rain. There was even a KOA in Spokane where we could stay while Harvey is being looked at. About 2 o’clock we pulled in and set up. Off  I go to the phone…..

A National Warranty is supposed to be national, but I think the company “National” is playing games because the warranty may be a “National Warranty” but it is certainly not national. The National dealer in Spokane was too busy to be able to help us for at least 2 weeks. This did not make me happy! That night with the air conditioners roaring we got the heat down in Harvey to bearable levels. On going to bed that night we find that the light over the bathroom sink no longer functions. Brushing your teeth a matter of blind faith (haven’t those damn Gods done enough to us….?).

Up at 6:00am, breakfast over by 7:00, Harvey ready to move, I get on the phone to customer service people at National in California. After much clucking of the tongue, Leo, customer service jerk, was as upset as I at the cavalier attitude of the Spokane dealer. He did give me the names of several dealers in the east where I could make an appointment now for the time when we would arrive there. Well, we thought the roads are paved and the weather is as hot as hell, we should be able to make the cross country jaunt with the slide protruding several inches. I called ahead to one dealer after another, from the list Leo gave me, attempting to make an appointment for the warranty work when we got there. Guess what? All of them said that they were too busy to work on anything but their own customers’ RVs. One SOB even went as far as saying that they only work on rigs purchased from other National dealers on the 1st and 15th of each month. As the 1st of September is Labour Day and the 15th of September was fully booked, he was quite happy to make an appointment for us on the 1st of October. He did receive a small sampling of my sharp tongue before I hung up in the lout's ear. By this time it is 8:00 in the morning, and I have been on the phone for over an hour. In absolute desperation I called Fraserway in Abbotsford where we purchased Harvey. Oh, I forgot to mention that when getting up that morning the light over the bathroom sink now works. Elsie immediately wanted to locate the local priest to exorcise the electrical demons from Harvey. It was a good thing that we did not have the telephone number of the local Catholic church, or we might just have done that. But, back to the phone calls…..

At Fraserway I got in touch with Jason, one of the more intelligent service people there. When I told him I had contacted 6 or 7 National dealers who were not able, or just did not want to help us, he claimed to be surprised although I could just picture in my mind him shrugging. I think that he was not that surprised, but I did resist asking him what Fraserway's policy for traveling National Products. He did suggest that we check the slide motor that was at the top of the bin that Elsie and I had so carefully organized 2 days before. He mentioned that there was a clutch switch some where on each of the slide motors that was supposed to connect or disconnect the brake on the slide. He asked had we checked that. My answer, albeit quite terse, was … is there a slide motor??  He assured me there was, so as I was waiting for him to contact National for a resolution for all this, Elsie and I went back to Harvey, opened the bin door where we had been working so carefully, and tried to find the elusive slide motor complete with clutch switch. Picture this, Elsie flat on her back, head and torso into the hatch, legs sticking out, flashlight in hand, searching and searching and searching. Gee, Joe, she says, there is this little thing on this post at the very top of the bin that has something sticking down that appears to say, engage in one position and disengage in the other. Could this be what we are looking for? Hmmm says I, it sounds like it might be a better answer then setting fire to the whole damn thing. Maybe we should check the other slide motors to see where the switch is set for them. So, poor Elsie goes around to the other bins that contain slide motors and goes through her contortions to get in to look. You know, of course, that I would have gladly done it, but had I got down on my back that low to the ground and that far into Harvey, it would take 6 small men and a dog to extricate me. So the tough jobs always fall to Elsie (Heh, heh).

Lo and behold, the clutch switch on the slide where we were having problems was in the disengage position and all other switches were in the engage position. It must have been that last damn stack of paper towels – we got a whole slug of them on sale so we really loaded up – that hit that switch when we were so carefully cramming them in. Well, one problem solved, so we decided the hell with all the dealers we would continue our eastward saga. 10 o’clock we finally hit the road. Two hours late and our patience sorely tried.

Our next destination was to be Butte, Montana approximately 320 miles up the road. Our original aim was to cover 500 miles a day but given our late start and current emotional state this would probably all we could handle. For the first time, we were aiming to take advantage of that great American RV freebie, a deluxe overnight spot in a Wal-Mart parking lot, so off we went.

As the miles passed under Harvey’s wheels we began to notice several things: the view was slowly disappearing as we were slowly surrounded by a thick covering of forest-fire smoke; the weather was getting hotter and hotter, and the dash air-conditioning in Harvey was at best slightly cool even at the maximum settings. The Gods are at it again. The further we head east the thicker the smoke grows caused by all the forest fires from BC south.  In places it was getting to be as thick as a "LONDON OLD PECULIAR". The last time my throat felt this abused was during a visit to London, England just before they outlawed home based coal fires. With sore throats like this, it’s a good thing Elsie and I don’t talk too much????

By 4:30pm we were in Butte, Montana’s Wal-Mart parking lot taking up a dozen parking stalls. We were amazed when we got there to find four or five other rigs similarly stationed. It doesn't get any more handy then this though, as we only had to walk a hundred yards to find fresh produce for dinner. We had a spectacular BBQ chicken, fresh salad with avocado, and a bottle of cold, imported, Italian wine. We quickly renamed the parking lot “Chez Sam” after the founder of Wal-Mart, Sam Wall.. As we ate we noticed more and more rigs, buses, 5th-wheels and trailers arriving. This was looking like quite a party. Sure enough, just like any campsite, there was somebody wandering around the assembled rigs complete with his sign that he wishes to talk – a glass of red wine – in hand. By ten o’clock that night there were about 20 rigs assembled.   This would be enough to completely fill any small private campsite. Geez, those owners must be pretty chuffed at Wal-Mart when they think of their lost revenue. By this time though,  the smoke had cleared and it was a pretty nice night.  But guess what?   That damn light over the sink had gone out again. Now, maybe the exorcist…..?

Our next destination was to be Glendive, Montana about 440 miles east. At this point, I should mention that Harvey is a “true gentleman of the road” and is very easy to drive. I can say this of course, as we are now on the bald prairie, and the only concern a driver has is to keep between the white lines and make the odd turn as required. Speed is controlled by the cruise control, and Harvey seems to like to lumber along between and 60 and 65 mph (Yeah, yeah, I know, for you Canadian metric lovers, 100 to 105 kms). The only difficulty is interior temperature.

With Harvey’s dash air barely operable, the temperature inside began to rise as the day wore on.Quickly, we found that when the temperature outside is 103F (41C) the dash air-conditioning became a joke. Now you guys know what Elsie is like; she’s been sitting for miles with nothing to do as there were no small roads she could get me on, so she began to obsess on the condition of the dogs. “OH GAWD, Hopsie is panting; Barley too has his tongue out trying to keep cool.” Yeah, right. I tried to tell her that dogs pant when they are warm, but it was to no avail. Back she goes to the sink getting wet towels, and returning to her seat grabs, the nearest hound, wraps him in the towel, and safely ensconces the animal on her lap. It was interesting to note, although I didn’t say anything to Elsie at the time, that I noticed she equally divided "wet towel time" between each dog. Somehow though they, and we, survived the heat and made it to Glendive where we had decided to stay at a campsite in which we could use both coach A/C.’s.

When we arrived the temperature outside was 100F and the temperature inside was 94F. Thank goodness the coach A/C works well – touch wood – and we quickly wrestled the temperature under control. Another good thing is that the fridge is staying very cold! I bet you can guess how long it took me to drain the first beer.

After an uneventful night with no bathroom light, we arose as usual at 6:00am and hit the road for Grand Forks, North Dakota. The weather continued to be VERY Hot and we were like rag dolls when we hit the Wal-Mart.  The outside temperature was over 100 and we quickly learned two things about staying over night at Chez Sams: in order to run the coach A/C without shore power, you must run the generator full time which not only depletes the diesel fuel, but it makes a racket outside.  By 10:00 it was still over 90 outside, but we gave in and finally turned off the generator.  The other thing we learned about Chez Sams is that they are not all created equal.  Unless they are a Super Sams, they will not have food in them.  So, expecting to find a full meal there and eating it in cool comfort is not always guaranteed.  We sweated a lot that night on empty stomachs ….

We did make the decision though to enter Canada at Sault Ste Marie and then head east through Sudbury to Ottawa and then on to the Maritimes.  I was hoping that at Sault Ste Marie with all their logging trucks and the semi-trailer trucks passing through, I could find a Freightliner Dealer who might be able to fix the air conditioning problem.  One can only be a martyr  for so long ….

So, the next morning off we go … very early … to head to a campsite called Michigamme Shores near Champion in upstate Michigan.  There we would be only a couple of hours south of Sault Ste Marie, and we could hook up the coach A/C and cool down at night.  After 10 or 11 hours of driving, we arrived at a very very nice spot right on Lake Michigamme.  It was so nice in fact that we decided to spend 2 nights.  We phoned ahead to the Freightliner Dealer in the Soo and sure enough, he was able to book us in on the Tuesday Aug 26th  at 1:00 PM.  We had a very relaxing day in Michigamme Shores girding our loins so to speak, for the run up to Canada and Harvey's appointment.  We had already "OKed" this with National to allow Freightliner to do the warranty work.  We would have to pay them, and then National will reimburse us when we arrive there in Dec.  I fear that with the way things are going, this will not be the only bill I will be presenting to them with in December.

The run up to Canada was uneventful, and we did arrive at the dealer on time. To make a verrrrry verrrrry looong story short, after many calls to National, many hours of work and puzzlement by the mechanic, it turned out that not only did we have a leak in the air conditioning lines that was simple to fix, we also had a heat conditioner pump that was installed backwards ... not so easy to fix.  But, by 7:00 PM we were finished and could head to the campsite we booked earlier.  We stayed one more night in the Soo to recover and then headed east to Ottawa.

The roads in Ontario have not improved!!!  After driving through the US and enjoying their 4 lane roads that are very well kept up, the Trans Canada is a disgrace!  Most of the way, it is 2 lanes complete with frost heaves.  We will never drive across Canada again.  The only way is to head east through the US and then head north to the spot you want to visit in Canada.  That road is a national disgrace!

I was going to start a rant here about gas price differences between the two countries, but what is the use?  After you do the metric conversion and figure in the currency differences, you find that you are paying about 55 cents Cdn for a litre of diesel in the US.  Here in Canada, we are paying anything from 68 cents to 75 cents.  When you figure that our tank in Harvey holds over 370 litres,  a 20 cent a litre difference sure adds up quickly.

After an 11 hour dash through Ontario we arrived in Ottawa at our campsite totally exhausted.  Not because of the lack of A/C … it has cooled down sufficiently not to require A/C … just figures eh … and not because of problems with Harvey.  The exhaustion comes from arriving in Ottawa right at rush hour.  We were coming in from the north, and our campsite was in the south, on the way to Montreal.  We figured that this would make our next travel day easier.  Now, we have driven in all different cities at rush hour.  L A, Sacramento, Seattle, Portland, Vancouver etc but I have never seen such an example of “CupCake” driving anywhere like Ottawa.  It took us the better part of two hours to get from the north to the south east of the city.  You guys know me and you can just guess the language and horn use that was employed.  Boy, does the air horn on the top of Harvey have “gravitas”!!!  People do jump ……

For those of you who followed our gambits last year, you will recall that we have cousins who live in Ottawa, Lori and Don Fry, and you might also remember the fight we had in the restaurant over who would pay the bill.  Well, that year Lori won, and this time we were determined that we would pay.  So, we called them.  We had known that they were moving in August, but I had got it in my mind that moving day was mid month.  As it turned out, moving day was the day we called, and they had just got into their new home.  We did not let that deter us … we insisted that we take them out for dinner.  They did mention that they were just a tad tired so we only spent a little time at their new abode getting the “nickel tour”.  Another bit of news they gave us was that Lori's parents, Jack and Marilyn, would be arriving from Lindsay, in south Ontario, the next day.  We had not seen them since the mid 90’s when Elsie and I met up with my Mom and joined them at their summer cabin.  Quickly, the decision was made to spend another day in the Ottawa area.

The next night, we enjoyed dinner with Jack and Marilyn at Lori and Don’s new house.  I was amazed at just how quickly they had unpacked and were ready to have 6 people for dinner.  It was fun catching up with family gossip, and the evening went far too quickly.  I should mention here, that Jack is a retired school administrator … you all know the love I hold for that particular breed of cat, but somehow Jack is more a Teacher than a bureaucrat, so it was fun comparing the disgusting condition of education in Ontario with the terrible conditions in BC.  I just wonder when the taxpayers in both Provinces will wake up and see just what the two governments have done.  I hope that it will not be too late, but I fear it will be…..

The next morning, Sunday Aug 31st. we left for Montreal, Quebec City and who knows how much further.  Actually we got as far as a KOA park just north of Fredericton.  It was a Yogi Bear theme park.  Our spot was just up from Bo Bo Bear Lane.  Now, you have to remember that this is the middle of the last long weekend in the summer, and this place is swarming with ankle biters!!  In fact the whole camp was dedicated to their happiness complete with loud speakers with constant announcements about activities the little darlings could participate in.  Due to the closeness of Maine, most of the units in here were American.  One of our neighbours commented that this campsite is well known in Maine and due to the condition of the dollar, most of these people have been there several times already this summer.  Ahhh …  what some will do for kids ….  Fortunately, for me, it was only a one night stand!!!!

The only real problem with this site was the fact that whomever the clown was who designed this campground, could not tell up from down.  We pulled in, after waiting for several minutes for our neighbour to show up and move his truck that he had parked in front of our spot, and after hooking up the power and water – there was no sewage connection – I began to level Harvey.  So there I am, seated in the driver’s seat pushing leveling buttons while staring at the bubbles that tell me when I am level.  It did not take too long, and I exited feeling quite proud… until I happened to gaze at the back tires.  The site was so far from being level, that both back tires on both sides were 4 inches in the air.  When you think that the only tires that are actually touching the ground are the front ones and that the parking break only works on the back tires, you can think of the possible consequences …  Hmmm, thought I... I had better reconfigure Harvey’s  leveling.  Try as I might, there was no way I could level him without dangling the rear tires high in the air.  Well, I thought, just because we will not be very level front to rear, the only real consequence will be that because our bed runs side to side, Elsie will be trying to sleep on my side all night.  Not a pretty picture as you might imagine.  The sufferings of travel …. Ahhh shucks!!!

Our next stop Monday, Sept 1st. was North Sydney on Cape Breton Island where we were to catch the Ferry to Newfoundland ...finally.  The campsite turned out to be actually quite nice as our spot looked out over the bridge to Seal Island which is about 15 minutes away from the ferry dock.  We had decided to spend two nights there to load up Harvey with sufficient groceries so that the higher prices in Newf could be offset a little.  It was a pleasant time as the weather was very nice, wind blowing and daytime temps in the mid 60’s and night falling off to the mid 50’s.  Very enjoyable time with the exception of our leave taking …. The Gods strike again ….

We had struck luck and got reservations for the Wednesday, Sept 3rd. sailing at 3:00pm.  The trip was to be at least 5 hours, and we had to be at the dockside for loading at 2:00pm.  That gave us the morning to pack up, clean up and get ready for the "Newf Odyssey".  After a leisurely breakfast we had some extra time to clean.  Here the Gods started to laugh … I had not had the opportunity to flush the blackwater for several days, so here was my chance to really make sure the tank is clean and empty.  We anticipated doing quite a bit of dry camping in the next month so a clean tank would be a blessing.  Heh Heh!!!  Fortunately, as I had done many times before, I did empty the tank before starting the flushing process.

At 1:00 out I troupe to hook up the black water hose to the nozzle and commence flushing.  It was such a nice day, I’m looking around humming a song quite at peace with the world.  Until I hear Elsie’s plaintive cry, “Joe, there is water pouring down the side of Harvey.”  Now, this was certainly not supposed to happen, as it was not raining, and it did bring me back to the real world damn quickly!  I’m standing on the driver’s side of Harvey, and Elsie is pointing to the passenger side.  I come running around and sure enough, there is water pouring down Harvey’s side.  The water did look a little strange!  It was not pure, clear and sparkling as Nova Scotia water is supposed to be!  Rather, it was a little grey to black in colour and had a slight odour to it.  In fact, it smelled like …. OH S**t!   I ran around to the other side and turned off the Black Water flushing hose.  Guess what???  The water stopped running down Harvey's side.  I’m looking at Elsie, and she is looking at me … what the hell happened?  Well, we thought after several minutes, it could have been much worse.  (Heh Heh)  All I have to do is wash down the side and all will be well… until Elsie went inside.  The toilet too had backed up so there was water of unknown purity all over the bathroom floor.  What to do???  The 2:00 ferry  loading time is rapidly approaching, but we sure could not leave this mess!  Out come the towels and Elsie does the quickest bathroom cleaning I have ever seen.  As soon as the water was picked up, and the towels confined in the Toad in a plastic bucket, the smell in Harvey improved greatly.  Off we went to the boat rendezvous, just holding our noses a little bit!  Is that all the excitement for today, you might ask?  After all, it is 2:00 and the day is half over.  "Heh Hey", the Gods say ... "we are  not done with ya yet!"

The drive to the ferry is only 15 minutes long, but we did want to fill up the diesel in Nova Scotia.  We had heard that the costs of gas in Newf is about another 10 cents a litre.  As you know, we carry over 300 litres of fuel so the price difference is substantial for us!  No problem though.  We find a station that has a high enough canopy so we could fit underneath and top up Harvey's tank.  Off we go to catch a ferry.

The highway just sort of ends at the depot and we pull up to get our ticket.  We had been told that the ferry costs are determined by the length of the vehicle.  They measure you and then charge you accordingly.  Elsie got out the calculator and figured out that we could save $17.00 by disconnecting the Toad and going in as two vehicles.  But, as we were landing in Port aux Basques around 9:00 at night, we were not sure just where we could meet and hook up again.  She would be on a different level on the ferry and would leave before Harvey would be allowed to.  So, we figured that we would swallow the $17.00 for this trip.  The guy comes out with his little wheel to measure us and informed us that as we were 53 feet 10 inches long, the price would be almost $300.00 one way.  Well, the price of doing business, I guess.

From this port, both ferries to the island leave: the one to Port au Basques, about 6 hours sailing, and the one to St. John's, about 14 hour sailing time (and about $600.00 one way).  Now, the Gulf of St. Lawrence is not a typically calm stretch of water and the ferry authority will not let you stay below in the RV.  In fact, you had to ask for a ferry worker to escort you to your vehicle if you want to visit the dogs during the sailing.  Think about the puppies stuck in a loud ferry deck all by themselves for over 6 hours.  Not a pretty thought eh!

So, we pay our money and go to the line suggested.  We look at the time, and it is just 2:00.  Not bad after all the excitement we thought.  Just then a rap at my driver's window ..."Bye, you must unhook dat ting!"

"Huh" I said.  The guy with the safety vest repeated himself.

"Bye, you must unhook dat ting!"  Now, they speak very quickly, but I thought that is what he said.

He was pointing to the Toad so we figured that we had to unhook.  But, I tried to explain that we had paid the extra $17.00 so we did not have to unhook ... if that indeed is what he wanted us to do.  He just got louder and more demonstrative.  The better part of valour is cowardice, so I get out to unhook and surprisingly, they are already loading the cars, and we were holding up traffic.  They told us to be there at 2:00 and now we were holding up things.  As you might imagine, my temper was getting short and infact I was getting quite testy ....  We unhook the Toad and Elsie gets in to follow me in Harvey.  Our line was now completely empty, and the last line of cars was being loaded.  When I got to the front of the line, there is another one of those safety vests with a mouth yelling at me.  "Bye, head over to number 1 bye"  was what I heard.   Apparently, he wanted me to cut through the line of cars and head to the far side of the ferry past some yellow cement dividers.  Did he mean for me to go between them or around them or over them ... I had no clue!

The appropriate action is to stop and get clearer directions.  Again, a vest that talks some language appears at my window and points dramatically at the path he wanted me to go.  Okay, I thought, I can follow that instruction.  I attempt to cut across the line of cars, all of whom thought that I was going to cut in front of them so you can imagine the co-operation they were willing to give me.  But, due to size and my by now extremely testy attitude, I get across.  It turned out that I was to go to the bottom level deck, cleverly hidden by the upper car deck, that held the bigger vehicles.  Okay, now I have it sussed out.  On I go to the ferry until yet another vest that talks jumps out waving his arms at me.  "Stop!".  That I understood!  Now what was the problem?  He approached my window and yelled, "You must turn around bye!"


I was ready to dismount Harvey and punch the guy!  Fortunately, there was a person there who could speak Canadian who could translate.

The ferry, "Caribou" had a problem with the bow door; it would not open.  All vehicles had to back in so they could be unloaded easily on the other side.  What I was supposed to do is back down, about 400 feet, and then we could hook the Toad up there.  Elsie had stuck close to Harvey all through this ordeal and was patiently waiting.  Backing up is no problem with Harvey, but I'll leave it to your imaginations to picture all the 5th wheels that were trying the same maneuver.  The semi trailer trucks had no problem, but there were quite a few 5th wheels and a corresponding number of very frustrated drivers.  Later we learned that they did have a special truck that could pick up the 5th wheel and park them for the owners, but a day before, they had picked up a very expensive one and then proceeded to drop it, much to the concern of its owner.  Today they were only using the truck in emergency cases.   It was really a scene from Dante's Inferno down there!

But, we got on, apologized to Barley and Hops, hooked up the Toad, and headed upstairs.

The trip turned out to be quite pleasant with the seas very calm and the sun shining brightly.  We were late leaving, of course, so the trip took longer that the 5 to 6 hours that was usual.  We did not make land fall until almost 10:00, and it was obviously very dark on the quay side.

We hop in to Harvey and had two big surprises:  the first one was that both dogs had been very good, and there was no little "gifty on the  floor" to pick up, and the second one came to light -- pun intended -- when I started Harvey.  The engine started with no problem, the head lights came on, but we had no dash lights.  We had never driven Harvey at night so this was quite a little surprise for us.  The campsite we were going to was in Grand Codroy, about a 30 minute drive from the ferry on the TCH.  (Trans Canada Highway in Newf speak).  The Gods still had not finished with us yet it seems.

Innovation is the mother of necessity or something ... so I twisted the little map light on the left side of the driver's seat around so that it shone, sort of, on the dash.  I could just make out how fast we were going and in that fashion we headed out.  Take that you Gods!!!  We will persevere... and we did.  The campsite people waited up until the ferry traffic arrived and lead us to what turned out to be a very nice site in a very nice campground.

The plan was to spend three nights there and have a look around the south west corner.  The smell in Harvey had dissipated so the next day we headed on the tour circuit.  The towels we had used on the spill could be washed the next day.

We headed back to Port aux Basques and wandered around there looking for dinner that night.  It is really a quaint little town, and we enjoyed poking around.  We then headed along the coast to Rose Blanche lighthouse at the end of the highway on the south coast. The weather had turned cloudy and very misty so the views of the water were not as impressive as they might have been.  We passed through several little fishing villages perched along the sea shore.  Really a beautiful place to just wander.  Finally, we came to the Rose Blanche Lighthouse entrance.  This lighthouse is the only granite lighthouse left in North America and had just been restored by the Federal Government.  As in BC, most of the lighthouses here have been automated and no longer have a keeper.

The landscape around the lighthouse was very reminiscent of Cornwall and Sussex in England or the Highlands in Scotland.  This heath stretched as far as the eye, in the heavy mist, could see.  As we walked along the 500 metre path to the site, I expected to hear the skirl of the pipes.  We could not see very far in front of us.  Suddenly, out of the mist we could make out the outline of the lighthouse.  It looked like a Church swimming out of the mist at us.  It was just like the scenery I pictured when reading the Mid Victorians ... where was Heathcliff?  where was the Hound ... etc?  It was a remarkable experience!

But, as you know, Elsie and I do not live on scenery alone.  We had to find food!  As we headed into Rose Blanche proper, down a steep hill that led into the village on the water,it brought back memories one of the England trips where we wandered along the north coast of Cornwall and dropped down into the tiny little fishing villages there.  The similarities are remarkable.

We found a tiny little restaurant called the Friendly Fisherman and went in looking for a bowl of chowder.  It was beautifully kept and the people were extremely friendly.  We ordered Cod au Gratin which turned out to be really very tasty.  It consisted of poached cod in milk, placed in a casserole dish, covered in cheese and baked.  The lady mentioned that it was a very commonly consumed dish.

The next day was a maintenance day so we cleaned Harvey inside and out.  Elsie was scrubbing inside, and I was attempting to remove the majority of the bugs on the outside as we waited for the Laundromat to finish with the towels left over from our little "spill".  By this point, they were a little ripe.  There were quite a few rigs in the park, and we met some people from Washington State who were full-timing it in their 5th wheels.  You can imagine the look on their faces as I explained the ferry loading procedures that they were facing as they planned to leave the Island the next day.  Elsie says that I really must work on my sense of humour!!!

I should mention here that this part of the Island is blessed with tiny little flying bugs that are capable of tearing away large amounts of body flesh.  Fortunately, their season was almost finished, but we did spend many days after leaving here, scratching and scratching and scratching ...

Before leaving home, we had Jim and Linda Harrison over for dinner.  I have played rugby with Jim for years -- he excels on the wing -- (not a really important position when compared to the scrum, but necessary I suppose, heh heh). His wife, Linda, was born and bred on the Rock.  As they were planning a September visit to Newf  to attend Linda's parents 60th anniversary, we made arrangements then to meet whenever we got to Corner Brook.  After a pleasant three days in and around Codroy, we headed north.  The weather had been stormy, and with the rain falling in torrents the previous night, the trip was promising to be quite wet.  No matter, we soldiered on and slowly made our way up the highway.  The rain seemed to come in spurts and during the heaviest bout, we hit a large bump in the road -- un-marked I might add -- and the wipers suddenly ceased action!  Now, this was a dirty trick by the RV Gods!  We had almost 60 kms more to go before Corner Brook and with no windshield wipers, it could prove to be quite a chore.  We stopped and I checked all the fuses -- that I could see -- and found nothing wrong.  No choice but to go on!

Several kilometres up the highway, the rain began to lessen, fortunately.  In fact, by the time we got to Corner Brook, it had stopped.  Perhaps the RV Gods were relenting ... albeit just a little?

Being a Saturday --September 6th, there was not much open in the way of repair shops.  We got a campsite, phoned around to find someone to repair our little problem, and soon found out that the only place that was remotely able to look at Harvey was Canadian Tire.  I have always been of the opinion that if something has more than three moving parts, one never takes it near Canadian Tire.  But, we were desperate!

We drive Harvey to the local mall and find the service bays.  With very shaking hands and a qualmy stomach, I got a kid to come and look.  In no time at all, he had his circuit tester out and had found a blown fuse that was stuck at the very bottom of the first fuse panel jammed in behind another very large fuse.  It was so low to the ground, and so hidden, that we had not been able to see it!  The real problem was, according to the kid, that they did not have a microfuse like this in stock.  "Never fear", I yelled, as I pulled out my box of fuses.  "We have had fuse problems before and I carry a supply."  Suitably impressed, the kid inserted the new fuse and then refused to allow us to pay anything.

"No problem", he said.  "I really didn't do anything!"   Perhaps, I have been wrong about Canadian Tire?

Take that you RV Gods!!!  We shall persevere!  We shall not be ground down!!!  yet ....

Well, we now know where yet another fuse is hidden.  By the end of this trip, I figure that there will not be much we do not know about Harvey and his inner workings.  More, I think that I ever wanted to know...

The next day, Sunday, we head west to Lark Harbour and then on to Little Port where Linda's Mom and Dad live.  Saturday was the big anniversary night and apparently the party was huge and highly successful.  When we got to the house and found Jimmy, he was still looking exhausted.  The whole family had not got to bed until after 3:00am and Linda was back at the hall taking down the decorations.  What an inconvenient time for a social call eh?  We arrive at my cousins in Ottawa the day of their move, and now here the day after a huge party.  Boy, can we time things well.

We could not have been welcomed more warmly.  Mr Travers had been a fisherman all his life, and we had a chance to get a glimpse of the life of a fisherman.  Not an easy life for sure and Mrs Travers told us about the many times she headed down to the beach when the wind began to blow looking for Mr Travers "out in boat".  When Linda came back from the hall, she described the night before and how her Dad and Mom never sat down .... they danced and danced ... 

We were then treated to lunch .... tomato and ham sandwich made with some of the best tasting tomatoes (eat you heart out Ross) on homemade bread.  Boy, did that ever bring back memories of my childhood.

Jim (they call him the tour guide as every time a tour bus visits Little Port, Jim rushes down to show them around)  then took us for a tour of the immediate area.  As the Travers Family had lived there for generations, they were the "senior family" in the area and, of course, knew everyone.  As a guide, Jiimmy the transported "Wet Coaster" did Newfoundland proud.  There was not much we didn't see!

These Newfoundlanders sure are friendly!!!  It was a great experience.

Our plan was to leave the Trans Canada Highway at Deer Lake, and head up to St. Anthony which is on the very northern tip of the Northern Peninsula.  You don't get much further north in Newf than this.  As we had been warned that the road was winding and rough in many spots, we decided to divide the trip into two days.  We stopped in Portland Creek for one night and then the next day continued north.  The road did turn out to be quite rough, and we had to keep Harvey down to 60 kms in many sections.  But the scenery!!!!!  Wow!!!!

We followed the coast for much of the way with tiny fishing village following tiny fishing village.  Now this is Newfoundland quaint! 

By all reports, the winters here are brutal!  Most of the homes are heated by wood cut on the island.  The trees are thin and maybe 20 feet high so many are cut every year to provide necessary warmth. These trees are dropped by the side of the road in designated spots where they are cut up ready to fit the furnace.   The Newfoundlanders are very proud of their beautifully painted homes and so do not want to have to cut the logs up on their front lawns. Each family or village seems to have a spot along the highway where they chop up the logs and then spilt the rondals into firewood.  Many of these sites have huge piles of wood some obviously aged from last year.  During the summer, the needed wood, as required, is picked up on trailers pulled by ATV's and brought home.  During the winter, they use sleighs that are stored on site.  These are pulled by snowmobiles.

Another thing you find along the roadside are hundreds of carefully tended vegetable gardens that are maintained by the villagers.  Each one is surrounded by fences to try to keep the Moose and Caribou from feasting.  As the villages are placed on the rocky shoreline, the locals take advantage of the fact that the road in many places, goes inland and across some very rich soil.  As a testament to the honesty of the Newfoundlanders, the person with whom we were discussing these gardens said that there is rarely any theft from them.  The roadside gardens and the piles of wood are private property and are respected as such by all.  I wonder what would happen in Vancouver if someone placed a garden on the side of the road on public property?  This is a very remarkable Province!

One of the reasons we wanted to go to St Anthony is that it is very close to L'Anse Aux Meadows.  For you non historians this is the site of the first Viking settlement in the new world, circa 1000 AD.  This site was being uncovered at the same time I was going through history at UBC, and I sure heard a lot about it.  I never actually thought that I would get a chance to see it, but things do change in life.

We set up Harvey in a nice campsite, and the next day headed a few kilometres north to the national historic site.  They have reconstructed several of the old Viking houses and have actors in period costume acting out the old lifestyles.  It was very interesting and well done.  As the weather had improved greatly, we spent 4 or more hours just wandering the two sites.  This proved to be a very neat experience!

Our next port of call was Rocky Harbour in Gros Morne National Park.  This is down south again almost back to the Trans Canada Highway at Deer Lake so we were retracing our steps back along that rough piece of road.  The scenery continues to fascinate! We did find a seafood store in Gros Morne that was selling some of the freshest and large scallops I have ever seen.  At $6.99 a pound, I bought 2 pounds and rather gleefully returned to Harvey with my treasure.  After much deep thought guided by several bottles of Black Horse Beer, a recipe was decided upon ... it would be "Scallops au Josef", poached scallops in wine and garlic served in casseroles dusted with a fine example of old Balderston Cheese.  They turned out to be really tasty, and I made enough for two meals.  Not really lobster but getting close....  Lobster will come .....

By now, we have travelled over 600 kms of Newfoundland roads.  Everyone we talked to before coming to the Island warned us about the number of moose we would see on the road side.  In fact, my cousin Jack, whom we had met in Ottawa, had just returned from a tour of the island, and his comment was that they got tired of seeing Moose.  Even the signs on the roadside warned us about moose.  All the parks had signs on entering mentioning the number of car/moose accidents that had occurred this year.  But, there is something about Elsie and Moose ... we had not seen a single moose in over 600 kms.  I think that we must be on the way to some sort of record!!!   In all honesty, I should mention that last Saturday was the start of moose hunting season.  Maybe they have all fled for safer territory ....?

The locals say that they do not hunt for moose here on the Island .... they shop for them!  All summer, they wander around in their ATV's looking for the perfect specimen and then, on the first day of hunting season, they go out and simply get it!  Takes all the suspense out of hunting!

On Friday, September 12th we decided to do a boat cruise on Western Brook Pond in Gros Morne Park.  Just to explain, to a Newfoundlander, a lake is called a pond.  Just why ... no one seems to know, but there it is!  So, Western Brook Pond is really a lake, but a lake that used to be a fjord.  Now that you are totally confused, the fjord entrance had "peated up" over the eons and thus formed rich peat beds and Western Brook Pond.  The boat cruise was up the old fjord looking at various geological features.

Well, the wind had come up and the water was getting a little rougher when we had walked the 3 kms into the boat dock.  In for a penny in for a pound ... off we go, along with about 50 other brave souls, across the pond.  Just as we were leaving the dockside, we saw the only moose of the trip so far.  A cow moose was standing, pond side, about 200 metres way for us.  Big Deal eh ... one moose and that one was so far away that it was very hard to see.  Our moose sighting luck continues.

The cruise was interesting and no one got mal de mare, fortunately, but one look at Elsie made me keep my hat ready for the ultimate sacrifice if required.

On Sunday September 14th, with the weather making all sorts of new records for heat, we left for Gander where we thought to spend 2 nights.  The road there (TCH)  was really quite good, in fact, one hell of a lot better than northern Ontario's Trans Canada Highway.

Gander has played a significant role in Canadian aviation history, and I was interested to see the area.  In the guide book, it was described as "a suburb looking for a city" and it sure proved to be an apt description.  It really exists only for the airport and most of the business are located on Airport Way.  The air museum was quite interesting with many displays outlining the role they played during the 9/11 crisis as well as its role during WWII.

On Tuesday we made the run into St John's where we currently are.  About 2 hours north, with the sun beating in the windows as we headed east, the Gods got us yet again.  Harvey's dash air conditioning gave up the ghost .... AGAIN!   Will this never stop?????????

Anyway, we are here in Pippy Park Campsite in the middle of St John's.  What we have seen so far makes us think that we will enjoy this area.  We will probably stay here until the 22nd when we will return across the province to Port aux Basques and the return to North Sydney, NS.

Sorry that this is so long and more rambling than ever.  As we have been away over a month, I want to get this posted by tomorrow and Elsie has to proof read it yet......  Sides .... the Gods might return again with even a greater vengeance .... who knows ....

Anyway, in general, all here are well and we hope the same is true for all there!!!

Joe, Elsie, and the intrepid travelers, Barley and Hops.