After 37 days travelling across Canada we are heading south into the US towards Yellowstone Park. I thought that I would write a summary of what we have seen and lessons learned. Important things first, Mike and I are having a super time and thoroughly enjoying ourselves together. Three months sounded like a long time before we started. The first month just flew by. The weather today is perfect for us. The temperature is in the 60s (18 C) with a bright blue sky. The only time in five weeks that weather has been a concern at all was in the Jasper/Lake Louise area.
This trip has turned out to be about scenery, small towns and seeing parts of Canada and the US that we haven’t visited before. We have ended up bypassing most of the major cities we were anywhere near. This wasn’t a plan, it just happened. We have put 6,700 km (4,200 mi) on the RV and 1,400 km (860 mi) on the car. Our RV is self-contained, we only stay in campgrounds for one or two nights and we don’t have children so we tend to evaluate campgrounds differently from families or folks with tents or small trailers. We don’t really care what recreational facilities they have at the campground. We like privacy, scenery, views and walking trails. Based on our criteria so far the campgrounds in Northern Ontario were the nicest we have seen across the country. Nearly all of them were right on rivers or lakes, the camping sites were often in the trees, sometimes they were attached to marinas. They were lovely. Nearly all the lakes and rivers that we have seen on this trip have been really clear which is so nice to see.
Having the car has been super. In the Rockies we would leave the RV setup in the campground for a few days and take the car and drive up mountains and into areas where we wouldn’t have wanted to take the RV. Our car is a hybrid. There is no comparison between the mileage when we use the car and when we use the RV. We haven’t actually worked out the RV mileage numbers yet. We will do that when we get home. It is too depressing to do it any sooner. Having the car isn’t completely positive. The first negative is the room it takes to turn and more importantly not being able to backup and turn with the car attached. If we didn’t have the car we would have to take the RV everywhere. That means that when we are just wandering around towns or walking on scenic trails we would have the RV right there to go back to and have a coffee or a rest before continuing. This is a potential concern if we ever take the RV to Europe for a year or two. In the past we rented class C RVs in Europe which are smaller and could park almost anywhere. With the larger RV we will be parked outside of town and will use the car to get to and from town. This is like staying in a hotel outside the town centre versus staying in a hotel right in the centre of town. We have done it but we much prefer staying in the centre of town. That allows us to wander out to the cafés or museums and then back to our room when we want. I guess nothing is absolutely perfect. The advantage is still on the side of having the car and in Europe, with the narrow roads and low bridges there will be no other choice.
Our timing allowed us to unexpectedly see a folk festival in Ontario and a multicultural festival in Winnipeg. We were about 10 days too early to try and watch the horse jumping international competition at Spruce Meadows. Without planning ahead we still seem to be doing well.
I have discovered that if you aren’t going into the office and don’t need to impress anyone you are seeing then you don’t need too many clothes. It is amazing how little you can get away with on a trip like this. I did bring one business outfit but it is in a container underneath the RV, hopefully not getting too wrinkled. Having a washer/dryer unit on board certainly helps. I was going to add in a comment about how Mike and I had developed a routine and shared various tasks in the RV. I have decided not to include the details because I don’t want Mike to feel hard done by and think that I am getting off easy which, as usual, I am.
The one truth in all this is that I could never have made this trip without Mike. First off, he is one of the few people that I know who actually enjoys driving for hours at a time whether on a motorcycle or a big rig. I would hate being behind the wheel for long periods. Sitting with my feet up on my computer or with my ereader is fine, but not driving all the time. Of course, as my parents well know, there is one disadvantage to someone who loves driving – that is getting them to stop! Before the RV Mike would stop to let me go into a little café and sit and have a coffee. Mike used to say that when my parents and I got together he felt like he drove from coffee shop to coffee shop. At least then you get to walk through the town or village a little. With the RV when I try and use coffee as an excuse Mike knows that I can just walk to the back and make one. Luckily very few of our days have been long drives. Typically we only drive about 200 km (120 mi) in a day.
Mike is also Mr. Fixit. Half the time I don’t think that I even know when things don’t work or go wrong because he just fixes them. This includes almost everything inside or outside the motorhome. While I feel that this trip has been basically trouble free (other than an expensive tire fix in Fort McMurray) I am sure that I wouldn’t have felt that way without Mike. If we have an outside door that won’t close properly he gets out his tools, makes some adjustments and fixes it. Something that small would be major if I needed someone to come to the campground to fix the door because you can’t drive with it open. As long as Mike is with me, this is a super type of vacation for us to take.
United States here we come.