We finally left!!!
It has now been 10 days since we departed Edmonton with the van. See below for how it all unrolled! Oh and grab a coffee, this first post is pretty long.
June 24 (T minus 2 days): Everything that is not going in the van was put in the car for storage. We stopped by our friend Lee’s place to do some touch ups on the van, mainly mounting some tail lights higher up behind the van because we can’t see the original ones when the scooter is loaded on its rack. Of course it took longer than expected but we eventually got it working perfectly. Right after this we drove the van and the car to another friend’s dad (Thanks Ryan & Ryan’s dad!) acreage to store the car there for the duration of this trip. We hadn’t been using the van much over the last few years so during the hour long drive to the acreage, we noticed some problems with the van. For one, the radiator started leaking from the overflow. Nothing crazy but definitely not cool if the van is overheating after an hour only of driving. Second thing we picked up on, on the way home from dropping off the car, is that the van wasn’t shifting into fourth gear/OverDrive. Well it’s now 11pm and we have to move into the van on the 26. We will have to find a reliable mechanic to look at it, hopefully tomorrow.
June 25: Thanks to my old Taco Del Mar gig, I remembered one customer who owned his own little garage. I sent him an email a 6:30am telling him to give me a call as soon as possible, that I was up for the day and that I needed help ASAP. Well he called me at 6:35am! He was able to squeeze us in for a check-up that same day. He replaced the cap on the radiator which fixed the radiator leak. The issue with the lack of shifting in OD turned out to be that the van has only 3 gears. Therefore it means that it revs up a little higher and that it consumes a little more gas than a newer model.. go figure. And as I drove the van over to his garage, I went to use the wipers and unfortunately, the wiper motor wasn’t working. He replaced that. Hey the budget only starts on the 26th… would have taken $350 out of it otherwise!
June 26: Final loading of the van, taking care of some paperwork and then we left. It’s happening. At about noon we left Edmonton. First fill up before we go: $150. Ouch. We are now scared of how much fuel this monster is going to consume. We drove the first day going only 85km/h! (And that’s being generous). Fuel gauge is moving down at a steady pace but we aren’t. It feels like we aren’t going anywhere at that speed and we then decide to up it to about 95km/h. It’s a bit more reasonable and we aren’t getting “the look” as much when people pass us. We stop by one of those highway scales for big trucks to see what the van weight is. Get ready. Front axle weighs 1000Kg and the rear axle weighs 2000kg!!! That’s like 3 tons or over 6000lbs!! No wonder this thing loves gas so much. Let’s not go over 100km/h. We are on a budget after all.
June 27-29: We keep on cruising. Elaine is disappointed by the lack of point of interests to stop by and look at. Although I did tell her, she’s still shocked at how little there is to see in the prairies. No houses, no livestock, just plain fields growing the same whatever thing they are growing. We crossed the border in North Portal, Saskatchewan. Good thing time is not an issue because border people decided to search our van. Elaine thinks I tried too hard to be friendly with the border agent. I think she’s right.. next time I’ll just tell them whatever they want to hear. No produce, No money, No booze, No firearms. We wasted close to an hour there. We kept our cool but it was pretty intense. Each of us was interrogated individually before them going through our stuff.
Keep on trucking some more, fill up a few times at a much more affordable price of $1USD/L or less. We slept in rest areas. The second night ended up being shorter than anticipated. It was rainy overnight and in the wee hours of the morning, about a dozen or more mosquitos were able to make their way into the fan. About 75 more were knocking at the door trying to find the hole through the screen. There was no trying to go back to bed as I was pretty much freaking out, hitting every moving thing around me.
Coming back into Canada to go to Ottawa was smooth, the border agent pretty much waved us through. He did have a laugh when he asked me if we had done any upgrades to the vehicles while in the USA. My reply was: “No upgrades but we bought gas, A LOT of gas”. Have a good trip he said.
June 29: We arrived in the evening in Gatineau and visited Elaine’s sister. We had a nice meal with a few drinks with her boyfriend army Matt and her. We then finished that in the hot tub and it was really nice after a few days on the road.
June 30: Drove the van over to my cousin Pascal and his wife Isa’s place in Gatineau as well. They let us park in front of their house and we only spend the afternoon together as we’ve got a get together tonight with my good old friend Mike McBride, from the army, and his family. I was his best man at his wedding around 7 years ago and I have only seen him once ever since. We took the scooter to go there as it’s about an hour away.
Listen to this. It’s early evening, sun’s out and the kids are with us on the patio. The two year old kid approached the opened pool gate and Elaine saw her as she was sitting by the pool steps. The kid looked like she wanted to go in the pool so Elaine asked her if she knew how to swim since she wasn’t wearing her floaters like earlier in the day. She answered confidently that in fact yes, she could swim. So as we are all chatting up on the patio, kid goes down the pool stairs and jumps forward, into the deeper section. Good thing Elaine was watching because it turned out the kid didn’t know how to swim! Elaine ended up jumping in the pool with her clothes on to rescue her. It was quite scary as it happened really, really quickly. To make it scarier, because the kid was trying to swim with 90% of her body underwater, it made no sound. No splashing or screaming coming from the kid. From where I was sitting, I couldn’t see the kid’s head and I would have simply assumed the kid was swimming had Elaine not seen her. In the end all was good, a few lessons were learned and good food, good drinks and good company were enjoyed.
July 1st: Happy CANADA DAY! Well we are in Canada’s capital for Canada day. It doesn’t get any better than this timing wise! We met up with my cousin in Ottawa, tried Mill Street Brewery, walked around, watched the free show and then walked back to the scooter, following a massive crowd of 300 000 people trying to leave. That was one busy place.
July 2nd: We get to spend the day hanging out by the pool at my cousin’s place one last day before hitting the road to go to Milan, QC. It’s next to Lac-Megantic.
July 2nd- 5th: We are spending a few days here to hang out with Elaine’s family and enjoy the organic vegetables that her uncle is growing. Beautiful place and so much to learn about organic gardening and plants medicinal properties.
No climbing yet. We are hoping to leave tomorrow and head towards Kamouraska, QC, to do some climbing!!!!
Some quick stats: We have spent about $750 in fuel to do about 4000km. It seems like we are on budget so far for gas. We spent about $150 in food and beer otherwise and are also on target with the budget there, if not doing better than planned.
Mathieu et Elaine