Category Archives: Chicoutimi

Better be warm on the other side, GO Thailand!

Once again, this last week has been filled with good time spent with family and friends.  We are still here in Chicoutimi, spending our days chatting away and eating good food. Tough life!

One notable moment was when a good friend of mine refused to try food we had found in a bakery’s dumpster, here in Chicoutimi. His only argument was that it was one of his principle to not eat food from a garbage can. Then the following analogy came out. Elaine is a vegetarian and doesn’t eat meat as a principle.. not allergic to it or anything, she just doesn’t like animals to get put down for calories. The analogy kind of made sense… it’s not that bad to eat meat once in a while, and it’s not that bad to eat good food from the dumpster once in a while. A challenge then popped up. If Elaine would eat two bites from a meat sausage, the friend would eat a big piece of a baguette from the dumpster. He didn’t expect Elaine to agree but she went all out and ate meat for the first time in about 6 years. I bet you she wished the challenge would have been with Bacon or Ribs as it’s what she misses the most from eating meat! I feel like each time I get home(my first home.. where I grew up), I end up realizing how much I have changed since my last visit. Since I only visit once or twice a year, I get to mention what has been keeping us busy and sometime what values may have changed over time. The biggest change this time has to be our view towards dumpster diving. It generated discussions on a daily basis and it was always entertaining to explain why we did it, how we did it and where we did it. Although all agreed that dumpster diving was a good thing to help reduce food waste, not too many would be willing to be the ones going in the dumpster or even eat food from the dumpster.



Evil meat!!!

Evil meat!!!

Although the snow has begun melting, it’s still super cold here.. highs of 4-7 Celcius.. nights dropping below minus 5 C. We have moved inside houses most nights to get more comfortable sleeps. The only good thing about it is that our upcoming trip to Thailand is going to be that much more enjoyable! 

After stopping for a few days in Quebec city to visit Elaine’s sister, we are leaving for Thailand tomorrow for a whole month. We are super stoked to finally be wearing shorts and t-shirts all the time. We’ve mentioned it before but the thing that shocked us the most last winter wasn’t how hard it was to live in a van or live a simple life on a tight budget, it was the lack of super warm weather. We though spending the winter months in the USA would mean climbing shirtless but that hardly ever materialized. Furthermore, our time in Quebec was fun but we need to start moving again as we are loosing our fitness quickly with all the gastronomy and the numerous drinks we’ve been having daily. 

one last rewarding dive before leaving Canada… LOTS of chocolate!

We aren’t bringing the laptop to Asia so we probably aren’t going to update the blog until we come back. At best we will try to post some pictures. On the other hand, we will still keep track of our expenses with the intent of staying within budget.

Have a good spring you all and hopefully summer will be here when we get back at the end of May!

Our  budget for this week is now $172.37 for food & fun.

April 9 – April 15  : Weekly & Totals since we left 42 weeks ago.

Fuel: $98.00 / $5653.38
Food: $40.61 / $2756.06
Fun: $8.10 / $5086.50

Other: Dentist exam for the two of us: $190.00

Total for the week without fuel: $238.71
Total with fuel: $336.71
Total spent since the beginning: $13685.94

Total budget: $15756.21
Budget left: $2070.27

Our  budget for this week is now $174.42 for food & fun.

April 16 – April 22  : Weekly & Totals since we left 43 weeks ago.

Fuel: $40.00 / $5693.38
Food: $66.90 / $2822.96
Fun: $87 / $5363.50 ($87 in travel insurance for the Thai trip and $190 in total amount for dentist cleaning for the both of us)

Total for the week without fuel: $56.15
Total with fuel: $183.15
Total spent since the beginning: $13870.84

Total budget: $15756.21

Budget left: $1876.37

M & E


ok we did have ONE warm day in Chicoutimi 🙂


He’s got the looks and he’s one balsy kid.. I’m sure he will be a good climber !


Nephew sipping it up

Trying to fix a spring noise under the rocking chair

Trying to fix a spring noise under the rocking chair

We are still too heavy!

Yup, and it’s not because we both gained 5 pounds by eating too well and too much with friends and family 🙂 Even with the scooter gone, we’re still over the GVWR and the rear axle is also over its GAWR. At least we aren’t over the tires maximum load anymore. Rear axle weighs in at 1770 kg and the tires are good for 900 kg. I guess we are right there though. Plan is to buy some better tires in the USA on the way to Mexico. Ultimately we may have to add additional suspension to the rear axle to help distribute the weight evenly but realistically, we’re probably just going to leave it like that once the better tires are on.

We spent most of our 2 weeks in Chicoutimi going from one family member to another and it was great. It was long overdue since it had been over a year and half since I visited and probably two and a half year for Elaine. And I don’t even remember the last time I was able to stay in town for more than a few days. It used to be lightning visits because of the store. Another good thing Elaine now knows most of my family and vice versa. We spent a lot of time swimming around in pools and lakes and we even got to try wake boarding. I got up on my first go and Elaine was able to stay up pretty good on her third attempt. It’s very similar to snowboarding and it hurts just as much when you wipe out good! We were both pretty sore from it the next day. One day while cruising around in my cousin’s boat, we were challenged by her boyfriend Simon to jump from one bridge we drove underneath of. We weren’t able to measure it but some say it was about 30 feet high. I’m going to say that it was at least 20 and pretty fun to do. I didn’t think Elaine would follow through but she did it like she’s been jumping from bridges all her life.

It was our friend’s birthday on the Friday and after visiting a Beer Festival (at which we didn’t buy any beers due to you know what), we invited everyone to our van which was parked nearby. I love the relaxed attitude in Quebec (or at least in Chicoutimi) with alcohol in public areas. This was in a public parking and although we were about a dozen of us drinking a fair amount of beer, no police or complaints came our way.

Van party

Van party

On the todo list we were able to bang out all of it. The scooter was sold for too little but at least it’s taken care of. It cost me $182.44 for the out of province inspection and to replace the rear tire which was the only thing wrong with it. I sold it for $500 so I netted $317.56. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll add that money to the trip’s fund or not. Furthermore we replaced the leaky dome thing with a bad ass one that has a cover over top of the dome so that you can have the thing opened up all the time, even if it’s raining. Finally the crazy switch for the water pump was replaced at the cost of $6, and a little hacking to make it fit where the old one was. We now have running water again !


We did really good on the food side of things this week. Not only did my mom give us about 20 Mason jars of canned food but we were also fed a lot by everyone we visited. We scored a lot of food on sale too.. look at the picture! To reward ourselves for all those savings, we broke the bank and bought a local delicacy, Blueberry covered dark chocolate ($7).

Blueberry + chocolate = heaven !

Blueberry + chocolate = heaven !

Got to love discounted food!!

Got to love discounted food!!

We are now in Quebec city writing this. We arrived last night and spent the evening at a good friend I grew up spending my summers with at the campground. It must have been over 10 years since I last saw him. Got to love Facebook and the ability to keep in touch with old friends easily.

Marc, Elaine, Mathieu

Marc, Elaine, Mathieu

Today we visited Old Quebec. Walked a lot, biked a bit and came prepared with our lunches so no money was spent. We finished it off at a public pool nearby. After having been in the sun/heat all day and a mellow 18km return bike ride, it was nice to dip ourselves in the water. Great thing is that this pool is free to use! They even have warm showers to rinse off afterwards. Since we didn’t climb one bit in Saguenay we are heading off to a crag in Saint-Alban. Rain is in the forecast but apparently the crag is all overhanging and climbable in wet conditions.

Chateau Frontenac, Old Quebec city

Chateau Frontenac, Old Quebec city

Last but not least, unavoidably,…. THE BUDGET! It’s been four weeks and things are looking good!

Week #4 expenses (July 17-July 23):
Transport: $77.77
Food: $73.34
Fun: $82.65 (mostly booze)
Total: $233.76

Grand total: $1523.74 ($999.31 in transportation fees)

Distance traveled is now about 5000 km.

Thanks for reading us. We really enjoy writing about our trip and hopefully it’s not too painful to read 🙂

M & E

Busy in Chicoutimi!

Before we get any further, yesterday was the end of Week #3 and here are the numbers:

From July 10 – July 16

Transport: $85.14 (ferry and parts.. No fuel this week.. woohoo!)
Food: $34.87
Fun $34.29 (beer)
Total spent this week: $154.30
Total spent since we left: $1289.98

I don’t know if this is sustainable but this week was way below budget. To be fair we have been fed quite a lot by the family.

After leaving Kamouraska we took the Riviere-du-loup to Saint-Simeon ferry. It was a close call because of a low tide warning which caused the ramp angle to get on and off the boat to be very steep and which in turn would have caused the scooter trailer to bottom out and get all bent. After a little bit of brainstorming with the ferry people, they agreed to let us take the scooter off the rack, take the rack off and put it inside the van and to drive the scooter on its own power onto the ferry. The two great things about this solution is that we didn’t have to wait 5 hours for the high tide and they also didn’t charge us a second vehicle fee for the scooter.

On Monday we hiked “La montagne Blanche” in Anse-St-Jean. It was an old hike I had previously done when I lived in Chicoutimi 10+ years ago. I forgot how pretty it was with the waterfalls and the view on top. We brought one of my homie and his dog along and it was a good time. The dog REALLY enjoyed being able to dip in the water going up. Elevation gain was 600m and the return distance is about 13km. My friend said that it might be the hardest thing his dog had ever done.. I told him it might also be the hardest thing he’s ever done.. 😉 Needless to say the dog and the homie were a bit tired after that. It took us about 4.5 hours including lunch time.

Summit picture!

Summit picture!

We are now in Chicoutimi and things are busy visiting everyone we haven’t seen in sooo long. We still have some more to visit and while we are here for a while, we have a few upgrades to do to the van. A new problem has come up. One night at the Walmart campground, while we were sleeping, we awoke to the sound of a water pump running. We thought it was our neighbor doing something while in fact it was OUR water pump that had gone wild and potentially possessed by some kind of evil demon. It drained all of our potable water and left us dry for most of the day, all that in our sleep.

List of things to fix/work on:

For sale!

For sale!

-Scooter needs to be sold
-Fix the water pump switch (we found one, we just need to mount it)
-Roof leaks
-Oil Change

So we had a bit of luxury this week. My mom treated us to a shower, I mean treated us to a hotel room the day we saw her. Whatever her thoughts were behind doing this (maybe we smelled??), it was really nice to have a long warm bath 🙂

M & E (and our new friend Tyson!)

Matt and Tyson (Matt's dad's dog)

Matt and Tyson (Matt’s dad’s dog)