Road Trip to Nova Scotia

Minnie Winnie

We’ve begun our road trip in the motorhome for Eastern Canada to the province of Nova Scotia.   We added three new members to our traveling team; Grisselle, Delleinnes, and Squielley.  They’re three gerbils that I got for Kip as her traveling companions.  She gave them their names.

I thought I had done all my pre-trip inspections before departure, but I had forgotten to test the generator that powers the cabin’s electricity for air-conditioning, refrigerator, and lights.  It wouldn’t fire up!  We stopped by a recreational vehicle shop to see if they can do something about it.  The owner said I’d have to locate an Onan (brand) generator specialist somewhere along the trip; however, all mechanics would be off work in the weekends.  I made a few phone calls and located a non-Onan generator mechanic who told me that the motorhome generators are usually designed not to draw gas from the gas tank when it has less than a quarter-tank full, and that it should work when the tank is topped.  I stopped at the next gas stationed, topped it, and voila, the generator fired up.  You learn something new all the time!

The next problem was the heat permeating from the bottom of the motorhome even though the heater is shut off, and even when the air-conditioning was on.  This problem happened last year when I was stopped near Thunder Bay, Ontario, by the police on a random check, and they decided to search the vehicle.  They thought that it was weird that I was traveling with my 8-year-old daughter with a friend from Saudi whom I had befriended a couple of years ago, and had picked up a couple of young hitchhikers.  Three policemen and a dog ransacked the motorhome searching for something that may criminalize me. After an hour and a half of finding nothing, they apologized indirectly, saying, “You know, we had to do it.”  I responded, “In your line of work, you are jaded and don’t realize that this kind of thing is “normal” in the real world.”  When we drove off, we felt heat coming from the bottom of the car and motorhome but couldn’t figure out why.  I took it to two mechanics after and they couldn’t find the problem.  The heat was felt mostly by Albert on his side of the car, and Kip in the cabin.

Our first destination was St. Jeromé, Quebec where my friends, Michel and Denis Coté lived.  We left our home at 12:30 hr, and arrived there at 22:30 hr.  The GPS is sometimes not very clear, so I ended up taking a wrong turn off the highway; I thought that the GPS would get me back on it, but it decided to take me through the country roads, therefore, took longer to get there.  We ended up on the other side of the Ottawa River.  Just as well, because we got to ride the Hudson-Oka ferry, which was more like a barge–a new experience.  The night scene and breeze was wonderful.

Click the image below to see out barge ride.

On arrival, we were greeted by the two brothers, and their sister Joanne, and Michel’s daughter, Doremi.  I hadn’t seen Denis since 1995 when he visited me in Bangkok, Thailand.  I hadn’t seen Joanne since 1996 when my mother and I had stayed at her house during one of my visits from Thailand.  It was the same year that I saw Michel last, and then not again until 2013, when I brought my wife (now Ex), and my two daughters for a visit.

Michel and I became friends around 1980 in Vancouver.  My wife at the time was a Fijian Chinese, and Michel was going out with a Fijian Chinese who was a friend of hers.  Later, when I moved to Thailand to work for a Chinese chain restaurant as its general manager, I hired him to work as a chef at the Italian restaurant, which was an extension of the company.  I think it was a period of our lives when it was as good as it gets.

Michel and Denis pulled out some old photographs of the time we’d spent in Thailand, which was wonderful to see after a couple of decades.  Click the image below to see us together then and now.

From Left to Right: Michel, Self, Kip, Denis, Albert (in front)

Michel told me that he knew a local mechanic who could fix the heating problem.  With one phone call, the young man was at the doorsteps.  He went under, inside, and top of the motorhome to examine the problem.  His conclusion was that there was some kind of short in the electrical wiring, but didn’t want to take the motorhome apart lest we’re stuck there for days.  After he left, Denis looked over the motorhome manual and discovered that there was a switch, separate from the cooling and heating controller, that disbursed heat into the cabin.  We then discovered this switch that I wasn’t aware of; it was on the Maximum setting.  I just had to turn the dial to Off, and the problem was solved!  Something that I didn’t notice in the year that I’ve owned this motorhome.  I guess, the cops must have thought that it was a dial that opened a panel and turned it without turning it back to the original Off position

Michel and Denis live together in this house in St. Jerome.  Doremi lives on the top floor.  Denis has remained a bachelor all his life.  Michel, who had intended to say the same, suddenly found himself in the role of a father when Doremi was born.  Before he could bat his eyes, a son came along, followed by twin girls.  Michel was very much a free soul as a young man.  He often climbed snowy mountains, and stayed up there alone for days in isolation.  He remarked that the highest mountain he has ever climbed was raising his children; nothing was as challenging.  After the twins were born, he separated from the bearer of his children, but was fully involved in raising them.

I wish we could have spent more time together, but we were on a tight schedule, so left the next morning, after Albert and Kip went for a dip in (Lake) Lac Filion across from the house.

Our next stop was at the Le Rayon de Soleil campgrounds in Saint Alexandre de Kamouraska, Quebec.  We checked in at 9 pm.  Albert started a campfire and barbecued some sausages, bread and cheese, and I strummed on my guitar.  No sooner had we sung three songs that the campgrounds owner came to tell us that we needed to mum up.  Our neighbor had complained; it was bedtime for them … or that our singing was unbearable.

We decided to pack up and leave early the next day, and aim for Halifax, Nova Scotia … a 10 hour drive according to the GPS.  We left at 10 am; but because of making stops in between, we were to arrive at Halifax at 10:30 pm.  I had done all the driving by myself, so let Albert give it a go for a change.  Since he hadn’t driven anything so big, I was teaching him what to watch out for such as changing lanes and making turns.  The biggest mistake new bus drivers make is not being aware of the tail swings.  Anyway, we were driving on a pretty straight  and uncongested highway, so there wasn’t much lane switching or turning to do.  After an hour-and-half’s drive, Albert got tired and needed coffee to stay awake.  I decided to take over from thereon, but not push myself; so at 8 pm, pulled over to Walmart to do some shopping and camp at Amhurst, Nova Scotia–two hundred kilometers from Halifax.

The campground was called Loch Lomond.  We were attacked by an army of mosquitoes as soon as we got out of the motorhome.  A young lady by the name of Tina came to the rescue with an effective mosquito repellant, and sprayed us all over.

Albert took charge of barbecuing, while I did the motorhome setups.  Kip helped Albert with firing up the pit.

Tina was from Hamilton, Ontario.  She was traveling with her father to bring her mother’s ashes to Nova Scotia, the birthplace of her parents.  She had never been here, and was on a special roadtrip with her father to learn her roots.  She was, of course, in a somber mood, so was trying to drown it with weeds and alcohol.  She asked to hang out with us, which I happily obliged.  While Albert and I were busy doing our things, Kip entertained her.  At the end of the night, she complimented how sweet and wonderful a child Kip was, and how remarkable I was in raising her to become so.  It was nice hearing such compliments.  Kip and I held her arms on each side to walk her back to her tent as she was quite tipsy by then.

The next morning, Albert and Kip headed out to the pool while I went around taking pictures and videos of Blair Lake at the campgrounds.  Click the picture below to see images of it.

After, I joined them at the pool to do the same.  Click the image below to see them.

On Tuesday, July 9, we arrived at the Shubie Campgrounds in Halifax at 3 pm.  It was nice to arrive at a campground at daylight for a change.  We took our time setting up.  Albert took a shopping cart and walked 30 minutes to the Atlantic grocery store to get us some food to cook for the night.  We took it easy the rest of the night barbecuing outdoors and having a nice meal with wine. Click the image below to see a clip of it.

Incidentally, although the issue of the heat blowing from the cabin’s floor vents has been resolved, the heat permeating from the floor of the passenger’s seat hasn’t.  Albert’s shoes are now baked like the potatoes on BBQ.  Well … what will travel be without such incidents!