Monday, 30 June 2008
Day 14, Moose Jaw to Bassano, Alberta
Bassano is about 100 miles east of Calgary. Our original plan was to stay in Medicine Hat but when we got there at 1:00PM it seemed like a good idea to keep going and get closer to Calgary.
After a stop at the Medicine Hat Costco we set a course for Brooks, Alberta. A few miles from Costco the engine started acting up and loosing power. Sprinters are renowned for turbo resonator (TR) failures. When this occurs the computer puts the machine into the Limp Home Mode (LHM) which means you can’t go much over 30 miles an hour. I was prepared for this and used a gadget called the ScanGuard II to reset the computer. Now we could go 55 miles an hour. I had purchased a spare TR before the trip and when we get to Calgary I’ll have a dealer replace this part.
When we got to Brooks we found the best campground according to the new Alberta Campground Guide no longer existed. The property had been bulldozed flat. We tried another campground but it looked pretty decrepit and was full so we got back on the Trans Canada Highway and headed for Bassano, population 1200. We are in what the guide says is a quiet country campground. It is quiet alright; we are the only people here. We do have water and power. There is no attendant so you put your money in an envelope and drop it into a box. Verizon has 4 bars here and the broadband data works.
Posted on 06/30/2008 10:42 PM by Bob Duthie
Sunday, 29 June 2008
Day 13 Brandon to Moose Jaw, Sask
Can you believe the oldest continuously operated RV Park in North America is right here in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan? And we are staying in it. The River Park Campground formely known as the Tourist Camp was opened in 1927.
We walked 1.8 miles to get to the downtown and saw where I believe my grandfather’s bank used to be. It is now a very elegant clothing store. The Bank of Montreal is now in new location with parking and ATM. The railway station is now a very large liquor store.
It seems the passenger trains no longer run through Moose Jaw and Calgary on the way to Vancouver but rather run on the more northern line through Saskatoon and Edmonton. Moose Jaw is also the home of the Worlds Largest Moose, a 32 foot tall sculpture. Last year a large section of his jaw fell off. A nationwide fund raiser yielded enough money to put him back together. The work is underway now. The road to day from Brandon was 4 lanes and in good condition except for a small section near Moosomin. We had lunch beside the parliament building in Regina. Verizon voice works here but there is no data service. The campground does have free WiFi.
Posted on 06/29/2008 8:30 PM by Bob Duthie
Saturday, 28 June 2008
Day 11 Dryden to Brandon MB
We crossed into Manitoba just before lunch. The government weigh scale was open and I found we are well under all weight limits for the View. The process was all automatic and there was no charge. Verizon cell phone service resumed at Kenora ON and both voice and data are working at Brandon.
Crossing into Manitoba the trees become taller and more lush. After a few miles the trees are gone and we were in “big sky” country. We could see storms miles away.
We took the downtown route through Winnipeg and learned why there is a bypass. The streets were narrow and congested. It is also a tortuous route with all the rivers that pass through Winnipeg. Without the Garmin GPS we would have been lost several times. In Winnipeg at a Husky Service Center diesel was selling for less than gasoline. At Can$1.306 per liter it works out to US$4.84 per gallon.
We are now back on schedule and will spend a rest day tomorrow in Brandon.
Posted on 06/28/2008 1:14 AM by Bob Duthie
Saturday, 28 June 2008
Day 12 Brandon MB
The morning was spent in laundry, ironing, and fixing a leaky sink seal. After lunch we toured one of the big attractions in Brandon, the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum. During World War II, Canada undertook to training pilots and gunners from the Commonwealth Countries of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and England. Almost 50,000 were trained here with 600 lost in training accidents. The museum is in an old hanger with a few planes and boxes of stuff that hasn’t seen the light of day since the War (see photo).
Tomorrow we head 239 miles to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. My grandfather lived there for a while early in the last century as a Bank of Montreal manager.
Posted on 06/28/2008 10:26 PM by Bob Duthie
Friday, 27 June 2008
Day 10 Terrace Bay to Dryden ON
Another 350 mile day. We are still ½ day behind schedule due to the cancelled Rotary Club meeting in Brockville on Monday. We scheduled a rest day on Saturday (Day 12) so we will catch up then.
We are now on the only road that connects Eastern Canada to Western Canada. It is a two lane road with occasional 3 lanes for passing. Construction work goes on endlessly because of frost heaves and wear out. The speed limit is 90 km/hour which is about 56 mph. That is a real good speed for the View but we are about the only vehicle going at the speed limit and are usually passed by all others. Many road signs will say it is just 1 hour to their facility; however, to get there in an hour you would have to be doing 70 mph.
The scenery from Thunder Bay on is pretty monotonous with flat land and scrub spruce trees. The few towns are sparsely settled and pretty sad looking. There are very few trucks on the road as it looks like everything headed west goes by container on huge trains. (see photo).
Diesel is available at virtually every gas station. The price differential here between diesel and gas is only 7% compared to 23% in the USA, thus a diesel engine is much more economical than a gas engine to travel in Canada. However, diesel costs about $6.00 per gallon compared to $4.50 in New York state. Calculating mpg for the View is confusing. The speedometer mph reads 6% higher than the GPS; adjusting for that we are getting 16.5 mpg. Using Microsoft Maps to determine the distance we are getting 18.2 mpg. In any event it costs about $100 per day for diesel. Campsites are $25-30 per night. Toronto to Vancouver for 2 people on the View would take 9 days and cost $1100 for gas and parking. The lowest cost airfare for 2 people is currently about $450 but is about 1/10th the fun. We have had Verizon voice and data service every day except the past two. Even at Thunder Bay there was no signal. Here in Dryden I am using WiFi.
Posted on 06/27/2008 12:39 AM by Bob Duthie
Wednesday, 25 June 2008
Day 9 June 25 Thessalon to Terrace Bay
We covered 351 miles today in 8.9 hours (including stops) from 7:45am to 4:38pm for an overall average of 39.5 mph. The route along the western and north shore of Lake Superior is spectacular with long views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. The road was only completed at the town of Wawa in 1960. The Canada goose statue was erected to honor the event. A year later my parents drove the route in a 1959 Studebaker and took this photo. The inset shows the changes that have taken place over the past nearly 50 years.
Posted on 06/25/2008 10:21 PM by Bob Duthie
Tuesday, 24 June 2008
Day 5 June 21, Brockville
Breakfast was downtown with our old friend Herb Sheridan. The restaurant was the on the site of the Peacock Inn where I first met Mavis. A bus tour of the town followed. It was led by the Brockville Museum director in a period costume. We learned stuff we had never known in the 13 years we lived in the town.
The last stop was at the Fulford Mansion which is now a National Historic Site. Fulford made a lot of money selling Lydia Pinkum's Pink Pills for Pale People. I had always thought they were loaded with an addictive drug but the tour guide said that was not the case. George Fulford was just a remarkable marketer.
In the evening we had a boat cruise on the St Lawrence River with lots of food. In talking to people I established that there are still 3 or more of the switching systems I helped develop still in operation almost 40 years after the first one went into service. One services the fine folks that live in Witless Bay, Newfoundland.
Posted on 06/24/2008 1:55 AM by Bob Duthie
Tuesday, 24 June 2008
Day 7, June 23 Brockville to Stonecliffe, ON
Today's photo is from the yesterday's hydrofoil race. The races are spectacular. The boats go 140 mph on the straight sections and with the engines turning at 7,000 rpm kick up a huge rooster tail. I decided to delay our departure today until after lunch so I could attend a Brockville Rotary Club meeting at the Brockville Country Club. We slept in, lounged around, and I helped Lou take a boat back up the river.
We took the motorhome to St Lawrence park and used the dump facility there and drove to the country club. No Rotary Club; it seems that they were having an installation banquet tonight on the river. I wasn’t the only one caught by the cancellation. I gave a flag to a member that also showed up and asked him to have the secretary mail me a flag. This will count as a make-up.
We drove 166 miles to Stonecliffe on the Ottawa River and parked in a campground on the river. We are now about 160 miles behind schedule. The roads are now all 2 lane with occasional passing lanes so it is slower going than the Interstates. The interview with the Brockville Recorder & Times appeared in the paper today.
Posted on 06/24/2008 2:04 AM by Bob Duthie
Tuesday, 24 June 2008
Day 6 June 22, Brockville
Breakfast was put on by Simon Fuller. Simon is the brains and money behind a new development for the waterfront (see photo of the model). There will be 72 condos, two floors of hotel, shops, boat slips, and a Discovery Center. The Discover Center will have a 250 seat auditorium. It will be equipped in such a way I could give my Great Loop talks from Nashville to an audience in Brockville. Everything will be first class.
Simon is from Ottawa and when he discovered the old Brockville Post Office designed by his grandfather for sale on eBay, bought it and decided to invest in Brockville. In the afternoon Lou took me out on his boat to watch the hydrofoil races. We saw a couple of races, however, due to high winds, the races were put on hold and Lou dropped me off at the Yacht Club. I had to wait for Mavis who was out shopping and spent my time talking boats with a man who was working on his 1976 Coronet.
In the evening we attended the big GTE banquet. I was interviewed by the local newspaper as the mayor (who also worked at GTE) told the reporter I was a local hero. My talk on "How R&D Began"” went over well in spite of the horrible acoustics in a curling rink. Other speakers that didn't hold the mike close and speak slowly completely lost the audience.
Posted on 06/24/2008 1:59 AM by Bob Duthie
Tuesday, 24 June 2008
Day 8 June 24 Stonecliffe to Thessalon, ON
We were on the road all day from 7:45AM to 4:45pm with stops in North Bay for shopping, Espanola for the Post Office, Spanish for the marina, and Blind River for ice cream. We had stayed at Blind River on our Great Loop trip so knew where to find the ice cream shop.
At Thessalon we walked around the town and also visited the marina. Overall I would say Blind River is the best facility. The marina at Thessalon is the closest to shopping. The photo is looking west over the North Channel of Lake Huron from the beach beside the town RV park. The cloud formations were interesting today, but by sunset had cleared out completely. Another Winnebago like ours came in beside us tonight. The couple aboard are also boaters from Harbor Springs MI and are on their way from Florida for the summer. They have cruised under the Mackinac Bridge 27 times on both sail and power boats.
Posted on 06/24/2008 10:00 PM by Bob Duthie
Friday, 20 June 2008
Day 4 June 20, Brockville
We visited with a number of old friends from the days when we lived here. Next we drove around the town and then went to the golf club for early registration at the GTE Reunion. With 500 people registered for the event we wanted to avoid a long line for the evening event. Well there was a long line already.
It was fun trying to figure out who the people were that we haven'’t seen in 30 years. Some were easy, but others I think were impersonating the real person.
The event is very well organized and there are banners all over town welcoming us. It must be one of the biggest events ever in a town of 22,000 people. There was even a special insert section in the local newspaper.
Posted on 06/20/2008 9:26 PM by Bob Duthie
Thursday, 19 June 2008
Day 2 June 18, Columbus OH to Erie PA
We had a little rain on the way today but beautiful weather when we arrived in Erie. Ohio speed limits are 65 with trucks 55. We cruised at about 62 mph and got 18 miles to the gallon. The best ever.
We got to Erie about 12:45pm and checked into the Lampe Campground which is right on Lake Erie. It is almost empty but very nice being a service of the Erie Port Authority. We then toured the Maritime Museum and learned all about the great naval battle in 1812 where the American’s 5 ships beat the 9 British (read Canadian) ships. The British guns could fire 1 mile while the American guns were only good for ½ mile. However, the American fleet captain, Perry, made a gusty move and went between the British ships firing on both sides. The photo shows the recreation of the event. The exhibit builders fired guns at the mockup and filmed it. Turns out that the exit holes from the cannon shells are much larger than the entry holes and spray lethal splinters at the gun crews.
Tonight we had dinner with old friends Jan and Frank Reese. Frank was my mentor when I was at GTE Automatic Electric. He is now 90 but in great shape. Tomorrow we visit the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton NY and then on to Brockville for the GTE Reunion.
Posted on 06/19/2008 2:37 AM by Bob Duthie
Thursday, 19 June 2008
Day 3 June 19 Erie PA to Brockville ON
We left early at 7:15AM to allow time to visit the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton. We last visited this museum by boat in 2005 on our Great Loop trip. It is now even better. I met with the business manager and the museum shop agreed to a trial selling our CD-ROM that includes a tour of the museum and the area waters. Then we had a private tour of La Duchesse, a 1903 houseboat. Originally it stayed at Bolt Castle but sank in the boat house. It was then restored by one of the McNally family of the publishing Rand McNallys and now is at the museum. (see photo).
Arriving in Brockville we are staying in a friend’s driveway at Molly’s Gut right on the St Lawrence River.
Posted on 06/19/2008 9:10 PM by Bob Duthie
Wednesday, 18 June 2008
Day 1 June 17 Nashville TN to Columbus OH
We left Nashville early at 6:45am. Because of the early start we were able to put in 408 miles traveling via Louisville, and Cincinnati. Most of the time we drove behind trucks in the right lane doing about 63 mph. It is quite relaxing that way as we rarely had to pass another vehicle. We arrived at the Cross Creek Camping Resort about 20 miles north of Columbus at 4:30PM. I asked for a quiet spot, with no trees and no nearby fires . . . and got just what I asked for. I think things are slow at this campground as I didn’t see another RV come in after us.
We used up almost all the cheap diesel from our Florida trip and refueled at Elizabethtown KY. Diesel cost $4.56 per gallon at a BP station. Mavis was taking photos out the window as we traveled through downtown Cincinnati and caught this rather arty photo of 4 people standing on the bridge supports.
Posted on 06/18/2008 12:41 AM by Bob Duthie
Tuesday, 10 June 2008
Planning the Vancouver Island Trip
We bought a Winnebago View, our land yacht, a year ago and use it to visit boating places we have enjoyed. The View is small and built for touring with 2 people. It has a 5 cylinder Mercedes Benz diesel engine, propane generator, AC, heat, fridge, stove, convection microwave, satellite TV, etc. However, it has no slide outs (to save weight) and bunk beds (to save space). Last December and January we spent 7 weeks aboard touring Florida and averaged 16 miles per US Gallon of diesel. We leave June 17th on the first leg to Brockville Ontario where there is a reunion for the folks that worked at Automatic Electric in the 1960s. On June 23 we will take the Trans-Canada Highway to Calgary then north to Edmonton, and west through Jasper, Whistler and North Vancouver. Then a ferry takes us across to Vancouver Island. Our return trip will be through the northern US states with a stop in St. Paul to visit our grandkids. I'll try to keep this blog up-to-date at least every few days.
Posted on 06/10/2008 2:50 PM by Bob Duthie