Sunday, April 27, 2008


We played 8 games of pool a few weeks ago & I lost every one again. In fact we've probably had 60 games of pool in the last 4 years & I've lost 50 of them. Guess that makes me a pretty poor pool player, right!! Well, not exactly. It's just that my nearly 92 year old Uncle Harry in Woodstock has a few more years on the end of a pool cue than I do. He's quite a hustler:))

Have you ever had a pine tree sneak up on you when you weren't looking. Happened to me last Saturday morning. I had walked out to the motorhome to unplug the electric cord because I intended to move the rig ahead about 20 feet to wash it. Opened the bin door, unplugged the cord, turned around & laid it on ground. Did you just catch my mistake!! I turned my back on an open bin door therefore making it a non existent open bin door. Kelly came out of the house with the dogs for our morning walk & off I went.
Upon returning I hopped into the motorhome, started it up, took a quick glance in the mirrors (no such thing as a quick glance!!) slapped it in drive & motored ahead. There is something about the sound of crunching & tearing metal that just kind of takes your stomach out on ya. You know you have just done something bad alright & by the sound of it there is probably going to be a costly repair somewhere. I knew there was no need to panic because whatever it was I screwed up would be out there waiting for me. I hazarded a look in my drivers side mirror & yup, there it was alright. A pine tree had sneaked up alongside the motorhome when I wasn't looking & all but tore off my (open) bin door. Trees will do that to motorhomes sometimes. But, I never thought a tree was smart enough to open the bin door first before attempting to wrench it right off the coach. Afterall, I had closed it...right??
Took my sick feeling stomach & exited the coach, walked around behind the motorhome to the drivers side. The bin door was twisted at an upward angle with the apparent & appropriate damage of course. Took it in my hands to try & twist it down but the whole door just came right off leaving an open & gaping electrical bin hole. The whole upper hinge mechanism was all torn to ratsheep. Torsion bar hanging askew, body flange bent, etc. etc. Amazingly enough the bin door itself was still intact. Wasn't twisted or bent, & no paint missing but that still didn't alleviate that awful feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you've just screwed up by not seeing a pine tree sneak up on you. I remember my Dad having a brand new Honda generator years ago at his cottage, leaving it behind the car, & then promptly backing over it. The look on his face that day was the same look I had on my face last Saturday morning!!
No point in me trying to fix it because I'm still attending my 4th year night school class on how to change a light bulb. We have an auto body repair shop near us so Monday morning I took the rig over there & left it with the professionals. Picked it up Tuesday afternoon all fixed up but I'm too embarrassed to tell you how much that tree cost me. Let's just say it took a huge bite out of our income tax return this year.
Kelly was quick to point out to me that things like that don't happen to her. I was quick to point out to her that's because she never drives the motorhome or moves it around. She quickly pointed out to me that maybe it was about time she did!! Case closed:((
The photo shows the repaired bin door back on the motorhome & the rascally pine tree that not only took a bite out of the bin door, but also our income tax refund:((
You can see a nick in the tree where it had it's way with the bin door & & beside that I sprayed a mark on the tree for future removal!!

It was a good week for painting so decided to finish the motorhome interior slide section that I had started back in Casa Grande, Arizona a few months ago. Back then I bought a quart of paint at Wal-Mart figuring to only paint the wall the mirror is on but since getting back I figured it would look nicer if I carried that paint theme through & did the whole slide. Slipped up to Wal-Mart in Goderich with a paint sample on the American can lid. No problem, right. Wrong!! The lady said the label was different on the paint can here in Canada but figured it would be alright. The American paint had a Satin finish. I failed to notice after she mixed up the new quart that she did it with a flat finish so off I merrily go & proceed to paint the rest of the slide. Not sure exactly when I noticed the difference, but there it was. Flat vs Satin & guess what, the new quart was a tad lighter. Awwwwww nuts!! Now, if you walked into our motorhome you probably wouldn't know the difference so I've decided not to tell anyone.........ok!!

The daily merry-go-round of discussions regarding our future continues. I think the most up front debilitating problem is the daily rising price of gas. It is pushing our trip to the southwest later this year farther & farther out to sea. As we see it right now, we are facing 3 options. 1.Stay home. 2.Travel half the distance to Georgia or Florida. 3.Bite the bullet & head for the southwest anyway.
First & foremost number 1 is not a consideration. "Stay home" are two dirty words that we will not allow in the house & besides, we didn't buy a motorhome a year ago just to have sit in the driveway like some big oversized flower planter!!!! Now, # 2. I am very reluctant to head down to Georgia or Florida for a number of reasons. I don't care for the topography at all & Florida is so flat it's probably going to slide into the Gulf of Mexico this winter because of the number of people scrambling around on it's surface. Just toooooo many people, traffic congestion, etc. etc. I don't think they have the boondocking areas like out west either & the thoughts of languishing in some boring, crowded, noisy & way over priced RV park with not a mountain in view is totally unacceptable to us. And for sure it's going to get a lot worse with the high gas prices because a lot of people who would normally head for the southwest will now be forced to do the Georgia-Florida thing. I can just see the whole retail industry down there right now with big grins on their faces as they get ready to pump up their prices on everything & nail those "snow birds" right smack in their pocket books when they get there.
Number 3 of course is the most illogical choice because of the soaring gas prices but compared to numbers 1 & 2 it's probably just going to have to be a bullet biter for us. The southwest just has soooooo much more to offer in every way imaginable & we just do not want to miss out on it's beauty. We'll just have to cut down on expenses to compensate for the gas. Let me see now, hmmmmm, 10 cases of Kraft dinners just might get us there, sustain us, & get us home again. Yes, I think that's it:))

Saturday, April 19, 2008


We have been home in Bayfield now for over 5 weeks & for the first time in five & half years the spark of living in our little pine forest has dimmed. I suppose we were first aware of something amiss about 4 months ago while we were traveling in the southwest. The thoughts of returning home in March just didn't have the positive impact it used to have. It was our 4th trip to the southwest in 5 years & this winter with the installation of our solar panels, we were able to boondock for the first time & that made a big difference for us. We loved the freedom it gave us. We were no longer dependent on overpriced & overcrowded noisy RV parks. It brought the whole RVing experience into perspective for us. And it showed us we could do things how we wanted to do them. To watch the sunrise over a distant mountain range, to step out of the RV with only Mother Nature to greet you in the morning, to hear the birds welcoming in a new day, to sit quietly by a crackling fire listening to the coyotes in the distance & to be free of people stress for long stretches of time has worked it's magic on us to a point where we are seriously considering some long term changes over the next year or two. It's a conversation we have been having on & off for the past couple of years but since returning home this time that conversation is beginning to form the basis of a plan.

Back in September of last year when first beginning this blog I wrote a piece called, "Why An RV??" and I will re-print a segment of it here. It gives an idea of our thoughts at the time & how those thoughts have carried through & grown..............

From the first day Kelly & I met, it was apparent that we had a lot of things in common. Over the years we talked more & more of someday owning a motorhome & traveling around this big beautiful land of ours & in 1997 the dream began to take shape. We bought our first rig, an old 17 foot 1979 Dodge Centurion Class C. It was kinda beat up but it was a start. Next came a 24 foot Prowler travel trailer in 1999. Nice trailer & our first towing experience. From there, we shifted back to a 23 foot 19?? Gulf Stream Class C . Went all the way down to Big Bend in Texas during the winter of 2003 with the Gulf Stream but sold it when we got back because it was too small & had some problems. Somewhere between then & 2006 we acquired a couple of extra doggy pals so when we decided to get another RV we had to think bigger. After waffling back & forth between a Motorhome or truck & 5th wheel we decided on the truck & 5ver combination & headed off for New Mexico & Arizona in the winter of 06/07. The 2004 GMC Sierra 6.0 & the 2005 Rockwood fifth wheel worked well to-gether but it didn't take us long to realize we should have decided on the Motorhome!! Nothing against trucks & fifth wheels but it just wasn't the right set up for us, especially traveling with 3 dogs. When we arrived home in the spring we traded the truck & fifth wheel in on a 33' 2003 Damon Challenger 329 motorhome. And, that's where we're at to-day. And we love the motorhome:))Now. what does all this have to do with, "Why an RV!!" (they don't call me Mr. Blabberfingers for nothing you know:))For a number of years I drove an Airports transportation van based in Stratford Ontario taking people to & from Pearson International Airport in Toronto. I would quite often hear conversations between passengers & the one common thread I picked up over the years from people heading off, or coming home from vacations, was........... "I wished we had done this when we were younger & still had our health." Women travelers outnumbered men travelers almost two to one because the husbands had died & now the ladies had to travel on their own. I saw this over & over again. In the last 3 years I have been driving a mobility van part time in our area & the people I transport are all in wheelchairs & mostly elderly. I am frequently in & out of various nursing home facilities so I see first hand what the latter years of a person's life can unfortunately be like. Not good!!!!Kelly & I made the decision a long time ago that if we were ever in a financial position to get out & see the country, hike the canyons & trails, walk the desert floors, travel the mountain passes & enjoy the outdoors we love so much, we had better get at it while we were both still in reasonably good health. The financial opportunity presented itself in the late summer of 2006 & we set our plans in motion.We know it's a big gamble & a risk but we've seen tooooooooo many people who have waited toooooooo long to live their dreams only to end up sick, incapacitated, in a care facility, or deceased too early............. and, THAT is WHY we made our decision to travel now while we can!! We may one day regret our decision or we may not. Only time will tell, so stay tuned, wish us luck, & ride along with The Bayfield Bunch as we chase our dream around the next bend, over the next hill & into the sunrises & sunsets of this beautiful land of ours ...................
That was written over 7 & a half months ago & we still feel the same way, only much more so. It's too expensive for us to maintain a home year round plus travel 6 months of the year & with the age clock ticking now we are having to seriously consider our options. Many pros & cons & most full timing RVers have at one time or another been in this very same position. To stay or to go, & as they all have realized, it's no small decision!!
Soooooo, stay tuned to The Bayfield Bunch as we move slowly ahead with the ups & downs of our decision making over the next little while. To stay or to go, or maybe consider a move to western Canada where the drive to the southwest wouldn't be so long each winter. I will post our thoughts & ideas & if anyone has some good advice for us, we would love to hear from you. You can contact us via email by clicking on "Contact The Bayfield Bunch" which you will find at the top of the right hand column just above, "Our Rig & Tow Car." Yes, we're on another journey......a journey of decision making:))

Sunday, April 13, 2008


Well, I guess it's inevitable when your writing a blog & expressing opinions. Received the following "comment" in response to my little attempted humorous article entitled, "Alas, It's The Last Travel Blog," dated March 13/08.

"Why can't you Canadians stay on your side of the border and quit complaining about the USA in your blogs?"

I suppose the reader is right to a certain extent but just to be sure, I went back & re-read what I had written. I made 26 comments & here is what I'm assuming the reader is mad about. But first let me re-print what I said before making my comments at that time:

Below are a few thoughts, opinions, ideas, observations & basic musings I have concluded about our trip. Some are greatly exaggerated, some are slightly humorous, some are angry, some have no basis in fact whatsoever, some are biased, some are off the wall, some are pure speculation & some I have no idea where the thought process came from in the first place. However, they all have one thing in common. There is an element of truth in each one. Even the ones with no basis in fact whatsoever.

- Why does the American southwest have to have sooooo much wind!!
>>Just a curious question on my part. Probably has something to do with the mountains to the west & the flat plains to the east & the fact that most prevailing winds come from the west. Complaining?? I think not!!

- There are more McDonald's restaurants than there are grains of sand!!
>>Complaining?? No sireeee!! I happen to like McDonalds & we've got lots of em here too:))

- There are more shards of broken glass along the roadsides in the southwest than there are stars in the sky. This is particularly true in the Indian Reservations. Why is that!!
>>Unfortunately, this one is fact. And it's a sad fact too. I have respect for Indian people & their culture but I just don't understand why they have let their roadsides become such a mess. We have similar problems here in Canada as well. Is it a complaint?? Yes, but it applies here as well.

- Why can't convicted drunk drivers & alcohol related driving offences people be made to crawl on their hands & knees along the countless thousands of miles of roadway picking up all the broken glass & booze bottles they have obviously thrown out there!!!!
>>This applies to any country, anywhere, & not just in the USA.

-What are all those American military planes doing in the sky every night over southern Arizona. >>Pilot training is the obvious answer here. This was not a complaint, just an observation.

- What ever happened to simple gas pumps. Nowadays you need a degree in engineering just to figure out all the different types of pumps & how they operate. I hate those things!!
>>This one's about gas pumps. ALL GAS PUMPS EVERYWHERE!! Complaint, yes. Specifically about!! Gas pumps are gas pumps wherever they are.

- Why can't we just do away with the border between Canada & the U.S. & cut down on those long border waits & silly customs questions. And stop those stupid agriculture checks. The customs officials make enough money to buy their own food!!
>>Well, this one is self explanatory & works both ways. Canadian or American customs practices coming or going no matter which side of the border your on. Anti-American?? No, not at all.

- And if I fly my Canadian flag it doesn't mean I'm there to claim I have just defeated the United States of America in some big huge war or something. It's just a silly little flag to say, hey, we're from Canada guys. Your friendly & helpful neighbors to the north, remember. Geeeeezzzzzzzz!!
>>OK, I've seen the light on this one & I'll leave my Canadian flag at home next time. But, Anti-American?? Definitely not!!

- How come the United States hasn't smartened up to Tim Horton's coffee yet. That Charbucks stuff you got is awful.
>>Well, I could get me in big trouble over this one but I'll have to defend myself by saying it's a personal choice I guess. However, they don't call Starbuck's, Charbucks for nothing you know. Anti-American, Anti-caffeine, or anti-anything?? Nope, just happen to think Tim's brews a better coffee:))

- Why can't some places put butter on the toast.... I'm talking to you Cracker Barrel!! And while I'm at it, why can't you people include the price of coffee in the breakfast price. Coffee is separate??...what is that!!
>>I'm squawking about toast not being buttered here. Not exactly earth shattering & probably something I shouldn't have squawked about in the first place but somedays you just got to complain about something & for me that morning it was unbuttered toast. I don't know if we have Cracker Barrels here in Canada, but if we do.........I hope they butter the toast or I'm gonna be ticked!!

- How come so many towns have so many wrecked & tumble down buildings in them.
>>I think this is a legitimate question & I'm assuming the southwest has a different set of by-laws & building codes about derelict old buildings. I think most places to the east tear the buildings down for safety reasons. However, on the flip side of that question........Everytime you tear down an old building, your destroying a part of history forever. And afterall, isn't that what the American West is all about..........history of the old west. So, I'm on the fence here. But complaining........... no, just wondering.

- Why can't you Americans put some color in your money so us dumb ass Canadians can tell a one dollar bill from a hundred dollar bill.
>>Alright, you got me on this one............maybe we should stay on our side of the border before we all go broke!!

By the way, I didn't include the favorable comments about America I've made because for sure I'll have some Canadian with his nose out of joint emailing me to say, "well, if ya like it down there so much, why the hell don't ya just stay there!!

And, in closing I'd like to thank the person for their comment because you gave me something to think & write about on an otherwise boring Sunday night & if you have the time to read the blog about our recent trip to the southwest you will see that we love the USA:)) My positive comments about your country probably outweigh the negative comments by about 500 to 1. Have yourself a good day & welcome to our Canadian blog......on both sides of the border!!
P.S. My American wife is from Spencerport, New York. Toodles:))

Thursday, April 03, 2008


(Click on the images to make them bigger)

Last October just before we headed for the southwest I was over doing some yardwork at Deerpark Lodge where Kelly works when Kirsten, the owner, came over to talk to me & wondered if I was planning on doing anything special for Kelly's birthday on March 30/08. I said I had been thinking about that & she said she had an idea.

Kirsten has been so appreciative of all that Kelly has done for her these past 4 years at Deerpark Lodge & said she would like to do something special for Kelly on her(60th)birthday. Said she would pay for Kelly's 2 daughters to fly from Vancouver & Spain to be here for her birthday & also to have Kelly's entire family come from Rochester NY & Cambridge, Ontario. They could all spend the entire week-end at Deerpark. I thought, "WOW" what a great idea, so in that brief 10 minute conversation we hatched a plan to spring a surprise birthday party for the end of March the following year of 2008. It would be another 5 long months before Kirsten & I would meet again on the grounds of Deerpark for another quick conversation only days before the party.

But, going back to October of 07. Immediately following our conversation that day I sent out an email to all of Kelly's family members laying out Kirsten's idea & that started the ball rolling. However, just days later we headed off in the motorhome for the American southwest thousands of miles away. Problem now could I communicate with anyone back in Canada. It was difficult at first trying to figure it out because I couldn't email Kirsten at Deerpark in case Kelly checked the work email account there. We had an old email account that we seldom used so I tapped into that & emailed Kelly's daughter Sabra in Cambridge. We established a link & I had Sabra only send emails between the hours of 10 & 10:30 at night after Kelly had gone to bed. And that's how we worked on the birthday plans for the next four & a half months while we were on the road in the American southwest. Biggest challenge for me was remembering to delete all traces of any emails I had sent or received. No easy task for this aging memory:((

Now, we'll fast forward to the end of March 08. It was clear that Kelly didn't have a clue about the surprise. I was shoveling some snow at Deerpark last week when Kirsten came over for a quick chat. We were able to firm up a few last minute details. It was the first time I had talked to her since our first conversation 5 months earlier.

So, here's how we sprung the surprise. Kirsten made sure Kelly left work at Deerpark early Friday afternoon because all the family members were due to arrive at the Lodge about 3. Around 5:15 Kirsten phoned our house saying a large newly installed window in one of the recently renovated cabins had just blown out, she's worried about it, & she needs me to come over to take pictures of it for her insurance adjuster as soon as possible.

I had already mentioned to Kelly that we should go out for supper Friday night & then a movie in Goderich so I said to her, "well lets go over now & I'll take those pictures before we head for Goderich."

As we drove into Deerpark I noticed all the family cars were parked at the far end of the park & some were hidden behind cabins. I knew everyone would be in the big lodge room right behind the office so when we pulled in I said to Kelly that we might as well go into the office first & take some additional pictures of that newly renovated area while I had the camera with me. We parked the car & went in. Kirsten was in there & said to Kelly, "good thing your here because I need you to light the furnace pilot light in the next room." (adjacent to the office) So without hesitation, Kelly opened the door & walked into the big lodge room..........


There was Kelly's whole family (almost:)) standing there. She was sooooooo shocked & it took her about 10 seconds to grasp the reality of the situation. Her mind just couldn't put to-gether what she was seeing. And then her daughter Sabra said, "and here comes another surprise Mom." With that, her 2 other daughters from Vancouver & Spain came walking out of another room:)) It had been a couple of years since she had seen them. Poor Kelly was just dumbfounded at what was happening & totally overwhelmed. The surprise was a complete success & a good time was had by all for the whole rest of the week-end:))))))))