Friday, September 28, 2012

A Scary Trip Across the Confederation Bridge

The Confederation Bridge is a 9km long, 2 lane bridge that connects Prince Edward Island to mainland Canada. Other than a ferry at the other end of the province it is "the Island's" only vehicle transportation link to the rest Canada, and yesterday we nearly shut it down.

As we started out to cross the bridge it was very windy but the large trucks and other RVs seemed to be heading out with confidence so off we went. About 500 meters onto the bridge our awning started to bang and shake. The wind was blowing underneath it and it was coming loose. Oh my!

Once you get on the bridge there is no turning back and no stopping as there are no pull off lanes. So we had no choice but to continue on. For 9 kms. With the awning banging and crashing against the side of the Adventure Bus. About half way across the awning itself started to come off the roll.

I read a blog once (I wish I could remember which one) about a couple whose awning came loose on a very windy day on Interstate 5 in California and she had to hang out the window and hold on to the awning until her husband was able to pull off the road. I had visions of doing the same thing for 5 kms on the bridge - a very scary prospect.

Meanwhile, Arch had visions of shutting down the bridge when the awning blew off. He drove very slowly and adjusted the passenger side mirror so he could watch the awning. The cars behind us could see what was happening and gave us lots of distance and we kept going - creeping along at about 50 km/hr. And we made it! Thank heavens!

We pulled in to the Tourist Information Centre at the exit to inspect the damage and see what our situation was. The force of the wind had broken one of the clips holding the awning in place and about 25% of the awning had come off the roll. We were struggling to get to get everything back together - Arch on the roof and me down below, when a man who could see we were struggling and stopped to help. His assistance was just what we needed and within 5 minutes everything was back in place. Except the awning was still partially off the roll.

Today Arch will try to fix that and design a back up system to hold the awning in place if this ever happens again. Any suggestions?

Other than that our trip to PEI was great - I will do a blog post about that later.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Hunting for Food - 2012 Style

It rained for the first three days of our visit to Prince Edward Island. We know that entertaining ourselves on rainy days will be a problem as we are “go outside” people and a lot of what we (especially Arch) like to do means being outside. So, after a spectacular summer of very little rain, this was our first real test. And, as we must stay on budget, we did not want to spend any unnecessary money. The solution? A food hunt for our dinner.

PEI issues a brochure “PEI Flavours Culinary Trail”. I found a recipe for PEI Lobster-Stuffed Spuds in it so we decided to follow the trail along Green Gables Shore and gather the food necessary to make them for supper.

First stop: Island Farmhouse Gouda to buy The Cheese Lady’s Gouda. They had an interesting video about how the Gouda was made and a glassed in area where we could watch the process happening. Unfortunately, when we were there, The Cheese Lady was not at work, so all we saw were the Gouda aging – a little like watching grass grow.
Next stop: Fishermen’s Wharf in North Rustico to purchase lobster and, we hoped, have lunch at the Blue Mussel Café. Again, we are here out of season so there wasn’t much action. The café was closed, but the lobster pound was open so we were able to get our lobster already cooked.

Lunch: So now we are on a hunt for a spot to have lunch. There was a Fisherman’s Wharf Lobster Supper restaurant there but these places tend to be very production (vs. quality) oriented and as buses from cruise ships visiting Charlottetown lined the road we decided to pass. Our brochure recommended a spot in Cavendish so on we went. Chez Yvonne sounded like a small, cozy café but when we arrived we found this. With more buses parked in back.

But we were pleasantly surprised. The bus people left as we arrived and the restaurant was very quickly tidied up and we were seated. The food was all homemade and both it and the service were excellent.

So then, on to get some mussels for Arch (I do not care for them) at Carr’s Shellfish on the wharf at Stanley Bridge. This is where the famous PEI blue mussel comes from and the waters around Stanley Bridge are full of mussel (and oyster) farms.
Finally, one last shop at Hills Farm Stand to purchase two really nice baking potatoes. Another disappointment as they only sold potatoes in 5lb (or larger) bags. We wouldn’t eat that many potatoes in a month and had no place to store them anyway.
So we passed on that and went to a grocery store where we were able to buy two potatoes (grown in PEI). Then home to make supper.

Arch shelled the lobster and scrubbed the mussels, we popped the potatoes in the oven to bake and I prepared the ingredients for the stuffed potatoes and the mussels.
For the mussels I simple added a little chopped garlic and onion, a bit of white wine, some chopped tomato and a tablespoon of butter. Place them on the burner for about 5 minutes, until they open, and voila: steamed mussels.

The recipe for the potatoes was equally as simple:

Lobster-stuffed Spuds

2 baking potatoes, baked and hot
¼ cup cooked lobster meat, chopped
2 tsp butter
2 ½ tbsp. sour cream
1 green onion, diced small
Two rashers bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1/3 cup Gouda, grated (buy the “old” Gouda)

Preheat the oven to 4000F
Cut the cooked potatoes in half and scoop out the potato. Set the skins aside. In a bowl mash the potato with the butter, sour cream, green onion and ½ the cheese, Beat until smooth. Fold in the lobster meat and bacon. (I simply mixed it all together with a spoon). Season with pepper and salt.  Spoon the mixture into the potato skins, sprinkle with the remaining Gouda and bake for about 15 minutes, until hot and cheese is melted.

Add a green salad and you have supper:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Rich Really do Live Better Than You and Me!

Fox Harb'r Golf Resort was developed by former Tim Horton's owner as a playground for the rich and priveledged. It has 2 golf courses, one 18 holes and a 9 hole executive course. The 18 hole course is $300 a round so there was no way we could afford that. At $30 a round the executive course is on the higher end for a very short 9 hole course but do-able for our budget so yesterday we decided to give it a go.

There is no signage directing you to the course and the drive in would lead one to believe there is nothing special at the end of the road when suddenly you come upon a very long wrought irom fence, and then this:
The entrance gate was open so we simply drove in and up the very long and beautifully landscaped Amazing Grace Boulevard. The suddenly we came upon this:
The landing strip for private jets. Right in the centre of the golf course. I guess there was no way to make the airplane hanger look beautiful.

Off to one side of the course were private homes and condos. Nova Scotia's favourite songstress, Anne Murray, owns a home here.

Then we came to the main club house complex: 
It was beautifully appointed, both inside and out. I of course had to take a few photos of the women's locker room and bathroom. What is it about fancy bathrooms that inspires us to take photos - do we really expect, an outhouse???

Then on to the pro shop to book a tee time. Met the very personable golf pro and after a lot of chat about the course and how it operated he gave us a score card for the short course. When Arch asked "how much?' he said "No charge. You are guests of the resort. Have fun. Play as many rounds as you want."  What a nice surprise! So off we went.

The 9 hole course runs along the Northumberland Strait and the view is spectacular.

It was very windy though, and much tougher than it looks, especially the greens, so 9 holes was enough for our first golf outing since last April.

So we left the sea gulls to their green guarding job,
Said good-by to the fox,
And were on our way. What a fun experience thanks to a generous gesture by the golf pro. Thanks Fox Harb'r!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Some Days are Diamonds, Some are Coal

Yesterday was the first day of our new life as travelling full-time RVers. The day started out as a diamond. Beautiful weather. Delivered Tara to the  dog sitter for a 10 day stay and dog-free holiday for us (she is going to the farm for her holiday). Had a delicious breakfast at Rhubarb Cafe and Grill. We cleaned and prepared the Adventure Bus to go. Pulled out into Bay Hammocks parking lot to attach the dolly and load the car, leaving our 3 month home looking lonely:

And then the day rapidly turned into coal.

In the excitement of the moment Arch drove the car over the end of the dolly:
Oh my! This was not good.

The business next to Bay Hammocks runs a car-towing service but no one was there. So Arch called them and Jamie, the owner sent out a man to have a look and decide what was to be done. He brought a couple of jacks with him which he mounted on these boards to raise the car off the dolly. No such luck.
Jamie was called again and he decided to round up several guys and they would lift the car off the dolly. They all arrived in an hour or so and that is exactly what they did.

So with the car properly loaded Arch jumped in the Adventure Bus to start it. Fail!! The motor appeared to be dead. After canvassing several neighbours they found someone who had a set of jumper cables and attempted to get the thing started.  
No way. The motor simply would not turn over. So then they decided the starter was gone and Jamie hopped in his truck and headed to Dartmouth (45 minutes away) to get a new one.

He arrived back one and a half hours later and installed the new starter. Still nothing. So one of his men crawled under the Adventure Bus to see what was wrong.
I think he is under there somewhere. Oh, here is a foot, so there must be a person attached!

After much discussion, wiggling and jiggling of wires and a lot of bad language the Adventure Bus finally started. But that was not a solution because, if we turned the motor off, we would have to go through the same procedure again. And, by now it was 5:30pm. 

Arch made the decision that we would take the Adventure Bus to Homestead Auto Repair, 10 kms down the road The owner used to be a service manager at a Ford dealership and knows everything there is to know about Ford trucks. They also did a lot of work on the Adventure Bus. We settled up with Jamie (his bill was very reasonable considering all the effort he and several of his men put into getting us going)  loaded up and off we went. 

Homestead was closed but the owner lives next door so we got his (actually, his wife's) permission to sleep there over night - our first Boondocking experience! Our favourite little dining spot - The Finer Diner - was right across the road so we decided to treat ourselves to dinner out watching the sun set over St. Margaret's Bay.

A small reward for a very trying day!

The next day the Adventure Bus was repaired and ready to go by 10 am and off we went. Tonight we are parked in Arch's sister(Grace's) driveway in Truro, NS. We will stay here for two days. Tonight we played cards with Grace and her husband Cyril. Tomorrow golf at Fox Harb'r and then on to PEI on Thursday.
The accidental RVers in Truro

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

We Should Have Known Better

The Adventure Bus is 10 years old and had little use (or care) in its previous life so we should have known we would have to redo the roof. But we choose to live in denial. And got caught. About a week ago we had our first really heavy rain of the season and it poured in to the Adventure Bus in one spot and leaked in an another one.

As they were forecasting the possible arrival of Hurricane Leslie in Nova Scotia within 48 hours this required an immediate fix, and caused us to miss a planned meet-up with Florida cousins Jim and Judy who were in New Brunswick (hi guys).

After getting a quote of $900 for a repair Arch went to our local RV dealer and purchased the necessary materials to do the job himself. He was pretty unsure about what he as doing but the saving was huge so we decided to take the chance. At this point we are suffering from budget burn-out so it seemed worth a try.
Following instructions carefully Arch cleaned the roof, removed all old caulking, washed it again with TPS and then waited impatiently for it to dry. As you can see it was a beautiful day so the roof dried quickly and he was able to paint on a coat of "rubber roofing." This was allowed to dry for 24 hours then he added a second coat. 
He was very relieved to be finished. So then the waiting began. The prediction for Leslie's arrival was changed and instead, and lucky for us,  Newfoundland is getting a visit from her today. But they were still forecasting very heavy rain for us. 

The roof had 24 hours to dry and about midnight the night before last the rain arrived. Arch was up and down all night checking for leaks but, HURRAH! NO WATER CAME IN. It continued to rain all day yesterday - 4" in total, according to Tara's water dish. And we still are high and dry.

On Thursday the Adventure Bus goes to be prepared for painting (front only), comes home overnight (so no need for boondocking yet), Then back for a shiny new coat of paint on Friday.

A week ago nephew David and his little family were visiting from Newfoundland.

David is the family tech expert so he installed our Sirius radio and connected the antenna to the TV so we can use either it or cable, depending on what is available.

So by Friday night we will be ready to head out  and on Monday the adventure begins. First to Truro to visit Arch's family, then on to PEI for a week. So exited!