"Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Monday, June 30, 2008

Storing Things

I was adamant that I didn't want to store anything. It just made no sense to me--you pay for storage and it winds up costing you more than it would have cost you to replace the things and/or you have things stored at no cost to you and it winds up costing you more to ship them out cross-country than it would have cost you to replace the things.

My mother is adamant that I store my kitchen things in her garage if I'm not bringing them with me, mostly because the stuff is either very new or has sentimental value. She's offered me a corner of her garage for a year or two. So, I figure that the only way I'll get her off my back about this subject is to let her get involved a bit. Therefore, when she comes to pick up the furniture my sisters want, I'll let her take off with a few boxes of the kitchen stuff I'll miss the most--my dad's casserole dishes and mixing bowls, my blue willow, my collection of beer glasses, and a few other items.

This isn't entirely altruistic, of course, nor frugal, because it'll give me an excuse to stock up on new, more RV-friendly things! I want to get a lot of 'popware'; that is silicon and plastic items that store flat, lighter pots and pans, light dishes, etc. I do so love setting up a new home. :-)

Getting Closer and a New Blog...

The RV inspection is scheduled for a week from tomorrow. As long as there are no surprises from that, the owner and I should be able to button up this transaction with a couple of days after that.

I feel like I have a massive ball of snakes writhing in my tummy.

For those who are only here for the RVing stuff, I've made an RVing-only blog, Travels with Miranda.

If you're a regular visitor to One Idiot's Tale and want to keep up with the whole tale, then you do NOT need to visit Travels with Miranda. That blog will only host copy & pasted blog RV entries from OIT.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Culinary Rediscovery

About fifteen years ago, I became a vegetarian. It didn't happen overnight, but I eventually phased out all meat from my diet, except for the odd bit of tuna or fish 'n chips introduced in later years. I can't remember why I chose this route, but I was a vegetarian for at least ten of those fifteen years, not eating any animal flesh, including fish and seafood. Soon as I started to let in the fish, I stopped calling myself a vegetarian, but I still wasn't eating any meat that came from flying or walking creatures.

For the last year or so, I've debated reintroducing chicken into my diet. I eat fish, so why not chicken? Every time I'd have a bite, it would be all right, but nothing to write home about. I didn't like the pasty nature and unless the meat was highly marinated, it tasted like, well, chicken. It wasn't very inspiring.

Since I've started to track my food intake in Fitday, I've begun to realise just how imbalanced my dietary intake is, with fat reaching about 35% of my daily caloric intake with protein being at 15%. Those numbers should be reversed. It didn't take me long to conclude that animal protein, like fish or chicken, were my best bet for boosting my protein numbers without upping the carb and fat numbers, too.

At a salad bar this week, I loaded up on all kinds of wonderful veggie dishes, but added one bite of marinated chicken. It went down fine; the marinade was nice but the chicken had that pasty texture that turns me off.

Feeling emboldened, I stopped at the grocery store yesterday and decided that I wasn't walking out of there without some chicken to prepare for dinner. I decided to use my fish-introduction method: buy ridiculously expensive pre-seasoned meat. I spent a good twenty minutes looking at all my options and decided that a package of two Maple Leaf chicken breasts marinated in a 'Santa Fe' sauce made the most nutritional sense. Unlike a lot of other products I'd looked at, this was 100% chicken with real ingredients, not 'chicken product' with a bunch of chemicals on the label.

I assumed that 'Santa Fe' marinade would be rather 'tex-mexy', so I picked up tortillas (on mega sale, woohoo!) and a yellow pepper. At home, I popped the chicken in the oven, then set to work sauteing sliced onions and peppers.

I then made up the tortillas fajita-style, using a bit of cottage cheese in lieu of sour cream (but, of course). The result was surprisingly satisfactory. I only ate one of the breasts last night, of course, and I didn't dread eating the leftovers for lunch today.

Chicken has yet to wow me, but I'll keep working at it. If this weekend has been any indication of future success, I'll do just fine.

But, please, don't expect me to tuck into roast beef within this lifetime. :)

Friday, June 27, 2008


I had my first lesson tonight! Never mind that I won't be able to move tomorrow, I had a blast!

Of course, I have a lot to unlearn, and I felt like a complete novice tonight... until the teacher confessed that she'd put me on her hardest horse.

He's a former competition horse who only responds to perfectly performed commands. In that sense, he's a great teacher as he won't let a student get sloppy. But the teacher said that it would get very disheartening for a someone new in the saddle to experience him as their first horse. My lesson ran a half hour long, and I can say that in the last forty-five minutes, so halfway-through, this horse and I started to understand each other and I made obvious progress. So, even though my technique was all wrong and I need to learn to sit straight in the saddle and keep my heels down, I'm not starting from scratch at all.

In fact, things were going so well near the end that the prof decided to give me a preview of next week's lesson and had me trot for a bit. I had never liked trotting before because of my bosom. Today, it was a joy.

My next class is this coming Tuesday!

Cottage Cheese, Redux

There's a terrible little Italian-wannabe restaurant in the Market in Ottawa that shall remain nameless, but which offers one over priced and over caloried dish that I occasionally find myself craving--roasted red pepper penné.

Last night, I was poking around the pantry and freezer, looking for something fun to top my pasta with. I found myself holding red peppers that I had recently roasted and frozen.


Well, I blended until smooth a cup of cottage cheese (1% fat) with roasted peppers, a bit of garlic powder, salt, and pepper, and tossed it with penné and a half oz of pecans. The result was insanely delicious and cheesey roasted red pepper penné for 600 calories (drop the pecans to bring the meal down to 500 calories), 14 grams of fat (4 if you drop the pecans!), 40 grams of protein (39 if you drop the pecans), and 78 grams of carbs. Add in a huge green salad (hold the dressing) and you have a healthy, nutritionally-sound meal that feels very indulgent.

Cottage cheese rocks. :-)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Quick Meal

I love baked potatoes but struck them off my diet years ago because I think it's wasteful to turn on the oven to bake a couple of potatoes and because I like my potatoes drenched in grease and salt. A baked potato was just an excuse to over indulge in sour cream.


My search for low fat, healthy lunches prompted me to try a recipe for a microwaved baked potato. I rarely think to use the microwave; it's something I've only had now for a few years. To my immense surprise, I discovered that the microwave can bake a potato in 4 to 10 minutes, depending on its size. The result is most satisfactory. The flesh is firm and flavourful, and the skin toughens a bit even though it doesn't turn crispy and chewy the way it would in the oven.

For toppings, the recipe suggested a half cup of low fat cottage cheese, herbs, salt, pepper, and 'something crunchy.'

The cottage cheese replaces the sour cream most satisfactorily and keeps the potato flesh nice and moist.

Since the potatoes cook up so quickly, I even have time to make them up at lunch. They make a nice, filling lunch that isn't heavy.

I suggest undercooking the potato by about a minute. Scoop out the flesh and mash it up with your ingredients, then return the mixture to the potato. Nuke for a minute or two, then enjoy.

Tonight's filling was:

-cottage cheese;
-garlic powder;
-fresh chives;
-0.5oz pecans

Basil is very good, too, in lieu of chives.

One day, I had really nice 'beefeater' tomatoes and wound up making a stuffed baked tomato as a side for a small potato! I divided the cottage cheese between them and made the tomato with pecans and basil while the potato was chives and sunflower seeds. Yuuuuuuum. Just nuke the tomato long enough for the skin to become loose, then add your fillings and nuke again until hot.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Ritual Supplies

June 30th will mark the three year anniversary of my learning/accepting that I am a Witch and of my initiation to Wicca. It feels like a long time since that night and, yet, like no time has passed!

Friday was Litha, the summer solstice celebration, and I wound up casting a fantastic impromptu, tool-less, circle out in the woods. While tools are just that, optional aids to ritual, I found myself thinking that it would be nice to be able to grab supplies and go when I get the urge to have a ritual somewhere other than at home. Until then, I'd either have a tool-less ritual, or clumsily pack up a few things only to discover that I was missing something once I got to my destination.

I went through my drawers and pulled out my assortment of coloured candles, incense, oils, herbs, and various other supplies, then I gathered my tools. With an idea of how much space I needed, I headed of in search of a case, which I found in a hardware store, in the tool box section, appropriately enough:

While not that aesthetically pleasing, the case is able to hold all my supplies and a few of my tools--my athame is almost invisible on the left part of the inner lid, vials of herbs and oil fit in the little pockets, my wand has an absolutely perfect resting place, and the box that holds my tarot cards fits beside the matches. The lid insert is easily removable; behind it I've put my small Book of Shadows and my favourite tarot reference. Now, when I want to head out, I don't need to dismantle my alter. Instead, I can add the tools to this case and throw my robe, chalice, and required books into my cauldron.

Just call me addicted to containerizing. :-D

Sunday, June 22, 2008

More Dreams Fulfilled

It's rare for something to come 'naturally' to me. I tend to get better with practise, but it's rare that I've had a moment when I did something for the first time and it just felt right.

Horseback riding is one of those things. Even though I've never had a formal lesson, I've always been able to keep up with my best friend, who is a skilled equestrian, when we go on trail rides together. I've always wanted to take lessons, if only to learn the basics like how to saddle a horse (!), but it's very expensive. When I finally thought that I could afford it, I realised that my bosom wouldn't let me. There just wasn't a bra that could strap me down enough to canter. So, I stopped riding.

Since my surgery last year, I've given thought to signing up for lessons, but kept pushing that thought away.

This week, as I began to envision the upcoming year, I realised that the basic equestrian skills I was lacking combined with my experience on horseback could give me an added edge when looking for work in the prairies.

So, I did some research, spoke to some people, and should be starting private horseback riding lessons in the next couple of weeks.

Friday, June 20, 2008

More Officialisms

I'm houseless (but not homeless) as of 1 September. My landlords were happy to accommodate my request to break my lease a month early (yaaaaaaay).

Then, I'll be jobless as of 4 September. My supervisor signed the first batch of papers today.

I now have just about all of September to get out west. The beauty of having your home with you and boondocking most of the way (ie. not paying for a campsite) is that it doesn't cost any more to take four weeks to cross the country than to take one week. You'd have had to eat during those four weeks anyway and you would have done the same amount of mileage in one week or four. I just need to learn to slow down and not put in insane driving days, something I suspect will come naturally to me when the time comes.

Excited, so very excited.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


While I don't want to make myself a set itinerary for my cross-country trip, I am researching my various route options for a couple of legs, namely that from Gatineau to Winnipeg and Calgary to the British Columbia interior. I'm mostly focusing on the former right now and just gathering information to be reviewed in Saskatchewan (!) for the latter.

Until today, I thought I was getting to Winnipeg the way I came back from there in 2005, on the 17 via North Bay, Sudbury, the Sault, Thunder Bay, and Kenora. I didn't think that the more northern route through Kapuskasing was a viable alternative. Then, I began to read several trip blogs and forum posts describing the 11, a more northern route, as being superior to the 17 for RVers because it's less mountainous (better gas mileage, less wear and tear on the brakes) and that it's the exact same mileage. I liked the idea of taking a new route for part of the trip to Winnipeg and adding more towns and sights to my 'been there!' list.

So, I pulled out my trusty Michelin road atlas and looked at the 11 more closely. Suddenly, a third route opened up. I called up Google maps to test a theory. A nice feature of Google maps is that you can chart routes of your own choice by specifying that you want to from a to z by way of c and y. By altering my search parameters, I figured out the mileage between Gatineau and Winnipeg by each of the three routes. The 11 and 17 routes are indeed exactly the same mileage. My route adds only 30 kilometres more.

Therefore, unless further research makes me feel this plan is ill advised at the time of year during which I'm leaving, I plan to get to Winnipeg by way of l'Abitibi-Temiscamingue, with Vérendrye Park for my first night. This is my favourite place to camp and it would be lovely to say goodbye to it. Then, off to Val D'Or, a city I've been meaning to visit ever since I came to this region. After, Rouyn-Noranda, Kirkland Lake, Iroquois Falls, Kapuskasing, Hearst, and on past Geraldton and Rocky Bay to rejoin the 17 at Nipigon. From there, it'd be two short days to Winnipeg. If I plan on averaging 5 hours of driving per day at an average of 90km per hour, I'd be in Winnipeg in 5 to 7 days.

Originally, I planned to leave on September 15th. But I had a talk with my supervisor about this and she strongly suggested that I leave at the end of a pay period, so either September 3rd or 17th. The 17th is too late for me. We agreed on the 3rd, but didn't sign papers because she had a few more questions for me to ask HR. Papers should be signed tomorrow. Then it'll really be official. I'm so scared to let go of that steady pay cheque, but I know I need to do this.

Obviously, if I'm done with work on the 3rd, there's no way I'll hang out here for two weeks before taking off. :-)

Next on my list of things to do is ask my landlord if he'd be willing to advertise my house as being free for September 1st. I've already given him notice that I'm not renewing my lease, and I'm hoping to not have to pay rent for September. I have a feeling he'll be open to discussion on this matter.

So much to do and arrange and plan and research, but how good it feels to be so free.

Managing Mail When On the Road

I went to pick up my repaired glasses this afternoon (YAAAAAY!!!) and realised that there's a UPS store in the same building. So, I killed the proverbial two birds and took care of my mail needs for the next year! Wow, this is really starting to feel official!

Before I researched the issue, I figured that mail was going to be a hassle when on the road. I couldn't just get a box at the post office because the government requires a street address for things like tax documents and license renewals. Same thing for package deliveries, a PO box isn't good enough. So, the obvious choice at the time was to ask someone I know if I could use their address and to forward my mail to me. I really didn't like the idea of imposing on someone like that, plus it took away some of my independence and autonomy.

After doing research, I discovered that the UPS store offers a fantastic service: you can rent a mailbox for a length of time, but also have a civic number (ie. the store address with a unit number being your box number). Moreover, they can hold packages and you can contact the store periodically and they will take whatever is in your box, package it up, and send it off to you wherever you are. According to the brochure, the cost for this service for a 'small' box for 12 months is only 130$, plus tax, plus shipping fees. My 130$ bought me the service from today until November 30, 2009! I meant for the service to start on September 1st, but didn't realise that it starts from the moment you pay. So the clerk confessed that most of his boxes are empty and it doesn't matter if mine isn't available for rent for two months before I start to get mail in it. Then, my 130$ gives me 15 mos of service instead of 12. A bargain.

I don't get that much mail and plan to tell my various 'official' mailers, like the government and utilities, that I'd prefer e-correspondence, so I doubt I'll actually have much mail for the UPS store to worry about, but, at least, I have a safe place to send my mail to, a street address, and my independence.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

1,000 Places

Have you ever seen the book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die? I've thumbed through it, but didn't purchase because I'm a long way off from exploring the globe.

Tonight, however, I purchased 1,000 Places In the U.S.A. and Canada to See Before You Die. Thumbing through it has been interesting. Using a strict list of criteria (must have journalled about the place and been to the specific event referenced, if any), I highlighted 55 items out of 1,000. It could have been more if I'd tweaked some of the data--music in Grant Park? Well... I've been to Grant Park even if I didn't listen to music... didn't add that to my list. Charlottetown? Well... I went when I was 6. Didn't make the list. Neither did 'Richmond, Virginia' or other similar entries for places I just drove through.

It was an interesting exercise and gives me some ideas on places to 'hit' in my travels, as well as things to do and restaurants to try, but I certainly don't think this is the be all and end all of the top 1,000 places in the U.S.A. and Canada. A tiny sample of the things not included that would have made my list include:

-a specific spot on Chicago's Navy Pier, the view from which would leave you without any doubt that 'the place of stink grass' has the most beautiful skyline in the United States (been there twice, six years apart, so this is not just romantic memory talking);

-any mining community in northern Quebec: the arctic AND French-Canadian culture in a two-for-one package, plus fantastic vistas and a climate you'll never forget (visit in winter, of course);

-the Coronado bridge in San Diego, the most breath taking wrong exit I ever took;

-the Winnipeg Forks, a place of trade since before recorded history, with, as a bonus, St. Boniface, Winnipeg's French Quarter;

-southeast and central Wisconsin; rolling green hills, quaint villages, antiquing;

-the street in Minneapolis where the 'pavement' is red bricks and the line markings are pale yellow brick;

-Martinique Beach, the prettiest in the Halifax-Dartmouth area.


These types of books are fun to thumb through, but I know better than to try to check off everything in it. Sometimes you can miss something in one city (the Montreal Jazz festival, for example, because you're not a fan of Jazz), and never forget other things that didn't make the list and which are absolute 'musts'... like the Biodôme.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Dreams Reborn

For years, I dreamt of visiting the Canadian north.

I looked for jobs in Dawson City, Whitehorse, Inuvik, Yellowknife... Applied for positions in such far off places as Hay River and Paulatuk... Yearned to to take a ferry up the inside passage to Skagway and hike the Chilkhoot pass to the Yukon...

Jobs were hard to find from the outside and I didn't have the means to get up there on my own. I did come very close to a summer job in Dawson City, but I didn't have my degree yet, so the job slipped through my fingers. Then a friend and I were going to max out our credit and savings and go spend three weeks hiking in the Yukon. Several financial crises came up that spring and I had to cancel the trip.

My father's one wish for his life was to take an Alaskan cruise. When we realised that he didn't have much time left, I scrambled to find the necessary money to take him on such a cruise. But it was too late; his doctor would not allow the trip. Dad and I did eventually make it to Alaska, in a way, but that's the subject of another post....

Finally, I decided that the north was a dream I had to let go. I never had any intention of settling there permanently and my financial situation wasn't stable enough to give up everything to relocate there for a year or two and then come back. I also didn't really want to see the north in winter. Been there, done that, after spending almost a full month in arctic Quebec in my youth.

The RV plan is allowing my dream to re-form.

I've vaguely mentioned that I'd like to wander up north come next spring and spend the summer exploring the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Alaska. But I haven't thought much about it, though, not wanting my hopes to be dashed again. It wasn't until this afternoon that I realised just how raw that wound was, how afraid I was to see the dream go up in smoke again. I've refused for four years now to do more than cursory reading on the north. Travel blogs are verboten as are travel tips and guides. The most research I did was about Alaskan cruises, and some digging into various communities hosting a job for which I applied. My step-sister spent time in the Yukon and I tuned out her stories. I wanted to hear nothing about this place that kept on eluding me.

This time, though, I actually think that the dream is going to realise itself. I firmly intend at this time in a year to be wending my way through northern British Columbia, testing the weather, and plotting my route across the Yukon border. I am making a promise to myself to celebrate Litha next year right at the arctic circle, pulling off from the Dempster to to celebrate a sunny Esbat.

Intend so much, in fact, that today I finally allowed myself to spend several hours reading blogs and articles about RVing north of the arctic circle. Tears were shed, sites were bookmarked, and new dreams sprang forth from broken promises, not unlike the proverbial phoenix.

How then am I so different from
The first men through this way?
Like them I left a settled life,
I threw it all away,
To seek a northwest passage
At the call of many men,
To find there but the road back home again.
(Stan Rogers, 'Northwest Passage')

It's going to be a great year that will make up for so much.

A Milestone

Anyone following the ticker at the bottom of my blog will see that I have now lost just over 10lbs! It has been very easy and I am so motivated to continue. It's not 'effortless', but neither is it 'difficult.' I just have to keep tracking my calories in Fitday.

Considering how important an issue weight is when filling the RV, it's nice to know that every lb I lose means one more lb of stuff (books! LOL) I can bring with me on my adventure!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Research, Research, and More Research

Now that I've pretty much settled all the questions pertaining to the actual RVing buying process--inspection, finances, registration, taxes, and insurance, I'm delving into these fascinating topics:

-Roadside assistance;

-Memberships (to RVing groups for various discounts);

-Internet and cell phone (a nightmare in Canada, a country that is at least a decade behind the times in this area);

-Electrical upgrades (ie. Solar Panels and inverters 101, so I don't have to rely on hookups);

-Backup cameras;

-GPS systems.

And that's on top of trying to understand the gist of how RV systems work, looking into boondocking/dry camping sites on my proposed route across the country, searching for employers to whom I could send a resumé and covering letter asking for short term work, and a host of other things I'm sure I'll remember soon as I'm drifting off to sleep tonight.

All I can say is THANK GOODNESS I DON'T WATCH TV. For one thing, it gives me more time to surf. But, most importantly, it's one less thing to research. :-D

But I Thought You Wanted a Bus...

But I Thought You Wanted a Bus...

I still want a bus. But I'm not ready for one.

When I first looked into the RVing life, I gravitated towards the class C models. While smaller, their layout made more sense to me: I could use the back bedroom as my study and sleep in the over head cab, giving me more floor space for daily use. But I began to hear horror stories of carrying capacity on class Cs, so I started to look at class As, which sort of automatically led me to look at buses.

Soon as I started to shop for a bus, I began to feel very uncomfortable with my plans. I finally accepted that I was trying to learn too much in too little time. I just did not have the time nor knowledge to learn what I needed to learn about bus conversions to buy smartly. Also, the amount of choice in Canada left to be desired. I had no idea what I was looking for and fishing in a very small pool of candidates. It was a recipe for disaster.

Later, when I'm properly retired and have years of RVing under my belt, I can get the bus of my dreams. For my current plans, a bus just adds too many variables.

So, I went back to looking at class As. Originally, I had budgeted a lot for my rig, but I knew I had to scale that plan down when I decided to give up full-time work for at least a year. The rigs within my new budget were older. Through research and inference, I began to realise that a lot of these older rigs really didn't have all that much more carrying capacity than does a class C. Why buy a 35' or 40' rig when a smaller one would actually give me more usable space?

I test drove a 40' rig and doing so showed me that I didn't have to fear driving such a behemoth. I could now look at smaller rigs for reasons other than 'I'm scared to drive a class A!!!' The more I researched class Cs, the more I liked them. Their smaller size is better suited to the sort of RVing I want to do and will be easier to heat in winter.

So, it was a question now of finding the perfect match of manufacturer, length, floor plan, and the all important carrying capacity.

Figuring out my optimal floor plan didn't take long. I want a rear twin bed model. I could use one bed as a sofa and replace the other one with a desk. Once I'd settled on this floor plan, I seriously narrowed down my options for the other three requirements.

I Googled, searched discussion forums, read, read, read, and did a ton of math. I made some phone calls, read some more, and perused the for sale ads.

Finally, I found two local RVs matching all four criteria.

One is a Glendale Royal Classic, 31'. The other is a Winnibago Winnie Minnie, 28'. Both are roughly the same age and the same price. The Royal Classic is a high end, luxury model. The Winnie Minnie is in the same league.

One of them is just about as perfect as I could ever have dreamt of, factoring in some compromise, and offers almost twice the carrying capacity as the average class C its size. I didn't believe the math, so I ran it by a few other people. It checked out. It's a gorgeous coach, twelve years old and still looks brand new, with a layout that would give me the illusion of having no less than six rooms. Solar panels, inverters, and the very tow bar I want to buy are also negotiable as a package deal. If the inspection checks out, and I have no doubt it will, this coach will be confirmed as being a gift from the gods.

I went from 'thinking about full-timing' to 'shopping for a rig' in a very short amount of time. I've had to take a crash course in everything from calculating RV weight to 12V electricity 101. The amount of research I did and the questions I asked (some of them probably sounding idiotic to those in the know) really helped me figure out exactly what I need for my current project. It's not what I want; I would love to head up the 417 in a gorgeous Prévost conversion, but it's what makes sense for me at this time of my life and for the type of full-timing I plan to do in the next year or two.

So, which did I choose, the Royal Classic or the Minnie Winnie? All in good time, faithful readers, all in good time. :-D


I'm now waiting for the RV's current owner to call me so we can discuss the terms of surrender. Erm, purchase. I've come up with a list of items I'd like for him to include as well as the price I'm willing to pay. I don't feel like dithering with him. He and his wife are very open and honest and it'd just feel like an insult to give him a stupidly low figure and then work our way up to the price I'm willing to pay.

(I need to stop staring at the phone. :-D)

Mechanical inspection, insurance, and financing are more or less settled. The first two more, the last one less. A friend's step-father should be available to check the truck portion of the RV (brakes, chassis, engine, tires, etc.), I've found an insurance company that caters to Quebec full-timers (!!!), and the guy at the bank is fairly sure based on our conversation that a loan won't be a problem. I'm just not crazy about the loan terms since I know that dealer financing for RVs provides much better rates and terms. I have one more lead to follow before I make a formal, credit-report dinging, request from the bank.

I'm still trying to figure out how I wound up at this stage so quickly.

I told a colleague/friend today that I'm scared witless by this project and she didn't believe me. But I am! It's just that I've learned in life that great things lie beyond fear. I just can't wait for terror to give way to enthusiasm! LOL

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Taking the Plunge

Soon as I have financing, insurance, and a mechanical inspection sorted out, I'll be ready to make an offer on a unit I have viewed.

*pauses to reread that*


Friday, June 13, 2008

I've Got It!

After looking at class Cs and then drooling over Triple E class As and then looking at bus conversions and being determined that I just had to have a Wanderlodge and then giving up on buses for the time being and focusing on As I've finally figured out exactly what it is I need to shop for in terms of class, length, layout, and manufacturer.

Now, comes the hard part: finding candidates that match all four criteria. I've found two so far.

I'll withhold details until I have a new acquisition to show off. I have given lots of hints, though! :-)

I'm still trying to figure out how I went from musing, dreaming, and scheming to actually implementing this plan!!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


For weeks, even months, now, I've been telling myself "Raven, you need to order new lenses for your glasses." But have I bothered? Noooo. I hate doing it because then I wind up having to wear an ancient and really scratched up pair while the good ones are in the shop.

Well, this morning I stepped out of bed and heard a sickening crunch.

One of my darlings knocked my glasses off the bedside table last night. Result of my stepping on them: one lens snapped right in two, and the ear piece on that side was scrunched up.

I promptly took them to my optometrist who told me it would take up to 10 business days to get the glasses fixed. I fibbed and told her I only have my sunglasses to fall back on, so she said she'd try to 'rush' the order. Hopefully, that'll help. I'm curious to see how much my insurance will reimburse me for lenses only as I've never made such a claim.

I can't even be annoyed with the cats. :-D

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


I finally began my RV inventory list.

I knew that this would be an excruciatingly anal process because absolutely everything needs to be accounted for, from me to the lowliest paper clip, because I'll have no carrying capacity to play with.

In order to do so, I turned to my favourite electronic tool, Excel. I made tabs for all the areas in the RV:

Living room is just that, the room where I'll live; surfing the web, watching a DVD, or reading a book. Dining room is where the dinette is located and refers to the overhead storage in that area. Basement is the bays under the RV. No matter what RV I get, these areas will exist in it, albeit in different forms and locations.

The 'total' worksheet is just that, a grand total of the totals from all the other sheets.

The 'extra' worksheet is for the stuff I feel guilty about not taking or that have sentimental value but no practical value or that I'd miss terribly. In this, I'm putting a lot of the recent kitchen stuff my mothers gave me as well, toys handcrafted just for me by my late uncle, and just about the entirety of my kitchen. It's the worksheet for all the things I'd like to bring should I end up having extra carrying capacity (ha ha ha).

Finally, the 'give' worksheet is for keeping track of what I need to get rid of and who has dibs on these items.

This is proving to be extremely illuminating... and terrifying. The only amounts I have so far are for a few items in the living room and basement... and I'm already at 269lbs. That's more than a third of the lowest number I calculated for the class C I'm eying and doesn't include additional batteries, solar panels, or a satellite dish. It does, however, include at least part of a trailer hitch as well as a generator.

What amazes me as I go through my house is just how much stuff I have that doesn't really have a purpose; how much is there 'in case I ever need it.' Sometimes, I have wound up needing it, but, in a lot of cases, I've just been dragging it around for a decade. This RV plan is going to force me to really identify what's important and needs to come, eliminating a lot of what I call the 'flotsam and jetsam' of a life. That said, I've budgeted for one crate of 'miscellaneous junk.' :-)

What I've envisioned doing at the end of the summer is to hold a giant sale during which I would invite people to just walk through my home and offer me whatever they thing is fair for anything that strikes their fancy. I would have, by this point, transfered the stuff I definitely want to bring into the RV and given away furniture and sundries to family and friends. I'd hold that over a day and the following week hold a 'just come and take it' event for anything left over. After that, I'm pretty sure that anything left would be trash. It's unbelievably difficult to get rid of things that aren't trash, don't have monetary value, and aren't of interest to charity shops.

I continue to be amazed and astounding that this is where my Path has taken me. So much of the past few years make sense to me now.

RV Financing

Wow, the financing issue is more complicated than I expected. I just had a long, and not particularly illuminating, conversion with a dealer in Laval. I told her what I feel would be my maximum comfortable payment per month and she told me that gave me two choices. The first is an older and very cheap RV financed over 5-10 years at a rate of 8 to 14%. The second is a brand new or almost brand new financed over 20 years at 6 to 7%.

I'm in the market for brand new? Now, that's news. Of course, we're talking a very basic class C.

At any rate, I looked at what they had on their site and nothing really jumped out at me since I don't want slides. There was one with no slides, but it had a queen in the bedroom, and I want the two twins. The lady says that they have 'nearly new' units that served as rentals which aren't on the site, but I'm not sure I'm ready at this point to do a round trip to Laval to see them.

I think it's time I spoke with the bank that takes car of my car loan.

Organizing Bookmarks (of the Web Browser Variety)

I've found del.ici.ous to be a fantastic bookmark organizing tool. I don't know all the ins and outs of it yet, but I can say that I like the following features:

1) having access to all my bookmarks from any computer;
2) being able to 'tag' my bookmarks to group them into categories;
3) being able to search within my bookmarks;
4) being able to add a comment to each bookmark. I mostly use this feature to leave myself a note as to why I bookmarked the site in the first place if it's not obvious.

There are two macros to download for your web browser. The most important of these reads 'post to del.icio.us'. While having a page open, you just hit this button and it takes you to the del.icio.us page where you can add tags and info. Then, you're taken right back to your page. The other macro is 'my del.icio.us' which is a shortcut to your bookmarks.

There are other, social, uses for del.icious.us, but I haven't explored them yet.

Found a Class C To View...

It's not diesel, but it shows promise. The CCC is an issue, of course. Best case scenario, I'd have about 1,200lbs for my stuff and extras I'll be adding like solar panels, extra batteries, and a satellite dish. It's not much, but it's a number I feel I can work with. Worst case scenario, I have 500lbs, which is NOT a number I can work with at all. The guy has the RV weighed when he bought it, but the number is fairly meaningless since he doesn't remember if the tanks were full or if there was anyone in the RV at the time. I figure I might as well go see it myself, get the info on the specs plate, and extrapolate real data based on his weight amount.

It has a really good layout and, in fact, is my 'ideal' layout for a C: queen over cab bed; dinette with arm chairs across the aisle; nice kitchen and bathroom (toilet has its own room); and a rear bedroom with twin beds. I'd take out one of the twins to put in a computer desk and keep the other one as my sofa.

This is so much work. :-D


The more I look at buses and class As for sale, the more I ache for a Class C model. Even though they are smaller (although some do go up to 30'), the ones with a rear bedroom layout are much better suited to my lifestyle. I could sleep in the cab-over bunk and dedicate the bedroom to being my study. With the buses and class As, there would be a huge chunk of living space that I wouldn't use much. I mean, how often do you go into your bedroom for the day if it's a place dedicated to sleeping?

Some people do full-time in class Cs, but weight and towing capability is such an issue. I did get wind of diesel Cs and that's what I'm investigating now. I could probably get a nearly new class C diesel for the price I'm willing to pay for a very used A or bus.

A friend offered me a corner of her basement for storage if I want it and I'm beginning to think that I'd be best to take her up on her offer. What I'd have to store is going to sound silly since it's made up of items one would not associate with sentimentality: dishes, mixing bowls, serving utensils, and the like. These are items that have been passed down through several generations on both sides of my family and are not replaceable. Whether I got a C or an A (or a bus), I'd still have to divest myself of these items. So...

Going through the house, I see so much that I use daily or that I would use daily that I'm not sure would fit in a light A, much less a class C--tools, my Wicca library (and my cauldron, while I'm at it), the iMac, the laser printer, the artwork, the two cases of DVDs... I know it's just 'stuff', but it's the 20% of my life that means something to me, that is me, that I am not willing to give up.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Tiffin '94 Allegro Bay Review

The coach isn't a definite 'no', but it certainly doesn't scream 'buy me, buy me!' It's filthy, the carpet needs to go, and the wallpaper is peeling. Otherwise, it seems in fine shape. The single pane windows are the biggest issue I saw. I got some data about the weight, but I'm not sure how much use it will be without having an actual weight for the empty vehicle.

The owner actually let me take it out for a test drive. He was fantastic, giving me little hints and showing complete trust in my potential to drive a 40' behemoth.

The end result was that I came out looking like a natural!

He took me to a fairly empty industrial area where I was able to practise both left and right hand turns, as well as reversing. Not even ten minutes into the test drive, I found myself facing a right hand turn with lots of traffic coming from the left, with no stop sign on their side. I assessed the various windows of space between the cars and smoothly and confidently turned onto the busy street, accelerating quickly enough that the car behind me didn't even need to slow down. I'm not ready to face Montreal traffic, but I'm not scared anymore. I can drive a 40' RV.

Now, I just need to know if I can drive a 40' RV with a toad. :-D

At any rate, upward and onward. I have a few more candidates to assess!

The Day Has Come...

I'm going to view the coach tonight. Can't wait. There would be exclamation points if it weren't for the fact that I'm under the weather and bone tired. :-D

My only real concern with this coach is carry capacity; ie. how much stuff I can pile into it once it's loaded with gas, propane, and water. This issue, more than anything else, is going to be the deal breaker or maker for me.

I toured a family friend's 30 footer this weekend, which convinced me that I want at least 35 feet and that I'm really not nuts about the pass-through bathrooms.

I've decided to apply for 'proper' RV financing as this could end up opening up extra options for me. I'm not looking to get the maximum amount of RV a lender is willing to give me, but rather to make sure I don't pass a great deal because I'm 5K short on cash.

Later this week, once I've had time to gather my thoughts about the Tiffin and calculate its carrying capacity, I'll contact two other sellers about their coaches, one a bus, the other a diesel pusher.

The fact that the Tiffin I'm seeing tonight is not a DP really bugs me, although knowing the carrying capacity might assuage some of these misgivings. I have to say that the Tiffin has been the only RV I've seen so far with a floor plan I can immediately recognize as being suitable for full-timing. Hopefully, its carrying capacity will be equal to its fantastic layout.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


I've had this song playing lot lately:

I'm Moving On
Rascal Flatts

I've dealt with my ghosts and I've faced all my demons
Finally content with a past I regret
I've found you find strength in your moments of weakness
For once I'm at peace with myself
I've been burdened with blame, trapped in the past for too long
I'm movin' on

I've lived in this place and I know all the faces
Each one is different but they're always the same
They mean me no harm but it's time that I face it
They'll never allow me to change
But I never dreamed home would end up where I don't belong
I'm movin' on

I'm movin' on
At last I can see life has been patiently waiting for me
And I know there's no guarantees, but I'm not alone
There comes a time in everyone's life
When all you can see are the years passing by
And I have made up my mind that those days are gone

I sold what I could and packed what I couldn't
Stopped to fill up on my way out of town
I've loved like I should but lived like I shouldn't
I had to lose everything to find out
Maybe forgiveness will find me somewhere down this road
I'm movin' on

I'm movin' on
I'm movin' on

RV Inspection, Redux, and Goals

Yup, the guy wants to sell. He emailed me earlier to say that if I'm still interested in the coach on Monday he'll take it in for a QC inspection and not to worry myself about getting any information on that. Since the inspection results in paperwork he'll need to hand me, I am comfortable with pawing off this task on him. He's going to cry when I make my offer, but I won't be surprised if he comes crawling back to me in a month or two begging to sell. In the meantime, I'd keep looking for something else. Anyway, I need to keep taking this one step at a time. Soon as I saw the cost for a satellite system and the work involved in setting up solar panel, I realised that I need to slow down and breathe, LOL!!!

While I'm telling people that I'm hitting the road for a year, I know that's not true. I'm aiming for this change to be a permanent one. My biggest goal for the year is to prove to myself that I can make a very good and reliable living without having to rely on an 8-4 job. So, I want to find a good balance between taking time for my (currently shamefully neglected) online business and outside work.

I've always wanted to learn self-sufficiency of the off-grid kind. How often have I said that I dream of a home that's off the grid? I want to be able to 'boondock' for weeks at a time so I don't have to rely on pricey parks with hookups. My goal for my trek to BC is to only pay for accommodations once per week, and only if needed to recharge my batteries and/or empty and fill tanks. If I do this, then my only major expense for the trek will be gas. I can already see myself outside the big store with the red, white, and blue sign going "Home, sweet Wal-mart." *ggl*

Life is a marvelous thing, is it not?

RV Inspection

The current owner of the coach I'm interested in emailed back upon noticing that, hey!, I have a Quebec telephone number. He then proceeded to tell me out right "This coach needs a grand worth of work to pass a Quebec safety check."

That last bit hardly made me blink, but his being so forthright did. I told him that I want to see the coach (we're meeting on Monday) and that the step after that would be taking it in for a safety check. Once that's done, I'll have a better idea of how much work I'd need to have done to have the sucker plated in Quebec and, therefore, how much I'd be willing to spend.

The guy sounds eager to sell, so I remain optimistic. I think that with a less eager buyer he risked shooting himself in the foot, though. At any rate, I'll be contacting the safety inspection centre people to find out how much one of those inspections costs and how long it takes to get an appointment. My intention is to pay for the safety myself and have him the take the coach in on his own time.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Future of This Blog

(I probably need to apologize for 'spamming' today, LOL)

My blog is obviously taking on a new direction, but I'm not creating a new one. These new developments are just one more chapter in this Idiot's tale.

I will continue to right about homemaking and frugality and faith and all that, but in the context of the new direction my life is taking.

The Fun of Importing

I just got off the phone with the SAAQ (Quebec 'DMV'). In order to bring the motorhome into Quebec, I need to have another safety inspection done. They will, of course, find things wrong with the vehicle even though Ontario didn't, because this is Quebec and Quebec believes in nickel and dimeing its over taxed citizenry.

Once I meet the safety requirements, I can get a licence plate that will officially put the vehicle in my name. In order to do so, I need to pay the QST (Quebec sales tax). If I lived in Ontario, I could just give the guy a cheque and that would be that. But because I'm in another province, I need to pay 7.5% more than our agreed upon sales price.

Once I've ponied up that money (which will be at least a grand), I can then pay for the licence plate. The amount I was quoted was suspiciously low (482$ for a year, 326$ due now till February). If I only have to pay 500$ a year for plates for this thing, you will need to scrape me off the floor.

It's too late now to make more calls, but tomorrow I will be calling the safety check places to find out how much that will cost, then an insurance company.

That done, I will investigate a 'proper' RV finance loan. I don't technically need one, but I'd rather keep my other funds if I can.

One Door Wide Open

I was asked for an update on the bus situation. I'm really not convinced that a 1979 Wanderlodge is going to suit my needs. It's a sturdy product, but it is 30 years old, with steel springs instead of an air ride suspensions (which brings back nasty memories of boucing around in a school bus) and it has a cat 3208 engine that could make those BC mountains feel like Everest as I try climb them. There are so many cons that I'm not certain that 'It's a Wanderlodge!' makes up for them. Add to that the dismal cosmetics and I'm getting less and less enchanted the more I think about it.

That said, I have another candidate in mind! This one's not a bus, and it's not even diesel, but it's made by Tiffin motorcoaches, which also have a fabulous reputation. This coach is a '94, is in near perfect mechanical condition (minor things need updating, but they could wait), and the interior is gorgeous and spacious. It even has a full size tub! The only things I'd want to upgrade immediately would be the flooring (replace carpet with laminate) and to install a bookcase in the livingroom. Soon as I saw this coach, I want 'ah ha!' It's exactly the sort of space I see myself living in. The price is excellent, too, and I plan to make a rather lowball offer to see if I can knock even more money off. Yup, I think I've found my new home! I've contacted to seller to make arrangements to view it. The fact that it's located in Ottawa and was just recently safety checked are huge bonuses. The first fact means that I don't have to travel to see it (more $$$) and the latter means that I don't need to have another mechanical inspection done in order to purchase.

In other, related, news, The Letter arrived today at last. I didn't get the job. Yippee! I can't believe that was my reaction. There was a a time not so long ago when I would have seen not getting my dream job as being the end of the world, a portent of a dismal future. Now, I just see all the opportunities this would afford me! The gods have truly blessed this wayward child of their's.

I'm going out to celebrate with a friend tonight (celebrate NOT getting your dream job, how funny is that?!), so I'm off to research the nutritional content of squid in black bean sauce. Yum, yum!