"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."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Decisions, Decisions

I went back to the storage place last night with a friend so I could show off Miranda and also get her opinion on which bed to rip out and replace with a desk. My friend also wound up hauling boxes, but that was not my intent for bringing down there, LOL!

So, I wanted to rip out the bed on the left. The bedroom isn't symmetrical and the left side has a wider wall. I felt that I could tuck both a desk and a chair away and have them not be visible from the kitchen, as evidenced in one of my pictures on Flickr.

Also, the right-side bed has a drop down table, so I felt that it was conveniently set up for use as a couch, even if the electrical plug and heater are on that side.

The previous owner told me that, having lived in the coach for six months, she felt that the right-side bed should be the one to go, pointing out the wider wall and the electrical outlet. I didn't find her arguments convincing.

My friend also suggested I take out the right-side bed, telling me that I won't have guests often, but when I do, the wider wall of the left side will make a sort of alcove that will offer much needed privacy in such a small space.

That settled it.

Another decision to make is where to put the litter box. I am seriously considering giving up the space under the 'sofa' and dedicating it to the cat box. I had hoped to be able to put the box in the basement, but there are no convenient places in which to do so. My other option is to put it in the storage space below the wardrobe, but that would require removing a door. I think that making a discreet hole in the base of the 'sofa' makes more sense. The final option was to put the box in the cockpit, either between the two seats or at the foot of the passenger seat, but that area is carpeted and will remain carpeted, so I don't feel that's a good idea.

I had hoped to be able to remove one of the lounge chairs and the bar at some point to replace them with a credenza/bookcase. The chairs are bolted down and I couldn't immediately see a way to remove them, so I might have to live with them.

Then, I discovered that the material covering the chairs and dinette benches also covers the ceiling of the cockpit. I've decided that I therefore have to live with this material. That said, I still want to remove as much of the sage green curtains as I can (I used to love that colour, but now I just see my cubicle!!!) and play up the other colours in the fabric--there's blue, pink, gold, and peach, so I know I'll be able to do do something I can live with. I'm also pretty sure I'll need to replace the mini blinds at some point since Tabitha and Neelix will surely destroy them.

Finally, I feel that the space above the fridge was poorly designed, so I'm going to spring for a cabinet for up there. I'll be unable to match Miranda's woodwork, so I think I'll go for open shelves and use the space for books.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A Tale of 30 Kilometres

Whew! Miranda's officially officially mine! I dropped her off at the storage place tonight. This was my first time driving her. Yes, I bought a vehicle without test driving it first. No comments on that, please. :-)

I looked her over and then decided to take her out onto the street to see if I could tow. Taking a deep breath, I sat down in the pilot's seat (very, very comfy), adjusted the mirror, inserted a key, and ROAR! My gal came to life! It took me a moment to remember where the parking brake is on such a a vehicle and then we were rolling!

Although I parked her a tad crookedly, I was still reasonably close to the curb, something that was really hard to gauge. I wasted perhaps a half hour trying to hook up my car to the tow bar before realising that I'm missing some pins. I'll check with my mechanic to see if the pins come with the base plate or the tow hitch. I was happy to discover safety cables in her basement so I didn't have to go to the back end of Gatineau to pick some up.

Since I couldn't tow, I moved on to plan B (get someone to pick me up at the storage place) and took off with just Miranda. First obstacle: getting to the end of the street. It's a fairly wide street, but cars were parked on both sides. I held my breath as I ran the gauntlet, but Miranda and all the cars came through unscathed.

I took it nice and easy and made my way out of the neighbourhood. By the time I got to Island Park Drive, about two and a half kilometres away, I was feeling pretty cocky.

And then came the cyclist.

She was well in her bike lane, I was well in my lane, and the traffic in the opposite direction was also well in its lane. But I wasn't so sure about the mirror.... I slowed to a crawl as I passed the cyclist. The mirror seemed to miss her and I moved on, keeping an eye backwards, praying that when she passed my blind spot she'd still be on her bike. I soon saw that, of course, she was, and she wasn't even paying me any mind. I rolled my eyes and continued.

The turn onto Merivale (Merry-vail, not Merry-val-eh, dear Majel!) was a bit awkward, and then I was on Carling, heading for the Queensway. I crossed three lanes to put myself in the correct one. Got to the light at Kirkwood and discovered that there was a utility truck in my lane between myself and the on ramp!!! So, I had to move one lane over in traffic. I put on my turn signal, checked the mirrors, prayed, moved into the second lane, crossed the intersection, passed the crew, and quickly manoeuvred myself back into the third lane to access the ramp.

Whew! I was on the highway!

The rest of the drive was positively uneventful, as I expected highway driving to be. Miranda handles well for her bulk. Of course, I need to get used to braking (I'm not bad at estimating her braking distance needs, though) and the backup camera will be most welcome, but I didn't feel like an utter nincompoop who had no business driving an RV.

Saturday will bring a new challenge: backing up. :-)

President's Choice Spicy Black Bean Soup

Except for cream of tomato, broccoli, and celery, I don't buy canned soups. They're just not as satisfactory as what you can make at home. I use the creams of broccoli or celery as binders when making casseroles, but don't eat them as soup (mine are superior!), while tomato soup goes into just about everything (including cake) as well as being eaten as is. At any rate, I was at Loblaws the other day and noticed cans of Spicy Black Bean soup on mega sale. Looking at the ingredients, it seemed to basically be a thin chili. The nutritional information was impressive and I knew I couldn't buy the ingredients for the buck and change the soup was going to cost, plus there were two portions in the can. I bought it.

Last night, I heated it up and immediately the kitchen filled with the lovely aroma of black beans and spices. The taste was a tad smokey, very rich and flavourful, and there were nice chunks of vegetables in addition to lots and lots of black beans. I served the soup with cheddar sprinkled on top and a hunk of beer bread (taken out of the freezer), making most satisfactorily filling and delicious dinner.

So, I give PC a thumbs up for another fantastic Blue Menu item!

The Day Has Come at Last!

I get to go pick up Miranda at 6:30 tonight!

The previous owner called me on Saturday morning to let me know that he was releasing the keys... and that his neighbour with the keys had just left for the weekend. *edits a really honest, but not so nice, thought* Anyway, the neighbour called last night to say I can swing by tonight. At last!!!

A friend and I had planned to go pick up Miranda together in her car, so she could follow me to the storage location and give me a ride back. We both felt that I'd have enough stress without worrying about towing right away. Well, of course, now that my friend has been on standby for over a week, she had to leave town. So, trial by fire for me tonight. :-)

I went over to Their house yesterday to install Miranda's license plate (carrying a copy of an email giving me permission to be on Their property, just in case). I wasn't sure about what tools (wrench) I'd need for that or how complicated it would be (not at all), so I figured that I could save some time on pick up night. And, okay, I just wanted to make sure my rig was okay! :-) At the same time, I took a closer look at the tow hitch... and discovered that They hadn't left me the safety cables. *rolls eyes* So, I need to go pick some up before I get Miranda tonight. There's a store in Gatineau called 'Attache remorques'(Trailer Hitches), so I figured they would probably have the necessary item. They do. Thank goodness. I can't believe how much STUFF is involved in towing. Freedom doesn't come cheap!!!

My car is filled to the brim with assorted bits and bobs for the coach, as well as all my hand tools. Since Miranda will be parked 45 minutes from home, I won't have the luxury of making a million trips out to see her, so I need to maximize every visit. Moving will be easier than I'd thought, though. My mother is coming up the last weekend in August to get some of the furniture my sister wanted, plus the few boxes she'll store for me. It was supposed to be earlier, but this turns out to be a much better plan. I'll be able to pick up Miranda that morning and bring her up to my house and then fill her right there, with help in bringing in larger items like the mattress. Then, I can take off for a campground for my final three or four nights before hitting the road. I had another thought over the weekend. I wasn't sure what to do with the bed spreads and curtains that come with Miranda and which I don't want. I might as well store them.

This coming Saturday, provided the weather cooperates, I aim to go pick up Miranda bright and early and drive her to the nearest Home Depot so I can get all the major work done on her--back up camera installation, bed ripping out, carpet replacement, desk building, etc. That's going to be such a fun day!

Friday, July 25, 2008

I Might Seem Impatient...

I've been asked why it's turning into such an issue that I might have to wait another week before I take possession of Miranda.

Let's start with the legal implications. I am now the registered owner of this coach and am insuring it. Therefore, I am liable for anything that happens to the coach or that it might do. If the neighbour who has the keys decides to take Miranda for a joy ride and then commits a hit and run, or if she rolls down the steep driveway on which she's park and kills a child playing in the street, I'm liable.

Then there is the issue that I told the owner weeks ago that I needed the coach by this weekend. No, not because it would have been the perfect weekend to take her on a shakedown cruise (something that came up after I gave him the deadline), but because after this one I have only five weekends left before I leave!!!

I have to learn to drive this thing, how to tow with it, how to use its systems, as well as make the necessary renovations, upgrade the electrical systems (more solar power), install a backup camera, move in, and take it for a shake down cruise. I'm running out of time!

If I wanted to end this really badly, I could exercise my right to go to their house right now with a police officer who would then knock on every door on the street until he found the neighbour who has the keys. But that's not my way. The owners are now aware that I know my rights, have access to lawyers (it's very convenient to work with some), and could make their lives difficult. I trust that this will be sufficient to grease the necessary wheels.

I'm Not the Only Wiccan Klutz, Apparently

Woman stabs herself during Wiccan ceremony.

She must be related to the bird who set her Book of Shadows on fire last year.

Okay, Now I Have Something To Say

Miranda's PREVIOUS owner's bank is playing hardball with the cheque from the dealership and has withheld the funds until it clears. My bank would have given me part of the funds, but, anyway, that's between him and his bank and has nothing to do with me.

He doesn't see it that way and advised me that I should have my keys next week sometime.

I told him that this is not acceptable. I'm really disappointed that this is how the transaction has turned out after it going so smoothly for so long. I think the biggest issue is that he clashed with the wonderful lady doing the financing--she didn't do things his way, so of course she was 'difficult.' I maintain that if he'd advised us much earlier on in the process that he was leaving the country that none of this would be an issue right now.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

So Close...

Miranda is legally mine. I received the necessary paperwork today to go to the SAAQ and get her plated. Once again, I lucked out with a licence plate that has numbers which are meaningful to me, so I already know the plate number by heart.

She's legally mine... but I have no keys yet. I have nothing nice and or non-sarcastic to say about that, so I'll refrain from commenting.

I got Pommette the toad back from having her base plate installed. There is still more to do, and I still can't tow, but I'm very close. In order for me to be able to tow, I'm missing the plug that would connect the car electric system to Miranda's. I didn't know what sort of plug she has, so the mechanic was unable to install it. I went over tonight to ogle my gal, pet her, and take a photograph of the connector. Hopefully, the missing component can be installed tomorrow. After, there's another thing that needs to be installed, but I'll be okay to tow short distances until Blue Ox gets the part to the garage.

Finally, my back up camera arrived. I took one look at the installation instructions and blanched, but I'm sure I can get it installed. It'll just take longer than the instructions say it will.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tales from the Legal Code of Quebec

Did y'all know that until April 15th of this year, it was illegal to have a GPS in your car?

I joked with my friend last night that she should have a GPS so she won't get lost when she goes to my place. She said she has one, but doesn't use it in Quebec because they're illegal here.

Turns out, she wasn't all that wrong since the law only changed very recently.

I do suspect it's a case of the law not keeping up with technology, though, because the law said that it is illegal to keep a screen of some sort where the driver can see it. An exemption needed to be made for GPS units.

Took them long enough.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Friends With a Sense of Humour

A friend sent me a clip of Leonard Nimoy singing a song called... Miranda.

I'd listen to Spock, er, Leonard Nimoy read the phone book, but I have to say this is a catchy tune.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mobility and Community

I've been following the adventures of Sean and Louise, fulltiming in Odyssey, a 40' Neoplan bus, for quite a long time now.

I remember reading their blog for the first time and thinking "Wow, I'd love to do that... but there's absolutely no way I could." I credit Louise for indirectly getting me out of that mentality. I had so many excuses for not getting on the road, one of which was that my cats would simply tear up the motorhome with their claws. She presented a solution, Softpaws, and helped me realise that there was a solution to all my excuses. Flash forward many months, and here I am, a month and a half before my own fulltiming dream begins!

Sean and Louise are presently volunteering for the Red Cross. Their current blog entries have chronicled their mad dash from Wyoming to Texas, and they're about to be on the move again.

I cannot wait to have this sort of mobility.

When my father was ill, I wanted to move to be closer to him. That wasn't feasible in the amount of time he had left. How nice it would have been to have the freedom to drop my job for a few months, something I could have done had I necessary mobility, to be with him full time!

Or how about those interesting temporary job postings for which I can't apply because moving house wouldn't make financial sense and staff housing wouldn't work because of the catkids?

How about volunteer opportunities during times of disaster?

Or even cases like this week where I realised just how unsafe is the area in which I'm living?

Most of the people I know in the 'real' world are extremely sedentary. They would look at this post and say "Yeah, mobility has its advantages, but you have to give up having a community."

I couldn't disagree more. In just a few short months, I've learned that RVers form a community unto themselves, partly 'real' and partly virtual. I can't wait to compare that sense of community to that which I've experienced in the various places I've lived.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Ludicrously Easy and Insanely Delicious Chicken

This fabulous dish has only two ingredients:

-chicken breasts (frozen)
-white wine vinegar Dijon mustard

It takes two days to make. The first day, I had the chicken after just the first step and it was okay. Second day, it was delicious!

Coat the bottom of an oven proof dish with a generous amount of the mustard and lay the frozen chicken breasts on top. Brush on another generous amount of mustard.

Allow to thaw/marinate all day.

Bake the chicken until done. I believe my oven was at 350 and that the cooking time was 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven. Cool. Return to the fridge in the same dish.

Allow the cooked chicken to marinate one more day in the mustard which will now be mixed with cooking juices.

When ready to serve, cut up the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Place in a hot non-stick pan with the marinade. Cook until the chicken browns and the marinade starts to create a crispy coating.

Soooooo good. I love mustard! I bet this would even be good cold in a pita bread with lettuce, tomatoes, and a dab of low-fat sour cream.

Chicken is becoming less and less foreign!

Glimmer of Hope For Next Weekend!

One of Miranda's current owners will be able to pick up the cheque in Laval in person on Tuesday and at the same time drop off the registration papers. Once they confirm the cheque is good, they'll call me so I can get keys, which a neighbour will be holding for me. If everything continues to go as smoothly as it has, this will happen no later than Thursday so I should be able to take advantage of the one evening the SAAQ is open late and therefore get Miranda's plates right away.

Pomette (the toad) is going in tonight to get her base plate installed tomorrow, so she'll be nice and ready for when I go pick up Miranda.

Of course, picking up Miranda this way will mean that I won't be getting a crash course in her systems. So, it looks like I'll be learning the hard way. :-D

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Truly Wondrous Technology!

Just how have I traveled all these years without a GPS unit?!

Today, I drove out to the only RV storage place I contacted that felt my request for about six weeks of storage was worth a reply. It's forty minutes away, but an easy and lovely drive. I paid up till August 31st (105$ plus a 20$ key deposit) and was told that I can bring Miranda up any time after Monday, so that's another thing resolved.

I let the GPS unit direct me there. It was nice to just let 'someone else' take over and to just drive. When I was ready to leave, I asked the GPS to take me to the nearest gas station, then to the nearest Loblaws grocery store, then to home. I really enjoyed the disorienting feeling I got at the gas station when I realised that I had literally no idea where I was! Of course, this told me that I will still need to carry maps in case of GPS failure, but otherwise I was free to enjoy the sun and scenery and let the GPS do the hard work.

A kilometre to home, the unit got a name: Majel. After Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, who did the voice of the computer on the various Star Trek shows and also played Nurse/Doctor Christine Chapel. Hmm... Now would be a good time to point out that Neelix came with his name, which he responded to, and therefore I'm not responsible for that bit of geekiness!

Almost a third of the weight there...

Woohoo, I hit the 14lb weight loss this morning! I'm aiming to lose 45lbs (more if needed, but that's a start), so by next week I should be at a full third.

The last few weeks were a tad depressing. There was one week where I gained more than a pound back, and then I started to lose that pound in dribble increments of .2 to .4 pounds.

I introduced chicken into my diet, enabling me to suddenly be as sated with a diet of 1,200 calories as I had been with one of 1,300-1,700 calories. I made sure to stay under 1,500, but didn't otherwise obsess with how much I was eating. I also ate whatever I wanted, within those calorie limits, of course. Mmm... Treats apple cinnamon muffins. Best when consumed once per week only. :-)

Last week, the scale started to budge again--.8lbs gone last week from the week before that.

Today's numbers represent a 1.7lb loss from last week. WOOHOO!

The weight loss is finally starting to show in my clothing. Three weeks ago, I was still fitting into 1X but found some XL pieces that looked good. Two weeks ago, I had to let go of the 1X when I discovered that everything in XL fits me. Yesterday, I bought three XL sized tops and one L!

(What am I doing buying clothes? None of my 1-2X sized tops from last year fit and I actually need tee-shirts! I'm only buying tops on sale that I'll be able to wear again in my casual life starting this fall.)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Well, That Was Weird

The office is kind of empty today and I have my section of the floor all to myself. A colleague came by to chat with me. As we did, I clearly saw a woman walk behind her and go into the cubicle across from mine... where she vanished.

My colleague asked me what was wrong and I described what I'd just witnessed. She asked me to describe the woman and I was able to give a pretty good description.

"Oh!" she said. "That was my sister!"

Her sister was murdered six years ago.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

First Major Obstacle

According to my financing lady, funds will be released to Miranda's current owner Monday or Tuesday.

Thing is, her current owner is leaving the country for two weeks starting Sunday.

He's going to try to push for an electronic bank transfer tomorrow or Monday at the latest so that he can leave keys for me with a neighbour or something along those lines.

Otherwise, Miranda won't be mine until August 4th or 5th at the earliest.

I told him that he should have advised both me and the financing lady of this on Monday so that we could have rushed the paperwork. Anyway...

I was so hoping to have her for next weekend, though. My sister is having a party at a town only an hour from where Miranda will be parked all of August and I had hoped that this could be our first trip out together. *crossing my fingers*

At any rate, I'm not going to freak out over this until I know for sure how it's going to turn out.

Banks Amuse Me

Tuesday, I was advised by the lady taking care of the financing that the bank was backing out of part of the pre-approval terms because they now felt I was too much of a risk. I could still get the financing at the 6.99%, but over 5 years, not 9. If I met a certain condition, though, they would reconsider the 9 years.

The condition was so idiotic, a real given: they wanted me to provide them with proof that I did have the money to pay cash or give a down payment, but I was choosing not to. How idiotic is that? I had all that paperwork ready for them and was just waiting for them to ask for it. *rolls eyes*

So, today I finally got the papers I needed to sign and the terms stated weren't what I was expecting.


"Due to your excellent credit rating and financial portfolio, we are pleased to offer you a rate of interest of 6.49% instead of the previously discussed 6.99%. Thank you for doing business with us."

I'm choosing to laugh.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Officially an RVer?

I got my 'welcome to the FQCC' kit today!

québécoise des
camping et

(Quebec federation of camping and RVing.)

The package included stickers for Miranda's upper left rear end to identify her as belonging to this group, including a series of number that identify her uniquely. I'm not sure yet of the benefit of that.

Membership has a lot of benefits in Quebec and some across Canada and even the US.

I joined mainly because membership was 58$ and meant I paid 150$ less for my insurance policy, for a savings for 92$, plus I get the rebates at specific gas stations, campgrounds, RV supply stores, and more. Membership comes with a really nice magazine, but I opted out because it's focused on Quebec and I didn't feel it would be worth having it forwarded to wherever I end up being over the next year.

I'm looking at other discount clubs and might join one more, but that'll be it for my first year on the road.


With the acquisition of my new home being imminent, I realised that it was time to start putting off my tool organization project, something that has become a bit of a running joke. I bought a nice tool box a few years back, but it won't be suitable for the RV. I decided that a couple of soft-sided bags with lots of compartments would be better.

I started my search at Réno-Dépôt, knowing they would have the largest selection so I could get an idea of what I did and didn't want. Then, I went to Canadian Tire.

Canadian Tire might have some of the worst service on the planet, but it really is a great store. It carries the same wide range of items, in both selection and price, as Sears, Walmart, and Zellers. Prices are average; usually better than Sears, but not as good as Walmart or Zellers. Still, it's a great one-stop shopping destination. When in a strange town and needing something, I rather go there than the other options because I know I'll get better prices than Sears, but a better quality and quantity of selection than Walmart or Zellers.

The thing that really makes shopping at CDN Tire worth it are its sales. It doesn't kid around with sales, they're the real thing. When you go to CDN Tire, I recommend checking your budget at the door. If something has been on your 'I'd like this one day list' and it's on sale that day, get it. If you don't, you'll never again find that item for such a low price. I'm speaking from years of regret!

I focused on the tool section tonight and immediately stumbled on a kit of squeeze vises/grips in a carry bag. On my 'ILTODL', regularly 11.99$, now 4.49$. Into the basket it went.

Then off to the tool kits. Found the soft sided bag I wanted and it came with a smaller, more compartmentalized, bag; with the purpose being 'put your every day tools in the small bag, chuck the rest in the big bag.' Big bag regularly 39.99$. Small bag regularly 25.99$. Both bags tonight 14.99$. Not each, 14.99$ for both together.

Finally, I got to the screw drivers. I have two screw drivers with changeable bits. I hate them!!! My fingers are very insensitive and clumsy so I'm always dropping the darn bits when I want to switch from a square head to a star, etc. I've been wanting to get a complete, piecemeal, screw driver kit; the kind with extra long drivers and extra short ones on top of the regular length. It'd be extra weight in the RV, but worth it in aggravation. Found such a kit. Regularly 59.99$, 19.99$ tonight.

Total for all items: less than what I had budgeted for the tool box.

Now, I have no excuse not to get that bit of my life organized. :-)

Time To Go

It's no secret that I don't live in a good neighbourhood. I knew that going in, but figured that I'd be fine for a year since the location is so convenient to work. I avoid going out at night on foot and am hyper vigilant when walking around during the day on weekends. During week days, though, the neighbourhood is crawling with civil servants walking to and from their jobs at the various government complexes in the area. I'm alert walking to and from work, but I never would have expected what happened to me as I headed for home today at lunch.

A block from my house, I heard a man behind me, obviously on a bicycle and on the sidewalk. He was muttering. Immediately, I tensed, knowing that 'something' was up. I sped up. He sped up to join up with me, pushed me into the bushes, spit on me, and called me a truly vile name.

I spent my lunch hour filing a police report, taking a shower, and washing my clothes.

In the year I've lived here, this was the second time I had to call the police. The first time was because I thought my neighbours were going to murder each other. In 2006, I was driving on a highway that goes through the outer edge of the neighbourhood and was struck by a huge rock thrown from the overpass above me.

It's time to go.

I can't wait to live a lifestyle that will enable me to leave bad neighbours and scary situations immediately.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Status Update

Financing requested a proof of insurance in order to finalize the paperwork. Insurance required a date of possession in order to finalize their paperwork. So, financing gave me a date. Monday.



My car needs a base plate! And Miranda needs her back up camera! And the parking people haven't gotten back to me! And... and... and... I don't know anything about RVs!

*breathes in, breathes out*

Why I Chose to Finance

People have asked me why I didn't pay cash for my RV when I had the money to do so.

Here's the simplified answer.

My investments are currently netting an average return of 7.5%.

The financing will be 6.99%

By financing, my money will keep working for me and I'll still be ahead .51% at the end of the year.

Even more succinctly: I'd lose money by paying cash.

I'm sure there's nuances to that, but that's the short of it according to my financial adviser. Had my financing been at the 8% I was first offered, then paying cash would have been a better option.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Put It on the View Screen, Lieutenant

Miranda's only fault is that she doesn't come with a back up/rearview camera system. I can barely back up with a car and I won't have any help in guiding me into tight spots. So, I couldn't imagine hitting the road without this device.

Finding one to purchase was quite tough. The electronics stores I visited sold components for the systems, but not whole ones, and the staff wasn't very knowledgeable about these things. I don't have much experience or knowledge of electronic systems, so I didn't want to go the piecemeal route. Wal-Mart and Canadian Tire have complete systems, but they are cheap and not well rated, as well as wireless, which wouldn't work on a 31'+ rig.

Googling, I found some sites offering systems for prices ranging from 350$ to several thousand dollars.

Finally, I went to the Escapees forum I belong to (and where people have been inordinately patient with all my questions!). Someone recommended an eBay seller he's personally dealt with and who has excellent feedback. The cheapest system was 250$ (plus 30$ shipping to Quebec) and seemed very good--weatherproof camera and cable, all the hardware needed, colour monitor, and more. So, I added one more 'officialism' to my list and purchased the system.

The seller also offers side cameras. Since the monitor I purchased can be hooked up to three cameras total, I had a flash of my adding two side cameras to give me a 360 degree view around my coach... not unlike the view screen on the Enterprise!

Installing the camera seems easy enough, all things considered, except, of course, for the part that involves climbing up onto the roof. :-)

Coming Together Indeed...

I continue to marvel at how this project of mine is coming together.

I haven't given a lot of thought to finding work on the road, but it has been at the back of my mind, enough for me to envision an 'ideal' scenario for the winter.

I don't plan to travel, at least not much, during the winter. After a month of driving across the country and up to a month of going from place to place picking fruit, I will have most likely exhausted my current savings and even racked up a bit of debt. So, I figured that staying put for the winter would be my best bet.

Therefore, I'm hoping to find work at a campground located near a large urban centre (probably either Victoria or Vancouver), one where I could work enough part-time hours evenings and weekends to guarantee me free rent for the winter. I would then supplement this with part or full-time work 'in town' at a 'real' job with good pay, enabling me to build up my bank account again.

Sounds like a tall order, right?

Well, I just sent off a resumé in response to a job posting that meets all of these requirements!

I Was Wrong...

About stress levels going down once negotiations were over.

Still so much to do, EEEEEEEEEEEEP.

And, what, praytell, do I know about the care and feeding of an RV?!

(just be grateful I didn't share any of my other meltdowns)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

First Purchases for the Coach!

I had a lovely time in upstate New York yesterday and picked up a few items for my coach (ignore all prices on the websites, I only picked up stuff on sale!!!):

-Garmin Nuvi 260 GPS (how, praytell, have I traveled all this time without a GPS?!);

-APS 750V battery back-up system (UPS) and surge protector, for my computer set up of course;

-Black & Decker Pet Series hand vac, which they claim is specifically engineered to pick up pet hair (the reviews support this);

-Corelle Sandstone dinnerware--I decided after a lot of hemming and hawing to get a plain colour because the coach was going to look 'busy' enough;

-Stanley Stud Sensor, because I want to make as few holes as possible in my coach (and got quite the lesson in the mobile house);

-collapsible over the sink strainer;

-collapsible measuring cups (and matching spoons);

and, finally, let's not forget my

-Wonder Wash, which was a gift.

The trip was well worth the time and gas I expended... especially since gas is so much cheaper in the US. When I bought two gallons worth at the last gas station before the border, the attendant took my ten bucks and laughed, saying that it's easy to spot Canadians these days--they're the ones topping off their almost full tanks before going home!

Friday, July 11, 2008


For those who are curious, I'll give a few details about the negotiations that went on tonight. I'm not posting this on the other blog and will, in fact, remove some stuff about the negotiations from the other blog because the current RV owners will be reading it. So, those at OIT get extra content!

At any rate, I showed up with some ads for other comparable rigs.

They were asking for 32,000$. A class C sells for about 18,000$ if it's in impeccable condition. That's a significant difference!

So, after I showed them how I got my 18,000$ figure, I opened the negotiations at 20,000$. The owner said that he had posted for 32,000$, and was hoping for 28,000$. His wife didn't want to join the conversation yet.

I then reconfirmed that they were willing to include the tow system with cables, worth several thousand dollars, as well as a solar panel and inverter. Yes. I went up to 23,000$. I could see his wife getting a little bit antsy. I didn't budge, let her gather her words. She finally said that she couldn't imagine letting the coach go for anything less than 25,000$.

That was the maximum I wanted to pay (and was pre-approved for) and, truth?, what I think that the coach is worth. I even think it's a bargain. I have a rig that's in absolute perfect condition AND I don't have to go through the hassle of finding the tow hitch, and then paying to get it installed. The solar panel and inverter aren't cheap toys, either. I'll need a more powerful inverter, but had wanted a smaller one, too, which I've got now. I've also got a luxury unit with a lot of little features, an incredible amount of carrying capacity, a huge basement, a more powerful engine than most units being sold, and the exact layout I wanted. And let's not forget the incredibly low mileage.

So, I gave her words a moment of silence, smiled, and said that I could live with 25,000$. We shook on it, then we went out to my new home so I could give her one more look over before we do the transfer of ownership next week. We talked about my plans and they gave me some tips and even offered to let me go home with all the instruction manuals. I resisted. I just want to do this in the proper order and those manuals aren't really mine yet.

Tomorrow, I'm going to the United States to pick up a Wonder Wash someone is giving me, and then I'll head to Watertown, NY, for some serious cross-border RV shopping. I'm aiming to come back with at the absolute minimum a GPS, a back up camera system, an uninterrupted power supply, and a surge protector. This bird found out recently that there is no duty on all electronics other than televisions, and some Googling revealed that there are serious bargains to be had south of the border. It'll make for a fun day; there's nothing like pulling out the passport and foreign currency to spice up the week even if you're only going to the good old US of A. :-)

It's been a good day.

Introducing Miranda

Miranda is an impeccable 31' Glendale Royal Classic.

(To the person who voted for the Winnie Minnie, I'll just say that the WM had no basement storage, a less powerful engine, half the carrying capacity, and it reeked.)

Here's a plan of her layout. The only difference between this diagram and real life is that I have a rear twin bed configuration instead of a queen bed. But this will at least make it possible to put the pictures in their proper context.

I've put the pictures on a Flickr slide show. These are pictures taken by the seller. I will add my own later, especially as I made my modifications.

So, without further ado, I'd like to introduce my Miranda.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Thoughts No Longer Silly

I wrote the following post on March 1st of this year, but felt the thoughts were too brazen, too self-assured, too unwavering in their conviction. I didn't want anyone to read those words and look back at them four months down the road and laugh at me for failing, yet again, to live up to the big things I want for my life. I've bolded the two sentences I wrote that night which made me realise that I really, really, really should not post this entry. While my current plans don't completely concord with my March 1st musings, I'd say that where I'm heading is a refinement of the thoughts running through my head then, not a tangent.


I don't know how many times in my life I've dreamt of some external force sweeping through my house and divesting me of all my worldly possessions. I dreamt of mobility, but put too much attention on things. I resented my ball and chain, but felt I couldn't live without it.

Yet, through all my dreaming of a house and how I would decorate and furnish it, there lay a stronger dream within me. This dream belonged to the 'real' me, the one who doesn't try to conform, who leads a fantasy life of her own designing, who knows that who she is is perfectly okay even if the rest of the world rolls her eyes at her.

This real me screamed at me yesterday. She made me take a good hard look at how I've lived and the patterns I always fall back into. She firmly advised me that I'll fall back into them in Manitoba. Once I started to listen to her, her screaming became the voice of reason.

I'm freaked out about my move to Manitoba. It's so overwhelming to think about packing and then figuring out how to get all my stuff from here to there and then tying myself down to a rental or worse buying a house right away. There's no doubt I'm moving there, none in the least, but all the scenarios I crunched brought more hassle and expense.

Then, everything came together. I posted to a blog about a different matter and that person posted a comment here. She led me to a forum where I began to ask questions and read. I Googled, I mused, I dreamt, I faced reality, and then I began to make plans. Last night, I took a slow walk through my house and said goodbye to everything. There is nothing in it worth my freedom, worth my peace of mind, worth my dream of seeing this continent.

So, I am in the process of researching motorhomes. As it turns out, there is an RV show in town and I will be spending the day there tomorrow researching possible models. What I am about to undertake, RVing in Manitoba in winter isn't going to seem like a sensible option, but I believe in my heart of hearts that it is the right thing for me. I have no idea how easy it will be to find a place to spend the winter as parks seem to be closed October to April, but I will find a way.

I want to rent a motorhome this summer to try life in one and to see how they handle. At summer's end, I will make my purchase and place in it only the few possessions worth taking to my new life. Then, without any hassle, without having to spend more money flying back and forth to Manitoba to find a place to live, I will, at the appointed hour, hitch my car to my home, embark with my cats, and head west. I will have all of October to find a job, if I haven't already done, so and a home for the six months following. I will be able to take just about any job anywhere.

So, that's where my journey of decluttering and purging which began almost five years ago has taken me. I cannot imagine my future other than in the context of my current life so I will not be making plans at this point. I will focus on meeting with my financial adviser to reevaluate my five year plan, picking the right RV, job hunting, and thinking about every purchase I make since I will no longer be hauling it from Quebec to Manitoba, but hauling it for the rest of my life. At this point, I am envisioning purchasing the motorhome in the very late summer or very early fall to give myself time to outfit it and then hold the rummage sale of all rummage sales.

High Treason

I've been told that I can come across as very critical of my country. Yeah, so? Just because I live in one of the (not THE, mind you) best countries in the world in which to live it doesn't mean that I have to take what's wrong with this place sitting down, that I'm not allowed to criticize what's not working. I vote, so I feel it's my right to have a say. In fact, I think it's my duty to not just sit by complacently. At any rate, José Emilio Pacheco sums up my thoughts about Canada perfectly (even though he was writing about Mexico). I'm not sure if my translation from the Spanish is 100% perfect, but it's close enough:

High Treason

I do not love my country. Its abstract splendour
is beyond my grasp.
But (although it sounds bad) I would give my life
for ten places in it, for certain people,
seaports, pinewoods, fortresses,
a run-down city, gray, grotesque,
various figures from its history
(and three or four rivers).

Inspection Results

First off, let me say that the coach is just as beautiful and spacious as I remembered it. I'm surprised!

So, the inspection.

The coach is in perfect condition. It's not just in good condition for its age. It's in perfect condition. Other than a really nitpicky item, I need to do absolutely nothing. The tires are just about new, I don't need to even think about the brakes for another 50K km, the fridge runs perfectly, the engine's good, the suspension is outstanding and doesn't even present a hint of a noted flaw in some of these types of chassis, there has been no water infiltration whatsoever (not even the kind that was fixed) and so on and so on and so on. All I can expect to need to do in the next two years at least are routine things like oil changes. The inspector says that he has never, in the dozens if not hundreds, of coaches he's seen, inspected one that was in that good of a condition. That it's a 1997 is further astounding.

The nitpicky item is that the automatic starter for the stove doesn't work. He can fix that for me if I want, but it's a couple hundred bucks, so I'll just stick to lighting the burners myself for now since an automatic starter is solidly in my list of luxury items.

So, well, wow.

Even with all this in mind, I've been firmly advised that the condition is a bonus for me and only an opportunity to get a price at the higher end of the value range for the owner. Both the inspector and the finance lady tell me that the price asked is not even a starting point. The only thing that should take me out of that range is the fact that he's open to including the tow bar, but to make sure that I don't wind up paying full price for that.

All that to say, I'm green lighted to start the not much fun part of this process.

And that this is obviously the coach I was meant to find.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Inspection Tonight!

Yesterday, I got a call from the mechanic who will be inspecting the RV. He's the step-father of one of my best friends and I've known him a long time, so he has a bit of a fatherly interest in my endeavour. He wanted to confirm that the coach was delivered on schedule and that the owner will be away till the rest of the week. He then suggested that we try to coordinate our schedules so I can be present for the inspection. 4:30 TONIGHT worked for both of us, yay!!! I cannot wait to be able to go through the rig again on my own. He's pretty much an RV expert (with RV inspection experience and certifications up the yazoo), so I know I'm in good hands.

Crossing Borders Within Canada

A friend of mine asked me last night what makes me feel that Canada discourages any sort of serious and long term travel within its borders, something I mentioned in my previous entry. I thought I should highlight the three roadblocks I've encountered so far, starting with the least severe. The more I look at this list, though, the more I have to wonder if the issue isn't Quebec rather than Canada. This is another reason I want to try life in other provinces.

1) Vehicle Insurance

This is not an issue I expected to encounter, but if I'm out of the province for more than 6 months, then getting insurance coverage for my vehicles is an issue. I was only able to get coverage by promising that I would not spend more than a couple of weeks of the upcoming year outside of Canada and that I would return to Quebec for six months starting next fall, else my coverage will not be renewed. Well, there's another reason for setting up residence elsewhere.

2) Health Coverage

Same sort of deal as with vehicle insurance. The RAMQ (Quebec health insurance board) allows one exemption to the 'no more than six months out of the province' rule every seven years. So, next fall I need to return to Quebec for six months or lose my health care coverage, and then I have to stay in in the province for six months per year for six years.

3) Voting

I sure hope that things have changed since the last time I was out of Quebec when there was a provincial election. When the 2001 elections came up, I enquired about voting by proxy from the small town in Ontario where I was going to school and was told I absolutely had to travel back to my riding in Quebec in order to vote. So, with my riding being a twelve hour bus ride away, this wasn't feasible and I had to give up my right to vote. Never mind that I was paying income tax in Quebec and still considered a resident of the province.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Proverbial Stone

Whew, I didn't intend to get insurance issues sorted out today, but I did! I'm thrilled with the coverage and price I got for a 'Globe Trotter Plus Nomad' (love that!) policy... that includes road side assistance for the RV. One less thing to research. *Rae heaves a huge sigh of relief*

I still need to check if my plans will affect my car policy (which I'll need to maintain with my current insurer), so I could still be in for surprises, insurance-wise, but I think the worst is over.

The fact that I will be out of Quebec for a year was a huge problem and I had to swear up and down and promise my firstborn child that I would not go to the United States for more than a couple of weeks at a time, and for no more than 6 mos total, as well as pay a premium. I can't figure out why my country is so difficult about people crossing its provincial borders for more than 6 mos. I know it has something to do with the health care regimes and provincial income tax, but all of that comes out in the wash if you ask me. *rolls eyes*

Okay, so now I'm waiting for the financing to be settled. This is stressing me out, probably more than it should. It's just that plans B through Z aren't nearly as advantageous as plan A and could really cramp my style. *prays*

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Gone A Flea Marketing

I decided that a nice drive out of the city was just what I wanted today, so I headed for the Antrim Flea Market. I love browsing at flea markets; you can find some real treasures.

In the hour or so that I was there, I picked up a book on Tarot as well as the following brand new item (should be folded flat, but I haven't got the knack of it yet):

I remember seeing these somewhere, either in a magazine or via a blog and coveted one. I'm so glad they fit in with my future lifestyle, and that the seller had one colour I liked (the others were awful).

What is this item?

A folding basket!

It's a solid construction and will be perfect for just about any sort of errand I want to run, while taking up almost no space when stored away.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Quick Soup

Background to this soup:

1) When I was a child, I learned to enjoy my veggies 'as is', without any sort of sauce, cheese, butter, or spices on them.

2) I think that a lot of the new recipes coming out these days are too complicated and filled with ingredients that mask the wonderful taste of certain veggies.

3) In my universe, broccoli is its own food group.


Rae's 15 Minute Cream of Broccoli Soup


-One large head, or two small heads, fresh broccoli (frozen will do if broccoli is not in season)
-Two cups spring water mixed with 1 tbsp vegetable broth powder
-1/4 to 1/2 cup of cottage cheese OR sour cream OR plain yoghurt OR milk OR cream OR soy milk (etc.)
-freshly ground pepper


Prepare the broccoli by cutting it all up, stalks and all, into bite size pieces. Do remove the tough outer part of the large stalk.

Put into a large microwaveable dish. Pour over the prepared vegetable broth.

Nuke 5 minutes. Stir. Nuke 4 minutes more.

Pour into blender, add the cottage cheese (or whatever), and liquefy. The resulting mixture will be thick and chewable as well as sipable.

Return to the microwaveable bowl and nuke 2 minutes or until hot.

Ladle into a cup or bowl, sprinkle with ground pepper.

Look at the colour of this thing, nothing like the anemic soup sold in restaurants. This soup is an excellent topping for a baked potato and moistener for mashed potatoes.


Background to picture:

1) Tabitha has no use for Neelix and is always hissing at him when he gets too close to her.

2) When the weather's nice, I like to open the backdoor to let in fresh air and light. Tabitha and Neelix will take turns lying by the door. Lately, the weather has been so crummy I've only been able to keep the door open perhaps a day or two in the past month. So yesterday, when I awoke to the first non grey day in recent memory, I threw open open the back door while I puttered around making breakfast before work. Tab and Nee must have known that the door wasn't going to stay open for long so...

Tabitha must have been desperate for some fresh air because she didn't even try to put any space between them!!!

Friday, July 4, 2008

The Count Down Begins...

Monday, I'm having my first official meeting (by phone) about financing pre-approval. I've done a lot of research about this, listened to both sides of the arguments, and concluded that, for me, I'm better off financing than using my savings. I have a good feeling about this lady I'll be working with. I emailed her at 8PM tonight... and she called me from home at 9:15 to schedule Monday's meeting. Talk about dedication to customer service.

Tuesday, the coach goes in for the mechanical inspection. Soon as I have the results from that, the owner and I are going to talk money. I'm dreading this talk. The guy put the coach on sale for 32K. It's a gorgeous unit, quite luxurious, and as close to a brand new rig as I could have ever dreamt (I'm itching to show pictures). But the book value for this rig is only 16K. If I factor in fair market value for some of the accessories he'd be throwing in, I still don't get at more than 18, 19K. The financing lady who has been in the RV business for many years came up with a figure of 17K, including accessories. That's 15K less than they're asking. Do I risk insulting them and losing out on this near perfect unit. I really don't have much time to look for anything else. The seller said that he's motivated, but how much so? His coach as been advertised all over the place since April. His wife is excited at the idea that the coach she loved and babied so much could pass into the hands of someone whose travels she'd be able to follow via a blog. I loathe talking money in this sort of scenario. If he was a dealer, no problem. I mean, I'm the one who got her brand new car financed at 0% for the 'paid in cash' price.


Thursday, July 3, 2008

Get Me Away from Google Maps!

For a truly unfathomable reason, I thought it was possible to drive from Inuvik directly to Yellowknife, through the NWT. So, in my mind, next spring I was driving to Whitehorse, Dawson City, taking the Dempster to Inuvik, going to Yellowknife, and then heading south through Edmonton.

I have no idea where my head was. I knew better than that.

So, here is my revised cross-country itinerary:

I know how insane that looks, but it's actually reasonably doable if I save days by riding hard to Winnipeg (averaging 500km per day).

The most likely scenario, though, will be that I'll return to Alberta and Saskatchewan as planned in the spring and just go straight from Brandon to Saskatoon to Edmonton to Yellowknife to interior BC by the most direct route.

Wow. Quite the carrot.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Why I Should Not Be Allowed to Play With Google Maps

Rae acknowledges that she 'cannot see everything' in the 28 days she has to cross the country, knows that she has a year ahead of her, but still decides to play the 'let's pretend this is the only chance I've got' game.

Next thing you know, she's going from Ottawa to Val D'Or to Thunder Bay to Winnipeg to Brandon to Regina to Moosejaw to Saskatoon to Edmonton to Calgary to Banff and Canmore to Medicine Hat to Fort MacLeod to the Crowsnest Pass to Kelowna to Victoria.

Total mileage (or kilometrage, as I like to put it): 5,950

Total km per day I'd have to do: 200

Which means this is totally doable if I alternate long days and stay put days.

Needless to say, I plan to revise this itinerary. :-D

So far my only MUST is that I hit Brandon, MB, at some point since it is home to the largest reptile zoo in Canada!!! I'll be able to see the longest snake in Canada AND the only two Nile crocodiles in this country!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It's been fun to look at the maps, but now it's back to serious, get on the road, sort of planning. Oh, and I wish a GPS would fall out of the sky; those things are hard to shop for. At least, I've narrowed it to a Garmin something.


Andy Baird is a full-time RVer with a lifestyle that really compares to mine. It was by perusing his site that I became convinced that a class C with rear twin beds is the best layout for me. He's also provided me with great advice on shopping for a class C and how to safely travel with an iMac. Through his site, I could see that he has a lot of really good ideas on how to get organized in a small space. So, when I saw that he offers a CD/download called Eureka! filled with his best RVing tips, I didn't hesitate to purchase it. I wasn't disappointed.

Eureka! is a treasure trove of RVing hints that is basically a full compendium of what this man has found to make RVing life more practical, pleasant, and safe. I've referred to it several times a day since purchase as I build up my 'to buy' list. Like me, Andy doesn't like 'idiot lights' (ie. gauges that tell you something is wrong before you can do anything about it) and has tips for adding information gauges for your engine, fridge, and solar panels, as well as how to upgrade the standard RV tank gauges. Other great advice includes an alternate solution to a doorbell which will make RVing safer, plans for adding many extra linear feet of storage space, and an explanation of electricity in such plain English that I actually understand now what volts, amps, and watts are!

No, this has not been a paid advertisement for Eureka! but Andy has been so much help that I felt he deserved a shout out. Thanks, Andy!