SATURDAY 27 August
(Note: This is a long post without any photos.)
The MV Blue Puttees ferry pulled in to the North Sydney Harbor right on time and was docked as scheduled at 7 AM, Atlantic time. I described the whole arrival and de-embarkation process at the end of the previous post. This post starts with us headed south out of North Sydney, Nova Scotia on the Trans-Canada Highway West (Hwy-105) around 7:30 AM Atlantic time.
We had driven this road several times while we were camped at the Cabot Trail / North Sydney KOA, and it was nice to have a final look at the area, at least for now. Indeed, our entire drive today was the reverse of a drive we did in July to get to this part of Nova Scotia, and ultimately to Newfoundland & Labrador. As we drove along, we reflected on what we might do differently regarding the ferry, if/when we return to this area and go back to Newfoundland & Labrador.
As mentioned in a previous post, we could have delayed our departure (or booked an extra night and left early) at the Grand Codroy RV & Tent campground in Newfoundland in preparation for the midnight crossing to North Sydney, Nova Scotia. (This was what we did at the Cabot Trail / North Sydney KOA when doing the midnight crossing from North Sydney to Channel-Port-aux-Basque, but arranged at the last minute instead of planed.) Our new understanding was that both of these campgrounds, due to their proximity to the Marine Atlantic Ferry Terminals, were prepared to deal with early and late arrivals. So, coming off of the midnight ferry crossings we could have gone to either of these RV parks, checked in early, and chilled for a couple of days. BUT we could also have taken the daytime ferries—which depart between 11:30 AM and noon, and arrive between 6 PM and 6:30 PM—and then checked in late at either of these RV parks. Either way, we would not have had to drive very far after getting off the ships. And, for travel this time of year we would have been driving in daylight for all of these scenarios.
The other thing we discussed was the idea of taking the short ferry route in one direction (~7 hours between North Sydney, NS and Channel-Port-aux-Basque, NL) and the long ferry route in the other direction (~ 16 hours between North Sydney, NS and Argentia, NL). The long route is more than twice the cost of the short route, but would allow a one-way trip across Newfoundland, avoiding the time, fuel, and camping costs of the return drive. This is actually a popular option. The folks on the ATVs in Lane 11 at the Channel-Port-aux-Basque terminal had done exactly this, coming to NL via the Argentia port, driving west across the island, and returning to the mainland via Channel-Port-aux-Basque.
But that was all about a distant possible future. Our destination today was the Elm River RV Park in Glenholme, Nova Scotia, because that’s where we had a reservation, and we had been there in July and liked it. Our navigation technology indicated the ~325 km (~202 mi) trip on Hwy-105 to Hwy-104 would take ~3-1/2 hours, putting us at the campground around 11 AM. We knew from our previous visit that it’s a relaxed operation, and when asked about check-in time the answer was “whenever you get here,” so we did not call ahead this time.
Linda had been keeping a close eye on the weather forecast, which had us driving through rain for much of the trip, and possibly setting up camp in the rain as well. As has often happened on this trip, however, that is not what happened. We had clouds with a little sun, some stormy looking with an occasional spritz, but no actual rain; until we were about an hour from our destination.
As we came into New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, we drove into a large rain complex. It took about 30 minutes to drive through it, but the rain was behind us by the time we reached our exit for Hwy-4 near Masstown, NS. 0.4 miles later we pulled into the Elm River RV Park. We could see that the site we had booked (#9) was vacant. It only took a few minutes for Linda to register us, and in short order we pulled into the site (W3W=”deluxe.partied.mutual”). This was the site Paul and Nancy had when we were here with them in July; we had been in site 8 next to them on that visit. These were pull-through sites, but we had to “pull through” an open/common area to get them. But it worked. Even better, I was able to position the truck so the trailer was level, side-to-side, without us having to do anything else. That’s always a bonus on the rare occasion that it happens.
Unhitching and front-to-back leveling went very smoothly, after which I connected the shore power while Linda moved the cat from the truck to the trailer and refilled her food and water bowls. All we had eaten since we got up were a couple of granola bars, so we each had a bagel and a banana.
Our neighbor to the left, Rodney, came over and introduced himself and his wife, Laura. Their 5th wheel trailer was on site 10. It was a seasonal site with a concrete patio and they had it nicely appointed. They only live 15 minutes away and use it as a weekend cottage, occasionally taking it out to “go camping.” He had even installed his own Wi-Fi system, and offered us the SSID and password (as long as we didn’t share it with anyone else). We recalled from our last visit that the RV Park Wi-Fi was not really usable, so wow, yes, deal, and thank you!
I started up my computer and opened the inSSIDer app to see what Wi-Fi signals were around. As expected, the 2.4 GHz band was crowded with lots of signals on overlapping channels. The 5 GHz band, however, was almost empty, with Rodney’s system occupying a wide set of channels at the upper end. The app reported a bandwidth of 1,300 Mb/s. That’s 13x better than our xFinity broadband service at home!
Neither of us had slept well on the ship last night, but Linda was especially tired and lay down to take a long nap. I decided to stay up and try to work and then go to bed a bit earlier. Years ago, on a business trip to Germany, I had learned that when traveling in a way that messes with my internal clock, it is better to stay up until “local bedtime” and then wake up at the normal local time in the morning, refreshed and with my “clock” reset. We did the same thing on our trip to Hawaii in the early 2000’s. When Linda got up, she visited for a bit with Rodney and Laura before we drove to the Masstown Market area back at Hwy-104 (~0.4 mi).
Our first stop was the Petro Canada filling station to refuel the truck. During our drive from North Sydney, we were pleasantly surprised by the fuel prices we saw posted along the highway, and those held up here (regular was at 1.66$). The fill up was 84.928 L (~22.4 gal) @ 1.724$/L for premium (~ 6.465$/gal = $4.98/gal) for a total of 146.42$ (~$112.74 @ 0.77 exchange rate). We traveled ~235 miles since filling up in Doyles, NL and averaged 10.5 mpg for that fill-up. We had noticed a variety of planes flying around the area and then saw a sign for an airshow at the Debert Airport this afternoon and again tomorrow afternoon.
We went to the Masstown Market across the street to restock some of our fresh vegetables and fruit. We had been here on our previous visit, so we knew it was a nice market. We also bought a bottle of Black Tower Rivaner wine, because we had never heard of this grape variety. The label said it was a smooth, fruity, German white wine. We went back across the street to the butcher shop because they had a few plant-based products, and bought some meatballs for tonight’s dinner, and burgers for tomorrow night. We also picked up a small flat oval pasta that we had never seen before for tonight’s dish.
Dinner was a salad with Romaine lettuce followed by the pasta with red sauce, meatballs, and chanterelle mushrooms. Of course, Linda sauteed onions and garlic in a little olive oil before adding the mushrooms, meatballs, red sauce, and then the cooked pasta. It was a nice meal. We should have opened the wine, but didn’t.
We doodled or worked for a while after dinner. I checked e-mail and had one from Chuck-the-barn-builder regarding the roof shingles for the barn. I checked for Microsoft updates. There were two, so I downloaded and installed them. It was going on 11 PM by the time they finished and I trundled off to bed, unable to keep my eyes open while trying to work a nonogram puzzle.
SUNDAY 28 August
We both needed a good night’s sleep and finally got it. I got up around 0600, fed the cat, and went back to bed. But I was awake by then, and got up to stay about 0630. I went outside to check the tire pressures on the truck and trailer using their TPMS. At 0645, my phone indicated 49 deg (F) but the truck indicated 45 deg (F). In this case, I believed the truck as the sun was not up yet and the engine had been off since we got back from the Masstown Market yesterday late afternoon.
On the truck, both steer tires showed 40 psi while the left rear was 45 and the right rear was 44. The trailer tires showed 75 for the spare and 72 for all of the road tires except the L/F at 71. The trailer readings were essentially identical within the accuracy of the valve-stem sensors. I presumed the same for the integral Ford system.
The rule-of-thumb for tires is a 1 – 2 psi change for each 10 deg (F) change in ambient temperature, in the same direction as the temperature change (tires not in the sun and not having been driven on for hours before hand). That doesn’t sound like much, but at 50 deg (F) that’s 2 – 4%. We had set the truck tires at Pippy Park (St. John’s, NL) when the temperature was ~57 deg (F), with the front tires at 41 psi and the rear tires at 45 psi according to my digital tire pressure gauge. The current pressure in the front tires seemed to follow the rule, but the rear tires seemed to be slightly higher than I expected. At 45 deg (F) in late August, I would like the front tires at 39 psi and the rear tires at 43 psi, but I did not want to make those adjustments in the cold. The trailer tires were set in Pippy Park at 74 psi when the temperature was around 66 deg (F) so the current readings seemed to be consistent with the rule-of-thumb.
We had our morning coffee while we played a few games and worked a few puzzles on our iPads. Having used more of my Conceptis Pic-a-Pix Nonograms and Multi-Sudoku puzzles when we were sick than I would have otherwise, I decided to purchase two more packs of Pic-a-Pix and one more Multi-Sudoku, just to make sure I had enough to make it home. (Puzzle withdrawal is a terrible thing that I would just as soon avoid.)
We took some time to look at the options our builder had e-mailed us for roof shingles for the barn. We selected four of them and e-mailed our choices back to him with a priority order. I also texted him to let him know I had sent the e-mail. There is some urgency to the matter as he needs to get them ordered ASAP and installed to get the building weather tight . (We were also waiting on updated cost information for the roll-up doors, but it did not arrive before I went to bed.)
Breakfast was Linda’s homemade granola with blueberries and bananas. After breakfast I put the finishing touches on the blog post covering the ferry passage and took advantage of the very fast Internet connection to upload, assemble, and publish it efficiently and quickly.
We then took further advantage of the Internet connection to Facetime with our son and his two daughters, something we had not been able to do for awhile now. They were excited to see us, and not just talk on the phone, and we were excited to see them. It seemed like they had both grown in the last 2-1/2 months, and the 3-year-old’s speech had improved noticeably over the course of the summer. They both start back to school tomorrow. The 3-year-old is returning to the Montessori program, but the 9-year-old will be back in the public school system, attending a STEAM program (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics). We are pleased that this is something she wanted to do and was able to get in.
Following our Facetime conversation, we turned our attention to problems we were having with two of the cabinets in the kitchen when we tow the trailer. Linda emptied the kitchen drawer, 2nd from the top, so I could remove and examine it to see what was causing it to come loose. I found that one of the two latches on the underside that secure the drawer box to the slides was broken. It was a subtle failure, but it was clearly the problem. I made a temporary repair by taping it in the latched position. Linda refilled the drawer and then emptied the pull-out pantry, which has been sliding out while traveling. I found two issues that seemed relevant.
First, the entire pull-out unit is supported by two drawer slides on the bottom, each secured by six screws. On the right-hand slide, all six screws were loose, allowing the unit to tip forward at the top slightly. (There’s nothing worse than having a screw loose.) There is a small snap-in latch at the bottom that seemed to be working, but not enough to hold the unit in by itself. (These same latches are used at the rear of the drawers and on cabinet doors that do not use spring loaded hinges.)
The other problem was the upper latch, which is a push-to-latch, push-to-unlatch design. Except it wasn’t latching at all. Well, that was obviously a problem. It looked like the retractable plastic latch pin was slightly chipped, but that did not seem to be the main issue. The latch pin was supposed to go up behind a little metal angle bracket at the top/front of the cabinet, but it was barely doing so, allowing the pull-out to come out with being unlatched. My temporary repair was to use a felt pad spacer between the bracket and the cabinet, because that’s all I had. We also added some felt dots to the two upper corners to cause the pull-out unit to close snug to the cabinet and have an even reveal.
I hoped these temporary repairs would work until we get home and take the trailer to the dealer, but they would not get road tested until tomorrow. With those repairs completed, I updated our “issues” list with five additional items and e-mailed it to the service coordinator (Joyce) at Woodland Airstream. Besides the drawer and the pull-out pantry, we lost a small cover for the manual crank access hole for the tongue jack, we have an AC outlet under the dinette that is not secured on one end, and a “ridge” has appeared in the kitchen floor running from side-to-side. That last one is more than a bit troubling.
Late-morning, I turned off the propane tanks removed them from the trailer to have them topped up. I walked down to the office and talked to Lucy, the campground manager (and Mike’s wife). She made a note for Mike to pick them up when he got in. By mid-afternoon he still had not gotten the tanks, and I had not seen him around the campground, so it put them back in service. I had tested the tank levels using water. The Left tank was still full and the Right tank, which was the one in use, was still at least half full, so the top up wasn’t really necessary anyway.
In the afternoon we heard a loud jet fly over and went out to find a twin-tail fighter demonstrating its capabilities for the air show. While the show was supposedly taking place at the Debert Airport, the jet made repeated passes over our campground, some of them at low altitude. It was pretty cool to watch, but scared Juniper-the-cat, who hid in the shirt closet and stayed there for quite some time even after the air show ended.
The weather today was lovely, with clear blue skies, a high temperature in the mid-70s (F), and very light winds. It was, in fact, perfect weather for using the propane grill to cook dinner; only the second time we have used it on this trip. Dinner was grilled corn-on-the-cob and the plant-based “burgers” we picked up yesterday. We had bread & butter pickles on the side and small cans of V-8 juice to drink.
We went for a walk after dinner and then settled in for the evening. As the sun sank behind the trees, the temperature sank along with it and the humidity went up, so we partially closed up the trailer. The weather forecast as of 6:45 PM had a moderate chance of rain between midnight and 6 AM, but declining percentage chances after that. I deferred hooking up the waste water hoses until tomorrow when I could get them out, hook them up, use them, and put them away as part of a single task. I put the folding camp chairs away as there was no point letting them get wet.
I worked on this post for part of the evening while Linda started a new book she had downloaded from the Howell Carnegie Library back home. In fact, as long as she had phenomenal Internet access, she downloaded several new books. She is reading about four books a week, on average.
Later in the evening I opened the bottle of Black Tower Rivaner German white wine we bought yesterday. It was sweet, a bit like a late harvest Riesling, but with different and distinctive notes. It was very much to my taste, and Linda liked it too. We might go back to Masstown Market in the morning a buy one or two more bottles.
Before it was even dark, quite a few rigs had left the RV Park and a few new ones had arrived. The Park was very quiet compared to yesterday, as most of children and grand-children had left with their adult chaperones. Our neighbor (Rodney) finally left just before 10 PM, but left his Wi-Fi system on. He didn’t do that for us, he just ever turns it off, but he reiterated that we were welcome to continue using it, which we very much appreciated.
It had been a long, but well-paced day, with some important things accomplished along with an opportunity to relax and rest.