Summer 2015 RV trip: week 1

Q: What should one do after gutting an 1880’s townhouse?
A: Get in an RV and drive to Canada.

That’s pretty much our summer plan. And with a little bit of luck, we’ll come back to a new wood floor and kitchen cabinets. (Fingers crossed.)

A couple weeks earlier, Amy had shrewdly negotiated a temporary RV storage spot only a couple blocks away from our house. It was the perfect staging area to get our rig ready for the road:

…which was no small feat: This year’s trip had the complexities of both leaving for vacation AND prepping our downstairs for construction while we’re away. We were three hours past our intended departure time, but wheels were finally rolling by early Saturday evening. I was reminded how, like a spaceship breaking free of Earth’s gravity, the first mile of any RV trip is always the hardest.

Amy took the first shift:

And now for a harrowing story about carelessness and waste tanks…

We stopped at a truck stop a mere 45 minutes into our travels to fill our fresh water tank. In a complete lapse of competence, I mistakenly hooked up the water supply to the waste tank and in doing so, unwittingly filled my waste tank with an untold amount of water and pressure.

Upon realizing my mistake, I attempted to release some of the pressure by opening the toilet flush valve in the bathroom. For this I was rewarded with a loud pop of air and a face full of brown water (yes, ew). With no other options, I raced outside, hooked up my sewer hose, and in the severest breach of RV etiquette (and surely local ordinances), I unleashed the contents of my waste tank into a nearby storm drain, a la “Cousin Eddie.”

I’m sure had the pressure built up enough to come up through the bathroom, it would have made for a great story one day, but I’m happy to settle for “catastrophe averted.”

With that li’l snafu out of the way, I see nothing but smooth sailing ahead for the duration of our trip. (Your move, Fate.)

Here we are settled down Saturday night at the Walmart in Defiance, OH:

Only our second day into the trip and already leaving the country. Exciting!

A glimpse of Detroit from the bridge to Canada. Not as bad as I expected:

Rather than using normal camping spots, we are trying something new this trip: boondocking in strangers’ driveways courtesy of (Think Airbnb, but for RVs. And free.) Here we are camped at our first spot on our host’s farm in Oakville, Ontario:

We ventured out in the Jeep to stock up on groceries, a strangely exciting outing (foreign grocery stores are fun!):

The first of many hard rains so far:

It cleared up that evening, and we enjoyed some wine and conversation with our host, Ross:

The next morning, a gift of an apple and a carrot sealed Natalie’s and Emily’s friendship with the resident horse:

That afternoon, Carrie, Nat and I killed some time at a nearby library in Toronto:

Amy and Emily, however, took in some plane spotting at Toronto Pearson International Airport. They found a great spot: a parking lot right at the end of the runway.

Carrie, Nat and I joined them in time to catch an Airbus A380 fly right over us:

We were boondocking guests once again on Monday evening, this time in our host Linda’s yard in Kemptville, Ontario:

Our boondocking site was located next to a campground where a fellow RVing family was staying that we met last year. It was great catching up with them and eating their marshmallows:

The next morning, our host Linda gave us some excellent suggestions for getting around our next destination: downtown Ottawa.

Here we are camped in our third boondocking site, courtesy of Andrew and Lisa in Ottowa, Ontario:

Our hosts generously invited us to help ourselves to their vegetable garden, making Amy quite literally a happy camper:

Wednesday July 1 was Canada Day, and all museums and public transportation were free. We wanted to explore the festivities of downtown Ottawa but didn’t want to fight the traffic — not even in the Jeep. (Canada Day in the nation’s capital of Ottawa is much like Fourth of July in Washington DC.)

We started with the Canadian History Museum, which was a bit underwhelming due to the crowds and the amount of energy it took to get there:

Outside was more interesting, seeing the Canadian Parliament building across the river in Quebec:

We walked across the bridge to Quebec and stopped at the Royal Canadian Mint for a tour:

This was also a bit of a let-down. It rained on us hard while we waited in line (not fun), and it turns out the Canadians mint their coins darn near exactly how the US does (which we saw in Philly), so it was really nothing new. The one notable exception was getting to hold a solid 24k gold bar worth about $500,000. It was shockingly heavy:

After the mint, we strolled through the nearby ByWard Market, one of Canada’s oldest public markets.

The rain could not suppress the Canadian pride on display all around us. It was also fun to hear more French than English.

We were all very tired after a long day, but Emily really wanted to see some fireworks, it being Canada Day and all. So last minute, we hopped in the Jeep and found a tallish parking garage at a nearby college. From there, we watched the fireworks off in the distance near where we had been earlier in the day. The view wasn’t fantastic, but being far away from the crowds sure was:

Thursday was a beautiful day (finally!) so we ventured back into Ottawa for a couple hours. I’ll include those details in the next post, however. We need to hit the road (heading toward Montreal), and I want to get this posted since I’m not sure when we’ll have internet again.

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