The 2011 Trip
Part 1 Preparation

Joan and I had to do little to get the truck ready for the trip. It needed a nine pin trailer connection instead of the normal seven. The trailer has electric over hydraulic brakes that require the other pins. We also fitted the truck with two Highway tool boxes so it has lots of storage. We fitted the truck with running boards to make it easier to enter and exit.

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The truck is a 2007 we purchased from JP Chevrolet Inc., Aberdeen, Maryland on October 30th, 2009. It has done nothing but sit around waiting to go. It came with a Reese 20K 5th wheel hitch and had pulled a toy hauler twice only. A toy hauler is a trailer with a garage on the back for a motorcycle, all terrain vehicles or something along that line.

The K & J Truck Center at Middleton, Nova Scotia went over the truck with a fine tooth comb and gave it a clean bill of health. We had it delivered there when it was shipped into Nova Scotia. K & J has been doing a fine job of looking after the maintenance on my trucks for years. This is the reason my trucks last so long.

We have a 2005 custom built trailer we had Equest trailers build here at Debert, Nova Scotia. This is the trailer on the VE1BC QSL card one sees when first bringing up this web site. There is also a photo of me operating the radio station in this trailer. The trailer is so well built our seven year old granddaughter will be able to camp in it with her grandchildren providing we do not drive it off the edge of the world someplace.

The radio station in the trailer has three Ten-Tec 555 Scout transceivers that put out 50 watts each. I was going to upgrade these to more modern equipment but decided to not ruin the fun I am having with the Scouts. There is an old Radio Shack CB transceiver I use around the campgrounds. These four transceivers are using a thirty foot whip designed for fishing vessels fishing the North Atlantic. We tune the whip with an SGC SG237 Smartuner. There is also an old 2-meter rig that uses a Larsen ¼ wave whip mounted on the trailer roof. I bought the 2-meter rig at a flea market and do not know the make or model. I have a new Yaesu FT-1900R/E 2-meter rig to use in the truck or replace this one in the trailer.

We have our Toshiba lap top computer ready to transmit photographs and a description of our trip back to Robert, G4PYR, so he can place them on here. The few who will be interested should appreciate it and a big thank you Robert for suggesting this.

We plan to leave Nova Scotia in November 2010 and proceed south. Gord, VE1VCS, and Betty, VE1BTY, have a trailer in Florida and we wanted to spend a few days with them. They planned to leave the end of November but changed their plans to after Christmas so we will not get to see them. Joan has not been to Florida so we will still go so she can say she has been there and done that. We then plan to proceed over to Louisiana and visit Bob, WA5AWC, and Josie. Bob and I go way back and it has been awhile since our last visit. We put a deposit on a campsite at Gold Canyon, Arizona and hope to stay there until May 2011. From Arizona we plan to go up to Alberta and back across Canada to Nova Scotia. Apparently we Canadians are permitted to stay in the United States 182 days. This means the weather in Alberta should not be that bad at that time.

We have no idea how many trips we have made across North America. Our first trip across was from Nova Scotia to the Yukon Territory in 1963. We made that trip in a 1961 Chevrolet truck and a 1962 Shasta trailer going Canada all the way. That truck was a short wheelbase C10 one half ton with a 230 cubic inch six cylinder engine and three speed manual transmission, with the shift on the steering column. The trailer was a single axle sixteen foot typical model of the period with a propane stove, propane refrigerator, sink and a toilet. It had nice wood paneling with propane interior lights. It had one holding tank at the front for fresh water and one holding tank for dirty water at the back. Joan and I accumulated some excellent memories with that rig. The truck was one of the better vehicles of the many we have owned over the years.

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This is our first pickup and trailer on the Alaska Highway. The Canadian portion of the Alaska Highway in 1963 was a gravel trail and one needed all the protection they could get from flying gravel. That is the reason for the screen, all the pasteboard and the plastic caps over the headlights that we called Marilyn Monroe’s. One can tell a typical tourist was driving because it is parked on the wrong side of the road. Back then one could travel the highway for a few hours without seeing another vehicle. This made for a very dangerous road because one became lulled into the attitude they were the only ones on the road. Nearly all accidents were head on collisions and often someone was killed. There were several during the nearly three years we lived on the highway. Those living on the highway had to have vehicle insurance but they all went under a risk plan similar to a new teenage driver.

Our 2005 Equest trailer had been sitting on a Land of Evangeline Family Camping seasonal lot for four years. This lot is one thousand feet from the edge of the Minas Basin at North Grand Pre, Nova Scotia. One thousand feet behind the trailer was a home that had been the old North Grand Pre one room school house. I actually passed my grade two in that school when my mother was the teacher.

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This is the custom built trailer sitting on Lot T5 at the Land of Evangeline campground. The old school house was just left of the light blue roof one can just see through the little tree on the left. Ron and Lynn’s trailer is just to the right of ours on lot T6 and Glenn and Vicki have their trailer down in L section on the far left near the turkey barn. All three trailers are called 5th wheel trailers.

On Sunday, September 19th, 2010, Ron, Glenn and our son Mitchell gathered at this site and helped with the removal of the trailer from this lot. Ron’s daughter Natasha is married to Mitchell and Glenn’s daughter Jodi is married to our son Jeffrey. One could say this was a family affair.

With much grunting, groaning and a bit of cussing we managed to get the trailer off the lot. This is in the area where the Acadian French were not only expelled in 1755 but had reclaimed a lot of the land from the sea. The land is very soft. The campground John Deere farm tractor had to tow me on the lot. When we were trying to lift the back of the trailer to remove the blocks it had been sitting on, the jack kept pushing the blocks it was sitting on into the ground and was not lifting the trailer.

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We had to move the patio a few inches away from the trailer. I did this with our old blue truck while Glenn, Ron and Mitch watched. We managed to move the trailer without help from the campground tractor.

That is Anna LaCassa’s Laredo trailer next to ours on lot T4. Anna’s home made baked beans are a big hit.

With the help of two air compressors we managed to get 50 pounds of air in each tire and 70 pounds of air in each air bag. The air bags provide the suspension because the trailer has no axles or springs. It is amazing how much air remained after four years but each unit needed at least one good squirt. Maybe that should read one good puff of wind as some around there call it.

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  That is Ron on the left and Mitch on the right shortly after we managed to pull the trailer ahead of where it had sat. Shortly after this I took off with the trailer for Sambro, 115 kilometers from the campground.

Mitch drove the old blue truck with the swing set, barbeque and a few odds and ends in it. He came along several minutes behind me.

We have had the blue truck across North America three times but once only with this trailer. This trailer we found a bit heavy for that truck so purchased what is called a one ton dually. It is called that because it has dual rear wheels and is the largest of the pickups. They claim a poor man has two dogs so a stupid one should have two diesel pickups. The blue pickup is thirteen years old and because of its age it is worth nothing, but is still in like new condition. Several people have wanted to buy it but are not prepared to pay anything for it simply because of its age. Therefore we keep it.

We have Tinnitus Support Group of Atlantic Canada and White Ensign bumper stickers on the front of the trailer and the back of the old blue truck. I am on the executive of the Tinnitus Support Group that we formed in September 1998. My father, uncle and I all served in the Royal Canadian Navy under the white ensign. The white ensign disappeared on the creation of the Canadian maple leaf flag in 1965, three years before the unification of the Canadian Armed Forces in 1968.

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This is the truck and trailer sitting beside Mitch’s garage in Sambro.

We gave it a bit of interior cleaning before taking it back to Equest. We mainly unloaded a lot of accumulated granddaughter stuff. This included a lot of pretty rocks and mostly nice round ones. It is amazing what one spoiled seven year old can accumulate.

Equest built the trailer and agreed to give it a complete check and make sure everything is tickety boo for a long run. Tickety boo is two notches above perfect. The trailer is very well built and there is nothing wrong with it but we feel it wise to give it a good check.

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This is Ron sitting at the T5 picnic table enjoying a cigar. The picnic table is now sitting on our patio and will probably remain that way until we get back next summer. Actually Ron is probably contemplating the many spider dogs created during the past camping season. The kids will tell you Grand Dad makes the best spider dogs in the world. Ron makes two slits in each end of a hot dog ninety degrees to each other. The eight small sections curl when cooked over a campfire making the legs of a spider dog.

Bob and I had spent twenty years of our lives operating Halifax Coast Guard Radio VCS located at Ketch Harbour, Nova Scotia. His wife Flo and my wife Joan are nurses who had worked together over the years. Flo was home visiting family and Joan was working so Bob came along with me when I took the trailer back to Equest in Debert on October 12th, 2010. This was a beautiful fall sunny day. The thermometer inside the trailer registered 5C when I picked it up before sunrise. A good indication winter was on the way. The leaves were in full colour but for some reason we did not see any real beautiful trees. When the leaves are like that one will often come around a corner in the road and a patch of colour will be so beautiful it will nearly suck the wind out of one. Debert is 88 miles or 140 kilometers from Sambro. We rolled right along in heavy traffic. Bob did not scream at any point so I must have been driving okay. Joan claims Bob is too polite to scream. We simply dropped the trailer and came home.

On October 15th, 2010 we activated the On Star Navigation system that came in the truck. It gives one peace of mind but we hope we never have to use most of it. Two things are for certain. We are now too old to die young and we will never live long enough to understand all the bells and whistles that came with this truck. It has everything that one could get in 2007. At least On Star will inform the nearest police the location of the truck if someone is stupid enough to try and steal it.

Bob and I met again on Thursday, October 21st, 2010 for breakfast. We went up to Debert and picked up the trailer right after that. It was an overcast day with rain forecasted. Everything was in fine shape except the nine pin plug on the truck was not working as it should. We took the truck and trailer to Elm River Campground in Glenholm and had Neil go over it. He had changed the seven pin that came on the truck to the nine pin. Everything worked on the trailer except the right signal light. Bob and I brought the trailer back to Sambro and I advised K & J in Middleton that we had that problem and that the trailer should be lowered an inch or so to make it level while towed with this truck. The Trailer Life magazine is full of tips on how to repair and maintain these units. Very few make a trip where everything is working as designed. At times one wonders if anyone has ever made a trip when everything worked as designed. We find that the ones who seem to enjoy these vehicles the most are the ones that are forever working on them.

Our custom built Equest trailer was the 198th trailer built by Equest and it is still one of only three they have built without a horse stall. This is the reason it is so rugged and well built. Bernice and Winston own one of them. They own and operate the Elm River Campground. They are Neil’s father and mother and it was their trailer that led us to Equest. One can see the Equest trailers at www.equesttrailers.com. We more or less copied the layout of the 5th wheel trailer we owned for fourteen years before this one and had it built around my amateur radio station. Our Equest was built from home hardware outlets. It has standard household fixtures unless a standard household fixture was not available.

When one registers a trailer in several Canadian provinces and territories it is a one time deal. One gets a license plate for a few dollars that is good for as long as one owns the trailer. Not in Nova Scotia. One has to have a safety inspection and register a trailer each and every year. The yearly plate expires at the end of December but if one registers the trailer after November 1st the plate is good until the end of the following December. In 2010 we moved the trailer on a one time only permit for $11.86 each time. On November 1st, 2010 we registered the trailer for $150.91 for the 2011 year. We contacted the various authorities in 2005 when we took delivery of this trailer. At that time we could have saved $3,234.97 per annum by registering and insuring the truck and trailer in the Yukon Territory instead of Nova Scotia. Canada would be so much better with federal and municipal government only. These provinces and territories are simply cesspools of greed, discrimination and stupidity. The more we wander around Canada the more we are convinced of this.

On November 1st, 2010, we were the first in the motor vehicle office and once we had the address changed on the trucks, trailer, new driver’s licenses and the trailer license plate we went to Sambro and picked up the trailer. Joan had worked a 12-hour night shift and I dropped her off at home after the motor vehicle office. Everything is in both our names so I had to have her in order to make the above changes. I then took the trailer to K & J in Middleton alone. It is 180 kilometers from Sambro to Middleton. I left Sambro at 1003 local time and I pulled into the K & J yard at 1206 local time. My arithmetic tells me that was close to an average of 90 kilometers per hour. Well, a good portion of the road is four lanes with a 110 kilometer per hour limit and I kept up with the traffic. The weather was the miserable part of the trip. It was mist and then rain, more mist, sunshine; the weather really did not know what it wanted to do. The temperature ranged from 35F to 46F according to the thermometer in the truck. K & J had the old blue truck cleaning it up for winter. I traded the truck and trailer for the old blue truck and came home. The old blue truck landed home quite dirty from all the road spray. There was a lot of traffic as usual.

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The Executive of the Tinnitus Support Group of Atlantic Canada had a very nice going away dinner for Joan and me on November 7th. This is a photo of that dinner and going clockwise from the front around the group is Sue, Dave, Mark, Paul, Paulette, Betty, Joan, me, Shirley and Marion. Mark is the audiologist of the group and founded the group in September, 1998. I have been on the executive since it was formed. Mark has put a lot of work into this group and is definitely the foremost expert on tinnitus in this area. I have had tinnitus since August, 1981, probably from way too much radio operating. At least the radio operating certainly helped create the continual racket in my head. This group is a great bunch, hard to leave, but nice to look forward to coming back to.

The truck and trailer needed washing and waxing in the worst way possible and I mentioned this to K & J when I took the truck down to them. One is not allowed to wash them at the campground and there is no way to do it here at the apartment. Mitch has lots of water but it is near impossible to get the truck and trailer in to it.

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K & J said they would look after it but I did not realize it would be this well looked after. This is Joan, the J in K & J washing and waxing the trailer roof and one can see the tool box on the truck down in the right hand corner. She did a beautiful job and spent a full weekend at it. Kevin, the K in K & J said he hated to bring the rig out Monday morning November 8th but they needed the room in the building.

No one has seen rain in this area like this. All the ponds, lakes, rivers, swamp and what have you have over flowed their banks. The local news media stated that over two dozen roads in Nova Scotia have turned into rivers. Of all the flooding I saw I was unable to photograph. There was too much traffic to stop on the firm paved road and I felt the gravel shoulder would not be safe. I felt I would have a heavy towing bill or probably still be stuck if I tried to stop and take a photograph for this exercise.

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This is the truck and trailer outside the K & J building Monday morning November 8th. Note all the water lying around and the fact it is still raining. It had been a steady mist for days and once in awhile it would break out in a heavy rain. Joan and I arrived at K & J at noon with the old blue truck. We paid the bill and transferred all the things we had in the old blue truck to transfer. Kevin put some fresh water in the trailer tank just before I left K & J and I dumped in eight liters of vinegar. They used to purify a water tank with water and javex. Now they do it with vinegar and water. It is probably safer with the vinegar. Joan and I took both vehicles to The Big Scoop restaurant just east of the town of Middleton. After a nice dinner we again took off. Joan headed west for a visit with her family in Weymouth and I headed east for a visit with my family in Cambridge.

Cambridge is 38 kilometers east of Middleton. Ken is the youngest of us three boys. He has created a good business, probably several businesses, from hard work over the years and with the luck of having good help around him. Roscoe Construction is the main business but he now has built eight apartment buildings containing a total of fifty apartments. He has quite a waiting list of those who want to rent and his tenants seem to think the world of him. He has a two stall campground for his tenants and this is just one of several things he has created for his tenants. I believe the apartments are a separate business called Camro Place; Cam as in Cambridge and ro as in Roscoe.

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This is the truck and trailer in Ken’s mini-campground. As you can see it is still raining. I phoned our Aunt Jessie via the On Star system as I was coming up from Middleton to let her know I would soon be there. She is one of Ken’s tenants. When I arrived she climbed in the truck with me and we went out around Woodville, Grafton and back to Cambridge. No doubt the vinegar and water solution had sloshed around well enough but this just gave it added sloshing. The road is paved but a bit bumpy and more crooked than the main road. We had to cross the Cornwallis River twice and it was flooded and was it flooded. When we arrived back I backed the trailer into the mini-campground. The scuff mark in the gravel alongside the truck is where I first tried to back in. I had a little chat with the stupid helmsman and told him to get out in the lane and do it right. The trailer went in with no problem on the second try. I was concerned with leaving marks on Ken’s lawn and I wanted to make sure the truck was off the lane far enough for his tenants to get in and out past the truck. You can probably tell the truck is on a bit of an angle and that is the reason. That is Ken’s house in the background and it is in behind his apartment buildings.

Once I had the truck backed in I walked over to Aunt Jessie’s with her for a cup of tea and two slices of her home made lemon loaf. I was not there long when Ken phoned to say he was home. Then I went back, finished hooking up the trailer, and flushed out the pipes and hot water tank. I then hooked up to his water and had the trailer ready for the night. I went in and visited with Ken and Elaine. Aunt Jessie came over and the four of us had an excellent supper. Ken and Elaine then showed us the many photographs they had taken on their cross North America trip this past summer in their Mercedes powered Roadtrek motor home. This was a very enjoyable evening.

Everyone wanted me to spend the night with them but I wanted to spend it in the trailer in case I could think of something we overlooked. When I went to the trailer for the night I expected it to be a bit damp. It was not damp at all and I put the furnace on and had it at 70F degrees in no time. The bed was good and dry and I slept like a baby. When I got up I had breakfast and a nice hot shower. Ken’s water is beautiful from three drilled wells. After all that I went around and got the trailer ready for the road. Ken came home from his office just as I finished so we went in and visited a bit more. Ken went back to work and I left at 0931.

It was a steady spray of water from both sides of the truck and trailer all the way to Sambro. The windshield wipers were on high most of the way and I arrived back in Mitch’s yard at 1107. I soon had the trailer blocked, disconnected, and the electricity plugged in. I then went to my favourite diesel distributor with the gauge on empty. I expected the truck to start screaming low fuel but it did nothing with the fuel gauge on the red empty line.  One must have to lower the fuel gauge farther or the truck does not get excited about low fuel. With all the bells and whistle on this truck it is hard to believe it does not let one know when it is time to start looking for a friendly diesel pump.

This now means that all that is left is to get everything in storage and get on the road south.

    Part 2 the Departure    On November we were loaded and headed out…..    
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