All Over the Lower Mainland

Today, I had to go into Surrey to pick up an order of CDs of Full-Time RVing in Canada. I have to do a shout out to Precision Disc. Their quote was several hundred dollars less than the competition and they were the only ones who could squeeze my order into their standard time frame rather than putting it through as a rush. They also printed some posters for me with no notice whatsoever. And their site is so comprehensive that the order process was painless. Great folks all around and really took a load off my mind.

I then had a bunch of stuff to get at Staples, so being in the Willowbrook area, which is very commercial, I figured that would be easy. Well, that Staples is on my black list. I’ve noticed that about one third of Staples are like this one, where the staff literally runs away when you try to get their attention. I was exhausted by this point and had no patience left to deal with idiots, so I left and drove to the one in Delta. It was a big detour but worth it since that store gave me a quantity discount on my CD sleeves.

I got in around five and started to put together my show materials, then remembered that the laptop is dead from several hours of graphic designing this morning. So, I packed up again and schlepped over to the nearest Starbucks, which is where I am now. I’m going to stretch my drink out as long as I can, but I know I won’t have a full charge tonight. That’s okay, I have 500 CDs to insert into sleeves!

The house batteries are doing great! I’m still at 12.5 volts, which is pretty much a full charge. It helps that we had full sun today, so I probably got back a couple of amp hours. I really should do some math on that solar panel and see what it really gives me. 😀

Coquitlam to Chilliwack

Ready to Go, Unable to Leave

Miranda’s inisde was prepped and ready to go by 10:30 Friday night, but it took almost 2 hours for me to wind down enough to go to bed. I awoke around 5, my brain racing with everything I needed to do, but I was too exhausted to get up. I dozed and dragged myself out of bed around 7:30.

The day was brutal, but kind at the same time. For all I was inconvenienced, I was doubly convenienced. It wasn’t a great day, but, sum told, it was more exhausting than bad.

Finishing up exterior preparations didn’t take long. I could have pulled out at 8:30, but since I was waiting for Rack Attack to open at ten, I took my time.

When ten finally rolled around, I called the store in Vancouver and explained the situation to them. They were apologetic, claiming it was their fault that the clerk forgot that I needed a ‘stretch kit’, something that Thule doesn’t spell out but he ‘should have known.’ Yeah, blame the poor kid instead of the idiot manufacturers! He made arrangements with the store in Coquitlam for me, but warned me that I might have to wait several hours because I would need to be squeezed through between appointments. That was fine, I decided that I would simply drop off the car and go do with Miranda what needed to be done to Miranda.

I thought that I would never get out of Pacific Border! Miranda’s battery simply would not charge enough to get her started and I finally had to boost her. She still had her original 1997 battery, so, with a sigh, I added a stop at Canadian Tire for a new battery to my list of things to do. The sigh was more about the added stop than expenditure.

First stop was gas and propane. I really needed gas and fretted that I would be unable to start Miranda again after fueling up. I was right. Instead of acting like my independent self and unhooking the toad to give myself a boost, I asked for help, which I received grudgingly. So, propane was out of the question; there was no way I was turning off Miranda again until I had to!

Gas was cheap when compared to last fall. I filled Miranda up for under two hundred dollars. It once cost me over two hundred fifty to fill her.

The drive to Coquitlam was uphill and, thus, SLOW. Miranda made her awful grinding, but perfectly normal, engine noise all the way and I had to keep reminding myself that I could relax, that noise is a Good Thing!

Rack Attack

Getting to Rack Attack was quite a sport; there was some sort of police auction going on and both sides of the road were packed with cars. I just managed to pull into their lot and practically had to drive into a dumpster to get the rig straight enough to unhook.

The clerk told me that it would take about three hours to get me set up. That was fine, I suspected that the Miranda stuff would take at least as long. I asked him if, at the end of the day, he would be able to help me get the kayak on the roof and fully installed. He said yes, but that he would have to charge me the installation fee. Fine. At this point, I was already going to pay another 200$, less a 20% inconvenience discount, to get this kayak transported, so I chose convenience.

Mr. Lube

It took a bit of manoeuvring to back Miranda out of their lot, but I was soon off to the nearest Mr. Lube, about six or seven kilometres from Rack Attack. I knew the Mr. Lube on Fraser Highway in Langley could accommodate motorhomes, but didn’t want to assume anything so I’d called ahead to confirm with this one that they could take me.

I was apprehensive when I arrived because the entrance was tight, but they were waiting for me and had already figured out how they were going to get me in and out of the bay. It was such a lovely greeting, with a ‘welcome, ma’am, we’ve been expecting you!’ and then the giving of a newspaper and the offer of coffee and water (both gratefully accepted). I love these oil change places; they really know what customer service means, they are convenient, and, yet, their prices are quite competitive.

They were forthright and professional with me the whole hour and a bit I was there, telling me that a ‘basic’ oil change would be just fine instead of trying to upsell me to a fancy package, but informing me sadly that I badly needed a new battery and a rear differential oil change. I knew about the former and been forewarned about the latter, so I wasn’t as surprised as they expected me to be.

I was there, they had the parts, and they were willing to do the labour, so I just had everything done right then and there. A battery, installed, was 165$, which, really, isn’t that much worse than buying one at Canadian Tire and getting it installed. Sometimes, money is less important than is the energy that would have otherwise needed to be expended. The bill wasn’t pretty, but was right on par with what I’d been told her first tune up ‘should’ cost, so I didn’t fall out of my chair. It was pretty funny to be sitting in a garage in my house! The mechanics jokingly said that I was pretty rude, not inviting them in for tea!

Kal Tire

Next stop was Kal Tire, just across the road from Rack Attack. They had told me it would cost 12$ per tire to get the pressure checked and topped up, which I knew was exorbitant, but I wasn’t sure how to do it myself, so I figured that I would watch and learn, then do it myself next time. Yes, I admit it: I’ve thus far relied on other people to make sure that my tires are properly inflated. One learning curve at a time… 🙂

I rolled in there just past two and the gal at the counter told me that they had just accepted their last vehicle for the day. My face must have fallen, so she went around back to speak to the tech. He agreed to take me in even though his shift was over. Have I mentioned recently how much I love Kal Tire???

At any rate, even though Miranda had been sitting for four months, only two of her rear tires, so two out of six, were really low; the others were in the range of ‘fine.’ The tech explained to me what part to get to make the inner tires accessible so that I can check my own pressure next time.

On the radio these days, there is an ad for Goodyear tires and Fountain Tire stores in which a guy proudly proclaims that he is on his ‘cross-country Fountain Tire RV tour.’ So, I joked that I was on my ‘cross-country Kal Tire RV tour’, explaining that I’d been to the ones in Brandon and Regina. The laugh I got told me that he understood the joke.

It took about fifteen minutes for him to check and top up everything and then he wished me a good day. So much for getting a bill! Thank you, Kal Tire, you guys are GREAT!

Departure at Last!

The Rack Attack clerk had said he would call me when he was done, but I hadn’t heard yet from him. I decided to head back there and chill out until the car was ready. In one of those movie-perfect bits of timing, I pulled into Rack Attack just as the work was completed. Thankfully, the police auction was wrapping up and I was able to park Miranda on the street, with plenty of place behind her to line up the car for easy hooking up. The tech helped me get the boat out of the house and safely onto the car.

Ready to go, at last!

Ready to go, at last!

What awesome service I got today; a solid three for three. I was tired and cranky, but this really made the day pass by much more nicely than it could have. It was also easier to get the oil change and tire work done without the car hooked up because a lot of backwards manoeuvring was required. So, I would have have to dump the car somewhere anyway.

It was well past three when I pulled out of Rack Attack, so I decided to shoot for the Walmart in Chilliwack. You might remember that this was the first place I stopped in January when I came over from Oliver!

heading EAST on the Transcanada towards Chilliwack

heading EAST on the Transcanada towards Chilliwack

heading EAST on the Transcanada towards Chilliwack

heading EAST on the Transcanada towards Chilliwack

Chilliwack

My first order of business was propane. This was my first time fully filling Miranda’s tank, so I was unprepared for the bill. Thirty-seven dollars and change. Really?!

I could see RVs parked in the parking lot of not only the Walmart, but also the mall across Luckakuck street, so I tucked myself in out of the way without asking for anyone’s permission. It was just shy of five and I hadn’t had any real food all day, so when I saw an Earl’s restaurant across the street, I decided that a dinner out was in order. This decision was mostly fueled by the fact that Earl’s makes the best mojito I have ever enjoyed and I really, really, really wanted a drink. 🙂

After dinner, I bought some stuff for breakfast and lunch tomorrow, then came home and started to write this post. At some point, I decided to go see a movie if there was a theatre close by. I don’t do that often, go to a movie when I stop somewhere. In fact, I think the only other time I did it was in Brandon! But I felt the rig was safe and that no one would steal the kayak off my car, so I asked Majel if there was a cinema within walking distance, and there was, just a half kilometre away! Majel often has the phone numbers of the locations she brings up (!) so I as able to use the cell to call the theatre to find out what’s playing.

The choices were pathetic–two teeny-bopper comedies, an adult comedy, and… oh, what’s this? A superhero origin story? I knew nothing about X-Men, but love superhero origin stories, so I decided to give ‘Wolverine’ a try. I enjoyed it very much, enough to make me want to seek out the X-Men movies so that I can better understand what I just saw. I can also say that any American movie that opens in Canada, has both its protagonist and antagonist be Canadians, and has the bulk of its story happen in Canada earns a plus in my book. 🙂

So, it’s now 9:30 and raining gently. I put a garbage bag over the seat of the kayak and hope it stays in place. Otherwise, I’m very relaxed and relishing the irony that I’ll have more privacy tonight than I’ve had in months. I don’t miss having neighbours. I just hope I can get used to the noise!

Aha, wrote too soon! Another rig just pulled up beside me. I actually prefer it that way in the sense that there is safety in numbers and I feel more legitimate when I’m not alone.

Chilliwack is set in one of the prettiest surroundings I’ve seen since Cochrane Alberta!

Walmart with a view!

Walmart with a view!

Walmart with a view!

Walmart with a view!

Walmart with a view!

Walmart with a view!

The Kindness of Strangers

Well, I’m packed and just about ready to go (not yet hooked up), and waiting for Rack Attack to open at 10. I thought of just heading out and calling them en route, but there’s a courtesy phone here at the park, so it will be a lot easier to make calls.

*sidebar*

I need to fix that melted fresh water intake ASAP seeing as I have no other way of filling my fresh water tank. Oops. Oh, well, that should be a relatively easy evening at Walmart kind of project.

I also need a new sewer hose. Mine decided to spring a leak this morning; thankfully after I finished dumping the black tank and had quite a bit of grey water already going through! It’s just a pinhole, but this still qualifies as an emergency. 🙂

*/sidebar*

My neighbour saw me struggling to get the bike in the trunk, so he helped me with that and then we turned our attention to the kayak. It is now in the rig. The stern is in the cab and the bow is just nosing into the dressing room. It’s going to be so much fun getting it back out. *rolls eyes*

I am going to start off by calling Rack Attack in Vancouver, where I bought my kit on Monday, and ask them to make arrangements for me with their store in Coquitlam. If that works out fine, then the detour won’t be tooooo bad since there is both a Kal Tire (need to have the tire pressure checked) and a Mr. Lube near the Rack Attack store.

Today will be a success if I make it as far as Chilliwack and Hope would be a triumph. What disappoints me is that today is a beautiful day, perfect for hiking, and I had a short hike planned for just after Hope. That’s most likely going to happen tomorrow… when several days of rain are going to start. 🙁

I’m loving the new laptop! It was no hardship to put away the iMac last night, so much so that I forgot to synch my contacts and calendar! Thankfully, I don’t have anything going on in the next few days, so I can do without my calendar for a bit. 🙂

A Chance For One Last Hike

Well, I will have no excuse for not staying in touch on the road! I just brought home ‘Kevin’, a 1.5Ghz, 12″, aluminum casing Powerbook G4. I did a lot of research and spoke with a lot of people, enough to feel confident that I got a good machine at a fair price. It’ll be nice to be able to watch DVDs on it; the battery has plenty of juice to watch at least one movie.

The seller lives in North Vancouver and I decided to just go meet up with him there instead of trying to find a mutually convenient time to meet ‘halfway.’ The meet up point, a Starbucks, was just a few kilometres from Lynn Canyon (which explains why I didn’t mind driving the 100 or so klicks round trip *g*), so I packed up my hiking boots this morning! We met at six, spent about a half hour going over the machine (which helped inspire confidence in the seller), and I was on the trail by six forty! The gates to the park close at 7PM, so I parked a few blocks away on a city street in order to not be rushed.

I couldn’t believe I was there, under those magnificent towering redwoods on a glorious Tuesday evening! If I could with me only one visual memory of Vancouver, it would be of the view from the Twin Falls bridge, of all that turquoise water smashing down on the rocks below. My boots were very comfortable, albeit stiff, and I savoured every second of my hike. I even stopped mid-span on the suspension bridge and looked down. How far I’ve come since Eagle Canyon!

Four months in the Greater Vancouver Region has been perfect–just long enough to fall in love with the area and savour its treasures, but not so long as to grow jaded. How marvelous it was yesterday and today to use the GPS as I did in Ottawa to only to fine tune my drive to a specific address while knowing exactly what route to take to get to the general area. I’m ready to go, but sad at the same time, feeling much the way I did last September. In fact, after so many months of hardly driving at all, I feel like I’m starting fresh, like a complete novice again!

Of Hiking Gear and Roof Racks

First stop today was Mountain Equipment Co-Op. I have mixed feelings about my shopping experience there, my first at MEC. On the one hand, they had everything I needed but on the other, service was abominable. I’d suggest to novice gear hunters that they call ahead and ask if it’s possible to request a personal shopper.

I started off with boots. I’d done a bit of research before hand and knew that I needed their backpacking boots. I only buy Italian ‘full grain’ leather hiking boots, so that narrowed the choice down even further. Perhaps I sounded too sure of what I wanted, but the clerk just dumped three pairs of boots in front of me and never spoke to me again. Thankfully, this wasn’t my first time buying hiking boots and I knew what sort of fit I needed, so I’m fairly confident I made the right choice. Hiking boots are probably the only thing for which I never consider price. You can be soaking wet and cold out on the trail, but if your feet are comfy, life is good. Also, good boots will last you a long time. My last pair lasted through eleven years of real use, including a month of backpacking around Scotland in 1998.

Next up were socks. I couldn’t believe that the exact same socks and liners I’d bought for Scotland expedition were still available!!! I loved that combo and have, in fact, only just recently worn through my last pair! I had no qualms dropping sixty dollars total for two sets!

Then, I moved on to clothes. I walked around the ladies department for at least a half hour looking through everything and waiting for a clerk to show up in this section. Just as I was about to just walk out without anything, a clerk walked right by me and I must have given enough of a sigh or a LOOK for her to spin around and notice me. She guided me through my clothing options and was helpful enough, but soon as I was ready to examine my options on my own, she left and didn’t come back to see if I had any further questions.

It’s really hot out today, so much so that I left home in capris, sandals, and a short-sleeved top for the first time this season. So, let me just say that it was very uncomfortable in the changing room wearing the following:

-cotton underpants and bra;

-polyester longjohns and undershirt;

-hiking pants and lightweight top;

-fleece jacket;

-wind/rainproof Gortex-style pants and shell

*laughs* I didn’t need to buy all these layers, of course, but I wanted to try them all on to make sure that the shell layer, which I was buying, would fit.

I left MEC much, much poorer than I’d entered, but I was long overdue to renew my hiking gear, so much so that I’ve actually passed up on some hiking trips due to lack of appropriate equipment. Now, I’m all set to do the West Coast trail whenever I get to Vancouver Island, or to try any number of other trails I’ll pass on my way north. In fact, I have to try a few trails so I can break in those boots!

I’ll pause here to mention that MEC has a (pay) parking lot accessible from an alley behind the store. This lot is the equivalent of two stories above street level. The view from up there was stunning; I was surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Vancouver’s beauty never ceases to astound me.

Next stop was Rack Attack, just a few blocks from MEC. Their site boasts that they carry every Thule product in stock, so it seemed like the place to go to get geared up to carry the bike and kayak. My experience there was great! Service was excellent, with the clerk being very knowledgeable. I just about passed out when I got the total bill for the roof bars (400XT Aero Foot), the kayak rack, and the bike rack, though! The bike rack cost was exorbitant and I decided to pass on it for the time being. I’ll just stuff the bike in the trunk for now. The kayak rack, though was reasonably priced.

Being a DIY kind of gal, I passed on installation.

I wish I hadn’t.

First, the Swedes have got to start hiring proper translators!!!

Second, this rack was supposed to take 15-30 minutes to install. 3 hours later, I’m not even close.

I am not impressed with Thule products. Some parts seem very shoddy and flimsy; I kept thinking I was going to break something! Moreover, I bought a fitting kit made specifically for my car that specifies the bar span between the two mounts. The dimension is incorrect. If they can’t get that right, what can I trust? Lesson learned: just because a brand is the most popular doesn’t mean it’s the best, just that nobody’s invented anything better yet. I feel like I got scammed. 🙁 Hopefully, I can figure the stupid thing out before Saturday morning. I’m almost afraid to think of what the kayak rack is going to be like…

The race to departure is on. Four days left!