All the way to London

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I’ve got to backtrack a little because I zipped off that quickie post this afternoon, thinking I wasn’t going to be able to get online while we were in Canada.  But as it turns out, Can-Am RV has good wifi in the parking lot, in addition to 30-amp power for our Airstreams.  I’ve got plenty of bandwidth to update you on the gaps in our past two days.

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The fireworks at the State Fair were really good, with enough of the expected color and kaboom  to keep us all wide awake and entertained until sometime past 10:30 p.m.  It wasn’t perhaps the best move to stay up past midnight when we had a long day on the road ahead, but somehow I managed to survive the I-94 route, which I had been dreading, and even all the tollbooths.  We dropped about $25 into the various state road coffers along the way.  Tolls are usually based on axles, and we’ve got four of them, while Brett in his motorhome got off easy paying only the two-axle tolls.

The goal for the day was to make Grand Rapids by dinnertime, because that’s where Ken and Petey live.  They supplied us with a great courtesy parking spot, and dinner, and 15-amp electricity, which puts their courtesy parking way up there on our scale.  But fair warning to those who offer good courtesy parking:  We tend to show up again and again.

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Our overnight stay with Ken and Petey was half business.  Ken has a private restoration shop for his collection of historic trailers, and he has graciously agreed to take our 1968 Caravel in and complete it, as a favor.  The Caravel was already in the shop when we arrived.  We spent the morning going over the various things it needs to be complete.  I can see that it is in great hands.  With luck, and sustenance of my meager budget, it may be ready to camp by this fall, although polishing and upholstery details may still lie ahead.

While were parked at the shop, one of Ken’s shop guys crawled under the trailer and bolted our fresh water tank strap back in place.  That was a relatively easy one, but of course much easier when somebody else is lying on the ground doing the dirty work.  We filled the fresh water tank back up and it is holding just fine.

From Grand Rapids we had a nice easy drive east all the way to the border and 70 miles beyond to London Ontario.  Even the border was easy.  (We’ll probably have a much tougher time  getting back in the USA.)  It’s nice when there are no disasters to talk about.

We planned our fuel so that we won’t have to buy any in Canada.  Sorry, Canadian tax authorities, but at $0.82 per liter (diesel), or $0.93 per liter (gas), we’ll try to skip the Ontario fuel.  We stopped at a BP with a truck stop about 30 miles before the border and had one of those amusing moments that occur when you tow with a non-standard vehicle.  I left the engine running while I hopped out to check to see if the pump was high-speed or normal (auto) type.  A guy at the next pump yelled over, “That’s not a diesel!” meaning our GL320.  He was driving a Dodge 3500 diesel with duallies, towing a 5th wheel, which towered over him and the fuel pumps.  “Yes, it is,” I said, and he gaped at the car for a moment, not sure what to say.  I could see him eyeballing the relative bulk of the Airstream.  He also appeared a bit confused because he couldn’t hear the engine running, and everybody knows that diesels are noisy, right?

So we had a pleasant, but slightly strained, conversation about V-6 turbodiesels.  I don’t think he believed a word I said about their fuel economy, reliability, or exhaust, much less their towing capacity. People typically see the size of the GL320 and assume based on the appearance that it simply can’t tow.  Judging a tow vehicle on the basis of apparent physical size is a mistake, whether large or small.  (The GL320 also has very large 20″ wheels, which trick the eye and make the vehicle appear smaller than it is.)

I expect to get a lot of that, because I always got comments at gas stations about the Nissan Armada.  The most common comments are: “Can that little truck tow that big trailer?”  (to which I am always tempted to respond, “No, I pulled it in myself — the truck is just for show.”) and “You’re sure a long way from home!”  The funny thing was that when we were full-timing the Airstream was our home, so really we were only a few feet from home during these conversations, and in fact Emma was usually at home, using the bathroom or getting a snack. Questions from interested people never bother me, even when it is clear they think I am a lunatic.  There’s always a new perspective to be gained.

Our visit to London (Ontario) is to sell an ad, but also we’re going to get some minor service items dealt with.  Nothing major.  I’ll also have them look at the hitch, just to make sure all is well there.  Can-Am is a hitching specialist, and Andy Thomson offered useful advice on our hitch situation when we were in the throes of crisis back in Tucson.  We’ll spend two nights here in the very fine Ontario summer weather, and then continue east.

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Editor & Publisher of Airstream Life magazine