Toronto RV Show and Extraveganza

February 12, 2010

We went to the RV Show.  It was good.

There was a giant robot that (apparently) talked.  It was so loud it was overpowering its own sound system, so we couldn’t understand a word it was saying.  It was more annoying than anything else.

The trailers were cool.  There were a few new features, but they were largely similar to last years models.  It’s always fun to check out the fancy RVs, particularly the ones that could be potential upgrades if we ever get sick of our pop-up.

Long story short, we had a good time.  Liam got tired after a couple of hours and had a tantrum, which signalled the end of our time at the show.  Oh well, another year perhaps.

But now the real news.  Sigh, this feels like a break up.  I think the Cottage On Wheels has run its course for now.  I just don’t have the enthusiasm to write about trailers and camping through the winter.  It feels too much like work.

I’ll pick this back up when we actually start roaming around again, but until then, I have a new project…one that I think some of you may follow me to.

It’s called My Inner Foodzilla.  It’s a blog about health and weight loss.  Something I’m much more interested in at the moment.

If I’m not interested in what I’m writing about, you won’t be interested in reading it.  So I’m going to write about something I’m interested in, and hopefully it will interest you too.  We’ll come back to the Cottage On Wheels when there’s something fun to talk about 😉


It’s Time For The Toronto RV Show and Extravaganza!!!!!

January 20, 2010

This is a big, big week for RV enthusiasts in southern Ontario.  The Toronto RV Show and Extravaganza is being held at the Toronto Congress Centre from January 21 to 24th.  It’s my favourite January event.

It’s Ontario’s largest RV show, with more than 500 RV’s to tour through and drool over.  We’re going on Sunday, and I can’t wait!

So here’s what I’m thinking.  I’ll go to the RV Show (& Extravaganza) then I’ll come back and give you the highlights.  After that I’ll blog, once a week, about a trailer from the show that made me want to trade up.

I’ll call the series “Trailers That Are Better Than Mine,” or something to that effect.  I’ll start with the pop-ups and work my way to the ‘motor mansions’.  That should get us through February, eh?

So that’s the goal.  Hopefully I get enough info and pics to get you all aspiring to trailer ownership, or bigger, better trailer ownership.

Till next week then.

Ten Things I Can’t Live Without

January 19, 2010

The blogiverse came calling a few days ago and asked me to write a list; 10 Things I Can’t Live Without.  It’s taken me a while to get around to it but, while I may procrastinate, I would never ignore the requests of the blogosphere.  Besides, this is a camping blog, and the topics are slim pickin’s this time of year.  So here we go.

  1. I’m sure it goes without saying that family and friends are at the top of the list.  In particular, my husband and my little boy.  My life would be a darker place without my three-year-old’s hugs and ‘I love you’s.  My husband has been my co-conspirator for more than 15 years.  He is my safe place, the one that I lean on and the voice that assures me, with unwavering confidence that things are not as bad as I think they are.  I could muddle through life without him, but I wouldn’t want to.
  2. The internet.  When I was a kid, I would have told you that I couldn’t live without TV, but that was before the internet and the untold potential it has to entertain, employ, and connect me to the far-flung corners of the world.  You can take my TV and I’ll survive, but please don’t take away my interwebs.
  3. That being said, I couldn’t possibly live without mindless distraction; which may, or may not involve TV.  It could be YouTube clips, reruns of The Office or the latest gossip from TMZ, but sometimes I need to quiet the nasty voices in my head by numbing myself with fluffy, irrelevant non-sense.
  4. Every now and then, a nice crusty heel of baguette can go a long, long way.  It’s the best part of the loaf and it’s mine, so hands off!
  5. The new and the novel.  If there was nothing else to learn, if there was nothing new to get excited about, there wouldn’t be much point in carrying on.
  6. Someone with whom I can poke fun at others.  People are funny.  Let’s face it, people are hilarious.  But things are much less funny if there’s nobody to laugh with.  When I see an old lady, in the car next to me, with 16 bobble head cats wobbling away on her dashboard; I need to have someone there to point it out to. It’s all about sharing, really.
  7. A vehicle.  I know, I know, it’s not a very environmentally friendly thing to say but I live in the boonies!  Nothing and I mean nothing (but the mailbox) is within walking distance and public transit is something I’ve only heard about in bedtime stories.  Without a vehicle, I’d be a prisoner here.
  8. Animated movies.  It’s sad to admit but they make my life a whole lot easier.  The boy loves them.  He loves to sit and watch them and he loves to play with his toys with a movie in the background.  He is even starting to follow in my footsteps and memorize his favourite movies word for word.  Ahhh, my wasted youth; I’m glad I could pass that on.
  9. Comical sociopolitical commentary.  I would rather get my news from a talk show, any night.  They are often just as accurate as a news broadcast and they never make situations overly dramatic.  Instead, they use humour to take the edge off some really heavy stuff.  I hate drama.  Make me laugh, Mansbridge or give that Order of Canada back!
  10. And the number 10 thing I can’t live without….Oxygen!  OXYGEN!

It’s Not a Sham, It’s a Sham WOW!

January 5, 2010

It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks, let me tell you.  We drove, we visited, and we ate a ton.  I cooked, I baked and I wrapped.  We got sick.  We got better.  We drove and ate and visited some more and opened a lot of presents.

We got some great stuff.  As for the list of trailer wants (in addition to the grill I mentioned in the last post) we got our screen house.  Thank you very much Auntie Caroline, Uncle Neil and Lilly.  I’m looking forward to using it.  We gave them a tent, so they can start to join us on our little excursions.

I have an amendment to the list, though.  I forgot all about the Sham Wow.  I’ve wanted one for ages.  I’ve imitated Vince and his Sham Wow commercials ad infinitum; to the point that I received 6 of them for Christmas this year.  So, consider the Sham Wow added to the list and ticky boxed off.  I’ve got Sham Wow’s comin’ out the wazoo and I don’t have a clue what I’m going to do with them, but I’m sure I can spare a couple for the trailer.

The decorations are packed up and we’re back to the grind.  We rang in the new year and the new decade and it’s time to focus on the resolutions that will keep us going until the holiday roll around next year.  Personally, I’ve eaten so much in the past month, I shouldn’t have to eat again until March.  Maybe some exercise is in order.

All I Want For Christmas

December 25, 2009

It’s Christmas at last!  I wanted to take a moment to wish everyone out there in the blogosphere a very merry Christmas or a happy holiday of the persuasion of your choice.  Personally I choose to celebrate Christmas because it’s fun and convenient.  You may celebrate, or not celebrate anything you like.  It doesn’t bother me one way or the other.

If anyone’s still looking for a last-minute gift for me and my trailer you’re too late but here is my wish list anyway.

I wanted a campfire grill but not anymore, thanks to an early presy from Ian and Shannon.  Thank you very much!

I’d still love a screen room.  I’ve decided that I prefer the screen room option over the add-a-room.  An add-a-room would cost too much, I can’t let you spend that on me.  A screen room can also provide more flexibility on awkward campsites.

We are still camping without an engraved wooden welcome sign informing passersby of our family name, origin and hobbies.  This is an oversite that I would like to have remedied.

Tin Man

I also desperately need a tin man decoration.  If you’re not familiar with them, they are little painted figures that hang outside the trailer and are made, entirely, out of empty cans and recycled junk and sometimes have a funnel hat.  They are adorable and sell at the Peterborough farmer’s market for $15.  If I don’t get one for Christmas you can get me one for Mother’s Day.

So there’s my list.  I’ll let you know how I make out.  In the mean time, enjoy the holidays and make fabulous plans for the New Year.

That’s A Wrap!

December 16, 2009

The curtain has come down on our family’s first camping season.  We saw a lot, did a lot, put a lot of kilometres on the van and made some lovely family memories.

The trailer is closed up now, winterized and hunkered down in the side yard surrounded by a foot of snow.  I’m hopeful it won’t become a mouse hotel over the next few months.  It’ll be alright.  We mouse proofed it.  I’m pretty sure.

So…hmmm…what do we talk about now?  It’s almost time to start planning for next year.  There’s the big RV show coming up over the winter.  We could talk about winter sports!  I like winter sports better than summer sports.

We’ll muddle through.  If you have any topic suggestions I’d be happy to entertain them.  You can save me from contemplating my navel all winter.

Don’t forget to check in on the Campsite Cookin’ link from time to time.  There’s some fun foodie stuff over there.

Campsite Cookin’

December 13, 2009

Hey everybody!  I’m watching Julie and Julia and getting inspired.  Check out Campsite Cookin’ for  a new post.

Yosemite National Park

December 3, 2009

For many of us, the photographs of Ansel Adams are the first experience we have with Yosemite National Park.  Ansel’s masterful use of light and shadow provide a window into a place of epic beauty.  As a result of these photographs, Ansel Adams became one of the world’s most renowned photographers.

In September, our family vacation took us to see Yosemite firsthand and the experience gave me a new perspective on Ansel’s work.  His pictures are wonderful, but I’m not sure he deserves all the reverence and accolades he has received?   Yosemite is one of the most jaw-slackingly beautiful places on Earth.  If you can’t fire off a couple of attractive pictures of the Half Dome or El Capitan, it’s because you suck and it’s irresponsible of you to own a camera.  It’s just my observation.  You can take it or leave it.

Beautiful Yosemite

I didn’t do a lot of actual research in preparation for our trip to Yosemite.  Instead, I did a lot of excited bragging.  Any time I’d tell someone we were going to Yosemite they’d start talking about the giant trees; one in particular.  “You can drive through one of them,” they’d say.  “You gonna drive through the giant tree?”

“Yes, absolutely I am!”  I got excited about driving through a tree.  I was willing to go out of my way for it.  I told my two-year old about the drive-through tree.  I described to him the concept of a tree big enough to drive a car through.  He was excited about it too.  Sadly, a couple of days before we were due to arrive in the park, we learned that the drive-through tree had given up and fallen over.

It fell over in 1969!  How is it, in the much-lauded information age, it has taken 40 years for the news of the Great Tree Collapse of 1969 to reach us in Ontario?  For forty years Ontarians have been suffering under the delusion that glamorous people are motoring through trees in Yosemite and its’ just not the case.  Never mind, I’m still a little bitter but I’ll get over it.

We arrived in Yosemite intending to take the Tioga Pass and drive through the park to Mammoth Lakes where a comfortable bed awaited us.  We hoped for a leisurely drive, filled with dazzling sites and plenty of stops along the way.  We reached the park gate and learned that our plan had hit a snag.

“The roads closed,” the man in the box told us.  “It’s been closed for the past two weeks because of a wildfire.  It’s supposed to open up at 5 o’clock today.”

A wildfire!  How inconvenient.  I did a little post mortem research on the fire with startling results.  The Big Meadow Fire, as it came to be known, was the result of a prescribed burn gone wrong.  It was purposely started on August 26, 2009 with the intent to burn 90 acres but it changed direction right off the bat and raged out of control.  In the end, it had consumed 7,425 acres and cost $16.3 million USD to fight.  Woops.

Our Little Naturalist

Well, at least Yosemite is an easy place to kill time.  There is plenty of hiking to be done, and there are plenty of educational exhibits to be visited.  We enjoyed ourselves and then, shortly before 5:00 p.m. we made our way to the road closure to join the other tourists waiting to make their way to the Tioga Pass.

Five o’clock came and went.  Impatient Europeans paced back and forth along the road, wondering what the holdup was.  I joined them.  Pace, pace, pace, what’s taking so long?  They’ve had two weeks!  What could they possibly be doing to take an extra 20 minutes…an extra 40 minutes?  You know the kind of ludicrous impatience that can develop when a group of strangers are waiting for something that’s behind schedule; an airplane to take off, a road to open.  You know.

The road did, eventually, open and as we drove, we realized the magnitude of the fire that had delayed us.  We saw acre upon acre of, still smoking, white ash covered ground.  Sooty, tired looking firefighters were cleaning up their tools.  The smell that hung in the air was the, normally pleasant, scent of campfires but magnified about 1,000,000 times, it became sickening and gave me a headache.

We drove out of the fire zone and through the Tioga Pass, which provided vista after vista of startling beauty.  It’s seems surreal that views like that exist on Earth.  Nature is often configured in some startling and awe-inspiring ways.

Awe Inspiring Vistas

It was dark by the time we reached our hotel in Mammoth Lakes.  A man who, I’m assuming from his attire, was a Jimmy Buffet fan, handed us a key to a 1980’s time capsule of a room and warned us that bears hang out in the hotel parking garage.  I didn’t care anymore.  I wanted a Big Mac and my bed.  I was wiped out.

Now Back To Your Regularly Scheduled Blog, Already In Progress

October 21, 2009

I feel I need to explain my resent absence.  Having long gaps on a blog is tantamount to having long gaps on a resume.  One must come up with excuses to make the dead time seem as though it was well spent and not just frittered away.

Let me assure you that I have not been frittering.  I’ve been painting trim and visiting with family and friends and performing my wifely and motherly duties.

Lately, the greatest thief of my time has been school work and a couple of seriously ominous assignments.  I have to write a short story.  I don’t ‘do’ fiction.  I certainly don’t do 3000 words of fiction.  The story is coming along now.  I’ve already abandoned one work in progress, but I have a really good feeling about the piece I’m working on now.  Fingers crossed, I’ll have it behind me soon.  Then the world can go back to normal.

To be honest, I’ve been procrastinating.  I’d have the assignment done by now, if I wasn’t constantly finding other more important things to do.  I’ll work on it tonight.  As soon as I’m done blogging and reading Tuesdays With Morrie.

Death Valley – A Little Slice of Hell on Earth

October 2, 2009

Duncan (aka Mr Weather) is always searching to find and experience the most extreme climates the world has to offer.  So it comes as no surprise that he has always dreamed of visiting Death Valley California.  It is, after all, the hottest, driest, most godforsaken place in the western hemisphere and nearly the world.

The road that leads into Death Valley boasts little more than road signs and desert as far as the eye can see.  There are no buildings.  There are no plants.  There are few other motorists.  The road signs bare warnings; stay on the paved roads, turn off air-conditioning for the next 8 miles, radiator water in 2 miles.  There is a sense of foreboding to the journey that makes you feel like a legitimate adventurer.  If something goes wrong, it’s going to get really bad, really fast.

Naturally we took our two year old into this so-called valley of death.  We stayed right in the heart of it at Furnace Creek Ranch.  It’s an unusual place, but it was quaint and homey.  There are no towns within an easy commute of the ranch so most of the employees live on site.  Everyone there is friendly and welcoming.


Duncan taking Liam back to our little ranch house.

Our room was in the old part of the ranch.  We were on a narrow street lined with semi-detached cabins with cute front porches and shared driveways.  It was adorable.

Spring Fed Swimming Pool at Furnace Creek Ranck

Spring Fed Swimming Pool at Furnace Creek Ranch

The ranch has a swimming pool that is fed by a warm spring.  Feeding the water in from the spring keeps the pool cooler than it would be if left to bake in the summer sun.  It’s still too hot to be refreshing in any way, but it was interesting to try out.

Heat catches up to kids much sooner than it hits adults; poor Liam.  Mommy and Daddy learned their lesson when we were walking back to our room from the pool, in the 47 degree heat.  We stopped halfway to peek into the Borax Museum but noticed that Liam had started to look absolutely ill.  We got him back into our room where the air-conditioning was cranked and he fell fast asleep on his bed.  When he woke up we gave him some Gatorade.  From then on we made him sit in his stroller with water whenever we went outside.  No more exertion for him!

That's me!  Bad Water, Death Valley CA

That's me! Badwater, Death Valley CA

One of the most popular sites in Death Valley is Badwater.  Badwater is the lowest area in the park at 282 feet below sea level.  There is a small, very salty, pool of water and a heavily travelled salt flat that stretches out in front of the parking lot.  We took a wander out onto the flat.  We gave it a taste.  It was, in fact, salty.

Driving through Death Valley and seeing its landscape with my own eyes was probably the most impactful aspect of the trip.  It’s difficult to describe.  It’s a parched, rugged, rocky place yet the mountains and canyons give it so much depth and dimension.  It’s something you have to experience firsthand.  Pictures can’t do justice to the beauty or express the oppressive heat or the sense of accomplishment at having made it through the valley to the other side.  My hat is off to the pioneering souls who first ventured into the valley.  I’ll take a Canadian winter any day.

My little boy in the middle of the Mojave Desert

My little boy in the middle of the Mojave Desert