A Travellerspoint blog

Back at it - New Blog coming

Sitting at home is just not an option

We had fairly meticulously planned a 125 day adventure in boler travel, only to have it all go horribly wrong with the failure of our car and the return home after just 42 days. After two weeks of being back in Nova Scotia, feeling a bit cheated of our travel opportunity for 2016 we came to a decision:

It is time to get back out there!

We have a brand new 2016 Honda CRV. We have enough US $ to go back down south. So, hey ho and away we go. The trip is about 10,000 kilometers long, involves the following stops: Lancaster, PA, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, New Orleans, LA, Nashville, TN, Mammoth Cave National Park, a visit to Sarnia Ontario to visit family and a stop in either Montreal or Toronto on the way home. 35 days. We will be staying in vacation rentals and our budget calls for around $100 US a night for accommodations, and around $125 per day for other expenses, like gas food, miscellaneous, etc.

We've pre-booked much of our accommodation with ample time built in between stays to spend some quality time on backroad travel, rather than banging away on the interstates. We've always found interesting places and people off the beaten track.

There will be a new blog once we get closer to departure day...May 12!!

Let the excitement begin!

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 04:16 Comments (3)

The end of the road

Summarizing the trip and its early ending

There is no hindsight in our life on the road. What happens out there is just the way things go. We planned on 125 days and a final grand tour with both our boler trailer and its tow vehicle, the now scrapped 2006 Pontiac Torrent. Instead we got 39 days. As this is written on April 19, we are back at home in Nova Scotia.

The boler is sitting at Vinnie's Service Station in Chester, NY, where she will remain until her new owners pick her up and bring her back to Canada the first week of May. We will then pass title on to them and end our days of owning an iconic trailer. It has been our pleasure and honour to have owned her. It is now time to pass her on to Kerry and Marcella, and we hope they enjoy her every bit as much as we have.

We bought our 1976 model boler in May, 2011. She quickly got the name "Bollie" and we've done lots of small, and not so small improvements over our time with her. She has been on some epic trips with us and we figured out the other day that we have slept in her tight little confines for almost exactly 365 days in the 5 years we have owned her. She has been in 9 of 10 provinces, and 36 of the 48 states of the USA.

This is a picture of the boler and the Torrent back in the happy days of our coast-to-coast trip in 2014:

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We had budgeted $100 US per day for our planned adventure, and up til the Torrent began to fail we had held pretty well to that cost per day. A few days were over, but not by much, and we bought some hot weather clothing once we got to Florida that wasn't in the plan, but we were doing pretty good budget wise. Today, if the trip had continued we would have been in New Orleans, heading onward towards South Padre Island.

Over the last 8 days of the trip, we blew through about $3000 in trying to get us and our vehicles home. We stayed in motels it for 6 straight nights and ate more restaurant meals as we beat our way up the interstates through Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Maryland, Pennsylvania and onto that stretch of the I-84 where the Torrent finally gave up the chase. The flight home from NYC, the taxi to the airport all ate up what would have been travel money.

Once the Torrent started to fail, we had little alternative but to head back to Canada. If we bought a new car in the US, we would have had to return to Canada as our insurance company would only give us 14 days to get the car registered in Nova Scotia. No US insurance could cover us as we do not have a US address. So, in reality, our trip was doomed to end early.

We had a lovely time through the first 25 days, making stops all along the eastern seaboard of the US and our stay at Bahai Honda State Park in the Florida Keys was great. We spent a lovely night as the only campers in a small primitive campground in the Everglades, which turned out to be our last night camping in the boler.

Here is the final photo of our Pontiac Torrent:

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Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 04:56 Comments (6)

Days 37, 38 - Ominous portents

The end of the Torrent, Delta Airlines, Taxi rides to JFK in NYC, Snowstorm in Halifax

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Right near the end of our last blog post we indicated enough confidence in the condition of the Torrent that we would likely spend up to a week in the Smoky Mountains. Well, that was a bit of a fantasy that was knocked out of us, as soon as we checked under the hood the next morning. The engine coolant was down, which meant that all was not well with our engine.

We were still 1800 miles from home and it was now crystal clear that we should get our ailing vehicle home before its resurrection came to an end.

We hit the I-81 and headed north, on the road before 8:00am with the plan to go as far as we could before the day ended. Our heater had now failed in the car and we were traveling cold, dressed in pants, sweaters and jackets for the early part of the day. We traveled 600 miles in a little over 10 hours, ending the day in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. We were mildly confident that one more day would see us in Bangor Maine and within sight of the Canadian border and perhaps a chance of completing our run home.

April 14, dawned, cold, but sunny and this morning it was necessary to add a toque and gloves to the clothing in the early morning drive. We headed onward, starting at 7:30am and headed east and north along the I-81 and the I-80. Around 11:00am we had to stop for gas. As soon as the Torrent came down to idling speed the heat gauge pegged itself at boiling hot...only by revving the engine were we able to bring the temperature back down. This was bad, very bad!

We quickly looked up Pep Boys, and sure enough, there was one just 10 miles away, in Chester, New York. We managed to make this short hop only to find the Pep Boys location was a distribution center, not a repair shop. Argh! The people at the distribution center sent us onward to Vin-J Automotive, a local repair shop. There, Vinnie, yes Vinnie, sent us across the street to a diner for lunch while the car cooled down enough for him to take a look at it.

When we came back, at about 12:30pm we got the final, fatal diagnosis. The Torrent would go no father. We were exactly 1000 miles from home, with no way to tow the boler another yard.

We needed some internet, and perhaps a hotel room. There was a Holiday Inn Express, not 5 minutes away on foot. We trudged up there to find it completely full, with a convention, and the rate would have been over $150 for the night if they did have a vacancy. Argh again!

They did let us use their internet to see if we could find another hotel, or perhaps a way home. We found a Delta Flight, #4178, from JFK in New York City, to Halifax, that evening at 9:00pm. How to get to the airport? JFK is 60 miles away. Bus, or train, to the Port Authority, or Grand Central Station, then lug whatever we needed to take home with us several blocks to the subway, then ride to JFK. Virtually impossible.

It was looking pretty grim, then the desk clerk told us there was a local taxi company that would take us direct to JFK, for $150. We booked the flight, booked the taxi. and then went to figure out what to do with the Torrent with Vinnie.

We then went to see Vinnie to figure out what to do about disposing of the car. The scrap dealer needs the title in order to protect himself. The title is in Nova Scotia, and the same rules about importing a car to Canada would apply to importing one to the US. Due to the short time available to us Vinnie agrees to keep both car and boler on his lot until we can sort out the details of disposing of the Torrent and getting back to tow the boler home with a new car. Vinne is a great guy and has been very helpful.

The taxi picked us up at 3:30pm and 2 1/2 hours later dropped us at JFK. The taxi driver was a font of knowledge about New York City and kept up a running travelogue the whole way to the airport. We were about 1 mile from the airport when something odd about the date occurred to me. We quickly checked our confirmation e-mail from Delta and sure, enough, in my haste to get us home I had booked the flight for April 15...tomorrow. One more ARGH!!

Luckily, there was room on the April 14th flight and Delta was nice enough not to charge us a fee to change our reservation. We were now in JFK with plenty of time to make our flight. We know that Stanfield International, in Halifax pretty well shuts down at midnight and our flight was due to arrive at 11:55pm, so, if we wanted a car rental we had better get that done. We phoned and rented a car from Enterprise beginning that evening when we arrived.

The flight was on-time and uneventful, We landed in Halifax in a blinding snowstorm, with predictions of 20+ cm overnight. We promptly upgraded our car rental to include full insurance. We could see us sliding into a ditch and incurring huge expenses to fix a rental car.

The snow was so bad that we stayed with relatives in Halifax overnight and only headed back to our home in Aylesford on the morning of April 15. we got home to the Annapolis Valley at 10:00am, showered and promptly headed back out the door to go buy a new car. By the end of the day we had purchased a 2016 Honda CRV.

We will write a final blog entry to summarize this whole trip. Suffice it to say that life is an adventure, and Jenny and I are living that adventure to the max. While the end of our trip was a bit stressful, we are now home, safe and sound, and the stress is dropping away.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 01:17 Comments (1)

Days 35, 36 - Lakeland Fl > Tallahassee > Chattanooga

Birds on a lake,Testing the Torrent repairs, Saying NO to HoJo,

overcast 69 °F

With the Torrent now repaired and just about ready for the road, we had a last night in Lakeland. We took a walk around the main lake downtown. Lots of lovely birds, swans, pelicans, storks, etc.

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Back 20 years ago Vancouver did decorated Orcas, and in Custer city they did Buffalo. Artists painted fiberglass replicas and they were sold at auction and continue to be displayed around town. Well, Lakeland did this with replicas of swans, the town's signature bird.

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Since we hadn't tested out the repairs to the Torrent we decided that we would give the car a good test...250 miles the first day, to Tallahassee, and then 400 miles the second day, to Chattanooga. The repairs to the front end suspension seem to have done the job, but we are still a little leery about the overheating problem. The car is doing well on the highway, but tends to get overheat in close and slow moving traffic.

Anyway, we are confident enough in the car that we are going to test it out for the next week in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We have booked a campsite for 6 nights. We plan to explore and hike and relax a bit.

Just to prove that Jenny does get behind the wheel once in a while:

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We booked two different Howard Johnson motels for our test drive. Sad to say the chain has fallen on hard times. We wouldn't stay in either hotel again and if this is any indication of the condition of their chain, the fall has been long and hard.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 16:35 Comments (0)

Day 35, We begin again.

Car woes, motel stay, Lakeland, thieving squirrel

sunny 80 °F

We won't dwell too long on days 28 through 33. Suffice it to say we bought a car, had to return the car, decided to fix our recently thought deceased Pontiac Torrent. There will be life in the old girl. The Torrent is currently getting an entirely new front end suspension at Pep Boys here in Lakeland Florida, where we have been hanging out pretty well since last Wednesday. It is Sunday, April 10 and we hope it will be our last day in travel limbo.

The front end suspension rebuild is costing us about $1700. and we have been introduced to a product called Blue Devil, which you add to your engine coolant and it is supposed to heal blown head gaskets, at least for as long as a year. So, by this time tomorrow we will be resuming our trip, albeit not the original 125 day trip but something closer to 55 days. But I leap forward. Let us look quickly at the recent past.

Last Wednesday we bought a 2012 Honda CRV, which would allow us to tow Bollie home and then become our new forever car. Then we ran into the nightmare that is Florida's Motor Vehicle registration department. In order for us to take the CRV into Canada we needed the 'Certificate of Title" in our possession. We learned this as we were driving north and were almost 100 miles away in Ocala when we found out it could be as long as 30 days before we could get the title document. Apparently the government here moves at a snail's pace and there is no way to speed the process.

We explained our need for the title to the dealership where we made the purchase and they kindly cancelled the deal and gave us our money back, immediately upon our return to Lakeland. Nice guys, and the car would have worked for us long term. Even with US exchange the price would have been comparable to us having bought it back home in Nova Scotia.

Now it is Saturday morning and we have our beloved old Torrent back. We found a 7 day a week auto repair place, Pep Boys, and they got us in for a Sunday morning appointment to do the work. We await the results, although the mechanic doing the work says it looks like there will be no additional problems.

We had camped for 3 nights at Hillsborough River State Park, about 30 miles outside of Lakeland, and the park, for what we saw of it was lovely. But we were preoccupied with the car issues and consequently, only slept there at night...we were in Lakeland all day Wednesday and Thursday. We did have a cheekly little squirrel climb up onto our picnic table and try to make off with a pear. Funny little guy, worked hard for his reward.

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Since leaving the campground we have been staying at the Travelodge in Lakeland. The motel is centrally located and has a lovely pool. The weather has been fantastic, sunny and warm, but not oppressively hot. During our time here we spent a bit of time wandering downtown Lakeland, so named because of all the small lakes in the community. This is a real retirement haven, with many Canadians in residence on a semi-permanent basis.

The lake closest to downtown has some interesting birds, like woodstorks, which can be quite intimidating when looking for food.

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So, going forward from here! We are going to head back towards Canada and home. The Torrent should last us up to a year, assuming the Blue Devil product takes care of the blown head gasket...we will have to watch things closely. It will also be helpful to our engine to get it into a cooler climate.

Because this our last trip with the boler, we had decided to head up through Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia along the Smokey Mountains. We are going to pick up several National Parks along the way as well as some highly recommended State Parks. Once through that stretch, we may make stops in Philadelphia and Boston before making our final run back to Nova Scotia. All of this will be dependent on the performance of our car and we will be taking as good a car of it as we can on the return trip.

The adventure continues. It has been a little more stressful than we would have liked, but we can now see an end to the stress and a return to the enjoyment of traveling with a boler trailer. Throughout all of this our little trailer has been the least of our worries. It continues to perform as it always has...flawlessly.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 07:16 Comments (0)

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