After months of anticipation, we finally hitched up and hit the road to begin our cross-country journey from Borden-Carleton, PEI to Tofino, British Columbia. For the next month, we’ll be travelling A LOT of the Trans-Canada Highway. We’ll be making some stops along the way near some big cities as well as national parks. We’re excited to finally be starting this journey and we can say that Day 1 went great….for the most part.
Getting Ready To Go
I’m a checklist guy. I believe that without lists you’re living in anarchy. Naturally, I had a pretty thorough checklist as we begun to tear down the RV and get it ready for the road.
Because we’re still green when it comes to travelling with an RV, it took us a bit of time to get everything packed up and double checked before we hitched up. I think it took about an hour and a half getting ready to leave, which isn’t too bad. I’m sure we will get quicker with time and experience.
While we were excited to get the adventure started this morning, it was tough to say goodbye to everyone at the park.
Back in May, we moved into Jellystone PEI with our RV. Over the past 4.5 months, it was our home and we couldn’t have been happier while staying there. It was a great place to call home. The park was great and so were Jason & Rachel the park hosts. They both taught us a lot about RVing and this lifestyle. They gave us great advice that we’ll take with us everywhere we travel.
We were also lucky to have met another fantastic pair of full-time RVers while at Jellystone PEI. Eric & Rosie made PEI their most recent stop during their 15-month journey. It was a pleasure to get to know both of them and learn from their travels. I learned so much from Eric that I wonder if we would even be on the road right now without his help and tips. The four of us have already thrown out the possibility of reuniting for the winter of 2017. We may cross our paths again down in Florida and enjoy each other’s company for a few months in the sunshine.
She wasn’t awake in time for us to say goodbye this morning, but we previously said goodbye to Leila. Leila was a great friend of ours at the park. She was always quick to help us out with Bella if we needed someone to watch her for a few hours. Bella loved Leila and her treats.
A Final Tip Before Departure
As we were saying our goodbyes, Jason gave our RV a quick look over and dropped a good piece of advice. He mentioned that instead of using the locking pin for the trailer hitch to replace it with a padlock. Of course, I had to ask him, “why?”
You’re not going to believe this. I couldn’t. Jason said that there are people who will go around and pull out the hitch pin on rigs. This can cause the trailer to slide out of the hitch allow the trailer to crush your truck bed. Yup – some people are absolute arseholes.
Pulling Over Within 15km of Leaving
It didn’t take long for us to have to pull over to the side of the road after leaving Jellystone PEI. A couple of weeks ago when we first took the RV out for a test run, we discovered that we had a bit of a connection issue with our RV brake connector which connects to the truck. This connection is important. It not only gives your RV brake lights, running lights etc…it also controls the RV’s braking system. So yeah…kinda important.
After our test run, we thought we had the issue fixed by having the cord that runs from the RV to the truck replaced. Wrong. It was better, but as we were crossing the Confederation Bridge, the dash in the truck flickered “Check Trailer.” This meant that we didn’t have any brakes or lights while crossing parts of the Confederation Bridge on a windy day. Kate’s a super trooper, though, and doesn’t panic at all. She took her time and as soon as we were off of the bridge, we pulled into a tourist centre. I then fixed the loose connection by using a zip tie tightened around the connection. It’s not a permanent fix, but it did the trick and allowed us to travel with brakes throughout the rest of the day.
What The Heck is Tow/Haul?
The day after our test run a couple of weeks back we were at the mechanics getting some stuff fixed up before our trip. While we were there we told him about our test run. This included letting him know about a strange noise that almost sounded like a high powered air conditioning unit. The noise would usually happen after hauling up a hill. We figured it was a fan that only kicks on during moments there’s a high amount of stress on the truck. The mechanic gave us a puzzled look before asking us, “You were using the Tow/Haul mode in the truck, right?” We gave him a puzzled look right back.
The mechanic nodded his head as to say, “Well, that makes sense now.” We told him we didn’t know what he was talking about. He then led us through the garage and showed us the Tow/Haul button on the shifter. Yes – it was right in front of us and we missed it. Doh! He told us that we have to make sure that we hit the button to initiate the Tow/Haul mode. Doing so will save the transmission, saving us thousands of dollars.
Now knowing about Tow/Haul mode, Kate switched it on as we left Jellystone PEI. As we were heading down the road, Kate looked at me and asked me what was wrong with the truck. It wasn’t hauling like it did before. It was actually going much slower in Tow/Haul mode. To us, that made no sense. Why would the truck go slower and seem less powerful in Tow/Haul mode? I dug into the glove compartment and pulled out the Owner’s Manual. I quickly started reading up about the Tow/Haul mode and then it all made sense.
You know how when you see transport trucks moving at a snails pace? That’s what we were doing as we were making our way to the Confederation Bridge. Tow/Haul mode turns us into a much less powerful version of a transport truck.
While in this mode, as a way of protecting the transmission from working too hard, too quickly, it slows down the time between shifting gears. This applies to going uphill. It also slows the truck down by downshifting when going down steep grades. It was definitely something good to learn. It’s still a bit painful going up hills at 50km/h as wimpy little cars zoom by.
The first half the drive was all about learning as you’ve read above. Kate was also getting comfortable with handling the truck and adjusting to using Tow/Haul. We also were happy to see the pets, Bella & Paris Frances, comfortable while driving which was a relief.
Something else that we learned was that you cannot trust Google Maps to predict your arrival time. Our first stop was in Fredericton. Google Maps told us that we would be there before 12.30 and we didn’t get there til almost 12.50 which isn’t too bad. We’ve heard that you have to add an extra 20% worth of time to figure out your actual arrival time. The max speed we were travelling in the RV was 105km/h and that wasn’t often. So yeah, you definitely travel much slower, but that’s ok. It just means you get to look around and enjoy the scenery more.
It felt like no time at all and we were in Fredericton, our former home. We stopped just outside of the city for a quick lunch with a friend and to fuel up. I also purchased a padlock for the hitch pin and installed that immediately. We were then back on the road and heading to Edmundston.
Just past Fredericton, the roads began to get much steeper. This meant we went much slower. Our four ways were on often as we crept up steep grades at 60km/h. This definitely allowed us to look around a bit and enjoy the views. We enjoyed some great views of the Saint John River valley as we were rolling up and down the hills. I have no idea what to expect once we hit the Rocky Mountains, but the hills of New Brunswick gave us some good preparation for the road ahead.
Right around 5.30p we pulled into Riverside RV Park in Edmundston. The park was quiet with only a handful of RVs in the park. We soon went through my “Arrival Checklist” allowing us to move into the RV. By this point, we all needed to stretch our legs. Paris was able to do so by roaming around the RV while Kate and I took Bella for a quick walk around a subdivision.
With Bella tuckered out from her walk, we then hopped in the truck and went off in search of food. We’re trying to eat at local spots as much as possible on the trip. We ended up finding a café called Pressed Café which looked local, but kind of felt like it might be a chain once we were in there. Neither Kate nor I had heard of it before, so we were happy to give it a try.
Image by Harfang via WikiMedia Commons
For about an hour, we drove around Edmundston trying to get a feel for the town. There’s a mammoth pulp mill in the middle of town. You can definitely smell it from miles away. I’ve never seen a pulp mill right in the middle of a town like this before. I’m wondering if the city sort of grew around the mill over time or perhaps vice versa.
Ice Cream Tour of Canada
This past summer, we both ate an incredible amount of ice cream. I’m shocked neither of us are morbidly obese, so we figured we’ll continue to test our luck. While making the drive to Edmundston, we both agreed to do an ice cream tour of Canada. Throughout our trip, we’re going to try and find the best ice cream in each of the locations that we make stops at.
We attempted to kick start our Ice Cream Tour of Canada in Edmundston. I looked up and found a place in Edmundston that looked good and had great reviews online. We made the drive over to the shop. When we got there, though, it was not open. Bummer…huge bummer. Hopefully, our luck will change in Quebec City.
Departure Time/Location: 9.15a Borden-Carleton
Arrival Time/Location: 5.30p Edmundston
Total Distance: 557km
Next Stop: Saint-Apollinaire/Quebec City