I am Phoenix

It's been over two years since my last post, unbelievable.
I arrived in Victoria and set up the coach in a beautiful, oceanfront RV park downtown, and well, relaxed.
Maybe it was the intense drive across the Rockies, maybe it was the instant summer weather, or just maybe it was time to slow down a bit.
But for whatever reason, I didn't feel I had much to write about. I walked a lot, sat in cafes, read.
Victoria is an amazing city to be carefree in, possibly even luring the unwary into a bit of a trance of roses, parks, pubs  and beaches.
Yes, I succumbed to the laid back west coast lifestyle.
But extended periods of unhindered thought does eventually bear fruit.
And I've found I have a clearer path now, not unlike my wonderful time traveling.
I will continue to live a simple life, work as little as possible, eat as well as possible and make and cherish as many friends as possible.
Oh, and I will live on or very near water,.... for the rest of my life.
I bought and moved aboard a classic mahogany motor cruiser in my first spring in Victoria.

I fell in love at first sight. It's a long time dream come true and I'm blessed to have had the opportunity. I live at a small marina right in Victoria Harbour and simply love it.
But I'm getting itchy feet. This boat is meant to cruise, I've been out as long as a month in the beautiful Gulf Islands, and will travel further in the coming months. But in time, we will cast off for good and explore distant waters. These travels will be well documented should you wish to come along. But perhaps not here, I don't know if a blog is my best medium. I've started a YouTube channel, "Travels With Geordie". It actually chronicles my life parallel to this blog, going back in time to where I first set off. It will be primarily a travel blog, with a good measure of vehicle modifications, food and drink, music and whatever suits my fancy. Likely a rant now and then, I'll provide prior warning.

So if you're interested, follow along. I'm afraid it will take some time to catch up to where this blog left off and longer to what I'm up to today, but I want to create a full archive of my adventure.

Thank you all for your interest, and your patience.

Lets go have some fun,......

Peter and Geordie

Travels With Geordie 


I LOVE ferries!

I just do, and this one, the ferry that will transport me to my winter salvation is especially wonderful.

The smell of the Pacific ocean is different than the Atlantic. It's richer and earthy somehow.
In any event I love it and am so glad to be here.

I even splurged on a fabulous beef dip in the dining room. I had my first beef dip ever 37 years ago at the James Bay Inn in Victoria when I first arrived there. This one was even better.

The route the ferry takes through the Gulf Islands is quite spectacular, passing quite close to the rocky shores. beautiful really.

Once on Vancouver Island the first order of business was a car wash! The rig was filthy.
The only self serve one I could find was quite congested and only had a back in bay. To wash both the truck and coach required quite a bit of fancy maneuvering that impressed the locals to no end.

Although I was booked in at an RV park, I wanted to go straight downtown for a few classic Victoria photo opportunities. First at Mile 0 of the Trans Canada, right at the shore in James bay. Very near to where I once lived.

Being suddenly surrounded by flowers still blooming and lush green grass was a gift to my ice road ravaged body. Victoria is bliss!

Then posing outside the famous Empress Hotel on the Inner Harbour. Tea and crumpets anyone?

Down to the sea.

But first, more icy mountain passes!
I'm not overly pleased with my photography across this country. I rationalize that on my return trip I'll have better weather and more time. But the truth is and I'm a little ashamed to say it.
From Ottawa to Banff there is very little of interest to photograph, at least in winter. Prairie dwellers may object but to my sensibilities, it's largely a wasteland. There, I said it.
Then there's the Rockies....
I have about a hundred photos that look pretty much exactly like this one. While driving, every new pass, ridge or valley looks spectacular, but once captured in a photo, the magic fades.
Now don't get me wrong, there are fabulous photos of the Rockies and I took very little effort if my photography as I was mostly trying to stay on the road. Sight seeing pull offs were simply not an option as very few were plowed and those that were, were full of trucks fixing their chains.
So I really didn't get any decent photos.

Kamloops to Hope was an eye opener, although the new southern route is a divided highway I was overwhelmed by the grades. Leaving Kamloops is a very long steep grade that I barely had enough traction for. Thank God for four wheel drive and my locking rear differential or I simply wouldn't have made it. Uphill was treacherous but downhill simply terrifying. Braking with the engine or the truck only resulted in instant fishtailing so I had to rely on manually applying the coach brakes.
Normally on long hills I like to conserve the coach brakes in case of emergency, but I had no choice.
As a result I took the downgrades very slowly to ensure I didn't overheat the coach brakes.

I was so glad to roll into snow and Ice free Abbotsford, an hour from the Vancouver Island ferry!

Into the Rockies.

For the last several thousand miles, this moment had daunted me.
To cross the Rocky Mountains in a Series Land Rover towing a rather heavy Airstream.
OK I have a few more horsepower than stock, and my forays across the Blue Ridge mountains and Cape Breton's Cabot Trail have encouraged me, but this is the real thing!

In truth, crossing the Rockies from East to West has the advantage of starting at nearly 3500 feet above sea level at Calgary, so in fact, the first several hours are largely downhill!.

But the grades weren't the problem, again it was the packed snow and ice! From the Banff National Park entrance westward the roads continuously worsened.

By dusk the hills were also getting steeper and eventually I needed four wheel drive to keep traction on. All the big trucks had chains which along with the snow plows just chattering across the icy road made the ice surface horribly bumpy. To make matters worse, the slow lanes on hills were not driven in by any other vehicles so they were intolerably rough and snowy.

I pushed on through Kicking Horse Pass to Golden to spend the night. It was my birthday.

The long road west.

The weather forecast was daunting. I had planned to cross into Canada at Buffalo New York, but it sounds like there's some snow coming. Freezing temperatures meant at least partially winterizing the coach. First order of business was to dump the waste tanks, I was carrying full nearly tanks, about 100 gallons! This time of year however, there are very few campgrounds still open and as I head
north even fewer. With luck I found a place in Pennsylvania that let me dump for $25!
It had to be done, if the tanks and dump valves froze I'd be ruined.
I then dumped several gallons of RV antifreeze in both tanks and would only flush the toilet with antifreeze from here on.

To protect the fresh water tank I rigged a return line to the tank so I could run the hot water from the tap back into the tank thus warming all the water in the tank. This was all well and good as long as it didn't get really cold.

Then the news warned of a complete white out in Buffalo, a freak storm of lake effect snow that eventually dumped seven feet of snow on the poor town! I headed east and crossed at Brockville Ontario.
Then north to Ottawa and west on the Trans Canada.
I drove across and back in my teens but couldn't believe the Trans Canada was still a two lane road from just west of Ottawa to Winnipeg!

By Sault Saint Marie I knew this was going to be epic, the temperate was dropping to minus 10 overnight so I was having to get up in the night and heat the fresh water tank. This was no easy feat as I had no real heat in the coach, my saving grace was a very wise investment in a 12 volt electric matrass heating pad. What a delight to crawl into a warm bed.

Crossing the top of Lake Superior was on ice packed roads, hills and treacherous. White knuckled
driving to say the least.

By Thunder Bay I was in trouble. The nighttime temperature was minus 22 and I had to abandon the
water system altogether. I spent a frantic day thawing, draining and refilling with antifreeze.
I bought and installed heat tape for the drain pipes as I was concerned about dilution of the antifreeze.
which meant I had to run the generator all night to run the heat tapes and my heated bed.
after a frantic day including several hours under the coach with a hair dryer thawing the shower lines that cross under the floor I had successfully winterized. I'd also bought a monster propane catalytic heater to keep the inside reasonable, however I didn't dare use it at night.

Then at Regina the temperature dropped to minus 35 with heavy blowing snow.
I was snowed in for two days waiting for the snow to stop and the roads to clear.
All the while huddled next to the heater making strategic use of propane and gasoline for the generator as I couldn't drive anywhere.

Two days later when I emerged from this winter hell the roads were solid, rutted ice.
I needed four wheel drive to get around even this flat city.
The truck was a hero though, starting faithfully at these temperatures and all it's systems tolerating the inhumanity. It fact pup and I were quite cozy inside as the little pickup cab is easy to heat with my big heater.

At long last I passed through Calgary and the roads began to clear however the temperatures remained brutally cold. But the sight of the looming Rocky Mountains warmed me somehow.
I should have known better,......

Considering my options

This business of being denied access to the US, and it's sunny southern climate is perplexing.
When I have no need to be anywhere in particular for six months there is little appeal in returning north to snow and sleet.
So it's decided, Pup and I are off to England!
Well you might say it's still not exactly balmy there either, it's certainly beats Eastern Canada.
I'm a British citizen as I was born in London and currently one way flights are absurdly cheap, significantly less than half a return fare. The trick is Geordie.
The UK has a particularly stringent policy regarding importing dogs. After much research and many conversations with veterinarians experienced in the complex process of tests, vaccinations and chip implantation, I was all set. Pup just had to lose a few pounds to qualify for baggage compartment travel.
As I was booking our flight the attendant informed me that to qualify for the UK import scheme, pup must fly as livestock cargo independently of my ticket. OK I said, until I got the quote.
$4,800!! Not including the special livestock handling fees at Heathrow.
This would have been our new home.
That's it for that plan.
Devastated. I was on the verge of making an offer on a River cruiser we would have lived on on the Thames.
I spent days looking at alternatives. And then it presented itself!
The Queen Mary II!!!
A little Googling and I discovered that pets are welcome, there is a lovely kennel and a reasonable fare of $750 that qualifies for the pet import scheme.
True my fare would be almost $2000, but the combined cost is still less than half of flying.
And it's a double stateroom, I could have a companion accompany for free.
Of course there's meals and such on board, but for the experience I'd gladly accommodate.
And the QMII is berthed 10 blocks from where I am in Brooklyn due to sail in 14 days!!!
Then the downside,...kennels are booked 12 to 18 months in advance.

Our only reasonably warm winter option,...Victoria British Columbia.
Lovely city, fantastic climate that rarely freezes all winter. And a very marime culture.
Liveaboards and houseboats. It's perfect, except it on the opposite coast of a rather large continent, with a substantial mountain range in between.

So I decided to return to Nova Scotia and leave the coach in the East and install one of my full length hardtops on the Rover and build a micro camper to head west.
After a few days of designing and costing I realized the time and expense was beyond my means.
It was getting cold, if I was going to get across the prairies before winter set in I had to get moving.
So we did,..

Westward ho!,......

More DC fun

There's no denying it, Bobeck is bottled fun!
I'll never miss the opportunity to go out on the town here with this man.
And Washington, or at least the parts I've seen, are an incredible mix of communities and culture, history and energy. I haven't been able to experience Portland or Austin yet, but I expect it's this kind of feeling. And I just love it.
Dave told me to arrive at precisely 6:55 to be able to catch some much sought after overnight street parking on his tiny downtown street.
I didn't think it was possible to park and stay overnight on a trendy residential street downtown, but I dutifully timed my arrival to the minute. No easy feat while negotiating downtown DC traffic and construction.
I rolled up opposite his door at 6:55 and by 7:00 there was not a spot left on the street!

Then it began,...
I didn't take any pictures of our evening to limit the damning evidence, but what an evening.
Let's just say I slept until nearly noon, then drove north, no parking ticket!

Thanks again Dave.