Ice storm!

On the Texas Gulf Coast, an Ice storm! We moved westward to Galveston and found a great spot to stay on the beach.
But woke to bitter cold and everything covered with ice!
Apparently The entire deep south has been hit with snow and ice, we actually got off easy.
With is being so cold and windy we moved to the lee side of a huge beach pavilion which also offered open Wi Fi and power!
The next day we were asked to leave, fair enough.

We headed 30 minutes west along the shore passing some amazing houses on stilts, whole towns, on stilts. and eventually found a splendid spot on a huge expanse of beach and dunes.

We cooked up a big dinner with Pat and Jess of Schnitzel and spaetzle.

Pulling a 24 foot Airstream across the dunes was a bit exciting, but the sand here packs very hard so it was really easy going.

On the beach

Becca and Cory headed north to Nashville, but not before painting their Boler Green.
A few days later Patrick, Jessica and I continued our convoy west.

We were itching for the sea, so we plotted a course to the nearest beach in Texas.

Splendid weather and good roads made the drive a breeze and before we knew it we were on the Gulf Coast of Texas!

And in proper Texas style we BBQ'd up some awesome burgers!

Taking it all in.

We were a week in New Orleans, and to make the most of it we opted to party hard on every second night. Very wise.
With our off days we had a chance to savour more Southern food, Love that catfish!

Seated here, Cory, Rebecca, Jessica, Patrick, Peter.

We also enjoyed some wonderful group meals in the Argosy, Great fried banana's 'Becca!

An absolute highlight for me was going to a wonderful jazz show at the world famous Preservation Hall.
Later that night we heard lots more jazz on Frenchmen Street.

And of course, what's New Orleans without a stiff drink in a kooky plastic glass?

New Orleans!

Bourbon Street
A quick run into New Orleans in the morning.
We stopped in at a well known Land Rover parts supplier, RDS Parts,  for a few bits and the owner, George kindly let us stay in his gated lot, just a few minutes from downtown.

Unhitched and off to Bourbon street!
I was here about a decade ago with my wife, we had a wonderful time and we swore we'd return every year. Sadly this is my first trip back.

Lower Ninth Ward

We really enjoyed exploring the French Quarter and even went over to the Lower Ninth Ward where some of the worst losses from Hurricane Katrina were. Block after block empty, every house gone. Some new houses were being built, all on stilts and many rather,... well,... odd. To my taste anyway

Patrick's sister Rebecca and her boyfriend Cory joined us. They're on a road trip counter clockwise, and New Orleans worked out as a great place to meet up.

They're also towing a Boler trailer, but with a Volvo. For those who aren't familiar with these lovely little fiberglass trailers, They were made in western Canada and have become very collectable. Recently there are a number of similar trailers being made, Scamp being the most notable.

My Argosy looks like a big Boler, or they look like tiny Argosys?

We all went down to Frenchman Streen, which is arguably the new Bourbon, patronized several bars, and ended up closing a piano bar, yes a piano bar! The guy was awesome!

In standard New Orleans tradition, the best hangover cure is beignets at Café du Monde.
They're sort of doughnuts, sort of fritters, but all deep fried yummy, with lots of icing sugar and a café au lait.

Mobile Alabama

We made an early start and headed west in convoy heading for New Orleans.
Lovely weather and an easy drive, now this is  the life.
Patrick can only go about 50-55mph which is actually quicker than I thought, so it made a nice comfortable drive for me.

I think we were both shocked to find I'm getting about 10% better fuel economy than Patrick with his stock Rover. Even though he's towing a little Boler trailer!
Love my 4.3 Chev engine!

We only had one brief stop to change the fuel pump in Patrick's truck, easy fix and we're off again.

We went into downtown Mobile Alabama for dinner, great southern BBQ spot. Then off to a Wal-Mart for the night.

Ichetucknee Springs

It's WARM, really WARM.
Oh to feel the sun on your face!
To sit and relax on a warm Florida afternoon with a cold beer and the company of friends,....Lovely.

Well as lovely as the morning after a reunion can be,..

First order of business, after Ibuprofen, was to swap the axles on the Argosy.

The old axles had sagged and lost all spring.
So every bump tortured the poor old coach. Now it should ride nice and smooth, and they're heavy duty to carry the immense loads I have planned for this trailer.

I still have to install new water tanks, but that's a more involved job.
I'm setting the trailer up for extended periods without hookups, no I've got 80 gallons of fresh water, 50 of grey water and 50 of black water.
However if they were all full at the same time, very unlikely, they'd weight about 1500 lbs!

We carted the old axles off on the back of Patrick's Rover.

To ease the limited storage in the back of the truck I installed a classic Land Rover hood mount for the spare tyre, but I don't have the special dished hood so the tire sits high, in fact my tyres are so big it wouldn't fit in the dished hood anyway,...

I 95

I had intended to take my time noodling down the coast through the fall. Now that I'm in the peak on winter I'm looking to get south as quickly as possible, and that means Interstate 95,...

Now I don't mind driving in heavy traffic, or nasty freezing rain, or even towing a big trailer with an antique truck, but all at once, while dealing with the peculiarities of the Boston - Washington section of the I95. That makes for a long hard day.

I took advantage of staying at Wal-Mart's, not ideal, but they're everywhere! and you can arrive really late. Had an interesting stay in Philadelphia, late at night, pouring rain, heavy traffic and my GPS sends me down an off ramp into industrial Philly! Trying desperately to get back on the Interstate while leaning out the window spraying windshield washer fluid from a squirt bottle, I pulled into a vacant lot to regroup.
Turned out to be a Wal-Mart. not the greatest location but after an interesting chat with the lot attendant I figured it was OK.
I did sleep but not much, yelling, screaming, tires screeching, Woo Hoo, Philly at night!

Somewhere around New York I started hearing the familiar rumble of a U joint on the way out.
I was determined to make it to Florida, meet up with Patrick and Jessica and swap it out at my leisure in sunny climes.

Then just as I pulled out of a gas station in South Carolina, CRUNCH, and I couldn't ignore it any longer.

Luckily, the weather was lovely and the local auto parts place had the part and lent me a U joint press. I pulled the rear drive shaft, engaged four wheel drive and went over in front wheel drive, gingerly, it's a big load for a stock Rover diff. Swapped out the U joint in their parking
lot which amused them and set off.

Then into Florida!
Picked up my solar panels I'd had shipped to a very kind Land Rover enthusiast and west to find Patrick and Jessica.

Home again

Back to Saint John to pick up the coach. It was wonderful to be back in the Argosy. Although it was stuck in a snow bank!
Thankfully Tony had gone to great lengths to plow around it in my extended absence. But I was grateful for the winch to get it out!

A few quick preparations and a day lost to yet another ice storm and we were finally on our way south.

An easy border crossing was a relief and on to Neil's yet again. A few trips to the pub and a good night's sleep set me up for the toad ahead, the I95,....

In the morning we loaded up the new water tanks for the Argosy that I'd had shipped to Neil's as well as the two new axles that I'd picked up in New York state my last trip through.

I had thought I'd install the axles here but that was months ago, and it's way too cold now.
Better job for Florida.

Too cold for canvas

As I'd been planning to head south in October, I set off with my full length canvas roof, known as a "tilt" or "hood". In warm weather it's lovely to roll the sides up and enjoy the shade. But driving in frigid temperatures in Montreal, Toronto and the upcoming run down the I95 really isn't well suited for the terrible visibility and draughty roof.
So I opted to install my pickup cab, easy to heat and great visibility. Only I needed to get a tonneau cover made to protect all the gear in the truck bed. To have the tonneau made I had to remove the canvas top, but I still had to finish rebuilding the pickup ca, so for a week or so I drove the truck topless in Montreal! In January!
Took my girls out for a few romps in the snow, good fun!

At long last I got the hundred or so rivets in the cab and got it installed, oh what a pleasure to drive now!


Photo stolen from the web, too cold to take my own!
I took the opportunity to run up to Toronto for a week as see some wonderful old friends. What I didn't count on was some of the nastiest, bitter weather ever seen in TO.
As a result I parked the truck and hibernated inside but for very few outings, one to a splendid pub a block and a half away, had it been two blocks away they could have chiseled us out of the snow bank haven frozen to death.

My old '71 bus on Cherry Beach Toronto.

Me in my old VW bus, living in Toronto circa 1980.
I lived in Toronto for a year 33 years ago in a Volkswagen bus. It was a wonderful time.

I stayed mostly on Cherry Beach, as seen here.
It was a wonderful time, I loved that old bus!

As a Montrealer I was always quick to dismiss Toronto, as all so many Canadians tend to do.
But Toronto has become a really great metropolis.

My friend took me for a great afternoon tour of all my old stomping grounds, much has changed, and much is the same.

I owe it a proper visit in better weather. And of course to see more of my TO friends.


I've been in Montreal these past months with my Father. He's fought prostate cancer for 20 years, making him a survivor. He outlived his initial diagnosis by 17 years, allowing him to watch his granddaughters grow up and so much more. I've been so grateful to have been able to spend these last few months with him. Dad died just before Christmas, with his loving wife at his side.

My Daughters were able to come up to Montreal for the memorial and their mother came a week earlier, she too was with Dad when he died.

That's Dad and I in London in 1963.
He played that old National guitar all my life. It's mine now and I cherish it.

The memorial was wonderful with so many old friends and family.

Now it's time to go south,...

But first a quick trip to Toronto.

Quick trip home

I drove back to Nova Scotia and had a lovely night in the pub with my daughters for my birthday. It was great to see them.

it's a wonderful thing when a parent can be so proud and confident in their children.
These two are a great joy in my life.

On the way back to Saint John, where my trailer is stored while I'm in Montreal, I caught up with Patrick and Jessica. Friends from Home that are also on a Land Rover road trip. Originally they were going to catch up with me but being delayed I'll join them in the south in the new year. In the meantime however, they need a new engine. Which is annoying as they just swapped in a thought to be good engine the week before.
A few days in Tony's shop and all was well.
They carried on south and I returned to Montreal.

Old haunts

Having a little free time I took the opportunity to tour around some of my old haunts. All the places I've lived and favorite hangouts.
Montreal in a lovely city to know well, so many great places are hidden away and off the beaten track. And these tend to be the sort of places that don't change with the times as much. One landmark from my youth is the old Westmount train station. Sadly abandoned by the railway and even by the city of Westmount which amazes me. It's a lovely building in an amazing location but it's completely overrun.

I was born in London England and grew up in Montreal. That's me in about 1964 with my mum and her mum. God doesn't she look 1963, just back from
London. I lived in this greystone until my mid teens.

Driving by today the house is largely unchanged except for the neighborhood having become outrageously expensive.

The first house I owned was about a block away, but much less noble! One of only a few wooden houses in Westmount it was a great start for our young family. But it eventually became too small as our family grew and Nova Scotia beckoned.

 I took some pictures of the old wooden house but all you can see are the trees that now surround it. Amazing spot!

I was also very glad to have the opportunity to spend some time with old friends. Here's Geordie goofing with Neil and Sandy.