Tag: Leisure Travel Freedom

VanLife - Port Colborne Ontario

Port Colborne – Explore Canal Side

Once again this weekend Michelle and I were able to get away and explore some of the areas we love.  Port Colborne is certainly one of those places!  There is a little stretch from the last bridge on the canal to Lake Erie that is simply adorable.  It reminds me of Mahone Bay in Nova Scotia minus the salt water.  Turn left as you cross over the Clarence Street bridge onto West Street.  There are these quaint little shops with this atmosphere of a small seaside village.  I think if we were to come off the road early, it would be for one the little apartments above the various businesses on this street.

Canal Side – Port Colborne

Port Colborne – Canalside Restaurant

If you have been to Port Colborne before you will know the dual meaning in the header above.  Yes, you are certainly canal side, but there is this small Restaraunt/Pub about three doors down from the corner perfectly named for this adventure, “Canal Side“.  It was late when we arrived, but the barkeep was very pleasant and helpful  Michelle was looking for something to eat, and I a new experience in Beer.  I am ever hopeful I will find a place that knows what beer is all about!  Craft beer, something with body and flavour.  I have been surrounded by stock beer since returning to Canada and having lived in some of the places I have…I long for a good beer!  The barkeep knew his stuff, he had experience working in Banff and boy did he know his beer!

After our stop at the restaurant, we headed out to Freddy and for what we hoped would be a good sleep.  Having been in the Navy for 20 years, I love the sounds of the water of boats and birds.   Throughout the night, I could hear the screams of seagulls and the sounds of boats on the canal.  I was brought back to another time in my life, a time filled with many wonderful memories!

Port Colborne – Freedom Freddy

I knew Michelle would want to sleep in, so my original plan was to wake up around 4:30 am, and head out to shoot some sunrise images with the canal as my background.  As my alarm sounded its cry to wake, I just could not bring myself to get out of my bed.  With the good early morning light behind me, I decided to make a cup of coffee and venture out.  I was hoping to capture a couple of good images and I think things worked out wonderfully!

Deep Sea Bearing Down

It was not long after setting up my tripod and camera that I rewarded with a subject worthy of shooting.  I love shooting images of water, there needs to be some kind of water in the capture.  As I stood on the edge of the canal, I saw the pilot boat return to the dock, and sure enough, the “Federal Rideau” entered the mouth of the canal.

Port Colborne - Canal Side
Port Colborne – Canal Side

I had everything set up, I just needed to have the patience to wait for his approach so he filled the whole frame.  I hoped he would be a worthy subject and I an equally worthy photographer.  Once he passed under the bridge I returned to Freddy so I could make Michelle breakfast as I try to do for her every weekend.  With the weather being perfect this morning we decided to venture out on our “deck” and enough our meal outside.

Let us know what you think of our post.  Let us know of any of your cool or not so cool boondocking experiences!  We just finished shooting out Van Tour Video so keep an eye out for that on our YouTube Channel.




VanLife - Fort Erie Explored - Poster

Fort Erie Explored – Beautiful Border Town

Michelle and I spent the long weekend on the run which seems the norm now.  I completed work late afternoon on Friday, but Michelle had to work on Saturday and Monday, so with broken days like this, we needed to stay close to home.  We decided to head back to Fort Erie to explore the old town right on the Niagara River.  I used Google Maps to search out what I thought would be a good place to boondock.

Fort Erie Explored - Abandoned Building
Fort Erie Explored – Abandoned Building

There is something romantic about these small border towns.  With the old building in what I call the town centre in Fort Erie reminds me of some of the bars, I frequented while in the Royal Canadian Navy when we would sail up into New Westminster in BC. Old, run down and dirty are the only words that come to mind, but dirty in the sense of old greyed or weathered area.

Old Fort Erie on the Niagara Parkway

Our first stop was at the boat launch just next to Nicolls Marine, there is a nice little parking lot right on the Niagara River.  It was so peaceful, a couple of people fishing and someone shooting bird pictures with what looked like a Canon 70 – 200mm lens.   Sadly the first sign we see plain as day was indicating that there was no parking between Midnight and 6 AM.  We contemplated spending the night in the Parking lot, I mean after all how far and how often does the Niagara Parks Police patrol the river.  In the end, we felt it best if we did not get on anyone’s radar if you follow me.

I thought that the road was quiet enough we could simply pull out and park on the street.  There are no signs indicating that there was no parking there overnight.  Michelle noticed an old building almost directly across the road with a for sale sign in the window and was obviously empty.  This building had a perfect place for us to boondock for the night.  The lot was dark, though close to a street light, and with a gentle rain very peaceful place to sleep.

Back to the River First Thing in the Morning

Once morning came, we could not help but return to the boat ramp to enjoy the birds diving into the water hunting for a good fish for their breakfast.  I made a pot of coffee for Michelle and me, and our breakfast cereal.  As our lazy morning moved forward we decided to take a walk around the area.  One of my loves is shooting Street Photography though there were not many people, there were some fabulous old buildings and signs to record.   I could not help but feel like I was back in New Westminster walking along the Fraser River past the old buildings, that housed the crazy busy bars the night before.   I have very fond memories of that time in my life.

Fort Erie Explored - River Side Bar
Fort Erie Explored – River Side Bar

The one thing that stood out, was the lack of people.  Realising it was a Sunday early afternoon, the riverside bars and restaurants were empty, void of people.  This would not be the case in New West or Vancouver.  The Brunch crowd would be packing in these areas with not a seat left open.  I guess this is why the downtown area of Fort Erie seems dead, void of a future of prosperity.  Though when I come to think of it many areas in the Niagara Region are the same way.

I love watching Michelle explore the area.  Everything is new for her, she especially loves being down near the water.  I know she still thinks every body of water we come by is salt water.   I know I miss being near the ocean.  The smell of the sea air, there is something so heart warming being near the ocean.  If you get an opportunity head down to the area, visit the restaurants, or have a beer in at the bar.  Help bring back the area, it is really quite lovely.

Next weekend there will be a new adventure in a different area of the Niagara Region.  Maybe we will explore Niagara on the Lake or should we try Port Colborne?  See you out there, stop by and say hi!

VanLife - Waverly Beach Park

Waverly Beach Park – Fort Erie Boondocking

Mother Day’s weekend was pretty awesome!  Though Michelle had to work on Saturday, this gave me plenty of time to get some upgrades to Freddy completed.  Afterwards, we headed to Fort Erie to boondock in the parking lot of the Waverly Beach Park.  If there is one thing we both miss is the sound of the Ocean, and since we are currently living in Ontario we will have to be satisfied with the sounds of Lake Erie!

Waverly Beach Park and Friendship Trail

VanLife - Waverly Beach Park
Waverly Beach Park – Sunset

This is the first area where I took Michelle after arriving in Canada to go exploring.  Being an avid photographer, the park affords an excellent opportunity to shoot some water scenes with sunrises and sunsets as well as some pack ice.   When we first arrived we were careful to see what the rules were at the Park.  Whether we could boondock for the night or would there be another knock on Freddy.  The parking lot says it closes at 23:00, but after speaking to a couple of different people, they indicated it is not unusual for cars to be here longer.

As usual, I prepared my camera equipment, while Michelle was more intent on just taking some time to enjoy the peace, fresh air and the sand on the beach.  Lake Erie in May is a far cry from the beaches in the Philippines but it would have to do this time.  For photography, I find it challenging to find a good composition.  We have some of the factors I love in images, sand, water and beautiful colours in the sky.  It can be challenging to find good foreground interest.  You know what they say though, “a bad day doing landscape photography is better than a good day at work anytime!” 

Boondocking, Parking, Urban Camping

VanLife - Waverly Beach Park
Waverly Beach Park – Freddy

I think it is safe to say that one can boondock at Waverly Beach Park quite easily.  Though I think it would be one of the places where you one night no problems, two nights should be ok, but the third night you might be pushing it!  I have to say it was a nice break from our weekly routine of our day parking routine and sleeping in the local Walmart parking lot.  One of the nice things about where we chose to boondock is there is a public washroom (comfort room) with running water, though the sink water is still isolated due to the time of the year.

Directions to Waverly Beach Park is really very easy.  You will need to take the QEW towards Fort Erie, and head towards the Peace Bridge.  You will pass Ext 5, which is the FlyingJ Truck stop with Sani dump facilities and remain on the Hwy until Ext 2.  Take that Ext, and keep to the right as you come off the hwy.  You will turn right and travel towards Lake Erie.  You will pass the LCBO, a Walmart if memory serves me correct and if you remain on this road it will take you right into the parking lot of the trail.  Really pretty simple!

 

 Mothers Day at Waverly Beach

It just so happened that Sunday was Mothers Day, and Michelle is a fantastic mother, needed a little pampering!  It must be so difficult with Iya and Nicole still being in the Philippines, and Michelle here in Canada.  She is the strongest woman I have ever met!  She always tries to find the best in all situations and people.  But during those special moments, you see the upset in her eyes, though she tries to hide it.

VanLife - Mothers Day
Mother’s Day at Waverly Beach Park

Iya and Nicole sent me a special message for Michelle’s Mother’s Day card, so I was sure to add that for her.   Michelle’s Mother’s Day was healthy breakfast in bed, fresh coffee and the beautiful views of Waverly Beach!  We will certainly be returning to this area to explore and enjoy some peace and quiet.  If you have a place you find peaceful, be sure to let us know!!

Boondocking in a Van

VanLife Boondocking in the Niagara Region

Boondocking in a Van
VanLife Boondocking

As Easter weekend in coming to a close, Michelle and I took Freddy out for a shake done cruise around the area.  We specifically were looking for experience in the area for VanLife Boondocking.  From our research, Ontario is not the place to boondock.  We started slowly, wanting to feel things out.  Friday had us head off to the local Walmart to purchase some of the much-needed items to make Freddy our comfortable home.  We found some great deals on bedding, pots and pans, and other items we felt were important.

VanLife Boondocking

After the shopping excursion, the rest of the day was spent setting things up.  Michelle had such a big smile on her face as we worked to bring our new home together.  Putting away things in places we feel would work, and to organise our tiny home on wheels.  We headed over to the Lowe’s parking lot right near the Starbucks Michelle works at, because she needed to go to work in the early evening.

Michelle wanted to nap before her shift, so we opened the roof vent, closed the curtains and crawled into bed.  No one seemed to notice us at the back of the parking lot.  Our first boondocking seemed to be working well!

Michelle’s shift was until 22:30, and it just so happened our home was just outside her work door.  It was perfect, out she came, climbed into Freddy and we drove off.  My first thought was to head down to the old Tallship near Jordan River to enjoy a sunrise over Lake Ontario.  It was late, and Michelle had to work in the morning so we thought better of it.  Instead, we headed down the QEW towards Fort Erie and decided to stay at the Flying J at exit 5.

Flying J Truck Stop – Boondocking Heaven!

Boondocking
VanLife Boondocking

Ok, I know a Truck stop is not really boondocking, but for a couple of newbies, it’s a great place to start.  Flying J’s have showers, laundries, Sani dumps ($10.00) as well as a restaurant if you’re tired of cooking. Oh, and they make a mean pizza!!

Once we arrived, the first words out of Michelle’s mouth was “Pizza Hun”, so we went in, used the Comfort Room, and I got Michelle and couple of slices of pizza.  Afterwards, we headed off to the parking lot to find our place to spend the night.  With it being a long weekend, there were so many good open spots for us. I decided to head way down to the back of the lot, near the Oil and Lube place and backed into the parking spot with our bedroom facing the highway.  We crawled into bed, and off to sleep, we went!  How I know Michelle had a good time, take a look at the smile on this ladies face!  Is there any doubt she loved the weekend of firsts!

 

Van Life in Leisure Travel Freedom!

Freedom Freddy

Van Life in Leisure Travel Freedom!
Freedom Freddy – The View from my Bedroom Window

As you know we are the proud owners of a Class B Motorhome.  Over the past week we have been having Freedom Freddy safetied and last night Michelle did a fantastic cleaning.  Last night we worked into the wee hours of the evening packing him up and getting things arranged.  This, in my opinion, is the most important part, as every little nook and cranny need to be utilised.

Freedom Freddy

Having a difficult time coming up with a good name for the Freedom, the task dropped into Michelle’s lap.  I know she hates it when I do that, but I am pretty easy going when it comes to these sort of things.  Plus she is the creative and talented one in this relationship so sucks to be her!  I think it was around 1 AM last night, lying in bed, she says, Freddy, yeah Freedom Freddy!  So, there we have it, a name is born!

The one last thing we needed to get to work for us was the insertion of the storage unit that had come as a free extra for Freddy.  This was going to be contentious as it turns out.  Everyone eager to help, a grinder and sledgehammer and about 5 hours of wasted time things just would not fit.  It’s funny as I remember as a child a square peg does not fit into a round hole, and a hammer does not make it work.

The View From My Bedroom Window

Freedom Freddy - The View from my Bedroom Window
Freedom Freddy – The View from my Bedroom Window

Being an avid photographer, everything I seem to think about is how can I put myself in a position to shoot more pictures.  So this will be something I will use to plan my Boondocking spots for our weekends.  We want to sleep to a stunning sunset or wake to a stunning sunrise.  That is the view we will be striving to find each weekend.  We are not so interested in looking out our window to the fenced-in yard but rather a huge expanse of heart-stopping scenery.

 

So as Life Goes

Since moving back closer to family, I notice one thing that is new to me.  The judgement, the looking down one’s nose at you for your decisions, wants or lifestyle.  It is very irritating for me, especially since I believe and live a life of no judgement.  I have to say though, with the continued judgement, and drunken ramblings it keeps me motivated to make this just one stop in a life-long need to journey.  It’s been 30 some odd years since living close to anyone, and I think I needed to journey back, but it is certainly time to journey on.

Freedom Freddy - The View from my Bedroom Window
Freedom Freddy – The View from my Bedroom Window

If you have an image you would like to share, by all means, send it through and we will feature your “View From My Bedroom Window” so people can see the beauty of the world.  Want to be critical, by all means, click the forward button, who needs closed minded people in your life.!

Enjoy!!

 

On the Hunt for a Class B Motorhome

On the Hunt for a Class B Motorhome

It’s been a long few weeks, I’ve been on the hunt for a class B motorhome.  Not just any Class B, but the one that Michelle and I can enter into our time to explore living in a van.   We have searched and searched but we have not had a lot of luck.  We have a modest budget which certainly does not help our search, but here are some of the examples available.

On the Hunt for a Class B Motorhome

On the Hunt for a Class B Motorhome
Sun’N Fun RV Centre; On the Hunt for a Class B Motorhome

The first class B we wanted to inspect was a 1987 van with about 90K KM on the engine.  Very very over priced and was for sale at an RV Center.  I was shocked on the poor customer service at the centre.  Having a 10 years experience in sales, I would have been spoken to by the shops’ owner if I handled any customers in the manner in which we were handled.  Though in the end, it really made no difference, as the van was not worth the $15,200.00 dollars they were asking for it, and there was no room to reduce that price.

The second Class B we looked at was the Diamond in the Rough.  For more detailed information about this van check out the post “The Diamond Certainly was Rough“.  Just a small review, the dry rot, water damage, spongy floor, and the leaking oil pan was the final straw.

1996 Leisure Travel Wide Body

We went today to inspect a 1996 Leisure Travel Wide Body class B in the Belleville area.  It is kind of ironic since I lived in Belleville for a few years when I was a teenager, and I always loved the area.  Last summer my friend Pat and I were down in this area shooting pictures for a weekend and actually drove past this gentleman’s house.   Bryn, my niece’s husband came along with me to help check this old girl out.  As soon we approached the driveway, I was almost 100 percent sure this was out girl.  She was looking great from the street.  She had great lines and a beautiful shape to her.  Not a speck of rust anywhere that I could find, which was very important.  Glenn, the current owner was very helpful giving me a tour of the all the compartments, and Bryn checked out the mechanics of the motorhome.

We took our time checking out each appliance, opened the awning, and took her for a test drive.  She ran so well, and the old Dodge van feeling was fantastic.  Once we returned to Glenn’s place, we headed down to the lake, so we could discuss what we were going to offer.  Glenn was asking $15,000.00 E-tested, but with no safety.  The tires would pass the safety but need replacing, so Bryn and I set a price we wanted, and I followed his lead.  My task was to sit there and just be quiet.  After some small talk, Bryn came in and offered $11,000.   Glenn thought for a minute and came back with $11,500.  I was happy to pay the $11.5 but to my amazement, Bryn stood his ground with $11 and that is where it stayed!

Our Hunt for a Class B Motorhome is Complete!!

On the Hunt for a Class B Motorhome
On the Hunt for a Class B Motorhome

Michelle and I are proud owners of a Leisure Travel Freedom Class B motorhome.   We will be taking possession next week.  We hope to be living in it full time by the end of April.  Check back in a couple of weeks and we will have a fantastic Vlog tour of our girl!