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Good Until July

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Saturday June 11th 2011
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The good bee weather continues at home.  Meantime, in Brandon, I awoke at 5 AM, aroused from sleep by loud voices outside the motel room window.  As is often the case, smokers rent non-smoking rooms, and have to go outside if they want to smoke.  When I looked out, I saw a man a and a woman standing outside their room smoking and talking. The woman had a loud voice and talked non-stop.  This is not the first time I have had the experience in motels.  I should use my earplugs, I guess.

I tried to get back to sleep, but couldn't and so Zippy and I hit the road again.  Fifteen hours later we checked into the White River Motel just before dark.  In the meantime, we had a few adventures, and many hours of boring driving.

Shortly after pulling out of Brandon, I smelled smoke, and my radio quit.  That is odd, I thought.  At Prawda, east of Winnipeg, I stopped for a break and  figured out that a fuse had blown.  It seems that my little Wal-Mart inverter, used for charging my phone, had shorted and taken out the accessory fuse.  I changed the fuse and plugged in my larger inverter and all was well.  Radio and especially Sirius "Radio Classics" make the miles melt away.  I should download some talking books.  I'm looking at Audible.com, but know there are some free sources, too.  I'll have to look them up.

Bell and Koodo have little or no coverage from Dryden through the Soo, so cell and 3G+ is spotty.  I depend on Internet for GasBuddy.com, so until I got a little coverage on Koodo in Thunder bay, I had to buy what I could find.  Whereas, in Regina, I paid $1.17, I paid $1.41 east of TB and $1.52 in Chapleau!   GasBuddy savings alone pay for my mobile Internet every month.

Somewhere around Upsala, I got so tired that I simply had to pull onto the shoulder right where I was to take a power nap.  My  eyes would just  not stay open, and even if they would, I was lapsing and knew that if I did not stop right away I would blank out for long enough to have a mishap.  I can only recall once before, up by the Rogers Pass one night, where I realized that there was absolutely no choice but to stop immediately and sleep for a moment.  I pulled over and may have only slept five minutes, but awoke fresh and was wide awake from then on.

I had planned to take the US route, as the distance appears to be the same but the roads are less hilly and the gas is cheaper down there.  Memories of the hour-long line-up at the Soo bridge to get back into Canada and the thought of not having my Canadian mobile Internet led me to choose the Trans-Canada, however.  As it happens, though, I had little Internet east of Falcon Lake anyhow.  Bell Canada has little coverage in that region which is served by some small provider with which apparently they have no agreement.  Grrr.  One more reason to hate Bell.

My navigation software on the Tab and cell phone did not even seem to know about the Canadian route until I was east of Kenora and it kept trying to take me south.  The trip is 2890 kilometers by the Canadian route and 2820 by the US route.  Allowing for errors and detours, there is no difference, except that the southern route takes me into a foreign country and exposes me to the indignity and uncertainty of border crossing twice.  As they say, better the devil you know.

     

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Sunday June 12th 2011
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I'm on the home stretch now.  A mere 531 kilometers remain ahead from White River to Sudbury -- a little over five hours.

Maybe I should have looked more closely at the route my map software chose for me, though.  As it happens, instead of taking me along main highway through the North Shore, it took me inland.  That shaved 100 km off the distance, but it took me over 80 km of gravel and washboard.  I know the North Shore route well, and decided to take the inland route for novelty, but what I saved in  time, I lost in car washes, wear and tear and in paying $1.52 per litre in Chapleau.  No matter: now I can take visiting Chapleau and Sultan off my bucket list, where they were right near the bottom.

What I did miss out on by going inland was dropping in at the North Shore Yacht Club and visiting Ken & Myra at the Soo.  At any rate, it was an adventure, and I was not in a rush to make miles since I was close to the destination.

I arrived after lunch and settled in, then and Mom and I had supper and watched a movie on her new TV.

I now have two vans in her driveway.  I wondered if I would like my 1998 van less, now that I have them side by side, so I took the 98 for a spin.  It is still a great ride.  I love them both.  The '98, not being a sport model has a cushier ride and being a 3.8, it gets much better fuel economy, too -- 20% better in spite of the larger and older engine.

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Monday June 13th 2011
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I slept well and was up around 8.  The weather here is cool and damp, but the forecast is for hot weather mid-week. 

My cellphone rang this morning .  It was my neighbour back home in Swalwell reporting that someone was driving my forklift.  I had forgotten to mention to her that I have told Matt that he can borrow it anytime.  He has a job in town right now and used it once already.  It is good to know that she is keeping an eye out for trouble.  I had asked her to do that.

I figured out my fuel cost for the trip: $455.  The tanks was not full when I set out, though, so maybe figure $400.  With hotels, add $150, for a $550 total.  It took three days.  I could have taken two or three people along for the same cost, but for one, it is not the cheap way to travel, unless, of course you have a dog and an outboard you want to take along.

I can see, with airfare quoted at $364, even with taxis at $75, I am not making money driving.  I'd have arrived the same day, if I flew.  I would not have the extra vehicle here or the outboard motor, but I would not have to drive back sometime, either.   I figure that the time spent was time I spent on an adventure.

I am not figuring in any cost for wear and tear, either, and it is probably at least a few hundred dollars, even on a $3,500 machine like this, or risk, or time spent.  Driving is far riskier and far more stressful than flying.

After supper, I visited Linda for an hour, then went to Canadian Tire and Wickendens' for a few minutes.

I heard from Jonathan and the Finland trip is going well.

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Tuesday June 14th 2011
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Zip and I went to Wickendens' for a short visit, then I had lunch with Mom at Eddy's and we visited the hearing centre on the way home.  At Bill's, I borrowed a jack and some blocks for the transmission oil change I have to do on the 98 van. 

I drove the 98 today and have to say that the 98 is much smoother riding than the 02.  I'll never buy a sport model again.  The air-conditioning on the 98 has quit again.  Out of charge again, I guess.

I see that Windows 7 has 23 updates for me today, 101 MB in all!.

After lunch, I slept and hour, then got to work on the van.  It was simple to jack it up and I dropped the pan.  There, I found the usual gunk and a few larger filings, but nothing too bad.  I found about the same in the other Chrysler tranny, but a bit less in the Toyota.  I have to wonder where these little pieces come from.  On the red van, the chunk looked like a small chip off  a bearing roller and I suspect the same on  this one, but the shavings were smaller. 

I have seen bearings run a long time with chips out of them.  They tend to be a bit noisier, but work fine, so I'm hoping...  We never know the future, regardless of the signs. 

Changing oil often precedes a tranny failure, but the reason is that either a reverse flush was done, the wrong oil was used (some garages use Dexron, which is much cheaper, in Mopar vehicles.  That is a very definite no-no, since Dexron lacks some very important features, or the owner was seeing problems and decided to try a last-ditch fix by belatedly changing the oil.  I did have one odd shift with this one last summer when returning with the boat, so that could be the case here.  We never know.  I have roadside assistance with towing up to 100 miles for both van and trailer, but hope never to need it.  I'm also reconciled to paying up to $2,000 for a new tranny, worst case.

The oil was quite dark.  They say colour is not important, but it can be an indicator of age, and I have never changed it.  The van has almost 300,000 km on it, so I figure after the 50,000 km I have added over almost 6 years, and towing my boat, which is bigger than the van, it is about time.   I should do the cooling system, too.  That is next.

I replaced the pan and filled the transmission with oil, then pulled off the transmission cooler lines and idled the engine to run oil out the cooler line outlet fitting through a clear hose adding back new oil every litre or so until the oil in the hose ran red and I had used the whole ten litres I bought.  The transmission capacity, dry, is 9.1 litres. 

The idea is to change all the fluid without disassembling, flushing, it or blowing out the oil in the torque converter.  I checked the fluid level, found it was fine, and drove down the road and back.  It all seems good.

By then it was dusk, since I had supper in the meantime and also had to run out for more supplies.   Obviously, considering how long it took, I am not making money doing it myself.  At least, though, I know if the job is screwed up, who did it and why.  I don't think I screwed up, and I know that did it right.  I also changed the air filter.

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Wednesday June 15th 2011
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Today, I'm off to Rock Island Lodge on Teepee 2300 at Whitefish Falls.  I have a sked with Bill at 100 hrs on VE3RMI and he will be picking me up in the boat for the trip to the island.

Well, Mom and I chatted a bit longer than I planned, so I was a bit late arriving at the landing after shopping along the way but we met up without a hitch and ran out to the island on Bill's pontoon boat.

We spent a pleasant afternoon visiting and swimming, then barbequed steaks for supper.  It's a while since I've been here.

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Thursday June 16th 2011
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We slept late, had breakfast, then Bill and I went hunting for firewood.  There are lots of dead oaks down along the the shore, so we took the boat and the chainsaw and brought back a good supply. 

.

Just before we pushed of to return with the load, we cut one last dead oak and it lodged, jamming the chainsaw bar tight.  We left the chain there and went for lunch, hoping the tree would fall while we were gone, but it was still standing when we returned.  We had enough rope this time, though, and we were able to pull it down without a mishap.  Felling trees can be very dangerous, since they may fall in unexpected directions and the butt can kick back a long ways, or spin, especially if the tree hits another tree on the way down.

In the lupine patch at camp, I saw more bumblebees per square yard than I have ever seen anywhere.

I'm headed back to Sudbury after supper tonight.  Tomorrow, I prepare for the trip to Port Carling.  I have to decide whether to take the boat or not and whether to leave a van in Muskoka.  If I do, then Mom has to drive down in her car so we can drive back together

The weather here (left) is gorgeous and I'm at risk of sunburn.  Meanwhile, the Alberta weather (above right) looks less pleasant, although bees can do very well in these conditions.  I'm glad I left them with lots of food, though.  I'm hoping they build up well by the time I am ready to split again on July 1.

Looks like a bit of rain tomorrow here, but the weekend promises to be sunny.  Opening the cottage is more pleasant if the weather is clear.  I see the pine pollen is still coming down here, but hopefully it is finished further south since we will need to put the veranda furniture out.

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Friday June 17th 2011
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Today I am organizing and getting ready to drive to Port carling tomorrow.  I have a few errands to run and need to sort through the bins I carry in the black van.  I have to get a replacement pressure washer, too.  This one froze last winter.

I bought a washer at Wal-Mart, then went to Canadian Tire and found a superior model on sale for half price, so I bought it too.   I'll ponder which to keep.  I also ran a few other errands.  It was a hot, muggy day and I found I was exhausted.  I went home, lay down and fell asleep, only to be awoken by barking.  Zippy was alarmed because the neighbours were having a patio party.  The weather may be cool in  Alberta, but it is hot here.  I couldn't fall asleep again, so I had a swim.  That helped.

After supper, I retrieved y battery from Canadian Tire where I had left it to be tested.  It tested OK, and that surprised me because the automatic battery charger never seemed to indicate a full charge and go into the resting state.  It tested at 690 out of the rated 750 amps in their sophisticated battery test.

Then I packed the van.  Mom likes to travel early in the day.  We had considered having here drive separately so I could take the boat and leave a van at Pine Hill, but decided that we will just drive down in the van and open the cottage, leaving the boat hauling for later.

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Saturday June 18th 2011
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Today, I'm up at 0400, getting ready to drive to Port Carling.  I still have to pack my clothes.

We left at 7 and arrived at Pine Hill around 10.  The place gets dirty over winter, but was worse than usual this year.  Sarah arrived by lunchtime and by super, we had a good start on the job.

Sarah and I lowered the boat and left it on the slings to soak up.  Wooden boats leak a lot until the wood swells up and seals the cracks.  This boat leaks a lot at first, but is quite dry once it has been in a while.  The slings prevent sinking in the first few hours.

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Sunday June 19th 2011
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We have a beautiful day here in Muskoka.   The re is a slight breeze and the prediction is for perfect weather.  There is lots to do today before Sarah heads back to Toronto.  Mom and I will stay here until Monday night, at least.

Meanwhile, back in Alberta, the weather continues cool and rainy.  Joe writes that they picked up my Saskatraz breeder queen from Albert and that it is waiting at their place.  It looks as if my splits will be made with Saskatraz queens.

We continued the cottage cleanup an then ran to Bracebridge in the afternoon to buy a mattress for Sarah.  After supper, she left to drive back to Toronto, leaving Mom and me and Zippy to finish the job.

We have heard a lot of talk by people who really don't know, but think they do about Global Warming.  It is hardly news to those who have a clue about history, but now we are being told that a mini ice age is a distinct possibility in the coming years.  Fact is, nobody knows.

While continued warming is seen to promise problems developing  over time, a mini ice age, and in particular, a year without summer, would cause immediate global pandemonium.   It has happened before, but not with a world so heavily populated and interconnected.  While cooling means no food, the warming we have experienced over the past several thousand years is directly responsible for making increased areas of the earth's landmass hospitable to agriculture and human civilization.

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