So, let me start by saying this blog is designed primarily to be an update for our relatives and friends, but I am also aware of the vast amount of information that can be helpful to other travellers, as it has been for me from other blogs and sites. I am going to try and balance interesting with informative, and leave out the boring, not something I’ve managed to achieve in my life to date, but hey, how hard can it be!
So, it’s begun and things are going not quite to plan already J
We had it all planned, leave home with the truck on Tuesday, into Rustbuster (https://www.rust.co.uk/) in Leicestershire where the truck gets undersealed (Nice and shiny for the Canadian inspection) and then up to Liverpool docks for Friday, ready for shipping.
That’s how it should have been! Unfortunately, someone in Liverpool broke the ship and it got dry docked whilst they fixed a hole in it.
We were directed to Southampton docks and to another ship, the Morning Cecile. The truck was duly deposited without fuss and I had to get the train back to the smoke. We used Martin McGowan at IVSS shipping (https://ivssuk.com/) to arrange the passage.
We left the UK on 5th July 19 and a flight direct into Halifax, Nova Scotia, (West Jet). The airline was budget but pretty good. Canada customs and immigration was very straight forward. We just told them what we were doing and was allowed straight through. Our bags were not checked which was handy as Mandy had half of Tesco Extra store in hers together with Boots entire selection of cosmetics. Mine were full of very sensible and crucial things. A transfer from the airport with https://driverdaves.com/ went similarly without a hitch ad we arrived at a startling 29 degrees in Downtown Halifax.
Halifax, what a place. It has a fantastic vibe and a buzzing Down Town area and Waterfront. It seems to be a hub for people exploring the area and there are many Canadians and Americans on holiday (or vacation) here. Without exception, so far, everybody is extremely friendly, polite and helpful. Food is very ocean based with lots of oysters, lobsters etc. Lots of pubs and bars with live music, right up our street. It’s almost like being on holiday, which this is absolutely not!
Getting a bus here was an experience. Exact change only, a stop every other block, hit the accelerator hard to maximum speed before slamming on the brakes at the next stop. You are not allowed to carry takeaway coffee, and you can see why. The bus also attracts a number of very strange people, and when I say strange remember I’ve been to Chatteris. (Sorry Chatteris, but you have some unusual residents).
Sim/data cards are very expensive here and it’s difficult to get some of the contracts without social security number, Canadian credit card and ID. We managed to get 8gb, unlimited calls/texts for $50 (About £30) per months with “Lucky” provider (https://www.luckymobile.ca/) . This covers nationally but only at 3g. Best we could do but we will do some more research.
Anyway, the truck arrived, at the port, it was all discharged (nautical term for unloaded) and off we went to the Customs building (On the bus). Upon arrival, we found it had closed and moved another 10km away so it was back on the bus to another grey government building (263 Susie Lake Crescent) where we were told the truck had not cleared inspection, come back tomorrow. This we did, long story short (and several buses later) we got the papers stamped and the following day we were able to scoop the truck up from the port. We took it to the hotel, stopping for gas (diesel @ £0.67 per litre) and gas (propane) before filling up with essentials at a Walmart (And I mean essentials, apparently supermarkets don’t sell any alcohol J). We found an extortionate car park close to our dwellings and spent the rest of the day trying to cram everything we had purchased into the already overfilled vehicle.
And so it was that on Thursday 10th July 2019 that we said farewell to Halifax and hit the road. We headed north towards the Cabot Trail and stopped the first night at a fantastic location at Arisaig lighthouse, a small fishing community. It was wild camping so no facilities, but what a place. We had only covered about 150 km, away from the city and to a ragged coastline, the sound of the sea and very own spot. Mandy knocked up some spag bol while I emptied and repacked a load of kit. I think this is something that will happen regularly until we settle. I appreciate this is all a bit boring for you but for us it was the first step in our adventure and we were loving it. A number of locals came over for a chat and gave us some history of the area and in particular of a small Gin distillery (Stienhart distillery and brewery) about 1km away, Mandy’s ears pricked up and the first stop for the next day was identified. We met another traveller here, Mike, from Cologne, Germany, and we wasted the evening sitting around chatting and drinking (Just to be sociable, obviously). This was the way ahead.
The following morning we were away (Via the Gin palace where Mandy stocked up – need to find more room, maybe a trailer!) and continued towards the Cabot Trail. The roads are wide, long and hilly, the old truck made some quite slow progress up the steeper hills and recovered on the downward inclines. The other lorries on the road are far more powerful and thunder past us at amazing speeds for big rigs, similarly caravans being towed by 6 litre pickups come passed at a rate of knots, no concern for fishtailing here. There is nothing but trees and forest for as far as you can see, except the ocean which pops up routinely as we head north. We were contentedly covering out anticipated 150km for the day, at about 50 mph, when I hear a sudden hiss of air being lost and I lose control of the truck, all 9.5 tonnes of it. Mandy is suddenly awake as we careen across the carriageway, covering both sides and leaving a trail of black smoke and bits of rubber behind us. This was pretty scary stuff (did I mention it weighs 9.5 tonne) which I later remedied with a change of clothing.
We slowed into what passes as a hard shoulder and came to a very lopsided stop. Sit, breathe relax! Let’s see how bad this is!
That’s going to take more than a puncture patch. Ironic really, our motif just above the wheel.
Anyway, we cracked on. Amazing how high the truck has to be jacked and how many stages, using an axle stand, it requires. A couple of guys stopped and gave us a hand, I remember now, those wheels weigh about 160kg each (Thanks guys if you are reading). The biggest pain was that the spare is behind the bike on the back so the whole lot had to come off!
3 hours later and we are back on the road following a brief conversation from the local Police: “You need to move that over man, you will cause an accident”, “I can’t jack it up on gravel!”, “Well you need to get it off the road”, (Really! I like it here I was going to spend the night) “As soon as the wheel is on…. buddy” (Muppet) and he drives away.
Another 50km and we are at an abandoned campsite in an ocean inlet, again, no facilities, a couple of other travellers, and very peaceful. Loving it here!
Tomorrow (13th) is our anniversary, and I haven’t even forgotten!