A little bit about ourselfs:

Two crazy Swiss Immigrants living in Canada since 1996 traveling the Country in a 5th wheel together with their two cats ....
Let's introduce ourselves:

There is the lovely and multi-talented Sue: A Sagittarius that likes travel, cats & dogs, reading good books and rather swings a hammer then using a sawing-needle. She dislikes rude people and getting up early

The other part of the team is André: Born in the sign of Aquarius always looking for something new and exciting to explore. Let's go around this corner - there may be something we haven't seen yet! Likes traveling, cooking and making new friends. Dislikes are changing - they may become acceptable

Please follow us on our journey - and don't be shy, we'll love to hear from you!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Labrador – the big land

Hi everyone

These last few days we have traveled quiet a distance coming from Québec and going all the way to the South of Labrador. What started as Québec Highway 389, continued as Labrador Highway 500 and finally 510 from Goose Bay to Red Bay – roughly 1800 km of dirt and gravel roads!
Labrador is called «the big land» and rightfully so. Kilometer after kilometer of forests are interrupted by open land strewn with lakes and criss-crossed by rivers and streams. Bushes resist the harsh climate and big rocks lay in the middle of nowhere. It is so easy to imagine how this land so long ago was covered by a thick layer of ice. When the glaciers receded they left those rocks and formed the landscape. It’s almost overwhelming and we were happy to finally reach the south coast and the lovely village of Red Bay. It was like coming home when we spotted first the sea and then the houses. This is what I always expected Newfoundland and Labrador to be: well maintained, bright houses spread along the shore, colourful little fishing boats rocking on the calm waters of the bay and a people so friendly and welcoming.
While driving through this province I imagined what it must be like to be there during a big thunderstorm or snowstorm in the winter. The wind hauling, visibility near zero – nature unleashing its fury. It must be impressive and very scary at the same time, even if one would experience this in the comfort of one of those friendly little houses. Sitting by the window with a cup of coffee and a book, knowing that the wood fire burning in the fireplace will keep you warm and taking comfort in the thought that, once the storm lets up, your neighbours will come out of their own houses to make sure everyone in the village is ok. People depend on each other and you will never be without a helping hand when you need one.
It must be a hard life but people here are taking it in stride. And no matter the harshness of the environment, or maybe because of it, it’s endless hospitality you will find among these lands.
Red Bay is one of those villages you can see on postcards or the TV ads the province placed to further tourism. But Red Bay is much more than that. It has a rich history which one can explore by visiting the local museum and the Parks Canada exhibition. Hundreds of years ago basque whalers sailed across the Atlantic ocean and spent months on end in the waters off the village. They would hunt for whales and then cut them up and render the blubber for oil which they brought back to Europe where the oil was used for all kinds of things. The whalers established camp where Red Bay is located today and on Saddle Island only a couple hundred meters off shore. Rich archeological finds were discovered at both locations. They include all kinds of artifacts from pots and dishes to the sunken wreck of a whaling boat. The remains found of the housing, the places where the basques would render the whale blubber, the whale skeletons and even the cemetery did allow historians to gain an insight of where those whalers had come from, when they were here (long before the new world was discovered) and how they worked and lived. It’s rich history and Red Bay is under consideration to become a world heritage site.
Today's village of course is very different but the sea still plays a huge role in peoples lifes. There still is some fishery going on and if you ever come to Red Bay you just have to go eat at the «Whalers Restaurant». You simply must not miss their home-cooked meals prepared with the catch of the day, desserts made with fresh wild berries and a chat with the locals.

André and Sue
Somewhere on the road in Canada

PS: Don't forget to read our other blogs (listed on the side) and to follow us on facebook and our Google Map. You can also check our web site for new pictures.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Damages happen - deal with them

From Red Bay, Labrador:
So far we were lucky on our trip. No light pols caped, no accidents with wild life or other users of the road. The first thing that we had to deal with, was a broken seam on our back bumper. 

We had added our two bicycles on an additional bike rack on the back bumper. During the drive over the past few weeks on sometimes a little rougher roads, the swinging and the weight of these two bikes may have put extra pressure onto the bumper and now - in Baie-Comeau - we dedected a welding seam that comes apart. OK - let's deal with it and find a welder to have it fixed. This is easier said then done since we are in a French speaking community and with different laws then in Ontario. First, here a welding shop is to be found under "soudeur" and there are not to many around.

We finally found one, that took care of our problem about 20 minutes after we had pulled in. The seam got re-welded, the bumper reinforced with extra steal plates, the bike rack taken apart and welded back together so that it is holding up and at the end we added two straps to the whole rack.
Glad we did this before hitting Hwy 389. This road was over 1,100 km of dirt and gravel and due to recent rain fall and construction not in it best shape. Driving some times comfortly with 80 km/h we had extended part where we were almost crawling along trying to avoid pot holes etc.
After the 1,100 km we found ourselves in Happy Valley-Goose Bay to find out that the next almost 600 km are again gravel and dirt road. Sure, we got our share of road dust but also some damages on our home on wheels. Not talking about the gravel chipping away on the metal bars under the rig, but part of our bed came loose, on light fixture fell down etc.

We also got a nail into the tire of our 5th wheel one evening while parking on a public place and had to get a tire fixing set from the nearest "here you find everything" store. We couldn't find the tire iron on the rig and will have to call the dealer to see, where it could/should be or if it was missing from the beginning. Now we had the set - but since neither one of us had ever plugged a tire, we ended up asking a local lad to show us how it is done. His work seems to be holding up and we drove with the fixed tire since then.

Latest issue is now the automatic leveling system the seem to be out of balance - but we will find out, if it is just today or if we have to report this to the dealer too.
Hope that these are the only hits that we had taken on this - our roughest drive so far. Sure happy to be back on paved road again :-)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Vous êtes de l'Ontario et vous parlez Français? C'est fantastique!

During our trip through La belle Province de Quebec we automatically tried to speak French where ever we were in contact with the locals like in the groceries store (dépanneurs), restaurans (resto), tourist information center and even at the hairdresser (coiffeur).

It was interesting to watch the reaction of the people we talked to - even our French was not perfect and sometimes more "franc-glisch" then French, the locals were so much more helpful just because we made the effort of speaking in their mother tongue. Admitting that in certain regions about 80 % don't speak English at all one can understand that communication could be difficult at times.

André had a real advantage and settled in very quickly but Sue was not far behind and did her best explaining in French what she was looking for. She even managed to go to the coiffeur and got a nice new haircut the way she was looking for and didn't end up looking like a shaved puddle after a summer rainfall .... lol

We just love the uncomplicated, simple way the french vocabulary is used here in Quebec: pommes-de-terre (potatoes) are still called patates, good eating is also called bonne bouff and not bon manger etc.

Knowing the basic language and using it here really pays - even if it is not perfect, the effort for trying will be recognized and an extra smile is guaranteed.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Continuing along the Saint Lawrence

Hi everyone
We are really enjoying ourselves here in Québec and along the Saint Lawrence River. The area is so beautiful and the people so nice. As soon as we speak (André) or at least try to do so (I) in French, they open up and start asking us questions and giving us tips. After our stay at "Chez Denise" we took a detour to Lac Saint-Jean where we spent 4 nights on a campground located on the premises of a Jesuit monastery. It was very tranquil and the ringing of the church bells reminded me of the times I spent at my grand-parents as a kid every summer. We explored the area around the lake and one day took a cruise on the Fjord of Saguenay. There is a tall statue of the Virgin Mary on a rock on the west bank of the fiord where, as a tradition, passing ships will stop or slow down and play the “Ave Maria” to thank her for a save passage. Very impressing, especially when you’re on one of those ships while they do so. Then we drove back to the Saint Lawrence by way of Saguenay from where we drove east bound once again to Tadoussac and Essipit. Yesterday we kept following the river to Baie-Comeau, a short drive only but here we want to spend a couple of days before conquering the real big adventure: the next roughly 1100 km will lead us north to Labrador City from where we will continue to Churchill Falls and finally Happy Valleye - Gose Bay in Labrador. The thing is that most of those 1100 km will be on gravel roads with narrow passages and turns. This should be very interesting to say the least. The reason we are telling you about our plans for the next few days is that Internet reception is kind of spotty where we are now and somehow we have the feeling it will not get better until we reach a bigger city. So if there aren’t any updates for a few days, this might be the reason. At least you know where we’re headed and we will tell you all about the drive when we get a chance to write a new blog.
Anyhow, the region around Lac Saint-Jean and the Fjord of Saguenay are gorgeous. We drove around the lake and found one spot nicer than the last and we can only recommend this area. It was worth the detour for sure. And the landscape continued to take our breath away as we drove towards Tadoussac and along the Saint Lawrence River to Baie-Comeau. We also had our first experience on a ferry in Tadoussac, turning a corner and thinking we would find a rest stop but ending up right on the ship. Nature had called for André and the short trip (only 7 minutes) due to a line in front of the restrooms was just long enough to answer the call.
 André and Sue
Somewhere on the road in Canada

PS: Don't forget to read our other blogs (listed on the side) and to follow us on facebook and our Google Map. You can also check our web site for new pictures.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Along the Saint Lawrence River

Good Sunday evening everyone

After 5 very nice and relaxing days at Pia's and Alfons' we left Almonte Thursday and drove into Québec where we want to spend the next weeks while driving across towards Newfoundland and Labrador. So far our experience is fantastic. The people here are so friendly and helpful. The landscape is beautiful, too and we've seen pretty little villages, farms and settlements, neatly trimmed grass and well maintained flower beds and houses. After only three short days Sue is picking up her French again and we have been talking to locals and other campers, finding out where to go and what to do. So we visited a fromagerie, a farmers market and a wildlife park close to our first stop at "Camping au petit lac Simon". All of it was interesting and well worth while to see. The park for example stretches over a huge area where they keep all kinds of animals native to North America. Deer, elk, moose, bison, mountain goats, wild boar, coyotes, wolves and bears and of course all kinds of small animals and birds call the park home. They roam free except for the bears and wolves which, for safety reasons, have their own several acres big sections. What they do basically is introduce the animals to the park and then let them choose their own place to live within the landscape which includes everything from plains to rugged hill, fields to wooded areas.
We also visited the local historical museum which was very interesting. They display artifacts from the early settlers to the late 1900s, some of which we have actually seen used in our grandparents respective businesses. 
The next leg of our tour brought us to the Saint Lawrence River just east of Montréal where we arrived yesterday. We have already checked out some small stores and road-side vendors and will go pick up some wood-oven baked bread around noon. These small stores remind us of our native Switzerland where one can find a butchery, a bakery and a dairy and cheese store in most any village. They are often preferred over the big supermarkets by the locals because of the variety they offer and the personal service. Seems that here in Québec it is very similar.

Since we had some time before the bread could be picked up around noon, we went to see the Gilles Villeneuve Museum in  Berthierville where the legendary formula 1 driver was from. Check out the picture of André beside one of Gilles race cars

André and Sue
Somewhere on the road in Canada

PS: Don't forget to read our other blogs (listed on the side) and to follow us on facebook and our Google Map. You can also check our web site for new pictures.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Ottawa and Gatineau

We are getting ready to leave Hunting Ford Farm tomorrow. Yesterday we drove into Ottawa and Gatineau on the Quebec side to gather information in the visitor centers and do some sight seeing. What a beautiful day to stroll around and check out both cities! We spent most of the time in downtown Ottawa where we couldn't get enough of the farmers market looking at all the beautiful products offered there. Thank goodness we needed some fresh produce anyways and so had the opportunity not only to look at but also to buy a selection of vegetables. Some we already used at dinner time and they tasted fantastic. We also got some chickens for beer can chicken from the BBQ.

While at the market we enjoyed some Indian food, sitting outside and watching the fuzz and buzz of the market. This is a place we will definitely visit again when we're in the region.

Today we will use all the materials collected (and the Internet) to plan for tomorrow's drive. So please come back to see where we will end up. 

André and Sue
Somewhere on the road in Canada

PS: Don't forget to read our other blogs (listed on the side) and to follow us on facebook and our Google Map. You can also check our web site for new pictures.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Hitting the road

Writing the first travel blog in the fifth wheel
Hi everyone

The day has finally come when we hit the road for our coast to coast to coast trip throughout Canada. We have put a lot of thought into this and basically taken all winter to plan for it. Not a detailed route or even a rough one but the principles. And we decided to travel east first, starting in Almonte just outside of Ottawa where we arrived in the evening of June 30st and will stay a few more days on the beautiful horse farm of our friends Pia and Alfons. Their hospitality is as generous as their farm and the area are breathtaking. Thank you so very much, Pia and Alfons!

After packing everything up and put it into storage we still had a lot of stuff to take with us. We had already driven the fifth wheel to Almonte and parked it there a few weeks ago. Now we had to fit everything that was left into the truck, pack up the cats and say goodbye to our friends. Then we finally were on our way, starting a new chapter in our lifes. And we are very excited about it. In the next couple of days we will plan the first leg of our trip. It will lead us through Quebec with the destination being New Found Land and Labrador. This rugged and wide open province is something we always wanted to visit. But we will take our time getting there. As you know, André is a real foodie and Quebec has so much to offer not only with regards to sights but also in terms of food. We don't have a time line set in stone and definitely will explore along the way to the coast. But for the next 2 or 3 days we are taking it easy, relaxing in Almonte and getting used to life in a trailer.

André and Sue
Somewhere on the road in Canada

PS: Don't forget to read our other blogs (listed on the side) and to follow us on facebook and our Google Map. You can also check our web site for new pictures.