This blog is about our travels in our solar powered "Airstream" and living off grid, in our passive solar home, near Bancroft, Ontario, Canada.

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Wednesday, 30 September 2015


Yesterday I attempted to fix my computer problems. I removed "Chrome browser" from my operating system and then re-installed it hoping to correct the problem; didn't happen.

I then did a google search for help and visited a web site which promised a solution. In a few minutes a "technician" phoned and after much discussion and explanations he wanted $200.00 to fix my computer and keep it running smoothly for the next two years.

Somehow the "red flags" went up and I said I would call back in twenty four hours.

Decided to go back to the technical support people from Costco as that is where I bought my computer. He ran some tests, same as the tech guy who called me and then began to eliminate some hidden programs that were slowing down my computer and preventing some uploads. No cost as I bought a three year coverage with the computer.

So, my computer is running faster and I have access to functions that had disappeared earlier but we are still not back to 100%. As it was now almost six p.m. and this whole process had taken over two hours I was glad to call it a day and see what had been cleaned up.

If you are having computer problems and seek help from an unknown web site be cautious. Sharks lurk everywhere and are ready to take big chunks of your money. The tech guy who called us wanted $500.00 for a "lifetime?" coverage and protection of my computer. Who falls for such sale's pitch? The desperate, and when your computer doesn't work properly we are desperate. Be warned and be wise, don't grasp for the first straw that floats by. Find someone you know and trust.

Today it's another call to Costco and more help from their technician.

Safe travels everyone, I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015


I'm having computer issues with several programs I use daily. I can upload a new blog entry but so far I'm unable to get blogger to change the header picture. Any suggestions? Guess I need to call the help line and see what the tech guys suggest. Always something. Stuck in cyber space and can't get moving. 

Monday, 28 September 2015


We hope it's still a long way off but we are getting ready. The "it" is winter and our first preparation is to bring the firewood up to the house so all we need to do is step out and bring it in.

Today I added a steel roof to our wood crates to keep our firewood dry.

Used these "Log Bolts" to attach the 4 inch cross bar to the crate.  
Crate is very solid with this addition.

Basic but functional, slowly we are getting things ready.

Had a fire in the stove tonight, the nights are getting cooler.

Thanks for stopping by and safe travels everyone.

Saturday, 26 September 2015


Looking back on our Algonquin trip I'm puzzled by the actions of some campers. Maybe I'm expecting more or maybe I just have fond memories of yesterday, who knows. Let me explain.

We love camping and have done so all over North America and even some in Europe. My parents bought me my first tent when I was 10. It was made of canvas, had wooden poles, no floor and no netting. The mosquitos had free access to everyone and if you touched the roof it leaked. But it was great for backyard sleepovers and car trips when I was old enough to drive. I've done a lot of camping.

Most folks head to our provincial and national parks to enjoy the scenery and experience life at a slower, quieter pace not always available in our busy lives these days.

In the 70s parks started to install electrical outlets in many of their sites. It was in response to demands that campers made for more conveniences, more services, the urbanization of our campgrounds.

Now I admit I love our current trailer, complete with propane stove, fridge and furnace. It has a water heater and a queen size bed, a shower and holding tanks. We are comfortable and dry regardless of the weather outside. So I'm not adverse to comforts especially as I age and no longer get excited about sleeping on an air-mattress, you know, the ones that go flat in the night.

But lately I see people hauling stuff to their campsite that really puzzles me.

Last year the guys next to us brought their portable hot-tub. I wonder if they were there to enjoy and experience the unique natural features the park offered or simply replicate their urban lifestyle in a park setting. Did they take as much effort to hike the trails and paddle the lakes as they took to set up  the hot-tub and haul it home? Did it enhance their experience, I'm not sure. But it reveals a new trend in camping one that puts the focus on "man made" and negates the gifts nature gives.

This year same experience different scenario.  The park was full of campers, mostly senior citizens, there to enjoy the fall colours, sit around the campfire and marvel at the stars and chat with friends. It's something Canadians have been doing for over a hundred years.

But this year the night sky was obliterated, replaced by a strobe light show from a campsite just down the road.  I do mean obliterated, as this gadget spun a multitude of colours in every direction, bathing, not just the trees in his campsite but in those two down and across from him. It lit up the night better than a search light. Yes another toy to plug in and impress their friends with. 

I'm sure they thought everyone would enjoy watching the trees sparkle at night deep in the heart of Algonquin Park but we didn't come to see trees sparkle but to see the stars we can't see at home. 

Not sure if the campers who came from Poland, Switzerland, Netherlands, Italy, Britain or Denmark were there for the light show, I didn't get a chance to ask. I suspect they would have stayed home and saved their money if a light show was all that was offered. We don't travel to see what's available downtown, but what is unique to the location. That's why Algonquin is such an international destination in the fall; the colours are spectacular and unique to its location.

If a strobe light show is what turns your crank, stay home and enjoy it in your own backyard; not in our national parks. Oh, wait a minute, your town has a bylaw prohibiting such shows because your neighbours might complain. I should have known there was a reason you brought it camping, it's the only place you can use it.

Just my thoughts on the subject.

Thursday, 24 September 2015


Just home from four wonderful days in Algonquin Park. The weather was perfect but the fall colours are still a week or two away from their peak show point.

We did enjoy lazy days around the campfire as well as our daily paddle on Lake of Two Rivers.

This is the beach at Two Rivers and we left our canoe here as did many others. None were locked down and none disappeared during our stay so I guess campers can be trusted at least those in our provincial parks.

This is typical of the shoreline in Algonquin Park. This area was heavily logged in the 1800 and the pine logs sent to Britain to be used in the construction of their sailing ships. Today there is still logging going on but it is controlled and many areas have been sent aside for wilderness camping.

We spent some time in the canoe each day and Mary enjoyed the opportunity to fish; unfortunately the fish weren't biting when we were on the water.

We did enjoy getting close to the Mergansers and 

Loons, but even they would dive and disappear if we drifted too close.

Will we go back next year; for sure. If folks from Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Germany, Japan make the effort to visit so should we. 

If you haven't been for a while don't hesitate to plan a trip; you won't be disappointed. Camping facilities are top-notch and there are lodges within the park if that is more to your liking.

Algonquin is also a great place to see the fall colours if you pick the right dates.  Maybe next year we will have better luck.

Safe travels everyone and thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, 20 September 2015


Time for our annual fall tour. We will head north tomorrow for Algonquin Park and four days of hiking and canoeing enjoying the fall colours and cool evening campfires.

Our trailer is packed and once we've finished breakfast we will be on the road.

This is what we hope to see. According to the park website the colours are at 30%. With the cool evenings this number will climb as we spend time camping.

Algonquin Park is a favourite fall destination for thousands of world travelers every year. It's almost bumper to bumper with tour busses on the weekend. Parking lots are full before noon so midweek is obviously the best time to visit. The weather forecast for the next few days calls for sunny skies and cool evenings, perfect for exploring the park and enjoying an evening campfire. I'll post more pictures once we get home.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015


Just home from a wonderful day on the water.

Durl and Linda took us cranberry picking but we first needed to travel upriver to the bog.

Rubber boots are essential as you are walking on a mat of roots and bushes with the water inches below the surface. 

Mary happy to be out picking berries, unfortunately there were no berries to be found. We all searched different areas and the results were the same; no berries. This is the first time in 20 years that Durl and Linda have not found berries. We think the late frost in the spring may have killed off the buds.

Back at the boat we decided that a river cruise might be a good way to enjoy this perfect day so off we went to explore the river and enjoy the scenery.

Of course there was lots of chatter and jokes made about the lack of fruit to pick.

My job was to stay in the bow to balance the boat and watch for logs just below the water surface. 

It was another perfect fall day here in North Hastings. This is the best time of year to be here and we had a great day with Durl and Linda. No berries but lots of laughs.

Safe travels everyone and thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015


Not every day is smooth sailing here. So how did that happen?

Now that my blood pressure is back to normal and the window has been repaired I can share the story.

A few weeks ago I was moving logs to build up the laneway on the west side of the house. These are long logs and I couldn't see both ends without turning my head.

Since I was moving between the house and the solar panels my focus was staying clear of the panels. Damaging the panels would put us in serious difficulty.

Moving slowly and cautiously I thought all was fine until I heard that sickening crunch over the noise of the bobcat. The sight at the other end wasn't pretty. I had embedded the log nicely into the window through all three panels of glass. I knew this wouldn't be a cheap repair.

There was more bad news inside. The crank handle had been torn from the frame so the damage was much greater than first realized. 

Today all is back to normal, almost. The glass has been replaced thanks to Kawartha glass in Peterborough who did a fine job. I need to do some epoxy repair around the crank but it did go back into place and we can crank the window open with care.

Lesson learned, drag those long logs, don't swing them in the air as they may go places you hadn't expected.

Safe travels everyone and thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, 10 September 2015


Today Mary has been working on soup preparation. We love our soup during the cold winter months and now that harvest is in full swing we are getting ready. The chopped vegetables above all came from our garden and were picked this morning. 

Next we bagged them and now they are in the freezer. This will make soup preparation so much easier and we hope to be able to get 2 or 3 more pickings for the freezer before the first frost arrives.

Living here we are much more aware of the changing seasons as each one brings adjustments.

Next we will be bringing the wood up to the house and stacking it close for easy access when we need a fire.

How about you? Any need to get ready for winter?

Wednesday, 9 September 2015


Connie and Andrew came up yesterday and we headed out to the elderberry patch. Still lots on the bush but as you can see the birds have been enjoying them too.

It didn't take Mary long to fill her bag and then we headed home to sit and strip the berries off the branches.

Connie and Mary are focused on making sure the berries are removed properly and quickly.

With everyone working the berries were soon in the pot ready to be processed.

After a quick rinse Connie showed us how to use her "still" to produce elderberry juice. 

Water is placed in the bottom pan and brought to a boil. The steam cooks the berries in the top pan. The berry juice then drips into the middle pan where it can be drawn off through the plastic tube. 

Mary ended up with four jars of elderberry juice which we will enjoy this winter.

Thanks for stopping by and safe travels everyone.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015


With cooler temperatures and fewer bugs we enjoy our walks in the bush. 

We are amazed at the variety of mushrooms we see.

Different sizes, colour and shapes are found on the forest floor.

We want to take some home for dinner but that could be deadly so we just admire them as we pass. Maybe some day we will learn which ones are edible and enjoy them in a salad. Until then we will leave them be.

Today we are going back to the elderberry patch with Connie and Andrew. Hope the birds haven't been busy.

Time for breakfast then out for our walk before Connie gets here.

Safe travels friends.

Monday, 7 September 2015


Our driveway has taken some abuse this summer from all the heavy rains we've had. Yesterday Steve and Paul came over to fill in the ruts.

A few passes dragging this old grate behind their ATV and the ruts had disappeared.

Steve made several passes up and down the driveway.

Looks so much better now.

Thanks guys, much appreciated.

Sunday, 6 September 2015


Spent Saturday helping Peter clear trees from his property. He had lots  of help and with the skidsteer we got a lot accomplished.

Dave used the winch on his truck to pull the logs out of the bush.

I then piled them according to use; burn pile, those going to the mill and we also did a cedar pile.

It was a great day, perfect weather and by 3 I was ready to call it a quits. I think everyone was happy with the day.

Today it's hot and muggy going up to 30*C or 86*F. A perfect day to be at the lake.

Safe travels and thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, 5 September 2015


Every spring we have 10 to 15 turtles up here laying their eggs close to the house. Our soil is sandy and warm in the summer sun, making a perfect incubator for the eggs.

Yesterday we had the good fortune to see them hatch. We watched with great excitement as 14 crawled out of their nest and started the long journey to the pond.

Mary felt they needed some help so she gathered as many as she could find and carefully placed them in a basket.

Down at the pond we had to force our way through the grass to find the water.

They knew how to swim right out of the basket and quickly disappeared into the reeds.

It was a remarkable experience and one easily missed if our timing is off. Once out of the nest they seemed to know how vulnerable they were and headed straight for the pond and safety.  Even there predators exist and we know their survival depends on luck and their ability to stay hidden when danger is present.

This morning all is quiet and I'm off to help Peter clear trees off his property.

Safe travels everyone and thanks for stopping by.