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Pachone

Going Across Canada!!

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Hey Guys,

 

A friend and I have decided that we want to spend maybe at least a month to 2 months on the road, travelling the great brute of a country we live in. Do some fishing, explore, adventure, see things, eat places, chill. And just enjoy doing something not usually done. Road trip style.

We were thinking of purchasing or borrowing a van... preferably a Chevy or GMC Astro/Safari, and building a bunk in the back, and voila. Weve seen it done before. Gas and food we have calculated. We basically need to find a decent van but not for alot of $. Also need to pick up some tips along the way...

We are going from Toronto, to Cape Spear NF, and then over to Vancouver, and back HOPEFULLY!!! Should be quite the experience.

 

I was hoping people might have some experiences and TIPS to share. Has any one ever done this before? Places that i MUST SEE?

Maybe even a vehicle you might know to make it? Anything we should be weary about?

 

ANY TIPS, ADVICE, AND EXPERIENCES SHARED would be the most helpful... and probably make for a cool thread! (it will definitely be the biggest report of all time lol)

 

Thanks alot

 

Pachone

Edited by Pachone

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This should be interesting...........i love your idea. I cant share anything that adventurous though. No experience in anything this spontaneous haha lol

 

I would advise making it a one month venture...........living in a van with a friend for two months, youll likely be ready to push each other out at high speeds after just a couple weeks lol

Edited by Blaque

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I wish I did something like that when I had the opportunity...

 

Wish you all the luck! Sorry no advice!

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Ok I have an experience...

 

some years ago I was driving through the Rocky mtns ---anyway to keep this short I looked on my map and figured out a shortcut that would take me and the family into Kamloops.

 

started headin down this mountain in my ext cab truck with "automatic transmission"---all looking at the beautiful scenery---noticed sign saying this decline had 5 runaway truck lanes.

 

Anyway this puppy went downhill forever---I periodically stepped on brake to slow us down but half way down the mountain the pedal got a little spongy.

 

Sooo I seen a pull over area and got int it a literally stood on the brakes to get us stopped.--it did and the wheels were smokin when we got out..

 

Now remember where we are-----so here we are half way down a mountain at a rest stop and you bet---here comes a bear.---Soooeveryone back into the truck.

 

After some time---bear gone --wheels cooled I put it in***** Low gear***** and made it safely into Kamloops to have my truck looked at.

 

Mechanic says it's quite common---called Brake Fade---I guess what happens trying to slow yourself down with the brakes is you actually boil the brake fluid and create a vapor spot making brakes spongy

 

Cure-- gear down going down those mtns even with an automatic---sorry for length

 

Bushart

 

PS My wife wonders why I drink?

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Ok I have an experience...

 

some years ago I was driving through the Rocky mtns ---anyway to keep this short I looked on my map and figured out a shortcut that would take me and the family into Kamloops.

 

started headin down this mountain in my ext cab truck with "automatic transmission"---all looking at the beautiful scenery---noticed sign saying this decline had 5 runaway truck lanes.

 

Anyway this puppy went downhill forever---I periodically stepped on brake to slow us down but half way down the mountain the pedal got a little spongy.

 

Sooo I seen a pull over area and got int it a literally stood on the brakes to get us stopped.--it did and the wheels were smokin when we got out..

 

Now remember where we are-----so here we are half way down a mountain at a rest stop and you bet---here comes a bear.---Soooeveryone back into the truck.

 

After some time---bear gone --wheels cooled I put it in***** Low gear***** and made it safely into Kamloops to have my truck looked at.

 

Mechanic says it's quite common---called Brake Fade---I guess what happens trying to slow yourself down with the brakes is you actually boil the brake fluid and create a vapor spot making brakes spongy

 

Cure-- gear down going down those mtns even with an automatic---sorry for length

 

Bushart

 

PS My wife wonders why I drink?

 

 

Hahaha great story thanks for sharing. That little peice of advice WILL HELP.. thanks!

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Get a full size van for sleeping in. It's that much more room with all your gear. Bring a tent, fresh air is a good thing.

Purchase no more than 2 days meat or dairy. Keep meals easy and simple. One pan and one pot.

Buy an aluminum griddle for using on your Coleman stove. $15 investment for a single cooking surface. Pack all dry goods like flour, pancake mix, cereal, biscuits, in tupperware.

 

Once you get to your starting point, try to keep driving time to a 4-5 hour max. daily or you will miss so much along the way.

 

Most important. HAVE FUN, and take lots of pics

Edited by bigugli

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if you want some good fishing for trout, pike, walleye, bass, perch and even maybe some catfish then come to sault ste. marie. theres tons of places to fish from shore with fish to be caught. and on the ontario/manitoba border, there are TONS of lakes like lake of the woods, among others! and the lake superior shoreline is really quite scenic. some of the highway past the sault going north is a little dangerous so keep an eye out. theres lots of wildlife to be seen in the area. the barries just started arriving up here so the bears wont be too much of a worry, though they are a little skinny from what i've seen. anyhow great opporunities up around this area for fishing and some very scenic places.

 

Good luck and hope you have a great time!!

Edited by bigredneck

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If I were to offer any advice, it would be to make sure your ride is fully checked out before you leave, (I lost my transmission when moving back from Sask.), and to make sure you take your time from the Lakehead, and over to Lake of the Woods. Way to much fishing to do! You're going to have a great trip!

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Make a point to travel across Labrador. Awesome fishing to be had right beside the highway and amazing scenery. License is dirt cheap and brookies, landlocked salmon, pike ,whitefish and lakers all available.

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Ok I have an experience...

 

some years ago I was driving through the Rocky mtns ---anyway to keep this short I looked on my map and figured out a shortcut that would take me and the family into Kamloops.

 

started headin down this mountain in my ext cab truck with "automatic transmission"---all looking at the beautiful scenery---noticed sign saying this decline had 5 runaway truck lanes.

 

Anyway this puppy went downhill forever---I periodically stepped on brake to slow us down but half way down the mountain the pedal got a little spongy.

 

Sooo I seen a pull over area and got int it a literally stood on the brakes to get us stopped.--it did and the wheels were smokin when we got out..

 

Now remember where we are-----so here we are half way down a mountain at a rest stop and you bet---here comes a bear.---Soooeveryone back into the truck.

 

After some time---bear gone --wheels cooled I put it in***** Low gear***** and made it safely into Kamloops to have my truck looked at.

 

Mechanic says it's quite common---called Brake Fade---I guess what happens trying to slow yourself down with the brakes is you actually boil the brake fluid and create a vapor spot making brakes spongy

 

Cure-- gear down going down those mtns even with an automatic---sorry for length

 

Bushart

 

PS My wife wonders why I drink?

 

 

Had the same experience coming down Whiteface Mtn in NY in my old Safari van (drum brakes). I knew it was happening but I finished the run and when I tried to slow down at the exit gate I had next to no brakes at all. Fortunately I'd been doing the engine braking thang and wasn't going all that fast, but it was still disconcerting with my wife and kids in the car. I've had it happen on a track but I'm alone then. :o

 

Thank Heaven for disc brakes.

 

JF

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Great idea. One suggestion - if yer doing it in an older vehicle carry a decent tool kit and make sure you understand the fundamentals of keeping the vehicle running. Not sure how you do a crash course on that. Hopefully one of you already has the basics sorted out. It's amazing how little it can really take to limp the vehicle into civilization where you can get a real mechanic to fix you up. Just understanding the way the systems work and being able to make a decision as to whether or not you can push it safely or not without doing big dollar damage.

 

Back in the 60's I helped build a car (an injected Corvette engine with a rebuilt hydro behind it in a '38 Ford coupe). We did the engine, injection and tranny from the ground up and mounted it all ourselves in the driveway. This was a pretty cool car that was intended to be the tow car for a '55 CC gas dragster painted matching blue. You London guys might remember it.

 

Anyway, Bob and another buddy left for Florida on the day we finished it (I had a job) and did fine till they got in a little street race with a GTO in Tennessee and broke a tracbar (even I thought the ripple slicks were a little much for the road), relocating the rear axle by a tad too much on one side. The GTO guys were cool about it. Bob assessed the damage, made a shopping list, and they went shopping in the GTO, came back and put the Ford back together on the side of the road. Then they drove on to Florida for some Spring Break time and drove home without incident. That Ford then went to work as the 55's towcar to Grand Bend & Sparta for a summer.

 

The moral of the story is to be able to fix it yerself or you'll spend too many hours and too many dollars. I realize you won't be driving a ground up rebuild so it should be a lot easier to know what's what with yer van. It's so much easier to have fun when yer not worrying about the vehicle making the next town.

 

JF

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two things.....

 

1) A couple of years ago I took my wife and daughters on a trip through the Rockies and wanted to hit some of the REAL hot springs on the side roads...

We went to White Swan PP.... it is up a long and winding gravel road... I was driving and using the video camera(with the screen flipped out) at the same time.... duhhh... any ways.,, we come around a bend about 13 kilomters up the "4-lane" gravel road and it suddenly turns in to a TWO-LANER with a truck coming straight at us :o

The video drop didn't do justice to the load that nearly ended up.... in my shorts!...

 

Point being.... don't "video and drive" at the same time

 

2) When I was 18 I lived in Stratford and my buddy and I decided we wanted to go for a tour around Georgian bay and catch up with Terry Fox on his run.. We were going to go up to Tobermory and catch the Chichimaun ferry over to South Bay mouth to save some driving and check that boat out... we were keeping a diary of our adventure...

The FIRST entry in the diary:

Too Stoned to leave Stratford,, will try again tomorrow ;)

 

The Second entry:

We were "3 feet short" of catching the ferry this am... so we rolled another fatty and were just starting to get comfortable when"the knock" came on the drivers window.... BUSTED! :blink:

Fortunately for us, we had a "sympathetic" OPP officer who told us to disgard of any remaining "Perth county green" and try to stay out of any more trouble while we were in his town,,, He then suggested that if we were "hungry" he was heading down to a local eatery for the best breakfast and town and asked if we needed a ride there.... we took the ride :dunno: .... and had an interesting breakfast with the locals...in the RESTAURANT! lol

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Have criss crossed Canada many times, although not all at once.

 

There is an internet site called 'MilebyMile.com' for RV travellers - it provides mileage and points of interest in addition to some arcane details for practically any highway in North America. Spend a few hours downloading the various webpages on your proposed or possible routes. (this will take a while) Burn them to CD and load into a laptop on your way. Even comes with little pictures and historical references to place on the highway. We've used this in many travels, most recently to Yukon.

 

Random thoughts....

 

Plan your off and on Newfoundland ferry travel carefully and well in advance. The summer months are very busy and you will not get passage unless you have reservations. Don't miss your crossing! Two words - George Street, St. Johns.

 

Find recent post here about travel planning for Nova Scotia. Pretty well covers the Maritimes.

 

It is a long distance across Ontario. Go highway 11 west to Nipigon on the way out west, highway 17 on the way back.

 

Be aware of your surroundings when entering Manitoba. You're in woods for a while, then almost like magic, the prairies. You don't want to miss it.

 

Gimli,Manitoba is a nice surprise. Fabulous beaches. Hard to believe it is only an hour north of Winnipeg. (yes, sight of the famous plane landing)

 

It will be hot in the prairies during the summer. Really hot.

 

The larger cities have all gone 'box stores', that is, there's not much difference between them except geography. I try to stay in the smaller centers that have more character...Moose Jaw, Lethbridge, places of that size.

 

Most people cross through the Rockies via Calgary, Banff, etc. Consider the Crowsnest Pass route on the way out or back -highway 3 in Alberta. Less travelled, leads to some interesting place in B.C. - Osoyoos sticks out as being a desert like place in middle of the mountains. And somewhere on that highway are the two communities that practice polygamy.

 

In B.C. it is worthwhile to keep up with the news. Highways may be shut due to forest fire, land slide etc.

 

If going through Rockies via Trans Canada, Three Valley Gap is an interesting stop. One guy set up a wild mix of stuff all in the middle of nowhere. Has his own electric generator on a stream high in the mountains. Loves to build with concrete.

 

Liked Sicamous B.C. Kelowna is a dump.

 

Vancouver closes at 5 pm. Better bet is Victoria IMO. Not a gardener, but wouldn't miss Buchart Gardens on Vancouver Island.

 

Drive up the center of B.C. to Yukon. A real long drive but worth it. When's the next time you will be so close?

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I might have a bit of experience here for you. When I was a boy I lived out of my vehicle. I had a 1988 Astro LT. That thing was hidious, but the best vehicle ever to use. I toured across Canada countless times from coast to coast. I lived in Jasper Alberta for 10 years, so I traveled the rockies ALOT!!!! I never had brake fade, never had a problem with over heating. Word of advice, learn to drive. Especially in the winter. In Jasper they did not use salt, and they hardly plowed. Everything was slow and steady. That's what got me where I wanted to go. I put a good set of truck tires on and went anywhere. 4x4's would get a little pissy at me when my old rear wheel drive could pull them out and go deeper than them.

 

There is a whole world out there to see. I loved every moment I spent touring around. I am very glad I did it. When the old van hit 400 000 kms it was time to put it to bed. I upgraded to a 1998 safari thinking I would have the same happiness. That van lasted 3 months, it was a piece of crap. I would for sure say go Astro. Any one I talk too and any I have been in have been a much better vehicle over the GMC.

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Hit every tim Hortons you see or come across, and keep a log of how many you attend by markin them down on the window, but be sure to wave to the old couple driving the RV.

 

 

 

Thats all the advice i have, and to Have A Blast...wish i could do it!

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When you get to Saskatchewan leave the Trans Canada and take the Yellowhead Trail the scenery is pretty sweet.

 

Forget Vancouver and head North young man!!! :lol:

Drive the Cassiar Hwy in BC.

Northern BC, the Yukon and NWT are spectacular!!!!! :D

Drive the Alaska Highway in Northern BC............................Unbelievable!!!!

Just don't do it at night. :w00t:

 

I have done the trip form Ontario to the NWT a bunch of times and my favorite part of the drive has always been from the soo to North Bay on the Trans Canada.

 

I have also driven to Alaska a bunch of times (37 more days until this years trip :D ) and the Alaska Hwy is one of the nicest drives around.

Edited by DRIFTER_016

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More things will come to mind as I think about it, but a couple off the bat...

 

Don't forget about the top of the van. Try to make sure you get a roof rack for extra gear. A waterproof canvas duffel and shock cords (at a minimum) and you're good to go for some extra storage capacity.

 

Figure out a way that you can bug screen at least your roll-down windows for sleeping. No fun in a tin box on a hot night with no ventilation.

 

Bring a 6 x 8 tarp and a couple of old tent poles so you can run a rain/sun cover off the roof rack. A couple of folding camp chairs (with arms) are a must. Bring a cooler that you can also use as a table in a pinch. Use a large cooler rather than several small ones, but also bring one small one that can hold just ice - just big enough for a block or a bag of cubes. A block of ice in your big cooler should last 2 to 3 days in hot weather.

 

And here's the STATE SECRET for outdoors/travelling food - soft tortillas, the large size.

 

They keep really well, they don't get squashed, and you can roll up just about anything in them in a no muss/no fuss jiffy - ham and cheese for a sandwich, eggs for breakfast, toasted sandwich on a stick for a campfire, hot dogs, you name it!

 

In Ontario you'll find lots of places to shore fish right next to the highway. On the prairies and in the mountains, forget it, unless you're going to make detours. Learn how to take boneless fillets off pike (if you don't know already). They'll be a staple of what you catch in many places, and even the smaller ones (2 lb.) can be great eating once you've spent the time filleting them. Lots of paper towels for clean-up, washing, wiping out fry pan, etc.

 

Sounds like a great trip! The planning should be half the fun.

 

Would be neat if you had a laptop along and could send us reports from wi-fi hotspots! :D

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My wife and I in 2006 purchased a large pop up camper and cut across Ontario into Michigan and did 17 states, 6500 miles in 30 days. Got home and sold the camper as planned.

 

A good vehicle is a MUST especially if you are heading anywhere there are mountains. We went over the continental divide twice at a top speed of 22 miles per hour. Took over a hour and the tranny temps hit 280 and that's with TWO auxiliary tranny coolers.

 

You might want to just get a small utility trailer and when sleep time comes take out everything in the van and transfer to the trailer. Then a blow up mattress is deployed. Reverse later. I have done this many times with my boat a launches. Never paid to camp, just slept in the parking lot. Closer and better for fishing. If someone questioned what we were doing we always said we were RESTING in our vehicle (never say camping).

 

You will learn the value of a bottle of water on a trip like this knowing you have to keep weight limits down. Rain gear, waterproof sneakers, small propane grill, at least two GOOD flashlights, rope, sharp knifes, small binoculars, small hatchet, FIRST AID KIT is just some of the things I can recommend to take. We weighed EVERYTHING to stay within specs knowing we would be driving over 11,000 feet in some areas. Water weighs about 8lbs per gallon...adds up real quick.

 

I replaced my front brakes with CARBON METTALIC brake pads because they are the best when it comes to stopping. NEVER had brake fade even towing a 3000 lb loaded camper.

 

In the 2006 trip we took 435 pictures along the way. Of course that digital pics...... We would stay a few days without electric and then then next campsite would be with electric so we could recharge our batteries (camper, camera batteries, etc...)

 

I hope you get past the talking stage and really do it........it took us years of talking before we finally did it and are now talking about another out west trip.

 

Good Luck,

Bob

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thanks alot for the feedback so far guys. Im taking notes!

 

Do you think it would be possible to run a charger for some things, coming from the cigarette outlet in a van? or would that burn out the engine? I was hoping to charge my laptop over it.

 

Also thinking about showering... are there places to do that on the road? Im not thinking of spending alot of $$$$ either...

 

Thanks for the tips guys!

Keep em coming if you can!

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Truckstops for showers. Charging from the battery takes its toll. Especially if you have other more important accessories like a lamp, radio, car kettle, electric cooler.

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thanks alot for the feedback so far guys. Im taking notes!

 

Do you think it would be possible to run a charger for some things, coming from the cigarette outlet in a van? or would that burn out the engine? I was hoping to charge my laptop over it.

 

Also thinking about showering... are there places to do that on the road? Im not thinking of spending alot of $$$$ either...

 

Thanks for the tips guys!

Keep em coming if you can!

 

 

No problem I run a small 110volt inverter off my cig lighter socket to run my shaver and recharge batteries for the cell phone, laptop, camera and camcorder. I run one of these only a little smaller in size. Inverter The 175 watt one should do you fine. As long as you don't use the thing for hours with the engine off you will be fine.

I even bring a small power bar so I can plug in all my adapters and charge everything while I'm running down the road. Make sure you get one that is big enough if you do this. They have an alarm built in to let you know if you are overloading them or not.

 

Showers are available at camp sites, truck stops and even some laundramats. When I'm in Alaska I use laundramats in Soldotna and Cooper Landing to shower. I put my clothes in the washer and hop in the shower, by the time I'm done in the shower the clothes are just about washed. Kill two birds with one stone. ;)

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bought a DODGE CARAVAN today... building the bunk this weekend. ITs coming together!!!!!

 

Ill post pics soon of what we are doing

 

Pachone

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Sounds like a great adventure.

 

While I was preparing for university and then pursuing my studies (4 years full time), I had to work during "holidays" to make enough money to keep going. I also got married during that time. Then I got a full time teaching job (which I held, with variations, for 32 years) and family came along. There was never enough time to do something like this. Not that I'm complaining, far from it, but this sounds like something I would have loved to do - open road, going wherever it leads, stopping whenever you feel like it. I've had tastes of that, of course (in one- to three-week stretches), but never a protracted "time out" exploration trip all over the country, so I find this fascinating. There is SO much to see and do.

 

I wish you good times and no adversities that you can't overcome (those can be part of the fun, in retrospect).

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Sounds like a great adventure.

 

While I was preparing for university and then pursuing my studies (4 years full time), I had to work during "holidays" to make enough money to keep going. I also got married during that time. Then I got a full time teaching job (which I held, with variations, for 32 years) and family came along. There was never enough time to do something like this. Not that I'm complaining, far from it, but this sounds like something I would have loved to do - open road, going wherever it leads, stopping whenever you feel like it. I've had tastes of that, of course (in one- to three-week stretches), but never a protracted "time out" exploration trip all over the country, so I find this fascinating. There is SO much to see and do.

 

I wish you good times and no adversities that you can't overcome (those can be part of the fun, in retrospect).

 

thanks for the response Jocko.

 

Yeah, thats a huge part of the reason why me and my friend are going. We are 22, and next thing you know... ill have a mortgage, 2 kids, car loan, full time job with 2 weeks a year, wife, and a bunch of other shackles. Dont get me wrong, those things are nice and have its rewards, But I just wont have a chance to do this if I dont do it now.

We havent put a limit on anything really, the only thing holding us back is obviously $$ ... cant go crazy. and if something happens to the vehicle > fingers crossed. lol we really only need it to go 10,000 Kms. Plus just get back before it starts getting really cold, so we have lots of time. we are estimating to get out for at least a month, rough it in a van and tent, here and there, and just adventure.

 

We bought the van yesterday, and by midnight we had the bunk built (homedepot stays open til 10 in pickering!!)

I need to get some pics up on here.

 

I need to geter e-tested and certified on tuesday, and put plates on er too.

 

Anyone know an honest mechanic located in Pickering-ish? any advice?

 

thanks

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Sounds like a great adventure.

 

While I was preparing for university and then pursuing my studies (4 years full time), I had to work during "holidays" to make enough money to keep going. I also got married during that time. Then I got a full time teaching job (which I held, with variations, for 32 years) and family came along. There was never enough time to do something like this. Not that I'm complaining, far from it, but this sounds like something I would have loved to do - open road, going wherever it leads, stopping whenever you feel like it. I've had tastes of that, of course (in one- to three-week stretches), but never a protracted "time out" exploration trip all over the country, so I find this fascinating. There is SO much to see and do.

 

I wish you good times and no adversities that you can't overcome (those can be part of the fun, in retrospect).

 

As you approach them retirement years, you get a second chance to do the things you wish you had done. You only live once. I hope once I can have my family out of hospital that we will be making some of these adventures we have always put off.

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