Island Living, Canadian Style!

Thought for the day

I guess our last missive left off at the point where the docs decided I was NOT dead, or at least that I had had all the imaging studies and radioactive cocktails they could subject me to without truly establishing the presence of any pathology that required treatment.

Spots we stopped…

So, in a nutshell (cuz we ARE nuts, or so we have been told), the following are the places we have parked for more than 24 hrs this summer:

Minneapolis (several Times), Brainerd, International Falls, Kenora, Thunder Bay, Swastika—near Kirkland Lake (Ontario), Pittsburgh, Sandusky (Ohio), Elkhart, Leesburg (Indiana), Benton Harbor, Buchanan, Ludington, Alanson (Michigan), Eagle River, WI. Along the way, we burned over 800 gallons of diesel (at an average of $3.40/gal!!!) and travelled 4,200 miles.

Whew. I am exhausted just typing that. And Poor!

He’s Still a Force!

The summer was organized around staying near and visiting Minneapolis often. We decided in the spring that we needed to spend as much time as we could nearby Minneapolis…

This is all about checking up on my dad, who was in Hospice in September of 22. Subsequently, they (“they” being Medicare) kicked him out of hospice for bad behavior, which in the case of hospice care means instead of comfortable decline, he actually improved. I guess “improved” is all relative at the age of 94, but he seems to have recovered enuf strength to begin some “really big and visionary” projects with folks like the former mayor of Minneapolis.

If anyone is interested in reading about some of his exploits, he has been writing a blog (I am STILL not sure he knows what a blog actually IS, but with his Granddaughter’s help, he has been publishing one!).

Do me a favor…SUBSCRIBE and comment on some of his posts – it makes him crazy!

WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE, he asks??!!!

I have to explain to him that this is how the Internet works – all sorts of people you don’t know read and comment (and pontificate, in many cases) on things they know nothing about. Sometimes very passionately, and occasionally accurately. Due to the attention of Said Granddaughter, I have NOT had to explain how it is that someone can co-opt a (seemingly) well intentioned site to sell knock-off Viagra.

After leaving Minneapolis, we headed towards a week that had been planned with friends from Victoria on Vancouver Island. But not ON Vancouver Island – instead in Kenora on the Lake of the Woods, where there are by some estimates 10,000 islands. On the way to Kenora was a Bluebird friend – Mike and Lori Kneeland — who happened to be home and receptive to a visit. Theirs is a ranch with horses and quiet, bucolic vistas.


Mike was already suggesting that he had tools and knew how to use them



Even as we pulled into the driveway, Mike was already suggesting that he had tools and knew how to use them (as do most Bluebirdbrains). Mike simply ASSUMED that there were,  and we could knock out some items from on our to-do list. Mike offered to help with some electrical work I needed to accomplish on the bus.

Our Shore Power hookup had been run over (twice, actually) by lawn care specialists at one park or another, so I decided to buy a BRIGHT GREEN ONE that could NOT be missed, vs the Black one that could not be seen. The problem is, the bus-side had a connector from the factory that may have been a standard in 1986, And ONLY on Bluebirds, but is no longer. So to implement the new cord, I had to install a new socket. This turned out to be straightforward, and was completed without danger of interfering with cocktail hour and, as it turned out, the SPECTACULAR ENTERTAINMENT OPTION the Kneelands had in store for us!!.

…mostly Dan trying not to step on Liz’s feet


It seems that the Kneelands like to Dance. So do the Harrises. Maybe not exactly the SAME dances – the former tending towards country 2-step and the latter to mostly Dan trying not to step on Liz’s feet while executing something not unlike Ballroom. The Kneelands disclosed that they usually attended a local bar, where there was live music and pretty good food on Sunday evenings – would we like to go?


We had a great time – I think we were the only “Ballroom” folks in the room, but we were tolerated – maybe even encouraged — throughout. And one of the fellas kept trying to teach Liz the 2-step.

On the way to Brainerd, we decided to stop and have a Tire Valve replaced or reseated. One of the tires had a slow leak, and it seemed like a really bad idea , as we planned to shortly embark in the direction of NOWHERE, ONTARIO, to go with anything less than perfect tires. As always, nothing is ever as it seems. The tire was removed, and a valve stem installed. Then, several lug nuts could not be torqued properly. THIS means that the tire was not absolutely properly affixed to the drum. Easy to see this is not an ideal situation!

This probably meant that the tire studs had previously been over-torqued and at least some were stripped by this. I am guessing by the guys who put new tires on Good Trouble…but we’ll never know for sure. Anyway, 2 studs out of 10 on the tire that was removed. 20%.

The general Bluebirdbrain consensus: Not dangerous yet – still 80% good! But Logic would suggest that whoever over-torqued those 20% had also over-torqued 20% of the other studs on the rest of the tires. Steer tires would be more worrisome. We needed to retorque ALL the tires, ascertain which (if any) other nuts could not be torqued and then replace whatever needed replacement.

don’t want a mechanic working on the bus who would rather be somewhere else

Weirdly, the tire shop that found the bad studs on one tire refused to address the issue at all. Maybe because it was Friday Afternoon. I didn’t appreciate that, but have long ago realized you don’t want a mechanic working on the bus who would rather be somewhere else, So we left with uncertainty and the need to find someplace to evaluate and make repairs before we got too far out of civilization. Eventually, we would find a shop in Winnipeg that would take EXCELLENT care of us – more on that later!

We left the Kneelands and headed towards the Canadian Border and our planned visit with the Chandlers of Victoria. International Falls was the point at which we intended to cross the border (into beautiful Fort Frances). On one hand, its NOT a busy crossing, so there was NOT a lineup of vehicles whatsoever. On the other hand, the Border Control Agents are relatively bored, and so they announced at the gate that we had been “selected for Enhanced Examination.”


“You realize that you have a bit more than the allowed liquor on board…”



We pulled over and they asked us to exit the bus, at which point, 3 well-armed agents and their supervisor came to the door. I will say, they were EXTREMELY polite, but also very business-like and thorough. We had heard that inspections like this leave your clothes out of drawers, dishes on counters, etc. NONE of that; they had clearly been thru things, but with respect and without dishevelment.

They were on board for maybe 10 minutes or so when the leader came off and said, “You realize that you have a bit more than the allowed liquor on board…

I said, “Why yes, I do,  (and I had already handed a list of exactly what we had to the Officer in the gate-booth: ½ bottle of this, ¼ bottle of that. No full bottles of anything except ½ case of assorted beer. No doubt adding up to more than the allowed amount by volume.)

Perhaps that list is what had gotten us “Enhanced” to begin with?

He said, “Any intended for Canadians?


Some day, my sarcasm is going to end up with me needing to execute my one phone call


I wondered if he was worried about us corrupting the morals of the citizens. Based on the Canadians I know, he need not worry…in our experience…and it’s extensive…they are just as moral and upstanding AFTER being plied with American Liquor as before

I said, “I imagine there will be a toast or 2

I think he was actually concerned about Canadians evading Liquor Taxes! Liz was looking at me side-eyed at this point, knowing that Some day, my sarcasm is going to end up with me needing to execute my one phone call!!

He said,” Does this RV have a musical horn?” (He must have seen a Blue Bird Before! – this was a good sign!)

I said, “Yes it does! Would you like to hear it?

He smiled, and I played Good Trouble’s Anthem: “ROLL OUT THE BARREL”

In retrospect, maybe I should not have played THAT particular tune in order to not keep the attention on Liquor, but our horn does not have “O Canada” in the playlist…

He continued to smile, and said, “We’re pretty low key here on the liquor thing …HAVE A GREAT TRIP!!

Am I certain that our musical horn was the reason we were allowed to proceed with all that contraband? No, not certain, but maybe not such a quirky feature after all! And I am thinking next time we cross, we’ll pick a busier border station, where the agents don’t have time to be bored AND approach the border with the Horn Playing – dispense with all the formalities!

Liz and Dan and Gen

When we arrived in Kenora, our next “Task” was meeting The Chandler’s friends – Mike and Emmet McFeetor, Wes Borg et. Al. These folks are components of a Theatre Troupe that the Chandler’s daughter Gen, also on board for this trip, is a member of. It was Gen and Emmet’s birthdays in close proximity, which was ostensibly the reason for the whole gathering.

The whole visit was a joyous and wacky event, as only a famous comedian and musician and assorted minion-friends can make it…WE HAD A BLAST!!!

First we had them over to the bus for a dinner of our preparation, because the plan was then to spend a couple days “Island Living” Kenora-style. We needed to feel like we had contributed to the weekend in some way, and we don’t sing, dance and entertain in the same way as the rest of the group.

Beached (In the BEST way!)

The McFeetors have a Cabin on an island – cabin is over 100 yrs old and has the feel of a true north getaway. They met us at the dock in Kenora in a funky old houseboat. The course to the island would have taken 30 mins or so if we were to go direct, but that did not seem to be the order of the day. Instead, we wandered around many arms and bays and channels that make up the Lake Of the Woods, passing by many islands with habitations – some grand and some not.

Dan and his Floatie
Enjoying the LOW-Day

At one point, Mike drove the boat up onto a sandy beach, and some floaties appeared for our swimming amusement.


When we finally arrived at McFeetor Island, we did a whole lot of nuthin, to include eating burgers, drinking beer, enjoying the sunset and the FABULOUS Milky Way courtesy of the VERY dark skies in the area. The next morning, we had a great camp breakfast, and another houseboat ride back to Kenora.

Toasting with The Chandlers

Our original plan when this trip had been conceived and discussed had been to drive all the way west, to Vancouver Island, with the Chandlers. We had since decided to remain in the Midwest, more or less for the summer to allow serial Dad-visits. We DID decide to go a little ways for a few days with the Chandlers, to The “Peg.”

Winnipeg Haute Cuisine

We found a nice campground, and used it as a base for a bit of Winnipeg wandering, followed by some excellent camp meals. While there, the Chandlers experienced a snafu with their bus – a little altercation with a curb. This caused tire and wheel issues, which fortunately could be addressed.


Heading to the real wilderness of Ontario – NOTHING and NOONE around. Bad place to have suspect tires or wheels



While we were in Winnipeg, (and before, actually), and speaking of tire and wheel issues, we decided to find a Tire shop to check and replace the Studs that may or may not have been broken by over-torquing. Our next stop was several hundred miles away, and in the real wilderness of Ontario – NOTHING and NOONE around. Bad place to have suspect tires or wheels.

So I called around – lots of commercial truck options in Winnepeg, but most could not take us for at least a week or 10 days. One, Prairie Truck Service in nearby Blumenort, MB, though, Agreed to take us the next day, and offered that we could spend the night in their yard if we needed to. They also ordered some replacement wheel studs – not a stock item – to be express-shipped.

Turns out, there are three different components, and these are ordered in LEFT and RIGHT Thread construction so actually SIX different pieces. Who knew that the nuts screw on “backwards” on the driver side? I do, now! This is done so that the motion of the wheels does not loose the nuts on that side.

Anyway, the folks torqued every single nut, and found only 3 in total (including the two we knew about) that had been stripped. We left for the wilds of Ontario with firmly affixed wheels and a VERY HEAVY BOX full of extra studs.

For the stories from there (and Beyond), NEXT POST PLEASE!!!

2 thoughts on “Island Living, Canadian Style!

  • great reading!! you two “take the cake”!!
    see ya’ll in Louisiana.
    please add Rick to you list of followers.

  • I’m so enjoying these! Sorry you didn’t cruise through N’field for our 45th; a grand time was had! Perhaps you’ll put the 50th on your 2028 calendar:)

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