Cape Breton Island

The Bras d’Or Lake Campground was just 2 Km south of Badeck, NS.  It is the commercial hub of the area.  It is the entrance to the Cabot Trail.

It was the home of Alexander Graham Bell who not only invented the telephone but many other devices.  We learned that he was considered the father of Canadian Aviation.  There was an impressive museum devoted to his life.  They even have his first airplane – flown in 1908- The Silver Dart.

Silver Dart

He lived on a huge peninsula is a big mansion where he entertained dignataries from around the world.

Bev and I found an old wooden sloop by the name of Amoeba.  She took charter guests and we signed up for a “three hour tour” around Lake Bras d’ Or.  The Captain was a character.

sailing dummies

But it was good to be on the water and the weather held for our voayage.  We sailed past the Bell Mansion and their local lighthouse.

Bell mansion


The Cabot Trail was spectacular and definitely worth the long trip to get there.  We found a hike in the national park with plenty of water for the dogs.

sockie in water

Bev was interested in Gampo Abbey, a remote monastery and home of the guru Pema Chogren.  Its a good thing we checked for directions on the internet because there were no signs.  Eventually, we found a dirt road.  It was in fairly good shape.  6 miles later we came upon the Abbey.  There was a 2 o’clock tour.  We were the only souls present for the tour and our guide was a noviate named, Nema. We  were her  first tour.  I was a little dehydrated and standing didn’t make me any better.  So Nema took us to the library where we sat and learned about Monastery Life.  Very little eating.  Lots of meditation.  Not my style but I could see that it appealed to her.  It is nice to know there is a place for just about everyone.


From Gampo Abbey we headed back to the Cabot Trail.  Through a few old fishing villages and back toward the eastern side of Cape Breton. We headed for the town of Ingonish.  Here we were scheduled for an evening in the Keltic Lodge.  This is a historic old hunting lodge converted to housing of folks looking for the experience of 100 yrs ago.  It was comfortable, even had a swimming pool.  That evening we listened to Celtic music with the dogs safely tucked away in our cottage.  The next day was a stunning hike on a ridge to the end of the peninsula and back.


Time to move on.

We traveled south toward Badeck, and our home on wheels.   The Bras d’ Or Lake Campground had about a dozen coaches when we returned.  The coach next to us was now an older model Mountainaire.  We stayed for a few more days and then headed south.  When we were in New Glascow for our slide repair I had noted a Cummins dealer just a block from the RV shop.  We had gone about 8,000 mi. and I felt it was time for my first engine service.  We had an appointment for a Fri.  We showed up at 08:00.  Fortunately,  they remembered us.  They found us in the computer.  They suggested we leave the coach and come back at 5.  I told them we lived in it and had no where to go.  The owner scratched his head and said “Put the kid on it.”  I started getting nervous.  In 15 min. Brian found us and told us to pull around to a specific service bay.  He would direct me in.  He put my nose into the service bay and told me we were great.  ”Don’t you want me to back in?”   I asked.

“Is the engine in the back?” he asked with a smile.

“Yep.” I replied.  I Immediately thought of finding Bev and driving away with the coach as fast as I could.  ”How hard could this be?”  I thought to myself as I maneuvered the coach back in.   They had told us how to do it at Freightliner Camp.  This was a pretty informal shop.  They allowed the customers to watch and learn.  In an hour we were done.  Oil and filters changed.  I pulled over to get some DEF fluid and pay the bill.  When I got back to the coach it would not start.  There seemed to be a large puddle of diesel under the engine.  Brian was back.  We tried to prime the fuel system by holding the key in the “on” position.  No luck.  Brian found the leaking filter.  He pulled it off.  Resealed and filled it with diesel.  It took a few tries but the engine finally came to life.

“Good thing it happened here.”  Brian said with his smile.  ”Might be a challenge for you on the side of the road.”  Being on the cautious side I started and stopped the engine about 10 more times before leaving the lot.  Time to leave New Glascow.  He headed for Truro, NS about 60 km to the south.   We would  use this as our base for the next month.

Actually, the Elm River, Campground was about 15 km out of Truro.  It occupied a large field across from an abandoned truck stop.  Fortunately, the restaurant had survived when the truck stop eliminated the fuel and the food was good.

Bernice and Winston were our hosts.  They had this campground for years and it was one of the really good ones.  A family campground.  The owners got to know all the guests.  Internet worked better when Winston started to charge $2 a week for the service.  Suddenly, he had lots of bandwidth.  They agreed to store our coach for 3 wks when we went to London to meet my brother for a cruise he had already arranged.  We found a doggie boarding facility.  They were amenable to keeping our pouches for the 3wk. time we would be gone.  Winston and Bernice even arranged to have one of their employees drive us the 50 km to the Halifax airport and let us store our Explorer at the RV park.   They even arranged to meet our flight and pick us up on our return.

While we were at Elm River awaiting our departure date we went into Halifax for the day.  Nice exploration of the water front.

Halifax girl

Bev even found time to do a little shopping.

BEv shopping

Air Canada to Heathrow and 3 wks later we returned.

Bob and Lone Pierdrive, our friends from Belgium had purchased a 34 ft. motor home and were heading for New Foundland.  We had not seen them in years and decided to wait in New Elm for them.  They had a few minor RV issues and we stayed a couple of days.

Bob Pierdrive

Finally, we headed south as they departed for “The big island.”

We crossed the border into Maine at Calais with a pleasant Custom’s official.  We made it to Bangor the same day and found the only truck stop with in 100 miles.  It was a relief to see diesel fuel at $4 per gallon rather than $5.50 as it had been in Canada.

We made our way to Booth Bay for a few days.  We even found some biking at the end of the peninsula.

Bev on phone

While we were riding through some back woods we came upon the studio of a wooden bowl maker.  Spectacular work.  We now have a new beautiful bread bowl.

bowl maker

From Booth Bay we headed east.  We had an appointment at the Newmar factory in Nappanee, Indiana to “fix a few minor items”  while the coach was still under warrantee.  We headed across western Mass, into New York, along the southern shore of Lake Ontario, across a small part of Pennsylvania, into Ohio and finally to Elkhart, IN.

While we were in New Glascow waiting for our slide motor an auto glass repair fellow came to “fix” a small ding in our windshield.  As he applied his resin the entire wind shield crack across the middle from side to side.  I called the insurance company and they referred us to their “glass insurance company.”    They told us not to contact anyone and they would arrange to have the windshield replaced.  I told them I was going to the factory and everyone recc. they should be the only ones to put in this huge windshield.  They assured me there would be no problem.  A month later I had not heard from them so I gave them a call.

“Oh, sorry.  We should have gotten back to you.  We had to deny your claim because the factory wanted too much money for the labor to replace the windshield.  They wanted 12 hours of labor. ”

“Well, what do you suggest I do?”  I said a little surprised.  She told me to call the factory and negotiate with them.  My next call was to “service at Newmar.”

“It takes us that long and if you think you can get it done for less – please do.”   Back to the insurance co.

“We can get it done for you at Duncan Glass.  It is just 10 mi. north of Napannee.”

“Do they know how to do a big wind shield like this?”

“Oh, yes they do it all the time.”

It was either Duncan or $3500 to the factory.  Duncan was looking pretty good.  I called to make the appointment.  As I did I asked the scheduler if they had the glass in stock.  The factory told me they had to order it and it would take 3-4 days.  She said.  ”Let me check my computer.”  In a moment she was back.  ”The computer says we have 17 in stock.”  I had hope.

When we arrived at Duncan we checked in the night before our appointment.  The service tech said,  ”You guys must have said something to Newmar because tomorrow a team of guys are coming up to watch us do your windshield.   Sure enough at 9 the next morning the VP of service, service supervisors, and a glass specialist were waiting for our coach to be pulled in .  It took one man (with the occasional help of a younger apprentice) about 2 hours to replace the windshield.  The Newmar folks thanked him for the instruction and left quietly.

window replacement

Next we drove 10 mi. south to Nappanee.  It was Sun. afternoon and the coaches were starting to roll in for the next week’s repair.  They have a fascinating schedule.  At 06:00 a technician shows up at your coach and drives it off to service.  You find something to do until 2PM.  Then the coach miraculously reappears on your pad.  This is a ritual.  I had allotted 2 days for my 12 item list.  The tech says the average stay is a week.  I knew he was right.  I don’t know what he was thinking.  On the second day of our week’s stay in Napannee we took a factory tour.  Fascinating.  they wheel in a chassis from Freightliner or Spartan.  They land on air pads.  When the pads are inflated two me can push a 50,000 coach around to the next station.  Plumbing, electrical, structure, finish work.  Then they have you tour the finished coaches.

Bev decided she wanted to consider buying a 2014 model because the driver’s seat had a foot rest that came up and our 2013 model does not.  I recovered from the shock in about 20 min.  I told her we would just buy a newer model chair from the parts store.  Turns out they would not sell us one.  Something about crash safety testing being model specific.  She asked me to call the dealer and see if they had a new one in stock.  ”If its only a few thousand dollars more then we should get it.”

There are times when you have to humor your wife.  I called the dealer.  I told my sales person what I wanted.  Same model.  Same floor plan.  Same colors, just a 2014.”

He asked me if I was serious.  I laughed as I told him I was.  He said he had to check with the owner.  A few hours later he called back and told me it would be 120,000 USD to trade up.  I passed the information along to Bev.  She decided to pass on the foot rest.  I promised to find her an ottoman for her feet for the winter.

Toward the end of the week I drove Bev to Indianapolis to swap her presence for my brother who was flying in to help me on the last half of the journey while Bev flew to San Diego to see her grand kids.  When we returned from Indianapolis hoping to find our coach ready we noticed that the seals around all of the windshield were falling off.  So much for our 2 hour repair.  The Newmar folks mentioned that if they and done it properly in the first place…..  They were nice enough to repair the seals so we could depart the following day.  They were great folks at Newmar.  A pleasure to work with and they clearly knew their stuff.

We passed Chicago at rush hour….always a pleasure in a big motor home, made our way south to St. Louis, Kansas City, and made it to Colorado in about a week.   Along the way we had time to stop and visit friends.  When we pulled into Edwards we went to deploy the famous slide and there was no response.  Trouble shooting on the phone didn’t work.  We would have to return to Fredrick, Colorado north of Denver for further eval of the infamous slide.

Without a doubt our best trip so far.  12,000 miles.  Lots of adventure and discovery.  Good people.  a great summer.

Bev and I are both looking forward to getting back in the coach next summer.


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