We grew by two!

One of the reasons we chose to buy a Leisure Travel Van was because of its compact size and manoeuvrability. We knew, or at least we hoped, that we could go everywhere with it, because, that’s what we wanted to do! Go Everywhere.

And we wondered, and agonized, all the long while that we patiently waited for its arrival, whether we needed a TOAD to go with.

For those not in the know, a TOAD stands for a Towed Vehicle. We don’t own a car to tow, and we *really* didn’t want to buy one, because, well, we bought the LTV to be our car.  Funny though, while parked at the LTV Factory in Winkler, settling into our brand new UnityIB, we met a fellow LTV’er just passing by, who just happened to be selling his TOAD: a really cute little Smart Car. And on the impulse of the moment, we *almost* bought it. We talked ourselves out of it though.

So then what? We switched gears, learned ourselves some research, and pedalled ourselves towards something else. How about a motorcycle? Or a Scooter? And then there are Bicycles? Or how about those E-bikes, for those longer distances?

The list of questions, the head-scratching and pondering, the pros and cons of each went On and On.  While Dave has a Motorcycle licence, I’d need to get mine. Something I was quite open to and willing to do. But motorcycling would put us on busy streets, busy-er perhaps then what we were hoping to do during our time not EnRoute. Not really the way we were leaning.

Would carrying extra weight increase our fuel consumption? And we love to hike, how would we combine another activity with that? Did we really need anything else? We were getting pretty tyred of all the questions we were asking of ourselves.

Never having RV’d before, we didn’t quite know how we would adapt to this new-to-us lifestyle. How would RV’ing Adventures play out, really? There’s the *idea* that one has, of what you imagine this lifestyle to be.  And in our experience of travelling, we’ve learned that there are the *reality* of what it’ll actually be like when you’re out there, *for real*.

Being ever prudent, we gave ourselves a season of adventuring, to see how we would evolve. And especially how many times during our trip we might say something like “Gee, I wish we had… a TOAD? A motorcycle? A scooter? Bicycles?” Right?

So what did we learn during that first Season? In our travels, there wasn’t one campground we haven’t been able to get into or get out of with our Leisure Travel Van. There’s not one parking lot we haven’t been able to find a spot to park safely in. And since we tend to move around every few days to a week or so, there was *never* a time we said, “Gee, we wish we had a TOAD.”

And when we Adventured in places, we never really felt the need for a Motorcycle/Scooter, although, we both agreed, that in some instances and in some places, it certainly would have been a lot of FUN!

Then there was this one time in South Carolina where we met up with dear friends who surprised us by planning a day-long adventure. When we arrived at the parking lot we thought we were stopping for a coffee. Instead, we went next door to the bike rental shop!  Boy, were we surprised. And intrigued at the Adventure that lay ahead of us.

We first had to pick a helmet. Something both of us HATE wearing.

But we got past it, and our Adventure would take us on 16 miles of the Swamp Rabbit Trail. On a perfectly paved path. On rental bikes that weren’t really all that comfortable. Or made for my small size. Or Dave’s bigger frame.

And GollyGeeWhiz, didn’t our thighs start to ache in about, oh, the first five minutes?  What’s that, not even a mile?  How were we going to do 16 miles? However, the scenery soon took our aches away, and what a bunch of FUN we had. Stopping whenever wherever along the way. And I didn’t even for one moment feel guilty about ordering, and thoroughly enjoying  {{ without sharing }} an entire portion of dessert with lunch that day.

The next day there were admittedly just a few moans and groans as we got ourselves out of bed. Our bodies had responded to this new movement with complaints in muscles that hadn’t been used for a very long time. And Boy did our Butts ever hurt! We laughed about it. And we talked about it. And promptly realized, with growing enthusiasm, that cycling just might be *our thing.*

We discussed how bicycling would allow us to go further than hiking might permit, we would see more. We would still be able to enjoy the fresh air, the outdoors. We would be able to stop for snacks or lunches, or whenever Photo-Ops might appear. We would be getting some exercise. All important things for us.

Other than the buying of equipment, there would be no added cost, because it’s “all ass, no gas.” What a cycologist type of revelation, huh?

What followed was a bit of research to narrow down what KIND of bicycles we wanted. We knew we wanted to be able to go anywhere; from asphalt roads to bicycle paths to OffRoad trails.  As we got excited at the possibilities, we knew we wanted to tackle not only quaint little village streets but trails strewn with tree roots. We wanted to gear down on the hills and tackle the leaf-strewn paths with safety and speed, and *tires only know* what else. 

As we finished our Season and came back home to Halifax, we visited a few shops and gave them our list of wants and needs. Walking away from each shop had us knowing a little more about what we wanted. And what we didn’t. After battling with some of the likes and dislikes, the pros and cons, and yes, even the Customer Service we received, we finally chose to go with Giant Bicycle (Halifax) specifically the Talon 2 for Dave, and the Liv Tempt 3 for me. 

And they were promptly told they were on order, and it might be a week or three. Don’t you hate buying something, and then having to wait for its arrival? 

{{ sigh }}

As we *patiently* waited for time to pass, we set about to researching and ordering all the accoutrements. Bicycle helmets, panniers, spares of all kinds.

And a bicycle pump!

“Did you know Bicycle pumps seem to get more expensive every year?”
”No, I didn’t. Really?”
“Yup, it’s all that inflation”.

{{ groan }}

and of course, we needed ourselves a Hitch. We ordered, received and installed the Swagman Hitch.

Just then? As if on Cue? We got THE phone call. Our bikes had arrived. And just like that, we grew by two. 

We were pretty darn excited to try them out.

And found them to be extremely comfortable. Adaptive and responsive on all terrains we tried them out on. And yes, our butts were still sore. So we upgraded our seats.

Then came the real test. We started Season Two with Bikes in Tow. We travelled. And we used them. Oh boy, how did we use them?

We found ourselves needing to Get a Grip as we sunk into the soft sand. Walking in Sand while pushing your bike? Not as easy as it looks.

Cycling past some hazards on the road?

Let’s paddle outta here, let those sleeping alligators sleep!!

And when we were in Zion? The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive shuttle that we wanted to take was full. And the lineup for the next one? Even longer. So we looked at each other, and wondered if we were up to the challenge of riding our bikes? We thought we might be, knew we could take the shuttle if we weren’t, and turns out we rode the whole thing. And it remains one of the most memorable rides we’ve ever done.

We got pretty tyred that day !!

During Season Two, we dealt with one flat tire. Thankfully it happened just as we got back from a ride: a nail punctured the tube just minutes from where our LTV was parked. While en route the next day, we Google’d ourselves a bike shop, and had it fixed in a matter of minutes.

And then there was that time that we went to disembark the bikes and found that the seat had some curious dents in it. We can only assume a very large bird decided to use the seat as an overnight perch, digging his very pointy talons into the cushy padding in an effort to get himself comfortable. What an imprint he made.

We’ve become cyclists who torque the talk!

Please understand that this article is by no means allowing us to be SPOKESpeople of either Giant Bicycle, the Talon2 or LivTempt 3, or Leisure Travel Vans. This is just our story of how we Grew by Two, and how we’re happy users of all of the above.

And appreciate your tolerance and enjoyment of all the Wheelie-Terrible Bike Puns.

Thanks for Reading, Ride OnOn!

On the Road with Al and Ev – From Arizona to Utah Pt. 1

Determined to get to the Grand Canyon before it got too hot, we got an early start. As we drove through the Coconino Forest up the Oak Creek Canyon Trail, we marvelled at the more than one million acres of forest – the largest in the United States.

Relying on the information about the geology that I had gathered from one of the Pink Jeep guides, I’ll share with you what I know about the white rock pinnacles and the red rocks below them that blazed the trail for us: a tectonic shift millions of years ago changed the desert into white rock while the seashore became red rock because the water rusted it. I agree that this short summary might not suit a geologist, but for us it was perfect.

Since we had taken a day off to rest and hadn’t been on the road for two days we had completely forgotten to diesel up, so we found ourselves on this gorgeous highway, wending and winding at 25 mph, worried we’d run out of gas. As Allie put it, we did the last few miles on fumes, and coasted into an Exxon station at the end of the highway. It took nineteen and seven/eighths gallons to fill the 20-gallon tank, and we were more than happy to give Exxon the credit card. We are spending about one hundred dollars a day on gasoline, more than we spend on food and shelter combined.

When Mr. Gospel of AAA talked with us about Grand Canyon he said,” You look down, then you look up, then you travel on.” Turned out he was right because although it’s magnificent in its depth and vastness, it doesn’t have the aura of Sedona, the magic of Carlsbad or the wonder of the Petrified Forest. We did a bus tour, tried to see the movie, but it was “under construction”. We did marvel at the bus service – dozens, perhaps hundreds, of buses leave their stations every fifteen minutes, and the passengers get on or off as they choose.

I think what disappointed us most was the attitude of the crowds. In every park we had been in people had observed the magnificence with wonder and awe, even a sense of reverence. Here, perhaps because there were so many people who seemed to be in a rush to beat the crowds, there was only noise and confusion. It felt more like a big city than a sanctified wonder. Perhaps if we’d been younger and had been able to hike or horseback ride into the canyon we would have experienced the essence of Teddy Roosevelt’s dream.

A detour in the middle of the desert, which added 75 miles to the trip, took us by surprise; an Indian trading post had neither Indian handcraft nor fry bread, so we stopped hoping for a good ending to the day. The Lake Powell RV Park turned out to be lovely, in a small town called Page, with the bonus of a McDonalds and a Walmart close by. But, best of all, the locals told us that Zion and Bryce (our next destinations) were wonderful, so we fell into bed with happy thoughts.

The next morning we were in Utah, and Utah is gorgeous! We found it a little greener than Arizona as we travelled the two lane highway to Zion National Park. The sand is red, as are the rocks, there are almost no cars, a few trailers, an occasional house and a horizon filled with huge towers of Navajo rock in shapes which have been named by the locals. We passed The Mushrooms and laughed. The name is so apt. Coral Dunes State Park looked inviting but we wanted to get to Zion. Its red rock sand dunes are brushed into parallel striations, looking as if a vacuum cleaner had left its marks on the rock faces. A herd of bison graze. And then the road changed from black to red and we arrived in the Park.

A moment to talk about the Senior Pass. We have had one since we first visited a national park on our way to the Canadian Rockies years ago, but it has been upgraded. They took away the cardboard card and gave us a plastic one, no charge, and thank you. So every Park and Monument we go to is absolutely free. Think about what a wonderful country we live in and bless Theodore Roosevelt for his insight and foresight.

TIP: Buy a Senior Pass if you are 62 years of age or older. It costs $10.00, is good for a lifetime, and gives you free passage to any National Park or Monument.

Zion: the Mormons named it and they couldn’t have done better. Many of the rocks have religious names, i.e. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The truth is if one wanted to pray, this would be the best spot for it, better than any church, temple or mosque. The visitor is overcome by the majesty of the scenery. When Allie was driving in at 20 mph, winding his way up and down the mountains with no guard rails as we pass gorges hundreds of feet below, I asked him if he was OK driving. He laughed and touched my arm with his sweaty palm. “Scared shirtless” he answered.

A mile long tunnel through a mountain was too narrow for RVs with two-way traffic, so the Rangers stopped the traffic one way to let us (and dozens of others) go through. We hopped onto a shuttle bus, and took an 80-minute tour stopping at highlights in the Park. An interesting movie capped it all.

We arrived at the Zion RV Resort, which really is a resort, complete with beach, laundry, showers, and a mini 7-11. The next day we leave for Bryce Canyon which people can’t say enough good things about.

What an adventure!


Photo Contest Runners-Up

The Notable Favorites

There were many great submissions for the 2015 Photo Calendar Contest that we’ve put together the top 20 runner up images for you to enjoy. Congratulations to our winners who will be featured on the 2015 Leisure Travel Vans Calendar and thank you to all who entered. Happy shooting!

uf22c_Y3bSjqR3FKznV-XsCnLjXpSYr8Y6CzSNd0XF8,u-msFzOrB22pRRyDKhl39oCcdTsTlTgHgpA_OjXRydw,SzMQfy_i-jwsumgiBICw8GNjlSNsNx0y4vUCgMOVz_I,1x3lI6rJDfpf-bv4Mtgl9IkWfczzrEwb__X7hVFVmk4Roadside view of the fall colors near Lake Saint Mary, Glacier National Park. Photo by Alan Lichty.

Ugsz1v_Hts2x3SiNvSSzSouu8ymFggFwcMcsXi8wvK4,7vBLegq02q4_jXW9da48Lv_P1Nho2PYL5GqxBLRpQR8,hcg_kxt-vkOH-GR88qOo_KIONXOAZIqVr2Z4eM9A-Hs,NTsaWY47dT32IJBzPP3K1DohswbaJ-DFlYxGYktKTv4Road adventures in comfort – our shakedown cruise in our new Unity in-front of Bow Lake in Banff National Park. Photo by Freda Montague.

HumK_kCv05AjV-eU9wos7gWitfDw4g9CZIzKv55-DcI,KvVxblST7JJoFYD89m3_ZWcgXfAzN6uKTGWdpljow78,6B2QeuZ8eFqz6ddUnU55F2NHSRB50Xy7Gl8UZ32U2vEThrough the Red Rock tunnel traveling to the Red Rock Amphitheater in Denver, Colorado. Photo by Tobey Cat.

mQdUe36T69OzfMAAqLg9xWJ95_x7JtqS-CI_meghrps,LPA1xFllUZ0y82JgghAIpNOFZHWOltB6VQN4ZSM1e0w,mBCc8IW1fpOYO7PNCAuuVcpeTRlD8Noj8E7CJ_onKUEThe good life. Kicked back in Babcock State Park, West Virginia. Photo by Donna Johnston.BoroUs0hYN0FeYU43aZZGMDwJfgEKGvdXzN2RV0EhGc,GTO6Jo2GQV8cEhb1Z-8aVNlmUUPrv9yH6jth9cekJcUIn Northern Maine along the Chain of Ponds during our east coast trip in September. Photo by Dave Matthews.8QIBF2z81EzHvichtdKnZCpx-_aK1Tg8uWWhNJBrDM8,vT-J6Sik4hxvJj3wZoTP36Pm6hw8YEKbRgl0jW9Kl_8June wildflowers and the Teton Mountains in Grand Teton National Park. Photo by Franklyn Knox.6y3UKuDO46_fU-Xa1-fOWWXuQhXxRW5XyowLp1DbUVsOur Free Spirit in Grand Teton National Park. Photo by Leslie Eppstein.VtU59h2_EVmV-afFXUxkHQDZPUPBmtxWMIstUGt5VAY,5dnJRMKW_X6SfebdYmne3XB8v07hTtWKYJRWwFZvTBE,v_MxgAhooocIrukVfw9AODEIiQfVV9JUmppMEMwSAUM,uEUmJJugZ7w5uE1Cb8dm0ZxGeuqIBAAccgK6dWb06kUI took my 87 year old dad on a tour of the Columbia River Gorge. My first RV is a far cry from his first RV – a brand new 1976 Volkswagen Westfalia picked up in Wolfsburg. But they do share the same German heritage. Photo by Andrew Jansky.Nzpt4-AGngJN0t-xMCjJL-hK0rwX4ljQrFuo4nJhQLo,BAmNjqsg_dhDRJ-qx9cfkGth8eMaiZTvkeUEjrij_LI,fl9kaCoVm_Te6mk9xNXa306Z9gGq3g2GbzeqJcB7o2sSometime the sky offers a treat before a downpour…. it’s no problem in our Unity – we have all the confort inside!. Photo by Danny Grondin.ofjuj2gvApTiAl34tlayODvhZQc65lA6z1jnMP4FcUUDriving in Monument Valley, Arizona. Photo by Don Brueggeman.OrJXNRVt_W_Ly5MH6-Yd9y0ththvqUfkHvwSE5Rxu7M,qejex9eZYbZSR3qyU9r1qiDcpVYGKGWkQmLnhzbnjO8,3pDhmPdEagPp08kf4yoCBlBtU2iZ4cWtTmimCO8ZrfcAdmiring the scenery at Huron Lookout in the Gatineau Park. Photo by André Beaumier.mIVj2sIoYxR-Qh_DJlHsucvBqdlgV3hhktkNPHUNchEThis must be heaven! The clouds parted to display Nature’s finest – right outside our door, at the Icefield Centre near the Columbia Icefield in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada. Photo by Linda Planting.0mAWO-TUnw-O69f06X6w_TSTLDtA0DWwUX0iP05pCDw,vJENS25sca8jGFqhg-dmR8FYBEDEggJHimIAuM5o5o4Enjoying our nightly campfire and star gazing at White River National Forest, Redstone Campground, Colorado. Photo by Marie Carole Aliotta.SG8DZ5qCFwr3wBv5qH9S5G4DKBvsvSpFjNo8PyBkUrsWilson Arch on the way to Moab, Utah. Photo by Don Brueggeman._VPrjAsCjx8Ve_FaH5ryX6E5vXYEtoGMrgG6_qaQWNE,66dlusrhL7r6YT4Atj1cnJyskucivEeIxUoW4J2fPFUA little Serenity at the end of a perfect day! Photo by Chris Taylor.KXOvJPKAdxmxXSA5BKu3u9XMJNbC7It1VTNhqgujyGA,nE8E_ovQRgQHr1y8NZ6vkfd258ninDiNaxSwzjuDT0E,c8yee8nShOyVH_Uqtcjv5Wjr5O-9i85qvnAkT4etFiA,A9rajhJAa4TQ0z8WSehMjVzpnZofIOY5T2nY7zOn758My 2014 Unity TB alongside a nice grove of old growth forest in Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Photo by Alan Lichty.T1f-lDW562X621CDPuzW50Joa0EZP3862HP2FsivncQ,yErI0mnKrlgRrTZcisuNFrWSOkGP_pU89XxP2Db00DQ,fy_LRC_TPw50q_J6B7WHLZC4VS_uZqOMiDarYrBD524,MGsxdomxnS9Q4tkDWd9jztextOInHK6vwHNjrxCOhrY,oM5eVjxfMLxbhqIzQ9YUCtY_iZtn8PUaAIOj-isKRC0For us, there’s a great deal of joy being part of an awesome sunrise or sunset. We really feel that, even if they only last for a little while, those moment are so precious. Life is good! Photo by Dany Grondin.AzRM7EzeNPI4CHp25MuWG4NIydjY1rMDg7sIzGqnYwo,xDyXrYgavVR1B9H9JHP0EeGd06GCBF0NIYaMbmXEvzk,8H3APVSm3kfa6cBp6_l47qOSUHrit9iHlN7cKImosEYOn the open road on Hwy 395 in Oregon. Photo by Christian Massey.SXQKiztFOAcK3weV5V0T-ydeVLinyZXf9Lfg_a0Ew5k,li2WqmpVJzgAxQih-0WDcai0fMsBVcDtqkqr7pkf23E,A2eYagm7zDpfM2Lq9m5Y6rZ0d2zAruUILB_5OwyBba0Devil’s Tower rises majestically over a mesa in Wyoming. Photo by Manuel De Lizarriturri.H2RysMStHBGB9ZRyEt5Lmd-Ymc5mly5an8b56317bqI,Nl2StWocn41oT_EkY_c3CHlO-OdvPiP4P1ddW6YAA2I,QwXUwZdDvNsx641a6DybRd7cmIZuYlxDGZzy8oAcbF8Exploring Zion National Park on mountain bikes. Photo by Robert Widinski.