March, 2012


05-03-12, Ede (NL), Munich (DE) & Toronto (CA)

Wow,after our trip to Asia we're ready to carry on towards Canada & the States.
view from the airplaneWe got up at 05.00, in a way to early for us. We didn't have to get outta bed this early since at least 4 months.
But we managed. At 06.00 we boarded the train to Schiphol airport for our flight to Munich. We got out of the plane and into the bus toward the terminal. GoofY realized while in the bus that he had left his e-reader in the plane, the most stupid thing to do save from leaving your passport @ home...
But after going to the service desk of Lufthansa, where they told us to go to the departure gate for Toronto anyway, we at least notified them & they would do their damnest best to get it to GoofY before the plane to Toronto left.
We reported in again at the departure counter. They put us through without actually going to the plane itself. So 10 min before the plane to Toronto leaves someone shows up with the e-reader!!! Yes, I love German efficiency!!!
So happy enough we carry on to Canada.
By now we're above Canada, close to Labrador City, with a perfect blue sky with a lot of snow on the ground & beautiful wild nature (as far as we can see from the plane of course).
The next round of pictures is coming up, haha.
From some of the colleges I got the tip to put dates in the travel journal so as to be able to indicate where you left reading the journal & looking @ the pics.


06-03-2012, by family Klop

We landed safely on Toronto airport and were picked up by the family. We spent a nice evening with uncle Gerard and aunt Janine. They took us to a Mandarin restaurant. It's all you can eat idea, they have different salads, all kinds of food (even sushi) and of course a huge variety of desserts. Later in the evening we met Karon en Piet and went to their place, which is Burlington.

Also we already did a test drive with the camper and it felt good for us. So we made up our decision of buying it. After the deposit was paid the main work on the camper started. It has some small things that have to be done, like propane check, changing oil and fixing some tiny oil leek.

On the same day we made a test drive with the camper, we went to the CAA to got us a CAA membership card which allows us to use some facilities when we have troubles on the road. From them we also got a lot of free books about Canada and the USA. After that we went to a place where they could tell us about getting an RV registered on our name and what we need for that, that shouldn't be a problem for us. What is more difficult to get is an insurance, non of the insurance companies want to insure u if u don't have an Ontario driver license. So we do our best to get things going.


07-03-2012, biking along the coast of Ontario lake

Today we went to the Walmart to buy some warm clothes. It's a big department store which has food and also clothes. You can even put your camper there for the night. So after shopping we had some lunch at home and started to arrange things regarding insurance. Goof together with KaronIn the afternoon we went for a bike ride together with Karen, she showed us around the city. We have been to the lake Ontario, which was amazing. Then we kept biking along the shore, looking around and being surprised how spacy the city is. Along the coast of the lake Ontario they have these amazing big houses, it was a please just to look at them. We also went to the Visitor center and had smth to drink in the nearby cafe. Back home we had a tasty dinner, which was a Mexican meal: tortillas with salmon in the form of salad. Our family's been very friendly to us, they really made us feel at home. In the evening we had a nice chit chat about life and we managed to stay awake until 23:00, which is amazing. Because the last days we had a bit of a jet leg, at 20:00 we were very sleepy and had to go to bed.


08-03-2012, disappointment about insurance of the RV

As we mentioned above it's damn difficult to get an insurance for the RV. That is because we don't have an Ontario driving license. So we have no choice but to go for an Ontario driving license. In order to do that we need a verification and a translation of our driving license.

Today we went to the driving school to clarify things about the driving license we have. They told us for the second time that they don't accept the international license and that we have to translate it through the dutch embassy in Canada. Back at home we called the embassy but they don't do that anymore. So we have to wait for at least 10days until we get all these papers from the Netherlands.

As you can imagine we are not happy about it, because it'll cost us the whole month to get the camper on our name. But it's not that simple as we thought it to be, after the driving license is translated and verified, Govert needs to go through 2 tests: a written exam and if he passes it then he needs to go for a second exam which is driving on the highway. Moreover, there is of course a waiting line, so we have to wait for a certain period of time to be able to do the actual exam.


09-03-2012 until 12-03-2012, solving the problem about insurance of the RV

The last a couple of days we were going through a difficult time of finding out how we should insure the RV. We did consider getting an Ontario driving license, but that would take as at least 3 weeks more! Very luckily we have found an other way around it, thx to Pete and Karon.

Meanwhile we went together with Pete and Karon to visit the Niagara falls. It was quite cold up there but we did enjoy the beauty of the falls. In September we are planning to go there again to see the falls surrounded by some greenery. For a quick meal we went to a Danny restaurant and tried some Mexican taco's, which wasn't a bad deal at all.

On Friday, the 9th we met Michele and Iryna cooked an Ukrainian meal. She cooked borsch and cabbage rolls. The whole family liked it a lot, so the recipe should be written down for Karon. The next day we have met the rest of the family: Kevin and Sara with the kids and Daniel.

On Monday the 12th we went to the dealer and arranged all the paper work about ownership of the RV.

We also took Pete and Karon out at the Red Lobster. We had a good meal there. The only thing was that someone from the family didn't get his meal in time. It took a while until we got someones attention and asked about the missing meal. It turned out that the waitress forgot to put in the computer 1 of our meals, so the cook didn't know about the last meal. The waitress felt very bad about what happened and came to us a couple of times to apologize. We got the apology from the manager as well, the price for the meal was of the bill and a check of $ 25 was given. Apparently this is a normal gesture here in Canada and also in the States, if smth goes wrong with serving or smth else, the price goes of the bill and you give less tip. Normally for a good to very good service you pay 15-20% tip. Smth else, in some restaurant you get a refill on your drinks, so for example you pay once for a glass of coke and then you can drink as much as you want for free.

But anyway, we all got a good meal and spent a nice time with each other.


13-03-2012, MTO (ministry of transport Ontario)

We thought today we would be the proud owners of the RV. But unfortunately MTO needed smth else again which we didn't have. Early in the morning we went to them and we thought we gonna get the license plates there. But they said that we miss one more signature on some of the documents. As someone else had to sign it (and that person was at work) we had to say goodbye to the license plates for that moment. Luckily we had that signature in the late afternoon and Govert went again to the MTO. Oh well, to make it more interesting for us they needed some more papers to be filled in, to be more specific they needed an appraisal of the RV. Don' t ask us why they didn't say it before hand! So tomorrow is a new day again to get the license plates.

The good thing about today is that we could say good bye to ant Annie and uncle Gerard. It was nice to see them again. We also got us a nice mountain bike, for the stunning amount of $60.


14-03-2012, proud owners of the RV and Hello America!

'Nieuwe ronde nieuwe kansen' as we say in Dutch (new round, new changes, eg just try again). We went to a dealer for an appraisal. He looked at our RV and said that it's in quite a good shape for such an old RV. Afterwords he earned some easy money for himself and gave us an appraisal ($124). We went to the MTO again, but this time in a different place (where the dealer was, that saved Karen to drive up and down). When they asked for a proof that we live in Burlington, I couldn't believe it.....again smth which we didn't have with us. But then after some talking with her she kinda turned a blind eye to it and agreed to give us out the license plates. The BIG M says it all...That was a very happy day for us! In some way we couldn't believe all the s****y paper work stuff was behind of us, and we could actually drive in the RV:) We went first to Martin (who checked and fixed some stuff on the RV) and paid him the remainder. Then we went to Pete and Karon and started cleaning the RV. Iryna was feeling a little bit sick at that time but we still decided to start driving the same day towards Chicago. Around 17:15 we said good bye to the family and started driving. The odometer was showing 120.184 km, let see how much it will be at the end of our trip! It felt definitely good to be on the road again. The RV was driving very smooth and we enjoyed it a lot! At 21:38 we crossed the border with the States. We didn't have to wait in a line, which was great. The whole procedure of crossing the border went very quickly and we got a visa until the 12th of June. After crossing the border we found a Walmart and parked there for a night. We also did some shopping there, that we have some food for in the morning.


15-03-2012 until 16-03-2012, driving through Michigan, Indiana and Illinois.

The second day driving was for Iryna very difficult. She got quite sick, like high temperature, it almost hit 40 C, so she slept the whole day and the whole night. We stopped then and again for some break. It was a first time for Iryna that she was so sick. She had 0 energy, each muscle hurted and she almost couldn't walk because her legs weren't strong enough. The next day we took it easy as well and we arrived in Romeoville (close by Chicago) in the evening. We met Iryna's uncle and his gf. They were very friendly and offered us a lot of food (typical Ukrainian gesture hihi) We had a small chit-chat with them and had to bring our RV at Iryna's cousin place for an overnight. It was great to meet my cousin, whom I haven' t seen for ages!!!! We met his wife Kimberly as well. After making plans for the next day we went to bed.


17-03-2012 until 21-03-2012, staying in Romeoville, Naperville and Chicago

Alex (Iryna's cousin) and Kim took us out to discover Chicago. We went with the car and most of the time we enjoyed Chicago throughout the window of the car. Iryna with her cousinIryna was very glad about that choice because she still felt sick and didn't have energy to explore Chicago by foot. It turned out to be a St. Patrick's day, so it was pretty busy in the town. We had a walk in the Ukrainian district, payed a visit to the church and bought some Ukrainian food. Then we visited some bad districts in Chicago and went to the Navy pier. We had a nice walk along the Michigan lake, took some pictures and headed to have a look at the house where Iryna's dad used to live.

In the evening, Alex and Kim took us out for some food, it was delicious! We spent a great time with them.

The next day four of us went to uncle Stepan. He was organizing a family lunch. The other cousin of Iryna came over and his dad with the gf. It felt good to see them after some long years...

Because it's an Ukrainian lunch, a bottle of vodka was present on the table. Only Govert and Marija (gf of uncle Slavik) were drinking vodka. Unfortunately Govert drank a little to much, Iryna didn't much like that... (oohps).
We stayed the rest of the day with Stephan.

Monday was a relaxing day for us, we didn't do much, just talked with uncle Stepan and also went with him to the doctor, because his back was hurting. Stepan showed us around his village, Romeoville, which is beautiful. In the evening we had some Ukrainian food and uncle Stepan brought us back to Alex's place. Tuesday, the 21th Alex got a day off, so we went together to see his village and we also visited a Hindu temple and an army museum. In the evening when Kim got home, we ordered a Chicago pizza and watched The big bang theory. Unfortunately we had to say goodbye to Kim in the evening, as we were leaving early in the morning the next day.


22-03-12 until 27-03-12, passing through Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas!

Here we are again. In the last a couple of days we have made some miles. After saying 'good bye' to Alex, we left Naperville (Chicago area) 22-03 in the morning.

Living in the RV is fun. We bought some groceries, filled up the propane tank (we cook on it, the fridge, the heating and hot water goes on it as well) and bought some nice things to make the RV a home for us. Also, water tank needed to be filled. We usually stop by Walmart to do some shopping and sometimes we overnight there as well.

Since we left Naperville we have been driving long miles through the states that are mentioned above. 22 and 23 of March the weather wasn't that good, it was raining once in a while, but it was warm +/- 20 C.


24–03

We entered the Mississippi state. We found out that you can overnight at some rest areas in Mississippi. They have 24h security, so you are safe there. There is the Natchez Trace Parkway, in Mississippi. It starts in Nashville and goes the whole way down to Natchez. It's a beautiful scenic drive through amazing landscapes full with history. We didn't do the whole trail, we started in Kosciusko city and have been following it up to Natchez. Here we also saw an alligatorThey also have a Bald Cypress trees there which thrive in a swamp and a beautiful Pearl river. There is a state camping, where we spent 2 nights. The first nights on the camp site in the States, they were amazing! Just when we arrived our neighbors Ted and his wife invited us to have a campfire together. It turned out that they came from Canada and been traveling for a long time as well. Because Ted is like a 'socializing butterfly' he enjoys company very much, so he invited Katharine and Newell to have a campfire with us. It was an amazing evening, our campfire was going surrounded with huge Cypress trees and a perfect clear sky with lots of stars!
The next day our RV was cleaned, especially the windows :) and Govert, Ted and Newell took away the awning from the RV. According to Ted, there are very strong winds in Texas and they would tear our awning apart.
We also found out, in a very funny way, that you can't use the shower in the RV like you do it at home, (Iryna was in the shower when the water ran out, so...). Luckily they had drinking water at that camping so we could fill up the water tank. By the way, it was a free camping with good facilities: drinking water, clean toilets and big camp places with BBQ :).
Iryna did some washing done and she got a cloth line from our good buddy Ted :) As Govert likes fiddling around, he fixed some stuff in and around the RV. We also enjoyed a mountain bike ride in the forest. It seems like squirrels love our small bag which is attached to the mountain bike. It was open throughout a day and she or he managed to build a nest in there hihi
In the evening, we all together had a campfire. This time with mush-mallows. We had a good fun together, chit chatting, laughing and just simple getting to know each other better.


27-03

We had to say 'good bye' to each other and we left our separate ways. In the afternoon we were in Louisiana. The first thing we noticed were amazing trees, they were not only huge but also very impressive......we did enjoyed driving through this state. It has a beautiful landscape and the water is around everywhere. We were driving on a bridge that was miles long, surrounded by the wetlands....it was an amazing view. For the first time we saw longhorns there as well :) Louisiana is a small state so the same day we were in Texas:) Everything is big in Texas hihihi...