Road Trekin Days

At the Pembroke Ontario Fiddlefest with our “new” RV

We were the very proud owners of a Roadtrek RV for 4 years after retiring. We had tried out an RV rental in Florida previously and really liked the freedom of roaming everyday and staying in nature at night. So we weren’t complete novices when we purchased our 1999 Roadtrek 190 Versatile in August 2010. Our friends Betty and Glenn had been RVing for years and were encouraging us. Glenn even came with me to kick the tires before we purchased from an elderly couple who could not climb in easily anymore.

Sanibel Island Florida

Some technicalities for those not familiar with RVs. There are 3 basic types of RV motorhomes. Class A refers to the biggest ones which are bus like in shape and size and cost upwards of $200K new. These are big enough to live in however the cost of upkeep and their huge size does make for some limitations we thought. Class B refers to a converted van – what we bought. The advantage is you can park these in your laneway or on a city street and easily move from place to place. The tradeoff is their relatively small interior space. They cost upwards of $100K new. The Class C are a compromise between the A and B and is what we had rented in Florida. They are extremely popular and cost $75K and up new. You cannot easily park these in your laneway (neighbours may complain) and some cities will not let you park them in public places due to their unsightliness in some circles. There are also trailers and various pop-up campers which we were not attracted to mainly because you have to tow it.

So we decided to buy a used RV and found a Roadtrek 190 Versatile (19 feet long) in the Gatineau area. Rather than explain it all here, if you are curious, here is a link to a detailed video of what this particular unit is all about. Skip if not interested and/or you are already familiar with RV technology. It is a very complex machine that does provide all the comforts of home in a new place everynight. Roadtreks at that time were manufactured in Kitchener, ON so we eventually toured their factory to see how they put these popular units together. It is the intricate cutting and fitting that makes these so expensive. Yes it is crowded and a real test of your marriage lol!

We knew we would like the lifestyle of hitting the road and camping but perhaps we did not realize just how much fun and freedom it would all be. We went places we would never otherwise have gone and enjoyed meeting so many interesting people. We usually stayed in RV and State parks when we traveled. We also would stay in casino parking lots or campgrounds very cheaply and use their facilities. I don’t remember ever staying overnight in a Walmart parking lot or a highway rest stop as we did not consider these locations safe. At one point we lived in our baby for 3+ months when we were between houses. All told I think we spent about a year living in it and put on 60,000 km in four short years. In the end we had had enough and moved up to the comfort of renting motel rooms and condos when we traveled. Will never forget the good times we had and we understand the current frenzy people have about getting out of the city and camping during the Covid pandemic. It is a great lifestyle if you enjoy travelling and the outdoors.

Some of the trips we took over the four years we had our Roadtrek were to:

  • Pembroke, ON Fiddlefest
  • Algonguin Park and Midland, ON
  • Washington, DC
  • Renfrew, ON Bluegrass Festival
  • Florida 3 times
  • San Diego, CA
  • Winnipeg, MB
  • Finger Lakes, NY
Friends Glenn and Betty

Our very first trip was to Pembroke for the annual Labour Day Weekend Fiddlefest. This is a big deal with hundreds of RVs crowded into the beautiful Riverside park. There are hundreds of “amateur” musicians playing fiddles, guitars, pianos, string bass and singing and dancing at multiple pop up sites. People come from all over Ontario, western Quebec, northern US to participate or simply enjoy. Our friends the Clarkes had been going for years and had a large camping spot reserved that we could fit our Roadtrek into. I remember pulling into the registration area and just as we did we heard a loud pop like a gunshot. Everyone ducked. When we got out we found that one of the tire valves which was old and cracked had simply failed with a loud bang and we had a flat tire lol! We managed to get the tire fixed that day I think and all went well from then.

Our setup with Glenn and Betty

We were soon introduced to the routine of making the rounds to the various music venues until the late hours and than sleeping in the next day, going for a walk, eating and then doing it all over again. The music, laughter and hospitality was absolutely great. Here are a few pics.

The highlight for sure was an original song that Debbie and Maggie Beschamps wrote and performed called Whippoorwill Betty. This talented mother and daughter team had a large RV on the same site that we were in and put on a great show every night that was very popular. They had become good friends with Betty and Glenn and in appreciation composed and sang this song about Betty’s distinctive laugh for the first time. You must see the live version below I recorded. Our RV provides the backdrop.

This was the first of several visits to this Ottawa Valley festival. Sadly it was cancelled in 2020 due to Covid. We are hoping it will be a go this year. Wow, our first local RV trip was truly a great one. Thanks for reading. As usual your comments and questions are welcome.

Dave and Marie

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