La Coquille











Information Bulletin for Safari Condo Owners Vol. 6 Number. 1, April. 2004


Translated by Yvan Dumontier

Mail from USA!


By Richard Merry


Dear Safari Condo friends,

I wish to thank you for the calendar as well as the English version of La Coquille. My sister studied French in University, but since that’s a long time ago, our efforts to translate past issues had room for improvement.. Reading great journeys of other Condists is a good cure for winter blues and an inspiration for my next adventures for the coming year.

Last year’s vacations were my first in a Safari Condo. Before, I had a modified Safari but without the pop-up roof. What a difference! With my Safari Condo, I made two great  expeditions.

In May, I left for a two-week voyage through the Carolinas all the way to the Outer Banks region, more precisely Kitty Hawk, where I witnessed preparations for the Wright Brothers Inaugural Flight Celebrations. I then drove up to the Smoky Mountains to join an Appalachian Trail Hikers Meeting, in southern Virginia. Everywhere I went, campers all around would comment on my Safari Condo. Many enquired about the manufacturer’s phone number and e-mail address.

The last week in June, I left Georgia for a two month trip across Colorado and all the Northwest United States. My adventure is called « National Parks and all the Unseen Forests ». This tour included : the Rockies, Mount Rushmore, Crater Lake, Mount St-Helens, Theodore Roosevelt National Park et Big Horn Mountains National Forest in Wyoming. I revisited many places and enjoyed many great hikes. My Safari Condo is a great  moving base camp and once again drew the attention of many around my campsite.

Thanks for your help in making these adventures even more enjoyable and, above all, more comfortable.




Richard Merry,  a Georgian Condist.



The Power of Sharing


By Michèle

Throughout the Spring Shows, Daniel can see in people’s faces if innovations or improvements developed over the past year will survive or join the “nice try, but not that great” file. If people are often too polite to speak the truth, their body language never lies. Unlike TV or the print media, shows are the only medium with not only a mouth, but also ears and eyes.

It is also where  we meet many of our customers who drop by to appreciate our “newies” or simply to shake hands and small talk. Listening to all of you during these short meetings, I realised all the power of a group such as ours. You mentioned being lulled by the sea among dunes inhabited by wild horses, spending the night in our Safari Condo at the farm on an island in the middle of the St-Lawrence, or tasting fiery chili in the Bayou. Hanging on your every word, my GPS-brain (I can hear Daniel burst out laughing) was already figuring out how to get there on the next trip. How come I didn’t know about this charming place, that southern odour, or worse, that little corner of Quebec yet so close to home. The answer is : the world is huge and life so short. Imagine what we could learn with 1 200 lives… How much experience we could gain in 84 000 years! This is what our group is all about : a shortcut across the universe, a front seat at the great life spectacular.

Not only are great expeditions extraordinary, so are little magic moments like each one of us experiences travelling in a Safari Condo. The smell of wet hay, the blowing whales in the morning mist, a game of Scrabble with friends in the middle of the St-Lawrence, or that night before Christmas by the river, on the Lévis shoreline with the Château Frontenac in the background.

These moments and images exist only in my memories, valuable though fleeting impressions, that come to life when I share them with you. You too have anchored perfect moments in your album of memories where they await liberation, ready to fly off as a shared experience.

Take up your pencil, sit down at your keyboard and tell me about your secret spot, be it in the Yukon or a week-end in the Musée de la Civilisation de Québec parking lot. The place is less important than the beauty and happiness therein.





If you are part of the Overnight Havens group and you move, please let us know. The new owners may be quite surprised to find a Safari Condo at their doorstep in the morning!





GPS or Global Positioning System


More and more popular among travellers, the GPS is a great way of knowing where you are at all times with tons of information at your fingertips. This system may seem fairly new, but I’ve been using it for flying since 1989. Developed initially by the US Army, GPS was rapidly adopted by civil and commercial aviation and pleasure boating. At first, units were quite large and expensive, although its utility was undeniable and its precision, remarkable.   

Unlike the cell phone that operates only in occupied areas, GPS works around the world, as long as the antenna can see the sky. Over the years, the price of units has dropped and the units downsized such that they are now used everywhere: surveying, aviation, navy, construction, outdoor activities and automobiles.

Let me tell you more about the use of GPS for car  travel. Once you’ve purchased the GPS, there are no other fees to pay. Access to the network satellites is free. There are two types of GPS: small self-contained portable units, and ones which must be connected to a computer.


Small self-contained portable GPS: (self-contained unit can also be connected to a laptop)

In this first category, the Garmin 295 and the Garmin StreetPilot can be used in the car, or boat, or for hiking. The Garmin 295 is quite affordable between 500 $ and 600 $ (don’t forget that it is self-contained and does not require a laptop!), but bring your reading glasses, as the display is quite small. The same applies to the Garmin StreetPilot, though easier to read with its colour screen. With its comprehensive maps, its main benefit lies in its voice prompted turn-by-turn navigation. In urban areas, it will tell you which exit or street to take.

If your lifestyle calls for a portable self-contained GPS, it can also be connected to a computer and, using digitised maps, provide large-scale maps, detailed and in colour.


Computer add-on GPS :

The other type is very small, works only with a computer, is easy to use with a single connector and needs no batteries.

I personally use Microsoft Streets and Trips (70 to 100 $CA) without GPS; I also use DeLorme Earthmate GPS (199 $CA) which includes Street Atlas software.


Streets and Trips offers more detailed maps of Canadian cities and towns. One can even enter the address or Postal Code and the program will immediately find it on the map. Used in conjunction with a GPS, very little additional information is available. However, you will always know where you are on the map: a little car represents your vehicle on the roadmap in real time. It will also indicate your altitude above sea level.


The DeLorme Kit, on the other hand, has maps of Canada adequate for planning your trip, but too basic when searching for a specific urban address. But the US maps are very detailed, almost as much as Microsoft Streets and Trips. This GPS is great because it’s both easy to use and simple to set-up: the GPS and the Streets Atlas 2004 software were designed to work together. The GPS functions are both numerous and elaborate. They include spoken instructions (English only), a speed, bearing, altitude and satellite indicator. This program can trace your travel on the map, tell you how much time and kilometres are left before the next turn, the next stopover, or the end of the trip. It also indicates, in large type, the upcoming course changes. When the GPS is plugged in, it operates as soon as the laptop is on. If you so desire, the map rotates to lead in the direction you are travelling. The laptop on board your Safari Condo will rapidly become an essential travel companion: a road atlas when coupled with a GPS, or a TV using a tuner. A DVD ROM makes a night at the movies a cinch, and e-mail keeps you in touch with the world.


New for 2004


Following a busy winter, the new season brings new products for installation in most of your vehicles.


Kichen Shelter :

The kitchen shelter is ready at last (see it on When this project started, little did I know what lied ahead, as it was not one, but five kitchen shelter models that had to de designed in the end. We ended up with different kitchen shelter models for the following Safari Condos: Soft-top 16, 18 and 20 footers, and electric-roof 18 and 20 footers. Take note that the shelter is the same; all that differs is the way it attaches to the vehicle. There are, at this time, some limitations on propane-water-heater equipped 18 and 20 footers. Unless you have the Electric Top 20’ Safari Condo with propane water heater, we cannot sell the shelter because the shelter canvas is almost directly in the path of the propane water heater exhaust. In order to solve this problem, we are looking for fireproof fabric. Should you have any  good ideas, we are open to suggestions.


Removable Air Conditioning :

This summer air conditioner unit is suitable for installation in the drivers side rear door of 18 and 20 footers. My brother Stéphane and I have developed and tested this product last summer. During the winter, we worked on its appearance and ordered the necessary dies for the fibreglass components. At this time, it is priced at 695 $ and includes first-time installation. Set-up or removal of unit takes about 20 minutes. A few rental units are available for 195 $ for the first month, and 75 $ for any additional month. This includes set-up and removal upon return. When you return rental unit, you may purchase the unit for the difference in price. The Removable Air Conditioning cannot be installed if you have the bed extension (LPlus or MPlus)



Swivel Bike Carrier :

Our new carrier that swivels on the left was first developed by one of our customers, Mr Jean Laroche of Montréal. This product is available in the 3 and 4-bike models. This type is already produced by Thule et Yakima, but they are cumbersome and harder to handle because they open on the right side. And on our vehicles, we most often use the right door; moreover, a bike carrier opening on the right is incompatible with our kitchen shelter. Those who attended Rendez-vous 2003, will remember Mr Sylvio Leblanc from Rimouski who won second prize in the Mad Scientist Competition with this type of carrier.


Portable Folding Table (S series) :

This 20’’ X 40’’ folding table stored behind the driver seat is suitable for eating face to face at the same table (one in front, the other at the rear). Since this table is portable, you may set it up anywhere, even outside. It even folds to a  20’’ X 20’’ table. It now sells for 195 $ in current matching colours and 295 $ for former models.


Solar Panels :

Sales of solar panels are on the rise and we have but positive comment to date. Most enthusiastic are owners of Safari Condos who had solar panels retrofitted. They can appreciate how great the solar panel and NovaCool fridge combination is.



Need Service ?


If you need service, don’t wait for June: it will be hectic. Don’t forget there are now more than 550 Safari Condos on the road.

Note: No Service Shop will be available at the Gatineau Rendez-vous in June 2004. Installation of sliding door screens is available by appointment; we will bring any part ordered in advance. As in past years, the Condo Boutique will be on the site.


Montreal Regional Service Centre:

Since Spring 2003, we have a service agreement with : Clinique  de la roulotte MD, 200 Ruisseau Desnoyers, L’Acadie. Phone : 450-346-4116 FAX : 450-346-7967. Take note that some more complex repairs may be available only at our plant.



Peak Season :


Peak season is almost here: from mid–April on, it’s time to de-winterise your vehicle. Don’t forget to disinfect using Javex, and rinse out the plumbing system as instructed (see Manual).

Disk brakes (Replay)


It is an open secret that one GM component that needed review is the brakes. Since 2003, Safari comes with all-around disk brakes: a great improvement not only in braking but also longer lasting.

For pre-2003 Safari owners, we found a Porsche-type high performance disk manufacturer. This disk is vented, for better heat dispersion. It must be used with original GM brake pads, but last 2 to 3 times longer. These disks are a bit more expensive (249.95 $ each) than other available replacements, but are still less costly than genuine GM parts. They are also available for M & L Series. For information, call 877-806-3666.        


Erratum :


My last feature on electricity in the December 2003 Coquille contained incorrect information, according to my good friend Denis Drouin (you all know Denis). He brought to my attention that in “Your batteries…the heart of your electrical system”, in the paragraph on the “Inverter”, when I wrote “put the vehicle key to the accessories position”, I should have added that “this applies only from 2001 on”. For 16’ models up to 2000, “turn the vehicle key to Ignition (until dashboard warning lights come on)”. Thanks, Denis. 



Happy Camping Season!




Mexico demythicized

By Hélène Serré

“Are you not afraid of banditos ?” Every time we tell someone that we drove our vehicle to Mexico, we get this question. Not only have we driven to Mexico this year, we camped our way through this amazing country for two months. This was our sixth trip driving through Mexico, but this time, our Safari Condo gave us freedom and independence: how marvellous !

In general, roads are much like our secondary roads. Some roads however are just terrible. Chuckholes ? More like “beefholes” ? A big problem for large RVs, but not for us, smaller Condists. We could go anywhere, no problem.

We won’t mention border cities, they’re appalling. Suffice it to say that one must leave quickly after clearing Customs, but watch your speed. Big towns, just like big towns here at home, have their lot of undesirables and one must take heed.

But once inside the country, the native people are very kind and eager to please, especially for visitors from Canada. The mountainscape is beyond belief, the beaches are magnificent and the towns, very poor by our standards, are home to many happy and welcoming residents. Mysterious ruins abound all over: the Chiapas Mountain Indian lifestyle is fascinating. Have you ever seen, in a church where a litre of Coca-Cola is part and parcel of a ritual, a chicken offered as a sacrifice ? Every new day brings a new experience.

There are campgrounds in all regions of Mexico… not like ours, but very secure and inexpensive. And there are also many unserviced spots to spend the night. Throughout our tour, we slept on deserted beaches, by the roadside in small towns, in an orphanage yard (the subject of quite a story!), in a Wal-Mart parking lot, and on the grounds of some of those magnificent new gas stations scattered generously along the highways and offering security and very clean restrooms to all travellers. Eager to keep in touch with your family ? Internet services are available in every little town.

Yes, there are horror stories running around, thanks to people who probably have never set foot in Mexico. But for adventure you can only dream of,  rather than a nightmare, one needs to know a few words of Spanish, to avoid driving at night (animals sleeping on the pavement don’t wear reflective clothing), to obey the law and to be polite, patient and in good spirits. Finally, a big smile is your best door opener.

Hélène Serré, Gatineau

Hélène and Robert Serré will tell us all about their tour during their presentation at Rendez-vous 2004, in Gatineau.