The Information Bulletin of Safari Condo Owners vol. 9 num.2 September. 2007
Translated by Dominique Nadeau
Six Months in a Safari Condo
Here is the journal of a couple who traveled for 6 months in their 18 foot Safari Condo.
Two months before leaving on our trip, we visited the traveler’s clinic. We received the necessary vaccines and pills against Malaria as well as some useful advice.
November 1, 2005: we were off! It took us three days to get to Florida. The State park was remarkable, especially for its cleanliness. November 12: We visited Pensacola, a town ravaged just the year before by a hurricane. There were still visible signs of the extensive damages, such a half torn roofs. November 13: We visited New Orleans that had been devastated by Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005. The French quarters were safe and there was music in the restaurants and bars, but everywhere else all you saw was desolation as entire neighbourhoods were left without electricity. November 13 & 14: exploration of the city of Bâton Rouge and the Rural Life Museum. This museum showed a wide array of vehicles, tools, furniture, utensils as well as metal coffins. We then followed the Old Spanish Trail of Louisiana to get to Breaux Bridge. November 16 & 17: Visit of Breaux Bridge, where we got a real taste of some regional cooking. We were served an alligator burger, crayfish and Creole black and white pudding. November 18: We visited St-Martinville and a site where we were told the story of Évangéline.
For the next two days we biked around Galveston and we explored Houston. November 20 & 21: We visited South-Fork, location of the popular TV series Dallas. November 22: We were in Dallas on the 42nd anniversary of the death of President J. F. Kennedy. The Sixth Floor Museum was interesting. The next day it was time to head to Forth Worth, a city famous for its legacy of cowboys and rodeos. There, the cowboys travel with their fifth wheels and their horses. They even keep space for their horses’ wardrobe.
November 24 & 25: We drove through Ranger, Pecos and El Paso where all we saw were cotton fields, oil rigs and mountains. The next day we followed Route 28 between El Paso and Tucson. This road is lined with pecan farms, so we stopped in a small stand to make provisions. We encountered a sand storm on route 20. November 27: We camped in Gilbert Ray Mountain Park next to Saguaro cacti which almost look human with their long arms. Those arms actually only grow out once the cactus is 75 years old. In the last three days of November we visited Tucson, Apache Junction and Phoenix. The capitol building of this last city is truly worth seeing.
In early December we headed to California to meet our son’s family on vacation in Palm Spring at the time. On the 18th we headed to Las Vegas to our son’s to celebrate our birthday and the holiday season. We celebrated Christmas there and all four grand-parents were there with their first little grand-daughter. She even took her first nine steps in front of us.
On January first we saw the fire works on the casinos of the Strip. It is very beautiful and impressive, with a perfect timing between the fireworks of all the different casinos on the Strip. January 5: we left for Hidalgo Texas, the meeting point for our caravan trip to Mexico. We are 15 recreational vehicles leaving on this voyage.
January 9: we followed the caravan leader with our bikes to the Mexican border where we registered our Safari Condo for 10 years and we obtained our temporary visa. Insurances were taken for the group through the caravan leader. We had a meet and greet with the other campers and to our great surprise there was another Safari Condo among us; a couple from Ontario.
January 11 was our departure date. We got to Saltillo, where we camped in the parking of the convention center. On January 12 we left half an hour late, and dropped off two broken down vehicles at the garage. We traveled through a very mountainous region. We got to Zacatecas early and slept in a small campground behind a gas station. The caravan leader negotiated for a few taxis to take us in town. It is a wonderful little town and we shared a supper in a chic restaurant.
For the next four days we visited a flee market in Tonala. There we ate 2 fajitas and a cola for 10 pesos. The evening’s supper was at the El Patio in Tlaquepaque, and even included a band of mariachis. Next we were in Guadalajara, a city of 8 million people. Its inhabitants are called Tapatillos. We visited Sauza, a Tequilla factory, which was an interesting day topped off with a Tequilla tasting session at the end of our tour. Thankfully no one was driving, and we safely returned by bus.
January 18: today we drove only a short trip to get to the Villa Corona a geothermal centre. We toured the town by bike. The caravan leader organized a happy hour that was a lot of fun. We bathed and swam during the day and in the evening. Interesting fact: we learned that in Mexico houses are rarely finished because it exempts the owners from paying taxes.
January 20: we reached Tenacatita, a campground full of palm trees located on a beach along the Pacific. On the mountain road to this place we met another Condist. The next day we went to Caleta de Campo, where we set up directly on the beach with no services.
January 22: we pass over a dam between the states of Michoacan et Guerrwro. We left the desert terrains behind and entered into denser vegetation. It was 34 degrees in January. On the 24th, the caravan leader organized a good dinner theater evening at the local Club Med. Once again we found another Safari Condo parked at the same beach as us. January 25: on the way to Acapulco we followed a funeral procession where the coffin was modestly put in the back of a truck. In the evening we went to see the divers and met a group of Safari Condo owners. Our uncomfortable Volkswagen taxis raced each other on the way back to our vehicles.
January 26 : we took an organized trip to visit Taxco and the Cacahuarnilpa cavern. We visited a boutique specialized in silver where we taught some tricks to recognize real silver. In order to go see the Christo above the city, 4 of us sqeezed into a small 2 door VW taxi with no front seat. We dinned in a restaurant where we tasted Posole Verde, a soup made with washed corn that some people did not like at all.
January 27: we visited the Cacahuarnilpa cavern, which is literally a 22km-long natural cathedral. We walked 4 km back and forth. It is the most incredible cavern I’ve seen, with its amazing colours. The tour also provides great explanations about how it formed and the origins of such things as stalactites.
January 28: we drove to Puerto Escondido. On the way we came across a wedding procession, with a band and a bride walking along the dusty street in her beautiful white dress. Someone behind her, was helping to hold up her train. We once again camped on the beach. There was a pedestrian street with nice boutiques and lovely little restaurants with terraces on the beach. Our dinner with a view on the ocean, the fishing boats and the sunset was truly memorable.
January 30: we stayed at another camping on the beach in Bahias de Huatulco. There are many Quebecers and Europeans there. We visited Cruciata. The next day we went to sail on a catamaran, we snorkeled and met a very friendly Mexican family. We had dinner on an island.
February 1: we slept in Zanatepec in the parking lot of a truck stop, had a nice little supper in a local restaurant. After the VW Beattles we now had motorcycles and bycicles serving as our taxis. Mexicans lit firecrackers, dogs barked around us and trucks came and went all night. On the second, we had a nice trip through the mountains, and we went from 500 to 800 feet in altitude. The temperature is colder now. While passing through a town a travel companion gave a bag of teddy bears, coloring books and crayons to the children. It was moving to see their faces; it was Christmas to these kids. Once arrived in San Cristobal we met a couple of Condists from Brébeuf.
February 3: we descended the mountain by bus to visit Sumidero Canyon and the Grijalva river (a river also known under three other names). This river is as deep as 40 to 50 meters, while the canyon above can reach up to 1 km in height. We traveled by boat to the Grijalva dam, which was constructed between 1975 and 1980. We saw many small animals, birds, and natural caves along the walls of the canyon.
February 4: we visited San Cristobal’s enormous public market.
February 5 & 6: We traveled to Palenque on a rough and winding road. There we visited Mayan ruins. It is magnificent and well preserved even if the forest has begun to take over the site. It is surprising to see how well organized the region was under the Mayan empire. February 7: We saw the Aqua Azul water falls. It was a beautiful landscape, but a little too cold for a swim. We organized a pot lock for supper. We had to eat all our chicken, eggs and porc, because we could not enter Yucatan with these products. February 8: Departure for Chetumal. During lunch a condist from St Pierre les Becquets stopped to talk to us. February 9 & 10: Free days for a little relaxation.
The following week we took residence on the beach of the Paamul campground. We visited Cancun and witnessed all the damage caused by the hurricanes that hit in August and September. We went to Xcaret, an amusement park with a lot of interesting demonstrations.
February 18: We visited Chichen Itza, another very interesting Mayan archeological site dating back between 300 and 450 A.D. February 19, 20 & 21: We were in Mérida. This city was extremely prosperous at the beginning or the 20th Century. The campground is very nice, but the electricity varies greatly. We went to Progresso to see the pink Flamingos. February 22 & 23: We camped in Campeche, a nice campground on the site of a water amusement park. The city is very beautiful and it has a lovely bike path along the gulf. The owner of the campground organized a traditional Mexican supper for us complete with a show of local folkloric dances. All this for only ten dollars!
February 24: We camped in Isla Aguada, a very poor fishing village, where we bought some fish directly from the fishermen. We all visited the town by cab (motorcycles with a trailer behind them). Even though these people were living in extreme poverty, in houses with no windows or doors, they were still smiling all the time. February 25: We slept at the Villa Hermosa. February 26, 27 & 28: We camped close to Veracruz. We visited Boca del Rio and then we saw the Mardi Gras parade of Veracruz. It is the second largest in America, after the famous one in Rio. We saw La Antigua and the home of Herman Cortez (a Spanish conquistador). We returned to Veracruz for a latte at the famous La Paroquia restaurant.
On March third we returned to Texas. At the American border the two small Safari Condos crossed without any problems amongst the larger units which were all searched thoroughly.
For the rest of the month of March we visited different places in the South of the US : South Padre Island, Padre Island, Mustang Island. We visited San Antonio. It is a very pretty town with a river that is emptied each January to be cleaned. We took a guided cruise, then we walked around to shop in the boutiques and we stopped for a drink at a small pub. Some interesting places to visit are the Fort Alamo, the tower, the cathedral and the market square. We also went to the Big Bend National Park. The landscape and views are breathtaking, especially when hiking at Santa Elena Canyon. To camp there it is important to reserve in advance. We traveled through El Paso and then Yuma, where we camped in a Native reserve, in the parking of the Paradise Casino. We visited South California, from San Diego to the Wild Animal Park in Escondido. Then we went on the beach in Malibu.
At the end of March and beginning of April we returned to Las Vegas to see our son and his family once again. We saw the Cirque du Soleil’s “Ka” and then visited a few Casinos. We also went to Red Rock Canyon. On April 14th we were heading back home. We passed through Hoover Dam, because after 2008 traffic will be redirected to a bridge above the dam.
April 15 & 16: We visited Albuquerque and Santa Fe, tow old cities with a very unique architecture reminiscent of old Western movies. April 16 : We saw the memorial in Oklahoma City. There is a series of chairs placed in 9 rows representing the nine stories of the building that blew up on April 19 1995. Each chair represents one of the victims. April 17 & 18: Stop in Memphis. We visit Graceland and the Elvis Presley museum which are worth the detour. We also visited the magnificent Peabody hotel. We saw the ducks, but we missed their daily walks that are at 11h and 15h. We passed through Nashville, and saw the Gaylord Opryland hotel and convention centre, which is a city under a dome.
We were back home on April 23rd as planned, with lots of stories and pictures.
Pauline et Alain Marcotte.
Tips and Useful Information
Having Ideas without the Means…
We would like to benefit from an internet Forum that would allow all condists to exchange ideas, travel experiences, items for sale and more. There are just so many possibilities! This is a good idea, but we need a condist that can program and set up such a website. If someone is interested in helping us set up this type of discussion Forum website where we can communicate with other Safari Condo owners please contact Fracoise Sasseville at the following e-mail address ******************. We are four happy condists that had this idea without the means to make it a complete reality.
“Havre d’un soir”
We used “Havre d'un soir” on three occasions during our vacation and we were always treated like kings…
Normand De Grandpré
Camping Quick Tip
I have problems with my toilet during the winter. I simply put plumbing antifreeze everywhere I usually put water, and then I use it as usual.
It’s simple and it smells good :)
(This process works fine, but it puts more pressure on our environment as it creates more chemicals to dispose of, especially if you do a lot of winter camping).(NDLR)
Be Careful with Butane in Freezing Conditions!
LEAVE a butane bottle in your vehicle during freezing conditions. If you try to
use it be CAREFUL! I wanted to help out my spouse when she ran out of butane
during her fondue at home this winter. I got my cold butane bottle from the
camper. The explosion of the gas very nearly caused her some severe burns.
Just think about it before using a very cold can. It’s better to give it some time to get warmed up before utilizing it.
The Electric Roof: A Good Anti-Theft Device
During a long trip, one of our condists discovered that his electric roof could be used as a very efficient anti-theft device. When he found himself in an uncertain environment Mr François Blondeau left his electric roof raised only enough to make sure that our roof security would go off. This way the alarm we install to prevent you from leaving with your roof open will sound as soon as anyone touches the brakes of the vehicle. A thief trying to steal this van would have been surprised, and would be hard pressed to find where this sound is coming from. He would most likely just abandon and leave scratching his head in wonder!
A List of Propane Distributors
A friend and Safar Condo owner had the wonderful idea of collecting the names and making a list of propane distributors in different regions that provide good service. Therefore, if you know a good propane distributor in your region, you can send us his contact information and we will add him to our list. You will be able to find this list on our internet site under the “Condists’ Corner”.
Exceptionally for this year we will not hold our photo contest. This year, in 2008, Safari Condo is celebrating its 10th Anniversary. In order to underline this occasion Stéphane is already hard at work preparing a special commemorative calendar to celebrate this important event. Since it is usually your pictures that normally constitute our calendar and that we did not want to put them only on the website, we will keep them on file until next year. Thus, those of you who have already sent us their photos do not need to worry we will keep them safely. Those of you, however, who have not already sent them, please wait until next year.
“La Coquille” in Paper Format
Starting in 2008 the paper version of La Coquille will be discontinued. First of all, more and more of our clients have access to internet or to an e-mail address. Second of all, the growing number of newsletters being sent is putting increased pressure on our office staff at the plant. We have kept this service for as long as possible, nearly 10 years now. Yet, with more than 600 postal copies to send the mailing costs and the time required has grown too important. We should also think of the environmental cost!
You will therefore have two choices if you want to read our information bulletin. You can consult La Coquille on our website or you can receive it directly in your inbox through your e-mail address. Already 50% of our clients receive their newsletter this way. If you have not yet given us your e-mail address, please do it as soon as possible!
Your batteries…the heart of your electrical system.
By Daniel Nadeau
Following the conference given in the Magdalene Islands and the multiple questions we regularly receive, we are rerunning an article already published in December 2003 that is still very much current.
Marine batteries are one of the most important components of your Safari Condo electrical system: unlike other components that require little or no maintenance, your batteries, just like plants or cats, have a life of their own and don’t last forever. Their life span depends, for the most part, on how you take care of them.
When camping and connected to a power supply, the converter will keep your batteries fully charged. All 12V accessories will operate through the batteries. The fridge, the lights, the water pump, additional 12 V outlets installed by Safari Condo, the roof vent, the heater (gas or propane) fan and control unit, and the AC inverter, all are powered by your batteries. The last item on the list is by far the most energy-consuming device!
The charge: Your batteries are energy-thirsty; they’re happy when fully charged.
The life of your batteries can be expressed in years, or in battery cycles. The deeper the discharge, the greater the reduction in available cycles. For example, if fully discharged every time, the life span is around 300 cycles. When 50% discharged, 800 cycles can be expected and when 25% discharged, life expectancy may reach 2000 cycles. Briefly, marine batteries, unlike cell-phone or video camera batteries, dislike a complete discharge. They’re happy when fully charged! A partially or deeply discharged battery will age much faster than a fully charged one. A battery that remains fully discharged for one week will lose some 15 battery cycles. It is very important to quickly recharge batteries after use.
What is the difference between a 100%-discharged battery and a dead battery. The first one will indicate 10.8 V on a voltmeter, while the second one will show 0.0 V. Battery manufacturers don’t even provide expected cycles for a battery that has been allowed to go dead.
· Vehicle alternator (when driving)
· Inverter (when connected to power supply)
· Solar panel (optional)
Alternator: A 3.5 to 4 hour drive on the highway will recharge a 100%-discharged battery. After 4 hours, battery charge reaches 90% of maximum charge, the final 10% taking much longer to complete.
Inverter: When connected to a power supply takes 24 to 36 hours, and performs as above
Solar Panel: Using a solar panel, this will take more than a week, if no power at all is consumed. The purpose of a solar panel is not to recharge your batteries, but to maintain or reduce discharge while using battery power. If batteries are deeply discharged, even if solar panel-equipped, you must rapidly connect to a power supply for a quick battery recharge. The 700W panel installed by Safari Condo has the capacity to power your fridge all summer if thermostat is set relatively low (2 to 2.5 on the Novacool). The solar panel works slowly but surely; the less energy you use, the more you will appreciate it.
Charge-level indicator: Green, Yellow, and Red.
S Series: A needle monitor on a range from green to yellow to red. Using this indicator, try not to reach the red zone. In the centre of the yellow zone, batteries are discharged 85% (11V). At this level, start your engine or find a power source.
M & L Series: A 4-light digital monitor. The first green LED indicates batteries are or were just recharged, and should go out quickly. The second green LED indicates normal operating status and is the longest lasting. When it changes to the yellow LED, you have used up 70% of the battery charge. When the yellow LED goes out, you have used 100% of the available power and the fridge will stop very shortly. Recharge when yellow!
Freezing: Deadly for batteries. When your batteries provide power, the acid inside converts slowly to water. Freezing point will, vary with battery charge. A fully charged battery will freeze at –54 °C, at 50% charge -22°C, and at -3°C if discharged 100%. Battery is destroyed if it freezes. Winter camping enthusiasts must never use more than 75% of battery power and always recharge the same day, before nightfall.
Battery maintenance: We recommend checking batteries twice a year, once a year being the minimum. Once a year is a must. Improper care of batteries result in purchase of new batteries. Warranty is void in cases of shortage of water, acid or frozen battery. Owners who use their vehicle all year round have generally fewer battery problems since batteries are recharged almost every day. If you put your RV away for the winter, make sure you can connect to a power supply for a 24 to 48 hours period once a month: also make sure that any accessory using battery power is shut off or unplugged.
Inverter: useful, but use sparsely. Inverter is the major battery power consumer in your vehicle. For example, using it to power the microwave oven is like using 85 light bulbs simultaneously. The electric water heater, 75 light bulbs. If you plan not to drive for 2 or 3 days, forget about the inverter. If you plan to drive away tomorrow, then, who cares! Tip: when using inverter, turn on the engine: the inverter will then supply only 30% of the required power. If you don’t want to turn on the engine, maybe because of the noise, put the vehicle key to the accessories position, like when you listen to the car radio, while using inverter. This precautionary measure will connect your camper batteries to that of the vehicle and give a helping hand to your deep-cycle batteries. Deep-cycle batteries can provide a little power for a long time, while your GM battery can provide a lot of power for a short time. This will help you out when you require a lot of power over a short period.
Your batteries like:
· Fully charged as often as possible
· Regular maintenance every 6 months, at least once a year
· A little help when inverter is used
Your batteries dislike:
· Complete discharge (shortens life)
· Staying discharged over long period (days)
· FREEZING (A good charge prevents freezing)
· Dead battery (life reduced considerably)
The 2007 Iles de la Madeleine Reunion
When we began planning our Magdalene Island project, we assumed that the distance and the price of the crossing would influence the number of attendants negatively. The organizers thus assumed that 100 participating vehicles would be a very good attendance. However, to our great joy you were 135 parties to answer the call of the islands. We want to thank all the participants from the great land, as well as everyone the islands who joined in with us. We also want to thank you for the flexibility and understand you have shown during our reunions. A reunion means being limited in water, electricity and space. We sometimes have to forget a little about our own comforts in order to benefit from the great human warmth that this event exudes.
The whole team and our condists would like to thank those without whom non of this would be possible.
A heartfelt thank you to :
Jeannot Leblanc, Gino Cormier, Jean Chiasson and Line Leblanc, our organizers.
To Nathalie, for having welcomed us so generously into her home.
To Sony Noël et Nancy Bourgeois, owners of the Barachois campground.
To the people who helped me place clients and make sure everyone was comfortable.
To all our volunteers.
To our different guest speakers.
To Jocelyn Thériault and his musicians.
To Ms. Odette Leblanc for introducing us to Aunt Emma and her island stories.
To Mr. Vigneault for the excellent and delicious catering (thank you! Thank you!).
To all our suppliers for their numerous gifts.
To Dumoulin Électronique of Ste-Marie for generously providing the projector and screen.
To all of you who sang for Daniel’s 50th Anniversary J
To all the people of the Iles de la Madeleine at whom’s we spent 5 perfect dreamy days…
Until next time!
Mad Scientist’s Contest
Just like at each previous reunion, you were numerous to participate in our annual Mad Scientist’s Contest. Once again this year the inventions and improvements were varied and sprung from very different needs. Soon you will find the pictures of all the inventions from our participants on our website, in the “Condists’ Corner”.
Congratulations to the winners and to all our participants.
1st prize: Richard Careau, tool storage system.
2nd prize: Léon Paré, umbrella holder, or storage for long thin objects.
3rd prize: Roger R. Lafrance, table and wine rack with glass holders.
“Mark your Site” Contest
This year, because of the boats, we were arriving in two groups with a 12 hour interval. In order to know which sites were already taken we had asked people to mark which sites were theirs. We made this request into a contest. Volunteers, that were not participating, looked at all the different entries, made a list and selected 3 winners according to a set of criterions that they had established themselves. Congratulations to all our participants. The fun was in the participation, and I must say that there were some very ingenious ideas J
1st prize: Richard Careau
2nd prize: Ms. Lucienne Perreault
3rd prize: Michel Galipeau and his gang.
Easy Green Solutions
Close the faucet while you shave and you will save almost 400 litres of water each week.
Shut off the water while you wash and condition your hair. You will save more than 200 litres of water per week.
Shut off the water while you brush your teeth and you will save 4 gallons a minute. This is 760 litres per week for a family of 4.
Use a broom to clean your driveway and you will save at least 300 litres each time.
For more Easy Green Solutions visit www.safaricondo.com under the Condists’ Corner: Soon you will find a Green icon.