Betsy, don’t fail us now! – Crofton, BC

The picture of Vancouver Island that I had in my mind was quickly erased as we drove to our next stop.  The island was bustling with activity, and traffic slowed us down on some of the very mountainous roads.  I had imagined a remote, less populated place with few services, which describes a good part of the island, but areas around the small towns and larger cities were bustling, especially this time of year.

There’s only one major north-south highway system on the island, and sections of it were often congested.  Highway 1 is a heavily signalized four-lane urban core road with lots of pedestrian activity from Victoria to Crofton, where we hung out for a few days while waiting for Betsy’s scheduled inverter/charger installation.

Our view through the windshield somewhat made up for the packed-in-like-sardines campground in Crofton

Betsy’s woes continued

As we got settled in at Crofton,  Steve changed gears from driver to mechanic/electrician.  We had heard a noise while driving that he feared could be a failing turbocharger bearing.  It went away once the engine warmed up, so he hoped it might be a leaking exhaust manifold gasket instead.  Still not good, but much better than a bad turbo.

He accessed the engine from inside our bedroom so he could listen up close while I revved it up.  After checking the exhaust manifold bolts, the turbo inlet and outlet connections, and looking for oil leaks he still wasn’t sure.  He found one slightly loose clamp on the turbo inlet hose and tightened it.  We hope that was the problem – so far so good!

We also noticed that the left front leveling jack had retracted extremely slowly when leaving our last stop.  Steve lubricates the jacks frequently, but on this stop he crawled under Betsy and thoroughly cleaned all of the jack seals and lubricated the rams again.  They seem to be working fine so far – whew!

Let’s see, what else – oh yeah!  We always use our engine block heater to preheat the engine oil before startup.  When Steve turned on the heater at Crofton, he noticed the amperage display didn’t jump up 8 amps as it should have.  Unbelievable, are you kidding me?  He decided to start troubleshooting at the switch, in lieu of the more unpleasant alternative of crawling back under Betsy.

He was thrilled to discover that the switch was bad and not the block heater, and after a quick trip to the hardware store and $2.25 (Canadian) handed over to the friendly clerk we were back in business with a temporary switch.  It’s just hanging out of the wall panel until we can pick up the correct one we ordered across the border.  Ugly, but it works!

We think after 10 years of heavy use Betsy is showing her age.  Fortunately, none of these problems appear to be life-threatening for her and we’ll press on.  We had a long discussion about turning back to familiar territory, but Steve convinced me we should continue on.  We hope he’s right!

In retrospect, we remembered that Betsy had a tantrum when we were in Halifax, Nova Scotia which also landed her at an RV urgent care for a day.  It seems that both the east and west coasts of Canada don’t agree with her!

Although it was a 2-week wait to get our new inverter/charger installed, we had to make only one campground reservation change to get it done.  Thankfully the next three planned stops weren’t too far apart, and a little back-and-forth on Highway 1 made it work.  After some uncertainty and sleepless nights, we moved on with a slightly lighter wallet.

Betsy is rolled into the operating room early in the morning
After several hours of surgery, the man of the day, RV Dr. Chris displays the failed organ before throwing it in the dumpster
Her sparkling new pure sine wave inverter/charger!

Steve was happy with Chris’s work, but unfortunately the RV parts guy had sold us the wrong remote for it and Chris couldn’t install it.  Steve determined he could do it himself, and after more running around and finally getting the correct remote and other parts he did just that.  All done, life is good again!

Getting back to the good stuff

Although we were off to a rough start, we managed to shake off our funk and reboot.  After all, life on the road goes on despite stressful interruptions – just like life off the road.  I’m happy that my honeybunch is so handy and can diagnose and fix most of our issues so we can continue jammin’ on down the road.  We just have to deal with these situations and make flowing decisions as we go along.

In Crofton, we followed the bayside walkway at Osborne Bay Resort several mornings and afternoons
Afternoon frolickers with the Salt Spring Island Ferry cruising by in the background

We know how to de-stress and shake off any bad vibes – take a hike!  We chose the Maple Mountain Block Trail, only a mile from our park in Crofton.  Combining the Yellow and Blue trails created a fairly strenuous 5-mile loop.  We first followed the Yellow Trail, which led us along the shoreline between Maple Bay and Crofton:

A quick detour down to the beach, which was covered with oysters – dead and alive – during low tide

The second half on the Blue Trail was an an artery-clearing, heart-pumping climb to the summit, which was just what we needed.  Our reward was wonderful vistas from the top, while breathing fresh ocean air:

The highest point on the Blue Trail

Along the way we couldn’t help but notice the many red trees.  I later learned they were Arbutus, or Pacific Madrone.  They are distinctive because of their red-orange trunk and red bark that appears to peel off along sections of the tree:

Arbutus is Canada’s only native broad-leafed evergreen tree

Directly across the bay from our campground we could see Salt Spring Island, the largest of the Gulf Islands around Vancouver.  It’s only a 25-minute ferry ride to get there, and with the ferry terminal right up the street from the campground we decided to hop in the car one morning and sail away!

The Salt Spring Ferry Terminal across the bay
Seeing the ferry several times a day, we thought it would be fun to take a ride

Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island is the largest, most populated, and most visited of the Gulf Islands chain.  The setting is west coast Canadian, a forested island surrounded by emerald ocean with wonderful vistas.

We’re getting used to riding ferries up here!
From the ferry we searched for Betsy and caught just a quick glimpse of her

As typical tourists do, we shopped a bit and had a delectable lunch while viewing the marina and the seaplanes arriving and departing.

Back at the campground, Steve saw that our neighbor was having hydraulic problems so he walked over and lent a hand.  They got so engrossed with their work that they forgot to introduce themselves to each other.  All we know is that they had Arizona license plates.

These boats were hanging out in the bay the entire time we were here

The view from our 3rd level perch was the saving grace for Osborne Bay “Resort”.  As you can see below they really pack them in.  What you can’t see is that their WiFi was terrible at times, and the voltage on their 30-amp power was low as well.

At least we had some days when we could simply relax, as we tucked away our Betsy worries and gazed at the bay.  Life on the road has its hazards, and it’s really a matter of attitude and how you deal with it that makes the ride worthwhile, right?




  1. It always seems like several things go out at once! Here’s hoping Betsy is happy as you continue your trip. At least you are in a beautiful place with many new things to explore. I love the way the campground has the different levels so everyone gets a view.

  2. I see Henderson’s Line Up scheduled on your list of where you’ll be. Things are ominous with you two.

    • Actually, this is just a routine check-up we have done whenever we pass near Henderson’s. They did a bunch of upgrades to Betsy’s suspension in 2012, and I get some peace of mind having them look things over every few years. Nothing serious this time, we hope!

  3. Thank goodness for your live-in handyman! I hate that things went askew for you, but am so glad they turned out all right. The story of Steve helping the neighbor with the hydraulic problem but never introducing themselves had me laughing! I can so easily see TBG doing the exact same thing. Hearing the tale of RV woes when you visited Canada before has me even more convinced that our neighbor to the north has it in for you two!

    The islands there look beautiful, if a bit crowded. A lovely view, a good meal, and a relaxing evening drink soothed some frazzled nerves, I’m sure — and the gorgeous hiking most of all. Glad you have each other to keep jammin’ down the road, despite a pothole now and then. 🙂

  4. Great job handling your coach troubles. I know it was no fun to go through, but it’s inspiring to me to see how you worked everything out. Sure is good that Steve is so handy!

  5. Having MH problems in the US is hard enough but in Canada is a big ugh!! Thanks goodness many of us have these very handy husbands that can trouble shoot and have mechanical background. I can’t imagine what our MH bills would be if it weren’t John’s ability to repair so many things himself. So glad to hear that all worked out and you were able to continue your journey as planned. Great that you found a good hospital for Betsy. A good lung grabbing hike will certainly help clear your mind from the stress of life on the road.

  6. I’m glad to hear you guys were able to keep limping along as needed. I know it’s been a rough couple weeks. Fingers crossed everything is now resolved. It is incredibly helpful to have a handy, mechanically inclined spouse aboard, huh? Between Kevin’s background and the magic of youtube, we’ve been able to resolve most issues on our own. But it is scary to consider how easy it would be to get stranded or have to fork over hundreds or thousands of dollars if it were otherwise. Anyway, it looks like, all things considered, you’ve been able to salvage your travels through the area. That is really awesome.

    By the way, we’ve definitely noticed that commercial Canadian campgrounds leave a lot to be desired. We’ve now been to several in different locations across the country, and they’ve all been pretty lousy. Ah well, Canada is still A-OK in my book.

    Here’s to drama free travels in the future!

    • I know you two also know a thing or two about RV issues or disasters. We had a few days of back and forth of whether to stay or get our butts back to the US. Steve prevailed, and finding an RV electrician was a challenge.
      Agree with you on the campground. I can’t even bake or warm food in the microwave, the voltage is dangerously low!

  7. Glad to hear Betsy’s ailments are cured. Isn’t it great how strangers come together when out in their RVs? Enjoy your adventures.

    • This is not the first time Steve approaches a neighbor in distress. He believes by helping he also learns. But I was just surprised neither one of them introduced themselves.

  8. I am SO impressed at Steve’s ability to handle all of those complicated mechanical issues! And then he goes to help a neighbor, too! 🙂
    I’m really happy that you guys have continued on with your Vancouver Island adventures, despite your rough beginning. You have a good attitude, which makes all the difference.
    As we all know, doo-doo happens no matter where we are. Although I must say, it is more difficult when we’re out of the country. My phone croaked two weeks ago on Prince Edward Island, and there was no place to do anything about it until we arrived in Halifax yesterday.
    I’m glad you made it over to sweet little Salt Spring Island. And I’m glad you had a great view at Osborne Bay “Resort”—that made all the difference for us! (Plus it was so convenient to the Salt Spring ferry.) Love your purple chairs! Are those new?? And that hike looked fantastic!

    • Im sure you can just imagine our first few days, back and forth about to stay or go back. It’s true having a handyman on board makes a whole lot of difference in our lifestyle. And yes we are having a great time so far. Heading for Tofino tomorrow and there is lots of construction going on on Highway 4.

  9. We had gotten off the road and into another house a couple of years ago, thinking we were done….however, the bug is once again upon us, thinking that we have probably another 5 years we can travel (we are in our 70’s). Looking for a comfortable, good quality second-hand coach, and I like the floor plans of a couple of the Tours — the 40 TD and the 40 FD. Which one is yours, and how do you now feel about the quality, comfort, drivability, and livability of “Betsy”? Love your blog posts….they are wonderful to follow. Thank you!

  10. Hope Betsy’s woes are over and Steve was able to handle most of them, having a handy guy around is really helpful. What a beautiful place you’re in.

  11. You both are an inspiration to persevere! What a blessing Steve is mechanical. Gorgeous photos ML. I am totally enjoying your BC travels!

Comments are closed.