Many of us are familiar with the benefits of RV travel and the ability it provides to see America. But what if the same advantages--traveling with the comforts of home, sleeping in your own bed, and saving money compared with airfare and hotel stays--could also be applied to foreign travel?
That was our purpose when my family and I plotted an RV trip to Canada. And while English-speaking Canada may not be as exotic as a country on another continent, the Quebec province provides the opportunity for immersion in French language and culture while traveling in your own camper. The most noticeable contrast of cultures: Among the other emergency supplies in the KOA camp store, there was a selection of French red table wines.
We headed up to Quebec from the Washington, D.C., suburbs, rolling north on U.S. 15 to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where we had to fend off the kids' requests for a stop at nearby Hershey Park. We instead picked up I-81, which took us all the way to Canada.
Construction on I-81 in Pennsylvania and New York slowed our progress, so the first day, we made it only as far as Watertown, New York, where we found a state park in Sackets Harbor, on the eastern shore of Lake Ontario.
HOME AWAY FROM HOME
Our camper for the week was a 31-foot Jayco Melbourne Class C motorhome, built on a Ford E-450 cutaway van chassis. It featured one real bedroom at the rear with a queen-size bed and two part-time beds in the living area--the couch and dining table convert to sleeping areas. Jayco reckoned these would provide enough sleeping space for four adults and two children. We found the bedroom was, as expected, plenty comfortable for Mom and Dad, but the three kids--ages seven through 13--were less than thrilled with sharing the foldout couch with a sibling.
We rotated them nightly, giving each kid a chance to sleep alone on the table-bed. So we'd count the Melbourne as a comfortable four-passenger sleeper. The camper was also lavishly outfitted with all of the conveniences of home, with a microwave/convection oven, three-burner gas stovetop, and a refrigerator/freezer about half the size of a home model. Also, the Melbourne has a couple of 19-inch flat-panel HD TVs, with a DVD player, roof-mounted antenna, and even a satellite dish, but the video system works only when the vehicle is parked.
The Melbourne featured a bathroom and shower, but we opted to use the facilities at campgrounds and rest stops instead, because the built-in facilities were quite cramped. And, to be honest, we didn't really want to deal with the euphemistically labeled black water tank.
Particular kudos go to Jayco's cabinetmakers for their extremely solidly constructed and rattle-free handiwork. In this, and most other respects, Jayco seemed to have executed most of the "home" aspects of the Melbourne impressively. When stationary, with the side slide-out deployed, there was good space inside the camper. During inclement weather, the interior table was a little snug, but for the kids, it was better than sitting in the rain or swatting flies at a picnic table.