Fall Unvacation

After having such a free and fun time in Eastern Ontario, we had to buckle down to turn over our largest apartment. As you may recall, we received notice from our tenant the day after we moved out of our house they would be leaving at the end of August. We spent all of September and October renovating. The apartment is about 1200 sqft and we did most of the work ourselves, painting all the walls and ceilings, replacing most of the flooring, upgrading faucets and toilets, painting and replacing doors, and blowing extra insulation into the attic. Other work we hired out including paving the driveway (this was already scheduled months ago), rebuilding the front porch and stairs, upgrading the linked smoke alarms system by adding more alarms, and other electrical work. It was by far the largest reno project we had ever undertaken! Highlights included the main floor bathroom with a new ceramic tile floor and trendy new vanity with a quartz top. The kitchen also got a huge update with new cabinets, an island and gorgeous granite countertops.

Renovating means taking things apart first
Renovating means taking things apart first!

We upgraded kitchen with new cabinets, and island, and marble countertops
We upgraded kitchen with new cabinets, and island, and marble countertops. We also refubished some of the existing cabinets ourselves
We upgraded kitchen with new cabinets, and island, and marble countertops. We also refurbished some of the existing cabinets ourselves


Renovations are always a challenge: unsure if we would get crunched for time in the end, we worked everyday, including weekends, to progress as quickly as possible. The days were exhausting and the work tedious: scrubbing, patching, priming, painting. It wasn’t uncommon for us to wake up, swing hammers all day, go for dinner, then go shopping for more supplies for the next day, and be back after 9pm. During this 2 month stretch, we didn’t have  much of a social life — we only took 2 days off!

Painting the upstairs hallway
Painting the upstairs hallway. We had already removed the carpet which would be replaced.

As always, renovating uncovers a rat’s nest of problems and there were repairs and other unexpected work that had to be done. We came to say, “To get 1 thing done, you need to do 10 things!” It helped tremendously that we were living on site with our RV parked in the driveway. Our old house is 75 km round-trip away: if we had to drive that distance daily, plus be responsible for chores at home, the renovation would have taken longer. This particular community is located in an outlying township that allows RV parking on private property without any time restriction, unlike Toronto and the surrounding suburbs including Markham. We also enjoyed getting to know our neighbours, aka the “RDP gang,” (River Drive Park) better: everyone is so friendly, sharing swimming pools and hot tubs, evening campfires and parties.

Having fun at Theresa and Aldo's in River Drive Park.
Having fun at Theresa and Aldo’s in River Drive Park.

We were able to rent the apartment to a neighbour who needed a place nearby for just the winter due to some unusual circumstances. We were happy to help out a neighbour and friend but really it was a win-win situation as it meant we didn’t have to search for a tenant while still renovating. In spring, we will have a finished apartment to show to prospective tenants which works much better.

Getting Ready for our Big Migration
Having been so busy with the apartment hadn’t allowed any time to take care of needed preparations for our trip south. James had ordered upgrades for the motorcycle that needed installing: heated hand grips and hand guards, larger windscreen, Givi topcase with back rest and brake light kit, plus a centre stand. The motorcycle was also due for an oil change. With all our tools and supplies on site, James was able to complete the oil change and all the installations on his own, except the centre stand which we packed to bring south with us.

Our bikes with upgrades that James bought and installed: Top case with brake lights, heated jacket connector, heated grips, and taller windscreen. We went out for photos after everything was installed.
Our bike with upgrades that James bought and installed: Top case with brake lights & backrest, heated jacket connector, heated grips (a lot harder than it sounds on the CB500X!), hand guards, and taller windscreen. We went out for photos after everything was installed.

We also needed to improve our clothing storage: we had set up crates with shelves on the top bunk but they were too difficult to access. While James worked on the motorcycle, I built a single shelf, 7’ wide and 18” deep out of light weight cedar planks and 1×2 pine strapping. The shelf spans the full width of the top bunk, maximizing the space and making it easier to keep our clothes organized.

Before we left, we helped prep the property for winter, raking up 20 bags of leaves and winterizing the lawnmowers. We also winterized Margot’s motorcycle storing it in the garage and our Honda Jazz scooter which we tucked into our secure outbuilding for winter hibernation.

We also had to find a winter home for our little Senegal parrot, Emma since it is problematic and expensive for her to cross the border. Our original pet sitter had just gotten a new puppy. We weren’t sure if this was still a good fit so we asked our friends Michelle and Matt if they were interested in taking her after an “orientation” phone call. Our “Plan C” was to have Emma live with my sister Adrienne in Brampton as her family have already taken care of her. Well M&M agreed, and we are so happy that Emma will be well taken care of! 

Thank you Michelle and Matt for taking care of Emma this winter!
Thank you Michelle and Matt for taking care of Emma this winter!

The night before we left, we purchased travel medical insurance online with Medipac – nothing like leaving super critical stuff to the very last minute (it cannot be purchased on the day of travel!). Fortunately, I had done plenty of research in advance plus our friend Paula pointed us in the same direction. We headed out the morning of Thursday Nov 10, more than a week later than planned. We kept our eyes on the weather because we were in a race against winter. In fact, the first snow had already appeared in October!  With everything taken care of, we breathed a sigh of relief as we crossed the border heading south for the next leg of our adventure!

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