Garmin inReach Mini 2

In the world of emergency personal location devices, the inReach products by Garmin are game changers. The Mini 2 is quite an improvement over the previous model but not as capable, or as expensive, as the more advanced inReach products. This is more focused on short two-way messages via satellite between the user and their contacts.

Garmin Explore

You can pair the device to your phone via Bluetooth and add your desired contacts to the device. You can also use your phone to create your messages and once you hit send, the Mini 2 will send the message. The neat thing about the system, unlike SPOT devices or EPIRB devices, the inReach Mini 2 is two-way, so whomever you reach out to can reply. You can send messages to a specific person, or you can use one of the Quick Messages that sends out a pre-made message to a list of people that is predetermined via the web portal. There is a huge amount of customization with pre-made messages, recipient lists, sending locations or not, updates to Twitter, and a Facebook page that you manage. It can also send updates to a map interface showing the location where your last message was sent from or a nearly real-time track of where you are and have been along your route.

This can be especially handy if you are on a back country hiking or canoe trip and something go wrong. And it’s when things go wrong when devices like this are really needed. Up until now, I’ve been talking about adding some piece of mind to friends and family, staying in contact with them and sharing your location online. Although it’s also a device that you really want to have in an emergency when someone is seriously injured or ill. It has a well protected SOS button tucked away from being accidentally pressed, but once it is pressed, a signal goes out to emergency responders and help is on the way almost anywhere in the world. Keep in mind that the more remote you are, the longer it will take for help to reach you but they are coming.

Now that level of insurance needs to be paid for prior to being needed but it’s worth it.

Garmin offers a number of packages ranging from just a few messages a month up to an unlimited package that includes weather. Depending on how remote you’re going to be, for how long, and how many messages you want to send back and forth, must all be considered when choosing a package and for how long. You can choose a yearly plan or a more costly monthly plan which can be cancelled once your trip is over. So if you’re only going to use the device for a couple trips a year, I would suggest the monthly plan because it will be cheaper overall. If you are a ongoing traveller, the annual package is probably a better choice.

I decided that this would be a wise choice for me for the 3C Expedition Road Trip around Canada and I went with the Expedition package on a monthly plan and the GEOS membership should I need to call in emergency services while I’m really remote in Northern Canada.

Hopefully I won’t need the SOS button, but the two-way messaging will come in very handy when mobile phone services become absent in remote areas, of which there will be many.

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Fuel The Dream! Help fulfill a dream by donating to the fuel fund

My van “Moose” is pretty much ready to go now. Some rather expensive repairs has put the 3C Canadian Road Trip/Expedition at jeopardy. Although I’ve recovered from the repair costs, I simply don’t have the money, nor will I be able to earn enough, to afford the fuel needed to fulfill the dream of completing the ultimate Canadian road trip of visiting all three Canadian coasts this summer.

My girlfriend started a GoFundMe campaign to try and help raise the needed funds. I’m asking all my friends, family, and now the public to help out however they can. I really am counting on the generosity of strangers here.

Being a recent cancer survivor and having undergone surgery, chemo, and months of radiation therapy, it has really driven home how important it is to enjoy life while you can. With cancer a reality of my life, I know that I have less days ahead of me than I have behind.

I’ve been postponing this dream trip for years, for one reason or another, but if I keep doing that, I’ll never end up doing it. Any Overlander, or VanLife person will tell you that if you wait for everything to be perfect, you will never get started, and I’m realizing the truth of that. So this summer, on the two year anniversary of my cancer surgery (June 24th), I plan to hit the road and start heading toward the west coast, then the north coast, and then to the east coast before looping back and returning home.

You can follow the adventure on my YouTube channel and here on this blog.

You can donate via GoFundMe by clicking here. Any help at all would be greatly appreciated.

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Stranded in Minden – Won’t Start Due to Blown Starter

New Battery

Once again, my van “Moose” started showing his age. While up in Minden, Ontario Moose refused to start. At first, it seemed like a battery issue, and after getting a boost from one of the locals, I went and bought a new battery. The battery was only 3 years old, but I replaced it anyway based on the advice of a few mechanics I called. I was stranded. In a small town. 

With no access to money (my cards were all being replaced, and I was awaiting delivery). I borrowed some money from my boss, bought a new battery, and swapped it out in the parking lot of my hotel. 

Nothing. Sigh…It wasn’t the battery after all. 

Minden Auto Care

Based on the recommendations of the locals, I was referred to a local repair shop (Minden Auto Care), which happened to be a short walk from my hotel. Fortunately, he knew his way around Eurovans and felt confident he would figure it out once he had some time and when it warmed up. With the daytime highs at only -25c (-13F), it was simply too cold to check it in the parking lot of the hotel. A couple of days later, he had Moose towed to the warmth of his shop, and after a few hours, I got the phone call to come over to talk to him. Uh oh. That can’t be good.

The starter was corroded…badly. It would have to be replaced, but he assured me that it would be ready the next day. Fortunately, my banking and credit cards just arrived because this was going to be another big bill of over $700. With global shipping fees at an all time high due to Covid, everything is costing more, including car parts.

As luck would have it, the wrong starter was shipped to the shop, delaying the repairs by another day. 

The next morning I was walking down the street and noticed that my van had been moved, so I stopped in to get an update. Low and behold, Moose was ready. They even repaired a coolant leak that I told them about.

With Moose ready to go early in the day, I packed up what I needed and hit the road back to Toronto before a nasty storm rolled in. 

Another financial blow that put an even larger dent in my plans to drive across the country this summer. Fingers crossed.

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Gut Wrenching News – Timing Chain Fail Puts Trip at Risk

Not a good way to start the 2022. Just two days into the new year and disaster strikes. The timing chain on my van failed and I was stranded. With no choice, I had my van towed to my mechanic. I knew this would be a huge ordeal and I knew I would have to weigh the pros and cons of having it repaired at all. The van was then towed to another shop, who are experts on Volkswagens and who are more familiar with what would have to be done. They would have to drop out the chassis, transmission, and of course the engine before they could start opening up the engine and start the repairs.

With a global supply chain in taters due to the pandemic and so many people around the world off sick at the same time, it would take over a week for most of the needed parts to arrive. Once they did, wouldn’t you know it…the shop where my van was had their own outbreak of Covid-19 which shut them down for a week, and then…a snow storm prevented the mechanics from getting to work. Sheesh.

It would be three weeks at the shop before they finally got to work and it wasn’t exactly smooth sailing. Cracked coolant housing, problems with the camshafts, and cracked hoses all had to be addressed. Sigh.

I finally got my van back with the work mostly complete. I still have to go back for to have the chain tensioner replaced because that’s still on backorder, so who knows when it will arrive…maybe a couple more weeks. In the end though it was a $4000 repair bill. OUCH!

This is a huge financial blow that puts the trip at risk. My main winter gig was to work with the winter car control school in Minden, Ontario but that got delayed because of another lockdown in Ontario in January. So no income from that but February will be busy but come March I will have to find another source of income. Hopefully I will have the van paid off by March and then and then I can start saving towards the trip. Coming up with the funds is going to be tough though.

Stay tuned.

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Great Canadian Road Trip- Preamble

I’ve dreamed for a long time to see more of this great country and I believe that everyone should tour their country at least once. I’m sure I’m not the only one to have such a dream and like most, I’ve kept putting it off or made excuses as to why I can’t do it just yet. Well, no more excuses.

But why now? Well 2020 was a horrible year for pretty much everyone on the planet as we all faced a global pandemic. For me though, I was also diagnosed with oral cancer of an aggressive nature. Two months after being diagnosed I had surgery, and after just a few weeks to recover, I underwent chemo and radiation therapy. Had my surgery been delayed by even another two months, none of that would have been needed…it would have been funeral. I’ve had some brushes with death before but cancer is something nobody should have to go through.

Moose

Now that we’re nearing the end of 2021, I am, for now at least, cancer free and it’s time to find my way with some life altering changes. It’s time to focus on making the dream of exploring Canada a reality. I recently bought a 2002 VW Eurovan because I needed more space anyway and I realized that it could be the perfect vehicle to travel across the country in. I named it Moose.

Trying out some gear packing options

I plan to depart Toronto on the two year anniversary of my cancer surgery and head west to the Pacific Ocean. From there I will head up to the north coast in the Arctic Circle and then head to the east coast before returning home.

Once all is said and done, I will have driven well over 25,000km (15,500miles), over about seven weeks. I’m not sure what I’ll see along the trip but it will certainly be an epic adventure and I’ll be sure to get lots of pictures and video.

The plan to spend the winter putting aside the money needed for the trip (once I pay off the van) and then prepare the van so that it’s set up for the trip.

Video episodes will be posted online but I could really use your help to make this dream come true. So please open your heart, and yes your wallet, by joining as a Patreon by clicking here: www.patreon.com/goforadv. You can also check out my YouTube channel to see some of videos that I’ve done in the past by clicking here: www.youtube.com/user/chroniclesadventure. Don’t forget to subscribe, like, and share!

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