Goodyear Assurance ComfortDrive Touring Tires Outperform Expectations

For my epic road trip and Expedition around Canada, I chose the 18″ Assurance ComfortDrive tires from Goodyear. As an Instructor with the ILR Car Control School, we have a special relationship with Goodyear because we truly believe in their products (and they believe in us). So when my van Moose needed some new shoes before going on a massive road trip around the country, over two months, I chose to go with the Assurance ComfortDrive tires on some snazzy looking 18″ wheels. Okay yes…they are rather large for my van, too large in fact (it originally takes a 16″ tire), but they do look really nice and the wheels I mounted them on provided a lot of airflow around the brakes, which is always a good thing.

Now according to Goodyear, the Assurance ComfortDrive is an All-Season tire, but in practice it’s a touring tire best suited for mild to warm temperatures, and it should be limited to hard surfaces. Simply put…they are designed for paved roads. Period. I wouldn’t recommend them in the winter. I’ve used these same tires before on another vehicle and in icy, snowy conditions, they don’t perform very well, so you’re better off getting a proper winter tire when the winter season comes.

My road trip started off in Toronto, went to Vancouver and Victoria on the Pacific coast, then up the Dempster Highway to Tuktoyaktuk on the Arctic Ocean, and then traversed the Prairies again back to Ontario. Nearly 18,000km in just under two months and my tires were exposed to a wide range of temperatures from 6 Celsius to +30 Celsius (42F to +86F), and all types of weather and road conditions.

They also suffered the grueling Dempster Highway in the Arctic Circle, which is an 880km (550 mile) road of hellish abuse and not for the faint of heart. This road no longer needs a 4×4 but I would still recommend it. Remember that every mountain needs to be climbed twice…to the top and back down again. With that in mind, I drove the Dempster twice and thanks to some miserable weather, it was a totally different level of hell on the way back. You can read all about the Dempster Highway here.

The main tire killers on the Dempster are wheel crushing potholes and the sharp tire shredding shale that makes up much of the surface. It is said that it’s mandatory to carry a spare tire because the odds of getting a flat are nearly 100% and I did see a couple of people suffer from blowouts The service centre at Eagle Plains is usually swamped with tire repairs. Although a flat tire is NOT an experience that I had on the Dempster, or anywhere else for that matter, while on this epic road trip.

As an 18″ tire, there isn’t much of a sidewall to absorb heavy shocks, but the construction of the Goodyear Assurance ComfortDrive allowed it to soak up even the most jarring potholes as well as the wash-board dirt roads that were so violent they could shake loose the fillings in your teeth. I hit some pot holes so hard that I truly felt the need to apologize out loud to my van.

Goodyear Assurance ComfortDrive delivers even on surfaces that it wasn’t designed for.

These tires also performed extremely well on wet roads and although you can feel the puddles under you, they do well at evacuating water so they can better maintain traction with the road. They even did very well on loose gravel, but they did however struggle with thick, wet mud, and on slick dirt/muddy roads. Well of course…they were not designed for that. Still though…they delivered, and even though I was at times probably driving too fast for the conditions, they complimented my skill set to kept me from flying off the road and landing deep in the Tundra.

I can’t praise them enough actually. Over the entire trip they performed extremely well and even survived the abusive conditions of the Dempster for which they were NOT designed for.

So if you’re wondering if this is a good reliable tire…yes…absolutely. They have truly impressed me on this mega road trip and I would highly recommend them for most driving conditions. Okay…don’t take them offroading, and it would be best to stay out of slippery mud.

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Hunting Wildlife…With My Camera

It’s a little ironic that I’ve never been hunting. Although I have gone fishing in my youth with my Grandfather…does that count? I suppose it does yes but fishing isn’t what comes to mind when you think of hunting. 

The irony being because I’m a Canadian outdoorsman and my Dutch surname literally translates to “the Hunter”. However, I’ve never fired a rifle or bow at an animal. The only thing I’ve ever shot an animal with is my camera. 

In today’s age of modern conveniences, and living in a major city, there is no need for me to hunt. I have no problem with those who hunt as a way of life and in some way survive off doing so. Many people rely on hunting as a food source. Just like when I went fishing with my Grandfather, we would eat the fish that we caught, and for those hunters who eat what they kill, I have no problem with that. It’s an important resource and when done responsibly, it’s sustainable in small numbers. I’ve even known a few people over the years who went further than just using the meet for food. They would also harvest the skins, pelts, and bones to make clothing and tools.¬†Over-hunting though can have disastrous results. Just look at what happened to the Bison in North America. Their numbers were in the tens of millions and they were hunted nearly to extinction. The same can be said about many other species in the world.

I do have a problem with Sport or Trophy Hunters. Those who hunt just for the sake of their own ego, and go out and kill large animals, especially endangered ones…well let’s just say I have little patience for those types of people. If you want to go to Africa and do a “Big Game” hunt for a Rino, or Elephant…I won’t shed a tear if you yourself get shot.

In Canada, we have one of the most diverse ecosystems in the word with creatures ranging from the smallest Gnats up to the majestic Moose, Elk, Caribou, Wolves, and Bison, as well as a range of bears like Black, Brown, Grizzly, and the truly massive Polar Bears (although their numbers are dwindling fast).

Now you would think that on a road trip around the country, that I would see many of these large animals but that isn’t the case. I’m moving rather fast in a vehicle, crossing huge distances each day. The only wildlife I would see would be whatever can be seen from the roadway, and since most animals are skittish, they stay away from noisy places like roadways. It’s only at night when the roads are less traveled when the animals are usually nearby.

Although there are exceptions and sometimes those big beautiful animals that you want to see, wander close enough to the road during the day. If you’re really lucky, you’ll be able to shoot them…with your camera.¬† Usually though, you’ll only get a passing glimpse of them. I was extremely fortunate to see several types of large animals in the northern British Columbia region, as well as in the Yukon and North West Territories. I was even more fortunate to be able to capture them with my camera. Getting that elusive black bear was one of my prize trophies, as well as the Bison, Big Horn Sheep, and the one animal I never thought I would even see in the wild tolerated my presence long enough for some photos…a Canadian Lynx.

Shooting a deer, moose, or a bear with my camera may not fill my stomach, but it does fill my soul.

On my road trip up to the Arctic, I was fortunate enough to see the following:

  • 4 Bison Herds, + 30 randoms, so about 80 in total
  • 13 Black Bears
  • ~1 dozen Seals
  • 6-7 Orcas (Killer Whales)
  • 9 Deer
  • 5 Moose
  • 4 Foxs
  • 3 Big Horn Sheep
  • 2 Bald Eagles
  • 2 Porcupines
  • 1 Canadian Lynx
  • 1 Caribou
  • 1 Mountain Goat
  • Countless Columbian Ground Squirrels

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My Van “Moose” | What’s in a Name?

Some people may be curious how my van got the name “Moose”.  Well, I’ve never really been one to name my vehicles, although a couple did have some sort of nickname. 

In this case though, I knew that this van would certainly have a significant role to play in my life in the near future. When I bought the van, it was just to have more space for my RC stuff and I planned on sleeping in it on the weekends when I went RC racing. I hadn’t at this point decided to drive around the country in it. Although…it didn’t take long for the idea to become planted in my head.

One day while working with the ILR Car Control School, at their facility in Brampton, I saw in the parking lot a small stuffed TY Animal and on the tag it said…Canada Moose. It was of course a small moose.

It was dirty and tattered and it looked like it had been driven over by a car or two, so I figured I would take it home and toss it in the wash. If it survived, it would become the mascot for the van and the van would be named Moose.

Well it survived the washing machine and now sits in the ashtray of the dashboard. It, like the van, got a new lease on life. 

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Road Trip Cut Short but to be continued…

Well the original goal was to reach all three Canadian Oceans on this road trip but alas, funding ran short. Once I was back in Ontario, I was able to assess where I was, how much farther there was to go, and how much it would cost, and I simply didn’t have the funds left to do the east coast section as well.

Well…I could have made it but I wouldn’t have enjoyed it. It would have been a difficult push to reach Nova Scotia, spend a couple nights there at a friends place, then turn around and go home.

You can’t just go to Nova Scotia and not spend a few days exploring the whole Province and especially Halifax. You also can’t drive to the east coast and miss out on Newfoundland, PEI, and of course more whale watching. I’ve always believed that if you’re going to do something, it doesn’t have to be perfect, but don’t do a half-ass job of it.

So after six weeks, and just over 17,300km (10,750miles), it was time to pack it in for this road trip.

The rest of the trip is on hold for next year but I can also see myself doing many more road trips like this. In fact, I have a short trip planned to Quebec in just a couple weeks for an RC race.

A huge thanks to MySIM, CarControlSchool, Ronin Automotive, McFadden Cottages, Goodyear, WrapWerks, and the many individuals who pitched in personally to make this trip happen.

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Exploring the North West Territories

It could be constant daylight, or or constant darkness, depending of the time or year. Extremely cold, or mild and pleasant. If you’re an Entomologist you will love being swarmed by bugs of the greatest diversity. By that I mean…if it flies and is found in Canada…you will find it here. Mosquitos, Bull Flies, Black Flies, Deer Flies, Bees, Wasps, Gnats, Jiggers, No-See-Ums, and what the hell kind of beetle was that…some sort of Long Horn? I’m not an Entomologist so what do I know.

On the more pleasant side is seeing all the bears, caribou and LOTS of Bison. You really need to be careful when slowing down to get a better look at these animals though. The Black Bears are by nature very skittish and don’t like being approached. They usually bolt into the bush long before you get close enough for a good look, but the ones that don’t…be very careful. These bears are probably more accustomed to humans but if they feel threatened, even a little, you will regret having slowed down for a better look. If you aren’t very familiar with bear behaviour, do NOT get out of your vehicle to get a closer picture. Fortunately I am familiar enough with black bears to get close enough for some great pics but not close enough to upset them or put myself in harms way.

Bison are quite different though and there are lots of them to be seen beside, or even on, the road. They are quite tolerant of cars but they have a very short fuse and they can charge without warning. Do not get out of your car period. It’s very common to come across one to three teenage males hanging out on the road and although they tolerate your vehicle slowing down, they have little patience for humans who get out for a closer look or for vehicles that linger to close for to long. Those horns will mess you up badly, and they will puncture your vehicle (and you) with ease.

The view from the “Rock” at the
Bush Pilots Monument in Yellowknife, NWT

The city of Yellowknife was originally a gold mining town and is now the capital of the North West Territories, but in general it’s a small place with little to see. There is a large military presence though with the Joint Task Force being stationed there. Although it doesn’t seem like a place for typical military operations, it is a good spot for various training exercises (especially cold weather survival) and considering it’s latitude, and limited radio wave pollution, it would make a great place for Signal Intelligence (collection and analysis). While you’re there you may as well check out the Bush Pilots Monument, which affords a beautiful of the surrounding area and the harbour, and depending on how you get there, you may find yourself on some Ragged Ass Road. Yes…that’s the actual name of a short residential road that has some quaint little homes on it. Early settlers certainly had a sense of humour. I really loved the Fred Henne Territorial Park Campsite located right inside the city limits. As far as campsites go, this one was possibly one of my favourites.

If you’re ever considering a drive through the area (along the Liard and MacKenzie Highways), be sure you are very familiar with the fuel consumption of your vehicle and be prepared for massive detours to find fuel. It’s not uncommon for some gas stations to be empty leaving you stranded if you aren’t prepared for it. It would also be wise to carry an extra 20L…just in case.

After a 380km stretch, I found myself at a fuel station that was out of fuel and even though I had a full 20L Jerry Can, I didn’t have enough to make it to the next fuel stop along my planned route. I had to take a 65km detour to fill up (and another 65km back again) costing me about 18L, and almost 2hrs, just so that I could buy about 60L to get to the fuel stop that I was expecting to reach again originally. Annoying yes but up here, that’s just how things work out.

Alexandra Falls

Now since you’ve made the effort to be here, you should make the effort to check out the waterfalls hidden along the MacKenzie Highway. They are worth it, and a couple of them have some great little campsites almost directly beside them. In one case, I had the sounds of the rapids to listen to as I fell asleep. It was one of the best nights sleep that I had so far on this trip.

The North West Territories is a nature lovers paradise, but if you aren’t there to indulge in the scenery and wildlife, then you should avoid it. It’s a lot of effort just to see trees, rivers, Bison, and waterfalls. But if you’re like me and love that kinda thing, it’s quite a beautiful experience.

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