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Review: Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Cape Breton Highlands National Park is perhaps one of the most beautiful places in Canada.  The park takes up a large portion of Cape Breton and has no shortage of serviced camping, dry camping, driving and hiking.

We did the entire drive around Cape Breton Highlands along the Cabot Trail starting from the Sydney KOA and ending at the Cheticamp campground on the far side of the island.  We also stopped in Ingonish for lunch and at just about every lookout along the Cabot Trail.  The drive is one of the most scenic drives we have ever taken.  The north and south end of the island are also quite culturally different from each other, the north near Cheticamp is mostly francophone whereas the south near Sydney is celtic.

We stayed several nights at Cheticamp which is set in the most scenic part of the Cabot Trail.  The area has amazing views everywhere.  It is also a quick drive to the Skyline Trail.  The Skyline Trail is one of the most amazing hikes we have ever taken.  It is a 10km loop along the very edge of the cliffs looking out on the Northumberland Straight.  The highlight is the boardwalk on the edge of the cliffs.  It is possible to make the walk a little shorter by only taking the left branch of the trail to the boardwalk and then taking the same path back.  This option will save several km if 10km is a little too ambitious a hike.

Review: KOA Mallorytown ON

Mallorytown KOA

The Mallorytown KOA in Ontario is actually one of our Favorite KOA campgrounds.  It is not particularly remarkable, in that there is not much around it and it is fairly average.  However it is immacualtly cared for and the owners are really nice.   On our second visit, they even broke their 3 day minimum for the Canada Day weekend as we needed a one night stop over on our way to PEI.  It is nice to go somewhere just to feel like people care.

They have a brand new pool with a big slide and lots of grass sites with full or partial hookups.  Every time we have been the staff were excellent, the visitors well behaved and when we went on Canada Day they put on a very good fireworks show.

The park itself is east of Kingston just off the 401.  Its biggest draw is probably that it is an easy drive to the Thousand Islands.  The Thousand Islands are very nice, and it is worth the drive on the Thousand Islands Parkway, taking a boat tour, visiting the Pioneer Village or taking the boat to Boldt Castle (warning you need a passport as it is in the USA).  It is also an easy drive to Watertown NY, Kingston and Ottawa is just over an hour away.

We try to stop there every time we are going past with the trailer.

What is Two Factor Authentication

2 Fa ctor Authentication

What is Two Factor Authentication and what does it mean for you when RVing?  Two factor authentication is a feature on many services and sites that allows you to make your account more secure from hacking and password stealing.  As the name suggests, to Authenticate you need to know Tow Factors, one being the password and another variable as well.  The second factor is often a text message  to your cell phone with a unique pass code.  Another common option is secondary questions similar to your Forgot my password recovery questions.  Sometimes services may have the option of using a 3rd party Authentication Key like a Ubikey or a 3rd party Authentication App like Google Authenticator.

The important thing to remember is that the second factor of authentication is only needed when you login to a new machine.  Once you have logged into your phone, tablet or computer using Two Factor Authentication, the site will continue to trust you on that device and will only require a password in the future.  The first time you login to another device you will again be prompted for the Second Factor.

This Second Factor buys you a very secure way of protecting your account from being hacked.  Even if a hacker is able to get or guess your password, they still cannot login to your account on their device without the second factor and without physical access to your cell phone to receive the text message or without knowing the answer to your special questions, they simply cannot login.

To some people this may sound vaguely familiar, that is because you likely have seen this before.  Some services like your banking, Gmail or Outlook.com already have Two Factor Authentication turned on by default.

Two Factor Authentication is the single biggest thing you can do to safeguard yourself from hackers and although there are no guarantees in IT security, the best thing you can do to protect yourself is not make yourself hackproof (that is impossible) but to not be low hanging fruit as low hanging fruit always get picked first.  There is a great website that will tell you what services and sites that have Two Factor Authentication

A Quest For The Best Underwater Action Camera — Gone With The Wynns

Tiny action cameras are a dime a dozen these days. Some cost as little as 50 bucks and others are approaching… The post A Quest For The Best Underwater Action Camera appeared first on Gone With The Wynns.

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WIFI when Wallydocking

WIFI when Urban Boondocking

There is a simple trick that will help ensure free WIFI access when urban boondocking at big box stores like Wal-Mart, Home Depot or Lowes.  First ensure the store offers free WIFI. Also ensure the store and the county do not have rules preventing you from urban boondocking at the store.  Next ensure you pick a location that has a garden center.

The image in this post is of a Wal-Mart in the Orlando Fl area.  I do not know if it has WIFI or if local bylaw/store policy allows urban boondocking.  I only picked this one to illustrate a simple trick to getting free WIFI when you Wallydock.

Almost all big box stores now rely on WIFI to use their mobile price checking devices and other technology within the store.  The garden center is as much a part of the store as any other part, and still requires access to the same technology which means they still have to put Wireless Access Points in the garden center.  However when sitting in the parking lot, it is rare to be able to pickup their WIFI on your phone or laptop.  Typically the WIFI is tuned to not leak outside too much, also the exterior walls of the building block WIFI signals really well.  The garden centers in most big box stores are not surrounded in by exterior walls, usually it is iron fencing which is far less effective at blocking WIFI signals.

If you get permission to park overnight, always try to park near the garden center in a spot where you can see into the garden center.  If you can see inside the garden center, the WIFI signal can also see you.  In the featured image the red lines mark the approximate location where WIFI signal would likely be optimal.  In this case your best spot to park would not be the back rows of the main lot, but in the side lot which is probably not a preferred location for customers to park anyway.

Depending on the construction, the distance and the exact WIFI solution, you may still need a WIFI amp like a WIFI Ranger, Jefatech, or Alfa to get a usable signal.  But you have a far better chance of getting a usable free signal in your RV when you do not have exterior walls between you and the nearest Wireless Access Point.  Just be warned that you may pay a cost for the free WIFI, with all night delivery trucks parking near or driving past your campsite if you choose a side lot like in the picture.

Parks Canada Free Pass

Parks Canada Discovery Pass

While sitting in the snow in Southern Ontario all I can do is stare at my Discovery Pass and wait for the warm weather to pull the trailer out.  This year is the 150th Anniversary of Confederation and for the anniversary they are making the 2017 Discovery Pass free.  If you purchased a Discovery pass last year, you may have noticed that because your expiry falls in the free year, they automatically expire it 12 months after the original expiry date, so you still get the free year.  In my case I purchased it July 2 2016 for full price as I arrived at Fundy to start my vacation.  Because it would have then expired July 2017 (during the free year) they moved the expiry date to July 2018, my fee still paid for 12 months (half of 2016 and half of 2018) but 12 months free were tacked on in the middle.   A little life hack that I discovered, since I purchased July 2 2016, meant I got the entire 2016 summer camping season, also get the entire 2017 summer, and because the pass expires on the last day of the expiry month, I also get all of July 2018, so that means I get to use it for 3 summers worth of trips, assuming I plan my 2018 national park trips in July instead of August.

This pass will get you unlimited day use in any National Park or National Monument in the country all year.  In some cases it also covers free parking at sites that have a parking fee (like the Citadel in downtown Halifax).  This does not cover the overnight fees to camp at National Parks, but regardless, it will likely be a busy year in the campgrounds.  2017 is a good year to hook up the trailer and see some of Canada’s natural sites like Fundy, Cape Breton Highlands, Banff etc.

Order your free pass

What a Drone no fly zone might look like in Toronto

Toronto Drone No Fly Zone

NOTE: this map is not exact, it is only a rough estimation based on Transport Canada Registered or Regulated Aerodrome data provided at: Wikipedia

However based on the information on Wikipedia and the new Transport Canada rule about not flying a drone within 9km of a Transport Canada registered Aerodrome: (Airport, Seaport or Helipad), this gives a rough idea of where the no fly zones are in Toronto, inside any of the circles on the map would be a no fly zone.   Based only on that rule, you can see that much of Toronto is a no fly zone and if you factor in additional rules about not flying over people, vehicles or buildings this leaves very little left in the city where you can legally fly.

The good news is the only campground inside the city limits of Toronto, the Glen Rouge Campground does not appear to be inside any airport related no fly zones.

The bad news is if you are camping near any town that has an airport or hospital with a helipad which is almost all medium sized and large cities and even a lot of smaller towns, much of the area around town may be a no fly zone as a 9km radius is quite large.  Looking at Ontario as a whole, large sections of every major city are no fly zones, London in particular is almost completely a no fly zone with only a very small section of the city in the very west end near Komoka Provincial Park not in a no fly zone.  With the exception of a few pockets (like Scarborough and east of Cobourg) almost the entire shore of Lake Ontario from Niagara to Kingston is a no fly zone.  Almost all of the Muskoka region is also a no fly zone including all of Lake Muskoka and Lake Rousseau.  This is not an issues specific to Ontario either, there are large sections of lower BC, central Alberta, and southern Quebec that are no fly zones.  Add to this that drones are prohibited in National Parks and Algonquin Provincial Park even has a Seaport near the West gate, this further limits potential areas to fly them.  Also since campgrounds have people, cars/RV and buildings, flying directly above any occupied campsite would not be permitted as well.