This was insane!
But, I’m getting ahead of myself because this situation was so stressful, that I think my husband Michael deserves a T-Shirt that says: “With Our 3/4 Ton Standard Transmission, 2500 Heavy Duty Chevy Silverado, I Successfully Hauled our 38ft, 10,000pd 5th Wheel Through Crazy Construction Reroutes in Downtown Montreal With a Failed Clutch!!“
But, why would us newbie RV’ers decide to weave our 5th wheel beast through downtown Montreal?
Thank you Google Maps for this crazy experience!! Now, maybe we weren’t downtown, downtown Montreal – but we were certainly in the middle of a busy city under construction!
Why were we departing from the Montreal Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport when we were in Gananoque, Ontario?
So, let me start at the beginning of the day!
With our new 5th wheel road ready, we packed up our one week stay in Gananoque to start our drive to Nova Scotia. Click here to read about Gananoque!
Take note of the white car parked behind our 5th wheel. That was the rental car we picked up 10 days earlier when we landed in Montreal, from Qatar! From Montreal we made our way to Ontario… Click here to read the start of our Canadian repatriation adventure!
Therefore, two final logistics had to be dealt with before we began our drive to Nova Scotia:
- Pick up our 2 cats and small dog staying with Michael’s cousin Jennifer in downtown Ottawa, Ontario.
- Return the rental car to the Montreal Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport in Quebec.
Our original plan was this as we departed from Gananoque, Ontario:
- Michael drives slowly and carefully to Montreal’s international airport, giving him time to adjust to his first-time hauling a 5th wheel.
- I drive our rental car to downtown Ottawa, pick up our 2 cats and small dog staying with family.
- I then drive to Montreal’s international airport, meet up with Michael, transfer pets to him, return rental car, meet back with Michael and then the completed happy family starts our drive from Quebec to Nova Scotia!
What actually happened was this:
- Michael starts driving to Montreal International Airport.
- I drive rental car to downtown Ottawa, pick up our pets.
- It is getting late into the evening and I’m exhausted.
- It’s another 2 hour drive from Ottawa to the Montreal international airport.
- I call Michael, asking if he would find an RV park somewhere close to wherever he is and I’ll meet him there rather than drive 2 more hours to Montreal in the dark, while exhausted.
- He agrees and finds an RV park near his location.
- I stop at Walmart in Ottawa because we don’t have a coffee maker, coffee, pillows, litter box with a cover, and some groceries for our 5th wheel.
- I drive another hour (with our cat Bob howling the entire drive because he hates being in his crate!) along dark countryside backroads to find Michael (an hour outside Montreal) in a REMOTE RV park. Thank you Google Maps!
This was our first night in our new 5th wheel! We had a blanket, pillows, a coffee maker, coffee, milk (I forgot sugar!) and breakfast! I’m still not sure if that RV park was in Ontario or Quebec!
The next morning the plan was this:
- Pack everything up
- Prepare the cats for travel in the RV
- I drive the rental car to the airport
- Michael meets me there – but parks outside of the perimeter of the airport so he doesn’t have to drive into the busy airport hauling the 5th wheel!
At this time, our first time transporting the cats in the 5th wheel and because the cats hated being in their crates – we put them, with their litter box, in the bathroom. That way they would be able to use their litter box and be kept in a small, safe place – not confined to their crates. After the fact, this wasn’t as successful as I had hoped it would be! Moving forward, whenever we relocated, the cats are put in their crates with their crates secured between two slide outs! Safe and secure!
So, off we went…me driving the rental car – Michael hauling the 5th wheel trailer!
I arrived at the airport, returned the rental car then with the help of Google Maps was able to walk and find Michael outside the airport. I was feeling a bit manic and overtired at this point – and just looking forward to getting safely out of Montreal, on the highway and FINALLY on our way to Nova Scotia!
But, let me revisit the directions Google Maps gave us from the airport….
The route doesn’t look so bad, ‘eh!
This route took us into a maze of construction reroutes and overpasses that freaked us both out!
The truck gave out from so much shifting of gears because of so many stop and starts, stop and starts, tight turns on narrow streets and traffic! The smell of smoke suddenly filled the cabin and started billowing out from under the hood! This happened on a busy and NARROW two lane overpass, where we were forced to pull over while 18 wheelers whizzed by us!
The clutch was failing and Michael had to have his right foot on the gas and the brake at the same so the truck wouldn’t stall as we pushed the truck forward to get us safely out of the insane traffic!
As I think back over this, it was amazing how calm we both were during this ordeal.
With Michael’s amazing driving of his right foot on both the gas and the brake while working the clutch, we made our way out of the city to a highway… where we decided to find the closest RV park to stay, so we could assess the truck.
We found an RV campsite so close to us that when I Googled RV sites near us on my iPhone, we actually had just passed it and had to turn around to find it!
Camping Sainte-Madelaine RV Park
When we rolled into Sainte-Madelaine RV Park, we entered an RV park in the small village of Sainte-Madeleine in southwestern Quebec, where everyone spoke French! However, we were welcomed with open arms and immediately embraced by this RV community as we rolled in, not only with a broken truck, but broken spirits because we were just so overwhelmed!
They helped move our 5th wheel to a nice location where we would be comfortable for our stay! Cyril, thank you SO much! <3
Our new RV neighbor, Leo – a long-term RV resident in the park who spoke pretty good English, helped us find a mechanic for our truck and started teaching Michael the language of RVing!
The RV park had a wonderful restaurant onsite, that everyone from the community frequented! It was here that I helped calm my stress with poutine right from the source! Poutine in Quebec!
And so it began…our unexpected week in Quebec, a week in this wonderful RV community in Sainte-Madeleine!
And what happened to the truck? What we thought was a worn-out clutch – and a huge expense to fix – was nothin more than old and dirty, and overheated oil in the clutch master cylinder – that a $110.00 CAD oil change fixed!