About Us

The Open Road Project exists to spread kindness and meet the needs of strangers. We travel in a 1979 GMC Vanguard named Lily. These are our stories.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Working on our swings

Tyrone here – thanks for joining us. When the idea of a trip to Florida was brought to my attention, I’ll admit my mind immediately went to golf. We would be in a distant land where palm trees shaded the greens and the courses were open 12 months a year. However, my train of thought came quickly to a halt as I remembered Jeremy & Calvin weren’t golfers. Or so I thought.

They agreed to bring down some clubs with the intention of maybe hitting a driving range on a free afternoon, but while searching local courses one night we stumbled upon a true diamond in the rough. Myerlee Country Club proudly describes itself as “the 3rd most affordable course in South West Florida”. This translates into 9 holes, a cart and your choice of draft beer – for $15.

The decision was made and not four hours later, both Calvin & Jer were wondering why they had missed out on the glory for so many years. They enjoyed their time on the links so much, that a few mornings later they were the ones getting me up at the crack of dawn to ensure we weren’t late for our sunrise tee time. I am happy to report these two have fallen victim to the allure of golf – and it shows no signs for letting up any time soon.

The 20 yard chip that robbed Jer of a birdie...
Cart club
Short game
Living the high life 
Thanks to our sponsor, Nike
Now golf hasn’t been the only method in which we way have been working on our swings this past week, thanks to pristine tennis courts just next to our humble abode. Armed with a few rackets and fresh canisters of balls still holding that coveted new tennis ball smell, we began to refine our game.

After a few extremely competitive (read sweaty) warm up sessions, it was time for the Sanibel Cup to begin. As onlookers admired the sheer beauty of our back and forth rallies, each of us was able to claim a coveted Cup title. Wisely, we decided to retire on top and will be leaving the island as the undisputed champions.

It has been nice to be able to mix in these activities and more amongst the relaxation, and I’m sure the girls would happily tell you that their relaxation has also benefited from our periodic absence.


Tyrone and friends

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Get to know the locals

Here at the Open Road Project we are all about dispelling the myth that young people are sluggards, lazy, and sleep in till noon. So on Monday morning, we got up at the crack of dawn and went to the beach for some sunrise shelling.

Sanibel Island is the shell capital of the universe, and offers so many varieties of shells that no person could ever hope to collect them all. It was a beautiful sunrise, and we got the best selection of the shells deposited by the cool Florida night tide.

After a quick breakfast, we waited for our 10:00 am pickup from a friend who has been coming to the island since before Lily even hit the production line.

When someone gives you the "Sanibel Insiders List of Things To Do," and then also offers to take you on a tour of the island - you just say yes.

Driving around in the bed of a pickup truck is fun any day of the week, but cruising around the island this way was especially satisfying. Sanibel has a fascinating history, and I would encourage you to do a 5 minute Google search to learn more if you are into good stories.

Cruisin' Florida style
Back in the late 60's Sanibel was set to become the next "Miami beach," with plans for over 90,000 hotel/condo/high rise units. The locals, wanting to preserve the natural beauty and diverse wildlife on the island, ended up voting to secede from Lee County so that they could govern themselves, and take control back from the developers. Today the island is built as much as it will ever be, and no buildings are higher than 3 storeys. Also, two-thirds of the island is comprised of wildlife refuges. For a group of six who believe in a Creator, this island has been an amazing place to marvel at the beauty that surrounds us.

On our tour, we also learned about an inspiring man named Jay "Ding" Darling when we visited the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. He was a cartoonist with a passion for raising awareness of conservation issues. He was good friends with Franklin Roosevelt during the time the National Wildlife Foundation was created. His political cartoons won him a number of awards during a time when there many American animal species were rapidly disappearing. Our tour of the refuge compelled us to think about the complex conservation and environmental issues of the present.

This rifle held over three pounds of ammo, and would decimate 80-100 birds per shot
Getting educated
After our tour, we went out for an amazing lunch at a popular local spot called Doc Ford's. Doc Ford is a character in a book series based on a guy who lives on the island of Sanibel. Calvin has been captivated by one Doc Ford page-turner this week.

Whenever we travel on the open road, we find the best stories come from time spent with locals. Our tour was a perfect example of this!

Thanks for reading,

Jeremy and friends

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Sunday Funday

When we woke up and realized we had a whole Sunday ahead of us, we were again excited that we decided to drive straight through.

After a modest sleep-in, we hopped in the RV to go out for breakfast and run some errands. We ended up at a hilarious little place called the Sunflower Cafe. When we walked in, the large restaurant was absolutely PACKED with the "over 65 Sunday church crowd." Every snowbird or Florida retiree stereotype you can think of applied. It was a pretty fun experience, and we estimated the average age of any given patron was 77. The coffee was hot and the food was greasy - just as we expected and hoped.

Now it was time to head to SuperTarget to get our groceries for the week. The ladies laid out a nice meal plan so shopping was pretty turnkey. Stick to the list.

Next on the to-do list was renting some bikes from our friends at Billy's Bikes. The island is quite small, and many people bike to get around. We quickly became friends with our service representative, who was originally from Montreal. All the bike shop employees thought the RV was VERY cool. I wasn't surprised.

Gotta love a well-maintained bike path
Now that the errands were complete, it was finally time to hit the beach. The water was warm, the waves were fun and the wind made for perfect conditions for Calvin's awesome snowy owl kite.

After beach time, we busted out the George Forman for dinner, followed by a late night bike ride for ice cream and the local hotspot.

The lovely ladies
Great weather to fly an ironic kite
Moments before Calvin smashed ice cream into his face - he'll do anything for the camera
Also, for those reading, please note that these posts are really about a vacation. Hopefully it's a little more interesting than the slides from your aunt's trip to the Grand Canyon, but no guarantees.


Jeremy and friends

Sunday, April 19, 2015

We made it!

After 30 straight hours in the RV - our longest direct ride to date - we made it to Sanibel Island in Florida.

When the workday ended on Friday, we gathered in Burlington and packed the RV. The was a definite buzz in the air. While Lily is, yes, an ancient RV, the girls were pleasantly surprised with her spacious and versatile configurations. The new upgrades and fresh scent went a long way.

Crossing the border and driving through the night was no problem, and for this we were very thankful. The Rockstar energy drinks were flowing, and the RV loved the cool air and open interstate. We cruised through Pennsylvania and all of West Virginia before sun up.

Calvin and Tyrone did most of the driving in the night, and I was back at the wheel as the sun was rising. Wow was it beautiful. At this point we were coming out of Virginia into North Carolina, and the fresh green and purple tree buds were beginning to appear. It was exciting to watch the forests turn more and more lush as we drove south.

When driving through the States, I am always reminded of the differences between our country and America. The dirt cheap gas is always welcome - we were typically filling up for about $60. Even with the poor exchange rate, that makes for a significant savings. There are also many things that make us scratch our heads, such as boiled peanuts, liquid nicotine at gas stations, and the omnipresent fast food.

The ride was mostly uneventful, though at times we could tell that Lily was a bit tired. The frequent stops for gas also allowed some time for the engine to rest.

Calvin pulled the last leg of the trip, driving from north of Tampa all the way to Sanibel - we arrived at 2:00 am on the nose.

After dumping everything into our place, we parked the RV and went straight to bed. Did it ever feel good to put our heads down on our pillows.

Now the fun begins!

Calvin got good bang for his buck at Starbucks. Leave room for dairy? No thanks.
RV life
Do not try to get between Katie E and her crosswords
Thanks for reading,

Jeremy and friends

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Announcement: To the Sunshine State!

That's right, Lily is heading to Florida.

This announcement is historic for a few reasons. Namely, there will women on this trip. Also, it's the first time travelling with a gorgeous new golden speedboat hood ornament reminiscent of a true Florida Poker Run boat. Ok, so a hood ornament is not that big of a deal, but taking girls on a trip is!

Open Road veterans Calvin Berry, Tyrone Maguire and I are going with our ladies - Katie, Danielle and Katie - on a trip to Sanibel Island. Though this will be more of a vacation than an adventure style trip, there are bound to be some good stories, so I have decided to write about what we get up to.

So, to the beginning of the story. A few months ago, Katie and Calvin invited Katie, myself, Dani and Ty to go to Florida with them for a vacation. While Tyrone and I were searching for cheap flights, a lightbulb went off simultaneously in our heads. The RV. Surely gas split 6 ways would be cheaper than a flight! Now if only we could convince the ladies...

Much to our surprise, they were excited about the idea! Obviously there were a number of conversations about reliability, but no way of travel is without its pros and cons... The new engine in Lily is built to last, and we haven't had (much) trouble on our last mini adventures. So after we crunched the numbers and assured the ladies Lily would undergo a thorough cleaning, they were in.

Over the past few weekends, I have been getting her ready with Tyrone and another Open Road veteran, Josh Willms. We put some more caulking on the roof (no leaks now!), fixed the right brake light and turn signal (important), got the electrical working inside (which I am VERY pumped about), got rid of some old (very old) rations from trips past, and installed some new windshield wipers (swish swish).  Thanks to my gracious father Rudy for lending some labour from his shop to do the electrical. Oh, and of course I enlisted the help of our favourite mechanic friend, Craig, to help us install some new speakers and the hood ornament. We also let him loose with his drill and some screws, which was helpful considering the state of some of our gorgeous wall hangings and the step into the RV.

With the major upgrades completed, I drove Lily back to my abode in Burlington. It was now time to let Katie loose with the cleaning products for the final polish. I wish that I could say I helped, but I was generally just in the way. Katie went to town with the Pinesol, Windex, and rubbing alcohol (for that pesky duct tape residue). She showed every speck of dust and dirt who was the boss with the Dyson. It was a truly sight to behold! I have never seen that RV so clean, so cared for and so ready to go on a journey.

Tomorrow, our adventure begins. We will be gone for a week, and are excited for warmer weather, and some great time together as friends. Naturally, we will be keeping our eyes open for people to meet and help.

Thank you for reading, and stay tuned. Adventure awaits!

Clean and clear and under control

Home is where you park it,

Jeremy and the boys (and gals!)