Our First Vehicle-Associated Sponsor: HGregoire – Canada’s Centre D’Auto / Auto Center

The Truck

It was a couple of years ago, and Bella and I were in the market for a new truck. The four cars I had ever had were: Nissan Pathfinder, Pathfinder, Pathfinder…and you guessed it, another Pathfinder. All LE Models. And we were looking for The Expeditioners next…you guessed it, Pathfinder LE.

Now, you’re probably thinking, why would The Expeditioners need an LE? As indeed, LE stands for Luxury Edition. For one, we need the leather seats. Have you ever spilled a coffee on a fabric seat? How about a cup of water? Maybe some sand? A little mud? Some snow? Lots of snow? Rain got in? Or your friend spilled his soda and fries? Oil from your bike chain? How about some salt from your winter boots and ski boots? Water from your wet folding kayak spilled everywhere? Oh, your neoprene suits didn’t fully dry before throwing them in the back seat? How about the post camping food-bin…did the maple syrup leak out?

With fabric seats, the liquids will seep into your seat and rot the interior, the salt will leave white stains, the oil from your chain will never come off, the ketchup will be a constant yucky reminder of your buddy, the maple syrup will make everything gross and sticky, and the seats will take a smell reminiscent of a locker-room’s wet towels bin. But with leather seats– if you frequently clean your car, or wipe the ketchup stain of the seat, sop-up the water, or clean the coffee right away– then those little accidents don’t get immortalized. So there’s my argument for leather seats.

Hood

Secondly, is the sound system:) We spend many many many hours on the road. Expedition Canada alone involves over 6500km of driving… one way! And we loooooove our tunes. The Pathfinder LE has a Bose sound system. Looking out the window at mirrored lakes, sun breaking through puffy clouds, your best friend and lover sitting next to you, and the right song on… is just simply superb.

Truck afficionados know that certain 4x4s will just live longer. Many making it up into the half-million km mark. The Pathfinder is such a truck–and it has the power to pull/carry the heavy loads our adventures require. I parted with the last four around the quarter-million kilometer mark.

Now, the small conundrum is the fact that it is an expensive truck.

It’s common knowledge that the moment you drive a brand new vehicle off of the dealer’s lot, you are literally losing 30% of the original value of the car.

This is why, we never buy new, but instead previously owned. With about 70 000km on such a truck, you can literally get it for less than half the price from new. The trick, though, lies in finding the deal.

Bella and I had called every Nissan dealership in Ontario and Quebec, but nobody had what we were looking for in the price range we were looking for. I was getting stressed at not finding something–for in a few weeks, we would be heading off back-country skiing to Gaspesie, Quebec and we were going to be filming for CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.)

HGregoire

We had driven by the giant HGregoire Mega Auto Center on Autoroute 25 in Saint-Eustache, Quebec many times, but had never given it consideration, as indeed, all the previous trucks had been bought through Nissan dealerships. We thought we’d give it a check online first.

We found exactly what we were looking for! A 2007 Slate-Grey Nissan Pathfinder LE with 95 000km. Except there was no pictures…and we were leaving on a trip in a couple of days. Rushing over to the mega auto center, we perused a ton of vehicles (it was amazing the variety they had), but couldn’t see the Pathfinder we had “seen” online.

We were cordially greeted by a super jovial fellow and sales agent named Stephane Pare– to whom we anxiously inquired about the Pathfinder with no photos…and nowhere in the showroom.

“Let me check it out,” he said, and tapped away into his system.

“This one is so fresh it arrives tomorrow morning. That’s why the photos haven’t even been taken. We could have it cleaned and ready for a test drive tomorrow afternoon.”

That’s what I call efficiency! At 1pm the next day we were test driving it.Then we negotiated a little–and added HGregoire’s Premium 3 year or 70 000km warranty so that we would have no worries whatsoever. And then we bought it.

The Pathfinder

In less than 24 hours of having researched HGregoire’s immense inventory (they have numerous Megacenters) we had found our truck, test drove it, and purchased it.

And it was a great deal!

When we picked it up, we had the brief opportunity to meet HGrgoire’s Marketing and Media Head– Michelle Therrien. A very kind and sharp lady that took an interest to our concept. I told bella as we left the lot– “Maybe they’ll sponsor us one day!”

We hopped in our new truck and headed off to pick-up our friends for our Gaspesie trip and then our Pathfinder took as all over Eastern Canada.

Expeds Bella

Canoe Camping

Fast-forward a couple of years to a few weeks ago, and we approach Michelle Therrien about possibly having HGregoire be a sponsor for Expedition Canada.

We had a fantastic conversation on the phone. We talked about our truck and our travels. Michelle had been following our galavanting around the globe since we bought the truck and happily said they would love to sponsor us–and take the major logo placement on The Expeditioners Truck.

I put the phone down, and turned to Bella and said: “Do you remember what I told you when we left the parking lot when we first bought the truck?”

Sometimes, you’ve got to just believe!

Thank you very very much to HGregoire’s team and Michelle Therrien for believing in us!

You can follow our epic journey across Canada via our Facebook Page, Website and Twitter. Make sure to look for the hashtag #ExpeditionCanada and if you’re looking for a great deal on a pre-owned vehicle in Canada, well you know where to go!

www.hgregoire.com

H Gregoire Website

On the road

Diving Africa Part 4/10

predive

Concrete stairs lead down to the water where our boat was moored. A jovial Senegalese local played a rythmic beat on his tam-tam– luring us to our boat like the Pied Piper. It was an early afternoon dive, and so would be a 1-tank dive. Located only a few kilometers from shore, the Madeleine Islands sit a quick boat ride away from Dakar’s coastline. Mamadou (our dive master) kept the tap of jokes flowing as our little skiff made it’s way amongst fishing boats to the islands. A couple from France were delighted to get reacquainted with our dive-master–as they had dove with him 20 years earlier.

Anchor

The water temp hovered around 16 degrees Celcius. I donned my 3/2 Oceanic Pioneer wetsuit, and added an extra layer of Lavacore to keep from getting chilled– Bella did likewise. I hesitated with donning a hoodie, but after plunging my hand into the water realized it was a must to wear.

belladivesenegalstingray

Before we knew it we were already at the island. The boatman dropped anchor. We prepped our cameras, and back-flipped into the frigid waters of the North Atlantic Ocean.

Manta Dive Watch

robertodive

The water was murky and green. And the current was strong. We dove along the submerged part of of the island– spotting sea-slugs and little rays. Visibility was less than 10′. We dove down to 60′ where it was a little clearer– hoping there would be less current. Yet there just seemed to be more. Bella and I glanced at each other and made the signal to head-back.

We’ve learned not to push ourselves too much on a dive in questionable conditions. For indeed, there is always the next dive.

Quick Tip: The Aeris Jetpack is a WING BC with integrated weights– giving you great mobility and freedom on your dive. Use the detachable bag on your dive boat to keep the stuff you don;t need for your dive: sunglasses, sunscreen, micro-towel, Dfog, etc..

Gear Guide:
Aeris Jetpack BC’s
Aeris Ion AT600 First Stage & ION LT Second Stage
Aeris Manta Dive Watch
Aeris Velocity Fins (Bella)
Aeris Accel Fins (Roberto)
Aeris Ai300 Computers
Oceanic Pioneer Wetsuit
Oceanic Pioneer Mask
Lavacore Pants & Short Sleeve Shirts
Ikelite Camera Housing w/ Pro-2800 LED Video Lights
Ikelite Coolpix Camera Housing

senegaldive

belladive

Diving Africa Part 3/10

DIVING AFRICA
Post 3/10

The streets of Dakar, Senegal were hustling and bustling when we arrived. Vendors hawked their wares. Cars honked without purpose, and people filled every empty space. Not exactly the backdrop I imagined for scuba-diving, but hey..you never know.

The dive shop–named Oceanium was easy enough to find, and was located around an open bar/cafe area, overlooking the Atlantic. We got introduced to our dive-master Mamadou- a tall fellow with a ready smile- who marveled at the quantity of gear that we pulled out of our Jetpacks.

Conversation flowed and we got to spend some time explaining our kit to him and sipped some coffee that would wake-up a 12 year old dead horse. The vibe was like that of most dive-shops, relaxed–but ebbing with an excitement… an excitement to dive.

We detached our bags from the BC’s and prepped-our kit for what was to be our first dive in Africa.

Gear Guide: AERIS Jetpack BC is adjustable to all sizes. From the back, to the shoulder straps to the waist strap–it all adjusts. I’m 6’1 and Bella is 5’4. And the Jetpack fits us both. It was nice not to have to rummage through my checked-luggage for dive gear. Everything was snug in my Jetpack bag section…even my Accel fins!

Find part 1 and 2 at www.theexpeditioners.com

Sponsored by Aeris, Oceanic Worldwide, Lavacore Int’l, Ikelite Underwater Systems

Attaching Jetpack

The Engines

Dive day

Diving Africa Part 2/10

The Expeditioners
DIVING AFRICA
Post 2/10

By visiting different countries (Senegal, Mozambique, South Africa) on Expedition Africa–we really got to tell the difference between cultures. Each country was so clearly distinct from the other– which was fascinating! Likewise, our diving experiences were extremely different in each country. But that’s to be expected from destinations so far apart from each other.

From Dakar, Senegal to Gansbaai, South Africa it is about 6800kms– and from Gansbaai to Vilanculos about 2000kms as the crow flies. We were hoping to get the Sardine Run as well, but alas, it just wouldn’t fit into our scheduling.

Senegal was out first testing ground for our new gear. We were happy that we didn’t have to fidget with the equipment, as dive was challenging to say the least.

When we decided to go to Africa, we knew that a trip to the continent wouldn’t be complete without diving with great white sharks– and so we booked with Sharklady Adventures. Little did we know how up close and personal we would get to be with them!

Our principle reason for choosing Mozambique as a dive destination was in the hopes of seeing Whale Sharks, as Tofo and Vilankulo are known for their sightings. But nature beats her own drum, and from what I understand, those sightings of the gentle giant have become more and more rare. Still, we got to spend some quality time with a giant grouper!

Dive Gear Tip: Taking your AERIS Jetpack as your carry-on is a fantastic solution for flying with your dive kit. But what happens when your plane is a little itsy-bitsy plane who’s overhead compartments are half the size of regular planes? Simple, once you are on the plane and stowing your bag un-clip your BC from the bag section of the Jetpack (making it half the size,) and stow the two sections separately in the overhead, OR put one section in the overhead and the other under the seat in front of you.

Diving Africa Part 1/10

The Expeditioners
DIVING AFRICA
Post 1/10

Africa. My 7th continent. It was going to be a big trip. Criss-crossing the continent, exploring, photographing, scuba diving. A big trip with a lot of flights.

We would first visit Bella’s family in Senegal (two flights,) then fly through Mali and onto Ethiopia where we would catch a night’s sleep.. before catching another flight to Johannesburg where we would then proceed to drive 600km to Kruger Park. After exploring the park we’d fly to Cape Town and drive to Hermanus to go Shark Cage Diving, and another flight to Johannesburg, and then another one onto Vilankulo, Mozambique for some scuba diving….yup, then another flight back to Johannesburg, then another back to Ethipioa (sleep there a night,) then onto Mali–then to Dakar, Senegal again and after two days a flight to New York, and finally home- Montreal.

All in all 12 flights in 5 weeks.

We had to find the best way to take all of our scuba diving gear without getting dinged with overweight fees.

Solution: Dive company revolutionizes scuba travel market by making a travel BC that’s the perfect carry-on companion, and fits carry–on regulations and stowes nicely above your head or under your seat for your flight.: Appropriately named the AERIS Jetpack. It’s a BC. It’s a Bag. It’s a wing. Which we love. It’s sleek. And it makes you breakfast. But only on Tuesdays;)

#ExploreAfrica #Expeditioners #Aeris

A moment in Vilankulo, Mozambique

We filmed this just off of the beach from our eco-lodge, the Villas do Indico, in Vilankulo, Mozambique. When researching on where we would go, we stumbled upon this hidden gem on the East Coast of Africa. It’s also the stepping-stone to the jaw-dropping Bazaruto Archipelago.

Location: Inhambane Province, Mozambique, Africa

Fun Facts: Vilankulo is named after local tribal chief Gamala Vilankulo Mukoke.
Known both as Vilankulo, and Vilanculos, after Mozambique gained their independence from Portugal, they changed it to the k version.

Sponsored in part by Lowepro Canada & Villas do Indico