Monday, September 15, 2014

*END* of Gaspe trip, Sept 2014

At 591 km this was the longest distance day of the trip! Yes, the van is helping us avoid those marathon drives we’ve done in the past.

We’re headed to Huntsville today for a visit. We had a really nice drive up through Calabogie, Bancroft, Haliburton etc. We decided to avoid Algonquin this time. Good lunch stop and walk in Bancroft town park, right by the river.

We had planned to stay at Arrowhead tonight and visit my parents tomorrow when 2 of Mom’s sisters will be visiting. It’s raining and 10C though, so we called Mom to see about coming for a short visit today instead, then heading home. Fran and Marion arrived while we were there, so we got to say hello to them too. 

After an uneventful drive we made it home about 6:30 pm. A very pleasant trip, and the van worked very well. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Queechee Gorge to Ontario

It’s a travel day, starting off at 7C at 7am. It’s not raining though. We had a really nice drive along #4W to #100N to #125W. It was down to 5C at 10am though, at our elevation of 500 meters.

We stopped for a picnic beside Saranac Lake, expecting to continue along #3 as we usually have. We decided on a change though, and took 86 West and North up to Malone, then across to the Cornwall border crossing. No problems there either.

Then we finally got on the dreaded 401 for a bit, just to Brockville, then up thru Smith’s Falls and Carleton Place. We could likely have (and should have) stayed at Beth’s again, but decided they will likely be preparing for their own trip later this week. So we ended up at Tranquil Acres - $45 and showers were 50 cents at that!

Definitely not worth the money there, but at least there was electric and WiFi.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Goin' to the Tunbridge World’s Fair.

We decided to head to the fall fair today. It was just 7C at 8am, but sunny this morning. With no electric hookup we couldn’t use our electric heater, but using the Buddy propane heater before we went to bed and first thing in the morning kept us comfortable. It’s calling for cloud and rain later on today, so we tried to get an early start.

We headed out on some very scenic back roads and on up to the Tunbridge World’s Fair. It was a bit pricey, but a real nice way to spend some time. We both went on the Ferris Wheel, did lots of browsing of exhibits, and ate lots of junk food. Apple crisp and Indian pudding (both with ice cream), a big warm pretzel to share, and huge onion rings to share. Even sharing we couldn’t finish the onion rings. Luckily we came across our cg neighbor and his wife, and they happily took care of the last 2 rings for us.

There were oxen pulls, free just-pressed apple cider tastings, lots of people doing things. Here’s a sampling of the pictures:
Playing the fiddles he makes

Cider samples

Corn shucker

Cath powering the yarn-twister
On the Ferris wheel

Overview from the Ferris wheel

It started raining about 2:30 so we got a bit wet towards the end of our fair visit, but no problem.

After 3 hrs at the fair we went on to a place called “Farm Way”, sort of an outlet store with all kinds of useful clothing and footwear, and lots of other stuff, kind of like a huge old general store. I got a pair of Keene sandals at a good clearance price.

On the way back to the cg we stopped for milk, but had to also get one of their rotisserie chickens for supper. We really enjoy these once in a while when camping, really good without all the prep work.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Woodstock to Queechee Gorge VT

Sunny and windy today. We wanted to stop at the LL Bean store in West Lebanon NH, but had trouble finding it. Our GPS had several (maybe all the other) Bean stores, but not this one. After asking for directions though, we eventually did find it. We told a fellow in the store about their omission from the Garmin info. He seemed to care and promised to get it looked into. 

Anyway, it’s a nice store for a good browse, smaller than the Freeport complex and a better assortment than the Bean Outlet stores, not so full of out-of-date clothing.

After the Bean's shopping, we had a really good lunch at the Wood Oven Pizza place right next door. They had several small lunchtime pizzas available, and the best buns!

We were thinking of taking a ride on an excursion train out of Bellows Falls, so headed there via #12A. Disappointing, the train doesn’t run out of there anymore, so a somewhat wasted detour.

We decided to head for our old reliable cg at Queechee Gorge, and took site 141 for 2 nights. No hookups here, $44 US for 2 nights. We bought one of their wood bundles, delivered to our site with kindling, for $5. It’s an excellent bundle of mostly hardwood, and it burned from 5 until we put it out at 8.

Our campsite neighbor brought over a large piece of wood (maybe Douglas Fir) that I wanted to just keep for the shop, but he wanted us to put it on the fire, so we did. He stayed to talk a while, and told us about the Tunbridge Fair that’s going on. He grew up in the area, and is currently on his way home to Virginia from Alaska, where they were campground hosts for the summer.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Cedar Haven to Woodstock NH

The sky is overcast, with rain expected. We cooked outside though, with the new hose the stove worked fine off the 10 lb tank for grilled bacon & cheese sandwiches, and making the coffee. Then we started heading mostly west, avoiding the main roads.

Around North Conway NH we had a good Applebees lunch and a long browse through the nearby mall, followed by a drive along the Kancamagus hwy. Not much colour yet, 15C and rainy.

We decided we wanted a “civilized” site tonight as the weather isn’t great, so stopped in at the Woodstock KOA where we’ve stayed before. It was almost unrecognizable to us, as it’s gone upscale. We did get a nice site for $44 ($50.06 Cdn), but likely won’t stay there again, too many facilities that we have to help pay for but wouldn’t use. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

St Andrews to Freeport and Cedar Haven

We’re off to the US border this morning, with a sunny 10C day. It was just 8C at 8am, but warming up. After an easy border crossing we eventually got on track and headed down US#1.

Note that the main border crossing has moved out of St Stephen town now. The crossing that was for trucks is now the main crossing, somewhat north of town. Note that the Duty Free store has moved out there too!

Since we don’t bring much in the way of groceries into the US, we stopped at a Hannaford store in Machias and stocked up a bit. We can’t remember the name of the place, but we had a great late breakfast at the corner of #185 and #1.

Of course I had to have a browse at the Marine store in Searsport, then we pressed on to Freeport via #1 and #265. NOTE: stay on the freeway until an official Freeport exit. The turn from #1 directly to  #265 is very dangerous, crossing traffic on the opposite side of the divided highway, virtually a Uturn.

We had a hot dog and drink at a kiosk outside Beans, then went our separate ways into the massive LL Bean store(s). Cath got some light weight pants for walking, a long-sleeve top, and a couple of nice big towels (one for Meagan as it turned out). Gord got a replacement hose for our propane tank, which did work well and finally fixed our stove problems.

We ended up staying at Cedar Haven (formerly Sandy Cedars?) again, $34.50 US Good Sam price for a site with electric and Wi-Fi. It wasn’t a very good site, it looks like they’ve been flooded out recently and repairs aren’t being done. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Wandering around St Andrews

We were both up about 6:45 to see the beautiful sunrise. There is a trail and benches over by the water (provided by the town) so we took our coffees over there and just enjoyed. 

About 10 we decided to walk into town (we love being able to do this) for some browsing. We browsed and got a few groceries, and an ice cream cone for the walk back, about 2 ½ enjoyable hours on a gorgeous day.

A local parade in town

After a good break we drove out to Ministers Island again (5 minutes from town) to see what the “road” looked like when the tide is in. Almost eerie, there’s no sign of the crossing now:

Since we’re heading into the US tomorrow, we decided to drive in to St Stephen today and get some US money. On the way back we got some scallops and a couple of potatoes for supper. Yummm.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Campobello to St Andrews NB

Today we caught the 10am ferry back to Deer Island, another $24 ferry ride. What a gorgeous day!

The ferry landing is pretty crude. See that concrete pad? That’s the ferry landing target:

The ferry landing

Lining up...


Well... okay I guess

It was a beautiful day for a crossing! We saw lots of porpoises and seals, and had calm water.

We got to Blacks’s Harbour about noon. Cath had a great visit to the Cricket Cover Yarn Shoppe, and helped support the local economy.

We then went to a nice nearby picnic area to cook up some lunch. The propane hookup didn’t work though, in spite of (or rather, because of) our brand new adapter hose. Ah well, after a cold lunch we headed to St Andrews.

St Andrews has a great town campground, at the south end of town right on the bay, called Kiwanis Ocean Front Campground. We took electric site 36, 2 nights for $60, which seemed really reasonable for that location. It’s a somewhat crowded park, but salt water on 3 sides, with great sunrise views in particular, and quite close to downtown. We've stayed here a number of times over the years.

In the afternoon we headed out to tour Minister’s Island, only about 10 minutes from the campground. You can only visit this Island when the tide is low enough to drive across to the it (in our own cars or whatever). It was the summer home of William Van Horne in the early 1900’s. There’s lots of info on their web site, well worth a visit.
At high tide, this crossing is underwater

At low tide it's a gravel bar, firm enough to drive over

Note that the National Park Pass isn’t accepted here, even though the Island is some form of a National Historic Site.

On the island, there is a fine old house and barn, all open for touring through, well worth a visit.

This flat area is the remains of the salt-water pool, refreshed every tide

The 2-story bath house and change rooms

A lovely evening back at the campground:

Alas, we couldn’t get our stove to work from the bulk propane tank, so we bought a couple of disposable cylinders to get us by. They worked fine, so the stove is not the problem.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

St John to Campobello NB, East Quoddy

It poured rain overnight but the sky is turning blue, 12C at 9am. We fueled up at an Irving, only the 4th fillup this trip.

We got to St George and made the 10:30 ferry to Deer Island (free govt ferry), then drove across Deer Island to the 11:30 Campobello ferry, $24 Cdn for the van. They had to think about it, but decided the van was the same size as a pickup truck, so used that rate.

The second ferry is basically a barge with a tugboat coupled beside it. Hey, it works.

We arrived at Herring Cove prov park about noon, and after looking around a bit, took electric site 36 for $25.20 seniors rate.

While signing up, a woman (Sue Fox) took an interest in our parked van, and we had a nice visit. She was raised in the area and back for a visit, spending winters in California (where her hubby was still at home). She’s camping in the back of her Toyota Tacoma pickup with her cat, and loved the room inside the van. She asked many questions about the customization and took pictures to show hubby back home. She hopes to have a van in her driveway sometime soon.

In the afternoon we toured the Island. We found the Family Fisheries restaurant where we had such great chowder last time, and had lunch there again. Gord had a large bowl of seafood chowder and raspberry pie. Cath had a lobster roll and blueberry cobbler. All was delicious, and at a very reasonable price.

We headed out to the Easy Quoddy lighthouse, intending to sit there a while and watch for whales etc. The tide was ebbing as we got there and the tours were starting, so we paid our $5 each  (includes the loan of a hiking stick) and trekked out to the lighthouse. It’s isn’t far, but what a trek!

When the tide comes back up, this area is totally flooded

The seaweed marks the higher tide levels on the rocks

The lighthouse is completely isolated at higher tide

A fishing weir sticks out

Whalewatchers frequent this area

It’s well worth a visit and the price. We did see porpoises and lots of seabirds, no whales though. You can only do the hike at low tide, and if you stay at the lighthouse too long, you get to wait 8 hours or so to get back.

Later at a beach near our campground, Cath finished and mailed some postcards, and finished the mohair & silk turquoise shawl.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Sugarloaf Park to St John NB

Away at 8:30 am with overcast and a muggy 21C. We got to Miramichi about noon, and found a Bell store. I wanted to find out the story with our Hub billing. After talking to several people at Bell “support”, the upshot is that I cancelled our Turbo Hub wifi hot spot plan.

There is no real protection for overcharges on these data Flex plans, except a CRTC-mandated warning if you’re about to go over $50 for the month. If you ok exceeding that, the sky’s the limit for billing. Bell offers NO WAY to set a personal upper limit, but will cheerfully charge you for every byte, too risky for my taste. There's no way we used anywhere near 2Gb this month already, and Bell had no explanations to offer.

While stopped (with “free” weekend cell time), we also set up our health coverage for the US. $60.90 Cdn covered 7 days (6 nights). Easy, but we need to get an annual plan next year to reduce the daily cost.

Cath called Nancy and Joyce, and traded texts with Barb. The cell plan is one reason the Hub is less valuable to us these days. We made and ate lunch before vacating the mall parking lot, a very useful stop.

We started heading for Kouchibouguac Park, but changed our minds before getting too far. Given our health coverage timing it made more sense to head right for Campobello and St Andrews, and then into the US.

Along the way we dove into Moncton traffic to the Costco for a couple of necessities. We figured it shouldn’t be too busy on a Saturday afternoon, with the kids back to school. Well, it seems that everybody in the area had the same idea! We got parked in the mall lot near Costco though, and were in and out of Costco in about 20 minutes. 

By 3:15 we were on our way, intending to stop around Sussex.
Nothing appealed at Sussex, so on to St John. We got to Rockwood Park about 5:15. A site with electric was $37. It’s a big park, right in St John. It would likely be a good base for a couple of days sometime, to take transit in to see more of the town. It’s foggy and down to 16C now. Cath was able to get our laundry done here.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Forillon to Campbellton NB via Gaspe

Happy 45th anniversary to us! Sunny and 16C at 8:15 am.

Today we carried on around the Gaspe, to the town of Perce and the famous rock. The town was a real disappointment today, with the main street ripped up, lots of construction, and no views of the rock. It wasn’t until we got through the town that there was a lookout spot to see the actual rock:

There are several cgs in Perce, and of course boat tours out around the rock. At 9:30 am it was too early to camp, and we decided to not do a tour since the town was quite difficult to navigate. Very disappointing!

So we carried on, picking up some groceries in a nice IGA in Grande Riviere. It was up to 19C by 11:30 am. Again a nice drive, all along the Quebec side of the Baie De Chaleurs. It’s a pretty large body of water when it’s right beside you.

We went right on into Campbellton NB and camped at Sugarloaf Prov Park for the night. Sunny and 22C at 4:30 pm, a gorgeous day.
Sugarloaf is a recreation area right on the edge of Campbellton, and the facilities include a nice restaurant, so we had an anniversary dinner there: a mussel appetizer, then we both had the special, beef kabobs on rice.

We were able to get free wifi at the park signin building, so caught up on emails. Yep, we sure do know how to have a good time! lol

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Hiking in Forillon

Gord’s 67 today, so we had a special peameal and egg breakfast outside. Sunny and 11C at 6:30 am.
Tough when you have to cook your own special breakfast!

We took a 8 km hike along the southern coast of the park, leading to a lighthouse at the point. We were both pretty tired when we got back, but really enjoyed it. Lots of hills but we made it.

Our rewards along the way included:
Steeper than it looks!

Lots of ripe Sumac berries

Lots of views along the way

A gorgeous view from the lighthouse at the end

A golden eagle soaring around the lighthouse

- A small black bear back at the parking lot. You’ll have to trust us that that black lump behind the bench is a bear!

Back at the cg, Al phoned and said he wanted to pick up the trailer Sept 27 instead of next spring (this is our HiLo trailer that Al bought). Yippee, Happy Birthday Gord!

After a good break (and showers) we drove out to another part of the park. We didn’t hike the whole trail at Penouille out to the point, but it included an amazing new boardwalk. It looked like some kind of touring vehicle could drive on it, very heavy-duty stuff:

Apparently there is an old salt mine at the end of the trail. 

It was another pretty coastal walk, with lots of various kinds of gulls and a heron sighting. 
Yes, I know that black thing isn't a heron

After 45 minutes or so we had enough hiking though, and called it a day. 

There are large numbers of Mountain Ash trees in this area, all laden with red berries. We’ve seen many chickadees and cedar waxwings feeding on the berries. There will be some plump birds around here!