Saturday, September 10, 2022

Back home in Bayfield, via the US


New River Beach NB

We arrived home to Bayfield on Thursday afternoon after a pleasant trip home from New River Beach. 

After our tough trip east via Quebec, we had decided to come home via the Northeast US, as we often did in earlier years. It took 3 more days after leaving New River Beach, 4 days in all from PEI, but mostly a pleasant drive. We would have had more pictures if my phone hadn't acted up and I had to restore it to the original image, losing the pictures I had. Unlike the problems we had with Cathie's phone on our Yukon trip, these are definitely not retrievable this time. 

The first day we crossed into the US via the St Stephen New Brunswick crossing. It was our first crossing into the US for several years, and we were a bit nervous. All went well though, the crossing wasn't busy at our 8 am arrival. The usual questions, but not a 3rd-degree like we've sometimes had in the past, maybe partly because we were only going to be in the US for a couple of days.

We have been across this basic route many times over the years, and it felt really good to be back in the US after the recent hiatus. We basically cruised across from the border to Bangor Maine via Hwy 9, then followed Hwy 2 on into New Hampshire. Not much leaf colour yet, but a nice twisty drive in places.

Next day we carried on into hilly Vermont. As we approached Lake Champlain we drove across a favorite RV-test road, hwy 17 in Vermont. This is a significant hill from either east or west, a long climb up and a long downhill on the other side, with some good curves thrown in. Some RV units we've had over the years found this hill challenging, and we found that if a rig had no problems with this hill, it could handle any hill we'd encounter on our travels. As expected, the van had no problems at all.

The road has a few curves

This GPS view above was from the peak, starting to head down the western side.

Trees are starting to change colour

Down, down down...

We drove through to Canada this day, crossing at the Thousand Islands bridge (Ivy Lea on the Canadian side). We had filled out the ArriveCan app this morning and gave a 5pm crossing estimate. We made that almost to the minute. 

We were quite disappointed that the border agent didn't seem to even look at it, after all the to-do about ArriveCan. She just took our passports and asked the usual questions. 

Once across the border we headed for nearby Ivy Lea Provincial Park campground. It was only about 5:10 in the afternoon, so we were surprised to find the office closed (in spite of signs claiming to be open until 6pm every day)! Tough to get good help these days I guess. There were campers there, and at least one other potential camper turned away while we were there. No helpful information posted at all.

Not bothering to even investigate the nearby KOA campground (they have priced themselves out of our range) it was on to plan B. Kingston has a friendly Walmart Supercentre, and we even got a takeout pizza nearby. 

Thursday we had intended to take the 401 west for a bit before heading up to hwy 7, maybe even all the way home. At 7am the access around the 401 was so chaotic with traffic, lots of big trucks and delays just getting close to the 401, we just headed north from Kingston along back roads to Hwy 7, and home from there via Orillia, a route that is becoming our normal Toronto bypass. Somewhat longer, quite a bit slower, and a much nicer way to end another lovely trip to Atlantic Canada.

Monday, September 5, 2022

A couple more days on PEI

Remember the above picture from a previous post? It looks like the population of the city of Chartlottetown could all be loaded on the ship (they wouldn't all fit though). Above the front part of the ship you can see a brown brick-and-glass hotel building. Here is that building from the land, just for some perspective:

A few days later these two cruise ships were docked together. Notice how relatively small the rearward white ship (Seaborne Quest) looks:

Now a closer look at the Seaborn Quest by itself:

Looks bigger now eh!

The dock in front is where the larger ship was docked

When no cruise ships docked, the docks don't look so impressive

Saturday evening we had a short sail around the Charlottetown harbour courtesy of Pat's brother Kurt. Kurt offers short sailing tours in the summer, usually 2-3 hours, with his Saga Sailing business. We usually enjoy a family sail with him when we are on PEI.

Nancy and Cathie

Kurt often lets me steer the boat, with supervision of course

It was a lovely evening for a sail

Government House, where the Lieutenant-Governor stays when in residence

Here's a closer view of Government House at Christmas

A little plug for Kurt's tour business 

On Sunday we toured the downtown market. A block or two of a main street is closed, and vendors with (mostly) PEI products set up to offer them for sale:

Lots of people, but didn't feel crowded

One of the vendors

A nice spot for a break after all that shopping

Across the way is Stratford, where Pat and Nancy live. A lot of our cruise ship pictures are taken from over there, towards the righthand end of this picture:

Later in the day we had a special dinner. It was special in several ways, but one way was in honor of my 75th birthday:
Pat and Kurt cooked the main course

Kurt preparing the lobsters to be opened

And here they are

Before you ask - no, I didn't eat them all. A wonderful way to end another great downeast day. Big thanks to Nancy, Pat and Kurt for all their work, and to Heather for her contribution.

We had decided to head out on Monday instead of the planned Tuesday, since we're going to go home via the US. Different traffic patterns led us to leaving Monday morning, ending up at New River Beach park along the New Brunswick Fundy coast.

The beach is down there somewhere
The beach at fairly low tide. See the dark high tide level on the rocks?

The beach was likely busier this weekend, with the holiday. Not now though.

Looks as busy as a lot of PEI beaches

The tide comes up a long ways on the sand

We were camped early, about 1:30 pm. Soon we heard music playing, and it sounded more like live music than somebody's hifi system. Sure enough, the Wild Card were playing, down near the beach. They played for over 3 hours, with a break, very enthusiastic and pretty good. Likely in our honour, since it's our 53rd anniversary today.

Tomorrow we'll be heading into the US, and will have little WiFi data, so this will be the last post until we get home.

Today's route:

Saturday, September 3, 2022

Getting to PEI, and a week on the Island

Sunset at Stanhope Beach PEI

Leaving Kouchibouguac (pronounced Kooshboogwak) Park on a Sunday morning we made our way south and east to Prince Edward Island. Along the way we hugged the shoreline as best we could down the eastern shore of New Brunswick, as the road followed along some of Northumberland Strait.

One of the highlights along that route is the Irving Eco-Centre, near Bouchtouche NB (pronounced Buktoosh. It's a very French-Canadian area). We first visited here a number of years ago, when the boardwalk was about 2 km long (about 1 1/4 miles). 

Since then, several storms have damaged or destroyed sections of the boardwalk. Currently it is down to 800 meters long (about 1/2 mile), which is the original length. No admission fee, as it's funded by Irving Oil. If you'd like to see more info or history of the dunes, just do a Google search for Irving Eco-Centre.

Nice wide boardwalk

The boardwalk runs out on the sand dune

That interesting-looking building is a private residence on the nearby mainland

Nice spot to paddle-board, between the dunes and the mainland

No pictures for the rest of the day's drive, but it's a very pretty drive along there, and not busy along the back roads until you reach Shediac.

Sunday's drive:

When we arrived in Stratford, we parked in Nancy and Pat's driveway as usual. They have a covered front porch where the nicest people visit. The site also offers water and electric hookups, and WiFi. Pretty nice!

A large cruise ship was docked across the bay at Charlottetown. The Norwegian Pearl was the largest ship to visit PEI since the cruise ship restrictions were lifted earlier this year. An acquaintance of Pat's took and posted an aerial photograph, so you can clearly see how this ship dwarfs downtown Charlottetown, even the seemingly large hotels:

Some stats for the Norwegian Pearl: 

- 965 ft long x 106 wide. Draft is about 27 feet.

- it can carry up to 2,399 passengers and 1,099 crew

As usual Nancy and Pat have some flowers displaying:

Wildflowers (planted) liven up their front drainage ditch

Nancy and Cathie continue their ongoing Cribbage tournament (1-1 this time)

On Tuesday we moved to a campsite in Stanhope campground, one of the campgrounds in the PEI North Shore National Park. It's a short drive, as shown on the map. Much less driving this time than our recent Yukon trip! Of course, we rarely take the straight route:

Before we settled in to our site on Tuesday, we visited The Dunes Studio. They sell some really ni$e items in the Studio that we only browse, but they also maintain a large garden out back, well worth a browse too. The gardens have always been worth visiting, have recently been expanded, and are free to tour:

In the left rear is the main (and he claims to be the only) gardener

Our uphill campsite for the first 2 nights at Stanhope (we moved to a different site for the next 2 nights):

Stanhope is a very nice campground, with a number of not-so-level sites (but we got camped by reserving a site the day before we arrived there, so not complaining). The main attraction is the nearby sand beach, where the weather mood is always changing.

Not the main beach, but a pond trapped in the dunes is popular with waterfowl

A silly panorama shot, I never get these right

Fewer people on the beach when the waves look like this

We actually got in the water here the day before. Not today though. 

Thursday morning we were just about to set out for a drive in the area when Pat and Tim (Tim is the youngest of Pat and Nancy's 3 sons, the 6ft 5 inch baby) dropped by on their bicycles to see if we would like to join them for lunch (Pat wasn't treating though, darn it). 

We tried for lunch at the Dalvay By The Sea restaurant, but they stopped doing lunches once Sept 1 arrived. So we moved on to the FiN Folk Food restaurant near Tracadie harbour. The restaurant is part of a new development called "Blackbush at Old Tracadie Harbour", where they are also developing residences and rental units. Good reviews for the seafood at the FiN, which we seconded.

Views from the upper floor at the restaurant

Watch out for that last step!

Here's a little map showing the places I've mentioned:

On Wednesday we had visited the Cows ice-cream parlour in Cavendish to sample a couple of their cones. Excellent ice cream, and they make their own waffle cones on site. The waffle cones were much sturdier than some we've had, a delicious package.

Friday we had some free time (hey it's all free time right) and we ended up visiting Holman's parlour in Summerside, where they also make their own waffle cones, and serve ADL ice cream, a locally-made product. Also excellent and slightly cheaper than Cows. Although Holman's waffle cones were not as robust as the Cows version, they were very tasty and did the job.  

Yummy Holman's cones (Small size, really!) 

Today Saturday we've relocated back to Nancy and Pat's driveway for a couple of days, before we start heading towards home. On our way to their place we noticed (hard not to notice) not one but two large cruise ships docked in Charlottetown.

The larger of the two is the MS Nieuw Statendam, one of Holland America's cruise liners. It now has the "biggest cruise ship this year for PEI" title, being some 18 feet longer than the Norwegian Pearl mentioned earlier in this post. It's about 983 ft long and can carry up to 2,666 passengers and 1,053 crew.

The ships were docked the same place the Norwegian Pearl was, the newly-enlarged docks now capable of handling 2 large liners at the same time: