Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Not All RVing Days are an Adventure, and crossing Canadian Border

When you are living and traveling in an RV full time, not all days are remarkable. In fact, many are really quite ordinary. The big difference is that instead of living in a house, in a community where you know your neighbors and local facilities, you are living in a smaller space and often looking for the local businesses you need day to day. We are in that kind of period right now. We are spending eight days just living, before starting another round of adventure and discovery.

I guess you could call it a vacation from being on vacation!

We have many good memories of our time in the Canadian Maritime Provinces this summer. There are two things I want to make note of for anyone who might be planning on going there in the future.

First is telephone and internet access. In the States we have an excellent, unlimited data plan from Verizon. It is expensive, but we have pretty good connections wherever we go. We do not use campground WiFi. Because Verizon has no towers in Canada, Craig looked into getting a plan from Rogers, one of the Canadian companies, but discovered the cost of pay-in-advance plans was prohibitive, and because we did not have a Canadian address we could not get a regular plan. He settled on an Canada and Mexico Add-on  to our Verizon plan that gave us 200 calls and 1 gigabyte per month and cost $25+tax. We were able to have a working phone and limited use of Google Maps and Google Search. Wifi at most parks was minimal at best. But there are always Tim Horton Coffee shops and other open-WiFi locations!

The second is crossing the boarder. 

I mentioned this in a Facebook post, but since it might be of interest to those who have never crossed into Canada, I am writing about it in a blog post as well.

Some crossing points are busy, some are not. That is something that you should be prepared for so that if you are stuck in a long wait line you don't get frustrated. 

We have crossed a total of six times, and all went smoothly except for the last. Typically we pulled up to the window, showed passports and driver's licenses, answered a few questions, and we were on our way. I had read the web pages about what is prohibited so we knew what not to have in the coach, including firewood, guns,  plants, fresh fruit, or more than four bottles of liquor. The information about groceries is a little confusing, so my approach has been to limit shopping before a crossing.

Last week we crossed back into the USA at Madawaska. We had no wait, with only one car ahead when we pulled up to the customs booth, but after answering the usual questions we were asked to pull over to the side and go inside the office.

The Alfa was searched by an agent, and after about fifteen minutes she came in carrying a single orange bell pepper from our refrigerator.

The interesting thing was I got to keep a head of lettuce, an onion and some limp celery and scallions. 

We were asked about meat, but they did not confiscate the one-pound package of frozen hamburger nor the frozen scallops and cod filets. 

So after signing a "declaration of abandonment" for the pepper, we were free to continue into the USA. I wonder if we were searched because we had gone into and out of Canada at different places twice in a few month period. Who knows? 

We spent several quiet days at three Maine campgrounds, just relaxing. We went on a couple of nice walks, spent a rainy day planning future routes, and when in Bangor went to an afternoon  movie.

I sometimes kid Craig that our travels are really "all about the food"! We have had some spectacular fresh seafood this month, both at restaurants and at home, after buying the catch of the day at local fish markets. We also had some interesting local grub, Donairs and Poutine. 

My favorite, of course is the lobster. I am particularly fond of lobster rolls because they are so much easier than tackling a full steamed lobster in its shell! 

A lobster roll is a generous amount of cooked fresh lobster, sometimes with drawn butter, sometimes with a little mayo and celery, stuffed into a soft bun.

Happy driver munching on lobster roll as we left Maine!
On our last day in Rockport, Maine we stopped at a fish market and bought a nice piece of salmon for the grill, and a half pound of cooked lobster meat. At $44 per pound, it was worth not having to steam and shell the live ones ourselves! I had looked up recipes for lobster rolls to see if there was any special ingredients I didn't know about, but there were not. So I made up four rolls in the morning for our "driving lunch" on Monday.

Evening at high tide on the waterway across from our campsite at Cape Ann, in Gloucester MA
I hope I can get back to posting more regularly again. We have a full month of adventures planned! I hope you will "ride along."

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Back in the USA

We hopped along the Southern Shore and Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia, staying a few days at each of four parks. All of them had very poor or almost nonexistent WiFi connections. I am so far behind in posting, that I have decided to defer writing about this part of our travels until sometime in the future when I have more time. Perhaps I will do a "back in time" post or two when we are wintering at Jojoba Hills.

For now, Craig wanted to post the following: 

[From Craig] Our last stop in Nova Scotia was at the Five Islands Ocean Resort. The main things of interest there are the five islands close to the north shore of the Minas Basin, a branch of the Bay of Fundy, and the tides which are the biggest in the world.  (Why do I remember learning that the biggest tides were in Scotland as a child?)

So I spent two days taking pictures of the islands and the tides.  Here are two panoramas put together with Photoshop, each spanning about 180 degrees, a half-circle.

The lower image (of low tide) needs a bit of explanation.  The Minas Basin is still visible as the little blue horizontal strip in the middle of the picture.  The white areas that are closer, have no depth but are reflective water films on top of the muddy ocean floor.  I tried to walk to Moose Island, the big one in the center.  But the mud kept trying to take my shoes off, so I turned back about 2% of the way there.

Longtime readers may remember that we visited Key West in December 2014.  At the time, I took this picture of Merikay at the south end of US Highway 1.  

Somehow it didn't make it into the blog at the time, but I've remembered it as part of a fun memory.

Today (Sunday August 21 2016) we re-entered the US after six weeks in Canada's maritime provinces: New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia.  

Since we were in northern Maine, I persuaded Merikay to take a short detour to the north end of US Highway 1 in Fort Kent, Maine.  We found that there was no corresponding sign marking the end (or start) of US 1, but the Fort Kent police dispatcher suggested this sign as the best one available.

So now we have visited both ends of our country's "first highway".

Do you like adventures like this?

Friday, August 5, 2016

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Up until now, in the Maritime Provinces, I have not had problems getting a space in an RV park, for as long as we wanted, by calling only a day or two ahead. Up until now. We had heard several recommendations for a stop in the little coastal town of Lunenburg which is not far from Halifax. So, while visiting the Halifax area I called ahead. We wanted four nights, but were lucky to get two. It seems there was going to be a big Folk Music Festival starting on the next weekend.

Please use the right lane
In Lunenburg we visited the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic.  As we entered there was a "Meet a Lobster" program.  We learned how to tell a boy lobster from a girl lobster, and several other interesting things about these tasty crustaceans.

Cod fishing built the wealth of the area and the equipment and history of the industry was well displayed.

There are two ships that belong to the Museum on display in the harbour. One was a fishing boat that we were able to board and explore.

The other was a replica of the Bluenose II, a fishing schooner that has quite a history and has been on the Canadian dime.

It is a beautiful ship, and takes passengers out for a sail.

Our friends, Jan and Jim, had also given us a heads up about a community produced musical production called "Glimpses" that had shows, in the Fisheries Museum 100 seat theatre, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. 

It has been running for nine seasons, and was a true delight. It tells the story of Lunenburg in song and dance.  All the music is original, well-paced and delightful. I'm so glad we didn't miss it!

On Wednesday we went on a guided walking tour. We got there a bit early, and so explored the old cemetery adjacent to the meeting place.

We didn't do a complete search, but this was the oldest, almost readable, stone we could find: 1770 - 1779.

The tour started at the Academy. It was once the public school building. Our guide, who appeared to be in her late 40's, said that she had gone to school there as a child. It is now under restoration.  

Our tour took us down through the historic district and we learned much about the archeticture styles and the people who lived in the town of Lunenburg over the centuries.

Our guide was 8th-generation on her mother's side. At one point we crossed paths with a rather feisty old lady. Our guide knew her and greeted her with the question of did she remember our guide's mother? They had gone to school together. "Of course, of course, but did our guide know about the house across the way"? 

She told the group she wanted to make sure these young people were getting the stories right!

Lots of pride in the town!

On our walk we went into two beautiful churches in town, and walked by a couple of others. As with many communities, their history is told in reference to the churches.

All in all our brief visit to this wonderful little town was very pleasant. I wish we could have stayed longer. 

I end this post with a picture of one of the shoreline views. The tide is low and patches of seaweed are exposed. This area is called the Blue Rocks. The rocks are in fact more gray than blue and are slate.

We have moved down along the coast about 80 miles, near Lockport. We will be here five nights and I'm looking forward to some nice walks along some of the coastal overlooks.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Meeting New Friends on the Road

As we were getting settled at Wayside Campground outside of Halifax on Friday, we noticed the coach next to us had a US sticker map that was more full than ours, and also had South Dakota license plates.  Aha!  They must be full-timers.

On Saturday we watched, and when they got back from their day's adventure, I went out to say "hi" while the husband, Jim, was setting up their grill. 

Jan and Jim
A conversation quickly took hold, and soon Craig was out and Jim's wife, Jan, joined in.

Realizing they still had not cooked their dinner, I asked if they would like to join us for a campfire later. 

Although we don't have campfires very often, the evening was quite nice and company is always good.

They have been on the road just a little longer than we have and enjoy the life much the same. We shared stories and things we have learned along the way. They went to Alaska last year, and since that is on our wish list, their experiences were very interesting to us. 

Darkness settled over us, and as the last log was added to the fire I was startled to see a very large meteor flash across the sky. The evening ended with smiles and "see you tomorrows." We each had our own plans for the day.

The next day, Jan brought over one of their contact cards and told me there was a free outdoor Cèilidh, a musical gathering, that evening in a nearby town that they were going to. 

Yes! Sounded like fun, so we decided to follow them there so we could all sit together. We had tried to attend a one a week before, but it was an indoor event and was sold out.

Apparently, a Cèilidh can be many things. Traditionally they are held in a church or town hall and include folk music and story telling. In modern times they have also come to include an event like we went to. It was an annual, local celebration of "Natal Day", Halifax's birthday! It involved several bands playing a variety of popular music, plus fireworks and a fund raising BBQ.

Quite a crowd gathered on a hillside overlooking a cove and marina. Jim and Jan said that the flyer they saw had suggested bringing lawn chairs, so we did.

The bands started playing around six in the evening. The air was warm, the scene was beautiful. As more and more boats came in the sky began to color.

All sunsets are beautiful.

As time passed, the colors became more and more intense. The vibrance of the image above has not been adjusted!

What a fantastic setting! 

You may notice the keyboard player is glowing red. He was in the direct line of a red stage light, and indeed appeared that color!

Once darkness descended, the music ended and there was a nice fireworks display. The entire evening was one of those little treasures we have been lucky enough to come across. 

I am writing this on Monday afternoon. Our new friends have left, and the spot next to us is empty. They are heading up to Baddock where we were last week. Tomorrow we will be going to Lunenburg, where they had just been. 

We will keep in touch on Facebook.  I love modern technology! Who knows if or when we will cross paths again, but it is really nice to meet new friends, and know they are out on the road as well.

Happy Trails Jan and Jim!