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."


  1. Enjoyed your post, Canada --in order to go to Alaska-- is on our bucket list. One friend found her rig was searched simply because it was tagged from Oklahoma and the border crossing agent decided that since she was from OK she MUST have a gun hidden somewhere. Her one lone offense. She had a single fresh peach. That she had to cook before they could cross, but they let the pit cross in her trash can.

  2. Really enjoyed your posts on the Maritimes. In a former life I was married to a guy from Halifax. Went up there quite a bit. Loved getting Poutine, and Donairs, and seeing the country. Safe travels to your next destinations. We leave Custer a week from Monday. Getting that hitch itch!

  3. Enjoy your few days of recharging time. (those lobster rolls are making me hungry!)

  4. When we crossed back into the USA last summer from New Brunswick, The young agent searched the coach and confiscated a tomato. He was so happy I felt a little sad for him.

  5. When we went IN to Canada, we had a US customs guy with a very big gun stop us on the US side demanding to know how much money we had. Jim had about $100 USD and I had fifty cents. He was really hostile. Going back into Canada after picking up mail in the US, they got high centered about the leveling boards, but ultimately allowed us to keep them. Having said all of that, I really miss lobster rolls. While in Maine we ate a lot of them, and they are so much easier than dissecting the entire critter.

    1. I don't understand "high centered" nor "leveling boards". Please explain.

    2. The Canadian border guy was very agitated when he saw pressure treated lumber in the bed of our pickup, or "high centered", slang for being overly excited about a non-event. We had a 5th wheel at the time, and used pressure treated lumber for leveling the RV. This was before 5th wheels could level themselves, back then it was all manual. He was going to confiscate it, which would have made future leveling very difficult for us. However, he called someone who told him it was fine and to let it come across the border.

  6. Nothing quite like the fresh seafood on the east coast.
    We have crossed the border many times over the years and have never really had any issues. the big thing is fruit and veggies with seeds, and sometimes certain meat products, eggs etc. and of course no firearms. Glad all went well, now rest up and carry on with your adventures.

  7. When we were Snowbirding in 2013 we had been using up the food stocks in the apartment. On the day of our departure we simply moved everything from the refrigerator to the fridge in the trailer. At the US immigrations there was the typical long line so other officers were dispatched to inspect RVs before we got to the booth. The young agent didn't ask for any declarations but came back screaming at us because there was a half a green pepper that still had the "Product of the U.S.A." sticker in our fridge. He threatened us with a fine and being banded from the US. Now that we are Fulltiming we make certain there's no meat, fruits or vegetables. Not a nice encounter.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

  8. Replies
    1. the border patrol agent seemed like a nice gal. Perhaps she gave it a new home.

  9. On our Alaska adventure we've been through Customs a number of times. No issues yet, we always make sure we have a list of the alcohol on board going into Canada. Now just one more crossing to get back in the US somewhere in the next month.

  10. The strong law of large number mandates that most days are likely to be ordinary, no matter what you're doing. Few are terrific; few are just terrible; most are in the middle. :)


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