The question goes: “If you were stranded on a desert island, what would you want to have with you?” It presupposes that you have washed up on the shore, with the opportunity to grab only one or two valuables while you wait to be rescued.
Well, as Betty has noted, we are stranded in Massachusetts until a new fuel pump can be installed in our Smart car. We were at the JFK Memorial, next to the Hyannis Yacht Club, and around the bend from the famous Kennedy Compound at Hyannis Port, when our car failed to start. If we had paid over $100. for shipping, we could have had the pump overnighted to Warren Auto Repair in Fall River, where we ended up. The alternative was to wait 2 – 3 days for a regular delivery. Well, the 3 days have now passed, the pump hasn’t arrived, and we will be lucky if we are on the road again by next Tuesday. In the meantime, we are stranded.
Fortunately for us, we washed up on the shore at Horseneck Beach State Reservation in our motorhome. So here we sit, peering out over the Atlantic Ocean, with only our living room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and all of our clothing, dishes, and food around us. While we had some rain yesterday, today (Saturday) is currently 78f/25c, with a clear blue sunny sky. We have a reservation for a campsite on Cape Hatteras National Seashore next Thursday, but otherwise are not yet in a hurry to be rescued. LOL
So when it comes to answering the initial question: Yes, it’s great to have the motorhome and its contents here, but it’s far more valuable to be stranded with the love of my life – my dear wife – wherever our travels take us!
The title of this post is written in a series of ones and zeros, which I believe is appropriate for a digital form of communication. LOL. For those of us who don’t speak digital, the “100” identifies this as the 100th post to this blog! WOW, Betty & I had no idea that we could, or would, do this! The “11” reflects that we have now been blogging (or whatever this is called…) for the past 11 months. The “10” represents the top 10 pictures taken with my new Nikon digital camera on our overlandish odyssey; and the “01” is my personal favourite post to date.
The history and intent for this blog are reflected in the March 28/18 post: “By The Time I Get To Phoenix”, so I won’t repeat all that now. It has turned out to be a fun form of communication – from the perspective of the writer. Since we didn’t set it up as an interactive medium, we don’t really know how, or even if, it is received – with the exception of a few brief notes of appreciation from family and friends. Maybe it’s possible to track the number of visits to our site (I think those who blog for a living do that.) but we have no idea whether we have an audience of one or one hundred. (That’s 01 or 100 in digital code. LOL)
Betty & I are regularly meeting locals and fellow travellers on our adventures. Depending on how those interactions go, we sometimes pass on a “business card” printed at Staples, showing our web site, along with our e-mail addresses. Maybe they get tossed. Maybe they get filed. Maybe they get forgotten. Or maybe some folks vicariously follow along on our journey. Whatever – as mentioned, from a writer’s perspective, this has turned out to be an easy and fun exercise, so I guess we may continue as long as our odyssey progresses – God willing & the creek don’t rise, as they say!
From the literally thousands of pictures taken so far (I’m glad they are digital and didn’t need to be mailed in for processing, like back in the day. We would have been long broke before our trip was over, if we had to pay for that! LOL), I thought we could somewhat arbitrarily choose a top ten for this post. I say this tentatively as I have not yet taken any photography classes, and
there are still lots of buttons on my Nikon that I have never used, and don’t know what they’re for. The pictures simply appeal to us on a visceral level, evoking special memories from our journey to date.
In all cases, the pictures are chosen for their artistic content (however amateurish it might be), rather than as an accurate representation of a geographic location. Maybe not surprisingly, sunsets were captured in many of the pictures making the shortlist, and we were tempted to just make it the top 10 sunsets of our trip. LOL.
Because the task of reducing down to only 10 was almost impossible, we include at the end of this post about 22 honourable mentions, hoping that doesn’t cause your data to go over limit. LOL.
Finally, the one favourite post: As suggested, writing this has been a fairly effortless free flow of fluffy thoughts, just as they float through and out of my furry brain. My earliest posts reflect the angst of selling our home and getting rid of our possessions. Maybe it was the therapeutic writing process that got me going, and led us to this 100th post. In any event, decluttering involved disposing of items that had remained in our home following the passing of our parents.
One of the items that could neither be passed on to our kids and grandkids, nor donated to charity, was a stack of my father’s handkerchiefs. The Dec. 7/17 post: “A Hankering For Hankies?” is a very short reflection on my dear dad. It only tangentially refers to our imminent travels, but for me still rates as number 1 in this little digital memory box.
Best wishes to any and all who read all the ones and zeros that form these simple words, and see these pictures that don’t do justice to the magnificence of the lands we are seeing, and the wonderful people – both new and renewed acquaintances, Betty & I are meeting on the road.
The title of this 99th blog post was intended to be “Charming Cape Cod”, as we reflected images of “Cape Cod style” homes, as seen on our overlandish odyssey. (It turns out that all homes on this special spit of Massachusetts land, jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean, are Cape Cod homes! LOL.) From our large secluded campsite at
Nickerson State Park, Betty & I had ventured up and down the cape, from Race Point Beach at the outer tip of the Cape Cod National Seashore, to Sandwich and Bourne, where the cape joins the mainland. Some of the pictures connected to this post tell that story, but then the story took a significant turn, calling for a change of title…
In Betty’s words: “Sunday we went to a lovely Cape Cod church where the pastor spoke on Philippians 4. Three points: God is good, be content in your life, and be thankful.
Monday as we stopped at the JFK memorial the smart car died. We called AAA and waited in the beautiful parking lot looking at the ocean. The lovely Seth came and loaded the car onto a flat bed and drove us all back to the campground (Charlie riding high in the back of the car). We decided to tow the car with the rv back to the mainland where we could find a dealership that could deal with our wee car.
Tuesday we are driving through some pounding rain on an Interstate when bang! The driver windshield wiper falls off and starts flapping against the rv. Fortunately there is an exit right there and a Walmart at the exit. Unfortunately there is no service centre. As we are leaving Graham sees a tiny garage out of the corner of his eye so we pull up. BTW it is still pouring. The fellow agrees to have a look and says it needs to be welded not just a lost bolt. BUT the rv has to go through the small gate and up to the garage door. Yikes! So we drop off the smart car in Walmart, drive the rv back and somehow get it up to the garage. Yeah all fixed. They ask if there is anything else and Graham says well we were supposed to have an oil change 4000 miles ago. No problem we will do it for you now. Now he has made friends with all the Lebanese guys in the garage so he tells them the story of the car and they say bring it over we will check it for you.
To make a long story short, if you can believe this is the short version, they look at the car & determine it needs a new fuel pump and feel really bad because it is expensive but we have no choice. So we are here in Fall River for another couple of days The best part is we cannot stay in the Walmart because Massachusetts has some crazy laws but there is a state reservation
on the ocean. (like a state park) we are literally camped beside the ocean with big beautiful waves rolling in. We would never have found this park had we not broken down and we would never have met these amazing Lebanese men had the wiper not broken. God is good, we are content in this crazy set of circumstances and we are thankful.”
A small update: Bobby, the kind owner of Warren Auto Repair in Fall River, Mass. just called, with a choice to either have the fuel pump overnighted from the manufacturer to his garage for over $100., or to stay at Horseneck Beach State Reservation for a few more days, until they receive and install the pump. Betty & I have decided to stay at this beautiful Atlantic beachfront property (if we can confirm a campsite), and will keep you posted on the resolution of our current oh, oh.
In a ‘bricks & sticks’ home, repairs and maintenance are a fact of life. Back in the day, every small community had a hardware store where you could pick up what you needed, along with good advice on how to use it. Now Home Depot, Lowes, and other national or international chains provide the day to day supplies necessary to maintain a livable home. Since that type of home is in a fixed location, one can learn which companies do good roofing, plumbing, or lawn maintenance, for instance, in your neigbourhood.
But when you’re on the road like us, how do you know where to turn? It’s said that driving an RV is like putting your home through a 60 mph hurricane, tornado or earthquake every day! There are always small or large parts that need repair or replacement, and it’s nice to have the peace of mind that where you take your motorhome for parts and service will do a good job at a reasonable price.
Now I am not a negative Nellie (with apologies to all the great Nellies out there. LOL), and the tone that I’ve attempted to set for this blog is positive and encouraging, but the bloom has fallen so far off the rose with Camping World that I feel it bears comment.
For the past 10 years, the Camping World (CW) chain has been our “go to” outlet in the U.S. for motorhome parts and service. On all of our travels we have literally gone out of our way to shop there, noting locations that may be near our intended route, and rerouting to include a chance to stop and shop at a CW. As with any national chain or franchise, one develops an expectation for the shopping experience with that brand. Unlike smaller independent RV sales, parts, and service stores where – even if they have a flashy web site – it is difficult to predict the availability of good parts and service, we have expected a consistent, high standard at CW.
Unfortunately, we have had enough bad experiences with CW that we are questioning whether or not we should now find an alternative. While some CW stores have provided exceptionally good service, the number of stores where staff are unhelpful, and appear uncaring is now in the majority. Recounting the issues with CW would grow this post into a small book, so I will resist the urge to itemize all the small and large problems that we have encountered over the years.
The impetus for this post came from our experience since crossing back into the U.S. this month. The first CW we visited had no RV customer parking (we parked in an unmarked, undeveloped vacant lot beside the store) and didn’t have the basic plumbing parts we needed, referring us to an independent RV center up the road that had a large accessible parking lot, friendly staff, and the parts we needed. The second CW store, visited yesterday, also had no RV customer parking (a strange thing for a chain focused on serving RV customers!), but we didn’t realize that until we had pulled in. Every spot was taken by RVs for sale, so I had to disconnect our car, and back the motorhome out. The store looked busy, with service staff on the phone, on computers, or talking to each other, but no one apparently had time to serve customers. When I finally got someone’s attention, I was told that even the smallest service item couldn’t be addressed until the end of next month! They either didn’t carry the parts I was looking for, or the parts were not in stock. Finally, a helpful CW staff member printed off the name, address, and directions to an independent service center that might be able to help us. WOW.
Ok, now the good news! Yesterday we visited Major’s RV Service Center in Bourne, Massachusetts, and were blown away by the friendly staff and great service! The stark difference from CW was day and night. From the time we pulled up until we left, all staff we met were attentive, knowledgeable, efficient and effective in their provided assistance. Even though we were dropping in without an appointment (able to park in a huge lot with dedicated RV spots), staff took the time to listen to our issues, and had the necessary parts to complete the required service in a timely manner. David, Chris, and all the staff went out of their way to be helpful (one staff member offered to order in pizza or subs when I mentioned we hadn’t had lunch yet!) and got us back on the road to our current campsite, Nickerson State Park on Cape Cod, in short order.
On our overlandish odyssey to 48 states and 10 provinces, Betty & I know we will need regular repairs, maintenance, and upgrades to keep our motorhome rolling down the road. We have a trustworthy and reliable service centre back home at Stylings RV in Lockport, Manitoba. As previously noted, we got great service at Heidi’s RV in Hawkstone, Ontario, Sierra RV in Port Isabel, Texas, Quality RV repairs in Irishtown, New Brunswick, and Bluewater RV in Bridgeport, Nova Scotia. And now, if we are ever in Massachusetts again, we have Major’s RV in Bourne!
My hope and wish is that we can find (or develop) a network of trustworthy and reliable RV service centres across the continent that can provide an alternative to what we have come to expect from Camping World. Whether it is a competitive national brand (like Home Depot for ‘bricks & sticks’ homes) or a series of small independents (like the local community hardware stores back in the day) my dream is that full-timers like us, or weekend warriors, can have the peace of mind that their home on wheels will keep on rolling down the road.
Ok, technically fall doesn’t start until tomorrow. But after a long hot summer, where the heat wave seemed to continuously roll over us wherever we went, Betty & I are enjoying what we have been aiming for on our overlandish odyssey – daytime temperatures around 21c/71f. We are neither bundling up to stay warm, or drenched in sweat and exhausted from the heat. Not that we were complaining about the heat. During many beach breaks this summer, I checked pictures on my phone of prior winter snow drifts back home that needed to be cleared from sidewalks or driveways in order to maintain mobility. Just seeing all that snow was enough to keep me cool. LOL.
Temperatures at night are now dropping, and we are starting to see the reds, oranges, and yellows appearing among the greens of the robust New England trees. It’s not full-blown autumn colours yet, but it’s definitely headed in that direction! For us, it means that we can leave the air conditioners off at night, and sleep in our cozy bed with the windows open – a cool breeze wafting through the nearby foliage.
New England is an historic, picturesque and geographically small area of north eastern America. It is well worth the visit, as we add states number 12 (Maine), 13 (New Hampshire), 14 (Vermont), 15 (Massachusetts), 16 (Connecticut) and 17 (Rhode Island) to our list of those visited on this adventure.
After leaving Camden Hills State Park, it was our intent to camp at Sebago Lake State Park, near Naples, Maine and the New Hampshire border. That was another of the parks we used to visit so many decades ago. But on arrival, the park ranger informed us that dogs are not allowed in the park (such a surprise to reject our Charlie without first meeting him! LOL), so we enjoyed a pleasant night at nearby Loon’s Haven Park instead. And yes, there were loons on the lake, reminding Betty of her friend Laurie’s remarkable loon calls back in Manitoba. LOL.
While we spent much of the next few days in New Hampshire, our actual campsite was across another state border, among the tall trees of Vermont’s Quechee State Park.
From Quechee we travelled south, through Massachusetts, to West Hartford, Connecticut, to visit one of my old high school friends. In high school, Doug was a popular drummer in a band, and I acted as his roadie, setting up his drums at most gigs. It was great to re-connect and spend an evening with Doug. Both of us agreed that the reunion was far to short, and we hope to see each other again during future travels.
We are currently in Rhode Island’s well manicured Fishermens Memorial State Park, preparing to head out to Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Today we drove through the local community of Narragansett, and across a couple of bridges to the affluent city of Newport, Rhode Island. Along Bellevue Ave. are mile after mile of mansions, some now open to the
public. Since we had Charlie with us, we didn’t stop in to see the Vanderbilts at “The Breakers” – their summer cottage, or any of the other local inhabitants, before heading down the coast. Well, maybe next time. LOL.
BTW, while hurricane Florence was devastating to parts of North & South Carolina, it provided only a light rain and no wind to our location further up the coast. Since the hurricane, many of the campgrounds on our route have already re-opened, and last night we were able to secure reservations at a Cape Hatteras National Seashore campground – one of the prime destinations for this portion of our overlandish odyssey.
The summer heat may be over in the northern U.S. and Canada, but as we venture down the east coast, we hope to remain as close to our current ideal temperature (21c/71f) as possible, keeping our fingers crossed that any future hurricanes stay away from the coastline. The advantage for us is we have wheels under our home, so we can keep our eye on the weather and head the other way, if necessary. Best wishes to all for a pleasant fall season, whether in New England or elsewhere!
Camden Hills State Park – the name alone carries something of a mythical quality for me. My first camping experience was here 60 years ago. I learned to swim in the nearby fresh water of Lake Megunticook. I caught my first fish (flounder) in Camden harbor. My first hike – “mountain climbing” – was to Maiden’s Leap (now known as Maiden Cliff), at the top of Mt. Megunticook. So many memorable firsts!
Now on our overlandish odyssey, Betty & I are here again, reliving some of our own memories from prior visits during our 44 years of marriage. As mentioned in one of our first blog posts, we came to Camden over 40 years ago with our best friends, Ken and Wendy, in their big old Cadillac Fleetwood towing a small tent trailer from Toronto. The weather at the time wasn’t the greatest, but we thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company as we sailed the sea on a brief windjammer cruise; tried to order the right wine in an upscale restaurant, and engaged in all the other expected touristy things.
With the exception of added electricity and water at many of the sites, Camden Hills State Park is much the same as we experienced it decades ago. It was established in the 1930s and still maintains all of its natural features (meaning they didn’t clear-cut and commercialize it. LOL). While the number of campsites is relatively small (around 100 sites), the park is actually 5,700 acres, including several mountain tops that provide panoramic views of the Camden area.
Betty & I attempted the hike up Mt. Megunticook, expecting it to be shorter and easier than I remembered. Well, it was not, and after climbing half way realized our bodies were not quite as nimble as they were many decades ago! Neither of us is a quitter, but we recognized our limitations on this one, and returned to our campsite, retrieving our car for a pleasant drive up Mt. Battie instead.
The town of Camden is an extremely photogenic seaside community, serving as the backdrop for movies such as Carousel and Peyton Place. The sheltered harbor is full of sailboats, and the streets are lined with 19thcentury character homes, inns, and quaint shops. Camden refers to itself as the Jewel of the Coast, and it certainly is a beautiful seaport.
Tomorrow we will head to New Hampshire and Vermont, away from the path of hurricane Florence. We are already starting to see the fall colours appear on some of the many trees we pass, and expect to see more as the overnight temperatures begin to drop. To the list of firsts recorded above, we can now add Maine as the first state visited on this leg of our overlandish adventure!
Coming from Winnipeg, where the Red River fluctuates annually with the melting snow and ice breakup, it’s fascinating to see the radical daily fluctuations in water levels in the Bay of Fundy. With the highest tides in the world, the water in the bay – with a shoreline of 174 miles – can rise up to 16 meters (53 feet) over the course of 6 hours! That’s about the height of a 5 storey building! Roughly twice every 24 hour period, the water level rises and falls dramatically.
It’s just difficult to capture the full effect of these fluctuations with a still camera, unless I were to set up time lapse photography & post the results
on this blog. True confession: I also know that my Nikon shoots videos, but haven’t figured out how to use it yet, and I’m concerned about the amount of data that takes. As I wrote this, I received a message from Telus that our monthly allotment of shared data is 90% used up, so that is another reason to be cautious…
Anyway, back to the main focus of this post. Betty & I have spent the past week visiting the New Brunswick side of the Bay of Fundy, from the Magnetic Hill in Moncton, to Fundy National Park near Alma, to the Reversing Falls in Saint John, to New River Beach Provincial Park, approximately an hour away from the U.S. border. Tomorrow we cross the border into Maine, so this will be our last post from New Brunswick – and from Canada – for awhile!
This eastern Canadian leg of our overlandish odyssey has been a real treat! Betty & I have thoroughly enjoyed what the right half of our fair country has to offer, and realize that three months isn’t near enough time to get the full effect. While we look forward to exploring the left half of our vast nation in future, we leave the east coast with a desire to return, both to visit favorite spots from this adventure, and to explore the many communities and regions missed this time. As we witness the ebb and flow of great oceans, we recognize the ebbs and flows of our lives as well, and hope that a future tide will lift our boat to these shores once again!
Wow, what a ride! We are now back in New Brunswick, after completing a full figure 8 around the adjoining province of Nova Scotia. Previous posts have highlighted the Cabot Trail and some of the other fascinating features under our fun firmament along Ceilidh Trail, Marine Drive, Bras d’Or Lake Scenic Drive, Fleur-de-lis Trail, and Marconi Trail. We also drove the Sunrise Trail, the Lighthouse Route, the Evangeline Trail, and the Glooscap Trail. To record all our tales from these coastal trails would require a book – not just a simple blog post – so I’ll just touch on a few spots that were not previously mentioned:
As previously noted, along Marine Drive we had shaken loose one of the hydraulic reservoirs connected to an automatic leveler. I had bolted it back in place, but the leveler didn’t work. After a nice stay with Bridgewater Boondockers Welcome hosts Angela & Raymond, we stopped in at Bluenose RV, to see if they could fix our problem on short notice. They graciously agreed to take a look, but when I pushed the button, the leveler worked! It has worked fine ever since, both individually and in concert with the other 3 levelers . Bluenose RV refused to accept any payment for their time, and we were back on the Lighthouse Route.
Our next intended stop was Rissers Beach Provincial Park near Lunenburg,
but since the summer heat wave continued, the popular park was full and we were referred on to Thomas Raddall Provincial Park, further down the coastal road.
From Thomas Raddall we travelled the short distance to The Islands Provincial Park at Shelburne, NS. Our campsite (#54) had amazing
views across the channel to the historic town, both day and night, and at both high and low tides. From the dozens of pics taken, we are including just three, with many more saved for future reference.
Betty & I attended a unique Sunday evening drive-in church service at Shelburne, where a couple and their elderly mom in the truck next to us
extolled the virtues of their home community: Lockport. So the next day we went exploring and found one of the most amazing Nova Scotia beaches, with a wide swath of fine-grained sand. Before leaving, Betty’s eye caught a sign for “Becky’s Knit & Yarn Shop”, so we spent another hour while Betty and the owner spun a yarn about knitting. LOL.
At the end of the Lighthouse Route and beginning of the Evangeline Trail we toured the town of Yarmouth, noting all of the beautifully restored houses in their historic homes district. The Cape Forchu Lightstation marks the most westerly tip of the province, and was worth the trip to feel the crisp salty air and witness the powerful surf crashing against the rocky Atlantic coast.
The Evangeline Trail took us up the Annapolis Valley past a number of historic churches, two of which are pictured here. Our stop for the night
was intended to be a quiet former visitor centre in Digby, but as previously noted, the incessant roar of motorcycles at the “wharf rat rally” made Digby anything but quiet! Instead, we drove on the Waterville, where we stayed at a quiet Harvest Host location: Reimer Gardens.
Next came the Glooscap Trail, which led us to the most amazing campground in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia! For $30./night, Betty & I found
ourselves in a full-service campsite right on the banks of Minas Basin in the Bay of Fundy. The Diamond Shores Campground is a small park with a loyal customer base. It does little or no advertising, and we were lucky to find it by stopping in at the Parrsboro Information Centre, when we found our intended destination campground to be full.
Betty & I were directed to a tiny campsite, only inches away from our Saskatchewan and New Brunswick neighbours. We couldn’t help but meet them when we were that close, but it turned out everyone was enjoying the fabulous views as the Bay of Fundy continuously drained and filled from low to high tides. Since there was no room for picnic tables between
RVs, the tables were lined up in front, allowing everyone to better connect with their new neighbours. As we sat outside on Saturday evening, looking over the bay, we were treated to a number of bright and colourful fireworks displays on the beach, drawing wows and applause from the gathered community.
After church in Parrsboro on Sunday morning, Betty & I returned to an end-of-season celebration at the Diamond Shores Campground. All the tables had been placed in a circle in the field behind the RVs, and the campground owners were serving up a huge free lunch for all
the campers. Because we were literally the latecomers to the party, I was surprised when the owners insisted that we join in, and refused to accept a donation for the meal. They had collected all the refundable recyclables over the season, and said it was enough to cover the cost of showing their appreciation for their campers. We were extremely lucky to be there at the right time! What a nice group in a great spot!
Well, I see this post is now over 900 words, and I’ve been trying for a limit of about 600. There are many more tales to be told about Nova Scotia trails, but I’ll end this one with the old salutation from cowboys Roy Rogers and Dale Evans: “Happy trails to you, until we meet again!”
I’ve always thought I should send this little anecdote to Reader’s Digest, to include on one of their humour pages, or – as is often the case – as a filler at the bottom of an article. Just haven’t got around to it yet, but thought I’d add it to the blog as a travel-related story:
A couple of years ago Betty & I visited Oak Hammock Marsh, just north of Winnipeg, Manitoba, during the annual migration of Canada geese. We were fascinated by how they managed to find their way back each year, over tremendous distances, to the same patch of pond. I mused aloud that maybe they Googled it. But Betty corrected me, noting: “No, they gaggled it!” LOL