Home sweet home

The last couple weeks is somewhat of a blur as we decided to head home from Prince Edward Island instead of trekking across Canada to Bannf/Calgary area. No particular reason to change up the trip except we just felt it was the right thing to do.  We can do Bannf and Jasper another time.

We spent a couple weeks traveling home back into the US through Maine. We stopped overnight in Bangor, ME then Port Jervis, PA, Mercer City, PA and then Terra Haute, IN. We made it to Branson, MO and spent about 5 nights there. The weather was so hot and humid that we didn’t explore outdoors too much. We did spend a day at The Top of the Rock and had lunch in Arnies Barn. This 150 year old barn was taken apart piece by piece from Arnold Palmers property and reassembled here at the golf course clubhouse. The course is also somewhat famous for the sinkhole that developed on the golf course after it was built. They have been digging out dirt for over a year, taking 35,000 truck loads of dirt out and have found some really cool rock formations. The ground is said to be stable, but time will tell.

From Branson we decided to just spend as much time on the road each day as possible. We stopping in Elk City, OK then Albuquerque, NM to Williams, AZ and then home.

After 9680 miles The Whichie Wagon is back home. We have been busy getting settled after our almost 4 month trip, but we would not trade it for the world. We saw so much countryside and learned so many things!

 

Cheticamp, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

We spent the week at Plage St Pierre Beach RV. The park is located on Cheticamp Island at the beginning of the Cabot Trail. We were going to camp in Baddeck until our good friend, Gilles, was going to be in town visiting family. It was awesome having our own personal tour guide and getting more history of the area and of his growing up on Cape Breton.

We spent our first full day driving the entire Cabot Trail. The weather was off and on, but all in all it was a great day. The views on the trail were just spectacular and we even drove out to Meat Cove, the most northern tip of the island. It took us a full 9 hours to make the whole loop, but surely worth it!

We met Gilles for breakfast and we toured the Les Trois Pignons, a museum with the Acadian history and culture through its world famous hooked rugs and antiques. Gilles mom even has some work displayed when she did at 9 years old. The rugs are just amazing and the details are indescribable. Later in the afternoon we did a little golfing at the local golf club. Fun afternoon, but we found out about Canada’s black flies. They are nasty little buggers!

The following day we took off to see Inverness and went to Glenora Distillery for lunch. Fairly laid back day.

Then we had some beautiful weather on Saturday so the three of us took off for Skyline Trail. During part of the hike we came across a gate and fenced area. It is habitat fenced off to the moose to help it grow. We took the trail and came upon the boardwalks leading down the edge of the peak. It was absolutely breath-taking. You can see the hikers from the trail down below, but you cannot see the boardwalks used for the hike. The boardwalks took 4 years to build. We took the long loop back and that was where we saw Mama moose and her calf. They were only about 20 feet off the trail from us. Here are a couple photos of the trail and the view from the road. Yes those are people up there!

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Gilles took us by his church, St Pierre and gave us a tour of the church. All the stones were brought over from the island by horse and hoisted by pulley. Just amazing. When we walked inside it reminded me of the churches in Italy. It was absolutely amazing. I thought I had taken a photo of the outside, but sadly I did not.

We were then treated to dinner at Gilles Mothers home. She made us homemade seafood chowder and lemon meringue pie. Oh it was delicious and even better was the company. We had Gilles mom, his two sisters and brother in law. We had a blast just sitting and talking. We have found new family in Cheticamp. Mom even gave me a copy of her cookbook and autographed it. I was going to go back to the museum to purchase one, so it was a very thoughtful gift. She and Gilles sister, Ginette, work on the radio station in town. They are celebrities to some of our fellow campers.  What a great night!

Sunday we took another hike in the National Park to see the original homestead of Gilles grandfather and some other families. They located to the area here and when the National Park was built the government basically moved them out. We were able to find the remains of the foundation of the home.

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The LeBlanc homestead

We then went to the Mi Careme Centre and learned about the Acadian festival. This is similar to Mardi Gras. The meaning, Mid-Lent, is held the Thursday that falls 23 days prior to Easter. The custom is to dress in costumes and masks and go home to home for music, dancing, food and fun and not be recognized. Many people come from all over and of course are not quickly recognized. But locals are sometimes quickly picked out by their voice, their eyes or their step dancing. There is a list of homes and you move home to home for hours on end. The homes that host lay cardboard down on the floors as most of the time is it mid winter. The masks on display were amazing. There was one paper mache mask that was a large moose head and had 10 smaller heads on the antlers. Looking at the masks, most make the eye openings very small and some are large and would be very warm if no one guessed who you were for a long time. You do finally reveal your face and sometimes the masked person is a relative or friend who has not been seen in years.

The fiddling music is a large part of Acadian history and very prominent in the area. We had dinner our last night with Gilles, his sister and brother in law and a young girl came in and was playing her fiddle. She was amazing! Very easy to start tapping your foot to!

We left Cape Breton in heavy rain and fog. We decided to drive part way to Prince Edward Island and stopped in Amherst at Loch Lommand RV. We were going to take the ferry, but they are down one ship and could not guarantee we could get the RV on board. So instead of sitting all day waiting we will just drive around. Not much time difference, just a little more time behind the wheel.

 

Halifax, Nova Scotia

We had a fun week in Halifax, actually Lower Sackville at the West Halifax KOA. A little busy the first couple days as it was Canada Day so the camp was full.
We decided to explore the city a little and came upon the Citadel. Since it was free admission day we decided to check it out. They had several demonstrations including a bagpiper and a cannon firing. We headed back for dinner and then back to the harbor to watch the firework display. Hard to believe we are going to miss our neighborhood celebration for the first time in 24 years! We found a cemetery overlooking the harbor and talked with a very nice family from Lower Sackville. It was the perfect vantage point and we were able to escape before traffic.
Day two Mark woke up not feeling well, so got caught up on a few things in the coach. Later in the day we took a quick trip to Fairview Cemetery to visit the Titantic Grave sites. Very moving to view the headstones and those that were never identified. The youngest victim, a two year old, was just identified by DNA in 2007.
Day three we had tickets for the International Nova Scotia Tattoo. We headed downtown and grabbed a quick lunch and then headed to the ScotiaCentre for the show. WOW, it was amazing. They had band members from each of the Canadian branches of services, the US Air Force gun drill team, acrobats from Germany, bagpipers, the flying grandpas and many others. Non stop action the entire 2 hour show! We highly recommend seeing this show if you are lucky enough to be in Halifax for the one week they preform.
We spent our 4th of July visiting the Swiss Air Flight 111 memorial and Peggy’s Cove. The landscape in Peggy’s Cove is nothing like we have seen in Nova Scotia so far. Large granite boulders and crashing sea waves. It is a beautiful little fishing town with the famous lighthouse. The cove is thought to have been named for a woman whose ship crashed on the rocks and she survived. Yes, her name was Peggy. All the locals would say “We are going to see Peggy of the Cove, hence the name.
Next stop Cape Breton Island. This will be our furthest point east before we start back west across Canada.

Oh Canada!

I just realized that I am a little behind in our updates. Today is a great day for a quick post as we have some rain showers.

We left Bar Harbor and headed towards St Andrews, Canada. Our biggest worry was about crossing the US/Canada border. Well we pull up and we are the only vehicle and only one lane at the crossing was open. We handed the Border Agent our passports, he asked a couple questions and we were on our way. WOW, all the horror stories we had heard and we just breezed through. Some others we have met were not so lucky. One RV was questioned for over 20 minutes! I guess it just depends on who you get!

So we spent the first week in St Andrews and upon pulling in we pulled in behind another coach we had been following off and on from Bar Harbor. The couple was traveling with a Winnebago Tour group and meeting 15 other rigs in St Andrews. We were welcomed with open arms as Winnebago owners and included in their social hours and pre-route meetings. They also gave us some helpful information for traveling.

St Andrews is a small fishing town and sits on the Bay of Fundy, so we got to watch the huge tide shifts again. Our stay was great and we had good weather. Very nice campground and the views were just worth a million bucks.

We left and headed to Hopewell Cape, New Brunswick. We settled in at Ponderosa Pines, after moving a couple times, and got a spot with a view of the Bay of Fundy and part of Hopewell Rocks. Pretty much in the middle of nowhere, but we took side trips to Alma and Fundy National Park to do some hiking and golfing. When you see Alma at high tide and low tide you really get the picture of the drastic tides here. We went to see both and at low tide we walked at least a quarter of a mile out on the beach to the waters edge. Our Winnebago group also came to Ponderosa Pines, so again some more fun times with them.

After Hopewell Cape, we headed to Parkers Cove our first stop in Nova Scotia. We pulled in to Cove Oceanfront campground and this is one of those campgrounds you just don’t want to leave. We have a spot overlooking the Bay of Fundy, which is more like an ocean and the sunsets are just amazing right out our front door. We toured Annapolis Royal, Fort Anne and did the Candlelight Cemetery tour which was a blast.

We have one more day in Parkers Cove and we head to Halifax and we will be there in time for Canada Day! Many festivities planned so it will be fun. From Halifax we will head to Cape Breton which is our furthest point east. We have a friend who was raised here that we are meeting, so we have our own personal tour guide!

A few things we have noticed here that different from the US. First, they do not use pennies in their currency. They either round up or round down for purchases. The second, there are no “rest areas” through the area we have traveled unless it is a visitor center at the start of a new province. If you need to stop, you need to find an exit with facilities. The third, there is no litter like our highways. The roads, beaches and parks are very clean.

Bar Harbor, Maine

Although the weather has not cooperated this week, we have had a great time in Bar Harbor. We pulled into our campsite and had a great view of Frenchman Bay. The tide shift here is amazing between low and high tide. There is even a sand bar in downtown Bar Harbor that appears at low tide and you can walk out to Bar Island. The island has hiking trails and great views of the city.  Our first full day out we headed to Acadia National Park. We started on top of Cadillac Mountain and took the hike down the north face. Awesome view of the harbor and all the islands. The hike is mostly level with some boulders to climb down, but uphill on the boulders going back up.  Next we headed to Jordan Pond and took the 3.2 mile loop around the pond. The first half of the hike you are on split tree logs to protect the Eco-system, then to boulders along the shore and the last half if mostly level crushed granite. The pond is the local water source, so there is no swimming or human contact allowed. We had a pretty full day, so we headed back. The next day we took the 27 mile loop road through the park. We made many stops along the way, the first being Sand Beach where we found Great Head Trail. The trail takes you up over large boulders and around the peninsula to the top with outstanding views of Sand Beach and the rugged Maine coastline. The day was perfect, filled with sunshine and about 68 degrees. Then off to Otter Point, where we watched some rock climbers repelling on the cliffs and then down to Thunder Hole. A cavern that rumbles like thunder during high tide, but we were there at low tide. Hoping to get back during high tide before we leave, weather permitting of course.  That evening the clouds disappeared and the sun was shining, so we raced back to the top of Cadillac Mountain to see the sunset. I can’t imagine how many people would be here if it was actually high season in the area. It actually starts next week, so I guess we can deal with the weather instead of crowds.  On the way back to camp it was still low tide so we were able to walk out to Bar Island on the sandbar and Susan was able to collect some shells, much to Marks chagrin. There are so many trails and bike paths we just wish the weather was better to enjoy it. They have carriage roads that are closed to cars through the forest that would be fun. There are several stone bridges in the park built under the instruction of John Rockefeller, Jr. who donated over 10,000 acres of parkland.  Speaking of the tides, it is fun to watch our bay at camp come in and out. Today while it was low tide, even in poor weather, there were several people clamming in the bay. Lobster, mussels and clams are very plentiful and we have enjoyed some lobster while we were here. Our last day in Bar Harbor and he weather is cool and overcast but no rain, so off to the Natural Seawall and Bass Harbor Head Light. The tide was going out so we were able to walk out on the Seawall and we headed to the lighthouse. We took the trail down some old wooden stairs to the granite steps and rocks to get a better view of the lighthouse. A quick stop at Pretty Marsh and a fleet of lobster boats and we started back to camp.  Hoping to see Thunder Hole at high tide and see the Peregrine Falcons flying along the Precipice Trailhead that is currently closed due to nesting.  Tomorrow off to our Canada adventure.

 

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High tide in the bay

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Low tide in the bay

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Clamming in the bay

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Top of Cadillac Mountain

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Cliffs above Otter Point

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Our campsite as we left Bar Harbor

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Bass Harbor Head Light

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Bar Island walk at low tide

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Bar Island at high tide

 

Last day in Old Orchard Beach

Even with an extra day in Old Orchard Beach the time went by much to quickly. We did have a couple days of rain, but the other days were just beautiful and we were able to get out and explore. We got rained out of golf, so we drove up to Portland and found the Portland Headlight and Fort Williams. The fort dates back to 1873 and was built to protect the Casco Bay area.

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Portland Head Light

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Fort Williams

We had thunderstorms Tuesday night, but Wednesday was another beautiful day. We took an early walk on the beach during low tide and then headed to a little cafe in Biddeford for breakfast before adventuring out again.

We started towards Kennebunkport and stopped at Goose Rocks Beach first. The beach was a hidden jewel and only three people on the entire beach.

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Goose Rocks Beach

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After a quick stop, we headed over to Kennebunkport and walked around all the little shops on the harbor. Then we took off down the scenic drive on Ocean Drive. There we came upon the Bush family compound at Walkers Point. Apparently they are having a 92nd birthday party for Barbara Bush this weekend.

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The Bush Family Compound

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One more stop in the US before we hit Canada. We are getting very excited and are hoping the weather will get a little better as we travel north.

 

Quick update

Just a quick update with the past week or so travels. We had a great time in Williamsburg and were able to meet up with Mark’s cousin from Norfolk for dinner on Saturday night. Had a great dinner at Barrett’s in Colonial Williamsburg.

We had rain the last two days in Williamsburg and then headed to Jonestown, PA. This was just a quick rest stop, but we were able to meet our son Jon in Baltimore for dinner. It was about a two hour drive for us, but well worth it. We had a great visit with Jon while he is in DC for training for work.

We left Virginia and headed to Sturbridge, MA. We had reservations at the Sturbridge RV Resort. Well, we had a two night reservation and ended up leaving after one night. The “resort” was the oddest set up we have ever seen. We were literally six feet from our neighbors to the side and one foot to the rear. We decided to pack up after only one night.

So now we are in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. Susan had spent some time here while she lived in Connecticut. It was good we came in a day early as it is raining today, that would have not made travel very fun. Since it is raining we caught up on laundry and just sat by the fire today. Looking forward to doing some exploring to the beach and maybe a little golf.

One more stop before we hit Canada and we can’t wait. Hoping the weather will get a little better before then!

While we are having a great trip, it is hard being away from family and all that is going on We also learned that a close friend and golf buddy for the last 12 years passed away suddenly . This makes being on the road a little difficult.

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