Home Too Soon

Somewhat unexpectedly, here we are back home. Sometimes camping just becomes a pain in the ass. That’s when it’s time to pack up and head home. That’s the situation in which we found ourselves.

Upon leaving Fundy National Park, we were geeked to return to the States and revisit Acadia National Park. We’ve been there just one time, and it was an odd one, coinciding with the government shutdown in October 2013. The park was officially closed, but we could duck beneath the barriers on foot or with our bikes. In many respects, it was ideal – zero car traffic – we cycled the scenic drive with abandon. But, the Visitor Center had been closed, and we felt like too many stones were left unturned.

So, we rolled in to Acadia on a Monday morning in late October, expecting to camp for five days or so, and check out everything we missed the first time around. Who would think that the campground would be full? The loop that allowed reservations was completely booked! We were assigned a site for one night in a section due to be closed the next morning. There was some hope that it would remain open for at least one more day. So, we grabbed the site, leashed Jezzy up, and headed off on a nearby trail. To get a glimpse of the ocean at least.

What a relief! We could camp one more night. So, we decided to hike the Ocean Path Trail, combined with Gorham Mountain to soak up as many great views as possible. We were not disappointed.

A few hearty climbers were working one of the steep faces, so we stopped to watch. Believe me, there wasn’t much room to inch your way up that crack between the rocks.

One popular stop along this trail is Thunder Hole. The tide rushed into a narrow crevasse, and the backsplash can be quite powerful. We were not there when the tide was high enough to provide a good show, but check out this video from YouTube. Wow! https://youtu.be/voWhZRtBgF4. (This is not my video)

To find a great aerial view, we decided to detour up to Gorham Mountain. Good choice!

Altogether, it was a good day on foot – about 9 miles, great scenery, and blue skies. Success.

Our plan, upon leaving the campground the next morning was to stay in a nearby Bar Harbor campground to continue our exploration for the next few days. However, the only campground open within miles was a total dump. With at least one day of rain coming, we were unwilling to spend it in some nasty parking lot of a campground.

Instead, we landed at Pawtuckaway State Park, NH, an absolute gem of a park. We tucked into a solitary site in the Turtle Island campground (yes, an actual island), and hunkered down for rain.

At least, we enjoyed sitting outside, enjoying this pristine Park from the shelter of our awning. We congratulate ourselves every week on our good fortune in owning this awning. Because it attaches directly to the Campsh@ck, it’s very durable for wind and fowl weather. We can still cook outside, eat outside, and not feel trapped when we have day after day of crappy weather. It’s a godsend both to our camping life and our marriage.

The following day brought another change of plans. The New York State Park we planned on staying at for a night or two, was actually closed. The only thing open were some rental cabins. We were fortunate to find a nearby private campground where we pulled in, just as darkness fell. Our site was right alongside a creek, which was jumping with salmon. We could actually have reached in, and grabbed dinner, had we not been so bushed. Sadly, they had just winterized their bathrooms, so what we were directed to use instead was cold, odd, and nasty. Enough said.

Camping options for the rest of the trip were nonexistent. So, we ground our teeth, and drove eleven hours home.

Here’s a map of our campsites for reference. Sorry I haven’t done this all along. I think you can touch on the mappoints to find the campgrounds.

https://tinyurl.com/y8q4yyqp

Home. House and yard work awaits. But, it was a spectacular trip.

Fabulous Fundy

When we initially started planning for our trek into Canada, on the top of my Must See list was the Bay of Fundy. This basin between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia is known for having the highest tides in the world. Admittedly, the numbers don’t quite match up to the visual reality – a 12 meter tide (over 48 feet) is not like standing on the edge of a pool that is empty then 48 feet deep six hours later. Yet, it’s striking. Here are the commercial docks in Alma at low tide. And again, a bit later as the tide creeps in…

We watched them all sail at high tide a day later.

At low tide, we could walk out on the shoreline for about a quarter-mile.At high tide, the water extended all the way to the distant wall in the photo.

Low tide. High tide.

None of these photos were taken at the moment of highest or lowest tide, but it’s amazing to see. We were so lucky to be at Fundy on October 14, which was the start of the fall lobstering season. (Oct-Dec. The other season is April-July) That meant that at 2am (the first high tide of the day) the commercial fleet leaves the wharf. Fireworks! A bagpiper, dressed in a lobster suit and kilt! All the Alma townsfolk, some dressed in pajamas and blankets. We were happy to drag ourselves out late on a cold night to witness this event, the lifeline of the local economy.

The dock had been busy the day before, with boats being loaded with dozens of traps, each filled with fish guts, heads, and other assorted goodies that lobsters love. Some were strung together, as many as 20 to a single buoy. Smaller craft have traps/buoys on a 1/1 basis. It’s big business on any scale. Lobsters collected here supply not only the local market, but everywhere North Atlantic lobsters are available.

At 2am, the sleepy crews joined their ships, carrying backpacks with their personal stuff for a few days. A few obviously looked like they came directly from a warm bed to the dock. I inquired, and was told that the first run would last about three days. Ships would then return to port, empty traps, reload, and head back out. In and out as long as he season lasts. It must be extremely hard work in raw weather.

The stark beauty of the Fundy shoreline is special. We wandered from point to point (breaking our no-driving-in-the-truck rule) and found terrific views at every turn.

As you can tell. These were shot on different days. We did have one sunny day while we were there and it fortunately coincided with our visit to Hopewell Rocks. This would be a great sight anywhere, but being able to walk around the base of these spectacular formations at low tide was unworldly.

i can’t tell you how happy we were to have a sunny day for this excursion. We had thought about hanging out here for the six-hour, low-to-high tide experience, but just couldn’t swing it with Jezzy. By the time we included out travel time to the site, it would just have been too long of a day for our girl. So we elected to wander the base at low(ish) tide. I think we made the right decision.


They warn you about the mud there. I made a few mis-steps, and will probably be cleaning this out of my boots forever.


I’ll w up now. I took a hundred photos, and would still be sitting on the shore somewhere along this amazing coast if I could figure out how to do that. It is beautiful. Stark and rugged.

But one last note. Quietsolopursuits, this is for you. We wandered through some of the other campgrounds (we were at Headquarters Campground, the only one still open at this time). In the Point Wolfe Campground, we found this fabulous thing – I don’t know the name. Kind of like the oTENTiks we found in other Parks, but designed for one or two. I want one! Just another reason to return. Inside it had a sleeping platform, and kind of a gear trampoline suspended above. Or, perhaps you sleep on the trampoline and stow your stuff below??

We’re headed on to our last few days before plowing home. It’s hard to find open campgrounds, and we’ve developed another serious leak which is drowning our new floor somewhere from below. Time to shut off all water and head home. ☹️☹️☹️

Still More Canada

It just keeps getting better here in the Maritime Provinces of Canada. I’ll admit to initially being lukewarm to visiting this area, but am happy to admit to being totally wrong. I can’t wait to revisit to see everything we missed on this brief visit.

October is such a great time to camp, with one big problem. So many campgrounds close on Columbus Day (National Indigenous People’s Day, or Thanksgiving in Canada), which came early this year on October 8. Our campground on Prince Edward Island was the only campground open on the entire island. And, we were so lucky to find this spot at New Glasgow Highlands Campground. It was a gem. Private campgrounds are never this nice, but this one excelled in every aspect.

PEI was a big surprise. Very rural and agricultural – a big potato growing area. Trucks filled with potatoes ere everywhere, and there are even a few distilleries featuring their own potato vodka. Long, rolling country roads are punctuated by ocean views. And, the Confederation Bridge connecting Nova Scotia to PEI is spectacular. At 42,323 feet in length (about 8 miles), it’s the longest bridge over ice covered waters in the world. Of course, most of it was shrouded in rain and fog when we crossed. But, amazing still.

The view through the windshield looked like this, something we’ve experienced time after time on his trip.

Our PEI time was limited. Fortunately, we were close to Prince Edward Island National Park. This was the main area we wanted to explore, so we donned our familiar yellow rainjackets and headed to the shoreline. It’s a crazy feeling to have miles of beautiful beach to yourself, but we are getting used to that sensation. It would be easy to get spoiled.

There are variations to the view. These two guys in their neon rainsuits were methodically working their metal detectors on this dark afternoon.

At the other end of the Park is Dalvay by the Sea National Historic Site, which is an enormous summer home, built by oilman Alexander McDonald (crony of JD Rockefeller of Standard Oil) in 1895. You can stay in one of its 25 guest rooms, so tempting in our damp state.

What a treat to stroll in and find a welcoming bar, complete with roaring fireplace and huge leather chairs. We were more than ready for a bit of pampering. A beer and a shared scallop crudo eased our chilly misery. Did we feel out of place in our grubby camping duds? Not a bit.

Day 2 on PEI sent us over to the Anne of Green Gables House, which inspired the book of the same name (insert gagging sound here). No photos – the area was swarming with busloads of tourists. John was interested enough to download and read AoGG, but I just wanted to run. We finished our day on PEI with one of the most fantastic meals I’ve had. Mussels, chowder, halibut (by far the best-ever), and a baked seafood thing in a cozy restaurant. Again, no photos, but do yourself a favor and visit the Blue Mussel Cafe if you are in the area. Five stars, with five star staff.

We headed back to New Brunswick to check out Fundy National Park. This is such an amazing place that it deserves its own post. So, read on to the next one…

Cape Breton Highlands National Park

About 225 miles from Halifax on the northern tip of Nova Scotia lies this magnificent National Park. We’ve spent four nights here – ambit of sunshine, some clouds, a spot of warmth, and some very cool nights.

I’m tired of my voice, so just enjoy these photos….

We took a hike one day, and were treated to some of the most intense autumn color I’ve ever experienced. About seven miles of splendid color, much of which was supplied by low-lying blueberry plants, whose dark scarlet leaves dominated the scene.

Along the way, there was an old survival cabin, equipped with two wooden bunks, a woodstove, two old sleeping bags, and a lantern.

What was really fun was the notebook with a stub of a pencil for inhabitants to leave notes for those yet to come. Lots of people commented about moose sightings (oh, sure…) and weather conditions. But this one made me laugh.

Tomorrow, we move on. This has been a great stop.

❤️ing Nova Scotia

When a post starts out with a photo like this, you know there’s not going to be too many negative things I have to say. Our trip to Canada just keeps on getting better and better. Nova Scotia was a huge surprise.

Our first few days in Nova Scotia were spent near Halifax. Before getting to the City itself, there were two remote locations that we were eager to explore. So, breaking our ‘no driving once we get to camp’ rule, we set off for the fishing village of Lunenberg, about 45 miles away. Lunenburg was established in 1753, by a proclamation signed by the King (George? I don’t remember). Today, Lunenburg is still a fishing city, with some of the fleet owned by people with names that were present in the area well over 100 years ago. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which means it has been selected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization as having cultural, historical, scientific or other significance. It is judged to be important to the collectives of humanity, and it protected by international treaties (Wikipedia).

The photo above is Lunenburg. The pristine harbor was beautiful, even on the rainy, windy day we visited. Every corner, every turn brought something that I wanted to photograph. I probably took 80 photos, but have culled it to just a few to post.

Perhaps wrongly, we neglected to visit the Maritime Museum, which includes tours of a couple of old fishing schooners which are part of the Museum. We just didn’t have time.

The Fisherman’s Memorial there dedicated to all the fisherman who have lost their lives pursuing their dangerous vocation. It really moved me. Going back 100 years, it listed the ships lost, and the names of their crew. Each time, there were four or five men with the same last name – entire generations of families were often wiped out in one mishap. It’s a sobering testiment to a dangerous occupation. I was unable to get a photo, due to poor lighting conditions, so check this out. www.lunenburgns.com

From Lunenburg, we blew through the village of Mahone. In October, the who town becomes home to scarecrows of every kind. Sure, it’s kitschy, but there was a lot of fun stuff there. Lots of bride/groom pairs, including this one with an oddball guest.

My other two favorites were the kilt-wearing shepherd, protected by a plastic bag, and a quintet of musical genuises.

On to Peggy’s Cove. This rugged stretch of coastline is what I pictured all of Nova Scotia to look like. It is fantastically beautiful. As we approached, we passed no fewer than six tour buses returning to Halifax, probably bearing passengers from the cruise ships which dock there. I can see why they all want to see this. Here are a few of my favorite sights.

Peggy’s Cove is also the site of the Swissair Flight 111 Memorial. This flight crashed in 1996, resulting in the deaths of all on board, over 220 crew and passengers.

Its a beautiful, desolate spot. Apparently nearly 2 million pieces of crash debris were eventually recovered.

One reason we selected the campground we did was that it gave us the ability to ride our bikes about seven miles to catch a ferry into downtown Halifax. We really dislike wandering around strange cities, searching for parking in our big red truck. Not only could we cycle in, we rode the entire way along pieces and parts of The Great Trail, a maze of 24,000 miles of connected trails covering Canada. Pretty amazing. But we do wonder how we would get along without Google Maps for navigation. Whether on foot, bike, or in the car, this is the tool we use. It’s a marriage-saver.

Our first stop was the Fairview Lawn Cemetery, where there are about 200 graves of victims of the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. This is a site we really wanted to visit, and we walked forever to get there. Perhaps we should have signed up for a tour – there were many groups with animated guides, telling stories of bravery of many of the victims. Without the benefit of that input, the site was a bit of a letdown.

Perhaps we didn’t find the soul of Halifax. There was a big port area filled with restaurants, shops, and other tourist gigs. It was teeming with cruise ship passengers. We wandered a bit, but really didn’t find much to capture our interest. Maybe we have tourist fatigue. Here’s one shot of a row of houses that caught my eye, and a guard at the Citadel (which we viewed from he outside). We’ve seen many forts and military museums, and decided not to partake of another.

So, we left the city, and headed back to the great outdoors. That’s a whole separate post.