Category Archives: Travels

Is Hampton Falls “THE Hamptons??”

As I’m writing we have just left what was the longest stay of our trip. We’ve been staying at Wakeda Campground in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire and enjoying full hook-ups. And though those are both wonderful treats, I wasn’t sure what I thought when we pulled in. Gone were the beautiful, private, treed spots of the maritime provinces and here we could see everyone else all around us. Yankes were right beside us so that made it easier for keeping track of kids, but I do prefer feeling nestled in the campsites.

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The drive down through Maine was probably not the best impression that the state could give us. There was a misconception within our group that the roads would improve once we crossed the border. Not so. And a little incident with a gross guy trying to get cheeky in a parking lot of a store that I felt I could be mugged in…. not a great image of Maine. I’m sure we missed the good there so I won’t write it off. This day was simply for driving through.

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We did expect this to be a longish drive, but not too bad. And this became our introduction to east side American traffic. Not horrible, but like I said, an introduction. Locals told me later that it’s a known fact that driving through Portsmouth/Portland is simply not done on Fridays or Saturdays. They have “weekend traffic” and we got stuck in it.

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Reasons for choosing Wakeda Campground:

  • reasonable driving distance from New Bruswick
  • close for the guys to get to Boston for baseball game
  • mini golf for the kids
  • reasonable driving distance to next campground

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I’ve found that at each new campground I have a day or two till I feel comfortable letting the kids roam free. I have a touch of helicopter mom when in areas I’m not familiar with. This spot was a bit bad for that because it’s a fairly large campground and the kids park was not close by. Our first day there two of the kids decided to try and race everyone home around a different loop. That ended in Dale and Erick searching the campground in the rain trying to find them. They were way off. I didn’t freak out, but they didn’t earn any permission to go to the park on their own either.

Each playground we find has something a bit different that the kids love and here it was the merry-go-round that the dads were more than happy to spin around at breakneck speeds (kids flew off) and where I couldn’t even look at it spinning without getting queazy.

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For some reason I woke up a bit early the first morning there and somehow quite alert even. So I decided to go for a run. I couldn’t see if Trish was awake so I set off alone to check out the neighbourhood outside the campground. What I thought was a quick 3 – 3 1/2 mile run was a much longer loop than I expected. 9 miles later I finally arrived back at the campsite. I was pretty glad I had my google maps along because I’d probably still be out there if I hadn’t. Definitely feeling the results of a more relaxed vacation exercise routine I was not deterred from enjoying this east coast vibe that I remembered from years ago and was so excited to find again.

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The houses in this area are amazing! All so huge and with this area having so much history you could sense it. Of course, there’s a lot of new builds too and they are equally impressive. We met one family that said their house was built in the 1700’s. I love that. Adding to the gorgeous houses was the dense forest all around and the small winding roads.

All of a sudden, at one point, I came across a covered bridge and just through it was a farm. Without realizing it I was now running around free range chickens and checking out goats and cute pigs. I don’t know if it’s all good to take pictures of strangers houses, but I did. Usually in some manner that I hope looked like I was just checking my phone reception.

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As cute as this little stinker is (not yet squished) I was more than glad to see him feet up!

The kids found a few new pets while at Wakeda. A frog named Froggy and a little snake. The snake didn’t quite get the same treatment as Froggy. A little harder to grasp maybe. Froggy was given the royal treatment as the kids all created different homes for him and treated him as a superhero. Thankfully they eventually placed him back in the grass where they found him. Froggy was probably ecstatic at seeing that tree line.

The guys had their first baseball game while here. The took a car towards Boston and left it in a Wal-mart where they met their uber who took them in to the stadium. Now, I could give more details about that, but really, they should be writing their own blog post for that, right? I did enjoy seeing the pictures of the areas they walked around. Again, so much history in this area and so evident in the buildings.

They’ve decided this uber idea was a great success so plans are to continue the Wal-mart stop uber usage. It’s awfully entertaining to hear them talk about the uber driver who has amazed them with his friendliness, but they can’t agree on what his name was. I can’t wait to see how many more names they completely mess up. This portion of the trip, which I call “Phase 2 – United States”, was built around the guys addiction, I mean, great love of baseball and I’m glad they’re having fun in the adventure even from the drive to the stadium and back.

While the guys were away for the day, Trish and I decided to do camp irons for supper with the kids. The fire was built and roaring in very little time, I’m happy to report. Thank goodness there’s no video of my trying to swing that ax. That thing’s way too heavy while the other one was like trying to swing a butter knife at the log. Neither one super effective, but I made it work.

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Perfect pie iron fire.

We pulled out the camp irons, the pizza filling, the pie filling and the s’mores necessities and got to making supper. No food group charts here. Or EVER when camping! No matter how hard I try.

Not everyone is familiar with camp irons. Some people also call them pie irons. I grew up eating these so there’s something very nostalgic about having them with my kids. There are many ways to enjoy them, but here’s an idea of what we’ve done and how to make them.

I’ll warn you that not all pie irons are made equal. These were made in southern Manitoba and are super sturdy in comparison to some kinds I’ve seen in stores. Unfortunately the family stopped making them so I can’t provide you with a link, but I would suggest looking for the good cast iron kind. Not the flimsy metal ones. You’ll be glad you got the right ones.

First thing is to warm the irons in the fire. The fire has to have had time to calm down a bit first or it’ll be too hot and things will burn. Don’t rush the process! You want some nice burning embers.

Next is to coat both insides with some butter. Lay a piece of bread on either side and spoon some filling of your choice on one side.

Then comes the tricky part. As quick as you can (so the bread doesn’t fall out) swing the iron closed and pinch together to seal the bread around the edges and break off the crusts. And if you followed that you’re probably wondering how to pinch that shut when it was just pulled out of the flames. I’ve seen people step on it and they clearly have shoes that don’t melt easily or don’t care about the shoes. Or I whack it on ground a couple times and the crusts fall off.

Be prepared for the odd one burnt. Usually the first one.

The kids also enjoyed the s’mores version, which was new for us. One came up with the idea and the others jumped in without hesitation. It was a hit. We didn’t use graham crackers though. I usually buy chocolate wafers and mint chocolate for mine so that’s what we had.

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I settled for the regular s’mores version. “MY’ s’mores version, that is. Campfire hands and all!

Our last day in New Hampshire, Trish and I headed to a little store called Pintuck and Purl. We found it online when searching for places that carry Art Gallery Fabrics. Fabric is a bit of an addiction much like baseball is for the guys. And if it’s Art Gallery, well, there’s no words. We put in on our list of things to do and headed out.

Pintuck and Purl carries and small selection of some great fabrics on one side of the store and a yarn selection on the other. They also have classes at the store as well, but we weren’t able to take part in any of that sort of fun. We enjoyed checking out some other fabric lines that we’ve never seen in person and generally enjoyed looking and dreaming about what we could make. Trish had a fairly clear idea of what she wanted to do so she walked out with an entire roll of fabric. That’s a first! I can’t wait to see when she finishes those projects. Mine buy was more just ideas. I’d been eyeing Cotton + Steel fabric for awhile now.

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The campground offers a pancake breakfast on Sundays, but we opted for our own version. 

Of course the mini golf at Wakeda was used a few times as well.

 

And that was pretty much our New Hampshire stay in a nutshell. Such a beautiful state. The people at the campground were all very friendly and I could see why it was a loved destination for locals and those coming from a bit further.

Oh, did I answer my own question? Where ARE “The Hamptons”? I googled it. It’s NY. Nevermind. We just found ritzy New Hampshire Hampton Falls. Haven’t been to the NY version, but I’m willing to bet I’d prefer these.

The Island currently known as Prince (Edward Island).

As we began to approach the east coast a few weeks ago, my kids started asking “Is this the place where we go over the huge bridge?”  Or, as we crossed any number of “large-ish” bridges:  “Was that the big bridge?”  I had been telling them, before we ever left home, about the big Confederation Bridge that stretched across from the main land (New Brunswick) into P.E.I. and they were imagining the things of fairy tales (I’m pretty sure). Continue reading The Island currently known as Prince (Edward Island).

Charlottetown

Ahhhh, Prince Edward Island. I was going to move here once upon a time. I worked for a potato grading company and they were waiting to get a contract with the PEI potato companies. My bosses were well aware of my desire to head out and take a supervisor position when they got the contract. But then I met Erick and switched to a job that was closer to home and so goes life. I believe they did eventually get the contract. Oh well. Someone else got the job. I got the guy.

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The guys have had their five baseball games booked for months already and for us girls we had one day pinned down as our day out. A spa day in Charlottetown. (We’ll add a few more days as we go along.) After 2 weeks of sitting in the car I was very ready for a massage! The guys suggested that we go out for supper too so we happily headed out for the day.

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I was kinda curious how we were going to do with navigating. Not because we can’t, but these roads are quite different and the views incredibly distracting. Erick and I took about 4 wrong turns getting to the campground. Some due to lack of signage or expecting bigger roads. (Google maps took us onto some dirt roads.) Others due to me being busy taking pictures and not watching the GPS. Can you blame me though? What is with this province being so beautiful?

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I feel like PEI is a a mix of the maritime fishing life and the prairies farming lifestyle. Erick and I decided that as much as we loved Newfoundland, PEI would probably be an easier place to adapt to. It is the small town feel I know and love.

There’s something I really notice that is different from the prairies. I can’t quite put my finger on it except to say there’s an appearance of preserving the past and preserving the landscape. Instead of pulling up all the trees to give more field space they stay and define the beautiful patchwork of the many shades of green and yellow with canola, corn, potatoes and more.

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Then there’s the abandoned barns and houses. At home they’d be bulldozed. Here they stay and I just know they all have stories to tell. They look like dollhouses. Most of the houses on the island do. So many houses I assumed were abandoned but then I noticed the lawn is mowed and cars are parked. They are simply older homes that someone still calls home. It exists everywhere, but these here in PEI felt different. I wish I could’ve gotten some pictures of them. They were usually hidden in trees along the road.

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This one was a bit past being lived in.

It reminded me of the house I spend my first 10 years of life in. We were the last to live in that house. After we moved it sat empty for years and eventually was torn down. That house had so many stories and it was so sad to see it disappear.

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That room on the second floor was mine. I remember sitting on the window ledge with my feet hanging outside just enjoying the air.

Anyway, as mentioned in previous posts, we’ve had trouble finding good WiFi signal so we took our laptops with us to the city and planned on a coffee somewhere to work on some blog posts. Though we did find some phenomenal internet speed, we misjudged how long it would take us. Totally good though. We had some amazing treats at Casa Mia Cafe before heading to the spa. Much better than the Starbucks we were going to head for. The “Bloggers Paradise” as Dale called it.

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We booked at the Grand Senses spa.

Charlottetown has a bit of a similar feel that St John’s did in Newfoundland, but with a smaller hometown touch. The historical downtown is so pretty and pedestrians rule around here.

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Pedestrians only street

The restaurants are all so good and it was hard to decide where to eat. In the end it was Merchant Man for some super tasty curry and crispy lentil tacos. (We shared, of course.)

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Beaver Tails were the dessert of choice. Yum! I felt so Canadian.

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And then a bit more walking.

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Our drive back to Cavendish was too dark to be distracted by the fields and houses so this time it was just the windy road and all the kids already in bed when we got home. A wonderful day.

The Little One Goes East…. Further East

The second portion of our trip in Newfoundland we took the little Twinnebago and headed east to the other coast. This particular adventure was built around our choice for the whale tour which was in Bay Bulls, Nfld just a short distance from St. John’s. Continue reading The Little One Goes East…. Further East

Icebergs, and Vikings, and Whales….Oh My!

When I went to do laundry the other day, I walked in on Sherri waiting for her load to finish in the dryer.  She was in the middle of a conversation with a lady who was from a different part of the province, but who had been ‘touring’ the western portion of Newfoundland with her family.  They had actually just come from the northern peninsula (which is where our family was headed next).  She talked about a dinner they had gone to called “The Great Viking Feast”.  It included a buffet of local foods, and a “show”.  Intrigued, we called ahead and made reservations for the next night. Continue reading Icebergs, and Vikings, and Whales….Oh My!

Meeting Newfoundland

As we are putting together this post, time is passing away on us. It’s tricky trying to find WiFi that is strong enough to handle uploading our pictures and I’m telling you, we can not share about this trip without a lot of pictures. It’s been so hard to choose just a few because this country of ours is just too beautiful. Continue reading Meeting Newfoundland

Day 6 – Moncton to North Sydney

This day was going to be our shortest drive yet!  According to Google Maps we needed just under 5 hours to do it.  Our experience thus far told us it would be more like 6+ hours, but still!  It sure was nice to sleep in, take our time with breakfast and packing, and get on the road by 11:00 am knowing we still had plenty of time to make it to our destination. Continue reading Day 6 – Moncton to North Sydney

Rest Stops and Reminiscing

I’m no stranger to road trips. I’ve done all sorts of road trips. Growing up in southern Manitoba we had a chicken farm with about 8000 hens in one barn for laying eggs, 4000 chicks in another barn that we would raise for laying and during the summer another 1000 “meat birds”, we called them, that would roam the yard until their appointed time. All the barns had different rotations, but there would be one point during the year that all the barns would be empty at the same time and that was perfect for a road trip.

There were bike trips to Oklahoma or BC. Mom had her bike with sidecar, Dad had his bike with sidecar and all of us kids (and depending on the year there were gradually up to 5 of us) would have our helmets and climb into the sidecar and off we’d go. On rainy days we’d have a cover that would snap on over the sidecars where we’d stay dry. We also had rain suits that my mom sewed for us for extra protection.

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Of course this picture shows the one time when Dad had a trike instead of a bike.

There was the one year we drove down to Bradenton, Florida with another family for the dads to attend a short seminary course. We were 4 siblings at that point and we took our “coupe” that whole way (no seatbelts, baby!) and lived in a camper for 3 months. I can still remember the warnings to stay away from the water just close to our camper in case an alligator would eat us. Kinda wondering now if that was legit or something exaggerated we were told to keep us away from the water.

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My sister sent me a picture this week while we’ve been travelling of all 5 of us siblings in an RV that we rented one year to drive down to Brownsville, Texas. Check out that carseat!! My sister called it a 5-gallon pail with straps. Pretty much describes it. I showed my girls and the oldest is now royally jealous that she doesn’t get to have the RV style road trip. I don’t blame her. I love our travel trailer, but as a kid it was SO much fun to have that space to move around in the back while we drove. No confined seating. I can still picture us flying down the interstate with mom bracing herself at the stove as she cooked up creamed corn and I sat in the dinette reading one of my 33 Hardy Boy mystery novels that were lined up along the full back of the camper. Now, I don’t know much about RV life and rules as that trip was my only experience, but my gut tells me the cooking part of that memory probably wasn’t allowed. MAN, those memories are hilarious!!

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Just now noticing my mom’s manicure in the shot.

I went on to love road trips when I got my own car and license. A month long trip circling around North America, a rented car taken all over Europe, driving the perimeter of the island of Bonaire just north of Venezuela, weekend trips where it was nothing to drive 16 hrs one way only to spend a day and turn around to get back for work Monday.

On a good number of these trips the one thing that I rarely experienced was rest stops and lunch breaks. My dad is and has been for almost forever, a trucker. And truckers have point A, point B and a deadline. So I became accustomed to long drives with no stops for any reason. Sometimes it was all day and then all night as well. Hey, if you can make creamed corn while driving, why on earth would you stop?!!! (I’m fairly certain there was a pot of wieners boiling there as well.)

Now, in the present, as we’re driving along I’m fully aware of every time we are able to stop and take in some of the stops along the way. I’ve been so thankful for the times that we’ve been able to see a sign for something and stop right away to check it out. Even the times we’ve stopped to eat just off to the side at a gas station have turned out to be moments of fun. Erick agreed the other day that it’s made the long days of driving a lot less of a chore and it’s something I really wanted this trip to include.

I’m not going to go into long stories about each rest stop, but I want to share pictures of some of the stops along the way so I’ll try to keep the descriptions as short as I can and let you enjoy the scenery. Heavy on the pics today.

This is Little Limestone which was actually before we had even picked up our camper, but we  have driven past this hidden gem for 9 years and never took the time to stop. Trish told us they stopped for a picnic here earlier this summer so we thought “How relaxing! Let’s stop too!”. Oh. My goodness! I live in bush, but I have NEVER seen that many mosquitos coating my legs at one time. This little detour lasted 39 seconds and included what appears to be a quick interpretive dance that I fondly refer to as “One Trillion Mosquitos: Trish Clearly Lied About the Picnic”. I’m afraid there was simply no time for artistic impression through photos. Just dance.

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Gas station lunch in Ontario. This is what happens when the girls see the other camper pull in.

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Lookout point in Ontario.

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I’m loving all the different wildflowers everywhere!

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You may have already seen some of Trish’s pics of our lunch stop at Aguasabon Falls, ON. Here’s just a couple of ours.

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My burly driver. Keeping the riff raff away. Or is HE the riff raff?

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Now, here I have some Ottawa pictures and you may be thinking, “Sherri, that’s not a rest stop.” and we might get into a small discussion about technicalities. In my opinion, it is. Yes, we had planned to go all along, but due to our delay in Sault St, Marie we had all but decided to skip Ottawa. We couldn’t miss our ferry to Newfoundland and Ottawa was supposed to be our only 2 night stop along the way with a full day to go and enjoy the sights. Instead, it became a rest stop while we motored on thru Ontario.

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Easily my favourite building on the grounds.

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Trish already mentioned about the parking fiasco (apparently we can’t always trust the visitor centre info). Erick and I had ourselves quite the little drive in downtown Ottawa with our trailer and the whole time I kept thinking “Yankes are going to hate maneuvering down these streets with their longer trailer!” I’m so glad we were far enough ahead to stop them from getting too far in. We eventually found a Wal-mart and took a cab from there. While Trish mentioned asking permission at “thier” Wal-mart, we chose to Park and Pray. It seemed to work.

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They walked right into us without knowing it was us!
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Dale was especially happy to see us.

When we got back from our walk around the Parliament building we dug into the budget for some well deserved treats that just happened to match the girls’ clothes. It’s fun and also a bit disturbing somehow, but only to me. The girls were oblivious to thoughts of food dyes.

The abandoned campground in Quebec. We stopped to get gas only to find no gas and only the most quaint little campground with garbage still in the garbage bins in the cabins and weeds grown up in front of the doors so you know no one had been there for awhile. It was so curious. Erick found a french sign up somewhere that he was pretty sure said it was a bank closure thing which is so sad. A perfect place to stop for lunch and get some fun pictures.

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Just past there was a sign for the longest covered bridge in the world. So we stopped. It was in a tiny little town and the roads weren’t necessarily made for big rigs. It was another of many moments where I’ve been glad our trailer is quite small. I rarely feel like we are too big to fit. That said, we parked the car and trailer in a parking lot close to the bridge. It was a steep decline down. Too steep for us to see to the bottom whether or not there was a spot for us to turn around. Though there was a good chance we could fit into the tunnel, we didn’t want to get to the bottom and find out we couldn’t and then have to back all the way up that steep hill. Those are situations camper nightmares are made of.

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And I’ll end with 2 look out points in Nova Scotia as we got closer to the ferry. Everything just gorgeous! We knew when we were planning this trip that the maritimes were going to be somewhere we wanted to stay. And that is definitely the case. There’s a whole lot of conversation around the campfires about moving to Newfoundland. I’ve checked into the housing market and spent a good hour in the laundry facilities last night talking with a resident about taxes here, winters, road conditions, housing… all the things I’d need to know. I joke. But then again, #EpicRoadTrip2017 was just a joke at one point too….!!!

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Day 5 – Quebec City to Moncton, NB

Our drive this day was going to be slightly shorter than what we’d been doing up until this point (think 8-9 hours rather than 10-11), and so we didn’t feel as pressured to get up at the crack of dawn to be on the road.  That being said, we also didn’t want to get stuck in the parking lot once Walmart opened and cars started coming in!  Sherri and I had a quick discussion about where we should try to camp that night (near Moncton, NB), and decided on Stonehurst Golf Course and RV Park.  We called to make reservations, and were on the road by 9:00 am. Continue reading Day 5 – Quebec City to Moncton, NB

Day 4 – to Ottawa…..and beyond!

We got up early, in hopes of catching up to Sherri and Erick, who were about 2 ¾ hours ahead of us.  By the time they were up and leaving, we were only about 45 min. behind them.

As we worked our way towards Ottawa, we wondered how we could get in to see Parliament Hill (with our trailers in tow).  Dale suggested I just call their visitor information line, and so I did.  The guy suggested 3 options (there is no parking right at Parliament Hill) Continue reading Day 4 – to Ottawa…..and beyond!