Tag Archives: Road Trip

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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Continue reading Is Hampton Falls “THE Hamptons??”

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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

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 2 – Thunder Bay to Sault Ste. Marie

Now that it was Monday, Dale’s first priority was to call the local (Thunder Bay) GMC dealerships to see if either of them happened to have a replacement rear suspension unit in stock; and an appointment available to fix it that day.  Yep, I know – it was a long shot, but it had been weighing on his mind the whole drive the day before.  Not surprisingly, neither place had one.  The second dealership, however, looked up whether anyone else in the area was carrying one.  We asked him if he could check in Sault. Ste. Marie (as that’s where we were headed next).  In an answer to prayer, it turns out they did!  Dale quickly called that dealership.  They did indeed have the part and put it on reservation for him.  They were also able to get us in first thing the next morning to repair it.  This was going to affect our travel plans a bit, as we had another 800 kms planned for Tuesday, and we now would not be leaving until at least noon. Continue reading Day 2 – Thunder Bay to Sault Ste. Marie

A Campground Review, Rocks and 3 Things I Learned

“I love rocks!” I exclaimed today while in the Sudbury, Ontario Wal-Mart parking lot.

“Girls! Throw some rocks at Mami!! She likes rocks!”, says Erick.

The interpretation of the actual words out of my mouth leave much to be desired.

I’ve been completely enamoured with all the cut out crevices along on the roads and in Sudbury the town has walls of this cut rock all over the place. I don’t know why I find it so fascinating. It’s especially when there are all sorts of trees, shrubs and flowers growing out from the nooks and crannies. But it bugs me that I can’t just stop in the highway and take pictures. I’m forced to be content with drive-by photos through the windows.

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This involves great finesse as I quickly turn on the camera, find my focus, centre on the most artistic view I can possibly get at 90 km/hr, try to maneuver around the dead bugs all over the windshield, and the glare from the sun on the dashboard, and the dreaded crack!!

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#nofilter

This crack!!! Completely in my line of sight and today I noticed it matches the scratch across the right lens of my prescription sunglasses…… Lovely (she says in deadpan manner).

I wish I had a picture for one particular experience coming around a rocky corner right into a construction area. There in the middle of the road was the guy holding the stop sign. It all had a real Sasquatch feel to it. Perhaps it was his incredibly unruly hair or the huge grin with the lack of numerous teeth that is clearly due to previous games of chicken with cars coming around that corner! We hit the brakes pretty hard and he sat there calm as can be, big toothless grin, just daring us to run him over. It was a moment when I wish we had a dash cam… pointed at us! For all we know, we could have had a real Sasquatch sighting and we’ll never know for sure. Prayers for the guy whose clothes and hard hat he stole, I guess.

This week is really our week of long drives in our effort to get across the country and be able to spend some longer stays in the campgrounds out east. We planned it this way because we figured the beginning of the trip would be the time when we’re motivated and excited to go. The assumption is that after a few weeks we won’t be quite as excited (or the kids) for the super long drives. However, we had a longer stop than we planned in Sault St Marie, ON.

If you’ve read in a previous post about the big bang you’ll remember Dale and Trish needed to get some car work taken care of. The parts and a perfect “first thing in morning” appt were waiting for us in Sault St Marie so it gave us the chance to sleep in and relax. I have to say it sure was a nice treat. I’m starting to become accustomed to the different bed and don’t wake up as much during the night so this was probably my best sleep so far. And MUCH needed.

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The campground we stayed at was called Bell’s Point Beach Campground. It was one we called on the way to the city and not one previously booked. RV Park Reviews gives it 4.9/10. Not the best ratings, but the bonus was that it was close to the dealer Dale needed to be at early in the morning.

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You can look across the river into the states.

I would say 4/10 is a fair review. Though the scenery is beautiful, it wasn’t quite what I expected. We paid for the water/electric service and couldn’t use either so I probably should’ve gotten some money back, but I didn’t want to argue. Here’s an idea of how far we were from the tap and outlets.

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On the left is the power and the hoses are the water supply for 4 sites.

There was a fairly good size drop that we’d have to attempt to manage while going around a huge stump (just on the other side of our trailer) in order to reach our water and power. This is NOT something that we were willing to do still feeling so very, very new to backing up trailers. We should probably invest in some longer hoses and cords thought. This is not likely the only place we’d need them.

Some friendly campers from Red Deer, AB offered us an extension cord that would reach. Still no go. We’ve installed the Progressive Industries HW30C 30amp surge protector. It works.

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For those curious, this is where it was installed on our trailer.

We had low voltage issues so it kept kicking out the power. We can only assume this was because the surrounding 3-4 other campers were all plugged into the same post and it just wasn’t enough for that many people. I have to admit I was a little conflicted on how much I loved that surge protector since everyone else around us was happily enjoying the power they paid for and apparently quite oblivious about the low voltage. I should probably rather be glad that we know our camper is protected quite well from voltage issues.

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The one other reason I think that 4 is a fair rating for this campground is the general confusion when trying to find your site and the fairly “rustic” style with stumps all over the place. The guys happened to notice a guy trying to back up his camper and somehow ended up driving his pickup right onto the fire ring. For some reason they both looked at ME and said “See? That’s why spotters are important.”….. Really? So much pressure!

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Beautiful stump and many angles
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Just a few more stumps and more angles

Anyway, I can only imagine when they decided to open this campground they took all the site markers and threw them in the air and wherever they landed, there was a site! I tried to take a picture of the grounds to really showcase the feel, but I don’t know if they really do it justice. The roads are just packed down grass and trailers are parked in every angle possible. It took us forever just to figure out where we were supposed to park. Do we go lengthwise? Widthwise? Down the hill? On top of the stump? On top of the fire ring?! Should we just flip the trailer upside down? What is the best way??? This all did not help the genuine marriage test that is backing up the trailer as a married couple! Thankfully, today we are still driving the same direction, in the same vehicle.

But we’ve learned a few new things.

  1. Always check to see where your power/water is situated before you unhitch.
  2. Take the sway bars off before pulling out from under the hitch. Just in case a bar flings around (in a completely random way) and knocks out a piece of wood that you have piled under the tongue jack.
  3. When doing long drive days, take the time to do your bigger meal at lunch so that you can do the quick sandwich style for supper and you’re not trying to set up while getting HANGRY!

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If you’re an Instagram junkie, I’ve been posting a few daily pics over on my account. Feel free to go check them out. It’s my regular sewing account though, so fair warning on the sewing posts! 🙂

Day 1 – Winnipeg to Thunder Bay

 

Well, today was our first day heading into new territory.  Despite the 1000 km we’d already travelled to get to Winnipeg, it didn’t really feel like we were doing anything different until we set out from there.  (We do that Winnipeg trip at least once or twice a year to visit family.)  The day started early and with a bang!  Literally.  A bang.  Continue reading Day 1 – Winnipeg to Thunder Bay