2013 … A Dream Year

angel  004What a year!  We traveled a total of 9,448 miles in Island Girl, from Florida to Maine to Canada, then south and west reaching Arizona by the end of the year.  We visited 18 states and 4 Canadian provinces.  In October we reached a couple of milestones:  one year of fulltiming and one year of blogging.

Whew!  Here’s a month-by-month recap of our dream year:

January – visited with friends and family in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale.

February – stepped back into nature at Everglades National Park.

March – a nice long stay in Funky Key West for ocean fun and an awesome air show.

April – a busy month: first north and west to the Gulf Coast of Florida for more family time, then back east to the John F. Kennedy Space Center and the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, north to St. Augustine, and north again to the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia and the low country of South Carolina, and finally to Atlanta to see old friends.

May – visited the Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee, the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Washington, D.C., then ended the month in New York City and upstate New York where we visited more family and friends.

June – a quick stop in Boston and then on to beautiful Maine.

Here was our route for the first half of the year.

July – crossed the border into Canada on the 1st, and spent the month in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.  Discovered absolutely astounding people and places.

August – visited idyllic Prince Edward Island, buggy Kouchibuguac National Park in New Brunswick, then over to Quebec to the gorgeous and oh so French Gaspé Peninsula.

September – visited the St. Lawrence River in Quebec where we saw an amazing number of whales and concluded our fantastic Canadian summer in charming Quebec City, then crossed the border back to the U.S. to enjoy the beautiful Vermont autumn.

October – continued leaf-peeping in Vermont, then began our westward journey with stops at Niagara Falls, then Cincinnati, Ohio, Louisville, Kentucky,St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri, visiting friends and family along the way.

November – a stop in Denver, where the journey began, to get annual checkups for all and check in with friends and family.  Then south to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

December – another busy month.  Traveled around New Mexico, south to Albuquerque, then further south to the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge and Las Cruces, then crossed the border to Arizona and ended our most unforgettable year in Tucson.

And here was our route for the second half

Some things we learned:

We ran a little hot this year, with an average stay of 8 nights at our 45 stops, not complaining, it was fabulous, but we’d like to slow it down a bit this year and try staying longer in each place.

We set a goal of no more than four hours driving time between stops and for the most part kept to it; averaging 185 miles per trip, but a couple of the trips were still way too long.

denver  038We stayed too far north too late into the year, and plan to head south earlier next year to avoid frigid cold and snow (although the falling snow was beautiful).

Crossing from the east coast to the west coast really took a toll on us, we were tired puppies by the time we reached Denver, and plan to stay in the West next year.

Our planning paid off in some fabulous campsites, on the other hand, we discovered that it’s best to have a balance of planned and unplanned stops.

Re-connecting with family and friends, and making new friends along the way has been one of the most important parts of our journey.

NYE2014  002And we learned to be grateful each and every day, we are so fortunate!

We wish you all a very Happy  and Healthy New Year in 2014!

~ Brenda, Hector and Angel

One Year Fulltiming!


Leaving Colorado 1

Leaving Colorado 2It’s true, we’ve now passed the one-year mark since we began our journey.  It has been a rich and full experience and yet time has passed very quickly.

Before I forget, I’ll answer a question that was asked just before we left:  What if we don’t like it?  Well, we love it.  Even though the first time I woke up in Island Girl knowing that I’d be living here for a while, my first thought was – What have I done? – I quickly came to love it and have never looked back.Isl Grl Redo  004

In fact, I was surprised at how easily I adjusted, particularly to the confined quarters. Hector and I decorated our new little 400 square foot home just as we had our other homes, and we really enjoy our interior space.

And we’re also really happy with our upgrades and our custom office space.   Hector is able to work on his Apple computer (the photographer gets the big computer) in our comfy chair by the desk, while I work on our laptop on our comfy couch simultaneously.halifax

Island Girl feels downright roomy with her 39’ length, and we have plenty of storage space.

And the journey has far exceeded our expectations. We’ve spent quality time with friends and family across the country, many of whom we’d not seen in waaay too long.  And other friends have come to visit.

Along the way we’ve also met lots of different people, learned new things, and just enjoyed spending quality time together.  We’ve visited a total of 14 states, including parts of the Midwest, South and Northeast.

We’ve experienced the lovely Arkansas autumn, Buffalo National River  024the fabulous gulf coast of Florida,Henderson Beach   080

the wild and subtle beauty of the Everglades,flower  024

and the wilder side of Florida in general. Ft Myers  056

We returned to the “black” waters of the Okefenokee Swamp,Swamp 011

and to the Great Smoky Mountains.Smokies  007

We visited the Outer Banks of North Carolina, OBX  055

and spent the beginning of our summer on the breathtaking coast of Maine.Penobscot  169

keys  021We traveled to extreme opposites; in Key West, Florida, we stood at the southernmost point of the U.S.sunset  027

And months later made it to the furthest northeast state of Maine.boothbay harbor  095

We spent just under 12 weeks in Canada, where we visited four provinces and learned a ton about our neighbor to the north.

There we saw the amazing tides of the Fundy Coast,New Brunswick117

the unique rock formations and the beautiful lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove,peggy 25

and the rugged beauty of Cape Breton Island.cape breton  030cape breton  011We traveled to the southern tip of Nova Scotia, brier 50along the gorgeous landscapes of Prince Edward Island,

PEI  161

and the spectacular Gaspé Peninsula,Perce  073

where we visited its Northern Gannet colony in Ile de Bonaventure.Perce  049

We saw the whales of the St. Lawrence River,st lawrence  115

and took many walks around beautiful Québec City.quebec city  046

And Angel visited rivers, lakes, rocky and sandy beaches, forests, went boating on various boats and ferries, and even went whale watching.River Dog  006

In total, Island Girl traveled 8,534 miles this first year.

And Hector and I have grown even closer during this journey.  Living together in such tight quarters can bring out the best or the worst in couples and sometimes both.  We’ve been married for a very long time and are very comfortable spending lots of of our time together while traveling.  Even after all of that we had a few grumpy patches along the road, but ultimately found our groove.

And, interestingly, some of the working aspects of RVing helped us to strengthen our partnership.  I named a previous post about leaving and arriving at our destinations “The Departure Dance”.  And I really do believe that there is a choreography that you both create and “perform” on a regular basis.  But it’s important that the choreography feels right for both of you.

That extends to the day-to-day chores and responsibilities as well.  Learning to support each other in a way that takes into account each of your likes, dislikes, talents and skills can make the journey much more enjoyable.

Rv Repair SedaliaAnd, not surprising to any RVers out there, we’ve discovered that things tend to go wrong in the most inconvenient of times.

The first time was on the first week we were on the road, when our water inlet broke.  Another time, our refrigerator broke down on a Sunday, the day before we planned to cross the border into Canada.

The first Hector fixed himself, the second, we found someone who was able to fix it.  But we learned that when things go wrong (not if, but when), we should:

  • Stay calm
  • Ask for advice and/or help, there is a very helpful community out there
  • Be flexible
  • Have or make a plan B

footAt the same time, it’s been difficult to be away from most of our friends and family in Denver, and we really miss them.  But we can always visit and plan to soon.

And there have been other challenges along the way; minor medical issues and having to figure out which doctor to go to in unfamiliar places.  The same for finding veterinarians.

And, less critical challenges like not having access to cell phones, internet or TV (sometimes a good thing) in some places.

But right now we wouldn’t trade this lifestyle for anything else.  And we are continually learning and growing.  For me this blog has been a huge learning experience.  I’m not the most tech savvy person, and when we began this blog, we knew nothing about blogging.  But I took on the task of figuring out how to get started, and spent several frustrating weeks using the process of elimination to figure out certain aspects of the blog.

Well, we just passed the 100 post mark on the blog.  And it’s is another example of working as a team.  Hector is in charge of the photography, I write the posts.  Then we combine the two.  From organizing how to divide the subjects to creating the final product, we support each other.   Sometimes we collaborate from the beginning, other times we work independently and get together at the end. The blog is another choreography.

departures  009

When I started writing this post, Hector wrote me a little note with some numbers and fun facts from the year.  He ended the note with “i love you still”.  And I feel the same way.

And the journey continues.

~ Brenda

Kouchibouguac National Park…Swat!


What's that buzzing sound?

What’s that buzzing sound?

What can I say about Kouchibouguac National Park (The Koosh).  It’s very pretty, by a lovely river, by some great barrier islands, with long isolated beaches, a few hiking trails and miles of  biking trails.

But, OMG, the mosquitoes!  We can’t say we’d not been warned, but it’s difficult to realize the amount of mosquitoes there until you experience it.

kouch  001The day we arrived at our campsite and started setting up, we both were attacked by mosquitoes immediately.  Really bad.  But, it was just before sunset which we know is usually the worst time for mosquitoes so there was hope.

RF-Graphic-from-DrawShop-A-happy-cartoon-mosquito-dancing-and-smiling.-7385-359508672-mosquito-cartoonWell, basically, they were bad, worse or worst.  And Canadian mosquitoes are big!   We’d encountered them before, but this was a whole other level.  And yes, they were worst at dusk, or after a rain shower, which we had a couple of while there.

As hard to believe as it may be, the mosquitoes were as bad there as in the Everglades National Park in Florida in the summer.  Only the strongest chemical mosquito repellent worked.  And I try to avoid using those really strong chemicals if possible.

As it happened, I’d been feeling a little under the weather, so I took this as a sign and took a couple of down days.  I started some French lessons in anticipation of going to Quebec, worked on the blog and on a couple of other chores.  The good news:  our campsite had a pretty view of the river out the front windows.kouch  014

Staying in also meant extra snuggle time with Angel.  But Hector was much more brave than I and did some road biking and mountain biking on the mountain bike trail and on the regular biking trail while I stayed in.  Of course he used heavy repellent and it worked pretty well, as long as he was moving.  But the little buggers bit him through the bike shorts – ouch!

kouch  003kouch  006kouch  004Well, after a couple of days, I too braved the exterior, and, after covering myself in mosquito repellent headed out with Hector to go kayaking.  There’s a little tiny barrier island across the way (they call is seal island) where lots of gray seals hang out.  The park offers a guided tour that to the island to to see them, but, since we have our own kayaks, we went on our own.

kouch  009kouch  008It was quite windy and the paddle into the wind turned out to be farther than we’d calculated but we made it out there.  Good news was; since it was windy, mosquitoes were down.   The island had a couple of pretty beaches,  and, in fact, a bunch of motorboats had anchored there.  But, alas, no gray seals.  Not a single one.

kouch  012kouch  005We checked out the beaches on both sides of the island and headed back.  The next barrier island down has a piping plover colony (it’s protected, so no one is allowed on the island) and we saw a couple of Piping Plovers, very pretty birds.  We also saw a lot of Terns and Cormorants.

kouch  010While heading back, we bumped into several other kayakers looking for gray seals.  It seems the seals are on the island at specific times, possibly according to the tides but none of us knew when.  Oops.  Well, it was still a beautiful outing and the 8½ mile paddle was a good workout for me after my lazy couple of days.

kouch  0130511-1007-2118-0632_Cartoon_of_a_Man_Running_and_Screaming_with_a_Swarm_of_Mosquitoes_on_His_Face_clipart_imageThat day right around dusk I noticed another RV arriving nearby.  The guy got out to set up, and suddenly he started doing the mosquito dance, slapping his face, swatting then covering himself up with repellent.  We know the dance.

The next day, I headed out on the bike trail with Hector.  The park’s bike trail is a fairly level trail covered in very fine gravel, and goes around the river.  In fact, this is where we took Angel for her walks – poor little Angel was surrounded by mosquitoes every time we took her out, but I think her long fur was too much for them to navigate thank goodness.

kouch  016kouch  017The bike around the river was very pretty and we spotted some bear poop, but no bears.  This is black bear country also.  And the bike ride wasn’t terrible as far as the mosquitoes.  The trick is to go out when it’s a little breezy.  And wear lots of mosquito repellent, which I did.  And I wore two pairs of shorts, heh, heh.

The day we left, we met another couple who was on their way out at the dump site.  They were from Nova Scotia and said they were leaving a day early because of the mosquitoes.  Seriously they were that bad.

kouch  018I felt a bit sorry that I didn’t fully experience this park, but I did enjoy a little of it.  And we’re not alone, we bought a shot glass at the gift shop that has giant mosquitoes and two terrified eyes peering out from a tent.   A perfect memento of our time at “the Koosh”.

~ Brenda

Goose Tongue and the Kindness of Strangers

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Tidal Salt Marsh

“There are no foreign lands.  It is the traveller only who is foreign.” Robert Louis Stevenson

One day while on the road to Cape Enrage, we noticed a lady out in the salt marsh picking some plants.  A couple of days later, we spotted someone else picking plants in the salt marsh.  By the third time we observed people picking plants out in the salt marsh, Hector’s curiosity couldn’t be contained.  So he stopped the car, got out and went over to the two gentlemen in the salt marsh and asked them what they were picking. The gentlemen, Russell and Mel, informed Hector that they were looking for sandfire greens but had not found any yet, so they’d picked some goose tongue greens instead.

New Brunswick95

Plantago Maritima

Plantago Maritima – Goose Tongue Greens

Once they found out that Hector was from Colorado and was not at all familiar with the greens they were referring to, they offered up a goose tongue green for him to taste.

And when he said he liked it, they proceeded to hand over their entire bag of greens to him.  Hector tried to talk them into just giving him a few, but they wouldn’t have it.  They claimed that it had only taken them five minutes to gather their bag full (hmmm).

New Brunswick96New Brunswick98So, after much insistence, Hector accepted them.  This all wound up in a nice conversation about what we were doing and where we were going and this corny (but adorable) joke from Mel –

A man goes to the doctor to get his brain checked out.  The doctor tells him he needs a new brain, he can get a woman’s brain for $50.00 or a man’s brain for $5,000.00.  The man, offended, asks why the discrepancy in the cost.  The doctor answers “the man’s brain has never been used.” 🙂

That evening, Hector cooked up the goose tongue greens as Mel and Russell recommended; steamed and served with butter.

Okay, I must be honest, they were a bit bitter for me (sorry, guys if you’re reading this), but I put a little balsamic vinegar on them and liked them a little better that way.  Hector was a bigger fan of these greens than I was, said they tasted like the ocean.

Throughout our travels around New Brunswick, lots of locals noticed our Colorado plates and started up conversations.  Generally, it went something like “Oh, you’re from Colorado, how do you like it here” or something like that.  All of the people we’ve met are really nice and friendly.  But I think the people here are beyond nice and friendly, they are generous.

New Brunswick99For example, the next day, we went to the Marche de Dieppe Market, which we’d read was a fantastic farmers’ market.  This is a year round market open every Saturday in a very large building in Dieppe, on the outskirts of Moncton, New Brunswick.

New Brunswick is Canada’s only official bilingual province due to this area’s French Acadian history.  All signage is in both English and French, and interestingly sometimes the English comes first, other times the French, depending upon which is the stronger influence in the particular area you are in.
New Brunswick101New Brunswick103The market, which is very much French first, has fresh fruit and vegetables, local cheeses, local meats of every type including handmade sausage, fresh baked goods, natural yogurt, fresh made juices (squeezed as you wait into the jug), wine, jams, herbs, sauces, fresh artisanal chocolates, fresh seafood, fresh eggs, and more.

New Brunswick100It was one of the best farmers’ markets we’ve been to so far. Anyhow, there was a little booth right at the entry with a representative from Really Local Harvest, the Co-op that manages the market.

Hector (who is not the least bit chatty) got into a conversation with Nicole, who handles communications and public relations for Really Local Harvest Co-op, about how much we loved it here and how nice the people were. New Brunswick104

He then proceeded to tell her about Mel and Russell and that we had tried goose tongue etc. When he mentioned they had been looking for sandfire greens without success, Nicole told us that she thought one of the vendors had them and that we really must try them.

New Brunswick106Then this very charming lady walked us inside to the other side of the building to take us to the person who she thought had the sandfire greens.  But she had sold them all.

New Brunswick102But then when she found out we were from “so far away”, she pulled a little bag out of the refrigerator and offered to sell it to us even though it was her personal bunch.   Again, Hector said no, those are yours, but she insisted.  See a pattern here?

We did convince her that we didn’t need all of them, so she sold us only part, but told us with a twinkle in her eye “you’ll wish you’d gotten all of them when you taste them.”New Brunswick105

Nicole continued to show us around “her” market, even walking us over to the ATM machine, she was so helpful.  So again what really stands out for us is how the people we’ve met here are so willing to share and to help.  It’s really quite special. And they have also been very open about themselves, and we really appreciate that also.

New Brunswick107Another vendor at the market was Joe Caissie Seafood.  Joe’s son assisted us, we asked him about the two different kinds of clams in their case and he gave us a very thorough description of  both.

New Brunswick108New Brunswick110Then we ordered some oysters and he explained how they farm their oysters in great detail and with obvious pride in his family’s company.  Because they were farmed in the ocean in floating cages, the oysters were perfectly shaped with smooth shells.  Quite unique and very yummy.

Back at Camp Lopez we enjoyed the very delicious oysters outside with our new Canadian friends David (the former Brit) and Karen (from Germany), both now from Ontario.  Great company they were!

But, back to the sandfire greens.  Again, the recommended preparation was to eat them steamed with butter.  New Brunswick109There seemed to be disagreement on this, as some people prefer them raw and plain or steamed and plain.  But we went with the original plan of steaming, and had them with the (also excellent) clams.New Brunswick111

New Brunswick112

Salicornia Europaea – Sandfire Greens

New Brunswick113You eat the sandfire greens by holding them by the roots and gently pulling the green outside off the branches.  The sandfire greens are delicious indeed, and I’m not a greens type of person.

I actually preferred them without butter, and Hector liked them with butter. The lady at the market was right, we wish we had bought the whole bunch!

So New Brunswick had much to offer, including these two greens that only grow here in the salt marshes next to the Bay of Fundy.


Flag of New Brunswick

And we would never have known about these tasty veggies let alone dined on them were it not for the kindness and generous nature of the people of New Brunswick.

~ Brenda

Lovely New Brunswick

New Brunswick31New Brunswick17Like Canada in general, the province of New Brunswick is large in size and low in population.  It encompasses about 27,453 square miles and has a population of just 751,000 people or about 27 people per square mile.New Brunswick13New Brunswick16New Brunswick19

New Brunswick11The area in and around Hopewell Cape, where we visited, much like Maine, seems to attract many artists.  And it’s no wonder, with its beautiful fields full of flowers (lots of lupine flowers), numerous lovely covered bridges, charming old buildings, pretty salt marshes, picturesque lighthouses and spectacular bay vistas.  A very bucolic place.

New Brunswick32New Brunswick12New Brunswick34New Brunswick30New Brunswick29New Brunswick33New Brunswick28New Brunswick10New Brunswick5The rainy/cool weather continued (this is July!) but gave us a chance to visit some of the many art galleries and see beautiful examples of the local art.

New Brunswick70New Brunswick69New Brunswick74Then we moved on to some of the local attractions.  The oldest lighthouse in New Brunswick is Cape Enrage, located along the Bay of Fundy coastal route.  On a clear day, there is a lovely view of Nova Scotia from the Cape.  But the first day we visited was not so clear, and the fog rolled slowly in.  In fact, we were not allowed to walk up to the lighthouse because the foghorn, which is automated, started to sound.  But since our ticket was good for two days, we returned on the next day.New Brunswick67

Cape Enrage is named after the turbulent waters that pass over a reef that continues southward from the island for about a half-mile.  It’s one of the most hazardous areas for mariners in the Bay of Fundy and many sailors have been shipwrecked there.  The light was established in 1840 and the present tower was built in 1870.  Today, it has a fixed green light that is automated, as well as the amazingly loud foghorn.

New Brunswick72New Brunswick57New Brunswick65New Brunswick78New Brunswick76New Brunswick64Cape Enrage is very unique in that a few years ago its renovation was taken over by high school and college students as a summer project.  Since then, a zip line, and rappelling and climbing equipment have been installed on the property, which has a number of cliffs around it.  You can also climb down a stairwell to the ocean at the base of the cliffs, keeping a close eye on the tide clock of course.

New Brunswick89The operation is still run by students along with some adult mentors in the summers.  The students we met are a very enthusiastic, cheerful and service oriented bunch.   They are simply having too much fun!

New Brunswick68New Brunswick75New Brunswick94New Brunswick92New Brunswick84New Brunswick87New Brunswick80This cape seems to generate its own weather, and the students confirmed that weather here changes frequently.  So we lucked out when the next day was a little clearer.  We had a very nice lunch at the restaurant in the old innkeepers’ house watching zipliners out the window.  Then we climbed up to the lighthouse and explored the area around it.  A little while later, we noticed it was getting a bit foggy and a few minutes later, a staff person arrived to let us know we’d need to climb back down shortly.

The foghorn, which faces the water, is connected to an automated system on the lighthouse that sends a beam out.  Once fog reaches a certain thickness, the beam is reflected back and automatically sounds the foghorn.  At 130 decibels the foghorn can cause hearing damage if you’re on the ocean side of it.  So we walked down and shortly thereafter, the foghorn started.  All other operations also stopped due to the fog.  But we enjoyed the view, the restaurant and the lesson on foghorns.New Brunswick62

New Brunswick91New Brunswick85New Brunswick81New Brunswick83
New Brunswick86
New Brunswick127New Brunswick124New Brunswick125New Brunswick128We also visited Fundy National Park.  In anticipation of visiting other National Parks in Canada, this year on the east coast and hopefully next year on the west coast, we bought an annual pass.

We drove through the park in search of moose one evening, alas, no Canadian moose yet.  But we scoped out a couple of hikes.

The next day we returned to Fundy National Park to hike up to Laverty Falls, the widest falls in the park, referred to as “curtain waterfalls.”  The hike is considered moderate and crosses a number of streams.  It goes through some beautiful forested areas with lots of wildflowers.   Around the streams there is lots of interesting fungi growing on the trees.New Brunswick126New Brunswick132

New Brunswick134New Brunswick131Once you reach the falls, there is an overlook from the top of the falls but also a path to a calm area at the bottom of the falls.  It was actually a very hot day and there were a number of people in the water, but I only managed to go in as far as my knees.   Frankly, it felt wonderful.New Brunswick136

New Brunswick133New Brunswick130Hector and I had brought a picnic lunch, and I munched with my legs in the refreshing water.   A couple of men with boys around 11 years old arrived, and, as they entered the area where you could look up at the waterfall, one boy said “This is something I’ll always remember”. Well said, young man.

New Brunswick148New Brunswick153Another day we hiked on the Matthews Head Trail and part of the Coastal Trail, which made a loop when combined.  This trail promised “breathtaking views of the bay” and it delivered. New Brunswick151

There were some stunning views of the cliffs over the water.  Many of them were overhanging cliffs – a part which sticks out from the rock face.  What’s really amazing is that many of the overhanging cliffs had lots and lots of trees growing on them.  Great hike!New Brunswick157New Brunswick156New Brunswick158

New Brunswick144New Brunswick141We also walked down to a tidal estuary called Point Wolfe.  Yet another place where there is a giant tidal flat and then a few hours later it is ocean again.New Brunswick147

New Brunswick146New Brunswick143New Brunswick145New Brunswick137So, thinking back on New Brunswick, I must agree with a certain wise 11 year old boy – “This is something I’ll always remember”.

~ BrendaNew Brunswick140New Brunswick138

The Bay of Fundy

New Brunswick117New Brunswick3New Brunswick2The first province we visited in Canada was New Brunswick.  Our campsite looked out over a salt marsh and a lake.  It was lovely, but had giant mosquitoes (to be honest, we’ve been experiencing huge mosquitoes since June in Maine).  We now own about six different kinds of mosquito repellent, some natural, some with Deet, some with Picardin, we’ve got it all.

New Brunswick4The Bay of Fundy is s a 170-mile long ocean bay between the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia that has the highest tides in the world.  100 billion tons of seawater flows in and out of the Bay of Fundy during one tide cycle – more than the daily combined flow of all the world’s freshwater rivers.

New Brunswick1The difference between low tide and high tide is between 30-40 feet and can rise as high as 50 feet in extreme circumstances.   As we drove through the area during low tide, we spotted many boats sitting on the ground by the docks.  The boats are tied in a special way to allow them to rise and fall with the tides.

New Brunswick39Our campNew Brunswick36 was right by one of the most visited tourist attractions, the Hopewell Rocks in the Bay of Fundy.  One of the favorite activities for visitors to the area is to “walk the ocean floor”.

Needless to say, the tidal flats are extensive.  The park has a number of rock formations, some shaped by the tides into “flowerpots”, pretty unique formations.New Brunswick38

During low tide, you can walk through and around the rock formations.  Then, during high tide, kayakers paddle through and around these same rock formations.   It’s as if these were two different places.New Brunswick40

We visited Hopewell Rocks during mid tide, and came back the next day to walk the ocean floor.  While walking around, I realized that in about 6 hours and 13 minutes, the water would be over my head in this same spot.  Such a unique experience.New Brunswick47New Brunswick49New Brunswick51New Brunswick52New Brunswick46New Brunswick37New Brunswick54

Tidal flat

Tidal flat

New Brunswick55New Brunswick53New Brunswick41New Brunswick56New Brunswick50New Brunswick43New Brunswick48

New Brunswick25New Brunswick23New Brunswick27As we visited various other beaches throughout the area, and walked the ocean floor some more, we saw many beautiful rocks in the tidal flats.  They were every color of the rainbow, some large and some small but all rounded by the constant beating of the tides.  In fact, there are a lot of “rock hounds” around here collecting the rocks.

As for us, we continue to search for sea glass (much lighter and smaller, a better fit for the motor home) and found a few small but nice pieces.New Brunswick22New Brunswick24New Brunswick26

New Brunswick114New Brunswick115Another area where we observed the high and low tides was the town of Alma, which we visited a number of times, driving to and from different destinations.  Here we saw close up the intricacies of how boats are tied off so they can rise and fall with the tides.

Tide is in

Tide is coming in

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Tide is out

Tide is going out

New Brunswick121Tide tables are readily available here for a number of reasons, not the least of which is safety.  There are certain places where you must be clear of by certain times lest you get washed away by the extreme tide.

The tide tables drive many aspects of life in this unique area.  Hector and I became very familiar with the times of low and high tides and how they changed from day to day. And we will walk the ocean floor again.

~ BrendaNew Brunswick123

Crossing the Border into Canada


We prepared for our trip to Canada by checking the official Canada Border Services Agency website, RV forums, and a couple of other websites such as this one.  Also, since we learned that many items are more expensive in Canada, we stocked up on some staples like paper towels, tissues, TP, coffee, detergents, sugar etc.

A few weeks before going to Canada we went shopping at a Trader Joe’s (which we love) and Hector decided to stock up on wine.  I had a nagging thought that this would result in some duties, but he thought it wouldn’t much matter (I was right).

xing (3)We’d also asked our mail forwarding service to send a batch of mail right at the end of our stay in the U.S. so we wouldn’t have to have mail forwarded for a little while after we arrived in Canada.

xing (2)With our pantry stocked we started to get ready for our trip the next day and then it happened; our refrigerator broke down and stopped working altogether.  And, of course, it was a Sunday and the one RV service shop in Trenton, Maine was closed.

The drive to our first stop in Canada was going to be a longer drive than we normally like to take (six hours) and our original plan was to leave very early, in case there was any delay at the border. We quickly had to develop a Plan B, which was to stop by the local RV service shop first thing in the morning and hope for the best.

One thing I’ve learned in my RV travels is to seek advice and/or help from others, so I went to the campground office and ran our plan by them for feedback.   Their advice was to detour slightly to Bangor, a much larger town, where there were several larger RV service providers.  By doing so we’d have a better chance of finding someone who would have any parts we might need in stock.

Flexibility is key when traveling in an RV.  So we went with Plan C.

We headed out early in the morning for Bangor, and Hector made a couple of calls to the RV shops on the way.  Pine Tree RV Parts and Services stood out because of their website and the fact that they were exclusively an RV service provider and not an RV dealer.  Turned out they also were the most responsive and confirmed an appointment for 11a.m. because they were handling another emergency prior to ours.  Tic-Toc.

So we prepared ourselves for the possibility of spending one or more nights in Bangor.   We arrived early for our appointment, which gave us a little time to get some cash at the ATM, fill up the car with gas and get lunch.

Refrigerator_1_tnsKarma was on our side and Dave, the owner, was able to fix our fridge.  He had to replace the motherboard, which he actually had in stock!  As a bonus, he fixed one of our fluorescent lights, an issue we’d planned to ignore for a little while.  So a couple of hours and $400 later we were off to Canada.  Way to go Pine Tree RV!

Our GPS now projected our time of arrival as 9:15p.m..  So, prior to reaching the border, we called the campground to let them know that we were going to arrive late.  Some campgrounds allow people to arrive after they close the office and some don’t.   They agreed to wait until 9:30 for us and I told them I’d check in with them later (it was about five o’clock).  At this point, I didn’t ask what would happen if we arrived after 9:30, one thing at a time.

We still had to stop to fill up the tank on the RV, as we definitely wanted to reduce the amount of gas we’d have to buy in Canada.  And, of course, the small matter of crossing the border.  On Canada Day no less.Canada_Day

We’d originally planned to cross the border in Calais, the easternmost point where you can cross from the U.S. into Canada.  Because of our detour, we crossed the border at Houlton, two crossings over from Calais.

xing 2We’d heard that these border crossings are generally pretty quiet compared to other more touristy towns.  And when we arrived, there were four lanes, two for cars, with relatively short lines, one for RV’s and trucks with no line, and one for trucks with no line.  Yay!

4e71488dd2344040b7a8d9b4a5fcb429-800The young border official at the border questioned us while giving us the penetrating stare (but nicely).  He asked for our passports, registration, and tag number.

“Where were we from?”

“Where were we going?”

“How long did we plan to stay?”

“Where were we staying?”

“Did we have any animal or vegetable products (not allowed) other than Angel, whom he referred to as Cujo?!”  – No, ha-ha.  By the way, he never asked for proof of her rabies vaccination, which is required (and we had at the ready).

“Were we carrying liquor?” – Yes

“What did we have?”  – Open bottles of liquor and unopened bottles of wine

“How many bottles of wine did we have?” – Oh, oh, I thought, here we go.  20 bottles, we were at Trader Joe’s and bought three buck chuck, blah, blah, blah.  TMI, I thought, but the guy seemed to take it in stride.

“What was the average value of all the bottles?”

imagesHe walked away and returned with a piece of paper that he asked us to take over to a nearby building to pay duties.  The good news is, even though the duty was about 80% of the total value of the bottles that were over the limit, it was still pretty cheap, since we had mostly cheap wine.xing 4

Okay, we made the border crossing fairly quickly.  The GPS now projected our arrival time at 9:45 and we were in a race against time.   We were on TransCanadian Highway 2, which, at least in this area, was a wide road with lots of trees on the side of the road and a very wide median, also with trees.

cartoon-illustration-05About fifteen minutes after crossing the border we saw a small bear run across the road about 50 yards in front of us and disappear into the median.  Very cool!  We took this as a sign that our adventure in Canada was going to be interesting and different.

xing 3So we continued, with Hector making up time by going a couple of miles above speed limit when he felt it was safe (a definite negative impact on gas mileage though). I called the campground back at 8:30 and let them know we would make 9:30.xing

xing (1)We rolled into the campground at 9:25p.m. and the wonderful folks there gave us a warm welcome in spite of them staying late to wait for us on Canada Day.  Oh, Canada.

~ Brenda