Eastern Canada in a Motorhome

June 2006


(Florida) - Ontario - Quebec - New Brunswick - Prince-Edward-Island - Nova Scotia - Maine - New Hampshire - Vermont - (Florida)

Since 1996 we have owned an American motorhome. The first one was an older Winnebago Warrior (23 foot), which we used for about six weeks each year between November and April. We traveled mainly in Florida, but also in the south from Georgia to Louisiana and into Texas. In 2002 we traded it in for a 1999 Rexhall American Clipper, 30 foot (9.15 m), that had run only 6,000 miles. Since 2003 we spend the better part of the winter on a campground in Florida, south of Orlando. Since then we have traveled less and only in central Florida.

Canada had been on our wish list for a long time. Plus many of our neighbours at our Florida place, who stay there up to six months, have invited us to visit them in Canada. Almost all of them live in Ontario, and we visited nearly all of them. Therefore some of the following report of Ontario may not be so interesting.

In six weeks we drove more than 6.000 miles or 10.000 km. Nearly half of it was the trip to Canada and the return trip. We already own a fully equipped motorhome including two bicycles; so in our planning phase, we quickly rejected alternatives such as a flight to Canada and renting a motorhome (much more expensive and crazy!) or travelling with rental cars and motels (impossible for motorhome fans!).

We had several tour books with us; the detailed maps of the US automobile club AAA for all eastern US States and Canadian provinces; the city maps of Montreal and Quebec City (partly from the ADAC in Germany, the remainder free of charge from the AAA and in Canada from the CAA on presenting the ADAC membership card) as well as the campground directory of Trailer Life. With the membership card of the Good Sam camping club we received a 10% discount on some campgrounds. However, we head for private campgrounds ONLY if there is no state park (in Canada they are called provincial park), county park etc. or these are fully occupied.

And still another preliminary remark: Yes, we rushed through everywhere much too fast. Actually it becomes very clear to me only when writing this final version, how many interesting places we drove past. Our destination was Canada and we wanted to get there as fast as possible, and we wanted to see as much as possible there. Surely one may want to spend several weeks in each of Canadas Eastern provinces, not to forget about the way from Florida to Canada and back.

And if we were to select one of the visited regions for another journey of several weeks ? Absolutely clear: Once again Nova Scotia!!!

On May 29, 2006 we fly from Duesseldorf to Orlando. There we are picked up by American friends, who take us to our winter place, where our motorhome is waiting for us in the storage since the end of March. It takes half an hour to remove the wheel covers, connect the battery etc., it starts, as if turned off yesterday! Then we go on a campsite for the next two nights. We spend the next day with preparations like washing the motorhome, checking air pressure and oil, installing the dismantled windshield wipers (dismantled not, because someone could have stolen them, but because the rubber dissolves in the summer Florida heat), shopping for food, fastening the bicycles at the rear etc. etc.

On May 31, at 10.30 a.m. we finally leave. We take the western route, following Interstate 75, heading for Toronto via Atlanta, GA, Cincinnati, OH, and Detroit MI; on the return trip we want to drive closer to the east coast.

Just before 9 p.m. we arrive at Red Top Mountain State Park north of Atlanta ($ 24). All day long it was hot, in the evening still 30° C (86° F). The hot engine heats the RV interior to 37° C (99° F), so that we turn on the roof airconditioner at once. Later we are advised to run the generator while driving and this way run the roof airconditioner all the time because the dashboard air conditioner is not able to fight such a heat. Today we drove 520 miles (830 km).

June 1st : At 6.20 a.m. we drive off. Today it gets 30° C (86° F) hot again. Soon we are in Tennessee. Between Knoxville, TN, and southern Kentucky the road goes up and down the mountains quite steeply.

We cross Kentucky and Ohio, and past Toledo, OH, we reach Michigan in the late afternoon. Suddenly the road surface is worse than on the whole trip so far, despite driving slowly the motorhome is vibrating terribly.

Between Toledo and Detroit we head for the Sterling State Park right on Lake Erie just before 7 p.m. for overnight stay. The fee is $ 22 per night plus a registration fee of $ 5 plus a "car pass" for $ 8, all in all $ 35! In the office at the park entry I discuss the $ 8 extensively, because a separate road use fee for the naturally inevitable short drive to the campground I find ridiculous. Obviously the fee can only be meant for day visitors, who drive their car to the boat ramps or for fishing. After a long back and forth this fee is generously dropped with the promise to leave in the morning at 7 a.m. Today we covered about 600 miles (960 km).

The next morning we drive off at 7 a.m. and soon reach Detroit, where we get stuck in congestion at a road construction site for the first time (and just this once on the whole trip). We see the sign “Bridge to Canada” only when it is already too late, but soon we are able to turn off at the next exit and get back. At the ramp to the „Ambassador Bridge “ over Detroit River we pay a $ 3.25 fee.

At the other end of the bridge is the Canadian border station. There are several clearance lanes and little traffic, we have only one vehicle in front of us. The custom officer sits in his box, takes our passports and stamps them. We are asked for weapons, drugs and alcohol. My hint at a sixpack of beer cans does not seem to impress him much. That´s it, and after a few minutes we are on the move again. We had been expecting more trouble here.

At 8.30 a.m. we are in Canada. We can switch from miles, gallons and Fahrenheit to kilometers, liters and Celsius, that we are used to. The road leads through Windsor first, then the freeway to Toronto begins. At noon we reach our first destination in Canada in close proximity to the town of Fergus, not far from Kitchener, west of Toronto.

Chris and Helen invited us to visit them on their farm. They grow soja and wheat, in addition they own a single-engine airplane and have their own runway on the farm beside the hangar. Of course we do not want to miss that.

With 13 to 24° C (55 to 75° F) and all sorts weather from blue sky to storm and rain we stay here for two days. With the motorhome we park at a power hookup beside the hangar. To the farm house it is a walk of almost 20 minutes, therefore our hosts offer their second car to us to get to the house.

On Saturday, June 3, we visit the Farmer´s Market in St. Jacobs. among other things. At some market stalls Mennonites dressed in their traditional black clothing offer their goods from a table beside their black carriage. A booth with a German and a Canadian flag generates our curiosity. Now we are amazed: A wide CD assortment of German folk music is on sale here. This area has a large German population.

On Sunday morning we finally make a flight from the farm over the area.

In the early afternoon we drive only one and a half hours further to Aurora to our next visit with Jack and Gail, who visited us last year in Germany. We park in front of the house on the road, since the driveway slopes somewhat.

The next morning (June 5, sunny, 14° to 25° C / 57 to 77° F) first a few small repairs on the motorhome are necessary. In the morning we had one almost flat tire, one of the valve extensions on the rear dual tires became leaky and is sealed at a tire dealer (free of charge), a shop specialized in glass repairs fixes a small stone chip in the windshield (can$ 80), in addition we lost the whole grid in our front grill (probably from the vibration in Michigan). We find such a grid in a home improvement store (can$ 7.35), cut it and fasten it this time properly with tapping screws and washers (it was only tacked before!). The competency and labour efficiency of all employees is impressive. In the US we have had somewhat different experiences, but perhaps this is because so far we had only been travelling in the southern States….

At a bank we can withdraw Canadian dollars off the ATM machine with the German EC-card and PIN. That came quite unexpectedly.

On Wednesday, June 7, at noon we continue to drive northeast, but only for two hours. Close to Fenelon Falls we visit Cam and Brenda, who are operating a campground there from May to October, which is quite secluded on a lake (however with sites for the whole season only, otherwise I would gladly recommend it).

The next day we leave at noon. Near Port Hope we come across freeway 401 running parallel to Lake Ontario. While the landscape from the border at Windsor was flat to the Toronto region, this area was quite hilly. Before entering 401 we refuel (for the first time in Canada) for 99,4 cents per liter, substantially more expensive than in the USA.

Near Cobourg we see a Walmart and stop to shop there. In the USA we are used to the Walmart super centers and now are completely disappointed, particularly from the tiny food department. Later we learn that Walmart Canada is not at all comparable with the US markets concerning the assortment, and in the future we shop at other markets.

In Cobourg, too, we stay overnight in front of the house of friends, Terry and Laraine. First we are invited to a sightseeing trip by the beautiful small town and lakeside at Lake Ontario. We like it here a lot.

June 9: Today we have steady rain until afternoon, the temperature falls from 16° C (61° F) in the morning to 11° C (52° F) in the afternoon. We continue and drive not too far into the proximity of Brighton and make our next visit to Lothar and Inge.

And the next day ? One hour further to the next visit, this time into the woods near Thomasville away from Lake Ontario to see Chris and Petra.

June 11: We really enjoyed it, but nevertheless we are glad now to have almost finished our visiting itinerary. It is overcast and cool like yesterday (10-15° C / 50-59° F). Around 2 p.m. we finally leave and take the highway 7 instead of the eastern freeway towards Ottawa. The scenery is hilly and often rocky.

Just after 5 p.m. we arrive at Camp Hither Hill (can$ 22) in South Gloucester, at the eastern edge of Ottawa.

The next day the weather is somewhat better again, but it remains hazy at 13-20° C (55-68° F). We have to drive a few miles towards the city and park the motorhome early in the morning on the huge parking lot of the South Key Mall shopping center. Around the corner from the rear end of the parking lot is a large bus station. After briefly studying the posting of the fares we decide that a daypass ($ 7.25 and/or 6 in advance) will probably not pay and we would do better with single tickets.

Soon the first bus towards downtown stops. We enter through the front door and want to buy two tickets. The driver asks, whether we are tourists and where we are from, oh yes, from Germany. He immediately prints out two daypasses, thrusts them into my hand and waves us energetically to the rear. We are stunned! Until today we wonder if perhaps the drivers have a quota of free tickets, because he surely did not pay that out of his own pocket. Even Canadian friends have not heard such a story yet.

In 15 minutes we get to the city center by traveling on a separate and intersection-free road for buses only with ramps and exits. The stops look like German urban train stations. We wonder if they converted a former railroad line here?

For several hours we roam around in Ottawa: among other things Parliament Hill, Sparks Street, Byward Market, Rideau Falls etc. Of course now on occasion we take a bus only for one station in order to use the daypass. The center looks quite European, at most of course the „English“ parliament building.

Just after 4 p.m. we return to our motorhome. Instead of returning to the campground we decide to drive on for a while, so we enter the freeway 417 towards Montreal. About 150 km further, in the province of Quebec, around 7 p.m. we arrive at Camping D´Aoust (can$ 27).

June 13: We are in Montreal. Long before entering the city we hit heavy traffic, the road surface is pummeling us, in addition they are driving here as crazy as they do in France. First we work our way uphill to Mont Royal and walk to the overlook at Grand Chalet. Perhaps it is because of the haze that we do not think it worth the effort. We struggle downhill again and drive a few miles around Montreal city. Up to the bridge over the St. Lawrence River, which of course here is named Fleuve Saint Laurent, we almost feel like we are on the Boulevard Peripherique (the circular freeway in Paris, which is permanently congested), later it gets better.

With our directory we chose Camping Alouette, because it is one of the few campgrounds in relative vicinity to the city, is located close to the freeway 20 on our way to Quebec City, and advertises a bus connection with the city. On arrival we learn that this „connection“ is a daily bus tour for can$ 40, which has to be booked one day in advance. No thanks!!

We have to drive a long way back and head for the Metro terminal in Longueil. Within a distance of almost half a mile the parking lots are full and anyway too narrow for our motorhome. After an extensive search we park in a calm residential street and walk 15 minutes back to the terminal.

The ticket-window before the stairs only sells bus tickets, the Metro tickets are sold down at the platform entrance. We buy a package of six tickets for can$ 11,50. With one change of trains we get to downtown. There we criss-cross to the old town and from there to the so-called Chinatown, which is however only a short street.

Later we take the Metro to Longueil again. From there we drive again to Camping Alouette (can$ 33.16 after a 10% Good Sam discount, the most expensive campground of our journey). At the end of this partially not so very successful day (to be wary in the choice of words), but also with hindsight, in our very personal view Montreal, in contrast to Ottawa and Quebec City, perhaps was not necessarily worth our visit.

The next morning we drive on. South of Drummondville we stay for two days at Air Soleil and visit Andre and Murielle.

June 16: With bright blue sky and 15° to 25° C (59-77° F) we drive off at 8 a.m., first northbound again, then further on the 20 towards Quebec City.

We got advice on how to get to the old town of Quebec City in the simplest way, that is with a ferry, therefore we do not follow the signs to Quebec City (73), but stay on the 20 (on the south side of the river) and leave it only at the exit Levis.

In Levis we follow the signs to the ferry. A few turns, the road slowly becomes more narrow, then it descends rather steeply to the river.

Finally we arrive at the ferry. The first two parking lots are full with cars and charge a fee. But only a few hundred meters further on the left there is a large parking lot, much room for our motorhome and even free of charge.

Already from here one has a good vista on the old town of Quebec City with the famous Chateau Frontenac, situated on the opposite side.

We walk barely ten minutes back to the ferry. It leaves every 30 minutes, exactly to the full and half hour, fare can$ 5.20 per person back and forth, travel time barely 15 minutes. The landing is direct at the old town. In the upper city, opposite the elevator, is a tourist information. There we furnish ourselves with information leaflets.

Of course we also cast a glance into the hotel Frontenac and admire an impressive lobby with dark mahogany, much brass and enormous old chandeliers.

After approximately five hours our feet are giving off clouds of smoke, so we take the next ferry back to our motorhome. Surely one could spend days here, but for one thing we are not so interested in cities and for another thing we think of our distant destination Nova Scotia.

The ferry was real good advice. Already half an hour after leaving the old town we are rolling again towards northeast, now on Rt. 132 along the St. Lawrence River. However that is somewhat disappointing. The road is quite winding, the road surface rather bad, frequently an accumulation of houses (one can hardly speak of villages) with traffic lights, well, and we do not see much of the water, everything quite unattractive. After about an hour we return to the freeway 20, where we advance fast with little traffic.

We decide to skip Riviere du Loup in order to make further progress today, and turn onto Rt. 185 toward Edmundston. The road is perfect, traffic light, the scenery hilly with much forest.

At the border to the province of New Brunswick the road becomes a four-lane road. We leave it at exit 8, in order to stay overnight in the Provincial Park De La Republique. Actually it should have been found very simply (at the exit left over the freeway, then immediately left again), but our campground directory says (wrongly) left/right, therefore we miss the small sign and end up in the village Saint Jacques, then to crown it all we ask a service-station attendant and he sends us in the wrong direction. Finally the next person questioned points the correct way back to the freeway.

At 6.30 p.m. we finally arrive. The campground (can$ 24 with electric, water only at the gate) is very green and calm. Only now we remember that we crossed the border from Eastern Time to Atlantic Time and have to set the clock one hour ahead.

June 17: Today the sky stays grey until noon, there even are a few sprinkles, in the afternoon it is sunny again (16-25° C / 61-77° F). We drive into nearby Edmundston, shop in the Atlantic supermarket and refuel (227 liters for can$ 250, wow). In St. Basil we find a large Dollarama, a shop, where everything is $ 1. The enormous assortment is not comparable with that in the US-dollar-shops. We stay for a whole hour and make a bulk purchase, before we return to the empty freeway.

What we did not know until now: Not only Quebec is French speaking, but also the western part of New Brunswick. In Edmundston only French signs in the supermarket, everybody speaks French. Only in the east of the province everything is bilingual.

Our next station is Grand Falls. The waterfall and the ravine are more or less in the village center. There is a lookout point with parking lot and visitor center as well as a small footpath with some more lookout points. Well, this is not Niagara, but it is nevertheless quite beautiful. As usual we are the only pedestrians.

We continue to Hartland. Close to the exit is the place with the allegedly longest covered bridge in the world. Close beside it is a library, where I can at last read and write some e-mails again.

We drive back to the highway 2, the Trans Canada Highway, and continue to Fredericton and Moncton. We have not seen such a road ever, a spacious new freeway without traffic; apart from the area around Fredericton and then before Moncton one can really count the other cars on the hands. Today without a lot of effort we will have covered 550 km.

Near Moncton we turn towards the sea, there are two Provincial parks situated at the waterside. We choose Murray Beach Park, since it is located closer to the bridge to Prince Edward Island than Parlee Beach Park.

The last 15 km the drive goes over a quite narrow and bumpy road, and at 6.45 p.m. we arrive at the park. The campsites with electric are situated on a hill, from where the sea is not visible. We prefer a lower site, without electric, but with a view over the water (can$ 21.50). Later we enjoy a wonderful sunset over the sea.

June 18: Abundant sunshine again, 16-25° C / 61-77° F. After a short drive we reach the 13 km long Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island (PEI). The crossing to the island is free of charge, the return trip to the mainland costs can$ 60 for a motorhome.

At the end of the bridge is a large visitor center. We provide ourselves free of charge with a listing of the provincial park campgrounds, a very good map of PEI and a city plan of Charlottetown.

On the map three round trips over PEI are suggested, which are signposted at the roads, too. We take the middle route, make frequent stops and allow ourselves some hours for it. PEI is the eastern Canadian potato growing center. The red earth and the large wild lupin fields are remarkable.

At Cavendish beach we stay somewhat longer.

Charlottetown is the capital of the smallest Canadian province of PEI, even if actually one does not guess by looking at this nice small town (15,000 inhabitants). Since it is Sunday, we find an empty parking lot beside the parliament building in the tiny center and make a longer walk around the harbor.

In the late afternoon we head for the Lord Selkirk Provincial Park in the southeast of the island. Again the campsites with electric are without a good view, so we again choose a site further down without electric, but with fantastic view over the sea (can$ 21). Directly adjacent to the campground is a golf course, the greenfee is only can$ 15. I am briefly tempted, the bag with the clubs is of course in the motorhome; I would make it before dark, but then it seems too stressful to me after all.

The weather forecast promises one and a half more sunny days, then a larger low pressure system will be here. With a heavy heart we decide to leave PEI the next morning. Still Cape Breton in the north of Nova Scotia is our destination, and by all means we want to experience it in beautiful weather.

June 19: Blue sky again, 16-28° C (61-82° F). At 5.40 a.m. we leave and after 20 minutes we arrive at Port Wood, in the southeast corner of PEI. From there twice daily the ferry goes to Caribou, Nova Scotia. The passage costs can$ 79, the ferry leaves at 6.30 a.m. sharp, travel time a little over one hour.

In Nova Scotia we take the splendidly constructed 104 eastward and in barely two hours reach the Canso Causeway, the 1.4 km long dam bridge across the Strait of Canso. On the other side the peninsula Cape Breton begins. Just behind the bridge, in Port Hastings at the traffic circle, a visitor center is on the right. The very friendly employees hold every imaginable information about Nova Scotia ready. As a matter of prudence we already pick up a city map of Halifax. Outside on the parking lot we finally catch up on our breakfast, for which it was really too early to have this morning.

We continue rather quickly on the 105 northeastward to Baddeck. We want to go to the Cape Breton Highlands National Park and drive round the northern end of Nova Scotia on the Cabot Trail. Most guidebooks describe the way in clockwise direction, we follow however the opinion that it is better in reverse, since going from east to west one always drives on the side of the roadway that is turned to the sea. This proves to be perfectly correct.

About 20 km past Baddeck we turn left onto the Cabot Trail. Suddenly the road becomes bad, narrow, winding and it goes only slowly up and down the hills. The next 30 km take nearly one hour, the sea is nowhere to be seen, and first doubts arise whether all this was such a good idea. But then suddenly the road becomes better and wonderful views of the sea open up.

The only problem is, that actually one can almost only drive, because the shoulder is too narrow for a motorhome, and the few stopping places for the most part do not offer a beautiful view.

The Cape Breton Highlands National Park begins about 50 km (31 mi) further. At the ranger station we pay can$ 7 per person.

The road now becomes substantially better. Over the next 45 km (28 mi), we see a stunning landscape. The rises and downward gradients in some parts are so steep that despite good road we can drive only 30 km (20 mi) per hour at the most. However, here there are finally a few locations for stopping.

In Cape North we leave the main road and drive about 18 km (11 mi) to Bay St. Lawrence at the most northern point of Nova Scotia. A few houses, many fishing boats, not much more than that to see here.

Just before Bay St. Lawrence the road to Meat Cove branches off. It is a 10 km (6 mi) long dead end road. Already in the travel guide I read that there, accessible only over a narrow gravel road, a small campground is situated high on the cliffs. The ranger at the national park entry had strongly advised me against going there, with a motorhome that would not be attainable. He should have refrained from that, because now definitely my curiosity and my ambition are awakened.

Already after a few curves the tarmac ends, a narrow and partially steep dirt road winds along above the sea. In some places with the large RV we advance only at pedestrian speed. Hopefully all this is worth the effort and we do not have to return without having achieved anything.

But suddenly at a bend we have a clear view of the campground.

Now the remainder of the way feels much easier. Arriving at the campground, we find that it is so hilly that there are actually only a few square yards leveled in two places, and there already two small campers are standing.

With effort we squeeze in more closely than we usually do beside one of the two cars, and try to level the motorhome at least to some extent with several supporting boards and a few stones. Two yards in front of us it drops steeply to the sea!!

After checking in (can$ 18, no electric, but restrooms and showers) we climb on a narrow path up to the adjacent mountain top (in the upper photo in the background). There I shoot some photos; unfortunately I realize only the next day that I apparently touched the lens with sweaty fingers during the climb (see below) (and likely I will be annoyed about it for eternity).

The first one from the front and/or from right, that´s us.

From above we see, unfortunately too far away, a pod of whales in the sea. Later our neighbours, two women from the Netherlands, tell us that two hours ago the whales had been in the bay right in front of the cliffs. The two have rented their pick-up-camper for three weeks. They tell us that until two days ago they spent ten days with continuous rain on PEI. What good fortune we had !

The next morning after a long time the weather is different, grey and hazy, however still quite warm (19-23° C / 66-73° F). We had considered staying here another day but with the weather like this we can as well drive on.

In Bay St. Lawrence, right across to the turn-off to Meat Cove, is a small supermarket. There we purchase a whole fresh salmon (1.6 kg / 3.5 lbs) for can$ 6,60.

We now drive south along the west coast through the national park. The road is leading steeply uphill (up to 455 m above sea level) and downhill with great lookout points, but today unfortunately it is too hazy. So in view of the weather we decide to drive on today in order to reach soon our next destination Halifax.

South of Cheticamp we leave the coast and turn left inland, in order to reach the 105 in the fastest way south of Baddeck. In Whycocomagh we stop at a gas station with a shop. Suddenly we are encircled by Indians (native Canadians). However not like in an old western movie with feather headdresses etc. In this village the descendants of the Wekoqmaq clan reside, and the shop is very busy.

We take 105 and 104 westbound and near Truro we turn onto the freeway 2 to Halifax. All day long it remains gray and hazy.

Short of Halifax, not very far from the airport, around 6 p.m. we head for the Dollar Lake Provincial Park for overnight stay. From the entry over a gravel road 3 km (1.9 mi) to the office, then another 3 km to the campsite (can$ 18, like all provincial parks in Nova Scotia without power connection).

We are expected at the campsite: As soon as we leave the motorhome, we are nearly eaten up by enormous amounts of small mosquitoes; they go into the ears, the nose; the warm white hood of the motorhome is immediately scattered with small black points. Maybe that is why we see only two other campers on the campground?

June 21: This morning dense and damp fog, but from 11 a.m. sunny again, 14-24° C (57-75° F). After a short drive we reach Halifax, the capital of the province of Nova Scotia. Only after an extended search we find a parking lot in front of the Atlantic supermarket at the harbor.

For the next three hours we explore Halifax, at first on a beautiful boardwalk along the water, then up the hill to the citadel, then back again.

Later we head on to Peggys Cove. The 40 km (25 mi) drive in a southwest direction takes longer than expected because of the narrow and winding road. The sky is blue, the sun is shining. But 2 km before Peggys Cove we suddenly find ourselves in fog. At the visitor center, to the left right behind the entry, is a large parking lot.

No wonder that this tiny picturesque fishing village is one of the most-visited attractions in Nova Scotia.

After one and a half hour we leave the place reluctantly, but today we have more plans. Well, only about 2 km past Peggys Cove the fog is gone and the sun is shining again from the blue sky. As we are told later, here it is very frequently like that.

We drive to Bridgewater, situated 90 km (56 mi) south of Halifax. Around 5.30 p.m. we arrive at Morris and Ella Marie, friends from Florida. The salmon bought two days ago is expertly prepared by Morris. We spend the night in the motorhome in front of their house.

June 22: It is sunny again, but with 12-21° somewhat cooler. Late in the morning we leave and head towards Lunenburg, only 20 km (13 mi) away. The small historical fishing and shipbuilding town was appointed in 1995 as a world cultural heritage by UNESCO.

The village spreads out from the water in terraces up the steep slope; we roam across the landmarked old town with its beautiful multicolored timber buildings.

Up on the hill, near the visitor information, there is a rather unattractive campground, but in the afternoon we prefer to drive back once more to Peggys Cove. Indeed, even today the sky clouds up again right before Peggys Cove.

Later from Peggys Cove we drive back 3 km northwards and spend the night at King Neptune´s Campground next to the water (can$ 25).

June 23: The sun is hiding, fog at first, some rain, then cloudy all day long at 13-22° C (55-73° F).

Today we want to drive a long distance towards Maine (USA). Earlier we had considered driving across Nova Scotia in order to take the ferry from Digby to St. John (New Brunswick). The calculation reads: 150 km (94 mi) trip, then can$ 200 fare for the ferry and/or 2 hrs trip, 1 hr at the ferry, 3 hrs passage. The alternative is about 450 km (281 mi) trip if we take the long route past Halifax, Amherst, Moncton to St. John. Also due to the clear vote of our friends in Bridgewater, who drive this way more frequently, we decided for the overland route.

Between Truro and Amherst the freeway goes over a mountain pass (fee can$ 5.25), past Moncton the road is empty again until shortly before St. John. In St. John we pay 35 cents at a bridge. From Peggys Cove to here we drove exactly 450 km (281 mi) in barely five hours (including a break), and completely easy on a good and quite empty road.

Close by the exit are the Reversing Falls, described in the travel book, where the river water changes its direction twice daily because of the tide. However we cannot quite comprehend the attraction of this place and so do not spend time here. I cannot refrain from taking a photo of the sign at the parking lot entry from a perspective which surely is not to be found in a brochure or a travel book.

We are hardly back in the motorhome, when it starts raining heavily and does not stop all day long, except briefly at the border.

About one hour later we arrive in St. Stephen at the border to the USA. The border crossing buildings are narrow and probably already some decades old. We must deliver our passports and park the motorhome behind the terminal building. Inside the same procedure is executed as with the entry at an airport (finger mark, photo), however as visa owners we do not need to fill in the white entry form again, it is printed out on a computer. We have to pay a US$ 6 fee per person. After 30 minutes we have our passports back, get back into the motorhome and are rolling again. To this very day we do not know why nobody took a look into the motorhome. Was there a thermal or an x-ray-camera, which could have discovered the four terrorists, who possibly sat on the floor in the back ?

We set our clocks back again one hour to Eastern Time and roll southwestbound across Maine on highway 1. A rather lonesome region, and we slowly regret having spurned the only gas station at the border. After about 30 miles one turns up in Pembroke.

We head for the first state park for overnight stay, the Cobscook Bay S.P. ($ 19). And again a new experience: We learn that in Maine all state park campgrounds do not have electric or water hookups; besides here there is only a restroom and a shower at the entrance, too far to reach by foot from the campsites.

June 24: Today we have steady rain until in the afternoon with 14-20° C (57-68° F). In Ellsworth we miss the left turnoff to highway 3 leading to the Acadia National Park, turn after the village and convince ourselves that from the east there was actually no sign. All tourists obviously approach from the west. At the southern end of Ellsworth we shop at Walmart; it is larger than in Canada, but not as assorted as we are used to. Just before 1 p.m. we are on Bar Harbor Campground ($ 30) shortly before the Acadia National Park. We simply want and/or have to sit out the steady rain today. Finally there is time to sort photos on the notebook and catch up on some travel notes.

June 25: During the night the rain has eventually stopped, in the morning it is hazy, later even the sun comes out briefly (16-20° C / 61-68° F). We drive early the few miles to the Hull visitor center at the entrance to Acadia National Park, watch a 15-min. video there and pay $ 20 for the park pass valid seven days (one pass per vehicle).

The 142 square kilometers large park has a bus network, which all pass holders can use free of charge. One line operates between the park and Ellsworth picking up people from the campgrounds and bringing them to Bar Harbor, where they can transfer to the other lines. We do not want to spend another night on the campground, however, and park the motorhome at the visitor center.

The next six hours we ride with several buses all around the park. From Sand Beach we hike one hour on a narrow path above the water to Otter Point, where we catch the bus for the return trip to Bar Harbor. This route we like best. Unfortunately it is rather foggy at the waterline.

The Bar Harbor village is too “touristy” for our liking, so we do not stay there long.

Around 3.30 p.m. we start our motorhome again and follow the coastline starting from Ellsworth past Bucksport, Belfast and Northport to Camden. A road with beautiful views. In Camden we leave the coast and turn northwest on narrow side streets. Via Liberty we reach Lake St. George State Park, where we stay overnight ($ 20).

June 26: Today steady rain again (with 16-20° C / 61-68° F) all day long. We drive off early, first to Augusta, then a few miles further to Winthrop. There we visit Phil and Sue for two hours and admire their large log home on a big forest property right on the lake; wood stairs lead down to the jetty, where a large motorboat is moored.

Afterwards, we pass by the library. There they have wireless internet, and I can sit in a comfortable armchair with my notebook, write e-mails, read German newspapers, and see what´s new in various motorhome forums. Exactly the right thing to do in a weather like this, and we stay for almost two hours.

After that the trip leads by a beautiful scenery (even with rain) across the road 17 (Livermore Falls), a narrow and completely empty road, and then over highway 2 westbound to New Hampshire. In Gorham, N.H., we make for the Timberland Camping Area for the night ($ 20.70).

June 27: Finally fair and dry again today. We drive to Mt. Washington, the highest summit in the east of North America. Since the access road is open for passenger cars only, we go round the mountain and drive via Twin Mountain to the lower terminal of the historical steam COG Railway. Since the upper half of the mountain is covered with clouds and fog (as usual, according to our travel book), we cannot decide on spending the hefty $ 57 per person for an ascent to the summit. Nevertheless we stay here for one and a half hour, because I cannot get my finger off the shutter-release of the camera.

We drive along 302 westbound, past Littleton, Woodsville and Barre to Montpellier. The road, quite steep in some parts, passes by very beautiful mountain scenery. After entering the state of Vermont we finally see the first (and only) moose of our journey beside the road. Shortly before Montpellier we enter I 89, leave it again in Burlington and take highway 7 southbound. In Vergennes we turn right on 22 and then again to the right in the direction of the bridge, that crosses the south end of Lake Champlain into the state of New York.

At Lake Champlain, still in Vermont, around 6.30 p.m. we reach the D.A.R. State Park, where we actually plan to spend the night. We drive around the park, yes, we like it here in the park-like campground. However we need a phone tonight, and there is none in the park. Therefore we first continue a few miles in order to find a phone. The recommended small restaurant at the bridge does not have one either, we are sent further to a campground. There the office is closed.

What now? Then someone comes around the corner, asks about the problem, takes out his cell phone and holds it out to me. „No problem. Just use this phone.“ In Europe we did not experience anything like that yet.

Ah well, why we are looking for a phone? On the opposite side of the lake Steve and Nancy live in a secluded place up in the mountains, and we want to announce our visit for tomorrow. On the telephone the two insist that we come tonight. We must drive off immediately, cross the bridge into New York State and half an hour later meet with them. Then we follow them for twenty minutes, through Crown Point, then continously uphill. Soon the tarmac ends, and the gravel road becomes steeper and narrower, until we finally arrive at a two-story timber home just before dark. We spend the night beside the house.

In the morning we begin to explore the 400 acre property (that is about 160 hectars!), mostly with the pickup. Steve cuts and sells timber, has his own small sawmill beside the house. Behind it a pond is dammed up, where one can canoe past beaver lodges, a little further a waterfall. In the autumn he hunts deer on his property, and the meat lasts for the remainder of the year. Yes, and in December the two drive their motorhome to a campground in Florida, where they stay near to us until April. We are like two city children, who come to a farm for the first time, marvelling and in awe. So far we only know such a life-style from books or from the TV.

To cut a long story short: We had planned to stay here for one day and one night, but we stay for a whole five days! Good that we still had some extra time.

July 2: It is really difficult, but we have to leave. In one week our return flight will leave from Florida, and apart from the calculated three days drive, as a safety measure, we want to have three extra days for the 1,500 miles (2,400 km) trip. We drive back to Vermont and follow highway 7 through Rutland to the south. At the beginning of this section we are reminded of the Bavarian region Allgau, not only by the landscape, as everywhere large pastures and cow barns are to be seen.

Continuing we cross the western end of Massachussetts. Here suddenly it looks completely different: large well maintained houses, park-like properties, a beautiful and green scenery. Exactly the same in the following small corner of Connecticut; here by the way the gasoline is $ 3.20 per gallon (in Rutland it was 2.74). We drive southwest into the state of New York and at Fishkill reach the Interstate 84 westbound; soon we are in Pennsylvania and turn onto I 81.

A little before Harrisburg we want to stay overnight in the Locust Lake State Park however we take one exit too early. Therefore we drive for a while on narrow and winding side roads, until we eventually arrive with the last daylight, and the office is long closed. We drive around the campground. The day after tomorrow will be the national holiday 4th of July, and at this long weekend nearly everything is full, just as we had already assumed. The only one of three open sites, which suits our 30 foot, is one with a sign „handicapped “. We decide that now after night has fallen nobody with a handicap is still on the road, and that we also have the excuse to have missed the sign in the dark, so we take the site.

Early in the morning we throw the envelope with the fee of $ 16 in at the entrance, and are on the road again; weather is nice today with 19-28° (66-82° F).

In Virginia we make a detour to the Shenandoah National Park. Near Front Royal the Skyline Drive ($ 15) begins. At the park entrance we read on a sign that all campgrounds are full. The road first leads some kilometers steeply up the mountain and then winds, constantly uphill and downhill, up to 1.000 m high along the mountain ridge. To both sides it drops down steeply. The view could be far, but unfortunately it is very hazy. After 25 miles in one and a half hours we decide to rather cover some distance today, as we cannot stay anywhere here overnight anyway, and return to I 81.

Tomorrow will be the national holiday, therefore we head for a campground somewhat earlier today. The Claytor Lake State Park is completely full, as feared. The Ranger tells us that today this will be the same at every park around and refers us to the two private campgrounds between the interstate and the state park. The first one does not look very inviting, so we go on to the next one.Next to the road we see vacant sites, but we have to wait 20 minutes for the owner. Then we are told the overnight rate is $ 35. Well then, we rather drive back the two miles to the first campground (Cedar Cove), where we get the last open site for $ 26,40.

July 4: Today we will cover 560 miles (900 km). The sky is blue with 19-28° C (66-82° F). On I 77 and I 95 we drive across North Carolina (Charlotte), South Carolina (Columbia) and Georgia to Florida. The road is quite empty in view of today's holiday, and apart from a few grades and descents at the beginning, the motorhome runs all day long with cruise control at 60-65 miles per hour. That leads to a record mileage today of 11 miles per gallon or, according to european calculation, 21 l/100 km. Usually with the 6.9-Liter-V10 gas engine the mileage is around 8.5 miles per gallon (26-28 l/100 km).

We reach Florida and stay overnight near Jacksonville on Kelly´s RV Park, 6 miles north of Callahan ($ 20).

July 5: We are reminded that we are in Florida again, it is fair, in the morning already 23° C (73° F), later 32° C (90° F). Since the return trip was so fast and smooth, we still have a few days left. We drive to St. Augustine and to the Anastasia State Park next to the Atlantic. We had already

been here twice in March and April and liked it very much. At noon we ride the bicycles from our campsite ($ 27) to the beach. There it is scorching hot, no whiff of a breeze, and the water is at least 27° C (81° F). We make it barely one hour. The afternoon is spent in the motorhome with the air conditioner running, then in the evening we walk along the beach once more.

The next day the temperature reaches 34° C (93° F) in the shade. In the morning we briefly go to the beach again, before we finally give up. This probably does not make much sense in the summer.

We drive to our regular place south of Orlando, where we spend the remainder of the journey, among other things, with cleaning up and preparing the motorhome, before we put it back into storage until November, and return to Germany.

Author: Wolfgang Mueller, Osceola, FL

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