(Florida) - Ontario - Quebec - New Brunswick - Prince-Edward-Island - Nova Scotia - Maine - New Hampshire - Vermont - (Florida)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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).
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.
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.
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).
The next morning we drive on. South of Drummondville we stay for two days at Air Soleil and visit Andre and Murielle.
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
course we also cast a glance into the hotel Frontenac and admire an
impressive lobby with dark mahogany, much brass and enormous old
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
But suddenly at a bend we have a clear view of the campground.
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
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
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.
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.
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 ?
The Bar Harbor village is too “touristy” for our liking, so we do not stay there long.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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).
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.
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.
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