A Tour of the Maritime Provinces - Epilog
A Summary and Highlights
(July 10 to September 7, 2003)
Following is a summary of our 59-day tour of the Canadian Maritime Provinces with Norm and Linda Payne. I write this in the hope that it may assist anyone who may plan a trip through the Maritimes and/or plan an extended trip with other folks. We all totally enjoyed the nine weeks in the Maritimes. It is nearly impossible to say what were the favorite places as there were so many beautiful vistas along the way, but the three weeks in Newfoundland would top the list. Travel along the coast lines was always magnificent, and there was a lot of coast line in our travels.
Of course, we had some tough decisions to make along the way, and I borrow some of these from Norm:
1. do we eat mussels or lobster tonight? or both?
2. do we drive the Cabot Trail clockwise or counter-clockwise?
3. do we drink red wine or white wine tonight?
4. do we leave at 10 a.m. tomorrow or 11 a.m.?
So you see, we did have to do some thinking and decision making along the way. :-)
It was a wonderful experience to travel for nine weeks together with friends. If you followed our journey, you saw that we weren't together every second of every day, but we were together often, which allowed us to share the sights and sounds of the Maritimes. The one key ingredient is that the people traveling together have to be very compatible. I guess it's like being in an RV caravan, except you get to choose the people with whom you want to travel.
Speaking of caravans, we crossed paths with a few caravans during our journey and I got to speak to lots of folks about life in a caravan. My discussions indicated that some people loved traveling with a caravan and some others said they probably wouldn't do it again. The thing with a caravan is that you travel on a preset schedule, which may not always match the schedule on which you would like to travel. For example, one of the caravans was scheduled for an early ferry to Labrador and left the campground that we were in sometime around 5 a.m. (we heard them leave). We opted for a later ferry. With a caravan, if you are scheduled to tour a location on a certain day, you go whether it's raining or sunny. We were able to pass on rainy days and choose the days we wanted to tour. The point is that there isn't much flexibility with a caravan. However, caravans do provide lots of camaraderie and that is a big positive. Diane and I like being around people, but also prefer being flexible, so we don't see ourselves signing up to travel in a caravan anytime soon. We much prefer to travel with friends with whom we are comfortable and compatible.
Unless you are loners, we very much suggest doing special trips, such as the Maritimes, or Alaska, or anything that you would consider special, with one, or two, other couples. More than two or three rigs traveling together increases the complexity of the logistics of determining places to stay, or eat, or tour. Then you might as well join a caravan and let the caravan company handle all the logistics.
Overall, the roads were the best in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick; the worst in Newfoundland; and something in between on PEI. They ranged from excellent to poor along the way. Even the TransCanada Highway would go from excellent to poor in a matter of minutes. Some of the worst of it was in Newfoundland. You could be driving on excellent four-lane highway with wide shoulders, and then it could change to a very rough two-lane road with narrow shoulders. There were times, even on a seemingly good road, when there would be a sudden bump in the road that made you think the motorhome was going to go airborn. It didn't help that there would be a sign that said "Rough Road next 30 km". Maybe they should fix those rough areas rather than put up a sign saying it's a rough road ahead. It was quite a mystery how so many of the roads, including the secondary roads, could go from excellent, or very good, to poor, and then back again. If there was a downside to touring some of the Maritimes provinces, it was some of the roads.
Here are some statistics about our journey through the Maritimes.
Number of nights in the Maritimes: 59
Number of nights, by province: 10 on Prince Edward Island; 16 in New Brunswick; 11 in Nova Scotia; 22 in Newfoundland
Campground costs: $541.39 for an average of $9.18 per night
Number of nights with hookups: 36
Number of boondocking nights: 23 (of the 23 boondocking nights, 14 were free and 9 were fee)
Miles driven: 2966.4
Gallons of diesel fuel (Dutch Star): 436.67 (we ran the generator a lot so you can't do the mpg average from these numbers)
Cost of diesel fuel: $863.61
Cost of gasoline (Honda CR-V): $219.52
Touring costs (includes ferries, museums, etc): $853.42 of which $492.70 was for the ferries
I would have to say that we traveled more like tourists than as RV full-timers. We knew going in that we had roughly nine weeks to cover four provinces and we wanted to see as much as we could in that time frame. Other than the first and last nights, and a couple of other enroute days, we spent at least two nights when we stopped. For the record for anyone using this site in their research for a similar journey to the Maritimes, the following was our itinerary as it ended up. We started with a loose plan that changed several times as we went along.
4 nights in Mactaquac while touring the Fredericton area
7 nights in Shediac while touring Moncton, the Hopewell Rocks, and the area north of Shediac
7 nights boondocking at Cabot Beach Provincial Park on PEI
3 nights at Seal Cove Campground in Murray Harbor North on PEI
5 nights at Silver Spruce Coast-to-Coast park while touring the Cabot Trail and surrounding area
1 night boondocking beneath Table Mountain when we got off the ferry in Newfoundland
2 nights boondocking behind an Elks Lodge in Gander while touring the Twillingate area
3 nights at Paradise Farm Trailer Park in Bonavista
4 nights at Pippy Park in St. John's, 2 of which were boondocking nights
1 night boondocking in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Gander while in transit to the Viking Trail
2 nights boondocking at a magnificent location overlooking the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Parson's Pond
3 nights at Triple Falls RV Park in St. Anthony
1 night in a cottage at the Northern Light Inn in Labrador
1 night boondocking in St. Barbe when we got off the ferry from Labrador
3 nights at Gros Morne RV Park in Rocky Harbor
1 night boondocking beneath Table Mountain the night before the ferry back to Nova Scotia
6 nights boondocking at a Newmar dealership near Halifax, Nova Scotia
3 nights at Rockwood Park Campground in St. John, New Brunswick
2 nights at Ocean View Campground in St. Andrews
We never felt rushed, and we rarely were on the road before 10 a.m. on a travel day.
I'd like to say everything was perfect, but I can't. Our Dutch Stars took a beating on some of the roads, especially in Newfoundland, and may have been the cause of a leak in the refrigeration system in the Payne's Dutch Star, and causing the connection on the thermostat/high limit switch on the electric side of our hot water heater to fail. However, both engines worked flawlessly, and the chassis seemed to weather the bad roads. We were quite happy with how the rigs performed.
We use Cingular as our cell phone provider and, unfortunately, they didnn't offer a Canadian plan. So our cell phone was off from the day we crossed into Canada until the day we crossed back into Maine. However, the Paynes used AT&T as their carrier and they offered a Canadian plan for an extra $20 per month. That was a great deal. Norm was able to do email on a regular basis, and I used his phone occasionally to do our email. However, in Newfoundland, Norm found out that AT&T only had an agreement to provide service in the St. John's area, so he had cell service for only 4 of the 22 days we spent in Newfoundland.
We did find terminals available at Visitor Centers and libraries; the FMCA provided a phone jack at the rally on PEI, and there was a phone jack available in Pippy Park in St. John's, Newfoundland. It was at the FMCA rally and in Pippy Park that I was able to upload the first two Maritimes travelogs. The third one was uploaded from a pay phone at the campground in St. John, New Brunswick. It was a local call.
The people were absolutely magnificent. We met only friendly people along the way, and that was especially true in Newfoundland. Even some people we met in New Brunswick, on PEI, and in Nova Scotia who learned that we were going to Newfoundland commented that the people there would be a highlight of that part of our journey. When we were out looking for moose early one morning on a lightly traveled road, we would pull over to the side to scan the area for moose. Invariably, if a car came along with a local person in it, they would stop to ask if everything was OK. In another instance we were checking into the Triple Falls RV Park in St. Anthony when we heard a screeching sound. I looked outside and realized that the sound was rubber being dragged across asphalt. The driver of the motorhome that had just pulled out of the campground had forgotten to release the parking brakes on the car being towed behind the motorhome, so he was dragging it with the wheels locked. Well, let me tell you, the guy who was checking us in, and who also managed the campground, ran outside and took off in his pickup to catch up to the the motorhome to tell them they had a problem. Luckily, the driver of the motorhome realized the problem when he got a short way down the road and had stopped to release the brake on the car. He could have ended up with a fire in the car if he had dragged it much further.
We found that people in Newfoundland would strike up a conversation at the drop of a hat and that happened many times during our three weeks in the province. I even met a Newfoundlander along the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia who chatted with me about our upcoming visit to Newfoundland and offered tips on places to see and things to do.
TRAVEL and TOURING DAYS
One of the most important factors for people traveling together is the need to be compatible for the time at which people like to start their day. It wouldn't work very well if one couple likes to get up with the chickens and on the road by 7 a.m. while the other couple(s) likes to sleep in and get up when their bodies say it's time to get up. We already knew from previous camping experiences with Norm and Linda that we were compatible in this area because none of us likes to get up with the chickens. Except for a very few situations, such as the ferry days to/from Newfoundland, and the day Diane got us all up at 5 a.m. to go looking for moose, we didn't do any unnatural acts like getting up before the sun came up. There was one time when Norm and Linda wanted to be the first to see the sun come up in North America, which required a very early morning drive to Cape Spear. Diane and I passed on that "opportunity" and slept in. Departure time on travel days was usually in the 10 a.m. time frame, and departure times on touring days ranged anywhere from 10ish to after lunch.
Another factor is driving styles. Norm and I have very similar driving styles, not too fast, not too slow. Each of us trusted the other to lead and drive according to the weather and road conditions with the trailing rig keeping up with the leader. It could become a source of frustration if one driver drove too fast for the comfort of the other driver, or if one driver always drove slower than the pace of the lead vehicle. We had previous experience traveling with another couple when we traveled with John and Libby Veach back in 2001. John, Libby, and I had similar driving styles, which made travel days a pleasant experience.
This is another area where fellow travelers should be pretty compatible. Do you like to eat your meals as a couple, or do you like the camaraderie of other people at meal time? Do you like to eat out often, or do you have a budget and only eat out occasionally? Do you have to eat meals at specific times or are you flexible to eat at various times? If some of the travelers in the group like a regimen of three meals a day at 8 a.m., noon, and 6 p.m. while the other travelers have no such regimen, it might not be fun to try to plan meals together. Diane and I like to eat out often, and with other people, and at various times depending on what we're doing and how hungry we are. We were pretty much in synch with Norm and Linda, so we ate lots of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners together. However, there were also meals where we ate alone, either out or in the motorhomes. We had lots of days where we only ate two big meals, brunch around 11 a.m., or so, and what Diane and Linda started calling "lupper" (lunch/supper) around 3-4 p.m. We also shared several meals together at home in what has become BYOF (bring your own food) gatherings.
One of the greatest things about traveling with other people is sharing experiences of sights and sounds along the way. Most of the touring was free, but sometimes there were places that had a fee to visit the site. For the most part, we toured together, and most of it was to do the free stuff. However, there were some sites that required a fee to enter, and we toured lots of those places together, too. I remember there was one morning that Diane and I went out to mail some stuff at the post office in Bonavista and did an impromptu route through Elliston. Along the way we found Bird Island. When we got back to the campground, we told Norm and Linda about it and then returned with them in the afternoon for another look and to share the experience. Norm and Linda had their scooter with them and would occasionally go off on it to tour the area. Given that Diane and I are big movie fans, Norm and Linda tried to time the scooter rides on days when Diane and I would go see a couple of movies. It worked out fine.
HIGHLIGHTS ( in no particular order, but mostly chronological)
* first and foremost - the camaraderie of traveling with Norm and Linda
* NO TRAFFIC
* free concerts in Fredericton, Shediac, and at the FMCA Rally on PEI
* the Hopewell Rocks
* Anne of Green Gables - the Musical
* Fisherman's Wharf Restaurant lobster meal with the 60-foot salad bar
* the fishing trip
* the whale cruise
* the magnificent views along the Cabot Trail
* the ferry to/from Newfoundland
* the incredible vistas while touring the Twillingate and Bonavista areas, especially seeing an iceberg and the puffins
* seeing the dazzling display by the Aurora Borealis, aka, the Northern Lights
* boondocking on the edge of a cliff along the Gulf of St. Lawrence
* the Viking Feast, including the fun with the Viking Court
* getting screeched-in
* the great fort at the Citadel in Halifax
* meeting new people along our journey
* hooking up with old friends along the way
I'm sure I left out some highlights, but we loved just about everything about our journey through the Maritimes. The experiences, joy, and fun that we had this summer of 2003 provided us with memories that will last us for the rest of our lives. It was made even more special by sharing these experiences with our friends, Norm and Linda. I guess I would end it by saying "We'll be back".
Copyright © 2003, Roaming America with Rich & Diane Emond - All Rights Reserved
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