29 August – The Digby Waldorf settled down later in the evening and they even turned the flood-lights off for us. There were probably about 8 rigs/toy haulers parked overnight getting ready for the motorbike rally. Left Digby and continued on the Evangeline Trail heading through the Annapolis Valley – the road left the coast and continued up the river valley with more farming communities. Stopped off at Annapolis Royal for a wander around the former French then British strong-point of Fort Anne, then around the pretty little town. On the edge of town is a tidal power electric generating station – only a small axial flow turbine with an in-line generator of a few MW’s, but makes use of the 8m tides that happen twice a day in the Bay of Fundy, and which has run as a trial without major problems for ten years. A much larger station is apparently planned for the future.
Greenwood was our final destination for a visit to the aviation museum attached to the large Defence Forces Air Base. Arrived just on closing time, so got permission from the MP’s to stay overnight and are now parked among some interesting aircraft including Lancaster, Neptune and Argus, all types used for Canadian anti-submarine activities.
30 August – Had to wait until 10am for the museum to open, but the wait was well worth it. From the outside it didn’t look like there was much in the museum but a couple of hours later we finally emerged. The museum traced the history from an RCAF Station in 1942 to it’s present day status as the largest airbase in Atlantic Canada. There was lots of information about various individuals and their heroic deeds as well as the various aircraft types that they had utilised. Left the museum and by chance there was a free dump station and fresh water supply just up the road outside the local mall which we were able to make use of. Back on the road and onto to highway 101 for a few km’s of nice smooth running to Grand Pre and another UNESCO listed historical site dedicated to the Great Upheaval of the French Arcadians. Interesting area around here; the area was then and still is farmed using dykes to drain the wetlands and manage the irrigation.
We followed on from Grand Pre down to the sea at Mosquito Point where we found a perfect spot to park, overlooking the Minas Basin. A group of 3 couples arrived complete with picnic table and firewood and invited us to join their campfire, which was kind of them. We spent a pleasant evening with them – they were all involved in the local Canadian Film industry in various forms – director, editors, etc. One woman had a nice tale of how she had to manage Ed Hilary’s press engagements when he visited Canada for a week and how much she admired him.
31 August – Not too much happening on the road today – we headed for Truro and went in search of propane but had no luck there, being a Sunday. However we did find it at a camp-ground about 20 minutes away. It was quite late (probably only the second time we have ended up driving in the dark) before we finally found a place to stay – a little local Veterans Memorial Park at Bass River which had another small rig parked up there for the night as well.
01 September – Labour Day Holiday today and for Canadians the last day of summer! School goes back tomorrow. Wet and miserable start to the day with pouring rain so waited for a while for the sky to clear before setting off. Only one stop of significance today – the Joggins Fossil UNESCO listed Heritage Site. Arrived just in time to take one of the guided tours that they offer – a very knowledgeable woman explained the history of Joggins, from the carboniferous period to the coal mining times which ended around 1960. The cliffs around Joggins have a high fossil content embedded in the limestone layers and Tammy took us down to the beach and was able to point out all sorts of different fossils. The high tidal action in the area is always uncovering new finds as well as destroying others, so it is a constantly changing landscape. We were able to see trees, leaves, tracks of very early centipede like creatures and beds of tiny molluscs. There were a lot of coal seams in the area and it was mined quite heavily, with some of the miners having to travel under the sea in tunnels a mile long.
After our talk we were free to wander along the cliffs and explore for ourselves – now knowing what to look for meant that discoveries were made when hitherto we would have missed them. They had a good interpretive centre as well, with more displays of the fossils found in the area – the footprints from weird looking mammals were the most impressive – to think that these animals were around nearly 300 million years ago.
With Joggins done, there wasn’t much more to do than hit the road up to Amherst and another Waldorf for the night – being a holiday the store was closed so it was nice and quiet. The landscape through this region had opened up with a lot more farming but not really very prosperous looking; a lot of the hills were growing the wild (low bush) form of blueberries and they were in the process of harvesting them. The bushes are just starting to change colour, so the hills are tinged with red.
02 September- Spent the morning studying the next part of our journey and sorting out the best places for the fall colours in USA and then blatted along the freeway for a bit of smooth(ish!) stress free motoring through Moncton to Petitcodiac, where Bob quickly disappeared into the local Motorsport Museum. The late afternoon brought on a drive to St Martins on the Bay of Fundy coast to view a couple of covered bridges. The road was part of the Fundy Trail and yet again we were subjected to a real mix of road conditions. Finally arrived in St Martins – had a look at the lighthouse – the fog was steadily rolling in which had set off the fog horn, so not somewhere to linger as those horns are quite loud up close. The ocean was a swirl of nasty looking currents with little islands as well which would make for a treacherous shipping lane. Back down into the village, found the covered bridges – not as old as I thought they would be – these two are from 1935 and 46 but there are older ones to visit in the New England Region. Sampled the local marine takeaway specialities – done that now and don’t need to have a repeat performance.
03 September – Another damp and miserable start to the day, after we had been on the road for about 30 minutes the rain come down heavily so decided to stop and wait it out – very conveniently the local church carpark had wi-fi so we did the email stuff while we were waiting. Headed for Fredericton and their publicised Botanic Garden (should have taken note that it was garden singular), had a walk around the garden and adjoining park – the park was more interesting than the garden which didn’t really have anything to commend it. The area had a nice carpark where we were able to watch the ‘mounties’ going about their business of apprehending a local miscreant. By this time the sun had come out and we had a very lazy afternoon reading and cooking up anything that might create an issue when returning across the border. After rush hour had been, we headed for the last Waldorf stop that we will have in Canada – USA tomorrow and hopefully back to our own wi-fi hotspot which makes keeping in touch so much easier.
04 September – Quick run this morning down to the border post at St.Croix; a great decision to come across at this point as we drove straight up – no queues. The two border guards who looked at our passports got quite excited as they finally had something interesting to do. We got the very happy chappy and I don’t think we have ever had such a pleasant border encounter – the fact that it took nearly an hour wasn’t a problem – he just wanted to talk and he was also having trouble with his printer, so things took a little while. Anyway after all the pleasantries we got our next lot of 6 months stay in US, were able to keep our kiwifruit and fresh beans and were on our way into Maine. The road alignment sadly did not improve greatly on the Maine side but we carried on down the road to stop for lunch at a very pretty lake. Had a chance meeting with a lovely couple from Maryland who obviously had very good taste as they had been to NZ for a holiday and greatly enjoyed it. They kindly offered to look out some ways that we could get into some of the cities in their area, including Washington DC, without having to take Wanda into heavy traffic. A few more miles on improving roads brought us to the small town of Lincoln. No sooner had we parked in the carpark than a woman came running up to us – she had heard all about us at the border crossing! They were travelling behind us, so just had to come and say g’day – yes they were from Qld, Australia but we will forgive them for that, Had a nice chat – they had driven from LA in 20 days across to Halifax to drop off a family member at ‘varsity – that is a lot of motoring in a short time, but they were looking to have a slightly more relaxing drive back. They only have the 3 month entry so have to be careful that they are out of the USA by the stipulated date.
From Lincoln we meandered down a river valley with the hope of perhaps finding a nice boat launch site or similar but not to be, so ended up in Bangor and at Sams Club which is Walmart’s special store for members only. We need to get our front tyres replaced and Bangor was the closest city we could find. Most noticeable difference on entering back into the USA – the amount of derelict houses, dead cars and rubbish that some people here accumulate around their homes. Spoke too soon about having wi-fi access – no decent coverage in this region so far.
05 September – Task for the day – get new front tyres fitted (and a wheel alignment) as the current ones have become very misshapen and worn, and are so noisy when running on the road. It took a few takes to finally find someone who could supply and fit them without having to wait for several days, but we managed to succeed. What a difference – silent motoring again! Sought out the AAA office to see if we could get some more maps and info on Maine under the US/NZ AA reciprocal agreement. There we were recommended to view the Cole transportation museum and so set off across town. It was a really interesting museum – the Cole Family had for many years operated a transportation company and had built up a huge collection of all sots of vehicles. Fire engines, snow ploughs, delivery vehicles, cars and bikes, rail, army and agricultural machines as well as a great number of ephemeral exhibits. As seems to be usual in these places, several extremely knowledgeable volunteers kept us informed and entertained.
We decided that we would move northwards after perusing all our guff and try some forest camping for a change. Our road north was through a mix of farm land, forests and rolling hills. Stopped off at Dover-Foxcroft for supplies and then a little further on to a State Park at Peaks-Kenny. Quite a large organised camp-ground with some of the essentials that we need occasionally – dump station, water and real showers.
06 September – We know we are back in the good old USA – it isn’t birds that create the morning chorus but low flying fighter jets! Took a little wander down to the lake front and met up with a lovely family from Augusta, Maine. Hiked a little of one of the bush walks with them. Nice to talk with locals and get their take on things. Really surprised to find that their 6yr old daughter Violet had a favourite film from NZ – ‘The Queen’ – she really liked the way that we talk. Spent a nice hour or so before heading back to Wanda to do a bit of cleaning while the weather held, although it got really humid. Left the camp and headed back into Dover to find the laundromat and get the washing done – joy of joys, that is a really fun job! At least it was a reasonably wholesome one. Was standing outside Wanda watching the cars go by and got a surprise when I heard my name being called out – it was our Maine family heading back home – I think that they must have seen the threatening thunderclouds and decided to give camping for another day a miss. Headed out of Dover and towards a State Forest free camp-site – we did manage to find it, although the GPS co-ordinates from our book had us stopping in the middle of a lake! The road down to the site was a little hairy but at the end there was a boat launch and about 4 rigs, permanently set up although unoccupied. Got Wanda sorted with a nice view of our little lake.
07 September – Lovely peaceful night and lazy start to the day. Destination Kingfield was only an hour or so from our site and the museum we were heading for didn’t open until 1pm. Kingfield is only a small town but it’s claim to fame is as the residence of the Stanley family, Stanley’s of Stanley Steam cars and photographic renown. The museum is in the old school house which the boys attended, although this is no ordinary village school house; with two enormous columns outside the front door it looks more like a stately home. Inside the museum was full of details of their family’s life and their achievements. They started with wet plate photography and thought that there had to be a better way, so invented the dry plate system which proved extremely popular and became the target of Eastman who kept trying to buy their business and they decided eventually to suggest some outlandish sum which they thought would scare him off. Eastman wasn’t deterred and they sold out to him. The twin’s sister Chansonetta was a world renowned photographer and her daughter an accomplished artist, so it seems that the entire family were extremely talented. The museum was preparing for a Stanley consignment auction the next weekend so their cars were not on display, but a handful of later models were in for the auction along with a large array of steam and motoring parts. Bob was really keen to speak with the archivist who only comes in on Tuesdays so, as we had decided that this area had some good hiking, we could afford to hang around till then. What a beautiful area this part of Maine is – we travelled westwards and were within site of Canada again – not far from the border, in Quebec, is Lac Megantic where they had a dreadful railway explosion a few years back which killed nearly 50 people in the town.
We have now come into a more mountainous region – as we had descended into Kingfield we had glorious views of the northern end of the Appalachian chain of mountains. The westward road that we took through to Stratton followed a pretty river valley then climbed up a way to a chain of lakes. We had hoped to be able to stop here as our book had lots of state forest and waterside camping in the area, but the side roads down into these idyllic spots were more suitable for 4wd than our 24ft rig so we settled for a road-side rest area beside a pretty small river for the night. We are starting to get a glimpse of the ‘fall’ colours in the higher elevations – with yellow and the odd splash of red showing in the greens, so looking forward to when it becomes more pronounced although with that will come the inevitable cooler weather.
08 September – Morning chorus this morning was a procession of trucks which must have started around 5am. Not far down the road we stopped off at a trail-head for the Appalachian Trail and hiked a small part of this 2,181 mile mountain trail which stretches all the way from Georgia to Maine. We came across several groups of young men with long beards and after talking to them realised why – they had been hiking the full length of the trail, in some cases since April, all the way from the start in Georgia! It was a nice wilderness hike, through forest which was a mix of deciduous and evergreen, with some of the maples starting their colour change. Further down the road stopped at another trail-head for an easier walk along an old narrow gauge railroad track which had been turned into a walking track.
That was enough exercise for one day – stopped further down the valley road at yet another trail-head, where overnight parking is allowed – this one at the end of the little local airfield runway. The change from Atlantic to Eastern summer time since coming into USA has meant that we gained an hour, so nightfall comes much earlier and the nights have suddenly got cooler.
09 September – Headed back to Kingfield but unfortunately the archivist for the Stanley museum wasn’t able to make it in, but Bob was able to prepare a list of questions and he will get answers back via email some time in the not too distant future. I had a little walk around Kingfield, many lovely old houses but a lot of run down ones as well. The town must have been bustling in its heyday – it had a very grand Railway station (no railway) and hotel (not operating) but nothing else much in the way of shops. I had a look in the real estate’s window – you could pick up a large house on several acres from around 300K and family houses from around 150K. We headed back towards Bangor, stopping off in Skowhegan for wifi as we are still frustrated by not being able to get a Verizon signal. Picked up emails and final stop for the night in Brewer just across the river from Bangor in a Walmart and yeah!! affordable wine and creme caramel puddings again. Bob lives in hope that one day he will find a nice little country cafe whilst we are travelling but I think it is a forlorn hope. Stopped at one yesterday which was a very tired diner but had a very bubbly waitress. I found out from her that there were bears in Maine and that the ‘season’ had just started this weekend. The ‘season’ is of course the hunting season, it seems so sad that these lovely creatures become the target of hunters.