Monthly Archives: August 2016

Quebec, QC Canada – Aug. 20-24, 2016

We left Montreal mid-morning and headed up to Quebec for what was supposed to be about a 3 hour drive. The highway from Montreal to Quebec was pretty rough so we had a bit of bouncing around in the RV. Fortunately, the Allegro Bus smoothed things out a bit with its independent suspension and dynamic air shocks.

There is one bridge crossing the St. Lawrence into Quebec City. We came upon an enormous amount of traffic a couple miles from the bridge that delayed us by an hour. It was very unexpected for a Saturday. Eventually we worked our way to our campground: Camping Transit in Levis, just across the river from Old Town Quebec. As soon as we parked the RV we jumped into the Jeep and headed to the Ferry with the intent of spending a nice Saturday night in the city. The ferry is only about 10 minutes from the campground, but again we ran into unforeseen traffic and the trip took over an hour. Eventually we were able to park the car and ferry over to the city, where we discovered that fireworks would be displayed over the river at 10pm. That explained all the traffic. We also learned that there would be no ferry service back to Levi until 11:30 pm. There were so many people in town you could barely move so we took a long walk out of the old town district, to where the locals go, and found a wonderful restaurant for dinner: Graffiti. As darkness came we strolled by the Parliament and captured some nice photos of the building architecture and the Tourny Fountain. We then went into old town, where the streets had finally thinned out of people, as they were all busy getting ready for the fireworks.

After a lot of walking and a wonderful dinner we worked our way over to the riverfront and watched the fireworks display.

We got back to the campground after midnight. It was a long, but beautiful day. We are finding sunny days like these to be rare! It was surprisingly warm too, in the mid to upper 80s.

Being Sunday, and tired of the big city crowds, we decided to take a scenic drive along the St. Lawrence River, up to Tadoussac. It is about a 4 hour drive, one way, so we left early. The views along Rt 138 and Rt 362 are spectacular. The river is extremely large, almost like a lake, and there are mountains all long the edge. We were happy that we were in the Jeep, and not the RV, as we came upon many very steep mountain grades, up to 15% on Rt 362, and 11% on Rt 138. The RV could handle these, but at a snail’s pace I’m sure.

We had no set plans for the day, except to sightsee, until we were about 45 minutes outside of Baie Sainte-Catherine when I suggested that we consider taking a whale watching trip. We found a brochure in the car that indicated a cruise was leaving in 45 minutes out of Bair Sainte-Catherine. We were then on a mission. We arrived 2 minutes before departure. Charlie ran in and got tickets while I parked and grabbed my cameras. We raced on board and as soon as we felt the cold air rush across the water we realized we had left our jackets in the car. It was nearly 80 degrees on shore, but frigid on the water. So we now have new fleece jackets which we purchased on-board the ship.

It was a beautiful day for a cruise on the river. The water was calm and the skies were blue. We saw a few whales, but they never seemed to put their heads out of the water and they weren’t the large type I had hoped to see. It was neat to see all the seals though. We also saw a couple of Beluga whales. One had a baby. They didn’t come out of the water very much, so I could not get any good pictures.

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After our cruise we took the Jeep on the ferry over to Tadoussac for a little more sightseeing and then headed back home. On the way back we stopped by Port-au-Persil for a couple of sunset pictures.

For the last 2 hours of our drive back the rain returned. It was a nerve-racking drive on dark mountain roads. We were happy to get back safely.

On Monday we decided to head back over to the city for some sightseeing, with the expectation that the crowds would be much smaller. We had a great day in the city and then went back to the Campground where we cooked up some Moules and Frites to celebrate the French. By evening the weather had changed. The winds picked up and the temps dropped down into the 60s. By nighttime, the rain was back. It rained all night long.

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We took it easy on Tuesday, getting things ready for our departure to the far Eastern shores of Canada. We loved Quebec, and the area north of the city. Everybody was very friendly, the sights were beautiful and the local cuisine was excellent.

The campground was nice, but we were rarely there. We did find their close proximity to the freeway annoying, as we could hear the traffic. Because of this we kept the windows closed. Well, that and the rain.

It would be wonderful to return to the area one day and camp along the river in St. Simeon where you can enjoy the river and explore the nearby mountain ranges. It is absolutely beautiful terrain. It is hard not being able to see and do everything. We’d be here forever if we did that! We are thoroughly enjoying the time we have though!!!

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Montreal, QC Canada – Aug. 17-20, 2016

Our last day in Westport, NY was spent in the RV due to non-stop heavy rain and winds. It rained all day and all night. There were numerous severe thunderstorms all around us. We had about an hour break in the downpour and took advantage of it by getting out for dinner. We ate at the Westport Marina. As soon as we got back to the RV the downpour started again. When we awoke the next morning the rain had ended. We packed up and headed off to Montreal, Canada.

The drive through upper NY was peaceful and pretty. We had no issues getting through the Champlain US/Canada Border. The road from the border to Montreal was easy going as well. We stayed at Camping La Cle des Champs in Saint-Philippe. It is a highly rated RV campground about 30 minutes away from downtown Montreal, and across the river from city center. About 75% of the sites are owned by campers and therefore, are very nice. The rental sites, clubhouse and pool were all very nice as well. Each site had a paved porch with a dining table and 4 chairs, a stone fireplace, and a 3-person swing. While the site was narrow, we really didn’t need much more space. They offered firewood for sale, as do most campgrounds. However, this place was unique in that they gave you a huge amount of very dry wood, kindling and paper all for about $7 US.

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After settling in at the campground we took off for Montreal. It was mid afternoon so we decided to head straight for Old Town for a little sightseeing and dinner. I had been there one evening, on a business trip, many years ago. Charlie had also been there on business trips, but usually in the wintertime. Therefore, this was our first time to really explore the area. It wasn’t as nice or quaint as I had envisioned it being. There was construction everywhere and a lot of heavy industry along the water. We did enjoy our stroll though the city and found a nice restaurant for dinner. We also climbed up the 192 steps to the top of the Clock Tower. After a full day of driving and sightseeing we headed back to the campground, exhausted.

Since we had come across the border with no fruits, veggies, meat or poultry, and a limited quantity of wine, we spent the next morning shopping. We then decided to take a bike ride along the St. Lawrence River. It was very industrialized and not very scenic so we cut it short and headed back to the campground where we cooked up some fabulous mussels.

Mussels

For our last full day in the Montreal area we decided to stay on our side of the river and head over to a town called Chambly. We enjoyed a nice scenic bike ride along the canal and lake. The canal has 9 manual locks that are still operated today. We were able to see them in operation.

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We then took a tour of Fort Chambly. It is probably the nicest fort I’ve visited. Quebec did a great job turning this 18th century fort into a museum. They have costumes that you can try on to get into the spirit and lots of interactive activities.

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We had a great late lunch at a restaurant on the lake and then headed back to the Campground for dinner. We were blessed to get new neighbors from New York, as the majority of campers are French Canadian and speak little English. We had a great time getting to know Ray and Melanie and look forward to meeting up with them again on a future trip. Having dinner with them was a great end to our Montreal visit.

Our newest friends; Ray and Melanie

Our newest friends; Ray and Melanie

 

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Adirondack Mountains, NY – August 15, 2016

We finally got a day without rain so we decided to take a drive over to the Adirondacks Park area. Our first stop was going to be the Whiteface Mountain peak, via the Whiteface Veteran’s Memorial Highway. However, as we pulled up to the entrance we found the mountain top covered with thick clouds. The cost for us to travel the Highway was $23. Considering this, and the zero visibility, we turned around and headed to Saranac Lake.

We found a nice coffee shop, Origin Coffee, and I was able to spend a little time updating our blog. Afterwards we browsed the shops and found a perfect hat for Charlie!

We then headed over to Lake Placid. What a beautiful area. If we ever make our way back to this area we’d probably look for a campground closer to this area, or Keene Valley, which we also liked. We found a restaurant on the outskirts of town, across from the lake and grabbed a late lunch. As we drove out of town we passed the Olympic Ski Jump. Seeing it in person gave me a whole new perspective of the sport. It is amazingly tall and steep.

Just outside of Keene Valley we stopped and decided to hike up a mountain. The hike turned out to be fairly aggressive, with steep slopes over many rocks. It was late in the afternoon so we limited the hike to a couple of hours, which got us back to the car by dusk. As we hiked up the mountain we were rewarded with gorgeous views. There are so many hiking trails in this area. We’d love to spend a summer here hiking all 46 Adirondack peaks.

Adirondacks-7

After a long day of sightseeing and hiking we headed back to Westport. Before we got back to the campground though we decided to stop by the waterfront. There is a small Marina there, with a nice outdoor restaurant. Next to that is a local beach. From there, I was able to get a few good shots of the lake. What a gorgeous evening.

Westport NY-2

Westport NY

The campground is just a few minutes away from the marina. On the way there you pass an old school house. It is the oldest school in Essex County, built in 1816 of native limestone, last used in 1916.

Westport NY Schoolhouse

 

From the schoolhouse parking lot we were able to watch a beautiful sunset over the mountains, across fields of flowers.

Westport NY-4

Westport NY-3

Needless to say, we were exhausted when we got back to the RV!

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New York State – Aug 11-14, 2016

August 11th – We spent last night at Twin Groves Campground in Pine Grove, PA. We were happy to get a pull-in site where we did not have to unhook the Jeep, as we had no plans of touring the area. Rain was in the forecast and it was very hot and humid. In the morning, after a night of non-stop rain, we left Pine Grove and headed up to Saugerties, NY arriving early afternoon. We arrived right along with another downpour of rain. We can’t seem to get away from it. We backed the RV into our spot and jumped into the car, as we wanted to get over to Rhinebeck Aerodome for a tour.

Charlie enjoyed seeing all of the Vintage WWI planes. The Aerodome does a spectacular job of displaying the planes. They have 3 large hangars, and indoor museum, and many outdoor structures you can walk through. On the weekends they actually fly some of the planes. They also have a number of old cars and motorcycles from the WWI era. We were blessed with no rain during our tour, but it sure was hot and humid.

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Following the tour we drove onward, to the city of Rhinebeck. Of course it started to pour down rain just as we arrived. We searched out a coffee shop and found Samuels; a quaint little coffee/candy shop in a quaint little town. The shelves were stocked with candy from my childhood. The shop was colorful and inviting. I loved it. We enjoyed coffee and toffees while waiting for the rain to cease.

We then strolled down the street and found what is apparently the oldest Inn in the US. We went in and found a nice little bar to have a drink.

We arrived back at the campground just as, you guessed it, the clouds opened up and dumped a ton of rain on us. We thought it would never end.

August 12th – We headed up to Albany, NY and parked the RV in a Walmart parking lot, unhooked the Jeep and headed over to see a business associate of Charlie’s for lunch. I left a little early and headed up to Saratoga Springs to visit some of my old work colleagues. It was great to have an opportunity to see everybody. Afterwards, Charlie and I met up, hooked up the Jeep to the RV, and hit the road. We drove up to Westport, NY where we will be staying for 5 days. Our campground, Barber Homestead, is right on Lake Champlain, although the lake is hidden behind trees for the most part. The park is surrounded by rolling fields of farm land, with mountains in the background. It is a very pretty area. The weather for the weekend is predicted to be hot and wet.

August 13th – We caught a break in the rain and decided to head out for a scenic drive. Actually, we were in search of a coffee shop that offered WiFi, as the internet at the campground was lackluster and there is no Cell Service (for AT&T). We drove up to Essex, NY and found the Pink Pig Café. We also found many pretty flowers, and what we thought to be unique trees, throughout the village.

After our coffee break we drove up to the AuSable Chasm. It is considered to be NY’s version of the Grand Canyon. Of course when we arrived, so did the ominously dark clouds. We strolled through the museum area and snapped a picture of the AuSable River, but declined to take the walking tours down into the Chasm area due to the pending storm.

Ausable River

We headed back to the campground and got into the RV just as the rain started again. Can’t seem to get away from it. We have been fortunate enough though to get many activities in during the rain breaks.

August 14th – It looks like the rain might hold off today so we are heading over to Burlington, VT for the Air Show. We decided to drive, as opposed to taking the ferry since we wanted to see the countryside. We stumbled upon Crown Point, a historic site where they were hosting a Revolutionary battle. They went all out, putting up tents and even camping out there. It was pretty neat to experience.

The rain held off for the air show. We enjoyed watching the jets and strolling through Burlington. Funny story – as we pulled into the city I told Charlie ‘I’ve been here before.’ Turns out, I had a business meeting here a few years ago. I had totally forgotten. That’s how distant work is from my mind.

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After a great day in Burlintgon, VT we headed back to the Campground and cooked up some Pecan Crusted Trout. Before we left Atlanta I stocked up on frozen seafood from Kathleen’s Seafood Store in John’s Creek, GA (http://www.kathleenscatch.com/). I will be sad when we run out, as the quality of her seafood is exceptionally high. Then again, I’m sure we will get our fair share of awesome seafood in PEI, Nova Scotia and Bar Harbor!

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Hiawassee, GA to Christiansburg, VA & Whitebarrel Winery – Aug. 9, 2016

This was day 1 of our nearly 3 month Canada Maritimes trip. We had to close up the Lake House and winterize the boat. The service shop was quite surprised when we requested a winterizing appointment in the beginning of August. We will miss the lake. August through October are great months to be in the mountains and on the lake. However, I’m sure we will enjoy our first major RV adventure in the Northeast. I can’t wait to experience Fall Colors in Nova Scotia and Bar Harbor, ME.

Maritime prep-boat

Of course I had to make some cookie dough balls to take with us. It is funny how we rarely ever ate snacks before, but with the RV we seem to enjoy an after dinner dessert on occasion. When we do, I’ll pull a couple of cookie balls out of the freezer, pop them in the oven and top them with ice cream :-). I hope that all of the hiking and biking we will be doing on our trip will counteract the implications of this new habit.

Maritime prep-cookies

OK, so now the cookie balls are in the freezer and we are on the road when I figure out that we are about to drive right by an apple orchard we discovered, and fell in love with, last year. It is Barber Orchards in Waynesville, NC. We pull up Google Earth and determine that there is ample parking nearby for the RV. I run in and grab a dozen apple cinnamon donuts, apple cider and then throw in some fruit and veggies for good measure. We quickly eat 2 of the donuts and throw the rest in the freezer, which is now getting quite full of food we should not be eating, but will thoroughly enjoy!

We continued onward via I-26 through Cherokee National Forest, cutting through NC and TN. It was a beautiful drive with sights of misty fog lying down in the mountains.

We spent our first night of this journey boondocking at Whitebarrel Winery, outside of Christiansburg, VA. This small winery participates in the Harvest Host program (www.harvesthost.com) and therefore, offers their parking lot to RVers for overnight stays. We arrived early afternoon, enjoyed a wine tasting and purchased a couple bottles of wine. We then drove the Jeep over to Blacksburg, VA, about 20 minutes down the road. We had a nice date night. We went to the show and saw Jason Bourne and then had dinner at Bull and Bones – Brewhaus & Grill.

It was a good first day!

 

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Maritimes – Aug through October, 2016

It is hard to believe that our departure date, August 9th, is upon us. We’ve been planning this trip since late last year, when we ordered our RV. We figured it would be good to stay on the East Coast for our first big trip, and I’ve always wanted to see Fall Colors in the Northeast. Below is the roundtrip route we will be following. We’ll be spending nearly a week on Lake Champlain in upper NY before entering Canada. We’ll then visit Montreal and Quebec, each for a few days, before getting to Prince Edward Island. After a week on PEI we will head over to Nova Scotia where we will spend the month of September. Then it is onto Bar Harbor, ME and Acadia National Park for the first 10 days of October. We’ll end our trip with a stay at Mountain Falls Luxury RV Resort in Lake Toxaway, NC in mid-October.

Stay tuned for lots of pictures and posts!

 

Travel Route-1

 

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