Hello New England
Yet another month of this adventure has passed and we celebrated our three month travelversary on Tuesday. Somehow it feels both longer and shorter than three months. Time is a strange measurement while traveling, but we continue to have the most wonderful fun.
Last Friday, the 25th, we began our journey south from Quebec through the Gaspesie peninsula. It was a sunny day of driving along a river and then winding through the mountains. We hit New Brunswick in the early afternoon and were relieved to be back in English speaking territory. We overnighted in a parking lot that evening.
Our camper continues to draw the interest of people everywhere and New Brunswick was no different. We love that people approach us to ask questions and it frequently opens the conversation to all sorts of great information sharing. As introverts, this is also a great way to meet other folks.
Saturday was a mix of a travel day and exploring at Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park, home to some of the greatest tides in the world. By greatest, I mean they have some of the highest variability between their low and their high. We learned that this is caused by a combination of the shape of the area and a sort of undulation, or echoing, of the water in the area. Hopewell Rocks doesn't sit directly on the Atlantic coast, but just inside of it at the Bay of Fundy. In fact, as I was looking up information to write this, videos and pictures of tides at the Bay of Fundy were the first results for generic searches on tides.
In addition to the highly variable tides, there are impressive rock formations that have been caused by water erosion. We viewed some from the shore and as the tide started to go out, we were able to climb down to the beach and examine them first hand. You will see a lot of people in the photos because the park staff only opens the beaches when it is safe to go down, so there were a lot of people waiting.
From Hopewell Rocks, we continued our journey south, opting for the scenic route through Fundy National Park. One milestone we realized we had just met was our easternmost point of the trip. We were farther east than the continental US and due north of Puerto Rico!
Sunday was another travel day, taking us from Sussex, New Brunswick, and across the border into Maine. We've got this border crossing thing down now and breezed through without them giving us a second thought. Our last moments in Canada were beautiful. We drove through foggy, rolling green hills with interesting rock formations while listening to a CBC radio show on sheep shearing. It was perfect and made me miss Canada before we'd even left.
We had finally made it to Maine! We were both looking forward to the remote state and it did not disappoint. Their license plates even say "The Way Life Should Be" and they are spot on.
Having not previously heard of Acadia National Park and noting that it seems to be in the middle of nowhere, we assumed it would be a desolate place, but we couldn't have been more wrong. It quickly became apparent that, while very few people actually live in the area, the entire population of New England was on vacation there.
Naïvely, we made our way to Mount Desert Island, the home to Acadia National Park and the vacation town of Bar Harbor, assuming we would just roll up to the park campground and snag a site for a few nights. When we finally arrived, the campground sign said Full, and there was a line to get in. The alternatives were $100 per night KOAs, a little too rich for our blood. The park staff informed us that, starting this year, the campground was reservation only. Our hearts sank and we gave each other a worried glance. However, by some miracle there had been a cancelation and there was a site available for three nights. Yes, please! We took a moment for gratitude as we overheard her turn away the woman in the car directly behind us. It had started to rain as we set up camp, so we spent the evening getting groceries, making dinner, and planning our time there.
Maine seemed to be exactly how we had envisioned it with Atlantic harbors filled with boats for sailing or fishing, quaint little towns dotting the seaside, rolling green hills, and fog all the time. Mount Desert Island was no different and there was something familiar and comforting about it.
We knew that rain was likely throughout the day Monday, but we were determined to make the most of it. We packed our rain gear, stopped at the nature center to get recommendations from the ranger, and set out for a day of foggy and drizzly hiking.
Because so many of the hikes include significant sections of open granite which gets slippery in the rain, we opted for trails that had rock stairs built in them. We took the scenic route to Dorr Mountain, constantly watching for rain. We were completely fogged in and were fortunate that it didn't start raining until we were most of the way down. At 1200 feet, the summit was a vision in fog, but we certainly enjoyed the trail. We used the remainder of the rainy afternoon for driving the loop road around the island, checking out the park's other attractions like the beach and Thunder Hole.
We lucked out with perfect partly sunny weather on Tuesday, the icing on the cake for our official three month travel anniversary! We had a small detour to fill our propane tank, but we were fortunate that it ran out while we were sitting there, so it could have been worse. Afterward, we hit the South Ridge trail up the spine of Cadillac Mountain. At 1550 feet, Cadillac is the tallest on the island and provides beautiful vistas of the Atlantic, the rest of the park, island villages, harbors, and the other area islands.
There is also a park road that gets visitors close to the summit, so as we neared it we could see that every person on the island had also saved the day for Cadillac. According to our altimeter we were at the same elevation as the summit, but didn't have to fight the crowd, so we called it close enough and headed down the North Ridge trail. We caught the park shuttle back to our campground, showered, and headed into town for beer and burritos. It was a great day.
One of the many incredible features that make Acadia such a magical place are the variety of mosses and lichens growing on every rock and tree. They add a variety of color and texture you don't get most places. We would come around a bend in the trail and instead of seeing ferns or other ground cover in a sunny clearing, it would be filled with moss and lichens.
We had to be out of our campsite on Wednesday, so we got an early start to what turned out to be a long and stressful travel day. We were aiming for the area just north of Boston, but in order to avoid all sorts of toll roads we opted to take the highway closer to the coast that takes you through ever single vacation community along the way. There were so many people and a constant line of traffic in each direction, making something as simple as a right turn nearly impossible. We have never been so relieved to overnight in a parking lot.
Thursday was our day in Boston. We drove to one of the commuter rail stations, *just* missed our train, and parked the car and camper. We had to wait a while, but caught the next train to Boston. We received several great recommendations on what to do in Boston and immediately set out to do them. We walked the Freedom Trail, ate pastries in the big dig park, scoped out the harbor, went to Quincy Market, walked around Harvard, and then had some beer and pizza in the North End. It was a great day!
Friday was a combination travel and exploration day. Once again luck was on our side as we were somehow able to snag a campsite at the full campground in Myles Standish State Park. On top of being lucky enough to get a spot, the cost was a steal and even included hot showers!
After setting up camp we made our way to Cape Cod. Traffic was constant, but we got the feeling it gets significantly worse during peak times. We took the scenic route down the cape, stopping along the way at one of the many beaches of Cape Cod National Seashore, which stretches almost the entire length of the Cape. The water was cool and so was the wind, so we walked the beach a little and then set out traveling again.
We drove to the very tip of the Cape, stopping again at the National Seashore. This location was warmer and less crowded than the previous beach. We stood with our feet in the Atlantic, just watching the sea when suddenly we saw three seals swimming nearby! They would pop their heads up, look around, and dip back under the waves. We couldn't believe our luck. Moments later a giant dragonfly landed right on the front of my skirt. She was a beauty and continued to cling to me as we walked up the beach. I finally had to coax her onto my sandal and encourage her to fly away. It was magical.
From the beach we headed into Provincetown, making the mistake of attempting to drive on the main drag, Commercial Street. People overflowed off the sidewalks and into the narrow street. We made the first turn we could and I continue to be grateful I didn't run over anybody's toes. We had hoped to spend some time in Provincetown, but it was hopping and it would have been difficult to ditch the car, so we headed back to camp.
Yesterday was another travel day, driving through Rhode Island via Newport and Jamestown, and then down the Connecticut coast. We thought we might spend some time in either state, but it was raining the entire way and they don't seem to be much more than suburbs of New York City (I'm sure that I'm wrong about that, and that there is so much more to them, but we just weren't feeling it).
We overnighted in a parking lot and attempted to go into New York City this morning, only to find out that we would get a ticket for parking our camper at a commuter train station. We re-grouped and are now camped at Beaver Pond in Harriman State Park. We will make another attempt tomorrow.
See you on the flip side!