DESTINATIONS PART 1 — Where have you been

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the seriesRVers Choices
Old Faithful in Yellowstone -- right on time

Old Faithful in Yellowstone — right on time

By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers*

WHAT ARE RVers FAVORITE DESTINATIONS?  I asked RVers two questions via the Internet.  Responses poured in from more than 200 other travelers.  Question No. 1 was, “What is your favorite RV destination?”, which I’ll talk about today.  PART II is responses to the second question, “Where are you planning to go?”

Topping the immediate itinerary list is Yellowstone National Park.  It’s gratifying to realize that every one of the top responses would be on our list of favorites, although not necessarily in the order of voting.  Meanwhile, some of our favorites – the Ozarks Mountain region of Arkansas, for instance — was rarely mentioned.  Bryce Canyon, the Oregon Coast, the Michigan Upper Peninsula and the route to Alaska through British Columbia are definitely high on our list, but didn’t make the top five.

Music all around in a Mountain View, Ark., "pickin' shed"

Music all around in a Mountain View, Ark., “pickin’ shed”

Why didn’t the Ozarks get the recognition we feel it deserves?  I would attribute it to differences in our likes, dislikes and reasons for traveling in recreational vehicles.  Before we started our first cross-country trip in our get-acquainted-with-RVing 22-footer, I told Monique, “You’re going to love Arkansas.”  … and she did!  As soon as we crossed the state line from Missouri, the beauty of the serrated, thickly forested hills enthralled her.  When we stopped at the usual travel spots on our way to exquisite Blanchard Springs Caverns, she felt the warm reception from everyone she met.  And when we parked in Mountain View, she was swathed by the loving folk music wafting from throughout the town and in the “Pickin’ Shed.”

This August when, on our way westward from the Canadian Maritimes, I complained that I was tired of staring straight ahead at interstate highways.  A jolt of joy surged through me when she asked, “Do you want to take a detour to Mountain View?”   Of the thousand places we’ve been, I think that little happenin’ town is my favorite.

Now to list places that got the highest number of responses in that online survey after

Spectacular scenery at Bryce Canyon

Spectacular scenery at Bryce Canyon

Yellowstone: 2) Bryce Canyon was often mentioned, and it’s definitely among our favorites.  To me it is the brightest gem in the crown of Southern Utah parks, which include Zion, Capitol Reef and Arches.  3) The Oregon Coast is spectacular, but probably not so different than Northern California and Washington State.  Why it was singled out over its neighbors, I suspect, is there are fewer other must-see places competing for the traveler’s interest (Columbia Gorge between Oregon and Washington and the Cascades are worth a few days on its own.)

One of my favorite memories -- the Oregon Coast offers serenity in the fog

One of my favorite memories — the Oregon Coast offers serenity in the fog

4) “Uppies,” as the denizens of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula are known, are fiercely loyal to their spit of land among the Great Lakes, and they have a right to be proud.  It’s a different kind of place, a secluded woodland away from it all.

Michigan's Upper Peninsula is a different kind of place with some unconventional folks

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is a different kind of place with some unconventional folks

5)  As for the inland roads up to Alaska through British Columbia and the Yukon by way of

The Alaskan Coastal areas are unforgetable

The Alaskan Coastal areas are unforgetable

Banff and Lake Louise, I vote it as the most beautiful scenery that we’ve seen in North America.  That leads you to ask, “What about Alaska itself?” Alaska is friendly.  The people there are, well, Alaskans, quite a bit more independent, more “I-can-do-anything” types.  When it’s 60degrees below and you have sled dogs to care for, you’ve got to be heartier than us lower-48ers.  There are adventures in Alaska around every curve.

1.Glacier National Park’s Weeping Wall greets motorists on the Road to the Sun – but park your RV and take your tow on this narrow, steep drive.

Glacier National Park’s Weeping Wall greets motorists on the Road to the Sun – but park your RV and take your tow on this narrow, steep drive.

The top pick in the survey, Yellowstone National Park, is what I consider “Nature’s Amusement Park.”  It’s miles of almost unbelievable unique colorful formations, plus bison, elk, moose, bear and other critters rarely seen in such abundance around the contiguous states.  It also has campgrounds with hook-ups, making it more popular than many national parks.

Stay tuned to find out what the RV community named (in my unofficial survey) THE NUMBER ONE PLACE TO TRAVEL IN THEIR RV.

As for the * Asterisk at the top, let me take a moment to explain that Monique is my “Cruel Editor!”  She fixes punctuation and spelling, inserts words that I forget to put in, and scratches out sentences that she finds offensive in one way or another.  Cruel, but I agree with her changes 99% of the time.  She definitely earns having her name included in the creation of my blogs and articles.

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

CANADA’S ATLANTIC PROVINCES – A WRAP-UP – PART IV

This entry is part 16 of 16 in the seriesThe Canadian Atlantic Provinces

By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers

I’m going to wrap up this series about the Maritime plus Newfoundland-Labrador with a quick list of things that are indelibly etched in our minds.

Shuffin' Off

The poem above by David Boyd is what I consider symbolic of the way of life throughout most of these four isolated provinces that touch the Atlantic Ocean and its maritime arms.  It’s my impression that the people of this land are fighting valiantly to retain their independence and the lifestyle that has manifested for more than 400 years.  It’s a struggle.

David Boyd, the poem’s author, is a fighter – he has spent years and great energy preserving the historic fishing culture that generations in his family have enjoyed.  A tough, but very satisfying existence for the fishermen that, for many reasons, is losing out to a complex tapestry of current conditions.  David is the proprietor of the Prime Berth Heritage Centre in Twillingate, Newfoundland.  Go to the website www.primeberth.com for extensive information, more than I can explain in a blog.

TOWNS – I’m going to be brief, since I’ve written about all of these over the past four months:

A typical Newfoundland village hugging the bright blue waters

A typical Newfoundland village hugging the bright blue waters 

Twillingate, NF, was a favorite, a small town center of activity and interesting shops, plus the site of one of our favorite mini-hikes across from Peyton’s Woods RV Park.  It was also where we were introduced to Ugly Sticks, which I have written about several times.

St. John’s, NF, probably had more interesting sights than any other city.  I would call it a definite “must visit.”  (Not to be confused with St. John, NB, which was also interesting.)

Lunenburg, NS, with its seaside downtown and beautiful gardens, plus nearby beautiful Mahone Bay and the Blue Rocks.

Bonavista – Very interesting town with the St. Matthew’s Legacy, a typical Newfoundland small town with traditional structures.

Hikes — Maybe “strolls” is a better term, since we didn’t have extensive time to wander far and wide, but we did take mild excursions to immerse ourselves in the pastoral surroundings.

Cape Onion, NF. The grassy trail takes off from the historic and critically reviewed Adams House, bordering the shoreline and then ascending via wooden steps to a meadow high above the aqua-green waters pounding the rocks below.

Elliston and Spillar’s Cape, NF – We were the “early birds” arriving at the cliff across

Lighthouses -- like "exclamation marks" -- punctuate the thousands of miles of coastlines

Lighthouses — like “exclamation marks” — punctuate the thousands of miles of coastlines

from the island of puffins at Elliston, where we were treated to a show that included a puffin waddling five feet from Monique – an  absolute highlight of the entire six-month journey.  On recommendation from a tour-bus guide, we left there and went to Spillar’s Cape nearby for another puffin experience, plus a vista of better-than-postcard proportions.

A quote from a sign in a restaurant in Twillingate:  “And there you find yourself, Seemingly in the middle of nowhere, And oddly enough, It’s exactly where you want to be.”

The Louisbourg Fortress -- History where you can touch it

The Louisbourg Fortress — History where you can touch it

Events: Without a doubt, the Tattoo and Screech-In are at the top of our list, but we saw plays, and walked through museums, government buildings, forts, gardens and much, much more.

Other favorite memories – As part of a caravan, we were in different places almost every day or two, seeing different things in our own vehicle (we pull a travel trailer), in cars of newly-made-friends, on tour buses, from tour boats and a schooner, and walking.  Here are a few other topics that come to mind:

Just Another Pretty Moose

Just Another Pretty Moose

Creatures — Eagles, ospreys, moose, caribou, deer, a fox, and livestock grazing peacefully in verdant pastures.

Scenery – The Atlantic and other great waters; glacier-sculpted hills, rocks, lakes and rivers; fishing villages; icebergs (not many this summer), Jellybean houses in St. John’s, the Bay of Fundy.

Food – Lobsters, cod, haddock, salmon, crabs (depending on the seafood season), Poutine, Denair, fish & chips, Tim Horton’s bakery/coffee shops; a lot more that we either sampled or didn’t want to try.

For environmental concerns, coal mining has shut down, but a few miners are now sharing their experiences on guided mine tours.

For environmental concerns, coal mining has shut down, but a few miners are now sharing their experiences on guided mine tours.

I have to mention again that each of the Atlantic Provinces is unlike the others, except that they all have evolved around fishing and have histories that are linked with the explorations by Europeans, and therefore are somewhat similar.  Going to any and thinking you’ve seen it all is a mistake.

And finally, for the sake of those who qualified as Newfies, “Long may your big jib draw.”

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

Ah, such fond memories!

Ah, such fond memories!

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

MY FAVORITE PLACES – A REVIEW – PART 3

This entry is part 15 of 16 in the seriesThe Canadian Atlantic Provinces

By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers

Our seven-week tour of the Atlantic Provinces of Canada included so much, such variety and so many memories that, if I told you about each and every place, each would lose its significance.  Therefore, I’m going to give you a brief synopsis of a few places that, in my opinion, you won’t want to miss while you’re there.  I’m sure all of these I’ve written about in past episodes, but I’m looking back in retrospect at the ones that stand out the most in my memory.

At the sea, at the sea, at the bottom of the sea -- The Bay of Fundy provides a low-tide spectacle

At the sea, at the sea, at the bottom of the sea — The Bay of Fundy provides a low-tide spectacle

FLOWERPOTS – We were able to see many views of the world-famous Bay of Fundy – this was the “fundiest.” Located at Hopewell Cape, New Brunswick, the Hopewell Rocks, also known at “the flowerpots,” are

interesting monolithic outcroppings visible in their entirety at low tide.  Six hours later when the water rises more than 40 feet they become tiny offshore islands.  The Bay of Fundy is probably the most famous attraction of the Maritimes, but there is so much more to experience.

THE TATTOO – I was expecting an evening watching a conglomeration of bodies

The Tattoo -- SPECTACULAR!

The Tattoo — SPECTACULAR!

marching around an arena.  Nothing more.  Those expectations fell far short of the spectacular show we witnessed.  Yes, the ranks-and-files did their thing, several times, and each time was a bit of a thrill with marchers wearing traditional uniforms.  There were enjoyable circus acts; vocal numbers by rich-voiced singers (both individually and in choirs); competition among military units; performing police groups, several thousand participants, lights, noises, music, and other sensory sensations to keep everyone entertained.  Officially named the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo held annually in a modern arena in Halifax, the 2014 edition will be July 1-8.  Better get your tickets early.

Dennis is definitely enjoying the fun. That's me at right, and I'm less joyful. I think the cod, center, is taking it all in stride.

Dennis is definitely enjoying the fun. That’s me at right, and I’m less joyful. I think the cod, center, is taking it all in stride.

SCREECHING IN — If you’re a C.F.A., you will become a Newfie when you kiss the cod at a Screech In.  Our caravan of 45 people whose backgrounds span the gamut from technology to farming, all sorts of folks with different assessments of what is fun – and yet, I doubt if any of them didn’t think the Screech In was A BLAST! Giving you the specifics of the ceremony would diminish the excitement, so I’ll just say that changing from a C.F.A. (we “Come From Away”) to a Newfie (Newfoundlander) is filed in our memory banks forever.

UGLY STICK CONCERTS — As we walked into the Prime Berth Fishing Museum, I glanced at the collection of broomsticks with tin cans on top and boots at the base.  An

I wasn't prepared to see Ugly Sticks at the center of the entertainment, so I shot this scene with my IPhone camera.

I wasn’t prepared to see Ugly Sticks at the center of the entertainment, so I shot this scene with my IPhone camera.

hour later when I saw the sheer joy in Monique’s eyes as she banged out an Ugly Stick percussion accompaniment to local Bill’s guitar-playing, I suggested that we buy one.  And when fellow-traveler Ron bought one, Monique proposed that they play a concert at that evening’s Fantasy Tours caravan barbeque and potluck. That was the start of something big and spontaneous.  We took turns thumping the Ugly Sticks, with even the most laid-back of the group movin’ his feet when forced to join the music-making.

After five more members of the troupe bought Ugly Sticks, the ensemble performed several times after that, including with a band that was playing at an RV park days later on Prince Edward Island, wishing that they had discovered this homiest of rhythm instruments earlier.  The band had never heard of Ugly Sticks, but I’m certain that by now it’s part of their selection of instruments.

Elizabeth LaFort's hook rug work is a delight.

Elizabeth LaFort’s hook rug work is a delight.

THE CABOT TRAIL – This two-lane road undulates as it plies its way on Cape Breton Island, on the northeastern part of Nova Scotia.  It goes on and on, embracing the coastline for mile after mile, and cuts across the interior.  We were aboard a tour bus, appreciative that our driver was contending with the steep grades and narrow highway.  We stopped at a shop in Cheticamp, where they make and sell masks.  It was much more interesting that we expected – Monique bought two to decorate for our Mardi Gras in California celebration.  The next stop was up the road at a museum featuring hook rugs and tapestries in the Elizabeth LeFort Gallery. Impressive!  Honestly, the ride was long and the scenery repetitive, but it’s worth devoting a few miles to the historic section of the island.

I NEEDED HER! — I’ve been an Anne Murray fan since the ‘80s.  Apparently she has

A few of Anne Murray's Platinum Records - Quite a collection

A few of Anne Murray’s Platinum Records – Quite a collection

other fans, too, based on the exhibition of her numerous platinum albums, as displayed in the Anne Murray Centre in Springhill, Nova Scotia.  I was absolutely amazed realizing the scope of her success, as shown by decades in the twisting galleries.

ANOTHER TIME IN ANOTHER PLACE — A Newfoundlandism of interest:  this province, which includes Labrador, is a half-hour ahead of Atlantic Time, which is an hour ahead of Eastern Time.  What I haven’t mentioned in this synopsis is the beauty, wildlife and history elements of what we experienced.  The Atlantic Provinces are much more than attractions, as I’ll try to convey in the next edition.

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

P.E.I. – A SMALL ISLAND; A LOT TO SAY – MARITIMES PART 2

This entry is part 14 of 16 in the seriesThe Canadian Atlantic Provinces

By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers

While a good percentage of inhabitants of the “Atlantic Provinces” [see Barbara and Tom Palmer’s Comment below] are closing up their businesses and preparing for the winter migration to the U.S. Sunbelt states, your excitement in visiting this easternmost Canadian turf next spring and summer can be building.  After 17,050 miles of driving, it may be a while before we return, and we have several other journeys in our plans, but the call to revisit the Atlantic provinces is certainly worth considering.

I’ll write more in the future about the specific places that were the most memorable in our seven weeks of caravanning to the “Maritimes Plus One.”  I think the best service I can provide in this blog is to mention briefly what were highlights for us – adventures that will stay with us for years to come, supplemented, of course, by photographs.

What stand out in our memory about P.E.I. - the pastoral scenery

What stand out in our memory about P.E.I. – the pastoral scenery

The last province on our RV expedition was P.E.I., or as it’s known to non-locals “Prince Edward Island.”   And, let me mention at this point that each of the four Atlantic Provinces has its own history, customs, and way of life.  The fishing villages are somewhat similar in many areas, although the fishing boats aren’t necessarily the same and they are out to haul in different catches – lobster, oysters, cod, salmon, haddock, probably others I don’t remember.  And fishing seasons, as set by the Canadian government, are a bit complicated for us outsiders and vary by provinces.  What I want to emphasize is that going to New Brunswick is not the same as going to P.E.I., nor is Labrador very similar to Nova Scotia.

P.E.I. settles on our minds as luxuriant greenery, pastures, farmland, rolling hills (most of the provinces also have grassy rolling hills).   But this, the smallest of the provinces, has a serenity we appreciated more than other places.  Our caravan schedule included much ado about “Anne of Green Gables,” one of the most popular books of teenage girls for over a century.   Monique read the book prior to arriving there and passed it along to others in the coterie, all of whom seemed to enjoy it.  Monique and I visited the “Green Gables” house that was the setting for the novel and attended a play loosely based on the book in the mini-metropolis capital city of Charlottetown.  Charlottetown is a beautiful, historic place, bedecked with voluptuous hanging flower baskets.

Can you believe, I intended to wrap up this series in this blog, but I haven’t even finished with P.E.I.?   I hadn’t mentioned playing golf on one of the greenest of courses, a few hours of enjoyment much greater than the normal frustration.  I felt it was a good day on the course since I only lost one ball and had 35 putts.

Not to be forgotten from our week on Prince Edward was meeting Brian MacNaughton at

Bruce & Shirley MacNaughton Welcome Diners at P.E.I. Preserves

Bruce & Shirley MacNaughton Welcome Diners at P.E.I. Preserves

the P.E.I. Preserves Co. near Cavendish.  Soon after our tour bus pulled into the parking area, a sprightly, kilt-clan MacNaughton hopped up the steps and quickly gave us his rollicking version of his winding course from when his first restaurant failed to when he began selling jars of preserves featuring Grand Marnier, Champagne and other unique ingredients to some of the classiest stores worldwide.

A few minutes later we were enjoying one of the best meals of our caravan trek in his P.E.I. Preserves restaurant.  After dinner we sampled preserves and other treats made in that same building, and finding things we didn’t know we needed to buy in the gift shop.  If you like mussels, this is the place!

After the caravan concluded and our new friends dispersed — some north to the Gaspe Peninsula, others to Quebec and beyond, and others to the U.S.  – we spent a few days on the northwestern part of the island mainly “chillin’” and reveling in the pastoral serenity of that off-the-beaten-trail area.  Starved after driving for hours one day, we stopped at Randy’s Pizza at a remote intersection on the French-speaking Acadian region (also called Region Evangeline) and ordered a plate of “donair” to go.  We didn’t know what it was, and we’re still not sure, but it’s something like a meat pie.  Yes, we would order it again, unlike our experience with poutine in Newfoundland, which didn’t excite our palates.

The Bottle House with the Lighthouse Overlooking Egmont Bay

The Bottle House with the Lighthouse Overlooking Egmont Bay

Most notable place to us on our freelance drive was “The Bottle Houses,” a cluster of three small cottages made with bottles encrusted in mortar and built on land that includes the Cape Egmont Lighthouse.  Adding to the spectacle are the colorful gardens interwoven among the buildings.  It’s worth driving the extra miles to the town of Cape Egmont to see the creative construction by Edouard Arsenault.

A FEW P.E.I. SCENES [FROM TOP]: In anticipation of the opening of the lobster season the next day, fishing boats were lined up and loaded with traps; we entered the Acadian area, also known as the Evangeline Region; the setting for the novel “Anne of Green Gables”; our travels were punctuated with opportunities to make music with Ugly Sticks (as demonstrated by Roger, Sarah and Jean); Donair, featured at Randy’s Pizza near nowhere; and the bridge from Nova Scotia to P.E.I. is the longest span over the Atlantic Ocean.

A FEW P.E.I. SCENES [FROM TOP]: In anticipation of the opening of the lobster season the next day, fishing boats were lined up and loaded with traps; we entered the Acadian area, also known as the Evangeline Region; the setting for the novel “Anne of Green Gables”; our travels were punctuated with opportunities to make music with Ugly Sticks (as demonstrated by Roger, Sarah and Jean); Donair, featured at Randy’s Pizza near nowhere; and the bridge from Nova Scotia to P.E.I. is the longest span over the Atlantic Ocean.

I’ll save a few more memories for the days ahead.  Meantime, there are a couple of interesting comments below:

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

 

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

COMMENTS TO RECENT BLOGS

From Barbara and Tom Palmer (and Shelby the border terrier) — Hi Barry and Monique, We have really enjoyed your travel blog – but one thing that is driving me crazy is your inclusion of Newfoundland and Labrador as part of the Canadian Maritime provinces. We are also full-time RVers who spent the summer of 2011 in the Maritimes and Newfoundland – and rest assured, the Newfies we met did not consider themselves part of the Maritimes (New Brunswick, PEI, and Nova Scotia). Nor did the Maritimers we met consider Newfies to be part of the Maritimes.

As you undoubtedly know by now, Newfoundland was an independent country until 1949 when it confederated with Canada (with a bare majority of Newfies voting for confederation); is there any way you could work that bit of history into your future posts? We really need to give Newfoundland credit for providing space and hospitality to US forces during the second world war – the US built a number of antisubmarine and naval warfare bases (as well as the Air Force base in Gander) in Newfoundland to protect the northern Atlantic from the Germans. Also, although it’s clear to us outsiders that they really could not have survived as an independent country, many Newfies are still uneasy about being Canadians!

Sorry you had to disable the comment section in your blog – we enjoyed seeing what others had to say!  Did you kiss the cod?

Barry’s Response — I find your note absolutely amazing.  In all our pre-planning and in our three weeks in Newfoundland and Labrador, I had never heard or seen anything that explained that NF/LB are not Maritimes, so I looked it up on Wikipedia:

“The Maritime provinces, also called the Maritimes or the Canadian Maritimes, is a region of Eastern Canada consisting of three provinces, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. On the Atlantic coast, the Maritimes are a subregion of Atlantic Canada, which also includes the northeastern province of Newfoundland & Labrador.”

There are so many highlights from our trip; we appreciated each province for its own character.  Newfoundland, the largest, probably offered more variety.  Everything you mention in your comment is true.

As for the comments, that was disabled by the Web folks to combat the incredible volume of spam coming through.  I find that use of the web more distasteful than my experience of kissing the cod!   Thanks for the geography and history lesson.

From David Harrison — I do enjoy your blogs, but after reading the comment on the “far north” region of my country, I think you should buy yourself a globe.   The Canadian Maritime provinces are on the same latitude as southern France and north-central Italy.  Do keep the blogs coming, though.

Barry’s Response – You’re also right … BUT, as mentioned, many Maritime people go south for the winter for warmth.  In France and other European nations, the south of France and Italy are destinations where travelers go to avoid the cold, dreary weather.  Latitude doesn’t seem to have much to do with climate – looking up from the lower 48, it’s still the “far north” to me.  I do appreciate you comment.

MORE ABOUT THE MARITIMES – PART I

This entry is part 13 of 16 in the seriesThe Canadian Atlantic Provinces

By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers

The Canadian Maritimes (a.k.a. the Atlantic Provinces) are special places.  While we still consider our Alaskan trip “The Trip of a Lifetime,” we will long cherish our seven weeks in the Maritimes.  It’s not simply that we visited so many interesting places on this trip … it was much more than that.  Yes, almost every view of the blue Atlantic and its inlets was spectacular, but even that could make one blasé after weeks of peering over stunning rocky cliffs and driving along winding seaside roadways.  No, our appreciation went much further than that to include memorable events; sampling Maritimes food; being where the earliest of American history actually happened; getting at least an introduction to and a brief understanding of the unique people who populate this far-north fishing and agricultural region; plus, we toured with people who bonded into a fun troupe of travelers.

I’ve written much about our tour in the 16 blogs posted during our 48-day caravan, but before mentioning a few places that stand out vividly in our minds, peppered with some of my opinions and editorializing, TIME OUT! After being on the road without a “bricks & mortar home” for much of the past seven years, we have returned to the little wooden mountain cabin bought a little over a year ago.  Honestly, this is our first time experiencing the rigors of moving all the necessities needed for six months on the road and having to find places in a 1,000-square-foot cabin built in 1937 without luxuries like adequate closet space.  But we know that when we head out again on our journeys through North America, it will be reversing the process.

I mention this as my excuse for taking so long to tell you more about the wonders of the Atlantic Provinces – and if you’re just tuning in, specifically we’re talking about New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and the merged province of Newfoundland-and-Labrador.

Now, on with the show! Prince Edward Island, the smallest of the provinces, claims to have 90 lighthouses.  Larger Atlantic Provinces have at least that many, so you’d think we’d get bored with seeing another along the route.  Holding true to being “the Never-Bored RVers,” we snapped photo after photo of lighthouses (also called “lights” and “heads”) almost every day of the journey.  It’s not that each is different:  mostly, they are stalwart reminders of days when men went to sea in ships without guidance systems, many never to return to their wives awaiting familiar sails on the horizon.  And I want to add that we were still drawn to the lighthouses even after having seen dozens along the Atlantic coast of the U.S. in the spring.

LIGHTING THE WAY -- Clockwise from top left, St. John's Newfoundland; Peggy's Cove; Across from the Alexander Graham Bell Museum, Nova Scotia; and Louisbourg, Nova Scotia

LIGHTING THE WAY — Clockwise from top left, St. John’s Newfoundland; Peggy’s Cove; Across from the Alexander Graham Bell Museum, Nova Scotia; and Louisbourg, Nova Scotia

It took several weeks before the significance of the history of these far-away lands became an important element of our travels.  It was honestly confusing trying to sort out all the wars and skirmishes that, as our trip continued, fell into place.  For us, it brought history to life.  The war of 1812, the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, planting of flags by the Norse, the French, the British, the Portuguese, the Scots, all on soil inhabited by native tribes for hundreds of years – I won’t say we have it all clearly in our minds, but as our travels continued, the torment inflicted on hard-laboring fishermen and farmers by one, then another, played out as a continuing drama from place to place.

Names of New World explorers whose deeds and dates we forgot as soon as our history exams were over (if not during) kept cropping up, again adding color to that thread of history.

Young John Cabot welcomes visitors to see the recreated Matthew's Legacy. More understandable history under one roof than a whole schoolhouse.

Young John Cabot welcomes visitors to see the recreated Matthew’s Legacy. More understandable history under one roof than a whole schoolhouse.

Monique, being from France, and me, a South Louisiana native, took special interest in the Acadians, the French settlers who sailed across the sea to make a new life for their families, only to have it taken away violently when the British wanted to establish a stronghold in the lucrative fishing grounds.  The French returned; they left; the Scots came … well, my abbreviated recall of all we learned (and the accuracy of it) can’t be appreciated as well by reading without walking the land.

I fear going off on a tangent – it’s all part of the Maritimes we found so special – so I’ll end this segment here, except, I have two messages to you.

1)  Now that I’m on solid ground with a comfortable working space, I will do as long-promised.  I will start posting all my past blogs from blog.RV.net, along with new writing on my website ontopoftheworld.bz.  As soon as time allows, Monique and I will begin sifting through photos from our seven years on the road to post our favorites on that site, beginning with the Maritimes.

And 2), I know that when most RVers hear the word “caravan,” they immediately think, “That’s not for me.”  Monique and I had that opinion before our Alaska trip, but the advantages made us realize we could do and see more in the Maritimes if we signed up for a second caravan.  I’ll have another blog soon to give you the plusses and minuses of going with a caravan.  I’ve never seen any articles about it, except for mine, so I think it’s worthwhile mentioning it again.

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

 

YOUR ADDITIONS TO THE CONVERSATION

This entry is part 12 of 16 in the seriesThe Canadian Atlantic Provinces

 By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers

We’ve been high-tailing it across America diagonally from the Northeast to Southern California, taking in a few sights along the way, like Niagara Falls and Montezuma’s

Montezuma isn't home at the moment

Montezuma isn’t home at the moment

Castle in Arizona.  We’ve done about half-and-half, interstates and hundreds of miles of surprisingly smooth back roads.  I still promise to write more about our travels in the Canadian Maritime Provinces, but for now, here are some comments to recent blogs.

From Mary Jane Cookingham — I was delighted to read you are at the Ozark RV Park.  I spend every September and October there.  The big draw for me is the music.  With all the other wonderful music down on the Square and at the Ozark Folk Center you may not realize you are in a town that is a mecca of mountain dulcimer music.  Go into the Ozark RV Park office in the morning and you will probably meet Jack Giger.  He and his wife, Mary Giger, are the nationally known dulcimer group Red Dog Jam.  If you miss him there, head over to The Dulcimer Shoppe.

Monday is Dulcimer Night at Ozark RV Park. You'll also see autoharps, guitars, mandolins and others joining in the music-making.

Monday is Dulcimer Night at Ozark RV Park. You’ll also see autoharps, guitars, mandolins and others joining in the music-making.

You’ll probably catch Jack there, plus Mary works there.  Judy Klinkhammer, another terrific nationally known dulcimer musician, also works there.  The Dulcimer Shoppe is owned by Jim and Betty Woods and is where McSpadden Dulcimers are built.  Any time you drop by there will probably be people strumming in the dulcimer nook as well as people eager to show you how to play the dulcimer.  Mountain View is the best!

From Ozzie in the Ozarks – Glad to know how much you appreciate God’s Country, Mountain View.  There is more than one Pickin’ Shed in town and lots of other places to hear local musicians.  Visit the city park to see some impressive stone work … And there are quite a few choices of where to park an RV.  Lots to see and do around here.

From Joyce & butterbean Carpenter — We love The Ozarks, too, except for the trails they call highways and the ‘local’ driving habits’; i.e. passing on u-curves, etc.  I wished y’all had bought a place in ‘MUSIC-COUNTRY,’ then we could come to see y’all … You’re right about the folks being friendly and cheerful; they have to work hard for such as they get, but are thankful to God for it

From Dennis Smith – [things to do in Vermont]  Barre, Vermont — Great exhibit on granite quarries.  Can’t remember the name of the cemetery in Barre with beautiful granite carvings. w Burlington-Lake Champlain “6th Great Lake”, only one that flows North!  Maritime Museum. w Shelburne-Shelburne Museum, Huge exhibit includes a reconstructed lighthouse and the last steam driven ferry, The Ticonderoga brought by rail laid from Lake Champlain to the museum.

Fort Ticonderoga, N.Y., accessible by the last cable driven ferry in the U.S.  Montpelier- gold leaf state capitol dome.  Morse Farms, best real Maple Creamies in the U.S.  Lots of stuff that is local folk art. w Barre-Montpelier Rd The Wayside Restaurant.  Piles of food at good prices, and where else has a Salt Pork and Milk Gravy night?

O.K. So I live in Vermont.  If David is a Good Sam member, remind him a Standby Sam may have suggestions!  Dennis Smith, Retired…except from snowboarding, sailing, RVing, SCUBA diving, fishing, and a few other things!

From Laura Lavallee — Hi, I don’t have specific info on COPD.  I have a friend who has the disease and who travels with a breathing machine.  He has increased his battery bank and added an inverter.  They do not boondock very often.  He is ok with short stays without hook-ups.  He carries Oxygen but does not have to use it all the time.  Not sure if this is helpful, hope so.  Here is a link to your subject (http://copdforum.portalone.us/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=1380 )

From Mina Greenlee — I read your newsletter where someone asked about traveling with COPD.  My husband was diagnosed with COPD 15 + years ago. Emphysema is the base of his disease. There are many different aspects of COPD. So I can only relate how it affects us and our full-time travel going on 5 years.

Where to start?  I would truly recommend Respiratory therapy before traveling very far.  My husband finally did it after 2 years and it has made a world of difference in the confidence of our travel decisions.  Elevation and air quality plus exertion will define the enjoyment of traveling.

Being informed takes a lot of the unknown away.  My husband has coped with his treatment with inhalers. There was a bit of trial and error, but not much. Breathing treatment machines were not a part of his treatment plans. (He seemed to think he would not need them until it was too late and then the ER room was his only option.  That happened a few times and then he learned how far he could go before he needed to use his course of treatment.)  This last time he was able to qualify for oxygen to be used as needed. So now we travel with portable and a condenser in the trailer. The portable is in the truck.  His first hospital and ambulance ride was in San Jose, Ca.  A pulmonary specialist became his doctor that gave him the best advise.  No steroids if possible. They cause him to be more susceptible to bronchial infections.

One very important thing to remember is to tell any health care person you come in contact with is to tell them immediately you are COPD.  Different treatment of oxygen treatments for first responders.  All this is assuming you will have the correct health info with you.

By the way, Lincare is nationwide and is familiar with RV full-timers or long timers.  Please feel free to write back any questions if needed.

From Ray Shoemake — We are not due to go full timing for another two years but I do know something about COPD. I do not have it, but I do have a lung condition that causes me to cough a lot and have breathing problems. My doctor prescribed Spiriva for my condition since the then current medication, Combivent, depleted the potassium in my blood stream. One of the side effects of Spiriva is Dry Mouth. That might sound relatively benign, but after 3 weeks I had cottonmouth 24 hours a day. I stopped the Spiriva and started taking a Potassium supplement and went back to Combivent. That problem solved. (except after 4 weeks, I am still experiencing dry mouth several times a day.) I hope it stops sometime. Good news is I am drinking a lot more water.

Back to COPD, a close friend of mine has it and has been taking Spiriva for years. He says it works well for him.  Good Luck and keep the news coming.

Thanks for all the comments. I had to add the photo below from last Wednesday, the day I

"Turn Right 100 Feet"

“Turn Right 100 Feet”

was ready to defenestrate Camille [translation: throw our GPS out the window].  She advised us, “Turn right 100 feet,” which would have given us an exciting ride over a cliff.  And a few minutes later, I argued with her when she wouldn’t get us on the road to the out-of-the-way town we programmed.

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

 

ENJOYING THE JOURNEY

This entry is part 11 of 16 in the seriesThe Canadian Atlantic Provinces

By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers

“Turn around.  You could have turned around at that driveway,” demanded Monique.  “I’m going to go three more miles,” I answered.  If we don’t find a campground, I’ll turn around …”  “There’s a brown sign.  Float Camp Recreation Area.  But is there camping?” asked Monique.  I lucked out.  Despite no signs anywhere indicating that this was a campground in Mark Twain National Forest in Southern

The Current River by the Float Camp -- A National Scenic Waterway

The Current River by the Float Camp — A National Scenic Waterway

Missouri, I trusted my instincts (not very reliable, I might add) and proceeded to search for a place to stop for the night.  What made it more tenuous was that, earlier in the day, I had turned off a main highway to see “The World’s Biggest Wind Chime,” which we never found.  As compatible as we are, there was a bit of friction in the air – but that’s understandable after being on the road together exactly five months and having parked for at least one night in 85 different spots!

I left off our most recent entry on this blog site mentioning that there are other places from our caravan trip to the Canadian Maritimes that I want to write about.  That’s still true, but

You don't see this on Interstates. We share the road with Amish, who cling to their heritage

You don’t see this on Interstates. We share the road with Amish, who cling to their heritage

while on the road 7 to 9 hours a day since we left Niagara Falls, New York, we keep recalling additional places worth mentioning.  We are looking for a day of rest, when we can sit back in our recliners and list those places, so I can make sense out of it all.  I will say that we are still smiling when we talk about the Tattoo, the Screech In, the Ugly Stick concerts, Spillars Cove, the north end of Prince Edward Island … oh, so many places we were exposed to over the past two months.

We are now parked in Ozark RV Park and Cabins in Mountain View, Arkansas, one of the very few places we have visited three times.  We love this area so much, we had looked for land or a bungalow here years ago, but, realizing how far we’d be from family, we went on, eventually buying a cabin in the mountains of Southern California.

What’s so special about this place?  The Ozark scenery, for one.  The friendliness of the local folks, for another.  And mostly for the music in this, the Folk Music Capital of the World.  There is music everywhere around here, year-round, including in the “pickin’ sheds” and on the Courthouse Square.  In parks and on the porches of stores and in homespun theaters.

Are we having fun yet?  You betcha! at the Jimmy Driftwood Barn

Are we having fun yet? You betcha! at the Jimmy Driftwood Barn

Sunday night was quiet after a big weekend for bikers, who showed up from miles around, so we took in the by-donation Jimmy Driftwood Barn show.  “Jimmy Driftwood was a prolific folk singer-songwriter who wrote over 6,000 songs. He gained national fame in 1959 when Johnny Horton recorded Driftwood’s song, ‘The Battle of New Orleans’,” to quote the Encyclopedia of Arkansas.

This is Americana at its best.  The cast of local musicians with varying degrees of polish sing folk songs and gospel, some from the fine grain of the past, some seemingly made up (with lots of humor) yesterday. The instrumentation makes it all the more enjoyable – for

Cloggin'

Cloggin’

Sunday’s two-hour performance, they strummed on guitars, steel guitars, mandolins, a bass fiddle, autoharps, a washtub bass and more.  Add in harmonicas and a lady who played the snare drum and washboard, and you get the gist of what we listened to.  A few times during the show, several of the musicians/singers entertained with clogging.

There’s lots of music in Mountain View, plus two other main attractions.  It’s the home of Blanchard Springs Caverns National Park, which in our opinion is the most beautiful cave of the dozen we’ve traversed.  Then there’s the Ozark Folk Center immediately next to our campground.  It’s closed on Sundays and Mondays so our timing is bad, but we’ve spent many hours there during past visits.

After hour-after-hour over the last week plying the concrete of interstate highways, where the ripening corn crop on both sides of the road becomes hypnotic, I was excited when Monique routed us back to Arkansas.  We are “journey” travelers as opposed to “destination” people, so I appreciated the chance to tackle the severely winding roads and steep hills of the Ozark Mountains, at least in few-hour intervals.  We are here for two nights, then it’s onward!

Kites a-flying

Kites a-flying somewhere over New York State

One more thing I want to mention.  The electric jack on our trailer that lifts the tongue off the hitch ball on our truck was clucking and chucking, ready to strand us.  We left Niagara Falls with the trepidation that we would have to stay hitched up for the next two weeks, when we spied a Camping World sign on a through-town highway in Hamburg, New York, just southeast of Buffalo.  An hour later we drove away with a new electric lift recommended over the six others by the parts manager (and strangely enough, it was the least expensive).  We give thanks to their efficiency and congenial spirit.

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

COMMENTS TO RECENT BLOGS

From Dan and Terry Meehan — First, we would like to compliment you on the quality and usefulness of your blog about your RV travels.  We look forward to it every day.  We should have been off to see the US in our RV by now, but a COPD diagnosis has slowed our plan.  As we get the final pieces in place, we have two topics that we have not been able to find discussed via any of the blogs we have found and are wondering if you can guide us to either:  Can you direct us to someone who is currently traveling with COPD?

BARRY’S RESPONSE – We’ve met people with this breathing problem but never gotten any names or discussed it at any length.  I open the line, via emails, to neverboredrvers@gmail.com , to anyone who can provide information.

Do you know of a mapping, suggested routes, type of site, where we could find some planned routes designed for long-timers who don’t want to deal with weather on any grand scale?

BARRY’S RESPONSE – There is usually plenty of warning before hurricanes arrive, so that shouldn’t be a problem (I lived in New Orleans most of my life, so I am practically an expert).  We’ve hit snow flurries in Austin, Texas, in September and huddled in brick bathrooms when tornados were imminent in the Plains States.  You never know.  Again, we welcome reader input.

Thanks and keep the travel commentaries coming, loved the Puffin pics from yesterday.

From David Palazzolo — I stumbled over your blog on rv.net.  I was wondering and hoping to see if you could give me any information on traveling to the Northeast, specifically Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.  I am planning a two-week RV trip with my in-laws (both about 75 years of age).  Would like to see things that are simple but fun.

I have planned to visit Ben and Jerry’s factory, LL Bean, Norman Rockwell museum, and a train ride.  I am trying to make it a trip where my in-laws can roam and enjoy the sites.  I am interested in neat places to take them to eat (mostly Mom and Pop places, or dives that have the best food).

Would you have any info that could help me or guide me in planning this type of travel.  We like to know some things to avoid because it would be a waste of time.  Not so much in a rush, but wanted to make this a trip of a lifetime with my in-laws.  Hope to find a nice fishing spot where my and my father in law could spend a few hours.  Any input will do.  We are coming from the Cincinnati area up to Niagara Falls and then heading east.

BARRY’S REPONSE — Thanks for you note.  I like your planning.  The last blog I wrote before going into Canada was at http://blog.rv.net/2013/06/downeast-mid-coast-and-the-bold-coast/ and I wrote several before then about the areas where you are traveling.  My Internet connection is less than optimal; doing further research at this time is annoying.

We stop at state travel centers when we get there during their open hours.  Monique picks up brochures and asks questions of the staff members.  Often they have interesting suggestions that we take.

We’re currently in Mentor, Ohio, heading west, having spent the past two days at Niagara Falls (the Canadian side is much better than the American side — take the Lewiston Bridge to save time – passports required).  All the places you are planning to visit are good, although L.L.Bean was only an hour attraction.  We mostly avoid the places set up for tourists, opting for some of the less renowned places along the way.  Some are good; for some, we are ready to move on.  You never know, and then again, your interests and the interests of your in-laws may be totally different from ours.  While near Niagara, we stayed at 4-Mile Creek State Park and visited Old Fort Niagara, where we found the confusing history of the colonial era history interesting.  Take the back-road scenic byways.  The scenery is unforgettable.

I wish I could fish during our travels, but paying for a fishing license in every state gets very expensive.  I bought a rod & reel when we went to Canada — the price tag is still on it.

One specific suggestion — Campobello Island near Eastport, Maine, will certainly be of interest to you and your in-laws.  You get there through Lubec, but you need your passports to get there, since it’s in New Brunswick.  (turn off your phone — international rates apply).

Thanks for you note — we’re rushing to get through dinner and into bed for the evening.  It’s been another long day.day.

Our FAVORITE STOPS IN THE MARTIMES – PART II

This entry is part 10 of 16 in the seriesThe Canadian Atlantic Provinces

 By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers

Why was Monique eager to embark on this 17,050-mile tour from California to Canada’s Atlantic Provinces and back?  First, to eat lobsters and crabs.  Second, to see puffins.  Third, because it’s there, a place that we rightfully expected to be a new horizon on our seven years of RV travel.

At the Root Cellar Capital of the World

At the Root Cellar Capital of the World

We definitely did not go there because Elliston, Newfoundland, is “The Root Cellar Capital of the World,” and after seeing a few dozen root cellars, we are still not oohing and aahing, but  it’s all part of the mind-expanding reason for travel.  My impression of a root cellar is a door that comes out of a knoll, behind which are shelves.  Let’s move on.

We arose early in our Bonavista, NF, campground, gulped down our latte and headed out for nearby Elliston.  We were alone at the well-known point, a precipice across a small Atlantic flow from a rocky island, upon which were flocks of graceful birds – AND UNGRACEFUL PUFFINS.  The three purposes of our long journey had been met!

After an hour of watching the puffins and hoping they would fly over to our side of the small strait, we were joined by a busload of birders from the States, all sporting binoculars and cameras.   Among things we learned from their local tour guide was that we were sitting too close to the edge, thereby scaring away the puffins.  We also learned that the cliff upon which we perched was somewhat fragile, potentially dangerous.  We immediately moved back and became advisers to the dozens of people who joined our throng over the next hour.

Coming by for a visit

Coming by for a visit 

While all of us looked eastward at the island ahead of us awaiting the first puffin to land on our side, Gail, a member of our Fantasy RV Tours caravan, who, with husband Richard, is a professional photographer, was looking at the low hills to the south, taking pictures of the puffins 20 feet away.  We sauntered over and Monique “clacked” to get them to move in closer.  One came within six feet of us, posing for numerous pin-up shots.

Another cogent suggestion by the tour guides:  Go to Spillar’s Cove for a spectacular view.

A dramatic spire rises from the waters of Spillar's Cove

A dramatic spire rises from the waters of Spillar’s Cove

No  easy trip, but with our four-wheel drive GMC truck we were able to drive within 150 feet of water’s edge.  Awesome! Jagged rocks with a thin finger of granite rising from the aqua ocean below, white-topped waves crashing over rocks at the base.  Surrounded by formations with character … and more seabirds, including puffins.

We hiked and photographed.  And by this time, those same birders, who had hiked the 100 yards from their bus, had shown up and were seated in the grass enjoying their lunches with one of the most spectacular views imaginable.  Again, let’s move on.

In Bonavista, we toured The Matthew Legacy, a re-created 17th Century frigate, housed in a mammoth building while in dry-dock.  Along with the boat was the history of Captain/Explorer John Cabot, with docents

The St. Matthew Legacy in Dry Dock

The St. Matthew Legacy in Dry Dock

available to point out important bits of history and answer our many questions.

Millennia of wave action has created The Dungeon

Millennia of wave action has created The Dungeon

Dungeon Provincial Park was a sort of afterthought, but Wow, what a view!  Below the viewing area was a large circular abyss carved into the solid rock grassland through two passageways formed by the pounding waves of millennia.  It was a garnish for a delicious meal of sightseeing.

Twenty-one campgrounds in 48 days.  This was just one stop along the way.  With the vast number of places we ventured, it can be hard to separate and catalogue each in our minds, but the Elliston/Bonavista stop, like Twillingate, stands out.  I’ll mention a few more in the next blog.

I rarely take notes, except for specific facts that I care to remember, so how do we remember all this?   I often tell people who surmise that I’m a professional photographer that I take photographs for the memories.  Whether you have a point-and-shoot camera, a cellphone, I-pad, or an interchangeable-lens single-lens-reflex camera, the quality is always good enough to record for your lifetime memories of the places you’ve been.

When Monique and I reach the time when we no longer have the ability to travel  North America, we’ll be able to revisit the wonderful places we’ve been by looking at the photos.  And for now, we’re glad to have you along with us.

Coming in for a graceful landing

Coming in for a graceful landing

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

OUR FAVORITE STOPS IN THE MARITIMES — Part I

This entry is part 9 of 16 in the seriesThe Canadian Atlantic Provinces

By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers

Members of our Fantasy RV Tours caravan, who joined us from literally the four corners of the Continental U.S. and many places in between, have now split up to return home or begin another adventure. We remain on the vibrant green pastoral Prince Edward Island to see a few more things before heading westward, with our travel trailer virtually filled with a 1) wide variety of keepsakes; 2) our external hard drives brimming with photos and, 3) our heads still savoring vivid memories.

We have parked our rig for at least one night in 21 campgrounds and on one 16-hour ferry ride, and seen, I would estimate, 10,000 memorable sights. Well, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but 100 of those were lighthouses, another 101 were coves hugged by classic fishing villages with colorful little houses, 1,000 were beautiful ponds and lakes … need I go on?

I’ll have more about the experience as time on our trip allows – we have lots of driving ahead of us – but for now, I’m chomping at the bit to tell you about Twillingate and Bonavista, both on the “big island” of Newfoundland. And as I began to prepare this blog, I realize that just a word or two about each thing I want to write about is too long for one blog, so I’ll divide it into two, and then add some more spots after that.

We walked along the shoreline into the hills soon after arriving at Twillingate

We walked along the shoreline into the hills soon after arriving at Twillingate

We began our assault on Twillingate by wandering out of the campground, tromping across a narrow isthmus and climbing a hill bordering the Atlantic coastline. Below the cliff were a myriad of seabirds and blue-green waters at which we have marveled numerous

Cleaning the day's cod catch in their "stage"

Cleaning the day’s cod catch in their “stage”

times on this trip. On our way back “home,” we wandered into a “fishing stage,” a little shack in which seamen store some of their gear and prepare their catch of the day for selling or eating.  These rugged individuals, still wearing their typical Atlantic Ocean fishing gear, were joyfully cleaning the cod from a large bucket when Monique and I walked in, each with a camera in hand. They immediately turned the conversation to us, without stopping their work, and proved to be like everyone else we’ve met on this excursion, both friendly and interested, with a touch of joviality thrown in.

We got to know Twillingate fairly well by walking and driving around town and doing touristy things, like visiting a winery and premium chocolate outlet, finishing our stay there by attending the “All Around the Circle Dinner Theatre,” which is best described as the Newfoundland version of the old TV show “HeeHaw.” It’s local humor; yet, I think that the 42 or so of us on the caravan would describe it as very entertaining.

The Prime Berth "Stage"

The Prime Berth “Stage”

I’ve saved the best two Twillingate events for last. I was not looking forward to visiting a fish museum. After going there, I recommended it to everyone I met. The “Prime Berth Heritage Museum” is the creation of David Boyd, a life-long fisherman, a fishing guide, and a collector of memorabilia, which he explains and demonstrates, He’s also a pretty good poet (I bought his book of poetry). You’re probably still not sold on going to a fish museum, and rather than trying to sell you on it when in Newfoundland, I’ll just say, if you don’t go there, you’re missing a treat.

An enjoyable moment for Caravan members in the Fish Museum

An enjoyable moment for Caravan members in the Fish Museum

And one more thing. After hearing David’s buddy, Bill, play the ugly stick, I picked one up in the gift shop run by David’s wife and bought one for Monique. That ignited the fuse that caused the explosion that became a highlight of our journey, ugly stick concerts.

The first Ugly Sticks concert. Three more followed.

The first Ugly Sticks concert. Three more followed.

Seeing Monique with one, Ron bought one, and George, and Jean and Stephanie and Carol … well, actually, Carol bough two of them.  They played those ugly sticks that evening and at every opportunity after that, including with a band in Nova Scotia, where most of the folks had never seen one and others didn’t realize how much fun they could be. Ron suggests they apply for “America’s Got Talent.”

We capped it all off with a visit to the Long Point Lighthouse, where there’s a charge to enter and go to the top. It was there that we got to see our third iceberg of the trip, and while miles offshore, it still captured our imaginations as its two peaks disappeared into a plateau of ice. We also spotted the dorsal fins of a few humpback whales. Since we’d

An iceberg looms out in the Atlantic, soon changing into a plateau of ice

An iceberg looms out in the Atlantic, soon changing into a plateau of ice

been in dozens of lighthouse by then there was no need to look at the surrounding vistas from any higher than the cliffs on which we walked, so we took off along the bluffs in one direction, stopped to munch on fruit bars, retraced our steps and went onward to extend our hike. At every turn there was beauty in all directions. We are still cutting slices off the chunks of fudge bought there – “Buy 1 pound; get a ½ pound free.” Too good a deal to pass up, an excellent, good-tasting energy food.

We did all this and more on a three-day stopover. Multiply that by the 21 stops on our caravan tour, and you’ll get an idea of what we’ve experienced. Stay tuned for our visit to the Root Cellar Capital of the World in the next edition. Obviously we continue to be the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.
© All photos by Barry Zander. All rights reserved

Our Alaska Trip Part III Camaraderie

This entry is part 3 of 36 in the seriesNorth to Alaska Series

June 11, 2010 by Barry & Monique Zander · 14 Comments

This is the third in a continuing series about our trip through Canada to Alaska

In yesterday’s article, I waxed prosaically about how Monique and I enjoyed the opportunity of stopping along our route to Canada to see sights that appealed to us, while staying within the guidelines set for us as a group.

Lots of folks told us we didn’t need to spend the money for an escorted caravan to Alaska.  They could be right.  Today, however, we began to really appreciate the investment we had made in our caravan.  All the members of our group climbed aboard a tour bus this morning for visits to two British Columbia, Canada, wineries.

Now, had we not taken in the wineries as we stopped in the Town of Oliver, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world.  We’ve been to several others on the East and West Coasts of the U.S.  But it was another opportunity for enrichment, not to mention tasting some surprisingly good wines.

Vineyard 6684

We learned that the Portuguese vintners who ran many of the 27 local wineries in this, “the Wine Capital of Canada,” were aging, and settlers from India arrived to buy up their vineyards.  They have the advantage of large families that work together to make it a viable business.  But the rest are owned by native Canadians or corporate bottlers.

We also learned that the grass between the rows of grapevines keeps the soil moist, with IMG_6668the help of earthworms, irrigation and ever-improving viniculture practices.  We found out that the climatic warming trend is helping the grape crop, and that the longer days here (we have almost 16 hours of daylight now) mean better crops.  You couldn’t get out of there without realizing that owning a winery is a very risky business.

And most of all, we enjoyed the chance to taste wine with some fun people.  The camaraderie of our group was the best part, and we would have missed out on it had we whizzed past these wineries.  This amounted to attending two shows.  At the first, Walter Garinger of Garinger Brothers Estates Winery told us more than most of us could ever remember about the world of wine-growing, from its history in British Columbia and France to the uncertainties of the marketplace.

A few minutes later we were at Silver Sage Winery, where owner Anna served us tasteTasting Wine after taste of a wide variety of fruity wines, while entertaining us with witty observations, such as, “If you can’t find anything you want to watch on the 176 channels on TV, take a bottle of this wine out of the refrigerator and you won’t miss TV.”  The lesson here is without being part of the tour we wouldn’t have known which wineries to visit.

Next, Monique waited patiently behind a long line of RVers ready to pay for produce at a fruit stand with the best variety of items.  How do you know where to stop if you don’t have someone to guide you?

If there is a negative, it’s that we won’t be around long enough to become oblivious to the constant pow, pow, pow of cannons going off to protect the valuable cherry crop across the road that is ripening now.  After the cherries are ready, pears, apricots and then apples are ready for harvesting. We understand the cannons continue from spring to early fall to keep birds from destroying crops that fill thousands of acres of rolling hills in the shadows of a jagged ridge paralleling the highway.  Incidentally, this is the northern tip of the Sonoma Desert, where the arid land has been turned into gold.

Cornucopia 67086In response to several comments, we have often heard about how you can plan to trade in your rig when you get back to the states because the roads in Alaska eat them up.  Yesterday we had two broken windshields reported in our group and both were acquired on paved, smooth roads on the U.S. side of the border.

Our Adventure Caravans Wagonmaster Ken Adams preaches that most of the damage comes from going too fast and following too close.

At this point I want to make a suggestion.   We travel at 55 to 65 mph, depending on the highway (I am considered a speed-demon by many of our fellow travelers, who maintain a 48-52 mph pace).  Our truck and trailer combination is about 50 feet long, not very easy for traffic to pass.  When I realize a vehicle has moved into the passing lane to come around, I assess the situation and slow down if I see any chance of danger ahead, like a hill or a curve.  I am particularly eager to help motorcyclists, who stand a greater chance for problems.

Tomorrow we have one of the longest drives of the 58-day trek.  That means less time for sightseeing, but we’ll keep looking for places of interest to write about.  (All this traveling can get in the way of telling the story.)

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

Comments

15 Responses to “Our Alaska Trip Camaraderie Part III”

▪.  bbwolf on June 12th, 2010 4:44 pm  
Excellent log. Thanks again for today’s post.

▪.  Stan Zawrotny on June 12th, 2010 5:03 pm  
Once you get farther north onto the Alaska Highway, your speed will drop down much slower. In many areas you will travel about 45 mph because of the condition of the road and because of the dust clouds. Anything faster is bound to do damage to your RVs. I don’t think I would want to be in a caravan on the Alaska Highway because of the dust.

▪.  John Ahrens on June 12th, 2010 5:50 pm  
Stan, I don’t know when you were last up there, but when we went to Alaska, as far as Whitehorse, in 2004, the road was paved with no dust all the way.
Barry, thanks for the travelogue. I am enjoying it. 
When we went to Alaska in 2004, we got one rock chip on our windshield when a van pulled in front of us and threw a rock as we were exiting I-5 in Bellingham WA.

▪.  Robin Potter on June 12th, 2010 6:25 pm  
Thank you so much for sharing your trip. Alaska is on my bucket list – not on hers yet but I’m working on it and your blog may well help!

▪.  Sheila Allison on June 12th, 2010 7:42 pm  
while sitting on the side of the road in a parking lot at Muck a Luk Annie’s, the foretravel bus was hit with a rock by an 18-wheeler breaking the windshield. This was on the road coming south out of White Horse. After we got home we really found out how to travel on their roads and how to protect the tow trucks and campers. If your travels take you to Portage for the train watch out how you load on the flat beds. We ended up with a 20 ft gash down the side of the RV. This was from a bar that was bent the wrong way. Instead of leaning out it was leaning in. It was a wonderful wild trip. Expensive but well worth the money.

▪.  Bob on June 12th, 2010 8:19 pm  
Thanks for the great report. We’ve been planning to take that trip for a few years now but family plans keep interfering. In 2 years it’s MY trip and the rest of the family can sit tight!!!!!

▪.  Gerald Kraft on June 12th, 2010 8:25 pm  
We are on our way back to the lower 48. 1 cracked windshield, 2 rock chips, and a lot of fun.

▪.  Dennis & Chris on June 13th, 2010 6:30 am  
In ‘07 we traveled the Alcan and found it to be great most of the way. Some construction and a section of some sort of gravel but overall we were pleasantly surprised. We were on a Harley by the way.

▪.  Frank & Terrie on June 13th, 2010 9:36 am  
We are loving your adventure. Could you also map out your journey so we can see where you are as you go along? This is also a trip we would like to make with a caravan if possible.
 [Note:  My response later.]

▪.  Garry Scott on June 13th, 2010 10:16 am  
HI There, I am following you from ENGLAND UK as i own a Monaco diplomat 36′ here in the UK and have always wanted to do the Trans Canadian highway from east to west coast then on to Alaska. Therefore am watching your blog with great interest, please put in all details as you can, be careful and have a great time, Best of luck Garry.

▪.  Harold on June 13th, 2010 11:28 am  
We’re on our 4th RV trip to Alaska, 2001, 06, 08, 10, ever year the roads get better. The dust clouds mentioned above are due to road repairs. Our trip in May found only 12 miles of road repairs. 8 miles on the Cassiar, and the rest after Beaver Creek before the Alaskan border. We’ve come alone every trip, and enjoy every mile. Don’t put it off too long.

▪.  Les on June 13th, 2010 11:34 am  
Hello, thanks for the updates. A couple of suggestions, if you could put in your title line “post 1, post 2, post 3, etc., it would be easier for people to keep track of your adventure. How are the people with cracked windshields getting them replaced? Does the caravan wait for you if you have mechanical problems?
 [more on this later, but the answer is it depends on the problem] Have a great time.