The End

The final leg of this epic journey, at our final RV Park, for our final adventure!

Our final campsite 😞

We spent a few nights in Canmore, Alberta for the sole purpose of cycling a path we’ve wanted to do for years, The Legacy Trail. Sorry Minnesota, but we may now have a new favourite bike path!

The paved path runs from Canmore to Banff, with the majestic Rocky Mountains as the backdrop.

We cycled the 27 kms / 17 miles from our campsite in Canmore to the Banff Springs Hotel, had a wonderful lunch, then cycled back. It was spectacular and an absolutely amazing end to an amazing adventure.

The Banff Springs Hotel

Of course, as far as bike paths go, we can’t leave out our local, amazing path in Kelowna – The Okanagan Rail Trail – it is wonderful also and absolutely stunning, especially riding along Kalamalka Lake, but it’s not paved the entire way. 😉

Next stop, Kelowna!

We’re home!

146 days later, we drove 30,140.5 kms / 18,728.4 miles and now the circle is complete! Here’s the map we had on the back of Monty, which caused many drivers to slow down so they could get a better look at it!

Our Amazing Adventure! This map is on the back left corner of Monty.

⁃ We went through 34 States (plus Washington, DC) and 9 Provinces.

Our Route – the circle is complete!

In all our years of travel, we have now been to 45 States and are only missing Kansas, Kentucky, Alabama, Missouri and South Carolina . . . . looks like we need to do another road trip! 🤪 In Canada, we have now been to all 10 Provinces and the Yukon, so are only missing the North West Territories and Nunavut.

⁃ We burned through 1522 Gallons of diesel. On a side note, not all gas stations sell diesel, and in a few States, it was actually hard to find.

⁃ Had the truck serviced 3 times.

⁃ Camped at 46 different RV Parks. We tended to stay mostly at KOA’s when available. They were easy to book online, always had a 10% discount, and after so many stays we had accumulated enough points to get several nights free. 👍

⁃ Our average cost for a campsite per night was about $60 Canadian.

⁃ Found the worst traffic was in Seattle, Maryland (Washington DC), Boston and Toronto.

⁃ Biggest frustration . . . texting drivers!!! Even though it’s illegal pretty well everywhere, that doesn’t stop anyone. So, if you drive, please don’t text, put on makeup, shave, read a book, or text and read a book!! Yes, we saw that too. 🙄

⁃ Witnessed one horrific traffic accident but thankfully only had 2 sort of close calls ourselves. The first was on day one in Seattle – a girl texting in the far left lane realized she needed to exit in the right lane, so crossed 5 lanes over without looking 😳. We found out our rig can stop pretty quickly! The second was in New York as we were about to cross the George Washington Bridge – we went from 12 lanes to 4 😬 and people were cutting in really close . . .Monty came an inch from losing his bumper!! We think that’s pretty awesome for so many miles on the road.

⁃ We did a lot of our grocery shopping at Walmart. The prices were good and the parking lots always had room for Monty. 😉

⁃ We bought water to drink as we were never quite sure of the quality at the campsites, plus, it was extremely inexpensive – we could pick up a gallon of water for 89 cents and 24 bottles for $2.

⁃ We felt very safe everywhere, but were a bit uncomfortable in the States that allow ‘open carry’ weapons. A bit unsettling to walk through Walmart and see several people with guns at their waist. 😕

⁃ Internet at most campsites was poor or nonexistent. When in the US, we were able to use the hotspot on our phone, which worked well, but once in Canada, we were very limited.

⁃ Not many campsites had cable for TV, but we have a satellite and so were able to watch Directv most of the time, as long as trees weren’t blocking our signal.

⁃ Listened to at least 30 podcasts and hours of comedy shows

⁃ The best purchase we made for Monty was the washer and dryer! It was so nice to not have to use the facilities at the campsites.

⁃ The second best purchase was new electric recliners 😁 And, there is so much storage in the 5th wheel that we had enough room to bring home the old recliners!

Happy Camper 😁

Thank you so much to the 300+ of you that have been following along with us on this crazy adventure! Your encouragement, messages, texts, emails and phone calls were greatly appreciated and meant more than you’ll ever know. 🥰. We met so many wonderful people, experienced places we’ve only dreamt about, enjoyed places we’d never heard of but are so glad we found, laughed more than should be legal 🤪 and just enjoyed every moment!

There are always more adventures to come, but that’s it for this one.

Cheers, Henry and Joanne

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

Family, Friends and Fun . . . . Part Deux 😎

The adventure continues and we’re back in Canada 🇨🇦 We entered Manitoba, which just happens to be the birth Province of Joanne!

Our first stop was in Neepawa to visit the family, and it just so happened to be Uncle John’s 98th Birthday! 🎉

Check out the birthday feast!

It was so fun to celebrate with Uncle John, Auntie Alice, cousins, 2nd cousins and 3rd cousins! Ron, Olia, Murray, Glennis, David, Jo-Anne, Alicia, Brielle, Leah, Cole, Greg and Miles 😊 Remember our fun in Niagara Falls with Mert and Robert? These are Mert’s parents, brother and sisters, nieces and nephews.

Uncle John has been ill, so they broke him out of the hospital for a fun party and drinks. He certainly enjoyed his Caesar!

Uncle John – 98 years old

It was so nice to catch up with the Neepawa relatives. Auntie Alice is Joanne’s Dad’s (Joe) sister. They are the last 2 of 13 children, and were the youngest of them all, Joe being the baby of the family.

We’ve been trying to cycle The Great Trail in each province, and since it ran right by our campsite, we had to give it a shot. Turns out, The Great Trail was not so great in Neepawa! It started out well even though we had a staircase to tackle, but apparently the signs marking the trail are a popular souvenir, so we lost our way a few times. When we got to the actual rail trail part, it had not been maintained, so we went back in another direction. Too much of the trail was on busy highways, so we ended up just having a nice ride and touring around the town.

A bit of literary history – the author Margaret Laurence, most famously known for her book ‘The Stone Angel’, was born and raised in Neepawa, and most of her books are based in Neepawa but the name is changed to Manawaka. She got her inspiration for the Stone Angel from a statue that is in the cemetery in town.

The local community tv station has a fun way to raise money for funding, so every Wednesday night they have Bingo games on tv. You purchase the bingo cards at a few locations in town, then at 7:00 you turn on the channel and play! If your card wins, you phone the station and they confirm you’re a winner. We had so much fun, but unfortunately, no winning cards.

We visited Uncle John in the hospital before heading out of town. It was such a memorable time laughing with him and hearing stories of his youth and life on the farm. As we were leaving his hospital room, he asked us to stand there a moment so he could remember us that way.

Sadly, Uncle John passed away on August 21st, a week after we saw him. Our sincere condolences and love go out to our family and especially Auntie Alice.

Rest In Peace, Uncle John. 💖

After leaving Neepawa, we checked out Clear Lake, which is a beach resort area that Joanne’s family used to go to. It has some cute stores and great restaurants and was busy with vacationers. Lots of fun.

Then on to Joanne’s family history as we arrived to Oakburn, the birthplace of Joe. Dad’s grandparents were given a plot of land here in May 1899, when they arrived from the Ukraine. The town has changed a lot since Joe lived here, and only a few of the original buildings remain.

The Great Trail runs right through town, and it looked pretty great 👍 but we didn’t get a chance to cycle it.

We went to the family farm which is owned by cousin David and his wife Jo-Anne. It was so special to see the house that Dad spent his teen years in, and to visit with David. Of course, they wouldn’t let us leave empty handed, as we loaded our freezer with Jo-Anne’s award winning borscht and David’s award winning sausage!!! Yum!! Oh and fresh garden produce. 😊

Cousin David and Joanne in front of the family home

Roblin, Manitoba . . . . the birthplace of Joanne! Woohoo 🎉

We pulled in to the best campsite of our entire trip – poolside at the farm of our friends Stan and Lydia! Lydia is one of the daughters of Joanne’s Godfather (Uncle Steve) and these girls have been friends their entire lives! Henry figures we should be called ‘god sisters’ since we’re not officially related.

There was a welcoming committee awaiting our arrival and an amazing meal prepared – thanks so much, Lee 😘 There is never a shortage of food when you’re around Ukrainians, and it’s always delicious!

The Godfather and Goddaughter

So we right away had a visit with Uncle Steve, Lee and Sindy (2 more god sisters), Darlene and Ken (remember, we met up with them in Halifax?!) and Jordy – one of Lydia and Stan’s sons. Jason, their other son, was out working that night.

A fun lunch at the ice rink with the whole gang!

Stan, Lydia, Uncle Steve, Joanne, Ken, Lee, Darlene, Sindy and Henry

Then a visit to Uncle Steve’s farm. He’s almost 95 years old and still plants a large garden and flowers around the house. Amazing!

Henry and Stan went exploring the area.

Here’s some family history – Joanne’s parents, Joe and Jean, moved to Roblin shortly after they married, and started their first business. They built and ran the Roblin Theatre. With the building not quite complete, they opened the doors in November 1953 and premiered ‘The Caddy’, starring Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Dad was head projectionist and Mom was at the candy counter!

The Roblin Theatre

Some of their biggest movies were ‘White Christmas’, ‘Ben Hur’ and ‘The Ten Commandments’. Joe was quite the promoter . . . when they were getting ready to show ‘Don’t Go Near The Water’, he hung ladies underwear in the lobby and then gave them away to the first few women to come to the opening night!

Joe and a Jean started their family and had a home attached to the back of the theatre. Joanne’s sisters, Donna and Diane, were raised there. This is a photo taken last year – June 2018 – of Dad, Donna and Diane in front of their house at the back of the theatre.

House attached to the back of the theatre

We actually had a chance to see a movie in the theater and meet the present owner,Andrea, who is doing a great job. The building looks as it did when it was built except for some modernization and structural stability. What a lot of fun and nostalgia.

Joe, Jean, Donna and Diane eventually moved into a house just down the street from the theatre, that Joe built, and this is the home Joanne came to when she was born. The family moved to Winnipeg when Joanne was 2 years old.

Joanne’s childhood home.

The next endeavor Joe started was with his best friend Steve. The 2 buddies took over a trucking company and expanded it into a pretty major business, thus, the Roblin Truck Service was born! This is a photo of the 2 best friends in front of one of their original trucks, taken June 2018.

Henry and Stan had a fun afternoon of Hillbilly Festivities at the Meridell Mud Bog 😳. People participated in ‘burnouts’, which is spinning the tires on a steel plate, just to make smoke! Then, all types of vehicles raced down a 200 foot mud bog, to see who could do it fastest. There was perogies, beer and lots of mud!

Gender reveal, Hillbilly style – it’s a girl!

** Sunday, August 18th – we’ve been on the road for 20 weeks and have driven 28,300 kms / 17,584 miles. We’ve now passed through or visited Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minneapolis, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota and Manitoba.

We spent a few days touring around the area. Joanne’s family used to have a cabin at Madge Lake, not that she remembers it at all 😉. We also went to the dam at Lake of the Prairies, which is a good fishing spot when the water is higher.

There are even 3 ski hills near Roblin 🤪 and they have mountain biking set up for the summer. We went to 2 of them and enjoyed walking around. We thought how fun it would be to come for a ski vacation, until we found out that the temperature is rarely warmer than -25C/-13F 😱 so we think we’ll just enjoy seeing it in the summer! 😉

So here’s something pretty cool – we drove to Magnetic Hill to see what that was all about. It is a natural phenomenon that supposedly has a magnetic force in the earth. Guess what? It really did work! We were extremely skeptical so had to try it many times, but each time, the car rolled up hill while being in neutral – Henry even checked the road with a level to make sure we were actually on a hill. Who’d a thunk we’d find something like this in Manitoba.😊

In Togo, there is a elderly gentleman that has been working on building a stone house, all by himself, for the past 7 years. It’s been at a standstill for quite a while and it appears he may have given up. Such a shame, as it’s quite spectacular and would be a lovely home.

Henry and Stan had full intentions of spending a few days fishing at Lake of the Prairies, but unfortunately, the weather (high winds) didn’t cooperate. So, always being resourceful, we drove out to Swan River to a store that specialized in Pickerel, loaded up the cooler and continued on our way.

We ended the day picking sour cherries, that Lydia made into an amazing pie!

We were pretty excited to see that The Great Trail runs through Roblin and in the surrounding areas. We had a lot of finding it and even got Stan and Lydia on it . . . in a vehicle! 😂

Joanne’s God Mother, Auntie Stella, also lives in Roblin. We had a great time catching up with her, and always laugh a lot when we’re around this firecracker of a lady!

Joanne and her Godmother, Stella

Our final night in Roblin was so relaxing and special. Jordy and Jason joined us and we had a wiener roast around the fire, chatted, laughed and just had a wonderful time.

Thank you Stan and Lydia for everything. 😘

We left Manitoba a few pounds heavier, thanks to a fill of the best pedaheh (perogies), borscht, holopchi (cabbage rolls), dill pickles, pickerel, pies, buns and a whole lot more! And, with Monty’s freezer stuffed with bologna, borscht, kubasa (sausage) and pickerel, all we can say is . . A good time was had by all.😃

Driving through Saskatchewan, we made a stop in Moose Jaw to visit the tunnels made famous by Al Capone. At the time of prohibition, Moose Jaw was well know as Little Chicago. Because alcohol was prohibited in the USA, bootleggers used Moose Jaw and the rail line to get alcohol into Chicago, where Al Capone was the head of all criminal activity. The tunnels allowed for secretly moving illegal goods out of sight from the law. Al Capone visited here many times to keep on top of his supply.

We stopped in Medicine Hat, Alberta as we continue our journey home.

The adventure continues!

The Dakota’s

We have now ventured into parts unknown . . . South Dakota!

Our first stop was in Sioux Falls.

The next day we drove to our home base for the next few days, Rapid City. It turns out that we arrived in the midst of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which explains why it was so hard to get a campsite. The rally has been happening for 79 years in Sturgis, which is fairly close to where we are. Hundreds of thousands of motorcyclists attend the festivities – it’s a pretty awesome event and something we really wanted to see one day!

As we were getting closer to our campsite, we kept seeing billboards advertising 3 nights for $39, which was no where close to what we were paying, at $80 a night! So of course we asked about this deal that we weren’t getting. We figured because of the Sturgis Rally, prices were up. Not so! Our RV park, Rushmore Shadows, is a membership resort, and, if we would attend a brief ‘membership introduction meeting’, we too could camp for $13 a night!

Yes, we attended the time-share meeting. No, we did not sign up for anything. Yes, we camped 3 nights for $39! 😊

So, with the money we saved, it was a no-brainer to sign up for a day of sightseeing. With thousands of motorcyclists in the area, it was extremely busy and we didn’t want to take the chance of being turned away from any parks, again, so thought this was a good idea.

It was an early start as we were picked up at the resort and driven the short distance to Fort Hayes, for an all you can eat pancake breakfast!

Fort Hays was where the movie ‘Dances With Wolves’ was filmed.

After breakfast, we boarded our bus for a guided tour of the Black Hills.

Original Tour Bus
Our Bus

First stop – Mount Rushmore National Memorial! This was our main reason to come to South Dakota and we couldn’t believe we were finally here!

The detail of the carving was incredible, and the fact that you could actually see the glasses that Theodore Roosevelt wore, was amazing. So cool. A lot of the area is under construction, so we couldn’t get as close, but it was still pretty impressive.

Mount Rushmore was originally going to be carvings of 4 famous cowboys/movie stars. Gutzon Borglum, the artist, decided on four presidents because from his perspective, they represented the most important events in the history of the United States. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson were the first 3 easy decisions, but the 4th choice was not so easy. After some debate, it was agreed that Teddy Roosevelt would be the 4th face, as he was to represent the development of the United States.

The purpose of the memorial is to communicate the founding, expansion, preservation, and unification of the United States with colossal statues of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt.”

Gutzon Borglum

Back in the bus, we drove the Peter Norbeck National Scenic Byway that took us over the Iron Mountains, through some teeny, tiny tunnels that the bus barely fit, and over some pretty awesome ‘pigtail’ bridges. Peter Norbeck designed the road system and tunnels before Mount Rushmore was even carved, but his vision was totally evident. As you exited each tunnel, the view from every one of them is Mount Rushmore! Pretty neat since it was just a blank mountain at the time of the tunnel construction.

Pigtail Bridge

We then drove through Custer State Park to view wildlife, but we only saw one big Elk buck.

Our next stop was for lunch at the State Game Lodge, which was once the presidential summer house to President Calvin Coolidge. It was a great lunch and their specialty was Buffalo Burgers and Buffalo Stew.

Back in the bus for a drive along the Needles Highway for more beautiful scenery and tiny tunnels. Our bus was 8 feet wide and one of the tunnels was 8 feet 4 inches wide, so it was a fun, tight fit!

We had a quick pit stop at Sylvan Lake, which was a beautiful man-made lake located at the bottom of Harney Peak.

Our final tour stop was at Crazy Horse Memorial. It was started by Korzak Ziolkowski in 1948 (and is still being worked on by his children and grandchildren), and once complete, this tribute to the Lakota leader will be the largest mountain carving in South Dakota, and the world. Ziolkowski was adamant that the government not be involved in funding the project, to ensure he didn’t have to hand control over to any official, so lack of funds have greatly slowed the project down. They are currently working on the outstretched arm and hand, and there is no completion date on the horizon.

The bus dropped us back off at a Fort Hays for a Chuckwagon Supper and Dinner Show. For any of you that know Timberline Ranch in Maple Ridge, that is what the experience reminded us of! We had a ‘cowboy supper’ (baked potato, beans, applesauce, beef and chicken) slapped on our tin plate, with a bun and coffee cake placed on top. It was really good 😃. We then had to clean our plates and tables to get ready for the show. The wranglers that served us then took the stage for a fun music and comedy show!

We were exhausted by the time we were dropped back off at Monty, but it was a an excellent day full of history and amazing scenery!

And yes, we did have to check out Sturgis! All we kept thinking about was Clint Eastwood and ‘Every Which Way But Loose’. Right turn, Clyde!!! 🤪

Driving from South Dakota to North Dakota is pretty well a straight road heading north. Not much more to say about that!🙄

We stayed in the town of Dickinson, which is fairly close to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. We drove most of the scenic route through the park – part of it was closed due to a mudslide – so couldn’t make a complete loop. We saw wild horses, prairie dogs and lots of buffalo!

The nearest town to the park is Medora, and there are 2 names you hear a lot as you wander the quaint cowboy town: Marquis de Mores and Theodore Roosevelt.

Medora was founded in 1883 by French nobleman Marquis de Mores, who named the city after his wife Medora von Hoffman. He wanted to ship refrigerated meat to Chicago via the railroad so he built a meat packing plant for this purpose and a house named the Chateau de Mores, which is now a museum.

Theodore Roosevelt had started visiting the town from the time he was a young man, aged 24, for hunting, and fell in love with it and the Dakota’s. He invested in ranches in the area in the 1880’s and later stopped by Medora on a Presidential visit in 1903. Theodore Roosevelt was one of the most influential and iconic Presidents in the history of the United States — and he believed that he would not have reached the heights he did, had it not been for his time in Medora and the Badlands of North Dakota.

Medora is well known for the Medora Musical, which is a musical revue set in the beautiful outdoor Burning Hills Amphitheater, and takes a look back at the Wild West days of the region and includes a lot of references to Theodore Roosevelt. It first premiered in 1965.

The Burning Hills Amphitheater itself was first built in 1958, one mile west of Medora, for the production of ‘Old Four-Eyes’ to help celebrate Theodore Roosevelt’s 100th birthday. This show died due to lack of interest and closed in 1964, but was soon taken over, revamped, and became the Medora Musical.

The view was spectacular and the stage was a replica of the old town. There were a few horses – not enough for our liking 😉 – and the production was ok. It’s an extremely popular show and rated very high on TripAdvisor, so we guess it’s the right thing to do when in Medora. Not the best show we’ve ever seen, but when in North Dakota . . . . . .

Our last night in North Dakota was in Minot, which was also our final night of this trip in the USA. The adventure continues! 😎

Family, Friends and Fun 😎

We had a very long day as we left Montreal (even though we never actually saw it 😉), bypassed Ottawa, skirted around Toronto, and finally arrived to Niagara Falls, Ontario.

We are now on the ‘Social Trail’ as we will be visiting family and friends in places we have been, and lived!

We were very excited to spend the weekend with Joanne’s cousins – Mert (Darlene), Robert, Braden, Reiss and Melissa. We spent Saturday visiting around the pool in their beautiful back yard, and were treated to several feasts throughout the day. Playing in the pool, eating, drinking and catching up was exactly what we needed and we enjoyed ourselves immensely! 😎

Joseph’s college roommate from USC now lives in St. Catherine’s, which is very close to Niagara Falls. Many of you may remember Cesar best as Joseph’s ‘flat mate’! Cesar was in the USA on refugee status from El Salvador since he was a child, and was unable to leave the US for Joseph and Hannah’s wedding, so we made a life sized cardboard cutout of him and he was a ‘groomsman’ at the wedding. Cesar’s ‘other self’ has been wakesurfing, attended several parties, participated in the family Amazing Race, travelled by motorhome across Canada to Michigan, and returned by movers back to California a few years ago!

Cesar at the wedding

Anyways, Cesar is now a Permanent Resident of Canada 🇨🇦 🎉 – a loss for the US but a fabulous gain for the aerospace industry in our country. We met up with him and visited the falls then went for a nice lunch with a great view of the falls. We were a shoddy influence on him since the best parking was at the Fallsview Casino, as long as you signed up and gambled a small amount 😳, parking was free. We had such a nice time with him since he is like a second son to us. 🥰

We did not realize that Nikola Tesla had an influence at Niagara Falls, and that the power plants here were based on his inventions.

Here are some photos of Niagara Falls. One side is American, one side is Canadian. Even though they are both spectacular, we know which one we think is absolutely stunning! 😉 🇨🇦

And then we introduced Cesar to the cousins!! He actually knew Reiss from when Reiss was in California working, and had met Braden there also. Robert and Mert are members of the Wayne Gretzky Wine Club, so they treated us to an amazing afternoon of VIP wine tasting and rye-whiskey-ginger imbibing! It was so much fun and again, shoddy influences on Cesar, as he just might sign up for the wine club!

We had so much fun and enjoyed the company, we miss them all already!

Our next stop was Guelph to visit Henry’s Tante Trudy who is Henry’s Dad’s sister. 🥰 She made wonderful lunch for us and we were so pleasantly surprised that Henry’s cousin, Trudy, and her husband Mike, joined us also. Henry has not seen Trudy in about 35 years, so it was great for the cousins to catch up!

Tante Trudy and Nephew Henry

We then carried on to our old stomping grounds, Windsor! We lived in Windsor, which borders the Detroit River and Detroit, for 2 years when Joseph and Hannah we’re living in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We loved living there and were so happy to be ‘home’!

Windsor and it’s surrounding area has so much history. As a border settlement, it was a site of conflict during the War of 1812, a major entry point into Canada for refugees from slavery via the Underground Railroad, and a major source of liquor during American Prohibition.

Our campsite was one we rode our bikes past so many times, as it is right beside one of our favourite trails, The Chrysler Canada Greenway! It brought back such great memories for us.

It just so happened that friends of ours (from across the hall in our old condo building), Tom and Joanne, were also at the same campsite as us! They have their trailer there for the summer as a fun getaway. It was so special to see them and catch up. They treated us to a wonderful dinner in the beautiful town of Amherstburg.

Henry, Joanne, Joanne and Tom

We wish we could have stayed in Windsor longer and catch up with more friends, but we had to move on.

We crossed the border into Detroit with fond memories and reminisced about the many times we drove this route to visit the kids in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Good times 😎

We carried on, driving through Michigan, a bit of Indiana, and finally in to Illinois. We channeled the Blues Brothers as we pulled in to Joliet, which is just outside Chicago. We’ve stayed at Leisure Lake RV Village a few times now, so it was familiar to stay there again.

We then had a very, very long day driving through Wisconsin and into Minnesota. We settled for a few days in Maple Grove, which is a suburb of Minneapolis.

We spent our first day cycling several of the amazing paths around Maple Grove. We’ve said this before, but this time we really, really mean it . . . these were our most favourite bike paths we’ve been on so far! Miles and miles of paved paths, meandering around several lakes, and even took us to the Mississippi River at Coon Rapids Dam. We even rode by a massive ski resort – well, massive for Minnesota standards we guess!

Catching up with more friends, we drove into Minneapolis to meet up with Pete and Suki, who are good friends with our friends Frank and Liz! We had fun with Suki many times up at Big White and it was so nice to connect again!

Joanne, Suki, Pete and Henry

We then caught up with our long time friends of over 30 years, Rick and Kim. We first met this fabulous couple when we were all on vacation in Manzanillo, staying at Las Hadas Resort 😎. We hit it off with them from the first meeting at the pool and spent the rest of our holiday together. Joanne spent a fair bit of that trip checking out the inside of toilet bowls, and it was Kim who was convinced that Joanne was pregnant and not experiencing Montezuma’s Revenge! 🤢 She was right!

Kim is an Interior Designer and we met at one of her spectacular show homes in Maple Grove. Very impressive 👍. It was so nice to spend time together laughing and catching up. We also got to meet their youngest daughter Sophie and her husband John, and their friend Erica. Sophie wasn’t born yet when we first visited Minnesota with Joseph, and we didn’t get to see any of the kids last time we visited, so this was extra special.

This family that we love so much, is going through what no family should ever have to go through. Rick and Kim’s 2 year old granddaughter, Olivia, has cancer.

Darrin, Grace (Rick and Kim’s daughter), their new born baby, Will, and of course, adorable little Olivia found out a few weeks ago that Olivia was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, cancerous tumors that have already spread to the bone marrow in her hips, spine, and femurs.

It breaks our hearts to know that this precious little child has many more cycles of chemotherapy ahead of her (she’s already losing her hair from the first round), blood transfusions, radiation and all the complications that go along with her immune system being compromised. She has a challenging 18 months ahead of her.

We didn’t get to see them at all because Olivia’s fever was out of control and she had to be admitted into the hospital again.

We know the family would greatly appreciate your thoughts and prayers for little Olivia, and you are very welcome to visit the website they’ve created.

https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/oliviabeekman

No child should ever have to deal with this. Cancer sucks.

Well, we had such a fabulous time with our family and friends, but it’s now time to resume our journey and head back in to parts unknown! The adventure continues! 😎

The Best-Laid Plans of Mice And Men Often Go Awry!

A bit of Canadian history for you:

The Province of Quebec’s name came from the Algonquin People as their word “Kebec“ means ‘where the river narrows’, referring to the St. Lawrence, which runs from the outlet of Lake Ontario into the Gulf of St. Lawrence then into the Atlantic. It is narrow right where Quebec City is situated.

Quebec City is one of the oldest European settlements in North America and the only fortified city north of Mexico whose walls still exist. It is the oldest municipality in the province (1608) and in the 17th century, the first French explorers, fur trappers, and missionaries arrived to establish a colony.

The British were persistent in their efforts to dislodge the French from North America and in 1759, the French were beaten and the battle symbolically marked the death of New France and the birth of British Canada.

British rule was a boon for Québec City. Thanks to more robust trade and large capital investments, the fishing, fur-trading, shipbuilding, and timber industries expanded rapidly.

The constitution of 1791 established Québec City as the capital of Lower Canada, a position it held until 1840, when the Act of Union united Upper and Lower Canada and made Montréal the capital. When Canada was created in 1867 by the Act of Confederation – remember, we gave you this history lesson in the last blog 😉 – which united four colonial provinces (Québec, Ontario, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia), Québec City was named the province’s capital city, a role it continues to play. In Québec, however, the city is still known officially as ‘la Capitale Nationale’.

Walking the streets of the city, it was so hard to believe we were in Canada! It really felt like we were wandering the streets of England or France. The architecture is a combination of both countries, and quite beautiful.

One of the most stunning buildings in Old Quebec is the Château Frontenac, which is a historic hotel built in 1893 for the Canadian Pacific Railway Company.

As per usual, we did the Hop On Hop Off bus to see the city, but our ticket also included a boat tour on the St. Lawrence River. The boat took us out to view Montmorency Falls – a beautiful waterfall that is  83 meters (272 feet) tall, which is a full 30 meters (99 feet) higher than Niagara Falls! It was great to see and hard to believe it’s so close to the city.

Our boat was named after Louis Jolliet, a French-Canadian explorer, born near Quebec City in 1645. Jolliet and his party were the first explorers to locate the upper reaches of the Mississippi River, in 1663, and his main legacy is most noted in the Midwestern United States and Quebec, mostly through geographical names, including the cities of Joliet, Illinois; Joliet, Montana; and Joliette, Quebec.

The French-Canadians seem to be a fit lot, what with walking the hilly streets, climbing a ton of stairs, and cycling on the amazing bike paths along the river! We cycled the Parc de Champlain and think the Tour de France must have inspired a whole lot of people, as there was Lycra everywhere, and they don’t ride slow!

Our new local food that we just had to try was Poutine, and there is nothing healthy about that! Good thing we cycled 34kms/21 miles today. 😎

And here’s where it gets interesting . . . . 

As Joanne’s Dad always says, ‘when you wake up in the morning, you never know how your day will unfold’. Well, we had one of those days that just didn’t go as planned.

It started out great – we had a short, lovely drive from Quebec City to Montreal, got settled in a really nice RV Park that was to be our home for the next few days, relaxed and started to plan our time in Montreal.

Then we got the phone call.

The water main in front of our house in Kelowna burst and was bubbling out of the ground on the street and flowing down our driveway towards our house! 😬

Big thanks to our neighbours – Nola for noticing the water, Jean and Dale, and Darlene for letting us use their water, and Jodi, who spent her Friday evening (why does disaster happen 5pm on Fridays?) dealing with the City of Kelowna Emergency Utility Workers as they were able to finally shut off the main water to our house. 

Having no water for our yard and beautiful gardens would not be ideal in an Okanagan summer, but when the words ‘looks like we have to tear up the stamped concrete, heated driveway’ were uttered by the workers, Henry was booking flights!

So, in less than 24 hours from being notified, we flew out of Montreal and arrived home to Kelowna. 

Poor Monty, left by himself in the 35C/100F summer heat of Montreal.😢 At least he wasn’t totally alone, he had the Eiffel Tower to keep him company!

After a few busy days of phone calls, different trades coming to the house, several quotes for the repairs, fighting with the insurance company, and reassurance that the driveway didn’t need to be damaged, we were able to hook up temporary water (thanks again to our neighbours). There is a machine that can drill under the driveway and put in a new water line without tearing up or damaging our current driveway – yay! The earliest appointment we could get for this particular machine is at the end of August!

Back to Montreal we flew to continue our adventure! ✈️ Of course, again, not quite as planned, our flight from Vancouver to Montreal was cancelled at the last moment, so we had to do the milk run and fly Vancouver to Toronto to Montreal, making it a very long day. But we made it and were ready to carry on, and happy to see Monty again! 👍

** Sunday, July 21st – we have been traveling for 16 weeks / 4 months! We finished off the Eastern USA with Maine, and have conquered Eastern Canada with New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Quebec!  We’ve driven 23,000 kms / 14,292 miles! 🤪

July 22nd – Happy 9th Anniversary to Joseph and Hannah! Wishing you many, many more years of love and happiness! 🥰

We had great plans for Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto, but with it being summer and quite busy at the campsites, we were not able to change all our reservations, so it looks like we have to save some adventure for another time. We now carry on into ‘parts known’ as our next section of the journey takes us places we are very familiar with, visiting family and friends along the way!

🇨🇦 Oh Canada 🇨🇦

Our home and native land. 🇨🇦 We arrived to Fredericton, New Brunswick in time to celebrate Canada Day on July 1st. 🎉 Fredericton is the Capital City of New Brunswick.

Canada Day is the Canadian version of the American 4th of July. On July 1, 1867, the nation was officially born when the Constitution Act joined three provinces into one country: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Province of Canada, which then split into Ontario and Quebec. However, Canada was not completely independent of England until 1982. 

It was so cute at the RV Park to see all the kids, and there was a lot of them 😜, ride their decorated bikes in the ‘parade’ and then head to the clubhouse for cake.  Nice also to see the Canadian pride with all the decorated RV’s and sites. 🇨🇦

What a perfect way to celebrate Canada Day by cycling along the Trans Canada Trail – aka The Great Trail 😎. As the longest recreational trail in the world, The Great Trail offers a wide range of activities through a variety of landscapes – urban, rural and wilderness. It goes right across Canada and can be accessed by hiking, biking, paddling, cross-country skiing or snowmobiling. And, it just happens to pass right in front of our campsite! You can look up the map at thegreattrail.ca.

We rode into Fredericton along the St. John River on an old rail bed and stopped for a great lunch and beer – sadly, no lobster! 🦞

A surprise on the way, the trail goes right beside the Government House of the Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick, and it was open for tours, so we just had to pop in and check it out. The present, and 31st, Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick is Jocelyne Roy-Vienneau, who has served in the role since 23 October, 2014. The house was rebuilt after a fire in 1826 and has served many roles in its history. 

The Coat of Arms Motto of New Brunswick is ‘SPEM REDUXIT’, which is translated as ‘Hope Restored’, representing the establishment of New Brunswick as a home of refuge for settlers, when a vast influx of British Loyalists flowed into the area following their expulsion from the newly formed United States in 1784.

It was a great way to spend Canada Day, and with all the red and white everywhere, we felt quite patriotic! 🇨🇦

We did a day trip to St. John to view the natural phenomenon of the Reversing Falls Rapids and the Bay of Fundy! It is an amazing feat of nature that happens every six hours and is quite exciting to view. 

The St. John River flows through the Bay of Fundy into the Atlantic Ocean. Each time the tide changes, the flow of the river is reversed. At high tide the flow is upstream and water is forced up the river, and the effects can be be seen even 90 kms/60 miles up the river in Fredericton! For about 20 minutes at each slack tide, the river is motionless and boats can navigate the rapids safely. Then at low tide, the opposite happens and all that water rushes out as the Bay of Fundy empties into the ocean. 

You can’t really tell by the photos, but we watched the river flow in one direction, stop, then flow in the opposite direction. It was pretty cool.

We also witnessed the extreme tides at the beaches on the Bay of Fundy in St. John, although this day there was only 22 feet of height difference between high and low tide, where at times, the upper reaches of the Bay Of Fundy can experience over 50 feet of difference! We really enjoyed learning what Mother Nature can do!

And, here’s a few examples of some famous people from St. John. 😃

Continuing on our journey of Canada, we moved into the beautiful province of Nova Scotia and settled into a campsite near Halifax.

A day exploring took us to Lunenburg, Mahone Bay and Peggy’s Cove.

Lunenburg is the home port of the famous Bluenose II, which is a replica of the Bluenose, which was a fishing and racing schooner built in 1921 in Nova Scotia. From 1921-1938, Bluenose was the envy of all the nations that participated in racing their fishing vessels and still retains the final win in that type of racing. For anyone who knows our Canadian money, the Bluenose is the ship engraved on our 10 cent coin, the dime!

We were looking very forward to touring the vessel, and after searching around the port of Lunenburg looking for it – surely it’s a large ship that we would notice?! – we found out it wasn’t there! She just happens to be traveling with the Tall Ships Tour of North America 😳and won’t be back to Lunenberg for a few months! 

We then stopped for lunch at a fabulous seafood restaurant in the adorable village of Mahone Bay. Fresh Cod Tacos 🌮! Yes, we could have had fresh lobster, but are kinda lobstered-out! 

Peggy’s Cove is a quaint village and home to the world famous Peggy’s Point Lighthouse – the most photographed Lighthouse in Canada. If you are a tourist in this area, please do not step on the black rocks!

We met our young friends, Merissa and Curtis, at Rinaldo’s Pizza Place in Halifax, for a fun evening! Merissa was one of our daughter-in-law, Hannah’s, college roommates at Memorial University in Newfoundland. It was great to catch up with her and meet her husband! They just celebrated their one year Anniversary. 💕We picked this restaurant because the chef, Rick, just happened to once work at our friend’s Pizza Place in Roblin, Manitoba! Small world. Lydia, this one’s for you 😘 

July 6th – Happy 30th Birthday to our wonderful son! Where did the time go?!? We’re so proud of you, Joseph, and the man you’ve become. Love you lots, kid 💖and miss you tons 😘

Spent the day in Halifax. Met for lunch with our family friends, Darlene and Ken,  who are also on holidays in Nova Scotia. We were at a great restaurant on the wharf, The Bicycle Thief, and it was fun to catch up with them.

Ken and Darlene

Halifax was once the main port of entry for Immigrants from Europe to enter Canada. From 1928 to 1971, Pier 21 is where the boats would dock and the immigrants would be processed and given their Canadian papers. Over 1,000,000 people passed through this pier, and 2 of them were Henry’s parents, immigrating from Holland, on their honeymoon!! Henry found it quite emotional knowing we were right where his parents entered the country and became proud Canadians, 63 years ago!

In the late 1800’s/early 1900’s, at Pier 2 (about a mile away), is where Joanne’s Grandparents immigrated from the Ukraine to become Canadians! We tried to find their records of arrival, but there were so many spellings of the last name, that we couldn’t find anything official in the short time we had. But, we were given a copy of the record of their marriage at Rossburn, Manitoba dated 13 June 1902. 😃

Pier 21 is now the Canadian Immigration Museum and we really enjoyed it. There is a cute, very Canadian, play performed every day, and a short movie with more recent immigrants. Well worth a visit if you’re in Halifax!

Moving on in Nova Scotia, we headed to Cape Breton Island, which is about as far East as you can go on the North American Continent. Cape Breton Island is attached to mainland Nova Scotia by a rock passageway called the Canso Causeway. We are at a great campsite near Baddeck, on Bras d’Or Lake – Arm of Gold Lake – which is a salt and freshwater lake, as it is connected to the Atlantic Ocean by natural channels.

This part of Canada is called the Cape Breton Highlands, and has quite the Scottish influence. Gaelic is the second language, not French, and even the signs are in English and Gaelic. There is also a Gaelic College nearby.

Baddeck is the beautiful town where Alexander Graham Bell had his home – Benn Breigh –  and ‘kite shop ‘. We toured the museum and saw many of his  inventions. What an amazing man! After he made his money inventing the telephone, he spent his time working on devices for the hearing impaired, airplanes and hydroplane boats. He was working on airplanes at the same time as the Wright Brothers, and one of his planes (the Silver Dart) was the first controlled power flight in Canada – 1909. The tetrahedron was his favourite shape and he used it as the basis for many of his theories of flight. He also experimented with hydrofoil water crafts, and built one that eventually set the Marine Speed Record of 70.86 mph / 114 kph in 1919. It was called the HD-4.

In case you were wondering . . . . Citizenship controversy: Bell was born in Scotland, moved to Canada, lived for a time in America and died in Canada. Invention controversy: Bell claimed the telephone was invented in Canada but made in the United States of America. In 1880, Bell’s father, Alexander Melville Bell filed his own telephone patent stating his residence as Brantford, Ontario, Canada.

The Cabot Trail. Turns out it’s not a trail, but a road in dire need of repair, 😬 and had nothing to do with John Cabot (the explorer who discovered the coast of North America in 1497), it just happens to be named after him! We took a cable ferry from Englishtown to start the loop of the trail. It took longer to load the ferry than it did to cross the inlet!

Cable Ferry

There are various hiking trails accessible from the road, but we chose to do the long, long drive around – 300kms/187 miles 😳 and stop at lookouts to appreciate the views. It was so nice to see the fishing villages and drive through the towns. It was a long day of sitting in the truck, but it had to be done!

On to a new Province . . . . Prince Edward Island! We took the ferry over to Wood Islands and then drove to our campsite near Charlottetown. We couldn’t believe how many vehicles, RV’s and semi’s they fit on board!

PEI – home to Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of ‘Anne of Green Gables’. But, PEI is also home to the best potatoes you can imagine; fresh lobster, oysters, mussels; bike trails across the whole island as they converted all the railways to trails; and just happens to be the birthplace of Confederation for Canada! All this on one little island.

We toured the home where LM Montgomery was born, then went to see the houses, farms and town that inspired her to write Anne of Green Gables, which was first published in 1908. There is even a shopping/restaurant ‘town’ that was designed to represent Avonlea.

‘Jo’Anne of Green Gables

The Great Trail runs across PEI and is referred to as the Confederation Trail, so we just had to take a ride on it! We started in St. Peter’s Bay and rode along one of the prettiest sections that passed a mussel farm, where hundreds of thousands of mussels are being raised.

There are fields as far as the eye can see, of potatoes, so we’d be amiss if we didn’t stop to purchase some. Of course, not all of them are healthy, but sure tasted good!

Here’s a Canadian history lesson for you. In 1864, the leaders of the Colonies New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, were planning a meeting in regards to forming a union to avoid being absorbed by the United States, as the Civil War was happening at this time. The leaders of the rest of the Canadian Colonies heard about this meeting and asked if they could come listen in. The conference was to take place in Charlottetown, PEI, mainly because the PEI leaders declared they would not put any money out for travel expenses, so everyone had to come to them! 

Long story short, the Charlottetown Conference (September 1-9, 1864) was where the foundation was laid to put their differences aside and commit to being one great country, united in commerce and defense. In 1867, the process was finalized as Queen Victoria gave Royal ascent and recognized Canada as its own country!

One of the Father’s of Confederation, Thomas Heath Haviland (a lifelong resident of Charlottetown), declared “It may yet be said that here in little Prince Edward Island was that Union formed which has produced one of the greatest nations on the face of God’s Earth.”

Historic Charlottetown was really quaint and quite beautiful.

We arrived to PEI by ferry but left the Island crossing over the Confederation Bridge, which is 8 miles long and considered the longest bridge in the world that crosses ice-covered  waters. Funny thing, it is free to take the ferry or bridge to PEI, but you do have to pay to exit the Island! Driving over the bridge was a highlight for Henry as it was something he always wanted to do. Our son, Joseph, remembers spending time at Oma and Opa’s house, watching the video of the building of this bridge!

Confederation Bridge

We really enjoyed our visit to the Maritimes, especially Prince Edward Island, and were so happy to experience Eastern Canada 🇨🇦. We’ve been to Newfoundland before (which we loved), so didn’t include it this time. This side of our country is very special and we totally appreciated the fishing villages, quaint oceanside towns, gorgeous scenery, cycle trails and friendly, down to earth people.

It’s now time to brush up on our high-school French 😬.  Nous continuons maintenant vers l’ouest jusqu’au Québec!

The Adirondacks, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine

We left the hubbub of the Boston area and our full campground of young families, for the peace and tranquility of the Adirondacks in Upstate New York! We settled in to an RV Park in Lake Luzerne, which is in between Lake George, Saratoga Springs and Glens Falls, New York. Our new campground was virtually empty and we couldn’t get over how quiet it was! It does appear, however, that instead of us feasting on lobsta and chowda, the mosquitoes will be feasting on us 😳

Lake George is a summer resort town full of motels, campsites, mini-golf, restaurants, water sports and outlet shopping. It was once a summer getaway for the rich and famous,  but is now more of a fun, family vacation town. Due to its proximity to Lake Champlain, it was considered the gateway between Montreal and New York, so Fort William Henry (1755) was built here for the war between the British and the French. 

The Minne-ha-ha is an old steamship paddle-wheeler that cruises the lake. 

We drove up Prospect Mountain to check out the ‘100 mile view’, but due to the inclement weather, probably only saw 50 miles or so! 😉

We then drove to Saratoga Springs, which is the Gateway to the Adirondacks, but most famous for its racecourse. Dating back to 1864, The Travers is the oldest major thoroughbred horse race in America.  The racecourse doesn’t open until July, but the Harness Racing on the adjacent track was running, so we spent the afternoon at the track!

We then took a drive to Glens Falls in search of Coopers Cave, which inspired author James Fenimore Cooper to write one of his most famous and beloved novels, ‘The Last of the Mohicans’. Tourists are not allowed near the cave anymore, but it was not a wasted trip. Glens Falls is another adorable summer resort town and we did find a fabulous restaurant, Morgan and Co., for a wonderful dinner. 

Morgan and Co. Restaurant

Leaving the State of New York to Vermont, we took the highly rated and incredibly scenic route through the Adirondacks. Well, at least we have to take everyone’s word for it  . . . . the weather was dismal, the rain heavy (torrential sums it up), and the low lying cloud hampered any view we might have had. At least it was a relatively short drive, only a few hours, and we made it unscathed. 👍☔️ We’re staying at a campsite just out of Burlington on the island called South Hero, which is part of the Islands of Lake Champlain.

Vermont, famous for its ski resorts, maple syrup and autumn splendor, BUT, most importantly, the birthplace of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream🍦so of course we had to take a factory tour that included yummy samples!

We carried on to Stowe to check out the ski resort there. Stowe Valley has a pass called Smugglers Notch that goes up in to Canada and was used a lot during prohibition to smuggle alcohol down to the US!

And guess what? Do you know where the von Trapp family moved to after they fled Austria in 1938?? Yup, Stowe, Vermont! In 1942 they bought a hilltop farm in Vermont that reminded them of Austria and by 1950 they opened the Trapp Family Lodge as a winter resort for skiers, mainly cross country skiers. Of course, they also recently opened a brewery that we just had to try out – The von Trapp Brewery and Bierhall  – Prost 🍻

We did a day trip to visit the Shelburne museum, that was founded by Electra Webb. When Mrs. Webb founded Shelburne Museum in 1947, it was at first a place to preserve her family’s collection of horse-drawn carriages. Before long, however, she realized that she had a rare opportunity to create what she described as a “collection of collections”.

With money not an issue (her family made their fortune in sugar and also married into the Vanderbilt’s) she searched the countryside throughout New England and New York to find historic buildings that would provide appropriate settings for her collections, and she relocated them to the Museum grounds: houses, barns, a meeting house, a one-room schoolhouse, a lighthouse, a jail, a general store, a covered bridge, and the 220-foot steamboat Ticonderoga! We watched a video showing the move of the ‘Ti” from the nearby bay up the distance to the museum. They had to move it in the winter when the ground was frozen and it took 65 days to travel the 2 miles. Well worth checking out if you’re in the area.

We then stopped at the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory. We were too late for a tour to watch them make the bears, but it was a cute place to visit.

** Sunday, June 23rd – we’ve been on the road 3 months! 😎 We’ve driven 10,500 miles / 16,900 kms and have added New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Vermont to our list of States visited.

Sunny weekends are always busy days for a bike ride, but our last day in Vermont and an old rail trail was calling. Typical for us, it was another adventure!

We rode along the trail into Burlington. It was really nice cycling along Lake Champlain.

We stopped at a fun bistro that just happened to have Bluegrass Brunch going on, so we really enjoyed our break and the music. And no stop would be complete without ice cream – or as they call it in Vermont – a creamee .🍦

Burlington is a college town with a lot of young hipsters – crap, we’re getting old!! Vegetarian, Vegan, Hemp, au natural, serious cyclists, runners, Subaru’s and ice cream!

We were only 45 minutes from the Canadian Border and 2 hours away from Montreal, which totally explained why most of the tourists were visiting from Quebec and speaking French! What did surprise us was that a few of the tourist attractions we were at spoke, or had directions, in English and French. We just weren’t expecting that in Vermont.

Vermont is beautiful and sure reminds us of BC. We’re not quite ready to return to Canada, so we carry on our journey.

We love chocolate, obviously, and enjoy many, many different brands, but, as good as they all our, our ultimate  favourite is Lindt. Well, who knew that the USA factory for Lindt chocolate was in Stratham, New Hampshire??? We left with a mere 8 pounds of assorted chocolates and would have bought more if our fridge was bigger! 🤪

We continued driving on to the Portland, Maine area, which will be home for the next few days.

These are cities in Maine, not International destinations!

We took a drive along the coast to check out the Nubble Lighthouse. Cape Neddick Point is at the north end of Long Sands Beach in the village of York, and it’s at this ‘nub’ of land that the lighthouse was built in 1879.

We continued our drive to see the seaside villages of Kennebunkport and Old Orchard Beach. It was a bit rainy and not too busy, but still difficult to find parking. Can only imagine how busy it is in the summer with good weather! But, the lobster rolls were delicious!

We did a trip to Portland and then Freeport. Freeport is where the retail company L.L.Bean was founded in 1912 by Leon Leonwood Bean – yes, that’s his real name!  Bean had developed a waterproof boot, which is a combination of lightweight leather uppers and rubber bottoms, that he sold to hunters and it was know as the Bean Boot, or the Maine Hunting Shoe.  The stores now specialize in clothing, and outdoor recreation equipment. 

The town of Freeport basically consists of hundreds of brand-name outlets and local boutiques housed in charming brick buildings, some dating back as far as the 18th century. It is also known for its fabulous cuisine. We feasted, again, on lobster and it was delicious! 🦞

There’s a really nice rail trail close to our campsite, so we had an easy ride along the Great Eastern Trail and a relaxing day enjoying the area.

We left the Portland area and relocated to the Bangor area in a town called Holden.

We spent the afternoon exploring Fort Knox! The other Fort Knox, since we never made it to Kentucky! This Fort was built on the shores of the Penobscot River and the intention was protection from the British, and later, the Confederates. It took 25 years to build (1844-1869) and was very well built, but the funny thing about this Fort, it was never used for battle and never actually housed troops!

Crossing the river is the Penobscot Narrows Bridge which replaced the old bridge in 2007. It is a 2,120 feet long, cable-stayed bridge with an observation tower at the top. We had a beautiful view of the surrounding area, 447 feet above the ground!

Another lobster feast in the town of Ellsworth at a fun restaurant called the Union River Lobster Pot. Their specialty is a lobster pot with steamed lobster, clams, potatoes and corn. Messy but really good! 👍

We took a day to explore Bar Harbor – pronounced Bah Hahbah by the locals 🤪A cute town with quaint shops and lots of restaurants featuring Lobster! 🦞We were lucky that the cruise ships weren’t in port as it wasn’t too busy and we were able to wander the streets. We found a popular restaurant called Side Street Cafe and enjoyed one more feast of Lobster Rolls!

We left Bar Harbor and took a drive through Acadia National Park and up Cadillac Mountain, which just happens to be the highest point (1530 feet) located within 25 miles of the Atlantic Shoreline, all the way from Cape Breton to Mexico! It is also the spot where the first light of the sun hits the USA, so is a very busy destination early in the morning as people flock to watch the sunrise. We didn’t. 😉

Our Eastern Adventure of the United States 🇺🇸 has come to an end. We have thoroughly enjoyed the beauty, history and culture of this part of the country and are thrilled that we were finally able to experience some of what the East Coast has to offer and places we have always wanted to see!

Our adventure continues . . . . . Canada, here we come! 🇨🇦

Cape Cod

Be forewarned – this is a long, jam-packed post full of fun and adventure!

We left New Jersey and drove through New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island in to Massachusetts and are staying at a campsite in Middleboro, which will be our home base for the next 10 days or so. We are about an hour out of Boston.

Our first day trip was in to Boston by train, to walk the 2.5 miles of the Freedom Trail. The Freedom Trail is a unique collection of museums, churches, meeting houses, burying grounds, parks, a ship, and historic markers that tell the story of the American Revolution. We downloaded an App so were able to follow the red brick lines throughout the city and listen to commentary along the way. It was a great way to tour at our own pace. We love the historic New England architecture and enjoyed wandering Beacon Street and around the city. We also spent a fair bit of time in the Boston Common, which is the oldest city park in the US, dating back to 1634, and it’s really nice.

There is so much history in Boston and it was pretty special for us to immerse ourselves in the past and connect with places we have only read about. John Hancock, Samuel Adams and of course, Paul Revere were such major influences in the American Revolution. Contrary to popular belief, Paul Revere did not actually shout the warning ‘The British are Coming!’ as most citizens still identified themselves as British. Rather, he warned ‘The Regulars are coming out!’ as he rode through the town. British Soldiers were known as Regulars.

One thing we wanted to do for sure in Boston was stop in at the Restaurant at the Omni Parker House Hotel – big surprise, our highlight revolved around food! This restaurant is famous for a few things. The earliest (1860’s) would be the chef’s creations of the Parker Dinner Rolls and the Boston Cream Pie 😁 which did not disappoint! The Boston Cream Pie was more like a delicate sponge cake with a thin layer of custard in the middle and oh so good!

The second interesting tidbit about this Hotel Restaurant, at table 40 in the corner by the window, is where JFK proposed to Jackie – so romantic 💕and yes, we totally had to have lunch at that particular table! This restaurant is also the place where JFK announced he would be running for the presidency.

What would a trip to Boston be without checking out Fenway Park and the Red Sox?!?! We hopped on the train again for an afternoon game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Boston lost, but it was still so fun to experience the charm of this historical ballpark.

After the game, we had no choice but to head for beers at the bar (sing along with us now) 🎶 🎵 Where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came . . .🎵🎶 It’s really quite a tourist stop now, but it was fun to be there just the same. Cheers 🍻

Martha’s Vineyard has been on our bucket list for many years, and we finally made it a reality! 🎉 It was an early day as we drove to Hyannis to catch the ferry over to Oak Bluffs. It was so exciting to pass by the Kennedy Compound, even though it was a bit far away.

Martha’s Vineyard is an affluent, summer destination that is on an island accessible by boat or plane. There are several ferries a day, some passenger-only and some with vehicles. We weren’t able to get on the ferry with vehicles, so we took the passenger ferry and rented a little car on the other side.

What is Martha’s Vineyard famous for besides the luxury oceanfront summer homes, beautiful beaches and incredible scenery? Way before it became a top spot for Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, in the 1700’s it was a booming whaling village. Then (1820’s) it became a popular destination summer camp for Methodists and their revival meetings. A whole town was built with the massive revival tent as its center, and where tents once stood as accommodations, in 1859 they were replaced with adorable gingerbread cottages. These tiny houses are less than 1,000 square feet and sell today for over $500,000!

It’s also known for such things as the Chappaquiddick incident involving Ted Kennedy, the filming of the movie Jaws, the plane crash of John Kennedy Jr. just off the shores, and the burial spot of John Belushi. It is an extremely popular summer retreat for celebrities and the well-to-do.

The ocean scenery was beautiful and it was nice to see the Aquinnah Cliffs. We had watched a documentary about the Gayhead Lightouse on the cliffs (built 1799) and how it had it to be moved to avoid falling in to the sea. It was neat to see the footprint of the original lighthouse and the new location.

We absolutely fell in love with the charm of the little towns on the island and adored the architecture of the homes, some that date back to the 1600’s and were owned by boat captains. Our favourite town was Edgartown.

Another day trip and we drove a short distance to the Plimoth Plantation. This is a living, working experience of how life was for the Pilgrims and the Natives. The staff are dressed in period costume, playing roles and always stay ‘in character’. The Wampanoag Natives were burning out a log to make a canoe, which was cool to watch. The colonists were living daily life, working in the gardens, chiseling bench legs, cooking, and telling stories. They were quite entertaining and interesting.

It was with great anticipation we drove into Plymouth so we could finally gaze our eyes on the famous Plymouth Rock! The word ‘underwhelm’ pretty well sums it up, and the two words, ‘that’s it?’ describes it completely. We laughed so hard as we searched the horizon for what we thought we were looking for, a Rock of Gibraltar type landmark, but wandered up to a colossus with a sign in front of it stating – Plymouth Rock. All we could say was, ‘you’ve got to be kidding!’

Plymouth Rock is a 4 foot by 6 foot boulder that the Pilgrims may, or may not have set foot on, in a location that they may, or may not have landed in! There is no actual mention or written reference to setting foot on this rock by William Bradford and his fellow Mayflower passengers in 1620. But, in 1741, a descendant of one of the Pilgrims remembered a story that was told about the rock landing, and thus, we present to you, the Plymouth Rock!

Plymouth Rock

All was not lost. Plymouth is a quaint oceanside town with a ton of fabulous seafood restaurants. We had the best lobster rolls so far!

Another day and another tour of another Vanderbilt summer cottage! The Breakers is in Newport, Rhode Island and is much smaller than the Biltmore Estate we toured in North Carolina. Only 70 rooms and 64,000 square feet, so it was very cozy 😉. The photo below is an aerial view taken off the web, just to give perspective and show the cliff trail along the ocean. The footprint of the house is one acre of the 14 acre property.

The cottage was completed in 1895 and was a favourite summer house for the family. It did feel much smaller than the last one we saw and much more comfortable, yet so luxurious and over-the-top, a true example of the ‘gilded age’. Our plan was to walk along the cliff trail to check out the other summer cottages along the coast, but it was pouring rain, cold and windy, so we just did the tour inside. Again, pictures do not do the craftsmanship and opulence justice. Needless to say, it was stunning!

Now, that’s a kitchen!

Nantucket! We took the passenger ferry from Hyannis again, but this time to Nantucket. It was a fairly busy island and we can only imagine how hectic it gets in high season, which starts in the next week or so. It is such an adorable town with quaint shops and lots of restaurants.

This time, instead of renting a car, we rented a tandem bicycle to get around on! 😜 Thanks to Charles and the gang at Nantucket Bike Shop II for the fun set of wheels!

We followed a paved bike path out to the Sankaty Head Lighthouse and then into the cute village of Siasconset. It was about 20 miles round trip.

We didn’t have enough time on this beautiful little island and only saw a portion of it, but what we did see, we loved! Looks like we just have to come back!

Salem is another place we’ve always wanted to go. One of the most widely known aspects of Salem is its history of witchcraft trials. The infamous Salem Witch Trials began in 1692, started by some young girls stirring up trouble! 19 people were executed by hanging as a result of the false accusations; one man was even pressed to death (boulders placed on his body) for refusing to plead innocent or guilty, thus avoiding the noose and instead dying an innocent man. A year later, the girls confessed to their mischief and begged forgiveness. They were never prosecuted.

We toured the Salem Witch Museum, where we were transported back to 1692 to watch the trials unfold. We heard the testimony of the hysterical, mischievous girls, the suffering of the blameless victims and the decisions of the fanatical judges who sent innocent people to their deaths. Most of the ‘witches’ were women who were known as ‘healers’, which meant they used herbs and plants to help deal with sickness. Scary times!

So far on our trip, we have visited the birth and childhood homes of presidents and historical figures, so thought it was time to make it a bit more personal.😁 Our wonderful daughter-in-law, Hannah, was born in Massachusetts and lived in Billerica (which is just outside of Boston) from birth to the age of 6, until her family packed up and moved to Kelowna, BC, Canada 🇨🇦 We didn’t get a chance to tour inside the home, and are lucky we didn’t get arrested for stalking!

The Childhood Home of Hannah (1988 – 1994)

Happy Father’s Day!! First of all, Happy Father’s Day to my Dad, Joe, who is the best Dad a girl could ever hope for 🥰 and the best father-in-law a man could have! Love you Dad 💖

And, to Henry, you’re just the best 😘 Joseph is one lucky kid and I’m so thankful for you 💖

We’re huge Downton Abbey fans and even visited Highclere Castle (the real life Downton Abbey) in England, so when we found out that the Downton Abbey Experience would be in Boston, we got tickets right away! 

There were exhibits for each different cast member, behind the scenes stories from different episodes, lots of costumes (including the wedding dresses Mary, Edith and Rose wore), and actual sets on display, such as Mr. Carson’s office, the dining room and kitchen! It was a fun way to spend a rainy Father’s Day and great anticipation for the movie coming out this fall.

We enjoyed our time in the Cape Cod area and, as hokey as it sounds, it really was a dream come true! Now we move on to explore more of New England and continue our search for more Clam Chowda and Lobsta Rolls!

A Stone, A Rock(y), A Bell and A Beach

Our first few days in New Jersey didn’t go quite as planned. We had an un-invited guest join our adventure and Joanne was not a very happy camper 😳. ‘Sidney the Kidney’ Stone was on the move! It was a rough couple of days with a visit to a nice hospital in Woodbury and some really good drugs, but Sidney is now history! 🎉 No surgery needed as he came out on his own, Joanne is doing well 👍 and our journey continues! No need to worry, this is not the first Sidney (#14 to be exact) nor will it be the last, and we have great travel insurance, so all is good!

The drugs are working 👍

We’re staying at a campsite in Clarksboro, New Jersey which is just across the River from Philadelphia, and once Joanne was ready, back into Pennsylvania we went. We were supposed to spend a few days in Philadelphia, but thanks to Sidney, we only had one day, so we made the best of it. Our priorities were simple – Rocky and the Liberty Bell!

We did the usual and got on the Hop On Bus and toured around Philadelphia. We got off at the Philadelphia Museum of Art to check out Rocky, and be the typical tourists and run up the stairs for our own Rocky re-enactment. 🤪 Well, at least Henry did!

The Rocky statue was used in the 1982 movie of Rocky III and was left at the top of the stairs near the Museum. Apparently the museum didn’t think it was ‘art’ so had it removed to The Spectrum hockey arena. When the arena was torn down for redevelopment, Rocky was moved back to the Art Museum but in a new location, not at the top of the stairs! Other than the Liberty Bell, Rocky is the most visited site in Philly.

Next stop, the Liberty Bell. The original bell arrived from England in 1752 but was not hung in the steeple of the State House (now Independence Hall) until 1753. It cracked almost right away, so two local men from Philly melted it down and recast it, twice! There were always hairline cracks that were fixed, but in 1846, the crack was too large and the tone was lost, so the bell was no longer used.

The Liberty Bell gained iconic importance when abolitionists in their efforts to put an end to slavery throughout America, adopted it as a symbol. The quotation engraved in it is from Leviticus 25:10 – ‘ Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.’

We then toured the Congress Hall and Independence Hall. Congress Hall served as the temporary Capitol while the permanent Capitol was being built in Washington, DC. Independence Hall is the building where both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were debated and adopted.

Independence Hall

Our next day trip was to Atlantic City, New Jersey. Wow! A resort city known for its casinos, boardwalk and beaches. We enjoyed a stroll along the boardwalk with the waves crashing on the beach beside us – it was really beautiful. There are arcades and amusement rides and shopping and casinos . . . it was awesome!

We didn’t get to spend as much time in New Jersey as we had hoped and would definitely come back here again, especially to Atlantic City!

Pennsylvania

We arrived at a lovely KOA campsite near Connellsville, Pennsylvania that has the Youghiogheny River on one side of us and the Great Allegheny Passage (The GAP) Bike Trail on the other.

The GAP is a beautiful, hard-packed trail that’s about 150 miles long and runs from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Cumberland, Maryland and actually Connects with the ride we did the other day, on the C&O Tow Path, which takes you right in to Washington, DC. We only did 20 miles of it today! 😉 Crossing several trestles and passing a few waterfalls was a nice little ride along the Youghiogheny River.

Frank Lloyd Wright is one of our favourite architects, so we were thrilled to realize that one of his most famous masterpieces was quite close to us. He’s one of those that ‘thinks outside the box’, and in the 1930’s, this was quite an achievement. The house could never be built today as it is definitely not ‘to code’, but an amazing feat of ingenuity and design. It was built for Edgar and Lilly Kaufman, who owned Kaufman Department Stores in Pittsburgh, and at the time cost over $150,000 to complete. They asked Frank for a small cabin in the woods, and this is what he came up with!

Falling Water is a cantilevered structure that is perched over a stream and waterfall. It is organic architecture at its finest. We loved the stairs that exit the living room and go down into the stream. The Kaufman’s used this to dip their toes in the cool water and to fish. Frank designed the interior furniture also, purposely low to the ground to not obstruct the views.

We did a day trip to Pittsburgh and the first stop was the Heinz History Center in The Strip District, It’s part of the Smithsonians, but you need to pay an entry fee for this one. There were exhibits dedicated to the Vietnam War, Sports, George Westinghouse and of course, Mr. Rogers Neighbourhood, since Fred Rogers was from the Pittsburgh area.

Henry J, Heinz has an incredible history and was already an entrepreneur by the age of 9, when he had mastered his mother’s pickle recipe and started selling his own grated horseradish to the local stores in Pittsburgh! After graduating from college in 1869, he started his company with his friend and neighbour, L. Clarence Noble, The rest is history. Today, Heinz is one of the largest food processing companies and six out of ten ketchup bottles consumed in the United States are produced by them. One of his goals was to make life easier for housewives! Now that’s a smart man. 😉

Thunder, lightening, torrential rain and a tornado watch 😬 could not keep us from our next mission – popular Pittsburgh food! The Strip District is known as a foodie haven and it did not disappoint.

Our first stop was Primanti Bros. and the quintessential Pittsburgh sammich. It started as a sandwich place for hungry truckers in 1933, and it once earned the title of Best Sandwich in America and made the list of “1,000 Places to See Before You Die, in the USA.”

Here’s what makes these sammich’s famous. John DiPriter who was the cousin of Joe, the owner, was quoted as saying: “One winter, a fella drove in with a load of potatoes. He brought a few of ’em over to the restaurant to see if they were frozen. I fried the potatoes on our grill and they looked pretty good. A few of our customers asked for them, so I put the potatoes on their sandwiches.”  A story we were told was that later, another trucker came in and was in quite a hurry, so instead of getting his coleslaw on the side, he had them throw it on the sandwich with the fries, and it was a huge success! History made! We had the pastrami and it was excellent. 👍

Our second stop was Peace, Love and Little Donuts. We figured because they’re so small we could try a few, plus we did share our sammich at lunch 🤪 so the sugar rush was on! Maple Bacon, S’more, Heath Wind and Fire, Samoa and Snick Jagger – Yum!!!

Our final stop was the Pittsburgh Popcorn Company where we couldn’t decide on just one flavor, so we had to get two, of course! Chocolate Caramel and Peanut butter Cup were the winners. It was an hour and a half drive from Pittsburgh back to Monty, and we didn’t want to starve! 😋 Guess we have to cycle a few extra miles soon!

Still in Pennsylvania, we moved for a few nights to Hershey, yes, as in the chocolate! This will be our home base as we do day trips.

We went to the Harley-Davidson Operations Center, in York, where all the US Harley’s are produced, and did the factory tour. They were in low production mode as the 2019’s are almost done, but we still were able to see quite a lot of a motorcycle being built from start to finish. They normally produce 600 motorcycles per day.

We returned to Hershey and spent the rest of the day at Hershey’s Chocolate World 😁 Such an amazing place! Milton Hershey was ahead of his time, and failed 3 times at making candy before he finally got his recipe and business plan right. He felt the secret to producing the best caramel was in using fresh milk, and the best milk was from the cows in Derry Township, Pennsylvania, so he built his caramel factory in Lancaster. This was such as success that he felt that the secret to better chocolate was in the milk, so he sold his caramel company and started a chocolate company. He moved the business away from Lancaster and actually built a town around the factory for his employees – Hershey! This was in 1903.

An interesting little tidbit of information – Milton’s good friend and former employee, Henry Reese, left the Hershey company to start his own little candy business, and thus became the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup! Milton didn’t mind the competition, mainly due to the fact that Henry bought the chocolate he needed from Milton! This part of Pennsylvania is obviously very good for candy making, since the next town over, Elizabethtown, is the main factory for the Mars Company, as in Mars Bars, Snickers, Dove, etc.!

Ok, back to Hershey’s Chocolate World where everything is about chocolate, of course 🤪 There are a several activities/exhibits/tours you can do – some are free, some are not. The best part, no matter what you do, there is always chocolate handed out at the beginning, middle or end of the activity! Now that’s our kind of tour!

One of the activities we purchased was to create our own chocolate bar. We chose what we wanted in it and designed our wrapper. It was fun to watch our own bar travel along the conveyor belt all the way to the packaging stage!

We also did the Trolley Tour that drove us around the town of Hershey, past the massive Amusement Park, stadium, hockey arena (Milton loved hockey), the factories, hotel and the schools Milton started initially for orphans that has now evolved into several top schools for underprivileged children, tuition-free. Did you know that every chocolate bar you purchase, ‘is an opportunity to share happiness and helps educate children in need through the Milton Hershey School’. The tram that runs through the amusement park was purchased from Montreal after the 1967 Expo. Suffice to say, we ate a lot of chocolate!

June 1st – our 34th Wedding Anniversary 🎉💕🎉 We started the day in Historic Downtown Lancaster to wander around the Saturday Market. The next stop was a few miles away in the town of Bird-in-Hand at the Amish Experience, an immersion into the daily life of an Amish family. Because you can’t actually walk into an Amish family’s house, they have an exact replica of a house and schoolroom, and a representative from the Amish community checks it every so often to update it as the times change.

We learned a lot about the Amish and were quite surprised to see that they have more creature comforts than we thought they’d have. Apparently, as long as they live off the grid and unattached to worldly influence, such as electricity, cable, telephone, etc,, they are abiding by their beliefs. However, they are able to use battery power, propane and solar! So their kitchen has a propane refrigerator, stove, lamps, heaters, and even a DeWalt battery operated camping light as their dining room ceiling fixture! They also shop at Costco, Target and Walmart for groceries, some clothes, and their basic needs, like shampoo, soap and toothpaste.

The children all go to a one-room school house that is built within a mile of their house, so there is never a ‘snow day’ or any excuse for cancellation since they can walk a mile no matter the weather. The school teacher is a young girl, age18-25, with no teaching credentials other than the fact she finished grade 8. The age of children are Kindergarten to Grade 8, and that’s it. Higher education is not encouraged as it is considered boastful and making yourself look better than others. After grade 8, enough basic knowledge is learned and the child is ready for life in the Amish community. Once the teacher marries, she is to take up her duties at home and prepare for a family.

It was amazing to see the farmers working on the fields with their horses or donkeys, with no motorized farm machinery. The horse and buggies were everywhere and so cool to see! All the stores and large restaurants in town, such as Costco and Lowe’s, have horse and buggy parking!

We did a driving tour in search of covered bridges and were so happy to tour through the beautiful countryside! It was so peaceful and serene. Most of the time we were alone on the country roads with the odd horse and buggy trotting past us.

We ended our anniversary day in Intercourse 😉

Yes, the town of Intercourse! Named this because of two major roads that intersected there! It was actually called Cross Keys before that, but they changed the name to Intercourse in 1814. It is an adorable town and we had tons of laughs there! Henry had ice cream in the middle of . . . well, you know where we’re going with this 😂. We spent time wandering around the market and ended with dinner at Shady Maple Smorgasbord, which is not actually located in Intercourse. The buffet food line was over 200 feet long, one of the largest we’ve ever seen! We had a fabulous, memorable anniversary and a very special day. 💕

Massive Buffet

Pennsylvania is a beautiful state with plenty of rolling hills, farmland, friendly people and great food! Despite the lightening, rolling thunder and heavy rain each evening, our daytime weather has been warm and pleasant. As well, the tornados that were predicted for our area, never touched down near us, which is a good thing. 👍 The adventure continues!