Our rv adventures had us at Hart Ranch in SD for the rest of May and half of June. The weather was, for the most part, chilly – a lot of rain, and a couple of storms that produced pea/marble-sized hail. There’s nothing quite like the din of hail striking the roof of your motorhome!
We visited the buffalo and antelope in Custer State Park and checked out the Reptile Gardens Museum. The best part of this fascinating place was the bird show. An African Lanner Falcon came swooping from behind us toward a piece of meat being twirled on a lure by the handler - it swooped right into my shoulder and the back of my head!
I was fine, though mightily startled, but worried about the falcon, which dropped to the ground in front of me for an instant before hopping the short distance to the meat. The handler assured me later that the bird was fine – they are actually built to withstand crashing into things.
From Rapid City, we traveled onward to Minnesota where we spent time in Skip’s meadow again and enjoyed visiting with him as well as Shelly and her husband, Mike. They had gotten two cocker spaniel puppies, Samson & Wilson that were about six months old and provided lots of entertainment.
In July we pulled out in Mehitabel to have some rv adventures in various MN state parks.
At Itasca State Park, we waded across the mighty Mississippi River at
its source, rented a double-seat kayak and paddled on the Rum River late
one afternoon, admiring a young buck browsing at the water’s edge, and
tiny white flowers with stems so threadlike they appeared to be floating
just above the water.
At Mille Lacs Kathio State Park, there were lots of deer, so elegant with their narrow heads and slender legs, their summer coats a rich red-brown. On a walk one morning, Robert saw a doe nursing her twin fawns right next to the road – of course he didn’t have his camera, but we saw them again later and get some good photos.
One night we went on a fishing launch on Lake Mille Lacs, and Robert
caught two big walleye. No one else caught more than one, so they gave
their catch to us. That was pretty much the end of our successful fishing
during the summer's rv adventures.
Next was Lake Bemidji SP where we saw Paul Bunyan and his baby blue ox. We didn’t do any fishing here. I took the Bog Walk trail after dinner one night and saw beautiful clusters of lady slippers.
We fished at Bear Head Lake SP just south of Ely; we fished at the foot of Kawishiwi Falls in Ely; we tried fishing from the massive rocks at the edge of Lake Superior at Temperance River SP; and at Jay Cooke SP, just south of Duluth, we fished in the St. Louis River. No luck anywhere – our timing was off this year, apparently, but it was fun anyway. It can be hypnotic standing there watching the bobber and the foam swirling in the water.
Back to Faribault for a couple of weeks during which I had a dirt skirt installed on Mehitabel, took her in for an oil change, and we organized supplies and our belongings, getting ready for the first leg of our Maritime Canada and East Coast rv adventures, as we would be traveling in just one rig.
On August 5, we left Faribault and started out on our great rv adventure, heading north to Marquette, Michigan on the Upper Peninsula where we visited with Robert’s old AF buddy and his wife.
We stayed at an RV park for a couple of nights and then moved over to the Ojibwa Casino, which actually has free electric hookups for RVs, so we stayed another three days and continued to explore the UP.
One day we took the car all the way out to Copper Harbor on the Keweenaw Peninsula. It is absolutely beautiful out there, but soooo isolated. The 48-year average for snowfall is 240.9 inches – no thanks! That would make an extremely uncomfortable rv adventure.
There are no cars allowed on the island except for emergency vehicles. People get around on foot or on bikes, though the tourists (that would be us) tour the island in carriages pulled by big Belgian and Percheron draft horses.
There are lots of horses, and a lot of bicycles on the streets, and there’s a strong smell of horse urine wherever you go. That surprised me, but the streets are paved and the urine either sits there or goes into the storm drains, rather than soaking into the earth – I guess there’s no way to avoid the smell.
The town is delightful – lots of fudge shops (the island is famous for its fudge), and lovely homes and hotels along the bay and up on the bluff.
The next rv adventure took us to Port Huron where we spent almost 1-1/2 hours getting through customs and crossing the bridge into Ontario on our way to Niagara Falls.
Our day at the falls was hot and steamy. We did a lot of walking and standing in line, and got quite wet from the spray which felt divine. Neither of us had ever seen this magnificent sight before.
Did you know that the Niagara River flows north from Lake Erie into Lake Ontario? For some reason, I had always assumed the river ran south. Oh well, I’m continually surprised by geographical realities.
From Niagara, we crossed the Peace Bridge into Buffalo, continued east to Syracuse, then turned north and spent the night in Parish, NY, which isn't a very exciting place for rv adventures. We noticed a fairly small circular dirt track beside the road as we neared the RV park. A big sign in front proclaimed: “Lawnmower Races.” Sadly, we were unable to stay in the area long enough to witness one.
The next day, we traveled along the St. Lawrence Seaway to Massena, NY,
and stayed a few days at the very beautiful Robert Moses State Park, just
a few minutes away from Dwight D. Eisenhower Lock, the first of four
locks on the Seaway.
I watched a Canadian ship, 740’ long, loaded with salt, enter the lock and get lowered 42’ for the next leg of its journey. A bit earlier, Robert had seen a gorgeous sailboat go through.
From Massena, we continued on our rv adventures, traveling across upper NY State, with the Adirondacks in the distance, and took US-2 right down the middle of Lake Champlain in VT, then east through the Green Mountains, to St. Johnsbury, where we spent a night at a pleasant campground, backed right up to the gurgling Moose River.
The next morning, we stayed on US-2 through the White Mountains, across New Hampshire (a short distance here), then into Maine, along the Androscoggin River, then the Kennebec (I think), through Rumford, Farmington, and Skowhegan, to Newport, ME, where we camped overnight at a Wal-Mart.
We left US-2 the next day and headed north up I-95 to Houlton, ME, where we crossed the border into New Brunswick, Canada, stopping for the night at a camp near Fredericton, with a view of the big St. John River.
On August 22, we headed across New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island. According to the weather reports, Hurricane Bill was also headed there - looked like our rv adventure was about to get wet. CH-2, which is the main highway across this portion of NB has a lot of long, slow climbs uphill, with dark green spruce forests stretching off on both sides.
We crossed the Northumberland Strait on the 8.75 mile long Confederation Bridge (a work of art) and set up at Pine Hills RV Camp about 15 miles from Charottetown. That evening we went into town to Lobster on the Wharf for a yummy lobster dinner.
The rains started around 8 am the next morning, but were sporadic, so we went into town and had a nice walk around the North River/Charlottetown harbor area and Victoria Park, then back to our favorite restaurant for lunch and a glass of wine. I bought some fresh halibut at their fish market, and as rain was becoming steadier by this time, we headed back to camp for naptime. The halibut was superb!
We took off the next morning to drive the East Coast of the island –
it was cloudy and cool, with intermittent rain. We had a great lunch
at Rick’s Fish & Chips & Seafood in St. Peters, then decided to
do the 2.5 mile walk on the Greenwich Dunes Trail in PEI Nat’l Park. Of
course, it started raining steadily shortly after we started, and we got
completely soaked, but it was a beautiful walk.
Continuing our drive, we stopped at the Prince Edward Distillery to taste their wild blueberry vodka – the only one in the world made with wild berries. Yuck! They have a recipe for a “Maritime something-or-other,” in which this vodka is mixed with blueberry juice and tonic – that sounds pretty good, but we didn’t buy any of their vodka, so I couldn’t test the recipe.
On the morning of the 25th we drove into town where Robert bought a video of PEI (so we could see all we missed on our rv adventures because of rain), wandered Victoria Row, came back for lunch then hit the road again, on our way to Nova Scotia.
The little we did see of PEI was quite lovely, with goldenrod and Queen Anne’s lace everywhere, green fields of potatoes and golden fields covered with giant rolls of hay, all set off beautifully against the rich terra-cotta colored earth.
On the drive, there are incredible views of St. Lawrence Bay on the west side, and the Atlantic on the east, as well as cliffs and maritime forests. It was overcast and windy, but no rain to speak of.
We had a good hike on the Skyline Trail, but didn't go all the way to the end, so didn't get to see the moose that others claimed to have seen. We really ate our way around the Cabot Trail, stopping at two bakeries for goodies, lunching at the Rusty Anchor in Pleasant Bay, and stopping for ice cream in Cape North.
On the 28th, which was Robert’s 69th birthday, we had a beautiful day at last. We wandered around Baddeck Harbor in the afternoon and had a pizza dinner at the Yellow Cello that evening with a couple we had met in the RV park.
Marilyn & Bill had a beautiful new 35’ RV and were going to travel on to Newfoundland in a couple of days, via ferry. Yikes! A ferry had been one rv adventure I wanted to avoid and I added a few hundred miles onto our trip so Mehitabel wouldn't have to get on one to Nova Scotia. But they said they had put their rig on ferries before with no problems. They had just spent three weeks in PEI and would spend a similar amount of time in Newfoundland.
I was beginning to believe that we were moving around too much. We certainly didn't have any deadlines, so why were we in such a rush? Maybe it’s because this country is so huge and so beautiful. We wanted to see it all, but in trying to do that, we were really just skimming the surface of each place.
Rushing too much or not, at this point we were both looking forward to taking our rv adventures back to the states. Canada was more expensive than we had anticipated: gas cost the equivalent of $3.98/gal, there was a 13% tax added onto just about everything, and I discovered to my dismay that my wireless internet connection had sent my phone bill skyrocketing. So, on the 29th, we headed back toward Maine, spending a very windy and rainy night at a Wal-Mart in Truro, and another in St. John, where tropical storm Danny had flooded many of the streets quite badly.