Thursday, June 13, 2024

Vikings

 Pistolet Bay Provincial Park - June 4 to June 14, 2024

I think most of us were taught in grade school that "In fourteen hundred and ninety two Columbus sailed the ocean blue" and discovered America. Since that time there have been plenty of archeological finds proving the Vikings were here long before Columbus. They just didn't stick around. One of the sites proving the Vikings were here first is L'Ance aux Meadows, which is about a 30 minute drive from where we are parked.

As part of our preparations to visit L'Ance aux Meadows we check cruisemapper.com. Yep, no cruise ships due at any of the local ports, we are good to go! I wish I could find a similar web site for tour busses. I don't begrudge any of the folks that choose to travel this way, it's just that they overwhelm whatever they visit. How can you enjoy a site when there are 50 to several hundred other people jockeying for position to see whatever there is to see. It's just best to avoid them if you can. That way you can stop and embrace the essence of the location. 

L'Ance aux Meadows is where the Vikings, or Norsemen, established a settlement in about 1000 AD. Archeologists say that this was not a permanent settlement but was sporadically occupied between a period of 20 and a 100 years. Remains of the village suggest that this was used as a boat repairing facility and a staging area for explorations that ranged further inland and further south.

Our excursion to the Viking settlement began with a slight diversion. We are always on the lookout for a good boondocking site. We found a gravel road that went around a corner hiding what lay beyond and piquing our interest. Hoping it might be a good site to camp, we went to investigate, and found our second fox. As usual, we were both so stunned by the appearance of a fox headed straight for us, that neither of us thought to take a picture until it was headed away.

We finally arrived at the Viking site where EJ is greeted by the inhabitants.


On the walkway to the Viking structures we passed through this. It is an artists vision representing the meeting of two worlds. Beats me how they get that out of it. If you squint really really hard the object on the left might represent a Viking sail. The object on the right, I got no clue! And in the middle, "Oh look, another iceberg!".

Eventually we arrive at the Viking village. There is a long house, a blacksmith shop and several others.



And it's not crowded. Just the way we like it.


Of course on the way out, we had to find a geocache and ended up here.

And to close out our adventure, the fog starts to roll in. That happens a lot up here.

Obligatory cat picture follows...







Bergs

 Pistolet Bay Provincial Park (CG) - June 4 to June 14, 2024


We are about as far north as you can get on the island of Newfoundland. Oh sure, there's the Quirpon Lighthouse Inn with it's lighthouse next door, which is even further north, but Miss Mosey doesn't float or fly and those are the only two ways to get there.


In spite of all the assurances we have gotten, we have discovered that boondocking spots for bigger RVs are very limited. We've searched and scouted and found some that were in beautiful locations, but access was by a big drop off, or skinny little 2 track paths. So the next best thing was this Provincial Park. No hookups, but there is water available and there is a dump station for taking care of business.

The drawback to the Park is that it is down about 9 kilometers (5.6 miles) of patch work road. Repairs on top of repairs along with the occasional whoop de do (sudden dip) that will surprise you if you're not paying attention. It appears that rather repave roads, they just patch over and over again. Don't get me wrong, we are thankful for what pavement there is. And so is Miss Mosey.

Back a couple of months ago we were debating on whether to go to the St. Johns area which is where in years past most of the iceberg activity seems to have taken place or to travel to Saint Anthony which is lesser known and not as well traveled. St. Johns is a very touristy spot with an international airport and lots of accommodations and attractions for those tourists. Saint Anthony, on the other hand, is harder to get to, requires a long drive, and has few accommodations and fewer restaurants.

To our readers who know our dislike for crowds, it should come as no surprise that we chose Saint Anthony. And it is a good thing we did. This year the winds and currents have conspired to give the greater northern peninsula area near Saint Anthony an abundance of icebergs while sending hardly any to the St. Johns area. Lady Luck was definitely smiling upon us. This is simply a sample of what we saw.







 It seemed as though almost everywhere we looked, there was an iceberg. And according to the latest iceberg map, there is another big batch headed our way. Excuse us while we pat ourselves on the back. Just joking, but since we don't really have a schedule we extended our stay here to catch all the bergs we can.

Obligatory cat picture follows...



 

Friday, May 31, 2024

Wreckhouse

 Wreckhouse Parking Area - May 21 to 23, 2024


 We had just arrived in Newfoundland and needed a place for hang out while we planned our next steps and did some exploring. This looked like a good potential spot.

A huge level paved parking area. Mountains in front of us. The Gulf of St. Lawrence behind us. While we were marveling at our luck, we couldn't help but wonder why this big paved area existed in this particular spot. Was the Canadian Government being nice to us travelers by providing a nice resting spot after just getting off the ferry?



Our one night stay turned into 3 as we explored this part of the island.  It seems every group of 5 or 6 homes has a name on the map. St. Andrews, Tompkins, Doyle, and more. We drove through them hoping to find a shop or museum to explore. But nope, just a group of 4 to 6 houses. We did find a lighthouse at Cape Ray.


But I diverge from the main story which is about Wreckhouse. There is no visible explanation for this place. Just that sign at the beginning of this post.

So we jump on the internet to see if we can get more information about this place. Holy Crap on a Cracker! This place is known for it's extremely high winds. Up to 200KM/hr (125 mph). In the past, a narrow gauge railroad used to run through this area. If the train happened to coincide with the extreme winds, it would get blown off the tracks.


Now that train track has been turned into a hiking/atv trail and the modern victims of the Wreckhouse winds are tractor-trailers. 

So far it's good for us. The predicted weather is favorable so we are safe, right? Well the third night we stayed was one night too many. The weather turned sour. Rain was in the forecast. We had been out sightseeing in Pearl. On the way back we saw a digital sign warning of high winds at the Wreckhouse. 49KM/hr. Big deal, that's only 30 miles per hour. We've driven in worse than that. (not on purpose, nor were we happy about it.) Sitting still, it should be no problem. 

Something got lost in the translation between mother nature and that Wreckhouse digital sign. Back at Miss Mosey the wind started to howl. We considered leaving, but no way I wanted to drive in those conditions. Dishy, up on the pole, is vibrating in the wind. I trust the brackets that support it, but why push our luck. So dishy gets stowed. The slide toppers are flapping now, so the slides are brought in and we point Miss Mosey in the direction of the wind and hope it doesn't shift.

That night the wind blew us around pretty good. We were rocking back and forth. We extended the stabilizer jacks a little more and that helped to calm the motion. The rain blasted us so hard we thought a hundred pressure washers were pointed at us.

And of course, as usual, the morning dawned with almost complete calm.

And the reason for the huge paved area? So all those semis caught on the highway while the Wreckhouse winds blow, have a safe place to park. Now we know.

Obligatory cat picture follows:







Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Miss Mosey is going for a boat ride

 Port aux Basques - May 21, 2024

Finally, after leaving FnEJ's Hideway on March 13, 2024 we are ready to board the ferry from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland. The faint dashed blue line in the above picture shows the route the ferry takes from North Sidney, Nova Scotia to Port aux Basque, Newfoundland. This is a first for us, but we have read and watched everything we could find about taking your RV on the ferry. The journey is about 112 miles and takes roughly 7 hours.


Our Garmin GPS shows the Nova Scotia Highway 105 running right into the water. The ferry is the substitute for the highway across the water becoming the Trans-Canada Highway 1, or TCH-1, in Newfoundland.


This is the ferry we will be driving into, the MV Highlanders. We will be driving up that ramp that starts in the center of the picture through that door in the center of the bow deck. Contrary to what some people have heard, there is no backing up involved at either end of the journey. One fellow we spoke with had unhooked his towed car from his motorhome just because he was afraid he would have to back up at some point.



We approach the entrance to the ferry staging area where we are asked for our license plate number, our reservation confirmation, and the length of our rig. We gave them the required information and proudly announced we were 57 feet long. We knew this because EJ and I had carefully measured the length with a 12 foot tape measure several weeks ago. Well, they informed us we were wrong, that we were 58 feet long. Oops, I guess there was some slippage. Fortunately no more money needed to change hands as we were still under 60 foot mark which is when the price goes up. Once all that was squared away, we received our boarding cards and cabin key. Without a boarding pass, your RV will not be allowed to board.


Once we managed to get past the entrance gate gauntlet, we got to wait.  Here we are in line with all the other RV's anticipating the boarding process. We had purposely arrived 2.5 hours early hoping to get a good spot on the ferry.


We receive the notice to board and begin entering the bowels of the ship.


Here we are being guided into our very skinny spot. I kept trying to pull to the right and he kept telling me to pull to the left. My drivers side mirror was mere inches from that Maritime trailer.


So we are parked within the yellow lines, but the passenger side mirror hangs out over that line bine by a good 6-9 inches. But what can I do? The mirror won't budge, I've already tried that. We hope that we still will have a mirror when it's time to leave.




Because we don't want to be schlepping our belongings around for 7 hours and because we thought we would get some much needed showers and maybe a nap, we opted to get a cabin for the journey. The cost was about $56 Canadian which was a steal.


 I wish we had gotten pictures of the parking deck on Highlanders as we tried to find Miss Mosey. First of all, we used the steps going down from deck 8 (where our cabin was) to deck 3 (where Miss Mosey was parked). When we arrived, we used the elevators to get to our cabin. There were tractor-trailers parked everywhere. We couldn't even see Miss Mosey. Plus there was barely room to squeeze between all the trailers without getting road slime all over your clothes. 

We finally found Miss Mosey and we still had a passenger side view mirror. Yay! But, a semi was parked next to us and our mirror and his mirror over lapped. Ohno! But the parking guides knew what they are doing and extracted us with no damage to our home on wheels.

We have arrived in Newfoundland-Labrador which we will call Newfoundland from now on unless we actually venture to Labrador on another ferry.


For our first night we arrive at a large parking lot about 30 minutes north of Port aux Basque where the ferry docked. On Google maps this lot is known as "Arret pour une nuit". (What that means, I have no idea) There are mountains in front of us.


And the Gulf of St. Lawrence is behind us.


It's been a long stressful day and it's time to relax.


The setting sun adds a nice touch.

Obligatory cat picture follows...






Thursday, May 16, 2024

Welcome to Canada?!

 International Avenue, Calais, ME/St. Stephen, NB, CA - May 16, 2024


EJ and I had been awaiting this day with excitement and a little trepidation. Crossing the border into another country is always somewhat worrisome. No, no, not the "breaking the law" kind of worrisome, but more like "what if they take our vegetables" kind of worrisome.

Knowing that everything was going to be more expensive in Canada and that we probably wouldn't be able to find our favorite items and brands, we had been stocking up. Crackers, soups, meats, Atkins, breakfast bars, cat food, soda pop and so on. Miss Mosey was busting at the seams we were carrying so much stuff. We had grocery bags full of groceries stuffed everywhere. You would have thought we were heading into the wilderness and had to be self sufficient for the duration.

Reading the CBSA(Canada Border Service Agency) website was not a whole lot of help as it mostly addressed information generically rather than specifically. Was raw meat acceptable or did it have to be cooked or otherwise processed? Were vegetables ok? Did they have to be in their original packaging? Did they have to be cooked? It got quite confusing.

We also travel with some items unacceptable to the Canadian government so they couldn't come with us. Accommodations were procured for the duration of our visit and we'll will pick them up on our way back through the area.



 We think we have everything under control. We have fueled up Miss Mosey and Pearl with cheap (hah!) USA diesel and gas. Propane is topped off. We are carrying extra water, I swear we are going on an African Safari.  Our liquor cabinet and beer storage are next to bare because 1.14 litres of alcohol person, or 24 cans of beer per person are the limits allowed into Canada. I guess they are afraid we are going to bootleg booze into their country.

I look at my last store display of stouts and porters. (I know where I'm stopping when we get back.)


EJ has done a great job of getting us organized to cross the border. Passports, insurance papers, vehicle registration, vaccination records for Gabby, our cat, and put it all in one convenient folder so we don't have to scramble trying to find documents at the last moment.



So we get to the Canadian border and all they want is our license plate number and passports. No drivers license, no registration, nothing. Then they ask a bunch of questions. Are you carrying more than $10,000 Canadian? (No). Are you carrying firearms? (No). How much liquor do you have? (We told them how many beers we had and how many litres of booze we had left.) All the while the agent was very chatty and pleasant. Then he hands us a yellow form, tells us to pull over, and go in the building. No reason. Had we broken some law?

On our way to the building we meet two agents coming out. We give them the yellow form and they explain they are going to search Miss Mosey and Pearl. Were we hiding anything that might injure them as they are searching? Well, we have a cat on board, but we don't think she'll hurt you. They ask us to put out the slides so they can have access to all the drawers and cabinets. In anticipation of a search we had previously unlocked all the compartment doors and Pearl too.

We were not allowed in Miss Mosey while they searched but we were welcome to stand outside in the blazing sun, or we could go in the building where there were hard wooden benches we could sit on. Talk about feeling helpless. Strangers are ransacking our home and there is nothing we could do about it. Wait a minute, we were just kidding. We don't really want to go to Canada. Just let us turn around and we're outta here! But all we could do is wait.

So off we trudged to the "holding room", err, "waiting room". We had a clear view of Miss Mosey. We couldn't see inside, but we could see the driver's side and Pearl. During our detention we could see that they searched Pearl, but none of Miss Mosey's compartments. That was weird! We know we were on cameras while in the building. Did you ever realize how hard it is to not act guilty even if your not guilty? 

Somehow the agents snuck back in and called our name. We went to the desk to find out what our crimes were. Instead they handed back our passports and bid us a good day. EJ couldn't help herself and asked point blank, "What's the matter? Couldn't you find anything you wanted for lunch?"

They didn't arrest us, so we scurried off to Miss Mosey. Once there we found stuff everywhere. EJ is an excellent packer. She manages to fill the most tiny of spaces. Obviously the border agents did not have anywhere near her talents. So we spent time gathering stuff off the floors and counters and putting them back in their proper places. We even found the safe key laying on the counter in plain sight. EJ had had it hidden in her lingerie drawer. That ticked her off big time. Not only did they fondle her underwear, they made sure we knew they had been in our safe where we keep our important papers and spare cash.

We found cabinets in disarray, items in the refrigerator had been moved around. We are still finding things out of place.

So we ask ourselves, "What triggered the search?". Did we answer a question incorrectly? Was it because I hesitated when giving them Miss Mosey's license plate number? (It's a new plate whose number is not firmly imbedded in my brain yet). Was it because we both have Concealed Carry Licenses? Was it because we are from Florida which is an immensely conservative state? Was it because we were the only vehicle in line and they were bored and wanted something to do? I fear we will never know.

Obligatory cat picture follows:





 


Sunday, May 12, 2024

 Pumpkin Patch RV Resort, May 12, 2024

Yeah, we're still here. Amazon and the USPS are not our friends.

In the process of installing the new solar panel to replace the one that New York took, the steps on the 14 year old ladder on Miss Mosey decided that they were done. EJ deemed them unsafe and no way was I to climb up on them. Oh boy! Another project!

I don't want to replace the whole ladder since those are made for the specific RV model and a generic ladder that might be available locally would entail more modifying than i was willing to under take. Amazon to the rescue. I thought! In my research for a solution I discovered that most RV ladders are made in a common width and that there were manufacturers that made steps to fit these common widths which in our case is 13 inches.

So on 5-7-2024, I placed the order to be delivered to Pumpkin Patch and Amazon promised 2 day delivery which fit our plans perfectly since we were due to leave on the 10th. That would give me an afternoon to get the new steps installed.

But instead of arriving on the 9 as promised, Amazon said they were having problems getting the steps which would result in delayed delivery. Then once they got the steps they bounced around various Amazon facilities before being handed off to the USPS. Uhoh, that raised the red flags. I have not had good experiences with the USPS delivering packages. 

The package arrived in Maine at the Eastern Distribution Center (this is the USPS facility) in Hampden, ME, which is about 25 miles from our location. What was really funny was during this fiasco Amazon was claiming they had sent it to the USPS all the while the USPS was saying they were waiting on Amazon to give it to them. Our package, the steps, languished at the Eastern Distribution Center for 2 days.

I was resigned to not receiving the steps until Tuesday 5-14-2024. These steps were starting to get real expensive as we are having to pay to stay here at Pumpkin Patch until they arrive. But then, something magical happened. The post office delivered them today, a Sunday two  days earlier than I expected. 

The missing replacement steps.


Obligatory cat pictures follows:


(The stare!)


New York 1, Miss Mosey Zero

  Pumpkin Patch RV Resort, Hermon, ME, May 6-17, 2024

 April 27, 2024

The above picture is for illustrative purposes, but it does give you, the reader, a flavor of the panic we experienced while traveling US-20 in New York. Immediately after a horrific sound of rending metal melded into a sound like we ran over something, EJ and I looked at each other and exclaimed "Holy shit!! What was that?" A glance in the side view mirror revealed a large shiny black and white flat object flipping end over end as it passed over the Explorer being towed by Miss Mosey. 

Of course, this being a 2 lane road with nonexistent shoulders meant there was no where to pull over to assess the damage. After 5 miles or so we found the Moondance Restaurant with a wide enough shoulder to park Miss Mosey. The adrenalin was definitely pumping as we set out to discover the havoc reeked upon our traveling home and car. I am picturing multiple shattered panels as this thing bounced down the roof and a broken windshield in Pearl (the Explorer being towed) as the panel smashed into her before flying off and shattering into a thousand pieces on the pavement

Unbelievably, other than a few scratches on the forward air conditioner cover, it appeared the flying solar panel missed both Miss Mosey and Pearl . While I was on the roof marveling at the lack of destruction, a red Ford pickup stops. The lady driving it explained to EJ what she saw happen.

Even though we were on a federal highway which is supposed to have a minimum 13ft-6in clearance over the road surface unless other specified by signage, we hit an overhead wire. Bare in mind that we only stick up above the road 12ft-6in. She said it was rather spectacular watching the solar panel spinning the air before crashing onto the pavement and disintegrating into a thousand pieces. She thought the wire we hit was a live electric wire so she called 911 to report it. She offered to take us back to the scene to recover whatever pieces were recoverable. Knowing that once a solar panel turns into a thousand pieces there is not much to recover,  we declined her offer.

She left and EJ and I were left standing waiting for our heart beats to return to some semblance of normalcy and a policeman pulls up. He wants to know what happened. So we explained what the lady had told us. Because it was a tree covered road, apparently the low hanging line blended into the shade and we never saw it. If the Ford pickup lady lady hadn't explained what happened we would still have no idea what occurred. The policeman explained we hit a "phone line or internet line" and that it was not a live electric line like the lady thought.

He wanted to know the dollar amount of the damage done to Miss Mosey. After we told him it would cost us about $250 bucks to replace the solar panel, he said he wasn't writing a report for less than $1,000 and beat feet out of there. 

We finished removing what was left of the panel frame and headed on to our destination Esperance, NY. We would be staying at an Elks Lodge with no hookups. but lots of grass and stuff for Gabby to explore.

This where the panel used to be... 




We decided we would spend 5 days at Pumpkin Patch RV Resort in Hermon, ME just outside Bangor. So we ordered a new solar panel to be delivered to Home Depot in Bangor. The idea was we would install it while at the RV park. Fortunately we carried spare brackets and hardware needed for the installation.

This is the new panel. I'm getting the mounting brackets and holes drilled in preparation for installation.


And now the new panel is installed and all is right with the world again. We are ready to continue boondocking.



Obligatory cat picture follows: