After weeks of what felt like a nonstop work-eat-sleep grind, we decided that we weren't tired enough. So why not embark on a 22-hour drive in our home that gets a whopping 12 miles to the gallon? This time around, we set our sights on Fundy Provincial Park in New Brunswick, Canada, and Acadia National Park in Maine. Our travels were mostly jolly, with only a sprinkling of "I know better than you" spats.
Though the most challenging aspect of the trip was not our argument but rather the rain. Hurricane Lee was making its way up the coast and though we never had high winds, it rained almost every day during the later portion of our trip. The humidity meant nothing dried, period. But, despite our boots being soggy and the roof leaky, we had a lovely 9 day trip with Lil Peach. Here is our adventure in a nutshell...
We decided to depart mid afternoon on Wednesday, just after my Anatomy and Physiology class; why wait! Our first pitstop was in Bainbridge, PA, where we were graciously hosted by J's Great Aunt and Uncle. It was a homely welcome after a lengthy afternoon on the road.
Wedding signage on J's relatives property. Last year they hosted their son's wedding. They hung the sign up in commemoration of one year for the newly weds. Turns out we just missed the couple, by one week - shucks!
J's aunt is not just a warm host but also an incredible cook. For dinner, she served up mouthwatering zucchini crust pizzas with garden-fresh tomatoes and buttered beans on the side. Dessert was equally delightful with tapioca pudding and brownies dusted in sea salt. The next morning, J's uncle treated us to hearty omelets and crispy bacon. This delicious feast provided us with the perfect fuel for the long drive ahead of us.
We embarked from Bainbridge, PA early in the morning and headed north towards Canada. To keep ourselves sane, we took turns behind the wheel, swapping every 3-5 hours. Fourteen hours later we pulled into the city of Bangor, ME. Unfortunately our patience seemed to have set with the sun and we desperately needed a place to rest and recharge. When we finally found a spot to park for the night, we seized the opportunity, even though it was along a busy street and out of level.
Supper that evening consisted of defrosted breakfast sandwiches I'd made a week earlier. Stomachs finally full, we crawled into bed and exchanged grumpy goodnights. Falling asleep turned out to be easy, even with the street lights and busy cars.
The next morning in Bangor, ME, we opted to take a walk and find a coffee shop instead of using our french press. It felt good to stretch our legs after 14 hours on the road.
Once on the road, we realized we simply (or STILL) had five hours to go. New Brunswick was so close, yet so far. As we reached the Canada-US border, we pulled up to the customs checkpoint. The routine questions began, asking about our destination and the duration of our stay. Then came the more intrusive questions: "Do you have any alcohol?" they inquired. We nodded affirmatively, admitting to the bottle of red wine on board. The officer jotted down some notes. Then, "Do you have any cannabis?" With a bit of hesitation, we confessed that we did indeed have a pre-rolled joint from a shop in Massachusetts, a souvenir from a previous trip. More notes were scribbled. The officer directed us to pull over and go inside - an unexpected twist to our border crossing. With reddened faces and knots in our stomachs, we complied. Thankfully, the encounter proved far less hostile than we had imagined. An officer explained that while cannabis is legal in Canada, its partial legality in the United States meant they needed to confiscate it - phew.
Upon reaching our destination, we wasted no time. We swiftly unpacked the bus, grabbed a few snacks, and hopped on Jonathan's motorcycle in search of something, anything. Our quest led us to a rocky beach, deserted except for the two of us. Here, we indulged in the simple pleasures of water bending and rock skipping.
Towards the end of our lengthy tedious drive, we had the chance to chat with a park ranger. Curious about the best trails, we asked for their personal favorite, and they mentioned Laverty Falls, a trial about 4 miles long with multiple water falls and swimming holes. It sounded perfect.
We packed our day bags, complete with sandwiches, camp chairs, and a spare set of underwear (because, well, you never know), and hopped on the bike. Once on the trail, we began our usual hustle and bustle, I turned to Jonathan and said, "Why rush? We have nowhere else to be." And so, our day transformed into a leisurely exploration filled with aimless wandering, with many moments of conversation, and peaceful silences.
J testing out the antler clearance for a moose...
Eventually, we even shed our clothing and plunging into the water.
After the hike I retreated to a corner in local bar to get my studying done and tackle some online office work, while Jonathan embarked on a solo bike ride. He returned some hours later with exciting news. He had crossed paths with a nature guide who divulged a nameless, remote route along the coastline of New Brunswick that eventually wound up into the mountains to a hidden and abandoned bridge. This type of route was exactly what we were looking for and would be our plans for the next day
We got up early (if you can count 8am as early) eager to kickstart our day out on the coastal roads. We took many detours, stoping to take in the marshes and beaches.
As we continued our ride, it became apparent that reaching the abandoned bridge might remain a dream. After several hours of exploring, we stumbled upon a road that seemed to match the guide's description. However, my nerves kicked in when I spotted a foreboding "No Trespassing" sign on the road in which we were traveling. A minor disagreement ensued, with J's adventurous spirit contrasting with my caution. After some discussion, we made the choice to turn back towards camp, both for a late lunch and some shut-eye.
What was meant to be a quick 20-minute nap, however, quickly turned into a two-hour slumber. It appeared our tiredness had caught up with us. When we were finally awake we began scanning our map, on a quest for a trail that would lead us to the shoreline. We found one that fit the bill and after about an hour of walking through a wooded 2-mile path, we stumbled upon a secluded cove, still untouched by the high tide.
Days six and seven:
As our time in Canada drew to a close, we were hit with a wall of rain. In response, we began to search for indoor activities to salvage our plans. We decided to venture inland to the city of Moncton. We meandered, stopping at a pizza shop for lunch and a cafe for a cup of joe. Despite our commitment to a "no frivolous purchase" spending freeze, we couldn't resist the allure of a shoe shop, and both of us ended up leaving with a fresh pair of Blundstones in hand. As we began our journey back, the rain intensified, drenching J's new boots. We had to make an impromptu stop to wait for the storm to pass by before continuing our ride.
The following morning, we set out for Schoodic Penisula, which entailed a five-hour drive. Our primary agenda item for the day? Laundry – and it was quite an operation, filling up not one, not two, but three dryers! While our clothes tumbled and spun, Jonathan took the opportunity to perform some much-needed maintenance on our bus, while I dedicated my time to studying and laundry watching.
When we finally arrived at our campsite in Maine, we made smoothies, popcorn, played scrabble and watched The Office. Taking the opportunity to do a whole lot of nothing for the last few hours of the evening.
In the morning, over our usual shared coffee moment, we noted the rather ominous looking sky. While the weather forecast reported some rain, it seemed clear skies were to be expected around 11am. We decided to shrug off the initial drizzle and embark on the hour-long ride towards Bar Harbor and then further into the heart of Acadia National Park. Our plan for the day was to hike Precipice Trail and then navigate several connecting trails back to the parking lot. A total of 5 miles with a mile of a near vertical climb at the beginning.
This trail was so fun! From the very beginning we found ourselves rock scrambling, squeezing through tight openings and edging along ledges that seemed just barely larger than the width of our bodies. For the later half of the first mile we climb precarious ladders, and held onto conduit that shook at the slightest touch. It felt dangerous. And yet, when we finally reached the top, we yearned to climb a little higher and to teeter a bit closer to the edge.
At the summit, the rain started pouring down quickly turning parts of the trail into a stream. We forged ahead, tracing our way onto the Champlain South Trail, circling around the Bowl Lake, descending via the Beehive Trail, and eventually emerging onto the road. From there, we walked for about a mile back to the parking long. We promptly shed our sopping wet clothes and replaced them with fresh damp ones.
Busward bound, we made a pit stop for a late lunch. The waitress barely had a chance to take our order before we began blurting out coffee requests in rapid succession. We settled in for nearly two hours, savoring the warmth of coffee and indulging in a variety of dishes: fish n' chips, a blacken tuna steak sandwich, crab dip, and clam chowder.
As our ninth day on the road dawned, we were tired of being wet. We also noticed that our roof had developed a leak. And despite a run to the hardware store and what seemed like a meticulous caulking job, the water still managed to find its way into the bus. Realizing that the relentless rain in the Schoodic area showed no signs of letting up, and that most of our clothes were dirty and wet again, we made the tough decision to pack up and move on home. So by 10am we were packed and checked out of our lot. Our determination led us on a 15-hour drive, covering the distance from Schoodic, ME to Wilkes-Barre, PA. It was a LONG day. With the intention of completing the remaining 4 hours the following morning, we settled in for the night at a rest stop. As anticipated, we hit the road again after sunrise the next day and were back home by noon.
We made it back in almost one piece (our flue cap was gone, it must have fluen off at one point) and a few bolts had worked themselves loose, but we didn't lose any dishes this time! So I would like to think of this trip as a major success.