Here’s our report from the road for our third annual RV trip North.
Saturday, August 4
Set out at 7 a.m. yesterday for Wiscassett, Maine. GPS said we’d arrive at 5 p.m., but the entire East Coast was gridlocked in Friday beach traffic—like six hours of Saturday morning on Route One. Disturbing trend: they sell naming rights for everything now. FedEx Field, I understand, but the Citizen’s Bank EZ Pass Express Lane?
Arriving at the beautiful, wooded, waterfront campground 13 hours later, driver Bonnie was comatose, and shotgun here not much better. As we hooked up water and electric, bolts of lightning struck nearby. We weren’t inside three seconds when a massive storm erupted, which, from within our aluminum can, sounded like Armageddon.
But this was actually good. Reds EATS—universally recognized for the best lobster roll and the longest lines in New England, was open until 2 a.m. Might the monsoon deter other tourists? Yes! The rain stopped, there was almost no line at Reds, and each incredible lobster roll included a pound and a half of lobster and equal amounts of butter. Ate like animals, slept like Zombies.
Today, toured Booth Bay Harbor by boat, along three rivers, past nine lighthouses, seals, bald eagles and yachts only a Romney could afford. Awesome.
There’s a lobster price war, or CLAW WARS (complete with Star Wars logo t-shirts) here. At home, a 1.5 lb lobster dinner can cost upwards of $40, so I went all Carpe Diem, and for a personal best tonight: three one-pounders for $28. After a slow start, I rallied with a great finish. When the debris was cleared I expected a medal and the Star Spangled Banner.
If I eat at all tomorrow, it will be hamburger.
Monday night, August 6, 8:09 or 9:09, (‘cause we changed time zones and we’re baffled.)
Yesterday, when the woman at the campstore said, “Oh, don’t worry, no one has ever fallen out of a kayak here,” I figured I was doomed. But NO, I did not fall out, and Bonnie and I spent several hours kayaking along a beautiful winding waterway, watching the enormous tidal change very carefully. By the time we got back, the water was practically rushing out, leaving us to struggle out of the kayaks in deep, sludgy, mud. Not pretty.
Tonight we watched the Anne of Green Gables CD, because you have to know about Anne on Prince Edward Island, our next stop. The late, great actress Colleen Dewhurst starred and did her best, but the story was nauseatingly gooey. Like a Canadian Heidi.
Awoke surprised we could lift our coffee cups to our lips this morning, given the previous day’s strenuous paddling.
Drove to the Maine/Canada border, where the Canadian authorities questioned how much liquor we had aboard. Apparently we were two beers and a bottle of Vodka over the legal import limit, but they let us go anyway. It’s one time I should have had more to drink the night before.
Off to PEI tomorrow to eat mussels and see the green gables.
August 8, Prince Edward Island (PEI)
As we drove into New Brunswick on Tuesday, Bonnie loved the “Speed Limit 100” signs until she realized they meant kilometers. At one point we had gas station double header—filling up the RV from a front pump and simultaneously gassing up the towed Jeep with the back pump. We thought it was hilarious until our credit card was denied for suspicious activity...that took explaining.
Crossed the bridge to Prince Edward and, after getting settled at our campground (more like a parking lot with s’mores), we drove around the middle section of the island—they sure do like their Anne of Green Gables. There are a zillion Anne of GG stores and historic sites and souvenirs, and it’s very clear they are proud of her.
Also, business is booming because in Japan the Anne stories are in the middle school English curriculum, making 85% of the tourists to PEI Japanese.
As for the island, it’s very rural (you can tell that by how much real estate they give each cemetery headstone!). Glorious beaches with red sand from the iron in the soil, fishing villages and farms, right down to water’s edge. Amazing to see crops, not condos there.
We ate the famed PEI mussels at a marvelous dinner at the Lucy Maud Room of the Charlottetown Culinary Institute. Yes, it was Lucy Maud Montgomery who wrote A of GG. The restaurant faced the bay and while we dined we watched sailboat races, crew practice, and a huge contingent of paddle boarders who looked like they were walking on water...much like this whole island feels about their Anne of Green Gables.
Tomorrow more stunning weather is predicted as we take our traveling circus onto a ferry for Nova Scotia.
Saturday morning, August 11, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
The ferry was similar to the Cape May-Lewes crossing, although locally there have never been adjacent truckloads of mooing cows.
Lunenburg, a world heritage site is stunning. We walked into town for a light supper at dusk on the waterfront, with its tall ships, fishing boats, and historic buildings. Just one amazing view after another. Friday, we toured the lighthouse trail and reveled in more breathtaking scenery. After a while you run out of words and just start making gleeful noises.
We’ve been living in this tin can for over a week now and we have not killed each other yet. Although there appears to be a body bag in the back of the Jeep, it’s just our dirty laundry.
Monday night, August 13, Lunenburg
If you weren’t born in Nova Scotia, you are “from away.” Love that phrase. Also found that gay, shmay, nobody cares. At our campsite, we met two American women, a long-time couple, who live about an hour from here (been there a long time, but they are still “from away”) and we spent the evening talking up Rehoboth and learning about life in the Maritime Provinces, as these islands are called. I think I convinced them to drive down for Women’s FEST.
Saturday stayed overcast, but perfect for a quiet two-hour sail aboard a tour ship—full sail, no motor. With fog all around, we heard the eerie lighthouse fog horn even before we saw it. The fog hung around into the night and the sound of the fog horn in the distance lulled us to sleep. Or it might have been the Lunenburg wine.
On Sunday, with humidity at 110%, we schlepped up and down the steep hills to galleries and shops. We don’t buy souvenirs anymore. We just take pictures of what we would have bought, which is very satisfying. I especially liked the bag of lobster-flavored potato chips.
This afternoon Bon and I stuffed ourselves into a two-woman kayak for an expedition—in and out of narrow rocky passages, coves with pebbled shores, fishing shacks and uninhabited islands. The guide was great and we novices kept up with the other kayakers, which shocked me. Sorry, I was hoping for a klutzy disaster worth it just to tell the story, but no, I didn’t fall out, we didn’t run aground, nothing. Go figure.
Tomorrow we drive our RV-Jeep combo platter onto the Digby Ferry to New Brunswick, then to Campobello Island where FDR and Eleanor had their summer home, now a museum. Will they have photos of Eleanor and her girlfriend Lenora there?
Thursday, August 16 at Campobello
No cell service or WiFi. I’ve got the yips, and Bonnie loves watching me twist in the wind.
Finding this damn island was tricky. The shortest route from Canada was by two ferries, too small to handle our entourage. We’d have to cross back into the U.S., drive another hour, and take Maine’s FDR Bridge.
Well, without consulting us, our GPS bitch on the dashboard chose the shortest route to the bridge: ferry to ferry, across the whole stupid island, bassackwards from the Campobello side. We didn’t wake up and smell the seagull poop until she had us in line for the first ferry.
We had to back up, only you can’t back up an RV towing a car unless you want both vehicles in the body shop. Sadly, we know this first hand. So I used tarmac hand gestures to guide our personal parade in an ungainly u-turn. We trampled several medium sized trees and lodged a sapling in our windshield wiper.
Backtracking, we headed for the border and another discussion with the agents about our drinking habits. Back in the U.S.A. all was well for an hour until we veered off in a peculiar direction and dontcha know that bitch led us to the second ferry we couldn’t board.
Turning into a bank lot for another U-turn, we were fully committed before seeing the canopy over the drive-in lane. Abort!!! I jumped out to check clearance. We would have sheared off the RV roof and dumped it onto the Jeep. It’s rare you get a second chance to destroy your two vehicles at once, but here we were again.
We bumped our motorcade up a steep curb, across a stretch of rutted turf, then bounced back down. The booze the feds worried about was now mixed drinks.
We’d been on the road almost four hours for what we thought would be under two. At this rate we’d see sunrise at Campobello.
Eventually made it, and, having crossed from Canada to the U.S. we now had to enter Canada again.
Border Patrol: “How much liquor do you have aboard?”
Me: “Unfortunately, the same amount we had when we left your country several hours ago.”
Luckily, I wasn’t taken into custody.
On a sunny Wednesday we toured the meticulously restored Roosevelt home and attended a lively lecture about the First Lady, complete with tea and cookies, but not a word about Lorena. I was tempted to ask, but given the rest of the touristy, family crowd, decided against it. Now, I’m sorry.
Woke up to rain and fog today, so with little else to do, we cracked some lobsters for lunch and hunkered down in the RV, me typing and Bonnie doing her watercolors. Homeward bound tomorrow.
Friday, August whatever
Apologies to Reds EATS of Wiscassett, but at lunch at Ruth and Wimpys Kitchen in Hancock, ME we had, hands down, the BEST lobster roll ever. Not as big as Reds, but perfect.
It’s been a grand adventure, but I am ready to return to Rehomo. I’m writing to Trip Advisor about lobster rolls, writing to the FDR docents about including the truth about Eleanor, and when I finish the laundry, I’ll see you at Sundance.
Fay Jacobs is the author of As I Lay Frying—a Rehoboth Beach Memoir; Fried & True—Tales from Rehoboth Beach, and For Frying Out Loud—Rehoboth Beach Diaries. Contact Fay Jacobs