Has another year rolled by already?

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Yes, and what a journey it was! Our second year of living on the road is winding down as 2013 comes to an end.  We pause to reflect and look back at where we’ve been, the many new friends we’ve made, the old friends we’ve reconnected with and the challenges we overcame as we rolled along.  We started this year in Arizona, traveled across the southern states and the gulf coast, then headed all the way north to the northeast Canadian Maritime provinces. Finally, we came back down through the eastern seaboard and the outer banks to winter in Florida, where we are now.  Betsy accrued 9,000 miles and we stayed at 79 RV parks with no major mechanical problems – we can’t hope for much better than that! As shown below, our route going northeast is marked with fuchsia pins, while the purple pins show our trek back down south.  We are now more than halfway through our goal of visiting all 49 states, after adding 23 to our list this year.  We estimate it will take a couple more years to check out the last 20 states, then we’ll decide if we want to do it all over again!

Here are some highlights of our fantastic 2013 travels:

~ Betsy’s woes – While we enjoyed the many perks and benefits of our home on wheels, the constant movement and shaking brought some challenges.  Along the way we dealt with minor water leaks, a dead video camera, an intermittent engine cooling issue, fluctuating refrigerator temperatures, an out of the country repair and getting locked out of our coach.  Our hellish approach into New Orleans, the stressful drive around New York City and getting stuck briefly on the New Jersey Turnpike were driving realities that we prefer not to go through again, but on the upside – we survived!

~ Weather, weather, weather – As we all know, the eastern section of the U.S. is famous for its humidity and muggy days. And yes, we sweated a lot and had to ratchet up the frequency of showers.  This was our first experience with severe storm warnings involving tornadoes and thunderstorms, and we even had visits from park hosts reminding us to be prepared.  We were doused with some torrential rains as well – all part of the experience.

~ History lessons galore – Traveling east of the Mississippi means experiencing the rich history belt of our country. We are not really history buffs, but we found ourselves immersed in the stories of our founding fathers as we visited their historical homes in several states.  We enjoyed so much learning more about the american revolutionary past in Boston, and enhancing our understanding of the civil war in Gettysburg.  We topped off our history lesson during our wonderful visit to our nation’s capital.

~ Tasty local/regional cuisine – Our appetites were satiated so many times with great local foods, from the cajun and creole cuisine in Louisana, to the cheeses in Vermont, to the succulent lobsters in Maine, to the barbecues in the Carolinas, the hearty southern comfort foods in Georgia and Alabama and the freshest mussels at Prince Edward Island.  And we won’t soon forget the many unique and refreshing local brews we enjoyed along the way!

~ Natural and man-made wonders – The eastern states may not have the majestic mountains or amazing gigantic rock formations of the west, but we explored and enjoyed its unique collection of beautiful and diverse natural wonders.  These included the mighty Niagara Falls, the hundreds of barrier islands along the Atlantic coast with its rugged cliffs and miles of white sandy beaches, the fabulous Acadia NP, the haunting swamps in Louisiana and the dreamy moss draped live oak trees in Georgia and Florida.  We discovered several hidden gems that were not regular tourist destinations.  We were amazed by the high rises in Manhattan, NYC, the White Sands Missile Range in Alamogordo, NM and the Apollo/Saturn rockets and space shuttles at the Johnson Space Center in Houston and the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

~ Traveling abroad – We took Betsy across the border to explore the Canadian Maritimes, and were wowed by the picturesque coastline of Nova Scotia, the colorful fishing hamlets of Prince Edward Island and all of the astounding natural beauty in New Brunswick.  I took a “time out” to fly all the way to the Philippines to visit my 95-year-old mom and play tourist in the Philippines.  At the end of the year, Steve got some time off from driving Betsy as we hopped on a really big boat to cruise the southern caribbean (more to come on that).

~ Friendships – One of the wonderful rewards of traveling on the road is the many new friends we meet along the way.  Some are like-minded folks we meet at RV parks or other places along the way, others become friends via our blogs.  Blogging has become a great instrument in connecting us to wonderful people – folks with similar interests and a lust for adventure.  We cherish all of our new friendships, cheers!

Reconnecting with our friends to catch up and reminiscing about good times – it was so nice to hang out with these great people during our journey this year!

As we look forward to another year of adventures, we want to THANK YOU for “jamming along” with us and turning our memories into travel references and inspirations to see these many places.  We have many more to see, but we hope you’re enjoying our tales from the road.  We’ll strive to continue sharing our stories in an interesting way as we experience and capture them. We wish you a great year ahead, good health and safe travels!!!

Coming up: San Juan, Puerto Rico Southern Caribbean Cruise *******************************************************************

Our final stop in the Maritimes – St. Andrews-by-the-Sea

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St Andrews by the seaFor those of you just joining us on our Canadian Maritime adventure, we are actually back in the USA now – sitting on the coast of Maine at the moment.  This post is a catch-up to cover our final stop and end of our Canadian travels.  We were having such a great time and seeing so many things that sitting in front of a computer had to take a back seat.  Besides, not having internet connectivity at times made it impossible to keep up.

Anyway, we arrived at St Andrews-by-the-Sea excited, as this was our last stop before crossing the border again. The moment we felt the sea breeze brushing our cheeks as we settled into our campsite, we immediately liked the place.  Who wouldn’t?  We had another “big screen” view, this time of Passamaquody bay.  We stayed at Kiwanis Oceanfront Camping – click here if interested in Steve’s review of this great campground.

Passamaquoddy Bay

Passamaquoddy Bay at low tide

Kiwanis Ocean Camping,St Andrews by the Sea

Betsy-by-the-Sea

We explored the beautiful little town of St. Andrews-by-the-Sea on foot, as all attractions were walkable from our campground.  Having been in the rain for the past few days, we welcomed the sunshine and started early on our sightseeing.  This town was designated as a National Historic District, one of the oldest and loveliest in the Maritimes.  We agree.  It is loaded with neat shops and excellent restaurants.  We could definitely spend more time here!

St Andrews by the sea

Water Street early in the morning

St Andrews-by-the-sea

Market Wharf

Strolling around this little seaside town, we observed many of the well-preserved original buildings.

St Andrews by the sea

The local folks we talked to were the friendliest we have met while in Canada.  From the lady at the coffee shop to the lady at Olive and Spreads, to the lady at the Irish pub – they were all very helpful!

Our wanderings also led us to a blockhouse, which is a building modestly fortified to defend an area.  This one was built during the War of 1812 between the U.S. and Great Britain, and it is the last one standing in the Maritimes.  The St. Andrews Blockhouse and Battery has been preserved as a national historic site since 1962.

St Andrews Blockhouse

That’s Maine over there across the water where the cannons are pointing!

Since Passamaquoddy Bay was only a few steps from Betsy, I went down and explored the tidal floor and checked out the shore birds while the tide was low.

A few interesting marine plants and shells on the ocean floor:

We joined yet another tour, this time aboard the Jolly Breeze.  We didn’t go so much to see the whales and other sea creatures (we’ve seen many in Alaska), but more for the experience of cruising aboard a classic tall ship.  We saw this ship go by the campground and thought it would be fun to hop aboard.  That’s the Jolly Breeze cruising by in our new blog header.

Jolly Breeze

Aboard Jolly Breeze

St Andrews by the sea

St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, viewed from the Jolly Breeze

A was to be expected, we saw a Minke Whale, Harbor Seals, Grey Seals and a couple of Bald Eagles.

Each morning I got up early to catch the sunrise.  With the open space and the bay before us, the photo ops were right there for the clicking.  I have taken so many pictures that picking one is like picking your favorite sister – too difficult!

St Andrews by the sea

St. Andrews-by-the-Sea was a great final stop on our Maritime adventure. We liked the look and feel of the town, enjoying every minute of our stay.  A rainbow even appeared, as if to confirm Steve’s comment that this was one of his favorite harbor towns of all. St Andrews by the sea

Our Canadian Maritime adventure stats:

Number of days in Canada = 29 (8/11-9/9)
Miles driven = 1,332
Amount of diesel burned = 177 gallons
Average price for diesel = $5.10/gallon

What was originally planned as a two-week trip mushroomed into a whole month of driving around the Maritime provinces, made up of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.  Despite spotty internet in the RV parks, high prices, a lot of rain and some bad roads – the trip was well worth it.  The people were friendly and seemed happy to see visitors in their towns.

Which province is my favorite?  It would have to be Prince Edward Island – the whole island is just too picturesque, pastoral with wide open spaces.

Canada Maritimes

Map of where we had been in Canada’s Maritimes

Our blogger friends were like walking visitor centers – many thanks to Pam of Oh the Places they go, (especially the Scone alert!), Gay of Good Times Rolling (we stayed at the RV parks they were in) Brenda of Island Girl (the French River was the best!) and Judith of Red Road Diaries – they had been here before and provided us with excellent inside information and tips about the Maritimes.

And finally, finally..the morning we left for the USA was no exception, as I captured this very serene and calm morning with brushstroke clouds that made it look like a painting. The beautiful sunrise was a great start for our journey back to the good ‘ol USA.

Sunrise at St Andrews by the sea

Next up:

The fabulous Acadia National Park!

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Island Girls meet on Prince Edward Island – fun, fun, fun!

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Great Heron

Prince Edward Island was such a fitting place for the “island girls” to meet.  But before I reveal who they are, allow me to first share more sights and scenes around PEI.  Being a small island, its waters are teeming with all things seafood – including lobsters, mussels, oysters, quahogs and bar clams, among others.  We can proudly boast that we have dined on the freshest and best PEI mussels in existence.  Steve got adventurous and ordered two new shellfish in his food vocabulary, Quahogs and Bar Clams.  That was a great decision – yum!

Our new friend Brenda tipped us off about French River, which was just a few miles from our campground.  It is one of PEI’s most famously picturesque fishing villages, and what a view it is!

French River

My panoramic shot cannot capture it’s unique features, the contrasting yet complimentary combination of water view and farmland in ONE  single vista.

French River

And so here is my attempt to take section shots.  They were taken on a perfectly clear day from left to right on the pano shot. Just imagine yourself sitting on top of a hill overlooking this vista. Simply beautiful.

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French River

French River

We spent a while here just admiring gorgeous views we haven’t seen anywhere else!

Now, back to the “island girls” meeting.  When I learned that Island Girl was in the Canadian Maritimes the same time we were, my desire to meet a fellow blogger kicked in.  We had been following each other, and a rendezvous was in order at the right place on the island.  As you know, I hail from one of the thousands of islands in the Philippines – Cebu – while Brenda is from another beautiful island – Puerto Rico.  They appropriately named their coach Island Girl!  So, we had our own little summit on PEI.  Brenda, Hector and the very sweet 4-legged doggie Angel were perfect hosts at their campground right on the sea.

Island Girl

What a view they had – I’m almost standing in the water to get this shot!

Hector who comes from Cuba showed us his shucking skills, offering the “boutique” oysters from the area – Malpeques and Raspberry points.  Both are delicious!  We shared travel ideas and tips, and enjoyed each other’s company so much that we forgot about the time.

Check them out, as they have covered a lot of ground while here in the Maritimes.  Not to mention, Hector’s photography is outstanding!

Island Girl

Brenda and Mona Liza at the official Island Girls site!

Also, they happened to be at an awesome spot for a gorgeous sunset.

New Annan, Sunset

Sunset at New Annan

 

Next up:  Betsy goes to the hospital – Halifax, NS

 

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Blazing some trails on Prince Edward Island

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Prince Edward Island National Park

Prince Edward Island (PEI) isn’t just all pastoral landscapes and gleaming harbors.  The island is also famous for being the home of Anne of Green Gables, and I vaguely remember the tv series from decades ago.  However, since I wasn’t a fan we skipped a trip to the Green Gables National Historic Site.  Fortunately, our base camp at Cavendish was only five minutes away from PEI National Park.  As always, we did what we do whenever we get a chance – hike and bike.

On our first full day we hiked one of the trails which took us through several micro-environments.

Duneland at PEI

Starting off toward the dunes along beautiful Cavendish Beach.

Cavendish Beach

He made it!  I’m down on the beach already.

After a while the trail took us out into a wetlands area.

Cavendish Beach

Homestead Trail

The clouds seemed to mimic the outline of the trees.

Falcon

A good looking Merlin checked us out from above.

We finally ended up at a red beach where I touched the warm waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Next we headed back inland and followed the Homestead Trail.  This one passed through lush forests and rolling farmland along the beautiful shores of New London Bay.

The sun was already high over our heads so there were no shady spots to rest on this section, but at every turn we were faced with meadows of pretty colorful wildflowers.

Homestead Trail

Not a bad way to spend a Tuesday afternoon!

Homestead Trail, PEI

Is he lost?  Does he care?

A hint that summer is almost over.

On another day we took our bikes and followed the coastline of PEI fronting the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The soil on PEI is a deep red, so the dramatic rocks and cliffs around the coast reflect this, while the sand on the beaches is white.  It makes for a stunning coastline.

PEI Coastline

Sandstone

There were many areas of reddish sandstone like this one.

PEI Coastal Trail

Why is this woman so happy? Could it be the wildflowers, the birds, the beach? Maybe all of the above?

PEI Coastline

Steve spotted something way out at the end of the rocks – is that a bird ?

Bald Eagle

After getting closer – yup, it’s a Bald Eagle!

Several foxes strutted along the road causing a traffic jam.

Red Fox

Red fox trotting along the road.

Red Foxes

These foxes look like they’re kissing

The day finally ended with another gorgeous sunset over the island.

Red Sand  Beach

Red sand beach glowed at dusk

PEI Sunset

Gulf of St. Lawrence glowed orange in the sunset.

Next up:  Island girls meet up at PEI

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