Travel Planning

Mega Trip 2019 – The Geezers Have Begun Planning Their Next Adventure

Starting With the Anchor of Our Trip To be honest, we started planning this adventure, on kind of a whim, almost a year ago. Geoff is always scanning upcoming cruises on the iCruise app on his iPad or checking the emails we receive on a regular basis from Vacations To Go and the various cruise… Read…

Geoff at GoldenGate

2018 Mini Birthday Trip (For Geoff’s Birthday)

We were hoping to have another Mega Trip in 2018. After all, the last one was in 2014 and we were longing for another extended trip.

Sadly, it was not to be for 2018. But that didn’t stop us from planning a shorter trip – complete with a TransAtlantic cruise – just at the right time to celebrate Geoff’s birthday.

Although this trip may not be considered “short” by some standards, it felt that way for us. We would be traveling for less than a month – unusual for our trips.

Here is our itinerary. We’ll go into more detail on individual blog posts.

  • May 3 – Drive to Thunder Bay. Stay at the Valhalla Inn.
  • May 4 – Fly from Thunder Bay (YQT) to Toronto (YYZ) to Atlanta (ATL) to San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJO). We’ll explain why there were so many flights on that post.
  • May 4-7 – Howard Johnson’s in San Juan
  • May 6-20 – Onboard Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas from San Juan to Rome. More about all the ports of call on individual blog posts.
  • May 20-21 – B&B just outside of Rome.
  • May 21 – Flight from Rome to Lisbon, Portugal
  • May 21-23 – B&B in Belém just outside of Lisbon
  • May 23 – Flight from Lisbon to Toronto
  • May 23 – Days Inn in Toronto
  • May 24 – Flight from Toronto to Thunder Bay – picked up car and drove home

As you can see, the trip was just barely over three weeks, so we couldn’t call it a Mega Trip.

However, it was a great way to celebrate Geoff’s Birthday. We were on Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands for his birthday on May 14th.

Greyhound Bus When We Arrived in Thunder Bay

Jumping in Front of a Bus

A Year Ago Today

Well, it’s been a year since we started our last adventure, so we figured it was time to start blogging about it, and also try to figure out where the heck a year went!

While we were traveling we didn’t have much time to blog and frequently didn’t have consistent internet access. So, we’re now back home, well rested from our adventure and have decided to blog by looking back a year. For us, it’s a great way to remember the wonderful time we had so it doesn’t fade from our memories so quickly.

We hope you’ll enjoy following along as we visit some amazing places.

But, yes, this trip started with us jumping in front of a bus – a Greyhound bus to be exact.

Early Morning Start

On July 21, 2014, a year ago today, very, very early in the morning (it was about 5:30am and still dark), we began our adventure.

Although the place that we had to wait to catch our bus was not a long walk from our home, we had more luggage than we cared to carry that far. The solution: we drove to the designated spot, dropped our luggage and I stayed with it while Geoff took the car back home, prepared it for being left for a few months and then walked back to where I was waiting.

But, we still haven’t gotten to the reason we would have to jump in front of a bus yet.

You see, we live in a very small town in Northern Ontario. Our town, at that time, was not a regular stop on Greyhound’s schedule – you need to wave down the bus. Seems easy enough – right?

Well, at 6:00am, while it was still dark, the idea of a bus driver seeing us frantically waving our arms at the side of the road seemed less than certain.

Trying to be as Certain as Possible

We had, of course, called the nearest Greyhound station a few days before to be sure they left a message for the driver that there would be passengers (us) waiting. However, we also knew that the only thing that station could do was leave a note for the driver as there would be no official actually at the station when the driver made his designated stop there around 4:00am. We had to trust that the people we spoke with would remember to leave the note and that the driver would remember to pick it up.

Now, this might seem like a lot worrying. Couldn’t we just get the next bus if we missed this one?

Well, no. If we missed this bus then the entire trip was in jeopardy. While this bus got us to Thunder Bay way ahead of our flight time, the next bus, which was more than 12 hours later, would mean that we would miss our flight.

As we like to do, everything was pre-planned and pre-booked months in advance for various reasons but mostly to get the best prices so the trip wouldn’t be too expensive. Near the end of our journey we faced another very tight schedule that could have been a disaster if we missed connections, but that’s in another post.

We were pleased to see another couple was also waiting for the bus this early in the morning. They said they had also asked Greyhound to make sure the driver knew they’d be waiting.

Let the Worrying Begin!

The estimated time for our bus to arrive, according to Greyhound’s website, was 6:15am. Well, 6:15 came and went, as did 6:20, 6:25 and 6:30. Naturally, we were all speculating what might have happened; an accident on the highway, bus breakdown, etc. We were consoling ourselves with the fact that we had been there so early that we couldn’t possibly have missed the bus. Right?

Just as we were about to call Greyhound, hoping that someone would be available, some very large headlights appeared in the distance. Now, we’d already seen many transport trucks go by, mistaking many of them for the bus, but this time we were almost certain.

Time to Jump in Front of the Bus

Greyhound Bus When We Arrived in Thunder Bay

Geoff ran to the edge of the highway and began to wave his arms, hoping that he didn’t have to actually jump directly in front of a moving bus. As luck would have it, the driver saw him, using his turn signals to indicate that and we all breathed a collective sigh of relief. The bus may have been a bit late, but we still had lots of time to get to the Thunder Bay airport.

Once we arrived at the Thunder Bay Greyhound bus station, we immediately grabbed a taxi and headed directly to the airport.

The taxi fare was a little more than expected – about $30 Canadian. I guess we didn’t realize just how far the airport was from the bus station.

Long Journey to Iceland Begins

We settled in at the airport to wait for our first of three flights that we would be taking today. Once again, all of these flights had to leave on time (or close to) for everything to work out. The one advantage was that we had booked all of these flights directly with IcelandAir, so if we missed any of them because of delays, cancelations, etc., they would have to reschedule us

Here’s the schedule of what needed to happen today (We’ll talk about the schedules we had to hit tomorrow – tomorrow).

  • 6:15am – Bus to Thunder Bay
  • 1:35pm – Flight from Thunder Bay to Toronto Island (Billy Bishop) Airport (2 hour flight)
  • 5:00pm – Flight from Toronto Airport to Newark, New Jersey International Airport (1-1/2 hour flight)
  • 8:45pm – Flight from New Jersey to Reykjavík-Keflavík Airport, Iceland (5-1/2 hour flight – arriving the next morning at 6:15am Iceland time)

Why So Many Flights?

You may be asking yourself at this point, “Why so many flights? Surely there’s a direct flight from Toronto to Reykjavik.” Well, yes, there is. However, we’re always looking for the cheapest most economical way to travel because, well, we’re cheap frugal. 😉

Anyway, we missed out, by a day or two, on the least expensive fare involving only two flights. That left us with the three flight option, at a significant savings, so that’s what we booked.

Yes, it made for a long day that was a little stressful, but, as long as it all came together as anticipated, we decided it wouldn’t be that bad.

It All Comes Together

As it happens, with some tiny glitches, everything came together and we were on our way to Iceland!

We Did It!

Nov 23 ~ Day #197
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$19700
$15.00
$17041.71
$86.51
Miles by Road
Miles by Sea
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Miles
16084.6
12056.7
7662
196
35999.3

We Did It!

When we began this adventure we set ourselves a challenge. To complete this trip on an average of $100/day or less.

As you can see from the recap of our final totals, we not only met that challenge, we exceeded it.

We traveled for a total of 197 days on an average of $86.51/day. Not bad!

Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

First we’d like to say a heartfelt thank you to all the friends and family we stayed with along the way. We could not have achieved our goal without your generous hospitality.

We have mentioned all of you in each appropriate blog post but we would like to thank you all once again. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Putting Things in Perspective

When we mention the mileage, the number of days, places visited, etc. sometimes things just become a blur and the true magnitude is not particularly clear. So, here we’re going to recap things and try to bring some perspective.

Mileage

The total miles traveled, including road, train, sea and air, was 35,999.3. Too bad we couldn’t have added just 0.7 of a mile more. That would have pushed us to an even 36,000 miles.

But, to put this mileage in perspective, the circumference of the earth, at the equator, is 24,901.55 miles.

That means we could have traveled around the globe almost one and a half times. Wow!

Days Traveled

I don’t think we actually calculated the number of days we were going to be traveling when we started this adventure.

Oh sure, we knew the day we were going to start. We also knew the day we were going to fly back home. Both were booked before we set out. But we didn’t actually take the time to calculate just how long the time in between those dates was.

Total number of days traveled = 197.

If you apply an average of 30 days to a month, then we traveled for a total of 6.6 months, more than half a year. Again – wow!

Cruises and More Included in the Trip

It seems amazing even to us what we were able to pack into this trip. Here’s a quick recap.

Cruises

Our trip included three cruises:

  • a two week Alaska cruise
  • a six day Greek Islands cruise
  • a two week TransAtlantic cruise

That’s a total of 34 days – more than a month – spent on cruise ships.

Narrowboats in the UK

We were able to spend an entire week on a narrowboat on the Trent/Mersey canal system in the UK.

Orlando and Disney

We spent two weeks in Orlando at two different timeshare resorts and spent time at more than one Disney theme park.

Landmarks Visited

Along the way we were fortunate to visit many landmarks both in North America and Europe.

Here’s a few:
United States

  • Carlsbad Caverns
  • Monument Valley
  • Grand Canyon

Canada

  • Victoria, British Columbia (a must-see)
  • Hell’s Gate, British Columbia
  • Columbia Ice Fields, Alberta
  • Banff and Jasper, Alberta
  • Lake Louise, Alberta
  • Terry Fox Monument, Thunder Bay, Ontario
  • Reversing Falls, New Brunswick
  • St. Andrews-By-The-Sea, New Brunswick
  • Confederation Bridge, between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island
  • Birthplace of Canadian Confederation, Charlottetown, PEI
  • Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia

England

  • Buckingham Palace
  • Tower Bridge
  • Tower of London
  • British Parliament Buildings
  • Big Ben
  • British Museum
  • Stratford-Upon-Avon, birthplace of Shakespeare

Spain

  • La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
  • Dénia Castle, Dénia

Portugal

  • Madeira, the home of Madeira wine

Greece

  • Santorini

Croatia

  • the old walled city of Dubrovnik

Italy

  • St. Mark’s Square, Venice
  • the ruins of Pompeii
  • the ruins of Paestum
  • the Amalfi Coast

And, I’m sure there are things we are forgetting. It’s time for us to go back and re-read all the posts we have made along the way and to review all the photos and videos we have as well.

This was the trip of a lifetime for us. We will continue to travel, of course, but it is unlikely that we will ever again take such an extensive trip. It was a great adventure but a very long time to be away from home.

We will continue to have, we hope, many, many more adventures. But, perhaps shorter ones this time. 🙂

Thank you to everyone who has followed along with us and to those who have made comments as well. It was a pleasure to share this adventure with you.

Visiting Family in Nova Scotia

Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far

Aug 04 ~ Day #86
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$8600
$0.00
$8009.95
$93.13
Miles by Road
Miles by Sea
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Miles
11025+22=11047
4451
000
69
15567

Aug 07 ~ Day #89
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$8900
$0.00
$8009.95
$89.99
Miles by Road
Miles by Sea
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Miles
11047
4451
000
69
15567

Current Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia

While spending time near Peggy’s Cove we had no idea how close we actually were to Geoff’s daughter’s family. As it turned out we were only 22 miles away! Who knew?

Striking Camp in the Rain
(Wednesday, August 4)

We had planned to take a picture of the car, with the tent attached, at our lovely little campsite by the ocean but Mother Nature had other plans.

We woke up to torrential rains and hoped that we could just wait it out. Packing up a wet tent is one thing but packing up while it is still raining can be pretty miserable, as I’m sure you can imagine.

As we waited it became obvious that this was likely to be an all-day rain.

Reluctantly we resigned ourselves to the reality of having to pack up in the rain. It wasn’t fun but we got it done and arrived at J, P & K’s about 11:00am – just a short 1/2 hour drive from our campsite.

Hugs & Kisses All ‘Round

Visiting family is always wonderful and this was our first visit to their home in Nova Scotia.

Even though the rain and fog continued for the rest of the day, it didn’t dampen our spirits.

More Fog & Games
(Thursday, August 5th)

The fog continued on the second day of our visit but we had a great time catching up.

In the evening they suggested playing a video game called “Scene-It” on their X-Box 360.

We don’t really get much into video games but Vicky really enjoyed this one – a trivia game based on movies.

Sunshine & the Halifax Waterfront
(Friday, August 6th)

On Friday the clouds drifted away and the sun came out, so we decided to head to the Halifax Waterfront.

Busker Festival

There was a Busker Festival happening at the Halifax Waterfront so there were all kinds of weird and wonderful acts to see and the waterfront was very crowded.

A Wharf, Fish & Chips & Ice Cream

J & P treated us to a lovely fish & chip lunch at a favourite restaurant of their’s that was, incidentally, on a wharf overlooking the ocean!

After walking along the waterfront for a while and popping into shops, we were also treated to ice cream at Cows.

Thanks Guys!

We then got a quick driving tour of downtown Halifax and the Citadel.

After a fabulous dinner back at home, we topped off a perfect day with a backyard campfire and roasted marshmallows.

Our Last Day
(Saturday, August 7th)

Having determined that the next leg of our trip was longer than we had actually thought, we decided we needed to leave tomorrow morning.

So, we spent time repacking and re-organizing and, later that evening, Vicky requested that we play “Scene-It” again because she enjoyed it so much the first time.

We still couldn’t beat J, P & K, but we got better scores this time the than first time we played.

Geoff’s Note
Vicky has been writing all the posts lately because I’ve been busy with other things but I need to add my thanks here.

As Vicky mentioned this is the first time we have seen my daughters new home and I’m very glad to see they are doing so well.

It was also nice to be able to spend some time with my granddaughter, something we really have not been able to do while living so far apart.

Thanks again for your hospitality and we already have our flight booked for next May.

Lunenburg and the Bluenose II

Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far

Aug 03 ~ Day #85
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$8500
$137.06
$8009.95
$94.23
Miles by Road
Miles by Sea
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Miles
10914+111=11025
4451
000
69
15545

Current Location: Glen Margaret, Nova Scotia

Today’s Total Expenses: $137.06

Transportation: $69.01
Accommodation: $24.00
Food: $44.05

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

In our search for the typical fishing village of our imagination, many people we spoke to suggested Lunenburg.

We were fortunate that the day we chose to visit Lunenburg was sunny and 72 deg F. Certainly not as warm as we are used to but quite pleasant nonetheless.

We decided to take the scenic coastal route and avoid any major highways that are all starting to look the same anyway.

Along the way we passed through Mahone Bay and made a mental note to stop there on the way back as it seemed picturesque and vibrant.

Fish & Chips

We arrived in Lunenburg right about lunchtime, found a place to park and went in search of fish & chips for lunch.

We looked at a few menus and settled on a restaurant called “Big Red’s” overlooking the wharf in Lunenburg.

Apparently the building used to be the old jail – conveniently located near the docks.

We chose this restaurant for two reasons – the location and the fact that they proudly advertised their fish & chips. In a lot of the other restaurants, we had to search their menu to see if they even had fish & chips!

Our waitress was bright and cherry and said their fish & chips, which came with coleslaw, homemade bread and tartar sauce, were great.

We confidently ordered our lunch and splurged for extra fish as well.

While the meal was nice, we have had better and so were not “wowed” by the experience. But we did manage to clean our plates!

Bluenose II

Another reason for visiting Lunenburg is because it is the home of the famous Bluenose sailing ship.

The original Bluenose was built in 1921 and sank off the coast of Haiti in 1946. The Bluenose II was built in 1963.

If the Bluenose is in port you can actually buy tickets to sail on her. We went to inquire as to the cost of such an excursion but were told that the ship was being refitted and would not be back in service until 2012! We did, however, manage to get a pictures of the stripped down hull.

Mahone Bay

After walking around some of the colourful houses and shops of Lunenburg we decided to head back towards Mahone Bay.

This picturesque town is worth the visit and presents lots of photo ops.

Again, we spent some time walking around and even popped into a local museum.

Oak Island Museum – Capt. Kidd’s Treasure

The Oak Island Museum in Mahone Bay is tiny but packed full of information. Another piece of Canadian history and lore that few people have heard of.

There have been several attempts to locate the infamous treasure and a booby-trapped shaft, along with other mysterious structures, have been found but still no treasure.

The island is now privately owned and access is restricted.

Bay Hammocks, Seabright, NS

On our way back to our campsite we decided to stop in on a hammock store we had noticed on the way out. Their sign said “Watch Hammocks Being Made”.

We’re sure glad we stopped. It was fascinating!

Lynn, a master hammock maker, gave us a tour showing us everything from how the cord is made to how each style of hammock is put together.

It was a pleasure to listen to her talk about her profession with genuine pride and enthusiasm.

Our favourite hammock was the Yucatan model.

Each hammock is handmade locally with a choice of style and cord.

I can’t wait until we are able to order one (or more) for ourselves.

Sheet Harbour to Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia

Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far

Aug 02 ~ Day #84
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$8400
$37.68
$7872.89
$93.72
Miles by Road
Miles by Sea
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Miles
10780+134=10914
4451
000
69
15434

Current Location: Glen Margaret, NS

Today’s Total Expenses: $37.68

Transportation: $
Accommodation: $24.00
Food: $13.68

Ocean Drive to Seaside Camping

When we left the campground in Sheet Harbour we headed towards Peggy’s Cove. We had a booklet from Nova Scotia Tourism that we picked up on the Wood Island Ferry that listed campgrounds near Peggy’s Cove and we headed towards Seaside Camping in Glen Margaret, Nova Scotia, just a few miles from Peggy’s Cove.

The drive we took was mostly along the ocean and very enjoyable.

Lawrence Beach Surfing

We stopped along the way at Lawrence Beach. It seemed pretty popular guessing by the number of vehicles that were parked there. We decided to take a lunch break while we were there but found it very windy and cold.

The cold and windy weather didn’t deter determined surfers at all as there were certainly a lot of them there. Most of them, however, were in wetsuits and all of them, I’m sure, were a lot younger than we are.

Peggy’s Cove

After stopping at Seaside Camping in Glen Margaret and setting up our tent, we headed to Peggy’s Cove which I am sure is known worldwide for both it’s picturesque town and lighthouse, as well as the site of the SwissAir Flight 111 memorial.

Peggy’s Cove is small and cozy, with an impressive lighthouse. There are also several artisans and small shops.

It doesn’t take long to walk around the town. Geoff got some great shots and, after spending an hour or so, we left. There were several cars already jockeying for our parking spot as we drove away.

SwissAir Flight 111 Memorial

Just a short drive from Peggy’s Cove is the SwissAir Flight 111 Memorial. It is low key, but that’s fine. Stop by if you visit Peggy’s Cove.

A Seagull’s Crab Dinner

While we were having our own dinner at our campsite, overlooking the ocean, a seagull decided to have a seafood dinner. He scooped up a crab and flew him to the beach right in front of us.

He dropped the crab on the sand and it made a futile attempt to get away. The seagull then made pretty short work of it. But, it was amazing to see the food chain in action.

PEI to Nova Scotia

Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far

Aug 01 ~ Day #83
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$8300
$89.00
$7835.21
$94.40
Miles by Road
Miles by Sea
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Miles
10657+123=10780
4437+14=4451
000
69
15300

Current Location: Sheet Harbour, Nova Scotia

Today’s Total Expenses: $89.00

Transportation: $69.00
Accommodation: $20.00

Is It Just Us?

At this point I’ve got to ask myself if we’re different from other people. I can’t imagine that we would be that different.

However, we weren’t that impressed with Prince Edward Island.

Yes, the scenery was beautiful – rolling hills, lots of farms, very green.

In Search of a Quaint Fishing Village.

I really, really want to see what I have in my imagination as a typical, quaint fishing village.

You know – colourful fishing boats, nets drying in the sun on a weathered old wharf mixed with open-air cafes – that kind of thing. Like you see in pictures and travel magazines.

PEI Coastal Drives

I suppose we could have taken some of the PEI Coastal drives. I’m sure the scenery would have been enchanting but we have spent SO MUCH time in the car already that the idea of spending more time driving really didn’t appeal to me.

On top of that, when I explained what I was looking for to people living on PEI they couldn’t really say that I’d find the type of village I was seeking – so we decided to move on.

Wood Island Ferry VS Confederation Bridge

The only ways to get on or off of Prince Edward Island is by the Confederation Bridge or the Wood Island Ferry.

Whatever way you choose to get on the island, there is no charge. You are only charged when you leave.

Presently, the charge on the Confederation Bridge is $42.50 for a passenger vehicle. The charge for the ferry is $69.00 which includes a $5.00 fuel surcharge. Also, if you reserve your space on the ferry ahead of time there is an additional $5.00 charge.

Even though the ferry was more expensive, we decided to leave the island that way for two reasons:

  • because it would be a more interesting and pleasant experience than more driving.
  • we were headed to Nova Scotia anyway and the ferry, which goes to Pictou, headed us in the direction we wanted to go.

We arrived a little more than an hour before sailing time, without a reservation, and were still able to get on.

It was an enjoyable journey on a bright, sunny day with only light winds.

I had hoped we might see some seals, dolphins or even whales during the crossing, but it was not to be.

Peggy’s Cove and Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Our destinations for the next two days are Peggy’s Cove and Lunenburg as we are still in search of the fishing village of my imagination and also on a quest to have perfect fish & chips on a wharf overlooking the ocean.

East River Lodge and Campground

We got a warm welcome at the East River Lodge campground in Sheet Harbour, Nova Scotia. We found them through the lodgings booklet provided by Nova Scotia Tourism.

It was a warm evening and we settled in quickly. I fell off to sleep with visions of boats and fishing nets dancing my head.

Prince Edward Island

Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far

July 31 ~ Day #82
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$8200
$96.00
$7746.21
$94.46
Miles by Road
Nautical Miles
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Statute Miles
10529+128=10657
3856 [4437]
000
69
15163

Current Location: Cavendish, PEI

Today’s Total Expenses: $96.00

Transportation: $56.00
Accommodation: $40.00

Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island

This morning we packed up our tent and headed over the Confederation Bridge into Prince Edward Island.

We had been told by others that there is no charge to use the bridge to get onto PEI, you are only charged when you leave. Apparently the same is true of the Wood Island Ferry.

As we drove over the bridge, which is an impressive drive by the way, we got a quick glimpse of the charges for the bridge. We only saw one sign with the prices, so, if you miss it, you miss it, I guess.

Anyway, I was pretty sure the sign indicated that for a passenger vehicle the charge for the bridge was $42.50. That seemed pretty high to me, but it’s a pretty impressive engineering feat, too, so I guess it’s right.

And, like I said, you only get charged once, so that’s not a charge for each way – thank goodness!

Red Soil and Potatoes

You may or may not know that Prince Edward Island is pretty famous for its potato production. I think, if you’re Canadian, you’ll probably be aware of that fact, but maybe not.

Some Canadians may even remember the Stompin’ Tom Connors song about PEI, but now I think I may be really dating myself.

One thing that I certainly didn’t know about PEI is that the entire island, at least the parts we saw, seem to be completely covered with red soil. And, when it rains, red mud.

I actually found it fascinating.

Oasis Campground

We had decided to stay at Oasis in Cavendish, PEI. It’s Atlantic Canada’s only naturist resort.

It seemed kind of pricey – $40.00 to tent there – but every lot had water and electricity even though we only needed an unserviced lot for our tent.

It’s a tiny resort with a small swimming pool and there weren’t many people there during our stay.

Because of the price, we decided to stay only one night. Had their prices been a bit more reasonable we would have likely stayed a few days. Regular campgrounds in the area were more in the $20.00/day range.

However, as with most naturist resorts, everyone was friendly and welcoming.

Charlottetown, PEI

I particularly wanted to see Charlottetown, the birthplace of Canadian Confederation, so, after setting up the tent we headed into the capital of PEI.

I was hoping for an impressive waterfront, but that wasn’t the case. It was difficult finding a parking spot, but when we did find one we grabbed it.

I had always thought that the place where confederation happened was called Confederation Hall, but, apparently, it’s called Province House.

We stopped into a museum near the waterfront to ask for directions and were pointed in the right direction and told to look for “the gray building that’s shaped like a Kleenex box”! Honest to goodness, that’s a quote. And you know what, he was right!

On the second floor of this particularly unimpressive building is the room where confederation happened.

I had hoped for something more impressive to mark the birthplace of my country, but, well, we Canadians in general are kind of low key, anyway – right?

Scenic Drive on Highway 6

Heading back from Charlottetown, we decided to take the scenic drive along Highway 6 expecting to see a lot of ocean and beach, but no such luck.

We got a little lost at one point and ended up heading into a Provincial Park. They wanted a fee, but we told them we just wanted to drive through and they let us proceed. However, we still didn’t get to see much ocean on the drive.

Evening Campfire

People we met at the pool in Oasis invited us to join them at their evening campfire and we were happy to accept.

It was a lovely evening with lots of lively, interesting conversation.

Thanks for inviting us.

A View of the Confederation Bridge

Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far

July 30 ~ Day #81
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$8100
$50.21
$7650.21
$94.44
Miles by Road
Nautical Miles
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Statute Miles
10312+217=10529
3856 [4437]
000
69
15035

Current Location: Cape Tormentine, NB

Today’s Total Expenses: $50.21
Accommodation: $16.95
Food: $33.26

Downtown St. Andrews-By-The-Sea

After packing up we headed off to explore downtown St. Andrews. It was easy walking distance from the campsite. There were shops, boutiques, galleries and restaurants and the downtown area was quaint and well kept.

We wandered through a few shops admiring many items but as we still have a lot of traveling to do, buying anything was simply not in the cards.

However, we did stop into the local Dollar Store (there sure seems to be a lot of dollar stores wherever we go) and we did buy a small sewing kit and a couple of luggage tags that were also Canadian flags for our backpacks.

That helped to satisfy a little of my shopping urge. 🙂

The Reversing Falls, St. John, NB

Back on the road again, we headed into St. John. Along the way we noticed a sign for the Reversing Falls and decided to take a side trip.

Apparently the Reversing Falls used to be called the Reversing Falls Rapids but the general consensus was that the name was just too long, so they went back to calling them just the Reversing Falls.

To my mind, they should actually be called the Reversing Rapids as it really isn’t much of a waterfall.

It all has to do with the tides. At low tide the rapids flow one way, at high tide they flow in the opposite direction and at slack tide they kind of fight each other and just swirl around. To see each effect you’d need to spend the entire day and we just weren’t prepared to do that.

Temperatures

It seems as soon as we crossed over into the maritimes the temperature had difficulty getting much over 70 deg F.

We much prefer high 70s or low 80s so I felt a bit chilly most of the time.

Sorry Canadian friends, I still haven’t mastered the temperatures in Celsius yet, but I’m sure you’re able to convert them.

I think the weather forecast is calling for some sunnier, warmer weather. I sure hope so.

Cape Tormentine, NB

We picked a campground near the Confederation Bridge to spend tonight.

We were able to camp right beside the ocean and had a fantastic view of the Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island, which we will be traveling over tomorrow.

Setting up the tent was a bit interesting as it was pretty windy. Actually, it was interesting for Geoff who does most of the tent set up.

Hey, I help a bit from time to time. I actually think I help the most when I stay out of the way. (wink!)

Into the Canadian Maritimes

Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far

July 29 ~ Day #80
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$8000
$86.40
$7600.00
$95.00
Miles by Road
Nautical Miles
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Statute Miles
10071+241=10312
3856 [4437]
000
69
14818

Current Location: St. Andrews-By-The-Sea, NB

Today’s Total Expenses: $86.40

Transportation: $52.02
Accommodation: $30.00
Food: $4.38

Crossing into New Brunswick

We had thought that we might spent tonight in Maine, but as we neared the New Brunswick border, that area of Maine seemed really sparsely populated and there didn’t seem to be a campsite or hotel that would have suited us.

So, we just continued into New Brunswick crossing at St. Stephen.

New Brunswick Tourism

We immediately stopped into a New Brunswick Tourism office that was located just over the border to ask about campgrounds in the area.

They were very helpful and called a couple of campgrounds for us.

St. Andrews-by-the-Sea

We decided that we would stop at the Kiwanis Oceanfront Campground that was located right on the ocean in St. Andrews-by-the-Sea. Isn’t that a cool name for a town?

They were more expensive than most campgrounds, but that was because of their location. We balked a little at the $30.00 price tag for an unserviced tent lot, but, hey – right by the ocean!

Time Zone Change

We had been expecting a time zone change but weren’t sure where it would happen. I had thought that it might happened while we were still in Maine, but we discovered, at the New Brunswick Tourism office, that it changed as soon as we crossed into New Brunswick.

So, we lost an hour as we entered Canada.

St. Andrews-by-the-Sea

As we drove through downtown St. Andrews, we thought it was lovely and decided, since it was already getting late, that we would check out the downtown area before we leave tomorrow.

So, we set up our tent, spent some time walking by the ocean and settled in for the night.

Visiting with Family

Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far

July 21 ~ Day #72
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$7200
$0.00
$7253.59
$100.74
Miles by Road
Nautical Miles
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Statute Miles
9285
3856 [4437]
000
69
13791

July 23 ~ Day #74
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$7400
$13.12
$7266.71
$98.19
Miles by Road
Nautical Miles
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Statute Miles
9285
3856 [4437]
000
69
13791

July 24 ~ Day #75
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$7500
$37.69
$7304.40
$97.39
Miles by Road
Nautical Miles
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Statute Miles
9285+106=9391
3856 [4437]
000
69
13897

July 26 ~ Day #77
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$7700
$33.12
$7337.52
$95.29
Miles by Road
Nautical Miles
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Statute Miles
9391+58=9449
3856 [4437]
000
69
13955

Current Location: Grimsby, Ontario

Today’s Total Expenses: $56.46

Transportation: $25.00
Food: $32.44

Six Days in One

In this post we are combining six days in one post while staying with my Dad and visiting my two sons and their families.

Enjoying Time with Dad

We arrived around 6pm last night so Wednesday was the first full day we had to spend with Dad.

It’s great to see him and to spend some time with him. The last time we saw him was when he visited us in the Bahamas for a month last November.

Bodies – The Exhibition – Niagara Falls

On Thursday we planned a trip to see “Bodies – The Exhibition – The Science Inside of You” in Niagara Falls.

This is a display of actual human bodies and organs in various types of dissections to show such things as muscles, internal organs, blood vessels and much, much more.

At first we thought we might have difficulty with this type of display. We were afraid it might be a bit gruesome. But, Dad had seen the exhibit before in Vancouver and said it was fascinating.

So, off we sent and we did find the exhibit interesting, educational and fascinating. The human body is truly amazing.

Actually, the only things that we thought were in poor taste were the photo they took of each group, photoshopped in one of the bodies and then offered the photos for sale and the gift shop had such things as a stuffed “Flesh Eating Disease” toy and leg bone swizzle sticks. Sorry, but that kind of thing is just gross!

Discount Shopping

Just around the corner from the exhibit was a discount outlet, so we also stopped in there.

Dad found a lovely bird feeder for his backyard and we got some small propane cylinders for our Coleman stove. The prices were not only good but they also included the taxes in the price. In my opinion, that’s a great way to price things.

Niagara Falls
Then we drove around Niagara Falls for a bit. We have all been to The Falls many, many times so we didn’t stay long as it was, as usual, quite crowded.

Unexpected Dental Work

After getting back it was time for Geoff to head off to the dentist. He had chipped his tooth the day before.

We just picked a dentist from a sign we drove by. I think, perhaps, we should have shopped around a bit.

For just 5 minutes to fix the chip – with no freezing – he was charged $140.44! And, they said they gave him a significant discount. This was just another one of those unexpected expenses that you can’t possibly plan for but have to find some way, on such a long to trip, to allow for such things in your budget.

Canadian Tire

When we were leaving the US we started having a little trouble with the transmission. It was having difficult changing from second to third gear. Having to fix a transmission could easily be a trip ending problem.

As the car needed another oil change, we took it to Canadian Tire and also had them do a road test on the car to evaluate the transmission.

When we picked it up they let us know they couldn’t find anything wrong with the transmission. Good news. Now let’s hope the car behaves. Perhaps it was just a little quirk. Here’s hoping.

Work Day

We decided that Friday needed to be a work day so we did our best to catch up on our posts and other stuff that just goes along with keeping up with life.

Mexican Train Dominos

During this week my Dad also introduced me to a game called Mexican Train Dominos. It’s really a lot of fun.

Try as I might, I have yet to beat him, but I did come close – once!

Visit to My Eldest Son and Family

Saturday we were off to visit my eldest son and his family which includes my grandson, my granddaughter and his lovely fiancé and their new home.

This was the first time we met his fiancé and what a lovely lady she is. She has three children – two boys and girl – who we’ll get to meet tomorrow at a bbq given by my other son and his family. More about that next.

Visit to My Second Son and Family

This son and his fiancé have just purchased a lovely house and are busy making it their home.

I was happy to see them both again as well as my grandchildren. Together they have five kids and only one of them was missing as he was working.

We were also able to meet my eldest’s son’s fiancé’s children and that was a pleasure, too.

All the kids played together amazingly well and enjoyed themselves immensely in the pool at T & F’s new house.

Our Last Day Here

On our last day here we had to take our car back to Canadian Tire because the “check engine” light was on.

They simply wanted too much to check for the reason and we’re sure there really isn’t anything wrong. It has probably just registered a miss-fire like the last time when we had the distributor cap replaced.

We did some more running around and topped off the evening with a lovely spaghetti dinner cooked by my Dad. He’s a wonderful cook and the spaghetti sauce was amazing.

It will be sad to leave tomorrow, but it’s time to get back on the road.

Thanks, Dad! Love you!

Thanks also to T&F and family and T&E and family for welcoming us into their homes. We love you all.

Oh Canada

Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far

July 20 ~ Day #71
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$7100
$40.43
$7253.59
$102.16
Miles by Road
Nautical Miles
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Statute Miles
9003+282=9285
3856 [4437]
000
69
13791

Today’s Total Expenses: $40.43

Transportation: $38.00 (Gas – $35.00, Bridge Toll – $3.00)
Food: $2.43

Current Location: Grimsby, Ontario

Auto Club to the Rescue

Yes, we again had to call the auto club. This is becoming a habit.

It was my fault, really. We have a cooler that plugs into the power outlet in the car and we have been using the power outlet that works even when the car is off.

Apparently, last night, I forgot to unplug the cooler. The instructions say not to leave it plugged in, without the car running, for any more than 4 hours. Well, it was left plugged in all night.

So, needless to say, our battery was totally dead this morning.

Thank goodness for CAA. They showed up quickly, gave our battery a boost and all was well again.

Hopefully I will never again forget to unplug the cooler.

Birch Run Outlet Mall

The last time Geoff and I visited Flint, Michigan (well over 20 years ago) we spent time at an outlet mall.

I mean, how can you be this close to an outlet mall and not go? Come on – work with me on this!

Actually, we were in the market for a couple of backpacks for the European part of our trip so that was all the justification we needed to visit the outlet mall.

The North Face Outlet Store

As luck would have it we parked right near The North Face outlet store and so that was our first stop, knowing that they should have a decent selection of backpacks.

We weren’t disappointed by their selection, but, we were confused. There were so many styles and such a huge price range that we didn’t even know where to start.

Frank Coleman, the selling supervisor for this store, was very helpful and extremely knowledgeable. We told him how we planned to use the backpacks – basically as an easy way to carry our stuff as opposed to regular suitcases. We’re just not diehard hikers. We just want to be able to carry our luggage and still have our hands free.

He showed us several selections and narrowed it down to what was the most suitable.

Geoff got a Crestone 75 (it can hold up to 75 liters of stuff) with a good suspension system that he found very comfortable.

I got a Terra 60 (it can hold up to 60 liters of stuff) with an opti-fit suspension (it can be adjusted to fit short people like me for optimum comfort).

We also discovered that there was a sale on that would give us and additional 25% off the already discounted outlet pricing. It seemed like a no-brainer. Looking at the original pricing for each backpack, we actually got both backpacks for what we could have paid for just one of them.

However, I do believe the clincher was all the time Frank spent with us making sure we got the right backpacks and showing us how to adjust them.

Thanks Frank!

A&W Hamburgers for Lunch

While walking around the mall we picked up some coupons for A&W, so we decided to go there for lunch.

What a mistake. The burgers were horrible! Okay, they were pretty cheap but I do believe they were the worst burgers we have had – ever.

Sorry A&W, I used to love you when I was a teenager but I doubt we’ll ever be back.

Canada Customs and Immigration

After leaving the outlet mall we continued on to Port Huron and back into Canada.

The Canada Customs and Immigration officer was wonderful and welcomed us back to Canada.

We declared our newly purchased backpacks and he just waved us through.

Great to See my Dad Again

We arrived at my Dad’s at about 6pm. He had waited for us to arrive before making supper. He treated us to a terrific stir-fry dinner.

We are so looking forward to spending several days with him as well as seeing kids and grandkids while we’re here.

Northern Ontario to Duluth, Minnesota

Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far

July 12 ~ Day #63
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$6300
$182.12
$6606.74
$104.86
Miles by Road
Nautical Miles
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Statute Miles
7841+323=8164
3856 [4437]
000
69
12670

Current Location: Duluth, Minnesota

Today’s Total Expenses: $182.12

Transportation: $41.00
Accommodation: $46.93
Food: $94.19

Back on the Road

It was tough saying goodbye to my daughter and granddaughters. It was so wonderful spending time with them.

Thanks so much for letting us stay with you. We love you!

Time Zone Change

As we crossed the border from Ontario into Minnesota we went back a time zone to Central Daylight Time, gaining an hour.

The Shores of Lake Superior

This is the first time we’ve traveled the along the US shores of Lake Superior. It was lovely but certainly more populated than Canada.

I do believe, that the Canadian scenery along the shores of Lake Superior is more spectacular – more rugged – more rocks.

The US shores of Lake Superior may have more beaches, though, as we were able to see lots of beaches from the highway.

Gooseberry Falls State Park

One thing the United States does very well is to make their natural areas available to everyone, and, frequently at no charge.

We made what was meant to be a short stop at Gooseberry Falls State Park and ended up spending over an hour exploring and taking pictures.

It was a hot day and there were lots of people there enjoying the water and the hiking trails.

There were also facilities housed in a modern building and lots of information about the state park. There were even nature walks hosted by rangers – also at no charge.

Bravo to the State of Minnesota for making such a lovely spot available to all.

Groceries and Hotel

After a lovely, and not-too-long drive, we stopped to get groceries for the next few days and spent the night in a clean but reasonably priced hotel.