Thursday, June 30, 2011
We're up early again this morning. These Canadian National Parks are great because a lot of the camp sites have electrical hookups unlike our U.S. Parks. So, this morning, Ed and I can once again grind our coffee beans fresh and make coffee in my coffee maker.
Today, we've decided to do some hiking in Fundy National Park...so...consulting our Park map, we pick out the "Coastal Trail", which looks like it runs along the ocean.
It is a difficult hike...the first half mile or so consists of a series of steep switchbacks to get us from ground level to the top of a high ridge. The next mile or mile and a half is a gradual climb further up the ridge. After two or two and a half miles, we turn around and head back down the tail...much easier since it's all downhill. We both feel great after this hike...we're in better physical shape than we thought. I, for one, started going to the Health Club (Bally) when I returned from Florida in February. I went an average of five days a week...walking the track, getting in three or four miles on the treadmill, and working on my upper body strength for lifting. All this work has paid off now that I'm hiking for real.
After our hike, we run into a nice French lady from Quebec who is looking for directions to one of the falls in the Park. Ed and I decide to take that hike as well...a short drive and an even shorter walk to a small waterfall.
All of this hiking has made us hungry, so we head back to camp for ham sandwiches, chips and Gatorade. After lunch, we've got housekeeping...clean out the coolers, reorganize the Escape, etc.
Around 3:00PM, we head back into Alma for a few beers at the local hotel/pub...along with more great conversation with the owners and some friendly locals.
On the way back to camp, I make a last stop at Butland's for another 2 1/2 pound lobster. Another grat dinner followed by a successful campfire. Off to bed early...tomorrow we head for Prince Edward Island (PEI)!
Another great night's sleep...there's just something about the outdoors that makes for comfortable sleeping.
We want to hike the Hopewell Rocks, but low tide isn't until mid-afternoon...so we spend some time "housekeeping". That means cleaning out the coolers, reorganizing the camper and repacking the Escape. All that work makes for a healthy appetite, so Ed and I make some super-duper ham sandwiches for lunch...very good.
After lunch, we head out to Hopewell Rocks for a hike. There's an admission charge ($9.00), but that's no problem. We head down a long trail that borders the cliffs on the coastline...occasionally hiking down to various viewing platforms to take photographs. A mile or so down the trail, we head down a steep path right to the coastline...then down several long flights of steps to the shore. Now, we're standing on the ocean floor amid some huge rock formations that have been exposed by the low tide. It's a very impressive experience...walking among the rocks. After an hour or two of hiking around and taking photos, we head back up the trail and, eventually, back to the parking lot.
Now we're on our way back to the Park...but not without another stop at the Parkview bar for a few beers with the locals and the great owners, Karen and Dave. The beers are cold, the welcome warm and the conversation stimulating. Karen and Dave's son knows the head Ranger at Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland, and he agrees to send word so that we get a great experience there. Canadian Customs Officers excepted, the people here are wonderful...friendly, welcoming, open...I can't speak highly enough of the people.
Many beers later, we're on our way back to our camp...but not without another stop at Butland's for lobster...this time a cold, cooked one. Back at camp, we enjoy a few more of our "expensive" cocktails. Ed cooks up a batch of Tandoori chicken, and I turn my cold lobster into a lobster salad...onion, celery, mayo, salt, pepper, and a little paprika...excellent.
There is, however, a small problem with the Tandoori. I have the grill stored in a storage container with the lid inverted inside to save space. I'm concentrating on the lobster salad, so I don't notice that Ed has started the grill with the coals inside the lid instead of the bottom part. The resulting chicken has an "off" taste, produced no doubt by the melted handle of the lid. We're calling it "polyethylene" chicken...a new recipe!
Another great day!
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
It's been nice to sleep in a real bed...and I take another shower this morning...nic!
By 10:00AM, Ed and I are out of the cabin and over to Fundy National Park. We get a great site that has both water and electricity. Once we set up camp, we head out for a drive along the coast.
Cape Enrage is a beautiful bluff on the Bay of Fundy...great views. Then on to Hopewell Rocks where, at low tide, you can walk on the floor of the ocean...we don't linger today because we'll be back tomorrow to hike.
Heading back to camp, we stop in Alma for a cocktail at the Parkland Village Inn...a friendly spot with Stella on tap. It's a chance to talk with a few of the locals (nice people) as well as the owners (who spend their winters in Clearwater, Fl). On the way out of Alma, I'm making my obligatory stop at Butland's Lobster Pond for a 2 1/2 pounder.
A few Margaritas later, my lobster is boiling away and Ed is heating up the leftover chili...all of which we wash down with a bottle of Elk Cove Pinot Gris.
All in all...a good day.
Ed's Sidebar, Day 11:
Flurries last night?!
It's nearly July.
Go north, young man, said someone
because New Brunswick awaits the hardy
with its rivers of gold, palm trees, cardamom, peppers.
In deep woods I wake to thunder, to lightning and rain. That pounding on the roof is not chipmunks after all. It is...five a.m. At last the storm slackens. One bird still sings on the far branch. I can hear it.
There is a porcupine roadkill on scenic Coastal Route 1. No vultures yet, but then it is raining like a Flanders November. As we drive, the raindrops rush up our windshield's slope, twisting, wriggling, disappearing into the crossfire of automatic wipers.
The headless clouds of revolution lie all around us, thick as fog. There are no aristocrats left in this land of New Brunswick.
When Customs officials emptied our car at the St. Stephen crossing into Canada, it was as if someone said 'bless you!', but nobody sneezed.
You've heard of a frozen TV dinner, said Bill, well we're having dinner with a frozen TV...That is to say our cabin's satellite TV image is dead-stone pixilated in stormy Alma; but, with clouds scudding the ridges above Chignecto Bay, and a horse shivering in his corral outside the window, we will eat lobster and chili in a fruitless gesture to unite cultures, the sea-spider and the steer.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
We're on the road to Canada after packing up camp in the rain...a driving rain with overcast skies. Still, we're off ahead of schedule driving up along the coast of Maine.
Around 10:00AM, we're in Calais, Maine...gassing up in the U.S. and switching my cell phone plan to Canada. Everything is going great...no hint of the impending doom awaiting us.
At the Canadian border, the Customs agent asks if we're carrying any alcohol and tobacco...I reply, "Yes", and start listing our cargo...eight bottles of liquor, thirty bottles of wine. At that, he rolls his eyes and tells us to pull over to the Customs office. Two young ladies start asking us about the "cargo", and I continue to lay it out...liquor, wine Margarita Mix (with Tequila), etc. The two young ladies appear incredulous at the fact that two people could be carrying so much. They keep telling us how expensive the duties and fees are going to be.
My philosophy in these situations is to constantly reassure the authorities that a) I understand and accept completely the "state's" authority to regulate imports and assess fees and b) I understand and accept completely my obligation to pay the fees and duties. So...I keep telling them to "total things up" and I'll be happy to pay. But, after two hours or so, I realize that these "reassurances" are being interpreted as "arrogance"...that we're trying to "buy our way out" of the situation. We're there for over three hours while they completely unload the Escape and the camper. We're questioned over and over on where we have lived, what we do for a living, why we are coming into Canada, etc. There is much discussion between the two female agents, much looking at the regulations, much use of a calculator. It is clear that they have some deep moral objection to alcohol.
Then comes the "bad news". Because we did not declare a few cans of beer and because we declared thirty bottles of wine but actually have only twenty-eight, we have made a "false Customs Declaration". The penalty for this is confiscation of the goods, but they are going to "go easy" and let us off with a warning. I protest this because we never had a chance to finish our declaration...we were "cut off" in mid-sentence...and...having declared the liquor and wine, why would we be trying to "hide" a few cans of beer? I also know that this "warning" will go into the "system", and I'll get searched every single time that I cross the border...like next year on the way to Alaska.
My protests are to no avail...and the worst news is yet to come. The duty on all this is a modest $20.00 or so, but New Brunswick has very "Draconian" fees...180% fee on liquor and 150% on wine. Then...they present us with the total amount owed...
You'll want to be sitting down for this...$463.00 (Canadian).
We pay and, around, 1:30 or 2:00, we're back on the road. The rain continues to pour, and we are several hundred miles from Kouchibouguac National Park...our destination. So, we make an "executive decision" to skip Kouchibouguac and head straight for Fundy National Park...only 150 miles or so. We also decide to book a cabin in the town of Alma, outside the Park, and avoid the unpleasant task of setting up camp in a driving rain.
In Alma, I pick up a three pound lobster...a beauty! And, safely settled in to our cabin, we relax with a cocktail (a very expensive cocktail at this point). I boil my lobster, and Ed makes chili. We each get to shower and change clothes...and...we each get to sleep in a "real" bed.
A rough day, but a much smoother night.
Ed's Sidebar, Days 9,10:
Driving from Boothbay to Bar Harbor, I forget
about churches' tax status,
about miles that need recording, about hours of gasoline.
I forget the demand for information, the supply of detail.
I forget the ways of the sun, except to say
my moon is a model citizen of the world.
A general rule of camping:
you will lose everything at least once.
Today we mount an expedition to the showers. Our plan is in place:
1. Replace reading glasses, dispose of errant bat.
2. Locate map of Park.
3. Get in car, bring towel.
4. This plan will fail.
5. Tomorrow is another day.
The last warm shower here was 18,000 years ago. I think delirium is setting in.
Garbed in two shirts, a T-shirt and jacket, wearing jockey shorts, boxer shorts and warmup pants, I put on my ski cap and hiking socks to climb into my sleeping bag. My fingers curl in the chill as I write this. I feel we may not reach The Pole, Roald.
That rain that we were expecting last night? Well...it started around 3:00AM, and it's still raining when Ed and I are up around 8:00AM. Hiking in this kind of weather is not an option...so...we decide to spend the day in Bar Harbor.
Bar Harbor is a tourist town, but it's not nearly as "tacky" as we expected. At one shop, I'm able to get an Acadia National Park sticker for the camper; at another, a t-shirt and ball cap with the Park logo.
Ed and I settle into a place called "Geddy"s" for cocktails, then stay for lunch because they have WiFi. It's another double cheese pizza for lunch, but Ed opts for Gumbo. We're able to post a little on the blog until their Internet connection shuts down late in the afternoon.
Back at camp, the rain has stopped, but it's still cold and damp. We "cobble" together something simple for dinner and build a roaring fire to ward off the elements. It's an early night...tomorrow, we're off to Canada!
Ed's Sidebar, Day 10:
The energy gauge settles toward zero. Could use a good baseball game on TV. Need to find a TV first.
Many tents around Bar Harbor. Looks like an Indian village in the woods. People of all ages walking in circles, tent to tent. Primitive. Even in frigid Maine, we find some clues to the Stonehenge mystery.
Define the term 'lobster': one gigantic mutation later adapted for Japanese horror flicks.
Foraged today for firewood and provisions. Cold front continues. Discontent grows in our party. We talk of turning south along the Appalachian Trail. Likelihood of scurvy increases daily.
Friday, June 24, 2011
Well...that front came through last night around midnight...I know that because the sound of rain on the tent woke me up out of a sound sleep.
Ed and I are both up early, but it's mighty wet. So...we head off to Boothbay Harbor for coffee and shelter. The Moosehead has great coffee and, as a bonus, WiFi. We drink a cup or two, post a few blog entries, and have a breakfast sandwich while waiting for the rain to clear.
By 10:30 or so, there's a brief "lull" so we head back to camp to pack up for the trip to Acadia National Park. By 11:30, we're rolling out of Boothbay and following the coast north. It's a pretty drive with lots of great ocean scenery. Late in the afternoon, we stop at an information center for the park to check on camping availability. The best campground is Blackwoods, and they only have a handful of sights left...so off we speed. The Ranger at the campground is originally from Michigan, so we get treated well...and we get a great campsite...close to restrooms, but not TOO close. Setting up the tent and the rest of our camp is a breeze, as Ed and I are developing a good process for this.
After setting up camp, Ed and backtrack off the island to find a lobster for dinner...I get a nice one that weighs in at close to three pounds. Then...back to camp for cocktails and dinner. It's still cloudy and overcast, but at least no rain. It is, however COLD...we think it might even be in the 40's. So...we bundle up...flannel-lined pants, long-sleeve shirts, heavier socks, ski caps...and it's still chilly.
After dinner, we stay up for awhile talking and writing things down to remember for blog posts, but I'm freezing.
I'm in bed by 10:00...Ed stays up for awhile longer, but I'm "out like a light".
Ed and I are up pretty early this morning for fresh brewed coffee at our campsite. After some camp "maintenance", we decide to head over one town to New Harbor for lunch at Shaw's...a great place right on the water for "lobster in the rough". Ed gets a chicken salad sandwich, and I opt for the twin 1 1/2 lb. lobster dinner. We eat right out on the dock, surrounded by the water, fishing boats coming in and out, etc. It's a nice experience, and the lobsters are delicious!
After lunch, we head into the town of Boothbay Harbor for cocktails and some sightseeing. They are having a "Schooner Festival" of masted ships in the harbor, and the town is absolutely packed with tourists. It takes us a good forty-five minutes to find a parking space ($3.00) after turning down an offer to park at $30.00. The ships are cool, and the drinks are good at one of my old "hangouts", McSeagulls. For some reason, the locals as well as the tourists are not particularly talkative today...so...several beers later, we head back to camp.
For dinner, we grill a few pork chops marinated in "Dale's" along with some stir-fried vegetables...a good dinner. We've picked up some firewood, so we have a nice fire as the sun goes down...and the sky clouds up. There's a big front moving in, and we expect rain sometime during the night.
Ed's Sidebar, Day 8:
Attempts to communicate with the natives failed today. Offered much wampum, no results.
I recommend the BLT sandwich at Shaw's lobster restaurant in Boothbay Harbor. It is said to be made from a rare marsh-dwelling baconfish found only in these parts.
Slept well enough at Boothbay despite the pitchforks and torches of the townsfolk.
Love is the high clouds and a feasible sun
Love is a toilet that works.
Love is your frosty breath near July's last standard deviation from the norm.
Most of all, love
in the land of rain with its moth flickering in battery light
--is that kiss in the neighboring tent.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Our destination today is Boothbay Harbor, Maine (a favorite vacation spot of mine for almost thirty years) but, first, we're making an eighteen-mile "foray" into Vermont for a cocktail and, maybe, lunch. The first town that we reach in Vermont is St. Johnsberry...small and quaint. The local tavern/pool hall is closed, but we find a little Italian restaurant and settle in for a glass of wine. The smell of sauteed garlic and simmering tomato sauce suggests lunch, so we order a pizza...double cheese and pepperoni. The "double cheese" part is my idea...it's part of a top-secret operation called "The Lipid Project", the purpose of which is to raise Ed's body weight by twenty pounds and his cholesterol level by one hundred points.
The pizza is surprisingly good...better than anything we'd get at home.
After lunch, we're back on the road to Maine. We're following the route chosen by our Garmin GPS, but it's taking us on some pretty "obscure" roads...more than once, we turn down a road (in the loosest sense of the term), and Ed and I look at one another and say: "No way!". Still, we are moving in the right direction and, around 6:00PM, we arrive at the campground in Boothbay. This comes after a quick stop at the local seafood market to pick up a two pound lobster for dinner (this puts the "claw count" at 7 and the "pound count" at 8.
We've got a nice campsite in the woods, and I'm excited that I was able to back the camper in the site with little trouble. After setting up camp, it's time for a few cocktails before dinner...vegetable stir-fry for Ed and lobster for me.
Ed and I are both tired, but we knock back a couple of beers after dinner, and stay up telling old stories, jokes, etc. It's been a good day, and a great night's sleep awaits.
Ed's Day 7 Sidebar:
A tectonic racial tension exists
between the Green Mountains of Vermont
and the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
It has been this way as long as anyone remembers.
Southern Maine has the Apostolic Church of Christ. It has the Jesus Apostolic Congregation, the Seventh Day Adventist, the St. James Episcopal. It has the Christian Bookstore, a great gift for Dads. It has Church of Christ the Savior, Christ the Redeemer, Christ
it has just about everything.
"Save me, Jesus!" I mouth.
It even has Sgt Pepper's Apostolic Universal Congregation of the World.
It offers a real mystery tour.
Our Lady of the Box, who tells us when to turn
In two hundred feet we make a U-Turn.
Recalculating, she warns.
We love when that happens.
I dreamed of New England. The waiter brought us a double-cheese pizza the size of Wisconsin.
I don't care if you hand-tossed it
from Boothbay to Boston,
I just can't eat another slice of double-cheese pizza.
This morning, we're up early and breaking camp. Ed wants to knock a few states off of his "bucket list", so we're driving twenty-five miles or so south to Rhode Island for a brief stop and, perhaps, a cocktail.
Entering East Providence, Rhode Island, we see a little spot called the Town Pub and pull right in. Two guys from inside the bar immediately come out into the parking lot, and I figure they're getting ready to tell us that we can't park there. But, no, they're interested in the camper and the solar panel...and...soon, half of the patrons are out in the parking lot checking things out. Inside, we're introduced to all of the people by name and occupation...construction, psychologist, postal service, etc.
It's a very friendly place with very nice people...a lucky find. People want to buy Ed and I some beers, but we haven't had anything to eat, and we've got a lunch stop to make in Ipswich.
The drive to Ipswich is pretty uneventful and, around 1:00PM, we're pulling into the parking lot of the Clam Box for what are, arguably, the best fried clams in New England. As always, the Clam Box does not disappoint...the clams are excellent.
After lunch, we're back on the road and heading to the White Mountains in the northwest corner of New Hampshire...it's a pretty drive, and the mountains are impressive. Around 6:00PM, we arrive at a KOA campground set up in the mountains and next to a river. The staff is friendly and helps me back the camper into our site.
All that driving calls for a few cocktails while we prep for dinner...tonight it's chicken in a spicy Koran stir-fry with Indonesian noodles...excellent. A few glasses of wine with and after dinner...it's early to bed...lulled to sleep by the sound of the river flowing next to our camp.
Ed's Day 5 & 6 Sidebar:
Boston will let you know where you stand if you are an idiot abroad.
Draft beer in Rhode Island, two for three bucks.
Tank of gas for Vermont, forty bucks.
Sleeping on the ground in New Hampshire
on a cold June night, priceless.
Chipmunks everywhere, or maybe they are squirrels.
Ravens the size of cats are not afraid of cars.
They are waiting for cars, in fact,
There are stars the size of diamonds here,
and twice as many.
Fighting with moths
is like gladiator training--
God damn annoying.
to the Ammonoosuc River
listening to the rapids,
hearing the teacher.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Ed and I are both early risers so, around 6:00, we're both up and about. Ed slept well in the camper, and I had an equally good night in the tent (thanks to a good sleeping pad, and a great sleeping bag.
We've got electricity here, so we grind the coffee beans and brew up a fresh pot. Then some camp clean up, trash disposal...showers, shave.
At around 10:00, we're off to Quincy to park and take the MBTA train into Boston. We're heading to Boston's "North End"...rich in history...and...home to some of Boston's best Italian restaurants. At 11:30, we're seated in Pizzeria Regina...I have had the pleasure of eating at a number of Boston's best spots for pizza, and this place is my favorite. As always, Pizzeria Regina does not disappoint...chewy/crispy crust, tangy sauce, rich cheese...paired with a glass of Nero d'Avola, it's perfect. Add to this a cute, friendly and very competent waitress, and you've got a great dining experience.
After lunch, it's time for history...a visit to the home of Paul Revere, The Old North Church ("One if by land, two if by sea"). OK...all this "history" has made us thirsty, so we make several stops for wine to replenish our bodies as well as our spirits.
I, however, am now thinking of a different form of replenishment...I can not be in the Boston area without another stop at Toscanini's for ice cream. So...off we go to Cambridge. The menu of flavors is completely different from my last visit on Friday...so...today, it's Burnt Caramel, Belgian Chocolate Rum and Indian Kulfi...all fabulous...fully justifying their lace as #3 on my list of the best.
Then...back to Boston ib search of the original home of Benjamin Franklin. Good luck finding that...Ed and I searched for an hour without success. All that searching produced a great thirst...so...a stop at Kennedy's Irish Pub for a few pints before heading back to camp. "Pride goeth before a fall"...having seamlessly navigated the train system, I made a mistake, putting us on the wrong train. No problem...backtrack three stations, get on the right train, and head home.
We're now back in camp. Simple (really) dinner tonight...hot dogs, corn on the cob...a few Heinekens...nice.
Okay, here's the real story. Day 1, 2, 3: Bill goes to Boston, eats a lobster. Day 4: Ed goes to Boston, story follows:
The Flight North:
starboard Atlantic scene with small boy
stands on mother's lap, head on swivel,
a periscope over the wavetops of the seats,
portholes filling with clouds.
dude goes all in black
black hair, scalp buzzed with
black pork chops
for sideburns, black mohawk crest
is swept forward between his eyes, and
black disk earrings, eyebrow pierced silver,
black turkish balloon pants,
black jacket on which white ribs
printed with vertebrae
like something out of the Bronze Age.
Only thing missing is a toy black shield.
And then, how attractive
is a woman in a simple white cotton dress?]
Bill & Ed's Excellent Adventure...Day 4...Saturday, June 18, 2011...Bruins Celebration/Ed From the Airport
This morning, well over a million hockey fans are pouring into Boston to celebrate the Bruins Stanley Cup win...this morning also happens to be when I have to pick up Ed at the airport. I've spent some time considering the options and decided that using public transportation is the way to go...that way, I avoid the crowds and Ed and I can spend some time in the city before heading to camp. By the time that I leave at 9:30AM to meet Ed's 11:30 plane, ALL of the train stations out here have been closed...parking is full and there are just too many people.
So...I'm off to the airport by car (or SUV). The traffic to the airport is surprisingly light, and Ed's plane is in early. By 11:4, we're on our way to our camp in Plymouth...opting to skip the crowds today and visit the city tomorrow. On the way to Plymouth, we stop for lunch and supplies.
At camp, we set up the tent and review my packing scheme so that each of us knows where things are located...sort of. After all of this effort, we are both thirsty, so we commence "cocktail hour" around 4:00. For dinner, Ed makes up a batch of Chicken Korma (delicious!) while I handle the rice. It's a great dinner...a fitting way to kick off the "Bill and Ed" part of Bill and Ed's Excellent Adventure.
After dinner, it's more cocktails (of course), lots of old stories and jokes until around 10:00...then Ed's off to spend his first night in the camper and I'm in a tent for the first time in over a year.