Friday, 19 August 2016
Another Ferry Boondoggle

After our visit to Port Medway we were scheduled to take the 11:00 AM ferry across the Bay of Fundy from Digby to St John.  You are required to arrive one hour before sailing or loose your reservation. Hwy 8 was the most direct route and would take about two hours travel time. Unfortunately, the smoke from a forest fire had closed the route. Hwy 10 became the preferred route.  The GPS was set to find Digby, at exit 13 the GPS said to turn here and head east.  It said to turn one exit too soon. Away we went and eventually found ourselves on Hwy 8 assuming we had passed the blocked road.  We were horrified to find the road blocked and we had to backtrack a considerable distance to get to Hwy 10. Nearing Hwy 101 the limited access road to Digby at 9:45 AM there was still 45 miles to go. At that point we knew we could not arrive by 10:00 AM. We called Bay Ferries and asked what we should do.  They said to come on but we would have to go in the standby line and they could not guarantee we would get on board. The other option was to wait for the 5:30 PM ferry which we would be on for sure. The 5:30 PM ferry would arrive at 7:45 PM. I decided to cancel the ferry, get a $240 refund, and drive some 304 miles around the Bay of Fundy.  We took one shortcut on Hwy 14 which avoiding having to go to Halifax. We arrived in St. John at 5:02 PM before the 5:30 ferry even left Digby. We continue to drive another 70 miles to St Stephen, NB and crossed the border to Calais ME where we are parked at the Calais Motor Inn. The trip was not as much fun as the ferry however we saved time and money. I estimate we spent $58 on gas, and $5.25 on tolls saving overall $175. 

Heading Home

After Calais we headed east on US-2 through the beautiful mountains of Maine, and New Hampshire. To avoid Montreal traffic we rounded the north end of Lake Champlain within a mile of Canada and headed west on US-11 only find the road closed because a bridge was out. It was a long detour that eventually took us to Massena. The road there opened up to a beautiful 4 lane highway but there was a stop light every 1/4 mile and they were almost always red. Apparently you are better off going through town.  We visited friends in Brockville, ON where we used to live. In Dundas ON we picked up the last of the stuff from my sisters estate.  We crossed the boarder to the USA on the Bluewater Bridge at Port Huron. At the Customs & Immigration we were behind a car that was ordered to the office after much discussion between the customs officer and the driver. The officer put a magnetic box on top of the car which I assume tracks the car if the driver tries to escape. Now it was our turn. The officer asked if I was carrying anything and I said "some stuff from my sister's estate". He seemed to be worn out and not the least bit interested in the "stuff" and immediately said go ahead. So much for the beautiful work the law office had done to document everything for customs. We will attend a wedding in St Joseph MI tomorrow and expect to be back in Nashville on Monday.

Posted on 08/19/2016 3:21 PM by Bob Duthie
Friday, 12 August 2016
Sixth and Final Day on Magdalen Islands

Booking Boondoggles

I discovered that I had booked the Magdalen ferry return at the same time (8:00PM) as the PEI ferry to Nova Scotia.  I learned that there is a standby lane on the ferry dock you can wait in and hopefully get on the boat in place of no-shows. We decided to give this a try and left the campsite at 5:30 and drove to the ferry dock where there were 20 cars ahead of us. 18 of them got on. Now we had the whole day to spend before the 8:00PM sailing and I needed to change or cancel the PEI to Nova Scotia ferry.  On the phone they said we could move our reservation to the 9:30AM ferry but there was no way we could get on the 5:00AM ferry. It seems that the ferry company is in chaos over their reservation systems and the need for another ferry. No one on the phone gives the same answer.

The 10 Hour Wait for the Ferry

We took a long walk along a path beside the east side of the city. There were many signs along the path that explained different aspects of life in the Islands. One story was about a man, Auguste de Boardais, who was shipwrecked during a freezing ice storm but managed to be rescued after 4 days. Since gangrene set into his frozen feet, they had to be amputated with a saw and no anesthetic.  The man survived and lived the rest of his life as manager of the telegraph office. At one point on the path there is a dramatic example of the erosion from the waves that undermine the cliffs.  You could look down and see the beach through a small hole at the bottom. There was a Catholic cementary beside the path and one gravestone at the fence. It made me wonder what William Roger Waugh had done to deserve being so islolated from all the other graves. There is a large hill I estimated as 10 stories high beside the ferry docks with a stair way to the top. We both climbed up and got the view over the islands.




Two Ferries to Pictou Nova Scotia

The 8:00PM ferry left the Magdalens on time. I was a tight squeeze to get out of the harbor and we came within 20 feet of the Montreal ferry. We crossed to Souris PEI arriving at 1:00AM. We drove 50 miles to the dock at Wood Islands arriving at 2:00AM. There was no one around but the gate was lit up with a green light. We parked in the lot, got some sleep, and were awaken at 4:00AM. The kind lady that managed the traffic said there was lots of room on the 5:00AM ferry and we could take it without a problem.  We left PEI on a ship that was about 20% full. We crossed Northumberland Strait to Pictou and got to a nearby campground, Harbour Light, at 6:30AM. We had gone 26 hours with little sleep.

Harbour Light Campground

The office opened at 9:00AM so we thought we would have to wait. We got lucky as the park owner, Cameron McDonald, came by and gave us a parking space beside the laundry.  We were to wait until 11:00 AM when the RV in the site we had reserved would leave.  We used some of the time to do a laundry. Can you believe Cameron gave us the coins to put in the machines? That was a first! He wouldn't put it on the bill. The laundry was done by 8:30 AM and Cameron moved us to another vacant site. We then got 2-3 hours of sleep.

Return to Magdalen Trip Start    

Posted on 08/12/2016 1:29 PM by Bob Duthie
Wednesday, 10 August 2016
Fifth Day on Magdalen Islands

Entry Island Cruise

We checked out of the Gross-Cap campground and headed for the Excursions terminal. We paid for our tickets and boarded the boat for Entry Island at 10:00 AM. The boat is about 40 feet long and made of fiberglass. The captain and cruise guide spoke good English and were very nice to us. The captain even helped us get the Trend parked on the dock. Entry Island is 10 miles from the Cap Aux Meules port. We left port at 10:00AM and headed south. The seas were 2-3 ft and the ride was comfortable. The greatest water depth is 55 ft deep but there are many shoals and reefs in the area. Over the years 100's of ships have floundered coming to the Magdalen Islands. Coming in to the harbor and Entry Island is very tricky with strong winds and the need for sharp turns to get into the dock. The harbor is protected with the concrete jacks.


Entry Island Hike

Our first stop was the Chez Brian Josie restaurant where we were too late for breakfast. I settled for a western sandwich and Mavis had fish & ships. We had a great conversation with the staff and locals who were especially interested in the US political scene. The most focal man was born on Entry Island but spent years on the mainland and in the USA. He is now back living on the island and imported a hovercraft from Germany. The thing to do on the island is to climb Big Hill. It is the highest point in the Magdalens at 581 feet.  You walk up hill about 1.5 miles to get to the base of the hill. Then it is very steep and while not so bad to climb up it is a real challenge to come back down.  Several people on the boat went to the top but we stayed at the base. There is an electric fence that keeps the cows from getting to the village and a step stile to safely cross the live wires. On the way to Big Hill you pass by a beautiful old Anglican Church.



Return Cruise

The wind was really blowing on the way back and our tour boat bounced around quite a bit. Our cruise guide was amazing at being able to give her presentation without losing her balance or hanging on to anything. We spent the night at the Barachois campground  in Fatima where we had a great view of the surf and sunset.  

Posted on 08/10/2016 7:14 PM by Bob Duthie
Monday, 8 August 2016
Fourth Day on Magdalen Islands

This morning was the best weather yet on the Islands. There are no bugs, no humidity and no need for heat or AC. The storm had passed, it was sunny, and for the first time there was very little wind. So it was a bad day for kite boarders. I made reservations to take to take a boat trip to Enter Island tomorrow. It is 10 miles by water, about 4 square miles in size, and has the highest point of land in the islands. We had breakfast aboard the Trend and then I set out to walk around the park. As I was leaving a sister RV, a Viva, came by and I caught a photo of two units together. One area of the park is in the woods and has tent campsites for people that want to be out of the wind. There is a laundry building in the park but some people still prefer to hang their laundry on lines and dry with the wind. Going down to the beach the tide was out and I could get close to a niche in the rocks with an artemisia (mugwort) plant growing there. I washed the salt spray off the windows and spent the rest of the day reading Ann of Green Gables and relaxing. There is no TV here at all and we have to use the Internet sparingly to avoid big penalties from Verizon. However, the Internet does work very well to my surprise. There are several very tall towers. The wildlife is mostly cormorants.

Posted on 08/08/2016 7:03 AM by Bob Duthie
Sunday, 7 August 2016
Third Day on Magdalen Islands

Ferry Schedule Mixup

Today I decided to check our return schedule to Nova Scotia. It seems I booked the ferry to Souris PEI at the same hour as the ferry from PEI to Nova Scotia. The ideal change was to take an earlier ferry to Souris but there were no available reservations. This meant staying another night at the Gros-Cap RV park.  They have no sites with power available. We can either find another park or just spend the night in the ferry parking lot. We were able to get a site at another park so we don't need to spend a night in the ferry parking lot. I have requested the 8:00 PM ferry to Nova Scotia be delayed to the next day at 8:00 AM. If that doesn't work we will cancel the Nova Scotia ferry and go by the PEI to New Brunswick Bridge.

It Helps to Have a Guidebook

Today we did something we should have done when we arrived on the island. We went to the Visitor Center at the ferry dock and got a guidebook in English. It has the maps we need to find our way around the islands. Near the Visitor Center is a view point on top of a hill with a staircase to the top. Mavis climbed right to the top while I went up to the first platform. (see photos). After the climb using the guidebook we headed north on Hwy 199 and covered 4 different islands over a distance of 37 miles. The roads on the islands range very from very good to terrible. They are always paved but the cold winters play havoc with the surface. The roads in town are the roughest. The roads are lined with power poles on both sides so it's had to get good photos without wires. Grosse-Ile has an underground salt mine owned by K&S Windsor. There are miles of dunes beside the road.


La Salicorne

Our final stop was Grande Entrée where the visitor center lady had advised us to have dinner at La Salicorne. This is a hotel, restaurant, and interpretive center on seals. We got there at 5:00 PM and were advised that the dining room opened at 6:00PM. We were further advised that unless we had a reservation we couldn't sit near the windows or order from their special menu.  That was fine with us. We ordered the seal sausage appetizer so we could say we had eaten seal. It apparently tastes like liver. Mavis ordered the lobster roli and I ordered a sea food medley. Both were very good. Our waitress never did deliver the seal sausage or the beer I had ordered. We skipped desert and coffee and left at 7:10 PM.  We got back as the sun was setting just before the rain and thunder began.

Posted on 08/07/2016 11:49 AM by Bob Duthie
Friday, 5 August 2016
Magdalen Islands Arrival

The Ferry Ride

The departure at 2:00AM didn't happen due to some kind of engine problem. We finally left at 4:00AM after 14 hours in the parking lot listening to the racket from the transport trucks. We watched a long DVD movie and then tried to sleep with little success. I used my hand held GPS to measure our speed and see our position on its chart plotter.  I could tell the captain was trying to make-up for lost time as we were making 20 mph. As soon as the ship left Souris they turned off the cabin lights we had to search for seats that had enough light so we could read and a window ledge for the GPS so it could see the satellites. Mavis makes fun of me for reading the kids book "Anne of Green Gables" but it is quite interesting. The sun came up at 5:00. By 6:00 we could see ahead the first of the Magdalens, Ile de Entrée (Entry Island).  It is a rocky island with high cliffs and is not connected to the other islands. The ship's cafeteria opened at 7:00 AM and served disapointing coffee with bacon and eggs. We docked at 8:00AM and drove to our camp site, Parc de Gros-Cap. It is on a peninsula with water on three sides. There are few trees on the island and the wind blows all day long. I clocked it this morning at 15.8 mph.

Parc de Gros-Cap

We managed to sleep for about 1.5 hours and then walked all around the very scenic campsite. This place is very popular with kite boarders since there is always wind and the water is shallow. In the photo our unit is 4th from the right. Our site faces west and the kite boarding area. At one point I counted 13 kites.  The black semi-circles are the kites and the splash in the water is the rider and board. The park warden at Greenwich National Park told us the island is just like PEI but flatter with no trees. He is wrong there are trees but they are stunted from the wind. The red cliffs are sandstone and everywhere.




Posted on 08/05/2016 11:44 AM by Bob Duthie
Wednesday, 3 August 2016
Prince Edward Island (PEI)

We arrived on the Island after driving 4.5 days and 1,900 miles.  The first challenge was to find the Cornwall/Charlottetown KOA.  The address was in the GPS but not the name. There were 3 listings with same address and the one I picked was on a dirt road and no KOA in sight. I called them on the phone and after much discussion I was told they were another hour and half drive away. The next mistake I made was to arrive on Civic Holiday so the park was jammed with RVs and kids. They did have the space I had booked.

St. Stephen, NB

Much of the drive here was on I-80. It is in beautiful condition and easy to drive with its 65 mph speed limit. I was also amazed at how few cars exceeded the speed limit. From Scranton to Maine you are on 81, 84, 295 around Boston, and then 95 through Maine. Of course 295 was bumper to bumper for at least an hour. We crossed the border at St. Stephen, NB. My father lived here while in high school. My grandfather was the Bank of Montreal manager and the family lived in the upstairs rooms of the home on the right. My father was a friend of Whidden Ganong who ran a famous chocolate company named after his father which is still going strong under David Ganong. The building on the left. We had a tour of a museum there with all the free candy you can eat.

Touring the Island

After doing the laundry in downtown Charlottetown we had fish and chips at the Brit Fish & Chips Restaurant. If you order one fish you get two large strips not one.  They were very good but too much to eat. From downtown we drove north to the #1 attraction in the province, the House of Green Gables. It became famous because of a novel with the same name written by a young girl, Maud Montgomery, in 1908. It is well worth a visit to learn about life in the early 20th century. We cancelled our second day at the KOA and stayed in a beautiful town park at St. Peter's. Today, we went a short distance to Greenwich National Park and learned in the interpretive center that 12,000 years ago this area was covered by ice as in the photo.  PEI was not an island but connected to the mainland. As the ice melted the water level rose and PEI became an island. Then we walked 4.5 km (2.7 miles) round trip to the sand dunes and beach on the Gulf of St. Lawrence. There is a very long floating board walk on the way to the beach.






Its 85 miles by water to the Maggies (local term for Magdalen Islands). We are now in the parking lot for the ferry which leaves at 2:00 AM and arrives at 8:00 AM.

Posted on 08/03/2016 7:59 PM by Bob Duthie
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