Friday, September 23, 2016

Back in he U.S.A.

Question to ponder: When did the United States of America change from plural to singular?

Know that they did a thorough
inspection of GrandpaLyle's Ark
before allowing it to reenter the U.S.
Entering the U.S. at a remote point with minimal traffic seemed like a good idea – a charming experience with the same low key approach to life I'd been enjoying for the past six weeks in Canada. Not so. The staff has way too much time on their hands – time that easily leads to mischief. As I drove up to the gate, the officer immediately told me to turn off the engine – not a good sign.

As expected, he "asked" me for my passport. Even this is annoying when you consider that I'm crossing a border that used to require nothing more than a driver's license. In modern Europe you don't even slow down from autobahn speed to go from one country to the next.

Next the agent started asking questions. Lots of them. He must have found the opening he sought because next he excused himself to round up his colleagues. As they surrounded the Ark he asked me to step outside. I hoped they had been trained in the use of the sidearms on their hips. One took me around back to inspect the firewood. Meanwhile the other four helped themselves to a look around inside – not an inspection – just a gander. Only twice has anyone ever asked if they could see the inside my RV – both at border crossings – both by "officers of the law." Sure glad I made my bed this morning.

Looks are deceiving. Riverside Take-Out
served me some of the best food on the trip.
The day's drive took me downeast to the Maine coast. Dinner was at Riverside Take-Out, an unpretentious roadside stand in Machias, Maine. Wow. Great lobster roll – simple, but great. Plus a scoop of blueberry ice cream that tasted like a sundae made with fresh Maine blueberries. Could hardly believe my tongue.

The Abegweit
Ice-breaker/rail ferry for 35 years between PEI and the mainland.
Now serving Chicago as Columbia Yacht Club.
While I savored dinner at a picnic table in the parking area, Penny from Re Find Furniture next door came by to check out the Ark and chat about it. Then she invited me to see the store. Of course I accepted. While chatting with Penny and Kim (the owner) about the Maritimes, I asked if they had heard of the Abegweit. Kim remembered riding on it as a child. The Abegweit spent her (the Abby's) first 35 years as an ice-breaker/railroad-ferry connecting PEI and the mainland. Since then she has spent 35 years as a prominent feature of Chicago's lakefront, where she's the clubhouse for Columbia Yacht Club. I love discovering what a small world this really is.

By this time all I wanted was a place to sleep. I wish I had thought to ask Kim and Penny if I could just boondock in their parking area. Another hour found me at a lovely out-of-the-way place on the bay. While setting up I had a tough time leveling the Ark – one of the jacks wouldn't work. Got out to check. A tire had a hole that you could put your fist through. Ugh. A few phone calls revealed I was too late reach anyone. Story will have to wait 'til tomorrow.

Back in the U.S.A.
Odometer: 92,774
Miles today: 137
Location: Steuben, ME
Facility: Mainayr Campground

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Low bridge, everybody down.

Last night I must have been completely fried. I paid for two nights when I really wanted to move on in the morning. After unnecessarily anguishing all night I stopped at the office. The proprietor at Wishing Start Campground in Shediac, NB, noted that I looked refreshed . . . then, as nicely as could be, gave me full credit for the second night. (Not all places will do this.) When I checked in, I must have looked as bad as I felt. Very nice.

Followed the Acadian Coastal Drive in Eastern New Brunswick as closely as possible. Gypsy (or as Scott would call her, the Navabitch) kept trying to take me back twenty kilometers so I would go her way. I should have listened – she was guiding me away from bridges with clearance and weight limitations that would scalp the Ark and possibly send me for an icy swim. Thank goodness they were well marked. And thank goodness for the Convert Free app – the signs were all in metric.

Best and worse on the evening's hike: Worst – for the first time the mosquitos got to me. Best – the sunset was, well, look at the pictures.

Nice trail for evening hike
Gobs of birds feeding in the sand (mud)

And, of course, the sunset itself
– complete with jets racing across the sky

160916 - Low bridge, everybody down
Odometer: 92,038
Miles today: 84
Location: Kouchibouguac, NB 
Facility: Kouchibouguad National Park Campground

Monday, September 12, 2016

What's in North Cape, PEI?

Although it was going to add a couple extra driving hours, I decided to stop at North Cape, PEI. Doing so would mean I hit all four corners of the island and I was promised a look at a fascinating house made from glass bottles. Not sure it would be worth it, but I have plenty of time – why not?!

North Cape is at the extremity
of Prince Edward Island
Seems as though North Cape has such consistently high winds that not only does it host a wind farm, it’s become a center for research on wind as a renewable energy source. 

They even have a wind museum. Outside on the grounds were the components of a wind turbine. A single blade that's more than 130 feet long. And a nacelle with openings for the blades tall enough for me to walk through without ducking. This stuff looks a lot bigger on the ground than it does at the top of a 200 foot tower!

Inside I was disappointed to discover that the "museum" was buried in the back of a gift shop.

Surprise! A self guided tour took me back to Chinese windmills thousands of years ago and its migration to the west. I learned that in the Netherlands they used windmills to pump water into canals from areas below sea level. Land that had been underwater became farms. And I learned that the blades were attached to a dome that rotated atop the eight-sided mill so they would always face the wind. And a host of other fascinating but probably useless information.

All this in a corner of the world so remote that only by deliberately driving to the end of the world – or at least to the end of Prince Edward Island – could I see it.

Oh, and by the way, I never found the glass bottle house.

P.S. Renewable energy idea: Place windmills wherever politicians gather. Transform that unlimited wind into something useful. 

160912-What's in North Cape, PEI
Odometer: 91,819
Miles today: 126
Location: West Point, PEI
Facility: Cedar Dunes Provincial Park