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Old 06-17-2016, 06:53 PM   #11
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Old 06-17-2016, 07:29 PM   #12
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We did Acadia last year but went a little too early (beginning of April) and most of the park was still closed to vehicles but you could hike everything- so we did. Have fun and safe travels!
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Old 06-17-2016, 10:52 PM   #13
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We'll be hitting Maine in October without a van unfortunately. We'll be flying into Burlington, VT & we'll check out that for a week or so & then we'll drive to Acadia National Park for another five days. I'd be interested to hear of your trip & things you found worthwhile to see. I have a guide book and a trail map & there looks to be a lot to do there.


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Old 06-17-2016, 11:16 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianW View Post
Thanks for the video, Len! Looks nice.

Unfortunately, we only have a week, so have to just hit a few highlights this go-round. I'm sure we'll be back. It's funny: we've driven to Alaska twice, cross-country twice, been to Europe probably 15-20 times, but have never driven up to the Maritimes and we're only a day or so away!

@CTB, my wife is really keen on PEI for some reason. I could happily skip it, as I've also heard that it's very touristy.

For adventure roads here in the East, I've always been interested in these two Canadian highways that get pretty remote:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans-Labrador_Highway
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans-Taiga_Road
Yes, keeping the wife's plans priority are priority!! All the people we ran into were very, very friendly and glad to talk and help...have fun and post this pics!!
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Old 05-31-2017, 09:08 PM   #15
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Updating this thread from my trip last year with more info, since it seems several members are heading to the same areas this summer. Maybe some of this info will help.

People have been asking for more trip reports, so here you go! :-) Installments to follow...
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Old 05-31-2017, 09:18 PM   #16
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Picking up where I left off earlier in the thread, for camping in the Acadia NP area we really liked the private Bar Harbor Campground. In the past we’ve stayed at Blackwoods CG in the park, but it was booked when we were there this time, so we tried this new (to us) campground and really liked it. More details are in my TripAdvisor review.

After several days spent biking and knocking about Acadia National Park, we headed north to Canada, with New Brunswick being our original terminal destination (later revised to Nova Scotia). The border crossing at Calais, Maine, into Saint Stephen, NB, went smoothly, with barely a second look from the Canadian border guards. We chose to use the “old” crossing in Calais, which is in the middle of town and sees mostly locals going through. There’s also a big, new border station on the highway outside of town on Hwy 1. We figured that the small post might be more easy going than the full-on crossing.

After the border the highway (Rt. 1) is very nice, and appears to be fairly new. The only town (city) of note is Saint John, where the ferries to Nova Scotia dock if you are using that option.

We had our sights set on Fundy National Park near the town of Alma, NB. There are a few campgrounds in the park, and we got a nice site at “Headquarters Campground,” which is the closest to the small town and the park HQ. There are other campgrounds in the park, but they weren’t open for the season yet (we were there the third week of June). Alma is a cool little town, and an ideal place to take in the famous massive Bay of Fundy tides. It’s amazing to see a fishing boat sitting on the seabed and then a few hours later floating with many feet of water underneath!

In Alma we had one of the best meals of our trip at the small “Tipsy Tails Bar and Grille.” Looking like a shack from the front, it actually has a really nice deck overlooking the bay, as well as excellent food. See my review at TripAdvisor for details.

In the park we spent the next morning hiking along part of the coast on the aptly named “Coastal Trail,” which offers forests, stream crossings, and cliff-top views of the coast. Even some nice Adirondack chairs situated in a surprising place (I have no idea how they got them in there...).

Images below: 1) Bar Harbor Campground, view of Frenchman's Bay; 2) carriage trail biking in Acadia NP; 3) Calais, Maine, "old" border crossing; 4) Coastal Trail in Fundy National Park; 5) low tide in Alma, NB, Bay of Fundy
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Old 05-31-2017, 09:26 PM   #17
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From Alma and Fundy National Park, we headed north along the coast on Rt. 915, which had some very nice coastal views and was through fairly unpopulated areas. 915 eventually joins Rt. 114, which we took north to the tourist destination of “Hopewell Rocks," which is a prime spot to walk on the beach at low tide and see sea-carved rock formations (think Oregon and Washington coast).

We rushed to get there before closing time, and were seriously bummed to pull up just as they were shutting the gates. But the friendly park attendant told us we were welcome to park outside the gates and still walk down to the beach, which is open 24/7. Not only did this save us the $25 family entrance fee, but the park was virtually deserted. Looking at the facilities there, I can only imagine how crowded it is during the open hours, so we ended up being really happy to have arrived after hours!

Although it was getting late, we decided to push on toward Nova Scotia, since we had never been there before. We realized it would be a whirlwind trip, but it was better than nothing. A few hours later we pulled up in Truro, Nova Scotia, which is “famous” for the “bore tide” that pushes water back up the Salmon River in town twice a day when the tides turn.

We had originally planned to park/sleep in the truck stop in town, but it proved to be kind of run-down, noisy, and bright. We ended up across the highway at the local Walmart, which, despite lots of “no overnight parking” signs, had several RVs boondocked there. So, we crashed the night there and slept surprisingly well. (Read on to the return part of our trip for another place to boondock in Truro that is much better than the Walmart.)

If you read various Internet RV forums, you’ll find that Nova Scotia has a reputation of being generally unfriendly to RV boondocking. I’m thinking it wasn’t an issue with us because we were off season, but in high season (usually starts July 1), they might be stricter.

Photos: 1) Hiking the Coastal Trail, Fundy National Park, NB; 2) Bay of Fundy beach in Alma at low tide; 3) Hopewell Rocks, NB; 4) Tempting the boondocking gods and local police at Truro, NS, Walmart. 5) Cool German overlander rig seen in Alma, NB.
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Old 05-31-2017, 09:31 PM   #18
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An hour or two of driving in early morning traffic brought us to the famous port city of Halifax. On the way in we stopped at the cemetery where many of the victims of the Titanic sinking are buried. (Halifax was the staging point for most of the recovery efforts.) Interesting and sobering.

Finding a nice, easy-to-access parking spot toward the south end of town, we wandered the waterfront, taking in the ships, shops and all that. We checked out the main street as well. It’s kind of a cool town, and reminded me of a smaller Seattle or Portland. I’m sure we missed a lot, but after a few hours of looking around, we were satisfied and decided to head back to the van. We popped the top in the parking lot, made some tuna-fish sandwiches (seemed appropriate), and enjoyed the sea breezes through the Penthouse as we ate inside the van.

Continuing our whirlwind tour of the island, we headed southwest on Hwy 103, cutting back toward the coast on smaller roads to check out the (very touristy, yet interesting) town of Lunenburg, and then started looking for a place to camp for the night.

We stumbled upon Rissers Beach Provincial Park, where we found one of our favorite developed campsites of all time. We scored a site literally meters from the ocean, with a great view. We were told that this is the most popular Provincial Park and campground in Nova Scotia, and we can see why. Had we been traveling just a week later the place would be booked solid. At Rissers there is an upper campground, which has more amenities (showers, hookups, etc.), and the lower campground where we stayed, which is more primitive, but much more private and amenable to our Sportsmobile sensibilities.

Photos: 1) Titanic graves, Halifax, NS; 2-5) Risser Beach Provincial Park campground
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Old 05-31-2017, 09:38 PM   #19
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The next day we had to pry ourselves away from the beautiful campsite, and headed cross-island to visit the Digby area and the Digby Spit. The Spit got high billing in tourist brochures, but we were generally underwhelmed by it. There are several ferry crossings needed to get to the end of the Spit, which I guess is where the cool stuff is. We didn’t feel motivated enough to wait for the ferries, so bagged it and turned around and headed to the town of Digby, which is where the ferries depart from to cross the bay to Saint John.

After perusing the ferry schedule, we found that we had just missed one, and would have to wait quite a while for the next one. Plus, it wasn’t cheap (and we are!). So we decided to just drive back around, since it would basically take the same amount of time as waiting for the next ferry and the trip itself.

If you are in Digby, be sure to stop for a meal of their famous Digby scallops, which are touted to be among the best in the world. I’m no scallop expert, but the ones we had were amazingly good (and right-off-the-boat fresh).

After feasting on scallops, we faced up to the long drive back around the bay, and headed out. Several hours of driving saw us pulling up again in the town of Truro, NS, where we had previously spent the night in a Walmart lot. I had been reading about the Truro bore tide, which is apparently world-renowned (one of only a few places to see this phenomenon in the world). The town even has a viewing area right on the river, with a visitor center, viewing deck, and nice, quiet PARKING LOTS! We decided to try our luck overnighting there, and pulled in to park, noting another RV that had the same idea.

The bore tide comes through twice a day, and they publish the times. It was due to come through in the middle of the night at 3:17 a.m., so I decided I was going to set my alarm and get up to see it. My wife and son declared me nuts and said no way they were going to join me, so I was on my own. The alarm went off, I stumbled out of bed and out of the van, and wandered bleary eyed down to the viewing area on the river, where giant klieg lights had automatically come on, lighting up the river as bright as day. I scared an older couple who were there watching, who probably wondered where the heck this dazed-looking, half-dressed guy came from.

“You just missed it,” said the man. I stared at him blankly, and must have had a confused look on my face. “Really, it just came through a minute ago. Here, I’ll show you the video on my phone.” Ughh. My one chance to see this, and I missed it by a minute. Oh well, maybe next time. I shuffled back to the van and fell back into bed.

In any event, it seemed a good place to boondock, and even has porta-potties there. And, since the tide often comes through at night, you have a plausible reason for staying there so you can see the event. Just set your alarm a good 10 minutes earlier than the schedule shows! The “Truro Tidal Bore Viewing Visitor Centre” is located at 103 Tidal Bore Rd, Lower Truro, NS B6L 1T9, Canada, just off Truro exit 114 on Hwy 102.

Photos: 1) Truro Tidal Bore Viewing Centre parking lot; 2) Canadian cultural tourism at Tim Hortons
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Old 05-31-2017, 09:46 PM   #20
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After treating ourselves to a sit-down breakfast the next morning, we headed “downeast” back toward Maine, crossing the border again at the small crossing in Calais.

The US border crossing was uneventful, with the usual questions. Although we were surprised when one of the two guards opened our side barn doors and starting talking directly to our 11-year-old son, asking him questions. I guess they figure if you want real, straight answers, ask the kids! I could see this maybe scaring and startling some kids, though, so I was kind of surprised they did it without giving us parents a heads-up.

We vacillated whether to just start heading home, or to spend another night in Maine. In the end, the beautiful weather won us over, and we headed back to Acadia National Park and another happy night spent in the Bar Harbor Campground. The next day we partook of the obligatory sunrise viewing on top of Cadillac Mountain in the park, enjoying a nice sunrise and then retiring to the SMB to eat breakfast. (Hint: get there well before sunrise to get a good spot, and stay after dawn breaks... you'll soon have the entire summit to yourself as everyone heads down the mountain.) We finished our time in the park with a short bike ride on the carriage roads before we began our drive home.

Leaving after lunch, we decided not to push it all the way home to Pennsylvania, choosing to stay again on the Connecticut/Massachusetts border, boondocking at a truck stop. A few more hours on the road saw us arriving back in the Philadelphia area after a 2,500-mile, 10-day trip. Although it ended up being more miles than we planned, we viewed it as an exploratory trip and enjoyed (most) every minute of it.

This trip had several firsts for us. It was the first trip where we camped every night (usually we mix in motel stays), where we boondocked at a truck stop, a highway rest area, a Walmart lot, and a visitor center. First time in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, despite being life-long east coasters (we’ve been to BC, the Yukon, etc., several times, but never the eastern provinces).

For sure this whetted our appetite to return and spend more time in coastal Atlantic Canada, including PEI and Nova Scotia. The weather was really nice, and nights were cool, which made camping in the van great. Going toward the end of June seemed to offer the sweet spot between nice weather and low crowds, as most of the areas don’t see their season start until the beginning of July.

Photos: 1) Sunrise on Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park, as seen from the SMB Penthouse; 2) chilling out inside the van; 3) Acadia carriage road biking; 4) last "camp" at a TA truck stop in CT on the way home.
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