We proceeded from Fundy towards and then across the US border on Canadian, then US Highway 1. Uneventfully, though the border agent DID confiscate our oranges. As always, I had a list of liquor prepared, which he did not even ask for.
But then, he asked me a question that has not happened before at a border.
“Do you take this thing everywhere you travel?”
“This thing” meant the bus, of course. I answered honestly (or so I thot), “Yes – we live in it!”
Now, Border Agents are trained to uncover bad actors by inconsistencies in their stories. I am pretty sure he thot he had found one (inconsistency, though as it turned out, he never suspected we were bad actors in the border-patrol sense). He said, “So you took your bus to Australia and New Zealand and Thailand, India, China and Japan?” He had either noticed the stamps in my Passport or had called up a list on the screen.
BUSTED!! Caught in a lie! What to do now?
I decided the best approach was to ‘fess up. I sheepishly said, “No Sir. We took an airplane for those trips.”
For a moment, the frown on his face convinced me I was going to be deported or at the very least separated from my children while they sorted out THE REAL STORY. Then I remembered that I have no children. So I apologized and said I had misunderstood his question. He smiled, and said, “I figured.” “Welcome home!”
So, in the end, we once again made a border crossing with no drama whatsoever.
There is a Walmart in Calais, Maine, just around the corner from the border crossing. We stopped for the night, and to replenish our larders intentionally drained in anticipation of the crossing. Back in the US, with a good WiFi connection, there were some odds and ends to attend to, not the least of which was to finally reacquire Satellite TV!
Most of the last 2 months have been spent north of the northernmost reach of US Satellite. Not that we REALLY missed it. But WHO KNEW that the Republicans and Democrats were in heated disagreement, half of the Cabinet corrupt (or just stupid) and the Chicago Bears in FIRST PLACE!!! After a few minutes of news-viewing, it was not easy to resist the temptation to turn around and head back across the border, only a few blocks away.
But we DID resist. And plotted a course following Hwy 1 south along the coast of Maine. Our “plan” (and we don’t really plan) was to just stagger along until we see someplace we like. First stop: Bar Harbor and the Acadia National Park.
We had been advised by someone we met that Bar Harbor itself was a bit on the touristy-side, so we found an RV spot on an adjacent peninsula (but still on the island). This RV spot had MANY things to recommend it. For example, a shuttle bus to take us to the various communities and sights on the Island. Also, not trivial, an ICE CREAM SHOP at the entrance to the park!!!
The Bar Harbor area turned out to be a disappointment – which is not easy since that implies expectations and we work hard to have none.
I suppose I should clarify before the BH Chamber of Commerce comes a-knockin’. Bar Harbor is OVERWHELMED with tourists. Part of that is related to the cruise ship in the harbor. No room to even walk on the sidewalks. This has the expected affect on restaurant prices (high for what you get) and availability (many were crowded). But also ALL the shops were full of tourist caca. Nothing “authentic.” I got the impression that this is standard, even when a ship is not there. Perhaps the area would be more pleasant after Labor day, but in discussion with the bartender(s), a lot shuts down, too.
There was ONE point in Bar Harbor’s favor – more gourmet ice cream shops in a pretty small area than one would think possible. If the wandering-about experience weren’t so excruciating, I could have made a point of stopping and sampling at each; perhaps with a FULL BLOG POST waxing philosophic about Ice Cream as the antidote for all that ails us
I don’t want to leave anyone with the impression that we spent 3 miserable days in the Bar Harbor area. Acadia National park is here, which has a huge network of bike Trails.
And, the park has a FREE shuttle bus service that stopped IN OUR CAMPGROUND and went everywhere – and had bike racks on the front.
So we could catch the shuttle to any of the bike trails, bars, restaurants, etc. SUPER CONVENIENT. In fact, this feature saved the day for us…as we cannot haul our bikes TO a trail on the clown car, which would have limited our options, for sure.
The park itself is quite nice, its history intertwined with the Rockefellers…reminding us that folks who have “made it” in our country have often given back in ways that benefit us all, in perpetuity.
One issue with the shuttles (and one more negative about the area): They shift from summer to fall schedule the day BEFORE Labor Day Weekend. Now THAT IS DUMB!!!
One driver mumbled that all the summer drivers have gone back to driving school buses, but, in the end, all the reduced schedule did is make sure we paid attention to the schedules (which went from hourly or more often to 4 times each day) lest we get left stranded at the end of a hard (and distant) ride.
Which brings me to the obligatory (with pleasure!) “Nice people” story.
At the end of a 13+mile bike ride with plenty of hills – we were pretty sweaty and exhausted – we sat in the parking lot awaiting the reduced-schedule-shuttle. We had arrived early, so we were just sitting in the shade (which BELIEVE ME was just fine with us – we had water and granola bars and exhaustion!). A woman had seen us as she left for her ride, and we were still there when she returned – she was a serious biker, and her hour ride had probably expended more ergs than our 3-hour one.
She noted we were still there, looking like we were waiting for something (now for a long time). She was concerned and asked if we needed a ride! We thanked her – at this point the shuttle was expected in a few minutes and we explained the fall schedule — hence the delay (she, too, could not believe this took effect BEFORE the busy holiday weekend).
To ensure we were successfully acquired by the shuttle, she demonstrated the particular arm wave that is the signal for the shuttle to stop. We must have looked particularly ridiculous practicing this as though we were yoga students emulating the master in the parking lot!
Beyond the training session, she also said she would wait to be certain that the shuttle DID stop and we were safely on the way back to the campground! She had a small pickup truck, but would have been HAPPY to load 2 more bikes and two more sweaty people on board and go out of her way to make sure we got where we needed to go.
Nice to know Newfoundland (or Canada, for that matter) does NOT have a monopoly on nice!!!
And, though Bar Harbor was a tourist-overrun, unappealing destination, the little town where our campground was, Southwest Harbor, was much less besotten by this plague. A REGULAR grocery store, a nice pub with a deck overlooking the harbor with at least as many Lobster boats as megayachts.
We did have one “You can’t make this shit up” experience while in the Bar Harbor Area. Not related to Bar Harbor, but we were in Bar Harbor when it occurred, so described herein.
It seems friends Fran and Mike McDowell, after arriving in Newfoundland by ferry, had a bit of a Water issue. While their Water Issues are legendary (and they had one of THOSE, too, but they can decide if they want to tell about this), they were on a WATER Taxi in Gros Morne Park when this one happened.
I should mention we REPAIRED one of our own water problems. You may recall we had a leak that rotted an area of the floor in the kitchen. Mike and Fran delivered the epoxy I ordered from Amazon US (not shippable to Canada) to fix this, and we applied the epoxy, filled some holes (with Bondo!!) and put the floor back down.
But, back to the “You can’t make this shit up” story.
It seems the McDowells struck up a conversation with a wilderness guide who was also on the water taxi. During a lengthy bout of friendly small talk, the guide mentioned that they had just met some folks who had travelled NFLD in a 1981 Bluebird Bus…
THAT WOULD BE US!!!!
The McDowell’s IMMEDIATELY said, “That was our friends, DAN AND LIZ!!!” It seems Mike and Fran had just accidently run into the partner of Tom, provider of Moose Meat!!! Is that a small world? It is definitely shit you cannot make up!
Well, perhaps not THAT weird…after all there are not that many people in Newfoundland. Still, what are the chances?
That is one interpretation, another is that the Newfoundland police were assigned to track anyone connected in any way with Los Harris – who were suspected of trafficking in illegal contraband (AKA moose meat). Megan may have been a Newfie SECRET AGENT, hot on the trail of a moose-smuggling ring. She could have been assigned to shadow Los McDowell, well known through the pages of this blog to be co-conspirators extraordinaire in any trouble the Harrises might be involved in. In which case the chances were good.
So everyone laughed about it. Though Megan perhaps a bit forced, while into her wireless ear bud she was asking for guidance on how to proceed? The McDowells have NO IDEA how close they were to enhanced interrogation on “The Rock,” which fortunately means NEITHER Alcatraz nor Guantanamo. But which in Newfoundland probably involves Screech Rum.