Week 20 – Eastern States cont… Mainly Virginia

Week 20 – Eastern States cont… Mainly Virginia

John:

Hard to believe we have been on the road this long as the time is flying by!

Originally posted on 52 Weeks:

‘Everything you need is already inside. Just do it.’ – Bill Bowerman

[So,how this works is each week I will write to someone on my list, picked randomly and I will post it online on this blog - just in case the letter doesn't reach it's destination.  The letter includes a card with a random quote, which I hope you will enjoy (at the top of this blog page.)]

Manassas, Virginia

Manassas, Virginia where the civil war really kicked off!

This week started with us on the move to meet back up with Mom and Dad in Gloucester, Virginia. First, we had a stop at the Manassas National Park where the first serious battle of the American Civil War was held. I’m really impressed by the talks by the US rangers, definitely worth going on. This battle is what set the US up for 4 years of war and has lost more…

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Quebec City

After a few weeks in Ontario visiting relatives and seeing Niagara Falls we headed for Quebec via Brighton.

Quebec is the largest province in Canada with around 8 million people. It is a french speaking province with Quebec City the capital. The British and French fought a seven war which the British won with the capture of Quebec City in 1759. Quebec City is the only walled city north of Mexico thanks to the foresight of a Governor in the 1800s. We stayed a couple of days outside of Quebec city at a campground which was about to close for the season.

An interesting historical fact about Quebec City is that the English General Wolfe only just won the battle. After a two month-long siege Wolfe he went downstream with his army and came up behind the French to defeat them. The battle lasted only 15 minutes and both the french general Montcalm and Wolfe were mortally wounded. As a result of the victory the British took control of Quebec. Quebec has retained its french heritage and culture.

Quebec City was brilliant and we did a city tour with a guide learning a bit more about the history of Quebec. The walls and fortifications of the city are still intact with the citadel overlooking the Lawrence River a great spot for views of the city and river. We also visited a food market and bought some lovely cheese, sausages and port.

Niagara Falls

When I was growing up one of the natural wonders of the world I saw in pictures and television was Niagara Falls. The facts about Niagara falls are that the Canadian Horseshoe Falls drops an average of 57 metres (188 ft.) into the Lower Niagara River. The height of the American Falls ranges between 21 to 34 metres (70-110 ft). Each day around 168,000 cubic metres (6 million cubic ft.) of water go over the falls every minute during the daytime.

So when we got to Ontario I decided to go and see the falls for myself. We stayed with some of Debbie’s lovely relatives and I stayed overnight in London, Ontario before taking a greyhound bus via Toronto to Niagara Falls. On arrival I met Ian an Australian I knew from my London Youth Hostel days who married Jo a Canadian and ended up living in Niagara Falls. What are the odds?

He gave me a quick drive by of the falls and the township before we headed back to his place for a few beers before going out for dinner. It was great to catch up and the next day Jo dropped me off in Niagara Falls township. I then purchased a ticket on the now renamed Maid of the Mist operated by a company called Hornblower. Apparently after decades of monopoly the Maid of the Mist company lost the Canadian franchise and so now only the US side has boats with that name. The cost of the cruise was C$19.95 and if you get there before 10.30am it is C$17.95 and takes around 30-40 minutes. The boat takes you up to the Horse Shoe falls.

I was lucky with the weather enjoying the boat ride up the falls, views from the cliff and wandering up the tacky Clifton Road and a questionable sign over Burger King.

Badly positioned sign

Badly positioned sign

Later that day Ian picked me up and we went for a drive to see more of the surrounding area and then visited the oldest pub in Canada and several craft breweries before having a great dinner at Angelo’s in Niagara Falls, highly recommended if you are ever there. All in all it was great to see Niagara Falls and the difference between the USA and Canadian side with the Canadian side for several miles managed by the Canadian National Park and quite pretty compared with the US side.

Travelling in the Maritime’s in Autumn

What are the Maritime’s

The Maritime’s are three Eastern provinces in Canada on the Atlantic coast. They are Prince Edward Island (PEI), New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. We arrived in New Brunswick after leaving Quebec on October 27th and spent 10 days exploring them. The scenery and seafood in the Maritime’s is famous through Canada and during the summer months they get lots of visitors from all over the world.

New Brunswick

Our first stop was Cap Pele where we stayed at the only RV resort still open, Silver Sands. We were the only visitors there and the owner was closing up at the end of the week so were fortunate the resort was still open. The cost per night for the four of us was $35 and we stayed 3 nights. We first visited Moncton where we saw the famous tidal bore and were lucky to see a surfer on it. Afterwards we visited a local museum about the Arcadians. In the 1700′s Nova Scotia was first settled by the French and called Arcadia. When the British took over many French settlers were deported unless they signed an oath of allegiance to England. In recent years there has been a resurgence of Arcadian culture. After Moncton we briefly visited Sheliac where I had my photo taken with the largest lobster in Canada.

Prince Edward Island (PEI)

The next day we visited PEI via the 15 km 1997 Confederation Bridge an impressive bit of engineering kit. There is a toll for cars coming back of C$45. We were extremely lucky with a beautiful autumn day of sunshine. As we had limited time we only visited capital Charlottetown and were lucky to visit Founders Hall on the last day it was open for the season and learnt about how Canada came into being.

The first meeting to discuss confederation could have gone either way with no confederation. However, all the politicians hit it off with lots of parties and agreement that led eventually to the creation of Canada. It was by no means a smooth ride with PEI not joining till they got into financial trouble building a railway several years later. The house where they met, Province House is still there and was open to the public. It is due to close later this year for five years of renovation so we were lucky to see where the Confederation of Canada was born. I also enjoyed a PEI lobster lunch.

Nova Scotia

The next day we left for Nova Scotia and drove to a campground just out of Truro which is the centre of Nova Scotia. We left Debbie’s folks and took the car to explore the South shore of the island heading for Lunenburg. The drive was lovely along the coast in autumnal sunshine. Lunenburg was a bit of a disappointment and we both preferred Malone Bay. Eventually we ended up staying at a Days Inn in Bridgewater for C$105. The next day was pouring with rain so we ended up driving through to Yarmouth with a few stops along the way to enjoy the scenery. Stayed at the Lake lawn motel in Yarmouth ($C100) and enjoyed the best breakfast I have had so far in Canada. The second day there was still rain with not many photo opportunities o the Bay of Fundy. We ended up staying at a wonderful Bed and Breakfast in Middleton for C$65.

The third day we drove back to the campground with a stop to visit the Grand Pre site where French settlers lived. Grand Pre was where an early example of ethnic cleansing took place. The British took control of Arcadia and renamed the island Nova Scotia. The majority of french settlers were deported unless they signed an oath of allegiance to the British. The visitor centre was closed but it was nice to walk around and see the statutes and gardens.

A big disappointment was visiting the Home of Ice Hockey in Windsor which was closed and looked decrepit. Surprised as it looks like no financial support is given to the attraction by any of the franchises or national hockey organisation.

On our last day in the Maritime’s we visited Halifax and Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse. The lighthouse was excellent with some great views. It was a great drive along the coast back to Halifax where we enjoyed a walk along the waterfront and visited the citadel overlooking the city. I again had lobster but it was not as delicious as the one on PEI. All in all we had a great time exploring the maritime’s and would like to come back and see it again in warmer weather.

What does 93 days travelling in North America cost?

We are a bit lucky

This trip is unique in that we are travelling with Debbie’s folks in their RV so not paying for RV rental or car rental. We also do not stay often at motels, hotels or hostels. Another bonus is staying with friends and relatives at no cost as well as a few weeks at Debbie’s parents place in Canada. Her parents also have several memberships which allow them to stay for free in some campgrounds. For instance we spent several nights in a South Dakota campground for no cost. Other campgrounds range from a low $20 to $50 depending on if it is privately owned or not competing with anyone else.

Grub, costs and the journey

Food also has been relatively inexpensive as we usually cook our own meals and rarely go out for dinner or breakfast. The biggest cost is fuel and the RV is a thirsty beast. Rather than break down costs into different categories I am just going to tell you what the average cost per day has been for 93 days of travelling. We started in Vancouver and drove up to Kelowna, Banff then down into Montana,Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan then across Ontario, Quebec to the Maritime’s before heading down the East Coast of the USA to Chesapeake Bay, Virginia. We are here a few days before heading down South and then later over to the West Coast.

Our average daily costs

On average the daily cost per day works out at $US 100. This includes fuel, accommodation, visiting attractions, food and the occasional splurge at a winery or restaurant. It has been a pleasant surprise that our costs have been so low as I had budgeted for a minimum of US$150 a day. We also have had some unexpected expenses with BA losing my baggage and buying some replacement clothes and toiletries, amazingly two months into our trip BA found and returned my bag.

One tip to remember when travelling in America without planned accommodation

During our trip we have stayed at motels a few times when we took the car and drove around some of Nova Scotia and down the East coast of the USA. One tip for people driving around the US in a car is to pick up at Visitor Centres the hotel discount voucher books. Visitor centres are usually located off the freeway when you enter a new state. We stayed at a lovely four star hotel in Fairfax, Virginia with breakfast for US$90. Nowhere have I seen these sort of bargains on the web. On average when we stay at a motel it ranges between US$80-100.

If people have any specific questions about costs I would be happy to answer them.

Even can afford the occasional lobster

Even can afford the occassional lobster

Week 15 – Back to Canada and the ‘rellies’ – Canadian Thanksgiving!

Week 15 – Back to Canada and the ‘rellies’ – Canadian Thanksgiving!

John:

Our trip up Canada and a lovely thanksgiving

Originally posted on 52 Weeks:

‘A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.’ – Lao Tsu

[So,how this works is each week I will write to someone on my list, picked randomly and I will post it online on this blog - just in case the letter doesn't reach it's destination.  The letter includes a card with a random quote, which I hope you will enjoy (at the top of this blog page.)]
Wow is it autumn here – beautiful weather.

Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves

It’s been just gorgeous this week. It’s, also, our return to Canada, just in time for a huge family meal for the Canadian Thanksgiving.
Firstly, this week we left the gorgeous state of Wisconson to then end up in Michigan. Our first night was at a campsite right next to Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan

which made it easy for us to head over to Mackinac Island –…

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Week 16 – Mud, Bathhouse, Fungi and Sunrises – Point Pelee & Little Rock

Originally posted on 52 Weeks:

‘Rise above the storm and you will find sunshine.’ – Mario Fernandez

[So,how this works is each week I will write to someone on my list, picked randomly and I will post it online on this blog - just in case the letter doesn't reach it's destination.  The letter includes a card with a random quote, which I hope you will enjoy (at the top of this blog page.)]

Motor-home in Mud

Nothing like a motor-home in mud, good thing the tow truck knew what to do!

Right now I am sitting in our motor home as we get towed out of our campsite. We got stuck in the mud. As with all plans, there are these ‘little detours’ and we wait to see how long until we move further east into the Maritime Provinces of Canada.

Marshlands, Point Pelee

Marshlands, Point Pelee

So, that’s the now, but this week past I started at Point Pelee

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