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Friday, September 30, 2016

Night Rider

It is just 4:10am and I have found an open McD drive-through and gotten a coffee. Actually I was quite awake but good with a coffee from McD anyway. I could not send my daily report of yesterday as I was busy driving and had no WiFi. Left at around 7:30am yesterday and had a nice ride through North Dakota. However, the Twin Cities were a mess. Stop and Go all around on I-694, but finally made it through and into Wisconsin. Had a nice supper at a Denny’s and found a Wally World 20 km further down the road where I got myself to bed in the rear of the van. Was a quiet place and would be good for RV-overnight. At around 1:00am I woke up and was ready for another bout with the road. Riding through the night can be quite peaceful as there is little traffic. Some truckers are barreling down the road but city slickers are still asleep in their homes. I love that fast WiFi here at McD. works even outside in the parking lot.

Well, I better get on with the driving…..

Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Border Crossing And South Into North Dakota

An early take-off from Saskatoon got me down to Portal and the border crossing which had been totally redone and changed after I had been there last year. The flow of traffic through the station is now organized in the form of an S-curve, probably to prevent some people from running through the border without stopping.
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Fall colours are now great in this north-western part of the country.
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Another 2 1/2 hrs into North Dakota and I arrived at our friend’s place. A wonderful supper was waiting and afterwards we went visiting more friends.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A Very Efficient Day And Off I Went Again

After 12 hrs. of sleep in that Class C I came to myself again and I knew I needed a coffee. So I quickly drove over to the next Mc D and ordered a blueberry muffin to go with it. Then it was time to continue the drive over to the glass place where I waited the better part of 2 hours until my windshield was done up. And I love to look through it without all the cracks and little damages the old one had. I paid $245 including a pair of new wipers and that is a STEAL in Canada where other companies charge you up to $400 for the same item. From there I drove over to the next CAA-office. I needed a new sticker on my license plate. When I presented my insurance card from New Brunswick it raised eyebrows to begin with. But the card was issued by the CAA Ontario so after some discussions it was accepted. usually it needs to be issued by an Alberta Company but mine said “INTERPROVINCIAL” and that made all the difference. I paid 65 Dollars for the registration for 1 year and went out the door. I was all done in Edmonton now and ready to return to Saskatoon.
While the weather was overcast in Alberta, I was met with clear skies and sunshine over Saskatchewan. In Lloydminster I had myself a slice of pizza from a 7-Eleven and reached the city shortly before 6pm. My friend was already waiting for me and dinner was ready.

All in all it was a great day with all errands done very efficiently.
Tomorrow I will be crossing the border and visit friends we met years ago in Holtville,CA.

Until then thanks for dropping by.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Back In The Big City

The traffic was haunting. It was extremely slow going when I rolled on Hwy 16 into the city. This place is choking on its own traffic. Because of the economic slow-down I might have expected less traffic, but the city was bustling of life. Good so…for the people trying to live here. Not so good for me as I was stuck in traffic. I had left Saskatoon around 10:30am and the driving time is around 5 hrs. – without the big traffic volume. And if that wasn’t enough slowing traffic I managed to arrive at a railroad crossing just when one of the megalomaniac long goods trains was slowly going across the street. I waited unbelievably 30 minutes for the train to pass.
But finally even this obstacle was behind me.

My van was in need of a thorough cleaning inside and out, but now it’s presentable again.
1-20160926_193621However the battery would not take any charge anymore so I drove to Walmart and got a new one. I am not willing to deal with a no-start on a cool morning while going home. Don’t need that hassle.

Finally I called the young man who owns the Ford Focus, and he came and picked up his car. Man, was this guy happy. He had just saved $1500 Bucks for a hired car transport!. I like to help people with things and his happy face was a good reward for me.
Tomorrow I have an appointment with the “Windshield Surgeon” who is gonna replace my broken windshield. And now it’s time to go to bed.
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For the night I have the use of a Class C motor home.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Oh Canada! You Gotta Love Those Empty Highways

Started out bright and early from Moorhead. After one mile I crossed into North Dakota.

From there on I really was out on the prairies. No more trees but plenty of agriculture spread out endlessly on both sides of the highway.
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After running into some dark clouds it started to rain for a while. Then it stayed cloudy until I almost reached Minot,ND. Crossing into Canada at Portal was a breeze and by now there was not a cloud in the sky. Another 5 hours of driving brought me up to Saskatoon where I am visiting with an old friend of ours.
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Again I did 11hrs. of driving and 675miles again. Tomorrow will just be a walk in the park since it is only 6 more hours to Edmonton,AB. 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

I Clocked in At 784 Miles Today

Luckily, I had brought a sleeping bag and my own pillow, so didn’t had to try out the bed sheets. I wonder whether the Mishawaka Inn employs ANY housekeeping personal. If so they sure as hell never entered the room I was occupying last night. Besides of numerous of non-working technical equipment, and this is what really bothered me, I had to start some cleaning on my own, which is the reason why I did not use the bed sheets, nor did I use the shower, nor the sink. Well, I spare you the gory details, but at 5am local time it was time for me to call it a night. For half of it I had been listening to some Spanish screaming from the dirty stinking hallways. Brrr… It could follow me as a nightmare for the rest of my life.

I made it 2 hours through the early morning darkness and by the time first light filtered through the cloud cover I was happily underway west on I-80. Even during these early morning hours the Chicago traffic had spilled out all over the highway. Now, I NEVER go through the Windy City but stick to the Rockford detour, which is quite a few miles longer but well worth it to save the aggravation of dealing with Chicago’s half sleepy but yet so wildly driving morning commuters within the city. I did the well-known turn onto I-35 to Rockford and after passing into Wisconsin I paid my last road toll. (Finally) Old sol did not peek out at all today, but a few light rain showers had me exploring the intricate workings of the wiper switch. The 2014 Ford Focus is high-tech and me I have never driven anything like it. It pings and rings and does things which makes me looking frantically for the reason. I still haven’t quite figured out the remote door locking/unlocking. But I always make damn sure I have the key with me when leaving the car. I have heard of cars which can lock themselves as if to say “I told you you shouldn’t leave the key inside”,

When I got to the Twin Cities the Garmin Girl Gertie told me to take I-694 North around the cities. It worked quite well and Gertie and I did not get into any major congestion. Driving the north-western part of Minnesota can be boring. So I turned on the radio and when the program wasn’t after my liking I started singing. (like King of the Road)
What we have seen repeatedly when driving this highway is the sign saying NORSKE NOOK.
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Minnesota is the most Scandinavian of all U.S. States and so it doesn’t surprise anybody To come across Scandinavian food places.
Norske Nook
I have seen a lot of Mac Ds along the highway and stopped at a few. I was disgusted to see what unhealthy menu they offer in the U.S. No green salad of any kind anywhere, most of them don’t even have the blueberry muffins. Mac Ds in Canada sure offer a better menu. What I do like at all Mac Ds, and which is the reason for stopping there is their fast WiFi and their cheap and good coffee. Or have you ever received a cup of coffee for 60cts anywhere else?

So after 784 Miles I made it to Moorhead,MN from where it is about another mile or so into North Dakota. This time I was looking for a Super 8 Motel and I found a great place for the same price I paid last night. After talking to Bea and giving status report I had myself a good old shower with lots of hot water. And now….I am done. Finito Finale!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Chaos in South Bend, IN

I have never been and will never be a friend of sports games, especially not football. The more I am annoyed when I get into a town (like South Bend) where I intend to get into the known to me Motel 6 and are presented with more than doubled room rates. Another, brand new Motel 6 down the street had the audacity to ask for 242 Bucks for one person. This is not for the whole weekend but one night! The reason for such outrageous price increase is that a football game is gonna happen. And wouldn’t you know it I got right behind a police escorting numerous black buses ending up at a huge fancy looking building downtown. (the arena?) After much looking and more driving I found a place (it’s a dump really) in Mishawaka a  few miles east of South Bend, where I got a room for 65 Bucks. But neither the WiFi nor the TV is working. So I had to run across the street to a Mac D. where I found super-fast internet. I am grueling to go back into “my” room!
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I have now done 2000clicks in 2 days and tomorrow I am ending up where the prairies used to be the grazing grounds for millions of buffalos: North Dakota.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

I Can Still Drive A 1000km In A Day…

…but I can’t take pictures at the same time. No Sir, that would be too much to ask. But this posting is coming to you from the town of Herkimer, New York State.

But I guess I have to back up a bit. You might remember that I drove a former ambulance van back in Alberta. Now that vehicle has been sitting in storage all the time after we went back to our home in New Brunswick. And with it a lot of other belongings we left behind as I considered to go back there for more work. But the price of oil kept falling and the Alberta economy is kinda in shambles, so no more work for me. And besides, I don’t like to live there. Once I saw the beauty of the east coast Alberta went out the window.
So after our tourist season is now dwindling down I decided to get over to Alberta to drive the van home. Now, I could have taken a flight, but I found a guy who is in need to have his car from New Brunswick over to Alberta, so this morning I took his car and started on the 3000-mile drive west. So I made a 1000 clicks today and that’s not bad. I am driving a 2014 Ford Focus which does 40mpg. My Alberta van won’t run that cheap!
Here’s my tracks of today:
1-Fullscreen capture 9222016 93939 PMTraffic wasn’t too bad except one line-up caused by a bad accident. Temps hovered around 84F which called for the use of AC in the car.
And what is there to say about “Herkimer”?
If you’ve never heard of it, don’t fret. I hadn’t either. Looking it up on “Wikipedia” turned up the astounding fact that there seems to be a village of Herkimer, the town of Herkimer and even Herkimer County.

Herkimer is a village on the north side of the Mohawk River and the county seat of Herkimer County, New York, United States, about 13 miles (21 km) southeast of Utica. As of the 2010 census, it had a population of 7,743. This was part of the Burnetsfield Patent and the first European-American settlement this far west in the Mohawk Valley.

The village takes its name from the Herkimer family, Palatine German immigrants who settled in the area in 1723. The most notable family member was Nicholas Herkimer, a general of the Tryon County militia, who died from wounds received at the Battle of Oriskany in the American Revolutionary War.

The village is located within the Town of Herkimer and Herkimer County; together they are referred to as "The Herkimers". The citizens of the Village are served by three levels of government of the same name: the Village, the Town and the County of Herkimer.

Not mentioned by Wikipedia is the spanking new Wally-World Supercenter, where I actually went to get water, cookies and Gummi Bears. (The originals from Haribo) I strolled along the candy aisles a couple of times until I saw them. There were two different package sizes. One with at least 2 pounds at almost 8 Bucks, the other just 5 oz and 98cts. I weighed the big bag and was almost taking them with me but I knew my gummi bear addiction would knock me out the next day, so I ended up with the small bag, and if I don’t stop munching on those I will have to return to Wally World first thing tomorrow morning.

So, I guess now we are all that much smarter.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

My Vehicles: VW 1200 (Beetle) Screaming Orange

After the Citroen experience I was hankering after something solid, proven German engineering. With other words I was looking for a VW-Bug. My grandpa used to drive a black VW and it was a late 50s model. But he had switched to FORD later. As a last-ditch attempt to revive sales for the aging concept of the beetle, VW launched a special edition in 1974. It had no frills, no fan, no radio. It was stripped to the basics and it was available for 6000 German Marks. The seventies had brought out a few colours of choice. Orange was one of them. The other was moss-green. (my 3rd. vehicle)
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What I had thought would be a trouble-free new car turned out to be…well almost a lemon. When the car was delivered there was already a strange sound from the engine. Later a big bang occurred from time to time and it seemed to come from the body. The dealer never found the reason and a year later the banging had ceased. With this car I travelled to Scandinavia 2 times. This beetle was still made in Germany – not in Mexico. The history of the Beetle began during the darkest German days the 3rd.Reich. Volkswagen was originally created in 1936 by the German Labour Front (Deutsche Arbeitsfront). In the early 1930s, the German auto industry was still largely composed of luxury models, and the average German could rarely afford anything more than a motorcycle. As a result, only one German out of 50 owned a car. Hitler chose to sponsor an all-new, state-owned factory using Ferdinand Porsche's design (with some of Hitler's design constraints, including an air-cooled engine so nothing could freeze). The intention was that ordinary Germans would buy the car by means of a savings scheme. Over 330,000 Germans started paying 5 Marks a week into a fund so they one day could afford to actually own a Volkswagen (People’s Car) My Grandfather on my mothers side was one of them and due to the corrupt system of the Nazis he never got this car. He wasn’t into Nazism either but a staunch social democrat, which might have contributed to him not getting the car.  Only after the war was over he purchased a brown split-window beetle. I remember that car very well being parked in his garage. Grandpa was a smoker and there always was this smoke odour in his car. Beetles had always been available in 2 slightly different versions, namely the Standard and the Export. The “Standard” was the stripped-down car while the “Export” had more Chrome and better upholstery.
On July 01 1974 the last VW-Beetle of a total of 11.9mill. German-made beetles left the assembly line. So my beetle was one of the last batch ever made. After that the Golf took over. However, the beetle production continued in Mexico where beetles were used as taxis by removing the front passenger seat thus allowing for an easy entry on the passenger side.

A common commercial VW slogan was:
VW Reklame
                      It runs and runs and runs…
I traded my Beetle again in 1976 for another VW.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

My Vehicles: Citroen 2CV "deux chevaux" Part 1

I have had many different vehicles and I am going to periodically blog about the cars/trucks I have owned. I was 20 years old when I got my first one. It was a 1969 Citroen 2CV. When I think of it as being my first one I often compare with what kids (at 20 I was a kid) are driving today – fancy automobiles which were even out of reach for most well-established families in those days.
This was exactly my 2CV in dark-red and white painted headlights
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Now, the Citroen brand is French and only once I have seen one in North America. It was made from 1948-1990. The first cars looked a bit like …a prototype.
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Left: 1948 2CV w. one single headlight  Right: 12hp 50 version
Conceived by Citro├źn Vice-President Pierre Boulanger to help motorize the large number of farmers still using horses and carts in 1930s France, the 2CV is noted for its minimalist combination of innovative engineering and utilitarian, straightforward metal bodywork — initially corrugated for added strength without added weight. The 2CV featured a low purchase cost; simplicity of overall maintenance; an easily serviced air-cooled engine (originally offering 9 hp); low fuel consumption; and an extremely long travel suspension offering a soft ride, light off-road capability, high ground clearance, and height adjustability via lengthening/shortening of tie rods.
Citroen made 3.8million of these cars.

But why did I choose such a crazy vehicle? Well, back then insurance posed a major financial obstacle for me and since rates were assessed after the engine’s
horsepower I had to choose a vehicle with very limited engine performance. The 2CV of 1969 had a 2-cylindered engine (hence the “2CV”) and an output of 16 hp which is less than most of today’s riding lawn tractors have. But the car was extremely light-weight, (1300 Pounds) so even with only 16hp it could get up to 65mph (110km/h). Of course, it was important that there would be no headwind nor any hills to climb. Likewise, it was important not to get involved in any collision. The car would simply fall apart. I remember the steel quality being so thin that one could have cut it with a simple snips.
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Most memorable was the pistol-grip-style gearshift. It had 4 gears and the shifting would happen by either pulling or pushing the “pistol”, then turn it sideways. Oh..my and if the clutch would be released too sudden the car would start jumping up and down. In spite of all its primitive construction the car provided an extremely comfortable ride – once you got it going that is. It also was a fantastic summer vehicle as the roof could be rolled back all the way to the rear window, making it almost a convertible.
images (1)Front side windows were split horizontally where the lower part was top-hinged to the non-movable upper part. Whenever I tested out top speed the air pressure inside would increase to the point that the side windows would pop open and one would ride along with flapping window-halves. The illuminating capacity of its headlights could be compared to using a dim torch light with dying batteries. They were pretty much useless.

The Citroen 2CV became the most popular car for university students. Germans called it “Die Ente” (The Duck) It was the cult-car, the anti-car to the establishment. 2CV car ownership meant that meeting 2CV-owners were always greeting each other.

Soon after I was done with my 2CV, Citroen came out with a 2CV-4. It had rectangular headlights and bigger taillights. It also had a 21hp motor.

Some of these cars are still in service. As former cult-cars they have become quite expensive. It is even possible that there are a few in French-speaking Quebec.

My 2CV developed quite a few troubles, like on the suspension and clutch, but it will always remain my “loved first one”. After 2 years of Citroen adventures I went and bought a VW-Bug brand spanking new.

Sailing Down The Road: Boondocking on Campobello

This is a "re-print" of our visitor Toni Larson's blog

Sailing Down The Road: Boondocking on Campobello: I have become a big fan of Boondockerswelcome.com.  It is an organization of fellow RVers who are willing to allow traveling members to par...

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A Day At The Cruise Harbour In St.John

It’s amazing what happens these days. Couple of days ago I got a phone call from the only cruise agency in Saint John,
“Aquila Tours” asking about whether our van would be available for a day of shuttling cruise passengers.  I accepted the work order and yesterday morning I left Campobello at 7:15am.
1-20160913_072514-001  Lubec, eastern-most town of the U.S bathing in first sunlight

It is around 3hrs to the port city so I reached the cruise terminal around 10am. My first tour was not before 12 noon but from then on I had a trip every hour.
1-20160913_131411And my passengers were booked in for the Zip Line, which means they try to fly along a strung-out wire between 5 poles set up along a slope.





1-20160913_131429  “Grandma” hanging off the wire
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If you think that this was only used by young people, than think again, for even grandma wanted to fly. Most people let out a wild scream once they left the platform fastened to the pole. Even in my wildest dreams i could not imagine to do this, let alone the fact that they paid $150 Bucks for the “adventure”.

Arriving at the cruise terminals I was greeted by one of the longest and tallest cruise liners I have ever seen.
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At the Marco Polo Cruise Terminal lay the 348m long “Anthem Of The Seas”, a ship owned and operated by Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL).
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45 minutes later the 294m long “Norwegian Gem” of Norwegian Cruise Lines pulled in at the Diamond Jubilee Cruise Terminal.
Both ships have been built by “Meyer Shipyard” in Papenburg, Germany.
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Saint John was about to be swamped by nearly 7000 people off the ships. I am sure Saint John’s business owners had already trained their binoculars on the most prosperous looking passengers.
1-20160913_105638   Our van “dwarfed” by the giant ships
1-20160913_112710Shortly before 12pm a nice young man came up to me and the van and introduced himself as being from the Zip-Line and that we would spend the afternoon together, he as a guide and me driving.
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St. John’s “Reversing Falls” with Irving’s “lovely” Pulp Mill as thebackground.
 
When all the fun was over at 6:30pm I had yet 3 hrs to get home to our much more quiet Campobello Island. Aahhh… what a relief to turn back across the FDR-International Bridge.

Monday, September 12, 2016

A Grand Day For Campobello And A Repair Project

Just up from the old Welshpool Wharf
stands an old historic building.
1-20160907_131040It has served many years as a legion building and later as a bar. Empty and unused it has seen many years of neglect until a group of volunteers and enthusiasts took over, secured funding and started the renovation process towards a multi-purpose community hall. The work has been going on since this spring and is not quite completed yet.
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However, on September 7 a re-dedication ceremony took place, first down at the wharf where a new floating dock had been put into place, then inside the hall.
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1-20160907_132253Representatives of the Federal and Provincial Governments had arrived to give their speeches and congratulate the volunteer organization and the people of Campobello to this accomplishment. So I finally got to meet the new minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage and our MP Karen Ludwig.

A couple of days earlier a neighbour had called me and asked for help with quite a delicate project on her house.
1-20160908_095806While painting the outside she had noticed soft spots on the wood and digging into the wood noticed that much of the house corner had rotted out. When I took a closer look, it turned out that the corner stud plus sub-siding had rotted. In fact it was so rotten that I could pull it out with my bare hands.
After ordering a list of needed new materials I started working on it. 2 days later all rotten wood had been replaced with new lumber and today the new parts got painted again.
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In between, I had clients for island tours and even though we are now in mid-September the weather cooperated all the time. This summer has truly been one of the best we ever had.
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Saturday, September 10, 2016

Saturday Between 6pm And 8pm

Most people have a favorite type of music and so do I. Unfortunately, public radio offers only one weekly program where it is played. Every Saturday between 6 and 8pm I tune in on CBC Radio’s French music program. And then I swim away on a cloud of dreams into a time long gone. “Lost in the Fifties” was a title sung by Ronny Milsap, but my favorite music carries me back even further. The “Great American Songbook” contains treasures for my ears. It is often in retrospect that we think we would like to turn back the clock. The Fifties f.e.x were full of wonderful music, yet we tend to forget that there was so much political hate, cold war and suffering all over the world. The music did not mirror this. Instead it took people out on a journey of dreams and 
happiness, and we could forget about the wars, the hunger for peace, the political hate.

BUT STOP…!

Today, 60 years later, we still have political hate, threats of war, millions of refugees
and suffering all over the world. But today the entertainment industry does not produce soothing tunes. No, the great music of the past has been replaced with intolerable noise. It seems that modern comfort has produced the opposite in us, a desire to disturb and to destroy. Today’s music parallels and emphasizes the chaos of our world.  How else can it be explained that radio programs are sending out blaring noise all day long?  Every time I turn on the radio during day hours I quickly turn it off again. It is unfathomable how anybody can listen to this crap and ENJOY it. I seriously think that there is something very wrong with a person who listens to such screeching noise. Music in itself is meant to entertain, to inspire, and to calm us down, but sadly, the opposite is the case with modern “music”.

Friday, September 9, 2016

It Was Way Too Hot And Muggy Today

When I got up this morning the world looked its greyest. Fog was wavering around the island, the air was cool…and very wet. I went to the hotel to pick up a couple for an island tour.
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The fog prevailed until we started on the return from Head Harbour Lightstation.
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But then the sun broke through the fog and clouds and the temperature started rising and rising and rising….and it kept getting higher and the humidity was still there. It was 1:15pm before I was home, made some lunch and settled on the porch. The heat…..was so intense that it knocked me out in my chair. I assume it made me just sooo tired that I fell asleep (unheard of for me) and when I woke up I was feeling very, very hot, still tired and extremely unwell. When I got up I wobbled inside for a drink. But it didn’t help much. So I stayed inside the cooler house for a while. This was a kind of weather we usually don’t have. But the air came up from the south, without much wind I might add. Imagining that there are lots of people in the south-eastern states that live under similar conditions I know I could not stand it.

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It’s 7pm now and I am still in the shade. It is still 80F and even the next 5 days are gonna stay unusually warm.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

An Evening Tour To The Lightstation, A New Boondocker And A Hike Along The Coast

Yesterday we got another boondocker visiting us on the island. And Toni is a blogger as well. www.Sailingdowntheroad.blogspot.com
Needless to say but there is a ton of stuff to talk about with Toni.
It was a beautiful evening and since it was low tide we decided to show Toni the Head Harbour Lightstation. And thanks to a beautiful sunset It turned out to be one of the greatest walk-overs we ever had to the historic lighthouse.
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But the weather was still holding up today, so I invited her for a hike to the “SunSweep Sculpture”.
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We drove out to Liberty Point from where the 0.6-mile trail starts along the coastal cliffs, offering stunning views across empty rocky beaches.
It is a real jewel to hike along here. Once the trail turns off to Ragged Pont Peninsula we left the trees behind and followed the trail through stands of waist-high wildflowers.
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Looking north, the view goes across another totally deserted cove and beach. There was not the slightest wind and the sea was like a mirror.  We actually met a few people on our return hike and all were smiling and some quite talkative.
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We were back home at around 4:30pm and I had just entered the kitchen when the phone rang off the hook. It was from the Roosevelt Park Visitor center where 2 people were inquiring about taking an Island tour NOW.
So I had to jump in my guide outfit and get back on the road a.s.a.p. It turned out the folks were from Pennsylvania and had never been to Campobello. 2.5hrs later they knew a whole lot more about our island and thanked me over and over again for the tour. I like interested visitors like that.

And here’s a video I did about the island.