Saturday, June 27, 2015

Help! Invasion On Campobello!

Intern. MarathonIt’s time for the 3rd. International Marathon from Lubec to Campobello Island. The Marathon starts at the West Quoddy Lighthouse in Lubec,ME then going over to our own Head Harbour light Station and back to Lubec.
west quoddy                                      Above: West Quoddy Lighthouse
DSC_0124                                        Head Harbour Light Station
We have in excess of 700 registered runners and each has brought family members and friends. About 4000-5000 people are currently in the region and have taken up every single hotel room, every single B+B capacity and every empty RV-lot in an area of minimum 100 miles south and east of us. To get a hotel room you’d have to travel 3 hrs south to Bangor,ME.

I intended to cross the border today, but had to turn around, as the waiting line-up of cars trying to get through Canada Customs was a mile long! It would have taken me at least 3 hours to get back to the island. I wonder what other island visitors must have thought when getting caught in that line-up. It was not a good day to travel to Campobello.

And I had other things to do as neighours had asked me to build a garden staircase from their deck. I finished the project around 4pm and after a nice coffee with them I retired on our porch.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

When The Fog Horns Sound

When the fog horns sound from Head Harbour and the American shoreline the world is lulled in a wet blanket and all other sounds have ceased. Each fog horn has its own frequency and while the rhythm between the two is irregular, it sounds like they compete with each other. The big maple leaves are dripping of the fog, and the edge of the forest becomes a secretive wall. I trudge along the street where nobody is out yet. The houses seem to be uninviting, like they have enough with themselves today.
Farther across, the bay is cloaked in a grey mass. No ships are out there. Too dangerous for navigation.

After a while the fog is lifting off and the world turns out its colours. Where it was grey before it turns blue and green and finally, through a hole, the sun peeks out, bathing us in warming rays.

It’s gonna be another nice day.
DSC_0088 3

Friday, June 19, 2015

CAMPOBELLO–Tourism Today And Yesterday

Sure, it is a long, long time ago since Campobello was a luxurious tourist resort.
1-DSC_0519Campobello around 1900, large open fields where forest has grown up today

Rich families from New England came to this island in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and the Roosevelts were only one of these families making Campobello their favorite summer residence.
1-DSC_0520-002                         Tyn-y-coed and Tyn-y-maes Hotels

And even though the large hotels are long gone, they got a place in our local history. When they were dismantled high-quality materials were recycled into private residences.
1-DSC_0520-001                       Historic ferry between Campobello and Lubec,ME

But isn’t there a beginning renaissance of a new life on Campobello? Aren’t there new generations of visitors coming to discover a lost paradise?
1-DSC_0520-003                          Old dock beneath Roosevelt Cottage (far right)
1-DSC_0521Map of southern part of Campobello showing Roosevelt Park and Provincial Park areas.

For years the Roosevelt International Park and the historic Head Harbour Light Station have been the main attractions and they are still attracting thousands of visitors every summer. But islanders have not been resting on their throne.
New enterprises have been seeing the light of day.
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One of the newest attractions is “Jocie’s Porch”.
It started out as a coffee- and teahouse. Coffee is actually made here from raw coffee beans, roasted to make a full aromatic coffee you will not find anywhere else in any coffee house around the world. “Porch Coffee” simply is the best.
1-DSC_0526-001            Eastern view from International Bridge towards Lubec shoreline

But of course the place offers other delicacies as well, as f.ex. home-made cakes and pastries and something called “Friars Bay Fog”. We do not know what this is made of other than some tea is involved. It’s a trade secret you have to try out yourself.
Every Friday Jocie’s Porch arranges for Java + Jam. Local musicians and folk who like to sing or play an instrument are gathering here to entertain a crowd of island enthusiasts for 2hours of social togetherness. And the crowd is International, with Americans from several States and Canadians from several Provinces. Tonight we saw license plates from Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Florida, Massachusetts, Vermont, New York, even Colorado and Arizona.
1-DSC_0534                                        Owners Angela and Bobby

1-DSC_0535                                Friday crowd listening to local musicians

It’s informal and you go in whatever you just walk in. Owner Bobby and his mother Angela are taking care of you and after a few minutes you feel like you never belonged anywhere else. The place offers also wireless internet which is a great thing on Campobello for visitors as also locals who like to come browsing the net and checking their email.

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If you just want to sit around for a few morning- or afternoon hours and read a book (they offer an interesting library as well) you can just hunker down on the porch having your favorite brew of coffee or tea.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


The little town of Lubec, Maine offers a very unique experience, called Summerkeys. Besides of many educational music courses, they now also have courses in photography and creative writing. This has been going on since 1992 and Summerkeys have contributed to developing tourism industry in a big way. “Summerkeys” was established by Bruce Potterton in honouring his mother Mary (1905-1993), who came from a very muscial family. She even helped in the start-up phase.
Lubec church
For us it is the weekly concerts in the  Congregational Christian Church that puts a highlight on our place on Campobello.
Every Wednesday we have the opportunity to drive 5km crossing the border to attend a wonderful concert, and yesterday the first concert of the seaon took place at 7:30pm EDT.

It was a piano concert performed by John Newell, a renown composer and pianist, born in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Listening to his performance I was marvelling how  a gifted composer can look out the window and transform dancing snow flakes into a musical adventure. (Claude Debussy)

Newell’s short piece called “Winter Winds” made me freeze when I envisioned a brutal winter storm howling across the sea. It’s like painting a picture but instead of paint and paintbrush the composer uses his feeling to put the keys on paper.

Summerkey’s concerts attracts a weekly crowd of adults 50+ years old. Rarely we see young people among the crowd.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Last 14 Hours of Day 7

1-DSC_0482                                  HOME!
Starting in Danville, PA we went back on the road right around 6:30am. Our plan was 2 hrs. driving 2hrs sleeping in the van.
1-DSC_0434Yes, we had made room on the front bench so a person could actually sleep quite comfortably (spoon-style) while the other was driving.
1-DSC_0362We pretty much kept going like that through the entire day and I must say it made a difference. Whenever one of us took over driving again we felt quite rested and fit for another 2hrs.
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While it was still very hot and muggy in Danville it changed a lot as we climbed up in elevation and got into the State of New York. Weather stayed pleasant all day long and we relished the much drier air we could breathe now.
I really understand why so many people are driving north in the summer.
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New Hampshire is also selling Lottery tickets and Alcohol along the highway. It would make for a good reason to call the cops in our former country of residence, NORWAY, where it would spark a National outrage.
Towards the end of the day we noticed Molly getting a bit restless and we felt it too: It was time to end this trip and get home for a long rest. This was day 7 afterall and we all were getting tired of being on a constant move.
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We still had to get by the city of Boston and with this being a Saturday I-495 turned out to be a real challenge for our patience. The 6-lane highway was clogged with cars and more were entering at every access ramp.
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But finally even that lay behind us and when we crossed from New Hampshire into Maine the highway cleared. The air was full of intensive pine scent and we knew that we would be home very soon.
1-DSC_0447                               Empty: Maine Coastal Hwy 1
Travelling through Maine is the kind of experience any vehicle could relish. It is you and the road and the seemingly endless highway through green forests. We were both thinking of what difference this was compared to the hectic, stinking traffic and polluted air in Edmonton.
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After a short shopping stop at Wally World in Ellsworth we another 3hrs to our home base.

Passing our customs office on Campobello proved to be the same friendly meeting as we are used to. The officer could hardly believe it when he heard we been driving all the way from Alberta. It’s just not what most people would be doing, so it seems.

Arriving at our house was like a party, a joyful reunion with the past. And not only for us but for Molly also. Even though it was dark by now, Molly inspected the place and came back with an old bone, she had dropped last year. Molly is one big happy here and so are we.
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We just flipped on the breakers for power and went to bed.

Most of the work of emptying our van was done this morning. I could hardly believe how much stuff we had been traveling with. It seemed like we could fill up the entire house with it. But as things were put back where they belonged everything got back to order.

And then in the afternoon we got a bad message from Edmonton. Our friend there told us that a storm had brought down a big branch from a nearby tree where our trailer is parked and landed against the rear wall of our trailer, breaking through the material leaving a gaping hole above the rear window.
How we are going to get this fixed is still unclear.

Now, that this trip is over we thank you for following us along.
Other postings about Island living might come along shortly.

Friday, June 12, 2015

With Potato Salad And Wieners In Danville, PA (Day6)

The rains had left but the humid heat with temps around 30-32C (90sF) continued all day long. Getting out of the van was like stepping into an overheated greenhouse. We ran up I-80 all the way and paid tolls seeing most all of our saved Dollar bills fly out. One of the attendants said it right out: Highway Robbery!
1-DSC_0346                                                 Bridge over I-80
I decided that it was a good time to get into a Quick Lube for an oil and filter change. This was done for 44 Bucks in place close to I-80. In Canada that would have been over 120 Bucks!!!
1-DSC_0350                         This guy coming right out of the civil war???
They checked lights, tire pressure, belts and made that dash-oil-light go away again. Figuring out that we were from Canada a young woman working there told us that she almost moved to Calgary. I told her that she wouldn’t be happy there as she most likely didn’t have a clout about sky-high housing costs and the generally unappealing city.
1-DSC_0353                                                   Highway pleasure
The whole thing took about an hour and we got back on I-80 East.
1-DSC_0360                   Beautiful Pennsylvania Farm with owners’s motor home
Gas prices seem to be rising by the hour. Indiana had already 2.99/gal up 20cts from the previous day and underway we have seen $2.85-2.89 many places in Pennsylvania.

We stopped in Danville, PA for the night and after moving into our room I drove into town to find a grocery store. I was bound to find potato salad and wieners. Entering the WEIS-Market was a most pleasant experience. The store is really inviting, has a lot to choose from and competitive with its prices. 
Before I knew it I had 2 1/2gal of juice, a pack of cheese, a box of most delicious blueberry Danishes, Wieners and a box of potato salad, all balancing in my arms. Why didn’t I take a basket or a cart?  Because I hadn’t expected to buy anything else than Wieners and potato salad! That’s why.
I’m sure you have done the same….ending up with buying more than you initially intended. That’s how these stores make their money. Yet I paid only 16 Bucks for all of my stuff. Way less than a visit at the local restaurant would have been.

We ate like hungry wolves and the potato salad with Wieners was just fantastic.

Meanwhile dark clouds have moved in over town and already we hear remote thunder claps approaching. Hopefully, this will lead to cooler temps. We are sure glad we got a new AC installed in our van. We would have been melting if we hadn’t.

Will we reach Campobello Island tomorrow? It’s almost 12hrs driving left from Danville. Come on by again to check it out. Most likely we will not be up to a posting before the day after tomorrow.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Rain, Rain, Rain …..and more Rain (Day5)

First of all I am thrilled that I can use Live-Writer again. I really thought I had seen the end of this rather practical application. I just hate the blogger editing software.
Today’s drive started in rain and ended in rain. It was raining most of the time and when we stopped for a leg-stretcher somewhere in Indiana a thunderstorm added to our pleasure.
At times the pelting rain was so bad that I was considering to just pull over. 
1-DSC_0342Traffic on I-80 south of Chicago was terrible. In fact, I never saw it this bad before ever. We were surrounded by trucks. And from time to time a full idiot big-city-driver was adding to our entertainment by zapping between the lanes.
1-DSC_0337                                       Bea walking in a rest area
We also saw a car making intimate contact with a guardrail, where after it made an involuntary cross over 2 lanes, all that with no other vehicles hitting it. Lucky bastard!
Tonight we are holed up in South Bend, IN where we have been a couple of times earlier. Our highlight in this town is Elia’s Greek Restaurant which still serves HUGE portions at prices not even Mc.Donald can compete with. And it is all home made!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

More Saskatchewan, North Dakota And Wisconsin. (Day 3+4)

After a full day of resting at our friend's place we were ready to get back on the road and we were out and rolling at 6:45am. After the previous day's terrible heat this promised to be a fine day with somewhat cooler temps. Our destination was the little rural town of Underwood,ND where our long-time friends Diania and Glenn are residing. 

Rouleau, a little village at Hwy 39 was location for the making of the Corner Gas TV-series, and while we had driven along that place before we had never stopped to take a closer look. This time we did and I was thinking of AL from the Bayfield Bunch who visited the place just last fall. Did I see his foot prints in the sand? I sure did!

Just before we reached Estevan we stopped at the Souris Valley Museum and Visitor Centre. Three nice young ladies were ready to inform visitors about the area which became an economic boom area when coal was discovered. Some real huge machinery is on display at the visitor centre.

The trip through the southern part of Saskatchewan was mainly uneventful, if we don't count the traffic chaos at Estevan. We were just on top of a bridge when traffic ahead of us stopped dead in its tracks. Being on the bridge we could see far ahead and what we saw was discouraging. 

The line-up of trucks and cars was endless. And we could see a few yellow construction signs as well. This was nothing for yours truly. When the oncoming lane was available we dashed ahead in the left lane to a turn-off where we could turn around. There is another border crossing straight south of Estevan and it's only 9.5miles away.
The border crossing was reminding me of an abandoned ghost town - it was that empty of cars and activity. The female officer looked like we had disturbed in her noon nap, but she proved to be efficient and we were through the border before we knew it.

North Dakota lay before us and another 2.5hrs brought us to Underwood where our friends were in full preparation mode to get their potluck-style supper ready. And what a supper that turned out to be.

Grilled and marinated chicken, vegetables, potato salad, more salad plus an incredible dessert. California wine was on the table as well. Thanks Diania,Glenn, Carolyn and Dick for this Welcome-Meal and a great evening.

After breakfast and a morning chat around the table, our 4th day started right around 7:30. Hwy 83 brought us down to I-94 which we have followed all day through North Dakota, Minneapolis and finally into Wisconsin where we found a Super 8 at Baldwin,WI.
Underway we stopped at a truck-stop called Clearwater, where they had an incredible bakery.
The above pastry, enough for 2 people, was only 1 Dollar and a coffee was 99cts. What a place!

Tomorrow we will be driving through Illinois and into Indiana, maybe even reach beyond.

But that will be a story for another day.