Posts Tagged With: Canadian border

Back in the USA

We left Quebec and the Montreal area after yet again another night of rain.  This makes only one night without rain so far. But at least it has been partly sunny most afternoons when we arrive at our destinations.  And the temperatures are upper 40’s at night and upper 50’s daytime. I keep wondering why I packed a swimsuit… what was I thinking?

Ok then, crossing through mostly farmland, once we peeled away from the outskirts of Montreal.  The road is good and drivers seem to keep to the right, except to pass and pretty much stick to the speed limit.  Imagine that. So it isn’t long before we reach the border crossing into New York. Just a few questions and concerns about fresh fruits, particularly citrus, and we are back in the US.  Not in New York long before we cross over Lake Champlain into Vermont. We stop at a welcome center for some local information and meander down the islands until we reach Grand Isle State Park.  Nice spot for two nights, but dry camping (no electric or water hook-ups).

  

Since it is just after noon, we head out to explore nearby Burlington.  A popular spot downtown is Church Street, converted to pedestrian only and lined with very trendy shops, outfitters, restaurants, coffee spots and bars.  There are four colleges in town, so the crowd was young and apparently better off than we were in college, judging from the pricey shops. We found our spot at the Vermont Pub and Brewery and, twist my arm, we ordered a flight.  Probably the Octoberfest was our fave and a raspberry wheat sour.

Further down the road was another spot on our list: Magic Hat Artifactory.  It was quite an eclectic brewery and tap room, with a sort of mardi gras meets carnival theme to it.  Sampling the beer we found the Circus Boy Hefeweisen and Fancy Grade Maple Doppelbok and Heart of Darkness Stout to be the tastiest.  We met another couple also doing the craft beer circuit and learned they were from Maine, so we learned a few tips about the Bar Harbor and Portland area.  Ordered a pizza and headed back to camp.

Next morning’s task was to gas up the motorhome at a station around the corner.  Everything in the motorhome is working just fine, but the generator won’t run if the gas in the tank is below ¼ – so we got maybe 5 minutes out of it last night before it quit.  We usually try to have a nearly full tank before stopping for the night, but we didn’t find a suitable station the day before.  After filling the tank and backing into the campsite again, we were set to head to Waterbury Vermont, home of Ben & Jerry’s, Smuggler’s Notch Distillery and Cabot Cheese.

Of course it had rained overnight, but this was our first day of rain all day.  Good thing we were just doing the tourist route, not searching for wildlife (no sightings so far).  The drive past Burlington and into Waterbury was nice, but still pretty green with only a few pops of color.  We found Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory, along with the several busloads of others. We didn’t take the tour, but did have a hot fudge sundae in the chilly rain.  Next stop was a “made for the tour buses” spot with Cabot’s Cheese (lotta sampling) and SN Distillery (bourbon, vodka sampling). Not as good as the Kentucky Bourbon sampling, sorry.  But we did stop at a cider mill that had amazing cider donuts … yum.  That was also the spot where a winery had samples and the cider mill had hard cider samplings.  Yum.  I should note that most of these samplings come with a minor sampling fee, which is ok, since we are happy to support the local farmers.

 

Further along was the town of Stowe, you know the one — Christmas cards and puzzles are filled with pictures of this town. With all the gold-leaf on the signs, I knew it was probably the Jackson Hole of the East.  We hung a left and wound into the hills … is that music? Not exactly, but our destination was the von Trapp Family Bierhall, yes the one made famous by the family from “Sound of Music” and run by the family (Maria’s grandson).  It was a perfect spot to warm up with some beer cheese soup, bratwurst and apple sauerkraut. The beer was great with the meal – the Vienna Lager tasted crisp and fresh and the Dunkel was a smooth brown lager.

A final stop in Waterbury was a visit to the Green Mountain Coffee Cafe.  The darn “maps” directions dropped us at a very corporate style building with Keurig/Dr. Pepper on the doors and “Welcome” banners out front, so we walked in, went up a floor in the elevator and looked around.  Ummm, don’t think so. And we sure didn’t look the part. Back in the car we saw a cool railroad station across the parking lot and discovered THAT was the cafe. Guess we slipped into the headquarters by mistake.  Good coffee stop.

Now it was time to head back to camp, but we had one last stop at the Zero Gravity brewery, both for a beer and for wifi.  The beer was refreshing, but honestly it did not have the strong flavor profiles of some of our favorites. It was just OK, but the tap room was a really nice spot.  Back in camp, run the generator, fix a dinner salad and head to bed. Tomorrow is another big day.

Thanks for following along.  More New England adventures to come.

 

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Crossing Ontario, Canada

An early sunrise greeted us as we showered and pulled up to head into Canada.  Crossing over the bridge at Sault Saint Marie (oh and it’s Soo, not salt), we looked down on the locks, the rapids and the power canals.  And then we were at the border crossing, handing over our passports. A few questions about where we were headed, firearms and did we have alcohol (yes, just two bottles) and we were waved through.  Wow a lot easier than we thought. Shoulda bought that Kentucky Bourbon after all.

The day was a long drive across the upper shore of Lake Huron and the North Channel, but the scenery was spectacular.  There is so much water: ponds, lakes, rivers, streams, bogs all of which look like they would be perfect for wildlife, especially moose.  We even saw several moose crossing signs, but alas no moose. Plenty of beaver lodges though. We are also seeing the first signs of fall color among the spruces, firs, aspens and birch.  Just some pops of color among the dark evergreens and white trunks.

The first part of the drive had small towns and farmland.  We saw some more sandhill cranes in the cornfields and plenty of geese.  One flock might have had some snow geese mixed in. In some of the farming areas we saw horse and buggy warning signs and we weren’t sure why until we passed a horse and carriage trotting along the wide shoulder.  Neither of us knew if there were Quakers or Mennonites locally, but it seems so. As we got closer to our destination, Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park, the terrain was more rocky, with outcrops along the road covered in reindeer moss and spruce.  Canadians must love stacking rocks, as there were many rock cairns (or totems or hoodoos) on the outcroppings. Some were rather artistic creations, one even had a yellow cape.

The campground was a very nice wooded spot, but the entrance road was way too bumpy – we were pitching left and right and up and down and… well everything seemed to be rattling.  Our site was just across from a stream that ran from a nice lake to the Matawa River, with a nice overlook down 50 feet or so to the water. Once settled in and after a walk with Kodi to find bear or moose (no luck) we sat with our drinks at a table on the edge of the stream.  As we reviewed the day’s travel, we watched several mergansers swimming along. It was really cool.

 

Of course it rained again overnight and the fabric footstools we left outside to dry (from our plumbing adventure) got soaked once again.  But since it was a pull-through site we didn’t have to disconnect the car and it was easy to leave in the moring for our final leg to Ottawa.  The road we travel goes along the Mattawa River, the northern border of Ontario. Lots of water again, ponds, lakes, the river, bogs, several beaver lodges, but no wildlife.  It was an easier day of driving and we got to Wesley Clover Campground, just outside Ottawa and right off the interstate just after noon. Disconnected the car and set up in camp. 

One fun thing in camp are these oversized picnic tables with carved animals on the ends.  It seems that Kodi was quite taken with one.

Jackie discovered (somewhere along the trip in Ohio) that Bernat yarn had come out with special color blends for Christmas, but would only be available in Wal-Marts in Canada.  Well isn’t that lucky for us? So a mission, once we got into Canada, was to find a Wal-Mart and get that yarn. Of course no stores until Ottawa, so once here we hopped in the car to get to a Wal-Mart close by.  Alas, all out. Ah well, guess we will do the brew tour instead.

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Three breweries within 4 miles (er kilometers), so we sampled a little at each.  Covered Bridge brewing had a nice raspberry wheat; Big Rig was a very cool set-up and pretty big, with a delicious pumpkin porter, grapefruit shandy and a porter Jackie liked.  Last stop was Small Pony Barrelworks. All they brewed was barrel-aged sours, so Jackie was kinda out of luck, but I loved it. Sampled all sorts of blueberry, raspberry, sour cherry, elderberry, hibiscus sours, each with a different color and flavor.  What fun. 

Back in camp now, after grilling a nice dinner of boneless chops and brussel sprouts.  Our footstools finally dried so I put them away – which was a good thing because it is now raining once again as I write this blog.  Ah well, at least it really hasn’t rained in the afternoons when we arrive at destinations. Tomorrow is a full day in Ottawa seeing the city and then we pick up and head east just a bit to stay outside Montreal.  Looking forward to a nice Saturday in Ottawa.  

Check back as we post more pictures and stories of our trek to Maine.  Thanks for following along so far.

Doug

 

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