Day: August 8, 2016

Crossing the Border

Some of you know the story from our last trip about crossing the border, so I was nervous. How many pocket knives do I have? You can only carry two bottles of wine. I had been using a tarp to cover the bikes in the truck and to also cover the cook box, but I figured this is an invitation to get searched, so I removed the tarp. Thankfully it wasn’t raining. We had a four and a half hour drive to Mont Tremblant, but then you have to add time for driving with a trailer, or getting lost, or being old and having to stop more than once. Then I allowed for one to two hours at the border, so we were off about 8:15. 

There was a short line at the border. I was worried about looking nervous, so I turned the air conditioner up a bit. Were my pupils dilated? Then it was our turn. “Bonjour” she said. “Where are you going? How long are you staying? Can you roll the back windows down? So I see you are camping, fishing, kayaking and biking. What else are you doing” All said with a pleasant smile. When I told here we were staying four months, she said, “Ah, four months in Canada. Good! Do you have fresh fruits or vegetables? How much wine?” When I told her two bottles, she asked why only two with a smile. Now I am smiling. She said you can bring two bottles per person, or it could be four bottles of vodka. A bit more friendly conversation and she wished us a great time and let us go. What a pleasant and nice lady! At 8:45 we were in Canada and on the road to Montreal. 

As we approached Montreal, traffic got busier. Then I felt like I was in DC with people driving crazy, zipping in and out of lanes, cutting in front with feet to spare. I thought when we picked up 15N it would be better, but it got worse and people were driving more madly. When we stopped to get some lunch and gas up, there were lines at the pump and the parking area was overflowing. I suspected a holiday and it’s Friday. It was still nuts as we got into the mountains and the parking lot was filled at the campground office. By the time we checked in, I asked what holiday is this? She said it is construction holiday, the busiest of the year, when all construction workers get time off. 

We found our campsite and I set up while Martha fixed some sandwiches. We were both tired and hungry, but it is a very nice campsite with electric and water. Our fresh water still tasted a bit funny from sanitizing it, so we decided to drain it. Martha said there was a path right across from us leading to the beach, so we walked down to the beach. Looking across Lac Chat you could see what I assume is Mont Tremblant. There is a stream flowing out of the lake where it looks like a perfect fishing spot. Across the lake I could see canoes in an obvious rental location. I would later learn it is $47/day to rent one and similar for a kayak. I should have bought the bike rack and put the canoe on top! Could have run a little business!

We came back to camp and I had a glass of wine and Martha promptly fell asleep in the camp chair. Still sweating from setting up camp and the short hike, I decided to go for a swim. there were probably 25 people on the beach and all of them happy. The water was cold at first, but once all the way in, it was great! I swam out a bit enjoying the beautiful scenery all around and felt refreshed. Back at camp we enjoyed watching four young men setting up a large tarp and tent, then chopping firewood. They had gear, but not exactly top of the line stuff, and a couple of them looked like they were totally new to camping. Then a middle-aged couple came in next to the boys. We couldn’t believe the amount of gear they had in the back of a tiny car, but they certainly knew what they were doing and set up a good looking camp with a tent and big tarp. Then it started to rain. Soon it was raining very hard, so we came inside and even had to close the door as it was coming down sideways. We had to close most of the windows. It is then you realize the importance of two more awnings. One, they keep the sun out and two, they keep the rain out. We felt for the boys, sitting under their tarp at the picnic table, now starting to put on more clothes. We felt very cozy in our Airstream. Then the power went out. At first I assumed it was our site, and our plug was bad, so I checked all that out, turning the breakers on and off. The fellow who sold us the trailer had a voltmeter plugged in by the door. I thought that was a great idea, so I bought one. Now as I tried different thing to restore power, Martha kept watching the voltmeter, but there was nothing. I walked to the campsite behind me and knocked on the door, scaring the poor lady to death, I asked if they had power. All their lights were on, and the nice young man at first said, “yes”, but then said, “let me check”. Then he said no, he was running on batteries and thanked me for alerting him. As I walked back, a young lady from another site asked me if we had water. She couldn’t get water pressure. Now I could tell her it was a bigger power outage from the storm. 

Now I checked our batteries and we were at 12.5, which is about half power, so I plugged the trailer into the truck and started the engine for a while. No solar, no generator!

Frederick Remington Art Museum

We drove 35 miles to Ogdensburg so Martha could get online and pay bills and we wanted to go to the Remington Art Museum. My bike brakes needed help also. All drives along the St. Lawrence River seem to be scenic byways, and this was certainly a pretty drive, although this area is very dry, and I AM SO TIRED OF HOT!!! Although very pleasant early, it got up to 93 degrees. I can’t imagine what it is back home. Still don’t have WIFI and I have used up most of my phone data for the next seven days, so I can’t really do emails or surf the net. 

We found the public library so I left Martha there and went to Crow Bike Rental and Repair where I met Betsy. Her repair guy was at the warehouse, but she suggested leaving the bike while we go to the museum. then she suggested “The Busy Corner” for lunch and to take the River Walk. What a nice lady! By the time I got back to the library, Martha was ready for lunch. “The Busy Corner” is a great little place where you can’t pay with credit card because that 3% charge is probably a big part of their profit margin. 

The Remington Museum is great. A small museum in a beautiful house, which was donated. Our guide, Frank, gave us a good history about the house as well as Remington and his wife. I love western art and horses, so this is right up my alley. I also love dental laboratory work, so I was fascinated by the technique for casting bronze. The paintings were very cool, and interesting to see that he struggled with colors and mixing colors. His paint kit looked like something you could buy at the Dollar Store. I couldn’t believe they let me take pictures, as most museums don’t allow it. I almost felt guilty about it, so I was just snapping pictures knowing I didn’t have a lot of time. I would love to go back.

Tomorrow being a travel day, we gassed the truck up on the way back to camp and I loaded up while Martha fixed dinner. You can’t carry fruits, fresh vegetables or firewood across the border, so Martha built a fire – despite being about 90 degrees – and cooked potatoes, onions, carrots and pork chops on the fire. 

We ran the air conditioner all night – Sheez!

Wellesley Island State Park

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Martha wants this one!

Martha wants this one!

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A little statue with a sign that says, "Welcome to serenity"

A little statue with a sign that says, “Welcome to serenity”

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It’s nice to have bikes to explore a campground and that’s what we did this morning. It is a nice park with everything you can think of – marina, boat launch, great playgrounds, beach, store and a nature center. While Martha fixed a nice salad for lunch, I inflated the tires with a pump I bought for the trip. Tires were such an issue on our previous trip, I am trying to cover all the bases and do the right things. I still need to alter the hitch now that we have it fully loaded. We are putting too much pressure on the back tires of the truck. After lunch I worked on the blog while Martha read a book. 

At 4:00 we went into Clayton, having to cross that bridge again, but this time Martha drove and was totally unconcerned. Clayton is a cute little town on the St. Lawrence. We were scheduled for a sunset cruise on the Clayton Islands Cruise at 6:30, but Martha wanted to go to the library to get WIFI and pay bills. Unfortunately the library was closed so we went to a little restaurant, sat at the bar and had a beer and appetizers. Matt was sitting next to us and we struck up a conversation. After much discussion, it turns out he lived in Ft. Mill, South Carolina where our friends Karen and Nathan live! 

The cruise was nice, although it doesn’t threaten the top 10. There are very cool houses on islands and along the shoreline that are very cool. It always amazes me when you travel any shoreline, how many people have such boats and vacation houses. You would have to ice skate to these most of the year! I liked the one shaped like a steamboat the best while Martha liked the one that looked like an Italian villa – not doubt a nice one! We saw an osprey, an eagle, a loon, lots of cormorants and a blue heron. The sunset was gorgeous, so all-in-all a good trip.

Tomorrow we must get some groceries, do some laundry and pay bills because Friday we cross the border and go to Mont-Tremblant National Park for a week.

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