Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Posts from the ‘Maine’ category

On to Canada

Saturday, July 13, 2019

It cooled off in the night, so I got a good night’s sleep. Anxious to get on the road, I made coffee, ate some cereal, hooked up and set the GPS for Laurie Provincial Park near Halifax, a nine-hour drive. Well, it couldn’t find Laurie, so I set it for Halifax. I have three GPS units, the GMC one in the truck that is sometimes possessed, a Garmin I recently added and my phone and it’s Google Maps. 

I wasn’t going to use the possessed GMC, and I didn’t want to burn phone data for nine hours, so I set the Garmin. It said 11 hours, but it had me starting in the right direction. I could check it later. Two hours later I pulled over to find out why I wasn’t getting on I95N. Google Maps gave me a different route, and it was still nine hours to get there. #@*&#!

I traveled some back roads to get back on course. It was pretty, but I was in no mood to enjoy it. Finally I got back on I95 and relaxed a bit. When it said to turn in 100 miles, I turned it off, and then back on when I got close to that mark.

I was still four hours away when I exited onto 1A in a long line of traffic. Was I close to the border?? I got out of line and went the other direction to a Lowe’s parking lot, getting rid of fruits, vegetables and lunch meats. I neatly stacked firewood in the grass. Someone would surely pick it up. 

Getting back on course in the long line of traffic, Google tells me to turn left on some small road. Do I trust it? Shall I ignore it? I have found it best to make my travel plan on the computer, then send it to the phone. Then you are sure, and this is what I did. Was it changing because of all the traffic? A few turns later I got onto Rt. 9 that crosses Maine. It’s a beautiful road with little traffic. Several times I wanted to stop and take some pictures, especially when I got to Moosehorn National Wildlife Preserve, but there were miles to go and lots of work to do.

On my two dashboard GPS’s I saw I was paralleling the Canadian border. I prepared myself for the now-familiar questions: “Where are you going? How long are you staying? Where are you staying? Do you have any alcohol, fruits or vegetables? Any firearms, firewood? I think I’m ready, but it makes me nervous. 

I came to the border at Calais, Maine. This state likes to name places after other famous world places. It wasn’t busy at all. As I waited for one car ahead of me, two agents walked down the side of the truck and trailer, eyeing my toolbox. I had unlocked it and meant to open everything, but never had an opportunity. The officer in the booth motioned me forward and started all the questions. 

He asked, “Where are you from?” I said Keswick, Virginia. “But your license tag says Texas.” I smiled, saying I have been getting that question everywhere. The Virginia tag has a big TX on it, which I think means truck, xtra large. He sang, “That’s right I’m not from Texas.” Immediately I recognized the take-off from one of my favorite artists, Lyle Lovett. I smiled as he resumed the questions. “Any mace or spray?” “Shoot” I said, “I had some bear spray, but I’m pretty sure I took it out.” He motioned me on. At first I thought it might be to the search party ahead, but there was none. I crept forward until I was clear. Then I remembered the last time I came across. I had thrown out a bear spray, and the nice lady said, “Oh you can bring it as long as it is clearly labeled.”

Rt 1A, the Trans-Canada Highway, is a beautiful road here. There was so little traffic, I began wondering what the reasons might be. Was it the economy, the price of gas or that it was Saturday? I passed the turn to St. Andrews, where we had stayed at beautiful Kiwanis Oceanfront Camping, but it was too far out of the way.

I was running out of energy later and knew I would not make it to the Park. I found a reasonable place on the Garmin, but it was 10km away and would take an hour and 15 minutes to get there! I called the campground, but my phone didn’t work. I had been texting Martha. Why wasn’t the phone working?  It wasn’t until later I realized Canada does not have daylight savings time, so it was really an hour later, and I had to turn roaming on.

I finally found a KOA and pulled in. I got the special “walk up” fee, but didn’t complain. It was Saturday and the place was hopping. They had a drive-in movie theater feature that night and a dance. “Will you be joining us for the dance?” “No, I think I will be asleep then. I have been driving all day.”

I pulled up to my spot and backed in. It was just one of those days that it happened to work. A gentleman next door watched, then turned to his friend and said, “Now that’s the way it’s done.” I smiled and said, “SOMETIMES it works out.”

A giant bouncy thing was across the driveway. Kids of all ages were bouncing and yelling. Others were riding bikes around the campground roads. Stuff was going on everywhere. It’s hard to get upset about kids having fun. 

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Profile Stateline Superstore

Friday, July 12, 2019

I wasn’t sure when Tom and Dickey were going to be able to patch my Airstream. Could be today, tomorrow or next week. I didn’t know whether to rebook campgrounds or cancel more, and I didn’t know where to stay tonight. I just knew it wasn’t here.

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I was hungry and needed coffee. A google search took me to Little Miss Sophie’s in Rochester, NH. Like Magrilla’s, this is a happening. The parking lot was full, there are plenty of regulars who know everyone and the staff of ladies are classic waitresses, quick with the comments and very efficient. I sat at the bar and watched the ladies work. I had some excellent corned beef hash, eggs, grits and pancakes. I couldn’t eat it all. What a great place! I asked who Sophie is, and the lady pointed to the wall of pictures. I still don’t know.

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There is a great carwash close to Profile, so I washed the truck. Then I looked to see if it was big enough to wash the trailer, but it wasn’t.

I talked to Martha, and she had found several acceptable hotels in the area. I drove over to Stateline and peeked in the workshop door. Someone had bashed the back window of their Airstream, and probably felt as bad as I did. They were just pulling it into the shop. It’s the busy season. Lots of people are on the road, and stuff happens. We all want to get back on the road. After staying a night in that miserable cabin, I really wanted to sleep in the Airstream tonight.

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I went in and took a propane tank to be refilled, trying not to bother them. There wasn’t much else I could do, so I went into the showroom and went through all the new Airstreams. They had some pretty decent prices, and I think there was room for negotiating. I got some ideas for ours – little things like a little white board and a unique storage hammock that I couldn’t find the name for.

Then I walked around the parts department. I needed to replace an awning hook, but they didn’t have one. There were no white boards or storage hammocks. I’m sure there will be something I need later, but I couldn’t think of it. I went in the back door of the shop and fixed a sandwich. Tom walked by so I asked if I could fix him one. “No”, he said, “but we’re getting ready to start working on yours next.” I quickly finished up and got out of the way. 

I snuck in an hour or so later. Tom was working on the roof while Dickey was working inside. These are all good people at Profile. A couple of hours later I peeked in again. Tom said they were finishing up. I climbed a ladder next to the trailer and took a look. “Wonderful”, I said. Very few shops want you in there. There are also regulations and insurance issues, so I felt very fortunate to be able to come and go. Besides, it is so much fun to see how skilled people work. 

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I went into Paul’s office to pay the bill, but he hadn’t gotten all the details. I offered to get out of the way, as I saw how busy he had been all day, but he said, “No, no. You can stay.” Then he told me they were trying to finish up by 3:00 today. One of their technicians of 17 years had died at 59 years old. The funeral was today. GEEZ! Suddenly it put things in perspective. I had a damaged Airstream while they had lost a valuable colleague. 

I happily paid the bill, as I didn’t want to charge the insurance for this. I wanted to get on the road, but it was a long-day’s drive to Halifax. Maybe I could get in a couple of hours, but Paul recommended I stay here and get a good night’s sleep. They could put the trailer next to the shop where I could plug in and run the fans. He was right, so I took him up on the offer. Again, these are just really good people! I thanked them profusely.

Sitting next to the shop in the sun, it was hot. I took all the clean laundry out of the truck and put it away. I put the clean sheets on the beds, and sorted out things in the truck. It was hot, very hot, and the sun was pouring in through the skylight. After the accident, I had taken the shade off to push the plastic skylight back up, and put it in the truck. Now I needed it, so I retrieved it and tried it in, but it didn’t fit any more. 

For an hour I sliced it, cut it and finally was able to refit it into its distorted space. Finally pulling it closed, the solar heater was damped. I took a cold shower in the trailer, fixed a vodka and orange juice, had dinner and went to my comfortable, clean bed. 

Then the thunderstorm came. All this heat and humidity had to produce a storm. I guess it made a good leak test, so I kept looking for one. Wonderful, there was no leak. Tom said he was 95% sure it would be leak-free. In the middle of the night I heard a small stream of water fall onto the floor. I quickly got up to sop it up in a towel. There was a low area beside the skylight that apparently collected a pool of water. After sitting there for a couple of hours, it found a way through all the caulk. I would have to see to that at some point. 

A Day in Lebanon

Friday, July 11, 2019

We got an early start for Boston, leaving a little before 6:00. An hour and a half trip without traffic, we made it in a little over two after stopping at McDonald’s for breakfast. Boston is a busy, hectic city. Kelly jumped out of the truck in front of the train station, grabbing his bags. We said a quick goodbye in heavy traffic. Yesterday Melanie Brittingham shared this video on Facebook, and it is just the way I felt driving in and out of Boston……well, except for the food court. In the video people were driving 115 miles an hour, and she is a country girl, who had never driven the New Jersey Turnpike. This may not play on the blog.

Thankfully, I didn’t miss any turns getting out of the city, and then traffic settled down. I began sorting out things I needed to do. I had left a note on the door of the Airstream saying I was worried about rain this afternoon, and could they cover it in some way? I told them I would be back about noon.

Now the whole Newfoundland trip for two months is dramatically changed. We would have to stay in B&B’s and eat every meal out. I’m sure Martha would like this, but it will make it tremendously more expensive. How would I get all these clothes in the truck? What would I do with the food in the referigerator? I needed a better cooler. The ice in my current one lasts about a day. At Walmart I bought several tote bags to put clothes in, as I don’t have a suitcase. I didn’t find a decent cooler, so I went to a marine supply and bought a soft one that you put ice substitute in. That may work out better, since I can put the ice substitutes in the freezer every night. I canceled the first two campgrounds.

Back at Profile, they had moved the Airstream inside their huge shop. I went in to see what was going on. Paul said to come in and sit down. Oh dear! He had a new estimate of the cost of repair. The entire roof would need to be replaced, as it is all one piece. In order to replace three ribs, all the cabinets would have to come out of the inside. I was devastated when he told me the price, which was almost what I paid for the trailer. That sick feeling came back. Dickey had come in to listen, and Lisa stood at the door. They all looked very concerned. All I could say was to submit the claim and see what happens.

I went to a laundry and did several loads of wash. I’ve done my share of laundromats, but I couldn’t figure out why my credit card didn’t work. I tried a second, turned it around all possible ways, but didn’t work. I asked a gentleman on my left, and he took me over to the pay machine where you put your credit card in and get a laundry credit card. Sheez! Now I have to guess how much I will spend. I had to get a second one for the dryer, but didn’t use all the money, so I gave it to a couple who were just starting.

I needed a place to stay. I have been in so many campgrounds with cute, little cabins, I thought I would try one. The first campground was full, as it is the peak of camping season. I went to a KOA, which was also very busy, but they had one. Whew, at least I could take a shower and sit and think. 

I was very disappointed when I opened the door to the cabin. It wasn’t clean, no sheets on the bed, two bunk beds with nothing but pads on them. There were no pots, pans or utensils. Luckily, I had all the wash in the truck, which included sheets, and I had a stainless steel drinking bottle I could drink out of. How would I do coffee in the morning? Fortunately there was instant hot water that was hot enough for coffee, and I had one Starbucks straw left. I want my Airstream back!

I was hungry and Googled restaurants. I opted for Magrilla’s in Rochester, NH, which was rated well. Then I got a call from Paul. He said Tom and Dickey had seen how devastated I was, and wondered if I would just like to patch it up to get me back on the road? They could put a piece of aluminum over the hole, push the roof up as much as possible and seal everything. “What? Say that again. Yes, yes I would LOVE that. Thank you soooo much!” I texted Martha.

I found Magrilla’s and went in. Pat greeted me like I was an old friend, handed me a menu and asked if I would like a drink. “Yes I would!” I asked for his recommendation for dinner. Taking his advice, I ordered mushroom ravioli with grilled chicken. It was great and the wine helped. It was like I was in Cheers. Some regulars sat around a rectangular bar. The young lady bartender knew them all, and so did Pat. A group of runners came in one by one until there were 12 of them. Pat joined the group, talking in a circle by the front door. He came by my table and said they come every Thursday, go for a run and then have dinner. 

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There was a family of four by the front window, also regulars, probably grandparents taking the kids out for the evening. The two little girls, maybe 9 and 11, kneeled in their chairs to play some game between them. With good news Paul, I enjoyed the spirit of this place and the friendly atmosphere.

I was very tired when I got back to the cabin, so I had no trouble going to sleep at 8:00, but I woke up at 3:00. In the dark, I slowly made my way to the showers. Thankfully, they were nice. I fixed my one cup of coffee and tried to wrap my head around another change. “The cheese moves. Move with the cheese.” I have to read that book.

Wendell Gilley Art Museum

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47℉ at 6:30 am, cloudy, high 57℉

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

We spent the better part of the morning doing laundry and cleaning up inside the trailer. A visit to the Wendell Gilley Museum was the next order of the day. I spent a lot of time there in 2012 while Martha took a bike tour in the park. I love this place! Mr. Gilley was a plumber for most of his life. He had a very successful business on the island, having four employees. In his mid-50’s he began carving birds as a hobby. The museum has a great film interview of him 35 years ago. The young girl who interviewed him for the film still works at the museum, and came up to talk to us after watching it. You can see his soft manner and speech, telling how he got started and how it progressed. He gave his first tiny decoy to a secretary of a local business. Years later, after he had become famous, she gave it back to him, saying he should have his original carving. He made her a new one in exchange. He said he could work with drills and sanders, but holding the wood in his hands, he could feel the bird as it developed, and feel what he needed to change. Working for a special client, he tried hard to make a great carving and kept failing. He said his best work came when he just carved, letting the work flow. He had a great little shop to work in, saying he enjoyed the quiet hours alone. He finally sold his plumbing business and spent all his time carving.

One room of the museum has his original workbench and tools. A very nice gentleman, Steven Valleau,  carves at another table. He has been carving for 30 years or more and teaches classes. In the winter there is a 6-month course, but there are also 1-day or multiple-day courses (http://www.wendellgilleymuseum.org/education/workshops.html). The museum is an active place where artists come to see or practice or show their work. A cabinet holds work of some of the students. A man talked with Steven about his own carvings, what he was doing and what he needed help with.

We spent an hour or so marveling at Mr. Gilley’s many carvings. I have often thought of carving, so I bought his book and Martha bought some placemats. I love this active museum. Mr. Valleau said it was well worth a trip to visit Mr. Gilley’s cousin, who also carves. We saw a sign for his house on our drive yesterday. If we pass it again, we will go in.

Bar Harbor and Acadia Mountain

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47℉ at 6:00, high 72℉

Monday, October 17, 2016

We had to move sites in the campground in order to stay a couple of more nights, but the weather is looking good for the rest of the week and there is so much to see here. We drove to the Hinkley Boatyard to drool over the prettiest boats I have seen. Then we took the loop drive around the southern tip of the western side of the island, or what is known as the Quiet Side. There is a beautiful coastal view at the bottom after which the road takes you to Bass Harbor.

Then we drove over to meet Diego, Andrea and Isaac for lunch, more great food and company. We drove them to the airport for their connector flight to Boston. It is bigger and nicer than the Abaco airport in Marsh Harbor, Bahamas, but similar. We watched with great amusement as the little 9-seat plane was loaded. They put the luggage in the nose of the plane with little room to spare. Then the very overweight pilot comes out, checks everything and boards. Passengers must give their weights so the plane can be evenly distributed. Isaac got in the back and had very little headroom. We stayed to watch the takeoff just to be sure. Fortunately all went well and we later found out everyone reached their destinations fine. Whew! As we watched all this, a mid-sized jet came in. Only two passengers got off and the plane stayed put while they took a taxi somewhere. It was a couple, maybe in their 40’s. Wonder who that was.

We hiked Acadia Mountain on the way back. There are lots of steps climbing up giant rocks, but it is only a mile to the top from which the view is spectacular. Looking south, you can see Southwest Harbor and the Hinkley boatyard. Fall colors dotted the forests all around. We sat and soaked it all up for 20 minutes before heading back down. Martha grumbled something about walking flat trails from now on. I admit all the fallen pine needles make you cautious about slipping. A fall here would not be good, but this is a beautiful, very cool trail to a spectacular view.