Snowbirding 101

Chasing the changing leaves

Pristine natural beauty and rich history highlighted this part of the journey

This is a new way for us to travel—we don’t usually move this much, this often or this fast and it takes some getting used to. Before, we would travel for a time, then stay put for a while. So far on this excursion, the only times we stayed in one place for any length of time were in Halifax and then in Little Narrows and even then it was only for a week or so.

Well, we met some folks at an RV park in Saint John, New Brunswick, who suggested that if we were going to Maine, we had to see Acadia National Park. They proceeded to give us directions on how to get there. We then had our next target destination.

Our time in New Brunswick just happened to be the worst ongoing weather we had experienced on the whole trip—the sky just opened up and let loose with all its wet and mighty glory—so we didn’t do any touring around there.

It was still raining when we got to the border crossing at St. Stephen. We added crossing the border at St. Stephen to our “do not want to repeat” experiences.

Car in tow, we carefully picked our way right through the narrow turn-of-the-century (20th century) streets of downtown St. Stephen, through a parking lot (the duty-free shop) and then someone let us into the waiting line that stretched as far back as the other side of the downtown (need I say, we were not terribly popular).

My suggestion? If you can find an alternate border crossing, by all means, try it. I know St. Stephen is a quaint, picturesque town, but it leaves much to be desired as a place to cross the border from Canada into the U.S. Once we made it through we headed down to Bar Harbor, Desert Mountain Island and Acadia National Park in Maine.

Bar Harbor is a hustle-bustle tourist town and we ended up taking a couple of unplanned tours around town when we took wrong turns and ended up in overcrowded parking lots. We had to unhitch the car in order to get out but the area is beautiful and the leaves had started their transformation.

Acadia National Park includes a cluster of islands (mainly Mount Desert Island) in southeast Maine not far from Bar Harbor. Winding tree-lined roads wander up and down hills from the rocky beaches along the shore to the dense forests.

The entire area is steeped in a rich history—spanning from prehistoric remnants of ancient peoples through French settlements to art colonies and the estates of the rich and famous.

The roadways are dotted with well appointed cottages set behind impenetrable gates.

Early transportation

Starting in 1913, John D. Rockefeller Jr. initiated the building of a network of what they call carriage roads to accommodate his passion to build roads and travel the byways of the area on horseback or carriage with no motor vehicle traffic. They are quite an engineering feat—narrow broken stone roads with large granite block guardrails that go on for over 45 miles.

Not unlike so many camping places in Canada, parks and services in Maine tend to close down at the end of October. We had only a few days to explore the area and Acadia Park. We ended up doing a WalMart stay the last night because the campground was closing for the season.

New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania literally flashed by—all I really remember is a zillion-billion semi-trailer trucks whizzing by and watching red tail lights as we were boxed in on all sides by big white trailers or trees you couldn’t see above, below or around. We did make a point of stopping into the visitor information centre for each state. I must tell you that Connecticut welcomes RVs to stay overnight in their rest areas. The one we stayed in left the buildings open all night and had security there. It felt so good to be wanted. Super highways have never been my favourite and this was no exception so I was most relieved when we stopped in Virginia to explore the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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