A Chitty Sitcheeashun and a One Trip Overkill to Canadia, Eh?

Showing off my considerable panorama skills. No, I wasn’t drunk, but Joe looked skinny so he was a fan.

Maine, Part Deux, and Canadia, Parts Un & Deux

We wanted to skip on over to Canada (or Canadia, as the hubs calls it) without taking our camper, so for Part Deux of our Maine stay we picked a KOA campground in Houlton, Maine, just a couple miles from the Canadian border.

We scored a nice end spot, and overall the campground was neat and well-cared for, better than most. Moving day sucks in general (picture making your house mobile once a week to get what I mean) but there’s always a twinge of excitement too: What will the next campground be like? Will there be bears and moose and no trumpers and we’ll meet our new best friends who are as cool as us (yes, I understand the bar is low)? OOOh, the possibilities are limited only by the camping imagination!

Inevitably when we arrive we see that there are no bears or moose, and we don’t know who in their right mind gave this place a five, but hope does spring eternal, eh? Without hope for better, I presume humanity would just melt down into a puddle of depressed goo and call it a day.

Joe planned an overnight trip and hotel stay at the Chateau Saint John in Saint John, New Brunswick, so we could explore the Bay of Fundy and whatever else might catch our eye.

Although the room was pretty normal in terms of a mid-range hotel, I hadn’t realized just how affected I’d been by our new RV lifestyle. I was agog at the size of the place, plopping my booty down on the FULL-LENGTH couch and calculating that our room was twice the size of our camper. Not only that, but I mentally installed a small kitchenette next to the wardrobe and declared that I could totally live here.

[On the bright side, when we do decide to buy a house again it should be affordable…anything the size of a hotel room and I’ll feel like a queen.]

Saint John is home to the Reversing Falls, which we eventually came to understand as a function of the ocean meeting the Saint John River—when the tide’s low the “falls”—more like rapids or eddying pools of water—go in the direction of the bay, and when it’s high tide they reverse and go upriver. According to this link, “five thousand years ago, sea level was 30 meters or 100 feet lower in this area. Native people living here at that time enjoyed an impressive waterfall!” Now? Think whirlpools.

I wouldn’t bother going onto the Skywalk, a paid attraction, because the views are better from the bridge and the park on the other side anyway, and they’re both free.

As we walked across the bridge I was touched to see a series of messages aimed at stopping people from leaping into the churning waters below. My humble gratitude…

The next day we drove the Fundy Trail Parkway before heading back to the campground and the Good Ol’ US of A. I confess I hadn’t missed the country I call home due to all the political turmoil and general slide into the horrors of Gilead. We paid $11 each to explore the Bay of Fundy coastline, a true beauty which put me in mind of the drive along the California coastline.

Unbeknownst to Us, a Chitty Sitcheeashun Unfolds Back at Camp

I was nervous about leaving Tootie alone in the camper overnight, a reminder of why I’d initially planned the trip without the comfort or concerns of traveling with companion critters.

Joe assured me that the camper was the same as a little house, meaning that while we were gone Tootie would have electric (i.e. air conditioning) as well as her meals and a clean litterbox all available to her. She’d be fine.

I fretted “what if” the power went out, or “what if” someone broke in, or “what if” a bad storm blew across while we were away. Would Mommy’s Little Girl be ok?

I let my daughter know where we were staying—just in case the worst should happen—so she could rush up to re-rescue my little Tootiekins.

It would turn out that there WAS a bad storm while we were in Saint John, and the cozy, sleep-inducing pitter patter of rain on the roof is far from the reality of enduring a storm in the equivalent of a rather large tin can. Tootie was probably scared—well, more afraid than usual—but at least she still had AC, my main priority.

As I jumped out of the car and raced to the camper door, my subconscious noted a whiff of doody in the air; I didn’t spare it a second thought, though, because my priority was first and foremost Tootie’s well-being. Besides, it didn’t take me long to learn that “whiffs of doody” are a part of everyday life in the RV world. Dogs are frequently dropping off packages here-there-and-everywhere, and each camper is sporting its own personal sewage system.

Chit Happens.

After making sure my baby was ok—she was—I sagged into my chair and snapped my recliner back into the “AHHH” position. “Finally, all is well and I’m home, relaxin’,” I sez to meself.

“Honey, we have to move spots,” Joe bellowed [at least in my mind], bursting through the door. “We’re right next to the septic tank, and someone flushed wipes and clogged the line. It’s overflowing all over the place out here.”

Oh, that’s what I smelled?

[I didn’t think to take photos of our noxious dilemma, no. And I was not the picture of wifely acquiescence; let’s just say “words were said” and fur was flown.]

Eventually, we did move to a spot further up, we got one night free, and the septic broke two more times while we were there. Luckily by then we were well clear of that particular war zone.

A path along the river in Houlton

We Shouldna’ Done it Twice

Joe and I made the mistake one time of going for a jaunt into Canada. And by jaunt I mean just a little in and out (like an hour or two), unplanned, on-the-same-day kinda’ trip. We thought nothin’ of it. Joe had flown with me to an animal conference in Montana and we rented a car for the final leg to the event location. When we realized our hotel was close to Canada we thought we’d just tuck in to have a look-see and then come along right out again.

They thought we were drug smugglers.

I mean, they didn’t say that to our faces, but apparently anyone who crosses the border for just a matter of hours is highly suspect of being some kind of smuggler, and drugs seem like the obvious choice.

[This is one of those things you don’t get if you’re not a bad guy. We were super confused when we got searched going into both countries.]

After we barely escaped with our lives, we made a pact never again to go into Canadia for the day.

Then we did it again.

There just wasn’t much to do in Houlton. Joe made the durn-fool decision to look for more of nature’s wonders in Canada, and found a covered bridge and some falls not too far from us.

“Hey, we should go see this stuff in Canada on Thursday,” he told me.

“We said we’re not going into Canada for the day ever again: remember Montana, remember the pact?”

“No, I don’t remember that,” he eyed me quizzically. “I’m sure it will be fine.”

“Right,” I grumbled, knowing I would live to regret my mealy-mouthed ways.

They thought we were drug smugglers.

I mean, they didn’t say that to our faces, but apparently anyone who crosses the border for just a matter of hours is highly suspect of being some kind of smuggler, and drugs seem like the obvious choice. [I know, dejavue.]

We were questioned extremely thoroughly by a grumpy Canadian border guard [apparently they exist] then the truck was searched by two more on our way into Canada, and when we came back even the U.S. guy eyed us up mighty suspicious-like.

This time I mean it. I’m NEVER-ever-AGAIN going into Canada just for the day. Trust me, you shouldn’t either.

My Bookclub of One

Campgrounds have this cool free library kinda deal—often in the laundry room or rec area—where you can leave or take a book that strikes your fancy. Sometimes these libraries are massive, spanning bookshelves, and sometimes a half dozen titles sit pitifully on a stand.

Even though I brought both kindle and paperback books with me, I decided to choose one random title per stop as a way to expand my book vocabulary.

At this stop I chose The Summer I Dared, by Barbara Delinsky, and wouldn’t you know it was about an island of lobster fishermen? Sigh. But at least one of them was concerned about conservation and ecology etc. so I guess that’s something…and, she writes well. The protagonist of the story is a woman who always neglected her own wants and needs to please her family and her husband, and she finally says “No more.” I wonder how many women can relate to that? Oh, I’d probably be a bad book blogger, eh?

A Couple More Funnies

I bought this magnet
And this one…
Found at Maine Walmart. Are you kidding me? Yes, please.
Me: “Aw, I love cows.” Joe: “No, you’re not adopting one.” Me: “Of course not. You gotta adopt TWO so they have a friend.”

Just when you think you and your hubby couldn’t be any more different.

Joe and I sometimes use the same first Wordle word so we can compete more fairly. I agitated for this concession because he was beating me by an average of 3-1, but I contended that he had more luck at picking the first words and so the results could be swayed. (I learned this logic from drumpf.) Now I think I’m slightly ahead by 4-3, but on whatever day this was (above) we both used ALL the same words…isn’t that romantic! Maybe I do love him after all…

P.S. We toured a potato chip factory in Canada…maybe some things are best left unseen. Just sayin’.

Maine, Maine, Where Have You Baine All My Life?

The view from Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park

Oh, my goodness. I’d never baine to Maine before (yes, it’s a word, they’ll be adding it to dictionary.com any second) but I’m in LOOO-VVVV-EEEEE! Where to start?

One of the goals of our current nomadic lifestyle is to find a state we’d be happy retiring to, and for me Maine is leading the pack thanks to its beauty, coastline, lakes and rivers, and lack of drumpf signs—proven to cause eye spasms and other sundry stress-related illnesses in those with dumpty-allergies. However, we have many miles to travel before such a lofty decision can be made, so I’m tucking my oh-so-humble opinion away for later perusal as we traverse the rest of this fine nation.

The Fridge Fracas

I told you we were total camping newbs, right? Turns out this is good news for you, because I’ll have an extra large barrel of “mistakes were made” stories to dole out as we go along. Yippee!

It seems that the refrigerator locking mechanism, seen above, becomes an important tool to prevent meltdowns and loss of food resources as said camper gets yanked along from Point A to Point B. In this case we undertook a 248-mile trek from Littleton, Massachusetts to Ellsworth, Maine, where we plopped ourselves at the Patten Pond campground for an 11-day stay.

We’d been on the road for only twenty minutes when Joe said to me, “Hey, did you remember to lock the fridge door?”

I gave him the side-eye. Was I supposed to? “No, why, did you?”

“No,” he frowned, watching the camper sway in the rearview. “It’ll probably be fine, though, right?”

“Yeah,” I said in my most reassuring voice. “I’m sure it’s all good.”

NO! No it isn’t, ya dorks! By the time we bounced ourselves into our next campground, most of the fridge and half of the freezer were rolling around on the camper floor. We were able to salvage much of it, and we considered ourselves lucky when we saw what DIDN’T fall out of the fridge—the oversize jar of dill pickles with its requisite buttload of pickle juice. Whew, that was a close one…

Who’s gonna tell ‘im?

Animals in Name Only

The Patten Pond Camping Resort had their streets named with a local animal and then a word starting with the same letter. (Except for Owl’s Way, which just messes with my OCD.) “OOh, how exciting,” methinks to myself. “I would totally name my streets that way too. (Except for Owl’s Way, which—as I’ve mentioned—just messes with my OCD.) “I can’t WAIT for all the animals I’m about to meet! In 3-2-1…”

A Wise Bear brings Wine

Have I told you I like animals? Maybe. Well, I do, and the highlight of each stop for me is always the wildlife. But alas, in Maine I was stymied at every turn. We took the Nature Tour boat ride and only saw seals from afar (nah, we won’t take our binoculars, why would we need those?), hiked and encountered no bears or rattlesnakes (which was probably good, though, now that I think on it) and didn’t even share our campsite with a chipmunk.

But I know they’re out there somewhere; they’re just waiting to get to know me better before revealing themselves. The supply of wooded acreage in Maine is ample and the animals have tons of space to avoid humans, which I grant them is the most smartest move.

The Campground

The Schoodic Peninsula, SHHHH, Don’t Tell Anyone

We found out about The Schoodic Peninsula from the volunteers who run the Downeast Scenic Railroad (above), which we tested out on Sunday. They only do excursions on Saturdays and Sundays, and are a nonprofit with some dedicated volunteers at the helm. As long as you’re expecting a slow, pleasant ride through some woodlands and the town of Ellsworth, you’ll get your money’s worth.

The bottom of Schoodic Peninsula is part of the Acadia National Park, but most people don’t go over there because it’s an hour drive from Bar Harbor and the more well-known Park attractions like Cadillac Mountain and Thunder Hole. For me Schoodic was the hands-down winner, both because of the gorgeous views AND because of the lack of crowds.

So I’ll tell you about it but let’s just keep it between us…if you can only pick one, pick Schoodic. If you can only go on a weekend, choose Schoodic. The Mount Desert (pronounced dessert, I know, don’t get me started) park area is ALWAYS more crowded. Always. No matter the day.

The first day we drove to Schoodic, we set up our chairs along a gorgeous swath of coastline and I commenced reading and snacking with abandon; “ah, this is the life,” methinks to myself. “Finally, I’m livin’ the dream—beautiful weather, beautiful view, quiet, treats, and a book.”

Unfortunately for me, Joe was as antsy as a kid on a sugar high. “Shouldn’t we go hike the trail now before it gets too late?” he blurted out on more than one occasion, ruining my peaceful enjoyment of my surroundings.

“Argh,” says I. “I just wanna read and take in the scenery, why can’t I do that? Fine, then,” I grumble, mumbling to myself about how I’m comin’ back here and reading All. Damn. Day.

Which I did. Only the next time I played it smarter: I made him walk BEFORE we sat by the seashore, and told him he had to stay until I was ready to leave this time. He took a nap, which was fine and dandy by me. The longer he slept, the longer I got to relax.

At Cadillac Mountain we met an artist who was painting the scenery on tiny little copper canvases; seeing talent in action is so inspiring. [Should I take up art again? Nah…I’ll just watch others create, SOOO much easier.] We also explored my fear of heights further (yes, it’s alive and well) and Joe’s unfortunate need to make jokes about plummeting over the edge as my anxiety skyrockets. I’ve heard this is a man thing, but let me be the first to assure men this IS NOT HELPFUL. IN ANY WAY. Thank you.

Should we Talk about the Lobster in the Room?

One of my animal rescue friends texted me: “Tami, make sure you go out on a working lobster boat while you’re in Maine.” We’re still buds because of my kindness and easygoing nature (eh-hem), but I do have to admit he got an earful in return.

I mean, I was already engaged in a fruitless attempt to ignore the very existence of the Maine lobster fishing fetish. I hadn’t realized at first that the buoys I was seeing throughout the water belonged to lobster traps. I thought they were guidance buoys, and when it dawned on me what they actually were, Joe used his patented technique to distract me from the coming animal rant. “Do you see seals out there?”

My head whipped around, “Seals, where?”

“I didn’t see any, I just wondered if you did. Any chipmunks?”

I narrowed my eyes at him. “I know what you’re doing, ya sneaky bastage.” Truth be told, it usually works, because then we bicker about his distraction techniques instead of him listening to me rant, which he must find an acceptable tradeoff.

Luckily for me he doesn’t like seafood.

Bar Harbor itself is quite lovely, with a plethora of restaurants, harbor and Acadia tours, and souvenir shops. I decided that when I was annoyed by an animal industry, I would buy myself a passive-aggressive t-shirt to make myself feel better.

Animals eating people is always a good choice. Until I get scarfed down by a bear of course…then it won’t be so funny, eh? But I’ll be dead, so maybe I’ll still get a good chuckle out of the irony of it all.

I Can’t Believe it Happened!

Last week when I suggested campgrounds prohibit political signage (you realize before drumpf NO ONE was dragging political signs camping with them, right? Who in their right mind?) I figured it was a pipe dream. But when we hit Maine the campground rules had the following:

Halle-effin-lujah! It finally happened. Now I can’t leave Maine.

Tootius Maximus Gets a Fix

Everyone’s got their way to escape, eh? But Tootie, as a feral cat, doesn’t have much of a life outside this camper. She’s certainly not a cat I can outfit with a harness and leash and walk around the campground, or even let her sit outside with me. She would be terrified and find a way to wiggle out of the harness and that would be it for her. She’d be gone. And I’d be wrasslin’ with a whole tankful of guilt and remorse.

But when I see her sitting in front of the screen door and wistfully looking outside I get sad for her too. Like her mommy and daddy, she used to eat her feelings, but now she can’t because of her throat issue, so she’s forced to eat to live rather than live to eat.

I wanted to enrich her life, but she’s not much for toys at her age. “She does love herself some catnip,” I muse. “Except she usually makes a huge mess by rolling in it and eating it before finally passing out covered in the stuff.”

Still, it was one thing I could offer her to give her a moment of escape, no matter how brief her “high” lasts. Joe picked some up for me at the store and the second it arrived she was out of her “office” and searching for it. This was rare for her in the middle of the day, so I knew she had caught the scent but just couldn’t find it. After letting the anticipation build for just a few more moments I put a small amount on a towel and let her go for it. She did not disappoint! I tried giving her more the next night, but she showed little interest, so I guess catnip will be a once a week special treat so she has something to look forward to!

My friends are starting to send me memes with a little something in common. Should I be worried?