Sunday, July 31, 2016

Saint John, New Brunswick and Reversing Rapids, part 1

We drove from Calais, ME, to Saint John, New Brunswick, today.

We were a little bit apprehensive about getting through Canadian immigration
  • we had heard that they might want to see the rabies certificates for the cats (the fellow didn't ask about pets, so it didn't come up - but we had them in our "crossing the border" folder)
  • we had heard that they might give us a hard time, even checking our rig, looking for guns, especially since we are from Texas (they specifically asked us about guns, but we truthfully told them that we didn't have any, the fellow repeated that it was illegal to have firearms in Canada and asked us again, and we again said we didn't have any)
  • we had heard that there might be problems with certain foodstuffs (eggs, raw chicken) but he didn't ask anything about that
  • he did ask what alcohol we had on board, and we told him what we had (we had checked beforehand on what was allowed)
  • we had been told that we needed a special insurance paper - I don't know whether that is for immigration or in case we have an incident - we have the paper with us, but he didn't ask about it
So - there were no problems, and we got across the border in about 10 minutes time (allowing for the two vehicles ahead of us, one of which was a class B motorhome (a van type chassis) who got slotted over to the side for additional searching, I guess).

The road from Bangor to Calais was a nice two-lane road with nice wide shoulders and truck passing lanes on the uphills. The road from Calais to Saint John is a 4 lane divided limited access highway with very little traffic - very easy driving.

We stopped at the visitor information center just south/west of Saint John to find out where we should go and at what time to see the "reversing rapids". We should have also asked "What time is it now?" Our Garmin knew that we were on a different timezone (I kept on wondering why it was telling me we would get to the campground an hour later than I was figuring we were getting there) but it didn't occur to us that we would be on a different timezone in New Brunswick - Atlantic time zone, an hour east of eastern time.
We got the times of high and low tide - and they gave us a book with the tide information throughout the year.

After we got checked in to our campground (Rockwood Park - right in Saint John - just a gravel lot, but it is a great location), we drove the Jeep to the reversing rapids. We were planning to get there about an hour before low tide, but, given that we were an hour off, you guessed it... we arrived right at low tide.

A picture of the map with the markings that Kyle, at the visitor's center, gave us. Bay of Fundy is on the lower right. The Saint John River comes in from the middle top. It turns out that the height of the river is at the mid-point of the tide at this location. So, when the bay is at low tide, the river is flowing strongly downstream, making rapids and whirlpools at the constriction point right where the bridge goes across on the middle left of the picture. But when the bay is at high tide, the water pushes in causing the rapids to reverse, or so we're told - we're going back for high tide tomorrow, as the high tide tonight is after dark.

Dwayne and Patti at Reversing Rapids
The river is flowing from left to right under the bridge, and turning to head out away from us toward the Bay of Fundy.

On the other side of the river, looking down toward the bridge - the river is flowing past us from right to left to go under the bridge.
From what we were told, the rapids are most impressive at low tide (so that's what we've seen). At "slack tide", the river is navigable through this area for about 20 minutes, twice a day, about halfway between high and low tide. We will go back tomorrow at high tide and get more pictures and see if they show the difference. We also have video that we might upload if the pictures don't show it.

By the way, we weren't able to get online with our phones for most of today. We have WiFi in the campground, so I got on a chat session with a Verizon rep, and he was able to tell us how to change a setting on our phones to enable global data. So we should be in good shape for our on-going Canadian trip!

Calais, ME

We tried to find a geocache along the Calais Walking trail, but were not successful - where it seemed to be hidden was off the trail and there were lots of bees around, so we elected to pass. But, we got to see some pretty sights, which is part of the goal of getting out to geocache!
Pretty flowers (with bees in them) where we were to find the cache.

A view of the St Croix River and St Stephen, New Brunswick, across the river from us.

A neat little wooden covered bridge on the trail.
From one of the information boards there: 
The St. Croix River was once heavily navigated by vessels of all types, importing and exporting cargo of all kinds. With a tide that rises twenty-six feet, the river was navigable by the large vessels of yesterday, twice in every twenty-four hours. At low water, the river appears like a shallow stream running through a wide and deep valley. The riverbed, made soft by vast accumulations of mud and sawdust, permits vessels of any size to ground without injury.
The principal export from Calais and St. Stephen was primarily lumber. At the beginning of the river's history of commerce, lumbermen have required the use of vessels to bring their product to market. In 1797, tradition reports a vessel built in St. Stephen, and this is said to have been the first vessel launched in the St. Croix River above St. Andrews, New Brunswick.
Beginnings. The Settlement of the St Croix Valley, Rev J.C. Knowlton
Buildings in town as we were heading back to Walmart

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Tomorrow: O Canada!

Tomorrow, Lord willing, we will head into Canada. I think we have our phone and data service set up so we can continue to have access, but if we suddenly stop posting, it may be that I didn't have it figured out correctly! We will definitely find WiFi if our data is not working...

Faithful readers may remember that we had planned to drive through Labrador into Quebec and wonder why we aren't doing that. Well, we watched videos from another couple who did it (in reverse) and their flat tires and broken brakes due to the rough roads discouraged us! Their videos on YouTube, "A Guy, A Girl, and a Campervan", are really good though - we enjoyed watching them.
Their first one:
Funny one about how to keep from bringing mosquitoes into the campervan when they were getting back into it:
Breakdowns on the rough roads:

Their views of the northern lights almost tempted us to brave the rough roads:

Their whole series:

We stopped at Irving Oil (a New Brunswick based fuel company) to fill up Miss Doozie with relatively cheap US priced diesel. While we were there, the Irving Oil guy was there filling the storage tanks, and polishing the wheels on his trailer.
He recommended this for cleaning the shiny metal wheels. He said that there were two parts, this is the tougher one for cleaning, and the other is more for shining. He said that the first time is the hardest, but then it isn't too bad as long as you do it every couple of weeks.

We are settled in for the night here at WalMart in Calais, ME. You may be able to see that there are two flags flying over the WalMart - both US and Canada.
Day 2 of 7 day FaceBook challenge: I was challenged by my cousin, Irene, to post a picture of my sweetie and me each day for 7 days, and to challenge another person to do so. Today, I am posting a picture of my sweet Dwayne and me on our wedding day.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Busy day!

We left the Champlain Valley Exposition grounds this morning on our way to Maine and to prepare to enter Canada. We bid goodbye to our Escapade neighbors and new friends, Dan and Joyce.
Dan and Joyce will be heading up toward Quebec tomorrow!

Dwayne is feeling well enough to do some of the driving

Miss Kitty says, "Stop taking pictures and start petting me!"

"Ok, if I must, I will look at the camera!"

Tabitha usually travels *inside* the kitty privy (which is in that under-sink cabinet), but it was kinda warm today, so she was laying on top of the box outside the privy.

But she was ready to duck back in if she needed to!

We drove to Freeport, ME to see the LL Bean outlet stores.
Hunting and fishing area
Extra, extra large Bean Boot!

Tree stands

We found the type of jacket/shirt that Dwayne wanted to replace, but it was wool instead of cotton flannel, and at $139, not quite the bargain we were hoping for!

Rifle area in the hunting and fishing store

another view of the rifle area

We also visited the "Retail Store"

We also looked at bicycles... but we think we should try to find a used bike that someone has decided they no longer want, and then see what we like and don't like about it.
Selfie at the L.L. Bean store

We also went geocaching and found our first official cache! Hurrah!!!

On the way back to the bus, got a picture of the First Parish Church of the Congregational UCC - pretty wreaths on the door.

There is parking provided for RVs visiting the outlet. There are quite a few here!

More on both sides of us.

Miss Doozie is settled in for the night!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Closing of 56th Escapade

Today was the last day of sessions and closing ceremony. It was also the last day of our fellowship time together. We did not have ROW hours today, so could attend sessions - so we both attended sessions at each of the two hours this morning.

Patti got laundry done so we'll be set to go for a couple of weeks before being required to get it done again - enough time to acquire some Canadian change for laundry machines!

The sunset was quite beautiful this evening over the grandstands that are just down from our rig.
Tomorrow we will head back to Maine. If the Lord wills, we'll get to Freeport and visit LL Bean tomorrow, and then travel up to the Canadian border on Saturday. We'll get a full tank of diesel before we leave Maine and plan to cross over into New Brunswick this weekend.

This is roughly the path we plan to follow on our 6-8 week Canada visit.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Day 4 at 56th Escapade

We started the morning with our Christian Fellowship service / Bible study. As I (Patti) was heading over to the expo area, there was a hot air balloon in the sky.
You'll have to believe me that there is a balloon over those rigs... it just looks like a dirty spot on my lens.

Here you can see it a little better.
We had about a dozen folks for Bible study today - the committed, or those who should be committed, we joked!

Today was the last day on the ROW, so we took down our sign and packed everything into the Jeep. We'll get it moved back up on top of Miss Doozie at some point.

This afternoon, we attended a session on geocaching. It was very interesting, and one of the members of the geocaching BOF had hidden 4 caches on the expo grounds to give us a taste of hunting and finding the caches. We met up with another couple who were brand new to the whole idea of geocaching and used googlemaps on our phones to locate the coordinates, and then we each searched for the hidden item. We had a good time and think that we might enjoy doing this as we travel!
The geocaching data we were given to work with. We tried #1 first, but we knew since the hint was "Nano" that it was very small. We weren't able to find it... so we decided to try another one. We knew what the fake electric plate would look like, so we tried #4 next, and had success - so then we found #3. We were starting on #2, but noticed another team (with an experienced geocacher) at #1, so went back there, and were able to find it. We went on to #2, and with help from one of the experienced geocachers, were able to find it as well.
As we headed back to Miss Doozie, we stopped in to look at one of the show coaches (for sale coaches) on the grounds.
Dwayne coming out of the show coach

Show coach - 2016 Entegra Anthem, at the bargain price of $370K or so... don't worry, Jimmy, we're not considering getting any other rig!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Got to see the "Big Data Dude" again!

When we visited with Aaron and Liz (and Matt) on Friday, we picked up a lot of our packages that had been sent there. We knew that our mail that was being sent from Livingston to us wasn't there yet - it arrived and we went to pick it up today. When we were there on Friday, we didn't get a picture with Aaron and Liz and Matt - so tonight, we at least got a picture of Aaron with Patti.

Patti and Aaron
 Aaron, and another former co-worker of Patti's, Henry, did a YouTube video of their visit to the Hadoop Conference earlier this year. They are billing themselves as the "Big Data Dudes" - so we were happy to get a picture with one of the Big Data Dudes!
Big Data Dudes Video:

We are SO grateful to Aaron and Liz for collecting our mail for us!

Driving around the area, there are pocket gardens at many of the intersections - managed to snap a quick picture of this one!

Monday, July 25, 2016

56th Escapade - Monday

Today was the first day of seminars at Escapade, so it was a day of learning for many folks here. We were on the ROW for the middle part of the day, but we each got to attend one session - Dwayne attended one on "Detailing the Outside of Your RV in 1 Hour", and Patti attended one on "Free Camping on Your Public Lands" - and we both enjoyed them!

Some interesting numbers:
  • Yesterday, they said that there were about 2400 attendees, and almost 60 of them are children of the Xscapers (the "younger" branch of Escapees, more targeted toward families).
  • When they asked the number of first timers to raise their hands, it appeared to be well over half of the attendees.
  • I (Patti) asked one of the registration folks about the number of first timers, he confirmed that it was well over half of the group, and that this is always the case. I found that to be odd... that would imply, I think, that most people attend only one Escapade?
  • The registration guy said that there are about 700 rigs on the grounds - that was a surprising number to me also - if there are 2400 attendees, and most rigs have 2 people in them, 700 rigs would account for about 1400 attendees. While the Xscapers with children have more than 2 people in their rigs, there are also a large number of Solos. He said that there are a lot of "walkins" - people who are not staying on the grounds - maybe staying in hotels, or in other campgrounds, I guess. Based on the cost of staying on the grounds, and the problems we had with electricity, I can understand why people might elect to stay offsite, but it sure would be inconvenient to have to drive over and back and be a distance from the rig.
  • On Sunday, we didn't count, but we think we had about 60 folks in the Christian Fellowship service.
  • Today (Monday), we had 20-21 - but it was at 7am!

We started our day with a fellowship gathering at 7am - 20+ folks came to study the Bible together at 7am this morning!

The evening event starts with door prizes and then entertainment.

During the door prizes, a slideshow of pictures taken around the event are shown - we were in a picture with our banner from Opening Ceremony on Sunday.

The entertainment was The Marlins - they were really enjoyable...


Sunday, July 24, 2016

56th Escapade Opening Day

Today was opening day, and we were looking forward to a bit later start than for the rest of the week (we have devotions Monday-Thursday at 7am)... I (Patti) wasn't exactly "up" but was starting to get ready when I noticed an official looking guy outside our door. Bob Pinner was there to confirm that there were issues with the electric at our location and to ask if we wanted to move or to stay and "boondock". Initially I said, "Oh, we have too much going on today to move," but after Dwayne got up, we decided having reliable electricity was important. I had breakfast baking in the oven, so we turned on the generator and moved - a little closer to the buildings too. We have a gorgeous "yard" and the electricity seems to be a lot better.
They told us to park "long ways" - but the rigs coming in behind us are parking right next to each other down the row.
 Today was the first day on the ROW, so we were to be there from 10am-2pm. We also had a Christian Fellowship Service scheduled 1-2pm, so we knew we would need to be away from our table for the last hour.

Christian Fellowship BOF friends Shirley and Maurice Rust were across the aisle from us representing the "Hoosier Neighbor" Chapter

Here we are at our post on the Row. Just behind us to the right is the Saguaro SKP Co-op and you can see "The Original Ranch" to the left of Dwayne.
The ROW provides the opportunity for attendees to find out about:
  • Chapters - these are geographical groups, people might join one where their homebase is, or a place that they want to visit. 
  • BOFs - Birds of a Feather groups - these are groups that are joined around a common interest - like Christian Fellowship, or Woodcarving, Photography, Geneaology. There are two other Christian groups that are more service oriented - SOWERS - Servants on Wheels Ever Ready ( and NOMADS - Nomads On a Mission Active in Divine Service - an RVing group in service to United Methodists (
  • SKP Co-Ops - These are parks (campgrounds) that are owned by Escapees (individual members) ( There are sometimes spaces available for rent - for example. the KOFA Co-Op that we stayed at in Yuma is one of these Co-Op parks.
Today, we also hosted the Sunday Christian Fellowship Service.... we had a good number attend - about 60. Since neither of us are professional Bible teachers, we decided to use e3partners Simple Second Bible study ( I think most folks were expecting a more traditional service (singing, teacher), but folks seemed to engage well.

Later in the afternoon was the Opening Ceremony. Lots of folks participate to make these events happen, and it was great to see all the folks stand up as their areas of responsibility were named.
New president Trevor Carr addresses his mom (Cathie) and grandmother (Kay). For more of the Escapees story:

Shawn Loring talked with us about the importance of being represented to the RV industry - having a "choir" of voices instead of just single voices.

Kay Peterson addressed us with her ever humorous stories.
 We then participated in the parade of banners, and then joined other attendees for ice cream out on the patio.

There is supposed to be evening entertainment tonight (Jimmy Travis) - we hope to make it, but right now, we're just tired!