Saturday, July 22, 2017

Epic Adventure 2: Not where we're supposed to be... (Part 3 of 6)

(This is a continuation of a series of posts on our second long distance trip, see the first post if you want to start at the beginning.)

Our U-haul CT-13 Fiberglass Camper at Fundy National Park in New Brunswick, Canada.
It was the day I was going to meet up with my family after being on the road a week. The plan was that they would fly from Atlanta to Manchester, NH where I would pick them up. I had spent the night at a quiet truck stop halfway between Concord and Manchester. Their flight wasn't expecting to land till after 4pm. I was a bit ahead of schedule due to leaving out Tuesday night instead of waiting till Wednesday morning. But one thing I've learned in life is that things don't always go as planned...

My family was to catch a flight that morning out of Atlanta to Charlotte with a 2.5hr layover. From Charlotte, they would fly to Manchester, NH where I would pick them up. I was in Concord and grabbed an EZPass for the toll roads that we would hit on the way back south while waiting on them (post on the toll situation coming soon). While airports aren't designed for RVs, they are designed for shuttle buses and fortunately the U-haul is about the same height as shuttle buses. So I wasn't worried about clearances inside of an airport. My biggest concern had been about whether I could find a spot in the cell phone lot or if I'd have to wait at a gas station or something off site. Little did I know when I woke up that morning that would be the least of my worries that day. The plane was delayed an hour getting to Atlanta. Once it arrived, my family boarded expecting to still be able to make the connection in Charlotte. Unfortunately, the plane had a flat tire and that takes an hour or more to change. By the time my family got to Charlotte, they landed 10 mins after the connecting flight had taken off. There was only one other connection to Manchester later that day. I had hope that the family could get on it since they only had carry on backpacks and no checked bags. That didn't work out as the flight was oversold and only had 2 seats available. My family needed 3 seats.

Flight display board at the Charlotte Airport
After many phone calls and my wife communicating with airline representatives in Charlotte, they were able to get them on a flight to Boston which was only 2 hrs from me. It would take the flight 2 hrs to get to Boston so I had time to make it there. At least the airports in the NE are close together. Once I received the text from my wife that they were seated on the plane departing for Boston, I had to recalculate our trip trajectory. We had booked a campsite that evening in the White Mountains near Mt. Washington at White Birches Campground. I called them to let them know we would not be able to make it due to the flight issues. And that I now had to drive 2 hrs in the opposite direction to get to my family.  Unfortunately, they refused to refund my money for the situation. I can only guess that they must have been so busy they were turning folks away before I called and had no empty sites at all.

I've heard nightmares about navigating Boston. I've never been there so I didn't know what to expect. The only thing I did know, was that most of the routes to the Logan involved tunnels. And you can't take propane tanks or other hazmats into the tunnels. That left me pulled off at a gas staging on my phone looking at a way to route around those to get to Logan. There's one bridge the Chelsea St. Bridge. But to get there you have to wind through surface streets. So i got off the I-93 before the tunnels and routed into the surface streets of Boston. I'm not sure I could find the exact route again, but it involved cobble stone back alleys and many complicated and confusing intersections. A couple of wrong turns due to being in the wrong lane and traffic (did I mention they were landing at 6:30pm?) and I found my way to the bridge. After crossing it came the fun of getting into the airport and finding out which terminal they were at. By the time I got to them, they'd been on the ground for about 30 mins. Clearances in the airport weren't a problem as I'd originally thought. Some large buses roll into Logan and are way taller than my camper. It was great to finally be able to be together again as a family. It was quite the adventure for my daughter's first plane ride too. 

With everyone in the car, we headed north for I-95. First stop was to find some dinner. We stumbled onto Sal's Pizza in Newburryport, MA. The pizza was really good, and we were all hungry from a long day. A few more miles north we crossed back into New Hampshire and pulled into the welcome center to spend the night. We found a quiet spot at the very back of the truck and trailer parking area and bedded down for the night as a family.

Me at the big boot in front of LL Bean in Freeport.
The next morning after a breakfast at Dunkin Donuts (they're one very corner in the northeast which made me super happy), we headed north into Maine. Our EZPass came in handy on the I-95 in NH as we cruised through the EZPass lane without having to slow down at all. Once into Maine we split off onto US Rt 1 for a while and wound our way north. Lunch was an incredible portion of Seafood at Ken's Place in Scarborough, ME. The fried clams were amazing! We stopped in Freeport, ME to visit the big L.L.Bean store and continued north.

Just north of Bangor we swapped over to the ME Rt 9. This is a long road to Calais (our targeted border crossing for Canada) with not much on it. There's only 1 gas station/restaurant we passed as we drove for a good 2 hours (~100 mi) on this road. After refueling in Calais and fixing a tail light that was out on the camper, we headed for the border crossing into Canada. It went fairly smooth and only took a few minutes and then we were into New Brunswick, Canada. An hour later we found a hotel in St. Johns. Tomorrow would be the final northbound leg of our journey.

exploring the bottom of the Bay of Fundy at low tide
Exploring the bottom of
the Bay of Fundy at Alma, NB

Exploring Hopewell Rocks
Exploring Hopewell Rocks
at the Bay of Fundy in NB.

We woke up anticipating a stop at the Reversing Rapids in St. John, NB which was only a couple miles from our hotel. Unfortunately, it was extremely foggy that morning and you couldn't see anything. We decided to stop by on our way back through. Our route was going to take us on a scenic drive around part of the Bay of Fundy. We headed for Fundy National Park, Canada is celebrating their 150th Anniversary this year so all the Canadian National Parks are free as part of that celebration this year. We picked up our free National Park Pass at the ranger station in Fundy National Park and drove through the park with some stops at various sites in the park. The road dropped  us out at Alma, NB which is a little tourist/fishing village. By the time we got there, the fog had lifted and the views were amazing. After an expensive seafood lunch and refueling, we drove along the bay taking in the amazing scenery and stopped at Hopewell Rocks. These are some amazing and large rocks carved out of the cliffs on the edge of the bay. During low tide you can walk around them but during high tide the only way to get to them is via boat/kayak. After a fun filled day taking the scenic route, we left the bay late afternoon and headed to the peak destination of our trip.

Prince Edward Island here we come...

The adventure continues: Epic Adventure 2: The Land of the Kindred Spirits