It was a long “windshield day”! We drove over 260 miles, just to leave our sketchy campground behind and see a little of the woods of Maine. The views were so beautiful – it was awesome!
I started the day all wrong when I moved the tow vehicle down the road, and left Dan to pull out of the campsite without a spotter. He scraped all along the first right compartment on the burn barrel that the campground uses for a fire pit at each campsite. Bummer. But how fitting to be at a campground that is like a small city – a city where we’d never ever live! It was packed with people who live there all “season” long and they were clearing the nearby forest for more campsites. Ick.
It did allow us an easy commute into Quebec City the day before, so it wasn’t all bad. We happened to be there for Canada Day, but that doesn’t really matter to this province! There were news reports of them still wanting to secede from Canada, and their French pride was a little obnoxious. Everything is in French, with Italian and Japanese a close second. Luckily, the Citadel was easy to find.
The tour was well worth the hour and the $30. Sarah, our guide, spoke 5 languages, and we were happy to be on the English speaking one. The Citadel is still an active base, and there was a security checkpoint – one guy watching us walk by on the other side of the road. The 22nd Regiment is famous for its only French-speaking ways, and on some of the buildings are the dates of the battles they’ve won in previous wars. Each day, an enlisted cadet reads two pages of names in the chapel of former soldiers. “Je me souviens” – I will remember – is their slogan and they take it very seriously. The Citadel itself has never seen any battles, and we weren’t allowed in any buildings. Great view over the St. Lawrence river though! The rest of the day was fun and I can see why people honeymoon here. It has a very romantic feel to it, with live music and outdoor seating all over. We had lunch at one and I had to tip the crooner because he played Jimmy Buffet, James Taylor and John Denver – in French and English.
So back to the windshield day… we finally got on the road, both of the drivers mad. Ooh, it was going to be a long day…
I took my turn driving about 40 miles north of the border, and I was excited to get to drive over it. I shouldn’t have been! I pulled into the lane slowly, because the lanes aren’t that wide and I didn’t want another scrape. The border patrol guard walked out of his little building, kicked an orange cone out of the way, and glared at me as I drove in. I opened the window and said “hi” and knew it wouldn’t be fun. He sarcastically asked if I drove much, and when I replied that I did, he was surprised. “Wipe that smirk off your face, bucko, I’ve driven roads that you never will!” I wish I could have said. Instead, I reached for the passports and handed them over.
He asked the usual questions, where do you live, “Bend, Oregon” (which is not really true because we live in this box on wheels, but that’s what we have to say each time because you’re required as a US Citizen to have an address of record as you travel.) “What do you do?” “Travel.” That always gets different responses when they learn about the trip. Some nice, some not so nice and they always look at us again. This guy made me remove my sunglasses to see if it was really me, and we had to get Nate out of his bunk to show his face. When he asked about fruit, I said that I thought we still had an orange left. So he said he was coming aboard. For an orange. Stop the presses, we’re impacting national security with our orange!
Yes, we understand that farming and much more can be impacted by invasive species, and we wouldn’t take a chance ruining someone’s livelihood, but one orange that hadn’t been out of the crisper was probably safe. We were lucky that Jess didn’t bite him because she was loose. He finally said, “welcome back to the states” and sent us on our way. Then probably ticked off a box on some government form that he had boarded us. Oh brother.
The northern Maine woods are everything we’ve read about and more. It really was beautiful and we’re so glad we made the long drive. We stopped at a lake for lunch and spent an hour gazing at the ducks, trees, and water. I kept thinking of Stephen King every time I saw a huge crow because they are in his books and he lives here in Maine! We even saw a little moose. Skinny and young. Only one we saw the whole drive.
We took back roads to our campground, and many times we were sharing the road with loaded log trucks. We were high up on ridges and hills, and went up and down in roller coaster fashion for 4 hours. Gorgeous, but nerve wracking. I took over 20 pictures of the trees and will have to delete a few!
When we finally pulled into the old-fashioned campground, we were grateful to be there. There was a large old two-story ranch style building with laundry, game room, store and office. There was a huge pool off to the left. There were tons of kids running around and it was all nice and clean. Then we got out of the rig into a swarm of mosquitos – I’m sure they are just following us!
We had a quick swim, a great dinner, and then hopped on the park wi-fi. We didn’t have service on our phones in Canada because we wouldn’t buy the international plan, so we all tried to get caught up. After email and finances, I checked in on FB only to find Dan’s cousin Carrie wishing him a happy 2nd kidney-versary… we had all forgotten! 2 years before Dan had donated one of his kidneys to Ryan, and blessings beyond all, Ryan is doing great. Dan has been so humble about it, he didn’t even remind the rest of us. We talked about it and gave thanks for his and Ryan’s good health.
So the day started out wrong, got better with hours of windshield time, and ended on the most perfect note with a reminder of what’s really important in life…