Thursday, August 4, 2016


We gave new personal meaning to the phrase "run for the border" when we decided to travel from our home in greater Houston to Nova Scotia in late July.
I think this covers all the roads we took, but some of them are definitely a blur in my memory. It was a long, long, LONG drive.  
Here's a pictorial commentary of the first leg of this adventure.
When we told folks that we did a 2,492-mile run in just 3.5 days, the common response was, "That's fast!"  Yes, and the reason is that it was too danged hot to hang around the south.  Our first overnight was in Oak Mountain State Park outside of Birmingham, Alabama, so that we could leave one of the back doors of the Interstate open for a bit of ventilation.  Even with that, I don't think the temperature inside the truck fell below about 78.  
Fortunately we only had one really hot night.  And once we got out of the Deep South, I didn't care where we were staying - I just enjoyed the cooler temperatures.
Crackerdocking on the second night, temp around 70.  Bliss to a couple of reverse snowbirds.
The Shenandoah Valley - always the scenic highlight of the American portion of this trip. 
We had good travel weather but the interstate highway system seems to deteriorate further with each passing year.  It's a mystery to me how we could pay for this system in the 1950's when money was so much scarcer, but we can't even seem to maintain it today when our society has wealth beyond anyone's initial imagination.
Even though we avoided major metro areas, we still ran into horrific congestion, one-lane freeway segments and long wait times.  I took a picture of this idiot who literally ran us off the road about 45 minutes south of Scranton, took a picture so that I could report him later on.  
 The worst portion of this trip was crossing the Hudson River in New York, well north of New York City, where it was about an hour's delay getting through a toll booth that cost a whopping $1.50.  I would have gladly given them $15 if we could have expedited the booth.  Where is the sense in delaying thousands of people for an hour apiece just to collect $1.50 from each of them?!  That kind of nonsense represents a level of bureaucratic dysfunction that's almost beyond comprehension.
They had electronic tolling which they call EZ Pass but we had to get in the cash line because EZ Pass does not talk to EZ Tag, which is our Texas tolling system.  
Our intention was to stop at Dysart's truck stop on the third night such that we were there in time for dinner, but all this needless congestion delayed us by so much that we ended up pulling off in Portland Maine to eat dinner inside our Interstate.
When what to my wondering eyes did appear but the largest Whole Foods I've ever seen.  In Portland Maine of all places (it's a Texas company, so I thought I'd seen it all.  Apparently not.  
I do not like driving after dark, especially in bear and moose country. But nevertheless we proceeded about 2 hours farther north to Dysart's so we could be there for breakfast.  I wasn't prepared to miss Dysart's dinner AND breakfast!
Dysart's at dawn, lined up with the big boys.  
It's a full-service truck stop with home-made food.  We ate, had showers, got propane (a lot of propane - our fridge had chewed through 3.8 gallons trying to stay cool while in the Deep South), and dumped tanks.  
From there it was a short run to the border, literally.
In Texas, we are mostly familiar with the Mexican border.  This one looks a whole lot different!
The moment we were waiting for, literally, across days of other moments:
Glooscap Campground outside of Parrsboro Nova Scotia.  We got the best seat in the house.  This campground is owned and operated by the town, at least for now.  Like many areas of NS, its population is contracting, and the town is dissolving.  
We arrived late afternoon, in time for a long sunset walk on the beach.
Parrsboro sits on the Bay of Fundy with its "highest tides in the world" claim to fame, and tides in this vicinity are about 40 feet.  Here, The Engineer was timing the advancing water (his feet were submerged in 90 seconds).  
Spectacular sunset.  That turtle-shaped mass in the distance, left of center, is Partridge Island, which we planned to hike the next day.
After a peaceful night in the campground, we decided to spend some non-driving time exploring the town.  Parrsboro is well-known for its annual Rockhound Roundup, which is how I first came to know the place in 1977.  It is also home to the Fundy Geological Museum.
Things have changed momentously in the past 40 years!  When I first saw this museum, it was a tiny little hole in the wall struggling to get off the ground.  Now it's a world-class facility with many interactive displays.  I wonder what would have happened if someone had tried to explain "selfie" to us in 1977?
People like me used to be called super-nerds.  Now they make museums showcasing our career field.  Who would have guessed this?  The caption on the display says "Most geological work happens in the lab".  And there's a display window through which people can watch said work.  Go figure.  
We ate lunch at the BlackRock Bistro in Parrsboro while waiting for the tide to recede enough for us to hike over and around Partridge Island.
We arrived to see the shoreline foaming like the world's largest soda bottle.  In some places, the beach is so steep and the tide recedes with such velocity that it sucks air down into the coarse gravel.  The air then re-liberates itself a short distance off the shore, for a bizarre effervescent effect. 
Close-up of the surreal tidal bubbles.  
We first hiked up to the top of the island.
In my day, people were much less "eco" but much more "engaged".  These days it seems to be more about saying what you are instead of being what you are.  When I was young, we never claimed any special politically-correct status such as "eco", but we lived and breathed the Nova Scotian wilderness the way I almost never see people doing these days.  But a lot of people sure seem to talk a good talk.  And sign a good sign.  
View from the "eco" trail look-off.  That's Cape Split in the distance.  A lot of people seem to be falling off Cape Split these days, just as people seem to be drowning in record numbers at Peggy's Cove.  I suspect it's due to that "engaged" vs. "eco" thing again - "saying" instead of actually "being".  Nobody fell off Cape Split in my day.  We were much more situationally aware than that.  
After we got done climbing on top of Partridge Island, we walked about 80% around it.  It used to be possible to go the entire distance via the beach, but there's been a lot of erosion, and after a great deal of boulder-dashing, we had to bush-whack back up to the top of the island and take the main trail back down again.  But we saw some great coastline up close and personally.  Engaged-style.  
Given that high-speed internet is much better in Canada than in the U.S., I was even able to upload this mini-vid of our parking spot on Partridge Island.

^^ What makes a 6,000-mile round trip worthwhile by camper van is exactly that kind of solitude.  It cannot be achieved in our part of the United States.  Not like that.

The next morning, we struck out for my hometown of Sydney.
A Nova Scotia travelogue would not be complete without at least one token lighthouse shot.  This was the Five Islands lighthouse.  
 I had forgotten that camper vans are more popular in Canada than they are in the United States.  Here are a few of those we saw en route to Sydney.
I saw more in three hours than I've seen in the past two years in the U.S. 
We arrived in Sydney in good form and had our first family conflab inside our Interstate.  Here's the next morning's sunrise from my side of the Interstate (view from my bed).

-- Adventure to be continued. --  


  1. Fabulous travel log, thank you for sharing and making us all anxious to
    do extended trips like yours. You guys do a great job of sharing positives and negatives of your Interstate and hacks to improve your enjoyment of your home away from home. AEW

  2. Thank you also from us. We are planing this in 2017.