Wrapping Up

We’re home. Our flight from Ottawa to Winnipeg was quick and comfortable (Yay, WestJet) and our splurge on the valet parking at Winnipeg International was a real convenience. I’d do it again, only next time I’d check in with them while I was waiting for the luggage carousel to lurch into life.

Wanted to get something to eat before the two and a half hour drive home to Kenora, and this seemed like a perfect time to check out one of the Five Guys locations in Winnipeg for something reasonably speedy. Dingbat got lost on Route 90. There are new bits he doesn’t know about, so when we drove on them, he showed us hurtling through uncharted blackness. Spooky. We did eventually get close enough to some known roads that he was able to resume guiding us to the Pembina Highway 5G. I had essentially the same burger that I had in Waterton, and it was just as good, but the restaurant was appallingly littered with peanut shells. It looked as if the floor hadn’t been swept in hours, and they had been tracked and kicked everywhere, even into the bathroom. If I had not seen a clean Five Guys before, this would have been my only visit to one.

Drove home. Made good time in light traffic, and somehow managed to catch up to tractor-trailers only when passing was easy.

Spent Sunday unpacking, doing laundry and stocking up on groceries.

Monday, both of us went back to work, and I also found time to mow the lawn for the last time, mulching all the leaves in the process. It looks almost as good as if I had raked them up.

Thoughts for next time.

Yes, we’d like to visit Bar Harbor, Maine, again, and we loved Vermont, too. One notion that appeals to us is to fly to Halifax, Nova Scotia; I’ve always wanted to see the maritime museum there. We could drive or ferry down to Maine. We’d get to see some new territory: Vermont, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island would all be within reach.

We probably wouldn’t go in October. ‘Leaf-peeping’ was fun, but I don’t feel a need to make a lifestyle out of it. September might be good – tourist traffic dies down once the kids are back in school, making both highways and hotels noticeably quieter.

We’d put more effort into making dinner reservations in Bar Harbor, so that we didn’t end up eating wherever they were likely to have a table. I’d like to try some of the Atlantic seafood as prepared by a chef, rather than the simple traditional fare we ate this time around.

I need to pack lighter next time. I was right at the limit for WestJet, and hotels without elevators were not a lot of fun. Less clothes, more laundry.

The picnicking thing was worthwhile – the thirty dollars we spent on a cooler that we left behind (excess baggage fees on the airline would have been more than the cooler was worth) more than paid for itself in lunch expenses saved. Also, it allowed us to eat healthy salad and sandwich type lunches, instead of fast food.

I would absolutely take my own GPS again. Being familiar with all the features is a great benefit, saving time and frustration. Plus Dingbat has a big screen. And he’s part of the family, at least as much as Robbie the Robot was to those Lost in Space characters. Now if I could just teach him to say, “Danger, danger,” instead of “recalculating.”

That’s about it. Tim’s Road Noise picked up quite a few new followers during this trip, so I should explain that this blog will go dormant now. There will be no new posts until Tim and Caroline go vacationing again. There might be a short visit to Mexico this winter, there might not. Thanks to everyone that came with us in spirit, and especially those who commented.

I have two other blogs; you should see links on the right side of this page. Timothy Gwyn Writes is about my efforts as a writer of Science Fiction, and I post there at random intervals all year. Lake of the Woods Ice Patrol features aerial photographs and commentary on the spring conditions on the lake where I live. It is insanely busy for six weeks or so in the spring, when cottagers and boaters want to know when the lake will have open water. Ice Patrol generated some 60,000 hits in five weeks last year, but it won’t be active again until April or so.

Bye for now. Safe travels.

Saranac Lake, NY to Kingston, ON

Kept our morning walk simple today, strolling along the sidewalks around Saranac Lake for half an hour and return. We could have completed a loop in something like fifteen minutes more, but Caroline’s knee was sore, so we retraced our steps.

Drove out of the Adirondack National Park today, stopping twice to allow wild turkeys to cross the road.

Dingbat got us lost in Watertown, because after we told him we wanted to stop at Five Guys for cheeseburgers, we forgot to untell him that we wanted to go to the center of the city. So he tried to do both. Five Guys Burgers and Fries, by the way, is the soul-partner of California’s In-N-Out Burger. Real beef, and they know where their potatoes came from today. They even had malt vinegar for the fries. Why do we always discover these places on our last day? Actually, there is one in Ottawa.

It was cloudy all morning and it started raining at lunch-time. This reminds me to mention that Mitsu has a nice feature: if you have the front wipers on, when you put the car in reverse, the rear wiper makes a couple of passes without being asked. Good thinking, Mitsubishi.

Before I forget: Coca-Cola – it’s not just for breakfast any more! Saw someone enjoying an ice cold one with her dinner and white wine. I don’t know what would taste worse, the wine or the coke. Maybe the dinner.

Crossed back into Canada at the Thousand Island bridge. Shortest border stop ever. No line up in lane two and our only purchases were the picnic cooler and a single bottle of wine. Usually we bring back more wine than our duty-free allowance, but we’re flying back to Winnipeg soon, so we’d have to pay extra baggage or shipping. Decided against.

I thought for sure we’d spot all of the Eastern US licence plates on this trip, but we never saw a Delaware. They must not get out much. We got all the others, and we even spotted some stray westerners like Oregon. And California – they will not stay home.

When we chose to cut short our planned two-day stop in Lake Placid/Saranac Lake, we booked another night in Kingston. This will give us more time to track down some genealogy stuff for Caroline; we’ll be able to do it as a side trip tomorrow instead of fitting it in on the way back to Ottawa.

Bennington, VT to Saranac Lake, NY

Found our way to the One World Conservation Center in Bennington for a one-hour walk at the Greenberg Reserve. What began as a meadow walk had me wishing for my hiking boots and staff after we ventured onto the Woodland Trail.

The second stop of the day was Arlington, Vermont. Once upon a time, this community was home to one of Caroline’s ancestors, Jehiel Hawley, who founded the St. James Episcopalian Church there. However, he was a Loyalist, and most of his neighbours, notably Ethan Allen, were Patriots. Must have made for some lively block parties before he fled for Canada. Appropriated by the Patriots, his old house became the governor’s mansion for a time. Supposedly, one of the views from the house is featured on the Vermont state seal. Here’s the house.

Chittenden Home. Probably.

Chittenden Home. Probably.

Finding it was a challenge. After visiting the church and asking at town hall, we ended up consulting a historian at the library. (We just happened to be there on the right day of the week.)

A mixed bag of driving today. From Arlington, we headed into New York and onto County Route 61. Remember what I said  about having to turn a corner every ten miles yesterday, just to stay on the same road? Same deal today, but every mile and a half! We even saw a covered bridge in New York, as well as (ho-hum) a last example in Vermont.

Stopped for lunch, and the sun came out. Bonus. It was supposed to be cloudy all day. 20141014_111323Somewhere around here I got mayonnaise on the lens, because all the pictures I took after this are artfully soft-focus.

North through the Adirondacks on I-89, then small highways to Lake Placid.  We were hoping it would be like Bozeman, Montana but it’s more like Banff, Alberta, being more touristy than we expected. Our hotel was rustic and rather lacking in desks and electrical outlets. Moved on to Saranac Lake instead, where we have a larger, quieter, more modern room.

There are not a lot of restaurants here, so we may not stay two nights.

Freeport, ME to Waterbury, VT

We had a longer drive today, but what a lovely day for it. The sun shone, skies were blue and autumn colours were outstanding. Rather than take a direct route, we wandered through the White Mountains again, swinging by Mount Washington. It is a good thing we did not want to do the scenic drive to the top; a traffic cop was controlling traffic at the intersection where it begins, but the line-up was nearly a mile long. Trailheads for the better known hiking trails were also overflowing with cars, so our peaceful walk at the Mast Landing Audubon Sanctuary now seems to have been a wonderful idea.

That was a short walk, just forty-five minutes. We did not see a flying squirrel. I will add them to my list of critters that continue to elude me, along with grizzly bears and sasquatch. At every river crossing, I take a good hard look from the bridge.

The entire town of North Conway was one enormous traffic jam until we made it past the Farmer’s Market. Like Kenora on a summer Wednesday, but six times as long.

We did find the covered bridge in Jackson.

They're everywhere!

They’re everywhere!

View from the bridge

View from the bridge

20141012_111241Took this from our picnic table.

Caroline is thinking of revising our dinner plans. We had a reservation in town, because long weekend, but the restaurant in the hotel looks very nice and would not require any driving.

Matt from the front desk somehow forced my tablet to recognize the WiFi here, and we’re up and running again. I just jammed all three pictures in together, because we’re off for dinner at Café Provence on Blush Hill.

Bar Harbor, ME to Freeport, ME

Today we backtracked down the coastal highway to Bath to visit the Maine Maritime Museum we didn’t have time for a few days ago. You don’t actually see much of the ocean on this road, it’s nothing like the Pacific Coast highway.

Bath was home to several ship-builders over the centuries, and came to specialize in six-masted schooners that ran up and down the Atlantic coast. We also learned that jails in Maine used to feed the prisoners lobster seven days a week until there was a revolt. Caroline sympathises.

We are staying in South Freeport. Freeport is where you go to shop at outlet stores: LL Bean, North Face, Bass, Banana Republic, the list is endless. South Freeport is where  hotels go to to die. Some of the lucky ones get re-imagined as office buildings. We saw one motel that had been re-purposed as a self-storage complex – all the windows were papered over. This seems a terrible waste of plumbing, even if the fixtures were removed and sold off.

Our hotel is quite nice, we have a room that overlooks the ornamental pond and pool. We had plans for dinner, but they completely fell through.

Portsmouth, NH to Bar Harbor, ME

The sun has been toying with us, making it hard to get nice pictures of the fall colours. Our morning walk in  Portsmouth was bright and sunny, and took us to Prescott park, near the Memorial Bridge.

Dennet Street, Portsmouth, NH

On Dennet Street, Portsmouth, NH

Sailing barge at Prescott Park

Sailing barge at Prescott Park

There were two highlights on our drive today. The first was our picnic lunch, and the second is when I overruled Dingbat and got us lost.

We stopped at a supermarket to stock up on lunch supplies today, and chose seafood salad for a lunchmeat. Also, there was a salad bar to build your own take-out. The seafood subs we built were amazing, and the fresh strawberries and kiwi were wonderful, too. We ate them at Bath. The Visitor Information Center wasn’t scenic, but the lady there directed us just a few seconds down the road to a beautiful waterfront park with a picnic shelter and Adirondack chairs. Pictures didn’t do it justice.

In order to persuade Dingbat to guide us down the Coastal Highway rather than the Interstate, we asked him to route us via Camden. Choosing a city as a waypoint often has an undesirable side-effect – he insists on taking you right to City Hall, whether it’s on the road through town or not. Just before the turn-off to Camden, I reset the destination to Bar Harbor direct. Dingbat still wanted to take the turn into Camden, but wise to his ways, I drove straight ahead. Into a construction zone. After waiting to get through that, we had to backtrack down a country lane to get back on to the right highway, and yes, you have to go through Camden. However, the country lane was beautiful, so it wasn’t a total loss. I was tired of driving an hour before we got to Bar Harbor, so I’m glad we’re here.

For dinner tonight, we’ll try The Chart Room. Reviews on Trip Advisor are mixed, but our front desk clerk speaks highly of it.

Ottawa, ON to South Burlington, VT

We got started on the driving today, but not at our usual early hour. Before we could head to the airport and pick up our rental, I had to fit in my morning walk. I’ve been out every morning since we arrived in Ottawa, and today I headed over to the Rideau Canal and walked the towpath all the way to the locks and back. It would have been easier if they had put the locks on a more level piece of ground.

Cabbed out to the airport to pick up our car at National. Our RAV4 or equivalent turned out to be a Jeep Cherokee. This did not sit well with Caroline, who has never forgiven Jeep for the Great Rental Debacle that saw us making an unplanned overnight stop in Tepic, Mexico, and then cutting short our trip from Mazatlan to Puerto Vallarta without visiting our friends. I won’t recap it here, except to say that up to that time, I had never spoken such a long sentence in Spanish as “I need a little bottle of brake fluid.” Nor attempted so much in such an untouristy place as a truck stop. Anyway, feet were put down at the car rental counter. We ended up with a Mitsubishi Outlander. It’s a similar shade of black to our Honda CRV at home. Speaking of being at home, I am very pleased that we brought Dingbat with us. Regular readers will recall that Dingbat is our GPS, and that many of our adventures would have been either impossible or unneccessary without him. I had thought that Dingbat would be a waste of space if the rental had a built-in, but that was not actually the case. National offers the use of a Garmin Nuvi and a suction mount, but you have to pay extra. For our two-week trip, this would have amounted to $139. Dingbat has comprehensive and up-to-date maps, a larger screen than the unit available from National (I refuse to call it a loaner) and I get to drive with the familiar voice of my old friend.

We set off out of the Ottawa airport and were delighted to find that we had virtually no city driving at all. ‘Mitsu’ drives a little larger than our CRV, more because of the smaller windows than any real increase in size, but it was nice not to be getting acquainted in a crowd. The run down to Cornwall and the border was as easy as pie. Never driven a pie, but I hear it’s a piece of cake. Customs was some other metaphor, and also very quick. The main delay was in waiting for the woman driving the car ahead of us to hop out of her car to open the back door to retrieve her purse and presumably her passport. Caroline wonders why women do this. I wouldn’t dare. Wonder, I mean. I have no qualms about conducting a one-man Chinese Fire Drill under the watchful eye of the Customs Cam. That’s not the sort of thing that makes them curious at all; that only arises when you switch drivers at the last minute. Appearing to take the opportunity to move things from part of the car that the officer can see when you stop at the booth is okay. Suffice it to say that our visit at that booth was significantly shorter than hers. About three cars shorter.

We’re in South Burlington now, after a lunch stop in Rouses Point. The hotel here is artfully concealed. It’s not easy to hide a Best Western when there’s a sign right at the side of the road, but it can be done if you set the hotel back a full block, build it with the entryway at the back, and avoid conspicuous signage on the building itself.

As you may be able to tell by the re-emergence of my sense of humour, I had a nap before opening this blog. Get used to it, it’s going to be a long trip. Next up, dinner at Leunig’s Bistro. Tomorrow, local sightseeing and shopping for a few odds and ends to make the trip go smoother.