Our Chalet Truck Camper

Our Chalet Truck Camper

Friday, November 19, 2010

November Dry Camping Maine Coast in fantastic weather

Recompence Campground, Wolfe's Neck Farm, Freeport, ME

November 11-14, 2010

Twenty one truck camper rigs and 48 people gathered for a perfect late fall weekend by Casco Bay. This site is part of a 600+ acre salt water farm that has been put into conservation trust. West Bay sites are dry camping with no facilities except gorgeous views from all sides. This year the weather gave us a gift with never a cloud, no fog, snow or rain, low wind, and days in the 50s to 60F. Even though the week before had been heavy rains, the ground had dried enough so no one sank into mud.

Joe and I went over early Thursday AM thinking we would beat everyone but found that Jim and Genie from western PA had come in the night before. They made a 12 hour trek to end up in the dark by the ocean where they had never been before. Good for them! It was their first trip in their Lance, having just traded from a pop-up.

By mid morning, the TCs were rolling in.

We had campers from western PA down to Rhode Island, from Quebec to Nova Scotia and in between. Amazing how the prospects of a good weather weekend with other TCs will bring folks out. We set up two 10x20 tents and started the fire. By Thursday evening, twelve campers had arrived and were enjoying drinks and appetizers by a blazing fire by the ocean.

Two of our North East campers from NY had already winterized their TC and actually had snow on it. What a surprise when they drove up to join us. Who says TCers can't overnight in a motel if they have to.

Friday saw the arrival of more campers, kids, dogs, friends, and great sunshine. Many people went into Freeport to LL Bean and other stores to do some early holiday shopping. Did I mention there are brew pubs and taverns in Freeport?

There were several campers who were either first time ever truck campers or who were using a new camper. How I wish all who want to get into truck camping could come to a meet/greet like this one and get all those questions answered. With this many pieces of equipment, both trucks and campers, there were mechanical problems. Mike Tassinari (as usual) sprang into repair mode and fixed a solar problem for us, hot water for Phil, battery for Jim, and diagnosed a dead Jeep. Thanks Mike!

Here are some of the first time campers. One couple had attended last year's Springfield, MA RV show just to see truck campers. Lots of us met them there and stayed in touch as they figured out what they wanted. They ended up with one of our group's Ford and Lance camper and came to Freeport as their first campout.

Saturday a few more rigs rolled in including TWO triple Chalets. I'm sure they got tired showing the floor space and exterior storage bays but graciously did so.

Joe and I had gotten quite a few emails from people who saw news of the gathering both on RV.NET and Truck Camper Magazine and wrote to ask if they could come by. Four couples did come and got a great education on campers. One of the couples had bought our 2005 F-350 and now know they want a side entry, aft kitchen, single slide. Another found out that probably his F-150 is not going to carry what he had been hoping but better to know now than later. Thanks again everyone for showing your campers.

We barely fit into the two tents for our Saturday night potluck. Door prizes were drawn and how does it happen that Paul almost always gets drawn first?

Travel tales around the fire continued to sunset and beyond. Half moon, bright stars and flocks of geese flying by aren't exactly hard to take.

Sunday a tradition continued and the men cooked breakfast while we gals had coffee and talked. Joe had had a half cord of dry hard wood delivered and by Sunday morning we were throwing the last log on the fire.

Thanks everyone for coming, for the great time, drink, food and tales of places to go we shared. What a fun group with every single person sharing in the work of tents up, tents down, moving tables, cooking, etc. etc. We're now scattered back across the North East (and a bit beyond) but ready to do it again next year. Those reading this - you coming?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

September 24 - Meat Cove to Mabou

Leaving Meat Cove we looked back at the TCs still there. It's a remarkable place to camp.

Our last day together, we travelled in small groups back down the Cabot Trail, again conquering the 13% grades. Some of us rolled through Cheticamp and on to the Glenora Distillary. This is North America's only distillery using everything from Scotland except the water. They won't call it Scotch but that is what it is. At over $200 for a 250ml bottle, we did not leave with any.

Our goal was Mabou and the The Red Shoe Pub for a farewell meal and an evening of Celtic music. Of course we knitters stopped at a local farm where they raise the sheep, shear, spin, and dye their own wool.

Paula and Jerry arranged for us to park on the local dock overnight.

We walked up to the pub, again had local food and listened to fiddle, piano, spoons and pipes. We scattered in the morning heading back to ME, MA, PA, NY, and CT. The thought and effort Paula and Jerry put into this trip will grow into legend. Thanks you two for all the hard work, photos, and those great Nova Scotia caps.

Paula and Jerry:

Eh Canada ! You are a beautiful place.

September 21 - Cabot Trail to Cheticamp

September 21 - Hurricane Igor interfers with our Truck Camping plans - how dare he! Originally we were leaving Englishtown to go to Meat Cove but the gale force winds made us reconsider. Jerry and Paula called both camping places and found that we could swap days. So today we headed around the Cabot Trail from Englishtown to Cheticamp instead of Meat Cove. The winds were at least 40 mph but the day was clear with huge waves kicked up by the hurricane winds.

What is it with Nova Scotia and the coffee and pastry shops? We have not noticed overweight folks here but it is probably because most of the walking they have to do is straight up and down steep hills. We stopped at the Clucking Hen for coffee and disturbed the locals by filling the parking lot. Local wood and glass artisan shops were within walking distance so they were probably happy to see us.

We next stopped at the Chowder House at Neil's Harbor, parking on the lobster wharf and taking about a bazillion photos of the huge waves. They were really rolling in at about 12-15' and breaking at sea.

There was a very small local road from Neil's Harbor back to the Cabot Trail which gave us vistas far to sea and an idea of how this land is formed. Deep valley's, steep hills/mountains and protected harbors and always the very restless sea pounding in.

The west side of the Cabot Trail is very steep, a long, tough climb even for our TC trucks. We stopped several times along the way to rest the trucks and look out over the ocean. It always amazes us when a person in a rest area asks "Are all of you together?". Like why would thirteen truck campers roll in together if we weren't together????? The Cabot Trail is as spectacular as we had all hoped it would be.

We're camped in Cheticamp for two days. We'll backtrack to Meat Cove as none of us want to miss the chance to camp on a remote cliff overlooking the ocean and watching (hopefully) whales pass by. By Thursday the hurricane winds and waves should be gone and a more comfortable camp will be possible.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Nova Scotia - Baadeck

September 20 - Englishtown and Baadeck - Today was the second day at Englishtown Ridge Campground. This is an immaculate place with flat camp sites, a stone building with fireplace, tables, chairs to socialize and a very welcoming atmosphere. The day was a non travel day and a time to catch a bit of rest and do local sightseeing.

Most of us went into Baadeck to fuel up, re provision and take in the sights. Joe and I wen to the Alexander Graham Bell Exhibit, run by the Provincial parks department. I'd always associated the Bell name with just the telephone but he was quite the inventor and mechanical genius. He built prototypes for a hydrofoil boat and during WWI the US Navy was interested in them. War ended and Bell never developed them further. He also worked with his wife Mabel and Helen Keller on improving the methods of teaching deaf to communicate more easily. Quite the man! This photo is of propeller designs for a hydrofoil.

Group of us women went to a local yarn shop and later sat around to have Toni demonstrate sock making. I know that doesn't excite most of you but it is a great hobby for those hours riding in the truck or lazing around a campfire. I later found one of my favorite Canadian yarns on sale at, of all places, a local grocery store! and at less price then the mill which I'd planned on visiting on the way home.

The day was off again on again drizzle but ended in one of those nature shows that's hard to believe. First came a double rainbow in the middle of a bright pink sky. "Red sky at night, sailors delight" so we should have great weather tomorrow for the trip up to Meat Cove, the tip of Cape Breton.

and then to top that came a spectacular sunset.

Most of our travelers watched "RV", the movie with Robin Williams tonight which comically shows how not to handle the systems in an RV. We'll be up early tomorrow to travel on to Meat Cove. All of us are hoping the weather holds and also that we will have whales pass by the campground. I doubt there is wifi so will catch up hopefully when we get to Cheticamp.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Nova Scotia - Iona and the Heritage Village Museum

September 19 - Today we split in quite a few directions but all ended up at Englishtown, finally arriving on Cape Breton Island. the 104 highway is a good, divided well kept road that showcased long views out over the waterway between Prince Edward Island and Cape Breton.

Several TCs headed off to Fortress Louisbourg, the largest reconstructed 18th-century French fortified town in North America. There are over 35 buildings in this fort with history interpreters in period dress to tell the story. It takes a full day to walk around and visit all the sights.

Others headed on to Baddeck to shop, have a lunch and then proceed to our night's camp. Three of us chose to go to Iona to the Heritage Village Museum. It's pretty easy to travel with other TCers but especially with those who served in the military. Joe's Coast Guard, Chuck's Marine and Ron's Navy. There's never a thought about not having able hands always available.

So many times on this trip we have had a ferry crossing. Many of the ferrys are "on call" meaning that when they see vehicles on one side ready to cross over, the ferry goes to get them. They all also seem to cost $5 no matter the length of the crossing. We three all fit on a very small ferry and got to chat with a local ferryman about Cape Breton on the five minute trip.

The Highland Village Museum is a living history museum and depicts life as lived by the early Scottish Gaelic culture. The web site at http://museum.gov.ns.ca/hv/ has videos and background music which will get your toes tapping. We wandered through almost all of the buildings and climbed up and down the steep paths. This was a very worthwhile stop on our trip.

The museum has several Highland cattle, shaggy, horned cattle that were originally brought by the Scottish settlers. How'd you like to farm on this land?

For those of you who haven't seen the north Atlantic coastline it is hard to describe. Photos are the only way.

We caught up with the group and even though it is now raining, we sat around a campfire all holding umbrellas. Hard to keep truck camper folk inside. Tomorrow we'll go to Baddeck to tour the Alexander Graham Bell site and to walk around the markets. Supposed to be a rain day again but we'd like to get the weather out of the way before we head up to Meat Cove. A TC not with our group pulled in tonight just coming back from the tip of Cape Breton. He said the roads are passable into Meat Cove, they had a great camp on the side of the steep slope to the sea and watched many whales go by. Fingers crossed we can do the same.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Mahone Bay to Peggy's Cove Nova Scotia

September 17- After our ketch trip Thursday, the crowd was dragging so made a quiet night of it. Rain overnight and then heavy rain to start out travel day. The first stop was in Mahone Bay to go to the farmers market, do laundry if necessary and reprovision. Why more provisions who knows as all of us have been partaking of the super local seafood restaurants and bakeries. And yes there was a true bread baker at the farmer's market who had everything from chocolate croisants to those long thin crusty loaves.

I'd looked forward to going into some of the Nova Scotia yarn shops and found a real treasure in "Just a Yarn" in Mahone Bay. If an of you are fiber people, it is a must stop. Others went into the quilt shop and the pewter maker. Mahone Bay was yet another small, walkable Nova Scotia town with friendly people and lots to see.

We split up from here with most of us eventually following the coastal route from Mahone Bay up to Peggy's Cove, wending our way through inlets, coves and tiny fishing villages. Road names like "Pig Loop" and "Dead Horse" crop up but many of the road names reflect the Scottish heritage with McGregor, Culloden, etc. pretty common. By early afternoon we were in the midst of a strong coastal squall with heavy rain and high winds probably in the 40 mph range.

We are camped just before Peggy's Cove in Indian Harbor, again right on the ocean. This time we are on a small hill or the salt water would be washing over the campers.

Ted and Mike were parked closer then we were to the ocean. Here they are during the storm.

Eventually the storm broke and we could see sunset with a promise of clear sunny skies tomorrow.

Tomorrow we'll do a group breakfast over near the Peggy's Cove lighthouse, visit the shale ledges at the cove and then have a driving day to Antigonish. We plan on sticking to PH7 (Provincal Highway) which will take us right along the coast. Some of that will depend on the weather and deciding if we want to do 160+ miles at 35-50 mph (scenic as it is).

September 18 - The storm blew every particle of pollution out of the air and left us with one of those picture postcard days.

Peggy's Cove is a major tourist attraction and we wanted to get in and out prior to the busloads of folks from the cruise ships out of Halifax. We passed a lot of those buses - double decker and tandem buses on the way out. The cove is a working fishing village with a year round population of 35. This is one of the working wharves with the mirror smooth ocean.

We filled up the back half of the parking lot with a lot of TCs plus an extra Adventurer rented by a couple from Germany who were fascinated with all the TCs.

After a hearty breakfast of fish cakes, fried potato and fatback bacon we waddled up to the light house. Trying to corral 20+ people for a group photo was slightly difficult. Anyway, here is the lighthouse.

(On Edit  - a fellow traveller had this great shot of most of the group at the lighthouse)

We decided not to travel up the coast as we will see a lot of coastline around Cape Breton. The Trans Canada Highway is a well engineered smooth road, easy to drive and lots of scenery including a Bald Eagle. Guess I cannot call it an American Bald Eagle since we are in Canada.

Tonight we are in Antigonish to do laundry, fuel up, sit by the campfire and plan more travels. Tomorrow we head for a two night stay in Englishtown. Some will mackeral fish, some will kayak and others will tour over to Fortress Louisbourg National Historic Site. Joe and I plan a side trip to Iona to see the Highland Village Museum, recreating early settler life on Cape Breton. More when we get wifi again.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Nova Scotia - Lunenburg sail

September 16 - Lunenburg

The Truck Camper crowd takes to the sea! What a fabulous and exhausting day. Jerry and Paula chartered the "Eastern Sea", a 48 foot wooden sailing ketch to take us for a sail around Lunenburg Harbor and out to sea. GLORIOUS day, a bit nippy and VERY windy but one of those special times we'll all remember for a long time. Here's the ketch.

We motored out from the dock and then the fore and aft sails were raised. Joe helps raise sail, a long way from his Coast Guard days. Only the two smaller sails were raised as it was VERY windy and raising the main sail would have probably capsized us.

Some of our crew took their turn at the helm. Here's Mike with Tom standing by to lend a hand.

and here is Ted (FarcticOx) with our trip mascot, Ducker. Ducker is the name of a breed of dog from Nova Scotia. Each TC gets to keep Ducker for the day and take him to new and interesting places. Each evening around the fire, the tales of the day are told.

Why do we all look like we are dressed for the Arctic? Why it is pretty cold out to sea with a high wind. Here's part of our crew on the sun side of the ketch.

Coming back to harbor, the wind really kicked up and we were rail in the water a lot of the time.

For those of you who don't sail or spend time on the water, putting the rail in the water means the boat is tipped way over on it's side until one rail is touching the ocean. It's a fine trick for a skipper to race like that and not go too far.

Two of our group, Catherine and Paul (Miskeeta) decided to stay on the down rail side. They were holding on.

Two hours of sun, wind, sail, water and we were pretty tired, wind and sun burned when we got back and no one would change a thing. Lunenburg is a very steep town, built into the side of a hill and though the harbor area is water level, getting back to the TCs involves a long, long uphill climb. We decided to fortify outselves for the trek and had a seafood lunch at the "The Knot Pub". Some shopped their way back including a local distillery and fresh vegetable mart.

Tomorrow we head for Mahone Bay and Peggy's Cove to once again camp right on the ocean.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Nova Scotia - Whale Cove to Lunenburg

More Nova Scotia - September 14-15 - Reports when we get good wifi access which isn't that often

Our truck camper hosts, Paula and Jerry, did a HUGE amount of preplanning for this trip. They better watch out or all of us will want to tag along with them to Mexico next winter. It's not easy figuring out where a dozen truck campers can all stop at one time in tiny towns and country roads but they did it.

Tuesday morning the 14th we left Whale Cove and drove through the bottom center of Nova Scotia, going west to east, following along Route 8 through woods that reminded Joe and I of The Great North Woods in Maine. This land was scoured by glaciers eons ago, leaving behind tiny lakes, ridges, and rock formations. Much like Maine, this is timber land and the roads reflect it. Part way though we stopped at a small country store to be greeted by hot pastries just coming out of the oven. Nova Scotia folks know how to bake as we have found out repeatedly. We passed through Kempt and Calendonia, stopping in Liverpool for fuel, groceries and to replenish the adult beverage stash. This was our longest travel day in distance. The goal was getting to Petite Riviere and Rissers Beach Provincial Park.

And oh my what a gorgeous beach this is. Jerry and Paula had reserved the boondock spaces right on the sand beach, a rare treat for those of us who don't have access to sand beaches. The sun was strong, the wind even stronger and we watched as a fog bank was coming into shore. Then the fog lifted and we had one of those perfect nights to camp listening to the surf and no traffic noise at all.

We actually got both sun and wind burns but worth it. We picked rocks, shells and explored folded rock wall along the beach.

Here's the view from inside the camper window.

Today (9/15) we drove up to Paula's ancesteral home near La Have. Parked on a tiny road running by the beach where she used to spend summers and all walked, picking up sea glass, more shells and enjoying listening to her talk about growing up here. Is this a row of Truck Campers or what? We've turned quite a few heads watching us go by during our travels.

The beach is mostly shale that has splintered and been pounded by the North Atlantic forever. For those of you who haven't walked such a beach the smells, sights and sounds are memorable. Even for those of us who can get to ocean beaches, this one was so clean and enjoyable.

Another great bakery with hot raisin and cranberry scones and coffee just before the ferry towards Lunenburg. You can drive the big U shape to get around the bay but at $5 it saves a lot of fuel and it's pretty. The ferry men said it was the heaviest load they had all summer even though we could only get five campers at a time on the ferry.

Tonight we are camped at the Lunenburg Board of Trade campground - next to the Visitors Center. Most of us walked down, down, down into Lunenburg and went to the Fisheries Museum. There were exhibits and artifacts on whaling, cod fishing, rum running and how the wooden ships were built. They are restoring a huge 4 masted schooner berthed behind the museum. Some of our group explored the inns, taverns, gift shops of this small town that has not gone commercial. It was a long, steep climb back to the campground as you can see by the tired looks all around.

Tomorrow we take a cruise on the "Eastern Star" sloop out into Lunenburg Harbor and some of the surrounding islands. Who said Truck Campers had to stay on land?