West of the Border
Oct 5, 2008
|We re-enter the U.S. at Houlton, Maine - Sunday, October 5
Note: When going from Canada to the United States we tend to think of it as a drive from north to south, but the border between Woodstock, New Brunswick and Houlton, Maine runs straight north and south, so at this port of entry you come into the U.S. from the east.
Our stay at Woodstock’s Cosy(sic) Cabins Motel and RV Park was a good one for our last night in Canada. The motel is run down and funky and you probably wouldn’t want to rent a room there, but the RV park is clean and green and we had a campsite right out on the banks of the St. John River. We woke to the honking of Canada geese and the squawking of ravens, and a walk down to the water revealed a great blue heron standing silently at the water’s edge hoping for a meal.
The lawn is littered with strange, dome shaped mushrooms, and the red and orange trees across the river are reflected in the placid flow of the water.
Last night Madolyn was reading the instructions for going through U.S. Customs and we were surprised to learn that there are restrictions on meat and vegetables you can bring into the country. We have half a dozen cod filets from Labrador in the freezer, two fresh haddock filets in the fridge, and a lot of Nova Scotia potatoes and a beautiful orange colored cauliflower called a ‘cheddar’ cauliflower in the veggie compartment. What to do??!!
We decided to fix the haddock and cauliflower for dinner, and just hope and pray they wouldn’t take the cod away from us at the border.
We dawdled and dragged our feet until way past noon, and then we reluctantly disconnected and got on the road for the border. It is a short drive of about 15 miles to the Houlton, Maine port of entry, and we stopped at a Sobey’s supermarket in Woodstock on our way. We still had about $60.00 in Canadian money and we wanted to use some of it up.
At the border there were two lines of cars and trucks already waiting so we got at the end of the line designated for RV’s and we joined the wait. The Customs officials handled the traffic pretty quickly and in less than half an hour we were up to the booth. A nice young woman checked our ID’s and asked us a couple of questions about how long we’d been in Canada. She seemed more interested in what we had in the way of food than in what we’d bought that might incur duties, and after a few minutes she directed us to two agricultural inspectors who she said would ask us some more questions.
Another nice young woman and an older man greeted us and chatted with us as she boarded the motorhome and went through the refrigerator and freezer with Madolyn. She wound up apologetically confiscating half a lemon and turned us loose with our cod and potatoes unmolested. Needless to say we were greatly relieved.
We got on Highway 95 (yes - the same Highway 95 that goes all the way down to the Florida Keys) and at the next exit we turned off to gas up and stop at the Visitor Center. The busy crossroads had several gas stations and at all of them regular gas was $3.469 a gallon. The last time we filled up in New Brunswick we paid 1.197 per liter, an amount that translates to 4.536 per gallon. Needless to say we were greatly relieved again!
It’s interesting to note that gas in Canada is some 18 cents a liter (86 cents a gallon) cheaper than three months ago when we entered, while at the same time gas in the U.S. has gone up approximately 19 cents a gallon. We filled up and got back on I-95 for a while, then we turned off and took the backroads the rest of the way to Medway where we stopped and camped for the night. The fall coloring in Maine is gorgeous, as it was in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and the tropical storm/hurricane that came through a week ago does not seem to have done much damage.
A last observation on our time in Canada:
We spent exactly 12 weeks (84 days) in the country and we traveled 6,367 miles, 754 of that by sea on the 8 ferry rides we took. We visited the five provinces of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Quebec, and we camped in all of them except Quebec.
The things we saw and the people we met made it an unforgettable and life changing experience. Best of all is the fact that we have driven (or ridden a ferry) every mile of the way from our driveway in California to the farthest point in Labrador. This kind of travel gives us a continuity that we just don’t get flying somewhere on an airplane. We can think back and remember how the country looked and how it changed every step of the way, sometimes slowly and subtly, and other times with an abruptness that was shocking in it’s intensity.
For those of you who have ridden along by means of this journal, we hope you’ve enjoyed the trip as much as we did, and we have been honored and delighted to enjoy your company. At Saint John, New Brunswick we turned away from our beloved ocean and headed inland. Our trip south will take us along a route that is far different from the coastal roads we followed north. We will miss the ocean for the next two months, but what we do see we are sure to enjoy and find new and exciting - so come on along as we continue our journey south through New England’s hardwood forests.