2 Jul 2015
|As I approached the Canadian border, I realized that I didn’t have my passport ready. It wasn’t in the compartment next to me where I keep toll money, discount cards, etc. I pulled into a rest area and checked in the RV closet where I keep my wallet and keys at night. Nope. Next try was the hidden compartment in my truck where I keep spare cash. Nope, again. Last try was the hidden compartment in my RV where I keep still more hidden cash. No, again. We have a problem!
When a reached a truck stop, I pulled off to the side and opened all four sliders. It didn’t take long to find it. My passport was in the box where I keep my checkbook. Not a bad location but not something I could reach while traveling. A great thing about a well-designed RV is that there are lots of small drawers and cabinets. A bad thing about living in an RV is there are lots of small drawers and cabinets.
With passport in hand, I confidently headed for the border crossing. A pictorial sign showed 5 lanes but had no words. No English or French. The first three lanes had pictures of cars. The fourth had a picture of a Class A motorhome. The fifth showed an 18-wheeler truck. OK. Am I like the motorhome or like the commercial vehicle? I have an RV like the picture for Lane 4; I have a truck and trailer like the picture for Lane 5. But, I ’m not exactly like either one. I decided that the sign meant “RV” and proceeded to Lane 4. As I approached, all of the lanes except Lane 1 had red lights. Lane 1 was the only lane with a green light. The roof over lanes 1, 2, and 3 looked much too low for me. Cautiously, I went to Lane 4 with the obvious red light. There was no one in the booth. After just a few minutes, a customs agent approached and assured me that I had picked the correct lane. She explained that I should always enter the RV lane, even when it’s closed. OK, I’ll remember that for the return trip.
She asked me where I lived. Answer: “South Dakota”. Fortunately, she didn’t ask any uncomfortable questions, like “when did I leave from South Dakota on this trip”. What she did ask was, “Why are you traveling to Canada? Answer: “Umm. Because I’m traveling?” She didn’t like that answer. New answer, “My Great Grandfather lived in Newfoundland.” She liked that answer much better. I’m surprised that she didn’t ask about food on board nor did she ask to see inside the trailer. (My fridge and pantry were full.) She let this shady character cross the border.
As I approached the little town of Woodstock, New Brunswick, the song “Woodstock” came on the radio. For a second, I thought the local radio station simply liked that song. But, no, this was satellite radio broadcast for all of North America. That means I’m likely to be the only one to get the joke!
I arrived at the campground just in time for the end of their Canada Day (July 1) celebration. For me, this meant a free hamburg and a free piece of cake. Timing is everything!
I had called ahead and they had reserved site 5 for me. It would have been a nice site, except someone else had already parked there. Sigh. They moved a boat and made room for me at the very end of the campground, site 68. It turned out to be a beautify site. I’m right at the edge of the St. John River with a fantastic view. On the opposite shore is “Grafton Hill”, which is interesting only because I used to live in Grafton, Massachusetts.
The next day, I explored the area by bicycle. Fortuitously, there is a rail trail that goes right past the campground and into town. Along the way, I found several interesting sights. One was an abandoned railroad line that crossed over the rail trail that I was on. An abandoned rail bed over an abandoned rail bed! Another was a tall, man-made nest platform. Can one of my readers tell me what type of bird is living in the nest? Osprey?
Before starting this trip, I knew “what” types of RVs exist: motorhomes, trailers, pop-ups, etc. I also knew “when” RVs are used: full-timing, part-timing, seasonals, vacationers, and weekenders. What I didn’t realize is the incredible variety of “why” and “how”. I’ve met dozens and dozens of “neighbors”, each has an interesting but different tale.
I was surprised at how many don’t travel far from home. Here in New Brunswick, almost everyone is from New Brunswick. At the Vermont campground, almost everyone had a home elsewhere in Vermont. Similarly, many in Maine and Rhode Island, had only traveled an hour or so to get there. One couple here in New Brunswick pointed to their house on the other side of the river! Almost everyone who lives at the campground all season either works at the campground or commutes from the campground to their regular job.
One couple is on the first leg of a very long bicycle adventure. They have no RV, just a tent in their saddlebags. They plan to eventually reach California. Another couple had owned a Class A Motorhome for 8 years and has now downsized to a motorcycle towing a pop-up trailer. They seem very happy with their tiny living spaces.
Not surprisingly, many of my neighbors use the campground as their second home because they can’t afford a “sticks and bricks” second home. Unfortunately, a few are living at the campground because they can’t afford any home or apartment at all. When asked what they’ll do in the winter, they don’t know. They’re living day-to-day.
I originally thought that other “full-timers” were like me, roaming the countryside. Nope. Most of them stay put for most of the year. They stay in one campground up north for the entire summer season, drive south and stay in another campground all winter. They’re basically the same as snow birders (or reverse snow birders) except that they don’t have a house at either end. I know that there are other styles of full-timing. I’m sure I’ll eventually meet some in my travels, just not yet.
Everyone has a story and loves to tell it to me when I ask. An increasingly important part of my adventure is hearing about their adventures!