Posted by: glenswatman | July 5, 2007

200706-2- June USA (Mass NH Maine) Canada (New Brunswick)

SATURDAY 16 JUNE – We manage a reasonable
amount of sleep but are awake in plenty of time for the taxi that we have
booked with Wayne. Tina gets up to see
us off and by 7.30am we are winging our way across Boston to the Four Points
Sheraton at Revere. We are being picked
up here by Moturis motorhome rental company and find a German couple also
waiting for them. Marco arrives just
before 8.30am and we head north to their depot near Rowley. The German couple are renting a van but
using the Internet ( we
have arranged to buy an ex rental model.
We are shown to our 2005, model J29, Four Winds 5000 29’ “C” class
motorhome and left to check it over whilst he sees to his rental customers. II guess this is the moment “When Harry
meets Swatty” as this is the name we are giving this van, continuing with the
royal theme. The layout is exactly as
expected with a bed over the cab and a sofa and dinette directly behind it. Next comes the kitchen then the bathroom
with shower on one side and toilet and sink cubicle opposite but the piesta
resistance is the full queen sized bedroom with walk around bed at the
back. It looks shabby but this is
reflected in the $24,200 (£12,200) price that we negotiated, the next nearest
van I found on the Internet was with Cruise America and for the same year but
with 40,000 more miles on the clock it was $10,000 dearer. This vehicle was sold “as-is” but we were
assured it would be clean and with everything in working order. This is not so as it is very dirty and even
has urine stains around the toilet.
Spend the next hour or so doing a snagging list before Marco
arrives. As expected he puts most of
the things down to wear and tear and part of the sold “as is” deal but does
agree to replace 2 tyres, repair the chip on the windscreen and one or two
other bits. He previously also said we
could take it away for a few days then go back to them with anything else we
found wrong so we are happy to complete the deal at his urging. Pay the balance on my debit card and within
1 hour the temporary 1-month registration papers have arrived by fax. I have already arranged insurance with
Progressive ($646, £323) so we are now legal.
The depot is open until 12.00pm so they deal with as many of our
problems as possible whilst I begin to settle us in. There’s heaps of cupboard space everywhere except in the kitchen
but I can store tinned food etc in the lounge / dining area. End up with no structured plan as we keep
seeing other things to do and do them before we forget and then forget what we
were doing! It’s all progress and
before we know it the depot is closing and it’s after 1pm. Marco wants us to return on Wednesday, as
they are very busy early in the week.
By then the original title for the vehicle will have arrived from
Switzerland enabling us to proceed to the next stage of registering it in our
name. I walk to a nearby café and pick
up some breakfast muffins to put us on whilst we continue doing enough cleaning
to enable us to unpack. A short drive
away is a small shopping centre with a “Market Basket” supermarket. Steve remains in the van whilst I head off
to do our first grocery shop. It’s a
nightmare and I feel like turning round a walking out. The store is huge, the brands unfamiliar and
I don’t know where to start. It’s
impossible to work off my shopping list so I end up slowly cruising up and down
each isle and settling for a limited first shop. There are a number of things I cannot find and when I hear a lady
with an English accent I ask for advice.
Stephanie moved here 5 years ago and gives me lots of info and then her
phone number so that we can meet up later.
Marco says we can park at the depot for a night or two so we return,
hook up to the electric and run the air conditioner whilst cleaning up
inside. Steve starts to potter round
outside and finds that with a bit of elbow crease most of the scuffs on the
body work come off but he does find evidence of more bumps than just the one we
were told about. Inside I begin
tackling a small section at a time, one of the worst things seems to be the
upholstery. There are 2 fabrics used
and one type seems to have gone hard and crusty and no amount of sponging over
will change this. A couple of sarongs
thrown over it will have to do for now.
Fresh fish was on offer at the supermarket so using the pans and
crockery from the convenience kit that Marco included I cook us a fish stew for
tea. There’s still lots to do but we
call it a day and settle down to bed at 10pm.


SUNDAY 17 JUNE – I’m awake and restless by 4am
and get up at 5am to begin some tasks.
Once Steve is up and we have had our breakfast we return to the Market
Basket shopping centre and manage to find a phone card that will work for calls
within the States as well as overseas. I do another grocery shop and just about manage to complete my
starter list. We are quite near the
Cape Ann peninsula so set out to explore and give Harry a bit of a test drive. Make a couple of unscheduled scenic detours
en route but with leafy lanes and picture perfect wooden houses it’s rather
pleasant. At Rockport we seek out the
“Paper House”. The outside walls are
made of 215 thickness of paper with varnish on the top. Most of the newsprint can still be read and
this has been used to good effect. The
make the furniture papers were rolled up and just the ends glued down before a
varnish was applied enabling the headlines to be pieced together and still
read. Admission on an honesty system
$1.50 (75p) pp and well worth it.
Rockport is a busy little harbour town with narrow streets so we make
use of the park and ride with free parking and $1 (50p) to take the trolley bus
to the town centre. Explore Bearskin
Neck with quaint waterside houses now converted into shops selling local
crafts. The town itself is filled with
Disney style buildings and could easily be the blue print for “Main
Street”. Check out the two beaches
before walking back to the car park.
Complete our tour of the peninsula by following the coast round to
Gloucester then back via Essex with its most unusual gothic style town
hall. Tonight I cook our meal in the
microwave to test it out. We both start
doing a few more jobs but find we are too tired to continue so settle down for
an early night.


MONDAY 18 JUNE – We’ve arranged to meet
Stephanie at the shopping centre where she arrives after dropping Molly at
school. 2-year old Henry is with her
and keeps us all entertained during coffee at Dunkin Donuts. We leave to drive up to New Hampshire for
non-food shopping at the Wal Mart in Seabrook just over the border. Unlike Massachusetts they don’t have sales
tax so things will be cheaper. The
store is huge but I resign myself to traipsing up and down every single
aisle. Once my first trolley is full,
and I’m relieved of just over $200 (£100), I head back to the van for Steve to
begin unpacking. After a quick lunch I
return for more of the same and again fill another trolley for a similar
figure. Steve’s spotted a dollar store
nearby and there I find a few other things to almost complete my list. Retail therapy – pah, after 5 hours hard at
it I am not impressed. Whilst driving
the van Steve has decided there is a problem with the brakes and thinks we
should return to Moturis tomorrow to give them chance to check it out. We drive back into Massachusetts to Salisbury
Beach Recreation Park with a campground directly behind the estuary and
beach. It’s full of motorhomes but
still very pleasant. Steve spots
another van just like ours and goes over to chat to the owner, Larry. I finished unpacking and storing the packing
and feel very satisfied with the results.
Take a walk to the beach and enjoy a cool paddle in the water. Each campsite has it’s own picnic bench so
having cooked pizza, to test the oven, we sit out to eat. Problems with the new $50 (£25) colour TV,
the set works but our aerial seems to be faulty. At least we can watch it using the rabbit ears and find a channel
showing English programmes. After
showering I get to use my new hairdryer and hair iron then relax sat on the new
seat throws before heading to bed on our new sheets. With the new beige, light blue and navy colour scheme Harry is
starting to look like home.


$22 (£11)

TUESDAY 19 JUNE – I pop over with a question for
Larry and end up getting the full guided tour of all the additions made to
their van and come away with a wooden framework to go over the hob as he says
he can easily make another one. Passing
through Salisbury we see a tyre place and out of interest Steve decides to
verify that ours are legal. It turns
out there is a nail in one of them and most of the others are wearing badly as
the wheels need aligning. Marco assured
us that the tyres would all have at least half wear left on them but we were
expecting this to be across the tyre tread as opposed to meaning half the
width! Just south of Kingston is an
area known as “RV mile” with many dealers close together. At Campers Inn we manage to buy, amongst
other things, matching fablon to cover scratches on the cupboard
framework. We had hoped to sort out an
awning and solar panels but not only are they more expensive than we thought
but all the dealers are fully booked up with work for the next two weeks. Back at Moturis Yannick the mechanic does a
test drive and agrees that there is a problem with the brakes and he will
investigate further tomorrow. He does a
few other odd jobs for us before closing time.
Marco has stayed on late in the office chatting to his girlfriend in
Italy. I invite him into the van for a
drink and he is amazed at the transformation and says it feels very


WEDNESDAY 20 JUNE – We’ve given the tyre
problem a lot of thought and put it to Marco that we swap the tyres with ones
on other vehicles meaning he just has labour costs. The title deed for the vehicle arrives and our friend Ricky in
Florida faxes us the application form to transfer the title to us. He says that if we FedEx him the original
title, application form and passports photos then he will register it on our
behalf. A man arrives to repair the
crack in the glass and it’s better than before but still visible, Moturis pay
the $40 (£20) charge. The front tyres
are soon in place but when they take the back ones off they can see that the
brake pads are worn down to bare metal and the discs badly scuffed. New parts are ordered for tomorrow. Marco goes home sick, think he is sick of us
more than anything but we feel that having been told that everything in the
vehicle would be working then we should have things put right at their
expense. Yannick tackles the problem of
a leak under the floor of the shower and finds two leaks and fixes them but we
can’t test it until tomorrow. I offer
him a cool drink and he comments on how cold the fridge is. I realise just how cold when I come to cook
eggs for tea and find them frozen in their shells! It’s ironic to think that in Australia we complained we could not
get the fridge cold enough. Yannick has
stayed on working late to help us so we take him over to the Sports Pub for a


THURSDAY 21 JUNE – During the night we suffer
Japanese water torture with water dripping off the roof right by our
heads. Steve discovers that
condensation from the air conditioner is pooling on the roof before draining
off and a pinprick hole in the roof top rubber sheeting may explain the damp we
first spotted on the shower ceiling. I
take a morning shower and find we still we still have a leak underneath it and
another from the hot water heater. Talk
about 2 steps forwards and 1 step back.
Will we make to Alaska before winter sets in? Yannick attempts another repair on the shower but can’t do
anything about the water pooling on the roof and insists that the leak from the
hot water boiler is normal even though we have not had this in other vans. We tackle the fridge problem and find that
the trouble shooting section of the manual only covers problems relating to the
fridge not being cool enough. When
Steve phones up the manufacturer he is told that the thermostat must be broken
but it is under warranty. Now we must
find a dealer on route and contact them to order the part in advance. The microwave starts to play up and this is
the last straw. Having been assured by
Marco that he would check that everything in the van was working before we
arrived we are very disillusioned. He
called in to work for an hour this morning but has now gone home again so we
cannot even speak to him. Instead we
compose a long E-mail to head office in Switzerland. Early afternoon the parts for the brakes arrive but they are the
wrong ones and for a 2005 truck. It
seems that Yannick ordered the wrong ones.
Whilst the caravan part of the vehicle is a 2005 model the engine and
truck are 2004 and these parts are a different size. I get good and bad news from our friend Ricky, he has received
the paperwork and dealt with registering the vehicle in our name and even has
the new number plates on their way back to us but in order to do this he had to
pay the 6% Florida state tax based on the purchase price of the vehicle. The brake parts arrive and this time the
drums are correct but the pads are wrong.
Yannick starts to get the wheels from the other van and finds that the
inside rear one is stuck and cannot be removed. It’s late afternoon when the correct brake shoes arrive and work
can begin. By 8am we are ready for a
test drive and things are looking good so we call in to the liquor store for a
case of beer to help us celebrate.


FRIDAY 22 JUNE – Success, the shower is no
longer leaking and the registration plate arrives from Florida so we are ready
to roll. Speak to Marco about the fact
that we were dissatisfied with the situation in that the vehicle was not as
described and not ready for us when we arrived but he doesn’t want to know and
just whinges about us staying on their lot for 5 nights – as if we wanted to be
there! In Topsfield we get the wheel
alignment checked and find that both front tyres have a camber so we pay extra
to have special brushes fitted before alignment to prevent this problem in the
future, $250 (£125). Early afternoon
the “Nu Drovers” set out on tour. Using
I95 to get up into NEW HAMPSHIRE we then avoid the tolls and drop on to highway
1. Big mistake as it is neither fast
nor scenic and we should have gone further over onto the 1A to follow the
coast. Into MAINE where there are free
motorways again. We’ve arranged to
visit another Travelhoo host out at Boothbay Harbour. The drive along the peninsula is lovely as this area is full of
inlets and coves and the scenery spectacular.
Wooden homes line the shore and the architecture is varied and
interesting. We easily find Kriss’s
place on Lobster Cove Road and yes she does have a space behind her house for
us to park our 29’ motorhome but we can’t get to it, as the driveway is too
steep. There’s no one home so we begin
walking around the area to check out the alternatives. Steve finds a flat piece of land down the
road with nothing but lobster pots stored on it. Kriss’s neighbour Helen directs us to the owner of the land Dan
who says it is fine for us to park there for a couple of days. Helen also says she thinks Kriss is home but
sleeping as she works nights either taxi driving or in a home for handicapped children. We knock a bit louder on the door and Kriss
emerges apologising profusely. She
invites us in and we meet Pico and Rocco her miniature poodles. Conversation flows easily and it’s time to
eat before we know it. We invite Kriss
down to the van for a meal and she is well impressed with the whole set
up. She leaves for work and we settle
down for the night.


SATURDAY 22 JUNE – We are parked beside a row
of mailboxes and have to laugh when the postman arrives in a car then inches
past each box to deliver the mail rather than get out and walk. No wonder there are scratches all down the
door or the car! Take a walk around the
local area where everyone calls out a greeting and seems very friendly. Many houses go directly down to the
waterfront and one of the owners shows us her private beach, as they own the
land right down to the waters edge.
Once Kriss wakes up she takes us out for a drive around Ocean Point
where narrow winding roads weave around miles of interesting coastline where
islets abound complete with small houses.
Pass a very artistic house with a cabinet in the garden displaying
miniature quirky house sculptures. For
lunch we get take away fish and chips from “Bet’s Fish Fry” shack and they are
superb, $7 (£3.50) half fish and chips.
There’s plenty of haddock and the chips consist of conventional ones and
potato slices. Kriss drops us in town
by the homemade ice cream shop where the single scoop “Baileys & Kahlua”
flavour is huge. Stroll the streets
with lots of artisans’ shops, including one where Kriss’s neighbour Helen
Farnham has work displayed, before crossing the bay on the old wooden
footbridge to make our way back to Harry.


SUNDAY 23 JUNE – We have a bit of a lie in and
find Kriss up and about when we go up to the house. She drops us at the Botanical Gardens, $10 (£5), for an
hour. There are lots of trails to walk
down to the waterfront but the flora is poor as it is a new garden and not
established. Once Kriss picks us up we
pick up the makings of a picnic at the grocery store whilst she swaps her
private car for the taxi. She has a
fare and we sit in the back whilst she picks him up and takes him out to East
Boothbay. Once we’ve dropped him off we
enjoy our picnic at the edge of Mill Pond Lake. Spend the later afternoon and evening at Kriss’s house with her
popping out to do the taxi service.


MONDAY 25 JUNE – When we call it to say
farewell to Kriss we find her on the computer researching motorhomes as we have
given her the bug. As we are leaving
her neighbour Helen comes out and presents us with some cards depicting scenes
she has painted. We’re heading off to
a rendezvous with Robbie who saw our request in a forum for places to stay
between Boston and Alaska. We take a
shortcut on the 90 and pass an RV dealer and call in on spec to see about the
fridge. He thinks there is adjustment
where the thermostat is connected to the cooling fins and he slides the control
downwards in the hope that this is the problem – strange that neither Moturis
nor the Dometic fridge dealer mentioned this.
He looks over the van and reckons it would be worth somewhere between
$45,000 and $55,000 so it looks like we got a good deal. We meet up with Robbie and he gives us
directions to his property in the country near the small town of Appleton. He settles us in and introduces us to his
dog Frodo before heading back to work.
He returns to join us in the evening and chats about his jobs; he has just
come from the prison where he works in the mental health sector. He rarely surfs the Internet and found our
request by chance and seems very pleased to make our acquaintance.


TUESDAY 26 JUNE – We’ve been invited to stay on
and with the forecast for hot weather we are happy to chill (or hot) out for
the day. There’s no phone reception
here and we need to contact the RV dealer who is trying to get us a fridge
part, the problem not as bad but still evident. Steve walks to a nearby property to see if he can use the phone
with our phone card. He returns having
met a lovely lady called Laurie who is married to an Englishman. After using the phone, and establishing that
the fridge thermostat can be fitted tomorrow, she expressed an interest in our
lifestyle. Steve said where we were
staying and threw out and invite to visit.
Spend a most enjoyable afternoon sunbathing with Robbie popping home for
1/2 hour. We do a bit of a trip plan to
Vancouver via Alaska and without any detours it is over 8,000 miles and would
involve us driving every other day. We
need to be out of Alaska by September and down in Vancouver by mid September
when they stop running the inside passage cruises that we want to do. With cities such as Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa
and Winnipeg to explore en route we begin to think we don’t have enough
time. Maybe it would be better to scrap
Alaska by land enabling us to have a more leisurely journey. Hugo, Laurie and their daughter Audrey do
call round in the evening and with Robbie joining us the van is almost full and
definitely christened as we hit the beer.


WEDNESDAY 27 JUNE – We make a 6.30am start to
be at the RV dealers when they open at 8.30am.
Again we pass many lakes whilst traversing the attractive
countryside. Arrive sooner than
expected and park up at Rec Tech to have breakfast. Owner Jeff arrives and soon has Dave fitting the new
thermostat. Dave hears us chatting
about having our Inverters fitted and says that he can fit them as he also fits
solar panels as a sideline. By chance
this is something else we want to buy and he gives us a rough price but will
phone his wife and get her to confirm it.
There are a number of awnings in the yard and I ask Jeff about having
one fitted but they are much too busy.
With the fridge thermostat fitted we head to Wal Mart to shop for groceries,
as they are much cheaper in America than Canada. As usual this takes much longer than anticipated and this enables
us to conclude that the new thermostat is not working. When we get back to Rec Tech Dave admits
that he was unhappy in finding the new one a different colour to the original
and has contacted Dometic and found that they sent an air conditioner
thermostat by mistake. He also tells us
he has an 80w solar panel on order and he can fit it on Friday along with the
replacement thermostat. Jeff says that
he will sell us an awning and Dave can fit it for us on Friday, in his own time
after he has finished his work for the company. It’s now late afternoon and we drive to Brewer and pick up free
wi-fi outside the library to do Internet whilst Steve goes into the library and
buys 10 books for $1 (50p). I’m very
pleased about this, as we have been sharing our one and only book! It’s very hot, almost 100F but a storm is
brewing. We’ve just settled onto the
Wal Mart car park in Bangor when we get a torrential downpour followed by
hailstones. At least it is short lived,
unlike the rains we understand that have been causing the worst floods in
England for over 50 years.


THURSDAY 28 JULY – I leave Steve in bed and do
an early shop, it’s hard to believe there are still things we need! Parking is easy on the waterfront in Bangor
on the banks of the Penobscot River.
Bangor’s claim to fame is as the home of author Stephen King but they
discourage visits to his home as he still lives there. Pet Cemetery was filled in the graveyard
here, as were other parts of his films.
We walk into the main town centre and admire a few statues and take in
the general ambiance. It’s very quiet
and before you reach the edge of the footpath the cross the road the cars have
stopped for you. Sauntering up Main
Street we get a waft of curry and this tempts us into “Taste of India” for
their tasty $6.95 (£3.50) buffet lunch including a delicious rice pudding with
cinnamon and almonds. It’s owned by the
Kumar’s but this time at no 68! Get
back to the van before an afternoon downpour.
Throughout the summer they have craft and food market stalls along the
Kenduskeag Stream early evening and a free music concert in Pickering
Square. There are few stalls but we
enjoy the free food samples topped up with the free popcorn at the
concert. It’s blues music and not quite
our scene so we make our way back to the van to re locate to Hanifords car park
in Brewer. There’s a laundrette and I
get a load washed for $2 (£1) and dried for 25c (13p) each 6 minutes. Meanwhile Steve watches softball at the
adjoining stadium. A beautiful sunset
rounds off the day.


FRIDAY 29 JUNE – An early shop bags us the new
weekly specials at Hanifords with beefsteak reduced by $2.50 to $1.99 (£1)
lb. Late afternoon we are back at Rec
Tech and Steve potters round fitting some scrap carpet to the front of the van
whilst we wait. He shouts out when he
cuts himself quite badly with the Stanley knife. Once we have stopped the bleeding I assess the damage and reckon
it will be OK with the butterfly stitches that I apply. Jeff sells us an awning for $500 (£250) then
Dave sets about fitting it. Next he
does the solar panel with controller and connects our 2 inverters (one 240v and
one 110v). He works for around 3-hours
and the total bill is $850 (£425) with only $100 (£50) of that for his
labour. Overall a huge saving as we had
been quoted $1300 for just a solar panel by another company. Retire to the Wal Mart for the night.


SATURDAY 30 JUNE – When we set out at 5.30am we
are surprised to find 11 other motorhomes and 5 cars parked up. It’s already daylight and the sun is out
creating atmospheric swirling mists over the lakes. We arrive in Calais (pronounced callous) and cross International
Bridge in CANADA, New Brunswick province.
Customs formalities and brief and in minutes we are free to drive into
St Stephens. We pull up by the
waterfront for breakfast, to use the ATM ($2.10 – £1) and gather info from the
tourist office when it opens at 9am.
Our clocks have gone forward 1-hour so we are now 4 hours behind
BST. We follow the Fundy Coastal Drive
along highway 1 with lovely scenery.
Lots of sea views, forests and wild lupins. Arrive in Saint John and easily find the home of our host
Cory. He lives with his parents and his
Mum Diana also makes us welcome. We
quickly discuss plans and as we are to join them at their holiday cottage later
in the day we decide to make a start on the tourist attractions of Saint
John. Cory hops in the van and directs
us to the natural phenomena of the “Reversing Falls”. With the highest tides in the country the out going river changes
direction as the tide comes in and for a short period of time this creates rapids
until the flow of the river is reversed and it flow upstream until high tide is
reached at which point the process reverses.
Just coming up to high tide we can see the river flow beginning to
reverse but it is not quite as spectacular as the books describe. On a Saturday afternoon parking is easy in
Saint John and we explore the indoor market where the ceiling design is based
on the hull of a ship. Pedestrian
crossings are an unusual design with the road marked out with imitation stone
and circular patterns. There’s an
attractive waterfront with statues of the loyalists, Saint John being the
oldest town in Canada. Return to Cory’s
place for us all to have a nap before setting out to the cottage. There are numerous covered bridges in the
area due to the heavy winter snowfalls.
We just managed to fit under one to cross in Harry. The cottage is on the banks of Lake
Washademoak and we just manage to make it down the narrow lane with low tree
branches and park in a cleaning. The
cottage itself is at the end of the land and a really attractive design built
by Cory’s Dad George. Cory’s brother
Adam and his ex wife Monique have already arrived and Adam suggests that the
weather is perfect for a paddle on the lake.
Steve & I share a canoe, as do Adam and Monique with Cory in a
kayak. We paddle around and just about
get the hang of the steering when it’s time to return. George and Diana have arrived and we spend a
long time chatting then enjoying a BBQ.
Round off the evening with time out on the deck in the hot tub. We’re most surprised to find it’s 1am when
we return to bed.




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