BURLINGTON, VT

We spent the night in Bangor camped in the parking lot of a Restaurant called Season’s; Lindsey and I had met the owner of the place while we were visiting Allagash Brewery back in Portland. He invited us to park there for the night, and we didn’t turn him down. After watching the great fireworks show on the river we ran through the rain back to the bus, where we listened to the rain come down on the metal roof all night.

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The morning light woke us up early, and we drove on through the rain with our sights on Burlington. Crossing in New Hampshire again we were really enjoying the beautiful scenery and winding roads. It didn’t take long to cross the narrow part of New Hampshire and enter Vermont. Driving toward Burlington we saw signs for Cabot Creamery, we couldn’t pass that up! Cabot makes some of the best Cheddar, besides Tillamook of course. We had a nice time looking around their factory and sampling many different cheeses. We couldn’t leave without buying a little block of some delicious aged Alpine Cheddar. We also tried to visit a maple sugarhouse, but they were not open for business that day.

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Continuing on we drove through many small farm towns, each with their own interesting buildings and character.We finally reached our destination, Sam Mazza’s Farm Market, just outside Burlington. The staff pointed out an area around back by the cornfield and apple orchard for us to park and we set up camp for the night. Sam Mazza’s was an awesome market, full of fresh produce, jam, honey, and fresh baked bread. After getting setup for the night and having a quick dinner we jumped on the motorcycle and headed down the road into downtown. Since it was Saturday evening there was a lot going on, live music at several places, and lots of people out enjoying the night. We wandered up and down Church Street looking at all the nice restaurants, and listening to some music. Eventually we found our way to the Vermont Pub and Brewery, which we had heard was excellent. The place was packed full of loud college kids, we waited around for a while at couple different areas but didn’t have luck getting the attention of the staff, so we decided to head down the street to another brewery that sounded more promising. We found Zero Gravity Brewing inside a restaurant called Flatbread, and immediately had a seat at the bar. Their beer selection was great, and we enjoyed sampling a few different offerings. We even tried a Gruit there, which is an interesting medieval style ale brewed without hops. My favorite was the Conehead Wheat IPA, a delicious hazy golden IPA with a great balance of hops and citrus flavors. Not the typical mega-hop NW style IPA!

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Zak, the Scottish Highlander

Zak, the Scottish Highlander

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Heading back out to the bus we enjoyed a peaceful night, as only being parked on a farm can bring. The next morning Lindsey really wanted some fresh berries so we walked across the road to the U-Pick area and got a nice big quart of juicy strawberries. After we picked up a couple more items from the farm store we set off on the bike again. Back in Burlington we enjoyed exploring the city in the daytime, but were sad that quite a few places seemed to be closed on Sunday. Walking down to the ferry dock we were greeted with an amazing view out across Lake Champlain. It was such a beautiful sight, and a perfect sunny morning to be out. We sat on a bench in the park and basked in the sun while we watched sailboats cruise in and out of the harbor. After a while we walked back up the hill into town and found Citizen Cider, a craft cider house serving up some great flavor combinations we had never tried before. We enjoyed a sample flight there in the fun tasting room. By then it was well past lunchtime for us, and our stomachs rumbled. We headed back out to the farm and loaded up the motorcycle. Sitting in the grass next to the bus enjoying a sandwich in the sun was a great way to end our Vermont visit.

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On our way out of town we stopped by Magic Hat Brewing, one of the biggest names in Vermont. We learned about Magic Hat while living in Florida, and wanted to see it in person. We parked the bus in the back and walked into the “Artifactory” where we entered a bizarre carnival-like zone of merchandise. As we looked around at all the cheesy branded items we were disappointed. This was a far cry from the craft breweries we were used to, where there is a lot more emphasis on the beer and brewing process. It was nice of them to offer free samples to guests, but after having so many outstanding beers in the last few weeks we were a little jaded. At least we can say we have seen it in person!

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Lindsey and I were sad that we didn’t have a few more days to spend camping and exploring Vermont, since there is so much to see and do there. Every bend in the road reveals a new hiking trail or campsite by a gorgeous river. Our goodbye was bittersweet; sad to leave but excited to keep working our way toward Michigan, where our good friend Allison and her family awaited us. As we cruised across the bridge into New York state Lindsey and I vowed to each other to return to the NE sometime soon and spend some more time exploring this beautiful part of our country.

NEW BRUNSWICK, CANADA

After Campobello Island, we had to reenter the US and drive an hour north to the next border crossing to enter the New Brunswick mainland. Coming back into the US was easy enough, just a twenty minute wait or so while they checked out our bus, and when we were ready to go, everything was back in its place. Unfortunately, our cross back into Canada at the much larger station in Saint Stephen was another story.

The problem so ironically evolved from us trying to be totally prepared to enter Canada without issue, and what resulted was the opposite. What happened is, we knew that we couldn’t carry firearms over the border, so Steven bought a gun case to ship his guns home. When he took his guns to the Mount Dora, FL gun shop to have them shipped, the shop owner insisted he could get us a better shipping rate by packing the guns in some makeshift boxes instead of using the plastic case. So we ended up not needing the case, but thought we would just take it back home and use it later. If we had known what trouble this would cause us, we would have gotten rid of that thing much sooner.

When the Canadian border officials searched our bus, they found the empty gun case and went into panic mode. After waiting a very long time for them to let us go, we were beckoned outside to the bus. What we found was all our belongings that were stored in the outside compartments dumped all over the parking lot. This didn’t bode well. Immediately, Steven was questioned about his firearms and while we explained how the guns were back in Oregon, they did not believe us. We were ushered inside the bus and discovered that they had turned the place upside down, having torn into every compartment and every box and they left everything laying in heaps on the floor. Our home was trashed.

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Needless to say, tempers were high, and we did not appreciate the attitude we got from the border officials as we did our best to comply with the rules. I was very scared as they threatened to send Steven off to jail, and threatened us with dogs, and we had done nothing wrong. I know they were just doing their job, but we expected a little more courtesy, and not to be treated like criminals. Steven was asked repeatedly to just tell them where the guns were hidden, as if we are some kind of smugglers. When they finally confirmed that we had no weapons, they continued to berate us with accusations and threatening messages. After they confiscated my tiny pepper spray (I didn’t realize it was illegal), I asked how women were expected to protect themselves. I got a very sarcastic reply from the male border official, who stated,  “With their fists”. Wow. He proceeded to make fun of American gun laws and to complain about how hot it was inside the bus as he had to dig around every single box we have in there. Like I’m supposed to feel sympathy for the guy.

Now, believe me, we by no means wish to speak illy of the country of Canada. We just happened to have a terrible experience trying to vacation there. We are aware that our bus is unusual and draws extra attention where ever we go. We expected to be searched. We just didn’t expect to be treated so poorly. It is a sad truth that there are people who try to sneak weapons and other things into other countries. But we would never try to pull anything like that over anyone. We were intensely disappointed how the whole thing was handled. If any of you have had good experiences with Canada, please share your experience. We had heard such good things about entering Canada, and actually heard bad things about the US customs. Coincidentally, the US was nothing but quick and courteous each time we crossed over.

After re-packing the whole bus and cleaning up from that disaster, we continued east. The view was gorgeous! Dense forest on either side of the highway, with an occasional peak out onto a river or brook. The fog rolled in and created a very interesting effect on the landscape. We took note of the fence line along the road, which we heard is to keep wandering moose out of the way. After some time we finally came upon our stop for the night and into the company of some fellow boondockers. We stayed the night at Bill and Janet’s place near Petitcodiac, and they welcomed us with a cooler full of beer on their huge and wonderful farmhouse porch. We really have had the best luck with meeting such gracious hosts on this trip.

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We were ready to head up to Nova Scotia the next morning, but we decided to take pause and reevaluate our situation. First, there is a large storm approaching Canada (thanks to hurricane Arthur from Florida). Secondly, buying diesel (or much of anything) in Nova Scotia is extremely expensive. And thirdly, we are looking forward to visiting our friend in Michigan next weekend and have already planned a camping trip there. With such little time before we need to reach Michigan, and the other factors against us, we eventually decided that our energy would be better spent heading back into the US and making our way over to the Great Lakes. It would be fun to see Nova Scotia, and/or Prince Edward Island, but to really appreciate it and take it all in, you need several days there. To spend one rushed weekend driving back and forth would have been a waste. On a trip like ours, with a limited budget and a pressed timeline, you have to cut your losses and decide what is more worth your effort. We rather enjoy our time spent in a few places, than run all over the Earth without taking the time to appreciate every stop.

Therefore, we find ourselves back in the States for the fourth of July, taking in the fireworks and some good American brew in Bangor, Maine. Cheers!

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CAMPOBELLO ISLAND, NEW BRUNSWICK

Waving goodbye to Clem and the winery, Lindsey and I continued North on the narrow secondary highways through Maine.  Our next destination was Lubec, the easternmost town in the US. From there we would take the bridge over to Campobello Island, part of New Brunswick. This was going to be our fist border crossing in the bus, and we were nervous.

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Enjoying the beautiful Maine scenery along the back roads

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Our route sent us down into Bucksport, where we crossed the Penobscot Narrows Bridge. The Narrows Bridge was so fun to drive across in the bus! We have such a great view out the giant windshield, and through all the side windows.  Just over the other side of the bridge we found Carrier’s Mainely Lobster, a little roadside restaurant we had read about. We stopped to grab some lunch and a milkshake. Eating our burgers and fries from a little roadside take out stand felt so American, it was the perfect summertime lunch. The food was delicious, and cheap too! I didn’t get lobster there; I was waiting until we got out onto the island.

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As we drove farther and farther up the coast, the air got cooler and the towns got smaller.  We finally drove past the sign for Lubec, and soon after we were at the base of the bridge that lead to Canada. Driving up the bridge we were shocked to find the whole island shrouded in thick fog, from the top of the bridge you couldn’t even see the shoreline. It was such an eerie experience; it felt like we were driving over the bridge to another world. As we came down the far side the rocky coast came into view, and we stopped at the Canadian customs checkpoint. This is the part we were nervous about. What would they think of our weird old bus full of household items? We stopped at the booth and got out to talk to the officer in the window. He looked at our passports, asked a few questions about our visit, smirked at our bus, and let us on our way. No search, no interrogation. This was too easy! We rejoiced as we drove onto the island. Little did we know what we had in store for us the next time we tried to cross a Canadian border.

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Bridge to nowhere

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Campobello Island is a tiny little place, roughly nine miles long and three miles across at its widest point. Driving up the main road crossing the island we were so excited to be there, and were anxious to meet our host. As we rounded a bend we were greeted by lines of people on either side of the road, and a long line of traffic. We soon realized that the long line of traffic was actually a parade, and we were right at the tail end. People were cheering and waving at us, and we could hear them talking about the bus, everyone seemed to love it! Or they thought we were crazy. As we slowly idled along I opened the entrance door and started talking with an older guy who was waving at us. He hopped up on the front steps and poked his head in, marveling at our interesting interior. We quizzed him and found out that it was Canada Day! And we were just in time for the parade.  It was a very exciting entrance to the island, how lucky of us to come in at just the right time. Before too long the procession turned right and we turned left, heading over to Welschpool, where we found our home for the next couple of nights.

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Following the parade

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Parked at Bea’s house

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Bea and Molly

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Bea was a fellow boondocker and traveler, we met her through the boondockers welcome website. Her and her husband Peter have a beautiful old home on the island, where they spend the summers while escaping to the warmth of California during the winter. Unfortunately Peter was away on a business trip so we didn’t get to meet him, but we had a great time with Bea. She welcomed us into her home, where we enjoyed spending an evening chatting and sharing stories in the sitting room, while listening to the French radio station and enjoying a bottle of wine. The next morning she took us out on a tour of the island, it was very lucky for us as they used to run a little tour business there, so Bea knew a lot about the local wildlife, the island history, and the interesting landmarks. It was so much fun to drive around with her and listen to the stories about the place. Check out her own website here.

Our first stop in the morning was the Harbor Head Light Station, an old decommissioned lighthouse that has been lovingly restored and maintained by a group of retired folks who come up every summer and do maintenance and repair damage done by the winter storms. It is in a beautiful location, at the eastern tip of the island. You can only access it by foot for 3-4 hours a day, when the tide is at its lowest point. It is a fairly treacherous hike down through the rocks and along the sandbar to get there, but well worth the trip. While we were over walking around the buildings we met Lou, one of the volunteers who keeps the property functioning. Lou was hard at work up on a ladder scrapping mold and old paint, getting ready for a fresh coat. With a historic landmark like this being out in the ocean weather all year round it needs constant attention. Visiting the lighthouse was one of the highlights of the trip, it is so nice to see it brought back to its former glory.

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Next on the tour we visited the Roosevelt cottage, it was US President Franklin Roosevelt’s summer getaway home on the island. Campobello was a favorite spot of the Roosevelt’s, there is a lot of history there involving Franklin and Eleanor. We got to go for a free walk through the cottage; it was very simplistic even for the era. Talking with the park rangers we learned that the Roosevelt’s preferred to lead a simpler life while they were vacationing on the island, away from the busy cities. I completely understand! Being out on Campobello felt so wild and remote, even thought the coast of Maine was in sight on a clear afternoon.

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Bea brought us back to her place, where we unloaded our motorcycle and set off in search of lunch and to explore the rest of the island. Since July 1st is my birthday, I promised myself I would find a lobster roll as a birthday treat. I had never had lobster before, and what better time than now to try it. We stopped at a popular roadside stand that serves fresh caught lobster and I finally had my roll. It was quite good, but I don’t think I need to have any more in the near future. After our lunch stop we rode down to Herring Cove, a dark crescent shaped beach, which has been shaped by cross tides pushing the sand at and angle down the shore. The think afternoon fog was rolling in once again so we hurried down the beach and into Roosevelt International Park. The park is full of twisting gravel roads, which are a blast to ride on our little dual sport. We found the other end of Herring Cove, where the beach is made up of millions of small round rocks, polished away by years of wind and sea. Then we rode deeper into the woods until we came out at Liberty Point, the opposite end of the island from the Harbor Head Light House. Looking out into the Bay of Fundy was awe inspiring, even as the grey fog rolled in. Motoring back out to the main road the cold heavy air fogged up my helmet’s face shield and made me miss being back home in the North West.

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Herring Cove

Herring Cove

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The last stop for the evening was out at Friar’s Head, where there is a large rock formation shaped like a hooded monk. Unfortunately we were there during high tide, so we couldn’t see the Friar, but we had a nice time hiking down to the rocky coastline and looking out across the bay to Deer Island.

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Visiting Campobello Island was one of the highlights of the trip, I am so glad we took the time to go visit, and getting to know Bea and her cute dog Molly just made it all the better.

PORTLAND, ME

We made it to the other Portland! Long we have talked about how fun it would be to visit the far away Portland, and we finally had our chance. We were not disappointed.

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After having a great time in Portsmouth, we loaded up and headed north along the coast to Portland. It was a beautiful Maine summer day to be on the ocean, and the views out the window were spectacular. We would our way through many small towns and villages, all of them boasting the best lobster and seafood. These small towns were quite the challenge in our large bus, I did have one minor incident that left some glass on the sidewalk. We were coming through a narrow intersection, and while concentrating closely to avoid the car in the left turn lane I got too close to the sidewalk and clipped a telephone pole with one of the giant mirrors. It shattered with a loud pop, startling both of us. Fortunately there were no pedestrians in the area and no physical damage done to the phone pole. I just left broken mirror pieces and my crumbled ego on the ground. At least it was the less important mirror out of the group, and it being missing doesn’t hinder driving at all.

We soon reached the outskirts of Portland and found the large Cabela’s store to park at. They also offer unofficial overnight parking for campers, and since we hadn’t found a better option we decided to settle down for the night. After putting together a quick meal we jumped on the little motorcycle and headed into downtown. Just a short 10 minute ride and we were at the Portland waterfront. It was a perfect evening to be out walking, and all the restaurants and bars were packed. We had a lot of fun exploring along all of the old  wharfs, watching the beautiful boats come in and out of the harbor.

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While we walked along the old streets looking at all the interesting buildings I got a text from my older sister Heidie, she had seen our pictures on Facebook and was surprised to learn that we were all the way up in Portland. Heidie told me that she had a good friend who lived there and would be happy to have us over for the evening. She put me in touch with Tom, and he invited us to bring the bus over to his place just a few minutes from the Old Port area. We were so excited to have a great place to park in the city! Tom and his family live in a beautiful old home, with a nice big curbside to park along. We even got to plug in our power cord to the outlet in the garage. So much better than staying out at the Cabela’s! Tom and Amy were great hosts, opening their home to us and giving us advice on what to see in town. It was so nice to meet them, thanks again guys! After we got settled Lindsey and I decided to walk a couple blocks down the road and check out an interesting bar we had seen called the Great Lost Bear. GLB was a great little divey bar, with a huge selection of local draft beer. The decor was fun and the bartender was very friendly. We had a nice time enjoying some Allagash White and chatting with a few locals. Everyone can tell we aren’t from this area and are always fascinated to hear about our trip so far. It is fun to share stories with others who are interested.

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Tom an Amy’s beautiful 100 year old home

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Great Lost Bear

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The next morning we unloaded our bicycles and aired up the tires to head back down to the Old Port. Lindsey and I aren’t very experienced cyclists, but we enjoy getting out and riding when we can. We try to make ourselves use them frequently to get some much needed exercise, but when we have a motorcycle at our disposal the bicycles stay dormant far too long. We did have a great time riding along the Back Cove Trail and through the city. We found our way back to the waterfront and spent some more time walking through the streets looking in the window’s of all the stores. When we found The Holy Donut we couldn’t resist going in to get some breakfast sweets. They make their doughnuts using mashed potatoes in the dough, it makes for dense and moist doughnuts, which are very delicious.

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Once we had seen as much as we could in one morning we pedaled back to the bus, said goodbye to Tom, and drove up the road a couple miles to the Allagash Brewery. Allagash is a belgian style brewery. They are unusual because they use wild yeasts and old barrel aging techniques to add character to their delicious beers. My favorite is the Belgian White, a zesty wheat ale with a perfect amount of coriander and orange peel added. We took the tour of their great new facility, it is so nice to see a company start small and grow in popularity. The tour ended in the barrel room where our guide shared several samples with us. It was a great time, it took a lot of willpower for me to leave without buying a case of the Witbier. Easily one of the best I have had on this trip so far.

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Lindsey and I agreed that this city is quite similar to Portland, Oregon. The craft beer scene is huge, the restaurant and food selection is vast, and the neighborhoods full of old homes are so great to walk through. We couldn’t decide if our favorite thing about it is the number of breweries or the number of handmade ice cream shops! This could easily be home for us, although I am not sure how many winters we would want to endure. It would definitely be worth a trip back to spend more time enjoying the local food and surrounding area.

Saying goodbye to Allagash and Portland we continued up the road, heading to our next overnight stop at a winery in Unity, Maine. We were just turning onto the interstate when we noticed a young guy hitchhiking on the ramp, he looked like a nice guy and we decided it was time to return some of the kindness we have been experiencing so we stopped and he jumped aboard. Connor was impressed with the bus and thought it was fun to ride in. He was a really nice younger guy, he spends the summers working on various farms around Maine and was on his way back to the one he currently works at. Unfortunately it is too loud up front by the engine to talk much while we are underway, but Lindsey and Connor had a nice time chatting while sitting at the dinette. It was fun to have another passenger for a little while, and it was nice to help out another traveler.

We slowly worked our way up the state, twisting through countless narrow farm roads, attracting stares and waves in every little town we passed through. In the late afternoon we arrived at our stop for the night in Unity, at the Younity Winery, where we met our host Clem. Clem is an eccentric guy who loves making wine, and it was a pleasure to spend a couple hours talking with him about the process and walking through his grapes and small winery. He was happy to share tastes of all his unique wines with us, including some very interesting fruit wines. He describes his wine not as a product, but as an experience. It really is, and every bottle has a story behind it. Some of his batches include cranberries, rhubarb, and one especially intriguing one: pumpkin. We enjoyed listening to Clem’s colorful stories and also learning a little about the history of the area. Also interesting is that he is a fellow North Westerner who fell in love with Maine some years ago. Clem provided us with a beautiful parking space for the night, on a hill overlooking the surrounding farms and old houses.

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Maine is a beautiful state, and it has been a pleasure to drive through. We are on our way into Canada now, but will be coming back through Maine in a few days to spend more time.

PORTSMOUTH, NH

Our New Hampshire adventure continued as we headed out of the mountains and over towards the coastline. Since the first days of planning this trip we have been talking about visiting Portsmouth, and I am so glad we did. It is a beautiful city on the seacoast, full of historic buildings, great food, craft beer, and a lively nightlife. We parked outside of town, just over the Maine border in Kittery, in the big parking lot behind the Trading Post store (giant outdoor store). As we pulled around the back of the building to find a parking spot we cruised by a couple other RV’s parked along the far end of the lot. Being the curious and friendly travelers we are, after parking the bus we moseyed over to say hello. We met two of the nicest retired couples, they loved the bus and had lots of questions and suggestions for the rest of our New England travels. They were all from Vermont and upstate New York, so they had plenty of advice for the rest of our time here. We chatted with them for a while and of course we ended up with a bottle of fresh Vermont maple syrup from their family sugar house. Meeting wonderful people like them is a big part of what makes this trip so much fun.

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Starting off the day with some farm fresh eggs

Earlier in the day, before we reached our parking space for the night, we wanted to stop at the Smuttynose Brewery and check it out. Smuttynose is just outside Portsmouth, on an old farm they recently bought. The brewing facility is brand new, and is so beautiful. The entire building is an amazing mixture of classic New England farm style and modern sustainable technology. Lindsey and I rolled into the parking lot in the bus and had the attention of everyone in sight. It’s not everyday you see a big ass antique Blue Bird bus come gliding into the lot and park in the back. We had just set the brakes and were putting together a quick lunch before going into the brewery when we noticed one of the employees walking toward us across the tarmac. We were worried that he was going to ask us to move or leave,  but we were pleasantly surprised when he popped his head in the front door and told us how much he loved the bus. Of course we invited him in, and showed him around our little space. Ben introduced himself as the head tour host at Smuttynose, and shared stories with us about his own experience traveling the country in an RV with his wife. He was so accommodating, when he found out we were going to make lunch before heading inside he offered us some beer, and of course we didn’t turn him down. He disappeared into the building and returned a minute later with two big cups full of their latest specialty beer, a Farmhouse Ale, that they were just releasing that afternoon. It was the nicest way to be greeted! After we had a quick lunch we headed into the building and were waiting in the store for the next tour to start when Ben found us again. He had us follow him out into the brewery, and gave us our own personal tour of the facility. We spent at at least an hour getting the full rundown of their brewing and packaging process. We even got to climb up into the walkways looking into the giant vessels where the brewing takes place. We felt so important as we hiked around the tall catwalk, way above the rest of the crowd down below. At the end of our tour Ben set us up with their other hosts at the tasting counter, and had them take extra special care of us. Lindsey and I had a great time visiting with them and trying all of their outstanding brews. The staff was so friendly and excited to hear about our traveling adventures, it was an amazing experience. When we finally pulled ourselves away from the tasting counter we were in the store picking out a couple souvenirs to take with us when Ben found us once more, this time offering up a big bottle of the Farmhouse Ale on the house, saying it was a gift for our trip. I can’t express how great our experience was there, the staff was so nice and all the special treatment really made for an amazing time. Smuttynose isn’t very easy to find out west, but the beer is incredible and well worth the search.

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Getting the rundown on the brewing process at Smutty

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Peeking into the giant brewing vessels

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Enjoying the tasting counter and the awesome Smuttynose employees

 

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Showing off my awesome Smutty shirt

 

After our time at Smutty we headed out to find our parking space for the night. Since Kittery is just over the border from New Hampshire it was a great chance to take the motorcycle into Portsmouth for the evening to check it out. We never realized that it was such a lively city, as we rode down the main drag there were a ton of people out and about dressed for a night out on the town. Eventually we found ourselves at the Portsmouth Brewery, the sister company to Smuttynose. It was a busy restaurant, but we managed to find a space in the back where we could setup our computers and do some blogging and research for the next leg of our trip. When we were at Smutty earlier in the day they gave us some free beer voucher cards to use at Portsmouth Brewery, so we definitely used those to our advantage. We had a great time at the brewery and seeing the city at night was very interesting. Heading back over the border into Maine for the night was so pretty, with all the lights on in Portsmouth and the bridge all lit up. We made it back to our bus and had a great nights sleep.

The next morning we packed up the bus and drove back into Portsmouth, we had found a large church parking lot just outside the downtown area to park in for part of the day. We left the bus along the back edge of the lot and hiked into town. The first place we stopped once we got into town was Don Gorvett’s art studio where he makes amazing wood block relief prints. Lindsey and I were so in love with the artwork, if we had a bigger budget for the trip we definitely would have ended up with a couple large prints to take home. Since our budget is very small, we settled for a couple of postcards to remember the place by. We spent the rest of the morning enjoying the sights and sounds of the city, walking along the bay, and loving the historic buildings and architecture. Of course we stopped in at the Portsmouth Brewery again to use up some more of the free drink cards we had. Portsmouth was such an enjoyable little city, it would be a great place to visit again in the future. Maybe one day we will be lucky enough to come back through and experience it again.

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Don’s studio

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Portsmouth Brewing

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ALSTEAD, NH

New Hampshire has been in the back of my mind for quite a while now, it is such an intriguing state and we are both so excited to finally be here.  I had even thought seriously about moving here for a while, that’s how much I enjoy their attitude. Their state motto “Live Free Or Die” says it all; compared to the rest of New England, New Hampshire is a haven for live and let live type folks. So far in our visit we have learned about how vigorously the locals try to keep it that way.

After leaving our last spot just outside Hartford we traveled up into the NE corner of Connecticut and spent a night camped at Fort Hills Farm. Fort Hills was an awesome place to stay, it is a 1200 acre, 500 head organic dairy farm, with their own milk label (The Farmers Cow) and fresh made ice cream. Needless to say we definitely enjoyed consuming more ice cream than we should have. Kristin, the owner, was an excellent host, letting us park in the field for the night and chatting with us about the farm history and operation.

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We left Fort Hills Thursday morning, pointing the bus north and heading for Alstead. We really wanted to visit Boston, but after spending time in DC and New York we were done with the big cities for a while.  Since New England states are all fairly small we have really had to adjust our trip planning. What looks like a 4-5 hour drive on the map might only take 2 hours in the bus, which is sure nice compared to driving through Florida where you have to drive 6 hours to get anywhere. Rolling through all the small towns we really enjoyed seeing all the old historic buildings and beautiful scenery.  New Hampshire is a very pretty state.

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Winding through some narrow back roads up into the hills we managed to find our next destination, Jon and Christy’s beautiful property hiding back at the end of a long gravel drive. We also found them through the Boondockers Welcome website, which we have been using with great success so far. They are very friendly hosts and enjoyed seeing our bus, as well as showing us around their place and sharing stories about their own RV travels.  It was so fun to watch their chickens wandering the yard constantly pecking and making happy chicken noises. We actually ended up with a few cartons of fresh eggs since they have more than they can use, we were happy to bring them aboard. Lindsey and I really enjoyed sitting around the campfire with them into the wee hours of the morning, telling stories and enjoying a couple bottles of their home grown and home made hard apple cider. Part of their income comes from their metal sign business, using a CNC plasma cutter they design and cut out all sorts of decorative signs and machine parts. They surprised us with a custom made sign of our New Oregon Trail logo! Such an amazing gift, it is a better souvenir than we could have found anywhere else. If you are ever in the market for custom signs or shooting targets look them up!  You can find their work at www.metalmazing.com.

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Since we were camped here for a couple days, we rolled the motorcycle off the carrier and went for a little ride through the beautiful, winding back roads eventually leading us to Keene, NH. Keene is a great little town, we had a lot of fun walking around and enjoying the beautiful old buildings and great weather. We enjoyed taking a break at Brewbakers, the local bread bakery and coffee shop. Next we headed to the market down the road to load up on some groceries for the night. While we were relaxing at Brewbakers using their wifi, Lindsey noticed a location tag for a place close by called Belgian Mare Brewery. We were immediately interested, especially since we hadn’t seen it come up in any other searches of the area. After looking at their Facebook page we discovered that they were right along the little road we were taking to get back to Jon and Christy’s place, so of course we had to stop in on our way back to the bus.

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We found the awesome wood fired brewery hiding back from the road on Tim and Tracey’s farm, and immediately loved it. The brewing operation and store is housed in a small hand built barn, with trellised hops growing out front and chickens pecking around outside. We found Tim (the owner, operator, and head brewer) hanging out in the tasting room and spent the next two hours sharing stories with him and his wife, and learning about how the wood fired brewing process works. We really enjoyed tasting a few of his fine beers, as well as meeting Aggie, the big Belgian draft horse that the brewery is named after. Finding this small, off grid brewery and its awesome owner was a great end to our day exploring in New Hampshire. After we said our goodbyes we saddled up on the little Yamaha and headed back home, to enjoy a nice chilly night sleeping in our awesome bus.

NEW YORK CITY, NY

Our trip to New York City actually started in Connecticut. After the car show, we needed a new place to go for the night, and we managed to arrange some last minute plans with a wonderful couple we met through Boondockers Welcome. Boondockers Welcome is a website that connects RV travel enthusiasts to provide free overnight parking (usually no hookups, sometimes called dry camping or boondocking). So that is how we landed in Bolton and met Chris and Cheri.

Bolton is a little town outside of Hartford, CT. Our hosts live on a beautiful lake and they spoiled us by inviting us to use their kayaks and unwind on their lakefront deck. After a relaxing morning on the lake, we took the motorcycle into Hartford to get lunch and check out the city. We really enjoyed our time there, and even got to join in on a BBQ dinner with the neighbors.

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Meanwhile, we’d been plotting an escape to NYC, but hadn’t nailed down a plan. There just wasn’t a good place for us to park outside the city, and all the campgrounds were full or over $80 a night. Chris suggested we just leave our bus at their place and take the Greyhound bus into NYC. He even went so far as to give us a ride to the bus station in Hartford. So we booked a room for the night at the Sohotel and said a temporary goodbye to our little home.

We made it into the city just in time for breakfast, so after walking through Times Square, we made our way to a bagel shop (duh). Once our faces were stuffed with bagels and lox, our next stop was the Empire State Building. On the way, we walked through Grand Central Station, which was very impressive. We got to the Empire State at a good time, because it wasn’t terribly busy. I’m glad we went, because even though everyone has experienced the scenery through movies, the view was breathtaking. Standing up there makes all the other buildings look like they’re built out of legos.

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We meandered south through town to find our hotel and soon after, dinner. Our Connecticut host, Chris, had told us to keep our eyes open for celebrities in that part of town, and I hadn’t thought much of it. But that’s exactly what happened. As Steven and I were hiking down the street I walked right into Adam Levine, just as he came out of a doorway and was quickly ushered into his Escalade. Famous people! So exciting.

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After dinner we found what we were really looking for: 124 Old Rabbit Club. Recommended to us by some guy back at our favorite brewery in Florida, the Rabbit Club is a discreet basement bar in the West Village. Hidden underneath a sea of college town nonsense, the Old Rabbit Club is serving up fine Belgian beers and very loud punk music. What seems like a strange combination is a perfect storm, and we love the little hideaway that it is. This is our kind of bar.

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On Tuesday morning, we went in search of our next very important New York breakfast: doughnuts! As luck would have it, a very trendy and fancy doughnut shop was only a short walk from our hotel room. They. Were. So. Good. Enter Doughnut Plant, where the filled doughnuts are square and the small doughnuts are referred to as “dough seeds”. We had maybe more than is recommended…

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Tuesday was also the day we had to have a go at the Subway system, which seemed a lot easier than it really was. We fumbled our way through it and are thankful we don’t have to deal with that sort of thing on a daily basis back home. I’m sure we looked like total tourists and made of ourselves, but hey we are tourists and I suppose we are fools when it comes to commuting through NYC. Of course we had to catch the Statue of Liberty while we were in town, but we really didn’t want to pay money just to stand in line all day. So at the advice of a friend, we instead took the Staten Island ferry for free, which is a nice twenty-minute journey and gives you a great view of the statue as well as the rest of the Manhattan waterfront.

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Next stop was a bakery in Brooklyn. Seems like a lot of nerdy foodie things I’ve read about New York are in Brooklyn, so we had to go. I recalled an article in the NY Times about artisan bread and a bakery named Bien Cuit, which translates to “well done” and reflects the head baker’s European style of achieving a deep golden hue in his baked goods. We managed to get two loaves stuffed into our backpacks to enjoy later. We went next door to Konditori for coffee, purely because I wanted to see an adorable bear drawn in my foam. They did not disappoint.

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Lunch was really fun because we got a little more than we expected when we chose an Italian pizza spot around the corner. Not only was the food amazing, but the Italy-Uraguay World Cup game happened to be on at the same time. I think we were the only non-sports fans in the restaurant, which wasn’t too busy except for the group of Italians sitting on the edge of their seats, white knuckling it and yelling at the TV in Italian. Our server did a great job, considering the obvious distraction and as soon as he would check on us, he was back over by the screen, watching intensely. This was the same game where one Italian player got bit on the shoulder, and boy was it fun to be in an Italian crowd for that moment. We happily devoured our pizza and made our way out toward the Brooklyn Bridge.

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The bridge was a beautiful walk back to Manhattan. On our way back to the bus station, we happened to walk right past the Classic Car Club. We had just met two gentlemen from the rental service at GFest, where they showed up with the coveted E30 M3 and a sleek Porsche. We didn’t see our new friends there, but we stopped in for some photos.

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The only real hiccup we had in New York City was missing our bus. With the help of a taxi, we made it to the station with plenty of time, only to be directed by the staff to the wrong bus terminal. The thing with the Port Authority bus station is that it is made up of several buildings and a ridiculous amount of bus terminals. As we waited for the Peter Pan bus to Hartford at Gate 15, our actual bus was already embarking from gate 83. By the time we figured it out, we were only four minutes too late. Damn. Luckily, the nice lady at the desk took pity on us and changed our tickets over to the next bus for no extra charge. In the end, we still made it back to Bolton that night where we were reunited with our bus. It’s funny to think that after only spending 2 ½ weeks in our vehicle, it has come to feel like home.

GFEST 2014 – LIME ROCK PARK, CT

After our stay in Washington, we made our way up into Pennsylvania to visit an old friend of ours in Wilkes-Barre. We met Stephen a couple years ago while he was living in Portland for work, and have stayed in contact ever since. We had a lot of fun working on our old BMW’s together and enjoying the city, so when we decided to do an east coast trip I wanted to include him in the plans.

Wilkes-Barre is a pretty little town nestled in a valley, surrounded by green hills. We arrived in the late afternoon and Stephen showed us to a great parking place in an alley behind his house, which we managed to squeeze the bus into. The cooler  weather was a welcome relief from the swamps of DC, it dropped into the high 40’s at night so our bus cooled down nicely. We spent the evening catching up and sharing stories about the good old days. The next morning we said goodbye as Stephen headed into work, while Lindsey and I walked through town to find a cafe with wireless.  We really enjoyed the architecture and design of the old homes and buildings, it is a neat old town.

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Parked in Stephen’s alley

After enjoying ourselves in town for the morning and catching up on blog posts, we saddled up and headed toward Connecticut. Our next destination was Guten Fest, an annual east coast gathering of classic BMW’s and other european cars. This is an event I have been looking forward to for a long time, and the reason our schedule has been so busy, trying to get up here in time for the show. We were part of a small group of local enthusiasts who arrived the night before and camped out at the race track. It was an excellent time and our bus was a big hit, everyone got a tour and had nice things to say. It was so much fun for me especially, I finally got to meet in person a lot of other vintage BMW enthusiasts that I have known and talked with on forums and Facebook for quite a while. Everyone we met was so friendly and open, it really made for an enjoyable time. The next day the big group of cars showed up, it was a busy day of going back and forth between the show area and the autocross track, there is always so much to see at an event like this. Being around nice people all day really renewed my faith in humanity.

 

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Was really digging this VW Westfalia

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Camped out with a bunch of great cars

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Bagged E3 Bavaria

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Clean E30 coupe with a mental S62 V8 engine swap

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Guten E30 Touring

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Cooking breakfast for a group of new friends

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WASHINGTON, D.C.

When we left North Carolina, we had to get out of our dreamy, sleepy small town mode and into the big city mindset. Our bus, however, got to unwind in the woods while we went out to play. Taking advantage of our State Park system, we set up camp at a surprisingly green and low key park in Maryland, a mile hike away from the Metro rail station and 12 miles out of D.C. I recommend Greenbelt Park to anyone wanting to see the Capital on a budget.

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What I don’t strongly recommend is trying to tour the national monuments and museums during summer break. Lots of crowds and lots of waiting in lines that wrap around the block. We would have spent more time doing the touristy stuff if not for the multitudes that were doing the same thing. We enjoyed going up into the Washington Monument, which is way more impressive in person than in photos. The other stop we made time for was the Holocaust Memorial Museum. Sobering and astonishing, we were reminded of things taken for granted, and learned some new facts about the war as well. We got our exercise that day, walking around to see the World War II Memorial fountain, the Lincoln Memorial and a peek at the White House. I was surprised that the White House didn’t seem as grandiose as portrayed in film.

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View of the Lincoln Memorial from the WA Monument

View of the Lincoln Memorial from the Washington Monument

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I was also a little dismayed at the city in general. I expected our nation’s Capital to be a bit more polished. But even if the city’s not polished, a lot of the people definitely are. The attire, even at the bars, served as a constant reminder that we are no where near the Northwest. It’s all suit and tie instead of jeans and flannels. Here’s some shots from a cool motorcycle themed tap room near Chinatown, which quickly filled up with some business savvy folks after 5 o’clock.

IMG_7168IMG_7159IMG_7167With three nights spent at the campground, this was our longest stay anywhere yet. The down time was really nice and gave us a chance to accomplish some important things, like reorganizing our home and cooking full meals. Plus some general relaxation thrown in.

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After a long day dealing with the crowds and the heat, we were ready to do some dining. Tuesday evening we made our way over to Right Proper Brewing in the Shaw neighborhood. They had great food and drink, a wonderful bartender named Eric and the best mural I’ve ever encountered.

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IMG_7119We also took the advice of a friendly local at the Right Proper bar and headed to Pizzeria Paradiso in Dupont Circle on Wednesday for lunch. Dupont Circle was a nice area, it seemed far away from the sweaty crowds on the National Mall.  The circle itself was home to some picnics and locals catching a break in the shade, while the surrounding area housed many cafes, restaurants, and book stores. We had some of the best pizza of our lives at Paradiso, and loved the very expansive beer selection. I’ll just leave this here:

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D.C. was a very enjoyable stop on our trip, full of interesting places and people. It was a great experience to visit our nation’s Capital, and a chance to see the bad and good of the city.

CARRBORO, NC

Through a random BBQ lunch, we learned that our landlord’s fiance’s parents live in Carrboro (next to Chapel Hill) and love entertaining guests. Lucky for us, they were willing to put us up for a night and let us park the bus in the neighborhood. I’ll just say they have “guest quarters” (a small apartment that would rival many fine hotel rooms) that they built next to the house and that it was very gracious of them to offer their place to us. I could have spent a lot of time there, alas, we only had one night. We did greatly enjoy visiting the Weaver Street Market, which, for you North-Westerners, is a mirror image of New Seasons, except a co-op. We enjoyed a healthy dinner there and took the chance to restock our provisions for the next couple days. Basically, I was rejoicing to find a place like that, and it furthered the idea that North Carolina is the east coast version of Oregon. Because it really is.

Obviously, we had to check out the local brewery. It’s called Steel String, and they had some great choices. We especially liked their wheat beers. We shared a flight before we walked the block and a half back to our home for the night.

IMG_7022 IMG_7026 IMG_7029Our hosts were so generous, they sent us off with a sack lunch. THEY MADE US LUNCH. Can’t emphasize enough how wonderful they are. And Carrboro is a very charming little college town, if you are ever in the area. There are also some restaurants that sounded great, but we weren’t around long enough to enjoy them. We were there long enough to enjoy the free town wifi and some local brew. Just our style.