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.

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:

DC pizza

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.

 

ASHEVILLE, NC

We’d been looking forward to a stop in Asheville since we started planning this trip. Everyone we talked to had nothing but praises for the city, and we knew it would be a bit like home. The drive in from Tennessee was incredible, as we wound our way slowly up the Smoky Mountains and the air got cooler and cooler. We rolled into a small town just up the road, where we parked outside a friend’s hobby car shop. He was very generous in letting us stay there and hook up to electricity, and he even welded us a makeshift exhaust turndown to keep soot off our motorcycle. Steven had fun talking shop and checking out his current projects.

The next morning, we geared up and hopped on the bike for our excursion into Asheville. We knew we were running on fumes from the last trip, but thought we could make it to the gas station down the road. Of course, we ran out of fuel a couple of miles away. We coasted for a while, but pretty soon we were pushing it along the side of the road. Fortunately for us, a friendly local (as it seems there are many) offered a ride to the station. Steven jumped in his truck and was back in a few minutes with a can of fuel. As I waited, I took in the scenery and was also asked by another local if I needed anything. This experience only further prompted our love of the area. After topping our tank it was a smooth ride into town.

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Coincidentally, there was a festival going on that weekend, right on the hillside next to us. It’s called the Firefly Gathering, and it was a weekend-long camp out with a very full and varied schedule of workshops and classes, all having to do with living off the Earth/primitive skills/sustainable living. It was funny when we arrived to see the event organizers staring at our bus, sure that we were there for the event. And we definitely looked the part! We were approached several times that weekend, with concern for our event registration and our “illegal” parking spot. We assured them we were allowed to park there by the shop tenant and also “We’re not part of the group, what is it all about?”. But everyone was very friendly and invited us to join in on the fun, which we would have been interested in had we more time to spend in the area. The class on solar energy wouldn’t have hurt our dry camping ambitions.

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Asheville is similar to Portland, Oregon as everyone has told us. It’s just a lot smaller, sort of like the equivalent of the Alberta Arts District and Mississippi Ave. Lots of art, beer, food, and community spirit. The icing on the cake is it’s beautiful location in the mountains. We enjoyed wandering around town, found delicious lunch at a place called Farm Burger (shocking choice for us, I know), and took some time to sample the local craft beer scene. The variety of beer was great, everything from belgian styles to “West coast style” IPAs to sours and wild ales. There is something for everyone in Asheville. We were fortunate to be there on the day of Burial Beer’s one year anniversary, so we picked up a 750mL of their special release Aged Saison to savor at another time.

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A locavore’s haven

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Downstairs at Wicked Weed

Wicked Weed Brewing Co.

Wicked Weed Brewing Co.

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The basement at Thirsty Monk

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Double D's Coffee Bus

Double D’s Coffee Bus

Wild Ale flight at Burial

Wild Ale flight at Burial

We loved the beer, but I couldn’t leave Asheville without trying their chocolate, either. I discovered French Broad Chocolate Lounge via Joy the Baker, and was eager to try it. My hot chocolate, infused with rose water, cardamom and chopped pistaschios, certainly did not disappoint.

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We were a little sad to leave this place, and I think even more sad to leave the fresh mountain air. It was a good reminder of what’s near to our hearts.

NEW ORLEANS, LA

You may have noticed our route takes a detour west after Florida into Louisiana. This is because we had the pleasure of staying with Steven’s cousin Carrie and her husband Thomas in New Orleans. They are like projections of our future selves. Seriously. So it was no surprise we had an amazing, albeit short visit with them in the Big Easy. Just to set the tone, here is their adorable, classic New Orleans home.

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We magically found a safe parking spot around the corner from the house in Mid City. Mid City is like the next hot place in town; very up-and-coming and full of delicious and almost tourist-free restaurants and bars. Upon arriving we enjoyed dinner and happy hour at Crescent City Pie and Sausage Company, followed by a tour through uptown and a stop for another beer at The Avenue Pub (it was Thomas’ birthday, after all!). Avenue Pub is set in a house, including balcony seating and many, many taps to choose from. A good opportunity to sample the local brew.

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On Wednesday, we took the liberty of wandering around the French Quarter while the adults went to their day jobs. We quickly caught on to the fact that New Orleans never sleeps and is usually up to a delightfully no-good time. Our morning started out with beignets and cafe au lait at the famed Cafe Du Monde, because I am not afraid to admit that yes, I am a tourist. But we tried to get a little more “authentic” experience by exploring the streets outside the square where we had been recommended many great options for lunch. The architecture in that city is so enchanting that walking around is a bit mesmerizing. Especially so when enjoying the open container law. (May I just take this moment to say we really are responsible young people and tip very well). 😉

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The Mississippi! I think I'd prefer to swim in the Williamette...

The Mississippi! I think I’d prefer to swim in the Williamette…

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We were so busy having fun, we forgot to get a group photo! Too bad, because Thomas and Carrie are the best. See you at Mardi Gras!

 

I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING

We’ve started this blog to document our summer on the road in our 1984 Blue Bird bus conversion. Eight short weeks ago we brought her home in all her slightly neglected high school glory, and somehow we’ve ended up with a functional motor home put together with just our four hands. It’s a little bit unreal.

Before:after

Why a bus, you say?

For a long time we pondered leaving Florida at the one year mark, and felt overwhelmed with the possibilities of how to do it. At first, we even considered just picking up and moving to another new town for another year (maybe New Hampshire?), but realized maybe that isn’t the best way to travel. Each time you move you have to settle down somewhere, find a place to rent, find a job to pay the rent, etc, surely only to uproot ourselves again in the near future.

We realized we needed a more mobile lifestyle.

The Rusty Range Rover

The Rusty Range Rover

There are actually quite a few options when it comes to being young, creative, and not afraid to get a bit dirty. First of all there was the bus idea. We’d seen many beautiful conversion projects online, and were determined to do the same at some point in our lives. But for this trip? Did we have time and energy to work on it? Did we want to have that much vehicle to haul around everywhere? Then we wanted to take the Range Rover and camp. Soon after we discovered that the Range was rusting away under our feet, and therefore not safe. Okay, so we need to get a new truck. Get a canopy and haul our stuff, like when we moved to Florida, but put a pop-up tent on the roof. Briefly we entertained the idea of converting an enclosed trailer into a camper to haul behind our new truck. But all in all, buying a truck that would be reliable, big enough, and comfortable for a journey of this magnitude would simply be way out of the budget. Not enough cash left over for trip costs.

So it was back to the bus idea. By now we were running out of time, and this idea was too crazy to pull off. So crazy, that it just might work.

Shopping The Bus Lot In Tampa

Shopping The Bus Lot In Tampa

We didn’t set out to buy a 40′ rig, but we did. And we are in love with it. And you know what? I’m positive all that hard work is going to pay off. Besides, it makes a way better story.

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