Dart was in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Specifically, he was on Mount Washington (formerly known as Coal Hill).
We had a great time visiting family for a couple days.
We have been feeling like yo’s yo’s since we left New York. We’ve been traveling through the Appalachian Mountain Range as we drove through Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and now Virginia. Up and down, up and down, up and down. There aren’t too many flat spots to be seen. The scenery has been beautiful.
While in New York, our campsite was not far from the Susquehanna River. We went to see it. Having lived in Maryland most of my life, I am familiar with the Susquehanna emptying into the Chesapeake Bay. It contributes 50% of the freshwater into the Bay. It was interesting to see how it looks much further north.
On our way to and through Pennsylvania, we drove alongside and crossed the Susquehanna River several times. I never realized how much territory the river covers. It meanders all over Pennsylvania.
Not long before we arrived at our campsite, we heard something rolling around in the back of the RV. I was in the passenger seat and too lazy to get up and climb over the dog to figure out what it was. I told Regis it sounded like pretzels to me. We keep our pretzel nuggets in a sealed canister. No problem there. As we heard them again, I said I was sure they were pretzels. We were almost to the campground, so why get up?
Later, while making dinner, Regis opened the cabinet to get ingredients. He was deluged with coffee beans. Apparently, the reusable tape to reseal the coffee bean bag is inadequate to survive the rigors of the ups and downs of the Pennsylvania country side. We have coffee beans everywhere. We will be finding them for years to come. But, the cabinet does smell nice.
Also after setting up the site which is located at the top of a mountain, we relaxed to enjoy the view. Two things we noticed immediately which told us for sure we were back in the US. First, we heard the air conditioners running. It is hot here. Second, we heard gunshots. Lots of them. Since we figured there is no battle going on, Regis surmised that there is a trap and skeet range nearby.
Just this morning, I mentioned to Regis that I brought too many shorts. One of my Canadian friends told me it also gets hot in Canada, so I packed for the heat. I did wear shorts, but it was not always my primary attire. We rarely had the air conditioning on. More often, we had the heat on. Sometimes, the motor home would heat up in the sun. After the sun set, we would turn the air conditioner on to cool it off to better match the outdoor temperature. And, sometimes we would have the heat on by the wee hours of the morning because it was so cold. We have been very fortunate to have dodged the summer heat.
Not so anymore. I will be wearing those shorts all the way back to Florida. It is August 1 and we are just now beginning to experience the summer we grew up with. Hmmm. It’s not too late to turn around and head back north for another month!
I visited the Animal Adventure Park today and saw April the Giraffe, Oliver (dad), and their baby Tajiri.
The Park is nicely done. The animals look healthy, the environment is well maintained, and the animals have enrichment programs. There is also nice landscaping around many enclosures. I was impressed.
The highlight, of course, was seeing April and Taj. I was one of the millions who watched April give birth to the calf. Therefore, it was very special to see the giraffes live. There is an interesting set up that allows the park visitors to feed carrots to April and Taj. This allows for some intimate contact which was thrilling to the visitors young, old, and everyone in between. I was able to touch April and it was incredible to be so close to such a beautiful animal.
My favorite animals turned out to be three young bears. I got a short video of one of the bears licking peanut butter off a tire. Click here. The park keepers brought some apple tree branches into the enclosure and two of the bears had a blast playing with them. Who knew how much fun branches could be? The bears were just too cute.
The park runs a live cam of the giraffes on Sunday through Friday 4-8pm. See it here.
I brought home a giraffe and Dart has been wary, but curious about it. It’s a lot bigger than he is! Regis almost broke a rib he laughed so hard when he saw me bring the giraffe out of the car.
We are back! The first thing I did was turn on the data to my cell phone. The world is now at my finger tips! Then, we drove to a truck stop, pulled into the truck gas pump, and filled up both tanks. Aaah.
The weather is wonderful. It’s somewhat tempting to hang out in New York until the temperature drops in Florida, but I miss home and my friends and I’m looking forward to getting back.
We have some random thoughts we want to post. We missed these in our last posts.
When we were standing in the parking lot at Peggy’s Cove, Dart started growling and barking at a tiger that was painted on a nearby RV. He never did calm down around the tiger. I guess he’s not fond of tigers.
When we were in Riviere-du-Loup and returning from an evening stroll along the water, a 14,000 volt fuse blew on the power pole near us. It was very loud and scared the heck out of Dart. These types of fuses are made with an explosive powder inside and when overheated explode to break the connection. The volume of this explosion is louder than a shotgun but slightly quieter than the percussion explosions of a fireworks display. I’m surprised Dart let me walk him by the water again the next morning.
While in Riviere-du-Loup, we attempted to do a hike through a marsh. What were we thinking? We were looking for birds, instead we found more insects in one section of trail than all the flying insects we have ever seen in our entire life. They looked like mosquitos but they did not land on us. If they did, our bones and skin would be lying on the trail. I returned to the car, but Regis was so fascinated by seeing so many insects at the same time, he risked his life by staying longer to observe the phenomenon.
Regis noticed that we have not stayed in a single campground where someone’s car alarm didn’t go off. Now, every time we arrive in a campground, he waits for it. As soon as it happens, he yells. This is another thing Dart does not appreciate.
Our last campground in Canada required us to wear wrist bands. I do not like wrist bands. I hated it. I was happy to cut it off the morning we left. This campground had some highlights and some downers. Let’s start with the bad stuff. We have been camping all of our lives and never had someone’s campfire seriously interfere with our experience. Our neighbors built a campfire one night that was very smoky. The smoke filled our RV. If Regis had not removed the batteries to the smoke alarm, it would have gone off. We had to close all the windows. (The batteries we removed because the smoke alarm keeps going off when we cook.) The next night, the other neighbors built a campfire and smoldered it for a long time with something other than wood. Regis thinks it was cardboard. Whatever it was, it smelled awful and made me nauseous. I could even taste it, which is weird. Two nights in a row we had bad campfire experiences with our neighbors but haven’t had that happen to us in too many years to count.
The good part of our stay was that one night someone walked to the edge of the campground and started playing bagpipes. It was awesome. It’s the first time I saw someone play bagpipes that wasn’t wearing a kilt. The next night, a camping neighbor started playing the guitar and singing. I loved it.
We loved our trip through Canada. It is a great country with wonderful people. But, we are happy to return to the U.S. In a future trip, we plan to go to Banff and Jasper National Parks.
Regis went grocery stopping after we set up our campsite in the U.S. He said he knew he was back in the U.S. because there was 50 feet of mustard choices in the grocery store. (Yes, he exaggerated, but you get the point.)
We are staying where we are staying because I plan to visit April the Giraffe and her baby and friends. If you don’t know who she is, where have you been? Google it!
Our original plans were to go from Riviere-du-Loup to the Thousand Islands, but that is a long drive in one day. We decided to break up the trip by stopping at Quebec City. It is about 130 miles between Riviere-du-Loup and Quebec city and there were three rest stops along the way. We did not see any rest stops in the other Provinces we visited, but have seen four so far in Quebec. We were so excited, we stopped at two of them.
With a motor home and tow vehicle, we appreciate rest stops. Without them, we have difficulty finding places to stop along the way. The motor home and tow vehicle combination are too large to stop just anywhere. In fact, getting fuel has been very difficult in Canada. We usually go to the truck pumps in the U.S. because we have two fuel tanks and there is plenty of room at the pump. We cannot use the truck pumps in Canada because you need some kind of a card key. That means we have to figure out how to get to the pump that has diesel. At some stations, it is not possible. A few times, we have had to disconnect the two vehicle to do it. Often, we have to wait for awhile to get access to the only pump we can reach. Between the gas station difficulties and few rest stops in the other Provinces, traveling in Canada with a motor home can be difficult.
We are glad we stopped at Quebec City. There is an aquarium here and I went to it the first afternoon we arrived. Wow! I saw so many amazing animals and many of the fish were very big. I have seen some of these variety of fish in other aquariums but not as big as they were at the Quebec aquarium. It was very crowded though. Nevertheless, I enjoyed one of the exhibits so much, I went through the building twice.
Quebec city is on the other side of the river from us, so the next day we parked the car at the ferry terminal, boarded the ferry on foot, and traveled to Quebec city by boat. Dart was allowed. The city is beautiful. I have not seen anything quite like it. We roamed the streets for a bit and then decided to get lunch. I looked up pet friendly restaurants and only found one but I couldn’t locate it on the map. We gave up and decided to pick something and ask if we could sit at an outside table with the dog. We eventually made a choice and they were very accommodating. The name of the restaurant sounded familiar so I looked it up and it was the pet friendly restaurant listed on my search. Quebec is not a small city, so I think it is amazing that we randomly arrived at the pet friendly restaurant. We do not know if other restaurants would have also been accommodating. Just because they weren’t listed, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t allow dogs.
After we ate, we wandered the streets some more. I enjoyed all the original art work. There were numerous wonderful art galleries. I could spend the day going through them and it would be especially fun if my sister was with me. We came upon a street musician playing the saxophone and sat and listened for awhile. We later came upon a street musician playing the violin and enjoyed listening to him for awhile.
Since Dart wasn’t having as much fun as us, we returned. If it was just Regis and I, not only would we have stayed the whole day but we might have extended our stay in Quebec City because there is so much to see and do and so many places to eat!
We drove north along the shore of the St. Lawrence River to visit the Kiskotuk Park. We passed many farms. There was a crop growing with yellow flowers and it was stunning to see. We stopped at several observation platforms that looked out over the marsh and the water. We saw lots and lots of birds. Even with binoculars, they were too far away to identify.
On our route, we saw a house that had lots of little houses, a little church, and a little lighthouse sitting in the front yard. I stopped to photograph them and an old man came out of the house to talk to me. He did not speak any English and I realized during our conversation just how poor my French is. The old man wanted to talk. He kept talking and I didn’t understand anything he was saying. He asked me into his house and showed me a painting on the wall. He had a lot to say to me about the painting and I understood none of it. It was very sad. He had so much to say and I would love to have understood it. There were probably at least 20 more little houses in his backyard. (Regis edit: These houses were hand make, probably by the old man. Pretty darn sure I saw that church in town!) Darn I wish my French was better.
The car, RV, and bikes got covered with grime. They acquired a continent’s worth of dirt in our travels. I have been on the lookout for a car wash to clean the car but have not seen any. Campgrounds do not allow you to wash your vehicle on site. Today, I decided to do something about it. I got out a bottle of Invisible Glass and a huge roll of paper towels. I cleaned both bikes and the car. It would have been a lot easier with a hose and a bucket of water, but it did a pretty good job and I feel so much better. Even though it is not surprising to see Jeeps dirty, it bothered me.
In the evening, we went down to the water to watch the sunset. A lot of people do that. They all started to gather to enjoy the show. As soon as the sun dipped below the horizon, most people left. But, the best colors for a sunset show up after the sun sets. You should hang around for about a half hour after sunset to enjoy them.
Post script: As were leaving our campsite this morning, we saw a car wash. It was less than ½ mile from our site. I could have coasted from our campsite into the car wash without starting the engine. Regis says I might have lost some momentum going into the bay, but could succeed if I set out to do it with reckless abandon. We drove by this place multiple times and the sign says Lave-Auto and it looks like multiple service bays. I forgot that Lave means wash. There are some service bays but a few of them are for washing your car. Encroyable!