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Exploring Canada and US East Coast

September 30, 2016
East Coast Canada and US Trip

Our first big trip with our trailer was out east.  We decided at the last minute to fit in a big trip right after we bought the trailer.  Because we bought it in the spring, we had to work fast to get reservations to campgrounds that same summer.  We really wanted to take it on a long trip to see how we would do.  After a one night shakedown trip at a campground a few hours away from home, we planned our trip for the east coast of Canada and the USA.  We had less than 2 weeks to work with.  Because of the short timeframe we decided to test our stamina to see if we could do long driving days, most days were around 7 hours of driving (stops not included).

Our itinerary was to start at our home west of Toronto and drive to Lake Placid NY, the next leg was Lake Placid to Bar Harbor ME, then to Cavendish PEI, than to Temiscouata PQ, than Mallorytown ON then home.  This was almost a 4000km trip and due to the time constraint we only had a few days at most of the stops, but this was a test for us, to see if we could handle a trip with long drives and short stops like a trip to get out to the west coast would be.

The drive

Leg 1 Home to Lake Placid:  This drive started off as fairly boring as the trip on the 401 across Ontario was fairly familiar to us and is a flat drive with little scenery we had not already see.  We crossed into the USA at Prescott ON to Ogdensburg NY.  This put US on secondary roads right in the heart of Mennonite country where we saw horse carriages and road side stands on the way to the Adirondack Park.  The drive thru the Adirondacks was quite scenic and started to get quite hilly.  This was our first time driving through mountains with a trailer in tow.

Leg 2 Lake Placid to Bar Harbor:  This leg was quite a scenic and one of my favorite drives to date.  it took us along 9N crossing Lake Champlain into Vermont near Port Henry and heading up to Burlington and Montpelier to get on US2.  The drive along 9N was quite scenic and hilly with lots of small towns along the way.  US2 was what made this drive worthwhile, as it took us thru Vermont along the edge of the White Mountains, thru New Hampshire and all the way to Bangor Maine.  It was very scenic with lots of mountain views and long grades.  The small towns along the way had lots of charm.

Leg 3 Bar Harbor To PEI:  This was also a scenic drive along US1 to Highway 1 in New Brunswick with lots of ocean views and changing weather.  The temp in St John was 17C at mid day that day and a few hours later when we came thru Moncton it was over 30C.  The drive across the Confederation Bridge is a sight to see as well.  Driving thru PEI was unexpected, as I had not been there in over 30 years and was only a kid the last time.  PEI was like a whole different world.  As soon as you drive away from the bridge, it is like you have driven back in time 100 years.  There are no more billboards, fast food or strip malls, it is all country side, farms and general stores.

Leg 4 PEI to Lake Temiscouata:  This drive was a worst case scenario for sure.  We started off the morning after Hurricane Arthur had blown thru New Brunswick and PEI.  We were lucky to be on the leeward side of the island camping, but after the bridge reopened and we started driving east, we saw the destruction of the storm.  Even though it had downgraded to a Tropical Storm by the time it hit PEI, there was no shortage of down trees.  The drive thru New Brunswick was also an eye opener along highway 11, but it was not until we got to highway 108 that we saw the real destruction of the storm.  The entire route from Miramichi to Plaster Rock is completely isolated, over 100km of forest with not a single building or cell service.  It was beautiful but the storm had laid waste to the road and nearly every tree on the north side of 108 had been blown down over the road along the entire 100km stretch.  We had to drive almost 100km on the far left shoulder to avoid the trees, pulling over to our side into whatever gap we could find between the trees whenever there was an oncoming car.  Driving up the Trans Canada was uneventful and we arrived at Lake Temiscouata around 8pm, however we did not realize that even though we could see the campground across the lake, we still had 45 minutes of driving around the lake to get to the campground which meant after a long drive dodging trees we also had to set up in the dark and rain as well.

Leg 5 Temiscouata to Mallorytown:  This was straightforward, basically Autoroute 20 to the 401 with a detour around Montreal rush hour via Autoroute 30. The scenery was nice along the St Lawrence River valley and thru the Laurentian mountains.

The stops

Lake Placid:  This is one of our all time favorite KOA campgrounds.  It feels more like a state/provincial park than a KOA.    It is also not to far from the town of Lake Placid which is like a summer tourist town.  It is also not far from Whiteface mountain, which is interesting driving to the top of the mountain.

Bar Harbor:  The Bar Harbor campground is an unusual place, right on the highway on the way into town.  They only accept cash and do not take reservations, but it was not hard to get a site on the first week of July.  If you are lucky enough, they have some amazing sites with a view of the harbor.  There is also an excellent Lobster Pound/Bar right at the gate to the campground.  The town is also a tourist town that is worth seeing.

PEI: PEI National Park is one of the nicest parks and hands down our favourite park period.  PEI itself is also one of our favorite places on earth.  It is peaceful and like another world, everyone is friendly, it is quiet and relaxing.

Lake Temiscouata: the campground is a well kept campground, but very difficult to find and to get to.  I was trying to find a campground as a one night stop over on the way home and it is very close to the TransCanada, but as the bird flies.  I was quite disappointed to learn that you had to circle a very large lake to get to a campground you could easily swim to from the edge of the Trans Canada highway.

Mallorytown:  the KOA in Mallorytown was just meant as a one night stop over on the way home, and we did not expect much, but it is now one of our favorite KOA campgrounds and we have been back twice since.  It is not remarkable and does not have anything nearby to draw you to the area, it is just a really nice, clean, well-kept and quiet campground with the nicest owners we have met so far.

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