A Travellerspoint blog

May 2022

Prologue completed: crossing the border into Canada

Parking the car and the trailer for two weeks - when our real family journey finally begins

sunny

When I was a kid in the communist Hungary crossing the border to Slovakia - where most of our relatives lived - was a nightmare. We were not travelling often, maybe once every two years or so but I recall the nervousness every time we did. When the officer had a bad day (and they had that 8 out of 10) then they ripped apart the bags and searched everything in a very nasty and commanding way. We felt really vulnerable and possibly there did I got fed up with power plays. Although in the past years I got used to a more carefree travel within the EU this border crossing from the USA to Canada was a bit different.

I had my return flight booked from Montreal to Budapest for tomorrow. I have booked a suitable storage for the camper and the car for the next two weeks and we have our flights booked from Budapest to Montreal to the whole family, the dog included! So not making now would have launched an avalanche of problems. Therefore a little memory of the childhood nervousness kicked in as I approached the Canadian border.

There was a quite strict lady behind the glass wall and she kept asking questions. Why do I go? What is this temporary delaware plate on the car and the trailer? Why why and why? I kept answering and told her my plans, the coming weeks with the family and how excited I was to start this journey. She did not smile but listened. Then after a few more questions she finally said to pull over to the next available spot and their colleagues will be with me. This was already a good step forward and I parked the car and the trailer at the indicated spot.

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In a few minutes a friendly young officer came to me and asked to open up the trailer. He was asking the same "why" questions and I told him our plans and the schedule of the coming days. He was more interested and asked more details about my plans. He was friendly and to the point and when he realised that my intentions are good and we want to explore Canada and the USA and then Mexico he smiled and wished all the best. I was let in to Canada as planned! When I left the border crossing I shouted loudly in the car to express how happy I was and to get rid of the tension from my childhood. This was a very exciting but also tiring few days. I drove 750 miles, consumed one gallon of coca cola, one family sized M&Ms, some more sweets and an AC under the bridge. Good that I had some spare time and spare money to fix all the difficulties and finally I parked my rig at the camping in Montreal. I have one night here and then have to go to the airport for my return flight. In less than two weeks we will be back with the kids and the real adventure starts!

Posted by divatmotoros 02:49 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

A perfect driving day

sunny 23 °C
View Getting the car and travel trailer on divatmotoros's travel map.

It was a perfect driving day yesterday, the kind of days I was dreaming about when planning this travel. Almost empty roads due to the Sunday before the Memorial Day on Monday. Sunshine and some scattered white spots on the blue sky. No train bridges to cross. So I just listened to the radio and pressed on North on I-87 towards Montreal.

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I stretched my legs at the Adirondacks Welcome Center https://g.page/AdirondacksWelcomeCenter and then stopped by and had a great tasting stake sandwich at Frontier Town Gateway.

I reached my last US stop at Twin Ells RV park and camping. The check-in was easy and the spot was just next to the entrance, an easy pull-through location. The camping is fully booked due to the Memorial Weekend so I took the last empty spot for my one night sleepover. Next morning I leave for Canada.

Posted by divatmotoros 08:27 Archived in USA Tagged newyorkstate Comments (0)

Why should you learn about metrics early on?

Life gave an expensive lesson about changing cms to inches and meters to feet.

rain 20 °C

After picking up our trailer one of my first question to the dealer was how high the thing was? He reassured that it will fit the road all across the US and kept saying number 8 for some reason as I insisted to know the exact height. I even planned to put the number on a postit and place it on the dash as a reminder. Then with other 200 new piece of information this step somehow did not happen. As a last note the dealer said to better watch out at small, old train bridges but other than that it should be fine.

As I am using Interstates and highways on my drive to Montreal I was not worried. My trailer is really small compared to the large trucks passing me on the highway and the fit under bridges perfectly. Then after about two days heading North the unexpected happen - just as I expected. Around fourish in the afternoon (with less than 3 hours sleeping) I felt enough of driving in the rain. The next 10 miles was red on Google Maps due to an accident and traffic was coming to a halt. So I left the highway to look for a good night sleep before I continue. As this is the Memorial Day weekend all campsites are fully booked. So I decided to call a nearby ACME and ask if I might park there for the night. The manager was kind and said "no problem" so I put the address into Google Maps and boom, it is just 5 minutes from me!

Did the turns as directed when suddenly a train bridge was in front of me, with the sign saying 9"12' And this is where I learned the importance of metrics as honestly I had no clue how much that is in meters and if the trailer will fit in or not. At first sight it seemed no problem and the number 8 came to my mind from the dealer so I did not even slow down too much. Then after the car went trough I heard a big boom and in my mirror big white plastic parts were falling mixing in nicely to the rain. "Oh shit, the tv antenna" was my first thought as I pulled over and jumped out of the car into the rain. I realised that the situation is much worse than loosing an antenna. The trailer fit in but the AC on its roof was not. It was shaved by the bridge and pipes and pieces were all around the place.

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To make things even worse rain was falling inside the trailer as the AC normally blows cold air through an opening of the roof which is about 50cm x 50 cm and I still have no clue how much that is in inches or feet. I will have a look, promise! So I was running around like Benny Hill, picked up all the debrish and with wored out nerves I parked in front of the ACME. Learning from my earlier motorbike tours I had duct tape with me so using some plastic garbage bags and tape I built a neat drain system into the kitchen sink. So this is how I learn about metrics and exchanging cm to inches and meters to feets.

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If I think about my earlier motorcycle adventures (where my first ever new bike was dropped in the first roundabout but then I had years of fun without major accidents) then a very promising start to our camping life. Looking forward to it!

Posted by divatmotoros 00:19 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Norfolk, VI to Lums Pond State Park, DE

Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, Atlantic City, Milford and the trailer

rain 16 °C
View Getting the car and travel trailer on divatmotoros's travel map.

The time difference helped, I was wide awake at 4:30am. So I turned on "Hit the road, Jack" and pushed the pedal to the metal (respecting the speed limits). The car is great fun to drive, compared to our German family wagon it much more behaves like a truck and I love it. I headed North to cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel in the light rain. Despire the rain it was awesome to see the water, driving on a long bridge then ducking steeply below the surface into the tunnel. Afterwards I stopped for a break at Ocean City and stared into the Atlantic Ocean. Miss my family, they are somewhere there in the far far distance. We actually talked online so I showed them the beach and the car.

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Then it was time to reach Milford where the trailer was waiting. It was great to see it and they walked me through all the accessories. Loads of information, some things work similarly to European campers, still many things were new to me. Probably remember 60% what was said but we will figure it out on the go.

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Towing the first miles was quite an experience. I like towing but this thing is huge. After the long handover I got quite hungry so pulled over at a good old McDonald's. Ups, it won't fit into McDrive. Quick steering to the right and parked on two adjacent parking slots. After filling up my tank and lots of coffee my final leg of today's drive was completed. I found a nice little campground next to a pond and took one of the last spots for the night. Most campgrounds I contacted are fully booked, especially on weekends. So I was glad I found this place and went for a run to close the evening. Another great day on the road.

Posted by divatmotoros 12:58 Archived in USA Comments (0)

The Road to Montreal

First chapter, still in the USA

rain 15 °C
View Getting the car and travel trailer on divatmotoros's travel map.

The title sounds like efforts leading to a major achievement. Well, at least the effort was major and the achievement is important to our family. The last few days concluded about two months of tireless web research, phone calls and arrangements. The result: a car and a travel trailer parked in a camp near Montreal, awaiting our big trip to begin.

The plan was a bit complicated: from Washington DC to Norfolk by Greyhound buses at night to pick up the car on Wednesday, then driving from Norfolk to Milford, DE to pick up the trailer on Thursday or Friday, then tow it to Montreal and get back home for final arrangements. The return flight leaves on Wednesday morning so there is not much room for errors.

I left our home at Budapest at 04:45 on a Tuesday morning. Flew to Washington via Vienna in about 15 hours total. Then killed a few hours walking around Washington as a first time visitor. From the Union Station to the George Washington Monument, The White House and then back to Union Station. Was great to see these landmarks seen so many times on screens before.
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The wait for the Greyhound bus felt endless and the delay did not help either. But all things come to an end so finally the bus left Washington with me onboard. There was another hour if waiting at Richmond where I had to change the bus and traffic grew quite strong in the morning but finally around 10:00 am, after 36 hours of travelling I walked into the Ford dealership in Norfolk to pick up our car for the journey.

To my European eye it is a huge white block of metal and quite spacious inside. The main selection factor (on top of our maximum budget) was the earlier decision to have a trailer and a car, not an RV. We think it will be usefulnto make short excursions with our kids and the dog without the trailer. So it is heavier and more difficult to maneuvere but gives more flexibility and freedom. So I was looking for the car with the maximum towing capacity and the Ford Expedition was a clear winner. Later on I plan a more technical post to review it after a few weeks.

Now time for a good night rest and then I head North to Milford, Delaware to pick up the travel trailer.

Posted by divatmotoros 20:14 Archived in USA Tagged landscapes norfolk washington virginia Comments (0)

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