Acadia National Park

My first stop in DownEast Maine was at the Acadia National Park. I stayed at the Blackwoods Campground in the NP for two nights. This way I had enough time to do a few hikes. There are over 120 miles of hiking trails in the Acadia NP. The highest peak is Cadillac Mountain (466m), this is also the highest peak on the eastern shores north of Brazil. The views are spectacular, at least that’s written in the park guide. The weather was not very cooperative and delivered quite a bit of rain and a lot of fog which made for challenging hiking and photography conditions. Many trails go over inclined granite which is quite slippery, on top of that there are quite a few ladders and short climbing sections. Nevertheless, I made it back in one piece and it was a lot of fun. The fog made for a very calm and mystic atmosphere. The weather also made for less crowds, as soon as I left the main, flat hiking trails I was more or less alone.


Speaking of roads, one of the rather special features of this park is that it has about 50 miles of carriage roads, just for horses, horse carriage, hikers and bikers. No cars allowed. All the carriage roads were planned and built by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. who believed that national parks shouldn’t be opened to cars but enjoyed in a much slower pace.

New Brunswick

The coast of New Brunswick is very similar to Nova Scotia, it is after all just on the other side of the Bay of Fundy. Nevertheless it has quite a few unique attractions to offer. For example the tide formed Hopewell Rocks. For once my timing was perfect and I got down to the ocean floor at the end of the low tide, thus I could take pictures without the crowds 🙂

Another great experience was the lighthouse at Cape Enrage and the nearby beach where I camped for the night. Thanks to the crazy low tide I could hike around the cape and take the ladder to top back. A very special experience! The rocks are formed by the relentless tide but all look completely different.

Of course I couldn’t pass by the Fundy National Park which offers many opportunities for hiking. There is a lot of construction going on, many trails are rebuilt because they are not secure enough. Unfortunately, the new trails look more like highways than hiking trails. Unfortunately I decided to move on the same day because I thought the “Fundy Trail” at St. Martin is something cool and will offer some nice camp spots. However, that’s not the case. The Fundy Trail is a “toll road” with attractions along. I passed.

On my way to Maine and the United States I passed by the little island where the first French settlement was. The story is that the French thought it’s smart to have the first settlement on an island that is easy to defend. However, they did not expect the hard winters. The river froze but because of the strong tide broke open again, thus they were trapped on the island. 35 of the 79 settlers died during the first winter of scurvy. There’s a small park on either sides of the river, on in Canada and one in the USA.

My last stop in Canada (at least for now) was Campobello. This is the island where Roosevelt spent a lot of time, thus it’s another international park. By road it’s only accessible via the States, thus I enter the US already twice.

Fun story, the first time I entered they searched the Landy and I had to leave a few tomatoes behind. Well, I learned my lesson and didn’t buy anything on Campobello, so re-entry was easy and took only a minute or so 🙂

Nova Scotia II

Cape Breton Highlands National Park

To get to Cape Breton, I decided to follow the coastal road along the Eastern Shore. From the Bay of Fundy I quickly traversed the land with a stop near Halifax to stock up groceries and to do some laundry, boring everyday tasks have also to be done while traveling. Why did nobody warn me?!
The scenery along the Eastern Shore was very similar to the one on the South Shore, however there were quite a few old Irish settlements. I also did a quick detour to the Isle Madame, which I think is worth a visit, if not for the cute little towns just for listening to the “French” radio station which is rather strange to listen to. Anyway, I don’t think I have to be ashamed of my swiss accent anymore, that’s some crazy butchered French they speak 😀
The plan was not to drive too far today, however the Provincial Park I wanted to stay for the night was still closed thus I had to drive on, since I really needed a warm shower. The regular RV parks are worse than camping in Italy, thus I kept driving all the way to Sidney. I almost gave up on finding a nice campground and was already on the Highway 125 to the Cabot Trail when I saw a sign that promised a small campground.
The family running the campsite does bird watching boat tours to the “Bird Islands” since 45 years and have some camping spots on their premises.
Spontaneously I decided to do the boat tour because they promised me to see Puffins. When Rachel and I were in Iceland year ago it was too early for Puffins. The next morning at 10am the boat left for the Bird Islands. All in all it’s a three hours trip and we spent a bit more then 90 minutes along the islands, going around both of them.
The Captain was entertaining a knew a lot about all the different birds on the islands and the history of the surrounding area. On top of that the other bird watchers on the boat were all very friendly and we chatted quite a bit. If one of you reads this, you should leave a comment and I hope you are happy with the Puffin pictures I sent you! 😉

If you are into birds (especially Puffins ;)) and on the way to the Cabot Trail I can highly recommend to stop at Mountain View Camping. Their WiFi was the best so far, I was able to upload the timelapse that you can see in the first Nova Scotia post and I downloaded Season 5 of House of Cards on Netflix, yay!

After the birdwatching I only drove about an hour to a nice secluded spot close to Wreck Cove, a few meters from the ocean. During the afternoon it was so warm I could wear short pants the first time, however at about 5pm the wind changed and instead of the warm inland wind it’s now freezing cold wind from the ocean. But I won’t complain!

An other highlight from the Cabot trail is definitely the Skyline trail, very touristy but nice. There I also became an official Parks Canada Volunteer by planting four trees 😀

Along the Cabot trail are many hikes, I really enjoyed the one to the Broad Mountain. In case you want to that too, don’t do the loop, you won’t see anything interesting on the way back but you will be hunted down by a bunch of mosquitos and black flies.
The campground at Meat Cove is at an amazing location but way overprized, not worth the money imho.
Just outside the Cape Breton National park is Chéticamp with its amazing beach. I camped there for a night and got one of the best sunsets I’ve seen so far!

After almost 3000km on Nova Scotias roads it was time to enter New Brunswick!

Nova Scotia

Everybody knows of the stereotype that Canadians are the friendliest people on earth and after a week in Nova Scotia I can tell you it’s true, at least for the Nova Scotians!
Every day I meet strangers who are curious and want to learn what I am up to with this strange vehicle[1]. Sometimes they don’t even want to talk to me, one guy in the car in front of me paid my ferry ticket and all he said was “Welcome to Nova Scotia!”. Crazy!
I can’t imagine somebody paying the ticket for a stranger on the ferry from Meilen to Horgen just because. I have to admit, it also has never occurred to me to do so. On the other hand, I’ve never seen a car with a Canadian license plate on that ferry 🙂

Anyway, after a week “on the road” I am about half way through Nova Scotia. I followed the coastal roads to the south and then further on to the Bay of Fundy, then I drove back to Halifax. The plan is to follow the eastern shores until I reach Breton Island. From there I’ll follow the Cabot Trail and then I’ll head to New Brunswick.

The South Shore is beautiful and the tide is impressive and gets even more impressive at the Bay of Fundy. The low tide leaves back huge sand beaches, and people hunting for clams. A shame the water is so freaking cold (and I don’t like clams). When I don’t boondock (wildes Campieren) I like to stay at provincial parks which are like state owned campsites, with hot shower and flush toilets. A night costs $26.70 and they are usually at very nice spots, as a bonus usually there are connecting trails. So far I stayed twice on them and on the second one I did some trail running along the coast, which was harder than it sounds because quite a bit of the trail was on stone beaches. Also, figuring out where the trail is, is a challenge by itself! Unfortunately I forgot my Garmin charger back home, no more Strava fame 🙁

The weather is ok – it’s between 10-15C however, the wind can be quite strong and then it gets really cold. On the bright side there hasn’t been long lasting rain showers and no sunburn! 🙂 Everybody tells me that it’s unusually cold and they promise it will get warmer now!

Regarding the time budget I think I’ll have to hurry up a bit if I want to be in Seattle by August. I didn’t plan to stay in Nova Scotia two weeks but it seems like I will. So much for Nova Scotia is a small province! In addition to that, the whole journey started two weeks late because of the shipping issues. Currently I do about 200km a day and I don’t really want to do much more than that.

I am happy with the Landy, everything works as planned. There are some details I will have to address in the future but for now I am content with leaving it as is.

Sunset at Brier Island in a timelapse:

And now to the pictures:

[1] While I was writing this sitting in front of the Landy, already setup for the night, a couple walked by and we started talking. After getting a crash course on how to properly cook Lobster I was invited over for tea, apple pie and the Stanley Cup match. The next morning I got an amazing breakfast as well! Thank you so much for your hospitality, Tom and Rebecca!

Welcome to Canada (or how to get a car out of a container)

TL;DR: Scroll down.

After an uneventful flight to Halifax but a rather lengthy chat with the immigration officer I was finally in Canada! I am not sure why I always get the extra treatment at the border, is this a sign of things to come? Let’s hope not! Anyway, they let me in!
On the same flight were Stefan and Thomas from www.einmalrundum.ch. Luckily for me they rented a car and offered me a ride to my Airbnb in Halifax. There’s a bus (#320) from the Airport ($3.5) but it takes ages and a cab is around $70.
I spent the whole Sunday walking around Halifax, I logged 30’000 steps on my Garmin 😀 In the evening I went to dinner with the guys from Einmal Rundum at the Rock Bottom Brew Pub. Great burger, good self made beer!

On Monday I wanted to try to get my car from the port. The ship arrived with 12hours delay Sunday night at the port. Unfortunately all the only information I got from the shipping company on how to get my car out of the port was a phone number of a shipping agent in Ontario. On Monday afternoon I finally reached them and asked what I should do. They sent me to the CBSA[1] with the Bill of Landing, according to them, that’s all I need. Turns out, that wasn’t quite correct, I also needed a Notification of Delivery, which the agent should give to you. So back to step one, calling the agent. 30 Minutes later I had the required notification, all I needed was a place to print it. For some reason the libraries except the central library are closed on Monday. To top this, there’s an old and a new central library in Halifax. One is abandoned and one isn’t. You can guess which one I tried. By the time I found a place to print (Staples) the notification the business hours (8am – 4pm) of the CBSA office were over.

On Tuesday morning exactly at eight I was in the CBSA office. A few minutes later I was already outside. But not with the stamps I needed. The “Foreign Soil Examination” hasn’t been completed yet. However, they gave me a phone number [1] to call to check the state of the container. The officer told me there’s a good change that the check will be completed by lunchtime.
At 11:30 the checks hasn’t been completed yet. I tried again at 2pm and indeed, the examination was done! At that moment I was at the Halifax Waterfront, so I jumped into the next bus to try my luck at the CBSA office again. Third time’s the charm, right?
And indeed, I had all the papers I needed and I got the stamps I wanted by 3pm. The bus #9 leaves close to the customs office and stops close to the Port. However, it seems like it goes only every 30 minutes thus I was at the port only by 3:45pm.
The people at the port were extremely friendly and helpful but I was too late. The union workers leave at 4:30 and to unload my Landy they need movers and blockers and whatnots and that takes more time then was left. Lesson learned: Call the port [2] before going there.

Wednesday morning I took a cab to the port and finally could get the Landy. Usually people ship RoRo so this was kinda special for them because containers are shipped further on a semi or train and not opened at this port.

Total costs shipping from Switzerland (Embraport) to Halifax Ceres Terminal:
Shipping: ~3200CHF
Foreign Soil Examination: 159CAD
Administration Fee: 100CAD
Container Unloading: 325CAD (in cash at the port!)
Several bus tickets and Skype calls: ~10CAD

Still a good deal I think. If you look for a company that will ship your car in a container for Zurich and you don’t mind figuring out some of the destination handling (if its not Halifax) I can recommend to ship with Optimo Logistics.

TL;DR

1) Call your Agent to get the Notification of Deliver
2) Call the CSBA office to see if your container has been released
3) Go to the CBSA office with the Notification of Delivery and get the necessary stamps
4) Call the port and tell them that you have a vehicle in a container that you would like to release
5) Go to the port at the agreed time and get your car

[1]
3139 Oxford Street
Halifax NS  B3L 0B6
+1 (902) 426-2072
Bus #1, #80, #81
[2]
6708 Bayne St
Halifax NS B3K 0A8
+1 (902) 453-459
Bus #9 (careful, the last ~200m to the port have no sidewalk!)