We did it. We really did it. We made it to the other coast. We left Seattle, Washington, on Friday, June 1, and we reached Bar Harbor, Maine, on Saturday, August 25. Wylie was the first member of Team Vaya Con Perros to stick his toes in the Atlantic Ocean. We all followed suit shortly thereafter. Those of you who have been following our blog since the beginning know that our route hasn’t always been the most direct. In fact, Kevin recently did the math and it turns out that with the number of miles we’ve traveled since leaving Seattle we could have driven to New York and back. And then with the miles we had leftover we could have made a quick sidetrip to San Diego. So yes, our route may not have been the most direct but it’s been pretty darn interesting and these last couple of weeks have been no different.
When last we wrote we had just said goodbye to Team Jetta and we were hanging out in Toronto, Canada. From there we re-entered the United States at Niagara Falls, where Homeland Security had to briefly board our vessel to make sure we were smuggling neither drugs nor people. They couldn’t have cared less about the two geriatric dogs we were smuggling, making us wonder why we spent so much time getting their paperwork in order before leaving home. Oh well, at least the dogs weren’t detained for questioning. Who knows what they would have said about this crazy journey that we’re on.
We spent the day working from a Walmart Parking lot and then made our way over to the falls in the afternoon. Niagara Falls is really an amazing sight to see. When we were honeymooning in Zimbabwe last November we saw Victoria Falls so it was very timely to be visiting another one of the world’s great waterfalls so close to our first anniversary. The only thing that put a damper on the experience is something we may have mentioned earlier in the trip. Anytime there is a beautiful sight to see, be it natural or man-made, we’re a bit sad to see the casinos and waterparks and petting zoos and go-cart races and everything else that springs up around it to make the most of the tourist dollar. Seeing these waterfalls with the backdrop of casinos and the rest of the neon lights made the experience a little less spectacular. Maybe that’s why we like backpacking so much. We really earn those views and we know that everyone else we see earned them too. It’s not easy to build an amusement park at the top of a mountain.
For the first time in a long time when we looked ahead at our next couple of weeks we had no one to visit, no one waiting for us. We headed east from Niagara Falls without heading toward anyone or anything specific, other than knowing we were heading towards the other coast. We spent a few nights at a campground near Vernon, NY, where, oddly enough, Suzanne saw the Dixie Chicks perform for the very first time. This was well before they were “big time”. They were playing in the stands at the Vernon Downs Racetrack as kind of a halftime show between races when Suzanne was working in the racehorse industry. She didn’t make the connection until we were exiting the New York State Thruway (which, by the way, is not cheap when you are traveling in an RV and towing a car) and then all of a sudden she heard “Wide Open Spaces” playing in her head and realized she had been there before. The RV park in Vernon, NY, is also where we realized that we were at the point in our journey where we had some street cred. We were eating dinner outside one night and a couple walking by obviously didn’t see us sitting there but they saw our license plate and said, “Washington State?! Oh wow!” Yeah, that’s right. The west coast is representing.
From there we continued east on the very expensive New York State Thruway and then headed north through Saratoga Springs. We ended up at Moreau Lake State Park for a night where we were by far the largest vehicle in the campground. Everyone else was obviously just out on a weekend camping trip in their tent or travel trailer. Fortunately there was one spot big enough for us to nestle in amongst the trees and so we did.
From there we headed east on Highway 4 to Lebanon, Vermont and then north on I-91 to St. Johnsbury, Vermont. We knew we wanted to stay somewhere near the White Mountains but there were a variety of RV parks with decent reviews and we hadn’t decided on a specific one. That is, until Suzanne started looking through the various websites and came across a picture of a very sweet gray-faced dog on one of the sites and declared: “This is where we are staying.” This ended up being the Moose River Campground in St. Johnsbury. (And if you click here you can see that sweet gray-faced dog. She’s about 1/3 of the way down the page). The sweet gray-faced dog did not lead us astray. Moose River ended up being a fantastic campground run by a really nice couple, Mary and Gary. They gave us a spot where we backed right up to the Moose River and could leave our windows open at night to hear the sound of the water. Our neighbors at Moose River had their Siamese cat traveling with them and we were obviously curious since we left our precious Gonzo back in Washington with our dear friends Rebecca and Alan. After talking to our neighbors about their cat and his experiences on the road it still sounds like we made the right choice. Instead of being cooped up in an RV like the Siamese, Gonzo is living the good life as a country cat in Washington and occasionally gets to lick the bottom of an ice cream bowl or two. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Gonzo’s blog. Even though he doesn’t have opposable thumbs he is quite the talented blogger.
While we were staying at Moose River we went for a hike in the White Mountains and we also happened upon the Dog Chapel at Dog Mountain (Oh, don’t worry, there will be an entire blog post dedicated to Dog Mountain in the near future. It’s our new favorite place.) We also spent a morning at the St. Johnsbury farmer’s market where we came across a Bernese Mountain dog pulling a wagon. We know our friend Teri will be thrilled to see this and this is one of those instances where maybe Kevin can be convinced to add a third (aka younger) dog to the family. “Um…hello…he can pull a wagon to carry the other two!” That alone is reason enough to adopt a third dog!
We also happened to drive through our friend Molly’s hometown of Lancaster, New Hampshire, as we headed east on Highway 2 from Vermont to Maine. We hadn’t planned it that way, it was one of those moments of, “Wait a minute…Lancaster…why does that sound familiar…wait…I think Molly’s from here..maybe…” So we texted Molly and, sure enough, Lancaster, New Hampshire, is where she and her sisters grew up. And, after a few back and forth texts, we discovered that Molly’s childhood home was less than 1/2 mile off our route so of course we stopped to take a picture of it for her.
Later that day we found ourselves in Bar Harbor, Maine, which is where Wylie’s paws found their way into the Atlantic Ocean. Even though this isn’t the end of the journey it still feels like a big milestone. This trip was months in the planning and there are lots of things that could have gone wrong with our RV (and our relationship), so to find ourselves on the opposite side of the country with our toes in the water and all four of us healthy and happy and in good spirits feels like a huge success.
This milestone has also made us reflect on all of the wonderful people we have in our lives. We received a lot of support in preparing for this trip and we’ve received a lot of support during this trip and we’ve recently received a few awesome care packages from people we love.
- Suzanne’s dad and Mary surprised us with really nice plastic wine glasses when we left Chicago. We kept losing our real ones because objects in the overhead bins really do shift during flight. That’s not just the flight attendants trying to scare you. We learned that the hard way after many miles on the road. Our new plastic glasses are great and can handle all of the bouncing around on the road.
- Our friend Jenn Wraspir sent us a book called “Weird U.S.: Your travel guide to America’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets”. It’s basically a book about weird people and weird places around this weird country of ours. Since we’re weird people traveling through weird places it seems very appropriate. Definitely a great book to have on a roadtrip.
- And our friend Molly sent us a box of flash cards for the U.S. States & Capitals. Apparently she was concerned about our U.S. knowledge after reading our post about how we didn’t know (or at least Suzanne didn’t know) that Jefferson City was the state capital of Missouri. The only troubling thing about Molly’s gift is that it came with a note stating that by accepting this gift we were also accepting the challenge of a state capital game (aka drinking game) that will take place in November when we arrive in Santa Monica, CA. Guess we better start studying! See you on down the road…