Driveabout 2019 in Maine, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia


I've started a new tradition for my summer vacation -- a week or so off on an adventure, with social media and phone turned off, and no telling where I'm going. This summer I also began with no set agenda: no reservations or tickets, nothing but a vague direction that was subject to change at whim.

We headed Northeast from our corner of Connecticut, and just 60 miles out had a new tire go flat on I84. Swapped that out with the help of the State Farm patrol and stopped at the next exit to take a look at the tire. While I did, I heard a second go flat. WTH? I had just had those new tires mounted, maybe 3000 miles on them. I had been testing out TireMinder valve caps; the two bad valves were not metal, so I'm guessing the pairing is no good. Needless to say all those TireMinders came off immediately. Fortunately, I had two spares, so I was able to mount them up and get to a tire shop for new valves on the other two. And we were off again.

With that much delay, we wouldn't make it too far, so we found a beautiful spot at Hadley Point in Maine, just outside Bar Harbor, to watch the sunset. Once the crowd left, we shared the lot with a MAN overlander from Germany and a bunch of teenagers celebrating a birthday, complete with a ukelele and a lot of earnest interest in each other's feelings. Still, a beautiful spot.


Woke before dawn and 'raced' up to the top of Cadillac Mountain to watch the sun rise over Bar Harbor. I never tire of that.


Since we were there, Cash and I tackled the Gorge Trail up Dorr Mountain and then back down the North Ridge Trail. We saw one other human on the whole hike, no small feat in Acadia this time of year. It pays to move early.


From there we headed for Nova Scotia -- I wanted to get to the Cabot Trail around Cape Breton. Our target for the night, or more, was an isolated beach on the edge of the Fundy National Park. The road was slow going, and then narrow, and then not a road but a snowmobile trail. The Adventure Wagon was handling it well, the small water obstacles were solid underneath, and it still seemed like a good challenge...but as the hours wore on the trail got narrower, then less kept, and the water crossings were softer underneath. We were a heavy vehicle, running solo with open diffs and no winch, and not enough water. I decided to turn around, or, back out and then turn around, and pick up what looked like a brand new logging road. A couple hours of wide, high, and sometimes fast dirt, we were back on pavement and headed through Fundy National Park to our backup stop at "Pebble Beach" near the Cape Enrage lighthouse. It was getting late so we didn't stop in Alma for fresh lobster. I parked us in the lee of a "rock dune" for a quiet night's sleep, the only noise coming from the Honda Element nearby pumping up their air mattress.

After a morning beach walk we crossed over into Nova Scotia and down to the southern coast. Here we found our own private beach, on a short bluff at the end of a two-track with no one in sight or sound. Behind us, through the trees, was a coastal lake. Truly gorgeous place -- but a little cold for the night without the heater (sitting at home), so I took down the Flippac once night set in and we shared the truck bed -- one of the benefits of a full-size bed. I have a pair of low camp chairs that allow me to sit in the truck even when it's closed up, and look out the cap windows.

Another good night's rest and morning walk along the empty rocky beach and we were off, headed for the Cabot Trail, by way of what must be the world's shortest ferry ride at 130m. It took longer to load the 12 cars and trucks than it did to cross! Nova Scotia is aptly named -- it really feels like you're traveling up and over the Scottish Highlands, especially with the place names in English and Gaelic.

We started to encounter Too Many People, so I pulled off the Trail down to another secluded beach for a little break. We set up but it didn't feel like where we wanted to be that night, so after a walk we got back on the trail. We crossed some beautiful short-pine highlands and then got bottled up in a construction delay, so we pulled off again into a provincial picnic park that had amazing views down to the water from some unofficial hiking paths. Well worth the break, and we could pull out of there into a gap in the traffic.

I decided to head for "The End of the World," or the campground at Meat Cove. It looked more like "The Restaurant at The End of the Universe" to me, chockablock with every kind of camper or overland vehicle there is. Probably a great event for the social minded, but this trip was about solitude, so we backtracked to a road turnout we'd seen on the way in...taken by two women in a minivan. There was a turnout that already had two RVs, a generator, and a shirtless old guy I resigned myself to heading back down to the Cabot Trail and onward. But, wait, what's that two-track over there? Nondescript and overgrown, we explored to find a reasonably level camp spot overlooking Wreck Cove. The Photographer's Ephemeris told me that the sun would rise Right There, so we set up for the night. The only sounds were the winds in the trees and the lobster boats just offshore. (Sadly, no whales.)


Rising in the night to see the stars, then the crescent moon rise, and the sunrise put a perfect cap on the trip. After a good cup of coffee we headed out to the Cabot Trail, and, as it happened, another 1000 miles to our own beds just after midnight. In all, our old truck soldiered through 2500 miles in 5 days without complaint. It was a great shakedown trip for the Flippac, and I've got a good handle on Where We Go From Here. Thanks to all on this portal for the motivation and more than a few ideas!

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