Stress and Setbacks

Trip Start Jun 12, 2012
Trip End Oct 18, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Maine
Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Howdy folks,

Well I wish that I could say that the last few days have been enjoyable, but they have been quite the opposite! With a lot on our minds and with the roadtrip entering the final stages, it has been a bit stressful. Not to mention, I haven't fully worked out my after roadtrip plans! Before we left Saint John there were a few things that we wanted to do. First we went to take a look at the Reversing Falls which is a river that flows into the Bay of Fundy. When the Bay of Fundy hits the high tide mark, the river reverses its direction flow and flows back upstream. It wasn’t exactly a falls, more like a rapid and we saw it when it was low tide so the river was flowing out into the bay. Its unique, but not hugely exciting. Later when we returned at midday, the river had stopped flowing at mid tide.

Next we hit Tim Hortons which is one of the things that I’ll miss most about Canada. I won’t be able to order a medium double (sugar), double (cream) coffee for less than $2 and actually have it taste good. Then came the joys of closing our RBC accounts. Steffie didn’t have much left in her account so she just withdrew it in US dollars and closed it, but I needed to wire some money back to my Australian bank account which proved to be too difficult to do on the spot. So for now I left my account open which proved to be the only good thing out of the day.

We drove out of Saint John and down to Saint Stephen which is the border town with Calais, Maine lying just across the river. Adam’s family had told us to visit the Chocolate Museum so we located it downtown and went in to take a look. There is a chocolate brand called Ganong which has been around since 1872 and are famous for their hand dipped chocolates and for creating the heart shaped Valentine’s Day chocolate box. Apparently it takes 3-5 years for a chocolate artist to become professionally trained in hand dipping the various kinds of chocolate pieces and hand swirling the decoration on the top. It is slow, painstaking handicrafts that most other factories use machines for. Nevertheless we enjoyed the free samples.

Confident that we had everything ready to cross the border, we drove over the bridge to US customs. Unfortunately I had overlooked one crucial detail in our road trip plan. In order for us to sell a Canadian car in the United States, we basically have to get an import certificate which states that the car complies with the US Department of Transportation. We didn’t have that so we were turned back. At this point we were in a bit of a panic as to what to do. We had booked a hotel over the border for the night which we weren’t going to make it to and we started making calls to Vehicle Import Brokers to see how we might be able to do it. To cut a long story short, it was too difficult, long and costly to undertake that.

Realising that we needed some time and space to think, we checked into a local motel and Steffie and I did some brainstorming. We couldn’t sell the car in the US and we still had 6 weeks left on the trip. That was too long to just sell the car immediately and get a rental car, plus Steffi was leaving from New York in 2 weeks’ time. The solution was very round the bush, but it was the only thing we could come up with. We would have to drive the car into New York or Washington DC then drive back to Ontario which is a day drive and cross the border so that we could sell it in Canada. Then we would have to rent a car to finish the last 2 weeks of our trip. Hardly the ideal situation, but we can’t think of anything else.

We had a very restless night going over all the detail in our head and woke up just as tired and stressed as the night before. It was raining heavily and it didn’t appear that it would stop all day which also dampened our spirits. After getting ready, we packed the car, said our prayers and headed back to the border via the highway instead. We were stopped by a nice female border guard and questioned about our intentions. After a heart pounding 10 minutes, we were given our passports and allowed to return into the USA. Success!

It’s hard to describe how happy we were just to be able to cross the border and continue the road trip. Of course it meant that we just delayed the pain of selling the car down the track, but the immediate problem was solved and we were able to continue. We stopped at the information centre in Calais for some brochures and continued driving in the rain towards Bangor. After 2 hours, we arrived in the city responsible for horror novelist Stephen King, brownies and chewing gum. We headed to a shopping centre for Steffi to buy some new walking shoes and we grabbed some lunch, fuel and groceries as well. Having prepared ourselves to continue, we drove south towards Acadia National Park.

National Parks in the US have been busy, stressful and charming all at the same time. Luckily for us, we arrived just after the Labour Day long weekend finished and all the kiddies had returned to school, so the crowds were down. Not to mention that the rainy weather had probably kept some people away, but thankfully for us the torrential rain we had experienced in the morning had subsided to a mere drizzle. We made a brief stop at the information centre at the park entrance and drove southwest to the southernmost point of the park. We checked into the Seawall Campground and drove down to take a look at the lighthouse. It was under reconstruction, so it wasn’t great and the overcast weather wasn’t perfect for taking pictures, but we climbed down onto the rocks and gave it a shot anyways.

We also made a stop at the natural seawall which is basically a pebble beach that separates a lake from the ocean with the road running right over the top of it. The girls wanted to have a fire, but unfortunately for us I picked up some wet firewood that wouldn’t burn too well so that was a bit of a disaster. I spent 2 hours trying to make that work and we ended up just roasting marshmallows over the camping stove.

It’s hard to say how I feel about things at the moment; I guess I should be thankful that I have the opportunity to do this road trip in the first place. I just know that there are a lot of hard problems that need to be fixed before we finish and hopefully this doesn’t ruin the rest of the trip for us. I would hate to be thinking about this crap all the time and not enjoy Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Washington DC and Miami!
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