On one hand, it seems like just yesterday that we got in our new rolling home. But on the other, it feels like years have gone by since we first started out. We have somehow crammed in hundreds of experiences, places and lessons in just six months. We must say, spending the last three in Canada was wonderful. And our time there allowed us to really focus on what we like and don’t like about the RVing lifestyle. (Spoiler: Everything we don’t like is self-inflicted, go figure). In this RV life recap, we’ve included some of our favorite places as well as monthly overviews of what has gone on between gorgeous photo opps and fun adventures.
Want the short version? Check out our video of our Canadian summer highlights at the end of this post. And click here to catch up on months 1-3.
Top 5 Mistakes:
1. Going wayyyy too fast
2. Waiting to wash the outside of our rig – so many bugs to scrub off!
3. Not realizing we would need cash to shop at Costco in Canada (only takes Mastercard and non-American debit). We were those people who left our cart…
4. Underestimating how difficult it would be to not have good internet in Canada.
5. Not learning any French before traveling to Quebec (the road signs don’t even have English translations, but luckily a few have terrifyingly accurate imagery).
Top 5 Unexpected Experiences:
1. Campfire sing-alongs with local Newfies.
2. Giving a fellow traveler a ride in PEI (and keeping in touch via Facebook).
3. Running into a fellow WinnebagoLife blogger all the way in Newfoundland (and becoming email-pals).
4. Getting to go to the Winnebago product launch in Indiana and seeing some RVE Summit friends – Heath, Alyssa & Kyle!
5. Moochdocking for the first time in Michigan on our way back to Ontario with more RVE Summit friends, Kelley & Rob.
Most Memorable Places:
These are the places that made the biggest impact in the last three months as we traveled through New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, PEI, Quebec and Ontario (plus a few days in Michiana – yes, they call it that)! Check out our RV Camping Reviews page for more on the places we’ve stayed and our Travel Stories page for more activities.
Best RV Park: Sanctuaire Notre-Dame-du-Cap in Trois-Rivieres, outside of Quebec. This donation-based RV park was a dream. It was right on the water and had a beautiful park and church to enjoy during our stay.
Worst RV Park: Hidden Valley in Ontario: Park is mostly for long-term residents. Guests get a small area way in the back with uneven sites and a 5-minute walk to throw away garbage. Not horrible, but not ideal.
Best Boondocking Site: Port au Choix lighthouse: Didn’t see any rules against overnighting here and we are so glad we stayed. Amazing sunset, great ocean views and too much peace to absorb!
Most Unique Campsite: The Shire in New Brunswick: This is something out of a quirky movie! This free spot is a refuge for travelers and includes great views and a make-shift fire circle made out of old swings and other random things. It was a blast talking to the other people who ended up there.
Most Beautiful Campsite: Celtic Rendezvous by the Sea, south of St. John’s in Newfoundland. Those views! Perfect for whale watching.
On the Road
Worst Road: We accidentally ended up on a logging road trying to get to Sir Richard Squires Provincial Park near Gros Morne in Newfoundland. It was awful!!! It looked like it connected to the highway, but after hours of bumping down the dirt road, we were told by a nice logger that we were lost. Luckily, he let us follow him out.
Worst Drivers: Quebec City. After months of next to no traffic and slow life in small fishing villages, the people in Quebec City are in a hurry! On top of everyone needing to fly around each other and drive in lanes that aren’t lanes, the narrow roads and mass construction made navigating even worse.
Worst Traffic: St. John’s. The traffic wasn’t as bad as other cities, but the contrast to the rest of Newfoundland made it really stand out. And the narrow streets didn’t help.
Most Uncomfortable Place: Walmart with teenagers driving circles around us at night in Nova Scotia. Sigh.
Best Drink: Sipping delicious fruit wine with the owner of Younity Winery in Maine, Clem. It was a highlight of our time in Maine!
Best Food: While in Newfoundland, Brooke had an amazing crabcake meal and Buddy fell in love with mooseburgers.
Best Hike: Gros Morne Mountain. It was brutal, but the most memorable and beautiful hike we’ve ever gone on.
Best Bike Ride: The Kejimjukik National Park trails were gorgeous and fun to wind around. They went over boardwalks, by the calm river and through beautiful forests.
Best Sunrise: That one morning we watched it from the window before falling back asleep (still working on that morning person thing).
Best Sunset: Enjoying the sunset over a fire with our awesome neighbors at Cabot Beach Provincial Park in PEI.
Don’t forget to check out our RV Camping Reviews page for more.
In our blog posts, we try to focus on some of our favorite stories from the road. Here we give more details about what was going on in our day-to-day life.
Month 4: Oh Canada!
We were psyched for the cooler weather in Maine and really enjoyed hiking around Acadia National Park. However, it was way more crowded than we expected, so we spent a lot more time at the campground than planned. Which actually worked out great because it allowed us to become friends with our wonderful neighbors (Hi, Chatwins!). We still miss them and can’t wait until our paths cross again.
Before leaving the U.S., we also got dually valve stems on our RV so we could have tire pressure monitoring on all of our tires. It took FOREVER to find a place that could do it (thankfully, Freightliner came to the rescue). And seeing our baby suspended in mid-air about gave me a panic attack. But, having the monitoring has been well worth the hassle to have the peace of mind.
As much as we loved New England, we were even more thrilled to get to Canada. Our journey started with a surprisingly easy border crossing and perfect weather. Plus, for the first time in months, we had a route mapped out and things booked in advance. Honestly, it was kind of nice not to scramble last minute, but we still kept a few open days for our beloved boondocking adventures.
After walking on the ocean floor in New Brunswick and sipping wine at a local Harvest Host, we set off to Nova Scotia to hike around the Cabot Trail and explore Cape Breton Highlands National Park. We were determined to hike way more than we did in our first three months and were successful at breaking our miles-hiked record in a few weeks. Even before heading to “The Rock.”
During this time, I also became the Assistant Editor of WinnebagoLife. Being part of Team Winnebago has made a huge difference in our stress levels because it is mostly reliable income each month (I say mostly because it is still a freelance-based job, so anything could happen. But we feel really good about it). And it allows us to interact with some amazing writers, fellow Winnebago owners and employees. However, we weren’t planning to work this summer, so figuring out how to have internet regularly in Canada was a challenge. But, it all worked out!
Month 5: Our great escape
Newfoundland … just wow. We didn’t want to leave. I wrote in a recent post that this amazing place will be one of the great loves of our life. Seriously, we think of it all the time and wish it didn’t get so cold in the winter so we could just move there and call it good. Our trip was EVERYTHING we have wanted from RV life. We hiked all the time, plus we biked, ATVed, kayaked and took some awesome boat tours. We also dominated our work like a top-notch team any time we had good internet. Every day was a new adventure! While there we spotted icebergs, whales, puffins, moose, caribou, lighthouses and hung out with some wonderful locals. They are absolutely lovely people. Ugh! I just miss it so much.
But our favorite moment of the entire trip was just sitting by the water and watching the waves crash together. We plan so many fun activities that sometimes we forget to do those simple things that we always enjoy the most. That’s something we want to fix. We want to consciously make time to just be together and enjoy the view. And we’re so thankful for that reminder.
Month 6: Two steps back…
After an entire month in Newfoundland, we had to head back to the mainland. Although exploring southern Nova Scotia had its beautiful moments, it was much more touristy and definitely did not have that relaxing feel we had grown to love. However, Prince Edward Island did have some of those quiet moments we crave and some dang good french fries. After our time there we were supposed to head back to Maine. But, on a whim, we went to Quebec instead and the stress really amped up.
We didn’t realize all the signs would only be in French, not many of the people we met were interested in speaking English to us, and to top it off, someone cut our bike lock and tried to steal our bicycles while we slept! There were tears, profanity and lots of long talks about making better plans in the future. However, Quebec City is a must-see and we look forward to going back on a dedicated trip without the RV. We also had a wonderful spa day at Scandinave Spa in Mount Tremblant where we did a few hydrotherapy sessions that really helped chill us out.
Luckily, our next stop was Elkhart, Indiana for the big Winnebago launch where we got to see a few familiar faces and put a pause on our hectic schedule. Despite the ridiculous heat wave, we loved being there. It was awesome to be part of something so exciting and getting to work with a great team of people we admire. On our way back to Ontario, we had a quick visit with our lovely RVer friends Kelley & Rob in Michigan. But as we headed toward Niagara Falls we began feeling that familiar pressure of “what the heck are we doing next?”
Our problem comes down to balance. We have amazing times, but end up overwhelming ourselves by driving too far too fast, not having enough relaxing time together or rushing to catch up with our responsibilities. Luckily, places like Niagara Falls are there to help get us out of our funk. But it is still something we are working to fix.
Overview & What’s Next
Despite the gorgeous views, once-in-a-lifetime experiences and total time freedom, we have obviously been struggling. In the next couple of months, we plan to slow down – for real this time! We need to make sure we are having the quality time with each other we need, pursuing our individual passions and working to grow our blog as well as freelance projects. It has also become very clear that we crave time with other people and want to make it a point to meet up with friends on the road.
We’ve realized we don’t necessarily crave far away places. We just want to get away from the busy cities, popular parks and traffic-filled highways. Peace. We just want some quiet time in nature to let our minds rest. And honestly, it has been really hard to be in busy cities and touristy areas since we left Newfoundland. All we want is that same feeling of contentment to be available all the time. It is possible to find it, but we feel we have to search way harder now. One of our goals is to create that feeling within ourselves, to be able to get to that peaceful state without physically being somewhere that encourages us to be. I won’t lie, it is a struggle – more so for me than Buddy. But we are working on it together.
I’d love to be one of those enlightened, zen people that is always positive and happy. However, most days I get irritated, frustrated or stressed about dumb things. Which makes me more angry because we have an AMAZING opportunity for freedom and happiness in this new life. It makes me feel like I’m wasting it when I let something silly take away from all the great opportunities. But, it is difficult to trade a lifetime of bad habits and poor ways of coping for good ones. And I’d rather struggle on my own time than continue to use distractions to put off working on myself (like I did with school, work, etc. in years prior).
If you are thinking of traveling full-time, just know it has a way of shining a bright light on the things you are doing wrong. You will meet people and have experiences that will open your eyes. And it will change you for the better, but it won’t always be an enjoyable process. If you are anything like us, there will be tears, extremely long conversations and lots of praying. But it is so worth it.
Our plan is to stay places longer (not hard to do when fall out East is insanely pretty) and continue to work on ourselves. We’ll also be planning ahead more. As fun as just winging it can be, it is just an added stress we don’t need right now. But we plan to get back to it once we figure out a good balance for this new lifestyle.