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mrkindallas Jun 27th, 2009 07:54 PM

Maine, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia in October - repost from Canada Forum
 
I posted this in the Canada forum as well, but since a large part of the itinerary is in Maine, I thought I should repost here as well.

Hi all...

I am planning a trip to the Northeast in early October. There is so much that I'd like to see that I need a little help prioritizing.

A little background on me...I'm a 32-year old female and will be traveling alone. I mostly want to make this a long driving tour through Maine, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. I would love to hit PEI as well, but don't think I'll have enough time (unless convinced otherwise). =)

I will be flying from Dallas to Boston, arriving late in Boston on the first night. I'll then have 10 days full days to spend traveling around, needing to be back in Boston sometime late on the 10th day. My flight back to Dallas is early the next day.

To clarify:
Day 1 (Friday, October 2) - DFW to BOS (arrive BOS ~ 11:30p and pick up rental car)
Days 2-11 - 10 full days to travel
Day 12 - Early flight from BOS to DFW

I will rent a car in Boston and figure it will be easiest to spend the first night either in Boston or maybe just outside of Boston to the north. I fly in on a Friday night, so I wouldn't think that I would have to worry about rush hour traffic on a Saturday morning, but I don't know how long it takes to get out of Boston...and maybe there is some advantage to driving out late at night. (Note: I have not been to Boston before and would love to spend at least half a day there, but this will not likely be my last trip that hits Boston, so I'm going to leave that for another time.)

As for accommodations, I am fine with staying in 2-3 star locations provided that I feel safe and the accommodations are clean. If there are places that cater to singles, I am interested in knowing about them. I'd prefer to keep the cost at $150/night or less. B&Bs, lodges, and other alternatives are acceptable and somewhat preferable to hotels/motels.

I've never been this far in the NE before, so I have a tendency to try to fit too many things into the time that I have, which is why I'm posting here. I am reading posted trip reports and answers to questions already asked, but truthfully, doing so just makes my list grow longer. =)

I know that I will be doing a lot of driving - and this is not the type of trip for everyone. I don't really plan on spending more than one night in the same place (maybe two occasionally). But I also want to make sure that I'm not rushing through or taking long detours for things that I probably should have skipped in order to see something more important. I am up for some adventure type things (kayaking, rappelling, cruises, etc.) and would love to hear recommendations for a single female. (FYI- I've been to Hawaii multiple times and I've seen Humpback Whales there. I've been snorkeling in Cozumel and Hawaii and I've seen lots of sea life. I do love sea life and do hope to see some, but seeing whales here would not be a once-in-a-lifetime thing for me, so I probably wouldn't take a whale watching cruise. Also, I realize the puffins are gone by October, so I won't get to see them.)

I should probably also mention that I am allergic to shellfish. So, as much as I love lobster, I won't be having any. Should I have more concern than I normally do about eating other things from the same kitchens where lobsters are cooked?

I have a long list of wishes for this trip, but realize that they may not all be possible. I'd like to see the fall foliage, historic covered bridges, lighthouses, moose, architectural interests, coastal towns, and lots of beautiful scenery. I'm not really a museum type of person and would prefer to spend as much time outdoors as possible. While I do enjoy hiking, I am also keeping in mind that I will be alone and do not want to get myself into a situation where I feel panicked or unsafe.

I realize that the exact time of the fall foliage can't be predicted this far in advance. I'm not really sure how much difference 10 days can make between weather conditions further north and fall foliage in Maine, but it seems that my best bet would be to go straight from Boston to Nova Scotia (early October weather v. mid-October weather) and then work my way back to Boston, hitting the Maine fall foliage during a week that seems more likely to be ideal.

The idea is to create a wish itinerary that is feasible, but when I'm actually there, I'll allow for flexibility.

Using Google maps and starting to work out potential day-long drives, I've come up with the following so far.

Day 1 (Saturday) - Drive from Boston to NS with some scenic detours - In Portland, ME, get off of I-95, to I-295 to Route 1. Take Route 1 up to Hwy 88. In Yarmouth, get back on I-295. In Augusta, take Hwy 3 out to Penobscot Bay. Head back to I-95 via Route 1 and then drive straight thru on the main highways to somewhere in NS. I do realize that this is a lot of driving for one day. Any stops recommended? I plan on hitting other scenic areas in Maine and NB on the return trip. What is a good stopping point in NS if heading toward Cape Breton the next day? I'm thinking somewhere in the Pictou to Antigonish region.

Day 2 (Sunday) - Do a little exploring of whatever town I stayed the night in and then head to the Ceilidh Trail. Devote the rest of the day to the Ceilidh Trail. Any concerns with this being on a Sunday? Any recommendations on enjoying the culture, the music, the views, some hiking, etc? I want to leave myself open to the possibility of experiencing the infamous hospitality of the region as well. Where to spend the night? I was thinking of staying in Cheticamp or the Margaree area. I plan on doing the Cabot Trail the next day, but realize that I need to plan for a fog day, so I plan on staying two nights.

Day 3 (Monday) - Best case scenario is that there is no fog and I can spend the day on the Cabot Trail. Any tips/recommendations for a single female traveler? If this is a fog day, I can enjoy the area I'm staying in, maybe head over to Baddeck...or Sydney. Night in Cheticamp/Margaree area.

Day 4 (Tuesday) - If yesterday fogged me out of the Cabot Trail, then I'll hope that today is fog free. Even if I was able to hit the Cabot Trail yesterday and there is no fog today, I will probably explore it again today. Either stay a third night in the same place I've been staying or start heading back toward Moncton, New Brunswick and spend the night somewhere along the way. Because low tide at Hopewell Cape is so early the next morning (8:53a), it seems best to go ahead and get as close as possible. Alternatively, I can take away the "cushion" day that I have built into day 7 and spend the entire day on the Sunrise Trail and make it all the way to Hopewell Cape so that I'm already there come morning. Is the Sunrise Trail worth a day? Or is it possible to hit PEI on this day crossing first in Pictou and then over the Confederation Bridge? If given the choice between spending the day on the Sunrise Trail or crossing over for limited time on PEI, which would you do? I have not done much research on PEI yet. Recommendations?

Day 5 (Wednesday 10/7) - Drive the rest of the way to Hopewell Cape, NB and explore the Fundy Bay. Recommendations of where to stay/what to do? Plan to spend two nights in Fundy Bay area, but not necessarily in same accommodations.
Hopewell Cape (low tide at 8:53a / high tide at 2:41p)
Cape Enrage (low tide at 8:46a / high tide at 2:35p)
Fundy National Park?

Day 6 (Thursday 10/8) - Bay of Fundy continued.
Take 111 to St. Martins (sea caves)
Fundy Trail Parkway (sea caves) - Low Tide at 9:14a / High Tide at 3:22p
Any recommendations as to the guided hikes on the Fundy Foot Trail?
http://fundytrailparkway.com/en/trail/guided_walks/
Possibly drive to St. Andrews by the Sea and stay there for the night.

Day 7 (Friday) - This is my "cushion" day. I can either spend a day in St. Andrews area or alter the rest of the itinerary to give me an extra day somewhere (Move up to day five for a quick tour of PEI?)

Day 8 (Saturday) - Morning in St Andrews. Scenic drive from St Andrews to Bar Harbor, ME. Two nights in Acadia National Park.
Drive from St. Andrews to Bar Harbor:
St. Stephen (Ganong Bros. Chocolate? Recommended?)
Columbia Falls, ME (Ruggles House - Recommended?)
Cherryfield, ME ("Blueberry Capital of the World")
Milbridge, ME (19th century architecture)
Gouldsboro, ME (Bartlett Estate Winery - Recommended?)
Winter Harbor, ME and Schoodic Peninsula
Bar Harbor (or Bass Harbor? - will see both, but which is preferable to stay the night?)

Day 9 (Sunday) - Day in Acadia National Park. Last night here.
Bar Harbor
Bass Harbor
Somesville
Hiking
Scenic views
Other recommendations?

Day 10 (Monday) - Scenic drive from Bar Harbor to Boston (inland fall foliage and covered bridges):
From Bar Harbor to Dover-Foxcroft
To Guilford (Lowe's Bridge)
To Athens
To Skowhegan
To Farmington
To Rumford
To Newry (Artist's Covered Bridge)
To Fryeburg (Hemlock Bridge)
To South Windham (Babb's Bridge)
To Cumberland (Portland Head)
To York (Sewall's Bridge)
To Boston
I realize that this is a lot of driving in one day. Truthfully, the list was longer. I don't plan on spending much time in various towns. I'm expecting that this will be more of a picturesque drive. Perhaps I'd spend a little more time in Cumberland?
Recommendations for an easy stay near BOS airport? Will need to return rental car and be on time for 9:00a flight next morning.

Thank you for all of your help! I know that I'm asking a lot!
Michaela

gail Jun 28th, 2009 02:15 AM

Your description of preferences/limitations is very inclusive - much easier to respond to than more vague questions.

BUT - no matter how much you like to drive and no matter what realization you have that you will be doing "drive-bys" rather than more comprehensive viewing of things, some of this just won't work - particularly your 2 longest driving days at beginning and end.

According to Mapquest it takes about 10 1/2 hrs from Logan Boston to beginning of NS. That in itself is a longish day for a solo driver. Add to that that you will likely not end up at hotel until about 1 AM after flight, rental car pickup, drive and check-in, you will not likely be bounding out of bed at 5 AM for a drive. Hours of daylight at that time of year are obviously shorter - it is going to get dark around 5:00. AND you want to get off the interstate a few times for stops to see a few things. Not going to happen as you planned, no matter how little sleep you need or how driving tolerant you are or how fast you drive.

Alternative for day 1 - check schedule for Cat Ferry. It leaves on alternate days from Portland and Bar Harbor to Yarmouth, NS. Puts you at the southern end of NS which may alter your plans somewhat - but saves some time and driving if it is a Portland day. If it is a Bar Harbor day then I might still do it and do some other modifications to your entire itinerary to do Bar Harbor area first and a more direct route ont he southern part.

Similar problem for final driving day. I methodically added all your hoped for stops into Mapquest and came up with 10 1/2 DRIVING hours. That does not even account for likely foliage-seekers traffic on Columbus Day weekend (that day is Columbus Day), the windy rural nature of some of the roads, nor your even slowing down to see any of these bridges and trees for which you have travelled a couple of thousand miles. A "little more time" in Cumberland - like 5 seconds instead of 3 seconds?

This day is also not just impractical but impossible.

Not trying to be harsh, but since you obviously are looking forward a great deal to this trip and have already done quite a bit of research, I am guessing you are the type person who can now go back to the beginning and make some alterations to your itinerary. You may also have to prioritize what you want to see and eliminate even more than you already have.

Sometimes going to different parts of the country transit and travel times get away from us. When we have visited the western US, I was unprepared for the vast distances between something interesting A and something interesting B. The flip side of that is often New England visitors - they look at a map of NE and see it as a tiny portion of one of the larger western states and greatly under-estimate travel times, distances and over-estimate how much they can see and do in a short time.

Revise your plans and I think you can have a wonderful trip - I also enjoy long solo driving trips - but this one will not work.

One final reminder - when you book a rental car, make sure it is one that you can take into Canada. And you need a passport for Canada now - make sure you have one.

wliwl Jun 28th, 2009 06:37 AM

I'd recommend the ferry from Portland to Nova Scotia. We once did a Boston/Nova Scotia/ New Brunswick/ Maine trip with the ferry and OMG I felt like we were in the car for days and days and days. Anyway, the ferry was super fun.

gail Jun 28th, 2009 06:43 AM

Just checked - Cat ferry does not run on your date 10/3 - so your redesigning of trip is going to be more complicated than just taking ferry as I had suggested.

MareW Jun 28th, 2009 08:47 AM

In my opinion, going to PEI for one day would not be worth it. I've spent about ten week-long vacations there, driving up from the Boston area. At a bare minimum, I'd recommend three nights.

We took a trip that included the Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia, and PEI years ago. It took two weeks, and we felt it was too much driving for us to ever attempt again.

mrkindallas Jun 28th, 2009 10:11 AM

Thanks for all the replies. I agree that those two days are quite a bit. I was kind of thinking at the time that I've driven from Dallas to Washington, DC on my own before and done 12-hour driving days, so they are possible...but thinking about it now, I agree that they are not enjoyable.

Besides, because of the timing of some things at Cape Breton, I need to revise this quite a bit anyway. The Celtic Colours Festival takes place during my travels, but I've scheduled myself to arrive in Cape Breton too early. I'm working on a revision and will repost soon.

I do already have a passport, so no problem there. I went through the nightmare backlog from a couple of years ago.

I have already reserved a rental car and the terms and conditions do include Canada and unlimited mileage, so I think I'll be okay there as well. What is the availability of gas stations like throughout this drive? Do I need to be concerned about having a full tank before hitting any particular stretch?

And..Gail...You are right...Being from Texas, which is a huge state with lots of open space, straight roads (even the much of the backroads), and fast driving, it is difficult to understand driving in the NE without actually doing it. I can think of some extreme conditions in Hawaii, lots of in-city conditions in Washington, DC and New York City, and backroads of the South....but I think that the path I'm creating for this trip will be a different driving experience altogether.

Again, thanks for the input so far.

mrkindallas Jun 28th, 2009 10:36 AM

Oh...and I did look at the sunrise/sunset calendar. While I'm on Eastern time, sunset is at about 6p. On Atlantic time, sunset around 7p. I usually plan for about 30 mins of twilight as well. There is also a full moon on 10/4.

Also, I didn't originally account for losing an hour of time on my way north and then gaining an hour on my way back.

OceanBreeze1 Jun 28th, 2009 11:24 AM

Just a reminder that Monday, Oct 12 is Canadian Thanksgiving so you may want to reserve your accommodations for Thanksgiving weekend early....Oct 9, 10, 11....if you will still be in Canada during that time frame. And, Celtic Colours runs Oct 9-17, 2009.

LaurenKahn1 Jun 28th, 2009 01:25 PM

You are doing way too much driving. Nova Scotia is much larger than it looks on the map, and one day to drive from Boston to NS is not enough--especially since you have just taken a long plane flight.

If I might ask, if you want to go to NS, why are you flying to Boston? You would be much better off flying into St. John's, NB or Halifax, NS. On the other hand, you could just concentrate on Maine and go no further north than Campobello Island, NB, where you can visit the FDR vacation home. It's well worth seeing and looks as if FDR and his family just left. It is the place where FDR contracted polio.

mrkindallas Jun 28th, 2009 04:06 PM

Well, this was not really intended to be a vacation in NS. I didn't know that there was such a thing as the Celtic Colours International Festival until I started trying to plan my time on the Ceilidh Trail. Once I saw that there wasn't really much scheduled for the Sunday that I planned to be there and that there was such a thing as this festival, I realized that I wanted to change my plans to devote more time to Cape Breton.

I intended (and still do intend) for this to be a driving tour of Maine, New Brunswick, and Cape Breton (and not the rest of NS). Originally, I was trying to hit Vermont, Montreal, PEI, and the rest of NS as well...and then I saw that Newfoundland was a ferry ride away from Cape Breton and I wanted to include it, too)...So believe me, once I realized that the NE takes more time to drive through than it appears (at least to a Texan) and that the sun does go down and I do have to sleep, I cut more than half of it out...lol.

Long road trips aren't for everyone and I certainly don't do them often, but the ones I have done are some of my fondest vacation memories. Checking in and out of hotels is not a big deal for me - I don't pack a lot and don't unpack at each location. I really see this is kind of a backpacking trip of the northeast - except with a car and a suitcase.

In reality, the total round trip is right about 40 hours driving time according to Google Maps. That's not including some local driving that I'll be doing in towns and areas that I stay in - but as far as commuting goes, it's right at 40 hours - even when I tell Google Maps that I'm taking all the slower backroads. Over 10 days, that's an average of about 4 hours a day in the car. In my everyday life, I have an hour commute to work everyday, driving 2 hours a day plus working about 10 hours a day. On days with bad traffic in both directions, I've spent 3 or more hours on the road in addition to working. So, an average of 4 hours a day of driving is fine with me....it's just a matter of actually getting the time to average out rather than cramming the bulk of it into 2 days. I think I'm still going to have one long driving day, but I think it will be in the middle of the trip - and it makes the average car time of the other days lower.

If I were trying to do this in fewer days, I'd agree that I must be crazy (or if you'd seen my original plans - lol), but I still think that with 10 days I can cover this much ground comfortably. I don't expect to really get to know every town I stop in...just get a small flavor of some, just take a few pictures in others, and get to know a select few a little better.

For Nova Scotia, I'm really only hitting Cape Breton. I will not be going over to Halifax, etc. I will probably stop in Truro once just to stretch my legs and walk a short 30 minute walk that I've mapped out - it's just a good stretch-your-legs stopping point and I was able to map out a short little walk that I am interested in.

I did consider revising the trip to go through Halifax and take the ferry from Yarmouth to Portland as was suggested earlier, but since I wasn't planning on going through that part of NS, that adds a lot of driving time to get to Yarmouth plus a 5.5 hour ferry ride. It turned into about an 11.5 hour trip at the cost of about $300 USD. Driving from Port Hawkesbury to Portland is only 10 hours if you stick to the main highways, at least according to Google Maps. And it gives me the opportunity to try to hit some of the inland fall foliage.

I realize that even Cape Breton has long travel times between places, but in my revised plans, I'm trying to make it a 4 day/3 night area, which should give me time to get a taste of the area and experience at least a day or two of the Celtic Colours International Festival.

I'm flying into Boston because the ticket was about 1/3 the cost of flying into any other location. It was really an amazingly low price and finding the price is what sparked the idea of the trip in the first place. The vacations that I've taken lately (Maui and Cozumel in the last 6 months) have been somewhat pricey and I am planning pricey trips to Puerto Rico in 2010 and Eastern Europe in 2011. So, I was actually going to skip out on going anywhere the rest of this year unless I found something that was a really good value at a fairly low cost...and this popped up.

I've come across other posts and trip reports where travelers started similar trips in Niagara Falls, Montreal, or Quebec, and they spent fewer days on their trips than I am...and they seemed to enjoy theirs...So I'm hoping that if I can work out the right magic of where I should stop and how far to go each day, that I can also have an enjoyable trip.

And thanks for the suggestion of Campobello Island - you've added to my list!!! ;) Actually, I came across another trip report earlier that mentioned it, so it's already a part of my revised plans - but it did add a location to an already full itinerary.

wliwl Jun 28th, 2009 04:14 PM

Just make sure you leave time to really get out of the car on Cape Breton. We hiked and it was lovely.

We were in a restaurant there and a tour bus unloaded. I overheard a woman lamenting that Cape Breton wasn't that interesting, and I thought - Well, did you get out of the bus?!

mrkindallas Jun 28th, 2009 04:22 PM

wliwl - Which trails would you recommend that a single female hike alone? I will definitely be spending time out of the car in Cape Breton. It looks lovely and I can't imagine anyone not finding it interesting. Did you drive to Meat Cove?

mrkindallas Jun 29th, 2009 05:39 AM

Alright, so I've worked on revising these plans. I'm now taking a longer time to get up the coast. I cut out a few things. One that was difficult to cut was St. Andrews, but it was adding 2 hours of drive time plus stopping time.

One question - Is it common for people in this region to actually get Columbus Day off? In the Dallas area, you work on Columbus Day unless you work for a bank or the government.

This modified plan still has a few long days of travel, but I don't think they are nearly as long and completely impossible. My plans on Cape Breton are not specifically worked out yet, but I plan for at least two days on the Cabot Trail (probably spending one night at Meat Cove, another night in the Ingonish area, and spending 2-3 hours hiking each day), some time on the Ceilidh Trail, and some time at Celtic Colours events that are not too far of a drive.

Day 1 - Friday 10/2 - Late arrival into Boston. Pick up rental car. I'm considering doing the hour drive to York, ME and staying there for the night. I realize that this is somewhat crazy, but I'll still be on Central time, I sleep on planes, and it's just a one hour drive, so even though it will probably be 1-2 a.m. when I get there, it puts me at my first stop for the next day.

Day 2 - Saturday 10/3 - Probably won't be waking up early.
- Cape Neddick
- Depending on the time, might hit up the Farmer's Market in York
- ~4 hour drive to Bar Harbor, taking scenic Rt 1/Hwy 88 and stopping at the Penobscot Narrows Observatory and maybe Fort Knox.
- Spend the evening/night in Bar Harbor/Acadia National Park

Day 3 - Sunday 10/4 - Half day in Acadia National Park
~4 hour drive to Lubec, detouring through Winter Harbor/Schoodic Peninsula
-In Lubec, get lighthouse views and spend the night

Day 4 - Monday 10/5 - Cross over to Campobello Island, losing one hour of time.
- Roosevelt Campobello Park (cottage, friar's head, liberty point, short walk to rugged point)
- East Quoddy Lighthouse (not walking out to it)
- Watch and listen for whales
- Cross over to Deer Island
- Old Sow
- Some picture stops in Leonardville
~2.5 hour drive to St. Martins - probably arriving around high tide
- Fundy Trail Parkway
- Back to St. Martins (sea caves)
~2.5 hour drive to Hopewell (okay for this drive to be after dark)

Day 5 - Tuesday 10/6 -
- Start morning at Hopewell Rocks for low tide
- Quick stop in Cape Enrage for lighthouse pics
- Fundy National Park - Hike Dickson Falls Trail
- ~3hr drive to Truro via Hopewell Rocks for high tide view and stopping in Truro for a 30 minute walk to see some of the tree carvings and the Berlin Wall remnants.
- Drive on to Cape Breton (okay if it gets dark). Haven't decided where to spend the night yet...possibly Baddeck.

Day 6 - Wed 10/7 - Cabot Trail via Cheticamp, hiking Skylike trail and ending for the day in Meat Cove

Day 7 - Thu 10/8 - Hiking at Meat Cove in the morning, continue on Cabot Trail, another hike (possibly Middle Head Trail), stopping for the night in Ingonish area.

Day 8 - Fri 10/9 - Cape Breton, Ceildih Trail, Celtic Colours (concert in Part Hawkesbury)

Day 9 - Sat 10/10 - Cape Breton, Ceildih Trail, Celtic Colours (Gaelic Song Circle in Mabou)

Day 10 - Sun 10/11 - Long drive from Cape Breton back to New Brunswick - take an inland trail in New Brunswick over to Maine for fall foliage (not defined yet)

Day 11 - Mon 10/12 - Continue inland fall foliage driving through Maine. After sunset, transition over to main highway and head to Boston for the night.

Day 12 - Tue 10/13 - Early flight from BOS to DFW.

Thoughts?

owlwoman Jun 29th, 2009 06:51 AM

Sounds like a nice trip. One suggestion for the first night would be Portsmouth, NH instead of York, ME.

As you're just looking for a place to sleep, there are some chain hotels right off 95 that are clean, safe and most likely a little less expensive than York. It's just before the border of ME.

We might be travelling to the Bay of Fundy/Camponella Island region in early August (coming from Quebec), I'll write a report about the area if we end up there.

Grandmommy Jun 29th, 2009 07:03 AM

Just a suggestion that you make absolutely sure that you can, indeed, pick up your rental car at midnight or later. Logan's pretty dead at that hour. Immediately heading an hour or so north sounds like a great idea to me.

Expect your drive to Bar Harbor to take longer than anticipated. At what point are you planning to switch over to Rt 1?

gail Jun 29th, 2009 07:39 AM

Since I was the first great negativity post, let me emphasize that I was not talking out the comfort or safety of your first and last driving day - but the actual feasibility of those specific days - the average hours/day in car is irrelevant to my comments.

Your revised plans for first and last days make it possible to cover the ground you wish to. Just randomly picked Hertz car rental at Logan and they are open 24 hours/day.

mrkindallas Jun 29th, 2009 08:47 AM

owlwoman - Thanks, I'll look at Portsmouth, NH.

One thing I'll need to do is make a quick stop at a Wal-Mart or something similar something the first day to pick up a few things that I'm not going to carry on the plane (ice chest, folding chair, etc.). I haven't checked to see if anything like that even exists in York or Portsmouth.

Once I'm done with my trip, any recommendation for an easy way to share these items with someone else rather than sending them to the landfill?


Grandmommy - Yes, the car rental place is open 24 hours. I was actually quite surprised by that.

I was only planning on the Rt 1/Hwy 88 drive between Portland and Yarmouth.


gail - I understand. I didn't think your post was necessarily negative - just more realistic.

LaurenKahn1 Jun 29th, 2009 09:18 AM

Cutting out Halifax really makes little impact on your long drive across Cape Breton to get across NS. Please note that the route through the middle of NS is the quickest route. Going either the north or south routes is much slower.

I would be interested in reading your trip report when you get back. Personally I would not miss the museum in Bath, ME, but it would take you at least 2 hours to do. The museum is about the history of boat building. They actually train novices to build boats (small ones) on site. I just stopped there accidentally when I did a two week tour of Maine, Campobello and Gloucester, MA, in connection with 2 separate elderhostels. I was fascinated by the museum. I wished I had had more time in Maine.

Your frenetic schedule will mandate that some things get cut when things do not go like clockwork.

china_cat Jun 29th, 2009 09:28 AM

in answer to your question about Columbus day, I will say it is not uncommon for people around here to get it off. My company gets it, my husbands (not hq'ed in MA) does not. However, lots of people take it off, because its such a beautiful time for a getaway weekend in New England. I've been stuck in traffic, trying to get from New Hampshire into Massachusetts for 3 hours.

you might want to investigate some alternatives in case your trip is impacted by rain. some of those hikes and outdoor activities will be pretty nasty if its pouring, which is always possible.

It should be a very pretty trip.

mrkindallas Jun 29th, 2009 10:01 AM

Lauren - I'm confused by your directions for NS. I'm not really sure what you are suggesting since the furthest south I'll be going in NS is Truro and because Halifax is to the south of Cape Breton....way to the south.

mrkindallas Jun 29th, 2009 10:11 AM

The next step of the planning process for me is to look at alternatives for rainy days (for me, that means to either go somewhere where it's not raining or hit up a museum or shopping, or in worst case scenario - switch up the future itinerary and use the bad weather as driving time to get to the next place early). I am flexible with the itinerary once I'm on the road. It's just nice to be able to plot out an itinerary to the point that I can start reserving rooms.

OceanBreeze1 Jun 29th, 2009 12:22 PM

It does not make sense to go from Ingonish, to Port Hawkesbury & then back to Mabou.( see Canada post)

mrkindallas Jun 29th, 2009 12:28 PM

Yes - the plans in Cape Breton are not really worked out yet. I just put those things in there because they are events that I came across. They are not definite and I'm looking for things that fit in better distance-wise.

emalloy Jun 29th, 2009 12:35 PM

Why aren't you flying in and out of Manchester, NH or Portland, ME. or in one place and out of the other. I know it costs more to do the drop off thing but do look into starting your trip farther north. Many Massachusetts folks use the Manchester airport.

texasjo Jun 29th, 2009 12:47 PM

Portsmouth would be a good stop for first night. In addition to Neddick Light, Portland Head Light is a must. Please take a few minutes to stop by and you'll be glad you did. We are just back from road trip from Boston to Maine with primary focus being scenery and lighthouses. Those two (which we'd visited before) and West Quoddy are among our favorites anywhere. We saw so many and loved each one but I won't add others to your already crowded list :) Campabello is definitely worth your time and East Quoddy is beautiful if the fog doesn't roll in. We barely got a photo and quickly could not see anything. In Lubec, we stayed at Home Port Inn and enjoyed it very much; they have a fine restaurant there. Drive the scenic byway to Schoodic Peninsula and take time to drive to Schoodic Point for a walk on the rocks and big splashes.

mrkindallas Jun 29th, 2009 12:53 PM

emalloy - The ticket to BOS was purchased based on cost factors. RT between DFW & BOS was $169. RT to anywhere else I checked in the region was over $550. I looked at small airports as well as large...and tried creating my own connections through WestJet. Nothing beat (or even came close to) the $169 for BOS.

And really, the drive from Boston to Portland is only about 2 hours if you bypass the coast...wasn't worth paying three times as much for a plane ticket.

mrkindallas Jun 29th, 2009 12:58 PM

texasjo - Thanks...Sounds like you did see much of what I plan to see. Portland Head is definitely on my list. If you post a trip report, let me know...I'd love to read it.

LaurenKahn1 Jun 29th, 2009 03:39 PM

There are three routes across NS, as I recall. Going either along the north or south shore the roads are slower. The route that goes across NS is the most direct.

I still think you have planned way too much driving and will inevitably find out you cannot do your schedule. As I recall, Yarmouth to Sydney (most direct route) is about 12 hours to give you an idea. I know you are going around the north way, but the driving is no picnic.

I do think your plan to stop and stay in Baddeck is a good one. There are lots of options there for housing. If you don't have reservations anywhere in NS, stop at tourist information and they will find you a place to stay. There are lots of bed and breakfasts in addition to motels.

My problem with your schedule is that it will all end up as a drive by and you will be exhausted. What I would do is leave options open in case you find out your schedule is too ambitious.

In two weeks, when I did it (and this is 1993 now), I drove from DC to Portland to meet the ferry and put my car on the ferry to Yarmouth. On the second day I drove to our home exchange outside of Halifax in Bedford. We did one driving trip to Cape Breton combined with at least one night on PEI to visit all the "Anne" sites and see the "Anne of Green Gables" musical. My daughter was into the books at that time. I believe we were out a total of 3 nights but, of course, cannot remember where we stayed at this point.

To go home, we took the Scotia Prince from Yarmouth (went during the day going back). The overnight ferry from Portland ran every day when we went and we took that as it was less driving than going to Bar Harbor. The ferry we took took 11 hours (not the current catamarans).

We drove home to DC, I believe, from Portland in one day. I remember the car's air conditioner broke down as we got on the New Jersey Turnpike. Yuk!

The things we remember from trips.

My trip to ME was totally separate from the NS adventure. Aside from Campobello and St. Andrew's I have not been to NB.

If you like white water rafting, raft the tidal bore as it comes in on the Schubenacadie River. The river is a mudflat at low tide. Really something to experience, but make sure you stay overnight afterwards because you will get filthy and need a place to clean up. The trip is timed to coincide with the tidal bore. Really fantastic! My son still talks about it. He got thrown in and he thought it was wonderful (you wear lifejackets). Actually, I think he sort of threw himself in. He was back in the boat before we knew it had happened.

I would love to return to NS at some point. Anyone want to home exchange in DC? Not this year, though. This year I am off to Finland on an exchange.

mrkindallas Jun 29th, 2009 03:56 PM

Oh ok...No, I'm not taking the ferry, so I am missing the entire portion of NS that goes from Yarmouth to Halifax. I'm keeping north of that. You can drive into NS through New Brunswick. You'd have to look at a map - I think that my "north way" and your "north way" are completely different. I think that you have the Yarmouth-Wolfville-Truro-Halifax drive in mind. I'm not headed that way at all. I'm doing the Moncton-Truro-Port Hawkesbury route. In other wordds, I'm driving up and around the north end of the bay of Fundy as opposed to crossing the Bay of Fundy and starting in way south NS (Yarmouth).

I'm not real big on the tidal bore river rafting idea...maybe if I had kids. But with just me, I'd be more interested in watching others than doing it myself. (I'd rather take a picture from shore of someone falling in than falling in myself.) I don't think the short time that I'll be in Truro coincides with the tidal bore, but I haven't really researched it after changing the date either.

And, girl!! You are talking about a lot of driving on my trip!! It seems like you took some long out-of-the-way drives for just one night!! =)

I will be flexible with the plans...I'm just trying to get an idea of the possible. Nothing is definite until I've already done it.

LaurenKahn1 Jun 29th, 2009 04:08 PM

We had days on that trip where our drive was from Halifax to the light house just outside Halifax.

The home exchange was for 2 weeks. After we got to Halifax, aside from the drive to Cape Breton and PEI, we did not do a lot of driving. The driving was simply getting there and back.

I know you can get from Boston to NS driving. To get from Boston to St. Andrew's NB is about 8 hours, I think.

On the drive to the ferry, we did not do it all in one day. We stopped overnight in CT. I remember we stopped at Old Sturbridge Village, MA. I can't recall whether we did that going or coming home. I believe we drove straight home from Portland in one day. When the a/c broke in the car, any thought of stopping overnight somewhere went right out the open window.

It's your trip. You asked. I said. You want to do something I don't think is great, hey, it's your trip. Go for it! Please come back and give us a trip report when it is all over.

mrkindallas Jun 29th, 2009 04:47 PM

<You want to do something I don't think is great, hey, it's your trip.>
I appreciate your input. I'm just not sure I'm understanding exactly what you are telling me would be better. I think it's essentially to pick a spot and explore it for 10 days, but I've already explained that's not what I'm looking for in this trip. So, I guess all I can say at this point is that I'm thankful that we all do get to have our own opinions. I'm certainly open to constructive feedback (which is why I posted), but I'm either not understanding or disagreeing - and oddly, I'm not sure which.

I will definitely post a trip report. Thanks again for your help! I wasn't trying to be critical...just trying to understand.

LaurenKahn1 Jun 29th, 2009 04:58 PM

To each his own. I wouldn't recommend all the driving you are doing, but, as I said, it is your vacation.

When I planned my vacation I had no idea how much driving there would be. If I were to do it all over again, I would have cut out PEI. The problem was that in 1993 my daughter would have killed me if I did that. To her the trip was all about "Anne of Green Gables". So, we had to go to PEI.

The Celtic Festival sounds wonderful. Make sure to get the "Doers and Dreamers" book from NS tourist information. Order it ahead of time. That book is the bible of any NS trip.

mrkindallas Jun 29th, 2009 05:01 PM

Maybe you were just reading the original post at the top before I revised the trip somewhere in the middle of this page. ?? If that's the case, then I agree that my original plans were ranging from improbable to impossible. I think that I made a decent revision, but it will still not be anything like the trip that you had. I do understand having a home base and exploring out from there, but without kids or anyone tagging along, and without lots of stuff weighing me down, I'm more into the stop here one night and move on type of adventure for this trip.

dbldidit Jul 1st, 2009 09:32 AM

Hi Dallas gal - I live just north of Boston and my husband, pup and I are planning a similar trip in a couple of weeks. We are driving straight to Bar Harbor/Acadia and staying 3 nites (we need to realx for a few days, as I am a teacher :), then up to NB to stay in Fundy for 3 nights and then over to NS on the north side - staying overnight at Stonehame (Scotsboro) before driving to Cheticamp (2 nites) and back through NB (St. John's- Check out the Homeport B & B) and then Campden ME. The reason we are doing 15 nights is because the driving is much longer and tiresome than it may appear. (We did part of Texas 2 years ago and loved it - think I 35 San Antonio for typical New ENgland traffic I'm afraid - I'm sure it'll be netter in Canada)- I think you still may be overly optimistic - I didn't get the best feedback about Meat Cove - are you planning the Skyline Trail to hike? We are staying at Merry's Motel in Cheticamp - we are booked in dog friendly places - I like to plan and pick a point to go to , but my mother-in-law was trapped on a Nova Scotia/PEI car trip with her sister-in-law a few years ago and they drove forever and often arrived just before ares were closing - it gets dark earlier than you think in the North East in the Fall- I advise you check out some sunset time to enjoy on the beach and the tides are very important for view certain areas. Just wanted to help you out. Enjoy your trip. dbldidit

OceanBreeze1 Jul 1st, 2009 12:27 PM

dbldidit, are you going to do The Cabot Trail when you are in Cape Breton?

mrkindallas Jul 1st, 2009 09:01 PM

dbldidit - Thanks for the input! Yes, I am planning to hike Skyline Trail.

What have you heard about Meat Cove? I was also planning to do one of the hikes in that area. I haven't come across more than one negative review of Meat Cove, which was from someone who wasn't particularly thrilled with much of Nova Scotia it seemed, so I discounted that review. The pictures that I've seen of the area are stunning. I certainly am not expecting that there will be much around other than nature...and am not looking for luxurious overnight stays.

Merry's Motel in Cheticamp is also high on my list of possible overnight stays. I've read a lot of good reviews. The Homeport B&B also looks like a nice stop. There are so many interesting inns and B&Bs in the area that it is difficult to pick. I've never stayed in a B&B before, so that will be a new experience for me. I'm planning on staying in B&Bs and small family run inns every night (except the first since I'm arriving so late).

I do have sunrise sunset calendars for my locations and have made a note to remember to print out the tide schedules and maybe tidal bore schedules.

I hope you post a trip report - or at least update me on your experiences (good and bad)...and that you all have a great trip - including the pooch (wish I was able to bring my two - they are well-behaved and love road trips, but they are big dogs and would be too much for just one person to handle for that long on the road =( ).

dbldidit Jul 2nd, 2009 07:01 AM

Hi - we definitely are doing the Cabot Trail! My hubby dislikes crowds on vacation , so we joke that we always "Just missed the festival!" :) Taffy is trained to look out the window tethered to her car bed! I didn't mean to be negative re meat cove, it's just a long trip i think - check out this traveler's notes : http://www.cross-country-trips.com/meat-cove - he suggests staying overnight there - I think ALL coasts are beautiful 0 that's way I love living driving distance to the coast my whole life. We will also take the hoteliers advice about the best walks/hikes/views. I do plan to report (I obsess the week I return creating our memory book) I must state strongly that Columbus Day is a HUGE holiday around here - many who can take the Friday off and going to NH or ME or western MA is big -generally the peak is more near MA but you can never tell- there are many colleges around here and I think that is a big parents/homecoming weekend/football thing as well. that first night - hotels next to Logan are not exactly in Boston proper. Maybe shuttle to a hotel and then public transportation into Boston for the day and then rent your car back near your hotel?

mrkindallas Jul 2nd, 2009 04:17 PM

Oh...Yeah...I actually came across that website and read their entire trip report. I think that if you are already on the Cabot Trail loop, then it's not that much more distance (considering how far you've come already). It sounded like a 30 minute drive for 16 miles from their trip report. My understanding from other websites is that the last 10 miles are unpaved, but not horrible to drive on. Google Maps actually puts the drive at about 18 miles, 45 minutes from Cape North, which is where you would turn off of the Cabot Trail - still close enough for distance/time not to be an issue for me.

I've decided to cut out the back country driving through Maine on the way back, so I'm no longer concerned about the slow backroads that day. I'm sure that Columbus Day traffic headed back into Boston will be a nightmare even on the highways. So I'll just be prepared for a day of road rage and slow driving. Worst case scenario is that I get back so late that I have to stay up the rest of the night in order to not miss the plane. I've done that once before while doing a Washington, DC - Baltimore - NYC trip. I fell asleep as soon as I got on the plane...woke up an hour later and we were still sitting on the runway. I was actually thankful for being so sleepy that day.

dbldidit Jul 18th, 2009 06:00 AM

Hi mrkindallas - here we are in Nova Scotia - it took us 6 hours to drive from north of Boston to Bar HArbor - on a Monday morning with no traffic (and my hubby drives long distances all the time for work). We stopped at the lovely tourist info in BATH, MAINE - cute town, but then got back on the road and hit the "bottle neck" at Wisscasset (sp?) Stopped at the dock at SPRAGUE"S for the absolutely BEST lobster roll ever (all lobstah!) BAr Harbor town is a bit touristy, but Shore Line walk and we had access to a private beach to walk - really cool (remember these beaches are not like FLA, they are almost all rocks and shells, sp wear your Keenes or other gripping water shoes) Cottage St Bakery and Deli just outside of the main drag in Town is the place for breakfast (dogs can stay with you on the heated patio). Then we drove up through New Brunswick (we will stay in St. John on the return)- be aware, after MACHIAS (and EAst MAchias) in MAine there is almost nothing for hours until closer to St. JOhn. We passed through immigration at Calais, ME to St. Stephen NB, where we stopped at the first ATM and got some CAD. It was about 6 hours to our place near Alma in Fundy - Hopewell rocks a must at low tide. One more night here until our next leg in Mid NS.

mrkindallas Jul 18th, 2009 07:06 AM

Thanks for the update! I am looking forward to that rocky shoreline...where I hope to find some beautiful seaglass. The drive times are about what I expected - and I'm surprised considering that you are contending with summer crowds. Looking forward to future updates! Have a great time!


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