Sola North American trip Table of Contents
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A 62-year-old Israeli/ American sola camping trip through the American and Canadian Northeast – some navigational tips and a “warning”.
From flipping through the world atlas on my grandmother’s couch to the banks of the St. Lawrence. Why Canada, the lure of the North and genreal musings about the benefits of traveling.
Practical info (and some philosophical musings) about “things”: technical details – equipment, physical preparation, gadgets from “electrical spoons” to GPS.
Some general thoughts about my trip, including how the mode of traveling defines the experience, Israeli vs. American campgrounds, being alone, safety, money, empowerment, politics, the social scene, temperatures, beauty, and why I wrote this journal.
A Turkish Airlines transatlantic flight from Tel Aviv started my trip with a colorful stop in Istanbul followed by breathtaking views over Greenland at low altitude. The high-contrast highly eventful day ended in the quietude of the Maine woods.
A summary of the physical, technical and psychological long-term effects of my sola camping trip: “On this trip nobody penetrated the space between me and my agency, between me and my ability to think clearly, so every mistake or misstep were clearly mine and owned, as well as every decision well taken”.
A small wooden house by a quaint Maine pond became my home away from home, Maine. Swimming, kayaking, sailing, picking blueberries and preparing for my upcoming sola camping trip in the north, I received the best possible hospitality and started to get acquianted with the natural beauty of the northeast.
It was no jackal nor coyote. This haunting other-worldly sound, breaking intermittently over the Pond, did not emanate from a large mammal, but from a kind of middle-sized duck romantically called a loon…
Bluegreen Festival and a Blueberry Patch
Perfect carefree days by the Pond: swimming, sailing the pontoon with family and friends, writing poems, sunbathing on the dock, picking blueberries from the secret bushes and enjoying a variety of good music at a Bluegrass festival.
First North American camping experiences and first Lobster Weekend; discovering the “disappearing” Atlantic coast, learning from kids about burrowing clams, and the awesome Fort Knox bridge.
A Warm Welcome to a Cold Country
The exciting ordeal of crossing from the land of stars and stripes to that of the maple leaf, from the toughness of border police to the warmth of an island home. My one and only cherished couchsurfing experience this trip, and strong Canadian ladies.
Arriving by chance at Quoddy Head, Campobello, I witness and document some of the most amazing tidal fluctuations in the world. Watch my stop motion slider…
Enchanted home of a great president, a bi-national park, beautiful bays, swamps and predatory plants. A foggy farewell to a magical island.
Leaving Campobello in the fogs, and a unique ferry boat.
Highest Tides in the World – Fundy
Ferns, fiddleheads and the highest tides in the world. Fundy bays fill up during high tide. Lovely families spend an educational weekend in a beautiful national park.
Highest Tides in the World – Alma
The most amazing tidal experience. The ocean literally stalks you. Boats stranded on the sheer beach in low tide, soar 8 m high when it rises… And all that in a small New Brunswick town, Alma.
Fairy lights in the rain, my first “dry cabin” and a missed tidal experience.
Enjoying the environment and the social atmosphere of North Sidney’s KOA in pouring rain, meeting an expat on her 1-year KOAs camping trip, and getting a sense of place.
A bit late in the season, but some puffins stayed out their migration for me. Also, seals, bald eagels, cormorants, and a great family business.
My first kitchen party (Ceilidh) was held in complete darkenss in a church hall at Baddeck, a small pleasant touristic town.
Dismantling a wet tent and waiting around all day for the “naughty, naughty rain” to stop, as my tent tumbles in a cold drier. Taking the midnight “Marine Atlantic” ferry to NL, but not before a hearty local dinner at the Cedar House, where I got traveling tips across the tables from a fellow sola female traveller going the opposite direction.
A rough start for my highly cherished destination, but I still managed to swim the lake, row a kayak and walk around it before settling into a rainy gloom.
The western coast is rich with living traditions, fishermen folklore, rugged shores and stunning geology. Especially imagination-inducing were Sally’s Cove, a still-operational forlorn fishermen’s village, and Broom Point, with its fishery museum. Green Point is where geologists find their haven on earth.
Woody Point and the Best Meal on the Trip
Woody Point offers beautiful views of the Tablelands, nice walks along the shore and great food at the iconic Old Loft.
At the Lobster Cove Lighthouse Museum, pieces of life lived on the edge of sea and land, rich in tradition but also in the unexpected, are well conveyed. A delightful and tasty kitchen party thrown by the park authorities for locals and tourists alike. A walk around the lighhouse reveals more of the amazing geology and ecology of the island.
The magic of Berry’s Pond at twilight captured in camera after getting some advice in photography from a fellow traveler…
Earth’s Mantle is Here – The Tablelands
Where Earth’s mantle is exposed, the most primeval landscapes prevail. Plants accumulate toxic metals, mighty trees turn to crawling bushes and predatory plants get the missing nutrients from insects. A highly recommended tour of the Tablelands plus free meandering in the lunar landscape.
A small quaint town perched between two rivers, a mountain and a seashore… What else do we need? A hearty sea foodie meal, seagulls and geese.
Getting empowered on my first “vertical” this trip. Meeting some great locals and learning about Newfoundland’s economy first-hand.
Another serendipitious event. Driving back by Woody Point, I heard a haunting sailor song on the radio. It was advertising a show just about to begin in town. I’m having an unanticipated highly spiritual and social musical experience in a kitchen party with Jim Paine and Fergus O’Byrne on the night before leaving the magical island.
Ducks Unlimited – Codroy Natural Reserve and Leaving Newfoundland
Driving out of NL in the rain, visiting a fabulous riparian natural reserve en route, savoring every last minute on the island. Dryin my tent in a gazebo downtown Port Aux Bosques in wait for the Marine Atlantic ferry.
Stars in the Lake – Ingonish National Park
Ingonish National Park and Cape Breton were so marvellous I did not have time to mourn leaving Newfoundland. The highlight of the visit was the empowering night walk, “Seeing in the Dark”, where I learned to sharpen hidden survival capacities I didn’t know I had. Highly recommended for all humanity…
The Remarkable Place – Middlehead Peninsula
“The End of Land, We belong to ocean and sky”. The “Remarkable Place”, as its original indigenous name means, was, indeed, remarkable in its beauty. Middle Head Peninsula was bought for $600 by Henry Corson to nurse his ailing wife to health. Cormorants, Indian Pipe, ducks, whales and sturdy tough vegetation confront the harsh weather.
Up Cape Breton’s Eastern Coast
Walking coyote country at sunset? No, thanks. Opting for a drive this time, I watched the seagulls flying against the picturesque lighthouse at Neil’s Harbor, was warned about rouge waves at Green Point, and had a cozy sola musical evening at the Keltic Lodge.
Going for the Vertical – Mount Franey
Climbing Mount Franey, dragging behing all the younger folk, but getting there. Beautiful views. Worth every minute.
The End of the World. Winds, waves, rocks jutting into an unconstrained ocean, and a group of wonderful tenters perched up on the cliffs… Walking by the beach and up a mountain, meeting and sharing “life” with a mysterious woman found sitted on a cliff , as well as a dinner by the fire with some expats.
An inspirational visit to the Gampo Abbey Buddhist monastery in Pleasant Bay, Cape Breton, including a climb to a mountain shrine and a visit to the stupa.
The Cabot Trail is one of the most scenic routes in the world. It is impossible to drive around without stopping every few meters, taking pictures and breathing it all in.
West Cabot Trail – Cheticamp, Le Buttreau, Skyline
Western Cape Breton is rich with history, geology and beauty – you can’t go wrong. Still, I was the only one walking the historical Chemin Le Buttreau, visiting the ruins of Acadian fishemen’s houses, while everybody else was fighting the winds and the rain on the famous Skyline Trail. Also, a great evening at Le Gabriele, meeting a super-friendly Canadian lady.
Prince Edward Island
Northumberland – Following the Sunset
On the spur of the moment, I snatched the opportunity to board a ferry to PEI. A breathtaking sunset from deck and the porpoises announcing the upcoming island. Pitched a tent in pitch darkness, only to discover a tranquil and beautiful beach scene in the morning. A brief friendship led to sea kayaking, and a gathering storm forced me to change plans.
Campbell’s Cove – the Red Sands
In another “End of the World” I found marvellous geology and friendly people. The red of rock and sand intertwined with sea and tidal pools, creating a superbly photogenic fantasyland.
Back to My childhood – Anne of Green Gables
A return to my dreaming childhood? Cavendish, the farm where Maud Montgomery got the inspiration for Anne of Green Gables and her other books, was no disappointment. Excellently preserved and maintained, I could still find my dreams hanging from apple trees, reflected in forest pools.
Back to Maine
Luck (and some good will on the part of motel employees) sent me to this cozy atmsopheric B&B in Sheidac, NB. I discovered some Canadians do want to escape their country’s cold.
Tenting at Hadley’s Point Campground, I have an enchanting evening walk by the beach, share a bonfire with a friendly couple, and the universe with herons and other water birds. Next day was Southwest Harbor, Sargeant Road, Seal Cove. This “desert” island, a place to enjoy the luxury of leisure, the glamor of sun, sky and water and total beauty.
Back to the Pond and the Loons, having meals with family and friends, including a traditional lobster dinner, taking the kayak again over the water in fog, and having some car troubles while preparing for the second part of my sola trip.
The nights at Jigger Johnson Campground, Kangamagus Road, deserve their own post. Past Labor Day, the campgrounds emptied out and I was facing the nights in almost total solitude with the cold, the howls and the silence.
Against a setup of incredible active geology and beautiful cascades, a meeting with an elderly couple made my day in Sabbaday Falls, a great introduction to the wonders of the White Mountains.
Going Vertical – Boulder Loop Trail
An exhilirating climb led to opening vistas of mountains and forests from rock ledges. Glacial boulders covered in black lichen dotted the way. Sharing the road with two friendly women and using the interpreted trail map, I learned a lot about trees (including the amazing hemlocks), rocks and forest preservation.
Beauty upon beauty in the “horizontal” walk of the Greeley Ponds. Enjoying incredible vistas of gathering storm clouds over forested mountains, I started this incredibly rewarding walk in the rain. Soon, though, it was dry enough to enjoy both the macro and the micro worlds that kept emerging around me, and some socializing too.
Fastest Winds in the World – Mt. Washington
Well, I did not really conquer that peak, the van did, but still I got an idea and a future challenge , and tackeld another decision making process. “Ends of the World” can also be found on mountain tops…
Intending to get to one place and reaching another, I was lucky to find myself on top of the amazing Cathedral Ledge, seeing a magnificent vista. Also a highly interesting social encounter with a female rock climber and a night drive on a desolate road.
Last sortie into the White Mountains at the magical Lost River Reserve. Roots make impossible overground journeys to provide trees with grounding and nutrients, water cascades down tunnels to erupt in beautiful waterfalls, boulders conceal caves and crevasses, and the park management made it all accessible and easy to enjoy.
From Highlands to Cornfields – The Trip to Vermont
Experiencing a change in climate, landscape, way of life and mode of travel, I crisscrossed the corn fields of Vermont to end up in a campground in the midst of nowhere. I met some great guys there, learned to eat S’mores and found out where custom granite tombstones are made in a place aptly called “Forever”.
In My Element – the Isles of Lake Champlain
I reconnected with my water element on this set of beautiful islands, replete with history, geology, nature and atmsophere. At night, as I was waiting for my cellphone to charge, I communed with the spirit of a huge tree.
Cruising Through Big Time – La Motte
Isle La Motte – extraordinary beauty and wildlife and stunning geology: the oldest fossilized reef in the world. Also: a Walk Through Time: Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going?
Vermont Apples and Japanese Sushi
Driving to Burlington to take care of my car insurance claim, then rewarding myself with a great Japanese meal. To wrap up my “authentic” Vermont experience I picked Macintosh apples at Hacket Farm.
My First Leanto and the Ironwood Trail
Transferring into my first leanto and studying the variety of habitats on the Ironwood Trail, I spent another charming day on Lake Chmaplain.
La Motte Revisited – Fossils and Serendipity
An extraordinary chain of events led me from a quarry turned nature preserve to the house of the people who fought a winning battle to make sure this is protected and safeguarded for future generations. Thw quarry featuries the oldest known fossilized reef!! Also a deligthful art barn and a pizza dinner in a home atmosphere.
Adirondacks – The Great National Playground
New York State welcomed me with colorful fruit stands, pristine glacial lakes and furniture stores featuring an authentic mountain hunting culture. Far from the lights of the Big Apple, my campsite was a picth dark, desolate post-season affair.
Mt. Whiteface – Inverted Sunrays, Interted Fishheads and Cloud Collectors
Climbing two sections of Mount Whiteface, I saw how Nature takes after the Olympic human enterprise, how sunrays reflect back from mountain valleys into space and how a cloud collector in the Adirondacks measures pollution blowing over from Shanghai.
Glory Bygone – Olympic Lake Placid
Sweet and sour. An out-of-season Olympic village that knew better days. As natural vegetation growth outpaces athletic speeds, new generations keep practicing in the ice arenas. On the way out – the breathtaking Cascade Lake – literally!
One Island out of 1000 – Gate to the St. lawrence
Leaving the Adirondacks, I took a farewell, breath-taking plunge into the Cascade Lake. Relocating to the 1000 Island Campground, Johnny Depp welcomed me in the bathroom… A beautiful sunset hung over one of the 1000 islands in the nearby state park.
Wellesley Island Nature Preserve
Beauty and more beauty. Wellseley Island is full with water, life and geological history. Paths are easy to walk and very rewarding to the nature lover. An uplifting encounter with a jolly Canadian girl in shorts.
Trumptes and High Heels – Jazz over the St. Lawrence
Kimberly Hawkey, the 10th Mountain Division Jazz Band and Studio G from Nashville, all sounded their music over the St Lawrence, as barges were going downstream. Then they played and sang at night in various Clayton’s hangouts. I visited (briefly) my first Big Lake and participated in an October Fest in another small town.
Playing the tourist, I boarded Uncle Sam’s bi-national boat trip, oohd and aahd about the cuteness of the islands and the general magnificence of the area, shot pictures obsessively, visited the must-see Boldt’s love castle, but also a memorial for “Operation Iraqi Freedom”. Learned about bootlegging.
Sola Going French – Entering Quebec
Crossing borders, I instantaneously found myself in a different human milieu. Quebec at that particular border was not especially welcoming, but I quickly made the mental adjustments. Staying a desolate night in an off-season campground in Nicolet was a surreal experience, as I was making efforts to follow the second presidential debate on my electronic devices in pouring rain.
Cold Baptism at Parc National du Bic
I’m having a utopia in a Huttopia, meeting animals, enjoying the beauty of the sea-land interphase on Chemin du Norde, learning first-hand about the cooling effects clear days have on night temperatures, and living through the coldest night of my life…
Du Bic – Two More Wonderful Trails
What a wonderful park, indeed. Filmed a woodpecker on Pic Champlain, saw seals in Les Anses as well as fantastic geology in Les Anses, where I meditated by the quietest, most picturesque bay. I spent a second night in the cold only to have a shower crisis in the morning, which proved an opportunity to meet a new friend and share my breakfast. A cute squirrel also wanted to participate…
Gasping for Beauty – Gaspe Peninsula
On the way to Forillon I found small villages with churches, Holy Marys, windmills, castles and lots of seabirds and trees in colors. Most spectacular were the famous cliffs that appeared somewhere mid-drive. I ended the day as a sola guest in an out-of-season B&B, enjoying the comforts and hearing interesting life stories from the owner .
Park Forillon – My First Hostel and Another End- of -the-World
Reaching Forillon National Park was well worth it, from Sunday-packed carriage roads to desolate paths in the woods, from the “Bay of Seals” to Land’s End, where the ocean opened up in all its grandeur, replete with whales and diving gannets. The day closed with a wondrous sunset and a great social evening complete with a piano recital and a crunch cake at Forillon’s Auberge .
Perce, Bonaventure and the Largest Gannet Colony in the World
A peak experience at the Bonaventure gannet colony. Every naturalist and bird lover paradise. Unfortunately, boat arrangements did not enable a full enjoyment of the experience. Still – except for the Galapagos – second to none…
Road 132 kept offering its marvels all the way from Perce to the Newbrunswick border. Staying in Campbelton, a multicultural border town, I learned about life there from friendly young folk at the Super 8 spa. Crossing the border was a bit challenging this time, but the same seasonal beauty greeted me on the other side. The next day it was a nice seafood meal at Machias, Maine, and a roadside motel.
Acadia National Park – Maine’s Precious Jewel
Acadia National Park deserves its reputation. Beauty was everywhere and glorious. After figuring out some bureaucracy I went ahead to circumnavigate Jordan Pond, a highly rewarding trail photographically and very interesting biologically.
A bonanza for the body and spirit, climbing Mt. Cadillac was challenging, but doable. Meeting wonderful people and sharing food and life stories made the day. The landscape turned from forest to stark bedrock, but life still thrived in rain pools, enlivening the barren landscape. The view from the top was wondrous.
Circumnavigating Eagle Lake was a perfect way to round up my Acadia time and sola trip. Beauty was inexhaustible, from the smallest details of the forest floor to the vistas of mountains in automn colors reflected in tranquil waters. Choosing to save money and drive through to the pond was another empowering decision.
As automn is coming to a close, I kayak over Kennebunk Pond for the last time and take some loon pictures on location, with the row in my hand and the cellphone in the other. We enjoy a great getout with oldies music and beer. Eventually I pack up my wonderful trip, ready (kind of) to resettle in the Middle East…