Before I begin, a thousand thanks to all our Canadian friends who welcomed us ‘home’ today, even before I’d posted that we’d crossed the border, which happened at 3:00 this afternoon, having clocked 5,230 kilometres. Yay!
Wonderfully cheerful and helpful customs guy, as we had to get our inventory stamped for everything that’ll be trucked back. A red-haired and bearded John Krasinksi look-alike – even sounded like him, except he had a different name on his lapel, and I wasn’t aware of any well-concealed movie cameras. He certainly gave us a warm welcome and made us feel glad to be back. Again, yay!
So, something of a round-up from our final overnight stop in the US of A, where we met a few Canadian snowbirds, making the return trek from Florida. Always friendly, of course, and keen to hear everyone else’s adventures over breakfast. One couple from PEI had just bought a trailer in a Florida RV park and this was their first trip – which the guy confessed might also be their last as he didn’t relish the thought of driving back and forth every year. Another elderly Canadian lady who was sitting outside the door of her room first thing this morning – was bare-footed wearing a t-shirt and shorts… And it was only 8 degrees C. She has a canola farm in Saskatchewan that she left for her brother and sister-in-law to manage over the winter months while she escaped to sunnier climes, on her own. Mentioned that she also owned other properties in various places! She was smoking unfiltered cigarettes (that I imagine she’s smoked all her life, by the gravel in her voice), doesn’t believe Round-up is carcinogenic as she’s been pirating it across the US border and using it on her crops for years, told us we shouldn’t leave our dogs in the car while we had breakfast as they might get cold and we’d paid a fee to have them in our room on our hotel bill (which we had, but they’d only charged for one dog)…. She was the sort of character you could chat to all day and not get bored – a tough old Canadian bird if ever there was one.
In fact, breakfast was a slow and chatty meal as the rain was bucketing down outside and no one was anxious to head off to drive the I.95. The weather forecast for the day wasn’t great, but we decided we’d hit the road anyway, even if it was a slow drive. However, 30 minutes north and into Maine, the skies cleared and the rain stopped, so we were thankful we’d left when we did.
Decision time as we approached Freeport, just north of Portland. To stop or not to stop at LL Bean? We were trying to work out whether we could arrive at the rental cottage this evening if we kept going, versus stopping to buy some much needed warmer clothes. As it happened, Peter needed gas, so left the highway at one of the Freeport exits, I went to use the washroom, and stopped to ask the cashier how far it was to the LL Bean store? “Less than half a mile,” she replied. Decision made!
Well, to say that this store is mega would be an understatement. It covers a whole block and includes separate stores for hunting, shooting and fishing, and skiing, boating and surfing – as well as being the biggest single-brand retail clothing store I’ve ever seen. Definitely a shopping experience on steroids – you could browse for a whole day and still not see everything. So we headed for the sale racks as we reckoned this was where all the winter ‘stuff’ would be. Jackpot! Peter downstairs and me upstairs, as we each had our own floor, as well as a huge department for pets! We didn’t dare venture there as we’d given ourselves no more than one hour, and pets alone would have taken a second day! And I’m sure Pip’s going to need a coat this coming winter, so just choosing the colour, would she like blue or prefer pink, with matching bootees…?
For me, to hurry things along in my own department, I chatted to someone around my size who was trying on shirts and had already unbuttoned them, so we speedily clothed and unclothed ourselves, handing items back and forth. Eureka – we were both small/relaxed fit, or medium/slim fit, but decided that the latter were still too baggy. Done deal – two in my preferred colours, and off to find a pair of jeans, which was a revelation in itself and likely says something about New England winters. Never before have I seen jeans lined with fleece, let alone bought a pair – but $79 reduced to $49 was a bargain I couldn’t resist, so optimistically grabbed a pair, size 6, which fitted perfectly. (Thank goodness for the diet!) Yep, that was me done, so headed off to find Peter who was still empty handed. (What had he been doing all this time?) However, with my help he, too, found shirts and warm cargo pants, so we were done and dusted in well under our allotted hour.
I confess that while LL Bean produces my type of clothes, this store is an overload on the senses. There was so much to see, and so little time, that I wanted to run in different directions like a headless chicken but, in fact, the time limit doubtlessly spared my sanity and the bank account. Just sorry that I didn’t think to carry my cell phone into the store so I could take a photo or two – although that might not have been allowed.
So back on the road and the first sighting of a bald eagle – a sure sign that we were heading north. Then…. Drum roll please. The first Timmys (Tim Hortons to anyone not in the know) just south of Bangor, as well as the first ‘Beware of moose’ sign on the side of the road. LOL – we decided that moose on the road should be otherwise known as ‘speed bumps’! Or, for our Mexican friends, ‘topes’. Sorry moose, but as we neared the Canadian border we were both starting to feel rather flighty.
Rounding up my search for the stupidest place name: As you know if you read yesterday’s blog, ranked number one, so far, is Soddy-Daisy. However, I did spot one today that runs a close second – if not good enough to claim the top spot: Norridgewock. Just let me know which one you prefer so I’ll at least know someone’s reading my rubbish. Only joking – the number of responses and followers has been amazing and gratifying, because I can safely say that some evenings during this trip I’ve had my eyelids propped open with match sticks in order to finish typing my blogs, so it’s been your wonderful comments and encouragement that have kept me going.
Now, if you’re perhaps breathing a sigh of relief, as we are, that we’re finally ‘home’ – I promise that the blogs will continue, just maybe not every day, although I’ll be keeping my eyes and ears open for interesting snippets and topics to keep the literary taste buds tingling from NS.
Before signing off from the road, however, I’d like to assure all our Mexican friends that we will sorely miss you, and always carry happy memories of our time in Ajijic. I’m not going to list all your names because I’m sure to miss someone and will have to later apologize, so to everyone at LLT, our Cabañas neighbours, our pickleball partners and opponents at the Raquet Club, I prefer to say a fond ‘au revoir’ rather than ‘goodbye’, because our Nova Scotia door (as soon as we have one to call our own) will always be open, and I know we’ll see many of you again.
Warm hugs to everyone – and watch this space….