What I had originally intended to be a three week trip (from here to there and back here again) is now looking like 4 weeks especially since, at a minimum I need 3 days just to get to the port and then three days back home. That leaves 2 weeks or so to fart around on the island and an extra week to visit family and friends along the way.
Budget-wise, in case you’re interested, I was trying to keep costs down to a minimum while still enjoying a few bits of “luxury” so I “stubby penciled” costs for flying out/renting a car and then just driving my own car.
To fly and rent basically kills the “trip on a budget” part because I’d have to spend every night in a hotel or B&B. At close to $125 per night on average (nothing’s cheap up there) plus eating out, gas, car rental, insurance, airport parking, miscellaneous expenses for entertainment and park entrance fees, etc. the tab topped out at close to $6,000.
Driving myself came in at about $4500. It was cheaper because although it involved additional costs for highway tolls and ferries it allowed me to sleep in the van, camp in wild, use mostly campgrounds, and bring my own cooking gear and food.
Sure, I could have brought a tent with me if I flew but that no longer appeals. It may be cool to say I’m an old guy and still camp in a tent but wet days and nights, wet tent, no shelter for cooking, etc. is not something that floats my boat. Plus I needed the extra time for other photographic activities.
The other “plus” in driving is that, as I mentioned, I get to visit friends and family on the way back. Something I can’t do if I fly so factoring that in, driving only adds about 3 extra days. OK, so it takes some rationalization to conclude that but there it is. The trip up will be a non-stop drive sleeping at rest stops and Wal-Mart parking lots but the trip back will be spent in homes along the way. They don’t count as “driving days” in my little corner of the universe.
The other factor which made the flying option less appealing was that the trip would have to be heavily managed and rigorously restrictive in that everything I read indicated advanced reservations were the way to do given limited options for last minute accommodations. Sure, there may be many B&Bs out there but the good ones are reserved WAY ahead of time leaving one with having to settle with whatever’s available. Plus I am not aware of the restrictions many of these B&Bs have on ingress and egress. As I mentioned I came to do photography. That means I’d have to be up by 4 AM for sunrise shots or be out late for sunset/dusk shots (remember, it’s far north. Sunsets are late.) Would I be able to just walk out and return whenever I wanted? Taking a van essentially negates all those concerns.
So, where were we?
If the weather looks like it will be good on the way up (hopefully those 5 and 10 day forecasts will be reasonably accurate) then I planned on taking a week to get to Sydney, NS.
Acadia National Park.
Bay of Fundy.
That’s just for starters. It would entail a good 14 hours per day for 2 days of driving to get to Bangor, Maine. Then 2 days in Acadia NP and a quick shot to the Bay of Fundy for a day (assuming the tides are in my favor), a quick drive around Cape Breton to get a lay of the land (given I plan on taking more time visiting this area on my return), and then Sydney, NS for the ferry.
So now it’s time to book a crossing. Again, my original intent was for 2 weeks, arriving after a 6 hour crossing in Channel Port-Aux-Basques (PAB) and departing from Argentia, (the other side of the island) on a 14 hour crossing back to Sydney. Taking the ferry from Argentia meant I would not have to drive the 600 miles back to PAB.
Then I saw this video of the ferry crossing and began to have second doubts about the whole ferry thing.
Fortunately I read the comments. It’s not the same ferry.
Not even the same country. WHEW!!
But like the guy who’s always going back to check prices on things after he buys them because he thought he got a good deal, I had to keep digging around.
And found this:
Glutton for punishment, I am.
Anyway, undeterred and with lots of industrial grade Dramamine put on the list “to buy” prior to leaving, I kept checking out whether it was worth it or not to go.
You’d be crazy not to.
Continue with Stage 4 here.