We had a long, seven-hour travel day to get ourselves repositioned for our next destination: Niagara Falls! Our route would take us from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan to Youngstown, New York via Ontario, Canada. Since a border crossing always takes a bit of planning, we scheduled a five-day stopover at Port Huron Township RV Park.
Why does a border crossing always seem like such a big deal? Is it just us? We feel like we have to prepare, as though we could never just spontaneously roll up to the border and not somehow end up in jail. I don't really think that would happen but the whole process just looms large. It's not a problem in a car but, when we're hauling our entire house around, it just seems like the odds are pretty good that we've got some contraband on board.
I'm talking about chicken, houseplants, vegetables, alcohol - that kind of stuff. I worried about Sagil, my sage and basil plant. I get very attached to my plants and I didn't want him taken away. I just bought a case of wine, I sure didn't want to lose that, either! And then there's the whole coming back into the US process. Last year, entering Alaska, they took my tomatoes. So, for four days we ate chicken and tomatoes and drank wine, all in preparation for driving through Canada for a few hours.
The other thing we do to prepare is gather all our documentation in one place. We did this last year when we drove through British Columbia on our way to Alaska and it worked out well. Everything they asked to see, we had at the ready. But, remember in my last post I mentioned that I had been pulled over for speeding? Well, after the cop gave me back my Florida drivers license, I never saw it again. I know I put it in the dash cubby, but what I did with it after that is anyone's guess.
We tore the place apart looking for it. One day in particular I was "in a mood", going through drawers and griping about how messy and stuffed full of crap they were. I began pulling everything out and just tossing it on the floor. Thinking I had actually looked at the papers before throwing them across the room, Steven just picked it all up and threw it away. As we were gathering our documents, we realized we must have tossed out Scoopy's registration! Sometimes we are our own worst enemy.
We finally gave up the ghost and went online and ordered replacements. We would have to cross the border with a sketchy photocopy of my drivers license and a receipt showing we had paid for replacement documents. I could practically feel the handcuffs going on my wrists.
Before we crossed into Canada with Scoopy, we first made a day trip in Toadie. As I was perusing the map to plan our route to Niagara Falls, I happen to notice a town in Ontario named "Bayfield". Well now, doesn't that sound familiar!
Anyone remotely familiar with the RVing community will know The Bayfield Bunch, Al and Kelly. Al has written a daily blog for years about their snowbird travels to the American Southwest, a place they are emotionally drawn to. Al is a great photographer and along with his musings, he showcases his beautiful photos.
After an email exchange it was decided we would meet for lunch in the cute downtown area of Bayfield at a popular place called the Black Dog Village Pub & Bistro. We arrived a bit early and walked over to the Chevy Corvette show taking place in the park. We walked among hundreds of cars of every color and year. Of the ones I saw, all had Ontario plates. I guess it's the local hobby!.
By the time we arrived at Black Dog, Al and Kelly had just been seated. After introductions and hugs, I noticed someone was missing: Pheebe. Turns out one third of the Bayfield Bunch got to hang out at home, though we did get to meet her later in the day.
We enjoyed a delicious lunch and lively conversation with Al and Kelly, whom I found to be kind and thoughtful people. After we finished our lunch, and completely instigated by Kelly, we all had Coconut Cream Pie in a Jar. This required that we walk afterward, and as Kelly and I ducked into shop after shop, Steven and Al waited outside.
Back in our cars, we followed as Al and Kelly drove by and pointed out sights around Bayfield, places we've seen in his photos over the years on his blog. It was a gorgeous, sunny day and Bayfield was quite appealing. Finally, we arrived at their home and who should be there to greet us? Yep! It was Pheebs! She was excited to have company and led the way through the beautiful gardens that are part thinking pond, part magical forest and part flower show. I don't know how many varieties were in that garden, but Kelly knows the names of them all. They are quite knowledgeable, and they have designed their gardens so that they can leave for half the year and it will survive. Unlike these two avid gardeners, I don't have a green thumb at all.
We said our goodbyes to the Bunch and headed back to Port Huron. Since our plan is to be in the west early next year, we hope to meet up again with Al, Kelly & Pheebe, but we are happy we were able to meet with them on their home turf! See you next year, guys!
Back in Port Huron we took advantage of full hookups and got caught up on all our cleaning and laundry because, for the next week, we'd have only partial hookups.
On Monday morning we prepared Scoopy for departure, gathered our passports, documents and our wits. I had a little chat with Sagil just in case we lost him. Of course, we rolled up, handed over our passports and were met with a couple of generic questions, then "Have a nice day." Same on the U.S. side. I know we overthink this, but now it's like a ritual and as soon as we don't do it, the cuffs will come on!
NEXT UP: Niagara Falls!