Two people, 63 days, 12,000 miles, nine Canadian provinces, 23 states, just $4400!

Grand Coulee Dam, central Washington, with our Scotty teardrop trailer, a few days before we headed up into British Columbia.

RCMP officer Walsh was delighted to share insights as to Canada’s Ottawa Parliament, and best place for Premier Trudeau sightings!
Peggy’s Cove on the Nova Scotia coast, simply stunning. However, a big tourist draw; be prepared to share the road to this pretty place!
Cherrystone Clam Linguini, locally sourced, made by Susan at our Acadia National Park campground, Maine. One of best meals of our two month trip!
Watkins Glen State Park, upstate New York, named for the evocative gorge cutting through the park.
Snow rolling into Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Colorado; winter a-comin’!

The Lunz duo; the father gave me a 15 minute ride on his huge John Deere harvester in Illinois. Fun!
Biker bar, with tables in Chesapeake Bay, near eastern terminous of Hwy. 50, just 2,500-some miles to Sacramento!

63 days, 12,000 miles, two people, nine Canadian provinces, 23 states, unparalleled scenery,  just $4400!

We have been traveling regularly in six years of retirement, but had never done a “two-monther”. And, we had a large part of Canada we wanted to see, as well as exploring more of the US east coast and heartland. Take two retirees, a yen to see Canada and the United States, add a dash of adventure, tow a tiny teardrop trailer and explore for more than two months – you have the makings of a classic road trip. To avoid breaking the bank, we traveled with a small car towing a 900 pound teardrop trailer, camped and planned to stay with family/friends where possible.

So, late in July we departed for the Pacific Northwest, across Idaho into Montana and crossed the border into British Columbia. We would follow the TransCanada Highway the length of that huge country, with side trips to the “Niagara Falls of the north“, Kakabeka Falls in Ontario, visit several stunning Canadian provincial parks like Whiteshell in Manitoba and Algonquin in Ontario, a side trip to Ottawa to see Parliament and a visit to historic Quebec City. We then pressed on to the three Canadian Maritime Provinces, spending eight days in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Our only regret was that we had not more than the eight days to explore rocky, spectacular Canadian coastline.

However, we had pre-booked reservations in Maine’s wonderful Acadia National Park, so late summer found us heading down the US’s eastern coast to the park for several days, a stop in Boston with family and to revisit early American history. We then traveled west across the mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont, into upstate New York for a visit to Lake Placid (home to two Winter Olympics), Cooperstown‘s Baseball Hall of Fame and a four day rally with fellow classic Scotty trailer owners in Watkins Glen State Park. We then moved on to New York City, camping in a state park on Long Island. Our final push south took us to Delaware and Maryland to see family.

Dining on Maryland’s oceanfront, my brother pointed out the eastern terminus to Highway 50 was nearby Ocean City, Maryland. With my dislike of tedious US interstate highways, it was easy to plot a route back to California, covering almost every inch of historic US Highway 50, its western terminus, Sacramento. Along venerable Highway 50 are found scenic hairpin turns through West Virginia’s mountainous coal-mining district, Serpent Mounds National Historic Park in Ohio (with both effigy and burial mounds by Native Americans dating back 800-1300 years), the US’s longest historic covered bridge in Indiana and a ride aboard a huge John Deere harvester in Indiana.

At St. Louis, we did a 100 mile detour southwest on a section of historic Rt. 66, then cut back to Hwy. 50, across Kansas and into Colorado, with a visit to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park – where driving snow flurries suggested summer was at an end – then onto scenic Utah and a chilly stop in Great Basin National Park in Nevada. Our final night was spent on eastside of Yosemite National Park, a fitting place to end our camping adventure.

Our trip added up to 63 days, 12,000 miles, $1,150 in fuel; 45 nights in campgrounds, averaging $19/night (using our Federal senior pass), $910; two free nights, a truck stop and rest area; Affordable Travel Club stops, three nights, $90 (a lovely travel club where hosts put you up, feed you breakfast and share insights on their town/region, you tip them $30 on departure,; six nights with friends or family, no charge; hotels, motels, four nights, $400; groceries, $800; eight nice meals out, $600 (usually splitting one entre and a salad); miscellaneous, including fast food, incidentals, $450. Our total, about $4,400.

Lessons learned on this trip included these:

Plan a bit less structure into your trip. There is no need to book campsites or motels far in advance (with a few exceptions like very popular Glacier and Acadia National Parks). With family and friends, give them a rough window of 4-5 days; allowing flexibility if you find a wondrous place like Nova Scotia where you might choose to spend several more days. On that theory, build an “unplanned day” into your schedule, every week or so.

Ask locals for recommendations. As example, Montanans were pleased to tell us the best restaurants along our coming route (like Stillwater Fish House just west of Whitefish), the Marchants in B.C., our Canadian club hosts raved about the mighty Columbia River and then gave us a tour of surrounding mountain majesty, Sargent Walsh of the RCMP who offered the best place to see Prime Minister Trudeau heading to the Parliament and top attractions and restaurants nearby (we never spotted Trudeau, but found Ottawa a very compelling capitol city).

Revel in local fare, both dining at independently-owned restaurants and fresh food purchased and prepared in camp. Several of our best meals occurred on back to back evenings, an $18.95 full course lobster dinner in Bar Harbor next to Acadia National Park, followed by fresh clams with pasta and green salad, purchased in the same city and prepared at our campground the next evening.

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Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, as snow rolls in...

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