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Old 08-28-2013, 01:37 PM   #1
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Default Maritimes, then and now (but mostly NYS and Quebec?)

Copied in part from the "Polls" thread "Do you Wave".
We were out east for a week, through New York/New England, western New Brunswick, and north to the St. Lawrence River south shore (aka Gaspe/la Gaspesie).
Sadly, we cut the trip shorter than planned. It seemed like there were new road tolls everywhere (we paid the equivalent of a tank of gas in tolls through NYS/MA/NH/ME out and back. And that's with reduced usage of the Thruway/I-95 corridor. We tried backroading more than a few times to dodge them, but realized the extra gas (and time) required probably balanced out. All in all, the cost of traveling to the Maritimes had increased for us. The NYS Thruway now classifies any 2 axled vehicle over 7' 6" tall as category 2H which results in almost double the basic tolls to use it. We used to get charged 2L which is the base toll for an average 2 axled passenger vehicle. Apparently they've decided to hit the tourists a little harder by way of the vehicle definitions.
After crossing back into Canada from Maine, the general service seemed slower/worse along Rte 132 in Quebec than we remembered, and it seemed more crowded out there than during our last visit 2 years ago. The language issue seemed to be more problematic a few times, and that also helped us to the decision to shorten our trip.
Another new wrinkle was the many small roadside pull outs/rest areas known as a "Halte Municipale", are now signed for no overnight stays. Probably a result of over-use by boon dockers. We never used them for overnight stops, but saw many with motorhomes in them late in the day a few years back. The Walmarts in Quebec get used regularly for boon dock camping, and often look more like pay per use places than parking lots.
Maybe we just picked the wrong week(s) to head out. By the time we reached Matane, we decided we'd had enough, and turned back along the Trans Canada to Montreal, dropped down into NYS through the Adirondacks (which are quite beautiful) and meandered west to home.
We had some business to take care of in our old stomping grounds in the Niagara area, and re-entered Canada via Queenston/Lewiston at around 18:00 on a Sunday, where we spent 1.75 hours waiting to get across the border. We also spent over an hour waiting to enter the US near Champlain NY, 2 days prior, but that was just after noon that day. Summer traffic, gotta love it. Might be time to consider getting Nexus cards.

Overall, it wasn't a stellar experience. Totally unexpected, but it just wasn't the same as we had seen it in the past. Not to discourage anyone contemplating heading out there, but more a short list of situations we encountered there recently. A lot of small things by themselves added up after a while to a disappointing overall impression. Throw in a few construction delays here and there, and it was a recipe for turning around and heading home. YMMV, I hope.
In hindsight, if we had continued on and done our return loop through New Brunswick, PEI, and Nova Scotia, things may have turned out better, but we decided to cut our losses to that point, and perhaps try again. We're thinking we may possibly try it at a different time of year, even though we've always traveled there in late July, early August, in our previous 3 visits.
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Old 08-28-2013, 03:00 PM   #2
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Default Re: Maritimes, then and now (mostly NYS and Quebec?)

Too many negatives on one trip can wear you down. It is amazing though how a few positives can really cheer you up.

A few weeks ago at the Cobequid Pass toll in Nova Scotia - we were charged the two axle passenger vehicle rate and not the two axle RV rate. The saved $1.50 paid for the next 6 miles fuel (insignificant I know) but it felt like getting a gift

A couple of years ago, crossing the border into New Brunswick from Maine, long line but moving steady, we expected to have to pay tax etc. on our purchases as we were over the limit. (Freeport and Kittery) We declared everything but were not assessed anything, they were trying to speed the processing time up because the line was building

In Maine, seemed to catch a lot of tolls, (it was like a dollar or something everytime we left our hotel) paid a toll, exited in a couple miles, paid another toll, came up to speed expecting hwy limits, pulled over by State Trooper who advised of the speed limit, kindly told me to pay attention to posted limits, asked about our trip, and sent us gratefully on our way. I love Maine!

We did try "no tolls" on the GPS on that trip as we were in the area almost a week but found the alternate route was long and slow so paying the toll(s) saved time and distance.

The no overnight stays you saw might just encourage some people to just keep driving - maybe not a good thing (road safety and local economy). I saw a few trucks parked in pull-over spots during the day on our last trip. I figured they were resting and would probably back on the road at night.
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Old 08-28-2013, 03:20 PM   #3
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Default Re: Maritimes, then and now (but mostly NYS and Quebec?)

I think that was it, far too many little annoyances added up to wear us down after a week out. And most of the annoyances were unexpected.

I didn't even mention the consistent C$1.394/litre for regular gas all though Quebec. As we were leaving, and approaching Montreal it dropped C$0.02/litre. That's about 8 cents less for a US gallon, which at those prices is around C$5.28/US gallon. The greenback is a little stronger than the loonie right now, so that price is probably closer to US $5.00/US gallon. Not cheap.

The positives were, the scenery including the local people in most places, as we find it looks so quaint and serene in a Norman Rockwell print kind of way, and the cat traveled well once we got underway and he settled in. That one surprised me the most, but pleasantly.
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