Overland Expo to TBEX: The Long Way to New Hampshire

After our brief stop in Seneca Falls, the Camp Granola crew had some decisions to make about how to tackle the remainder of our Overland Expo to TBEX expedition. We needed to address issues of road fatigue, a too-fast pace, and too much hotel-hopping.

Which is why we opted to shorten our original plans of spending a few nights camping in New York. Looking at the time we had left for the trip and the priorities of my crew, I decided to push hard for one more night so we could have more time through Maine and New Brunswick. So, sorry New York, it’s not you, it’s me… I’ll admit it was really hard to blast through the beauty of the Adirondacks and I second-guessed myself more than a few times along the way but I was banking on being able to enjoy Franconia Notch in New Hampshire at a more leisurely pace by sacrificing New York.

We did have some business to attend to on the way though. Laundry needed to be addressed so we took an overnight hotel break somewhere in northern New York and used our time to plan our re-entry into Canada for Quebec geocaches. The next morning involved shipping our FD6 back to Big Agnes for repair, unsuccessfully searching for a replacement for Fred’s sandals that had suddenly given up the ghost, and a resupply of food.

But after all that it was time hit Quebec… if only for an hour.

Lacolle Blockhouse in Quebec… an added history bonus to a geocache find.

Border crossing #3…

We headed north, along Lake Champlain to cross over into Quebec. After puzzling the border guard with the mysterious purpose of our short visit (i.e. geocaching), we stopped at the welcome center for our first Quebec cache. We rolled along in search of a few more and ended up at the Lacolle River Blockhouse. It was built by British soldiers (ca. 1781) and is the only remaining structure of it’s kind in Quebec. Our stop here meant we scored our first visit to a Canadian historical site… which I’m totally counting as world history for homeschooling purposes. 😉

We then zeroed in on a little park that was a nice pit-stop for lunch… and a geocache. We were successful on the lunch part but had to walk away with a DNF for the geocache. We made another attempt on our loop back down to Vermont but came up empty-handed yet again. We left Quebec with fewer smileys that we’d hoped for, but we had to push on to camp and I had to factor in time for a surprise stop on the way.

A Canadian smiley for the Camp Granola crew.

Border crossing #4…

Having only spent about an hour in Quebec, we headed back south through a microscopic border station and into Vermont. We wound our way eastward through Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge, stopping for what we hoped would be our first Vermont geocache. Alas, we found ourselves empty-handed… again.

And, yet again I found myself a little pained for feeling the need to keep driving because Missisquoi was absolutely stunning. I consoled myself in knowing that what I wanted to do there was to spend a great deal of personal time with my camera, something that doesn’t reconcile with having Fred and George along. So I tucked it away in my personal travel wish list and moved on. We grabbed a quick, easy Vermont smiley in Swanton before we headed to Fred and George’s surprise.

Ben and Jerry’s…

During our stop-over in New York, I realized our planned path would take us by the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Waterbury, VT. The boys had been really good sports through the whole trip so I thought it would be fun… and maybe even slightly educational in spite of the commercial nature of the whole operation. And there’s ice cream so, at the very least, we’d get something yummy to snack on.

The boys were tickled with the surprise and I was happy to collect my “Cool Mom” points for as briefly as I knew they would last. They were fairly intrigued by the ice cream making process and with the factory tour it proved a nice length for a stop during a long driving day. Also, I knew I’d have to be a task-master in a few hours when we arrived at camp so I was hoping the good will created by my little surprise would carry us through.

Ok, ok… so the stop at Ben & Jerry’s wasn’t completely selfless. Mama likes ice cream.

And on to Franconia Notch…

As we approached Franconia Notch, the weather was turning sour. I knew that was in the forecast so by the time we finished our visit at Ben & Jerry’s, I had to cover the ground to Franconia Notch quickly. The other little tidbit I knew we’d be contending with is a new tent we’d never assembled before. So yes, I was heading into an unfamiliar park in an unfamiliar state with unfamiliar gear, in the rain, and approaching nightfall… it’s the camping road-tripper’s version of living on the edge.

By the time we arrived, it was after hours for the park office so we were on our own to navigate the campground and figure out which sites were available. When you’re under the pressure of failing daylight, you suddenly find yourself much less persnickety about campsite selection. Fortunately, the Lafayette campground was quite nice in general so we nabbed a site quickly and got to work.

It was a little bit of a comedy of errors at first. Normally Fred and George know exactly what to do but they couldn’t just dive in to tent pitching since the new beast of ours was all-together different from our FD6. It even had me slightly befuddled initially but we got it pitched and at least had the gear inside before the rain started to fall. While the boys stayed dry inside the tent and got a workable sleeping arrangement going, I had the pleasure of prepping dinner in the rain.

Putting a new tent to the test…

After a very long day and a hasty dinner in the giant vestibule of our new tent, we were all ready to collapse. Normally I’d break out my computer and work while Fred and George settle in but I had no energy left after the day’s events. So I joined the boys for sleep straight away, listening to the rain on the tent and laughing that we were giving our new camping home a run for it’s money right out of the gate…

And now for your moment of green…

A bit wonky on our first go at pitching our new tent but we were finally camping again. Cheers to sleeping outdoors!