We took another road trip er, off-road trip, as it were, with the same group as our North Maine Woods adventure last year. Plus a few! I guess it's not really a "Jeep" club anymore, as we were in our 2003 Tacoma, breaking the mold. The Morrises opted to share Topher's yellow TJ this year. Brendan was in his silver 4-door Wrangler again. The Sweeneys were in their new Grand Cherokee with Declan. Bob and Claude brought along Jessica and Ben this year, and they all piled into their 4-door Wrangler Rubicon. Other new additions to the group this year were Andrew in his white Wrangler LJ, and Ryan and Dani in his Grand Cherokee. It was certainly a more diverse mix of vehicles this time around!
We had such a great time in Maine that we wanted to do something similar, but also of course different. In order to keep things interesting, and to add a level of complexity to planning, we decided to cross an international border and head into Canada. This trip would include a couple long legs of highway driving in order to get to and from the off-road portion making the total trip longer, however it involved less off-road driving. The off-road section begins just a few minutes after crossing the border from Ogdensburg, NY, and passes through North Frontenac, Ontario, and makes a clockwise loop toward Ottawa. That's the plan anyways. Let's see what happens.
We packed all our gear into the truck, including Loki and his gear, and we left the driveway at 7:01am. Fortunately, we did our research before this trip. Unfortunately, what we found was that the province of Ontario euthanizes dogs without question if they deem the pup resembles a "bully breed". He's a total sweetheart, but he's full of pitbull and husky, so we opted not to bring him, because we didn't want him to have to die. It's sad, but he's thankful. He went to the sitter's house just down the road and we were officially underway at 7:12.
Our first stop was just a few minutes down the road for gas. This may have been a mistake. While the pump was running, we took the opportunity to move some stuff around and fill in the space that was previously occupied by Loki. It's important to have food and drinks and the camera easily accessible for a long ride. We were rolling out of the gas station by 7:22 am. We set our sights on the Sweeneys house. I would say we set our GPS for it, but we know the way. We had agreed to carry some of their gear, chiefly a grill, because the whole group would be relying on it, and the alternative would be putting it up on their rooftop, and that just stinks. We also carried a couple coolers, one of ours, one of theirs, for food for the group. After chatting a bit and trying to psyche ourselves up (or wake ourselves up?) we rolled out of their driveway at 8:20.
Our next destination was the Westborough, MA service plaza on route 90W at 9:30am, according to the most recent communication before the day of the trip. We hit some rush hour traffic getting there on 495S. We radioed to the Sweeneys on CB to ask if all the traffic was going to Canada, too. No one of us could be sure. We were just hoping that we wouldn't be late, making everyone else wait at the service plaza. As it turned out, we were both late and early! We arrived at 9:12, a full 18 minutes before our planned arrival. But about half the group had been under the impression that we were meeting at 9:00. So although we were "early", we were among the last to arrive. Oh well. A minor communication breakdown. Everyone listed above, except for Bob, Jessica, Claude, and Ben met at this location. The plan was to meet them at the first campsite, later on. We chatted, coordinated communications devices (CB12, because our usual channel 4 was too busy), used the restrooms, and synchronized our watches. We convoyed out of the service plaza at about 10 o'clock under drizzly skies in cool weather. It was not great, but it was not awful, and the forecast was optimistic, so we didn't mind.
After two bio-breaks in MA, the 'pike crossed into New York around noon. We were all getting a bit hungry so the passengers collaborated on the fly to find us a good pit stop for lunch. We agreed on the 518 Grille in Amsterdam, NY. They quickly moved several tables together to fit us all together. I ordered a Brown's oatmeal stout to drink, and a summer salad, which included grilled chicken, granola, pineapple, melon, and cranberries, and a fried dough buffalo chicken pizza. The waitress talked me out of it, citing the gigantic salad. As she took orders from the rest of the group, I mentioned to Mandy how good the pizza sounded and after a few minutes of discussion, everyone convinced me that I should order it. So I did. I ordered a buffalo chicken wrap and just had water to drink. Everyone's food came out, except Mandy's, so she stole a slice of pie while I worked my way through a seriously delicious salad. She was raving about the pizza as I was filling up. Her food finally came as I switched over from the salad to the pizza. It was just a small one, about 10" across. But it was thick; they load the toppings on there. And the dough was so dense and amazing. I justified it citing we'd be out in the wilderness and what if I didn't have access to food or something happened? So I ate the entire pizza. I felt like I was going to pop, but it was so good I couldn't stop. The beer was not noteworthy, if I'm honest. But the food here was outstanding. Well done.
Back in the parking lot, we tackled a few issues. As Topher was hanging out waiting for everyone to arrive back at the vehicles (we all paid separately) he noticed that his front passenger's side wheel bearing was about to fall apart. As he was working on confirming his diagnosis, I was dealing with a strange issue the Tacoma was exhibiting. When were arriving to the lunch stop, I had noticed that that truck's engine would not rev beyond 3250 RPM. I tried. Other than a possible decrease in low-end power (which may have just been due to the added weight of gear) there were no other symptoms. I plugged in my OBDII-to-Bluetooth dongle and pulled up the Torque app to monitor some sensors while I drove around the empty parking lot. Everything appeared normal, except that the top end of the engine's operating range was just inaccessible.
I parked the truck and hopped out to try and brainstorm with the group, and found that Topher had changed his diagnosis to a worn or broken RCV shaft in his front axle. Though a potential issue, it would not likely hold us up with the type of driving that we were expecting to do. So we agreed to leave it alone and monitor it, and we agreed that we were impressed he broke such a stout aftermarket piece.
Unsure of what to make of the Tacoma issue, the best option was to continue to monitor it as we carried on. I was wracking my brain to come up with possible causes, but nothing really made sense. Maybe it was a bad fuel pump? But then it shouldn't run at all. Maybe it wasn't getting a good spark? But then there should be a misfire code, stuttering down low, something. Since it ran fine up to 3 grand, and I don't typically rev it beyond that, it wasn't truly an issue. But it was...something.
So we got back on the road around 3:30pm. The lunch stop took much longer than we anticipated, due to the vehicle non-issues. But it's preferred to diagnose and address problems in a flat parking lot rather than on the side of the highway, or to run the risk of a potential for catastrophic failure. In other words, it's better to be safe, than sorry. We made a quick stop at a Sunoco somewhere along the route for gas and carried on. We exited the highway, and turned onto a minor route. We stopped at a McDonalds here for some of us to eat, get pictures with the giant cow, and I decided to seize the opportunity to get a couple cheap-insurance items at Advance Auto Parts, because it happened to be across the parking lot. Still unsure what was causing the problem with the Tacoma, I used the shotgun method, and bought a set of spark plugs, a bottle of fuel injector cleaner, and a box of fuses (unrelated). I dumped the fuel injector cleaner in in the parking lot, and decided to keep the spark plugs on hand, and only install them if necessary. When we got back onto the road, I was heavy on the gas, and the truck seemed to be running better, but still not 100%. It would rev up to 4000 RPM. Then ~4500. Something was different! So I kept pushing harder, while trying to avoid being too aggressive. Eventually, it was running normally again. I think that the gas I got first thing in the morning was just bad, and possibly gummed up an injector or two. I can't be certain. But, spoiler- the issue didn't resurface for the remainder of the trip.
After some beautiful minor highway and back roads driving, we eventually found Santway Park in Theresa, NY. And the Levesque family. It was about 7:00pm. Unfortunately, this was a couple hours later than our goal arrival time of 5-5:30, but we still had plenty of light, and it could have gone much worse! The cool thing about this campground is that it's free! At least as far as we could tell. The signs were somewhat ambiguous, but we took it to mean that a permit is required if you intend to stay for 5 or more days. Anyway, we didn't pay, and we had no issues. Everyone spread out and found their temporary "home". We hung our hammocks on three trees, with our heads hung from the same tree. Meanwhile, Shayna and Jenny prepared our dinner. The meal was steaks, green beans, chicken, mushrooms, and new potatoes. No surprises here; dinner was fantastic. There were multiple flavors of steaks, the green beans were nice and crunchy. So good. In keeping with tradition, Shaun built us a fire. Declan serenaded us with some ukulele and vocals. Always love live music! Everyone drifted off to bed when they were good and ready. We slept soundly in our hammocks.
We woke at 6:30, refreshed. I packed away our sleeping bags, pads, and hammocks while Mandy worked on coffees and getting my breakfast from the grill. The truck was packed by 6:55. Not bad timing. But the organization needed work. I inhaled an awesome breakfast sandwich from the J&S Grille (Jenny & Shayna, obviously), and then got to work on sorting the gear in a manner that made some sense. The trouble with the truck is there's so much room to store gear in the bed, so it can go multiple ways. In the Jeep, everything has to fit precisely in only one way, so it's easier to figure out. Anyway, we got a leisurely start to the day, and left the park at 8:30am, with a one hour ride to the border of Canada.
We cruised along the south bank of the St. Lawrence River for a while, and eventually stopped for gas and some Timmy Ho-Hos! That's Tim Horton's for any of you southerners reading this. Next stop was Walmart, because we wanted a real American experience fresh in our minds, just in case something happened and we don't make it back. Just kidding; a few of us needed some minor supplies. We got some juices to mix with the rum we were carrying. It finally started to sink in that the trip was starting. We were doing it. It's happening!
We cruised through the American side of the border, and onto the gigantic bridge over the St. Lawrence at 10:30am. We got in the short line at the Canadian side. Bob suggested a group photo op over CB, but stated that we'd have to hustle, so we wouldn't be holding up any traffic. Ryan set his camera up with a self-timer on the tripod, and then we counted down. We all hopped out and ran to the sign at the border, just in time for the picture, and then we all ran back to our rigs. The border patrol officers were not at all pleased with this activity. Apparently, you're not supposed to do that. We were all apologetic; we didn't know. Future reference, you can't get out of your vehicle at all in the line. In retrospect, it was probably suspicious behavior. After a stern talking-to, we were graciously allowed into the country, and we cruised on through and pulled off to the side of the road safely at 10:45. Once we all regrouped, we went a very short distance down the road, and pulled off onto gravel just ten minutes later.
After about 3 hours on the trail, we stopped for lunch in Merrickville. We found a small park downtown and parked just across the street. We got some cheese and crackers and salami out of the fridge and found a nice grassy spot to sit and have our lunch near the Levesques. The plan for the group was to spend a half hour in town for lunch and then wheels up and carry on. We were running a little behind schedule when we got into town so we wanted to make it quick. It as a little tight, but Team Tacoma was ready to roll just in time. Unfortunately, it was too short a window for some of the group, and it just simply wasn't possible. But this was also good for us because it meant no one was waiting on us.
We left Merrickville an hour after our arrival, and planned to skip part of the next off-road section of the route. This would hopefully get us to Black Donald Campground in time to have dinner and relax a while.
We did not cut out all of the off-roading between Merrickville and Black Donald of course! As we cruised the trail, we came upon what appeared to be a bridge that got washed out. We had to divert off the trail into a creek and climb up the other side. It was tight, but the Tacoma was able to negotiate the turns, narrowly avoiding a few small trees and a large boulder. Sadly, the Sweeneys were not quite so lucky. Coming through just behind us, they took some very light scratches from a boulder on the driver's side door. On their shiny, new Grand Cherokee. They took it in stride, and we kept on toward the campground.
We stopped a short way in to make some adjustments. I had to let some air out of the truck tires to soften the ride a bit. They were way too harsh at 35psi. I took them down to about 20-22psi, and it was a minor improvement. Some others did the same. I think some sway bars were disconnected for comfort as well. We cruised on a very straight, very flat trail most of the way to Merrickville. We passed what appeared to be a field burning along the way. We assumed that it was under control, but couldn't confirm.
Arriving at about 7:45, the group quickly set to work on setting up camp. We opted for hammocks again, due to the lack of good flat ground available, and the ease of setup. Mandy made me a drink, and helped with the kitchen setup. J&S Grille whipped up turkey tacos which were most excellent. I had one with nothing on it because I was totally oblivious to all the fixings that were spread out right in front of me. My second one was fully loaded with everything including an awesome handmade salsa! Once everyone had some food and drink in them, the jokes and laughter rang out across the site. I walked down to the waterfront and out onto a super sketchy dock with Brendan and Andrew once it was good and dark out. A terrible idea in hindsight, but you know how it is when something seems brilliant in the moment. It turned out fine, and we got a fantastic view of a super dark night sky before we all made our separate ways to bed.
I woke up because Rob got out of his hammock around 5am. He was just getting some water to calm a moderate hangover. And to pee. I decided to try to beat the rush and go shower when he just wanted to sleep some more. But of course he couldn't sleep. I had just put conditioner in my hair when the five-minutes-for-a-toonie ($2CAD coin) shower ran out. So I put in the second toonie we had gotten for showers, so I could finish. When I got out, Rob was waiting outside to get his toonie from me so he could shower off his hangover. I felt so bad. Thus began the great toonie hunt of about 6:30am. We went down to the main office to see if we could buy a couple more, but the office did not open until 8. There were a couple men inside, but they had no toonies! We went back up to the campsite to see if anyone else was awake and had a toonie. Shayna may have had a spare, but she wanted to first get through her own shower, to be sure. Understandable. She set off to go shower, and Andrew awoke shortly thereafter. I'll trade you a loonie for a toonie. He sold us his only remaining toonie. I was so thankful for this; five whole minutes of hot water. Sorta. The pressure was wimpy and the shower was awkwardly shaped, but I didn't even care. I felt a hundred times better afterwards. Mandy pressed me a cold-brew coffee from our french press, and I got a hot breakfast scramble from the J&S Grille. After devouring breakfast I really felt whole again, like a human being. It was amazing. We packed up the hammocks and sleeping gear, and then we made our way down to the lake for a group meeting and pictures.
There was one other minor issue with the Tacoma that I noticed the night before, but I wasn't really sure what to do about it with the resources I had. See, when these trucks are lifted, especially with longer leaf shackles in the rear end, the leaf pack on the passenger's side has a tendency to hit the exhaust tip where it dumps out the side in the rear of the truck. Old Man Emu makes a bracket to push the exhaust down about 5 inches or so. I have read mixed reviews on whether this works or not. When the truck is empty, there's just a tiny bit of clearance between the exhaust and the leaf pack. Unfortunately, over the trails, with everything jostling around, the exhaust gets pulled down quite a bit. This caused the hanger to break off the exhaust pipe where it was welded. So the last few feet of pipe were just hanging off the muffler, which isn't ideal. But it wasn't a problem, yet. I wanted to address it at this point, rather than leave it with the potential to get worse, and then try to deal with it on a trail, or who knows where. So I asked Topher if he had any good ideas. He whipped out a tiny hacksaw with a metal cutting blade, which was perfect. I set to work cutting as quickly as I could, while everyone else was slowly making their way into their vehicles and getting situated. Topher told me to give up, and took his saw back. I was confused, so he explained that a gentleman who works at the campground was going to grab a Sawzall for me to borrow and would be right back. He handed me his battery-powered saw with a brand new blade in it and it cut through the exhaust pipe in about one minute, like butter. The hope was that this would alleviate stress on the remaining hangers, and at least get us home with an intact exhaust. I tossed the scrap in the truck bed, thanked the man profusely, and we hit the road at 9:15.
It wasn't long before we were on trail again. The modified exhaust pipe was so much quieter. It still hit against the leaf spring occasionally, but now it was only hitting it against the side, and was not being constantly pulled down by the suspension. We cruised along a while, enjoying the gorgeous weather. We happened across some people on 4-wheelers, and they waved as we passed. That was reassuring, because we weren't absolutely certain if full-size vehicles were supposed to be on this particular trail or not. Again, the signage was ambiguous. We were just outside of Killaloe (pronounced "kill-a-loo" by the locals) so we stopped in town at Freshmart because some people needed to resupply. I went in, and it smelled absolutely wonderful inside. Like a cinnamon bomb exploded inside a giant bakery. They didn't have any bathrooms that I could see, but I asked about fuel, and got directions to a few nearby stations. I was also directed to the information center just across the street for restrooms. We decided to opt out of getting fuel in Killaloe, and instead make way for Barry's Bay, which was less than 20 minutes away on pavement.
We pulled into a large Shell station and stopped in front of the "chip wagon". We think chip wagon is a rough Canadian equivalent of a food truck here in the states. But it seems like most of them serve fries, at least. Except fries are called chips. And they're usually served covered in gravy. You know, poutine. Anyway, we obviously had to try some poutine. We ordered a small classic, and then I asked, just out of curiosity "what's on the Scared Polish?" Bacon, onion, fried chicken. YES! We apologized, because she'd already written our order, but we had to change it. No problem. While Mandy waited for our order to be made, I pulled into an empty fuel pump and tried my best to get gas. The machine fought me, though. It was brutal. I slowly began to notice the sounds of frustration from others in the group, fighting the same battle. Finally, I overheard from Shaun that he just pumped first, and would figure out payment after. We're not used to having this option in the states, so what should have been the obvious solution, wasn't. But once I got that figured out I went inside to get my international credit card declined for who knows why. Mildly frustrated, but more so just confused, I used another card, and got out of there. Just in time for Mandy to show up with our poutine. As most of us were finishing up getting fuel and whatever else, Ryan came on CB, and told us to continue down the main road about a tenth of a mile, and take two consecutive rights. This would land us in a parking lot at a park by the beach, where we would relax a while.
We parked the truck and folded down the tailgate to have a makeshift table at which to stand and eat our poutine. It was very tasty. After we ate, we changed into swimsuits and made our way over to the small beach. I was determined to swim out to the floating dock. But not before we threw the frisbee around in the water. Eventually, Shayna, Rob, and Shaun made their way out to the floating dock. Shayna was first to arrive, and she refused to step on the dock, opting instead to jump back into the water from the ladder. Rob went next and stood on the dock, just at the top of the ladder. It was disgusting how much bird poop was on the dock, the smell was atrocious. Shaun said he would only stand on the dock if I did, so I stood there until he started making his way out toward the dock. So gross. Once he made it out, we both leapt off the dock and raced back to shore. I was hoping my shorts would dry off in time, but it wasn't happening, so I changed before our driver's meeting. Then we were all ready to head out at 1:40pm.
We cruised roads a while before we got back on dirt. The weather was perfect, and we were loving it. Although the warm, dry weather was causing the dirt roads to be rather dusty, and we were having flashbacks to the super dustbowl trip in Maine last year. Luckily, we had learned from that trip to keep extra distance between vehicles and to keep lights on for safety. We spaced out along the trail to minimize the truck's dust intake. We had windows up and air-conditioning on for comfort.
At 3:30, we arrived to Bonnechere Provincial Park River Loop Campground. Jenny had called months ago to make reservations for us. During the check in process, we learned a lot. Most importantly, the park staff are not the same people that accept the reservations. Whoever does accept reservations does not know the rules of the campground. This is a terrible design. Jenny explained that we had a large group of people, and several vehicles, and was assured this was not an issue. It was. According to the campground rules, each site may have only one vehicle and no more than six people on it at any time. And only three pieces of shelter equipment. Each additional vehicle cost $13.50 to get into the park. And no having any fun. Just kidding about that last rule, but the point is there's a lot of rules.
We were assigned to sites 109, 111, and 113. These are about a mile or so from the main gate, so we made our way through the park to our sites and began to setup camp. This night we opted for the tent, since there was plenty of smooth, level ground available. We also hung one of the hammocks for relaxing in, since we were so early to the campground. The nearby parking lots had about 6 spaces, and were all full, so we did not move the vehicles, but figured we would wait until spaces became available. We had some drinks and started making our way to the beach. Brendan was coming just behind us, he said. When we arrived at the beach, we realized we forgot the frisbee. DANGIT! We were a little put off when we saw two uniformed police officers strolling by on the beach, so we went back to the site to get the frisbee and see what everyone else was up to. We retrieved the frisbee and made our way back to the beach. When we got back to the beach, Brendan drove past us; he was heading back to the campsite. Unfortunately, he didn't see us. After we tired of playing on the beach, we went back to the site for some adult beverages. We saw Brendan driving again, through the trees, so we darted out of sight. It looked like he was headed back to the beach. Eventually he caught up to us, though, and we laughed at how terrible the timing had been for each beach trip.
We got back in time for dinner. This night was chicken and broccoli with rice from the J&S Grille. It was delicious, per usual. And afterward, the whole group broke the rules as we coalesced around the fire in site 111. Claude called out Jenny for a dance-off so we had some outstanding entertainment. Jenny got absolutely annihilated when Claude busted out some phenomenal break-dancing skills and secured first place for himself. Uniformed campground staff patrolled through the grounds and told us we had to move our vehicles off the sites. We had all been drinking, though, and the closest place there may have been parking available was at the main gate (which only had about 8 spots total), about a mile away on "provincial highways". So we passed on putting ourselves at risk for a DUI in a foreign country, and left the vehicles where they were.
We woke up around 6:30 and made our leisurely way to the free showers, once we figured out where they were located. Jenny followed us. She'd been walking for about 45 minutes previously with no luck in finding them. The showers ran on a mechanical spring-loaded timer/valve for about one minute per push of the button. I tried to stay ahead of it as we showered. The water was hot which was outstanding. Until it turned cold unexpectedly. We waited with it running for what felt like 10 minutes, and it never got warm again. Finally, I gave up waiting and finished rinsing in frigid waters.
When we got back to the site, we packed up our gear while Jenny and Shayna worked on pancakes, bacon, and a few remaining breakfast sandwiches for breakfast. We left the sites individually, as each vehicle was ready, and intended to meet outside the gate. I misunderstood and got onto the main road just outside the entrance, and pulled onto the shoulder. Realizing I'd overshot the meeting location, we circled back and joined the brief driver's meeting. Our goal was to make it to Ottawa by the afternoon, which gave us a lot of free time.
We hit the road and got to Timmy Ho-Hos in Pembroke for another coffee, and a pee break. We continued on, and at some point the road signs switched over to French, which added a level of complexity. Especially when the speed limit signs didn't include units. Along our way, we saw signs for "Chutes Coulange" and Bob asked if it might be a good time to stop, and check out the waterfalls. Everyone agreed, so we pulled in around 11:30. Everyone parked and stretched their legs while a couple people went into the park entrance to see what it was like inside. The report sounded very appealing to everyone, and the cost of entry was low enough, so we packed some snacks and water and headed in. We agreed to meet back at the vehicles no later than 2:00 to make it the rest of the way to Ottawa.
Chutes Coulange park was a really cool stop. We hadn't planned for it at all, but we got lucky and everyone had a good time. We learned quite a bit about the logging history in the local area, which was fascinating, and we got to walk around and check out some pretty impressive waterfalls. We did a ropes course and I injured myself on the tiniest zipline ever. Everyone organically gathered near the ropes course, and we tossed the frisbee around as we waited for stragglers. We ended up leaving earlier than anticipated, which is very rare, at about 1:40.
We got off the highway in Ottawa without a concrete plan. This was probably a terrible idea. We intended to get a last meal together. With 15 people in 7 vehicles. Thankfully we had functional CBs for communications, as it would have been impossible without. After circling a few blocks a few times, we found parking together in a public lot. We paid and set out on foot to a nearby restaurant. They couldn't seat all of us together. After striking out at about 5 restaurants that could not meet our group size and dietary requirements, we gave up and split. Looking ahead to the remaining hour drive to the final campsite, we wanted to get back on the road again as quickly as possible. Mandy and I grabbed a couple seats at the bar in Heart and Crown with Brendan and Andrew. We don't know where everyone else went. We ordered a Guinness and a Mill St. Cobblestone Stout. Rob ordered a bison burger and I ordered a chicken wrap. The burger was outstanding, and the beer was great. We chatted a bit with the bartender before we made our way back to the vehicles just in time for our planned departure of 6:30pm. We tried to stick together leaving the city, but we anticipated a struggle, so each rig had its GPS pointing towards the campsite address. We got split up by traffic and lights, but we reconvened with some of the vehicles on the highway. Then we found the rest of our people at the Oops! Express gas station. We fueled up and got some firewood then hit the road.
We arrived to Whispering Pines Campground in Curran at about 7:45pm. This was a rather unique private campground, but we liked it. The host showed us to our site, which was gigantic. We were allowed the entire beach, a grassy area, a huge fire pit, a stage, and all the area in between. We of course all set up our tents on the beach. As we were setting up, a few raindrops poked at us, so we opted to put our EZ-up canopy thing over our tent to keep it dry. The rain stopped and the skies looked clear so we built a fire and gathered around. Some time later, the rain picked up and came down much heavier, so we moved our chairs to the stage to get under some cover. Eventually we all started to drift off towards our tents to sleep. We went to bed in our dry but open tent around 11pm.
Rob's alarm went off at 5:00am in the truck. I got up to shut it off, and then laid back down. We got up together at about 6:00, and began packing up our gear. We woke up the Sweeneys, because we believed they had said they wanted to drive with us, and we were close to a point where we were ready to go. Bob said he wanted to leave no later than 7:30 because he had a hard deadline to meet. At about 7:45, we left the Sweeneys behind per their request, because they weren't quite ready to go.
We hit the first Timmy Ho-Hos we came to for breakfast sandwiches and coffees. Then we powered on to the US border, arriving at about 10:40am. As we were sitting in traffic at the border, we saw a familiar rooftop cargo box. I called out on CB that the Sweeneys were 6 cars ahead of us. A few minutes later, Shaun came on to say hi, and make fun of our obviously slower route. Pointing out that they had left after us and arrived before us. After one last bout of chatter while we waited, we made it through the border at 11:15. Everyone split up at this point to go at their own speeds, to their various destinations. We stuck with Andrew in his LJ all the way to Concord, NH, making just 2 brief stops, before we parted ways and made our way home alone. We arrived in Ipswich at 3:30pm to do one final unpacking of our gear to dry it out, and one final packing to put it all away.