What is it about Travelling that Sets my Soul on Fire?

I have a travel bug. I love to travel, and really, it does not matter where. Oh, I have travel destinations that are on my bucket list, but even going for a drive in the area I am in and just seeing where I end up is exciting for me. What is it about travelling that sets my soul on fire? Here are a few things I know are the cause of my travel itch.

The Ever-changing Landscape

Travelling in Newfoundland. The difference in landscape at Gros Morne National Park

Everywhere I go, sometimes it’s just a matter of a few miles, the landscape changes. Drive out of a city into the fields of food being grown. Soft wheat blowing in the wind or fields of tall corn that you could get easily lost in. It is amazing the different landscapes of food that are both beautiful and strong and touch your every sense. Fruit trees in blossom will give you an aroma that makes you stop and smile. Have you ever smelled grapes ripening on the vine? It is a unique and comforting aroma.

While driving the back roads of Ontario, I came across this beautiful yellow field. I had to stop and get a picture. It is a field of mustard plants. Great on hot dogs and beautiful to look at.

A field of mustard plants in Southern Ontario.

Next time you drive by a farmers field, stop and enjoy the beauty of the growth and think of the deliciousness of the result. It will make you smile.

Water and It’s Wonders

From the roar of Niagara Falls to the soft sound of a babbling brook, water has many different beautiful sights and sounds. How many people do you know, or do you love sitting by the ocean or large lake and listening to the waves roll in? The smell of the salt air while you watch the water wash the sand away at your feet. A beautiful sunrise or sunset over a quiet lake can give such a peaceful feeling.

Water that creates its own path with beautiful cascading waterfalls that bring the color of the rock to life as it smoothly makes its path is a natural beauty to behold. The mineral content of the rock makes the color, and the water shines it for all to see. Rainbow Falls in Northern Ontario is a great example of that. The cascading falls seem to glimmer with color in the sunlight. With the sight and the sound, you just have to smile.

A Life-Giving Force

Water is not only beautiful to look at and hear but a life-giving force that you just have to respect. The wildlife and plant life that lives around and within are both beautiful and unique to their area. Giving you a different experience with every water stop.

sunset on the river at Jackson Lake Island in Alabama

Driving through Alabama, I happened to come upon a place called Jackson Lake Island. Driving over the causeway, I entered a piece of paradise I yearn to go back to. I parked by the river and watched the sun go down and absolutely fell in love. The sounds of the water life and the colours coming off the water were magnificent. With benches at the parking spot, it was the perfect place for coffee and a relaxing moment I go back to often in my mind. There is also an amusing story with that island I will get to further in this blog.

The Flora and Fauna and the creatures that live among them

I am always amazed at the difference in the trees and shrubs as you move from landscape to landscape. Go north to Northern Ontario and be amazed at the beautiful maples and the mighty oak trees. Go south to Florida and shade yourself with a palm tree. When you go west to Arizona, you can be amazed by the cactus standing so solid in the desert lands. California will bring you redwood trees that seem to be able to touch the sky and are big enough that you can drive through.

There are some places like Newfoundland where within a few miles you are in a different landscape. From the trees of the Boreal Forest to the east to being able to touch the earth’s mantle at Gros Morne National Park in the west. In Gros Morne, you can see a line where the mantle, which is barren, stops. Then, the earth covers the ground, and the creation of life begins. It is amazing!

I am very much a nature lover. There is nothing more spirit-lifting for me than sitting against an old tree or walking through an old forest and breathing in that natural energy that nature provides us with.

The Creatures and Animals

A moose in Newfoundland

Do you not love cute little creatures like chipmunks and birds? Sitting at a campsite or off-grid camping, a little Chipmunk comes to say hello, or a bunny hops on by. I love to watch the birds and hear their songs as they go about their day. Birds and animals are another experience that is different as you travel. I have seen bears and wolves in the deep forest and pelicans and storks near the waters. Had coffee with a moose in Newfoundland and fed a peacock named Peanut in Georgia. Have you ever heard the sound of a Sandhill Crane? They sound like pterodactyls have invaded. It is a wild sound.

There are times when there are animals you would not expect to see where you are. There are monkeys, I am told, in Ocala National Forest in Florida. In the 1960s, a man released them on an island, thinking they could not swim. They swam and disappeared into the forest. He did not know what happened to the monkeys, so he did it again. Again, they swam to the forest. It is now thought their numbers to be in the hundreds. I have been to Ocala National Forest three times and have yet to find a monkey, but I will keep looking.

It is important to remember that wild animals are wild. Respect their space, and I always remember that I am the visitor. Coffee cheers with a moose is done at a distance! Lol.

The Cultures and the People

Sharing some music at a Sunset festival on Sunset Beach.

Everywhere you go, the people and culture change. There is nothing better than stopping in a small cafe or restaurant and watching the locals interact. Since I usually travel alone, there have been a few times that the restaurant has been full, and I am invited to sit with someone I don’t know or asked if I would share the table I have. That is a yes every time. I have met some wonderful people this way and learned a lot about the area and the people that live within it.

The different cultures as you go from place to place are so interesting. Visiting the Mennonite communities in Pennsylvania will give you such a sense of community and working together. I have visited many Mennonite communities in a few different places and am always amazed at how rustic they live and thrive in this modern world.

Newfoundland is friendly everywhere. People honked at you to say hello, not tell you to get out of the way. People smiled and had an infectious laugh that would get you laughing. In Elliston, you will find the most root cellars in the world. Families working together and building and sharing them to keep their goods cold. Working together to form a warm and wonderful community that just keeps you wanting to go back for more.

I so enjoy the different accents as you go from place to place. From that New England drawl and Newfoundland has their own English in the east to Alabama and Tennessee in the south, the talk of the land is wonderful to listen to. I went on a tour at the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg and found myself just listening to my tour guide Jacob talk but not hearing what he said. LOL.

I have met some wonderful people while travelling. Some have become very good friends , and every time I am in the area, I have to stop by.

The Adventure

I travel not only for the beauty of the landscapes and the people and diverse cultures but also because I have had some fun and exciting adventures. The wrong turns and the right ones are filled with adventure every time.

Florida and the Drunk Pelican

When I went to Florida, everyone told me to watch out for the alligators, but no one said anything about the birds.

I was driving in Florida on a foggy morning and noticed something was in my lane coming towards me. I could just barely make out that it was not a car or a truck. As it got closer, I realized it was a pelican coming in for a landing!! He looked like he had been drinking as he flopped and sort of flew towards me. Luckily he went right and I went left and he missed me. I had to pull off at the next available spot, and both let my heart return to normal and laugh so hard my stomach hurt. How would I explain to people that I was hit by what looked like a drunk pelican?

Alabama and my Unlikely Neighbours

Alabama always gives me a funny story each time I go there.

Jackson Lake Island is not only beautiful and has the abandoned movie set of Tim Burton’s “The Big Fish,” which is cool all on its own. It also has a few unusual inhabitants that I did not know about right away. I had pulled onto the island when it was just getting dark. I enjoyed a peaceful moment watching the sun set and then came into my van, locked the doors, and was ready for a peaceful night.

While making a cup of tea and getting ready to curl up on my couch to watch a movie, I heard a noise, and then the van rocked. It was just a little, but it rocked. What was that??? I moved my curtains to look out, but it was very dark and I could not see a thing. Then it happened again. I called my girlfriend Kim because I love to freak her out. She told me not to get out of the van. I was not. I have no idea what kind of animals are free to roam in Alabama. Then all was quiet.

I had a wonderful nights sleep and awoke in the morning, ready to explore the island. Before I opened my curtains, there was the noise, and the van rocked again. I pulled back the curtains, and there were all kinds of little goats!! When I opened my door, there was a goat scratching his butt on the bumper of the van. Hahaha! With every scratch, there was that noise, and the van rocked a little. The mystery was solved.

When Breakfast turns to Giggles

When a souvenir from one town gives you a whole lot of giggles in another, it becomes a moment to remember. I have a confession to make, I love the Waffle House in the US. I do not think I have ever walked out after a great meal and not had a giggle or two. Everywhere, they are boisterous and welcoming.

A Breakfast to Remember

I was in Alabama and had stopped for breakfast. It was a chilly morning and I was wearing a light jacket that I had got in Newfoundland. One of the places I and my girlfriend Kim visited while in Newfoundland was Dildo. Yes, that’s the name, and yes, we went just to see what a town called Dildo looked like. It was a great town and has a wonderful craft brewing place with a restaurant and gift shop.

As the waitress was serving people, I noticed that as she walked by, she kept looking at my chest area. She did this about three times. I started to think I spilled something on myself. I looked down to make sure I had not and looked at her. At that moment, she belted out, in that deep Alabama accent, “Does that say dildo,” as she pointed to my jacket? The guy behind me almost spit out his coffee as he began to laugh.

Now, all eyes in the restaurant were on me. I laughed as I realized what jacket I had on, and said yes, it does. She asked why I had a jacket with the word dildo on it. Now the whole restaurant is laughing. I pulled the flap of the jack back and showed her the emblem explaining that it was from a town in Newfoundland, Canada, by the name of Dildo. I also added that yes it was a fun place, which set out a whole new moment of laughter.

As the man behind me left, patted my shoulder and thanked me for the most entertaining breakfast he ever had. When I went to pay my bill, he had paid for it. I still giggle when I think of that breakfast. I am sure a few people do.

A Feeling of Magic

Sometimes, it is not what happens or what I see or hear but what I feel. Salem Massachusetts is a place I have been to and will go again. I love the feel of walking down the cobblestone streets. Sitting on the park benches that sit in the pathways connecting the streets or at the common. Browsing the shops and stopping to remember a great witch, Samantha and all of those who live and lived in Salem. Maybe there is magic there. I am not sure, but I know when I am there, my spirit is lighter, and the warmth of the town seems to hold me in a comforting embrace.

There are so many reasons why I love to travel. The sights, sounds, and feelings that come with it match nothing I have ever experienced. I can not help but want more. I have not been everywhere yet, but it is on my list.

What is your favorite travel memory? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks for coming along on my Chipmunk Adventures.

Safe and Happy travels!


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Motivation! What it is and Where to Find it

When people ask, where do you get your motivation from? What do you tell them?

Motivation, I believe, comes from many places and is dependent on what you are doing. What motivates you in the morning may not be the same things that motivate you in the afternoon. What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning? For me, it is usually the need for a bathroom and a coffee. Maybe it’s the first day of a road trip, maybe it’s a Monday morning work day, or maybe it’s just because the sun came up.  Motivation to accomplish even the simplest of tasks comes in many forms. Identifying what they are and how they change can let you take advantage of those moments to propell you forward.

What is Motivation

According to Oxford Languge Dictionary the definition of motivation is

     “The reason or reasons one has for acting                or behaving in a particular way.”

the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.”

When we talk of motivation, we tend to think of the positive motivators, but there are also negative motivators. There are things that motivate you to be angry or sad as well as happy and glad. Maybe you have seen something on TV or had a bad experience while you are out, that has motivated you to be angry or sad. When the definition refers to the motivating force being the reason for a behavior, it is not only an action but also an emotion.

Life in general has its ups and downs of motivators. A friend or family member passes away, and that motivates a string of emotions and actions. A wedding or birthday party will also motivate a different string of emotions. The motivation in life is ever changing.

Motivation creates a desire for you to do a specific action, as in my desire to get out of bed, use the bathroom, and make coffee. My motivation is the coffee. The actions were to get me there. Coffee is usually my motivation for a lot of things. Lol.

Sometimes, the motivation is to create an end result, such as creating a successful, meaningful blog. In that, the motivation becomes the force to get you to that goal. The motivation to create an action can also be done in steps. Each step leads you to another goal.

Motivation Comes in Many Forms and is Ever Changing

When people ask me where my motivation comes from, it is a hard question to answer. It comes in many forms and in many different ways. Finding my motivation is sometimes a little elusive. Those days when the couch, a good movie, and bowl of popcorn are the events of the day, we say, “we have no motivation to do anything.” Is that true, though? We are motivated to have a couch day by maybe having a busy week, or it’s a rainy day. There is always motivation in the action.

A beautiful fall day may motivate you to take a walk in the woods. To feel the crispy leaves crunch under your feet as you enjoy the cool breeze of fall. A hot day may motivate you to go for a swim or find a shade tree to sit under.

Motivation is ever changing and abundant. When we discover what motivates us to do specific actions, we can focus on the motivators that propell us forward.

Choosing Your Motivator

Choosing what motivates us will move us into a desired direction. Many things happen in a day. Just think about all the forces that motivate your actions from your first cup of coffee to the time you should go to bed. There are a million of them. It is your choice which motivators you will use and for how long.

Something makes you angry at the beginning of the day. How long will you let that motivator make you angry?

A great example of that is my friend Dale. He has since passed away, but I think of him often and miss his antics and his friendship very much. Dale would always go to a local coffee shop for coffee in the morning. Having a not great experience with the server one morning, he was angry. When I spoke to him at 5 pm that evening, he was still angry. How long did that interaction take? Maybe 1 -2 minutes at the very most? It was now over 8 hours later, and that motivation to be angry was still there. Let it go, my friend, let it go!

Hanging on to a negative motivator can be destructive. Frankly, it can wreck a perfectly good day. When I asked what else happened that day, he told me he had talked to his daughter and had a wonderful conversation. Now that’s a motivator you should hang on to.

You see, it is your choice of what motivates you through your day. There are many positive motivators that happen throughout the day. Pick one, then another, and see where that takes you.

The People Around You

People are motivated by people and their actions with their own motivators. It is a continuous circle. Think about all the people in your life. Family, friends, coworkers, and even the person who serves you coffee at the coffee shop all motivate us in some way or another. The people you choose to influence your motivation can be monumental in your desired path.

What do I mean by that? Look around at the people around you. There are people who can find a cloud on a sunny day and people who can find the sun on a cloudy day. Which people do you want as an influence to motivate your day?

We are not always in control of who we interact with in a day. Maybe you have to work with that coworker or deal with a family member who is having a negative influence on your motivation. Maybe it is one of those days where you need to reach out and phone a friend to get some positive motivation. Sometimes, it seems the negative influence is everywhere, but when we really look, there is an equal amount of positive influence. You just have to choose which motivator you will hang on to.

Motivating you towards your Goal

We have now discovered that we have a choice of motivators. How do we use those choices to get us to a certain goal? Is the goal an actual motivator? My goal is for my blog through my writing is to help and positively motivate people to achieve their own desires. Finding the motivation to get it there comes from many places. Each time I write a blog and someone likes or comments  on my blog, it is a motivator for me to continue. Each time, someone tips me a coffee or buys my book because, in some way, my words have touched them positively, let’s me know I am going in the right direction.

There are times when life will give you a motivator, and there are times when you need to reach out for one. Always keeping your goal in mind, you can choose which ones will get you closer to your goal. An opportunity comes along where a person or event gives you a motivating spirit that moves you closer to your goal. An example would be me meeting Daphne and her Free At 50 blog. She, along with her 3, 2, 1 Action course, has given me both motivation and guidance in reaching my goal.

There are times when reaching out for positive motivators is a must. Sometimes, you become stuck. I know I have experienced that. Where you either have too many directions you are going or not enough. There are many ways to find that positive motivation. A friend or family member who makes you laugh or can guide you to the motivation you need to get to where you want to be. You can consider taking a course or hiring a life coach (I am a certified Life Coach). There are so many ways to find that positive motivation you need to get where you want to be. Just reach out and grab them!

What is your favorite motivator? Mine is coffee! Lol. Let me know in the comments.

Feel free to reach out to me on any of my social platforms or here in the comments and let me know how I motivate you! I would love to hear it.

If you need a little motivation, feel free to reach out on any of my social media accounts or right here at my blog. I would love to help.

Thanks for coming along on my Chipmunk Adventure. See you next time.

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How a Life Changing Decision Led Me To My Dream and a Chipmunks RV Life

Come along as I share how life changing moments can bring you to something completely unexpected and closer to your dream.

My blog Chipmunks RV Life started as a journal and a way for me to share my adventures of living, working, and travelling in my Class B RV. Writing has always been a passion for me, and sharing my experiences through writing was a wonderful pastime.

I started to hear from my friends and family, who follow me, that I was an inspiration for them. I never felt that way. It was just my adventure. I started to realize through my blog that I can help, guide, and inspire people to step outside their comfort zone and take a chance at adventure. To say, “Yes, I Can.”

I keep my blog real. A single woman living life on the road. I share the good, the bad, and the ugly. The reality of breakdowns and the beauty of “Instagram” moments. Items and products that I use to make my life a little easier. Camping tips, as well as things like boondocking and money-saving travel tips.

How Did I Get Here

How did it all start? Did I ever think at 60 years old, I would be living in a van down by the river and sharing those experiences through my love of writing? If anyone had asked me ten years ago, where would I be? Not in a million years would I have said, “Living in a van down by the river.” But here I am. Come along as I tell my story of the creation of Chipmunks RV Life.

Life began for me with loving parents who instilled values and a sense of responsibility. They taught me that with hard work and determination, anything was possible. That there will be ups and downs, and to remember what goes down always comes up. You just have to believe and look for the path that will lead you where you want to go.

Life was pretty “normal.” At the age of 50, I had a house, a husband of 30 years, and two beautiful grown girls. A wonderful grandson (that has now blossomed into four grandsons) to spoil and a great job I enjoyed. I had no idea that year would bring monumental change.

At 50 years old, my life dramatically changed. A divorce would bring a shift in my life and transform my way of thinking of “normal.” For the first time in 30 years, I was no longer a wife. My children were grown and on their own. I was walking a path I had never walked before. It was scary and exciting all at the same time.

I bought a beautiful little house on a one-acre lot that I just loved. Travelling for a living made it increasingly difficult to maintain, and increasing costs for a house I was not at for sometimes weeks at a time was just not making any sense. I had to open my mind to a different way of living.

Opening my Mind to New Possibilities

I own and travel in a custom van. I have travelled to many places for van shows across North America for over 30 years. Living out of a van was not unknown to me, but only for weekends or maybe a week at a time. I knew I could not live in my custom van, but I could do it in a Class B RV. That thought came to fruition in 2017. I sold my house and bought a 2002 Chevy Roadtrek 190P. I was 53 years old.

I am not going to tell you it was easy because it was not. Downsizing to vansize was just downright painful. What to keep? What will fit? What to do with all the stuff? Knowing that I had a deadline and determined not to have a storage unit, I learned how to minimize it. I was amazed at how refreshing it felt when all of the clutter was gone. I now share that knowledge with my Unclutter Your Life Service. Helping others unclutter the space around them. Clearing the space around you helps clear the space within you.

My friends and family were very supportive of my decision. They wanted to hear all about where I was going and the adventure that takes me there. I wanted to share with them the tricks and trips of living an RV life. Chipmunks RV Life was born.

My Love of Writing

Writing has always been a passion. As a child, I would write stories and keep journals. As the years went by, writing became less and less of a priority. Working and raising a family, along with all the responsibilities of life, there just did not seem to be any time to do that. Still, as I read books, I dreamed of my name being in the author’s place. I never lost that dream.

The year 2020 would be a life changing year for many of us. With the chaos that ensued, the stagnation of my lifestyle and the responsibilities I had in my corporate life, my mind did not handle it all well. In June of 2020, I had my first panic attack. I do not wish that on anyone! I thought I was having a heart attack. My brain was foggy, and I seemed to not be able to keep focus on anything. It was scary. The corporation I worked for did not seem to care. Getting medical help was out of reach for at least a month. I needed to breathe.

I drove out to the woods of Northern Ontario. I needed Mother Nature’s energy to help me heal. Sitting in the woods, I pulled out my pen and put it to paper. I wrote about all the frustrations, the fears, and the blessings of my life. As I sat, I looked at my RV. My rolling home nestled under the old Maple tree. I knew where I belonged. My thoughts returned to a book I had started two years before. It was time to finish it.

Another Life Changing Decision

After a battle with the corporation for the time I needed to heal, I decided that in August 2020, it was time to retire. I was tired. Back to Northern Ontario to finish my book, was the first thing on the agenda.

From Housewife to Vanlife is my journey of moving from a sticks and bricks home to a mobile one. All of the ups and downs, doubts, and accomplishments that came with a complete lifestyle change. It was therapeutic and empowering as I wrote it. I hope you find some of that in there when you read it.

Retirement brought me a whole new meaning of freedom. No timelines meant I could stop as many times along the way as I wanted. I decided my first trip would be to stop at all the places in Northern Ontario I had to pass by when travelling for work. Since then, I have travelled to a couple of my bucket list items such as Labrador and Newfoundland, but there are many still on the list.

Let me know in the comments what your bucket list items are. I would love to see them.

A Change in Careers

In my lifetime, I have done many things. As a teenager, I lived in farm country. Picking fruit and throwing hay after school was a great way to make money. As I grew up, I tried many different things. I worked in autobody shops and auto mechanics shops, as well as delivery services. I also did some office work and retail. When I became a Mom, my job had to work around my children’s schedules. For the last 20 years of my working career, I worked as a logistic specialist and efficiency manager for a large corporation.

It will take the skills I have learned from my many occupations as well as a steep learning curve to move to my next career as a writer. When I published my book From Housewife to Vanlife, I did it by self-publishing on Amazon. Let’s talk about an outside my realm learning curve. I did not know anything about publishing, never mind publishing my own book. After many hours of reading instructions and watching YouTube videos, my dream came to life. My name was now in the author’s spot. Whether I sold 5 or 500 (I have sold over 500), it did not matter. That moment when I held my book in my hand will forever be a light on my soul.

I was now a published author. I am now moving that career forward and learning the art of professional blogging. It is a steep learning curve with many facets. SEO, marketing, affiliate marketing, and learning proper writing techniques to convey my messages clearly and maximize my reach. With the help and guidance of other bloggers, as well as instructional material, both written and video, I am beginning to understand.

I now have a wonderful coach, Daphne Reznik, who publishes a Free At 50 Blog. She has a 3, 2, 1 Action plan course I am taking to help me focus and give me direction in this next phase of my career of being a digital nomad.

What I want to give you with Chipmunks RV Life

With my blog Chipmunks RV Life, I want to inspire others to reach that moment, that light. My wish is to positively touch as many lives as I can. To let everyone know, “Yes, You Can.” Whether you are solo, like me, or travelling life with a partner, your dream is at your fingertips.

To share my experiences of my RV Lifestyle, both good and bad, to aid in successful adventures for those who travel for life and pleasure. Camping tips and tricks and how I do everyday things, like making coffee (everyone who knows me or follows me on social media knows coffee is the most important meal of the day) while living in my RV. Sharing safety and travel tips as well as cost-saving measures to keep everyone travelling down the road.

Creating guides and sharing my travel experiences to give everyone an exciting trip to somewhere. People say they love travelling with me through my blog. I invite everyone to come along on my Chipmunk Adventures. It is more fun with friends.

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Happy Adventures to all! See you down the road for another exciting Chipmunk Adventure.


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Experience These Amazing Ontario Fall Destinations

A line of colourful trees at an Ontario Fall destinations

October is here, and the sights, sounds and smell of fall is in the air. Trees begin to change colour, the morning dew lays thick on the grass, and the air becomes clearer with the fall winds. From the smell of ripening grapes on the vine in Southern Ontario to the beauty of the changing forests in the north, Ontario has many fabulous ways to enjoy fall at its finest. Take your fall adventures to Ontario with these Ontario Fall Destinations.

Visit an Ontario Provincial Park

Cheering the fall weather with my coffee mug at a provincial park.

Many of Ontario’s Provincial Parks are still open for all to enjoy. Mid-October or near Thanksgiving is usually the closing date for Ontario parks. The farther north you go, the earlier the closing date. There are a total of 14 Ontario Parks that provide all-year-round camping.

Algonquin Park is a vast area that provides both back-country camping and tent and trailer camping. Algonquin Park covers over 7500 square kilometres of wilderness in the central north of Ontario. Allowing you to enjoy each step of the fall arrival. Feel the crispness of the fallen leaves under your feet as you walk the trails and the cool breeze of a lake as the sun sets. Visit the Algonquin Logging Museum or take a walk along the Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail. There are many things to see and do in this dynamic park.

Check the dates of an Ontario Provincial Park near you for one of your Ontario Fall destinations.

Bird Migrations

The Canada Goose statue in Wawa Ontario

While enjoying the vibrant colours that fall brings to our provincial parks, look up and witness an amazing phenomenon. Migrating birds will be making their pilgrimage south for the winter. Hundreds of species will pass through Ontario and stop for a rest before continuing on their journey. Check out the list of provincial parks where bird migrations are best witnessed. 

As Halloween gets closer, many parks will have Halloween-planned activities that are fun for the whole family. Pick a date and register for a fun-filled weekend at Ontario Parks. Not sure how to register? Follow the directions on my Reserve, Camp, and Enjoy Ontario Parks blog.

Celebrate the Fall Harvest

Picture of fruits such as grapes apples corn and squash. Flowers sit in a mug beside it.

*image by Jill Wellington (Pixabay)

September and October is harvest season in Ontario. With that comes the celebration that harvests bring. Sweet corn, fresh apples and grapes are plentiful at this time of year, and so are the celebrations. Attend a fall fair or go apple picking. Visit a pumpkin patch or enjoy a wine festival. There is plenty to celebrate in the fall in Ontario.

Fruit of Every Colour

With apples ripening on the trees and grapes ripening on the vine, picking your own fruit can be fun for the whole family. You can find apple and grape farms throughout Ontario that allow you to get back to nature and pick your own. Of course, you can get a delicious apple pie or a bright fresh red apple any time of year at The Big Apple in Cobourg. Visiting a pumpkin patch to find that perfect pumpkin is always a fun day out. Looking for something a little different? Cranberries also harvest from late September to late October. Take a drive to Muskoka to the Cranberry Harvest (Sept 23-Oct 22) for a unique harvest experience.

Festivals and Harvest Celebrations

Fall festivals and craft shows go together. Eating an apple pie as you stroll the walkways of stalls perusing interesting crafts people have created. Watching the leaves gently fall on a beautiful sunny fall day is the perfect way to celebrate the harvest. Be sure to check in your area to find a wonderful Fall Harvest Celebration. Ontariofairs.com has an extensive list to choose from.

See the Salmon Run

Salmon jumping up a  waterfall.

Salmon are migrating fish that, in the fall, go back to the same place they were born to lay their eggs. Their journey is a perilous one. Swimming against the current, jumping up waterfalls, all to get back to the place where they started.

It is an interesting phenomenon to watch. Hundreds of salmon move through the water on a determined course. The salmon move from Lake Ontario through Port Hope in the Ganaraska River. Some of the best places to see this event are Charles Sauriol Conservation Area, Etienne Brule Park, and the Humber River. Be sure to check out where you can see the fish migration here on Port Hope’s Tourism website.

Celebrate Octoberfest

People celebrating Octoberfest

You can not talk about October in Ontario without mentioning Octoberfest. The largest Bavarian festival in Canada is held in Kitchener-Waterloo. There are a series of events that take place from September 22 – October 14, 2023, to “Be Bavarian” and celebrate with good beer and good friends.

Kitchener also has a wonderful Thanksgiving Day Parade for all to enjoy. Enjoy bands, floats, and all the fun things only a parade has to offer.

Put on your dirndl or lederhosen and grab your grey Trilby hat, and get ready to polka.

Get into the Halloween Spirit for Your Ontario Fall Destinations.

With October comes Halloween. In Ontario, you do not have to wait until October 31st to get your ghool on. Get into the Halloween Spirit with many events across Ontario. Go for a ghost walk, take a haunted hayride, and take in the sights and creativity of a lighted pumpkin display. There are spooky happenings everywhere in Ontario in the month of October.

Ghost Walks

Many towns and cities with history have Ghost Walks. Walk with a guide and hear the tails of ghostly images that have been seen and heard along the tour route. Listen to the stories of how and why they still walk the streets after their demise. It is a fun and spooky way to learn a little history!

Some Ghost Walks you may enjoy

Visit a Lighted Pumpkin Display

When a pumpkin becomes art, spectacular happens. Jack-o-lanterns with their grimacing faces dot the porches with their invitation to trick or treat. Hand carving pumpkin sculptures is a rising and beautiful art form. Lighted pumpkin displays are coming to Ontario in full Halloween fashion .

Some Lighted Displays you may enjoy

Experience a Haunted Attraction

Halloween is all about witches, ghosts, and goblins. All the things that make you jump. Experience the many haunted attractions throughout Ontario. Be ready to be frightened by ghoulish or startled by a wicked looking clown as you walk the hallways and  ride a haunted hayride. Get lost in a corn maze and meet the monsters of Halloween in Ontario’s Haunted Attractions.

Some Haunted Attractions you may enjoy

Ontario is rich with adventure at any time of year. The fall season adds an array of beautiful colors and some unique experiences that will create warm and sometimes scary memories. 

Do you have a few favourite Ontario Fall Destinations? Leave them in the comments for all of us to enjoy.

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I would like to wish all my readers a Happy Canadian Thanksgiving! I am thankful for you all that come along and enjoy my Chipmunk Adventures with me!

Old Fort Western: Where History Comes to Life

Main garrison building at Fort Western
Old Fort Western

I came across Fort Western in Augusta, Maine, quite by accident. As I was driving through Augusta, on my Maine road trip, I noticed a sign for Fort Western. Following that sign, I had no idea what a unique piece of history I had found. Come along on a tour of Fort Western with me and discover a building with a diverse and interesting history.

A Welcome Greeting at Fort Western

A picture of my tour guide Dorothy in period costume
My tour guide, Dorothy

Walking in through the large wooden gates, you already get a feel for the history that is about to unfold. A wooden gatehouse just inside those foreboding large wooden walls would open up to a world of history. A wonderful greeting at the gate by Dorothy, who would be my tour guide. This lovely young woman would tell the tales of the past and bring them to life.

Cushnoc Trading Post (1628-1654)

The beginning of the story of Old Fort Western did not start with Fort Western but with the area, it was in. In the earlier 1600s, the area known as “Cushnoc.” became a vital trade location for the people in the area. The fur trade in 1628 was booming, and “Cushnoc” became a major junction for trading with the establishment of the Cushnoc Trading Post. By 1654, the fur trade was on the decline, and the trading post closed. The remnants of the trading post were reportedly burned in 1676, but that would not be the end but just the beginning of this story.

Fort Western (1754 – 1767)

main garrison building at Fort Western
The main garrison of Fort Western

The large wooden building standing staunchly in the fort is the original structure from 1754. That in itself is a cause for celebration. The reason a fort was built in Cushnoc (Augusta) is an amazing tale of ingenuity and fortitude.

The area along the Kennebec River was a very unsettled area after the close of the trading post. War and fighting for the rights of land were abundant in the early 1700s. Threats of a French and Indian invasion down the river into the already settled English colonies swirled. The province of Massachusetts decided to build a fort (Fort Halifax) of defense at Teconnet Falls (Winslow, Maine), upriver from the main colonies.

A Strategic Location with One Flaw

Supplies could not be brought to Fort Halifax by way of the Kennebec River as it became shallow after Cushnoc (Augusta). The large supply ships could not traverse the shallow water, and the forests and terrain were too thick and dangerous to walk through. Another fort had to be built as a supply warehouse.

That fort was Fort Western. Large supply ships would drop off goods for shipment to Fort Halifax. As the water levels rose on the Kennebec River, flat-bottomed boats would carry the goods to the soldiers upriver to the fort. This was not an easy task. Watching along the shore for enemy attacks as they floated upriver, some spots in the river were too shallow for even the flat-bottomed boats. The crew would then have to portage the boat and supplies to the next section of the river. 

The Buildings Within Fort Western

The main garrison built on the side of the Kennebec River was used for storage of incoming supplies and barracks for the 23 men stationed there. The garrison is the ‘oldest surviving wooden military structure’ in the United States. Although Fort Western would not see any action, they were prepared. On the river side of the building, cannons were set and ready to go to defend the fort.

Cannons in the room of the main garrison

In other parts of the garrison, there are rooms for storage, sleeping bunks, and living spaces. The wooden construction of the rooms and the remnants of what was left behind brought you back in time. A beautiful display of the tools and items used for everyday life can be found throughout the garrison.

Inside the garrison

On the grounds of the fort is a remake of the powder magazine built into the ground to keep any explosion limited in case of any accidents. The powder kegs would be stored here, awaiting shipment to Fort Halifax.

Powder magazine

Throughout the grounds of the fort, you can see a display of some of the items they would use at Fort Western. A stockade for those who did not follow the line, a bucket well system used for cooking and drinking. A practice wall for firing muskets to make sure their aim was correct.

The threat of war by 1759 had greatly reduced. The English had captured Quebec, and the risk had moved significantly north. Fort Western was decommissioned in 1767. Another end to start a new beginning.

Fort Western had a famous touch as well. Benedict Arnold, along with 1,100 soldiers, would stop at Old Fort Western in 1775 on his “March to Quebec.”

S & W Howard Store (1767 – 1807)

S &W Howard Store

The colonization of the area greatly increased with the creation of Fort Western. Samuel Howard was a sea captain who worked out of Boston. He saw the potential and need for a store for the colonists to get supplies. In 1767, he purchased the fort for $500. Along with his brother William, they created S & W Howard Store. Samuel would purchase and ship the goods from Boston, and William would run the store. The store would operate for forty years until the Embargo of 1807 (an act that prevented trade with the British) would put them out of business.

Howard Family Home

Rooms in the Howard Family home

William would live with his family on one side of the garrison building and operate the store on the other side. A blacksmith shop would be added to complete the supply of goods needed to live at that time.

It was interesting to see all the items they would have used back then. The spinning wheel was used to create cloth, the “coffee box” that ground the coffee beans to powder, and the washboard that would have been used to clean clothes.

Items for living in the 1700s

Although the store closed in 1807, the Howard Family would continue to make the garrison their home until the 1850s.

Tenement House (1850 – 1920)

The mid-1800s brought vitality and industry to the area. The Howard family descendants would move out of the garrison, and the building became a tenement house for the town’s mill workers. The building was broken up into eight apartments to house the workers of Augusta.

Fort Western Becomes a Museum (1922 – Present)

In 1919, the tenement house was acquired by the city and returned to the Howard family descendants. William H. Gannett and Guy P. Gannett worked to restore the building to its former glory. While restoring the main garrison, they also built two buildings that are designed to represent the blockhouses that are still at Fort Halifax. In 1922 the Gannett’s gave the buildings and land to the city of Augusta. It has flourished as a museum ever since.

The preservation of the history and the interesting diversity of the buildings is wonderfully presented at Fort Western. I would like to thank my wonderful tour guide, Dorothy, for bringing this magnificent history to life with her stories of life in the past.

I encourage everyone to make Fort Western a travel destination when in Augusta Maine.

Thanks for coming along on my Chipmunk Adventure. See you next week.


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Salem Massachusetts: A Witchy Adventure Awaits You

The cobblestone streets of Salem Massachusetts
Cobblestone walkways in Salem

The state of Massachusetts holds many gems and is one of my favorite places to visit. Salem Massachusetts, holds a special place in my heart for me. There is something magical about this town that keeps me coming back. Whether you find it on the cobblestone streets or in the quaint shops that line them, magic is everywhere. Salem, Massachusetts, is known for the witch trials of 1692, a historic town with a dark past and a waterfront with an important history. Come along and travel to Salem with me. We will have a witchy good time.

Salem Historic Waterfront

Lighthouse on Salem's waterfront
Lighthouse on Salem Waterfront

Salem’s waterfront played an important part in the American Revolution, as well as becoming a large trading seaport.

The American Revolution (1775 – 1783) found Salem an excellent seaport for procuring “privateers.” Hundreds of merchant ships and their crews commissioned by the government to defend the colonies from the British navy and troops.

By 1790, Salem Harbor was the sixth-largest seaport in the United States. An industry built by trading and receiving goods from the Far East and distributed among the colonies.

Discover all the history of the harbor at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site. Walk back in time on nine miles of waterfront land and visit historic buildings while taking in the beautiful views of Derby Warf.

A replica of the cargo ship Friendship in Salem Harbor
The replica ship Friendship

Today, Salem Harbor is a vibrant community for both commercial industry and tourists. Along with miles of sandy beach, visitors can find many places to visit on the waterfront. A replica cargo ship “Friendship” sits quietly on the dock, while just down the shore, you can explore the 17th-century mansion The House of Seven Gables.

Stop and enjoy some coffee and sweets or a glass of wine at Joho Coffee Roaster and Wine Bar while you stroll the waterfront. Looking for some great seafood? Finz Salem offers a great dining experience with an incredible ocean view. When you are visiting Salem, make time for the waterfront. You will be glad you did.

Salem Witch Trials

The city of Salem, Massachusetts, is best known for the witch trials that took place in 1692 – 1693. A time of turmoil and unrest with over 200 people accused of witchcraft. Trials were held, of those 200 people, thirty would be found guilty.

As you walk the streets of Salem, you almost feel the presence of the turmoil. Sitting on the benches of the cobblestone, tree lined streets, you can imagine the fear that was in the air. Around you, the restoration and preservation of the past help bring that past to life.

A message carved in the stone at the Witches Memorial in Salem
Carved in stone

The words “Lord Help Me, I am Wholly Innocent” are carved in stone at the Salem Witch Trials Memorial. Take a walk in the graveyard where the judges and dignitaries are laid to rest. Are they resting? There have been ghost sightings in that graveyard. Take a ghost tour of the second-oldest cemetery in the country and see for yourself. The history of this tragic time is all around you.

The Salem Witch Museum

The Salem Witch Museum at night
Salem Witch Museum

Learn the details and the participants of the Salem Witch Trials at the Salem Witch Museum. Step back to 17th-century Salem in the main auditorium, where you find a life-sized recreation of the chambers where the trials took place. Listen as the narrator tells the stories of the accused and their tormentors.

The museum also houses another exhibit called “Witches: Evolving Perceptions. The exhibit takes you through the perception and persecutions of witches through the ages.

An interesting and intuitive way to display the story of the witches of Salem. The Salem Witch Museum should be on every Salem travel itinerary.

The Witch House

The original home of JUdge Jonathon Corwin of the Salem witch trials
The Witch House

The only original structure from the witch trials is The Witch House. Open as a museum in 1948, the house belonged to Judge Jonathon Corwin. Although the records are intermittent in his involvement, we know he signed arrest warrants for those accused of witchcraft. Interestingly, his mother-in-law was accused but never convicted. The woman who accused her later confessed to witchcraft and was arrested and jailed.

The beauty of the 17th century New England architecture and the intriguing story will have you coming back for more.

Salem Massachusetts and the Entertainment Industry

Elizabeth Mo
Bewitched Statue


My favorite show growing up was Bewitched. Following Samantha’s antics and watching her wiggle her nose to get in and out of trouble. With mortel husband Darrin and her mother, Endora, at constant odds over her practice of witchcraft, it is a fun filled series. Filmed in Hollywood on a screen set for most of the episodes, a fire on the set would bring Samantha and her crew to Salem Massachusetts. A total of eight episodes in 1970 were filmed in the witchy city. A statue of Samantha sits in the plaza at the end of the Essex Street Pedestrian Mall. A beautiful tribute to a fun and magical show.

Hocus Pocus

Everyone’s favorite Halloween movie, or at least mine, is Hocus Pocus. A story of the evil Sanderson sisters brought back to life by a teenage boy (Max) and his fearless little sister (Dani). The Sanderson sisters played by Bette Middler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Nijimy in the original movie flew on brooms and vacuum cleaners over Salem casting their nasty spell while the kids fought to put them back with a little help from their friends and a black cat named Thackery Binx, that was caught in a spell of his own.

While the first Hocus Pocus movie was filmed entirely in Salem, only parts of Hocus Pocus 2 were filmed in Salem. It was fun to see where the characters came to life in this fun and funny Halloween movie.

Other Films of Salem Massachusetts

There is a long list of films that have used Salem as a host for their shoot locations. As far back to 1922 with the silent movie “Java Head.” Among others is Rob Zombie’s “The Lord’s of Salem” in 2012 and “Hubie Halloween” with Adam Sandler in 2019.

Take a Tour of Salem

Trolley in Salem

There are many ways to see Salem. One of the best ways to visit is by taking a tour. There are many kinds of tours offered, such as walking history tours, ghost tours, witch tours, and trolley tours. Each time I come, I take a different tour, and each time I learn something new.

My Salem Massachusetts Dining Pick

Red’s Sandwich Shop

As you all know, I love finding great little places to eat. Each place I go, I look for a small mom and pop diner or a cafe to stop for a bite to eat. With each upcoming blog, look for my favorite dining pick to grab anything from a snack to a meal.

My Salem Dining Pick is Red’s Sandwich Shop on Central St in Salem. I almost missed it as I walked, and I am so glad I did not.

As I walked into the restaurant, I was greeted by this sign. I knew it was going to be a great place. My server, Megan, greeted me with a smile and showed me to my table. Red’s Sandwich Shop is a breakfast and lunch restaurant and served a whole lot more than sandwiches. A quick look on the menu, and I had seen what I wanted. It was a delicious breakfast and delightful service. It will be a sure stop on my next trip to Salem.

I encourage everyone to make a stop in Salem, Massachusetts. You will have a witchy good time.

Thanks for coming along on my Chipmunk Adventure!

See you next time


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14 Amazing Places and Experiences I Enjoyed on my Backroad Travels to Maine.

A winding road on my backroad travels through Vermont
Taking the backroads

Getting to and from your destination is half the fun. The places you come across as you travel the roads can be and sometimes are just as exciting as your destination. On my trip to and from Maine, I put my GPS on no highways and was amazed at the places I found on my backroad travels.

St. Raphael’s Ruins, Williamstown, Ontario

The ruins of the chrurch and graveyard at St Raphael's ruins
St. Raphael’s Ruins

Even before I had left Ontario, I found a gem. My friends John and Annie, who I had the pleasure of visiting at their new house, had mentioned an old church that was a shell without a roof. I did not know exactly where it was, but when I came across these ruins, I knew it had to be it.

This beautiful stone church started as a small framed church called “the Blue Chapel” in the late 1700s. St. Raphael’s Parish was recognized by the Roman Catholic Church in 1806. In 1821, this stunning stone church began its construction. A fire in 1970 consumed the church and left only the walls standing.

The bell that sits in the entranceway from the tower of St. Raphael Parish
The bell that fell from the tower

The Friends of St. Raphael’s Ruins formed in 1994 to preserve the ruins in this rural countryside. They held fundraisers to stabilize the walls of the church and continue to keep the ruins alive.

The inside stairs of St. Raphael Ruins
Inside St. Raphaels Ruins

As you walk inside, you realize that beauty is not only on the outside. Cascading stone walls and a stone staircase to where the pulpit would have been make a fabulous site for a wedding or gathering. You can visit anytime between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. for free or contact the friends of St. Raphaels Ruins to book an event. It’s worth the stop along the way.

Crossing the US Border into New York

Crossing the US or Canadian border is not a problem if you know the rules. Crossing into the US, I never take any food with me and have my passport and destination ready. A few questions: How long are you going to be away, the purpose of your trip? I was across.

One of my favorite stores when in the US is Family Dollar. They have cool little items along with regular household items and some clothing, all at reasonable prices. I pulled into a Family Dollar but had to make sure I did not park in the horse and buggy section.

Sign of Horse and Buggy parking only that i saw in my Backroad travels
Horse and buggy parking sign

I was in Amish country. I am always intrigued by the Amish community. They all have amazing skills, and their resolution and commitment to their community and beliefs are extraordinary.

Crossing into Vermont

The bridge crossing from New York into Vermont
Korean Vetrans War Memorial Bridge

The bridge leading into Vermont is a beautiful beginning to the scenery that is Vermont.

From this point, you are looking towards New York. If you scan just to the left of the bridge, there is a little known fort with an interesting history.

Fort Montgomery

Fort Mongomery
Fort Montgomery

This secluded fort, located just a few miles south of the Canadian border, has another name. Fort Blunder. The War of 1812 had the British invading the United States. They had already infiltrated Maine as far as Washington, DC. An order was put forth to build a large fortification at the edge of Lake Champlain after the war in 1816. 30-foot walls were erected to keep the British on their side.

Construction of the fort was stopped when it was discovered that the land they were building on was British Canada soil. According to a survey, the border was 1 -2 miles south of the fort. In 1842, British Canada agreed to shift the border, and Fort Montgomery became an American fort once again.

South Hero, Vermont

Fairy castle in South Hero
The little castles of South Hero

I had seen in my Atlas Obsura app that the town of South Hero had a story of little castles that were spread throughout the town. I had to go check out the “fairy castles of South Hero.”

The story goes that a stonemason by the name of Harry Barber was known to spread joy and amusement through the community by playing the accordion, yodeling, and, of course, his magnificent stonework abilities. Harry was born in Switzerland in 1899 and immigrated to Vermont quite by accident. He boarded a boat in Europe that he believed was going to South America. His destination: Chili. Instead, he landed in Quebec.

Thinking he could walk to Chili, he began his journey south. In Rouses Point, New York, a young woman, Beverly Rocque, took him in and fed him. Love blossomed, and they settled in Vermont.

The Fairy Castles Come to Life

The first castle was built in 1930. A creation of castles of his homeland commissioned by land owners. There are six castles built all together. They are small stone castles that could very easily house fairies. Perfect in the form of castles throughout Europe. What beautiful gifts they must have been. When searching for them, please be aware that they are on private property. There are some visible from the road. They really are the beautiful little gems of South Hero.

The Birdhouse Forest

A forest filled with colourful birdhouses.
Birdhouses Forest

While searching for castles along the shores of Lake Champlain, I came across a forest of birdhouses. There are hundreds of birdhouses along the roadway and into the forest, as far as you can see. The landowner started with a few birdhouses to attract tree swallows to nest. It is a swampy area, and mosquitoes are rampant. The Tree Swallows’s favorite meal is mosquitoes.

What started as a few dozen birdhouses, which quickly filled with Tree Swallow families, is now over 400. People living in the area say there are far fewer mosquitoes now. A beautiful display that plays an important role in your evening relaxing. Watch out for the dinosaurs, though.

Waterfalls and Silos

Waterfall at Fairfax Falls Vermont
Fairfax Falls

Winding my way through my backroad travels of Vermont gave me some beautiful scenery. Fairfax Falls in Fairfax, Vermont, not only serves as a beautiful view but also produces hydroelectric power for the surrounding community. A beautiful area beside the falls allows you to take in the stunning view.

Painted Silos

Painted Silos in Cambridge Vermont
Painted silos

Diving through Cambridge, Vermont, I came across these painted silos. The remnants of a lumber mill, the silos must have looked cold and lonely. In 2016, artist Sarah Rutherford completed her design. Celebrating both the past and the future in beautiful artistic form.

Sign directing you to Smuggler's Notch Ski resort
Sign to Smuggler’s Notch

Just a fun note. It is just down the road from Smuggler’s Notch Ski Area. I giggled when I saw the sign.

Small Town Living in Vermont

Hastings Store in Danville Vermont
Hastings Store

You know you are in a small town when everything is in one store. Hastings store is located in Danville, Vermont, and has “everything from soup to nuts,” as my Mom used to say.

In this one store, you can find the Post Office, the liquor store, a cleaner, home-made goods, gifts, groceries and ice cream. I will be honest. It was the ice cream that drew me in. What a wonderful store and great ice cream. It’s definitely worth a stop when passing through Danville.

Covered Bridges

One of the many covered bridges I came across on my backroad travels through Vermont
Covered Bridge, Dummerston, Vermont

Driving through Vermont, I started to see signs for covered bridges. I love the concept and feel of a covered bridge. Maybe because even though cars have been traversing them for many years, I am expecting a horse and buggy to be crossing when I peek in. Some have become walking bridges, and some are still able to hold cars. No matter what type of transportation they use, it is still an unexpected delight to come across one.

Backroad Travels into Massachusetts

The front of Belly Buster Diner with a picture inset of Steak eggs benidict
Belly Buster Diner

As you all know, by now, I love to stop at small diners and cafes along the way. I drove by this diner and knew I had to turn around. Belly Buster Diner on Boston Road in Billerica, Massachusetts, was certainly worth the turnaround. Offering a steak eggs benedict, it was hard to resist. Served with great friendly service, it was an excellent stop along the way.

Salem, Massachusetts

A picture of me beside the Bewitched statue in Salem
Bewitched Statue in Salem, Massachusetts

This is actually my third trip to Salem, and it never disappoints. The history of the Salem witch trials is a sad and tragic story of ordinary people that were persecuted beyond reasonable cause, which is both interesting and heartbreaking.

Although the story is poignant, Salem today is a vibrant celebration of what is now. The cobblestone walkways and beautifully treed alleyways will lead you on a delightful stroll by interesting and creative shops, small cafes, and beautiful fountains.

The cobblestone streets of Salem
The streets of Salem

I always try to take a scenic tour while I am in cities like Salem. The last time I was here, I took the Salem Witch Walk. This time, I took a ride on the Salem Trolley. My guide and driver were both informative and entertaining. I learned not only about the witch trials of 1692 but also about the history of the waterfront and the roots of this beautiful, magical little city.

Trolley in Salem
Salem Trolley Tours

Salem needs a blog of its own. There are so many things about Salem I want to share. Stay tuned for a more in-depth look at this magical city in a future blog. If you are in the area, I highly recommend a stop. Beware at Halloween, Salem is spooky and very busy. Lol.

Boogie Affair, Greenfield, Massachusetts

My campervan parked beside a round red building
My parking spot for the weekend

One of my destinations on this road trip was a van show in Greenfield, Massachusetts, called Boogie Affair. Held in Franklin County Fairgrounds, it was a wonderful weekend, spending time with old friends and making some new ones, looking at some excellent vans, and enjoying the festivities of the event.

I have been to these fairgrounds before for the Van Nationals in 2019. Parking with hydro and trees is not always a certainty at van shows. It was a great weekend with some awesome people. The theme was medieval times and was celebrated in full force.

Fun friends at Boogie affair
Fun with friends

I want to thank Dick for buying me breakfast and Chris for cooking. The tacos the next evening were also excellent. I had never heard of tacos in a bag before. A small bag of Doritos, taco meat, cheese, and lettuce, and you have a taco to go. Oh, so cool! The vendors had their own creation I had never heard of.  A grilled coffee cake muffin with milk butter. I am not sure what milk butter is, but it was so very good.

Grilled coffee cake muffin with melting butter and an egg sandwich.
Grilled coffee cake muffin

It was a fun time with my friends and a promise to be back. The 2024 Van Nationals will be held at this park. I can not wait!

BBQ Party in a Box

Party in a Box Trailer
BBQ Party in a Box

A stop at friends near Belleville led me on an experience that is a first for me. Andy and Becky, along with their extremely talented daughter Brittany, run a catering service called BBQ Party in a Box. A service that provides everything you need to have a successful BBQ event. Pick from any of the fun BBQs and the menu to be served, and you have it all.

A plane and car bbqs. Brittany cooking at the bbq
BBQs and Brittany

They were planning a BBQ for a wedding and found themselves a person short. I volunteered to help in any way I could with their full knowledge that I had never worked in a kitchen or served before. I have never worked in an industrial kitchen or served in a restaurant in my working career. The menu was chicken, pulled pork, macaroni and cheese, loaded potato salad, coleslaw, and ice cream sundaes for dessert.

A First is Achieved

I do not believe I have ever peeled that many potatoes at one time in my entire life. Lol. Serving at the ice cream sundae bar was fun. Cooking is by far not my favourite pastime, but I must say it was a whole lot of fun this time. Serving at the Sundae Bar was so fun. Thanks for the most excellent first. I would be most happy to do it again.

Me cooking at the bbq
Yes, that is me cooking

A great visit with wonderful friends ended with a car show in Belleville. Some pretty cars, interesting people, and a whole lot of laughs.

Becky, Brittany and myself at the car show
Becky, Brittany, and myself

What a wonderful backroad road trip. Beautiful scenery, wonderful people with a little magic mixed in.

Next time you are on a trip, set your GPS to no highways and see what you discover.

What is the most interesting place you have discovered while traveling to and from your destination? Leave them in the comments.

Thanks for coming along on my Chipmunk Adventures! See you next time.


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11 Amazing Experiences While Visiting Maine

The beauty of the mountains while visiting Maine

I had wanted to spend some time visiting Maine. I had visited briefly once and instantly knew I wanted to go back and explore more. Some friends had built a cabin in the forests of Maine and I looked forward to what they had built and the raw beauty surrounding it. From the forests to the coastline, come along as I explore the beautiful state of Maine.

John and Carla’s Cabin

John and Carla’s Cabin

My first destination on my tour was a friend’s cabin deep in the forests of Maine. I was so looking forward to seeing what they built as well as the raw beauty of the place they built it in. On the way there, I got a little lost. Carla was in town and directed me to her and said, “Follow me.” I had no idea that I would be following her down a dirt road to one of the most beautiful and laughable weekends I have had in a long time.

Carla leading me to a most enjoyable weekend

After a few turns and twists and a few bumps down the road, we pulled into this beautiful clearing in the woods with an amazing log cabin. Greeted by John and his son Jason, his girlfriend, Kelli, his brother David, and his wife Tracey, I knew this was going to be a great weekend. The cabin is a pretty two-story log cabin that gives a warmth of coziness as soon as you walk in the door.

After a fun evening and a wonderful morning listening to birds as we sipped our coffee and chatted. They asked me if I wanted to go on an ATV ride. Haha! I am not much of a rider, but John said if I went, we would take the side-by-side. Ok, I am in!

Get in! It will be fun they said

Some ATV Fun to be had While Visiting Maine

I was ready for some beautiful sights and a hang-on-tight ride. I was not disappointed. Beautiful forests with elegant views with a few whoa hang on tight curves. What I did not expect was the laughter. We had taken a turn up and around a hill to get a beautiful view. As we rode away, they realized that the side-by-side had a flat. Oh, that’s not good. We were miles from anywhere.

John had this great idea that they could attach the winch system at the front of one of the ATVs to the back of the side-by-side. Getting real close and essentially lifting the back of the side by side to take the pressure off the back tires. David was driving the other ATV and was, like everyone else, a little skeptical.

The Road Back to the Cabin

Off we went with David so close at times he was touching the side-by-side. If we stopped and did not tell him, he would bang into the back of us. Turn without his knowledge, and his machine would hit ours. To say this erupted into laughter was an understatement. David has an infectious laugh. Every time we hit, the laughter would ensue. Soon, we were all laughing so hard we had to stop. We could not even see for the tears of laughter.

We traveled for six miles, down hills and twists of the ATV trail like that. I laughed so hard for so long that my sides hurt. Finally, we arrived back at the cabin. Everybody, including the ATV’s intact.

The next day, the ladies went out on the ATVs while the boys cut trees. I tried to get some work done but just listening to them working in the woods with those strong east coasts accents sent me into another day of laughter and few looks to see if they all still had all their limbs.

It was so nice meeting all of them, and thank you for a most laughable and enjoyable weekend. 

Stephen King’s House, Bangor, Maine

Stephen King's home

Stephen King is the famous writer of such horror novels as Pet Sematary, Carrie, and Cujo, to name a few. Some of his famous writings are based in Maine. It is well known he has a residence in Maine. I had to take advantage while visiting Maine to see the house of the creator of stories that are hard to forget.

The house is on a quiet residential street in Bangor. Large gates guard the drive and the walkway, decorated with bats and spiders. Sitting on a large parcel of land, the house is a little eerie with a warm New England charm. Google says it is now a home to the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation. The foundation gives back to the communities of Maine by way of support for community projects.

Wooden sculpture

A beautiful, intriguing wooden sculpture sits in the front yard. What looks to be a tree stump is now a magnificent piece of art. When you look closely at the sculpture, it has characters and notions from his books. Cats on the shelf (Pet Sematary), the owl looking from above (The Mist), and the other creatures are all sitting on a credenza with books on the shelf. A breathtaking work of art.

Colonel Buck’s Cursed Tomb, Bucksport, Maine

Colonel Buck's Memorial

When I saw on my Atlas Obscura app that there was a story of a cursed tomb, I had to go check it out.

In Bucksport, Maine, there is a story of the town’s founder, Johnathon Buck, and his fight with a “witch.” As the story goes, Johnathan Buck, in the early 1700s, ordered a witch to be burned at the stake. During sentencing, the woman cursed Johnathan and ended the curse with “so long shall my curse be upon thee and my sign upon thy tombstone.” As she burned, her leg rolled out of the fire.

Sixty years after he died in 1798, his successors built a monument of Blue Hill Granite. Over the years, the shape of a leg would begin to stain the monument. The family has tried to remove it, but it keeps reappearing. Could the legend be true?

Historians will tell you that the witchcraft era was over by the time Johnathan Buck was born. Also, note that there is no record of any witches executed in Maine. How true is the story? I guess we will never know, but the outline of a leg still stains his monument today.

Fort Knox and Penobscot Narrows Observatory, Prospect, Maine

Fort Knox and Penobscot Narrows Observatory

While driving through Bucksport, I noticed this beautiful bridge beside a large fort. I had to stop and take a picture. As I googled the name of the fort, I learned the bridge was also an Observatory.

Penobscot Narrows Observatory

Penobscot Narrows Observatory

The bridge that spans the Penobscot river in Maine is not only aesthetically beautiful but has a unique purpose. It is also an Observatory. There are only four bridge observatories in the world. At 420 feet high (42 stories), Penobscot Narrows Observatory is the highest bridge Observatory in the world. The top floor of the Observatory is made of granite from a quarry nearby. An ornate bronze compass is designed into the floor. Ride the fastest elevator in Maine (about a 1 minute ride) up 420 feet for a breathtaking 360-degree panoramic view of Maine.

Fort Knox

Fort Knox

This large (124 acres or 50 hectares) fort that sits quietly on the side of the Penobscot River is one of the best-preserved forts in New England. Fort Knox is built of granite, not wood or stone, in 1844 to stop the advance of the British. This formidable structure was sure to do its job. Take a tour through the narrow passages during the day or if you are so inclined, a ghost tour at night. An interesting piece of well-preserved history to explore that is also dog-friendly! Make Prospect, Maine, a definite travel destination while visiting Maine.

Old Fort Western, Augusta, Maine

Main garrison of Fort Western

Old Fort Western is a beautifully preserved wooden fort built downriver of Fort Halifax. Built with a unique purpose and an interesting history. The main garrison building is the original wooden building from its creation in 1754. The area was known as Cushnoc and began as a trading post in those early years. As I entered, Greeted at the large wooden gate, a lovely lady, Dorothy, dressed in a period costume, would take me on a walk through time.

Fort Western started as a trading post in 1628 until 1649, until it became a military fort in 1754. Specifically built to bring supplies to Fort Halifax due to the shallow conditions of the river. Supplies came in from the larger ports and taken off the larger boats, and when water levels were at their highest, those supplies were loaded onto flat-bottom boats to be floated and sometimes portaged to the troops at Fort Halifax.

Decommissioned in 1767, the fort went on to become a store, a home, and a tenement house. Today, it is a museum and an interesting piece of history and certainly deserves to be a feature travel blog. Stay tuned for more information on this most interesting piece of Maine history.

Peaks-Kenny State Park, Dover-Foxcroft, Maine

Peaks-Kenny State Park campsite

Traveling in Maine in August made it a little difficult to find a campsite in a state park. I had looked in the area I was in and called as their online reservation system did not allow for same day reservations. I found the parks closest to me were already full. About an hour north was Peaks-Kenny State Park. I called, and they told me they had two spots left but were first come, first serve.

When I arrived, there was a travel trailer in the park looking at the two sites. Would I like to go and look? I asked her which one of the two campsites she liked best, and she chose campsite number 19. I told her, “I would just take that one.” I drove to the site, and the people who were “looking” had already unhooked their trailer at the campsite. They told me that the procedure was to come back up to the office and tell the reservations which one they chose, and since I had registered the campsite, they would go down and tell them they had to move. No, I will just take the other site.

To say it was peaceful and beautiful is an understatement. Deep in the forests of Maine beside a small lake, this state park has a lot to offer. Miles of scenic trails as well as wonderful staff and great facilities made it a great stay while visiting Maine.

Acadia National Park and Thunder Hole

The rocky coast in Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park

I started out looking for Thunder Hole, which I had seen on my Atlas Obscura app and found a beautiful national park that would keep me there for a few days for more than just the sound of Thunder.

Acadia National Park

Driving on the Park Loop Rd
Driving Park Loop Road

Located on the Atlantic coast, on Mount Desert Island in Maine, this 47,000-acre national park has many beautiful attractions. Stunning cliffside views as well as summits you can climb. Climb to the top of Cadillac Mountain, the United States East Coast’s highest point, or sit with your feet in the ocean at the many beaches around the park. A $35 fee is required to get into Acadia National Park and is an active pass for seven days.

Hike on the mountain or along the coast, drive to the summit (there are vehicle limitations), and you need to make a reservation to do this or drive the Park Loop, which takes you along the coast. Stop at historic sites and bridges within the park, including the oldest bridge. Built in 1917, the Cobblestone Bridge, as the name suggests, is made with cobblestones.

There are so many things to see and do in Acadia National Park. You will need all seven days of that pass.

Thunder Hole

Thunder Hole in Acdia National Park
Thunder Hole

I was intrigued by the idea that the crash of water against the jagged coastline could create a thunder sound. To get to Thunder Hole, you must take Park Loop Road in Acadia National Park. A path leads from the road to the rocks below. There, on an outcropping of rock, is small gorge cut out of the rock by thousands of years of erosion.

The path leads you beside the small gorge. As you watch the tide rise, the water coming into the gorge begins to arrive with a tremendous force. With a spray of water and a roll of thunder, the ocean comes inland. It was very neat to see and hear the beauty mother nature creates.

Timber Tina’s Great Lumberjack Show

The sign of the lumberjack show I went to while visiting Maine
Lumberjack Show sign

As I drove towards Acadia National Park on Bar Harbor Road, I noticed a sign. Timber Tina’s Great Lumberjack Show with nightly showings at 7 pm. Hmmmm I like lumberjacks. For the price of $15.95 for a 75-minute show, I had to check it out.

I was ushered into the parking lot by a nice young man with suspenders and a plaid shirt. It was one of the lumberjacks for the show. I knew this was going to be interesting. What I did not realize was how much fun it would be.

A picture of one of the lumberjacks
One of the lumberjacks

Four lumberjacks participated in the show. A demonstration of both talent and strength as they wielded chainsaws and long saws, cutting and sawing through large pieces of logs. Log rolling and chainsaw carving were not to be left out. Not only was it a great demonstration of the skill of a lumberjack, but also the types of competitions they have in lumberjack games.

working the long saw at the lumberjack show
Working the long saw
Running on logs at the lumberjack show.
Down he goes! Lol

Each side of the grandstand was given a team to cheer for. It was such fun watching the audience cheering on their team and very impressive with the skill these young men have. I highly recommend you stop for a very entertaining 75 minutes while visiting Maine.

Wood carving of an owl and a tower
Beautiful wood carvings

Thompson Island

View of the ocean at Thompson Island
The view from Thompson Island

Thompson Island is a small island on Bar Harbor Road leading into Acadia National Park. It is small, but I have to mention it because it was so peaceful. The visitors center for the park is here, as well as a picnic area across the road. With beautiful views and the soft sound of the waves hitting the shore, it is a great place to stop for a breather on a busy vacation.

A1 Relics, Ellsworth, Maine

A1 Relics store
A1 Relics

As I was driving, I noticed a display of beautiful antique cars. As I pulled over to get a picture and a closer look, I noticed this most unusual antique store.

Old car display beside A1 Relics
Collection of old cars

A1 Relics is not just any antique store. There were so many obscure as well as antique things to look at. The building itself is an unusual architecture as much as the antiques inside. It has three floors for you to wander through. Wandering through the store, I could hear people say, “Oh my stars, look at this,” or “I remember these.” A1 Relics have memorabilia and eclectic things from the past. A great stop along the way while visiting Maine.

A1 Relics storefront
The front of the store.

At the side of the store is an old train car that sold ice cream. The perfect item for a hot afternoon.

Ice cream trolley I stopped at while visiting Maine
Ice cream parlor

What a unique and interesting shopping experience. When you are passing by make sure to stop in. You will love it.

International Cryptozoology Museum, Portland, Maine

Bigfoot statue in front of museum
Bigfoot at the entrance to the museum

What is Cryptozoology? The study of hidden or unknown animals. Studying the stories of legends such as Bigfoot or the Dogman. Studying and exploring the creatures of lore.

Display of creatures such as bigfoot
Bigfoot display

What could you find in a museum of creatures that no one knows really exists? It is a fascinating collection of reports, plaster casts of footprints, and even hair found and thought to belong to Bigfoot.

Plaster casts of footprints
Plaster casts of footprints found in the forest

The museum also includes creatures from television like Harry from Harry and the Hendersons and the creature from the black lagoon. Providing a map of the US, you can discover state by state the Monsters that may be secretly residing near you. 

Monster map

For an admission fee of $10.00, it was an interesting and fun walk through of creatures that are maybe left better in the woods.

What monster lives near you? Have you ever seen or heard anything to make you think that a monster is near you? Let me hear your monster story in the comments.

Maine was a beautiful and fun place to visit. There was so much more to see that I am sure I will have to go back again and explore and enjoy the beauty of Maine.

Thanks for coming along on my Chipmunk Adventure while visiting Maine. Check out my blog 14 Amazing Places and Experiences I Enjoyed on My Backroad Travels to Maine to see how much fun I had getting there.

See you next time.

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When Custom Vanning meets Vanlife. Spectacular Happens

My two vans. One for vanning one for living
My two vans 💜💜

Being a custom van owner brought me into a world of not only some darn pretty vans but also the world of Vanning. A world where no matter what kind of van you have, it’s what’s in your heart that makes you fit in. I have owned a 2nd generation Ford van for over 37 years. The places it has taken me and the people I have met are spectacular. I believe that the years I spent vanning in my custom van greatly increased my success of living in my Roadtrek.

Van shows are the reason, but it’s the friends we will meet when we get there that brings us miles across the United States and Canada. Van shows are like camping weekends with hundreds of your favorite friends, a great party, and a beautiful show thrown in to ohhh and ahhh at on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

Lost in New York

Lost in New York flyer for their event

Lost is a van show in eastern New York. I had never been, so I decided to travel to Greenwich, New York, to play with my East Coast friends and see some fabulous country. Nestled in and around the Appalachian mountains, this scenic little town is not to be missed.

This is 30 years for this show hosted by Concerned Vanners and what a magnificent show it was. Held every year at Washington County fairgrounds , this is a great venue for this event. There were so many vans I had never seen and new people I met. I also got to spend some quality time with some friends I had not hugged in a while. It was a most memorable event with good friends.

Some of the cool vans at Lost
Vans at Lost

The friends and the show are only one of the great aspects of vanning. Custom Van events happen in different places all over Canada and the United States. The places they take you to are places that you may not have not visited otherwise. There are also places to see while you are there and on the way back or there if you have the time. I had seen an attraction on Atlas Obscura that looked interesting, and since I was in the area, I went to check it out.

Lake George, New York

Lake George by the riverboats
Lake George, New York

Lake George is a tourist town sitting, you guessed it, on the side of Lake George. A beautiful little town filled with cafes, shops, and boutiques all along the quiet waters of Lake George. Along with the riverboat ferries docked along the shore, you will also find Lake George Mystery Spot sitting subtly by the lakeside. It is said that if you stand in a certain spot, marked with an X and face the Lake. When you talk, you will hear an echo. I had to go see if that was true.

When I came into town, it was Memorial Day. A little busy was an understatement. I decided to grab a campsite for the night and go the next day. Now, direction is not my Forte and the GPS took me to a boat launch. A nice gentleman who worked security there directed me to where I should have gone. When I arrived at the campground, the entrance was almost across the road, where I had breakfast in a cute little diner. There was no need for the 30 min drive if I had just turned left. Lol.

After a nice night in Lake George Battleground State Park, I was off to find the Mystery Spot. Driving into town was a lot easier than the day before. The drive along the lake with beautiful views and even came across the Million Dollar Beach. It was closed. It’s probably because it had a million people on it the day before. Ok, maybe not a million, but there was a lot.

Lake George Mystery Spot

I made my way to the Mystery spot and stood on the X. I started to talk and could hear not an echo of my voice but more like a vibration. It’s almost like I was standing in a tin can. But I was not. I was looking at a lake. I took one step to the side, and the vibration was gone. I stepped back on the X, and it was there. Very cool. Check it out on my YouTube channel here.

Vanfest 26

Vanfest 26 flyer
Vanfest 26 flyer

Vanfest is a show for both pick-up trucks and vans. I have been proudly part of the Vanfest family for 26 years. Helping to put on an awesome event with friends who I now consider family. This year was our biggest attending year with 488 vans and pick-ups through the gate. Over 200 of the prettiest vans and pick-ups that you would ever want to see.

Some of the custom vans and pick ups at Vanfest
Vans and trucks at Vanfest

Read all about the history of Vanfest on my blog Vanfest: Canada’s Premier Van and Truck Show.

Vanfest is held every year at Springwater Conservation Area in Aylmer Ontario. A wonderful little town along Highway 3. You can follow Highway 3 beside Lake Erie all the way from Fort Erie to Windsor. This scenic drive will take you through quaint towns and lakeside villages, allowing you to stop and enjoy the scenery all the way.

I want to make a special mention to my friend Debbie, who won Best of Show at both Vanfest and Lost with her van Slapshot. Cool chicks with cool toys. Awesome van. Awesome lady!

My vanning friend Debbie and her van Slapshot
Debbie and her van Slapshot

Vanamania 5.0

Vanamania 5.0 flyer

My next event had me going to Tweed Ontario for Vanamania, held by C’old School Van Club. This is the third year of this event, and it just keeps getting better. The event held at Trudeau Park on beautiful Stocco Lake is the perfect setting to see shiny vans on the beach. They had over 100 vans roll through the gate for the weekend. There were over 50 vans in the show, and they made for a beautiful cruise through town in the afternoon. It was a fun, well-run event held by a beautiful beach filled with all my favourite people. I had my book for sale on the beach. What a lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon!

Book signing and fun at Vanamania

Tweed is a great little town on Highway 37, north of the 401. It is rumored that Elvis has been spotted here. Lol. It does boast as having the smallest jail in North America. It is pretty little. Settled in a beautiful area, it is filled with tranquil waters and quiet forests for you to explore. A gateway to the north, there are many things to see while there.

A Stop Along the Way

My roadtrek in front of the billboard
My van as a Rockwheel Van!

I had a week between shows in roughly the same area. I just happened to have friends nearby that I had met through another vanning friend. I met Andy and Becky about a year ago, and we have been good friends ever since. Andy is building a private event park that is the creation of a very visioned man. Every time I go, there is something added or finished. It is exciting to watch the progress. Friends of mine, Yvan and Bev, stopped by as well. It was so fun playing bumper boats and getting to know them a little better. Wonderful people.

Playing bumper boats with friends
Bumper boats

One of the things that was finished while I was there was the Lottarock Billboard. A giant billboard you can park in front of and have your picture taken with your vehicle. It’s almost like you are now a Rockwheel van! I got to be first with my van. Woohoo! I love being a first.

Bogie Bash

Bogie Bash flyer
Bogie Bash

Bogie Bash is a relatively new addition to our Ontario show lineup, and I am so glad they joined us. The event was held in Burnstown Ontario, in a host member’s backyard for a back-to-basics good time. Hosted by Bogie Munsters Van Club, Bogie Bash is not an event you want to miss. I had gotten there a little late but had a great time while I was there. The band, the food, and the friends, all made for a wonderful weekend.

Vans and fun at Bogie Bash vanning
Vans at Bogie Bash

Nestled in Northeastern Ontario, Burnstown is a little east of Algonquin Park. Our largest Provincial Park offers camping, hiking, and biking in the northern Ontario wilderness. To the east is Carp, is where you can find The Defunbunker. A 1960 Nucular fallout shelter that should be a must-see on your travel itinerary.

What’s Next?

My next event is Boogie Affair in Greenfield Massachusetts in August. This will also be the first time I have been at this event. On my way I have plans for seeing a little more of Vermont and Maine.

If you were to pick one place in Maine that is a must-see, what would it be? Put it in the comments, and tell me why it’s your favorite. I may just have to visit while I am here.

Stay tuned for a Chipmunk Adventure in Maine. I can’t wait to tell you about what I found.

Thanks for coming along on my Chipmunk Adventure. See you next time.


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Solo Female Travel: 7 Ways to Keep it Safe

female sole travel through Ontario

Solo female travel is a little different than travelling with a partner but can be just as fun and just as safe. Travelling solo can be inspiring and uplifting as you navigate the roadways and attractions. Whether you travel by plane, train, or automobile, travelling safely to your destination and back is what we all strive to achieve.

I have been a female solo traveller on and off for most of my life. It can be a scary experience for some and exhilarating for others. I have travelled many miles alone and have been to many places in my custom van as well as my Class B RV. Living in my RV alone has also allowed me to explore many places by myself. I have also had the opportunity to fly. Landing in places like O’Hare in Chicago, the busiest Airport in the US, and Vancouver in BC can be intimidating. But once you have done it, the second time is much easier.

There are certain things I do and don’t do when I travel in places that are both familiar and unfamiliar to keep me safe and ensure my time there is a beautiful memory. I hope some of the things I do will help you stay safe and keep your mind at ease when travelling.

1. Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Walmart Parking Lot

No matter where you are, be aware of your surroundings and the people that are standing in it. You do not have to be hyper-vigilant but scan around you and know what is and is not around you. You will be surprised what you pick up by doing that. Is there a person who is watching you or someone else? Are they acting nervous or apprehensive?

Observation also is an excellent tool when you pull into a parking lot to boondock. I will park and sit in the driver’s seat and just watch. Get a feel for where I am. Is there a lot of coming and going? Are there many people standing around or loitering? Some parking lots have security. Are there security cars on the lot? Get a feel for the place you are spending the night for a restful nights sleep.

Knowing what is around you, taking it at face value and acting on that knowledge is half the battle. If you do not feel comfortable, move. If you are touring an attraction, shopping on a popular street or parking in a parking lot and feel there is something not right, move to where you feel safer.

2. Know Where You Are Spending the Night

Selkirk Provincial lPark

Travel apps can also give you piece of mind when you are both on the road and off. There are a ton of apps that can give you accommodation, campgrounds, and/or boondocking spots. Knowing where you can park safely for the night gives you a much more relaxing day. Check out my favourite travel apps that help me safely down the road.

When I am driving two-lane highways, I try my best to never drive after dusk or before dawn. Animals tend to come out to travel at that time. Meeting any kind of animal on the road is never a good time.

When I am roadtrippin with no real destination in mind, I always know that at some time during that day, I will decide where to spend the night. Anytime between 4 to 5 hours before dark, I start looking. I will peruse my boondocking apps like Ioverlander and my campsite apps to find places in the area I should be in by then. I always err on the side of caution and try to choose a place I know I will get to with plenty of light left. Slowdowns can happen, or they no longer accept overnight vehicles, which will require you to pick another spot. Give yourself the time and space to make adjustments as you go for a much more relaxed ride.

3. Be Friendly But Not Inviting

Solo female travel to Jack Daniel's Distillery in Lynchburg Tennessee
Jack Daniel’s Distillery

What do I mean by that? I am a chatty person and will talk to anybody. People are interesting, and 90% of the people you meet are friendly and helpful. There are those 10% though that we have to watch out for.

When talking to people, I never invite a stranger into my van or my campsite. Many have asked, and I say it’s a mess or I really don’t do that as it is my home. When I am having a conversation, I never give out too much information. The information I do give out is usually general, and I keep it to the area or attraction and less about me.

An example would be, “Where are you from?” My answer is Ontario or southern Ontario. A general answer but no specific place. Answering this way also lets the person know that they can not get too close. That there is a distance to be maintained.

Have you ever started chatting with a person, and they just want to keep you engaged? When the conversation is over for you, just end it. A “Thanks for the chat, gotta go,” and turn around and walk away is all you need. If someone is being too pushy and making you uncomfortable, leave and go to your van or RV or walk to a place with people. I have done this a few times when on a tour of an attraction. My Roadtrek was in the parking lot, and I was uncomfortable. I moved where there were more people, turned my back on them, and blended in with the other people. Do NOT be afraid to hurt someone’s feelings or seem to be rude. I am rarely rude, but very matter-of-fact.

4. Do Not Put Your Current Location on Social Media

Facebook check in screen
Great restaurant, but I am not there. 🙂

I see this all the time. It is great that you want to share the beautiful destination you are at with family and friends. If you are at the top of a mountain and going to be there for 10 minutes, that’s fine, but if you are spending the night, that is a post for the next day. Letting every Tom, Dick and Harry know where you are is just downright dangerous.

Social media is a wonderful tool. As a travel blogger, I want to post the cool and beautiful places I find to inspire people to check out my blog and learn more. More than 95% of my location posts are the next day or after I have left. Even when I am in a campground, I do not usually post where I am until I leave. There, as always, are a few exceptions, but it is a posting rule I closely follow. The few times that I do post when I am there I am already in a safe environment or not staying long.

5. Lock Your Doors

Doors Locked

I know it seems silly to say this, but please lock your doors. When I am sitting in my van working in a parking lot or on a bluff, my doors are locked. While driving through cities, my doors are locked. Even when I am sitting in the van with the windows open, I lock the doors. Yes, I know they can reach over and unlock the door, but it gives me an advantage because of the sound of them trying the door 

When I am sitting in the back of my Roadtrek, no one can really see me unless they stand in front of the van and peer in. I can see them but because of the curtains and tinted windows, they can not see me.

Let me give you an example.

One day, sitting by the water in a parking lot, working on my blog in the back of the van, I noticed a young man walking towards the side of my campervan. My work phone was on the console, and he had his eye on that. Sitting in the back, I watched as he looked into the open window. He tried the door, but it was locked. As he reached through the window to reach for the phone (he could not have reached anyway), I yelled from the back of the van. He jumped so hard his arm slammed into the plastic shroud above the window, and he gave a yelp and ran. I bet he will think twice before he did that again. At least I hope so.

If the door had been unlocked, even though I was in the van, he could have been in and out before I could react. Locking your doors no matter where you are is an important part of keeping you safe.

7. Let Someone Know Where You Are

Alone in the Badlands

Sometimes, in a quest to be on our own, we overachieve that. I am guilty of this as much as anybody else. I am lucky to have a girlfriend who will not let me get away without her knowing at least the area I am in.

It is especially important if you know you may not have a cell signal in the area you will be travelling in. Tell someone when you enter and when you think you will be back online. If anything were to happen, then when you do not return, they will know where to send the search party.

Travelling solo can be daunting but also an experience of freedom we will not soon forget. I hope the things I do to help keep me safe will make your travels a little more stress-free.

Share your favourite way to keep yourself safe in the comments below. I would love to hear them.

Safe Travels!


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