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The last leg of Pan America Overland — Halifax, Canada

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Due to unforeseen circumstances this blog entry was delayed and only finalized in Cape Town after our arrival back home at the end of our long trip. Nevertheless, we hope those of you who have followed our progress and sent messages and encouragement will enjoy this albeit late

thumbnail.xlarge.1.1382882080.marcus taylor wendy madison mississauga The last leg of Pan America Overland — Halifax, Canada

Marcus, Taylor, Wendy & Madison, Mississauga

This is to be the last of our blog entries covering our long overland trip from Ushuaia to Deadhorse. Why? Because we have finally arrived here in Halifax after a long slog across Canada and it is from here we are shipping Jambo back to Cape Town, and a few days later flying out to London on our way home.

Wow, what a journey it’s been! All in, we have covered 72,956 kms on this little jaunt at an average fuel consumption of just under 12 litres per 100 kms consuming some 8700 litres of diesel for the trip. When we get a chance we’ll go through the records and see how much we spent on fuel, on food and booze, accommodation, border crossings, ferries and shipping, insurance and all the other logistical data. It might be worth repeating for the benefit of those reading this and who may be planning something similar that the overall costs of such a trip are not in our view as daunting as some may imagine. We always planned as we have done on previous overland expeditions to cover a considerable chunk of the trip costs by renting our home to tenants whilst travelling (but see the postscript at the end of this entry). This income has largely covered our fuel costs and a bit more besides. Apart from one off additional health and public liability vehicle insurance costs, border crossings and visas, chargeable accommodation (where we haven’t or couldn’t bush camp), ferries and shipping of the vehicle out from and back to South Africa, and air fares out and back, our trip costs for food and everyday subsistence, excepting those for the USA and Canada, have been much of the time equivalent to or even less than living at home

thumbnail.xlarge.1.1382882080.port credit architecture The last leg of Pan America Overland — Halifax, Canada

Port Credit architecture

. So no, if you have a home to rent whilst travelling this sort of adventure does not have to be cripplingly expensive, SO LONG AS ONE

Certainly, living costs in north America, especially in Canada, took us by surprise and were much higher than we expected. Allied to this was the continuing devaluation of the SA Rand against both countries’ dollars making it hurt even more.

Was the trip worth it from all standpoints? Absolutely, as it has been an experience we wouldn’t have missed for the world. Would we do another long distance expedition overland like this and our previous one from South Africa to Norway? Probably not. Many have asked us when stopping to chat and hearing of our travels, “where next”? The idea of overlanding through the Middle or Far East or maybe through Russia and China somehow does not hold all that much appeal for us. More likely would be shorter trips into other parts of southern and east Africa, a region of the world that has always been close to our hearts.

Would we travel on another overland trip in the same vehicle? Maybe, maybe not

thumbnail.xlarge.1.1382882080.walkies port credit The last leg of Pan America Overland — Halifax, Canada

Walkies, Port Credit

. One thing is for sure; when it comes to overlanding there is no perfect vehicle in our opinion. If one is going to venture off road for much of the trip (and why not?) then a seriously tough 4×4 is the answer.
If one is going to stick to reasonable roads then a campervan along the lines of a Mercedes Sprinter or similar seems like a good option. Some of these derivatives one can get in 4 wheel drive versions too which can handle a bit of sand and the like. So far as American style RVs are concerned they offer lots of home comforts but on the downside are NOT for untarred roads and due to their weight and bulk are horrendously heavy on fuel, never mind purchase cost. Also one has to keep in mind the costs of shipping a vehicle from its country or origin to its start point if that cannot be done by road. A vehicle which fits inside a standard 20ft shipping container will be very secure, but if it won`t fit the cost of shipping in an open top container or as loose cargo will escalate. Of course there is often a Ro-Ro shipping service where vehicles are driven onto a specialized car carrying ship. But although less expensive than containerization security and the possibility of damage on Ro-Ro ships and during loading and unloading has always been a potential issue. We still think a 4×4 kitted out for overlanding that fits in a 20 ft container is a good compromise. What sleeping arrangement one goes for with this type of vehicle is the big question. Sleep inside like we did on this trip? Rooftop tent maybe? Ground tent? Or possibly a specialized off road camping trailer with extending
awnings that can take a beating and offer weather protected sleeping, eating and cooking facilities? One advantage of our Land Rover Defender as it is presently set up is that once back home it can relatively easily be returned back to its normal 7 seater station wagon configuration and used as a second car in the family

thumbnail.xlarge.1.1382882080.good morning maam springridge farm The last leg of Pan America Overland — Halifax, Canada

Good morning Maam, Springridge Farm

. Dedicated camper vehicles obviously cannot do this, often don`t fit in a standard container, and if left parked in the driveway at home
and not used frequently for what they are designed to do tend to be expensive liabilities. As is so often the case this is a “horses for courses” scenario.

But we are ahead of ourselves here – we haven’t dealt with the last leg of this trip, that from Toronto through to Nova Scotia. So here is a brief run down on the last 4 weeks of our travels.

We left Wendy and Jerry’s home in Mississauga with fond memories. They had turned their home over to us, drove us around the city and their part of Ontario and as always gave us the red carpet treatment. Thank you guys so very much for having us and spoiling us. It was fun meeting your many friends, and of course lovely to see Marcus again along with Diana and Stephen and their three boys who stopped by for one night on their way home, and Madison and Taylor from Grande Prairie who we had seen when staying with them all some weeks earlier. Wendy and Jerry, we hope the hurt at the loss of dear Bailey, your faithful Scottie, will heal in time – a passing of an era in your lives.

But we were not to bid farewell to Wendy and Jerry in Mississauga as they had made a plan for all four of us to drive to their daughter Diana and son in law Stephen’s holiday home at Bob’s Lake some 300 kms away and about midway between Mississauga and Montreal. Here we spent a few days enjoying the splendid scenery that draws so many to this part of Canada with its myriad lakes, forests and rolling farmland

thumbnail.xlarge.1.1382882080.springridge farm The last leg of Pan America Overland — Halifax, Canada

Springridge Farm

. Diana and Stephen and their three boys wined and dined us, took us out on the lake in their smart power boat and gave us a great time. I tried to catch a fish in the lake with my fly rod but to my dismay ended up with one of its three split cane sections shearing clean off at a brass ferrule. It is repairable but only once at home with the right tools and glues. Nevertheless, a disappointing end to my fly fishing forays on our trip. We had traversed some of the finest fly fishing regions in the world such as Argentina and Chile as well as many parts of the USA and Canada and I had caught zilch. But then again I had not by a long chalk got out the rod at every possible fishing spot we had encountered. This was either because I had no licence for that area or because I was very much aware that for Diana it would have been supremely boring for her to hang around whilst I spent an hour or two pursuing any unsuspecting trout.

We sadly parted company with Diana and Stephen along with Wendy and Jerry at Bob’s Lake and pointed Jambo towards Montreal. We in fact did not plan on stopping off  there having decided earlier that of the three big cities in eastern Canada – Montreal, Ottawa and Quebec – Quebec would be the one we would visit.

Not far from Bob’s Lake we dropped in on the beautiful little town of Perth (this part of Canada is full of place names with Scottish links)

thumbnail.xlarge.1.1382882080.van vliets and rolstons The last leg of Pan America Overland — Halifax, Canada

Van Vliets and Rolstons

. We parked the car, walked the lovely Big Ben park next to the river that meanders through Perth and admired the statue of what is perhaps Canada’s most famous horse after which the park is named. Big Ben with his rider Ian Millar in the 1980s won almost every major show jumping event in north America. Having taken in this snippet of equine excellence we retired to the local pub across the road and sampled their excellent draught beer. What a life.

We bypassed Ottawa to the south and soon after crossed into French speaking Quebec to the south. After spending one night at the quite attractive St. Andre-Avellin campsite (N45 43.524 W75 03.483) we continued eastwards following the Ottawa river, a tributary of the mighty St. Lawrence along which ocean going ships make their way right in land to the Great Lakes.
Near the northern banks of the Ottawa River we made a pitstop at the attractive old colonial town of Montebello and wandered around the grounds of the interesting Manoir Papineau which stands in its own wooded grounds near the town. Not far away was the impressive and obviously exclusive Fairmont Le Chateau hotel, the world’s largest log hotel, standing in 65,000 acres and offering lots of outdoor attractions. One such was the only Land Rover
Experience off road driving academy in Canada

thumbnail.xlarge.1.1382882080.the cn tower toronto The last leg of Pan America Overland — Halifax, Canada

The CN Tower, Toronto

. We stopped outside their offices in the hotel grounds only to find no one on duty even though there were some shiny Land Rover and Range Rover vehicles parked outside. Our dusty Defender might have offered the school a PR opportunity; presumably business was slow that day.

Heading further east we spent a night at the Valle Bleu camp site (N45 12.127 W72 40.854) near Cowansville and the next night at Ile Marie campsite (N45 22.901 W71 51.647) where we found a nice grassy spot well away from the usual hordes of jam packed RVs. We were so far from the showers though that we rigged up our trusty bush shower in the trees around our spot
where we had only birds for company.

Our next stop was a somewhat sad and sobering one. Back in July we had read about and seen on TV the horrifying train accident in the middle of the little Canadian town of Lac Megantic where a runaway freight train of crude oil wagons had caught fire and literally exploded after derailing in the town. Nearly 50 people in the town had lost their lives and
pictures had shown the town centre totally destroyed. As it turned out Lac Megantic was slap on our route towards Quebec City so we dropped in there.

After parking Jambo in the main street we walked a few metres, first to the town’s church where we found moving displays of messages of condolence and flowers sent from both local residents and many from other parts of Canada offering support to those who had lost family members in the fireball that wiped out a massive area of the town where the train had derailed, caught fire and then exploded

thumbnail.xlarge.1.1382882080.steamwhistle brewery toronto The last leg of Pan America Overland — Halifax, Canada

Steamwhistle Brewery, Toronto

. Afterwards we wandered slowly along the high barriers still sealing off the area of the town centre that had been obliterated, totally taken aback by the level of damage. In a circle of perhaps 250 metres diameter where buildings had once stood there was absolutely nothing left but rubble, much of it still fire blackened. Where the railway line entered this shattered area and down which the runaway freight train had hurtled into the town there stood one solitary intact freight car, the only one remaining of the dozens that had been laden with crude oil which had been vaporized in the horrendous fireball following the derailment. Police forensics experts were still busy taking samples of the oil in this tanker wagon, this some 6 weeks after the accident. There had been much speculation as to exactly
what was in the freight wagons and whether there was more than heavy crude oil being carried on the doomed train. There was also a continuing debate in the media as to how and why the unmanned train had torn down the hill into the town from its overnight siding where it had been parked by its crew. Whatever the cause, the outcome was worse than tragic and had obviously been hugely traumatic for the inhabitants of the little town. We spent a few minutes near the barriers chatting to a French speaking ambulance man who had been present at the aftermath of the accident and he clearly showed what a devastating effect it had had on him even more than a month later. An attention grabbing sight on the edge of the totally wiped out area was the remains of a pub where people had been sitting outside on its verandah, strewn with just recognizable beer glasses, shattered chairs and tables. Even further away from the epicenter of the explosion one could see whole sides of still standing houses where the
plastic siding had shrivelled and melted in the intense heat of the fireball

thumbnail.xlarge.1.1382882080.breakfast at the van vliets yummy The last leg of Pan America Overland — Halifax, Canada

Breakfast at the Van Vliets. Yummy

. The whole scene was like some awful Dante’s Inferno and yelled “Tragedy” on a scale beyond belief. One just hopes that the authorities get to the bottom of how and why it happened to prevent such a catastrophe from occurring again.

Our next stop was Quebec City, the throbbing heart of French speaking Canada. We discovered an interesting thing about the Quebecois and their independence driven attitudes to the rest of Canada. In all parts of Canada apart from Quebec one finds all signs in public places written in both English and French complying with Canada’s statutes that recognize the equal status of the two languages. But in Quebec finding anything written in English is a rarity, aptly illustrating the fierce determination by the Quebecois to be totally separate from English speaking Canada. It seems the Federal government turns a blind eye to this blatant
bending of the rules.

We loved Quebec City with its old colonial buildings scattered around the foot of the famous Hotel Chateau Frontenac and the big Citadelle nearby, its excellent eating places and brilliant mix of old and new. A good example of the new was the clever use of what would otherwise be an ugly line of grain silos in the harbor

thumbnail.xlarge.1.1382882080.mississauga mixed doubles champions The last leg of Pan America Overland — Halifax, Canada

MIssissauga Mixed Doubles champions?

. The city fathers worked out that the massive sides of the silos could be used as a monster projector screen where the public could watch son et lumiere shows in the evenings. Brilliant! Quebec as the city is simply known, in one of the old native languages of the region means “where the river narrows”. Here the St. Lawrence does in fact narrow as it flows sedately past the old city. Apart from two big, modern road bridges up and downstream from the city the only way to cross to the opposite bank and the suburb of Levis is by ferry. We stayed in the top class Auberge Jeunesse a Lou Lou hostel (N46 42.820 W71 16.274) in nearby Charny on the Levis bank. Apart from the occasional hooting passing train it was a quiet and pleasant base from which to explore the city. We left Jambo parked at the hostel and travelled the 30 minutes or so into town on the bus. The hostel’s informative and ever attentive owner, Andre, also took us into the city in his car on our first day and provided lots of background on its history and details of interesting things to see.

The peaceful Domaine de Maizerets park on the northern edge of the city gave us a chance to stretch our legs, check out the local ducks on its ponds and streams and to see if we could get lost in the park’s maze (we didn’t due to the locals having cut shortcuts through the high hedge walls of the maze!).

One of the more spectacular sights were the Montmorency Falls where the river of the same name plunges over a cliff even higher than Niagara Falls before emptying into the St. Lawrence. We climbed up the timber staircase next to the falls for an impressive view of the falls and of the St. Lawrence rather than take the expensive cable car which takes one to the lip of the falls the lazy way

thumbnail.xlarge.1.1382882080.our lovely mississauga hosts The last leg of Pan America Overland — Halifax, Canada

Our lovely Mississauga hosts


Across the St. Lawrence from the falls is Ile d`Orlean which bisects the river and offers a scenically attractive drive of some 60kms around its coast. We joined the many locals also out for the day doing the same thing. We stopped for a beer at a roadside pub and later ate our picnic lunch near the northern tip of the island before driving back to our hostel.

We bade farewell to Quebec City after having a great time there. Nice people, great food, lots of history and places and buildings to match. In a small way perhaps we can understand the fierce loyalty of the Quebecoise to their language, their roots and their wish to remain largely
independent of English speaking Canada. Bon chance!

We steered Jambo NE along the Route Nationale 20 which parallels the eastern bank of the St. Lawrence for quite a way before branching off inland towards the Nova Scotia coast. Before it did we saw a sign on the side of the road pointing to a micro brewery of which there are now many in Canada. Breughel Microbrasserie was in fact an ancient farmhouse renovated by
Bruno its owner and his wife whilst maintaining its characterful timber interior and period furniture

thumbnail.xlarge.1.1382882080.typical ontario farm buildings The last leg of Pan America Overland — Halifax, Canada

Typical Ontario farm buildings

. They not only brewed small quantities of beer but also offered yummy farm style fare such as paté, homemade sausages and pies. So we drove up their long gravel driveway and sat on their verandah looking out across the fields to the St Lawrence in the distance whilst
enjoying their brew. Rather oddly we discovered much later that Bruno had run foul of the authorities who claimed that his premises were not hygienic and did not meet laid down standards for cleanliness etc! However, we didn’t suffer as a result of our visit.

From there we made our way more to the east via camps sites at Destination Bic (N48 17.807 W68 52.149), Blue Heron (N48 01.094 W66 22.247), and Sandy Point (N47 03.258 W64 59.826). All of which were in their own way fine and averaged out around 24 Canadian dollars a night for a site which usually included wi-fi and hot showers. The weather along the way was, as the weathermen often say, “variable” which meant sometimes warm, sometimes far from it, sometimes sunny but not often, and pretty often rainy. But as we made our way further east the scenery sure made up for any vagaries in the climate.

As usual when we arrived at a campsite and got set up we felt somewhat puny in our little Land Rover when measuring ourselves against the huge rigs the Canadians and their American cousins go “camping” in

thumbnail.xlarge.1.1382882080.the pretty town of stewart ontario The last leg of Pan America Overland — Halifax, Canada

The pretty town of Perth, Ontario

. Why 2 people need a 45 ft coach type RV or 5th wheel type trailer van to camp in is quite beyond me….

At Sandy Point we were devoured by mosquitoes (again) – we honestly thought we had seen the last of them way back west. But this was more than made up for by the beautiful sunset we had laid on for us the evening we arrived.

Next on the itinerary was Prince Edward Island famous for potatoes, sea food and independent minded people rather like those from Newfoundland and Alaska. To get there from the New Brunswick mainland which we had been on or in since leaving Quebec we had to drive for some 15 kms along the amazing Confederation Bridge. Not really a bridge but more a giant raised causeway made of cement and supported on big columns raising it high above the sea.
Quite an engineering achievement.

Once on PEI as everyone calls Prince Edward Island we made our way more or less around it in a clockwise direction firstly stopping off at the wind battered island tip of North Cape. This of course brought back memories of Noord Cap, or North Cape, in Norway which had been our end of trip objective 3 years earlier. The PEI version was nowhere near as high above the sea but it was almost as chilly and tried its best to blow us into the chilly waves breaking onto its shore. We had a quick walk around the promontory and then ducked into the tourist shop to warm up. It sure is a bleak spot with just a lighthouse, the shop and a few antennas to mark the spot. There has to be some link between this wild and remote corner of PEI and the north of Norway as not far from North Cape on PEI we spotted a road sign to the village of Norway

thumbnail.xlarge.1.1382882080.chapel at manoir papineau montebello The last leg of Pan America Overland — Halifax, Canada

Chapel at Manoir Papineau, Montebello


Then it was back down the eastern and northern side of the island to make a one night stop at Cabot Beach Park campsite (N46 33.497 W63 42.405) where even though the wind was still howling in off the sea we managed to hide ourselves behind some thick bush and trees for protection.

PEI is apart from potatoes and interesting characters famous for being the birthplace and home of Lucy Maud Montgomery author of the Anne of Green Gables books, the first of which was published in 1908. Dozens of sequels followed. We stopped first in the little village of Clifton now called New London where Lucy Montgomery was born. We parked next to the house where she was born which is now a museum about her life but sadly it wasn’t open even though we had arrived at 9am when it was supposed to. So we drove a bit further along the road to the larger village of Cavendish where one finds Green Gables, the farm and home of Montgomery’s maternal grandparents with whom she spent much of her life after her mother died when Lucy was little. It was here that Montgomery created the character of Anne and wrote what was to become one of the world’s most famous books about a young girl growing up in a rural community. Many sequels followed over the years until Montgomery died in 1942.

It was interesting walking through the farm buildings and house which have been turned into a sort of shrine to Lucy Maud Montgomery.It’s a lovely spot with an old fashioned English style garden and yes, the house does have green gables. But not unexpectantly, it has become a popular tourist spot and could be endangered by being overexposed to commercial interests

thumbnail.xlarge.1.1382882080.lac megantic quebec The last leg of Pan America Overland — Halifax, Canada

Lac Megantic, Quebec

. We hope not as the story of Lucy Montgomery and her famous books is an inspiring and charming one and deserves protection.

Charlottetown, the capital of Prince Edward Island, was our next port of call. Here we managed to get into the obviously popular Charlottetown Backpackers Hostel (N46 14.163 W63 07.293) a colourful place with a young and enthusiastic crew.

This is a lovely town with lots of attractive timber buildings many dating back to the time when the town was the venue for the signing of the Charlottetown Conference which led to the formation of the Federal Dominion of Canada in 1867. It also boasts a well deserved reputation
of being a food lover’s destination offering lots of good places to eat as well as plenty of good pubs. We found one such pub and enjoyed some really great seafood. At the other end of the culinary scale we found a street vendor near where the cruise ships pull in who sold what were arguably the best hot chips I have ever tasted and which were handed over by the lady proprietor with a huge smile. It was fun wandering the waterfront where we joined a large crowd being entertained by an Argentinian, who was both very funny and multiskilled as a juggler, gymnast, actor and dancer

thumbnail.xlarge.1.1382882080.lac megantic The last leg of Pan America Overland — Halifax, Canada

Lac Megantic


From Charlottetown we headed inland to catch the (horrendously expensive at over $70) Wood Island ferry to the Nova Scotia mainland. For just 25 kms this has to be the most costly ferry crossing we have ever made. Getting there we should have taken the main Highway 1 around the PEI coast but somehow the GPS decided to take us around the scenic route which was
still OK.

Before ending up in Halifax from where we were going to ship the car home we had decided that if time would not allow a trip to Newfoundland we would at least pay a visit to the Cape Breton part of Nova Scotia which from all accounts is similar to Newfoundland. So after driving off the ferry we headed east through the nice old town of Antigonist and turned left to head clockwise around the Cape Breton peninsula. We were getting used to the cruddy, wet weather by now so the insistent rain and grey clouds got mentally put on the back burner even if the visibility sometimes spoiled what would otherwise be stunning views of this most attractive region of Canada. Not quite halfway up the west coast of the peninsula we made a one night stop at a little country motel called the Mountain Brook Motel (N45 55.111 W61 12.855) after enjoying the amusing stories about the founding and heritage of Canada told us by the owner of a nearby restaurant called The Auld Brass Door where we had a late lunch

thumbnail.xlarge.1.1382882080.chateau frontenac quebec city The last leg of Pan America Overland — Halifax, Canada

Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City


Over the next few days we continued around the Cape Breton coast oohing and aahing at the stunning coastal scenery and stopping off at a youth hostel (Cabot Trail Hostel at N46 49.571 W60 48.596) and another motel (Joyce’s Motel and Cabins at N45 39.056 W60 51.275). The rain and low clouds prevented us from driving right to the top of the peninsula as we wouldn’t have seen anything. But the run around the coast, especially the east coast, of this eye catching and totally unspoilt part of Canada was still worth it.

We briefly retraced our route up the pensinsula before turning off it to the south at Monastery and heading down the Nova Scotia east coast on first highway 16 then highway 316 towards Halifax. This has to be one of the best coastal drives scenically anywhere in the world. We could go back and do it again and again. That said, there are some parts of it where the road
surface is, to put it simply, in a despicable state. The section west of Goldboro on the 211 before one gets to the chain ferry is seriously deformed and rutted with whole sections of tar broken with grass growing through it, so much so that it is downright dangerous to drive on at anything more than 40 kms/hr. It´s interesting that our Aussie friends Chris and Elayne had when they were in Nova Scotia on their monster overlanding trip gone public about the
poor state of the Nova Scotia roads and had initially been criticized for saying so by officialdom. But apparently many locals had sided with Chris & Elayne saying it was time someone spoke up about the state of some of the province´s roads. Sadly, it seems no one paid much attention to this negative aspect of tourism in that part of the world as the roads, especially the bit I mention here, are often in poor shape

thumbnail.xlarge.1.1382882080.quebec city The last leg of Pan America Overland — Halifax, Canada

Quebec City

. Odd, as much exposure and publicity is given to the coastal roads in Nova Scotia as being attractive tourist routes.
Attractive yes, road conditions not so good.

The historic town of Sherbrook some 15 kms inland from the heavily indented coast was our next overnight stop and we rather spoilt ourselves at the Daysago B&B (N45 08.596 W61 59.195) in the town staying in their lovely little garden cottage overlooking the river that runs through the town. What a gorgeous spot! A part of the town has been restored to its original colonial style, is closed to traffic and is only accessible on foot and by paying an entry fee. But the rest of it is also well worth seeing as is the fascinating old water wheel powered lumber mill. This was totally rebuilt some years ago and today carries on in business sawing local timber for construction purposes, its old style, belt driven saws and machinery all
powered by the big water wheel outside. We chatted with the two local stalwarts busy keeping an eye on the big vertical saw as it sliced its way through a 20 ft length of pine. It costs nothing to visit the mill and whilst listening to the creaks and groans of the equipment and the thump of the mechanism inching the logs past the saw one can quite easily transport oneself back in time and imagine oneself standing there when the mill was in its infancy

thumbnail.xlarge.1.1382882080.montmorency falls just outside quebec city The last leg of Pan America Overland — Halifax, Canada

Montmorency Falls, just outside Quebec City


Our last stop before Halifax was at Murphy´s Campground (N44 46.538 W62 45.495, a quiet camping spot near the water which has been in the Murphy family for several generations. They have an attention grabbing bar cum recreation room whose walls are lined with some amusing memorabilia and from where the present Mr Murphy dispenses classic Irish humour. He also offers boat rides around the bay and to nearby islands, fishing trips and even mussel evenings around a campfire near the slipway. It was too cold that night for us to sit up around the fire and we were tired enough to want to hit the sack anyway.

We seem to get involved in coincidences on frequent occasions as it was here that we again ran into Sandy and Waveney from New Zealand whom we had first met at the backpackers in Charlottetown,  then later at the Cabot Trail hostel on Cape Breton and later still at a roadside eating place. They were travelling in a hired car around this bit of Canada and we just kept bumping into one another. Whilst we camped at Murphy´s Campground they wallowed in luxury in the little apartment above the boatstore!

And so from there we finally did the last few kms into Halifax, the capital city of Nova Scotia. We had previously organized the shipping of Jambo home from there with the same company, the Warrant Group in Liverpool, that had shipped the camper belonging to our English friends Chris and Janet from Halifax to the UK a few weeks before us. We sussed out where the
forwarding agents´ premises were just outside the city and where we would be loading Jambo into his container a few days later

thumbnail.xlarge.1.1382882080.breughel micro brewery The last leg of Pan America Overland — Halifax, Canada

Breughel micro brewery

. We had also arranged for marine insurance cover from a local broker in Halifax. The hostel in the city where we were to stay whilst getting Jambo packed up was owned by the same guy who had just bought the Cabot Trail hostel at which we had stayed earlier and whom we had met there.

But we still had a few days before we had to get the car into its container so headed a bit further down the coast to explore. The atmospheric town of Lunenburg was one of our stops where we walked around the town admiring the period timber buildings, the waterfront with its mix of fishing boats, pleasure craft and sailing boats and also did a bit of people watching! It is here that the famous old fishing schooner “Bluenose” used to be based and which was held in awe by people far and wide as it chalked victory after victory in the races amongst other fishing vessels of the day.

Another stop was made at Peggy´s Cove where tragically Swissair flight 111 went down some years ago with the loss of all on board. Today a simple granite memorial stands on the rocks looking out to sea to where the plane went down. We also walked around the little fishing village at Peggy´s Cove whose fishermen had turned out en masse to assist with the search
for survivors

thumbnail.xlarge.1.1382882080.running repairs The last leg of Pan America Overland — Halifax, Canada

Running repairs

. A sad and sombre moment in our trip.

We camped at two spots on the coast beyond Halifax – Graves Island Provincial Park (N44 33.588 W64 12.287) and King Neptune Campground (N44 30.974 W63 56.135) not far from Peggy´s Cove with lots of nice grass and decent showers and where we thought we initially had a nice unobstructed view of the ocean from our site – until an enormous RV pulled in
next to us and obliterated our view!

We got back to Halifax, checked in to the hostel and then on the appointed day drove Jambo around to Guysborough Transport who would secure the car in the container after I had driven it in. As usual, I gave Jambo a pat on the rump saying “Well done old soldier  – again. Another big overland trip successfully completed”. We still find it an emotional moment putting Jambo in a container to ship him home: must be getting too old and sentimental…..

After that we wandered the town, joined the throngs on the waterfront boardwalk, many from one of the huge cruise ships docked in Halifax for a day and visited the excellent Maritime Museum where we read about the colossal explosion of a ship in the port back in 1917

thumbnail.xlarge.1.1382882080.typical north american camping rigs The last leg of Pan America Overland — Halifax, Canada

Typical north American camping rigs

. This was big enough to flatten much of the town and was considered the biggest man made explosion other than the atom bomb attacks on Japan. We climbed up to the Citadel to get
an outstanding view of this pleasant city and its thriving harbor. Halifax is considered to be one of the most expanding transport hubs on the north American east coast combining air, sea and train links very effectively. We drank a few local beers and after a couple of false starts had some good meals out when we weren´t cooking for ourselves in the hostel.

A couple of days before Jambo was to head out in his container on the “Maersk Penang” to wend his way home to Cape Town via Bremerhaven we caught a cab to Halifax´s airport to board an Icelandair flight to London via Reykjavic. We were to spend a couple of weeks in England before continuing by air to Cape Town to await Jambo´s arrival and to retrieve our
home from our tenants at the end of September.

And so this brings our blog to an end. In some ways a sad moment, in others a proud one, but above all we are truly grateful that we survived the trip, meeting so many great people and on the whole enjoyed almost every moment of it

thumbnail.xlarge.1.1382882080.blue heron camping charlo The last leg of Pan America Overland — Halifax, Canada

Blue Heron Camping, Charlo

. Almost every moment? Sure, there were some moments we would sooner forget when we were getting in one another´s hair, a few dodgy incidents such as the overeager bear wanting our supper, and lots of fun times where
humour and laughter flowed.

So here´s to the next jaunt, wherever that might be. For now it´s home to Cape Town via the UK and back to a “normal” lifestyle for a while.

PS. We got back to Cape Town on 2nd October glad to be home. That is glad to be coming back to our home. Sadly, when we opened the door we found that our South African tenants had, unlike the delightful American couple who had rented our home when we did our earlier Cape to Cape trip, left our house in a mess. Several items of old and treasured furniture had been damaged, almost every wall in the house had been disfigured by the clumsy
insertion of picture nails which were either bent or had cratered the wall, an unbelievable amount of kitchenware was either missing or damaged or had been replaced by totally unmatched items. The floors were filthy as were most of the windows, the kitchen oven and fume extractor. Even our Weber BBQ was left full of old ash which took me nearly 3 hours to chip and scrub off its interior. One wonders how people can live like that. The fact that the tenants are now doing their utmost to avoid forfeiting a part of their deposit to pay for what has to be put right and which in all cases stemmed from their occupation of our home for 18 months is truly upsetting.It makes one wonder why a so called pair of professionals could act in such a cavalier manner. Well, we`ve certainly learnt a lesson and would advise others to be cautious if intending to follow this route.

About Panamericalandy

Starting with the original London-Sydney Marathon in 1968 driving 10,000 miles in 10 days the bug for overland travel (at a much slower pace!) bit hard. We've driven throughout much of southern and east Africa in a tD5 Defender, then changed to the recent Puma version and first drove Cape Agulhas in South Africa to North Cape, Norway in 2009/10. Now engaged on another long one from Ushuaia, Patagonia to Deadhorse, Alaska over 18 months. The two of us travel alone for much of the time but inevitably meet other overlanders along the way and much enjoy swopping stories, info, fun times and others.We live in Cape Town, South Africa. Is there a nicer city to call home?

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