If you are thinking – it must be difficult to plan an East Coast road trip, with 3 pugs, during a pandemic – you wouldn’t be wrong. Car rental, campsite reservations, hotel restrictions, border closures and provincial reopening plans all had to be accounted for to make this trip a reality.
I will be posting a blog of each day of our trip. You can sign up on the right to be notified when the new blog post is ready.
I started in January with the car rental booking. I wanted to use my Airmiles that I had been saving. January was a good time to book for a July reservation. At first I was planning on going in June like last time. But I remembered how things were in June 2020 and felt like July would be a better time for lockdowns to be lifted. It was a roll of the dice.
I also ordered the Discovery Pass. When camping, I choose either Provincial or National campgrounds so the Discovery Pass gives me free entrance to the National parks. Also it opens up historic sites in different cities that I might not know of.
Once the car was booked I started to determine where I would go. It was still a roll of the dice back then. I was counting on the vaccines, and the goodness of human nature to make it doable. When Pfizer announced a delay in shipment as they were retooling their production facilities, I thought maybe even July would be stretch.
My plan was to use secondary roads that went along the coast. I would have a regular view of the ocean, small fishing villages to visit and fresh seafood to dine on.
The initial plan was New Brunswick, PEI and Nova Scotia. Their campsites were all closed to making reservations. However, Quebec was open for reservations. I added 4 campgrounds, 2 in the Gaspe, 2 in central Quebec. I also included hotel bookings Victoriaville and Quebec City
I planned the trip section by section, date by date. In this way I was able to book the hotel rooms and get special pandemic rates. Of course I had to find pet friendly hotels but Delta Marriot is good for pet policy.
Now the waiting set in. As each province opened their campsite reservation system, I logged in and booked. I already had chosen the sites so it didn’t take long. Each province and the National Parks Canada for the federal parks had different opening dates. They had a cancellation policy so if I had to call the whole thing off I would only have to pay a small administration fee.
I managed to book all the campsites I wanted. Next was the reopening plans. I had the Ontario/Quebec border, then the Atlantic Bubble opening. Unfortunately, there would be no Atlantic Bubble opening like 2020. Each province had their own definition of risk factors to determine when they would open to the rest of Canada.
I was planning on exploring the trails in both the parks and the cities. But, I had to consider Raisin. At 14 she can’t walk as much as she did 2 years ago. So I purchased a trail stroller with air tires to cushion the bumps on her rump. We will be on the easy trails but still need something sturdy. It’s also large enough I can put both Raisin and Greta in (Greta being a small size pug). We took it for a test drive and Raisin loved it.
I’ll also bring the K9 Sportsac for Greta. Because she spent so many years in a cage, her leg muscles are not quite up to the long walks. The heart is willing but the body says time for a rest. So Raisin can stretch out in the stroller while Greta hangs in the back, taking in the view. Eve, on the other hand, is very athletic and loves to explore the trails.
After the provinces announced there reopening plans, I was able to continue planning. New Brunswick would open first. They would welcome me, from Ontario, on July 1st. Of course it was based on the vaccination percentage, but I had 2 months to go so was not worried. Then PEI dropped their bombshell – they would not open to Canada until September.
PEI’s business leaders were concerned about tourism. I wrote an email to the business association to let them know what I had planned, where I would go but having to cancel my plans. I let them know to add my voice to their concerns.
I cancelled my PEI campground and hotel reservations. Now this left me with a gap. Nova Scotia was not opening until July 14. So I had to fill the time until then. That is when I went back to New Brunswick and revisited some spots I had looked past before. Found some neat, interesting places that I’m looking forward to sharing.
For example, I learned about the Roosevelt Campobello International Park. It was the summer retreat for Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. It is located on Campobello Island in New Brunswick but is owned by both the Canadian and U.S. governments. From there I discovered the Herring Cove Provincial Park. The trip was coming together.
However New Brunswick required travellers to submit a travel registration form in order to enter the province. In the first one I filled out I put down all the dates and locations I would be at. I let them know I had a one dose vaccination and would be fully vaccinated by the time I arrived. It came back rejected. Go figure.
I contacted the Travel Registration office to enquire. This began a lengthy email thread over the next two months. It was an automatic system that rejected me because I did not fit into the qualifying stream for the current month. It could not handle requests for future visits.
Finally, the 3rd week in June, the province opened up to the rest of Canada. I submitted the form and the return stated I had to self isolate. After another email exchange (in which I copied the Office of the Premier) they discovered a flaw in their registration process (I had helped them to discover it). They had not put in a question about being vaccinated. I got a call from the Travel Registration office, gave them my vaccination info, and they sent me the correct approval.
I should take a moment to pay tribute to my Merrell MOAB trail shoes. They took me all the way to Vancouver on the Western road trip June 2019, Halifax and then Newfoundland in October. Finally down to Peru in February, 2020. There were also all the dog walks in 2020. But, for this trip, I needed a new pair. The best thing you can have on a trip like this is a good pair of trail shoes.
I had rechecked my hotel bookings because it had been 3 months. Turned out the hotel in Victoriaville changed its pet policy and no longer allowed dogs. Originally the idea was to use Victoriaville as a sleep over night so as not to drive right through from Ontario to New Brunswick. Instead of Victoriaville, I switched to Quebec City to drive along the north shore of the St. Lawrence from Ottawa. I could then take the pugs to the Plains of Abraham.
As of this moment Nova Scotia is still closed to me. I will monitor for when they reopen to the rest of Canada and what requirements will be required. By July 14th (which is their planned Phase 4) when I’m ready to cross, they should be fully open to vaccinated visitors.
In the meantime, I’ve booked some events in advance at different cities. I’ll be posting regular blogs to this site of the trip. Sign up on the right side to be notified when there is a new blog posted.
Now, I just need to get a haircut.