About Us

The Open Road Project exists to spread kindness and meet the needs of strangers. We travel in a 1979 GMC Vanguard named Lily. These are our stories.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The You Ehs of Eh.

Once we left Peticodiac it was time to embrace the last leg of our jouney. We knew that this part of the adventure would likely contain the most uncertainty, namely due to the always entertaining border crossing.

Our drive through the last bit of Canada was smooth and we had a nice McDonalds meal with a hitchhiker we picked up. We were very confused by our first interactions with this man, but quickly realized that he was deaf. It was cool conversing by writing back and forth, and showing each other maps on our iPhone to find out where he wanted to go. He was an interesting guy to say the least, and we left him some money for a hearing-eye dog. Yes, that is an actual thing, he had pledge papers and everything.

When we arrived at the border, there were no other patrons, so we knew they were going to have fun with us. Lily is a serious hippy-mobile and, especially with me on board, we're a bunch of hippies.  They asked us if we had any drugs on board more times than I can count, and even told us they were bringing in the dogs. I was excited to see them snoop around in there, but as it turns out, we called their bluff and no pups came sniffing. After we each had an airport style body search and a lot more questioning, we were happily on our way into the land of Dunkin Doughnuts and cheap petrol.

As we ventured into the unknown, we were surprised by some of the poverty we passed through in the northeastern states. You could tell that a lot of the towns we passed through had been abandoned ever since the factories left, and it was sort of eerie.

Despite the odd aura, Lily was happy to be drinking American gas and we were just as happy to be drinking classic nasty American coffee shop Joe.

After it started to rain, we picked up a really cool dude who doing a bike trip to various historic sites in the area.  I'm glad we stopped because although usually bikers are riding for a reason, this guy was really grateful we stopped. He also had some awesome stories. Just that morning he had been visiting hermits out in the wilderness. It was awesome for us to hear about how these hermits lived, and I totally forgot that such people actually existed. He told us about their life styles and attitudes and some of their stories. He also hadn't eaten since he shared some cornmeal, water and salt with one of the hermits that morning. The way he was describing this meal was even nastier than it sounds in writing, and we weren't surprised when he told us he couldn't keep it down. This gave us the chance to share a meal with him which was awesome. While we were in the grocery store, the folks must have felt pity on us since they tossed us a free BBQ chicken which was perfect for sharing!

Our coolest memory of our time with this humble, simple fellow was when he took us to he secret fishing spot deep in the woods. Since the alewives were spawning, there was a spot where the current would swirl the fish around and you could catch the little guys with your bare hands. Sadly, when we got there, the fish had left for the day, but we still had a sweet hike and saw some neat wildlife along the way.

We said farewell to our new friend and kept on towards our next destination, Boston Massachusetts. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

National Parks

On our way out of Canada, we stopped at the Bay of Fundy National Park and Rocks National Park. What would an Open Road adventure be without taking some time to enjoy the great outdoors? We spent the night parked outside of the gates of Rocks National Park, and cooked a delicious meal in the moonlight. We may have snuck into the park after dark to get an up close look at the flower pot rocks, but we won't post photo evidence of such activities on this public blog.

It was a beautiful and relaxing time.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Ten Thousand Adventures

Before we hit the road a few weeks ago, Jordan had been proactive in sending emails to people out east who might need a hand. He was able to find a good hook up with the Ten Thousand Villages store in Peticodiac New Brunswick.

If you are unfamiliar with Ten Thousand Villages, they are an organization that specializes in selling fair trade goods made by disadvantaged artisans. The products they sell are made by over 120 different people groups in 38 countries worldwide. Their Wikipedia page has some great info if you wanna learn more about this win-win-win organization.

The location in Peticodiac is special because it is not just a retail store, but also the warehouse that sends goods to all east coast locations. When we arrived, we were shown around, and learned quickly that it was a seriously slick operation. Mostly “pop-up stores” are sent to cities on the east coast, so we saw how they set these up and even helped build and stain some wooden jewelry displays

The people that are in charge of operations are given an apartment above the store and the cabinets needed painting, so we got to it. The work was a little tedious since all handles had to be removed and each section needed to be sanded, but we were happy to do it so someone else wouldn't have to. We also took up an old tile floor that was going to be replaced.

The time we spent there there flew by, especially due to the breaks we spent slurping fair trade coffee and chatting with the one worker Sarah.

When we went to lunch at Subway down the street, we passed a house where a man was doing some yard work. On our way back, Dylan and I stopped to see if he needed a hand. Sadly, he was almost done and could have used our help an hour earlier, but, we did help him with the last of the leaves and had a great chat with him. Bob McGrath heats his house with firewood and taught us all about how to stack wood properly. We also chatted about lifes adventures and he now drives tour bus part time in his retirement. We got to meet his wife and daughter and ended up trading a jar of homemade jam for a bottle of homemade wine plus the most delicious cookies that have graced our taste buds in years.

So Peticodiac NB turned out to be one of those towns that you would never expect to be so neat. From here we were headed to Fundy National Park to witness some classic east coast beauty.

Hanging out with some dudes in a metal band we met.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Arborist

While we were chatting at our Victoria Day bonfire, Dan’s dad asked us if we had plans for the morning. He was in luck, because well, we hardly ever have plans. He is an arborist and had a tree that was cut up and in need of relocation. Easy peasy.

We woke up early, enjoyed some delicious coffee from a percolator, and headed over to the job site. If you haven't had percolated coffee in a tin, stovetop percolator, you really need to percolate some up, as the percolating is pleasant for the palate.

Anyway, there is an old German saying, 'viele hande macht schnelle ende!' which translates (with less rhyme) to 'many hands make light work.' It’s also likely that you have heard this saying, but it’s fun to pretend like I’m sharing wisdom. We had the whole tree in the trailer in a matter of minutes, and we were rewarded with some made in Sackville ginger snaps. They were delicious and the box was gone rather quickly.

This was also a cool job, because the tree was on the property of a small museum, and we were given an exclusive early morning tour. There was a really neat old book collection and some great models of what the town used to look like. History is cool, I promise.

After we had looked around, we took the wood from the museum to a farm just outside of town. But this isn’t your ordinary farm, no sir, this is a very interesting new project that some passionate folks are starting. Although in its infancy, the goal is to have people who have varying degrees of autism live on the farm.  These folks will learn to cultivate the land and live in community together. It was a fascinating project for us to hear about and it was encouraging to see an idea that looks to integrate, rather than segregate. It was also nice that since we helped with the job, the farm wasn't charged any money! Win-win-win, love when that happens.

Once we finished stacking the wood, it was time to say goodbye to Sackville. What a great town! Big thanks to everyone who welcomed us with open arms! It was also nice that it was only about 10:00 and we had already had a productive morning filled with learning and labour. Usually at 10, we would be just starting the day…

Also, just as a side note, The Arborist would make a cool band name, so dibs.

Lobstie Candids

Jer, Dyl, Calv, Jord

Calvin sees a big one!
The Legendary Lobster.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

On The Farm

Here are some pictures from our time at Nature's Route Farm. Click to enlarge!

The road we started to build.

Dan rocking the tractor.

Wide Stance.


Monday, June 4, 2012

Nature's Route

Once the weekend was over, we started to head back towards home, which is always an odd thing. It was also comforting somehow, since it felt like we had been on the road for well over a week, so we knew there were many adventures to be had.

There was however, one elephant in the room that Dylan made sure to bring to our attention: we had to go back through New Brunswick. Our experience the first time around was rainy and uneventful, but I knew that the province just had to have something to offer us.

Blair had told us about this farm near his hometown and he had a friend who worked there. He told us to give Dan a call, since the extra hands are always nice. So we called Dan from 'Nature's Route Farm,' looking to finally do some labour for someone who needed a hand (Remember, when we were in PEI farmer MacDonald didn't need us at his slick potato operation and told us to enjoy the island. We were starting to feel pretty lazy).

A very chipper Dan answered the phone and gave us directions, "Pass the cattle ranch and then it's the farm with the white mailbox out front!" By now we were getting used to the directions that are given out, and we rolled into the long driveway just a few minutes later.

When we arrived, Dan was very excited to meet us and our RV felt right at home on the quaint farm lot. The farm is run by a couple (who lives on property) and Dan is the only employee. There was plenty to do, especially as the season is just starting.

To start, Dylan and I were prepping the onion seedlings to be planted, because the weather was supposed to be perfect for getting them in the ground. While this was going on, Jordan and Calvin were busy moving rocks that had been churned up during the installation of the new irrigation system.

By the time Dylan and I finished, the weather had changed and we wouldn't be able to plant today. It was neat learning about all of the different factors that effect how crops grow, and I can imagine it would be frustrating waiting for the unpredictable weather to be just right.

So for the rest of the afternoon, we all hauled rocks with Dan. Just as a side note, this guy was a machine. It was clear that he was not only good at what he does but has a passion for it as well.

The rocks that we picked and dug up were taken down to where the irrigation pond is, and we started to fashion a road with them. This reminded me of how annoying it would have been to build cobblestone roads back in the day, but it was very neat to see it take shape. It takes a lot of rocks!

Since we arrived at the farm in the middle of the afternoon, before we knew it, it was time for dinner. We were graciously invited to have dinner at the house. Our excitement peaked for one main reason: we were on a vegetable farm.  The stir fry was by far the most nutritional meal we had eaten in days. The veggies were delicious and the rhubarb crisp we had for dessert was absolutely top notch.

After dinner, Dan invited us to his place to a bonfire. This was perfect as we were looking for a nice way to spend Victoria Day. We knew all our friends would be back home at the Virgil Stampede enjoying fireworks, so it was nice that we could have a big fire and meet some great folks from Sackville. We played guitar, ate smores & candy and it was overall a great time.

Although he was still skeptical right until the very end of the day, Dylan's opinion of the province was finally redeemed when a  bunch of folks went for a midnight dip in Silver Lake. Apparently, the cold water was invigorating.

Oh, and don't worry mom, we got to shower at Dan's house after working all day.

Shower Count: 3 in 10 days. Not bad, not bad at all.

Pics to come.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Sailing on the Bluenose

When we woke up Sunday morning, we went to check out this church, Deep Water, which met in the local movie theatre. A few more small world moments occured during the walk over. As we were walking down the busy street, we heard someone say from behind us, "Excuse me, are you guys The Open Road Project?" Well that felt pretty cool. It was Keira! (Blair's friend who had offered to make us dinner while we were in Halifax) She remembered our faces from this here blog, so it was really neat that we were crossing paths and got to meet! She was running some errands, but we made dinner plans and then found the theatre. That was when we randomly saw Jenni, a girl who went to high school with Dylan, Jordan and I. We had planned on meeting up, but due to our lack of internet connection, hadn't set anything up. Somehow everything always works out!

After church, we decided to take a day trip to Lunenburg to visit the beloved Bluenose. For our readers who aren't Canadian (or who could care less about history), the Bluenose is the ship that is stamped onto every Candian 10 cent coin.

Although our visit to Lunenburg was not incredibly eventful, our experiences with the hitchhikers we picked up during the hour-long drive were enough to make the trip worthwhile. First we picked up Andre, a sweet dude who had just moved to Lunenburg. He ended up being our tour guide and although he hadn't lived there long, he showed us everything worth seeing. We went to the Bluenose, which was currently being restored and living under a giant dome. It would have been nice to board the ship or see it in the water, but we quickly realized that none of our adventurous plans for sailing on the Bluenose would become a reality. Then we checked out a wooden boat builders shop, which was neat to see, especially for Calvin who builds wooden boats himself.

Soon after Andre came aboard, we picked up another hitcher, Brad. He was without a doubt the most interesting person we met during our two week trip. We had an awesome time listening to his stories and philosophies. He left us with two things, the first being a four day supply of the seaweed that sustains him in an old ziploc freezer bag, the second being a challenge to turn Lily into a solar/ pedal powered vehicle.

We also met a lovely lady, Susan, at a small cafe on the main drag. Since she was closing up, and told us she had about two hours of close up to do, we offered to help her tidy the shop and do the dishes. However to our dismay, the only thing she let us do was have a free coffee and the best peanut butter nanaimo bars known to mankind. She said that was the way we could help her recover from a bad day, so how could we refuse? Thanks so much for your kindness Susan!

Next time you find yourself in Lunenburg, check it out!
We made it back to Halifax in time to have a lovely dinner with our new friend Keira whom we had met only that morning. Dinner was on the table, wow. Sometimes I feel like people are more kind to us than we are to them. That's also why I love the road so much, there are so many things we can learn from the people around us if we just take the time and effort to ask questions and get to know people.

We had a great night with Keira and her friend Pam who dropped in later to meet the "dudes from Ontario." Although we didn't make it any further east than Halifax, we were more than happy with the outcome.

So after our relaxing long weekend, we all felt it was time to break a sweat and get some work done.

Dylan doing what he does.