Finally, Camel is free!  Friday morning we were pottering around the shops, buying gas for the stove and a gallon of diesel to get the truck moving. (we saw a few interesting things on the way)

This looked like an unlikely scenario


I thought my friend Josie might like this



These seemed a bit unfair, although its hard to imagine the average deer in a rage



and this car was attracting a lot of attention


It seems to be an art project by an autistic woman.

We had an urgent message to contact the guys at the depot in Saco and when we did they were worried about getting Camel out of the container.  We hightailed it down there and it was a real delight to finally see our car. 


The packers in England had secured her so tightly that it was virtually impossible to release the tie down straps.  They needed someone inside the car to steer it while they fiddled about, and I was the only one to slim enough (no problems with American-sized portions so far, then).  It was OK when they went forward to release the front straps (not easy, but do-able) but they needed the fork lift to pull the car back to release the back straps as they had managed to worm themselves under the extra fuel tank brackets.  Tim had to borrow a spanner to loosen the tank bolts on it so they could get them out.  Camel was at a slight angle and the exit ramp was the exact width of the car tyres.  They tried pulling her out with the fork lift and I tried to follow instructions but a very loud yell from Tim told me to hit the brakes and it turned out the tyre was half way off the ramp. (Can you imagine the depression following the destruction of Camel after all this?) Tim managed to squeeze back to put in some oil and the filler cap was now exposed so he could get some diesel in, so we could start  and drive the car.  I was starting to shake (and not quite jibber) in my usual, calm crisis response, so Tim told me to get out and he managed to climb in through the window.  Between us and the two guys at the depot (they knew what they were doing, but I had to shout for Tim to hear, as they were too polite to bellow), we managed to get her safely out, all in one piece.  It is amazing to think that, after all this hassle and stress, we can finally drive our own car in America.


We had to try several campsites before we found one with any space, but we ended up in the very pleasant Old Orchard Beach campground, which has minimal facilities for tents (apart from a pretty good washroom and wifi up by the reception). 


Our set up caused a minor stir and we had three or four sets of people come up and talk to us about what we were up to, including one couple who saw us driving into the site and searched the whole place until they found us.

The campground really filled up over the weekend, with couples on motorbikes, happy families, a party of women and children celebrating a 13th birthday, and several large parties of young adults.  Nearly everyone had a fire on the go; every pitch is provided with a fire pit and you can buy firewood at reception. I suspect that it is going to be a good way to stay warm and keep the bugs at bay.  The wood they use (beach?) seems to give off very little smoke, so it’s not too smelly either.  The weather isn’t wonderful, as the rain seems to switch on and off at will, apparently it’s usually a lot hotter and very humid, so perhaps it’s better this way. Although it meant to be quiet after 10pm here, the young adult groups were in very loud part mood and I think the last ones gave in at about 3 30 in the morning.

We have spent the weekend sorting out our gear and (at last) just living outside.  It’s fantastic being back in the Tentipi; it feels like coming home.  I am finding it very hard to wipe the smile off my face, just to be camping again, but I am really excited that we are, at last, going to be able to explore on our own.  We brought our own stove with us, but we had to buy a new gas canister, as you are (understandably) not allowed to transport gas in a container.  Unfortunately, despite buying the correct tube and a regulator, the flame kept blowing itself out.  We ended up buying a whizzy Coleman hyper-flame stove that really belts out the heat. It looks like we are all set to head up into Canada on Monday