Brewer's Maritimes trip 2008by Betty Brewer
This log was posted as a series of messages in the RV Forum. You can view Betty's original daily reports and photos here.
June 14, 2008
Russ Mahoney, Terry and I plan to cross the International Bridge here in Sault Ste. Marie, MI to Canada in the morning heading to our adventure in the Maritimes. I will attempt to post an entry daily but entries may be less reliable as I am retired and want no schedules. We thank those RV Forum members who will guide us from their previous trips or from their recent posts.
I've checked with my tour leader, Russ. He thinks we will be in Southern New Brunswick in mid to late September. We are on a mad dash to to Newfoundland to start. Our next stop is in Ottawa to meet up with the Pally's and friends we met on our Yucatan Caravan.
June 15, 2008
It is official. We are in Canada. We crossed over on the International Bridge at 9 am this morning. It was foggy with very little traffic in sight. The border was the easiest we have ever crossed. A toll booth set up, had one very friendly woman asking the standard questions. What is your citizenship, where are you going, how long will you stay? Do you have firearms, alcohol tobacco on board? Have a nice trip! She gave us directions to the Interstate we wanted.
Whew was I glad that went well. I did not want to lose any food or beverage on board given the costs of everything these days. We are on Highway 17 heading east. We had a long drive today over 250 miles which is way more than we have been doing and I was tired. Scenery is pretty. Some parts are like a green tunnel but the green on the trees is that crisp spring color. Lots of standing water and many many lakes along the road to break up the scenery. We are staying in North Bay for the night in a Wal Mart parking lot. We are making time to meet up with friends in Ottawa. Terry and I commented on how much easier it is to travel in Canada than in Mexico. We can read the signs and the roads are fine. I'm going to get to brush up on my french!
June 16, 2008 Ottawa, Ontario Canada
Hello friends and framily. We are in Day 2 of our Canadian travels. I wasnt going to post anything daily but I kept thinking of Margis encouragement . so here goes. We left our Wal-Mart Campground early this morning. Now who ever thinks Wal-Mart camp grounds are a bargain at FREE, think again. I spent $ in Wal-Mart as well as at the local Independent Market in the parking lot. But I guess I did need groceries for the trip ahead.
The travel today was a mere 200 miles but the scenery was spectacular. Every mile or so there would be an opening in the tall pine trees to reveal a post card perfect lake that reflected the trees and the sky in the calm waters. I wish I was an author who could paint a picture for you as it was as pretty as it gets. The bridges we crossed had lovely rushing streams over small falls and were so picturesque. We saw a small red fox crossing the road at one point. The Canadian Highway 17 is mostly 2 lane freeway. We slow down for the towns to meet their speed limit but we seem to be the only ones to obey the speed limits. Guess they dont care about the cost of fuel. Gas prices seem to be getting less expensive today as we traveled east. But that is relative. The least expensive sign we saw for regular gas was $ 1.30.9 (per liter). Converting that to US gallons I get $ 4.94 cents a gallon.
We have not yet had to fuel up with diesel so I cant give you that report. Bottom line. Who cares? Not that money is no object for us, but we have committed to this adventure and it will be pay as you go. We checked in to Recreation land RV Park east of Ottawa and will to connect with friends who live in Ottawa tomorrow. Only problem is that it is raining cats and dogs. Thunder and lightening too. In fact I am composing this offline as we have no internet right now. For those of you who may come another time the RV park is big rig friendly with satellite availability ( weather permitting) and they have free wi-fi. It is Recreationland Tent And Trailer park, Cumberland, Ontario (613) 833-2974. WEB SITE WWW.REC-LAND.COM
I am taking advantage of my 50 amp service tonight and baking a chicken casserole. Not that what I have for meals is so interesting but when we pay extra for full 50 amp service I want to use all the utilities I have paid for.
Just heard from Fern and Annette, from our Yucatan trip. They will lead us on tour tomorrow through the sights of Ottawa. Life continues to be good.
June 17 and June 18, 2008 Ottawa
Despite the pouring rain of the past 2 days we have been having great experiences. The RV lifestyle affords us the opportunity to meet the BEST people. We are in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, which is NOT part of our Maritime plans so everything we heard and saw here was a bonus.
We met a couple on our Yucatan trip, Fern and Annette, who live just outside of Ottawa.(very near our Recreationland Campground) They were born in Quebec, speak fluent French and were our tour guides on Tuesday. Ottawa is the Capitol of Canada and 50% of workers here are employed in a governmental position. We toured Parliament Hill, which is the epicenter of Canadas political scene. ( a phrase taken right from the tour guide) The gothic architecture is impressive as are many of the buildings in Ottawa. We saw the American Embassy , heavily fortified a massive yet plain building. We saw the Rideau Canal that is an 8 mile long ice skating venue in winter. We saw streets dedicated to shopping( Sparks Street Mall) , farmers market, fresh flowers, restaurants and night life. We saw the most impressive of museums. It is said there are more museums here than anywhere else in Canada. We determined that we would have to stay for over a year to see them all. Our time was short so we did not take in any of the museums but I must tell you I have marked Ottawa as a place to return. This is a beautiful big City but with easy access. (Marcia you and Lindsey would love it her for your mother daughter weeks) The icing on the cake with our visit with Fern and Annette was a trip to their home on the water near Ottawa River. Fern built the home did all of the impressive woodwork and Annette has become a master gardener upon her retirement. The rain denied our trip up the river on their pontoon boat but we had such a good time. Fern introduced Terry to a fast food treat, French fires smothered in cheese curd topped with gravy. I called it something but our friend today said I liked prostitutes so I am no longer confident in my French pronunciations.
On day 2 in Ottawa, June 18, 2008 we had the pleasure of visiting with Steve and Ginette Pally , who lived in Montreal for years and have now been living in a luxury high rise condo in Ottawa for 4 years with winter visits to their winter home in Titusville, Florida. Following a delightful lunch at Robbies, their favorite Italian Restaurant, Ginette graciously drove us through the major highlights of Ottawa. It was a treat for Terry to not be the driver. Their car is a Mercedes crossover, SUV and very luxurious. Russ is now demanding better auto accommodations for his rides with us ! Ginette navigated traffic, one way streets, road closures and of course pouring rain. We again saw Parliament Hill , stopped to see the locks on Rideau Canal, noted Fairmont Chateau Laurier, drove by the National Gallery of Canada with its big spider sculpture out front. I could go on and on but all I can say now is VISIT OTTAWA. It is on my list of places to return!
We stayed an additional night here at Recreation land . This park is quite suitable for big rigs and one of the few within access of the city. Betty
June 19, Quebec City
We had our first diesel fuel fill up this morning in Canada. We paid $ 1.42.9 per liter. This meant $330.10 US for us as we took on 62.8 gallons. This translates to $5.26 per gallon. Gulp!!!
Today I felt like we entered a foreign country! We crossed over in the Province of Quebec and they use French exclusively. (None of those English translations on road signs.) We traveled mostly in rain and right through the middle of Montreal. We felt it was just like driving through Los Angeles but Montreal only has 3 lanes of stopped traffic in the direction you are going vs the 6 lanes of stopped LA traffic. We are checked into the Camping Aeroport RV Park in a semi flooded sight. It has been raining a lot. We selected the bus tour we will do in the morning for a City Tour. Then we will know how to explore on our own for the next few days.
June 20 and 21, 2008.
Quebec City and Countryside, Aeroport Camping Park
We have just had the longest day of the year by whichever summer solstice day you choose to follow. We are in Quebec City, Québec, Canada and the darkness happens about 9:30 pm our time. The past two days have had me frustrated by the exclusive use of French language. While I studied French for 4 years in high school ( from 1962 to -1966 ) I have forgotten a bunch. Road signs are not in English nor are any of the public tourist sights translated into English. Despite the fact that we are still in Canada we have not seen many Canadian flags flying, but we have seen the beautiful blue and white fleur de lis flag of Quebec flying all over. Still I feel like we are someplace in France and not in Canada. Quebec is like a little country inside of Canada. That said, . I am loving this visit.
Yesterday we took the city bus tour that was recommended by our campground host who has been more than friendly to us. He even had the guys drop gravel at our site as the rains flooded and muddied the entrance to our rig. The tour bus picked up Terry , Russ and me in front of our campground yesterday morning for a tour of the city. It was bilingual. Again I was frustrated thinking I should have understood the French part of the trip . I didnt. I did appreciate the English portion of the tour . This is an old city. It is considered the first French city in North America . Quebec City is celebrating the 400 year anniversary of its existence. Signs and decorations all over town say 1608 to 2008. There are special events scheduled to occur through this weekend. At one locale 250,000 people are expected attend the event. Sorry but we are out of here . Since we are not French Canadian, we cannot relate to the Quebec pride in their heritage, but we still appreciate the landscape and the city. Besides we don't like big crowds!
The old City of Quebec reminds me of my visit to Europe long ago in 1970. The old world architecture is exquisite and very European. Despite the fact that this land is called Nouvelle-France, we found the homes and farms on the outskirts to have a Dutch influence. We saw the walled city and listened to the history of the city from within and outside. Once again I wish I had paid more attention to my history classes in school. No matter what details I report to you, I shall recommend a trip to Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. You can figure it out for yourself.
On our second day of touring (and in our own) car with tour maps in hand, we traveled 105 miles. We visited Parc de la Chute-Montmorency and were enthralled with the waterfalls that are 1.5 times the drop of Niagara Falls. We trekked out across the falls on a suspension bridge and while loved the views, I became frustrated by the numerous foreign tourists who did not keep right. We still prefer those tourist spots with no visitors! We stopped at Chez Marie to get a sample of fresh bread with fresh maple syrup. Yum I bought some.
Our next stop was the Sainte-Anne-De-Beaupre Shrine, celebrating its 350 year anniversary. It stand huge in the landscape as a big building everyone can see from everywhere! There is a religious conference in town and the church was filled with visitors. We snapped a few photos and went on our way to have lunch at St Herberts.
We followed the tourists things to do and came upon an art Gallery. We met the woman whose husband is the artist and came from Italy when he was 19 to work on the ceiling of the Shrine of St-Anne-de-Beaupre ceiling. He is an artist who specializes in Mosaics. We saw that ceiling and it is indescribable. If I was made of money I would have purchased one of his mosaics!
We visited the Albert Gilles Copper and Art Museum and I purchased a pair of copper earrings. They made the Copper doors we saw at the Shrine! We asked Hilda (our GPS) to take us home and we headed back to the Aeroport Camping Ground. It is filled up. We are content at home in our rig.
We have a day off from touring things tomorrow as the guys watch their auto races. I may take a tour on my own.
June 22 and June 23, 2008
Matane, Quebec (on the Gaspésie Peninsula) Camping Par Sirois (418) 562-2241)
From this report forward I will indicate the RV campground we are staying at in the first line along with a phone number. Those following after us will have an easier time to find a suitable RV Park , and with clear southern sky, if your path follows ours.
We attempted to depart Quebec city at 8 am sharp but it was so foggy that the drivers mutually agreed to leave at 9. Russ went for coffee. I did internet tasks for my responsibilities with an ailing aunt.
It is a sad feeling to leave a city which you do not feel you have fully explored but it makes for a great list of things to do if you return. I got up my confidence this morning and used my French to thank the Campground Hosts at Camping Aeroport. They brightened up and told me my accent was very good and that many people need years of practice to develop my accent. My French teacher 30 years ago told me parlez dans le nes and Pense en francais. (I think the spelling is close.) It means speak in your nose and think in French. Remember all the times in Mexico where I complained that I did not take Spanish in High School? Well now I am happy to have some vocabulary to use here in Quebec. If I were here and immersed in French all the time it would come back to me quickly. I do feel like a foreign traveler however as I cant tell Proper nouns from regular vocabulary words but Terry and I are getting very good at using context clues for vocabulary translations. We know when to buckle up our seatbelts to save our lives, we know when the left lane ends, we know when to stop at this line.
The highway 132 toward Gaspésie was lovely and breath takingly picturesque. We came out of a green tunnel and voila, the view below our hilltop was a lovely seaside village. Each little village greets us with their silver colored church steeple. The St Lawrence River has become the St Lawrence Seaway and looks more like an ocean at this vantage point. For the geographically challenged about this area (as I was a week ago) , the Gaspe Peninsula is a thumb of Quebec due north and east of Maine. Our travels will be along waterways for a while.
Today we had a treat in our 200 plus mile drive. We stopped in Metis-sur-Mer to tour Les Jardins de Metis. Also known as the Reford Gardens. Fifty years ago Elsie Reford planted a dream garden with thousands of flowers. Most acclaimed are the Himalayan Blue Poppies which are very difficult to grow . I wish I could send you the smell of the lilacs in bloom that permeated the air. Jut think of your grandma The climate here is conducive to plants and represent 14 gardens from all regions of the world . The Festival specializes in a contemporary art form of art, architecture and plants and was very interesting. Im not sure I got the exhibits but I enjoyed the thought provoking illustrations. My favorite was hundreds of potatoes hooked up to wires that created enough electricity to light small lights. Terry said he did it in elementary school. I did not recall that use of potatoes.
We tried a couple of RV parks that we did not like and found this one in the Quebec Camping guide. It is very satellite friendly but the guys have trouble with the signal in our yet another rainfall this evening. We made plans for our drive around the Gaspe Peninsula tomorrow to the town on Perce. We commented today on how fortunate we feel to have this travel experience. Our life is good.
June 24, 2008
Perce, Quebec, Camping Du Phare (418) 782-5588
We left Matane at the honorable hour of 10:20 this morning as we waited for the fog to lift. I combed the tour brochure and found an interesting place to visit less than an hour away, Le Nordais Windmill Park.
On our way we got our second fuel up of diesel. It was $5.84 per gallon .. But we are getting better mileage than Russ because we drive more slowly than he does. He makes rest stops then races to catch up with us. I practiced my French with the fuel station attendant and learned that the windmill park we wanted to visit was on the right and up a hill. She said a whole bunch of other things that I hoped meant it was ok to take our big rig up that road! We spent a delightful 2 hours at Eole Park. It is in Cap-Chat on the Gaspe Peninsula. Having lived in California weve seen the wind turbines in Tehachapi and in Palm Springs areas but today was the first up close and personal visit weve had with the behemoth size machines. The Vertical axis wind turbine in Cap-chat is the tallest in the world ( 110 meters). It was built as a joint private industry and Government venture to experiment on the use of wind to generate electricity. It started during the 1970 fuel crisis. Through a series of political and economic reasons, it has not run for over 20 years but when it did, it provide electricity for 400 homes. The developer had an initial contract to receive 25 cents per kilowatt generated and made millions dollars. It now sits still awaiting parts. It takes 3 of the smaller wind turbines with 3 blades that are more familiar to us to generate the equivalent amount of electricity. Gaspe is the right place for wind turbines as they have lots of wind!! It will soon run again as a private Canadian Company is undertaking a new power venture. All the companies who service the windmill park must live in Quebec so it is good for the Province! The experimentation done by the first turbine resulted in changes made with subsequent wind farms. Im sure I left out critical details but this place was wonderful. We drove our 40 foot motor home with car attached to the site . The turn around radius was wonderful as they had to truck those huge wind thingys up that road so it was big enough for us. What a treat!
The rest of the journey around the Gaspe Peninsula today was very scenic even though it was up and down and very bumpy roads. I was reminded of frost heaves and Mexican roads. The road was narrow but NO traffic. It is Jean the Baptist Day so locals are at home with celebrations and not on the road. Par for our travels, it rained hard in the last part of the trip. The coastline villages all have pristine white box like houses with colorful shingles on roof. Every part of the ground is lush green, a testimony to the rain. The scenery was that of post cards. Ohhhhh ahhhhhhhh.
We arrived at our Campground after 7 pm, exhausted and ready for supper! We are tourists again in morning but will go by boat.
June 25, 2008 Perce, Quebec
Camping Du Phare at Perce (418) 782-5588 ( Passport America Park)
Well duhhhh. This morning Terry shows me that hed found that the RV Park we are staying in (and have already paid for two nights )is a Passport Park. This means we should have had a rate ½ of what we paid. I trot to office to see if my French is good enough to get a refund. No dice, credit cards are already processed. Because there is so much to see here, we are staying one more night at the ½ rate but lost out before because of our lack of attention to our benefits!
Today was one of the most gorgeous days of our trip. Not only is the scenery around Perce incredible, the weather gods listened to my prayers (Thanks Barb) and we had crystal clear blue skies with a warm a nice breeze. We quickly made our reservation to go out on a boat ride around Bonaventure Island and see the Gannet Colony. Before today I did not know what a Gannet was and now I love them. Russ boarded the boat with us a the seas looked so calm. The boat took us by Perce rock and then around the cliffs of the island where thousands of Gannets make their nests, have babies and stay until October when they fly south. I snapped lots of shots!!! We got off on the island and Russ took the boat back to Perce. We ate our picnic lunch when we arrived on the island and then began the 45 minute hike to the back of the island to see the bird colony. The first 1/3 of the trip was a gradual grade uphill and I was huffing and puffing wondering if seeing these birds was going to be worth it. Well let me tell you to see the thousands of these nesting birds up close and personal was fantastic. They are beautiful birds. Ron Maribito will love to shoot photos of them. I saw them preening , mating, feeding, nest building and cooing. The place did smell like a chicken coop and the din of the cawwwing of the birds was a noise that crept up on us as we got closer to the colony. I saw their golden colored eggs, I saw a few newly hatched babies. Wow is all I can say.
The topper of the evening was the restaurant where we dined had a guitar playing French singer. I loved it. The guys liked their lobster and I liked my French Onion soup.
June 26, 2008 Perse, Quebec
Camping Du Phare Passport America Park (Not in July or August)
Today was not nearly as pretty as yesterday and Terry is fighting off a cold so we slept in and kicked back. I did get up some energy to go touring on my own. I went to the Bonaventure Island National Park. I paid the one dollar tariff, hiked down the steps to get a view of the rocks and sea. There I learned you cant go out on the beach on your own. You need to go with a naturalist Parc guide. You also need tickets and you purchase them over by the wharf. It is at 2:15. Im learning all of this in French as no one speaks English. When I trotted over to the wharf and no one in the Parc Headquarters with all of the maps and displays spoke English and that all of the guided tours are in French exclusively I kinda lost interest. I bought a poster of the beautiful Gannets and a book telling me all about them. It is in English and French. I am discouraged today with my inability to learn things here due to my language. So I went to the market. I refused to pay $2.00 for a small head of lettuce, but I did buy one red onion that ended up costing me $2.02. I did not see any souvenirs of interest. My navigators had a meeting and determined our route to New Brunswick in the morning.
Since it was not so pretty today I am going to include some of my photos from yesterday and a couple from today. Terry takes better photos with his camera than I do with mine but I got closer to the baby birds than he did.
Here is something funny I did not tell you about yesterday. You know the saying Shit Happens? Im here to tell you about a true meaning. While out on our boat ride around Bonaventure Island a bird flew over and did a dropping .right in my ear. It did not splatter on my face, it did not get on my clothing. It was a direct hit in the ear. I was the only one who knew it hit! It felt wet and waaaaay yucky. I used a Kleenex and got most of it out but it left me with a crappy feeling until I could get home and pour Hydrogen peroxide into my ear. My doctor friend, Russ indicated that fecal matter in the ear is a very uncommon problem. OK now, Marsha, Margi and Wendy you can quit laughing. From now on I am wearing a wide brimmed hat while out on boats.
June 27, 2008 Bathhurst, New Brunswick
Shell Truck Stop Exit 321 off Highway 11
We traveled around the Gaspe Peninsula today and crossed the bridge into New Brunswick. The entire highway drive today was inhabited with nicely painted and landscaped charming homes. Folks were out painting their trim white or mowing vast yards. We followed around little coves and big bays with views that are very serene. Today we noted a significant increase in RV traffic. It is the Friday of a long holiday weekend for Canadians as Canada Day is Tuesday. Upon departure from the Province of Quebec, we were happy to be back in the land of English speakers, but we did enjoy our stay.
I told you I have been following Ardra and Jerrys Newfoundland log in forum library and noted that they warned of a low railroad bridge crossing. I wasnt exactly certain where it was but .. today just after our bridge crossing, Hilda (our GPS) missed a turn). This led us into downtown area to the VERY 38 meter underpass. Given that we need 4 meters to cross under, I almost panicked. Fortunately there was a right hand turn (truck route) we could make after a friendly driver backed up to allow us to swing over into his lane to make the turn. Russ followed us right along. We saw the large stainless steel sculpture of a salmon. It looked like a nice city to stop and visit but we are making dash to catch our Ferry by Monday morning early.
The highway into NB was smooth but we noted many Danger of Moose crossings signs. This fact was made real when we came upon an accident. A small car had a smashed windshield and dented front end and a large moose lay dead behind his car. My eyes combed the highway sides like windshield wipers across the road from tree line to tree line following this reality at noon.
We were headed to a Wal-mart for the night in Bathurst but we passed an abandoned RV Sales lot in the same lot as a Shell truck stop, that was huge and completely empty so weve decided to boon dock for the night . We will fuel up here in the morning. Terry walked over to the truck stop store and bought Puff Cheetos for his snack. Cheaper than a trip to Wal-mart but fuel in morning will make up the difference.
June 28, 2008 Amherst, Nova Scotia
Gateway Parklands (Passport America) (902) 667-1106
We fueled up at our overnight spot in NB this morning. We paid $5.73 a gallon for diesel. The price dropped a few cents from last fuel up but our mileage was worse due to the whoop-de-doos around the Gaspe Peninsula. We traveled south along the coast of New Brunswick today. Last night my navigators thought it was a good idea to get off the main road and travel the scenic route that was close to the water, Gulf of St Lawrence. The main roads Highways 8, 11 or 15 are wide green tunnels of pine trees and other green trees with pretty smooth roads. So we get off. Now it is a very narrow green tunnel with very poor roads. Terrys video equipment scooted forward in the overhead cupboard and I could not keep the door closed.
We lost Russ as we were later out of the fuel stop. From Richibucto we were to turn toward the water. We did. The roads were local roads, much of it one way construction and a long way to the shore. We followed one road and I remarked Terry I saw a sign that said 38 meters ahead. He said, Sorry hon, I did not see it. Look at these big trucks coming toward us, it must be ok. Well about 4 miles later we come to Richibucto Village with their 38 meter bridge. ( We need 4 meters to clear) A VERY nice couple in a mini van that had been following us pulled up along side us and said, We wondered when you would notice. We were watching you. They gave us directions on a left turn to Indian Island ( a reservation ) where we could turn around with only a short drive on a dirt road.
We phoned Russ to warn him NOT to take our planned route. He thanked us as he was just about to enter the area. He instead took another scenic route and came to his own short bridge near Shediac. He had to unhook his toad and turn around in an abandoned business parking lot. We crossed the border into Nova Scotia and easily arrived at Gateway Parklands where we swapped stories. Moral of this story, Do your touring in a car and not a 40 foot motor home towing a vehicle. We already knew this but needed the reminder! Russ and I headed to the Visitors centers in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick as we are so close to both borders. We armed ourselves with maps and tourist sights so that we know in advance of our destination. We made an ATM stop, a grocery stop at Sobeys a very nice grocery store and found the Snow white Laundromat where I later returned for this task. Amherst is a very historic City and we hope to return to see their historic centers. I snapped a few photos on the way to the laundry which you may enjoy.
We have along day (260 miles) in front of us to North Sydney where we have a Ferry crossing at 7:30 am Monday. While at the Laundromat I learned we have crossed into another time zone and are now on Atlantic Time.
June 29, 2008 North Sydney, Nova Scotia
Large Dirt lot up hill from Zellers Market.
We headed across Nova Scotia toward North Sydney in a driving mode to make time and did not try any of the scenic drives. YET this Province looks just like I had it pictured. Everything is green and the wild lupine of purple, lavender and pink paint the sides of the road with a spectacular array of color. Lots of little wildflowers are in bloom along the highway. There are lots of coves, rivers and things to do upon our return in a month.
Once again we were reminded that we share the road with the wildlife. We came upon an accident where a motorcycle had hit a deer. A white sheet lay spread out along side the road and I feared the worst. But as we passed I could see 4 deer legs sticking out from under the sheet and we heard from Russ who was 25 minutes ahead of us, that he had seen the motorcyclist elevating his knee and ambulances on their way. Its bad enough to hit a deer while driving in a car, but on a motorcycle .( you guys be careful out there)
The day became more and more gloomy and overcast and as we pulled into the Ferry terminal. Once in the toll lanes we learned that there were 2 ferries ahead of us and that we could not stay in their lot overnight. He opened a gate and we squeaked out of that lot in search of a mall we had been told about . It is now pouring rain but we happened onto a very large vacant lot across from the Zellers Market. The wind is blowing very hard and we have a scattered signal that comes and goes. The locals tell us it was 90 degrees last week. It never got over 52 today.
The Ferry we are about to board in the morning will take us 266 miles and will take 14 hours. I hope to get to read my book , Pillars of the Earth so I can return it to Lorna in November. With this wind Ill also wish for calm seas in the morning!
June 30, 2008
Aboard the Ferry from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland
Im composing this log on board the Marine Atlantic Ferry from North Sydney, Nova Scotia to Argentia, Newfoundland. We had a 7:30 am sailing and arrived at the dock by 6 am. After providing our reservation number, we paid our toll by credit card at the small toll booth. The fare was $ 775.61 for two adults (non senior) and 60 feet of space for our motor home and car. This does not include our ferry ride back on July 31. It was a very efficient boarding, drive on and we will drive off. No need to unhook the car. There were several RVs in line , lots of travel trailers and even more pop up trailers with bicycles attached. We gathered up the stuff we need to take up top to the passenger lounges, you know apples, granola bars ,cell phone, chargers, computer, blankets, pillows, coats, hats jackets. This is after all a 14 hour voyage and we need our stuff! The guys had breakfast while I got my sea legs and visited the gift shop.
I had heard from Bernie about the possibility of a wi-fi hot spot and asked the purser but it seems their satellite broke yesterday so no signal.. But as long as my batteries last I will share my story with you and find a signal later to send out messages. I noted The Bucket List is being shown at the Movie theatre on board at 9 pm Newfoundland time. Its a movie that is on my must see list but I calculated that we could not finish the movie as we were to arrive in port by 9:30. To my surprise I learned we should have been notified that due to engine trouble we are not expected to arrive before midnight which makes this a 17.5 hour ride. Oh boy. Terry just learned that at 2 pm today we have a vehicle visitation time and we can go get things from motor home. Ill get my pillow and a blanket as well as my seasick medication! We settled into comphy airline type lounge seats in the front row which were just fine until they put on a cartoon movie on the TV in front of us and the place filled with Children. We moved over to a lovely window dinette seating area away from the kids and with a table here for my lap top. It has good light for reading my book.
OK so this boring ride in pea soup fog and high waves is not as much fun as it was a few hours ago. Weve heard the bad news that we are operating with one less engine,( whether the rumor is that is its to conserve fuel or not, ) we do not know. The ETA has been pushed back to 1:45 am. Well finally at 1:45 am we hear the announcement to go to our vehicles. We unloaded that Ferry is record time. No one hesitated, just fired up engines and drove off.
Yes but to where? We left the bowels of this gigantic vessel to enter the complete darkened wetness of night. We had no vision. We never drive at night and here we were headed down an unlined road, wet somewhat foggy road. We lost sight of the cars in front of us so we were the lead vehicle going about 30 miles and hour trying to get a fix on anything to our right or left. Russell comes on CB to announces that we should pull over at first chance to let the mile line up of cars behind us go by. Yes we are trying!!!! In a few minutes and several harrowing miles, we found a pull off at a scenic look out. We could only see the black of night and a few puddles in the gravel area. There was one little car with a cargo trailer in it but we pulled off and told Russ to follow us in very close by our side. We are parked for the night! Whew. Note to others coming this way.... It might be better to board a ferry that arrives in daylight hours. But then with the unannounced delay of 4.5 hours, your best laid plans could go astray. One must remain flexible. We spent the night at this roadside. We awaken to a beautiful view but Ill save that story for tomorrow.
July 1, 2008 Canada Day St. Johns, Newfoundland, CA
Pippy Park (709)737-3655 Loop 4 (only one that works)
When I awakened this morning I wanted to open the blinds right away and see the spot we had chosen in the wee dark hours of the night. While it was a bit foggy we could see that we were high above a cove and the viewpoint was entitled Seven Island Lookout because there were 7 lovely rocky little islands in this bay. We got underway and headed for Pippy Park in St Johns , the capitol of Newfoundland which was only 78 miles from our overnight near the ferry. We had an easy check-in and paid for 7 nights. I had done all reservations in advance by phone and this speeds up the process. Unfortunately we were given sites deep within the trees and with such narrow roads we could in NO way make it into the site. Terry wanted me to go get our money back and we were leaving! But Russ in the meantime had scouted another section of the park and we moved to Loop 4 which is a lovely open area with all pull through spaces and no trees, rocks or obstructions. They also said they had wi-fi up here. The price is $39 a night but we wanted no part of those tree lined family camp sights with lots of children on bicycles, tricycles and big wheels scaring us on the road so we bit the bullet and paid the price.
Our first stop was downtown area to the Visitor Center. Everything is very crowded with Canada Day festivities. We learned first hand about their crazy intersections, one way streets and limited parking. I noted multicolored buildings, an active harbor and the Signal Hill which will all be explored in the coming days.
Late in the evening the sun came out and we noted that if its sunny tomorrow we will take a drive around the Irish Loop and the Cape Shore to take advantage of a non rainy day.(we hope)
We can only get local news stations, having lost our TV satellite. The news of the evening featured the celebrations across all of the Provinces of Canada that began first at sunrise in St Johns as it catches the first light of day on Canada. In fact we are now ½ hour earlier than Atlantic Time. So if it is noon here in Newfoundland, my friends in California and Arizona will be 7:30 a.m.
The news caster shared stores and ceremonies of the Pride that Canadians have for their wonderful country. He commented, Canada is a decent and tolerant country. It has abolished Capitol punishment, recognizes same sex marriage and despite all of its faults has universal health care for all. Here in Newfoundland July 1 is also Memorial Day and a big tribute was paid to fallen Canadian soldiers in a history of wars.
July 2, 2008
Irish Loop Drive South of St. Johns Newfoundland
Today we started our tour of the country side at the reasonable hour of 10 am . Russ filled up our tank at $5.49 per gallon. All fuel has to be ferried to this island so it has historically been 10 cents per gallon more . We managed the one way and irregular streets of downtown and made it to the loop toward our first stop, Cape Spear National Historic Site of Canada. It is the most easterly point in Canada and in all of North America. It is home of the oldest lighthouse in Newfoundland and Labrador. As we rounded a curve and the hillside came into sight with the coast in the background all of us let out a gasp, as it was that spectacular. We stopped to photograph the crashing waves on the black cliff filled with rocks. The water was crystal clear and had the blue of the Caribbean Sea in them. The white foam contrasted the cliffs with stark beauty. We walked around the sight and let the beauty of this wonderfully clear blue day sink in! There were hundreds of steps to the lighthouse that met my exercise quotient for the day! We soaked up all of the scenery we could and moved on. We marveled at the little villages along the cliffs that have wonderful fishing harbors.
By this time we were hungry and found Gatheralls in Bay Bulls. They offer a boat tour out to see whales and puffins. We want to do that trip this week , so we checked them out. They had a delightful restaurant in an imposing big blue building. We had linen table cloths, fresh lilacs, nice silverware and the best lunch. We recommend this place highly.
On ward in our tour of the Irish Loop, Russ shouted, Stop, stop. I thought he was having a coronary but he had spotted a huge white iceberg in the next little bay. Terry did a u-turn and we made our way down a small road to view this iceberg up close and personal. We marveled at this chunk of ice that we were later told is a regular occurrence. Icebergs break away each year and the only thing unusual about them would be the speed with which they melt. It is not a sign of global warming!
In the Colony of Avalon we veered off to a side road to explore an archeological dig of a 17th century colony . On our way up a very steep narrow road we came to a place to park. Russ shouts ,Whales, whales. Terry and I marched out across marshy tundra like area and come to a cliff where off in the Atlantic we can see several whales swimming playfully. Not only are their spouts visible but they surface and we can see their fins and tales. What a thrill. I even was prepared enough to have my binoculars with me. I could have watched all day except that we had miles to go before our loop was completed. Much of the excitement of this day was due to the fact that we had no expectation, so every sight was a thrill. We passed by a good size fox in the front yard of a village home. We watched fog roll into a community with the wind and then in 10 minutes it was clear again. We stopped to take photos of interesting little sights along the way like a miniature village in a stream along the road. The coastline is that of postcards and if this is all I ever got to see of Newfoundland it would be enough. It was a memorable Bucket List kind of day.
Ive booked us on the City tour of St Johns in the morning. The double-decker bus no longer runs but the Legends Tour will pick us up from the RV Park. This way Terry can enjoy the trip as a passenger.
July 3, 2008
St Johns City Tour, NL
This morning Russ yelled on CB before I had even had my breakfast. I could not imagine what had him so excited at that hour. I glanced out RV window to see the tallest moose I have ever seen prancing through our Park. Terry rushed outside for a photo but only got a butt shot. What a thrill this early in the morning. We later learned there are over 120,000 moose on the island but no wolves, deer, skunk, porcupine. We met our guide , Brendan McQuillan of Legends Tours who had a 9 passenger mini van at the gate of our Pippy RV Park. I highly recommend this city tour. It is Legend Tours (709) 753-1497. Brendon was our very Irish guide who is born and raised in Newfoundland. He knows his city and helped make this beautiful city come alive for us. We ventured out to Cape Spear for a repeat of yesterdays visit but this time with narration of its history. The day was a bit more overcast than yesterday so sea did not have the Caribbean blue color but waves were just as majestic. We moved on to Petty Harbor to learn about cod fishing and how the fishing is just one part. The fixing fish is critical and cod has been historically the most important reason that Newfoundland was settled. The Queen even required fish to be eaten twice weekly so the demand was great. It was salted and dried before refrigeration techniques.
We toured the many colorful buildings and streets of downtown St Johns a city said to be handsomely historic and stylishly new. The streets were originally planned for horse trails so they are not very wide and they are very haphazard. Welcome to a city laid out in 1497. It is the oldest European community in North America that has been continuously occupied. There were no natives here when founded but natives can be found on the east side of the Island. The combined population of Labrador and Newfoundland is just under 500,000. St Johns has about 200,000. The major industries are oil, fishing and tourism. There is also nickel mining. There is very little crime. The winters last 9 months and Newfoundland has the windiest days by velocity in all of Canada. In fact they no longer run any trains as the wind blew them over! The former train station is now a Train Museum. They have the same amount of sunny days as Prince Edward Island. Did you know that St. Johns is on the same latitude as Seattle and Paris?
We toured Cabot Tower that is on top of Signal Hill, named because of the signal flags ships used to identify themselves when coming into this beautiful Harbor. We were able to see the Signal Hill Tattoo. Military cadets, recreated the training drills used by the British Soldiers. The fife and drum core had my heart pounding to the cadence and I recalled my days as a drill team captain. Soldiers practiced daily in readiness for the type of war waged by marching almost face to face with the enemy troops. This drill was a treat narrated to provide historical accuracy. Too bad my short term memory is shot and I cant recall all the details to share with you. I do recall that the Red Coats wore bearskin hats with a big plume that had a golden strip with the words Difficult is not daunting as a motto. The views from atop this hill are impressive, interesting and inspiring. One can see Fort Amherst and the harbor below and it is again another post card setting.
We had lunch at Papas Pier 17 recommended by our guide. Yummy Greek salads and French onion soup.
Ill only hope that my words about this city might bring you here to visit. Brendon fears tourism is going to be way down this year due to fuel prices. A caravan filled our park this afternoon with visitors from Quebec so maybe things will pick up! As a footnote, if you read the Fitzgeralds in Newfoundland journal in the RVForum library , you will get an extensive perspective from Ardras writings on St Johns from July 1 to July 5. I hope I get to see and do all that they managed.
July 4, 2008
St Johns Tourist Places NL
Today is our 11th wedding anniversary. However there will be no fireworks for us as Canadians just dont seem to celebrate our American Independence Day the same way we do. While it is actually 11 years of marriage we claim to have been a couple for 24 years. We will take a late dining reservation at Blue on Water a downtown restaurant recommended to us by a fellow Newfoundland traveler here in our RV Park . She gave us this tip along with another we followed today. Our first touristy thing of the day was a private tour at IOT. So what is IOT you ask?
It is an Institute for Ocean Technology funded by the National Research Council of Canada. It is a Canadian Governmental operation of world class status. Only 3 such sites operate on earth. Adam was our personal tour guide and he presented the tasks completed by this outfit with articulation , enthusiasm and had me in awe. The IOC is a research and testing organization for things that would go in the water like ships, barges, oil rigs. The guys seeking the Americas Cup would hire them to test the design of their latest sailing vessels. Scale models are built and then tested using the most scientific computer simulated instrument imaginable. Submarines are tested here as well as ice barges. They have huge tanks the length of 3 football fields to have scale models pass through and test the speed, design, buoyancy and what ever else they may want to test. They can recreate an ice field as found in oceans. Did you know ice has lots of different forms? Ice formed in the ocean is not salt water, as the freezing process removes the salt. We stepped into a room that was -25 degrees where it take about 7 hours to form the level and density of ice they want to recreate on this huge indoor tank. They can move their model through it to see how the propeller will react the strength , speed etc. It was fascinating. A huge machine that tools the synthetic models was purchased from Romania for $800,000. I would never have guessed Romania had such precision instrumentation. They had a machine to make waves and emulate ocean current in a 17 million liter tank. It can make wind and currents to match conditions at sea to give the old boat a good test! I had no idea things were tested on this scale before they were even built. Much of the research is top secret so we had to check our cameras at the desk. No photos of this but you should write down (709) 772-4366 for a schedule private tour that is best of all FREE.
After lunch we visited the Johnson Geo Centre touted as The earths Geological Showcase. It was the finest museum I have ever seen with regard to the formation of the earth, the Tectonic plate explanation and it highlighted the significance of Newfoundland as a place where history revealed itself . I am becoming so much more aware of the historical significance of this Atlantic Island. The series of videos, small feature films, full length documentaries could have taken up a full day. In addition they had a portion dedicated to facts regarding the loss of the Titanic that was lost only 350 miles off the coast of Newfoundland. A series of poor decisions by humans was clearly the cause of a terrible scene. I learned the Titanic had nine transmission of eminent danger that were ignored! Blame fell to the Captain, the crew, the builders and owners of this ship for this disaster.
Outside the Geo center I saw examples of the rocks of Newfoundland in their natural state and in their polished form. No wonder granite counters are so expensive, it took almost 400 million years to make it!
Our mail did not arrive today so we hope it comes on Monday as there is no Saturday delivery. If not we may have to stay another day or so. No problem for me.
July 5, 2008
St Johns NL Shopping Day, Rooms Museum
Russ and I took off on a shopping spree mid day. He had heard (from the barista at a coffee shop) the name of two jewelry stores where he was on a mission to buy presents. I went with him while Terry fixed our high definition TV thingy. We managed to find the spots nicely . Russ mission was accomplished and I managed to get myself an anniversary present of a lovely coral pendant and matching earrings. I managed a photo of Rosalie Row where we made our purchases.
We drove past the location of Mile One of the Trans Canadian Highway. It was at the base of City hall and a tourist photo opportunity at best but we did see how many kilometers it is to Halifax and to the North Pole. Phoenix was not listed in their destinations. From there Russ and I visited the Rooms Museum which is only 3 years old . It is a 50 million dollar investment made from local provincial funds. It is built on the site of a former fort and when we entered we could easily see that the vantage point here would inform you of incoming ships, friendly or foe. The Museum sits imposingly above the waterfront and its shape was described to us today. It is 3 rooms. One houses an Art Gallery, another the National Archives and a third a Museum. All are joined under the same roof. It is called the Rooms as that was the place fisherman referred to when they brought in their catch and said they would be at the room to fix the fish. The Museum is a wonder. I was struck with many of the exhibits. One was a collection of building models with animation and video built into it. The Church with a bowling alley in its basement was my favorite. Photos were not allowed. For fellow travelers coming this way ..go there! I took photos out off the small deck to get city and harbor shots.
Despite the rain showers of the morning the day turned sunny and beautiful. Weather is something one cannot predict. This afternoon, I took a nice long walk trying to reduce the calories from last nights anniversary dinner at Blue on Water, a pricey but fantastic meal. The place reminded me of a restaurant one would find in San Francisco, trendy and special! My navigators planned our upcoming trips if our mail comes on Monday!
July 6, 2008
St Johns Tourist Day of Rest
We had planned to take the Gatheralls Puffin and Whale watch tour in Bay Bulls but the weather was cloudy and cold so we rescheduled for tomorrow. I wore my new jewelry and we visited the Flavarium which is an under water viewing point of a local stream filled with trout. It was like visiting an aquarium except the subjects were not in an enclosed structure. This place was built underground to capture a view of their natural setting. While we did see many trout we were disappointed in the overall experience. We are spoiled tourists. We did enjoy the 1.1 mile walk around the Flavarium as a chance walk in a beautiful setting.
Since Terry had missed yesterdays Mile 0 point, we returned today and noted that the place the FitzGeralds and Nathans had seen was right across a short driveway from the new sign. The plaque designating the start of the Canadian Highway was missing but we saw the plants and banner seen by Jerry and Terry Nathan. We trekked down an 89 step staircase to a desired lunch spot only to find it was closed on Sunday and then had to climb back up those 89 steps. I was huffing and puffing but enjoyed the exercise.
Id like to take this opportunity to share with you my perceptions of a few things. Food costs are expensive here. Consider, this is an island where most food stuffs need to be imported! The packet of Uncle Bens Bistro rice that I purchased at a Wal-Mart in Michigan was $1.87. I made the same purchase in Ottawa at $ 2. 17. Today I saw it at Sobeys (the local Safeway) for $2.39. This is not a complaint, as you get what you get when traveling. I just wanted to let you know we have found costs high here in Newfoundland. When having lunch out in a restaurant it can be $30. We have now decided to make lunch out our main meal and have salads for dinner. It is highly desirable to have cell phone service while traveling. We have a Verizon service and for an additional $20 per month we added Canadian Service. A GPS is an essential for travel here. St Johns is not logical and Hilda has guided us to our destinations with ease.
A delightful young lady who is an employee of Pippy Park is doing a Masters thesis on Full timers and asked If she could interview me. I will do this tomorrow. She finds that the social phenomenon of full timers is not widely documented and her professors are delighted in her unique research project. I gave her the forums address as a place to gain info.
We are still trying to talk Russ into joining us for the boat trip tomorrow but he is convinced he will be seasick.
July 7, 2008
St Johns NL Gatheralls Boat Tour
The day was beautifully sunny and we tried again to get Russ to join us on the boat tour to see Puffins and Whales. He declined and set off for his own sight seeing photographic day. We took the 1:30 boat cruise out to the Witless Bay Reserve. The guys on board were witty and played neat Irish music. I was hoping to see puffins and was unexpectedly delighted in a showing of humpback whales like no other. They play in groups in this bay. Once upon a time there were estimated to be 150,000 whales off shores of Newfoundland and then came the explorers and whalers. By 1970 there were only 1, 500 humpback whales left and they were now an endangered species. Today their numbers have come back to 15,000 and they are considered a species of interest. The bay provides rich nutrients for the whales who usually travel in pairs or 3. We witnessed the playfulness of the groups right off our boat today. It was wonderful. I had lots of water shots but managed to get a few whale tales.
Puffins are really short birds not quite 10 inches tall. We did not see as many of them as we had expected and they are reported to be PP flyers. This means Piss poor flyers. They make several take off tries to fly as their body weight defy the laws of physics. The orange beaks of the females are only evident during the mating season then they go back to gray beaks. They lay their eggs in nests in little holes they are able to bore in the side of hills up to 6 feet deep . They return to the same nest year after year. I bought a post card of them to ensure I had a good photo. Terry, with his telephoto lens got shots of their environment.
We had another wonderful lunch at their restaurant and returned to our campground to find our mail had not arrived. This is the first time in 9 years of mail forwarding (the first to be forwarded to Canada) that our mail has not come at the appointed time. We will not stay another day for it to arrive but will have it sent back and hope to get it later. Oh well.
Ellen interviewed me this evening on being an RVer. She has worked at Pippy Park summers for 5 years so has lots of experience with Rvers. I hope I contributed to her Masters thesis. She was delightful. We move on to Gander, inland in the morning.
July 8, 2008
Gander, NL Country Inn Motel and Trailer Park, free wifi
You almost did not get an entry tonight as my book, Pillars of the Earth has consumed me. Page 389.
However, we departed St Johns, NL this morning with no mail. I left word at headquarters to call me when the packet arrived and I would have it returned to SD. Our drive of over 200 miles was beautiful. It climbed to 89 degrees and the scenery was that of high mountainous terrain with rocky cliffs. It remind us of Northern Idaho where glaciers had carved out valley filled with lakes and numerous ponds. Every turn revealed spectacular scenery of trees, lakes and skyline. We arrived at Gander just as we got the call from Pippy Park that our mail packet had arrived! Murphy!!!!
Gander is known as The Crossroads of the World. It gains its fame from the International airport located about ½ way from Major areas of North America and Europe. Its reputation is fog free and it was one of the sites aircraft were landed when US airspace was closed on September 11, 2000. We visited the North Atlantic Aviation Museum in town to learn of the wonderful efforts contributed by the community when its population of 10,000 doubled in a few hours as aircraft were landed here . The school bus drivers were on strike and yet got into their busses to taxi stranded passengers to the local schools, Lions club and local homes for shelter. Wal-Mart gave toys to children who were on board planes that had been grounded. The teachers worked onto the early hours of the night after a day of teaching to provide blankets, shelter and comfort stranded passengers in their classrooms. The entire Province of Newfoundland was such as support and comfort to passengers in that terrorist moment. Talk about a village!!!
We also visited the Silent Memorial, a Monument dedicated to memorialize those soldiers of the 101St airborne who, having competed their mission in 1985 in the Sinai desert and were on their way home, crashed and perished. Terry was a Screaming Eagle so he was especially caught up in the memory. Talk about Fate.
We visited the Visitor Center and decided there is much to see and do here while we await our mail packet to be forwarded. We are so fortunate to be exploring this beautiful countryside.
July 9, 2008
Gander, Road to the Shore Drive ( 213 miles in the car)
Today we took a scenic drive recommended by a British Columbian minister tourist parked next to us last night. It is referred to as the Loop Road to the Shores, as it takes you through coastal communities from Gander Bay and around to Gander. Note to self. Find out if route supports tourists. We did not pack a lunch and wish that we had as there were NO restaurants along the way except for the one we came upon that was called Lucky Chinese and Canadian food. We ate there out of desperation. It was 2 o clock and we were hungry. Never again! Right after we ate we found a few more restaurants that may have been more appealing. You never know.
The day was overcast and we hoped for sun at each photo op. As the day went on we found more and more picturesque scenes of Newfoundland. The tour book guided us in an exaggerated description of their destinations on a few occasions but mostly this was the scenery of movies! The countryside was not like any we had seen before in NL. Every cove and bay was littered with gigantic granite boulders. When wet with the waters of the bay they were the color of Moab dirt, (red) . This is definitely the country of former glaciers as the granite rocks have been placed neatly along the shores of each by nature.
In Newtown, the tour book said it was like a little Venice. Well we dont think so but it did provide some of the most scenic villages we have seen.. The fishing industry is alive. We learned from asking a local that the lobster season is highly regulated by the government. The season is staggered by community. When in Newtown the season started in late May and had just ended but more north along the coast the lobster season has a few weeks to go. He offered us a chance to buy fresh lobster but we asked for a restaurant instead. He said, sorry there are no restaurants here. We already knew that. The Newfie language here is that clipped English, which sounds like an Irish brogue. It has glottal stops and is very hard to understand. But the folks could not be more friendly. Along a lonesome dirt road(not on the tourist trail but Terry will go anywhere his GPS has a road, ) we spotted two different iceberg s way offshore. My binoculars confirmed them as icebergs but out of photo range so you will just have to take my word for it.
We took scenery shots today and loved them all. We got our mail packet and can happily move on to Twillingate in the morning.
July 10, 2008 Twillingate, NL
Peytons Woods RV Park (709) 884-2000 Very big rig friendly.
It has been a glorious day. I think this part of Newfoundland is the most scenic of any area Ive ever visited ever with its rustic beauty. Water, mountains, fishing harbors, islands offshore, blue sky . I keep saying wow, wow and wow again!
We traveled about 98 miles after our diesel fuel fill up. It cost $332.00 to top off. ( $5.98 per gallon) This was our first fill up that broke $300 and the tank was only ½ empty. But if you get what you pay for today was worth it. The countryside is mountainous but has rocky cliffs that melt into the sea peppered with tree filled small rocky islands. Twillingate is a narrow hilly island and has waterfront on all sides so in every direction we see beauty. It was a picture perfect day, warm and clear. Terry and I headed off to the Mountain, to view Spillers Cove, that we had been told we needed to climb to see an iceberg. However I thought we were going to lunch and only had on sandals for a very steep rocky and muddy hike. We climbed for almost 40 minutes to view magnificent ocean views and saw in the distance the iceberg. Binoculars would have helped and maybe tomorrow we will take a shorter hike out to the dump for a clearer view. While Terry had lunch of liver and onions I enjoyed two Quidi Vidi Honey Brown Beers ( a Newfoundland Beer) following the hike as I earned them.
We drove out to The Town of Crow Head to see Long Point Lighthouse, a commanding 300 feet above sea level. Then we scoped out the Seabreeze Municipal Park for camping. If we had a truck and camper this would be on top of the world with the best views but would not work for our motor home. We enjoyed the vistas and took more photos. While we were on this photo mission Russ was on his own and stopped at a colorful local fishing dock and the owner invited him in for a personal tour for which he had to pay! (he grumbles)
The topper of my day was the entertainment we chose to attend tonight. Seven women have joined a group called The Split Peas. They have been performing traditional Newfoundland songs for 15 years. For the mere cost of $10 admission I was entertained, inspired amused and awed at the talent of these women. They asked if we knew about mummering? We did not so they explained a tradition here on the Island ( as Newfies refer to their home) Costumed people knock on doors and the people give them drinks and try to guess who they are. Terry was mummerd in tonight as one of the ladies in an ugly costume chose to dance with him . He was a great sport and danced the night away with her. At intermission we snacked on a local tradition of Toutons and Tea. What is that you ask? Well so did I. It is actually a piece of fried bread about the size of a flat bagel. We smothered it in a jam and it was delicious. We were told that calories consumed out side of your own province, if you are Canadian , do not count. We were further told that if you consume those calories outside of your own country, they are subtracted, so I shall be thinner by eating this fried bread!
The show was fantastic. I left wanting more but good news is we attend a dinner show tomorrow night with more local entertainment.
July 11, 2008
Twillingate Outskirts NL
Our first venture of the day was to visit Prime Berth Fishing Museum. It looked really hokey outside with a fake whale tale in the bay and dummies in boats. For a mere $5 per person we got a most informative presentations about cod fishing as it as was back when. Bill was our guide and he told of being a lad of 8 years old and his job was to throw the fish up on the table for the elders to gut, clean, de-bone them to ready them for the salt drying process. He used a live codfish to demonstrate the process. EWWWWW the smell. He further pointed out the bucket of cod liver oil from which all of us old timers have had a taste. When cod was processed the livers were kept and sold to the pharmacies that was the only cash crop a fisherman received. Most other payments for their toils of the year by fishing were made on credit and exchanged at years end for the supplies used. Not many got ahead. What a hard life. They had no Wal-marts, or Cabellas to turn to for anything. They wove their own nets from cotton as it gets more strength when wet than any other natural fiber. They repaired nets in winters and spun needles of yarn to be ready for the repair in the evening. Bill was our guide and is a retired 5th grade teacher. His accent is very Irish and he was very knowledgeable. It was like listening to a story teller. It was in 1966 that the cod fish moratorium came into place which regulated the entire fishing industry and it surely stopped the economics of the area. Now commercial fishing only has a 6 week season from late May to mid June. If he wanted to go out and fish, he would have a five fish a day limit. Nets are no longer allowed. All fish with hooks and jigs.
While there is no biblical reference that says one must not eat meat on Friday, The Pope made such an edict to benefit the fishing industries . Consider please that, Im not a theological historian, I just report what I heard in tourist venues. I really enjoyed the information Bill showed us about how the rooms were used to prepare fish in their day, before refrigeration.
Now in our car in search of lunch, Terry wanted a lobster shack for an authentic fresh lobster lunch. We happened on one and selected the lobster from a pool of hundreds. Russ and I had lobster sandwiches and then waited while Terry devoured the whole thing after we watched it being cooked.
I heard a squeaking sound that sounded like rusty door hinges and upon investigation saw 2 small critters. Russ and Terry photographed them and we later learned they were wild mink who rarely come to this section of the shore. So now we have lobster lunch in the sun, with a mink showing ! Can life get any better? We continued our drive thought many arms of this seashore. The names of each little cove and outlet are wonderful. We visited Too Good Arm, Herring Neck, Virgin Arm, Pine Cove Point to name a few. There were no grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants or anything in these little villages. Just scenic vistas . Wow and Wow. I had brought my own chips for snack in the car just in case.
We headed back to town hoping to see the iceberg from the dump road. However we learned from tourists on the road it was not there. Not to be believed and we have a 4 wheel drive after all, we ventured on. At the dump site, a local informed us the berg had broken in two in the late evening and tumbled over out of view, much to our dismay and even more to the chagrin of the tour boats going out to view it. Moral of this, make haste while you can! We were happy to have seen the glimpse yesterday!
Off to the Dinner show ..We dined at the local Community Center and watched the Circle Dinner Theatre perform. It did not compare to last nights show but the comedy gave a good laugh, we got to sing along and the couples at our table were delightful. Many of the tourist in this area are from Ontario. The sky tonight rivaled an Arizona sunset. It was hues of pink and more pink and deep pink and encircled the entire horizon. None of us had a camera.
July 13, 2008
Twillingate Day off
As with all good trips some are days of rest. Today we did chores, laundry and listened to Adas CDs. We laughed to learn we could have purchased her CDs from I-tunes for $9.99. We paid $20 for them at her concert last night.
It was a beautiful day. I read and read and read!
July 14, 2008 Springdale, NL
George Huxter Memorial Park and RV camping (709) 673-3808
We left Twillingate this morning with sadness. It has been a beautiful stay. I found the Newfoundland spirit! But onward!
We are following the general direction that some of the caravans take and today was a prime example of a reason to take a caravan. The caravan trips, in this place, include a tour of the crab plant via a ferry ride, a tour of a mussel farm , a meal prepared by locals and a Screech in Ceremony. None of this was available to us, despite our search. The camp ground is a beautifully renovated city park with a huge overflow area designed for caravans. It is only $18 a night for water and elec. All good but no internet. None in town either! So we opted to stay only one night and got our money back for the second planned night with no problem.
Terry and I drove out to the Kingsbury Point that includes the infamous Kingsbury pottery. None of it was my style nor in my price range so we moved on to view the Rattling Brook Falls. The falls were narrow and 800 feet high. The spectacular thing about them was that I survived the climb of stairs to see them. The view from the top was fantastic . We checked out the ferry that was a dirt lot with a dirt ramp to somewhere. We asked a local and he described what we might find on the Little Bay Island, but I could not understand a word of his English. The roads and country side around here is nothing spectacular at all. There are coves but they are not memorable at all like those we have seen before. Maybe we are getting spoiled.
The Little Indian Falls are right in our campground. They boast that they are the only falls in NL that you can actually find Atlantic Salmon swimming up the falls to spawn. We watched fly fisher people and yearned for a look at a salmon. We saw only lovely water over large boulders.
Terry's 30 Day Expense Report
Fuel includes motorhome & auto. Meals includes groceries & restaurants. Lodging is campgrounds. Miscellaneous is everything else...mostly sightseeing/tour fees & souvenirs. Fuel.....................$2023.77 Meals................... 1057.70 Lodging................ 904.43 Miscellaneous.......... 1697.19 Total.................... $5683.09 $189.44 a day for two people. We Have Not SKIMPED on anything. Miles Driven Motorhome................2267 Gmc Envoy................1006 Total........................3273
July 15, 2008
Rocky Harbor, NL Gros Morne RV Park. (709) 458-2238
We left Springdale and traveled TCH 1 over the most mountainous terrain weve seen so far. It was misty and hazy so the scenery did not stand out. We arrived at Gros Morne RV Park which is just outside of Gros Morne National Park. There is much to do here as far as taking in sights but today we just figured out what to do for the next couple of days and will go to a talk tonight at the visitor Center on the Tablelands. Recall this area is where the tectonic plate theory was proven by matching rocks from the top of Gros Morne to rocks in Spain. Ill learn more about it tonight Im sure . Good news here is the campground wi-fi works well and that gives us the entertainment we like. There is still no TV and Ive finished my book. Now Ill be looking to buy the sequel.
Update . We loaded ourselves up in the car at 7:15 and drove the mile or so to the Gros Morne Visitor Center, all set to watch the 8:00 pm slide show presentation on the Mantle..Tablelands, geology for the non geologist. They wanted us to purchase a National Park day pass to see this. They are $9.50 each person per day. It would only be good till noon tomorrow so wouldnt even cover the price of admission for our drive through the park tomorrow. We passed, mumbling and grumbling about what a price gouge we feel it was. We would not have minded if it had been good for 24 hours but not just till noon. Maybe Im just reeling from Terrys summary of our costs.
No Im not going to cut down on things we see, but there are some limits! This is the FIRST Visitor Center weve ever seen that charged an admission.
We will drive a loop of the park tomorrow and hopefully have nice weather for our photos of the fijords.
July 16, 2008
Gros Morne National Park and Outlying areas.
Today was one of those memory making traveling days. We toured 10 hours and witnessed spectacular scenery. I sit in the back seat of my chauffeur driven car, armed with the many tour guides and maps available. Last night I read Tim and Jan Lynchs version of this portion of the trip and re-read Ardras accounts from their 06 visit to Newfoundland. (She did a very detailed account and I often refer to her statements.) I then read the history to my front seat passengers and holler when I want the driver to stop.
This section of Newfoundland is not like anything Ive ever seen or can make a comparison to. Gros Morne National Park is an UNESCO World Heritage Site which means it was designated by the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization as a place of historical significance. It is because the rocks of Gros Morne provide some of the best illustrations of plate tectonics, one of the most important ideas in modern science, that it was given this designation in 1987. We visited the Discovery Center and paid our Canadian Park daily dues, happily today as I must have been in a better mood. We watched an excellent video of the park . The vistas of the mountains came into view as the haze of the morning cleared. The rocks and geologic features exposed within this place rank this place among the planets most significant natural areas. Fred Thomas would love to study geology here! After touring little fishing village of Trout River we had our picnic lunch overlooking Capelin Bay. We will never again rely on restaurants for lunch so we came prepared with our own. ! Our view was superb and we could enjoy the lovely day while walking along the boardwalk. We could only be sorry that we were too late for lobster season as it would be fun to watch the fishermen take their catch. Hundreds of lobster traps decorate the landscape and tell of recent activity. Lobster season closed here two weeks ago.
Tablelands Mountain boasts that it is an exposed part of the earths mantle. Terry and I hiked one hour at the base of this mountain and saw pitcher plants, waterfalls and the magnificent yellowish colored rock that was thrust upward 450 millions years or so ago. Not much grows on the barren rock . We were the only ones on this relatively easy trail and became engrossed in the scenery as well as the workout. Russ waited in the car for us. The drive then provided views of the waters inside these fjord type bays. I saw a whale surface, but the guys did not see him.
We returned to the motor home and signed up to stay another day here at the Gros Morne RV Park. We have wi-fi and have more to explore tomorrow. We then headed north up the coast for even more breathtaking scenery. We headed to Arches Rock which was once ocean bottom and is now a formation of arches on a pebble filled beach. The coast is all rocks and pebbles, no sand at all. We saw more fishing villages and staging areas. We saw the remain of a shipwreck from 1910.
We saw a moose, yes you read that right, as we were headed back to camp, Russ said, STOP, do a u-turn I saw something. Throwing all of the contents of the back seat on the floor, driver did a u-turn and we headed slowly back down the road to indeed see a large friendly tall moose in the scrub brush. The sun was right in the eye of the cameras but I saw him yes I did. What a day. We headed back to Lobster Cove where we viewed the lighthouse. For long time the community could not afford a lighthouse so the locals took turns burning one pint of oil per night in their windows as a warning. The lighthouse is beautiful and you can see why it was so badly needed at the size of the lovely harbor and the roughness of the rocks along the coast. I am pleasantly exhausted and still delighted by the natural wonders of our planet. Ive found Newfoundland to be a very special place. Im also remembering some exquisite carvings done at the local craft store. Oh boy .
July 17, 2008
Gros Morne National Park, Rocky Harbour NL
Today Terry and I hiked 3 kilometers (45 minutes ) across bogs, through thick trees and ended up on the shores of Western Pond. We took the Western Pond boat ride which is said to be among the most popular of rides here in the park. The boat entered into what I thought was a fjord but I learned today that technically it is not as the water is fresh water and it has no access to the seas. The water is almost black in color and is some of the purest water on the planet. It has so few minerals in it that it wont conduct electricity as learned by Canada Parks when they installed water sensing pumps.
Seems that about 8,000 years ago some land was disrupted and left this pond with no access to the seas. The majestic walls are evidence of glacial action. The stark stone rose some 2100 feet above our heads and I still have a neck ache from watching the walls of this majestic canyon. There were numerous trickles of waters down the many feet into ribbons of mist that were waterfalls.
The highlight was walking home on the boardwalk we happened onto a grazing moose. I was so close that I had to back my telephoto out to get a shot. He seemed to not be too distressed by people around him. We were all snapping pictures. I would highly recommend this Western Pond boat tour if you are in Gros Morne, Newfoundland. He told us lots of facts and figures on the geology of this area but I had my eye on scenery and no way to take notes. I am pretty sunburned as it was a wonderfully sunny warm day but clouds did blow in and threaten our boat ride but no rain. We dined at the Ocean View Motel restaurant in Rocky Harbour and I told Terry we should have had a surcharge for linens as he had made such a mess of his tablecloth with his seafood chowder soup and lobster and partridge berry pie. Weve decided to stay an extra day here!
July 18, 2008
Gros Morne, Bonne Bay Aquarium Tour
It was a foggy and cool day so it was perfect for our planned visit to the Bonne Bay Aquarium Tour. The Bonne Bay Marine Institute is a Marine station out on Norris Point and affiliated with Memorial University. Ive been to many marine aquariums and enjoy them but I was not expecting this one to be so very special! Russ had visited a few days earlier and told us it was worthwhile. The facility is only 5 years old and sits right on the shores of the Bonne Bay where two arms of water branch out having been caused by glacial action years ago. The unique thing is that the larger bay has been cut off from the ocean seas of St Lawrence and has specimens unique to here. The marine species found here are usually found much farther north but the water here stays very cold even in summer.
The mere $5 tour was the bargain of the trip. Our guide, Ann was an articulate, knowledgeable enthusiastic graduate student in Marine Biology from Ontario doing a summer internship here in Newfoundland. She showed us tanks of specimens brought in by divers or fishermen which are unique and rare. We also saw fish being studied by grad students. The most interesting one to me is a fish that has a special type of hormone like an antifreeze and it is able to stay in cold freezing waters due to this body chemistry. Studies are being done on it for situations where things need to be kept cold yet cannot freeze. She gave the example of organs being transported for transplant and vegetables. Just think one day this fish may have something to do with our fresh vegetables. It is a very ugly fish. She showed us sea urchins, sunfish, lobster, crabs, and a host of other names she threw out readily and Ive already forgotten. Another interesting fact she reported was that the microscopic plant life in the ocean is essential to our planet in that it converts sunlight through photosynthesis to produce 75% of the earths oxygen. We also learned that here on the western side of Newfoundland 70% of the fishing industry profits come from snow crab, lobster and shrimp. There was a touch tank of marine specimens we could hold and touch . Terry and I kept our hands in our pockets.
We toured gift shops this drizzly afternoon and I made a couple of fun purchases. Wont tell you about them in case you are on my gift list! Tonight I am trying to talk my guys into joining me as I attend Pub Night at the local pub where Anchors Aweigh is playing. It starts at 9 pm so I wonder if we can stay up that late. It does not get dark until around 9:45 or so.
July 19, 2008 St Anthony, NL
Triple Falls RV Park (No internet.) (709) 454-2599
We left the Rocky Harbor, Gros Morne area this morning and filled up with our first fuel over $6 bucks a gallon. Diesel was $6.10 this morning! What are we to do? Moan and groan or go for it to the next destination. Onward we say!!!
We traveled along some of the most scenic vistas of the trip. We were along the coast and could see white caps breaking on the beaches. We could see meadows on the other side of us and lot and lots of forests with thin little trees. They say trees here dont get very big as their feet are always in water. Indeed there are lots of marshes and we learned on our walk the other day that decomposition does not happen as there is so little oxygen in the soils to cause decay. Small gardens pop up along the road as villagers till any plot of fertile soil they can to get a crop. A telling sign of the winters here, are the numerous stacks of wood along the road. We are told people cut trees from the forest and stack them near the road and in winter they use their sleds to haul them to their homes. Newfoundland has the largest number of snow mobiles per capital than any other province. We saw lots of them sitting in yards of St Anthony. Some Towns have been given the Tidy Town award. Those town are well kept and have no visible junk yards. St Anthony did not win such an award.
Now the ROAD This was the worst stretch of road we have encountered in our Canadian Travels. The whoop de do hilly road is filled with frost heaves. Fortunately they are well marked by the skid marks on the pavement. It is easy to see why people lose their tow equipment. Terry says he would NEVER drive on this road at night towing a vehicle as then the heaves would not be visible. It really slowed us down today, All that being said the road was still better than most of Mexico roads. Triple Falls is a large campground and we are in among the trees tonight with only 15 amp service as a caravan is in and they got all the good sites. They leave in the morning and we may move to a better site or we may just stay here.
We have a 5 mile drive into town to catch a wireless internet signal at the Town Hall. Russ traveled in front of us today as he rises much earlier than we do and he saw moose along the way. We did not. We took a brief drive through St Anthony and viewed the light house and fishing harbor. We had a pizza tonight in a local restaurant (the first in along long time) and spoke with a few members of the Fantasy caravan. We know the good spots to visit tomorrow.
July 20, 2008, St Anthony NL Historic Harbour Drive
Most of our destinations on todays driving tourist day, were not in any of the guides, brochures or logs of fellow travelers. We spoke to our campground neighbors last evening who made the recommended route today. And what a day it was! To recap before I start, we saw one iceberg, one moose, 4 osprey (2 parents and 2 babies high in a nest) , the most northerly inhabited community in Newfoundland, several ancient rocky fossil filled ledges, rocky oceanfront and a light house in Harbour Cove dating back to some early date I cant recall. We did not see any cell towers so had no phone service at all today which is a first for our entire Canadian travels. We are in a really really remote and beautiful section of the world.
We could see Labrador across the Straits of Bell Island today. The sky was a perfect clear blue for most of the day and that always enhances our spirits. We started out with a packed lunch ( of course) and headed out to Cape Norman to find Cooks Harbor, Wild Bight and Boat Harbor. These little villages have no more than a few hundred residents and we learned many of them spend the winter inland after the fishing season ends. The plants here are unique in that they must adapt to the shortest, coolest summer season found in NL, with the windiest and the wettest soil. Plants hunker down low to the ground and the few trees huddle together and stay low. Despite this, the locals find fertile grounds and till wonderful gardens along the road with potatoes and turnips as their main crop for their root cellars in the winters. Ill show you some of the hundreds of woodpiles along the way. Wood is cut in winter and allowed to dry out in the summer. In the fall it is hauled closer to home for those cold winter days and wood burning stove.
Once out on Cooks Harbour on HWY 436 we photographed the lighthouse and crawled down the levels of rocks to view the hidden fossils in them. Terry found what he thought to be a fish and Russ found what he thought to be a worm. We had our picnic lunch in the car overlooking the sea due to the wind and the big black flies. Courtesy of a fly, (I think) I have a welt the size of a sand dollar on my arm and it itches like crazy but I do not complain as this rustic scenery is some of the best Ive ever seen in the world. Oh wait did I tell you that yesterday? It just keeps getting better up here. While up at this vantage point Terry says, Theres an Iceberg. I said, No I think it is a cruise ship. Russ powerful binoculars confirm it as an iceberg. This is our 7th sighting of a berg so far. It was way off on the horizon and not possible for a good photo but made us excited all the same.
We followed the bay back around to Cape Onion and Ships Cove. Cape Onion boasts of being the most northerly community, geographically on the Island of Newfoundland. In Ship Cove we saw the handicrafts of a local who has created an exquisite miniature village. We stopped the car at every angle to get a good vantage point of the fishing villages. At one point I holler, Moose at 10 oclock! Sure enough out on the meadow is a moose grazing. Terry can see through his powerful telephoto that he is a male with the early start of antlers. Its a fuzzy photo blown up that many times but I saw him first! I had been practicing saying this location for miles and indeed days. Thank you to Fred Thomas for teaching me the directions. It worked. In Raleigh we stopped so Russ and I could visit Taylors Crafts. This man carves beautiful things from soapstone, Talc, whale bone , moose bone, moose antlers and a variety of other stones. He has participated in the Olympic Carving events. His stuff is NOT the cheaply made in China tourist stuff. We shall think overnight about some of his creations. He was very good. I think his shop was the only business in Raleigh. There may have been a Supermarket, gas bar.
Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve is along the way but we did not go in to the Pistolet Bay Provincial Park for a guided tour. The book says this place has some of the worlds most cherished and botanical wonders. Rare plants are found here nestled among the rugged stone, mossy mounds and low shrubbery. Lots of limestone here.
Terry is fixing photos and I am making ready for our trip into the library parking lot in St Anthony where we can send our email. From there we will attend a Viking feast. This will be covered in the journal tomorrow.
July 21, 2008
LAnse Aux Meadows, St Anthony , NL Viking Home 1,000 years ago
Today was a dream come true that I created in 5th grade when I studied the Vikings who landed in Vinland. Today I stood in the community they landed ! The most surrealistic fact was the couple who searched for this site finally found it in the mid 60s . Those archeologists had tenacity and vivid imaginations. I would never have found this spot. The mounds were found after 1,000 years. We took a walking tour from a Parks Canada Guide who told us about the building mounds they found. The definitive find was a steel pin that proved the Viking Settlement was here. They recreated sod huts to reflect life in those days. I saw a few children try to work the bellows to fuel the fires that made nails for their ship repair. The view of the bay was spectacular on this clear warm sunny day.
I bought a jacket to memorialize my visit here.
Terry was good sport and toured us though each gift shop along the way. I have lots of souvenirs as a result, incase you are on my Christmas list I wont tell what I bought today. But I will show you the scenery of fishing villages, coastline and yes we saw another iceberg today.
We let Russ off at our campground after a full day of touring and ventured out to St Anthony to see the Grenfell Experience. We learned of a man who was true pioneer as medical Doctor, a missionary and an humanitarian. He contributed opportunities of the folks on this Northern Peninsula and Labrador who had a really tough life. His story is told in sections of buildings in the town. If you are in St Anthony you MUST visit this place to learn of a man who made difference in is life. I wish we all could.
The hospital rotunda has a Jodi Bonet mural. He lost an arm at an early age and overcame this to become a brilliant ceramist and was invited to give memorial to his hospital which is the only one in the north of Newfoundland and Labrador. The tiles murals are wonderful especially considering the obstacles he had to overcome to make his name here.
While typing up this journal tonight, I noticed our neighbors gathering outside. They saw a moose munching on the trees in our campground. We got our cameras and I radioed Russ on CB so he could also get shots. Whew it never gets blasé. I just love our life.
July 21, 2008 Part 2, St Anthony Evening Activity
As promised, here is the information on The Great Viking Feast at Leifsburdir, our dinner experience, last night. The caravans attend a supper here and so did we. We would not attend it again. If you had a caravan of friends to make fun at the trial it may be worth the $45 per person admission. The appetizers were salted Capelins and cod tongue. Terry is still wanting water for the salt. I ate the cod tongues and am still politely spitting into my napkin. The Red wine Russ ordered sat unfinished. Each table was asked to find a person among them who had broken a law. Now if we had broken any law, we are not the sort of folks to admit it in public, so we were the only table who did not submit a wrong doing. We did sit with folks who were here on medical business from Labrador to visit the Curtis Memorial Medical Center. More on this later.
After a buffet dinner of roast beef, steamed cabbage, potatoes and our choices of salmon, moose stew or cod we were under whelmed. Dessert was Partridge berry pancakes with a dollop of whipped cream. This may have been ok at a lesser price but we did not think this event warranted the price. So tourists be warned.
July 22,2008 St Barbe, NL
St. Barbe RV Parking (709) 877-2272
We traveled from St. Anthonys this morning the short distance of 71.7 miles to St Barbe. This is a basically a fenced parking lot right across from the ferry office where we will leave our rig overnight and tomorrow night. We will take the car onto a ferry to Labrador in the morning. We left Russ to stay another day in St Anthony as he did not want to pack up his C-pap machine for an over night in a motel. The lot is a reasonable $16 per night or $20 if you get an electrical cord to your rig. I did a load of laundry and talked with fellow escapees who have been down the coast we are headed. We exchanged travel hints.
Interestingly enough Terry got a US TV signal tonight. Im not sure if I am glad or sad to have gotten a local US news report tonight. We have been cushioned from the world with no news for almost a month. The news casts are not especially positive!
Im reading up on all the brochures and will pack a suit case tonight for our overnight in a motel. Ukkkkkk we hate packing up a tooth brush.
We will both take our laptop computers in hopes of reaching a wi-fi signal tomorrow. There is NO public wi-fi signal here in St Barbe, NL tonight. Oh boy we are roughing it!
July 23, 2008 LAnse aux St Clair, Labrador
Northern Lights Motel
We left St Anthony Newfoundland in our motor home. We then left it at the Ferry dock in the St. Barbe RV Parking lot designed for people to leave rigs while they travel to Labrador. We took the 10:30 am MV Apollo Ferry to Blanc Sablon, Quebec and drove our car to Labrador. The lady on board the ferry said the last two days have been the most beautiful weather they have had all year. It is crystal clear and not a hint of haze. We could see the shores on both sides of the Strait of Belle Isle our 1.5 hour ferry ride across 28 miles. For those living in California think of Catalina. It was that far and you could see land almost the entire way so you know it was an exceptional day.
We land in Quebec as the harbor there, only 3 kilometers from the Labrador border is a better fit for a large ferry. Our first destination was LAnse au Clair where we visited a 20th Century restored Church that housed the visitor center. We used their email access. We then checked into the Northern Lights Motel and hit the road for touring the Labrador Coastal Drive. It is only a narrow two lane road and not hard to find as it is the only road. We are excited to be in yet another part of Canada on our journey.
Labrador is referred to as the big land as it has more than 200,000 Kilometers of largely untouched pristine natural environment. It looked much like Alaskan landscape. It is more than twice the size of all Maritime Provinces. Our little visit today will be merely a taste of the landscape. We visited 3 National Historic Sites and learned that Labrador has been home to aboriginal peoples for over 9,000 years. The Innu, Inuit, Metis(British and French) , Settlers (from Canada and US , Vikings , the Basques (mostly whalers) and Moravians all touched the history of Labrador. My first impression was that this place is different from NL in that it is more rocky but it also has beautiful white sand beaches along some of the shorelines. The hills rolled high and dropped steeply down curves and along the fabulous Pinware River. Our first stop was LAnse Amour, Cove of Love. We passed the earliest known burial site in North America dating back 7500 years ago. Weve seen many, many grave yards in NL but none this old! We rounded a corner to have the beautiful Point Amour Lighthouse come into sight. It is the tallest in the Atlantic and still in use. We climbed the 128 steps in a cool flyless atmosphere. The walls are of limestone and are 6 feet thick to protect it from the up to 124 mph winds they get with 30 foot crashing waves in a storm. No wonder so many ships were lost along here with that kind of weather, but sailors were willing to risk this route as it cuts off nearly 200 miles on a European ocean crossing. We really enjoyed this very well done Historic site and would recommend it as a must see if you come here! The staff is in period costumes and very interesting displays tell a personal story of James Wyatt who kept the light glowing here for 44 years. Did you know a lighthouse keeper was expected to give Sunday sermons those all who worked at Lighthouse ? I mentioned flies. The tour book and former travelers to Labrador warned us so I had insect repellent and Spray Benedryl. But the little suckers just swarm. We are told black flies are a sign of a clean environment, yeah right. We saw Bug Coats advertised along the road in front of the convenience store so I went in to check them out. It was like a mesh hooded sweatshirt for $12.99 . We saw pedestrians out for their daily walk all bundled up in them. Terry and I decided that our protection from flies would come in the form of skipping the hikes. Too bad as the scenery was so lovely and such a day. We drove up the coast through each little fishing village. Some only have 35 residents. This is not a densely populated area!
We went as far as Red Bay. This bay was used in the 16th century by the Basques whalers. They were so good at catching whales that they nearly drove the whale population to extinction. In 1978 Archeologist divers found the well preserved remains of a ship wrecked Basque whaling vessel dating 1550. It was excavated piece by piece, studied, documented, modeled and then re buried in the site it was found. It was thought the mother nature had done such a good job of preserving it for all those years she should be returned to her resting place. The Visitor center was among the most informative of all places we have visited. We could have walked out among the ruins at Saddle Island but we dont like flies!
We passed a wooden bridge over Pinware River for some spectacular scenery shots. It is a world renowned salmon fishing destination and fisher people should make note if they plan to visit here.
We returned to our motel, happy with our treasured finds of the day. Despite the advertising, we could not get any wi-fi at our motel. We hate staying in motels and did not sleep well but we did get TV and got to watch So You Think You Can Dance.
July 24, 2008 Port au Choix, Newfoundland
Ocean View Campground
We packed up this morning and left Labrador via the return ferry trip at 10:30 am. It was another pretty day and smooth sailing back to Newfoundland. We are sitting at a magnificent place facing the crashing waves of the ocean. It is our thought to stay another day to rest up from some of our sight seeing days! The campground is owned by the local Lions Club and is only $20 a night for electric and water.
The drive back down this coast was equally beautiful as the way up but isnt it funny how scenery looks different from the other direction. We met up here with Russ. We have to drive up to the next village for internet signal but this ocean view is worth it all.
July 25, 26, 2008
Port Au Choix to Deer Creek Gateway Campground
It was nice to take a day off from touring yesterday and just sit and watch the waves lap the rocky ledges of our campground. We took a drive out to Port Au Choix National Historic site but did not go in. We are tired of touring for a day or so.
Left and drove south back down the Viking Highway 150 miles the way wed come almost a week ago. The weather was gloomy and it rained much of the way. We are so fortunate to have seen this drive in clear weather as it is so much prettier on a sunny day. We met up again with Russ here in Deer Creek, in Gateway Campground (which is a Passport America Park, but they dont honor this during July or August) It has free wi-fi and is right across the street from and amazingly interesting tourist attraction.
The Insectarium and butterfly Pavilion is in a converted Dairy barn built in the forties and is now the home of a collection of live butterflies, insects, spiders, beetles, bugs and other crawly things. It was like looking at a gigantic science project. Did you know most butterflies only live about 2 weeks? We saw the Queen Bee in a honey comb. We saw coach roaches bigger than I ever want to see again. Butterflies lighted on us in the big tent. It was good for an hour or so of amusement. If you are driving by, there is a big parking lot in back so you could just Park RV and tour and move on, but we opted to stay the one night here. It has rained all afternoon and into the evening.
July 27, 2008 Cornerbrook
Prince Edward RVpark.
We moved down the road only 32 miles today to Corner Brook . While in transit we noted they had closed one lane each direction of the freeway. Seems they were having the second annual Ironman triathlon and the bike portion of the event was on the Trans Canada 1. It was 82 degrees today and we watched those adventuresome souls labor up the grades. Remind me never to try a triathlon. (Like there would ever be a need!)
We ended up in Prince Edward RV Park (in the trees ) despite their web site that showed a clear cut . We went by the Visitor center, got local maps and started out on our car tour of the Peninsula. Most people who arrive in Newfoundland hit the Ferry and head North to the Gros Morne Park but since we already did that, this tourist trip was a personal recommendation of the area from escapee friends who we spoke to at the ferry to Labrador.
We have noted that each community hold its own distinct personality. With another beautiful day we saw wonderful sites and then had a chance to re-stalk our supplies with the grocery stores in the second largest community of NL. We dined at home and will move on in the morning. I am beginning to feel sad that we will leave this wonderful province all too soon.
July 28, 2008 Kippens, NL (Near Stephenville)
Zenzville RV Park
We drove 58 miles today. We are taking our sweet time as we near the end of Newfoundland. We arrived at our park and checked in at a house. First time I have stood in someones living room to check in. We packed our lunch and ventured off to tour the Port au Port Peninsula via The French Ancestor Route. It was formerly known as the French Shore as only in 1904 did Newfoundland get control from France. The end of the peninsula at Cape St George was among the most beautiful we have seen. We were high above the tides on cliffs and overlooked breaking waves, gigantic oceans and I saw a whale. They guys did not see it nor did they believe me. But I did.
On the way we took small side dirt road out to Jerrys Nose and tried to discover which rock formation may have that shape. I took photos of all of them but I really could not identify the one. We shall ask the Fitzgeralds who were here in 2006. We did see a capestan which is the devise used to winch your boat up a cliff from the top of a cliff. We passed an alpaca farm. We took a wonderful surprise stop at Shreave Cove. Fishermen were cleaning cod and swimmers were out in a rocky beach bay, enjoying the water. It was hot today. Terry and I hiked out over loose rocks along the shore (again the wrong hiking shoes) out to a cave. It was evident that the tides came in over our trail as it was covered with bright green spongy moss. This a photographers paradise.
We stopped at the Alpaca farm for ice cream cones. We stopped to photograph the largest wooden church in NL. We got home and it rained letting up on some of the heat of the day. I was glad we had packed our lunch as restaurants are not very abundant here on this peninsula despite homes along the entire way. We saw a variety of homes, some humble, some very neat with manicured gardens and some just plain junky and tacky. We hope we can make a connection with Ron and Shirley when they cross on ferry 7/30 . We will meet up with Sue and Jeff back in New Brunswick when we cross ferry on 7/31. Terry gets a hint of a satellite signal here but so slow. Ill drive up to the campground driveway to catch a signal when it quits raining.
July 29, 30, 2008 Port Au Basques.
Grand Codroy RV Park.This was a day of rest and relaxation at our campground Grand Codroy RV. I forget to tell you that yesterday at 11:30 am on our way to the campground traveling about 50 MPH a moose burst out of the trees and across the road 50 to 60 yards in front of us. Three or four seconds later a little baby moose followed mamma out on the road in front of us. If either animal had bolted out directly in front of us there would have been NO time to slow or stop and there would have been a big problem. While it is very thrilling to see moose, it is very scary to almost hit them. I got no photos as I got on CB to tell Russ about them. They both scurried into the thicket on the other side of the road so Russ got no look . Whew, welcome to the wild .
July 30, 2008
Port Au Basques touring Day
Terry and I set off on the tour of the area that Russ did yesterday while we rested. We headed out to Cape Anguille to see the lighthouse. I was all set to do my step exercise and climb to top but when we arrived we found it was not open to the public as it is still a navigation aid. The brochure I had, said Lighthouse Inn in the fine print. It is bed and breakfast advertised to provide quiet in the out buildings of the former lighthouse keeper. No phone, no TV . They did have a helicopter pad so maybe the rich and famous fly here for a quiet retreat. Once again we lucked out with NL weather. The fog burned off and we had a lovely day.
We headed for the city Port Au Basques where the ferry will carry us out of NL at 4 pm 7/31. We visited the Heritage Railway Museum and toured a former Newfie train. We saw the largest snow plow imaginable in front of the engine. We saw the first class passenger space, dining a car and mail car and caboose. The NL railroads used narrow gauge rails and all cars shipped over for use had to be retooled to become narrow rails. These train stopped running in 1980 something. They ran for almost 100 years and then the high winds proved fatal to their treks. It was worth a look at them to see this part of history now slowly rusting away.
Forty five KM east of Port Au Basques we traveled through wonderful scenery. Lush green tundra plants hovered over rolling hills with ponds and more ponds all over. They have no boulders as it looks like ice glaciers (once upon a time ) may have carried all the boulders to St Johns. We went to the end of the road to visit Rose Blanche Lighthouse. It is one of the only totally granite Lighthouses along the Atlantic Canada border. It became my favorite lighthouse so far. I loved the big carved granite stones. ( I think I was reminded of the recent book I read, Pillars of the Earth and the stone carver. ) The city of Rose Blanche restored this lighthouse in 1999 with an all volunteer effort. The pride in this landmark was wonderful. We had lunch at the bed and Breakfast Restaurant right at the path to the lighthouse and enjoyed the view. It was a very pleasant last day in Newfoundland!
July 31,2008 Ferry from Port au Basques
NL to North Sydney ,Nova Scotia
We boarded our Marine Atlantic Ferry at 3 pm for a 4 pm departure that was delayed an hour. The fare was $355.52 for 2 people and 59 feet of ferry space for motor home and car connected. $ 32.02 of this was a fuel tax added surcharge. The ride was smooth and in a very nice ship compared to the long ferry one month ago.
Terry and Russ started the voyage with soft serve ice cream while I headed for the lounge as I heard music. The onboard entertainment came in the form of a really good singer and the Newfie passengers. Seems there is a big Eagles concert in town 8/2 and 75% of passengers in the lounge were on their way to the concert. What a party! Those Newfies know how to have a good time. We just hoped they had designated drivers for the ride off the ferry. After a short 5 hour ride, we docked at 10 pm and used the bread crumbs on the GPS from last trip here to find our boon docking spot for the night. We will meet up with Jeff and Sue on Friday 8/1.
I am sad to leave Newfoundland. It has made it to my list of places to return. We had good weather almost everywhere and met wonderfully friendly people.
August 1, 2008 Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia
Seal Island North Sydney KOA
We spent the night at our familiar boon docking space near the ferry and traveled the short distance to the KOA where we had made arrangements to meet up with Jeff and Sue Cousin.
After determining that the guys could get the TV signal they required to get the Formula One Race ( After a long dry spell with no TV in Newfoundland) we stayed at the KOA in North Sydney. We toured the Alexander Graham Bell Museum in Breddock. It is amazing to hear about a guy so brilliant he invented not only the telephone but dozens of other significant inventions as well. A note I found of significance is that if he had gone to school in todays time he would likely have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. He was not successful in school due to his boredom and his grandfather was left to give him private schooling. The talk given by a Canada Parks guide made the museum as she filled us in on the history of the family and it helped to define the exhibits.
We dined with Jeff and Sue at a nearby restaurant recommended by the campground host and it offered two for one dinners. I enjoyed my scallops. We joined Jeff and Sue at their motor home and exchanged travel tips, campgrounds and tourist Must sees. We will leave in the morning for a tourist activity to be determined by the weather, either Cabot Trail or Louisburg.
August 2, 2008
Louisbourg, Nova Scotia Fortress of Louisbourg
Even though, the weather was overcast and misty we opted to trek down the coast to visit the National Historic Site of Canada, The Fortress of Louisbourg. Russ had been there 8 years ago so he opted out of the days activity. Jeff was designated as the driver for the day and the 4 of us set out on an adventure through Nova Scotia, which is very different from Newfoundland. The area is much more populated and tourist venues exist all over. Cute B& Bs with large expansive lawns and manicured gardens dot the highway. Most homes also have have well defined grassy yards and beautiful flower gardens. The coast would have looked even more picturesque if we had a sunny day but you get what you get when talking about the weather.
We arrived at the Fortress(not a fort) of Louisbourg. A Fortress encircles an entire community. It was founded in 1713 by the French and used as a busy sea port to send cod back to the mostly Catholic France who required 142 days of non meat eating days. It was also the Administrative capital of French holdings and a center of trade. In addition it was a military stronghold and naval base to protect French interests. It fell to British in 1758 for a final time. It became a National Historic Site in 1928.
The park is a Town site reconstructed in 1961 to 20% of its original size. Since no other city was built on top of it, archeologists were able to find foundations and recreate it in exact detail. Architectural drawing also existed that gave clues as to the nature of the Fortress in 1744. There are 25 buildings open for public view and exhibits were well done. The most special thing about this place to visit is that dozens of costumed people step into the role they might have had in the day and speak to us of their life in present tense. We spoke to guards, servants, society ladies, children , musicians and on and on. You can tell from the photos that weather helped to created the realistic picture of the hardships endured by early residents. It was rainy, cool damp misty and we all had water spotted glasses! There were no hot dogs nor McDonalds available for lunch. We were only given a spoon for our peasant meal of soup and dry bread. Terry had a hard time with this realistic feature of the times. I loved my split pea soup.
On the bus ride back to the parking lot an Acadian couple recommended that we tour the nearby Miners Museum in Cape Breton. So off we go, hi ho , hi ho Retired miners give guided tours of the Oceans Deep Colliery mine. We saw coal mining as it was done in the 1900s . All coal was loaded by hand shovel and for 65 cents a ton. Miners worked 12 hour days 6 days a week and like cod fishermen owed their soul to the company store! The mines were only built as high as the coal vein so we traveled in tunnels 4.5 foot high. Needless to say we had been issued hard hats and they did prove needed! Jeff and Terry had the hardest time with the height of the tunnels! These mines went out under the Atlantic Ocean where much coal still exists (and our ceilings dripped) but it hasnt been cost effective to mine for some time. With increased fuel costs private companies are now looking at the feasibility of reopening the mines.
We called Russ to join us for dinner at the end of a long touring day.
August 3 and August 4, 2008
Seal Island KOA North Harris , Nova Scotia
We started out to tour the Cabot Trail in misty cloudy weather. About 30 miles later it was now pouring and we could not see any scenery along the road. Jeff and Sue were following in their car and announced on our radios they were going to turn back and try the trip next month when they return from Newfoundland. We made the decision to try it tomorrow, at the next exit. We had breakfast in Baddeck at a wonderful bakery and retuned to the motor home. Later in the evening we joined Jeff and Sue for a lobster dinner at a restaurant overlooking the water. and then returned to Baddeck to enjoy some Cape Breton music. It was the Baddeck Gathering Ceilidh featuring fiddle music. It was a very entertaining evening and we stamped our feet to the music. I learned that one does not clap along to music when a fiddle is playing. You stomp your foot as clapping signifies you want them to stop.
8/4/08 While we had planned on taking the Cabot Trail today is still raining (harder than ever) so weve changed our plans and will stay another day here to try to catch some clear skies for our drive. Im taking the day off.
August 5, 2008 North Sydney, NS
Golden Arm RV Park
You may have noted that we moved to a new RV park today.(Within 12 miles from the last one). Here is the reason....
I went to bed last night at around 12 pm. It had continued to rain lightly all day and into the evening and now and then we heard thunder. Terry stays up to watch TV. When I was drifting off to sleep I thought I heard something fall off the bed. You know, a shoe, a jacket or whatever but then I realized I did not have anything on the bed to fall off. Nevertheless, I drifted off to sleep but I could not sleep as I smelled the smoke of electrical wires burning. I wandered out to the living room and told Terry he need to check the back. He wondered why I was interrupting his late night TV but I convinced him SMOKE was a good reason. I quickly dressed in real clothes, as now he has all the bedroom windows open . He trouble shoots the smell and the smoke for 2 hours and I fear the worst, our inverter is fried, our converter is fried, our 50 amp service is gone. Good news, the TVs and the computers work.
In the morning Terry figured out that the Circuit breaker surge protector had done its job. We wonder if lightning had struck something close by and caused a power surge. We asked KOA for a refund for the prepaid night and moseyed on down the road with Jeff and Sue and Russ to the Golden Arms RV Park to catch wi-fi. We watched big rigs get stuck in the grass following this 4th or 5th day of rain. So far I am not impressed with Nova Scotia weather . Terry still wants to try to do the Cabot Trail in the morning.
We opted to eat in tonight while Russ and Jeff and Sue went out to eat. I love my own cooking after eating out so many times.
August 6, 2008
Cabot Trail Drive, Nova Scotia
Today was Cabot Trail or Drown Day. Weve waited for 6 days for a clear day to do this trip. We awoke and it was foggy and rainy but what the heck we were going anyway. I radioed Russ on the CB to see if he was ready to leave in 5 minutes. He opted to pass on this trip. He visited Cabot Trail 8 years ago and was moving on down the road to Peggys Cove. So armed with tourist guides, camera, water, chips and topping off the fuel tank we headed off on this adventure. To our amazement the weather got better and better as we traveled. We had sun and rain but the showers were only in parts of the green tunnel roads. The Cabot Trail has been recognized as one of the top scenic roads in Canada. Tour brochures proved true today. What a wonderful day. We had history, scenic beauty, folk art, real art, wildlife , a National Park and many many photo opportunities.
The Cabot Trail is a loop drive in the Cape Breton part of Nova Scotia. It includes the Cape Breton Highland National Park , many scenic coastline villages, highland forests and some rolling fields. Down the road we saw a moose and her baby standing by the road but no time for a photo. Luckily on the other side of the island we saw a first for us .. A male moose munching on branches in the field along the road. Whoo hooo my heart beats fast when I see these guys along the road!
I added in stops at several local artist studios. Terry and I drove off the main route to a studio where we made a purchase of a lobster plate piece of pottery. It will be a souvenir of our Nova Scotia trip. We saw a funny tourist stop along the first part of the trip called Scarecrow Village. They have hundreds of figures in all kinds of scenes to entice the tourist to their lunch wagon. It was a hoot and too crowded to stay for lunch! We saw coastal scenery, crashing waves and a bit of fog covered mountain tops. It was a wonderful day topped off by our doctored up homemade frozen pizza at home. We heard from Russ and have our route plotted toward Halifax tomorrow. We need to replace the tires on our toad which have now exceeded 80,000 driving/ towing miles. We noted they are getting bald. So we are Costco bound in the morning!
August 7, 2008
Halifax, Costco Parking Lot
Terry and Betty have arrived in Halifax. We are parked in the Costco parking lot hoping to be first in line in the morning for new tires for the GMC Envoy. So far folks in Halifax have not been too friendly. OK, OK we did block the entire driveway when we could not make the turn into the parking lot. A car was not legally parked and we did not wish to run into him. Of course with car in tow, we can't back up. so we calmly get out, unhook car. Get it out of way. Back up and now we can swing in to make the turn. Problem solved. I'm reminded to be nice and to be patient when motorists or RVers have some troubles on the road.We too have internet and TV. It is cloudy but not rainy so it is a good day.
August 8, 2008
King Neptune Campground Near Halifax, Nova Scotia
We left our Costco parking lot campground at 1:00 PM. We have 4 wonderful new tires to the tune of nearly $1,000 including the 13% tax charged by Canadian Government. We followed the picturesque shoreline to Indian Head Cove and then to King Neptune Campground and found a beautiful sight that overlooks a wonderful cove. It rained a bit and we planned our next week of tourist activities. We will tour Halifax in the morning.
August 9, 2008
Halifax City Tour Halifax, Nova Scotia
Today was sunny and we were off to see sights recommended by tour books and Forum Friends. (thank you Ed) We first looked for a place to park. Weve forgotten about big cities and the crowds. We did not realize that the Busker Festival is in town that brings in thousands of visitors. We found a perfect spot right in front of the Saturday Farmers market. Russ looked for tomatoes and I looked for sweet corn and Terry looked for a place to stand where tourists would not run him over. I wanted to tour the Alexander Keith Brewery but tours are $17 and started at noon. Now, even with free samples I did not see the value of this tour.
We visited the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic to see nearly 26, 000 marine objects and displays about the nearly 10,000 shipwrecks that are along Nova Scotia waters. Among highlights for me was a 3-D video film on the remains of the Titanic. We saw displays on how the city of Halifax was the first to recover victims of the Titanic. Several sailors experienced what we could now call PTST after recovering bodies. We would learn more about the citys response to the tragedy later on the tour we took. I learned about the 1917 Halifax explosion that was the largest man made explosion before the atomic age. A ship collided with a munitions ship heavily laden with chemicals, explosives TNT and on an on and it blew up devastating over ½ of the population of the city. In todays population standard over 65,000 people would have been killed. The 1400 pound anchor was blown over 2 miles away. We saw the bronze statue of a World War II sailor that honors the thousands of sailors who passed through the port of Halifax.
We boarded a Grayline double- decker bus for a 3 hour city tour. I did not take notes so much of what I heard will become an interesting detail that did not stick but here are some details I do I recall. Halifax is the capitol of Nova Scotia and the second largest city in Canada ( by geographical area) The population is just under 500,000 so the city is called the Biggest Little City. It is also home of the second largest deep water harbor in the world. Do you know who has a harbor larger and deeper? The city is a nice blend of newly renovated buildings with the historical charm of the old renewed.
We were glad to be on a bus as the traffic was terrible in part due to the Busker Festival, where street artists perform their magic acts, juggling acts, some music and lots of fun. We toured the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site which is an impressive star shaped fort that is still guarded by the 78th Highlander Regiment. We hummed to the rhythm of the bagpipes and watched the changing of the guards. A most moving part of the tour was a visit to Fairview Lawn Cemetery to visit the graves of Titanic victims. The graves are arranged in a row to mimic the shape of the bow of a ship. A simple stone has been placed at each grave engraved with the name of the deceased if it was known.
Following the movie The Titanic a grave marked, J Dawson has kept with fresh flowers, money for upkeep and even room key with notes. It is thought to be the grave of Jack in the movie. The real Jon Dawson was a coal shoveled and would never had had contact with Titanic passengers so it isnt really Jack but you cant tell that to true love seekers. The body of only one child was recovered and it buried at a place of honor. The sailors who recovered the body contributed their own money for a very nice stone monument. It was given a place of honor among the victims and it was later learned that this child had been buried at the feet of his mother We toured the port, saw huge cargo containers being loaded on a ship in port.
We learned 3 cruise ships will be in town on Tuesday and made note to NOT return to Halifax on that day. We dined at a place Terry selected called Sweet Basil Bistro. However when he saw the menu he decided to go next door for fish and chips. Russ and I had halibut encrusted in sunflower seeds, with raspberry balsamic sauce served with vegetables and potatoes of gourmet quality. A FINE dining experience! We took the long way home and passed by Peggys Cove where we will return tomorrow for a deeper exploration.
August 10, 2008
Lunenburg , Nova Scotia
We got off today after we said good byes to friends we made from Florida. We stopped at the lobster pond next door to get the scoop on buying freshly cooked lobster which we will do tomorrow. We headed out to take photos as the weather was cooperative. We drove through Mahone Bay which is very picturesque and filled with artsy tourist shops. We did not stop, a fact that probably saved me some money.
We headed for Lunenburg and found a festival in session. We dined at the restaurant atop the Fisheries Museum. Then we attended the Fisheries Museum which was very well done and if we had opted to stay the entire day could have seen live demonstrations of a variety of sea life tasks from years ago including scallop shucking but no samples are provided. The city of Lunenburg has been designated a UNESCO Heritage site as the many buildings of the early 1700s are preserved and we enjoyed the colorful variety of Victorian homes. We did not get a chance to ride on the Bluenose II as it was being used as a stage for the festival singers. We listened to music coming from the wharf and we did not even have to buy a ticket.
As we circled the city looking for the perfect photo vantage point we stopped along the Harbor and Terry mentioned to a man sitting on his front porch that he had a great view. He came out to speak to us. It turns out his wife is the vice principal of the local high school. She has a retirement from BC already. We enjoyed their stories of how they made a move from Vancouver Island to Nova Scotia some 7,000 miles. This city is so colorful with unique architecture . Nova Scotia is very upscale and much more populated compared to Newfoundland. It reminds me of a Newport Beach of the Atlantic. Sailboats abound in the harbor and the waters are beautiful. It was a very pleasant day. Terry wants to take the day off from touring tomorrow as he is the driver daily and needs a rest. I am just loving this part of our trip. But then I have loved it all.
August 11, 2008
King Neptune Campground, Nova Scotia
Today was Terrys day off. We slept in (until 10:30 am) as he had watched the Olympics until 3 am. ( yeah American Olympic Swimming relay team!) I got in the mood to do a cleaning of the inside of the motor home. Pam would be so proud of me. I oiled all of the wood, washed all of the inside windows, cleaned all portions of the toilet, even with a toothbrush. I vacuumed, dusted, cleaned steps shook rugs, are you tired yet? It was a pleasure to do as I could look outside and see a wonderful view all day long. And the feeling of satisfaction in doing a hard days work speaks for itself. Even touring in wonderful destinations requires cleaning once in a while.
At noon, we went to the lobster pond next door, to order our dinner for tonight. We selected our very own 1.5 pound lobsters. We were to return at 5 pm to have them already cooked. At 4:30 I cooked the corn on the cob and set the picnic table outside Russ motor home as he has the best view. Armed with loads of paper towels, we devoured our lobster. Terry purchased a roller to use to get the lobster meat out of the legs. This is something we would not have to do at our favorite restaurant The Fish Company in Los Alamitos, California. But for $ 8.75 a pound, cooked, this was a deal. I would be intimidated to order a lobster like this in a restaurant but out here on the picnic table no one cared how messy we were. The view was to die for and we think we are so fortunate to have such a life. We will order lobster again tomorrow.
August 12, 2008
King Neptune Campground, Peggys Cove
We repeated last nights meal. See yesterday for photos. Not to worry Daisy, after a lobster meal two days in a row I am tired of lobster. It is rich and the butter,,, oh the butter too much for 2 nights in a row. But Terry would tell you a different story.
We toured Peggys Cove, this morning along with many, many tour busses off the cruise ships today. We saw the Peggy Show and had a few laughs. We will return when the weather is better and the crowds less. We then drove off to see the SS Atlantic Memorial, a tribute to 390 lost passengers on the lesser known ship in 1912 just prior to the Titanic loss. These waters are full of rocks and it is easy to see that a ship could be lost if it happened to have the misfortune to navigate them by mistake.
We spent time in Halifax today having the oil changed in the car. Some things are not very glamorous even if we are traveling.
August 13, 2008 Indian Head
Still at King Neptune Campground, Peggys Cove
We returned today to the world famous Peggys Cove for photos because yesterday was filled with tourists from over 7,000 passengers visiting from 3 huge cruise ships in Halifax today. We had patches of blue sky and were thrilled with the sights. While we have seen many, many picturesque fishing villages and lighthouses all over Newfoundland, the harbor here at Peggys Cove looks like it was laid out by an artist for the right composition no matter which angle you chose to look. I visited gift shops and art galleries. I fell in love with a ship model made from driftwood. It was called Ghost ship but I did not make a purchase. It is just fun to see how creative artists can be with found objects.
We then toured the Memorial to the Swiss Air Flight that crashed off shore in 1998, killing all 229 passengers aboard. The Memorial is done along two shores that form a triangle pointing to the crash sight on the horizon. Little is said of the crash itself so I did a Google search and learned the details. It just confirms that the way we will continue to travel is by motor home. It was a very solemn memorial and makes me grateful again for every day.
Terry and I then drove the route around Aspotogan Peninsula. We found white sandy beaches and people out enjoying the warmth (?) of the day. We rested in the afternoon and caught up on the Olympic events collecting on our TIVO.
It's time for the 60 Day Expense Report
Fuel includes motorhome & auto.
Meals includes groceries & restaurants.
Lodging is campgrounds.
Miscellaneous is everything else...mostly sightseeing/tour fees & souvenirs, Ferry fees...But not the new tires for the Envoy
$193.18 a day for two people. We Have Not SKIMPED on anything.
August 15, 2008
Digby, Nova Scotia Digby Campground (902) 245-1985
I was sad to leave King Neptune Campground with our view of the sea but it helped when (within 10 minutes) clouds blew in and made a cloudy day. We traveled inland through spruce forests today and some were Christmas tree farms and lots of farmlands were present today. We ended up in Digby. Rvparkreviews.com website has been helpful in locating neat campgrounds that meet our need for clear cut, clear views of southern skies and easy access. We checked in the office at our park and got very friendly advice on where to spend our late afternoon.
Digby is known as the scallop capitol of Canada. We toured The Digby Neck which is a long thin strip of land connecting two islands which we crossed by ferry. As I was reading the tour books to the guys I looked up and the sky had changed from sunny to a very foggy day. We giggled and moved on. We have been so fortunate with our weather that this was a new experience for us. Terry and I hiked about a mile out to see Balancing Rock. It was a true step aerobic experience as the last ¼ mile was all downhill stairs getting to the coastline but was all uphill on the way back up. This was a deep calorie burn walk. We saw neat mushrooms in the bogs along the way and the foggy forests were a bit creepy a but kept me walking fast. The little coves we saw were indicative of the big tides we are about to see. We saw a harbor of sand with boats sitting in the middle of the harbor waiting for water to return . It is every bit as picturesque as Peggys Cove minus all the tourists. We went out to eat and sampled the scallops. While they were delicious the meal was not memorable. Side dishes are not special in most restaurants. The scallops I made at home last night were far better and less expensive but I had to make them and clean up.
We have a big touring day tomorrow.
August 16, 2008
Today Russ took a day off while Terry and I toured the area like maniacs. We first visited The Annapolis Royal Tidal Power Project. It is the one of 3 such plants in the world and the only one in North America. It produces electricity from the tides. The displays inside gave me hope for our future that really smart people will soon figure out how to produce our energy needs without depleting all the fossil fuels. A 3 meter turbine is being installed in the ocean to use tidal action for electrical energy production. It wont even show above the surface. We saw how the osprey nests are moved to safety when they regretfully build their nests atop power poles.
From here we moved on the visit Port Royal National Historic Site--The Habitation. It is a 1605 French site recreated in minute detail thanks to the detailed drawings left by Samuel de Champlain. Costumed staff adds to the authenticity of the hardships endured by early explorers and pioneers lives compared to my own life where a hardship is 15 amp power. It was a trading post fortified as were all settlements in the past. It is on the shores of the Annapolis River and in a beautiful setting that would have been even more lovely with sun, but our weather was cool.
From there we toured the lovely village of Annapolis Royal. It boasts of history from 1630 and includes wonderful examples of Victorian architecture . The village has only 500 residents but today was filled with tourists as it was Paint the Town Red Day. Local artists were out doing their thing and will sell their work at a silent auction later in the day. We enjoyed dancers of the day showing off their lovely dress accompanied by flute music out on the wharf. We just lucked out to have all this entertainment. We like the spontaneity of coming up on community events we had no idea were about to happen.
A short walk away led us to Fort Anne, the oldest National Historic Site in Canada, so designated in 1917. This historical area was one of the most fought after territories in North America between British and French. Over 3,000 years ago the MiKmaq claimed this site. Then in 16 and 17 hundreds it was a center of colonization called Acadian by the French. The 4 panel tapestry that depicts 400 years of history was done by 100 local volunteers in needle point and is a highlight of the visit. We learned that the French Acadians were driven out of the area because they would not declare and Oath to England. They had for years preferred to declared a neutral status in wars and because of that British feared their loyalty and had them deported. Very cruel stories followed. We also viewed a video that showed why star shaped forts were developed.
A major highlight of todays touring was the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens where I had a chance to stop and smell the roses. We had the bonus that a saxophone player was giving a personal concert to visitors of the grounds today. Terrys best photos of the day are of the flowers. The theme gardens demonstrate gardening techniques of the early Acadians and modern methods. I wish Winnie, my Mother in Law, could have seen these gardens.
We were exhausted by the end of the 63 mile touring day. At 8:25 pm Russ announced the sky. Wow! We hope to take a day off tomorrow.
August 19, 2008
Truro, Nova Scotia, Elm River Park, 902 662-3162
We left Digby this morning and hit the road. We traveled through farm lands, forests and were near the coast. At one point we traveled over a bridge where we could see tides below. I saw many river rafters on the tidal bore below.
We ended up in Elk River Park a Good Sam Campground Russ visited 8 years ago. While we were trying to set up, we experienced torrential rains and very heavy lightening and thunder. I wish I could send sound to all of you.
Ka boom .. I did not want to go outside this rig in that weather so I fixed enchiladas and had Russ over for dinner. During the cooking of the meal, the convection oven went off. I made a newbie mistake of having too many things on with only 30 amp service. Seems the water heater kicked on and ended my cooking. I phoned the manager and within a few minutes had my power backup to 30 amp with only a slightly bruised ego. Terry said How many times do I have to tell you this? Seems one more time .
The enchiladas were just ok. We combed the tide charts to see when the best viewing time will happen tomorrow for the Tidal Bore. Russ will check out the viewing points in the morning.
It has stopped raining and we have the Olympics again. I hate lightning.
August 20, 2008
Truro Nova Scotia Tidal Bore
We got a late afternoon start on our touring. Russ had scouted out the town 8 years ago and led us on a city tour of Truro this afternoon. Thirty years ago Dutch Elm disease called for the removal of diseased elms. The city fathers sought to make lemonade out of lemons and contracted carvers to make statues out of trees that remind visitors of the history of the community. We snapped photos of many but there are 43 of them so we did not see them all.
We followed the tidal schedule and had a front row seat to watch this tide come in. Before today I did not even really know what a Tidal Bore is. The interpretive center described this phenomena. There are only a few places in the world where one can see this event. If I understand it right, the tides happen as a result of the earths gravitational pull. On the open ocean one cannot see the tide but in outlets such as this Bay of Fundy, the inflow of water is visible. The roar of the incoming tide was noticeable. We estimate about a 2 foot tide. The video at the center said the water that flows into the Bay of Fundy is equivalent to all the water flows of rivers in the entire world. At some river outlets they even have rafting trips on the tides. It was way too wet and cold for us to consider such a thrill. It was enough to watch this wave come into the Salmon River and make it look like the river flows up stream instead of out to the ocean.
We plotted our next venture onto Prince Edward Island tomorrow via Ferry. We have spent 3 weeks on Nova Scotia and enjoyed it all but Newfoundland is still my favorite.
August 21, 2008
Prince Edward Island, Southport RV Park 902 569-2287
We said good bye to our 21 days in Nova Scotia today. We took the free 75 minute ferry ride today to Prince Edward Island, known as the Gentle Island. (All roads onto the island are free. It will cost us to leave!) It is the size of Delaware. Our initial impressions are that it is farmland dotted with spanking white homes with BIG lawns. I cant believe how much lawn they mow. We are at a beautiful RV park overlooking the harbor in Charlottetown. If you get what you pay for, this works. This is the most expensive RV park weve used on our trip and it is also the most beautiful setting. I am watching a beautiful sunset and seeing elegant blue herons glide to landings. It was a gloriously blue beautiful weather day that we come to treasure on a trip where rain can cloud a day in minutes.
Unfortunately on the way we traveled through a construction zone that trashed the motor home and car with a black tar kind of spatter. Terry spent hours cleaning it up on our arrival. I took the car to a car wash. I found a place to get my prescription refilled and got a hair cut. It was a very productive day.
We heard from RV Forum friends Ron and Shirley Maribito and made plans for them to meet us with us in the morning when they make a day trip to the island. Life continues to be good.
I have a big (60) birthday coming up on Saturday and am trying to figure out the most special things to do on MY big day. I have already made purchases to honor my years of service and had them sent to Pams house.
August 22, 2008
Charlottetown City Tour
Today was a perfect summer weather day. The temperature turned 76 and was the warmest we have seen all summer. We were treated to a visit by Ron and Shirley who drove in from New Brunswick for the day. We shared the favorite places we had visited and Terry shared our photos on the big screen TV. After a hurried lunch at Wendys we were able to make the London Double decker bus tour of the city. Charlottetown is considered the birthplace of the confederation. Lots of history here.
We were told that the reason for the red soil here on PEI is tht God created the world in 6 days and on the 7th day when he looked down on PEI, he blushed. We also learned that you can only buy alcohol at State Liquor Stores. Seems in the 30s their congress decided that alcohol could only be sold with a Doctors prescription. Well an epidemic followed and congress changed their mind on the RX deal. We snapped photos of the old buildings and some of the newer. The City is beautiful. I checked out the Anne of Green Gables Chocolate shop. After saying our good byes to Ron and Shirley Terry found a barber shop as I strolled through the Confederation of the Arts Buildings.
We plan to drive the Points East Coastal Drive tomorrow. My goal is the 5 lighthouses, several beaches and one winery. Depending on how we feel after a long day will decide what our evening brings. We had some good news that we do not have to move spots tomorrow. We get to keep this glorious view spot. We only wish we could set up chairs and tripods and enjoy the photo ops, but the mosquitoes are ferocious and have us sitting safely inside our rigs.
August 23, 2008
My 60th Birthday Prince Edward Island, East Coast
A tough day. A new decade. A new sense of urgency that life is short. We toured from early morning to late evening. We drove through the pristine countryside of PEI. Lots of coves, coasts, lighthouses and lunch. We saw nearly 94 historic sites or beaches today. We did skip a few of them as I was on overload. My most favorite part of the day was a visit to the local winery. I liked their Chardonnay very much. The beaches are red sand. It got up to 82 today so it was very nice beach weather and we saw a few folks enjoying them. This island seems much more modern and up to date than others weve visited. There are lots of pretty churches and historic cemeteries that genealogists could use to trace ancestors, or so the tour book says. We went to dinner at a Mexican place as I was trying to feel like being at home. The margarita was ok and the fajitas very good. We will go see a dinner show here in Charlottetown to continue on with the birthday celebration.
August 24, 2008
More on Yesterday
Todays first entry is a supplement to my birthday posting yesterday. It had been such a long day that I lost steam near the end of evening. Highlights I neglected to mention on our East Coastal Drive of PEI yesterday are included here. The mosquitoes were ferocious. Locals say that with the 21 straight days of rain they had and now this nice weather the mosquitoes are having a hey day. No one is immune. When visiting a very interesting site yesterday we were eaten alive. There was a sign along the road that said Bottle Village Open. We turned down a private driveway to a see a village created by the local home owner behind his home. NO admission, no toll booth, no donation bottle . He was simply sharing his hobby. He was on his mowing tractor when we arrived. When he saw us he hollered that we should go in the buildings. Now the bugs were swarming so I was just going to dash to the car but he got off his tractor and proceeded to give us a personal tour. I said, You must be retired to have this much time for such projects. . He laughed and said no he is the local school bus driver. School starts on September 4. Inside the building is where you could really see the unique nature of this construction. I asked where he got his materials and he said he stopped drinking 32 years ago so now his neighbors bring him bottles. I saw my favorite Lindemans in a top row. I went inside the little church and inside the little school house. He names each structure after one of his grandchildren. You wont get this kind of detail on a city bus tour. We were happy with our viewing and trotted back to the safety of our car to spray with Cutters and treat our bites with Benedryl and Kleenex, first wiping away the blood. These critters are nasty but did not spoil the day. We got extra exercise at the lighthouse to swipe away mosquitoes too.
At the Rossignol Winery, we met the vintner who boasted that he has recently completed a goal of kayaking around the entire PEI island. He did it in sections between a full time work schedule. It took him 3 years to complete his goal. He looked about my age. I was equally impressed with the quality of his Chardonnay. He gave many restaurant recommendations on the island. Forgot to tell you too that we had Cow's ice cream, a double scoop after dinner! Worlds's best.
August 24 & August 25
2008 Blue Heron Drive, Prince Edward Island, Canada
Im combining entries for 2 days. Yesterday we did the Blue Heron Drive that cuts across PEI at the middle and covers both south and north coasts. It was much more spectacular scenery and more interesting than the east coast, AND it was a shorter trip. The route was aptly named as we saw many, many blue herons standing proudly in waters along the road. We also saw them take flight. I just love those birds. The island does not have any mountains or even hills of significance but there is no flat area either. The rolling hills today were peppered with beautifully manicured farms. Even the round hay bales seem to be placed just so. Fences between farm fields are lovely rows of bushes. We saw numerous churches and because it was Sunday morning we noted filled parking lots so lots of folks here attend church. The beaches are all red sand. The fishing villages are picturesque.
We stopped at the Confederation Bridge and watched a video on its construction. I will save my comments on this magnificent, impressive marvel for the day we actually cross it. I may even purchase the video on how it was made.
We stopped at the Anne of Green Gables National Park of Canada and I went in to see the Gables House from the book. Terry stayed in the car. I have never seen so many guys sitting in the car in the parking lot and yet lots of women and children in touring the grounds. Parks Canada guides give very good tours and it is amazing to me how such a fictional story has had an impact on a tiny island. We got home in time to attend a dinner show at the Charlotte Hotel who boasts the longest running dinner theatre. We saw the Nearly Weds which was funny, entertaining, musical and a very enjoyable evening. A bonus was the meal. My salmon and Terrys chicken were among the best meals out weve had on our trip. We sat at a very international table. One of the guests was a visiting actor from the sister show held in Summerside. Another couple was from Ontario near Toronto. A mother and son joined us. They live in Kensington a few miles away but she is from Trinidad and he was born raised in PEI and now lives in Dublin Ireland working for Microsoft. He could not see the hype on Anne of Green Gables. Said he never even read the book. What an industry for a small province.
Today our last tourist event in Charlottetown was a visit to Founders Hall to view a wonderfully done interactive audio visual story that brought Canadian history to life. History can be dull but the headphones we wore and the games we played in the time machine as it went back to 1860s made learning about how the Confederation unfolded was fun and informative. I learned a chief reason for the joining of colonies was their fear that America would attack. Another motivation was to join the country with a railroad. Canadian history is very interesting and I enjoyed following their development with the things that were happening in USA at the time.
We visited a Sandlot of sand sculptures done each year. What a skill.
We move on in the morning rain or shine.
August 26, 2008
Borden-Carlton near North Cape Drive on PEI Sun and Shade Campground (902) 855-3492
After some mighty loud thunder last night and a steady rain, we awoke to fair skies and huge Cruise ship in the harbor across from us. It was time to get out of Dodge and avoid the crowds. We moved grand total of 45 miles to a spot near the Confederation Bridge. It will be our base camp as we complete our tour of PEI. I wandered, by myself, back to all of the gift stores at Gateway and visited the Welcome Center again to view the museum and video describing sights to see on the island. I bought chocolate from Anne of Green Gables store and bought Raspberry Cordials for Terry. I took shots of that massive bridge and bought the DVD of its construction. If you get to our home you will have the obligatory viewing.
I returned to the small village of Victoria, a town that we passed over due to time yesterday. I visited the cutesy shops and then wandered out on their pier. I saw lots of tourists taking shots so I nosed my way in and looked over the side of the wharf to see a boat load of big shells. I wondered what they were and was told they were clams. Ive never seen such big clams. Two guys in a little boat were unloading the clams which were held in big plastic tubs, onto their trailer. In another larger boat I saw tubs of crabs being hoisted out of that boat onto the wharf to a waiting truck. Each tub was being weighed as it entered the boat. Now this is what I call Catch of the day.
The topping of this day was the long awaited trip to see The Storm an authentic Celtic production put on by the College of Piping in Summerside. This was a very professional production that exceeded my expectations with bagpipes, drummers, one singer and island step dancing along with a harp. Bagpipes are loud when you purchase front row seats. Russ purchased 5 new CDs.
August 27, 2008
North Cape Coastal Drive, PEI
We set off at 9 am for this long 300 km drive of the north coast of PEI. Terry used Hilda, our GPS to find a McDonalds to fortify us with egg Mac Muffins. We followed the route and the first mentionable stop was the Bottle House. This was a hobby of a regular kind of guy before recycling. He found his bottles in the dump. His set up is a display of bottles, gardens and fun. The buildings have been redone and are still wonderful. His gardens are beautiful as is his coastal view. We traveled up through Acadian territory evidenced by their flags flying and the French language we heard while inside magnificent Catholic Church in Mont Carmel. The coastal drive was spectacular with red cliffs, red sand beaches and white waves crashing on red water gave quite a contract to the colors I am used to seeing at the beach. The scenery was open fields and we could see lots of neatly planted green rows of potatoes. In OLeary we spent some time in the Potato Museum. I never knew there were so many types of potatoes. We have been seeing signs along the road for Irish Cobbler. I thought it was a PEI kind of dessert but I learned it is a variety of potato that mature early. It is not sold commercially as it does not store well. PEI produces lots of potatoes. We learned some of the big Processing plants we see along the road make potato chips. The dont give tours nor samples. Darn .
Following the suggestions by Jeff and Sue we stopped at the Seaweed Café for lunch. I had mussels and seaweed pie. OK Jim Johnson, I know you told us about pickle pie and pinto bean pie. Now I can tell you about Sea weed pie. It was a greenish flavored cream on top of what appeared to be angel food cake. It was dolloped with whipped cream and drizzled in fresh raspberry sauce. Yum. I did not taste any seaweed. Seems anything we have with a thickened consistency may well have seaweed extract in it. We watched a video on the harvesting of seaweed, kelp beds done here in PEI for years. Horses used to drag rakes around the ocean floor during storms to harvest the washed up sea weed. I sampled the hand lotion thickened with the seaweed. It was very nice. I leaned ice cream also has it. So there you go.
We drove on up the coast to the North Cape. This beautiful day awarded us with a tremendous vista of the seas at the end point. The lighthouse was not memorable but the water was cold as I just had to dip my foot in water from the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and Northumberland Strait as it converges on the longest rock reef in North America. There is an interesting Interpretive Center on the Wind mill farm there. They advertise having the largest wind mill in North America, curious so does the one in Quebec claim to be the largest in North America. Does not matter to me. Terry got his first souvenir of the trip, a very nice t shirt. On our way back down the coast we came to the city of Alberton with numerous murals painted all over the city. It sure dresses up a city to see what their history looks like painted on the sides of buildings. We finally hit home at 7:30 pm. Whew what a day. I vote NOT to have such long driving days again. We will stay another night here near the Confederation Bridge and hit the road in the morning for New Brunswick. We hope to connect some time with Forum friends Ed and Donna during our 4 day stay in Shediac.
August 28, 2008
Touring Summerside, PEI
Today was one of those touring days where we had only a couple of destinations but found more treasures. I wanted to return to the city of Summerside, the second largest in PEI to visit a couple of museums and take photos of the murals we had seen while passing through yesterday. While searching for a fox mural we stumbled on the International Fox Museum. We learned that PEIs economy was a big benefactor of the fox breeding industry in the early 1900s. The rich and famous worldwide wanted the rare silver fox. The middle class wore the red fox clothing. The foxes were bred in farms and netted up to $7,300.00 a pelt. Not bad money for the early 1900s. The demand for pelts diminished by the late 40s and the price dropped so very little is now done with the industry but we did see the huge homes built with profits. At one time the PEI economy was helped tremendously by this trade. PETA would have had a fit.
The guide was so knowledgeable that when he recommended that we tour the Wyatt house, we took him up on the recommendation. We toured 3 historic properties that were donated to the city by a Cecilia Wyatt, a wealthy woman who had no children. She lived to be 102 and her legacy of the rich and famous lifestyle lives on in her home and furnishings. Touring the inside of the homes we usually just drive by was a real treat. The history in the towns comes alive when given a personal tour. We snapped murals of the city too.
On the way back to the campground I asked Terry to stop at a Woodworking artist studio. There I found wonderful quality wood works and purchased a birds eye maple lazy Susan . The evening was topped off when I learned that A Confederation Trail music event was being held in our campground and was free to campers. Russ and Terry did not care to attend this bluegrass event so I went on my own. Not bad when you can walk to the show.
We will leave PEI in the morning and have wonderful memories of a beautiful gentle island.
August 29, 2008
Shediac, New Brunswick Wishing Star Campground Etoile ( 506) 532-6786 Passport Park
We crossed the Confederation Bridge this morning from PEI to New Brunswick. The bridge is 13 Kilometers or about 9 miles long. Due to the very cloudy day, we could not see much but I noted how high over the water we were for so long. It is a 2 lane highway with no passing allowed. The toll for us with our tow car was $55.00. This was less than the Ferry so we saved money by crossing the bridge rather than returning by ferry whose fare would have been over $100. It was exciting to cross such a modern miracle of engineering. When I review the DVD I purchased on its construction I will report back to you with the details of its construction. If you happen to come to our home in Yuma Im sure you will get a chance to see it.
The highlight of the day was our visit to see our newly met Forum friends, Ed and Donna who live outside of Halifax, NS but have a summer cottage in Shediac, NB. Ed has been following our trip through Atlantic Canada and graciously invited us to his cottage for supper tonight. His wife Donna attended a funeral today and did personal family errands outside of town today but still managed to have supper for 3 strangers from this RV Forum tonight. Their gracious offer for dinner to weary travelers was welcomed and appreciated. So often on trips we drive by homes but never really see inside how folks live. Their remodeling efforts on a long time family cottage are impressive but even more so their hospitality! We traded stories on our history of getting into the RV life style and some of the history of our family issues. related to old age. I guess we should all just live each day. My only sorrow of the evening is that despite bringing our camera, no one snapped any photos. Too bad. Ed is quite nimble in the kitchen. We will take advice given tonight of activities in the area and continue touring in the morning as the weather is forecasted to clear.
August 30, 2008
Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick
Still hearty tourists we drove off this morning to see some highs and some lows at Hopewell Rocks. We arrived to purchase tickets (good for today and tomorrow) in a swarm of treacherous salt water marsh mosquitoes. Swatting and spitting I made a quick trip back to the car to get the repellant. Terry and I walked the twenty minute path through thick trees to the viewing platforms. We could see the shore below filled with water and hoo doo type structures protruding up from the water. We snapped photos and left with the plan to return at 3 pm to walk on the ocean floor at low tide.
In the mean time we drove the Bay of Fundy Coastal Drive and visited Cape Enrage. This little lighthouse was not being maintained any longer as it is now automated and was scheduled to be demolished. A group of local high school students from Moncton decided to take it on as a salvage project. It is very nicely done and affords tremendous views up and down the coast. I did think of Sue Cousins when I saw that I would have the opportunity to ride on the zip line but I elected to go to the former lighthouse keepers residence which is now a lovely restaurant and have homemade soup for lunch. Diet will start 9/1. We enjoyed the muddy rivers as we could see tides retreating. We also saw numerous blue herons again today. We explored the tiny town of Alma a bit and took photos of the boats in the water and could see the water lines from a higher tide.
When we returned to Hopewell Rocks at 3pm we took the shuttle bus ride to the rocks as wed had enough exercise for one day. It was clear now how the name flower pots became a nick name for these rocks. The formations have a small forest of trees on top. This time the water was gone and we were able to walk over the grounds, rock and mud. Little kids were loving the muddy bottom and had a blast. I was careful as I traversed over the rocks with my camera in hand. The erosion over time makes some of the places too dangerous to go and have been roped off. We are also give VERY clear instructions on the time we must be back up the steps to avoid a quickly returning tide. The rides rise and fall the equivalent of a 4 story building. What a thrill.
Back in Shediac we took advantage of the sunny afternoon to photograph the large lobster sculpture at the entrance to town. Shediac is known as the lobster capital of the world and the figure says it all.
August 31 and September 1, 2008
Shediac, New Brunswick
You have not heard from me for the past couple of days because we have not done anything special. It has been a nice change of pace to just hunker down in the motor home and wait out this storm. We have had a steady rain, day and night, with gusting winds. I have a lovely water view and noted white caps and water flowing over the rocks. As I have been watching Hurricane Gustov on TV, I have not felt sorry for myself with this weather event. We have extended here for a couple of more days hoping for a clear day to see a few more local sights. Many of the tourist places claim to be the biggest, best, oldest, highest, first and a slew of other superlatives. They can all fool us as it is all new to us and still enjoyable.
The tourist scene is on the decline. Several of the shops here in this beach town are closed up. When we phoned The Garrison Historic District we learned they are no longer having the Changing of the Guard Ceremony as most of them are students who have had to return to school. The good news is that Passport America rates are now good which give us 50% off at membership parks.
I took the opportunity today to renew my commitment to Weight Watchers. I got out all of my books and will be seriously counting points until I am back in goal range. The fun Ive had sampling large portions of local cuisine has now come home to haunt me. Ive even gotten out the rubber shoes I bought while in wet Alaska and may attempt to walk in the rain for exercise but I kinda doubt it.
September 2, 2008
Shediac, New Brunswick Beautiful Day
It is amazing how the weather can be so dramatically different within a day. Today was sunny and beautiful. The mosquitoes all seemed have drowned in the rain and wind of the past couple of days. Im rested up as a tourist and we set out for big adventures today that included Costco.
Our first stop was the Magnetic Hill. Now this is admittedly a complete tourist thing, but we really enjoyed the illusions created. We drove into the Theme park and told the guy at the kiosk, We dont want to go to the water park, nor to the zoo nor to the restaurants nor to the Winery, we just want to drive to the hill. No problem he says and $5.00 later we can take as many trips up and down that we like. There was a large tour bus in front of us and we watched him . We parked at the designated spot, put the car into neutral and then we rolled backwards up the hill. Im not kidding. It felt as if we were coasting up hill. My brain is easily tricked so I decided to walk the drive. Sure enough my legs we tired at the end as it was an uphill trek but it sure didnt look like it. What a fun illusion. We made several trips and Terry took photos of the GPS to see just how steep the hill.
From there the tour books lured us to the small quaint Village of Sackville. It claims to be the Cultural Capital of Canada. I checked out a few art galleries and museums that were closed today. Tourist season is definitely coming to an end. The local University is in session and it was fun to see the students all over the beautiful campus of stone buildings. I noted the Elementary and Middle schools also in session. I love being retired.
Back in Shediac we took advantage of the Pont de Chene Wharf and viewed the calm blue waters today along with the lovely sand beaches that boast the warmest waters north of Virginia. Too bad we were not here earlier in the summer to enjoy the warm days too.The highlight of our evening was a surprise visit from Ed and Donna who came to wish us farewell as we head south in the morning. We told them all about our last few days and they gave us hints on things to do and see for our next destinations. It was an official rally as we did take photos this time!
September 3, 2008
Saint John, New Brunswick, Rockwood Campground
We moved 100 miles south today to Saint John and ended up in a wonderful campground in that it has huge spaces with clear views of southern skies. We trotted off to lunch at the restaurant overlooking the Reversing Falls. The Bay of Fundy is said to have its anchor here. We watched a video on the geography of the area and how the gravitational pull of the moon cause this bulge in the water that forms the tides. We could see the lovely enclosed power boat cruises on the water below our restaurant view. We also saw the crazy folk in the jet boats zipping through the rapids below. Guess what we are going to do in the morning? We were told we were guaranteed to get soaking wet. Oh Boy.
This is a very interesting city with many old Victorian style mansions and brightly colored buildings mixed with new buildings.The crowds around town today were hefty as there were 3 large cruise ships in the harbor today. I picked up information in the visitor center and despite being a very tired tourist, I saw dozens of things that were of interest to me. We may stay here longer than planned. It rained all afternoon so I had a chance to read all the tour books. I will be fixing meals in motor home as much as possible to use up the items we will not be able to take back into the USA.
September 4, 2008
Saint John, New Brunswick Reversing Falls
It was a bright blue sky day with a high of around 70. Just perfect for our planned Jet Boat ride on the reversing falls which gave us a very up close and personal look at the power of the tides and an appreciation for the amount of water going in first one direction, then flatten (slack tide) and then go out in the other. Terry and I donned our raingear, jackets and pants and rubber shoes from our Alaska wardrobe. Russ was to be the photographer.
We reported at 10:50 am and took photos of the rapids out front. Yesterday when we were there the tide was coming in and water somewhat calm. NOT so today, tide was retreating so the St John River was rushing in and causing big rapids and whirlpools and waves and moving so terribly fast. I was having some hesitation but we had already paid for the trip and the crowds were gone. There were only two other women with us on the jet boat. We were advised to put on their rain gear and remove our watches, keys, glasses and shoes. Yep, even though our shoes were rubber we were advised to remove them. We were told we would get wet. So be it.
Our jet boat Captain gave us a lesson on the tides and advised us of the safety standards. He is from Quebec, had a very strong French accent and later I learned just how sadistic he could be. We walked down the gang plank to our front row seat on the boat. I was kinda hoping we could sit in the second row and be sheltered a bit from the water spray but no we got front row seats.
A jet boat is very smooth, does not make a lot of noise but moves quickly and turns on a dime. Mark the driver ( and owner of company) took us out directly into the thrashing current, made a sharp circular turn into a wave and we were swamped, Not splashed, not wet a little but completely drenched to the bone. Water came in my ears, in my nose and down my neck. So much for water proof clothing. Mark looked back at his passengers and grinned an evil grin. We were all laughing. He asked us if we knew what the black birds nearby were. I said they looked like cormorants to us but he said they were vultures and laughed and grinned an evil grin. He was a kick. He talked to us about the whirlpools and then let us experience them. He took us over the rapids again and again and then out to the calm river.
He assured us there were no rocks creating these rapids but just the volumes of waters trying to levelize themselves to the incoming tides. Each trip over the rapids created this wave that reminded me of swimming in large surf in the ocean and having a huge wave crash right on your head. When it was over I hobbled up the gang plank, sat down for a while and could finally relax enough to say I enjoyed this event. You will get wet is an understatement. What a memory making experience!
We drove back to motor home to change into dry clothes and catch a city bus tour but that shall be part 2 of todays story.
September 5, 2008
St Andrews and St Stevens Side Trips
Today was another bright sunny day so we headed south of Saint John to visit St Stevens. Now I am one of those people who can typically live their whole life without chocolate. (Chips and Salsa are another story) Well I think I had just never met the right chocolate. Our destination today, The Ganong Chocolate Museum, was at the recommendation of several friends. All I can say to them is thank you , thank you! I learned that Ganong Bros. is a Canadas oldest candy making company and was founded in 1873.
The Museum is located in their former chocolate and candy-making factory . The museum tells the story of the history of this family owned company. The 5th generation Ganong family is still running the company. The company survived the depression and sugar rationing and is still able to compete with the big candy makers like Hersheys and Cadburys. We saw videos of the factory making candy. Factory tours are no longer offered as folks with peanut allergies and insurance liabilities stopped this touring a year or so ago. The best part of this visit was that they offered all the chocolate you could eat! It was a bargain since our admission fee was only ½ price as we had been given a 2 for 1 coupon at the visitor center. The chocolate covered almond flavored caramels were my favorite. It was hard to fit the tasting in with my Weight Watcher points. I did not get much else to eat the rest of the day but boy was it worth it. We saw sculptures of chocolate and very interesting handmade boxes. This company was the first to introduce heart shaped boxes. Some of the machines still used in production today date back to 1912. They do mail order business and you can shop online at www.ganong.com. I will be doing this for special occasions.
Since St Stephens is right on the border with Calais , we took the opportunity to see where we will be crossing the border back into the USA in a few days. I am also reading up on the food items I will not be able to bring back into USA and having meals to use up that food.
From This little town we ventured back up coast to St. Andrews, one of the oldest and loveliest resort towns in the Maritimes.( or says the tour books) This historic quaint town offered us the first clam chowder we have been able to find in a long while. Seafood chowder is the usual fare but we wanted the clam variety . It was yummy and we had a seat overlooking the bay while noticing dozens of tourists get off of the whale watching vessels. I let the guys have a seat on the town benches while I took a leisurely stroll through the shops. Many art shops offered the crafts of artists from New Brunswick. If I had not already picked up so many souvenirs I may have had to make a purchase but enough is enough. St Andrews was founded right after the American revolutionary war. Colonist who were still loyal to the King of England, picked up lock stock and barrel and moved. We were told some even took their homes down piece by piece and transported them here by barge. There are many old historic homes in this small town. Parking was free and the atmosphere festive. They have a wonderful campground out on the end of the Bay and had we known it may have been a good place to stay as we neared the border. There is lovely golf course and nice park on the water as well. Are you reading this Jeff?
Our final tourist stop was at the Huntsman Outdoorsciences Aquarium. A local fisherman found a 22 pound lobster estimated to be over 35 years old. After much city debate it was decided that this gal nicknamed Dee Dee should not be boiled but preserved in this tank for to visitors to see. The lobster fetched $1000 for the fishermen. Lobster are expensive any way you see it! She was shy and hid behind the wall but I did capture a photo of her claw with my hand for perspective.
My passengers slept in the car as I took my turn and drove us home back to Saint John.
September 6, 2008
Saint John City Bus Tour
Today was foggy and rainy. I did not leave the motor home all day so I shall tell you about the tour we took the other day. Here at Rockwood RV Park there was a big sign with a phone number for a 2 hour city bus tour of Saint John. ($17.00 per person) The bus picked us up right beside our motor home. We were the only two passengers on this big bus designed for 40 passengers. Doug our guide, told us it has been a slow year for tourism. He had not had any passengers on his morning trip. He was driver and guide and was born and raised in Saint John. His wife teaches Special Ed at the junior high and has already started back to school. We made 2 other stops to pick up passengers but no one was there. I am going to give you random things I recall from this very interesting trip.
When we drove the car in to take the Reversing Falls trip a few days ago we had already discovered some of the interesting and diverse areas of interest. I liked this city right off. It has old world charm with big city modernizations. The traffic was typical big city and much construction in town delayed and rerouted the bus tour course.
Saint John was discovered in 1604. It sits at the mouth of the St John River that empties into the Bay of Fundy. In 1783 Loyalists fled the Boston area after the American Revolution and some 3,000 settlers came. In 1840 the potato famine in Ireland brought another influx of Irish . Since then immigrants from all nations have found a home in Saint John. The present population is 75,000. People work in the local industries that include a natural gas terminal, in oil refineries, in government positions and in tourism. Three large cruise ships were in port on our tourist day. It sure swamps the downtown area when they emerge from their huge ships. Irving Company is headquarter here. KC Irving was among the 10 richest men in the world at his death, with an estimated wealth in the billions of dollars. He was from New Brunswick and made his fortune by buying companies. He had deals with Henry Ford to sell the autos here , then he purchased the shipping lines to have them transported. He was quite a philanthropist too and made many donations to the city. We see Irving fuel stations all over the Maritimes. The Irving pulp and paper mill sits right across from the reversing falls. It manufactures Kraft tissue paper. They dont give tours. We passed by the big Sims plant that makes paint brushes and brooms.
Many of the churches and fancy old homes are built of red stone that was used as ballast on the English ships coming over. Instead of just dumping the stone, the settlers used it for construction being some of the first forms of recycling. The English came looking for the lumber from the nearby forests to use in the ship building industries. Kings Square was built in the middle of the town and features one of the nicest City Markets Ive ever visited. I could not help but notice the contrast to the city markets we visited in Mexico. I recognized every fruit and vegetable and I knew how much it cost. I saw lovely produce and even better looking meats. Too bad the USA will not let us bring any of this in when we cross back in a week or so. We had the good fortune to get to go inside the Imperial Theatre which was in its hey day in the early 1900s. It has recently been refurbished and was saved by locals who did not want to see it demolished due to disrepair. A taxi driver led the mega fundraising and now it hosts plays, concerts and events . It is absolutely gorgeous inside. Unfortunately nothing was playing during our time here or I would have gotten a ticket to attend.
The park in Kings Square is home to numerous statues honoring war heroes, founding fathers and citizens who helped two shipwrecked men. It is beautifully manicured and the bandstand in the middle is home to summer concerts which are now over. Terry and I commented on the lovely median in the middle of the road alive with brightly colored marigolds. We learned that is a project done by local elementary school children. They start the marigolds from seed in school and then the streets are blocked off for them to plant. It sure dresses up the city. We were told a former Mayor made sure the city had plenty of flowers planted. They are hard and expensive to maintain however, with the winters.
We passed by many beautiful churches. Indeed the skyline is filled with spirals and steeples and neat looking architecture. We were told about one in particular that sailors used to navigate. When the ship could line up the 3 sister lamp (see photo) with the salmon on top of steeple and one other place I dont recall, then they could navigate safely into the harbor and not hit rocks. I am left with a desire to return to several spots of interest. This is a wonderful city. Sorry if I botched any facts. Two hours of interesting dialogue and two days ago , this old memory just does not retain like it used.
September 8, 2008
Saint John City and St. Martin
Today was very sad. Russ left us. We have been traveling together since April and today he ventured back across the border to the USA. His time line is tighter than ours and his destination of Iowa by October 1 sent him off earlier than our schedule. Last night we said our good byes over the photos of our wonderful Atlantic Canada travels. So now we are on our own. Terry and I have only a few days left in Canada and then I will end this journal hoping that those who followed along will someday be able to travel in our footsteps or at least enjoyed our trip vicariously.
It was a beautifully sunshiny day. As I was doing some business on the computer I noted the trailer next to us was leaving. Wait, whats wrong with this picture? He still had his electrical cord and water hose attached and his mat out. I hollered for him to stop but he did not hear me. Terry got on his shoes and ran out the driveway while the electrical cord bounced along the gravel, the water hose had already pulled off of his trailer. When Terry caught up with the guy and informed him of his problem, he was very embarrassed and came back to his sight to retrieve his water hose and mat. He is from Oregon. Dont we all need reminders to do the walk around check before we leave a campsite?
My agenda today was to return to the center of Saint John and attend the New Brunswick Museum. It was one of the top 3 I have visited on our travels. Despite my tourist overload this museum had areas of interest covered in a very interesting way. It covered the lumber industry, the ship building industry and artists works. The 25 minute film on the Bay of Fundy was alone worth the price of admission. Too bad but no photos were allowed. We also viewed the spiral staircase in the courthouse built years ago with no structural support. We walked the Kings Square again and were better able to enjoy the statues and monuments. We walked the City Market again and I bought some seaweed that was advertised as something like potato chips. No way. The Firefighters Museum was closed so we missed that venue. I learned that it was closed for lack of volunteers to keep it open at this time of year.
As it was still sunny and bright we moved up the coast for a car trip to tour St. Martins. It was the beginning of The Fundy Coastal Drive. It had the best scenery we have seen on a coastal drive in New Brunswick. We went through covered bridges and saw lovely shores. We came to the Sea caves and I had my first cup of sea chowder of the trip. It was delicious! We walked on the stone beaches at low tide. It was not easy walking but I did have on my sensible shoes. There were several tour busses offering side trips for cruise ship passengers so we knew we were in the spots to visit. I loved all of it.
September 9, 2008
Final Day in Canada, Saint John
We slept in. It was gloomy and overcast and rained in late afternoon. We wanted to use up all of our Canadian money and headed toward the fuel station. Terry put $30.30 of fuel into the car to use up our last cash. We have 7 cents left and the $2 required to cross the toll bridge in the morning as we leave Canada. We enjoyed another dinner at the Restaurant at Reversing Falls.
Tonight we reflect on the things we look forward to as we return to the USA. I will enjoy using miles, gallons and US currency, where I can identify a quarter without reading the small print on it. I will enjoy the use of the US mail system where I understand a stamp. I will enjoy shopping where I can buy brand names I am familiar with, like Morton salt. Terry is most looking forward to clams, Mexican food and Olive Garden.
I loved visiting Atlantic Canada. If we had just visited Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick it would have been as our Journal title indicated, The Maritimes, but because we also visited Newfoundland, it is more accurate to say Atlantic Canada. Whatever we call it, this part of Canada is wonderful. I learned about the history of Canada and noted how we are more similar than different. We found folks friendly outgoing and helpful . My favorite place was Newfoundland and Twillingate in particular. It is not likely that we will ever visit this neck of the woods again but we have our memories and photos to remind us of the wonderful times.
Tomorrow we start our farewell to the East Coast tour. After providing a post with information on the border crossing, I will not be doing a daily journal. I will miss the closeness Ive felt by talking to my forum friends every day. I hope you will consider traveling to this part of the world and that my travels will guide you to some good times.
Good bye my friends, or
Au Revior mes amis
September 10, 2008
Trenton, Maine USA Timberland Acres RV Park 207-667-3600
Well it was an uneventful crossing through Calais border crossing to the USA. As it was the night before a big travel day, I could not sleep last night. I was excited to return to US soil. The border had about 10 cars in front of us. The entrance was a little tricky for a 40 foot motor home with toad. Had to really hug the curb to make the turn into the aisle. We provided our passports, were asked where we were coming from and told to pull up a 10 yards or so and stop. We followed the directions. An official asked us what we were bringing into the country that we did not have when we left. Two t shirts. Did we have any fruits vegetables or meat? Answer: We have no fruit but we have lettuce carrots and onions, one bottle of wine and one can of beer. Ok Thank you very much have a nice day. And off we go. We traveled 50 yards to a fuel station and edged into the pumps. Problem was they had no diesel at this station so we edge our way back to the road and off we go in the USA! We are happy to see miles per hour as speed limits and fuel prices posted outside stations. We got our least expensive diesel since we filled in Yuma AZ on April 8, 2008. We paid $3.99 per gallon. A bargain. Our highest fuel on this trip was in Gander Newfoundland at $6.01 per gallon.
We followed Highway 1 to Trenton, Maine. I could not help but notice that we saw more junky yards along this route than we did in all of Maritimes. But we also saw lovely big well maintained yards. As we neared Bar Harbor the traffic picked up. There are still lots of tourists here. We selected this campground on the recommendation of Gary and it is going to be a good base for our weeks stay here. Some of the sites are over 100 feet in length! Clear cut area so we have internet, TV and a nearby Wal-Mart. We are happy.
It has been 2 days since Russ left us and we were having withdrawals, we phoned him on our arrival and drove the 8 miles to the RV Park where he is staying, Narrows Too. It is a fancy resort and many sites are on the water. We picked him up, drove 2 blocks to a lobster pound and the three of us had another farewell dinner. Russ had lobster, Terry had steamed clams and I had gulf shrimp. The only problem was the mosquitoes got to us as the meal neared its end. He will move south in the morning and we will stay for a week. What a trip. What good friends.
Thank you for following our adventures.
Final 88 day expense report.
Fuel includes motorhome & auto. Meals includes groceries & restaurants. Lodging is campgrounds. Miscellaneous is everything else... ...mostly sightseeing/tour fees & souvenirs, Ferry Fees but not Tires for the Envoy. Fuel.....................$4575.23 Meals................... 3242.92 Lodging................ 2356.37 Miscellaneous.......... 4199.02 Total.................... $14373.54 $163.34 a day for two people. We Have Not SKIMPED on anything. Miles Driven Motorhome................4404 Gmc Envoy................4739 Total........................9143 Below I'm showing our 2006 Alaska Expenses for comparison Final 109 day expense report. Fuel includes motorhome & auto. Meals includes groceries & restaurants. Lodging is campgrounds. Miscellaneous is everything else... ... mostly sightseeing/tour fees & souvenirs. Fuel.....................$3637.89 Meals................... 3169.89 Lodging................ 2163.14 Miscellaneous.......... 4793.17 Total.................... $13764.09 $126.28 a day for two people. We Have Not SKIMPED on anything. Miles Driven Alaska/Canada Motorhome................6258 Gmc Envoy................3343 Total........................9601