Thursday, August 27, 2009

Day 24: Tuesday, August 25, 2009

With the time change the day before, we'd been asleep a little earlier than usual, and woke up earlier as well. I think it was only about 9am when we got on the road, eager to make some kilometres.

We stopped for lunch at a picnic area, and this fuzzy guy managed to be on me within a few minutes of me sitting down on the picnic table.

Did you know that some service centres have picnic areas behind them? This lovely, deserted area was behind the service centre on the 401 just west of the Quebec border. (Maybe it was the second one - I was busy knitting.)

My "Scotia Seashell" socks, from Lucy Neatby "Cat's Pyjamas" hand-dyed wool, bought in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. I finished them on the 401 right around Oshawa.

We arrived home about 9pm in the evening, thoroughly worn out, but happy to be home. Thanks to housecleaning activities before we left, we came home to a reasonably clean house (clean clothes in drawers, clean dishes in the dishwasher). The cats were well fed and watered, but EXTREMELY happy to see us (much yowling proved it).

And... I guess that's it! I'll try to post some wrap-up things (# of Where to Eat in Canada meals, total kilometers driven, etc.) in the next day or two. Thanks for following along on the ride - it was fun.

Day 23: Monday, August 24, 2009

Here's Will playing with Bubbles at the Fredericton Science Centre, our first stop of the day. This is one of the centres that has a reciprocal agreement with the Ontario Science Centre, so we get in for free (the one in Halifax was the other one we visited this trip).

After the Science Centre we had lunch at Chez Riz, a Where to Eat in Canada east indian place in Fredericton. Living just steps from Little India we (or I, let's be honest) are pretty picky about our Indian food. This was just excellent, though, and I was pretty pleased about my chicken Tandoori that came not just with rice, but dal and spinach & potato.

I spent a month in Fredericton in the summer of 1986, but I spent it on the UNB campus and don't remember one whit about downtown.

After lunch we managed to find the Briggs & Little factory and outlet store, where I somehow neglected to take a single picture. The current mill is sadly modern-looking, considering their history going back to 1857, although surprisingly small. It has a perfectly bucolic setting with the millstream running next to it, running musically under a bridge and into a pond across the road. I bought nine skeins of wool, but with their ridiculously low outlet prices, all nine cost me less than any other single skein of wool I bought on the trip! I especially enjoyed digging through the seconds bin for skeins at $2 each, and next time I'm feeling stashless perhaps I'll email them and ask them to send me 10 random skeins from the bin.

We set off north, back towards Quebec, and by the time the sun was setting we were driving along the banks of the St. Lawrence, looking for camping. We finally found it, after some frustration, in a large and well-run campground in Riviere-Ouelle.

Day 22: Sunday, August 23, 2009

The ferry got in at 9am local time, so we trundled off in Bobby and started driving west. We'd gotten a few updates from the captain about Hurricane Bill, so we knew that it wasn't supposed to make landfall on the south-east side of Nova Scotia until mid-afternoon, and would track north-east. We had already planned to go straight west to Stellarton, which would keep us away from the storm, so we did that.

Unfortunately the Museum of Industry in Stellarton was closed with no explanation, which disappointed me hugely - they have a special exhibit on of antique and vintage star quilts, and since star quilts are some of my favourites I'd really wanted to see it. In fact, I'd been skipping all quilt opportunities since the disastrous "show" on August 6 in New Brunswick, telling myself that I would see lovely quilts in Stellarton.

Well, it was not to be, so we kept heading west to avoid the storm. There was definitely lots of rain; every time we stopped, like to buy groceries or make lunch, it would catch up with us. Then we'd drive another hour and the rain would abate until the next time we stopped.

Because we didn't have a three-hour stop at the museum, we ended up in New Brunswick mid-afternoon, earlier than expected. We'd planned to camp in Fundy National Park, but it didn't seem too appealing with Hurricane Bill lashing at our heels. So, I found us a Where to Eat in Canada restaurant ("The Bell") in Dorchester, which turned out to have some lovely old houses, and we ate in the oldest stone building in New Brunswick. I had afternoon tea, which was a nice change; Mike had prime rib and Will had spaghetti. There was some tenseness around whether Will would be allowed to have dessert when he hadn't finished his meal; even if the desserts are homemade, a kid still needs to eat his main course, doesn't he? He was full, so no ice cream for him.

We drove on to the outskirts of Fredericton and found a campground quite close to the highway, even though all sources said it should be way down south of it. Although there were only five other vehicles in the campground, the man running it assigned us a spot right between two of them. He appeared not to understand why Mike might want to move us from there, but didn't much mind when we did.

Day 21: Saturday, August 22, 2009

Today was ferry day! I was mostly recovered in the morning, enough to walk around the neighbourhood of our B&B following one of the walking tour brochures I had, and visit the St. John’s Council Craft Shop, which collects locally-crafted art and other items from across the island. I had my pick of wool, including wacky, neat stuff from a place called Wee Ball Yarns. I ended up with a skein of hand-spun, hand-dyed wool in various shades of light green, which I’m thinking I will knit and felt into a rolled-brim hat that might go with my winter coat.

Will and I walked along Water Street (the main drag) of St. John's, and we bought him a Diabolo because he really wanted one, and a random person on the street said "Yay! Dawson City" when she saw my t-shirt from last year. That was a nice moment, strolling along the furthest east I've been in Canada (and the furthest east you CAN go, Cape Fear, wasn't far away), having my furthest-north trip acknowledged.

Mike swooped by in Bobby to pick Will and I up, and we drove to the ferry, which goes from Argentia rather than St. John's. It was a somewhat boring 1.5-hour trip except for the part through Butter Pot Provincial Park, which has a high elevation and scattered rocks all over, looking like rough terrain that might be good for sheep (we saw no sheep, though).

The ferry was late coming in, but we were were off by 4:30pm or so, for a LONG ride of probably 14 hours (it's long enough that weather determines the length of time). We staked out "air" seats, as they call them, which recline and are reasonably comfortable. This was a much less fancy ferry, like a bigger version of the Chi-Cheemaun, so we felt at home. Dinner in the cafeteria wasn't too bad (roast pork for me, Mr. Sub for the guys). There were movies in our area, so we watched "Coraline" (which we already like), "The World's Fastest Indian" (pretty entertaining, and who doesn't like Sir Anthony Hopkins?), and "I Told You So", which was emphatically NOT for children, and I'm just glad Will didn't ask me any questions about it. He put his blanket over his head for the juicy bits, thankfully. After trying to sleep in my chair until my back hurt I lay on the floor (despite all the signs saying sleeping on the floor was prohibited) and was reasonably comfortable for 6 hours or so. Will and Mike both slept in the seats.

Day 20: Friday, August 21, 2009

My fever was gone in the morning, but I was still not well, especially after a broken night of sleep. Pippy Park was booked full for that night (being Friday, and it’s obviously well-loved by locals), so we packed up and tried to find the visitor information centre in St. John’s. That didn’t work, but we ended up on Signal Hill, and got the information we needed from the helpful girl there.

Mike booked a B&B for the night and delivered me there, to sleep away the day and recover from whatever was wrong with me. It was a gorgeous, big old house in St. John’s, but apparently administered by a local hotel; an arrangement that seems to work quite well.

I’m not quite sure what the guys did all day, but I’ve asked them to write something up about it. I hated being in St. John’s and not being able to get out and see it! My fever came back, and I took more Tylenol, and I slept. I know they brought me back chinese food at dinnertime, and I was able to eat quite a bit of soup (a supposed hot-and-sour soup that tasted like sweet’n’sour chicken balls would if they were soup) and a bit of everything else.

I think we all appreciated sleeping in a real bed that night, unlimited hot water close at hand, and the thought of a hot breakfast in the morning!

Day 19: Thursday, August 20, 2009

Almost the only fun in arriving at a campground late is finding out what you’ve paid for in the morning. This time when the sun came up and we emerged from our cocoon, we were amazed to find ourselves only 15 metres or so from a beautiful beach! Kona Beach turned out to be a lovely, big, treed campground with a playground, snack bar, mini-putt course, free showers, and flower gardens. There were tons of people and kids, and rather than rush out, we hung out a bit, taking our time getting cleaned up, and playing mini-putt.

We drove as far as Badger before lunch, stopping at Kellie’s, which “Where to Eat in Canada” says has the best road food in Newfoundland. Although they offer Chinese food, we had great hamburgers and a “mess”, which turned out to be poutine with stuffing, onions, and wieners as well as the usual fries, cheese, and gravy. It was pretty tasty, but not something I’d want to eat often!

On the ride to St. John’s I thought I was suffering from carsickness, but it turned out to be some kind of illness. By the time we arrived I had a fever and nausea, and was no good for touristing, so Mike found us a campsite in Pippy Park and I retreated “upstairs” (in the higher-level bed up in the poptop) for the rest of the day. The guys explored the park and played mini-golf (twice in one day!).

Day 18: Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Our first stop of the day was L’Anse-aux-Meadows National Historical Site, another UNESCO World Heritage Site - in fact, the first site to be added to their “Cultural” list. The site turned out to be, somewhat surprisingly for me, the first authenticated site found that proves that Vikings visited North America back in the 1100’s or so. (Five hundred years before Columbus, if you’re counting). It’s quite a big site, with a dozen buildings or so; all you can really see now of the actual site is grass-covered mounds, but they have reconstructed four of the buildings, including a dwelling and the blacksmith’s work area. The first indicated they had that the site was European and not First Nations was 200 or so fragments of nails made of European iron; once they discovered the blacksmith’s shop, they realized that the Vikings had originally stopped to haul up their boats, take out damaged nails, and replace them with nails made from bog iron from the area. They found a few items - including a spindle whorl - that proved that women had come as part of the expeditions that established the site, and they suspect that the Vikings brought sheep to be able to process fleece into wool to mend their sails (which were woven of linen and wool).

L’Anse-aux-Meadows seems rather wild and remote to us now, being as far north as you can get in Newfoundland without actually being in Labrador. It’s a beautiful spot, though, and our guide pointed out a stream where when he was a boy, you could catch enormous salmon with your bare hands; with a sheltered bay, fresh water, and plentiful food, it must have looked like a pretty nice spot to those early Europeans.

It was time to head south, since we didn’t have time to take the ferry to Labrador, and south is the only other option! Halfway down the peninsula is the Arches, a natural rock formation we wanted to check out, and were able to climb around on. There were crazy trees there that show just how difficult it is to be a coastal tree in Newfoundland.

There was a bunch of driving after that; retracing our steps down to the T.C.H., then across part of the middle of Newfoundland, which turns out to be full of trees and rocks, much like many other parts of Canada! Once again we found ourselves after dark in moose country, and I was interested to see the tractor-trailers traveling in convoy, with the front one with big floodlights turned on on top to spot any animals on the road. We finally found the Kona Beach campground and gratefully turned in, happy to find someone still in the booth at 10pm.