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.

Day 17: Tuesday, August 18, 2009

We had a complicated plan for the morning that involved putting on a load of laundry, then going out to a Where to Eat in Canada restaurant in Rocky Harbour for breakfast. It had rained overnight and was still drizzling, so we were happy to be going out - unfortunately we arrived there to find a sign saying “Closed Tuesdays”! So, it was back to the campsite for cereal and oatmeal... at least it had stopped raining.

We loved the rugged beauty of Gros Morne park; every corner was another spectacular view, and the road climbed over a couple of minor mountains as we wound our way up the coast. Having villages inside a national park seemed odd at first, but they add to the scenery once you get used to it. The low-hanging clouds over the evergreen-clad hills reminded us of Scotland again.

Up at Port-aux-Choix we stopped for lunch, at the Anchor Cafe. It was a straight-up casual seafood restaurant, with delicious chowder. Will had his usual salmon, Mike took a break from seafood with lasagna, and since I couldn’t decide I had their fisheries and ocean platter - scallops, shrimp, cod, halibut, and salmon, prepared in a variety of ways. Afterwards we stopped nearby to look at the site of an ancient Maritime Archaic burial ground, then to the Port-aux-Choix welcome centre to learn a bit more about the five waves of people arriving in the area over 5000 years; the Maritime Archaic indians, two types of Inuit over time, another First Nations tribe, and then finally the Vikings.

Continuing north we got almost as far as we could before dark; in the tiny village of Quirpon (which seemed to consist of a church and an RV park) we found a spot for the night, then drove up to L’Anse-aux-Meadows for dinner at the Norseman. We noticed that although we were seated right away, the service was a bit spotty; the table next to us got noticeably better service, getting to order first and waiting far less time for their bread, water, menus, and eventually food. We learned later that the party of four was the Honourable John Crosby, former Lieutenant-Governor of Newfoundland, along with his wife and another couple. (I still think an excellent restaurant would give everyone the same level of service.) The food was good, anyway; Will’s salmon came with red cabbage, and my squash soup and goat cheese salad were excellent. We shared a couple of desserts and bought a CD from Wade Hillier, who was providing the evening’s dinner music. As they were leaving both Mr. and Mrs. Crosby stopped to say a few words with us, both of them commenting on how well-behaved Will was during dinner.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Day 16: Monday, August 17, 2009

I woke up to bright sunlight and thrash metal at 7:20am, thanks to our charmed luck with weather and the 5 or so 20-something guys in the next site who felt the need to blast music while packing up. At least it got us up in good time, and we checked out the beach attached to the campground. They have a provincial park called “T’Railway”, which I think is an old railway line, now an ATV trail, and also a bit of a joke on the local dialect. We saw a couple of plovers and several kinds of seaweed, and walked along the fine sand avoiding the waves coming in.

We started driving north, excited about our first look at Newfoundland. For a couple of hours we just drove straight north to Cornerbrook, where there is a Where to Eat in Canada restaurant. It looked unpromising for a long time - the mall it was supposed to be in had no name on it, then the restaurant was in the basement, looked like a florist’s shop, and then when we found the cafe, looked full. Everything turned out fine from that point on. The Thistledown is a combination florist’s and cafe, and shares space with a restaurant, where they seated us. The waitress recommended a quesadilla for Will from the evening menu, and Mike and I had wraps and salad. They brought Will the wrong quesadilla at first, but brought him a new one right away and gave him a free cookie for dessert to make up for it.

There was a used bookstore in the mall, so Mike and Will went up to check out whether Will could stock up on reading material, and I paid the bill. We made another quick stop across the street from the mall at a grocery store.

We followed the “T.C.H.”, which is how they sign Highway 1 here (the “Trans Canada Highway”), but shortly turned north onto a smaller highway that would take us up the Northern Peninsula. We almost immediately made an impromptu stop at the “Insectarium”, which promised lots of butterflies, bugs and beetles, and spiders. I was expecting the kind of “Uncle Bob’s Reptile Farm” you might expect in a rural area, with someone’s moth-eaten up for display in an old barn. I was pleasantly surprised to find thousands of mounted specimens properly displayed and with lots of information, a tropical butterfly room with hundreds of live butterflies kept nice and warm, and lots of live specimens as well, including a glass honeybee hive and a colony of leaf-cutter ants in a big terrarium. Maritime trivia of the day - honeybees aren’t native to Newfoundland. Will enjoyed it; that’s a picture of him with a hissing cockroach from Madagascar!

We continued north to see Gros Morne park, which is a national park and a UNESCO world heritage site. Since we’re eating our way across the Maritimes, we figured the best way to see the park was through its restaurants; the park was formed around several existing communities, and there were several choices. We tried the Old Loft in Woody Point first, but it was closed with no explanation. We drove another 20km or so out to Trout River, and were glad we did - we drove straight through the Tablelands, flat mountains that are part of the earth’s mantle (the part below the crust) and sitting high up and exposed. It was a fascinating moonscape to be driving through, up and down these 500m high mountains. When we arrived at the Seaside restaurant in Trout River we found it bustling, but with a table right by the window for us to see the sun set over the ocean as we ate. I had my first taste of Newfoundland wine - a glass of “Funky Puffin”, a blueberry-based wine that was actually very tasty, a cross between a fruit rose wine and port. We split delicious scallops with partridge berries as an appetizer. I had the Steel Head Trout for a change, which was, of course, excellent, and partridge-berry pie for dessert.

The drive back was stressful since the sun had set, and it was a prime area for moose. We went only a little further, to Rocky Harbour, where we found an RV park and camped for the night.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Day 15: Sunday, August 16, 2009

Our ferry wasn’t until 3pm, so we had plenty of time to hang around the camp in the morning. It was nice to have a leisurely breakfast, do dishes, sweep everything out, and generally get re-organized. (Will found it a little boring, though). We were gone by the noon checkout time and headed into town, North Sydney. We had decided that we had to try the “McLobster” that we’d seen advertised at a couple of of McDonald’s, and North Sydney seemed big enough to have a McDonald’s. It wasn’t easy to find, but when we did, they didn’t have the McLobster - but once we’d promised Will McDonald’s, it was hard to go back on that!

We’d been told to be at the ferry docks by 2pm at the latest for a 3:30pm ferry, but we were there even earlier. Of course we compare all ferries to the Chi-Cheemaun that takes us from Tobermory to South Bay when we go to visit my parents in summer, and we could see immediately that this was a bigger ferry just from the size of the parking lot. There were lots of tractor-trailers and individual containers that were being shipped, reminding us that we were going somewhere that simply cannot be reached by road.

The ferry was fancier than we’re used to as well, with a fancy dining room, a buffet restaurant, and a swanky bar. There were cabins, as well, but those weren’t in use for this “short” sailing - only six hours, to the closer port of Port-aux-Basques. We settled in the lounge attached to the bar, so we could have a table to play cards. There were plenty of signs asking us not to eat outside food and drink, making us feel a little guilty about the sandwiches we’d made and brought on board with us.

The crossing was smooth, but did get a bit tedious. At some point when we could see Newfoundland in front of us, I noticed that we seemed to be barely moving. The captain come on and announced that there was a “technical problem”, and we were circling in the bay. We never did find out what the problem was, but I amused myself in the half-hour we were in the bay by comparing circling in a bay to circling over an airport where you can’t land.

I was quite excited as we drove off the ferry onto Newfoundland, and I realized that I had officially been to every province in the country! Since neither Mike nor Will have been to PEI yet, I can lord it over them for at least another week. It was 10pm by the time we were off the ferry and looking for the information centre, and thanks to getting a bit turned around we ended up going east out of Port-aux-Basques instead of north. It was a bit entertaining, and all we were looking for was a campground, but in the dark we weren’t getting much idea of the terrain. We ended up getting off the road into a community and stopping to ask a couple who were out in their side yard having a campfire. They recommended that we go back to Port-aux-Basques and head north, but at least they knew for sure that there was a campground not far along. We did find the J. T. Cheeseman Provincial Park with no trouble, which turned out to be small but well-staffed with someone in the booth and another person patrolling.

Day 14: Saturday, August 15, 2009

We continued driving up the Cabot Trail, taking a detour at the top part to head further north to Bay St. Lawrence and Meat Cove. In Bay St. Lawrence we went whale-watching on a boat called to Oshan, with Captain Cyril Fraser. We were out on the water for about an hour and a half, and did in fact see pilot whales, as well as a bald eagle and dolphins. I had been a little afraid that the whale-watching tour would be cheesy, but I ended up really enjoying it. If you haven’t been on one already it will be hard for me to describe, but seeing such remote animals in their natural habitat, and hearing their voices (the boat had an underwater microphone attached to a speaker for us) was quite remarkable. Even before we saw the whales, though, the tour had been worth the cost just to see the northern coastline of Nova Scotia from the water; the huge sheer cliffs of rock rising out of the water, the little hidden, inaccessible beaches between them, and the occasional high waterfall carving a niche out of the rock over thousands of years.

Emerald Beach, accessible only by water. Note the tiny waterfall. (Click on the picture to see a bigger view).

By the time we were back we were ready for lunch, and the Chowder Hut in Meat Cove was more than ready for us. Will had what he says was the best salmon he’s had so far this trip, and my haddock was excellent as well, in a very light coating of something crispy that wasn’t the regular fish & chip batter. The “home fries” (regular fries) were also good, although too much to finish.

It was a bright, sunny, hot day, and driving was less fun than it sometimes is. Coming back down southwards we saw a promising sheltered cove ahead, and after stopping to get directions we found the Petit Etang Beach, which was exactly what we wanted - a river separated from the ocean by a causeway, so we could choose fresh or salt water to swim in. We started in the river, which was clear and cold, then headed for the sea, which was clear and even colder. Finally we went back to the river to rinse off the salt and compare how much warmer it felt after the sea!

We had a long chunk of driving after that, making it most of the way to North Sydney, where we were getting the ferry to Newfoundland the next day. We found a RV park right off the highway (as always!) called the “Golden Arm” (near the Bras D’Or lake area). Although it was getting on to 10pm, they got us set up quickly with a site.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Day 13: Friday, August 14, 2009

We sped out of Wal-Mart in the morning, and made it to the Canso Causeway and into Cape Breton in the mid-morning. There was a delicious-sounding restaurant in Baddeck, so we went there, and because it was too early for lunch, we stopped at the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site. I was a bit disappointed at first that it wasn’t at his home, but it’s still owned by his dependents, and if I were them I wouldn’t be eager to be donating that to the government either. There were really excellent exhibits, organized by his interests instead of chronologically - which was nice because each of us could pick the area we were most curious about. I spent my time in “Home”, seeing hundreds of pictures of Bell with his father, wife, children, grandchildren, and colleagues. I was really impressed with him as a jovial and gentle man who loved his family and spent tons of time with them, yet still managed to work a tremendous number of hours in a day. The move to Baddeck from Washington must have helped that immensely. The rest of the time I helped Will finish his scavenger hunt - they had given him a clipboard with a laminated set of items and a dry erase marker, and he had to find them all to win an unspecified prize. It turned out to be a free kiddie ice cream cone from the team shop, so we tucked that away to come back and get after lunch.

We struggled a little to find The Water’s Edge for lunch, but the cafe turned out to be closed. When I asked “what hours is it open?” the woman just repeated “It’s closed”. She was not very nice about it, and I really didn’t need that on top of the disappointment, as well as feeling like we’d wasted time in town just to be there when they opened (not that the Bell site was a waste of time - it wasn’t). We ate our sandwiches in their parking lot, and I took a smidgen of vindictive delight in dropping my breadcrumbs on their property. After that we headed back to the tea shop for Will’s free cone, where it fulfilled its purpose by convincing Mike and I to get ice cream as well.

There was nothing for it but to head for the Cabot Trail, which we did. I had decided that counter-clockwise would be the correct direction to go, so that we were on the outside lane (just that little bit closer to the views!) and that both passengers would be able to see the ocean. There wasn’t much ocean until after Wreck Cove, but the views when they came were very nice (the weather is still great - 26 degrees and sunny!).

We stopped at a waterfall recommended specifically by the woman at the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, and Will was able to cool off by going swimming, and Mike and I amused ourselves by watching the teenagers jumping off progressively higher rocks. The waterfall was pretty, but I’m not sure it’s as cool as the Bridal Veil falls, where you can actually walk behind it.

At the Hideaway campground we got one of the remaining three sites, and settled in for an enjoyable evening of dinner (chicken noodle soup, cheese and crackers), showers, playground and a puppy (for Will, anyway), and watching a couple of bats who did endless figure-eights over our campground and the one across from us.

Day 12: Thursday, August 13, 2009

Our first stop of the day was at the Discovery Centre, where we were able to score free admission for being Ontario Science Centre members. It’s also a hands-on type of place, so Will navigated the hordes of day camp kids to try the various activities, appearing to have quite a bit of fun. We stopped by 11:45 to go the Grand Parade, a square in the middle of Halifax that’s used for various purposes; on this day it was for a noon-hour concert featuring a band called Grassmarket. One of the band members is an old high-school friend of Mike’s, so we really wanted to see them, and doing it in their own home town was a big bonus. The three of them put on a great show, with an impressive variety of instruments that they nonchalantly picked up and put down according to the song they were playing; guitar of course, but also double bass, banjo, mandolin, harmonica, and fiddle. I liked the flavour of bluegrass that came through, although I guess you would categorize it as folk music overall.

After a quick sandwich lunch we let Will go back to the Discovery Centre to finish it up. Mike went with him, and I went back to the Loop for another hour or two of quiet knitting and socializing with the friendly owner and other patrons. I’m trying to finish the second sleeve of a baby sweater I’ve been working on for a couple of months, so I can start diving into the sock wool I’ve bought! I didn’t quite make it, but I only had five rows left to go when I left to meet the guys.

We were lucky enough to be invited over to the home of two-thirds of Grassmarket; Mike’s high-school friend Penelope and her partner Dan. We also got to meet their two-year-old son Clem, a classically adorable blue-eyed cherub with blonde curls. They also put in 16 square feet of garden this year, but their experiment has been much more successful - their tomato plants are over six feet high, and their peas were pretty close to that height too. We had a nice visit with them catching up on fifteen years or so of life since high school.

As we were pulling away we realized we were close to the “Hydrostone” district, an area of Halifax that was rebuilt after the 1917 Explosion with houses made of concrete blocks. We got to see some of those houses, and ended up at the Hydrostone Market, checking out the craft and antique stores. There are not just one, but two “Where to Eat in Canada” restaurants in that little strip of storefronts. We chose Salvatore’s for pizza, where they churn out thin-crust pizzas that appeared to be uniformly wonderful. My El Pomodoro special certainly was; the crust had sesame seeds, which I’ve never seen on a pizza, but worked well with the toppings of sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese, Greek Kalamata olives, and fresh garlic. (Mm... I’m getting hungry again just thinking about it). The guys split a more classic pepperoni-and-green-pepper pizza, and the bites I stole of it also seemed excellent.

Since we’d had an early dinner, we had plenty of time to drive. Rather than take the coastal roads, we headed north to Truro, then swung east to point ourselves towards Cape Breton Island. We ended up in Antigonish for the night, where once again Mike’s freeware GPS program led us on a wild goose chase looking for the Wal-Mart. Fortunately it led us through a very pretty town with what I assume is a gorgeous university campus (Francis Xavier, maybe?). The Wal-Mart was, of course, just off the highway, so eventually we got to see the town again, and later had more tractor-trailers trundling by during the night.

Day 11: Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Today was our full day to spend in Halifax. We started at the Citadel, poking our noses into powder magazines and sentry stations, and generally immersing ourself in 1869 military life. There are excellent films and exhibits there, that we didn’t really do justice to. We were up at the cannon for the firing of the “noon gun”, which was loud enough to satisfy even Will.

From there we went to the Cheelin restaurant, one of the few downtown Halifax “Where to Eat in Canada” restaurants that’s open for lunch. It’s a Chinese restaurant in the brewery market, which is an old building that houses Alexander Keith’s brewery, although they seem to only inhabit part of it. There was only one table seated when we arrived, but it quickly got busy, for good reason; it was noticeably better than your standard Chinese, even the lemon chicken, which I protested to the guys is not really Chinese food. Everything was very fresh and light-tasting, even the lemon chicken, which wasn’t too cloying and sweet. A former staff member from the restaurant was there having lunch with her extended family, and it was nice to see the owner come out and chat with them.

When we asked Will what he most wanted to do in Halifax, he looked over the “Doers and Dreamers” guide and picked the Clay Cafe, a place in the north end of town where you buy pieces of pottery and paint them; they take care of the glazing and firing. I’m not sure why they advertised in a tourist guide, because you need to come back later to pick up your pottery; however, they didn’t mind shipping it to us for a fee, so Will picked out a big mug and painted it with a mix of words and pictures. It should be waiting for us when we get home - his souvenir of the trip!

We didn’t want to head back to the campground until we were thoroughly done for the day, so we grabbed granola bars in the bus and drove back downtown. Will and Mike went back to Buskerfest, and I checked out the store I most wanted to see - “The Loop Craft Cafe”, which appeared to be Halifax’s knitting store. (The website mentioned crocheting and crafting too, but knitting is so trendy these days I was betting on it being the focus). The Cafe part closed at 5pm, right when I got there, but I was able to browse the store, then sit and knit for a bit to rest and relax. I had given up on finding a cross-stitch kit that I liked, but they had the best selection of Foxberry Cottage (Nova Scotia designs) I’d seen yet. I bought one of the Old Town Clock in Halifax, and I also had to buy a skein of Lucy Neatby hand-dyed yarn in the colour “Seashell”. Although the theme is good for a souvenir of the trip, the colours really remind me of cotton candy.

I had an hour to kill after the store closed at 6pm, so I went to the nearest pub for a cup of coffee on the patio. (Another beautiful day - patio weather!). The people at the next table - Kelly, Lindsay, and Lindsay - included me in their conversation, Kelly in particular wanting me to knit sweaters to sell in his shop in BC. He was pretty drunk, but still insisted on giving me his email address.

By 7pm we were ready for dinner, so we stopped at the grocery store and headed back to the campground, treating ourselves to baked beans for dinner.

Day 10: Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The morning was spent walking around Lunenburg, looking at houses, taking pictures, and walking along the wharf. I quite liked the hilly little town with its ornate architecture, although I was a little startled to see how many “for sale” signs were on the houses.

We were able to have lunch at the Magnolia Grill, grabbing the last table available before the noon rush. I had some really astounding fishcakes and scallop chowder (yes, another “Where to Eat in Canada” meal!).
The Bluenose II was in port, and we were able to go down after lunch and walk around on it - it’s a very nice looking boat, even if I don’t know most of what I’m looking at. Will explained some things to me.

We drove out of Lunenburg into rain - one of the few times we’ve seen rain this trip, and again, it was while we were driving. It cleared up after a bit, but was still drizzling a bit when we got to Peggy’s Cove. As we approached it I was musing that the scenery looked quite a lot like Sudbury - big rocks poking out of the evergreens. That similarity quickly disappeared when we came over the last high part to see the lighthouse and the sea, of course! The drizzling rain didn’t stop us from enjoying the big rocks and the lighthouse, although we were disappointed to see that despite what every tourist description said, there is NOT a Canada Post outlet in the lighthouse. Will bought a postcard anyway from the nearest gift shop. My favourite gift shop was the “Buoy and Trap Shop”, which was doubly-aptly named; not only does he sell traps, he constructed the store out of them. I couldn’t tell if the rain was keeping tourists away or not - if it was, I’d hate to imagine how many are there when it’s not raining, because it was pretty overrun. The charm of the cove came through, though, and I appreciated that it’s still a working village, not a Disney attraction.

We still had time to make it to Halifax, which we did, and did some fancy navigating to find the Shubie campground. It’s over on the Dartmouth side, but not really out of town at all - you drive through a subdivision to get to their camp office. We booked for two nights and headed back into Halifax to take a look around. There was a Buskerfest on, which Will was fascinated with, and he settled in to watch a couple of shows while Mike and I wandered downtown a bit. We found a candy shop on Barrington and checked out some of the streets with old buildings. I was glad to see that the Halifax explosion of 1917 (to this day there has been no larger non-nuclear man-made explosion anywhere in the world) had spared some buildings in the old part of downtown, so that there was still neat old architecture for me to look at. We got back to the campground pretty late.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Day 9: Monday, August 10, 2009

We managed to wake up just as the Wal-Mart was opening at 8am, and had our breakfast in the parking lot before heading into town. It had been raining during the night, and was still drizzling when we got up, but was pretty much cleared up by the time we got to the Firefighter’s Museum on the main street of Yarmouth. It has a dizzying array of antique fire engines, from the early 1800’s to mid-1900’s, plus thousands of smaller artifacts and lots of pictures of fires through Yarmouth’s history, and other major fires across North America that were significant.

I reached Gwen on the phone after that - the artist at Green Sheep Studios, and the mother of a university friend of mine. She told me about Hands-On Crafts, not far from where we were parked, and we made an appointment to see her later that morning. At the craft shop I learned that Fleece Artist wool is made in Nova Scotia, and got Will to help me pick a skein of sock wool to knit up into souvenir socks of the trip.

Gwen’s studio is in Lake Annis, a half-hour drive from Yarmouth. She gave us the whole tour, including demonstrations of carding and spinning, and generously gave Will a very cute felted geode. She has many beautiful hand-made items in her studio, showing her range of interests; everything from ornaments made of handmade paper formed into shapes instead of sheets, to award-winning Navajo-inspired woven hangings. It was exciting and inspiring to see her studio, and at one point Mike said to me “this is exactly where and what you want to be, isn’t it?”.

Hungry for lunch, we decided to go back into Yarmouth (which was on the way anyway) and see if Chez Bruno was open for lunch. It’s closed Mondays as well, so that didn’t help us much - we ate hot dogs in the Info Centre parking lot and continued along the South Shore, with Halifax as our eventual goal.

We stopped first in Barrington, to see a carding mill museum. Run on water power from a river, the mill has massive machines from the late 1800’s that card and spin wool. It ran right up until 1962; according to the story the attendant told us, the owner fell sick (with a disease caused by breathing wool fibres for years), came to the factory one day, told everyone to leave their machines, locked up the mill and left. It was closed up for years and eventually re-opened as a museum - most of the machines still have the roving or wool that was on them when the workers walked away that day. They had Briggs & Little wool for sale, but we plan to stop there when we go back through New Brunswick, so I didn’t buy any.

There was a lighthouse nearby (actually a reconstructed one, as it turned out) that Mike and I went into, but with the foggy day there wasn’t much of a view. I had never seen a Fresnel lens up close, and took some pictures of it - I’m sure there must be a math problem in there somewhere, with all those curved prisms!

We headed for Summerville Beach for supper at the Quarterdeck Grill, another “Where to Eat in Canada” stop. It was much more casual than some places we’ve been at, as you would expect for a beach-side restaurant, but that didn’t mean the cooking was casual - the food was outstanding! I had to have scallops again, as they were on special seared with Cajun spices, and came with sweet potato fries and a chipotle mayo. Will is still on his salmon kick, and Mike had pasta with a delicate lobster cream sauce.

We walked on the beach for a bit, but we had eaten early and still had time to drive to Lunenburg, get set up at the very handy Lunenburg Board of Trade campground, get a walking tour guide from the information centre, and walk around looking at charming old houses for an hour before it got too dark to take pictures.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Day 8: Sunday, August 9, 2009

Our first stop was Annapolis Royal, to see the tidal power generating station, which I was surprised to see has been in operation since 1984. Although they don’t have tours of the workings of the station on Sundays, they do have cool displays explaining how it works, and other related “green” topics such as wind-power generation and relocation of ospreys that nest on the top of power poles.

From there we drove to Digby, where we knew “Scallop Days” were on, and we hoped to have some famous Digby scallops at the Boardwalk Cafe, a “Where to Eat in Canada” restaurant. It turned out to be closed on Sundays, but we ate down the street where the scallops were excellent and the rest of the food varied from so-so to actively bad. (I resent paying for frozen peas and carrots in a restaurant, especially when they manage to make them practically inedible.). “Scallop Days” had a neat display of sea creatures that we could touch and hold - lobster, crabs, starfish, sand dollars, sea urchins, and sea cucumbers. They were also having a classic car rally, so we walked up and down and looked at them. There was a 1977 VW van (only a year older than ours!) in the show that a guy had recently bought in Dubai and shipped back here. He had a handful of Sharpies and was getting everyone who walked by to sign his bus. (You might just be able to make out Will's signature above, if you click on the picture to make it bigger).

We continued on the north shore of the province, heading in the direction of Yarmouth. Cape St. Mary’s was a necessary stop, immortalized by Stan Rogers, with a lighthouse and great views of the water. Friendly campers from Yarmouth chatted us up and let me play with their puppy (a nine-week old Lab).

In Yarmouth we found that the restaurant we were looking for had closed, but then we found it right next door to the Information Centre. It was closed Sunday (notice a theme?) and we ate sandwiches, then started a walking tour of Yarmouth “sea captain homes and mercantile heritage”. I loved the mixed-up architecture and contrasting colours of the houses, and ignored my mosquito bites and the fading light to get a hundred pictures. A local said hi and chatted for a bit, explaining that lots of houses are just as interesting in town, but aren’t registered and on the tour, because it restricts what people can do to them too much. I took lots of pictures of those houses too.

We’d noticed a Wal-Mart just off the highway into town, so after a stop at Tim Horton’s to use their washrooms and some free Internet we caught from somewhere, we retreated there to sleep for the night.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Day 7: Saturday, August 8, 2009

We decided that the Look Off was pretty close to a perfect campground, and that we would stay for another night. That meant the day would be spent doing stuff around the campground, perhaps something in the area, and some chores such as laundry.

First on the agenda was the pancake breakfast in the cafe. Will wanted to play Mini-Golf, but it didn’t open until 11:30am, so we tried the archery clinic first. It was great - for $5 each we got a two-hour lesson, with plenty of opportunity to shoot. The leader of the clinic was a retired high-school teacher, so we did a bit of bonding over that. He said I was a “natural” at archery, but he probably gets a lot of kids Will’s age at the clinics, and says that to all the parents! Will was able to show off his skills from his previous archery course.

After Mini-Golf we had a “special” lunch of hot dogs, and did a load of laundry.

We did get out and visit an area attraction later - the Prescott House Museum, which has quite a good collection of samplers dating right back to 1800 or so. It had been restored in the 1930’s, and it was interesting to see that little bit of 1930 mentality layered on to old 1800’s architecture.

On the way back we passed the Fox Hill Cheese House, so had to stop for some local cheese - Havarti, in this case - and also gelato, which doesn’t seem like cheese to me, but was selling briskly.

We had sandwiches for supper and gave some milk to “Cheap Charlie”, the three-legged cat that’s one of the stranger attractions of the Look Off campground. The girl at the gift shop pointed out that he wasn’t really all that cheap, so I guess his missing leg is due to misadventure rather than the way we has born. It doesn’t seem to slow him down much, and he hops up on picnic tables with no problem when there is ice cream to be shared. In the evening our next-door neighbours, Gerry and Rose, invited us over to share their bonfire. We ended up sitting with them for a couple of hours, and trading phone numbers - they live in Halifax, and are going to be in Toronto in October. We got to bed a bit late, after going out to look off the viewpoint to see the lights of the Acadian shore down below us.

Day 6: Friday, August 7, 2009

We got an earlier start than usual in the morning, no doubt refreshed by the bright, warm, free showers at the Gateway Camping site just outside Amherst. I particularly admired an early 50’s Mercury towing a teardrop trailer parked just down the lane from us.

One of the welcome centres for Nova Scotia was nearby, so we stopped there for our 2009 Doers and Dreamers guide (thanks for the tip, Barb!), a driving map, and several likely-looking brochures for attractions and accommodations. The main highway then took us straight down to Truro, where we stopped at a centre explaining the tidal bore. The tide was fairly far out, but Will enjoyed wading down into the mud and giving his feet the full spa treatment. After washing him off we headed west along the Fundy shoreline, stopping in the faded old town of Maitland for a few groceries. I loved all the old houses along the shore road, and Maitland had the highest concentration of them we saw today. They all looked a bit shabby, probably just from peeling paint. Unfortunately there isn’t anything to do in Maitland. There is the main store that we stopped at, which probably thrived in the day when it was the store the surrounding farmers came to for goods and gossip. Now it’s rather sad and suffers from unfriendly staff.

I didn’t get any pictures from Maitland, for complicated reasons involving them not having a public washroom. Along the coast we stopped at the Anthony picnic park, a well-hidden provincial access to the Bay of Fundy coastline. We had our lunch there, and Will swum in the warmish, quickly advancing waters of the bay on their pebbly beach. They were brown, and Will said the foam along the edge reminded him of root beer, but that just seemed to improve the experience for him! We placed rocks to time the rising tide, and decided that it was coming up the beach at a rate of about a foot per minute.

A little further on was the Burntcoat Head Park and Interpretive Centre, a reconstructed lighthouse with more picnic grounds and access to the shore. They had the tide times for the day, and it was exactly at its high point when we arrived (2:38pm). We went down to the shore and I snapped some fabulous pictures, and we stayed just long enough to convince ourselves that more ground was out of the water than when we arrived.

Our next stop was Wolfville, which turned out to be a charming town tucked in off the water. The old railway station has been logically turned into a public library, and there was a rambling used bookstore (The Odd Book) in a couple of old row-houses where Will was able to replenish his reading material for the next few days. (He had a couple of odd choices that he brought - the Ontario driver’s guide and a pocket Criminal Code - and they’re not keeping his interest very well).

Back down the road we stopped at the Blomidon Inn for dinner, another Where to Eat in Canada pick. The house is absolutely beautiful, lovingly restored and full of dark panelling, fancy staircases, and antiques. Dinner was great - we are mostly relying on table d’hotes, which in this case was four wonderful courses of fish cakes, scallops on rice with lobster sauce, a salad, and amaretto chocolate cheesecake. (Will had salmon.) The service was relaxed yet attentive and subtle, and the food was excellent.

We found our camping spot in the dark, up the coast near Cape Split, which the federal government has apparently recently put forth a plan to develop into a wilderness park. Although I haven’t seen it in the light yet, Will is excited about the mini-golf, pool, and archery. We had the great excitement of meeting a couple with their two kids who are camping in a split-window 1960 VW; it’s the first split-window bus we’ve seen this trip, and his is in gorgeous shape, red and white with the original red-and-white side tent still intact and able to be used. After setting up we went back over to chat with them, and they came over to see inside Bobby. Tim gave us their phone number in case we run into trouble on the trip - this is his 16th bus, so he must know quite a bit about where to get them fixed!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Day 5: Thursday, August 6

(Beached jellyfish - that's Mike's hand for a size comparison).

We started the day just south of Koubichiguac, and started by driving down to Bouctouche to see the sand dune. There was no entry fee, and after checking out the interpretive centre we headed out the boardwalk. It’s neat to read about the fish, crustaceans, birds, and grasses that make up the local ecosystem. The boardwalk was over a kilometre long, and at the end we took the stairs down to the beach to walk back. An interpretive sign informed us that yes, those were jellyfish we were seeing - Lion’s Mane jellyfish, in fact. We saw tons of them, from 4” across to over a foot in diameter. Fortunately their tentacles aren’t too long, and apparently (although we didn’t test it) their stings are not too bad. We also saw hermit crabs and tons of shells, and some local kids confirmed for us that the little swimming dudes we’d seen off the beach in Caraquet were tiny baby shrimp.

Lunch was sandwiches in the bus, then we stopped at a used bookstore (actually just someone’s garage with a friendly dog who apparently runs it), then the Museum de Kent, which supposedly had a quilt “exhibition”. It was the sorriest excuse for an “exhibition” I’ve seen - it was a quilt sale of unremarkable quilts made by local ladies with no more than the usual amount of taste. There did turn out to be an antique quilt in the museum, but nobody had thought to put it on display in the basement where the quilt “exhibition” was. The museum building mostly made up for it - a four-story convent that had a beautiful chapel. For only $3 it was a deal, but it was rather odd to be followed around by a tour guide who turned the lights on and off for us in the rooms, and I guess made sure we didn’t steal or touch anything.

We headed for Moncton and Magnetic Hill, and made it around 5pm. We were surprised to see tons of people pouring towards the Hill - could it really be that busy? I saw a sign or two for “concert parking”, then one for “AC/DC parking” - we had managed to arrive at the one place where AC/DC was playing tonight! Lots of drunken (and high) show-goers loved our van, and although there was a friendly RCMP officer stationed at the entrance of the park, he assured us that we could still go in and try the hill.

I have to say that the Magnetic Hill is one of the marvels of the trip so far for me. It’s not so much that it’s really neat - it’s that it’s completely unspoiled. There’s a huge “Magic Mountain” theme park, waterpark, and zoo (not to mention a concert stage big enough for AC/DC), but they haven’t touched the actual hill one bit. I guess because it’s considered to be an optical illusion caused by the slopes of the hills around the road, they don’t dare mess with it. Other than paving the road and putting a white post at the bottom (paving and post both look 50 years old), they haven’t touched a thing. Because all the concert-goers had scared away all the tourists other than us and one or two other cars, we had it almost to ourselves and took a couple of runs at it. The second time Mike even turned off the engine completely, just to prove to Will what was happening. I had expected it to be somewhat pathetic - that you might have to squint or suspend your disbelief, and that I’d end up saying “yeah, it does look like we’re rolling uphill” just to make it fun for Will. But we really did appear to be rolling uphill, and I have no explanation for it!

Our next stop was the Windjammer restaurant, which Will has already handily reviewed. I would add that prices were high, but as well as Will’s meal being 50% off, we got the early-bird special, which is the table d’hote for $46 instead of $59. A four-course meal for $46 is no more than we’d pay for a good meal in Toronto. The service was impeccable and we were careful to tip on the pre-discounted price. I had enough cutlery arrayed around my plate to be able to give a primer on usage to Will, who is getting in the spirit of “Where to Eat in Canada” restaurants.

We wanted to make it into Nova Scotia today, since we’ve already discovered that we can’t possibly do everything we want to do in a month! We found a campground just outside Amherst and are camped for the night. Although you’re never far from water in the Maritimes, so far we’re never far from highways either, and the transports whizzing by two farms over will lull us to sleep again tonight.

P.S. I'm behind on pictures... but make sure you see the sunset picture I added later to August 4th's entry!

Restaurant Review by Will

Hi, Will again. Today is Day V(5) of our trip. We stopped at a restaurant called The Windjammer. There was lots of crazy people(AC/DC fans) attending a nearby (30 minutes away) AC/DC concert. We encountered lots of people at the restaurant who were planning to go there after they ate.

Anyway, the restaurant.
We walked in, were offered a booth seat, and sat down (the tables are on wheels so getting in and out is much easier). The menu is a 100 mile menu. All the products are from within 100 miles. We all ordered (my meal was half price if I ordered from the ‘adult’ menu instead of the kids menu which was full of junk food from the bar beside it)and they asked what we wanted to drink. My mom and Mike got wine. I said I wanted apple juice (to go with the apple cider drizzled on my salmon main course), but the waiter must have overheard my conversation with my mom(I was talking about shirley temples) and said she would specially mix me a shirley temple. The food was great. after we were given pink lemon sorbet(free) and then we ordered dessert. I ordered a vegan chocolate cake slice(yum!) and she asked me if I wanted milk with it. I said yes.
When the bill came we got free chocolate truffles(yum!) I saw both the milk and the shirley temple were both free!
My ratings:

Service:5 out of 5
Food:4 out of 5

Magnetic hill: the Optical illusion that baffled us all.

Hello, Will again. Today is day V(5) of our trip. Today we went to a hill called magnetic hill. It got its name because your car rolls uphill. I might comment later explaining it.
Supposedly its a big optical illusion. We thought you had to do something crazy to get it to work. Its simple. The steps are:1) drive though the valley. 2) do a U turn. 3) drive to the bottom of the valley. 4)put your car in Neutral. 5)take your foot off the brake. You roll!
Totally crazy. Against all my scientific knowledge (which is higher than normal because my mothers a mathematician and my parents are all geniuses).

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Just a quick note to record that we've enjoyed beautiful weather so far this trip. The sun has shone for at least part of every day, and we've had a little rain shower or two, but only while we were driving. It has been warm but only occasionally *too* warm, and it cools off nicely at night.

Of course I will have ruined that by posting this, and we can expect solid rain for the next week!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Day 4: Wednesday, August 5, 2009

First thing on the agenda today was the Village Historique Acadien, which is an Old-Fort-William-style park with old buildings and costumed interpreters. It was extensive, with 40 buildings ranging from 1770 to 1930, most of them in the 1800s and set up as a village. We spent a good four hours walking around, checking everything out and talking to the interpreters, most of whom spoke some English. I was blown away by one of the last buildings we saw - a meticulously researched and re-built hotel from 1910, originally in Caraquet, that burned down in the 50's. Not only can you stay at the hotel, but since you can't drive in to the hotel in the village grounds, they have an antique Model A Ford with a driver that ferries you back and forth to the main entrance to the park!

One item I hadn't seen before was the carding mill that was housed along with the grist mill. Used for processing sheep's wool, it had dozens of these brushes in various thicknesses to card the wool and prepare it for spinning. Farmers would bring their fleeces to be carded in the spring and take away the roving.

After lunch (sandwiches in the bus) we played mini-golf in Caraquet, at a place called "Carrefour de le Mer" which seemed to be part marina, part amusement park. Mike, who golfs once a year, beat Will and I handily, since we don't play at all.

After mini-golf we followed the coast road briefly, then headed further inland to supposedly make better time; that time was chewed up with construction on highway 11, but we still made it to Miramichi by suppertime. They have an impressive bridge, but the town looks depressed. We'd been seeing Dixie Lee restaurants since Quebec, so we tried it - the fried chicken was dry but the fried scallops were excellent.

We drove on to Kouchibouguac Park, hoping to camp for the night. It's a National park that advertises the "warmest salt water north of Virginia". Unfortunately they were full, but we've found another campground a little further south, not on the water, but with nice big plots with trees surrounding each one. Mike's braving the misquitoes (they come with the trees) doing a little bus maintenance with Will helping him.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Day 3; on the Beach

Hi, it’s Will here. Today we spent a hour or two on our campgrounds beach.
We found lots of amazing animals. First we found some small,transparent minnow-like fish that we suspected were shrimp. Me and Mike started trying to catch them to get a closer look. We found it was difficult to catch them, but when a large one ran onto my big toe (which scared the HECK outta me) I noticed it had lots of legs and had 2 arms with large pincers on the ends. I then thought, ‘how do we know that it’s not just a baby lobster??’ which made me think, ‘where DO lobsters come from?’ so our guess is they were baby lobsters. Our next discovery were small (we think) creatures that looked lots like 2 small holes in the bottom of the sand. When you make a big commotion near it the holes close, and open soon after. When we tried to dig them up, they drop under the sand. Mike suggested that it might be a part of a bigger creature that would be buried below.

I also learned how to flick stones across the water. I did it twice and then I started messing up. But, hey! I’m next to water for a whole month!

Day 3: Tuesday, August 4, 2009

We were up and off in the morning, driving through fairly wild and hilly parts of Quebec that looked a lot like Scotland. There were many people flyfishing on the Matapedia River that we drove along. We hit New Brunswick right around lunchtime, but missed our lunch hour when the time changed from 11:30 in Quebec to 12:30 in the Atlantic time zone. We crossed over a nice big bridge into Campbellton, where we had our sandwiches and stopped at the Information Centre for a double fistful of pamphlets on camping and attractions.

We took the shore road (134, I think), otherwise known as the Acadian coastal trail. The proud Acadian heritage is very evident here, with almost every house having at least a five-pointed star on it, and some decked out in flags, bunting, and every conceivable combination of blue, red, and white with a gold star. Although we're out of Quebec now, every establishment greets us with "bonjour" or "bon soir", so Mike and I are still embarrassedly bringing out our high-school French to attempt to order and ask directions.

We stopped to camp and have dinner in Caraquet, where we found a lovely campsite right on the water. After checking in we finally got our feet wet in the sea, catching various little "dudes" (as Will calls them) and avoiding a couple of jellyfish. Supper was not a "Where to Eat in Canada" meal, but we filled up on tasty fresh seafood a stone's throw from the boats that presumably caught it.

Sunset at our campsite, #77 in Caraquet:

Day 2: Monday, August 3, 2009

There was a second sign we hadn't noticed in the Wal-Mart window, saying that they'd be open on the holiday Monday at 9am! So, they missed our morning business, and we went next door to the Superstore for cereal and milk (and washrooms).

It was a heavy driving day, blasting through almost all of Quebec. At Montreal we headed south onto highway 20, to follow the southern edge of the St. Lawrence river, which surprised us with its brown waters. I saw many small farms and weather-beaten houses, and each little town had its own silvery church spire marking its spot above the trees.

We stopped for lunch just past Montreal when we crossed a surprisingly pretty river below a bridge, with a convenient information centre where I picked up a guide to the 77 fromageries in Quebec, and we made our sandwiches to tide us over for dinner. (New addition to the ten-year plan; learn French and spend a month eating cheese in Quebec.)

We wanted to stop in the tiny town of Le Bic for dinner, but the restaurant we had in mind is closed on Monday. We ended up further on in Sainte-Flavie, along the Gaspe peninsula, at a restaurant called La Gaspesiana. It was a fairly upscale restaurant in a hotel, with amazing views of the sea, and absolutely wonderful food.

It was late by the time we were on the road again and thinking about where to sleep for the night, but it was only about half an hour on the road that we found a campground with a proprietor who was still awake to take our $25 and point us to a slot just about 25 feet from the highway. At least there were flush toilets, and we knew within a couple of hours of leaving in the morning, we'd be in the Maritimes!

Day 1: Sunday, August 2, 2009

We left home later than intended, well after lunchtime. Our first stop was not the Martimes, but to visit Taavi and Nicola and their new baby Teo, who is just two weeks old, and will have changed a lot by the time we get back!

The supper break was in Kingston, where we attempted to set the tone for the trip by finding a "Where to Eat in Canada" restaurant. Tango, in the charming old downtown of Kingston, turned out to be an excellent choice due to their 40% off special on tapas dishes on Sundays. We nibbled our way through six of them, then looked around the docks and decided we'd have to come back to Kingston sometime.

We stopped for the night in Brockville in the Wal-Mart parking lot, carefully checking to make sure they'd be open in the morning (the sign said 7am).

Saturday, August 1, 2009

We leave tomorrow!

Bobby (our intrepid '78 Westy) is back from the mechanic and ready to go. Today we're in the final round of laundry and packing, and doing all those last-minute things that mysteriously need doing right when you thought you were ready.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Since our Yukon adventure blog last year was such a hit with friends and family, we're starting another for this summer's adventure - to the Maritimes!

We plan to spend the entire month of August traveling to all parts east... we leave on August 2 and return by August 28.