A Tour of the Maritime Provinces
(July 10 to July 21)
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As I did with our seven week tour of Michigan last summer, I have decided to do write the travelogues for our tour of the Maritime Provinces as a daily log. I hope you enjoy following our nine week journey through these provinces. It will be documented in four or five travelogues.
The first French settlement in North America was in New Brunswick, on St. Croix Island, in 1604. The Treaty of Utrecht ceded Acadie to England in 1713. Between 1755-1763, British authorities enforced a deportation order against Acadians in the Maritime region. Stripped of all rights and property, they were put on overcrowded ships and sent to England, France, or the colonies in America. After 1763, some exiled Acadians eventually migrated to the eastern seaboard and Louisiana. Over time, their lifestyle and language blended with local cultures and dialects. The word "Acadian" became known as "Cajun". Today, there is a large Acadian culture that continues to grow in New Brunswick.
The Appalachian Mountains take their name from the Appalachee Indians. I didn't realize that they stretch from Eastern Canada to the tip of Alabama, about 1,500 miles in length.
Wednesday, July 9 (the day before) - Last night we had one final visit and meal with my friend, Tom McGonegal. He was curious about the coordinates for his house, so Norm and I took our laptops and GPS receivers out to his house and found the coordinates for him. Then we all went to have one last meal at Lobsterman's Wharf in East Boothbay. It was foggy all day in Ocean Point making it impossible to see the ocean, but it was nice in East Boothbay, so we ate out on the deck. It overlooked the Damarascotta River where we watched the fog lift and then roll back in again. The fish sandwich was great once again. Then it was time to say good-bye to Tom until the next time our paths will cross.
Today we drove to Houlton to position ourselves for the border crossing into Canada tomorrow. It started out with a drizzle, but ended up being a very nice driving day. We arrived at the My Brother's Place Campground and got settled into very large pullthru sites. Norm unhooked his car and we drove into town to the post office to pick up our mail that we had forwarded. Then we did a Wal-Mart run and Pizza Hut for dinner.
Thursday, July 10 - the border was about three more miles on I-95 and at the end of that road. Diane and I have now driven both ends of I-75 and US 41, and now I-95. We thought it might take some time to get through Customs, but it didn't take very long at all. Both of our rigs were pulled over and searched. The guy who took the Payne's rig was very thorough and opened just about every drawer and also checked the car. Our guy just wanted to see how much alcohol we had, which he said was a bit over the limit, but he let it go. He asked the normal questions about firearms and pepper spray, where we were from, where we were going, how long were we going to stay in Canada. He was very pleasant. Then we were on our way to Fredericton. The drive was quite scenic as the road paralleled the St. John River.
We don't have a plan with Cingular that would allow us to use our cell phone in Canada, so it will be off the entire time we are in Canada. However, the Paynes have AT&T and they have an addendum that allows use of their phone in Canada. It was our last night in the USA, so we made some phone calls to book campgrounds for the first couple of weeks. Good thing we decided to do that. The first place we called for a campground for the upcoming weekend in Fredericton was booked. So we called Mactaquac Provincial Park and they said to just come on in. It turned out that we liked the sites in the Provincial Park better than the sites we saw in Hartt Island RV Resort when we drove past it. That campground was full with a caravan ready to start their tour on Friday. The sites were big and spacious in the Provincial Park, as opposed to what seemed like tight sites in Hartt Island. We had a choice of getting sites in the field or in the trees. We opted for the field and, surprisingly, were able to get access to the satellite given that the dish is almost facing straight out to the horizon. Actually, my dish appears to be aimed a bit downward. n
After getting set up, we drove into Fredericton to the Regent Mall to get some money from an ATM and check out the movie times for the weekend. Now you didn't think that Diane and I would miss seeing movies while we were in Canada, did you? There are two new ones this week that we want to see: "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "League of Extraordinary Gentleman". ;-)
After checking out the mall, we drove into downtown Fredericton, parked the car, and did a walking tour for a couple of hours. We visited St. Dunstan's Church; Christ Church Cathedral (got a tour); and the Legislative Assembly Building (got a tour).
Fredericton, which is known as the City of Stately Elms, was built along the St. John River. Prior to Fredericton's existence, the area was a seasonal stop for Maliseet and Micmac Indians who hunted, fished, and grew crops along the Woolastook, their name for the St. John River. The French and the English fought over the land in the new world. The French eventually gained control of Nova Scotia, which included the St. John River Valley. After the destructive floods of 1692, the Fredericton area was not settled again until 1732 when a group of French Acadians made their way to the St. John River Valley. The area came under English jurisdiction in 1758 when British forces captured Louisburg. On April 25, 1845, Queen Victoria issued letters making Fredericton a Cathedral City and the seat of a Bishop's Diocese.
The cathedral was completed in 1853 and is an example of the nineteenth century revival of Gothic Architecture. It is a memorial to the first bishop of Fredericton, Bishop John Medley who brought the plans for the cathedral from England and was modeled on the Parish Church of Smettisham, Norfolk. It is just like the cathedrals Diane and I saw during our travels in Europe, only smaller. The interior was quite beautiful, with lots of stained glass windows and carved wooden choir stalls leading to the sanctuary.
We then walked to Officer's Square in the historic Garrison District. After snapping a couple of photos of the guards, we decided to find a place to eat dinner and settled on Dimitri's, a Greek restaurant. The souvlaki was delicious. After dinner, we went back to the garage to grab some jackets (yes, it sometimes gets cool here in the evening and at night) and chairs and headed to Officer's Square. We caught the tail end of the changing of the guard and then set up our chairs for the concert. The Guard dates back to 1693 when Governor Carleton formed the first New Brunswick Regiment. The group giving the concert performance was True North True, a modern folk group. They were OK.
All things considered on a travel day, we did a lot today.
Friday, July 11 - Whereas yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous day, today was cool and rainy, a great day to see the two aforementioned movies. It was raining hard when we came out of the theater at 6 p.m., so we just walked around the mall, went to Wal-Mart to buy a pre-paid calling card for calls back to the States, spent 20 minutes checking email in the cyber cafe in the Starbucks that was part of the Chapters bookstore, and ate dinner in the food court. It was a nice way to spend a rainy day, especially since we both thought the two movies were great.
Saturday, July 12 - The day started off as predicted, overcast and a little cool. We didn't do anything today, just hung around the campground. We went over to Norm and Linda's motorhome and spent most of the afternoon playing a game of dominoes, Mexican Train, which is popular with RVers. Well, most RVers. I'm not big on dominoes, and I never do well in Mexican Train. I prefer card games, especially Phase 10. I don't always win, but I find it more fun. Different strokes for different folks. After the game, Linda suggested we cook out on their grill for dinner, so we agreed to cook out around 6 p.m. The sun had come out and it was quite beautiful. Norm and Linda went off for a ride on their scooter, and Diane and I went over to the very beautiful golf course to do some putting on the practice green.
We all brought some food and had dinner outside at the Payne's motorhome, and then went for a walk around the campground. The dam was visible across Mactaquac Lake from a point in the campground. We snapped some photos and continued our walk. It was a nice do nothing day.
Sunday, July 13 - Today dawned with warm temperatures and bright sun. It was a perfect day to visit King's Landing, a historical settlement that re-creates rural life in 19th century New Brunswick. The settlement was created when the Mactaquac Dam was constructed in the 1960s. When many of the historic homes were threatened by the rising water, it was decided that some of them should be saved. Buildings were moved to what is now Kings Landing and were restored. Costumed staff chat with the visitors to the various buildings in the settlement about what life was like in the 1800s. We spent several hours walking around the settlement with a break for lunch on an outdoor patio at the King's Head Inn.
I had been eyeing the beautiful golf course in the park and decided that I had to play it, bad ankle or not. So Norm and I headed over to the course to play a round after we got back from King's Landing. The rates were quite fair for such a nice course, ranging from $59 during the day and a twilight rate of $45 after 5 p.m. Those prices are Canadian, so the real rates would be $42 during the day and $32 for the twilight rate. Given that sunset was around 9:15 p.m., there was plenty of time to play a complete round. The course was everything it looked like from the road. Nicely manicured fairways and gorgeous, large greens. We had a good time. Late in the round it got a bit slow up in front of us, so we asked a couple of guys behind us if they'd like to play in as a foursome, which they did. So we met Larry and Gary, both natives of New Brunswick from the Fredericton area. Nice guys.
Monday, July 14 - Our stay in Mactaquac was a nice start to our nine week journey through the Maritime Provinces. Today we drove to Shediac, booked as the Lobster Capital of the World for a one week stay. We called ahead a few days ago to a campground that sounded pretty interesting, Etoile Filante (Wishing Star). The directory said it was situated on an inlet to the ocean. They said that they were booked and put us on a waiting list. However, when we arrived, we got side-by-side, full hookup sites. The drive along TransCanada 2 was OK, but sort of like driving an interstate through lots of nothing. It wasn't anything like the drive along the same highway as it paralleled the St. John River.
We got set up and headed out for dinner. We selected the Lobster Deck a few blocks away from the campground. We were pretty surprised at the price of the lobster dinners, which were in the high $20 to $30 range. That put them around $22-25 American, which is more than we usually spend when we eat out. I've said before that we eat out a lot, but we don't eat out expensive, except for special occasions. But there were other entrees worth trying, so Norm and I had a salmon dinner, Diane had the Haddock, and Linda had scallops. I'm sure we'll probably have to try a lobster before we leave the area.
Tuesday, July 15 - Diane and I checked out the executive (short) golf course in town last evening, Wikiwak Golf & Camping. They had a special deal on Tuesdays - two can play for $25. We mentioned it to Norm and Linda and they were up for playing a round of golf. It turned out to be a beautiful day. The course was "interesting" in that it was the first 11-hole course I'd ever seen. You play the first 11 holes and then play seven of the first nine holes to make it an 18-hole course. It was fun.
Wednesday, July 16 - We all drove into Moncton to walk around for a while. First stop was Magnetic Hill, which is an illusion that makes it seem like cars are rolling up hill. We paid our $5 Canadian to get in and then checked it out for ourselves. Sure enough, the car rolls up hill. Interesting.
Next stop: find the Wal-Mart and movie theater. We picked up some stuff in Wal-Mart and could see the movie theater from there. We found our way to the theater to check out the times for the weekend. It was now time for lunch and Mario's (an American Italian eatery) was right there in the parking lot, so we stopped for lunch.
We wanted to go downtown to the visitor center to get some information and headed in that direction. As we were driving along Mountain Rd., we encountered some construction that had us stop for a short time. It was then that Diane looked to the right and noticed that we were right in front of Dean Edgett's business location. I met Dean via the RVAMERICA bulletin board when he answered a query I posted about where to stay when in New Brunswick. We have kept in touch and planned to visit with Dean and his wife, Elizabeth. The plan was to meet for dinner tonight, but this was a great opportunity to pop in and say hi. Unfortunately, they were out of the office, so we left our cards and continued downtown.
Diane knew she wanted to see the Celtic Cross, which we found out was close to the visitor center. We got some information from a very nice young lady in the center and started out on our walk. We found the Celtic Cross and took a few photos and then walked a few more blocks along Main St before turning up to St. George St to check out a couple of churches, including the Cathedrale Notre-Dame de L'Assomption.
We drove back to Shediac to wait for the Edgetts to come by for dinner. Dean suggested Fred's Restaurant in Cap-Pele for some of the best fried clams in the area. The other place that was mentioned to us was Gould's in Shediac, but Dean said Fred's was better, and we had gotten that recommendation from someone else, as well. I got the small plate of fried clams and had all I could do to finish the meal. They were delicious.
After dinner, we went back to the campground to visit some more and get some tips from Dean and Elizabeth about places to see, and things to do in future places along our journey. They told us that PEI is absolutely gorgeous, confirming what we've heard from other folks. We are very much looking forward to touring PEI next week.
It was great to meet such nice folks and we had a great visit. It's possible that we might hook up again in September when we are visiting the southern coast of New Brunswick where Dean and Elizabeth go on weekends with their Mountain Aire motorhome.
Thursday, July 17 - Today was cloudy, but warm. A great day to take advantage of being able to wash the motorhome. Diane and I walked to the library after breakfast to use a computer to do email. Then she and Linda went shopping. I spent the next three hours washing the motorhome. I just couldn't let an opportunity pass to wash the rig because it's tough to find places that will let us wash our rigs. Now it's nice and clean once again.
Just as I was finishing up with the rig, we got a new neighbor on our left. A brand new 2003 Prevost Marathon Coach backed into the site. For you non-RVers, that meant that we now had a million dollar motorhome parked next to us. That's SIX zeros, as in $1,000,000. Actually, it probably listed for around $1.2M, but what's a couple of hundred thousand bucks when you're talking about a million. That now made a total of six Prevosts in the campground. It boggles the mind that there are people who have that kind of money to spend on something that depreciates in value every year. What were they towing you ask? Well, a new, big Mercedes sedan, of course.
Jumping ahead a little in this chronology, I got to chat with the guy a couple of times while we were in the campground. They were from Quebec and didn't speak much English, but the guy spoke good enough English to carry on a conversation (along with my very few French words). I asked him if they ever travel to Florida and he said they have. They like the Naples area and stay in Pelican Bay, which is a luxury RV Resort. Not a place that Diane and I would choose to stay. He told me the rates there were $65 a night away from the water and $80 a night near the water. Gulp. He also said they've been to Port St. Lucie. I told him we spent two months there last winter, but not where he probably stayed, which was at the Outdoor Resorts at $50 a night. He told me he once owned the two American Eagle motorhomes that were in the campground before switching to the Prevost after having owned four American Eagles. Whew. I'm outta breath just thinking about the money involved in all those rigs. They will be heading to the FMCA rally on PEI next week, which is where we will be going.
After finishing with the rig, I went over to chat with the couple parked behind us, 70ish folks. He spoke pretty good English and he translated for his wife. They were very interested in our full-timing lifestyle. She indicated that she loved the Naples, Florida area. They were very nice to let me wash the rig given that the wind was blowing hard and in their direction. When the guy came out of his motorhome, he was going to sit out, but noticed I was on the roof washing the rig. I apologized for the spray and he told me to take my time and finish washing the rig. Nice folks.
I noticed in the local paper that the summer concert series at the Pascal-Poirier Park in Shediac was starting up tonight. They have a concert every Thursday through Sunday. Tonight's entertainment was the Mathieu D'Astous Band and they were terrific. It was a rock band made up of a drummer, percussionist, and three guitars (lead, rhythm, and bass). We walked into town to the park and listened to one set from the back of the small park, and then Diane and I moved up to the front to one of the benches in front of the stage to get a better look. The lead guitarist was great, and I love to watch a great lead guitarist play. The songs were mostly in French, which was also great because French is my favorite language to listen to (followed closely by Japanese). It makes no difference that I don't understand the words (well, some of them I do understand). It's such a pleasant language to listen to. Diane and I had a good time for a couple of hours and then stopped at the ice cream shop on the way back to the campground.
Friday, July 18 - Today was a long day. We targeted today to drive to Hopewell Cape to see the Hopewell Rocks. We left the campground at 9 a.m. and returned a little after 9 p.m. The Hopewell Rocks are located in the Bay of Fundy, which separates the landmasses of Canada's East Coast. The Bay is wide at the mouth and grows increasingly narrow. The result is a large surge of water that rushes in and out that causes the world's highest tides. Twice daily, 100 billion tons of water enter and leave the Bay - equal to all the rivers on the planet. At low tide, it's possible to walk on the ocean floor among the huge rocks from three hours before low tide to three hours after low tide. Today, low tide was at 10:30 a.m. and high tide was at 4:25 p.m. To fully appreciate the rocks, it is suggested that people view both low and high tides.
It took about an hour to drive to the rocks where we paid our entry fee and walked down the trail to the most famous of the rocks, the sandstone Flowerpot Rocks. They were, indeed, mammoth. We took some photos from the observation platform and then walked down to the ocean floor for a closer look. As we walked along the ocean floor, we were all quite impressed by the size of the rocks and how much water would come in later in the day, water that would rise some 40 feet.
We walked quite a ways down the beach until we came upon some rocks. It appeared that we could climb over the rocks and continue on our way to a trail further down the beach. However, we actually hit a dead end and had to turn around and go back to the trail we took down to the Flowerpot Rocks. Of course, we could have gone out to the edge of the water and walked, but that would have meant walking in knee-deep mud which, for us "old" folks, wasn't an option. We watched some kids and young adults walking in the mud and it didn't look very inviting to anyone other than kids and young adults.
After climbing back up to the trail and out to the visitor center, we saw that we had about four hours to high tide, so we decided to drive to the little town of Alma for lunch. We found a place with a patio and had a lobster roll and a Caesar Salad for lunch. Then we drove into Fundy National Park to check out the campgrounds in the park.
We got back to Hopewell Rocks and walked back down to the observation platform to view the high tide. It was amazing to see how much water had come in during the four hours we were gone. Norm and I took some photos and then we headed back to Shediac. On the way, Norm stopped to fuel up his Honda and I picked up a newspaper. There was an ad in the paper that invited people to "Come join us for our famous lobster supper" at the Trinity United Church in downtown Shediac, a few blocks from the campground and across from the park where the summer concert series was being held. It was 20 bucks for a lobster plus cole slaw and potato salad, and dessert and a beverage. We figured that was a good price, so we drove right to the church and sat down for our lobster dinner. It was quite good, and they were very efficient in serving the meals.
While we were eating, two couples came and sat down at our table. Small world that they would sit near us. The guys were brothers and they were from Spokane, WA and on a nine-week trip. One of the couples was driving a Dutch Star, so that naturally generated lots of discussions. We talked about Quartzite and Mexico, both places they've been to and the Paynes will be visiting next winter. They said they would be going to Newfoundland, so it is quite possible that we'll bump into them somewhere along the way.
The performer at the concert tonight was Gary Donelle. He was terrific. We watched and listened from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. He played mostly upbeat Cajun and French folk music. He played guitar and was accompanied by music a la karaoke style. We all agreed that his voice was very pleasant and he had a vast repertoire. It was another great concert and we look forward to tomorrow night's concert.
Saturday, July 19 - The morning turned out to be chilly and drizzly, which canceled our plans to drive to Kouchbiguac National Park to picnic. We just hung around the campground most of the day. I got to watch the British Open while Diane played Scrabble with Linda. They have been playing a game almost every day, usually Boggle or Scrabble, and we all play Phase 10 once in a while. It was a good day for Diane and I to see a movie, so we drove into Moncton to see "Bad Boyz 2". By the time we got our of the movie, the weather cleared and it was nice.
We got back to Shediac just as Norm and Linda were getting back from a ride on their scooter. They hadn't eaten yet, so Diane and I walked up to the park in town for the concert, and Norm and Linda joined us a while later. Tonight's entertainment was Lionel Melanson, a country singer. He was backed up by three musicians on lead guitar, bass, and banjo. He sang songs in both French and English and was OK. On the way back to the campground, we just couldn't resist stopping again at the ice cream shop for another cone of delicious soft ice cream. Yummy.
Sunday, July 20 - I don't obsess about watching the weekly golf tournaments on TV, but I do admit to obsessing about watching the four major golf tournaments, especially the weekend rounds. So that meant that today I watched the final round of the British Open while also puttering around the motorhome, including washing all the windows. The tournament ended around 3 p.m. local time and then Diane and I headed out for a ride up the coast towards Richibucto. We took the roads that kept us close to the water for the better views and stopped at the information center near Bouctouche. On the way home, we stopped at D&L's for dinner. Good food at a good price.
The concert tonight was booked as a group named "Five Strings". We walked into town to check it out and it turned out to be basically the same group as it was last night. The lead guitarist, bass player, and banjo player were the same guys. There was a different singer who played the mandolin, and a different guy on rhythm guitar. Diane and I listened to a few songs and then decided to head back to the campground. Needless to say, we did stop for a final ice cream cone. However, we "controlled" ourselves and only had a small cone this time. ;-)
It worked out pretty good that the concert didn't pan out for us. I wanted to get another coat of wax on the front of the motorhome, which is hard to do during the day with the sun beating on the front of the motorhome. So I got that done and started packing things up for our travel day tomorrow.
We will leave New Brunswick tomorrow and head to Prince Edward Island for 7-10 days.
Until next time, safe travels.....
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