A Tour of the Maritime Provinces
Nova Scotia and New Brunswick - Part 2
(August 27 to September 7)
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Wednesday, August 27 - The crossing on the ferry from Newfoundland seemed quicker than it was going over, although it was about the same time, maybe 15 minutes quicker. We disembarked from the ferry without any problems and headed towards Halifax. Of course, the only obstacle was crossing the very narrow Seal Island Bridge with us leading the way this time, and the narrow lane on the other side of the bridge from where it was three weeks ago. But we made across without incident and were on our way to Halifax. We thought we'd be able to make it all the way to Halifax, but we agreed that we would drive until one of us became too tired to continue. The weather was gorgeous for driving, and it felt great to be on good roads again. We did make it all the way to Halifax and the roads we traveled were very good with only a few short bumpy sections. Our goal was to reach the RV dealership, Central RV, about 10 miles outside of Halifax. They were a Newmar dealer and Norm had an appointment to have them look at his refrigerator to see if it could be repaired.
The dealership was closed when we arrived, but there was a guy walking around the lot with his kids looking at RVs. Norm and I went over to chat with him and it turned out he was a local police officer. We chatted about RVing and our full-timing lifestyle and asked him for some restaurant suggestions. We were looking for a Mexican restaurant, but he couldn't come up with one. We drove down to Exit 2A on Route 102 where there was a Wal-Mart and lots of other stores and restaurants and, of course, the Empire Theaters Cinema. We saw an East Side Marios and decided an Italian meal sounded great, so that's where we ate.
Then it was back to the RV lot for the night. I tried to use my dish, but couldn't get a signal, so we were again stuck with just a couple of Canadian stations via the antenna. It will be great to be able to use the dish again.
Thursday, August 28 - A service tech was over early this morning to look at the Payne's refrigerator. It turned out that they would have to put in a new cooling unit and it would take 10 days to arrive. They didn't have that kind of time to wait for it, so they weren't able to get the refrigerator fixed.
It turned out to be a productive day for me. The thermostat I ordered for the electric side of our hot water heater was in, so I was able to get that installed with some guidance from Norm. Now I know how to do that and my "semi-handy" status went up a notch. While we had the tools out, I even replaced the 12-volt receptacle that broke in the Honda where we plug in the Brake Buddy. So maybe my status went up two notches. ;-)
Diane and I decided to do a movie day as there were four movies out that we wanted to see. Today we did a double feature and saw Open Range (a western with Kevin Costner, Robert Duvall, and Annette Benning). It was OK. Then we saw The Medallion (with Jackie Chan) which was typical Jackie Chan stuff. It also was just OK. But the popcorn, three large bags, was GREAT.
I met a German couple this evening who were wandering around the RV lot looking at RVs. They were from the Nuremberg area and had a summer place in Nova Scotia down the coast from Halifax. They had an RV, but were interested in something smaller. I chatted with them about RVs and the full-timing lifestyle. They were interested in a Class B van type RV to tour the USA and Mexico.
Friday, August 29 - We got permission from the dealership to stay in the RV lot through the Labor Day Weekend, so we all decided that would serve as a good base to tour the area for a few days. Today we set out to tour the Lunenburg and Mahone Bay areas. Our first stop was at the post office in Mahone Bay to pick up our mail that we had forwarded. Then it was on to Lunenburg with plans to stop and tour Mahone Bay on the return.
Lunenburg was recognized in 1996 by the United Nations as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although there was a small French settlement in Lunenburg Bay in the 17th century, the town was actually founded in 1753. It was settled by German, Swiss, and Montbeliardian Protestants as part of the colonial government's efforts to keep the garrison in Halifax properly supplied. Lunenburg celebrated its 250th anniversary this year.
The tourist information office was at the campground in Lunenburg, so we headed there to get some information and check out the campground. It was a nice campground with open sites with full or partial hookups. We all agreed it would be a place we could spend much more time to relax and take in the surrounding area. While we were walking around the campground, we spotted a 2001 Dutch Star, so we walked over to talk to the guy who was outside. We met Paul Boucher from Moncton. Given that the Edgetts were business people in Moncton, we asked Paul if he knew the Edgetts. He said he knew them and had some insurance dealings with the Edgett's insurance business over the years. Small world.
We drove into town to the harbor area and parked the car to walk around for a while. The first thing we saw was a shop where some guys were making scallop rakes. They are like huge chain links that are dragged along the bottom of the sea to harvest scallops. It sure seemed like laborious, back breaking, work. We continued our walk along the harbor and past the Fishermen's Memorial and on to the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, which was housed in the buildings of a former fish processing plant. There was lots to do in the museum and we didn't get to cover it all. There was a large salt water aquarium where we saw lots of fish and live lobster, including a few huge ones. We looked at many of the artifacts of the fishing industry and then went outside to board a trawler and a schooner.
The Cape Sable, a side trawler, was built in 1962. We boarded and walked through the entire ship. It sure seemed like fishing was a tough business to get into, and the life aboard a trawler must be very difficult at times. It made us appreciate what it takes to catch the fish that we enjoy eating. The other ship moored at the museum was the Theresa E. Connor, the last dory schooner to fish from Lunenburg.
Mahone Bay was next on our tour. We stopped at the Visitor Center to get some information as we passed through. The big draw in town was "The Three Churches", which made for a fine photo op. In 1754, which was a year after Lunenburg was founded, Captain Ephraim Cook set up a blockhouse where the Mush-a-Mush River flowed into the bay. It was soon after that "foreign Protestants" were recruited by the British government to go to Nova Scotia. They settled along the hillsides overlooking the ocean and layed out streets that eventually became the town of Mahone Bay.
There was a yarn shop in Mahone Bay that Linda wanted to stop at to pick up some yarn. She is very talented at knitting things and has made some gorgeous hats, sweaters, etc. While the gals were in the yarn shop, Norm and I walked down the street and onto a pier to try and get a good photo of the churches. On the way back, I noticed a sign advertising some delicious desserts. Well, that kind of solidified where we would eat dinner. We told Diane and Linda about the place, the Saltspray Cafe and Coffee House, and went there to eat. We got a table outside on the deck overlooking the bay and the three churches across the bay. Diane and I split a lobster sandwich and seafood chowder and then looked forward to the desserts. It was the dutch apple pie that caught my eye, but then I saw rice pudding with raisins on the menu. Wow. I don't often see that on dessert menus, and I loved eating rice pudding with raisins as a youngster. So Diane got the pie and I got the pudding and we had a feast. YUMMY. Linda had the peanut butter pie (think Reese's) and Norm had the blueberry pie. The pies were a la mode, of course.
It was a good day and we headed back to Halifax with some nice memories of Lunenburg and Mahone Bay.
Saturday, August 30 - Today was a rainy, foggy day. A great day for a couple of movies. Diane and I went to see Le Divorce (Kate Hudson). It was good. Then we saw Uptown Girls (Britanny Murphy and Dakota Fanning). It was excellent. Yes, we devoured three bags of popcorn. The rest of the day was a do nothing day. Nice day to relax.
Sunday, August 31 - The rain cleared out and the day was sunny and pleasant, a good day to tour Halifax. Our first stop was to visit the Citadel, the old fort in Halifax. It was one of the most impressive forts we have ever visited. It was once the command post and landward bastion of Halifax's defenses. Halifax was founded in 1754 and there have been four different forts built on Citadel Hill. The current Citadel took 28 years to build and was finished in 1856. It was built as a defense against a possible attack on the city in the event of war with the United States. In 1906, the British garrison was withdrawn due to the growing tensions in Europe that led to Word War I. The Citadel served as a sentinel during two World Wars. The harbor and its defenses were so great that there was never an attack on the city or the Citadel. Today it is a Canadian National Historic Site.
We walked around for a while and then had a light lunch in the cafe before hooking up with a tour of the Citadel. The young lady who gave the tour was very good and gave us a great history of the area and the fort.
After touring the fort we drove into the city and found a place to park. One of the guides described a walking tour of the city, so we kind of followed that from the point at which we parked. We walked down to the harbor and took in the sights along the way. The first thing we saw was Saint Mary's Basilica built in 1784. At one time, Catholic worship and land ownership was forbidden. When those laws were repealed in 1782, a group of Irish Catholics bought some land where they built the first Catholic Church in Halifax, Saint Peter's. In 1801, Father Edmund Burke realized that the church could no longer accommodate the congregation. He petitioned Rome to separate from Quebec and create a new diocese. The result was the building of the second Catholic cathedral in Canada.
We continue down to the harbor. It was crowded with people on this sunny day. There were several ships moored in the harbor, including a tall ship and schooners. Also, the Bluenose schooner was in town. It was built and launched in Lunenburg in 1921, and was primarily a fishing schooner, but it was built to win the International Fishermen's Trophy awarded for a formal race series. The United States won the 1920 trophy when the Esperanto out of Gloucester, Massachusetts defeated the Delawana out of Lunenburg. In October 1921, the Bluenose defeated the Elsie out of Gloucester and won the trophy every year for 18 years. Attempts to keep the schooner in Nova Scotia failed and it was sold to carry freight in the West Indies. In 1946, the Bluenose foundered on a reef off the shores of Haiti. The Bluenose II was launched in 1963 and is a duplicate of the Bluenose. It is revered by sailing people in Nova Scotia, and is owned by the government of Nova Scotia.
Someone told us that the best seafood in town could be found at McKelvies Restaurant in Halifax. We found the restaurant and checked out the menu. They had a early bird menu that looked pretty good, and the regular menu looked great, too. We had some great seafood entrees and then walked back along the harbor to get a cappuccino before heading home. We enjoyed our day in Halifax and would plan to spend more time there on a return visit.
Monday, September 1 - Canadians celebrate the Labor Day Weekend, so there were lots of folks on the road, but never a lot of traffic. We took a drive along a loop on Route 333 in the St. Margaret's Bay Region that took us through Peggy's Cove. You may remember that in 1998, Swissair Flight 111 crashed after takeoff from JFK on its way to Geneva. The people in the towns in the area helped with the recovery effort for months after the crash. A memorial was built outside the town and a service was planned for tomorrow on the anniversary of the crash. We visited the memorial before driving into Peggy's Cove.
The town was founded in 1811 and was one of the most picturesque that we've seen during our time in the Maritimes. The year round population of Peggy's Cove is about 50 people, most of whom earn their livelihood from tourism or fishing. One of the big attractions in Peggy's Cove, other than the beauty of the area, is the lighthouse post office. The first lighthouse was built in 1868. The present lighthouse was completed in 1916 and was manned until 1958, at which time it became fully automatic. Since 1975, the village post office has been operating on the lower level during the summer months. It is the only Canadian Post Office in a lighthouse.
We had lunch at the restaurant near the lighthouse, took some photos, had some ice cream, and then headed for home.
Tuesday, September 2 - Our Maritimes journey was drawing to a close as we started the final five days of our journey. We drove to St. John today and pulled into Rockwood Park in the middle of the city. It was sort of like Pippy Park in that it was on city property, but owned by a private corporation. It was OK, but the site layouts were kind of weird. You get to pick your own site in a big gravel area that more resembled a parking lot than a campground. The power was pretty good and we had full hookups, so that was good.
As I was setting up outside, a guy came over to ask about reception on the dish. Then he thought he recognized me and asked if I participated on any of the RV bulletin boards. I told him I did when I had access to a land line to connect to the Internet. It was then that he asked if my name was "Rich Emond". I told him it was and he told me he knew me from the RV boards and our website which he told me he read religiously. So cool. He knew we were traveling with Norm and Linda, so I told him they were down the row from where we were. I walked with him to their rig so he could meet them. His name was Norm Newhall from Connecticut. We chatted for a while and wished each other safe travels as they were leaving the next morning.
We all had a hankering for Mexican food and drove into the city to find Mexicali Rosa and some Mexican food and a big marguerita. Yummy. We all needed a Mexican fix and were very satisfied at the end of our meal.
Wednesday, September 3 - St. John was incorporated in 1785 and is the oldest incorporated city in Canada. There was a bus tour of the city that picked up at Rockwood Park and left twice a day. We don't usually do city tours, but it seemed to be a good idea to get a quick overview of the city. It turned out that our bus driver was great and knew his stuff. The two-hour tour actually ended up being almost three hours. The cost was $16. A cruise ship was in port and we encountered several buses that were full of people from the ship as we made stops along the tour route. Our driver told us they charged something like $50 for the same tour if you booked it via the cruise ship. We had some folks on our tour who were aware of that ripoff and took the same tour we were on and paid $16. Good move on their part.
The tour stopped at a couple of sites along the way, including the old city market, the Carleton Martello Tower (a National Historic Site), and the Reversing Falls. The old city market was a great place to get fresh seafood, meat, fruits, and vegetables, as well as sandwiches and other goodies. We knew we would go back there, so we only scouted it out for the few minutes we had there on the tour. The interesting thing about the market was the roof inside which was in the form of the hull of a ship. One of the things our tour guide told us we had to try was "dulse", a leafy sea vegetable that grew on the shores of Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy. He told us that it was an acquired taste, and he was right. The locals eat it as a snack, just like we would eat popcorn or potato chips. However, it was a quite fishy, salty taste, and not acquired by us with one tasting. Yuk.
The Carleton Martello Tower was a cannonball-proof circular stone fort built during the War of 1812. The structure typified the English martello tower design that was a popular form of coastal defense in the British Isles during the Napoleonic period. We got to tour the tower and climb up the stone spiral staircase. Inside we could see the living conditions the troops had to endure while living in the tower. It sure seemed like a tough way to live.
Our final stop on the tour was the Reversing Falls. It is a unique phenomenon caused by the tremendous tides of the Bay of Fundy. These are some of the highest tides in the world, as we saw during our visit to the Hopewell Rocks several weeks ago. The bay's tidal action is affected by the funnel shape of Fundy Bay and the moon's phases. The St. John River flows for 450 miles and empties into the bay through a narrow rocky gorge. An underwater ledge that is 36 feet below the surface causes a series of rapids and whirlpools. As the bay's tide rises, it slows the river current to a stop for about 20 minutes. They call this "slack tide" and is the only time it is safe to navigate through the area. After the slack tide period, the tide rises higher than the river with such force that the current reverses as the bay dumps into the St. John River and continues until high tide. The tide can rise up to 14 1/2 feet in the gorge. After high tide, the process reverses. It was quite interesting. We were there at low tide and the rapids and whirlpools were quite violent. Our tour guide told us the rapids were class 5 and 6 which are big rapids.
We ended our tour where we started back in Rockwood Park. The weather was nice enough to eat out and we had a taste for mussels, at least Norm, Linda and I did as Diane doesn't do clams or mussels, so we drove to the old city market and picked up about 4 1/2 pounds of mussels and some other items. Linda had a big pot to cook them in, so we got stuff together and went down to their rig for a delicious meal of mussels. I know that Norm, Linda, and I will miss the mussels.
Thursday, September 4 - Today was predicted to be a rainy day, and it was. With no movies in town that we wanted to see, we looked for something else to do. One thing on our list was to go to the Reversing Falls Interpretive Center to see the movie about the falls. We did that and it was pretty interesting to learn about what causes the action in the gorge. A couple of other sites on our list were a couple of churches and the county courthouse.
The draw for for the courthouse was the free-standing spiral staircase, the only one of its kind that was built of stone in the 19th Century in Canada. The stone staircase spirals up three stories without a central support. Each section was cut of one solid block of stone and interlocked in such a manner as to require no central support. Our tour guide had told us yesterday that the government wouldn't pay for the work because it was unsafe. The legend was that the architect got 49 men from the local jail and put one man on each step and told them to jump up and down for about an hour to test the strength of the staircase. When it didn't collapse, the government paid the bill and the staircase was put into use.
Friday, September 5 - Now we were down to the final two days of our Maritimes journey and we were all wishing summer would last longer. With the rain cleared out, we broke down the rigs and drove about an hour to St. Andrews as we heard it was a nice little town on the coast. We decided to stay at the Ocean View Campground overlooking Passamaquoddy Bay. There weren't many RVs in the campground and we were able to get two sites facing the bay. It was definitely a great way to spend our final two days in Canada. We set up the rigs and then walked the mile back into town to walk both sides of the main street and look at the shops. It was a great walking town. Diane found a shop that sold loose tea. She is a big tea drinker, so she bought some for herself. We checked out some restaurants along the way and decided we would come back to the Gables Restaurant for some mussels. They were, of course, delicious. Another great way to end the day.
Saturday, September 6 - It promised to be a very nice day, so we figured we would try to find a fish market and grill out one more time in Canada. There were towns in the area that we wanted to visit, St. Stephen and St. George, so we set out to visit them and look for a market along the way. We started with St. Stephen and stopped in the Visitor Center to get some information before walking along the main street. The town is located along the St. Croix River and across from Calais, Maine, which was where we would cross back into the USA tomorrow. We didn't find a fish market, but there was an Atlantic Super Store in St. Stephen, so we stopped there to get some mussels (6 pounds) and a salmon steak to go along with the scallops that we had from a previous stop.
St. George was to the east of St. Andrews and wouldn't you know that the first thing we saw was a fish market that was open. We found the Visitor Center and got some information about the lower and upper gorges in town. We drove to those locations for some photo ops and then headed home for dinner. Diane skewered the scallops with some peppers and onions while Linda and Norm cooked the six pounds of mussels. Diane had some shrimp cocktail as an appetizer while Norm, Linda, and I devoured the mussels. Then we grilled the salmon and scallops and feasted to celebrate the final evening of our journey. We won't be parting company yet as we will travel another week together as far as the Hudson Valley in New York.
When we got back to the campground, we spotted a very unique looking RV that had come in.
Sunday, September 7 - Well, it was time to cross back into the USA. The border was only about 18 miles away and there was only a very short wait. It was hassle free, although they did take the stew beef Diane had bought as there was a ban on bringing any beef into the USA from Canada. Sometimes I think the people with the power go a bit overboard. It was ridiculous to take the package of stew beef. But they have the power, so we gave the guy the frozen meat and entered the USA as we headed to Acadia National Park.
That brings us to the end of a great nine-week journey through the Maritime Provinces. The time seems to have flown by and has provided us with lots of memories for our minds' scrapbooks. I have been keeping some notes to put together a summary and highlights travelog and will put that up as soon as it's finished. I hope you have enjoyed traveling with us on this journey through the Maritimes and maybe it will be a source of information for anyone planning such a trip to these great provinces. There is so much more to see than what we were able to see in the nine weeks. We plan to return again to see more.
Until next time, safe travels.....
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