ACROSS THE STRAIT OF BELLE ISLE

This entry is part 6 of 16 in the seriesThe Canadian Atlantic Provinces

By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers

Labrador (LB) and Newfoundland (NF) merged into one province in the 1980s, primarily to

The Point d'Amour Lighthouse, overlooking L'anse aux Morts, where many ships went aground

The Point d’Amour Lighthouse, overlooking L’anse aux Morts, where many ships went aground

save money since it doesn’t seem to be a complicated area to govern.  Looking at Labrador on a map, it looks like an eastern appendage of Quebec Province.  It shares the Canadian mainland with Quebec, as opposed to having to take a 2-hour ferry ride across the Strait of Belle Isle or hop a plane to reach it from Newfoundland.  Culturally, however, NF and LB are very similar (pardon my use of abbreviations; those are long names to repeat).  I found it interesting that the ferry landed in Quebec, but a few minute after boarding our Prevost bus, we were in Labrador.

We toured LB on a day that started out dreary, turned rainy and climaxed with sunshine as we

Just to give you an appreciation of the size of the ferry, this is a Kenworth 18-wheeler exiting,

Just to give you an appreciation of the size of the ferry, this is a Kenworth 18-wheeler exiting,

climbed the stairs to the ferry’s seating level for the voyage back to NF.  Labrador is a province with a dwindling population, as the younger generation tends not to return to live after going away to college.

Fishing is still the leading employer as it has been for 500 years.  The wealth of the area is from minerals and natural resources, and from those industries the province fares well.  Many local men travel to the oil patch of Alberta Province to earn enough money to get them through the year back home.

Two interesting comments from Frank, our tour guide.  Years ago the only bank in the lower coastal area was taken over by the Bank of Montreal, which later shut it down.  The locals came together and opened their own credit union, which is flourishing.  A true example of their pioneering spirit.

Frank also explained that the government built the roads in the 1960s “and hadn’t been back since.”  In other words, the blacktops could use some repair.

The cove-hugging town of L'Anse-au-Loup

The cove-hugging town of L’Anse-au-Loup

 This visit was a bucket list item for me.  Its remoteness has stimulated my imagination; yet, I found out that it’s not a lot different from other small-town rural areas, although the coastline with its numerous coves, outlined in clear blue-green water, and villages of mostly white rectangular houses is picturesque.

LOST & FOUND IN LABRADOR — As mentioned in an earlier blog, the Newfoundland and

Found at the bottom of the inlet was this 400-year-old Norse chalupa

Found at the bottom of the inlet was this 400-year-old Norse chalupa

Labrador residents say “everyting.”  After spending several hours in the company of our Labradorean tour guide, I now realize that the sound of the letter “H” is an elusive thing.  Frank misplaced the “h” in “tunder” and “tirty,” as in “We haven’t had a tunderstorm in tirty days.”  Good news!  I found those “h”s in the month of H’ugust, the Mighty H’eagle River and H’animals that roam the province.

Our impressions of LB were formed after seeing it primarily from a bus window for a few miles we traveled along the coast.  Inland are the big cities of Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Labrador City, which, from the sounds of it, are towns rather than metropolitan.  To reach them would have taken two days on narrow roads, with probably not a lot to learn.

The idea of touring in a 70-passenger bus is, no doubt, a turn-off for most RVers, as it is for Iceberg - 3531us.  It does have advantages, though including being able to see the countryside without having to concentrate on the bumps in the road ahead and, of course, the fact that you’re not paying more than $5.00 a gallon to see similar scenes for mile after mile.  We learn as we go along, stopping at the significant and interesting spots like lighthouses, museum and nature centers, as time allows.

If you’re looking for new experiences, Labrador is probably not the place you need to visit.  I sense that the best reason to go there is to get a feel for the laid-back attitudes of the people there.  No rush, no conflict, no real excitement that I could discern.  It’s more of a step into a slow-down culture that deserves more than a few hours to absorb.

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved.

ACTIVE AND PASSIVE SIDES OF NEWFOUNDLAND

This entry is part 5 of 16 in the seriesThe Canadian Atlantic Provinces

By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers

The stone lighthouse bathed in a misty cloud was worth the climb

The stone lighthouse bathed in a misty cloud was worth the climb

We were “C.F.A.”s — now we are “Newfies.”  We are in Newfoundland [pronounced New’finLAND], which, along with its sister Labrador, is one of the places I was most interested in visiting on this six-month journey.

Okay, before getting to the topics of this blog, I’ll explain that a “C.F.A.” means to Newfoundlanders that we “Come From Away,” local jargon for tourist.    We qualify as “Newfies” because we have been “screeched-in,” meaning that we participated in and survived a ceremony that tested our mettle in this rugged area in the North Atlantic.

OUR ACTIVE ENDEAVORS

We continue our travels through the Maritime Provinces of Canada, staying busy with

Like Moby Dick, the giant white ferry swallowed up dozens of RVs, cars and trucks

Like Moby Dick, the giant white ferry swallowed up dozens of RVs, cars and trucks

exploration, discovery, history and culture, thanks to the itinerary of our Fantasy RV Tours caravan.  Two days ago we boarded a monster ferry boat for a 5½-hour passage across the Gulf of Cabot from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland.  After passing a lighthouse perched on a jetty, for the remainder of the trip we were enveloped in fog.  That may sound like a downer, but the ferry is practically luxurious, with very comfortable seats and features like TVs, Internet, a café, a restaurant, a gift shop and more.

Can you imagine a giant parking garage on the high seas?  Our 50-foot-long truck-trailer rig was swallowed up in the immense parking area on Level 3, along with cars, motorhomes and commercial 18-wheelers.

It was pitch dark when we disembarked at Port Aux Basques.  We followed instructions for about 25 miles to our campground, where we were greeted by owner Dennis Keepings, who instructed us how to reach our designated campsite.

A very few hours later, we were up again boarding a bus for a tour of the southwestern part of the immense island of Newfoundland.  An astounding fact:  the province (without Labrador) is larger than Japan.  And another one:  There are 1,000 communities in the province, some of which consist of just a few houses in the wilds.

The tour took us many miles along isolated two-lane roads.  Predominant scenery was the dark blue and green-blue ocean on one side, with very green rolling hills on the other, and stunning glistening ponds of all sizes and shapes in between.  Presenting our lesson in Newfie culture on the tour bus was Alice, wife of Dennis, a multi-talented hostess and six-generation (at least) local.

After the tour, the fun began!  Alice and Dennis teamed up to conduct the Screech-In.  Rather than regale you with the details, I’ll save that for your visit.  What I will say is that it was a hoot!  Even the most complacent in our group were roaring with laughter and enjoying the passage from C.F.A. to Newfie.

Part of the rigorous induction ceremony at the solemn Screen In involved exertion and careful stepping.

Part of the rigorous induction ceremony at the solemn Screen In involved exertion and careful stepping.

Yesterday we discovered another North American time zone.  In addition to the four in continental U.S., and another in Alaska, we went through Atlantic time and have now set our clocks/watches ahead another half-hour for Newfoundland time.  Yes, there is a Newfoundland Time Zone, so when it’s 8:30 here, it’s 7:00 in New York.  No one seems to know why.

POUTINE … IT RHYMES WITH CUISINE

Tonight’s dinner for caravan members was moose stew.  It tasted exactly like beef stew.  But not “everyting” (that’s how they talk up here) … not everyting to eat is what you’re used to.

We haven’t tried “poutine,” nor are we eager to.  Poutine is an indigenous concoction of the Maritimes that starts with French fries covered with melted curds (or cottage cheese).  Over that is poured gravy, and then other things are added to individualize it.  I found out that poutine probably is derived from the Middle English “pudding,” to which it has no resemblance.

Dulse.  UGH!  This is not only an acquired taste, but even handling the smell is a challenge.  Dulse is seaweed, specially prepared as a snack.  It is even used in tea, but it’s certainly not my cup of …  and we have yet to see a “fiddlehead,” but it has been described to me as a sort of asparagus with a top that is in the shape of a fiddle.

I’ve mentioned lobster rolls in an earlier blog, found throughout Coastal New England, which is primarily lobster with a bit of mayo on a bun. Today we had our first “McLobster Roll” under the Golden Arches, “From the waters of Atlantic Canada, succulent lobster meat combined with celery, green onions, and light mayonnaise-style sauce with a hint of lemon, on top of a bed of shredded lettuce.”  We like Monique’s version better.

PASSIVE NEWFOUNDLAND

Ponds and hills form the beautiful serene countryside of Newfoundland

Ponds and hills form the beautiful serene countryside of Newfoundland

We walk through museums (several on this trip), viewing paintings and sculptures contemplating what the more interesting ones mean to us.  Sometimes the name of the work indicates the artist’s intention, but not always, and often it’s something like “Woman in Thought.”  No help.

Caravan travel like ours includes tours of cities and rural areas, where we get to visit places of local importance or beauty.  We could do that on our own, of course, and it would provide a conceptual memory for us, but like having explanations with artwork, we find greater value in knowing what’s around us through facts and yarns.  In most cases, we would not have embarked on multiple tours on our own; yet, when the group boards a tour bus to sightsee, we almost always learn a lot from the guide’s narration.

Traveling the winding roads through Southwestern Newfoundland, we had a sampling of what the area is all about.  We walked up to a stone lighthouse; saw a countryside that is beautiful and fascinating.  We constantly passed small dark blue freshwater lakes and ponds with a backdrop of hillsides and even mountains with patches of snow still evident in mid-July.  A few waterfalls, a few rushing brooks.

Alice, our guide, assured us that the people are the friendliest here, always willing to help their brethren.  I saw five fishermen sitting atop tables along a dock and ventured forward to chat with them.  After my initial introduction of “Hi, I’m a tourist” (which causes Monique to cringe), I was surprised to find them very congenial, answering my questions and asking about me.  Alice was proven right.

DOZENS OF OPPORTUNITIES

One point I want to emphasize is that although we are with a group following schedules made up far in advance, we still get to venture out on our own, such as today’s side trip to see The Arches, a dramatic rock formation at the seashore.  There aren’t that many towns along the way, but we are able to stop as we please, shop as we please, or just move on to the evening’s destination.

Quietly enjoying the grassy hillside along the Gulf of Cabot was a lone caribou.

Quietly enjoying the grassy hillside along the Gulf of Cabot was a lone caribou.

We continue to develop friendships with our fellow travelers, still having to overcome not remembering all the names, but we seem to know who is interested in what and even most of the dogs by their masters.  We enjoy the companionship, while still taking advantage of chances to often be on our own.

A final note.  I really enjoyed reading the book “Shipping News” (made into a movie) about a family that moved to Newfoundland.  According to Alice, it could have been set anywhere in the province, but probably was totally made up.  A disappointment, but at least we got to see Jesse Stone’s bridge in Nova Scotia.

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

NOTE: As we prepare to board a ferry to Labrador, I have had a few minutes to prepare this article AND Internet connection.  At each stop, we grapple with the question of whether we will have WiFi and cellphone service.  In at least half, we’ve had both.

COMMENTS to previous blogs:

[Excepted] FROM MARY HANSEN — “As of today, Saturday, we have been to New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland-Labrador, with Prince Edwards Island scheduled for two weeks from now.

And thanks to CHARLIE WEBBER for his advice to travelers:  “We also work at the Halifax West KOA and know that their reservations for the summer are going heavy at present, so that might be an indicator for other campgrounds in that part of Nova Scotia. Having in mind your planned travel to the Canadian Maritimes you might want to consider reservations.”

GETTING TO THE BOTTOM OF THIS

This entry is part 2 of 16 in the seriesThe Canadian Atlantic Provinces

By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers

We’ve seen a lot in the past few days — taken a boat ride, toured two towns, passed by covered bridges and lighthouses … hard to keep track of all that’s happening so fast.  BUT, today was a highlight.

Members of our caravan continguent descended onto the seabed of the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick

Members of our caravan continguent descended onto the seabed of the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick

Saturday morning’s dreary skies with intermittent rain let up long enough for us – our caravan buddies and us – to walk down the steps onto the bottom of the Bay of Fundy.  In case you’ve forgotten from your school days, this bay features the greatest tidal change in the world – up to 52 feet, or 46 where we are now in Hopewell Cove, New Brunswick.

Able-bodied seawomen Stephanie, Monique and Renie prepare to cast off

Able-bodied seawomen Stephanie, Monique and Renie prepare to cast off

As I rode in a powerboat into the tidal change during our stopover here, I was impressed with the whitewater surge sweeping under and around our boat, with eddies spinning us a bit.  Impressed, but not excited.  Today, however, having walked the seabed along the shoreline cliffs and unconnected monoliths of the bay I appreciated the opportunity of doing something new and different.

The unique funnel-shaped bay

A Harbor Seal fights against the 40 mph tidal flow with a large fish in his mouth.

A Harbor Seal fights against the 40 mph tidal flow with a large fish in his mouth.

receives and exhales 100 billion tons of water each day during its two tidal changes.  From its rocky beach-like bottom, it fills up to 45 feet in six-plus hours and then is back to being low and dry … well, not really dry, more like rock and muck with patches of thick seaweed … for about six more hours.  The change and timing are attributable to the phases of the moon.

After having “feet-on experience” (while wearing watershoes), we watched time-lapse films of the transition on UTube.  Interesting, but not at all the same as being here.  And, incidentally, I was amused when our park interpreter showed us similar films on her IPad while standing alongside the bay.  I’m still amazed by the progress of our technological age.

The Rock Bear stands firm as the Bay of Fundy tide rolls in from zero, at lft, to 42 feet.  The monolith in the middle is one of Hopewell Rocks famous "Flowerpots.."

The Rock Bear stands firm as the Bay of Fundy tide rolls in from zero, at left, to 42 feet. The monolith in the middle is one of Hopewell Rocks famous “Flowerpots..”

Monique continues to buy live lobsters for under $6 a pound, which was our entrée at last

Monique realized that this 16-pounder not only wouldn't fit into our pot, it might not make it through the door of our trailer.

Monique realized that this 16-pounder not only wouldn’t fit into our pot, it might not make it through the door of our trailer.

night’s dinner and today’s lunch, and she continues to be on the lookout for any of the 12 species of whales said to visit the area.

We’ve had rain and more rain, but luckily mainly at night.  We boarded the boat to skim over to the reversing falls at St. John, New Brunswick, arriving at the dock just as about a dozen of our fellow caravan members got off having endured the previous outing.  They were soaked.  They had left the dock before dampness turned into a constant rain.  Our tour crew left clad in yellow raingear provided by the boat operators.  We did get wet but not soaked.

More tech talk.  Most of the trip I’ve had cellphone service available, and every campground – all private parks thus far — have had at least some degree of WiFi.  I heard from our neighbors who know about such things that they are able to get satellite TV reception.  The curvature of the earth presented a problem for many of us in the Yukon and Alaska.

History in these Maritime Province towns interweaves with U.S. history, especially in the American Revolutionary days and the War of 1812, which makes it more relevant to us.  Our tour thus far has only gotten to New Brunswick, which, for all of us who are fuzzy on our Northeastern geography, is just north of Maine.  [A subsequent comment taught me that New Brunswick is east of Maine]

It's difficult to leave City Market in St. on, NB, without at least one purchase.

It’s difficult to leave City Market in St. on, NB, without at least one purchase.

It’s Canadian, for sure, as easily seen on the metric road signs and strange money, but I bet it’ll get more “foreign” as we move northward, which happens Sunday, when we enter Nova Scotia.

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

The harbor at Alma is a sad sight .. until the tide rolls in and all boats are ready to put to sea again.

The harbor at Alma is a sad sight .. until the tide rolls in and all boats are ready to put to sea again.

COMMENT FROM PREVIOUS BLOG

Sent by Jim (with excellent photos)  I read your RV.Net blog “Confessions of Contented Tourists”.  We just came back from an RV trip to Maine concentrating on a visit to the Acadia Birding Festival, a tour of the National Park and a tour of the northeast Maine coastal towns.  One thing that the birding festival caused us to do is take a boat tour to see the islands off the coast of Mount Desert Island.

Besides seeing many sea birds (including Puffins!) this trip allowed us to see the park and area from the water.

This boat trip was excellent, and I would recommend that people visiting the area consider taking one. There are several companies that run similar trips out of Bar Harbor as well as several other harbors on the island.

When we visited the National Park we bought the CD-based audio tour and used it for our driving and walking tour of the Park. I think that this provided a lot of the information and “local color” that your tour bus guide provided but allow us to tour at our own pace. My wife and I were very happy with this audio tour and would also recommend it.

It has been many years (decades?) since we visited Acadia National Park and we regret that we did not return sooner.  The coastal towns in the area are also very scenic and worth visiting but we toured in our toad not the RV.

CONFESSIONS OF CONTENTED TOURISTS

This entry is part 1 of 16 in the seriesThe Canadian Atlantic Provinces

By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers

We are one of 22 RVs that met near Bar Harbor, Maine, and are now on Atlantic Time in New Brunswick, Canada.  Welcome to our caravan [don’t forget to set your clocks ahead one hour to Atlantic Daylight Time].

After our orientation social, the planned tour began in earnest with a bus expedition to one of America’s most renowned national parks – the only one on the East Coast – Acadia in Maine.  Acadia National Park is representative of the Maine coastal areas, heavily forested and featuring views of beautiful harbors.  While not a great deal different than what we saw along the Maine coast for the past few weeks,, we were taken by the ingenious road system.

What I personally most appreciated was the tour bus ride through the park with narrative by Heather, a very involved and cheerful local resident, who not only filled us in with tales of historic significance but included less-than-vital information that made the two-hour outing entertaining.

For those of you who may say, “Bah, I’d rather do it on my own,” I’d like to share one of “the Never-Bored RVers” recommendations.  Take tours!

HOP ON THE BUS, GUS

View from atop Cadillac Mountain

View from atop Cadillac Mountain

In almost every metropolitan area we visit we look for a bus tour.  We’ve done dozens and only found one that wasn’t worth the cost – and that was because we chose a small company with a small van that restricted our viewing.  The information recited by guides on these excursions is usually fascinating, peppered with behind-the-scenes yarns and legends that increase our appreciation for the town.

For instance, I wasn’t expecting much in Chicago, but the boat trip on the Chicago River led by a member of the American Institute of Architects was memorable.  In Washington, D.C., we took the “D.C. after Dark” tour.  In New Orleans, we visited many of the innumerable landmarks getting filled in on the Crescent City’s rich history (my hometown, and I still learned).  Acadia came more alive when we boarded the tour bus.

What we remember from these tours six months down the road may be very little, but we leave having a good overview of each place, its character and virtues.

Acadia National Park:  the only national park formed from parcels donated by private landowners (including the Rockefellers, the Macys, the Astors and many more, whose names we have already forgotten); the longest stone bridge in America; 50 miles of carriage trails restricted to non-motorized uses; originally Lafayette National Park; a view of five “porcupine islands” just off the coast of Mt. Desert Island; and the highest peak, Cadillac Mountain, which is named for the same man who created the family crest that is emblazoned on the cars named after him – lots of information that enriched our visit there.

Speaking of ANP, it’s located on Mt. Desert Island, pronounced by locals as “Mt. Dessert,” which is closer to the original French, and named that because the hill tops are bald … or deserted … a result of scouring by glaciers and the fact that soil doesn’t stay on granite peaks.

Acadia is adjacent to Bar Harbor, where many visitors walk the land bridge to Bar Island across from Bar Harbor, but only at low tide.  Miss the tide change and you’re on the island for 12 hours until the next low tide.

IN THE PROVINCES

A perfect spot for a bit of rest -- in a Kingsbrae Garden art piece

A perfect spot for a bit of rest — in a Kingsbrae Garden art piece

Here’s an interesting tidbit learned on today’s tour of St. Andrews by the Sea.  The New Brunswick Province saw its population grow dramatically when Massachusetts’ residents loyal to the British king left the newly independent America.   Our tour today included a stop at the local courthouse, where portraits of King George and his family grace a wall opposite that of a huge portrait of Queen Victoria.  Queen Elizabeth’s continence hangs above the judge’s bench, a symbol of her ultimate authority.

Our group began the day with a bus tour of the picturesque small town with plentiful history before having lunch at Kingsbrae Gardens.  We followed that up by walking through the 27-acre grounds featuring clever sculptures and more than 2,500 varieties of trees, scrubs and plants set in a landscape of resplendent colorful arrays.

Built before 1810, this is one of the historic homes along Water Street in St. Andrews by the Sea.

Built before 1810, this is one of the historic homes along Water Street in St. Andrews by the Sea.

While most of our group returned to the oceanside campground to spend the afternoon as they wished, Monique and I chose to take an additional hour exploring the gardens before walking about five blocks into the downtown area to tap an ATM for Canadian dollars and to experience the local hospitality.  We were not disappointed.

One often-asked question is about crossing the border.  We were questioned at the Canadian Customs Station for less than two minutes and sent on our way.  As far as I know, none of our 21 fellow travellers had their rigs searched.  I wrote about Canadian currency on our 2010 trip through western Canada on our way to Alaska.  I’ll probably touch on that topic and metric speed limits again as we continue on our 48-day journey through the Canadian Maritime (or Atlantic) provinces with Fantasy RV Tours.

Kingsbrae Gardens was at its best for our visit

Kingsbrae Gardens was at its best for our visit

Tuesday had been one of bright sun with oppressive heat.  We returned to our trailer just as monstrous gray clouds that followed us from town erupted in bolts of lightening with rolling thunder.

We’re definitely the “Never-Bored RVers.” Wednesday is a travel day.  We’ll see you on down the road.

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

 

 

 

JUST BEING NEIGHBORLY

This entry is part 3 of 16 in the seriesThe Canadian Atlantic Provinces

By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers

My new sou'wester hat has been a blessing on rainy days.

My new sou’wester hat has been a blessing on rainy days.

Thanks to the incessant rainfall, we are blessed with beautiful wildflowers and formal gardens, all with

Rain enhances the Gold Medal Roses in the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens

Rain enhances the Gold Medal Roses in the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens

lush verdant forests as a backdrop.  As travelers with an RV caravan, we are given the opportunity to see numerous sights of historic significance and able to immerse ourselves in the local diverse culture and beauty.  The key word here is opportunity, since everything is optional.  For instance we had two worthwhile stops yesterday.  The first was Grand-Pre - 1880at Grand-Pré, the Acadian Cultural Center.   We both relate to what we saw there; Monique, because she was born in LaRochelle, France, the town from which French tenet farmers departed to seek prosperity in the New World; and I, because I am a New Orleans native and always enjoy knowing more about the Cajun lifestyle and history.  The French came to Nova Scotia, and later departed, sailing south to the East Coast of the U.S. and then to what is now “Cajun Country” in Louisiana.

The simple lifestyle of the Acadians is evident from a reconstructed house in the Annapolis Royal Gardens

The simple lifestyle of the Acadians is evident from a reconstructed house in the Annapolis Royal Gardens

The second stop was just 500 feet from our oceanside campground.  While many of our group took off in various directions to see area attractions, we went a few feet to the Parker Cove Harbor. After buying six lobsters for $45, which Monique cooked South Louisiana-style (we have four left for additional feasts), we went back at high tide to see the fishing boats that had risen on the tide from the harbor’s mud bottom back to dock

The incoming tide brings with it fog, but also means lobster boats can return to the harbor.

The incoming tide brings with it fog, but also means lobster boats can return to the harbor.

height.  We walked around waiting for the last lobster boat to take advantage of high tide to return to port.  And we watched while they unloaded 700 pounds of their catch into a waiting refrigerated truck.

Between squalls, the caravan’s agenda for today took us to a fort, first built by Scots and then rebuilt five times over generations by the French.  Again, a lot of history we found interesting.  Then lunch at a German restaurant-bakery, followed by a chance to walk under umbrellas and in ponchos through another sculptured garden.

That was in the town of Annapolis Royal, an interesting name, which we learned means roughly “[Queen] Ann’s Town.”  Tomorrow is another travel day in Nova Scotia (Latin for New Scotland).

MORE BACKGROUND ON CANADA

Writing as a citizen of “the States,” Canada is our neighbor, welcoming just about every American with few exceptions.  But for many of us, the allegiance of Canada is a bit confusing.  We folks in the 48 contiguous states think of Canada as an independent nation, but on lots of 20-dollar bills (although not all) is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth staring out at us, and her continence graces the wall above the judge’s bench in St. Andrews, our second stop on this tour.  Yea, verily, the queen is the head of state, making it a constitutional monarchy, and at the same time the nation’s government is a parliamentary democracy headed by the prime minister, who represents the majority party in Parliament.  Got that?  No wonder it’s a bit confusing to us Americans.

In the U.S., we speak American, as opposed to British or English.  English is the official language in all but one providence, with Quebec being the exception, where French is language du jour.  Then there’s New Brunswick, where both English and French are official languages.

Just to make it more interesting, provincial signs are in English, except for those along national highways and at national attractions, which are in both languages.

We are enjoying official road signs, like @, which we assume means Internet available.  For several miles we passed blue signs with lighthouses on them and were amazed there were so many.  We soon found out they only meant we were on the Coastal Highway.  We’ve now passed other signs with sea stars (formerly called starfish) and sunsets.

A peaceful scene at Grand-Pre

A peaceful scene at Grand-Pre

Our XM/Sirius radio reception is getting more intermittent by the day, and I hear that some members of our group are losing TV reception.  Depends on the satellite placement.  This trip is a wonderful learning experience, never a chance to get bored.  From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

MORE PHOTOS FROM OUR RECENT TRAVELS

A bronzed scene of an Acadian family at Grand-Pre

A bronzed scene of an Acadian family at Grand-Pre

The statue of Evangeline in foreground from the poem by Longfellow

The statue of Evangeline in foreground from the poem by Longfellow

The colonial kitchen, as recreated at Port Royal Habitation

The colonial kitchen, as recreated at Port Royal Habitation

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

COMMENTS TO RECENT BLOGS

From Charlie, Kamp working outside Halifax —Barry & Monique, welcome to the Maritimes. Caravan may not get to Burntcoat Head, NS, the site of the highest recorded tides in the world. It is deeper into the Bay of Fundy along the Minas Basin and thus less space for all that water to go. We find it more interesting to visit than Hopewell Rocks notwithstanding the ‘Flower Pots’. Timing with low tide is also critical when visiting this NS site.

When you get to Nova Scotia, it will not be any more foreign than what you encounter in New Brunswick, so you should be able to relax and enjoy your surroundings much as if you are travelling in the continental US.  Hopefully the weather will improve for your travels here.

Members of the group stroll through history at Port-Royal

Members of the group stroll through history at Port-Royal

 

GETTING TO KNOW THE LOCALS

This entry is part 4 of 16 in the seriesThe Canadian Atlantic Provinces

By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers

 

The famous lighthouse at Peggy's Cove, sitting atop "erratic" rock formations

The famous lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove, sitting atop “erratic” rock formations

I’m not much for giving you statistics, but here are two about the “Never-Boreds::  1) we have gone more than 10,000 miles since beginning this trip in California on March 19, and

Monique's photo in Lunenburg

Monique’s photo in Lunenburg

2) we have stopped for at least one night in 450 places since 2006 – ranging from National Parks and private campgrounds to Walmarts and friends’ driveways.

Now for some additional Canadian phenomena. We use diesel in our truck, so I rarely pay much attention to the gas prices, but my recent research indicates that diesel is running 1 cent less per liter than gasoline.  What does that mean to 10-gallon-hat wearing Americans?  3.8 liters equals a gallon, so it means if you buy 3.8 liters of gas or diesel at $1.285 per liter, you’re paying about $4.88 per gallon.  But what the heck, it’s beautiful up here in Nova Scotia.  Oh, incidentally, the Canadian and U.S. dollars are about the same right now.

When Monique’s brother from France traveled with us in the American West, he noted how many places flew the Stars & Stripes … “You don’t see that many flags in France,” he told us.  In these Atlantic provinces of Canada, I think we see more red maple leaf flags and symbols fluttering in the breeze than stars and bars in America.  HOWEVER, go to New Orleans and you’ll see Saints emblems everywhere; in Beantown, it’s “Boston Strong”; in Big D, it’s that dark blue star of the Cowboys; and in small towns, it’s the local Mustangs or Bulldogs.  Since entering Canada two weeks ago, I can’t recall any team flags or banners flying.

And now Monique’s favorite. Thanks to the mighty glaciers of the Ice Age, Nova Scotia is a land of coves, beautiful inlets surrounded by spruce, fir, maple and alder trees and colorful little houses with piers stretching into the water. Boats, too, are colorful, with glistening reds, blues and greens.  In every cove and every harbor are sailboats and fishing boats, plus a few pleasure craft and speed hulls.  And most scenic of all are the small islands in the water.  Some are wooded or at least bushy; others are rocks piled high with seagulls atop scanning the waves for the day’s lunch.

Before moving on to the travelogue part of today’s article, I have to mention the enjoyment we have gotten from chatting with … more often listening to … the locals.  These folks have opinions, which they are more than willing to share with us once we’ve become very close friends, a process that seems to take about two minutes.  Without dwelling on their diatribes, I’ll just mention that I can usually bond with the locals by just suggesting that because we are paying 13 percent sales tax to support their government, that entitles us to complain about road bumps.  It’s like saying among a bunch of RVers, “You’ll never guess what our GPS did to us today!”  Immediately the stories roll off the tongue.

Now that I’ve gotten all that off my chest, let’s talk about the coastal towns we’ve visited in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

We spent one day at the village of Peggy’s Cove, which consists of a lighthouse towering above huge white rocks, a restaurant, several houses and shanties, and a memorial to Swissair 111 that crashed off the shore in 1998, all framed by massive boulders.  Most of all, it is a cove with a spectacular view – made even better by the first sunny weather we’ve seen in a week.  One day at our bayside campground was not enough, but the caravan moved on to Halifax Saturday morning.

Soon after we pulled into our RV site, we realized another rig would back up behind us in the long pull-through.  First thing I said to Chet when he descended from his Southwind

At left, the view of Peggy's Cove from our rear window; at right, the view of Chet's pictures.

At left, the view of Peggy’s Cove from our rear window; at right, the view of Chet’s pictures.

was “We were hoping for a rig with a painting of Peggy’s Cove on the back.  We left for a few minutes and when we returned, what we saw through our rear window was six of his photos from Peggy’s Cove.  Very cool!

Ah, fond memories.  Prior to Peggy’s Cove, we spent three days in Lunenburg, a neat little seaside town, famous as the home of the “Bluenose,” which was the most famous racing fishing boat, whose glorious deeds we learned about at the local fisheries museum.  Then we wandered down the street to the wharf where the Bluenose II is being built.  I suggest that if you don’t have Lunenburg on your list of “must see” places, you take a few minutes to look up the Bluenose online.  Not the same as being there, but you can’t see everything.

The serenity of Blue Rocks

The serenity of Blue Rocks

Blue Rocks near Lunenburg was a highlight.  We looked forward to seeing rocks that were blue, which they are if your have a strong imagination, but the boulders and outcroppings weren’t the feature that made it memorable.  It’s an area of peacefulness where water lapped gently up against the rocks during our exploration.  The cottages are colorful and interesting.  The people we spoke with very welcoming to visitors.

Our knowledge of the history and culture of the area continues to expand.  When people ask if I’ve gotten any good photos, my response is often, “How can you miss around here?”

Sunset at Peggy's Cove. Note the lighthouse at right.

Sunset at Peggy’s Cove. Note the lighthouse at right.

While at Peggy’s Cove, 90-year-old Kay Richardson, our hostess at the campground, told us of the heroic efforts of the fishermen and Coast Guard after the crash of Swissair 111.  She then invited us into her house so she could to get to know “her guests” better.  There, we saw paintings by some of her often-returning campers that depicted scenes along shorelines surrounding the campground in a special quiet beauty.

The colorful view at Lunenburg harbor

The colorful view at Lunenburg harbor

A few days earlier, Monique and I turned into “Ketchy” National Park [that’s my pronunciation of “Kejimkuji’jk”] – and what an unexpected stopover that turned out to be.  After walking through the visitors center, we wandered out the back door toward a bridge and a woodland trail.   The trail, only one kilometer long (about two-thirds of a mile), took us to Mills Falls.  There we were awed by the torrents of whitewater cascading over and around boulders in a wilderness setting.  It was another highlight that we couldn’t convey adequately to our fellow travelers, who had sped by the park entrance without realizing what lay beyond its guardhouse.

What we’ve seen of the Canadian Atlantic Provinces in the past three weeks since the start of the caravan is not what I would call exciting in an active sense.  Yet, in the passive sense of seeing scenery of constant beauty, it’s been a worthy adventure.

And finally, reader David Violette trued my compass when he noted that New Brunswick is

Getting a view from the bridge used in the Jesse Stone TV series are Mary and John Rohde. (The bridge is on public land, but the island is private property.)

Getting a view from the bridge used in the Jesse Stone TV series are Mary and John Rohde. (The bridge is on public land, but the island is private property.)

east of Maine, not north.  And I found it totally confusing when the direction indicator in our truck said we were going southeast from New Brunswick to Nova Scotia … and yet, it’s true.  Quite a revelation to someone who has always thought of Canada as our northern neighbor.

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” Well see you on down the road.

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved