MY FAVORITE PLACES – A REVIEW – PART 3

This entry is part 15 of 16 in the seriesThe Canadian Atlantic Provinces

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

Our seven-week tour of the Atlantic Provinces of Canada included so much, such variety and so many memories that, if I told you about each and every place, each would lose its significance.  Therefore, I’m going to give you a brief synopsis of a few places that, in my opinion, you won’t want to miss while you’re there.  I’m sure all of these I’ve written about in past episodes, but I’m looking back in retrospect at the ones that stand out the most in my memory.

At the sea, at the sea, at the bottom of the sea -- The Bay of Fundy provides a low-tide spectacle

At the sea, at the sea, at the bottom of the sea — The Bay of Fundy provides a low-tide spectacle

FLOWERPOTS – We were able to see many views of the world-famous Bay of Fundy – this was the “fundiest.” Located at Hopewell Cape, New Brunswick, the Hopewell Rocks, also known at “the flowerpots,” are

interesting monolithic outcroppings visible in their entirety at low tide.  Six hours later when the water rises more than 40 feet they become tiny offshore islands.  The Bay of Fundy is probably the most famous attraction of the Maritimes, but there is so much more to experience.

THE TATTOO – I was expecting an evening watching a conglomeration of bodies

The Tattoo -- SPECTACULAR!

The Tattoo — SPECTACULAR!

marching around an arena.  Nothing more.  Those expectations fell far short of the spectacular show we witnessed.  Yes, the ranks-and-files did their thing, several times, and each time was a bit of a thrill with marchers wearing traditional uniforms.  There were enjoyable circus acts; vocal numbers by rich-voiced singers (both individually and in choirs); competition among military units; performing police groups, several thousand participants, lights, noises, music, and other sensory sensations to keep everyone entertained.  Officially named the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo held annually in a modern arena in Halifax, the 2014 edition will be July 1-8.  Better get your tickets early.

Dennis is definitely enjoying the fun. That's me at right, and I'm less joyful. I think the cod, center, is taking it all in stride.

Dennis is definitely enjoying the fun. That’s me at right, and I’m less joyful. I think the cod, center, is taking it all in stride.

SCREECHING IN — If you’re a C.F.A., you will become a Newfie when you kiss the cod at a Screech In.  Our caravan of 45 people whose backgrounds span the gamut from technology to farming, all sorts of folks with different assessments of what is fun – and yet, I doubt if any of them didn’t think the Screech In was A BLAST! Giving you the specifics of the ceremony would diminish the excitement, so I’ll just say that changing from a C.F.A. (we “Come From Away”) to a Newfie (Newfoundlander) is filed in our memory banks forever.

UGLY STICK CONCERTS — As we walked into the Prime Berth Fishing Museum, I glanced at the collection of broomsticks with tin cans on top and boots at the base.  An

I wasn't prepared to see Ugly Sticks at the center of the entertainment, so I shot this scene with my IPhone camera.

I wasn’t prepared to see Ugly Sticks at the center of the entertainment, so I shot this scene with my IPhone camera.

hour later when I saw the sheer joy in Monique’s eyes as she banged out an Ugly Stick percussion accompaniment to local Bill’s guitar-playing, I suggested that we buy one.  And when fellow-traveler Ron bought one, Monique proposed that they play a concert at that evening’s Fantasy Tours caravan barbeque and potluck. That was the start of something big and spontaneous.  We took turns thumping the Ugly Sticks, with even the most laid-back of the group movin’ his feet when forced to join the music-making.

After five more members of the troupe bought Ugly Sticks, the ensemble performed several times after that, including with a band that was playing at an RV park days later on Prince Edward Island, wishing that they had discovered this homiest of rhythm instruments earlier.  The band had never heard of Ugly Sticks, but I’m certain that by now it’s part of their selection of instruments.

Elizabeth LaFort's hook rug work is a delight.

Elizabeth LaFort’s hook rug work is a delight.

THE CABOT TRAIL – This two-lane road undulates as it plies its way on Cape Breton Island, on the northeastern part of Nova Scotia.  It goes on and on, embracing the coastline for mile after mile, and cuts across the interior.  We were aboard a tour bus, appreciative that our driver was contending with the steep grades and narrow highway.  We stopped at a shop in Cheticamp, where they make and sell masks.  It was much more interesting that we expected – Monique bought two to decorate for our Mardi Gras in California celebration.  The next stop was up the road at a museum featuring hook rugs and tapestries in the Elizabeth LeFort Gallery. Impressive!  Honestly, the ride was long and the scenery repetitive, but it’s worth devoting a few miles to the historic section of the island.

I NEEDED HER! — I’ve been an Anne Murray fan since the ‘80s.  Apparently she has

A few of Anne Murray's Platinum Records - Quite a collection

A few of Anne Murray’s Platinum Records – Quite a collection

other fans, too, based on the exhibition of her numerous platinum albums, as displayed in the Anne Murray Centre in Springhill, Nova Scotia.  I was absolutely amazed realizing the scope of her success, as shown by decades in the twisting galleries.

ANOTHER TIME IN ANOTHER PLACE — A Newfoundlandism of interest:  this province, which includes Labrador, is a half-hour ahead of Atlantic Time, which is an hour ahead of Eastern Time.  What I haven’t mentioned in this synopsis is the beauty, wildlife and history elements of what we experienced.  The Atlantic Provinces are much more than attractions, as I’ll try to convey in the next edition.

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

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

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