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

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.”