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

P.E.I. – A SMALL ISLAND; A LOT TO SAY – MARITIMES PART 2

This entry is part 14 of 16 in the seriesThe Canadian Atlantic Provinces

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

While a good percentage of inhabitants of the “Atlantic Provinces” [see Barbara and Tom Palmer’s Comment below] are closing up their businesses and preparing for the winter migration to the U.S. Sunbelt states, your excitement in visiting this easternmost Canadian turf next spring and summer can be building.  After 17,050 miles of driving, it may be a while before we return, and we have several other journeys in our plans, but the call to revisit the Atlantic provinces is certainly worth considering.

I’ll write more in the future about the specific places that were the most memorable in our seven weeks of caravanning to the “Maritimes Plus One.”  I think the best service I can provide in this blog is to mention briefly what were highlights for us – adventures that will stay with us for years to come, supplemented, of course, by photographs.

What stand out in our memory about P.E.I. - the pastoral scenery

What stand out in our memory about P.E.I. – the pastoral scenery

The last province on our RV expedition was P.E.I., or as it’s known to non-locals “Prince Edward Island.”   And, let me mention at this point that each of the four Atlantic Provinces has its own history, customs, and way of life.  The fishing villages are somewhat similar in many areas, although the fishing boats aren’t necessarily the same and they are out to haul in different catches – lobster, oysters, cod, salmon, haddock, probably others I don’t remember.  And fishing seasons, as set by the Canadian government, are a bit complicated for us outsiders and vary by provinces.  What I want to emphasize is that going to New Brunswick is not the same as going to P.E.I., nor is Labrador very similar to Nova Scotia.

P.E.I. settles on our minds as luxuriant greenery, pastures, farmland, rolling hills (most of the provinces also have grassy rolling hills).   But this, the smallest of the provinces, has a serenity we appreciated more than other places.  Our caravan schedule included much ado about “Anne of Green Gables,” one of the most popular books of teenage girls for over a century.   Monique read the book prior to arriving there and passed it along to others in the coterie, all of whom seemed to enjoy it.  Monique and I visited the “Green Gables” house that was the setting for the novel and attended a play loosely based on the book in the mini-metropolis capital city of Charlottetown.  Charlottetown is a beautiful, historic place, bedecked with voluptuous hanging flower baskets.

Can you believe, I intended to wrap up this series in this blog, but I haven’t even finished with P.E.I.?   I hadn’t mentioned playing golf on one of the greenest of courses, a few hours of enjoyment much greater than the normal frustration.  I felt it was a good day on the course since I only lost one ball and had 35 putts.

Not to be forgotten from our week on Prince Edward was meeting Brian MacNaughton at

Bruce & Shirley MacNaughton Welcome Diners at P.E.I. Preserves

Bruce & Shirley MacNaughton Welcome Diners at P.E.I. Preserves

the P.E.I. Preserves Co. near Cavendish.  Soon after our tour bus pulled into the parking area, a sprightly, kilt-clan MacNaughton hopped up the steps and quickly gave us his rollicking version of his winding course from when his first restaurant failed to when he began selling jars of preserves featuring Grand Marnier, Champagne and other unique ingredients to some of the classiest stores worldwide.

A few minutes later we were enjoying one of the best meals of our caravan trek in his P.E.I. Preserves restaurant.  After dinner we sampled preserves and other treats made in that same building, and finding things we didn’t know we needed to buy in the gift shop.  If you like mussels, this is the place!

After the caravan concluded and our new friends dispersed — some north to the Gaspe Peninsula, others to Quebec and beyond, and others to the U.S.  – we spent a few days on the northwestern part of the island mainly “chillin’” and reveling in the pastoral serenity of that off-the-beaten-trail area.  Starved after driving for hours one day, we stopped at Randy’s Pizza at a remote intersection on the French-speaking Acadian region (also called Region Evangeline) and ordered a plate of “donair” to go.  We didn’t know what it was, and we’re still not sure, but it’s something like a meat pie.  Yes, we would order it again, unlike our experience with poutine in Newfoundland, which didn’t excite our palates.

The Bottle House with the Lighthouse Overlooking Egmont Bay

The Bottle House with the Lighthouse Overlooking Egmont Bay

Most notable place to us on our freelance drive was “The Bottle Houses,” a cluster of three small cottages made with bottles encrusted in mortar and built on land that includes the Cape Egmont Lighthouse.  Adding to the spectacle are the colorful gardens interwoven among the buildings.  It’s worth driving the extra miles to the town of Cape Egmont to see the creative construction by Edouard Arsenault.

A FEW P.E.I. SCENES [FROM TOP]: In anticipation of the opening of the lobster season the next day, fishing boats were lined up and loaded with traps; we entered the Acadian area, also known as the Evangeline Region; the setting for the novel “Anne of Green Gables”; our travels were punctuated with opportunities to make music with Ugly Sticks (as demonstrated by Roger, Sarah and Jean); Donair, featured at Randy’s Pizza near nowhere; and the bridge from Nova Scotia to P.E.I. is the longest span over the Atlantic Ocean.

A FEW P.E.I. SCENES [FROM TOP]: In anticipation of the opening of the lobster season the next day, fishing boats were lined up and loaded with traps; we entered the Acadian area, also known as the Evangeline Region; the setting for the novel “Anne of Green Gables”; our travels were punctuated with opportunities to make music with Ugly Sticks (as demonstrated by Roger, Sarah and Jean); Donair, featured at Randy’s Pizza near nowhere; and the bridge from Nova Scotia to P.E.I. is the longest span over the Atlantic Ocean.

I’ll save a few more memories for the days ahead.  Meantime, there are a couple of interesting comments below:

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

 

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

COMMENTS TO RECENT BLOGS

From Barbara and Tom Palmer (and Shelby the border terrier) — Hi Barry and Monique, We have really enjoyed your travel blog – but one thing that is driving me crazy is your inclusion of Newfoundland and Labrador as part of the Canadian Maritime provinces. We are also full-time RVers who spent the summer of 2011 in the Maritimes and Newfoundland – and rest assured, the Newfies we met did not consider themselves part of the Maritimes (New Brunswick, PEI, and Nova Scotia). Nor did the Maritimers we met consider Newfies to be part of the Maritimes.

As you undoubtedly know by now, Newfoundland was an independent country until 1949 when it confederated with Canada (with a bare majority of Newfies voting for confederation); is there any way you could work that bit of history into your future posts? We really need to give Newfoundland credit for providing space and hospitality to US forces during the second world war – the US built a number of antisubmarine and naval warfare bases (as well as the Air Force base in Gander) in Newfoundland to protect the northern Atlantic from the Germans. Also, although it’s clear to us outsiders that they really could not have survived as an independent country, many Newfies are still uneasy about being Canadians!

Sorry you had to disable the comment section in your blog – we enjoyed seeing what others had to say!  Did you kiss the cod?

Barry’s Response — I find your note absolutely amazing.  In all our pre-planning and in our three weeks in Newfoundland and Labrador, I had never heard or seen anything that explained that NF/LB are not Maritimes, so I looked it up on Wikipedia:

“The Maritime provinces, also called the Maritimes or the Canadian Maritimes, is a region of Eastern Canada consisting of three provinces, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. On the Atlantic coast, the Maritimes are a subregion of Atlantic Canada, which also includes the northeastern province of Newfoundland & Labrador.”

There are so many highlights from our trip; we appreciated each province for its own character.  Newfoundland, the largest, probably offered more variety.  Everything you mention in your comment is true.

As for the comments, that was disabled by the Web folks to combat the incredible volume of spam coming through.  I find that use of the web more distasteful than my experience of kissing the cod!   Thanks for the geography and history lesson.

From David Harrison — I do enjoy your blogs, but after reading the comment on the “far north” region of my country, I think you should buy yourself a globe.   The Canadian Maritime provinces are on the same latitude as southern France and north-central Italy.  Do keep the blogs coming, though.

Barry’s Response – You’re also right … BUT, as mentioned, many Maritime people go south for the winter for warmth.  In France and other European nations, the south of France and Italy are destinations where travelers go to avoid the cold, dreary weather.  Latitude doesn’t seem to have much to do with climate – looking up from the lower 48, it’s still the “far north” to me.  I do appreciate you comment.

OUR FAVORITE STOPS IN THE MARITIMES — Part I

This entry is part 9 of 16 in the seriesThe Canadian Atlantic Provinces

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

Members of our Fantasy RV Tours caravan, who joined us from literally the four corners of the Continental U.S. and many places in between, have now split up to return home or begin another adventure. We remain on the vibrant green pastoral Prince Edward Island to see a few more things before heading westward, with our travel trailer virtually filled with a 1) wide variety of keepsakes; 2) our external hard drives brimming with photos and, 3) our heads still savoring vivid memories.

We have parked our rig for at least one night in 21 campgrounds and on one 16-hour ferry ride, and seen, I would estimate, 10,000 memorable sights. Well, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but 100 of those were lighthouses, another 101 were coves hugged by classic fishing villages with colorful little houses, 1,000 were beautiful ponds and lakes … need I go on?

I’ll have more about the experience as time on our trip allows – we have lots of driving ahead of us – but for now, I’m chomping at the bit to tell you about Twillingate and Bonavista, both on the “big island” of Newfoundland. And as I began to prepare this blog, I realize that just a word or two about each thing I want to write about is too long for one blog, so I’ll divide it into two, and then add some more spots after that.

We walked along the shoreline into the hills soon after arriving at Twillingate

We walked along the shoreline into the hills soon after arriving at Twillingate

We began our assault on Twillingate by wandering out of the campground, tromping across a narrow isthmus and climbing a hill bordering the Atlantic coastline. Below the cliff were a myriad of seabirds and blue-green waters at which we have marveled numerous

Cleaning the day's cod catch in their "stage"

Cleaning the day’s cod catch in their “stage”

times on this trip. On our way back “home,” we wandered into a “fishing stage,” a little shack in which seamen store some of their gear and prepare their catch of the day for selling or eating.  These rugged individuals, still wearing their typical Atlantic Ocean fishing gear, were joyfully cleaning the cod from a large bucket when Monique and I walked in, each with a camera in hand. They immediately turned the conversation to us, without stopping their work, and proved to be like everyone else we’ve met on this excursion, both friendly and interested, with a touch of joviality thrown in.

We got to know Twillingate fairly well by walking and driving around town and doing touristy things, like visiting a winery and premium chocolate outlet, finishing our stay there by attending the “All Around the Circle Dinner Theatre,” which is best described as the Newfoundland version of the old TV show “HeeHaw.” It’s local humor; yet, I think that the 42 or so of us on the caravan would describe it as very entertaining.

The Prime Berth "Stage"

The Prime Berth “Stage”

I’ve saved the best two Twillingate events for last. I was not looking forward to visiting a fish museum. After going there, I recommended it to everyone I met. The “Prime Berth Heritage Museum” is the creation of David Boyd, a life-long fisherman, a fishing guide, and a collector of memorabilia, which he explains and demonstrates, He’s also a pretty good poet (I bought his book of poetry). You’re probably still not sold on going to a fish museum, and rather than trying to sell you on it when in Newfoundland, I’ll just say, if you don’t go there, you’re missing a treat.

An enjoyable moment for Caravan members in the Fish Museum

An enjoyable moment for Caravan members in the Fish Museum

And one more thing. After hearing David’s buddy, Bill, play the ugly stick, I picked one up in the gift shop run by David’s wife and bought one for Monique. That ignited the fuse that caused the explosion that became a highlight of our journey, ugly stick concerts.

The first Ugly Sticks concert. Three more followed.

The first Ugly Sticks concert. Three more followed.

Seeing Monique with one, Ron bought one, and George, and Jean and Stephanie and Carol … well, actually, Carol bough two of them.  They played those ugly sticks that evening and at every opportunity after that, including with a band in Nova Scotia, where most of the folks had never seen one and others didn’t realize how much fun they could be. Ron suggests they apply for “America’s Got Talent.”

We capped it all off with a visit to the Long Point Lighthouse, where there’s a charge to enter and go to the top. It was there that we got to see our third iceberg of the trip, and while miles offshore, it still captured our imaginations as its two peaks disappeared into a plateau of ice. We also spotted the dorsal fins of a few humpback whales. Since we’d

An iceberg looms out in the Atlantic, soon changing into a plateau of ice

An iceberg looms out in the Atlantic, soon changing into a plateau of ice

been in dozens of lighthouse by then there was no need to look at the surrounding vistas from any higher than the cliffs on which we walked, so we took off along the bluffs in one direction, stopped to munch on fruit bars, retraced our steps and went onward to extend our hike. At every turn there was beauty in all directions. We are still cutting slices off the chunks of fudge bought there – “Buy 1 pound; get a ½ pound free.” Too good a deal to pass up, an excellent, good-tasting energy food.

We did all this and more on a three-day stopover. Multiply that by the 21 stops on our caravan tour, and you’ll get an idea of what we’ve experienced. Stay tuned for our visit to the Root Cellar Capital of the World in the next edition. Obviously we continue to be the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.
© All photos by Barry Zander. All rights reserved