The Atlantic Provinces of Canada

A trip log by Mark R. Leeper

Sunrise in NewfoundlandHopewell Rocks

Tall ShipWaterside Repair

07/11/09 New Jersey to Lewiston, ME: Travel
07/12/09 Lewiston, ME to Yarmouth, NS: The Cat Ferry
07/13/09 Yarmouth, NS to Lunenburg, NS: Yarmouth and Shelburne Museums
07/14/09 Lunenburg, NS to Halifax, NS: Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic
07/15/09 Halifax, NS: Halifax Citadel
07/16/09 Halifax, NS
07/17/09 Halifax, NS: Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
07/18/09 Halifax, NS to North Sydney, NS: Louisbourg Fortress
07/19/09 North Sydney, NS to Channel-Port-aux-Basques: The Ferry
07/20/09 Channel-Port-aux-Basques, NF to Gros Morne, NF: Gros Morne National Park
07/21/09 Gros Morne, NF: Gros Morne National Park
07/22/09 Gros Morne, NF: Gros Morne National Park
07/23/09 Gros Morne, NF to L'Anse aux Meadows, NF
07/24/09 L'Anse aux Meadows, NF': L'Anse aux Meadow
07/25/09 L'Anse aux Meadows: Iceberg and Whale
07/26/09 L'Anse aux Meadows, NF to Channel-Point-aux-Basques, NF
07/27/09 Channel-Point-aux-Basques, NF to Baddeck, NS: Ferry
07/28/09 Baddeck, NS: the Cabot Trail
07/29/09 Baddeck, NS to Alma NB
07/30/09 Alma, NB: Bay of Fundy
07/31/09 Alma, NB: Hopewell Rocks
08/01/09 Alma, NB to Saint John, NB: New Brunswick Museum
08/02/09 Saint John, NB
08/03/09 Saint John, NB to Fredericton, NB: King's Landing
08/04/09 Fredericton, NB to Shawinigen, QC.
08/05/09 Shawinigen, QC to Montreal, QC
08/11/09 Montreal, QC to Massachusetts


Let me get this straight.  I have been telling people I was going to visit the Maritime Provinces of Canada.  Those would be Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island.  There are three.  The Atlantic Provinces include those three plus Newfoundland.  But we are going to Newfoundland so if I continued to call this log the Maritime Provinces I would be giving short shrift to Newfoundland.  So the title of the log was changed to the Atlantic Provinces.  Well, even that is not inclusive enough.  I am going to the Atlantic Provinces plus Quebec.  Or I am going to the Maritime Provinces plus Newfoundland and Quebec.  But to be perfectly honest the name of the province Newfoundland is not Newfoundland any more.  It is now a single province called Newfoundland and Labrador.  So I am going to Newfoundland and Labrador, but not to Labrador.


Well, I have to admit that the Atlantic Provinces of Canada did not at first seem all that appealing.  They sounded cold and damp.  It was a big contrast to last year's trip to Southern Utah with its high, majestic rock scenery.  My primary mental image of the areas is two sawhorses with an inverted dory resting on them.  In the background there is white, rocky sand leading to blue water.


I will see if I am right.


In any cases we are going to the World Science Fiction Convention in Montreal, August 6 to 10.  We have decided to go by car seeing the Canadian Atlantic Provinces on the way.


07/11/09 New Jersey to Lewiston, ME: Travel


Well, it is 9:32 AM.  For days we have been packing to fill the car.  It is quite possible to be too systematic.  We both have long pack lists.  And you know that you really have to be prepared for I you find yourself catching cold or need an elastic bandage.  And there is food for the car including bowls of ramen noodles.  And we torture ourselves with what might happen to the car and we miss a ferry.  There are a lot of worries as you prepare for a road trip.  Our car is very tightly packed and I hope we do not acquire much more.


We are hitting every traffic light red.  Evelyn says this is an inauspicious start.  Actually the lights are probably intentionally cycled to slow traffic.  In Detroit it was said that if you drove at the speed limit downtown you hit every light red.  If you drove fast by five miles per hour you got every light green.  You were punished for driving carefully.  This is a stretch of the Garden State Parkway with a greater density of trees.  Every once in a while you pass a tree that has much too straight a trunk.  The branches stick out absolutely level.  Look closely and you will see that it is a disguised smoke stack.  Actually it is not very hard to spot.  I would go so far as to say it does not fool anyone.  You would have to be blind or three days dead not to spot the differences.  But it made the owner feel he was not messing up the countryside.


The countryside gets a lot nicer when we hit the Merritt Parkway.  Not only are you going down a lane with a lot of trees on either side of you, the overpasses were built during there depression when labor was inexpensive and so each is decorated differently. Some have relief sculpture.  Each looks nice in its own way.  After the De&) press ion ended we stopped decorating public works.


At about 1:15 we started thinking about lunch.  The GPS said there was a Thai restaurant in Webster, Mass. that we were near to.  It took us about 10 miles out of our way.  Webster looks like it had seen better days and a lot of the businesses were closed.  Our Thai restaurant was one, but across the street was a Polish-American place that was open.  It turned out to be pretty much a Polish deli and convenience grocery.  We ordered a Polish Platter and a Mini Polish Platter.  They were actually about the same size.  The Polish platter had Stuffed Cabbage, Cabbage Stew, Kielbasa, and a meat dumpling.  The Mini had the same but more cabbage stew but no stuffed cabbage.  It did not have a lot of flavor but was filling and cheap.


The rest of the day was driving with some nice vistas of trees.  We listened to a BBC adaptation of THE DECEIVERS by John Masters.  There was a heck of a traffic jam on I-495.  About 7PM we pulled into Motel 6.


Motel 6, 516 Pleasant St, Lewiston, ME,

--Room clean if little more than functional.

--Plastic glass that leaked (in this case cherry juice in this case.  It stains.)  It had a vertical crack up the side.

--Room warm to start with but air conditioner was quick to cool it.  But it was hard to get a reasonable temperature.  It was either too hot or two cold.

--Room was non-smoking but strong tobacco smell in hall

--No breakfast.  Coffee is available.


We had to get up early so both went to sleep about 9PM


07/12/09 Lewiston, ME to Yarmouth, NS: The Cat Ferry


I naturally woke up at 4:37.  That was just about right.  It was about eight minutes before the alarms I had set.


The weather yesterday was nice and sunny, but today is starting out gray.  I guess you pretty much learn to just ignore it.  Evelyn goes some coffee and we headed out some time about 6PM.


Today we take the ferry across the Gulf of Maine, 77,000 square miles of sea enclosed by underwater banks to the south and east, separating it from the North Atlantic.  It is 1500 feet deep in spots.  In the Bay of Fundy tides can be from 25 to 54 feet, the highest in the world.  I wonder what determines how high a tide is at some part of the world.  The ferry itself looks huge.  It is at least three stories and 220 feet long.


Evelyn tells me that American quarters now are showing American territories on the back.  People who bought the 50-state albums now have the problem of where to put the new quarters, Evelyn tells me.  I suggested there are always film canisters.  But I realize now that the days of the film canister are numbered.


We are placed in a queue to waiting to get on the huge catamaran ferry called The Cat.  I guess it goes out and tries to catch Ducks.  Women in red-orange jump suits direct traffic.  We were over cautious so arrived very early and now are waiting in line.


The ferry is a lot like taking a plane.  It is wider than a plane, but the seats are a lot like flying coach.  They are narrow.  The ferry also costs a lot like an airplane, over $400, but that is for the three of us, Evelyn, me, and the car.  We had heard it would be a three-hour trip, but other sources say it is more like five hours. 


We started moving about five minutes to 8.  This is a lot like flying.  There is a safety announcement about how to evacuate id necessary.  There are safety information and white bags in the seat pocket.  Next we are probably going to hear they play an in-flight movie.  [PS Actually they had several.]


Apparently today it is windy and the sea is choppy.  The boat is rocking and some people around me seem to be unhappy about it.  Frankly, I kind of like it.  I enjoy the rock of a boat.  I like a little turbulence in an air flight.  Evelyn is spending most of the ride sleeping.  I suspect that she does not like the rocking of the boat and is sleeping it out.


I wish the scenery were a little nicer.  It is just a steel-gray sea and an overcast sky struggling to push and pull on the horizon.  The waves roil and every once in a while produce a whitecap.


I spent some time writing to Sam Zhang, a high school girl in Nanjing.  We have been corresponding for a few weeks.  Apparently high school is very demanding in China.  They are easing up a bit in Nanjing since some students committed suicide.  I was giving her some of my own personal philosophy.


She also was asking me if I had heard about Michael Jackson's death.  Actually this morning the news stations still were talking about little else and the death was several days ago.


With the time change (we lose an hour) we will not get to Yarmouth until 2:45.  Then we still have customs to pass, and there will be a lot of people doing that coming off the ferry.  I think that today is pretty much going to be a washout.  It is a travel day.  What is more we just found out a little before the start of the trip that the oil pan of our car has a crack.  Evelyn thinks we might be OK, but I am concerned about the risk.  We may have to get that fixed on the trip.  So far things are not going well.


I do not feel all that hungry, but a few small squares of dried mango are all the solid food I have had in the last 22 hours.  I had some soda and a little bit of cherry juice last night.


A lot of people seem to be complaining about the rolling of the boat.  It makes it a little hard to walk around, but that is about all.


Evelyn woke up for a while and as I suspected the rocking of the boat has been bothering her.


We docked about 2:35.  We were in our car by then and drove off the boat at about 2:47.  There is a long line of cars for customs.  And it moves up only very slowly.


Actually it turned out to be about 25 minutes in line, which is not bad.  We then followed the GPS to the Scotia bank, which it found for us without too much hassle.  On the other hand it was convinced the Comfort Inn was about a block or two away from where it really was.


Comfort Inn, 96 Starrs Rd, Yarmouth, NS,

--Room temperature hard to adjust

--Breakfast with room

--No elevator

--Not enough plastic cups


--Ice machine only on first floor

--Modest breakfast included, not much protein


On checking in we asked where was a good place to get fish chowder.  That is a local specialty.  The clerk recommended a place called Rudder's.  The seafood chowder was OK, but I didn't think it had a lot of flavor.  We shared a Fisherman's Platter, which was OK, but a little over-priced.


We stopped at Wal-Mart.  I got a belt and we got some DVDs.  In the room we did the usual log writing and watched movies in the background.


Whoever told Evelyn that the ferry was only three hours was completely off base.  So today was really just a travel day.


07/13/09 Yarmouth, NS to Lunenburg, NS: Yarmouth and Shelburne Museums


We were up early.  I had a hard-boiled egg and orange juice for breakfast. I had been up at 4AM worrying about the crack in the oil pan of our car.  We had already determined to have the oil pan checked before we did anything else.  We wanted to be at the Toyota Dealership before they were open so we would not be waiting all day for them to get to our car.


We made some stops first before the dealership but were there at about 7:50.  Supposedly they were not open yet, but someone was there and heard our story.  Within 15 minutes they had inspected the undercarriage of the car and said there was nothing wrong with it.  So we had one less worry.  We thanked them profusely.


The Yarmouth County Museum looks like a single house from the outside, but it is ample size inside.  It took us about an hour and forty minutes to cover the museum.  It has no large collections of anything, but it has a variety of exhibits illustrating the history of Yarmouth.  Two parts of particular interest are the Rune stone and Pirate exhibit.  The Rune stone was found on a local farm and purportedly represents the presence of Vikings in the new world.  But the runes carved in rock are indecipherable.  Because it is indecipherable the rune stone's authenticity is in question.


Nearby Oak Island is thought by some to be a place where pirates buried their plunder.  Actually only Captain Kidd was said to have buried treasure, and that was part of a ploy to avoid an execution.  Much of what we think was pirate lore--including walking the plank, burying treasure, and pirate maps--came mostly from various stories of Robert Louis Stevenson.  On the other hand some pirate captains really were flamboyant.  Edward Teach (AKA Blackbeard) really did put flaming tapers in his beard to look fiercer in battle.  Most pirates were just inept thugs.


Oak Island was, however, thought to be a place where buccaneers would bury their treasure.  It was thought that in 1795 treasure was found on the island, and ever after people have been looking for pirate booty on the island.  To illustrate the exhibit they had a chest of chocolate gold coins.


Another myth that was true is that pirates operated under their own "articles."  It was a sort of Constitution for pirate society.  It had rules binding on the crews and the captains alike.  For example everyone had to care for their weapons and keep them ready for use.  Failure to follow the rules would result in execution or marooning.


Elsewhere the museum had various articles of life in the town of Yarmouth.  Included was a collection of musical instruments and music boxes.


We talked for a while with the woman at the admissions desk.  She was from New Jersey very close to where we live.  She has lived in Yarmouth about six years.


From there we went to the center of town and bought a dozen Tim Horton doughnuts.  We took them to the Toyota service center as a thank you for their help.


From there we headed out to Shelburne, an area populated in large part by British loyalists at the end of the American Revolution.  Starting in 1786 it became a ship building community.  We went to the Shelburne Historic Complex.


There are four very small museums that are really one Medium sized museum among them.  They are on the water and look a little quainter than the Yarmouth museum so they command a higher price.  ($3 apiece or all four for $8 as opposed to $3 for the much more complete Yarmouth Country Museum)


Here you see a boatbuilding workshop, still being used and left as it was, A Dory shop, which has another working workshop over it, a museum of life in the area and a visit to a house from an earlier age.  The latter was not highly furnished enough to be said to belong to any specific age.


The Dory shop has tributes to Sidney Mahaney who is said to have made 10,000 dories in his life and is a living legend.  The museum devoted to lifestyle had posters telling local superstitions, another showing home remedies.  They had a restored house living room and a collection of sea navigation instruments.


We talked for about 15 minutes to one of the Dory builders about such things as the differences between a Shelburne Dory and a Lunenburg Dory.  (It comes down to two struts in the bottom of the boat.  One Lunenburg makes a strut of a single piece of wood while Shelburne attaches two pieces of wood with a metal clamp.  This saves a lot of time.  But apparently Lunenburg dory makers think it sacrifices quality.  I think they also may disagree on which end to break a boiled egg on.)


One of the skills that I have found useful through life is the ability to get interested in any subject that anyone else gets interested in.  I had that skill long before I was married but I have to say that it is really useful in marriage.  I frequently test the skill by choosing an aisle of a library at random and coming out the other side with a book that interested me.  I suppose if I really had the skill I could grab any book and be interested, but for some subjects it takes more effort to be interested than others.  Dory building was a bit of a stretch for me.  These days dories are build mostly for recreation.  I found our discussion with a dory builder to be engaging, but hardly fascinating.  I found myself trying hard to think of questions.


In the middle we stopped for lunch at a restaurant called The Seadog.  The service was slow and it was overpriced.  I had the fishcakes, which were patties of mashed potato, onion, and salt codfish chunks.  Evelyn had fish and chips.  We traded so we each got some of both.  She liked the fishcakes better than I did.  Overall I thin that Yarmouth treated us better than Shelburne.  We sat on the deck in the sun and my arms were noticeably darker afterward.


And so we drove to Lunenburg.  We checked in to the Homeport Motel


Homeport Motel, Lunenburg, NS

--Kitchenette, microwave, fridge, toaster, coffee maker

--Breakfast not provided

--Cottage-like decor

--Room notes do not list cable channels but do give menus for local upscale restaurants

--Really good shower & nice towels

--Lots of outlets

--Hard to work phone

--Room is very light, many lights

--Very comfortable

--Free Wi-Fi


We spent the evening in our room.


Wi-Fi made a special difference to me this trip.  A podcast I like had a contest to identify some film music.  It was supposedly from a 1958 Sci-Fi film.  It was played on a single piano.  That had to be THE COLOSSUS OF NEW YORK.  I sent in an answer from the Toyota shop, not expecting to even be able to make the Wi-Fi work.  I did get a piece of mail off, and I got an answer in the evening that I had won a copy of the once rare film, the original German version of THE HANDS OF ORLAC with Conrad Veldt.  I am a big Veidt fan (some may know him as Maj. Strasser from CASABLANCA).  Anyway, I am very pleased to get a copy of this film on DVD.


One last problem: our portable DVD player died.  Evelyn jumped onto the web and found one that was relatively cheap.  That is another new feature of this trip.  We have a laptop that uses Wi-Fi.

07/14/09 Lunenburg, NS to Halifax, NS: Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic


There was a time when packaging made packages hard to open.  Grape Nuts had a tab on the side of the box you supposedly could push in.  You usually ended up crushing the side of the box.  Manufactures started to realize that their packaging could be a big dissatisfier.  They worked on it and soon packages were easier to open.  It stayed that way for a while and mankind had won a great victory.  However it cost money to have good packaging and in some cases there was pilferage in stores.  Where there is money to be saved there is money to be earned.  (Thanks a lot Ben Franklin.)  Things started to be put in inconvenient packages again.  Of course the classic is clear plastic shell that is nearly impossible to open without damaging the product inside or the hands opening the package.  When I travel my pet peeve is complementary shampoo in flat plastic packets.  You cannot tear them open with wet hands.  You end up ripping them open with your teeth.  Nasty.


I put on the news and there is an ad for cornflakes that shows a rooster dropping fruit into people's bowls of cereal when they are not looking.  I wouldn't eat cereal that some strange bird has dropped something into.


Breakfast is not provided.  We made bowls of ramen noodles.


Lunenburg is a tourist attraction.  It is a UNESCO site, mostly because it is the Best example of British city design with its graph paper-like grid of streets.  Whether that really qualifies it to be a UNESCO site is a moot point.


Our site of the day is the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic.  This is a museum covering the fishing industry of the Atlantic Provinces.  This museum covers the fishing industry and the fish it catches.


The museum features an aquarium that allows the visitor to see up close and personal the sort of see creatures that are caught for food.  Evelyn was quite taken with the American Eel.  (I told Evelyn that this being bi-lingual Canada we can also expect to see the famous Eel d'France.)  But you see whitefish, flounder, cod, and lobsters.


There is an exhibit on rum running.  Canada had prohibition just as America did, but it went from 1916 to 1921.  Canada was repealing Prohibition just about when the US was starting it.  Canadians would say they were going out fishing, but would come back with their boats much lighter and with a lot of money.


There are some paintings by August Gales, a quadriplegic from age three.  Holding pencil and brushes in mouth he painted schooners, dories, and scenes from the fishing life.  He became a noted artist.


There was an exhibit of the racing schooner, Blue Nose II, which was a winning racer that the locals had much pride in.


Evelyn caught the displays in an inconsistency.  They said that a true fish has both fins and scales.  Later they are talking about major classes of fish and they include shark.  But a shark does not have scales so by their definition is not really a fish.


We left a little after 1PM and got into Halifax about 2:50.


We both had mishaps unloading the car.  Evelyn backed into a suitcase and fell over.  She does not thing she did damage, but will have a bruise on her leg.  I got a little over zealous lifting heavy luggage and strained my hand.  I was worried I had given myself tendonitis as I had on two recent trips.


Lunch was at a Greek restaurant, Opa!.  It had the feel of a chain.  I had Seftali a sort of beef-lamb meatball that was quite tasty.  It was a little downbeat because I was worried for my wrist.  The pain became less, but the next morning would tell for sure.


We stopped for supplies at a Costco and a Wal-Mart. We replaced our ailing DVD player.  By now it was 5PM so we packed it in for the day.


This is early summer and we are a good distance north so it stays light outside until after 9PM.


Future Inns, Halifax, NS

--Nice modern looking hotel.

--Health club right on the floor

--TV does not allow connections from portable video

--Staff welcomes every time you enter or leave

--No liner for ice bucket

--Glass glasses (I prefer disposable)

--Outlets not convenient but there is one over the desk

--Free Wi-Fi

--Free newspapers

--Not a great cable selection


Before bed we watched MARX BROTHERS GO WEST.  I had thought I had seen it before, but it was not familiar and it was a lot of fun.


07/15/09 Halifax, NS: Halifax Citadel


I took a shower.  The motel provides not just shampoo, but volumizing shampoo.  So I may be walking around with volumized hair today.  I wonder if anybody will notice.  I am hoping that while my hair is in an expansive mood it will also colonize the large bare spot.


The hotel does not include breakfast so we looked online and in the GPS to find what was available in the area.  There was a breakfast place called Cory's.  It was more than we were expecting both in quantity and price.  Breakfast there runs to $12 or more per person.  I had the Surprise, which turns out to be two slices of French toast with ham and a fried, egg between and piled with fresh fruit.  Breakfast for two came to $26 Canadian, which if you include in the higher taxes is a lot like $26 American.  I think we will try McDonalds tomorrow.


The Halifax Citadel is a fort atop a beautiful green hill overlooking Halifax.  It is the fourth fort built on this location, each to counter a different threat.  This fort took about 28 years to build and was completed in 1856.  It was the spear point of the Atlantic defense of the country from a certain military power that had repeatedly invaded Canada since its birth in the mid-1770s.  Halifax itself was never attacked once it had the Citadel.


The building itself is shaped like and 8-poinrted star to deny the enemy a lateral face to attack.  The fort never fired a shot in anger.  By the time the Citadel was completed in 1856 the other military power was no longer likely to attack Canada.  But still about 150 men were would be in the Citadel at any one time protecting the area.  The British garrison withdrew from the fort and from Canada in 1906.  By 1945 it was no longer used for military purposes.  Since then the granite walls have been restored ant the fort became part of Parks Canada.  A small army or re-enactors perform military functions and drill and the grounds of the old fort, frequently giving demonstrations.  There mare multiple tours each day explaining the history.  Visitors can also see two films, one about an hour and one about 15 minutes.


Every room in the fort not needed for administration of the park has been turned into a museum of the history of Canada, the history of the military, or the history of the fort.


We saw the films, took the tour, and explored.  There really was a full day's activity.  At noon there was the firing of the noon gun.  Originally this would have been done with four pounds of black powder.  As Halifax was built up this would blow out windows in the city so the charge was reduced to one pound of black powder.  The cannon is fired everyday but Christmas at noon.


The tour of the complex was led by someone who identified himself as Pvt. McClellan and who was very knowledgeable.


There was enough to keep us occupied until after 3PM and by then it was too late to see the Natural History Museum.  Evelyn and are quick learners in some senses, but when it comes to museums and historical sites we are a little slow.  If the AAA book says allow a certain minimum time, we will frequently take four or five times that much.  In any case, we spent a lot of time at the Citadel, more than even we were expecting to.


We wanted a site that would not take a long time but would engage us for an hour or so.  That was the gravesite of the Titanic.  Some of you might have heard about the Titanic, a large ship that hit an iceberg and sank.  They have made some movies about it.  It was headed for New York and took a sharp turn downward.


There is a Titanic (Protestant & non-denominational) gravesite at Fairview Lawn Cemetery.  Right next to it there is a Jewish cemetery with the Jewish victims of the disaster.  The problem is that particularly for unidentified victims it is hard to tell religion.  It helps somewhat that the great majority of victims were men and with men there were clues as to which were Jewish.  Though I would not have wanted the sorting job.  In the Protestant cemetery the gravestones are in three arcs representing the sides of the boat and the gash down one side.  There seems to be a custom of putting pennies on graves like Jews put stones on gravestones.  And there were some graves of children that had toys.  One had a Doctor Seuss button.  The child would have had no idea who Doctor Seuss or the creature was.  But then the child never saw the button either.  They were all given a death date of Monday, April 15.  Some may have died Sunday the 14th, but it is impossible to tell now.  The ones who died the 14th would have been mostly crew.  The iceberg was struck 20 minutes to midnight and the ship went down in 160 minutes.


After that it was time to eat, given we had had no lunch.  We wanted to go to a Vietnamese Pho restaurant, but the traffic was horrendous.  The GPS was trying to route us to a street that did not exist.  We gave up and back near out hotel we ate at a Montana's where we shared a plate of ribs.  They even had a promotion so that if you came back in a certain interval of time you got a free entree.  [P.S. which we did July 29.]


We went to a dollar store where we got some ramen for the room.  Hit the sack about 9:30 or 10.


07/16/09 Halifax, NS


After yesterdays fancy and expensive breakfast we decided to have ramen in the room.  It is not as satisfying, but a lot more cost effective.  And it is not too bad.  We can heat the water in the coffee maker.


We had originally planned to go to the maritime museum today and the pier to see the tall ships tomorrow.  For several good reasons I suggested we reverse those two days.  The main one is that the weather will be better today.  The tall ships are coming in today and can be boarded tomorrow, but I would rather see them come in than to board them.


Our destination today is the harbor to see the tall ships come in.  This is an annual event.  The tall ships come in.  They strut their stuff in the harbor.  Then they let people come on board to see the ships.  There may be a race or two for all I know.  Then they parade out of the harbor.  It is sort of a carnival event with shops selling food and ad hoc mini-amusement parks cropping up.  We had no intention to visit it, but it was a timing coincidence.


For us it is a great place for photo opportunities.  Tall-masted ships like barks and brigantines float by.  We walked the length of the waterfront pier getting pictures.  That is about 2.5 miles each way.  Most of the ships are of a modern design, but the two or three antiques get a lot of attention.


Pier 21 is a National Historic Site.  We paid for got a card that covers all the National Historic sites.  We tried to use it, and guess what?  That was a Parks Canada National Historic Site.  Pier 21 says they are not with Parks Canada.  So there is more than one set of National Historic Sites.  The Parks set does not cover everything.  The smart thing to do would be to pick a bunch of places open free to the public print up and sell my own set of passes to National Historic Sites.


The Pier 21 exhibit is devoted to the history of Canadian immigration processed through this building.  Starting in 1928 through 1971 over 1.5 million people immigrated to Canada coming through this building.


The building tells the stories of

--Refugees from communism

--Refugees from Nazism

--WWII war brides

--Jewish Holocaust survivors

--Children evacuated from England

--Wounded war veterans

--And general immigrants


On the hour starts a 30-minute tour that ends near what they call a "holographic film."  "Oceans of Hope" is not holographic, of course.  Instead you see the film through translucent screens that can appear either solid or transparent as the light hits them.  Between the screens are furniture from the building showing a waiting room and a desk.  Films of people are then projected on the screen to give the impression that the projected people are sitting on real furniture.  Then there are dramatizations of immigrants' stories.


Pier 21 is the Canadian equivalent of Ellis Island.  After its use for immigration it was turned into the immigration museum of Atlantic Canada. 

This museum is a lot like the Ellis Island display in the US in just about everything but size.  The Pier 21 exhibit could have fit under the stair in the first floor left wing at Ellis Island.  Actually I don't remember the details of the Ellis Island Museum but it is big.  They had a giant building and they turned it all into a museum.  Except for the tour and the film you could do the Pier 21 exhibit in and hour and you could not do justice to Ellis Island in a day.


The museum did have a lot of recordings of immigrants telling their own stories.  Many of them were certainly moving.  When someone has live for years in which his very existence is a capitol crime to be told, "you have come to a good country.  Welcome home."  The emotion must be inexpressible.


There is one topic covered that the US museum does not have.  That is the train ride.  The vast majority of immigrants coming to Canada would take the train to their final destination.  It was frequently a long train ride.  Some did not have the money for the train and had to be helped.  But for many the train ride was a big part of the coming to Canada experience.


Until now the Pier 21 Museum just dealt with the experience of immigrants coming through the one building.  Canada wants a single museum to cover the entire immigrant experience through the entire history of the country.  Rather than building a new museum Pier 21 is being heavily funded and being told to now be a National Immigration museum.  It is going to need a lot more room.


When we got done in the museum we headed out to ride the Fred, the free downtown bus.  We wanted to see some of the downtown area.  The loop is supposed to be 45 minutes long, but it was closer to 80 because the traffic is so bad.  Traffic in downtown Halifax when the tall ships are in makes Chicago traffic look fast and makes Manhattan traffic seem like an unattainable dream.  Downtown Halifax is bumper to bumper to bumper driving hell.  Also the bus is very crowded.


[A local tells me that there never is any traffic problem in Halifax.  "Never" means never but when the tall ships are in.  Sadly we are taking too narrow a sampling.  That is when we are here.]


We tried to get out of the area after the bus ride but everywhere we went a street was torn up and the traffic was terrible.  Eventually Evelyn decided to stop and have dinner and wait out the rush hour.  We passed a Chinese restaurant, King's Palace Restaurant.  I got squid with black bean sauce.  Evelyn got Roast Duck.  The restaurant was nearly empty so I was not expecting much, but it was decent.


We had another Wal-Mart trip to pick up some rechargeable batteries.  We got some information on how to take a bus into town and save money.  That we will probably do tomorrow.


07/17/09 Halifax, NS: Maritime Museum of the Atlantic


I woke up early and checked the time on my iPod.  It was just a little after 3AM.  A few minutes later I checked my watch and it was about 4:20.  I checked my iPod again and it said it was 3:20.  I realized then that it had synched itself with iTunes on my PC.  I didn't know it had done that, but I did know I had gotten an hour more sleep than I had not realized.  That will make me feel better in the evening.


Breakfast was ramen and dried apricots.  OK, it sounds silly but it tastes reasonably good.  And I did not eat them together.


Our destination today is the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.  Rather than drive downtown we took a bus.  It was cheaper than parking and someone else has to handle the traffic congestion.  It turns out to be cheaper.  The big problem is that the busses are really over-crowded.


We got to the waterfront before the museum opened so we walked around the waterfront looking at tall ships.  This was their big money day.  They sell tickets for people to come on board and see the ships close up.  To me a long ship is like a Monet painting.  You look at them from a distance and they are a symphony of shape.  Get close up and they are not so different and not so impressive.  I might like looking at a streamlined car, but I would be much less impressed by a look at its engine.


Walking up and down the dock were some guys dressed up as characters from the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN films.  I think people vaguely knew that there were pirates in the world but did not give them much thought.  They came to the public attention with the writings of Robert Louis Stevenson, and in particular TREASURE ISLAND.  Pirates did not carry parrots, bury treasure and make maps, make people walk the plank.  That was Stevenson's imagination.  And he more or less shaped pirates in the public imagination.  When you see an old pirate movie with people like Gene Kelly or Douglas Fairbanks playing pirates, they are pirates in the Stevenson mold.  Even variations like in "The Pirates of Penzance" are variation specifically on the Stevenson mold.  The PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN films have done what nobody since Stevenson has done.  They have changed the image of pirates in the public's mind.  Pirates have a new popularity as fictional images, but they wear their hair in dreadlocks.  One walking around here has an octopus face like Davy Jones in the movies.  PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN has its own silliness.  Jack Sparrow wears big open boots.  As Evelyn and the Yarmouth inform me, nobody wears big open boot on a boat.  You get your feet all wet.


The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic is the largest maritime museum in Canada.  Its most popular exhibits are of two disasters that the city of Halifax can call its own.  Both happened in the 1910s.  As I mentioned previously Halifax was the nearest city to the Titanic sinking and Halifax sent out boats to recover the dead bodies and they were buried here.  The museum has artifacts from the Titanic and it tells the story of the sinking and how boats were sent from here to collect the dead.


Information about the Titanic is easy enough to find in other exhibits.  Halifax has a more interesting disaster you hear about much less frequently.  There was a Canadian film and a documentary, but I had not heard of them.  The year was 1917 and Halifax was an important port from which war materials were sent to Europe.


With the coming of World War I The United States and Canada were major suppliers of goods for the war effort in Europe.  American ports on the Atlantic were busy and crowded.  Halifax harbor was particularly successful.


On December 6, the French ship Mont Blanc was carrying among other explosives 200 tons of TNT, 2,300 tons of wet and dry picric acid ten tons of gun cotton, and 35 tons of the fuel benzol all to help the war effort.  The captain was on record for being opposed to the cargo all being on one boat.  "This is a damn bad cargo," he said.  However he was under orders from the French military to carry this cargo to Europe.


At 7:30 Mont Blanc moved into the harbor mouth.  At the same time the Norwegian ship Imo left its berth headed for New York.  Imo was steaming fast and having problems with the harbor signals.  Only too late it swerved to avoid the Mont Blanc.  It was not really a bad collision, but it started a fire in the benzol on the Mont Blanc.  The collision occurred at 8:45.


The French crew knew a major disastor could not be avoided, but rather than trying to fight the hopeless fire they abandonned ship and rowed a lifeboat to shore.  They were the only ones in Halifax who had any idea what was coming.  For twenty minutes the Mont Blanc burned, the hot flames lapping closer to the explosives.  Meanwhile the boat drifted, following the current to the business center of Halifax.  People seeing the burning boat came running to get a view of something exciting.  School openings were at 9:30 that morning and on the way to school students stopped to watch the burning boat in the harbor.  For most watching the fire would be a fatal decision.


Just before 9:05 in the morning the Mont Blanc exploded with near nuclear force carrying shards of metal and glass.  Hundreds were killed instantly.  Buildings were leveled.  Carnage was terrible.


The explosion of the first nuclear bomb in New Mexico was 20 kilotons.  At the time that was the largest man-made explosion.  Before nuclear weapons the largest man-made explosion was the Mont Blanc in Halifax harbor.  The Mont Blanc explosion was 3 kilotons.  None of the Mont Blanc was ever found in the harbor.  A 1200-pound anchor was found 2.5 miles from the explosion.  Glass from the explosion was found 60 miles away. The explosion as felt 300 miles away. The flying glass and metal mowed down a huge swath of Halifax.


Almost immediately following the deadly airblast a tidal wave 40 feet high hit the shore.  Stoves and furnaces were knocked over starting uncontrolled fires.  Hundreds were killed in the explosion, hundreds more in the fires.


As if things were not bad enough just by coincidence there was a blizzard that night which dropped 16 inches of snow hampering rescue efforts and freezing some to death.


The captain and crew of the Imo were all killed.  The crew of the Mont Blanc made it to shore and all but one survived.  One woman told the story that she was standing with her baby near the water when she saw French sailors running in her direction.  A sailor started yelling at her in French.  She had no idea what he was saying.  He grabbed her baby and ran to the woods with the child.  She ran after the Frenchman yelling for him to come back.  The quick-thinking Frenchman had saved two lives, small compared to the number of deaths that were coming.


The Red Cross sent out a call saying grab as much as you can and come immediately to Halifax.  Help came from all over Canada and from the east coast of the United States.  From Boston came a trainload of help and supplies.  Every year Halifax sends a Christmas tree for the Prudential Center in Boston in gratitude for special help coming from Massachusetts.


The explosion killed 1200 people outright and another 800 died from the effects.  12,000 people had damaged houses, 6000 people were homeless.  The death were eight times those of the Chicago fire and four time those from the San Francisco earthquake.


An enquiry on the disaster began a month later, and was followed by another and another.  Most blamed the reluctant captain of the Mont Blanc.  One blamed the captain of the Imo also.  The French commanders who ordered the Mont Blanc to carry the deadly cargo presumably felt they were fighting a war and that justified the risk.  But the risk was to allies an ocean away.


So why isn't the Halifax Explosion better remembered.  As near as I can figure it, it did not happen to a country with a large film industry.  Film has become our memory of history.  The Chicago file happened to the US.  The Titanic happened to the US and Britain.  Pearl Harbor happened to the US.  9/11 happened to the US.  This is not a negative comment on the US or on the film industry.  It is a comment on the power of film to become our memories.


[This account is based in part on the Wikipedia account.]


The museum's two most engaging displays are on the two disasters just 68 months apart.


Galleries in the Museum include

--Small Craft Gallery

--Halifax Wrecked (the explosion)

--Navy Gallery

--Convoy Exhibit

--Days of Sail Gallery

--Age of Steam Gallery

--Shipwreck Treasures

--On The Rocks: Shipwreck Database

--Titanic: The Unsinkable Ship and Halifax


There are a lot of models of boats: Sailing boats, steamboats, sunken boats, trading ships, war ships.  They are all on display.  The museum keeps a database of sunken ships and they have turned that into part of an exhibit.


We happened to be there during a ceremony welcoming new citizens to Canada.  Later we saw a young family of three exploring the museum.  They were probably immigrants from Africa.  We passed them with the husband taking pictures of his wife and daughter.  I offered to take the picture and make it a picture of the whole family and they appreciated that.  It is a small thing to do, but I don't know if anybody had offered before.  I congratulated them for their new citizenship.  Later I noticed the exhibit was on the abolition of slavery in Canada.  I hope that made it more meaningful to them.


Beside the museum there is also docked a boat to be toured.


We had some time to tour when we were done with the museum, so we did more tall ship watching.  We had not eaten for a while so looked for something to eat we had never heard of.  Beaver Tails seemed like too much sugar.  Tim Horton's was also.  We settled on ribbon fries.  These are basically potato chips.  They take a potato and cut it in a helix of thin sheets.  Then they deep-fry it.  There was a long line waiting for them.  They were unevenly fried, some places very dark, some places white and undercooked.  They are a little greasy.  But they were good.  I make something similar greaseless in the microwave.  There is a sort of plastic rack to hold them that is microwave safe.  In line we talked about what is good in area with a woman behind us.  She said the heavy traffic we had see was only when the tall ships were in.  She recommended a Chinese restaurant, King Wah; a Greek restaurant, The Athens; and a pizza chain, Boston Pizza.  I have had real Boston pizza, not the chain, and I was unimpressed.  But, of course, that has little to do with the chain.


We went back to the room to write.  About 7 we went out for dinner and tried Boston Pizza where we ordered the Pulled Pork Pizza.  It was barbecued meat and cheese on a pizza.  It was good.  They got the crust crispy.


In the room we watched 633 SQUADRON.


And that was our last night in Halifax.


07/18/09 Halifax, NS to North Sydney, NS: Louisbourg Fortress


Well, we are back to traveling.  It is more convenient to stay in one place and not have to pack everything up every morning.  But it is better to see more than you can from one base.  We will be driving for about five hours today.  Tomorrow will be a travel day also but some will be ferry.


I woke up early and used the extra time to do some research on the Halifax explosion.  Evelyn also woke up early.  We had breakfast in the room.  I took the last of the cups of ramen noodles and had some dried apricots.


We headed out on a cloudy road about 8:15.


Our goal for the day is the Fortress of Louisbourg.  The day started very foggy and it remained that way all day.  On the road we saw ads for McLobster from McDonalds.  Now I had no idea how McDonalds would serve lobster so we stopped to share one.  I also ordered a shake.  Not surprisingly the shake was better.  A McLobster is really just lobster salad and lettuce on a hotdog bun.  Not a very good sandwich.  Someone tells us that it used to be on good bread and that made it a lot better.


We got to Fortress of Louisbourg about 1:50.  This was the largest fortress in the New World.  In 1745, during the War of King George, a military force from New England came north and captured the fortress.  At the end of that war in 1748 the treaty gave the fortress back to the French.  The colonists were not pleased that their winnings had been so blithely been given back to the French.  It was a contributing factor to the coming revolution.  Not long after that in 1758 the British and French were at war again in the French and Indian Wars (AKA the Seven Years War) the British captured the fortress and this time kept it.


The fortress was a town surrounded by a masonry wall.  This one was built on a small bay and had guns to protect it from an attack by sea.  It was long abandonned until during the depression of the 1930s when there was insufficient work for craftsmen like stonemasons and archeologists the site was reconstructed.  It now is the largest reconstructed historic site in North America.  It is now an open-air museum.  This was not the best day to see it since it was shrouded in fog all day.


The British had a distinct advantage in the wars.  Previous to the wars captured British were held in Louisbourg.  It was the custom to allow the officers free access to the village during the day, though they were kept in the prison by night.  They were very familiar with the layout of the village and where the strategic points were.  As part of 18th century gracious manners when it was possible prisoners were exchanged.  Captured French who had been imprisoned in Boston were exchanged for captured British who had been imprisoned in Louisbourg.  The returned French might have had useful information had the French ever attacked Boston.  The British however did lay siege to Louisbourg and they knew very well where to aim their guns.


This was a lot like any open-air historical town.  Basically it is recreated buildings and people in period dress explaining the history and what daily life was like.  We visited some houses of the wealthy, stables, houses with vegetable gardens, etc.  There was a blacksmith shop.  There was a governing house on a hill above the rest of the town and there they demonstrated canon firing.  One building was dedicated to telling the history of the modern reconstruction of the fortress.


[While we were walking around a belt that I got earlier in the trip broke.  The metal and the leather just separated.  Well, my pants seem to stay up without a belt.  But I do expect to get more than four days out of a belt.  {PS We can return the belt, but I seems to have lost a camera belt pouch out of the deal.]


We left about 5PM and headed to North Sydney.  We got to the motel and it was not as nice as the places we have been staying in.  It has the only restaurant approved in AAA.  But the menu did not seem inviting.


Clansman Motel, North Sydney, NS

--Looks a little rundown outside but interior better maintained

--Refrigerator and microwave in room

--Bad picture on TV screen

--Screen doors on motel rooms slam


We went out looking for a place to eat.  There was not much and we ended at the Lobster Pound.  I got a Senior Roast Turkey Platter.  There was a lot to it.  It had a big roll, turkey, two kinds of mashed potatoes, and a small glass of apple juice, tea, and peas.  Nothing was good, but nothing was bad either.  I thought that it was a reasonable meal for the price.  Evelyn got Senior Fish and Chips.  I think her assessment was like mine.  OK, not great.


In the room we watched TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.


07/19/09 North Sydney, NS to Channel-Port-aux-Basques: The Ferry


I was up about 4:30.  We are taking a ferry to Channel-Port-aux-Basques, in Newfoundland today.  At one time the check-in time for the ferry was 8:30 AM.  It has, however, been postponed to 11 AM.  But wait.  As we were loading the car we talked to two other people going to the ferry and they had different times to be there.  So we checked out early and headed out sometime before 8 AM.


North Sydney is still not a great place to eat.  I was still not keen on the motel and not anxious to use the restaurant.  So for breakfast we stopped at McDonalds.  For $6.99 we each ate breakfast.  We each had an Egg McMuffin, coffee, and a large OJ.  Normally we want some place with a more interesting dining experience, but it really is nice to have McDonalds as a fallback restaurant.


I got a chance to try McDonalds coffee.  I am not a coffee fan.  I am genetically wired so that to me coffee is just a bitter liquid.  It can be overcome by adding (too much) sweetener and lightener.  But McDonalds has surprisingly good coffee according to Consumer Reports who said it was better than Starbucks.  To me it was a cup of a bitter drink that was made palatable with sufficient sugar.


We went to the ferry landing and were told the ferry was postponed again, now until 2PM.  That means it will leave five and a half hours late.  It is only a five and a half hour trip.  We have a four-hour drive after the ferry docks.  And we lose a half hour due to the time change.  We will be traveling until after midnight.


We thought it might be worthwhile to take a scenic drive.  This is a Sunday and there is not much to do but drive.  Instead I asked the GPS what were the local attractions.  It suggested Grove Point Provincial Park.  That was about a seven-mile drive.  It is just a little stretch of shore on the local bay.  There is a cool breeze and waves lapping up.  It is a very pleasant spot.  There are picnic tables maybe 12 feet from the water.  There is something about the repetitive natural sound of the waves is soothing.  It is curious that a repetitive manmade sound is irritating, but a repetitive natural sound is not nearly so bothersome.  Also the cycle length is important.  A little wind-up alarm clock can be bothersome while the slow measured beats of a large pendulum clock is more tolerable.


Evelyn points out a seagull flying over the water.  Every two minutes or so it dives headfirst into the water, then picks itself up and flies some more.  Those eyes must have incredible vision to see fish from a glide 20 feet above the water.


At about 12:30 we headed out for the ferry with one short stop to see if we could get a camera case to replace the one that was lost.  At 1 PM we were at the ferry.  With the updated time the 8:30 AM ferry was supposed to leave at 2 PM.  But two came and went and we were still sitting waiting to drive onto the ferry.  For some reason never explained the 8:30 ferry did not leave until about 4:30 PM.  It was just a few minutes short of being eight hours late.  This means we will not be getting in until about 10:30 PM local time.  And then it is a four-hour drive to our motel.  If we are lucky we will get to the cabin at 2:30 AM.  That assumes we do not have problems finding our way in the dark.  We are considering staying someplace closer and forfeiting our deposit on the cabin for the first night.  That is about $80.


Now the board says our arrival will be about 11PM.


A whale breached behind the ferry and some saw it, but we did not.  I am not very good at whale watching and this one did not show up again.


As of this writing we are on the ferry.  Our options are not very good.


--We can drive to the cabin.  But that will get us there after 3AM and is dangerous to boot.


--We can find a motel at this end.  That way we lose our deposit and have to pay for another room besides.  This entails finding a room at 11:30 at night.  Probably not a good prospect.  Lots of people on the ferry will probably be trying for the same few rooms.


--We can try to find a place to pull over and sleep off the road.  This will also forfeit our deposit.  It is unlikely with my apnea I can get much sleep in a car.  This will also forfeit our deposit.



23:36:39: We are just getting docked.  We cannot drive very far.  There is fog and there is a great danger of hitting moose.  Further there is no place around where there are rooms.  Some people were able to arrange for rooms at some distance and they will risk the moose and the fog.  What is recommended?  Drive to the local visitor center, pull in, and sleep in the car.  This is nearly impossible for me.  I really need to sleep with a CPAP.  But I will sleep as much as I can, listen to my iPod, and wait for sunrise.  After sunrise we can drive to Gros Morne.


07/20/09 Channel-Port-aux-Basques, NF to Gros Morne, NF: Gros Morne National Park


It was after midnight when we got off the ferry.  The ferry company had a later ferry that was supposed to leave in the afternoon.  After the rotten way they had treated us, they had our ferry slow down and wait so the later ferry got in on time.  We were already angry and they figured it made no sense to have two ferries of passengers angry with them.


So they put all the inconvenience on us. I guess that is the policy of MARINE ATLANTIC.  That's M-A-R-I-N-E A-T-L-A-N-T-I-C.


We got off the ferry into a thick fog.  We could see only a few yards in front of the car.  We could barely see and almost missed the visitor center.  We pulled in.  With a little preparation we put back our seats and tried to sleep.


I mostly failed.  I listened to dramas on my iPod.  I was awake though Orson Welles's "Lost Horizon" and Hollywood Radio Playhouse's "Naked Jungle."  I did fall asleep on "Detective Story."  Evelyn woke up about 5 AM.  We went to Tim Horton for coffee and hot chocolate respectively and a doughnut each.  Then we set out on the road to Gros Morne.


As we drive we get an area that looks a lot like the Canadian Rockies.  They are not real Rockies and there are not many, but we go through lush evergreen forests velvety with trees and jeweled with lakes and ponds.


This is the area that the Vikings visited in the Vineland Saga and we listened to the BBC program "The Viking Way."


We think of the Vikings as being terrible raiders, but that was just a small aspect of Viking society with very few taking part.  They were what we would think of as criminals, but it was acceptable to do what they did to other cultures.  It was akin to hunting.  For large crimes and civil actions there was an annual meeting called the althing.  This was where local grievances were settled.  The sagas tell stories of vengeance and grudges, but they may well have been highly exaggerated and were written down centuries after the incidents.  In any case even if the matter had to be resolved at and the althing was eleven months off Vikings would have to wait until the next althing.  The plaintiff had to be satisfied with the famous adage that althings come to those who wait.


[PS Actually they had quarterly mini-judgings.]


About 9:30 we pulled into C&G Cabins.

C & G Cabins of Rocky Harbor

--$80 Canadian a night

--Room not cleaned daily

--Full kitchenette well furnished

--Can walk barefoot, very clean

--Good bathroom

--Very modern shower stall with shower massage

--Bathroom tissue not perforated and on a very large roll, a little difficult to use

--Double bed somewhat small

--Nice bright rooms

--Window blinds let in too much light

--Woman running the place is very friendly and helpful.  The hand can opener did not work so within half an hour owner had been to the hardware store to replace it

--Cabin service (i.e. they do not make the beds)

Evelyn wanted to take a nap.  I lay down and I slept longer than she did.  But then she could sleep in the car.  I hate naps.  I can wake up after a night's sleep.  It can be 4 AM and my mind is running fast enough to do math.  If I take a nap, however, I remain logy for a good long time after.


We stopped at a grocery for some food for the room.  I got some canned shrimp and some canned crab to add to dinners.


They we had lunch across the street from it from Java Jack's.  That was the only restaurant recommended by AAA.  We shared a fish chowder and a Thai Shrimp Salad.  The latter was OK with pieces of shrimp, peanuts, and a fine angel-hair like pasta.  The fish chowder was a lot like our New England clam chowder, but with nice pieces of fish.


We delivered the groceries to the cabin and set out to see the park.  We got some information at the information center.  There was a film giving an overview of the area.


We reserved a place on a boat for part of a boat tour Wednesday morning.


Finally we were ready to see nature first hand.  We went out on a nature trail, but saw no animals bigger than two ducks in a lake.  Nothing amazing but it was nice to be out in nature.  Mostly we saw dragonflies.


We took a scenic drive with two purposes.  Besides the scenery it was a dry run for where we were going tomorrow morning.  The Tablelands Nature Walk is in the same park but about 50 miles from our cabin.  We wanted to know how long iota was to get there.  It was a little overboard to drive 100 miles two days in a row to see one nature hike, but it is one of the recommended attractions of the park.


On the way we saw a moose and her calf lunching by the side of the road.  It was a pretty drive and we got to see the southern part of the park.


Back in the room I made dinner.  (Kraft Mac & Cheese and flaked crab on the side.  It was quick and easy.)  In the evening we watched a film and went to bed early.


07/21/09 Gros Morne, NF: Gros Morne National Park


One problem with having a PC and Internet access on vacation is that I am too easy to reach and it is too easy for me to reach other people.  We have some problems related to some teaching I will be doing later in the vacation.  I will be teaching origami at the World science fiction convention at the end of this trip.  I just got email that they want me to supply the origami paper for my demos and they will reimburse me.  That is going to be a bit of a project.  I have no idea how many people I will be teaching.  There are a lot of details I will have to find out.


Breakfast was a piece of cheese with crackers and grapefruit juice.


We left a little after 8 for the Table Lands hike and lecture which left at 10.  This is a walk that should take an hour, but with a big group and a lecture it was supposed to take two hours and we really did not get back to our car until about 12:30.  Everybody was very much impressed with our guide and the information on the nature of the area.


Much of what we are seeing is what are called Table Lands.  So what are Table Lands?  They are flat-topped mountains in abundance in this area.  There are mountains around with a lot of trees and others on which no trees will grow.  The latter are what are of interest.  They are pieces of the ocean floor.  They are actually pieces of Earth's mantle pushed above the crust.  The earth is mostly roiling fluid with hard patches forming at the top.  The fluid and the solid patches at the top are the earth's mantle.  On top of them has formed the crust.  We generally walk around on the crust.  But there are places, like along the Eastern seaboard of the Americas where the mantle has been pushed up over the crust.  750 million to 1 billion years ago the continents were moving around like rafts.  The two continents were Laurentia and Gondwanna.  They correspond roughly to the Americas and a combination of Europe and Africa.  Between then is an ocean we call Iapitus.  There is crust over both of the continents but it is very thin on the floor of the ocean Iapitus.  Right under the crust is a hard layer of outer mantle.


Pushed by the convection currents in the mantle the continents come together in a supercontinent called Pangaea.  But they come together with such force over millions of years that Laurentia climbs on top of Gondwanna at the edges.  And the edges are the layer of mantle formerly from the bottom of the ocean.  Pieces of Gondwanna mantle are actually resting on top of Iapitus crust.  Under pressure Pangaea forms different weak spots.


The currents underneath shift and Pangaea is ripped apart again with somewhat different boundaries than before.  A new ocean is formed we call Atlantic.  On one side are two pieces we call Americas; on the other side are continents Europe and Africa.


The rock that was on the seafloor is mostly peridotite a stone that combines piroxine and olivine.  The stone has iron so has a yellow color where it oxidizes.  They yellow color comes from rust.  From the ground the tableland mountains do not look big.  And oddly the deceptive height comes from the chemistry of the rock.  Peridotite is made up of heavy metals that retard vegetation.  Trees will not grow in it.  So you can compare a crustal mountain they can look about the same height.  You can get the scale of the crustal mountain from the trees on it.  Without trees to give scale to a peridotite mountain you cannot see how big it is.


The rock has toxic elements for plants and no nutrients at all.  This does not prevent vegetation altogether and in fact 200 species of vegetation can grow.  But their growth is handicapped.  They grow "low and slow.  Low helps them against the wind and slow is because they are really not in an area where much is available in the form of nutrients.


One of the strategies of plants to get nutrients is to be carnivorous.  I never really knew where carnivorous plants lived and had I been asked I would not have picked Canada but the pitcher plant and the sundew plant live in this sort of environment.  The Pitcher Plant emits pheromones that attract insects.  It forms a cup that holds water.  Insects who feel attracted by the pheromones land on the slick sides and fall into the water.  The slick sides and hairs on the plant pointing downward prevent the insect from climbing out.  So the insects are trapped and die.  But that does not directly help the plant.  Midges lay their eggs in the pitcher plant water so that their young larva feed off the insect parts.  Midge larva excrement is in a form that the pitcher plant can use.  The pitcher plant and the midges have a perfect partnership.


Nutrition is hard to come by on the tablelands so you see no animals larger than insects.


The walk is about two kilometers each direction, up and down.  Our Guide, Ryan, was quite good.


From there we drove into Trout River for lunch at the Seaside Restaurant.  We each ordered Chowder and a Fishburger.  The fishburger is not ground but pan-fried cod.  Cod is THE local fish, though it has been overfished.  For dessert we had pie.  I ordered Strawberry Rhubarb and Evelyn had Partridgeberry.  Pie is made oddly here.  It is thin and flat.  It is almost like a Pop tart.


On the way back we stopped at the Discovery Center.  They had large exhibits on UNESCO sites, endangered animals, and saving energy.


From there we drove back to the cabin.  For dinner we had franks and beans.


In the evening we saw a three-hour Canadian movie unavailable in the US.  The film was THE ENGLISHMAN'S BOY.  There are probably good reasons why it has never been made available in the US.  Americans play a very important part in the film and they pretty much are all detestable people.  There are two trains of plot about the same man.  The earlier one is about in incursion of American wolf hunters into Canada looking for horse thieves.  It leads to the Cyprus Hill massacre.  The second storyline takes place 50 years later with Bob Hoskins a Louis B. Meyer sort of studio head making a film about the earlier incident, but turning the American invaders into heroes.  That took us to bedtime.


07/22/09 Gros Morne, NF: Gros Morne National Park


I must have slept very deeply.  Twice while dreaming I think I made some physical move that woke me up.  Once I was dreaming I was trying to stop a house intruder and accidentally grabbed Evelyn in my sleep.  I never did that before.  I have to be more careful what I dream about.  It was not intentional, but I still feel guilty.


Breakfast was the same as yesterday: Cheese, crackers, grapefruit juice.


We drove to a motel and paid for our tickets for today's boat tour.  This was a boat ride on the Western Brook Pond Fjord.  It is a 16 km lake landlocked.  The lake itself is pure water.  In fact the water is so pure that it does not have the ions to conduct electricity.


This park has relatively few attractions spread over a very large area.  Mostly it is used for hiking, etc.  I think the two big nature programs are the tablelands talk yesterday and the boat ride down the fjord we are taking today.  It is quite a drive just to get to the parking lot for the ride.  Then there is a 3-kilometer nature walk just to get to the boat landing.  We are slow walkers and it took us almost 45 minutes.  I guess we walk about 4 kmph.  I also figured as I went that a kilometer is just about 1313 paces.  That is a pretty easy number to remember.  We did not see a lot of animal life.  Almost all was birds and insects.  We heard a woodpecker in a tree.  You do see a lot of plants, but I am not expert enough to know what I was seeing.  I do recognize the staccato of a woodpecker digging for breakfast.


Our boat left dock at 10 AM.  There were two boats.  One was bilingual and one was English only.  Ours was the latter.


Western Brook Pond Fjord is not a true fjord.  Supposedly it is not a fjord if it is not saltwater.  The pond--we would call it a lake--has freshwater fish.  I asked how they got here since it seems to be a landlocked lake.  It does however have a river out going to the ocean.  The fish are descendents of ones who swam in upstream.


The cliffs beside the fjord are 700 meters high.  Glaciers rounded the tops we can see.  One can tell a glacier's path from a river gorge by the shape of the valley.  If the base is V-shaped it was dug by water.  If it is U-shaped it was cleared by a glacier.


The mountains we are seeing in the park are the northernmost part of the Appalachian mountain range.


The water is 425 feet deep at foot of cliffs on either side of the fjord.  It is impressive to go down fjord with cliffs on either side.


At the far end of the fjord there is a waterfall called--honest--Mare Pissing Waterfall.  They do not put the name in the brochures.


The trip back is much the same without the explanations.  The played some Newfoundland music, which sounds to me a lot like Celtic music.  When we docked we had the same three-meter walk back to the car. 


For lunch we went back to Java Jack's.  Why?  Because they had great seafood chowder.  We ordered two bowls of soup and to share a dish of fish cakes.  But it was the chowder that brought us back.  Then we ordered two and the host told us it was a good choice.  It was very good today.  Well, we thought it was good last time.  And this time it was better.  I think not that it was good today but it was especially good later in the day.  The good stuff sinks to the bottom of the pot and the ladle usually does not get it.  The last bowlfuls are probably the best.  The chowder came thick enough and full enough of vegetables and fish and it was very nice.  Fish cakes are an Atlantic specialty.  They are mashed potato, onion, and codfish formed into patties and fried.  It was tasty, but this was a light lunch at a fairly heavy price.  Java Jack's started as a coffee shop, branched into baked goods, and finally opened its upstairs as a restaurant.


We tried to take a trail for another nature walk, but we could find only a campground so instead from there we drove up the coast to see the sights then back toward the town.  The fog started rolling back in as we drove.  We looked a couple weeks to find a place where we could get some ice cream for the evening.  However they had no size smaller than a liter.  That was more than we wanted.


In the evening we watched PRIMER, a film I have to discuss at the world science fiction convention.

07/23/09 Gros Morne, NF to L'Anse aux Meadows, NF


I really like Newfoundland but I have to say that the French names for places make themselves a pain.  Today we are going to a place whose name is three words with an apostrophe.  If we see a sign in both French and English, the French requires more words overall and more diacritical marks.  French is a high-maintenance language.


Same breakfast, different day.


We packed and headed out.  The first stop of the day is Arches Provincial Park.  It is a cropping of limestone on the water's edge.  They are worn by erosion until they are arches.  The limestone has trilobites and one visitor said he was still looking for them.  He is disappointed he has not found trilobites.  We are fining it hard enough finding moose.  We are taking the road north to another National Park, L'Anse aux Meadows.


There seems to be less worry about theft here, at least in Newfoundland than there is in New Jersey.  We see people leaving their keys in their car when they go into stores.  At gas stations you fill they car first and pay later.  It makes life a lot easier.


Next stop is the Port Au Choix National Historic Site of Canada.  This was a burial ground from 2000BC to 1300BC.  It was discovered in 1967 and new digs were made in 1997 where people had lived.  The burial ground really gave a history in the ground of the peoples who had lived in this area.


It started raining as we approached the site.  This has for thousands of years been a good area for hunting seal and caribou and for fishing.  Hunting and gathering people came to settle in the area 2500 years or so ago.  There were five waves of people coming.


The Maritime Archaic Indians came first or the fishing.  They are now described as a burial cult, but that is just because they had a burial grounds and people were apparently buried with a ceremony.


Next came Paleoeskimos who liked the cold environment.  They were in the land from 2800-1900 years ago.


The third wave were the Dorset 2000-1300 years ago.  A big attraction for them was hunting the seals.  They lived in larger groups.


More recently came Indians now called Beothuks who wanted hunting.  They used stone tools.  They arrived six to seven hundred years ago and the last one died in 1829.


The last wave came about 1600 AD when the French and English came and mostly were attracted by fish, especially cod.


There is a walk to the Philip's Garden, where the archeological dig took place.  We walked out and saw what the land looked like, but there was nothing to see that said that there was a dig that took place there.


We were ready for lunch so we tried the Anchor Cafe in town.  I was expecting good fish chowder and the rest might be good if I were lucky.  We shared a bowl of fish chowder and an "Ultimate Fish Dinner."  Evelyn was not keen on the fish chowder, but I liked it.  The fish dinner included pan fried cod, fried cod tongue (yes, cod tongue is a local delicacy), salmon, halibut, scallops, steamed shrimp and mussels, potato, and cole slaw.  It was just a sampler platter, but I thought it was very good.  Perhaps it was the best meal so far this trip.  From there it was a little more than three hours to L'Anse aux Meadows.


Unfortunately the clouds are never far away right now and it clouded up as we drove.  That made what would have been some spectacularly blue lakes look just gray.  But further north we got some nice scenery.


We are staying at a Bed and Breakfast (B&B).


Viking Nest B&B, Rte 436, L'Anse aux Meadows, NF,

--This is a B&B as opposed to a motel

--Running the place is Thelma Hedderson

--Our room has a toilet in the room separated by a plastic bamboo-like curtain

--Room also has a sink

--No shoes are allowed in the house

--The furniture is fancy

--Breakfast menu choices must be made out the night before

--Not served what requested twice (muffin, the berry muffins are quite good)

--Thelma takes pride in her berry jellies.

--Dinners are available at extra cost

--Bedroom is a little small and cramp.

--Large screen TV in family room, but one hesitates to use it with other people in the house

--Wireless network much easier to use than other places


We arrived at the B&B about 5:20.  The wireless network came us very easily and I got some work done on the PC.  Some was preparing for the convention and some was checking news, and podcasts.  After a couple hours we went for a walk.  The town is on the water and very picturesque in a pretentious sort of way.  I got lots of pictures of dilapidated buildings with the water as background.


Then we came back and worked on logs.  We sat in the living room and listened to classical music on the cable television.


07/24/09 L'Anse aux Meadows, NF': L'Anse aux Meadow


Well it is a little funny using a toilet that just has a (somewhat see-through) plastic curtain with Evelyn about two feet away.  In most other ways this seems to be a luxurious setting but having a toilet in a small converted closet is note really all that convenient.  Bathroom noises really require more of a barrier to sound.  I probably am a little uptight.  It was just the way I was raised I think.


When Evelyn got up to use the bathroom I turned the iPod up very loud.


National Public Radio reports that in Italy a bridal bouquet brought down a plane.  The idea was that that instead of the bride throwing the bouquet it would be dropped from a plane.  However it got sucked into the engine causing a fire that bought down the plane.


We had filled out a breakfast menu selection form the night before.  Breakfast was a little late, but was well made.  Thelma makes her own bread.  I had scrambled eggs and ham.  There were four kinds of berry jelly made for local berries.  Bakeapple, partridgeberry, squashberry, blackberry.


Our site for the day is the L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site.  This is the only Norse settlement that has been found in the New World.  The Norse sagas say that Leif Erikson found the New World and that the Norse had a settlement called Vinland in the New World five centuries before Columbus sailed.  But they was no proof that this was more than just a story.  Vinland, which means Wineland (or Meadowland).  Certainly if it were Wineland it would mean that the settlers found grapes.  It was thought that it could be anywhere on the east coast of North America.  But probably not as far north as Newfoundland.  Helge Ingstad thought it might be that far north.


Helge Ingstad was a retired Norwegian lawyer who married Anne Stine, an archeologist.  Together they decided that Vinland might well have been in Newfoundland or Labrador, even if it was too cold for vines.  A lot of the description in the Vinland Saga seemed to fit Newfoundland including peninsulas and a 40-mile beach.  But to track it using information in a saga was like trying to find Troy using the Iliad or King Solomon's mines using the Bible as a guide.  But in 1960 they looked for Vinland.


They checked out the two sides of the Strait of Belle Isle Newfoundland and sailed north.  At each port they would ask if there were any old ruins.  It is just frustration and disappointment.  When they got to the north of Newfoundland they found someone, a fisherman named George Decker, who told them no there were no unusual ruins, but there were some Indian mounds.  Helge asked to see the mounds and quickly realized that these were not Indian buildings.  Anne said that these were European ruins.  This was a European settlement.


So what they would need was funding for an excavation.  But they were competing with a lot of other really worthwhile projects.  They could get no funding in Europe.  They tried the National Geographic and got a reaction a little more like "When can you start?"  So in National Geographic Technicolor pictures they uncovered Vinland.  Well, no they didn't.  It was a temporary Norse settlement, basically a repair shop for Norse ships.  But it was Norse.  And the Norse were in North America five centuries before Columbus.


It all started with Erik the Red being outlawed.  His whole family had been exiled from Norway for murders and now Erik was exiled from Iceland for the same reason.  Erik went west and founded a community in a land he dubbed Greenland in the hopes of making it more inviting.  His community was to last there for 500 years.


A seaman named Bjarni had hear his father was in Greenland and went to find him.  His boat was trapped by fog and storm.  It was blown past Greenland to new lands even further west.  He sailed back east and found Greenland.  He told Erik the Red that there were lands still further to the west.  Erik never went himself, but he sent his son Leif Erikson around 1000AD.


Erikson made four voyages.  He had his brother Thorvald make a voyage.  At first Thorvald's people made friends with what they called "Skraelings" and we would call Indians.  A conflict arouse for which each side still blames the other.  Provoked or not the Norsemen attacked the Skraelings.  The Skraelings camouflaged a boat with seal fur to make it look like an iceberg.  Using this they sneaked up on the Norse village and attacked.  Thorvald was killed.  The Norse retreated and never set up a permanent presence in these lands to the west.


This is the only preserved Viking site, thou it really was mostly a repair base for Viking boats.  The bogs of this area had iron that could be purified and made into nails to repair ships.  Nails were very precious and perhaps only about 100 nails were made here, but that was enough to make founding the site worthwhile.  That was about 7 pounds of nails.  They collected bog ore and cooked it at about 2000 degrees Fahrenheit.  That melted out the ore.  It was hammered and shaped into nails.


Interesting fact: the glacier was so heavy on Newfoundland that it pushed it down into Earth's crust.  With that pressure relieved the island is sill rising and faster than the oceans are rising due to global warming.


The L'Anse aux Meadow site begins with a film explaining the site and a museum exhibit about the Vikings and their incursion into Newfoundland.  You get a tour of the site of the excavations, though you see only the outlines of the findings.  To preserve the site for future study they have buried it in sand and then covered it with dirt and grew grass.  Ground had preserved it for nearly 1000 years so they are trying the same thing themselves.  Finally they have some reconstructions of Viking buildings complete with guides dressed for the period explaining things.


L'anse aux Meadows is really isolated.  There are no restaurants recommended in any of the guides.  For lunch we selected Northern Delight Restaurant.  It was a small family sort of restaurant.  We order boiled lobster.  I think we both enjoyed it.  It is a struggle to eat but rewarding.


Now there is absolutely nothing to do in town but the park as we had seen it in the morning, so we went back to take the tour a second time, figuring that a different guide would give us different information.  So we took the tour again.  The second guide did have different information, but we thought considerably less.  We did however have a long conversation with her when the tour was over.


On advantage to coming back to the Center is that the sky cleared up and so we could see the site in better light.  It seems to rain pretty much every day, but it is rarely cloudy all day.


I invented an origami figure that was a Viking Boat.  I folded one for Thelma, our host.


Mine has a dragonhead.  My understanding was that Viking boats did have dragonheads, but no boat with a head has survived.  Apparently that is mostly true.  The dragonheads were removable.  They were intended to scare away friendly and protective spirits in a port that was to be attacked.  But you do not want to scare away your own port's protective spirits.  For this reason the dragonheads were removable.  The boats that have been restored may well have had dragonheads that have just become separated.


We had arranged for dinner at the B&B.  We had some nice salmon, some OK shrimp salad, and some rather uninteresting conversation.  I sat next to another guest who talked to me about taxes, a subject I know little about.


Back at the room there was a nice sunset.  We wrote and went to bed about 10.


07/25/09 L'Anse aux Meadows: Iceberg and Whale


Again a nice breakfast and a nice conversation.  One of the things we learned at breakfast is that there is a big iceberg currently that had floated into Goose Cove.  It was also thought there was a Minke Whale also in that cove.


We went to Goose Cove to find the iceberg had beached itself and was slowly dying.  The waterline on the berg was well um in the air.  Apparently much of the top had melted already so ice that was below the waterline had floated upward.  We took pictures from a fairly close vantage point.  A little while later Evelyn spotted a fin above the water for just a moment or two.  Every once in a while in the next five minutes the fin would show itself for a few seconds and then sink again.  Eventually it was behind some rocks and we could not see it.  But we probably had seen a whale.


As for the iceberg we come miles to see what the snowplow leaves at the end of my driveway.  But the context is everything, I guess.


When we got back to the car we each had a cookie that was wrapped in cellophane.  My package opened cleanly.  Evelyn's tore.  I told her that there was a right way and a wrong way to open this kind of cellophane pack.  I could show her the right way.  She declined.  And she is right.  Life is way too short to learn the right way to do everything.  You have to pick and choose the things you learn to do well.  Most of us go through life half-assed.


We were told that St. Anthony Fishing Point was a good place to watch for whales.  It was a great place to watch, but not very good for seeing whales.  The sea vistas were beautiful, but not graced by whales.


We had lunch at The Lightkeeper, a restaurant at Fishing Point.  We shared a bowl of Seafood Chowder.  I have no taste in Seafood Chowder.  I like nearly every one I try.  This was nice also.  We also had Scallops and Fries in a Basket.  Scallops were supposed to be a house specialty.  I have no idea how these could be a specialty, because they were mediocre.


We spent the afternoon going to little coves and a lookout point (Great Braha), sightseeing and taking an obscene number of pictures.  They all fit on a little chip.  Pictures are essentially free.


I guess what I feel makes a good picture is a (somewhat) dilapidated building on the water with a boat dry-docked nearby.  This is my stereotypical view of this part of the world and maybe that just reinforces the stereotype.  In any case I am getting lots of pictures.


There is not a lot that I can write about that, but it made for a very nice day.


We arrived back at the B&B about 5.  We talked to newly arriving guests.  Not much done in the evening.  Work on logs.  Answer a little email.  Read. The last couple of nights I have been watching sunsets.  You get some beautiful skyscapes.  Last night sunset was at 9:12PM.


07/26/09 L'Anse aux Meadows, NF to Channel-Point-aux-Basques, NF


Well this is our last morning in the B&B.  One of the other couples was one we had talked to the previous night.  He had said that he was a farmer from Central Texas.  When the Army posted him to Germany it was the first time he had been away from home.  Now he loves to travel.  He had been to every state but Colorado and Hawaii.  Where he really wanted to go was New York City.  What did he really want to see?  Well, he did not want to see the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building.  He wanted to be in the audience for David Letterman.  He also wanted to be in the audience for the Morning Show.


Not much to report for the day but evergreen forests, blue lakes, and maritime scenery.


It seems every hundred yards or two we hit a short stretch of gravel road.  They are ripping up the highway to lay pipes for drainage.  It gives us a bumpy ride.  They will be repaving but for now it is a hard ride and it slows the car.


As we moved south we drove into the clouds, which made it less colorful.  Still there were lots of pine trees and rocky Northern Appalachian Mountains.  We really were just following route 430 back to Rocky Harbor, the town we stayed in Gros Morne.  Since Rocky Harbor is the biggest town for miles around, that was where we stopped for lunch.  This time we tried Earle's.  I ordered Moose Stew (just to try it).  Evelyn ordered a Jiggs Dinner.  Both are local specialties.  A Jiggs Dinner is salt beef, cooked cabbage, boiled potato, cooked carrot, peas pudding, turnip, and I am not sure what else.  It is a lot on a plate, though not a lot that is appealing to me personally.  It has a definite Irish flavor.  Salt Beef is like Corned Beef but is saltier and fattier.  It seems to me that in the newspaper cartoon Maggie and Jiggs, Jiggs loved Corned Beef and Cabbage.  This meal could be named for him.  The meat was very fatty.  It is considered to be very fine eating locally.  One Canadian on our first ferry really said to get it if we possibly could.  I did not care for it.


[PS. a Jiggs Dinner was indeed named for the character from Maggie and Jiggs.]


The afternoon drive was rainy and foggy.  Our last few days of luck with the weather have run out.


St. Christopher Hotel, Channel-Point-aux-Basques, NF

--On hill with view

--A good, clean, efficient, comfortable hotel

--No Wi-Fi, but free data connection in room

--Sink in different room from tub and toilet, convenient

--Genuine thermostat with temperature, but not easy to use

--Key hard to use in lock

--Ice only on first floor

--TV has easy to use input jacks

--Laundry reasonably priced

--Mini-bar, but no refrigerator

--Problem for men only: toilet seat does not stay up without being held


In the evening we washed clothes.  We tend to be a little paranoid and stand by the washer the entire time it runs.  It took two hours to do two loads.  I insisted on being the one to do the standing.  Evelyn does too much of work as it is.


While I was there Evelyn was in the room finding out about the ferry.  The is Marine Atlantic and so far their performance is exactly like when we went in the other direction and they landed about 10 hours late.  The leaving time was supposed to be 10:30 AM and already it has slipped to 2 PM.  On a whim I looked up Marine Atlantic on Google to see what other people thought of them.  Very simply the public generally hates them.  They pretty much have a monopoly and have really let service slip.  They run late and they have accidents.  Someone told Evelyn they used to be fairly good, but over the last few years they do not have a good attitude.


Back at the room we watched a little TV and went to bed.


07/27/09 Channel-Point-aux-Basques, NF to Baddeck, NS: Ferry


As of now check-in time with the ferry is 2 PM.  That is troublingly like the last time we took the Marine Atlantic ferry.  On the positive side people at the hotel desk had heard about the ferry we took last week so it cannot be an every-day thing.


We went to a Tim Horton's for breakfast.  I had a sausage egg sandwich and hot chocolate.  Sadly the scenery was not as impressive as it was when I woke up in the parking lot not far from here after our last ferry trip set us loose at midnight on foggy, moose-infested roads.


Well the ferry is late, but not perhaps not a bad as eight days ago.  We check on it every half hour or so.  It is nice to have Internet access in the room.  This is the first trip in which Internet access has been so available.  I suppose it is not really roughing it, but we are not trying to rough it.


We got to the ferry dock about 11, half an hour early.  The agricultural inspector checked we were not taking foods out.  He had already confiscated a 50-pound bag of potatoes this morning.  We got directed to line 7.  There are lines of cars on the dock waiting to board.  We parked and went to look at the ferry terminal.  Not a lot interesting.  A sign says, "The most important part of every voyage is your safety and comfort."  The schedule comes in roughly at #18.


Back in the car we wait to be told to drive on the ferry.  I try to feed the seagulls some cereal, but whenever they come close, the kids from the car to my right come stamping along to scare away the birds.  People just don't appreciate the grace of a seagull.  People think they are flying rats.  Dreyfus on Devil's Island saw glorious birds that lifted his spirits.  After he was released he found out his glorious birds were seagulls.


Well, about 1:30 PM the call came to drive onboard the ferry.  We did.  The ferry looks just like the last one and we are sitting in just about the same place.


The ferry left fairly promptly at 2PM.  We sat in the aft section with the restaurant.  I worked on a presentation for the science fiction convention.


I got a large submarine sandwich and a small chocolate milk and found the price to be surprisingly reasonable.  It was $9.09.  The first ferry seemed to really overcharge for food.  But here they had Mr. Sub provide the food and it was not too expensive.


Evelyn was not comfortable sitting essentially over the engine.  That caused vibration.  We moved forward in the boat.  This is not as easy as it sounds.  A lot of people go to watch movies but leave belongings to hold their seat.  The boat announcer asks people not to do that, but they do anyway.  If you do not place a claim on a seat early on almost all the seats are claimed and about half are empty.  Now the family across from us are reserving their place and are going someplace else.  But that is still a blessing.  They have two children who have five modes.  They yell indignantly; they fight; they cry loudly: they eat: they sleep.  They are neither hungry nor tired.


We did find a seat at a table opposite a man who was reading.  After a while his wife came along and we had a conversation.  How long had they been traveling?  14 years.  They have a mobile home and have not had a fixed address for 14 years.  Sounds like a good life.


Right now it is 6:50 PM and we are getting in late, but at least the time, about 7:10.


We expected an hour drive to the motel but it was a very picturesque half-hour.  At. Ann's Motel is right on a lake.  The room looks very nice.


St. Ann's Motel & Cottage, Baddeck

--Nice pleasant picturesque motel but not dealing well with technology

--View is very beautiful.  The business card calls it "a view with a room"

--Convenient input jacks on the TV

--Room pretty, but a little small

--Shortage of electrical outlets

--Small refrigerator

--CPAP had no outlet to plug in.  Ran an extension cord to bathroom

--Must get ice from office desk and have owner apportion it

--Park right by front door of room

--Easy to get to just off Rt. 105

--Room hot (25C) and there is no air conditioner.  There is a small table fan of limited value.

--The television has cable but with a horrible interface that makes it almost impossible to tell what is on or get to a specific station.  I kept getting stuck on stations that told me I had to subscribe to that station and which would not let me get off that page

--Free Wi-Fi is available but does not reach to some of the rooms, e.g. 7.  The desk said I could use my PC in the office.  Walked to the office at 7AM to read my email.  Everything was locked up.  Returned at 8:05.  All is still locked.  I tried to just hold the PC and use the Wi-Fi.  It came up but was passworded.  We had gotten no password.


Evelyn did not have a meal on the boat so we went to the next-door Lobster Galley.  Evelyn had Fish and Chips, I had seafood chowder, and we shared a plate of mussels.  The fish and chips was just OK (11.99), the Seafood Chowder was good but barely more than a cup (for $8.99).  The mussels was the best deal for $8.99.


Back at the room Evelyn was very tired.  She went right to bed.  I set up the DVD player and the PC.  The room was about 25C (77F).  I went to the office to get ice for ice water and asked about the Wi-Fi and temperature.  As I said above, the motel provides Wi-Fi, but only to those close enough to the office to use it.  We are not among the lucky.  There is a fan for the heat.  It improved things a little.  To cool off I put on a wet T-shirt.  That is a technique that has stood me in good stead through our travels.


07/28/09 Baddeck, NS: the Cabot Trail


It is pronounced baDECK.


My watch battery died overnight.


I woke about 5:30.  I woke up several times in the night but could always put myself to sleep quickly with a Walkman with a cassette.  The cassette plays for half an hour, but I hear only the first few minutes.  Each time I wake up I flip the cassette.  So I go back and forth between two stories, just hearing the first part.  This morning I bit the bullet and fast-forwarded to hear the ends of the stories and I will put a new cassette in tonight.  A cassette lasts me three or four days.  I could really use the iPod the same way, and have, but the earphones on my iPod are a little more painful.  On the Walkman I have a pillow speaker and I do not want to keep switching earphones.  When I do go to sleep listening to the iPod I always listen to the last entry in a playlist so the iPod puts itself to sleep when it is done.


The view out our window would have been spectacular but the day is overcast.  We are just feet away from a bay, St. Ann's Bay.  When I looked out this morning there were two ducks and a heron not far from our window.


7AM I went to the office to read my email (since the free Wi-Fi does not reach to the room) and the office was locked up.


About 8:10 we left and the morning clouds had burned off.  Today we are following the Cabot Trail around the northern peninsula of Cape Breton Island.  We get some nice forest of the sort one pictures as going with Canada.  We stop to get pictures of geese on a lake.


We stop again, this time for breakfast at a place called The Clucking Hen.  It looks good with six or so cars in the lot, but it still turns out we are the only customers.


The Cabot Trail is named for John Cabot who explored this area in 1497--just five years after Columbus came to the New World.  Most of the land still looks the same--forest, but we are on the part that has roads.  One thing that seems surprisingly common is motorcycle gangs in black.  Sort of like Hell's Angels but more civilized.  The roads seem to have a lot of motorcycles.


We were told that this drive was no good if it is cloudy.  Today started cloudy and ugly.  By the time we were sightseeing it was beautiful and sunny.  The water from the Gulf of St. Lawrence is a rich blue.  The trees are green; the rocks are gray, blue water, blue sky.  Very pleasant.


I climbed over a car barrier to get to a view.  I banged my knee and it hurt badly.  OK it was my mistake and my pain.  That is fine.  I was willing to just say it wasn't my fault and it wasn't the barrier's fault.  That would have worked when I was 15.  My knee does not want to forget the whole thing.  It seems to bear a grudge.  It wants to mark the site with a big bruise and continue to hurt.  My body used to just let an incident like this pass and go on with life.  Now it wants to kick up a fuss.  For one little knock!  Do you believe it?  I guess as you get older your body overreacts to injury.


As we drive we see signs that say "whale watch efficiency units."  What is a whale watch efficiency unit?  I figure it is whale sightings per person per hour.  The scenery is recombinations of the same elements.  Trees, blue water, gray rocks, blue sky.  We stop frequently to take pictures and I offer to take pictures for other people.  I take a picture of a French-speaking couple on motorcycles.  After we see them repeatedly at one stop after another.  They are from Quebec.


It clouds up and clears a few times.  Weather comes and goes very quickly here.  Mostly it is a nice day.


At one point we stop at an overlook with water below.  The water is speckled with whitecaps, but whitecaps come and go and do not reappear near the same place they were before.  It is whales that do that.  On the shore there is a house and just off the shore there are three whales visible with my binoculars.  The water is blue; the splash is white; the gray is whale.  People want to see whales and it just happens that it is very easy to lend them binoculars and tell them just where to look.  So my good deed for the day is to stay there about 20 minutes lending my binoculars and telling people where to look.  Other than the one Minke at Goose Cove we have had bad luck seeing whales.  This sort of made up for it.  In fact there were probably 50 whales or more down there but for most I could see only the blue and the white.  For a few we could see the whales themselves.


The next stop was higher up and trees blocked the view of the whales so it was just scenic.  There was a tour bus there and two women there was a car from New Jersey!  What???  A New Jersey Car!!!  I felt like my license plate made me a celebrity.  There were apparently some women from New Jersey who wanted to see someone from near home.  One knew where Old Bridge was and said she would think of us next time she passed it on route 18.


We stopped for lunch at a place recommended in the Lonely Planet, the Seafood Stop.  We shared mussels, seafood chowder, and 1/2 lb crab.  This is the second meal where the best deal was the mussels.  We got a lot for about $9.  Seafood chowder is more watery and less creamy in Nova Scotia than it is in Newfoundland.  Still good, but neither as good nor as generous in portions.  With the crab we got a pick and a new implement that was like a surgeon's shears.  I guess you cut away the shell.  It might have worked well in theory but the hinge was not tight enough so the blades torqued rather than cutting.  Crab is hard to eat even with good implements.


The loop that is the Cabot Trail still had a long way to go but the rest was not very scenic.  We got back to the room about six.  I took the PC to the front office to use the Wi-Fi.  I had to find the password to get in.  The owner, who is a little sour, told me that he had told me the password yesterday and I must have forgotten it, but I am pretty sure he had not.


I got in, but the Wi-Fi connection came and went and work was slow going.  It took me an hour to do what would have probably taken me 10 minutes at home.  I returned to the room and gave the PC over to Evelyn who took it to the office.  Meanwhile I took a shower.  Evelyn came back after 45 minutes frustrated.  The Wi-Fi was just not working for her.  The woman who ran the place said that the lines were not very good.  I felt a little guilty that I was able to get work done and Evelyn was not.


We could have gone out to eat or snacked in the room.  There would have been a time I would have insisted on going out, but I am more health conscious now and suggested we skip dinner and eat nuts in the room.  I worked on my log.  The cable TV interface is useless so we watched a DVD before bed.  The film was CITY SLICKERS, which we got for $5C at a Wal-Mart.  Evelyn was only half-interested until the film came on, but the writing is good and she enjoyed the film at least as much as I did.


I put a cassette in my Walkman and went to sleep to it.  I have a radio program on each side of the cassette.  If I wake up I flip the cassette and repeat.  This means I can use the same cassette for days.  I hear the beginning many times and sometimes do not get to the later parts of the story, but the sleep is the main thing.  It works fairly well.


07/29/09 Baddeck, NS to Alma NB


We got a flock of geese on the bay early this morning.  I got some pictures out our back window.  We checked out and Evelyn checked her email from the car parked in front of the office.


We drove I, to Baddeck for breakfast and ate at the Highwheeler.  We had Bagel and Smoked Salmon.  I had an orange juice, which I decided to take some time and savor.  I have my own way of doing that.  I use a straw.  I fold the straw and/or bite it.  In fact I do what I can to restrict flow.  I then place the end of the straw against the tip of my tongue.  I get just a little fluid through the straw and it bathes my tongue in the little bit I do get.  The result is that the juice is filling and I get a lot of flavor.  It has the effect that I feel I got a great deal more beverage than I actually have.


The Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site is devoted to the life of the famous inventor, especially in the last 37 years of his life when he continued a steady stream of experimental inventions.


Bell, as a lifelong goal, wanted to get deaf to speak.  He early on worked on ways to visualize sound trying to give the deaf a way to see how their pronunciation was wrong.  As part of his work to make speech visible he compiled list of sounds of speech and catalogued how each was created. Gave symbols to each sound to make it clear how to make them.


One of his students, Mable, became his wife.  In 1871 went to teach at the Boston School for the Deaf.  While he taught he continued his experiments creating devices.  The telegraph had been around for several years at this time and several people were looking at how it might be developed and improved.  Meanwhile von Helmholtz transmitted tone over a wire.  Bell came upon the fact that plucking a transmitter reed sent a tone sound over wires, converting the tone to a wave of electrical current, which could be translated back to the tone.  This led him to invent the telephone in 1876.


Bell did not want to be the man who invented the telephone and then did nothing ever more.  He moved to Canada for the cooler climate and did work at Brantford, Ontario and later Baddeck, Nova Scotia.


He remained in creative frenzy the rest of his life, but while many devices he pioneered were impressive, none had the lasting value of the telephone.


Bell invented the photophone, a device that could carry sound on a light beam. He dubbed this his own greatest invention.  He became interested in a structure of six metal rods welded into a tetrahedron.  This makes a structure that is both lightweight and completely rigid.  Add three more rods to make a second tetrahedron and you have a bigger structure that is also rigid and lightweight.  Many of his designs after that used this idea to make structures light weight.


He worked on kites wanting to see if using his tetrahedron structures he could make ones strong enough to fly even as he increased the size.  He succeeded in making a kite that could carry a man.  The next step was making a powered flier.  He was an early pioneer in aviation as one of a group of men he organized to work on powered flight.


Then he saw a European hydrofoil.  The same principle that lifts an airplane wing works much better in water because of the denser medium.  It can be used to lift a boat mostly out of the water.  Get the hull of a boat out of the water and you reduce friction.  Hydrofoils can move much faster on water than conventional boats.  Bell had his team build one.  When it broke up in use and fell apart he built a second one.  It too was not strong enough and was ready to try a third design when WWI started.  Bell thought that the hydrofoil had military significance.  So he stopped work on it.  Why?  He was in Canada and Canada was at war, but he considered himself a United States citizen.  The US at that point was neutral so he felt out of loyalty to his country he had to stay neutral.  When the US entered the war he resumed work.


His hydrofoil went 118 km/hr, or about 73 mph.  This was the water speed record for the following ten years.  The military was very interested.  Bell was ready to manufacture his high-speed boats.  But the military was not ready to order any and did little until the war ended.  Then they lost interest entirely.  Bell was disappointed.  But by now he was an old man.  The hydrofoil was his last hurrah.


Bell feared he would be remembered only for the telephone.  This museum was founded to show off his Canada work.  Bell's other work really does not seem to have had an obvious lasting impact.  But how many invention have?  When I signed the guestbook I put an asterisk next to our names and said in the comment field, formerly of Bell Laboratories.


They had a 15-minute film FOR YOU MR. BELL that talked about Bell's career.  Ironically the film was heavy on style that got in the way of its communication.


To show his breadth Bell was also one of the founders of the Nation Geographic.  His lifelong passion, however, was in his words "communication between people isolated by misfortune."


In Wycocomagh we passed a bookstore called Chasing Tales.  We stopped, but did not buy anything.  On the way out of town we passed a house that had about fifty stand-up pictures on their lawn, each with a different character from The Simpsons.  We took some pictures.


We stopped a Wal-Mart in Antigonish to look for a watch.  A Casio watch had all the features I wanted and was cheaper than breakfast was today.  So I have a new watch.  The whole watch transaction took about five minutes.  "They have one.  It has the right features.  We'll take it."  Inexpensive, useful features, nice display.  I like Casio.


By the time we got to Moncton I knew almost everything about how to run the watch.  I do have a problem with world time.


We stopped at a Michael's to pick up origami paper for the convention.  Also went to Montana's for ribs.  They have a special deal where when we bought dinner there two weeks ago we got a coupon good for a free entree.  Well we share one entree so we got a free dinner.  We made sure to order soft drinks and then left a big tip.  Also the ribs were not hot enough.  The waitress offered to send them back, but I was paying for two drinks only so felt guilty.  I ate them under heated.


The problem with my watch is that it was set to Tokyo time and then the hours were changed for the local time zone by Wal-Mart.  Believe it or not, that is not the correct procedure.  The correct thing to do is to reset the time zone, not the hour.  The difference shows up on the World Time interface.  Watches have gotten complicated, but it has to be done only once in the life of the watch.  This watch is no more than a second off of the time on our GPS, which is set by satellite and is very precise.  Just a few years ago most clocks you saw were accurate enough, but could off by a minute or two.  Now my Mac, my TV cable, and my two atomic clocks vary over a total range of no more than two or three seconds, perhaps less.  Timekeepers have become a lot more precise and exact.  On the other hand when radio stations started broadcasting to the Internet, not only did that have delays that would make the time more than a minute off, but even on the radio WNYC seems to be about 30 seconds slow.  The 8:40 puzzle on Sunday mornings starts almost exactly at 8:40:30.


Meanwhile we were having a record hot day.  In some places it was 7C hotter than the previous record.  That is about 12F hotter than the record in British Columbia.  This may be the hottest Canada has ever recorded.


It was about 7:20 when we got to our motel.


Fundy Park Motel

--Fridge and microwave

--Wireless does not reach to room (PS repaired while we were visiting)

--Cannot turn off overhead lights without turning off fan.  Had to remove bulbs

--Rooms furnished like cabins

--Main bed and two bunk beds

--Only four channels on TV

--DVD library in office

--No phone in room

--Cabin service (i.e. they do not make the beds)


Evelyn went over by the office to read email.  Later she came back and I took the PC.  It started to rain so I returned to the room.  Evelyn had set up a Marx Brothers movie, THE BIG STORE.  It is one of their weakest films.


07/30/09 Alma, NB: Bay of Fundy


I was awake at 4 AM and I saw a flash.  Oh it must be raining.  I listened and did not hear thunder or rain.  Then I saw another flash.  My God.  Isn't that a neurological problem?  Is it a brain tumor?  Then I started to hear thunder.  Thank God.  I'm saved.  The intensity of the storm that followed was a thing to behold.


So far we have been to all the "New" provinces.  We have been to Nova Scotia (New Scotland), Newfoundland.  (Does it ever become just Foundland?)  And now it is New Brunswick.


Breakfast was in the town of Alma at the Harbor View Restaurant.  It was ham and eggs and hot chocolate.  They had free Wi-Fi so we read our email.  Not a whole lot new of interest.


Well the rain had stopped for a while and we went to Alma Beach where you see the effect of the tides on the Bay of Fundy.  This bay is known for the highest tides in the world.  The bay is shaped like a funnel, which pushes the water in with greater force.  In addition the rocking of the water in the bay gets in resonance with the Ocean.  There are 15 meter tides at their highest.


We took some pictures and were planning to return later to see it after the tide had gone out.  Besides the tides the park offers mostly just nature trails.  We went out to Wolfe Point and looked at some of the scenery and took a trail a short distance.  But then we realized we were getting away from shelter.  If it started to rain hard it could have destroyed some of what w carried like books and a camera.  We returned and mostly explored by car.


We returned to Alma Beach and walked around on what had been under water before.  It wasn't really deep before, but it was a little like walking on the bottom of the bay.  After about a 20-minute walk we headed back, picking up some litter to toss when we got back to the parking lot.


We did some more driving around on some foggy trails, but it was not all that picturesque under the circumstances.  They just look dark and dismal.  We stopped to see a waterfall.  Just as we were headed for the trail it started raining.  I had to make a comfort stop, so I told Evelyn I would meet her in the car.  Gawd what a smell.  This place had.  These trail restrooms are the stuff of nightmare.


I go to the car just moments before the waterfall seems to have found us.  This is a real washout of a day.  Well, at the Bay of Fundy the main attraction is seeing the tide go out.  No kidding that is it.  If we were going to lose a day, this would probably be the one.  I just hope the rest of our days are not rainy.


We drove back to the motel in a really heavy rain.  It was hard to see through the windshield.  We had to wait for about ten minutes in front of our room before the rain let up enough to get back in the room.  It was just about nine feet from the car but the rain was a downfall.  So at 1PM we were back in our room waiting for the rain to stop.


Unfortunately this meant we missed seeing how far out the tide really went.  Perhaps we can see tomorrow.  So in the best part of the day we were in the room watching THE NATURAL.  The next interesting view is the tide all the way in about 7PM.  At about 4 we got in the car and drove a few feet over until we were in front of the motel office.  And we read our email.  I hate to spend so much time on the PC, but a financial matter came up with our investment advisor in Arizona and we had to provide him with some information.  So we really have a good reason.


At about 4:30 we drove to town and visited a used book store.  Then we went looking for a place to eat dinner.  We did entirely too much farbling (partially my fault for not being too willing to eat anywhere).  There was a fancy restaurant, The Tides, and there were lobster shops, which would probably have been cost effective but do not offer a good place to eat.  They are mostly stores and not restaurants, but they do have picnic tables.


We ended up at The Tides and are splitting a bowl of seafood chowder and an order of Tides (Seafood) Pasta.  We are sitting in the restaurant waiting to be served.  Across the way there is a boy about 13 who has ordered lobster for the first time and not sure how one eats a lobster.  Evelyn trained me originally to eat lobster, but I think that now I am better than she is.  Better means get more to eat from a lobster.  She is the faster eater, but the race is not necessarily to the swift but to whoever gets the most food.  She is still better than me with crab.


The meal was quite good.  The seafood chowder was creamier here than in Nova Scotia and more like in Newfoundland.  But I am generalizing from too few examples.  And the portion size was more generous as it was in Newfoundland.  Anyway the price was a little high, as it usually is on the tourist circuit, but it was a good meal.


Then was the third trip of the day to Alma Beach.  The land we walked over before was now covered with sea.  It is a little amazing to see the difference, which is enhanced by the very shallow slope of the sea floor here.  If the fall is only one inch in 20 horizontal feet, then when the tide raises the water that one inch the tide will come in 20 feet.  We stood watching the tide come in with Evelyn taking a picture every five minutes or so so we get a sort of time-lapse view.  A rock that was not touched at all by the waves is touched, and then surrounded by waves.  Then the water is up enough to surround it even when the waves recede.  Then it is engulfed.  Finally it is under water.  (OK, I have to admit that while scientific phenomena usually engross me, the fact that tides raise the water level is low on my list of amazing phenomena.  I suppose it is interesting that the tide coming in is observable.)


By now it was nearing 8PM.  In the room we watched THE GUNS OF NAVARONE.


07/31/09 Alma, NB: Hopewell Rocks


While I was on the trip I was told that at the convention I would be on a panel discussing trends in time Travel stories.  That is one week from today.  So at five in the morning I was thinking about "Back There" a Twilight Zone in which a time traveler tries to save Lincoln.  One would think that should not be possible because Lincoln did die.  It occurred to me that now is acceptable plotting since with the new theories of multiverses he could save Lincoln, because he would have crossed over to another universe.  But it does not make for a good story.  And suddenly I knew what I had to say on the panel.  Multiverses spoil time travel stories.  I even turned it into an article for the MT VOID, my newsletter.  That sets my mind at ease.


The day opened brighter than yesterday, but still foggy at the motel.  It is just thinner fog and more likely to burn off.  Hopefully today will be a better day.


I took the PC out to read my email in the foggy dew.


We went back to the Harbor View Restaurant for a good breakfast.  Again I had ham and eggs and hot chocolate.  Evelyn used Wi-Fi for her email.


Our goal for the day is the Hopewell rocks.  These run along the beach at the Bay.  They are primarily sandstone.  The water hits them hard each high tide eroding them below the high water level.  The top looks like regular rock formations, but the bases are eroded in weird shapes.  It is looks a lot like the karsts of Southeast Asia.  One walks along a beach that is under water at high tide and sees the seaweed and rocks and the strange geology, but the tides of the bay have sculpted them into bizarre shapes.


The rock comes from mountains formed in Devonian period 410m to 360M year ago.  The tides constantly wear and change the rocks.  Mi'kmaq legend tells of the origin of the high tides.  Gloodcap their god wanted the beaver to build a dam so he could use the bay as a bathtub.  A whale was not happy with the change and destroyed the tub with its tail.  It start the sloshing back and forth that continues today as the tides.  Whales and their ire seem important in local native lore.  The whales were also responsible for the odd rock formations, called here "flower pots." These were escaping slaves that the whales turned into rock.


An interpretive center tells about the geology that created the flowerpots.  I had heard of Neap tides and not known what they were.  They are really minima's in mathematical terms.  The Neap Tide is the lowest high tide.  The sun and the moon reinforce each other in creating tides.  They do that the least when the earth, the moon, and the sun are all in a line.  They do it the least when the sun and the moon are over parts of the world that are 90 degrees apart.  That is called a Neap Tide.


The rocks are tall and since there is a 35-foot change in water height between high and low tide they are in bizarre shapes blow the 35-foot line and more normal shapes above.  You walk down a hillside to the beach and then are walking in and out of caverned rocks and pillars of rock.  The rock is the main attraction.  There is a long beach front, maybe a mile, where you walk in among the rock formations.


While walking down the hill my knee started itching very badly.  I stopped twice to scratch it and it just started itching again.  I picked up the pants leg and saw three big welts.  It seems the interesting rock formations are God's gift to the local mosquito population.  You can tell they are Canadian mosquitoes because they carry little knives and forks.  My wrists itched also but I have not confirmed bites there.  And I got just the three welts on my leg right through the pants leg.  These little ladies are really good.


On the beach you see a lot of fresh living and resilient seaweed. It has pods that can be squeezed very hard but do not break.


On the way out we talked to one of the rangers (or whatever they are called).  Elle was her name and we got on the subject of animal intelligence.  It was fairly interesting.  Then we climbed the hill a bit.  Stopped to share a bottle of Coke.  Finished climbing the hill and climbed down for a second beach.  I think this one was called Demoiselle.  The second beach had mostly a view of the mud beds left by low tide.  It had much less in the way of rock formations.  One of them looked like an elephant and I am sure it is called Elephant Rock.  Wherever you have erosions making arches somebody will name one Elephant Rock.  Going down to the beaches is fine, but it is a slow trudge to get up the hill again.


Hopewell Rocks was not part of our original plan, but a tourist from Texas we talked to in Halifax recommended them and they were worth seeing.


We wanted to stop at one recommended restaurant for lunch, but they were closed this weekend because there was a concert.  In Alma we had been recommended Collins Lobster Ltd.  This is a "lobster shop."  They sell almost exclusively boiled lobsters.  They go for $9/pound.  No metric system here.  We got a lobster that was almost three pounds and proceeded to the picnic tables behind to consume it with just a borrowed fork and a lobster pick.  It is really good eating.  There was more than enough for two.  In fact I thing we would have done better with two pounds.  But we ate it all slightly to the point of nausea.  But if you thought eating BBQ ribs barbaric, try eating a lobster as finger food.


I think that was the most lobster I ever ate at one sitting and I think we did a very good job of getting food off that thing.  Of course I made myself a little nauseated.


Back at the room we did our various e-mail and other PC actions.  They had fixed the wireless so we can get Wi-Fi from the room.  That is a great convenience.


In the evening we watched TROY.  It is hard to exaggerate Homer's words for the Trojan War.  But with CGI they actually managed to make this a big overblown production.  The story stuck pretty closely to the Iliad with acceptable revisions like removing the gods.  I knew Evelyn would have strong opinions.  I did not expect her to like it but it was good conversation fodder.


08/01/09 Alma, NB to Saint John, NB: New Brunswick Museum


Well not a lot to do this morning but write and I brought my log nearly up to date.  I got my email.  When Evelyn got up we packed and headed out.  On the way I reported that we had to take the bulbs out of the overhead light so we could run the fan at night.  Also the door had fallen off the refrigerator and had to be just put in place like a rock at the mouth of a cave.  The manager seemed to be very laid back and took all things in stride.


Identical breakfast as the two days before.  Good food.  Good price.  Filled the car.  Gas is .991 a liter.  That is about $3.45/gallon at home.


We drove to Saint John and parked in the city.  They have their Old City Market in town.  This used to be like a farmers market but now venders sell everything from artwork to toiletries.  We went by the fish vender.  He had signs defending farmed salmon and he did it himself.  He claimed it was just special interests that were telling people they should be eating wild salmon.


We bought only a small packet of a local delicacy called "Dulse."  This is a kind of seaweed.  It tastes like a salted wallet.  They are very big on combining many businesses into a single building, perhaps so people do not have to walk out into the cold winter.  Our hotel's building seems to also house a whole shopping center, a law firm, and a lot more.  There is another shopping center nearby that has the town museum.  Everything of interest seems like it is in a small gentrified area, very twee.


We were not sure what the parking situation was and since we were right at our hotel.  They checked and our room was ready early--this was about 11--so we checked in.  The Delta is a nice hotel.  However, it seems to cover a large area and getting around it requires a surprisingly lot of walking.


Delta Hotel, Saint John, New Brunswick

--I am hard on hotels and motels and in three weeks of travel this is the nearest to a perfect hotel.

--Refrigerator in room

--Widescreen TV gets TCM

--TV has input jacks but the remote does not let them be used, hard to use TV remote control

--Free Wi-Fi that works the first time and every time

--Wi-Fi has two hotel pages you have to go through before letting user in

--Free health club

--Room seems in perfect condition

--Hotel is spread out requiring a long walk to rooms

--Room has iron, ironing board, extra blanket, pool towels, and a bathrobe.

--Shortage of electrical outlets


We checked our email and freshened a bit at the room.


The New Brunswick Museum is in a complex near the complex that houses our hotel.  It is unusual to find a whole museum within what is basically a mall.  We arrived at the mall just a bit before PM.  At 1PM they had their tour of the whale exhibit.


47M years ago some land animal probably related to the elephant and hippopotamus returned to being a sea creature and whales came into existence.  Without need for their hind legs they went away, though most species of whale still have pelvic bones.


Most whales eat by sucking in water and blowing it out through baleen, a filter made up a hair-like fiber.  This captures krill and plankton.  Krill are tiny animals in the water and plankton is plant.


The exhibit has several whale skeletons and fiberglass mock-ups.


The two best exhibits are side-by-side.  Next to the whale exhibit is a large exhibit showing the geological history of the world.  We go from its early life as a crater pocked lifeless world, looking a lot like the moon, up to the last ice age.  There was also a tour of this exhibit a 3PM.  This was not as good a tour since the guide seems to have memorized some facts but did not know the material.  He pointed to some point as the beginning of the whale's evolution.  I said I don't believe that was the beginning of the whale's evolution.  He responded, "I don't believe it either."


Like most regional museums, it was a sort of hodgepodge of exhibits mostly connected to the area.


They had a large collection of stuffed birds and recordings of birdcalls.  They had and exhibit of the various cultures represented by the area with items like a Chinese wedding dress.  They seemed to have multiple art galleries.  They had an exhibit of a local TV station.  They had a collection of decorative arts and house furnishings.


They have a display on Maritime Shipping.  Of particular interest was an explanation of sea shanties.  These are the rhythmic songs sailors used while working to keep them in synchronization.  For takes like hauling up the anchor everybody has to pull at the same time and the meter of the music kept them synchronized.  It was considered bad luck to sin a shanty for any reason but work.


There were heaving and hauling shanties for heaving and hauling work.  Heaving is continuous work like turning the capstan, hauling is more rhythmic work done in tugs.  The shanty died out in the age of steam.  On a sailing boat when you needed power, you used muscle power.  That was all there was.


From there it was back to the hotel to take more things from the car to the room and to read off the Internet what restaurants were recommended in the area.


For something a little different we picked Taco Pico, a Guatemalan restaurant disguised as a Mexican one.  They may have had tacos, but they had more interesting dishes.  I had Pepian, a sort of chicken or beef stew with chayote in a spicy sauce.  I ordered it "mas picante."  The owner came out to talk to us, mostly about hot peppers.  The bill came out somewhat pricy, but Evelyn had wine and we are on vacation.  Frequently you find that a restaurant that seems aimed to patronize an undiscerning clientele there is someone in the kitchen who would love to try better dishes if only someone would order them.  In Detroit in the 1970s even very good restaurants would have neon Chop Suey signs.  We were introduced to some very nice Chinese dishes there.


In the room we did email, watched a commentary for CITY SLICKERS, and went to sleep watching GRAPES OF WRATH on the big TV screen.


08/02/09 Saint John, NB


This morning I worked on my log, bringing it up to date.  We looked for restaurant recommendations on the PC.  The PC certainly makes a big difference to the trip.  We know where are good places to stay and good places to eat.


It seems the most popular local site for breakfast is Reggies.  It is just a sort of greasy spoon.  Breakfast specials are fairly priced.  You place your order and they call out your name when it is ready.  Then you pick it up.  So for breakfast we went to Reggie's.  I had the special, which is two eggs, toast, hash browns, and bacon.  The potatoes are cubed with the skins and fried.


Everything is within a block or so of each other.  Our first stop is Barbour's General Store.  This is a restoration of a 19th century general store was placed in this square as part a point of attraction and is really part of a tourist information stand.


The original location of this store was 60 miles away but was floated down the river to this location.  It was restored in 1967.  It is a fun look at consumer products of the past.  We talked to the guides for quite a while.


Carleton Martello Tower was next.  The British Navy in 1794 found itself besieging the French who occupied a fort at Mortella Point in Corsica.  Relatively few French were doing a darn good job of holding off a superior force of British.  The reason was that the fort, called by the British a "Martello Tower," a corruption of Mortella.  The fort was a tapered cylinder.  That was imperious to artillery fire of the day.  Britain knew a good design when they saw it and started using Martello towers in many places.  The tower is characterized by tapering rounded walls and a central pillar.


During the War of 1812 Canada was under serious threat of invasion from those scalawags south of the border, the Americans.  Capt. Gustavus Nicolls said Saint John needed a fort for its defense.  In 1813 it began construction of a Martello tower to protect the town.  It was completed a little late, 1815 after the war with the US was over.  The attack never came.  Side note: Only one British Martello tower was ever attacked by anyone and the British themselves attacked it.  The place was India, the year 1857, and the Sepoys used the tower to hold off the British during the Sepoy Mutiny.  But the towers were a deterrent.  James Joyce lived in a Martello Tower near Dublin and it is a setting in his ULYSSES.


Fenianss were an Irish-Catholic society in the Maine who supported Irish independence.  They thought the best way to further their cause was to attack New Brunswick from the American side.  They bought arms and a ship and planned to attack Canada to force Britain to give up Ireland.  They sailed for Saint John.  In Saint John Irish Catholics were thought to be ready to join the attack.  The situation was tense and Saint John was armed to fight off and attack from without or within.  But the attack never came.  The Fenian ship was intercepted by the US military.  It seems the US government claims the exclusive right to attack other countries from the US.  Otherwise it causes unnecessary diplomatic incidents.  There are just some freedoms that the US Constitution does not grant.


A new structure was added to the top modern structure at top in WWII.  Today the tower is a museum in the parks service.


Next we happened on Wolastoq Park, which was a gift from the industrial company Irving.  It was founded in 1999 and decorated with eight-foot carved wooden statues of notable people from Saint John history.  One of the great notables was a giant beaver (an thereby hangs a tail) and one was Benedict Arnold (yes, THAT Benedict Arnold).  The park overlooks local curiosity Reversing Falls.  Not, it is not really a waterfall that reverses direction.  It is more like a water rapids that reverses direction based on how high the tide is.


We had to search to find the Jewish museum, which has recently moved to a new location at 91 Leinster Street.  This ornate building is in its fourth life.  Previously it had been a home for two different families.  It then became a funeral parlor.  And then it became a center for the diminishing Jewish community of Saint John.  A larch room in back is used for religious services.  Elsewhere the building houses a display of artifacts of Jewish life.  You have wedding dresses, bris dresses, jewelry, menorahs, groggers, etc.  There is even a room that is a Hebrew school.  It has a rand total of three students.  A guild named Kathleen Savage walked us around and talked to us for a long time.


We ate at a Lebanese restaurant, Sahara.  The food was good, but the plate was made to be big by adding a lot of rice.  Our own Lebanese restaurant, one we go to in Rocky Hill, NJ, gives no rice and a bit more of the active ingredients.


From there it was back to the room than about an hour walk around the waterfront.  We did not watch a film in the evening, but we did watch some documentaries on the History Channel.


08/03/09 Saint John, NB to Fredericton, NB: King's Landing


Same place and food as yesterday for breakfast.


We packed the car and checked out.  As we get out of the parking garage I turn on the GPS (which did not find satellites inside hotels or parking garage).  We pull to the side of the road and turn on the blinkers.  A car passes us, stops, reverses, and pulls up even to us.  We roll down the windows and he asks us, "Can I help you find something?"  We explained we were waiting on the GPS and had a laugh.  It is a gray and occasionally rainy day.


Again it is forest on both sides of the car, but there are more kinds of tree.  They are not all pine.


King's Landing is another historic re-creation village.  It represents life in New Brunswick in the mid-19th Century.


It has old buildings restored and brought to this location.  A bunch of people wore dresses in period costume and would tell you about the times they represented.  Most of the buildings still functioned.  The sawmill still operated, as did the gristmill.  Local families can send their children here for a four-day stretch in which they live like it was the mid 19th century again.  There are minor concessions to the present.  The kids get modern toilets and modern showers.  There is some modern heat in the buildings, hidden from visitors.


Here as in much of Atlantic Canada you hear a lot about loyalists.  This town or that swelled to three times its size by the arrival of the Loyalists.  These are people who left the United States during or after the American Revolution.  They wanted to stay British.  I don't know if they would choose the same way or not.  Canada has its political problems, but so does the US.  The one advantage that the US clearly has is less snow.


Well, in some way this is not just another historic village.  We went to Louisville earlier this trip and more than half the historic buildings were closed.  There was enough that was open to keep the visitor occupied, but it was far from everything.  Nearly every building at King's Landing has someone in period clothing to explain things.  As these things go it is one of the best open-air museums I have seen.


One building had farm implements, but the people inside were really giving lessons to visitors on how to use a Bodhran, a sort of hand-held drum.  They tried to get me beating a drum for reels (four-beat timing) or jigs (three-beat) but it came to a sort of random staccato.  I have absolutely no rhythm.


Next we went to the printer shop.  There was what appeared to be a reproduction of a handbill dated 1865 giving the days and dates of three events in a music festival.  I took a look, made a quick calculation, and said to Evelyn those dates are in the Julian calendar.  She said they couldn't be.  Well, they work for the Julian calendar but not the Gregorian.  They would have been using the Gregorian calendar by 1865.  Well, I said, and then they did not check that the dates worked.  I told the printer this facsimile had days and dates that did not match up.  He said that the events did take place, but it was in the mid-2000s.  They just used the old style and said 1965 to create the mood.  I told him it was 2005.


I won't go through all the buildings they had.  What sticks out in my mind?  They had an operating sawmill and a gristmill.  There were lots of houses to go through.  There was the usual forge.  There were free cart rides.  Two horses pulled about 14 people.  I try to avoid being carried or pulled by animal power.  I am getting old and lazy, but I am not going to let some poor horse with no choice do my walking for me.


We walked around to more houses and churches.  We talked to several women managing stoves in different buildings.   We passed a corral with two oxen who were being made miserable by flies.  At the beginning we asked questions in every building.  By the end we were just walking around the ground floor and leave.


We stopped to have a coke and joked with an older couple who were sitting nearby.


Continuing on we looked at a school and then the farm of an Irish-Catholic.  The latter was the most poignant of the sites.  They were much poorer than the other people of the community and their farm was off in the woods.  Irish-Catholics had only limited acceptance.  On the way out we ran into the joke couple again and talked for a good long time.  They are actually not married but next-door neighbors.  The man is 74 and apparently dying of lung cancer.  It made things a little somber.


From there to the motel.


Riverside Resort

--Nice surroundings

--We tried to check in at 5PM and were told the room was not yet ready.

No video leas on TV.

--TV gets cable but signal is weak and keep breaking up, not watchable

--Bathroom should be cleaner

--Not enough electrical outlets

--Some cheap furniture

--Peephole in door was too high for my 5'2" wife to look out


We went into Fredericton for dinner.  The desk at the resort recommended Hilltop Grill and Beverage Co.  I had Chicken Parm. And Evelyn had Haddock.  It was a fair distance from the resort, but the room was not ready.


Apparently two different families brought in very young children.  The two started a wordless conversation of preverbal shouts between tables.  The parents thought it was really cute.  I might have considered it cute if one were my kid.  But actually there were several diners who were unrelated to either child and probably did not find the conversation at high decibels all that amusing.  It wasn't the children's fault.  They were too young to know any better.  It would make more sense to throw cutlery at the parents.


At the room we did the usual variety of evening activities.


08/04/09 Fredericton, NB to Shawinigen, QC.


Today will be a travel day.  We have two days to get to Montreal.  The usual up and packing the car.  I have a checklist that I use each day because my routine is complex enough I would probably forget something.


We got off the road in Woodstock and searched a lot farther than I would have thought looking for a place to eat breakfast.  GPS coverage is really good in the US, but too much of Canada is not mapped in the database.  And somehow around Woodstock the GPS goes crazy and keeps recalculating the route.  It keeps trying to improve the route and seems to be oscillating between two routes.  We ate breakfast at a place called Smitty's.


I have to say that as I get older my body is actually getting more efficient and acting younger.  I really can feel it happening.  It is getting really efficient.  If I eat an extra scoop of ice cream I feel my body saying, "Don't worry.  It won't be wasted.  I will store the extra calories around you middle.  Not to worry."  Lower it tends to say, "I think I have to go.  I have to go NOW.  Now! NOW! NOWWW!!!!"


We cross over into Quebec and now it really feels like we are in a different country.  All the road signs are in French.  In fact little English can be seen at all, but the French you see is almost all fairly basic and understandable.  A few words require a little detective work.  So far no language barrier.  I would have some trouble with "traveaux" on a printed page, but on a sign it means roadwork.  (PS well... Some of the signs I could not translate.)


There are some problems with using the GPS in a French-speaking region.  Expressing the same thought in English and in French one usually finds the French takes more text to express the same though.  French also has longer words on average.  The GPS has limited space to express what turn to make.  It has to abbreviate street names like "Chemin du Roy" and "Chemin du Lac," whereas "King St" and "Lake St." take many fewer characters.  Also "Lake" and "Roy" are easier to distinguish from their first characters.  But "Chemin du Roy" and Chemin du Lac both start out "Che."


Evelyn notes that KFC is here called PFK.  Probably Poulet Frit Kentucky.


The GPS seemed to be leading us to the middle of nowhere to find the Comfort Inn.  We assumed that it was pointing to someplace, but not the Comfort Inn.  We did some map work, wandered a little and finally found


We ended up doing map work and found the place.  When we got near the motel we had the GPS route us to where it was pointing and in fact it was pointing us to the motel.  It was just taking us though territory that did not seem to look right to us.  It seemed too rural.  We need to have a little more faith I think.


I had to ask for my room and summoning up all my high school French I asked fairly perfectly in French if they had a reservation for Leeper.  I got a response in French.  I am not sure what it was, but it was in French.  We asked for English and so the conversation continued.  The woman said my French was very good.  I said that she was the only person who ever thought so.


Comfort Inn of Shawinigen, QC.

--Generally nice room

--No elevator, only stairs

--Room has fake hardwood floor

--TV has leads in front

--Fair number of electrical outlets

--In-room Ethernet

--Toilet does not work well, requires three flushes

--Breakfast included, cereal, waffles, but the only real source of protein is hard boiled eggs


We picked a restaurant called Pi–ata Mexican for dinner, but found it on a gentrified part of town with prices to match.  It was on a sort of tourist river walk and all the restaurants there were high-priced.  Instead we had the GPS point us to a neighborhood pizza parlor called Stratos Pizza.  It was a little difficult communicating, but mot places we go there is enough English spoken.  We ordered a Vegetarian Pizza with vegetables like cauliflower.  It was unusual for us but tasty.  They had asked us if we wanted French Fries with it.  That seemed a little bizarre.


Back at the room we did the kind of room stuff we always do.


08/05/09 Shawinigen, QC to Montreal, QC


Given any excuse my body will wake up before it is really convenient.  I woke up at somewhere around 3:30, which is 5AM in Newfoundland.  5AM is when I aim to wake up at home.


It was just about a 2-hour drive to Montreal.


Hyatt Regency of Montreal


This was about the most bizarre and irritating experience I can remember from a hotel.  And I have visited some under-developed countries.  Not all of the problems were the hotel's fault.  We were here for a six-night stay.  Five of those nights there was a rock concert going on very nearly across the street.  We could see the stage from our window.  The music started in the early afternoon and went past midnight.  The windows could be felt to vibrate.  The hotel never mentioned the rock concert when we made the reservations.


The building is very strange.  To get from the parking garage to our room one takes the elevator up to the sixth floor.  From there one goes across the floor and up four steps to get to the hotel lobby.  From there one takes the hotel elevator to its second floor.  Exits from the lobby lead to the pool, but do not get the user to the street level.


The clerk, once we found the lobby, seemed a little supercilious.  He asked if we wanted to upgrade for $50 a day to get various privileges including breakfast, access to special rooms, and Internet access.  I asked if Wi-Fi was available in the lobby.  No, Wi-Fi is $50 a day.  It is not worth that.  Superficially this looks like a comfortable full service hotel, but it really is a "10% for looking in the mirror twice" sort of place.  It is geared to executives on big expense accounts.


--Found out from other conference participants that Hyatt is the only hotel in area that does NOT allow some form of free Internet access, even most budget motels on our trip have some form of access

--No soap in room, called for more, arrived in 40 min

--Nice decor

--One glass and one cup apportioned per person (perhaps more available with a call to housekeeping)

--No suitcase rack

--Iron and board

--TV has basic cable plus hotel PPV, no leads to use TV with a DVD player

--Orientation book has a good list of channels breaking them out as English or French

--View out window is of lot being torn up, rather ugly

--Notepad on the night table but has only two sheets of paper, when used up could not get more when left out.  You are apportioned two pieces of notepaper and no more without calling housekeeping


Went to the conference center, Palace d' Congress, to register and then to lunch at a restaurant nearby.  The conference center is very near Chinatown.  We chose The Noodle Factory and I had fried noodles with chicken.  OK, but I did not find it much of an adventure.


The convention really has little to do with travel so I will continue after the convention.


08/11/09 Montreal, QC to Massachusetts


An incredibly disorganized convention is over.  There were several different conflicting event schedules published.  I was on a panel of two people to discuss the film PRIMER.  I sat down at the panel about ten minutes early.  The tech guy who was supposed to show the film came up to me and asked if I had brought the film.  Me?  No.  We waited for the other panelist and she was asked the same question.  We went to Program Operations to ask where the film was supposed to come from and they had had no idea.  I said my hotel was 15 minutes walk away and I had a copy.  That turned out to be the best idea.  So I ran to the Hyatt, getting lost once in the convention center.  Searched the room for where the DVD was and ran back.  I was back in less than half an hour and got a big round of applause from the audience.  I am afraid the lack of organization caused problems through he whole convention, and I am assured by someone who would know that I have seen only the small tip of the iceberg.


We were out of the room by eight and checked out.  It was only about a half-hour drive to the border.  Customs checked us through without too much trouble.  The customs stop had a strange set of displays over each lane, each giving a different time.  I asked what that was all about and the guard said that it's a work in progress.  Since I won't be back for a long time, I may never know what the displays indicate.


Upstate New York has much the same sort of piney woods that Canada has and is very nice.  The drive takes you through rocky hills with forested areas rivaling some Canada scenery.  It is really Last of the Mohicans territory.  The proportion of leafy trees increases as you get to Massachusetts and the Berkshires.  I grew up in Massachusetts but I remember little of seeing some of the nice scenery along the highway that I saw this trip.  Even Evelyn had not been on these roads even though they led close to Chicopee.


In Chicopee we were visiting family and the rest of the trip was not noteworthy for this log, with the possible exception of our motel.


Plantation Inn, Chicopee Mass.

--Generally works but everything is rather old

--Free Wi-Fi in room

--Room large, a little dark

--Good cable including TCM

--Free breakfast 6-10AM

--Breakfast is Danish, coffee, and juice

--Wallpaper peeling off

--Swimming pool

--Window cracked

--Peephole in door too high.


Well, I will bring the log to a close before the trip comes to a close.  Summing it up I would say in a little over two years we have been to three of the most picturesque areas of North America.  First it was the Canadian Rockies.  They offer huge vistas of high rock with lush forest and clear lakes.  In Southern Utah the geology was the main attraction.  Huge and amazing rock formations were the star.  Gros Morne is another variation with only moderately interesting rock formations (they are at the north end of the Appalachian Mountains) but the trees and the lakes very beautiful.  But the Rockies and Atlantic Provinces are both are Northern Boreal Forest and are quite similar.  I guess my choice would be for Southern Utah if I had to choose just one.  That is the least like the others and the most like something other worldly.  We go to five parks and the scenery of each is more different from the other four than the Canadian Rockies are from the Atlantic Provinces.