I had been referring to this as a trip to the Maritime Provinces, but that turned out to be inaccurate, or at any rate incomplete. The Maritime Provinces are Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. The Altantic Provinces include those three plus Newfoundland and Labrador. (It is sort of like the difference between the Scandinavian countries and the Nordic countries.) And Newfoundland and Labrador was (were?) called just Newfoundland from 1949 (when it became part of Canada) until 2001.
Oh, and we are also going to Quebec, which is pronounced "keh-BECK", nor "kwee-BECK", and brings up a whole different set of issues.
It has been said that in war no strategy survives contact with the enemy. It is also true that no itinerary survives contact with the actual trip. Unless one is completely locked into an itinerary, things change. There are the small changes--one swaps indoor and outdoor items around based on weather, for example. And there are bigger changes--one adds items one hears about, and drops items because there is not enough time. In our case, th Art Gallery and Natural History Museums in Halifax got dropped to make room for the Tall Ships, and the Fortress of Louisbourg got added when we heard what a major site it was. Shortly before we left, we added Cape Breton Highlands National Park on the recommendation of a friend. We also added Arches Provincial Park and Hopewell Rocks, but more as specifics for what had been vague before.
July 11, 2009: Not much to report for today. We drove from New Jersey to Lewiston, Maine, in preparation to taking the ferry to Nova Scotia. We had planned on going by way of Chicopee and stopping for lunch with the family, but it is good we did not, as traffic jams slowed us down and we did not get to the Motel 6 until 7PM anyway.
We ate lunch at the Midtown Deli in Webster, Massachusetts, which had genuine Polish food. How do I know it was genuine? Well, all the groceries there were Polish, everyone but us was speaking Polish, and the books, magazines, and videos were all in Polish? (They had a Henry Kuttner with a great cover titled "Kraina Mroku", which turns out to be "Beast of Prey".) Mark had the platter of pierogi, golumpki, kielbasa, and bigos (a cabbage and meat stew). I had the mini-platter (no golumpki). With two sodas, tax, and tip, it came to US$14.13. Webster seems a town hard hit by the recession (or possibly even before the recession), but it is not surprising that a place with cheap, filling meals is still around.
Why is there a place called Chicopee Joe's in Wells, Maine?
Misfortune of the Day: Motel 6 provides thin plastic cups instead of glasses, and the one I drank my cherry juice from had a crack, which just happened to be turned so that cherry juice dribbled on my shirt. (It did wash out, though.) And one audiocassette we had brought seemed to want to play only at double speed.
July 12, 2009: Another travel, this time by ferry ("The Cat") from Portland, Maine, to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Now, during the week this actually runs from Bar Harbor, Maine, and takes three hours. On Sundays, it runs from Portland to Yarmouth and takes five-and-a-half hours, but the reservation clerk was confused and told me it would take three hours. Then I also forgot to account for the time zone change. So we had planned on doing the Yarmouth County Museum this afternoon, assuming an 11AM arrival. By the time we arrived (even later than scheduled), cleared customs & immigration, and got money, it was 3:30PM.
(Note: In Canada, ATMs are called ABMs. C$1 was about US$0.86 when we started out.)
On the other hand, five-and-a-half hours of choppy boat ride left me less than perky. (Mark, of course, was not fazed at all.) So we did some rescheduling and drove to the Comfort Inn (free on our points, saving us about C$150.)
Dinner was at Rudder's, a "brew pub" specializing in seafood. (Well, most restaurants around here specialize in seafood. Mark and I split a bowl of their "famous chowder" and a fisherman's combination platter. The chowder was more like a fish soup, not thickened like New England clam chowder, but with a lot of seafood (fish, lobster, and scallops) in it. I liked it more than Mark did. The platter had fried haddock, scallops, and clams. The clams were bigger than we get back home, but the portion sizes were small (except for the baked potato). Still, I was mostly full from the chowder, so we did not leave hungry. The total came to C$43.50.
We returned to the motel, used the WiFi to read our mail, and watched The Core and Phone Call from a Stranger.
Misfortune of the Day: The DVD player started acting up, not playing one DVD at all, and cutting out at the end of another. And for me, as well, the choppy boat ride was no fun.
July 13, 2009: We started out with a visit to Tusket Toyota, a major sightseeing stop.... Well, no, actually. We were concerned because when we had recently the oil changed in the car, the mechanic said there was a crack in the oil pan and it should be replaced. This was the first chance we had to do something about it, but when they put it up on the rack here, they said it looked fine. (I suspect the mechanic may have wanted to sell us the super-viscous stuff.)
We made a stop at Wal-Mart to buy dramamine for me for the other two ferry trips, but apparently dramamine is available only by prescription. The non-prescription remedy is gravol, but even that is available only from a pharmacist, and the pharmacy was not open yet.
We then went to the Yarmouth County Museum, which is Tardis-like (in that it is bigger inside than it seems outside). There was a lot about ship-building, fishing, and so on. More surprising was the "runic stone", which was discovered in the 19th century and the "runes" on which have variously been interpreted and translated as Norse runes, Japanese, early Basque, and even Mycenean. Most likely, though, is that they are a hoax, as the "discoverer" was known as a bit of a prankster.
There was also the Kolon Motor, which was a device that the user leaned against and turned a handle to massage their colon to prevent constipation.
There was a pirate exhibit on loan from the Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax which consisted mostly of descriptive panels with few actual artifacts. Among other things I learned that privateering (legalized piracy) was abolished by the Declaration of Paris (1856).
A big legend in Yarmouth appears to be the Treasure of Oak Island, which people have been digging for since 1796. This treasure is variously claimed to be Captain Kidd's treasure, Incan gold, English gold, and even apparently the Holy Grail of the Knights Templar (though that may have been a joke). Franklin Roosevelt was only one of thousands who have dug there. So many people were digging that Nova Scotia passed the Treasure Trove Act of 1954 to settle all the conflicting claims. (This has been applied to shipwrecks off Nova Scotia as well.)
As for more general pirate legends, Robert Louis Stevenson was apparently the one who started the legend of pirate maps by putting one in Treasure Island and telling a story of pirates burying their treasure. With the possible exception of Captain Kidd, no pirates are known to have ever buried any treasure. There is also no evidence of having prisoners walk the plank. This was popularized in films, where it was a very cinematic image. The basic source of information on famous pirates was A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates by Captain Charles Johnson (1724), but is not very reliable. A more recent award-winner is Pirate's Passage by William Gilkerson (2006), a children's novel.
We picked up a dozen Tim Horton's doughnuts for the Toyota service people, who were very helpful and honest and did not even charge us to look at the car. (And two doughnuts for us.)
We drove to Shelburne on a two-lane, undivided, limited access road. I guess a full-fledged expressway would be overkill here, as there was not much traffic.
Shelburne was founded in 1783 by "United Empire Loyalists" who left places like Boston and New York. By 1784, it had 10,000 people and claims to have been the fourth largest city in North America. However, this claim seems shaky, since the 1790 census figures show New York at 33,000, Philadelphia at 28,000, Boston at 18,000, Charleston at 16,000, and Baltimore at 13,000. Oh, and Mexico City is estimated at 105,000 in 1700, and 137,000 in 1800--larger than the top five United States cities combined! (It supposedly has the third largest undredged harbor in North America even now.) As Mark commented, "Here the Redcoats are the good guys!"
Our GPS was pretty useless in Shelburne; very few of the streets are named. (This was true in several other small towns in the Atlantic Provinces as well.) It is possible that the 2009 update might have helped, but I would rather wait until we are planning a trip through more heavily populated areas that are more likely to be kept up to date.
Our first museum in the complex here was the Muir-Cox Shipyard. We were given a tour by the docent, a young man of about twenty. He told us that the big doors at the end of the main building were replaced by a wall when they filmed The Scarlet Letter in Shelburne. Even though it was filmed in Shelburne, he has never watched it. (We'll Be Wonderful is another film shot here.) We were walking about the Loyalist heritage and the docent said that he was not as involved in that because he was not a local. By this he did not mean he had just moved here, as one might in the United States, but that his grandfather was born somewhere else. In the United States, just about everyone's grandfather was born somewhere else.
This museum also had an exhibit on loan from the Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax. I hope the Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax still has some exhibits left when we visit it. :-)
Lunch was at the Sea Dog, on the outside dock area. (The weather finally improved to sunshine from the constant overcast and occasional drizzle.) We shared battered fish and chips and fish cakes. These are not like our fish cakes, but are made of mashed potatoes, onions, and salt cod, then breaded and fried, and are the size of an extra-thick hockey puck. They are also called Newfoundland fish cakes or "Newfie" fish cakes. (We ordered the plate with two fish cakes, but one would have been sufficient.) The total was C$29.50.
After lunch we visited the Dory Shop (where they still build dories), the Shelburne County Museum, and the Ross-Thomson House & Shop Museum.
We then drove to Lunenberg and the Homeport Motel. This was a very comfortable motel with a refrigerator, microwave, and great shower.
Misfortune of the Day: The DVD player effectively died. We could occasionally manage to get to the menu or play the warning, but never further.
July 14, 2009: Breakfast was instant ramen. (The motel provided a refrigerator, microwave, and coffee maker rather than breakfast.)
Our main stop today was the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic. The first part was the aquarium. Now, first they said that the best definition of a fish was "a cold-blooded vertebrate with scales and fins, that breathes with gills, and lives in water its entire life." Then they said that there are three kinds of fish: Agnatha (jawless, e.g., lamprey eels), Chondrichthyes (cartilageous, e.g. sharks), and Osteochthyes (bony, e.g., tuna). This seems to imply that sharks have scales and are therefore kosher ("These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat." -Leviticus 11:9), but that is not true. It is more that the definition given is not very precise. (Or as Mark said, "The language is vague ... no, the language is specific; nature is vague.") There are "fish" that do not have scales, fish that give birth to live young (some varieties of perch), and even fish that are sort of warm-blooded (e.g. bluefin tuna).
Other sea-dwellers include molluscs, crustaceans, and cnidarians (e.g., jellyfish). Oh, and arthopods such as octopuses and squid.
I wonder why the same word in French ("dauphin") means both "dolphin" and "prince".
Anadromous fish live in salt water, but spawn in fresh; catadromous fish are vice versa.
There was a sea monster exhibit on loan from somewhere which was moderately interesting (though with not much about sea monsters in the movies--only a passing mention of Walt Disney's Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea). One of the panels talked about various sightings by sailors over the past centuries, saying they must have seen something "although some sightings were no doubt made through the bottom of a rum bottle..."
Below the thunders of the upper deep; Far far beneath in the abysmal sea, His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee About his shadowy sides; above him swell Huge sponges of millennial growth and height; And far away into the sickly light, From many a wondrous grot and secret cell Unnumber'd and enormous polypi Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green. There hath he lain for ages, and will lie Battening upon huge seaworms in his sleep, Until the latter fire shall heat the deep; Then once by man and angels to be seen, In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.
-- Alfred, Lord Tennyson
All in all, this exhibit seemed very similar to Monsters of the Sea by Richard Ellis, a study of "sea monsters"--the various historical sightings and an analysis of what they were (or might be)--as well as long sections on the biology and behavior of the actual creatures of the sea. This is basically a book of cryptozoology ("the science of 'hidden' animals"), an area which has become more popular of late, as technological developments have allowed scientists to probe deeper into the oceans, either with diving machines or with cameras.
We went to the talk on lobsters, which was quite detailed, including the entire life cycle of the lobster. There was also discussion of what was edible (pretty much everything inside the whole lobster except the thorax). The green part is the tomalley and is the digestive tract and the liver. The lobster has no central nervous system or vocal cords. Lobsters are mostly black but also come in other colors. One even seen them in multi-color (e.g., the left side red and the right side black). They all (except albino lobsters) turn red when cooked because that is the only stable color in shell. Although they live in water, they can extract oxygen from the air for days if kept cold and wet.
Various exhibits refer to the first settlers in Canada as British or French fishermen in 15th century. Now, John Cabot discovered Newfoundland in 1497 for England, Sir Humphrey Gilbert claimed it for England in 1583, and France ceded it to Britain in 1713. But when I asked why the Vikings got no mention, the answer was because Newfoundland was a separate "semi-autonomous country" and not part of Canada until 1949. Why the British and French in 1497 should count, but not the Vikings in 986 is not clear to me.
The museum tour emphasizing the gallery on the history of cod fishing in the area. As the docent kept saying, "Cod was king." (Because of all the over-fishing, there is now a cod moratorium within 200 miles of shore.) Cod was it; "salmon was not [even] considered a fish [worth catching]." (This might explain why Lewis and Clark's expedition practically starved while traveling along the most salmon-rich river of North America.
Cod is 80% water, so it is easy to dry. This was important before refrigeration. Fishing was first with handlines, then long lines, and then nets (after 1948 or so when refrigeration made large catches practical).
Another exhibit was of the Bluenose and the Bluenose II, two racing schooners
There was an exhibit on rum-running. Canada had nation-wide Prohibition from 1916-1919, and then returned control of liquor to the individual provinces. Over the next several years, they gradually repealed Prohibition: Quebec, British Columbia, Yukon (1921); Manitoba (1923); Alberta (1924); Saskatchewan (1925); Ontario, New Brunswick (1927); Nova Scotia (1930); and Prince Edward Island (1948).
In constrast, the United States was under Prohibition from 1920 to 1933, so although there was some overlap in some areas, large parts of Canada would be an easy source of liquor.
Old Lunenberg is a UNESCO World Heritage site for its classic grid pattern and original architecture, but a little goes a long way, and we satisfied ourselves by driving up and down a couple of street, then proceeded to Halifax.
We checked in to the Futures Inn, a sort of mid-scale hotel--restaurant rather than free breakfast, etc. (Actually, by the time you get as big as the Futures Inn, providing free breakfasts becomes logistically impossible.)
We then did necessary errands. First we stopped at the Costco across the street and got snack bars, etc., and looked at portable DVD players. Then we went to Opa Greek Taverna for dinner (actually, we made the lunch menu by two minutes!). I had a lamb souvlaki sandwich; Mark has seftali. The Greek salad that came with these was very salty. In fact, much of the food here is very salty. (Mark said his meat--which was minced beef, lamb, and seasonings--was also salty.) Then we went to Walmart, where we bought a replacement DVD player. (There was really only one of a "name" brand, and it was even on sale, so the decision was easy. The first two we had were a Initial and a Mintek which were basically identical. This is an RCA which has some good features and some bad features. For example, the first ones had remote controls; this has none. This also seems to have no display of how much time has played on a DVD. The biggest drawback is that the set-up buttons are unlabeled. One has to memorize that the first is general, the second subtitles, the third audio, and the last returns you to menu--I think. Really--how much would embossing or printing tiny labels have cost? On the plus side, the output jacks are RCA standard rather than audio jack (which require "non-standard" cables). Of course, this also means they do not have to provide the cables. The power cord is also smaller, and a car lighter adapter is also provided (which the old one did not have). The battery is built in. All in all, the result is fewer pieces to carry when traveling.
And when we finally figured out how to set the unit to 4:3 aspect ratio--not immediately obvious--we watched the Marx Brothers in Go West.
Misfortune of the Day: I fell down in the parking lot unloading my suitcase. (I turned slightly and the momentum of the suitcase did the rest.) No real damage, just a slightly scraped hand and a bruised thigh.
July 15, 2009: Breakfast was at a chain called Cora's which specializes in breakfast all day. (In New Jersey, diners do that.) I had a raspberry crepe; Mark had French toast with ham and egg and fresh fruit. It was tasty, but with beverages, it was C$29.66--pretty steep for breakfast.
Our main event today was the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site. After paying for the admission to the Citadel, I realized we really wanted to buy a Discovery Pass (for National Parks and Historic Sites), which added complication, what with refunding the first purchase, etc.
The Citadel is staffed primarily by re-enactors representing a Highland regiment and a non-Highland brigade. The former means there are a lot of people in kilts, and a lot of bagpiping. The soldiers spend a lot of time drilling, marching, etc., mostly for the entertainment of the visitors, but also apparently for their own training, since it was clear from listening to the drill sergeant talking to the troops that he was explaining how to shoulder arms correctly and so on as much--or even more--for their benefit as for ours.
The soldiers are more diverse than the original units--there are women and Asians, for example. I saw these only in the pipers, which one might expect to have a harder time recruiting enough people if they insisted on total accuracy, but one of the soldiers said that it was that Canada (and Parcs Canada) had an equal employment policy. The kilts were also not completely accurate--they had pockets hidden under the overlap. (However, the fact that they were kilts meant that it was still painful to kneel on the gravel of the courtyard for manuevers!) Also, while all the signage is bi-lingual, the Mi'kmaq section is tri-lingual.
They fire the noon gun every day except Christmas and have done so since 1856 with one exception: December 6, 1917. It is fired even in winter, when the site is closed, and regardless of weather. The gun normally would use four pounds of black powder, but that would break all the windows in Halifax, so they use only one pound. It is still pretty loud.
Halifax was founded by the British in 1749 as a defense against the French, who held Cape Breton and Louisbourg. There were several versions of the Citadel through time; the current one is a reconstruction/restoration of it in the mid-19th century.
For some reason the various displays and descriptive panels have many illustrations of postage stamps that commemorated the people and events being discussed. In the displays, the history of Halifax is commemorated as well as that of the Citadel itself. So there is a section describing the Halifax Explosion, which took place on at 8:46AM, 6 December 1917 when the Norwegian ship Imo collided with the French ship Mont Blanc. The Mont Blanc was loaded with explosives and benzol, but had not told anyone. A fire started, and the Mont Blanc exploded at 9:05AM, detroying almost all of downtown Halifax from shock wave, earthquake, and tidal wave, as well as the fires that they started. It was the biggest man-made explosion until the atomic bomb.
People from Halifax are called "Haligonians".
Canada really should be grateful--the reason that they have such a nice citadel from the 19th century is because they built it because they were concerned about the United States invading Canada. During King George's War, colonists from the thirteen colonies helped fight the French and capture Louisbourg. Then Britain gave it all back in the treaty, which was one of the many things that annoyed the colonies. When the British evacuated Boston in 1775, they retreated to Halifax. Then they relaunched an offensive from Halifax and recaptured New York. All through this, there was strong sentiment for the rebels in Halifax. Had the Haligonians been better organized--and had there not been such a massive presence of British troops here--Nova Scotia might well have been the 14th colony/state.
Then in 1793 the British feared an attempt by the new French government to recapture Halifax. (All of Nova Scotia was originally French; the British deported almost all the French/Acadians between 1755 and 1763.) In 1812 the United States launched invasions in both Upper Canada (Ontario) and Lower Canada (Quebec). Meanwhile, the British ship HMS Shannon captured the USF Chesapeake in Boston Harbor and towed it to Halifax. The Treaty of Utrecht mostly resolved British-American differences, though there were still falre-ups over such things as slavery and the Trent Affair.
In the Army Museum in the Citadel, a docent of Acadian ancestry was talking to some people about his background and how there was a substantial amount of discrimination in the 1940s and 1950s. For example, many golf clubs did not admit Acadians. He also talked about St.Pierre and Miquelon, the last remaining outpost of France in the area. These are two tiny islands off Newfoundland, which are there because by treaty the French retained some fishing rights in the very important Grand Banks. The docent said that now that they think there is oil in the area as well, things could get interesting. Currently, their main export seems to be duty-free liquor from France, which Canadians take a ferry over to get.
There was also a Canadian woman was had been a driver in England during World War II, who was showing her family around. She talked about her experiences, about going to all the dances, and how the Americans could not dance waltzes or anything like that very well, but always wanted to jitterbug in the most athletic ways.
In the museum one could take pictures of anything except the cloak on which General Wolfe died on the Plains of Abraham during the Battle of Quebec in the Seven Years' War.
Afterwards, we drove out to Fairview Lawn Cemetery to see the graves of many of the victims of the Titanic. Now, according to the sign in the cemetery, 209 bodies out of the 328 found were brought to Halifax, the Protestants were buried here, and the "unknown child" was Gösta Leonard Pålsson, aged 2. The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic claims that 336 bodies were found. (They do agree that 209 were brought to Halifax.) The Protestants were probably buried here, although the rabbi associated with the Baron de Hirsch Cemetery claimed ten bodies, not all of which were Jewish. (And some of the names in Fairview Lawn may have been Jewish, e.g., last name Samuel.) The "unknown child" was proved by DNA in the 1990s not to be Gösta Leonard Pâlsson, but now is believed to be Sidney Leslie Goodwin. Forty bodies remain unidentified, but given that some others were not identified until the 1990s, their identities may yet be revealed. (Identification often came from initials on clothing or personal effects.)
The 121 victims buried at Fairview Lawn are in rows that form the outline of a ship with a gash in it. Most are plain granite blocks, though the families of some paid for more elaborate stones. (In at least one case, Bruce Ismay paid for a better headstone for a crew member who was instrumental in saving the lives of many Third Class passengers.)
One grave that attracts a lot of attention these days is for "J. Dawson". Contrary to what some people apparently believe, this is not the grave of the Jack Dawson from the movie Titantic. First, that was a fictional character. Second, he was sailing with someone else's ticket, so his name was not even on the manifest. (This was even a plot point in the movie.) And third, "J. Dawson" is stoker Joseph Dawson.
The Baron de Hirsch Cemetery next to Fairview Lawn was locked, but the ten "Titanic" headstones there were easily identifiable, as they were identical to those in Fairview Lawn.
We had dinner at Montana's, sharing a rack of ribs. At C$33.37 with tax and tip, it was more than filling.
Misfortune of the Day: I tipped over my glass of water at dinner, which splashed Mark and ran off the table into his lap. Luckily his computer was not in the way!
July 16, 2009: Breakfast was instant noodle soup in the room--not quite as tasty as yesterday's breakfast at Cora's, but definitely cheaper.
Mark suggested swapping today's and tomorrow's plans. We had planned on the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic today and the Tall Ships tomorrow. However, 1) the ships were sailing in today, and 2) they predicted more rain for tomorrow than today. So we figured we would do the Tall Ships and possibly Pier 21 National Historic Site today, and the Museum tomorrow.
We drove to Pier 21 and parked. They charge C$3 for Pier 21 NHS parking, or C$10 all day, and it seems to be on the honor system, since the man did not give us a tag or anything. He just said he remembered who had paid for the full day and who had not.
We passed a statue of Samuel Cunard, a Haligonian who was born on 21 November 1787. Other than Voltaire, he may be the other famous person to be born on my birthday.
We watched many of the tall ships arriving. When we first planned this trip we did not know about the tall ships being in town while we were here. (I noticed the hotel was more expensive for the last two nights, but figured it was just because of the weekend.) But it turned out that forty tall ships were arriving today and staying until Monday. So we adjusted our plans to include seeing these, although not actually touring any of them.
They docked along the waterfront as they came in. Although they operated under sail on the open seas, in the harbor they operated under power. I suppose that is because a large ship is not very manueverable in a small space like a harbor, and indeed, even during the "age of sail" ships in a harbor were rowed in and out rather than sailed. None of the newspapers or signs defined what a "tall ship" was. The closest was that it included barques, brigantines, clippers, sloops, ketches, and larger top-sail schooners. This reminded me of the rather vague definition of "fish" at the Fisheries Museum.
The ships were from all over the world, including one, the Unicorn, from Clinton, New Jersey. They were interesting to watch, but there is not much I can say about them. (And aren't you glad?)
After walking the entire length of the waterfront and back, we went to the Pier 21 National Historic Site. This is an immigration museum, something like Ellis Island, but much smaller and covering only the period from 1928 to 1960, when Pier 21 was the major immigration gateway to Canada. (There are plans to expand it to cover all immigration, but that will take time--and money.)
Now, Pier 21 is a National Historic Site, and our Discovery Site supposedly covers the National Historic Sites, but it does not cover Pier 21. This seems a bit deceptive, but it may be in part because it has only recently become a National Historic Site and maybe they have not made the transition yet.
Particular phases of immigration included refugees in the 1930s, evacuees during the war, war brides and displaced persons (including Jewish survivors) after the war, and Hungarians in 1956 and 1957. Throughout the time, there was general immigration as well, for a total of a million immigrants of all sorts. During the war, 500,000 troops left Canada through Pier 21; 450,000 returned. (They brought 45,000 war brides and 22,000 children, so there was actually a net inflow.)
I had always thought the phrase "Landed Immigrant" meant an immigrant with some rights to land (similar to "landed gentry"), but it turns out that it just means an immigrant who has landed (arrived) and been admitted.
After we finished, we decided to take a ride around downtown Halifax on "Fred the Bus", a free service. Our plan was to scout out possible parking lots that were further away from the waterfront, since we knew it would be congested Friday. But the congestion was so bad today that the forty-five-minute route actually took almost eighty minutes. Since Fred only runs between 10AM and 4:30PM or so, we decided we really needed to park at Pier 21 again, even though it took almost an hour to leave the downtown area by car.
We were not out of the woods yet, though. Even after we left the congested area, we ended up in some area where they had torn up the streets and kept getting stuck in long lines, detours, and so on. Finally we decided to stop for dinner at a Chinese restaurant in the hopes the traffic would clear. The dinner was only mediocre, but the traffic did get better.
We stopped at a Walmart on the way home to get batteries. While there, I got into a discussion with someone from Halifax, and found out we could park at the Walmart (free) and take a bus down to the waterfront. The bus fares would total less than the parking at Pier 21. This seemed like a much better idea than trying to drive back downtown.
Misfortune(s) of the Day: We got about ten blocks from the car when the rechargeable batteries in the camera decided to die. So we had to walk back to the car, where Mark swapped them for the ones in the GPS and I took the eight extra non-rechargeable batteries out of the duffel in the trunk. And later, I was sitting under a tree and a bird pooped on my palmtop. Luckily, it was a small bird, but I had to go into the washroom at the ferry terminal to clean it off.
July 17, 2009: As planned yesterday, we took the bus in--very easy and straightforward. We got off near the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, but because it was not raining yet (and rain was predicted) we decided to look at the tall ships again. And it was good we did, because more had arrived, including the H.M.S. Bounty and a Viking knarr.
The Bounty was built for the 1962 film Mutiny on the Bounty. There was a lot of information on signs in front of it, but they did misspell "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer" as "Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer".
The Viking knarr was a somewhat broader-beamed ship than a Viking warship and was used more for cargo. It did not have a dragon figurehead, but Mark pointed out that although they must have existed (based on contemporary descriptions), no dragon figurehead has ever been found.
Eventually we went into the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. As with many museums in the Atlantics, it is smaller than a similar museum would be back home. In many cases, this may be a question of space as much as anything else.
There were several galleries devoted to such topics as the navy, tugs, the Age of Sail, and so on. The navy gallery included a piece of wood from H.M.S. Victory and a chest and a piece of copper mess pot from U.S.F. Chesapeake.
There was a swearing-in ceremony for new Canadian citizens in one of the meeting rooms, and one of the speakers was saying, "Very few of us share the same past, but we can share the same future." I noticed that when they sang "O Canada" they were all pretty strong on the English parts, but when it was in French it was pretty much just the person leading them.
There was a gallery for the Halifax Explosion, which took place on 6 December 1917 when the Norwegian ship Imo collided with the French ship Mont Blanc at 8:46AM. The Mont Blanc was loaded with explosives and benzol, but had not told anyone. A fire started, and the Mont Blanc exploded at 9:05AM. The Richmond area was totally destroyed; North Dartmouth was heavily damaged. Part of an anchor, weighing 517 kilograms (235 pounds), was found 3 kilometers (almost 2 miles) from the explosion. The explosion was felt 483 kilometers (300 miles) away. Glass shattered 100 kilometers (65 miles) away.
As if that were not enough, though, the worst blizzard of the year then rolled in, dropping 16 inches of snow by nightfall.
In January 1994, 21 people were still receiving pensions from the disaster.
There is a very good website about the explosion at http://www.cbc.ca/halifaxexplosion.
The film noted that there were four times as many deaths (casualties?) as from the San Francisco Earthquake/Fire. (There were 1650 dead, 9000 injured, 6000 left homeless, and 25,000 left with insufficient shelter.) Yet, as Mark noted, no one has ever made a movie about it, and hardly anyone outside of Canada (or perhaps even outside of Nova Scotia) even knows about it. The CBC has done a one-hour documentary ("City of Ruins: The Halifax Explosion") and a mini-series (Shattered City: The Halifax Explosion) And Glenn Grant wrote an alternate history, "Thermometers Melting" (which appeared in Arrowdreams: An Anthology of Alternate Canadas), using it as a plot element (though not the point of divergence). (The name comes from Hugh McLennan's novel about th explosion, Barometer Rising.)
The short film the Museum showed about it, "Just One Big Mess", was more graphic than the sorts of films one sees in United States museums.
A section on the Age of Sail featured Captain Joshua Slocum, the first (I believe) to sail solo around the world. His diary, published by Dover is titled Sailing Alone Around the World. He became a United States citizen at some point, but Nova Scotia still considers him one of their own.
The section on the Titanic is the most popular in the Museum. Indeed, one suspects that many bus tours stop here just long enough for people to see that section and maybe the 3-D film about diving around the Titanic.
As I noted in my comments on Fairview Lawn Cemetery, there is some dispute on the numbers. One number considered firm is that 705 survived. Three ships, the Mackay-Bennett, the Minia, and later the Montmagny, left Halifax to look for bodies. On April 21 the first two arrived at the site. The Mackay-Bennett found 306 bodies, the Minia 17, the Montmagny 4, and other ships 9, making a total of 336 bodies recovered. 209 were brought back to Halifax; the rest were buried at sea due to lack of space on the ships and also lack of sufficient embalming fluid. Of the 209 bodies, 59 bodies were claimed, and Halifax buried the remaining 150. 19 bodies were buried in the Catholic Mount Olivet Cemetery, 121 at Fairview Lawn, and 10 at Baron de Hirsch.
Coroner John Henry Barnstead came up with a method of tracking the bodies and effects. All bodies were tagged with a number, and all personal effects were but in a mortuary bag with that number on it. This greatly aided in the identification of the bodies, even into the 1990s, and of the bodies in the Halifax Explosion, less than six years after the Titanic disaster.
Even in death there were class distinctions: the First Class were brought back in coffins, the Second and Third in bags, and the crew on open stretchers. Many were buried at sea because they found more bodies than expected. There was not enough embalming fluid, and in addition, some bodies were too badly damaged to bring back. The Captain of theMackay-Bennett said that the only bodies that he buried at sea were either of crewmen or of those too badly damaged to ever be identified. (This was before DNA was even known about.)
This was not the White Star Line's first maritime disaster by any means. For example, their ship Atlantic sunk near Halifax in 1873, with over 500 people lost. But this seems to have been the one that finally brought about major changes in maritime safety: enough lifeboats for all passengers, 24-hour radio operation, and better iceberg spotting.
One of the books in the display was sometime science fiction writer Charles Pelligrino's Her Name, Titanic.
We looked some more at the tall ships. Why does the U.S. Coast Guard need a masted ship?
We took the bus back to Walmart. There was some traffic, but not as much as yesterday, partly because it ran a couple of blocks up from the waterfront, but also because we left a little earlier.
For dinner we went to Boston Pizza. Boston is not a town known for pizza. We got a BBQ Pulled Pork Pizza, which is even less like Boston. And C$27.38 for a 13" pizza seems fairly pricy. (Apparently they still use inches for pizzas.)
Misfortune of the Day: The ferry company called to tell us our 8:30AM departure on Sunday would be at 11AM. This means we will not get to our cabin at Gros Morne National Park until about 9PM.
July 18, 2009: I haven't said anything about the trash bins in Nova Scotia. They seem to divide their trash into food, garbage, and recyclables. Napkins seem to be thrown in with food, but paper plates are garbage. Some stuff is obvious, but there are also times when the only thing to do is to look in the various bins and hope you see something like what you want to discard. Also, like most of Canada, there are deposits on soda bottles and cans, and no convenient way for tourists to get them back. (I described this in our Canadian Rockies log; the bottles and cans have to be returned to special depots.) Since smaller bottlles have a 10-cent deposit each (and the 13+ HST [sales tax]), this tends to make sodas more expensive than you would think for the price tag. A "50-cent" bottle actually costs 66 cents, or 30% more. Small in the grand scheme of things, but if you buy a whole case of cans, the deposit is somewhat startling.
We drove to Louisbourg. On the way we got gas at a station where you just pumped your gas and then went inside to pay. No scanning your card first, no needing to have them unlock the pump--people must be very honest here. Gas, by the way is about C$0.98 per liter, which is about US3.15 per gallon.
The drive was very scenic--evergreen forests, rivers, etc.--but also very foggy. It was about 75° F most of the way, but the temperature dropped about 9 degrees as we arrived at the Fortress of Louisbourg. The Fortress is within a large forest in an area that is not exactly urban to start with, so when we got out of the car, it was amazingly quiet.
At the Visitors Centre I asked how Louisbourg was pronounced, and the woman said it depended (on whether you were English or French). The English pronounce it "LOO-iss-burg"; the French pronounce it "LOO-ee-borg". Other differences: what the English call Cape Breton the French called Île Royale, and PEI (Prince Edward Island) is Île St-Jean.
The Fortress is a National Historic Site and was included in our Discovery Pass. If it were not, we might have skipped it--at C$17.60, it would be a bit expensive for the three hours or so we had. It is really designed for a full-day visit, as it is really an entire town that was reconstructed. (The fact that it is entirely reconstructed is why it is not a UNESCO site--were it "real" it undoubtedly would be.)
Louisbourg was founded when the Treaty of Utrecht (after War of Spanish Succession) in 1713 took Newfoundland and most of Nova Scotia from the French. So the French in Newfoundland came to Louisbourg. One major advantage was that it was easier to reach than other locations because it is about the same latitude as France. And the fish in the area were much more important for the French than for the British because of the Catholic Church's "fast" days on which one could eat fish but not meat.
Louisbourg was French, but also cosmopolitan, with Basque, German, etc.--everyone but British. And even there, there was (illegal) trade with the British colonies (because waiting for goods from France took weeks). The latter meant that the British learned a lot about the fortress before they besieged it in 1745 (during King George's War) and 1758 (Seven Years' War). They acquired even more information when some were held in Louisbourg during King George's War and then exchanged for French prisoners.
Canada's first lighthouse was built here.
According to the guide, only 10% to 25% of the people here were literate, so signs were pictorial, and pieces of greenery set on signs meant "alcohol sold here". This seems like a lower literacy rate than among the British.
In the French system, women could inherit, so women could own shops, etc., and several widows had businesses here.
People grew vegetables, but not potatoes, tomatoes, or corn. The first two were considered poisonous, and the latter had not caught on yet.
Clocks being rare, recipes often gave the timings for cooking in terms of what prayer would take the same time to say.
There was a lot that was similar to the Citadel in Halifax: re-enactors, gun firings, and so on. Here they are French, of course, and there they were British, but the biggest difference is that here is a town rather than just a military fortress. Of course, not all buildings were open. Some are used inside for administrative offices; others may be being worked on. It also turns out that in both places the staff seem mostly English and almost all local to the specific area. (In the United States, the National Parks staff in a Park seem to come from all over the country.)
Marc Bloch said that history is "la science des hommes dans le temps." Whenever I read about archaeology I think of James Michener's book The Source. The book is a series of novellas about one area in Israel and the various people who lived there over the centuries, but the framing story is of an archaeological dig and what they find. For each item found, Michener wrote a story about how it got there. For example, there was a bullet from the 1948 war, a menorah from the Middle Ages, and so on. What I liked, and what stayed with me, was how the archaeologists did not always "get it right." For example, they found a carved hand holding a scraper from the Hellenistic Period and though it had broken off a larger statue, but in the story about it, you discover that this was all the sculptor carved: he just wanted to suggest the rest of the statue.
We arrived at the Clansman Motel (even with that initial 'C' it is not a name they would use in the United States). Our room was okay, but we could not get the WiFi to find any external sites. (It only occurred to me later that Internet Explorer might have worked where Firefox did not, and in fact that was the solution in the next place. Mark did have problems getting connected through Opera in Halifax.) Since our connections worked fine in Halifax this morning, I have to think it is some peculiarity of theirs, even though they claimed other people had no problem.
The choices for dinner in North Sydney are pretty slim if you do not want to eat at a chain. We ate at the "Lobster Pound Family Restaurant", which had lobster salad sandwiches and a lobster burger (?) on the menu, but no real lobster. I had fish and chips; Mark had roast turkey. The total was C$21.25, one of our cheaper meals. Food is just more expensive here, I guess.
The television in the room had terrible color, so we watch To Kill a Mockingbird. It was still good to be able to watch it on a television screen instead of on the DVD player. (The hotel in Halifax had all the video connections made inaccessible so one could not hook anything up to it.)
Misfortune(s) of the Day: Mark's belt that he bought just a few days ago in Yarmouth broke. Luckily, his pants were tight enough that they did not fall down. And we could not get the hotel WiFi to work.
July 19, 2009: A couple of days ago we had been told that the 8:30AM ferry would not leave until 11AM. This morning the web site said that check-in was at 11AM. (There was still no WiFi; I used the lobby PC.)
We hung around the room a while. As we were putting stuff in the car, we got to talking to someone else who was going on the ferry and he said we could check in, leave the car in line, and walk around the downtown area. So we checked out around 8AM and went to McDonald's for breakfast. They had a special, an Egg McMuffin and coffee for C$2, which is a real bargain here. (I did notice that their McLobster was C$7.49 rather than the C$6.19 we paid in the non-tourist area.)
We got to the ferry a little after 9AM. But they said because they had another (late) ferry leaving soon, there was no room on the dock for us to line up, and that we should come back at 11AM. Now, there is not much to do on a cloudy Sunday morning in (or near) North Sydney. However, we did have one errand to run--returning Mark's belt. There happened to be a Walmart in Sydney, so we drove there and sat in the lot listened to a BBC play on cassette until the store opened at 10AM. We browsed a little, drove back, filled the tank (to avoid having to after we got to Newfoundland), and went back to the dock at about 10:45AM.
From here on out, Newfoundland will be referred to as the Rock, because 1) that is what people call it, and 2) it is easier to type.
Now they had a ferry arriving and needed the dock area to unload it. "Come back at 1PM."
We started to drive along the shore towards Baddeck just for the scenery, but then Mark found a Provincial Park nearby. It turned out to be just a picnic area by the shore (beach? I am not sure what to call it), but sitting there eating apples and watching the waves come in beat sitting in a North Sydney parking lot. Also, the sky cleared and the sun came out.
We returned to the ferry at 1PM and this time managed to get onto the dock area, where we then waited over an hour until we could board the Joseph and Clara Smallwood. Right behind us on the dock were the folks from the motel!
Having a cell phone when you travel is a definite plus. First of all, the ferry people contacted us with at least enough information to save us getting up at 5AM. And we were able to call the cabins on the Rock to tell them we were not arriving until after midnight. They told us which was ours, said they would leave it unlocked with the light on, and warned us to be careful of the moose while driving after dark. We did need to do that from this end though, because I think we lose coverage when we get to the Rock.
Of course, we then sat on the ferry for a couple more hours before we finally left--at 4:23PM, almost eight hours late!
There is not much to say about the trip. It was a lot smoother than the Cat crossing, plus I took a motion-sickness pill. There was one whale, but we did not see it.
We docked at about 11:30PM and finally got off after midnight.
Misfortune of the Day: The ferry was much more delayed than they said, and did not leave until 4:30PM, and did not dock until almost midnight, so there was no way to get to our cabin at Gros Morne National Park tonight.
July 20, 2009: After much discussion with various people yesterday, we slept in our car in front of the Tourist Information Centre. We were by no means the only ones.
The problem was that the closest available hotel rooms seemed to be two hours away, and the fog was so thick we could not even read some of the road signs. So we and several others pulled over about two miles down the road from the ferry and waited for morning. It was not very comfortable, partly because we could not recline the seats fully because of the stuff in the back seat. Luckily it was not very cold, and in fact even got a bit warm, what with the windows closed. We had a woolen blanket but did not need it.
About 5AM we got up to a beautiful scene of the sky gradually lightening up with a crescent moon and a low layer of fog over the bay and the trees. We had coffee and doughnuts at Tim Horton's, and headed out for Gros Morne.
Another reason to wait is that if we had driven this last night we would have missed all the beautiful scenery. It looks a lot like the Canadian Rockies, but shorter. There are wooded slopes and lakes, there is not much traffic, and you drive on the Trans-Canada to get to it. :-)
Newfoundland is by any standards different. It, along with Labrador, was an independent country until 1949. Its time zone is a half hour out adjacent time zones. Its cell phone service is not shared by any other company. Part of it is covered by a piece of the European tectonic plate. Its provincial flower is carnivorous.
We arrived at C&G Cabins about 9AM. Our cabin was still waiting for us, so we unloaded the car and then took a two-hour nap.
The outside of the cabin is very plain and it does not have a view of the St. Laurence Bay or anything, but it is very nice inside. It has a separate bedroom (handy when Mark wakes up really early), a kitchenette with refrigerator, microwave, dishes, etc., and a TV with stereo input jacks. One down vector is that the bathroom has only a shower rather than a tub, but the shower head is really good. Another problem is that the water pressure is not quite up to multiple cabins--if our neighbor is taking a shower, our kitchen sink delivers a dribble.
After the nap, we went to what appears to be the largest grocery store in town: Bugden's Convenience Plus. (When I was young, military retirees used to drive long distances once a month to do their shopping at the base commissary; I suspect that here people drive to Deer Lake to do their major shopping.) We picked up some odds and ends for breakfasts and dinners: cheese, crackers, shrimp, crab, macaroni and cheese, beans, Vienna sausage, and grapefruit juice. (We may end up eating dinners out if that turns out to be our big meal of the day, but we still need food for breakfasts.)
Lunch was at the only restaurant in town recommended by AAA: Java Jack's. We shared a bowl of seafood chowder and a Thai shrimp noodle salad. The chowder was quite good, and the salad has lots of Atlantic (tiny) shrimp.
We have no cell phone coverage here (T-Mobile has not contracted with any local companies, I guess), but we do have free wireless from the motel (cabins). We got our final schedules for the convention, and Mark discovered that they have added him to two more panels, making three panels and two origami workshops total. And they want him to buy the origami paper and they will re-imburse him! Luckily, Michael's has stores throughout Canada and we will be near several.
We drove up to one of the shorter walks, around Berry Pond, and then decided to drive down to Tablelands to see how much time to allow to get there tomorrow for the guided walk. (None of the brochures seem to have distances listed, and using a distance guage when the road is twisty and turny is uncertain.) We saw two moose, a cow and a calf, grazing by the side of the road. Moose, surprisingly, are not native to Newfoundland. In 1878 a pair of Nova Scotia moose were introduced near Gander, and in 1904 two pair of New Brunswick moose were released near Grand Lake. However, the display in the Discovery Centre gave no hint as to why this was done. (It was not anything quite as bizarre as the project someone had in the 19th century to bring all the plants and animals mentioned in the Bible to the United States. It was as a food source for the locals.) There are now 100,000 moose on Newfoundland, with about 8,000 of them in Gros Morne.
We returned to the cabin, and had macaroni and cheese and crab for dinner. Unfortunately, the crab was shredded rather than chunks, but otherwise everything was good. I made iced tea by brewing double strength tea (in a saucepan) and then putting it in the refrigerator in a one-pint leftover container. (There were no jars or pitchers.)
Misfortune of the Day: We could not get the can opener to work very well; we managed to get the can of crabmeat half open, and could scoop out the contents from that opening.
July 21, 2009: We drove back to Tablelands for the guided walk. On the way we passed a "mirror lake"--a lake so clear and still that one can see a perfect reflection of the scenery in it. The best example of a mirror lake that I have seen was in Norway, with very similar scenery. So it is not surprising that when the Vikings got here from Iceland, they found the land inviting.
We got to the Tablelands and the tour(s) started at 10AM. I say tours, because there was one in English (with about forty people) and one in French (with eight people).
The sign at the beginning of the trail described the layers of the earth as the aesthenosphere/crust (340 kilometers thick), lower mantle (2533 kilometers), liquid core (2257 kilometers), and core (1231 kilometers). Those figures in kilometers seem awfully precise--I suspect they were originally rounder figures in other units that were converted. For example, a thousand miles is 1609.344 kilometers. But when you say something is a thousand miles away, you probably mean it is somewhere between 990 miles and 1010 miles (or so). That is between 1593 kilometers and 1625 kilometers (rounded to whole kilometers). So a reasonable statement would be that it was 1600 kilometers away.
The guide (Ryan) was very good, being both entertaining and informative. What makes the Tablelands interesting is that it is actually a piece of the earth's mantle rather than the crust. Interestingly, when Gros Morne National Park was created, it was chosen to be a representative sample of the western Newfoundland alpine environment, and the Tablelands were only coincidentally included. But by the 1980s, there were considered so important that they were one of the main reasons that Gros Morne National Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They are not unique: there are other similar sites in Canada (e.g., the White Hills in St. Anthony and the Lewis Hills) and in the United States (e.g., Staten Island, Quantico, Baltimore, Atlanta--all on Eastern seaboard). But here they are probably better exposed than on, say, Staten Island.
The talk was about geology, botany, and zoology, but there is also mathematics. Ryan asked which was higher, the Tablelands or the hills across the road. Almost everyone guessed wrong: the Tablelands are twice as high as opposite side of side. But the Tablelands are base, with no trees or anything else to give a sense of scale. This ties in with fractals and the notion of self-similarity.
Ryan used an analogy with an apple: the skin is the crust, the pulp is the mantle, and the core is the cores. The Tablelands is a piece of the mantle. As Ryan said, "Here the earth is flipped inside out." How did this happen? "Continents are big rafts floating on magma." What is now the Americas is called Laurentia, and Eurasia/Africa is Gondwana. The Atlantic was Iapetus. Laurentia and Gondwana collided a billion years ago (the sign said 450 million years ago). Normally you have have subduction (both plates move downward), but here parts of Gondwana rode up on top of Laurentia. After 250 million years, they split apart, but on a different line, leaving pieces of the mantle from Gondwana behind. The glaciers scoured off the crust, exposing the mantle. As I said, it is not unique--all of the Appalachian, Long Range, and Caledonian mountains are the same range formed from this piece of mantle.
The rocks here are peridotite (pe-RID-oh-tite), which is fairly dense. It is made of pyroxine and olivine, and loaded down with heavy metals: cobalt, chromimum, magnesium, nickel, and iron. It is the latter that accounts for the rust color. Some covered with serpentine, which grows on surface by a reaction between water and the calcium in the rock; this is the same process that can form soapstone. But serpentine also erodes quickly.
Trout River Gulch is a glacier valley. A river valley is V-shaped, a glacier valley is U-shaped. Someone asked about hiking. There is no official trail to the top of tablelands, but hiking there is allowed. However, it takes longer than people expect, about two-and-a-half hours the shortest way.
Up near the top of the Tablelands were white patches of snow. They are still there because the annual snowfall is ten meters. The snow blows off the top of Tablelands and accumulates in the holes/bowls on the sides, so is much thicker than it looks. It will disappear around mid-August, and the first frosts will come in September. The ocean moderates temperatures here, but it also means more snow and rain.
However, even with plenty of moisture there is not much vegetation. There are eighteen basic nutrients that plants need. Many are missing (there is no nitrogen, for example), and in addition, there are toxic elements such as cobalt and chromium. Still, there are about two hundred species of plants.
The trail is the old Trout River road from the 1950s and the 1960s, so the vegetation along it are typical road plants. further off the trail there was some maidenhair fern. Maidenhair fern is a deciduous temperate plant; what is it doing here? No one knows.
So with too little good nutrients, too much toxic minerals, and it being too windy and snowy, what do plants do. One approach is to "grow low and grow slow". The closer to the ground you are, the less wind there is. Anything standing up high is trimmed off by blowing snow or dirt.
another approach is hyperaccumulation. The sandwort hyperaccumulates toxic metals which it stores in its bottom leaves. Those leaves then die and fall off, but provide nutrients for the rest of the plant. (This seems like a violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics or something.)
Other examples of plants here are the potendilla (although it is a miniature version here), Canada wormwood, and harebells (hairbells?), which turn in the wind like a windsock.
Next came what Ryan called the "killing fields", home to several species of carnivorous plants. These do not use soil for nutrients, just as a home. There are no animals except insects, but all plants are carnivorous.
The most notable one was the pitcher plant (the Newfoundland provincial flower). The head attracts insects with pheromones (and is also used for reproduction). The pitcher below fills with water; the stem and the inside of the pitcher are slippery, and the lip of the pitcher has downward-pointing hairs. Midge larvae are found in the pitchers. The midges consume the insects that get trapped in the pitcher, the pitcher plant lives on the midge's excreta.
There is also butterwort, a lime-green star-shaped plant that has a slimy surface that grabs insects. The sticky false asfodel has a slender, sticky stalk with reb bulbs at top; insects are caught by the stickiness. The sundew is a small red fist with sticky protrusions.
Further along, we saw lush grass, daisies, ragworts, lady slippers, etc., which grow in a natural concrete (which is formed similarly to stalctites/stalagmites). Here it is called travertine, and is formed by seeps coming out. The plants in this area are all calciphiles.
There are lichens growing on granite (a "glacial erratic"). "Lichens no liken the peridotite," Ryan said. The granite is stable and clean of toxic metals, while the peridotite is full of heavy metals and erodes quickly.
Finally, we saw birch, juniper, and larch (tamarack). "In Newfoundland everything but birch and spruce are called juniper." (This is apparently true.) So we had a boreal forest only a few inches high. Here the juniper is only ankle-high but 5 to 6 meters across, and around 200 years old. As Ryan said, we are in a western Newfoundland old grove forest, with the same trees as across the road, but here they were two to three times older. Again, this is an example of "low and slow." As Ryan said, "Time has stopped on the Tablelands. It doesn't look it, but looks are deceiving."
A common word here is tuckamore. Tuckamore is a wind-shaped tree or trees (in German, it is called krummholtz). The trees show the direction of the wind even when the wind is not blowing, because they are permanently leaning in that direction.
The walk was a couple of kilometers each way and took about two hours.
Afterwards we drove to the town of Trout River and had lunch at the Seaside Restaurant: chowder, "fishburger", and pie. The chowder was not as good at Java Jack's. The fishburger was a piece of pan-fired cod on a hamburger bun. Mark had strawberry-rhubarb pie; I had partridgeberry pie. Partridgeberries are very tart, small, blue-black berries. The total came to C$43.29.
After lunch, we went to the Gros Morne Discovery Centre which is actually the main educational center for the Park. Here I finally learned what the fourteen mammals native to Newfoundland were: bats (2 sub-species), arctic hare, beaver, vole, muskrat, wolf, fox (2 sub-species), polar bear, black bear, Newfoundland marten, weasel, otter, lynx, and caribou. There are no native reptiles or amphibians, and only seven native species of fish in rivers and lakes. Green frogs were introduced in the 1800s, toads in the 1960s. Even the earthworm is non-native. It said the Eastern coyotes came across ice from Cape Breton, though it was not clear whether this was recent or not. (I do not think the passage freezes over now.)
While the arctic hare is native, snowshoe hares were introduced and have mostly supplanted the arctic hares. The Newfoundland rock ptarmigan split from other ptarmigan species 10,000 years ago, and may be another species in the making.
We returned to the cabin around 4PM. We were not sure how much housekeeping was included with a cabin here, but apparently it is more like renting an apartment. The woman did ask if we needed fresh towels, but we were pretty much on our own. This is not really a problem, since we make the bed and rehang the towels at home. The only question is whether we need to separate out any recyclables.
Dinner was franks and beans. We watched a Canadian film, The Englishman's Boy, about the Cypress Hill Massacre, a famous Canadian atrocity against Native Americans that would be comparable to Wounded Knee. It was, not surprisingly, very depressing.
Before going to bed we looked out to see how bright the stars were. Even here, we saw very few stars (though we did see some). Mark thinks there is too much light, but I think there is a thin high cloud cover that blocks out all but the brightest stars. The places we have seen the stars the best have been dry desert areas such as Arizona and the Australian Outback.
Misfortune of the Day: I had problems closing the driver's window after Tablelands--it seemed to jump the track as it went up and would not close completely. Lowering it and pushing against it from the inside closed it okay, but I would hate to have to do that each time. (It may actually have been the strong wind; time will tell.)
Update on a previous misfortune: While we sat at the Toyota dealership in Yarmouth, Mark was able to send in his entry to a contest on B movies. Well, he had the first correct answer--by about two hours. If we had not been there, he would not have won. (You may not be thrilled by the Kino edition of Hands of Orlak but we are.)
July 22, 2009: Breakfast was cheese, crackers, and grapefruit juice. We picked up the tickets for the boat tour of Western Brook Pond, which we had reserved two days ago. Their system here is that you can reserve ahead but you cannot buy the tickets until the day of the cruise. This solves the problem of dealing with refunds, and I guess they have a low enough no-show rate that it is not a problem.
For that matter, everyone is very trusting around here. We were in the convenience store parking lot when someone pulled up, got out of his car, and went in, leaving his keys in his car with the windows open. Gas stations have unlocked pumps; they trust you to come in and pay after you pump. No one seems to check the Parks passes at the entry or even at the trailheads or boats.
It was a 26-kilometer drive to the parking lot for the boat, and then a 3-kilometer walk to the boat. The walk was scenic, along we could not spend too much time dawdling on the way out. There is supposedly a fair amount of wildlife, but the only evidence we had was that we heard a woodpecker.
It started cool, but got hotter during the 45-minute walk (or maybe it was just the walking). Western Brook Pond is "one of the last wild, oligotrophic lakes in the world" ("oligotrophic" means very low in nutrients). The ion content is also so low that the water from it does not conduct electricity. It is 575 feet deep at the deepest point, and 425 feet deep at the edges of the cliffs.
(It is called a pond because the British tended to call everything smaller than a very large lake a pond. We would call it a lake.)
Since its connection to the sea is only by a small brook that runs seaward, the two boats that are used for tours had to be brought in specially. The smaller one hauled by sledge over the bog in the winter when it was frozen; the larger was brought in by heliocopter in four sections and assembled at the pond. We were on the smaller boat. The larger has guides speaking in both English and French, the smaller in English only. The pond is very smooth, so rough rides are not a concern.
The main feature of the boat ride is the fjord. Well, it is not exactly a fjord since it is no longer connected to the ocean. But it has all the other characteristics of a fjord, and looks like a fjord. It was a glacial valley with high sides--about 700 meters high, in fact, of granitic gneiss that is a billion years old. The cliffs were as high as Himalayas at one time, according to our guide.
There are many waterfalls off the cliffs, among them Blue Denim Falls, Woody Pond Falls, White Point Falls, and Pissing Mare Falls. They do not put much water into the pond. In fact, it takes fifteen years to refresh completely the pond, while most lakes refresh several times a year.
There are also hanging valleys. These are formed when smaller glaciers run into larger ones. As the larger glacier falls in height, the valleys formed by the side glaciers end in mid-air, halfway up the cliff. (If there is still ice in them, they are hanging glaciers.)
There was a caribou migration route, Woody Pond Gulch, to the High Level grazing area. There are 500 woodland caribou in Gros Morne (but 8000 moose). There used to be more caribou here; it was not clear whether they were replaced by the moose or decreased because of other factors.
On the way back, Newfoundland music was played. It has a very strong Celtic influence (particularly Irish). In fact, some of the songs were Irish.
We went back to Java Jack's for lunch (chowder and fishcakes). These fishcakes were more homogenous than the ones in Shelburne, with the fish, potatoes, and onions are chopped (or ground) together. Mark liked these better than the Shelburne ones, but I liked the different textures better.
By then it was 4PM and we were out of short nearby trails, so we decided to take it easy back in the cabin. (Ironically, though we had thought the boat trip day would be relaxing, we had to walk 3 kilometers each way, with hills, to get to it, making it as long as many of the standard trails.)
We watched Primer, which Mark had to discuss at the Worldcon, and Cocoon.
Misfortune of the Day: None apparent.
July 23, 2009: We left the cabin reasonably neat, though I left the discarded paper and cans on the table because I did not know whether they should be recycled or not, and if so, how. The manager was not there, so we could not ask her.
We drove north for about a half hour and stopped at Arches Provincial Park. This is not even listed in many of the books or on many of the maps. It is true that it is not a major site, but it is worth a stop if you are driving by. There are only three arches in a row along the shore, created by erosion fron the water, the wind, and the cobbles. It reminded me of a similar formation somewhere near Monterey or Carmel.
Another two hours (and half of the BBC adaptation of John Masters's The Nightrunners of Bengal) got us to Port au Choix (port-aw-schwa). On our trip to the Canadian Rockies two years ago, we had the BBC adaptation of the entire "Chronicles of Narnia" as our "in-flight mini-series." This trip we are doing John Masters's "Savage" series ("Savage" being the name of the family, not an adjective). here are five books altogether: The Deceivers, Nightrunners of Bengal, The Lotus and the Wind, Bhowani Junction, and The Ravi Lancers. The first is perhaps the best known, although Bhowani Junction was also made into a movie.
Port au Choix National Historic Site was hard to find--the signs were not obvious or consistent, and the GPS was almost useless. We eventually did find it though. This area was the site of settlements for five different groups: 1. Maritime Archaic Indians 4400-3200 years ago. Then the climate cooled and they left. Some of their graves contained Great Auk bills. Though they used spears, they did not appear to use atlatls. 2. Groswater paleoeskimos 2800-1900 years ago. They made fine tools and hunted Arctic seals. 3. Dorset paleoeskimos 2000-1300 years ago. They lived in larger groups and hunted harp seals. Then the climate warmed. 4. Beothuk (around 2000 years ago to 1829). The climate continued to warm. 5. Europeans 400 years ago. Actually, some might have been in the area 1000 years ago, but they had no settlement here.
They all came for seal, fish, and caribou. As the film said, "It's the place that endures."
I notice that the ages are expressed as "years ago". This avoids having to say "B.C." or "B.C.E."
We drove to a parking lot and walked what was supposedly a kilometer to Philip's Garden, where several of the excavations had been done. The walk seemed longer than a kilometer, and there was no real evidence left that we could see of any settlements there.
We decided to have lunch at the Anchor Cafe. We shared a chowder and a seafood platter that included North Atlantic shrimp; steamed mussels; pan-fried scallops, cod, halibut, salmon, cod tongues; and French fries. Cod tongues are indeed cod tongues; Mark rhought they were a little like oysters.
As we drove north we started seeing signs for Viking this and Viking that and Snorri Cabins. There were no Thorfinn Karlsefni B&Bs, though. We were staying at the Viking Nest B&B in Hay Cove. Hay Cove seems to consist of three B&Bs and about two dozen houses.
The B&B is very nice. One rule that's a bit inconvenient is that you have to remove your shoes at the door (Japanese style). If you have lace-up shoes, this makes getting your luggage a bit tricky.
Our room is "en suite": it has a sink and a toilet. The toilet was installed in the closet, and a folding fake bamboo door for privacy. There are a fair number of outlets, but the room is very cramped. Luckily there is a very comfortable family room where guests can sit.
I had a cup of tea and then we walked around Hay Cove. There was something in the cove that looked like a white styrofoam whale, but it turned out to be an iceberg. Icebergs are not all shaped like the ones you see in movies, looking like individual mountain peaks. Many are low and flat, having broken off ice sheets rather than calving from glaciers.
Misfortune of the Day: The Newfoundland Highway Department has decided to take this year to replace all the culverts in a long stretch of Highway 430 north of Gros Morne. (This highway, incidentally, is call the Viking Way.) They have not done any road construction along there since the highway was paved in the 1980s, so it is just our luck that this year is when long stretches are again unpaved (but at least they are gravel rather than dirt/mud).
Update on a previous misfortune: The car window seems to have recovered.
July 24, 2009: Breakfast was scrambled eggs and toast with local jams: bakeapple (cloudberry), partridgeberry, squashberry, and blackberry.
What is the name of the first European child born in North America? What you probably learned in school was Virginia Dare. These days they might acknowledge that there were plenty of children with some European heritage born in Mexico before her. But I don't think anyone learns that the first European child born in North America was Snorri Karlsefnisson, sometime about 1011. (In a sense, this is similar to how we are taught that the first novel was Samuel Richardson's Pamela (1740), or possibly even Miguel de Cervantes's Don Quixote (1605), with no mention of Lady Murasaki's Tale of Genji (1020).)
But it is clear from the Icelandic sagas that this was the case. It may not be clear where in North America Thorfinn Karlsefni established his settlement, but it is clear from the descriptions of the native inhabitants that it was North America. (Leif Eiriksson explored it a few years earlier, but Thorfinn was the first settler.)
The sagas are available from Penguin Books as The Vinland Sagas (ISBN-13 978-0-140-44776-7, ISBN-10 0-140-44776-8), translated by Keneva Kunz, with an introduction by Gisli Sigurdsson. (The Penguin edition I read was translated by Magnus Magnusson and Hermann Palsson, with the introduction by them as well, so it was almost an entirely different book!) Both editions include "Grænlendinga Saga" and "Eirik's Saga", as well as a long introduction on history, literature, etc., a glossary of proper names, and several maps. I have not seen the new edition; one suspects that there have been many discoveries affecting the belief in the accuracy or translation of various parts.
For example, Chapter 5 of "Eirik's Saga" mentions Thjodhild's Church, but the 1932 excavations of Eirik's farmstead at Brattahlid/Kagssiarssuk found no such building. So people used this as an example of the inaccuracy/unreliability of the saga. Then in 1961 a workman digging in Kagssiarssuk found remains and when that area was excavated, a very small medieval church was found which is now believed to be Thjodhild's Church.
There is definitely some humor in the sagas: "They stayed there [Straumfjord] that winter, which turned out to be a very severe one; they had made no provision for it during the summer, and now they ran short of food and the hunting failed. They moved out to the island in the hope of finding game, or stranded whales, but there was little food to be found there, although their livestock throve. Then they prayed to God to send them something to eat, but the response was not as prompt as they would have liked." ["Eirik's Saga", Chapter 8] Perhaps the best-known, though, is "[Eirik] named the country he had discovered Greenland, for he said that people would be much more tempted to go there if it had an attractive name." ["Grænlendinga Saga", Chapter 1]
And why was I reading these? Because we were visiting L'Anse aux Meadows, the site on the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland where they had discovered a Viking site dating from around 1000. Actually, "Viking" is probably an inaccurate term. "Viking" was a verb, not a noun. More accurately, it was a Norse, Icelandic, or Greenlander settlement, depending on how you parse the geopolitics of the era.
The Visitors Centre at the site discusses the various types of Viking ships: the Knarr (an ocean-going merchant ship), the Long Serpent (a warship), the Oseberg ship (a Queen's royal barge(, and the Gokstad ship (a combined warrior-trader ship). All had one large square sail made of woven wool and a side-mounted rudder. It took ninety women three years to spin the wool and weave a sail (and 300 sheep to provide the wool).
The site was discovered by Helge Ingstad after many years of searching for the Vinland of the sagas, and was excavated by his wife Anne Stine Ingstad. The site is actually much higher now, due to isostatic rebound as the ice on Newfoundland melted, which changed the geography a bit.
What they discovered indicated that there were no families here, but that it was a site for ship repair, and a wintering camp. (This would seem to me to indicate that this was not the site described in the sagas, since that seemed to be intended as a real settlement, but I could be confused.) However, there were women her, since the wives of the captain and other high-ranking men did come and did the cooking, preparation for winter,and so on. They also did spinning and weaving for sail repair. (Though no evidence of sheep was found here, the archaeologists did find spinning whorls and loom weights.)
The settlers must have sailed to northern New Brunswick, since New Brunswick butternuts were found in the excavations. Also, wild riverbank grapes grow in New Brunswick (hence "Vinland"). The Straumfjord ("strong current") was probably the Labrador current.
As I noted, bakeapples are really cloudberries. They are called bakeapples because when the arriving English first asked the resident French what the were called, the French said, "Cette baie qu'appelle [something or other]," meaning "This berry is called ...." But all the English remembered was "baie qu'appelle," or "bakeapple." Also, crowberries are blackberries and partridgeberries are ligonberries.
Supposedly "L'anse aux meadows" comes from a corruption of the French for "middle bay."
There is no much to see at the actual site. It is mostly depressions in ground, which had been excavations. When they were done, they covered the level they had gone down to with a plastic sheet and filled in the pits to preserve the site for the future.
One of the buildings was the site of the first iron working in the New World, as they could tell from the bog iron and slag they found. This was the reason for the site's selection as a World Heritage Site, rather than the first arrival of Europeans.
However, they built reconstructions of the long house and a few other buildings, and these are staffed by re-enactors. We talked to the re-enactors about various things, including fake "Viking finds" (such as the Kensington runestone), food (meat, fish, and root vegetables), and dragon heads on ships. Apparently historians know a lot about these, such as that they were used to control spirits, so they were removed when coming into one's home port, or turned inward or outward on the ship depending on what was needed.
Various possibly fake artifacts includ the Viking Altar Rock, the Vérendrye Runestone, the Kensington Runestone, the Spirit Pond runestones, the Maine penny, the Poteau Runestone, the Shawnee Runestone, and the Turkey Mountain inscriptions. I believe that the Sk lholt Map is considered valid, and the Vinland map was just last week declared to be almost definitely genuine.
As she was standing in what looked like short shubbery across the peat, one of the guides pointed out that all this was forest. At the time of the Vikings (which also the time of the "Medieval Warm Period") it was tall trees, which they cut down for boats and houses. Then around 1200 came a decline in temperatures, leaving to the "Little Ice Age" (16th to 19th centuries). This colder period meant that trees did not grow as well. The fact that whole sections had been cut also meant that the wind could come through more strongly, leading to more tuckamore (small dwarf trees, according to the guide here). The guide also said that the softwoods here are like hardwoods elsewhere, but I'm not quite sure what she meant or why that is. The land has risen a meter over the last thousand years, according to her.
The Vikings used landmarks more than stars for sailing, so they described various landmarks in the Vinland area. The "Wonderstrands" (a very long sandy beach that took a day to sail past) was probably Cape Porcupine in Labrador. But that was used for the preparation for D-Day and so the beach is covered with gunshells, making excavation difficult.
A Viking boat crew had thirty men and two to five women, all of whom lived in a single house. The most significant item found in the houses was a cloak pin that allowed precise dating of the site, because that particular style of pin was in use for a very few years.
There were four voyages. Leif first came for one year. Then Thorvald came next, but died either here or in Markland after three years. Thorinn and Gudrid spent two years here, and another year farther south, with sixty men and five women. (They still could have intended a permanent settlement, because they may have intended marriage with the locals.) And Freydis was here for a year.
The winter weather was fairly cold (5 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit), with snow drifts up to twenty feet, even though the snowfall was only about one foot.
The French translations of the English on signs here (or vice versa) is not always exactly the same. Sometimes one has more information than the other, or just phrased things differently. Here, for example, the English sign outside talks about "Norse" ships, but the French says "scandinavie". (Inside, the French says "nordique", so it is not that they do not have a word for it.)
As we drove in, by the way, we saw a half-dozen moose--more than we saw together at any other time on the trip.
We had a small lunch at Northern Delight: a boiled lobster each (not a full dinner, just the lobster). It seemed much saltier than the lobster we get back home.
The afternoon was actually a repeat of the morning. While we were taking the guided tour in the morning, it was raining. While we were having lunch, the sun came out, so we decided to take another one in more enjoyable weather. I have actually combined the information from the two into the single description above.
Dinner was at the B&B. Because there is very little anywhere close, they will provide dinner on request. So we had dinner at the B&B this night rather than try to find someplace. Dinner was baked salmon, shrimp salad, and cooked carrots, with a dessert of strawberry-rhubarb pie a la mode.
Misfortune of the Day: It rained on and off through the morning.
July 25, 2009: This was a laid-back day, since there is not two days' worth of things to do at L'Anse aux Meadows. There is a sort of parallel site called Norstead, which is entirely reconstruction and participatory activities (e.g., axe-throwing). Someone said that it was non-profit, but it sounded very theme-parky. It is probably more interesting for children than L'Anse aux Meadows, but it did not sound all that interesing for us.
On the other hand, L'Anse aux Meadows is so far from just about everything else, that driving here for just one day seemed too driving-intensive. So we decided to spend two days here, and for this we would just drive around and see whatever there was to see.
We started with St. Anthony, the "big town" of the area. (It had an actual supermarket, for example.) But given that its population is only about 2000, it is still pretty small. We went into a store called "A Buck or Two", which is a store that has most of its items for a dollar, but some are a bit more. At least that is more honest than stores such as "Family Dollar" or "Dollar General" in the United States which sound like dollar stores but have most items more than a dollar.
We started with Goose Cove. A short walk at the end of the road led to a gazebo on the cliffs, with a large iceberg sitting right there in the cove, almost as if it had been towed in and put in the ideal spot for people in the gazebo. There were several other bergs as well, further out. We stood there a while, and suddenly I spotted the back of a minke whale as it surfaced and then dove back in. It did this about four or five more times before disappearing down the shore, but this was the first whale we had seen in the wild. (Normally, whales appear just after we have gone back inside the boat, or on the other side of the boat from us.)
We went back to St. Anthony and drove out to Fishing Point. On the way we passed a water bomber, used in fire-fighting, which was a memorial to Captain Ronald Perry and First Officer Yanic Dutin, who were killed while fighting a fire.
People claimed there were lots of whales at Fishing Point, but the whales much have heard we were coming, because they were nowhere to be seen. We sat watching the water for a while, and then went into the restaurant there, the Lightkeeper's Cafe. The Lonely Planet guide said that the chowder and scallops were legendary, so we ordered those. The chowder was very good, the scalopps not so much (and like almost everything in the Atlantic Provinces, very salty). The total came to C$25.60.
After lunch, we drove to Great Brehat, which also had a climb up to a lookout point. We saw more icebergs, but no whales. There was a sign describing the various berries one would find in the area. It gave the origin of the name "bakeapple", but in what much be an inaccurate way, as it had the person just arriving asking in French, "Comment cette baie qu'appelle?" ("What do you call this berry?"). But if they were asking in French, they would not interpret "baie qu'appelle [whatever]" as being "bakeapple".
We drove along the road, taking various side roads into little coves, finally returning to the B&B about 4PM. There was still an iceberg in the cove near us, but it shrunk considerably over the past two days. We talked to some of the other people staying at the B&B, including a couple from Texas, and starting our packing up.
Misfortune of the Day: None apparent.
July 26, 2009: After breakfast, it was pretty much driving all day. It was cloudy for the only time on Newfoundland other than the morning at L'Anse aux Meadows. Four and a half hours brought us back to Rocky Harbour, where we had lunch at Earle's. Earle's is known for their moose dishes, so Mark had the moose stew while I had what is called a "Jiggs dinner": salt beef, potatoes, turnips, parsnips, and cabbage, along with what I guess was two kinds of bread stuffing.
I know it is a coincidence, but many bathwoom sinks here have those long faucet handles (rather than knobs) and they look exactly like moose antlers.
Another four and a half hours got us to Channel-Port-aux-Basques and our hotel for the night, the St. Christopher. There are not a lot of choices here, but this is not bad. The TV has usable audio/video input jacks, and there are laundry facilities. We did a couple of loads of laundry. As far as washing goes, one can throw everything together in a cold water wash; the real problem is the dryer. If you put it on low, the underwear does not dry. If you put it on high, everything else shrinks. The trick, I suppose, is to wash the underwear first with whatever else fits, then set aside the other stuff and dry the underwear on high. When it is done, you load the remainder of the first load (and the second if ready) and run on medium or low or whatever.
Misfortune of the Day: I suppose it was the rain, though since all we were doing was driving it hardly mattered.
July 27, 2009: The day started out gray, but eventually cleared up. The ferry, which had already been delayed an hour and a half as of last night, was now listed as delayed three and a half hours. At least we knew ahead of time, so we did not have to rush to check out.
We had breakfast at Tim Horton's (their equivalent of Egg McMuffins, but on biscuits). We figured that since our main meal was going to have to be on the ferry, we should have some protein for breakfast. We then returned to the hotel and watched the director's commentary on Primer (more research for Mark's panel).
At 10:45AM we checked out and drove the short distance to the ferry terminal, where we lined up for the ferry. We listened to several radio shows on cassette before boarding and finally leaving, slightly after 2PM.
We again sat in the cafeteria area at the back of the ferry. While providing plenty of chairs (and tables) away from the loud lounge singer and the television areas, it does have a lot of engine vibration. We eventually moved and found seats in another area of the boat. We talked for a while to a couple in a "mission caravan." They have lived in their motor home for fifteen years now, and stay in any one place three weeks or less. It is, however, a very big motor home, at least the size of a large tour bus.
We landed about 7 PM (having gained a half hour), and got to St. Ann's Motel very quickly. The room has a huge picture window overlooking St. Ann's Bay. It also has a small refrigerator, but no air-conditioning or telephone. The former is not usually a problem. but there has been a heat wave here with the temperature in the 80s Fahrenheit with no much breeze and it would be nice to have some way to cool the room off.
As for the telephones, we have not had a telephone in our room in any of the motels on Newfoundland, or here. Whether they just never caught on, or whether cell phones have precluded their need, I am not sure.
Misfortune of the Day: The ferry was three and a half hours late in leaving. Also, the WiFi network of our motel is not strong enough to reach our room at the other end of the motel from the office.
July 28, 2009: Today our plan was to drive the Cabot Trail. This means we have an enforced "late" start because of the fog--one cannot see much majestic scenery through thick fog.
Because we had no internet access in the room, and frequently not even in the office, we tried stopping at something labeled an "internet community access point" (with a big blue "@" sign). Apparently this does not mean wireless access in that area, but terminals or something inside (in this case, inside the fire station).
We stopped for breakfast at The Clucking Hen. This name seems very suitable for the Cabot Trail, which along with being very scenic, is also filled with arts and crafts places, New Age healing places, and so on. They are no more obtrusive than small general stores or that sort of thing, but one will pop up every few miles or so, often as an adjunct to someone's house.
I noticed at some point a lot of "For Sale" signs on houses and stores along the Trail. Whether this is due to the general downturn in business and tourism, or whether people who come here decide after a few years that the isolation is too much is not clear. It is the sort of area where the nearest supermarket could be a hundred miles away.
The Clucking Hen has WiFi, so we got a chance to check your email. With cell phone service spotty, and no phones in the motel room, email is the best way to keep in contact. And we do need to keep in contact. For example, Mark just found out that the convention expected him to buy the origami paper he needed (though he would be reimbursed). Luckily, we could also use the computer to find what Michaels crafts stores were in cities we would be in, because they are about the most reliable source for origami paper in bulk (as opposed to kits that come with instruction books but only a few sheets of paper).
We stopped at a rocky cliff overlooking the Bay of St. Lawrence to take pictures of the coastline and the waves crashing on the rocks. A family there was out climbing on the rocks near the edge, even though there were signs warning against it. And then the father was upset because one daughter was too close to the edge! It seems to me that by ignoring the warnings about climbing on the rocks at all, he was sending the message that it was safe.
The Cabot Trail runs around the northern peninsula of Capre Breton Island (part of Nova Scotia), with part running through the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Many of the signs along the Trail are bilingual. But outside the Park they are in English and Irish Gaelic, while inside the Park they are in English and French! Apparently, the eastern side of the peninsula was heavily settled by the Irish. (The area on the western side of the peninsula outside the Park seems to be more Acadien French.)
We stopped to see Beulach Ban Falls. We think of waterfalls here as huge cascades off a cliff (like Niagara Falls), but in this area they seem to be more like streams running down a very steep incline. They are pretty, but not nearly as dramatic.
There were a half sozen cars stopped by the side of the road at one spot. What for? A single moose, and not even a bull with antlers, but a cow. In Newfoundland, no one would even blink.
At the northernmost point (more or less) there was a pull-off where one could look for whales. At first we thought there were dozens of them, but most of what we were seeing were whitecaps. Still, we would see several gray shapes, so some of them were definitely whales. They were much more distant, though, than the one in Goose Cove.
In some sense we must have done the Trail in reverse direction, because the Visitors Centre for the Park was at the far end of the drive. But this direction makes more sense to me, because the passenger is on the better viewing (and picture-taking) side of the car. In any case, we got no real information on hiking trails, etc., until the end. However, given how long the Trail was to drive, it is unlikely we would have done a lot of hiking.
By the time we got to Cheticamp, we were hungry, so we had lunch at the Seafood Stop: seafood chowder, steamed mussels, and crab legs (C$31.32).
And then back to St. Ann's Motel.
Misfortune of the Day: Mark's watch battery died. Luckily, these days this means buying a new watch, since a basic watch is cheaper than a new battery. (This makes no sense, but it is also true of digital kitchen timers, which cost $1 versus more than that for replacement batteries.) I say luckily, because it is much easier to find a new watch than to find a battery.
July 29, 2009: We had breakfast in Baddeck at the Highwheeler Cafe: bagels, cream cheese, and lox (here called smoked salmon). Then we drove a short ways to the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site at Beinn Bhreagh. xxx Mabel Bell "Sound and Silence" Alexander Melville Bell's 1864 phonetic alphabet "Visible Speech" showed position of vocal organs for various sounds Edinburgh 1847 Brantford ON 1870 studied Mohawk using VS Boston School for the Deaf 1871 telephone patent 1876 03/10/76 Watson come here I want you married 7/11/77 gave her all but ten shares of BTC "I can't bear to hear that even my friends should think that I stumbled upon an invention and that there is no more good in me." Baddeck 1885 some here about telephone, but mostly post-telephone work "Air" first powered flight in the BE 1909 (Silver Dart) Aerial Experiment Association (Bell X-1 different company) "Ideas" AGB searched for Guiteau's bullet with metal detector lots of stuff of all sorts: hydrofoils, distillers, sheep, ... photophone (forerunner of fiber optics?) "Water" hydrofoils
After this was a long drive to Moncton. We stopped at a small bookstore in Whycocomagh (Chasing Tales), but found nothing of interest. We passed a house that had their front lawn covered with wooden stand-ups of the entire cast of the Simpsons. On the lawn they also had a guest book to sign, saying they were the "GooGoo Family". I saw this name elsewhere in town, so it must be a real name.
Mark got a new watch and origami paper for the convention. We then had a free dinner at Montana's. When we ate at Montana's in Halifax, they had a two-for-one offer: buy one dinner and get a coupon for another. The coupon had to be used by August 12 and was good only Mondays through Wednesdays after 4PM, but this just happened to be a Montana's in the town whre we wanted to eat dinner today.
Gas is about ten cents cheaper per liter in New Brunswick, but the prices being raised everywhere over the next couple of days. (Apparently each province has a maximum price at which dealers can sell gasoline.)
After dinner it was another hour's drive to the Fundy Bay Motel in Fundy National Park.
Misfortune of the Day: We left one of the ice blocks for the cooler in the freezer at the last motel (not a big problem, although by this time in the summer, the dollar stores are often sold out of them).
Also, the Fundy Bay Motel has the same WiFi problem--our room is not in range, so we have to go down to the office to use it. And one of the ceiling fan/light combinations is missing the chain for the lights, so if you want the fan on and the lights off, you have to actually remove the bulbs!
July 30, 2009: We had a real whiz-bang of a thunderstorm at 4AM, complete with lots of lightning flashes.
We had breakfast at the HarbourView Restaurant. Eggs, toast, bacon, and coffe for two for C$13.28 (about half what yesterday's breakfast cost). The HarbourView also has WiFi (and even quite a few accessible electrical outlets to plug into), so we got caught up on email. What it did not have (as Mark pointed out) was a harbour view. We asked about this and found out that they used to have a harbour view, but then someone built the Parkland Village Inn across the street and blocked the view. Still, one comes for the food--the view is what you spend the rest of the day looking at
We went over to Alma Beach about 10AM. Low tide was going to be at 1:20PM, so we saw the tide partway out, but it had still exposed a lot of beach/ocean floor. The Bay of Fundy is known for its huge tides, not in the sense of high waves, but in terms both of vertical increase in water level at high tide and of land exposed at low tide.
We drove down Point Wolfe drive and walked a little way along the boardwalk forest walk, but the weather was threatening and going the whole way down to the beach would mean coming back the whole way up from the beach. So we stopped at the first set of stairs and returned to the car.
Along this road is a covered bridge. New Brunswick has a very high proportion of the remaining covered bridges in North America. (Madison County has the rest. [That is a joke.]) There is also the site of a lumber town from about a hundred years ago. While the town shut down a long time ago, its effects remain. For example, running all the logs down the river scours the bottom and changes the ecology of it. Even now, it has not really recovered.
We took a drive through the forest, a five-mile loop that would have been prettier in the sunshine, but one takes what one can get. One has to fill the time around the tides somehow.
We returned to Alma Beach for the low tide and walked a bit on the gravel that was exposed. There were people walking much further out, but one needed shoes that could get wet and muddy to do that, and we did not have those. Still, we could walk out quite a ways. Closest in to the high tide line are cobbles, then gravel, then sand, and finally mud. It is only the wetter sand and the mud that is a problem.
On the way back we picked up a few pieces of litter that had either been toosed on the beach or recently washed up. But one sees a lot fewer bottles littering here, probably because they have deposits on them.
We took another forest drive that led to a waterfall, but when we got to the end, it started to rain buckets. We even had to wait a bit until it was just heavy rain before trying to drive back.
We went back to the room and watched The Natural. By then it had mostly stopped raining, so we went out and stopped in the used book shop (called, as far as I can tell, The Used Book Shop). I found two Agatha Christie collections that I did not already have because they had only English editions, and Mark got an Alistair MacLean to fill in the "3-for-$10" from that section. Then we went to the Tides Restaurant for dinner. This is the fancy restaurant in town. We had a bowl of chowder and a garlic seafood linguine (C$42.22).
Having bought an Alistair MacLean, we watched The Guns of Navarone.
Misfortune of the Day: It rained most of the day.
July 31, 2009: Today we went to Hopewell Rocks, which was not even on our original itinerary. But it should be higher on people's lists than the Fundy National Park (in my opinion). It is a privately owned attraction (as far as I can tell), but provides a lot more information about the tides and related topics than the National Park does. They even had a time lapse video of the tides, and a section on the Hillsborough Mastodon.
The rocks are Precambrian, 750 million years old. During the Devonian Age, Europe and North America crashed together, created the Appalachian chain in the Acadian Orogeny.
French for whale seems to be "baleine", but this includes baleen and toothed whales. The former are "les baleines … fanons", the latter "les baleines … dents".
What drives everyone's plans here are the tides. If you want to kayak around the "flowerpot" rock formations, you have to do this at hide tide, but if you want to walk around them, you have to do it at low time. Today low tide was at 1:42PM, and you were allowed to walk around the rocks from 11:12AM to 4:12PM. This window shifts a little less than an hour each day, so you could end up being able to walk only from 5AM to 10AM, or 5PM to 10PM--not very convenient for most people. We were here at a very convenient time, tidally speaking.
The "flowerpots" were created by uplist and then erosion by tidal action, and will continue for another 100,000 years, wearing some flowerpots away and creating others. During the tides, there is a change here in the water level of 35 feet (10 meters).
They describe what you do here as "walking on the ocean floor." Well, it is the Bay of Fundy, not the ocean per se, but it still have a lot of oceanic elements. There is of seaweed which is rubbery, strong, and plentiful. If you arrive early as we did, when you first walk down the stairs to the beach, it seems as though you cannot walk very far, but as you walk, the tide keeps going out, leaving more and more beach. We walked a long way out, spending almost two hours walking out and back.
At the far end we talked to a guide (not a ranger, but serving the same function) who was only in high school but quite knowledgeable and hoping to specialize in marine biology.
After we finished we stopped for a rest and a soda before returning up to the Visitors Centre and then over to Demoiselles Beach on the other side of the peninsula. This had a lot of mud flats when the tide went out. They were not completely flat, but had deep channels cut in them, looking something like canyons, and these are actually pretty dangerous. It is forbidden to walk (or slide!) on the mud flats because they are full of mud shrimp, which form the basic diet of a lot of the fish et al in the bay. It is also forbidden because if you fall or slide down into one of the channels, it is like quicksand and there is no way to get out. In spite of all the signs telling people that walking on the mud flats is prohibited, the guide still had to keep yelling at people to get off. (She said she had one family whose chidren were sliding very close to a channel. Given that children might think that intentionally sliding down into a channel would be like a water slide, this was very dangerous!)
Mud shrimp are very tiny, but we did manage to see a few in the mud, along with a snail.
On the way back we stopped at a ranch that supposedly had a good restaurant but it was closed for some concert. It turned out that the coming Monday was a holiday ("New Brunswick Day") and so there were a lot of special events going on throughout the province.
Instead, we went to Collins Lobster Shop in Alma and bought a three-pound cooked lobster, which they cracked for us, and provided forks and so on. We ate this on a picnic table in back of the shop. Cost: C$26.40. (Lobster here, by the way, is sold by the pound, not the kilo. Three pounds is actually a bit large for a lobster--the meat is not as tender, and the claws are getting a bit spongey. But they seemed to have them up to five pounds in size.
Misfortune of the Day: The door fell off the refrigerator in the room.
Update on a previous misfortune: On the plus side, they finally got the WiFi repeater fixed, so we did have WiFi in the room.
August 1, 2009: We had breakfast at the HarbourView and then drove to Saint John. (This is always spelled out, never "St. John", so as not to be confused with St. John's, Newfoundland.)
Saint John has a very good system of parking--it's free in a lot of the area. Even the parking garages are free on Sundays and holidays.
We went into the Old City Market, which is mostly food and souvenirs. Most of the food was either for cooking (we were hardly going to buy a couple of pounds of raw fish) or the usual candy, etc. We did buy a local delicacy: dulse. This is dried seaweed that Mark says takes remarkably like an old wallet.
We learned all about the Great Saint John Fire of 1877. It seems like every provincial capital we are visiting has had a major disaster.
We checked in to the Delta and discovered we had free garage parking until Sunday midnight, but they charged us for Monday. Since Monday was a holiday (New Brunswick Day), this turned out to be a mistake, but more on this later.
The New Brunswick Museum was right across the street. We started with a docent tour in the whale gallery. I knew there were baleen and toothed whales, but had not realized that baleen whale had two blowholes and the toothed whales only one. (In French the two types are called "baleine" and "cachalot".) The sperm whale also has a giant hole on top of the skull for the spermaceti organ. Humpbacks have barnacles, as do gray and other coastal whales. Right whales have whale lice. The minke is the smallest baleen, and as no pelvic bones (which are remnants of legs). It also has only a single bone in its inner ear. I had heard that the defining characteristic of mammals was that they have three bones in their inner ear, but the docent thought maybe in the minke there were three that had fused.
Whales also have no sternum, so beached whales die from crushing themselves rather than drying out or something like that. (I imagine that means that smaller whales have a better chance of survival.) Sperm whales have largest brain size of any animal.
You have heard of whales singing, but that is only baleens. Toothed whales click.
In an ajoining gallery they had a leatherback sea turtle. These eat jellyfish, and have no teeth, but spines in their throats to break up food. This one choked on a plastic bag.
There was a large gallery that was a "walk through time". Of the ten invertebrate phyla, seven have fossils from the Middle Cambrian.
They made the statement, "The Geologic Time Scale is an artificial division of the continuous history of the planet. Divisions are based mainly on changes in life. Divisions between Periods are are often associated with major events such as extinction." But the KT bounday (for example) is not artificial nor, one could argue, are the other mass extinctions.
Having said these boundaries are artificial, they then also said that the Proterozoic-Cambrian boundary is marked at a cliff face on the Burin Peninsula, NF. There was also mention of the Taconic Orogeny (tablelands).
In the art section, I particularly liked John Hooper's wooden squarish statues.
Dinner was at Taco Pica. It was good, but a bit more expensive than Latin American food back home. (It served a lot of Mexican food, but also had Guatemalan dishes.) I suspect Saint John doesn't have a large Latino population that would support inexpensive Latino restaurants.
Misfortune of the Day: I have no note of any.
August 2, 2009: Saint John is the sort of place where the McDonald's is closed on Sunday morning. So we ate at Reggie's, a locally famous short-order place. Pretty good, and much cheaper than Cora's (which had a branch just across the street from it).
We walked through Barbour's General Store, brought to the harbor area from elsewhere and serving as the tourist information center as well as a display of a general store from over a hundred years ago. They had all the usual stuff. One item I particularly noted was the Gold Dust Scouring Powder. This is because the illustration on the package was a fairly racist one (though typical of its time) and the product was featured in the alternate history movie C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America.
Although Canada is officially bilingual, it is bilingual the way Belgium is: some parts use English and some use French. New Brunswick is the only officially bilingual province.
We visited the Martello Tower. We had previously visited another Martello Tower in Ireland, the one that James Joyce lived in and then wrote about in Ulysses, and which is now the James Joyce Museum. The one in Saint John has a concrete superstructure added during World War II, making it a little less traditional. It was built in the early 19th century; the history section talks about what we call the War of 1812, and describes the cause as "the British were interfering with American ships". The Tower has been a recreational destination since early 1800s, and became a National Historic Site in 1924. It was used by the military during World War II, and a concrete superstructure added.
The exhibit noted, "No longer useful as fortifications, some towers were eventually adapted for other purposes." I suppose that is how James Joyce ended up living in the one at Sandycove. The name "Martello" came from Mortella, which means "myrtle" (referring to the myrtle that grows on Myrtle Point, Corsica).
The timeline was interesting in what they chose to include:
1807: abolition in British Empire, birth of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow [author of "Evangeline"], death of John Newton [composer of "Amazing Grace"]
1808: first typewriter, periodic table [by John Dalton], Duchy of Warsaw suspends the political rights of Jews, ...
1810: Magistrate Alexander Wood of York (Toronto) becomes embroiled in a homophobic scandal, ...
1811: discovery of the Macintosh apple
1812: recipe for ketchup
They also had an exhibit on the Great Saint John Fire of 1877. It seems as though every sizable town had a "Great Fire" between 1850 and 1920, probably because they were all built of wood.
Coming down from the Tower, there was a butterfly on the path. I did not step on it, thereby saving some future history. (Science fiction fans will understand the reference.)
We then went to Wolastoq Park (not Fort Howe Lookout Point as we were trying to do, but could not find). This had statues by Albert Deveau of important people in the history of Saint John, including those of the Wabanaki tribes (the Maliseet, the Mi'kmaq, the Passamaquoddy, the Penobscot, and the Abenaki).
The next stop was the Jewish Historical Museum (which had just moved last year). We had a very young guide, and the museum was fairly low key, with only a small collection.
Dinner was at the Sahara, a Lebanese restaurant. There is a Lebanese restaurant in New Jersey also called the Sahara. This is strange, as the Sahara is nowhere near Lebanon. (Well, on a galactic scale it is, but it's like calling a Tex-Mex restaurant the Nebraskan.
Afterwards we walked along the waterfront and read various informational plaques, which told us things such as that Louis B. Mayer, Donald Sutherland, and Walter Pidgeon were all from Saint John.
Misfortune of the Day: I called home and discovered that my father had fallen and broken his hip! However, the doctor said that he should be able to regain enough use that he will not need a wheelchair. (He was already using a walker.) August 3, 2009: Breakfast again at Reggie's. We left in the rain and drove to Fredericton, or more accurately, to King's Landing, When we left we noticed that no one was collecting parking fees or receipts because it was a holidat, so when we got home we wrote the hotel, asking if they had not made a mistake in charging us for Monday. They apparently had, because they immediately refunded one day's parking.
King's Landing is one of those "living history" villages, like Sturbridge, Massachusetts. We spent some time at a demonstration of the Celtic drum (bodhran), which is made of goatskin and has a crosspiece on the underside. Most of them these days do not come from Ireland or other "Celtic" areas, but the Middle East.
In the printer's office, we learned that different fonts and sizes slugs have distinctive slots on their sides to identify them.
We visited a sawmill (where the man working it says that he still thinks in feet rather than meters). The buckwheat miller in real (current) life used to be a peacekeeper in Cyprus.
The best part was talking to the people there, though not in their roles, but in their attitudes towards the roles.
When we got to our motel nearby (the Riverside Resort), at about 5PM, our room was still not ready. We went out to eat at the Hilltop and then checked in. It was not a very good motel, with too few electrical outlets, and a TV that was unusable with a DVD player.
Misfortune of the Day: Our room was not ready until quite late.
August 4, 2009: This was basically a driving day, since there was little between Fredericton and Montreal of interest, or at least of short-term interest. The drive could conceivably be done in one long day, but why pay high Montreal hotel prices rather than stay a couple of hours out of Montreal and then drive in the next morning?
We ended up staying in Shawinigan, Quebec, at a Comfort Inn. We went to the main restaurant area, but these all seemed fairly pricey, so we looked further afield and ended up at a pizza place called Stratos. While it was more expensive than pizza places back home, it was still more reasonable, and more interesting, being a local sort of place rather than a tourist one.
Misfortune of the Day: None that I can recall.
August 5, 2009: We drove to Montreal and checked in to the Hyatt. See my convention report for our Montreal stay. However, I will continue to list the Misfortunes of the Day here, just so you do not think they ended.
Misfortune of the Day: Contrary to implications, the Hyatt does not have free WiFi. It is C$4.95 for two hours, or a C$50 upgrade (per day, one assumes) gets you breakfast, WiFi, and access to the concierge lounge. Luckily, the convention provided WiFi in the lounge/exhibit area, though that meant carrying the PC around most of the day.
August 6, 2009:
Misfortune of the Day: The programming committee apparently assumed that Mark would bring a copy of Primer, the film he was on a panel discussing after a viewing thereof. Normally, of course, this would not be the case, but Mark had decided to bring it to watch on the trip to refresh his memory! However, it was a fifteen-minute run each way for him to go back to the hotel room to get it.
August 7, 2009:
Misfortune of the Day: None that I noted
August 8, 2009:
Misfortune of the Day: The wireless capability in our netbook seems to have stopped working--it does not detect any wireless networks even when other people's laptops do.
August 9, 2009:
Misfortune of the Day:
Update to a previous misfortune: The problem with our netbook was that one of us must have accidentally hit the key to disable the wireless capability. It is right next to the key that tells the netbook to sleep, so it is incredibly easy to do. August 10, 2009:
Misfortune of the Day: None that I can recall.
States not seen in license-plate spotting: GA, HI, ID, IN, KS, LA, MN, MT, ND, NE, NM, NV, SD, UT, WA, WI, WY
Provinces/territories not seen: NU