This is primarily a travel blog in which I write about traveling in our motorhome. Our travels have

Nacogdoches, TX, United States
I began this blog as a vehicle for reporting on a 47-day trip made by my wife and me in our motorhome down to the Yucatan Peninsula and back. I continued writing about our post-Yucatan travels and gradually began including non-travel related topics. I often rant about things that piss me off, such as gun violence, fracking, healthcare, education, and anything else that pushes my button. I have a photography gallery on my Smugmug site (

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Canada Day Eve

We caught a break this afternoon when the sun came out for a few hours.  I actually got a little sunburn on the top of my head!  This morning was a little foggy, especially on or near the water, but at least it wasn’t raining.  Carol Ann and I drove over to a place called Blue Rocks, about 3 or 4 miles further out the peninsula towards the Atlantic.  The coast out there is very picturesque and rugged.  It was foggy on the drive out to “The Point” but the sun came out for the drive back. While out there we ran into some other members of our group – Dan & Stacha and Candy & Alice.

After enjoying the scenery at Blue Rocks we drove up to Mahone Bay, about 5 miles north of Lunenburg.  Mahone Bay is a small village that looks like it should be on a postcard. Lunenburg is larger with a harbor filled with fishing boats.  Mahone Bay is a place where the “well to do” go for a vacation and their harbor is filled mostly with pleasure boats.  It’s a little more “upscale” than Lunenburg.   Carol Ann and I saw a store named “Mahone Bay Outfitters” and decided to go in and see about the rain gear we really need.  It turned out that all they “outfitted” were women’s feet.  Carol Ann took the opportunity to look at a nice looking pair of waterproof boots but didn’t have her glasses on so asked me to read the price label for her.  I believe it read $487 so she quickly put them back and we left.  I thought the name of the store was a little misleading.   It should have been called “Mahone Bay Expensive Women’s Shoe Store.”

There was a “Drivers’ Meeting” this afternoon during which we learned that our next stop, Peggy’s Cove, is a little too soggy to accommodate our motorhomes.  The RV Park to which we were travelling tomorrow is currently having tow trucks pull motorhomes out of the mud because the unusually high rainfall has turned the park into a bog.  Therefore, we are staying here one more night and then driving on to Halifax, which would have been our destination after Peggy’s Cove.  Another night in Lunenburg is fine.  This may be a very old town but internet-wise they are way ahead of most other towns.  The city has implemented free high-speed Wifi throughout the town.  Just connect to the "lunenburgwifi network" and you are good to go.

We will be staying 4 nights in Halifax instead of 3.  One of the optional activities for Peggy’s Cove included having your nails “done.”  When it was announced that we would not be staying in Peggy’s Cove Barb wanted to know if her nail stop had been “terminated.”  It’s only 21 miles from Halifax so she will be able to keep her appointment it seems.  I never made one for myself.

Because we are skipping Peggy’s Cove and going straight to Halifax we will only have about 60 miles to drive on Tuesday.  The RV Park in Halifax will not let us check in until after 11:00 so Paul, our Wagon Master, said there is no need to leave here before 9:30AM.  Fine with me.  I asked everyone to please be quiet when they start hooking up in preparation to leave, as I would be sleeping in.  I don’t know why everyone gets in such a big hurry to be on the road so early when our drives have been so short to this point.  We do have some really long ones coming up later in the trip but so far it’s just been 60 to 100 miles from one RV Park to the next.

Have you ever heard of a "Blind Crest" or “Flying Stones?”  Sounds like the Flying Stones should be a rock band.  I also though that a Blind Crest was some kind of rare bird.  “Oh look, Harold!  There’s a Blind Crest on that limb!”  But, no, none of those.  They are orange caution signs along the highways in Canada.  Flying Stones means to beware of loose rocks or gravel that may get thrown up and crack your windshield.  A Blind Crest means you can’t see the top of the hill you are about to climb (I think).  Even that doesn’t make much sense to me.  I believe it may be similar to another sign I’ve seen warning of “Hidden Drives”.  Why did they hide them?

Tomorrow is Canada Day.  I think it’s kind of like our American 4th of July but is on the 1st of July.  The City of Lunenburg is sponsoring a celebration tomorrow from 11:00AM to 1:00PM with free hotdogs, burgers, music, etc.  Most of us are going to see what it is all about.  Should be fun (if it doesn’t rain!).

It’s almost 9:00PM and still not dark but the fog is rolling in as it did last night.  There is also 10 mm (millimeters) of rain forecast for tonight.  That sounds like a lot if you aren’t familiar with the metric system but it’s only about ¼ of an inch.  When I was in the third grade in 1953 we had to learn the metric system because the US was going to change over to it.  That was 60 years ago and we are no closer now than when I was in the third grade.  In the pharmacy profession we finally did switch over to it and I am really glad.  When I was in pharmacy school I had to work with grains, scruples, and drams.  That system originated in Greece and was in common use in England in the 1600’s.  I much prefer using grams and milliliters.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

"What it Was Was Football" (Andy Griffith)

This morning we managed to slip back into last place.  It was only a few minutes after 9:00AM when we pulled out of Annapolis Royal but with the exception of Herm and Georgia, the “tail gunners” (always bring up the rear) we were the last to leave.  Carol Ann asked me to tell Herm that trying to be early wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.  We are quite happy sleeping in and waiting until the hustle and bustle is over and everyone is out of the way.  It rained on and off during the 96-mile drive and there were no multilane or divided highways so it took us right at 3 hours to reach Lunenburg.  There was only one mishap that I am aware of.  Jim and Lynn’s motorhome suffered a windshield wiper malfunction (as in it seems to have fallen off) requiring them to stop.  Fortunately, Rich and Helen came along and Rich helped with a “temporary” fix (it’s liable to fall off again at any time so I’m told).

Even though we were the last to leave this morning we seemed to have arrived at the Lunenburg Board of Trade RV Campground at about the same time as everyone else.  We had to wait in line behind about 5 other RVs out on the road before we could enter the park.

After arriving in Lunenburg and getting the motorhome parked it wasn’t long before the few “Type A” personalities in our group were outside in the rain washing their windshields and wiping down their cars.  Howard was even rinsing off his motorhome and car with a water hose!  In the rain! These guys need to find some other outlet for that pent-up energy.  It seems like too much fruitless work with it raining every day.  Maybe Carol Ann and I are just lazy.  Anyway, we do have our motorhome washed at least once a year.

A little before 2:00PM we car-pooled down to the Atlantic Fisheries Museum for a tour.  It was quite interesting but I had trouble understanding the guide (not a language problem – just a hearing problem) so I just hung out in the back of the crowd and did a little exploring of my own.  Thursa gave me some very useful photography tips during this time.  She is a “don’t attempt this at home” professional photographer.  I’ll be sure and take advantage of that by hitting her up every once in a while for more tips.  I suppose she could tell me to p _ _ _ off if she wanted to.

Carol Ann and I skipped the “Lobster Lore” lecture at the end of the tour (got enough of that in Bar Harbor) and browsed through the ubiquitous gift shop after which we treated ourselves to some ice cream.  Ice cream shops in the Maritimes are like Dunkin’ Donuts were in Maine.  Every little bump in the road has at least one.

We were supposed to go on a walking tour of the old town after the museum tour was over but it was pouring down rain so most, if not all, of us opted out.  It would have been more of a wading than a walking tour. 

Instead of the wading tour, Carol Ann and I drove around the town looking at old houses.  The historic district is basically the whole town.  Lunenburg was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.  It is said to be the best example of a planned British colonial settlement in North America.  It was established in 1753 (four years after Halifax was founded) and hasn’t changed a whole lot since then.  It has retained its original layout, which is based upon a rectangular grid pattern that was drawn up in England.  All but the fortifications still exist today.  The original layout consisted of seven north-south streets and nine east-west streets.  Each block was divided into 14 lots, one for each settler, who was also given a larger “garden” lot outside of the town limits.  The citizens have maintained the city’s identity over the past 250 some odd years by preserving the wooden architecture of the houses (95% are built from wood).

Lunenburg has a protected harbor on the Atlantic Ocean and fishing has always been the dominant industry.  One of the most famous fishing vessels was the Bluenose, a fishing schooner built in 1921.  She was also a racing ship and became an icon for Nova Scotia by winning the International Fishermen’s Trophy for 17 straight years.  The "International" Fishermen’s competition was limited to Nova Scotia and Maine.  The Bluenose was wrecked beyond repair on a reef off of Haiti in 1946.  In 1963 a replica, the Bluenose II, was built at Lunenburg using the original Bluenose plans.  The money to build the replica came from the Oland Brewery as a marketing tool for their Schooner Lager beer brand and as a pleasure yacht for the Oland family.  It was sold to the government of Nova Scotia in 1971 for $1 or 10 Canadian dimes and now serves Nova Scotia well as a tourist attraction.

We had dinner tonight with Rich and Helen at The Knot Pub.  The food and beer were pretty good and the prices were very reasonable.  I got a burger for $6 instead of the usual $12 price.  It wasn’t yet dark when we entered the pub so it took a few minutes for my eyes to adjust and for me to realize that I was not back in one of my old college haunts.  Wide-screen TVs were on almost every wall and a football (not soccer) game was in progress.  I saw the yellow and green uniforms and thought it was kind of early, even for pre-season games, but the Green Bay Packers seemed to be playing somewhere that was very warm and sunny.  By the time we were seated I realized that it was not the NFL but the CFL.  It was the first game of the season and the Saskatchewan Roughriders were playing the Edmonton Eskimos.  They play in the summer and early fall.  They start early because it’s too cold in the winter.  I don’t know where today’s game was being played because I thought it was raining all over Canada.

Where do the CFL players come from?  There are only 27 college football teams in Canada so I expect that they may take a few of the leftovers from the NFL draft.  Canadian football is a bit different from American football.  I don’t know why they had to make it different.  I guess it was so they would have a good excuse for not playing against any American teams!   Not really.   They actually experimented with American expansion teams over a 3-year period in the 1990’s.  The experiment failed.

Back to the differences.  For example, when I first noticed the game on the pub television, the score was 35 to 1.  How in the world do you score 1 point?  It sounds like an extra point (or point after touchdown) without the touchdown.  Well, I looked it up and discovered that one point is awarded for a “safety” (player receiving the kick-off fails to return it out of the end zone).  American football awards two points for a safety, UNLESS (I discovered) the safety is scored on an extra point or two-point conversion attempt.  The American rule for the one-point safety is so complicated that there are only two know occurrences of it happening in Division I college football.  There has been no one-point safety scored in the NFL since 1940.

The best seats at a CFL game are not on the 50-yard line.  They are on the 55-yard line.  That’s right.  The field is 110 yards long (plus about 12 yards wider).  Maybe it’s a metric thing like the liters at the fuel pumps.  Also, a Canadian football team has 12 players on a side instead of 11 as in American football.  The extra man is in the backfield.  They probably need him there because they only have 3 downs to move the ball 10 yards instead of 4 downs as in American football.  With only 3 downs, the Canadians throw the ball more than the Americans, if you can believe that.  One of the good things about Canadian football is that a team only has 20 seconds from the end of the previous play to run the next one.  In college and NFL football a team has 40 seconds to get the ball into play.  American football allows each team to have three timeouts in each half.  The Canadians allow only one timeout per half and there is no two-minute warning.  However, in Canadian football, the clock is stopped after every play during the last three minutes of each half.  Something really weird is that the referee can actually give possession to the defensive team if he feels that the offensive team has repeated (how many I don’t know) “delay of game” penalties. 

There are a lot more differences in the two games than I care to read about.  It seems like most of the changes made by the Canadians were to make the game move faster, which is a very good thing.  I think I have covered the main ones adequately.  At least enough to justify my calling the Canadian game “strange.”

Tomorrow is a “free day” and the first thing on our agenda is to buy some wet weather gear.  I still refuse to wear one of those funny looking rain hats common to the Maritimes and New England.  Perhaps a rain slicker with a hood will do.  Also rain pants and some rubber boots (Wellington’s, they are called up here).  Maybe even a life preserver.  It’s raining that much.

At the moment it is 8:30PM and you can’t see anything outside.  No, it’s not dark yet.  (at least another hour to go).  It’s pea soup fog.  We are overlooking (I use the term loosely as it is mostly just "over", there isn't much "looking" due to the fog) the harbor and it sounds like a foghorn contest down there.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Annapolis Royal

It seems to rain a lot up here in the Maritimes.  At least it has in the places that we have visited so far.  Today was no exception as we boarded the bus for a tour of the area.  With rain outside and 44 bodies inside of the bus it didn’t take but a couple of minutes for the windows to fog up with condensation.  As we rode along, Paul, the Wagon Master, was pointing out landmarks to help us navigate when we pull out tomorrow morning.  Of course, we couldn’t see the landmarks but everyone seemed to be in a good mood with a lot of joking around and laughing.

Our first stop was the Port Royal National Historic Site, a reconstruction of a small French compound begun in 1605, making it one of the earliest European settlements in North America.  The “habitation” lasted until 1613 when it was attacked and destroyed by an army of 300 men from Virginia.  The Virginia colony claimed land all the way up to and including Nova Scotia.  It wasn’t really much of an attack.  The 100 or so men (no women) at Port Royal were out working and left the gates to the compound open.  After all, they hadn’t been bothered by anyone in eight years.  So when the Virginians/British arrived they just walked in, looted the place, and burned it before returning to their ships.

The men of Port Royal only lived there for one year at a time.  They signed a contract to work for a year, when the next supply ship arrived with new workers.  Their primary purpose in being there was to trade with the local Mi’kmaq Indians for beaver pelts, which were shipped back to France to be made into beaver skin hats (the “fashion rage” of the times).  Just as an aside, rabbit fur was also used to make hats but it first had to be processed with salts of mercury (which is toxic).  After a hatter had absorbed enough mercury into his body he would begin to suffer from dementia.  Hence the term, “mad as a hatter.”

These guys at Port Royal must have gotten quite bored during their year of service.  They worked long hours and their diet was poor.   Scurvy would hit them really hard during the winter months.  To help maintain morale and make their evening meals more enjoyable they established what was probably the first social club in North America.  The Order of Good Cheer was established to “keep our table joyous and well provided.”  It included a good-natured competition by the members who would take turns providing food and entertainment for a banquet.  At the end of the meal, the responsibility would be passed to the next member and challenged to “top that!”

Fort Anne, the oldest National Historic Site in Canada, was our next stop.  It was a star-shaped fort (similar to Fort Beausejour, at which we stopped yesterday - except larger).  Construction of the fort began in 1702.  This area was one of the most hotly contested territories in North America and it changed hands several times between the French and the British. 

After Fort Anne we were taken to the German Restaurant and Bakery for lunch.  After hearing about the French, British, and Acadians for the past several days, Rich was wondering why we were going to a German restaurant.  Good question.  But it was also a good lunch and we bought a few items from the bakery to take back to the motorhome.

Once we finished lunch we went to the Historic Gardens in Annapolis Royal.  By the way, Annapolis Royal means “the royal city of Anne (the Queen).”   The gardens included 17 acres of what was described as “horticultural excellence.”  Almost everything was in full bloom and I took several hundred photos that I now have to plow through and reduce to a workable number. 

It is late afternoon and still raining.  We are scheduled to go on a graveyard tour at 8:30 tonight, rain or shine.  I guess it will be rain.  How could it shine at night, anyway?  Everyone will be given a lantern with a candle to help light the way.  I hope we are able to find our way in the rain.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

To Err is Human, Although Embarrasing

We started off on the wrong foot today and the rest of the day was up and down.  This morning was actually our earliest start so far.  We bragged to Herm, the Tail Gunner, that at this rate we would be the first rig to leave the campground by the end of the trip.  We probably should have waited a little longer before leaving.  Maybe we should have followed someone (but that doesn't always work).  We turned out of the RV Park, drove up to the crossroads, and turned left (we should have gone straight).  We then realized we were on the ramp for 101 West instead of East!  It’s a divided highway so we had no choice but to keep going until we got to the next exit.  Fortunately, it was only a couple of miles or so.  We managed to get on the correct highway and heading in the right direction with only about three other RVs seeing us screw up.

Our next task was to get fuel because we were down to almost one-quarter of a tank.  Irving is a big name in fuel up here and our trip log listed an Irving station that was big-rig friendly just on the other side of Truro (where we watched the Tidal Bore yesterday).  We were behind Barb when we took the exit ramp but were caught at the stoplight.  We watched Barb as she pulled into the station and we also saw Richard and Mary’s coach there, already at the pumps.  We spotted two diesel pumps for trucks on the backside of the station and pulled around to that side.  Truck pumps are a lot faster than “regular” pumps and I prefer them if available.  The lanes are usually easier to get into when you are driving something as big as a motorhome with a tow-car (after all, they are for 18-wheelers).  I did a big circle around the pumps to come in from the other side and pulled up to one of the pumps.  I was shutting the engine down when someone began tapping on my driver’s side window.  It was Richard who had seen me pull into the rear pumps and ran over to tell me that only trucks with Irving cards were allowed to use these pumps.  He knew this because he had also tried the same thing when he first arrived at the station.  I pulled out, drove back around the station, and pulled in behind Barb and that’s when I noticed that Barb’s lane did not have diesel available.  Her motorhome has a gasoline engine.  I can’t back the RV with the tow-car so I had no choice but to wait until she had pulled off and then wait for a pickup to leave the lane next to her so I could cut across to that lane, which had a diesel pump.  I was blocking two lanes but, what the hell.  This was the third pump I had attempted to use and I wasn’t moving until I finished filling the tank.  This was also our first fill-up in Canada and it really did hurt.  The pumps show Canadian dollars and liters instead of US dollars and gallons (of course).  I don’t know exactly how much the fuel cost per gallon, but four liters (about a gallon) was $5.20 Canadian, which would be a little bit more in US dollars.  At 7.5 miles per gallon you can do the math to see how much 2,500 miles in Canada is going to cost in fuel.

After filling the tank we got back on the highway and continued towards our first stop, about 80 or 90 miles further up the road.  It was the Gran Pré (not the race) National Historic Site, which was dedicated to the history of the Acadians who were expelled by the British back in the 1750’s.  By this time we were kind of taking it easy and following several other RVs of our group.  “Gran Pré Road” was the name of the road that we crossed at the cross-road but there was no sign for the Historic Site so we all continued straight ahead, right into the SMALL town (with SMALL streets) of Wolfville.  People stopped on the sidewalks to watch us parade through, and then watched us again as we paraded back out, once we found a big enough place to turn around.  We didn’t know it at the time, but we weren’t the first of the group to do this.  We got some directions and went back to the Gran Pré Road.  There was a sign for the historic site on this side of the intersection and we took a left and were there in about a mile.  They had a large parking lot for RVs so we had no trouble parking.

Once inside we watched a very interesting 22-minute video from which I gathered that Acadians  are probably not big fans of the British.  The film told the story of the “Great Expulsion”.  It was when the British shipped the Acadians out of Nova Scotia because they would not sign an oath of allegiance to Great Britain.  It reminded me of how we Southerners still lament about the “War of Northern Aggression,” or "The Lost Cause".

We also saw an exhibit that depicted how the Acadians lived.  But, the best thing about the place was the garden out back.  It was very well manicured and would have been perfect for photographs if only there had been a blue sky instead of a gray overcast.  

As we were leaving Gran Pré we noticed Candy and Alice and Herm and Georgia getting ready to leave.  Carol Ann and I decided to take a short cut instead of backtracking to the highway but it took us through Wolfville again and slowed us down.  As we were getting back on the highway we met Herm and Georgia getting off to find a restaurant and then we came up behind Candy and Alice about 15 or 20 miles before we were to exit.  So much for the short cut.  We settled back and followed the rest of the way.  

We are now at The Cove Oceanfront Campground, right on the Bay of Fundy, near Annapolis-Royal and Digby.  The sites are a little narrow and we had to back in at an angle.  There is a picnic table between each coach but with our slides out it is almost impossible to walk around the table.  We were so close to the table that I couldn’t open my storage bay door to get out the water hose.  No sooner had I slid the table over when a guy from the RV park came running up and told me I couldn’t move the table because they used them to “guide” the RVs in (they use the tables as "borders" for the sites).  I told him it was in the way of my slide-out but he told me that the slide-out would clear the table just fine.  I trusted him.  Another mistake!  My slide-out pushed the picnic table over about two feet.  I don’t think it did any damage other than a couple of scratches, which is a lot less than I got on the Mexico trip last year.

We are having a great time, even though it is cold, foggy, and wet most of the time.  Springtime in Canada!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Tidal Bore

As I mentioned in yesterday’s posting, the power adapter for my Mac laptop was only working off and on, mostly off, and Carol Ann had volunteered the services of her Dell until we could get to an Apple Store next week in Halifax, NS.  This was bothering me more than it should, but I just wouldn’t know what to do without the use of MY computer.

And then today my prayers were answered!  On the way to the Elm River Campground near Truro (we are now in Nova Scotia) we went through Moncton (back in New Brunswick) where I spotted a big familiar sign that read, “STAPLES”.  It was only 9:05AM and there were only two cars in their parking lot so I was afraid that the store might not open until 10:00AM.  I pulled into the parking lot, jumped out, and headed for the door.  I held my breath until I reached it and saw that the store was indeed open.  Oh, sweet salvation!  Now, did they have what I so desperately needed?  YES!  They did!  An 85W Power Adapter (charger) for my MacBook Pro.  I didn’t care that it cost $78 Canadian, it was going to be MINE.  I returned to the motorhome with my new power adapter a changed person.

We continued East on Trans Canada Highway 2. Just before entering Nova Scotia we turned off for a little side trip to see the remains of Fort Beausejour, a Canadian National Historic Site.  It was star-shaped and built by the French in 1751 to maintain the land route between Louisbourg and Quebec.  No buildings remain, but there are stone foundations and underground rooms where their gunpowder was stored.  The earthen walls encircled by a mote still remain, which gives you a pretty good idea of what it may have looked like back in the 1750’s.  The British besieged the garrison in 1755 and after two weeks the fort’s French commander surrendered to the British who renamed it Fort Cumberland.  It was then used as a major hub for the expulsion of the Acadians by the British.  Many of the Acadians returned to France, but there was also a large number that settled in Louisiana, where their descendants are known as the “Cajuns”.

We passed (literally, no pun intended) on the Nova Scotia Anne Murray Center (or Centre as they spell it up here).  I don’t think I would have been able to listen to “Snowbird” one more time.

We arrived at the Elm River Campground a little past noon, setup the RV, and had lunch.  At 2:00PM our group car-pooled to Truro to watch the tidal bore come up the Salmon River.  It was scheduled to pass our viewing location at 3:10PM.  We set up our chairs and tripods along the bank of the river and eagerly waited for almost 45 minutes until someone yelled, “Here it comes!”  You are probably wondering, “What in the Sam Hill is a tidal bore?”  Well, it is a rare natural phenomenon occurring on several rivers that empty into the Bay of Fundy.  As I have mentioned previously, the highest tides in the world are in the Bay of Fundy and the surge of the incoming tide reverses the flow of these rivers, one being the Salmon River in Truro.  The reversal appears as a wave, or crest of water, traveling upriver. 

So there we were, 50 or 60 people lining the riverbank with cameras in anticipation of this very rare event (it occurs about every twelve hours but in only a very few locations).  When I heard the shout announcing its arrival I turned on my camera and placed it in video mode because I suspected a video of this advancing wave would be much more dramatic and spectacular than still shots.  When I looked through the viewfinder to focus the camera I could not see the wave at first.  Traveling at about the speed of a fast walk, a small ripple of water made its way around the bend in the river and started towards us.  It may have been a rare phenomenon but it was not very dramatic!  We all watched this little wave as it passed by us and continued up the river.  However, the water level was rising at a rapid rate and within a few minutes had risen several feet and completely covered a sand bar in the middle of the river.  Once the "bore" had gone past and the sand bar was covered we folded our tents (well, our chairs) and drove back to the campground.

Tonight we are having a group hot dog supper and tomorrow we will continue our Canadian adventure by driving to Annapolis Royal, NS.  At 165 miles, this will be our longest one-day drive since we have been in Canada.  We will be there for two nights before traveling to Lunenburg, NS.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Two Tour Members Lost at Flowerpot Rocks!

This morning we only had to drive a couple of miles to Hopewell Cape and the Flowerpot Rocks.  Paul, our Wagon Master (tour leader) had a key to an employee-only road that allowed us to drive right up to the viewing area.  This kept us from having to drive to the main building, park, and ride a shuttle to the viewing area.  Paul, in the lead car, unlocked the gate and Herm, the “Tail Gunner” and last car through the gate, closed and locked it. 

One of the Rangers, Meagan, was at the viewing area to meet us and take us on a tour.  From the viewing area we descended about 100 (give or take a couple) steps to what would be the floor of the bay.  It was low tide so we were walking on what you might call the “ocean floor”.  There were several very tall (5 or 6 stories high) rock formations that stood along the coast.  Thousands of years of erosion had carved them out of the cliffs and separated them from the mainland.  They are called the Flowerpot Rocks because trees cover their tops.  At high tide they are actually islands.  There is a difference of 50 feet or more between high tide and low tide.  We were able to walk around and through (some were arches) them, which was kind of weird, knowing that a few hours from then we could be under 50 feet of water!

After the tour we were supposed to drive up to the visitors’ center to view an interpretive video.  Carol Ann and I were the first to leave the parking lot and drive up to the building near the viewing area.  We waited for 5 or 10 minutes but none of the others showed up.  Carol Ann convinced me that we were in the wrong place and should have driven back out through the gate and taken another road to the visitors’ center.  We hopped in the car and took off in an effort to catch the group.  However, we ran into a little problem.  The gate across the road was closed and locked.  We were locked in!  We turned around, drove back to the viewing area, and found an employee who was kind enough to come and unlock the gate to let us out.  We then managed to find our way to the visitors’ center, arriving just as the video presentation ended.  We found Herm and his wife Georgia and gave them a good-natured hard time about leaving us locked up down at the Flowerpot Rocks.  It was a little bit embarrassing but no harm was done.

Carol Ann and I then drove to Cape Enrage, about 25 miles south, to see a lighthouse and to have lunch in the lighthouse keeper’s cottage-turned-restaurant.  I don’t really eat much seafood and the only non-seafood items on the menu were vegetarian burgers and a Caesar’s salad.  I had the salad and a glass of Moosehead Light while Carol Ann had a lobster roll.  After a stroll around the cape I took Carol Ann back to the RV and returned to Flowerpot Rocks to photograph the rocks at high tide.  Of course I had no key to the gate so I had to go to the visitors’ center and ride the shuttle over to the viewing area.  I took several photos right at high tide, which was at 2:11PM today, then jumped back on the shuttle, got the car, and was back at the RV by 2:30PM.

Once back at the RV and downloading the photos to my computer I noticed that the battery was almost at 0%.  It was plugged in but not charging.  Another problem!  The cord must have a loose or broken wire because I was able to manipulate it until it finally began charging.  Unfortunately, it stopped charging again a little while ago so I have to finish this before the battery turns into a brick.  Next week we will be in Halifax, NS where an Apple Store is located.  I’ll make sure to find it and buy a new charger.  Meanwhile, I will be forced to use Carol Ann’s Dell (pure horror to a Mac user!).

Monday, June 24, 2013

Fundy Scenic Drive

No post yesterday because by the end of the day I felt like I had been "rode hard and put up wet!"  We did go on the scenic cruise of the St. John harbor and mouth of the St. John River where the 30 foot tides cause the river to reverse.  The boat was not very big but did seem to have a very powerful inboard diesel engine.  It needed that power to make headway against the extremely strong currents made by the dramatic tides.  The boat was open with two rows of bench seats, back-to-back, down the middle of the boat behind the driver’s console (where the driver stood).  In the bow were seats for 4 people.  There were perhaps 14 – 16 total souls on board.  All but the bow seats were covered by a a canopy.

The weather wasn’t bad, just a little nippy with a little fog out in the Bay of Fundy.  It was just past slack tide, when the bay and the river levels were equal, and the tide had begun going out towards the bay (it would be low tide 6 hours later).  Rich and Helen and Carol Ann and I were the last to board so we got the bow seats. 

While motoring around the harbor it began to get colder, (low 50’s) but we had dressed for cold weather so it wasn’t too bad.  However, when a light rain began falling on us in the bow with no canopy over our heads, it began moving towards “bad”.  The driver (pilot, captain, or whatever you call them) offered us yellow rain coats, which we gratefully accepted.  By this time the current was quite severe, creating white water rapids and whirlpools.  Just as we arrived back at the dock the rain began coming down harder.  In other words, it was horrible boating weather.  Glad I didn't take my camera.

We left St. John this morning a little before 10:00AM for the 107 mile drive to the Ponderosa Pines Campground near Hopewell Rocks.  We drove through the Fundy National Forest of Canada and stopped for lunch in Alma, a small fishing village on the Bay of Fundy.  The village is centered on the small delta of the Upper Salmon River and Cleveland Brook, where the locals rely on lobster and scallop fishing plus tourism.  The population is only 232 but boasts 2 motels, 1 hotel, a service station, 2 churches, a liquor store, 2 grocery stores, a bakery, and several restaurants.

We didn’t get to see much of the scenery along the drive due to fog and light rain.  However, since our arrival at the campground the weather has improved 100% and the sun keeps peeking in and out.  This is really a beautiful campground, right on the bay.

Tomorrow we are going out to the “Flowerpot Rocks,” twice.  Once at low tide and again at high tide (or maybe it’s high then low tide).  In between, we plan on driving about 20 miles back down the coast to photograph a lighthouse.  Hopefully the weather will cooperate.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Reversing Rapids

It was only about a 62-mile drive this morning to St. John, NB, which was a blessing as I was not at 100%.  We were the next to last RV leaving but the drive was made easier by a brand new divided highway over the entire distance. 

We are currently in a 22,000-acre city park; designed by the same landscape architect who designed Central Park in NYC, except Central Park is ONLY about 12,000 acres.  There are seven lakes/ponds in the park plus numerous hiking and horse trails.  The RV parking area is quite large with what looks to be about 100 sites.  We have water and electricity but no sewage.  There is a dumpsite that we can use if necessary.  We shouldn’t need it for the two days we spend here. 

This afternoon we went on a bus tour of the city.  It’s old and there is a lot of industry but it does have some nice areas.  The main draw here is the Bay of Fundy with its 30-foot tides at this part of the bay.  The St. John River empties into the Bay of Fundy and during high tide the river reverses and salt water can be tasted 60 miles up river, if you drink river water.  There is a narrow portion of the river that during high tide will have Class 5 rapids flowing away from the bay.  At low tide the water reverses and there are rapids going back towards the bay.  At “slack tide”, which is halfway between high and low tides when the bay and river levels are the same, the river is as calm as a pond.  Tomorrow we are going out on a boat to see what its like.

The day after tomorrow we will leave St. John for Hopewell Cape, NB about 107 miles further north.  We will go out to see Flower Pot Rocks where the tide is 50 feet!  At low tide you can go out and walk around the rocks on the ocean floor.  Then you go back at high tide and see the difference that 50 feet of water makes.  I’ve seen pictures on the Internet and it’s pretty awesome.

The Wi-Fi here is very “iffy” so this may not get posted tonight as intended.  When we go out to dinner tonight I will take the laptop with me and try and find a hotspot.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Tonight's Post Has Been Cancelled Due to Illness

I have been fighting a cold for more than a week now and am in the third day (I believe) of a toothache.  The cold is almost gone and is now the least of my problems.  I began taking an antibiotic when the tooth pain first began.  That and the Tylenol Extra Strength seemed to be doing the job until yesterday afternoon.  That’s when the tooth pain was kicked up a notch or two and I had to forgo the trip out to Minister’s Island.  To add misery to pain, I became nauseated before bedtime and was hugging the toilet in no time, or as we use to say in my younger days, “Praying to the porcelain goddess and calling Ralph!” 

With the tooth still aching I finally had to resort to some Vicodin ES that was left over from Carol Ann’s hip replacement last spring.  I started with half of a tablet and then the second half of the tablet and then still another half.  This morning I was no better and had to cancel out of the morning’s bus tour and lunch.  While I was still in bed, Carol Ann found a dentist that would see me at 11:30AM.  While sitting in the chair waiting for him I informed the attendant that I was nauseated (“I’M GOING TO THROW UP!!!”) and she offered me a receptacle (“HERE’S A BUCKET!!!”) and handed me the trashcan.  After 3 such episodes and an x-ray the dentist gave me a prescription for a new antibiotic and recommended an OTC anti-nausea medicine.

We returned to the motorhome where I promptly returned to bed.  It is now 8:30PM and I have been up about an hour, managing to eat some scrambled eggs.  Now it’s back to bed and hoping that tomorrow will come up roses because we will be driving to our next stop, fortunately only 72 miles distant.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Welcome to Canada!

Canada – Day 1

We crossed the border into Canada today.  We had read the rules on exactly what, and how much of it, one was allowed to bring into Canada.  There are three main things to be concerned about.  (1) Firearms, (2) Tobacco, and (3) Alcohol.  Canada is really anal when it comes to firearms.  They don’t like guns and don’t allow them to be brought into Canada by the average citizen.  Shotguns and rifles may be brought into Canada in a very few circumstances (mainly for hunting), but ABSOLUTELY NO HANDGUNS!  I know a person who tried to sneak a handgun into Canada a year or two ago.  He was caught, the gun confiscated, and he received a hefty fine.  I imagine that his name is also on some kind of list that will guarantee him extra special attention the next time he goes to Canada.

Carol Ann and I had no firearms or tobacco in the coach when we arrived at the border but, as mentioned earlier, we were over the limit for alcohol.  If asked if we had anything to declare and we responded in the negative we would be in big trouble if they decided to check.  However, if we declared the alcohol up front we could be charged a hefty duty for being over the limit.  If directly asked we planned to answer truthfully as lying to customs and immigration authorities is not a good idea.

The tour leader told us that the most likely questions posed to us would concern (1) Your citizenship?  (2) Why are you coming to Canada?  (3) How long will you be in Canada?  (4) Do you have any firearms?  (5) Do you have any tobacco?  (6) Do you have any alcohol?  (7) Do you have anything you wish to declare?  We were somewhat anxious and so we practiced with these questions and how we would answer them.  You can’t help but be a little bit nervous when being questioned by the customs and immigration people.  It’s natural.

Here is what I was afraid would happen:

(Border Agent):  “Welcome to Canada.  What is your citizenship?”
(Me):  “You are welcome.  We are from Texas.”
(BA):  “Sir.  Please turn down the volume on your radio. 
(Me):  “Sorry ‘bout that.  I just like my hip-hop and rap music loud.”
(BA):  “Thank you.  Now, of what country are you a citizen?”
(Me):  “America.”
(BA):  “So, you are a US Citizen?”
(Me):  “That’s a fact, Jack!  Born and bred right in the land of the free!”
(BA):  “Why are you visiting Canada?  Business or pleasure?”
(Me):  “I’m hoping to have a most pleasurable sojourn in your very nice country, sir.”
(BA):  “How long do you plan to be in Canada?”
(Me):  “Depends on how long the money lasts!  Ha!  That’s a joke.  47 days.”
(BA):  “Do you have any firearms?”
(Me):  “Shoot, I reckon!”
(BA):  “In the vehicle?”
(Me):  “Well, you didn’t ask if I had them with me.  No, I left all eleven of them back in Texas.”
(BA):  “Sir.  Do you have any firearms in your vehicle?”
(Me):  “Which vehicle?  The motorhome or the car we are towing?”
(BA):  “Do you have firearms in either one of the vehicles?”
(Me):  “Well, let’s see.  No sir.  I believe I left all of them back home in Texas”
(BA):  “Are you sure that you don’t have any firearms in your vehicle?”
(Me):  “Now, would I lie to you, sir?”
(BA):  “Sir.  Pull your motorhome over into that parking area behind the barbed wire fence.  HEY, AGENT BRICK!  BRING THE DOG, THE PRY BAR, AND THE X-RAY MACHINE TO THE SECONDARY INSPECTION AREA!”

And it could only get worse from that point on.  Instead, this is what actually occurred:

(BA):  “Welcome to Canada!  It’s a beautiful day.”
(Me):  “Thank you sir.  Here are our passports, pet certificates, and insurance papers.”
(BA):  “I see you brought your babies with you.”
(Me):  “Yes sir.  Three cats.”
(BA):  “What is the license plate number of your vehicle?”
(Me):  “Which vehicle?  The motorhome or the car we are towing?”
(BA):  “The motorhome.”
(Me):  “Oh, that would be UGA…. er, Carol Ann, what is our tag number?”
(CA):  “UGA 67.”
(Me):  “Yes.  UGA 67.  University of Georgia.  No, I didn’t mean that it was a Georgia tag.  It’s a Texas tag but I’m a University of Georgia alumnus alumnae alumni graduate.”
(BA):  Smiling as he handed back my documents, “You have a good day sir.”

And that was it.  I sure am glad we didn’t pour out any of the alcohol before getting to the border!  Plus, I was sure that we would be strip searched for handguns because we were from Texas!  All of that worrying for nothing.  We crossed over into Canada and continued on our way to St. Andrews where we are camped in the Kiwanis RV Park, right on the water.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Bus Ride

This morning we boarded a bus for a tour of Acadia National Park (along the Loop Road) with a stop for lunch in Bar Harbor.  Carol Ann wasn't feeling well (trying to catch my cold) and stayed at the RV.  I wasn't feeling great but did go on the tour.  Our first stop was the top of Cadillac Mountain.  Not really much of mountain as far as mountains go, only about 1500 or so feet high.  But it is the highest peak that can be seen from the Atlantic Ocean between here and Brazil.  When the sun rises each morning, the very first piece of land in North America to feel its rays is the top of Cadillac Mountain.

There were two other stops on the tour, Sand Beach and Jordan Pond, that were new to me (Carol Ann and I drove the Loop Road a couple of days ago).

People get real excited about sandy beaches up here, which is understandable, because most of their beaches are very rocky.  It was a sunny day and a lot of people were on Sand Beach but I didn’t see anyone in the water.  Even on a hot day up here the water is too cold to support human life for very long.

Jordan Pond is the only place in the Acadia National Park that serves food.  Most people seem to eat at tables on the back lawn that overlook Jordan Pond.  We were only there a short while so didn’t get to eat.

The bus then took us into the town of Bar Harbor and dropped us off for a couple of hours.  Most of the group had lunch in one of the restaurants recommended by the tour guide.  Rich and I had a different idea.  We went directly to the Cottage Street Bakery and bought popovers to go.  We found a shady spot on the Village Green and ate our popovers with butter and blueberry jam.  After we finished the popovers, we went across the street to an ice cream parlor and got dessert.  We sat outside and ate ice cream and did a little people watching.  It seemed like everybody in town was a tourist (except for the people working in the shops and restaurants).   

Bar Harbor is the summer playground of some very wealthy people who have a lot of influence on what happens or doesn’t happen in Bar Harbor.  They are very picky about the type of businesses allowed to operate in the town.  For example, there are no fast food restaurants and no Walmart in the town.

There is a sand bar in the bay, which at low tide provides a land bridge from Bar Harbor out to one of the five Porcupine Islands.  You can walk or drive your car over to the island as long as you get back to the mainland before the tide comes back in.  The difference between high and low tides here is about six or seven feet, based on the moon, and the tide changes four times a day (like someone I know but will not mention).

I walked around town taking pictures and worked my way back to where the bus would pick us up and return us to the RV Park.  By that time I was beat.  I’m still not over my cold and yesterday afternoon a tooth began to ache.  I have had trouble with it previously and really need to get a root canal.  However, I phoned my dentist back in Texas and asked him to call the local Walgreen’s with a prescription for an antibiotic (metronidazole) for me.  The last time I had a problem with this tooth I took the same antibiotic and it at least delayed the need for a root canal.  Hopefully, it will do so again (at least until we get back to Texas in late August).  I wouldn’t wish a root canal on my worst enemy.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Blueberry Pie Was Excellent!

This afternoon an orientation meeting was held and everyone stood up and introduced themselves to the group.  “Hi, my name is (insert name here).  I am from (insert town here) and a retired (insert occupation here).”  When it got around to one guy, let’s call him John, because that is his name, he introduced himself and stated rather emphatically, “I am NOT retired!”  I meant to ask if he was bragging or complaining.  Another member of the group introduced herself (I won’t mention a name for reasons that will soon become obvious) and said she was retired from the CIA. I wanted to ask what she had done at the CIA but was afraid she might have to shoot me after telling me.  I assume she was not speaking of the Culinary Institute of America.

Then, this evening I had my first taste of lobster, or as they say in Maine, "lobstah".  The tables were covered with newspaper and a big empty bowl sat in the center of each table.   At each of the six places lay a plastic bib, a plastic fork, and a nutcracker.  The nutcracker would be used for breaking open the big claws so that the meat could be pulled out.  It was just like the ones we used back in Georgia to crack the shell of a pecan.  This did seem a little better than using a pair of pliers from Home Depot.

The boiled-alive, now deceased, lobster was dropped onto my plate and appeared to be staring at me.  It had two long tentacles, two bug-eyes, and ten legs.  The ten legs included a pair of big claws (the “Pincher” claw and the “Crusher” claw) and eight legs that it used for walking. 

I required help in dissecting the thing and I got a quick lesson in how and what to eat (there is some really gross stuff inside of a lobster!).  All of the parts that are supposed to be good for eating are encased in a suit of armor (hard and boney calcified material).  My “helper” picked the thing up in both hands, grabbed one claw, ripped it off, and then did the same with the other claw.  After that he held the head in one hand, the tail in the other, and twisted and pulled until he tore the head from the tail.  Then he cracked the armor of the tail and yanked it off (the armor, not the tail), exposing the meat (a big muscle).  The tail is where most of the meat is located and is the easiest to access.  I was told that there was also some meat in the head and body but I wasn’t about to stick my fingers inside and probe around for meat after seeing some of the very unappetizing stuff inside. 

There was some green yucky stuff, called the “tomalley” (I thought they were saying “Tamale” at first).  This is the digestive gland and is not usually eaten, although there are some people who consider it a delicacy.  These are probably very strange people and should be avoided if at all possible.  If the lobster is female, there may also be some yucky red stuff inside.  This is the “roe” (unfertilized eggs).  Some people consider this a delicacy.  They are not quite as strange as the people who eat the green stuff but I’m still not too sure about them.

The Gulf of Maine Research Institute has published a set of instructions on how to eat lobster.  If you read them you may never want to eat lobster again.  For example:

“Most people start by breaking off the legs….Don’t throw these away; there are plenty of delicious morsels inside!”

As for the claws, “Tear them off at the first joint, again with a gently twisting motion.”

“Again, check for especially tasty morsels in small parts!”

“You may also encounter the gills, the circulation system, and green “tomalley” (the digestive gland).”

In regard to the small flippers on the end of the tail, “These provide tasty if miniscule chunks of meat to those who don’t mind a little extra work.”

So, how was I going to eat this thing when I really didn’t like looking at it or touching it?  Sometimes we just have to step up to the plate (no pun intended) and do unpleasant things even when we would rather not).  You have to psych yourself up and say to yourself, “I can do this!”  And then you force yourself to eat it, while the entire time your expression is frozen into a grimace.  Eating should be a pleasant experience.

As I have said before, and still say, these things are one of the grossest looking creatures I have ever seen.  They do look quite similar to a crawfish, which I consider an insect and will not eat.  Rich, who was sitting to my right tonight, even likened it to a giant roach because of the antenna and the crunching noise it makes when stepped on.

Considering what a lobster dinner will set you back these days, you have to work very hard for a relatively small amount of meat, which must then be soaked in melted butter to give it some taste.  It’s just not worth it to me.  And did I mention how ugly the things are? 

The blueberry pie was excellent!