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6.28.09- The last day… home again!

June 28th, 2009 4 comments

This is the last day of the trip. No pictures… all I did was drive from north of Hartford, CT to Avalon, NJ.

I guess it is the instinctual fear of anything having to do with traffic around New York City that made me change my plan and take Rt. 84 to Rt. 684, the Tappan Zee Bridge and the Garden State Parkway. It was a long ride home, something over 300 miles.

All told, the trip to Canada took 28 days and Scooter did 3,500+ miles. I did not record the beginning mileage for Toad (the Honda CRV that I towed), but I would guess that I did at least 1,000 miles in side trips.

The trip was incredible. The first three weeks offered nothing but beautiful weather. The last was cloudy with drizzle… nothing that would hinder my efforts to see the sights. Best of all are the people of Canada. From John (Patrick Whelan Duffy) Gillis at the Hartt Island RV Park in Fredericton, N.B. to the three people who helped get me back across the bridge in St. John, including the gentlemen who actually got in his car and led me to the bridge. (I have his name… just can’t find it right now.) Then there are the people I met who just happened to be traveling when I was. Tom and Ramona Connor- thanks for the eagle in the tree and for the head’s up about the tour to A. G. Bell’s estate. Phillip… you were truly a bright spot in my life… your intellect, talents and accomplishments are amazing. It truly was a pleasure meeting and getting to know you. I hope we stay in touch… not only for my benefit, but so that you might meet another of your political persuasion- my brother-in-law! You two would have a great time talking, particularly about history. And thanks to all the ladies who manage the RV parks, run the information booths, sell the ice cream and, apparently, do almost everything else in Canada- they all were friendly, warm, humorous (or at least seemed to appreciate my humor) and most attractive. Unfortunately, though the offer was jokingly extended on numerous occasions, none agreed to join me on my Canadian adventure, although one or two looked tempted!

Canada is BEAUTIFUL. While the major cities are interesting and splendid in their own right, I especially appreciate the latter part of the trip- the more remote towns, the woods (we’ll never run out of Christmas trees, telephone poles or toothpicks), and the beautiful rivers and streams I drove over had to be filled with trout. (No, Charlie and Frank, I did not fish- no time.) If I had to pick, my favorites are: large city- Quebec City (if I could speak French), otherwise, Ottawa or Halifax; mid-sized city- Fredericton… a river runs through it; small town- Lunenburg or Digby, both are just plain nice.

Have not figured out the fuel mileage that Scooter achieved… it’s probably horrifying.  (Later entry: 10.1 mpg and very happy about that!) Worse than that will be the credit card statement! (We’re not discussing that although not as bad as expected!) In any case, it was worth every penny and more. It was a trip never to be forgotten!

Note to Rob, my son:

So, my dear son, I have faithfully produced a blog for every day of the trip, as promised. I know I have to go back and fix or fill in some spots where information was unavailable or unloadable- I will do that. Most of all, I want to thank you  for setting the blog up for me and talking me into doing the daily entry. It has been fun and, probably more importantly, I can go back and really recollect what happened on the trip… my memory, as I am sure you know, is not so reliable anymore. Thank you very, very much and I love you!

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6.27.09- On the way home…

June 28th, 2009 No comments

Started the day leaving the Wal-Mart in Falmouth, ME and ended up the day in one in Manchester, CT. What happened in between is what matters.

Arrived at Tom and Sue Ackerman’s home in Hamilton, MA, around 10AM. It was really good to see them again. Sue, who is very active with her church, had to run off to help with a funeral at the church.

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Tom took me of a tour of the Hamilton/Wenham area. Spent some time in a park named for General George Patton, who came from the area.

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Also, drove out to Manchester by the Sea, a definitely upscale town with a beautiful beach. I don’t know how they do it but it seems to be difficult to use the beach unless you are from the town. If you are not a “local” you have to walk a long way to get to the beach and then pay a fee to enjoy it.

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I can’t believe how those shots mesh… the problem is that there should be a middle shot showing some rocky islands off the beach.

Tom bought me a wonderful lunch (lobster roll, etc.) in a favored local tavern. We talked about Union, his part-time job at Mass General Hospital and some questions he had about my trip. All in all, a very nice time. Thank you! Tom told me the best way to get out of town and be on my way. I said I was going to take Rt. 95 around Boston but ended up taking Rt. 90 west to Rt. 84 south toward Hartford. 

I ended up stopping in Manchester, just short of Hartford. There is a street there that has to be a mile long and it is lined with mini-malls. Each mall area appears to be anchored by a major store and it has it’s own parking area. Amazingly, finding the Wal-mart was not easy… I spied another RVer searching for it as well. He found it before I did and I pulled up next to him when I arrived. Being the newbie at RVing, I asked if he had gone in to ask permission to park in the lot. He chuckled and said that 10 years of experience has told him that asking is not necessary. Of course a security officer shows up but all he wanted was for us to move because we were in the way of delivery trucks. My new friend, Thomas J. “Pete” Peters…

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…asked the guard where Sam’s Club was (he wanted lobster for dinner) and we moved on to that parking lot. We got settled and I got a tour of his “5th-wheel” RV trailer.  A lot of room and Pete has a lot of stuff in it! He is a full-timer so needs it all. A trip to Sam’s Club resulted in no lobster- they have stopped selling live ones. Pete is a true character, telling me about his life and the things he has done. Wounded in Vietnam, became a diver for the Navy (one of the early Seals), was on the team that pulled Pete Conrad and Gordon Cooper from the sea when their spacecraft landed. Went on to aviation, flying jets for Eastern and Northwest as well as private, public and corporate clients. A multi-faceted career and a sense of humor that won’t quit. We spent 3-4 hours chewing the fat… a good time.

Pete must have a real talent for picking out where to park… this was our view-

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P.S.- During the afternoon, I had called Lance Boerner, a classmate from Haverford who is not in the best of health, to see if I might drop by to visit. Unfortunately, he had other plans for tomorrow morning so we were not able to get together, much to my regret. That fact makes tomorrow, Sunday the 28th, the last day of the trip… I will make the run for Avalon, about 300 miles.

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6.26.09- Back in the USA

June 28th, 2009 No comments

Took the 8:30 ferry from Digby, N.S. to St. John, N. B. On time and had a great breakfast on board. Very foggy so nothing to see. Watched Pink Panther 2 and had a few good chuckles. During the movie, I scanned the newspaper that a nice fellow gave me as he finished the sections. There was a woman asleep on the bench behind me and could she snore! I was hoping the Captain did not think she was a new fog horn to worry about.

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During the boat trip, Rob called. We had a nice talk and, of course, I told him that I was on a ferry. He was somewhat surprised that Scooter could fit in the bowels of a ferry so I took two shots, from the same position but in opposite directions, to show him how big it is. For some reason, they put Scooter out by herself… everyone else was lined up nose to tail.

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During the trip, I saw that Regina and her husband/partner (I know not which) Peter were on board. I gave Peter a tour of Scooter (he missed it yesterday) and grabbed a photo. They are from Switzerland and have rented a camper mounted in the bed of a pickup to see Canada, or parts thereof.

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Also, during the boat ride, a very nice gentleman was looking at Scooter and we talked a little. I gave him my card so that he might check out the blog. His name is Ingo (Bingo, without the B, as he says) Meise. He told me that his name goes back to Abyssinian times! Ingo, if that is not correct, please let me know.

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Arrived in port around 11:00 and decided to try and see the reversing falls in St. John. The Bursar on the boat told me that my timing was perfect- the water should be flowing through at a great rate. Of course, I rely on the GPS and not the verbal instructions to a parking lot (with a view of the falls) given me. Oh, I made it to the bridge over the falls OK but was in traffic, facing a toll booth, and had no options. The result was seeing some frothy water and having to pay for a round trip on the bridge ($4.50). I guess the GPS wanted me on the bridge and not in the water.

Finally hit the road for Calais and customs into the US. Hugh line waiting… thanks to the terrorists. When it was my turn they had me pull ahead, stop the bus and hand the keys and passport out the window to one of the two officers. Uh-oh! Trouble? They came aboard and checked the bathroom and bedroom- no inspection of the closets or outside storage compartments. Asked me some questions… firearms, where been, where going, purpose of trip- all pretty obvious. Finally gave me back the passport and keys and sent me on my way.

Got to Aurora, ME, where I would have to turn off to see Linda Hirsh. I was so early (around 2:00) that I did not really want to end my driving day. I called her and it turned out that renters are coming in tomorrow and, while she was OK with me coming, it seemed better to travel on. We agreed that next time I am around, we will meet.

Kept on chugging… got through Bangor and onto Route 95, hoping to make Portland. Actually got to Falmouth, thanks to a lady in the info booth back aways (where I had the daily ice cream cone). I had stopped to fill the diesel tank and asked if she knew where there was a Wal-Mart. I am in the one in Falmouth- they are known for letting RVers use their lot.

I had called Tom and Sue Ackerman (he is a college classmate, Union College, class of ‘63)about possibly stopping by to see them. They weren’t home but called me back. The plan is for me to swing by after 10AM tomorrow. I am going to call to confirm everything in the morning… it will be good to see them again.

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6.25.09- Last full day in Canada

June 25th, 2009 No comments

What I thought was going to be an easy, relaxing day turned out to include a major period of exercise. Got up around 7:30 and decided to go to Brier Island, the last island of two that extend past Digby Neck, to the southwest. On the way I wanted to see the Balancing Rock, an unusual rock formation, formed over millions of years that has truly left a balancing rock. I heard about this yesterday and reconfirmed with Jerry here at the RV park that it was worth seeing. So, off I go.

Caught the 9AM ferry at the end of Digby Neck and this got me to Long Island and the balancing rock. Unfortunately, my camera has started having sporadic fits of poor focus and leaving a purple tinge on some of the pictures… this happened yesterday and for all of my shots of the rock today.

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The first shot is of the final steps down a series of 236 steps (I counted them.) following a walk-in of about three-quarters of a mile. The walk was no holiday… boggy and mosquito infested. The rock is really amazing though a working camera, a sunny day and a crashing surf would have made the scene better.

Back in the car to the ferry over to Brier Island, the last in the chain. Spent my time in the town, taking pictures, having fish and chips for lunch, followed by the mandatory ice cream cone, and just enjoying the sights. Debated taking a whale watching boat ride but that would have meant getting back fairly late (and there is no guarantee that the whales will want to be seen). The town of Westport is obviously in the fishing and, to some degree, the tourist business. It is very small having two main streets. Homes are located on the outskirts. Notice that now the pictures are fine. Maybe have to check into a new camera….

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A police car followed me out to Brier Island (I was a good boy) and just happened to be returning on the same boat as I. Not having met (or even seen) a Royal Canadian Mount Police officer during the trip, I approached the car and was surprised to find the officer to be a rather attractive woman. We chatted for a while and I asked if she would mind my taking a picture. She is married with two kids, has recently been stationed here and can expect to be here from three to seven years before being reassigned.

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Of course, I had to mind my manners… she followed me all the way back to Digby.

On return to Scooter, Jerry and Laurette were sitting outside and I thought it the right moment to get a picture. I must thank them- they have been wonderful hosts. It is nice to be exposed to people such as these and I would recommend their campground to any and all.

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Also, on my return, I met a woman from Bern, Switzerland, who was interested in Scooter. I offered she and her husband a walk-through but only she appeared after having finished her wash. Her name is Regina Kiener and she was a joy to meet.

The plan for tomorrow is to use the ferry to St. John, New Brunswick, rather than do a serious back-track; the cost of fuel saved will offset a fair amount of the ferry cost and the time saved will be beneficial. I do plan on stopping in St. John to see the famed “reversing falls.” Also, I called Linda Hirsh to see if a visit might work. If the timing is right I may see her tomorrow evening.

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6.24.09- Digby, last stop in Canada

June 24th, 2009 No comments

Halifax to Digby today, about 2-1/2 hour drive. Decided to camp in the closest park to the ferry which goes from Digby to St. John, New Brunswick. Jerry and Laurette are wonderful… very gracious and concerned hosts.

As usual, I took my initial drive-around to check out the area. The Digby Pines (the name I remember from when I was told about my grand-parents coming here in the 1930’s) is now The Pines Resort. It is owned by the government, as is the local golf course, and I am sure is used for governmental functions. It is very nice… on the order of any top-of-the-line US resort.

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The town has four features that come to mind. They are fishing, tourists, restaurants and a hill. There is a main street along the water that has the tourist stores and restaurants. A road curves out to the docks where the fishing boats tie up. (Digby is known for it’s scallops, on the menu for Skip’s dinner tonight.) The whole town (eight blocks by eight blocks) lies on a hill, the edge of the Annapolis Basin. I have one shot of the down town and some of the more attractive homes. I’ll save the fishing boats for last.

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This last one is for sale and appears to have a stunning view of the water.

And, the boats…

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I swear, Nova Scotians have a thing for bright colors. Good for them!

I am now off for some Digby scallops. Jerry tells me that the Captain’s Cabin restaurant is where to go. Sorry you can’t be with me!

Well, back from dinner. Went to the Captain’s Cabin and had an interesting experience. Sign outside said, “Special- Scallops, $11.99” and another sign said, “Lemon Pie with Specials.” I sit down the waitress comes over and I ask for the scallop special and would I get the same dinner that is on the menu for $16.99. Yes, I would, but only deep-fried was available on the special. I could have the pan seared (what I wanted) for the $16.99, but not be able to include the pie. Amazing! The waitress indicated that the deep-fried was less work for the cook; I got no answer as to why no pie at the higher price. I decided to leave as a matter of principal. (Fear not, the discussion was sane and civilized.) On the way to the car, I decided that this was worth talking to the manager… through a poorly defined attempt to attract customers, they were losing one (and I would probably tell Jerry at the RV park), all for $5. The manager comes out and he sticks the the company line. Before I get a chance to leave again, another man comes out and graciously concedes my position. I have a wonderful dinner, including the pie, at the advertised price. It turns out that the last person to deal with me is the original owner and a number of years ago, on a winter vacation in Mexico, he adopted a Mexican boy and raised him. That boy is now the manager and last year the owner gave him one-half of the business. He owner had no son and his daughter has no interest in the business. All this comes from Jerry and is a nice happening.

P.S. I was reading The Chronicle Herald, a Halifax newspaper, before going to bed and the front page headline states, “Woman swept to sea, rescued at Peggy’s Cove. She obviously did not pay attention to the sign I posted yesterday! Apparently, she was out on the rocks, too close to the water and wave carried her away. A kitchen worker, hearing the commotion, came down to the seaside, waded in with a life ring and, after repeated attempts, successfully brought her to shore. She was in the water about a half hour and very, very thankful upon her retrieval. All of this happened right after Phillip and I left Peggy’s Cove.

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6.23.09- Peggy’s Cove, Lunenburg and the Maritime Museum

June 24th, 2009 1 comment

Another rainy day. Getting tired of them.

Phillip and I left around 8:30 to see Peggy’s Cove, one of the most photographed and painted sights anywhere. There were two blessings… the rain let up and we beat the bus crowds.

I had forgotten that Swiss Air Flight 111 had crashed off Peggy’s Cove not too many years ago. The memorial sight was on the way, very close to Peggy’ Cove, so we stopped to see it. A beautifully simple granite structure…

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Three vertical cuts indicate the flight number and a teddy bear, rabbit and flowers inserted in the openings were especially touching.

Peggy’s Cove is the quintessential northeast seaboard harbor. The lighthouse, rocks, waves, fishing shacks and boats all combine to make a beautiful scene. As I have said, it has been the subject of many artistic efforts. A selection of pictures follows (remember, it’s a dark, cloudy day):

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The last slide is a Fisherman’s Monument, by William E. deGarthe. I was told it was the work he did as practice when learning to sculpt in stone. It is beautiful.

On to Lunenburg. We almost did not go due to the weather but then Phillip told me that the original sailboat “Blue Nose” was being kept there. That, plus the possibility of an ice cream stand, made it a go decision. The ride was longer than expected but we received the reward for making the effort. It is an extremely colorful, pleasant and friendly town. A funny moment… we asked a woman on the street where to get the best seafood chowder in town. Her answer: “My house!” I said we’d be there in ten minutes…. She then directed us to very good chowder. Pictures of Lunenburg:

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Near the shore is a memorial to all those men and ships lost at sea. All are listed by name.

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I thought this was a cute ad…

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Finally, the “Bluenose,” in dry-dock for repairs…

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                                   A picture of a picture…

Phillip and I came back to Scooter and relaxed for a while, awaiting 5PM when admission to the maritime museum in Halifax was free. We went and saw amazingly interesting displays about two disasters: the Titanic sinking in 1912 and the munitions ship explosion that devastated Halifax in 1917. After the museum we went up the street and we each had an interesting and delicious haddock dish (it was smothered in mashed potatoes) and split a salad. After dinner we decided that Phillip had to go on his way. He had called to make a reservation at a local youth hostel and insisted on walking to it, to keep in practice after the previous three days of relative leisure. We have promised to stay in touch. Indeed, a very interesting and fine gentleman.

I made my way back to Scooter and hit the sack. Digby is the destination for tomorrow.

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6.22.09- The Citadel in Halifax

June 24th, 2009 No comments

Phillip and I made it from the Wal-Mart to a lovely campground outside Halifax by around 1PM. As usual, the receptionist, Kerri Ann at Woodhaven RV Park is delectable. We had had our lunch at a Tim Hortons (a deceased hockey player who must have founded a huge chain of McDonald’s/Dunkin Donuts-type franchises), so we were ready to explore. Rain has been the order of the day so we gathered our slickers and umbrellas and headed for the Citadel on the top of the highest hill in the center of town.

The Citadel was built, as I understand it, as a beachhead for the British in Canada. The French were the predominant power in Canada and England wanted to extend their empire and this would be a stepping stone. The French were ensconced in Louisbourg, a relatively short distance up the coast and, once established, the British defeated the French twice in the mid-1700’s and leveled the French fort the second time (to be rebuilt much later by displaced miners, as mentioned in a previous blog).

The “star” design of the Citadel, with the added dry moat, would seem to me the much superior design… it offers increased opportunity for multiple firing angles and for cross-fires, especially should the invading troops make it into the moat. It is a fascinating design.

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The fort also has what initially appeared to be a ship within the walls. Actually it is two rather imposing masts that are solidly mounted in the ground and were utilized in a complex flag signaling system, principally to ships at sea.

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A few other pictures…

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The last picture is of the cape worn by British General James Wolfe when he was killed at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, near Quebec City, defeating the French.

This was the only significant thing Phillip and I did today. The rain, wind and foggy weather continues and is forecast to be on hand for the next few days. I am enjoying Phillip’s company immensely and so offered another night aboard Scooter. I worked on blogging while he read his travel books. The WIFI at the RV park was sporadic at best so I did not get to upload anything today.

Tomorrow, the plan is to see Peggy’s Cove and Lunenburg, seaside towns southwest of Halifax. Good night, all!

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6.21.09- Coal Mining and Defense

June 23rd, 2009 No comments

Today Phillip and I drove from Baddeck to Glace Bay, near Sydney, Nova Scotia. The intent was to visit the coal mine museum and mine there. Apparently there are very large ore veins below the north-eastern tip of Cape Breton, some of which extend well out under the Atlantic Ocean. We left at 7:45 and 12,226 miles and arrived at 12:20 and 12,298 miles. The museum and mine tour were fascinating… probably one of the most interesting and exciting things I have done on this trip.

A jocular fellow named Sheldon took us (about 18-20 people) down into the mine. We had to don capes (for the dripping water) and hard hats (for the low beams). We only went down 65’ (some mines were 2,700’ deep) and, for insurance reasons, we were not under the ocean. Most  of the miners had succumbed to promises of a reasonable pay and working conditions, had paid significant money ($50 was mentioned) to come to Cape Breton from afar and had ended up in virtual servitude.

The men worked 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, unable to stand erect, swinging picks and shovels, with 3 weeks a year vacation. Those 3 weeks were the only time the “pit ponies,” used in the mine to haul the coal bins, ever saw the light of day. They were kept underground the rest of the year. The workers (no women allowed below for superstitious reasons) were paid only for the tonnage they brought to the surface, as indicated by a their numbered tag accompanying the coal topsides. Each worker also left their personal tag on the surface to indicate that he was below. This was done so that, should there be a mine disaster, those above would know to look for him.

Sheldon told us that the record tonnage brought out of a mine was 20 tons, produced by 2 men in a one day shift. That’s 1,667 pounds per man/hour. I am sure they were well paid for that day. But, believe it or not, the men had to pay for everything but the canary. All tools, supplies, food, clothing, etc. needed had to be bought at the “company store.” Often, the miner had a debt to the store at the end of the week because he had not brought up enough coal to cover his expenses. The canary, which would quickly die in the presence of methane gas and was therefore used as a warning signal, was paid for by the company because the loss of a mine to an explosion was worth prevention.

The men, on the other hand, were replaceable should they be lost. Often, the sons simply replaced the fathers who had died in the mine. Young boys were hired on to simply open and close the doors that controlled to air flow below so that the pit ponies could pass with their load. His only light for 12 hours was a candle. (When Sheldon turned the lights out and explained that, in the 1800’s, an open flame was the only light (in later years an electric head lamp) it was hard to believe that anyone would do this kind of work.)

All of this eventually led to much labor strife and the formation of unions. For economic reasons, all the mines were finally closed about 10 years ago. Of course this was harmful to the economy of this area… as it turned out, many of these men went on to help rebuild the site we were to visit next, Louisbourg, a magnificent French defensive fortress on the eastern shore of Cape Breton. But, first, pictures of the coal museum and mine…

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On to Louisbourg… a French fortress that was a thorn in the side of the English ambitions in the mid-1700’s. The French lost the fort twice to the British, who finally laid waste to it. As stated above, the Canadian government decided to restore the fort, largely using the men displaced from the coal mines nearby. The completed fortress is beautiful… we were there on a nasty, windy, rainy day so the pictures are marginal. On a bright, sunny day it has to be beautiful. Even with only a few visitors, costumed re-enactors were present to tell us about the life and times of the fort in the mid-1700’s.

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The experience at Louisbourg was wet, impressive and explanatory (I now know why the French lost this part of Canada).. This was not a fort when compared to the Citadel in Halifax, our planned destination for the next day. I chose to drive part of the way to Halifax today because of the distance- I’d like to see some of it tomorrow. The drive from Louisbourg was atrocious… heavy wind and rain threw Scooter all over the place… not a lot of fun. The idea of installing some kind of stabilizer bars really appeals. We did, however, make it to a Wal-Mart parking lot successfully to spend a very good night in a very deep sleep.

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6.20.09- Cabot Trail

June 23rd, 2009 No comments

On the road at 8:45 my time. Went north to Baddeck to gas up, not knowing what would be available on the Cabot Trail. The Cabot Trail encircles a large peninsular portion of Cape Breton, the northern most part of Nova Scotia. About one-third of the trail runs through land maintained by Parks Canada. Spectacular scenic overlooks are provided in the park area and pulling off the road for pictures is allowed anywhere.

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With the possible exception of the Norwegian mail ship cruise that Bonnie and I went on in the early 90’s, I have never seen more stunning vistas. “Steep cliffs and deep river cantons carve into a forested plateau bordering the Atlantic Ocean,” to quote from the map I carried. This is by all rights a world-famous site and well-worth seeing.

Some pictures from the trip, which, with all the stopping for pictures and lunch, took almost seven hours. I took over 100 shots so it may be difficult to pick the best!

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A truly magnificent place to be. Not only were the surroundings beautiful but Mr. Serendipity showed up twice today. I stopped at one of the overlooks and commented to a gentleman that I often simply take pictures of the informational sign so that I might reread and enjoy them later via the computer. He, being one-half of the Dan and Grace Futch team, admitted to doing the same and the conversation digressed into more personal information. I revealed that I was travelling via an RV, as were they, and when I said I was going to go to Florida this winter, he cordially asked me to visit them at the River Ranch, an upscale RV park that is, I believe, an integral part of a working ranch on Route 60, west of Vero Beach. He is the minister of the local Baptist church and, because his clientele disappears in the summer, he  takes his vacation with his wife and visits them in the northern climes via his RV. I hope he lets them know he is coming!  😉

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My mother told me to never pick up a hitch-hiker. Sorry, Mom, but I did it today and it has been a wonderful experience. Phillip Wearne is a Brit who has been… oh, I’ll let him tell you:

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6.19.09- Baddeck, Nova Scotia

June 19th, 2009 2 comments

It was up an’ at ‘em, bright and early. Up at 6 and, after cereal and coffee, off to the Alexander Graham Bell Museum to wait in line for tickets to visit his summer home. This was the last day of a special celebration for Canadian Aviation Week. Little did I know that AGB designed and built the first motorized plane to be flown in Canada- the Silver Dart flew from the ice on Bras d’Or Lake in 1909. For this week only 84 people a day (7 groups of 12 each) were ferried to the peninsula and taken in a carriage up to the summer home of AGB and his descendents. There we were offered raspberry vinegar (a very nice fruit drink, despite the name, which was a favorite of AGB) and sugar cookies.

I got to the museum a little after 7AM and was 8th in line with the window opening at 8:30.  The first person had arrived at 4:45- The clamor for these tickets has been amazing and I often have heard people lamenting the fact that they either had not heard about this opportunity or were too far back in the line for a ticket. A total of 420 people got to see the home. Because the museum did not open until 9, I elected to be on the first boat and to come back to the museum later.

Following are some pictures if the estate, one source saying it is 800 acres, another saying 450.

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“Geeing and Hawing” the horses            Second carriage leaves the barn

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Front of home                             AGB bedroom under right peak

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These two gentlemen are both great-grandsons of AGB. Hugh Muller, on the left, met the boat as it arrived from town and Martin Myers, on the right, rode in one of the carriages every trip. Both were wonderfully informative and a pleasure to meet. Hugh resides on the island year-round while Martin spends the winter in Texas, coming back for a two week stay in the cold. There are a number of other descendents who live on the property but I believe Hugh is the only permanent resident. It was very gracious of the family to open their property to visitors for this celebration.

After the tour, I went back to the museum. I was aware that AGB was into telephones and had a live-long desire to work with the hearing impaired (the source of many ideas concerning his invention of the telephone). I did not know, however, that he spent much time working with both boats, principally using a hydrofoil design for speed, and airplanes, principally getting one to fly! He successfully designed and built the HD-4, an boat with submerged hydrofoil wings that allowed it to rise out of the water and attain increased speed. This boat actually attained a speed of over 70 mph, a rather stunning feat for the time. He also designed and built the Silver Dart, the first powered airplane to fly in Canada, I believe in 1909.

One story I heard I thought was interesting. AGB knew Thomas Edison and each had a mutual dislike of the other. This was based on the type of inventor each man was… Edison was driven to invent while Bell had a more relaxed attitude about the process. In any case, it must have been interesting when each man had to acquire the rights to an invention of the other- this happened once to each of these men.

Celebrating Aviation Week, the museum had the Canadian Air Force in attendance with a CF-18 Hornet cockpit available to be occupied by yours truly. Somewhat confining and loaded with switches, buttons, dials, screens, etc., etc. It is a 1970’s design built in the 1980’s by McDonnell-Douglas. A pilot told me it takes about four years to master flying this plane. Given it’s age, it’s hard to imagine what an up-to-date plane would be like. It is anticipated that this plane will serve another 8 to 10 years- the Canadian military is very happy with the plane.

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The museum was one of the best I have ever experienced. The Bell family gave to “Parks Canada” all of the material from AGB’s work on the condition that they build a museum and preserve the memory. They did a wonderful job in this effort.

The final experience of the day was suggested by Jessica, a cook at a local eatery who had to beg her boss to let het come in an hour late to make the Bell house trip. She mentioned the Amoeba sailing tour… a beautiful schooner, built by the current skipper’s father, takes a sailing trip around Bras d’Or Lake several times a day. Two hours on a boat… you bet. The big selling point was that the captain is reputed to have eagles “on call” to fetch the dead fish that he throws in the water. It happened and, of course, my little Flip camera failed me (I had it in the off position. Very dejected, I was assured that we would pass by another nest and there would probably be a second chance. Decided this time to use to movie feature on my regular camera. Incredible success… actually have two birds pulling fish out of the water on one tape.

I have seen more bald eagles in the last 24 hours that in the rest of my life. A beautiful sight!

Other pictures from the sailing cruise:

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Coming in from another trip            Captain reading “Sailing for Dummies”

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Bell estate, from the water               An interesting rig, a Nonsuch boom

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Heeling to windward                                     We’re home….

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