Wednesday, August 29, 2007



August 22, 2007

It is quite interesting to meet the various owners of campgrounds, and Kevin at theOak Point Campground is certainly one who stood out. He was extremely helpful in getting me set up – the only problem was that he gave me a site that had been previously booked! So, after some elaborate steps to get my sewer pipe connected, he came back to knock on my door just as I was preparing supper, to tell me that I had to move. It seems that he had written down 4:00 as their arrival time, but that was actually the time that they were getting off work. In any event, to make up for his error, he offered me a free night. So how could I be angry?

I seem to have lost the key to the lock on my bike so that I can’t use it.

I soon learned that Kevin is not terribly organized. He has many projects on the go at one time, and instead of finishing off, for instance the inside of the laundry room (which just has bare walls with insulation tacked up and no flooring on the bare wood), he is off planting a new garden, or collecting the recyclables (which he then scatters and sorts over the back lawn), or working on renovating an old house into a lodge, etc., etc. As a result, the site is not too appealing – even though there is a pool and a hot tub – and of course those children from Hell..

On one of the walks with Ripley at the campgrounds at the Miramichi location, I noticed an osprey that hovered , flew a few feet, hovered some more and repeated this action three or four times. I suddenly realized that the osprey was checking out Ripley as a potential meal! As soon as I stood up, the osprey flew away, but you can well imagine how alarmed I was. I really hadn’t considered that Ripley could be prey for this large bird. I’ll have to be a bit more careful in future. Nevertheless, it was great to get a close-up view of an osprey. I have only seen them at a distance in the past.

Libraries are a great resource. Amongst other things, they provide free internet, and I took advantage of this service at the Miramichi Public Library which is set beside a lovely little park in the downtown area.

Water Street is the old historic area of Miramichi, and only a short walk from the library. Monika and Peter had recommended Saddler’s Restaurant, overlooking the river, so I had to check it out. I was intrigued by the menu which included New Brunswick Potato Tart, so of course I had to try it, along with a Moosehead Pale Ale. The tart has layers of potatoes and cheese with homemade fruit chutney. Delicious! I asked the server if the recipe for the chutney was a secret or could it be shared. Unfortunately, it was a secret and he said it can vary, depending on the chef’s whim.

Ripley at the Miramichi river

After this lovely meal, I set off for Kouchibougwac (pronounced Koo-Jee-BOOJ-Gwak) National Park. This is one of a chain of national parks across Canada and I took advantage of the opportunity to purchase a season’s pass for all these parks, as well as all the historic sites – quite a bargain at $66.35. Now I have free access to all the national parks and historic sites (as opposed to provincial sites).

Kouchibougwac is one of the most beautiful parks I have ever been in. It is huge and encompasses sand dunes, offshore islands, bogs, salt marsh – and lots and lots of trees. The campsites in the parks are generally much more secluded and larger than the privately owned sites where everyone tends to be very close to each other.

Statue honouring pioneers

August 23, 2007

After a restful night, I was up early to meet one of the Park interpreters (Victor Savoie is actually the supervisor but was needed for the English language tour this morning), at 7:30 a.m. at Kellys Beach. Birds and Breakfast was the topic and Victor led us to various habitats and talked about owls, woodpeckers, provincial birds and shorebirds, particularly the piping plover, an endangered bird that nests on the dunes and islands offshore. Only 13 chicks hatched in 2007 and the areas are protected during nesting season and monitored by students. They have an ingenious system to protect the nests by placing a wire mesh cage around and over the nest. The adults can go through the mesh, but crows, ospreys, foxes, etc. cannot reach the eggs.

Victor was quite lively in his presentation and at the end, he dug in the beach sand to find sand fleas to show the children. It was a small group of a family of six plus myself, so we were able to have a good tour and to ask questions.

Afterwards, Victor and I headed to Kellys Snack Bar for breakfast at a discount. Eggs, sausage, toast and hash browns. Victor is very personable and we chatted about his family. He has four children (two are twins and were unexpected), and his wife Nicole is also a park interpreter. They also run a Bed and Breakfast in the nearby town of St. Louis and rent and sell kayaks as well. They have traveled extensively in Canadian national parks. We talked about my trip and that I had been a zoo keeper for 22 years.

There are red squirrels and snowshoe hares everywhere, especially in the early morning. Ripley startled one who gave her hell from a safe perch in a tree.

Red Squirrel
In the evening, Victor’s wife, Nicole gave a very entertaining presentation on cedar trees. She managed to make the talk fascinating by a combination of slides and music. Then she retreated into a cardboard house using her own voice and also taking on the character of a Mic Maq elder who had lived in the area for many years. She re-appeared in costume, sat in a rocking chair and told us of the medicinal value of cedar, played a foot-stomping tune on her violin, and then retreated back into the “house” to become the park interpreter once again, finishing up with a slide show of all the national parks in Canada. Truly well done!

There is lots to see and do here (including bike trails), but I must press on, in order to make it to Bedford, Nova Scotia on the 28th. I have an appointment with Fraserway RV that day to have my control board for the fridge installed.


August 24

I couldn’t leave this area without going out in a Voyageur canoe to see birds and seals at nearby St. Louis, also part of the Park. Mike and Captain Ron led the nine of us out of the harbour, with Mike giving a running commentary on various topics, ranging from the history of the Mic Maq (pronounced migmah), the importance of the rivers, the natural history of terns, a contrast of the trees on either side of the river (he compared one to Canada and the other to the Africa Savannah where an elusive legendary giant giraffe might possibly be hiding). We all were very excited to see a Bald Eagle standing on the river’s edge.

Captain Ron was quiet and capably handled the small trolling motor. We of course were also paddling, traveling out through the river’s mouth, around some sand dunes which were the home of thousands of terns, great blue herons, cormorants and black backed gulls. But then, we could hear the calling of seals in the distance. What a sight! There were hundreds and hundreds of these seals sprawled out on the dunes in the distance. We were not allowed to get too close, in order not to disturb them, but some of them had to swim out to the canoe to check us out up close. We were all on the alert for a curious head popping up nearby, with our cameras clicking away like crazy. What a thrill to see these creatures up close and in their own environment!
Curious Seal

Because we stayed out longer and went further than normally, we had to paddle madly to get back to the dock. My neck and shoulders ached like crazy the next day – but it was worth it. By this time, it was raining hard and I’m so glad that I had worn my raingear. Nevertheless, I still got pretty wet and cold, and was happy to reach shore. Having said that, I wouldn’t have missed this experience!

As a treat to Ripley, who had been so patient waiting in the RV for me while I was out having fun, I bought a Mama Burger for her at an A&W. She couldn’t believe her good fortune!

Onward to Bouchtouche to visit the Irving Eco Centre. The Irving family just about own the Maritimes with their various enterprises, and they have created this Centre with boardwalks over the dunes and saltmarshes, to help people to appreciate these sensitive ecosystems. It was raining hard still, so I didn’t go far, having only just got dry and warm again. Irving Eco Centre


On to Shediac, and the Wishing Star Campground, on the ocean but again everyone is so close together, there really isn’t any privacy. It was the first time that I was able to take advantage of my 50% discount as a member of Passport America ($17 for full hookup plus cable TV). Hopefully not the last, as that is a tremendous saving.

Speaking of TV, I think that mine was damaged. It came off of its “secure” mounting and fell on the floor while I was traveling over a bumpy road. Unless the reception was poor, the picture seems to be damaged. I will have to try a DVD to see if this is as I fear. Needless to say, I was very upset as I had bought this lovely little 13” TV specifically for this trip. It is a combination LCD TV and computer monitor and had exceptional picture quality.

The people in the Maritimes are so courteous. They actually stop their cars to let you cross the road, and stop to let you pull out in traffic.

Like most of the campgrounds, there are many seasonals here, decked out with their various paraphanelia.

Ripley scared off a Great Blue Heron on our walk, and then it was naptime so that I could be awake for the entertainment tonight.

Dinner was fresh salmon, PEI potatoes and a garden salad with red onion dressing, followed by Quebec strawberries. In a restaurant, that meal could have cost me $25-$30!

This campsite hires local entertainers to come in on Saturday night -- I don’t know the name of the man, but he was a one-man band, complete with high-tech equipment to make it sound as though there was a complete band up there. He sang songs as well, ranging in genre from Elvis to East Coast stomping music. The place was packed, both with campers and with locals, and boy, was I impressed with the dancing abilities of many of them. In the slow dances, couples would float around the dancefloor and in the fast ones, they did intricate steps. I was quite fascinated with the steps of the line dancing and wanted to join in. However, not knowing a soul there, I felt too shy to get up. Nevertheless, it was fun to watch.

I turned in around 10:30, but the party went on until midnight.

August 25

Before leaving Shediac, I just had to see the giant lobster statue that Monika and Peter had mentioned. It must be 50 feet long and is anatomically correct. Children love to climb all over it and it truly is quite a sight.

Onward for a long drive in order to get to PEI. I wish I didn’t feel pressured to move on, but I do want to get my fridge fixed.

Just beside the Confederation Bridge leading to PEI, there is the Cape Jouriman Nature Centre. This is operated by a non-profit group and would have been a perfect model for the Great Lakes Wetlands Centre for which I was fundraising when I worked for Friends of Second Marsh. Their toilets are compostable, they have a grey water dispersal system to treat the wastewater, a rainwater collection system to reduce the groundwater consumption, geothermal heat pumps to heat and cool the buildings, plus a solar water heating system to provide hot water for the kitchen. The small restaurant features organic food and I enjoyed a wonderful lobster stew there. The exhibits are all well done, with interactive displays, to emphasize the importance of sand dunes and marshes. Tragically, this fine tourist attraction is closing down on August 26 for lack of funding. The government does not provide funding, either provincially or federally, and it is uncertain whether the Centre will re-open next year.


With much trepidation I crossed the Confederation Bridge. This modern-day wonder that spans the ocean between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island is, I’m sure quite safe, but I always get nervous going over bridges – and this one is the grand-daddy of them all! In any event, I made it across safely and pulled into the Information Centre, just off the bridge. From there I headed to a gas station just down the road – and in doing so, I somehow avoided paying the toll! It was quite unintentional, but I found myself on the highway heading towards the northern part of the island. That was quite a saving, as the toll would have been around $35.

I can easily see why many people have commented on how beautiful PEI is. The island first of all is so clean – never any litter on the roadsides. The highways and byways take you through picturesque little villages, past well-kept farms with hayfields – and trees. Lots of trees. It reminded me quite a bit of the farmland in eastern Ontario with gently rolling hills and everything green – especially with the sun sparkling down. The road I drove took me to Cavendish on the ocean in the north. The town is famous for being the place where Lucy Maud Montgomery grew up and wrote her famous book “Anne of Green Gables”. Of course, the locals take advantage of this with naming everything after Anne, and selling doll replicas of this fictional character and every possible kind of souvenir. The motels and cottages all have “Anne” or “Green Gables” in their name.

As it had been a long day, I chose to stay at the Prince Edward Island National Park here. Lots of mosquitoes and flies here, and the campsites are not well wooded, so that you can see your neighbours. Unfortunately, in backing into my spot, I took out the site number sign. One of these days, I will master backing up. So far, I’ve managed to back into a tree, damaging my bumper and taking out this numbered post.

August 26

Cavendish has many tourist attractions, and when I read that there was a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, I couldn’t resist paying the $11.95 admission fee, for two reasons. First of all, my friend and COTERC benefactor Bill Jamieson, bought the franchise in Niagara Falls and his home is a virtual museum of weird stuff from around the world; and secondly because of the name of my dog. Ripley was named, I think, after this attraction, as her former owner apparently used to call her Ripley, Believe It Or Not. In any event, it was interesting to see the assortment of things from a shrunken head to a two-headed calf.

Wax Museum - Michael Jordan


After this diversion, I headed to Charlottetown, wandering through the countryside, enjoying the lovely weather. Sunny skies, not too hot. Beautiful day for traveling.
In order to see the sights and not have to drive, I parked the RV on a shady side street adjacent to one of the five downtown parks, left Ripley, and paid for a double-decker bus tour of the city. We drove by some very old, historic buildings, as Charlottetown is the place where Confederation was born. The churches are magnificent stone buildings and some of the houses are equally as old. A lovely city and well worth a visit. And of course, it is the home of the Charlottetown Festival. I decided to pass on going to see the musical of Anne of Green Gables, mainly because I am running out of time before I have to be at the RV Centre, and I wanted to see more of the island. I could have stayed on PEI much longer if time had allowed.

Private House Building where Confederation was created

Cows Ice Cream is something to try. They have stores in various parts of the Island and brag about being the best ice cream in the world. It’s good, but I think our Kawartha Dairy Ice Cream is equally as good. But Cows has gone one step further, in marketing all kinds of t-shirts with cute “cow” sayings, key chains, mugs, etc. etc.

Downtown Charlottetown


The thing about PEI is that it is small enough that you can get around to almost any destination in an hour or two, and so I headed from Charlottetown to St. Peters in the northeastern section, to spend the night at St. Peters Park. The sites were basically in an open field, with a few trees here and there, and close together – but it had a swimming pool and laundry area. The laundry worked out fine, and there was even a book exchange where I picked up Larry McMurtry’s “Texasville” – a funny fictional account of life in Texas. I tried out the pool, but there were so many children splashing and cannonballing that I left after only a few minutes.

This park was the noisiest one I’ve encountered so far. My site was beside the road leading into the park, and despite the sign saying that no visitors were allowed after 11:00, there were cars rolling in until 2:00 a.m. Added to that, the main highway was only a few hundred feet away and cars and trucks were going by all night long.

August 27th

Only one more day before I have to be at the RV dealer, but I want to try the bike trails. This is a truly magical morning, with the sun shining, no clouds in the sky, a cool breeze from the ocean and warm temperature.

Because I’ve lost the key to the lock on my own bike, I can’t use it, so I decided to rent a bike in St. Peters. I took Ripley with me, as the RV was parked in the sun. The two of us took off on the biking trail, with her running along beside me. She sure is a game little dog. I stopped every once in a while for her to catch her breath, but she seemed to enjoy the exercise. I know that when I let her off the leash, she just tears around as fast as she can go, so this was a good workout for her – and for me. We went about 2.5 km up the trail and then back, for a total of 5 km. PEI has a whole system of bike trails throughout the province. They were constructed from the old CN Railway line that was taken out of service – and what a great idea. They run along the riverbanks and countrysides and I would love to have been able to do more of the trails by bike. The one from St. Peters follows the nearby river, with trees on either side and I was able to see a Dowitcher for the first time. This is an odd-looking shorebird that has a very long beak, for poking into the reeds to feed. There was also another Great Blue Heron (I’ve never seen so many herons in Ontario), plus the usual assortment or gulls, crows and cormorants – plus a kingfisher who was diving for fish.

Next to the bike rental shop was a factory that manufactured pewter articles. As tempting as it was, I resisted buying Celtic earrings, bracelet or necklace, and settled on a CD of traditional Ceilidh (pronounced kaylee) music.


Another drive through the countryside and Oceanside through Montague took me to Wood Islands Ferry Service. Apart from the Confederation Bridge, this is the other method to get across to the mainland Nova Scotia – 75 minutes on this ferry. It cost $85 but did save me gas money in traveling back to the Bridge (where I probably would have had to pay the toll this time!). I was able to take Ripley up to the outer deck and she was quite nervous to begin with, I think probably from the vibration of the ship. Many people stopped to pat her and ask about her, but she was a bit distracted. I’m sure she was quite happy to be back on dry land and off in the RV once again, as we made our way south in Nova Scotia to the Woodhaven RV campground near Bedford, just outside Halifax. I arrived too late to use the pool (it closed at 8:00 p.m.) but did have a nice pull-through site with shady trees.

August 28th.

Ripley met two large black labs on our walk in the campgrounds this morning and I think she felt quite intimidated by these two friendly dogs who wanted to check her out. They were each easily three times her size.

Up again early to drive to Fraserway RV in Bedford in time for my 8:30 appointment. I’m still here at 12:00 and hopefully it won’t be much longer. They fixed my damaged bumper (from when I hit the tree) and cut the lock on my bike for which I had lost the key. Ted is the service manager and I’m sitting in one of his visitor’s chairs to catch up on this journal while I wait. He’s originally from Toronto and moved down here in the 1980’s and loves it. He used to be in partnership with some others to buy and ship lobster to Europe. Made a pile of money and then lost it when he invested in a cod business. Very personable person.

Ted cut the lock off my bike, so now I can use it!

I’ve considered taking the ferry from Nova Scotia to New Brunswick, but the price is $145, so now that I’m not so pressed for time, I’ll probably drive.

7 ½ hours later my fridge is sort of fixed. Besides the control board, Mark, the Sales Manager, installed a new battery and discovered that I also need a part called an eyebrow board. And of course they don’t have one in stock and it will take a week or so to get one. Ernie, the Parts Manager, has arranged for one to be sent to a dealer in Bangor, Maine, and has made an appointment for me for next Tuesday. So again, I am now on a schedule to hurry over there.

I can use the fridge on propane, but it means that I have to manually light the pilot light every time I unplug the electricity. It’s an inconvenience, but at least the fridge will keep cool.

I have made my way to Wayside Campgrounds located at Glen Margaret, about 20 km from Peggy’s Cove. It’s a nice wooded site secluded near the back, and Ripley and I found a trail to take a walk.

I contacted Peter McCarman, a friend of Frances and Peter, and he and his wife Angela have invited me for dinner tomorrow night.

August 29th

I’m off to Lunenburg to try a Lobstermen Tour, on a genuine lobster fishing boat. Should be fun.

I have lots of photos to post, but can't do these from a public internet service, like this one at the Information Centre (problems of transferring to disks, plus there is a time constraint on the use here), but when I can get to a proper WiFi connection that works (the one at the campground this morning, wouldn't work), then I will post photos.

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