Tuesday, September 4, 2007


I am way behind in my postings because of some technical glitches. First of all, my wireless connection on my laptop is not working properly, and I have been unable to use it. I must find a computer geek to help me figure out what is wrong.

Secondly, that has left me to find a public internet service, such as at a Visitors Information Centre or a public library. There is a time limit usually on these free services, and downloading photographs takes a long, long time. So I am going ahead to post this without the photos, and will do my best to add them when I can.


August 28th
I decided to slow down, and contacted the RV people in Bangor, Maine to change my appointment to September 10th. That gives me another week to see more of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

While waiting for my RV to be fixed at Fraserway RV yesterday, I took Ripley across the street to order some lunch for myself. When I walked in with the dog, the server looked horrified and I quickly explained that I wanted to order something for take-out. It was quite comical to me to see her reaction, but of course if a food inspector had happened to come in, they could have lost their licence. She followed me outside and took my order of fish and chips – the fish having been caught in the local river. Delicious. It helped to pass the time, as did my laptop to catch up on my blog number seven. I also chatted with a man who had his RV in to check a leak in his greywater tank. He and his family are from the US and are traveling around.

So, after having settled in at the Wayside Campground in Glen Margaret (which is near Peggys Cove), I settled in for supper of a California salad, a Corona beer and Stouffer’s homestyle roast chicken, with apple pie for dessert (bought for $2.99 on PEI).

Peter McCarman and his wife Angela Poirier (friends of Frances Burton & Peter Silverman) contacted me and have invited me for supper tomorrow. They live in Shad Bay not far from here -- and they own two Jack Russells!! This should be interesting.

August 29th

I drove over to Lunenburg (about 2 hours) to take the Lobstermen Tour. Tried to find a spot near the waterfront, but the streets are very narrow and there is no parking for an RV. While I was tootling around trying to find parking, I had to turn sharply at a busy intersection, and then pulled into a gas station to ask the attendant if he knew where I could park. Just then, a man came in and asked me if I had lost my dog. I was confused at first, but it turns out that Ripley had jumped out the window while I was making the difficult turn. You can well imagine how horrified I was to see Ripley running around on a busy street! I raced up the two blocks and thank goodness she wasn’t hurt! That’s quite a leap from the window down to the ground and she could have easily broken a leg – or worse get hit by a car. It taught me a lesson to keep the windows up higher. I think it frightened Ripley too, as she was quite subdued.

After this fright, I made my way to the parking spot that the gas station attendant had mentioned – parking for a walking trail. So, after we had a walk on this trail, I left Ripley behind in the RV and made my way to the Lunenburg waterfront, bought a ticket for the Lobstermen Tour and took photos.

Lunenberg waterfront

Bluenose II

This is a huge factory and the headquarters for Captain Highliner Fish is actually imported from as far away as Japan to be processed here!

Lunenburg is a tourist mecca, filled with interesting buildings. Carriage rides are offered too.

The Lobstermen Tour takes tourists out on a real lobster boat, with lobstermen as your hosts. They demonstrate the techniques used when they go out on their boats. Jamie showed us photos of a female with eggs and explained that there are very stringent rules about the size of lobster that can be taken. They must measure each one, and record the size and sex in a journal.

They pulled up some lobster traps and took out the lobsters for us to see up close. Jamie offered us an opportunity to hold a lobster and of course I couldn’t resist.

It was very educational and well worth the trip. In this photo I’m wearing the lovely Aran sweater, a gift from Breeda McClew (my former associate at the Terry Fox Foundation) which she bought on her recent trip to Ireland. Thank you Breeda!

After returning to the RV, Ripley and I had a brief nap, and I then headed back to Peggy’s Cove, stopping at the memorial to the victims of the Swissair disaster.

Most of you will not know this, but I knew someone on board that fateful flight. Jay had been a friend from my zoo keeping days. At that time he was a keeper at Franklin Park Zoo and we met often at various conferences, and hit it off, spending time together during the days of the conferences. After Jay left zoo keeping and began working for a pharmaceutical company, I lost track of him, but I did discover that he had been on board the Swissair flight.

The monument is very tasteful and invites one to sit and contemplate, looking over the ocean where the disaster occurred, thinking about the local people who rushed out in a vain attempt to rescue any survivors. Of course, there were none. In speaking with a Peter McCarman later that evening, he told me that it has had a lasting impact on those who had witnessed the carnage of body parts and pieces of equipment floating in the water. I don’t doubt it.

View Towards Peggy's Cove

On a happier note, I made my way past Peggy’s Cove to Shad Bay, the home of Peter and Angela. Angela had been quite concerned that Kurt, their oldest dog would be aggressive towards Ripley – but it was love at first sight. It was their new puppy Kate who caused the trouble and kept growling at Ripley. Isn’t she adorable? When Kate first came home, Kurt tried to kill her, but perhaps it’s just because she does puppy things like climb all over, bounce, etc. etc.

They recently lost their other dog, a beagle – a victim of the Menu Foods poison scandal.

Angela is a senior policy analyst for the Nova Scotia government and Peter drives a bus. Both commute from their lovely house overlooking Shad Bay into Halifax and must get up early, so it was a relatively early night. Nevertheless, Angela had ordered a donair pizza – something which we simply do not have in Toronto. It is wonderfully spicey and creamy, made from a Lebanese recipe, and apparently a favourite here in Nova Scotia. I can see why and wonder why it has never made it to Toronto. Peter is a very talented artist and I recall seeing one of his very early works (a cow looking out from a field) on the wall at the Mount Albert home of Frances and Peter back in the late 1970’s. Since then, he has sold many of his paintings internationally. I don’t know what the correct terminology is, but there is a folk art appearance about them – very appealing and the walls of their home are filled with his art. Once he retires, he plans to continue his painting, while Angela plans to continue to write books. She is currently seeking an agent for her work.

The dogs settled down (or as much as Jack Russells can!) and we tried to get some photos. Here’s an attempt.

Peter with Kurt and Marilyn with Kate and Ripley
I had parked my RV at the turnaround at the end of their street, said good night to Peter and Angela and turned in. They had very kindly offered me a bed, but as they have to get up so early (5:00 a.m.) I felt it was best to stay in the RV.

August 30th
In the morning, Ripley and I walked over to Shad Bay where she enjoyed the usual bounty of new odours to take in.

On to Halifax. I somehow got on to the wrong road and ended up driving through the narrow streets of Halifax. When I got to the McDonald bridge, there was a sign stating that no vehicles were allowed over 3,000 kg. That meant wending my way through the streets to the bridge at the other end of town. On the way, I happened to see the Maritime Command Museum, one of my objectives for coming to Halifax. I found a side street on which to park, and left Ripley in charge.

During World War II, my father was stationed in Halifax on the HMCS Sioux. He never talked about his service, and I thought it would be interesting to do some research while I was here. The Visitor Information Centres (which are found all over the Maritimes) are extremely helpful, and a few days ago, one staff member had suggested going to both the Maritime Command Museum and the Nova Scotia Archives & Records office.

The attendant at the Maritime Command Museum was extremely helpful, pulling out a file on the HMCS Sioux, which indicated that the ship had seen action in the North Atlantic, particularly near Norway. Unfortunately, the accompanying photos folder was out with a researcher. I was able to get several photocopies of the ship information, but it would have been nice to see what photos were available. The Museum itself was very interesting, with many memorabilia from various ships – dinnerware, various uniforms of the different ranks, cigarette tins, medals from various sources, ship’s wheel, a mock-up of a typical radio room (the equipment was massive and heavy), pennants, photos of ships, etc. etc.

So, now it was time to make my way across the river to Dartmouth and the Shubie Campground. I turned to Maude for help, and she guided me effortlessly through the maze of streets, across the right bridge and right to the campground, which is actually right within the city limits, on the edge of Lake Charles. It is run by the city and I was soon settled into my site (not exactly even ground and I ended up sleeping on a bit of a tilt). A swim in Lake Charles was next, followed by a walk on the nearby trails which wind along the canal that was built between the two lakes.

Anne Zeller had given me a contact name in Halifax, Peggy and Dave McLean, so I gave them a call. Dave answered and gave me several suggestions of sights to see while in Nova Scotia.

Time to do laundry and catch up on my blog (Episode Number Seven) and add photos. They have a wireless connection here.

August 31

While having breakfast this morning, one of my crowns fell out! What else is going to happen? I’ve made a dental appointment for tomorrow (Saturday) at an office in the nearby Micmac Mall.

Meanwhile, I took a bus to the ferry and crossed over to Halifax.

This time my objective was to get to the Nova Scotia Archives and Records building, but it is quite a distance from the ferry dock. While crossing over, I chatted with a couple who were also staying at the Shubie Campgrounds, and they told me about a free bus called Fred (it is green and picks up tourists at various points around the city). I waited for Fred and the woman driver, gave us a running commentary on points of interest.

One of the points of interest is the Halifax Casino

She stopped at the Citadel, and I decided to get off and use my pass to see this historic site. Soldiers’ quarters

Fred returned, and I hopped on again. This time I got off near the Halifax Public Gardens – a lovely respite in the midst of the hectic downtown area.

A short walk brought me to the NS Archives and Records building, where I was dutifully signed in and provided with an ID card. I was requested to leave my bags behind in a locker and then escorted to the third floor where the documents are kept. An attendant helped me find the directories for 1940 through 1944 and I sat down at a microfiche to read through the files. Unfortunately, I really didn’t find much other than the name and address of Margaret Cole, who may or may not have been my mother. Nothing else. Oh well. It was worth a try. In the meantime, I will mail back to my brother the data that I had found yesterday at the Command Museum.

It was teeming with rain when I came outside, and fortunately I had had the foresight to bring my umbrella. The bus ride cost $1.40 to take me back close to the ferry dock, and a stop at Stayner’s Pub for an Alexander Keith pale ale (the local brew) and a delicious Thai peanut chicken. My view was this funny-looking tugboat moored in the harbour. It takes tourists out.

I am surrounded by gift shops everywhere I travel, but I have been good. I have bought nothing for myself, which must be a record!

Back on the ferry, with a view of the naval shipyards, as we cross back to Dartmouth.

After walking Ripley on the trails (she loves to get off the leash and run into the bushes to smell everything), I crashed.

September 1.

It was a month ago today that I left the farm in Pickering. Since then I have logged over 3,000 km, but it seems to me that I have been on the road for much longer.

I drove the RV over to the Micmac Mall, had a Tim Horton’s (thanks for the coupons) and had my tooth fixed for $66. Since there was a Zeller’s there as well, I picked up a few items including a marvelous laundry bag which is a backpack. Very handy for carrying my laundry over to the campsite Laundromat. And on to the Atlantic Superstore to get groceries.

Will my problems never end? The warning light for my rear antilocking brakes is on! Now I’m scared to drive anywhere.

I did some maintenance work on the RV (cleaning, replacing burned-bulbs, oil and fluid check), and discovered that I have no brake fluid! Hopefully when I get some tomorrow, this will solve my problem. I thought that all the fluids had been checked before I left, but I suppose that I must be more diligent in this regard.

Ripley and I walked the trails twice, and I chatted with the woman who runs the Shubie campgrounds for the City. She lives in a fifth wheel on the site and travels during the winter, primarily to Denmark (where her boyfriend lives), but she has been all over Europe, as well as North America. She’s about my age, so it was inspiring to talk to her.

Sunday, September 2

I took Ripley on the bus with me down to the closest gas station to get the brake fluid. The poor dog was terrified and just shook as we were traveling along. Hopefully she will get better the next time. Gas is now $1.10.9. They were selling packs of Sidney Crosby cards, so naturally I had to buy a pack. Some of them have an autograph, but I didn’t open the pack as that decreases its resale value.

Adding brake fluid did the trick! The warning light went out and stayed out.

It is now becoming second nature to hook and unhook the RV when I arrive at a campground.

It has been nice to spend these past three nights in the same spot, and I’ve been able to watch some DVD’s – Sideways, Staying Alive and Mosquito Coast, part of the selection I brought along with me. So the TV is not irreparably damaged, after all.

On to Antigonish and Whiddens Campground within the city. The sites are very close together and the place is packed with families. I suppose this is their last time out before the kids go back to school on Tuesday.

It’s interesting to compare the facilities at these various sites. Some charge 25 cents to have a shower, some 50 cents and some are free. Some let out only a trickle of water while others give you a good swoosh of water.

I have discovered an interesting radio program on the CBC on Saturday evenings, featuring Randy Bachman, who analyzes rock music and plays samples of the music that he is discussing. He has a great knowledge of this genre, and it is quite entertaining.

September 3. CAPE BRETIB

On to Cape Breton and the Ceilidh (pronounced kaylee) Trail.

Cape Breton causeway

I chose to go up the western shore known as the Ceilidh Trail. This is the birthplace of John Allen Cameron, Natalie McMaster, Ashley MacIsaac, the Rankin Family and other well-known artists.

View near my campsite on Ceilidh Trail.

I passed Port Hood, whose claim to fame is the birthplace of hockey star Al McInnis.

The Celtic Music Interpretive Centre in Judique was a “must” for me, considering that my mother was Irish. Unfortunately, there was no kitchen party going on today, but I did wander through the interactive exhibits, pushing buttons to hear different types of Celtic music, also to try to play a violin and to learn some dance steps following along on videos. I think I would need some practice.

The curator was very helpful, and provided me with some dates and places of ceilidhs in the neighbourhood, most of which are either later in the month, or took place in August. However, Mabou up the road is the site of the Red Shoe Pub, owned by the Rankin Sisters and they have a performer every night.

West Mabou is the site of the small Ceilidh Campground and the owner is a dour elderly man, with two elderly dogs. Ripley was very excited to greet the dogs, a Newfoundland and a Border Collie, both of whom towered over her. She had second thoughts.

Back to Mabou to the Red Shoe Pub at 5:00, just in time to catch Jimmy McDaniel performing, while I had the catch of the day plate (salmon, with baby red potatoes, carrots and snow peas with a lovely fruit chutney) Alexander Keith pale ale, and for dessert a lemon pavlova with local berries.

As the room filled up with guests, I was invited to join Kay and Joe, a couple of North Carolina, who as it happens are also staying at the Ceilidh Campground. They have a 27’ motorhome too and every year they spend two to three months traveling around. When they left, I joined a local family of four children, husband and wife who had been to the beach at Inverness, which they recommended. I’ll have to try it tomorrow.

I’ve decided to stay in Mabou one more day in order to go to the ceilidh at the local community centre, featuring Buddy McMaster, the uncle of Natalie.

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