mmegaera: (Much Ado in Montana)

So. They call the stairs that run from the upper part of Old Town to the lower part the Breakneck Stairs, and when they’re wet, as they were this morning, yeah, the name fits. But I was careful, and I made it to the bottom just fine. All almost 300 steps of them, or so I’m told (and, no, I didn’t have to climb back to the top, thank goodness).

Anyway, I knew there was another whole part of Old Town, but I don’t think I’d realized just how much more was down there. I’d gone down there because of a history museum (which turned out to be much more), but there’s a whole other warren of streets and shops and stuff (and a cruise ship dock, of all things).

The weather was still awful, but I was headed for a – hopefully air conditioned – museum, so I grinned and bore it.

The Musee de Civilization is, at least in part, a museum about Quebec-the-province’s history, so the local equivalent to a state history museum like the ones I’d visited in Kansas, Kentucky, and Maine. It was extremely well done, and since before I arrived here I knew next to nothing about how Quebec came to be Quebec (including the name, which is from an Indian term meaning where the waters narrow – the waters in question being the St. Lawrence, which narrows appreciably at Quebec City), I found it enthralling.

But that wasn’t all they had to show at the Musee de Civilization. There was a temporary exhibit about Australian Aboriginal art, which was fascinating (and completely unexpected by me), and an another temporary exhibit about cats and dogs, including a virtual reality thingy where you could see what they think it’s like to be a cat or a dog. That was hysterical, actually, esp. the part where the mouse went into the garbage can, the cat went in after it, and the garbage can lid fell on the cat, completely freaking him out [g].  And yet another temporary exhibit about Nanotech, which, for some reason, had a lot of SF stuff in it [g].

But the best part of all was the huge exhibit on Quebec’s First Nations (the Canadian equvalent, so far as I can tell, for Indian tribe). Artifacts were just the beginning. It was the stories that were the best part (and the part that’s really impossible to photograph). And these wonderful enormous screens in the background running this incredible film of Quebec’s natural world and how its original inhabitants relate to it. I could have watched that film for hours, and I did sit and watch it for a long time. It was moving, the same way I found the Women’s Rights National Historical Park in upstate New York moving when I was there on my last Long Trip seventeen years ago. I wish they’d had DVDs of that film for sale in the gift shop, but they didn’t.

Anyway, that’s how I spent most of today, and after I left (I ate lunch in the museum’s café – you know you’re in a place that values food when even the museum café has great food), I wandered through the lower Old Town towards the funicular.

The funicular is why I didn’t have to climb all those stairs back up. I’m not normally big on that sort of manmade height, but even though the weather had dried out a bit (and warmed up, but drier was better) while I was in the museum, I put aside my nerves and rode it back up to Dufferin Terrace.

The last thing I did today was go inside Chateau Frontenac. It’s got quite the lobby, but my favorite thing was a sculpture that you can see below. And then I stopped at a little grocery store for supper fixings, and realized about three blocks after I left it that I’d left my camera there. So I ran back, got it (thank goodness), and came back to the hostel for one more night. And here I am.

I have a motel reservation for tomorrow night just outside of Montreal. I still haven’t decided if I’m going to spend much time there. I’m sort of leaning against it right now, because I still have Toronto and Ottawa to go before I head across western Ontario (more people have tried to warn me against western Ontario in the last couple of weeks, for some reason) to the prairies.

At the bottom of all those stairs.
At the bottom of all those stairs.
An art installation on the way to the Musee de Civilization.
An art installation on the way to the Musee de Civilization.
A fou -foot tall Australian Aboriginal mask.
A four -foot tall Australian Aboriginal mask.
When they dug the foundation for the museum, they found the remains of some boats from the 18th century.  This is part of one of them. And it's blue because I was messing with my whiteness thingy on the camera, and this is what happened [wry g].
When they dug the foundation for the museum, they found the remains of some boats from the 18th century. This is part of one of them. And it’s blue because I was messing with my whiteness thingy on the camera, and this is what happened [wry g].
A full-sized set of Iron Man armor was part of the Nanotech exhibit.
A full-sized set of Iron Man armor was part of the Nanotech exhibit.
Part of a row of models of Quebec First Nations housing.
Part of a row of models of Quebec First Nations housing.
Those are made of thousands of beads, and they're meant to represent differing amounts of blood, and different percentages of "Indian-ness."
Those are made of thousands of beads, and they’re meant to represent differing amounts of blood, and different percentages of “Indian-ness.”
This was a funny little fountain I saw in a little nook in Lower Old Town.  Still blue because I was still figuring out how to get my camera settings back where they should be.
This was a funny little fountain I saw in a little nook in Lower Old Town. Still blue because I was still figuring out how to get my camera settings back where they should be.
A huge mural in Lower Old Town.  There's a sign (that I also took a photo of) that points out all of the historical figures and buildings in it by name.
A huge mural in Lower Old Town. There’s a sign (that I also took a photo of) that points out all of the historical figures and buildings in it by name.
See the funicular in the background?
See the funicular in the background?
The view from about halfway up on the funicular.
The view from about halfway up on the funicular.
This lady was in the lobby of the Chateau Frontenac.  I love her.
This lady was in the lobby of the Chateau Frontenac. I love her.

Mirrored from M.M. Justus -- adventures in the supernatural Old West.

mmegaera: (Much Ado in Montana)

I woke up to more than 100% humidity this morning.  Not all that hot, maybe 80dF by afternoon, but that wasn’t the point. I know more than 100% isn’t physically possible, but trust me, I think it was more like 142%. It did rain a bit, but mostly it was just air so thick you had to drink it. I sweated far more than I did in DC, and that’s saying something, especially since sweating in weather that wet does nothing but soak your clothing and drip into your eyes, making them burn.

Dear godlings. Seriously.

I went to the parking garage to look for my umbrella (no way could I actually put my raincoat on in this – it would be like wrapping myself in saran wrap or something), but I couldn’t find it, so I put my camera in a plastic bag and resigned myself to getting soaked. But by the time I came back out of the parking garage, the rain had stopped.

I had decided that today was the day I’d go to the Citadel and the Plains of Abraham, where British General Wolfe and co. fought French General Montcalm and co. to decide the fate of North America. Well, sorta. Or part of it. Or something. Anyway, I wound up in the Battlefields Park Museum (the official name of the Plains of Abraham is Battlefields Park nowadays – back about 100 years ago they turned the whole thing into a big, gorgeous city park). The museum about the battle was very interesting, but the bus tour through the park (the rain had begun to come down again, so a dry, air-conditioned bus was just the ticket) was what was worth the price of admission.

It was driven (he called it the Devil’s Chariot) and conducted by a young man playing the part of one of Abraham Martin’s sons (Abraham Martin was a local landowner the field was named after back in the 18th century), in full costume, and, yes, he was informative and interesting to listen to, but he was also fall out of your chair hilarious. His tongue was so far over in his cheek I thought it was going to come out of his ear. I really do wish I’d asked if I could take his photo, but I didn’t. That bus tour was one of the top five best things I’ve done on this entire trip so far. Seriously. I haven’t laughed so hard and learned so much simultaneously in my life before, I don’t think. If you ever get to Quebec City, go to the Battlefields Park Museum and ride Abraham’s Bus. It was so worth it.

After I caught my breath from laughing, and the rain stopped again, I walked over to the Citadel. Apparently it’s in dire need of reconstruction work or something, though, because the labyrinth to actually get through the equipment and stuff was quite the to-do. I did finally make it to the gate, however, and took a photo of one of the guards, but then the skies opened up again, and I was already so sweaty that I looked like I’d just taken a shower fully dressed, that I decided, you know, I’d seen the one at Halifax and I needed to call it a day.

Maybe tomorrow. Or maybe not. I’ve got another museum I really want to see tomorrow.

Along the wall between the parking garage and the  Citadel.
Along the wall between the parking garage and the Citadel.
Another view of the wall.
Another view of the wall.
I'd never seen a NW Territories license plate before, or a license plate shaped like a bear, for that matter.  This Transit Connect was just down the row from Merlin the Transit Connect in the parking garage.
I’d never seen a NW Territories license plate before, or a license plate shaped like a bear, for that matter. This Transit Connect was just down the row from Merlin the Transit Connect in the parking garage.
One of the gates in the wall.  There's a city street going through there.
One of the gates in the wall. There’s a city street going through there.
Battlefields Park.  This is roughly where the battle took place.
Battlefields Park. This is roughly where the battle took place.
One of the Martello Towers at Battlefields Park.
One of the Martello Towers at Battlefields Park.
Standing guard at the Citadel.
Standing guard at the Citadel.
This carving looks like celery to me!
This carving looks like celery to me!  Even though I know it’s supposed to be acanthus or something.

Mirrored from M.M. Justus -- adventures in the supernatural Old West.

mmegaera: (Much Ado in Montana)

It was only a bit over two hours’ drive from my campsite to Quebec City this morning, mostly on the autoroute (what they call freeways here). I managed to navigate my way to the old town and to the hostel without too much trouble, and was exceedingly relieved to discover that the hostel has a deal with an underground parking garage only a couple of blocks away so that I had a place to stow Merlin for the duration (I had already decided that I wanted three nights here, because there’s so much to see and do). Driving in Quebec City is interesting, in the Chinese sense, and I wanted as little to do with it as possible.

Anyway, I parked Merlin, gathered up my camera, and went exploring.

I like Quebec City. I love the narrow, winding, hilly streets (once I was on foot, anyway), and I like the shops and the scenery and even the crowds of tourists aren’t that big a deal. I mostly explored the upper part of the old town (the walled part of Quebec is divided into two sections by a huge cliff) this afternoon, just prowling around and getting oriented. Oh, and having lunch in a café called L’Omelette (no, I didn’t have an omelette, not today, at least) next to a very pleasant couple from Saskatchewan who were gave me some advice about what I should see in their province (apparently there is more to see there than endless prairies [g], just like in Kansas).

It was a nice sunny day, but rather humid, and, like I said, the streets were hilly. I paced myself accordingly, and came back fairly early to rest up for tomorrow.

Anyway, here’s an assortment of what I saw today.

A quintessentially Quebec view, with the tall Catholic church steeple marking a small town.
A quintessentially Quebec view, with the tall Catholic church steeple marking a small town.
At a rest area along the way.  Canadians will plant flowers in anything, bless 'em.
At a rest area along the way. Canadians will plant flowers in anything, bless ’em.
The bridge over the St. Lawrence Seaway into Quebec City.
The bridge over the St. Lawrence Seaway into Quebec City.
Quebec is the only walled city north of Mexico City, and here's part of the wall, taken while I was walking back from Merlin's garage to the hostel.
Quebec is the only walled city north of Mexico City, and here’s part of the wall, taken while I was walking back from Merlin’s garage to the hostel.
The main drag in the upper part of Old Town Quebec.
The main drag in the upper part of Old Town Quebec.
The obligatory photo of the Chateau Frontenac, which I'm told is the most photographed hotel in Canada or North America or something.  It's perched up on the edge of the cliff above the lower Old Town and the river.
The obligatory photo of the Chateau Frontenac, which I’m told is the most photographed hotel in Canada or North America or something. It’s perched up on the edge of the cliff above the lower Old Town and the river.
Dufferin Terrace, outside of the Chateau Frontenac.  Lots of really talented buskers here.  I was surprised that the whole thing is wood-surfaced, though.  Terrace to me generally means stone.
Dufferin Terrace, outside of the Chateau Frontenac. Lots of really talented buskers here. I was surprised that the whole thing is wood-surfaced, though. Terrace to me generally means stone.
The view from Dufferin Terrace out to the river and beyond.
The view from Dufferin Terrace out to the river and beyond.
A statue on Dufferin Terrace, apparently there to advertise a Dali and Picasso exhibit elsewhere in town (I never did figure out where, but it wasn't all that high on my list of priorities, either).
A statue on Dufferin Terrace, apparently there to advertise a Dali and Picasso exhibit elsewhere in town (I never did figure out where, but it wasn’t all that high on my list of priorities, either).
Samuel de Champlain, and I'm not sure exactly what that's supposed to be below him (the text was in French), on Dufferin Terrace.
Samuel de Champlain, and I’m not sure exactly what that’s supposed to be below him (the text was in French), on Dufferin Terrace.
This statue was tucked away in an alley off of a side street.  I saw it while I was walking back up to the hostel.  He's a river driver.
This statue was tucked away in an alley off of a side street. I saw it while I was walking back up to the hostel. He’s a river driver.

Mirrored from M.M. Justus -- adventures in the supernatural Old West.

mmegaera: (travel)

I woke up to a world that didn’t look like it rained a single drop yesterday. Not a cloud in the sky (for the morning at least – it did cloud up and shower just a bit this afternoon and started coming down good again about bedtime) and Goldilocks temperatures (not too hot, not too chilly).

I drove north on Trans-Canada Hwy. 2 until I saw a sign that said Grand Falls. That sounded interesting, so I got off the freeway (basically Canada’s answer to the Interstate) and drove down into a cute little town with an enormous waterfall right in the middle of it. A sign nearby said that during the spring freshet, the waterfall has 9/10ths of the volume of Niagara. Of course it’s late August now, but it’s still pretty darned impressive.

Grand Falls, New Brunswick
Grand Falls, New Brunswick.

My next stop was for lunch in the town of Edmundston, then a few miles almost to the Quebec line, where I saw a sign that said Jardin Botanique. Well, even I can translate that! The New Brunswick Botanic Garden, complete with butterfly house, was charming. Absolutely charming. The late summer flowers were in full bloom, the grounds were beautiful, and it was just the right size to while away a couple of hours on a perfectly sunny afternoon.

The entrance to the New Brunswick Botanic Garden, just outside of Edmunston
The entrance to the New Brunswick Botanic Garden, just outside of Edmundston.
Inside the butterfly house at the New Brunswick Botanic Garden
Inside the butterfly house at the New Brunswick Botanic Garden.
What the butterflies in the previous photo look like when they're in flight
What the butterflies in the previous photo look like when they’re in flight.

I had an interesting conversation with a gardener in the potager (kitchen garden) section of the place, my first real attempt at a conversation with someone whose English wasn’t much better than my all but non-existent French (northern New Brunswick isn’t quite as Francophone as Quebec, but almost). Anyway, I asked her what those berries in the photo were, and she told me they were related to blueberries, but needed to be cooked with a lot of sugar so they wouldn’t be disgusting (her word) [g].

 The subject of my first discussion with someone whose English was only slightly better than my French.
The subject of my first discussion with someone whose English was only slightly better than my French.
 An artichoke, which is apparently hardier than I gave them credit for
An artichoke, which is apparently hardier than I gave them credit for.

There were some rather odd sculptures, apparently a temporary exhibit, and a stonehenge, my second one of the trip (the first one was back in Washington state at Maryhill). And just a lot of lovely scenery.

The rose garden was pretty much over for the season, but the fountain was still pretty
The rose garden was pretty much over for the season, but the fountain was still pretty.
A view of the aboretum
A view of the arboretum.
Flocks and flocks of phlox
Flocks and flocks of phlox.
A sedum I'm not familiar with
A sedum I’m not familiar with.
Monkshood, which is one of my favorite perennials because it's such a true blue
Monkshood, which is one of my favorite perennials because it’s such a true blue.
 A view of the garden pond and gazebo
A view of the garden pond and gazebo.
 Isn't that an amazing dragonfly It's about 3 inches long and you can just see its transparent wings.
Isn’t that an amazing dragonfly? It’s about 3 inches long and you can just barely see its transparent wings.
 Looks like something out of Dr. Seuss, doesn't it?
Looks like something out of Dr. Seuss, doesn’t it?
My second stonehenge of the trip
My second stonehenge of the trip.

I crossed over into Quebec right after I left the garden, and all of a sudden everything was monolingual – in a language I don’t speak! I’ve never been to a place where my native language isn’t the primary language before, let alone driven there. It’s a good thing I had a couple of weeks worth of bilingual road signs before I arrived here, because at least I recognize most of the common road words (sortie for exit, convergez for merge, directions, that sort of thing). Anyway, buying gas (about 10 cents more a liter in Quebec than in the Maritimes) and getting a campsite were interesting exercises, too. The campsite is right on the water, and very lovely.

Now they're taunting me with moose in French!
Now they’re taunting me with moose in French!
The view from my campsite tonight, over the St. Lawrence Seaway at low tide.
The view from my campsite tonight, over the St. Lawrence Seaway at low tide.

I decided planning was the better part of valor, so I have reservations in Quebec City’s hostel for three nights starting tomorrow. That has me leaving QC on Saturday, Christine, Elizabeth and Marna, so it looks like I actually won’t get to Ottawa until at least Monday, and Mississauga after that, depending on whether I actually spend time in Montreal or not. I hope that works out for everyone!

Mirrored from M.M. Justus -- adventures in the supernatural Old West.

mmegaera: (Much Ado in Montana)

I knew I wasn’t going to leave PEI until late yesterday afternoon, and I was lucky that my last day on the island was such beautiful weather – bright sunshine and low 70s, like a perfect summer day at home.

I spent my morning driving along the north coast through the rest of PEI National Park, admiring more rust-colored beaches.

I've seen a lot of hawkweed in my time, but never in this bright an orange.
I’ve seen a lot of hawkweed in my time, but never in this bright an orange.
Dunes covered in grass at PEI National Park.
Dunes covered in grass at PEI National Park.
People actually swim in the Gulf of St. Lawrence at these beaches.  The water, according to a signboard I saw, was supposed to be around 16-18C today (upper 60sF).  Brrr...
People actually swim in the Gulf of St. Lawrence at these beaches. The water, according to a signboard I saw, was supposed to be around 16-18C today (upper 60sF). Brrr…
I love PEI's sand. Just look at the colors!
I love PEI’s sand. Just look at the colors!

I gradually made my way to Charlottetown. I’d planned on going to Province House, where representatives from Upper Canada (Ontario), Lower Canada (Quebec), Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick (but ironically enough, not PEI) got together and decided to confederate themselves into Canada, back in the 1860s. Unfortunately, though, the building was closed for conservation work, so I basically walked around town for a bit, then drove out to Victoria Park, which is on a stubby peninsula sticking out into Charlottetown Harbor.

Charlottetown (which had the only stoplights I saw on the island) has some really odd-looking (to my eyes, anyway) traffic signals.  Yes, the red lights are square and the yellow lights are diamond-shaped.
Charlottetown (which had the only stoplights I saw on the island) has some really odd-looking (to my eyes, anyway) traffic signals. Yes, the red lights are square and the yellow lights are diamond-shaped.
Looking out across Charlottetown Harbor from Victoria Park.
Looking out across Charlottetown Harbor from Victoria Park.
The Charlottetown (pop. 35,000, and the biggest city on the island) skyline from Victoria Park.
The Charlottetown (pop. 35,000, and the biggest city on the island) skyline from Victoria Park.

Victoria Park sort of reminded me of a miniature Stanley Park, with a waterfront promenade and lots of flowers and trees. But considering that I haven’t seen Stanley Park since I was a kid (in spite of the fact that Vancouver is only about four hours north of Tacoma), I could be wrong [g]. Anyway, it was lovely.

And so I started wending my way back towards the Confederation Bridge, with a detour to Fort Amherst/Fort LaJoye National Historic Site, across the harbor from Charlottetown. The double name is because the French settled it first, then the Brits took it over after the Treaty of Utrecht and renamed it. This was another site where the poor Acadians got booted out.

The Charlottetown skyline from Fort Amherst/Fort la Joye.
The Charlottetown skyline from Fort Amherst/Fort la Joye.
A monument to the Grand Derangement (the expulsion of the Acadians) at Fort Amherst/Fort la Joye.
A monument to the Grand Derangement (the expulsion of the Acadians) at Fort Amherst/Fort la Joye.
The remains of Fort Amherst.
The remains of Fort Amherst.

I was admiring the view when I got to talking with an older local couple, who I got to ask about the climate. I was astonished to learn that Charlottetown Harbor freezes over almost every year, just like Lake Erie does. I’m not sure why that astonished me, except that I guess it seems too far south for salt water to freeze over. Anyway, I find it very difficult to imagine this part of the world in the wintertime for some reason.

Field of what I think is rapeseed (the plant they make canola oil from) on PEI.
Field of what I think is rapeseed (the plant they make canola oil from) on PEI.

I drove on along the south coast of PEI, past fields and ocean and views, until I reached the bridge, where I paid my $46 Canadian to cross back to New Brunswick, and then turned west, looking for a provincial park that said it had campsites. It took me a while to reach Murray Beach Provincial Park, but it was well worth it, right on the water with a nice sandy beach and an incredible view, especially at sunset.

Sunset at Murray Beach, New Brunswick.
Sunset at Murray Beach, New Brunswick.
Doesn't it look almost tropical?
Doesn’t it look almost tropical?
One last sunset shot.
One last sunset shot.

This morning I woke up to clouds, which, since I’d figured on a driving day across New Brunswick, didn’t seem like a bad deal. It was when I stopped for lunch and groceries about noon, and came back outside to a driving rain at least as heavy as the one on Cape Breton Island the other day that I thought maybe this wasn’t so great. I did make it to Woodstock, NB, about an hour west of Fredericton, this afternoon, but there was no way I was camping in this, so I found a motel, and I am taking full advantage of Real WiFI [tm] tonight.

Tomorrow I shall cross the border into Quebec. Here’s hoping it won’t be in a downpour.

Mirrored from M.M. Justus -- adventures in the supernatural Old West.

mmegaera: (Much Ado in Montana)

Okay. Is everyone familiar with Anne of Green Gables? The story of an orphan adopted by mistake (she was supposed to be a boy) who won everyone’s hearts over, anyway? The source of one of my favorite quotes? “Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it… Yet.” Well, today I visited Green Gables, or at least the house L.M. Montgomery based Green Gables on (it belonged to some of her cousins). I also saw what’s left (just the foundations, alas) of the house where she wrote the book, and the house where she was born.

The path through the woods that I took to Green Gables, named after a landmark in the books.
The path through the woods that I took to Green Gables, named after a landmark in the books.
The Haunted Wood, which is actually quite lovely and not haunted at all [g].
The Haunted Wood, which is actually quite lovely and not haunted at all [g].
I did not expect to see jewelweed here, for some reason, but here it was.
I did not expect to see jewelweed here, for some reason, but here it was.
Hollyhocks in the garden at Green Gables.
Hollyhocks in the garden at Green Gables.
Green Gables itself.
Green Gables itself.
I thought this was clever.  This is the bedroom done up to look like the room Anne slept in the night she arrived.
I thought this was clever. This is the bedroom done up to look like the room Anne slept in the night she arrived.
And this room next to it was done up to look like her room as described near the end of the book.
And this room next to it was done up to look like her room as described near the end of the book.
I was walking back up the Haunted Wood trail to Merlin, when I spotted a little boy and his grandmother peering at something on the edge of the trail.   This caterpillar turned out to be what they were looking at [g].
I was walking back up the Haunted Wood trail to Merlin, when I spotted a little boy and his grandmother peering at something on the edge of the trail. This caterpillar turned out to be what they were looking at [g].
The view from the path to the remains of the house where L.M. Montgomery wrote Anne of Green Gables.
The view from the path to the remains of the house where L.M. Montgomery wrote Anne of Green Gables.
And another classic PEI bucolic farmland view.  The whole island looks like this.  It's so charming.
And another classic PEI bucolic farmland view. The whole island looks like this. It’s so charming.
This little dude was on the porch of the bookstore near where Montgomery wrote Anne of Green Gables.
This little dude was on the porch of the bookstore near where Montgomery wrote Anne of Green Gables.
The cellar hole of the house where Anne of Green Gables was written.
The cellar hole of the house where Anne of Green Gables was written.

Yeah, Cavendish, PEI, is to L.M. Montgomery and Anne Shirley what Hannibal, Missouri, is to Mark Twain and Tom Sawyer. There is one big difference, though. Most of the Anne sites are part of PEI National Park, so they’re not quite so commercial and in your face about it. OTOH, outside of the national park, there are amusement parks and wax museums and omigosh all kinds of silly stuff.

Touring Green Gables, and walking through the Haunted Wood was a lot of fun this morning, though. I took Lonely Planet’s advice, and parked Merlin at a little town park at the other end of the 1km long Haunted Wood trail, and approached Green Gables that way instead of from the huge parking lot and modern visitor center. They were right. It was much nicer. I had my parks pass in my pocket, so it wasn’t like I hadn’t paid or anything.

The Haunted Wood is just your basic spruce and birch woodland, but it’s a special spruce and birch woodland, because it’s the one where Anne got her wits scared right out of her because of her own imagination. Anyway, it was fun to make the pilgrimage, which is something I’d always wanted to do.

After a picnic lunch, I drove along the shoreline part of PEI National Park and admired the broad Gulf of St. Lawrence and the bright blue sky and the rusty red sands and cliffs. I’ve never seen an oceanscape quite like that one, and I enjoyed it very much. Then I drove around the island for a bit, and went back to my cabin, and chilled out for a while before I went out for dinner.

The northern shore of Prince Edward Island is gorgeous, isn't it?
The northern shore of Prince Edward Island is gorgeous, isn’t it?
Another view of the shore.
Another view of the shore.
This is the hamlet of French River, which apparently has been voted one of the prettiest towns in Canada for years.
This is the hamlet of French River, which apparently has been voted one of the prettiest towns in Canada for years.

I had a lobster supper tonight [g]. I ate soup and a half bucket of mussels (that’s how they serve them, by the bucket) and salad and a whole lobster, the mussels and lobster accompanied by melted butter, and the best dinner rolls I’ve had in a very long time. I finished the whole thing off with lemon meringue pie, and they basically had to roll me out of there when it was over. That’s more food I’ve eaten at one time since before I left home, I think. And every bit of it was delicious.

Lobster suppers are a staple of New England and the Maritimes, and especially of PEI, so this was a splurge I’d been thinking about making for a while now. Since I’m headed off of PEI and across New Brunswick towards Quebec tomorrow afternoon (I want to spend the morning in Charlottetown), I knew this would be my last chance. The supper place was just a mile or so down the road, and it came highly recommended by Lonely Planet, so I thought why not? And I’m glad I did!

Mirrored from M.M. Justus -- adventures in the supernatural Old West.

mmegaera: (Much Ado in Montana)

The result of my decision last night is that I drove a long way today. Oh, I suppose I could have broken the drive up with another night in Nova Scotia, but that’s not what I wanted to do.

I got up and out early and headed for the Canso Causeway. The main road from Louisbourg to the mainland goes north almost to Sydney (a distance of about forty miles, so not that big a deal), and then southwest along the western shore of Lake Bras d’Or back to St. Peters, where I spent my first night on the island, and then down to the causeway by the same route I came onto the island.

Lake Bras d'Or on a sunny morning (of course the weather got better as soon as I decided to leave).
Lake Bras d’Or on a sunny morning (of course the weather got better as soon as I decided to leave).
A lot of the signs in certain parts of Cape Breton Island are in Gaelic as well as English.  So a different kind of bilingual than what I was getting used to.
A lot of the signs in certain parts of Cape Breton Island are in Gaelic as well as English. So a different kind of bilingual than what I was getting used to.
There's actually a hamlet called Local Inhabitants, which I found vastly amusing.
There’s actually a hamlet called Lower River Inhabitants, which I found vastly amusing.

The drive along the lakeshore was lovely, and I enjoyed the views. When I got to Port Hastings (the tiny town at the island end of the causeway, I stopped twice, once at a McDonalds (I’ve finally figured out the tea issue – I order a small hot tea and a large cup of ice, then I let the tea brew for a few minutes and pour it over the ice – then I go out to my cooler and add lemon juice and I’m in business [wry g] – hey, it works), and once at a museum at the end of the causeway that told about how it was built back in the 1940s, which was fascinating. I’d wondered about that big scar on the waterfront on the mainland side. Apparently that’s where most of the rock to build the causeway was blasted from. Next door (and the main reason I’d stopped) was a small shop selling quilts. The lady was very friendly, and she had some nice (albeit machine-quilted) quilts for sale.

Looking at the Canso Causeway from the parking lot of the museum about it.
Looking at the Canso Causeway from the parking lot of the museum about it.

And then it was over the causeway and back to the mainland, where I hit the main highway and headed west, thinking I’d catch the ferry to Prince Edward Island (PEI), because it was a bit shorter coming from the east than driving around to the bridge. Well, I got to the ferry landing and discovered you have to have reservations. They were full up for today. So much for that. So I stopped to call and make a reservation for a campground near Cavendish (more about that tomorrow) on PEI. A campsite for tonight, and a cabin for tomorrow night.

I know this is local First Nations.  What I don't know is how to pronounce it.
I know this is local First Nations. What I don’t know is how to pronounce it.

And then I got back on the highway and booked. All the rest of the way across northern Nova Scotia and over the border into New Brunswick, where I turned north almost immediately, heading for the Confederation Bridge, which opened in 1997.

The beginning of the Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island.
The beginning of the Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island.
A quick snap of the view over the Jersey barriers on one side of the bridge.
A quick snap of the view over the Jersey barriers on one side of the bridge.

It’s another bridge on the scale of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, only without any tunnels. It’s 13km long, which is apparently the longest bridge of its type in North America. It’s seriously impressive (it darned well better be – when I cross it again on my way west, it will cost me $46 – you only pay leaving the island, not arriving).

I stopped at a welcome center on the PEI side of the bridge to get a provincial road map. The CAA map of the Maritimes isn’t all that good, but the provincial maps cover everything.

Welcome to Prince Edward Island!
Welcome to Prince Edward Island!

The campground was less than forty miles away at this point, but the road was – and this still sort of makes me giggle – winding and up and over and around, and it reminded me of nothing so much as the little backroads I drove in northwest New Jersey a few weeks ago. Weird, huh?

The campground is very nice, heavily wooded and private, and quiet. And close to both Charlottetown and Cavendish. If only the wifi actually worked…

Mirrored from M.M. Justus -- adventures in the supernatural Old West.

mmegaera: (Much Ado in Montana)

Today I drove the forty or so miles down just past the modern-day town of Louisbourg, walked through a visitor center, and caught a shuttle bus into the past.

Louisbourg Fortress (a fortified town, as opposed to a fort, which is just a fort) was built by the French, back when they were battling the Brits for supremacy in North America. The current fortress is something like Williamsburg, only even more so. With Williamsburg they had a few existing buildings to start with. With Louisbourg they had archaeological digs and historians. What they’ve achieved with that is pretty astonishing. You really do feel like you’re walking through an 18th century (they’re portraying the 1740s here, the height of Louisbourg’s prosperity) walled town. You almost feel like you’re in France, not Canada, which is rather disconcerting.

Louisbourg Fortress from the shuttle bus across the bay.
Louisbourg Fortress from the shuttle bus across the bay.
The soldier who wanted to be bribed with rum to let us in [g].
The soldier who wanted to be bribed with rum to let us in [g].
The main gate into Louisbourg Fortress.
The main gate into Louisbourg Fortress.
Looking up the hill at the main town.
Looking up the hill at the main town.  The big yellow gate is actually fronting on the water.
A lovely tapestry in one of the buildings.
A lovely tapestry in one of the buildings.
A pantry exhibit in one of the buildings.
A pantry exhibit in one of the buildings.
A painting of what it must have looked like here in the 1740s.
A painting of what it must have looked like here in the 1740s.
One of the gardens.  I was rather surprised that lavender does this well in this climate (the cool windy summers as much as the cold winters), and ended up in a nice discussion about the local climate with a man working in the garden.
One of the gardens. I was rather surprised that lavender does this well in this climate (the cool windy summers as much as the cold winters), and ended up in a nice discussion about the local climate with a man working in the garden.
Piles and piles of slate shingles.  Those were for the houses of the rich.
Piles and piles of slate shingles. Those were for the houses of the rich.
I've never seen an oven like this one before.
I’ve never seen an oven like this one before.
Another bit of garden.  Not sure precisely what the yellow flowers are, but they may be Jerusalem artichokes.  They sure do look like the googled images of them, anyway.
Another bit of garden. Not sure precisely what the yellow flowers are, but they may be Jerusalem artichokes. They sure do look like the googled images of them, anyway.  The green bristly things in the foreground are teasel, used to card wool back in the day.
An interesting part of the church paraphernalia inside of the building in the next photo.
An interesting part of the church paraphernalia inside of the building in the next photo.
This was officially the officers' barracks, but there was also a church and a jail in there -- along with a huge exhibit on how Louisbourg was researched and rebuilt back in the 1960s.
This was officially the officers’ barracks, but there was also a church and a jail in there — along with a huge exhibit on how Louisbourg was researched and rebuilt back in the 1960s.

The living history part of the deal is toned down here, though. Not a lot of demonstrations, at least not today. But a good many of the buildings were filled with exhibits, about how they did the research and the rebuilding, and telling the stories of some of the people who lived here. I was surprised (although I have no idea why I was surprised) to discover that a few African slaves lived here. I was also fascinated by the hierarchy of the place, who was on top, and who was unfortunate enough to be at the bottom. I learned about the soldiers’ lives, and saw where they lived, and all in all it was another part of history that I didn’t know about. I also had a very nice chat with a gardener about the local climate, and another with a soldier on the ramparts about how most English language military terms come from the French language.

I’ve been charmed by the way I’m greeted with “hello, bonjour” ever since I crossed the border into Canada. I keep meaning to mention it, but what I’ve learned is that this is how they ask you which language you speak.  You’re supposed to respond in your language so that the person addressing you knows how to go on. Which is pretty nifty, IMHO.

I spent most of the day at Fortress Louisbourg, in a misty moisty morning and cloudy (and windy) was the weather, and then just in the brisk wind that made me glad I’d put my hoodie and my raincoat on.

After I left Louisbourg, I wasn’t in the mood to make a decision as to what I was going to do the next day, so I stopped at a provincial park campground nearby – and promptly got read the riot act for speeding in the campground. I had not been speeding. I’ve been paranoid about the whole kilometers vs. miles thing ever since I crossed the border, and I know for a fact that I was not speeding. But I didn’t argue with the man, and he didn’t do anything more than fuss at me.

I’ve already been feeling sort of weird about Cape Breton ever since I got here. I’m not sure I can explain it, but I’m more than ready to leave. It’s almost like I’m a rubber band, with one end fastened in western Washington, and apparently Cape Breton was just stretching me just a little too far.  That’s also part of the reason I didn’t go on to Newfoundland.

There’s more to see here, and I could have stayed another night or two, but I’m ready to head west. Not directly west, not yet, but west.

Mirrored from M.M. Justus -- adventures in the supernatural Old West.

mmegaera: (Much Ado in Montana)

So.  I was sorta counting on catching up online, doing blog posts, etc., while I was staying here on Prince Edward Island, but the place I’m staying has The World’s Crappiest WiFi [tm] (as in it was barely working last night, and not at all this morning), so it looks like I’m going to be out of touch until I leave.

I’m sitting in the parking lot of a fishing charter place that had a “free wifi” sign, which is how I’m online, but it’s not the greatest arrangement.

Anyway, I’ll catch up to you all later!

Mirrored from M.M. Justus -- adventures in the supernatural Old West.

mmegaera: (Much Ado in Montana)

Yesterday was mostly a driving day, from Halifax to Cape Breton Island, and a nice relaxing afternoon at Cape Battery Provincial Park’s lovely waterfront campground.

Satin clouds over Nova Scotia's north shore.
Satin clouds over Nova Scotia’s north shore.
The drawbridge section of the Canso Causeway (there's what looks like a lock under that bridge).
The drawbridge section of the Canso Causeway (there’s what looks like a lock under that bridge).
The view from across the road from my campsite last night.
The view from across the road from my campsite last night.
Purple loosestrife at the campsite.  If it weren't such a noxious weed, purple loosestrife would be gorgeous.
Purple loosestrife at the campsite. If it weren’t such a noxious weed, purple loosestrife would be gorgeous.

It was gorgeous and sunny and everything (although breezy and cool, not that I was complaining about the cool part, anyway), then, in the middle of the night, I heard rat-a-tat-a-tat on Merlin’s roof, and was suddenly really glad I hadn’t left anything outside, oh, like my folding camp chair, because when I woke up this morning, it was to the kind of rain I normally associate with a Pineapple Express in the winter back home. Well, it wasn’t that cold (although it never got above 62dF today, according to Merlin’s thermometer), but it was easily that wet. This is the kind of weather that words and phrases like “driving rain,” and “teeming” were invented for. Oh, and it was windy, too, so it’s been raining sideways pretty much all day.

I didn’t want to spend the day cooped up in the back of my van, so I went ahead and drove to the town of Baddeck, on Lake Bras D’Or (did you know that Cape Breton Island has a huge lake in the middle of it? I didn’t – although since there is a water passage from the lake to the ocean, I’m not sure it really qualifies as a lake, even though it’s named that way), where Alexander Graham Bell had a summer home, and where there’s a National Historic Site dedicated to him.

You can read the caption [g].
You can read the caption [g].  By the way, Bell got married the year before Charley did, and the same year as the Little Bighorn.
The view of Bras d'Or Lake from the front of the Alexander Graham Bell Museum, taken the one moment today when it wasn't pouring rain.
The view of Bras d’Or Lake from the front of the Alexander Graham Bell Museum, taken the one moment today when it wasn’t pouring rain.

There was a visitor center/museum, which was very crowded because I wasn’t the only one looking for something to do indoors out of the rain, but it was still well worth visiting. I didn’t know much about Bell, except for the obvious that he invented the telephone and that he and Helen Keller had met several times (which isn’t as ironic as it, er, sounds – his wife was deaf, and one of his major passions was helping deaf people). I had no idea how much of an inventor he really was. Among other things, he was involved with early aviation and hydrofoils.

But the most arresting thing, at least sensorily, was the “try it!” display of an old-fashioned (omigosh, really?) dial telephone. The sound of it was just – wow, it was weird. I hadn’t heard the sound of a dial phone in decades. That seriously made me feel old. When I walked up, a woman was teaching her little kid how to dial it. So. Very. Weird. Sorry.

So. I really wanted to be indoors (not just in the van, but real indoors) tonight, and there were no rooms to be had in Baddeck (ba-DECK, not BA-deck), so I got a late lunch at a café with terrible service called the Yellow Cello (a 12” hot dog dressed like a Philly cheese steak, which was better than it sounds), and headed the thirty or so miles north to the Sydneys (there are three of them, Sydney Mines, North Sydney, where the ferry to Newfoundland leaves from, and just Sydney, which is the biggest city on Cape Breton Island), where I found a nice, warm, dry motel room.

The weather is supposed to improve somewhat, at least so far as the rain goes, by late tomorrow, but it’s supposed to stay windy and chilly, and that’s about what’s decided me to not take the ferry to Newfoundland. Four hours one way on the open ocean in weather like this (I get seasick unless the water’s pretty calm, and I should have realized long ago that it wasn’t going to be) does not sound like fun. Plus, the whole trip would probably take me at least a week, what with a day each on the ferry on either end, plus two days driving each way to get to L’Anse aux Meadows once I arrived on the island and just one day there. And that doesn’t even count seeing any of the rest of it (the other part I’d like to visit, St. Johns – Great Big Sea territory! – is clear on the opposite corner from L’Anse aux Meadows – probably a three-day drive one way, plus three more days back to the ferry). It seems like so much effort and time and money without as much return as seems reasonable. I’ve spent a lot of time driving through rather monotonous taiga in the last few days, and a lot of getting anywhere in Newfoundland is going to be 99% taiga.

So I’m afraid that’s just not going to happen. Still, I’m glad I got this far. Tomorrow I will probably go see Cape Breton Highlands National Park if the weather is improved enough, and I also want to see Louisbourg National Historic Site before I leave Cape Breton and head west, once and for good.

I can’t believe I’m saying that. Wow.

Mirrored from M.M. Justus -- adventures in the supernatural Old West.

mmegaera: (Much Ado in Montana)

Although I do understand the climate can leave something to be desired [g].

Anyway, today I walked and museumed all day. First, I hiked up to the Citadel, an 18th century (reconstructed in the 19th) fortress in the heart of Halifax. I told you the hostel is in a great location – it was only about eight blocks, albeit most of them uphill.

The Citadel reminded me almost forcibly of Edinburgh Castle, and I don’t think it was just the bagpiper or the young men and women in uniforms including tall fuzzy things on their heads. The location, up on a hill in the heart of a bayfront city, the weather (cool and cloudy, at least in the morning), and the age of the thing (granted, not nearly as old as Edinburgh Castle, but much older than anything I’m used to at home), all made it seem similar, in a very happy-to-me way.

The very cheerful young man with a very fuzzy thing on his head who greeted me at the Citadel.
The very cheerful young man with a very fuzzy thing on his head who greeted me at the Citadel.
The inside of the Citadel.
The inside of the Citadel.
A 19th century British naval sailor's uniform.  So natty, especially the straw hat!
A 19th century British naval sailor’s uniform. So natty, especially the straw hat!
A peekaboo view of Halifax Harbor from the Citadel's ramparts (the view is mostly obscured by high-rises, which is kind of sad, if understandable).
A peekaboo view of Halifax Harbor from the Citadel’s ramparts (the view is mostly obscured by high-rises, which is kind of sad, if understandable).
Bagpiper and friend next to the flagpole on the Citadel's ramparts.
Bagpiper and friend next to the flagpole on the Citadel’s ramparts.

The museum inside was – eye-opening, yes, that’s the word. Okay, I watched Canada: A People’s History when it was on the CBC (I get the Vancouver affiliate on my cable when I’m home) a few years ago, and I knew they have a completely and utterly different perspective on the War of 1812 than we do, but it’s still odd to view exhibits talking about the U.S. invading Canada (which barely even gets mentioned south of the border, even in school). Anyway, it was fascinating. Well worth the morning I spent there.

Afterwards, on my way to the waterfront, I stopped at a little sandwich place called As You Like It for lunch, which was cute, with a mural on the wall purporting to depict a scene from the play, and tasty, with a roast beef sandwich and a brownie.

I'm pretty sure this is about as quintessentially Canadian as it gets -- seen on my way from the Citadel to the waterfront.
I’m pretty sure this is about as quintessentially Canadian as it gets — seen on my way from the Citadel to the waterfront.

At the waterfront was the other main thing I wanted to see while I was here, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, which is to Canadian maritime history what the Kansas Cosmosphere was to the space race. Which has pretty much become about the highest compliment I can give to a museum.

See, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic had me when I first walked in.  This is a *first order* Fresnel lens, right in the lobby where I could adore it up close.
See, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic pretty much had me when I first walked in the door. This is a *first order* Fresnel lens, from the lighthouse at the entrance to Halifax Harbor, right in the lobby where I could adore it up close.
A miniature (about a foot long) replica of an Inuit kayak and accessories.
A miniature (about a foot long) replica of an Inuit kayak and accessories.
Yes, that label says colored guano (as in bat poop).
Yes, that label says colored guano (as in bird poop).
A deck chair from the Titanic (they re-caned the seat).  They also had a replica nearby that you could actually sit in.
An actual deck chair from the Titanic (they re-caned the seat). They also had a replica nearby that you could actually sit in.

The exhibits were all over the place – arctic exploration, the ages of sail and steam, the Titanic (Halifax was the closest port of any size to the disaster, and they sent the ships that went to recover the bodies, or as many of them as they could), and the Halifax explosion.

What, you’ve never heard of the largest pre-atomic manmade explosion in the world? Which killed almost as many people as 9/11 did in New York, and leveled most of the north end of an entire city? The sound of which was heard hundreds of miles away? On December 7, 1917, a munitions ship loaded with thousands of pounds of explosives bound for the war in Europe accidentally collided with a Belgian relief ship, caught fire, and, well, you can imagine the rest. I’d known a little about the explosion, again thanks to the CBC and a historical movie about it a few years ago, but I don’t think the scale of it all registered until this afternoon. Apparently it did more damage than the San Francisco earthquake or the Chicago fire. Oh, and then the next day they had a blizzard. Those poor people just couldn’t catch a break.

My last stop of the day (so to speak) was at the ferry terminal, where I paid $2.50 to make a round trip across the harbor on a cute little passenger ferry, and strolled along the Dartmouth waterfront, where I had a great view of the Halifax skyline. That was fun.

The Halifax skyline from the ferry to Dartmouth.
The Halifax skyline from the ferry to Dartmouth.
An interesting exhibit on the Dartmouth waterfront.  Those rocks in the exhibit case are from all over the world (including a piece of the Berlin wall from Germany).
An interesting exhibit on the Dartmouth waterfront. Those rocks in the exhibit case are from all over the world (including a piece of the Berlin wall from Germany).
The MacDonald Bridge in Halifax, from the ferry.  I can't get over how much it looks like the old (as opposed to the new, and also as opposed to Galloping Gertie) Tacoma Narrows Bridge.  It's even the same color.
The MacDonald Bridge in Halifax, from the ferry. I can’t get over how much it looks like the old (as opposed to the new, and also as opposed to Galloping Gertie) Tacoma Narrows Bridge. It’s even the same color.
Two of the lighthouses at the entrance to Halifax Harbor, taken with tons of zoom from the ferry.  I had no idea until I opened this photo on my laptop that there were *two* lighthouses in this photo.
Two of the lighthouses at the entrance to Halifax Harbor, taken with tons of zoom from the ferry. I had no idea until I opened this photo on my laptop that there were *two* lighthouses in this photo.

By the time I hoofed it the ten blocks or so back to the hostel (stopping at a needlework shop along the way) my feet hurt, but it was a great day. I enjoyed the heck out of Halifax. It was an awful lot of fun.

A mural I walked by on my way back to the hostel this evening.  I love the colors in it.
A mural I walked by on my way back to the hostel this evening. I love the colors in it.

Tomorrow, though, I’m headed to Cape Breton Island. I’ve been looking forward to that, too. And D-Day for my Newfoundland decision is getting awfully close here…

Mirrored from M.M. Justus -- adventures in the supernatural Old West.

mmegaera: (Much Ado in Montana)

My Seahawks won their first pre-season game last night.  17-16, on a last-minute Hail Mary pass and a two-point conversion.  I can’t believe it’s football season already, but Go, ‘Hawks!  (no, I didn’t have the bandwidth at the campground to watch the game, but I did see and hear some highlights)

It was wet when I woke up this morning. Not raining hard, but the air was seriously saturated. I felt like I needed gills.

Along Highway 103 on the way to Halifax.
Along Highway 103 on the way to Halifax.

I drove north on the highway till I got to the turnoff for Peggy’s Cove. Peggy’s Cove is one of those iconic places you’ll recognize from the photos (I bet), supposedly the most-photographed lighthouse in Canada [g].

Along the road to Peggy’s Cove is a memorial to a plane crash in 1998, on a windswept bluff south of town. 229 people died in that crash, out in the Atlantic off of the coast here, and the memorial is lonesome and peaceful.

The view from the Swissair crash memorial, looking northish towards Peggy's Cove.
The view from the Swissair crash memorial, looking northish towards Peggy’s Cove.

Peggy’s Cove itself is tiny, with a visitor center (complete with composting toilets) that I suspect was built in self-defense. It’s also adorable, as is the lighthouse itself. The granite shield the town and lighthouse are built on is rather amazing, too. Anyway, it was very pretty, and very damp, and I enjoyed strolling around it very much.

Part of the Harbor at Peggy's Cove.
Part of the Harbor at Peggy’s Cove.
The lighthouse at Peggy's Cove.
The lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove.
Granite field at Peggy's Cove.
Granite field at Peggy’s Cove.

I stopped at a farm stand somewhere between Peggy’s Cove and Halifax, and ate fish and chips from a food truck parked nearby. I bought blueberries and a cherry bar (a bar cookie) at the farm stand to round things out. Wow, those blueberries are good (I ate about a third of them, and put the rest in my cooler).

And so on to Halifax, where I’d called last night to make a reservation at the local hostel, so that I didn’t arrive there only to discover they were full up. It’s right downtown, within walking distance of everything I want to see in Halifax, which is great. I will be staying here two nights in order to see everything I want to see here.

The Old Burying Ground in Halifax, just down the street from the hostel.  They *stopped* burying people here in the 1840s.
The Old Burying Ground in Halifax, just down the street from the hostel. They *stopped* burying people here in the 1840s.
A statue of Winston Churchill in front of the Halifax Public Library, which I passed while walking to the public gardens.
A statue of Winston Churchill in front of the Halifax Public Library, which I passed while walking to the public gardens.

The first of which was the Public Gardens, which are about six blocks from the hostel. They’re supposedly the best example of Victorian show gardens in North America, and I’m willing to agree with that [g]. Lots of bright flowers in patterned plantings, a fancy gazebo where they sometimes have band concerts, several statues, and broad lawns dotted with huge trees. Fortunately, the air had quit being quite so soaking wet by the time I arrived in Halifax, so I didn’t get drowned wandering through them.

The entrance to the public gardens.
The entrance to the public gardens.
Gazebo/bandstand and flower beds at the public gardens.
Gazebo/bandstand and flower beds at the public gardens.
A statue of the Roman goddess Ceres at the public gardens.
A statue of the Roman goddess Ceres at the public gardens.
The facade of the municipal/court building in Halifax.
The facade of the municipal/court building in Halifax, taken on my way back to the hostel.

I haven’t been sleeping well for the last couple of nights, so I suspect I’ll be going to bed fairly early tonight. Wish me luck for a good night’s sleep!

Mirrored from M.M. Justus -- adventures in the supernatural Old West.

mmegaera: (Much Ado in Montana)

Today started out as misty moisty and cloudy was the weather. Also in the upper 60sdF, topping out in the low 70s, which was wonderful. Wisps of fog, too, which were beautiful.

This morning I bopped back and forth between stretches of what passes for freeway in southern Nova Scotia (one lane in each direction, but with onramps and offramps and the occasional passing lane), and the coast road. The coast road is also a two lane, but it also adds more than twice as many miles to the same point-to-point, so I didn’t want to drive it the whole way. I passed through Yarmouth, where I stopped to pick up a few groceries, and my next stop was one of those serendipitous things that make me so happy.

Cape St. Mary lighthouse, between Digby and Yarmouth.
Cape St. Mary lighthouse, between Digby and Yarmouth.
The beach below the Cape St. Mary lighthouse.
The beach below the Cape St. Mary lighthouse.

I saw a sign for an Acadian historic village, so I followed it. What it turned out to be was a living history village of buildings preserved in the oldest continuously occupied Acadian village in Canada (the inhabitants came back after twelve years of exile, and, finding their old lands otherwise occupied, settled in the Pubnicos (there are several of them, ranging from Upper Pubnico to Lower Middle Pubnico and so forth)). It was interesting, and there were some beautiful quilts and other handicrafts, but the amazing thing was that all of the interpreters/docents/re-enactors I spoke with (and even the cashier) were descended from the families who had originally inhabited the buildings for centuries. It was amazing. “My great-grandfather was the last person to live in this house before it became part of the museum.” Stuff like that. For someone who grew up in four major metropolitan areas, it’s sort of mind-boggling. One of my fellow visitors pointed out someone in a photograph in on of the buildings and told her friend that this was her grandfather when he was seventeen, too. Amazing.

Looking down at the water from the Acadian village.
Looking down at the water from the Acadian village.
One of the houses at the Acadian village.
One of the houses at the Acadian village.
A wool quilt, which looked like one my mother has described to me from her childhood.
A wool quilt, which looked like one my mother has described to me from her childhood.
A very fancy baby carriage at the Acadian village.
A very fancy baby carriage at the Acadian village.
Notice anything unusual about this clock?  It has the days of the month as well as the time of the day.
Notice anything unusual about this clock? It has the days of the month as well as the time of the day.
That round thing is a butter churn, and the woman is one of the interpreters -- and a descendant of the people who originally lived in the house.
That round thing is a butter churn, and the woman is one of the interpreters — and a descendant of the people who originally lived in the house.
Dried cod, anyone?
Dried cod, anyone?
Low tide at the Acadian village.
Low tide at the Acadian village.

That wasn’t the only time I had that happen today, either. After I left the Acadian village, I drove out to the very southern tip of Nova Scotia, The Hawk on Cape Sable Island. I’m not sure why I did it, but I’m glad I did. The views were amazing, out over the Atlantic, and I struck up a conversation with an older gentleman who was sitting on a lobster trap [g]. He told me about how he’d grown up there, like his parents and grandparents and so forth, but that his son had followed his job to Alberta, and was home for a couple of weeks with his own son, the next generation. The gentleman was concerned that the baby would not remember Cape Sable. Then he asked me what my last name was. I told him, and he told me his last name was Atwood. Driving back to the main highway, I saw at least half a dozen Atwood references – street names and so forth.

The beach at The Hawk at the tip of Cape Sable Island.
The beach at The Hawk at the tip of Cape Sable Island.
The tallest lighthouse in Canada, at the tip of Cape Sable Island.  It's undergoing some restoration work, hence the scaffolding.
The tallest lighthouse in Canada, at the tip of Cape Sable Island. It’s undergoing some restoration work, hence the scaffolding.

What it must be like to have roots like that is completely beyond me.

The rest of the afternoon was spent driving northeast towards Halifax, searching for a campground. I finally found one, and went to sleep listening to the rain fall on Merlin’s roof. It was a very pleasant sound.

Mirrored from M.M. Justus -- adventures in the supernatural Old West.

mmegaera: (Much Ado in Montana)

Today was a very full day, even though I drove less than 100 miles for the entire day. I started my day at Grand Pré, which means Great Meadow in English. It’s one of the first sites of the expulsion of the Acadians, back in the mid-18th century. It’s a UN World Heritage Site as well as a National Historic Site, and the museum there tells the story of the Acadians.

Before today, my entire knowledge of the Acadians is that a bunch of them wound up in Louisiana and became the Cajuns. Now I know a lot more of the story, and it was moving and sad. I’m not sure what all to say about it without putting my foot into it, except that I kept thinking about what’s going on with the Syrians today.

The other two things were that I’d had no idea that the Acadians reclaimed lands from the Bay of Fundy in similar ways that the Dutch have in their country. It was fascinating to learn about how they’d done it over a period of over a hundred years, and so long ago. And then there was the Longfellow/Evangeline connection – yes, she was fictional, but apparently his poem brought a lot of attention to what had happened to the Acadians, and so she’s become something of a cultural symbol.

The gardens surrounding the memorial church, etc., were lovely, too.

Anyway, I learned a lot at Grand Pré, some of which I was not expecting to learn.

The Evangeline statue and the memorial church at Grand Pre.
The Evangeline statue and the memorial church at Grand Pre.
Part of the gardens at Grand Pre.
Part of the gardens at Grand Pre.
The Longfellow bust at Grand Pre.
The Longfellow bust at Grand Pre.
Looking out over the polders/reclaimed land at Grand Pre, complete with the two red Adirondack chairs that seem to exist at every viewpoint in the Canadian national parks.
Looking out over the polders/reclaimed land at Grand Pre, complete with the two red Adirondack chairs that seem to exist at every viewpoint in the Canadian national parks.  ETA:  I am informed that in Canada, those chairs are called Muskoka chairs.
A view back from the lookout towards the memorial church at Grand Pre.
A view back from the lookout towards the memorial church at Grand Pre.

And so it was on to Annapolis Royal.

I drove past this today, something else I'd never known about before.
I drove past this today, something else I’d never known about before.

Annapolis Royal is about fifty more miles down the road, where I visited two National Historic Sites, Port Royal, which was supposed to be a living history site about a French fort, but which, according to a fellow visitor who went on about it for quite a while, was no longer what it was because Stephen Harper had eviscerated the National Parks. The site was still there, but the re-enactors are apparently no more. It was still really interesting, though.

The reconstructed fort at Port Royal.
The reconstructed fort at Port Royal.
Inside Port Royal, which was sort of the Canadian French version of Old Bent's Fort.
Inside Port Royal, which was sort of the Canadian French version of Bent’s Old Fort.
Those window panes are made of animal hide.
Those window panes are made of animal hide.
My first turned leaves of the trip. Holy cow.
My first turned leaves of the trip. Holy cow.

Then there were the historic gardens in Annapolis Royal, which were really lovely. No Longwood, granted, but then I expect not many gardens could stand up to Longwood. These were smaller, and have been there since the 1930s, and were absolutely filled with glorious flowers.

The perennial borders at the Historic Gardens.
The perennial borders at the Historic Gardens.
Unlabeled (I wish I knew what variety these were!) lilies at the Historic Gardens.
Unlabeled (I wish I knew what variety these were!) oriental lilies at the Historic Gardens.
A reconstructed Acadian house at the Historic Gardens.
A reconstructed Acadian house at the Historic Gardens.

My last stop of the day was at Fort Anne, right on the river in Annapolis Royal. It’s the oldest National Historic Site in Canada (so now I’ve visited their first national park, Banff, last summer, and their first national historic site today), but what struck me as funny was that they were refurbishing the officers’ quarters/museum in the fort, and at the moment it’s all covered with modern-day waterproofing plastic film.

The tyvek-wrapped officers' quarters at Fort Anne.
The tyvek-wrapped officers’ quarters at Fort Anne.
The powder magazine at Fort Anne, built in 1708 and the only entirely original building at the fort.
The powder magazine at Fort Anne, built in 1708 and the only entirely original building at the fort.
The view from Fort Anne, down the Annapolis River.
The view from Fort Anne, down the Annapolis River.

Fort Anne is a classic on-the-waterfront star fort, just like Fort McHenry in Baltimore, although it’s considerably older and there aren’t as many buildings. The redoubts definitely looked familiar, though. The museum had an absolutely gorgeous needlepoint tapestry inside. I never did find a date when it was done, but apparently it’s fairly recent. It’s spectacular, too.

Half of the dropdead gorgeous needlepoint tapestry at Fort Anne.
Half of the dropdead gorgeous needlepoint tapestry at Fort Anne.

By the time I left Fort Anne, I was pretty tired, so I drove the last 25 miles down to Digby, where I’m ensconced in a very nice hostel, with wifi and showers. I will continue on around the coast tomorrow, and probably wind up in Halifax in two or three days.

I can’t believe it’s been eleven weeks today since I left home. Criminy.

Mirrored from M.M. Justus -- adventures in the supernatural Old West.

mmegaera: (Much Ado in Montana)
What a name.  It's on the northern shore of Nova Scotia.
What a name. It’s on the northern shore of Nova Scotia.  And no, I didn’t notice the historical site part of the sign until I was looking at my photos this evening.  Oh, well.

I drove past a lot of mudflats today [wry g]. But first, I needed to come back down from the northern shore (not all that far from the Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island, which I am sorta saving for last before I start heading west for good – and I can’t believe I just wrote that) to the town of Truro, where two things happened. One, I stopped at a Tim Horton’s for hot tea (I miss being able to buy unsweet iced tea at McD’s so much — Canadian McDs only do sweet tea, blast them), and burned my tongue on it so badly I ended up putting ice from my cooler in it to make it drinkable. And two, when I started Merlin back up after getting the tea, one of his dashboard lights came on.

The stupid manual didn’t explain what it was, and it took me a few minutes to figure out that it was simply a reminder thingy. The thing was, it was trying to remind me that Merlin needed an oil change, except that he’d just had one yesterday. So I drove on into Truro, found a Ford dealer, and threw myself on the mercy of a young man who just happened to be walking out of the service department (he did have a Ford service uniform on). He said, oh, the place you had it changed must not have known to adjust the reminder thing after they changed the oil, and then less than three minutes later, he’d done it. I didn’t know Merlin had a reminder thing, because apparently it comes on at 5200 miles post the previous oil change or something. At any rate, he didn’t charge me, and I was on my way.

I missed my turn once I got back on the freeway, too, and ended up taking a slightly different route back over to the Bay of Fundy. Which turned out to be a cool thing, because I drove by a tidal bore interpretive center that I would have missed otherwise. The tide being completely out, I didn’t get to see the actual bore, which is supposed to be the biggest one in the world, something like nine times as tall as the average man, but the exhibits were very interesting, especially the one about a storm a century or so ago that combined with high tide and basically wiped a lot of the communities along the bore off the map. The exhibit panel was titled, “why is there an ocean in my living room?”

The bridge over the tidal bore at the place I apparently didn't make a note of, sorry!
The bridge over the tidal bore at the place the name of which I apparently didn’t make a note of, sorry!
This is apparently what one does at the highest tidal bore in the world.  It's called mudsliding.  This photo is from the interpretive center there.
This is apparently what one does during low tide at the highest tidal bore in the world. It’s called mudsliding. This photo is from the interpretive center there.

Once I got to the actual bay again, the tide was still really low, and that far up into the bay, you could actually walk clear across it from Nova Scotia to New Brunswick (or the reverse), if you could walk the whole distance in less than four hours. Which, of course, is impossible. But it’s so weird.

Looking out over the mud flats of the Bay of Fundy.
Looking out over the mud flats of the Bay of Fundy to New Brunswick.

This was the view from the first lighthouse, which I apparently didn't get a photo of [smacks head a la V-8].
This was the view from the first lighthouse, which I apparently didn’t get a photo of [smacks head a la V-8].
I saw two lighthouses along the way. One, at Burntcoat (a weird name, but apparently a corruption of something French), was a reproduction and not a functioning lighthouse, but the second one, at Petit Riviere, still had its Fresnel lens, which was very cool. The ladders/staircases to get up into the lens room of the second lighthouse were built for people with considerably longer legs than mine, though. Other than that, and the glimpses of the wide mudflats that are the Bay of Fundy at low tide, the scenery was bucolic and hilly, and the road was a bit rollercoastery, which was fun.

The second lighthouse of the day.
The second lighthouse of the day.
And the view from the lawn around it.
And the view from the lawn around it.  The flowers are just thistles.
And its sweet little Fresnel lens.  Are you tired of photos of Fresnel lenses yet?
And its sweet little Fresnel lens. Are you tired of photos of Fresnel lenses yet?

I arrived in the town of Windsor about 3:30, and decided to stop because a) there was an inexpensive campground on what I think is the county fairgrounds (it’s called the exposition grounds) and b) there was a laundromat nearby. The last time I did laundry was about ten days ago, on Cape Cod, and things were getting kind of desperate [wry g]. Anyway, I now have clean clothes again. Important details, as my ex used to say.

Since I’d picnicked at lunch, I ate dinner out tonight, pan-fried flounder, a baked potato, and mashed turnips and carrots mixed together, all of which was very tasty (I’d never actually had turnips before). Oh, and caramel ice cream for dessert.

Then I made a reservation at a hostel in Digby, about 100 miles down the coast, for tomorrow night, because it’ll be Friday in high season and I was a bit worried about them having room for me. On the way tomorrow is Annapolis Royal, and a whole bunch of history about a time and place I know very little about. I can’t wait.

Mirrored from M.M. Justus -- adventures in the supernatural Old West.

mmegaera: (Much Ado in Montana)

The sticky bun wasn’t as good as I’d thought it was going to be, but that’s okay. Today wasn’t a stellar day for food all around, alas.

However. I saw some really unusual scenery, and that part was great. After I left Alma this morning, I continued north on the coast road until I reached the turn-off for Cape Enrage, which has got to be one of the more unusual place names I’ve run across (says the woman from Puyallup [g]). It’s apparently got to do with the area’s French heritage, although why the French were so angry there still escapes me.

Anyway, it’s a very winding, very narrow road (when I was coming out, I saw a motorhome coming in, and I did wonder how they managed some of the “I’m going to rear-end myself” turns, or if they had to turn around, and wouldn’t that have been fun). The road led to a very windy bluff overlooking the Bay of Fundy, and, as the tide was headed out this morning, I got to see quite a bit more land than I would have otherwise. When the tide goes out here, it goes OUT. There’s also an adorable little lighthouse (no Fresnel lens, alas), and a gift shop, and a zip line, and a few other attractions, all for the grand price of $6 Canadian (about $4.50 U.S. given the current exchange rate, which is one of the reasons I could afford this part of the trip to begin with). No, I did not ride the zip line. I have no desire whatsoever to ride a zip line, let alone one that runs over a rather steep cliff.

A beach on the road to Cape Enrage.  See the high tide marks on the cliffs?
A beach on the road to Cape Enrage. See the high tide marks on the cliffs?
The lighthouse at Cape Enrage.
The lighthouse at Cape Enrage.
From the deck at Cape Enrage.
From the deck at Cape Enrage.
And another view from Cape Enrage.
And another view from Cape Enrage.
Fireweed!  Just like at home.
Fireweed! Just like at home.
They've been taunting me with these signs ever since Maine -- and I have yet to see a single moose!
They’ve been taunting me with these signs ever since Maine — and I have yet to see a single moose.

A few more miles farther down (or up, I guess, since I was headed northeast) the road, I came to what looked to my skeptical eyes like another Trees of Mystery (my standard for tacky roadside attractions). But I’d seen pictures of what they were showing off here, and I wanted to see it, whether it was as hokey as the admission gate and gift shop made it look, or as magnificent as the photos of it I’d seen. The reality was closer to magnificent than tacky, I have to say. The Hopewell Rocks are the famous “flower pot” rocks of the Bay of Fundy, and I do mean famous – I’d heard of them even over on the west coast before I left home.

I was lucky – the tide was just before its ebb, so I could actually see them. Apparently they’re almost completely covered with water at high tide, which is pretty impressive when you get a good look at them. They’re huge, as you’ll see in the photos (lots of people for scale – the place was seriously busy). Anyway, you walk down a ½ km trail to a series of metal staircases that lead you down to what’s billed as the ocean floor [g], and you can actually walk around among the huge formations. It’s really pretty impressive, if a bit hard on your shoes. I had to wipe mud off of mine when I got back up – there’s a setup at the top of the stairs made for it, complete with water sprayers and boot scrapers.

The Hopewell Rocks at low tide.
The Hopewell Rocks at low tide.
And more of them.  They are so odd-looking.
And more of them. They are so odd-looking.  Oh, and that gray stuff is seaweed.
The metal stairs going down to the "ocean floor" where you can stroll among the flowerpot rocks.
The metal stairs going down to the “ocean floor” where you can stroll among the flowerpot rocks.
A view of the "ocean floor" at Hopewell Rocks.
A view of the “ocean floor” at Hopewell Rocks.

I’m glad I went to see them, and I’m really glad I landed there at low tide so I could see them.

After that, I drove on up towards Moncton. I found a really awful hamburger along the way (there wasn’t a whole lot of choice, I was hungry, and I didn’t feel like picnicking), then filled Merlin’s tank once I got to Moncton, for the first time since I crossed the border. The gas station did not have pay at the pump, which was weird. And gas cost me about $5 U.S. more than the same amount (about 8 gallons) would have south of the border, once I did the calculations from liter to gallon, and factored in the exchange rate, so it isn’t bad, all in all. The lady where I went to pay was very helpful when I asked her about where I could take Merlin to get his oil changed, and even produced a city map and marked my route to the place on it for me. The fellow at the oil change place also took the map and marked my route to the highway on it for me. Nice people!

And so I drove on east to Nova Scotia, and stopped at the welcome center to ask about campgrounds. The upshot of that is that I’m in a very nice provincial park campground a bit north of the town of Amherst, not far from the northern shore, in a lovely quiet wooded site. It’s windy as heck, but the trees seem to be keeping the worst of it above me. Very pleasant, and there are showers, too!

Self-evident [g].
Self-evident [g].
There are almost as many Baptist churches in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia as there are in Texas, but they're much bigger and older and fancier here.  This one's in the town of Amherst, NS.
There are almost as many Baptist churches in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia as there are in Texas, but they’re much bigger and older and fancier here. This one’s in the town of Amherst, NS.

Mirrored from M.M. Justus -- adventures in the supernatural Old West.

mmegaera: (Much Ado in Montana)

I finally crossed the border from Calais, Maine, to St. Stephen, New Brunswick, early this morning. No problems, even when I told the nice gentleman manning the station that I planned on being in Canada for a couple of months [g]. He just told me to have a good time and waved me on.

Success, success, I did it, I did it!  I finally made it to Canada.
Success, success, I did it, I did it! I finally made it to Canada.

I stopped at an ATM and got myself some usable money, then headed north on Highway 1 towards then through St. John, on my way to Fundy National Park. No, not that kind of fundie, but the Bay of Fundy. Anyway, it’s one of those places I’ve always sorta wanted to see, and the park seemed like a good place to do it.

I saw another one of those weird UFO thingys again today.  About 1 pm local time (I'm now *four* hours ahead of home) at Fundy NP.
I saw another one of those weird UFO thingys again today. About 1 pm local time (I’m now *four* hours ahead of home) at Fundy NP.

I got here about lunch time and found a little bakery in the hamlet of Alma, just outside of the park, to eat lunch. I may have to go back there in the morning for a sticky bun for breakfast, though, because they looked delicious. I then went looking for a room for the night, even though it was so early, because a) it’s a third night, and b) I wanted to spend the rest of the day in the park. I found one here in town, next door to the bakery, actually [g].

Then I went exploring. I like Fundy National Park. It was low tide when I got here, and all the fishing boats at Alma’s harbor were kind of tilted on their sides in the mud. But I went walking in the park, to see a waterfall (which a lady on the trail described as stunning, but well, I think that was overstating it pretty hard – it was a cute little fall, though, even though I couldn’t get a decent photo of it), and to get some views of the bay with the water surging in. It was a great way to spend the afternoon. But when I got back to Alma just now? The boats in the harbor were afloat! That tide really is pretty impressive, actually, which I suppose it should be given that it’s the greatest tidal change in the world or something.

The motel is right on the water, and they have a bunch of Adirondack chairs overlooking the bay, and I think I’m going to spend an hour or so out there this evening. It looks like a great place to watch the stars.

But I’m going to have to get my jacket out. Believe it or not, the high here today was in the low seventies (F)! With a breeze! It’s so wonderful. It truly is.

A view of the bay.
A view of the bay.
Bunchberry berries.  They're a kind of dogwood that's a ground cover as opposed to a tree.  I saw these blooming in the Canadian Rockies last summer.
Bunchberry berries. They’re a kind of dogwood that’s a ground cover as opposed to a tree. I saw these blooming in the Canadian Rockies last summer.
A replica covered bridge (built 1992 to replace one built in 1910) near Wolfe Point in Fundy NP.
A replica covered bridge (built 1992 to replace one built in 1910) near Wolfe Point in Fundy NP.
The Bay of Fundy from Herring Cove, Fundy NP.
The Bay of Fundy from Herring Cove, Fundy NP.
And another view of the bay from the same place.
And another view of the bay from the same place.

Mirrored from M.M. Justus -- adventures in the supernatural Old West.

mmegaera: (Much Ado in Montana)

Anyway. Today I drove up the Maine coast, through a lot of very northern-looking forest. Much more northern than it should have looked, given that I passed the 45th parallel today (second time on this trip), which also runs through Oregon not all that far south of Portland. I also passed through the town of Machias (pronounced MaCHIus (the ch as in church and a long I), which had the only iced tea dispenser I saw today [g].

Then I went to the easternmost point of the United States, which, logic aside, is called West Quoddy Head (East Quoddy Head is in Canada). Quoddy, I’m told, is short for Passamaquoddy, which is the name of the local Indian tribe. It has an adorable little lighthouse with an intact third order Fresnel lens. There’s also a gift shop about half a mile back down the road that claims to be the easternmost gift shop in the U.S. I bought another magnet and a little cross-stitch pattern there. They had items made from some nifty quilt fabric there, but they weren’t selling the fabric itself, alas. I’d have loved the fabric with the puffins on it.

It wasn't until I saw people out picking them that I realized these are blueberry plants.
It wasn’t until I saw people out picking them that I realized these are blueberry plants.
West Quoddy Head lighthouse, Lubec, Maine.
West Quoddy Head lighthouse, Lubec, Maine.
The beautiful 3rd order Fresnel lens at West Quoddy Head.
The beautiful 3rd order Fresnel lens at West Quoddy Head.
The stone says that this is the easternmost point in the United States.  Which sounds impressive until you look at a map and see how much further east Canada goes.
The stone says that this is the easternmost point in the United States. Which sounds impressive until you look at a map and see how much further east Canada goes.
Looking out over the ocean at West Quoddy Head.
Looking out over the ocean at West Quoddy Head.

The countryside around West Quoddy Head made me homesick, though. Except for the lack of mountains and the fact that the ocean’s in the wrong direction, it looks so much like the Olympic Peninsula (esp. around Aberdeen and Forks) that it forcibly reminded me of home. I don’t normally do homesick, but it got to me, just a little.

Then I went to Canada, at least for the afternoon. Campobello Island is sort of the Point Roberts of Maine, in that it, like Point Roberts, Washington, is only accessible by going into another country. The reason I wanted to go there was that it was where FDR’s summer home was. They have a nice museum, and the cottage (not nearly as much a misnomer as calling The Breakers a cottage was, but it was still a pretty good-sized cottage) is open for visitors. It’s a lovely place, and there were flowers planted everywhere (that seems to be a Canadian thing, to plant flowers at their historic sites and in their national parks).

Flowerbeds at FDR's cottage at Campobello, with the cottage itself in the background.
Flowerbeds at FDR’s cottage at Campobello, with the cottage itself in the background.
Inside the cottage.
Inside the cottage.

Apparently honey locust blossoms make bees drunk [g].
Apparently honey locust blossoms make bees drunk [g].
I also drove out to the end of the road on Campobello because there’s a lighthouse out there, but it was high tide (Campobello’s at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy) and the lighthouse is only accessible at low tide. It was rather disconcerting to see the two metal staircases, one going down from where I was standing, and the other on the island with the lighthouse, leading down into the rushing water.

The stairs going down to where you can cross to the lighthouse at the tip of Campobello Island -- when the tide is low.
The stairs going down to where you can cross to the lighthouse at the tip of Campobello Island — when the tide is low.
The lighthouse at the tip of Campobello Island.
The lighthouse at the tip of Campobello Island.

After crossing back into the U.S. I headed towards the town of Calais (no, not pronounced the French way – CAL-iss – Cal as in California — is the local pronunciation, at least as I heard it on the radio).

But on the way I saw a sign for the St. Croix Island National Historic Site. It wasn’t on my map, and it was a tiny place, just a visitor center and a three-hundred-foot trail leading down to a view of the water across to the island itself. But it commemorated a settlement that was even older than Jamestown by three years, when Samuel de Champlain and company landed on that island to create a settlement and claim the land for the king of France. As the very enthusiastic ranger lady in the visitor center said, the French part of our history tends to get ignored here in the States. The fact that the settlement only lasted one winter (a very bad choice of location, mostly) before they moved it up into what later became Canada may have had something to do with it, too. But still.

A closeup of one of the bronze statues at St. Croix Island NHS.
A closeup of one of the bronze statues at St. Croix Island NHS.
One of the statues at St. Croix Island, NHS.
One of the statues at St. Croix Island, NHS.
A model of the settlement at St. Croix Island.
A model of the settlement at St. Croix Island.
Looking out towards the island itself.  It's the sand bar-y looking thing, not the big piece of land behind it.
Looking out towards the island itself. It’s the sand bar-y looking thing at the center of the photo, not the big piece of land behind it.
And the back of another of the statues.
And the back of another of the statues.

I think it was the statues along the trail that enthralled me, though. Well, that and the whole concept of forgotten history. But I was almost afraid to touch the statues, because I swear it seemed like they would come alive. Which would have been equally scary and thrilling, I think [g].

Anyway, I need to read more about this, and I got several good suggestions from the ranger, which was good.

Then I drove on to Calais, where I spent the night just across the St. John River from Canada!

Mirrored from M.M. Justus -- adventures in the supernatural Old West.

mmegaera: (Much Ado in Montana)

I had to make a list to get an accurate number for that second one [g].

The night of the fifth I saw a very strange thing from the LL Bean RV lot. The photo I managed to get of it makes it look more like a cloud, but I swear it looked more like a meteor or a comet when I first saw it, and its movement was visible to the naked eye. Very strange.

That odd thing in the sky.
That odd thing in the sky.

I didn’t take much in the way of photos on the sixth, which is why I’m combining the two days. AAMOF, the only photo I took on the sixth was of the Maine state capitol building in Augusta, and that’s just because it was next door to the Maine Museum. It was about an hour’s drive up from Freeport to Augusta, and I spent the morning and early afternoon in the museum before I decided to stop there for the rest of the day. I got a motel room and caught up on stuff, and read, and that sort of thing for the rest of the day.

The Maine state capitol building.
The Maine state capitol building.

The museum was great, but I wasn’t allowed to take photos, unfortunately. It covered things by topic rather than chronologically – economic, social, political, and natural history and archaeology, for the most part. The museum itself was older, like the Kentucky state museum was, but it was done very well, and they had a huge collection of artifacts. I particularly loved the working waterwheel that made the little sawmill go.

A view from the Penobscot Bay Bridge.
A view from the Penobscot Bay Bridge.
The bridge itself, which was odd in that it had the tall supporting structure between the lanes, instead of on the outside of them.
The bridge itself, which was odd in that it had the tall supporting structure between the lanes, instead of on the outside of them.

This morning I got up and out pretty early for having spent the night in a motel, and headed for Acadia National Park. I’ve been to Acadia before, on my 1997 flying-into-Boston trip. Also, I was pretty sure it was going to be crowded on a sunny August Sunday, and I was right, unfortunately.

That said, I still had fun. Like Yosemite and Zion, Acadia now has shuttle busses (sponsored by LL Bean [g]), which are free, and that made getting around much easier. I parked Merlin in the visitor center parking lot, and rode the bus to Bar Harbor’s village green, where I ate a lobster roll for lunch. You can’t go to Maine without eating at least one lobster roll (unless you’re allergic to lobster like my friend Loralee). I’m pretty sure they’ll ticket you at the very least if you try. A lobster roll is lobster chunks dressed in a little mayonnaise, tucked into a toasted hot dog bun. Yum.

Flower bed at the Bar Harbor village green.
Flower bed at the Bar Harbor village green.

Then I got on another shuttle and rode around the main loop in the park, getting off and back on here and there. My first stop was at Sieur le Monts, where volunteers maintain a wonderful native plant garden. One of the volunteers, a young man in a kilt, with a braid, and a very complicated molecule diagram tattooed on one arm, told me the names of several plants I did not recognize, so now I know what their friends call them.

Harebells.  I associate these with late summer at Yellowstone and Mt. Rainier.  It can't be late summer yet, though, can it?
Harebells. I associate these with late summer at Yellowstone and Mt. Rainier. It can’t be late summer yet, though, can it?
Hobble-bush, according to the nice young man at the Wild Garden.  It's a kind of viburnum.
Hobble-bush, according to the nice young man at the Wild Garden. It’s a kind of viburnum.

My next stop was Thunder Hole. Unfortunately it was low tide, so I didn’t get to hear it actually thunder the way I did the last time I was here, but it was still cool. Basically, what happens is that the waves get forced into this narrow slot in the rock and splash way up high, making this loud booming sound. I took some video of it, just for kicks.  One of these days I’ll learn how to upload it — I have the software now, just not the time.

Thunder Hole at low tide.
Thunder Hole at low tide.
And another view.
And another view.

After that, it was getting on in the afternoon, plus the busses were getting crowded, so I decided to go on back to the visitor center, because the one place the busses don’t go is Cadillac Mountain.

Cadillac Mountain is in no way, shape, or form an actual mountain (it’s only 1500 feet high), but it’s the highest point on the U.S. eastern seaboard, and you can see pretty much all the way to the curvature of the earth from the top. I drove up to the summit, and was actually lucky enough to find a parking place, so I walked the half-mile trail around the summit and took lots and lots and lots of photos [g].

From Cadillac Mountain.
From Cadillac Mountain.
And another view from Cadillac Mountain.
And another view from Cadillac Mountain.
Looking down on Bar Harbor.
Looking down on Bar Harbor.
And a glacial erratic on top of the "mountain."
And a glacial erratic on top of the “mountain.”

If it hadn’t been so crowded, I probably would have stayed at Acadia for a couple of days, but it was really, really crowded, and campgrounds were problematic, too, so I decided to go on.

I’m camped about 40 miles north of Acadia, in a county park in the woods on a point sticking out into Narraguagus Bay. Anyway, it’s beautiful here, even if the mosquitoes are about to carry me off.

Tomorrow will be my last day in the States until I’m almost back to Washington. Here goes…

Mirrored from M.M. Justus -- adventures in the supernatural Old West.

mmegaera: (Much Ado in Montana)

Which was an interesting juxtaposition…

Anyway. I started my morning by navigating the c/o/w/p/a/t/h/s/narrow, winding, one-way streets of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, trying to find Strawbery Banke. I did, after less travail than I expected, and actually arrived before they opened (I tend to get up with the sun and go to bed with the sun when I’m camping).

Strawbery Banke is another living history site, but this one’s different. Instead of concentrating on one era the way Williamsburg and Mystic Seaport did, it covers almost all of the almost four hundred years Portsmouth (whose original name was Strawbery Banke) has been a community, concentrating on the old neighborhood of Puddle Dock, on which the modern Strawbery Banke now sits. So, from the mid-1600s to the 1950s.

Each building, from the oldest one, built in the early 1700s, to one that had most recently been remodeled just after WWII, represented a different time period and a different level of wealth and social class. And there were gardens! No one (ahem, Beth!) told me there would be gardens! Everything from a Victorian greenhouse and bedding garden to another adorable Colonial dooryard garden to an herb garden. There were stores and craftspeople, too. I got to try my hand at a loom, which was fun, and wander into a WWII-era grocery store, complete with ration points as well as the price marked on each item.

Victorian bedding garden with a greenhouse in the background.
Victorian bedding garden with a greenhouse in the background.
The parlor of the Victorian house that went with the garden. A future governor of Maine lived here.
The parlor of the Victorian house that went with the garden. A future governor of Maine lived here.
Elderberries. Wine, anyone?
Elderberries. Wine, anyone?
This wallpaper looks like it was inspired by a kaliedoscope.
This wallpaper looks like it was inspired by a kaliedoscope.
I covet this bed. Also, I really want some quilt fabric that looks like that bed curtain fabric (sorry, Loralee [g]).
I covet this bed. Also, I really want some quilt fabric that looks like that bed curtain fabric (sorry, Loralee [g]).
Another gorgeous cottage garden. I want a garden like that so badly...
Another gorgeous cottage garden. I want a garden like that so badly…
Mrs. Shapiro, a Jewish lady from 19190, talking with some visitors.
Mrs. Shapiro, a Jewish lady from 1910, talking with some visitors.
A shipping jar from 1700-1750. The rope netting is to help minimize breakage.
A shipping jar from 1700-1750. The rope netting is to help minimize breakage.
Food for sale in the WWII era grocery store. Note that Campbell's soup hasn't changed a bit, that Aunt Jemima is seriously politically incorrect, and the ration point numbers next to the prices. Also, my mother had some spice containers that could have been about that vintage.
Food for sale in the WWII era grocery store. Note that Campbell’s soup hasn’t changed a bit, that Aunt Jemima is seriously politically incorrect, and the ration point numbers next to the prices. Also, my mother had some spice containers that could have been about that vintage.
The WWII era Victory Garden, complete with chickens in the coop.
The WWII era Victory Garden, complete with chickens in the coop.
One of the houses was set up so that you could see what it looked like before and during restoration, which was quite amazing.
One of the houses was set up so that you could see what it looked like before and during restoration, which was quite amazing.

I spent a good chunk of the day there, and had a wonderful time.

Then I drove on north on I-95, because it was getting late and I wanted to get to my stop for the night – plus I’ve been to this part of Maine before, and I want to spend most of my time that I’ll be on the coast northeast of Acadia since I’ve never been to that part of the state before.

My destination for the night was Freeport, which is basically a factory outlet town surrounding the original LL Bean store. Not that I’m a huge fan of factory outlets, but LL Bean has a free overnight parking area for RVers (which I count as, since I don’t pitch a tent or anything). It was nice and shady and cool(!), and I ended up parked across from someone from the Tri-Cities (southeastern Washington) of all places, which was kind of hilarious.

So that’s where I am tonight. Tomorrow I’m going to Augusta, the state capitol, to visit the Maine State Museum, and then it’s on to Acadia National Park and Down East to Canada (yes, that’s the local turn of phrase, and no, that doesn’t sound right to me, either).

Starting to worry about Canada, for some reason, not sure why. It’s not like I haven’t crossed the border before. But I’ll never have spent that much time there before, either. And Quebec’s got me just a tad freaked out because of the language thing, too. Oh, well. ‘S good for me. Builds character.

Mirrored from M.M. Justus -- adventures in the supernatural Old West.

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