We went to Edmonton along with Debbie and Ernie’s family to celebrate Becky’s birthday. She decided that was a good time to end months of bedrest. The baby should be big enough and would probably be born in under a week if the other four kids are any guide. Then we left for Nova Scotia on a redeye flight at five minutes to midnight, changing planes in Toronto and arriving in Halifax at ten in the morning. All rested and ready for a day’s driving and sight seeing. We crammed two weeks of sightseeing into seven days. We had a detailed plan which, of course, got modified as we progressed. I’ll write about the rest of the month first and the as-built trip will be covered below.
Odelia Rayna Srochenski
At 12:03 am on October 10th, while we were helpfully far away on Prince Edward Island, Becky delivered of a girl, Odelia Rayna Srochenski, measuring 18 inches long and weighing 5 pounds 7 ounces. A couple of days later she came home with her parents and four siblings. About a week later she went back in the hospital briefly but was soon out again, tiny but healthy.
At the end of the month we travelled to Edmonton and celebrated Eliana’s sixth birthday on the Saturday. We went and watched Ezekial’s basketball game in the morning, had lunch in the same complex and then moved to the other end of the complex. There we met up with a number of invitees to Eliana’s birthday party and sat with their parents and watched them tumble around and do other such gymnastic things in a large gymnastics studio. Afterward we all went to Nick and Becky’s for cake, ice cream and opening presents followed by an evening meal for many of the celebrants.
There was a heavy snow storm in Edmonton and between Meadow Lake and Edmonton on the weekend so we waited an extra day for the highways to be cleared before coming home. Back home there had been minimal snow.
Ash & Cinder
Just before our youngest granddaughter arrived in the world, our eldest granddaughter presented the world with her first book, a novel, called Ash & Cinder by Maia Re Kyron. As a totally unbiased but skeptical reader I quite enjoyed the book. It has interesting characters and a strong story line. Kudos to Sonja for her effort in writing and persistence in completing and publishing this book. We are so proud of her.
I spent an interesting day being one of the scrutineers at one of the local polling places. One of my duties was to take the results of the voting for each hour for each poll and enter in a code for each voter that had voted so far. The GOTV (Get Out The Vote) app on my phone updated the main data base back at the campaign office and gave them a heads-up if any known supporters had not yet voted. Once the votes were done for the day, I dropped the tally sheets off at the campaign office, where everyone was hunched over laptops checking results. Our candidate won.
Fall Foliage Tour
Saturday, October 5
Leave Edmonton for Halifax by way of Toronto
Sunday, October 6
Toronto, Halifax, Mahone Bay, Lunenburg, Blue Rocks, Peggy’s Cove and Halifax
We arrived at Halifax about ten a.m. and rented a car. I had looked at renting a Chrysler 300, which had a low daily rate, but also a low daily mileage allowance. Didn’t think that was a good idea with a death march type of driving trip planned so we reserved a Hyundai Sonata like we have at home. Of course at the actual checkout they said they hadn’t had one of those for a long time and said our reserved car was a Kia Forte. Not quite the touring car we were looking for but the salesman had helpful suggestions for an upgrade to a an SUV which he said was higher and would allow us to see over the side barriers on the Confederation Bridge. I opted for that and a few other upgrades. Why not? Not a good phrase for a cheapskate to utter, but this was a vacation from cheapskatery and sensible eating. To paraphrase Homer Simpson, when he swallows a mixture of vodka and some other liquid, “That’s future Paul’s problem.”
We plugged the iPhone into the ApplePlay equipped dash of the Hyundai Tucson and drove off through the fall foliage to Mahone’s Bay for lunch at Oh My Cod!. Juanita opted for the scallops and I picked the lobster croissant roll. My meal was okay and hers was excellent. After a bit of walking and photoshoots around town we headed to Lunenburg, checked out the Fisheries Museum and the Bluenose II and another schooner. We bought NS Museum Passes good at multiple museums. We already bought our Parks Canada pass at MEC in Edmonton. The Southgate location had no senior passes but a twenty minute drive to the other location downtown saved about $40 IIRC. That should read the new location downtown. I drove to the old location using the map in my head. Then we drove to the new location using Google maps. So that means thirty minutes invested in saving on the passes.
We drove to Blue Rocks, NS which was a disappointment. I had seen a picture on-line and it looked so rustic and Atlantic coasty, but was pretty mundane. The picture had been carefully taken from an angle that made the only interesting thing in town more interesting than it was in real life. From there we went to Peggy’s Cove, walked about a bit and checked out the souvenir shop and carried on along the coast and back to our hotel for the night. After checking in we went and bought some bottled water for the trip and picked up a pizza and took it back to the hotel and tried to get some sleep to make up for the overnight flight and driving around today.
Monday, October 7
Halifax, New Glasgow, Fortress of Louisbourg, Sydney
We slept out and were up early and were on the road early and met up with David and Deborah Settle for coffee at Tim Horton’s near New Glasgow. Good visit but brief. Have kept in touch, but haven’t seen each other in person since David took a job in B.C. after we had worked together for about twelve years in Meadow Lake. We took some advice from Caitlyn in Meadow Lake and went up the east side of Cape Breton on the way to the Fortress of Louisbourg. Quite impressive. This French Fortress had been captured once by the British and then given back to France. The second time the British captured it they spent a couple of years leveling it to the ground. Parts of it were reconstructed in the twentieth century. I can’t remember if it was only one quarter or one sixth of the original buildings were reconstructed (if you want to know, DDG it. I have better things to do right now), but what has been done is impressive. Being the off season there were no shuttle buses, you could drive right up close to the buildings and start walking through them. There were also a few buildings closed for the off season, but more than enough were open and staffed with period actors for us to spend an enjoyable and educational couple of hours there. In the midst of this living in the simulated 19th century I stopped to digitally deal with paying for the customs fees to import some maintenance parts for our new brush mower. With the thin crowds and this being one of the last weeks the facility would be open until next spring the actors were chatty. I think we got more than just the standard spiels and had some interesting conversations.
Nowadays the average city has about a three-day food supply. Compare that to successfully living in a place that could be cut off for months through the cold, dark, stormy winters. Impressive to repeat myself. Glad it wasn’t me.
On the way back to the car we asked a guide for some good places to eat in Sydney. She had a few suggestions. At the hotel we asked the young lady at the desk. She suggested a place about twenty minute drive away. We went there and checked the menu at the door. Nice place but priced for the expense account crowd. We went to one of the places suggested by the lady closer to our age at the Fortress. Yummy fish chowder. Yummy high carb desserts. Good prices. We were good with that. What’s that phrase, “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we diet?”
Tuesday, October 8
Sydney, Alexander Graham Bell Museum, Cabot Trail, Trenton
We were on the road early again and waiting at the entrance for the door to be unlocked at the Alexander Graham Bell Museum. Learned a lot about the telephone and Alexander Graham Bell’s life history and the inventor’s activities in Canada. Definitely worth a visit and the time it takes to check out each display.
Our first stop on the Cabot trail was the Cape Breton Highlands National Park Ingonish Visitor Centre to get a map and some advice about routes, things to see and adjusted our plans accordingly. We added a loop that was outside the park proper on land that the park service coveted but had been unable to pry from the owner's hands. I checked out the gift store for a hoody. This is the last week it is open. There is a discount and there would be no harm in asking for a greater one, reminding them that their other option is to store the thing for almost six months. But, alas the few beautiful, bulky Parks Canada hoodies are only for people way fatter than me and way smaller than Juanita. All the close to normal sizes have been sold. The ranger said their other store had maybe twenty hoodies in my size. They don’t always order accurately. We kept an eye out for the other visitor centre at the other end of the Cabot Trail but not too closely. Too much time spent looking at leaves and eating lunch and stopping at viewpoints and a stop for ice cream and checking out a private souvenir shop with end of season prices on thin, unattractive hoodies and it was getting late so…
We arrived at Settle’s eventually after the Apple Maps app got us nuclear missile close but not close enough to find their driveway in the dark. Deborah fed us well and we all visited until the ladies exercised their sanity and went to bed. David and I sat up talking until about 2 a.m. Probably a little late if you are going to get up at 5:30 to go catch the ferry to PEI (Prince Edward Island).
Wednesday, October 9
Trenton, PEI Ferry, Sand Dunes, Cavendish, Anne of Green Gables, Charlottetown
The 5:30 alarm came right on time in a quick sort of way. We got up and headed for the ferry, following David in his truck. The Apple maps app agreed with him until the end and it took us up a side road in the middle of nowhere and eventually we got back together and ignored Mr. Apple and drove past empty toll booths and joined the locals in the free lane. The locals go to PEI by ferry and return by bridge. If you reserve the ferry on line you pay for a return trip. If you just show up on the Nova Scotia side you take your chances after people with a reservation which is a safe bet in the off season. If you are coming from PEI with or without a reservation you pay for a return trip. We opted for free one-way and accepted the low risk. David and I walked to the waiting room where I handed out some curved illusion tracts and picked up some PEI brochures to read on the ferry. Eventually the ferry came, David went away, and we loaded and went up stairs to eat. After breakfast I checked some details with a tourist information person and handed out some curved illusion tracts.
We considered driving the shoreline to the right of the ferry but looked at the time investment and abandoned that idea right away. We settled for a pretty straight line run to the sand dunes on the north shore and took one detour off route to Roma at Three Rivers National Park (which was already closed for the season, but had an interesting beach near it. Now if I could just find that fox in the pictures I took.
It took about forty-five minutes to walk into the sand dunes at Greenwich – PEI National Park and about the same to walk out with some time spent walking on the beach. My daughter asked if we had seen the Big Red Chairs and I thought we must have not walked enough on the beach, but when I looked at her pictures from last year we had been where they sit during the tourist season. They must have been put away for the winter. On our way to the dunes and back we walked through some woods with lots of recent Hurricane Dorion damage and across the marshes on an extensive board walk.
On the road again to our next stop, Dalvay by the Sea, where we walked around outside and decided if they didn’t want us in their lobby we wouldn’t go in their lobby.
We carried on to Cavendish Beach and drove around and got out at a few places and found out when the sign said the road is closed so many miles ahead they really meant it. The guy who turned us back seemed annoyed, but we got our drive along the coast. Both ways. He should be grateful that there are enough dumb people that he has a job turning them back before they get in the machinery zone. Shouldn’t he?
Definitely the off season. There were only four tour buses at Green Gables Heritage Place. That there were any is pretty amazing considering this is all in honour of a fictional character in a book by an author that described props from her life rather than use her imagination to make them up. Oh well, no use being a grinch. We watched the introductory movie and walked through the house that belonged to a relative of the books’ author and said hi to the girl in the red pig-tailed wig and got back on the road.
Some guide said it was worth while to drive around historic Village of Kensington. Must have had better navigational skills than me. Never did find much worth gawking at. We did find the Frosty Dairy Bar, but it was closed for the season. Just now, on reading the information at the link I realized I was operating under a misconception. It seems it was not the whole village, but one building – the old train station which was referenced in one of the Anne books. We did see a creepy haunted mansion that looked like it might be interesting on Halloween and a few other occasions, but, again, our timing was off by a few weeks.
We went and found a viewpoint to take pictures of the Confederation Bridge to New Brunswick and headed to a COWS Creamery in Charlottetown. It was too late in the day for a tour of the creamery. We checked out the souvenir sweatshirts and hoodies. Nope. We stood at the ice cream freezer looking at the choices. We were hungry but it was almost suppertime and we were not hungry for ice cream. The girl said they had a grilled cheese restaurant next door. We went there. Some of the combinations looked pretty interesting, but when they said white bread only we left back towards the ice cream place and on the way decided to just get back in the SUV and leave. Grumpy old man.
We drove around and checked out the historic building on our list: Province House, St. Dunstan’s Basilica and drove around the Great George Street Historic District. Looked at the restaurant options and ending up going to Smitty’s. I had a steak. I forget what Juanita had. They did a bad enough job on the steak the cashier gave us a discount on the bill. So, still a little bit grumpy, but not hungry grumpy anymore.
Filling the car with gas for tomorrow we retraced our steps past the now closed COWS Creamery and found our hotel and checked in and fell into a coma.
Thursday, October 10
Charlottetown, Fredericton, Hopewell Rocks, Masstown, Bay of Fundy
Over the bridge and through the woods to Fredericton, which Apple maps took us through to Hopewell Rocks where we briskly walked the trail to the rocks in time to see, but not walk on the sea floor. The guides seem to think it poor form to have guests stranded and drowning so they bring people off the sea bed before the Fundy tides can isolate them with no access back to shore.
The day’s tide schedule is:
Low Tide: 04:43
Ocean Floor Access: 01:13 to 08:13
High Tide: 10:38 (35.4 ft)
Low Tide: 17:07
Ocean Floor Access: 13:37 to 20:37
Basically not a schedule that would work with our schedule if we wanted to walk on the ocean floor and see high tide unless we wanted to make a day of it. Nope. Nope. We had fun talking to the guides and handing out curved illusion tracts and then leisurely walked back up hill to the information centre and looked around that and the gift shop (no suitable hoodies) before getting back in the vehicle and going back to Fredericton.
We met the Settles for lunch at the Masstown Market, checked out the market, then had fish and chips at the outdoor fish and chip shop in a boat. The Settles wisely ordered a double order and split it, I thought I ordered a double for me and a single for Juanita. Guess not. Two doubles. So I got three pieces of battered fish. About two pieces more than I needed and at least one maybe one and a half more than I wanted.
We climbed the replica lighthouse then David parked their truck out of the way on the lot, we had ice cream cones and went for a drive. We stopped at That Dutchman’s Cheese Farm and checked out the attractions, the artisanal cheese and the gift shop. At Five Islands Provincial Park we walked around and watched the tide coming back into the Bay of Fundy for the second time today. Debbie talked about the time she ran in the Not Since Moses Run on the sea floor at low tide from this location. Mud is an issue, apparently.
A little further up the coastline road we stopped at Diane’s Restaurant. The Settles had only ever ordered seafood to go from here but were game to try table service inside. Yummy seafood followed by peanut butter pie. Must have recovered from the overdose of battered fish. There were a pair of giant Adirondack chairs out front we joked about taking each other’s pictures in them Lily Tomlin style, but we forgot about it when we came out in the dark after dinner.
At dinner there were two couples behind us. I kept hearing things like “Grande Prairie” and “pulpmill in Peace River.” After dinner I did the thing with the curved illusion tracts and asked about the Alberta references I overheard. One couple was from Alberta. A couple of years before they were walking gormlessly on the sea floor in the Bay of Fundy, oblivious to the incoming tide and that they had been stranded. The other couple were the locals that had rescued them. I guess whenever they are in the area they take their rescuers out for a meal in gratitude that they are still around to do that.
Back to the Masstown Market. David and Deborah headed off in their truck and we went for our digs for the night. Several people had recommended against staying in the Tidal Bore Inn. I had chosen it before paying closer attention to the tidal bore times. It is a great place to sit and watch the Truro tidal bore come in. There’s a row of Adirondack chairs lined up for the guests. Of course, to take advantage of that one needs to be there, in daylight, when the tidal bore is happening. Oh well. The place wasn’t that bad. Our room didn’t smell like a lot of older motel rooms. One reason might be that they left the front window wide open to air the place out. It took awhile to figure this out. The loud traffic noise and that fact that the room was not heating up very quickly even with the heat cranked up were a couple of clues. The noise went way down and the warmth increased once I looked behind the curtain and closed the window. Lesson from Oz isn’t it? Look behind the curtain.
Friday, October 11
Truro, Anapolis Valley, Digby
Back under the highway to hit a MacDonald’s drive thru and then turnaround, go past the Tidal Bore Inn and down the coast to Walton and the light house there. We had the place to ourselves and climbed up inside and read the displays and then stood on the top of the cliff and watched the tide come in (again) for a while and picked out rocks and watched them get surrounded and submerged. The ducks at the waters edge always seemed to avoid being submerged. Funny that.
Grand-Pre National Historic Site had lots of information on the purging of the Acadians from the area along with statues of the (fictional) Evangeline. Their answer to Anne I suppose. We stopped in Kensington and found a wonderful hoodie that also happened to be 70% off with an e-mail offer the Options Mastercard people had sent. Win-win. That would be win-win-win, but Juanita found nothing she wanted to wear. Maybe that’s a win for my credit card, but I don’t think that way about her. She has got to be the lowest maintenance wife in existence. I think I’ll keep her. 😊
At the MacDonald Museum I ran interference with the lonely, conversation staved attendant while Juanita used the bathroom. Then she did the same for me while I checked out the displays. On the third floor I discovered we weren’t the only three people in the building. There were eight to ten Rotarians. They had loonies and pieces of paper with numbers on them and a huge paper chart of numbered boxes spread across multiple tables. Some sort of radio bingo 50-50 contest. Seemed pretty complex. Always nice to see people way older than me actively beavering away at their endeavours.
The accommodations for the night was at the Harmony Bed and Breakfast in Digby. This was run by a charming couple recently arrived from South Africa with their two young children. I hope they make a go of it. Canada needs more immigrants, especially from Africa.
We considered walking to a restaurant, but the short walk from our car to the restaurant confirmed we had done the right thing. Three blocks of that stiff, cold breeze would have been quite unpleasant. When we got to the Crow’s Nest we were told it was full, but the waitress said you might have to wait “twenty minutes” like that was usually a show stopper. We were good with that. After we were seated a group of people showed up and said they had a reservation. It turned out their reservation was for a similarly named restaurant in a nearby town. The table behind was wrapping up so the new group elected to stay. Good choice. Can’t imagine a better feed at another restaurant. If you go there try their scallops.
We waddled back to our car and went home and parked it behind the Bed and Breakfast.
Saturday, November 12
Digby, Kejimkujik National Park, Mahone Bay, Halifax
There was the tale end of some storm system washing over Nova Scotia. We did not want to be on the road too soon and end up on the rutted lanes of the highway from Mahone Bay to Halifax in the middle of a downpour. Storm Tracker’s predictions suggested our best bet was to have a leisurely breakfast which we did. The Harmony Bed and Breakfast does a pretty decent spread. Good food. Good coffee. Choices. Seconds if desired.
Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 is one of the few museums not covered by one of our passes so we paid up and went inside. Some naval war stuff, a bit on the Titanic and, of course, lots on immigration through Canada’s equivalent of Ellis Island. There were pictures of ships that had carried immigrants. I guessed at one that may have carried my best friend and took a picture.
We spent some time with a researcher and got some of their free stuff and a bit of paid stuff about my immigrant mother and forebears.
Our original plan had been to walk between spots, but not in this iffy weather at distances that are longer than they look on the map. Into the car and parked around the corner from the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. Free street parking on weekends. Yeh! That museum had lots of boats and maritime stuff, naturally. And a detailed display on the Halifax explosion. It was worthwhile. There are better descriptions at the link and on line.
When we had finished as much of the pizza as we could manage we went and found our hotel in Dartmouth. We didn’t do the Harbour Ferry, but maybe tomorrow.
Sunday, October 13
Dartmouth, Halifax, Airport, Toronto, Edmonton
I had emailed our best man about Pier 21 and he replied talking about his experience landing there when he immigrated with his parents. He remembered the name of the ship. After breakfast we went to the Dartmouth terminal of the Harbour Ferry and watched the ferry leave. Then we drove to the other side of the harbour.
When we parked back at Pier 21 to go to the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 the parking lot was busy with cars and tourists off the four cruise ships that had docked that morning and tour buses and tour guides hawking tours. I shared a couple of curved illusion tracts and then shared local knowledge with a couple of Chinese tourists and went into the museum. I had hoped to take a picture of the ship my friend travelled on but the wall of ships’ picture were an entrance fee away.
While I went into the research centre and picked up an information package on the ship, Juanita went next door to check out the large market that was set up to sell trinkets, trash and souvenirs to cruise ship passengers. I followed once I had my package and shared curved illusion tracts in English and Spanish as appropriate and had a few good Spanish conversations with Spanish tourists and Spanish speaking local guides.
We met up with the Settles at The Chickenburger which opened in 1940 and claims to be Canada’s oldest drive-in restaurant. I tried the chickenburger and onion rings and a coffee milkshake. The chicken meat was great, the onion rings were fine, and the shake was as thin as chocolate milk. Skip the shake. The visit was just as good as the other visits we had. We talked until the nasty little stools forced us to move. We went to a nearby mall, walked a bit and then David found a bench and we talked while the ladies window shopped until it was time to leave for the airport.
Rental car return was smooth. The gas tank was almost but not quite empty. I added $10 of gas yesterday so it would make it to the airport with kilometers to spare. We didn’t lose money by paying for the no-fill option. The plane ride to Toronto was okay. Toronto was Toronto. The plane from Toronto to Edmonton must have been one of Air Canada’s oldest 757’s. I joked that the grotty old thing might be serial number 001 and maybe it was even the one I flew on to Toronto for Honeywell training when it was new in the mid-eighties. But it got us to Edmonton.
Nick met us at the airport and drove us to his and Becky’s home. Only a five-hour drive and we’ll be back in Meadow Lake.
We came back to Meadow Lake and finished prepping for winter. Snow tires on the car, etc. Then the first stuff of winter hit. Have been considering buying a snow blower, but haven’t. For the fluffy snow that arrived a few hours up and down the driveway with a leaf blower seemed to do the trick. Then there is always picking up the phone and calling Willie McAmmond and his plow. That’s still an option.