June 2008

We traveled about 900 miles during the month of June. The yellow map trace shows the route taken across lower New Brunswick, across the Confederation Bridge into Prince Edward Island and south into Nova Scotia.

Wow!  June was packed full of sightseeing – we can’t remember any single month where we did as much sightseeing as we did this month.   Total distance covered, from Campobello Island, New Brunswick, to Glen Margaret, Nova Scotia, was approximately 900 miles.  Towards the end of the month, we had a major WOW! moment in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia – read on to learn about one of the most fantabulous experiences we’ve had in almost five years of full time RVing.  

Foods we’ve experienced so far:  Thumbs-up for the fish and chips, usually haddock; wonderful Digby scallops – sautéed, broiled, or batter-dipped; rappie pie (a traditional Acadian dish – more on that later); bumble berry pie (still don’t know what a bumble berry is!); hot smoked salmon – yum!; Boston Pizza; Cows ice cream; fish cakes; poutine; thumbs-down on grape-nut pudding (the whipped cream on top at least gave it some flavor.) 

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The Quoddy Lighthouse still provides a warning to boats navigating off the rock coast but nowadays the lighthouse is automated.

From our campground at Campobello Island, we made a day trip to nearby Lubec, Maine to visit Quoddy Head State Park and the West Quoddy Head Light located on the park grounds.  The West Quoddy Head Light became the easternmost lighthouse in the U.S. in 1808.  Fully automated since 1988, it is a beautiful lighthouse that we hoped to climb but it’s only accessible to the public when the Coast Guard is there.  Volunteers man the museum and gift shop the rest of the year. 

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Sundews (left) and pitcher plants thrive in the nutrient-poor bog by trapping and absorbing insects.

After checking out the museum displays, we enjoyed a picnic lunch on the state park grounds, overlooking the Bay of Fundy.  We spotted a couple of seals and some porpoises frolicking in the bay.   Watching the fog rolling in was awesome but it sure did cool down the temperature.  We walked the park’s coastal trail, taking a detour to walk down some steps to the water.  The tide was going out but the waves were still powerful enough to move rocks on the shore back and forth – it was like listening to ball bearings rolling around.  We continued on the trail to a peat bog – interpretive signs on the boardwalk through the bog were informative.  The bog is home to plants that tolerate cold temperatures, acid conditions, low oxygen and little nitrogen.  We saw lots of pitcher plants there – they ooze a liquid in their leaves to attract bugs, which then get stuck and slowly absorbed as nutrients. 

The lighthouse docents recommended stopping by Bayside Chocolates in downtown Lubec.  The owner makes all the chocolates by hand – we were treated to several wonderful samples and of course, had to support the economy by buying some chocolate.  One unusual combination was a lemon-filled dark chocolate candy – who’da thunk that chocolate and lemon would taste so good together. 

Lubec is the most easterly town in the U.S. and is a working waterfront – no malls, no franchises business, no pollution, no crowds, no traffic and no traffic lights. 

After a five-night stay at Herring Cove Provincial Park, it was time to leave and head over to New Brunswick’s mainland.  We re-entered New Brunswick at the Calais, Maine/St. Stephen, New Brunswick customs checkpoint and for the first time in our US/Canadian travels across the borders, we were very thoroughly searched, as were Karen and Galen.  They tell us it was random but what are the odds of both of us being chosen at the same time.  We suspect it’s because we declared we had bear spray (leftover from our Alaska trip in 2005) – maybe they thought we were transporting other stuff.  Larry had to open up all three slides; all drawers, cupboards, closets, cabinets, storage compartments were thoroughly searched in the RV; the truck was just as thoroughly inspected.  About an hour later, we were finally on our way.  We’re not complaining about the need to be searched – it’s just odd that we were the only RVs being searched while several others passed on through.  Oh well – it makes for a good story.

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Although rain continued to threaten we walked around the small community of St. Andrews located on the Bay of Fundy.  Murals and small boats along the wharf provided the color an otherwise gray day.

We stopped for just one night at Oak Bay Provincial Park near St. Stephen, primarily so we could make a day trip to visit St. Andrews -- a very picturesque town-- we walked on the wharf, visited the St. Andrews Blockhouse, a defense building from the War of 1812 – one of three built and the only one left standing and now a National Historic Site.

It’s lucky that we checked out our “pull-thru” campsite at Oak Bay before we pulled forward to leave.  There was an exposed drainpipe with large bolts sticking out of it – the owners are aware of it but haven’t done anything about it yet.  We may have needed a couple of new tires had we gone forward instead of backing out of the site.

Next stop was Saint John, New Brunswick (not to be confused with St. John’s in Newfoundland.)  We found our way to Rockwood Park, the largest urban park in Canada (think New York’s Central Park but with camping facilities.)  Rockwood’s campground is more of a glorified gravel parking lot but we have water and electric, free wifi, clean bathhouses and it’s close to town.

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What does the New Brunswick Museum and the City Market have in common?  In Saint John, both are accessible without having to go outside.  You can do your banking, get on to the internet, visit the library, go to the museum, buy your groceries and of course eat without having to brave the elements thanks to overhead and underground passages.

After we got set up, we drove to City Market – a year-round farmers’ market with a variety of foods being sold – produce, fish, meat, baked goods, ice cream, fudge – are you getting hungry yet?  This was our first exposure to hot-smoked salmon, a different process of smoking salmon than the cold/dehydrated method we are familiar with.   We bought some fish cakes and some of the salmon.  There are also several vendors selling clothes, souvenirs, doo-dads.  A word about fish cakes – it’s not like a Mrs. Paul’s breaded fish stick.  Fish cakes are made with salted cod, mixed with mashed potatoes, onions and some spices, and then fried like a potato pancake – very tasty.  We’ve now discovered another dish to sample in different parts of the Maritimes.

After we returned home with our purchases, we went back out to have dinner at Boston Pizza and buy groceries at one of the local stores.  Day Two, we drove back into town and visited the New Brunswick Museum.  The museum is chock full of stuff – we spent a couple of hours there and only did the first two floors.  The museum is an introduction to New Brunswick’s history, natural science and fine arts.  The first floor concentrated on marine history; the second on natural science; the third on the arts.

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The difference between high tide and low tide in the Bay of Fundy can be as much as 48 feet.

We watched the Fundy tides both at low and high to see the reversing falls.  You don't actually see the water suddenly reversing – it’s a gradual process as the tide slowly changes direction.  It's neat to see the water flow one way at low tide and another at high tide.  It is also amazing how much water flows back and forth.  We saw some harbor seals at high tide. 

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15,000 ducks were released at slack tide by the barge boat as part of a fund raiser for a local hospital.  Makes you wonder if all were recovered.

We participated in the Canducky Derby, a fundraiser for a local hospital.  For $10, we got three tickets.  Each ticket number is attached to a yellow rubber duck.  All the ducks are dropped into the Bay at slack tide (midway between low and high - water is calmer then), then they float down and the first one to get snagged by the official auditor wins $10,000. It was fun to watch the stream of 15,000 rubber duckies floating down the river.  Alas, we didn't win. 

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This Martello Tower was built for the War of 1812 but was modified for use as a fire control headquarters during World War II.  Its location high above Saint John gave it a commanding view of the surrounding area.

Located in Saint John is the Carleton Martello Tower, a cannonball-proof circular stone fort built during the War of 1812 and in use up until World War II.  A park docent gave us an excellent tour of the facility, including the powder magazine – one of the most dangerous rooms to work in because of the explosives – doors are copper-lined as are the powder kegs.  The view of Saint John and the harbor was spectacular from the top level of the tower.

Next destination – Fundy National Park, where we stayed for two nights at the Chignecto North campground.  After we got set up, we drove down to the nearest town, Alma, to check out the fishing boats tied up at the dock – tide was out and with the extreme Fundy tides, boats during low tide are resting right on the ocean floor.  We went back the next morning to take pictures at high tide – what a difference! 

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Another example of the extreme tides on the Bay of Fundy.  Note the cradle support that prevents the boat from tipping over at low tide.

Fundy National Park has several walking trails, classified from easy to strenuous.  The woman who checked us in at the campground recommended the Coppermine and Matthews Head trails.  We did them both.  Even though they were both classified as moderate, some of us were huffing and puffing.  The Coppermine trail was mainly through the shaded forest, passing an old mine site with some views of the Bay of Fundy.  Matthews Head had more impressive views of the bay.  We also did a small portion of the Dickson Falls trail – far enough in to see the falls.

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An example of the Hopewell Rocks, carved by glaciers and the relentless tides, is shown here at low tide.  The arch under which Lu and Larry are standing is the same arch shown in the left photo.

Hopewell Rocks was about an hour’s drive and well worth it.  We timed our arrival with low tide so we could experience the rocks down on the ocean floor.  We walked among the ‘flowerpot’ rocks, carved by melting glaciers and continually sculpted by the highest tides in the world.  We walked almost a half-mile on the ocean floor to the furthest accessible point where we met one of the park rangers.  Her job is to ensure the safety of the visitors, especially when the siren sounds that the tide is starting to come in.  She herds back any visitors in her area back to the staircase at the main entrance.  The staircase itself is amazing to see – it’s the height of a four-story building.  If the ride to Hopewell Rocks hadn’t been an hour and if fuel prices were more reasonable, we would have made a return trip to see them at high tide. 

While we were talking to the ranger, she told us that the seaweed clinging to the rock is called bladder rack which contains carrageenan used in ice cream and make-up.  It’s a good conditioner, similar to aloe.  She showed us how to extract it. 

Time to visit and explore another Atlantic Province – Prince Edward Island.  Our ride to PEI was quite pleasant.  We got off the main drag for lunch – ended up at Fred’s Restaurant – a large parking lot and good food – just what we were looking for.  Lucille tried poutine, a traditional French dish – a layer of fries, smothered in gravy and sprinkled with a white cheese, possibly mozzarella.  Fred’s version of poutine included chicken – it was wonderful and reminds you of chicken potpie – a great comfort food. 

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You could take a ferry or drive to PEI.  We took the 7-mile long Confederation Bridge.

PEI is an island accessible either by ferry or the Confederation Bridge.  We opted for the bridge.  The toll is free getting to the island but a hefty $42 ($55 total for the truck/RV) when you leave.  They really hope you don’t want to leave.  Sun-N-Shade Campground, our stop for the next week, was in Borden, the first city you reach in PEI after crossing the bridge.  Karen and Galen had stayed there four years ago and highly recommended it, and after our week’s stay, we agree.  Marnie and Harold, campground owners, are former musicians, so the campground has a clubhouse with a stage.  Concerts are held Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, with the house band performing the first hour and open mike the second.  Marnie and Harold take a lot of pride in their campground and it shows – beautiful grassy sites, immaculate bathrooms, a welcoming clubhouse with a game room attached, and the friendliest folks we’ve met.  Our week there went by too quickly.

The four of us participated in two of the concerts during open mike – we are unofficially calling ourselves The Company of Friends.  During open mike, each performer or group is allowed to play two tunes.  The audience of almost 200 enjoyed hearing our dulcimers playing, something not usually found in PEI.  Lester and Shirley were so interested in the dulcimer that we had a short intro lesson one afternoon.  Lucille will be upgrading her dulcimer when we get to Mountain View in October, so it has been available for sale – Shirley enjoyed playing the instrument with plans to continue so she bought it.  (We will still be playing together – Karen has an extra dulcimer that she has lent Lucille.)  During the Sunday open mike session, the dulcimer players took a break while Galen sang and played a couple of songs.

We didn’t waste too much time getting set up so that we could get to town and sample some Cow’s ice cream.  Cow’s is a franchise found in some of the Atlantic Provinces – we got a frequent buyer card and almost had it filled up that first week! 

What we saw on Prince Edward Island:

The Acadian Museum in Miscouche.  In 1720, the first Acadians (Nova Scotia back then was a French territory called Acadie) settled on PEI, then known as Ile Saint-Jean (Isle of Saint John).  The museum gave us a glimpse of Acadian life back then.  There, we learned about the Deportation of the Acadians by the British in 1758.  We will continue to learn more about the deportation and the Acadians as we continue our travels in Nova Scotia. 

3,000 Acadians in PEI were deported to France in 1758.  There were three shipwrecks during the crossing, resulting in the death of nearly 1,000 deportees. Hundreds of others died from illnesses and malnutrition.  Some of the refugees eventually came back to the Isle of Saint John.  Today, a quarter of the Island population has “French” roots. 

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Due to the constant winds, North Cape was selected for the experimental station.  We saw windmills with 1 to 4 blades.

The Wind Interpretive Center at North Cape, at the north end of the island.  We learned about how wind is harnessed to provide power.  Several huge windmills are on North Cape, some of which are experimental.  The wind was really blowing that day – the windmills will automatically shut down if winds exceed 40 mph.  If they didn’t, the vanes would spin out of control and get damaged. 

The Prince Edward Island Potato Museum in O’Leary.  Because the deep red clay soil is conducive to a healthy potato crop, PEI is known for its potatoes. The museum features an interesting display on the potato industry as well as housing a large collection of farm implements and machinery related to growing and harvesting potatoes.  Not to be missed is the giant potato at the museum’s entrance. 

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This chapel is the final bottle project of Edouard Arsenault.  The project included over 8,000 bottles.

The Bottle Houses in Cap-Egmont.  Here there are three buildings made of over 25,000 bottles, all shapes, sizes and colors.  The first building is a six-gabled house, erected in 1980, using approximately 12,000 bottles.  Edouard Arsenault collected bottles from local dance halls, restaurants and the dump.  When people heard about his project, they started bringing him bottles.  He became a recycler before his time.  The second building is the tavern and the third, the chapel, which couples actually use for weddings. The pews are made from the colorful votive holders used by local Catholic churches – an appropriate use for these recycled bottles. 

Founders Hall in Charlottetown.  In 1864, delegates to the Charlottetown Conference arrived at this waterfront site – now considered Canada’s birthplace pavilion.  We donned headsets and walked through the Time Travel Tunnel, learning about the history of Canada, starting with the conference in 1864 and ending with the joining of the last province, Nunavut, in 1999.  The creators of this ‘tunnel’ did a wonderful job of getting history across in a fun and entertaining way by using state-of-the-art displays, holovisuals, on-screen trivia games and lots of hands-on learning tools.  Did you know that Tuponia was one of the suggested names for this new country now called Canada?  Instead of Canadian Tire, the store would be called Tuponian Tire! 

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The house made famous by Anne of Green Gables.  Anne's bedroom was created based upon the story.

The Cavendish National Historic Site.  PEI is known at the Land of Green Gables, made famous by Lucy Maud Montgomery in her fictional book, Anne of Green Gables.  L.M. Montgomery never lived at Green Gables but grew up nearby with her grandparents.  Green Gables was her cousins’ home. Lucy spent her time exploring the surrounding woodlands and places she discovered and named such as Lover’s Lane and the Haunted Wood – familiar to the millions of the book’s readers around the world.  It is eerie to walk through the home that ‘Anne’ grew up in, seeing her room as well as Matthew’s and Marilla’s, knowing this is all because of a story.  You expect Anne herself to appear from one of the paths.

Impressive churches on PEI:

St. John the Baptist in Miscouche; Our Lady of Mount Carmel on the way to Cap-Egmont; St. Dunstan’s Basilica in Charlottetown.  St. Dunstan’s is a beautiful and ornate stone church with triple spires.

PEI is commemorating three important events in 2008:  it’s the Year of the Potato – the spud gets its due this year; the 100th anniversary of the publishing of Anne of Green Gables; and the 250th anniversary of the deportation of the Acadians.  

After saying our goodbyes to Marnie, Harold and other friends we met at Sun-N-Shade Campground, we crossed back over the Confederation Bridge and drove to Nova Scotia, our destination for the next five weeks.  We dry camped the first night in a small parking lot in Upper Rawdon, getting permission from one of the owners nearby.

Annapolis River Campground was to be home for the next couple of days.  Ken Fraser, the owner, holds the world record for bluefin tuna, 1496 pounds!  Caught in 1979, the record still holds.  Ken is writing about a book about his experiences.  We’ll also hear more about Ken later in our travels through the province.  Little did we know when we checked that we were meeting an important part of Nova Scotia’s fishing heritage.

Nova Scotia, for its visitors, has sectioned the province into several tourism regions and scenic travelways.  Over the next five weeks, we’ll visit Annapolis Valley, Yarmouth and Acadian Shores, South Shore, Northumberland Shore, Eastern Shore, and Cape Breton Island.

Annapolis Valley

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The chapel at Grand Pre serves as a memorial to those Acadians deported from their lands in Nova Scotia.  A statue of Evangeline, immortalized in Longfellow's poem, stands along the walkway.

Grand-Pre National Historic Site, commemorating the deportation of the Acadians.  A short history lesson:  the French originally settled Nova Scotia and called it Acadie, thus the Acadians.  Scotland took it over; then back to France; then taken over by the English -- a total of seven times changing back and forth.  In 1755, the English wanted the Acadians to take an oath of loyalty to England, saying they would bear arms against the French.  The majority refused. Driven from Nova Scotia, they were put on boats to New England, Virginia, North Carolina.  Some went to France.  Their homes were all burned to the ground.  A lottery was held to assign their land to Englishmen.   About eight years later, the Acadians were allowed to return and many did but they couldn’t get back their former lands.  They were forced to settle on the coast and become fishermen and shipbuilders, which they then excelled at. 

While touring Grand-Pre, we learned that the Acadians converted mudflats into very good soil for farming, creating a unique type of dyking system.  There is 14 feet of rich soil as a result of this dyking system. Archaeologists are excavating several sites – with the help of one of the park employees, we spotted an old bottle peeking out from the layered dirt. 

The epic poem Evangeline:  A Tale of Acadie, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, tells the story of a young Acadian girl from Grand-Pre.  Evangeline, a fictitious character, symbolizes the perseverance of the Acadian people.  There is a statue of Evangeline on the grounds as well as a bust of Longfellow.

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We took a lantern-light tour of the graveyard that is adjacent to the Fort Anne in Annapolis Royal.  The cemetery is the final resting place for generations of Acadians as well as English.  Few markers remain for the Acadians because they were made of wood.

Fort-Anne in Annapolis Royal.  We saw Fort Anne two different ways – the first was a unique graveyard tour at night.  Alan Melanson leads the Candlelight Tour of the Garrison Graveyard, the oldest Engish graveyard in Canada.  Alan, who has been doing this tour since its inception 17 years ago, meets you dressed in the traditional mourning garments.  All tour participants are given a lantern and we set off to learn more about some of the graveyard’s inhabitants.  Except for the voracious mosquitoes that night, we thoroughly enjoyed the tour – a must see if you are in the area.

Factoid:  Our Candlelight Tour guide, Alan, told us that one of his ancestors was on a boat during the deportation, along with other Acadians. They overtook the ship’s crew, diverting it to Quebec.  Sadly, his ancestor died from some disease shortly after regaining his freedom in Quebec.

Fort Anne during the daylight was also impressive with a lovely view of the Annapolis River.  The 1702 earthworks are the earliest Canadian example of a Vauban-style fort (Vauban was the European fort design master of his time.)  The bastions are still intact, as is the powder magazine.  Inside the museum is Fort Anne’s Heritage Tapestry, 95 different colors of Persian wool interwoven and stitched to form a tableau of the last 400 years of Fort Anne’s history.  Over 100 volunteers spent four years stitching this impressive 18-foot long, 8-foot high tapestry. 

The Annapolis Tidal Generating Station.  Annapolis Royal is home to the first and only tidal plant in North America.  The turbine generates more than 30 million kilowatt-hours per year, enough to power 4,500 homes, all from the water rising and falling due to the Fundy tides.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t see this in action – they were undergoing renovations and weren’t allowed past the reception area.

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The Port-Royal Habitation is a reconstruction of a small French compound in 1605.  The occupants were primarily trappers.

Port-Royal National Historic Site.  The Port-Royal Habitation is a reconstruction of a small French compound in 1605, home to some of the earliest European settlements.  The French and the native people, the Mi’kmaq, formed an enduring friendship and alliance.  The fort was manned by 35 men that were artisans (no families lived here.)

The Melanson Settlement.  A short interpretive trail tells the story of the Acadian village on this site before the 1755 deportation.

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The 1878 Trinity Anglican Church in Digby reflects the influence of the shipwright that supervised its construction.

Digby:  home of the famous Digby scallops – of course, we enjoyed some at the Fundy Seafood Restaurant.  While in Digby, we got a private tour of the Trinity Anglican Church, the interior of which was built by a local shipwright.  Looking at the support beams confirms that.  The pastor showed us some very old religious artifacts as well as old hymnals and children’s books, just recently discovered in one of their storage rooms.

Yarmouth and Acadian Shores

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Our campsite overlooking Saint Mary's Bay.

Belle Baie Campground in Church Point was our home for the next four nights.  Lucille’s cousin Richard and his wife Murielle live in nearby Little Brook.  Her brother Roger and wife Kathie scheduled their arrival here at the same time, as did cousin Marcel and his son Robert.  What fun  - a mini-family reunion!

Our campsite at Belle Baie was absolutely gorgeous, overlooking Saint Mary’s Bay.  If we didn’t have places to go and people to meet, we could have spent our days just watching the tides, and fog, go in and out.

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The gang was all there except for Murielle who was working and Karen who was nursing a sore knee.  Karen caught a picture of Murielle serving her rapure (rappie pie) made from potatoes and chicken.

We visited with Richard and the gang that first evening, enjoying a traditional Canadian dish, paté chinois (similar to shepherd’s pie.)  The meal and company were excellent but we ate and ran to catch a dulcimer/guitar concert by Tom Berry at the Shoreline Restaurant in Digby.  We had yet to see another dulcimer player during our travels so this was an opportunity we didn’t want to pass up. 

The Shoreline is a small restaurant with maybe a dozen tables - only about six other people were there when we arrived.  We got a table right in front of Tom and enjoyed listening to him for almost two hours.  He has seen very few dulcimer players in the area, so we were as unusual to him as he was to us here in the Maritimes.  He played very well and has been playing for 32 years.  A former surfboard maker in Vancouver made his dulcimer – what a stretch. 

Richard is an excellent tour guide – he planned a day trip for us but couldn’t control the fog.  We still had a great time and enjoyed the sunshine when it peeked through periodically.

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The weather was constantly changing as we took a ferry to Long Island and Balancing Rock.  One moment it was clear and then the fog rolled in.

We drove all the way through Digby Neck, then got on the ferry to Long Island.  By walking a short trail (and descending 249 steps) we saw Balancing Rock – amazing to see this column of rock balancing on an edge of a larger boulder.   Had it been a clear day, we may have been able to see across the bay to Richard and Murielle’s home.

We then continued driving to the end of Long Island, taking another ferry to Brier Island where we ate lunch at the Lighthouse Café – excellent, lightly breaded scallops and good fries (gotta fill up on these wonderful Digby scallops while we can!)  We then drove to one end of Brier Island, then to the other where the Northern Lightstation is on the Bay of Fundy.  This may sound like a long distance but it was only about four miles – a very small island.

On Sunday, we went to Richard and Murielle’s for dinner.  Murielle made rapure, a traditional Acadian dish.  It was first developed as a way to use what was left of the potatoes after having been thoroughly wrung out to obtain starch.  Broth is re-added to the potato substance, which then forms the first layer on the bottom of the pan, cooked chicken is added as the middle layer.  The final layer is more of the potato mixture.  This is baked till top layer is brown and crusty.  It was very good.  The consistency of the potato layers was unusual and didn’t look as good as it tasted (it looks like applesance.)  Strawberry shortcake made with fresh strawberries and bumble berry pie topped off a great meal.  (Bumble berry pie turned out to be mixed berries.)

Murielle told us that the pan in which the rapure (rappie pie) is cooked is custom-made to fit the cook’s kitchen by local shipbuilders.  When Murielle moved from her home to this one, she was glad to see that her pan did fit this different oven.  It was built out of stainless steel, about 4” tall, and was as wide and almost as deep as the oven.

Afterwards, the four of us put on a mini-concert for the others (their first exposure to mountain dulcimers.)

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This restored 1904 light station at Gilbert's Cove now houses a mini-museum and gift shop.

Gilbert’s Cove Lighthouse.  Built in 1904 to serve the communities along the eastern shore of St. Mary’s Bay.  William Melanson and his family were the sole lighthouse keepers.  At 75 years of age, William awarded his position to daughter Louise, who tended the lighthouse until 1965 when it became unwatched and eventually was replaced with an automated beacon at the base.  More than fifty local residents formed the historical society that preserved the lighthouse.  We were allowed access to the top – a beautiful view of the bay.  There are several small rooms with period furniture.  One of the volunteers, an 86-year-old woman, daily bakes blueberry muffins to be sold at the gift shop.  Of course, we had to buy one of these muffins – very good!

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Saint Mary’s Church, located in Church Point, Nova Scotia is supposedly the largest wooden church in North America. 

Saint Mary’s Church.  Located in Church Point, this is supposedly the largest wooden church in North America.  When the fog isn’t surrounding the bay, it’s an impressive landmark seen for miles.  The church was built from 1903-1905 with the help of 1,500 volunteers.  The parish priest wanted the church made out of stone, which would have had to been shipped in from elsewhere but at the insistence of the parishioners, who had plenty of wood available, it was made out of wood. The master carpenter, Leo Melanson, could neither read nor write but he built from the blueprints of a church made of stone from the parish priest’s native home in France.  Amazing to think that he converted the plans for stone to wood.   The Italian painter for the frescoes on the ceiling was afraid of heights.  He fortified himself by drinking a bottle of wine before going up on the scaffolding, and brought another bottle with him while he was up there painting. It’s a wonder he didn’t fall off!  But his method worked – he finished the project.  Styrofoam wasn’t invented back then.  To protect the stained glass windows imported from France, they were packed in molasses – not a pane was broken but that must have been one sticky mess to clean up!

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Saint Bernard Church, located in the village of Saint Bernard, is constructed of granite block on the outside but the inside makes extensive use of wood that is painted and textured to resemble stone.

Saint Bernard Church.  Located in the village of Saint Bernard, this church was built over a period of 32 years, from 1910-1942, and is built of granite blocks, hauled by train and ox-team from Shelburne, about 120 miles away.  It’s too bad the parishioners didn’t have the final say so on this church too as far as stone versus wood construction.  The church is at a crossroads now with major repairs needed because of the stone construction – should they let it go to ruin or raise the funds for the repairs – time will tell.  Leo Melanson (our carpenter from Saint Mary’s) built all the wooden pews in church by himself.  Because he was illiterate, no one else could read his plans.  The chandeliers appear to be made out of brass but are actually wood – unless you are up close, it’s hard to tell the difference.  Wood was more affordable than brass.

The Chapel at Saint Anne’s University.  No longer a religious college, nor an active chapel, it is used occasionally for weddings and other ceremonies but is primarily a multi-purpose room.  Murielle, who is the Registrar at the university, gave us a private tour.  What is odd to see is that when a staircase was built to upgrade the university, one half of the chapel’s double door entrance was removed.  From the inside looking out, it appears normal but from the outside – it’s just one half of the door. 

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This was in the Yarmouth County Museum.  Guess what it is.  (Answer is below.)

We said our goodbyes to our family and headed for Yarmouth.  After a quick stop at the Visitor Center to pick up brochures, we walked up to Yarmouth County Museum and Archives.  Before this was a museum, it was the New Tabernacle Congregational Church.  The woman who sold us our tickets said that she had attended this church as a youngster.  We wandered through two floors of displays of china and glass collections, furnishings, toys, tools, musical instruments – lots of stuff to see, including some items that had us scratching our heads trying to figure out what they were. 

Next door is the Pelton-Fuller House, the summer home of Primrose and Alfred Fuller, the “Fuller Brush Man”.  This 1895 Victorian house was furnished as it was when last occupied by Primrose.  One room displayed the history of Fuller Brush and several of its products – it was a stroll down ‘Memory Lane.’

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Sidney's and Claudette's cottage was a welcome place to spend two nights.  We parked alongside the cottage and enjoyed the view overlooking the water when the tide was in.

Our plans were to overnight at Yarmouth’s WalMart.  We pulled both the rigs in, parking on a fairly level surface.  First order of business was to walk Shelley, then stock up on groceries, before settling in for the night.  As we were walking Shelley, we saw someone go by, circling the rigs – not an unusual occurrence.  A little while later, Galen caught up to us in the grocery store with the most amazing offer.  We’d been invited to spend the night, with both our rigs, in nearby Upper Wedgeport.  Sidney had room on his property and knew we’d be more comfortable there, as well as having lots of room to walk Shelley.  We followed him back to his home, about 15 minutes away. 

What a magical experience and location!  Sidney and Claudette live across the street from a small cottage, located right on the cove.  The cottage was a former boathouse that now has a full kitchen, bathroom and living room in it.  There were level gravel parking sites on either side of the cottage.  The view out our rear window was spectacular as we watched the tides come in and out.  It didn’t take much persuasion for us to stay more than one night.  In fact, Sidney offered us the use of the cottage and we were welcome to whatever refreshments were in the fridge.  Wow! 

After dinner, Sidney and Claudette came by for a visit, then we all went down the street to meet their friends Terry and Loretta and once again, got an invite to stay on private property.  Between the generosity and friendliness of our new friends and the beauty of our site, we think we’ve died and gone to heaven. 

Because we were able to unhook from our rigs, we visited places nearby we couldn’t have easily reached still connected.  The next day, we visited the Wedgeport Sport Tuna Fishing Museum, home to all things tuna, including the fishing equipment needed to catch this fish.  Giselle, our tour guide, was impressed and envious that we had actually met Ken Fraser (remember him from Annapolis River Campground?) – she showed us his picture with the record-breaking tuna. 

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We like to explore churches where ever we go.  Saint Michaels is a beautiful church.  The caretaker related how he used to have to pump the organ in the church's earlier days; he gave us a view of the many pipes that make up a pipe organ.

On the way back, we stopped at Saint Michael’s Church and during our wandering around, we met the caretaker who gave us each a pen and ink drawing note card of the church.  When we asked if we could check out the choir loft, he not only gave us permission, but led the way, unlocking the pipe organ’s cabinet so we could walk in and check out the organ from the inside out – wow!  This was a first.  We learned there are over 1,000 pipes in the organ, of all sizes, some made of pewter, others of wood, some brass.  Once a year, someone from New Brunswick comes in to tune it and make any minor repairs.  The caretaker said this gentleman puts the organ through its paces, much to everyone’s enjoyment.

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Yarmouth is where you end up if you take a ferry from Maine to Nova Scotia.  The Cape Forchu Lighthouse helps keep the entry into Yarmouth safe in spite of the rocks, wind and fog.

We then headed out to the Cape Forchu Lightstation, located just outside of Yarmouth.  Built in 1962, its unusual apple core design is eye-catching but was built this way for a practical reason – it can easier withstand the high winds whipping around its base.  The view of the Atlantic Ocean was spectacular but there are warning signs posted to watch out for rogue waves if you walk out too far on the rocks.  Several lives have been lost to these waves that can catch you unaware.  While there, we enjoyed tea and dessert at the Mug Up Tea Room – their bread pudding, whether traditional or chocolate, is wonderful. 

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We had an impromptu concert at Sidney's and Claudette's cottage.  Sidney joined in with his "ugly stick."

That evening we put on a mini-concert for Sidney, Claudette, Terry and Loretta.  We met another friend, Melvin.  Most of our ‘audience’ was unfamiliar with the dulcimers – we answered questions in between tunes.  After our ‘concert’, Terry and Galen sang and played their guitars, and Melvin played his mandolin.  Melvin is a professional musician who plays keyboards now and claims he hasn’t played the mandolin in fourteen years – you could have fooled us!  He was a fabulous player and did a wonderful job doing vocal harmonizing with some of the songs.  Sidney joined in singing as well as playing his ugly stick – hard to describe – it thumps and jangles and helps keep the beat.

As much as we would have loved to stay longer with Sidney and Claudette, it was time to move on and find new adventures.  But it will be hard to top this experience.  We’ve made new friends, thanks to Sidney’s ‘kidnapping’ us from WalMart.

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Another beautiful wood church, this one built in 1900.  Saint Anne-du-Ruisseau is an Acadian historic site.

On the way to Halifax, we stopped at Saint Anne-du-Ruisseau Church, an Acadian historic site.  This is another beautiful wooden church, built in 1900.  Interesting to note is that the building itself cost $15,000 to build and the paintings $18,000.  Unfortunately, the paintings cannot be retouched because today’s paint reacts with the original base paint, blurring the paintings. 

We also stopped at the Historic Acadian Village in West Pubnico.  Buildings here are authentic but have been relocated from elsewhere.  We visited several of the houses, learning about life pre-1920.  The most interesting stop was the boat shop where we met a recently retired lobster fisherman who showed us how lobster nets are repaired, how lobsters were caught in the original wood traps, that they had to be a certain size, that traps are tagged with the owner’s license number, and just about anything we wanted to know about the lobster industry.  Lobster season lasts about six months in this area of Nova Scotia.  The remainder of the year is spent repairing nets and traps and catching bait to be used during the next season. 

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Speaking of lobsters... This is a replica of the wooden lobster traps still used but giving way to metal cages.  Looks like this one trapped somebody.  I wonder who she is.

Our stop for the night was in Lockeport – a small town with the beautiful Crescent Beach.  The visitor center didn’t open for the season till the following day.  We saw no signs prohibiting parking and couldn’t find anyone to ask for permission to park.  We parked across the street from the center and settled in for the night.  The next morning, we learned from one of the center’s employees that overnight parking was prohibited but he didn’t want to roust us out at night.  For that, we are thankful!  During our short stay there, we enjoyed walking the beach and walking into town.

We are finishing out the month at Wayside Park in Glen Margaret, about 30 minutes from Halifax – we’ll be here at least a week.  Because it was a clear evening, Karen suggested we take a ride to see the lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove.  The last time they were here, it was totally fogged in.  It’s no wonder this is the most photographed lighthouse in Nova Scotia.  Perched on huge boulders, it has a commanding view of the ocean on all sides.  The village of Peggy’s Cove is postcard-pretty. 

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The lighthouse at Peggy's Cove is built on a granite bluff that overlooks the ocean.

The next day, we drove to Halifax to visit the Farmers’ Market, held year round on Saturdays. Located in the old brewery building, there are vendors everywhere – in every hallway, up and down stairs, under the stairs, open plazas – what a cornucopia of scents and smells.  There were vendors selling baked goods, fish, tea, coffee, wine, candy, fresh produce, plants, all sorts of ethnic booths selling their specialized cuisines, handmade crafts – if you can’t find it, you probably don’t need it. 

The month ended up on expensive note – the truck started acting up and had to be taken into the Ford dealer in Halifax.  Three hours and $750 later, the fuel injector harness was replaced.  It’s no fun having something break down but we are glad we were near enough to a Ford dealer to have it quickly repaired. 

If you think doing all that sightseeing in just a month was a little tiring, you are right.  Even with all we saw, we still missed seeing stuff but as Galen mentioned, you try to get a flavor of the area, and then move on to the next adventure.

Coming up in July:  Visiting Halifax and the surrounding area, including watching a performance of the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo; move on to North Sydney where we’ll make day trips to visit the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island, before boarding the ferry to Newfoundland.

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Is this what you thought it was?

 

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