Saturday, August 31, 2013

Cape Breton Photographs

Adele on the Cabot Trail

Waterfall and slide

Coastline from the trail

An angry sea

Adele with the guardian of Louisburg Fortress

The Governor's Quarters are to the left - enlisted men to the right

Dandies out perambulating

Mabel Bell, Adele and Alexander Graham Bell
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Monday, August 26, 2013

Baddeck, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

Originally inhabited by the First Nation Mi'kmawq (MicMac), Nova Scotia comprises of two islands Cape Breton (Ile Royale) and mainland Nova Scotia joined by the
Canso Causeway; Ile Royale was ruled by France while New Scotland (Nova Scotia) was under British rule. The MicMac people were friendly to all; we drove through several MicMac reservations some looked like they were doing very well and some not so well.
While the theme of Cape Breton remains predominantly Scottish it is interlaced with Acadian culture and the French language. Most citizens are however of Scottish and Irish descent they recognized our accents and made us very welcome. We stayed near a lovely town called Baddeck in an RV Park owned and run by a German family. When we arrived there were 3 police cars parked outside the office; an elderly lady had gone for a walk in the early morning, not returned so the police were called. Within the hour a helicopter was in the air, an incident/communications van set up and a bus load of Search & Rescue and other experts arrived. They searched till nightfall to no avail. As we were breakfasting the next morning a policewoman knocked on our door; they were checking all caravans and motorhomes and were very nice about it. Tom who has read too many murder mysteries had some great theories while Adele feared there was a weirdo in the RV Park! The helicopter returned several more communications vans were set up and of course, the local TV station turned up.
As planned we headed out to drive the Cabot Trail - all 148 miles – with frequent stops along the way at viewing points and a visit to a hotel which had a spectacular golf course, reminded Tom of Old Head, Kinsale with similar terrific views. This drive is heavily advertised as “the attraction” for us (from the West Coast of the US) it in no way compares to Highway 1 north or south of San Francisco, or for that matter with Big Sur or the Ring of Kerry in Ireland. There are some lovely viewing spots along the drive but one does not see the continuous beauty evident along the Californian coast.

On our return to the RV Park after a long day all is quiet, the vans and police are gone and we learned from our new neighbors that the old lady was found on the porch of a cabin 500 meters away shortly after we left in the morning - a very ordinary story - she just lost her way in a strange place.
Our next trip was to the nearby Gaelic College where we had lunch and were entertained at a Ceili for $15 each. This proved to be great value; we ate the "menu de jour” soup, lasagna, salad, desert and coffee while being entertained by students with music on the harp, the fiddle, the piano and the bagpipes with a little dancing thrown in as well. The College runs summer courses in the Scottish Gaelic language and Celtic music for students of all ages and it certainly looked like it is a roaring success as the dining room was full.

As Sunday was Acadian day and we were curious to see the French Fortress at Louisburg we drove across the island, we also wanted to compare it against Saint Augustine. Built by the French in the time of Louis X1V, subsequently captured and blown up by the British it was reconstructed by the Canadian Government starting in 1961 by out-of-work coal miners who were retrained in the crafts of carpentry, masonry, plumbing etc. It was a great day, so much was happening that we could not do it all, but the good road-warriors that we are we tried. We took the guided tour to orientate ourselves and learned that a fortress walls were built surrounding a town to defend it - a fort stands alone to defend military buildings. There’s a lovely chapel in the Officers’ quarters; we learned that a chapel is incorporated into a building and a church stands alone. All the interpreters/guides were in period costume and bilingual; as you can imagine on Acadian Day there were lots of French speakers in the crowd. Of course cannons boomed and muskets were fired and to add to the noise of the day there was an Acadian concert with French songs being sung. We enjoyed our Acadian day and drove leisurely back along the shores of the Bras d'Or - Adele translated this as the Golden Arm, Tom prefers Bras d'Or! Go figure!
The weather has been a very pleasant surprise as we were prepared for an Irish summer; here it was hot and sunny. We walked around the town of Baddeck a few times and visited the Alexander Graham Bell Museum. Our knowledge of Bell was that he was the inventor of the telephone, how wrong we were he was an inquisitive, serial inventor including hearing aids, airplanes, the hydrofoil, desalinization etc.; in fact he continued to experiment up to his death. Bell’s grandfather was hugely instrumental in his formation, a teacher of the deaf and the inventor of a written language for deaf people he encouraged Alexander to also become a teacher for the deaf. Mabel, Alexander Graham Bell’s wife, the only daughter of wealthy parents was a private pupil of his; on her 18th birthday she sought her parents’ approval to tell Alexander that she loved him and ask him to marry her. She financed his early telephone inventions and when Bell Laboratories was successful Alexander, keeping a few shares signed the majority of his shares over to Mabel - at one stage back in the early 1900’s the shares in the Bell Laboratories were worth over $900. We spent over 3 hours in the museum and were one of the last to leave.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Cap Pele, NB & Pictou, NS

Cap Pele on the Northern Shore of New Brunswick was not on our radar and went there on the recommendation of a local who we met at St Martin’s. Very much a French speaking area, in fact we did not know that New Brunswick is the only Province which is officially bilingual. We were at Plage Gagnon a lovely beach with dark red sand and where the tides ebbs very far and flows in quickly. There is no depth to the water – which was quite warm - to get wet from no more than knee deep Adele fell backwards into the water and did the crocodile stroke! We were looking across the waters of Northumberland Strait at Prince Edward Island, PEI as they call it. The proprietors of the RV Park used to own and run a hotel in Scots Valley between Los Gatos and Santa Cruz, CA. When we arrived we badly needed groceries and found a wonderful supermarket; as this was a French area it had a local bakery with lovely bread and pies. Except for our final afternoon we had beautiful weather, then it rained which was a good time to catch up on our blogs.

From there we drove in very windy weather onto Nova Scotia; first stop was the Visitors Center set on the top of a hill and with magnificent views for miles around. We picked up lots of information and decided this to be one of the best information centers we have come across. Pictou was our destination simply because it is half way to our next destination; the requisite number of miles we like to travel in one journey is around 150 miles. A charming old port town Pictou's claim to fame is that it is the birthplace of New Scotland; in 1773 a group of Scottish tradesmen arrived on a Dutch boat called the Hector to start a new life in a new land and they had the money and resources to do so, there’s a replica of the "Hector " in the harbor. Once again we were blessed with wonderful weather, certainly not what we expected but Pictou is in line with Bordeaux, France!
On our first afternoon, purely by chance we decided to visit the McCulloch Heritage Center; a treasure throve of information, which was hosting a lecture on Scottish history given by an Ophthalmologist John Hamilton, Scottish history is one of his many hobbies. We found his talk both fascinating and interesting; he started with the usurper William of Orange (Protestant) who was brought to Britain from Holland by Parliament to take the throne from Charles 2nd (Catholic) by force; many battles ensued including the infamous Battle of the Boyne in Ireland. We informed the gathering that it is not over yet in Northern Ireland 400 years later! What really resonated with us was the often common and shared history between the Scottish highland people and the people of Ireland. The evening before we left Pictou we went to a Ceili featuring one really great lady fiddle player, a man who sang like Tommy Makeham and lovely Scottish dancing by local children all dressed up in tartan costumes; this was held in the deCoste Centre and was very good. While there we met a couple who had sailed up the Hudson River to Lake Champlain, through the canal to the St Lawrence River and on into the estuary and Gulf. Pictou is on the Gulf of St Lawrence. We agreed to look for them again as they were planning to sail to Baddeck which is our next stop.

Sadly, Adele’s Canon Camera purchased in May 2012 to replace another Canon Camera (which would not download) gave up the ghost (the shutter will not open). We contacted Canon who informed us that as it was over one year old they accepted no responsibility. We now have to buy another Camera; it will not be a Canon!

Friday, August 16, 2013

St Martin's & Fundy Trail Photographs

Purple Finch

Fuller Falls

View of Fundy Bay from the trail

One of St Martin's covered bridges

St Martin's Lighthouse, now its Visitors Center

Rock Face!
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St Martin’s, New Brunswick

As we were checking in to the RV Park Tom spotted a sign for a Pitch and Putt tournament the following day; so Adele signed up to play there and then. After we had hooked up RamblingRover she headed off to play a practice round on the course. Tournament day dawned bright and beautiful – so we were told – anyways the intrepid Adele nearly missed out as she was last to arrive on the first tee where 14 people were waiting for her to turn up at 10 am - she didn't realize this was a serious annual tournament; totaling 36 holes, 18 in the morning and another 18 after lunch. The scores were added up and much to her delighted surprise Adele won the Ladies trophy; that was a quick introduction to many people in the RV Park who hailed Adele for the next 4 days as Lady Champ! That night the Park had a fireworks display, Adele thought they were for her – they were to celebrate New Brunswick day which we think might be the first Monday in August (really it’s an excuse to have a long weekend in August). We were celebrating early.

The little town of St Martin’s has two covered bridges; another attraction is that the tide ebbs for miles out of the harbor at low tide, so much so that we never saw water in the harbor anytime we passed. A part of the development of the Fundy Trail starts in St Martin’s just past one of its two covered bridges so on Sunday we drove along the trail which has some beautiful views of the Bay of Fundy and an Interpretive Center from which we went down to the Salmon River and watched hundreds if not thousands of salmon swimming upstream, it was wonderful a wonderful sight to watch. The last time we saw so many salmon was when hanging over Salmon Weir Bridge in Galway, Ireland. The Bay of Fundy has many salmon hatcheries; it’s particularly suited for farming as the bay is washed out twice a day by the high tides. We went to Music on the Trail that afternoon featuring a very gifted fiddle player who, when he discovered we were Irish, played an Irish gig and Danny Boy especially for us. Once against we were very popular with people from the audience who came up to us after the concert to tell us of their Irish ancestry; we’re finding there are many of Irish descent in the Maritimes.
However, our lasting memory of St Martin’s will be that the GPS told us to turn right out of the RV Park following the directions we ended up on a logging road (this is a dirt road with lots of large stones and pots holes; we had to keep going for about 4 miles before we found a place to turn the RV, tow dolly and car. Our teeth rattled, so did the pots and pans, thankfully no damage as we had battened down the hatches as per usual before taking to the road. The back of the RV and the Bug looked like we had been off-roading; which we were. We passed the RV Park again, caught the freeway a half a mile on. An experience never to be forgotten; now we can laugh but at the time we were worried - perhaps no more Blogs!!

Monday, August 12, 2013

St Andrews-by-the-Sea, New Brunswick Photographs

Celtic Cross commerating Irish immigrants

Algonquin Hotel

Fort Tipperary

Adele on three-quarter mile causeway at low tide

Historic Courthouse

Interior of beautiful Anglican/Episcopal Church

Block house fortification
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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Searsport, Castine & Bar Harbor Photographs

95 feet in the sky...painting!

Captain Tom at the helm

Thunderstorm in Castine at 3 pm

Music on the waterfront, same say at 5 pm

Interior of one of the Bar Harbor Clubs

On the harbor trail

Free - sponsored by LL Bean shuttle bus 
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Friday, August 9, 2013

St Andrews-by-the-Sea, New Brunswick, Canada

St Andrews-by-the-Sea is an interesting, lovely town on a peninsula just over the US/Canadian border which has a fascinating history. In the 18th century the north east coast of Maine was populated mostly by United Empire Loyalists; at the beginning of the War of Independence in 1775 many of them feeling that they would remain under British rule and be safe moved further north. They assumed that the Penobscot River would be the northern border of the US and developed Castine (south of Bar Harbor - see Searsport blog) building a harbor and large fine homes and were all set to prosper. They were wrong! When the boundary lines were drawn the St. Croix River about a hundred miles north marked the border. Believe it or not…the loyalists dismantled their homes put them on barges and ships and transported them to what is now St Andrews-by-the Sea, some of those houses still stand today on the Main Street. The St Croix River is the nearest point of Canada which is 45 degrees north; Maine’s northernmost point is at 48 degrees north - an interesting note Ireland is between 52 and 56 degrees north.

Our RV Park run by the Kiwanis’s for the benefit of the town is at the very eastern end of the peninsula. Just across the road on a lush green lawn is a large Celtic Cross commentating the Irish immigrants who arrived, more especially during the potato famine. On arrival they were quarantined on Hospital Island to recover from their many illnesses; typhoid, whooping cough, diphtheria, cholera, coughing blood disease (TB) and of course starvation. Two other Irish people from Cork were at the Cross at the same time. One afternoon we went to the Town archives where they had an amazing volume of research data to see if there were any Horgan or Cheevers listed - there were none. We were shown the Town 1851 census listing 8,000 people from Ireland, 700 from England, 350 from Scotland, for some reason there was no record of people from Wales. For years afterwards (all documented) the Irish came in their thousands; one member of a family would emigrate, make enough money to send back for the passage of a family member so as such the new immigrants were not a burden on the town and were welcome. We discovered great empathy for the Irish in St Andrews-by-the-Sea.

St Andrews-by-the-Sea was one of the first seaside resort towns developed in Canada with the spectacular Algonquin Hotel built in the Tudor style on the highest point of the town and opened in 1889; it has 234 rooms, offered salt water baths and clean fresh air. The hotel is currently being refurbished as a Conference Center and is due to re-open in September. One day Adele went to a Knitting Club in the RV Park and met a lady who remembers the "rich" people coming to their summer cottages in town and being chauffeur driven about ¼ of a mile to the town shops. They never mixed with the locals, developed their own private beach, indoor pool, outdoor pool and gymnasium. She knew that was how the rich meant it to stay; the 1929 crash and following depression in which the rich lost their money changed that.
We just loved this little town and its friendly people. A great welcome to Canada!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Acadia, Mount Desert Island and Bar Harbor

Some of you will recall that we had been to Bar Harbor two years ago. This is such lovely part of Maine that we just had to return; the island is a National Park with free shuttle buses sponsored by LL Bean, the shuttles cover the entire Island.
The day we arrived was a lovely sunny day and we enjoyed a relaxing time in the RV Park which is beside the sea. Neither of us ventured into the water but Adele did put her foot in, thought it not too cold but never quite got around to jumping in! We had been sleeping on top of the sheets until now, the first night in Bar Harbor we got under the top sheet, the second night under sheet and blanket and the third night we added a summer comforter (duvet). The next day was so wet that we took a trip to the nearby LL Bean outlet. Adele purchased 3 pairs of corduroys @ $1.25 a pair and received an extra 30% off at the registrar - 3 winter pants for less than $3 and yes they fit perfectly. Who can beat that?

On the next day which was beautiful and sunny, we took the shuttle bus into Bar Harbor, walked around the town, enjoyed the buzz of the busy little seaside/port town and took a walk along the harbor trail. We also went on a self-guided walking tour of the towns historic district where there are plaques relating the tale of particular building of interest. The town had several clubs for the rich one which was called a Reading Club; it is said that most reading was done through the bottom of a glass and that is how the rich people managed prohibition.  
The weather was wet again the following day so we scheduled our outing between showers and caught two different buses and went as far as the second bus would take us; many cyclists who got caught in the rain boarded the bus like drowned rats. On our return to Bar Harbor we had dinner in Paddy’s Irish Bar served by a girl from Co Down, Northern Ireland.

The following day we headed north to St Andrews-by-the Sea, New Brunswick Canada.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Mainly Maine Photographs

Says it all!

Chow time in the woods

Beaver Dam


Partridge checking the way for her chicks

Moose loose!

Beaver swimming across pond

Just love this one!

Moonlight in Maine
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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Searsport, Maine

Although we lost a day to the delays in the RV repairs, we still had the luck of the Irish on our side. Tom puts such effort into finding RV Parks in areas that Adele selects that staying on that extra day in Winthrop could have had a knock on effect for a month. Luckily, our hosts at Searsport Shores Ocean Resort understood why we were reducing the number of nights we needed a site with the comment “drive safely!” Summer is the high season (and only season this far north) so as RV Parks are very busy; having learned our lesson last year we are now reserved right up to August 31st. It’s amazing the number of people from around other New England States and further south who come north for the cooler weather and no humidity – we’ve seen license plates from Maryland, Virginia, the Carolina’s, Georgia and Florida. Of course our South Dakota causes people to look twice; it is amusing to watch from inside the RV.

The Penobscot Marine Museum is located in Searsport and we spent a very pleasant morning viewing its exhibits which are housed in several buildings, some in former Sea Captains homes, in a two block area of the town. From this we learned just how busy a port this was in the 1700’s and 1800’s; at one time the town boasted of over 200 Sea Captains. Going through one Sea Captains home (with a very informative local historian as docent) we learned that each voyage was a Corporation in its own right and the Captain was head of the corporation while at sea. We discovered that he also had investments in as many as five other trading boats (Corporations) - just like today they all diversified their investments. Another interesting tidbit was that the Captains wife sometimes accompanied their husbands on voyages. At times, then the Captains whole family was on board and…if the Captain died the wife took command and control!.  In another building there was a beautiful collection of art, many of which were scenes of Liverpool, England a major sea port in the 1700’s and 1800’s. This was quite a valuable collection for such a little town. In a barn there were many different smaller boats displayed and tribute to Lifeboat men; these men had to be the bravest men on the planet at the time – imagine rowing out into a storm or hurricane to rescue people in foundering boats.
The prize for the best sight of the day went to a man painting the top of the church steeple some 95ft in the sky! Adele got dizzy looking up at him; he was up there for the 3 + hours we were walking around.

From Searsport we drove around Penobscot Bay (how many of you read “The Hunt for Red October”? or, saw the movie?) well, it was into Penobscot Bay that Jack Ryan the CIA operative directed Red October. We visited the town of Castine which we had heard was pretty; it had been a United Empire Loyalist town during the American Revolutionary War, as was most of eastern Maine. We walked around exploring the town which is on a bluff sloping down towards the harbor. It started to rain; a deluge really, so we headed into a harbor-side restaurant whose ceiling/roof was decorated with paper money of all denominations. We had "linner" (our name for a combined lunch and dinner). Just as we finished the skies cleared and the sun shone once more. Castine was hosting a “Music on the Waterfront” that evening so we gathered our seats and enjoyed a group of old guys reliving the 60’s, marvelous! The perfect ending to a lovely day!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Mainly Maine

From Kennebunkport we traveled to Eileen and Carl's house, arriving around lunch time; we emptied our freezer drove the RV to nearby Auburn for a service and went to Pedro O'Hara's for lunch. We I think the name tells the story! This was a nice day, hot but not humid which we spent catching up on one another's news. Carl and Eileen had been our last guests in St Augustine and left the morning of the “great flood”. Overnight 9" of rain fell, we could hear the downpour but felt secure in the condo; we woke to water in the kitchen and dining room, the garage looked like an indoor swimming pool complete with a Blue Bug! The roads were flooded and the forecast was for more rain and flooding so Eileen and Carl departed for Maine. We were happy that we did not own the condo, it was very damp when we handed back the keys and flew off to Ireland two days later.

To welcome us to Maine Eileen bought six lobsters (what else in Maine?) so Eileen, Adele and Tom enjoyed a lobster fix over the next few days; lobster rolls, lobster dinners and a lobster picnic yummy! Carl took us out in his boat on Annabessacook Lake, just across the road from their house. Eileen, Adele and Tom enjoyed swimming from the boat, Tom (not a great lover of being in the water swimming – rather be on the water sailing) floated off at one stage; unfortunately he has a shoulder injury so he had to suffer the embarrassment of having Adele pull him back to the boat. Of course, Carl could have just coasted over but they all had a laugh at Tom’s expense! Eileen and Carl’s house is in very close proximity to the lake where we saw several loons and could hear their plaintive, beautiful yet haunting cry as they called to one another at night.
What a change in weather the next afternoon - wet, rain pouring from the roof of the house – it was the first real heavy rain we had seen since the “big flood” in St Augustine. We kept our selves busy making cards and watched a movie starring John Travolta on a motorbike adventure from St Louis to Los Angeles - very funny! The garage called to say that they had discovered a wheel brake-seal problem and informed us that it would be Monday before the RV would be ready for pick up.

Carl had often promised Adele he would take her to North Maine Woods where he goes hunting with his buddies, on this visit she held him to it. Sunday Eileen packed a picnic and we went on safari into the North Maine wilderness hoping to see Moose. Adele owes Carl big time after this; it was a wonderful memorable day, we drove north through Dexter to Greenville a lovely little town at the bottom of Moosehead Lake where we watched water planes landing and taking off, there was also lots of boating activity. The town also had lovely shops to browse; Carl bought an anchor for his boat and Adele a beautiful T-shirt.

Then came the safari part - we drove into the woods on the logger trail, bumpy dirt roads. We stopped and had our picnic lunch and then started Moose hunting - by car! The first one we saw was at the side of a river with her calf in broad daylight. The scenery here was spectacular and we had an expert guide in Carl. We drove to Kokadjo on First Roach Pond and even further north to Ripogenus Lake and Dam. The dam is in a beautiful white water gorge, it was a little late in the day for us to see rafters; this is also the beginning of one of the many Penobscot River branches. Still in search of Moose we drove even further north to the Telos checkpoint – we were almost to Canada! All the while we were driving through land privately owned by the logging companies who allow free access to the public.
Wildlife sightings included a partridge with her chicks - in fact we waited while the chicks crossed the road. Dusk was now falling and we spotted another moose, then a beaver swimming across a pond; the road was partly flooded because of their dam. Then we saw another moose dash across the road in front of us and yet another moose in a river as night fell. There were rabbits galore dashing and darting hither and tither, Carl had to be careful not to run over them. We finally got back to the Barth home at midnight – in all Carl had driven 400 miles. What a day? Memorable and exciting!

The RV was not ready for pick-up Monday morning. Finally at 4pm we received a call to say the repairs were completed. We collected the RV, went out for a steak dinner together and stayed another night. Tuesday morning it was raining so we delayed our departure until after lunch by then the rain had become a drizzle and we hoped the weather would improve.
It did!

Kennebunkport Photographs

Eileen and Carl in Allisons

What floats your boat?

Adele, Eileen and Tom with harbor in background

Tom in outdoor Sanctuary with Church in background

A Maine summer cottage!
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