September 13, 2017

Here’s a quick snap of Esme finding her first geocache in New Brunswick.  I chuckle with the pictures we took, and the many smiles we shared, and what fun we had.

Directly below Caryl and myself; [and to the right] Alan and Olly Douglas.

What a WHALE of a day!

Caryl and I talk about our vacation to Nova Scotia with friends and family all-the-time; but to the family that shared these experiences firsthand, I owe my utmost understanding of what traveling together means.

When we went whale watching this day, sure we saw whales, but what hit me was the immensity of the water, the tight quarters on board this, our tall ship, and how we relied upon each other, as those traveling half-way around the world must have depended upon each other for their very survival.  What a fabulous day this was … I, as my wife Caryl, will remember it always!  Thanks…

We’ll be back!

Rob W.

September 12, 2017

If you count the Friday, the 1st day of September, is Day #1 of our vacation in the maritimes — then today would be the twelfth day!  We started the day waking in the Rodd Moncton, NB.  We don’t have a heavy driving day today!  So there was no rush in getting our continental breakfast, taking the luggage into the lobby, and checking out.  Once in the car, the ladies decided that just by the Walmart, where we needed supplies: water, sweets & ice — we would be right-next-door to Pandora.  We all know what Pandora is — and the prices in Canada are “so reasonable!”  ‘Eh’

I took the time to gas up the car, and look for a geocache in the area.  Getting back together, we gathered around Tim’s for a coffee … admiring our new Pandora charms and bracelets.  We were now ready to head to Saint John, but before leaving the area, we had to checkout Magnetic Hill.  For those unfamiliar with this “Tourist Trap,” Magnetic Hill is not really magnetic at all.  [Spoiler Alert!]  

You stop on what looks like a “downward slope” while in your vehicle — you’re told to put the car in “neutral“ and take your foot off the brake.  You expect the car to roll forward “down” the hill — when in fact it rolls backwards “UP” the hill.  It is ALL an optical illusion that is quite a bit of fun!!  Above Magnetic Hill and a better view of things … Below is where a geocache was hidden.  

Some great geocaching “here abouts!”  Look in the tree to the right for a clue.  We were able to stop for lunch at the DQ — there just so-happened to be a geocache close by.  We were stay-ing in a fabulous B&B called the Shadow Lawn Inn, Rothesay, NB [just minutes/miles from Saint John.]  You’re correct in assuming there was no elevator to take our luggage to our respective rooms on the upper floor.  Thankfully, there was lots of help from the staff.

In downtown Saint John we came across Steamers Lobster Co. where Esme and I each devoured a crab feast.  We were able to drive around and see the night activity, before returning to Shadow Lake Inn where Esme invited us to join her, in the courtyard, for a bottle of wine.  It was very warm and comfortable for this time of year!  Enjoy the pictures below taken at the location of “The Great Boat Race” Kennebecasis River, 1871.

… then tomorrow and day 13: Tall ship whale watching!!!

Rob W.

September 11, 2017

It might appear strange — on the one day in which as a group we took more than two-hundred photographs a movie clips — to start with a picture of our hotel room at the Rodd: Moncton, New Brunswick.  The reason is quite simple!  We had one event planned for the day, rain or shine, and that was to take in Hopewell Rocks: both at low-tide and again at high-tide.  (period)  Waking up in the Rodd was great … there was no rush … we had lots of time to collect an extra layer of clothing for today’s adventure … and we were enjoying a relaxing continental breakfast downstairs.  The drive to “see the rocks” was about an hour away.

Sitting at our breakfast table together — we remembered this day — and what we were each doing and where we each were, when the planes struck the World Trade Towers in New York, NY sixteen years ago today!  We took a moment together to reflect on “just how truly blessed we have been.”  September 11, 2017 and we’re today going to visit the Hopewell Rock National Site.

Here we are together half-way around the world on vacation — no one had gotten ill or injured, everyone planned and contributed to each day’s events, each had taken a turn at navigating, and everyone was active in the day-to-day decisions required!  [Today’s weather forecast was for increasing rainy periods … with light to moderate winds.]

We talked about today’s Hopewell Rock National Site adventure FULLY aware that the weather could turn against us at anytime!  [Cat out-of-the-bag — this day would turn out to be one of our best, not too hot, not too cold.  Very complete!]  I tend to say that at lot … truth was … each day build on the last.  This vacation proved itself over and over-again to be great!

Your entrance fee for the Hopewell Rocks is valid for two consecutive days.  We got an early enough start to descend the stairs to walk on the ocean floor; returning up the many steps to the higher ground — breaking for lunch; then hours later, descend the same set-of-stairs yet again — this time putting our feet into the ocean as the tide came in.  We were able to learn all this upon arrival at the information centre, noting the proximity of the toilets, restaurant and souvenir shop.  We were on a mission — a very important pee-pee break — to be honest!  There are no toilets once you are down-those-steps!

We will be gathering back here in about 3 hours for lunch.  Caryl and I will chose to have a lobster sandwich!  It will be simply delicious.  We would not have had that choice back home.  In Calgary it would have been most likely beef-on-a-bun…

We listened-in as our guide touched on some of the precautions and items of particular interest to most quests.  (snap below taken when the tide was out!)

The time span between low and high tide is about 6 hours and 13 minutes.  This presents a unique opportunity to walk on the ocean’s floor from 3 hours before low tide until 3 hours after, so it’s important to check the tide tables.  Although the picture below was not taken at (its maximum) high tide, the ocean has once again returned and the tide is rising.  The water is about 50% from its peak!

On average, the ocean floor at our site is completely accessible from one end to the other (2kms./1.25 miles) 2.5 hours before and after low tide, 90% accessible 3 hours on either side of low tide and 80% accessible 3.5 hours on either side of low tide.  There are varying degrees of accessibility up until 4 hours on either side of low tide.  These time periods can fluctuate somewhat depending on certain variables.  

When we left Moncton this morning it was raining lightly, however, when we returned to Moncton later in the evening … there was no reason to carry an umbrella or wear a hat when we walked down Main Street towards Gusto’s Italian Grill for supper.  

We enjoyed superb “Italian” meals, myself enjoying spaghetti and meatballs: and for dessert we each choose a huge slice of cheesecake, each making the difficult decision of which to pick.  Congrats everyone … nothing was left on your plates!

REW

September 10, 2017

It’s time to leave PEI and travel west to New Brunswick.  This will be the third new province discovered on this Maritime vacation.  I’ve been looking forward to this journey across the Confederation Bridge, and had looking without success, for a vantage point to photograph the bridge.

Unfortunately, we were unable to locate such a spot or to even obtain a post card.  Fortunately last year my buddy made the same journey and was able to capture some great shots of the bridge before traveling across it.

We have so much to see in New Brunswick, but taking into account our late arrivals at the places we had booked accommodation, we decided to check-in first, then sightsee.  We arrived in Monton, checked into the Rodd Hotel, unpacked our bags and met in the lobby, all before 1 PM.

What we were about to discover next — was, from my limited understanding of the area — a bit far-fetched.  Supposedly, two or three locals were going to ride the Tidal Bore on surfboards as the wave came in and was to flow up-the-river.  Maybe you understand what we were about to witness, but I assure you — I did not! 
Sure enough, as the tide began to enter the narrow mouth of the river, a swell of water — a tidal wave formed — and just as our surfers were awaiting this wave, they mounted their boards and rode the wave past our observation spot on the boardwalk.  I did not fulling understand what I just witnessed until we went to Hopewell Rocks National Site and looked at the topological drawing of the area in question.  More on that tomorrow.

We took our pictures, and shot our videos — then headed out for lunch just down Main Street.

After lunch, we each went our separate ways, deciding to meet after in the evening for dinner.  I decided to take the Kia to the carwash and checkout a couple of geocaches in the area.  Dropped Caryl off at Chapters.

Esme, as we found out later, changed her upstairs-room to be right-in-front of the swimming pool.  We went for supper together, and we’re all back at the Rodd for a good-night’s sleep.

REW

September 9, 2017

Last night was not the best … but today “promises” to be MUCH better.  As we walked through the Shining Waters Inn‘s lobby toward the front office [which was quite busy], we met up with Esme, Olly and Alan.  Breakfast first, business can wait!

We strolled along the pathway dotted with cottages, on this bright sunny morning, towards the “Shining Waters Restaurant for our inclusive breakfast,” Esme said she encountered a household fly flying around in her room when she woke this morning, joking that we might want to add it to our collection.  Apart from last night, our room was “fly-less” when Caryl & I got up!  Alan and Olly looked puzzled as Caryl explained our “banging about in the room.”  Alan said, he and Olly thought Caryl and I were re-arranging the two-single beds into one!  They’re thinking was, WE were obviously quite anxious TO DO IT … and that the noise meant we were thumping and bumping around, enjoying ourselves.  “Wink, wink!”

Breakfast was excellent … and later when we returned to the Inn, then speaking to the proprietor at the front desk, we were offered and received  “partial compensation!”  [Unfortunately it IS an older structure … and the screen fell off … and nobody before had mentioned the problem(s) we had…]  CASE CLOSED.

(Pictured left) the girls standing outside Anne of Green Gables.

Located about a kilometer from where we were staying … the “Lucy Maud Montgomery ” National Historic Site, Gift Shop and Interpretive Centre.   Author Lucy Maud Montgomery was born in P.E.I. in 1874.  (Below) a few additional pictures taken inside the structure and of the yard behind.  She passed away in Toronto, Ontario in 1942.

(To the right) a picture of the three-sisters walking along the trail of Sentier Haunted Woods where much of the substance of Montgomery’s writing material was imagined.  Looks like they have had a great morning…

Alan and I set off for the beach and coastline in search of adventure and possibly a geocache or two.  It was quite surprising to hear that the crumbling sandstone northern coast of Prince Edward Island is eroding at the rate of about 1 metre per year.

We walked about for several hours, and in leaving the area had trekked across private property.  Within minutes we were picked up by a tourist couple in their vehicle and driven back safely to Shining Waters Inn and Cottages, just missing the girls as they had finished their National Historic Treasure and now were walking down towards the beach.

Alan and I returned to geocaching — locating one in the local cemetery, another on the grounds of the Cavendish Tourist Centre, and still another in the bushes behind the petrol station.  [We even managed to grab lunch at the ice-cream take-away / fish & chips shoppe.]

When we all met back together around 5:00 pm at Shining Waters, we had each eaten lunch at various places and at various times.  We decided to “freshen up” and then head-out in the KIA for dinner at the Blue Mussel Cafe.  My buddy Bill Jones on a previous vacation to PEI had mentioned what a great dining experience was about to await us!!!

Not a word of a lie … the best place … hands down for fresh seafood and a true dining experience.  First we had drinks in the bar while our table was being cleared, then we moved to our table for appetizers.  I choose to order a plate of mussels, while the 6_foot catch of the day, [8 oz. portions of halibut] were being prepared.  If that were not enough, we each finished our meal with a fabulous dessert, to be chosen by each individually.  Simply delicious!

Returning to the Inn, we said our “good-nights” knowing morning would mean leaving PEI for New Brunswick.

REW

September 8, 2017

Today will be bitter-sweet.  We leave Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and a fabulous visit with Joan and her family.  Here is a good morning view from McIntyre Cottages, as we are checking out.

On today’s plan is Break-fast / Banking / and Bell in Baddeck … The first stop was at a great brunch place called “Three Doors Down.”  Very nice spot considering we had no food provisions in our cottages.

After breakfast I had some banking to attend to … it is not wise to travel half-way across the country and not notify your bank that you’ll be accessing bank machines and moving money about with your online banking apps.  Took awhile to prove who I was and what I had been attempting to do.

The rest of the group checked out the Royal Alexander Graham Bell Museum and historic site.  Thankfully lots of pictures were taken in the museum, as I was tied up in the bank for quite-some-time!  All is well.  We left Baddeck, and Cape Breton Island now heading toward the PEI ferry.

One stop along the way …  Pictou, Nova Scotia is home of the Hector.  [On September 15, 1773, approximately two hundred Highland Scots arrived aboard the ship Hector.  This began a wave of Scottish immigration to Nova Scotia.]

We were able to quickly get inside the information center.  A replica of the ship was docked just along side.  I slipped away for a minute or two, locating a geocache just across the street.

Once again we all settled in the KIA for the short drive to the Pictou ferry to Wood Islands, PEI.  It was later in the day that we hoped as we boarded the ferry.  Unfortunately, dusk was falling quickly as we drove past Charlottetown toward Cavendish.  We had to travel (in the dark) to our destination — Cavendish Lodge where another set of rooms were awaiting.  [Sadly we never did get back to visit Charlottetown.]

Good news and bad news: we arrived safe, checked in, got our breakfast vouchers for the onsite restaurant, but didn’t take our luggage to our respective rooms.  Cavendish is small, and by the time we arrived, all the local restaurants and eating establishments were closed.  We opted to drive to a Subway location about 35 minutes away.  Successfully arriving before closing, we had a good fill and drove another 35 minutes back to Cavendish.

Literally lugging our bags to our rooms, we said our “goodnights” to each other in the hallway and went into our respective rooms.  [Not the best of times for Caryl and myself.]

Someone had left the window in the bathroom of our room open during the day … there was no screen on the window, and as such, the room was filled with “household black flies” of all different sizes.  With few options, one of which was to spend the night sleeping in the Sedona, we “swatted the flies” then placing them in a clear plastic bag.  No word of a lie — there were over thirty black corpses now resting in the garbage.  [The room was now ready for us to rest, however, we did not unpack a thing!]  As the office was now closed … and being exhausted, we vowed to deal with this in the morning.  Turning out the light … we decided to not get under-the-covers and just lied-on-top-of-the-bed.

REW

September 7, 2017

Well today we wake in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

The sun is rising as we look east while sitting on the porch from our [McIntyres] cottage.  Except for our freshly brewed Tim Horton coffee, my wife and I are starving as we await our sister-cottage-travel-eases to join us.  [Normally we would have supplied our respective cottages with enough breakfast goodies — however, this was not the case.  Rounding up the troops — we’re off to Baddeck, NS for a “paid” breakfast.]

We are to meet with Joan and Dione at the base, our starting point today, of the Cabot Trail around 11:00 a.m.; giving use ample time to fuel the ourselves and the KIA.  [Worst breakfast I’ve ever eaten away from home, I’m sure.  Twenty-seven-dollars of pure crap…]  My own fault for not doing something about it then … than complaining about it now!  Oh well … we have about a 45-minute drive to our rendezvous.  Lots of room for Joan and Dione to switch to one vehicle, the Sedona.  Next stop, the Trail Gift Shop and time for me to go in search of a geo-cache or two.  [No such luck … non close bye anyway/anyhow … however … up yonder there might be something!]

At Tim Hortons yesterday, Kierra mentioned a hidden Gypsum Lake that was an old quarry at one time.  Anyone up for a hike?  Here’s Dione checking it out for us.  Joan and Olly opted to stay back with the KIA while the rest-of-us climbed up to the lake.  See why Kierra would share this secret with us … it was fab!  Yes we got our geocache!

Back down the path to rejoin Joan and Olly, we piled once again into the Sedona.  Only a short distance now along the Cabot Trail to The Doryman Pub & Grill, Cheticamp, NS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good fun!  Good food!  Good beer!  Good talk!  Good day!  Still more to see!  Off we go once again, but first a short pee-pee break!  We will be going further east to Pleasant Bay, NS before stopping.  From this point we’ll be coming back down, returning Joan and Dione to their vehicle.  It has been absolutely fabulous.  [I know we have just eaten, but we have a long drive ahead of us today and tomorrow, as we’ll be leaving Cape Breton and our “cottages” to travel via ferry to P.E.I.]

Oh, I almost forgot to tell-you-all … When we got back to Baddeck, we went out for dinner at the Baddeck Lobster Supper, where Alan and I shared a lobster, Caryl and Olly shared a steak, and we all tried a bucket of mussels together.  Esme had her own lobster to eat, but Alan was not sure with a whole lobster, so agreed to split mine.  The meal was a lot of fun as we tried new taste sensations together!

REW

September 6, 2017

Meeting family for the first time can be interesting.  “Will they like me?  Will we get along … how well will we get along?”

Planning a two-week road trip can be a bit daunting.  Implementing those plans when they intersect with real people’s lives … family people … that go to their day jobs, but now you want to meet, and they want to meet with you!  Add in a course correction or two, take in the sites, and to still arrive on time.  Where?  When?  We are meeting who?  Siblings and children of a cousin “neither-has-ever met before today” … now that’s exciting.  It’s even better when the smiles and hugs are genuine.  I don’t know who it was within our group who said it first, “But why wouldn’t we?  We come from good stock!”  I can’t argue with that: The WILLIAM’S family heritage logic…

Here are the specifics of the day as they unfolded … if I get it wrong, I’m sure I will be made to make it right!

We piled into the KIA soon after enjoying our continental breakfast, and checking out of the Chocolate Lake “Best Western.”  Yes, all our luggage was onboard, as we headed east toward Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.  We had a timed stop and meet-up in Antigonish [Tim Hortons], NS with Liann and her daughter Kierra.

Liann is Dione’s sister, whom we met at the airport Saturday when we arrived, and again on Sunday, when we had lunch together.  [Monday we travelled to Liverpool, Tuesday we came back to Halifax, and today, you guessed it is Wednesday.]

We piled into the KIA for a second time, after saying our goodbyes and exchanging even more hugs.  We were informed while visiting in Antigonish that we should not eat anything more as [cousin] Joan and [her daughter] Dione were awaiting our arrival with a “big spread.”  Joan lives in a lovely home, “back in the woods.”

Not exactly, the best of explanations, but it will suit this driver’s tale.  The roads were great, the directions clear, but we still managed to miss the driveway … no problem … spoke to a few neighbors … and off we were again!  This time we didn’t miss the sign.  [Cousin Joan, pictured center below, said she had not see any “outside family” for forty-seven-years!]

Joan was wonderful.  Her hospitality shone throughout … Lady!  You had nothing to worry about.  We all loved you!  I’m sure we could have stayed much later than we did, but unfortunately, we needed to check-in with the proprietors’ of the McIntyre Cottages, located just up the road from Baddeck, NS.  We again unloaded our luggage from the vehicle, checked out our respective cottages, and retired for evening.  Tomorrow morning, after breakfast, we meet up with Joan and Dione to travel the Cabot Trail together in the spacious Sedona.  [Stay tuned into tomorrow when we share our spectacular road trip together.]

REW

September 5, 2017

I may get a bit of flak for saying this, but the best part of the vacation is coming up.  We woke for a complimentary hot breakfast at the Liverpool Best Western, packed our bags, and loaded them into the Sedona.  Today is a sunny day … a great day to explore around town.

Alan and myself went off in search of two specific geocaches.  We located and logged our finds before rejoining the “three sisters.”  Here are a couple of photos around Liverpool, NS.

After checking out the tourist information, local museums, and the area’s lighthouse, we gathered our thoughts, and a few mementos at the gift shop and coffee shop.  Realizing the drive back to Halifax for our 1:00 PM appoint-ment was not going to happen … and after thinking about cancelling … Esme called the Segway/Halifax tour master and rescheduled.  The new appointment allowed us ample time to drive to Halifax, park the KIA, and take-in the training.

Yes!  This for me was the BEST part on the whole trip.  As none-of-us had ever been on a Segway before this day; and because the training was provided as part of our uptown tour of Halifax package; any one, any two, or any number of individuals could say, “I can’t do this!” and it would cost them nothing at this point.  The owner/trainer of the Segway/Halifax business wanted every person to be completely comfortable, either Ah or Nah … with the decision to “ride the wheels.”  I AM SO PROUD TO SAY THAT EVERYONE COMPLETED THE INITIAL TRAINING AND AGREED TO GO-FOR-IT.  (Just as a side note: Neither my wife Caryl, or Alan’s wife Olly has ever driven a car.)

With one instructor leading the charge, and another bringing up the rear, we toured around the boardwalk, then headed-out to explore uptown Halifax.  We turned an lot of heads and created a bunch of curiosity as we sped up the sidewalk, zipped across crosswalks, and maneuvered around the streets.

REW

September 4, 2017

Today we embarked on our 1st of many road trips.  The plan is to travel from (Halifax) The Chocolate Lake “Best Western” hotel, down the coast to Peggy’s Cove.  Words cannot describe the beauty and magnifi-cence of this popular spot.  We got there early enough in the morning to beat many, (yes many) tour buses packed with guests.  We visited the lighthouse and climbed over the rocks; we were finished in the gift shop and had our “spot-of-tea” in the restaurant and were gone before the crowds got unbearable.

We now headed to Chester, NS for lunch.  I believe it was the Kiwi Cafe.  After lunch, we walked down to the water-front before climbing back in the KIA for our next stop, Lunenburg, NS.

The weather here in Nova Scotia has been very warm … warmer than I had expected.  As the picture (below) will reveal, Lunenburg is home to the Bluenose II.

Moving away from the winding south shore coastal highway, we heading inland a bit, traveling the 103 (major motorway) to Liverpool, NS.  We checked in around dusk, at the Liverpool Best Western, then out-for-dinner alongside the Mersey at Lane’s Privateer Inn (Dining Room & Lounge) for our evening meal.

It has been a great first day together … I believe we drove about 100 miles today … that’s 160 KMs.

A few more night-time pictures before returning to the hotel for a great-night’s sleep!

REW