8/1/2016 On the first day of August we departed from our Base Camp on Mount Desert Island in Maine to drive long bumpy miles miles north from Ellsworth on Route 179 through Waltham to meet Route 9 at Aurora where we turned east to travel many lonely miles to Calais where we took a look across the St. Croix River at the town of St. Stephen, NB on the Canadian side if the border. After passing through the Canadian port of entry at the end of the bridge, we drove past the Algonquin Resort at St. Andrews by the Sea for some more long miles north on Route 3 to Fredericton where we joined the Trans-Canada Highway going east through Moncton to Amherst where we were warmly welcomed to Nova Scotia. We next proceed on to Truro which references itself as the 'Hub of Nova Scotia' because it is located at the junction between the Canadian National Railway running from Halifax to Montreal and the Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway running between Truro and Sydney.
Continuing east on the Trans-Canada we enjoy the discovery that Verizon Mobile does not offer service in this foreign country so that we are not able to confirm our campsite reservation for the evening. I tried to establish the point that I had once circumnavigated the planet without ever making a reservation, but the notion fell largely on deaf ears and a certain amount of marital discord began to develop. The long day was giving way to a prediction of an even longer evening of restless despair. A delay for several boats to traverse the swing bridge on the Canso Causeway onto Cape Breton Island only added additional spicy seasoning to the developing marital stew. Finally we arrived at the KOA Arm of Gold in North Sydney. Bras d'Or Lake is an inland sea, or large body of partially fresh/salt water in the center of Cape Breton Island. The lake is connected to the North Atlantic by natural channels, the Great Bras d'Or Channel north of Boularderie Island and the Little Bras d'Or Channel to south of Boularderie Island, connect the northeastern arm of the lake to the Cabot Strait. The Bras d'Or is also connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Strait of Canso by means of a lock canal completed in 1869—the St. Peters Canal, at the southern tip of the lake.After we secured victuals at a nearby Wally World and analgesics from the NSLC we turned to a troubled sleep occasionally interrupted by the PA system of Winne's Wagon next door announcing the readiness of order numbers.
8/2/2016 Next morning Max and I wandered off to take a closer look at the church on Little Bras d'Or Lake that we had passed on our drive to the NSLC. St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church with its double spires reminded me of many that we had seen along the St. Lawrence on our way toward Quebec City on an earlier visit. The Arm of Gold property was originally a farm that was passed down five generations from the original land grant settler. Today, fifteen acres of the original site are still used for farming and a walking trail around it offered Max many views across the Bras d'Or Lake and a pretty selection of old farm equipment to be marked as his territory. Somewhere along the path he became entangled in the grasses and lost his collar. In his naked shame he attempted to catch a train home to avoid the wrath of his mother.
After carefully examining the logistics of ferrying our RV to Newfoundland from Sydney we decided to postpone the visit until we had a longer and better plan for a slow meandering of that fascinating island. Instead we opted to leave CBI with a re crossing of the Canso Strait to wander our way along the south side of Chedabucto Gulf which is a fjord environment. Fjords are narrow submarine depressions that are the extension of glaciated valleys that are presently submerged beneath the sea. Also, the water current is directly effected by tides. The tides are weak due to the causeway because there is no two-way tidal flow between the Gulf and the Atlantic.
After arriving in Canso we found safe anchorage in the Canso Marina Campground with an outstanding view of the Canso Harbour from our front window. The harbor is protected by the Canso Islands, a small archipelago lying immediately north and east of the mainland, with Durells Island, Piscataqui Island, George Island, and Grassy Island being the largest.The islands were designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1925 because of their role as an important fishing base for the French in the 16th century and the British during the 18th century, and as the staging point for the 1745 expedition against Louisbourg on CBI.
8/3/2016 By next morning Max was very excited to explore Canso after he had read that on November 22 1776 John Paul Jones, the founder of the American navy, had paid a visit to Canso on the USS Alfred. Boats from the ship raided the community, his crews burned a transport bound for Canada with provisions and a warehouse full of whale oil, besides capturing a small schooner. Captain Jones then went on to Sydney to free Americans imprisoned in the British coalmines. Max has developed a special sensitivity to coal miners as he has learned of how they are being displaced from their jobs by American liberals.
After we paid a short visit to the Canso Museum we walked further along the waterfront to a house said to have a very nice view of the harbor. Sure enough we found the house and saw that it was built in 1986, located on a large lot and the owner was asking $29, 900 CAD which would be about $25,000. Hard to resist as a summer home.Next we wandered back toward the marina on Church Street where we mused about how the global human mania for an afterlife had made its presence here so far from its foundings in the arid Middle East.
During my walkabout I had learned of an attractive nearby campground called Seabreeze located on Nova Scotia's Eastern Shore region. In a landscape dominated by inlets, rocky outcrops, beaches and islands, nature provides the palette for an idyllic camping vacation. And did I mention you can view whales spouting from any where in the campground.
By this time the primitive provincial roads were taking their toll on our machine and its human contents but we continued our chaotic coastal journey along Route 316 through what is known as Bonnets Lake Barrens Wilderness Area passing Port Felix, Charlos Cove, Larrys River, New Harbour, Seal Harbour, Goldboro, and Stormont, to join Route 7 taking us to Antigonish where we found safe anchor at the Widden Park Campground in the center of town on Brierly Brook. Max took me for a walk down Main Street where I found a Ford Dealership that was willing to help me find a problem with the dash air conditioning switch that was stuck in the defrost position for air routing in the cockpit of the RV.
8/4/2016 We slept relatively late and then drove to Keltic Ford where the adept diagnostician quickly found a crack in a vacuum hose that he was able to repair after only a half hour labor charge of $58 CAD. At the same time Linda was unable to remedy our unusable mobile phones despite long and frustrating interaction with Verizon using the dealership land line. We had to continue our journey to Prince Edward Island without the capability of making campsite reservations.
The Confederation Bridge to PEI is not much short of amazing whether viewed from the New Brunswick side, from the front window of the RV, or from the the Gateway Village on the PEI end. While Linda sought information at the Visitors Center concerning camping site availability Max and I entertained each other by viewing the bridge and some of the other funny concepts in the Gateway Village.
On our previous trip to PEI we had done most of our wandering on the east end of the island so this time after we had reprovisioned in Charlottetown we headed north on Route 15 to its intersection with Route 6 at Bedford Corners. Anxiously we awaited darkness until finding a campground called Whispering Pines just before reaching the village of Grand Tracadie on Route 6. A long day on the road did not prevent him from spotting a Bald Eagle lifting from the ground about 20 yards away.
8/5/2016 Next day we continued our drive through everywhere beautiful PEI on Route 6 to the entrance to Gulf Shore Drive (Route 13) near Dalway by the Sea. The road west is a short (9km) scenic route to the small town of North Rustico Harbour and has numerous pull outs to enable tourists to stop at the north shore beaches. The red sandstone is ever present in PEI, all of the exposed rock and ground has the deep red color and as sandstone it erodes relatively easily leaving arches, small caves and peninsulas all along the shoreline.
At the end of the Gulf Drive we drove again on Route 6 to Cavendish for a quick visit to the famous Green Gables. This 19th-century farm is one of the most notable literary landmarks in Canada. The Green Gables farm and its surroundings are the setting for the popular Anne of Green Gables novels by Lucy Maud Montgomery who visited the farm as a young girl and based her Anne series there. Upon her death her wake was conducted from the living room for several days prior to her funeral at the local Presbyterian Church and her burial in the nearby Cavendish Community Cemetery.
I intended that this return visit to the Green Gables would be just long enough to purchase a doll for my sister Emily but it was not to be after carefully searching through many many dolls for what I thought to be the essence of Emily I finally found one on an exhibit stand but it was somewhat careworn and unboxed. I asked for a boxed version but none was available and by this time I was obsessed with its qualities. We left the Visitors Center somewhat forlorn. Continuing our drive I saw another Cavendish store advertising its dolls. I again found only an unboxed version but was helped by the store owner who found one remaining in the inventory. It was well worth the trouble to find this lovely face.
From Cavendish we continued to drive south on Route 6 to Stanley Bridge where we made a much needed food stop at Carr's Oyster Bar. We sat on the deck and watched people jumping off Stanley Bridge into the water. It was another beautiful day and I can think of no better place to enjoy it. The pound and a half of mussels that we shared were extremely fresh and delicious. It did take quite a long time for our meals to arrive. Linda then was unable to finish her huge lobster roll and the duty fell to me after I finished off my haddock and scallops.
From Stanley Bridge we continued west on Route 6 to New London where Lucy Maud Montgomery was born on November 30, 1874. One of New London's early settlers was Benjamin Chappell, the founder of the Methodist faith on the island, who arrived aboard the sailing ship Elizabeth in 1774. Chappell wrote a diary of his experiences, and described his first, harsh New London winter as being "... very short of provisions. No rum, no bread, no meat, no beer, no sugar and half an ox", and wrote that "the people in general through the want of bread seem to decline in their work."
From New London we turned onto Route 20 and drove past the Anne of Green Gables Museum at Silver Bush to find a wonderful campsite at Twin Shores in Darnley. Max and I headed for the un crowded beach where we found some dog friendly children playing on the dunes before watching the sun set in the west.
8/6/2016 We continued on Route 10 skirting the east shore of Male Bay to its intersection with Route 104 in Kensington. Meandering our way toward the Confederation Bridge we had to stop in awe of the St. Mary's Parish Church in Indian River. This French Gothic style church features a unified nave and chancel with transepts. The stone foundation is Wallace freestone from Nova Scotia. A dominant feature of the building is the circular tower on the southwest corner. It is decorated with statues of the twelve apostles located in niches.
After re crossing the bridge on Route 16 to New Brunswick we established the Fundy National Park as our goal for an evening campsite. In order to follow closely along the shore of the Northumberland Strait we turned onto Route 15 at Port Elgin. About halfway to Shediac on Route 15 we stopped at the Cap-Pele Visitor Center/Museum where I walked Max and then sought to understand some of the intricacies of herring preparation.
According to my guide, Cap-Pele is known as the world capitol of smoked herring. They produce 95% of the world market of smoked herring. Caught from Atlantic cold water in the Southeastern shores of New Brunswick, the fresh herring is cured in brine for 6-7 days using coarse natural salt, then desalted lightly, smoked and dried slowly over a smoldering fire using local soft and hard wood and sawdust. The herring fishery supports a $40 million/year cannery in Maine. A can of "sardines" in a grocery contains fish from one of several species of herring-like fish found and fished worldwide. The sardine cans on the shelves of a New England supermarket most likely contain young Atlantic herring. These one to three-year-old juvenile fish are caught in the net of a seiner, trawler, or weir, then steamed, seasoned, smoked, and packed into the traditional sardine can for human consumption.
A brief perambulation of the town of Cap-Pele did not reveal any compositional elements so we continued along Route 15 through Shediac to Moncton where we connected with Route 114 running along the western shore of the Petitcodiac River also known as the Chocolate River. The bumpy road goes on forever through Hillsborough and Hopewell Cape before finally delivering us to the Alma Lobster Shop at the entrance to Fundy National Park. The proprietor there suggested that we should first find a campsite beforie delaying our search to pick out our lobster from the enormous available supply.
After paying our entry fee at Fundy Park we found that no campsites were available at any of the many camping locations within the park. In growing darkness we valiantly continued forward toward Sussex until we stumbled upon the last available site in the Pine Cone Campsite just outside of Penobsquis. Max and I quickly joined a group of camping aboriginals who were perambulating the vast camping space. Fortunately the group was largely made up of Methodists who were bent on introducing me to all of the camping rule violators. Later in the evening we were limited in our entertainment options by a lack of WiFi and television signals and were forced into watching a pre-pubescent Elvis imitator as he ran through the campground clad in a dramatic white suit and carrying a black guitar as he ran to escape the clutches of his screaming fans.
8/7/2016 We follow Route 10 to its junction with the Trans-Canada near Youngs Cove and then turn east toward Fredericton and then Woodstock where we join the Canadian extension of I-95 crossing the border to Houlton, Me. When I last visited Canada at the beginning of the ‘Dubya’ period Americans were thought to be bumbling but good-hearted and generous. The collective of individual opinions that I heard on this visit is that we are now regarded as the most dangerous threat to world peace since Nazi Germany, and far more of a global problem than ISIS or any of the other terrorists of the week that we invent as an excuse to build more war machines. Now the good-hearted and generous adjectives have been replaced by stupid and filthy as descriptives for a country filled with shoppers and sellers who clutter their once beautiful landscape with ugly attempts to return happiness to a depressed people if they would only consume more crap or take a pill to make them feel better about themselves.
Computers and the Internet may make us smarter in some ways, as neuroscience finds, but baby boomers who grew up with three channels and rabbit ears are the last generation to have been formed primarily by books requiring lengthy, focused attention, as well as the experiential learning that comes from engaging one’s imagination rather than navigating someone else’s often-bizarre, interactive digital fictions. The best of us extract our clichés from public radio and television and exchange them over cocktails while the rest of us watch and mimic the Fox Network. No one seems capable of developing an individual opinion through normal conversation with another human being. The Canadians have come to think that we have paved paradise and put up a shopping mall.