Riviere du Loop to Moncton NB Aug 16,2014

Potato Farm - west of Moncton

Potato Farm – west of Moncton

We had a pretty uneventful drive from Riviere du Loop to Moncton New Brunswick today. I had some concerns before leaving home about travelling in Quebec and trying to manage with my high school French. As it turns out everyone I spoke to could converse in English. Our GPS pulled her usual first morning stunt by taking us the long and winding road out of town, through an older part of the city but to an easy to access gas station, where once again the young man pumping the gas spoke English.  It’s been awhile since we had attendant service and having to go inside to pay. Once we were on the Highway our GPS got us on track and we got here just fine.  We have noticed that when we plug in the morning destination, it calculates our arrival time.  It changes when we make lunch stops but it is fairly accurate. Today we lost another hour and not sure where the time changed.

I know Moncton and all of New Brunswick is a mandated bilingual province but while shopping at Sobey’s I heard nothing but French being spoken and also at the liquor store. Of course the service staff spoke fluent English to me, but I was surprised at the amount of French spoken here. I can’t imagine the problems French Canadian’s have travelling to my home province of Alberta.  They won’t find many people able to speak French to them.

When I was packing for this trip I thought about bringing along a couple of folding chairs so we could pull off and have a picnic lunch. I am glad I didn’t waste the space. We have been on Highway 1 for the most part and there are almost no picnic type pull outs.  It is extremely difficult to pull off the Highway and is some places is appears trees have been planted along the road so drivers are not distracted by the scenery. When we took our U.S. road trip we found most states have well developed road stops.  They have clean bathrooms, ample parking for cars, trucks and RVs. They usually have vending machines, a pay phone and a dog exercise area.  We used these road stops frequently. It seems the only well equipped ones we found were in Quebec. In New Brunswick they have well signed road stops run by Irving Oil.  Thier stops offer gas, convenience store, washrooms. restaurants and today they had local farmers selling their produce. I do miss the pull outs with garbage cans, potties and picnic benches – usually located at a scenic spot and easy to turn into.

The other thing I miss are “Points of Interest.” From time to time we get glimpses of fabulous scenery but no where to pull over to enjoy the view. The result is very few photos along the road as Brian has not mastered the camera and I am doing the driving. Today we planned to stop in the see the World Potato Museum. We turned into the location and found it closed for a wedding.  Not sure a potato museum is a typical wedding venue, but in any case we had to continue back to the highway and on the Moncton.  We have finally arrived in the Maritime provinces but haven’t see the ocean yet despite it being only a few miles away. We did however try a seafood dish at lunch. We stopped at one of the Iriving road stops and tried clam chowder in the restaurant. It was excellent and a bowl filled us up. Tomorrow we travel to Cape Breton  to catch the ferry the following day to Newfoundland. Both of us are looking forward to letting someone else drive while we sit back and enjoy.

Appalachian Scenic drive

Appalachian Scenic drive

Moncton NB to Sydney NS August 17,2014

Entering Nova Scotia - Bay of Fundy visible in the distance

Entering Nova Scotia – Bay of Fundy visible in the distance

Today was going to be a shorter drive but would afford us the opportunity to wander off and do a bit of site seeing. Mid morning when were close to Springhill Nova Scotia – the birth place of singer Anne Murray and also home to one of Canada’s most memorable mine disasters.  We opted to go to the mine’s museum.  It was a bit of a challenge to get to but after asking some locals, we found it. We entered the building to find we had just missed the tour but if we waited 40 minutes we could take the next tour which lasts 45 min and includes going into the mine.  We decided it would take too much time so we walked around the museum.

When I was a kid our town got television in 1957 and had but one CBC channel. I clearly remember watching the CBC coverage of the 1958 Springhill mine disaster.  Looking back it was the first thing to “live” coverage of a major news event.  The country was riveted to the television and waited breathlessly for news of survivors. 

Entry to the mine shaft - Springhill Nova Scotia

Entry to the mine shaft – Springhill Nova Scotia

It is felt 74 of the 174 miners in the mine that day died instantly. Within 24 hours 81 survivors were found. In the waning days the mine owners declared the missing as dead but the miners from Springhill and   surrounding area would not quit digging until all men were out, dead or alive.  On day five 12 survivors were found and on day 7 the last seven living men were brought to the surface.  I can still see the families when their loved one was brought out, having died and the tears of joy when husbands and fathers were found alive.  It made national and international news. After the fact over 2 million dollars was raised to help support the families of the men who lost their lives. Today the museum doesn’t have many visitors as those of us who remember this tragedy are aging. When looking around the museum there was a photo of the oldest miner….. the man had been sent into the mines at the age of 6 1/2 when he lived in England and continued to work in the mines upon coming to Canada until he was 76 years old.  I can’t imagine that was much of a life.

While driving in Nova Scotia I was surprised they have mountains, not like the Rockies, but quite impressive in elevation.  The have built a new road similar to the one in BC( Coquihalla)) complete with a toll, to get through the mountainous terrain. I pulled into a Nova Scotia tourist information Center as soon as we crossed into the Province.

Welcoming Scottish Piper

Welcoming Scottish Piper

The center is very well done complete with a Scottish Piper playing us a tune. I got a photo of the surrounding area including a glimpse of the Bay of Fundy. The scenery got better as the day went on especially when I missed my turn after crossing the Causeway onto Cape Breton.  We ended up on Highway 105 which would have taken us to Sydney, but would have taken a longer route. The GPS told us to turn off the road and head east which I did.  We ended up on some back roads, however they were very scenic and part of the way we were of the Fleur De Lis scenic highway.  It may be scenic
Scenic Countryside

Scenic Countryside

but it’s full of deep pot holes! We eventually found the correct highway and arrived in Sydney in good time.  The hotel has a lovely outdoor space with scenic views and picnic tables.  My plan was to grab some sun ( the first in days) but it quickly hid behind the clouds. They had men mowing the grass nearby and they were wearing hoodies. It seems as soon as we crossed the Manitoba border into Ontario, we left summer behind.  We have had clouds, rain and cold weather, until today when the high hit 22. Tomorrow will be a day for long pants as we board the ferry for our journey to Newfoundland. Let the adventures begin! 

View from our hotel today - Sydney Nova Scotia

View from our hotel today – Sydney Nova Scotia

By Land and Sea–from Sydney Nova Scotia to Port Aux Basques to Corner Brook, Newfoundland August 18,2014

Leaving Sydney

Leaving Sydney

This was a very long travel day. We had a 25 km trip from Sydney to the Ferry terminal which was pretty easy to find, despite my worries of missing the turn and arriving late. As it turns out we were early and ended up boarding quickly – however first on – last off!. While waiting to board I got chatting with a man who quit his job in Fort McMurray Alberta to return home to NFLD, something I understand is quite common.  He was very excited to introduce his mother to her granddaughter whom she had never met.  During our conversation it was obvious his love for his native province and his desire to return to his roots.

Into the belly of the beast

Into the belly of the beast

It was lots of fun boarding the ferry.  We ended up having to make a sharp right turn in the middle of the ship to go down a ramp to the bottom.  Turn had to turn the car around and back into a very tight space.  I am not complaining as we saw commercial trailers on the outside with barely inches to space between wall and posts.

We went upstairs to the seating lounge which was spacious and comfortable and had a snack bar.  They were selling hot dogs and they smelled so very good.  Not knowing what kind of seas we were to have I postponed eating given my penchant for seasickness.

Comfy seats for the trip across

Comfy seats for the trip across

  We had at least a 90 minute wait before we finally left port.  The weather was overcast and raining and it continued to get worse during the sail over.  As long as I remained seated and had my eyes focused on reading I was OK, but when I got up and moved around, I became queasy. I heard the staff say the sea was a bit rough…so I didn’t feel too bad. They have multiple TVs but unless you bring your own head set, you don’t have sound.  Brian found the trip tedious.

Once we arrived in Port of Basques we had a bit of a wait to clear the ship. 

First Sight of Newfoundland

First Sight of Newfoundland

We were off just before 7 pm local time ( a half hour ahead of the mainland.) Corner Brook was our final destination – some 220+ kms up the road.  The clouds were heavy and the rain heavier – you could hardly see where you were going – everything was a gray color – the roads and the sky.  The first views of Newfoundland were just as I have seen in photos however as we drove along, we were climbing and soon nothing but scrub trees and hills surrounded us.  It was quite dark when we arrived and glad to book into the hotel.  It has an on sight restaurant which we took advantage of and is suitable only for a desperate traveller!

Arriving in Port Aux Basques

Arriving in Port Aux Basques