At Last, A Blog Post With Some Educational Info

Landscape @ the visitor center

Landscape @ the visitor center

Day 79       August 27, 2014          

Nova Scotia to Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

We were catching the ferry to Newfoundland today.

Here’s a quick geography lesson. Newfoundland is an island. It’s part of the Canadian province called “Newfoundland and Labrador.” Labrador is the land mass (not an island) east of the Province of Quebec. The Province of Newfoundland and Labrador is made up of Newfoundland….and of Labrador. Make sense?

And one more thing, the pronunciations. The accent is on the last syllable of each of these names. NewfoundLAND, LabraDOR. It’s kind of odd and took a while to get used to it, but hey, if you’re gonna go there and talk to anyone while you’re there, you should at least learn how to pronounce the name of the place.

Moving on….we had our ferry reservation, and we arrived the required two hours prior to sailing. This meant a lot of “hanging around” time at the ferry terminal.

Fiona, in line to board the ferry

Fiona, in line to board the ferry

Somebody's house is also in line to board the ferry

Somebody’s house is also in line to board the ferry

The two hours passed surprisingly quickly. Upon check in, the staff measure your rig from the very tip to the very toe. Fiona was 27’ long from the front to the back end of the bike rack. To be even more exact, Fiona was $258 CDN long!

The rest of that time “hanging around” was spent walking the dogs, and talking to all the other hanger-arounders. We met a bunch of nice people, including other RV-ers, other dog owners, and a truck driver from Newfoundland who was bringing home a little corgi puppy to his kids!

We finally loaded onto the ferry. While Mark was finishing up inside the rig, getting the doggies comfortable, one of the crew was nice enough to snap a photo of me next to the rig.

Into the belly of the beast

Into the belly of the beast

On the ferry!

On the ferry!

This would be a six hour ferry crossing. The dogs had to stay in the RV, and we weren’t allowed to check on them. Access to the vehicle decks was strictly prohibited. Really, all we could do was set up their water bowl, and open up some windows, turn on the roof ventilation fan, and then try not to worry about them.

Our crossing was nice and smooth, for which I was quite thankful. I’d heard that it could go either way.

Leaving Sydney, Nova Scotia

Leaving Sydney, Nova Scotia

Taking photos on the ferry

Taking photos on the ferry

Beautiful seas

Beautiful seas

Good bye, Nova Scotia

Good bye, Nova Scotia

The shadow versions of Mark and me

The shadow versions of Mark and me

Before we knew it, we arrived in Port aux Basque, Newfoundland.

Arriving in Newfoundland

Arriving in Newfoundland

Arriving in Newfoundland

Arriving in Newfoundland

Arriving in Port aux Basque, Newfoundland

Arriving in Port aux Basque, Newfoundland

The trucks unload off the boat first

The trucks unload off the boat first

Yep, we're here!

Yep, we’re here!

We stopped at the visitor center to pick up a bunch of info and a map. Not that you can get lost, as there’s pretty much only one road around most of the island. But it was helpful to see where everything was.

Landscape @ the visitor center

Landscape @ the visitor center

It’d been a long day and we were tired, so we stopped for the night at nearby J.T. Cheeseman Provincial Park. I enjoyed an evening music jam session with Keith and Marilyn, a couple from Alberta that had also just come over on the ferry. Our visit to Newfoundland was already starting out with a bang!

Yippee-Ti-Yi-Yo….Our Sorry Asses Are Run Out of Town Again!!

Looking down at Ingonish Beach

Looking down at Ingonish Beach

Day 78      August 26, 2014    Meat Cove to Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada

After a windy-as-hell night in Meat Cove, we woke up to a beautiful, warm and sun-shiny morning. Ya know who else woke up to a beautiful, warm and sun-shiny morning? About ten thousand freakin’ black gnats!

We’d figured on staying in Meat Cove for another day, but we couldn’t take the swarming gnats. Once again….run out of town by crazy blood-sucking s.o.b.’s.

The decision was quickly made to start our trek towards Sydney, where we’d be catching the ferry to Newfoundland. We said goodbye to Debbie & Tony, and headed south.

Mark, Debbie, Tony, and their very cool retro trailer, Millie.

Mark, Debbie, Tony, and their very cool retro trailer, Millie.

Me, Debbie, Tony....with Millie.

Me, Debbie, Tony….with Millie.

After making the 9 kilometer trek back down the bumpy dirt road, we stopped at a little market to get some drinks for the ride. Mark got Red Bull (for energy), and I got  Marley Mellow Mood (for mellowness). Different strokes for different folks.

One upper, and one downer. To each his/her own!

One upper, and one downer. To each his/her own!

Our second stop was at Black Brook Beach for a quick look-see.

Black Brook Beach

Black Brook Beach

Black Brook Beach

Black Brook Beach

Black Brook Beach

Black Brook Beach

Next stop, Ingonish Beach. We went for a short swim in the cold water, which was actually refreshing on this hot day. Mark took a dive into the cold water, popped back up, and realized he’d just lost his sunglasses in the ocean. No worries though, ‘cause a couple minutes later he found them, floating all by themselves right back to him!

Looking down at Ingonish Beach

Looking down at Ingonish Beach

The view from above Ingonish Beach

The view from above Ingonish Beach

The road down the coast was steep and winding. Apparently, some traveler wasn’t paying attention and they mowed right over the “Steep Hill” sign on the side of the road.

We checked into the RV park outside of Sydney and took time to do some chores. We washed the Space Shuttle (this park had an RV washing pad!!), washed the dogs (with our outdoor shower), did laundry, took nice long hot showers, and grabbed dinner at the fish and chips take out stand on the property.

Since this RV park was the closest one to the ferry terminal, almost everyone at the RV park was either coming from, or going to, Newfoundland. We talked to some nice Newfoundlanders, and got some tips on some things to do up there. We were getting excited about the next leg of our adventure!

Bumpity, Bumpity, Bump….To Meat Cove We Go!

On the way to Meat Cove

On the way to Meat Cove

Day 77     August 25, 2014       Dingwall to Meat Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada

I was keeping my eyes open this morning, to see who came in or out of that big ass cool looking RV near us. As soon as I saw a couple walking outside of it, I went over to say hi and to get the scoop on who they were and what they were driving.

An interesting neighbor. Will make a point to meet them in the morning.

An interesting neighbor. Will make a point to meet them in the morning.

I noticed that they had Swiss license plates, so, in my best German, I said good morning, how are you, and where are you from. My best German is kind of crappy, but it’s good enough for basic intelligence gathering.

This couple tripped me out. They’d been traveling all around the world for the past eight years in this expedition vehicle! Later on, I looked up their blog. They’d been freakin’ everywhere! Pretty amazing stuff!!

There were other interesting people at this campground as well….Debbie and Tony. We’d met Debbie and Tony a week earlier at The Ovens campground. We spotted their cool retro trailer, Millie, at this campground, and hooked up with them to have breakfast.

The four of us were having such a fun time hanging out, that we decided to drive up to Meat Cove together. This would involve driving the final 9 kilometers on a dirt/gravel road, which none of us was looking forward to, but somehow we all talked each other into it.

Follow the sign to Meat Cove

Follow the sign to Meat Cove

9 Kilometers of this.....

9 Kilometers of this…..

On the way to Meat Cove

On the way to Meat Cove

On the way to Meat Cove

On the way to Meat Cove

The long bumpy road to Meat Cove wasn’t such great fun, but it was well worth it, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Meat Cove turned out to be spectacular…without a doubt, my favorite place in all of Nova Scotia. Secluded and beautiful and wild!

The first view of Meat Cove

The first view of Meat Cove

The campground was a trip too. Perched up on the cliffs above the ocean, there wasn’t a level site in the whole campground. None of the sites were marked very well, and most of them were unusually close to the edge of the cliffs. This place was like the Wild West of campgrounds. Anything went, and as long as you didn’t back yourself over the edge and die, nobody was going to bother you about how or where you parked.

The beach @ Meat Cove

Nice view from the campgrounds

Our camp site. Oh yea, we'll be sure to stay back 2 meters from the edge!

Our camp site. Oh yea, we’ll be sure to stay back 2 meters from the edge!

The Space Shuttle's got a nice view!

The Space Shuttle’s got a nice view!

Our whole rest of the day and night was chock full of fun. First, Mark and I, and Debbie and Tony hiked up to the top of the “hill” to check out the great views. Then we hiked down to the beach to hang out. And then we cooked dinner, and played music under the most amazing night sky you’ve ever seen. We sang some songs, and swapped some stories with our new friends.

Hiking

Hiking

Mark and Dax on the hiking trail

Mark and Dax on the hiking trail

The hike was worth it.

The hike was worth it.

Down at the beach

Down at the beach

The dogs are exhausted, and crash out on the beach

The dogs are exhausted, and crash out on the beach

It was so dark at Meat Cove, that it seemed like there were a zillion stars in the sky. We could clearly see the Milky Way, and we watched more than half dozen shooting stars grace the sky.

As is often the case, there’s usually a downside to everything. And the downside to Meat Cove, was the mighty mighty wind that whipped up in the middle of the night. Scared the crap out of me! But…I’d go there again in a heartbeat!

Artsy-Fartsy, Fishy, & Full of Cows

Cape Breton

Cape Breton

Day 76   August 24, 2014          Inverness to Dingwall, Nova Scotia, Canada

On the way out of Inverness, we stopped at the Inverness County Center for the Arts. We viewed the local art, and bought some cow themed greeting cards done by a local artist. We were eyeing some whimsical wooden cow sculptures, but decided against taking one home with us.

Inverness County Center for the Arts. Our first art stop.

Inverness County Center for the Arts. Our first art stop.

Up the road a bit, we stopped to peruse the La Bella Mona Lisa Gallery. They were also selling more of the exact same series of greeting cards that we’d just purchased. We found out that the artist who did the cards, actually owned this gallery. We bought a couple more cards for our collection.

Our second art stop.

Our second art stop.

Heading clockwise around Cape Breton.

Heading clockwise around Cape Breton.

Cape Breton

Cape Breton

Cape Breton

Cape Breton

Cape Breton

Cape Breton

Cape Breton

Cape Breton

What's this? A secret government project? Cape Breton

What’s this? A secret government project? Cape Breton

Cape Breton

Cape Breton

Cape Breton

Cape Breton

Cape Breton

Cape Breton

Rocky alcove, Cape Breton

Rocky alcove, Cape Breton

Rocky alcove, Cape Breton

Rocky alcove, Cape Breton

Great views! Heading clockwise around Cape Breton.

Great views! Heading clockwise around Cape Breton.

Further on up the road, I spied a funky grey shack with a “Folk Art” sign hung on the side. Too interesting to pass up! But when we walked up to the door, it was closed for the day. Damn!

Our third art stop. Home of the cows and of the fresh mackerel.

Our third art stop. Home of the cows and of the fresh mackerel.

As we were walking away, we saw an older couple getting out of their car and waving to us. We lucked out! These were the owners of the folk art shack. They were just returning from a day of fishing.

The wife came over to talk to us and to open the art shack for us, while the husband went inside the adjacent house. In a couple minutes, the man came back out. In his hand he held up a very large zip lock baggie, full of these amazing fishies that he’d just caught. And for no reason other than to share, he gave them to us! Fresh caught mackerel. They were beautiful….shiny and colorful like I’d never seen!

Mark put the fish in our fridge, and then we all went into the art shack to have a look around. Imagine our amazement to see a shack full of wooden animal sculptures, including cows. Well, what do you know? This fisherman was the actual artist! And yes, he was the same artist that made the cow sculptures we’d been admiring back in Inverness.

Our fate was sealed. We had to buy a wooden cow. It was meant to be. I knew this wouldn’t be a purchase we’d regret later. We already owned one wooden cow sculpture that we’d bought 30 years ago in Wisconsin. It was time we owned two cows.

That’s how we became “five.”   2 Crazy People + 2 Dogs + 1 Airstream Motorhome + 1 Cow

We spent the night at the Hide-A-Way Campground in Dingwall. Pretty cool campground, with great views of the coast. After watching the sunset, we cooked up those amazing mackerel that the cow artist had given to us. They were almost too beautiful to eat! Delicious!!

Campground

Campground

View from our camp site

View from our camp site

Great views from the campground.

Great views from the campground.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An interesting neighbor. Will make a point to meet them in the morning.

An interesting neighbor. Cool camper! Will make a point to meet them in the morning.

Fresh as you can get, mackerel.

Fresh as you can get, mackerel.

 

 

Cape Breton: Booze, Beer, Beauty (And Fiddlers!)

@ Inverness Campground

@ Inverness Campground

Day 75   August 23, 2014    Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada

Another day, another morning dog walk. It rained like cats and dogs in the middle of the night, but the morning was sunny and beautiful. Perfect celestial timing.

@ Hyclass Campground

@ Hyclass Campground

We got an unusually early start on the drive up to Cape Breton. Good thing, ‘cause we arrived in Judique at the Celtic Music Interpretive Center just in time for the lunch time Ceilidh.

Celtic Music Interpretive Center

Celtic Music Interpretive Center

If you’re a fan of traditional music, this place is a “must” on your travels. We ate lunch while listening to the local, but world-class fiddle/piano duo, spent a good amount of time in the museum learning about the local music and musicians, took a mini video celtic dance lesson, bought celtic bracelets, and bought some amazing cd’s by Cape Breton musicians (world-famous Natalie MacMaster, and a group called Coig).

A typical Cape Breton combo...fiddle & piano.

A typical Cape Breton combo…fiddle & piano.

Lunch. Fish tacos. Note to self...when you're not in California, do not order fish tacos. Other folks just don't know how to do them right.

Lunch. Fish tacos. Note to self…when you’re not in California, do not order fish tacos. Other folks just don’t know how to do them right.

Fun facts about Cape Breton fiddle music!

Fun facts about Cape Breton fiddle music!

Our dance teacher. We were rockin' it!

Our dance teacher. We were rockin’ it!

Post-lunch hike with the doggies

Post-lunch hike with the doggies

Post-lunch hike with the doggies

Post-lunch hike with the doggies

Post-lunch hike with the doggies

Post-lunch hike with the doggies

Post-lunch hike with the Mark & the doggies

Post-lunch hike with the Mark & the doggies

On the drive north, we took a side road, which turned out to be a whole other adventure. The pavement eventually ended and we were stuck on a long, windy rough dirt and gravel road as it started to downpour. At some point, we decided we were too far in to turn back, so we just kept going.

Stuck on the long, winding, rough road

Stuck on the long, winding, rough road

Fiona stops to pose for a portrait

Fiona stops to pose for a portrait

The reward was beautiful views

The reward was beautiful views

Eventually we met up with the main paved road, and made our way to Mabou and to the famous Red Shoe Pub. We’d already eaten lunch at the Celtic Music Interpretive Center, but we ate lunch again anyway because we’d heard so much about this place. The extra calories were worth it, as we had what may have been the best meal so far on the whole trip! This place is famous for it’s live local music too, but unfortunately for us, that all takes place in the evenings. Food, beer, and ambience would have to do.

The Red Shoe Pub, in Mabou

The Red Shoe Pub, in Mabou

The Red Shoe Pub, in Mabou

The Red Shoe Pub, in Mabou

The Red Shoe Pub, in Mabou

The Red Shoe Pub, in Mabou

Great food!

Great food!

Great beer!

Great beer!

Now you know, we’re not afraid to eat two lunches in one day. Well, we’re also not afraid to drink at more than one sitting in a day. And so, up the road a bit, we had to make a stop at the Glenora Distillery in Glenville. Glenora Distillers is one of only two single malt Scottish-style distilleries in all of Canada. We got the tour. We got the free samples. We were happy!

Glenora Disillery

Glenora Disillery

Glenora Disillery. They claim it's that pristine water running through the property that makes their potion so magical.

Glenora Disillery. They claim it’s that pristine water running through the property that makes their potion so magical.

Glenora Disillery

Glenora Disillery

Glenora Disillery

Glenora Disillery

@ Glenora Disillery. Sampling more product...priceless, but not free!

@ Glenora Disillery. Sampling more product…priceless, but not free!

$25 CDN for this little baby

$25 CDN for this little baby

We stopped for the night up the road in Inverness, at the Inverness Campground. The campground was on the most gorgeous site, perched up on the gorgeous ocean bluffs. We hiked down to the beach with the dogs and let them have a much-needed off-leash run. OMG!! You’ve never seen such joy! Running, digging in the sand…doggie heaven! A great ending to a great day.

@ Inverness Campground

@ Inverness Campground

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

@ Inverness Campground

@ Inverness Campground

Trixie & Dax running wild on the beach @ The beach @ @ Inverness Campground

Trixie & Dax running wild on the beach @ Inverness Campground

 

 

 

 

The beach @ @ Inverness Campground

The beach @ @ Inverness Campground

Trixie & Dax running faster than the speed of light!

Trixie & Dax running faster than the speed of light!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dax

Dax

Trixie

Trixie

The Surf Report: Knee-High To A Grasshopper

Kannon Beach

Kannon Beach

Day 74    August 22, 2014   Halifax to Havre Boucher, Nova Scotia, Canada

This day was kind of like a repositioning cruise day for us. Not a lot really happened as we did some errands, and slowly made our way towards Cape Breton. It was a peaceful day.

We passed through Lawrencetown and stopped to visit the Kannon Beach Surf Shop. Yep, there’s surfing in Nova Scotia. But I don’t know when, ‘cause it was knee-high to a grasshopper when we were there! And we were scouting the right place, as I asked the surf shop employee where the surf breaks are.

Kannon Beach Surf Shop

Kannon Beach Surf Shop

Kannon Beach. Tiny, tiny surf...

Kannon Beach. Tiny, tiny surf…

Kannon Beach

Kannon Beach

Onwards, up the road we travelled, passing little coastline coves and teeny tiny towns. It was overcast and raining a bit, but it was a pretty and relaxing drive.

Roadside snapshot in Chezzetcook

Roadside snapshot in Chezzetcook

Driving in the rain. Not sure where we were!

Driving in the rain. Not sure where we were!

Along the road....

Along the road….

Pretty cove

Pretty cove

Coastline scenery

Coastline scenery

Head of Chezzetcook. Don't know where the rest of him is...

Head of Chezzetcook. Don’t know where the rest of him is…

We did stop for a while at Sherbooke Village, which was referred to as an “open air museum.” The place was closed when we got there, but it wasn’t gated, and so we were able to walk around at our leisure and take photos. I think it’s kind of an historical reenactment kind of place where people dress up in period costumes and show you how life was way back when. Truthfully, I was glad it was closed. It was much more enjoyable, just Mark, me and the dogs, walking and shooting pics with nobody in our way.

The small town of Sherbrooke

The small town of Sherbrooke

Sherbrooke

Sherbrooke

Sherbrooke

Sherbrooke

The biggest, and maybe the only, intersection in Sherbrooke

The biggest, and maybe the only, intersection in Sherbrooke

@ Sherbrooke Village

@ Sherbrooke Village

@ Sherbrooke Village

@ Sherbrooke Village

@ Sherbrooke Village

@ Sherbrooke Village

@ Sherbrooke Village

@ Sherbrooke Village

@ Sherbrooke Village

@ Sherbrooke Village

@ Sherbrooke Village

@ Sherbrooke Village

We drove until it was almost dark, and docked for the night at Hyclass Ocean Campground, in Havre Boucher.

The British Explosion vs The Halifax Explosion….Who Knew?!

Halifax, as seen from the Harbour Hopper

Halifax, as seen from the Harbour Hopper

Day 73    August 21    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Following our long morning dog walk, i.e., our attempt to poop out the pups, we drove back into downtown Halifax.

Morning dog walk in the park

Morning dog walk in the park

Morning dog walk in the park

Morning dog walk in the park

Morning dog walk in the park

Morning dog walk in the park

Morning dog walk in the park

Morning dog walk in the park

We took the Harbour Hopper amphibious boat tour, which started out with a driving tour around the city, and ended up with a cruising tour on the harbor. The tour hosts were entertaining, and we got a good overview of all the cool stuff to see in Halifax.

Out and about on the Harbour Hopper tour

Out and about on the Harbour Hopper tour

Halifax, as seen from the Harbour Hopper

Halifax, as seen from the Harbour Hopper

Halifax, as seen from the Harbour Hopper

Halifax, as seen from the Harbour Hopper

Halifax, as seen from the Harbour Hopper

Halifax, as seen from the Harbour Hopper

It was on the Harbour Hopper that I finally found out what the Halifax Explosion was. I thought it was a reference to a music movement, ya know, like the British Invasion, or British Explosion refers to the time when all the great British Bands and British culture became popular in the United States. And I kept waiting to hear about all the great bands coming out of Halifax.

Wrong!!!

The Halifax Explosion was a huge freakin’ explosion out in the harbor back in 1917. Short story is that a French cargo ship loaded with wartime explosives, had a collision, which started a fire on board, which led to the big KABOOM!! Killed about 2,000 people, injured almost 9,000 others, and obliterated almost all of the buildings within a half-mile radius. The blast was the largest man-made explosion prior to nuclear weapons.

Explosions are cool in the movies….not so cool in real life. But the cool thing that did happen, was that this was the beginning of an everlasting love between Halifax and Boston. Seems that Massachusetts was key in the relief effort, sending doctors, nurses, medical supplies and household goods to help out the people of Halifax. And to this day, every Christmas, the Province of Nova Scotia presents a giant Christmas tree to the City of Boston. And this would also explain why we saw so many people in the city wearing Boston Red Sox t-shirts and caps.

Anyways….safely back on land, we took our own walking tour around the city, and booked a tour of the Alexander Keith’s Brewery. This brewery tour was unlike any other. It wasn’t so much a tour of the actual brewery, as it was an historical reenactment of the history of the brewery. Sounds corny, but it was actually quite fun and really well presented, and we got free beer.

Poutine!

Poutine!

Halifax

Halifax

Cool building in Halifax

Cool building in Halifax

Halifax. Another old church.

Halifax. Another old church.

@ Alexander Keith's Brewery

@ Alexander Keith’s Brewery

@ Alexander Keith's Brewery

@ Alexander Keith’s Brewery

@ Alexander Keith's Brewery

@ Alexander Keith’s Brewery

@ Alexander Keith's Brewery

@ Alexander Keith’s Brewery

@ Alexander Keith's Brewery

@ Alexander Keith’s Brewery

Come evening time, about the only thing left was to find some good live music. And so, we did. We first found an awesome guitar duo playing at The Carleton. And we finished up the evening at Durty Nelly’s, where there was a good old fashioned Ceilidh (kind of an Irish music jam).

@ Durty Nelly's

@ Durty Nelly’s