Saturday, August 25, 2007

Back to Mainland

Saturday, August 25th, 2007
Debert, NS to St. John, NB

189.6 miles

Fog, clouds and finally a little sun

I had planned to continue on yesterday, but awakened to heavy rain. I just couldn’t find the energy to unhook and drive off in the rain, so I stayed an extra day.

Listening to the only TV station I could pick up in the rain last night (listening because all I have is snow!) presented an interesting phenomenon – at the 5 o’clock news, they offer congratulations and warm wishes to people celebrating their 50th or more anniversaries – they announced at least 20 couples last night, and at least as many the night before! That’s just Nova Scotia couples, with 50 or more years of wedded bliss! That’s a whole lot of long married old folks! Ignoring the obvious statement of attitude, and a lot of promises kept, that’s proportionately a big piece of the local population who’ve made it to a ripe old age! The longest married last night were at 73 years and counting!!!!!!!

The weatherman had promised sunshine today, but again he lied. Heavy fog, was what I saw, and it hung around a long time. I finally took off about 11 am because I really wanted to get moving. Moving slowly mind you, but moving. The blop in the middle of this lovely picture is a mashed chip in the windshield - good spot for it, yes?

The rivers were running brown with mud from yesterdays heavy rains. Made me think of the poor fishies – must be tough for a fish to breathe when his water world is full of mud instead of clear water. When laughing at myself for thinking such odd thoughts, I had one more – where to the mosquitoes go when it rains – yesterday, on the two occasions I could get Penny out to get her feet wet, I wasn’t attacked by mosquitoes. Which I liked! But where do the little suckers go? Why doesn’t someone go there and murder them?

I know, I know, I shouldn’t be straining my poor brain with thoughts like that when I should be concentrating on staying on the road in heavy fog. OK.

Passed by Oxford, which claims to be the Blueberry Capital of Canada, and then Amherst, with “Faith in our People, Pride in our Products”, whatever those products might be.

When I crossed into New Brunswick, the roads went to hell, and suddenly the land was empty of trees. It’s so long since I’ve seen fields, it was quite a shock! The roads improved soon, and the hillsides were covered with trees again. Trees, and towns and farms and villages – what a treat!

Saw a big billboard saying “Nature’s Air Filters – planting 33 million trees per year”!

The highway skirted the outskirts of Moncton, the first big city I’ve seen in a couple weeks. I’m returning to civilization.

Saw a drive-in movie in Sussex!! Well cared for, so it must be active! And an RV park backs up on it – wonder if the RVers get speakers and can watch too??

Stopped for gas and went into a McDonalds to finally try a McLobster sandwich. The lobster was good, but I liked the Subway lobster sandwich better. McDonald’s was just a blob of lobster salad on a dry hot dog bun. I wouldn’t be opposed to having a McLobster again, but I’d get a green salad too, and put the lobster on the salad!

The sun peeked through the clouds and fog just as I was arriving in Saint John. But my favorite weatherpeople are saying more rain tonight and tomorrow. Oh well, I did get a brief fix!

The Sun Shines!

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007
Little Bras d’Or to Debert, Nova Scotia

206.9 miles

After a leisurely morning, I hit the road again. I had wanted to take a different road out of the area – there are only two ways back toward the mainland, and we’d taken the main road to get here, so obviously I wanted to take the other way out. The owner of the park was unequivocal in saying NO!!! Said that although a gorgeous drive, down the east coast of the island, it would demolish the coach. He was embarrassed to say it, but said that there is a pulp mill on the coast and the trucks abuse it badly. He’s had other RVers try it and all report back to avoid it at all costs. So, OK, I won’t try it!

Had a really nice experience on my way out of town. Stopped to feed the coach, and a gal walked up to me saying “it is you!” We had met on NewfundLAND the previous week, when she needed a doggie fix. She had left her Golden and his friend, a gray parrot, at home while on this short holiday. She, like many others, expressed huge support and enthusiasm for my undertaking this life on my own. We had a delightful chat! She went out of her way to stop to say hi today when she spotted me, even though she was on her way to play golf, because we’d had one nice visit. I was really touched!

I’ve really enjoyed talking with folks here – it’s easy to feel you’re in the ‘old country’. Names like Aberdeen, in County Inverness. And the locals definitely speak in the heavy brogue of Ireland, so much so, there are some TV shows where I’m lucky to understand 10% of what is said.

Construction of the highway caused quite a back-up at one point. It was down to one lane, and I counted 131 vehicles passing, before they opened it up for my lane to go. That was OK – gave me a chance to let Penny out and to get a fresh glass of water!

Stopped also at the Canso Causeway, while the bridge opened to allow a boat to pass through!

I finally had the chance to try a Lobster Sub at Subway – and although Maggie and I were told they were not any good, I really enjoyed mine! They use canned lobster, but it was better quality than most canned crab I’ve had. I’ll eat another before I leave this area!!

Stopped at another tour RV park – Elm River park in Debert – for the night. And again, this time I was led to a site that was much better quality than when the tour was here. Yet another reason to by-pass caravan tours in the future.

Elm River Park
RR #1
Debert, Nova Scotia
B0M 1Co

Across the water again

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007
Doyles, NewfundLAND to Little Bras d’Or, Nova Scotia

30 miles, sort of
Darkness to sunshine!

Up a little after 5 a.m. so I could be sure to get to the ferry by 6:30. I had unhooked everything but power yesterday evening when the rain let up for a few moments, so I wouldn’t have to go through the entire routine this morning, assuming it would still be raining!

I definitely do not like driving in the dark, especially when it’s also wet and cold. Especially knowing that the big creatures are out at that hour, and from the looks of the highway and all the tire marks where someone had slammed on their brakes, I was not comfortable driving at all.

There was quite a bit of graffiti on the blasted rock walls lining the highway in spots. Sorry to see that graffiti happens everywhere. But one in particular made me think a little – a task in itself at this hour of the morning while anticipating a moose jumping out in front of me. Petroglyphs have fascinated man for a long time, and we assume that the ancients weren’t just writing their names, right? I saw one piece of “art” today that might at least make someone think, down the road of time – a Molson beer bottle and a date!

I made it to the ferry in one piece! And had just enough time to brew a cuppa tea and walk Penny one last time before boarding.

Different ship than my previous crossing. And I don’t know if it was the weather, or the ship, or simply the direction, but the crossing was considerably rougher than before. (That’s said, remembering the Alinuihaha Channel in Hawaii, smooth going east and rough as can be going west! or was it north and south? I don't really remember!) I don’t walk well on shipboard anymore, and I certainly bounced off the walls today! Challenging when carrying a purse, a computer bag (to take advantage of the wi-fi on board) and a tray with breakfast. The cashier took pity on me and carried the tray for me to the closest table! And was then shocked when I left a tip! I guess that isn’t done!

The crossing took longer than usual – over seven and a half hours (supposedly usually about 5 hours) – because a freighter was in “our dock” and was delayed in departing. Thankfully he finally got out of there, or who knows how long we would have been kept on board. Penny was crossing her legs by the time I could let her out!
Drove up the road just a short distance upon arrival, in sunshine mind you!! to the park we had visited on the tour – the Arm of Gold.

I learned something interesting by returning to the park – the owner remembered me and showed me to a very nice site. Which was almost level, unlike when the tour was there. I don’t recall mentioning it here in the blog, but I was extremely disappointed with the parks that Good Sam picked for the tour. We had to go through contortions to level our coaches at each of the sites (except one – the St. John, NB site, after the tiny ferry ride, was very nice). For those who don’t know, these big boxes must be as close to level as possible for the refrigerator/freezers to function properly. And too long at a less than level position will kill the refrigerator. As in kill it dead. So we really had to work at getting some semblance of level at most of the tour RV parks. Arriving back at this park showed me that they do have good sites – they must give their worst sites to the lower paying tour groups. I blame the groups for that, rather than the parks.

These two pictures are samples of the view from where I parked tonight!
By the way, all my teasing about how to pronounce NewfundLAND reminds me I need to tell you how to pronounce another province name too - LabraDOOR - not like the dog breed, but accenting the DOOR (door as in closet door) like LAND. There, lesson complete.
Slept like a baby after seeing the sun again!

Turned back toward civilization

Monday, August 20th, 2007
Grand Falls-Windsor to Doyles, NewfundLAND

279.5 miles
Overcast and drizzles

OK, I give up – I’m never going to see the sun again, so I might as well head back. Actually I finally saw some patches of blue sky today, but not until I was at least 40 miles down the road, and never over where I was driving!

I apologize for my grumpiness – I obviously suffer from the lack of sunshine, and I’m taking it out on you. It’s a shame too, because the people here are delightful and the countryside is gorgeous, but where, or where, is the sunshine?

I do have to laugh – every time I stop for gas, I’m asked - sometimes dramatically, as in “wait, wait – that’s gas – the diesel pump is over here” – if I really meant to use gas? Don’t I really want diesel? No, thank you, I use gas. Are you sure? Yes, I’m sure. Oh.

As much as I do appreciate my Microsoft Streets & Trips, it does fail me once in awhile. As in today, when I passed a large lake near the town of Triton, where I could have visited Kona Beach. That appealed to me, of course, since it makes me think of Hawaii’s Kona. But it’s not on my GPS map! So I guess it only existed in my imagination.

Passed a sign for the Burnt Berry Restaurant, which seems a rather defeatist name for a place, until I crossed the Burnt Berry Brook. I still smile at NewfundLAND’s choice for naming almost every body of running water as a brook, including River Brook!

Saw a sign for the Dorset Soapstone Quarry, but of course it was off the road somewhere, so I never saw anything resembling a quarry, just more trees. Lovely trees, mind you, but trees. And more signs for “Caution, Heavy Drifting Possible”.

My first wildlife in days crossed the road in front of me today – but it was just a cute little squirrel, which made me think of the TV commercial of the squirrel causing a car to run off the road and high-fiving his pal over the result. Great commercial, except I still don’t know who it’s advertising! Lots of signs for moose, but I don’t believe they live here!

Humber Valley Resort – for the winter lovers out there, this is a terrific looking ski resort . . . lots of ski slopes and lifts, an eye-catching beautiful lodge. Part of the Marble Mountain – Steady Brook area. Great place to visit, if you like that sort of thing! :o)

Saw a sign advertising the Pinchgut Restaurant – yum! Think I’d prefer the Crossroads Grub and Pub, thank you very much!

Long day, but I made it back to Doyles, so I’m only about a half hour from the ferry, which I board at o’dark thirty on Wednesday morning!

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