NIAGARA FALLS, NEW ENGLAND AND NOVASCOTIA
Sunday, July 8, 1990
Mileage @ Start: 86146
It was less than 100 miles from Milton, Ontario to Niagara Falls and took us about an hour and a half to drive. The falls are certainly justified in being considered one of the seven wonders of the world. To describe them as awesome is an understatement. It was a beautiful day for sightseeing, and after settling in at a nearby campground, we drove down to Niagara Boulevard for our first look. The parkway is beautifully landscaped, but it was impossible to find a parking place with so many people about. A nice weekend day in the middle of summer is not the time to avoid crowds.
We got our first good look at the falls from the observation deck of the Skylon Tower, about 600 feet above the ground. The water is flowing out of Lake Erie into Lake Ontario through the Niagara River and drops about 350 feet in the process, 180 feet right at the falls. The international boundary between Canada and the U.S. lies in the center of the Niagara River. The way the falls are situated, the best view is from the Canadian side. To the left are the American falls, and to the right in a horseshoe shape are the Canadian falls. The two are separated by Goat Island in the center of the river. About 90 percent of the water flows over the much larger Canadian falls, but the American Falls are beautiful too. Together they are about 1250 feet wide. There is a tremendous roar and a cloud of mist, especially at the Canadians. According to a sign, there was about 3 billion Imperial gallons per minute flowing as we watched.
Back away from the natural beauty, entrepreneurs have found all sorts of ways to exploit the popularity of the falls. There are amusement parks, boat rides, blocks and blocks of souvenir shops, helicopter rides, hotels, restaurants, fast food places, night clubs and honkytonks.
We walked a considerable distance from where we parked at the tower down to the park, then along the walkway on the rim of the gorge for a half mile or so. As we neared the Canadians, the mist in the air became quite heavy. At several points, people were wearing raingear to get closer looks.
As impressive as all of this is, it must have been even more so many years ago. About half of the water has been diverted into several hydro-electric plants upstream. Some naturalists might complain about environmental tampering, but aside from the benefits from harnessing the power, the diversion has reduced some of the natural erosion. According to Dave, our statistician, the brink of the falls was receding about three feet each year prior to the diversion. Now, the brink is only receding one foot every ten years. Construction of the Wellington Locks to accomodate boat traffic between the two lakes has diverted another quantity of water from the falls. It is mind boggling to think about where all that water is coming from, and the tremendous forces at work over the eons of time to carve out places like this.
After lunch, we drove over to the Whirlpool, another interesting spot along the Niagara River. The shape of the gorge is such that the swift flowing water is thrown into a series of enormous eddys. An aerial tram has been set up to take people across the whirlpools. A short distance from the whirlpool there are more beautiful gardens, and at one point a floral clock that is particularly interesting. My camcorder has been working overtime today.
From 9:15pm to 12:30am, the falls are lighted by giant colored flood lights which change colors every 15 minutes. After a rest at the campground, we drove back to the tower to see the night display. By then, the Ransones and the Frank Schumakers had joined us. We will all travel together from here to our caravan rendezvous in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. The lighting was somewhat subdued and not bright enough for picture taking, but we watched the colors change from red to blue to green to yellow. Coming home we drove through the honkytonk strip where people were as thick as flies.
On Monday, we took a boat trip to the base of the Canadian falls, then drove over to the American side, all the while thinking of Lamar on his birthday. We tried to call but the Cockrells must have been partying. Anyway, Happy Birthday, Lamar! Wish you were here.
The boat ride on the Maid of the Mist was something else. As we boarded, we were handed a blue rain coat with a hood. The boat went upriver along the base of the American falls and into the basin below the Canadian falls. The roar of the falls, the clouds of heavy mist, and the turbulence of the water all contributed to an exciting ride. As we approached the Canadians, the current became so swift that the boat stood still even though its engines were straining at full tilt. As the boat turned, it heeled a bit and a wave washed across the lower deck where we were standing. The rain gear didn't do much good then. I made a jump for the steps, but still got wet feet, as did everyone standing there. I kept the camcorder going as much as possible to record the event, but for much of the time it was beneath the raincoat. There simply aren't enough words to describe the awesome spectacle of these falls. They have to be seen to be appreciated.
On the American side of the river, the views are not as spectacular, though still nice. The United States' oldest state park provides access to Goat Island by way of a pedestrian bridge and a car bridge. We walked over first and took a path which led us to the brink of the American falls at a spot between the Bridal Veil and the main body of the falls. We had good views up the river as the water crashed over the rapids. We then took the car over to Goat Island and walked to the brink of the
Canadian falls. The park is neat and clean, but more was left in a wild state in comparison with the beautiful gardens on the Canadian side. Without question, the Canadians have the best of Niagara.
For the sake of memory if we ever come back, or if someone else should use this as a guide, we are staying in Glen-View Campground on the Canadian side near the end of Victoria Street just a short distance from the Whirlpool. Parking is scarce back at the falls and is expensive - $6.00 per day. The best way to manage is to either walk or drive to the Whirlpool where there is a free parking lot and a stop for the "People mover" bus. A $3.00 ticket on the "People mover" is good for all day, so it is easy to get to any spot along the gorge and to the restaurants and other attractions near the falls without worrying about the car. Also, for anyone with good walking stamina, it would be easier to walk across the Rainbow Bridge to the American side than to drive, pay the tolls, and then have to find and pay for parking over there. From the center of the Rainbow Bridge, there is an excellent vantage point for a picture that would include both the American and Canadian falls.
Tuesday, July 10, 1990
Mileage @ Start: 86270
We crossed back into the United States early and drove eastward through New York State for about 250 miles, getting off the throughway near Little Falls, New York. At several points we passed sections of the old Erie Canal where horsedrawn canal boats carried people and goods back in the 1850's before the days of the railroad. My greatgrandfather Berg came that way in 1854 from New York City to Logansport, Indiana after immigrating from Germany.
Seeing the Little Falls sign brought back some memories. I spent a week in Little Falls in 1959 in the test kitchens of a food plant there testing recipes for shrimp creole, curry and newburg and converting them to production formulae. That was the week that Krushchev banged his shoes on the table at the United Nations protesting our U-2 flights over Russia. To get home from Little Falls I was on a flight to New York City that was supposed to take only 30 minutes, but took almost 2 hours because of all the planes coming in and out of New York because of the Krushchev visit. It was a foggy day and an eerie feeling to be circling in a stackup over busy Idlewild Airport with zero visibility. The pilot kept announcing how many planes were below us in the stack, each separated by 1,000 feet of airspace. As a plane landed, the whole stack would drop down 1,000 feet. When he started the announcements, we were 6th down in a stackup of twenty. Some things you never forget.
Thursday, July 12, 1990
Mileage @ Start: 86690
Great Barrington turned out to be a very quaint New England town with very friendly people. We arrived on the eleventh and found about 25 trailers in ahead of us parked in a field in front of the VFW building. At 4:30pm we hosted a "gam" session attended by three other couples, Bill and Shirley Turner, Harold and Irene Donahoo, and John and Millie Bush. Bill Turner is a former airline pilot; Harold Donahoo is a retired engineer and businessman; John Bush was a heavy equipment operator. After introducing each other we talked about careers, families, etc. for about an hour, then went up to the VFW dining room with the whole group for a roast beef dinner served family style. So much had been prepared that there were piles of beef and potatoes left over. It was an excellent beginning for our trip.
Bus Maynard is our caravan leader, and after dinner he gave instructions on how we would proceed. He has travelled the route before, scouted out all of the attractions along the way, and arranged for our parking spots. In return for this effort, his expenses are paid. He has distributed a very complete accounting of all costs. While at Great Barrington, our admission is paid to the Hancock Shaker Village and the Norman Rockwell Museum. We have three days to take in the sights here and to get ready for the road. It appears to be a very compatible group from all over the country, with ages ranging from the mid-50's to low 70's. It rained all night and all day Thursday, leaving the parking area a mess. Had to activate boots and raingear, but nobody got out much. The sun came out on Friday and dried things off a bit. Spent the day cleaning up the outside of the trailer and suburban, replacing the trailer brake control which had been giving some trouble, and helping Dave build some folding tables for preparing and serving dinners. He is in charge of a half dozen cookouts along the way. Some of the folks got out to the Rockwell Museum. Ann's come down with a cold and is staying in as much as possible. There are 47 trailers and 2 motorhomes in the group now.
After a foggy morning, the weather on Saturday cleared nicely. We got out for a change and drove over to the neighboring town of Stockbridge intending to go to the Norman Rockwell Museum. Stockbridge was his home for the last twenty years of his life before he died in 1985. The traffic was fierce, there were no parking places, and the line of people waiting to go into the museum was long, so we decided to pass on that venture.
Back in camp, we had another "gam" session, this time at the trailer of Francis and Arlene Fodor from Agoura, California. With us were Frank and Ruby Schumaker and Bud and Claudia Richards from Whittier, California. Bud just retired from teaching school and was obviously well versed in the history of America. After the "gam" we went up to the VFW dining hall for a clam chowder dinner.
Sunday, July 15, 1990
Mileage @ Start: 86710
Our Caravan leader has divided the work load up and assigned it to several committees in order that the necessaries get done with the minimum of burden on any one person. My first assignment was to the deparking group to assist in leaving Great Barrington. As each trailer came out, we checked it to be sure chains were in place, antennas down, steps up, etc., then stopped traffic on the highway to allow a safe exit. So we were the last ones leaving. Our next stop was Woodstock, Connecticut.
Checking the map, I found that we were fairly close to the area where I picked and hauled tobacco 41 years ago on a farm between Southwick and Westfield, Massachusetts. So we drove a route that took us through that section. As with any place, nothing was the same. The land where we farmed is now covered with subdivisions and commercial buildings. Ann spotted one white field of tobacco in the distance. This tobacco is all shade grown under acres of cheese cloth stretched between ten foot high poles, thus the white field. I recognized a few old buildings, but for the most part it was a completely different place.
From Westfield we got up on the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90). At a rest stop pulled up next to us was a car pulling a trailer with an antique firehose wagon on it, one of the old ones which was pulled around the streets by hand. They were also coming from Great Barrington where they had been to a "muster" of antique fire wagon buffs. The owner was a New York City fireman, and as a hobby owned seven antique fire wagons of various sorts. We had a several minute conversation. He was as interested in our Airstream caravan as I was in his hose wagon. Prearrangements had been made for the caravan to park at the Woodstock fairgrounds.
The evening's gam session was at the trailer of Jim and Johnnie Guthrie from Durham, North Carolina. Also there were Charles and Edith McKinney from Durham. Johnnie and Edith are sisters; Jim and Charles worked together at American Tobacco Company, and they now call Florida home, living at Paradise Park near Fort Myers. We also met Manny and Kathy Roeschlin, now from Toronto but originally from Switzerland. Manny was sales manager for a packaging material supplier.
Dave is in charge of some seven cookouts on the trip, and the first one came off fine. He and his crew barbecued hotdogs and served baked beans, applesauce and fruit cocktail under the trees. That's a large undertaking for the hundred plus people in the group.
On Monday we drove over to Old Sturbridge Village, back in Massachusetts, a village made up of authentic old New England buildings gathered up and moved to this location as a museum to life in the 1830's. There was a working farm, a printing office, a sawmill, a grist mill, a blacksmith shop, a tinsmith shop, a cooperage (barrels), a wool carding mill, a tavern, church, bank, lawyer's office, and several different kinds of stores. Children were playing on the green in the costumes of the 1830's, and horsedrawn carriages were driving around on the streets. It was all quite interesting. Several in the group commented that it was not as good as Colonial Williamsburg, but it was still very nice and it depicted life in a different setting and time. Of course, nothing really compares with Williamsburg.
Under the trees in the afternoon, we heard of an interesting place to eat about 8 miles from Woodstock called Stoggy Hollow General Store and Cafe and decided to try it for dinner. It was very small, quite unusual and the food was good. A stoggy (pronouced like stogie) is a small wooden peg used in the making of shoes in the early 1800's. At one time there was a mill across the road where these little pegs were made. The Maynards, the Schumakers and the Bergs enjoyed this meal together.
At dinner Bus told us about the caravan he is leading next year, after the rally in Duluth, through western Canada from Glacier National Park in Montana, through Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise, the Columbia ice fields, and down to Vancouver ending in Victoria, British Columbia. He made it sound so interesting, we may have to try it.
After returning to camp, Mary Love had a surprise birthday party for Ann at their trailer with all the fixins, cake, candles and blueberries.
Tuesday, July 17, 1990
Mileage @ Start: 86850
After a drive through rural Connecticut we turned east into Rhode Island. This was one of the states that we had never been in before now. The caravan parked on the campus of Roger Williams College near Bristol, R.I.
After getting set up we drove into Providence and in the heart of the city found the First Baptist Church in America. It is located on a steep hill overlooking the city right on Main Street adjacent to the campus of Brown University. This church was established by Roger Williams in 1638, and is in fact the first Baptist church in this country. When the present building was built in 1775, the church was already 137 years old. It was just a year before U.S. independence was declared. Many of the craftsmen who worked on the building were available because of the general unemployment in Massachusetts following the Boston Tea Party.
The sanctuary seats 1400 in pews which are numbered and enclosed with entry doors on the ends. In the early days these pews were "sold" to members. The center pews near the front were valued higher than those at the back. Support for the church came from assessments on the members based on the value of their pews. It is a large church even by today's standards, but must have seemed enormous 200 years ago when the population of Providence was only 4500. Large fluted columns inside were hand carved from single trees. The pipe organ is in the back of the church in the balcony. The church has a prominent steeple 185 feet tall that can be seen from all over town. They have a copy of an article that appeared in the Providence Gazette of June 10, 1775 which reported, "Last Tuesday the Raising of the Steeple, which lasted three Days and an Half, was finished..." The church, known early on simply as the "Meeting House", was the first Baptist church ever to have a steeple.
We parked and walked in to be greeted by a charming young lady who directed us on a self guided tour of the facilities and told us some of the history. The church was part of the Brown University system until just a few years ago and still provides the auditorium for use in graduate commencement services. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., a member and teacher in the church, left an endowment which now finances the maintenance and upkeep of the building and grounds. The church has an active membership of about 300 members who support an operating budget for everything besides the building and grounds.
Having taught Baptist history to new members for so many years, it was a special thrill to stand in this 350 year old church, founded on the same basic principles as ours: individual religious freedom, called soul liberty, believers' baptism by immersion, and the rejection of any earthly hierarchy, leaving all matters of organization to the local church. Even though the church he founded has stood so long, Roger Williams himself became disenchanted and severed his affiliation after only a few years. He was to remain an unaffiliated preacher for the rest of his life. Following its liberal traditions, the church in 1987 called a woman as pastor. Rev. Kate Penfield is apparently serving well. The earth didn't open up and swallow the church when she took over. The church is no longer a neighborhood church and suffers from a lack of parking in its downtown location. Yet, aside from its historic significance, it seems to be a viable worship center.
From the church we walked over to the state capitol building and found the Rhode Island liberty bell inside the lobby. The building, while beautifully constructed out of white marble, was almost deserted and appeared more like a mausoleum than an active public building. The guard reported that they get very few visitors, especially at this time of year.
On Tuesday morning we drove down to Mystic Seaport, about 60 miles from Bristol. Mystic is an old shipbuilding town and the location where many of the fastest clipper ships of the 19th century were built. It was also the homeport for many of the old whaling vessels. An area of town has been restored and turned into a museum of all the stores and shops that supported the port activities. It is located on the Mystic River some 6 miles inland from open water in a well protected natural harbor.
The last of the old wooden whalers, known as the Charles W. Morgan, is tied up at the Middle Wharf and is used to demonstrate whaling procedures. One of a crew of young people actually climbs up to the crow's nest high in the rigging and cries out, "Thar she blows!" to let the crew know that a whale has been sighted. The rest of the crew then proceeds to lower a small boat equipped with harpoons, a mast, and long oars. As the crew readies the boat to go after the whale, a singer on shore belts out seafaring songs. It is then explained by the boat captain that the small boat will as quietly as possible maneuver up close, actually beaching the boat on the back of the whale. The lancer then thrusts a barbed harpoon into the flesh of the whale. The whale whale takes off, peeling out 1800 feet of line. At times the whale will run for 10 to 12 hours before tiring and in the process pull the small boat 5 miles away from the mother ship. When the whale tires, the boat pulls back alongside, kills the whale with another kind of lance, and the crew then has the laborious task of rowing back to the mothership, pulling the dead whale the whole distance. The most dangerous part of the procedure is the killing. When the whale feels the deadly
lance, it might turn on the boat and overturn it with its thrashing around.
After several hours of rowing, the procession finally reaches the mothership where they begin slicing off great slabs of blubber which are cooked down to recover the whale oil. The bones, teeth, and other usable parts are all brought aboard and saved. When finished the hunt begins again. It was often as long as four years from the time the whalers left Mystic before they returned with storage bins full of oil.
On a successful trip a whaler would kill 35 to 40 whales. All of this activity was outlawed in 1972 when an international treaty called for its end. Unfortunately, not all nations agreed to the treaty, but the U.S. was one of the signers, so there is no longer a whaling industry here. Japan is one of the non-participating nations.
We ate lunch as a group at a very elegant restaurant in the complex called the Seamen's Inne. This was one of the meals included in our caravan fee. After lunch we walked around town taking in all of the various things on display. One of the most interesting was a collection of old figureheads that have been recovered and preserved. These are the very decorative figures that were attached to the bows of the old sailing ships to bring good luck. All told it was a very worthwhile and educational day. I was unaware of the significance of Mystic Seaport before, although Dave had described it in one of his travelogs several years ago. We would probably have never seen it, but for the organization of the caravan.
On Thursday, we drove down to Newport, Rhode Island. Newport has a colorful history dating back to English rule. When the local people refer to the Golden Age, they are talking about a time prior to the Revolutionary War when Newport was as important a port city as Boston, Philadelphia or New York. A later era is called the Gilded Age. The Gilded Age occurred between the Civil War and World War I and produced a phenomenon in Newport that will never happen again. On the southern coast of Newport there are a large number of showplace "Summer Cottages", built by the ultra rich in the period between 1880 and 1910. Lady Astor, the queen of eastern society started it by building a summer home here. Then, in order to keep up and be approved by her, others built houses that were more and more lavish. The competition became intense and culminated with the building of The Breakers for Cornelius Vanderbilt II. We took tours of The Breakers and the Marble House, both of them Vanderbilt mansions, walked along the Cliff Walk for a ways, then drove around the coast to Hammersmith Farm for the last tour of the day.
The Breakers is the largest and most ornate of all the mansions. Obviously, cost was not a limiting factor. The building was completed in 1894 after two thousand workmen worked in shifts around the clock for two years. Many of the rooms were built in France, then dismantled and shipped to Newport, reassembled and fit into the space planned for them. Cornelius Vanderbilt II was a grandson and heir of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt. The architect drew inspiration from the palaces built for the merchant-princes of Genoa, Italy in the 16th century. The house has 70 rooms, all of which are decorated in the most opulent manner conceivable. While we were there, the Great Hall was being set up for a concert and over 200 chairs had been moved in for the occasion. It didn't even look crowded. I don't think I have ever seen anything comparable. Opulent, ornate, gaudy, lavish, rich, extravagant, dazzling, showplace ... are all words that could be used to describe the house. It could not be called a home. The family stayed there very little, yet it took 40 servants to manage the place.
The Marble House was built two years earlier than The Breakers for William K. Vanderbilt, Cornelius II's brother. It is smaller with only 52 rooms, but derives its name from the 500,000 cubic feet of Italian marble used in the construction. It also fronts on the Atlantic Ocean. In the intense competition to outspend his neighbors, William Vanderbilt's house was Newport's most expensive and most ornate until his brother built The Breakers. One room, called the Gold Ballroom, is decorated completely in gold leaf. It is difficult to envision that kind of wealth.
Cliff Walk is a 3 1/2 mile walkway meandering along the top of the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in front of the mansions. It has always been public right-of-way, and is an excellent way to view the ocean side of the buildings. The ocean was very calm while we were there, with very few waves breaking on the rocks. But the waves must put on a violent display when the water gets rough. The top of the cliffs is about 100 feet above the sea.
Hammersmith Farm is the only working farm in Newport, and was the summer home of the Auchincloss family until the 1970's. Hugh D. Auchincloss, Jr. was the step-father of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. When she and John Kennedy were married in 1953, Hammersmith Farm was the scene of their wedding reception. The 28 room house, with its 17 bathrooms and 14 fireplaces, sits on 50 acres overlooking Narrangansett Bay on one side and acres of rolling pastureland on the other. It was built in 1877 to serve the family as a comfortable place to spend their summers, and it has none of the opulence of the other mansions. These people were not thinking of social competition. The house is elegant in a simple way with bright comfortably furnished rooms. One of the rooms was set aside for John Kennedy's office during his presidential term, and he came here often to escape the pressures of Washington. His helicopter landed on the lawn in front of the house, and his yacht docked at the family pier. We had an excellent tour guide who had been at the farm long enough to have known the Auchincloss and Kennedy families well, and she did an excellent job of showing and explaining each room. All of the rooms were decorated by beautiful flower arrangements grown in gardens on the property. This was, by far, the most appealing of the homes we toured.
Our leader had arranged another meal for the whole group at the Coachman Restaurant in Tiverton, just across the bridge from our campsite. It was arranged for each of us to go in anytime during the evening, so everyone would not show up at once. It seemed strange to eat at a nice restaurant, then walk out without even paying a tip, the cost being covered as part of our caravan fee.
We had nothing scheduled for Friday, so used it to do necessaries like the laundry, haircuts, and a little rest. Tomorrow, the caravan leaves for Cape Cod.
Saturday, July 21, 1990
Mileage @ Start: 87182
This was a moving day, but we had only a short distance to drive from Bristol, R.I. to Sandwich, Massachusetts on Cape Cod. Traffic on the highways was especially heavy with people going and coming from the cape. We elected to stay in camp for the rest of the day and take it easy. The two Schumaker families, the Ransones and the Bergs had a cookout with steak and hotdogs.
Sunday morning came accompanied by a steady rain. Nevertheless, we attended church services at the West Parish of Barnstable, a church affiliated with the United Church of Christ. The little church building was built in 1717, and is the oldest of its kind still in existence. They call themselves the Gathered Church Estate of the Congregational Way. The pulpit was about ten feet above the floor, (high church?), and the visiting minister wore a black robe, but otherwise the meeting was rather informal. They had just completed a Pony Express pledge drive, and spent several minutes handing out awards to the "station agents," "trail bosses," and "riders." There was also an announcement that a congregational meeting would take place following the service to review the correctness of a recent dismissal of two members. The hymns were all familiar ones, and the people were friendly. I was curious about the distinctives of the church but had no opportunity to ask.
It was still raining as we left the church, so we elected to return to camp after lunch at a restaurant on the waterfront. Upon our return, we found that many of the caravaners were away seeing the sights despite the rain. These people have an insatiable appetite for sightseeing.
On Monday the weather cleared long enough for us to visit Plymouth Rock and to take a tour of the Mayflower II which is tied up near the rock. Plymouth Rock marks the spot where the pilgrims who sailed to America on the Mayflower landed to establish the first colony in Massachusetts in 1620. The rock is enshrined by a gazebo-like monument.
Mayflower II was built in England as a replica of the original. It was sailed from Plymouth, England to Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1957 and presented to this country as a gift from the English government. The unique part of the exhibit is the presence on the ship of a number of people in costumes of the 17th century who also speak in the dialect of the times. There were sailors, officers, clergy, and simple Puritans, and to speak with them was like going back in time and interviewing the actual people who made the trip in 1620. They discussed their reasons for the voyage, what England was like when they left, the hardships they endured, the friends who died in the severe winter soon after they landed, etc. But, they would not respond to a 20th century type question. For example, they would not answer a question about how they got the job on the boat in 1990. It was an interesting experience.
We encountered the same sort of actors at Plimouth Plantation, not far outside of the city of Plymouth. This is a reconstructed 17th century village made to look as authentic as possible depicting life of that period, and again, the people there dressed in the early costumes and spoke only in the old English dialect of their life in the village as if it were still 1640. This realistic acting made this attraction unique and different. Life in America in that time period was certainly not "the good old days."
We drove over to Hyannis in the afternoon, and found mobs of people. Several marquees around town made mention of Rose Kennedy's 100th birthday.
Back at camp, we received a bundle of mail and spent the rest of the afternoon reading and enjoying the news from home. At 5:30pm we met the O'Dells, the Foxes, the Maynards at the trailer home of Jay and Marilyn Smith. Afterward the whole caravan group met under the trees for another cookout. This time it was some delicious New England clam chowder prepared by Dave and his crew, with a dessert of cake, blueberries and whipped cream. We still have not met everyone, but the number that we have met is growing.
Tuesday, July 24, 1990
Mileage @ Start: 87330
This was my day on the dump crew. Bill Turner and I were stationed at the dump station and took care of the sewage dumping for every trailer as they left camp. We had everybody dumped and on the road by about 9:30am. That made us last on the road, and therefore the caboose so we had the additional responsibility of helping any trailer that had problems on the road. Fortunately, there were none of those.
Today's move was to Topsfield, Massachusetts, just north of Boston. We parked in the Topsfield fairgrounds, then convoyed into Salem to see the Witch Museum. This proved to be an exhibit designed to explain the Salem witch trials of 1692 in which 18 people were hanged, and another deliberately crushed to death, after being convicted of practicing witchcraft. It all stemmed from stories told to three young girls by a black servant from Barbados. The girls apparently developed the belief that they had been attacked by demons set upon them by witches. The search for the guilty "witches" by religious fanatics turned into a hysteria which spread all over New England. At one point in time, over 250 people were in prison, accused of being witches. Salem was the center of the hysteria and the site of the trials.
This history of "witches" is now what brings many tourists to Salem, and it is exploited heavily. Yet, it is a shame that Salem is recognized most for that reason. Its history as one of the first towns in New England, reflected by the hundreds of old buildings and homes that date to the 17th century, give it character beyond the witches.
One unique place is the House of Seven Gables made famous by the book of that name written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. We took a guided tour of the house which included a climb up a secret stairwell hidden behind a fireplace. The stairs led up to a room under one of the gables on the third floor. Our guide suggested several explanations for the secret stairs and room, including a place to hide contraband, or a place to hide runaway slaves heading for Canada on the "underground railroad," or simply just a retreat for the master of the house. Hawthorne was born in Salem in another house a few blocks away, but was often a visitor to the seven gabled house which belonged to a cousin. Of course the tour ended in a gift shop, and I bought the book to read again. The last time I read it, it was forced reading in school, and I don't remember much about it. We also toured Hawthorne's birthplace. Had it not been raining while at Salem, we would probably have been able to take in more of the sights, but what we did see was about all that could absorbed in a day anyway.
Rain on Wednesday caused us to pass on a scheduled trip to the Kennedy Library in Boston and a tour of the historic sites of Lexington and Concord. Those who tried it boarded a bus at the campsite and spent the day dodging showers. We caught up on chores around the trailer and relaxed. After the rain a few Canadian geese were seen feeding in field behind us.
Ann and Mary Love found some fresh vegetables in Topsfield and cooked a good supper for the Bergs, Schumakers and Ransones at the Schumaker trailer. Then the Ransones came to our house for an evening of dominoes afterward.
The skies cleared on Thursday and our wagonmaster ordered up four schoolbuses to take us all into Boston for the day. The wisdom of the buses was proven when we saw the traffic and parking problems. Fifty suburbans would have been the straw that broke the back of the camel. We first went to Harvard University to visit the zoology museums. We had heard before that the glass flower exhibits were special and they really were. They are really glass models of hundreds of species of plants and flowers. Some of them are life size and some many times life size, and all are made of the most delicate looking colored glass. The models were made in Dresden, Germany over a hundred years ago. The artists were Leopold Blaschka and his son, Rudolph. No one else, before or since, has ever had the combined scientific knowledge of botany and glass working or the time, talent and resources to create such master works of art.
Mrs. Elizabeth Ware of Boston financed the project and arranged for the the shipment of the models to America after their completion. She presented the collection to Harvard College in 1893. Altogether, there are over 3,000 pieces in the collection, many of which are cutaway sections of flowers showing all inner parts. Many include models of bees or birds, also of glass, illustrating the pollination process. Not one piece was broken in shipment from Germany. With the collection, students have an exceptional way of studying plant life. It is something that must be seen to be believed.
Also in the museum were stuffed examples of literally thousands of species of birds, fish, and animals, some now extinct. In another area are cases upon cases of rocks of all types from all over the world. We were there about two hours and did not begin to see it all or fully comprehend it. These are the kinds of things that we would probably never have seen travelling on our own.
After lunch at Durgin Park and a ride by the Boston Gardens and the Boston Commons, we visited the mother church of the Christian Scientists. And what a fantastic complex that is! We first toured the "mapparium", a transparent globe, 30 feet in diameter, with a walkway through the center. Viewing planet earth from the inside was unique. This was constructed of stained glass back in the 1930's and symbolizes the international influence of the Christian Science church. Next, we went through an elaborate reading room where all sorts of literature was being sold. Then the church proper. First came what they call the new church. This is a 3,000 seat auditorium that was completed in 1906. The floor area extends over half an acre, and it has seven balconies, three tiers at the back of the church and two tiers on each of the two sides. The predominant feature of the building is the pipe organ at the front with its 13,395 individual pipes. A massive thing!
At the rear of the new church is the original church building, which was built in 1894 to hold about 700 people. It too is magnificently appointed. The lady who was guiding our tour gave us a short lecture on the origins of the church and how Mary Baker Eddy came, through her belief in spiritual healing, to start the church back in 1879. Outside again, we walked around to the reflecting pool and tower. The whole complex covers about 15 acres in the heart of the city. It is like a sparkling jewel in the midst of an otherwise dirty and very busy Boston. We reboarded our bus and suffered through a long ride through heavy traffic back to the fairgrounds.
On Friday we returned to Boston for an early tour of the U.S.S. Constitution. Built in Boston in 1797, the Constitution is the oldest fullest commissioned warship in the world and is still a part of the U.S. Navy. The beautiful ship was affectionately called "Old Ironsides," not because in was ironclad, but because its 21 inch thick sides, made of live oak from the sea islands off the coast of Georgia, were never penetrated by a cannonball. Our tour guide was a young sailor dressed in the uniform of the 1812 Navy. He did a good job describing the ship as we went about three of its decks. It is a three masted vessel equipped for 36 sails which contained almost an acre of canvas. The main mast was 220 feet tall. The ship carried 56 cannon on two decks when fully armed and was crewed with 450 men and boys. Of that number 55 were marines and 30 were young boys, called powder monkeys. The sailors slept in shifts in some 200 hammocks swinging on the third deck down.
From 1801 until 1815 she fought 42 battles and won them all, although often suffering damage. In 1830 she was declared unseaworthy and was condemned to be broken up, but the poem, "Old Ironsides," by Justice Holmes aroused enough popular feeling that money was appropriated to recondition her. Today the ship is a national treasure. We were first in line, arriving about 8:30am. By the time the tours started, the line of people waiting to go aboard was over a block long.
There is a red strip painted on the ground which marks the route of a self-guided walking tour around historic spots of Boston. This is called the Freedom Trail and takes in such things as Old Ironsides, Bunker Hill, Paul Revere's house, the Old North Church, the Old State House, and several burial grounds.
We visited the monument at Bunker Hill, where the first major battle of the Revolutionary War was fought. Even though the battle was ultimately won by the British, it served to galvanize the desire of the colonists to fight for independence. It also cost the British dearly in lives which limited their fighting ability for months. A few of us climbed the 294 steps to the top of the obelisk monument and were rewarded by an exceptional view of the city of Boston.
After lunch, we walked the Freedom Trail to Paul Revere's house and the Old North Church. The Revere House is remarkably preserved. It is fairly small, though it has three floors. The rooms are furnished as they would have been in the early 1700's when he lived there with his ten children. Revere was a silversmith, a dentist, and operated a foundry which produced church bells among other things. He was also one of the patriots who played a large roll in the war for independence. He was immortalized by Longfellow's poem which described his midnight dash on horseback to get word to the Colonial Army about how the British were arriving.
The Old North Church gained enduring fame when Robert Newman, on the night of April 18, 1775, climbed the steeple and briefly hung up two lanterns which gave Paul Revere the signal he needed to begin his ride to sound the alarm. The shot "heard round the world" was fired on Lexington Green the following day.
Paul Revere was a founding member of the church which itself goes back to 1723 when the first service of the then new Christ Church was held. It was actually the second Anglican church in Boston. Inside, the church was divided into many pew boxes which are entered through a door, or gate, on the side. The boxes were about six feet square with seats on both sides. The sides of the boxes were about five feet high, making it almost impossible, while sitting on the hard seat, to see anything but the minister who was on the pulpit high above the congregation. Children must not be able to see at all. A brochure describes the pew walls as being the highest in America and states as the reason that it helped keep the worshippers warm.
We walked back to Quincy Market where people were in a wall-to-wall shopping frenzy. Boston is a crowded, busy, dirty, noisy, smelly metropolis with all the problems associated with America's other large cities. Yet, the history of the place gives it a unique character. There is a lot more there than we had time to see.
Saturday, July 28, 1990
Mileage @ Start: 87568
The morning dawned to what appeared would be a wet, rainy Massachusetts day. The air was so laden with moisture it was like being on the Maid of the Mist again. But toward noon, the skies cleared to make for a beautiful day. We drove with the Shoes out to Cape Ann, going through Manchester, Gloucester and Rockport. The fishing fleet was moving in and out at Gloucester. Many of the boats were gill netters with the long nets coiled onto a large reel at the stern of the vessels, while others were trawlers with side booms like shrimp boats. Some were painted in bright colors and were exceptionally clean, while others were dirty and worn looking. Tourists were lined up waiting to board a boat guaranteeing whale sightings. As we watched, one of these came in with 75 to 100 people aboard that reported seeing more whales than they could count. The trip is a 4 hour excursion that may be worth doing if we ever get back.
Rockport is a beautiful town at the end of the cape where land meets the ocean with a rocky face. Many nice homes have been built overlooking the water, and the downtown area is filled with shops for the tourists. Every cove and protected area is filled with pleasure boats. We had a good seafood meal in Gloucester and then dessert at a restaurant in Rockport.
Sunday, July 29, 1990
Mileage @ Start: 87568
Moving day again. From Topsfield we left Massachusetts and drove 220 miles to Jeffersonville, Vermont, northwest of Stowe. The caravan parked in a grassy field on the bank of a stream beneath the mountain. These Green Mountains of Vermont are really beautiful. It was like passing to the promised land after five days in the Boston area. On the way we stopped at the Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury where we stopped five years ago with the Cockrells. Apples weren't in season so there was no processing going on, but it brought back a few memories. We're parked in the high rent district next to Hubert and Audrey Owens from Gadsden, Alabama. Hubert and Audrey have a brand new 34 foot Limited Airstream.
On Monday we drove up the toll road to Mount Mansfield, the highest point in Vermont, then climbed on foot to the pinnacle along a very rough trail. The skies were exceptionally clear giving us a view that extended for miles across the mountains. This is beautiful country. From there we went over to the Von Trapp Family Lodge near Stowe for lunch in the Austrian Tea Room. The lodge is also on top of a mountain with excellent views. The von Trapp family came here in 1941, three years after fleeing Austria. Some of the family still live around Stowe. The shops in Stowe haven't changed much in five years. They are still very high priced and touristy. The Second Presbyterian Church of Stowe prepared and served a good supper for the caravanners in the Stowe Elementary School lunchroom.
The consensus opinion was that more time should have been provided here, but to meet our schedule, we had to pull out of Stowe on Tuesday morning. The drive through the mountains to Lincoln, New Hampshire was one of the most scenic yet. We passed through Franconia Notch and the Old Man of the Mountain and arrived in Lincoln early. This was my day on the parking crew, so we were with the advance group, leaving Jeffersonville at 7:00am. Our parking place in Lincoln is the parking lot of the Loon Mountain Ski Lodge. After settling in, we drove over in two groups to hike through Lost River Gorge.
Lost River Gorge was formed when the glacier receded 10,000 years ago. Huge granite boulders broke off the sides of the gorge and partially filled it, but the rocks are so large that passageways through the crevices provide an unusual trail. The gorge gets its names from the little stream of water which still flows through, disappearing at times as it flows through unseen depths in the rock piles. Boardwalks have been constructed to make passage easier for those not inclined to negotiate the "caves." White trunked birch trees that line the sides of the gorge find the most precarious places to attach their roots around the rocks.
On Wednesday we drove in convoy to Franconia Notch State Park and hiked through the Flume. There must have been 30 suburbans driving down Interstate 93 in line. Franconia Notch is but one of two places in the country where the Interstate Highway system narrows to a two lane road. The Flume is a deep gorge cutting through the the base of Mount Liberty where once the glacier existed. The gorge is 800 feet long and at places is as narrow as 12 feet. The vertical granite walls vary from 70 to 90 feet in height. The bottom of the gorge is strewn with all sizes and shapes of boulders over which a rather large stream of water flows and falls. It is really an unusual natural formation. The trail extends along a ledge near the bottom assisted by a boardwalk at the sheerest places. The trail back to the Visitor Center led to the Pool, which is a "pot hole" formed by the ancient swirling of the glacier runoff. The Pool of crystal clear water is 150 feet across and quite deep with a large waterfall at one end. The waterfall is spanned by a covered wooden bridge that was built from one tree that fell in a hurricane in 1938. The entire hike of about two miles was mostly on steep trails and stairs.
After the Flume excursion everyone split up and went their own way. We drove by the Old Man of the Mountain on our way to Twin Mountain, then over to Mount Washington. The top was buried in the clouds, but the cog railway was still running. Having done that before, we passed it by this time. The price for the ride is up to $32 per person. We had lunch in the Dining Room of Mount Washington Hotel, the last of the grand hotels built in New Hampshire around the turn of the century. The hotel is located in a valley below Mount Washington and must be a block long with a wide columned porch all around. The grounds include an 18-hole golf course that is beautifully landscaped.
Thursday was a "necessaries" day, set aside for getting things washed, fixed, etc. Our campsite is in a beautiful spot on a mountain stream near the top of Loon Mountain. These White Mountains are peaceful and easy on the eye. One disadvantage of caravanning like this is that we have to keep going to meet a schedule. We would like to have stayed longer in Vermont and in New Hampshire.
We had another "gam" in the evening, then a another caravan-wide cookout. The gam was hosted by Dorothy Bailey and attended by Charles and Inez Johnson, Gene and Linda Keutzer, Manny and Kathy Roeschlin, and the Bergs. Dorothy is from Decatur Alabama; the Johnsons are from Durham, NC; the Keutzers are from Peru, Illinois; and the Roeschlins from Toronto. Some of the folks were talking about having gone whale watching in Gloucester, describing it as the highlight of their whole trip. I guess we are going to have to go back to Gloucester and do that. The cookout that followed was especially good. Dave and his crew prepared two big pots of sloppy Joe, which was followed by peaches and ice cream. The cookouts and gams are designed to get people mingle and get better acquainted with each other.
Friday, August 3, 1990
Mileage @ Start: 88100
Moving day. From Lincoln, New Hampshire, we pulled some steep grades into the edge of Conway, then drove down the scenic highway through Osippee that we remembered well from our trip with the Cockrells in 1985. The three hour trip took us to the coast of Maine near Brunswick, where we are camped at Thomas Point Beach. This is the first campsite where we had no water hookup (or anything else), so spit baths were the order of the day. With 60 gallons of water in our reserve tanks, it really was no problem. After settling in, we drove back down U.S.1 to Freeport and to the L.L.Bean store. The temperature was a good twenty degrees warmer than in the mountains, so the airconditioning at L.L.Bean felt good. It's amazing the way people flock to that store. It is open 24 hours a day. I found a comfortable chair and enjoyed watching the people go crazy. Later, we found a good restaurant and enjoyed our first lobster meal.
On Saturday we convoyed in to Boothbay Harbor. We passed by Ponderosa Campground where we stayed in 1985 and met up with Jim and Ruby Jean Redman. It all looked the same as it did then. We wandered around Boothbay Harbor for a couple of hours then took a cruise boat out into the bay. The weather was perfect for cruising. The water was calm with just enough breeze to attract sail boats. As we got outside the barrier islands, we encountered a sail boat race with their beautiful many-colored spinnakers. Just beyond one of the rocky islands was a large family of harbor seals playing in the water. They were watching us with as much curiosity as we were them. Occasionally one would splash and roll. The boat captain said that the males were about six feet long when mature and the females a bit smaller. There must have been a hundred or more in the bunch.
The larger islands in the harbor have summer cottages on them, many of which appeared to be quite large. Squirrel Island was the most exclusive. It is a closed community, with many large cottages, but no new houses since 1935. Neither automobiles nor bicycles are allowed on the island. Transportation is by foot on a maze of foot paths. The estates are handed down from generation to generation staying in the same family. A ferry makes the trip over to the mainland seven times a day during the summer, carrying residents and supplies. All appeared tranquil as we watched from our boat, but I can imagine that things get pretty wild when storms come through.
The surface of the water is thickly spotted with lobster trap markers. We saw several lobstermen pulling their traps and boating their catches. Back at the dock I had a chance to ask one of them about his daily routine. He had about 500 traps that he tended, checking each trap every other day. On a typical day he brought in 200 to 250 pounds of lobster, for which he was paid about $3 per pound. During his workday, which began at 5:30am and ended at 7:30pm, he burned about 50 gallons of Diesel fuel. Most of his traps were in 60 to 80 feet of water.
After landing, we went over to the Lobsterman's Coop and enjoyed another lobster for lunch. This is where a number of the boats bring in their catch to sell. They also have large steam cookers where they prepared lobster for tourists like us to eat on the dock. A choice is made between 1 lb., 1 1/4 lb., or 1 1/2 lb., hard-shelled or soft. Then the cook puts the live lobster in a net bag and plunges it into the steam kettle for about 15 minutes. After it is done, they serve it on a tray with an ear of corn, drawn butter and nut cracker tools. Out of this world!
Sunday, August 5, 1990
Mileage @ Start: 88360
Our little community of travellers relocated to Blue Hill Fairgrounds at Blue Hill, Maine on Sunday morning. Blue Hill is but a short distance from Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. Our number has dwindled to 45 trailers since a few people have been called home for one reason or another. After setting up we drove down to the water along the Blue Hill peninsula, passing several beautiful spots along the way. The peninsula is a rocky promontory several miles long with a road traversing the summit. At several points the view out over the harbor was spectacular. Blue Hill Falls is a narrow inlet to a salt water lake that fills with the tide, then pours out of the inlet in turbulent rapids all during the ebb and return of the tidal waters. As the tide rises the current decreases until the water reverses its flow to again fill the lake. Quite an interesting quirk of nature.
We spent Monday around Bar Harbor and in Acadia National Park. It was not a clear day as fog rolled in continuously all day. While it would have been nicer to see clearly, the fog lent its own charm to the scenery. The park, which occupies most of Mount Desert Island, was made possible by a grant of some 11,000 acres by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. In the park, we stopped at Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, Jordan Pond and Cadillac Mountain and several other spots along the road. Sand Beach is a stretch of natural beach about 500 yards long at the head of a cove surrounded by rocky cliffs. With no wind, the ocean was almost at a dead calm, with only a few small waves slapping at the waterline. We walked the length of the beach taking pictures of the fog rolling in past the rocks. The fog didn't dampen the spirit of the vacationers though. There were hundreds of people on the beach, some swimming or wading in the ocean and others building sand castles or lying on the beach just as if the sun were out.
Thunder Hole is a gorge-like crevice in the rocks at a point on the seaward shore. When a wave comes into the crevice and hits the dead end, it explodes in thunderous fury. With a calm sea, however, the thunder was hardly a grunt. It was still an interesting sight and people were crawling all over the rocks like a bunch of ants. The huge pink granite rocks are formed in a myriad of shapes. We had to rely on pictures and imagination to "see" the turbulence that occurs when the sea is rough, as it must be much of the time.
Jordan Lake is a long inland freshwater lake with crystal clear water. At one end is a restaurant and gift shop and the beginning of a 50 mile carriage trail that was built by Rockefeller to give his guests access to the more unusual features of the area. The trails still exists and carriage rides are still available for the adventurous. The parking lot was so jammed that we could find no place to park, so after a quick stop to see what we could from the car, we drove on.
Cadillac Mountain is the highest point on the eastern seaboard. On a clear day the mountaintop provides a panoramic view of miles of rocky coastline. Although the top was above the fog and clear when we were there, little could be seen except for the top of the fog cloud. The mountain was alive with people, however, many of whom were picking wild blueberries. Blueberries were ripe for harvest, and according to the local weekly, a record crop is expected this year. The crop depends as much on the number of workers available as it does on the climate and other factors. With a slump in New England's economy, more people are available to work as "rakers" this year and the rains have been just right for the berries. Local processors expect to pack and freeze over 50 million pounds.
We enjoyed some delicious blueberry pie after the evening's lobster dinner. Our caravan leader suggested the Oak Point Lobster Pound in Trenton, and we found it to be an excellent place to eat in a beautiful location on the bay across from the park.
The shops in Bar Harbor were chock-a-block with lookers and spenders. The only parking places were several blocks from the center of town. We parked in the parking lot of the Bar Harbor Inn and walked back to town. A crafts fair was in progress in the park, but it was too crowded to attempt to stop again. This was obviously the peak of the tourist season. In a couple of months the place will be deserted, and most of the stores and concessions will close for the winter.
We are leaving the United States tomorrow and will be in the Maritime Provinces of Canada for the next month. Our first stop will be at Campobello Island, in New Brunswick, the summer home of Franklin Roosevelt before he was crippled with polio. From there, the caravan moves on to Nova Scotia and then to Prince Edward Island, where we disband the first week of September.
Wednesday, August 8, 1990
Mileage @ Start: 88700
Today was moving day from Blue Hill, Maine to Campobello Island in Canada. On the road out of Blue Hill we stopped to stretch in the parking lot of a lobster trap manufacturer. The young lady who was fabricating the traps was quite accommodating in showing us how they were designed and constructed. It was interesting to learn that each lobsterman has his own design, and very few are the same. The traps were made out of plastic coated heavy wire mesh with appropriate openings for the lobsters to enter. To get at the bait in the "kitchen," the lobster has to pass through a ring suspended by a net, called the head. When he tries to get out, he finds himself trapped in the "bedroom." Some of the traps have two bedrooms so that the lobsters can't battle each other. Small openings on the sides of the bedrooms allow the smaller lobsters to escape. The traps are weighted with bricks and have wooden runners on the bottom to protect the boat when the trap is hauled aboard. The configuration of all these features is changed to meet the superstitions of each fisherman. They can specify the color of plastic or netting, the number of bedrooms, the location of the escape hatches, the number of bricks and runners, etc. The traps cost almost $30 apiece, so a lobsterman who has 500 traps out has quite an investment.
We also saw fields of blueberries so thick that the whole surface of the ground appeared blue. This bore out the predictions heard earlier that there will be a record harvest this year.
We reached our destination on Campobello Island early in the day, crossing into Canada from Lubec, the easternmost city in the U.S. The caravan parked at a campground in a provincial park on the island. The fog was so thick it was almost raining. Five years ago when we were here, the fog was the same way. The Roosevelt summer cottage, with its 18 bedrooms, is preserved in an International Park on Campobello. It was here in 1921 that Franklin at the age of 38, developed polio. The house is just as the Roosevelts left it in 1939, with their furniture and even some clothing still in place. It is a good museum of what was considered modern and up-to-date in the thirties.
There is a quaint old lighthouse on each end of the island. The one on the northern end is on a point that can only be reached at low tide. The fog was too thick to see either very well. The tides in this area are nearly 20 feet and change every 5 1/2 to 6 hours. Where the water was fifteen feet deep between the main island and the northern lighthouse at 2:00pm, there was dry land three hours later. I walked across to the light, climbing some old iron ladders. We were told that whales could be spotted off shore in the Bay of Fundy from the lighthouse on a clear day. This is the same spot where we stood in '85 listening to the eerie sound of distant foghorns breaking the otherwise deathly quiet.
On Thursday afternoon the fog lifted for awhile allowing some pictures of the north end lighthouse. Not only was the lighthouse visible but several other islands were suddenly in view. After so much fog this was a beautiful sight. Exploring the little islands would be fun in a small boat. According to a park brochure, one of the nearby islands is the home of colorful puffin birds and another is the home of several families of seals.
The afternoon gam was at the home of Rich and Phyllis Harold and included Coe and Lois Roberts, Erskine and Martha Turner, Rich and Phyllis Harold, Buz and Rosie Maynard, and the Bergs.
Ann and I were on the cookout crew for the scheduled soup supper. Bus, our trailboss, had purchased some soup base from a wholesaler in South Bend. An old wood stove was in a shed at the campground and plenty of firewood was available, so preparing the soup was the activity of the evening on Thursday. Dave was in charge and had his crew well organized. The chores like splitting firewood, setting up tables, stirring the soup, serving it, and cleaning up afterward were all delegated out. In addition to the few cans of starter, various other ingredients appeared from mysterious places, and the soup not only tasted good, but was plentiful enough to serve the multitude. Sort of like the Bible story of the loaves and fishes. As a bonus, we got better acquainted with Ken and Delores Luhrs from California, Jim and Dea Loofbourow from Ohio, Norman and Clara Lammers from Wisconsin, Chic and Inez Johnson from North Carolina, and Gene and Linda Keutzer from Illinois.
Friday, August 10, 1990
Mileage @ Start: 88990
We left Campobello in the fog again, heading for Saint John, New Brunswick, a trip of about 130 miles. Ann thought she had just arrived in the promis d land because we parked in the parking lot of the largest shopping mall in Saint John. We tried to see the special things around St. John in the afternoon to allow Saturday for shopping at the mall.
Saint John lies on the Bay of Fundy at the mouth of the Saint John River. The river passes through a relatively narrow pass about 125 yards wide before proceeding to the bay. There is a 28.5 foot rise in tide at this point in the Bay of Fundy. This huge tidewater movement creates the phenomenon of reversing falls at the pass. The rising tide backs water through the pass at such a tremendous rate that white water rapids are created in an upstream direction. As the tide falls, the water reverses and rapids are created in the opposite direction. I took video of the sight two hours before the slack high, at the slack, and two hours after showing the changes. The cycle repeats itself every 12 1/2 hours.
In between the tide phases, we drove to downtown Saint John. It is an old, large port city of about 100,000 people. It is the oldest incorporated city in Canada, having been founded as Parrtown in 1783 by 3,000 Loyalists from New England who had left the new United States after the revolution. The name was changed to Saint John in 1785 to match the name of the river which was named after Saint John the Baptist. There were a few settlers and a trading post on the site some 150 years before that. Many old church buildings mark the skyline with their high pointed steeples. We walked around Market Square and visited an old general store and schoolhouse.
Sunday, August 12, 1990
Mileage @ Start: 89136
The caravan moved to Dieppe, New Brunswick, and again parked in the parking lot of a mall. Champlain Mall is the largest single story mall in eastern Canada with some 175 stores. Adjacent on the same property is an amusement park called the Crystal Palace, where we were welcomed by the City Manager and treated to music by a string band playing bluegrass, country and easy listening music. The city of Dieppe and the mall recognize the value of having 90 plus captive customers for three days.
Dieppe is really a suburb of Moncton, but very zealously claims its separate distinction. It has but 10,000 people, most of whom are French, as opposed to a predominance of English people in Moncton. The French are descendants of the Acadians who originally settled this area in the 17th century. They are cousins to the Acadians who migrated to Louisiana and became known as "Cajuns."
In Moncton, we saw our first tidal bore. The tides are so tremendous in the Bay of Fundy that they affect all the rivers in different ways. The Petitcodiac River which flows through Moncton, is shaped in such a way that the incoming tide actually becomes a small tidal wave as it advances up the river. In front of the wave, the river is flowing rapidly downstream, while behind the wave, the flow is upstream. The size of the wave varies from just a ripple to three feet in height depending on the position of the moon, wind, and other factors. The wave we watched was about a foot high. It took several minutes from the time we saw it coming in the distance until it passed directly in front of us. Sea gulls flocked at the wave and followed it upriver as the bore stirred up small sea life in the mud as it passed. The phenomenon repeats itself twice a day, each time twenty minutes later than the time before. The city has set aside a park at the best spot to watch the bore, calling it Bore Park. Several hundred people were on hand to watch the very interesting sight. We returned to the park two hours later and the river was ten to fifteen feet higher.
We also visited Magnetic Hill where the shape of the land gives the illusion of climbing a hill when actually going down. This is much like Spook Hill in Avon Park in Florida, but is exploited far more heavily for the tourists. A theme park has been built around the attraction.
On Monday, we drove with Millie and Buddy down to the Hopewell Rocks. This is a spot on the coast of the Bay of Fundy that has eroded in an unusual way, again the result of the tremendous tides. At this point the tides get as high as 46 feet. The tide waters ebb and flow so fast that the land has eroded leaving huge free-standing towers of red sandstone with trees still growing on the tops. The soil 40 feet below the surface is such that it erodes first leaving these unusual looking structures standing along the beach. They are referred to by various names: the rocks, the mushrooms, the flowerpots, etc., but none are really descriptive of the huge formations. The tide was low when we were there. At high tide the towers become small islands along the coast. The red soil throughout the area is continually washing into the bay with the tides, making the bay water a deep red color. On the way home we found some blueberries on the side of the road and picked enough to garnish some icecream later in the day.
Tides in the Bay of Fundy are the highest in the world, reaching 55 1/2 feet at Five Islands, Nova Scotia. The further up the bay, the higher the tides, because the bay is funnel shaped, getting narrower as it reaches the end. This causes the tidewater to "pile up" on each incoming tide. Much of the activity that depends on the water, such as fishing and shipping must be timed to coincide with the tides. Even tourist activities such as watching tidal bores or reversing falls or viewing the Hopewell Rocks occur in time with the tides.
The early settlers of this region were Frenchmen who developed a unique way of farming the low lands which are so fertile. To keep the tide waters out they constructed wooden conduits with swinging doors which opened with the pressure of the fresh water draining off the land and closed with the pressure of the incoming tidal salt water. The device was called an aboiteau. These were the early Acadians who, because of their nationality, were a thorn in the side of their British rulers.
Acadian history is very interesting. The name Acadia is an English spelling of the French name Acadie, which was the French way of spelling Arcadia, an idyllic area of ancient Greece. When the French first settled on what is now Nova Scotia, they called their new land Acadie and themselves the Acadiennes. When the area fell under British rule in 1710, the name of the land was changed to Nova Scotia, or New Scotland, but the French people there have ever since been the Acadians, and those who eventually went to Louisiana became the Cajuns.
The first record of French settlers in Nova Scotia is in 1604, although historians believe that French explorers and fur traders were here even before that. There was a clear distinction and very little contact between the Acadians and the French people of New France who settled the Quebec area. The Acadians by the mid 1700's, though still relatively small in number, had spread throughout the areas now called Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Cape Breton Island, New Brunswick, and even the upper part of Maine. They were largely ignored by the government of France, and as a result became quite independent. However, without help from France, they were unable to defend themselves against the British invaders, and became pawns in the colonizing competition between Britain and France. The British never trusted their French subjects and tried to get them to sign oaths of allegiance to the Crown. When the Acadians refused, the British decided in 1755 to deport them. In a period of nine years 10,000 Acadians had been shipped away. This started the migrations which broke up families and scattered the people into various parts of the New World. Some wound up in Quebec, others in the islands of the West Indies and others in Louisiana. In 1764, after the area had been fully Anglicized, the British ended the deportation and allowed the Acadians to return, and many did. Those that are now in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are descendants of those who returned. Present day New Brunswick has recognized the Acadians by declaring itself a bilingual province. All advertising, labeling, road signs and public announcements must be printed in both English and French. Also there are both English and French public schools.
On Tuesday, the Business Manager of the city of Dieppe, with two city buses to transport us, personally conducted us on a two-hour tour of the Dieppe/Moncton area. We drove through residential and commercial areas in Dieppe, Moncton and Riverview, saw several parks, Moncton University, the hospital, and wound up back at Magnetic Hill. All the while Jean Gaudet gave us a running commentary on the history of the area and the Acadians.
On Wednesday we moved from New Brunswick to Nova Scotia. The sun came out in all its glory, and the air was crystal clear. We were met at the Visitor's Center at the Nova Scotia line by a bagpiper in green kilts. This was one of the best visitor centers anywhere. We saw a short movie about Nova Scotia and went through several museum rooms with artifacts showing various parts of the Nova Scotia story. At the exit, a young lady was giving out samples of wild blueberries in two kinds of sauce.
We camped for the night at a campground right on the water near Five Islands. Our trailer was parked right on a ledge overlooking a beautiful cove. This part of the Bay of Fundy is called the Minas Basin. The change in tide is unbelievable, 45 to 55 feet. A mountain island is directly across from our campsite, along with several rock islands. The views were gorgeous. This was the prettiest campsite we have been in on the trip. Many of our people went out at low tide to dig for clams. This was another place where we could have stayed longer.
On Thursday we moved to Windsor and absorbed some more Acadian history. At nearby Grand Pre', a memorial to the deported Acadians has been built in the form of a replica of their old church which was on the same spot. Here, there is also a sculpture of Evangeline, the young girl immortalized by Longfellow's poem of that name which tells the story of the heartbreak and hardships of a newly married couple who were separated in the Acadian deportation.
It is easy to see how the Acadians loved this land. The green hillsides are beautiful and obviously fertile. The abundance of fish and seafood along the miles of shoreline must have kept many tables full with a minimum of effort. Warm breezes off the gulf stream keep the climate relatively moderate.
We also visited Fort Edward, on a hill near Windsor, where the British first issued their deportation proclamation. There is a blockhouse still standing that dates back to 1750. The hill gives a commanding view of the area for miles in all directions. We could even see our trailers parked at the fairgrounds a mile or so away.
Friday, August 17, 1990
Mileage @ Start: 89500
From Windsor, we moved westward along the north coast of the Nova Scotian peninsula through Grand Pre' where the Acadians were first told that they would be deported. Nova Scotia and the history of the Acadians are impossible to separate. With all we have heard about that, it seemed appropriate to purchase a copy of Longfellow's poem, Evangeline, and to read it. Poetry has never had any appeal to me before, but this one tells a gripping story. Being right here where it happened, and seeing the places and things mentioned in the poem, of course, brings it to life in a way otherwise not possible. What a traumatic thing it was for the poor French farmers who had been making their homes here for over a century to suddenly be herded up and put aboard ships without regard to keeping families or belongings together! From the shore they had to watch their homes and farms burned and their animals turned loose to the wild. The shock of seeing all of that killed Evangeline's father, and she was separated from her new husband who was put on another ship.
The story is remindful of how the Cherokee Indians were marched from their homes in North Carolina to the plains of Oklahoma. In a way it was worse for the Acadians because they were separated and scattered to many different places. Man's inhumanity to man! The pity is that most of the cruelty was done in the name of religion or one group's intolerance to the religion of another. The Acadians' only crime was that they would not renounce their Catholicism in favor of allegiance to the British monarch and the Anglican church. Are we living in a more enlightened era? I never expected to get wrapped up so much in history on this trip to Nova Scotia, but it is hard to avoid.
The scenery is impressive too! We moved on Friday to Annapolis Royal and parked in another beautiful spot overlooking a bay. With no hookups, everyone had a good chance to test their ability for self containment. The inconvenience was more than offset by the beauty of the spot, however. Next to our campsite is a power generating station which has harnessed the power of these tremendous tides. Virtually unmanned, the plant quietly produces electricity during the tidal flows each day. It was built as a prototype to test the procedure and materials with plans to build about 35 others in the area. This is the only such plant in North America at the present time and was the first of its kind in the world. Some of the characteristics of the plant are remarkable. It has required no maintenance in the six years it has been here. There are five technicians who oversee the operation but are seldom there. They report to work at this plant, then spend their day working a circuit of other stations in the area. The rotor blade on the "Straflo" turbine is 25 feet in diameter and turns at 50 rpm, and the plant has a 20,000 kilowatt capacity. Huge schools of fish can pass through the turbine blades without damaging the blades or harming the fish.
We toured the Historical Gardens in Annapolis Royal and saw some examples of the dike system built by the Acadians to control the flooding of their farmlands. We also toured Fort Anne, originally built by the French. The fort changed hands between the British and French 7 times before settling into British hands permanently in 1710. The fort is on a hill with a commanding view of the whole area. The capitol of Nova Scotia was earlier at Annapolis Royal, but was moved to Halifax in 1749. Port Royal, just across a small bay, claims the distinction of being the birthplace of Canada, i.e. where the first European settlement in Canada was made. This was the French settlement dating back to 1604.
On Saturday morning, Hubert Owen, Joe Comstock, and I found an opportunity to play golf in the hills outside of Annapolis Royal. The course had hazards that none of us had encountered before - large house size boulders in the middle of the fairways. If a ball careened off one of those boulders, there was no telling where it would land.
On Sunday, we drove around the eastern end of Nova Scotia and reestablished camp at in Shelbourne. Shelbourne was established in 1783 by loyalists who fled the newly formed United States following the Revolutionary War. At one time there were 10,000 such people here. I took a walk through the museum and found a book which listed the names of those early townspeople. Among the names was a Frederick Croft, who was taken to jail in Halifax after murdering a Captain Dent in "cold blood." He was removed from the jail and sent to Maryland in 1790.
Shelbourne sits near the upper end of a pretty little cove which opens directly onto the Atlantic Ocean. At one time Shelbourne was best known for the production of the Nova Scotia dory, a small two-man fishing boat. The only dories still built are built by a 94 year old master craftsman still at work in Shelbourne.
On Sunday evening, we were fed a seafood chowder dinner at the Anglican Church dining hall, and as a bonus were surprised by a terrific professional musical show. Robbie Smith, his mother, and his uncle played and sang a variety of numbers including spirituals, calypso, Irish folk music, Nova Scotia specials, and even a takeoff on some rock. The highlight was when Mrs. Smith sang Danny Boy and got a standing ovation. We will always remember Shelbourne because of this treat.
Monday, August 20, 1990
Mileage @ Start: 89700
With the passing through of a cold front, we woke up shivering to 41 degrees. The air, however was crystal clear with not a cloud in the sky. That made everything look better. We drove about 65 miles through some nice countryside to get to Lunenburg for a two day stay. Lunenburg is where National Sea Products has its main fish processing plant. When I left the company in 1963 to go to Brunswick, they were in the process of building a new modern plant. That plant was finished in 1964, and after the move, the old plant was turned into a museum. We toured the museum and drove out to the new plant. Plant tours were discontinued there, so we didn't get to see that as I would have liked. It brought back some memories though. Not only was National Sea a former employer, but they were our best customer at Adamo Cold Storage for many years.
Lunenburg is an interesting old town, quite obviously built around the fishing industry. Some of the streets are steeper than the streets of San Francisco as it lies on a hill overlooking a beautiful harbor. Stores that front on one street on the first floor, back up to the street behind on the third. Many old houses that are two and three story line the residential areas. The buildings, both commercial and residential, are brightly colored frame structures.
We drove with Frank and Ruby Schumaker out to Blue Rocks, a little fishing village on a cove a short ways from Lunenburg. We found some more blueberries nearby growing in a rocky area, and left Ruby picking while the rest drove to a group of houses on another cove in a small community called North Stonehurst. She had picked a plastic bag full by the time we returned. I took an overabundance of videotape pictures of the very picturesque area. The quaint little lighthouses just beg to have their pictures taken.
On Tuesday, we drove along the banks of the LaHave River to a cable ferry which took us across to LaHave, the first capitol of Acadia. At a small museum on the site of an old French fort we saw and heard more about the Acadians. Nova Scotia seems haunted by Acadian history. The river provides a beautiful setting for this little village. Almost every home has a view, if not frontage on the river. There is so much natural stone in the area, it is surprising that there are no buildings made of stone. Everything is frame construction, and most houses are very small. Most of the houses are painted white, but enough are painted with bright colors to break the monotony.
From LaHave, we drove along the west bank of the river about 15 miles to Bridgewater, a large city with modern commercial buildings (and a mall). Surprisingly, an ocean going freighter was there loading lumber for export. The river was so quiet and peaceful looking all the way inland, the freighter just looked out of place. After lunch in the mall, we drove back along the east bank of the river out to the Atlantic Ocean at a spot called The Ovens. Here the land presents a rugged rocky face to the sea. The wave action has hollowed out caves which extend back several hundred feet into the cliff. On a stretch of flat rock called a beach (no sand), many people were panning for gold. These were serious panners, several of whom had some gold dust in small containers. A marker indicated that there was a gold rush here in 1861. A campground at the top of the cliff overlooking the ocean might be a good choice for a future trip.
Back at camp in Lunenburg, we had a cookout with the last of the South Bend clam chowder. Some of the people who had dug for clams at Five Islands donated them for the chowder. These fresh clams added just enough to make it delicious. This was the last of our scheduled cookouts. Dave really worked hard buying the food and organizing the cook crews for our six cookouts. It was no easy task preparing for almost 100 people.
Wednesday, August 22, 1990
Mileage @ Start: 89800
The caravan moved to Halifax and set up at the Micmac Mall in Dartmouth. After a quick lunch we drove with the Schumakers and Comstocks to Peggy's Cove, about 35 miles to the coast. What an unusual sight! Solid granite all around. There is a small cove with fishing boats and a few houses, but the main feature is the massive granite slabs everywhere. At the ocean's edge the breakers crash against the rocks in explosions of spray and noise. And the ocean was relatively calm. We could not imagine what it would like in a storm. There is a light house out on a point that was very picturesque. We also drove in to the small village of East Dover where more modern homes are being built along the water in a small bay. Exploring this part of the world in a small boat would be a lot of fun. Islands everywhere. Some with trees, some absolutely nothing but rock. Much of the water is protected from the Atlantic itself.
The mall had arranged for some musical entertainment in the evening. In another part of the parking lot is a Holiday Rambler caravan, so the music was for both groups. Compared notes with a few of them to see where they had been. They were travelling a slightly different route, but seeing basically the same things.
Halifax is a major port city with a population of about 175,000 with many more in Dartmouth and the other suburbs. It is almost completely surrounded by water. Canadian Navy vessels stationed here were conducting exercises off shore in preparation for going to the Persian Gulf. We toured the harbor on Thursday and saw these vessels sitting low in the water. There seems to be a great deal of doubt as to what they will do when they get there. I guess it is primarily to show support for the almost universal disapproval of the Iraq invasion of Kuwait.
Our tour boat was the Haligonian III. We spent two hours aboard touring both Halifax Harbor and the Northwest Arm around the peninsula city. With the navy base and commercial shipping facilities, Halifax Harbor is a busy place. Northwest Arm is a fjord-like arm of the sea on the opposite side of Halifax from the harbor with beautiful residences and yacht basins. Small sailing craft dotted the water as we eased through.
On the way back to the dock we passed a government patrol boat towing a smaller fishing boat. We thought at the time that it was being towed in after engine problems, but learned later on TV that it was an American fishing vessel caught illegally fishing in Canadian waters. The captain faces the loss of his boat, his catch, and a possible fine of $500,000.
They are still talking here about a violent explosion that occurred in 1917 when aFrench munitions ship loaded with arms bound for the battlefields of Europe exploded in the harbor virtually demolishing the city. Over 2,000 people were killed and 9,000 injured as thousands of buildings were damaged or destroyed. A fifteen hundred pound section of anchor chain was found 2 1/2 miles from the explosion site. To compound the devastation, a severe winter storm hit the city on the following day killing many more people who were without shelter.
Halifax has been the capitol of Nova Scotia since 1749 when the British moved it here from the old Acadian capitol of Port Royal. It was a major marshalling point for troop ships and and supply convoys to Europe during WWII. A museum on the waterfront contains many seafaring artifacts and relics as well as models of famous ships which have sailed in and out of here. On a hill overlooking the city is the old Citadel which guarded the city for many years. The Citadel is one of the last forts of its kind ever built. When weaponry changed around the time of the American Civil War making long distance shelling possible the fort became obsolete, but it remained a command center for harbor defenses and a place to house troops waiting to be shipped out through WWII. In 1945 it was turned over to the park service and is now manned by college students in the summer reenacting life in the 1860's for tourists. The re-enactors are dressed in the uniform of Scottish regiments with their kilts, spats and bagpipes. Changing of the guard is very formal.
Following our tour of the fort, we strolled through the Public Gardens in downtown Halifax. These gardens occupy several acres and are beautifully planted in all sorts of brightly colored flowers. Ducks and swans and pigeons are there in abundance.
The three Canadian Navy vessels sailed out on Friday to a big fanfare. Townspeople flocked to the shoreline and the tops of buildings and bridges to watch the ships leave. It was a time of both excitement and sadness. Hundreds of yellow ribbons have been tied to shrubbery and trees as tokens of remembrance for the seamen who have left. This is the first time since the Korean War that Canadian warships have been put into action. We happened to be driving across MacDonald Bridge as the ships were pulling out and had a good view of the sailing. All 900 seamen were in dress uniform lining the rails. Five helicopters made several passes in formation before landing on the ships to accompany them.
From Halifax, we are scheduled to move on to Cape Breton Island which claims to have the most beautiful scenery of Nova Scotia.
Sunday, August 26, 1990
Mileage @ Start: 90008
Along the eastern shore of Nova Scotia, about halfway between Halifax and Sydney lies the little village of Sherbrooke. Sherbrooke was a mining town during a gold rush that started in 1861 and boomed for about twenty years. Today it is just a sleepy village at the head of one of those fjord-like fingers of water extending in from the Atlantic Ocean. To preserve a bit of its history, a part of the town has been sectioned off and restored to what it was like in the 19th century, not much different from what the rest of the town is today, except that there are no cars on the streets. Our caravan stopped for the night in the parking lot near the entrance to the restored area.
For six days we have had beautiful weather for sightseeing. Clear skies and clean air. It has gradually warmed up to reach daytime temperatures in the eighties, although the nights are cool and nice. Hubert Owens lined up a golf game for ten of the men yesterday afternoon at a course near Dartmouth. With narrow fairways, I spent a good deal of time in the woods looking for my ball, and as a result scored poorly but had an enjoyable time.
The drive from Halifax/Dartmouth to Sherbrooke followed the coastline and was very scenic. The forests bordering the water are full of little Christmas trees (spruce). The roads are a bit rough. Severe winters cause frost heaves which leave the roads bumpy in places. That means slow traveling. It took about 3 hours to drive the 120 miles to Sherbrooke. Our car and trailer are getting a good test. So far, our only trouble has been a leaky power steering unit which loses about an ounce a day, not serious enough to interrupt the trip to get fixed. No one else has had any serious problems either. Guess everybody began the trip with equipment in good order.
We have had two medical alerts. While in Lunenburg, Rich Harold went to the hospital with chest pains. $400 later, he was released with a diagnosis of a heart muscle virus, no attack. Then, Bob Green had a gallstone attack in the middle of the night, also while in Lunenburg. He spent the night at the hospital and rejoined the caravan in Halifax after getting relief. It is really amazing that there have been no more problems. Those two are among the younger men in the group. I guess caravanning is a healthy activity.
Cape Breton Island is the most mountainous region of Nova Scotia and is the location of the world famous Cabot Trail. We moved to Sydney on Monday and were welcomed to the Mayflower Mall by a bagpipe and drummer corps that put on a show in the parking lot. We used Sydney as a base to tour the old French fortress at Louisbourg and the Cabot Trail.
Cape Breton Island remained under French control for fifty years after the rest of Nova Scotia became British. Fortress Louisbourg was the center of French influence in North America until it too fell to the British in 1758. To insure that the fortress would never again be a threat, the British demolished all of the fortifications in 1760. The fortress lay in ruins for 200 years until 1960 when the Canadian government decided to reconstruct it. Original plans were found in France and each building was rebuilt on its original foundation. It was a massive twenty year project, but today is a fine example of what can be done if such an effort is made. It is open to the public June through September. This restoration is in a class with Colonial Williamsburg. Costumed guides are on hand to interpret and to give the community the look that it had in 1744 before the first siege.
In 1745, a volunteer force from New England captured the fortress after a 47 day siege. Three years later it was returned to the French by treaty as a bargaining chip in a shuffle of French and British possessions. Then in 1758, the fort was again captured by the British, ending French control in Canada.
We ate as a group in the Hotel de L'Marine. The meal was in the style that would have been served in 1744. We were given a pewter bowl and spoon and a napkin the size of a small table cloth. Then came bread, pea soup, vegetables, fish, and a tankard of ale, served by French women in their 18th century costumes.
The drive around the Cabot Trail was worth the whole trip. For simple beauty it was just about the best scenery we have ever seen. The brochures about the trail call it "the most spectacular drive in North America," and they are not far wrong. It certainly ranks with the Going to the Sun Highway in Glacier National Park and the Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park and the drive along the Oregon coast. The trail loops around the northern end of Cape Breton Island for about 185 miles, hugging the rugged coast line for most of the way and going up and over thousand foot high capes and headlands. About 60 miles, the prettiest part, pass through Cape Breton Highlands National Park. We stopped at most of the overlooks (lookoffs), climbing over massive rocks to watch the waves of the North Atlantic break against the cliffs. We were on the trail for 10 1/2 hours, and could have spent days.
Millie and Ruby joined Ann and I for the trip along the trail. Buddy and Frank had made other plans. We left the trailers just before 8:00am and drove from Sydney to Englishtown where we caught a short ferry ride over to the island. It was then only a short drive to the entrance to Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Our first stop after paying the $4 entrance fee was at Keltic Lodge on Middle Head. This is an elegant lodge owned by the Canadian government in an unbelievably beautiful setting. A stay at the lodge would be a classy way to spend a vacation and see the sights of Cape Breton. There was also a first-rate golf course that was part of the resort. The lodge is at the end of a peninsula on a high bluff on the eastern shoreline overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. We indulged in some ice cream at the restaurant there and walked around the manicured grounds.
Our next stop was at Ingonish Beach, a public beach in a cove surrounded by mountains. A recent storm had left a line of driftwood high on the beach. The water was clear and breaking on a sandy tan colored beach. On both sides of the cove the waves were exploding on the rocks. I'm sure that the pictures I took will not do the scene justice.
Up toward the north end of the island, we scrambled over rocks to get a good look at the waves crashing in. It was one of those spots that was so captivating that I had to pull myself away. It would have been easy to sit there for hours. Down the road we passed through a small fishing village called Neils Harbor where the people speak both English and French. The English has a pronounced Scottish accent, reflecting the history of the place. It was originally French, but after falling under British control in 1758, a great many Scottish people came over from the Isle of Skye and other islands of the Hebrides. Many places reflected the family names of of the old settlers, such as MacKenzie, McLeod, MacDonald, Macliesh, McNeil, McEachern, etc. The landscape, in fact, closely resembles the Scottish Highlands, and it is easy to see how the Scots felt right at home here.
From South Harbor we left the coast for a few miles, driving through picturesque mountains. The mountains were not too high above sea level, 1000 to 1500 feet, but they appeared tall because they rise so abruptly from the ocean, and the roads are very steep. At some stopping points the forest was predominantly birch, at others predominantly maple. Those places must be gorgeous in the fall when the leaves change. Everything was green when we were there. The evergreens appear to be mostly spruce, with the smaller trees looking like Christmas trees.
When we reached the western shoreline, the look was very different. The ruggedness of the mountains next to the sea was there, but the water was calm. The wind was coming from the east, so the west side of the island was protected. Birds were everywhere diving for fish. We stopped for lunch at a lobster pound and I enjoyed another whole lobster while the girls had chicken sandwiches.
We saw no wildlife other than birds, but were told that deer, elk, moose, bear, and smaller game can be seen. Most of the park is virgin wilderness accessible only by hiking trails. The animals stay back in the interior. By 5:00pm clouds were gathering and reports were that showers were on tap for the evening. We were blessed with good weather for most of our day, and it was certainly a day to remember. Cape Breton Island is a place that we want to return to when we can spend more time.
On Thursday I had hoped to line up a boat ride out to Bird Island to see the unusual puffin birds in their rookery, but I quickly learned that the puffins had left for the season. Having nothing else to do, Ann and I drove up to Glace Bay. This turned out to be a depressed looking mining town. We did see the Sky Princess tour ship in the harbor loading passengers for Nassau. Back in Sidney we got haircuts and got ready for the next move over to Prince Edward Island.
Sunday, September 2, 1990
Mileage @ Start: 90850
The trip from Sidney took two days with a stopover in Glenholme. Our instructions were to be at the P.E.I. ferry landing at 8:30am on Saturday. All the trailers left the Glenholme before daylight to convoy together the last 100 miles. This was the only occasion of the trip where we were all lined up on the road at once, and it was quite a sight. Most of the time we travelled in twos and threes. The ferry was a huge vessel capable of carrying several hundred cars and trucks. It even had rails on the bottom level for railcars. There was no problem getting all our rigs on. It took about 45 minutes to cover the 9 miles over to P.E.I., and another 45 to drive to the campground near Charlottetown, where we have full hookups for a change.
The most appealing thing about Prince Edward Island is the clear air. With no heavy industry and very few cars or people, there is nothing to pollute the air. The rolling countryside is very pretty, although there are relatively few trees. The early Europeans who came here stripped the virgin timber and shipped it back to Europe. What trees are evident are mostly small pine and spruce. The farms and pastureland appear to be very fertile and green. There are none of the rocks that marked the landscape on Nova Scotia. Estates are separated by lines of evergreen shrubs and trees. More than 10 percent of the island's 122,000 permanent residents live in Charlottetown, the provincial capitol. Most of the people are of British ancestry, with a few French and Dutch and some Micmac Indians.
After getting set up, we all drove into town for a prearranged lunch at the elegant Prince Edward Hotel. We were seated with Bob and Grace White from Daytona Beach, Florida and had a good chance to get better acquainted with them. Afterward, we drove across the island to P.E.I. National Park on the northern coast. It looked very much like the outer banks of North Carolina with sand dunes between the road and the beach. We walked across the dunes at one point for a look at the water and saw a wide beach with a few weekend bathers enjoying the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Our mail caught up with us for the first time since we've been in Canada, and it was good to hear from our friends. It is difficult to believe that we are into September now and have been on the road for four months. We may never be satisfied tied down to one spot again.
After church services at the Grace Baptist Church in Charlottetown (the pastor of the church, Robert W. Redding, knew both Martin Wedge and Stuart Boehmer from an earlier time in Toronto), we drove to the eastern part of the island to the area where Lucy Maud Montgomery was born. Now I didn't have the foggiest idea who Lucy Maud was, but maybe other, more literate folks, know about her. Anyway, Lucy Maud Montgomery was the author of Anne of Green Gables, a story about a little redheaded orphan girl who found her way to Prince Edward Island and captured the imagination of the townspeople. We visited the house where L.M.M. was born, and the one where she lived when she wrote the stories back in the early 1900's, and the cemetery where she lies at rest. The gift shops are full of Green Gables memorabilia.
We also visited Woodleigh where miniature replicas of important buildings in England and Scotland have been built and preserved. This began as a hobby of one man, E. W. Johnstone, and his son. They meticulously measured the buildings on the British Isles that they wanted to replicate, reduced the scale, sought out building materials which very nearly matched the real buildings, and went to work. The complex that is there now is the result of 50 years of labor, and it is quite remarkable. They have scaled down versions of the Tower of London, York Minster Cathedral, St. Giles Church, Penn Manor House, Ann Hathaway's Cottage, Robert Burns Cottage, Shakespeare's Birthplace, Dunvegan's Castle, and many more. We saw the originals of many of these buildings in 1987, and that made this exhibit more interesting.
While doing all of this driving, we saw beautiful countryside. Farms and dairies occupy most of the island. Clean air, rolling hills, green pastures, red soil, blue water, very few people or cars, all make for a perfectly beautiful and peaceful scene. Farmers were cutting and baling hay for the winter as we passed. Many of these farms adjoin the ocean and have thousands of feet of oceanfront enjoyed by a few cows. Where else in the world can that be seen? Our day's travels took us through Kensington, Burlington, New London, and Cavendish, before we got back to camp about dark.
On Monday, we drove to the westernmost point of the island where they were harvesting seaweed called Irish moss from the sea. Horses were being used to pull wire baskets through the surf. As the horse and rider rode back and forth collecting the moss, the waves at times would almost wash completely over them, but the old horse would just keep plodding along. After three passes back and forth they would ride up on the beach and empty the basket, then go back for more. This dark, purplish seaweed is loaded onto trucks and taken to small clearings to dry. It ultimately goes to processing plants which extract an emulsifier called "carragenan" which is used for such things as tooth paste, ice cream, wine and cough syrup. Half the world's supply of this substance comes from P.E.I.
The western end of the island is not nearly as cultivated as the mid-section. At places we drove for miles seeing nothing but young forest. More of the people living on this end of the island appear to be earning their living as fishermen than as farmers. Where the land meets the sea, there is a high bluff dropping sharply to the beach. The bluff is the same red color of the soil, and shows the effects of years of erosion.
On Monday evening, we went into Charlottetown to see a musical dramatization of the Anne of Green Gables story. This was very well done and made for an enjoyable evening.
On Tuesday, the last day of the caravan, Hubert Owen and I played golf at the Green Gables golf course. The course was on the oceanside progressing over scenic hills, beginning and ending at the Green Gables home of Lucy Maud.
Our final banquet, a coat and tie, dress-up affair, was held on Tuesday evening at the Prince Edward Hotel in Charlottetown, and what an occasion that was! The hotel had laid out a magnificent dinner buffet with all sorts of meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, and desserts. Bus was presented with a book of pictures of all the caravanners, and a resolution was passed to let little Lori, our 10 year old sheriff, keep all the fines she had collected from people caught without their ID badges. Dan Marron did a fine job of roasting Bus before presenting him with a gift of $450 ($10 per trailer) for his leadership efforts. Dave was given a chef's bonnet in appreciation of his organization of the cookouts. Then we were entertained by two young girls playing the parts of Anne of Green Gables and her best friend, Diana. Afterwards, there was a lot of hugging and tearful goodbyes and promises to stay in touch. We realize that it was probably the last time we will see some of the people, although it was always, "See you down the road." Hopefully, we will see some of them again at rallies or future caravans, for we have thoroughly enjoyed being with such a fine group of people. Bus gave each person a boarding pass for the ferry back to the mainland, said goodbye, and the scattering started. It would be interesting to know where everyone spent the next night, but of course that is impossible.
We got as far as St.Johns, NB, and for the first time in two months had to dig out the campground book and find a place to stay on our own. We took another ferry to a little island in the St.Johns River to stay at a campground called Hardings Point. It's really impossible to adequately describe this trip. It just has to be done to be fully appreciated. So, I hope that by sharing a bit of it, others might get out and do the same thing. If the opportunity is there, we wholeheartedly recommend it. The cost was minimal, about $2,500 total for 56 days, and two people can hardly live at home for that. So the main requirement is time.
From here we will go to Virginia to visit John, Barbara and the children for a few days, then to an Airstream rally at Sugarcreek, Ohio, then to Hiawassee, Georgia to watch the leaves change, then home by November 1st.
Thursday, September 6, 1990
Mileage @ Start: 91760
We reentered the United States at Calais, Maine after leaving St.Johns, New Brunswick early. From Calais the highway passed through some rural mountainous countryside that was largely unpopulated. Not realizing that there would be so few gas stations along the way, I almost got into trouble by not buying gas in Calais. When the guage showed empty, we pulled into a picnic area to ask other travellers approaching how far to the next gas station. When the answer was 25 miles, I unhooked the trailer and drove back 18 miles for gas. As it turned out later, we still had 4 gallons in the tank, and it was only 8 miles further on to the next station. But the experience did show us some of the comeraderie of Airstreamers. Jim Guthrie and his group of 3 trailers passed by while Ann was waiting at the trailer and was concerned about us. Since there was no more room there for him to stop, he drove on 8 miles, unhooked and came back to check on things. By then, I already had my gas, but the concern was greatly appreciated. We tagged along with them to Newport and we all had dinner together.
On Friday we drove southward on I-95 to Wells, Maine where we left the coast several years ago to run away from the hurricane. Wells appears to have prospered. We found a campground and drove on down to Kittery to see the much vaunted outlet stores. But Kittery was a disappointment, not nearly what we had envisioned. We drove over to Kennebunkport but couldn't find a parking place for the hordes of people.
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