McLobster's, McAnne, and the Jelly Fish Man
Trip Start Jun 17, 2008
50Trip End Aug 31, 2009
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Where I stayed
Domaine De La Chute Campground
- Let’s start with the cottage “cleaner”. To help finance this trip we rented out our house, and our cottage. The weekly cottage renters have the option of cleaning the cottage themselves before they leave, or paying us $125 to have it cleaned. Two of this year’s weekly renters chose to pay for cleaning, and so several months ago we arranged for a local cleaner to come in
Tracy: “We’re obviously disappointed that you didn’t come to clean the cottage two weeks ago. Can we count on you coming next week?”;
Cleaner: “Yes, sorry about that. I’ve been really busy and I forgot. For sure I’ll be there this week. I’ll even call the renters near the end of the week and let them know that I’ll be coming to check out the place. I won’t tell them that I’m the cleaner, because I don’t want them to think they can leave without cleaning the cottage.”;
Tracy (with admirable patience): “But they won’t clean the cottage. They have paid us so they don’t have to clean the cottage. We’re using that money to pay you to clean the cottage.”
Cleaner (entering the world of the absurd): “Oh, I don’t know if I’ll have time to clean the cottage
So, while travelling itself is fantastic, dealing with some of the items at home can be a little trying. I don’t know what we would have done over the past year without the help we received from our parents, and our neighbours, both at home and at the cottage.
· And then there was “the patient”. While in New Brunswick we went to Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park (more on that later). While we were talking to one of the park’s interpretive guides, up marched a middle-aged lady from parts unknown (although her husband was wearing a Myrtle Beach t-shirt, army fatigue pants and a “Buy American” baseball cap), interrupted us, actually saluted the guide, and then said she was in need of some first-aid. The interpretive guide (whose “doctoring abilities” I presume include little more than being able to unlock the room that holds the first-aid box) asked what was wrong. Mistake. The lady proceeded to explain how her (non-saluting) shoulder was hurting “right here” and there was a “twinge back here”, and perhaps it needed to be popped back into place. (Or maybe even operated on, I thought to myself)
· And we can’t forget about the “security” people. One of our credit card companies seems to pride itself on stopping fraud before it happens. Very admirable, but a little common sense attached to this worthy pursuit could be helpful. Early on in our trip, we discovered that this company (let’s call them Citibank “MC” for fun) was putting a freeze on our credit card every few days when a “questionable charge” went through. MC’s definition of a “questionable charge” included the purchase of Peruvian air tickets or Greek ferry tickets. Understandable I guess, but when it still happens after we explicitly tell them to expect international travel expenses, it gets a little frustrating. Not to mention a little embarrassing. Consider the time a Parisian restaurant owner looked down his nose at us and said (in that condescending tone that some French seem to use), “Monsieur, your credit card has been rejected. You don’t manage your money well, no?”
Our latest credit card block came because we were apparently charging too much money for gas (like it’s my fault gas prices are too high!). The MC security consultant in his best “lawyer for the prosecution” voice said, “Well sir, I see that you charged $125 to buy gas in Toronto on the morning of July 6th, and then later that day, you charged another $125 for gas near Quebec City
· And then there was the Starbucks barista in Nova Scotia, with the good old fashioned Maritime sense of humour. In purchasing a Chai Tea “treat” for us, mine was marked with a black marker to distinguish it from Tracy’s “soy milk” version. Normally they put a mark the side of the cup, but this time the black marker was on the lid. I have a sneaking suspicion that the barista’s true intent, which was achieved to perfection, was to have black marker transfer from the lid to the tip of my nose as I drank my tea. Tracy was nice enough to eventually point this out to me;
· And, as our final character, in Exhibit 1, all the way from the ocean off Prince Edward Island, I present to you Beached Jelly Fish Man. I liked him, as he didn’t say or do anything dumb the entire time we were with him. I think he even would have happily cleaned the cottage if I’d asked him;
Okay… I’m half way through this blog and I haven’t said anything of consequence (though I have been able to accomplish my usual weekly goal of good naturedly poking fun at the Americans and the French)
Prince Edward Island is a charming, scenic province best known for its trademark reddish brown soil and its potatoes. It’s also home to the world famous fictional character, Anne of Green Gables. Cavendish, the late author’s home, is overrun with “Anne” sights including the national historic “Green Gables” site and a full sized mock-up town of Avonlea (Anne’s fictional hometown). There are literally thousands of “Anne” souvenirs and, to top it off, all the local burly policemen wear fake red Anne pigtails under their constable hats (OK, I made that last one up, but you get the idea). I made the comment to Tracy that Cavendish has “a bit of a Niagara Falls feel to it” with its amusement parks, mini golf, ice cream shops and strip malls. For those of you not familiar with the way we have “compromised” some of our national treasures, this is not a good comment.
Regardless, we (especially Tracy and the girls) all enjoyed visiting the Green Gables National Historic Site (not once but twice…boy, that combo National Park/Historic Site annual pass is really coming in handy!*). And, of course we had to drive the 50 minutes to Charlottetown to see “Anne of Green Gables, The Musical”
The other part of PEI that we found interesting was “Confederation Bridge”. This bridge was built in 1997 and connects PEI to New Brunswick. This engineering marvel is 13 kilometres long, takes 10 minutes to cross, and almost wasn't built for fear that Anne would escape. It has 1.1 metre high guardrails on each side, so for anyone unfortunate enough to not be travelling in “The Big Zeke” (or a reasonable facsimile), there isn’t much of a view
And then, it was on to New Brunswick where most of our activities revolved around their amazing tides. For reasons that are too boring to get into, the Bay of Fundy area in New Brunswick has the highest tides in the world. In some areas they rise an astonishing 17 metres (51 feet for our American brethren). These funky tides allowed us tourists to witness the following:
· A “tidal bore” in the city of Moncton that occurs when the tide comes in. There is a river that flows through the town and into the ocean. When the high tide comes in, it actually causes a single wave (up to a foot high) to roll back up the river, and then effectively the river changes direction and the water flows away from the ocean for the next six hours;
· The volume of water flowing into the funnel shaped Bay of Fundy during every high tide exceeds 100 billion tonnes of water, and is greater than the combined average 24 hour flow of all the rivers in the world;
· At Fundy National Park [Did I mention that the combo National Park/Historic Site annual pass is really coming in handy?] we stood on a deck that had water lapping just beyond its base during high tide, but at low tide we couldn’t actually see far enough to spot any water;
· The Hopewell Rocks was another neat area that was covered with water during high tide but then allowed you to “walk on the ocean floor” at low tide
So New Brunswick, PEI and Nova Scotia were all enjoyable stops, but, in our collective opinion, none of them could match Newfoundland.
Let’s close off this blog with a few miscellaneous tidbits:
· You know you’re in the Maritimes when a McDonalds, built to look like a lighthouse, is serving up something called a McLobster. No thanks…and in fact, as a “cultural experience” we went for the real thing in New Brunswick…a 5-pounder to be exact;
· One of my favourite places in New Brunswick was a lookout called Cape Enrage. It was completely fogged in so we didn’t actually see it, but you have to love the name!;
· As part of one of those “nearing puberty” discussions we had with Michael, we told him that he was now becoming an adult
· And for little Sarah, who enjoys one tiny sip of our wine at dinner time…One day she decided that she would no longer drink wine on Tuesdays and Thursdays (…for who knows what reason). The first Tuesday rolled around, and before her sip we reminded her of her recent decision. Her response? “But it’s a Merlot!” and she happily broke her pledge. What have we done to her??;
· And as sad as it may be for us, our RV and friend, the Big Zeke, is now officially for sale…priced to sell (for anyone who is interested)!;
So that’s a wrap on another week. We’ve survived the Screech of Newfoundland, the McLobsters of Nova Scotia and the tides of New Brunswick. And, we’ve said goodbye to the cute little red haired, pigtailed legend of Prince Edward Island. And now, as we high tail it through Quebec (without, I hope, me having to talk to anyone) we look forward to our last official touristy duty of saying hello to the beavertail** selling guy in Ottawa…
* That’s my way of apologizing to Tracy for suggesting that “we will never get our money out of the combo National Park/Historic Site annual pass”).
** Canada’s own deep fried doughy and sugary pastry treat!!