Summer Vacation to the Canadian Maritime Provinces

Published: September 10th 2011
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28 July 2000 Friday. I worked until noon while Linda packed up the car and organized the house. She likes to have the house in pristine order before we leave for a trip. Our neighbors Tom and Wendy would take care of our cats; we always took care of their cats when they were on vacation. I got home at 12:15 pm expecting to depart immediately. But there were errands; to buy a hostess gift, snacks for the trip and lunch.

We finally hit the road at 1:30 pm heading north on US 15 to I-81. He hot heavy traffic and rain in Scranton. At 6:30 we called our hotel for that night in Syracuse to see if our friends, Buz and Kathy, who would be joining us on the trip had arrived yet. They had no record of our reservation, and no room left. We asked them to tell our friend to wait for us., and to find us another hotel (it turns out that I had made a mistake and made the reservation for August). We arrived at the hotel at the same time as our friends and managed to get rooms at a historic grand hotel in downtown Syracuse. We had a late supper in the hotel coffee shop.

29 July 2000 Saturday. We were on the road at 8 am, stopping just north of town at Denny’s for breakfast. We continued on I-81 until just before the Canadian border, where we turned east along the U.S. side of the St Lawrence River to Alexandria Bay. We took a boat over to Boldt Castle on one of the Thousand Islands. The castle was built by the owner of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, but the interior wasn’t completed because his wife died unexpectedly. He couldn’t imagine spending time there without her. There was a wedding in progress when we were there.

We continued on to Ottawa, arriving at 4 pm. We had just enough time to walk to Parliament Hill and Château Laurier before meeting our friends, John and Ruth, for dinner at their home. Buz and Kathy stayed in town. John had planned the evening for the kids…video games for Will and DVD’s for the girls. Us adults had a pleasant time at dinner and talking about old times at NATO. We left about 11 pm.

30 July 2000 Sunday. On the way to see the changing of the guard on Parliament Hill, I stopped at an ATM to change money. No ATM would take my American Express card. I called American Express and they informed me that Bank of Montreal ATM would work. The only one I could find was out of order.

We were early so we toured the Parliament Building before seeing the changing of the guard; which was very colorful with red uniforms and black bearskin hats, accompanied by bagpipes…even better than Buckingham Palace.

We checked out of our hotel before noon, and then drove to the Museum of Civilization. We saw the exhibit on Indian art and culture, and then walked through the tableau of Canadian history, finishing with a movie about the Trans Canadian Railroad and a late lunch.

We departed for Quebec City at 2 pm and checked in to our hotel about 7:30 pm. Our hotel was in the old part of town in the shadow of the majestic Chateau Frontenac so there were plenty of quaint restaurants from which to choose. I had moules mariniere. It was so much like Brussels. Afterwards we walked around the gas lit cobblestone streets. A brisk cold wind drove us back to our cozy hotel.

31 July 2000 Monday. This was the first day the kids could sleep in as we planned to spend the entire day walking around the old town. We planned to have a leisurely breakfast with Buz and Kathy, so were quiet getting dressed. The kids were curious as to why we were getting ready without nagging them to get up so they all got up too; even Tamara.

After breakfast we walked to the Bank of Montreal to get money from their ATM…it didn’t work either. I called American Express to “express” my displeasure.

We took a walking tour of the lower old town and saw a tall ship from Chile and their parade band. We had crepes for lunch. Buz and Kathy did their thing while I went in search of a working ATM. The Bank of Montreal informed me that they did not have an agreement with American Express. I finally had to resort to taking a cash advance on my Visa card, thereby incurring exorbitant interest and fees.

We continued walking around old town and shopping, returning to the hotel at 2:45 pm for a siesta. I read in the park. We had dinner with Buz and Kathy and then turned in.

1 August 2000 Tuesday. We made up for the previous day of all walking by driving from Québec City to the Acadian Peninsula for New Brunswick. We departed about 9 am and drove along the south bank of the St Lawrence River, then cut across the Gaspe Peninsula to Campbelltown where we had lunch.

We arrived at our B&B in Caraquet at 7:30 pm. Our B&B was built in 1920 by an Acadian family whose ancestors had arrived on these shores in the 1600’s. Each bedroom was individually decorated in antique furniture. The kids complained that it wasn’t air conditioned, but we didn’t need it at that latitude.

We asked for recommendations for dinner, and were sent to a family restaurant in La Caraquette. The dinner was great and so was the view over the harbor. After dinner we tried to take a walk on the beach, but the mosquitoes were swarming. Back at our B&B I talked to the hosts while Linda and the kids watched TV.

2 August 2000 Wednesday. Our first stop o our itinerary was the Acadian Open Air Museum. As it didn’t open until 10 am, we could sleep in. However, Buz, Kathy, Linda and I awoke at 7 am and had a leisurely breakfast served by our hosts. They told us that theirs was the first B&B in Canada…they got the idea while serving in the Canadian Air Force stationed in Lahr, Germany from the German zimmerfrei. The kids eventually got up and had a late breakfast.

We arrived at the museum as it opened. The museum consisted of two dozen 19th century farmsteads and business establishments that had been moved there from the surrounding area. We had lunch of Acadian cooking and by 12:45 pm continued on our journey towards Prince Edward Island.

We crossed the Confederation Bridge and turned north through the rolling countryside of the island. Our destination was the West Point Lighthouse that had been converted into a B&B. We arrived at 6:30 pm in time for dinner. After dinner we walked along the beach and watched the light go round and round. Linda and the kids climbed to the top of the lighthouse. Buz and Kathy’s room was in the lighthouse, and our room was in the keeper’s house.

3 August 2000 Thursday. Today we drove from the top to the bottom of Prince Edward Island. Our first stop was the “Green Gables” house, the inspiration for Lucy Maud Montgomery’s 1908 book, “Anne of Green Gables.” We stopped at many other scenic and artisan shops along the way, and bought some pottery.

We arrived at the Inn at Bay Fortune at 4 pm. The inn was previously owned by Colleen Dewhurst, who starred in Anne of Avonlea, and her husband, George C. Scott, of “Patton” fame. We stayed in their bedroom, which was large enough to have a sitting room, and with a balcony looking out over the bay. The inn is also famous for its chef, who has a cooking program on Canadian TV.

After checking in we headed to Souris to do our laundry. We got back to the inn in time for dinner. The kids ate spaghetti in their room, while Buz, Kathy, Linda, and I ate a gourmet dinner prepared by the finest chef in the province. Each dish featured the best produce from the island. Dessert was rose, rhubarb, raspberry, and lavender ice cream accompanied by the petals of the flowers, which were edible.

After dinner we walked to the jetty and on the way back met a gardener working in his beautiful garden. He took us on a tour. It turned out that he was a very famous gardener who travels all over Canada to judge gardens in each town and gives awards for the best. We turned in about 10 pm.

4 August 2000 Friday. After a delicious breakfast we departed about 8:30 am for the ferry landing at Woods Island for the 1 ½ hour crossing to Picton, Nova Scotia. From there we headed east to Cape Breton. For lunch we stopped at McDonalds and had a McLobster.

We got to Baddeck, the summer home of Alexander Graham Bell, about 3 pm. We checked into another B&B, the Lynwood Inn, which is a very nice Victorian mansion looking out over the town and lake, Bras D’Or. We had two large rooms on the second floor.

Will and I took a small ferry over to the small island across from the town where there is a beach. Will swam and played with other vacationing children. Linda and the girls had a siesta and then went shopping.

We ate dinner at the inn and then walked through the residential area along the waterfront. Will insisted that I rent a row boat, but only he and Tamara went for a ride with me. Will panicked as soon as we left shore, so I had to return to let him out. After our ride we returned to the inn for cards, TV and reading.

5 August Saturday. After breakfast we took the Cabot Trail, the Atlantic version of the Pacific Coast Highway at Big Sur, along the north coast of Cape Breton. The weather was perfect…scattered high clouds, slight wind and 68 degrees. Our first stop was the Acadian settlement of Chetacamp where to local handicraft was pull rugs. We bought several as gifts.

The entrance to the Cape Breton Highlands National Park was just beyond the town so we stopped at the visitor center to get information on hiking trails. We then toured the park, stopping many times for pictures and take hikes. We didn’t see any moose, but think we saw the spouts of whales in the ocean far below us.

By 4 pm we realized we needed to pick up our pace if we were to get to Louisbourg by dinner. We were stuck behind some very slow cars so didn’t arrive at the Cranberry Cove Inn until 6:45 pm. The innkeeper was the least hospitable that we encountered on our entire trip.

We walked around town and had a simple dinner at a local eatery followed by a large ice cream cone…the weather was quite warm. We returned to the inn about 9 pm and used their whirlpool.

6 August 2000 Sunday. We woke up to perfect weather again. Breakfast was at 8 pm, following which we drove over to the Louisbourg Fortress and were the first to enter. The fort is a restored version of the original French fort as it appeared in 1744 before being captured by the British in 1748. The British gave it back before taking it again in 1758, this time demolishing it. In each house people in costume demonstrated life from that period. Each building was furnished authentically. We saw the changing of the guard and then had French colonial food, soup and meat pie, for lunch. It was very good.

We departed about 1 pm and
View of Quebec City from the fortressView of Quebec City from the fortressView of Quebec City from the fortress

Chateau Frontenac in the foreground
then took the long scenic southern coastal route to Halifax, arriving at our hotel about 8 pm. Buz, Kathy and I walked down to the waterfront where a busker’s festival was just winding down, so we returned to our hotel.

7 August 2000 Monday. After breakfast we walked to the park and then to the Maritime Museum. There we toured a modern Navy minesweeper, an old oceanographic survey ship, and the museum which featured Titanic artifacts, as this is where the survivors were brought. After the museum we walked to the warehouse district where restored and converted warehouses now have shops and restaurants where we ate lunch.

Then we retrieved our cars and drove to Peggy’s Cove, a very scenic spot on the rocky coastline. As we arrived the cloudy skies opened up with drenching rain that continued the rest of the afternoon. We had ponchos and umbrellas so walked to the fishing village and lighthouse.

We then drove to Lunenburg where we checked into the Boscawen Inn…another very large Victorian mansion. We walked around town and had dinner at a nice seafood restaurant. The kids ate at a separate table so the adults could have some peace and quiet conversation. We had steak and lobster. After dinner the adults played cards and dominos while the kids watched TV; then turned in about 10 pm.

8 August 2000 Tuesday. We awoke to another cloudy day, and after breakfast took the scenic route to Mahone Bay and then the faster route to Parrsboro, on the Bay of Fundy, where we checked into the Riverside Cottages about 12:30 pm.

After lunch we visited the Geology Museum to learn about the local rocks that include amethyst and fossils. We spent the rest of the afternoon looking for fossils and interesting rocks. The tide was out, about 40’ below high tide, so a lot of rocks were exposed. We loaded our trunk with rock samples and then did our laundry and went to dinner. After dinner we returned to the beach to see the difference between low and high tides…quite a difference!

9 August 2000 Wednesday. We headed to Springhill, hometown of Anne Murray, for donuts at a Tim Horton, and then continued through Moncton to the Hopewell Rocks. At 11:30 am the tide was low enough that we could walk to the base of this interesting geological formation of arches and columns form be the eroding tides.

We backtracked slightly to Moncton for lunch and then drove to St John, the capital of New Brunswick. We proceeded to get lost, which was apparent to a kindly gentleman who offered to escort us to a garage next the historic city center. We got lost exiting the garage. This time I spotted some people in 18th century period costumes so asked them for directions. The lady with a large gold chain around her neck took us to the market as that is where she was headed. It turned out the she was the mayor and was going to participate in a ceremony commemorating St John’s 200th anniversary. She gave us each a commemorative gold pin.

We shopped for 1 ½ hours before heading to St George where we checked into our hotel, the Granite Town Hotel…very nice. We walked around town and saw the fish hatchery and steps. We ate dinner back at our hotel and then watched TV.

10 August 2000 Thursday. We woke to the rainiest, foggiest day yet, and after breakfast headed the couple miles to the U.S. border, where 9 am Maritime time became 8 am Eastern time.

As we approached Bar Harbor the weather cleared up. It was a sunny and 70 degrees when we arrived there at 11 am. We proceeded to the harbor cruise ticket booth and booked a 4:30 pm “Seal Watch / Lobster Catch” cruise and then headed to lunch on the pier. Will complained because it wasn’t air conditioned…good grief! We had lobster again.

We shopped a bit before catching the cruise, which was great. Even the kids enjoyed it. We caught crabs and lobsters and saw seals diving for fish.

We returned to port at 6 pm and then drove to the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia NP to see the sun set. This is the first bit of U.S. territory that get the first sun at sunrise. The view of Frechman's Bay was fantastic.

We descended after sunset and drove through Northeast Harbor to Ellsworth for a quick dinner since we wanted to get to our hotel in Bangor in time for the kids to swim. The line at McDonalds was very long so we went across the street to Friendlies, which appeared empty. We ordered right away, but it took forever to bring the food at which point the waitress informed Linda that they didn’t have any clam chowder. Rather than wait forever for an alternative, Linda and Will went back to McDonalds. We ate our dinner, but when we got to McDonalds, they were still waiting for their food. Needless to say we didn’t get to our hotel in Bangor until 10 pm. Fortunately the pool didn’t close until 11 pm.

11 August 2000 Friday. The weather was perfect so we drove to the White Mountains, arriving in Gorham, New Hampshire at the northern end about noon. We ate lunch, all except Will who saw a bug on the door and believed to place to be infested.

We drove through the Pinkham Notch, one of three, to Conway, where Buz, Kathy and Linda decided to take the old train for the scenic tour. The kids didn’t want to go so I drive them to Weirs Beach on Lake Winnipesaukee where there were supposed to be amusements for them. They were not impressed so we drive to our hotel in Concord so they could use the pool for the rest of the afternoon. We expected to see the others about 6 pm so when they hadn’t shown by 6:30 pm I started to worry. They finally arrived at 7:30 pm. We order Thai take out for dinner and then played Dominoes before bed.

12 August 2000 Saturday. We decided to travel all the way back to Virginia that day so that we could rest on Sunday. We still took the scenic route through Keene, NH and Burlington, Vermont, and then through many quaint villages between there and Bennington, VT, and then to Stockbridge, Massachusetts in the Berkshires.

We then took the fastest way to Virginia, arriving home at 9:30 pm. We drove a total of 4220 miles in two weeks. We swore off any future road trips with the kids; but we had said that before! They want to go to Las Vegas next year. Ha!

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