Sight Seeing in Sidney (Not Quite!)

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June 14th 2012
Published: June 14th 2012
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It’s Wednesday and time for some intensive sightseeing in Nova Scotia. We docked as we were grabbing a quick breakfast in the Lido so that we could make our 8:00 on-shore meeting. So far there have been no general assembly tour orientations in the Showroom, which make sense to avoid congestion with everyone trying to get ashore at the same time. While it hasn’t been an issue on prior days this cruise, today we either were late arriving or there was some problem that delayed securing the ship, because the Captain’s announcement for disembarking on Deck 3 came about the same time we were supposed to be ashore. A crowd was already on Deck 4. Once ashore we were quickly ushered onto our bus for the Taste of the Cabot Trail tour.

Our tour guide had a running shtick poking fun at the driver, such as him having an appointment on Friday to take his driver’s test, and he’s sure he’ll pass this time. It almost became funny when he started commenting about his girlfriend following us on the bus, but more on that later. He explained how he had to sit down while he talked because the police were present and evidently he can’t be standing when the bus is moving. We started out on a very smooth highway. Fog had settled in at the port and seemed to stay with us as we proceeded on our way. We crossed a long green painted bridge over a channel connecting the Bras d’Or Lakes with the Atlantic. The only other entrance to the lakes is locks connecting the lake to the Bay of Saint Lawrence, brackish water merging the Saint Lawrence River with the Atlantic Ocean. Down to the left as we began to cross the bridge was a single lighthouse on the tip of a small narrow peninsula.

Many old functional buildings, such have lighthouses, have been acquired by individuals our guide noted, such as one lighthouse someone planned to convert to his home, but it proved more costly than he could afford. Another popular choice is the acquisition of old churches. He pointed out one such church that was someone’s current residence. Another church was converted into a doctor’s office, but he supposed that it wasn’t prudent not to have put a fence around the new medical practice. This is because arriving patients might think that the rows of crosses are part of the practice. This does remind me of something Donalda mentioned yesterday, Sharon and I had both learned something new, and it raises an interesting question now: When a church becomes a doctor’s office, does a graveyard become a cemetery? She had informed us that the word graveyard is where you bury people next to and associated with a church.

There was nothing but fog when we arrived at Saint Anne’s and so we kept driving. We then made a coffee and restroom break at the Clucking Hen. It was a cute little coffee shop and we shared a chocolate chip cookie and something to drink. It was right after this that our guide commented about being followed by his girlfriend, a patrol officer who was following the bus closely. Each turn, they confirmed that she was still there. The guide remarked how this was probably a new patrol officer and didn’t know that busses don’t have a license plate in the rear. We eventually reached our next stop to see working lobstermen ashore, selling their catch to buyers. We learned the difference between the round crab traps and the more boxy lobster traps, and how the traps have an escape hatch that allows smaller lobsters to escape. The bus pulled slowly around the building, and sure enough the officer was on foot coming over to the bus. And she was concerned about the license plate. She went back to her patrol car and called in and confirmed that while cars only have a license in the back, busses only display them in the front in Nova Scotia.

Our bus pulled into a beach area, with a small sandy beach ringed by a rock outcropping. We were told that all of the rocks were from the sea, and at high tide the sandy beach completely disappears. The fog appeared to be starting to burn off, and forecasts for a nice afternoon seemed promising.

The trees and green in the area makes this a promising place for those who come to see the colors change. The best viewing ranges from September and into the first part of October. As was the case on PEI, many lupines were in bloom, purple is by far the most common color right now, but we’ve seen pink and white as well. We drove and saw a large house on a hill and narrow isthmus that a doctor had built. When he died it became the Keltic Lodge and a golf course was added to the grounds. For a while I thought this might be a golfing tour as our guide pointed out the tee-off spots for half of the holes as we drove by. The golf course is literally chiseled out of the woods which line and separate every hole. The view of the ocean on both sides would have been spectacular if not for the limited visibility.

We next stop at a local restaurant for what was billed as a light lunch. They had a cold-cut sandwich buffet setup, many kinds of bread, roast beef, ham, and spicy salami, Swiss cheese and cheddar. Two kinds of soup were available, a hearty vegetable soup and a delicious fish chowder. The also offered all the mussels you could eat. The food was filling and quite good. The also had a delicious apple crisp for dessert.

Our time appeared to be running short, and we still had a two hour trip back to the ship which was scheduled to leave at 3:30pm. We made a brief stop on a lookout above the green bridge and lighthouse and took some pictures.

Our ship departure time was approaching fast, and our guide had already received more than one call from the ship asking our ETA. We managed to hit every stoplight in town turning red. We saw many Tim Horton’s, some even walking distance from each other. We also saw an advertisement on a local McDs for McLobster. Our guide informed us that they cost about C$6.99. I’m thinking they must be better than the lobster roll I had yesterday. We did get back to the ship and they rolled up the gangway behind us.

We had just enough time to rush up to the Crow’s Nest for Team Trivia. We met up with our two partners from two days earlier, and added two that we had eaten dinner with. We started out well, but nobody got which animal they tested the electric toothbrush on before offering that product to the public. If you said “Dog”, then you might be a trivia champion. We then rushed to the Showroom for bingo. I got to stand in the first game, and Sharon got to stand for the last game of blackout. All of the games had multiple winners, and one lady was a winner in each of the first three games.

Back to our room to change into sharp casual and then to the Rotterdam Dining room. Sharon actually found a soup she could order, eschewing the cold blueberry soup because it has seeds, and choosing instead the turkey and rice soup. I ordered the 4-cheese quiche and then the creamy carrot soup. Sharon ordered the steak with mashed potatoes and blue cheese sauce (which she avoided). The steak was cooked pink and she enjoyed it. I had the Parmesan encrusted veal with small roasted potatoes and green beans. Sharon ordered her Alaska avalanche cake with cinnamon ice cream, while I just had a scoop of the cinnamon ice cream.

We went to the casino after dinner. Sharon found her machine, but made a deposit this time. I got into a lively game of blackjack, and things were going pretty good to start. Sharon went to see the piano bar, and the guitarist, before retiring to our cabin. She didn’t want to go to the show. Things started going poorly for me, and I started making minimum bets. I lost 13 hands in a row, which topped by one the winning streak I’d had on my first night. Once I one a hand, it took about another pass through the shoe before things became more amicable. I won a couple of good double down hands, and after about an hour and a half of play I quit, over $100 ahead for the day.


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