Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Embracing 2019 With HARMONY

A few years ago, I was introduced to the concept of choosing one single word to help guide my actions through the coming year.  That one single word becomes the cornerstone of what's important to me without actually being a goal.  When I set goals, I seem to have an innate ability to undermine them.  It's almost as if I become determined to sabotage my own efforts, as if a goal is simply setting myself up for failure; simply too much pressure.  One single word has no such power.  Instead, it allows me to move at my own pace, while I ever-so-slowly build awareness of the little things that ultimately impact the big things in my life. One single word is all about being rather than doing; it encompasses every aspect of my life, rather than a single component of it.

Choosing one single word to live by for an entire year takes time, self examination, and reflection.  For me, it starts by focusing on a few personal traits that could use a bit of tweaking.  My word for 2017 was CHALLENGE.  I was transitioning into retirement and felt I needed to find new outlets not only for my mental well-being but also physically.    I started a bucket list and on that list was starting a Joy Jar so that I remembered to celebrate the little joys along with the big joys.   Through the year, I ticked off a number of items, including that Joy Jar.  Many items remain a work in progress. Of course, I am also adding new items and removing those that no longer feel relevant.  In other words, my bucket list is very fluid, just like life!   

CHALLENGE can be a very big topic, or at least, that's what I thought. . . until I chose my word for 2018:  BE.  While I have managed to go a little more with the flow over the past year, I still have a lot of work to do toward living in the moment without trying to control every aspect of it.   I just read the blog, 34 Life Lessons I Learned in 2018; No. 4, 'Planning is Escapism' nailed me!  Did I happen to mention that my entire 30-year career has been focused on planning?  It’s not only what I do, it’s who I am!  I don't know that I fully agree with the philosophy that making a plan is simply another technique in the procrastination arsenal, but it sure is food for thought. It's also a good reminder that it's okay not to have a plan for everything. If I thought CHALLENGE was, well, challenging, landing on BE has even been moreso!  Baby steps!

My short list for 2019 began as about a half dozen words which I successfully whittled down to two before settling on that one single word to lead me into 2019.  Harmony!  Even whispering it to myself fills my soul with a sense of Peace. Calm. Balance.  Harmony can be directed outward.  Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by all the conflict in the world.  By being generous and caring towards my spouse; by spending more time with friends and family; by contributing in a meaningful way within my community, I am building the foundation to my own internal sense of harmony.  

One of my challenges is learning how to overcome differences and disagreements harmoniously.  When I was growing up, my family's communication style was not only loud but combative.  These 'discussions' as my mother liked to call them, were generally not done in anger, though they were often very heated and, yes, very loud!  While we considered ourselves to be assertive, I fear any onlooker would use the term, aggressive.  While I believe I am an active listener, I suspect many would argue that as I have yet to learn to avoid interrupting.  You see, the other lesson I learned at a very early age was, if being loud didn’t get the attention needed to assert my opinion, the simply talk right over people.  Honestly, it’s even more than a habit; it feels like it’s ingrained in the fabric of my brain chemistry.  It's as if it is on fire and, if I don’t release that flow of thoughts immediately, they will be forever lost.  Perhaps bringing a sense of harmony into my life will help me quell that raging inferno while keeping the flame alive. Baby steps!

Did I mention that my partner and I both have very strong personalities?  We have both worked very hard to build professional reputations for knowing our business and being very good at what we do.  We have both become very accustomed to running our own show with little to no interference.  This has resulted in more than a few hiccups while learning to embrace our retirement. Dare I use the word conflict?  If the shoe fits. . .   Letting go of pride, being open to compromise and bringing harmony into our relationship can only be beneficial.  Long ago, we accepted that we do not have to be on the same page, we do not have to agree on every subject, to live in harmony with each other.  We have often joked that in our 40+ year relationship, we have successfully cancelled out each other’s vote in every single election at all three levels of government!  My word, harmony, can be the touchstone I need to remind me that it’s not about control; it’s about embracing the very differences that likely attracted us to each other in the first place!

There are a few things I do that already bring me a sense of peace, joy and harmony.  A few years ago, while I was transitioning my career toward retirement, we decided to add a dog to our family.  Our little Quinn has become quite a focal point of our lives and I embraced that responsibility of caring for and training her with gusto!  But Quinn isn’t your average dog; in fact, I’m pretty sure I met myself in dog form as she is every bit as stubborn, opinionated and willful as I am!  Yes, challenging is one of the words I would use to describe our foray into dogdom but also, great joy, a sense of accomplishment and yes, even harmony.  Our daily walks help me in my personal health and wellness journey.  The physicality of hiking through pastures, bush, and cultivated fields is not only good for my body, it works wonders for my soul.  Having nothing but nature as a backdrop my mind easily shifts into something of a meditative state where the worries of the day slide away into oblivion and I can be in harmony within my own little world.

So, there you have it.  my word for 2019.  Harmony.  I must say, I'm already loving it!  

Harmony  [hahr-muh-nee]  noun, plural har·mo·nies
1.    agreement; accord; harmonious relations.
2.    a consistent, orderly, or pleasing arrangement of parts; congruity.


Sunday, 16 December 2018

Notes from the Road: Crossing Canada (Part 4) - Back on the Prairie

Thunder Bay, ON to Rosebank, MN

We spent our 34th night on the road in Pine Tree Campground and Trailer Park, on Birch River, near Prawda, MB.  A small family owned resort, it's clear to see the attraction for the seasonal campers.  It was peaceful, clean and incredibly beautiful, along the banks of the meandering Birch River.

Pine Tree Campground, Prawda, MB

It wasn't long before we found ourselves back in Big Sky Country. Montana isn't the only place with Big Sky; when we hit the wide open prairies of Manitoba, we heaved a collective sigh of relief and commented on how good it felt to see the various shades of greens and golds set against a beautiful blue expanse.  Most of us have always classed Eric as a Maritimer but, as we basked in the pleasure of a view-shed that literally went for miles, it occurred to us both that, after some 38 years of living in Alberta, Eric is, indeed a Prairie boy at heart.

When you think of Miami, you think of  Florida, right?  Did you know there is also a Miami in Manitoba?  True, it isn't as large and it doesn't have a beach.  Located some 100km southwest of Winnipeg, it's still the hub of its local area with a K-12 school, and curling and skating rinks.  It's claim to fame came just before Christmas Day, 2005, when all but one of its 45 signs were stolen. Miami was also the focal point of a prank by one of the local radio stations, which ran a contest offering an all-expenses-paid trip to Miami.  Apparently not everyone saw the humour; there was even talk of waging a lawsuit! Geez, some people just can't take a joke! Anyway, if you are by that way, considering stopping in to visit the railway museum.

The last leg of our journey home
As is our way, we stayed off of the main thoroughfares. Our plan was to skirt along the southern borders of Manitoba and Saskatchewan before turning northward, and toward home, near Red Deer, Alberta.  Our chosen route introduced us to a sense of Manitoba whimsy that we didn't know existed.  For example, did you know that Roland, MB lays claim to the world's largest pumpkin?  This supersized replica weighs 1,684 pounds, stands 12 feet tall and is 12 feet wide. 

Roland, MB
Constructed in 1990, this Giant Pumpkin even made it into the Guinness World Book of Records in 1997! I know what you're thinking; if this is indeed the world's largest pumpkin, clearly, I lay claim to the world's strongest man!

Deloraine, MB
We shared our 35th night on the road at a lovely well-maintained municipal campground in Deloraine, where we were treated to some spectacular Manitoba sunsets.  Trust me when I tell you there no scene the can rival a Prairie sunset. 

Melita, MB
While Sunny, the Banana and Breezy, the Blue Jay may have been the drawing card for Melita, it was the local Farmers Market and all its fresh produce that kept us. The area is steeped in history, dating back to the Sourisford Prehistoric Linear Mounds, remnants of the largest concentration of ancient burial mounds in Canada. The Mounds date back to 900 AD.  While the site itself is visually unimpressive to the average Joe (being us), you have to admit, that's a pretty spectacular tidbit of history. The area is also famous as the Grassland Birds Capital of the Province.  Remember that Manitoba whimsy I mentioned?  Melita calls itself ' a town with A-peel"! 

While there is a vast beauty to a horizontal landscape, there is also the downside that comes with it.  I don't know about you but being blown about like a loose tumbleweed is not my idea of a good time.  It wasn't haven't much fun in the driver's seat of my SUV as the wind buffeted our wee Winnie Drop.  As much as we wanted to skirt Canada's southern border, we decided we would enjoy ourselves a lot more if we pointed ourselves north, travelling with the wind at our backside.  

It didn't take long for Eric to realize that we were not far from his BFF's ancestral home of McAuley so we decided to check it out too. As we meandered our way down the streets, we came across an antiques and collectibles sale. Of course, Eric had to go in.  Not only did we find ourselves in a vast collection, the owner was born and raised in McAuley.  And so began our personal history lesson.  The community's biggest pride and joy was the McAuley Blazers. I know nothing about baseball but I'm told a .599 winning percentage over 21 years is definitely something to be proud of!  The team was inducted into the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011; according to our host, it was the first and only time, she saw grown men, including her dear old dad, holding onto each other and crying.  Not only were these men incredibly proud, there was a tinge of sadness as some of their team mates were inducted posthumously.

On a side note, it's a good thing we were close to home because Eric managed to fill the last remaining spaces we had with.. . you guessed it. . . antiques and collectibles.

Somewhere in Saskatchewan

As we continued to make our way, I was more than a little insistent that we take a detour to Little Manitou Lake.  I had visited this community 8 years prior and was determined to return.  In fact, I'm still determined to return!  Eric was none too thrilled to be dragging wee Winnie through this community.  Not only are the streets incredibly narrow, they are also incredibly steep.  There were, in fact, times when I wasn't fully confident that my SUV had the power to get us up some of the hills.  And did I mention, the roads are not only gravel but deeply rutted?  I had visions of returning in the Corvette but I have a sneaking suspicion that isn't going to happen.  At any rate, what is to be found at the bottom of the valley, along Little Manitou Lake, is fully worth the angst. I'm not going to give you all the details because I'm planning on going back and spending some real time.  But, just in case you're curious, here is a promotional video.

By now, even though we were loving the scenery, we were getting a little antsy to get home.  On we went through Outlook, Rosetown, Biggar and Macklin after which we finally crossed the border into our beloved Alberta.  I would be lying if I said we weren't somewhat exhilarated to see that big Prairie Rose welcoming us home. I admit, it kind of made us both giddy!  Clearly fall was in the air and combines were in the field.   

What Alberta embraces:  Big Skies!  Fields of Gold! Vestiges of Oil & Gas
It's not that we didn't enjoy our road trip though, admittedly, I enjoyed it more than Eric. But, after a long time away, it's so nice to be able to crawl into your own bed, don't you think? All told, we spent 39 nights on the road.  Over 185.5 hours, we put on 12,539 kms at a total cost of $6,800.  We have spent that much (each) on a two week vacation at an all-inclusive resort!  

What did we learn?  Well, to begin with, it took us a bit of time to learn how to travel with each other and a dog.  We had a bit of a dog incident on our second night that not only left us scratching our heads but gave us some worries. Both having worked our entire adult lives, spending 24/7 with just each other is an adjustment. By the time we were headed home we were pretty much in sync, not only with the dog but with each other.   We are still a work in progress but, most days, I think we are almost 'there'. 

There were parts of our journey that we both immensely enjoyed. Trading in our big 5th Wheel for Wee Winnie was the right choice.  Our only complaint is the bed; one has to crawl over the other.  No surprise. We knew that when we bought it.  We did fine. We found, once we pared down our belongings, there is actually quite a bit of storage space.  We love the roomy 3/4 bath; even the shower isn't bad! The AC is noisy but we rarely need it. We went a full 5 days without services and could probably have gone a 6th.  As most of our local camping is off grid, that's good to know!

Walmart Camping! No muss, No fuss!
We relished our evenings and found ourselves stopping earlier and earlier.  It became the habit for Eric to set up the outside while I set up the inside, poured us a bourbon and got supper organized.  We soaked up long daylight hours on the way down; when the evenings became cool on the way home, we played a few hands of cards before settling into bed with a good book.  We have a TV but we never figured out how to get a local channel (who knew one has to turn on the antenna?).  We had movies but we never bothered with them either.  Being off the grid is not a bad thing. Quinn (the dog) kept us both active, another good thing when travelling.

We enjoyed our time with our people, limited though it was.  Certainly, we loved seeing familiar faces and thoroughly enjoyed the few new friends we made.  We found the sights, scenery and people of Canada spectacular, as always.  I think we may have even learned how to appreciate each other in different ways.
Would we do it again? I'm pretty sure Eric's response would be a resounding 'no'.  We both recognized at the outset that driving across the country is not his cup of tea. He did it 38 years ago, over 6 days, and that was good enough for him. So really, he made the trip for me.  We both understood that I would need to step up and do my share of the driving.  We would need many breaks throughout the day, many of which focused on Eric's interests.

I, on the other hand, would do it all over again!  Tomorrow!  Except for those very windy days, I didn't mind pulling Wee Winnie. While I was intimidated at the thought of pulling her through urban centres, once I had a couple under my belt, I was no longer afraid.  Eric took the time to show me how to set up and break down camp.  I think I could even go it alone. . . if only I could back into a camping stall. One day, I'll get there, I promise.

And here ends our journey.  I blog for me.  It helps me collect my thoughts and commit to memory, highlights of our travels and other things of import. That said, I hope it helps others in some small way, perhaps planning their own trip or just filling in time.    If you have questions, if there is something you feel is missing, if there is a way I can be better, please don't be shy.  

Until our next adventure. . . . I can hardly wait!


Saturday, 24 November 2018

Notes from the Road: Crossing Canada (Part 3) - Central Canada

The Road Home, New Brunswick to Trois Rivieres, QC
Let's see, where were we?  Ah, yes, just leaving New Brunswick.  Oh how I loved Small Town, Quebec!  Sometimes Broader Canada has little more than disparaging remarks for Quebec's passion for protecting its language and culture but I have a different perspective. Admittedly, travelling through this lovely province can be a bit daunting when one only speaks English. According to Stats Canada, while French may be the mother tongue of only 22% of Canadians, it is the first language for about 80% of Quebecois and that number is increasing! Indeed, as we continued to explore, we found the lack of English speaking Francophones to be the norm.  Initially, it was a bit disconcerting to find ourselves a minority in our own country.  We had to consciously remind ourselves that Canada is, after all, a bilingual country; perhaps we have has much responsibility to be able to converse in French as Francophones in English.  I don't know why but, more than anything, we were caught unaware.  Once we checked our attitude and moved through Quebec in the same manner we might adopt while visiting any other place in the world where English is not the first language, we did perfectly fine. A friendly face and the desire to communicate trumps the need for a mutual language. 

One of the Many Dairies we Passed Along the Saint Laurence
What I found most endearing was that this Province truly embraces the concept of shopping local.  I remember one little shopping expedition, in particular, that exemplified the concept.  We were in a town of perhaps 5,000 population, with a single main street.  I entered a market only to find that most of what it carried was produce related. While I made my purchases, I inquired where I might find the other sundry items I was looking for and was directed to a second market about a block down the street.  Here I found all of the additional items on my list but not before I took note of how complementary these two stores were.  There was very little overlap except in essential items.  Not only did the two businesses offer little competition toward the other; much of the inventory was also produced within the Province.  I liked that.  I liked that a lot!

There is nothing new about the increasing demand for local produce throughout Canada; the big story is the life these markets breathe into Quebec's small farms. Here, the farm-to-table experience is not only alive and well, but thriving.  Perhaps one of the most successful examples is market gardener Jean-Martin Fortier who freely shares the tricks of his trade.  We can all learn from this gentleman!

Originally erected in 1739, the Aulnaies Mill was fully restored in 1975.  
If you have the time to stay away from the major freeways and follow along the very scenic Saint Lawrence, you will also experience an area steeped in history. Take Saint-Roch-de-Aulnaies,a heritage and natural municipality and one of the oldest seigniories of the Cote-du-Sud region.  The French-inspired architecture includes a stone church (1854), small procession chapel (1792) and flour mill (1739).  Today this mill produces 11 types of organic flour (an annual production of 100 tons) with the same mechanism of the XIX century and all available in its very own bakery! It doesn't get much more local than that! Tours of the mill and its 7 hectare grounds will transport you back to in time by staff dressed in period costume and fully immersed in their respective roles.

The mill grounds today

You certainly won't want to miss the gift shop. . . or maybe you will. . . of all the stops we made along the way, this is where I spent the most amount money, coming away with a hand woven cotton coverlet for our bed.  Now that winter is upon us, I can't tell you how much we love snuggling in under it!

Trois Rivieres to Tobermory

We crossed the Saint Lawrence at Trois Revieres and into Ontario at Hawkesbury, on the south shore of the Ottawa River. From here, we meandered our way through Alexandria, Chesterville and Winchester, until we found ourselves in Merrickville.  This quaint little village is one of several along the Rideau Canal, itself a UNESCO World Heritage site.  

The Operation of the Locks on the Rideau Canal, Merrickville, ON

With its main street lined by gift shops, antique stores and boutiques housed in historic sandstone buildings your biggest challenge will be finding enough time to explore every nook and cranny that calls out to you.  If you don't feel like shopping, check out the Blockhouse Museum, or wonder across the bridge to the Merrickville Industrial Ruins on Pig Island. The Blockhouse, with it's metre-thick walls, was constructed as part of the canal defense system and is the second largest remaining in Canada.  

Merickville Industrial Ruins

Glen Allen Park, Days Gone By
It wasn't long before we found ourselves camped for the night on Crowe Lake, in the district of Marmora and Lake.  I admit, I was more than a little curious about this community.  It was the childhood home of a good friend of mine who had anything but a happy upbringing.  After many years away, her initial return brought with it pain and sadness and yet, she still remarks on the physical beauty of the area. Originally a mining town and lumbering community, the big attraction today is the legacy of the Marmora Open Pit Mine, being a man-made lake, a full 75 acres in area with depths of more than 600' and filled with clear blue spring water.

The View hasn't Changed Much at Glen Allen Park

Travelling west on the Highway 7, we were poking around in a wee little shop in Omemee, now park of the City of Kawartha Lakes.  At one time a thriving shipping point for timber and grain, Omemee's more recent claim to fame is that it is also singer/songwriter Neil Young's childhood home and the town in North Ontario as it was described in the lyrics of "Helpless".  There's even a Youngtown Rock and Roll Museum!
Neil Young (top row, 3rd from the left) 1951-52 Class Photo

Memorabilia Proudly Displayed in a Local Craft Store
In fact, we were told by the owner of the Butternut Folk Art Store (an ardent fan of Mr. Young) that Neil lends his name to help the community out in any way he can and visits Omemee regularly with his brother who remains in nearby Peterborough.  Last year, he returned to perform a solo acoustic 'Home Town' concert.

By this time, and after more than 4 weeks on the road, one of us was getting a little antsy to be getting home.  While the original plan was to explore Southern Ontario, visit family, experience the Mennonite community of St. Jacobs and check out Stratford and Dashwood (birthplace of my great grandmother and grandmother, respectively) we decided perhaps the area deserved more time than we could give it on this trip.  Perhaps it's a destination better flown into where we can spend a week.  We skirted around Lake Simcoe and made our way toward Owen Sound and the Tobermory Ferry.  

Wireton, home of Albino Groundhog and  Weather Forecaster Wiarton Willie
Not only is this route incredibly scenic, it also shaves off several hours of driving around Georgian Bay where the Parry Sound forest fire had only recently been brought under control after closing the Trans Canada highway for several days.

North Manitoulin to Thunder Bay, ON

Bruce Mines, ON
The route gives one a view of Manitoulin Island not soon forgotten.  We hugged the north shoreline of Lake Huron, through Algoma Mills and Bruce Mines, Sault Ste. Marie and the stunningly beautiful Batchwana Bay before finding ourselves in Wawa, Home of the Goose. 

Wawa, ON Canada Goose
One of the most photographed landmarks in North America, this 2,700KG, 8.5m tall Canada Goose has been greeting passersby since 1963. By the way, this is actually goose #3, fittingly erected on Canada's birthday in 2017.  

But that wasn't the only thing in Wawa that caught our attention.  We were also pretty impressed by a very Canadian albeit very quaint Canadian Tire! 

Canadian Tire, Wawa, ON
On we went, through Marathon, Rossport, Nipigon and Thunder Bay, along the northern shoreline of the great Lake Superior.  Since we travelled Highway 17 heading east, and knowing how I hate to travel the same road twice, we headed for Highway 11, and Fort Frances and International Falls, on the Canada/US Border.

Thunder Bay, ON to Deloraine, MB
Did I tell you, Ontario is really big!  That's not a criticism, but I have to say, it was about this time in our trip that the road home was beginning to feel very long, even for me!  It didn't help that the weather turned cloudy and overcast and winds buffeting our wee Winnie Drop behind my SUV did anything but instill confidence in my usually self-assured driving ability.  I never thought I would say this but there really wasn't that much to see along this part of our journey.  In fact, we suffered a bit of angst when we realized the number of service stations between Thunder Bay and Fort Frances is, indeed minimal. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder and even a bit of spray paint on a derelict building holds a certain allure, don't you think?

Art is in the Eye of the Beholder
We had already made the decision that we were not going to cross into the US.  Just west of Fort Frances, Highway 71 took us north, along the east side of Lake of the Woods.  It's easy to see the attraction this rugged, largely wilderness part of the Canadian Shield holds for so very many.   For me, it's sometimes hard to fathom exactly how big Lake Superior really is; it is indeed, much akin to a sea.  With approximately 550 wrecks (including the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald), Whitefish Point has been called the graveyard of Lake Superior.  The Light Station, established in 1849 is the oldest operating and arguably the most important light on Lake Superior. 

In case you're wondering just how big Lake Superior is, wrap your head around this: It's 563 km long and 258 km at it's widest point, with depths up to 406 metres.  It's watershed includes approximately 200 rivers.  Like I said:  BIG!

I'll let that last bit of geography sink in and end this as we are soon to enter the last leg of our journey home.  Until then. . .


Friday, 2 November 2018

Notes from the Road: Crossing Canada, Part 2 - the Journey Home (Maritimes)

Halifax NS to Saint-Quentin, NB
Summerville, NS
As I mentioned in the first installment of Notes from the Road, our cross-country trek to Nova Scotia had a purpose.  While the original plan was to introduce my father-in-law, Frank, to his granddaughter dog, Quinn, we ultimately congregated with family at a small cemetery in his birthplace of Lower  Burlington, near the Bay of Fundy, to inter his ashes.  As we have been returning to Nova Scotia annually for many years, we have had ample opportunity to explore this glorious province  during every season. I promise you, there is no place prettier than Nova Scotia in summer, unless it's Nova Scotia in fall.  Of course, we were too early for the fall colors but that didn't stop us from visiting some of our favourite places and we are still in awe over the natural beauty of this part of Canada.  Take, for example, the view from our friends' deck.  Every morning, this is what they look at; if they want to change it up a bit they simply walk over to the neighbours' for a completely different  but equally breathtaking image.

Nine-Mile River, NS
On the 'downriver' side of Lock 4, Fletcher's Lake
One of the first places I fell in love with in Nova Scotia, was the locks in Fall River.  Located between Lakes Thomas and Fletcher, a few km outside of Halifax, the remains of Lock #4 are clearly visible from the canal banks.  The Shubenacadie Canal Waterway was constructed during the early 19th century.  Hosting 6 locks, the Waterway negated the need for the major portages undertaken by the Mi'kmaq, once the sole users of the natural waterway stretching from Dartmouth Cove, on the Atlantic Ocean, to the Minas Basin on the Bay of Fundy, some 114 km.

Old Dr. Charlie Hines Home, Bay of Fundy
Frank grew up near the Bay of Fundy and, when he returned some years back, this became the view that greeted him.  Originally inhabited by the Mi'kmaq, Acadians arrived to the area around 1685, only to be deported in 1755 by the English who settled in 1750.  The Planters came to Hants County in 1760, from New England.  Shipbuilding became the prominent industry  during 1840-1890.   As I understand it, this home was originally constructed by one of the master builders.  

Animaland RV Park 
After our goodbyes to family and friends, we made our way to Sussex, NB.  Along Route 114, there stands a larger-than-life sized statue of a broken down race horse, the only part of Animaland Resort visible from the road.  Originating in the early 1960s, the RV park is filled with myriad giant concrete animals, including an elephant, snail, giraffe, turtles, and more.  The work of Winston Bronnum who reportedly would stay up through all hours of the night carving wooden animals in his studio, for the next 30 years, Bronnum put his talent to work building giant concrete animals. Located adjacent the Timberland Motel and Restaurant, Bronnum charged tourists to watch him work, in an effort to support his theme park where he also kept deer, rabbits, chickens and, at one point, a lobster tank.  Closed for many years, the RV Park has recently reopened.  Amenities are limited and the facility is in need of some tender loving care but the food and service at the Timberland is good and where else would we find such an emaciated creature as a star attraction?

Hopewell Rocks, NB

Being intimately familiar with Nova Scotia's side of the Bay of Fundy, known for the highest tides in the world, we thought we had seen it all.  We were wrong.  I don't think we anticipated the beauty the same Bay would give us from the other side.  One of New Brunswick's top tourist attractions from mid-May to mid-October, Hopewell Rocks Park is well worth a visit.  When the tide is in, the sandstone formations carved out of the rock, make for an intriguing landscape.  When the tide is out, not only can you wander about the Rocks on the ocean floor, there is 2 km of beach to explore.  
While indeed picturesque, the tide has a way of sneaking in at alarming speed.  There are many stories of experienced men collecting dulse with tractor and wagon who left it too late to make shore. 

Low Tide
If you choose to spend some time in the area, perhaps to witness the Rocks at both high and low tide, be sure you check out the picturesque community of Alma.  You might even want to take a slight detour to experience the spectacular views of Cape Enrage and it's 140 year old lighthouse via zipline!

Acadian Colors Proudly Displayed
New Brunswick is Canada's truly bilingual province.  As one might imagine, the closer you get to Miramichi, heading toward the Acadian Peninsula, evidence of a strongly francophone community continues to mount.  National Acadian Days is held the 15th of August each year, an occasion where homes, businesses, entire communities dress in  blue, white, red and yellow, the traditional Acadian colors.  Festivities abound in celebration of the Acadian heritage and culture.  If you time it right, you can even take part in a Tintamarre, a parade filled with a cacophony of noise made with improvised instruments, including pots, pans, spoons; everything but the kitchen sink! 
Point Wolfe Bridge, one of two Covered Bridges In the Bay of Fundy National Park
and the only bridges in NB to be Painted Red

We loved the Acadian Peninsula, including Shippagan, a charming seaside town nestled between Chaleur Bay and the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  We were so taken, in fact, that we decided to spend the night in Camping Shippagan and, while we stayed in some very scenic spots along the way, this one holds the award as being one of the nicest.  The facilities are clean, well maintained and plentiful, the campsites spacious, and while many afford a sea view, all have easy access to trails and boardwalks for an evening stroll.  We were told by one family that they waited for several years just to get the right spot next to the water.  Yes, it's that popular!

"Les Pecheurs -- The Fishermen"
Originally a Wood  Sculpture Created by Artist Claude Roussell,
the Community Eventually Raised Funds  to Turn the
Work into a Stone Monument. 
While no one can dispell the beauty of the Maritimes, they are also steeped in sadness evidenced in the tributes to those lost at sea.  One example is the1959 Escuminac Hurricane is said to have been the worst storm in 100 years which wreaked havoc throughout the Maritimes.  It produced 15 m high waves in open water, destroying 1/3 of the salmon boats in Miramichi.  A total of 35 people were killed across Maritimes, leaving in its wake 24 widows and 84 children without fathers. There began the New Brunswick Fishermen's Disaster Fund, created to assist the families.
While we were tempted to try to squeeze in the Gaspe Peninsula of Quebec, we knew we couldn't do it justice. It, along with Labrador, must wait for another day.  That day will come.  I don't know when, but I do know it will.

To that end,once again, we turned westward, toward Saint-Quintin, Saint-Leonard, and the Quebec/New Brunswick Border.

Stay tuned for more adventures in further Notes from the Road.