Wonderful Jasper National Park – Jasper, AB

Comments 15 Standard
Maligne lake

This post details stop #4, at Jasper National Park.  It’s loaded with pictures of stunning scenery and awe-inspiring natural wonders of the Rocky Mountains.

canada-rockies

Although the weather was not always picture perfect, I managed to capture a lot of the surrounding beauty.  The cameras stayed warm on this stop!

2016-09-08-AB-1040901.jpg

We didn’t waste any time upon our arrival in Jasper, immediately hitting the visitor center to get the scoop on the must-do’s in the park.  With only a few days here (Sept 6-10) we would be challenged to see as much of Canada’s largest National Park as possible.

Founded in 1907, it is one of only 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  We could see why, as everywhere we looked there was no shortage of crystal-clear lakes, glacial rivers, amazing glaciers, cascading waterfalls, deep canyons, alpine forests and wildlife – all surrounded by towering mountains.

Athabasca River

Foggy morning over Athabasca Valley and River

Our home base was in the heart of Jasper NP.  Whistler’s Campground (Steve’s review here) was next to the town of Jasper, which is nestled in the wide Athabasca Valley.

Jasper, Alberta

The town of Jasper is surrounded by majestic mountain peaks

Jasper, Alberta

Main drag in Jasper

2016-09-08-AB-1040921.jpg

Raven Totem Pole

A landmark in town stood near the railway station

Two Brothers Totem Pole

Two Brothers Totem Pole- tells the story of a journey long ago of an unusual connection between the west coast islands of Haida Gwaii and the Rocky Mountains

Whistler Campground

Betsy was snuggled in among the pine trees in an electric-only site

Bull Elk

This bull elk was a daily guest at the campground, as he kept an eye on his harem

We wanted to experience the beauty of Jasper NP on foot, as there are more than 615 miles of hiking trails of various difficulty to choose from.  But we were here during berry season, and the lady at the VC marked several trails as closed due to heavy bear activity.

On most days the sun was hiding behind the clouds and morning temps were in the 30’s. We had to push ourselves hard to get out and hike in those chilly conditions, but we did fairly well.

Berry

That’s bear food!

Maligne Lake

Maligne Lake is surrounded by several towering mountain peaks, and is the largest natural lake in the Canadian Rockies.  It’s a very popular spot, and bus loads of tourists were enjoying the lake view with us.  But we left them behind as we followed a trail named after Mary Schaffer, who along with friends was one of the first tourists at the lake in 1908.

Curly Philips Boathouse, Maligne Lake

Turquoise colored glacial Maligne Lake

Maligne Lake

Boat tours were filled to capacity, even on dreary days

Mary Schaffer Loop Trail

Stands of pine and spruce lined the Mary Schaffer Loop Trail

Moss and lichens covered the grounds

Feather mosses covered the forest floor

Maligne Lake

Brrr…I’m guessing this was some kind of a crazy ritual?  It’s 35º out here!

Maligne Lake

Final look at Maligne Lake

Maligne Canyon

There are six bridges that criss-cross Maligne Canyon, and we followed the steep trail up to the fifth bridge.  The canyon’s karst system is cut incredibly deep through limestone, and water tumbles through a series of falls and drops.  Some geologists speculate that parts of the canyon were originally deep caves that have since been uncovered by glacial scraping and water erosion.

Maligne Canyon

View from the fourth bridge

Maligne Canyon

Looking down at the canyon, see the people way back there?

Medicine Lake

Along the Maligne Scenic Drive we stopped at Medicine Lake, considered a unique body of water.  It’s described as such because its water vanishes and re-appears each year.  In the springtime runoff fills the lake, but by September (when we were here) the continuously-dropping water level exposes the bottom.

The disappearance of the lake was a mystery until the discovery of a massive underground river system under it, which is where the water all drains.

Medicine Lake

By September a mudflat and ribbons of water are all that remain

Medicine Lake

You know a lake is shallow when a man can walk his dog all the way across it!

Pyramid Lake Island

Just a few minutes out of Jasper is a lake-dotted terrace named Pyramid Bench.  The island and lake around it get their names from Pyramid Mountain, which stands nearby at 9,064′.

Pyramid Island

Pyramid Island

Pyramid Mountain

Clouds obstruct Pyramid Mountain

Athabasca Valley

The trees have started to turn – yay!

Patricia Lake

Patricia Lake (left) and Pyramid Lake viewed from an overlook

Patricia Lake

Colorful boats at Patricia Lake

Pyramid Bench

The trails here are not well marked, so Steve had to be diligent with the map

2016-09-07-AB-1040696.jpg

We found one of the six pairs of Red Chairs overlooking Pyramid Mountain

Mount Edith Cavell

From Pyramid Lake we drove further south to see Mount Edith Cavell, also recommended at the VC.  The mountain is named after a British nurse executed during World War I for her part in helping Allied prisoners escape occupied Brussels.  Getting there involved following a twisty road built in the 1930’s.

Mt Edith Cavell

A 9-mile switchback road lead us up to the mountain

Since we had just completed a 6-mile hike at Pyramid Lake, we followed the Path of the Glacier Trail here.  It’s an easy walk that took us across rocky landscape to the great north face of the mountain.

Path to Glacier Trail

Trail through glacial debris

Path of Glacier Trail

Interesting material along this trail

This impressive 10,826′ peak receives heavy snowfall even during the summer months.  My photos can’t capture the enormity of the mountain and the beauty of the surrounding landscape.

Mt Edith Clavell

We had lots of company here, since we arrived in the afternoon

Angel Glacier

Angel Glacier – hanging from the mountainside, it sits in a cirque between Mount Edith Cavell (left) and Mount Sorrow (right), supported (so it seems) by its “wings.”

Clavell Pond

Small but stunning opaque green Cavell Pond

Jasper SkyTram

Whistler’s Campground was only 2 miles from the Jasper Skytram, so we just had to take a ride.  It whisked us up Whistler’s Mountain to an elevation of 7,472′ in 7 minutes.  The payoff when we arrived was panoramic views of Jasper NP, and green valleys and mountains that stretched for miles.  The town of Jasper lay below, and we caught a glimpse of our campground tucked under heavy forest nearby.

2016-09-07-AB-1480676.jpg

2016-09-07-AB-1040779.jpg

Athabasca River

Gazing down at Athabasca River – look at that glacial water!

Jasper

Look, there’s the town of Jasper!

Ice field Parkway

Running along Athabasca River is the Icefield Parkway

2016-09-07-AB-1480607.jpg

We enjoyed the breathtaking views, then tried to rush a short hike to the summit – only to turn around halfway as ugly clouds approached, the temperature dropped and ice began pelting us.
Whistler Summit Trail

Whistler Summit

The trail to Whistler’s Summit – we made it just up to the snow line and decided to turn around

Jasper Tramway

On the way back down we were rewarded with a beautiful rainbow developing over Jasper and the whole valley.  It was awesome!

Jasper Sky Tram

Somewhere under the rainbow is Steve, that little speck!

jasper over the rainbow

Double rainbow over Jasper

The rainbow signaled our departure back to lower elevations, but it was just the beginning of more spectacular moments to come.

 

Next Up:  Icefield Parkway



 

 

 

A hidden crown jewel – Waterton Lakes National Park, Canada

Comments 30 Standard
Red Chairs
Chief Mountain Border Crossing

A 25-minute wait before entering the last two unexplored Canadian provinces of our adventure

It’s always music to our ears when “Randy” (our Rand McNally GPS) announces we’re crossing a state border, but it’s even more exciting when we cross an international border. So it was as we entered Alberta at the Chief Mountain crossing, just north of Glacier NP.

After answering questions such as “Did you bring firewood?”, “Where do you keep your gun?” and “How much alcohol do you have onboard?” we were good to go.  It can be a bit nerve-wracking, even on the 25th try!

Welcome to Canada

We’re looking forward to an exciting month north of the border

Our first destination in Canada was tucked away in the southwest corner of Alberta – Waterton Lakes National Park.  Its location, adjoining Glacier National Park in Montana along the international boundary, led to linking the two parks together in 1932.  It was the world’s first international peace park, designated Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.  It’s part of what has become known as the “Crown of the Continent,” with spellbinding scenery spanning the corners of Montana, Alberta and British Columbia.

Waterton Lakes NP has bragging rights as the only place on earth endowed with three recognized titles: a UNESCO World Heritage Site, an International Peace Park and a Biosphere Reserve.  How special is that?  There was no question we had to check this place out!

Upper Waterton Lake

Upper Waterton Lake – this place embodies the peace and friendship shared along the world’s longest undefended border, and is the basis for creating the Peace Park

Red Rock Canyon

One of the scenic drives here is Red Rock Parkway.  It meanders through grasslands, rollings hills and mountains, and ends at a vivid red-colored canyon created through water erosion.  The red canyon is further accented by the surrounding lush vegetation and mountain peaks in the background.

Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon

We followed a short trail around Red Rock Canyon, and continued on for another half mile to view Blakiston Falls.  We got only a peek at the falls, as the overlooks were blocked due to construction work.  But they couldn’t block the view to the highest peak in the park – Mount Blakiston – which towers above them all.

Blakiston falls

Mount Blakiston and a peek at Blakiston Falls

Our knowledgeable camp host mentioned that there were many opportunities to see bears along the parkway.  And sure enough, we saw some “indicators” that they had been on the roads as we drove.  It wasn’t long before we saw a mom and cub playing on a golf course early in the morning:

Bear’s Hump hike

This very popular and strenuous .9-mile trail climbs 738′ to a magnificent view of the area. Despite clouds hovering above, the views of Waterton Valley, the glistening Upper and Middle Waterton lakes and Waterton Townsite below kept our cameras blazing.  Being the first ones there in the morning allowed us to soak in the views and fresh air in solitude.  We enjoyed our breakfast on the rocks in perfect peace.

Waterton Valley

Hey, that’s Montana at the other end of the lake!

Mount Cleveland

Mount Cleveland is the tallest peak in Glacier NP, and several other mountains make up the southern end of Upper Waterton Lake

Waterton Townsite

Looking down at Waterton Townsite, a very cool and quaint little town with lots of good food and shopping.  There’s cold beer with our names on it somewhere down there!

Prince of Wales

Prince of Wales Hotel

Lower Waterton Lake

To the north is the best indication that Waterton is the only place in the Canadian Rockies where the prairies and mountains meet without a transition of foothills

Our excitement was heightened on the way back down.  Steve rounded a corner, and there was a black bear RIGHT THERE on the trail, less than 25′ away.  We had been making noise as we talked, but this guy didn’t seem very concerned about us.

He scampered away as Steve completed his heart attack and grabbed his camera to get a shot.  Funny he went for his camera and not the bear spray – I trained him well!

2016-08-17-AB-1460953.jpg

International Peace Hike

How often can you hike in two countries on a single day?   This trek was guided by two park rangers and required us to bring our passports.  John and Pam had recommended this excellent guided hike to us, and we’re so glad they did.

Our guides were Elizabeth, an American park ranger from Glacier NP and Sierra, a Canadian Waterton Lakes NP interpreter.  They led us along the lakeshore for a moderate 8.5 mile hike that began in Waterton NP and ended in the U.S. at the Goat Haunt Ranger Station.  After presenting our passports to the officers we boarded a boat for a narrated tour back to Waterton.  That counts as two more border crossings, folks!

Lakeshore Trail

Sierra talking about the cultural history of the area

Glacier National park

Elizabeth presented the mountain peaks of both countries

Our guides were both passionate and knowledgeable, taking turns showing us what the two parks shared – an ecosystem with over 1,200 species of plants, over 60 species of wildlife and the various ways both countries work together for peace and friendship.

On the Canadian section of the trail, they talked about natural, cultural and historical aspects, while on the U.S. side each hiker was introduced to a plant specie and then encouraged to explain it to the rest of the group as we moved along the trail.  It was an excellent way for each person to learn about at least a few of the plants in the area.

International Border

That cut through the trees is the border that extends East to West all the way across the continent

International Peace Hike

Peace and friendship handshake between two nations at the int’l border

The pace of the hike was to Steve’s liking – no photo stops!  Except for the short breaks and a pause when we encountered a mama bear and her cub on the trail, we moved along at a good clip.

International Peace Hike

This guy was hauling supplies to the border – cool!

We thoroughly enjoyed this hike and learned a few interesting obscure facts.  One was that the trees and vegetation on the international border are cut alternately by U.S. and Canadian organizations every ten years to maintain the visual border.

Goat Haunt

From Goat Haunt, Glacier NP, USA – viewing the peaks at Waterton, Canada

Scenes around town

Watertown Village is a cute colorful townsite in the heart of Waterton Lakes NP.  It was founded in 1904 by the Western Coal and Oil Company based out of Vancouver, BC. According to the 2011 census, Waterton Park Township has 88 permanent residents in 31 of its 181 dwellings.

Waterton Village

Many of the shops were adorned with colorful flowers

Buck around town

Mule Deer are iconic residents of the village, looks like this one’s on his way to breakfast!

waterton village

I just couldn’t pass up a yummy pistachio ice cream after our long hike

Trappers Mountain Grill

Tall and short beers after another hike.  Steve told me to hurry up and just take the damn picture!

Cameron Falls

Cameron Falls can be viewed at the southern end of town

Red Chairs

I finally got my chance to sit in one of the strategically placed red chairs at the best lookout in Waterton, they are very popular here

Bear's Hump

Bear’s Hump (or Mt. Crandall) viewed from the marina

Prince of Wales Hotel

A view across Waterton Lake at the Prince of Wales Hotel, built in 1927

Prince of Wales Hotel

Prince of Wales Hotel up close

Prince of Wales Hotel

Inside the lobby at Prince of Wales Hotel, a little rich for our blood!

Bear sightings were a daily occurrence, be it on the trail, at the lake or on the golf course. They’re all over up here, and we haven’t seen this many since our trek through Alaska.

Cinnamon Bear

Just move along, unless you’d like to be my breakfast!

At 195 square miles, Waterton NP is the smallest of the Rocky Mountain parks in Canada, and it can be visited in a day.  And since it’s adjacent to Glacier NP it could easily be added to your itinerary – just don’t forget your passport.  But we’re glad we spent several days so we could enjoy the town and get in some excellent hiking.

If you’re planning on coming to Canada next year, you should know that entrance to all national parks in 2017 will be FREE to celebrate the centennial of their park system.  That’s good news if you want to save money on park passes, but we’re guessing the most popular national parks will be very busy.

 

Next up:  A brief run into another province – Saskatchewan!



 

Our final stop in the Maritimes – St. Andrews-by-the-Sea

Comment 1 Standard

St Andrews by the seaFor those of you just joining us on our Canadian Maritime adventure, we are actually back in the USA now – sitting on the coast of Maine at the moment.  This post is a catch-up to cover our final stop and end of our Canadian travels.  We were having such a great time and seeing so many things that sitting in front of a computer had to take a back seat.  Besides, not having internet connectivity at times made it impossible to keep up.

Anyway, we arrived at St Andrews-by-the-Sea excited, as this was our last stop before crossing the border again. The moment we felt the sea breeze brushing our cheeks as we settled into our campsite, we immediately liked the place.  Who wouldn’t?  We had another “big screen” view, this time of Passamaquody bay.  We stayed at Kiwanis Oceanfront Camping – click here if interested in Steve’s review of this great campground.

Passamaquoddy Bay

Passamaquoddy Bay at low tide

Kiwanis Ocean Camping,St Andrews by the Sea

Betsy-by-the-Sea

We explored the beautiful little town of St. Andrews-by-the-Sea on foot, as all attractions were walkable from our campground.  Having been in the rain for the past few days, we welcomed the sunshine and started early on our sightseeing.  This town was designated as a National Historic District, one of the oldest and loveliest in the Maritimes.  We agree.  It is loaded with neat shops and excellent restaurants.  We could definitely spend more time here!

St Andrews by the sea

Water Street early in the morning

St Andrews-by-the-sea

Market Wharf

Strolling around this little seaside town, we observed many of the well-preserved original buildings.

St Andrews by the sea

The local folks we talked to were the friendliest we have met while in Canada.  From the lady at the coffee shop to the lady at Olive and Spreads, to the lady at the Irish pub – they were all very helpful!

Our wanderings also led us to a blockhouse, which is a building modestly fortified to defend an area.  This one was built during the War of 1812 between the U.S. and Great Britain, and it is the last one standing in the Maritimes.  The St. Andrews Blockhouse and Battery has been preserved as a national historic site since 1962.

St Andrews Blockhouse

That’s Maine over there across the water where the cannons are pointing!

Since Passamaquoddy Bay was only a few steps from Betsy, I went down and explored the tidal floor and checked out the shore birds while the tide was low.

A few interesting marine plants and shells on the ocean floor:

We joined yet another tour, this time aboard the Jolly Breeze.  We didn’t go so much to see the whales and other sea creatures (we’ve seen many in Alaska), but more for the experience of cruising aboard a classic tall ship.  We saw this ship go by the campground and thought it would be fun to hop aboard.  That’s the Jolly Breeze cruising by in our new blog header.

Jolly Breeze

Aboard Jolly Breeze

St Andrews by the sea

St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, viewed from the Jolly Breeze

A was to be expected, we saw a Minke Whale, Harbor Seals, Grey Seals and a couple of Bald Eagles.

Each morning I got up early to catch the sunrise.  With the open space and the bay before us, the photo ops were right there for the clicking.  I have taken so many pictures that picking one is like picking your favorite sister – too difficult!

St Andrews by the sea

St. Andrews-by-the-Sea was a great final stop on our Maritime adventure. We liked the look and feel of the town, enjoying every minute of our stay.  A rainbow even appeared, as if to confirm Steve’s comment that this was one of his favorite harbor towns of all. St Andrews by the sea

Our Canadian Maritime adventure stats:

Number of days in Canada = 29 (8/11-9/9)
Miles driven = 1,332
Amount of diesel burned = 177 gallons
Average price for diesel = $5.10/gallon

What was originally planned as a two-week trip mushroomed into a whole month of driving around the Maritime provinces, made up of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.  Despite spotty internet in the RV parks, high prices, a lot of rain and some bad roads – the trip was well worth it.  The people were friendly and seemed happy to see visitors in their towns.

Which province is my favorite?  It would have to be Prince Edward Island – the whole island is just too picturesque, pastoral with wide open spaces.

Canada Maritimes

Map of where we had been in Canada’s Maritimes

Our blogger friends were like walking visitor centers – many thanks to Pam of Oh the Places they go, (especially the Scone alert!), Gay of Good Times Rolling (we stayed at the RV parks they were in) Brenda of Island Girl (the French River was the best!) and Judith of Red Road Diaries – they had been here before and provided us with excellent inside information and tips about the Maritimes.

And finally, finally..the morning we left for the USA was no exception, as I captured this very serene and calm morning with brushstroke clouds that made it look like a painting. The beautiful sunrise was a great start for our journey back to the good ‘ol USA.

Sunrise at St Andrews by the sea

Next up:

The fabulous Acadia National Park!

*******************************************************************

Peggy’s Cove and the beautiful Nova Scotia shoreline

Comments 17 Standard
Peggy's Point Light

The day after we got an overload of colors at Lunenburg, we continued our sightseeing along the shores of Nova Scotia.  Our plan was to visit Peggy’s Cove, which is famous for its picturesque lighthouse.  Fortunately, we were tipped off to go there after 5:00pm, as busloads of tourists teem over the cove and lighthouse during the day.  So, instead we explored several towns and harbors along the southern and eastern shores of Nova Scotia.  Our drive to the southern shore took us through Mahoney Bay, where three beautiful churches – Anglican, Lutheran and United – caught our attention.

These three elegant churches can all be seen together along Mahoney Bay harbor.

Three Churches, Mahoney Bay

Three churches on Mahoney Bay.

While driving along we stumbled upon the two Swissair Flight 111 memorials.  Fifteen years ago, on Sept. 2, 1998, Swissair Flight 111 crashed into the Atlantic, killing all 229 on board.  Two memorials were established – one to the west of the crash site at Bayswater, where the remains of the crew and passengers are buried, and the other to the east at Whalesback, near Peggy’s Cove.  These locations were chosen for their proximity to the crash site, which is roughly equidistant off the shores of Whalesback and Bayswater, Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia’s best beaches are located on the eastern shore.  We spent some time at one, Lawrencetown Beach.  We noted it was quite a hub of activity with surfers, swimmers and just gawkers like us.

Just one of the many beautiful harbors along the eastern shore.

Just one of many beautiful harbors along the eastern shore.

As the sun began to dip, we headed out to Peggy’s Cove.  When we heard the name of this place we imagined a large cove, but when we arrived we discovered that it’s a tiny (I mean really tiny) seaside town with a population of about fifty.  But because of its celebrated lighthouse and the quaint fishing village, it has become a popular tourist attraction.  The town and lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove are one of the most photographed locations in Canada.  As we walked around the village we saw hundreds of lobster traps, and boats with their fishing gear littering the docks.

Peggy's Cove Fishing Village

Peggy’s Cove fishing village

The rugged beauty of Peggy’s Cove is peppered with huge boulders called “erratics”, remnants left 10,000 years ago by receding glaciers.  Although this unique environment has been designated a preservation area, it is still an active fishing community.  It’s located about 30 minutes south of Halifax.

Peggy's Cove

The most famous resident in town was William deGarthe, a Finnish artist who carved a memorial, “A lasting monument to Nova Scotian fishermen.”  The 100 ft. granite outcrop depicts St. Michael and 32 fishermen with their wives and children, enveloped by the wings of St. Elmo, the patron saint of sailors – as well as the legendary Peggy.  deGarthe began the sculpture at age 70 and took 6 years to complete it.

William deGarthe

Granite outcrop chiseled as a memorial.

William deGarthe

How to interpret the sculpture above

But the centerpiece of Peggy’s Cove is the iconic white and red beacon lighthouse perched atop the rugged granite rocks.  It is located on a rocky headland at the end of Peggy’s Point Road.

Peggy's Cove Lighthouse

Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse

This well-known lighthouse, officially known as Peggy’s Point Light, was built in 1914 and is 44 ft. tall.  The octagonal concrete structure overlooks the mouth of St. Margaret’s Bay.  Between 1975 and 2009, the ground floor of this lighthouse operated as a post office where visitors could mail their postcards in the summer months – the only lighthouse post office in North America at the time.  While the post office is no longer there, the image of this famous lighthouse on top of the giant rocks with the crashing sea waves is considered just as beautiful as it has been for almost a century.

Peggy's Point Light

Iconic red and white Peggy’s Point Light.

Granite Rocks at Peggy's Cove

The lighthouse sits on these granite rocks.

Since many visitors aren’t sensible enough to move away from the lighthouse at sunset so the dozens of photographers can get a good shot, I tried to work around them to get a decent shot as the sun hid behind the horizon.

Peggy's Cove Lighthouse

Visitor’s group picture at the lighthouse.

Although there are many similar lighthouses in eastern Canada, this is a genuine star, picturesque and simply beautiful!

Peggy's Cove

Peggy’s Cove at dusk, with St. Margaret Bay in the foreground and the Atlantic Ocean in the distance.

Next up: Cape Breton Island

By the time you read this we are just arriving back in the U.S. to play catch-up with our posts, now that we have good internet connectivity again.

*******************************************************************

A tapestry of colors – Lunenburg, NS

Comments 19 Standard
Cod

We ventured out to the southern shore of Nova Scotia and headed for the old town of Lunenburg. Enroute we caught a glimpse of the longest line of bras we have ever seen (yes – bras – as in women’s undergarments)!  We are not sure if those were decorations or for sale. (Thanks to Bax McClure comment below, the bras show support for Breast Cancer!)

Bra Line

Steve almost drove off the road when he saw all these bras!

The old town of Lunenburg is one of three Unesco World Heritage sites in Nova Scotia.  It received this honor because it is one of the best examples of a classic British colonial settlement and for its remarkable level of conservation.  First, below is a mural of the old Lunenburg, then check out my current images and you’ll notice the town is pretty much unchanged.

Mural of Old Lunenberg

Mural of Old Lunenburg

Seventy percent of the original buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries  greeted us with their colorful facades.  The locals have safeguarded the town’s identity throughout the centuries by preserving the wooden architecture of the houses and public buildings, some of which date back to the 18th century.

Zwicker Wharf

We took a walk around the narrow streets and enjoyed the charming architecture and brightly painted wooden buildings of today.

Every block featured a collection of colors from the rainbow for their paint jobs, which made the street views  a real treat to look at.

wpid16080-2013-08-22-NVCN-1110200.jpg

wpid16062-2013-08-22-NVCN-1110177.jpg

wpid16072-2013-08-22-NVCN-1110187.jpg

Old town Lunenberg

Then add in the bright red buildings along the harbor…

Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic

Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic

Adams and Knickle

Adams and Knickle

Around town were 44 fish sculptures honoring the top 20 fish and shellfish species landed by the area’s commercial fisheries.

As we strolled along it became clear that the town’s vibrancy is what draws so many people here for a visit.  This little town is teeming with craft shops, art studios, inns and dozens of excellent restaurants.  We highly recommend a relaxing half-day visit here!

Back to to the waterfront, even ships/boats were in an array of bold colors.

wpid16118-2013-08-22-NVCN-1110162.jpg

While strolling on the wharf a tourist asked us where the Bluenose II was docked.  We couldn’t answer him, since we didn’t even know what it was.  Later on we learned it is Nova Scotia’s world-famous (maybe I’m the only one who hadn’t heard about it) sailing ambassador.  Bluenose II is a schooner designed in the spirit of the original Bluenose.  The original vessel, which has appeared on the Canadian dime since 1937, was launched from Lunenburg as a fishing and racing schooner in 1921.  After 17 years of racing victories she sank on a coral reef in 1946.  The Bluenose II is currently undergoing a major restoration in one of the dry-docks at Lunenburg. It returned to dock for repairs after re-launch Sept. 29, and there is no clear date for it to sail again.

Bluenose II

We continued driving further to a tiny fishing village called Blue Rocks to check out cool bluish sedimentary rocks at their shore.

Blue Rocks

Even the rocks are colorful!

Blue Rocks

I managed to blend in as well!

Blue Rocks Fishing Village

Just another house in Lunenburg

Finally, we bade goodbye after a day of “color overload.”

wpid16045-2013-08-22-NVCN-1090386.jpg

Can you see me snapping away?

Next up:  Peggy’s Cove and more!

*******************************************************************

Betsy goes to the hospital and we go to Halifax, NS

Comments 11 Standard
Maine Maritime Academy

After many enjoyable experiences it was time to leave picturesque Prince Edward Island – for a price!  The outrageous bridge toll is paid when leaving the island, and after paying this one we’ll never again complain about how high the tolls were on California bridges!

This was one of our longer drives, from PEI to Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Once again, colorful and vibrant signs welcomed us to the Nova Scotia province.

But as we were approaching our campground along a narrow road, we heard a loud hissing noise.  Steve checked all the monitors and nothing was warning us of a problem. The noise was very loud when we were accelerating, on a road with hills on each side and it was easy to hear because of the echo.  Since we were only a couple of miles from the campground and there was really nowhere to  pull over anyway, we proceeded.  At the campground, Steve checked out the engine as best he could with me revving it but could not locate the source.  While checking into our site, the park manager advised us there was a Cummins engine shop only 11 miles away.  Wow, were we happy to hear that!  We made an appointment and showed up bright and early in the morning, limping along the side streets to stay off the throttle as much as possible.

Betsy goes to the emergency room

Betsy enters the emergency room

While Betsy was being diagnosed and hopefully repaired, we went to the vibrant capital city of Nova Scotia by the sea, Halifax.  Not knowing how long we had to hang out there, we concentrated our activities to the harbor area.  To me, Halifax seemed to be only in the movies or a setting of a good mystery book.  Yet here we were about to experience it!  We thought the city seemed like a mini San Francisco, but with far fewer people and much cleaner.  Besides, they painted their bridge with my favorite colors – green and yellow!

Macdonald Bridge

The Macdonald bridge leads us over a busy shipping channel and into Halifax.

Let me entertain you with the waterfront photos I took while we waited to hear the prognosis for Betsy:

The 3 unique sculptures below are called “The Way Things Are”, and are on public display until Sept 21.  In the foreground is “Got Drunk, Fell Down” (the lamp that has fallen down and its friend is looking down on it with some concern), and in the background is “Fountain” (the lamp post that looks like it is relieving itself into the harbor).  The display was created by Chris Hanson and Hendrika Sonnenberg.

The way things are, Chris Hanson and Hendrika Sonnenberg

The Way Things Are

We learned a bit of history as we read the inscriptions on the monument about how the Acadians were removed from Nova Scotia and imprisoned on Georges Island just across the harbor.  This period in 1755 of systematic deportaton of Acadians was called the Grand Derangement or Great Upheaval. Click each image for a brief history about Georges Island.

Across the harbor is Georges Island, where the Acadians were imprisoned.  Imagine thousands of people imprisoned on this tiny island!

George Island

Georges Island

And we certainly don’t get to see this everyday, a cargo ship carrying gigantic cranes into the harbor!

Other sights on the waterfront.

Georges Lighthouse

I managed to take a panoramic shot of the waterfront just before a tremendous downpour came through the area.

Halifax Water front

Since it is a big city harbor, all kinds of ships/boats/schooners/yachts were docked, and even the Maine Maritime Academy was in town.

Maine Maritime Academy

Then the rain came, and it poured for half an hour.

Halifax Harbor

Gorton's fish sticks

Steve thinks this looks like a commercial for Gorton’s fish sticks!

Halifax Harbour

With nowhere else to go, so we just watched schooners and boats pulling into the harbor

After four hours we got the call – Betsy was fixed and can be taken home!  We paid for what seemed to be the world’s most expensive hose – $426!  95% of that was labor, of course, and our extended warranty doesn’t cover hoses, of course.  The hose was for the inlet to the air compressor, which compresses air for the brakes and suspension air bags.  It had split wide open, and although noisy, no damage was done.  We were happy to get Betsy back – being homeless even for a few hours is nerve-wracking especially when you are in a foreign country!

Damaged Hose

Damaged Hose

We headed back to the campground to get her set up again.  We stayed at Woodhaven RV Park, and they offer a most unique and yummy service – fresh cooked lobster prepared for their customers at only $7.00 per pound.  You better believe we took advantage of that offer, and it was fantastic!  If interested, you can read Steve’s review of the campground here. At the end of the day we shared our repair story and Halifax sightseeing with our next door neighbors, Ron and Louise.  They are full timers from Florida, and we hope to see them again this winter when we are there.

Ron and Louise

Next up:  Colorful Lunenberg!

*******************************************************************

Island Girls meet on Prince Edward Island – fun, fun, fun!

Comments 9 Standard
Great Heron

Prince Edward Island was such a fitting place for the “island girls” to meet.  But before I reveal who they are, allow me to first share more sights and scenes around PEI.  Being a small island, its waters are teeming with all things seafood – including lobsters, mussels, oysters, quahogs and bar clams, among others.  We can proudly boast that we have dined on the freshest and best PEI mussels in existence.  Steve got adventurous and ordered two new shellfish in his food vocabulary, Quahogs and Bar Clams.  That was a great decision – yum!

Our new friend Brenda tipped us off about French River, which was just a few miles from our campground.  It is one of PEI’s most famously picturesque fishing villages, and what a view it is!

French River

My panoramic shot cannot capture it’s unique features, the contrasting yet complimentary combination of water view and farmland in ONE  single vista.

French River

And so here is my attempt to take section shots.  They were taken on a perfectly clear day from left to right on the pano shot. Just imagine yourself sitting on top of a hill overlooking this vista. Simply beautiful.

wpid15864-2013-08-20-PEICN-1110119.jpg

wpid15865-2013-08-20-PEICN-1110114.jpg

French River

French River

We spent a while here just admiring gorgeous views we haven’t seen anywhere else!

Now, back to the “island girls” meeting.  When I learned that Island Girl was in the Canadian Maritimes the same time we were, my desire to meet a fellow blogger kicked in.  We had been following each other, and a rendezvous was in order at the right place on the island.  As you know, I hail from one of the thousands of islands in the Philippines – Cebu – while Brenda is from another beautiful island – Puerto Rico.  They appropriately named their coach Island Girl!  So, we had our own little summit on PEI.  Brenda, Hector and the very sweet 4-legged doggie Angel were perfect hosts at their campground right on the sea.

Island Girl

What a view they had – I’m almost standing in the water to get this shot!

Hector who comes from Cuba showed us his shucking skills, offering the “boutique” oysters from the area – Malpeques and Raspberry points.  Both are delicious!  We shared travel ideas and tips, and enjoyed each other’s company so much that we forgot about the time.

Check them out, as they have covered a lot of ground while here in the Maritimes.  Not to mention, Hector’s photography is outstanding!

Island Girl

Brenda and Mona Liza at the official Island Girls site!

Also, they happened to be at an awesome spot for a gorgeous sunset.

New Annan, Sunset

Sunset at New Annan

 

Next up:  Betsy goes to the hospital – Halifax, NS

 

*******************************************************************

Exploring Fundy Trail Parkway- St Martins, NB

Comments 17 Standard
St Martins low tide

Our next adventure took us to the coastal wilderness where we experienced yet another Bay of Fundy phenomenon – a coastline sculpted by the worlds highest tides.  It was a long and scenic drive to the Fundy Trail Parkway, and a bit foggy when we arrived.  So, you may wonder, what is the Bay of Fundy and what’s the big deal?

Bay of Fundy

Location of the Bay of Fundy

The Bay of Fundy is a bay between the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.  The bay is known for having the highest tidal range in the world because it is funnel-shaped across its width, deep at one end and shallow at the other.  This configuration forces tides to be pushed higher as they move up into the Bay.  We were fascinated to learn that the highest tides on earth fill the bay with over one hundred billion tons of seawater – as high as a four-story building – and brimming with diverse marine life.  Just hours later at low tide, we were able to stroll among the rock formations on the seabed.

St Martins, NB

A colorful crafts store near the beach.

There are three interesting ways to observe the tides: the Vertical Effect, the Horizontal Effect and the Tidal Rapids.  In my previous post, the Reversing Rapids were an example of Tidal Rapids.  During our exploration at the Fundy Trail Parkway we saw an example of a vertical tide.

At St. Martins, gateway to the Fundy Trail Parkway, we spotted a small harbor where fishing boats were sitting on the ground during low tide.  On our way back home we saw the boats bobbing in the water alongside the wharf.  Small harbors are the best place to see vertical tide changes that can be 50 ft or more!

St Martins low tide

Low tide at St. Martins – no fishing for a while, folks!

St Martins at high tide

High tide at St. Martins – OK, let’s go catch dinner!

We stopped at many lookouts to view towering cliffs, undeveloped coastline and panoramic vistas of beaches.  The Fundy Trail winds its way along one of the last remaining coastal wilderness areas between Florida and Labrador.

Fundy Trail Parkway

Undeveloped stretch of coastline.

Pangburn Beach

Looking out on Pangburn and Melvin beaches during low tide – they don’t exist at high tide.

At one point we hiked down to follow the Fundy Footpath all the way to Fundy Point.  We skirted along Big Salmon river and hugged the coastline, where Steve decided to create his own path all the way to where the river flows to the ocean.  He thought we would then walk across the shallow beach there and walk back up the path on the other side.  Wrong!

Big Salmon River

Steve created his own footpath to the beach, but his mission was doomed.

When we arrived on the beach, we witnessed  horizontal tide, which happens when the low tide retreats as much as three miles, leaving vast areas of the ocean floor exposed.

Big Salmon River

Let’s see how far we can walk out to the ocean – this would all be deeply covered in a couple of hours.

Unfortunately we were just a little late and the tide was coming back in, so we had to double back on the trail we had just taken.  Oh well, nice try!

Big Salmon River Beach

Let’s get out of here before the tide catches us!

On the ocean floor, we took notice of the seaweed attached to rocks, and tiny black sea shells…

…also some beautiful wildflowers and critters along the “real” pathway as we returned…

…finally arriving at the suspension foot bridge – the easy and correct way to cross Big Salmon river.

Big Salmon River

Goofing off at the suspension foot bridge – showing Steve this is the right way to cross the river!

With the fog lifting by early afternoon, we chose to follow the path to the Fuller Falls lookout, then hiked just over a mile down to Melvin Beach.  We noted the clay colored cliffs and colorful sandy stones that we walked on. The tide was starting back in so we chose to stay at Melvin Beach and not cross over to Pangburn Beach.

Melvin Beach

Melvin Beach and its huge piles of colorful smooth stones.

Melvin Beach

Searching for the perfect stone.  Note the high tide line on the wall behind me – and it has already been coming in for some time when we took this shot.

The entry fee was worth every penny, for we thoroughly enjoyed each view, path and trail we followed.  The 10-mile Fundy Trail Parkway is well constructed and maintained within the most picturesque area of the Bay of Fundy, and it provided us with a variety of experiences along its length.

On our way home we stopped by St. Martins village and enjoyed some more local fresh and delicious seafood, this time a lobster roll and a cup of delicious chowder.  The restaurant had a great view of beautiful sea caves – shallow features carved into sandstone and conglomerate caused by physical erosion of the high and low tides.

St. Martin seacaves

We had a beer and some yummy seafood here while checking out the nearby sea caves.

More images captured on our way back to camp…

St Martins, NB

An overcast sky lends mood to some shots.

A colorful home with a matching colored barn and gift shop

St Martin village

Folks here tend to use and match colors on their structures very well.

And back to the curvy and steep grades along scenic highway 111 .

Highway 111

Curvy and steep grades along highway 111.

We stopped and bought wild Canadian blueberries, with which I baked a delicious pie that we savored after a long day of exploration.

Wild Blueberries

Wild blueberries are best for pies!

We never fail to admire the Grand Bay-Westfield visitor center as we passed by it  on our way in and out of the campground.

Grand Bay Westfield

Visitor Center at Grand Bay -Westfield

We have more stories and pictures to share – the Canadian Maritimes are so scenic and colorful.  The weather has been near perfect, sunny but a bit breezy at times.  Stay tuned!

*******************************************************************

Betsy’s “Ferry Tale” – Saint John, NB

Comments 18 Standard
Reversing Falls Welcome Sign

We left the USA on a bright sunny morning and crossed the Canada border once again. This is Betsy’s eighth crossing into Canada.  Because we were weaving in and out of Canada a lot while on our Alaskan adventure, we have taken to counting our border crossings.  Now we’re taking Betsy into Canada on the other side of the country.  The officer at the border asked us the usual questions, and after giving him the right answers we were on our way!

Calais, ME

Non-event crossing at the Canadian border

A few kilometers later, we were welcomed to the province of New Brunswick, where we began to teach our brains – think kilometers, meters, liters, celsius, pricey diesel and a little French – no problem!

New Brunswick, Welcome sign

We traveled a few scenic miles to our destination, Hardings Point Campground, where Betsy would endure a short ferry ride to get to the park.  Unlike riding on the Alaska Marine Highway ferry, this ferry ride is cable driven, no charge, and only took five minutes. 

Ferry Crossing

Another ferry ride for Betsy.  She looks a little wide here, has she gained some weight?

We were assigned a spot on top of a hill with a minimal view of the river.  To get internet access we had to walk down to the office.  Check Steve’s park review here.

Hardings Point Campground

Obviously, we were excited to be in Canada again and started to plan things to do.  We received lots of recommendations and tips from our blogger friends and we wanted to experience as much as possible while here.  We left early morning the following day to catch the low tide at the Reversing Falls at Saint John.  That required another ferry ride to cross the channel, since our campground was located at the tip of the Kingston Peninsula.  But it was easy with the car.

Sunrise at Hardings Point

Sunrise at Hardings Point

Our first stop was to be at the foot of the Saint John river, from which we could get a front-row seat to observe the reversing direction of the river.  They call this phenomenon the “reversing rapids”,  when the world’s highest tides push in, rushing up and over the river.  They collide and the river actually reverses flow in the face of the unstoppable natural power.   We were advised that the reversal is best viewed during two stages of one tide cycle – near low tide and near high tide – every 6 hours or so.

Reversing Falls Welcome Sign

Can you see me?

It was low tide when we got there, and we saw the river flow on its normal course – freely out to the bay.  The bay tides continue to fall below the level of the river until the low tide is complete.  At this point the tidal waters are 14 ½ feet lower than the river.

Reversing Falls

At low tide – the river is flowing freely into the bay

We didn’t want to hang around for several hours waiting for high tide, so we headed out and our first stop was at the Wolastoq Park, which is just across the street.  It has one of the best views of the Reversing Rapids, the inner harbour and the city skyline of Saint John.  As we strolled along the walking paths, we learned about the history of the city and saw the many statues of some of the historical Saint John figures that have helped shape the city.

Wolastoq Park

Historical wooden sculptures are displayed along the pathway.

Saint John Skyline

Saint John skyline viewed from Wolastoq Park up on the hill

After our stroll we headed downtown, to where the cruisers from a Carnival Cruise ship were in town.

Saint John Waterfront

Saint John, New Brunswick

Architecture in the uptown area

Saint John City Market

The roof of the City Market is built like a ship’s inverted hull.

Public Library

At the Market Square

Saint John, NB

Mixture of old and new architecture

Near high tide, we went back to the Reversing Falls and observed that the flow of the river had reversed.  The push of the bay’s tides continued to high tide, causing the water to create rapids going upstream and pushing the 450-mile long St John River backwards for a period of several hours.  Cool!

Reversing Falls

Its high tide now -note the flow of the river has been reversed as the tide is pushing in.  Amazing!

After running around all day we headed home, taking the ferry again…

Ferry Ride at Hardings Point

Then the tired driver grabbed his favorite book…

Hardings Point Campground

Relaxing at the park

… while I enjoyed a fiery sunset by the river!

Sunset at New Brunswick

Fiery sunset

*************************************************************************

Exploring beyond Niagara Falls – what a great place!

Comments 15 Standard

Without a doubt, the three beauties – American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and Horsehoe Falls – are the main attraction on both the New York and Ontario, Canada sides of Niagara Falls. But there are many other things to do and places to see beyond the falls.  We received lots of ideas from fellow bloggers Erin of Two to Travel’s Phaeton Journeys, Gay of Good-times Rolling and Don and Lisa, our friends from Ohio.  So we tried to check those out, and we discovered other fun things to do along the way.

A short 15-minute drive from our campground on Grand Island (click here if interested in Steve’s review of the KOA campground) took us to Old Fort Niagara, NY.  Our next door neighbor at the campground suggested this worthwhile stop, and it was an interesting one that history buffs will not want to miss.  This was a strategic site on the great lakes which played a critical role in the French & Indian War, the American Revolution and the War of 1812.  It is preserved as it stood in the 1700’s when France and Britain controlled Niagara, and then it was restored between 1926 and 1934.  The three flags – French, British and U.S. – commemorate  the three nations that held Fort Niagara.

French Castle

The french castle in the background is the oldest building in North America’s lake region.

The buildings of Old Fort Niagara represent several different periods of history.  Large plaques representing the arms of France and Great Britain indicate the nation responsible for each building’s construction.

At the museum was displayed the biggest flag we have seen, encased in its own climate-controlled compartment.  It’s the original 15-stars, 15-stripes flag that was flown at Fort Niagara from 1796 to 1818.

Old Fort Niagara Flag

Original Ft. Niagara 15-stars, 15-stripes captured by the British in 1813.

Do you know where buffalo wings originated?  Well, we checked out the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY, home to what is claimed to be the originator of buffalo wings.  Caution: when in Buffalo, one should not call the wings “buffalo wings” or “hot wings” – just call them “chicken wings”.  Very strange.  Doesn’t make sense to us, but we don’t want to start a bar brawl with these New Yorkers.  They certainly were packed on a weekday afternoon.  Verdict: the wings were good – big, plump and juicy, fried crispy but not overcooked.  We have had better sauce on our wings, though.  So we would say they were good, but don’t bother flying across the U.S. just to try them.  At least we can say we had the originals!

Anchor Bar

At the home of the original buffalo wings

We crossed the border into Canada again, driving on the Lewiston Bridge to Ontario and exploring several  attractions.  We cruised along the 35-mile Niagara Parkway that runs beside the rampaging river.  Along the route are various attractions worth stopping for if you have time.

At the Sir Beck Hydro Power Plant in Ontario, we took a tour and learned about the new additional Niagara Tunnel that was completed in March 2013. This monster is 47.24′ high and 41.67′ in diameter – “big enough for 5 school busses to park side-by-side”.  The 6.3-mile underground tunnel diverts water from the Niagara River just above Horsehoe Falls, then quickly drops 328 ‘ and rushes downstream to the Sir Adam Beck Generating Station.  Finally, the water enters a pipe called a penstock and through the huge turbines to generate electricity.  This plant generates enough power to supply just about everything within 30 miles .  We were amazed to learn the plant is so efficient that the average maintenance needed by each turbine is just 3 hours per year.

Turbines at Sir Beck HyroPlant

Turbines at Sir Beck Hydro Plant.  They use bicycles to get around this massive place!

Per agreement between the U.S. and Canada, up to 75% of the water flowing toward the three falls at Niagara Falls is diverted into the huge tunnels running to hydroelectric plant “ponds” in New York and Canada.  This is enough water diversion that you can actually see a difference in the flow over the falls at night.  Both Ontario Hydro and the New York State Power Authorities pump this massive amount of water into their gigantic water reservoirs in order to top them up and supply the plants during the daytime hours.  During the day, water diversion is reduced to about 50% so that millions of tourists can enjoy the beauty of the falls. Pretty cool arrangement!

International Control Dam

The International Control Dam can be seen from Goat Island, NY or past Table Rock in Ontario.

The International Control Dam upstream has 18  gates that are raised or lowered in order control the water flow over the Falls for diversion into the Hydro Tunnels of Ontario Hydro and the New York State Power Authority.

Welland Canal is a ship canal which enables ships to ascend and descend the Niagara Escarpment, and to bypass Niagara Falls.  It operates just like the Panama Canal – on a much smaller scale (click here to read our post about the Panama Canal).  Welland Canal extends 26 miles from Port Weller Ontario, on Lake Ontario, to Port Colborne Ontario, on Lake Erie.  We were hoping to catch one of the passing ships as we arrived early in the morning and climbed the observation platform at Lock 3 near St Catherine’s.  However, we were informed that the next crossing was several hours away.  Fortunately, at Thorold Lock 7 the ship CSL Niagara was just beginning to navigate into the narrow canal.

Lock 3, Welland Canal

Lock 3, Welland Canal.  Pretty, but not a ship in sight.

wpid14504-2013-07-21-NY-1040548.jpg

The CSL Niagara squeezing into the lock

Thorold, Lock 7

About 20 minutes later, and 25′ higher – good to go!

A stop at Niagara-on-the-Lake was a must, as this little town was adorned with colorful foliage and teeming with tourists.  We contributed to their economy as Steve bought his Tilley hat at the Beau Chapeua Hat Store.  Then we stopped at an Irish Pub so we could sample the Irish Family of Beers and have a hearty lunch (Steve’s eyes rolled back in his head as he enjoyed the corned beef).  There were several fruit stands along the way, but we had to pass them since we were afraid the yummy fruits would be confiscated at the border – which has happened to us before.  We did taste and buy some excellent wine at the Peller winery though, and the border folks didn’t even ask about them.

On the Niagara Parkway, we also checked out the Botanical Gardens and the cool floral clock.

Botanical Garden

Pose at Hornbeam Alley at the Botanical Gardens

Niagara Botanical Garden

Steve wanted to smack this plant just to kill the flies!  Probably against the rules…

Floral Clock

40-foot wide floral time piece.

Continuing south on the Parkway, we ended up back at Niagara Falls where we saw hordes of tourists gawking at the falls.  The Canadian side of the falls are very popular, as you are able to see full frontal views of the huge Horseshoe Falls.

Table Rock

Tourists viewing at Horseshoe Falls at Table Rock on the Canadian side

One of our final stops was at the Skylon Tower, where we were able to view the falls at night from the top.

Skylon Tower

Skylon Tower

My last picture of the Horseshoe Falls at night, viewed from Skylon Tower, is not the best of my captures, as the multi-colored lights did not come out so good.  I still have a lot to learn about night time photography.

Horsehoe Falls at night

Illuminated Horseshoe Falls at night

Crossing the border back into the U.S. at the Rainbow Bridge involved a 40-minute wait.  Although we think we have seen a lot, we know there are many other things worth checking out here.  But alas, after a busy week it’s time to move on.

As I sit here ready to publish this blog, it is beautiful out (in the 70’s) but raining lightly. We were going to ride bikes today, but it looks like we might have to delay it until tomorrow and instead do some reading and enjoy a glass of wine.  Darn, life can be so difficult at times!

Next up:  Parish, NY

*******************************************************************