I visited the Animal Adventure Park today and saw April the Giraffe, Oliver (dad), and their baby Tajiri.
The Park is nicely done. The animals look healthy, the environment is well maintained, and the animals have enrichment programs. There is also nice landscaping around many enclosures. I was impressed.
The highlight, of course, was seeing April and Taj. I was one of the millions who watched April give birth to the calf. Therefore, it was very special to see the giraffes live. There is an interesting set up that allows the park visitors to feed carrots to April and Taj. This allows for some intimate contact which was thrilling to the visitors young, old, and everyone in between. I was able to touch April and it was incredible to be so close to such a beautiful animal.
My favorite animals turned out to be three young bears. I got a short video of one of the bears licking peanut butter off a tire. Click here. The park keepers brought some apple tree branches into the enclosure and two of the bears had a blast playing with them. Who knew how much fun branches could be? The bears were just too cute.
The park runs a live cam of the giraffes on Sunday through Friday 4-8pm. See it here.
I brought home a giraffe and Dart has been wary, but curious about it. It’s a lot bigger than he is! Regis almost broke a rib he laughed so hard when he saw me bring the giraffe out of the car.
We are back! The first thing I did was turn on the data to my cell phone. The world is now at my finger tips! Then, we drove to a truck stop, pulled into the truck gas pump, and filled up both tanks. Aaah.
The weather is wonderful. It’s somewhat tempting to hang out in New York until the temperature drops in Florida, but I miss home and my friends and I’m looking forward to getting back.
We have some random thoughts we want to post. We missed these in our last posts.
When we were standing in the parking lot at Peggy’s Cove, Dart started growling and barking at a tiger that was painted on a nearby RV. He never did calm down around the tiger. I guess he’s not fond of tigers.
When we were in Riviere-du-Loup and returning from an evening stroll along the water, a 14,000 volt fuse blew on the power pole near us. It was very loud and scared the heck out of Dart. These types of fuses are made with an explosive powder inside and when overheated explode to break the connection. The volume of this explosion is louder than a shotgun but slightly quieter than the percussion explosions of a fireworks display. I’m surprised Dart let me walk him by the water again the next morning.
While in Riviere-du-Loup, we attempted to do a hike through a marsh. What were we thinking? We were looking for birds, instead we found more insects in one section of trail than all the flying insects we have ever seen in our entire life. They looked like mosquitos but they did not land on us. If they did, our bones and skin would be lying on the trail. I returned to the car, but Regis was so fascinated by seeing so many insects at the same time, he risked his life by staying longer to observe the phenomenon.
Regis noticed that we have not stayed in a single campground where someone’s car alarm didn’t go off. Now, every time we arrive in a campground, he waits for it. As soon as it happens, he yells. This is another thing Dart does not appreciate.
Our last campground in Canada required us to wear wrist bands. I do not like wrist bands. I hated it. I was happy to cut it off the morning we left. This campground had some highlights and some downers. Let’s start with the bad stuff. We have been camping all of our lives and never had someone’s campfire seriously interfere with our experience. Our neighbors built a campfire one night that was very smoky. The smoke filled our RV. If Regis had not removed the batteries to the smoke alarm, it would have gone off. We had to close all the windows. (The batteries we removed because the smoke alarm keeps going off when we cook.) The next night, the other neighbors built a campfire and smoldered it for a long time with something other than wood. Regis thinks it was cardboard. Whatever it was, it smelled awful and made me nauseous. I could even taste it, which is weird. Two nights in a row we had bad campfire experiences with our neighbors but haven’t had that happen to us in too many years to count.
The good part of our stay was that one night someone walked to the edge of the campground and started playing bagpipes. It was awesome. It’s the first time I saw someone play bagpipes that wasn’t wearing a kilt. The next night, a camping neighbor started playing the guitar and singing. I loved it.
We loved our trip through Canada. It is a great country with wonderful people. But, we are happy to return to the U.S. In a future trip, we plan to go to Banff and Jasper National Parks.
Regis went grocery stopping after we set up our campsite in the U.S. He said he knew he was back in the U.S. because there was 50 feet of mustard choices in the grocery store. (Yes, he exaggerated, but you get the point.)
We are staying where we are staying because I plan to visit April the Giraffe and her baby and friends. If you don’t know who she is, where have you been? Google it!
Our original plans were to go from Riviere-du-Loup to the Thousand Islands, but that is a long drive in one day. We decided to break up the trip by stopping at Quebec City. It is about 130 miles between Riviere-du-Loup and Quebec city and there were three rest stops along the way. We did not see any rest stops in the other Provinces we visited, but have seen four so far in Quebec. We were so excited, we stopped at two of them.
With a motor home and tow vehicle, we appreciate rest stops. Without them, we have difficulty finding places to stop along the way. The motor home and tow vehicle combination are too large to stop just anywhere. In fact, getting fuel has been very difficult in Canada. We usually go to the truck pumps in the U.S. because we have two fuel tanks and there is plenty of room at the pump. We cannot use the truck pumps in Canada because you need some kind of a card key. That means we have to figure out how to get to the pump that has diesel. At some stations, it is not possible. A few times, we have had to disconnect the two vehicle to do it. Often, we have to wait for awhile to get access to the only pump we can reach. Between the gas station difficulties and few rest stops in the other Provinces, traveling in Canada with a motor home can be difficult.
We are glad we stopped at Quebec City. There is an aquarium here and I went to it the first afternoon we arrived. Wow! I saw so many amazing animals and many of the fish were very big. I have seen some of these variety of fish in other aquariums but not as big as they were at the Quebec aquarium. It was very crowded though. Nevertheless, I enjoyed one of the exhibits so much, I went through the building twice.
Quebec city is on the other side of the river from us, so the next day we parked the car at the ferry terminal, boarded the ferry on foot, and traveled to Quebec city by boat. Dart was allowed. The city is beautiful. I have not seen anything quite like it. We roamed the streets for a bit and then decided to get lunch. I looked up pet friendly restaurants and only found one but I couldn’t locate it on the map. We gave up and decided to pick something and ask if we could sit at an outside table with the dog. We eventually made a choice and they were very accommodating. The name of the restaurant sounded familiar so I looked it up and it was the pet friendly restaurant listed on my search. Quebec is not a small city, so I think it is amazing that we randomly arrived at the pet friendly restaurant. We do not know if other restaurants would have also been accommodating. Just because they weren’t listed, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t allow dogs.
After we ate, we wandered the streets some more. I enjoyed all the original art work. There were numerous wonderful art galleries. I could spend the day going through them and it would be especially fun if my sister was with me. We came upon a street musician playing the saxophone and sat and listened for awhile. We later came upon a street musician playing the violin and enjoyed listening to him for awhile.
Since Dart wasn’t having as much fun as us, we returned. If it was just Regis and I, not only would we have stayed the whole day but we might have extended our stay in Quebec City because there is so much to see and do and so many places to eat!
We drove north along the shore of the St. Lawrence River to visit the Kiskotuk Park. We passed many farms. There was a crop growing with yellow flowers and it was stunning to see. We stopped at several observation platforms that looked out over the marsh and the water. We saw lots and lots of birds. Even with binoculars, they were too far away to identify.
On our route, we saw a house that had lots of little houses, a little church, and a little lighthouse sitting in the front yard. I stopped to photograph them and an old man came out of the house to talk to me. He did not speak any English and I realized during our conversation just how poor my French is. The old man wanted to talk. He kept talking and I didn’t understand anything he was saying. He asked me into his house and showed me a painting on the wall. He had a lot to say to me about the painting and I understood none of it. It was very sad. He had so much to say and I would love to have understood it. There were probably at least 20 more little houses in his backyard. (Regis edit: These houses were hand make, probably by the old man. Pretty darn sure I saw that church in town!) Darn I wish my French was better.
The car, RV, and bikes got covered with grime. They acquired a continent’s worth of dirt in our travels. I have been on the lookout for a car wash to clean the car but have not seen any. Campgrounds do not allow you to wash your vehicle on site. Today, I decided to do something about it. I got out a bottle of Invisible Glass and a huge roll of paper towels. I cleaned both bikes and the car. It would have been a lot easier with a hose and a bucket of water, but it did a pretty good job and I feel so much better. Even though it is not surprising to see Jeeps dirty, it bothered me.
In the evening, we went down to the water to watch the sunset. A lot of people do that. They all started to gather to enjoy the show. As soon as the sun dipped below the horizon, most people left. But, the best colors for a sunset show up after the sun sets. You should hang around for about a half hour after sunset to enjoy them.
Post script: As were leaving our campsite this morning, we saw a car wash. It was less than ½ mile from our site. I could have coasted from our campsite into the car wash without starting the engine. Regis says I might have lost some momentum going into the bay, but could succeed if I set out to do it with reckless abandon. We drove by this place multiple times and the sign says Lave-Auto and it looks like multiple service bays. I forgot that Lave means wash. There are some service bays but a few of them are for washing your car. Encroyable!
We left St. John to head toward Quebec. Oh my. My six years of French is not adequate for this. Once we got to Quebec, all the signs were in French. In the other provinces, the signs are in both languages so I was practicing by reading French first and then reading the English if I couldn’t understand it. Now, I have no English translation to fall back on.
I feel a little isolated. Everyone around us is speaking fluent French. (One exception I will describe later.) I think most folks know we speak English and avoid us. The professional tourist people are very kind, but everyone else ignores us. It’s a weird feeling. Dart is wearing his USA bandana, but I suspect people know we are from the US without us understanding why.
This turns out to be a decent campsite that is a short walk away from the coast. It is an amazing view. We can watch Beluga whales from the beach.
I immediately took a whale watch tour leaving at 9:30 am the day after we arrived. While I was doing that Regis set about fixing our newly broken table. This is another one of those situations where there was a lack of quality in manufacturing. Our dining table collapsed and was no longer usable. While fixing it, Regis determined it was not adequately glued in the first place. Apparently, someone noticed that in manufacturing and caulked it which was a temporary solution. This is our second season in the motor home and it was time for the caulking to fail.
While he was working, I was enjoying a 3 ½ hour boat tour on the St. Lawrence River. The guide spoke fluent French and then gave us an English translation. His French accent was strong enough, along with the wind, sound of the motor, and other people talking, that I had a hard time understanding what he was saying even when he spoke English. Nevertheless, I understood some of it.
Not long after leaving the dock, we saw Beluga whales. Click here for a short video. (It’s not great but look for the white whales. Belugas are white. We continued to see them. We arrived at the whale hot spot, which I think is where the water from the Gulf of St. Lawrence meets the freshwater of the St. Lawrence River. We saw LOTS of seabirds. So far, on this trip, we haven’t seen that many seabirds. I think that’s because they are all here. My goodness. I saw thousands of cormorants. It was amazing. We saw several Minke whales where the water mixes.
On the way back, we encountered a gazillion seals. Okay, I don’t know how many seals there were but I have never seen that many seals swimming in the water at the same time. The amount of sea mammals and birds is astonishing.
On the way back, I felt my fingers getting numb. I was cold. As I was trying to get circulation back in my fingers, I saw a young boy and girl come up on the top deck with me. The young boy was wearing a short-sleeved Toronto Blue Jays shirt. The young girl was wearing a sun dress. They showed no indication that the cold breeze on the top deck was anything more than lovely. I was wearing five layers – a shirt, a polartech top, a wool sweater, a sweatshirt, and a gore-tex rain jacket. And, I was cold. Jeez.
There were lots of people on our whale tour that probably spoke neither French or English. When they gave the safety instructions, they gave them in French, English, and another language. After that, it was all French and English with an accent. I am exhausted trying to figure out what the guide was saying!!!
I have to tell you what happened after we arrived at our campsite. After setting up, the skies opened up and it poured. After it stopped, Regis decided to do a bike ride through town to check things out. Dart and I stayed behind keeping each other company. About 45 minutes after Regis left, it started pouring again. Dart and I looked at each other. Should we try to rescue Regis? We don’t know where he is. Dart and I decided to give it a try. We took off trying to figure out where Regis might have gone. Miracle of miracles!!!! We found him. He was wet and bedraggled, but we picked him up and brought him home. Dart was happy to get everyone back together again.
We are camped in St. John, so we spent the day mostly in the city. I wanted to get my hair cut. I tried to get it cut in Nova Scotia, but the only local hair salon said they didn’t take walk-ins and couldn’t fit me in. I looked up local hair salons in St. John and we went to the city so I could give it a try as soon as they opened. The first salon said they don’t take walk-ins and couldn’t fit me in. If I hadn’t already had similar problems in the US, I would have take it personally.
We started off to the second choice but had no idea where Union street was. Regis noticed a WIFI antenna on a street pole. Out came the cell phone, open the WIFI hot spot finder app, and boom found an open WIFI. Good job city of Saint John! Free WIFI in the down town area. Next was a talk with google maps and we were off to the next hair salon place. A block this way, two that way another block to the right and ta-da! BUT looks like the hair salon has been over run by the BREW PUB next door! Not a bad use of the space, but no hair cutting getting done there.
We started walking around the city and came upon another hair salon. They said they could accommodate me in an hour and a half. I was happy with that. But, we walked around the block and I was able to find someone willing to take me right away. I went to get my haircut and Regis let the other salon know I wasn’t coming back. Then, he went across the street to sit out of the sun waiting for me. He noticed someone on an electric wheelchair at the back end of a parking lot. After giving Dart some water, he noticed she had crossed the parking lot, maybe to get a closer look at Dart. Regis crossed back to the parking lot and started chatting with Donna.
After several minutes of chit chat, a second wheel chair person arrived, Brian. Soon there were three “scooter” people, Donna, Brian, and Barb approached and Regis began a lively conversation, while I was getting my hair cut. When I came out, I found Regis and Dart camped out with a lady in an electric wheel chair in a deep political conversation. Others joined before I left. They were an entertaining and delightful group who gave us some good information on what streets to visit to see good architecture.
Regis is a great fan of what I call “creepy” architecture. It isn’t always dark and gloomy, but often is. Anyway, he was happy to see it.
We went to the downtown area with lots of restaurants with outside dining and found they are pet friendly. We were able to have lunch outside with Dart at the table. They provide a bowl and water. We had the bowl, so we just needed the water. The weather was astonishing and the food was wonderful. So were the local brews!
After we left, we visited the “reversing falls”. The St. Johns River flows into the Bay of Fundy here. The St. Johns river maintains it’s height, but the tidal Bay of Fundy waters change by at least 24 feet between tides. We arrived about two hours before the lowest tide. Click here for a short video. High tide was at dark, so we couldn’t get back to see how it works when the tide is higher than the river.
Regis has been fascinated with watching the ship activity in St. John from the overlook at our campground. Tonight, we both grabbed a glass of wine to go sit at the overlook and watch tugboats, ships, etc. There was also a local ball game visible from the overlook. When Regis took to cheering at the game, Dart was not pleased. I left with Dart to go back to the quiet of the RV. Regis says the red team was decimating the black team.
I wish I hadn’t said anything negative about our Halifax area campground. We arrived in our new campground this afternoon. Although the park is nice, the campground is not very nice. The bad news is that this is the worst campsite we have ever had. The good news is that it has decent WIFI access that we can get inside the RV. This is a first on this trip!! The other good news is that there is an overlook a short distance from our campsite with views of St. John. The bad news is that it is so foggy, I can’t see anything.
We had some nice wildlife encounters today. As we were leaving our campsite this morning, we came across a doe with her two fawns. When we arrived in our new campground, we took a walk through the park in which it is located. We saw a pair of Hairy Woodpeckers. We haven’t see Hairy Woodpeckers in years. We saw a couple of bucks. And we encountered a groundhog on the trail. Dart went nuts because he thought it was a squirrel. The groundhog paid him no mind.
Dart is one of those dogs that doesn’t bother with most animals. When we encounter rabbits or chipmunks, he doesn’t care. For the first 5 years of Dart’s life, Regis encouraged him to chase squirrels. (There was never a danger of him catching one even though he is very fast.) Dart loves to chase squirrels. We encountered lots of these little reddish squirrels that are not much bigger than chipmunks at many of the campgrounds. In fact, a pair of them may have been stashing things in the RV at the last campsite. Dart does not consider them squirrels and pays no attention to them. At our current campsite, we encountered a gray squirrel at the beginning of our walk and that got Dart going. He was on high alert. Then, when he saw the groundhog, he was convinced it was a squirrel and wanted desperately to be freed for the chase.