Heat and Guns

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View from campsite in Pennsylvania.

While in New York, our campsite was not far from the Susquehanna River.  We went to see it.  Having lived in Maryland most of my life, I am familiar with the Susquehanna emptying into the Chesapeake Bay.  It contributes 50% of the freshwater into the Bay.  It was interesting to see how it looks much further north.

On our way to and through Pennsylvania, we drove alongside and crossed the Susquehanna River several times.  I never realized how much territory the river covers.  It meanders all over Pennsylvania.

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Susquehanna River near Harpursville, New York.

Not long before we arrived at our campsite, we heard something rolling around in the back of the RV.  I was in the passenger seat and too lazy to get up and climb over the dog to figure out what it was.  I told Regis it sounded like pretzels to me.  We keep our pretzel nuggets in a sealed canister.  No problem there.  As we heard them again, I said I was sure they were pretzels.  We were almost to the campground, so why get up?

Later, while making dinner, Regis opened the cabinet to get ingredients.  He was deluged with coffee beans.  Apparently, the reusable tape to reseal the coffee bean bag is inadequate to survive the rigors of the ups and downs of the Pennsylvania country side.   We have coffee beans everywhere.  We will be finding them for years to come.  But, the cabinet does smell nice.

Also after setting up the site which is located at the top of a mountain, we relaxed to enjoy the view.  Two things we noticed immediately which told us for sure we were back in the US.  First, we heard the air conditioners running.  It is hot here.  Second, we heard gunshots.  Lots of them.  Since we figured there is no battle going on, Regis surmised that there is a trap and skeet range nearby.

Just this morning, I mentioned to Regis that I brought too many shorts.  One of my Canadian friends told me it also gets hot in Canada, so I packed for the heat.  I did wear shorts, but it was not always my primary attire.  We rarely had the air conditioning on.  More often, we had the heat on.  Sometimes, the motor home would heat up in the sun.  After the sun set, we would turn the air conditioner on to cool it off to better match the outdoor temperature.  And, sometimes we would have the heat on by the wee hours of the morning because it was so cold.  We have been very fortunate to have dodged the summer heat.

Not so anymore.  I will be wearing those shorts all the way back to Florida.  It is August 1 and we are just now beginning to experience the summer we grew up with.  Hmmm.  It’s not too late to turn around and head back north for another month!

Dart – The Attractor

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St. John, New Brunswick

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.

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Volley ball on the beach in St. John, New Brunswick.

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.

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Fish and chips and local brews at a restaurant in St. John, New Brunswick.

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.

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Reversing falls in S.t John, New Brunswick.

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.

 

Encounter with a Groundhog (Marmot)

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Groundhog in New Brunswick, Canada.  This doesn’t look like the groundhogs I am familiar with but my research on the internet indicates this is a groundhog and groundhogs are in the marmot family.  

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.

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Doe and two fawns in the woods in Nova Scotia.
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Hairy Woodpecker in New Brunswick, Canada.
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Buck in New Brunswick, Canada.
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Buck in New Brunswick, Canada.

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.

 

Halifax Area

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Canadians enjoying the beach in Nova Scotia. Look closely and you can see several surfers enjoying the surf. There is heavy fog so it is nearly impossible to see much. The non-surfers are fully clothed and the surfers are in wet suits.

Note to my personal trainer:  Please don’t read this post.

We are staying in a campground about 25 kilometers from Halifax.  We originally planned to go into the city but decided not to do that with the dog.  A local I met in Shediac recommended we visit Peggy’s Cove, so that’s what we did.

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Peggy’s Cove landscape. It is granite with very little soil so there are no trees.

We arrived in Peggy’s Cove along with every other tourist in the area.  It is a very small, cute little town that was overwhelmed by the tourists.  This is not what we like.  Instead, we drove up the road for about 10 or 15 minutes and stopped for lunch at the Finer Diner.  They had free WIFI access, so Regis took advantage of it to upload some video.  After we finished eating a delicious lunch, Regis said he needed more time for the upload.  So, he ordered a beer and I ordered a Coconut Cream pie.  It was the best Coconut Cream pie I have ever eaten.  I may never be able to eat this kind of pie again because it will not be possible for it to live up to the standards of this pie.  (My favorite personal trainer.  I told you not to read this.  Anyway, I wouldn’t have gotten desert but I love Coconut Cream pie.)

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Almost the entire town of Peggy’s Cove.

The next day, we went to the beach which is a few kilometers from our campsite.  The Atlantic View Trail runs along the beach and we thought we would hike a portion of it.  The fog was very thick at the beach.  There were many surfers and a few companies renting surf boards.  I can’t understand how people can surf when you can’t see a thing.  I saw more surfers within a few kilometers on this stretch of beach than I have seen in one location before.   The non-surfers on the beach were enjoying it fully clothed while sitting in the thick fog.  I much prefer Florida beaches!  I can’t even see the beach here.

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Lobster traps in Nova Scotia.
0718 Lobster Traps (1 of 1)
Lobster traps in Nova Scotia.

We gave up on the hike after a short way because the fog was so thick we couldn’t see much.  But, back at our campground, it was nice.

This campground is having infrastructure issues.  The water pressure dropped so low the first day we were here that the water was inaccessible.  Regis was smart enough to realize there was a water pressure problem and put as much water in our tanks as he could before the water basically shut down.  It was eventually fixed but broke again the next day.  The electricity has gone out a few times also.

This campground is the most self-service we have seen.  If you arrive without a reservation, you must pay cash.  With a reservation, you can go straight to your campsite.  There are only 10 full hook-up sites here.  On our second day, our neighbors took off for the day leaving their trailer and belongings.  Apparently, they were supposed to leave that morning.  The campers who had paid and reserved the site for that night arrived.  There was no other site for them.  They waited several hours in hopes that our neighbors would return and vacate the spot, but the neighbors did not return until 10:30 that night.  The park personnel let the other campers park somewhere else in the park and use their generator.  I hope they got their money back.

I am not fond of this campground.  Add the weather issues to the mix and I am ready to move to our next location.

 

Leaving Cape Breton

We left Cape Breton and headed to the Halifax area.  We had great luck with the weather while in Cape Breton.  The mosquito abatement plan continues to be effective.  Buy an expensive screened room to keep away from the bugs and they disappear so you never need to open the box!

We learned something from the children in the campground.  A bunch of the little boys inserted plastic water bottles between the frame of their bike and the back wheel.  When they ride the bike, they sound like little chainsaws rolling through the campground.  They call them “motors”.  It is great fun for the kids but can get a little annoying for the adults.  We noticed that the parents would step in after a while and make the children remove their motors.

As we were traveling on the Cabot Trail heading to Halifax, we put the camera in the windshield to record a view of the scenery.  When we were descending a hill we had climbed, we came upon a switchback with a large truck with heavy equipment on it stuck on a hairpin turn.  This, of course, stopped all traffic in both directions.  We got video of the situation for those interested.  Click here. The video is about 11 minutes.  If you are not interested in how the truck gets out of this mess, you should still watch the beginning of the video to see the views on the road.  (Special note to Jeff from Regis.  The hills here are massive with 13% grades.)

We also came upon this water truck transporting a small swimming pool.  Oddly, the pool was full of water.

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Water truck hauling a swimming pool full of water (sort of since it is spilling out going over bumps).

One of the things we noticed when we first arrived on Cape Breton Island was that the signs were no longer in English and French.  They were in English and another language.  We thought it was language from the First Nation people.  When we passed the Gaelic College, we realized that it was probably Gaelic.  These signs stopped our French lessons.  We thought we were doing pretty well learning French by seeing all the dual French/English signs.  Throwing in the Gaelic was too much for us to handle!

We managed to get some internet access which has not only allowed us to upload this road/truck video, but we were able to load some wildlife video.  Click here to see some video of a Guillemot with food.  Click here to see video of Gannets feeding.  They are a little hard to see against the stunning background, but if you watch closely you can see them occasionally plunge into the water.  If this video is not satisfactory, I recommend coming to Cape Breton yourself and hopping on a whale boat tour.   Also, watching on a bigger screen will help.  Here is a video of the nesting bird colony.  Click here.

Here is a video of Common Terns feeding while we were at Kouchibouguac National Park. Click here.

I came upon a mother grouse while walking in Kouchibouguac National Park.  In the beginning of this video, notice the small thing run across the path after mom crossed.  I thought it was a mouse at first.  Eventually, a few more chicks cross.  Click here.

Pilot Whales

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Pilot Whales off Cape Breton Island.

I went out on another whale tour out of Bay St. Lawrence.  I went on a boat named Oshan.  I thought it was another way to spell Ocean but it is a Gaelic term meaning “standing tall or above”.  It is operated by a family that has lived in the area for over 5 generations.

The tour was incredible.  I can’t begin to describe what the northern tip of Cape Breton Island looks like, especially from the water.  It is stunning.  The captain started the tour by giving the usual safety guidelines like how to put on a life preserver.  He demonstrated putting it on, said tie it the best you can, and then said the next step was to pray.  He told us it was the only life preserver on the boat and he would throw it in the middle of the boat and probably the quickest, strongest person would wind up with the preserver when needed.  After that he told us there were enough life preservers to probably float the boat.

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Cape Breton Island.

Okay, this captain was hilarious but he was also quiet.  Here’s my thinking.  This is a guy who was a fisherman most of his life (a life that doesn’t require interacting with people) and then turned to whale watching tours.  With fewer fish and more tourists available, it’s probably a good choice.  But, this is a quiet, introverted fisherman who has turned into a whale tour guide.  He spoke very little and once we got out to “sea” he said “okay you can start looking for whales”.  He turned out to be a great captain and we saw lots of pilot whales, grey seals, seabirds, and great coastline.

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Home on Cape Breton Island. Notice the access to the sea. It is a rope ladder.

The pilot whales were a blast.  There were many whales swimming together and coming up for air at the same time.  It was like watching a group of dolphins except they are bigger than dolphins.  It was an amazing experience for me.  I hit the jackpot on this trip.  This tour would have been amazing even without the incredible pilot whale encounter.

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Cormorants off Cape Breton Island.
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Guillemot. Look at those red feet!
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Fox crossing road on Cape Breton Island.
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Regis cannot believe this post is one block of wood. You don’t see that very often.

 

 

 

Middle Head

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Guillemot with a snack.

We took a hike Wednesday that turned out to be one of our favorite hikes.  It wasn’t very long, only 2.4 miles round trip.  The hike was to Middle Head at Igonish, Nova Scotia.  There were fantastic water views and wildlife.  We saw lots of Northern Gannets fishing.  We see them in Florida in the winter and I’m pretty sure I recognized one of the Gannets from Florida.  Seriously, when watching the Gannets in Florida they are way out over the water and even with binoculars they can be hard to see.  Here, we saw them fishing right along the coast line.  There was lots of splashing as they torpedoed into the water to fish.  We stayed a long time to watch them.

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Northern Gannet just before it enters into the water.

When we got to the end of the headland, we saw a seal in the water and a colony of nesting birds.  They were primarily Great Black-backed Gulls with a few Guillemots mixed in.  At first, we didn’t notice all the young because they blend in with the rocks so well.  We soon realized what we were seeing and stayed for a long time watching the activity.  Dart rested in shady areas while we soaked in the scenery and the wildlife activity.

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Hike to Middle Head in Nova Scotia.
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Hike to Middle Head in Nova Scotia. Dart found the only shade at the headland.

We enjoyed the hike so much that we returned the next day but went later in the day.  There was not as much Gannet activity and we didn’t any seals.  But, we saw a whale and my best guess is that it was a Minke whale.  We spent a lot of time watching the gulls and Guillemots.

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Great Black-backed Gull with young.

The hike starts close to the Keltic Lodge in Cape Breton National Park.  This Lodge has the most incredible views.  There is a restaurant and a golf course.  There are lots of Canada red Adirondack chairs to sit in and enjoy the view.  And, there is this incredible hike to enjoy close to your lodgings.  If I wasn’t traveling in an RV, I would fly into Halifax, rent a car, and come here to the Keltic Lodge and just chill for however long I could.

Canada has this thing going on where they have red Adirondack chairs sprinkled throughout the country.  They are located in incredible places and you are welcome to sit down in these chairs and enjoy the view.  I think it is a pretty cool idea.  We’ve seen quite a few of these chairs on our trip but the ones located at the Keltic Lodge are the most inviting we have seen.  I could spend a whole day sitting in one of those chairs.

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Red Adirondack chairs that Canada invites you to sit in and enjoy the view. These are placed at the Keltic Lodge. The far mountain has a ski slope. If I skied that in the winter, I would crash because I was too busy looking out over the ocean.