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Home News Camping Links Genealogy News Archive

July, 2019

Camper

Here is the more or less monthly news

update about us and our corner of the

world.

July 21 - August 3 2019

This fourth update comes to you from the eastern shore of Cape Breton Island at River Ryan, Nova Scotia.

We are 6,503 kms from home.

You can read the May 23 - June 6 log here.

You can read the June 7 - 26 log here.

You can read the June 27 - July 20 log here.

You can see our planned routes here.

Type to you next soon from the road.

Greg, Tess & Camper

July 21, 2019 Parrsboro, NS 5,749 kms from home

It actually started out as a nice day and by early afternoon it was starting to spit. By mid-afternoon there was a torrential downpour, lightning, and wind. The wipers couldn’t keep up and there was water running down the roads. We explored the area around Parrsboro and I toured FOCUS – Fundy Oceanic Current something or other. They do research around underwater electricity generation harnessing the 18 kph currents in the Bay of Fundy. To me it seems like a good theory but I don’t see it being economically feasible. The investors seem to agree because it is in receivership.

We spent some time on the wharf and talked to a local lobsterman. He and his crew of two run 600 lobster traps. It takes 3 days to remove the lobsters and re-bait all the traps. They had a bunch of lobsters in a big plastic crate and had come ashore for more bait. They use some kind of 2-3 lb fish as bait and they loaded three full crates of bait so their bait to lobster ratio isn’t very good. Tough way to earn a living.

We stopped at Tim’s because Tess was in the mood for Timbits! First time for everything. When we got home, the rain runoff had carved deep trenches in the roads. There were a few more dumps of rain and wind gusts but by 8pm things had settled down and the fog and mist had receded so we could see the ocean.

Tomorrow we should be in Dartmouth/Halifax where we’ll stay for a week or so.  


July 22, 2019 Dartmouth NS 5,939 kms from home

We hit the road at the usual time and headed towards Halifax along Hwy 2. This is an often rough, narrow and twisting secondary highway along the Bay of Fundy shoreline before it turns inland. The tide was out and the water was more than a km from the high water mark in many places. Very neat to see.

We went down a side road that looked paved but after a few dozen metres, wasn’t. When I found a turn around spot, I dropped the car and did a 180. We left Seven there and went exploring in Toad.

There is a trail system at Thomas’ Cove that loops along the shoreline. I walked down it exactly 100 steps and stood near the high-water mark looking way out across a km of red mud. It would be interesting to sit there for several hours to watch a 54+ foot tide come in but we don’t have that kind of time.

At Truro, Hwy 2 turned into a primary highway: Smooth, divided and 100 kph speed limit. We poked along at 90 of course and in due course came to Dartmouth. The GPS brought us to Shubie Park campground right in the city. They had only a 50 amp plus water pull thru site so that’s what we took. It is expensive at $60 per night. In fact, this is the most expensive place we have ever stayed.

I am arranging to meet up with Arlene and Dave for a visit to catch up on the past bunch of years since we have seen either of them. Dave lives in Halifax and Arlene in Florida.

Once rush hour traffic had cleared, we decided to head to the senior’s day buffet at the local casino. $7 each for all we can eat is too good a deal to pass up. Parking here is pay by the hour but if you gamble a little with your club card in the machine, parking is free. We got free parking!


July 23, 2019 Dartmouth NS 5,939 kms from home

We woke to an overcast day with light showers but by the time we had our act together and were ready to head out, it was a decent day.

We went to the waterfront today and started out by picking up our tickets for the 90 minute harbour tour aboard the tall ship Silva.

We walked to Murphy’s Restaurant and fish & chips and a lobster roll platter along with a cold beer. The food was excellent. We were on a covered patio on the pier. There were fat pigeons roaming the wooden plank floor looking for crumbs and the ceiling was retracted canvas which they closed when rain threatened.

The Silva is an old converted motor/sail powered small freighter. It has quite a history, even being salvaged off the bottom at one time. She felt very sturdy under power and under sail. Once away from the wharf, we raised sails including a couple of jibs. And by we, I mean Tess and I helped hoist the sails. We toured the harbour and heard stories of Halifax and the Silva. I was able to contribute the story of my cousin Norman Harrison’s death aboard the Titanic. The rain held off, but it was chilly out on the water and we snuggled under a blanket provided by the crew.

Back on land, we continued to wander along the harbourfront boardwalk. This is a real tourist area and there are lots of little eateries and shops. Naturally we ate again; I had a beaver tail and Tess had a churro while we wandered along. We restrained ourselves well and only bought one trinket, a colourful little crab with spring loaded legs which will live on Toad’s dashboard like the lobster on the dash of Tess’ car. She promptly named him “Crabby”, of course.

As it neared dark and it finally started to actually rain rather than just spit, we drove down to the casino to check out their daily buffet. I was still full but by 8:30 Tess was ready to eat again so she did. I played the machines without success and was feeling down. Tess was up a little and told me I was doing it wrong. I know that! She said just pick a machine that you think is going to pay and play until it does. Well, duh! She said watch and learn. She walked up to a seemingly random machine, put in $20 and in 5 minutes cashed out $70. She walked up to another one, put in $20 and cashed out $55 and then she says “See? Like that.” She is the slot whisperer.

We came home in a steady rain with a little mist. There was lots of glare from streetlights and traffic making the road lines invisible. Luckily traffic was light, so I didn’t piss anyone off by being in the wrong lane. I did miss one turn but nagging Nancy recalculated and got us back on track quickly. There’s no way we would be able to find our way around here without the GPS. There are so many lakes and harbour arms that nothing is in a straight line from where you are. Those same things make it a pretty city though.


July 24, 2019 Dartmouth NS 5,939 kms from home

Today was pretty much a do-nothing day. A trip to Sobeys and Walmart and then back home. I tried to find a groomer to give Camper a haircut this week but no luck. He’ll have to put up with being hot for a while longer. The temperature is fine but the humidity is 82% so it still feels sticky.

While walking Camper I spent some time chatting with a fellow in the campground from Germany. He and his wife have been on the road for a year touring Canada, the US and parts of Mexico in their big 4x4 expedition vehicle. They have also done Alaska, Iceland, and Europe with their next hope is to do Africa. Good for them! Interestingly, Germany is 5,400 kms from here while Morinville is only 4,500 kms so they  are only a little farther away from home than we are. We just took a roundabout route and covered 6,000 kms to get here.

Our next door neighbour came over for an intro to MS Word because she liked what I had done with my journal. She and her husband are from Kamloops and are visiting their son and granddaughter who live here in the Halifax area.

Camper and I explored a bit of Shubie Park and it is much bigger than I thought. There are walking trails, a beach with a lifeguard, an off-leash area with a dog beach, a canal, locks, and more. We’ll have to find the time to explore further.


July 25, 2019 Dartmouth NS 5,939 kms from home

Neighbours on both sides of us were gone by 8:30 and other campers were leaving most of the morning. We spent the morning getting ready for company.

In the afternoon Arlene Cooper from Florida came by. She is here visiting her family. Arlene and her husband Tom were part of our gang of WCB friends back in the 1980s.

We last saw her and Tom about 20 years ago at their home in Naples, Florida. Arlene and Tess have lots in common and always got along well. She is less than two years from retirement, and they are planning to buy a 50’ or so sailboat to live aboard for the last year of work then literally sail away into retirement. Good for them.

A short while later, Dave Avery came by. Dave and his now ex-wife Marie were also part of that same group of WC friends. We haven’t seen Dave in at least 30 years. He lives here in the Halifax area.

We still share common interests including computers and motorcycles and would no doubt still be friends if he hadn’t moved back here.  

Dave is also retiring in the next year or so and perhaps we will see him on his motorcycle at our place one of these years.

The visit was welcome but too short.


July 26, 2019 Dartmouth NS 5,939 kms from home

I had planned to go through the Pier 21 Immigration Museum today but it didn’t happen. It took longer than usual to get going in the morning and we made a detour to make sure we can get Seven in and out of the local propane place. We did eventually get downtown and I dropped the car and Tess off and walked to the museum. It was farther away than I estimated, the waterfront was crowded with tourists because there were two cruise ships in port. I got there at 4:30, an hour before closing time. I didn’t go in but did read about the place. It operated in the mid 20th century, well after my ancestors came to Canada and so doesn’t have any direct relevance to me. I decided to skip it completely.

The cruise ship Queen Mary 2 was tied up along side the museum. The other cruise ship in port was the Queen Elizabeth. Both ships are owned by the Cunard Line, same as the Oriana that my paternal grandfather took on his around the world cruise when I was a kid.

Both ships left port at the same time in the early evening. They sailed deeper into the outer harbour, turned around in their own length, and sailed away.

This is a rare event and the fire boat provided an escort along with the Coast Guard, police and a host of private craft. Wow!

The big ships and all the extra people along the boardwalk made for an interesting walk to the museum and back. There were a lot more private boats and several yachts moored along the route than the other day. Sizes ranged from 18’ to at least 200’ including the prettiest sailboat I have eve seen. She was from the Cayman Islands and I estimate her at 130 feet long.

We went to the casino for dinner because on Friday and Saturday nights their $9.99 buffet is prime rib and lobster. It runs 4-10 pm and by 4:15, the lineup was 4 hours long! We ate in the Chinese restaurant and had a great meal while watching the comings and goings in the busy harbour. Because it was Friday night, it wasn’t possible to get to the card tables, so I played the slots. After 2 hours I was down only $20 which is excellent for me.

We got home at 10:00 and shortly after 11:00 my long walk had caught up with me and it was bed time.


July 27, 2019 Dartmouth NS 5,939 kms from home

I am getting itchy to get back on the road. One more day and we’ll start towards Cape Breton Island. To prepare for a travel day tomorrow, we did pretty much nothing today. Camper got his walks around the campground, I played with Gypsy across the street, and we relaxed, read and vegged out. We did go for an hour long walk past the beach and along the canal but that’s it.


July 28, 2019 Port Hawkesbury NS 6,254 kms from home

We packed up everything, returned the 50 amp adapter and keycard to the office and got our deposit back and dumped tanks before heading to the propane place. It took 60 litres which is the capacity of the tank, we were empty. It has been a month since we filled up when we were in Quebec so that’s pretty good.

We are in no rush and puttered along the Eastern Shore Highway 7. The road needs some work as do all the secondary roads in the Atlantic provinces. It was a pretty drive though. We stopped for lunch in Sheet Harbour and saw a nice little riverside park with tables, stairs down to the river and a small waterfall.

Just before we crossed onto Cape Breton Island we fuelled up at an Irving gas bar and used the coupon I got from the ferry booth the other day. It saved us 5 cents per litre on the first 75. Every little bit helps.

We pulled back onto the highway and onto the causeway. The traffic light just before the bridge turned red so of course, I stopped. Then arms came down to block the road and the bridge rotated 90 degrees to allow a fishing boat to pass right in front of us. Traffic was lined up over a kilometre in the 10 minutes or so the bridge was open.

We continued a few kms along Hwy 104 to a friendly Walmart parking lot. As always, we are not alone although this is not one of the busier stores. We covered a decent distance today (for us) so a free night’s rest is welcome. Tomorrow will get us to the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site.


July 29, 2019 Albert Bridge, NS 6,254 kms from home

A milestone of sorts today: we drove to the easternmost bit of road that Seven will see on this trip, although we will take Toad farther east when we drive Cabot Trail. After this, it is all westward until we get home in September.

It is now official: Nova Scotia has the worst secondary highways in the country! As usual, I chose a secondary highway near the coast instead of the primary highway inland. These secondary roads in Nova Scotia are all poorly maintained with narrow lanes and no shoulder. There are lots of frost heaves and potholes. See my July 22 comments on Hwy 2. Well, Hwy 247 between St Peters and Marion Bridge is worse. The pavement at the edge has crumbled away so it is impossible to stay on the road in our lane because Seven is wider than the pavement in our lane.  There were more patched and unpatched holes than there was virgin pavement. We were down to 40 kph in some sections. If I was a Nova Scotian, I would be embarrassed.

We did eventually arrive at our campground near the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site. I was a little surprised nothing had fallen off Seven. The campground attendant said we would need most of the day to see the fortress so we will go tomorrow.

We settled into our site at quite a large park. There are 211 campsites on a three-pointed chunk of land extending into the Mira River. There are walking trails, beaches and playgrounds. This is the top ranked Provincial Park campground in Nova Scotia and very well maintained.


July 30, 2019 Albert Bridge, NS 6,254 kms from home

Today was explore the Fortress day. It is 35 kms from Sydney and located on a point of land allowing complete control of the entrance to Louisbourg Harbour.

We arrived at the reception building at 11:00, paid our reasonable $15 entry fee and rode the bus to the actual Fortress. This is not the place for a history lesson but in brief, about 20 of the original structures have been rebuilt as they were in 1754.

This was a federal government make work project to give Cape Breton coal miners new skills and new jobs. It took nearly 20 years to do and includes barracks, residences, the King’s (of France) Bastion, warehouses, shops, in inn, eatery, bakery, the Engineer’s residence and much more.

They recreated construction techniques, period costumes for the interpreters and actors, and except for the subtle smoke detectors and sprinkler systems, looks just as it did some 270 years ago. Tax money well spent.

There are actors in every building to explain what we were looking at. Furnishings and accessories looked like museum the pieces they are. There were several activities during the day. Soldiers lead by fife and drums, musket and rifle firing and the most impressive, cannon firing. They use a 1.5 lb charge for the demonstration and it was very, very loud with lots of smoke and a distinctive smell and I felt the concussive force even when standing 50 metres to the rear and side of the muzzle. I can only imagine the sound and effect of a full 9 lb charge used to hurl cannonballs at the English.

On the way back home we toured the town of Louisbourg and drove out to see the site of the first lighthouse in Canada on the shore of the cape on the other side of the harbour. We got home about 5:30 tired out from the day.

After dinner, Camper and I went for a walk and were talking to a neighbour. He apologized for the state of their roads and claimed the route we travelled to get here had been repaved only a few years ago. I have my doubts that a properly prepared and paved road could degrade so quickly but that’s his story.


July 31, 2019 Albert Bridge, NS 6,254 kms from home

Happy 66th birthday to me. I heard from Mom, Todd, Ann, Mark, Kim, Mel, and more. That’s nice.

We got underway at the usual time and got to Arm of Gold Campground only to find they had no sites available because a caravan was coming. That’s the second time in 70 days we have been turned away. That’s a pretty good track record. I checked the tourism book and called the River Ryan Campground and they had room so away we went. It took about 20 minutes to get here and we got full hookups and an oceanfront site. Wow!

We went to a pizza joint with good reviews, but it was a dingy carryout only place, so I passed. We went to the casino but they don’t serve pizza and nothing else on the menu struck my fancy. After losing $20 in a slot I left Tess there and went to Boston Pizza. I figured I knew what to expect but I was wrong. I ate half of my disappointing pizza and brought the rest home. Maybe it will taste better tomorrow.

Camper and I visited the neighbours and met some new dogs. The family next door is local and the woman across the street is from California. She and her dog are travelling alone in her MB Sprinter based class B. Around 10pm Tess texted so I went to pick her up. No big wins this time but she had fun.



August 1, 2019 Albert Bridge, NS 6,254 kms from home

Since we are now at the end of our eastward journey and so more or less half way, I did some comparing to our last trip here in 2005.

Nights until turnaround: 2005 - 109     2019 - 71

Kms to turn around:  2005 - 9,000     2019 - 6,500

Avg kms per day:  2005 - 82     2019 - 91

Fuel cost to turn around:  2005 - $3,500     2019 - $2,800

Avg gas price/litre:  2005 - $1.00     2019 - $1.19

(Yes, a table would be better but my software won’t position it properly)

We have the next week or so planned out and today was a shopping and relaxing day. After stocking up on supplies and exploring the Sydney area, we returned home to rest and read. Our timing was good as it started to rain near dinnertime and we were safe and dry inside.


August 2, 2019 Albert Bridge, NS 6,254 kms from home

We woke up to another warm and sunny Cape Breton day. Our well travelled neighbour (everywhere north of the Panama Canal!) was flying a drone so I went out to talk to him. The drone was sending signals to the hand set which was connected to his tablet. Very steady HD picture, 4 mile range, auto return and landing, and a 20 minute battery life. He said he bought it at Staples, of all places, and it was just over $1,000. Cool toy.

At 10am we hit the road to the Cabot Trail. We drove it counter-clockwise this time to get a different perspective. This puts the ocean on Tess’ side of the car. There was some road construction but no serious delays. The road is generally in far better shape than other secondary highways in Nova Scotia. Unlike our first trip, Parks Canada now charges an entry fee. Perhaps this money is why the highway is in good condition.

The park itself it huge. There are lots of facilities like trails, picnic areas, viewpoints, beaches with paved parking lots, and even a golf course. It is patrolled regularly and of course, the scenery is amazing. No moose sighting but we did see a young bear foraging across the road while we were gawking at a viewpoint.

We stopped at a couple of touristy places and bought a souvenir, and at a couple of seafood places and bought scallops and crab. You know, because the 100 lbs we already have in the freezer isn’t enough.

We got home about 6pm so it was a long travel day for us. We ate dinner and the neighbours invited us over for a waterfront fire at a vacant campsite. We joined them plus a friend of theirs with his daughter and had a good time. The night was warm and the stars were out. The International Space Station made a pass over our heads and we all waved hello to the astronauts. We headed in for a snack then bed around 10pm.