Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Wonderful Whales

Woke up to a gorgeous morning - sun rising on the water outside our window, boats bobbing in the distance, all round stunning.

Then Mum and I were heading to breakfast and I hear “Lauren Cude” - uh what?!?!   Lol it was Debbie, my ‘barn mom’ from Pony Club days who used to invite me to join her family for holidays (Thanksgiving etc) and who had the most personable horse I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.   I missed connecting with her in Fredericton, but here she was!  She’s here moving her daughter (former student of mine) to school.  Amazingly small world and what a great start to the morning.

After a breakfast it was off to whale watching.  We were warned it would be significantly colder out on the water so I was wearing three layers and carrying a fourth.  It seemed excessive.  It was not lol.

There were multiple whale watching options but I really believe we got the best one.  Went out on a catamaran, so didn’t waste a ton of time getting there.  But then it was a big boat we could move around and only about 20 people on the tour (half of what they max at - so there was space for everybody to see no matter where the whale was).  The boat had two levels and there was a biologist on each floor helping spot and giving info between sightings.  The captain also had a speaker so would announce critters as they were seen.

We ended up in an area where we saw four or five different humpback whales - several times.  The only reason I know how many there were is because the biologist could tell them apart (and had named them ;).  Part of her job is tracking which whales are where so I guess telling them apart is critical.  Her version of the ten bay TBs in the paddock.  I learned the tail markings are all individual so that was cool.

Anyways - it was incredible!  Some were amazingly close, others obviously farther out.  Also saw puffins and seals.  Got some great photos that I’m looking forward to seeing in big :).  The experts were both knowledgeable and personable and despite the fact that it’s nearly the end of the season, still engaged and enthusiastic. So that was excellent.  

On the ride home we were treated to hot chocolate (did I mention it was *cold*) and chocolate chip cookies.  Win :).  One of the hosts also did a mini lecture about little ocean critters (star fish, crabs, etc) which was not a bad way to pass the time driving back.

Once back on land we ditched a few layers of clothing in the car and then wandered around the very pretty St Andrews for a while before leaving the whales behind for Saint Stephens where we’re spending our last night.

On the way there, we took a mini detour to visit the historical site of St Croix island - where the first European settlers tried to colonize and failed horribly.  And while interesting reading about what they did, I struggled to get past “why tf did you choose a tiny island to settle on right before winter when there’s a ton of land on either side?!?!”  Lol poor life choice clearly.   Was interesting though that it’s an International Heritage Centre - so dedicated by both Canada and the US.

In complete randomness, everything out here is blueberry - blueberry muffins, timbits, pie, tea, beer?!?!, wine,...  the list seems impressively endless.  And while I do enjoy blueberries, esp in pancake form, this does seem to be far more of a Thing here than I’ve ever seen.  Did not feel the need to try a blueberry bath bomb.

Anyways - a quiet evening and tomorrow we head home just ahead of the incoming hurricane.  Got insanely lucky with the weather this trip!  Was supposed to be meh all week but other than damp for our driving day and foggy for the trail it was pretty much perfect.  Today’s weather was amazing - blue skies and sunshine.

Sad it’s almost over but thrilled with what a great trip it’s been!

Foggy Fundy

So today’s adventure was the Fundy Trail.  We had the Park pretty much to ourselves, which was absolutely lovely.  

Unfortunately I’m sure that was at least partially due to the insane fog.  Lol we skipped all viewpoints but did go for a hike to the captain’s graveyard where the fog actually lent ambiance to the experience.

Continuing our drive, we managed to drop below the fog for a bit and went for a walk over a suspension bridge.  There were stairs to a lookout - but we already knew by that point all we’d see is cloud, so we skipped the trek.  The tidal river below was mostly out and the rock bed was a great mix of pale pink, blue, and yellow rocks.  Nature’s gender reveal party!

We continued our adventure climbing above the clouds to where we found sun.  This lead to some really amazing photos - it was a really stunning and unique vantage point.

Here it was sunny and 10 deg warmer so we went for a hike which was gorgeous.  And again - no people anywhere.

Alas, on our trip back down we again crossed through the clouds to find ourselves back in heavy fog.  Slightly disappointing, but was so gorgeous up above that it almost didn’t matter.  Spent some time playing with my camera at a waterfall - making the water freeze or blur and playing around with depth of focus.  We had some time since the vast majority of what we’d planned to see couldn’t be seen.  Even with that though we managed to spend a good five hours there.  Can imagine how long it’d take if the weather was good.  Or if you were waiting for other people.  Or if you chose to do any of the dozen other hikes we skipped ;)

We’re now in St Andrews for the night.  Super cute town and I can’t wait to poke around all the little stores after whale watching tomorrow.   No pics tonight as still very foggy and it’s supposed to be perfect tomorrow.   Also our inn is about a block from the downtown strip such as it is - so we walked in for dinner.  Very cool.  And on the water - we have amazing views from our balcony.  Win!

Lots of driving with a couple mini adventures

So this morning we finished off the Cabot Trail — even in the drizzly rain, it was stunning.  There was a great myst that added to the ambiance of it.

Then we drove through a heavily Gaelic area of Cape Breton - complete with bilingual signs and the Gaelic College.   Really enjoyed poking around some of the touristy places there cause I’ve always been a fan of all things Celtic :)

Throughout yesterday and today was having flashbacks to the days of discmen (dating myself here) as the satellite radio kept skipping, or at times giving up entirely.  Lol really off the grid with no cell and no satellite.  The only reason we got anywhere was car GPS.  Well, that and the fact that there’s really only one road ;).  It’s moderately challenging to get lost following a single trail.

On the way through Cape Breton we stopped for a short visit with my aunt who lives there - including yummy blueberry muffins.  Win!  Lol so that was a nice chat AND she had both her and her daughter’s dogs there so got in our pet fix.

Next up was Peggy’s Cove.  We got there at almost exactly 5:00 - when the entire town shuts down.  So there was no visiting of shops to be had.  I say the “entire” town, but for perspective sake, this is maybe 20-30 houses, of which probably 10 are tourist shops.  It is *tiny*.  Really tiny.

Plus side, the rain stopped and the sun came out just as we got there.  Also since after 5 on a mostly rainy day after tourist season, there weren’t a ton of people there.  Definitely a good number, but if you were patient you could easily get a tourist-free shot of the lighthouse (or anything else).  

I wished I’d had more of my lenses with me.  I had picked my most versatile (and my phone of course) and worked with that.  But with even one more, I could’ve spent hours taking pics around the town and enjoyed every minute of it.  The colours, lighting, and play off the water is just stunning.  Not to mention the giant boulders that are fascinating all on their own.   But we left before the sun set so that I could take a few pics from a lookout we’d past earlier so I was super pleased to get that in.  Esp as the light came on in said lighthouse at that time - I took *many* photos in an effort to capture it (light was rotating) - won’t know till I get home if I was successful.  Fingers crossed!

After that just the drive back to Moncton for the night.  It certainly seems in the maritimes all roads lead to Moncton *sigh*.  About 9h driving all in today - it’s amazing how tired you can get sitting still.   Had fun making a road trip playlist out of Mum’s phone songs lol - mostly from the 60s.  My main criteria were fast, upbeat, something that didn’t annoy me, and the sillier the better.  Got us through a couple hours anyways ;)

Anyways - definitely ready to sleep now.  Night!

The Cabot Trail

Today was good but very long.  An early start to catch the ferry (lol my autocorrect is determined to spell it fairy - I actually love that my world is more fantasy than reality).  On boarding process was quick and painless as was disembarking afterwards - they really have it down to a science.

The trip itself was uneventful.  It was quite chilly w a pretty intense wind that did an amazing job of tying my hair into a giant knot, so we spent most of it inside sitting by the window. Did go up on the top deck at the start and end though and got some great photos.   Also a random plane was flying around quite low and went right overhead, so got some good pics of that too.

Stopped at Tim Hortons to fuel up for the rest of the day - apparently it’s the first Tims after the ferry.  The washroom lineup was significantly longer than the food lineup lol.

Then was off to Cape Breton and the Cabot Trail.  Drove about the first half of the trail today, parts of which are absolutely stunning.  Also hiked the Skyline Trail which due to some faulty map reading we ended up hiking significantly farther than we’d intended lol.  Ah well - tomorrow’s a car day so good to get extra steps in today.  The first half was honestly kinda meh.  Good footing but just bush, no signage, no views, just meh...  but the second half was fairly stunning.  Which at the end we discovered we’d gone the wrong way around.  And it also looks like they’re adding signage etc cause after a certain point there was all the usual stuff you’d expect to be able to read about (and answered some of the questions I’d had earlier).  Sadly, but not unexpectedly, didn’t get to see any moose :(

We’re staying tonight at a super cute B&B - The Island Inn.  Exactly what you might think of if you imagined a maritime B&B, up to and including pretty bright yellow house, cat greeting us on the front porch (although he’s not allowed in guest rooms in case of allergies), and a second floor wrap around balcony.  We had dinner at a similarly epitomic restaurant- mostly seafood although the burger I had was also amazing.  Lots of people even though a tiny town on a random Monday.  And just cozy home style wonderful yumminess, complete w apple pie and ice cream for dessert.  Win.

Looking forward to a sounder sleep tonight!  Tomorrow is mostly transit but hoping to at least poke around in some touristy areas.  

Island Adventures

Amazing, and incredibly long, day today.   Combine that with the fact that I haven’t really slept in days so am somewhat incoherent and definitely incapable of writing concise prose, and imagine how long this blog post might be as a result.  Consider yourself forewarned.

So we started off in the historic part of Charlottetown, which I absolutely loved.  Couldn’t get past the colours of the houses (most of which have plaques with who lived there way back when...) - just stunning, esp with the sun hitting it just right.  Got some amazing photos that someday will get shared.  Today is not that day.  

So we started the day with a scavenger hunt. This was SO much fun.  It gave us a picture of what we were looking for, some info, and the general direction.  Then when we found it, would ask some questions about it that could be answered by looking at the object in question (eg no trivia knowledge required), give us some more info, then send us on the way to the next one.  Occasionally with random challenges like “take a photo of X”. 

So one of my favourite examples - find hotel X, with pic of building.  Okay great.  Once there it asked about the two troublemakers sitting - and sure enough a fun statue.  First was what was interesting about their names; well the informational plaque said they had the same name.  Okay.   So then it said, there’s a party - what time is it and who’s not invited.   Lol so the plaque said who wasn’t invited, but no sign of what time the party started. Mum found that part carved on a slip of paper one of the characters was holding (as part of the statue).   Very creative.

A friend from uni lives not far from Charlottetown so he, his wife, and their very smiley little person were going to meet us for coffee.  Well our scavenger hunt took us right past the coffee shop we were going to meet at about 10 mins before we were going to meet.  Fairly ideal really.   Had a really nice coffee break and catch up chat at Receiver Coffee and then continued on the quest.  There was one building closed for renos but somehow we managed to get the right answer with a “best guess”.  And at least once I asked a random stranger to point us in the right direction.   But all in, tons of fun and just about the right length (it tells you what percentage complete after each one).  Lol in the end we finished with about 15000 points and a new high score!   Now to be fair, I’m not sure how many people have done this one but hey - still good :)

Afterwards we wandered around the touristy area for a while (I got my trip picture frame - those who know will be pleased to hear ;) and then was off to the land of the green gables.

This was a gorgeous drive!  Some really stunning homes and farms.  At one point I commented “Wow that’s gorgeous.  It kinda reminds me of what the views were like in Scotland.” Then not 10 seconds later we drove by a sign for New Glasgow.  Lol guess I wasn’t the only one who thought that!

Anne of Green Gables House itself was as you’d expect - little early 1900s farm house with ALL the floral prints (walls, ceiling, everything) lol. But what they’ve also done is created some really nice walking trails through the areas described in the books so those were great to hike along.   There was of course also the obligatory gift shop, which we browsed but didn’t feel the need to bring anything home with us.   Also lots of photos/historical details/etc to help tell the story - along the trails, in the barn, and in an information centre they’ve built between the parking area and the house.  So all kinds of info if you wanted it :).  We skipped the info centre as it was busy but read most of the rest...

We followed this with a trip to the nearby Cavendish Beach.  This was...  disappointing.   A nice enough beach for sure, but not really the famed “red sand”.  The dunes were stunning and I was overly fascinated w them lol.  There was a moderately interesting looking hike, but it didn’t seem to overlook the beach and we didn’t have time (or tbh inclination) to do the whole thing so we skipped it.  Also everything surrounding the beach was unbelievably touristy and *packed*!  I honestly didn’t think there were that many people on the whole island, not to mention all in one place.

However, since we shorted that, we had some extra daylight left, so we took one of the suggestions from coffee friends and took the scenic route home (which again was stunning) and through Victoria.  This was the most random experience.  A tiny little town with very little in it - pretty but really nothing there, that had a ton of people for no apparent reason.  Lol we poked around some shops, went for a bit of a walk, and had some ice cream.  I also had fun playing with my camera for a bit.  All good.

Eventually drove ourselves back to the city part of Charlottetown (historic part is cool old buildings, waterfront, no chain stores, etc - we even saw a market there today; the rest is a very typical modern city with everything you’d expect) - had a nice dinner and now just sorting out tomorrow’s adventure.

I really loved it here.  Also - extremely jealous of real estate prices.  But pretty sure they don’t get amazon prime ;).  Lol and if the do don’t disabuse me of that notion as it’s keeping me balanced right now.

Seriously though - was an absolutely amazing day.  Still smiling :)