Summer Travel Map

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A busy week is behind us

August 29, 2007
Broad Brook, CT

Sorry for the gap in posting! We spent most of last week in northern New England, and web access was very spotty. Here’s a summary:

August 20-21: Riding the rails in the White Mountains
Monday, the 20th, was a travel day. We left Bangor, ME and drove a short distance on I-95 before switching to US-302 for the cross-country drive to northern New Hampshire. It was a nice day and we were able to get to our stop in Twin Mountain, NH, on schedule. Since we were only there for two nights, we didn’t deploy much and decided to do a little sightseeing before dinner. I’d wanted to go up Mount Washington for a while; I don’t know why, I just did. Since we were only a few miles away, we decided to go to the top on the Cog Railway. This is an old narrow-gauge railway that was originally built in the logging era, and it uses coal-fired steam locomotives to climb straight up the side of the mountain. There is a narrow track between the rails and the engines use a large gear (cog) to slowly grind their way up the 30+ degree slopes. And I mean s-l-o-w; it took an hour to climb the 4,000 feet. The ride was pretty rough as well, making your bum numb. We stopped at the top for ½ hour or so, and then made the descent. The views were nice, and I’m glad we put a check mark next to it.

On Tuesday, we drove south into North Conway and took a ride on the Conway Scenic Railway. This was a more traditional train environment (they use a mixture of steam and diesel locomotives), and we took the longer 5-hour ride from North Conway up through Crawford Notch and back. It was a nice ride along the Saco River, and we had lunch on the train.

Here are some photos from these two train rides:

August 22-23: Touring the Green Mountains
Wednesday was another travel day, although shorter than usual. We got an early start and made our way west along US-302, crossing the Connecticut River into Vermont. We stopped in Wells River for fuel and then went south on I-91 to White River Junction. After another partial deployment, we took a short ride, stopping at Quechee Gorge (nice, but not roaring like it would be in the spring), the Taftville General Store (quaint but not overly well stocked), and the 7 Barrels Brew Pub for a snack and a pint. We started with a flight of the eight beers they were pouring (I know, 8 brews from the 7 Barrel Pub doesn’t add up), and selected the two pints based on what we liked, which is a good way to do it. Geri chose the Irish-style dark ale and I had the traditional IPA, and we bought a gallon of the Irish ale to go.

On Thursday, we took a ride west along US-4, which cuts across the center of Vermont. We stopped at the Woodstock Farmer’s Market (more of a combination grocery store and deli than a real farmer’s market, but good nonetheless) for some supplies and lunch. Geri said she had the best Rueben she’s eaten in a while, and I had a good grilled chicken sandwich. We continued on US-4 over to the western edge of the state, to an area where my family spent summers (and weekends year-round for a while) in the late-60s/early-70s. It was interesting to see how some things had changed (our old place was replaced with a relatively new home) and others hadn’t (many of the homes and some of the businesses along the lake were recognizable). Of course, everything seemed to be smaller and closer together than I’d remembered it, but that’s natural. The Post Office where we had to go for General Delivery mail is still there, and the “summer church” we used to go to (it was only open in the summer, with the priest driving in from Rutland or Fair Haven, the nearest towns) is for sale (someone could do an interesting renovation). We returned via US-4, past the Killington and Pico Peak ski areas where the summer “alpine slide” season is winding up. We could see the first hints of fall color starting to appear. Usually, early color is a sign of disease, damage or infestation in individual trees, but this year’s weather could be setting things up for an early Fall.

Here are some pictures from Vermont:

August 24-28: Back in Connecticut for a short stay
On Friday, the 24th, we drove the quick shot down I-91 through Massachusetts to Connecticut. On Saturday, we toured a few wineries in eastern Connecticut with Pat and Al, and Mike and Lynn Bower. It was the Bower’s anniversary, so we stopped for a nice dinner at a seafood restaurant in Mystic before heading home. The wines ranged from “acceptable” to “awful”, with the better ones made from fruit imported from California (why bother?). On the other hand, some were unique at least; I can honestly say that I’ve never heard myself saying that a wine had a hint of cooked bacon flavor before! Monday was a quiet day, and the evening was spent with Al giving me and his uncle Charlie a lesson in cribbage.

We’ve spent the last couple of days catching up on laundry and some coach maintenance. I power-washed the roof yesterday and cleaned the accumulated gunk off the outside of the radiator and other cooling systems. I’ll apply Mop ‘N Glow to the roof today (it helps keep black streaks from forming on the sides) but don’t think I’ll get around to washing the exterior. Tomorrow, I need to pick up a new axle hub cover to replace one that has a small leak; hopefully, we’ll be able to install that tomorrow afternoon. Tomorrow is also Alicia’s “packing day”, as she’s off to college on Friday.

We’ll be heading out first thing Friday as well, heading for Alabama with an overnight stop in southern Virginia along I-81, probably at one of the truck stops we’ve been at before.


Monday, August 20, 2007

Smooth sailing (no boat required)

August 19, 2007
Bangor, ME

Friday went pretty much according to plan. We had lunch at the Dayboat Restaurant in Rustico. Geri had a very rich Lobster Pasta and I had the equally fine Lobster Quesadilla, with a nice bottle of Muscadet from the Loire Valley in France and a plate of three local oysters – Coleman, Raspberry Point and Malpeque – for starters. We liked the Coleman and Raspberry Point oysters the best because we prefer smaller, more subtle flavors to the big-honkin’-briny Malpeques. We’d understood the generalization that all east coast oysters are large, so it was a pleasant surprise to find out it’s not true.

In the afternoon, we completed most of the interior departure preparations, and then had an early dinner with Brad and Jan at a local buffet. After 2-3 plates each, we were stuffed! When we got home, I finished up the majority of the outside preparation, even hooking up the Range Rover since we were in a long pull-thru site.

Yesterday started with light rain, which woke me up around 6 AM. By the time we got up at 7 AM (planning for an 8 AM departure), the rain had stopped but the skies were still filled with low, fast-moving grey clouds blowing in from the northwest. We hit the road right on time, heading for the Confederation Bridge, which would take us to New Brunswick. Along the way, we saw the first gas stations with regular unleaded under C$1/liter. Diesel was still just over C$1/liter.

Along the way, I realized I’d missed the opportunity to stop for a picture of the interesting (well, to me anyway – but I’m easily intrigued) traffic lights on PEI. Most of the intersections with lights have them mounted horizontally (relatively rare in the US) and each signal indication is a different shape. Green lights are round, like we’re used to. Yellow caution lights are triangular, and red stop lights (there are usually two of these) are square. What an interesting design; coding for the colorblind? Like the other Maritime Provinces, turn lane signals have flashing green arrows, which I came to like once I got used to them. The only other place we’ve seen flashing green lights is in parts of Massachusetts, generally at the few remaining rotaries.

I’d allowed some time in the travel plan for a wait at the toll (you only pay to get off PEI, whether by bridge or ferry), but there was no line and the transaction was very efficient. The lady in the booth was handing me back my card and receipt for C$61.00 within seconds of my giving it to her.

The bridge crossing was uneventful, since the winds were calm and the rain, which looked like it would start at any time, held off. In bad weather, I can imagine that it’s more of a white-knuckle ride for a vehicle like ours. The bridge itself stretches for 9 miles and is built on some 250 concrete piers. The “causeway” part is higher off the water than most bridges of its type (e.g., Chesapeake Bay Bridge, Sunshine Bridge in Tampa) at 100 meters up. There’s a higher “bump” of about 150 meters near the New Brunswick side for larger ship traffic. No matter what, Geri doesn’t like bridges, so she was glad when we were on the other side.

Once we were in New Brunswick, the directions were simple: TC-16 south to TC-2, then TC-2 for over 200 kilometers to the exit for the US border at Houlton, ME. We made a quick bio-break near Moncton (New Brunswick should really invest in a few designated “rest area” spots), and made excellent time getting to the border.

We were a little disappointed that we didn't see more wildlife on the trip. We saw two bald eagles but only while we were driving, so there weren't any photo opps. And, we only saw one moose. It was a fresh kill stuffed in the back of a pickup with the antlers hanging out one side and the hooves out the other as we passed through Port Hawkesbury.

We only had about 4 cars in front of us at the border crossing, so we were well ahead of schedule (I’d allocated an hour, knowing we didn’t have an alternative and not knowing how long the wait would be). The crossing was pretty straightforward. The staff was friendlier than we many we’ve encountered. I had everything organized, with passports and receipts for customs declaration readily available (we were way under the limit and they didn’t ask to see the receipts or the goods), which was better than trying to say we were in Canada for 28 days and returning with nothing to declare. We did have to pull to the side for an agricultural inspection, which focused on the refrigerator and the dog’s food. We only had a few cherries for fruit, but the bag was clearly labeled “Product of USA” so that was no problem. She found a package of sopressatta (Italian salami), but that was clearly identified as from DiBruno Bros. in Philadelphia (sounds like we gotta eat that soon!) as well. The dog food was more of a problem, since she wasn’t familiar with the Coco’s Canine Cuisine packages of rice and barley, and we’d tossed the bag for the kibble. I explained how the Coco’s worked and said that the kibble (there was only a little left) came with us because we didn’t want to change their diet during the trip. The explanations were OK, but the warning was that we should really have the product labels available for inspection. We’ll keep this in mind for the next time!

The border crossing is at the extreme northern terminus of I-95, and I’d done my research to know that there was a truck stop at the first exit where we could fuel up. This is no surprise, given the lower fuel costs in the US. I’d calculated that we’d be able to make it to the border without fueling, and we did fine, arriving with just under ¼ of a tank remaining (we hadn’t put fuel in the coach since we left Halifax). Of course, since I was able to put 133+ gallons into a nominally 150 gallon tank, the gauge is a little suspect! We took advantage of the shift from the Atlantic to Eastern Time Zone (gaining an hour) to have lunch. Unfortunately, as we sat at the lunch counter having our burgers and fries, we were sitting right in front of the rotating dessert cooler with about 20 different kinds of pie. By the time we were stuffed from lunch, we still needed to have pie to go to have with dinner!

From Houlton, the drive to Bangor was a quick two-hour shot down I-95. The tail-wind that we’d had across much of New Brunswick turned to a cross-wind and picked up in intensity, but at least we’d left the clouds generally behind. We found the park I’d selected with no problems. It’s a small, older park that doesn’t have a lot of facilities, but the new owners have plans to upgrade gravel pull-thrus over time. Since we were just looking for a place to stop and re-supply, the $20/night Good Sam rate was just fine with us. We had our pick of 30 amp back-in sites and found one (there are only 26 sites in the park) that was easy to back into and should be easy to get out of. I was a little worried about the wet ground because of recent rain, but we seem to be on solid footing. The park is full of trees, so satellite reception is out of the question, but there are a couple of local over-the-air channels in Bangor, so we can at least catch the news.

Today started out sunny but cool, with temperatures in the upper-50s. It’s still breezy, and cool but nice. We made our shopping list and mapped out a route to the stores we needed: Sam’s and Shaw’s to re-stock. We were able to get almost everything on the list and have what we need to be self-sufficient for the week. We’ll stock up again in CT for the trip south. We’re working hard at not over-buying when we’re staying in one place for a week or so, because it allows us to make the best use of fresh ingredients, but when we’re on the move like this week (we leave tomorrow for New Hampshire for 2 nights, then Vermont for 2 nights before getting to CT Friday afternoon), it’s best to plan ahead and have everything on hand for “one-dish meals”.

This afternoon, we relaxed a bit and we’ll have ½ a rotisserie chicken with a 2005 DuBoeuf Beaujolais-Villages, a wine we haven’t had in a while. Since we didn’t deploy a whole lot, we should be in good shape for tomorrow’s departure.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Getting back in the groove…

August 16, 2007
Cavendish, PEI

Yesterday, we realized that we’ve maxed out on doing the tourist shuffle for a bit. We’ve been trying to do a good job of pacing ourselves all summer, but the last couple of weeks have been over the top. Yesterday, we started out with a plan for lunch, a tour of Charlottetown (capitol of PEI) and maybe dinner at a local restaurant we’d heard about. We finished lunch and stopped at the local Canada Post to mail some postcards, and it started to rain a little bit. Realizing we’d left some windows open, we also realized that we’d rather head home and curl up with a book than do more tourist stuff! So, we did. We walked the pups before the rain started and had a glass of wine with a couple we’d met briefly at the last park we were at, Gary and Ann. They’re recently retired and have a 2006 Monaco Dynasty. We then had an easy dinner on the second half of a rotisserie chicken with a “Sweet Cheeks” Pinot Noir I’d picked up in Oregon in March. It was a good evening.

Today, we didn’t even pretend to have a plan. We checked the weather and decided that we’d just relax today. It cleared some this morning but was cloudy again by evening, and we got all the outside stuff (grill/stove, lights, and chairs) all packed up so we’re halfway ready to leave on Saturday.

During the day, Geri did some prep work for dinner by creating medallions from a pork tenderloin, then pounding and sautéing them. There was plenty, so we had some for lunch as sandwiches with roasted peppers, and saved the rest for dinner with pasta. While she was doing her kitchen magic, I did some planning for the next phase of our trip, getting us back to Connecticut, then on to Alabama around Labor Day before heading west to Oregon. I’ve got our route, stops, and fuel locations mapped out through Colorado, so that’s a good start. I’ll finish it up tomorrow and make any additional reservations needed. I’m hoping to stop in Colorado to get the electric water heater in the coach fixed while we’re passing through, but I’m having trouble getting them to answer the phone. Customer service is truly becoming a lost art these days.

We walked the pups a few times, and they got a chance to play with several of the dogs in the park which is a good thing for both exercise and socialization. We sat outside chatting with Brad and Jan from the coach next to ours until it got to be a) too cool and b) time for dinner. We were trying to plan ahead to cook enough dinner to have leftovers for Saturday (it’s a travel day, and we won’t feel like cooking when we get in after 5 PM). I think we’re in pretty good shape on that (I resisted the temptation to eat all the pasta – which is hard for me!), and we’ve pretty much used up all the wine. We’ve cleared all the meat from the freezer, so we’re in pretty good shape for the border crossing. We’ll make sure that everything’s buttoned down tomorrow, and we’ll have dinner with Brad and Jan at a local restaurant, so there won’t be much to finish up tomorrow night. We’re getting back in a groove…

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Hay and Spuds

August 14, 2007
Cavendish, PEI

Today we didn’t have much of a plan, but we started out heading toward the western part of the island. We were a little grumpy because we neglected the most important meal of the day (breakfast), but we managed to avoid any big problems from hunger. Since it was pretty cloudy and looked like it could rain at any moment, I left the camera equipment home and we just took Geri’s small Canon. Of course, within an hour or so, the clouds broke and things cleared up quickly.

All through the drive, we saw alternating fields of potatoes and hay, with maybe some wheat mixed in. Strangely, we were ready to understand this better. Luckily, our first stop was the PEI Potato Museum. Now, we’re not exactly museum people, but this one was interesting, even if the exhibits were all circa 1991-1992. We learned about the origins of the spud in South America and the migration through Europe to North America, the impact of the potato famine in Ireland on the migration of people and crops, the significance of crop rotation to potato health (they're very susceptible to disease) and the role of PEI and the Maritimes to today’s potato cultivation. They even have a special island off the coast where they cultivate new seed potatoes in an isolation environment. It’s like “Area 51” for potatoes. Call Agent Mulder!

After the museum, we continued north along the western “arm” of the island, ending up in North Cape, the tip. There’s a wind farm there, with 20-30 windmills generating electricity. It’s nothing like the farms outside Palm Springs or Mojave in California, but impressive for how close you can get. The day turned clear and the site was quite nice, but I was struck by how little wind it was taking to turn those huge turbines. I walked around the North Cape Lighthouse, and got some pictures from the extreme tip of the island. From there, you can see the mainland coast of New Brunswick, less than 10 miles away.

From North Cape, we took the “scenic route” back to Cavendish, making a quick stops to take another “Brooklyn” picture (this one more remote than Nova Scotia), another shot of the “Princess Pat Drive In” (Geri’s older daughter’s named Pat) and at “Jumpin’ Gelato” on the way home for desert. We got back home around 5:30, walked the dogs, and had dinner (pork tenderloin with foil-wrapped potatoes/onions) on the grill by 6:30. Dinner was excellent, and we had a beautiful Longoria (no relation) Fe Ciega Vineyard Pinot Noir to match. The pork was a little spicy for the wine, but both were great on their own. After dinner, we walked the pups, and found that the fog was rolling in quickly. By the time we got back to the coach, we could hardly see the rigs around us. We closed things up and had our gelato, and a nip of Macallan’s as a nightcap.

Here are a couple of pictures from today:

Monday, August 13, 2007

On to Prince Edward Island

August 13, 2007
Cavendish, Prince Edward Island

Saturday was our travel day and we did a great job of getting everything ready for departure on Friday afternoon. All we needed to do on Saturday was pull in the power cord and slides, walk the pups, and hook up the car. We were on the road right on schedule at 8 AM. I’d done some research on the ferry schedule and knew that there were 11:15 and 1:00 departures. We decided to leave a little earlier than our original 8:30 target to allow for any road construction delays (they work weekends during “road construction season”), since I was aiming to arrive around 11:30, to be early in the queue for the 1:00. As it turns out, we made better time than expected and arrived before the 11:15 boat had loaded. It didn’t matter, though, since we ended up being held back as the boat was full. So, we were exactly where we expected to be: first in queue for the 1:00.

This gave us a time window for lunch (pork tenderloin sandwich on homemade bread – yum) and some time to relax. I tried to get an Internet signal, and the system found the right bird but couldn’t keep the signal locked. I gave the pups a good walk so they’d be ready for the sail. Several horse trailers queued up behind us, and Maya Lynn didn’t like the horses looking out their stalls at all! She was barking and carrying on, so we had to move along pretty quickly. Cesar Millan wouldn’t approve.

There’s a distinct pecking order for loading and unloading, with walkers and bikers (motorized and not) first, followed by people with confirmed paid reservations. If you’re going both ways on the ferry, you can pay online (it would have been C$95 for us, I think) and get confirmed status. Otherwise, you just queue up and it’s first-come, first-served (like us). Next come all the folks who were previously denied boarding (like us) and then they balance the load with cars and larger vehicles. In addition to us, there were two semis with 40’ trailers, several travel trailers and fifth wheels, and about 5 trucks with livestock trailers. They got us in and then filled in the remainder with the in-queue cars. Here are a couple of shots from the ferry crossing:

The sailing across the Northumberland Strait took almost 1½ hours to go 14 miles; no speed records set here! In general, ferry rules suggest that people can’t stay in their vehicles and pets aren’t allowed on the main deck, so we left the pups for a while. There wasn’t much happening up on the passenger deck, with long lines at the concessions and people stacked 3-deep at the few slot machines tucked into the corners. We stood at the rail and saw a few porpoises playing off in the distance. Once the other ferry passed us heading back to Nova Scotia, we decided to go check on the pups. Once there, we decided to stay there for the rest of the trip. It was a little noisier on the main deck and we were surrounded by slightly aromatic horse trailers, but not too bad. I might have closed my eyes for a few minutes, but we were all ready when we left.

Remember everything positive I said about the road quality? Well, I stand corrected. New Brunswick and lower Nova Scotia: top notch. Cape Breton Island: slipping but several construction zones. PEI: “don’t worry, just throw the patch out there; people don’t drive too fast here anyway”. We went over some rough stretches that rivaled anything we’ve seen in the States. We just slowed down and let people pass us if they wanted to. Fortunately, it wasn’t too far from the ferry landing at Woods Island to our park in Cavendish.

We found our spot with no problems, and it’s a pretty large site, about 90’ long and a good 30’ wide. The park has over 200 sites, and we were fortunate enough to get one of the 10 or so 50 amp spots. I think we were fortunate anyway, as we had dirty power all afternoon and most of the rest of the weekend. Fortunately the inverter kept everything running OK, and it became more stable as the weekend crowd thinned out.

We hadn’t planned ahead for dinner, so we went to a local restaurant, Rachel’s. It was a nice place, although suffering from a shortage of help. We had to wait for a table even though there were quite a few empty and the service was friendly but on the slow side. They comped us the appetizer due to the delay, so I can’t say too much. The menu was all over the lot (wings and pizza, steaks, quesadillas, chicken parm, seafood) so it was hard to choose. My pepper steak was fine, but Geri’s chicken parm suffered from a bit of “I can make this better at home” syndrome. We had a basic Ruffino Chianti; nothing special but the best choice from the limited selection.

Yesterday and today were “down days”. We’ve been pushing the touristy stuff pretty hard over the last few weeks, so we needed a bit of a break. Yesterday was nice, so we deployed the lights and chairs outside, and did a little grocery shopping in the afternoon. It’s tough to balance the desire to be spontaneous with a need to make sure we don’t have stuff on board at the end of the week that shouldn’t cross the border. I think we’ll be OK.

For dinner, we picked up a pre-roasted chicken from Sobeys, and Geri made smashed red potatoes. We had a nice Spanish Tempranillo that I’d picked up in Halifax, which means we’ll never find that wine again. That’s too bad, since it was pretty good!

After dinner and before dark, we sat out with Brad and Jan, who we’d met earlier in our trip, at Harding’s Point in New Brunswick. We saw them again in Halifax, and they arrived here for a two-week stay mid-afternoon. We actually passed them on the road as we were headed to the store.

We had the TV on for background noise as well. Even though the Internet signal still won’t stay locked, the dish is pointed correctly for our DirecTV signal so we can at least get that. Over-the-air TV is limited to CBC; we can’t get CTV, which came in pretty well near Sydney. As the evening wore on, I called it a night, but Geri stayed up to see who won on Iron Chef America.

Today dawned cloudy and by mid-morning the clouds had thickened and the thunder was beginning to rumble. We had a few showers but nothing severe, and it’s been mainly dry but cool with a few sprinkles through the afternoon. I put a rack of ribs on the grill mid-afternoon, so we’ll be enjoying them later on. Geri’s making a nice salad; we’re trying to have our salad a little earlier to avoid the “we’re so hungry we’ll just dive in and skip the salad” thing that happens sometimes.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Louisbourg Historical Site

August 10, 2007
North Sydney, NS

Well, I should have known that planning was an iffy exercise. We got off on schedule, but the C@P site was closed. These sites are convenient, but they’re not exactly the most reliable. It’s a good thing there was nothing critical we needed to do online!

We were aiming for Louisbourg today, and we had a nice short drive over there, about 40 miles away. The weather was beautiful, sunny with only a few clouds and temperatures around 23C/73F. Other than the fact that I forgot a hat and/or sunscreen and got too much sun, we had a pretty good time touring the historic site. There were several reenactments of “everyday life” circa 1744 held while we were there, ranging from banishing a thief to firing a cannon. They do a pretty good job of staying in character, and there are a variety of gardens and animal pens occupied.

The Louisbourg site is interesting from a historical perspective – on two different levels.

Originally settled by the French in 1713, it went back and forth between them and the British (including pre-revolution New Englanders) until the Brits leveled the place in 1760 and the area was ceded to France in 1763.

The site was essentially left until 1961, when the Canadian Government embarked on a reconstruction project. The back-story on the project is that it helped to bolster employment after the area suffered a significant economic setback as the mining industry waned. So far, they’ve restored only 20% of the original site and, like many other historical areas, new things are being uncovered by archeology teams each summer. This year, they were excavating a storage area, and found a mass grave of 43 soldiers who died of disease circa 1743 when there was a huge epidemic. The remains are being moved to a safer location for final interment, since the area being excavated is subject to erosion during winter storms. Fascinating…

Here are a few photos from today’s outing:

Rain, wind, and a short trip

August 9, 2007
North Sydney, NS

As expected, the weather overnight was pretty wet. Today, it was wet and windy in the morning. The rain turned to showers, and I was able to make a quick run to the park office to dump garbage and recycling, and to fill one of the propane tanks used for the outdoor grill.

We decided to take a quick trip to the Alexander Graham Bell center, down in Baddeck. Before we did, though, we decided to take a short detour down the unpaved road that the park is on. We’re glad we did, since we saw a nice little waterfall (running well because of the overnight rains) and two foxes hunting along the side of the road. Geri did the photo honors on the cascade, but neither of us was fast enough to catch the foxes. We did see an interesting driveway marker along the dirt road down a couple of kilometers from the park, and Geri got a photo of that as well.

The Bell place was an interesting site, focused much more on the things he did here than his earlier work with the deaf and the invention of the telephone. In the early years of the 20th century, he lived and worked in Baddeck, and experimented with flying machines (planes and kites) and hydrofoils. Neither was particularly successful on a commercial level, but created some interesting ideas and certainly left a lot of artifacts behind. These included a wooden-hulled, propeller-driven hydrofoil prototype that actually set a speed record of 114 KPH (~71 MPH) at the time. The operation is run by Parks Canada, and pretty well done. They have a large number of activities for kids, so there were a lot of families there.

Here are a couple of pictures from today:

After a short side trip to Englishtown Harbour (not much there but a few working boats and a C$5 ferry that goes less than 100 metres), we headed home before the next wave of rain (we could see it in the distance, across the channel) moved in.

Tonight’s dinner will be rack of lamb, and Geri made a request for mushroom risotto with peas. We picked up the lamb at Costco in Moncton, NB, on the way to Nova Scotia, and I could tell as soon as I opened the package that it was much more like mutton than we’re used to. I trimmed and frenched the rack as usual, and it was OK but still more “gamey” than we might have liked. I suspect that it’s a timing thing, since it’s just not “spring lamb” time anywhere in the world.

We had a wonderful LaFond Pinot Noir from the Santa Rita Hills area in Santa Barbara County, California. We’ve really begun seeking these wines out lately, as the whole area is making some terrific wines over the last few years.

Geri also make her “famous” fried zucchini slices, since she’d bought a couple of them a few days ago and we had to use them up. Fortunately, our next door neighbors were out by their fire ring waiting for the weather to clear (it is), so she was able to bring some “to share”. This always works out well, as people get a treat and we get to use up the food in one batch. They’re from Baton Rouge, LA, and they’d never had the fried squash slices before. In fact, they’d never heard of the Cholula’s hot sauce that she serves them with!

We spent a little time talking with them after dinner until it got dark and cool out. They have a good little West Highland White Terrier (Westie) that was playing with Maya Lynn and even Merlin got in on the fun. We were able to let them off-leash, because there weren’t any other people around. It was good to see them all get some exercise.

Tomorrow (yeah, I know – don’t make too many plans), we’re not planning a full day because there’s pre-departure work to do, but I think we can squeeze a trip to the Louisbourg historical site in late-morning. I’m hoping we can stop by the local C@P site for a quick Internet session on the way, so this post will actually see the light of day!

A day (or more) late, but not a dollar short

August 8, 2007
North Sydney, NS

First off, I was able to format some pictures, so here are a couple of links.



The neat thing about plans is that they’re just always something you can change. Well, yesterday was just such a day. When we planned the day, everything was looking good for a Cabot Trail tour. Unfortunately, I woke up from a dead sleep right around 6 AM to the sound of rain. Thinking it had just started, I quickly headed outside to stow the lawn chairs (nothing worse than a wet you-know-what) that I’d neglected to put away the night before (because it was so nice out, of course). Well, there was already a ½” puddle in the chairs, so it had been raining for a while. I did a quick assessment and made an executive decision: off with the alarm and back to bed.

As the morning went on, the rain turned to showers and the dry spells got longer, so we decided to do a shorter drive, to the little town of Baddeck and then around part of the Bras d’Or Lake (the full lake tour is an all-day affair, so we took a shortened route). The lake is nice, but we’re glad we took the shorter path. We stopped in Baddeck for some pictures, but the weather wasn’t exactly cooperating. As we toured around the other side of the St. Patrick’s Channel, we happened to see what’s called a “C@P” site, which is a public Internet site where the community “rents out” bandwidth for a couple of loonies (C$1) an hour. Since we had the foresight to pack the laptops in the car, we dropped 4 bucks on an hour each of access to check email, update the blog and catch up on finances. It was a reasonably good deal, since we were just driving by and saw the sign.

After we completed the lake loop, we were back in North Sydney, so we “dined” at a local fast-food place called “Lick-a-Chick”. Other than the interesting name, there wasn’t anything else worth going there: the wait was too long and the food too unremarkable.

Back at home, we plowed through a backlog of email, and I formatted some pictures for posting, then we called it an early night.

Today was a whole different story. I could tell from the light as I woke up that it was brighter than I’d expected. Much to my surprise, it was pretty sunny outside. It probably shouldn’t have been a surprise, since changes in the weather are routine here. We were on the road by 7:30 AM (could be a new record for us!) and headed for the Cabot Trail. We stopped at Tim Horton’s for a breakfast sandwich, and started out on the Trail in a clockwise direction. From what we read, this is the “traditional” route, since you’re driving on the “inside” as opposed to along the cliffs. From Geri’s point-of-view, this was a good thing.

We made the whole loop in just about 9 hours, which is pretty good time. We made quite a few stops for photos and did three “side trips” off the trail, to “Meat Cove” (another superlative – the “northernmost town”) to Dingwall (a nice little harbour but not much else) and to White Point (a pretty drive along the coast, with several photo-ops).

We stopped for lunch at the Cabot Landing site (well, the estimated landing site, since they really don’t know for sure). It was a nice picnic site, shielded by trees from the strong wind that kicked up. What was interesting to learn is that Cabot’s real name was Giovanni Caboto, from Venice. Who knew?

We got back home just after 5 PM, which made for a good day trip. We managed to get the local TV stations using the antenna (how quaint!), but the pickings are pretty slim. There are 4 channels, one en Français. We did finally get the news on CTV, so we know that the weather will turn bad overnight and it’ll probably rain most of the day tomorrow. The good news is that Friday through Sunday is supposed to be nice. This is good, since Friday is “packing up” day and Saturday is a travel day. We also realized that local shows like “Corner Gas” are an acquired taste, which you can only acquire if you have a very dry sense of humor.

Tomorrow, we may visit the Alexander Graham Bell historical site (or we may just hang out at home). Friday morning, we may visit the Louisbourg historical site before we get things ready for Saturday’s departure. We’ll have to leave relatively early on Saturday, because I want to catch the 1 PM ferry to PEI and we need to get there by 11:30-ish to queue up. We’ll need to leave here by 8 AM, 8:30 at the latest, so we’ll want to be all packed up and dumped by Friday evening.

Here is a link to some of today’s photos:

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Quieter Days

August 6, 2007
North Sydney, NS

First, let me apologize for the spotty posts for at least the rest of the week. We’re in a spot that gets no satellite signal (no Internet, no DirecTV), so we’re communication-challenged this week. We’ll compose offline and post when we can. I’m not sure if it’ll be any better on PEI next week, as we’ll be further north. The satellites associated with US services are just very low in the sky the further north you go, so the least little barrier (like trees, hills, etc.) causes an outage. It tried to manually point the dish, and the signal’s there but too weak to lock in. Oh, well; well survive…

Yesterday, we stayed close to home and didn’t try to do too much. Overnight (Saturday night/Sunday morning), we had severe thunderstorms. The lightning started after dinner, and soon it was accompanied by rumbles of thunder. The rain started before we went to bed, and continued all night long. The storm cells came through in waves. It would let up for a while, and then the next cell would pass through. It seemed like each one was stronger than the last. This went on until after dawn, and the last of the rain passed through around 8 AM. It was breezy and cloudy for most of the morning, which helped us decide that it was an “in” day. It cleared up some in the afternoon and by evening it was quite nice, but it cleared too late in the day to effectively do anything on the road.

This was fine, as we used the time effectively anyway. Geri did three loads of laundry in the coach and one big load at the campground’s machines. I made another loaf of bread in the new machine, and we did a little planning for what we want to see while we’re here. We defrosted some sauce from the freezer and had a nice pasta dinner with an unremarkable but pleasing Tuscan Sangiovese that I’d picked up in Halifax (Bedford).

Today was pretty nice, but we hadn’t gotten ourselves organized, so we did a short 3-hour excursion. We started off in downtown North Sydney, which is where the ferry to Newfoundland docks. We passed by as the ferry was pulling in, and we saw the large queue of vehicles standing by waiting to board. There were about 10 RVs, 10 tractor-trailers, and probably close to 40 cars waiting. These ferries are supposed to be the largest vehicle-carrying ships in North America (another superlative; there are many here). We’d toyed with the idea of extending our trip that way, but chose not to for several reasons (there’s nothing there; we’d have to leave the pups in the coach for the whole voyage; we want to get to Alabama by early-September).

We circled around the harbour to Sydney proper, stopping for a quick picture at the local EDS call centre (I had a chance to visit there several years ago). We found a McDonalds with “McLobster”, so we had to have lunch there. It wasn’t bad for C$5.99: I gave it a solid C: not a lot of meat but nicely dressed; too much iceberg lettuce; no toasting on the roll.

We toured downtown Sydney (only to confirm that there’s not much there) and then headed out along the coastal drive. We didn’t go too far because we wanted to get back around 2 PM to get tonight’s dinner (baby back ribs) cooking low-and-slow. It was a nice drive, and we got back as planned. The ribs came out quite well, and Geri made foil-wrapped sliced potatoes/onions/peppers and finished up the asparagus we had on hand, all on the grill. It worked out well; as I was only using one burner for the ribs (they go on the “cool” side). We sat outside for a bit but it was actually starting to get pretty cool, so we’re hoping for good sleeping weather.

Tomorrow’s plan is to do the full Cabot Trail (180+ km/110+ miles) by getting an early start and having dinner on the road. We’ve got the lunch made, the coffee’s programmed, and the car’s ready to go, so we’ll see how we do!

Oh, and Happy Birthday to Britt!

A few random observations

August 5, 2007
North Sydney, NS

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve made a mental note to mention a couple of things we’ve observed while in the Maritimes, but none of them have made it to blog entries. Since mental notes are easily lost (it seems to get easier to lose them every day!), here are a few random observations.

Clotheslines: You can tell when it’s “laundry day” in the Maritimes because clotheslines are used all over. We grew up with them of course, but we’re so used to living in places where HOAs – and campgrounds – prohibit their use that it was strange to see so many. We could just imagine how fresh the clothes would seem, especially near the ocean or Fundy coastlines.

Marshmallows: While driving through farmland, we came upon numerous farms, many of which store hay for their animals. I suspect than most people know that the traditional bale format is giving way to the larger rolled style. Here, we’ve encountered quite a few farms that are shrink-wrapping the large circular bales in heavy white plastic. When they’re stacked in the fields or near a barn, they look jut like giant marshmallows from a distance. I guess you had to be there…

Speed limits: Most people seem to drive at or below the speed limits here. Most of the towns have limits of 50-60 kilometers/hour (about 31-37 MPH), the main two-lane roads are 70-90 KPH (~44-56 MPH) and the controlled access roads are 100-110 KPH (~62-68 MPH) – similar to the US. We’ve generally kept to the limit ourselves, and have had very few situations where people have felt the need to pass us. Those that passed us have been about 50/50 Americans/Locals. People from MA, NY, NJ, FL, and the odd CA plate seem to be in a hurry, reinforcing another stereotype, I suppose.

Road patching: The road crews have this down to a science. We’ve been through sections where the roads have been patched three times (you can tell by the different degrees of fading in the color of the pavement, and they’ve been just as smooth as you’d want. In the US, patching (when done at all) seems to be done in a way that makes the road surface worse instead of better. The roads in the Maritimes have generally been very good. TC-105 from Port Hawkesbury to Sydney had some places where frost heaves caused rolling dips and mounds, but we’ve had very few places where the coach has been slammed around like we’ve experienced on US Interstates.

We even passed a road construction crew with a machine that I’ve felt that the US should have for a long time. Out front was one of those grinders that take the top 2-3” of road surface off in a lane-wide pass. Instead of going in a truck to be hauled away, the ground asphalt went into a hopper that fed another mill that created a gravel-like substance, which went by conveyor to a mixer that added hot tar, and finally they “new” asphalt was spread out on the roadbed. The whole thing was moving along at 1-2 MPH, flanked by guys with orange cones and followed by a series of rollers. At the tail end was a guy putting down reflective markers showing where the new paint lines would go. At the end of the day, they probably were able to resurface 15 km of a lane (maybe more since road crews seem to work from morning to dusk) with minimal traffic impact. You can tell I’m easily intrigued by a) efficient processes, b) good roads, and c) smooth traffic flows – put them all together and I’m a happy guy.

Travel Day to Cape Breton Island

August 4, 2007
North Sydney, Nova Scotia

Today was a travel day, as planned. We left the Halifax area a little later than planned, but made good time up to the other end of the province. We’d planned for a 10 AM departure, so we had plenty of time. It dawned on the cloudy/foggy/misty side, so it was a fabulous thing that we’d put all the outside stuff in travel mode yesterday!

We had coffee and breakfast (almost unheard of for us on a travel day) and took advantage of the departure preparations made the day before. One last email check, dish down, slides in, power and water disconnected: we’re ready to roll. First stop: the dump station. The site we were at was water and electric only, so we had a week’s worth of dumpage to do. No big deal, as we were in conservation mode and only around 50% “full”, and the dump station was only 100’ away, on the other side of the retention pond. I backed out of the site and pulled forward to dump, took care of business, and then pulled back toward the site to hook up the Range Rover.

One final walk around to check for completeness, and we were off – for about 75’. When we got to the end of the row, I realized that we couldn’t make the right turn needed to get on the road that exits the park. I’d already gone too far to go left, and one of the cardinal rules of towing a vehicle 4-wheels-down is “never back up”. So, even though I was partially blocking the exit road, I had no choice but to unhook the car. I backed it up into an empty space, pulled the coach forward to the left, reversed to the right, and pulled right out. I should have realized that the turn was going to be problematic, since we’d walked that way with the pups several times. Duh!

Anyway, I re-attached the Range Rover and we headed southeast on NS-101 and northeast on NS-102. We stopped in Enfield (our new “road game” isn’t license plate calling, but watching for place names familiar from New England) for the first fuel we put in the coach in Canada. At C$1.045/litre, it’s actually cheaper (exchange excluded) than we paid last year. When we left Dave and Sandy’s last year and took the northern route over Lakes Huron and Superior, we paid C$1.10-1.14/litre. Of course, the current exchange rates are close to $1:C$1, so it’s slightly more expensive in real terms, but nothing like the $5/gallon US equivalent I’d been led to expect from some of the Internet groups we follow.

Near Truro (not MA), we took TC (Trans-Canada)-104 to Port Hawkesbury on Cape Breton Island, then TC-105 toward Sydney. The route took us northeast through the center of the island, along several channels of the Bras d’Or Lake, a large salt-water lake that will likely be one of our scenic drives while we’re here. As we were driving along near an area called St. Patrick’s Channel, we saw a bald eagle circling over the edge of the water. We’re hoping to do quite a bit of wildlife viewing over the next week.

About halfway to Sydney on Cape Breton Island, we found the edge of the known universe. Well, at least the end of the world according to Navteq, the data provider for the GPS system in the coach. As we were driving along, the map space just turned into the blue screen background, creeping slowly across the screen as we traveled along. Eventually, we got to the edge of the unmapped space and, as we crossed, we got an error message and it zoomed all the way out. It’s amazing how much we rely on the GPS, even just to see where the road turns and roughly how far we are from the next town or landmark, even if we’re not using it for directions. The system in the Range Rover is working fine (good thing, since that’s what we use for touring), so I’ll have to check and see if there’s an updated set of disks for the coach.

Just before Sydney, we found our campground. It’s right before the Seal Island Bridge and on the site of what appears to be a quarry of some sort. The whole park is built into terraces under a bluff rising probably 300’ straight up. All along the entry drive are warning signs and cordons relating to the falling rock. Fortunately, we’re in the middle of the park, away from the cliffs, but we’ll have to get some photos tomorrow.

After arrival, we did a little bit of deployment, but decided to head to the grocery for a few things. It was either pasta or filet mignon for dinner, and the filet won. We got most of what we needed at Sobeys in North Sydney, and Geri was able to make us a nice salad while I deployed the stoves and grilled the steaks outside. We had a nice red with dinner, a 2005 Vin de Pays de l’Hérault from Moulin de Gassac in the south of France. It was one that I picked up yesterday at the wine shop in Bedford, and was a pretty good value.

We’re dish-free at this park (no TV, no Internet), so we’re gearing up for a technology-challenged week. I’m sure I’ll find a Wi-Fi hotspot once or twice during the week to connect, but blog posts will have to be composed offline and post when possible for a bit.

As we were driving into North Sydney to the grocery, we saw quite a few roadside signs that were memorable enough for us to go back for some photos, which I’ll post separately. I saw signs for the hotel and restaurant I visited several years ago, as we did due diligence on the operational side of the Towers Perrin-EDS deal. Geri forgot I was here (easy to do, given the number of places I traveled to for w*rk), and it’ll be interesting to cruise back that way as a tourist as opposed to business traveler sometime this coming week. As I’ve said many times, business travel and leisure travel are nothing alike; when you’re traveling on business, you see the inside of planes, airports, cabs, hotels, restaurants and offices.

This week, we’re planning excursions along the Lake, on the Cabot Trail and to Louisbourg. It should be fun, weather permitting. It’s supposed to be relatively nice, but it’s been clouding up this evening, so we’ll see. Here’s hoping it’s just a marine layer…

Friday, August 3, 2007

A day off

August 3, 2007
Upper Sackville, NS

After two solid days of touring, we were ready for a day off. Geri especially, since her sciatic is worse than ever. She stayed home and tended to that while I ran a few errands. I dropped off another roll of film at Wal-Mart and then used the hour wait for processing to find a local wine store (not the provincial one, but rather one that focuses on value), pick up a few things at the grocery, and make an ATM stop. Once I got home, I spent an hour putting stuff away in anticipation of tomorrow's departure for the other end of the province. With the temperature in the low 80s and the humidity at least that high, it was a pretty steamy exercise but at least it won't need to be done tomorrow morning.

Tonight, we've accepted the invitation of the couple next door to go to a local fish and chips place. We've spoken with them a few times after meeting them first at the Harding's Point campground last week.

Tomorrow, we head for Cape Breton Island, which should be about a 5-hour drive.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Day trip up the "Annapolis Valley"

August 2, 2007
Upper Sackville, NS

Today was another day of touring, except that we got off to a later start than expected. This time it wasn’t a case of us sleeping in, but a minor medical situation that required a detour to the vet before we started out. As I was walking the pups, I noticed some tapeworm segments that Merlin had left behind. We’ve never seen these in a dog before, but we certainly had enough of them when we had cats years ago. So, off to the local vet we went and $42 later we were fully equipped to deal with the situation for Merlin – and Maya Lynn (the vet said, “If one has them the other probably does as well.”). A plus to the trip was that we were able to find their normal kibble, which is only distributed through vets in Canada.

Our day trip took us north along NS-1, along the eastern shore of the Avon River, and then northeast along the coastline of the Minas Basin. This is basically a bay off the Bay of Fundy, and an area where the narrow waterway compounds the tidal flow, resulting in exaggerated high-to-low tide variations, similar to what we saw in New Brunswick. We were traveling through right near low tide, so the mud flats were in view, sometimes stretching for quite a way out into the bay.

We stopped for lunch in Walton, at a public park surrounding the local lighthouse. We took a few pictures, and you can see the difference in the “before” and “after” lunch shots as the tide had risen quite a bit in that short time.

There were quite a few construction zones along the route to Walton, so we made our best guess for a shortcut return route. It was our best guess because the road wasn’t labeled on the map, but that was OK since it didn’t have any road signs either! We did some reckoning by the navigation system in the Range Rover, and seemed to be going in the right direction. It worked out perfectly, cutting at least ½ hour out of the return trip from Walton.

We stopped to take a picture of the center of Brooklyn, just for grins because it was nothing like the center of the Brooklyn we used to live in (NYC). All there was in this one was a combination service station and dollar store.

We then followed our route along the western side of the Avon River, through towns like Windsor and Falmouth (familiar New England names) before turning west toward Wolfville, a pretty little college town mentioned by Brian Mills. From there, we headed north toward Cape Split and Scots Bay, with a stop at a place called “The Lookoff”. From a distance, we could see that we were going to climb a ridge, but we didn’t realize until we were at the top what a view it would provide of the valley below and the bay/river off in the distance.

We continued west along the shore, stopping in Baxters Harbour (thinking there might be a picture there I could send to Peter – nothing but a ‘road closed’ sign), and then on to Halls Harbour. I’d seen an ad for the Halls Harbour Lobster Pound in the tourist guide, so I thought this might be a good place for an early dinner. It worked out pretty well, even though it was a tourist trap of sorts (I know, what did I expect from a place advertising in the official tourist guide?). You know you’re in a tourist trap when you have to order your lobster in the gift shop, not the restaurant. While we were waiting for the food, I took some digital and film shots. It’s a working harbour, and several fishing boats were just finishing the clean up process after offloading.

Geri had mussels (OK but not really equipped to beat the ones we’ve had in Brussels) and we each had a 2½ pound lobster. The lobsters were fresh (you get to pick them out of the tank yourself) and, before we got hooked on Brown’s, we’d have thought they were excellent. Now, they just rated a B+, as they were boiled (the salt water does help but steamed is better) and the melted butter can’t compare to clarified butter. We are so spoiled! We had a local wine, a Sauvignon Blanc from Grand Pré Winery, which went pretty well with the seafood.

After polishing off the mussels, Geri actually saved the body of her lobster to bring home (you know she’s not feeling up to snuff when that happens). Me, not so much; I was trained to be in the “clean plate club” as a kid.

After we ate, I went back for the camera and took a few more shots. The fishing boats were now empty and, since the tide was going out as we ate, had dropped 10-12’. They were just beginning to sit on the harbour floor. The gulls were having a feast on whatever they could reach by diving to the bottom in the few remaining feet of water. I’m not sure if it was something that was living there or leftover bait thrown/washed off the boats, but those gulls were sure ready for dinner!

I took the pups for a short walk on the beach, which is really on the rocks, especially with the tide out. Usually Merlin will go wading at least, but he stopped 10’ from the water line, did his business on the ocean floor, and headed for the car or “Mom” or both. They were ready to go and so were we, so we headed back to NS-1, and hopped over to the NS-101 expressway for the trip back. Once again, the return trip was a little over an hour and we were home in no time. We relaxed for a bit with an Al-tini before calling it an early night.

Back to the day trips

August 1, 2007
Upper Sackville, Nova Scotia

Holy crap, it's August already! July just seemed to sneak past us. Oh well, it's a nice day and off we go.

Today was the first completely clear day we’ve had (it’s supposed to be relatively clear through Friday) so we mapped out a day trip. We’ve started to get this down to a science, which is a good thing. We clear out the back of the Range Rover to be able to put the seats up; we pack a lunch, water, and dog treats in the 12v cooler; and we put the pups in the back seat (it’s too much to have them in the lap all day). We got an early-for-us start around 9:30.

Our route took us along the southern shoreline, west of Halifax. The tourist route is alternatively labeled the “Bluenose Coast” and the “Lighthouse Coast”. In general, our plan was to follow NS-3 to the west, but first we had to backtrack toward Halifax on NS-101, then south on NS-102 until we picked up NS-3.

The “scenic routes” here are well done. Each route has a stylized logo which is posted on directional signs (no words needed, just follow the arrows – and don’t miss any signposts). Here in the southwestern part of the province, NS-1 runs along the Fundy coast (north shore) and NS-3 along the Atlantic (south shore). The great news is that they’ve built limited access highways in parallel (NS-101 and NS-103, respectively), so you can poke along in one direction all day, and then take the express route back home. We’ve seen similar situations in the US, where Interstates many times parallel the old US Highway system, but not so specifically engineered. It’s quite effective here.

Anyways, we followed the tourist route to our first stop, Peggy’s Cove. This spot is advertised to contain the world’s (or at least the province’s) most photographer lighthouse. Who was I to argue? We stopped for pictures, of course. It’s also supposed to be the only lighthouse with a post office in it, or the only post office in a lighthouse, or – well, you get the idea – it’s special. It’s on a little spit of land, where the trees disappear and the rocks take over. Driving along, it was like entering an alpine region, where you climb so high you’re above the tree line. The only difference was that here, we were at sea level, moving horizontally.

After taking some pictures, using the loo, walking the pups, and picking up a couple of souvenirs cards, we hit the road again. We followed the route around St Margaret’s Bay, through Chester and Mahone Bay, to Lunenburg. We stopped at a beach-side picnic area near Blandford for lunch. By the time we got to Lunenburg, it was already after 3 PM. After touring a bit, we headed for home via NS-103. It took us 6 hours to get there and about 90 minutes to return. Not bad!

We’d taken a pork tenderloin from the freezer, so I thought I’d be clever and put it, still frozen, into the 12v cooler to a) thaw and b) help cool the other stuff. It worked like a charm. Dinner was a tag team effort, with Geri making excellent sautéed carrots in beef stock and polenta while I roasted the pork on the grill outside. It matched quite well with a 1997 Meridian Cabernet Sauvignon that we’d brought from home.

Given that my original thought was that we’d do the whole southern shore in one day, and we only got about 20-25% of the way to Yarmouth (at the western tip of the province), it looks like I’m going to have to adjust my expectations.

Geri’s been suffering over the last few days with her sciatic acting up, which causes a lot of pain, difficulty sleeping, and a hard time with steps (even the few steps into and out of the coach). These “driving day trips” are designed to reduce the amount of walking she has to do, but I’m concerned that sitting in the car for a long ride may be contributing to the flare up. These spells come and go, of course, but this one’s particularly bad. She’s hanging in there, though! We were talking to another couple staying here (they were actually staying at Harding’s Point in New Brunswick when we were there, and we’ll probably see them on PEI in a week and a half when we get there as well), and they recommended an over-the-counter muscle-relaxer/analgesic (I forget the name), and we traded them a bag of Coco’s Canine Cuisine (the dog food mix Geri uses) for a sample of the pills. She’ll try them overnight and we’ll see if it helps.