Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Posts from the ‘Drives’ category

Exploring Western Prince Edward Island

Friday, September 13, 2019

We drove the Lighthouse Trail on western Prince Edward Island. We found Belmont Provincial Park to be closed, but parked outside and walked around the pretty, little park. It looks like a nice beach or picnic area for summer. A house nearby was running a generator on the front porch five days after Dorian. The banks along the beach had been washed away, but not badly. 

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I love exploring, driving down gravel roads or paved. In many of the bays we found mussel farms. Green Park Provincial Park was also closed, with trees still blocking the road.

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We stopped at Tyne Valley Cafe for a tea. The owner, Carol, told us about this cute town, where an oyster farmer has an outlet across the street, and his wife runs a hamburger place on the corner. There is also a craft brewery nearby. Beautiful Trout River flows through town. Later I would learn the valley was named after the River Tyne in England. Martha got an Earl Gray Bravo tea and a bread pudding, while I got Black Dragon Pearls tea, which was very good. I couldn’t resist trying chili with a poached egg, asking for a half portion. 

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At 10:30 the restaurant was quiet, so Carol had time to tell us how she and her husband decided to move here four years ago from Montreal. They bought the house next door and this place, both requiring a lot of work, but she has enjoyed it and the community. With here British accent and easy smile, it was great hearing her stories. But soon the place got hopping. By the time we left, the place was pretty full. 

Driving around the northern coast, then switching to the southern coast, the farms were still the most impressive. I would like to have explored the northern part as well as the center along Rt 2, but time has run out.

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We had not had mussels on PEI, so we went into Summerside to find them. We went to the Breakwater Restaurant and had an appetizer of mussels, which were just OK. Then we went to 511 West, which is a nice, little restaurant in a hockey arena. It was Friday night and they were hopping, so we sat at the bar and had a small order of fish and chips and a cup of fish chowder. This is the place to go in Summerside. 

Next stop, Holman’s Ice Cream Parlor, which was also busy on a chilly evening. It is in a beautiful, old house with a lovely yard. I have never eaten ice cream by a campfire, a new experience. 

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I hate to leave, but tomorrow we start the trip home. 

Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Driving the Cape Shore of the Avalon Peninsula is beautiful. This leg of the Peninsula sits up on a plateau, with bays cut in, usually with a beautiful river leading in. It is a prairie, and I expected to see caribou, but never did. I envisioned fishing these beautiful streams for trout. 

It rained very hard last night with heavy winds, so this morning we drove in and out of fog. It’s about an hour and a half drive to the cape, partly because of poor road conditions. that makes it hard to enjoy the scenery. You have to dodge serious potholes and ice heaves. When we made the turn toward the reserve, the road got better, but narrow. I stopped several times to let cars pass. There were fences, and you could see something was grazing these vast grasslands.

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We parked at the visitor’s center in fog, but could see a lighthouse at the end of the point. Entering a ranger began telling us all about the reserve. It is mostly about a special breeding area for gannets, murres and other sea birds. I asked about the fences, but no cows. He said years ago, the government encouraged people to raise pigs, but wanted to keep them out of sight and smell. They regulated that there should be a buffer from the road, like a tree line, or hill. Farmers don’t raise cattle like we do in the states. The winters are too hard, so it is more for personal use. They might have 1 or 2 cows. Someone might have 20, and they are allowed to bring them here to graze in the summer. Hay and grain have to be shipped in for winter feeding, so it is expensive. 

The fog began to lift, so he encouraged us to go out while we could see. I thought the sun would burn it off, but we would learn it just comes and goes. A big wind will drive it off, but there was little wind this morning. He cautioned us the stay within the staked areas, as the cliffs are 800’ above the ocean. The fog makes it difficult to see where you are sometimes. Bird Rock is only 40’ from the viewing area, a 10’ x 20’ rocky ledge.

 

I went to the truck and got two cameras. Walking through beautiful fields of grass and flowers, it is about a 20 minute walk out to the rock. The fog was thick enough that I could hear birds, but couldn’t see them. As we got to the viewing area, a german couple was sitting on rocks, amazed at thousands of gannets raising almost grown, speckled babies. Lots were sitting on the 800’ tall rock with ledges all around and all the way down. There was constant action of birds circling around, out to sea and back with fish for the babies.

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The fog made it more surreal with birds floating above a seemingly endless cavern. I wanted to lean over to see, but one bad step and you are finished with this lifetime. I love that Canada doesn’t put guard rails everywhere to protect you. They just put up signs to use at your own risk.

The german couple had just arrived for a trip all the way across Canada, and they were amazed at the sights before them. The man was totally unafraid of heights with his feet dangling over the side, taking pictures with his point-and-shoot camera.

We really could never quite see the water below us, but I love shooting in the fog. It makes things stand out from its background. Birds were doing their little love dance, rubbing their bills up in the air, or wrapping their heads around each other. Apparently different birds roost at different levels. Gannets take the top, murres lower and so on, but we couldn’t see far enough down to tell.

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We talked, traded places and shot lots of pictures for about an hour before walking back. Like the puffin viewing area, I would love to go back. We ate our lunch while watching a 30-minute video in the visitor’s center. One local has become a sort of ambassador for the area. He walks the entire reserve often, and he talked about the different plants and flowers he sees. 

A local lady made a sort of aquarium, using things she found on the beaches, carving them into cod, lobsters, trash, a boat and a fisherman. It is a wonderful area. Like the ambassador, it would be fun to walk through it, as well as viewing the birds in all seasons – well maybe not winter. 

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Driving back up the coastal road, we stopped to take pictures of several unique areas. We are here in the summer, when it is often foggy or cloudy. The winters will be more gray and white, so the like to make color any way they can. They also have lots of time in winter to do crafts. One homeowner had built or bought boats of all types to decorate his yard, and even a Trump airplane. Another homeowner made very cool birdhouses. Then I had to stop and get pictures of a classic-looking trout stream.

The Boot Loop

Thursday, August 29, 2019

I was nervous about rescheduling the Ferry back to Nova Scotia. Would we be able to change leaving from Port aux Basque to Argentia? It’s a big drive from where we are back to Port Aux Basque, but it’s a 16-hour, more expensive ferry ride from Argentia, and it could be a long trip if it’s rough. Would there be a 2-berth cabin available so we could sleep?

All lines were busy. We were booking for the 5th of September, after Labour Day, so I suppose lots of people have to get back by then. Finally my call went through and Stella answered. Within three minutes, we were done. They didn’t have a 2-berth, but could give me a 4-berth for the same price and wait list us for a 2-berth. Done! Wonderful!

Then I called to book two nights at Bellevue Campground. William asked for my information, and I could understand everything he said. However, when he heard I was from Virginia, he went into a heavy brogue, none of which I could understand. After three tries he said, “The Waltons!” He loves to watch the TV show, and watched an episode last night. “Can’t wait to meetcha Mr. Wall”, he said as we finished the booking. 

We set out for a drive around “The Boot”, a loop around the end of the Burin Peninsula. This peninsula is similar to the others, yet very different. It still has the beautiful ponds, but with a prairie-like look, with more mountains and hills to give it character. It looks like a place you could ride a horse forever. You expect to see a herd of buffalo, but there is nothing. People pick a spot and plant a vegetable garden, out in the open. In Virginia, the deer would pick it clean, but there are no deer, and I guess Moose don’t care about it. Although rabbits are here, we haven’t seen any.

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Driftwood artwork

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Good resting place in Lord’s Cove

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Our plan was to drive to Nan and Pop’s Shop in Lord’s Cove for lunch and then work our back. We should have called, as it is only open certain days and times, which is the way to survive in sparsely populated areas. Driving back to Fortune, we had a nice lunch at Doc’s.  Cecilie was our waitress. I ordered cod, vegetables and mashed potatoes. Martha asked if he chili was good. Cecilie said, “I think it’s good, but then I am prejudiced. I make it.” They had a discussion on how she makes it. You have to be versatile here. She is owner, cook, waitress and cashier, all with a beautiful smile on her face.

We drove out to Fortune Head Ecological Reserve where more fossils are found in the rocks. Headed back to camp, we drove to Grand Beach, and it was a big one. The more we explore, the more we appreciate Fisherman’s Cove and Garnish.

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Grand Beach

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Fortune Head Lighthouse

Exploring the Irish Loop, Newfoundland

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

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Sunrise this morning

We have driven half of the east side of the Irish Loop on the Avalon Peninsula, but wanted to see more. We drove south to Ferryland and walked to the lighthouse from the visitor’s center. The harbor is so pretty with islands in the middle and rock cliffs on the north side. Seagulls and other birds are everywhere, and it didn’t hurt that it was a beautiful day. It took us an hour to get out there and walk around the point, where a family was sitting on the rocks watching seals play. 

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We found a field of blueberry bushes, but they weren’t ready yet. I guess in another couple of weeks or so. I figured out a way to make a blueberry pie that Diego wanted so badly, but now he is back in Mexico City.

Ferryland was settled about 1610. I can’t imagine living here then, but unlike so many other colonies in America, the resources they had were plentiful. Trees, lobster, cod, crabs, mussels, oysters, ducks, geese and fresh water made it easier than many locations.

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Then we drove to the southern tip of the peninsula, Mistaken Point, where there is a UNESCO ecological reserve. All the tours were full, but we went in the visitor’s center and watched a video. On rock ledges by the sea, there are thousands of ancient life forms fossilized in the rocks that are 500 million years old. They are the oldest Ediacaran period fossils known in the world. Interestingly, they were discovered by a geology graduate student, Shiva Misra. The wreck of the Titanic was found 600 km from Mistaken Point. 

This area is so different from everything else we have seen in Newfoundland. It is called “The Barrens”. There are no trees, but wide-open grasslands, bogs and ponds as far as the eye can see. Partridge hunting is supposed to be good here, and brook trout plentiful. Little huts are seen next to ponds, perhaps a place where people come to fish and hunt. 

Heading back toward La Manche Provisional Park, we stopped at Bernard Kavanagh’s restaurant with the million dollar view overlooking Ferryland Harbor. We were early, the only ones in the restaurant. A lady sweeping the floor gave us menus and told us to sit where we want. “Number 5 and 7 are good”, so we sat at table #7. What a view! We were embarrassed to just order a tea, so we ordered cod bites, tea and a mixed berry crumble. The waitress said they were frozen cod, and we would be better to order one piece cod, so we did. Another lady brought the cod a short while later. She said they just made two smaller pieces so we could split it, and it was excellent, some of the best we have had. 

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A man came over to talk, but I couldn’t understand a word he said. He didn’t have his hearing aid in, so he couldn’t hear a word I said. However, his hat said “Boss”, and he was the owner. He said it was for sale, saying things were just getting too expensive. He asked where we were from, but wasn’t quite sure where Virginia was. Pointing to a pretty house on a bluff, he said a man from Boston lives there, but he has gone back now. 

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I think we met the whole staff, all coming to say hello. I asked one about driving here in the snow and ice. She said it was difficult, and they get plenty of it. She said it was so hot today, and she couldn’t stand the weather Virginia has had this summer. It was 26 deg C, which is 79 F, but that is hot here. We had worked up quite a sweat walking to the lighthouse earlier. All of these people were so nice! I told this lady we have really enjoyed our visit to Newfoundland, and that people have been so nice. She smiled and said, “Sometimes we are”. 

Back at camp, we didn’t need much for dinner, so we grilled a small piece of salmon and corn over the fire. 

Natchez Trace – Mount Locust

“Of the 50 or so primitive hostelries established before 1820 along the Trace, only Mount Locust remains. It is one of the oldest buildings in Mississippi, dating to 1780. In 1956 it was restored to its form as a frontier hime of the 1820’s, which was the peak era of the Trace’s foot and horse travel. The old framework of the house is sassafras and was found to be in almost perfect condition where the other woods had succumbed to the years of southern Mississippi’s moist heat. The interior trim and walls are poplar, the exterior siding, cypres.”  From Guide to The Natchez Trace Parkway by F. Lynne Bachleda.

It is a gorgeous setting for a farm and “stand” (tavern or hostelry). You can walk the trace behind the house, and there are family and slave graveyards. The original brickwork remains in walkways and chimneys. The bricks were made on the site.

I should have walked the Mt. Locust Scenic Trail, which is described at pristine and stunning in Bachleda’s book, but I didn’t read about until later.

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Houses of Natchez

I spent the afternoon driving, but mostly walking around Natchez. One neighborhood along the cliff overlooking the Mississippi was most impressive. It’s only a guess, but I suspect the city codes for historic homes might stop some people from buying. Next door to some incredibly beautiful homes are once-beautiful homes that are in disrepair. There are also intermixed modest homes that are often quite pretty. Blocks away, I found a modest neighborhood that looked like Elvis’ birthplace. Rhett was right. This is a very cool town, rich in heritage and history, and I didn’t even get started on the cuisine. Next time 😊

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Loved my campsite at Natchez State Park.

Natchez Trace Emerald Mound

Like the Grand Village, this is a sacred and impressive site of the Mississipians beginning about 1300. Mound building was practiced for thousands of years. It was a place of ceremonies, trade among nations all the way to Indiana, and games. Here they placed stickball with only their hands. They still return every year for ceremonies.

Note: if you click a picture, you can then scroll through them as slowly or quickly as you want.

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Driving back up the Trace from Natchez, I wanted to see Mount Locust, one of the hostelries along the Trace. It is the only one that remains. The framework of the house is sassafras, and was found to be in almost perfect condition. The interior trim and walls were poplar; the exterior siding cypress. From “Guide to The Natchez Trace” by F. Lynne Bachleda. Unfortunately it was not open. I visited some other sites along the way, a beautiful cemetery on the Trace, the remains of Elisabeth Female Academy (1818-1845) and Loess Bluff, an ancient wind-blown cliff.

I went back to Natchez, visiting St. Mary’s Cathedral and the Natchez National Cemetery that my tour guide recommended. Walking along the boardwalk, there are three impressive homes standing above the Mississippi.

Natchez Trace – Grand Village of The Natchez Indians

I didn’t tour the plantations and mansions, but there are lots of beautiful ones. I opted to tour the Grand Village of the Natchez. There is a nice information center. I listened to a person of Natchez decent telling his history to the lady at the desk. I wished I had recorded it. He was telling about his family’s land, going back to early European times and how the tribe wouldn’t accept him now. He thought the new casino might have something to do with it.

The Grand Village is impressive. It reminded me of sites in Mexico, though no buildings remain. You could imagine large numbers of Indians in ceremonies and games. It’s an impressive site. “The Natchez Indians inhabited what is now southwest Mississippi ca. AD 700-1730, with the culture at its zenith in the mid-1500s. Between 1682 and 1729 the Grand Village was their main ceremonial center, according to historical and archaeological evidence. French explorers, priests, and journalists described the ceremonial mounds built by the Natchez on the banks of St. Catherine Creek, and archaeological investigations produced additional evidence that the site was the place that the French called “the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians.” from http://www.mdah.ms.gov/new/visit/grand-village-of-natchez-indians/

Stickball

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The origins of Lacrosse is often attributed to the Algonquins, but the Indians of the southeast played stickball for more than 1000 years.

“Among the Indian nations of the Southeast (Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, Natchez, Seminole), there were two basic ball games which were played. These games had both social and ceremonial meaning.

Stickball was played with two sticks per player. The ball sticks, made from hickory or pecan, were about two feet long and were bent at one end to form a racket. The balls were made from deerskin which was stuffed with deer or squirrel hair. Players would catch the ball between the nettings of their sticks and then throw it. They were not allowed to strike or catch the ball with their hands. The players, however, could tackle, block, or use any reasonable method to interfere with the other team’s movement of the ball.

Points were scored when a player hit the opposing team’s goal post with the ball. Among the Cherokee, a team had to be the first to score 12 points in order to win. The Creek, however, required 20 points in order to win.

The field for the game might be as long as 500 yards or as short as 100 yards. The object of the game was to get the ball between two goal posts or to strike one of the poles with the ball.

Stickball was often used to settle issues between Choctaw communities. This approach to settling internal issues reduced the possibility of civil war. In these instances, the goal posts might be located within each opposing team’s village which meant that the goal posts would be several miles apart.

Among the Choctaw, the players were not allowed to wear moccasins or any clothing other than a breechclout. On the night prior to a game, there would be a dance in which the players would dance in their ballplay outfits and rattle their ballsticks together.

Among some of the tribes, players would not eat rabbit prior to a game as it was felt that this might cause them to become frightened and confused. They also avoided eating frogs because this would make them susceptible to broken bones. Players would generally fast before the game.

The number of players varied greatly. Sometimes there were games with as few as nine players per side, while other times there were games with several hundred players on the field. A game might last several days. Play was rough and it was not uncommon for the players to suffer severe bruises and even broken bones.

The Southeastern nations also have a single pole ball game which is played in ritual context. Like stickball, the single pole game is played with sticks and a small ball. In this game there is a single pole, about 25 feet high, with a wooden effigy of a fish at the top. Seven points are scored when a player manages to strike the fish with the ball. Striking the pole scores two points.

This game has been played for more than 1,000 years. The game is often played in association with the Busk (or Green Corn Ceremony). The game, which is played on sacred ground, brings a sense of balance and harmony by bringing the secular and sacred together.” From: https://nativeamericannetroots.net/diary/949

 

 

Natchez Trace From Ross Barnett Reservoir to Natchez State Park

As I drove the Natchez Trace Parkway, stopping at each marker to learn the history and see the sights, I was impressed by the depth of history of this ancient road. The Native American history is told pretty well, although it left me wanting to know more. Then the thoughts and stories of the European settlers who walked this trail for 500 miles back to their homes is amazing. Making 20-25 miles a day on foot, carrying gear and a heavy rifle for a month is no small feat. As travel increased, “stands” were built along the way for travelers to sleep and eat. Usually they were small, with many sleeping on the floor, but that’s still better than sleeping in the woods with no shelter from the rains or cold.

Talk about walking, the Trail of Tears crosses the Trace, and Native Americans were made to walk to Oklahoma. They had inadequate food or shelter, and many died along the way.

Rocky Springs is an abandoned 1790’s town where about a 2’616 people had lived and farmed. When and the poorly managed land gave out, it was abandoned. All that remains is a beautiful brick church built in 1836 that is still in use today.

There was a stop to view the “Sunken Trace”. You could easily see how bandits could have full advantage in this area.

Natchez Trace Meriwether Lewis Campground to Ross Barnett Reservoir

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Elvis’ birthplace in Tupelo, Mississippi includes a museum and beautiful grounds. “When Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto passed through this area in 1540, he encountered an established Chickasaw Indian civilization nestled in the wooded hills and valleys. The Chikasaw, who had a reputation as fierce fighters, ultimately drove de Soto westward toward the Mississippi River, the ‘discovery’ for which he is perhaps most famous.’ from Guide to the Natchez Trace Parkway by F. Lynne Bachleda. De Soto came with 700 armed men on horseback. It is a story of torture, enslavement and murder.

Tupelo is also the sight of a battle in the French and Indian war, with the Chickasaws joining the British. There was also a Civil War battle here. The town was originally named for the native Tupelo tree. It was home of the Chickasaw and Choctaws for thousands of years. Mud Creek and Town Creek intersect here, and there are many surrounding lakes, so it was a good area for hunting, fishing and planting for the native Americans. As with most places, there is much more to see in Tupelo.

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I visited the Chicasaw Council House at Pontatok, where tribal chiefs and leaders met in the 1820’s to adopt laws and treaties (that would not be good). This area also marks the National Trail of Tears. When all was said and done, the European settlers took their land and marched them to Oklahoma. The good news is that many return to their homeland for annual ceremonies.

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As Ed Brownfield reminded me, President Jefferson made the Trace a mail route and more of a road between Nashville and Natchez, which took them about two weeks to ride the 450 miles. It was a difficult, lonely and dangerous road. The white man’s use of the trail was to take their crops and goods down the Ohio or Tennessee Rivers on wooden rafts to the Mississippi and to Natchez. They would sell everything, including the wood from their raft. Then they would either ride or walk the Trace back to Nashville or into Kentucky. Since they were flush with cash, they were easy targets for bandits, especially in the sunken areas. They would sometimes travel in groups for safety, but that often slowed travel.

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from: https://www.scenictrace.com/follow-the-path-of-the-kaintucks-on-the-natchez-trace/