Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

One Day in Bangor

Monday, September 16, 2019

I got to Northern Light Walk-In Care at 7:40 and registered at 7:45. I wanted a Lyme’s Disease test since I had been having some weird symptoms over the last two and a half months. My friend, Pam, had recommended this clinic, so I felt confident it was a good place, and if anyone knows Lyme’s Disease, Maine should.

Deb checked me in, weighed me, took my blood pressure and said Rebecca would be in shortly. Soon Rebecca came in and introduced herself. She is a lovely, young lady with a beautiful smile. A physician’s assistant, she asked why I was here and what the symptoms were. Then she listened to my heart and breathing and asked some more questions. How do you feel? Fine. Anyone in your family have autoimmune problems? Huh? Yes, mother had Lupus. Then a bunch more questions, seemingly unrelated to Lyme’s.

Then she asked if she could take an EKG. OK. “Then I will show you a bunch of Lyme’s rashes on the computer.” Deb came back in and did the EKG. She had been off last week, and they spent it in Bar Harbor. She looked at the results and took them to Rebecca, who returned in a few minutes. Showing me the chart, she said, “You are in Atrial Fibrulation”, describing the appearance. “I know you came for a Lyme test, but this is more important. I want you to go to the emergency room.” OK.

After some discussion about taking an ambulance, I thanked her for her very thorough exam and history and asked if she could do the Lyme test before I go. “They can do it at the ER.” Looking at me with a wrinkled brow, she escorted me to the door with address and directions to Northern Light Hospital, 11 minutes away. She had called ahead, so they knew I was coming.

I guess I could have had a massive stroke on the way, and it didn’t help that Google Maps wasn’t talking to me, or that it was rush hour. I parked in the emergency room parking lot and walked in. They took me right in and hooked me up to an EKG. Technology! It said A-fib right on the screen.  I texted Martha that I was in the ER and what I was there for.

Dr. Melia came in, took a quick history. “So you came in because of chest pain?” “No, I went to Walk-In for a Lyme’s test.” He ordered a chest x-ray, and a nice lady came to get me. Starting to walk down the hall, Dr. Melia said, “He shouldn’t be walking.” Geez! I never did find out if anything showed up on the x-rays.

A pretty, young nurse, Paige, came in and started asking a bunch of questions when a physician’s assistant came in, introduced himself and started asking questions. “Do you have a cough? How long have you been feeling lethargic?” “I don’t feel lethargic. I came in for a Lyme test.” Then he left, apparently in the wrong room. The ER was very busy this morning. Paige said she liked it this way. “Makes the day go faster.” She usually works three 12-hour shifts, but was on the “Princess Shift” to day, an 8-hour day. I asked if she was a runner, as she looked athletic and had on running shoes. She said no, but gets up at 4:30 every morning, goes to the gym and does sprints and lifts weights.

A lady came in and put an IV drip in my right arm, and another drew blood from the other arm. I asked what they were going to run. Blood studies and I think it was troponin to see if I was having a heart attack. And a Lyme test – good:}

Paige came in every 15 minutes to check the vitals and gave me a dose of Cardizem. The doctor came in quickly and said they would keep me overnight, but it would take a while to get a room. Once admitted, they would run an echocardiogram, and cardiologists would decide if I should be shocked back into proper rhythm. Great.

Martha came in, of course distressed. After signing up for another night at the campground, she had Uber’d to the hospital.  “Couldn’t we just go home and do this? What’s the hospital rated?” Looking on my phone, I said “2.5”. I had decided not to get checked in St. John’s, Newfoundland because they were rated 2.5, and Lyme’s doesn’t happen there much. “What is UVA rated?” she asked. “2.5”, I found. Looking at the monitor, she said, “You are still in A-fib.” I couldn’t see, as it was behind me. We sat and waited for an hour or more.  While watching the monitor Martha said the A-Fib indicator had gone away.  Paige came in and confirmed I was no longer in A-fib and she did a great job of explaining in simple terms what A-fib is.  After a while Martha went back to camp. She would do some grocery shopping (we had tossed all the vegetables and fruits when we crossed the border), and surely she would relax better there. 

Long waits. The first heart attack test came back negative, so they took another sample. About 2:00 a physician’s assistant, David, came in, asked some questions. He was the first to ask if I had cancer. Then he said the Lyme’s was positive, which I thought was very good news, explaining some of these weird symptoms. Then he said the medication had reversed the A-fib, also good news. He said if the second troponin test was negative, they could release me, and I could have the echocardiogram done at home. They could also keep me and do it here, but it would be tomorrow as they had quite a few heart attack patients today. Sounds great. I opted to go home.

By 3:00, Dr. Melia came back in to give me some instructions. He was retired Navy and was last stationed in Norfolk. Another doctor came in to tell me all about Lyme’s Disease. The positive test didn’t mean I had Lyme’s disease. If it had been negative, it would mean I didn’t have it. But he said I have all the right symptoms of a bite, a rash and wandering pains. Apparently, many people don’t know they have been bitten and don’t have a rash. It is a tiny tick and it takes a few days to transfer the bacteria that causes all the trouble. Once the tick has fed, it drops off, never to be seen again. All this makes diagnosis difficult unless you find the tick and have the classic target rash.

Dr. Melia wrote two prescriptions for me, Cardiazem and two weeks of Doxycycline. Paige unhooked me and gave me all the paperwork to take to my doctor. I got dressed, texted Martha, and headed for the pharmacy.

Waiting for the prescription to be filled, I reflected on this 2.5-rated hospital. This morning I had been to their walk-in clinic where I saw two outstanding people, Deb and Rebecca. At some other location, I might have just gotten what I asked for, a Lyme test. You won’t find a better person or physician’s assistant than Rebecca Rider. At the ER, they took me right in. I saw an excellent nurse, a Lyme’s doctor, an excellent ER doctor and two physician’s assistants. Not usually doing Lyme’s in the ER, they had done mine. I don’t know how many rooms they have, but I know they had people with a lot more serious problems. I give them top ratings.

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. 

Green Gables

Thursday, September 12, 2019

As we drove into Cavendish, it got more and more touristy with cabins, shops and some very nice golf courses. There is still a lot to be done cleaning up after Hurricane Dorian, so crews continue to work hard.

Our Parks Canada Discovery card got us into the visitor’s center at Green Gables Farm, where Lucy Maud Montgomery spent much of her childhood. She is one of the most notable authors of Canada, writing Anne of Green Gables, 20 other novels and 530 short stories. It is a beautiful spot, a beautiful farm on a beautiful island, very close to the ocean beaches. 

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It is all very nicely preserved and presented. She wrote all her life from early childhood, and always wanted to be an author. Anne of Green Gables was refused by 5 publishers. After two years, she got it back out and sent it to Page Company of Boston, who accepted it. Mark Twain described the character, Anne, as “the dearest, most lovable child in fiction since the immortal Alice.”

As we left, tour buses kept coming in. I can’t imagine what it’s like in summer. We drove over to PEI National Park along the beach fronting the Gulf of St. Lawrence. It has the classic red cliffs, which lose a meter of land a year, but Dorian may have sped that up a bit. It is surely a popular spot in summer. We walked up a trail and found a young man flying a tiny drone. It was so cool, fast and with no more noise than a big bee. He was having a big time. His wife, probably not. Not far ahead, the path was closed, so we went back to the car and drove along the beach road. 

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We went into Charlottetown and walked around. Cities don’t do much for me, and this one was no exception. What is exceptional are the farms. A couple of times on the way back, I stopped to take pictures, although it’s hazardous on busy Highway 2. Potatoes account for 20% of the crops, the red, iron-rich soil perfect for potatoes. There is a lot of corn, grains, beans sorghum and cattle. Some fields stretch far into the distance on rolling hills, while others are beautifully divided by trees, separating different crops. 

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Move toWest-End PEI

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

In a driving rain that made rivers of highway ruts, we made our way to the southwest side of Prince Edward Island. We stopped at Summerside Visitor’s Center to see if any campgrounds are open. A very nice man, whose name I’ve lost, called and reserved a spot for us at Linkletter Provincial Park facing Northumberland Straight. Then he gave us all kinds of local information, like where the best ice cream was, historical sites and places to ride our bikes. He gave us a list of events that were going on, including a documentary film tonight on Gordon Lightfoot.

We checked in at the campground and pulled into a nice site while it still rained hard. We decided to just relax the rest of the afternoon and go the Gordon Lightfoot film at 6:30. People pulled in all afternoon. There really are no other provincial parks open. It is possibly the only one open on the island. Private campgrounds may be open, but this end of the island got hit harder than the rest. A big tree rested on a work shed in the campground, somehow avoiding damage. 

Here we were hunkered down with the heat on, while one couple went for a jog, splashing right through mud-puddles. A couple of people were doing laundry. Several were walking along the shore. 

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We ate a light dinner, then went into town to the movie theater. It was a bit difficult to find the Lightfoot presentation, but we paid and went in. At 6:10 the good seats were taken, so we sat on the second row and waited. Gordon Lightfoot has always been one of my favorites, and I really enjoyed the show. At 80 years old, it was great to hear him comment on his songs and their inspirations. Of course Canadians are very proud of him, but it was impressive the renowned singers and groups who sang his songs. He held Bob Dylan in high esteem and they were good friends. He went to music school and wrote all of his music, note by note on well-preserved notebooks. I’ve added a couple of CD’s to my collection, and will listen with more appreciation.

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Points East, Prince Edward Island

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

We went down to North Lake Harbor, declared the tuna fishing capital of the world, probably by Tony’s Tuna Fishing. He exports to Japan and China. We stopped at North Lake Fisheries store/restaurant, where Tony’s wife, a trained chef, features rice bowls. Martha bought 3/4 pound of tuna and ¾ pound of cod. Mussels are still the deal though. We stopped at a roadside cooler with farm eggs on the honor system.

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Going down the south shore, we went to Singing Sand Beach, which is gorgeous. At low tide with calm seas of Northumberland Straight, we walked for about two hours. Two walkers stopped to chat. They were from Vancouver, but have a cabin on an island in a big lake in northern Ontario, where they spend most summers. We traded stories of where we had been and done. They biked the Confederation Trail for three days with a tour. Their butts had enough. It is a rails-to-trails, and goes mostly through central PEI in the woods. The section between St. Peters Bay and Morell was the prettiest because it was along the coast.

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We went to the Lobster Shack for a lobster roll and chips, then went to St. Peters to bike the trail. The first part was totally washed out, so we rode around it. Others had said there were downed trees along the way. Early on, someone had cut a lot of trees away, but as we went on, we had to dismount, walk under and around a number of trees. 2k from Morell, I said that was enough. 

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Someone did a heck of a job cutting trees back in this section, especially considering all the damage done on the island

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Back at camp we cooked tuna on the Cobb grill and corn and green beans from the farm on Nova Scotia. It was all quite good.

Prince Edward Island

Monday, September 9, 2019

Sitting in Peaceful River Campground in Nova Scotia, we tried to evaluate our options to visit Prince Edward Island. Hurricane Dorian has knocked out power for 80% of Nova Scotia and probably PEI. We knew the provincial and national parks were closed until further notice, but we are here and didn’t know when we might be back this way.

We called the ferry for an 11:15 ferry, but the only ones that take trailers are the 8:00 and 5:00. After some debate about whether to go or not, we decided to drive. It was a calm, beautiful day, so hopefully the 12 km bridge would be open.

We packed up and walked over to say goodbye to Ralph and Mary, but they weren’t there. No one was at the office either. Someone said they went to pick up Don’s wife at the hospital. We left a note thanking them for their great hospitality in the middle of a hurricane.

It was about a 2-hr drive to the bridge, but longer because the GMC GPS took us down some crazy roads ……AGAIN! Trees were still down and crews were working hard to clear them. We stopped at a gas station to refill and eat lunch, but it was without power. We had a half tank, so we were OK, but a couple with a European license tag came up to ask if the pumps were working. They had an eighth of a tank left. Lots of cars, RV’s and tractor-trailers came in and left. Back on the road, I searched diesel gas stations on the truck GPS, one thing it does well. There were 3 stations in 15 km in Amherst. Fortunately they had both power and fuel.

Finally at the bridge, all the traffic was coming off the island and not much going on. We guessed they had been unable to leave until today, since the bridge had been closed due to high winds. I’m not crazy about driving across bridges, especially high ones, but this one is OK. It is nicely paved and the lanes are generous with paved shoulders. With no one behind me, I could take my time, going the speed limit of 80 km/hr. The water of Northumberland Straight was a beautiful blue with Prince Edward Island in the distance.

On the other side, we stopped at the visitor’s center. People were lined up at the desk with very patient attendants rebooking or trying to find places for people to stay. Once we got to the young attendant, she showed us a website by the power company. Little green triangles covered the island, indicating power outages. I think the visitor’s center might have been working off a generator as only some of the lights weren’t on. 

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The National Park campground was closed for the season, and all the provincial parks were closed until further notice. Stores and restaurants all around the visitor’s center were closed. She suggested a couple of private campgrounds that were open. When we thought we were taking the ferry across, I had contacted a campground on the east end, Points East Campground. Tanya said they had power, water and vacancies. I messaged her we were on our way, maybe arriving about 5:00, and she said “Great”. We might as well start east and work our way off the island, but that meant another two hours of driving.

We set the Garmin GPS for the campground and headed out. Traveling the TCH at 90 km/hr was easy going until it told us to turn left. As we turned, the road was blocked by a downed tree and crews cleaning it up. A big SUV pulled up next to me with his window down, so I rolled mine down. He was a policeman. “Welcome to PEI”, he said with a big smile on his face. “Following your GPS was ya?” I nodded with a grin. “Well turn around and get back on the TCH.” That brought me laughs several times during the rest of the drive – “Following your GPS was ya?” Damned things drive me crazy, yet couldn’t manage without them.

It’s a beautiful drive across the middle of PEI. Albemarle County, where we live,  was once pretty with beautiful farms, but PEI is much prettier. Beautiful farms with green grass, grain fields, corn, gorgeous hay and straw fields border the road as far as you can see on rolling hillsides. You could spend your day just taking pictures.

When we came to the turn to the campground, the road was blocked with a sign saying “Bridge Out”. We were sitting there in the middle of the road pondering the options when a lady in a pickup said we could get to the campground. “It’s just a short bridge.” Now what that meant, I have no idea, but we turned, and sure enough came to the campground. Tanya met us and checked us in, giving us lots of options for campsites and local information. She told us about the docks down the road, where a tuna fisherman has a small, very good restaurant. There is a man up the road who sells farm eggs. There is a view of North Lake at the bottom of the hill. The trans-Canada trail runs the length of the island, which is a rails-to-trails here.

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We settled in, built a fire to grill scallops and corn. I said hi to our neighbor, a young man in his late 20’s I guessed. Chris came over to chat. He is a plumber from Ontario on holiday, telling us his adventures of finding this place. He, his father and brothers are going tuna fishing tomorrow. A bit later we went over to say hi to his wife, Debbie. She was cooking mussels on a Coleman gas stove, while Chris was boiling water on another gas stove. Music was playing from a boom box in an entertainment center on the side of the trailer. They bought three cooked lobsters at the docks. They were in holding tanks, but when the docks lost power, they had to cook them. What a feast!

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Pictou, Nova Scotia

Sunday, September 8, 2019

The morning after Dorian passed, it was windy, but the skies were clearing. Looking around the campground, damages were minimal. There was a nearby tree that split at the top and the playground equipment got knocked over. The campground was without power, but otherwise it fared well. 

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We had to manage our leaking roof with two pots, towels and a sheet. We cleaned everything up and dressed the picnic table with wet towels, cushions and the sheet. The wind would now help dry them out. We opened up the trailer to let it breathe and dry.

I went down to Ralph’s trailer to thank him for checking on us yesterday. His wife, Mary, came to the door. Ralph had gone to their house to check on things. I thanked her for the wonderful pie and showed her the picture of our breakfast this morning – bacon, eggs and apple pie. This was a great apple pie, not too sweet and chock-full of apples.

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We drove to Pictou to explore and maybe take a hike. We saw a sign for a farm market and followed it to Lakenman’s Farm. It looked like an honor system to leave a list of purchases and pay, but soon Susan came out to greet us. They were out of power, and the storm damaged a lot of the crops. They had gotten a lot of things in the day before the storm. We bought a bunch of corn to give our campground hosts, along with some flowers for Don’s wife. We also got some fruit chutney, tomatoes and lettuce. We talked about the storm and going to PEI. Susan recommended taking the ferry. Her husband was up on the roof fixing the satellite dish. Apparently there was a big ballgame on today.

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We cruised through Pictou where there was a fair amount of traffic for a small town. Some places had power, while others didn’t. We drove to Smith Rock Chalets to take a hike before lunch. As we walked the narrow path up a hill, there was more and more downfall until we came onto four big trees crossing the trail. We couldn’t get through and returned to the chalets and walked around.

Going back to Pictou, we found Stone Soup Cafe, a small restaurant that had people waiting in the hall. We talked to a traveling couple from England. They were out of gas and the stations were either out of power or out of gas. We remembered how everyone was filling up before the storm. Soon they were called in for a table. A lady walked in and ordered take-out. Then a local couple came in.

We were called in for a table of four, so we invited the couple to join us. They were Ralph and Claire and were from a small town near New Glasgow. They have a cottage on the water on Caribou Island, and were on their way to check on it. They hadn’t lost power, but many of their neighbors had. 80% of the Nova Scotia is without power. They first tried to go to Tim Hortons, but it didn’t have power, then another restaurant without power before coming here. They ordered seafood chowder, saying it was good, but not as good as Clair makes. Martha got a lobster roll that she was going to share with me, but I only got one bite. I had fish and chips, but salad instead of the chips. It was all good. We enjoyed talking with this nice couple, who met when they both worked for a newspaper. Their 57th anniversary was coming up. They took a cruise for their 50th, so I asked what they would do for their 60th. Clair said they should take another cruise for their 57th. “Why wait?”, she said.

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On the way home, I spotted a sign for ice cream and zipped into Deb’s Hidden Cafe. She had power and was the only one there, complaining she couldn’t find help. I got a cup of chocolate and cherry ice cream. She said she was busy making jams, today’s being plum with rum. She must have had 50 different ones, but I got rhubarb. She said, “All those flavors and you picked rhubarb!?”

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Back at camp, we paid for another night and gave the flowers to Don for his wife. She was to have surgery this afternoon. We gave him a dozen ears of corn then returned to the trailer. I was taking in our previously wet stuff when Ralph came up. “Shall we get up on the roof and fix the leaks?” I didn’t know what else we could do, but we could give it a try. We went to get his ladder and some Pro RV roof caulk. 

I got up on the roof and Ralph came up the ladder. The second type of tape I used was separating in a few places, especially around the antenna. We lifted the tape, put caulk under it, then pressed it back down. We did the same to several other areas. What a guy, this Ralph!

As we were having cocktails, there was a knock on the door. It was Ralph’s son, Quentin, with a bag of fresh scallops. Martha told him about the corn we had taken Don. He said they had already cooked it :} He wanted to see my truck tool box, so I opened it and showed him. He really liked it, took some mental notes. He had thought about a veterinarian’s box, but they cost about $9,000. 

I wrote a very nice review of the campground on Google. 

Hurricane Dorian

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Wunderground showed Hurricane Dorian on track to come right over us with winds to 60 mph and a lot of rain. We had a couple of hours before it started, so we showered and did laundry in the nice Peaceful River Campground. Don came by to say he was going to the hospital to see his wife and would be back by 12:00. 

By 9:00 it started raining with some wind, and it built up all day. By mid-afternoon it was blowing and raining hard. If this is 60mph, I don’t want to be in 160mph winds. Later I would learn it was equivalent to a category 2 with 90mph winds. Ralph, the campground owner’s father, stopped by to see if we were OK, then asked if we wanted a couple of pieces of apple pie his wife had baked. Well sure! “Anything else you need?” We asked if he had orange juice, and he did. In short order he drove his car right up to the trailer, bringing apple pie and orange juice. He saw our two leaks with pots underneath and said, “We’ll fix those tomorrow. I have some good stuff that will work.”

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We spent the day reading books and checking the weather. Martha watched a movie. We are plugged into power, but it went out about mid-day. Fortunately, the batteries were fully-charged, and I was amazed to see we were getting a little solar (1-2 amps) during this storm. The danger with a trailer in a storm is a tree coming down. We were in a good spot clear of trees and power lines. We were lucky to be pointed into the wind. There was no doubt – I owe Martha desert.

Nova Scotia

Friday, September 6, 2019

At 9:30 the ferry docked in Nova Scotia and we lined up at the stairwell to head back to our vehicles. Turning one way on our deck, we didn’t find the truck and trailer, so we turned around and went to the other side. Once we found it, I was surprised how quickly we were off. Now, where were we going? Martha had entered Pictou Provincial park, but it took a little bit to find us. It was about a 4-hour drive, located near the ferry to Prince Edward Island.

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Overlook along TCH

Pulling into the campground, an RV pulling out waved to us, so I stopped and backed up. He said they were closing for the hurricane. Really! He was more worried about his house in Norfolk. “Norfolk, Virginia?” I asked. Small world once again.

We pulled up to the window, and sure enough, all provincial parks in Nova Scotia were closing. The storm wasn’t even coming until Saturday morning, if it comes at all. We pulled into a day use parking area, fixed lunch and explored our options. The weather report had the storm coming right over us with about 4 inches of rain and high winds.

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Caribou Monrose Provincial Park

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Caribou Monrose Provincial Park, too bad we missed it!

We considered going 3 hours into New Brunswick, but the predictions were actually worse there, the eye of the storm being less damaging. We found Peaceful River Campground a bit inland, with hookups and an open field where trees might not be a problem. We drove 30 minutes, seemingly in the middle of nowhere to find the campground.

Don checked us in. His wife was in the hospital with a gall bladder infection. This is a seasonal campground where everyone knows everyone. They had all been calling him to move their furniture inside and close their awnings. He took us to the campsite and guided us in, then started talking to the neighbors. Of course it was all about the storm. I had taken what I thought was a map of the campground, which it was, but it listed all the names of the seasonal campers. Jim and Sandra were our neighbors, but they were preparing things here before returning home to do the same at home.

Don said, “Aw hurricanes never come here. They hit the Caledonia Mountain and turn out to sea.” We talked about where we had been and going to PEI after the storm. Martha said she wasn’t taking the ferry, as it might be too rough. Don said they often close the 10-mile bridge when the winds are high. Geez! I’d rather be on a ferry!

They told us about a cute little town, Tatamagouche, where nothing has changed for 40 years. Don said the population in summer was 5,000, but in winter 110. We decided to go check it out. I was on 1/8 of a tank of gas, so I stopped on the edge of town to fill it up. People were in line, but fortunately the diesel pump was open. In Newfoundland I had to use the pin number to pump gas, but here I didn’t.

People kept lining up as an attendant talked to a guy in front of us whose license read “volunteer firefighter”. He was also filling a plastic gas can. The attendant said the grocery store running out of everything. Really?

Driving by Foodland, the parking lot was full. The little town sits on Tatamagouche Bay on the north side of Nova Scotia and faces Northumberland Straight between PEI and Nova Scotia. The little main street was busy. A brewery was filled with people on the side deck with sample flights of beer. We went in and ordered a couple of porters, which were good.

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The brewery sink!

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There were several restaurants on the street. We opted for the Chowder House Cafe. It’s a small place and was pretty full. Three young ladies were busy filling orders, running back to the kitchen and taking payments. Martha ordered a mussel appetizer and a salad. I ordered halibut with mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables. The mussels had sriracha on them, which mad them a little hot. There were also strong onions. It was good, but kind of takes away from the mussel flavor. Other than that, everything was good.

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I couldn’t help but wonder where these young ladies were from. There was Guatemalan coffee for sale in the corner, so maybe that was it. Wherever they were from, they were doing a great job.

On the way out of town we saw a sign for Creamery Street with an ice cream place on the corner. Ahhh, maybe tomorrow, if the hurricane doesn’t come. At the gas station, people were still lined up. Many were filling multiple portable gas tanks, probably for generators if the power goes out. I bet Martha a desert it would turn out to sea.

Argentia Ferry to North Sydney, Nova Scotia

Thursday, September 5, 2019

We were taking a 16-hour ferry ride over to Nova Scotia. The winds were blowing about 20 mph, and we were both a bit nervous about getting sick. It leaves at 5:00 pm and arrives at 9:00 am, so we bought a 2-bunk berth, but since there weren’t any, they gave us a 4-berth. The idea was to get some dinner and sleep through most of the trip.

We wanted to get out and do something, so Martha found a hike nearby. Argentia is a WWII US Navy base that was turned back over to Newfoundland, so there are gravel roads going everywhere. A sign pointing to a trail head took us up a narrow gravel road. One point made me grip the steering wheel and hold my breath. It was very narrow with a dropoff on the left where a creek ran under the road. I was just looking down at the creek when the right wheel went into a deep pothole. I about had a heart attack, thinking we were going over. 

We parked and walked up to find a big pond, probably used for fresh water for the base. There were several nice campsites and fire rings where people probably came to fish. A boardwalk led up the small mountain, so we followed it to a smaller gravel road winding through the woods. Blueberries lined the road, so we stopped to pick some, using my hat for a bucket. 

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Further up the road, a mountain biker passed us, saying there were lots of blueberries at the top. There were two forks in the gravel road, so we made mental notes of where to turn. After more blueberry picking, we saw a tall lookout spot at the top of the hill. 

Climbing up, we were rewarded with a wonderful view of the east side of the Burin Peninsula. Mountain islands emerged from the huge Placentia Bay in beautiful blue green waters. The sun peeked through the fog to show all the colors. 

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In the other direction we saw our huge ferry getting ready for the trip. Straight across was a huge oil project being built with hundreds of cars parked in a big lot. Obviously, our campground was busy because of these workers. I would discover this is the West White Rose project, a well head platform and piping infrastructure for offshore oil and gas industry. It is being built by Husky Energy and employs 700-800 workers.

Back at camp, we got cleaned up, hooked up and went down the hill to get in line for the ferry. They asked us if we had fruits and vegetables, which surprised us. We sat in our lane and waited for an hour before loading started. I’m always a bit nervous loading, even though I have done it many times. Keep your eye on the loader in front of you, get in your lane and never take your eyes off the loader until he tells you to stop. Then try and remember where you are. It will all look different when you come back down the stairs. What deck are you on? We were on G3. Which side, front or back?. Then you can’t see around huge tractor-trailers and campers. It would be nice if they had numbers up high from front to back, but this one didn’t. When all else fails, push the door lock on your key fob and see if you can recognize your car horn.

The strategy others followed going upstairs was to first find a prime seat in the lounge. Of course it helps if you have been on the boat before. We went to our cabin on the 8th floor first. We were surprised at how nice it was, with nice bunk beds, bathroom and shower. 

There were plenty of seats in a circular lounge with a bar, a game room and a small setup for a two-person music performance, which was quite entertaining. There were three options for dining, making it feel like a cruise ship. There was a little rocking as the ship got going, but not bad. People hit the bar pretty hard with beer the primary drink. We had dinner at the buffet, which was good, except I always eat too much at a buffet.

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We went up to the room and read books before falling asleep. In the middle of the night the waters got rough. I could hear and feel the  ship rising and crashing over big waves. We were probably in the main channel of the St. Lawrence. I dared not move, lying on my back, listening to Martha snore. By 6:00 am it became pretty calm again, so we got up, showered and went down for coffee and a muffin. We could see Nova Scotia in the distance. People-watching was entertaining. The Newfies were the ones in shorts and t-shirts.