October 14 Cleveland Museum of Art

Annelise has taken me to visit the utterly magnificent Cleveland Museum of Art every time I’ve stayed with her.


I love visiting old favorites, and there’s always new things for me to swoon over. This time, there was a new exhibit that had just opened, Painting the Modern Garden, Monet to Matisse.


It’s an incredible display of more than 100 works, mostly paintings. The exhibit will be traveling to London, but that’s the only other place it will be shown as a collection. It was very interesting to read the list all the different museums that had loaned pieces to the exhibit. The curators had been able to reassemble the three huge canvases that make up Monet’s most famous water lilies triptych. It filled one huge wall of the room. Alas, no photos were allowed of the exhibit, so you’ll just have to see it yourself. I wish I could have photographed two paintings by Matisse, one in 1917, during the worst year of the war, and the other 1919, when it was over. Both paintings have a powerful emotional impact. And look for the little round garden table that unites them. It’s more than worth the trip.

So then I visited some old friends in the museum. Here’s S-G’s Amor Caritas, which I found when I was first learning about S-G: P1020064 And here’s a painting I love because it looks like my handsome son:P1020060 and this is about it:P1020061

I love this photo of the guy with the green glasses–they were to protect his eyes from the bright light of Argand lamps, which were discussed and illustrated in an earlier post. Plus, he looks like a well-dressed Deadhead.P1020062 Audubon painted action  portrait of Peregrine falcons, which are my husband’s favorite birds:P1020063

These little ivory pieces had been tossed in a well when the town was invaded, and were found centuries later by Sir Max Mallowan, Agatha Christie’s husband.P1020065

Here’s some amazing pieces from the Central/South American collection that had been crafted long before the Europeans arrived. (Cue my usual rant about how successful and prosperous the indigenous peoples of the Americas were before the Europeans arrived to “save” and “convert” them.  harrumph.)P1020059 P1020058

Annelise recommended this Persian tent. There’s something about fabric art that really appeals to me. Though very different, I was reminded of the Bayeux Tapestry.P1020057 P1020056 P1020055 P1020054

Here’s one of a pair of huge griffins. This one is guarding a knight. The other is guarding a calf.P1020066  And all the icky creatures on this piece of 19th Century French porcelain caught my eye. Would you eat off this plate?P1020067

And that’s just a minuscule sample of the treasures at the museum. The Monet exhibit has an entry fee, but the museum itself is always free, and almost always open. Go visit it. You’ll love it.

On the way home, we stopped at another treasure, the Wade Chapel in the Lake View Cemetery.


All the artwork was designed by Louis Tiffany. I’ve visited it several times, and always find something new to exclaim about. Got a couple photos, but it doesn’t begin to convey the magnificence of the chapel. Stop there, too. It’s free.P1020069 P1020068

Annelise and I have been on a cooking binge. We’ve made risotto, chocolate chip cookies, and even some fruitcakes. She’s made pizza for dinner tonight, and we’ll make one of my specialties, arroz con pollo, chicken with rice, for company on Friday. Yum.


October 10 Saint-Gaudens/Cornish

Hello again. I’m still on my adventure, and today promises to be an amazing experience.

After finishing up with Road Scholar, I flew to Cleveland to join up with my friends Annelise and Bob, and their two wonderful kitties, Ivan and Felix, P1020053and Lucy the Dog.P1020072. On Friday, we set out on our road trip. I remember all the complaining we did in Maine and Canada about the lack of “Fall Color.” Let me tell you, it’s out in spades now. Even on a cloudy, drizzly day, I truly thought some of the trees had caught on fire, the leaves were such brilliant shades of red and scarlet. P1020051 Friday night, we had made it to Plattsburgh, New York, to stay with (and be cossetted by) Jack and Peg, Annelise’s uncle and aunt. I had met them briefly before, and it was great to chat with them again. Jack is a retired history professor, and we discussed the Battle of Castine, as we learned about on the trip.

On Saturday, we were on the road early, with a care package from Aunt Peg, who drove us to the ferry so we wouldn’t get lost. We were on our way to Cornish, New Hampshire, to the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site.


We got there late morning, and got tickets for a tour of the house. Then we started looking at the sculptures. My photos don’t begin to do the sculptures justice. Here’s a head portion from one of the famous Lincoln statues–not sure if it was the Standing or Seated Lincoln. But whichever, wow!P1020030 Here’s the first big commission, the one that brought him fame and prestige, and enough money to marry his sweetheart. It’s the Civil War admiral David Farragut. P1020029If you look closely, you can see that one of the buttons on his coat didn’t get buttoned. I love the way his legs are braced against the movement of the ship. The statue is on a bluestone stand that was designed by the famous architect Stanford White. In the 30s, the original stand was deemed not to be in good shape, so it was removed and replaced by a granite stand. The original stand was then sent to Cornish for this copy of the statue. So the original stand is with the copy statue, and the copy stand with the original statue. Here’s another photo of the statue and stand, in its shelter:P1020028

Here’s some other masterpieces he did: P1020045 P1020043 P1020042 P1020040 P1020039 P1020035 P1020034

Here’s one that blew me away. It’s of General Sherman. The entire monument is Sherman on a horse, but this is just a study of the head. Sherman was NOT a cooperative subject, and it took 17 sittings before S-G was satisfied. Look how untidy his neckcloth was:P1020037 The head was life-size, and seemed so alive that I was intimidated being near him, and I expected him to start yelling at me.

Here’s a lovely painting of Homer, S-G’s son, by John Singer Sargent. That’s his mother, reading to him, to try and keep him in his pose. But he wasn’t cooperating. He had a pet goat named Seasick who taught him how fun it was to headbutt people, so Homer took that up. Sargent apparently sat on him at one point to stress who was in charge of the situation. But the painting is absolutely luminous. It’s in the S-G home. P1020049

S-G signed most of his works with his initials ASG intertwined. I couldn’t get a good photo of it, but tried:P1020044

So remember all the raving I did about the Shaw Memorial in Boston? Even after it was exhibited to absolutely universal acclaim, S-G did another copy with things he wanted to change, something about the flags in the back, and Shaw’s sword, and the angel on top. Annelise said she can see the difference in the sword. Here’s a couple photos:P1020038 P1020046 Go back to the other post, and see if you can see the difference. They had a photograph, taken when the monument was unveiled, of soldiers from the same regiment that marched under Shaw and who had survived the war, and now were elderly black men. At the dedication, they were marching past the monument, the same route they took when heading out of Boston in 1863. It was incredibly powerful.

Here’s his famous Amour Caritas–apparently he had this cast many times, and sold the copies, and it provided him with a lot of money. It’s worth it.P1020032

Here’s a couple photos taken outside the house–it was lovely in its autumn splendor:P1020047 P1020048And here’s a photo of the dining room:P1020050

I’ve been inside several houses on this trip that were furnished as museum pieces of the 19th Century. Gotta say the artwork in this one was the best ever. It looked wonderfully livable.

Here’s another photo. It’s a cat, as sculpted by S-G’s nephew, the son of his brother, Louis. There’s a very funny story that he had a terrible time getting the cat to pose, as it kept leaving to curl up in a warmer part of the house. He closed off the escape route, and found the cat would pose happily in a chair recently warmed by a human bottom.P1020027

We went back to Plattsburgh for more spoiling, then headed home the next day. We had to stop for one more photo of the gorgeous fall landscape:P1020052

October 6 Bar Harbor/Acadian National Park

Good morning. This is the last full day of our adventure. The motel we’re staying in is a bit outside of Bar Harbor, and each of our rooms has a balcony, which I haven’t spent nearly enough time on. But here’s the sunrise, seen from the balcony:P1010995

It’s worth getting up in the morning, just for the view.

Okay, we could leave the luggage and and the increasingly large piles of laundry in the hotel rooms, and off we go on our adventure at the Acadian National Park. We finally found what passed for adequate “Fall Color” so we all have a photo of the same tree: P1010996

On the way in, Linda pointed out a beaver lodge, so some of us piled out to take photos. P1010999

And John noticed a nearby beaver dam:P1020001

Way cool, though of course it was the wrong time of day for beavers. Mary warned us about ticks. Several times.

We caught up with the group at the information center by the Precipice Trail. There was the gift shop, of course, and a series of trails.  Mary was thrilled to purchase a Senior Pass for the National Park System. Then I pointed out to her the official “passport” for recording every park she visited. She bought it. Then I showed here where the first stamp was so she could mark her visit to the park. By the end of the day, she had already collected four stamps!  Time constraints prevented Alice and me from climbing to the top, though we walked far enough to see the wigwam:P1020002 and the local branch of the Abbe Museum (more about that later):P1020003 There were some alluring “paths not taken” that at least I was able to get a photo of. Maybe next trip:P1020005P1020007  Rumor was that a couple from the group had climbed up to the very top here:P1020006 Then, still cruising around in this incredible place, we arrived at the “Thunder Hole” where the waves, crashing in, are forced into a very narrow chute, and, as a result, crash more spectacularly:P1020013 As we watched, we could see why visitors were no longer allowed in the walkway close to the waves.

This park consists mostly of tracts of acreage purchased in the early 1900s by millionaires who vacationed on the island. They eventually talked the National Park System into taking over management of the park. John D. Rockefeller gave a large chunk of land, and also was intimately involved in development of the park. He paid for 16 bridges that were constructed on the roads. Didn’t get photos, as we were driving. They were big enough for our huge bus to pass under. All were gorgeously, uniquely designed, and are worth visiting for their own merits. Much of Rockefeller’s fortune came from oil, but he hated the noisy new autos, and instead paid for the building of 45 miles of auto-free roads within the park. They’re still auto free, and used by hikers, horseback riders, horse-drawn carriages, and bicyclists. I think it would be a fabulous way to see the park.


The cyclists we saw certainly seemed to be having a good time.

Lunch was at the Jordan Pond House Restaurant within the park. We had a reservation, which was great, as there was a huge number of folks hoping to get fed, and there was still an equally large number waiting when we left. The house favorite are popovers, which seemed spendy at $4 each. But we were hungry, and our waiter passed them around, and we all had two, with butter and jam. Sandwiches for lunch. The quinoa salad, accented with nuts and cranberries and carrots, was absolutely fabulous. I would have enjoyed just the salad. No photos, but it wasn’t much to look at.

After lunch, we were directed to go outside and see as much as we could by 2:30. For Alice and me, that meant a brisk walk about the Jordan Pond Trail. It was great. We went the reverse of the usual way, which was a good thing. The more difficult walking, balancing on planks and climbing around rocks, were in the first half of our trek, while folks who had an easy first half had tougher going at the end. There was much to see, when we didn’t have to look where we were going.P1020014  This whimsical structure (obviously not a Rockefeller bridge; it looks like a coat hanger on steroids,) marked the half way point in our walk:P1020016 They were a little coy about the distance around the pond. But John noticed two signs, pointing to the north and south sides, and each indicating it was 1.5 miles to the other shore. So we decided the distance around the pond was a vigorous three miles. It was wonderful to walk briskly and talk honestly and enjoy how peaceful and beautiful everything was. Just magnificent.

After the walk, we all piled onto the bus and drove to Cadillac Mountain. I was too tired to walk around much, but we got another group photo:P1020019 and one more magnificent landscape, in case we didn’t have enough photos of them: P1020018 And Linda lured Joe away from the bus long enough so we could practice the song we were going to sing to Joe that evening.

We finally finished at the park, and headed for home. Joe dropped most of the tired, dirty travelers off at the hotel (rumors of lounging on the balconies) and took five of us into town for an hour. Rick and Sally wanted to walk in on their own. I wanted to see the Abbe Museum, right across from the Anglican church  .http://www.abbemuseum.org/ It has a lot of interesting information about archaeology, and how methods and technology have evolved over time since the first work was done in the area in the 1920s. The Abbe seems to have another mission, that of encouraging the preservation and passing down of native skills. There was a beautiful new canoe, sleek and elegant, and these wonderful new baskets, which all looked like berries:P1020024 and another basket, which looked like a wedding cake:P1020022 here’s  photo of some of the artifacts I found:P1020021 P1020023 Look closely on the big brown circle for the picture of the moose, which seems to be everyone’s favorite animal around here. Tom showed up at the museum, and enjoyed the exhibits, too.

Then Joe drove us back to the hotel, and it was time to get cleaned up and dressed for our grand farewell dinner. Linda especially liked my fancy top. Most of the group had ordered lobster, but after witnessing the ordeal with the first lobster dinner, I had opted for the vegetarian option. And it was one of the best meals of the trip, which is really saying something. We all had an ear of corn on the cob and some potato wedges. I hadn’t realized it’s a cultural identification, if one scrapes the corn off the cob, and then eats the kernels, or if one simply gnaws on the ear. Whatever. And of course potatoes because they’re all grown locally. My entree was a portabella mushroom, cooked, and topped with a tall tower of couscous, artichoke, spinach, and seasoning. I’m sorry I didn’t get a photo–it didn’t look nearly as fabulous as it tasted. I ate every bite. Then Mike, the maitre d’, served us all a slice of blueberry pie with a dollop of sweetened, flavored whipped cream. It was delicious, but I think nothing could surpass the pie we’d scarfed up at lunch yesterday. Some requested ice cream for their pie, but it just wasn’t the same. Mary bought me a glass of pinot grigio, which was divine.

When we finally finished eating, Linda handed around these great certificates, supposedly signed by Champlain, indicating we all belonged to his Order of Good Cheer. We even had our name inscribed on our individual copy. Then we took turns talking about what we enjoyed most about the trip. I think most of us were in agreement of what the high points were. I mentioned the pumpkin patch, and petting a cat there. They agreed with the former, not the latter. Linda talked about all the activities, and how they all came together perfectly. We ended with singing the Busdriver Song to Joe. He didn’t cry, as promised, but he was touched, and talked about how much he enjoyed working with Linda and Road Scholar. Then it was time for the long, last walk to the hotel, and bed, and sweet dreams about these marvelous last two weeks. And for the first time since I started the trip, I passed 20,000 steps on my pedometer. A perfect ending.

Good bye.

October 5 Bar Harbor

Good morning. This is our last morning in Canada. But I’m feeling hurried and tired and not particularly nostalgic. We were allowed some input about our breakfast, finally. Everybody ordered fresh fruit instead of hash browns. I think so many potatoes are grown around here that they always end up on the menu. But the toast and juice were great.

So we piled into the bus again, and were joined by two older guys, a tag team of history buffs named, I think, David and Patrick. One cleverly said the other always told the truth, but he didn’t, so then I was thinking I should believe both of them, or neither of them. They drove us out to the reversing falls. http://new-brunswick.net/Saint_John/reversingfalls/reversing.html

Alas, they weren’t reversing at the time, and it had gotten so foggy it was hard to see anything. There’s a whole bank of buildings hidden by the fog in this photo:  P1010983They had a wonderful story about a Native American legend regarding the reversing falls, involving their chief god and the Giant Beaver. My money would be on the beaver. But the first residents portaged their canoes by land to avoid the falls, as they didn’t think they were safe. We then cruised around St. John, and heard about the Irvings, a local family that was very, very rich. Sounds like the Kochs. And the big fire in the late 1800s, after which a lot of wooden charred ruins were replaced with brick buildings. But the majority of the houses we saw were in the same style of so many that we’ve seen on our tour. So I just enjoyed them, but didn’t take photos. David was remarking about how high taxes were, but then he admitted he’d just spend a couple nights in the emergency room suffering from four kidney stones, and it hadn’t cost him a (Canadian bluenose) dime, so there is a balance.

There were a couple cruise ships parked in the harbor (we now make plans thinking to get somewhere before the cruise ship arrives and unloads its thousands of passengers.) David remarked that he avoids the downtown area when there’s a cruise ship docked in town. He obviously seemed to wish they wouldn’t visit, but also had to consider how much money they brought into the local economy.

We ended up at a very vibrant and bustling public market which had all kinds of cool stuff. Most of us bought some dulce, the seaweed Ranger Rick told us about. I got that and a cup of tea. Some of the group were making deals to spend the last of their Canadian money, and there were many good selections to be made.Then  I went to the nearby old graveyard and looked at tombstones. The ones of children were the saddest.

Linda had distributed the customs forms for when we crossed the border, and explained that the pumpkin stand was NOT a farm, and told us NOT to use the bathroom on the bus or take photos while near the border. So by the time we got to the border, everyone, of course, was frantic to use a bathroom and wanted to see if their cell phones worked again, as they hadn’t paid extra for them to work in Canada. And they wouldn’t let us use the bathroom until they were done searching the bus, and then they told us to leave without using the bathroom (which only had one stall.) So Joe took us to a place down the road a bit, and we all ran into the bathrooms. After which, we all started complaining about how hungry we were.

Lunch, thank heavens, was next. It was at Helen’s Restaurant in Machias, Maine. No, I’d never heard of it before, either. We had a small menu to choose from. But then we got to have a piece of pie! for dessert. And it included their famous blueberry pie. We checked out the display case, and were drooling by the time we got back to our seats. Of the six people at our table, five had blueberry pie with ice cream; one had blueberry pie without ice cream. wow. I couldn’t even stop eating long enough to get a photo until I was here:P1010984 I wish I had another slice right about now.

Then we waddled back into the bus for the ride to Bar Harbor (or as the t-shirt says, “Bah Habah.”) Everybody was busy with their cell phones, but Linda played an old 80s video about catching, cooking, and extracting the meat from lobsters. I got way too squeamish and had to stop watching, while vowing I would never ever eat lobster again.

We made it to our hotel outside Bar Harbor, and were welcomed by the sign:P1010992Much hilarity ensued. I headed off to town–it was just over a mile to the post office. I really wanted some exercise and wanted to get there before the post office closed, so I couldn’t wait until the bus went in at 5 PM. I got there at 4:25 (they close at 4:30) and the clerks were patient and helpful, and one was holding the bag of outgoing mail open for my package while the truck was waiting outside, and it all worked out. whew! Thank you!

Then I wandered around Bar Harbor. It kinda reminded me of Santa Barbara–lots of little dogs, lots of tourists, a sprinkling of 1%ers. Here’s a couple photos from the harbor:P1010986 P1010985 Many of the huge mansions built by the wealthy summer residents in the late 1800s have been converted to hotels or b&b’s. There seemed to be an incredible amount of car traffic for a small town, especially since the season was slowing down. I didn’t take photos, but enjoyed the architecture, as well as how good the houses looked in their settings–it was a perfect fit. There’s something called the Abbe Museum that has many Native American artifacts. Will try for that tomorrow. Found this place, where it looks like it’d be fun to stay. I wonder if they have resident cats?P1010987 Ran into Tim and Charlotte in the grocery store, which apparently used to be a stable. And the current municipal building, across the street, used to be the high school. On the way back to the hotel, stopped to photograph what may be as close as I get to wild life: P1010988 P1010989 and a couple of sunset shots from the little wharf by the hotel: P1010993 P1010994Talked to a couple from Missouri, and took a photo of them using their camera, and told them about Road Scholars. In my room, I discovered I had a walk-in shower, not just the tub with a curtain as at all the other hotels. Had a lovely shower, several minutes longer than my usual California shower. Then it was time to write a post.

Now it’s time for bed. Good night.

October 4 Halifax-St. John

Good morning! We suddenly have a melancholy feeling that this trip might not last forever; that we might be summoned back to the worlds we left behind. Also, I think we’re getting really tired. We’re all looking forward to dozing in the bus, especially after lunch. The weather has turned sunny again. It’s warmer than yesterday, and no sign of the rain we had for several days. So we packed up our bulging suitcases (we’ve been hitting the gift shops again) and climbed on the bus to head out of Halifax. I’m sorry I never made it to the Maritime Museum here, and I’m sure there’s other cool stuff I missed, but would need a couple more weeks for a thorough visit. One cool thing about the hotel we stayed at: In my hotel room there was a crate for recycling, and on the side of that was a little basket labeled “organic” which I presume was for food waste. What a wonderful idea! And yes, I used it.

Our first stop of the day was something new for Linda. I’m not sure how she heard about it, but one phone call and it was set up. It was a visit to a pumpkin patch that specialized in huge pumpkins. Here’s what greeted us: P1010958 It was just fabulous. I had Charlotte stand by one to get some perspective (though Charlotte’s not very tall):P1010960 Some of the pumpkins had their weight written on them:P1010962 I was trying to think when growing season starts, and it couldn’t be before March or April, even starting the seeds indoors, and the fruit won’t show up until well after that. So the pumpkins must gain several pounds a day as they’re growing. wow. They also had photos, though I didn’t see them, of some pumpkin races that are held, using the pumpkins as the coach, just like Cinderella. Except it’s a regatta, and the pumpkins are the boats. http://worldsbiggestpumpkins.com/ Though the clerk was talking about the various pumpkin farmers, and they all seem to be having back problems–I guess schlepping the pumpkins around causes some occupational hazards.

So they had lots of huge pumpkins, and pumpkins still in the fields:P1010963 P1010964 And they had produce other than pumpkins:P1010965 P1010961 They had some lovely white pumpkins:P1010966 And this was so cool: they sold pumpkin seeds, including seeds that could be used to grow really huge pumpkins, though the warning on the seed packets put the pumpkins in the 300-500 pound range, not the 1,000 pound size of the biggies here. But my son would just love to grow huge pumpkins, so I bought several packages of seeds for him. The clerk at the cash register (everyone working there was wearing an orange coat. Go figure.) pointed out a huge patch in the field, and told me “Those are just two plants,” meaning I had just purchased enough seeds for the entire state of Oregon. That was fine. All the seeds came with some guarantee to get them across the border into the US. I think almost everyone from the group bought seeds. They didn’t have seeds for the white pumpkins, which was too bad. This should definitely be a regular stop for the fall tours.

Then, the real highlight of the visit for me: I got to pet a cat. I had seen a calico wandering around, and followed her, making icky kissy sounds and chirpy noises. She kept walking, but I finally got her close enough to let her sniff my fingers, and she allowed me a couple strokes before she wandered away, bored. And I got a photo: P1010967

It certainly made my day.

Our next stop of the day was at Grand Pre, meaning “Big Meadow” the site of a UNESCO World Heritage Site commemorating the expulsions of the Acadians from Acadia. There was a video and artifacts and lots of interesting, though excruciating, things to see. There was also interesting illustrations and even some very old carved logs that had been used to drain the marshes that became the farms of the Acadians. There was also quite a bit about Longfellow’s poem Evangeline, and most of us promised to read it. Many of the Acadians came from Poitou, and after living in Acadia for generations, they probably didn’t feel particularly French anymore, despite being French-speaking Catholics, and certainly had no wish to be British. I think it fascinating that they had such good relations with the local Native Americans, the Mi’kmaq. The actions by the English in expelling them seemed little short of genocide. Even a non-religious person can hope there’s a special corner in hell for the officials who ordered it all.

So, here’s a photo of the statue of Evangeline, who is supposed to look young from one angle, and older from another, though I didn’t see that. Behind her is a chapel built in the 20th Century in the approximate spot of the chapel used by the Acadians.P1010968

This is a photo of a blacksmith’s shop that had been built in the early 1800s. The furnishings, the windows, everything in the shop seemed equally old and authentic. I thought it was fascinating: P1010970 (I was having trouble with the sun. sorry.) And inside the shop was the special stall built to hold oxen immobile while they were being fitted with shoes. I can imagine it would be a difficult process. P1010969 On the way back from the blacksmith’s I passed the garden and the orchard of the site. I think there’s a hiking trail on a disused railroad track that I took back to the museum. And I passed a raspberry bush with a few ripe berries still on it. So I took a photo (before picking the berries.)P1010971

The next stop in our hectic schedule was lunch at the Port Gastropub in Port Williams. https://www.theportpub.com/

It’s by a river that experiences huge tidal changes, though it was just pretty low and quiet while we were there. There’s a lovely outdoor seating area, though they had us sit inside. We had about four choices from the little menus they gave us. All sounded really wonderful. I ended up with fish and chips, and it was all delicious. The tartar sauce was divine! Everybody enjoyed whatever they ordered; it was all delectable. I got only one cup of tepid tea, but again, serving 21 people at one table, all at once, must have been a struggle for the staff.

Next stop was at a power station. I think it was the Annapolis Royal Generating Station.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annapolis_Royal_Generating_Station  An extraordinarily articulate. funny, and honest company official named Les gave us the tour, trying to explain how they used turbines to create energy, and as he said, they were still at the beginning of a very long learning curve. Existing technology was unsuited to such huge tides as they experienced, and in the early days, there wasn’t much concern about environmental damage. So several missteps occurred on the way to what is now an amazingly functioning, responsible method of providing hydroelectric power. They’re trying the same in the Bay of Fundy, but the extreme tides there have created a whole new crop of issues. At least, that’s as much as I grasped, which could still be wrong. I think John and Tom understood it all, though I didn’t understand John’s questions much, either. But I did enjoy reading how they accommodated ospreys who thought power poles were the perfect spot to build their nests, and got a photo of one they had: P1010972

Then we had time for a quick stop in Annapolis Royal. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annapolis_Royal   I must confess total ignorance about the town. It’s the oldest town north of St. Augustine, Florida, Linda said, and as we trudged down the little main street, she told us we were walking on the oldest street in Canada. Amazing. There’s an gorgeous flower garden there, though it was mostly blowsy roses by this time. They gave us a little map, but with my lack of a sense of direction, and no information on the houses themselves, we had a hard time identifying the historic houses that are all over the town. So I just took photos of what caught my eye, and much did. I’ll try to figure them out later, and update this. Just enjoy the views.P1010976 P1010975 P1010974Some of them date from the early 1700s. I’m amazed any survived all the battles over the town between various armies. Linda said the population of the town was 500, but I was thinking it had to be more than that. Well, the 2011 census said 481, so whatever.

Then we were off to catch the big ferry to St. John. It would be a long trip, and Alice and I were in the TV lounge, trying not to watch a truly horrendous movie. It was awful. We’d all been given $12. vouchers to buy our dinners on the ferry. It was kind of funny, these sophisticated travelers really agonizing about what they would buy with the $12, knowing they wouldn’t get any change back, but would have to pay for anything about $12. We all managed to find something. I did get a couple photos. This shows some salmon farms near where the ferry starts:P1010979 And this is the sunset as we got closer to St. John:P1010981

We got into the hotel, and the more adventuresome travelers went out into the evening to check out St. John, and look for the famous farmers’ market. I settled in. Good night.

October 3 Halifax

Good morning. This is our Tour de Halifax Day.(d’Halifax?) Breakfast was a plated meal in the hotel cafe. It was okay, though we were reminiscing fondly about containers of yogurt and cooked oatmeal that we’d have preferred. Some of the group went out last night for fancy dinners. I think some might have gone in search of live music. Your faithful scribe was here, working on posts. The window of my hotel room looks directly out on a busy street, and there’s a bus stop just across the street. I enjoy watching all the real live vignettes that occur as people are just getting through their day.

This post will have lots of photos, less text. Everything we saw was so visually stunning.

Our first stop of the day was Peggy’s Cove, a hour’s drive or so out of town. http://www.peggyscoveregion.com/

The area has some impressive rocks–Linda mentioned  the last glacier that scraped off all the top soil and dumped it to form Cape Cod. So I guess tourists need to be careful on the slippery rocks, especially the black ones. I just loved this warning: P1010912The editor in me wants to make one word of “sightseers” but that’s just me. Loved the rest. This was also a chance for Linda to take all our cameras for a group photo. Here we are: P1010910 I seem compelled to photograph every iconic white lighthouse and every white wooden Anglican church I find. So I did that again. The church was locked, so at least you don’t have to admire the inside: P1010913 P1010921

And I saw a bird! I’m quite sure it was a bittern. Sorry it’s not a better photo. I didn’t have the camera ready when the bird flew right by me. darn. P1010916 Peggy’s Cove is quite an artists’ colony. I just loved this sign. I looked more closely at the art work in the photo, and it’s mostly cords and yarn glued into the shapes.P1010918 A local artist, William deGarthe, was originally from Finland. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_E._deGarthe  He began carving a huge chunk of granite in his yard as a tribute to local fishermen. He died before completing the work (though it looks finished to me.) The white square in the sculpture apparently contains his ashes. And the carving on the white means something, too. What do you think? P1010919 P1010920

And just in case you still don’t have an idea how attractive Peggy’s Cove is, here’s a couple more photos: P1010914 P1010917

Our second stop of the day was the Fairview Cemetery near Halifax. It’s famous as the burial site for a number of victims of the Titanic disaster. Some have names, some don’t. Some have names that were added after the burial. The child buried in the Unknown Child monument was later identified, though his family indicated the monument is still for all the children lost in the shipwreck.  There is a tombstone bearing the name given to the DeCaprio character  in the movie. P1010923 P1010922

The cemetery was very interesting. Lots of 19th and 20th Century tombstones, but even the more recent ones looked very old fashioned. So it made the whole cemetery seem very old. Many victims of the Titanic were buried at sea, as I guess it was just impossible to bring them all back to land for burial. Some of the identified victims were shipped to their homes for burial.

Lunch was next, at the Swiss Chalet in Halifax. They tried, but were overwhelmed by so many plates to prepare at once. I ordered poutine, as I’d never had it. P1010924It was incredibly rich, and way too much for one person. Some folks with me helped work on it, but I couldn’t finish them. The veggie burger was good, though. Had a nice chat with Mary. She was so cold we decided it was a “two dog diner” as I scooched up next to her. We talked cooking, including the minutiae of making proper risotto. I think our neighbors were ready to sample some.

Sometime during our day, while we were in the bus, I was chipping at Linda so much that she gave me the microphone, and I was able to share an account of the rush to create heirs following the death of Princess Charlotte in childbirth. It was probably way more gossip about the House of Hanover than anyone really needed, but I enjoyed my two minutes in the limelight.

Our next stop was at the Halifax Public Gardens. http://www.halifaxpublicgardens.ca/

The Gardens were an amazingly enthusiastic and welcome green space in a big city. The stars of the show were the prize-winning dahlias, ridiculously showy and sumptuous, as well as geometrically perfect. Look at these!P1010935 P1010934 P1010933 And these were special gardens commemorating specific events. One has something about “the Year of Soils” and the other referred to a future destination.  I loved the symmetry and color combinations. P1010930 P1010926

And here’s a couple more photos of the garden for your refreshment and enlightenment: P1010927 P1010931 P1010932 I guess the bandstand is a popular venue for weddings. It had almost stopped drizzling by now, but there was this pervasive damp, penetrating cold. I was cold enough not to have a hot flash all afternoon, which was wonderful. But I was thinking longingly of a hot soak back at the hotel.

Joe, the driver, had a hilarious story in which he had tried to placate a bunch of women friends he was driving about who were complaining about the cold. He assured them they’d be warmer in the bus just by them all being in the same place, the same way a number of cows in a barn can warm it up. Now they moo when they see him. At least no one mentioned flatulence (until I did.)

Our next treat was the Citadel, the old hilltop fort established by the British to protect their precious harbor and city. http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/lhn-nhs/ns/halifax/index.aspx

The fortress is staffed by Canadian parks employees, wearing the uniform of a Highland regiment. So there were lots of kilts. And because of the chill weather, this was the first day they were wearing the wool greatcoats. P1010943 We arrived in time for the Changing of the Guard, and also got to observe a soldier firing the old-fashioned rifles they used when the fort was operational. This young soldier is Barry, and he was our guide. He was funny, knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and an excellent raconteur. He showed us all around the fort, including a walk through a totally dark subterranean passage with an uneven floor. We sure were glad to get through that. P1010948 P1010942 P1010939

Barry was very responsive to our questions, and I’m so glad no one asked what he wore under his kilt. Here’s the view from the wall: P1010954 The hill the Citadel was built on was actually hollowed out, and the fort constructed within the hollow, making it a much smaller target for an invading army. (It was never actually attacked in its present form.)  Here’s a couple more photos:P1010950 P1010953 P1010952

The last outing of the day was a trip to the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. http://www.pier21.ca/home/

This area of the port was the chief landing and (hopefully) launching spot for immigrants to Canada from early in the 20th Century to the 1970s. By then, most immigrants were arriving by airplane, and the combination of harbor and railway for receiving and processing immigrants was no longer necessary. Our guide was Fraser, who said that his grandfather had arrived at Pier 21 as a a young man, an immigrant. It was a fascinating look at the facilities and the processes at the time. What was coolest was a series of large manila tags hanging up in one area. Visitors could write on a tag, telling their own or a family member’s immigrant tale. We read a few, and they were compelling and heart-warming. What a wonderful idea. There was also a video Fraser showed, but Alice and I skipped out and didn’t see that. Augusta stayed and watched it, and said it was very touching. It was mostly immigrants telling the stories of what brought them to Canada, and their life once here.   Alice and I had hurried to the nearby Farmers’ Market, but it was closed for the day. darn. And I didn’t take any photos

Well, I did take some photos of the Eskimo carvings in the gift shop. They were beyond fabulous. P1010956 P1010957 P1010955 The dancing bears were the best!

Joe was willing to drop of anyone who wanted to catch the Cows ice cream shop by the waterfront before it closed. I had had some in Charlottetown, and wanted more. John and Mary had missed the opportunity then, so the three of us hopped off. We were the Oregon Contingent. John led us through the labyrinth (including the piper who was busking on the plaza) to Cows. yes! We each enjoyed a cone while admiring all the non-edible merchandise. I think my favorite parody was “Moogle” for Google printed on a t-shirt. Every item had “This is a parody” in little letters on it. I wonder if that had to do with law suits? Then they led me back to the hotel. I stopped for a salad at Subway, and was done with a most enjoyable day.

Good night!

October 2 Cape Breton to Halifax

Good morning. This is our last morning on Cape Breton, though I really, really, want to return someday. We had the usual breakfast in Gisele’s dining room, and then loaded up the bus. We drove only a short way, into Baddeck, to the Alexander Graham Bell museum there. We had seen a video about Bell the day before on the bus, which had given us a very good introduction to this amazing man.


I didn’t spend a lot of time in the museum, though it was very interesting. I did get a photo of a reconstruction of the first airplane to fly in Canada, which he had designed:


It’s hard to get a photo that shows all the amazing details of the plane. Bell also helped design early hydrofoils. What I found most amazing was that he seemed to have been the first to have the concept and term of “greenhouse gases” and worried about usage of fossil fuels and sustainability, and he even designed a simple machine that utilized solar energy.

I then left for a last walk around Baddeck. I took a photo of the library’s bookmobile, in honor of having driven one for 15 years: P1010899

I wanted to see what Baddeck looked like from the water. Here’s a view:P1010898 Then a couple views from the wharf: P1010896 P1010897

This wonderful ancient building houses, I think, a home decorating business:P1010895

Then it was time to hop on the bus, and off we went to the causeway that connects Cape Breton with Nova Scotia. My whining to Linda, and her own duties, necessitated a stop near the gift shop that had a fabulous end-of-season sale last time we stopped. So despite Linda’s maxim that “Road Scholars don’t shop,” we poured into the store, and soon there was such a crush at the cash register that the clerk requested us to get in line. I found some gifts for the guys (which I might keep for myself) and some stuff for me. Way cool stuff. Back on the bus, we watched a video about the catastrophic explosion in Halifax’s harbor in 1917. I fear I dozed off before it was over. I had first learned of the explosion from reading Robert MacNeil’s Burden of Desire. It’s a fabulous book.  It’s set just after the explosion, and the central character is the widow of a soldier who died in Europe in the Great War.

Then a stop for lunch at Smitty’s in Truro. Not great, but it was late, we were hungry, and, as always, the company was excellent. After lunch, back on the bus, another video. This one was about Bluenose, the most famous schooner of all. I think I have a framed print of it back home, and am really curious about that. Bluenose’s fate reflects the failing fortunes of the wooden fishing fleet in the area. It was also the winner, for a number of years, of a hotly-contested race between the best fishing schooner of Lunenberg and that of Gloucester, Massachusetts. A Bluenose II was built around 1960, and that has also been reconstructed, and sails during the summer months.


Once we settled in our hotel (and checked email) Alice and I decided to cruise around downtown Halifax. We had no dinner plans, so I bought some celery, carrots, an orange and a banana for my dinner–feeling the need for fewer calories and more veggies. Halifax is certainly a thriving town, and very photogenic:  P1010904 P1010903

We had gone by St. Paul’s Cathedral, the oldest Anglican cathedral in North America, and I definitely wanted to see inside it. P1010901 P1010900And so, when we saw a little notice that a Blessings of the Animals would happen at 6:30 this evening, we made sure to be back for it. The vicar and congregation were welcoming and friendly, the dogs had a great time, and the interior of the church was beautiful, sacred, and historic. I loved it. P1010909 P1010908 P1010906 P1010905

That was a a lovely way to end the day. Back to the hotel to soak in the bath, write, and eat produce. yum.Bubba Maurice Drouin-Lynch (1)While we’re on the subject of animals, here’s a photo of my boy cat, Bubba, helping my son weed in the garden. I miss both of them, but they’re back in Eugene, enjoying a late summer.