SkyMed in the desert

img_0325We are nearing the end of our time in Yuma, Arizona, representing SkyMed International.

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Yummy Dates!

 

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Coconut with pineapple juice sweet

 

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We have been “working” 6 days a week providing seminars (along with a lunch or wine & cheese social) in about 45 RV Resorts. And we spent 10 days at the Quartzsite Sports & RV Show.

img_0329It was so-o-o cold and windy for the whole week while we were boondocking (dry camping) without electricity, water or sewer.  But we do have solar power and propane so we were fine!

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Quartzsite Sports and R.V. Show
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Jack at our “booth”

Just to let you know, we were #1 in January for sales in our Southwest Division and so far in February we are leading the entire company!

We really believe in SkyMed’s services and are honored to educate people about this important information.  Plus…we are “earning” some good travel money.

We did a little playing too-golf, geocaching, winning at the casinos! and exploring the desert.

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S*W*A*G Mega Event-geocaching in SouthWest Arizona

 

Speaking of travel, we are working on our summer 2017 travel plans.  We are planning to spend 5 months traveling in Europe from Portugal to Ireland.  We will be cruising across the “pond” on a 2-week cruise ending in Lisbon, Portugal.

img_0379To make it even more unique and adventurous, we are flying from Florida to Columbia and departing from Cartagena on the Monarch, a Spanish cruise line called Pullmantur.  This is a Spanish company and so most of our fellow passengers will be Spanish-speaking.  Since we do speak a little Spanish, we are looking forward to improving our conversational language.  After all, an immersion class on a transatlantic cruise can’t be that bad!!

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We’ve book an AirBnB apartment for 3 days in Lisbon then will fly up to England where we have arranged to “house sit” for 2 weeks in a village called Sulgrave.

Sulgrave is a small village surrounded by the rolling farmland of South Northamptonshire, England, near the town of Banbury. It has a population of around 380 people of all age groups covering a broad spectrum of occupations. Village features include the remains of a Norman Castle, a medieval church, the Tudor Manor House (once the home of ancestors of George Washington, first president of the United States of America), an 18th century School House (now the community shop) and a traditional pub.

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Eagle House (our house sitting site)

 

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Eagle House gardens

This is something we have heard about from other travelers and we have wanted to do this for a while.  We will be living in an old Georgian 5-bedroom house and caring for “Velvet”, a black lab, and “Lettuce” a smaller terrier.  We are really excited for this opportunity as well really getting to enjoy the slow, extensive exposure to new surroundings.

 

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Frankly, to afford 5 months in Europe, we need to travel frugally, and Air BnB, HouseSitting and using our time-shares will really help spread our money.  More to come as we get closer.

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A Very Meaningful Christmas

This year we decided to take a cruise over Christmas- but not just any cruise. We discovered a very unique and meaningful cruise on the Fathom “Anadonia” to the Dominican Republic called impact travel. This is how Fathom describes the experience:

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“Impact Travel is a whole new category of travel: it’s travel with purpose. Travel that transforms lives. Sometimes including your own. Impact travel with Fathom provides the opportunity to build community with like-minded travelers, become immersed in another culture, and work alongside its people to create enduring social impact.

Every Fathom™ journey is based on our sincere belief that the person-to-person connection is among the strongest catalysts for transformation. What sets Fathom apart is the long-term, systematic partnership approach with its partner countries paired with the unique business model that allows for sustained impact and lasting development. Fathom’s scale and global vision reach beyond what the world has ever seen.”

 

Over a seven day cruise on a beautiful small boutique ship we had the opportunity to engage in four different impact activities. We really didn’t know what to expect and I  truly believe this has changed our lives for the better.

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The poorest half of the Dominican Republic’s population receives less than one-fifth of the country’s annual GDP. But the economic opportunities are there. And so is the willingness to take advantage of them.

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We first went to a local women’s cooperative called Chocol that is involved in the cultivation of organic chocolate (cacao) plants, an important source of income for the Puerto Plata region.image

This co-op started to support women who previously had to travel several hours to find work. By  utilizing resources such as a cocoa trees that grow in their own yards,  they have developed a resource that enables them to remain closer to their families.

First we planted Cocoa seeds that will grow into productive trees in three years.

Next we sorted beans and nibs (tiny bits of the toasted bean), two of the most menial tasks in the chocolate-making process, enabling the women to focus their time and resources on the more intricate steps.

Finally  we labeled and packaged the cocoa ball, a staple in making hot chocolate. Over 4 days, our groups completed 4,926 chocolate products and cleaned 167 pounds of nibs.

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Our next impact activity was Community English Conversation & Learning.   English proficiency is one of the most important drivers of employment success in the economy of the Dominican Republic since tourism is the largest employment. Here we went into a very poor part of Monte Rico, a small community and met in local homes with people who were learning English.

image Jack worked with Javiel, a 16-year-old boy who said learning English would help him get a good job.  Karen connected with 65-year old Marta using  a lesson book and talking about mutual grandkids.

imageI think  we did way more laughing then teaching! There is nothing sillier than pantomiming “I have a headache” or trying to explain the different between Jack and jacket.  The afternoon concluded with many hugs and kisses as we bid our new friends goodbye.

On our third day Karen and Jack went separate ways and had two very different experiences. Jack went to a local school and because the children were out of school for the holidays he participated in a art and sports camp.  Now this was unbelievably different than what our kids do when they go to camp. First of all the play area was a vacant area between buildings that was rough cement & uneven rocks.   Having no actual equipment the bases were flattened water bottles,  baseballs were fashioned from stuffed socks and their arms became the bats.

Karen went to visit another small women’s co-op called RePapel where they recycle paper into stationary and cards.  The nine women who work there greeted us with singing and clapping and quickly put us to work.  They were very proud to instruct us in the process which is quite labor intensive and tiring.

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paper is torn in small pieces and separated into white and inked pieces

 

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then put into a washing machine with water to begin to break down the paper fibers. Next the water is put in a blender (they only had two)

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and the pulp was put into a cement sink.  Using a screen form, the pulp was lifted out of the water, drained then left on a table to blot.

imageAfter the sheets of paper dried, they were pressed by hand (using empty roll-on deodorant containers) to smooth, thin and remove the impressions from the screens.  This was definitely the hardest part!

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imageThe ladies sang and laughed and were the happiest bunch of workers we seen!  It was a wonderful experience.

 

Back on the ship, we enjoyed the last two days of cruising and holidays.image  The pastry chef created a fabulous gingerbread village, the crew all got involved and we even had a visit from Santa Claus who, I think, came down the smoke stack!

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As we gathered in our cohort groups one last time to give feedback about our activities.  there were many tears as people shared their stories and what this experience meant to them. We were certainly touched by angels!

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We’re Arizona Snowbirds

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We are settled into the KOFA CO-OP RV Park in Yuma, Arizona for three weeks. That’s a long time stopping our “home-on-wheels” for us.  Actually we will stay in and around Yuma until March because we are working as Reps for SkyMed International-providing education and marketing Emergency Medical Evacuation.

Before heading to AZ, we were marooned in Palm Springs for almost two weeks while our trailer-i.e. HOUSE- was getting some warranty work done. Now this can be problematic when we have to vacate our home –where to go?

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Super Moon over the palms
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Geocaching and hiking in the hills

We were able to find a condo to stay that had a full kitchen, helpful, while the trailer was repaired and we made our annual medical exams with our doctors at Eisenhower Medical Center.

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This condo, Club Trinidad, was one of the first tourist hotels from the 1960s and was a popular spot for many of the movies stars of the era, including Frank Sinatra and Lucille Ball.  It is “old” to today’s standards but knowing the history made it interesting.

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What a smile Jack!

We arrived in Yuma for Thanksgiving Day and found a great local restaurant.

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Sitting outside on the patio was nice although the owner did come by offering a basket of blankets as the afternoon became chilly (60’s).

One of the benefits of “wintering” near Mexico is going over the border for reasonable medical services.  We go to Los Algodones, an easy walk from the large parking lot on the US side.  This area is flooded with “seniors” from Canada and US seeking dentistry, optometry, and pharmacy.

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Jack had a “loose” screw (in his implanted tooth)

Our day included visits to the dentist, pharmacy, restaurant for shrimp tacos and margaritas and a stop at the liquor store for tequila.

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Fresh jumbo shrimp $10/lb
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Our favorite- Lupita’s Fish Tacos $1.50

Yuma is, surpringly, one of the largest agriculture area in the country.

img_4207Citrus groves and fields of vegetables border onto the dry, non-irrigated desert.

Lots for us to explore!!

What’s Up Next?

We completed our month of volunteering at the Heceta Head Lighthouse in Oregon. Over all it was an interesting experience learning about lighthouse construction especially the infamous Fresnel “First Order” lense. 

This lense was developed in France in 1822 by Augustin Fresnel and revolutionized lighthouses. 

“The Fresnel lens, born at the intersection of empire, science, and engineering, fueled a revolution that transformed the nature of sea travel. Within a hundred years, more than ten thousand Fresnel lenses lined shores around the globe.”

from “A Short Bright Flash: Augustin Fresnel and the Birth of the Modern Lighthouse” by Theresa Levitt

Simply put, Fresnel discovered that using perfect glass prisms could capture & bend light into a single beam through a “bulls eye” glass shining strong and far!  The Heceta lense is ten feet tall and weighs 2 tons.
While the lighthouse is not used by merchant shipping any longer (they all have GPS) it still flashes in the dark nights for passing boats. 


We had rain nearly every day we were there so we didn’t get in as many hikes or bike rides as we hoped. 

Darlingtonia Californica. A cobra-like plant that traps and digests insects!

The lighthouse was even closed several days due to the storms and that kept us inside. 


So now we are on our way to our winter stay in Yuma, Arizona. 

But wait!!  More car trouble for the Cottons. As we crossed the coastal mountains and connected with Interstate 5, the transmission on our tow vehicle went out (AGAIN).  Oh no, we need to be in Scottsdale, Arizona in 5 days….

Still under warranty from when it was rebuilt back in April, we had to be towed to a garage who could honor the warranty. This meant putting the truck on a flatbed and towing our trailer behind for about 60 miles. 

So what do we do for a 10 days while waiting for it to be repaired?  We rent a car and drive to Arizona for our SkyMed training meeting!!  Actually it’s a nice trip in a new car that gets 34 mpg and drives at 70 mph– quite different than driving an RV at 60 mph and 9-10 mpg. 😂

After we return to Oregon and then drive back down to Arizona we’ll spend several months in the warm, dry sunny southwest working with SkyMed.  December will find us on a special “Impact Travel and Cultural Exchange Cruise”. But more on that later. 

    Happy Halloween from Karen, Jack & grandson Owen

Heceta Head Lighthouse

img_3711Well it’s been a while since we posted on our blog.  We took about two weeks to drive from the East Coast to the West Coast of the US which made for some long days of driving.  We are now in Florence, Oregon volunteering with the Oregon State Parks at the Heceta Head Lighthouse.

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Our duties are pretty easy-we lead a 15 minute tour giving a little history of the lighthouse and taking people inside.img_3800

We are not able to go up into the tower due to some structural issues,  but it is still an awesome experience stepping inside a very historical spot.

img_3842As we sit and watch out over the ocean it’s interesting to imagine the old days of the lighthouse keeper  climbing the spiral staircase to light the kerosene lamp.  We have recently experienced a pacific storm with several days of strong wind and rain.

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We have especially been fascinated with the varieties of mushrooms that seem to pop up each morning!

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img_3751img_3757The walks along the beaches and through the wind swept dunes are awesome.  This is why we came to the Oregon coast in the winter.

Ups and Downs of the Sea

imageI am trying to catch up for the last three weeks of travel. Most of the time has been spent along the coast exploring the rugged, zigzagging shores dotted with tiny fishing villages. Each bay harbors hundreds of lobster boats bobbing in the waves.

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The Bay of Fundy was so cool that we spent two days there watching the tides flow in and out. We were at The Rocks Provincial Park in New Brunswick where the famous “flower pot” rocks rise and sink.

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Low Tide-standing on the “bottom”

The water in the Bay has the greatest tides in the world, fluctuating upwards to 40 feet twice a day. There are several areas where we could walk down paths and stairs to reach the “floor” of the bay-well…only during low tide!

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SAME SPOT!  High Tide – 6 hours and 45 feet later….

Karen, in her pink cap, joined a kayak tour that started by getting into the kayaks on dry land just at the edge of the water.  By the time we got our settled in to the kayaks and had our paddling lesson the water was under the boats and we just floated  off!”1-img_4448

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I was standing here just a few hours ago!

We had another “issue” with our trailer and were very fortunate to be in the “right place at the right time”….We had just pulled in for gas and smoke was pouring out of the wheel!  image

There was one garage down the road and we started off but within 100 feet, Jack looked out the window and yelled, “the tire just fell off!”  After help arrived, the garage amazingly had the correct barring and replaced it.

imageBut the trailer break burned up.  Long story….since the trailer is still under warranty, it was replaced with an entire axle several weeks later.

Between New Brunswick and Maine, we took a quick 4 days flight from Bangor, Maine back to Boise, Idaho for our grandson’s 6th birthday…..hey, just grandparents’ silliness!

The next few weeks we explored the “Mid-Coast”, “Down East” and Acadia areas of Maine.  We know it’s best to hunker down on major holidays so we stayed five days in Rockland, Maine at the local Elks Lodge (camping at $10 a night!).

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What a great spot to meander the seacoast, eat lobster, and view the fishing and sailing boats.  We even found the Puffin Research Center and learned more about these fascinating little sea birds.

One of the highlights was purchasing live lobster as the boat was unloading his daily catch!

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Jack prepared a tastey feast

Of course we found some more lighthouses to visit-since Maine is known as the “Lighthouse State” with 65 historical lighthouses still standing on over 5,000 miles of coastline.

Head Harbour light station sits on the outermost point of Campobello Island-the Canadian island that shares the Roosevelt Campobello International Park (cottage home of FDR).

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the distinctive St. George Red Cross daymark

There is a 4 hour low tide window to walk out to the lighthouse.  We had to climb  down ladders, cross bridges and walk across the seaweed covered rocky shore.

Owls Head Light-still a U.S. Coast Guard active light

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rockland-lighthouseRockland Harbor Breakwater Light-we walked out to the end of a one mile granite stone breakwater

Marshall Point Lighthouse in Port Clyde that appeared in the film Forrest Gump

 

We enjoyed a few days camping & hiking at Acadia National Park before our long haul back to the west coast.

 

PEI

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There are two ways to drive into and out of Prince Edward Island-by the Confederation Bridge, 8 miles – the longest in the world crossing ice-covered water or the ferry across the Northumberland Strait.

imageYou don’t pay going into the province, only upon leaving (they really invite you to stay!) and the ferry is more expensive.  Therefore, we took the ferry “in” and the bridge “out”.

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We were first in line and waited 2 hours to assure a spot with our trailer as there is only one ferry running right now
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No problem, they pack us in on two levels!

The ferry leaves from the city of Pictou which boasts being the “birthplace of New Scotland” when the Hector with 170 hearty soles sailed from Scotland to New Scotland (Nova Scotia) in 1773, thus starting the centuries of Scottish, Irish and British immigration.

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Before even landing on Prince Edward Island saw our first lighthouse-Wood Islands Lighthouse.

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Wood Islands Lighthouse 1876

PEI has a long maritime history of shipbuilding, sailing and subsequently shipwrecks!  An early map shows over 75 ships that have been identified by name that wrecked off the shores.  The lighthouses were built in the mid-1800’s and most were decommissioned in the 1980’s.  In 1986, the Canadian Government started the process of divesting itself of lighthouses as they were considered not necessary in the age of GPS and depth-finding equipment now standard on most vessels.  Fortunately, lighthouses were “sold” to communities, non-profits and small businesses and are mandated to keep them accessible to the public. We visited eight lighthouses and were able to climb up 3 of the towers to the lantern level.  Look closely and you’ll see differences in number of windows, shape, lantern towers and colors/patterns-each one being unique for identification of location in those early days

Cape Bear Lighthouse & Marconi Station-reported to be the first Canadian port to receive the distress call from the Titanic (actually the 1st was in New Foundland but they weren’t part of Canada yet)

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Cape Bear Lighthouse (1881) 3 story square wooden lighthouse has been moved a few yards several times as the cliff erodes
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Souris Lighthouse 1880-In 1991, Frank McIntosh, the last lighthouse keeper on PEI, retired from the Souris East Light.
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Lantern room at top

The East Point Lighthouse is on the extreme eastern end of PEI where the mighty tides of the St. Lawrence and Northumberland Strait meet up. It was really raining and blowing when we were there  (view from the top)

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Tignish Run Lighthouse 1880 – dedicated to the memory of local fishermen who have lost their lives at sea

We drove across the island and parked overnight at the North Point Lightstation which completed our tip-to-tip tour.

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The North Cape Lighthouse, built in 1865 shines for 29 km out to sea and is still in use by the Coast Guard so was fenced off from public access.  Because the point it sits on has 300 degrees of land with strong wind and currents, it is also the sight of a huge wind turbine research station testing different kinds of wind generators.

We sat on a bench watching a beautiful sunset, moon rise and then arose early to see the sun come up over our trailer. And this was all from the same spot on the point

West Point Lighthouse, the final one we visited,  brought another special experience.

4-IMG_4389 This tallest of all lighthouses was built in 1875 and had only two lighthouse keepers during its 88 years of service.  The second, and last, keeper was Benjamin MacIsaac (1925-1963) who lived on a nearby farm and kept the light burning year round.

6-IMG_4398While we were there, we met a family who was visiting the lighthouse with “Benny”, age 94, who was the eldest of 12 MacIsaac children!  He told us a few stories about growing up there and how his father used to take them up into the lantern room.

imageOf course another PEI famous site is “Green Gables” where the author Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote Ann of Green Gables and several “Ann” sequels as well as other stories and poems.  It was difficult to keep the “real” and “fictional” worlds of L.M. Montgomery separate as she drew inspiration from her beloved village of Cavendish and surrounding area and wove them so beautifully into her books.

imageThe Macneill homestead where L.M.M. lived with her grandparents is mostly gone now, but the grounds are open with placards at various spots describing the exact location in her own words.

We walked through gardens and paths that were real and also fiction in the Ann books.  The actual Green Gables home was where L.M.M.’s cousins lived but again was the inspiration in the books.

“Thwack! Anne had brought her slate down on Gilbert’s head and cracked it—slate, not head—clear across.”

image.jpegParks Canada has restored the home with period furniture setting the rooms just as were described by Ann or was it Maud?

 

I’ve mentioned before that we “boondock” most nights.  We use several resources to locate free overnight spots including “Day’s End Directory” (subscriber listings), “Harvest Hosts” (wineries) and “Boondockers Welcome” (travelers who invite other travelers to park on their properties).   We stayed a night with Nelson & Linda Shaw in Brackley Beach and were surprised to have other Boondockers stay the night too-Marianne & Randy Edwards,  owners of Boondockers Welcome!  We met them last year at the Escapade in Tuscon and were so surprised that they showed up at the Shaw’s house too.

To cap off our visit, we had breakfast at the old and historical Shaw Hotel (owned by our hosts’ relatives).  Designated as a National Historic Site of Canada, the Shaw Hotel is the oldest family-operated inn in Canada.

And of course we had to have more fresh seafood, including mussels that Jack prepared, and stopped as several more museums and historical sites.

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PEI mussels are “grown” on these mussel socks that are float in the bays on lines rather than on sea bottom giving them a less muddied flavor.

PEI is proud to have such a rich seafaring and agricultural history and celebrated cultures.  We joined them in loving our visit to Prince Edward Island.

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North End of Nova Scotia

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We continued our travel in Nova Scotia to the north/east end into Cape Breton stopping at several small museums along such as the Fisherman’s Life Museum that demonstrated the hard life in the 1800’s of a family with 12 children.

The Sherbrooke Village, a village of over 80 buildings restored to display another fishing village from the 1800’s.

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flat bottom boat for standing in to fish and a small dory
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squid gigs
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foot peddled wood lathe

On to Cape Breton Island, a beautiful wilderness, with a large national park and the famous Cape Breton Marine Drive.   We based ourselves in Baddeck-, a small town made famous by Alexander Graham Bell who had a summer home called “Beinn Bhreagh”Gaelic for “Beautiful Mountain here overlooking the Bras d’Or Lake.

imageThe museum was a delightful surprise as we learned that while Bell is linked to inventing the telephone, he was an unbelievable educator, scientist, linguist and inventor.  His primary training and emphasis was in teaching the deaf to speak and he did so by developing a unique method of learning vocalizations.

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A.G. Bell with Helen Keller and her teacher Anne Sullivan

Throughout his life, he and his wife, Mable Hubbard, were involved in research in such interesting things as sheep that can always birth twins, heavier-than-air flights and was co-founder of National Geographic Society.

I love Puffin birds so was excited to learn that the Atlantic Puffins were still nesting.  We took a local tour boat to “Bird Islands” where we were lucky to see many Puffins and other sea birds and seals very close up.  Puffins spend their whole lives on the water except when they come ashore to lay eggs in rock nests.  They are easily frightened and difficult to photograph!

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Harp Seal
Harp Seal

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We finished Nova Scotia with two days driving around the Cape Breton coast-one day in rain and one in sunshine.  It is pretty spectacular.

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Nova Scotia and more lobster!

imageWe thought that Nova Scotia was an island but upon closer look it is attached to New Brunswick even though there is a bridge to cross between the provinces.

image Least one argues with me, there ARE hundreds of islands, including the large eastern island forming the end of the province: Cape Breton. The Information Center just inside the province was huge and we immediately felt like we were in touristville with people maneuvering elbow to elbow for that all-important map. Oh, hope the whole place won’t be like this!

IMG_4138Unfortunately we discovered that the lobster season for Nova Scotia was in June & July so we won’t be seeing any lobster fishing. Fisherman can have 175 cages per license which is just about what can be handled by a local fisherman.

Our first few days were spent on the Bay of Fundy and Annapolis Valley with the first free night at a “Harvest Host” site in Wolfville called Henningar’s Farm.

imageWhat a great spot that turned out to be.  The owner, Heather met us as her “produce store” and led us up the hill into the orchards.  Our view was lovely and even with clouds we could see towards the Bay.  The best was the invitation to join her & a small group to play Farmer’s Golf.

imageThis is a game that originated in Holland and needs large fields or farms to play.  The golf club is a stick on the end of a wooden shoe and the ball is a small soccer ball.  The ten holes were spread out over about 5 acres and the “holes” were 5 gallon buckets sunk into the ground.

What a hoot!   Afterwards, we were invited to join the group for wine and snacks.  It was the end to a very special evening.

The next day, after consulting with our hosts, we rode our tandem bike about 6 miles on dyke roads out to the Grande Pre’ Landscape, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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This is my “view” on the back of the tandem

This is the Iconic place of remembrance of the Acadian diaspora, the result of the Expulsion of the people in 1755.

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Evangeline from Longfellow’s poem of Acadians

We didn’t know anything about this part of North America’s story and found it so fascinating how Canadian and American history was again woven together. Briefly, in the late 1600’s, a group of people from central France found their way to the area that would become Nova Scotia and began a century of reclaiming land from the seas of the Bay of Fundy by building dykes, aboiteaux (wooden sluices) and drainage network resulting in very fertile farmland.

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Despite their neutrality, they became the perceived enemy of the English and were forcefully removed and sent to England, France and the American colonies.  A small group even made their way eventually to Louisiana.  These dykelands, fields and settlements on the hills continued to be maintained and expanded over centuries by farmers of New England Planter descent (British loyalists who wanted nothing to do with the American Revolution) and later immigrants from England, Scotland and Holland.

We finished the day with a wonder dinner of fresh lobster

while watching the world’s highest tides float fishing boats and deposit them on dry land 6 hours later.

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Look at the boats floating in front of Oneils sign
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Low tide

The next day we again watched the tides in the town of Digby also known for their world-class scallops.  We happened upon the town’s annual Scallop Day festivities with B-B-Q scallops, a very small-town parade and freshly caught haddock for dinner.

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Our travel plans were changed a bit due to a major wildfire near the National Park where we wanted to camp so we diverted to South Shore area.  Here we lucked out again by landing in another UNESCO site of the Old Town Lunenburg during their annual Folk Music Festival.

imageThis charming town that was established in 1753 is one of the best surviving examples of British planned colonial settlements in North America.  The narrow streets built on the hill have not been changed since they were built and all of the homes date back hundreds of years.

Sometimes driving an RV, even small like us, makes it difficult to get where we want to be.  This happened as we attempted to get into Halifax to see the famous Citadel National Historic Site.  After driving in circles trying to find parking we gave up, crossed the bridge and continued to the Eastern Shore.

image Since we prefer to avoid cities we were pleasantly resolved to be in a secluded spot for the night, “boondocking” along the Atlantic Ocean.

 

Lobster & New Brunswick

imageMoving into Lobster country, we entered northern Maine where we got our first taste of fresh lobster.  We came into a small town, Winthrop, on a Saturday morning and came upon a church “Summer Fair” complete with books, crafts, baked items and lunch and we bought it all.  Even though it was only 11:30 am we couldn’t pass up our first lobster roll lunch. image

It even included a homemade moon pie!

We took a slower road and seemed to be the only people on it.  We parked that night in a nice deserted rest stop alongside the River just before entering Canada.

Over the border again we made our way to Fredericton, one of the three large cities in New Brunswick. We like to find the Information Center in a city and grab a walking tour with the local guides.image

imageimageHere the theme was fire and how many times major fires burned down the same buildings.  Seems the firemen of the day received “bonuses” for fighting fires.  Hmmm…

We also search for 6 locations that were a series of clues to find a geocache only to get to a dead end about 20 feet from the cache.  image

But made up for it with another unique cache in the woods.image

The next day we made our final “pilgrimage” to Chipman, New Brunswick, the childhood home of Karen’s father.

imageWe arrived on New Brunswick Day so there were some festivities at the park.

imageThis town did not have the “charm” of Ethelbert, (the Ukrainian village of Karen’s mother) and time has taken a toll on the homes and businesses.  There are however, two very active and large lumber mills, one of which is where Karen’s uncle worked back in the 1930-1950s.

imageKaren’s grandfather was the station master of the CNR (Canadian National Railway) and the family lived in the large station house until it burned in the late 1930s, never to be rebuilt.  We found some old pictures in the little museum and even photos and items from Karen’s Aunt Rita.  We got a chance to talk with 3 ladies who fondly remember Rita, who was a teacher and passed away last year at age 104!  One of the ladies was actually in Rita’s first grade class.

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Taking another local (meaning slow) road to Richibucto on the Atlantic coastline, we camped for a couple of days at Kouchibouguac National Park.  These names are quite a challenge.

image This was so pretty right on the marsh and bay with sand dunes forming lovely estuaries and beaches.  The campground though was jammed packed with families and everyone had at least 10 kids with bicycles (or so it seemed).  In early days, the rivers and seas were plied by First Nations Micmac, French and English.  Many tall sailing ships with three or four masts and square sails where built here in the early 1800’s.

image Now the tourists come to hunt for seashells in the shallow waters, ride and hike the many trails and enjoy the FREE wifi throughout campground!!

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colorful umbrellas on the beach
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RED Adirondack chairs are symbolic in the Canadian National Parks and there are always two chairs strategically placed for photos

Driving down the eastern shoreline of New Brunswick we were very surprised to be surrounded by so much French.  All signs are first in French, then in English.  When I made a phone call, the recording said, “push 1 for English” – French is the most common language.   We learned that New Brunswick is the only Province that is formally bi-lingual so we are always greeted with “Bonjour-Hello” until we reveal our English.

Here we were certainly in the minority and we really wondered if we were in another country—oh yea, we are!   We met people who spoke very little English and the children are obviously raised in French-speaking households.  Terms of francophone and anglophone are used frequently. We really enjoyed traveling through this part of New Brunswick.

We are also beginning to learn about Acadie and the Acadian people who settled in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in the 1600’s.  They came from France and settled along the coast.  But they were forcefully removed from the country by the English.  We will learn more as we go into Nova Scotia, but for now we are just enjoying the different languages we hear.image

 

 And eating more lobster!

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