Sunday, August 31, 2008

The summer "holidays" come to a close

One day left before kids everywhere will be back in school.

It's a time to reflect on the last ~3 months... a time to think about the fun times we had... a time too... who the hell am I kidding, enough of that crap....

WHERE THE HELL DID THE SUMMER GO?

It was a better summer than some of the recent ones. A little on the wet side a little too often, but overall not bad.

Every summer seems to go by so much quicker than the previous one. Why is that? I remember as a kid, 3 months felt like an eternity. Now that I'm in my 40s, one blink and *POOF* it's over.

Now I have nothing left to look forward to. There's Christmas, of course, but that 4 months away. Holy crap... FOUR MONTHS until Christmas. That must mean the Christmas decorations will soon be in the stores.

The sad part about having things to look forward to is that it involves getting older. The more you have to look forward to, the older you get... seemingly faster. Getting old is not good. I hate thinking about it.

So, with that, I'll end this useless blog entry.
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The Chai Story - Pimple Ball Dog Toy Warning


I came across this story a couple of days ago on Snopes.com, where they confirmed that it is in fact true.


We don't have a dog, but I used to when I was younger and she had a toy very similar to this one. Luckily for her, nothing like this ever happened to her.

After reading some of the comments, I found that the same thing had happened to another dog in 2005 and nothing was done to fix the toy. All it takes is a second hole drilled into the ball so it doesn't create suction. Complete ignorance by Four Paws Inc. -- the company that manufactures it.
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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Spammers and internet evil-doers can rot in hell

While at work, I checked my internet mail. A message arrived entitled "Hello from the Canada Science and Technology Museum". I didn't recognize the sender. It also got flagged as junk mail.

Now, normally I'd delete anything like that. But something about this one peaked my curiosity. I moved it from junkmail to my inbox. The content of the email said:

You've received a digital postcard from the Nortel Networks Connexions exhibition.
If your postcard is not displayed, click on the attachment to see it!

Sure enough, it also contained a JPG attachment. I dragged the attachment out of the email and onto my desktop. The virus scanner didn't detect anything. I launched PHOTO-PAINT so I could open the JPG, rather than dbl-clicking on it.

It was indeed exactly what it said it was. A digital post card sent from the Canada Science and Tech Museum -- by my son. A small picture of his grinning face was merged with the post card image. I guess my sister inlaw brought my kids there today.

It made me smile. When I get home later this afternoon, he'll probably ask me if I received it.

I wonder how many other parents or relatives missed out on something like this, because it got flagged as spam and/or deleted.

We have all the spammers, and creators of viruses and trojans out there who send similar types of emails to thank for that.

It's a damned shame.
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The sound of silence from Jim Keay

It's been almost 2 weeks since I returned the call to Ford's Customer Service regarding the letter I wrote to them about our experience with our bumper repair and we haven't yet(?) heard anything from the dealership, Jim Keay Ford Lincoln.

The fact that Ford confirmed and condensed my letter into key points, and then "submitted it" as negative feedback to the dealership and the owner, lead me to believe this was done electronically. If I ran a dealership and received such negativity I'd be all over it.

It's their loss. There are at least two other dealerships, that are actually more convenient for us, that we can deal with in the future.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Twitter

If you haven't tried (or heard) of Twitter, it might be time to give it a shot.

I signed up a couple of months ago after a friend told me about it. At first glance, it has the same feel as changing your Facebook status. That is, more or less, what it's like except it goes a bit further.

Simply put, you sign up and let the world know what you're doing. Or send a link to an interesting story. Or send out a link to your latest blog posting. Or, find someone to follow and get updates from them. It's a mini-blog of sorts. It's almost like having an RSS feed into people's lives. Some companies also use Twitter to send links to their press releases and/or stories. Here's one for CBC News: http://twitter.com/cbcnews

You can post and read the updates on the Twitter.com web site, or use one of a few third-party applications, widgets, and such. My personal favourite is Twhirl and I usually leave it open on my desktop at work and at home.

The people you follow don't have to be your friend. They don't even need to approve of you following them. They can block you if they wish. The same as you can block anyone from following you. Generally, you'd want to follow someone who has similar interests.

As I write this, I am following 15 people and I have 22 followers. I know ONE person that I am following, and one of my followers knows me (the same person)

Here is a good blog posting with tips on getting started with Twitter.

Here's my Twitter feed: http://twitter.com/twister65
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Cheating at the Olympics? Never!

This is actually the first time I've heard or read about this, as I haven't really been following the Olympics that closely. Yeh, shame on me.

In a nutshell, it has been alleged that certain Chinese gymnasts at the Beijing Olympics do not meet the minimum age requirement of 16 set by the IOC, and are actually 14 years of age.

A blogger, Stryde Hax, did a little research of their own and came across some official documents, cached from the General Administration of Sport of China web site, that appear to back the allegation, and has posted some screen shots of their research in the event that the cached documents suddenly disappear, as the original documents already have. You can read the blog entry here. Check it out and decide for yourself. It certainly reeks of something, and it's not sushi.

Also, as requested, I have taken a couple of screen shots and posted them here. The more the merrier!


You can also read a little more about the controversy on He Kexin's Wikipedia page.

Why isn't the IOC doing anything about it?

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Yay, toast!

two slices of toasted white breadThis morning, as I was waiting for the 4-slice toaster to do what it's supposed to do, a question occurred to me.

Why do toasters have a "9" temperature setting?

Is there anything that we can stick in the toaster that would require such a high temperature setting without setting off every smoke alarm in the neighbourhood?

We've gone through many toasters over the years, and I've never seen the need for any temperature beyond the mid-point. A 4, 5 or maybe even a 6.

So what exactly are the other high temperatures for? Perhaps thawing frozen bread before toasting? Ok, that might require a 7. On the other hand, has anyone ever thawed frozen bread and have it toasted to perfection in one go? Or does it inevitably pop and require that you push the toaster plunger back down for another few minutes?

Maybe they're in cahoots with the bakers of the world.

I wonder if the toaster manufacturers have an answer to this question.
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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Days of our children as the young and restless world turns

Back in the early 80's, during my first few years of "job hunting" after finishing high school, I used to sit with my mother and watch "the soaps" in the afternoon. It worked out really well. If she happened to be out shopping, I could fill her in on what she missed so she didn't fall behind with the story lines. Days of our Lives was the main one, but we also watched All My Children.

I have a TV card in my PC, that I don't use very often. I decided to open up the TV application this morning and maybe catch a little of the Olympics as I browsed Facebook.

Who Wants to be a Millionaire was on and it caught my attention, so I left it on. Once it was done, a soap opera came on.

Now, for some reason, I didn't change the channel and started to watch little bits of it, as I continued Facebooking.

I recognized a few faces. Pudgier... older... but I have no idea what the name of this show is.

The whole appearance of the camera work is different than I remember. The outside shots are real outside shots, not done on some phoney set. But there's something else about it that looks weird. Almost like it's being shot with a hand-held camera. It has a bit of shakiness to it.

And the acting. What's up with that? Soap opera acting was never the best. Very dramatic and forced. But this seems even more so.

Have they always been this bad?

I still have no clue what they're all arguing about... or what the story line is... or who these people are... or what the show is about.

Must... change... channel...

[Edit: it seems to be Guiding Light]

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Rock Band drum kit warranty replacement

A follow up to my past posting about warranty replacements for Rock Band drum kits...

Me warranty replacement kit arrived while we were on vacation. Fortunately for me, my sister inlaw happened to be outside when it arrived so she signed for it.

It seems that EA isn't sending the newer models out as replacements afterall. I, and two friends, all received another "EL" series kit to replace our defective kits.

I tested it out over the last couple of days and it does work better than the one I'm sending back, so I still happy with it. But it would have been nice to get one of the newer series to avoid any future failures.
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Ford follows up on our complaint letter

While were on our vacation, Ford's Customer Service called us regarding the letter I had written and included with their feedback form.

I called them back today and spoke with one of their reps. He then read off our complaint in point form to ensure that they captured the details of our letter.

This took about 5 minutes to go through, and it sounds like the managed to get all the key points. He then said it would be submitted as negative feedback to the dealership and the owner.

Anyway, he apologized on behalf of Ford for our bad experience and said they hope it doesn't tarnish our view of Ford Motors... yada yada.

It was nice that they called, but I don't know why they don't just send a copy of the letter to the dealership. I guess sending paper via mail is too old school in this high tech age.

It'll be interesting to see if the dealership follows up now. Or maybe we'll be "flagged" as troublemakers? ;-)

If anyone is interested in reading the letter that I wrote, here it is. It's rather long. :)

To whom it may concern;

Please find the enclosed and completed feedback form regarding our recent service with Jim Keay, or more specifically, FixAuto, who repaired the defective paint job on the rear bumper of our 2008 Ford Escape XLT.

In late May, nine months after the purchase of our 2008 Ford Escape, I noticed a few paint chips on the rear passenger side bumper, along with a small bubble in the paint. See enclosed photo #1.

Around the last week of May, my wife called the Jim Keay Ford Lincoln dealership and explained the situation. She was advised that they would have to see the damage before they could assess whether it was covered under the warranty. In the first week of June, my wife drove our truck to FixAuto, located at the dealership, and also gave them a printed photo that I had taken – the same as the enclosed.

In the time that we waited to hear back from the FixAuto, we also discovered a few chips on the inside of the driver’s side rear bumper. My wife called them up so they could make a note that this would need repaired as well. Unfortunately, I do not have a photo of that particular defect.

On or around June 13th, we were called by Jamie at FixAuto and asked to bring the truck in for repair, covered under the warranty, on June 17th. My wife was advised that the time estimate for the repair would be three days. As this is our only vehicle, my wife inquired about “a loaner” vehicle. She was told that the body shop does not provide loaner vehicles and that she would have to speak with the dealership manager about one. She did, and was advised that one would be provided for $20 per day. Although we were already aware, based on past experience, that loaners are not free, we are still not pleased with having to pay for one for warranty repairs on our vehicle. However, that is not the main purpose of this letter.

My wife dropped our truck off at FixAuto on the morning of June 17th, 2008, and received a 2008 Ford Focus as a loaner from Jim Keay. We were quite pleased with the vehicle. It should be noted, however, that the interior could have used a good vacuuming and we found a pair of men’s work pants in the back seat.

Our truck was at the body shop for three days while we waited for the repair work to be completed. My wife called on the third day, June 19th, and was advised that the work was completed, but our truck was currently being washed and vacuumed so we could pick it up in an hour or two. That was unexpected and we were pleasantly surprised.

I drove the loaner vehicle to the dealership that afternoon, parked it near FixAuto and entered the customer entrance. The office was empty, so I sat there for five to ten minutes waiting for someone to assist me. As I was waiting, I noticed that the keys sitting on the counter, in plain view, were my wife’s keys for our truck along with the repair paperwork. Anyone could have walked into that office and taken them. Thinking that I could be waiting there for longer, I exited the office and walked into the garage bay to ask one of the body shop people if there was someone who could assist me. I then walked back to the office where I was greeted by Jamie, the gentleman with whom my wife had dealt with regarding the repair. He picked up the key and paperwork off the counter and asked me to follow him to the cashier inside the dealership to settle the bill for the loaner. The bill came to ~$67.

We then walked back to the body shop office where Jamie handed me my copy of the paper work, along with the key to the truck. Before entering my truck, I made a quick visual inspection of the repair work and it appeared satisfactory.

After arriving home 20 minutes later, I made a closer visual inspection and noticed that there was a small paint bubble on the driver’s side, rear bumper, that was not there prior to the repair. The following day, my wife called Jamie at FixAuto to advise him about our discovery. He explained to my wife that they did not inspect the entire bumper. They only repair what has been reported. She asked about getting this new defect repaired. Jamie didn’t seem too pleased and explained to my wife that they can’t keep billing Ford for repairs on the same parts and would have to get approval.

On June 26th, I received a phone call from Jamie asking me to bring our truck to the body shop so that they could photograph the defect and submit to Ford for approval. Within the hour, I drove the truck to the body shop, Jamie took a few photographs and told me that they would be in touch once they heard back from Ford. See enclosed photo #2.

On Monday, June 30th, Jamie called my wife to ask us to bring our truck in on the morning of July 2nd. At the same time, my wife inquired about a free loaner, as we did not feel that it was fair that we should have to pay for one a second time for the same repair work. Jamie advised my wife that he could not make this decision, and suggested that she call the dealership Manager. My wife called the dealership Manager, but had to leave a message for him to call back. We never did receive a return call.

In the meantime, we discovered a few more paint bubbles (photo #3) as well as what we can only describe as a build-up of paint between the bumper and the truck’s body (photo #4). Clearly, the repair job was not done properly.

On the morning of July 2nd, my wife dropped our truck off at the body shop at 8:00am. She told Jamie about the additional defects that we discovered. He dismissed the “build-up” as “the way the bumper was designed”. It is rather strange that we did not discover this “design” prior to the first repair. My wife also mentioned to me later that Jamie’s demeanor was not as polite and friendly as during her first visit. She felt that he thought she was being too picky or a nuisance.

Once again, we received a 2008 Ford Focus as the loaner vehicle. This is where the customer service begins a fast decline.

Not only was the interior of this vehicle more dirty than the first one, the passenger side of the windshield had a large crack. Photos of the filthy interior (#5 & #6) and windshield crack (#7) are also enclosed.

Safety and legalities aside, you wouldn’t be able to sell a vehicle in that condition, yet we were expected to pay for its use? We found it ironic that the rental form is stamped with large, red, words stating that smoking in the vehicle is forbidden, and that there will be a cleaning charge as a result. Is that the only time a loaner vehicle is cleaned?

The following day, Jamie at FixAuto called us to advise us that our truck repair was completed. My wife asked if the repair had been inspected so we would not have to return again for any further repairs. She was assured that it had been inspected.

As we would not be able to pick up the truck before FixAuto closed at 5:00pm, we were advised that the paperwork and our key would be left with the cashier inside the dealership. Later that evening, my wife and I dropped off the loaner car at the dealership, paid the ~$45 fee for the loaner, and received the key for our truck. Again, we made a quick visual inspection before leaving for home.

Later that evening, while there was still daylight available, my wife and I inspected the bumper again. The small areas that were repaired looked great! However, larger areas of the corner of the bumper – on both the driver and passenger side – did not look so great. They were dull, and slightly rough to the touch. (Photos #8, #9, & #10) If you stepped back, you could see clearly that these areas looked as if they had been sanded with a fine grade of sandpaper, removing the smooth, shiny finish that the rest of the vehicle had. They were not like that before the last visit. It was clearly evident that the repair work had NOT been inspected, as my wife was assured earlier in the day. A quick visual inspection perhaps, but one would assume that when you are making the same repair for the second time, there would be a little more attention to detail given to ensure that a third visit would not occur.

The following morning, my wife and I drove our truck to the body shop before work. We asked to speak with Jamie. He was sitting in his office and said he would be with us shortly. We waited outside near our truck and about 10 minutes later, Jamie came to ask us how he could help us. My wife explained that the bumper now felt rough, and didn’t have the same shine as the rest of the vehicle – as if it had been sanded.

Jamie bent down and had a look at one of the corners. He then stood up and said something to the effect of “I don’t know... we could try to buff it out, or it would have to be repainted.” My wife said that this was his speciality, so they should do whatever he felt was necessary to return it to its proper condition. Jamie said that they would try to buff it out first, since it was the “quickest and cheapest”. My wife asked if they could do it immediately, Jamie said he would have to check and left us. He returned about 5 minutes later, asked us for our keys and drove our truck inside the bay.

Approximately 30 minutes later, our truck was backed out of the bay. My wife and I walked over and inspected the rear bumper. It was a 100% improvement. It was smooth, and shiny, like the rest of the bumper. There were no paint bubbles or other visible defects. We told Jamie that it looked good, he apologized for the problem, and we were on our way.

After three repair visits over the course of a month, over $100 for dirty and potentially unsafe loaner vehicles, and time off work for what we consider a simple repair, we are now satisfied with how our bumper looks. A simple, yet thorough, inspection of the completed work the first time could have prevented this unpleasant experience.

We have been customers of Jim Keay since around 1997 when we leased our first vehicle. We returned to Jim Keay for additional leases in the later years, as well as the purchase of our 2008 Escape last year. It’s certainly not the nearest dealership to our home, but we believe that good customer service earns customer loyalty, and up until recently we have always received good customer service. It’s a shame that this one bad experience paints a pretty bleak picture of what we can expect in the future. Perhaps it’s time to start shopping around.
That's it, that's all.
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Saturday, August 9, 2008

Maritime Trip - The Final Chapter

We woke up in Edmundston this morning at 6:00am, loaded the truck, went for a quick breakfast at the hotel restaurant ($3.99 breakfast special!) and hit the road by around 7:30am.

We stopped a few times for bathroom breaks, and once for lunch in Drummondville. We were home a few minutes after 4:00pm, 3880kms later. We would have been a little earlier but we decided to make a quick stop at the Beer Store not far from home. :)

We found it rather amusing that we saw more Ontario licence plates in Peggy's Cove than we did on the Ontario side after crossing from Quebec into Ontario.

There an obvious difference between Ontario and Quebec drivers and Nova Scotian drivers. Drivers in Nova Scotia are way more patient than those from Ontario and Quebec. It's like night and day. In Ontario and Quebec, they tail gate you in the fast lane until you change lanes. I never saw this happen in Nova Scotia, or New Brunswick for that matter. Drivers in the Maritimes will also stop and let you enter a lane on any road. That's a rare occurence in Quebec and Ontario.

There were a few things that we never got to do, like visit PEI and whale watching. I'm sure we'll be going back soon.

All in all, a very fun, and successful vacation! It was a little tiring, but I'm sure we'll recover in no time.

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Friday, August 8, 2008

Maritime Trip - Day 9, Hopewell Rocks (and more from Day 8!)

First an addition to Day 8's fun.

The weather did remain nice, so Colin and Sherri let Kaitlyn and Kyle ride their horses.

But first, they had to brush them and clean their hooves (the horses, of course!) :) The kids seemed to enjoy helping to care for the horses. Kaitlyn took to it like a pro, but I think Kyle was a little nervous being around and so close to such a large animal. I think he did pretty well though. Colin and Sherri showed them what to do, and how to do it, and they did it.

Once the horses were saddled up, Colin and Sherri rode them first to make sure they would behave, which didn't take very long. After some instruction on how to ride and how to dismount (especially in an emergency) they lead the horses for a short walk with the kids on them and then let them take over on their own. I was so proud of them. They listened well and did as they were instructed. The smiles on their faces said it all. I think this had to be the highlight of their the whole vacation, and I can't thank Colin and Sherri enough for taking the time and having the patience to teach them how to ride. Thanks guys! :)

On to today's fun.

We left Mount Uniacke this morning; I think it was around 8:00am and began our long journey to Edmundston, NB, but with a side trip to Hopewell Rocks.

We arrived at Hopewell Rocks shortly before noon, which was our plan because low tide was at 12:09pm. After paying the $20 Family admittance fee, we followed the path to the various lookout points, on our way to the many stairs leading down to the beach. The view was incredible! This is definitely something you have to see.

After what seemed like forever, following the trail, we arrived at the stairs leading down. And there were many of them. There was a warning sign at the top of the stairs advising of what NOT to do, and to make sure that you made it back to the stairs before the tide came in, which was still hours away. The funny part (or maybe not so funny if it happens to you!) of the warning said that if you don't make it back, not to panic, but to find a comfortable rock above seaweed level, sit down, and wait 2-3 hours for the tide to retract. WTF? That sure doesn't sound like fun, but if you're dumb enough to wait until the last minute to get your ass back to the stairs, you deserve to wait it out for a few hours. I would imagine that something like that rarely happens, because the have people walking and supervising the beach.

The walk along the beach was amazing. You can't really put it into words, it something that you have to see for yourself, at least once in your life. (Or before these massive structures erode and tumble... which I assume is bound to happen sometime in the future)

Many of the natural "bridges" are roped off for safety, in case anything falls. There is, however, one that you can walk under. That was pretty cool.

The ocean floor is pretty muddy in some places. Mud is very fine and smooth. It seems many people don't pay attention to the warnings and walked all the way down near the water where it was the muddiest, so they could walk around in it. Our kids stayed away, and chose to walk barefoot in some of the smaller muddy pools closer to shore. After about an hour walking around, we made our way back to the stairs and up, then rinsed off the kids' feet at the taps they had for that purposes, then walked back to the main entrance to grab a quick bite to eat at the restaurant. I think we were back on the road for Edmundston around 2:00-2:30ish.

The drive was long and tiring, but after a couple of short stops for coffee, snacks and gas, we arrived safe and sound in Edmundston at 7:45pm (again with my outdated GPS indicating we were off-road for 100kms of the trip after passing Fredericton. Piece of crap. ZERO engine troubles once again, thankfully.

After checking in to the hotel, we drove to Greco's Pizza, which the hotel clerk said was about 2 miles down the road. Downtown Edmundston is pretty nice. Small with an old-town styled, and diagonal parking spaces along the main road in town. Everyone here seems to be French too. All the signs are mostly French as well.

Our hotel is pretty cool. I guess it's more of a "motel". Our room has an outside access door, and our truck is parked right outside that door. Loading up the truck in the morning is going to be easy. Especially since we didn't need to take everything out of it.

After pizza, Sandra took the kids to the pool for a quick swim, while I sat here and posted pictures on Facebook. They weren't gone very long. She said the pool was busy, no lifeguard, and kids running around seemingly unsupervised and that stressed her out.

Everyone is in bed at the moment as I type this out. I think I'll step outside for a quick smoke and then hit the sack. We plan to leave early tomorrow, after a 7:00am breakfast, for the 8½ hour drive home.
Zemanta Pixie

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Maritime Trip, Day 8 - Fisherman's Cove & Barnacle Bill and Friends

We (except Kyle) woke up really early this morning. Sandra heard a dripping sound in the room we are staying in at Colin and Sherri's place. It was coming from the ceiling and turned out to be the sink in the bathroom above. After Handyman Colin repaired the plumbing, we all left for Fisherman's Cove.

On the way down, we passed "John's Lunch" diner. Colin noticed it first and said he heard they had the best seafood. Coincidentally, I had also been told before we left that I had to stop there for lunch. So, that's what we did!

The verdict? We all agreed that it was the best fish and chips! We ordered the 2 piece fish and chips. It's a good thing we didn't get the 3 piece because the portions were quite large.

After lunch, we headed to Fisherman's Cove and walked around. It's very touristy and not what you might think of as a functional fishing village. Regardless, it was a good visit and we came home with 5 fresh lobsters to cook for tonight's supper. Mine has a few barnacles on it, so I named it "Barnacle Bill" (what an imagination I have)

The truck behaved perfect for the drive too, so we're feeling a little more comfortable about the trip to Hopewell Rocks and then Edmundston for our 1 night stay before hitting the road for the last leg home.

Our kids are hoping that the rain holds off this afternoon so they can get a ride on Colin's horses. We're also hoping for no rain so we can boil the lobster over Colin's "redneck" firepit. :)
Zemanta Pixie

Maritime Trip, Day 7 - A day at the beach, and truck problems

(For Wednesday, August 6th)

Today was a day at the beach with Colin, Sherri, and their two dogs, Burrito and Taco. Although it was cloudy, there were sunny patches, so we took our chances. We went to Rissers Beach, which was down near Bridgeport. I can't recall the last time that I went to a beach on the ocean and it was beautiful. I loved the sound of the waves and the fine white sand. The kids had a lot of fun.

On the drive back (which was a couple of hours) we had a moment of panic. We were about 30 minutes away from arriving back at Colin and Sherri's place, driving along the highway, when the truck started to vibrate when accelerating. We had 2-way radios with us, so we asked Colin to pull over at the next off ramp. Something didn't sound right with the engine -- it appeared to be misfiring. Not a good thing when you have over 1000kms to drive home in a couple of days. There were no warning lights on the dash, so we were puzzled. We shut the engine off for 5 minutes to let it rest. When it started again, everything seemed fine. We got back onto the highway, made a quick stop at the ASS (Atlantic SuperStore), and arrived back at Colin and Sherri's house without any further problems. We're taking a trip downtown today (Thursday) to the Fisherman's Cove, so we'll see how it goes and keep our fingers crossed.

We're definitely not going to get to PEI this year. :( The truck scare pretty much sealed that decision. Even if it hadn't, I don't think we'd have time to really enjoy it. We'll stop at Hopewell Rocks on the way to Edmundston, stay a night there as planned, and then continue home on Saturday morning.
Zemanta Pixie

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Maritime Trip, Day 6 - Peggy's Cove & Lunenburg

The weather looked not bad, so we decided to visit Peggy's Cove today!

The drive along the coast was awesome! Very hilly and windy too. We arrived at Peggy's Cove and parked at the information office. It's free to park there, but you'll end up walking to the lighthouse. It's worth it though, just for the scenery. If you plan on eating at Peggy's Cove, you could pay the $5 parking fee nearer the lighthouse because it seems they'll give you a $5 coupon to use at the restaurant. Nothing wrong with breaking even.

The view from the rocks is too cool. Lots of tourists, but it wasn't terribly crowded. We even saw a seal bobbing not too far off shore, and a dolphins off in the distance.

While we were there, we had to go looking for a geocache! :) It was quite a trek along the rocks, but the kids enjoyed stopping and looking for sea life in the shallow pools on the rocks. As we got near the geocache, we saw another family where the cache should be. I could tell they were geocachers because their young son was holding a GPS. We stayed back to let them find it and re-hide it before going for it. As my kids rifled through the cache contents, the other family's son was watching us from a distance. We ran into them later and the father asked us if we were geacachers. I told him we were and asked them where they were from. They said "Ottawa" (or more specifically, Stittsville). What a small world. Then we ran into another Ontario family in the parking lot and stopped to chat with them. The big Sens sticker on the rear windshield attracts a lot of attention! :)

After leaving Peggy's Cove, we stopped at the Swissair memorial along the highway. It's a very nice spot for such a sad and unfortunate accident.

We continued on to Mahone Bay. We didn't really see much, other than driving through it -- with a quick stop at the candy store for my wife and kids. It would have been nice to stay longer, but our goal was Lunenburg and the Blue Nose II. I think the family was a little tired after the long drive and lengthy walk along the rocks at Peggy's Cove.

Finally, we made it to Lunenburg and the Blue Nose II was tied up at the pier. This place must be hell in the winter time. Some of the streets are steeper than I've ever seen! I swear the one we drove down must have been close to 45 degrees. We parked down near the Blue Nose II, which cost us $3. It was free to get on the Blue Nose II (free is good!) We could only walk around the deck, which didn't take very long. The crew were working while people toured, doing painting and other maintenance.

After a stop at the Halifax Store for souvenirs, and grabbing some fries to go, we headed back to Colin and Sherri's.

For supper, we went out for pizza at Uniacke Pizza -- yum!

Later in the evening, before hittin the sack, Colin and I went outside and stared at the sky. They were clear and the stars were awesome. The more we stared, the more stars we saw.

We're not sure if we'll make it to PEI this year. Since it wasn't part of our original plans, time is going to be too tight. Plus, we still want to visit Hopewell Rocks on the way back.
Zemanta Pixie

Maritime Trip - Day 5, Halifax

(For August 4th, 2008)

The weather wasn't looking very promising, so we decided to stick to downtown activities -- mostly indoors.

First up was the Maritime Museum. I don't think Kaitlyn enjoyed it as much as Kyle. Lots of ships and related stuff that bored her.

Then we took a short walk down to the pier to grab some food. We had lobster on a bun. Not bad, but mine was really slim on the lobster. :( We got rained on while waiting in line for our food too.

Back at the truck, munching on our lunch, the rain eased up and the skies no longer looked threatening, so we decided to head to the Citadel.

Our timing couldn't have been better. We were just in time for a guided tour AND to see the rifle practice, which only happens once a day. After the tour, and the rifle practice, we walked along the wall perimeter of the fort and got some pretty cool shots of Halifax.

Sandra said the Citadel was much more enjoyable than she thought it would be, and the kids seem to really enjoy it as well.

That pretty much wrapped up our day!
Zemanta Pixie

Monday, August 4, 2008

Maritime Trip - Day 4, Mount Uniacke, BBQ, & Beer

(For Sunday, August 3rd)

Not a very busy day today.

We drove to Halifax and walked along the pier. I really wanted to see the HMCS Sackville. When I was in the Navy, I spent a couple of days on that ship chipping rust, in its early days of restoration.

It's a lot smaller inside than I remember it. I know that back then it had been modified for use by the Sea Cadets, but has now been restored to its former glory.

We had planned on going to the Maritime museum as well, but time was running short. A friend that I hadn't seen in 18 years was coming over to Colin and Sherri's place for a BBQ at around 3:00pm. Rather than rush through the museum, we grabbed a bite to eat at Wendy's, and then headed back.

Around 4pm-ish, Darren arrived, along with his girlfriend Paula, his daughter, her son and daughter and a friend. Colin's horses were a big hit and he got some free labour from Darren's daughter and Paula's son. They wanted to shovel horse poop from the stalls.

It rained lightly on and off, unfortunately, but I think everyone still enjoyed themselves. Burgers were eaten, and beer was drunken!

After Darren and his troops left, Colin, Sherri and I sat around Colin's home-built fire drum and continued to drink until the wee hours of the morning. By the time we hit the sack, we were soaked from the rain.

I'm not sure what's on the agenda for today. The weather doesn't look too bad. Cloudy with sunny breaks and a chance of rain. I think we're going to head back downtown and visit the museum.
Zemanta Pixie

Maritime Trip - Day 3, Saint John to Digby

(For Saturday, August 2nd)

We got up early at the hotel, thanks to the alarm and a wake up call. :) Within the hour we were packed, checked out of the hotel and loaded into the truck... and on our way to the Ferry. It was recommended that we get there an hour before sailing, which meant 8:00am. We arrived just a little after that.

There were quite a few cars and trucks ahead of us, but the guys directing the cars into the ferry had us moving between the different line ups, trying to get the best fit into the ferry. We ended up driving straight to the back of the ship, which meant we would be one of the first out once it arrived in Digby!

Once we were aboard, we went and got some breakfast -- eggs, sausage, toast, home fries and coffee! Yum!

After breakfast, we made our way up to the deck to look for whales. We didn't have much luck. The seats in the lounges were all taken too, many by people lying across two or three seats. For half the trip we sat or stood outside. I didn't mind much because I was hoping to see whales. :)

Half way across, the kids managed to scooped 3 seats, so they sat inside with Sandra.

As we approached Digby, we spotted some harbour porpoises. People were saying they were dolphins, and I suppose they could have been, but since it was in the harbour, I'd put my bet on the porpoises.

The drive from Digby to Mount Uniacke was nice. I wanted to drive past the decomissioned CFB Cornwallis to see what it's like now, compared to what it was like back in the mid 80's when I was in the Navy. The tank and plane are still outside, across the street, but the font gate has been completely rebuilt and is now and RCMP office.

We continued on to Mount Uniacke and arrived at Colin and Sherri's place at around 3:30pm.

Zemanta Pixie

Friday, August 1, 2008

Maritime Trip - Day 2, Saint John, New Brunswick

The day started off with Sandra waking up before the rest of us, going out and coming back with Timmy's Coffee! YUM! The weather was gloomy, rainy, and of course, wet. The weather forecast even said showers with a chance of thunder showers. It wasn't looking like it was going to be a nice day to go anywhere.

Thankfully, that didn't turn out to be the case! It was cloudy for most of the day, but didn't rain again and was warm. The sunny breaks were very welcome too!

We started off with a quick trip to Zellers so Sandra could buy a bathing suit so we could go swimming in the hotel pool later in the evening.

We then went to Fort Howe. The place was deserted, which made it a little more enjoyable. Plus, it was free, and free is good when you're doing the tourist thing. :) There wasn't too much to see, but it's supposed to have the best view of the city and the view was pretty good.

Next, we were off to the Cherrybrook Zoo. It's very much like the Papanack Zoo in Cumberland, but with a much better layout. (Compared to the last time I went to Papanack years ago) They even have a section with animal statues representing specied that have become extinct. As we walked around, we could hear a roaring every once in a while. I was pretty sure it was the lions or the tiger, but Sandra had to ask one of the employees. He confirmed that it was indeed the lions. He said they're very loud, and even more so when he's working in the building at their pen. It was kinda spooky.

After a quick lunch at the mall, we went to The Reversing Falls. We got there at around 1:30pm, which turned out to be "High Slack". That's the only time that boats can travel from the bay and up the Saint John River, or vice versa. While we were there, Kaitlyn and I walked up to the park near it to find a small geocache. We found it quickly.

Back to the hotel we went to drop off the truck and then we were off to the New Brunswick Museum since it was a short walk from the hotel. Unfortunately, we got there at around 4:00pm, an hour before closing, so we kinda rushed through the exhibits. We were also told that taking photographs was not allowed. That kinda sucked. Half way through, Sandra asked one of the employees why that was. She said that we could in fact take pictures, but without a flash. Apparently camera flashes affects the artifacts. We didn't bother anyway. It was pretty cool though, especially the whale bones and fossils.

After the museum, we walked up to the Loyalist Burial Grounds. Again, free. :) It seems like somewhat of a teenager hangout too. We walked around and read a bunch of grave markers. From the looks of them, they were at one time all knocked over and some broken since they are now sitting on concrete blocks and some are held up with metal bars. Many are very difficult to read, having endured hundreds of years.

Before heading back to the hotel, we stopped at the Marketplace. Lots of fruits, veggies, meats, fish, and assorted craft stuff all in an open covered market. Boring for me, but Sandra wanted to see it.

As it was nearing low tide time for the Bay of Fundy, we headed back to the hotel to get the truck and drive back to the Reversing Falls to see the effects of low tide and the Saint John River. That was pretty cool. Rapids and whirlpools forming and disappearing.

Back again to the hotel and we went down to the mall beneath it to get some supper at the food court.

We wrapped up our day with a swim in the hotel's pool and a good 10 minute soak in the heated whirlpool. Soooo relaxing!

I have to say that today really made me hate our car GPS even more. It's so damned slow in updating as you drive and doesn't accurately indicate how far you are from the streets you're supposed to turn on, so I ended up missing many turns because you think it's the next street. I drove around more of Saint John than I wanted to. On streets like they have here in Saint John, you really need a fast GPS.

Again, I have to say that the people here are awesome. Drivers stop and let you pull out in front of them. People are friendly everywhere you go. They don't give you a fake smile and greeting like many do back in Ottawa.

Tomorrow, we hit the road once again. We'll be waking up early so we can arrive at the Princess of Acadia Ferry Terminal for 8:00am, an hour before sailing. Three hours or so later, we'll be in Digby and on our our way to friends in Mount Uniacke! The weather forecast once again doesn't look promising. Hopefully we luck out and get a day at least as nice as today. We're really hoping to spot some whales during our sail across the Bay of Fundy!