Showing posts with label vacations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vacations. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Toronto Trip - Day 3

Our first stop today was the CN Tower. It took us a while to find parking nearby in the spaghetti mess of streets and missed turns, but thanks to the GPS getting lost was pretty much impossible. :)

After parking, Sandra and Kaitlyn decided to pay a visit to the Leon's store located inside the old roundhouse. Kyle and I hung around outside and checked out the trains.

For the CN Tower, we decided to pay the extra and go the extra height up to the skypod, and it was amazing. The glass floor on the main viewing platform was fun. It seems the popular thing to do is lie down or sit on it and get your picture taken. Kyle and Kaitlyn both sat down.

Once we were back on the ground we went to see a 3D movie on surfing which was included in the price, then Kyle, Kaitlyn and I went for the Himalamazon "ride", which was sitting in side a small "room" that moved while a video displayed on the screen on front. It felt a little like a roller coaster ride. At the start, the woman said if anyone wanted it to stop for whatever reason, to wave their arms. A minute or so into it, Kaitlyn said she didn't like it. I told her to wave, she did, and they stopped it so she could exit. She stayed with the attendant and it started up again for the rest of us. While she was with the attendant, she got to watch the video camera showing us all inside the ride.

Next, we walked up to Yonge Street to grab a bite to eat at one of the hotdog vendors and to snap a pic of the Hockey Hall of Fame building. We decided not to go inside partly because of the time, and also the cost. In retrospect, we probably should have gone to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

We headed back to the truck, paid the $17 (SEVENTEEN DOLLARS!) for parking, and left for the Ontario Science Centre. The layout of that building is terrible, imho. And it seemed that most of the hands-on stuff that we tried didn't seem to work. Anyway, we were there up until around closing. I think I would have preferred the Hockey Hall of Fame.

So, we're done, and we'll be heading home in the morning. Overall, I think we had a great trip here. Kaitlyn is already asking where we'll be going next summer.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Toronto Trip - Day 2

What a long day.

Breakfast downstairs here at the hotel was excellent. Eggs, bacon, sausage, cereals, muffins, bagels, you name it, they had it.

The zoo was awesome. We paid the extra $3.25 per person to get tickets for the stingray petting pool and decided we'd leave it for last. More on that later.

There were a few exhibits that were closed for one reason or another, but not really any of the major animals that you would expect to see, so it really was fine with us. The day was hot, but the only animals that we didn't see because they seemed to be hiding were the lions. That kinda sucked, but even one of the zoo volunteers admitted that they didn't know where they were. That was a little disconcerting. :)

There was lots of walking, but what really burned us out was the walk down to and back up from the Canadian section. It way down a hill and the only way out is back up the same hill.

The highlight of the entire day for all of us had to be the stingray petting pool. It was much better than I expected and was well worth the extra $3.25 each. I thought it might be like where you lined up and got to pet one or two and then they'd move onto the next person, but it wasn't. They had this large shallow pool where everyone could stand around the side and spend as much time as they wanted and pet as many stingrays as they wanted. There was also a nurse shark and a few horseshoe crabs in the pool that you could pet. The shark kept its distance, but the stingrays were everywhere and seemed to enjoy being touched as they swam past. They asked that you only touch them on the back, but the stingers on the tails had apparently been "trimmed" just in case. Here's a tip: if you ever check this out, don't wait until the end of the day. Before you can get to the petting pool you have to remove all jewelry and watches from your hands and wrists, and wash your arms up to your elbows. After spending a day walking in the hot sun, we had a really difficult time taking our wedding rings off. :)

Our day wrapped up at around 6:00pm. We picked up some food at KFC and then headed back to the hotel. Tomorrow's agenda includes the CN Tower and the Ontario Science Centre. Depending on how much time we have, we may also visit the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Here's a few pics from our day. I have tons to sort through before posting more.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Toronto Trip - Day 1

We left home at around 5:45am this morning and arrived sometime around 11:00am.

We decided to first visit Casa Loma. It was awesome. The place is much bigger than I expected and we ended up spending a lot more time than than I thought we would. I can't believe how many different movies have been filmed inside there!  If you ever decide to visit there, take my advice and go in the spring or fall. It was soooo hot inside, despite the large floor and ceiling fans they had running in an effort to keep the place cool(er). Keep in mind that the place was built before air conditioning and I can't see them installing any a/c any time soon.

After we were done there,it was around 2:30pm, so we decided to find a place to eat and head to the hotel in Scarborough to check in. The traffic was pretty bad downtown and we ended up in front of the Royal Ontario Museum, one of the places we planned to visit. We decided to find a place to park, grab a bite to eat and then go to the museum instead. Lucky for us, they had the Terracotta Warriors exhibit, which cost an extra $7 per person to see. My wife really wanted to see it, so we did. Unfortunately, our time was somewhat limited because the museum closes at 5:30pm on Sundays. We had about 2-1/2 hours to see what we wanted to see.

We first checked out the Terracotta Warriors. Unfortunately, photography in that exhibit was not allowed. :( I could have had some really cool shots. It was a great exhibit to see though and we picked up a couple of our own smaller Terracotta Warriors from the exhibit gift shop.

We then checked out an Egypt exhibit, some dinosaur bones and the bat cave before hitting the gift store at closing. I have to say that we found the layout of the ROM to be a little confusing. Everything is very spreadout. But they did have air conditioning! :)

We checked in at the Holiday Inn Express in Scarborough. We were here for 5 minutes and we were already impressed. The staff are all super friendly, the place is very clean, and has nice decor throughout. They have free breakfast and free 24hr coffee. :) I'll let you know how good the breakfast is tomorrow. Oh ya... and free internet! (not wifi though)

It looks like we'll be heading to the zoo all day tomorrow, if the weather is good in the morning as the Weather Network says it will be.

I have way more photos taken and will post more once I have time to sort through them.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Week 3 - Silver Queen Mica Mine

After a few days camping with friends earlier this week, the photo of the week comes from Murphy's Point Provincial Park. This is an old building that served as an office and sleeping quarters for miners at the Silver Queen Mica Mine.

Silver Queen Mine Office and Sleeping Quarters

I loved the contrasting colour of the wood beneath the windows. If you'd like to see more photos of our camping trip (and surrounding areas of the Silver Queen Mica Mine) click away!
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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.

Zemanta Pixie

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!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Maritime Trip - Day 1, Ottawa to Saint John

We packed last night and set the alarm clock for 2:00am. For some reason, it didn't work. Luckily, Sandra woke up at around 2:30am.

We loaded the truck and woke the kids and managed to leave by 4:00am.

The scenery along the way is awesome. It really makes you appreciate living here in Canada. I'll summarize our day in point form:
  • Quebec has the most awesome rest stops. They're large, clean, well-kept, and the buildings that house the washrooms are huge and clean.
  • Our auto GPS sucks because it clearly has old maps. The new Trans Canada highway from around Edmonston to the Fredericton offramp doesn't exist on its map. So what it showed us, between its attempts to reroute, was that we were driving across fields, through forests, and over mountains. It's a good thing that we didn't have to make and route changes in that large stretch of highway.
  • It's the first time I've seen fences that follow a highway to keep deer and moose off the highway! They even have one-way gates every 1/2 kilometre that stop them from leaving the forest, but allow them back in if they should manage to find their way onto the highway side. Every so often, they have tunnels that pass under the highway to allow them to cross safely. Very cool idea!
  • They sure have a lot of "Watch for moose" warning signs along the highway to Saint John.
  • I love the 110km/h speed limit on the Trans Canada highway in New Brunswick! Driving 120kmh sure cuts down the travel time. :)
  • There are endless Tim Hortons along the highway. That is, until you really want one.
  • Downtown Saint John reminds me of Montreal... but a lot smaller, and with steeper streets.
  • The people here are super friendly.
  • The inside the Lafontaine Tunnel in Quebec needs some serious repairs.
  • Driving 14-15 hours is tiring, but not as brutal as I thought it would be.
  • It's more difficult to sleep in a moving vehicle than it used to be when I was a kid. (No, I wasn't driving at the time... Sandra was) :)
  • Driving across the Hartman bridge (world's longest covered bright) that crosses the Saint John river was pretty cool.
When we arrived at the Delta Brunswick in Saint John, it was around 7:00pm. There's a shopping mall under the hotel and it closes up at around 8:00pm. By the time we got down there to look for a place to eat, it was 7:50pm and too late. :( We went back to the restaurant in the hotel and ate there. It was fairly inexpensive and the food was good.

Shortly after 9:00pm we were done and decided to come back to our room and call it a night. We've got a big day tomorrow, going to do the touristy thing. I'm not entirely sure where we'll go and what we'll see. I know I want to see the Reversing Falls for sure. The kids seem more exciting about swimming in the hotel's indoor swimming pool. We have to find a Zellers or some store so Sandra can buy a new bathing suit -- she forgot to pack her's.

That's about it for today. Need sleep. I'll write again tomorrow and will post lots of pics on Flickr when we get home on August 9th, unless I manage to find time before then.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Just winging it

We're about three days away from our trip down to the Maritimes, and it feels like we're still not ready for it.

I suspect it'll be a mad packing rush at the last minute, which means not getting much sleep before our departure time of 3:00am in Thursday.

Despite the impending madness, I'm really looking forward to it, and I think my family is as well. This will be the longest drive we've ever done. The last long drive was from Ottawa to Niagara Falls, which went surprisingly well and didn't really feel like a long drive.

This time around we're looking at 12-13 hours, at least, to Saint John, New Brunswick. We'll spend two nights there before grabbing the ferry across to Digby, Nova Scotia, on our way to Mount Uniacke where we'll be staying with some friends.

We have a short list of places and things to see in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, but haven't really decided when we'll go see them all. We're pretty much just winging it.

There's a possibility that we may cut our stay in Nova Scotia short a day early and drive across to PEI for a night of camping, so we can visit Charlottetown.

We're so disorganized. :)

The cool thing is that I'll have internet access at the hotel we stay at in New Brunswick, as well as my friend's place, and the hotel on the way home. I can write a daily update about our trip. I'm sure it'll be worth reading. ;)

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