summer vacation

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summer vacation

Kathryn & Ken's Excellent Summer Maritime Vacation

This is a rough map of our adventure.  We flew to Montreal, then drove through the Maritmes.  Ferried across to Maine and drove across the northeastern states before returning to Montreal17 mostly sunny days

4500 kilometres of driving

4 Canadian provinces

4 American states

3 ferry rides

too much great food

lots of great beaches


What follows is a diary of our trip and a few of the more than 300 photos we took along the way.  All photos are thumbnails, hold your cursor over the picture for a photo caption, or double click for a larger picture.

Kathryn standing beside our rented Chevy Malibu at Dorval airportDay 1: We had booked our trip using air miles just two weeks before leaving.  Unfortunately, one week before we were to leave, I developed Shingles, a painful rash on my stomach and back.  We decided to go anyway.  We flew from Calgary to Montreal.  We rented a car at the airport (in the photo) and drove for about 3 hours to Quebec City.  It was very strange driving in what seemed like another country.  All the signs were in French only.  My limited high school French helped but when you are in a strange city trying to find out where you are on a map, it is challenging.  We stayed in a motel opposite Laval University in Ste. Foy, a suburb of Quebec City for two nights.

Day 2:  In the morning we found the local CAA office and got some local tourist information.  Unlike Montreal, not many people in Quebec City speak very good English, but everyone was friendly and tried to help us.  Our first stop was the Plains of Abraham and the Citadel, the fortress overlooking the St. Lawrence River.  We then spent the day walking around Old Quebec City.  It consists of two parts, Upper and Lower with hundreds of restaurants and shops.  After we had finished walking around the Lower City, we decided to walk west along the St. Lawrence River because our map showed a set of stairs back up to the Plains of Abraham where our car was parked.  After a long walk, we found the steps and climbed 400 (yes 400) steps to the top.  Then it was back to the motel for a late afternoon nap.  Later in the evening we returned to Old Quebec.  There was some sort of festival (the province of Quebec seems to be just one big festival after another) and thousands of people were out walking the streets.  One of the first strange things we saw was a big concert of performers singing country and western music in English in Quebec.  After another walking tour of the old city, it started to rain lightly so we stopped at an outdoor patio with umbrellas and enjoyed a wonderful meal of crepes.  As it was crowded, we were joined by a couple of older ladies who turned out to be sisters. 

Although they spoke no English, we were able to converse with them in our limited French. 


At right is a collage of photos from Quebec City. 




A small village along the north shore of the St. LawrenceDay 3:  We got off to an early start (which turned out to be a good thing as you'll see later) and decided to drive along the north shore of the St. Lawrence instead of taking the freeway on the south side.  Kathryn with Baie St. Paul, Quebec in the backgroundWe had a nice drive through quaint Quebec villages along the river.  The photo of Kathryn is taken above Baie St.Paul Ken's casual pose on the ferryWe then had a nice one hour ferry ride from St. Simeon to Riviere-du-Loup.  We spotted several whales at a distance during the crossing.  Another hour's drive through beautiful countryside and we were in New Brunswick.  We shortly arrived in Campbellton, our original destination.  Because it was early, we decided to keep going.  And going, and going.  Next thing we knew it was after 11:00 pm and we were in Moncton.  Driving in the dark, we took the exit for Dieppe by mistake.  After driving around a mall, Kathryn suggested we take a road called Main Street but Ken the Pathfinder said "No, that's the Main Street of Dieppe.  We need to get back on the freeway."  Back on the freeway and after a 30 minute drive circling Moncton we finally find a motel on Main Street in Moncton.  The next morning while leaving Moncton, we drove by the same mall, about two blocks from the hotel.

Day 4:  Up early and a short drive to Shediac, NB, the lobster capital of the world.  Ken about to become lobster red on Shediac beachIt was a gorgeous day and we spent most of the afternoon on the beach.  Kathryn on the beach at ShediacBecause of my shingles, I could only put sunscreen on the top half of my tummy.  We both fell asleep in the sun and unfortunately, Kathryn had not yet changed her watch to Atlantic time, so we got an extra hour of sun.  Kathryn with the Confederation Bridge in the backgroundNow I had sunburned shingles.  Back in the car and another short trip across the Confederation Bridge into Prince Edward Island, our third province.  An hour's drive through beautiful green and red (clay) scenery and we were at our bed and breakfast in Charlottetown for a two night stay.  After unpacking, we went and walked around the waterfront in Charlottetown.  After another great meal at a restaurant on the water, we were ready for bed.

Ken on a beach along the north shore of PEIDay 5:  We started with an early breakfast shared with two other couples staying in the same B&B and then we were off with a full day of touring the Island.  The lighthouse at the east end of PEI.  The tides from the Gulf of St. Larwrence and Northumberland Strait converge hereWe headed north and then along the shore to the lighthouse at the eastern tip of PEI.  PEI is a site to behold.  The lupins.  These gorgeous pink or purple flowers are all over the IslandThe entire island is green, except for the red dirt roads and the colourful lupin flowers which are everywhere.  It is simply breath-taking to drive around the Island.  We came back along the south coast.  My shingles were acting up, so I slept most of the time while Kathryn drove to Summerside.  Although this was a pretty city, we did not stay long because I was not feeling well.  Kathryn on Cavendish beach in the early eveningWe then headed north to the Cavendish beaches.  Anne of Green Gables houseWhile there, we had to stop and see Anne of Green Gables' house.  We then drove to an out-of-the-way church in the middle of nowhere called St. Ann's for their famous Lobster Dinner.  Kathryn's sister had dined there 20 years ago and recommended it.  They have been serving lobster dinner for 37 years and there must have been 75 people there that night.  We were absolutely stuffed on our short ride (everything in PEI is a short drive) back to C'town and a much needed sleep.

Picture taken from the ferry just off Wood IslandDay 6:  Up early to another great B&B breakfast and then off to the ferry from Wood Islands, PEI to Caribou, NS, our last province.  Sshh!  Let the poor boy sleep.The photo is from the ferry just off Wood Island.  I was still a little under the weather so I had to have a nap on the way over.  We then stopped in Antigonish for some lunch.  While we were eating our Subway sandwiches, I said to Kathryn "I know that voice".  A small inlet along the Caot TrailShe could not believe it when it turned out to be someone I had met a few years ago in Calgary.  Looking down a cliff along the Cabot TrailBack in the car, we crossed over the causeway into Cape Breton Island.  We then followed the coast from Port Hastings to Sydney along the Cabot Trail.  We saw some fabulous scenery along the Trail although we were disappointed with the east side where the road is mostly inland.  Stopping for a rest along the Cabot TrailWe had originally planned to stay in Sydney but decided to keep going to Louisbourg where we found a good, relatively cheap motel.  It was 8:45 when we went out for dinner and everything closed at 9:00 but one restaurant said they would stay open for us and we had another excellent meal (more clam chowder for Ken).

Day 7:  We spent the morning and early afternoon touring Fort Louisbourg.  It was very educational and it was neat to see the local people in period costumes and learning the history of the first French fort in Canada.  Our lunch was served 18th century style.  Here are some photos of the fort.

  Several building inside the fort   Kathryn inside the Governor's chapel                 Ken being interrogated by the guard at the entrance     Local people in period costumes            Another look at the fort with the town of Louisbourg across the harbour

We left Louisbourg in the afternoon, travelling down the east side of Bras d'Or Lakes to Port Hawkesbury, across the causeway and a nice drive through the northern interior of Nova Scotia to the east coast.  We had no reservation for this night and it was the only time it backfired on us.  I wanted to stay in a motel along the ocean - there's nothing quite like sitting and listening to the waves lap along the shore.  By the time we made our way to the coast and south along the Atlantic Ocean, it was starting to get dark.  All the motels along the way were either closed or had no vacancies.  We kept on trucking and the next thing we knew, it was after 11:00 pm and we were in Dartmouth - across the river from Halifax.  Kathryn found us a cheap motel in the AMA book and we bunked in for the night.  It had been a long day.

Day 8:  It was an overcast day as we tried to find a B & B along the coast near Halifax.  We finally settled on a motel on the Halifax harbour in the suburb of Bedford.  We managed to find a local library where we could access the Internet and send an email to our grandniece Avery.  It rained hard all day so we stayed in the motel.  We later drove into downtown Halifax to meet our friend Dan Smith from Calgary for dinner.  Dan was in Halifax visiting his parents.  By now it was a pretty good storm so we went back to the motel and I got another rest.  I was not feeling well again.  I had been taking drugs and Kathryn was a great nurse, patiently donning rubber gloves and applying ointment to my rash 4 or 5 times a day.  However, the long days seemed to wear me down.

Ships at the Halifax waterfrontDay 9:  We awoke to a foggy day which gradually cleared as the day went on.  The cupola in the Halifax Public GardensWe went down to the Halifax waterfront and did a tour of the Atlantic Maritime Museum.  There was all kinds of interesting stuff on the Halifax Explosion and the Titanic.  We then spent some time in the Halifax Public Gardens.  It was very peaceful walking amongst the many birds and exotic plants and flowers. 

A short drive down the coast sent us to the famous Peggy's Cove.  It was really foggy when we first got there but it cleared up later and stayed sunny the rest of the day.

 Here are some great photos of this picturesque fishing village.  The bottom photo is the Swiss Air Memorial just outside Peggy's Cove.


 We then had another scenic drive down the southeast coast of Nova Scotia.  We had originally planned on staying another day in Halifax but I was still craving my stay on the ocean, so we changed our plans.  We looked in a Nova Scotia tourist book and saw an ad for waterfront cabins in a place called Hunt's Point Our cabin at Captain's QuartersWe are a little nervous because there were no photos of Captain's Quarters Cabins in the ad and we had seen other 'waterfront' motels which were actually on the other side of the highway.  Ken in the early evening fog at Captain's QuartersBut there was something about the description that caught my fancy, so we booked it the previous day.  We were pleasantly surprised.  So much so that we immediately booked it for a second day.  Kathryn loves this placeThe owner was a Dutch carpenter who had built the cabins himself.  The cabins had a kitchen/sitting room with a separate bedroom.  It was our favourite place to stay on the whole trip - even if we forgot to take a photo of the inside.  We unpacked and took the short walk down to the beach, just as the evening fog rolled in.  We made a short trip back to Liverpool to pick up a few groceries for our kitchen.  It was a nice change from restaurant food.

A stop halfway down Carter's BeachDay 10:  After a late breakfast, we decided  to take a ten minute drive to Carter's Beach, which had been recommended to us.  Ken posing on Carter's BeachIt was gorgeous soft sand with crystal clear water.  It reminded us of the Caribbean except that the water was freaking cold.  Kathryn relaxing on the beach at Captains QuartersWe spent most of the afternoon walking the two-kilometre beach.  This was a good day because it was our first exercise since the infamous stair climb in Quebec City.  Captains Quarters beach with the fog goneThen it was back to a quiet time on our own secluded beach at Captain's Quarters.  That night we went for an expensive but very good meal at a restaurant that overlooked the water.


The Cat ferry fromYyarmouth to Bar HarbourDay 11:  A two hour drive down the coast to Yarmouth and we were ready to catch the "Cat" ferry over to Bar Harbor, Maine The wake behind the ferryThe Cat travelled at about 50 mph and left an incredible wake.  This was not your average ferry.  They had two different cafeterias, two huge screen TV's - one for adults and one for kids.  There was even a casino and duty free shop on board.  It made the crossing in just under 3 hours.  We cleared American customs easily and set foot in the USA.  We found ourselves a relatively - for Bar Harbor -inexpensive motel.  I was not feeling very well, so I stayed in the room for a power nap while Kathryn went shopping.  Bah Hahbah (in Maine speak) is an American tourist town near the Mount Desert National Park and has hundreds of shops.  It reminds me of downtown Banff.  Kathryn came back to get me 3 hours later and we went downtown for another great lobster dinner.  After dinner, I went back to the motel to lay down and Kathryn went back shopping. 

I woke up about 9:30 and she wasn't back yet.  I was very nervous, so I pulled myself out of bed and walked about 10 blocks along the main street and back - twice.  Finally she showed up totally flabbergasted that I was concerned; after all she was shopping.  What was I thinking? 

At left are some photos of Bar Harbor.  I didn't put any captions on these pictures.


Day 12:  Another great breakfast in Bar Harbor - notice the recurring food theme here - and we were on our way across Maine, our first US state.  Welcome to MexicoThroughout our trip we joked about seeing several signs for places around the world, like New Zealand (PEI), and Lebanon (New Hampshire).  We actually drove through Mexico (Maine).  It was neat to drive across Maine and see the old colonial mansions.  Typical New England houseWe would come to small towns and nearly every house in town would be huge.  We also noticed something else.  The house is connected to the barn.  This was typical throughout the northeastern statesMany of these large houses had attached barns.  There would be a two story house with a small runway building leading to a barn and they were all connected.  We saw them everywhere.  After about 4 hours we were across Maine and entered New Hampshire, our second state.  Because we were so far north, it was only a half hours drive before we were in state number three, Vermont.  These northeastern states were gorgeous; the drive was full of forests, streams and small mountains.  Directly in front of our cabin at Joe's PondIt would be great to see them in the fall when the leaves change colours.  We finally stopped in a little place called Joe's Pond.  The rustic cabins were right on the water and you could rent a variety of watercraft from canoes, to motorboats to houseboats.  I thought this was my dream spot - we were going to spend a couple of days here.  Unfortunately the 'rustic' cabins proved to be too rustic.  Although the location was fantastic, the mattress was way too soft, the room was full of spiders and the restaurant was closed.  We decided that we probably could afford better digs so we moved on.

Notice the second bridge in the distanceDay 13:  We were on our way early in the morning.  Ken driving in the covered bridgeWe stopped in the state capital of Montpelier for breakfast and got a parking ticket because we forgot to put money in the meter.  On the way to Burlington, we found some covered bridges that Kathryn just had to photograph (that's me in the car again in the photo at left).  We bypassed Burlington and continued north.  Obey the speed limitBurlington is on Lake Champlain, which is a very large lake - it was actually considered one of the Great Lakes for a time.  North of Burlington is a series of interconnected islands.  The view of Shore Acres from the end of the dockWe had been advised to take the highway through the Lake Champlain Islands rather than the freeway back to Canada.  We found another fantastic place to stay, the Shore Acres Motel on Grand Isle.  It was right on the lake, had a great lawn leading to the water.  The motel had a first class restaurant - many people came by boat for dinner and had a resident chocolate lab named Cooper Ken having a chat with CooperWe would stay here two days.  After unpacking we drove the thirty minutes back to Burlington.  Kathryn dropped me off for a brewery tour at the Magic Hat Brewery while she went shopping again - everybody's got to do what they do best.  On the way home we stopped at great pizza place on the island.  We ordered a large which turned out to be the size of the table.  We took a large doggie bag home and had cold pizza for lunch the next day.

Ken practicing for the Pan Am Games swim competitionDay 14:  We spent most of the day sitting on beach chairs by the water, reading and enjoying the sun.  The view of Lake Champlain from our room in Shore Acres MotelMy shingles felt so much better that I even went for a swim.  The water was much warmer than the Atlantic Ocean.  Kathryn decided that there was definitely more shopping to be done so she drove back to Burlington while I napped and read some more.  We went out for a pasta dinner and went to bed early.

Day 15:  We were going to spend more time by the water but it got too hot so we decided to head out.  We continued north on a delightful drive through the Lake Champlain Islands.  Our home and native landAt the north end we had to head west and crossed over into New York, our fourth state.  We were only in New York for about 15 minutes before being whisked through Customs and back in Canada.  A 90 minute drive and we were in Montreal, a huge city with lots of freeways and all the street signs in French.  Also people double park all over the place and change lanes without signaling.

After a comedy of errors - with Ken driving and Kathryn navigating - driving on one way streets, no left turns, and dead end streets we finally found our B&B on Square St. Louis, a small park surrounded on three sides by three story Victorian style apartments.  As you will see this turned out to be a great location because we could walk to almost everywhere.  Our hosts weren't home so we went for lunch.  We returned and unpacked.  Kathryn was in her glory as our hosts had three and half cats - 3 of their own and a third (Blanche) who dropped in and wouldn't leave.  At left is a photo montage of Square St. Laurent B & B, hold your pointer over a photo for a description and double click for a larger view.

The Olympic Stadium.  The Expos were out of townWe then went to fill up our gas tank and continued on to the Olympic Stadium.  Next was comedy of errors part two - trying to return our rented car to downtown Montreal on a Friday afternoon as they are starting to block off streets for a festival.  We had picked up our car at the airport but we were renting it by the week and we had used it exactly two weeks and didn't need it anymore.  We found out that we could return it downtown for only a $7 fee and not have to pay the cab fare back form the airport.  The Budget map showed the car return on the south side of a block long shopping complex.  After a right turn and still no Budget, I let Kathryn out on the west side to find it while I parked in a no stopping zone.  One minute later, a bylaw cop came and shoed me away.  After several one way streets going the wrong way and breaking a few traffic laws, I found my way to the east side of the complex and, voila, there was Budget.  Now I had to drive back to find Kathryn.  After another trip around, we finally dropped the car off and walked about 15 blocks back to our B & B for a much needed nap.  We then headed back to downtown.  Kathryn ready to go down Rue St. Denis for the Just For Laughs FestivalWe were only a block from the Latin Quarter, and about 10 blocks on Rue St. Denis was closed off for the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival.  There were thousands of people on the street watching the various buskers, sitting in sidewalk cafes and taking in the various displays.  One block over was a huge park that was also having a two day African music festival.  I was not feeling too well so after walking around for two or three hours, we ended up skipping dinner and walked back home.

Day 16:  Kathryn got up early and went exploring.  Walking down Rue Prince ArthurAt the western edge of Square St. Louis, she found Rue Prince Arthur, a five or 6 block pedestrian-only street containing about 20 different restaurants.  There was just about every kind of ethnic food available, all with outdoor patios.  The western edge of Rue Prince Arthur runs into the well-known Boulevard St. Laurent, another long street full of restaurants and shops.  Home of Schwartz's smoked meat sandwichesShe came back and got me and we went to the famous Schwartz's Deli for a huge Montreal smoked meat sandwich and the biggest pickle I've ever ate.  Schwartz's is a little hole-in-the-wall place on St. Laurent but people were lined up to get in for lunch.  Ken taking a rest along Rue St. DenisWe then decided to go back to Rue St. Denis in the afternoon for the Comedy Festival.  There weren't quite as many people as last night.  Along the street they had several special cars - one was covered in plaid as was its driver;  another was covered in grass and one guy had converted a three wheeled motorcycle into a giant red ladies high heeled shoe.  The only one that was still there today was a van completely coved in cameras of every size and type.  Van covered with hundreds of camerasSix of them were real working cameras and the guy who owned the van was going around the country taking pictures of people who didn't know their picture was being taken.  There were also 4 working video screens along the side. 

We continued down Rue St. Denis down to Old Montreal and the waterfront. 


We spent a few hours looking around and then walked back to our B & B.  Here are a few photos of Vieux Montreal.


We decided to go to the football game.  The Stampeders were in town to play the Alouettes at Molson Stadium at McGill University which was only about 10 or 12 blocks away.  Our football ticketsThere were no tickets available but we tried our luck and bought a couple of tickets from a scalper for $30 each.  Even though Calgary lost the game, it was interesting to watch the game in Molson Stadium which is much smaller and more intimate than other CFL stadiums.  On our way home we stopped along Rue Prince Arthur for dinner.  Even though it was almost 11:00 pm, there were hundreds of people dining at the outdoor cafes and hundreds more strolling up and down the street.

The Biodome with the Olympic Stadium in the backgroundDay 17:  Our plane didn't leave until 7:00 pm, so we decided to go down to Old Montreal again.  We then jumped on the Metro (what a great way to get around a large city) and went to the Montreal Biodome,

which is next to the Olympic Stadium.  The Biodome is basically an indoor zoo and aquarium that shows plants and animals in their natural environment. 

We spent two or three hours here.  These are some of the things we saw.  The sturgeon was about five feet long.

We got off the Metro downtown and walked up Blvd St. Laurent one last time.  Ken enjoying ice cream on Rue Prince Arthur, about a half block from our B & BWe had just enough time for a quick ice cream in a cafe on Rue Prince Arthur and then it was time to catch a cab to the airport.  Dorval Airport seems like miles from downtown Montreal but the taxi fare was only $28, compared to the $35 cab fare from the Calgary airport home.  By the time we unpacked, it was nearly 1:00 am ( 3:00 am Montreal time).  Home sweet home

It was a great holiday but there is nothing quite like sleeping in your own bed.


What a Country!

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