Tag Archives: New Brunswick

Island Getaway for Two…

Here’s another post from the archives…it was originally published March 31, 2010.  Sadly, Jim and I haven’t been on a “couple’s trip” since this one (we used to go away twice a year, but the kids’ busy schedules have interfered).  We plan to go to Prince Edward Island some time later this year though.  The ferry we travelled on was involved in an accident a few weeks ago, and is currently being repaired in Halifax…a smaller, older boat is doing the run now, much to the chagrin of those who depend on it to get back and forth regularly.
Although I’ve lived in New Brunswick for 25 years, I had never been to Grand Manan…until Sept. 25, 2009.

Last July, I celebrated my 48th birthday (yes, I know that’s difficult to believe…ha!). My fiancé, Jim, took us all out to the Mediterranean Restaurant for my birthday dinner, and presented me with a handmade card detailing my birthday present – a romantic trip for two to Grand Manan that we would take in the fall.  With three teens and a tween, couple time is limited and valuable for us!

Sometime in August, a couple from Lubec, Maine (Daphne and Gerald), was in our bookstore, and mentioned that they were in Grand Manan quite often. I explained that we were going there, and they gave me the names of a couple of places they liked to stay on the island. One was the Inn at Whale Cove Cottages.  Jim made the reservation almost immediately.

We set out for our trip early on Friday morning, leaving our home about 7 a.m. Knowing there were cooking facilities available at our destination, we brought our cooler filled with food, enough for two nights away. The weather was grey and windy. Our trip to the ferry at Black’s Harbour was uneventful – we stopped for gas, and picked up some apple fritters nearly as big as my head at Robin’s Donuts. We got in line for the ferry…this was only my second time on the ocean in my life…I was a bit nervous!

Finally, the ferry arrived, and we drove onboard. We went upstairs, found window seats in the cafeteria, and settled down with tea and the Telegraph-Journal. The water was choppy that day, and we soon found ourselves getting headaches from staring into the waves, trying to catch sight of whales or dolphins. Jim felt a bit queasy, but I just felt unsteady, preferring to stay seated as we made the hour-and-a-half crossing.

North Head from the ferry as we arrived...photo by Jim...

We arrived at 11:30 a.m., and began looking for a suitable place to stop for lunch. We discovered Galloway’s Family Restaurant, quite close to the ferry terminal. Jim had the taco salad, and I ordered a chicken burger platter. Both dishes were excellent, reasonably-priced, and very filling! The fries were crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside…yummy! My coleslaw had apples in it, and was dusted with an herb that I couldn’t identify…but it tasted good, and disappeared quickly!

After lunch, we started exploring the island. We were fortunate to stumble on Zelda’s Bookroom, a small store I had heard about from friends where you leave the money for the books you buy on the kitchen table. We met the owner, Zelda Foote, who was a friendly lady in her 70’s, and her granddaughter. We bought four books, including “The Pilot’s Wife,” which Zelda recommended, and invited her to visit our store when she was in the Saint John the next time. Then we were off to find our accommodations.

We found a sign pointing the direction to Inn at Whale Cove Cottages at the end of Whistle Road. The Inn was about a mile up the road. A forested gravel lane led us down the hill to a group of unpretentious old buildings sided with cedar shakes. We headed for the door marked “Office” in the main house. A note under a paperweight signed “L.” advised that someone would be “Back at 3:30.” Since it was just past two, we wandered around the corner of the building toward the dining room, hoping to find someone there. The lounge leading into the dining room was an antique living room, complete with fireplace, cozy furniture, and a huge bookcase filled with old books, bestsellers of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. I was HOME! In the dining room, we found tables neatly set for dinner, but no one in sight. We decided to do a little more reconnaissance of the island while we waited, and aimed the van back towards North Head.

For those who don’t know about Grand Manan, here’s a little background: Located in the Bay of Fundy between southwestern New Brunswick and Lubec, Maine, it’s an island of some 2500 people who live mainly on the eastern coast (the west coast is known for its 300-foot cliffs and high winds). There is no mall, no movie theatre, and not a sign of Tim Hortons anywhere. The only signs of the mainland are the Irving (gas bar)/Save-Easy (grocery store)/Greco Pizza located in one building, and the NB Liquor outlet down the road. The remainder of the businesses on the island are privately owned and operated. The local economy revolves mainly around the sea – fishing, dulse (dried seaweed that some people find tasty), and tourism. There is a community centre (which had a sign outside advertising a dance with a Saint John area band), a library/school, and Christian churches of nearly every denomination. One of my friends who comes from the island told me that the favoured evening activity for young people is driving, sometimes at high speeds – she advised that we stay in after dark.

As we drove around, I saw a sign for a used clothing store. We looked around for a while, but did not buy anything. The next stop was Save-Easy, where we got a tray of a dozen day-old Danish (half-price), some fresh mushrooms, some chips, and a carton of orange juice. After a stop for “necessities” (beer for Jim) at the liquor store, we went back to Whale Cove to find our host.

We got back to Whale Cove about 3:20, and Jim went into the office, hoping that someone would be there. No luck…he returned to the van shaking his head. We turned on the radio, and waited in the parking lot…3:30 came and went, and still no cars joined us. Finally I said, “Maybe they were just in another part of the house, and are back in the office by now.” Jim tried again. Five minutes later, he emerged smiling and victorious. “Our room’s up there,” he said, pointing to the hill behind the van. Back up the laneway we went, and found the driveway for our building. The sign on the front of the house read “Coveview.”  We parked at the side of the house, and went around the back as per the instructions. The door to “John’s Flat” was unlocked, and we entered our island paradise…

The entryway into the living room was keyhole-shaped, with the pattern repeated in the ceiling – the architecture of the house was amazing…not an edge anywhere, everything was rounded off! The living room consisted of a sofabed, coffee table and two end tables, two antique chairs, a wooden table along the wall with chairs at each end and a bench at the side, a small TV with basic cable, a portable CD player (next time I will remember my music!), an old radio, two shelves of quality books (mix of new/old), magazines, and some tourist literature. The room was decorated perfectly: calm colours accented with tasteful lamps, a beautiful rug in the seating area, antique blue and white plates mounted on the wall, and good local art. Three large windows and two smaller ones allowed light to flow into the room.

Next was the kitchen: modern appliances (stove, fridge, microwave), and a stacking washer/dryer pair tucked into a closet. There was a toaster, blender, and even a cappucino/espresso machine (which I didn’t use because we’re not coffee drinkers – and I was a little afraid!). Open-concept wooden shelves were equipped with plates, bowls, mugs, glasses (drinking and wine), and serving bowls. The lower cupboards were stocked with various pots and pans, and the drawers held silverware, cooking utensils (even a rolling pin), dish cloths and towels, aluminum foil, etc. The shelf near the stove had some kitchen staples: olive oil, sugar cubes, some spices, and even a couple of cookbooks. A large clock was strategically placed over the stove – handy for those of us who don’t wear a watch!

Dinner the first night, salmon and scallops cooked by Wendy and photographed by Jim...

The bathroom was medium-sized and spotless. The same rounded lines of the rest of the house were repeated there. The low sink/vanity had a stool where one could sit while doing one’s makeup, and a handy shelf underneath which held three rolls of toilet paper. This was much appreciated, as I can’t count the number of places I’ve stayed where there was only one extra roll, and you end up worrying about running out before you leave (there were also ample supplies of tissues and paper towels provided – thank you!). There was a sit-down shower in the bathroom, and a temperature control that allowed you to control the heated floor tiles! There were lots of fluffy towels/washcloths on the rack, and extra hooks to hang the wet ones.

On to the best room – the bedroom! We saw a king-sized bed with nature-toned linens, covered with lots of big pillows and a fluffy duvet. In the corner in front of three large windows was a jacuzzi big enough for two, that one had to go up steps to get into. A basket stood nearby with more soft towels, and there was a Ziploc bag with bath salts provided. An antique dresser, two bedside tables (one shelf held an oral history someone had compiled about Whale Cove Cottages – delightful reading), old lamps on doilies, more art and more books also occupied the room. On the wall was a portrait of the room’s namesake, John Buckley (the owner’s brother), inked in 1965 when he was a young boy.

The Jacuzzi tub in the bedroom...

Our time at Whale Cove went very quickly – we enjoyed having nothing pressing to do! We ate good meals (salmon/scallops the first night and steak/mushrooms the second), and read in the sun on our deck on Saturday (I even went to a yard sale that morning – didn’t find anything, but had a great walk!). We picked our way down the path to the beach (suggested that this walk be taken in the daytime – path has lots of roots to trip one up), and saw small dorys tied up. We drove to the ferry terminal on Saturday to pick up our ticket for the next day – thanks to Holly for the tip!

Reading on the deck...photo by Jim...

Our last day, Sunday, arrived before we were ready…we packed up the van, and went to the office to check out. We thanked our host, Laura Buckley, who promised to visit the bookstore next time she was in Saint John. We headed for the boat, making a small detour at the Swallow Tail Light Station to take pictures. There were lots more people making the crossing back to the mainland that day – we were glad we got there early. We stopped at a small gift shop near the terminal, and Jim bought me some silver shell earrings as a momento of our trip.

Jim on the bridge to the Swallow Tail Light House station...photo by Wendy...

When it was 11:15, we were back in the van in the ferry lineup again. The crossing was calmer this time, but I still did not have my “sea legs” and spent most of the ride looking out the window in the lounge. Jim went out on the deck and took farewell pictures of our cottage as we headed out to sea…

We hope to go back to Grand Manan in 2011…can’t wait!

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Yard Sales…The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of The Feet…

Here’s an archive post originally published March 30, 2010 (if you’ve received two notifications of this, I apologize – I’m reposting it for the second time today, because I don’t think the e-mail notifications worked the first time):

The best yard sale ad I ever saw was in a Moncton newspaper many years ago…it gave the pertinent details of the sale, followed by this: “Early birds will be ignored.”  My kind of vendor!  There’s nothing more frustrating than arriving at a sale at the advertised start time, only to find that vultures have picked all the best meat off the bones!

I’ve been going to yard sales/house sales/flea markets/auctions since I was small…we’d get up many Saturday mornings, and head for a nearby farm auction.  At one of these, my brother and I decided we’d really like to have a calf, but Dad convinced us that our mom would have a COW if he came home with one!  On Sunday drives, I remember us sitting in the car as Mom looked angrily at her watch waiting for Dad to stop talking to some stranger who had something to sell (my mom caught the yard sale bug much later in life, after she started collecting and selling Sherman jewellery).  In the late ’70’s, Dad started setting up his own stall at flea markets (he collected sealers and pretty much anything to do with farming, as well as books).

Forty years later, I still like calves, but don't really want one any more...

After I was married and had kids, going yard-saling was an inexpensive outing for a Saturday…we lived in Moncton and didn’t have a car then…we walked to all the sales we attended.  I’d set the alarm early, pack up the kids, and off we’d go, with a carefully-planned list of sales we wanted to get to and their start times.  I mostly bought books, clothes and toys then, although I would keep my eyes open for bells/wooden boxes for my mom’s collections.

We moved to Saint John in late 1997, and continued our yard-saling habit…since opening the bookstore in the summer of 2000, we also started looking for old/local books on our Saturday mornings.  We go to the Sussex Flea Market every summer, where over 1000 vendors set up outside to sell everything from antlers to zinnias.  I started training my middle daughter, Anna, how to “pick” old books at age 8, and today, at 15, she definitely has “the eye”…she knows what to take and what to leave behind!

I picked up this little book "Mary Queen of Scots" for 10 cents...it's listed online for $20!

I even yard-sale on vacation…I was in Belleville, Ontario for a college reunion, and went to a few sales in the east end where the beautiful old homes are.  Lying on the grass, I spied a beautiful Native Canadian print that I wanted as a gift for my best friend, who is of aboriginal descent.   As I leaned over to pick it up, someone with faster fingers snatched it out from under me…after shooting her a look that should have caused her to at least feel faint (it didn’t seem to have any effect), I let her have it…

I was tramping around the West Side of Saint John, when I found a gorgeous pen and ink drawing of a farmhouse – I liked it because it reminded me of my grandma’s house.  The problem was that it was huge – about 2′ x 3′, and I was on foot.  It was also in the most hideous frame I’d ever seen, with floral wallpaper acting as a homemade mat.  I asked the woman how much it was – $8!  I told myself that I would go to one more sale around the corner and then come back…if the drawing was still there, I’d buy it and call a cab to get home.  I was lucky that day…I forked over the money and took my prize home.  The next day, I called my friend, Amy, who has a frame shop on the West Side, Amy’s Custom Framing.  We made a barter deal for a proper frame and mat – $150 worth.  Amy did a beautiful job on the artwork, and I hung it over the fireplace in my living room.  I’ve never been able to determine the artist’s name – I assume it’s local though.

Since moving to Hammond River a little over a year ago, yard-saling has been more difficult…I don’t have a driver’s license, and Jim doesn’t like getting up early.  However, I was able to make the rounds at the Quispamsis Community Yard Sale last spring.  He even started to get into it, especially after one lady started giving us stuff!  I was buying a computer chair ($10) from her, and Jim had two routers ($2 each).  She pointed out the “free pile,” which contained a dehumidifier and two boxes of computer network cable that Jim said were sold retail for about $1 a foot!  We grabbed them!  Other finds that day were an apple peeler for $3; a gooseneck pole lamp for $5; two non-stick muffin pans for $1 each; a laptop bag for $2 for my stepdaughter, Brianna; a pair of Robeez baby shoes for $5 and a nursing pillow for $4 for my unborn granddaughter; and several books.  My daughters, Anna and Hope, got a High School Musical dance game.   Hope even picked up a stuffed teddy bear for our dog, Jake, which he wasted no time destroying!  A month or so later, we went to the Hampton Community Yard Sale, and got a good haul of books, but not much else.

"The best apple peeler ever!" according to my stepson, Devin...

I’m looking forward to the sales again this year…it will be a lot easier getting our purchases into the back of the van instead of the Corolla!

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Wood That I Could…

Here’s another one from the archives…it was originally published March 29, 2010 in the first week of my blog.  It’s almost firewood delivery time again…enjoy!

I’m not bragging when I say that we live in a BIG old house (it’s a good thing with seven people in the family).  Instead of building a new one when the family got bigger, they just added on.  Consequently, we have two kitchens, two living rooms, a dining room, a laundry room, five bedrooms, two full baths, and two half baths!  With a house this size and the price of electricity, we appreciate our ability to use our wood furnace for heat.

When we found the house in late October, 2008, there was no firewood left in the basement.  Jim’s parents, and sister and brother-in-law donated some downed trees/brush from their yards to get us started, but I spent the next two months calling every place I could find trying to get wood.  After an exceptionally wet spring and summer (and the death/retirement of a couple of suppliers), firewood was in short supply.  Finally, in late January, I found someone in St. Stephen (an hour-and-a-half away) who had dry wood.  I paid an arm and a leg, plus delivery charges, for two cords.  I asked them to bring it around the back to the basement door, so we could stack it inside.

We came home from work to find that the load had been delivered…however, it was dumped in our driveway (right in front of where we normally park the car).  When I called the supplier, he explained that they had tried to get to the basement, but had gotten stuck in the snow.

That weekend, we rounded up all four kids, my dad, a couple of wheelbarrows (one of which had a wonky wheel), and even a snow scoop, and began the task of transferring the wood from the driveway to the basement.  Each trip was down a hill and around a corner in snow about eight inches deep – countless times, the load would fall off on the way down.  After retrieving the fallen cargo, the wheelbarrow would be taken down a ramp and dumped in the basement for someone to stack.  On more than one occasion, taller people forgot to duck going in, and clocked themselves on low-hanging beams.  It was cold, too!  Getting the wood in took several days.

We were, however, very happy to see the drop in our power bill from January to February – it went from over $700 to less than half of that!

When spring came, we resolved not to be caught without wood again…we called a supplier in Sussex who advertised in the newspaper, and arranged a delivery of five cords in July.  The price per cord was better, and there wasn’t an extra delivery charge!  I repeated my instructions to bring the wood to the back of the house, and told him I would leave a cheque in the mailbox for him.

We arrived home from work on delivery day to find…you guessed it: five cords of wood in the middle of our driveway!  I almost cried!  Deep ruts in the yard indicated where the wood truck had gotten stuck in the mud trying to get to the basement.  “I’m sorry, ma’am, but I had to get another truck to pull me out!” Wally the wood guy told me afterwards.

About 3/4 of the woodpile where it was dumped, completely blocking our "roundabout" driveway...

Jim and I, and my dad, worked away at the pile over the next few weeks (the kids were too busy bouncing on the trampoline/playing on their computers to help!).  At least it was summer, and we didn’t have to haul it through the snow this time!  We enjoyed working together, although we soon found out how out of shape we were!  We ate ibuprofen like M & M’s!

This is me right after I lost my balance and fell into the woodpile...

The wood was good, but it was also infested with earwigs, which I found in the most unsuitable places in my house for weeks after the wood arrived!  Someone left a Brita water pitcher out on the counter…we found an earwig between the insert and the pitcher…ewww!

One of the pesky critters which were all over the house...

Since the wood was a bit wet, Jim used his technical skills to rig up an ingenious drying system using a dehumidifier and a fan placed strategically in the basement.  It was successful, and the wood burned well when it came time to start the furnace up again in October.

Jim and I stacking wood in the basement...

Wally the wood guy called me last month to set up delivery for this year.  We decided he would come with another five cords in July…we both hope he doesn’t get stuck again!

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Cousin George…Building a Door for Opportunity to Knock On…

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”  Milton Berle

My friend, Clay at EduClaytion, did an interesting post yesterday about creating opportunities for yourself.  It made me think of my ex-husband’s cousin, George Beckett, who I had the great pleasure of meeting some fifteen years ago.  Despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles, George spent his life seeking opportunities and making the most of them.

George was born in 1922 in New Jerusalem, New Brunswick, the eldest son of eight children of Edwin and Mildred (Machum) Beckett.  The Becketts were farmers, and Edwin also owned a sawmill.  Little George wasn’t an ordinary boy…he was diagnosed in early childhood with osteogenesis imperfecta or “brittle bones disease.”

“My mother wouldn’t let me go to school with the other children, because she was afraid I would get hurt,” George explained.  “My sister was a year older than I was, and when she would bring her school books home, Mother would teach me what my sister was learning.”  It was from this homeschooling that George’s lifelong love affair with books and reading was born.  Schoolwork wasn’t the only thing George did at home…he was in charge of repairing the shoes and boots of his father’s workers.  He learned to play the mandolin, violin, banjo and harmonica.  George taught his siblings how to play the guitar.

By the time he was 21, George had suffered at least 200 fractures.  Growing up in a large family during the Depression meant that money was spent on food, not medical treatment…the fractures were largely untreated, and thus did not heal correctly.  This led to George’s growth being stunted…his stature wasn’t much more than four feet as an adult, and his frame was significantly twisted.  He built himself a wheeled cart that he used to get around.

About this time, George expressed the desire to learn a trade so that he wouldn’t be a burden on his parents.  He wrote a letter to Eaton’s and convinced them to send him a book on watch and clock repair.  George studied carefully, and was soon overwhelmed with repair work left for him by neighbours and friends!

George moved to a farm in Bloomfield, New Brunswick, in 1954.  George got tired of asking people to drive him around when he wanted to go somewhere.  He modified a piece of farm equipment into a custom-built car with hand controls, and drove it the 35 miles into Saint John and demanded the authorities give him a license.  They did.

George’s home in Bloomfield was a two-storey frame farmhouse…it was impossible for George to get upstairs in his wheelchair.  He designed an elevator, and had it installed in the house.

We visited George at that house in 1996.  The leprechaun-like man greeted us at the door in his electric wheelchair…I don’t know who was happier to see us…George or his big friendly dog!  George ushered us in, gave us a tour of his workshop, and seated us in the comfortable living room.  My father-in-law gathered all the latest gossip on the family since he’d last seen them (he lived in Kelowna, British Columbia at the time, and had come to visit us in Moncton).  I was impressed with the huge number of books that George had collected over the years (that was before I was in the book business).  He was especially fond of geography: “I’ve travelled the world by reading these books,” George told me.

Since I’d never met him before, George told me a little more of his story:  “I never depended on the government for anything…I’ve always supported myself!” he declared.  “I have a couple who stays with me and helps me look after the place.  Besides playing music and reading, I like to hunt…I get a deer every fall!  I’m also active in my church.”

After we chatted for a while, we all went to George’s sister’s house for supper…George drove his own car (modified with hand controls), the very same car that he used to pick up other seniors on Sunday morning to bring them to church.  Many of George’s siblings were there, teasing him just as brothers and sisters do…his constant smile was a testament to the love his family gave him!

Meeting George had a profound effect on me…it’s hard to feel sorry for yourself when you encounter a man like that!  He took lemons and made lemonade, and he wasn’t bitter, even after spending his whole life in constant pain!

George passed away on May 31, 2004.  I am one of many people who will never forget him!

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My Favourite Place in the World…The Bay of Fundy

Since my posts this week have been in the “tourism” vein, I thought that rerunning this post from last April would be a fitting way to end the week…feel free to vote…we need all the help we can get:

For the last 26 years, I have lived within half an hour of my favourite place in the world: the amazing Bay of Fundy!  On the CBC news this morning, I learned that the Bay has made the finals of an international contest to designate the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.  It’s the only Canadian nominee in a prestigious list of 28 tourist attractions which includes the Dead Sea, the Grand Canyon, the Great Barrier Reef and the Amazon rainforest.  I’ll put “my Bay” up against those places any time…

Located on the east coast of Canada, the Bay of Fundy stretches some 170 miles between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia (http://www.bayoffundytourism.com/).  It has the highest tides in the world: 50 feet (time between low and high tide is 6 hours and 13 minutes).  There’s even a blog about the Bay of Fundy: http://bayoffundy.blogspot.com .

My first experience with the Bay was when I lived in Moncton – we had relatives visiting from Ontario, and we took them to Hopewell Rocks to show them the huge flowerpot rocks carved by the powerful tides of the Bay.  I remember going down the many steps to the beach (and then huffing and puffing all the way back up!).

Hopewell Rocks at Low Tide...

After moving to Saint John in 1997, the Bay was literally five minutes away…this is where I discovered my beloved Bayshore Beach – the place I have already instructed my loved ones to scatter my ashes when I’m gone.  Bayshore was a “happinin’ place” in the early part of the 20th century, but fell out of favour when West Side residents started travelling more in cars.  The water at Bayshore is bone-chillingly cold a lot of the time…you wade in, and by the time you get to shin-depth, you’ve lost all feeling in your ankles – the kids still swim there though!  The beach is sandy, but also covered with interesting stones and seaweed, as well as driftwood.  The kids love looking for “beach glass,” small pieces of glass that have been worn smooth by the action of the sometimes violent waves of the Bay.  There are a few shells on Bayshore, mostly clamshells, and the occasional hermit crab.  A few years ago, I remember sitting on the beach for at least an hour, watching a small bright green beetle crawl around on my arm (people think I’m strange, but I happen to like insects that don’t bite me!).  Fog can roll in from the water at any time – the West Side is known for its natural air conditioning!

Bayshore Beach...

A few miles from Bayshore, the Irving Nature Park offers a picturesque mix of nature trails, beach, marsh area, and cliffs.  Each trail (varying lengths) is named for an animal found in the area: Squirrel, Seal, Deer, Heron, Frog, and Chickadee.  All trails are groomed with cedar chips.  We have spent many happy hours at the Nature Park…I remember seeing the biggest porcupine I’d ever seen there…he came lumbering out of the tall grass as we walked by, and then waddled off on his way.  Periwinkle shells, as well as pretty stones can be found on the beach at the Nature Park.  We also like to visit the park in the winter and toboggan down the big hill.  More athletic types bring their cross-country skis and use them on the trails.

Irving Nature Park Coastline...

If we want a change of pace, we hop in the van and travel 45 minutes to St. Martins.  There are caves there that we enjoy exploring at low tide.  Fishing boats equipped with lobster traps bob in the water nearby.  There are some beautiful nature trails on the Fundy Trail as well – in August, we take buckets along to harvest wild blackberries.  I’ll never forget my oldest daughter’s stricken expression when she found out after walking for an hour that the trails there weren’t circular like at the Nature Park – “You mean we still have to walk back to the van?!”  One of the most challenging trails is the Hearst Lodge Trail – I would recommend it only to people who enjoy fear!  After starting out on what we thought was a nice little walk, we arrived exhausted, muddy and traumatized at the Hearst Lodge some 2 hours later – not for the faint of heart!  I wondered why we saw people walking with ski poles on the way up, and I soon found out (note to self: flip the map over next time to see the level of difficulty before starting on the trail)!

St. Martins Caves at High Tide...

Another pleasant drive is in the other direction to St. Andrews (about an hour).  This charming little town was originally settled by the Loyalists – many of the original 18th century structures survive.  St. Andrews is known for the century-old Fairmont Algonquin Resort, the Kingsbrae Garden, the Huntsman-Aquarium Museum, and the Sunbury Shores Arts and Nature Centre.  Its main street is lined with boutiques and cafés…I enjoyed a lovely cup of blueberry tea there once.  We have also visited railway magnate William Van Horne’s 50-room mansion on Ministers Island – the island is accessible only at low tide.   

It would be awesome if the Bay of Fundy became of the official Seven Natural Wonders of the World…please place your vote here: http://www.new7wonders.com/en/index/.  Winners will be announced next  year.

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‘Salt’y Tears…The Jolie Bids Adieu…

This is the final installment in a 3-part series chronicling The Jolie‘s visit to Saint John, New Brunswick.  I would like to thank my friend, Omawarisan, for his crazy idea ingenius plan that seems to have brought so much joy to my readers…this series was also incredibly fun to write!  Thanks again to Jim for driving all over town and putting up with rude stares as he photographically recorded The Jolie’s tour (he did all the touristy shots and labelled them too – he’s a lover, not a speller!).

If you haven’t read the first two parts, please take a few minutes and catch up…read quickly…The Jolie is anxious to be on her way!

Part 1

Part 2

Here’s the disclaimer (again):  This piece is purely for entertainment purposes and has no basis in fact (all Saint John tourist information is correct).  Any resemblance to living people (except my family) is coincidental. 

We left off Part 2 with The Jolie terrorizing exploring the Saint John City Market.  The Jolie did have an unpleasant encounter with the proprietor of one of the local fishmongers…for fun, I told her that “swimming with the lobsters” was a tradition in New Brunswick, kind of like swimming with the dolphins (a total lie!).  Well, The Jolie was bound and determined she was going to do it!  When she saw the lobster tank at the Market, she demanded to speak to the Manager.  The guy came out from behind the counter, and extended his hand to The Jolie…she ignored it. “I want to swim with the lobsters!  I came a long way to do that!”  The manager calmly explained that she might have some germs on her that could make the live lobsters ill.  “Do you think I don’t shower?” The Jolie asked indignantly.  While assuring her that everyone has germs, even movie stars, he offered to pack up a couple of big lobsters for her to take home.  The Jolie grudgingly agreed, “Well, I suppose…they probably taste better than Cambodian cockroaches.  Can you send the lobsters to Nunavut?  That’s where I’m headed after this.”  The manager wrote down the address, and promised to ship the crustaceans to the Far North right away.

Our next stop was King’s Square, which is across the street from the Market’s Charlotte St. entrance.  Until the mid-19th century, the Square was pretty primitive…people came to draw water from public wells, to view criminals in the pillory, or to celebrate special occasions with an ox roast.  The militia used it for training, and the butchers in town slaughtered their cattle there.  In 1844, city officials decided to make the Square more like an English country garden…a plan was made that included paths coming out from a central octagon, shrubbery, trees, and flowers.  Some work was started, but destroyed in the Great Fire of 1877.  The majority of the development at the Square was completed after that (in fact, most of the oldest buildings in the Uptown date to 1878).  The current bandstand was built in 1908 (restored in 1987), a memorial to King Edward VII.  The Jolie posed in front of it:

The Jolie and the King's Square Bandstand...the trees lining the paths were planted in the late 1880's...

The Jolie got a lot of stares from passersby as we walked through the Square…Saint Johners weren’t being their usual friendly selves:

The Jolie didn't get the attention she expected...

I overheard the following conversation between two old biddies:

“Imagine…goin’ out in the middle of winter in a tank top!  How come she’s not wearing a coat?” the first asked her companion.

The answer: “Maybe her money keeps her warm…she sure doesn’t have any body fat!”

Body fat must have been on The Jolie’s mind too, because the minute we arrived at our bookstore, Dave Shoots, Bookseller, she jumped on the scale to see if she’d gained any weight from the Timbits she’d eaten!

The Jolie tips the scales...

The Jolie proudly declared herself “weightless” (kind of like her performance in “Beyond Borders”).  At least her upcoming trip to Nunavut won’t cost much…maybe I should buy her a “fanny pack.”

While she was in the bookstore, The Jolie was photographed with a “local boy” who left Saint John and got famous (sadly, that’s usually how it happens!):

The Jolie and Stompin' Tom Connors...Prince Edward Island claims him, but he was born in Saint John...

Other famous people with Saint John roots include: film mogul Louis B. Mayer (born in Russia, but grew up here), actor Donald Sutherland (Kiefer’s dad, for you young whippersnappers!), actor Walter Pidgeon, and inventor Dr. Abraham Gesner (kerosene).  The infamous Benedict Arnold spent six years in Saint John after the American Revolution, but Saint Johners don’t like to talk about it!

The Jolie explored the bookshelves looking for reading material:

The Jolie checks out our fiction...

“Where’s your Danielle Steele section?” The Jolie demanded.

“Down the street, at the bookstore we don’t own,” I replied.

“What kind of bookstore is this?” she whined.

I smiled.  “A discerning one.”

The Jolie then asked to borrow a dictionary…I think she needed to look something up…

The Jolie consults a dictionary...

After returning the dictionary to its place, the Jolie headed for the children’s section…she wanted to send some books home for the Nanny to read to the kids.  I found her absorbed a few minutes later:

"Now I know my ABC's...next time won't you sing with me!"

Soon, I declared it was time to get packed up for the next leg of The Jolie’s tour.  She allowed me to wrap her in bubble wrap, and only whimpered a little when I put the packing tape over her mouth…for the first time since she arrived, The Jolie was speechless!

“Good luck in Nunavut, Dear!  Don’t let the door hit you in the arse on the way out!”

*No action figures were harmed in the writing of this piece (I left airholes in the box).  The Jolie will next appear in Iqaluit, Nunavut in I’ll Have Nunavut.  I hope she’s not allergic to cats!

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The Jolie Tour, Part 2…Eat, Drink and Be Bitchy…

This is the second installment of a series begun yesterday…please read Part One here to get up to speed…[The Jolie says to “Make it snappy!”…she’s hungry].

It’s against the law here not to “go to Tim Hortons for coffee” (you don’t actually have to drink coffee…”going for coffee” is an activity).  Tim Hortons is a Canadian institution started by a hockey player as a “summer job” back in the 1960’s before athletes were paid millions of dollars to play.  Unfortunately, Tim was killed in a car accident in 1974, and didn’t get to see the huge success his little coffee shop is today (at the time of his death, there were 40 franchises).  Today, many Canadian cities have multiple Tims locations …when I lived there a few years ago, Moncton, New Brunswick, had more Tims per capita than any other city!  Every spring, Tims has a popular contest called “Roll Up the Rim to Win” where you look for a prize under the rim of your paper cup…they give away cars, TV’s, and free coffee and donuts (the last two things are all I’ve ever won!).

Since The Jolie’s little tummy was growling, we took her to the Lansdowne Tims location…after telling us what they wanted, Anna and Brianna escaped to the safety of the Shoppers Drug Mart, preferring to shop for shampoo instead of being seen in public with The Jolie and their Action Figure Tourist Guide parents (we’d dropped Hope off on the West Side at her dad’s, and Devin stayed home because there wasn’t room in the car for everybody…what a generous gesture!).  Before going in, we asked The Jolie what she wanted.  “I’ll have an Espresso Macchiato with a quarter inch of milk foam and chocolate sprinkles on the top!” she ordered.

“Whoa, baby,” I said.  “Back up the truck!  This isn’t a fancy L.A. coffee place…the people who work here wear hairnets and sturdy shoes, and usually aren’t third-rate actresses!  They call everybody, ‘Dear’.  You can have coffee or tea or hot chocolate…if you’re good, I’ll get them to put a French Vanilla flavour shot in your coffee!  What do you want to eat?”

The Jolie thought for a minute before answering, “Get me a smoked salmon on rye, sliced very thin with the crusts cut off, and just a couple of capers on top.”  Her face fell when she saw the look on mine.  “Really…they don’t have that either?”

“When you’re in the Maritimes, Dear, ‘Capers’ are people who hail from a part of Nova Scotia called Cape Breton.  They get mad if you try to spread them on a sandwich, or criticize their funny accents.”  I took pity on The Jolie: “How about a nice Chicken Club on a whole wheat baguette?”  I hoped that throwing a French word in there made it sound fancier (I also hoped I wouldn’t have this trouble again).  It worked.

“I suppose that’s all right,” The Jolie pouted.  I dropped her in my purse, and we went in and ordered our food.  I paid with my Tims card (yay…I had more left on it than I thought!), and we carried the plastic tray to the table.  Jim glanced surreptitiously around before I pulled The Jolie out of her hiding place and set her on the table.

The Jolie engages in the great Canadian pastime...coffee at Tims...

In between bites of her sandwich, The Jolie found it amusing to yell “Barista!” repeatedly.  The girls behind the counter kept ducking to escape her wrath (I heard one of them ask another, “Is that Spanish for double-double?”)!  We explained to The Jolie that there is no “table service” at Tims…if she wanted something, she’d have to go up and ask for it!  She passed.

We’d gotten The Jolie a couple of Timbits for dessert.  Timbits are donut holes…Tims makes a fortune selling them for 15 cents each.  The Jolie demanded to know why we were feeding her “leftovers.”  She changed her tune once that Honey Dip hit her lips…

After lunch, we gathered up the girls and continued our tour.  The next stop was the Saint John City Market, which has been in operation in its current location since 1876.  When the Market was built in the late nineteenth century, Saint John was one of the world’s leading shipbuilding centers, and the roof of the Market is modelled after an upside-down ship’s keel.  The kids made themselves scarce again while we took our photos.

The Jolie looks down over the City Market...

The Market is open year-round every day but Sundays.  The day starts at 7:30 a.m. with the ringing of a large bell at one end, and finishes the same way at 6 p.m., except on Saturdays when the Market closes at five.  In addition to fruits and vegetables, meats, cheeses and baked goods, the Market is a cornucopia of items ranging from local crafts, giftware and souvenirs to ethnic food from various locales.  There is also entertainment on the weekends, although we got there too late in the afternoon to see it.  The Jolie offered to do “a reading” but they didn’t have a mike stand short enough for her (which is a good thing, because not a lot of people would be interested in hearing an excerpt from her upcoming book, Pezed Off…The Jolie World Tour!).

Dulse from Grand Manan is something a lot of tourists take home with them when they visit New Brunswick:

The Jolie in the dulse bin...

Apparently, The Jolie was confused about what you’re supposed to do with dulse (and also has trouble reading upside down), because before I could stop her, she was doing this:

The Jolie exploring the benefits of dulse...

“What do you mean, you eat it?  I thought it was a beauty treatment!” she sputtered, as I hauled The Jolie out of the bag.  “We pay big bucks for seaweed at my spa in L.A.!”  She spent the next hour removing bits of purple vegetation from her hair…

Be sure to come back tomorrow for the exciting conclusion of The Jolie’s visit to Saint John, New Brunswick!

*Disclaimer: This post is entertainment and any resemblance to living people (except Jim and I and our kids) is purely coincidental.  I also didn’t eat the blue pill!

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Filed under blogging, food, satire, tourism