September 26, 2010


In Nova Scotia, it’s the law! Recycling requires an intimate knowledge of garbage. An unused napkin is recyclable. A used napkin is organic, goes with your apple peels. It’s difficult to be legal.
DSC00956 McDonalds has three different bins for their customer waste products. They’re labeled, but Chuck & I could still disagree about where the plastic sundae cup should go. Hey, his cup, he decided!
The Lunenburg Campground hands out written instructions for their lineup of five bin categories. Peeking in, accuracy seems about 50%, but we’re all “from away” and rather uneducated! How big a mistake is it if the Coke cans you tossed in were wrapped in a plastic bag? The compost category does not permit plastic bags. Whale’s Cove Campground had three categories of refuse, while Digbee Campground had four. We have had multiple (plastic!) trash bags hanging in our galley and placed beside the door.
A marina recyle set has simple categories: Garbage. Garbage. Refundables. Recyclables. You still must know the difference. Should the recyclables be washed? That mayo jar? What about the lid? The lobster trap wouldn’t fit in the holes. It could go in a landfill group except for the wire and the float. But maybe the float is wood, too.

We departed Nova Scotia yesterday, already full of nostalgia. At the beautiful Stonehurst Trailer Park and Golf Course campground in New Brunswick, what did we find? A surprise behind our trailer!

They don’t recycle here!

September 24, 2010

Way out West in Nova Scotia

Our ridgetop Whale Cove Campground site is on a long skinny peninsula with two islands at the  west end, umbilicled by ferries. On the sunset side we’ve a view of the Bay of Fundy. Southeast there’s a sliver of St. Mary’s Bay. Eons ago, the deep Bay of Fundy was a fissure line when the supercontinent Pangaea land mass fractured and the continents began a long slow move to assume their positions and wait for mankind to come along. 
A short but steep dirt road ends at Whale Cove on the Fundy shore. If you’ve not been raised here, the huge Fundy tides are mighty intriguing. I imagine French cartographer and explorer Samuel de Champlain who first mapped Nova Scotia, sailing into the Bay of Fundy to anchor for the night. “Well, mateys, the tide will soon begin to drop.”  Then… “Zounds! When will this stop!? Move her farther out, me boys!” Here’s the Whale Cove at high tide and low:

We drove up the road a piece and took the ferry to Long Island.

There was a little harbor – there always is! We wandered around and had a chat about travel and weather with three guys who looked like they’d been working on a boat engine for days at a slow pace. The driver asked Chuck what work he did. I asked him the same…“aw, fished a little.”

Whale C Long Is Guys in a Truck

We arrived at Lavina’s for lunch. It’s a Nova Scotia favorite and unanimously recommended, right next to the Brier Island ferry dock. At 1:30 a few people were chatting at the bar, but what?! Lavina gently let us know that today was the first day of the winter season, and lunch would not be served. Stanton smiled hugely. We’d had nothing to eat, so begged for dessert and coffee, and had a treat that sustained us ‘till a grocery store sandwich on Brier Island.

Like other Nova Scotia seashore communities, fishing was a huge industry on Brier Island, but is now much reduced due to fewer fish in the sea, an industry collision of greater capacity ships with climate change. The scallop business is one that carries on in this area and nearby Digby (where we are today), but tourism is more vital. Everywhere, local history is promoted and fascinating, and B&B’s abound. A salmon farm is anchored in the bay, and many fear the pollution impact.

One of sailing’s great heroes grew up on Brier! At Hooking by the Sea, a rug and craft shop, we found that the building was housed in the old Slocum Shoe Shop! Joshua Slocum was born in 1844 - almost exactly 100 years before my birthday - and raised right here! As a lad, Slocum was drawn to the sea, but his dad forced him to learn a cobbler’s trade in this building. Young Joshua ran away to sea at 16 and later became the first to singlehand a sailboat around the world in the Spray, 1895-1898. He and the Spray just kept sailin’ and together were lost at sea in 1909. 

whale c temp slocumUntil it was destroyed in a 1970’s storm, Slocum’s family home was still on the nearby dock (to the left). The Slocum Society has installed a monument overlooking a western passage to the ocean.

Brier’s Western Light is as close as you can get (without a hike) to most western tip of Nova Scotia. Joshua Slocum’s grandfather John spent a spell as lighthouse keeper here.
Back around two islands and two ferry rides later we were back home.We ended our day with a fine sunset view at the campground.

September 17, 2010

Canned Fish

One of the fun things about visiting another country is finding out about their food. I stopped by the Wal-Mart canned food section to pick up some tuna in water, a staple in our pantry, as is canned salmon.
I stopped in amazement. My jaw definitely dropped at the selection! This variety is available everywhere, even at small country stores in areas where there are no Wal-Marts.

Clover Leaf Flaked Light Tuna
Clover Leaf Chunk Light Tuna in Water
Clover Leaf Flaked Light Tuna Low Sodium
Clover Leaf Flaked Light Tuna in Satay Peanut Sauce
Clover Leaf Flaked Light Tuna Garlic & Hot Pepper

Clover Leaf Flaked Light Tuna Spicy Thai Chili
Clover Leaf Flaked Light Tuna Tomato & Onion
Blog 1Clover Leaf Flaked Light Tuna Dill & Lemon
Clover Leaf Flaked Light Tuna Lemon & Pepper
Clover Leaf Chunk Light Tuna in Vegetable Broth & Oil
Clover Leaf Solid Light Tuna (can’t read flavor green label)
Clover Leaf Chunk Light Tuna Skipjack in Water

Clover Leaf Wild Pacific Keta Salmon
Clover Leaf Pink Salmon
Clover Leaf Skinless Boneless Pink Salmon - Wild
Clover Leaf Skinless Boneless Atlantic Salmon
Clover Leaf Sockeye Salmon
Clover Leaf Skinless Boneless Sockeye
Clover Leaf Foil Wrap Yellowfin Tuna Steak Mild Curry

Clover Leaf Foil Wrap Yellowfin Tuna Lemon & Pepper
Clover Leaf Foil Wrap Yellowfin Tuna Fresh Thai Herb
Clover Leaf Solid Light Tuna Yellowfin in Olive Oil
Clover Leaf Tuna Salad Kit Classic
Clover Leaf Tuna Salad Kit Rosemary & Sundried Tomato
Gold Seal Pacific Red Sockeye Salmon
Great Value Wild Pacific Pink Salmon

Great Value Pacific Red Sockeye Salmon
Great Value Wild Pacific Keta Salmon
Great Value Pacific Red Sockeye Salmon
Great Value Flaked Light Tuna Thai Chili
Great Value Flaked Light Tuna Lemon Pepper

Great Value Flaked Light Tuna Tomato & Basil
Great Value Solid White Albacore Tuna
Blog DSC00294Great Value Wild Pacific Sockeye
Ocean Light Tuna Italian Salad
Ocean Light TunaThai Salad
Ocean Light Tuna Spanish Salad
Brunswick Sardines Hot Peppers
Brunswick Sardines Lemon
Brunswick Sardines Tomato
Brunswick Sardines, Spring Water

Brunswick Sardines, Soy Sauce
Brunswick Sardines, Mustard
Brunswick Seafood Snacks, Hot Sauce
Brunswick Seafood Snacks, Cracked Pepper & Citron
THAT’S IT! At ONE store! Stores also carry plenty of smoked and seasoned mussels, kippers, shrimp, chowders and Chuck’s favorites – oysters and sardines. But I don’t like’em, and this post is too long already!
I skipped the foil packed fish, too.
A number one hit song in 1939:

September 16, 2010

Margaree Valley, Cape Breton Island

Nestled in beautiful  Margaree Valley is the town of Margaree. Among the lakes and rivers are also Margaree Forks, Upper Margaree, Southwest Margaree, North East Margaree, Margaree Centre, Margaree Harbour and East Margaree. There may be more that didn’t make it to the map. It’s difficult to find or photograph these towns - by the time you realize you’re there, you’ve already left them behind!

Our day again demonstrated that Cape Breton folk are the friendliest we’ve ever met, the most open, content and fully grounded in their lives and community. I’m raving a little, but they’re outstanding, rivaled only by people living in the rest of Nova Scotia. Strangers are always greeted, and everyone loves a good chat!
An attractive, well-dressed woman in about her 60’s welcomed us to the Margaree Salmon Museum. Then she brought the collection to life – it’s a tribute to the salmon, fly-fishing and good sportsmanship on the local rivers. The tale is told through fishing tools and reminisces from those who have known the river intimately, both locals and those “from away” who’ve returned to wade the shallows year after year. The director spoke as though they were all her friends, back to the birth of the sport centuries ago! Only fly fishing is allowed on the river, with catch and release strongly encouraged.

Up the road, Robert Ingraham was on duty alone at the Margaree Fish Hatchery, which has been supporting the salmon and speckled trout population since 1902. The lucky Atlantic salmon don’t die after spawning, and live several years. In spite of their longevity, they’re extinct in most of their old north Atlantic habitats. We peeked into an open door, and Robert stepped out to let us know that it was a closed building, and pointed us to the visitor center and the pools where we could see fingerlings called parr.

Then he stayed for a good chat about the hatchery and his community. He was a woodsman for much of his life, but likes this work much better. We learned that the Salmon Museum director and her sister, too, had never married. This puzzled him. Here’s Robert with the tool used to pick non-viable eggs out from among the good. Three men carry out the demanding process of raising 200,000 salmon and 100,000 trout annually.  
Distance means nothing to Cape Bretoners, where tiny towns are far apart. Robert suggested we go up to Pleasant Bay at the north end of the island for the great sunset. See some whales, likely a few moose. We didn’t tell him that we’d already been there and failed at both goals!  This is our moose sighting. Right place, wrong time.

We’re off to lunch at the Dancing Goat instead - a trendy sandwich shop at Margaree Forks. it’s crowded, energetic with people and talk. Halfway through a huge sandwich an attractive server stopped at our table and soon we were chatting again. I’d guessed she was a college student, but she was 32, and the second child of 15!! By age 14 she was helping to raise the youngers. “I’m putting off have my own, probably as a result of that!” It was a rural family, and her dad, a woodsman with a back injury, stayed at home with mom. They had a garden and always got by, had “just enough,” nothing more than what they really needed while growing up. The pix is a hooked rug. More about that later…
We stopped at an advertised afternoon jam session at Canton Cross Road Community Centre. After all the Cape Breton fiddling we’ve heard, what did we find? Ten guitarists all in a row, all pickin’ singers! “Dream, Dream, Dream” and country singin’ were not our plan that day, but one young bearded guy sang Irish songs. It was his first time there. He nervously introduced himself, said he and his family had just moved to a place that’s way up a dirt road on the map. Everybody applauded and he dared to try a very good difficult tune next.
We stayed a couple more rounds then turned down the road to home.
The Margarees. Glad we went!  (August 29, 2010)                              

September 4, 2010

All About Earl

The tale continued from this morning: Saturday’s early news was true: during Friday night, hurricane Earl’s track shifted to target Nova Scotia’s south coast. It would be a lot closer to us, but the loaded apple trees in Annapolis Valley were spared. Our reaction was, Hurry it up!
But time passed slowly. I went outside and seemed to smell fish! Where’s the chowder? Could it be the sea air on the southerly breeze? We turned over picnic tables. Chuck moved the truck. We’re ready. Campground’s ready. Everything’s calm.

It began to rain lightly after 10:00 am, with the storm now targeting Lunenburg, winds at 100km, gusting higher. By 11:00 trees were waving, the trailer shakes some, our barometer reads 28.94. It was the first time we’d looked at it, so it meant nothing. At 12:15 little branches, leaves and twigs began hitting the trailer and cluttering the ground. We shake occasionally. This increases throughout the afternoon, getting stronger, rather big gusts going “Whap!” The barometer reads 28.67.
All day we listen to radio CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) weather and interviews with local folk calling in to tell how the storm is affecting them. We especially like the stories from along the coast: people having to be kept back from taking a dip in the heavy surf, someone managing to windsurf, ferry and bridge closures, sea wall collapse, reminiscing about old storms and generally whatever’s going on outside the window. Nova Scotians love to tell and hear personal tales, and some radio programs verge on gossip, so everyone’s encouraged to keep talking! To us ex-sailors, the best were stories of skippers riding out the storm aboard their boats, saving them through quick action when they would drag or come too close together, talking about their life, or reporting a small boat on the rocks. We heard from many people in seaside towns we’ll soon visit.
Power went off at 1:15. By 1:30 the storm eye has passed and Earl was on its way to Truro. At 2:30 the barometer is rising! 28.82! When the sun peeped out for a moment, we wondered if the last sea music event of the day would be held at a pub here in Dartmouth as scheduled – after all, the musicians were all in town, and who can keep a sailor from a pub? We were ready to get out there! I called several times, but sadly, no answer.

A lovely sunset. The wind kept gusting, but pretty much settled down after dark. Now, at 9 pm the barometer’s up to 29.47 and everything is silent outside. An end to our pretty ordinary hurricane day.
We’ll be up and off to the Sea Music Fest early.

Waitin’ on the ‘Cane

9:00 a.m. Saturday: I never thought we’d be sitting here in Halifax, waitin’ on the ‘cane, the hurricane, waitin’ for big Earl to come up the Bay of Fundy, on the other side of this narrow Canadian province.
How did we get here? We came to attend a weekend Sea Shanty Fest! Everyone’s known about Earl, aiming at Nova Scotia. No one evacuates here, where else would we go?
We came into the Shubie Park Campground Friday to settle in and wait for Earl. The girl at the check-in counter made a joke about the storm, but I was not much amused. It seems that locals are casual about these things. In Yarmouth, close to Earl’s projected landfall, thousands are in the midst of a huge motorcycle rally, with more arriving today!
The campground manager was everywhere, on a bit of a short fuse, anxious to get things right for everyone, carefully placing each of us in areas without trees, stern to wind. There are tent campers here, too, restricted to a shed-like shelter. Lots of nerves were evident, everyone staying pretty much to themselves, choosing their own precautions. You can be sure that if we were still in amazingly friendly Cape Breton, everyone in the campground would have been wandering around chatting! We must all be folks “from away,” meaning not native Nova Scotia-folk.
At the end of the afternoon, I caught the manager making last rounds and mentioned that she must have a lot on her mind. I live in a 14 foot trailer, she said, and I’m not doing a thing! I won’t even take down my big 3-sided trellis, it’s just too hard to take down and set up again!
The sky looked pretty ordinary at sundown.We bedded down expecting to wake up to rain before dawn.

But, this morning nothing’s happened! We have to wait. Let’s get it over, Saturday’s event was canceled, we want a full day of sea music on Sunday!
It’s to arrive as a minimal category 1, blasting up the Bay of Fundy. It sure seems odd. Seven years in Slidell, outside New Orleans, with storm evacuations every year, and here we are, sitting, waiting for a hurricane!
“During the night … Earl…shifted a little…to make landfall in HALIFAX…” What?! Was that so?
Note: I Couldn’t post this when I wrote it first thing this morning, the park internet was turned off! Now, we’ve recently got electricity again, so the follow-up is late. You can guess that we’re just fine.