We are back from the Maritimes! Our last Province to visit was Prince Edward Island, where entry to the Island -- either by ferry or bridge -- is free, but leaving costs $42.50.
Before we got to PEI, we visited a reconstructed French seaport in Nova Scotia called Fortress Louisbourg, restored as it was in 1744 just one year before the British began the first of two invasions, initially to capture it to be used as a trading hub, then to remove it as a rival to the hub they had established since the first invasion -- Halifax.
We heard the stories of ubiquitous cod fishermen and whale-bone corseted upper-class ladies, and saw crafts people making daily necessities such as baskets, nets, candles, and bread. We saw a mock trial and public humiliation (they used to allow tourists to throw tomatoes at the accused until they began to also throw rocks for some unfathomable reason), cannon and musket firing, and racks of salted cod drying in the sun, almost ready for shipment to far-away France.
In Newfoundland, we tried to take a "fjord cruise" one day, but the wind was gusting so hard that it seemed to make even walking a hazard, so the cruise was canceled -- but only after people like me had Dramamined-up and the boat was loaded and ready to go. The captain's announcement was met with cheers as none of us were excited about watching the waves crest the boat's deck as the Captain assured us it would. To get to the boat we had hiked almost 2 miles, so back we went through the marshes and wetlands, the wind so strong that it was blowing water over the boardwalk and hikers had to periodically stop and brace themselves to prevent a "Flying Nun Incident."
We finally made it to Prince Edward Island, where the scenery is lovely and the fall flowers are in bloom. Red dirt is everywhere, contrasting with the deep blue of the sea.
And at one stop, we saw this innovative garden border:
If you can't read the sign, the border is a whale's skull.
Prince Edward Island is the setting of Lucy Maud Montgomery's most famous book, "Anne of Green Gables." At the beginning of the trip I read the book -- long overdue as it had been my mother's favorite book when she was growing up. I'm glad I did, because we not only visited the house that was Montgomery's inspiration, but also saw the musical, "Anne of Green Gables" after our farewell dinner.
We have now returned to the USA, and here are some of the things I have discovered, learned, or maybe learned to appreciate, from our journey through the Maritime Provinces:
- How mussels are grown and harvested and how best to cook them (best = steamed in white wine, garlic, and lemon). It takes 18 months to grow a mussel to eating size.
- Cape Breton fiddlers are awesome.
- How to tell the sex of a lobster.
- Anne of Green Gables is not a girly novel -- even the men who dared enjoyed reading it.
- How the 9000 residents of Gander, Newfoundland, coped with an additional 6600 "guests" who were stranded there after U.S. airspace was closed on 9/11.
- How lobster traps work, and how the lobster moves from the kitchen to the parlor.
- The Acadians -- who they were and how they morphed into the Cajuns.
- Anne Murray. That's all I need to say.
- New foods I tried: moose stew, cod tongues, capelin, acadian meat pie, poutine, and donairs.
- Hurricanes this far north lose enough energy to be only annoying -- both Hurricane Bill and Hurricane Danny hit us, the first creating a nice, rainy day and the latter prompting a lot of "Oh Danny Boy" vocals.
- Bay of Fundy -- low tide is more interesting than high tide.
- The Screech-In Ceremony ("Is You a Screecher?" "Deed, I is, me old cock, and may your long jib draw") and the curiosity of Screecher Rum.
- Thousands of puffins nesting on a hill with whales spouting nearby.
- There is a town named Dildo. Really. Of course I got the t-shirt.
- Interesting fauna sightings: whales, puffins, fox, moose, bald eagles, osprey, caribou.
- And most amazing of all, life goes on, and can be interesting and fulfilling when the internet is unavailable.
And finally... COWS ice cream is really good. Really. good. I had Gooey Mooey.