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Road Trip 2015 – The Final Leg – Lac Megantic, Quebec

We grudgingly packed up and left the lovely Lubec, Maine for the trip toward home.  Our next hotel booking at an Inn on Lac Megantic in Quebec.  This location was selected because it was more or less a halfway point between Lubec and our home city of Ottawa, Ontario.  Prior to July 6, 2013 I had never heard of Lac Megantic.  Unfortunately, after that day the whole country and perhaps those even further away had heard about the tragic train disaster that resulted in the loss of many innocent lives.  47 people died, some of them absolutely obliterated from earth.  In a blink of an eye everything that one knows can change.

Not a great way to start a travel post, but the truth was obvious.  Upon arrival from the Maine side we drove up the Lake and the beautiful Inn we were staying at was just before you reached the town.  Auberge Les Victorines du Lac is absolutely charming, built in 1996 it was designed to replicate an old world Inn and they did a great job of it.  The setting is wonderful with big trees, gorgeous lake views, nice grounds with chairs, benches, patios to lounge around.  We were greeted by the Innkeeper and escorted to our room.  It was late in the day so we freshened up and headed out to sit reading by the water.  We were both pretty tired, so went in and grabbed a quick nap before dinner.  Dinner was wonderful, we both had the Chef’s Special which was Duck…done to perfection.  It was a multi-course meal each course consisting of something sumptuous.  I would highly recommend this Inn as a relaxing retreat night or weekend.

We really didn’t spend any time in Lac Megantic, we simply drove through town passing the area where the train disaster had occurred, the entire area has been flattened and the downtown has been moved to another spot.  it was so sad to see this huge space flattened with fresh gravel spread all over it….it wasn’t until I got home that I sat down and read what I could about the town, the people who lost their lives, the reactions of their families.  Lac Megantic is a beautiful community which now has a big hole in the centre of it….a blink of an eye . . . .I didn’t take any pictures of the town, it didn’t feel right, I didn’t want to be a voyeur….an article from the Montreal Gazette.

A few photos of our trip home….I’m never really very fond of returning home…..I could live out of a suitcase forever (or until I got too frail to carry it)…..while doing the laundry tonight, we started to plan our next adventure……stay tuned 🙂

Road Trip 2015 – South Shore Nova Scotia to Digby Ferry to Lubec, Maine. USA

Johnny and I set off in our car and Chloe & Kyle set off in theirs on our southshore trip from Halifax to White Point Beach Resort to spend our one night in a cabin on the ocean!  Enroute we stopped by Peggy’s Cove, parked our cars and wandered around marveling at the sea, the rocks, the lighthouse, the rolling fog in the distance, the quaint seaside Martime fisherman homes and all that is Peggy’s Cove.  We saw the nasty dark rocks from where more than one ill-fated tourist has been swept into the sea meeting their end.  A lovely place, although a bit busy with a steady stream of cars pouring down the one road that goes in and out.

We took the scenic route along the coast to White Point.  Our original plan had been to stop in Lunenburg for lunch, however, the day was passing all too quickly and we wanted to get to the beach.  We decided that we needed to come for another trip east to see Lunenburg and I’m sure we will!  We made a quick stop along the highway in Bridgewater for a great lunch in a little diner, then pushed on for White Point Resort!  At one point we registered and were given a map to find our little cabin!   Only a 1 bedroom Johnny & I got the bedroom & the kids slept on the sofa bed.  There was a bit of a berm between the cabin and the sea and once we ventured over it we were quite surprised to see a long sandy beach filled with people frolicking by the sea!  I had heard that it was a rocky beach and was not prepared to see such a beautiful beach.  Upon arrival it was time for a short cocktail (I admit, I got a bit anxious and huffy when I realized we had to drag our things quite a ways over terrain to get it to the cottage)…the cocktails certainly did defray that!  The kids had done a bit of research and new that in our short stay at White Point they wanted to paddle board and to surf.  So, before dinner they rented paddle boards on the inside lake (not the sea).  While they were paddle boarding Johnny and I went on a short 2 or 3 km hike through the grounds and the estates of White Point.  It’s a great place!  We had dinner reservations, ate a sumptuous meal and we were all beat and probably asleep by 10 a.m.!  In the morning Johnny & I went on another short hike while the kids rented a surfboard and surfed in the ocean.  Chloe had surfed before in Brazil, but it was Kyle’s first time and he took to it naturally.   Around 1 pm we all headed out, Chloe & Kyle back to Saint John and Johnny & me south to Yarmouth.

Enroute to Yarmouth we took the scenic route and found ourselves on Cape Sable Island and at a place called The Hawk – the most southerly point in Nova Scotia.  Love these little side trips and the quaint villages, fog horns blowing in the distance, huge empty beaches!

Many people have said Yarmouth?  Why would yu go to Yarmouth?  No idea, however, it did seem a logical stopping off point for the road trip.  The one thing about this trip and our venturing into smaller towns, villages & more rural areas is that like here in Ontario, it is very sad to see once vibrant communities growing seedy, homes in need of repairs, for sale signs everywhere and just a general feeling that the life is seeping away.  This is where I would love to start a rant about the downfall of North America via the onslaught of big box stores and rampant consumerism…however, I will leave that for another time 🙂  Not surprising our accomodation in Yarmouth was not as cute, as quaint, as well cared for as everywhere else we had stayed so far.  The Rodd Grand Hotel which I chose because of location on the Main street in downtown Yarmouth has seen better days.  We did have a window that opened, however the screen was gone from half the window and hanging in tatters.  There was a dank, not quite clean feeling to the place.  The staff were less than jubilant, the hotel itself was actually quite full and we couldn’t find a parking spot on the property and had to park on the street….I’m thinking I may not go back to the Rodd Grand Hotel 🙂  We were pretty tired from our many days of travel which lead us to Yarmouth.  We had no interest in eating out, so just made a sandwich from the ham & cheese we carried with us in the cooler.  We did take a walk along Main street, where again it looks lost, businesses closed, we tracked down to the Harbour where the Ferry to Portland comes and goes from and walked along a street closer to the water.  There was another Rodd Hotel there that had shut it’s doors.  You could see mattresses and chairs stacked against the windows.  We did come across a lovely little park and a very vital looking restaurant (which honestly, I would have eaten at but Johnny was the one favouring ham sandwiches 🙂 . . .I bet Yarmouth was a vibrant place not so long ago….it’s definitely a working town….

The next morning we awoke early, hopped in the car, passed by the nicest Tim Horton’s I’ve ever seen (yes in Yarmouth) and then headed toward Digby to catch the Ferry back to Saint John.  I was a little disappointed that the Ferry isn’t actually in the town of Digby, and we had reservations, so we could have stopped, but once we were out at the Ferry, we just got in line and wandered about waiting for the Ferry to arrive.  The site said it was a 3 hour Ferry ride to Saint John across the Bay of Fundy, however it took just over 2 hours.  Unfortunately, it was so foggy we saw NOTHING 🙂  That darn Bay of Fundy continued to elude us 🙂  This was yet another day that didn’t turn out quite as planned.

Our final destination for this day was Lubec, Maine, U.S.A.  The plan was Yarmouth to Digby, Digby Ferry to Saint John, Drive to L’etete to get the Deer Island Ferry, Drive across Deer Island to get the Campobello Ferry – then drive the short distance across into the border town of Lubec, Maine.  So, we did get to the Deer Island Ferry, and we were in the line-up.  There were some locals with a couple of chatty little children in the car ahead so we were entertaining each other chatting back & forth.  The little about (about 7) said, why is that sign on the ground.  Johnny walked over to the sign and it said “Ferry to Campobello Not Running”….it was a bristol board sign and someone had torn it off the post it was attached to.  So, I called the Deer Island Ferry people and the message said, apologies – no Deer Island to Campobello Ferry.  This meant, that we had to go the long way and although most of it quite scenic, should we take the scenic route it would take us forever to get to Lubec, where we had reservations at an Inn.  Soooooo….we headed off (thanks to that chatty 7 year old) toward the US Border at Calais, Maine.  We did pass by St. Andrews by-the-Sea and did a quick tour of the lovely seaside (a little too touristy) village for me.  Then headed back onto the highway.  The border crossing was (as it always is)  a challenge.  Johnny is not Canadian (he’s Norwegian) and it means they have to haul him into the office.  What was a bit different this time is they also demanded that I come in and they grilled us both…really, NOT FUN.  In any case, we were allowed entry into the good old US of A and proceeded through Calais and along the more scenic route and finally ended up in the cutest seaside town I have ever been in.  Lubec is a quaint fishing village that hasn’t turned into a too touristy town.  It seems to have many artisan types, retirees, local fisher types it’s just a nice comfortable small town with all the things you need to survive.  You can see the St. Andrew, NB shore across the sea, you can drive easily over to Campobello Island, NB, yet you are in Maine.  It has a few small restaurants & Inns, we loved it!  The reason we were in Lubec is that the previous year we had rented a cottage in Costa Rica from people who live in Lubec during the nice weather.  We checked into Cohill’s Inn and LOVED our room # 8 – The Eastport!   We did eat there that night, nice atmosphere but the food wasn’t tasting all that down home 🙂  After dinner we went for a walk and of course ran into our friends (who we had Fb’d to say we had arrived) and we went for a drink with them at Annabelle’s and then walked them home, making plans to spend the next day together.   The next morning we strolled over to Marcy & Mike’s after breakfast and we got into their car and they took us on a tour of Campobello Island, walked some beaches, tooks lots of photos.  We parted for a while in the afternoon, then went back to their place for 4 pm cocktails & PEI mussels…yum yum!!!!  After that we walked over to the Water Street Tavern & Inn where had a really nice meal!!  After the meal, we said our good byes to Mike & Marcy, headed back to Cohill’s for our second last night of our 14 day road trip.  Next post….Lac Megantic, QC.

Road Trip 2015 – Halifax, Nova Scotia

What can I say about Halifax, Nova Scotia other than that it is a VERY special city and I loved it!  It has a very relaxed atmosphere with a cosmopolitan flare!!!  Johnny & I arrived on Thursday afternoon and checked in at Homewood Suites on Brunswick (beside The Citadel).  Awesome hotel in a lot of ways, only one year old, nice sized rooms all with kitchenettes.  Our room had a view of the Harbour.  The only downside to this hotel was that the elevators were crazy busy and although the breakfast wasn’t bad for included buffet, there were just way too many people there and it was difficult to move around and find a place to sit.  In spite of that I would certainly recommend it.  We hurriedly got settled and then headed down to the Pier for a nice long walk – all the way down to Pier 21.  The weather wasn’t wonderful – overcast with a cool wind and it was pretty quiet but it was great to stretch our legs after our drive from Saint John, NB.  After much deliberation we decided to have dinner on the patio of Waterfront Warehouse where we feasted on Nova Scotia, New Brunswick & PEI oysters to start followed by lovely big lobsters!  We were actually freezing to death, so ordered hot toddies after dinner and took them inside to warm up!  We then headed off and found ourselves at a great little dessert & cocktail place called The Middle Spoon – YUM 🙂  A friend had recommended that while in Halifax we should stop by the Split Crow for a little music and that we did!  We were a bit on the tired side by then so only stayed one set, then headed back up the hill to our hotel.

Next day I had lunch with friends (one of whom wahhh had just broken her foot)….we ate at a great little restaurant called The Stubborn Goat – yum again, I had Lobster Mac n’ Cheese!  The weather was great so Hilary, Andrew & I sat on the patio!  After lunch Johnny & I found each other again and we headed off to a nearby beach at  Crystal Crescent Beach Provincial Park, took a walk and caught a few rays!  After that we went for a drive, crossed over to Dartmouth & headed out to Lawrencetown Beach/Park where we watched some kite surfers!  Chloe & Kyle arrived from Saint John around 8 pm and we immediately headed out for dinner at Durty Nelly’s Irish pub where we managed to nab a patio table.  Food was great and the place was jammed with people having a great time on a Friday night.  After that we headed off to  yet another Halifax music experience and spent the rest of the evening at The Old Triangle where we danced & enjoyed the entertainment!  After that we made our way back up the hill to the hotel.  Admittedly, our Saturday was somewhat sluggish *blush*, Halifax had offered us much too good a time for two nights running.  Once breakfast was over we again walked the Harbourfront and the weather was much warmer.  My English Mum had arrived in Canada aboard the Queen Mary at Pier 21 in Halifax in 1946, so we went to the Pier 21 Museum and I was able to get a copy of her arrival documents.  Later that day we went back out for more lobster and had a pretty early evening 🙂  The next morning we headed off bright and early to our next destination.

All in all, I loved Halifax, really didn’t take many photos that didn’t involve food or cocktails and know for sure this is one city I will visit again!!

Road Trip 2015 – Saint John, New Brunswick

Our daughter Chloe moved from Calgary, Alberta to Saint John, NB in May.  This was our first trip to see her and her boyfriend Kyle in their new home.  They both had to work the two days we were there, however, they were going to spend an extended weekend with us in Nova Scotia, so we still had some quality time together!  As per my previous post, we arrived at their place just around 6 pm in time for their volleyball tournament and then dinner at Saint John Alehouse!  Saint John is a little tiny city and their apartment is right downtown.  They can walk to everywhere including Chloe’s office.  It’s an old city with a lot of heritage.  It’s not known for being a trendy upscale city but it certainly has it’s charms.  Unfortunately, as apparently is often the case it was rainy and quite foggy the whole time we were there.  We were pretty tired from our previous 5 days on the road so spent the morning doing laundry and relaxing!  Then we headed off on a drive around the area and ended up first in the quaint little village of St. Martins website here and then onward to the Fundy Trail website here.  Luckily, the kids plan to live in Saint John for a few years and we will go back, stay longer we hope and manage to get there when there isn’t a fog hanging over everything!  What we saw was beautiful, and what we have read what we didn’t see is even more beautiful 🙂  The second night we went to the theatre to see a band who travels the world the show was called It’sa Kinda Magic website here.  I love Queen and it was really quite good, although the kids found it a bit ‘out there’ 🙂  The Imperial Theatre in Saint John is a beautiful old style theatre, very elegant, we had great seats just a few rows from the stage!  Before the show we went to the best Indian restaurant I’ve been to.  Food was amazing, we ordered a variety of dishes and shared.  If you are in Saint John check it out Thandi.

Here you can sing along to my favourite Queen song ‘Made in Heaven

My featured image for this post are rocks on the shore of the Bay of Fundy in the Village of St. Martins, New Brunswick.  They were amazing…..every rock tells a story….different sizes, colours, fossilized…..if only we could hear that story!

.  Two nights in Saint John, then we headed off to Halifax, Nova Scotia!

Road Trip 2015 – Gaspe Peninsula to Saint John, New Brunsick

After two lovely old world nights in Quebec City we excitedly headed off for the Gaspe Peninsula leg of our journey!  This was my first time East of Quebec City (in Canada) so I was VERY excited!  For us, it’s all about the view!  The trip along the shoreline of the Gaspe Peninsula was filled with breathtaking views, quaint villages with the unique french style of homes, historic churches in ever village, majestic rock and vistas that went on forever!  Our kind of drive.   We had booked two hotels along the way.  The first Hotel Motel Belle Plage in Matane, QC and Hotel Motel  La cote Surprise in Perce, QC.  Trying to find a place to stay in that area of Quebec is a bit of a challenge.  #1 reason french is the first language and not all places have an english page/presence.  #2 is that it is a very long way away from larger cities and there are mostly small cabins, motels  #3 is that itt is August and a busy time of year.  However, I’m happy to say we were totally pleased with our selections!

The theme for this trip was still, ‘taking twice as long to get anywhere as expected’ and the drive from Quebec City to Matane, QC was no exception!  We left about 9:00 in the morning and finally ended up in Matane just in time to have a cocktail on our balcony before dinner!  A lot of the photos taken were taken as we whizzed by in the car or from the numerous roadside stops and lookouts!  We brought a cooler on the trip and made our lunch on route so there were no long lunch stops.  Matane is a port town and certainly has an industrial feel as you drive into it.  However, Hotel Motel Belle Plage is a largish hotel on a great waterfront setting with a big seaside beach.  Not so much what I would call a swimming beach, but a great walking/viewing beach.  We were surprised that the hotel was bustling and that reservations were required for dinner.  Dinner was in a great dining room with windows on 3 sides!  We had a wonderful table with views to the sunset!  The food was unexpectedly wonderful and a great wine selection.  The rooms weren’t fancy, but we did have a waterfront room with a little balcony (where were enjoyed our pre-dinner cocktails)!  After dinner we strolled along the beach!

The next day we had a great breakfast (included) and then headed off on our next leg to Perce, QC.  The scenery again was wonderful and we did one offroad stop at http://www.pointe-a-la-renommee.com/ a beautiful light house with hiking trails, washrooms & a gift shop!  We went for a hike and enjoyed the views!  Then back on the road to Perce!  I had never heard of Perce Quebec, however it’s a place I could spend a little more time!  It is a lovely tourist town at the top of the Gaspe Peninsula, lots of places to stay, restaurants, the beautiful Perce Rock in view from almost everywhere.  Our hotel wasn’t right downtown, but perched on a hill on the edge of the village.  Nothing fancy about the hotel, but it was clean & had decent food and also required reservations for dinner.  The hotel website really doesn’t do the place justice!  After dinner, we walked down to the village and strolled the boardwalk.  There are a ton of things to do in the village, boat tours, etc!  Definitely worth a visit!  The next morning we had our breakfast and headed off with our daughter Chloe’s address in the GPS (Saint John, NB).  This was our most ambitious day and there was no room for sightseeing along the way.  We had to be there in time to see Chloe & Kyle place in their beach volleyball finals at 6:30 pm.  There was a TON of construction along the way and once you left Quebec, it was pretty much just driving on 2 and 4 lane highways of New Brunswick with little to see.  We arrived at Chloe & Kyle’s place JUST in time to walk the 5 minutes to their volleyball game, enjoyed watching it in the fog/light rain, they won their first 2 play off games, but lost with a narrow margin in the 3 game!  We headed off to a great restaurant – Saint John Alehouse & had a really nice meal!  The remainder of our Saint John visit to follow!!

Road Trip 2015 -Ottawa to Quebec City

Honestly, road tripping was a bit of a challenge this time out….for a variety of reasons.  #1 it took us twice as long as we had predicted to get to our daily destinations.  This due to construction, leg stretching pee breaks, lunch, photo ops…etc etc etc 🙂  #2 I think we are getting old….well I am anyway 🙂  I would have liked to spend at least 2 days everywhere, or only travel for about 2 hours a day in order to enjoy the destination, take photos, relax!  This is the first of of our 14 day road trip reports.  I was so tired along the way I didn’t even have time to do my blog, so I’m finally starting it on Day 12 of the trip!!

Day 1 we headed of by 9 am destination Quebec City.  I hadn’t been to Quebec City since I was in my 20’s (where my first husband broke up with me on the train home while we were dating)….it didn’t last long 🙂  In any case, we took the Quebec route and travelled along Highway 50, a terrific quiet highway.  Once we were past Montreal we decided to take Chemin du Roy which is the cultural/heritage route between Montreal and Quebec City.  We got on a bit early, in hindsiight we probably would have got on about halfway between the two cities.  It does have some quaint villages, amazing architecture with the old french canadian style homes, lovely views of the St Lawrence, a TON of places to stop to stretch your legs, take photos & go to the washroom.  It it is however a very slow route going through a myriad of villages.  We finally arrived in Quebec around 5:30 pm…a long day…a few photos.  There would have been better ones had I not left my camera SD card in my home  computer!!!  We didn’t start using the Nikon 5500 until Quebec City!  I would have stopped to take photos of dozens and dozens of old homes had we had time *sigh* . . . . .

5 more sleeps!!!

5 more sleeps until we pack up the tiny ATS with everything we need for 2 weeks on the road!  Then we hop in and commence our 14 day road trip!!!  Johnny & I just love going from place to place and seeing new things (as was evidenced yesterday by an 11 hour ride from a place 2 hours away 🙂  As you can see our preference is for coastal experiences and we are squeezing as much of that in as possible.  Odds are, if there isn’t water, I’m not staying anywhere long!

Google Screen Shot #1 – Routing for our August 7th to 21st Roadtrip

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Google Screen Shot #2 – Routing from our trip home from a 1 night camping trip at Bonnechere Provincial Park

August 1st, 2015 roadtrip

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