Thursday, August 31, 2017

Day 10.233: Oh yes...cicadas

I really thought I was done with our camping trip recap - but then I remembered - cicadas!

When we arrived at our camp site, we spotted that two of the nearby trees had the shed skins of cicada nymphs about five feet up them. Here is one of them:

After our first trip to the beach we spotted this (dead) adult cicada on the boardwalk:

But most iconic is the sound (unless we're mistaken and another insect makes this sound - there are a lot of insect sounds...):

(be sure to listen - there is no visual action in this video)

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Day 10.232: Surprises to come home to

Most of the surprises you come home to after a week away are not good ones. In our case, the nasty surprise was that we had left the fridge creating ice cubes which had taken over the freezer section in a way that required multiple chipping tools to remedy.

The better news was that Exile #2's little container garden was in full swing. I took this that day and there has been more since we got back:

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Day 10.231: Nova Scotia trip recap - day 8

Our last full day of vacation took us back into eastern New Brunswick. Our first stop was a fort built (in a remarkable star shape) by the French at an amazing location with long views in all directions. They called it Fort Beauséjour. It was later captured by the British and renamed Fort Cumberland.

E5N1 threw himself into dressing up and completing a scavenger hunt and we all enjoyed our visit:

Beware British invaders this definitely French defender has you in his sights:

From there we carried on to Moncton where we paid our six dollars to drive down the magnetic hill, put the car into neutral and experience being pulled backwards back up the hill. It's an illusion, but an extremely compelling one that caused some distress - even once the secret was revealed:

Our last stop was the Sackville Waterfowl Park where we found some graffiti letting us know what to expect:

Some of the things we saw: red-winged blackbird, a pair of ring-necked ducks, lesser yellowlegs, belted kingfishers, a muskrat, cedar waxwings, some mallards, a double-crested cormorant, a pair of hide-and-seek playing yellow warblers and a plaque indicating that an organisation called Ducks Unlimited were partly responsible for the founding of the park!

The following morning we packed up and drove seven and a half hours home having had a great vacation.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Day 10.230: Nova Scotia trip recap - day 7

We decided to travel further east along the Northumberland Strait coastline to Pictou on our penultimate day in Nova Scotia. Having had a marvelous lunch when we arrived, we headed down to the waterfront to visit the reproduction of the Hector - a ship that brought 179 Scottish immigrants on a harrowing journey to the area in 1773. The replica was completed in 2000 and is currently being significantly refurbished - resulting in its rather stubby masts!

There was an excellent visitor centre and the story was quite moving - including details of the children who died of smallpox early in the journey and that after eight weeks, nearly out of food and almost in sight of their destination, a storm blew them out to sea and it took another two weeks for them to make dock.

The ship was big, but shockingly small to have housed so many for so long, but it is a fascinating and important part of the history of the area.

From there we took a short walk along the Jitney trail:

where we saw the locally-famous double-crested cormorants that nest along the break water. They put on quite a show for us when one caught a fish and the others decided they wanted it. Just when the matter seemed to be settled (and I stopped taking photographs) a bald eagle swooped in to try (unsuccessfully) to steal the fish. Sadly I wasn't able to capture that drama, but I still got a pretty good photograph of the disappointed eagle departing.

We split the journey back to camp at Tatamagouche, where after dinner, we had another short walk - starting at a railyard where the coaches are now hotel rooms and a restaurant (not where we ate) along a rail trail where we admired the English-looking hedgerows and the amazing light as the clouds closed in. E5N1 coined the hashtag "#FirstToTheBridge" and then - as we drove on, the sky put on another show for us.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Day 10.229: Exile #2's Sunday Column #190

Exile #2 writes...

We spent much of yesterday at one of the local water parks with families from Exile #4's karate school. It was a sunny day, and just about warm enough for playing in the water, but when the sun started to go down behind the trees, it was definitely time to go home.

The temperatures are dipping in just time for the start of school. Exile #3 goes in for one day this Thursday, then all three are back, after the Labor Day holiday, on the following Tuesday.

This afternoon, we headed out for a quick trip to Biddeford Pool. It's not a long walk, but it is pretty, and comes with the added bonus of a rocky shore to explore. E5N1 collected some periwinkle shells to present to us as an early anniversary gift (or anniversity gift as he actually managed to say). Meanwhile, Exile #3 treated a somewhat bemused seagull to an exclusive performance of the dance pieces she's been working on this week with her company.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Day 10.228: Nova Scotia trip recap - day 6

On Wednesday, we added a third province to our tally for the trip - by crossing the amazing Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island. The day started with a visit to the park at the New Brunswick end of the bridge. We enjoyed the views of the bridge and walked the trails to the lighthouse which is being renovated. We amused ourselves by noticing that someone was apparently moving house to Prince Edward Island (bottom right).

The bird was flying near an osprey nest and we assumed that it was another osprey until I looked closer at the photos and realised it was an immature northern harrier.

On PEI, we headed to Charlottetown - the capital and largest city in the province. We enjoyed fish and chips at a fiercely English restaurant (complete with sign to "The Loos"). We walked the charming streets and the kids celebrated Canada's sesquicentennial and E5N1 tried some Ninja Warrior moves.

As the middle of the afternoon arrived, rain was threatening. Fortunately, we timed things rather well (thanks to Exile #2's excellent planning and a little good luck) and popped into the Confederation Centre of the Arts where we missed the rain - and enjoyed the art.

The pictures in the middle are a work that first caught our eye because of its marvelous shadow, but we loved even more when we realised it was made out of breakfast cereal. At the bottom is the exhibit which has two other identical installations - in Newfoundland and in Alberta. Because each has a video camera and three screens showing the stream from each, E5N1 found he could wave and pull faces at gallery visitors in Edmonton and see them return some at him.

E5N1 also liked the work in the top right and encouraged me to see if it was a working QR code. When I pointed my phone at it it displayed this:

which is slightly less ominous when you discover it is the name of the work.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Day 10.227: Nova Scotia trip recap - day 5

With the promise of the best weather of the week and after few days with a significant amounts of driving, we decided to have a stay-at-"home" day and returned - via the trails - to the beach at the park where we were camping. It certainly looked different on a sunny morning than on the post-rain dreary evening of our first visit.

We had read before our trip that this coast has the warmest ocean water north of the Carolinas. It didn't really feel that way on Saturday evening - when a few of us dipped our toes in, but on Tuesday it lived up to its billing. We waded in the clear and very pleasantly warm water. Exile #4 and I swam and later, E5N1 found that the beach pools were even warmer - pretty much bath temperature - and proceeded to bathe!

E5N1 was taken with this two-tone rock he found that seemed to be mirroring the colours of the beach and sea:

We saw a lot of wildlife: a fly-by from a bald eagle, a lot of semi-palmated plovers, an unidentified gull with fairly distinctive looking features (possibly an immature black-headed gull?), and many things seen in the amazingly clear and warm shallows - lots of hermit crabs and also (not pictured) - shrimp, schools of small fish, some small flat fish and some larger crabs).

In the evening we went out for dinner just over the border in New Brunswick, and as we were returning, we briefly stopped at Baie Verte Park where we admired the views while E5N1 played for a while

and then we were treated to some fancy flying from an osprey - which patrolled and hovered, but did not appear to have any luck while we watched:

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Day 10.226: Nova Scotia trip recap - day 4

Our next trip was to fulfill my main ambition for the vacation - to witness the Bay of Fundy tides. By a mixture of luck, planning and determination, we ended up being in Parrsboro at both low and high tide.

The town is really cute - including some unusual street furniture, signs and tiny houses built to fill gaps between the regular sized ones - fortunately, one piece of street furniture was magically able to shrink E5N1 to the right size for the tiny homes.

We also had a good time at the Geological Museum - even if Exile #4 couldn't help being slightly freaked out by the giant millipede - an obviously plastic replica of a prehistoric creature. We were all a bit uncertain about the incredibly ugly dinosaur outside (but we still took a selfie!):

From there we headed up to the Fundy Ocean Research Center for Energy (FORCE) visitor center where we found out about the progress of plans to create electricity from the powerful tides. Pictured below: a view from the long dirt road, Exile #4 with hair by Exile #3, the center with an idea of its views of the bay, our dinner (later back at the camp) and Exile #4 realising that her new hair made her significantly taller than Exile #2:

From there we watched the tide rising (you could tell just by watching for a couple of minutes) - this whole sequence was only an hour and ten minutes:

It was not quite high tide when we made it back into town to take the "after" photos, but you can definitely get an impression:

Mission accomplished!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Day 10.225: Nova Scotia trip recap - day 3

We were pleasantly surprised that we all got an excellent night's sleep on our air mattresses under canvas. We were slow to get moving, eventually setting out in the late morning to visit Truro.

The day was a little cool and damp and our drive took us up into the clouds, so we were pleasantly surprised after a stop for lunch to find that it was dry enough for a hike at Victoria Park. The park is beautiful and our trail started above the waterfall, so we explored the gorge first and then set off into the woods in a trail that had two dotted sections on the map indicating that they were steep:

and steep they were, but we were up to the challenge. On finding a large area of impressive clover, there was a brief search for four-leaved ones, but in the end it was the two-leaved clovers that caught our eye because of their resemblance to small green butterflies. The fungi also caught our eye.

After a bit of playground time for E5N1 and some relaxing listening to live music for the rest of us, we met up with our friends who live in Truro and it ended up being a large gathering for dinner:

followed by a quick bit of grocery shopping and the drive back over the pass to our camp.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Day 10.224: Nova Scotia trip recap - day 2

Our first full day of our trip saw us make the drive into Nova Scotia and along the coast to our home-for-the-week Amherst Shore Provincial Park not far from the New Brunswick border on the Northumberland Strait which separates Prince Edward Island from the mainland. The journey was rather wet and when we arrived in the early afternoon there was no sign of a significant break in the rain any time soon, so we went ahead and put our tent up in the rain. One of the nice surprises of this trip was just how helpful the kids can be these days - so it went pretty well.

By the time we were done, it seemed too late to bother with lunch, so we went out for an early dinner instead. While we ate, the weather finally broke and when we got back to our campsite, we went to discover the trail to the beach where we marveled at the red sand and rocks, the many, many periwinkles and a pile of rocks with a dead crab (we added a second one):

Monday, August 21, 2017

Day 10.223: Eclipsed

I was at work this afternoon when the moon took a chunk out of the sun. At one time, we had planned a road-trip to the path of the totality, but Exile #3's dance schedule made the timing difficult - hence our road-trip north last week (more recaps coming soon!).

This was the best picture I took when I stepped outside briefly near to the peak time for our partial solar eclipse:

It was a top-tip from a guest on NPR to look at the shadows of trees. Exile #2 saw a similar sight at home:

She also arranged a very simple pinhole camera with E5N1 - with just two paper plates:

which did a pretty nice job:

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Day 10.222: Exile #2's Sunday Column #189

Exile #2 writes...

Before we left for our trip, I was feeling a little nervous. We hadn't camped in a tent for as long as a week before. The weather was looking, shall we say, uncertain, and as I figured out how we might spend our time, it became clear that we would be camping in a very quiet area, with the nearest restaurants 20-30 mins away and most things even further. Also, we had made it clear to the kids that, with no electric hookups at the pitch site, phones and devices would be off limits for the week.

However, our vacation was quite, quite lovely. Our location put us within driving distance of three Canadian provinces, and in amongst a interesting blend of cultures. The Northumberland coast, where we were, was heavily influenced by the Scots. But even a short way west, in what was known as Acadia, we found a thriving French culture and many French speakers. Prince Edward Island was, not surprisingly, quite British, and so we had fish and chips to celebrate.

There were farm animals and wild animals galore. We laughed a lot, slowed right down, and relished not hearing the news for a week. Other highlights included: stocking up on British sweets/candy, and the famously-banned-in-the-US Kinder eggs, the niceness of Canadians, and a great shower block with lovely hot showers!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Day 10.221: Nova Scotia trip recap - day 1

We're home! Now to try to tell the story of our trip a bit more thoroughly (and with photos!)...

On Friday afternoon, we packed up the car and set off:

We pulled off the highway briefly at a scenic overlook not long before we reached the Canadian border. Exile #3 and E5N1 were happy to stretch their legs, but what was concerning Exile #2 and Exile #4?

They were trying to spot Mount Katahdin through the mist. We managed - but with a bit of photographic enhancement, you can make it out better than we did:

After an uneventful border crossing, we drove to Fredericton, the provincial capital of New Brunswick, where we had arranged to stay in a student apartment at the university.

It was great - especially for E5N1 who often finds himself sleeping on an air mattress on a hotel room floor - and instead had a bed, and a room to himself.