Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Bond Family Cruise Part 2 - Oh Canada!

Thursday morning.  Once again, we woke at the crack of dawn - or we would have if it hadn't been raining in Saint John, New Brunswick.  Now don't go confusing this with St. John's Newfoundland.  That's not where we were.  How'd we know? 
Well, because we saw Saint John written on everything.  NOT St. John's.  Since the weather wasn't all that great and there were no tenders to catch, we took our time getting off the boat.  And, since it was raining, we decided to start our day with a taxi ride up to the Reversing Falls.  The Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world.  When the tide comes in, it comes it with such force it causes the river to run backwards.  Yep.  UPstream.  I suppose this is an incredible thing to watch from the right area.  We, however, weren't in the right area to see it.  AND we were a little behind the tide.  So, what we got to see was a big wide river running left instead of right.  A little anticlimactic, thus, no pictures.  Our taxi driver assured us it was phenomenal.  We took his word for it and hopped back in the cab.

After an exhilarating ride chock full of valuable information and offers to tour us around the city all day, we let him drop us off at the Old Saint John Courthouse - home of the 'longest free-standing stone spiral staircase in the world'...according to our taxi driver.  It was a pretty amazing staircase, even if it was tucked into an unamazing corner of the courthouse.

The begonias in the park across the street from the courthouse were even more amazing.  They were so colorful in the rain, it looked as though someone had thrown buckets of paint all over the grass.

Things dried up after awhile, and we enjoyed just traipsing around town.  Saint John is a busy little place and there was lots of life on the streets, including some fun and accessible art.

Jake & Delila had fun crawling all over the statues.

And then we saw this guy walking down the street.  Of course, we had to follow him.  He led us directly to the Buskers on the Boardwalk festival.  It's been an ongoing event in Saint John for the last 20 years.  The official start was Friday, so we were a day early, but there was plenty to see and do while the Buskers (street performers) prepared for the festivities to begin.

We pulled up a table at a sidewalk cafe and got to watch street artist Rachel Peters get herself set up.  This is her artwork from last year's festival.  Unfortunately, I haven't found a picture of this year's finished work, but I'm going to keep looking.  The kids had so much fun talking with her and watching her get everything laid out.  This year's piece was to be about a lonely elephant, and looked like it was going to be really great.

After our lunch, we headed inside the shopping mall adjacent to the boardwalk, where we found another performer getting ready to start his act.  Wacky Chad.  Lila got in on the act...

...and so did I.  Yes, I got to take a turn on the super duper pogo stick.  I could hardly get it off the ground, but Wacky Chad made that thing soar sky high.  He did flips and all kinds of crazy tricks that I'm sure Jake will want to try as soon as it's cool enough to play outside again.  Oh boy!  I can't wait!

We had a lot of fun at the Buskers event...almost too much fun.  We really had to hustle back to the boat.  We got there just in time to hear the piper bidding us farewell.  He was really incredible, and only 14 years old.

Friday morning found us in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  It was our last port of call.  Halifax is not a quaint little tourist town.  Rather, it's a bustling city with a busy port.  Our first stop was the fort at the highest point in the city - The Citadel.  This poor fellow was standing sentry.  I say poor, because it was a warm, cloudless day and he was standing in the blazing sun in a wool jacket, with a backpack and that crazy hat on.  He was sweatin' bullets!  But at lease his legs stayed nice and cool in his skirt...um, I mean a kilt.

The Citadel was really interesting.  It was a fairly typical fort, in my opinion, except that it had two tall masts at its highest ground.  We learned that these were signaling masts.  One mast was used to signal merchants, dockworkers, and the likes that ships were arriving so there was work to be done.  Specific flags would be run up the mast that would identify the shipping company, its cargo and where exactly the ship would be docked.  The other mast was used for military purposes.  At one time, there were many forts in the area and they communicated with each other by means of the flags that were flying.  Once a flag or pennant was sent up the mast, other forts were required to respond in kind within 30 minutes.  If no response was made, the offending soldier could face court martial.

Our arrival at The Citadel was timed perfectly - and serendipitously.  Every day at noon, a troupe of soldiers climbs to the top of the wall and fires the cannon.  And wow!  What a production.  Lots of marching and formations - all kinds of pomp & circumstance.

We hung out at The Citadel for quite a while.  This was our day with MaMa so we took our time and really soaked up the history.  Lila wasn't too fond of all the military action and the soldiers parading around beating their drums.  She especially wasn't thrilled with the guys in the big hats.  I suppose from her vantage point they looked awfully big.  In the end, she made friends with one, but it was a tenuous relationship.

After we'd thoroughly explored the fort and all it had to offer, we hopped on a "FRED" bus (Free Rides Everywhere Downtown) and headed to the Public Gardens.  They were really lovely and since it was such a beautiful day, we were very happy to stay for a while.

The guide on the FRED bus really talked the garden up, making it sound like a 'must do when in Halifax', so I was surprised at how small the grounds were.  The garden occupies a city block, which I suppose is a decent size for an inner city garden.  Unless, of course, you grow up with Washington, DC as your frame of reference, where there's green space every 2-3 blocks.  In spite of my surprise at the size, there was really quite a lot going on in the garden.  There were a couple of small ponds, streams and several fountains.  In the middle of the garden there was a Victorian looking structure which serves as a cafe.  They sold ice cream, which the kids would have loved.  MaMa too, for that matter.  But Duke had his sites set on a different lunchtime locale.

So, with rumbling tummies, we set off to find this place - The Henry House.  He thought it would be a short walk down a bustling city street.  Unfortunately, we didn't know the name of the place and the physical description Duke gave a local shop keeper led us on a bit of a wild goose chase.  We did eventually find it, and it was well worth the walk.  A walk that nearly killed MaMa, but all's well that ends well...right?  (She probably has a different opinion about that!)  The food was good, the beer was great and just look at how pretty the setting was - power lines excluded, of course.

Jake & Lila loved the place because the fries were good and because Jake got to engage in a foreign exchange:

One US dime for one Canadian dime...and a Canadian penny thrown in for good luck!  After lunch, MaMa dumped us.  She took the FRED back to the boat, which left us to finish our exploring by ourselves.  We walked around a bit more and then headed back to the boat.

Having already had such great success with the local brews at the Henry House, we decided to push our luck and stop at the Garrison brewery.  Conveniently located directly outside the entrance to the seaport, it was the perfect spot to end our day.

Delila found the root beer to be full bodied with just the right amount of bubbles and a sweet yet refreshing finish.

Jake gave it an enthusiastic Garrison canon style Thumbs Up!  The IPA was quite satisfying too, and we couldn't resist buying a bottle of the Jalapeno Ale to try at a later date.  Guaranteed to cool you down and warm you up all at the same time.  We'll see about that!

And so our day in Halifax and our Canadian adventure came to a close.  And yes, I think we did manage to make a little magic.

1 comment:

The Lenzers said...

what a groovy little town, love all the art. D looks so different with all her hair/curls pulled back. such cuties....glad yall had fun and survived a family trip