|Dates:||June 21 - July 29, 2019|
|Location:||The Canadian Maritime Provinces|
|Hosts:||RV Adventure Treks|
We had a wonderful trip through New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island. This caravan was organized and led by RV Adventure Treks. Originally, it was hoped that there would be enough Born Free coaches to make this an all Born Free caravan. Alas, this didn't happen so the Born Free coaches were invited to join a larger group. This worked out well. The group wasn't so large as to be unmanageable and we got the opportunity to travel with a wide variety of other RV owners and RVs. The caravan consisted of trailers, class As and class Cs. Our wagon masters were Everett Emino and his wife, Jeanette. They were truly wonderful leaders.
The Born Free participants in the caravan were:
Pictures from our trip can be seen at Holbrooks On The Horizon Travel Blog. There are links at the bottom of each page to the previous and next day's blog.
We met in St. Andrew's, NB on June 21. Lovely campground, right on the water at the end of the road. Met our fellow travelers, discussed the trip basics and potential carpooling arrangements when we went on activities. Our group trips were by carpool unless we had a bus provided.
We had a group tour to Minister's Island and then explored the Charlotte County Courthouse, Gaol, Huntsman Marine Science Center and Kingsbrae Botanical Gardens on our own.
Next stop was St. John, NB, with its reversing rapids. Saw the rapids at both high & low tides and took a group bus tour to the City Market, the Reversing Rapids, the Carleton-Martello Tower and Fort Howe. Took our own trip to Moosehead Brewery, then went to Billy's Seafood Restaurant for dinner.
The next day was a drive to the campground right outside Hopewell Rocks, NB. Since it was such a short driving day, we stopped at Alma Lobster Center for lobster and Cape Enrage (low tide) along the way. Later we saw the tidal bore in Moncton and stopped at Hopewell Rocks for high tide on our own. The next day we did a group trip to Cape Enrage (high tide) and Hopewell Rocks (low tide) with a tour along the rocks at Hopewell.
Another short driving day to just outside of Truro, NS. We made stops at Fort Beausejour and the Springhill Mines Museum. Both were interesting stops even though the weather wasn't that great.
The next day was also a short driving day, this time to Annapolis Royal, NS. We stopped along the way at Grand Prés, a national historic site showcasing the Acadians with memorials to Evangeline and the deported Acadians.
In Annapolis Royal, we got a group tour of the fort and a Candlelight Graveyard tour. On our own, we also visited the farmer's market, the Historical Gardens and Annapolis Brewing Company. The next day, we got group tours of the Tidal Power Generating Station and Port Royal National Historic site. We then tried driving around the west end of the Port Royal peninsula but ran out of road.
July 1, Canada Day, was a driving day to Halifax, NS. Since it was a short driving day, we stopped along the way at Ross Farm Museum. Interesting place; spent about an hour watching and chatting with the cooper. Toured the rest of the buildings & got a carriage ride around the property. The docents at these sites really make the difference between an OK and a great visit.
In Halifax, we had a group tour of the city, including the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic (guided), Fairview Lawn Cemetery (Titanic victims), and the Halifax Citadel. Went to Mic Mac Bar & Grill for dinner. There were group trips to Peggy's Cove and the SwissAir Flight 111 Memorial the following day. We had some great Mexican Lobster Rolls at Tom's Lobster Shack in Peggy's Cove. The next day in Halifax was a day on our own, so we took ourselves back to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic to actually go through it, then got a tour of the HMCS Sackville, wandered along the Halifax Harbourwalk, then in the evening, the group went to the Halifax International Tattoo. Tattoo was great! The next day in Halifax was on our own, so we went back to the Citadel to tour it more completely, went to the Public Gardens, then to St. Mary's church, Province House and St. Paul's church. After dinner at the Little Fish Restaurant, we went to a concert at St. Matthew's church by a brass band from the Tattoo.
The next day was a driving day to Lunenburg, NS. We stopped at Mahone Bay on the way there, then drove out to The Ovens to hike along the cliffs and check them out. In Lunenburg, the next day, we had a group tour of the Fisheries of the Atlantic Museum. On our own, we then did a walking tour of Lunenburg, then a Haunted Lunenburg evening walk. In between, Everett, our Wagon Master, met those interested at Blockhouse Hill to share with us his family's history and its ties to Lunenburg. Had dinner at The Knot Pub.
In the morning, we had a long drive to Sydney, NS, basically the length of the province. The Arm of Gold Campground had a musical jam session that evening that was pretty good. Next morning was a group bus tour of the Cabot Trail. We made stops at St. Peter's in Chéticamp, an overlook by Pleasant Bay, and lunch at MacIntosh Brook. The weather was great so views were nice. A carpool trip to Louisburg Fortress was the next day's trip. Took a walking tour there to get an overview. It's a huge place with lots of history. Again, docents in each of the sites make or break the stop. Had lunch there and spent most of the day exploring.
Drove to North Sydney, NS in the morning to catch the "short" (7 hours) Newfoundland ferry to Port aux Basques. (Newfies are particular about how you pronounce the name of their province. It is similar to "understand", i.e. new-fund-LAND.) Got to the campgrounds in Codroy around dinner time. In the morning, took a group bus tour of the Codroy Valley area, stopping at the Wetlands Centre, Chaps Museum/Garage and St. Andrew's Church of the Precious Blood. Toured through Port aux Basques, then out to Rose Blanche lighthouse. Had a group lunch along the way. That evening at the campgrounds, enjoyed some local music and got "screeched in". Now we're honorary Newfoundlanders.
The next day was driving part way up the west coast of Newfoundland to Mountain Waters Resort. Stopped along the way at Captain James Cook National Historic Site and at Arches Provincial Park. The site of the Captain Cook memorial was impressive; high up on bluffs overlooking Corner Brook. At the campground that night we had a group dinner of moose stew. Countryside here is very different from anything else we've seen. Where it isn't mountainous, it's flat, rock or bog with few, short, trees.
Drove all the way to St. Anthony, at the northern tip of Newfoundland, on July 14. We stopped along the way at Torrent River Salmon Interpretation Center, which was really interesting. Also stopped at the Thrombolites Walking Trail in Flower's Cove. This is only 1 of 2 places in the world you can see these thrombolites, which are related to the stromatolites of western Australia. The next morning we had a group trip to L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site where the Vikings had a summer staging area for travels farther south. Had a tour of that and explored further on our own. Also stopped at the Leif Erickson statue and at Norstead, a recreation of a Viking village, including the Viking boat Snorri, which sailed from Greenland to Newfoundland, tracing Leif's path.
Drove down to Gros Morne National Park the next day. We stopped at Green Point to explore the rock layers and at Lobster Cove Lighthouse to explore it and the surrounding area.
The next morning we left early to get to the Discovery Center when it opened at 9:00. Explored it for a bit, then took the 10:00 Tablelands guided hike (this is a barren landscape that is one of the few places in the world where you can see and walk on the Earth's mantle, normally 40 miles or so beneath the surface). Learned lots about the rock layers, vegetation and history of the area on the hike. Got back to Norris Point in time to join the group for an afternoon cruise of Bonne Bay. Saw a couple whales while waiting for the cruise to start and great scenery while on the cruise. After the cruise, we drove up to Rocky Harbor to get lobster for dinner. They cooked & cracked it for us so all we had to do was eat it.
Off to Gander the next day. We left fairly early to get to the Aviation Museum in Gander in time for the 1:00 Beyond Words Tour. This took us to the Gander Airport to learn about all the planes diverted to Gander on 9/11. From there we went to the City Hall to meet with a townswoman who shared her experiences of that week with us. We then went to one of the schools that housed several planeloads of passengers; saw the memorabilia and thank you notes. We met the group at the Aviation Museum and toured that next. Another couple in the caravan made a stop at the Newfoundland Insectarium in Deer Lake. They said it was fantastic.
We drove to St. John's the next day. Short drive, so we headed out to Cape Spear. Beautiful day, the capelin (little fish) were swarming near the surface near the shore and there were all kinds of birds & whales feeding on them. We must have seen over 50 whales, some right up next to the cliff base. Hundreds of gannets, puffins, cormorants, murres, and guillimots. This is the easternmost point of North America and the oldest lighthouse. Went to Yellowbelly Brewery for dinner. In the morning we had a group Iceberg Quest boat trip, looking for whales. Saw some but not as many as yesterday. Had lunch then we went to the Johnson Geocenter. Caught the first bit of a presentation by a Canadian astronaut marking the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11's moon landing. They had a good presentation of the Titanic and of the geology of Newfoundland. Very interesting. The next morning was a group bus tour of St. John's. Stopped first at Cape Spear; got to go in the lighthouse this time. Next stop on the tour was Petty Harbor, a scenic fishing village, then Quidi Vidi, again a scenic fishing village that also has a brewery. This village has a really narrow harbor entrance which limits the boat size here. Next tour stop was The Rooms, a museum/gallery/archive of Newfoundland history. Big exhibit on Newfoundland's involvement in WW I (Newfoundland was an independent British crown colony until it joined Canada in 1949). From here, our tour went up to Signal Hill, a site used primarily to signal what company's ships were approaching the harbor. Also had an exhibit on Marconi in the Cabot Tower. Finished the tour with a military tattoo by the Signal Hill Visitor's Center. Had dinner at The Duke of Duckworth, then desert of ice cream at Moo Moo Dairy. The next day was a day on our own, so we had a birding guide take us around the area south of St. John's. Took a boat trip out of Bay Bulls to Witless Ecological Preserve. Amazing birding there along with some whales. Got down to Cape Race and again saw lots more birds and active whales.
We all drove to Fortune the next day in preparation for the ferry to St. Pierre. It rained during the day and was pouring when we arrived. Since we had time, we went up to the Provincial Maritime Museum in Grand Bank. Interesting place. Had planned to visit the Geological Ecocenter in Fortune but the rain ended that idea. We all caught the ferry to St. Pierre in the morning. (St. Pierre is the last vestige of French colonialism in North America and is still part of France. They are in a different time zone than Newfoundland, use the Euro and have 220V power. You need your passport to visit.) Cloudy but calm crossing to the island. Had a group bus tour of the south end of the island and learned a bit more about its history. Had the afternoon to have lunch and wander around the town. Had lunch at Les Délices de Joséphine; tasty but slow service. Purchased various things to eat and bring back to the States. Afternoon ferry back to Fortune.
The next day we all traveled to Argentia to catch the "long" (16 hour) overnight ferry back to North Sydney, NS. Had dinner in the restaurant, then most folks retired to their reserved cabins to sleep.
Got to North Sydney by around 9 am on July 26 and checked into the campground. Then we headed for Iona Highland Village. Wandered around there for a while. Interesting site showing the history and evolution of the Scottish presence on Cape Breton. From there, drove to Baddeck, NS to the Alexander Graham Bell Museum. Spent a bit of time there learning about AG Bell's hydrofoil interests and experiments. On the way back to the campground, made a quick stop at the Gaelic College gift shop in St. Ann.
Another travel day, this time to Prince Edward Island via the Caribou-Woods Island ferry. No reservations for this ferry, we just left the campgrounds early and got there as soon as we could. Arrived at the ferry line-up around 10 am, shortly after the first ferry had left. We were #10 in line so were hopeful of getting on the next ferry. They took lots of cars but not many RVs. At the last minute, they squeezed us on in the very back. In the end, some groups had to wait all day in the hot, sunny parking lot to get across. Probably would have been just as fast for them to drive around to the Confederation Bridge.
In the morning, we took a group bus tour through the "Land of Anne". Started with Green Gables Museum, the house of an aunt of LM Montgomery, which was a favorite childhood haunt. Lake of Shining Waters is here. Toured the house, which is still in the family with original furniture including several items mentioned in the Anne books. LM Montgomery was also married here. Next stop was Green Gables house in PEI National Park. This house belonged to LMM's grandfather's cousins and was a mile down the road from where she grew up with her grandparents. Lover's Lane and Haunted Wood are here. From here, drove to Rustico harbor to learn about lobstering, then on to Charlottetown, PEI. Had some free time here so we visited St. Dunstan's Basilica and had lunch at John Brown's Richmond St. Grill. Excellent food! Got back to the campground in the early afternoon, so we drove a bit of the countryside, stopping at the Toy Factory (unusual) and the PEI Preserve Co. We had a group lobster dinner at Fisherman's Wharf in Rustico.
Our last day, July 29, we drove back to Charlottetown to explore some more. Stopped at St. Dunstan's again then walked down to the harbour. Stopped at Cow's Creamery factory, which purportedly has the best ice cream in the world, on the way back for a tour of the place. They weren't making ice cream that day but were making T-shirts, so watched that process a bit. They have some very fun, creative T-shirts available. Had lunch at Boom Burger, then drove to Avonlea Village to meet the group for Cow's Creamery ice cream there. In the evening we had a group coach to Charlottetown to see the Anne of Green Gables musical. Very good show.
We met some wonderful people on this trip. In re-reading this summary, it doesn't make clear the wonderful scenery, fascinating geology, extensive history and delightful people we encountered. We did research before and during the trip to take advantage of the times available to us for side trips. We carpooled with two delightful couples and had wonderful, interesting wagon-masters and tail-gunners.
Prepared by Ann and Dave Moffat.