Washington, DC – the 2 M’s

How do you decide what to do in DC?

Museums?

Monuments?

You can do both, but you can’t do it all in 5 days I’ll tell you that much.   Much like it was in Montreal we took the bus to the train, and the train in to the City.  I loved DC, it’s clean with wide streets, the traffic wasn’t insane, the drivers didn’t seem overly aggressive (like the whole province of Quebec), the streets weren’t filled with honking horns (like New York City).  The history, the monuments, the museums, the overwhelming size of the buildings.  The Capitol Building, The Archives, The Department of Justice, The FBI, The Pentagon, The Smithsonian, and on and on.

 

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The Memorials were impressive:  The FDR Memorial, The Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr Memorial, The Vietnam Memorial Wall, The Korean War Memorial and on and on.

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Martin Luther King Jr’s Memorial in DC with a tourist in the frame to give the photo scale.

 

Our favorite was Franklin D Roosevelt’s.  It’s located next to the Jefferson Memorial and near Martin Luther King Jr’s memorial as well.  FDR’s memorial has no stairs and is wheelchair accessible as you would assume it should be.  It is a large open space with statues of him, his wife Eleanor and their dog, a Scottish terrior named Fala.

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The Soup Kitchen statue at the FDR Memorial in DC. Oct-2017.

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On the wall at FDR Memorial in Washington, DC.

 

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Want to drive in DC? Just pick a lane and go!

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Watching over the Capitol Building and the White House in DC.

 

New York City – Squares and Circles…

I was so excited about our trip to New York City.  It’s been a part of the trip planning since the trip plan began.  Who DOESN’T want to go to New York City?

First step was to find a place to park the RV – that turned out to be an easy decision after we saw a UTube video of a couple on the Looong Honeymoon describe their stay at Liberty Harbor Marina RV Park in Jersey City.  The location is excellent and that is it’s attraction.  It is basically some RV spaces in a parking lot at the Marina.  Gravel pads, electricity and water and a sewer dump on site.  A building with showers and toilets in one corner.  Nothing fancy, but we weren’t planning on sitting around the trailer.. we are talking NEW YORK!!

Driving in to Liberty Harbor and Jersey City was a nightmare for me.  I took up two lanes on some narrow bridge and blocked all the traffic behind me (But like Randy said afterwards ‘no one was honking at you, so it was no big deal’).  Then I got to an intersection under a overpass and was in the wrong lane to go straight thru so I put on my signal light and did another one of my patented “tourist turns” while holding up everyone behind me who wanted to turn right and couldn’t because I was waiting for traffic to clear so I could continue in a straight line.  (still no honking – such polite New Yorkers).  I managed to negotiate thru road construction barrels, squished my way past a bus and navigated narrow bumpy streets to our destination.  No scratches, dents and only a few swear words were heard.

There is a water taxi that runs between the park and Manhatten ( once again location, location, location ).  The cost is $6.50 per person per trip.  It runs in the morning until 9:45 and then begins again in the evening at 4:15 until 9PM.  So you are limited to extended night time stays in the city if that is your mode of travel and when you go over in the morning you are now in NY City all day.  There is a train (the Path) which runs over to NY but we never bothered to figure out it’s path or the schedule.  We heard that the Taxi’s don’t like to go over to Jersey because then they inevitably have to return empty to NYC.  We could have used Uber I suppose, but didn’t try that either.  You can tell we aren’t much for partying with the night owls.. haha.

New York City is HUGE!  It’s MASSIVE! It’s just like you would imagine after seeing it on TV and reading about it.  I discovered quite quickly that it is impossible to capture New York City in a photograph or many photographs.  How can you capture what your eye can see, in a picture?

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A small piece of New York City as seen from the observation tower at the Empire State Building – Sep 2017.

 

It’s a city of Squares & Circles and much more:

Times Square and Union Square (which aren’t really square in shape), the Memorial Pools at the 911 Memorial (which are squares).  Madison Square Garden – is a round arena with a rectangle for a rink.  You get the idea of what I’m saying.  Columbus Circle, traffic circles, archways and angles of the World Trade Centre and Brookfield Place on Vesey Street.  I will include a few pictures that I took that show the complex shapes and overall feel of how BIG the City really is.  I would go back any time and see, walk, eat and be entertained.  What a great City!

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Brookfield Place shopping centre and commercial offices near the 911 Memorial in New York City.

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Reflections around Bookfield Place, with the World Trade Centre spire in the background. New York Sep-2017.

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A piece of the Memorial Wall at the 911 Memorial in New York City.

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A reflection of New York buildings in the water of the 911 Memorial in New York City.

Amazing Race – New York

   We participated in our own version of “Amazing Race NYork”, and let me tell you this: it was NOT fun.  Here’s the story:

We had been in NY City all day, close to 9 hours in total, we arrived at the Pier at around 7PM for our return trip to the RV site and there are flashing police lights, motorcycle cops, armed members of the police and helicopters circling the harbor above us.  What is going on?  We have NO idea, so we join some guys at the railing over looking the harbor and we are treated to a futuristic vision of the Osprey tilt-rotor Marine One Helicopter as it lifted off with you know who aboard.

Yes, it was President Trump!

I thought it was fantastic seeing the Osprey lift straight up off the deck, then the rotors tilted and away they went.  2 Ospreys lifted off, one is a decoy.

Cool right?

That was until we discovered that the whole harbor was now shut down for the evening and we are STUCK on the wrong side.  It’s dark, we don’t know the City and the poor young man giving us the bad news is obviously overwhelmed.  He tells us that there is another ferry that goes across to Jersey (that’s good news), we ask him where it leaves from and he points and says “over there”.  (that’s bad news).

Where is over there?

What is over there called?

How far away is over there?

He doesn’t know the answer, just keeps pointing towards NYC.  We find a friendly police man who doesn’t know where “over there” is either.  Seriously?  are you kidding?  (nope, he’s not kidding) (that’s bad news).  Ok, we will flag a cab, except that is impossible because the streets have been closed down by the pier for hours and no one is going anywhere.  We proceed to walk “over there” for a couple of blocks, hop in a cab and ask him to take us to the ferry terminal.  He has NO CLUE where it is, what it is, how to get us there.  Seriously?  Are you kidding?  (nope, he’s not kidding) (that’s bad news).  He eventually manages to contact someone who knows where “over there” is and when he gets there, he drops us off.

Phew..

Where is the terminal?

What is the terminal called?

We can’t see anything anywhere, we are surrounded by office buildings.  We frantically run up to a couple and ask them for directions.  They point us towards the water and say it’s “over there”, just follow the water.  We walk and walk and walk some more and still haven’t seen anything but we can see Jersey City off in the distance so we know we are kind of in the right place.  We stop another person and they tell us to keep following the water and we will see it.  We got there with 3 minutes to spare and ran on to the boat.  (good news).

So what’s the bad news?

We get dropped off at a different terminal which is about a mile from the RV Park.  That would be ok if we had been there before or if it was daylight out (but it’s NOT).  We don’t exactly know how to get to the park but we sort of know its “over there”.. we twist and turn and eventually find our way back to Liberty Harbor.  Stressed, tired, sore feet, but we made it back.

Boston Brown

 

After crossing the border we spent a few days in Bar Harbor, Maine.  What a great seaside town to wander around in.  It’s small on size, but big on tourism.  Cruise ships, restaurants everywhere, tourist trinkets, tshirts, and streets busy with people, so much fun there.  Lobster pounds, BBQ pits and more lobster.  Very similar to eastern Canada which is only a couple of hours away.  The trees are shedding their colors and will soon shed their leaves.  Awesome scenery as we drive to our different campgrounds.

Next stop was Boston.  We stayed at The Minuteman Campground (which is the closest campground to Boston).  You can tell we are not “city folk” as we were kind of shocked when we found out “closest” still means 2 hrs away (give or take) by public transport.  Drive, park, catch the train and return in rush hour traffic which the locals say starts around 4PM but you couldn’t really tell by me.  Holy crap is it busy on the roads.  There’s a good reason I have never lived in a major urban area.  NO THANKS!

Boston is brown, brick brown, red brick, brown brick brown.  It is not a brass and glass city like Vancouver or Toronto.  Rough streets, exposed man hole covers, road construction, old trains, old subway tunnels that need to be cleaned up a tad.  It has the feel of a working man’s city.  Very serious vibe, maybe the fact that is was windy and rainy added to the mood.  We took the Old Towne Trolley Tour which is a great way to see the sights, have a beer at Cheers, go to Quincy Market, or the site of the Boston Tea Party, follow the Freedom Trail, eat chowder, eat cheesecake, just eat something.  Don’t let the color fool you, there’s lots to see and do in this city!

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Busy Boston intersection.

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Boston brick and ornate clock at Quincy Market.

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Boston lights.

Bye Bye Canada, see you in 180 days!

And just like that our piece of the Circle that included eastern Canada has ended.  We circled back to Moncton and then Saint John, New Brunswick and hung out in the sun for a few days before venturing across the border into Maine.

No exciting stories to share, just our usual run of the day stuff.  We caught up on laundry, washed the outside of the trailer and the truck and ate all our food in the fridge and freezer.  We will be all neat, tidy and empty when we cross the border :-).  While we were in Moncton we drove out to Hopewell Provincial Park and saw the famous Hopewell Rock formations.  We got there in the rain AND at high tide so any picture taking was out of the question.  The Bay of Fundy is interesting, lots of red cliffs, rock outcroppings and muddy red water.  We also drove back over to Shediac and fished off the pier for mackerel.  We bought a couple of lobster off a boat for 1/2 the price of what you can buy them for in the store.  We had dinner with friends that used to live in CRiver.  It was great to catch up with them and see what they’ve been doing since moving out here.

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The Coastline of Hopewell Provincial Park and the muddy water of the Bay of Fundy near Moncton, NB.

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The Bay of Fundy with the rip tide line and the coast of Maine off in the distance.

We then left Moncton and headed to Saint John NB in preparation for heading across the border.  We updated our health plan, worked on my photo’s and blog.  Sat in the sun lots.  We got our air conditioner looked at and temporarily fixed.  There are no quarantees that the gas won’t leak out again, but it’s working for now.  The weather has turned warm and we are heading for warmer climates so we are glad to have it working.  We are going to need it we think.

I drove around one day and discovered Lepreau Falls.  It is about 30KM out of Saint John towards the border with Maine.  The Falls are nice and there is a day use park there, it wasn’t busy at all and would be a great place for a picnic.  It’s very scenic.  The area below the falls was used by rum smugglers in the 1920’s and 1930’s as they prepared to run rum out to the Bay of Fundy and sell to ships off shore from the USA.

That’s where we will be heading next.  Bar Harbor, Boston, New York City – LOOK OUT – we’ll be there soon!

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Lepreau Falls in Lepreau National Park between Saint John, NB and the border in to Maine.

Halifax – Cool Harbour, Cole Harbour and Peggy’s Cove!

Every Canadian hockey fan knows that Sidney Crosby hails from Cole Harbour which is in the suburbs of Halifax.  It’s NOT Halifax as he pointed out when asked where he was “from”.  Halifax Harbour  is a mix of industry, business and tourism.  Cruise ships, tug boats, freighters, yachts, marinas, museums, restaurants, bars, shopping.  A boardwalk stretches between Pier 21 and Casino Nova Scotia.  It’s 4km (about 10 blocks) of people watching, water watching, beverage drinking and food eating fun!

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Happy shoppers strolling thru the buildings along the Halifax Harbour – Sep 2017

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Reflection of the Halifax Harbour walkway in a window. I loved the old brick buildings along the boardwalk.

Parking was NOT fun.  One way streets.  Construction everywhere.  People everywhere.  Narrow Streets.  Finally after driving around for about 3 circles of the harbour I figured out how to enter a parking lot and gladly paid the daily fee of $16 for a few hours of harbour fun.

Speaking of parking:  We drove out to Peggy’s Cove (40KM from Halifax).  The most photographed lighthouse in the universe.  You know what that means?  It means there’s a kabillion people flocking to a small piece of rock to take a photo of themselves, their family, their friends, the lighthouse, the rocks, and the birds.  So when a kabillion people show up and there are only 300 parking spots there is a problem.  We couldn’t get within a mile of the place so settled for a drive around and left it at that.  Very scenic coastline and well worth taking the circle drive from Halifax.

We visited the Halifax Public Gardens.  Free entry and it’s close to The Citadel so you can see both places and only pay for one parking space.. haha.

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Cobequid Silver Thread Dahlia – Halifax Public Garden – Sep 2017

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Halifax Public Garden – Sep 2017

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Field of Daisies at Halifax Public Garden – Sep 2017

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Halifax Public Garden – Sep 2017

Stepping Back in Sydney, Nova Scotia!

After leaving Baddeck and the Cabot Trail we moved location to the Arm of Gold Campground just outside of Sydney, Nova Scotia.  The distance between Baddeck and Sydney is about 70KM.. haha… not a very long drive but we wanted to be near the city and check it out without driving back and forth to Baddeck.

We drove downtown, saw the giant fiddle at the Cruise Ship Terminal and watched people fish for mackerel off the pier there.  A fellow who fishes there all the time let a young oriental girl reel in the mackerel and then they left it on the pier while we watched a otter come up and whisk it away right in front of everyone.  The joy she exhibited while reeling in the fish, the amazement as a little critter scurried from behind the wall and grabbed the fresh catch and then ran off to feed his family was something that she and her friends will never forget.  What a simple gesture that meant so much.

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We drove out to Glace Bay and toured the Coal Mine and went on a tour beneath the sea in a coal tunnel.  It was dark, wet, and cramped.  I never want to go see that again.  I have such admiration for the men who made their living this way.  What a horrible job they had, with poor working conditions and low wages.

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We drove out to The Fortress of Louisbourg and wandered the grounds and the buildings.  It was free admission because of Canada’s 150th Birthday.  The Fort was founded by the French in 1713 and partial reconstruction began in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  The project employed coal miners and they used some of the original stonework.  I love walking back in time and imagining how the people lived, worked and survived the elements 300 years ago.  They were tough, hardworking, resilient people.

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Firing the cannon at Fort Louisbourg.

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Making nails and other tools at Fort Louisbourg.

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a Seagull looking for treasures at Fort Louisbourg.

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Garden at Fort Louisbourg – where you can pick carrots, beans, and beets and eat them if you wish.