Sunday, July 31, 2005

Scotland, Jr.

And a hearty Cape Breton greeting to all. Blogging tonight from Sydney, Nova Scotia, having covered ... well, a significant distance since my last post.

On Wednesday, we drove from Montreal to Fredericton -- 8 1/2 hours that constituted about four hours of the most beautiful scenery I've ever seen and 4 1/2 hours of soul-crushingly boring highway. Not in that order, mind -- from Montreal to the New Brunswick border I was getting ready to claw out my own eyes simply for a break in the monotony, but once past Edmunston (in NB just inside the border) we were treated to brand-new four lane highway (which after the Quebec highway philosophy -- which I think is make the cars bump and shake over bad asphalt so the drivers stay awake -- was glorious in and of itself) with no one on it and some spectacular landscapes to refresh the soul and remind one that this is in fact a pretty cool country.

But as an aside: there is more road work happening between here and Kingston than I thought was actually feasible. Whoever has the pylon concession in Eastern Canada is growing very, very wealthy.

And then from Fredericton on to Halifax (mere 4 1/2 hours -- which would have been 4 if it weren't for the fact that Kristen and I seem chronically incapable of following directions, but more on that at a later time), where we stayed on Thursday night with my friends Doug and Julie-Ann, erstwhile Western students. For those who don't know them, Julie-Ann did her MA several years ago at UWO and then worked sessionally as a writing instructor, but last November was hired to essentiall run St. Mary's University's writing program (yay!). Doug followed her out in May and is himself working on completing his doctoral thesis (should I put that last bit in quotes? kidding).

Anyway, it was my first time in Halifax, which is a very cool city. I'm reaching the conclusion that any city on the water has a radical advantage over landlocked ones ... it does something to you to be able to look out and see the ocean or, failing that, a large lake. Plus, the Celtic strain so strong here out east appeals to something very primal in me. I've heard more bagpipes in the last two days than in my entire life up till now, I think. And believe it or not -- to quote Martha -- it's a good thing! Gotta love a country that contains Ireland Jr. (Newfoundland) and Scotland Jr. (Nova Scotia, but especially Cape Breton).

Plus, the seafood ... oh, the seafood. I've thus far had salmon, crab cakes, clam chowder, seafood chowder ... I will soon grow gills. Mmmm .... gills.

We spent yesterday wandering Halifax and being tourists (the Citadel, the Maritime Museum, etc etc) and today drove to Sydney. From the Canso Causeway -- which takes you into Cape Breton -- to just outside Sydney is one of the most spectacular drives you're likely to experience short of braving the single-lane tracks in the Scottish Highlands. We followed the road up along the lake (inland sea, really) of Bras D'Or (pronounced "braddor"). I will post pictures when I'm at a computer I can download them to ... words won't do it justice.

And now we're in Sydney, staying with Kristen's friend Vicky, who has been kind enough to let me use her computer. Actually, now might be a good time to thank all those whose hospitality we've imposed on -- Mike and Amanda in Montreal, Doug and Julie-Ann in Halifax, Vicky here in Sydney, as well as Lisa and Peter for that lovely lunch in Kingston. It has been a fabulous trip, not least because we've seen so many wonderful friends en route. Cheers.

So we come down to it -- the day after tomorrow, the ferry to Argentia, Newfoundland. Tomorrow we're going to do some of the Cabot Trail, and then get to bed very early so as to be at the ferry docks at 5am. Ack. I probably won't be blogging again till my internet in St. John's is up and running, so I hope this suffices for a few days. Slainte.

PS -- a quick shout-out to Sylvia, my most prolific commentator on this blog. How's SAO going there, girl?


Departed Montreal: 8:10 am
Finally Found Correct Highway Out of Town: 8:50 am
Song on the iPod: "A Man and a Woman" by U2
Arrived Frederiction: 5:30 pm [local time 6:30]
Distance: 867km

Things Sighted: Crazy left-hand-turn-signal-lady. She entertained us for about two hours between Montreal and Quebec City -- she would flick on the signal to pull out into the left lane, but then leave it on for 5-10 minutes. Shortly after she noticed and turned it off, she inevitably pulled back into the right lane, only to repeat the performance a few minutes later. What was truly alarming about this entire thing however was that other people started doing this too -- most worrying perhaps, a few eighteen-wheelers.


Departed Fredericton: 8:15 am
Song on the iPod: "Smile Like You Mean It" by The Killers
Arrived Halifax: 12:15 pm
Found Doug & Julie-Ann's Place After Circumnavigating the City: 12:45pm
Distance: 446km

Cool Fact: The ferry between Halifax and Dartmouth is technically part of their public transit system and costs $2 (less that the TTC and London Transit); you can therefore use a transfer obtained on a city bus to cross the bay.


Departed Halifax: 11:00 am
Really Departed Halifax After Getting on the Wrong Highway: 11:20 am
Listening Material: Stuart McLean and the Vinyl Cafe; Alistair MacLeod, Island (short story: "The Boat")
Arrived Sydney: 4:50 pm
Distance: 390 km

New Goal to Add to the List: To one day own a cottage on the banks of Bras D'Or Lake.


syl said...

Shout outs to me? I love it! haha.
SAO is going just peachy :) Not that same without ya though!!

Kimie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ben said...

Im just posting because i hit the "next Blog" button, and your from Scotland, and thats super cool, cus thats like a different country... dude you rock

Pseudo-intellectual lunatic said...

nice blog