St. John and Shippagan, 2005

My sister came to visit from Vancouver, and we took some time in the middle of her trip to the east coast to drive up to New Brunswick to visit our relatives from Dad's side of the family.

Friday June 10/05

Woke up at around 8am, and had a fairly quick breakfast then a fairly leisurely packing of the car. We hit the road at around 9:45 and went over to BU first so that Cris could grab a transcript to include with his TN visa application (the last one was running out, we planned to stop at the border on the way back to renew it). We were on the road out of Boston at 10:15 and tracked down the mysterious building with a 20 storey hole in it that Sue was swearing she saw on her walks around downtown Boston - it was the airport control tower. Up 93 to 95 and straight on till Maine.

We stopped in Portland for gas, and tried to find the Zygote Cafe and bookstore, but a wrong turn led us to park in front of the Acoustic Coffee Shop to check directions, and we decided to just go in and eat. Only original music was allowed to be played there, according to the signs up everywhere. There were low wooden beams, and three different types of tables. An old TV was a table in front of a couch, holding up a chess set. The clerk was really friendly, and made our wraps from scratch as we waited. A line formed behind us and then disappeared as we sat down to eat, probably only people in for drinks. It was a nice break in the trip, and involved very little walking outside in the hot muggy day.

Back on the road north, we went with only one stop to stretch our legs at a rest stop. Once we turned off 95 at Bangor, highway 9 wound us through some rural and demi-urban countryside with lots of surreal adornments in the yards: a rowboat tied up in the middle of a lawn, no trailer in sight, a pair of houses on either side of the road with the first sporting two stone kids on a stone bench, and the second having the same two stone kids but on an overturned wash baisin, an old bicycle painted white with flowers planted in it's basket, sitting on it's kickstand in the middle of a flower garden, a sonar bubble from a plane, a blow up Frosty the Snowman lurking in the woods.

About half way to the border, the highway got smoother and a bit faster, with just trees on either side, and we made much better time, even if it was less entertaining. Small mountains rose up around us, and heavy forest was interspersed with fields dotted with boulders and man made forest stands. Despite getting antsy with no feed back about how far we were from the border, we eventually found the border crossing at Calais with no problems, and only three or four cars were ahead of us. The guard glanced at our passports and questioned Sue a bit more about what she was bringing back into the country and then waved us through. I called Rita to let her know that we were on the way, and we hopped on highway 1 for the straight shot to St. John.

They were off of the first exit after the toll bridge (25c), and we found the house with only one wrong turn. We had roast chicken and all the fixin's for dinner, then went for a short walk to take some air. The temperature had dropped as soon as we crossed the border, from 28C to 13C, and it was windy and misty as we walked half around the block. I may need to buy a rain jacket to cut the wind, as I only brought a light sweater, not realising that going from 30+C to low teens was going to be so chilly.

We talked and watched tv for a while, then I called Dad to say we'd arrived safe and to wish him a happy birthday, then headed to bed at around 11pm.

Sat Jun 11/05

The room was dark enough that I didn't really wake up until 10am. Cereal for breakfast, then showers, Cris fixed Rita's CD drive, and then we headed out to the pharmacy and to see the reversing falls.

I picked up reactin, and restocked my hair dye cache with clairol deepest indigo, cherry, and plum. I grabbed a warming mask, and a travel deoderant, because I forgot mine. Rita drove us to the falls view lookout, where we were highly entertained by the small black water birds who were riding the river backwards for a while, then flying back up near the rock and doing it again. We had 40 mins before the falls would reverse (the rapids, actually), so we got a tour of west St. John and where they used to live when we visited them years ago. Saw the restaurant our parents ate at, and went back to the view point to view the reverse, but a couple of boats' wakes messed up the view. We drove through the parking lot of the Carlton Martello tower with Rita before heading home, but they were charging admission and it was a bit of a walk up the stairs, so we didn't go in - I was hobbling about with a cane due to foot problems.

Back home for lunch, toasted sandwiches, then Cris drove Sue and I out to City Market. Delis and craft booths abounded. We ate pretty big cups of good ice cream (peanut butter fudge crunch for me, and death by chocolate for them) then I grabbed a bag of the Acadia mix tea I'd spotted earlier, and we went back to the car (parked in front of Wizards tattoo - we saw a few spooky kids downtown). We looked in on a few closed shops, stopped by the three sisters navigation beacon (three red / white lights on a post), and were back at 5. We stopped in at the liquor store for some wine, and pulled in at home just after Rita arrived with Sister Therese.

Emery went out to church, and came back with Rose and Francois. We all had a good talk, catching up, and ate dinner together (salmon with lots of fixin's). Everyone tried a bit of wine, and it wasn't even me who knocked over the two glasses of water. We managed to finish the bottle among the 8 of us, but barely. :) The apple crisp for dessert was good.

The neighbour's dog, Shadow, a black poodle, came in to get a milk bone and then carried it off back to his yard to consume. Went out on the back deck for a bit. My camera battery was charged by then so I took some shots to send out to Dad, and Gerard.

Watched a bit of baseball (poor Jays), and left for a walk as the golf came back on. Rita and Sue and I went a bit further this time, the night was nice and cool, a nice break from the roasting day. In bed around midnight.

Sunday Jun 12/05

Woke up at around 8am, and had breakfast before Sue was done her shower, just cereal again this morning. Showered downstairs in the stall with the nice high water pressure, and back up again to pack up. Rose arrived at just before 9, and we were on the road by 9:15 or so. No problems getting out of St. John, and the road to Moncton was nice and fast and wide. We turned there to take a slightly smaller road north toward Tribodec (?) for gas and to stretch our legs. Stopped at the Douglastown mall in Miramachi for lunch at Tim Hortons. The serving girl was a bit tentative, but I eventually got my sandwich/tea biscuit/tea as a combo, swapping out the coffee and donut. The tea biscuit was very raspberry-y. The clientele was mostly french, and the drizzle in St. John had mostly stopped by now. We got some fog on the way north, and one drenching rain storm. As we drove north on 11, we came close to the tip of land that was second closest to PEI, though the Confederation bridge was a bit further south east than we got. We passed many towns with nigh unpronouceable names, a national park, and a village based on a best selling book series (de la Sangouine?). Rose read to us from the guide book, and we learned that Shippagan means passage of the ducks.

We made the turn off onto the local road up to Shippagan, taking a bit of a short cut, and made it through to the house by about 3pm. We sat and caught up, I took a half block walk, and Sue and Rose walked down to the beach. Supper was at 5:30 - roast chicken and three lobsters that Jules went out to get. Ann was here with her friends dog (a well trained poodle/terrier mix named Rookie) who provided lots of entertainment - he could sing, shake hands, dance, and mostly obeyed commands to lay down and sit (in French only, of course). Conversation flowed between French and English interchangeably. After dinner, I drafted Cris to drive Sue and me down to the sand, passing the marsh teeming with birds, and we walked down the beach where the tide was out and the sand was firm. The wind was really high down there, and I barely needed the hat Lillian had lent me to keep the mosquitos out of my hair. I stopped a bit early, and settled myself in the lee of a dune while Sue and Cris went along around the corner trying to find the old warf. I watched my footprints fill in with blown sand, and a gull flew by almost going sideways. A flock of ducks landed just a ways out and bobbed for food. Lots of pretty rocks and shells, Sue skipped a few stones out in the lull between waves. It was getting extremely windy on the walk back to the car, I almost lost the hat twice and ended up carrying it. The area around the car smelled strongly of rotting fish, but it was very fresh along the sand.

Back to the house, watched TV, talked, napped, read until 11. Lillian made the quilt on her bed from a bolt of fabric, with three pieces (sides were a length cut in half), but it was very unwieldly and heavy. The two quilts on our bed had triangles edging it.

Monday Jun 13/05

Woke up at around 9, made boiled eggs on toast (with home made raspberry jam), showered. Going to head out after lunch. It's raining a bit now, and I've no rain jacket, so unless I borrow Sue's umbrella, I'm not going out until we leave.

Rose suggested that we go out and visit the Marine Centre, and the rain held off while we drove to downtown Shippagan and to the Centre. It was tucked on the waterfront behind the church, next to a restaurant that was apparently affiliated with it. There was a school group running around in the fisheries display, but they must have done the aquarium part already since we had it to ourselves. Lots of differently coloured lobsters: orange, blue, white. There was a large black-red one in another tank, but the 23 pound one that was the eldest had died and been mounted in a glass case by the entrance. We missed the feeding of the harbour seals at noon, they didn't make an announcement, but the seals were playful rather than lethargic when we made it out at quarter after, and we saw them posing and tumbling over each other in their swimming pool. The 1 year old pup was very cute, and his 31 year old mom was very huge.

We ended up going right back to the house afterward, and had lunch - a very good seafood stew, with a home made meat pie for Sue to munch on. Saying goodbye was sad, it was hard to leave them after seeing them for less than 24 hours.

Cris drove us most of the way, Sue did the last 1.5 hours from Moncton, where we stopped for gas. We ended up not stopping for food, just driving right into St. John and going to Vivaldi's for supper. The drive had a bit more traffic, Monday apparently sees the transport truckers restarting their routes. It was drizzly and grey until we hit St. John, when the sun decided to peek out a bit. The restaurant only held one couple dining beside us, but there was only one waitress. The rosemary bread with oil and vinegar for dipping was amazing, but I wasn't too happy to find ham in my seafood alfredo, though it was good otherwise. The tiramisu was lighter than normal, with two layers of lady fingers, and it was a double sized portion that almost killed me after the huge pasta dish. From there, we just went straight back to Rita's house, and Rose talked to Sister Therese for a bit before saying goodbye and heading home. We watched some TV (CSI), and went to read when VIP came on - which prompted Emery to change it to the news. :) Asleep by 11:30 or so.

Tuesday June 14/05

I didn't manage to close the window totally, so traffic was waking me up on and off as morning hit, but not enough to get up and close it. Got up for real at 9am, had cereal and tea for breakfast, and then showered. Headache pounding in my temples, I read on the form, as I was checking my papers to head back to the US, that I should have surrendered my H1B departure record when I left the USA - same confusion as with the TN, I think. Hopefully, they'll just stamp me and give me a new I94 and explain if it's a multiple entry record or not. Hope to leave by 11.

We did get on the road at 11, and onto highway 1 no problems. We pulled right into the border point at Calais an hour or so later. They waved us over and took all our passports in when Cris said he had to get a new TN. Sue had to run out to get her itinerary to prove that she was going to go back to Vancouver (though they took her word that she'd go back from Seattle w/o a pre-bought bus ticket from the airport there). Cris almost got tagged for a wrongly addressed letter, but they just stapled my H1B form into my passport for me and I was done, and forced myself to sit quietly under the portrait of GWB w/o snickering at it. As they were finishing up with Cris' visa, two teenaged boys came walking in, presented ID, and said that they just wanted to ride in the park. The border guard gave them a suspicious look, then waved them through. We saw them popping wheelies along a side street as we drove off.

We stopped for coffee/tea at an Irving and veered off on route 1 down the coast instead of 9 toward Bangor. We stopped for lunch at the 45th parallel rest stop, eating the leftovers from Vivaldi's. I ended up eating in the car since it was really chilly and I was still without a jacket. It looked like the sort of place where a bear would amble out of the woods to join us at the picnic tables. We continued along the coastal route until Cherrywood, and then jogged north along a small road toward 9. We passed huge blueberry fields, and a blueberry amusement park. Once we got up onto 9, we started passing the surreal yard ornaments again - I saw the sonar bubble from a plane again, and spotted a metal cow with it's head in a hangman's noose that hung from a tree.

We stopped for NB blueberry jam and a muffin along 1, mostly to lose the RCMP car behind us - it had been in front, then pulled off to let us pass.

We got back on 95 at Bangor, and Sue drove us for a while - right through the horrid rain storm. My yellow lensed sun glasses actually helped to cut the mist so she could see a bit better, and Cris napped in the back. She got us into Portsmouth and we ate at the brewery, in a quieter side room near the orange walled courtyard. The food was decent, and they let me switch out the berry cobbler when I found it was all nuts in the crunchy topping. The raspberry cheesecake didn't quite agree with me though. Cris drove us home from there, down 95 to 2, and across Lake St. from Arlington, to pull up at 9pm.

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