Wednesday, August 16, 2017
45 Days in Canada
Believe it or not, we've been in Canada for the past 45 days! That's crazy. It's funny to think back to the 1st of July and how nervous we were about the international adventure before us. We didn't know where we were going, what we were going to be doing, or if we'd be able to speak any French. We didn't know anything about taking our RV on huge ferries across the massive Atlantic ocean, about calculating miles to kilometers, or just how disappointing poutine would be. The biggest thing we didn't know, however, was how unbelievably nice Canadians are, and how they would welcome us with open arms, go out of their way to speak English to us when they would prefer to speak French, and help us all along the way to have a wonderful 6 weeks abroad with our kids.
Our last stop in Canada was one of our best, camping on the coast at Dunromin Campground near Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. This place, steeped in history, offered up a huge variety of things to do, great places to eat, and some of the best star gazing these American city folks have ever seen.
Upon arriving in Annapolis Royal, we were starving and out of supplies. Thankfully we found Shore Road Seafood, which was a restaurant and a general store. Score.
The place was packed and they had no room for us in the main dining area... so they asked us if we'd like to eat in their kitchen in the back. Ummmmm... we shore would!
Our kids, having been in the car all day, were stir crazy and hungry. As their Nintendo 3DS games ran out of batteries, it was all we could do to keep them in their chairs. After some sort of disciplinary statement, Andrew indicated to Mark that he didn't know what was expected of him. Mark, taking a marker from Andrew's pile, drew an "ideal" mealtime setting, showing April in a Cubs hat, Max talking about Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Mark and Andrew sitting quietly. We all examined it, complimented Mark on his ideals, and then, thank goodness, some onion rings arrived to pop the bubble of unattainable goals.
Back at camp, Andrew spied a muddy field and spent a few hours with his toy soldiers in the "battlefield" drainage ditch. April walked the campground and noted some interesting signage, while Mark and Max elected to play with Max's cowboy action figures on a picnic table at our campsite. The idyllic afternoon came to an end when one of Andrew's soldiers lost one of his plastic guns in the goopy muck. Tears, and wiping of tears with mucky hands, commenced.
After hosing down a muddy Andrew, we took to the streets of Annapolis Royal for an afternoon walk. The kids enjoyed the Sinclair Inn Museum and its basement full of "ghosts" (which pop up at the push of a button). They also loved the woodworker outside, who showed them how to make wooden handles for a variety of tools.
Our best stop was most unexpected, as we passed by a small art gallery and spied wall after wall of cool paintings depicting Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. Tripp from Tripp's Gallery, along with his adorable wife, welcomed us and our kids, giving them some handmade leather bracelets they had made earlier that day. Not big "souvenir" people in general, we loved the idea that these paintings were not only cool, but would remind us of our crazy Canadian adventures. The awesome exchange rate and free shipping didn't hurt either. We bought one of Tripp's paintings of the Jellybean Houses in St. John's, Newfoundland and two of Holly Everette's paintings of Nova Scotia. So fun. So cute.
Bidding our fabulous art farewell, we headed back to the campground, stopping briefly at the Annapolis Tidal Generation Station. Here, the fine people of Annapolis Royal put the crazy huge tides from the Bay of Fundy (one of the 7 Wonders of North America) to work for them. The only tidal power plant in North America, and one of the few in the world, this place is kicking out enough power to fuel 4500 homes.
The next day, we made our children very happy when we announced that we were going to Upper Clements Amusement Park. An old school family fun park with a wooden roller coaster that will whip your head around to the point of concern, we had a blast riding the rides, dominating laser tag, and counting how many times Andrew could climb the steps to the massive water slide before his legs gave out (10 times, by the way).
Or last day in Annapolis Royal was all about history, and we began with a visit to the Port Royal National Historic Site. A reconstruction of Samuel de Champlain's 1605 attempt at North American settlement, our kids loved exploring all that this fort had to offer.
Following Port Royal, we drove over to Fort Anne for even more Canadian history.
Mark took a moment to take it all in as he looked out over the rolling hills and gorgeous water, Canadian 150 flag stuck in his back pocket... how far we've come, the 7000 miles he's driven, the history right beneath his feet, the incredibly opportunity to spend 90 days with our kids on the road. As he let his mind wander to how truly blessed we are to have had this opportunity, April noticed movement in the background.
So one of our kid got away from us... relax... we're pretty sure he meant to fall/roll down that hill. Whoopsies.
We finished our time at Fort Anne with the 9:30pm Candlelight Graveyard Tour. Super pumped that they got to carry their own real lanterns with real candles, we sprayed ourselves down with bug spray and bundled up against the cool ocean breeze.
The tour was amazing. The guide, having done this for years as his hobby, was hilarious and so knowledgeable. He brought history to life as we navigated the gravestones under the night sky. The kids loved it for the first hour, but couldn't keep their eyes open once 10:30pm came around. They nodded off on the grass or our shoulders until 11pm, when the tour ended and they begged for hot chocolate and bedtime.
On Monday morning, we drove aboard our last ferry of this trip, from Digby, Nova Scotia to Saint John, New Brunswick. The calm, relaxing, two hour journey was complete with nature presentations from the local museum and a movie theater showing the latest Smurfs movie. This ferry served pizza, to boot. Kids happy, parents happy, we drove off the ship exactly two hours later, and headed toward the border. America! We're coming home!
Our super cool Homeland Security officer went easy on us, and we were back in America before we knew it. We could have kissed the ground... had we not been so eager to get to Bar Harbor. Maine, here we come!
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