CAPE BRETONN AND HALIFAX, (Part Two) Actually Doing Stuff.

We drove a bit of the Cabot highway heading North to Sydney for the ferry last week, so on our way South we went through Louisebourg. This was a historic French fort and city which protected the entrance to the St. Laurence Seaway and thus the main Fort at Quebec City. There was also the governor’s residence for the New World in Quebec City that needed protecting. Louisebourg was a very impressive fort, but even more impressive was that it fell inn battle to the English. TWICE. After the first time, the English moved in themselves, but a couple years later the French and English signed a treaty which gave this fort back to the French as well as guaranteeing everlasting peace. Just a few short years later they were at war again, and the Brits launched another massive armada of ground troops and ships from Halifax. This time when the took the un-takeable fort, (again) the English blast every last stone building and wall to the ground. They wanted to ensure that the French would never control this strategic point again.

We enjoyed wandering around the fort and city. It is difficult to understand how the English could have taken the place with the extensive fortifications and armament. The land was swampy, crappy and muskegy; simply the worst possible stuff for battle. We were visiting there on June first, which was their first day of opening. This historic site also did things up real well with all kinds of staff in all types of period costumes and “living” the parts of characters from a few hundred years ago. When visitors talk to them, the period staff reply and act completely in character. In some places where there were no other visitors I would have an extended conversation and ask how long they’d been working there. Only one guy we encountered was five years (or “seasons” really). All of the rest were at least ten to twenty years, with several upwards of thirty and one at thirty-eight years! This is their life long careers for the most part. Some work other odd jobs for the remaining eight months of the year, but most just seem to go on pogie.

The remainder of our drive to Dartmouth was pretty uneventful. We had stopped at New Glasgow on both the way up and the way back for lunch. It was only after we got back to Halifax that I tracked down a number for a friend I had surveyed with at Diavik. When we finally got to chat on the phone it turned out he didn’t live just outside of Halifax as I had thought. Instead he lived in New Glasgow! That was quite the bummer, since we didn’t have the time available to go back there for a visit. Another great guy I worked with at Daivik who was in Dartmouth was difficult to meet up with due to his travel schedule and ours taking off to the Rock. He was in between shifts in Saskatchewan somewhere and going off to Montreal to buy a three year old Mercedes SUV. I can’t remember the price he was paying, but it wasn’t much more than the $25,000 we payed for the year old Ford Freestyle AWD. For an early twenties guy there’s probably no quicker way than that to get a girl who wants a ring and to settle down. I guess only time will tell on that one.

During our last few days in Halifax we managed to get around quite a bit. Id’ always wanted to go to the Maritime Museum of Atlantic Canada just to go through their famous displays on the Titanic and the Halifax Explosion. When we came around the last turn before the exit there was a HUGE bonus display as well. A large part of the cityscape set from Theodore Tugboat along with all of the boat characters were set up on display! This was also a long time wish of mine to see. I’d given up on the possibility though several years ago when the show was canceled. The ships we got to tour there were really interesting to crawl around on as well, especially for us land lubbers with no real experience in such matters of sea faring ships. The Acadia was a government survey ship for the duration of it’s almost fifty year working life. The interesting thing about this ship was the sumptuous cabin and office of the lead surveyor, who was officially inn charge of the ship. The captain could overrule him anytime he felt the surveyors directions would endanger the ship or crew, but for the most part the surveyor ran the show. The assistant surveyors cabins were also pretty nice by ship standards,a nd they had their own nicely appointed common room, where they made day plans and drafted as well as where their meals were served by waiters. This ship had completed extensive bathymetric surveying (measuring the sea floor) all up and down the East coast of Canada as well as large portions of the Arctic. This included not just the shipping lanes, but bays, inlets and off of all coastline just for any future reference.

Just a couple days before our Nova Scotian departure, we took an day trip up to Lunenberg. On the way there we passed though Mahone Bay which would seem to me to be the most picturesque little community we’d seen. Set in an incredibly beautiful and very well protected bay are large and colorful Victorian style houses and a quaintness that Westerners dream of. Lunneberg itself was enormously tourist-centric with correspondingly high prices. Still we had a great meal and then wandered down to the Fisheries Museum there. The displays and demonstrations were excellent, and it was obvious that they were used to many, many more tourists at this time of year. The high Canadian dollar is obviously discouraging a considerable amount of their American travelers. Still though, we enjoyed ourselves. They had a retired “long line” fishing ship and it was open for visitors to climb around on and try to envision what life was like for these guys.

Before leaving town I was hoping to get back to another used clothing store to get some more stuff, but never really got the opportunity. Nor did I get the chance to go and visit Ralph’s; a friendly looking little neighborhood bar a block from Marc & Wendy’s house. In the meantime Marc had finished the new Settlers board holders while we were away and I packed one up inn protective cardboard to take back to Wendy’s brother, Tim, in Fort Smith. We were all loaded up with a new SIM card for the cell phone and electronics to fill every last bit of space in our bags. While in the Rogers store I had also grabbed a portable high speed 3G data modem. This allowed us to hook up the computer to internet whenever we were in range of a Rogers 3G cell tower. Good for traveling where local phone companies offer WIFI in a sparse fashion and for way too much money. This rogers modem only costs $50/month for unlimited high speed bandwidth, a pretty decent deal I figured. The speed is ample, and easily handles big downloads and skype phone calls with ease. The other electronic purchase I had sorta “splurged” on was two more VERY cheap PSP’s at a pawn shop. They were the thick models and therefore easily hackable with the new Pandora’s Battery I had set up via instructions from the Net. Changing the operating system allows for greater consumer control on how to operate the device and what they can do with it. With a bit of further effort I could hack any slim PSP model as well, but so far have just kept it to the programming for the phat models.

The night before we left we went to Riverdance in Halifax thanks to Sylvia Burns (Claudette’s sister’s Mother-In-Law) who was taking a bus tour from New Brunswick to see the show. It was awesome to see and a very fitting end to our departure from the Maritimes. This was also the troupes farewell performing city after a five year (I think?) run throughout North America. It was a spectacular show though, and zooming inn on the face of the flamenco dancer gave us a startling revelation. While all the other dancers were between about eighteen and thirty years old, this VERY talented Latino was early to mid fifties. She had a smile, moves and a body (and especially a passion inn her dancing) that undoubtedly made all t6he younger girls very jealous. She was a pleasure to watch.

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