Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic is one of the favourite stops for people on Arch's bus tour. And, believe it or not, we have never been there - the shoemakers children and all that, I guess. So one rainy afternoon a couple of weeks ago we decided to see what it was all about.

What an amazing place. Full of so many stories about Halifax and how our city has been impacted by its location on the North Atlantic Ocean. It would take many blog posts to tell you all of them so I will do three - one about the museum in general, one about the Halifax Explosion and one about Halifax's participation in the war of 1812.

So for this post let me give you a brief over view of the museum. It is located in the centre of the 2 to 3 km long boardwalk that runs along Halifax's waterfront:

When you enter you are greeted by Merlin, the talking parrot;
Merlin is so famous he even has his own camera on Nova Scotia Webcams

Theodore Tugboat is a Canadian children's television series about a tugboat named Theodore who lives in the Big Harbour with all of his friends. The show, which is no longer made, originated (and was set) in Halifax. It was filmed on a model set using radio controlled tugboats, ships, and machinery. At one time it was shown in 80 countries around the world. If you had small children during its hay day you may remember Big Harbour "the friendliest harbour in the world". It is now on display at the museum.

Most of the Museum focuses on the many wars that impacted Halifax and the people of Nova Scotia. Halifax Harbour is the second largest ice free harbour in the world (Sydney Australia's being the largest) and as such was a valuable resource to various navies in many armed conflicts.

The British founded Halifax in 1749 to counter the French fortified naval base at Louisburg and for 200 years Halifax's history has been shaped by the fact that we have contended with almost continual warfare. First as the British and the French fought to control North America, then through two world wars and on going conflicts around the world. Including the current conflict in the Middle East.

A small part of the museum is devouted to the sinking of the Titanic;

Of greater interest to most visitors to Halifax is the cemetery where the Titanic victims are buried.

There are many models of ships, a complete area telling about the Age of Sail, a naval ship at the dock that you can tour and much, much more. If you are interested in naval history plan to spend at least a day, and maybe two, here. It is a lot to take in.

Next blog post will be about the war of 1812 and the role Halifax played in it.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Nova Scotia Summer

It was quite a trip we took this past year. We saw so many interesting things. Met many wonderful people and made lots of new friends. And had a fantastic time.

And we saw so many beautiful places: The Great Smokey Mountains, the amazing beaches on the Gulf of Mexico Coast, the spectacular and endlessly beautiful deserts of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Southern California, the Big Sur Coast, the Oregon Coast, the Rocky Mountains, The spectacular and endless Prairies, the rugged beauty of the Canadian Shield. But the fairest of them all is our home province of Nova Scotia. It seems to have a little bit of everything we saw (except the desert) compacted into a small, user-friendly space.

In this post I am going to give you a general over-view of our Nova Scotia summer and in subsequent ones I will tell you about specific things we did that you may enjoy when you visit.

We entered Nova Scotia on a spectacular summer day and drove through the Cobiquid Pass to Truro to spend a night visiting Arch's family in Truro:
Cobiquid Pass
 before heading south the Atlantic coast:
Peggy's cove in the distance
And The Wayside RV Park:
That is us, second from your left
The view from our window: sunset from the Wayside
The Wayside was (and still is) our home base off and on all summer. This bay is across Peggy's Cove Rd from the campground and we were able to enjoy this view for most of the summer.

When we were not here we spent one month at Graves Island Provincial Park - two weeks as paying guests and two weeks as campground hosts - a job we really enjoyed. We recommended this campground to many people and all of who came loved it. It is hard to get into on weekends and there are limited hook-up sites that book up fast. Nova Scotia Provincial Parks open booking for their campgrounds April 1st of each year. If you are coming to NS and want to stay here I suggest you book as early as possible. We booked our two week site for mid July in early May.

The park is a small island near Chester, NS and you cross a causeway to get to it:

All the hook-up sites and most of the other sites have views of the ocean:

The boats participating in Chester race week. This is a very distant shot.
I asked permission to go on someone else's camp site to take this photo.
The park has a boat launch (great for canoes and kayaks), a small pebble beach (bring beach shoes) and a walking/cycling trail circles the Island. It is also close to the Halifax to Lunenburg trail as well. Lunenburg, Mahone Bay, the Annapolis Valley and Halifax are all within driving distance.

We also spent 6 weeks house sitting for friends who live in our old neighbourhood. This gave us a great chance to have the Adventure Bus serviced, to clean it out and repack, etc. It also reminded us of why we sold our big house - so much work, so little time! The things we really miss from our days in a sticks and bricks house are our great neighbours and the view. This stay gave us an opportunity to enjoy both.

The view from the deck of the home we house-sat
Unfortunately my computer gave up the ghost a couple of weeks ago and I lost many photos from our stay here so no pictures of the neighbours. We are having dinner with some of them next week and will post them then.

And most important of all has been time with our family:
A small part of the clan.
I am not going to bore you with a lot of family photos but have to show you this one. It says so much about Nova Scotia:
Jonah, Oliver and a lobster. Two boys fishing, Nova Scotia style
These are two of our great nephews. My sister's grandchildren. There is a neighbourhood wharf and beach in front of her home. Jonah and Oliver spend a lot of time scuba diving and looking for treasure there and caught this lobster one day. They brought it up to the house for a photo-op then returned it to its home on the bottom of the ocean. Lobster season does not start in this area until the end of November and anyway, they do not have a licence to harvest lobster.

Any of you who know Arch know he is much for sitting around and he was worried about what he was going to do all summer. And then, through the magic of Facebook we learned that Ambassatours - a Halifax based company who runs tours for visitors - was looking for tour bus drivers. He applied, got  the job, underwent training to upgrade his licence and learn to drive the double decker antique tour buses:
This bus is a training bus. He actually drives a pink bus
You will notice that they are right hand drive - quite a challenge at first.

So he spent the last two months driving cruise ship visitors around Halifax on a pink hop on hop off tour bus. And having a grand time.
Halifax is an old (for North America) city and the downtown streets are narrow and crowded
 and challenging to drive these big buses through.
He often works very long days as the cruise ships arrive at dawn:

And leave at sunset:
Photo from Nova Scotia Web Cameras
Giving the passengers lots of time to tour Halifax attarctions, or go to Peggy's Cove or Lunenburg, or visit the wineries in the Annapolis Valley, etc
Buses waiting for passengers from the ship
Some days there are so many cruise ships in town that the overflow ships are docked at the container port:
These folks are on such a ship and are waiting for the bus to transport them to the main cruise terminal.
Arch in his uniform. Note the Pebble Beach sweater - folks get a kick out of that
This picture is a little blurry but I included it to give all you oldsters a bit of encouragement. The man with Arch in the Scottish kilt, et al is in his late 80s and comes to the port everyday that cruise ships are in town to play the bagpipes to greet the arriving passengers.
So to all you 50 and 60 somethings out there planning your retirement be sure to include the possibility of a job of some type. Hanging out around the house will get old very fast.

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