Wed, Sept 28, 2005
We feel like we went a couple of rounds with a prize fighter last night, what with all the getting tossed out of our bunks.
We have to have our baggage packed and out in the hallway before breakfast, and packing last night was out of the question (hell, we could barely stand up). So, that means this morning we are staggering around randomly shoving things into bags, hoping that what we're packing belongs to us, and not to the ship ("Okay, I don't think we brought a life jacket with us").
We're pretty much done packing. Fortunately, we can afford to be a bit sloppy about it because we spend tonight in a motel room. We fantasize about:
Louisburg, Nova Scotia
Whew—we've certainly been in a lot of Canadian provinces, eh? We're docked this morning in Louisburg, Nova Scotia (New Scotland).
We know that we've reached civlization because we actually have a signal on our cell phones! This is the first time since Ottowa (lo, those many days ago) that our cell phones have been useful.
We are tied up at the dock in a harbor, so everything is nice and smooth, with just a gentle rocking motion. We sit in the bar for our last set of instructions.
The Captain says goodbye to us, but because they've already packed up the microphone (and he mumbles everything with a heevy Svedish accint) it's not clear what he said. In any event, after last night, we're not clapping too loudly (although we suppose we should be grateful he didn't break the boat while steering it through 10-meter(!) waves).
Apparently, re-enactments are all the rage in Canada (or perhaps we stumbled into the Re-enactment Tour) because Louisburg is yet another place filled with re-enactors. That means there must be a Voc-Tech someplace that teaches this stuff: Looking grimy 101; How to wear goofy clothes with a straight face 212.
This time, they all pretend it's 1744, when the French controlled the fort at Louisburg (fortunately, all the French here at the fort speak Canadian-accented English). Here's a short history of Louisburg:
Today, they have about 20% of the place excavated, restored, and stocked with re-enactors. It's an interesting idea, but it would be more interesting if they'd picked someplace a little more historically significant (the fort was only active for 40 years).
One thing we do like: the way the British kept taking over the fort. The French pointed all their guns at the harbor, figuring they'd keep out invading fleets. They didn't think that somebody would land someplace else and then sneak up behind them ("That is a swampish area! They will get their shoes dirty!").
So, that's what the British did, capturing two of the harbor guns and shooting at the French fort with their own guns. Serves them right for messing up pizza, mumbles Robert.
Our ship sails out of the harbor without us! Oh, wait, it's supposed to. The ship (M/S Explorer) is on its way to Halifax to be refurbished (we hope they'll upgrade the coffee). Still, it's weird to see your home sail away without you on it.
We are in a cod fisherman's hut, where we learn (once again) about cod fishing and salting. One new thing we learn is that cod heads are the only part of the cod that doesn't have worms, and so are extra tasty and sanitary. Since it couldn't be salted, it was eaten by the locals, who thought it was pretty delicious. (Cooking tip: boil the head until the eyes pop out, then it's ready. Eeww.)
Robert and the rest of the 13-year olds giggle when they talk about a woman who "married her turd husband."
Here's something you don't hear about much these days: Spruce Beer. Yet, apparently, it was hugely popular in the olden days.
We think there's probably a reason you don't hear about it...
We're in the Military Bakery. Every four days, each soldier would receive one six pound loaf of bread (which looks like it could be used as a cannon ball if necessary). Because most of the dwellings were made of wood, bread could be baked only in specially constructed stone bakeries.
First, they would burn a bunch of wood in the oven until the stones got really hot (like white hot). Then they'd scrape out the ashes and mop down the floor of the oven (so you wouldn't get wood flavored bread). Coat the bottom of the bread with corn meal, slide the loaves in and then bake them right on the oven floor.
Personally, we prefer the modern method (walk across the street to Hancock's Bakery and buy a loaf).
We are sitting with the rest of the ship folks having a traditional 1744 lunch. Although they knew about potatoes, nobody much ate them, preferring the yuckier turnips, instead.
We finally take the opportunity to eat cod on this trip (and thereby contribute to the further decline of the fishery). It tastes pretty good, nice and full-flavored.
One weird thing about Canadian money: In the US, you never really think about your change--if you have a pocket full, you might have two or three dollars worth, because it's quarters and dimes and such.
In Canada, if you have a pocket full of change, you could have $30 or $40 worth, on account of them $1 and $2 coins! Robert looks in his change pouch and realizes there's $12 there.
Putting your change in a piggy bank pays off a lot better here!
Although we can stay until 3:30 pm, wandering around the re-enactment, our little heads are just chock full of information and we no longer care that the engineer's house went five times over budget and had a household staff of four. (We'll probably be spouting random facts about Canadian history for the next couple of weeks...)
So, we opt to catch the 2:00 pm bus out of here.
Since re-enactments are all the rage here, we think about starting our own re-enactment back in Seattle. The problem is that (according to Laura, who grew up there, and therefore got all the local history), all the Denny Party did was sit around and complain about the rain.
So, our re-enactment would go something like:
Might be hard to generate a lot of repeat traffic.
Apparently, we carefully packed our bags, labeled them and got them ready before breakfast so they could sit out on the pier all day. They seem none the worse for wear, and have acquired a pleasant veneer of saltwater crystals.
Because of our minor trip mix-up (which would have required us to be 500 miles west of here at this time), we had to arrange to stay at the hotel where the tour staff is staying. Which is a different hotel than the passengers are staying at ("Cambridge Inn").
We're now at the Cambridge Inn, and we ask for a taxi.
We ask again for a taxi. Since there's also two other people from our boat waiting for taxis, we ask for three taxis.
One taxi finally shows up, but because it's a mini-van, he tosses all three sets of luggage into his van. Of course, moments after he does this, two more taxis appear, but he zooms away before they can take his fares.
The tour leader (Dennis) told us we were going to be staying at the "Comfort Inn." What he meant to say was we're staying at the "Quality Inn," a perfectly understandable confusion if you've spent too much time being banged about on a boat.
Unfortunately, we discover this after all our luggage is unloaded. Fortunately, we arrange for the same taxi guy to come back for us when he's delivered the other passengers to their hotels, so we don't have to wait too long for a cab.
We officially love the Quality Inn and want to have their corporate children. A big shower. A toilet that you only have to flush once. Wireless Internet that not only works the first time, but doesn't require any fees. A coffee pot in our room! We feel as though we've reached the promised land.
During dinner at the bar, we spot Sara (staff person) from the boat and chat with her. The others had gone out for goodbye drinks, but she needed to pick up her rental car. Of course, Dennis sent her to the wrong place, too (they're about five blocks apart on the same road, so it's not such a huge mistake that we would mention Dennis' last name).
We've been chatting with the Young People on board, and quite a number of them seem to just travel around as a profession. They get a job to make a few bucks, and then take off for several months (or years) going to different countries.
Sara and her boyfriend (also staff on this trip) will drive around Nova Scotia for a few days, then head down to Peru and explore South America before they hook up with the boat for the Antactic tour.
Most of them don't own anything, and work only enough to pay for their travelling. When we contemplate our pile of luggage, we begin to see the attraction...
Tomorrow will be our last trip log, and it will be a dull damn day of sitting in three different airplanes across four time zones as we wend our way home. Fortunately, for two of those airplanes, we'll be in Business Class (essentially First Class) so we'll have Flight Attendants to sooth our fevered brows.
Robert & Laura