At Last, Canada
Jun 18, 2012
|Yesterday, about 5:30PM Atlantic Time – one hour later than EDT – we arrived in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada nearly two weeks later than originally planned. As I mentioned last time we are staying with friends Terry and Lucille who we met at a Marriott Time-share near Paris, France in 2006. They have a lovely two-unit house on a quiet street and we are settled in the second floor apartment for the next few days.
Upon our arrival Lucille greeted us with wine and munchies, and we caught up with the latest happenings while we waited for Terry to arrive for dinner from his part-time summer job at a garden center. Terry is retired but he, along with three other retired members of his hockey team, has an annual three-month gig tending plants, flowers, and customers. At 8PM Terry arrived and Lucille’s dinner was served. About 11PM we went upstairs to unpack and get a good night’s sleep. Lynda is still enjoying hers as I compose this missive at the kitchen table.
For the next three weeks we will be exploring the three provinces of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island (PEI), and Nova Scotia. Our precise plans are however somewhat uncertain pending my next macular degeneration eye treatment. My visit with Dr. Byrnes in Alexandria, VA was encouraging regarding my progress but I must have an injection of Avastin in July since “the first three months are critical.” I have an appointment on August 10 back in Alexandria when Dr. Byrnes may put me on a three-month maintenance schedule henceforth. He told me that once the swelling of the blood vessels has subsided the odds of the problem returning are 50-50; thus, continued maintenance is the prudent course.
So far arranging for my next treatment in Newfoundland where we planned to be during the two-week window has proved difficult; therefore, it appears that I must find a doctor in Moncton or Halifax, or return to Portland (a seven-hour drive) prior to catching the ferry to Newfoundland. Scheduling an appointment somewhere is Task One for Monday! Of course, this also means that our time in Newfoundland will be curtailed a few days since July 9 (or later) is when my next shot is due. Insurance will not pay until after one-month and I saw Dr. Byrnes on June 8. Our current ferry reservations are on July 5. It’s all a bit of a pain but my vision is certainly the priority.
After my appointment last Friday (June 8) we joined David at home in Bowie, MD. All is well in his new career as a chef and Lynda noted that she has not seen him this relaxed and happy before; even though he is working long hours and he and Cris are like “two ships passing in the night.” Since Friday was his day off we drove to Capitol Hill in DC for lunch and to get ingredients for dinner that night at the Eastern Market. I had never been there, and enjoyed seeing the fresh meats, fish, cheeses, vegetables, etc. David bought some rabbit and pork for our evening meal; not a common combination. He turned that into rabbit wrapped around a pork stuffing. Since his knives were at the restaurant the presentation left something to be desired but it was quite tasty.
Sunday, June 10 we finally started our trek north to Canada, stopping first in the Currier and Ives village of Washington, CT to see friends Pat and Jim. I first met them in 1995 as a guest at their B&B. David was in boarding school for three years in Washington and their former home (B&B) became my home during frequent visits to see David and for some consulting work near Hartford.
They have been out of the B&B business for several years now but we have maintained an avid friendship. They currently split their time between Connecticut where they live in a small cottage and Naples, FL where they have a permanently parked large Newmar fifth-wheel in a lovely RV resort. The cottage has only one bedroom but their Class C motorhome, a Phoenix Cruiser, serves as a guest house. It worked out just fine for us.
The cottage is still a work in progress with a substantial renovation. Pat’s son Michael, a master carpenter, is doing the work as time permits with his many paying jobs. Even with only a partial kitchen Pat provided breakfast each morning – shades of their B&B days – and two fine dinners using a microwave and a two-burner hot plate.
It was June 2007 when we last visited them in Connecticut. At that time they were living in their large house that they now rent to a family from New York City that uses it on weekends and holidays. This is not at all uncommon for this area of western Connecticut. The primary conversation five years ago was whether Lynda and I should become full-time RVers. This time we were there to see dear friends and some of their family members we had gotten to know; thus, one night Jim’s son Jim Jr. and Pat’s son Graham came for dinner while the next night Michael, wife Debbie, daughter Rachel, and son Mike Jr. joined us. Needless to say our three-night stay in this lovely part of New England was a delight.
On Wednesday morning we departed on the next segment north to Portland, ME, in rather foul weather. It is a lovely small city overlooking Casco Bay. Early in our marriage we seriously considered living in Maine near Portland. However with Lynda’s mother being in poor health in Oklahoma and thoughts about winter there as we aged we chose Chattanooga as a surrogate i.e. a southern Portland. Returning this week I kept thinking that we may have made the wrong choice.
Our stop in Portland was to see long-time friends Larry and Kathy. We knew them from our days at the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA), U.S. Dept. of Justice in the 70s. We first visited them when they lived a few miles north in Yarmouth in an old sea captains house. That was ten or twelve years ago when we were considering a move north. Their present – and final they say – home that is in the final stages of renovation is in a lovely Back Bay neighborhood in the city. It even has an elevator to the second floor, primarily to accommodate Larry who lost part of his leg while a cop for the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Dept. years ago. It was also a boon for carrying suitcases to the guest room I might add.
Thursday, our one full day in Portland, was a glorious weather day. We had breakfast on their upstairs porch overlooking the front yard and the bay a half block away. That morning Lynda and I also walked to the local Social Security Office to check that our Medicare Part B would take effect on July 1. We signed up in Oklahoma City in March having deferred six years earlier. We figured we were adequately covered by Lynda’s Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) then but decided that we needed the additional protection as father time takes his toll. 80% covered by BCBS for a major illness can still leave a large expense from our bank account. So we decided that it was prudent to sign up and pay the 10% annual premium penalty.
When we arrived at Social Security people were waiting outside since the inside was full. So we decided to come back later. Lynda did so while she and Kathy were out, only to find there was no record for her. Unfortunately, the paperwork we received in March is in storage in California. I guess there is nothing we can do now but hope nothing major health wise happens to either of us until we can correct the situation. So it goes.
After beginning this entry yesterday morning Terry took us on a tour of the Moncton area. The metropolitan area of 120,000 persons consists of three continuous towns with three separate governments: Moncton, Dieppe-mostly French speaking, and Riverview, primarily a bedroom community. Our first stop was the Dieppe Farmer’s Market where we browsed the various vendors and had a light lunch. Interestingly, there was a significant Asian representation among both food vendors and customers.
Then we drove around the various sectors to get an overview of Terry and Lucille’s world. Even this far north of the Bay of Fundy, which we will visit today (Sunday), there are significant tidal effects – some 20 feet – on the river. There aren’t many notable tourist attractions hereabouts with the exception of Magnetic Hill, a “tourist trap” optical illusion of a car in neutral rolling up hill. I had experienced this phenomenon as a boy in Florida on “Spook Hill” but this was new to Lynda. We looked but didn’t pay the fee to experience this rather mundane event.
Back home Lucille prepared a wonderful fresh cod dinner while Terry and I watched the third round of the U. S. Open Golf Championship.
Well, it is time now (Sunday morning) to get ready for our visit to the Bay of Fundy. When we arrived at Hopewell Rocks at the north end of the bay the tide was in. A staff person said that at the current phase of the moon the tide change is 37’. It is 46’ at its maximum and changes every six hours and thirteen minutes; high to low or vice versa. Also he explained that the water level increases and recedes at the rate of one foot every ten minutes. Even at this time near high tide one is able to walk on a strip of the bay floor in the area called “Flower Rocks.” Lynda and Terry took the 99-stair trek to the bottom and back but I chose to enjoy the view from above and save my knees. I’ll enjoy the photos with the rest of you.
From Hopewell Rocks Terry drove south to Fundy National Park with an intermediate stop for lunch in the small town of Alma. Fundy Park offers cabins, campgrounds, a golf course, hiking trails, and some great views. Nova Scotia was quite visible across the bay.
For the third night in a row we were provided a wonderful dinner, chicken and ribs grilled outside by Terry this time. It is terrific having good friends who provide lovely quarters, fine food, and superb libations, particularly on a long, long journey like ours. Oh yes, arriving back in Moncton we stopped at the liquor store where I replenished their wine supply and Terry’s Grey Goose vodka. He is a man of fine taste and I’m such a sport!
I will close now as Terry and I are going to the eye specialist’s office at the hospital complex a block away. Hopefully she will agree to provide my July treatment without a lot of rigmarole. It was Terry’s idea to go straight to “the horse’s mouth” with my record from Dr. Byrnes; a good strategy I believe. At least we’ll get a straightforward response. I’ll keep you posted!