Monday, July 30, 2012

Cooperstown–Baseball Hall of Fame

100_3754This was a special stop Gary had been looking forward to for a long time.  We had visited the Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio a number of years ago and had wanted to get to Cooperstown ever since.  And it did not disappoint. Cooperstown long ago became synonymous with the Baseball Hall of Fame. You are far more likely to hear “he’ll be in Cooperstown one day” than you ever would “he’ll be in the Hall of Fame”.  The building itself is not particularly imposing inside or out, but the contents are awesome.

100_3744Whereas the Football Hall has bronze busts, the Baseball Hall has plaques. The first floor houses the Plaque Gallery. Each plaque captures in just a few short words the very essence of each hall of fame player.  The first floor also houses Induction Row which contains items related to the most recent inductees  We visited the Hall just after this year’s induction ceremony weekend.  Ron Santo of the Chicago Cubs and Barry Larkin were this year’s inductees.  Gary took pictures of many of the plaques and the ones that were the most memorable to him including this one of “Sparky” Anderson, the last manager to lead our Detroit Tigers to the World Championship..

100_3702The second floor has a gallery dedicated to probably the most famous of the original five inductees --  Babe Ruth.  There a great portrait in the art gallery of “The Babe” in the batter’s box pointing to where he is going to hit a home run in the outfield bleachers.  There was also a second floor section for sportswriters and radio announcers, two of whom were famous to fans of the Tigers – Joe Falls and Ernie Harwell.




100_3753The third floor had a section dedicated to Hank Aaron, a TV monitor continuously playing Abbot and Costello’s “Whose on First”, a display case of all the World Series championship rings, and a section dedicated to the many batting and pitching records of baseball.  But maybe best of all, I got a photo of a future hall of famer.  Isn’t he a handsome one?

Our pictures for Cooperstown are at:

We have been backlogged uploading our picture albums but have recently uploaded several since our last album of Lancaster, PA.  And we are working on the rest of them as well.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Albany, New York

As we drove quite a way to see the baseball game in Troy, NY, we decided we would also take in Albany, the capital of New York State,  Albany is on the banks of the Hudson River as is Troy.  We obtained a walking tour map at the visitor’s center and explored the city on foot. We were very much struck by the enormity and architecture of the complex of government buildings in Albany.  In many respects, it reminded us of Brasilia, the capital of the country of Brazil, not the government complex of just a US State.  When one thinks of of certain states having fiscal problems, including New York State, you just look around and think here is part of the reason why.



Thursday, July 26, 2012

Baseball in the Hudson Valley

100_3656We moved on from our site in Vermont to the Cooperstown area, about an hour east of Albany, NY.  On Tuesday, we went to a baseball game in Troy, NY between the Tri-City ValleyCats and the Connecticut Tigers.  Both teams play in the New York – Penn League which is a “short season” league, basically for players who were recently drafted out of colleges and are beginning their professional careers.  For some of these players it will be their one and only stint at professional baseball.  For others, they will be assigned to the Class A teams next year for a full season of professional ball.

100_3617We wanted to see some of the talent the Detroit Tigers had drafted (they also have a Rookie League team in Lakeland, Florida).   There were a a few players who appeared to have the talent to advance in the organization and conceivably one day make it to “the show”.

The game was a lot of fun.  This park had lively music clips between every pitch and some sort of fan activity after each half inning.

We aren’t on a tour of baseball stadiums, but we now have been to games in Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Massachusetts, Maine, and New York this baseball season.  And we probably still have a few games to go,

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Relaxing Week in Vermont

100_3596Ah, it was nice “to take a week off” and relax a lot.  We camped on South Hero Island, the largest of Lake Champlain’s islands.  The Lake is about 125 miles long and defines the border between much of western Vermont and eastern upper New York State.  We were unable to catch a glimpse of “Champ”, Lake Champlain’s equivalent of “Nessie” or the Loch Ness Monster, but then we were being mighty lazy.  We made it to the pool a few times and played par 3 golf a couple times.  And we caught up on some chores such as washing and cleaning the motor home.

2012-07-21_19-46-09_659We traveled three times into Burlington, Vermont’s largest city.  It is a lakefront college town as the home of the University of Vermont.  It is yet another town we have visited with a vibrant downtown shopping, dining and entertainment district.  Maybe we had become too adjusted to the Detroit metro model where the city moved out to the suburbs with shopping malls and very little “downtown” anywhere in the city or suburbs.  Burlington is only a town of around 40,000 people but had a dining district of at least 20 blocks, the core of which was a pedestrian only street filled with sidewalk cafes and shops.  And it wasn’t just busy on the weekend.  There were huge crowds there on Tuesday and Thursday nights.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Back in the USA

After a month of traveling about eastern Canada, we are now in Vermont for a week of relaxation from all of the touring we have been doing.  We thought we would take a moment and reflect on what we will miss and won’t miss about Canada:

What we will miss:

  • Incredibly beautiful scenery
  • The natural wonder of the Bay of Fundy
  • Fantastic seafood
  • Courteous and helpful people who would ask if we needed help if we had our map out
  • Great cities – St John, Moncton, Charlottetown, Halifax, Quebec, Montreal
  • History that parallels that of the United States, but is also quite unique

And what won’t we miss:

  • Cell phone roaming charges of 65 cents a minute
  • Data roaming charges that were even more ridiculous (we turned off our data services to keep from possibly using them) – why does cell and data have to cost so much just because you cross the northern border?
  • Poutine – although fascinating to try, a dish that is french fries, cheese curds, and brown gravy, is a heart attack waiting to happen.
  • Getting light out at 4:15 a.m.
  • Fuel prices that are about a dollar a gallon higher for diesel and about a dollar and half higher for gas.
  • Sales tax as high as 15% in total in some Provinces.
  • The transaction fees on credit card usage – $3 per $100 after they already make money on the buy/sell spread.
  • The MOOSE we were excited to see but never saw in spite of the many warning signs.




Monday, July 16, 2012


100_3540From Quebec City we moved on up the St Lawrence River valley to Montreal.  Once again Gary downloaded us some walking tours and found out how to access the Montreal subway system.  That is basically all we ever need – some walking tour info, a public transportation system, and away we go.  The first day of touring, we went mainly through the old city area.  On almost every walking tour in every city, there are churches on the itinerary. And for good reason.  Churches do represent some of the most unique examples of architecture in almost every city.  And usually they are open and free to enter and tour.  The Basilica of Notre Dame had an admission charge so I just waited until the next day and went to the 100_3589Saturday afternoon Mass.  There was just one problem.  The Mass was in French and I really didn’t understand a word of it.  We have found that our knowledge of Portuguese, another sister romance language to French, has done nothing to help us with the language here in Quebec.  But we did learn our obligatory: “je ne parle pas francais” and “parlez-vous anglais”  One thing we noticed about Quebec was that there were no road and street signs in English.  In every other Province we have been in from Ontario to Nova Scotia, all signage is in both English and French.

100_3574On our second day of touring Montreal, we concentrated on the downtown area.  We don’t know what this building is, but we are sure the architect is a cat lover like us with these cat ears for a roof.  We spent some time in the Fine Arts Museum.  We enjoyed the section of Inuit art.  We also explored the “underground city”.  Instead of shopping malls with huge surrounding parking lots, Montreal has a downtown section of shopping that is mainly in the basements of many of the downtown buildings all of which are interconnected with around 20 miles of “tunnels” all of which access the subway system as well,   This shopping area is huge.  It is shopping mall after shopping mall after shopping mall all connected together.   It is a very unique way to have an inner city shopping district.

Montreal pretty much marks the end of our “cities and seafood” tour.  It has stretched from Florida all the way up the US east coast, into the Atlantic Provinces of Canada and now through Quebec.  We have toured many large and amazing cities over the last three months,  We now look forward to a less intense period of travel through Vermont, New York State and back to the Midwest to visit family and friends.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Quebec City

100_3378As we had already visited New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, there wasn’t a lot we wanted to see on our way from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia to Quebec City.  We generally like to travel for a day and then stay put for a week or two, but in this case we just put the pedal to the metal and drove for three straight days.  It is a long way from Northeast Nova Scotia  to any big city.  In New Brunswick we followed along the St John River valley, many times with 100_3400views of the river.  We were up above the northern tip of Maine when we crossed from New Brunswick into the Province of Quebec.  Form that border up to the St Lawrence River at Riviere du Loup, it was probably the roughest stretch of road we had been on during the past year.  It was washboard rough in lots of sections, likely from frost heaving in the Spring.  In Riviere du Loup, we caught our first glimpses of the St Lawrence River.  There aren’t any bridges northeast of Quebec City as the river is just too wide for them – at least 10 miles of width and more all the way out to the sea.

100_3417In Quebec City, we stayed on the south side of the River in the city of Levis across from Quebec City.  From there, we rode the ferry across the river.  What an amazing view.  It was easy to see why the French chose this spot for one of their first settlements, and one of the oldest European settlements in North America.  It is on the highest rock top along the grand river.  It was then fortified with huge walls making it very much a fortress city.  It has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

100_3430We like, the website of the travel book company, for its city walking tours.  We followed their walking tours through the old city, founded in the late 1608.  The skyline of Quebec City is dominated by the Chateau Frontenac and its copper roofs.  It was built in the late 1800s by the Canadian Pacific Railway.  As shown in the picture to the right, the main roof is being re-coppered this year.  It is still copper color rather than the typical green oxidation.  We toured the old city one day and went out through the ancient gates of the walled to city to tour newer parts of the city the next.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Some French Canadian Delicacies

100_3483We were touring Quebec City today (more on this amazing city in future posts).  In a Province and a City that have a very strong French heritage, you would expect to find some “haute cuisine”.  Well we found some very new things to eat today.  You can decide how haute the cuisine was.  Pictured to the right is a dish known as poutine.  We had never heard of it before today.  What is it?  Well, start with french fries, layer on some cheese curds (aka squeaky cheese as it really does squeak on your teeth as you eat them) and then smother them with some brown gravy.  Yummmmmmmmmy.

Our second new delicacy was the “euro hot dog”.  This one takes a special hot dog machine as shown below.  You slice up a section of a French baguette.  You push the baguette down over the spikes on the machine which forces open a hole in the baguette and as the spikes are warm they also heat the inside of the baguette.  They pull the baguette section off the spike and squirt mustard and/or other condiments into the hole in the baguette.  They then pull a hot dog out of the steamer portion of the machine and insert a skinny hot dog (actually a spicy sausage) about the length of a foot long with tongs into the hole in the baguette which also dresses it with the condiments.  Voila, a euro hot dog and quite tasty actually..

Finally, we also had some raw milk cheeses.  In the US, most all cheese is made from pasteurized milk, but in Canada they can make cheese from unpasteurized milk which makes for some unique textures and flavors.  These may have been our true delicacies of the day.

To Newfoundland or Not to Newfoundland?

That is a question we have been discussing for a few weeks now.  As we headed toward the Atlantic Provinces, it was a clear shot that we would be going to New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, but Newfoundland/Labrador was a much bigger decision.


As you can see, there is no way to get to Newfoundland by land.  There is no bridge as there was to Prince Edward Island.  It is over 100 miles to the from the northern end of Nova Scotia to the southwestern tip of Newfoundland.  We considered taking the motor home and car on the ferry, or just the car, leaving the motor home in Nova Scotia and using motels is Newfoundland.  We gave up on the latter as we would have had to leave Alley cat behind in the motor home which we could have done for two or three days, but that would not have allowed for much more than a ferry ride and back (about six hours each way).  Moreover, if there is particularly bad weather, the return trip can be delayed indefinitely.

We drove up to the ferry terminal to check things out more closely for the possibility of taking the full rig over.  There were plenty of 18 wheelers making the trip on the ferry so it would not have been a problem for us.  The cost was $500 each way.  And if you travel over to the Atlantic coast of Newfound and take the ferry back from there, it is an $1,100 trip back and 15 hours of sailing.  At these price we would have wanted to go for a considerable period of time to justify the cost.

In the final analysis, we just didn’t feel we had two weeks and a thousand or two dollars for ferry rides to spare for the trip.  Gary had more desire to go as it would have marked his travel in all 10 of the Canadian Provinces in addition to all 50 US States, but even he agreed that it was just too much of a journey.  Instead, we have begun our western migration to resume our cities tour, this time of Quebec City and Montreal.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Cape Breton Island and the Cabot Trail

100_3315We moved on from the Halifax area to the very far north of Nova Scotia – the island of Cape Breton.  We camped in the town of Baddeck.  Alexander Graham Bell had a summer home there in the years after he invented the telephone.  Although we have only ever visited Scotland in pictures, from our pictures it would seem Nova Scotia really is New Scotland.


100_3325The major attraction of Cape Breton is the Cabot Trail, a 185 mile loop around the northern end of the island and through Cape Breton Highlands National Park.  It ranked right up there with the most beautiful of drives we ever have taken.  And look at that precipitous road that makes up a good portion of the trail.  It is unclear if John Cabot ever actually landed on Nova Scotia or only on Newfoundland but he sure has an amazing trail named after him.

100_3337On one of our nature walks in the National Park, the Ranger pointed out two different carnivorous plants to us (think venus fly trap).  The one shown here is called the pitcher plant.  Insects can enter down into the openings and cilia keep them trapped inside where the plant then emits enzymes which digest the insect.

Our seafood tour continued as we found a shop selling fresh caught halibut filets.  When we were in Alaska, we went out on a Halibut fishing boat and had our catch sent back to us in Michigan.  We have craved halibut ever since but it is very expensive in the States.  We were thrilled to get some fine filets for $10.99 a pound.  But they are waiting for a day as we also purchased and ate some scallops from Digby, Nova Scotia, a town famous for its sweet and tender scallops.  And they sure were.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Nova Scotia Shoreline South of Halifax

100_3106We camped south of Halifax, Nova Scotia across the street from Margaret Bay of the Atlantic Ocean.  At the tip of the bay is the picturesque town of Peggy’s Cove and its lighthouse.  As we were driving down to see it, we came across a memorial for an airplane crash that had occurred a few miles offshore in 1998.  Swissair 111 originated from Washington DC destined for Zurich when an onboard fire spread too quickly to be contained and the plane went down off the coast of Nova Scotia and all 229 people on onboard perished.

100_3114The lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove is built on and surround by giant boulders.  The waves can really be whipped up in this area and we saw them come crashing over the rocks.  It seems that despite warnings sightseers keep going out on the rocks too close to the ocean and some are occasionally swept out on the waves.  We found a rather vivid warning plaque along one or the walks leading out to the lighthouse.

100_3168We also explored further south along the coast.  We visited the seaport town of  Lunenburg, which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The seafront is lined with brightly-colored classic seaport  buildings.  The port is the home for the famed racing and fishing schooner, Bluenose which is a major symbol of the Province of Nova Scotia and is featured on the back of the Canadian dime (the ship now docked there is actually Bluenose II, a replica of the original and presently undergoing restoration).

100_3174And speaking of Canadian money…..the Canadian one-dollar coin features a picture of the Common Canadian Loon on the back, and therefore garnered the nickname of “Loonie”.  As an extension of the nickname, the two-dollar Canadian coin came to be known as the Toonie.  Just to prove that we are not making all of this up, here is a picture of a Dollar store in downtown Lunenburg.

100_3205We traveled on to Mahone Bay and saw their three famous water-front churches and also to the resort town of Chester.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy First of July

halifaxcitadelhillWe won’t be anywhere near the United States for the Fourth of July, so instead we celebrated Canada Day which is July 1.  We celebrated Canada Day big.  We spent the day in Halifax.  We toured the Halifax Citadel.  High on a hill overlooking both the harbor and the land entrance to the city, various versions of the Citadel have been there for the protection of Halifax since the mid 1700s.  From what we read of the history, no military force ever tried to attack Halifax, 100_3126but the Citadel was there in case they had.  It was first built by the British and later was used by the Canadian Armed Forces.  There is also an Army museum at the Citadel.  Best of all, for Canada Day, entrance to the Citadel was a freebie!

From the Citadel, we went to our afternoon performance of the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo (see prior post).  It was more moving to go on Canada Day with the renditions of “O Canada” and “God Save the Queen” which we sang to the words of “America”  (My Country Tis of Thee)  which is the same melody. 

After the performance, we went to a pub for a bite to eat.  In one of our visitor guides we had seen a coupon for a pound and a half of mussels for $2.99.  Now there is a coupon Gary could not pass up.  When we went to redeem the coupon, we were told to keep it for another day as the price all day Sunday is $2.99 and did Gary therefore want another batch.   So instead of an appetizer, he made a meal out them.  I still don’t know how can eat those things and even he had to agree that they weren’t quite as good as the fantastic scallops we had the night before, another Nova Scotia treat.

2012-07-01_21-33-06_15From the pub, we went to Casino Nova Scotia – Halifax.  Now the real purpose of our visit was to hit the cash machine.  We are trying not to use our charge cards much as they give bad exchange rates at high fees, but we had discovered that cash machines at casinos give good rates at low fees even for larger withdrawals.  And as long as we were there…………..  I went over and dropped $20 in a slot machine.  I circled back2012-07-01_22-13-31_116 to the blackjack table where I left Gary, and lo and behold he was on a nice little winning streak, so we had a good Canada Day there as well.  It must have been the good luck Gary’s friends Frank and Sammy brought him.  To close the day out, we went to the waterfront of the harbor and enjoyed the fireworks.

We toured Halifax another day as well taking the city gardens, various historical buildings, the harbor front,


Monday, July 2, 2012

My First Tattoo

That is a headline that will have my friends and family reading this blog post.  Yes, I did my first tattoo.

The last day we were in Moncton, New Brunswick, Gary went golfing at the Par 3 course at the campground.  He was playing by himself and came up on a slow threesome that was, in turn, being held back by a very slow foursome in front of them.  Rather than trying to play through two groups, he accepted an offer to join the threesome.  They were from the Atlantic Provinces and upon hearing that we would be moving next to Nova Scotia, they had some travel suggestions for us.  Gary said one guy spoke with a bit of an accent and was somewhat hard to understand, but he had said that we just had to go to a Tattoo – that it was one of the grandest traditions of Nova Scotia.  We had heard of tattooing shows where many tattoo artists would gather at a convention center and perform their tattoo artistry.  It was never something we ever thought we would attend, but if it was a Nova Scotia tradition………….  Gary investigated it a bit.  The Tattoo would just happen to be running for its one and only week of the year in the city of Halifax during the time we would be camping there.  So, off we went.

It seems there are multiple definitions for “tattoo”.  In addition to the definition of “marking a person with an indelible design by inserting pigment into punctures in the skin”, there are also the definitions of “an evening drum or bugle signal recalling soldiers to their quarters” and “an entertainment consisting of music, marching, and the performance of displays and exercises by military personnel”.

My first Tattoo was the latter kind, the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo:

Halifax Nova Scotia

Tattoos are of British heritage.  The most famous Tattoo of the world is held annually in Edinburgh, Scotland.  Nova Scotia is probably the most British of the Canadian Provinces.  After all, Nova Scotia is Latin for New Scotland.  (But it only became very British after it was very French, and the British ran out all the French, but that is another story).

The Nova Scotia Tattoo is a true spectacle.  We were very fortunate to find out about it and to be able to attend.  There were performance groups from Canada, Estonia, France, Germany, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and United States.  The majority of the performers are military and police troupes.  But they are supplemented by a large contingent of local musicians, singers, and dancers.  And there was also a tribute to Queen Elizabeth on her diamond jubilee of service and memories of the Titanic and War of 1812.



That’s it, I experienced my first tattoo and I can’t imagine that I will ever experience any other kind.