Family Vacation: Day 8

Long drive to Montreal

We decided not to stay to do more exploring and to head out after breakfast.  The kids snuck in a quick game of checkers as we checked out and I took a few pics on the way to the hotel parking lot before we drove up to the admissions center for breakfast. 

   
    
 
Breakfast was good, although the potatoes were a bit salty.  Kyle took a risk and tried the cretons.  After breakfast, we did some shopping at the souvenir shop.  They had a wide variety of merchandise including hand-made toques, mitts, and socks, books, music, wooden shoes, instruments and beautiful quilts. 

Then the adventure began! We headed out to Montreal with just over a quarter tank of gas assuming that there would be places to stop along the way.  We started out along the coast and then continued onto a secondary highway that would take us to St. Quentin.  What we didn’t realize was that it was primarily a logging road that had no civilization for around 135 km.  There was next to no traffic other than the logging trucks and it was a winding, hilly road with many potholes – oh, and I should mention, no cell service.  

  
The gas light came on around 40 km from St. Quentin so we were quite confident that we could make it without incident.  Of course, there were potty emergencies but those were easier to take care of.    We arrived at a gas station in St. Quentin, a logging town with a huge sawmill, only to find out they were out of gas.  The next gas station along our route was about 45 minutes.  We explained that we wouldn’t be able to make it that far and the young man directed us to a closer station around the corner.  Thank goodness they still had fuel, or we would have been in big trouble.

We arrived in Montreal around 7 pm, found parking in a nearby lot and checked into our hotel, Le Square Phillips Hôtel et Suites.  Our room is huge and well-equipped with a full kitchen.

   
    
   
The rooftop terrace overlooks some churches and an old Hudson’s Bay building, as well some office buildings.

   
 Hoping for a good night sleep and a leisurely walk around Old Montreal tomorrow, and, of course, a swim in the hotel pool with the littles. 

Family Vacation: Day 7

Village Historique Acadien

Today we opted for a slower pace: we slept in a bit; went for a swim in the hotel pool, then headed out for our stay at the Hotel Chateau Albert at the Village Historique Acadien.  

We took the scenic route along the coast which added about half an hour to the drive but it was much nicer than travelling through the forest dense center of New Brunswick.  

Typing Village Historique Acadien into the GPS was not a good idea as we ended up not where we intended, after entering the actual address we managed to find the place (although not where the GPS was taking us).

The village is pretty casual, you stroll around exploring the different buildings.  We arrived close to closing so some buildings were already closed.  Your admission fee covers two days so we can explore what we missed tomorrow if we feel up to it (long drive tomorrow to Montreal, we may want to just head out).

The littles always enjoy the farm animals and the old-fashioned things; the teens not so much.  They mostly complained about the horseflies and constantly asked how long until we were getting back to the hotel.  

   
    
    
   
Each building had someone dressed in period costumes to explain their role in the village – all with varying degrees of bilingualism. The tinsmith was quite funny and he made us a whistle while he talked about his trade.  Dylan loved checking out the gardens to see if he could recognize any of the vegetables that were growing.  

At the one farm, the kids enjoyed feeding the sheep and the woman showed us the process of processing the wool: teasing, carding, spinning, dyeing.  It was interesting to learn that the girls began working with the wool at age five and were able to use the spinning wheel at age ten.  She explained that the red and purple wools had to be imported and the other colours were created using plants and other organic a.  However, the boys were needed to create the blue dye – they had to pee in a pail, then a rock purchases at the general store was placed in the urine to break down creating the blue dye, it took a month to make blue wool.  

The hotel was clean and set in the 1900s.  We needed to book two rooms as the maximum capacity for each room is three.  The staff were friendly and helpful, although the older gentleman who was hooking up the air conditioning in the boys’ room was a bit cranky.  

   
    
   
The only issue we had was they forgot to put the folding bed in our rooms for the littles to sleep on.  When I went down to ask about it the woman at the front desk only knew a few words of English and my French isn’t great so we had a bit of a struggle communicating.  Apparently the young man that had helped us with our bags was supposed to take care of it before he left, so we had to search the rooms to find one and then carry it up two flights of stairs to our room.  This was not an easy task given the pioneer-style, full length dress the woman was wearing.  At least we were able to laugh as she exclaims, “ah, ma robe!” and tries her best not to trip over it.   

The village closed at six so we had lots of time for baths and to relax before heading to bed.

Family Vacation: Day 6

Joggins Fossil Cliffs & Fundy Geological Museum

Today we headed out to Nova Scotia for some geology.  We all enjoy exploring rocks and fossils, so it was a great pick for our family.  Also, they aren’t busy tourist spots, so it was nice to be amongst a handful of visitors.

The Joggins Fossil Cliffs are quite amazing.  This area of Nova Scotia used to be located at the equator and was a tropical jungle before Pangea broke apart. We learned a lot about the history of this region where the fossils are from the Carboniferous Period … before the dinosaurs.  We were shown a fossilized tree from that time period that was fossilized “in situe”, as it was when it was living which I found to be quite fascinating.  We were then shown a fossilized root with the rootlets fossilized with it.  Pretty cool.   The guide was a university student and was extremely knowledgeable and patient with the children’s constant request for him to “check this out, is this something?”

This region has a very high density of  fossils and we were able to find quite a few on our own, mostly fossils of tree back from 300 million years ago. The Interpretive centre has excellent displays and was quite interesting to explore.   
 When planning a visit here remember to check the daily tour schedule as you can only explore the cliffs during low tide and remember to bring a jacket, it is cold by the ocean.  

   
    
 After exploring the fossil cliffs, we travelled to the nearby (about an hour) town of Parrsboro to visit the Fundy Geological Museum.   

 The museum, although relatively small, had excellent displays of rocks, minerals and fossils.  It even had a scaled model of an ancient millipede that was about a foot wide and a metre in length.  It connected nicely to the fossil cliffs where we had previously seen fossilized tracks of this huge bug.

The children really enjoyed this museum as it had dinosaur fossils and displays.

   
 

Family Vacation: Day 5

Saint Andrews for Whale Watching

Last night’s dinner date was a lot of fun.  We went to the Japenese restaurant across the street from the hotel for our first experience with teppanyaki.  Our chef was very entertaining and friendly.  It gave us a chance to laugh and eat quietly.  The portions were very large, neither one of us could finish.  

   

After an early breakfast, we headed out to Saint Andrews. After a 2 1/2 hour drive along the southern coast of New Brunswick we arrived at the picturesque town of St. Andrews.  A cute little down that reminded me of Port Dover with the cute shops and restaurants along the main road and a long wharf to walk along. We stopped for lunch at the Harbourside Restaurant which provided your standard fare: fish, burgers, chicken strips.   

Then off to the Jolly Breeze to check-in for our whale watching trip.   

 
They add some interest for the youngsters and some adults by providing a variety of pirate costumes. Evelyn was the only one interested in dressing up, which was no surprise.  

  
The sailboat trip out into the Bay of Fundy was beautiful and very relaxing. Although we weren’t able to spot any whales, we did see some seals and porpoises.  On board, they have a touch tank with a few different sea creatures that the children were able to touch and examine, while the crew member taught them about the different creatures.  Evelyn loved the sea cucumbers.  

   
   
By the end of the trip, we were all pretty tired.  Three and a half hours out on the water has a way of doing that to you.

Family Vacation: Day 4

Prince Edward Island

Today we headed out to the quaint, little island of Prince Edward Island (PEI).  We took the Confederation Bridge from New Brunswick and I have to say it way amazing.  The engineering to design such an amazing bridge and the maintenance that must be required to keep it operational is unspeakable.  Going over for the first time was a bit nerve-wracking.  I definitely need to learn more about the construction of this bridge, it truly is unbelievable.  

The Confederation Bridge is the world’s longest bridge over ice-covered waters.  There was obviously no ice there now and I’m not sure if I would be comfortable crossing if it was.  

  
We didn’t do a lot of sight seeing in PEI.  The countryside was nice and we saw lots of red dirt – although we did pass on the ever-popular “dirt shirt.”  We went to Spinnakers Landing, in Summerside, for some shopping and lunch. We had to sit outside as the inside was full.  It was a nice view but very windy.  We then went to the College of Piping and Celtic Music where we learned about step dancing, highland dancing, the bagpipes and the drum as well as some interesting information about the college.  We then enjoyed a short demonstration of each of the four disciplines filled by some small group performances.  The mini concerts are very relaxed, if you attend a mini concert you get a discount off of the larger evening performance which I’ve heard is very good.  Unfortunately, it was not something we could stay for.  

  
Lastly, we went on a short coastal drive and saw a few lighthouses.  We went in the one located at Victoria-by-the-Sea, the kids were a bit nervous going up and down the ladder, even though it was relatively small.  Admission was by voluntary donation.  The lower level provided some some displays about the lighthouses history and how lighthouses work.

  

All the children have been fed, thankful for the guest laundry at the hotel while I await my dinner date with dad when he gets back from swimming with the kids.  He is amazing taking them when I know he’s tired and could really use some piece & quiet.  Hopefully dinner will be enough of a break to provide some sanity and allow us to recharge our batteries.  

Family Vacation: Day 3

Happy Canada Day! 🇨🇦

Hopewell Rocks & Lobster Tales Cruise

Breakfast at the Residence Inn was reasonable, a variety of hot dishes along with the traditional continental fare. 

We headed out right after breakfast to go to the Hopewell Rocks and walk on the ocean floor during low time, we arrived around 9:15 am and had to be off the beach by 10:00 am so we opted to take the shuttle down rather than the 15 minute walk which could have been longer with a four-year-old.  Make sure you check the tide tables on the website when planning your trip.  

The rocks were a great way for the kids to see how powerful water is.  The formations are created by water erosion caused by the moving tides and ocean currents.  They were quite amazing to see (along with creatures hanging out on the rocks and the lovely covering of seaweed”.   We really found the warning sign amusing which tells you to find a rock above the seaweed level to hang out on for a few hours if you get trapped by the tide.😧

  
We explored the Interpretive Centre which had some interesting displays about the tides, local seabirds, and other pertinent information about the area.

We had a quick snack at the High Tide Café before heading back to Moncton.  The drive back was quite interesting as the rivers and marshes were filled with water while being empty on the way there.  

In the late afternoon, we headed to Shediac to  participate in the customary picture with the Giant Lobster before heading to the Pointe-du-Chène Wharf.  Be advised there is a nominal fee to enter the wharf area.  The wharf is reminiscent of Grand Bend, Turkey Point and Port Dover in Ontario.  They even have a Sandbar restaurant.😀

  
We then checked in and boarded the boat for our “Lobster Tales” cruise offered by Shediac Cruises.  The cruise was fantastic.  The host, a retired lobster fisherman, was a great entertainer and kept everyone laughing throughout – despite the odd “bad” joke. We learned about lobster fishing, how to distinguish between male and female lobsters and how to properly cook and eat a lobster the “Acadian” way!  Very messy but a lot of fun.  We all left wearing lobster juice and smelling of lobster. The portions were quite large and if you order chicken instead of lobster you get a half chicken dinner if you’re an adult and a quarter chicken (breast and wing) for the children’s meal.  I would highly recommend the cruise if you are visiting the area, even our teenagers said they “really liked it,” which they almost never say.   

    

 

Family Vacation: Day 2

Québec City to Moncton, New Brunswick

Our stay at Hôtel et Suites Le Dauphin concluded with the complimentary breakfast. It is advertised as a hot buffet, however it was in between the typical continental breakfast and the hot buffets we are used to.  Overall we were pleased with our stay here, but it would not be our first choice for an extended stay as the room had no eating table and no “kitchen”. There was a small fridge, microwave and sink area with some dishes.  Good for overnight with a larger family but not for extended stays.

Today’s drive was long and tedious.  Once you move beyond Québec City the sights are mostly trees, trees, and more trees.  It was an event to see a small body of water between cities which seemed to occur at 2-3 hour intervals.  The kids did great considering how bored I was.  

Our first stop was in the town of Hartland, NB which has the world’s longest covered bridge, just over 1200 m.  We stopped at a quaint little restaurant located across the street from the bridge, called Jeremiah’s.  The food here was good and the staff were friendly and welcoming.  We ordered standard fare: chicken burger, fish & chips, pulled pork sandwich all were prepared in a typical manner which was a positive given my not very adventurous company.  We did try the maple apple carrot cake which was quite delicious. It was about a five hour drive from Québec City.

   
    
 
The remainder of the drive was much of the same and lasted another three hours or so.  We arrived at Residence Inn by Mariott.  We got unpacked in our two bedroom suite with kitchen. It even has two bathrooms so we don’t need to share with our teenage boys.😄

   
   
Tired from the two long days of travel we settled in for a movie and bedtimes.