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Day 14- A Day of Regular Vacation

We awoke the next morning weary, but happy to still be sitting in a little silver trailer on the side of the cliff and with only a view of fog and no more rain. We ventured out to the bathroom and found several other exhausted campers coming out of tents and cars and examining what had gotten wet or disappeared. Our unused wood had gotten sopped and a camp lamp had been left on the table and was severely waterlogged. Our chairs had been tucked under the camper and were pretty sopped, but otherwise we were ok and we knew that we’d be headed somewhere dry and civilized that day.

We headed up to the bathhouse by the restaurant to get some showers. We were pretty psyched since this would be a free shower. It ended up that the shower room I was in had a leak and there was water that had come inside and was dripping down one of the beams. It was like chinese water torture since I couldn’t find a single spot to stand in while I balanced on one foot to dry the other and slide on shoes and clothes without getting dripped on.

We decided to get breakfast at the Miner Diner since there wasn’t anything dry to sit on at camp. We went inside and found the whole place filled with the Chapin clan who were still there vacationing after the big concert. It was funny and awkward that I knew who many of them were and knew stories about all of them from my friend and to them we were just some campers who might steal the salt and pepper. Tom leaned over at a certain point and whispered “I think we may be in someone else’s movie today.” Breakfast was delicious and exactly what we needed. At a certain point the chef came out of the kitchen and we realized that Steve Chapin had made our eggs!

After breakfast we hooked up the trailer and were off to Mahone Bay, a cute little waterfront village we had passed through the day before. We stopped to visit Amos Pewter and see how their pewter pieces are designed and made. It was fascinating and we bought a few things. It wasn’t until days later when I had seen pewter done in other places that I realized what a treat it was to have Amos objects. Their work is so superior to the other pewter I saw.

We headed from here to Halifax, where we checked in to the Best Western Chocolate Lake Hotel. We had decided that a hotel somewhere midway would be a good idea to get the dog washed. One of the difficult things about camping is that no campground will allow you to bring a dog into a bathhouse or use one of their sinks to wash a dog. And there is no way we’d ever try to hose Tenzin down. But we knew by this point that he’d be annoyed about being dirty (he jumps in the tub at home if he doesn’t feel clean) and we’d be annoyed about having him in our bed in the trailer if he was dirty.

I had picked this spot because they advertise themselves as very dog friendly and they were- they gave us a nice stuffed goose squeaky toy for him (it made a nice car pillow for the rest of the trip) and bags and bones. But they specifically told Tom we couldn’t use their tub to clean him. We unhooked the trailer and moved it into a parking spot in their lot so we could leave it for the day while we drove around town. We pondered the bath conundrum while we wandered Halifax.

Our first stop was the Citadel- a great hilltop fort they built that really never saw much in the way of the type of serious defense it was built for. It was impressive as far as forts go and we were intrigued by the signal flags that they raise from what appear to be ship masts there. We quickly realized that they had us park in what would have been one of the moats of the fort. We also found it funny that they had fireplaces inside the barracks that had chimneys sticking up through the fort walls. It seemed that an easy way to get to them would be to plug the chimneys or drop things down them.

The whole time we were there, they had gun and cannon demonstrations and it was wildly loud. We were very concerned that the dog would be freaked out waiting in the car. We got back to the car only to find him happily snoring away and oblivious to the noise. I think the Subaru must be well insulated.

We headed to the waterfront hoping to get some lunch and book a cruise on a boat that toured the harbor. We put the car in a garage and found an odd coffeehouse where we had samosas and meat pasties for lunch (I think this may be what they mean by “Canadian” food). Then we found out that the boat we wanted to take wasn’t running that day. So we went to the Maritime Museum instead.

The museum was pretty cool. We got to find out a lot about the Halifax Explosion- the biggest man-made explosion until the atomic bomb in Hiroshima. It happened in 1912 during WWI when two boats in the Halifax harbor collided. They both caught fire and one was a French vessel full of explosives. When it exploded, it destroyed nearly everything in a 2-mile radius, killed nearly 2000 people and injured more than 9000. And the next day it snowed 16 inches. The skills developed for dealing with strategy during this time prepared Halifax for the Titantic sinking just a few years later and their involvement in that tragedy.

The museum had many artifacts from the explosion and from Titanic. In fact, they have the last remaining deck chair from the Titanic. Tom got a picture sitting in a reproduction one. We both found this funny as we like to say things that are nonsensical and going nowhere at work are like “rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.” Now we know what it would take to rearrange those chairs!

After the museum we wandered around town for a while killing some time before dinner. We thought it was interesting that they had an outdoor gear store called Mountain Equipment Co-Op (MEC) that has a very similar logo and offerings to our US based Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS) shop. It was another reminder that things are just a little different in Canada. We found a cool candy shop and bought enough malted milk balls to last through the rest of the trip. There was a great spot we saw through the window that was featuring knitted and crocheted camp stuff. Tom found a store called “Biscuit” that had super cool clothes. Almost too cool for us, but he did find a shirt that he loved. We eventually ended up having dinner at a great place called “Economy Shoe Shop” named for the recycled neon sign they have outside.

After dinner we headed back to the hotel and gave the dog a bath. We figured in the end that they’d rather have him clean on their nice white sheets than not. And I scrubbed out the tub afterwards and we used our own towels so that there would be little impact from our breaking the rule. Tenzin was thrilled to be clean and we were unsure what to do with the tv. We watch 22 minutes of programming every night, but we hadn’t seen a tv in 2 weeks and really didn’t need to. All in all, today felt a little more like one of our usual vacations and that was a nice break from the camping.

Pics from today are here- http://bit.ly/bSZccZ

Day 9- Paddling About on Echo Lake

For breakfast, more blueberry pancakes! The mix we got at the health food store makes great batter, the Maine blueberries are tasty and they are simple to make on the camp stove. Not to mention the fresh Maine maple syrup, which makes the blood sugar spike something crazy mad, but is worth a little extra bolus of insulin to cover.

The plan for today is to kayak at Echo Lake. It’s a decent sized lake, with a nice swimming beach, surrounded by woods and with mountain views, and close to our camp with a reasonable parking situation. It’s a gorgeous sunny, cool day and perfect for being out on the lake. We get breakfast and get going without bothering to shower- we’ll be covered in lake water soon enough and can get clean when we get back!

We kayak with an Advanced Elements tandem inflatable kayak- yes, a blow up boat. It’s great because it’s big enough for Tom and Ten and I and it packs up easily for storage and transport. We clear the air, roll it up, break down the paddles and throw it and all the PFDs into it’s bag and shove it in the car. We’ve got the boat, Tom’s bike and all our clothes and cooler (one electric and a little one for ice) in the car for the trip. When we get to where we’re going, we pull out the boat, pump it up with the foot pump, put the paddles back together, put the dog in his PFD, throw him in the boat and carry it down to the wherever and jump in the water.

Today we deliberate over how much air to put in the boat. It’s a tricky thing. Too much air and the boat is tight to sit in, too little and you, well, risk sinking. Particularly if you put too much in and then think you want to let a little out while on the water (we’ve never had it happen, but we can imagine it). We went with a bit less air than our last trip and the boat bent a little while trying to carry it. We did have the dog in the boat and he is around 17 lbs. so I wasn’t too worried. Tom was worried.

We got the usual oohs and aahs as we put into the water with the dog in his lifejacket- “Oh, my gosh! How cute! What kind of dog?” He loves the attention and he loves to kayak (adventure with no effort and it looks like mom and dad are slaves working for you to row you around).

We got in and got a nice start paddling down the lake toward the beach. There were camps along the banks with the kind of tents they had when I was at girl scout camp as a kid- the ones with the canvas buildings up on platforms and cots to sleep on. We weren’t sure at the time what all these camps were and later figured out that the first one we saw was the Appalachian Mountain Club’s camp and some others were sleepaway camps.

There was a beach at one end of the lake with several people swimming and a few small sailboats. After turning away from this, we were below a high cliff of a small mountain. We continued paddling north and struggled a bit to make sense of the wind that seemed to both be with and against us. We like to putter when we paddle and look at the dragonflies and houses along the edges of the water. There were several nice houses here in addition to the camps and many had private docks and boats. And there were both blue and red dragonflies.

At the northern end of the lake there is a small island away from the shore where there was a little house. We debated whether that was the type of seclusion we would like or hate. While discussing it and paddling past the island, we hit a rock. We were a little shocked, but no worse for the wear.

Tenzin had been sitting through most of our trip on top of my PFD (I wasn’t wearing it- it was hot and the lake was pretty calm) on the middle of the kayak. He was pretty happy and relaxed. After a bit, he got annoyed about being splashed and he decided to move to sit with Tom in front. But Tom couldn’t paddle and hold him, so he came back to sit with me. I was able to get him settled so that I could paddle, but he continued to squirm around and the waves picked up a bit, so we continued to splash him more than he liked.

It wasn’t until we got to the shore and got out of the boat that we realized why exactly he’d been squirming so much- he had to pee! He ran straight over to the first tree he saw and relieved himself. We wondered whether we should have dipped him in the lake and whether he would have peed in the lake or held it.

Once we got back to camp, we were anxious to get a shower since we were reeking of lake water and had wet shorts from the water that got into the boat. The men’s bath was closed for cleaning, so Tom waited it out while I got a shower and pulled together some curried lentils for a late lunch.

We decided that we should go into Bar Harbor later and have dinner in town since it was starting to look a little gloomy and it’s never fun to try to cook outdoors in the rain. Besides, we had a few things we needed to pick up before the next leg of our trip and we figured we could get some of them in Bar Harbor. We needed more poo bags for the dog, needlenose pliers so we could try to fix the camper leg and some postcards to replace the ones that got bacon grease on them. We wandered through town looking into all the little cutesy shops and found what we were looking for (and a few other things, like Tenzin’s cool tag holder that keeps the tags on his collar from making noise on his bowl).

We decided to go to Rosalie’s for pizza since we had read that it was the best pizza on the East Coast. It was an interesting place because you essentially had to figure out how to seat yourself. Nab a table, then order or order and hope a table would be ready when they brought the food out? It was pretty good pizza, but I don’t think they can really say it’s the “best.” Afterwards, even though we were full, we wanted to get some ice cream and I ended up with a kiddie sized portion.

We got back to camp and all was dark except the few fires that people were sitting around. It was peaceful and quiet and followed by a good night’s sleep in the rain.

Pics for today can be found here- http://bit.ly/c4aaHi