We have a wonderful new daughter-in-law, and she has a friend called Fernando. Ever since she moved to Annapolis Royal, Rachel’s talked of Fernando and spoke of how sad she had been to leave him behind in Ontario.
In September we travelled to Ontario to attend Chris and Rachel’s wedding. It was a lovely occasion, everything a wedding should be; a beautiful bride & groom, family, friends, flowers, and food… it was all perfect. Of course, when the groom is your son, how can it be anything other than perfect?
My mum had joined the wedding party, travelling from England to be with us. She tells me this will be the last time that she crosses the Atlantic, so we wanted her final visit to be something to remember. Just in case watching her grandson marry the love of his life isn’t memorable enough, we added an eight-day road trip back to Nova Scotia.
The wedding dress had been left for us to bring home. We stowed the gown, along with suits, shoes, ties and hats, in lockers, as well as gifts and mementoes of the day. The top-tier of the wedding cake and a dozen steaks filled a small freezer in the aisle of the van. We even found space for Fernando; unknown by Rachel, he was finally coming to Nova Scotia.
The English school curriculum includes a study of the Great Lakes and the St Lawrence River. As a schoolgirl in England, my mum learnt the names and read the maps, now, at the age of 87, she was going to see them.
Being a Cornish family, it only seemed appropriate to join the St Lawrence River at Cornwall. From there we puttered along Highway 132 through the villages and townships of the St Lawrence region, stopping along the way for a taste of life in Quebec.
Saint Jean Port Joli is known for its craftspeople and artists, particularly wood carvers. Many of the shops have ornately carved exteriors, making this a unique town in which to stroll. The town has an artists trail, much like the one we have in Bear River, and we visited a number of galleries. We stopped at what we thought was an antique store. Looking around at the antique tools, we could hear the ring of metallic hammering. The store was a working blacksmith’s shop and the blacksmith was hard at work at his forge. We picked out a pair of hand forged shelf brackets as a memento of our trip.
From the St Lawrence to the St John. We visited Grand Falls to see the gorge and the falls that the town takes its name from. The campsite is in a stunning location with a great vantage point over the gorge.
Alas, it was closed and we had to make do with the nearby parking lot of the Golden Age club. It was Thursday evening and likely to be a quiet night. Close enough to make use of the WiFi still available from the campsite, we were catching up on our emails when the parking lot began to fill. Thursday, it seems, is dance night in Grand Falls and before long we were hemmed in by cars. Tired from a day of travelling, we went to bed while the golden oldies danced the night away. By morning the cars were gone.
New Brunswick is known for its covered bridges. The world’s longest covered bridge is 1,282 feet long and crosses the Saint John River from Hartland to Somerville. Built in 1901, the bridge was originally a toll road, costing three cents per person or head of cattle and a half-cent per sheep.
As we drove onto the bridge we were happy to see that there is no longer a cost to cross the river but were also surprised not to see traffic lights for the busy, single width highway. We all agreed that only in Canada would you find drivers courteous enough to wait politely and take turns in crossing.
Further along the St John River, we stopped the night at Casey’s campground, just east of Fredericton. As we were pulling in, a lady rushed out the door, asking if we were hoping to stay the night. “Yes, we’re looking for a place to stay the night”, I answered. After our experience at the previous campsite, I waited for her to tell me that they too were closed for the season. Instead, she waved her hands in the air and enthusiastically shouted, “you’d better come on in then!”
Casey’s is an old-style diner, with a warm welcome, serving home-cooked meals to travellers. The following morning we continued in the tradition and had a hot breakfast of bacon and eggs with pancakes and syrup. The walls and floor of the diner were crammed with gifts, crafts and collectables, providing us with some browsing as our bacon was cooking. In the rear of the building, there was even an antique car, a nostalgic reminder of the golden age of motoring when there would have been a ‘ma & pa’s’ diner on every highway.
We would have liked the journey to have lasted longer but we had animals waiting for us and tomatoes ripening. After a final night back at Five Islands Provincial Park in Nova Scotia, the last leg of our journey took us into Wolfville and then home to Bear River, where the over-ripe tomatoes were falling off the vines.
Fernando? Well, he survived the journey. We set the fig tree in the corner of our dining room and waited to see if Rachel would notice. No, she walked right past it! (Although when she did spot him, she was ecstatic to be reunited with her old pal).
You can read about our journey to the wedding in White Wedding Dresses and Oily Chainsaws.