Archive for June, 2011

Jun 17 2011

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12-Day Self-Drive Canada – Day 10 (Part II)

Date: 13th June 2011

Starting Point: Sydney, Nova Scotia

Destination: Edmundston, New Brunswick

In Part I we visited Marconi’s Historic Site.

Our next destination is this place:

It’s Alexander Graham Bell’s Historic Site in Baddeck, Nova Scotia. It was our last point of interest, and definitely NOT the least interesting!

When we parked our car, we saw another visitor from somewhere far north:

The entrance to the centrre:

Alexander G Bell was definitely a great man!

Before the visit I only knew Bell invented the phone, and worked a lot with the deafs, not aware that his wife and mum were deaf too!

I am not going to say much. Let the pictures do the talking:

Most people know him for the invention of the telephone:

“Mr Watson, come here” is the famous phrase, officially first transmitted by Bell:

He was also a very loving husband:

Little did I know that he was also a great inventor who was busy with his research, well beyond the invention of the phone!

The guy simply loved Nova Scotia!!

A dotting grandpa too:

The centre is huge. Here’s the part that shows a reconstructed model of his Hydrodrome 4.

Here’s the original:

It was a great invention, but was completed at the wrong time. By the time it was ready, the war was over, and the nation was busy rebuilding the society & economy. Of that came the famous Bell’s quotation (The operation was a success, but the patient died):

In those days, modelling was a trial and error approach, even with the simple design of the propellers, it would take ages:

(Now we only need a good simulation programme, or better still, an of-the-shelf simulation software!)

Bell never stopped thinking:

Here are the various versions of the telephone in its infancy years:

I took some time to re-learn physics :-) :

Once a great man’s dream, now it’s a reality:

I tremendously enjoyed the exhibits:

It’s a huge place with attractive anf informative displays:

Tired, after spending quite some time in the centre:

Bell’s family home and estate (and where heand wife were laid to rest too) is somewhere on the hill there (right side):

Thought we were reluctant to leave the place, we had to move on, and it was a relief when we saw this:

Somewhere along the highway, we saw the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Cooperation) transmission complex. The high towers and cables reminded us of Marconi’s tower :-) (refer to my previous posting)

the freeway:

We arrived at our hotel past midnight – that’s a few hours behind schedule. We didn’t regret it because we sure had great times at Marconi’s & Bell’s Historic sites :-)

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Jun 16 2011

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12-Day Self-Drive Canada – Day 10 (Part I)

Date: 13th June 2011

Starting Point: Sydney, Nova Scotia

Destination: Edmundston, New Brunswick

This was to be our last day of long-distant  self-drive, with a couple of places to visit. The following day we would do a direct travel of 1000km to Hamilton. This seilf-drive tour would only last for 11 days instead of 12 because we wanted to come back to Hamilton 1 day earlier, to do other things. The title however will stay :-) .

After checking out, our first destination for that morning was Marconi National Historic Site of Canada at Glaze Bay:

To some people, Marconi doesn’t need any introduction, but to others, Marconi was the guy who was instrumental in transmitting the first radio signal (to Cornwall, UK) over the Atlantic Ocean:

Prior to that, all communications across the Atlantic was done via undersea cables!

When we arrived, there was a group of school children who came in one busload! Despite that, we were greeted by a charming lass, who suggested to us to see the outdoor site first (since the building was still full of Grade 6 & 7 kids):

It was rather chilling, so I borrowed Ayi’s sweater :-) . We never got her name, but the young undergrad (who I presumed was under some practical stint) took us to the original site where the transmission towers (4 of them!) once stood:

After the first few successful transmissions, the towers were removed to another place, so what we could see now are the concrete bases and some explanation board:

The view of the surrounding area:

This site was chosen because it is on a higher ground (it’s called The Table Head) and has an interrupted direct path view of United Kingdom (which were vital to signal transmission in those days):

The view of the centre (dark brown roof) as we looked back to the land side:

Despite being outdoor, there was no shortage of information. Here’s one that shows how the 4 towers looked like:

Once the school kids were off, we went into the centre.  First we looked at the Wireless Communication Wall of Fame:

Here’s the paths of both the cabled  (from New Foundland to UK, as represented with the line with “dots/lights”) and the wireless (from Table Head, Glaze Bay) connections:

We could not go near this part of the exhibition because we didn’t want to disturb some interviews that were being recorded by some reps from the school:

Some communication chart on display:

Two senior citizens testing the Morse Code transmission (the computer was used to translate it back to our alphanumerics characters):

Some hands-on activity on Morse Code is available :-) :

Here’s the a better picture of the towers and the building in the middle (way back in 1902!):

What you could see above were loads of cables that connected the four towers to the building in the middle!

More information, in case you didn’t get it earlier:

More info:

I sincerely think we need to read more about this Marconi guy to appreciate what he had done to the world of  communications  (and the hurdles that he had to face). Without great guys like him, we may not have come this far!!

The centre doesn’t have any entrance fee, but we are encouraged to make some donation (which Ayi did).  Despite that, the staff are so warm and friendly while the displays interesting and informative, Hence I strongly feel nobody should miss visitting this place if he/she happens to be in Sydney, Nova Scotia!!

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Jun 15 2011

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12-Day Self-Drive Canada – Day 9 (Part II)

Date: 12th June 2011

Location:  Cape Breton National Park

As mentioned in the first part, we were not so lucky in Ingonish, so we tried Captain Mark’s office here in Pleasant Bay. Initially Captain Mark’s was our first choice, but realising that we were going to be late (we knew earlier about the last trip was scheduled at 2pm), we tried our luck in Ingonish, but there was no one at the office.

Anyway, we enquired at Captain Mark’s place, and was informed that the last trip had just left at 2pm (we arrived there at about 2.20pm). However, the lady at the office called Captain Mark himself, and we were informed that Captain Mark was free and had agreed to take us out to the sea!

So, about 15 minutes later, we found ourselves putting on the gear for the trip:

Soon, Captain Mark himself was ready, and obliged for our photo session:

When we went to the zodiac boat, we were greeted by  Captain Mark’s wife, Tina and their 3 kids! 

As we left the (artificial) bay or whatever you call it, I had some thoughts to myself – will we really see any whale?

As if he could read my mind, Captain Mark told us that he would make sure we see some whales before we come back. I asked him will there be any? He told us that while having breakfast that morning he saw some of the them (the whales)!

A bit of disgression – I was suddenly reminded of a story my former lecturer, Prof Les Berry, told us about  a similar scepticism by one of his foreign friends when they were taken to a national park in Australia. His friend earnestly asked him, “Les, are you really sure we are going to actually see some kangaroos??”

And here I was, in the zodiac boat, having the same thoughts, LOL!!

My scepticism died off the moment we saw some whales in a distance (no pic yet – we were too excited to shoot any!).

Here’s the first shot that DH got, with aina in it:

I bet Aina was also in awed when she saw this:

And finally I got my shot with a couple of humpback whales. This collage shows my excitement when I saw them:

We saw many minke whales, but they were just too fast for us to take any shot. They came to the surface, then immediately disappeared.

The humpback whales blew some air before they surfaced, so we were ready to get some of the shots. Appararently these whales have different patterns no the back of their tails – these patterns are likened to our finger prints, and are aptly called THEIR fingerprint. Shouldn’t we call then TAIL prints? :-)

Both DH and Ayi took somef videos too. Captain Mark sure knew how to manoeuvre the boat to get close view of the whales. He told us if we were in a bigger boat, we would not be able to go that close to the whales!

After having some nice “encounters” with the humpback and minke whales, Captain Mark took us to another spot, and told us that he was going to take us to see some pilot whales. Tina told us that these whales have “dolphin-like” feature and look like they are smiling.

We were pleasantly surprised to see so many of them:

We even managed to go this close to them:

and me too:

Even Captain Marks’ children were excited that day! After almost 2 hours in the sea, we finally headed back to the shore:

We certainly enjoyed the outing very much! Captain Mark and Tina know so much about whales and the place, and were very informative to us. Their hospitality too was superb! I would like to thank both of them for such excellent and educational outing. I certainly recommend them to anybody who wants to go whale-watching :-) !

For such an exciting outing, I needed to have a jump :-) :

After returning the gear, we moved on. At one of the many lookouts, we looked back at Pleasant Bay:

We looked at the road that we had to take:

and the one (behind) that we just took:

At one lookout, we came across this memorial plague:

We were almost at the end of our self-drive tour so a picture of me with the car was definitely long overdue:

We drove past more scarcely populated villages like this one:

As Captain Mark told us, many young people have moved to bigger cities. Nobody can blame them because here they are allowed to catch lobster only in May & June, and to catch fish and crabs for another couple of  months (I think he said June & July). Such enforcement had to be carried out to ensure sustainability of these creatures..

In the mean time, as we drove on, we just enjoyed the view:

We stopped att Chetticamp for an early seafood  dinner :-) (no pic).

We arrived back at our inn in Sydney, very satisfied!! One of the main missions of the trip (to see the whales) was accomplished!  

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Jun 15 2011

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12-Day Self-Drive Canada – Day 9 (Part I)

Date: 12th June 2011

Location:  Cape Breton National Park

The reason we stayed 2 nights in Sydney was because we wanted to visit the not so nearby Cape Breton National Park.

We left Sydney that morning, and had a little glitch, when somehow we took the wrong turn and ended up in a little town called  Sydney Mines.

While trying to find a suitable place to make a U-turn, we came across the old railway station which is still kept tidy:

A nearby mural showed how the place used to be in its glorious time:

We then continued our journey, in a very beautiful day:

We came across a Gaelic Colllege :-) :

and eventually we were face to face with the Atlantic Ocean. What better way to capture the moment than a romantic shot :-) with the great ocean in the background :

We drove on further until we came to the park check-point. While Ayi went to purchase the pass for us, DH took this shot:

With the pass on display on the car’s dashboard, we drove on, and had a few more encounters with seafront such as this:

I wanted to jump into the ocean but the water was too cold, so I settled for this:

And a rare photo shot with Ayi:

We came across a board that describes the migration of some of the common sea creatures (whales, dolphins, salmons, turtles and eels):

A nice but quiet sandy beach:

and a rocky one:

The little “stone island” in the picture above was full of birds, ans can be shown by this close-up:


Nice house by the water front (can you imagine how they are in winter?):

As we looked back at Ingonish town:

We wanted to enquire about the whale-watching trip, but only found one place that was open but left unmanned.

Quite disappointed, we moved on to Pleasant Bay.  Somewhere along the route, we came across a traffic light, or rather THREE traffic lights :-) :

More breath-taking view:

Lots of wetlands, for sure:

And some instant geography lesson:

One boat was from Halifax and the other from Charlottetown, but they met up here in Pleasant Bay:

to be continued…

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Jun 14 2011

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12-Day Self-Drive Canada – Day 8

Date: 11th June 2011

Point of Departure:  Halifax

Destination: Sydney, Nova Scotia

After spending 2 nights in Halifax, we finally bade goodbye to it.  Our next destination is the little-known Sydney. It was a fine but cool morning:

Along our journey,  we came across this signboard. “Malay Falls“?

Still baffled, we came across another sign:

We made a detour, and went into the village. It is a small village with only a few houses! There wasn’t even a general store to it…

We then continued with our journey. Another fine day for us:

Almost at the straight:

The bridge that connects Cape Breton to the rest of Nova Scotia:

A brief stop at the Welcome Centre of Cape Breton:

Nice poster:

We moved on. Suddenly many signages have the Gaelic version too:

The place sounds more complicated in Gaelic:

This was a welcoming sight, for sure:

We saw out accomodation (Quality Inn) along the way but decided to have a look at the town. We came across the lankmark of Sydney:

My jump:

Nice location for the Giant  Fiddle:

Its own “Harbour Bridge” :-)

We then checked into the inn, after which DH went to take a shot of the sunset:


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Jun 13 2011

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12-Day Self-Drive Canada – Day 7 (Part II)

Date: 10th June 2011

Location:  Peggy’s Cove & Lunenberg, Nova Scotia

After the great lunch at Peggy’s Cove, we headed further west (or was it south west?). Here’s the last view of Peggy’s Cove:

We stopped by at this place:

It’s the memorial site of the Swiss Flight 111:

We were not the only visitors at that time:

229 men, women and children perished in that fateful accident:

It was the locals of Peggy’s Cove who helped a lot on the discovery of the bodies:

We left the memorial site to visit this place, Mahone Bay, founded in 1754:

One of the houses by the bay:

Wow, a quilt shop! Unfortunately it was alreaady closed:

But there’s another outlet that opened till 8pm:

A shot after a quick “stashing” :-) :

Satisfied, we pushed on to our final destination for the day, Lunenberg:

It’s a World Heritage Site:

Simple and modern-thinking layout:

Credits must go to the founders of the place, who braved their way all the way from Europe:

Nice evening stroll:

There were not many people:

except those who came out looking for dinner:

We were still full (from the heavy late lunch at Peggy’s Cove), so we continued our stoll:

Cool evening sunshine:

This house is unique:

because it’s the oldest house in Lunenberg:

Other cute houses:

We went to the harbour, and saw this vessel that had just came back from a tour:

I came to know about Bluenose:

And a memorial for the brave fishermen of yesteryears:

We finally left the little town. On our way out, we saw another lankmark of the place, St John’s Anglican Church, which was founded in 1753:

Lunenberg  Academy:

We soon stopped at a Tim Horton’s, to get some coffee and headed back to Halifax…


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Jun 13 2011

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12-Day Self-Drive Canada – Day 7 (Part I)

Date: 10th June 2011

Location: Halifax & Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia

That morning we started the day by going into downtown Halifax.

First destination was The Citadel, at the top of the hill:

After some rough calculation, we decided to give the Citadel (like a meseum inside) a miss. Instead we went down to the Pier:

We saw some nice ships, like this one,  docked there:

Saw a passing one too (military, for sure):

Is that an artificial wave?

It’s a good place to avoid the chilly wind:

Came across the ferry terminal too:

What’s this?

Some kind of funny looking city-hopper!

It goes into the water too, no wonder!!

I wanted to get a ride in one of those, but at Cad$25, it’s a bit too pricy for me :-( . Instead we walked around the area, and came to this old part of the pier ,called The Historic Properties:

(Parking) Time was running out, so we headed back to our car, passing by some old interesting-looking buildings:

A lighthouse in the middle of a roundabout?

We left the Pier (we also gave the Maritime Meseum a miss), heading towards somewhere interesting. As we were leaving Halifax, we saw a British legacy – cricket game!

WE drove passed a few coves like this one:

and this:

We came across a warning:

but eventually we reached the place, Peggy’s Cove:

Isn’t the place breath-taking?

Lobster cages:

Another light house (saw a few during our PEI outing just 2 days earlier):

Never short of warnings:

The view from the rocks near the lighthouse:

And the left side view as I turned by back to the light house (and the sea):

It’s time to get some chow at the restaurant:

There were many posters inside the building, but this one is a sad reminder of how unforgiving the sea can be:

There’s a souvenir shop and a restaurant inside the building. See what greeted us at the entrance of the restaurant:

Special placemat and tools for those who ordered lobster:

And a special bib too!!

Finally the dish came:

But that was for DH! I only ordered some vegy burger and baked potatoes :-)

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Jun 12 2011

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12-Day Self-Drive Canada – Day 6 (part II)

Read the first part here if you’ve missed it.

Before we proceeded to Halifax, Nova Scotia, our stop was at Joggins Fossils Centre:

I paid for the family rate entrance fee, thinking that it was for the entrance to the fossil area, not realising that I had paid for the entrance to indoor the exhibition:

Since it was a working day, the centre was pretty empty, but we enjoyed the exhibition:

It’s very educational and I could see that they tried their best to make the exhibits entertaining too :-) :

As I was about to discover that the exhibition was mainly indoor and didn’t lead to any outdoor fossil, a staff came to me asking if we wanted a guided tour of the beach area. I immediately said yes!

So we had to pay additional Cad$15 (plus tax) on top of over Cad$20 earlier. DH said it was OK because we helped the upkeeping of the centre.

So we got a young lass who introduced herself as Chris, to guide us:

First she explained that the building is environmentally friendly, sourcing at least 60% of its power supply form the nearby windmill and the solar panels on the roof:

She als said that the building collects rainwater for flushing the toilets.

Here’s the view of the water front that we were going to:

This path could be slippery in winter, when the stairs are wet (& frozen):

Clear reminder of what NOT to do:

We were lucky as it was low tide time. During high tide, the water would come very close to the cliff, as can be seen from the water mark here:

Crossing the “river”, as Chris referrred to it:

Layers of sedimentary rocks:

Chris showed us how to look for a fossil, and here’s an animal paw:

a close-up:

Here’s a tree trunk fossilised in the rock:

The place was very huge. We later found out that we could just come down here without payingg any fee for a guide. It’s a free place for anyone to explore. However, if we were to explore on our own, how would we find the tiny fossils? We wouldn’t know, would we??

After our 30 minutes were up, Chris went back to the centre, leaving us behind to wonder around:

I found some fossilised tree barks(no pic) , and got excited:

More info on the place:

Chris told us that there are more fossils in the rocks on the other side of this (far end)cliff, but we had to leave:

Ample warning too:

As we walked back to the centre, we saw an interesting traffic notice:

We continued to enjoy the indoor exhibition before we decided to leave the place, but not without a photo at the entrance:

I just have to see the UNESCO World Heritage Site logo :-) :

We then drove on to Halifax…

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Jun 11 2011

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12-Day Self-Drive Canada – Day 6 (part I)

Date: 9th June 2011

Point of Departure: Bathurst, New Brunswick,

Destination: Halifax, Nova Scotia

I think this is the first time we had a photo of us having breakfast:

The breakfast was simple but enough to survive us until we found our lunch :-)

Here’s a view of the hotel facade, taken just before we continued our journey:

Ayi was kind enough to direct DH to my first “fabric stashing” destination, The Fabric Cupboard:

Half an hour later I left the place pretty contented :-) :

We took the highway again and before long we saw the welcoming sign:

Like other days earlier, it is almost mandatory to stop at the Welcome Centre – to get more information and maps too!

I have to say that Nova Scotia has one of the most interesting welcome centres. Here’s the welcoming sign way before we exited the highway:

They must be proud of their many (and mostly historical) lighthouses:

Note that the Nova Scotia flag has the Scottish flag as part of it! Well, Nova Scotia means “New Scotland” anyway…

(history later, if I remember to write anything about it)

While busy with our own photoshots, we saw the “Walk For Nations” team passed by:

The Welcome Centre is definitely very educational:

We found ourselves reading most of the information available:

There are plaques of infomation along this long corridor:

As we entered the Welcome Centre building, we were greated with more brochures on what ot see and do in the region:

Nice poster about whales too:

Satisfied with the borchures/maps that we had collected, we decided it’s time to move on.

We saw another beautiful spot as we were leaving and i just had to oblige for another photo shoot:

We stopped at the nearby historical Amherst for a quick chow. I was definitely happy to see this sign:

Yes, the lobster season had started, and McD is offering McLobster as one of the dishes. This dish can only be found in the Maritime regions :-) .

Sumptous but pricy McLobster:

Like other McD outlets, this one has many posters to remind us of the season:

to be continued…

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Jun 10 2011

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12-Day Self-Drive Canada – Day 5

(Day 4 is postponed, because I haven’t got any pic yet)

Date: 8th June 2011

Destination: Prince Edward Island (PEI)

We left our nice hotel in Bathurst rather early. It was going to be another long day. Initially Ayi suggested we visit a quilt/fabric shop in Miramichi, but I said it was OK to give it a miss for now..

I have to say that Canada is not so signboard-friendly. There are less signage to get us around. Lucky for us, Ayi has got GPS on his BB.

After a while, we finally saw the sign that we were looking forward to:

Even before we left the mainland, we already saw some wetland patches, like this one;

As we “climbed” up the bridge:

Oh, now we could see the island:

Right after we passed the bridge, gift shops cum information centre awaited us:

“Tourist-eating lobster” instead of “lobster-eating tourist”?

We found a nice cafe, ordered some lobster burgers (what else?) and started to read the brochures/books we had just collected earlier:

A niceoutdoor (picnic) umbrella:

Yummy:

PEI is known for its potatoes. Even McCains has a factory here! PEI is also famous for its Anne of Green Gables, though I have to admit that I’ve read any of the stories (not that I can remember). There’s a shop here that offers you to dress up like Anne for Cad$2, and take as many photo as you wish :-) .

Before we left the place (satisfied with our early lunch), I had this shot:

This square-shape traffic light reminded of the ones we saw in Chemin de Roy a few days earlier! FYI, the amber is of diamond-shape :-) .

PEI is very green and scenic:

with well-manicured lawns:

We were lucky to have another beautiful day (despite storms brewing up in Toronto!):

A local church and its cemetery ground:

I wouldn’t mind owning such a house and it’s compound:

We passed by Charlottetown (the capital) but didn’t stop. We moved on to Prince Edward Island National Park, Greenich

Unfortunately the information centre was closed – ther national parks will  only open on 17th June!

We however could visit the nearby attraction:

A board-walk to the beach:

Pretty deserted beach:

but we enjoyed the walk:

Poster-perfect shot:

and environmental-friendly toilets:

Like Ayi & DH, I climed up the tower (refer to the earlier picture above)

It was worth the climb;

On our way back to the car, I spotted these wild flowers that looked so similar to buah kemunting. Our kemunting shrubs grew near the coasts too ;-)

We soon left the place, heading towards Rustico. On our way there we came across this wide-bodied vehicle :-) :

I read one of the brochures, and was informed that there’s a lighthouse near St Peter’s Bay. DH drove until we came across dirt road! I volunteered to walk there to check:

Beautiful wetlands:

then wide beach:

When I almost gave up, I finally saw a little lighthouse in the horizon:

After enjoying the breeze for a while, we moved:

until we came into North Rustico – a fishing village:

We spotted another lighthouse:

and a local restaurant:

We ordered fish/lobster and chips there :-) .

On our way home, we saw a fox:

Tired, but reluctant to leave PEI. We had to pay toll on our way out!

There was no toll when we came in earlier. Is that a gentle way of PEI welcoming us to come, but asking us not to leave? :-) . If only we had more time… It would be lovely to be able to spend a night or two here in PEI, but we just had to move on.

The confederation bridge:

It was difficult to say goodbye, but we had too.. The mainland awaited us:

About 2 hours later arrived at our hotel in Moncton, tired but satisfied :-) .

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