Tuesday, October 15, 2013

meanwhile, back in july...

i think i promised you that i was going to tell you about the roadtrip to nova scotia, but all i did really was post the video and the pictures and some snarky comments about american tourists.

we took two days to drive to halifax, stopping in maine because while you CAN drive for sixteen hours in a day and wait at the border crossing for an hour, why would you do that to yourself on purpose?

so we stopped on the way (both ways) at cobscook bay state park in maine, which is a very lovely park and if you're inclined to clamming, the limit you can pick in a day (and they will lend you the clam rake and a bucket) is a peck.

we were just staying there; no clamming for us.

but good to know.

we got to our campground near halifax in the mid afternoon and after we set up camp we went into halifax to check out the roads and parking and stuff.

you know, because if you're just tooling around a strange city it's all good no matter where you go but if you have tickets to a thing or need to get somewhere and park on a timetable it can be stressful getting around.

it turns out that halifax is a city with no parking. there is not one municipal parking lot or parking garage anywhere in the city.

there is a parking lot at the citadel, but you can only use the citadel parking lot if you buy museum admission and pay the parking fee. and they lock the gate when the museum closes. this would be tremendously expensive and impractical if you weren't going to the museum, but since we are planning to go to the museum, what we learn from our happy conversation with the museum lot security guard is that once we have paid for citadel admission and parking, they do not give a flying fig if we continue to use our parking space while we go elsewhere in halifax, so long as we are out of the lot before they lock the gate.

the guard says specifically that while he will come and let us out if we miss the gate closing, he would prefer it if he did not have to do this.

ok, so we have a plan.

and then we tool around the drive on the top of the citadel, and i am sure there will be a geocache or two up there and looking at my map i can tell there are a handful of them, but then i'm trying to transfer the data to my GPS and all i'm getting are corrupted files or no transfers at all and i'm fiddling with all that and some people come by and they are talking about the fireworks.

" excuse me, i don't mean to eavesdrop", i tell them, "but did i hear you say fireworks?"

why, yes. there are going to be canada day fireworks from here tonight at ten and this will be the perfect place for us to see them from.

but wasn't canada day last week?

well, yes. but the weather was bad and they postponed.

and then the people tell us that what we really should do is come on the citadel ghost tour with them.

they're a large bunch from saskatchewan celebrating a family anniversary and it's all paid for. they are crazy and generous, inviting the two strangers from the parking lot along.

and it is spectacularly cool, walking the old fort by lantern light.

every old place has its share of creepy stories told by the night watchmen. in my college years i worked as a night watchman in a perfectly modern building and it could sometimes be disturbingly creepy.

so if you compile a list of night watchman's tales and juxtapose them with the sorrows of an old fort and tell the stories by candle lantern, it's the kind of creepy where all the little hairs on the back of your neck go up.

plus the tour guide is a re-enactor in period dress and he has to know that just by walking at the head of the group in his measured pace, he is easily the most creepy thing about it. nobody really wants to be the first person behind him in the line.

we get done the tour just as the fireworks are starting. they are very lovely.

and then in the morning we return to the fort by daylight and there are all kinds of interesting demonstrations of riflery and bagpipes and fifes and drums and the firing of the noon gun.

the sentry at the front gate is standing too much in the shade for me to get a good picture, so when i ask her if she can take a step out, she does ...


and then after  a pause, she makes a smart about face, paces her round and on the return trip lands in the sunlight just perfectly for my picture.

very clever.

we have a picnic on the lawn and then after a little while it is time to go to the tattoo, which is the ostensible purpose of the trip.

do you know it? the royal nova scotia international tattoo?

it is so mind-bogglingly spectacular that i have only one picture from inside the metro centre because to stop and photograph it would have been to disturb the unceasing sensory bombardment of massed choirs, military bands, acrobats, pipe bands, races, dancing, and trick bicycle riding.

there was also a lot of other stuff.

and it just comes at you in waves and waves of sound and color and i just sat there, slack jawed, and occasionally crying a little.

here are some video clips of it just so you can get an idea of what i'm talking about here:

the naval gun race - this commemorates the victory of the HMS shannon over the USS chesapeake

official promo

massed bands salute

hamburg police motorcycle display team

canadian armed forces obstacle race


you get the idea.

afterward, we drove to a campsite in new brunswick.

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