Monday, January 2, 2017

the day the music died

Our blog trailed off in mid-sentence somewhere in Maine in late June.  I first blamed the little tiff between Apple and Google that sent my  favorite Blogsy App into despair and eventual oblivion (and one less tech-savvy writer into mild hysterics.)   It might have been the niggardly data plan we had  in Canada or maybe that gifted Bloggers like Pilgrimage to Here,  and  Watsons Wander were traveling the same paths and reporting brilliantly. Whatever the reasons, the travelogue with pictures faded away. 

We have always shied away from shining too much light on the folks we engage on the road while maintaining that it is those people and their stories that light up our lives. Thinking back over a month in the Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, spectacular park lands, warm citizens and tasty treats, it is still the Stories that we treasure above all. Here are a few guarded glimpses into lives we admire, people we met and a couple we did not engage and wish we had.

Mostly Airstreamers 

Last year's flood on the Cheticamp River destroyed half of the campground in the The Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Because it is far up the Sunrise Trail, the staff is very solicitous of indolent slugs like us who arrive without reservations.  They found us a tiny but usable site in the tenting area and proximate to the kids playground (which thrilled Patty.) We had barely unlimbered the camp chairs when the Airstreamers began to drop by. 

Ella Brown came by and had us in hysterics within seconds.  She and trick dog Charlie Button gathered a crowd as she reprised her totally unsanctioned performance at the Wally Byam International Rally pet show. She told us about that rally in flood-ravaged West Virginia and the generous outpouring of dollars and volunteer help provided by our  Airstream friends and a little about the totally internet based  We-don't-need-no-stinkin-paper NOVA unit. Long may they prosper.

In the assembled crowd was Laine Carpentier. Now Laine won't blurt this out, but she is one of the most famous and beloved creators of Teddy Bears in the world. As we shared some of our trailer hauling, craft show gypsy lives, some few hints emerged of a long life following dreams and seizing adventures.  Husband Bob filled in more details as he pulled in next morning with a fifteen foot Salmon rod anchored across the hood and windshield.

 "You know, I've caught 16 pound Salmon in  that little stretch just 70 yards from this campsite." 

The Cheticamp and especially the nearby Margaree are famous salmon rivers, luring fishermen from around the globe. Bob paged through his Fish Book -- pictures of big fish and big name fishermen from over his 20 years fishing here -- and momentarily took a call from buddies on the river about the fish they caught while he was sharing his time with us.  Into the mix were the highlights of their lives together -- commercial fishing all up the Pacific coast, an adolescence in the midst of the first surfing boom, developing lands near Aspen grub staking a free life, multiple Airstreams, an inordinate amount of bragging about his talented mate, heartaches and medical crisis and plans for the future.  On the last page was his Honorable Discharge; he would not want to be confused with Americans who crossed the border under a cloud.

In the crowd that first night was Stacy whose sparkling white Argosy immediately caught our eye.  It was just as bright inside, accented with bright colors and touches that proclaimed her creative insight and experience.  This is just one of several little trailers that she has restored "but this one is a keeper.  We have space for everyone in here." 
She was camping here while the two kids attended the French Language summer camp.  We were in instant grandparent mode.  There was a birthday party for Stacy with camping friends and we all trooped over for the school's evening recital (which would be entirely in French !!) 
HE shifted side-wise into the seat in front of us -- thirty-ish, slight of build, dark, with a short curly beard. I ventured a bon soir. He smiled shyly and looked back to his wife surrounded in the aisle. 
SHE wore a traditional scarf binding her hair, but nothing could mask the radiant smile she exchanged with a succession of well wishers.  She clasped hands warmly with the women, nodded appreciatively to the men whose faces popped up in the wall of bodies. Fluent French, halting English in torrents. Welcomes from the stocky ruddy-faced fishermen, effusive praise for her dress from his sturdy wife, "Your children are lovely" from the sleek sophisticated woman in French ..."so nice to see you..."
When she settled into her seat and exchanged a smile with her somewhat ill-at-ease husband, he cut his eyes to the old folks sitting behind.  Yet another radiant smile.  

The smiles and greetings continued through intermission and nearly closed down the aisle as we exited.  We were left in the joyous wake, marveling at the acceptance these Syrian newcomers found in this isolated, not-so-cosmopolitan little village. This, you will remember, was the summer of 2016 when a miasma of hate had found voice in America and everywhere we went in Canada new friends politely tilted their heads quizzically waiting for an explanation... 

Much later, I  stumbled on a survey of Canadians asked what characteristics made their country unique.  Canadians answered Diversity more frequently than Hockey. 



  1. Al . . . what a pleasure to meet you and Pat at the WHEELER NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE on Saturday Jan 14. I really like the stories and photos you have posted on your blog. Take a peek at my posts from Saturday . . we have traversed some of the same places. Safe travels to you & Pat.
    Post for the Whooping Crane Post for the Sandhill

    Travel along with me!

  2. Hi Denise,
    We had some fun didn't we? Our ears are still ringing from the Sandhills "choir"! The best part of these travels is always the stories we hear from new friends. We will be following along. Al & Patty

  3. You may not remember us...we met you while camping (JuneBugJourneys) at St. Joseph in Florida. Anyhoo...I'm thrilled to see you mention Ella of SilverMineAndHis...we see them every year at our compound at the Indy 500. In fact we enjoyed seeing Charlie the trick dog this year!!