Saturday, August 10, 2013

Herding Cats Part 2

When we last heard from our feline heroes, they had just arrived at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick. The campus was lovely and was situated in the middle of downtown (although, Sackville is quite small and downtown quickly becomes the edge of town). I'm not sure what style the buildings were, but whatever it was, it was photogenic.

After checking into rooms and semi-unpacking, some of us went exploring (and running on the track to get loosened up). There was a waterfowl park on the edge of the campus that wondered through bulrushes and over a large lake/pond and through the birch trees. It was especially beautiful at sunrise, just watch out for vampires masquerading as mosquitoes. I spent a lot of time here in the afternoon after dancing all morning. A trail ran through the park and by way of a detour crossed over the highway and continued on indefinitely through "Middle Sackville" and beyond. Saturday was the only chance I had to really explore this trail and that wasn't for as long as I would have liked. It was mostly farmland all along the way with church steeples peeping over the trees.

Our week at Mount Allison wasn't nearly long enough, but at least it was very scenic while we were there. And everyone knows kitty's love scenery.

Next up - cat herding to Prince Edward Island.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Herding Cats from Oregon to Prince Edward Island

I'm unclear as to the generally accepted method of herding cats. I would assume it involves a fair amount of cream and catnip. However, in the case of human cats, it can be a bit trickier. Recently, seven of us Scottish Country dancers took a crash course in cat herding as we traveled from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine and then on to New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island (or PEI for those who get tired of typing the entire name each time). The occasion for our travels was an annual event called Summer School that is put on by Teacher's Association of Canada, a large organization for Scottish Country dancers in North America. Each year Summer School is held in a different city. Last year it made its debut in the U.S. in Portland, Oregon and this year it was in the town of Sackville, New Brunswick.

The seven of us left Oregon early on a Thursday and arrived in Portland, Maine after what seemed like days later. Our plan was to tour parts of Maine and take our time driving from there to New Brunswick. The weather was not as cooperative as we would have liked that first day in Maine, and our trip to Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor got about as soggy as imaginable.

It was still beautiful though, and my poor camera got quite the bath as I kept taking it in and out of its case. The rain had come down so hard that waterfalls poured onto the street on the drive up to Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park. We weren't the only car to pull over to the side to take pictures of the cascading water as it rushed down to the road. Another stop in Acadia was Thunder Hole. Whenever the right-sized wave hits a particular inlet, the resulting sound is a thunder clap that makes the Fourth of July fireworks display seem tame by comparison. The waves were in full force that day with the rain storms and I had to admit that if it had been nice weather, I would have missed out on this awesome display of raw power.

After spending the day in the rain, it felt good to go back to the friend's house where were staying and dry off. Some decided it was the perfect excuse for a lobster feast and afterwards we all played a card game version of Scrabble (and of course quibbled over whether or not certain words were really words or not).

The next day it was off to Canada. We stopped several times along the way and at each stop our cat-like characteristics became more pronounced. It's amazing how quickly seven people can jump out of the car and head off in seven different directions. Getting us all corralled became increasing frustrating for the designated cat herder. One of the more interesting towns we stopped in was St. John. It had a mini-Pike Street Market there as well as a number of interesting buildings and places to explore. Our course took us along the Bay of Fundy and it was so hard to stay still in the car as the beautiful scenes flashed past. I took a number of shots through the windshield, and I'm sure everyone in the car was tired of hearing the clicking sounds of the camera every other second.

Soon we were at our rooms in Hillsborough, New Brunswick, that is after a brief argument with Google maps which insisted the motel was located somewhere on a dirt road. The motel was situated along the Chocolate River, which certainly lived up to its name. I took a walk early the next morning and the combination of the pinky brown of the river against the blue/gray sky was very striking. The next morning we traveled to Hopewell Rocks, located on the upper shores of the Bay of Fundy. These are unique rock formations that, depending on the time of day, can either be walked up to or kayaked around. We arrived just after the park opened and soon the place was abuzz with visitors. It was difficult to get shots without people and after a while I just gave up. The lighting was particularly flat and gray but it was still a lovely place to visit. Sunrise or sunset would be magical. From there we drove on to Moncton and then to Sackville where we checked in for our week long stay at Mount Allison University. It was an absolutely beautiful spot, which will be covered in the next installment. (insert cliff hanger music here)