Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Halifax and the Titanic

"O Canada!  Our home and native land!"; I love the Canadian National  Anthem.  When I listen to at hockey games, I have always felt amazement for this country called Canada.  Although I have visited Canada many times, this is our first trip to the eastern Atlantic of this great country.

For our second stop in our ocean cruise of eastern Canada, we stop in Halifax, Nova Scotia or Latin for New Scotland.  Halifax is a big city of 400,000 with almost half the population of Nova Scotia.   It is a surprising that you do not hear more about this dynamic harbor city on the North Atlantic.

First, we wandered to the Atlantic Maritime Museum which is famous for its Titanic Exhibit.  This museum that explains the maritime revolution from sailing ships to modern ocean-going vessels. Halifax played a major role in the recovery efforts during the Titanic sinking 1912.  On display are various artifacts from the ship that were recovered from the debris field.  The city also contains burial grounds of the 2nd and 3rd class passengers bodies that were recovered and then buried in the city.  Along the Waterfront is the building that housed the sound stage for the movie The Titanic.

A major exhibit at the Maritime Museum was on the Halifax explosion which destroyed the city in 1917.  It was at the time a major worldwide news event that reshaped the City of Halifax.  On the morning of 6 December 1917. SS Mont-Blanc, a French cargo ship fully loaded with wartime explosives, collided with the Norwegian vessel SS Imo in the Narrows, a strait connecting the upper Halifax Harbor to Bedford Basin.  The blast was the largest known conventional explosion at the time.  The explosion vaporized the water in the harbor causing a mini tsunami with new seawater rushing into the harbor to replace it.  It immediately killed close to 2500 people rendering another 31,000 homeless.  Every building within a half a mile was destroyed.

Next, we walked to the Citadel also called Fort George which is the old British garrison fort that dominates the high ground above the city.  We watched the changing of the guard before we were off to the Halifax Public Gardens.  An old British Victorian Garden that still in mid-October was full of flowers

From the Cruise ship terminal the waterfront walk gives you a great feel for the city and the Fort George.  You could spend a whole day here at the shops and restaurants. We went to lunch at Murphy's Cable Wharf on the waterfront, it had some great seafood.  This whole city has an unbelievable seafaring feel to it, more so than any other bay town that I have been to.

Throughout our tour of Halifax, the presence of the Canadian Royal Navy was felt.  They are the largest employer in Halifax and the Navy yard dominates the northern part of the harbor.   There are several memorials to Canadian Royal Navy sailors on the waterfront.  Halifax what a great city.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

A Day In St John New Brunswick

The first thing the tour guide said was this is a Canadian Loyalist City.  Loyal to the Crown of the England.   It seems after the American Revolutionary War 70,000 Tory Americans came to St. John to remain in the British Empire.  They wanted you to be aware of this fact.
 Geographically the city sits on the Fundy Bay at the mouth of the St John river which flows upstream when the tide rises.  The 28-foot tidal rise is one the largest in the world.

The third stop on our Cruise Adventure is a great experience.  My favorite part of the tour is the downtown City Market built in 1876, oldest city market in North America, with an original ship's hull roof design.   A city is once known for its wooden ship building industry with 42 shipyards which collapsed when ships started to be made out of steal.

St John is also home to the Red Rose Tea and Mouse Head Beer both world Famous.  St John is largely a company town built by the multi-billionaire Irving Family who established the Paper Industry and the Oil Refining Industry in St. John.  2 out of the 3 jobs in this city work for this family.

St John is often called the Canadian Irish City when over 150,000 Irish trying to escape the Potato Famine in England immigrated into the City in the 1830's.  Partridge Island was used as a quarantine station just offshore from Saint John.

Before heading back to we had lunch at Billy's Seafood in the old city market the seafood chowder was outstanding.  Well, it is back to the ship and a day at sea before we arrive in Newfoundland at Halifax.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Portland Maine a Walk Up to a Signal Station

Well we left Boston on Sunday for a 7 day cruise to Maine and Canada.  It is our first cruise so I’m still undecided on how much I like this.  I’m used to making my own decisions when traveling, not being locked into any set schedule. 

So far so good! Our first stop was Portland Maine.  It was neat to wake up the next morning and be in a completely different state and city.  After a good breakfast we headed out to see the city, which was in easy walking distance.

Like most cities the downtown has made a tremendous come back, with plenty of shopping and restaurants in Portland.   We first walk up to the Portland Observatory which is the only free standing naval signal station left in the United States.  It looks like a lighthouse but it is not.  Its mission is to communicate with vessels off shore.  This was the method used before radio communications, with flags and Morris Code.

For lunch it was Lobster Rolls and fresh steamers at a great local hole in the wall called J Oysters.  It is why I wanted to Visit Maine for the great seafood.  So after a bowl of Haddock Chowder we were ready to head to the old port part of the city and then back to the ship.

As the ship pull out of Portland harbor it felt good to have been here.  Well off to Bar Harbor, but first our formal dinner. 


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Riding Tennessee Counties: A Place Stuck in Time Alternate US 70: Milan to Waverly

This is a collection of roads that I have ridden throughout Tennessee.  Here is a small sample of the best roads between the Mississippi River and Bristol.  These roads are a must to achieve Motorcycle nirvana in Tennessee.

This road takes you to a different time.    Bypassed by the major interstates it seems time has stopped in these towns.  Leaving Milan which is known for its Army Ammunition Plant we turn onto Alternate US Highway 70 we follow a winding road to Huntington Tennessee the County seat of Carol County.  With a population of 3,900 it is your above average Tennessee small town,  We stop for lunch and I ask the waitress, what is Huntingdon famous for?  Her answer was the Mustangs the High School Football team.  A 1A football program that has won a championship or two in the past.   With a standard southern downtown, with a picturesque Courthouse, town square, and standard old time movie theater Huntington is a symbol of the past.

We continue our ride to Camden where we cross the Tennessee River which is flowing into Kentucky Lake.  After crossing to river we arrive in Waverly another small southern Tennessee Town. We then turn north onto Tennessee 13 for the final push home to Clarksville.

A Day in Boston

What can I say about Boston?   It was a great experience.  I wish I had visited sooner.   Although we only spent 2 nights and a full day here we saw and walked a lot.  The freedom trail should be on everyone’s bucket list.  A 2.5 mile is a walk through American History.  The Paul Revers house, the site of the Boston Massacre, Bunker Hill, the USS Constitution it’s all here and more.

The city is much different now that the big dig is over with.  All of the freeways have been moved underneath the city.  This gives the city a park-like atmosphere.  It is hard to imagine what it was like when those freeways were above ground.   

We stayed right across from Faneuil Hall where Samuel Adams read the Declaration of Independence on 18 July 1776.  Near the Union Oyster House a restaurant that opened in 1826 and the Tavern across the street in continues operation since 1795. The Faneuil Quincy Market is a large open-air Mall with a great food court surrounded by modern shops. 
Man do they love there Cannoli’s after dinner at Durgin Park we walked up Hanover street in the heart of little Italy.  The line to Mikes Pastry was out the door and halfway down the block.  

We must get back here and see more of the city.  It was a great time we must come back for a Sox’s game at Fenway.  Oh so much to do so little time.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Riding Tennessee Counties: A Short Nervous Trip to Kentucky and a RiverRoad.

Here is a collection of roads that I have ridden as part of the Harley-Davidson Directors Challenge. The challenge was to ride as many Tennessee Counties as possible in 2015.   I have completed all 95 Tennessee Counties over the course of the last, spring, summer, and fall. Here are a sample best roads between the Mississippi River and Chattanooga.  These roads are a must to achieve Motorcycle Nirvana in Tennessee. Note these ride entries will be published periodically.

This ride starts in Union City Tennessee crosses into Kentucky to Hickman.  I always feel nervous about going to Kentucky, just because it's Kentucky.   Once in Kentucky, the road runs south along the Mississippi River to Tiptonville; finally ending up in Dyersburg.   Don't feel too nervous about being in Kentucky they've come along way in the last few days.

Leaving Union City to take TN 5 to Hickman.  Once in Hickman Kentucky which includes magnificent views of the Mississippi, we take Kentucky 94 towards Tiptonville.  Crossing back into Tennessee the road turns into Tennessee Highway 78.   Riding along Highway 78 you realize that this is a river road.  You continue to Tiptonville the County seat of Lake County.   The site of the infamous Battle for Island Number 10 and Grants fight for the Mississippi.   It is then on to Dyersburg you are in the low country crossing muddy streams that feed the muddy river.  This road gives you a glimpse of the old cotton South, passing fields with dirt left by a mighty river.   This ride lets you know we are a muddy river nation.