Monday, June 9, 2014

Halifax, Day 1

I carped the diem out of today and I'm exhausted, that kind of awesome exhausted you get when trying to notice everything and feel things so you can remember them later.  I woke up this morning not feeling the greatest and for some reason, I didn't put it down to allergies till I heard a young woman in the gift shop at the maritime museum tell her friend she didn't know if she was coming down with a cold or if it was allergies.  My ear is a bit sore, my throat, and then my eye wouldn't stop watering.  It was annoying, but nothing I could do about it at the time.

I took ths morning easy, though there was the unfortunate discovery that in all three of the campground's bathrooms, no flushing was happening.  Whether this water issue was to blame for the trickle that they called a shower, I don't know, but at that point, I was too happy to be clean.  I'd set my electric kettle on to boil before I left, so it was ready for tea when I returned.  The morning was bright, sunny, and perfect for oatmeal and tea on the picnic table.  Moon Over Madagascar (vanilla) and it felt like a good morning for a spoonful of honey.  Not sure how I'd forgotten sugar on this trip, but I did.

I talked to the German couple who camped next to me last night in a Class C that took them three times to get settled--and I don't mean it took them three tries to back in, I mean, they backed in and then left, then came back half an hour later, backed in, then left, and came back half an hour later.  I have no idea what that was about.  But this morning, they were curious about the Scamp, so I gave them the five cent tour.  They were quite impressed.  Their Class C was rented and they'd driven up to Newfoundland and were bringing their camper back today.  Well, that explained why they hadn't put the jacks down or plugged it in...

I'd written down the directions to the Halifax Citadel via Google Maps (I really do miss Siri...) and hopped in the Jeep. Took me half an hour or so to get there and I actually drove right by it, trying to figure out how to get into it.  So I actually drove down to the waterfront and ran smack into the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, which seemed like a good place to start.  I paid my parking and my admission fee and started into the world of Halifax's maritime history.  For all that I have this drowning phobia, I am quite fascinated by ships and everything that surrounds them.  I only had two hours on my parking, so I scooted fairly quickly through some exhibits, lingered over the Arcadia, which is moored outside on the wharf and is a museum now (though it was closed, naturally).  I particularly liked the exhibit on The Age of Sail, which featured various representations of ships, from shadow boxes to ships in a bottle to paintings, as well as the artistry involved in figureheads and such.  Reminded me a lot of Grandpa, who "was such a little guy" that during WW2, he was the one to go up the masts of the Danmark...  I didn't expect to learn as much from the Titanic exhibit, simply because I am a Titanic freak and among other museums, I went to the Titanic extravaganza in Belfast last summer.  But I didn't remember how much effort Halifax put forth to rescue people and recover bodies and artifacts.  

And then the magnificent exhibit on the Mont Blanc explosion in 1917, which leveled a good chunk of Halifax. I still don't know how to put that experience into words, what that concussion must have felt like, entire families wiped out. It's a subject that I'm going to have to do much more research on.

I left the museum proper to walk the wharf, to see the Acadia and what else was there, and see what food could be had at one of the little shacks--and I tell you, a vegetarian could starve around here. So I did the responsible adult thing and got a beaver tail, which is a fried flatbread type pastry, mine with cream cheese and Heath.  In other news, at the museum gift shop, I bought a "Best Recipes of the Maritime Provinces" cookbook and I'm very antsy to try it out.  The family and I fly to Cannyfornia (Cora's term) to visit my dad's parents (and thanks to wifi, I found out that Grandmother fell and broke her hip a few days ago, and was in and out of surgery before I knew it had happened. She's 88 and not in the best of health, so I'm glad we're going. Anyway, I very well might be bringing this cookbook, and I hope I can convince my mother to bring her cast iron skillet in their camper, because I am not bringing mine on the plane (though I did consider it...).

I went to the Halifax Citadel next, quite the natural place for a fortifcation.  I enjoyed it, because I am a serious history geek, but even though one of the history exhibits was well worth its award hanging on the wall, it wasn't laid out in an intuitive way to wander around.  Maybe I should have made more of an effort to hop into one of the guided tours, but I was too late for both that happened while I was there.

Whether I would go to the natural history museum or to Fairview Cemetery next, it nearly came down to a mental flip of a coin whether I would skip the museum.  In the end, the museum won.  Natural history is incredibly important to me, because I very strongly believe that you cannot know who you are unless you know what is under your feet.  The photgraphy exhibit of the wild horses of Sable Island was magnificent and it was one of the many moments I wished my niece Cora was with me. She's four, whip smart, and she's very smart when it comes to animals.  She can identify birds faster than anyone (and I'm not talking robins and blue jays, I'm talking Cooper's Hawks and screech owls), and she would have really liked the taxidermied bird exhibit, considering we'd just gone to the Eagle Center before I left.  There was a lot of the museum that reminded me of the natural history museum in Dublin (aka The Dead Zoo), but I think it had to do with the era of the mounts, that uniquely Victorian feel to the gathering of knowledge.  

I was tempted by the cemetery across the street (conveniently located next to the Halifax Hospital, also labeled as the site of the historic Halifax Infirmary), but I got back in the Jeep and headed for Fairview Cemetery.

I didn't get lost, which was nice, and the Titanic gravesite was very well marked.  But what I didn't expect, as I got out of the Jeep, was to be affected by those who died in the Mont Blanc explosion.  It was the first stone I saw.  And then there was another one right next to it.  And another one.  "Killed in Explosion, 6 December 1917."  Individuals, young women, wives with children, husbands with children, it overwhelmed me.  Again, there's intellectual knowledge and then there is the other kind of knowing, the rasp of granite against your fingertips.

The Titanic gravesite was laid out in three curving rows, identical stones, some with names, some unidentified and left with just their date of death.  The stone for the one unidentified baby (who has since been identified) was decorated with toys, some quite new.  I remain fascinated by the practice of leaving things for the dead.

When I got back to my campsite, I saw that the empty campsite next to me had left half a bag of firewood behind, so I snagged it and decided to make myself a grilled cheese with my pie irons.  Again, it was green wood and ridiculous.  I'm about done trying to make fires with this stuff.  (And in the end, I burned my grilled cheese to a crisp so badly that it could not be salvaged, at all...)  But then, in the case of them who have and them who will, I had my first argument with my hatchet in all the six years I've owned it.  Gashed my left index finger fairly good.  On the bright side, I am now very, very familiar with how to handle these types of shallow V-shaped gashes--and it wasn't very deep, just like I'd tried to skin my finger.  I cleaned it up, got it to stop bleeding and then slapped some super glue on it.  Could have been a lot worse.

Tomorrow:  Peggy's Cove and Lunenberg!

1 comment:

  1. Good evening Karen~ Another interesting post we read about your adventures. So interesting to read how you are spending your days! Jeff and I continue to follow your blog on a daily basis and look forward to each new entry. Your pics are amazing! We also enjoy reading all the history you mention from the places you visit. We are anxious to get our little scamp out to Duluth a week from this Friday. We laughed when you said the German couple in the next site were interested in your scamp and how you gave them the 5 cent tour! Safe travels!