Trip Details

In 2005 we drove out to Anapolis Royal to attend the CanIron conference where DARC was presenting an iron smelt. Overall a very enjoyable trip hitting a number of provinces. It is a little hard reconstructing all of the details but we did want to add a trip page for this trip too.  Feel free to ask us questions - Karen is and Neil is

Saturday Aug 27th - Home to Lake Placid

Oh, this is the life! Laptop and an internet connection in a hotel and blogging on the road.  It was a long drive, but once we hit the USA, the scenery was so interesting. Both human and natural. We crossed into the US ont he St.Lawrence Islands Park and headed across Route 3 with a plan of driving through the Adirondacks, White Mountains, Green Mountains, to Maine, and across the Bay of Fundy to Annapolis Royal.

Route 3 is a fascinating contrast in poverty and wealth. Mobile homes that aren't so mobile anymore next door to century old houses. So many not-so mobile homes...

The speed limits are different, even after the conversation from miles/per to kilometres/per. The common limits are 30, 45, and 55 miles/per. This translates to 50, 70 and 90 k/per. In Canada, the common speed limits are 50, 60, and 80 k/per. Not that anyone drives the limit in either country 'though. But driving over the limit in a familiar area is a little different then driving over the limit in a foreign country. I kept expecting a friendly State trooper to leap out from behind a bush somewhere.And driving 90 k/per in these twisting mountain roads - fun! Even if it does take too much attention away from the scenery at times. Fudge, handwoven baskets, leather artisans and blacksmiths - oh my!

Yes, we did manage to get through the cat and dog departures even if Ginger did try her hardest to guilt Karen out when we left her at the Cat Hospital for boarding.

There's a pool at the Holiday Inn in Lake Placid - an important feature in choosing a hotel - but we were too tired to use it. Just curled up in front of the tv and computer. Maybe in the morning.

Sunday Aug 28th - Lake Placid to Bangor

You would think Karen would sleep in on vacation. Neil did. But Karen found the bed too hard and the room too hot and missed her waterbed.  A 7am blog covered the 28th.

Day 2 started off fantastic. We had all this great scenery in and around Lake Placid. Mountains and water - two of Karen's favourite natural architectural features.

This is a river of unknown name near Lake Placid - just chanced upon by the road.

Where we found this little crayfish.

Jusr before the ferry crossing at Port Kent we happened across Ausable Chasm. I can't say the website amuses me but the chasm itself was impressive.


And then there was the ferry crossing from Port Kent to Burlington - invigorating! I kept trying to hide behind Neil from the water crashing over the front of the ferry and he kept laughing at me. He was really in his element.

Neil and Karen (who regrets what the wind has done to her hair but bravely posts the pic anyway) the sights on the way over.


But then the drive just got longer and longer and longer, until we finally crashed - an hour earlier then planned. By the time we were checked in, Karen was too exhausted to blog.

 Monday August 29 - Bangor to St. John

Today is a much shorter drive, and includes planned stops at a chocolate museum and aquarium - on the home side of the border. Back into Canada today. :)   Today was much much better! Driving-wise, that is. I'd have to say I found the sights just as fun as yesterday.

We crossed back into Canada around noon, and immediately around the corner in St. Stephens, we sat down to the quintessinal Canadian lunch - at a Tim Horton's. Just across the street from Tim's, there was The Chocolate Museum. "Presenting the story of brothers James and Gilbert Ganong, whose candy-making company built in the late 1800s continues today, the Museum offers hands-on exhibits, interactive computer displays that explain how chocolate and candies are currently made, collections of historic chocolate boxes and antique candy-making equipment." Samples were part of the tour. Delicious!  There was an obligatory Chocolatier store out front, of course. Karen didn't spend a cent. And if you believe that.... ;)

Then we moved on to St.Andrews where the Huntsman Marine Science Centre is located. We weren't allowed to take pictures at the Chocolate Museum but Karen got a few at the Science Centre.The seals were delightful. Chelsey, Buddy and Aurora are a small family. When the tourist season ends in two days, the young Aurora will either be moved to another Aquarium or introduced to the wild.




Buddy was a ham, showing off his swimming abilities...

...and lunging for the food.

A few other folks made the pics as well, but as you can no doubt tell, Buddy stole the show. :)

I leave you for a few days in the care of a few more friends from the Aquarium.


A small Ray of some sort...

Crab (again of unknown variety)


We spent the night in a Holiday Inn in St. John so we would be close to the ferry for the early crossing.  Dinner was a lot of fun.  A massively garlic flavoured seafood pasta for Neil that took days to work the garlic out of Neil's system - much to Karen's amusement..

Tuesday Aug 30 - St. John to Anapolis Royal

We took the ferry from Saint John to Digby, a 3 hour cruise. It was a delightfully short drive from Digby to Annapolis Royal, after we stopped at the Visitor Information station and picked up a few million pamphlets.

Annapolis Royal is very pretty, very historical, and quite cheerful about gouging the tourists.

There's no phone line available, at all, in our little hideaway housekeeping unit, so blogging will be spotty for a few days, until we move on to the next leg of the trip. The town library has internet access, so we can check in from here.

I can only hope the cell phone works in case someone from home needs us. The remaining bits of Hurricane Katrine is hitting our home in south-western Ontario right about now.

Wednessday Aug 31 - Anapolis Royal Historical Gardens 

Overcast or raining most of the day. Surprisingly, there was just enough of a window in the afternoon to make it to the Historical Gardens after all. And Karen took pics, of course. It's a big ol'garden - whatever else could she do? :) Mind you, there are a million more pictures but she narrowed it down to just these few.

Oh, and we can play a guessing game. For most of these, I haven't the foggiest what it is, so please feel free to let me know.

Blue something and white something.

Blue something and yellow something.

Love Lies Bleeding - this one I know! It's very distinctive.

Pretty things...identified as Cosmos by Diana and Jamie. :)

Water Garden...

Thursday September 1 - Smelting

This was the point of getting us here, to this place. The Dark Ages Recreation Company, of which we are a part, had a specialized smelting team out at CANIron, a Canadian conference for blacksmiths from North America and Europe. Neil and I followed our hardy smelting crew out to take pictures and document the process.

The day started at 9am and finished at 9pm, more or less. The historical smelt was an abject failure. *sigh* We've had successes before with the process, but this time, the team made a fatal mistake. They tried too hard. The team made the smelter *too* good, *too* much able to handle heat. They used a highly refractory clay and added kyonite to the mix as well. Apparently the process actually depends on part of the smelter breaking down and contributing sand to the slag bowl that should form at the bottom of the smelter, for the heat to reflect back and help the iron solidify and sit in the bowl. No smelter breakdown, ore that was too pure (and hence didn't have enough slag of it's own to contribute) = no slag pool, not enough heat for the bloom to solidify. Now, there was a bloom and the removal and hitting therof makes for great pictures but that came only after they gave up on the historical process and added an electric blower.

But first, the shoreline of Annapolis Royal on the morning of the smelt.

Before the smelt got started, we needed to have the ritual Jiffy Pop over the smelter as the pre-heat took place... that's our erstwhile leader Darrell, doing the honours.

More details then you could ever want about the process of iron ore smelting in the Viking Era are available on the DARC webpages, under Iron, so we'll just give you some highlights here.

With a lot of hard labour pumping the bellows....

...the smelting process gets started - iron ore is added, alternating with charcoal.

Skipping ahead a few hours of bellows pumping and adding stuff and monitoring the smelter (by the sound of it, and the glass runoff), the boys decided that they had failed this time around. And after some discussion, they even came up with a good reason for the failure.

So....they added an electric blower to compensate...

...finally got the glass slag runoff they were looking for...

...and eventually came up with a bloom...

...which Kevin and Mark proceeded to beat in order to consolidate it.

The final product, last seen below, is much smaller and compact then it comes out of the smelter.

When we woke up the next morning, we had found that someone had stolen the bloom! We think it was the Weird Guy (there's one at every exhibition, it seems), since he disappeared that morning as well. But how disappointing is that?

Friday September 2 - Tours, and Forging competitions

We spent the day watching the forging contest DARC sponsored.  Setting modern blacksmiths up with hand powered bellows, rocks or tiny metal blocks for anvils and charcoal for heat.  Much fun!

Also got a tour of some of the local historicl buildings with the local museum curator and Dr. Wallace.  Neither of us is all that familiar with the Acadian history but this was one of the very first settlements in Canada.

Maggie - a friend of a friend, whom we met in Annapolis Royal

Saturday September 3 - Anapolis Royal to Prince Edward Island

A drive up and a ferry across to PEI a province Neil hadn't been in before.  Spent the night in a hotel near Charlottown.

Sunday September 4 - Price Edward Island to Grand Falls New Brunswick

This is the best view I could get while crossing the PEI bridge. Karen was very disappointed. It's the longest bridge in Canada, possibly the world, and it's got those damn concrete barriers for walls. Karen couldn't even get a decent view of the bridge itself from the shore.

Once back on the mainland we stopped at London Wul the people were wonderful to talk to, the dogs delightful, a natural dyes garden, and a great selection of all things fiberish.  Karen talked and shopped.  Neil focussed on the puppy.  Then we proceeded to the Bay fo Fundy a first for both of us (not counting a few days earlier of course...)  We stopped at Hopewell Rocks arriving as the tide was dropping.  It was fun to compare the photos taken when we arrived, and those just before we left.

We finished the day at Lakeside Lodge in Grand Falls.  A Spa tub with lots of hot water and jets and lakeside view = good thing.  Karen was much relaxed.

Monday  September 5 - Grand Falls to Brockville

It was a very very very long day of driving. All the way from just-before-Quebec to just-after-the-province-that-doesn't-want-the-rest-of-us.  Stopping at a hotel just across the border back in Ontario 

Tuesday September 6 - Brockville to Home

We finally pulled in mid-afternoon today. After several discussions along the way about stopping at various fun places like Cullen Gardens, Black Creek Pioneer Village, Richters Herbs or Ikea, because the opportunity was there, because we had the time... we both decided that we just wanted to get home.  Of course that also meant that we had to stop to get the dog, the cat, dinner stuffs from Zehrs, and the mail. But we finally made it.  The drive home from a vacation is always the toughest part.

Here is a link to a google map for this trip.  Gotta love Google!