(C)  2002-2014 J. Watson       All rights reserved  
Travel Letters
 RV Travel notes from
      the traveling gran'ma and gran'pa
Vol 16  No 1                                                                                                                                                                                      June/July, 2006

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Index of travel letters
Dear Gals… Your guys …
Our grandchildren… our sisters

Haven’t heard from us in a bit, eh?  The reason – we
were home this winter.  As you can see we’re on our
way now.  It’s been slow, real slow – a lot of rain or
heavy fog delayed us because we usually don’t
travel unless it’s pleasant.  As you know, we only
have a sketchy itinerary, generally with no specific
dates, so we can’t tell you how delayed we are.  

Tell you what we’ve been up to.  We really weren’t
staying home all winter – there were a few places to
visit.  Before winterizing our home-on-wheels in
November we went to Charleston, SC to visit Patriots
Point, which we’d by-passed in the past.  It was a
worthwhile trip.  This is the location of three WW2
Navy ships – the USS Yorktown, an aircraft carrier;
the USS Laffey a highly decorated WW2 destroyer;
and a diesel submarine plus a Coast Guard cutter.  

It was tight living and working on the WW2 submarines

Fort Sumter National Monument, below, is located in
the Charleston harbor. This is where the Civil War
started.  The “Rebs” hammered it relentlessly for
several weeks before the Union forces negotiated a
surrender.  Forts of this type were made useless with
the development of rifled cannons that could
penetrate heavy masonry walls.  
Brookgreen Gardens
Fort Sumter National Monument
Huntington's home, the Atalaya, a 55 room mansion at Huntington State Park
USS Clamagore, diesel submarine
USS Yorktown

Towards spring, we re-visited the outstanding
Brookgreen Gardens, south of Myrtle Beach, SC and
just 100 miles from home.  This is the largest
outdoor display of sculptures in the US.  Each of the
five hundred plus statues is tastefully placed in a
garden setting.  The gardens started as an
outgrowth of Huntington’s private family collection.  
Mrs. Huntington, nee Hyatt of the hotel chain, was a
sculptor of some note and developed a collection.  
All pieces are by US artists – some are small, a foot
or so tall, others are heroic.  

Across the highway from these gardens is the
Huntington State Park, which was the location of the
mansion constructed by the Huntingtons during the
early 1930s.  He was a railroad tycoon.  The home
has deteriorated but is interesting to visit.  When
Mrs. H wanted to sculpt a bear she simply got a
bear, housed it in part of the home that was
designed as a studio for bears. Construction of the
home during the depression gave jobs to local men
who were unemployed– they were hired whether or
not they had any skills.  Huntington would arrive in
the morning and tell them what he wanted them to
do, which might contradict the plans he gave them
the day before.  It’s a hodgepodge, but it is what he
wanted.  Today, palm trees are in the courtyard,

Now, you folks who think of Williamsburg as the only
center of society in the south before the
Revolutionary War should know the story of New
Bern, NC.  New Bern was the colonial capitol of
North Carolina but there was not quite the grandeur
of Williamsburg.  The capitol has been restored to
the colonial appearance.  The highlight is the
governor’s palace, which in New Bern also included
the legislative chambers.  The restoration is sort of
a mini-Williamsburg.  The spring gardens, above,
are superb.  Outstanding, though the picture, like
most, only suggests the vibrant colors.  

This may be a first.  Unlike earlier letters, this one
tells of Wilmington’s azaleas on the second page;
usually the first page of our spring letter features
them.  This year mother nature managed to
coordinate her display with the NC azalea festival –
it was a blast.  Additionally all the spring flowers and
dogwood were prime at the same time.  As we came
north we were struck by the color of the
rhododendron.  They too, seemed more prolific
than usual.  

We revisited the Fortress of Louisbourg National
Historic Site.   In the 1600s the French established
Louisbourg as a fishing port.  Things weren’t friendly
between France and England in the 1700s so there
were battles that brought the port under control of
each nation at various times.  The fort was
established to protect the port and is now re-created
to appear as part of it did in 1745 under French
control.  Like New Bern and Williamsburg in the US,
a Governor was stationed here to act as a liaison
between the outpost and the home (mostly French,
though some years it was under the Brits).  

Unlike the British governors of the colonies the
governor in Louisbourg lived and conducted
government business within a fort – no palace here,
no gardens, no fancy society.  In fact, they say the
governor disliked the climate so much that he spent
the summer here and returned to France for the
winter – he hated it so much that he endured the
four to six week ocean voyage on a small sailing
vessel to do this semi-annual commute.  
Governor's Palace

Now we feel at home!  We have our favorite
campsite overlooking St. Mary's Bay at the eastern
half of the island.

The lupines (photo) are fading as the season is a
couple of weeks ahead of normal – the farmers
planted their crops early and look forward to a
bountiful harvest.  They’ve had a bit too much rain
but should do all right.  Apparently they have had
less of a problem here on PEI than we observed in
Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

Again, the celebration of Canada Day (July 1st)
was superb.  They start off the day with speeches
by the provincial dignitaries – all stressing PEI’s
importance to creating what is now the nation of
Canada.  You see, it all started here in Province
House (photo) when the representatives of the
Maritimes gathered to formulate the plan of
confederation.  The formal red uniform of the Royal
Canadian Mounties adds color.  Entertainment
continues through the day and evening.  The finale
is fireworks, which take place at the Charlottetown
waterfront.  The Canadians put on a fine show –
just three days too early.
View from our RV site on the Cabot Trail
As we wrote the previous paragraphs we were at the
edge of the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton in northern
Nova Scotia and were looking forward to taking the
mountainous coastal road.  Rain and fog have kept
us here (right) for three days – it’s supposed to clear
the day after tomorrow.  Unlike the drought we had in
NC there has been almost constant rain and drizzle
in the northeast for the past couple of weeks – it’s
tough for the farmers.  
Cape Breton Island National Park, Nova Scotia
Bras d'or Lake
St. Peters Canal
Fort Amherst at entrance to harbor

Then leaving Louisbourg we traveled along the Bras
d’or Lake, above, that is one of the more memorable
lakes that we’ve seen in our travels.  We camped for
two nights overlooking the lake waiting for it to clear.  
There is a curiosity with the lake.  You see it really is
not a lake as there is open water at the northern end
to the ocean.  At the southern end the lake is close
enough to the ocean that they constructed a canal to
connect the two – but the tides at the two ends are
not the same (don’t ask me why?) so the canal has
to have locks.   

Now in PEI (Prince Edward Island) we are taking it
easy, reacquainting ourselves with the island.  We
never are able to see everything at a place we visit –
this gives a valid reason to return.  We are now
driving along the shore enjoying the views with an
occasional fishing boat offshore.

Tied in with the Louisbourg military presence in Nova
Scotia was it’s manning of Fort Amherst that
protected the harbor at Charlottetown, PEI.  This was
at the entrance to the harbor and some mounds of
the fortifications (below) remain.  This overlooks the
beautiful harbor with red dirt cliffs and beaches.  
Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site
Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site

The weather finally cleared and we got a good look
of Nova Scotia's Cabot Trail around Cape Breton
Island National Park.  It certainly was worthy of a
revisit – with steep mountains, rugged rockbound
coast, and small villages – all declared a UN World
Heritage Site.  We learned that the rock is so hard
that it is not wearing away as most rock does, so little
change is occurring from wind or water erosion.  
Then to the eastern tip of Nova Scotia.
Fortress of Louisbourgh National Historic Site
As we tour the Maritime Provinces Ida’s been
interested in the variety of birds and plants –
cormorants, osprey, herons, and pitcher plants
(photo, below), orchids, etc.  From beachfront sites
we overlook the fishing boats and a variety of
shorebirds.  Just part of the reason we gravitate to
the area – sort of our alternate summer migration.  
And we carefully time it to be at many spots before
family vacations crowd the area.  Keep in mind that
the definition of crowds may mean less than a
hundred people on a beach that is several miles
long; a far cry from the density on local beaches at
home.  But the rain persists and we’re hearing of the
distress of the farmers.  At the same time we’re
hearing of the torrential rainfall at home.  

Lobster traps are being brought in to the docks for
the season – tomorrow it ends at this part of the
island.  We’re told that the tuna season will start in
about a month.  It’s been a good season with all the
lobstermen smiling.  As we watch the catch being
unloaded we are disturbed by the small size of the
lobsters, it appears that they are one pound or less!  
Tomorrow we’ll head to Charlottetown for a few days
before going on to Panmure Island Provincial Park.  
Pitcher plant in bloom
Fireworks celebrating Confederation Day viewed from Stratford
Province House with Confederation Day celebration
You all have a good summer