Monday, July 25, 2005

Unexpected Adventures... Playing Tourist In Your Own Province!

We just got home tonight after deciding to turn a chore into an excuse for a family getaway. I knew that we needed to take our passports to the passport office in Fredericton in order to get them back for our trip to the USA next month. The girls now need passports of their own, so with three to submit, it seemed easier to drive them there.

We endured a drizzly, damp Saturday and found out that the forecast for Sunday was going to be bright sun and fairly warm temperatures, but that Monday would be back to cold and drizzle again. We decided to call Fredericton to see if there were any hotel packages at the Lord Beaverbrook hotel downtown... and sure enough there was a wonderful Summer Sizzler package that included two queen size bed and breakfast for the family in the morning! We threw our stuff in a bag Saturday night and hopped in the car Sunday morning to head for Fredericton.

Kings Landing is the most awesome historical settlement that takes a good 3 hours to walk through. Houses from the early to late 1800s were moved and restored to recreate this settlement or farms, churches, mills, print shop, smithy, houses and general store. Everyone in the town is dressed in costume and stays in character for the period and shows what life was like in that era. They cook their meals over the hearth or stoves in the house, work the land, apprentice in the businesses etc. This time the girls were old enough to really fall in love with the place. Erin has even decided she might like to try the “Visiting Cousins” program next summer where you attend the camp for the week and act as a character during the day, learning skills from the era and even attending school in the schoolhouse for a few hours every morning. She got the chance to hold the reins of the wagon as we drove back to the main entrance and was absolutely thrilled!

After most of the day at Kings Landing, we headed for the hotel and a nice swim at the pool. We dressed for dinner and walked off to the greek restaurant we knew about in town about 5 blocks from the hotel. Unfortunately, when we got there, we and several other tourists were disappointed to find out that it is closed on Sundays! This was the beginning of our half an hour, 5 block maze chase around the streets of downtown Fredericton, desperately trying to find ANY restaurant that served something other than fast food! We finally found a great pub called the Snooty Fox and had a fabulous supper that did much to restore our spirits and get rid of the “grumpy whineys”. We headed back to the hotel for a massive game of Harry Potter UNO and then read in bed while the girls fought over who was stealing the covers and who had toes on whose side... Even in a Queen sized bed, they still managed to get on each other’s nerves until they fell asleep. My sister could probably correct me, but I don’t remember fighting with her that much over sleeping space!!

This morning, after another quick swim and breakfast, we headed off to the Passport Office under grey and cloudy skies that left me wishing I’d packed a sweater. We got through our business there with one little flaw... seems Quebec has changed birth certificate information to bring it in line with the rest of Canada and Vital Statistics... so my old Birth Certificate is no longer valid. Even though I used it to get my last passport (and it is still me) I have to send away for this new version. Sigh! If they had let me know about this when I was up there in June, I could have taken care of it then. Just as we left the Passport Office, the heavens opened, so we ran a few blocks down to the Science East hands on science center and spend over 2 hours exploring the exhibits, helping the staff move baby stick bugs onto new raspberry plant stalks to eat, setting up domino mazes etc.

On the way home from Fredericton, we stopped to explore Old Orchard Crafts and the village of Gagetown where Flo Greig, a potter whose work I adore, has her studio. Nick and I received a magnificent salad bowl of hers as a wedding present 16 years ago and have added a few pieces to our collection since then. We have always meant to try to find her studio and stumbled across it today as we tried to find a place to eat a much overdue lunch! She happened to be there when we wandered in out of the damp and it was such fun to let another artist know how much her work has meant to me! We headed home a new addition to our collection and some great memories of a village we’ll go back to explore again.

Sadly, New Brunswick seems to lag WAY behind Nova Scotia in terms of properly promoting its craftspeople and making it easy to find them through brochures, signage etc. Having been in Nova Scotia just a few weeks ago, I am saddened by the difference between the two provinces...

Now we are home again and ready to get orders off in the mail etc. It was fun to turn the chore of dropping the passports off in person into a fun family adventure and strange to think that we’ll be doing that run again in two weeks time to head down to the show in Charlotte! Where has the summer gone??

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