(More) Random thoughts on Canada

July 27, 2019

In an earlier post (while I was in Granville Ferry and couldn’t post photos) I wrote some comments and general observations to try and hold your interest. I have thought of a few more things to share with you. I have now deleted that earlier post but moved the comments to end of this post in case you didn’t see it.

I have also inserted random photos, often unrelated to the written content, to amuse you as you read…

For example – Blue stick lady sez “Bonjour!”:

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GAS PRICES

Gas prices are higher than I was anticipating. I had been monitoring prices using the GasBuddy website (and I recommend using their app when you travel , or even at home). I started keeping an eye on prices back in May when I made my Airbnb reservations. They started out kind of high but then dropped for several weeks. Well, they have gone up again. After converting liters to US gallons and the Canadian dollar to US dollars I have been paying in the neighborhood of $3.60/gal (USD).


These folks make hooked rugs:

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SALES TAX

Sales tax is steep, at 15%.


This is a welcome sign for the town of Cheticamp, southwest of Cape Breton Highlands National Park:

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MONEY

Canada’s approach to currency is interesting and their “paper” money is quite colorful. First of all, there is no $1 bill. Nothing less than a 5, in fact. They don’t use pennies either. Cash prices are rounded up or down to the nearest five or zero increment, so a total price ending in 1,2,6 and 7 goes down and 3,4,8 and 9 goes up. Credit card purchases remain at the “pennies” level.

Their coins are as follows:

 

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Nickel, Dime, Quarter, Dollar coin (affectionately known as a “loonie” because there is a loon on the back), and a Two-dollar coin (some call it a “two-nie”).  While the image on the backs of coins varies, the face is always Queen Elizabeth II.

Their “paper” money isn’t made of paper at all but feels almost like plastic (it is, in fact, derived from polymer). I presume this is more durable and the bills also have a silver band with holographic images to prevent counterfeiting. Pretty clever, eh?

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CRITTERS

Still no major critter sightings to report. No bald eagles yet, although there are supposed to be lots of them up here, and no moose. I got excited when I was driving home from Cape Breton Highlands Tuesday night and saw 3 large brown animals in a field ahead of where I was driving but they turned out to be horses.

My research seems to indicate that when I arrive in Newfoundland I may hit the moose motherlode. Actually “hit” may not be the best choice of words… let’s say encounter. I have no plans to hit a moose and am more worried about one hitting me. My only encounter (knocking on wood) with a white-tail deer was in Pennsylvania and it struck ME, not the other way around. I was driving my little blue Toyota Starlet out in the country on my way to visit a co-worker. I saw movement in my peripheral vision and when I realized something was running towards me it struck the left front quarter panel of my car, knocking it in quite a bit. The deer’s head struck the windshield but didn’t damage it. The was a little fur in the left headlight fixture but other than that, not too bad. I stopped and didn’t see the deer so hopefully it wasn’t seriously injured. I was greatly relieved that I wasn’t driving my boss’s BMW as I had been the week before (I can explain that)!

My Airbnb hosts in St. Andrews, NL did caution me to be extremely vigilant for moose during my time in Newfoundland.  Contrary to the advice I was given in New England a few years ago, they assure me than moose can enter the highway at high speed and there may not be much time to react to their sudden appearance.


This wall hanging, made of feathers, was in the home of my Airbnb hosts down in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia.

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MORE ON CRITTERS…

I have FINALLY seen a few Canadian geese after almost two full weeks up here. I was beginning to think maybe they were all down in the United States. And as I mentioned before, I am still surprised by the small number of seagulls and cormorants, especially considering how much water I have been around. When I was at the lake where people were canoeing and kayaking near Dartmouth I saw a cormorant display some behavior I have not seen before. Normally a cormorant (if that’s what it was) just dives under water for an extended period after having been floating on the surface. This one would flap it’s wings feverishly before diving. I know white pelicans do that to attract fish and maybe this cormorant has learned that trick.

I have seen one mystery bird. It ran across the road in front of me. It appeared to be quite tall and had a tail sticking straight back away from it’s body high off the ground. I have looked online and in some books at the Cape Breton Highlands gift shop but haven’t identified it. My first thought was some kind of pheasant.

I haven’t seen any whales but then I haven’t really been looking. I may see some near the coast of Newfoundland as they have about 15 varieties. I may go on a boat trip to see Atlantic Puffins but I haven’t checked to see if they will still have their colorful beaks and plumage.


These two rescue cats also lived in the home with my Airbnb hosts in New Glasgow.  The brown one seemed to take a liking to me and frequently sought my attention (and we shared a nap on my bed).  The larger white one remained aloof, as cats often do.

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Here are the comments from a previous post which has since been deleted. If you have already read it you may proceed to the next post!

Overall the weather has been great.  A little rain here and there, but only one day was rainy most of the day.  A mix of clouds and sun most days.  Not many bugs (I was afraid I might catch the end of black-fly season but it looks like I missed it).  Much cooler than back home.  Maine was upper 70’s/low 80’s but Canada has been upper 60’s/mid-70’s.  I just jinxed myself because I already heard that later today will be warmer than usual for up here.  I am near the water, and it was quite breezy yesterday, so hopefully that will help keep it comfortable.  Trust me, North Carolina, I’m not whining…

The primary roads (NB-1 and NS-101) are excellent, almost like they are new.  Speed limit on NB-1, a 4-lane highway, was 70mph (110kmh) and NS-101, which I was only on briefly yesterday and is only a 2-lane road, was a little lower.  Not much traffic at all.  The secondary roads, which I prefer, are pretty rough with lots of patched areas and bumps.

I haven’t seen any critters yet except for a skunk which shuffled across the road a ways in front of me yesterday.  I slowed down to make sure it wasn’t a “suicide skunk”.  It was actually quite nice looking – very clean with sharp black/white contrast.  I think it may be the first live skunk I’ve seen in my travels.  Surprisingly few seagulls and cormorants given how close I have been to large bodies of water (even in Maine).  I actually saw quite a few seagulls in North Dakota, of all places, last year, which I still haven’t figured out…