Sunday, April 23, 2006

Blogging Halifax

Last week marked my one-year appointment at the Hearing and Speech Center, and I thought I'd bring you along for a fast overnight trip to the city from our home base in Fredericton.

Yvette is a great car, and we love her. But she's 17. And it's a long drive for an old gal. So renting something more comfortable is a must. And renting something more fun is a big plus. Enter the PT Cruiser.

The drive mostly looks like a whole lot of this...

...Except for the construction.

There are a handful of places where a rest-stop break is not only necessary, but absolutely mandatory. So it is with the town of Oxford, NS, the self-proclaimed "Blueberry Capital of Canada", and its gas station/Subway/Tim Horton's/Giant Blueberry combo rest stop. What more could the weary traveler possibly want?

Then it's back on the road - and did I mention the construction?

This is Mastodon Ridge, near Stewiacke, NS, and that is the world's last know living mastodon , right there. Okay, actually it's a gigantic (life-sized, in fact) fiberglas mastadon designed to lure tourists into the cheesy fast-food joints and gift shops that have been built on the ridge to capitalize on the fact that a nicely-preserved mastodon skeleton was unearthed there in 1991. Well, not actually there. Nearby. In a gypsum mine in Milford. So it is, in fact, a testament to the small-town willingness and ability to capitalize on anything at all that makes them unique in order to keep the local economy chugging along. Kind of noble, really.

But theoretically, with DNA and cloning, we can look forward to the day when mastodon once again run wild between Truro and Stewiacke, pausing only to play miniature golf and eat at Dairy Queen on the way.

Finally, post-blueberry, post-mastodon, and even finally post-construction, we're approaching the city. We always enter via the Dartmouth bridge which takes us directly downtown while avoiding most of the traffic. Of course, technically it does involve driving through Dartmouth, which is to Halifax as New Jersey is to New York. No mind; perverse as ever, Husband and I have grown quite fond of Dartmouth with its notoriously rough edges. I kid because I love.

The MacDonald Bridge, which arcs over Halifax Harbour to connect Dartmouth with the downtown of Halifax proper.

This is the view from the bridge. It's quite interesting, really - naval vessels, pleasure craft, often gigantic cruise ships. Of course, given the success of this shot you'll have to take my word for it.

We usually get in town just exactly in time to rush uptown to Spring Garden Road and make it to my appointment. There is a point to these trips, after all...

...a cochlear implant tune-up. My scores in the booth this time (They put on a CD of someone saying sentences - they say a sentence, I repeat it ) were 100% without interference and 94% with (background noise simulating street noise, while they gradually turn down the speaker's volume). The error that caused the 94% was when I misinterpreted "The dog growled at the people" as "The dog wowed the people". Hey, he could've.

I also had a final session with a speech pathologist who consulted on my case so that she could "discharge" me and close my file, and I scored 100% with her too. The clinic has also asked me to get in touch with another person who is a candidate for the implant, to talk to her about my experiences; and they want me to participate in a study with a student who'll be traveling to New Brunswick to do research with NB implant recipients.

With the formalities out of the way, we had a little while to enjoy our home away from home. The route to the hotel took us past the Citadel.

The suites at our favourite hotel are quite comfy although my photography doesn't do them justice... there's a living room, a kitchenette with a fridge and micro...

...a bedroom and a big bath, and so we're comfy as two bugs in a rug. No kitties though. You'd think such a nice place would have overnight kitties but you just try going down there inquiring about where you could find some overnight pussies. The concierge gives you the dirtiest looks.

This time the room had a flag right outside the window. How patriotic! Apparently they make quite a lot of noise all night. According to Husband. :)

Where was I? Oh yeah - now that we'd checked in, it was time to hit as many of our favourite spots as we could in our Halifax overnight. There's Reflections Cabaret, the venerable old "alternative" club (yes, that is "Easter Drag Show" third down on the "coming attractions" sign). Maybe we'll get back there later tonight but for now there's shopping to be done, and we're only in town overnight!

Venus Envy is a very nice book and... novelty store for grown-ups in the heart of downtown Halifax.

I was amused to note that with their limited shelf space they managed to carry Aaron McGruder's "Boondocks" collection.

This is Freak Lunchbox, a simply outstanding candy and notions store... they're hard to categorize but sell what can best be described as "a bunch of neat shit" plus all sorts of candy. I swear you'll find candy and candy bars in here from your childhood that you didn't even think they made anymore, and that's because they only make them in Atlanta, GA, and ship them to Atlanta and Savannah, and Freak Lunchbox will find them and get them in.

Yes, the painting on the window does say "Lucy Liu spent $2.36 here". Halifax is a significant presence in the "Hollywood North" scene, and spotting celebrities is a bit of a pastime here.

"Blitz" sells music and skater clothes, and I couldn't be bothered to go inside. But I love it unreservedly for the mural outside which features a portrait of Mike Smith as his character (my favourite) Bubbles from the Trailer Park Boys.

All funned out the next morning, there's nothing to do the next day but head over the bridge back to Dartmouth and head for home.

This is the windmill at the Petro-Can station just on the Nova Scotia side of the border. It was spinning like a right son-of-a-bitch this day. So I excitedly snapped a pic to share with you. Neglecting to take into account that you wouldn't be able to see that.

This is the Nova Scotia/New Brunswick border, snapped on our way back home. Note the three proud, bright Nova Scotia flags standing proudly in the stiff breeze. Note the three sad, tattered New Brunswick flags behind them, the middle of which is essentially a tattered rag clinging to its flagpole.

Sadly, this is a startlingly apt metaphor for the state of tourism marketing and promotion in New Brunswick, in relation not only to Nova Scotia (although NS in general and Halifax in particular are simply masters of tourism who manage to make every summer visitor to the province feel like they've been doing nothing but sitting around waiting for you to arrive so they can fuss over you) but PEI and Newfoundland as well. Sigh.

Right over the NS border as you enter (or in our case re-enter) NB are the Tantramar Marshes. Through a combination of location and geography (they're very flat and very large) they are also the home of Radio-Canada International. (That's the RCI sign to the left there, and there is a forest of antennae much too large for me to capture with my wee cell cam). So if you've ever listened to Radio-Canada International anywhere in the world, you've been listening to a signal that was born right here.

And from there it's home again, home again, jiggidy-jig. :)



Blogger Charles LeBlanc said...

You're wrost than'm going to use the last picture or can you send the whole picture to me...As a child??? I believe there was a giant spider in the hate spiders....

10:16 p.m.  
Blogger Brian Fies said...

Screw Boondocks, I think I see some Mom's Cancers in that bookstore photo! Thanks for making my day.

I must say you're quite the civic booster. You make your part of Canada seem so...irresistibly attractive. "Tantramar Marshes" sounds like a place that should lie just beyond the gates of Mordor. Can't wait to see them someday.

2:44 p.m.  
Blogger Yearning 2 B said...

So glad your appt went so well! Does that mean fewer trips to my birthplace now? Thanks for sharing the pics... I love that city... Didn't know they had a big Bubbles painted on the side of a bldg! Glad you enjoyed the PT Cruiser... my sister has 1!

7:05 p.m.  
Blogger ronnie said...

Charles, I will send you the picture of RDI... I thought I had a larger one on my laptop at home but was mistaken. At any rate, I'll email it to you lataer.

Brian, How could I have missed the Mom's Cancer books?? That is so cool!

Cuz, yes, I will now only be required to go to Halifax once a year for checkups, but we love the city so much I know we'll be down more often than that just for fun.


1:20 p.m.  
Blogger Life, or Something Like It said...

Thanks for sharing the photos. I miss Nova Scotia soo much

2:37 p.m.  

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