17 October, 2006

New Brunswick, Land of the Useless Door

As a bonus, I’m posting a synopsis of our ‘first’ trip to Canada last Saturday.

For whatever reason, it took us forever to get going and we finally made it to the Port by about 2pm. This port was NOTHING like the one in Oroville/Osoyoos. Wow! Talk about Podunk! It almost looks like it might be the last shack on the frontier before no-man’s-land. (It should be noted that it DOES look like the Canadian side is in the process of making a new building, but the present buildings looked like an ’82 Honda Civic could run into them and they’d come crashing down.) I digress. Going through the Canadian side was pretty easy. Not a lot of questions, but the Customs guy stands on the passenger side. That was weird. And they actually come out of the building. We had pulled up to the stop sign and weren’t really sure what to do. There were no instructions. Do we get out? Stay in? Is there a secret code we’re supposed to use a mirror to flash them?

Anyway, on to New Brunswick. The first town was small but had lots of neat white churches lined up along the river – quite scenic. We ended up taking the scenic route (read: Crappy Highway On the Wrong Side of the River) and got rather lost. We finally got back on the right road and drove up to Grand Falls.

Two important observations must be noted here:
1)New Brunswick truly is the Land of the Useless Door. In actual fact, Luke remembers being told about this at Prov by one of our Eastern friends. People build houses that have maybe one door connecting the garage to the house. They have another door on the front of the house, but it’s on the main level of the house, which might be 8 feet off the ground, and they don’t build any staircase to it. It’s USELESS!! (My profuse apologies for not taking a picture – again.) I mean, what is it? The Bad Boyfriend Door? Is it like walking the plank for a misbehaving child. “That’s it Barney! Go stand by the FRONT door. I’m going to get the blindfold!”
2) Grand Falls isn’t very ‘grand’ at all. At least not in Fall. Evidently, in Spring, there is so much water pouring over this dam that it really does warrant billing as the biggest waterfall East of Niagara Falls. But after the Spring Thaw, all the water is diverted to the hydro facility and the falls becomes somewhat of a trickle. Bummer.

However, after driving around the city for a while trying to find a certain street (really much better attempted with a map, wouldn’t you say?), we found the restaurant we were looking for. Part of the restaurant is built out over the hill so you can see out over the top of the ‘Grand’ Falls. The view was still nice since all the leaves are still turning and it was overlooking the river. I had soupy Caesar salad – with enough croutons to almost be ridiculous. Luke had this local (?) dish called Crouquille de Jean Baptiste, which should really have been called ‘Dejeuner de Jacques Cousteau.’ (CL: are you impressed with my French or what?!?!) It was a mashed potato moat filled with various and sundry seafoods in a white sauce, covered in cheese and baked. Every child’s mashed potato/gravy volcano fun GONE WRONG!! But Luke loved it. We also had some of the best (and may I add, authentically French) poutine we’ve ever had! It was SO GOOD!!!

After lunch we drove to the Falls visitor’s centre, which was closed, so we drove home. Not too much trouble at the border here either. Same deal where the officer is on the passenger side (so from now on, I’m driving), and the US side one-upped the Canadians by offering a stop sign with a red/green traffic light! WOW!! This customs officer must’ve been at least a little bored because he decided to give us the third degree about how long we’d been in Canada. ‘Since two o’clock? You must’ve done something besides just drive to Grand Falls for lunch. You’ve been gone a while.’ But how do you explain (without embarrassing the DRIVER) how yes, you had lunch, but you took the… ‘Scenic Route’ and really actually got lost?

At any rate, we made it home. It was a fun, rather uneventful trip. Next stop, Quebec?!?!

Other interesting facts about Grand Falls:

- The town is one of the only ones in New Brunswick to actually have an official French Name.
- Tim Horton’s is Toujours Frais!

- Main Street is the widest street in Canada East of Winnipeg!
- If you pick up a New Brunswick travel guide in a bi-lingual province, make sure you choose the ENGLISH version.
- Even if you only pretended to read/listen in high school French class, and even if you had to constantly rely on your friend Erin for translation assistance, you’d be surprised how much information you can still glean from a French travel guide. Vive la Nouveau Brunswick!

Oh! One closing note: Congratulations to our friends E & J who just had a baby boy last Friday. Welcome & hugs to little Milo!

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