Bob Nagel turned 80 the other day -- the youngest 80-year-old you are likely ever to meet. Several of the many Canadians who love him made pilgrimage to Boston and surrounds to mark the great occasion with all the ceremony it warranted.
Keen to make the most of our time in ‘the Boston states’ our contingent drove all the way from Cape Breton to Bob’s Roslindale neighbourhood in one day, more than 1,400 km in 14 hours, much of it in driving rain. But Thursday was sunny and blithe and Robert led us on a walkabout in old downtown Boston that was illuminating as it was irreverent. We country mice gawked at the modern skyscrapers, wandered old cemeteries among the graves of John Hancock and Paul Revere and dined as the Bostonians do on scrod and Sam Adams beer.
Eleven of us rented a sprawling house at Chatham on Cape Cod. We followed our various notions of bliss during the day then gathered in the evenings to revel, dine on fresh local seafood, and beat each other senseless in super-competitive, go-for-the-throat Bananagrams battles. (If you don’t know Bananagrams, do yourself a favour -- get yourself a game; abundant fun is guaranteed while you give your grey matter a vigorous workout.)
We liked the offerings of the Cape Cod National Seashore: Great Island, Marconi Beach, White Cedar Trail. The Cape’s strange flora and fauna -- forests of pitch pine and oak; fiddler and horseshoe crabs, and a host of unfamiliar birds -- impressed the heck out of Cape Bretoners accustomed to fir, spruce and beached lobster shells.
We departed Cape Cod early Monday, intent on spend the night at Bar Harbour ME to hike Acadia National Park bright and early Tuesday morning. Tipped by Kathleen and Jon, we stopped en route at Wiscasset –- which calls itself the prettiest village in Maine –- to pig out on the world-famous lobstah rolls dispensed by the good folks at Red’s Eats. Wiscasset is just about as charming as its boast and Red’s rolls were prodigiously tasty on the last day before the diner closes its doors for winter.
Alas, we woke on Tuesday in Bar Harbour to a driving rain and learned it would last the entire day. After prowling some of the shops to spend our last Yankee dollars on tee-shirts and tourmaline baubles we lit out for Canada where the forecast was for better weather Wednesday. And so it was. We went to Alma NB at the doorstep of Fundy National Park. We dined at Saprano’s pizzeria which just happens to occupy a building I know well: it was my Aunt Kitty’s home for decades. We sat in a corner booth which was a bedroom in years gone by and the place I was conceived in 1946.
It turned out a good thing that rain had washed out the Acadia hike. Fundy was sublime: we hiked the Coppermine Trail and ogled the vistas at Wolfe Point and Herring Cove. We marvelled at the scale of the Fundy tides and paused to gawk at old covered bridges. And we saved the best for last. I had promised Lynn and Louise they would love the geological marvels at Hopewell Rocks. And they did. Jan and I were knocked out too. On our first visit a few years back we arrived at high tide and thereby missed much of the spectacle. This time the tide cooperated, allowing us to walk the entire wondrous length of the beach. Sometimes it pays to give a place a second chance.