Dutch Mason Blues Festival 2012

Dutch Mason, 1986, Photo by Louis Siegal, from the Canadian Encyclopedia

When I first moved to Nova Scotia I was blown away by the richness and variety of the culture in this province.  I seldom missed an opportunity to see the Dutch Mason Blues Band.

Dutch played in rock and roll and rockabilly bands in Nova Scotia in the 50’s.  By the 70’s he had found his passion and performed in several blues bands.  During the late 70’s and 80’s he toured Canada developing a growing reputation for his tough urban blues style.   He was dubbed the Prime Minister of the Blues by BB King.  Dutch passed away in Dec 2006.  His son Garrett Mason is thrilling blues audiences from coast to coast these days.

Last night we attended the first night of the 8th Annual Dutch Mason Blues Festival in Truro, Nova Scotia.  As always it was a great experience.

Lukas Nelson and Promise of the RealLukas Nelson and Promise of the Real.  Lukas’ voice is similar to his father’s, but he has found his own style.

Lukas Nelson, Dutch Mason Blues FestivalLukas Nelson

Georgia Satellites, Dutch Mason Blues FestivalGeorgia Satellites.

The Sheepdogs, Dutch Mason Blues Festival Canada’s own Sheepdogs from Saskatoon.  The Sheepdogs won three Juno awards for Rock Album of the Year, Best New Group and Single of the Year.  They will be performing again in Nova Scotia in September.  Check them out if you get the chance.

SheepdogsTonight Charlie A’Court, James Cotton and Darrell Nulisch, the John Oates Band and Delbert McClinton hit the stage with an after hours Jam featuring Joe Murphy, Garrett Mason, the Dutch Mason Blues Band and special guests.  The music continues  Sunday until 7:30 pm.

Kudos to the people who put on this well organized event!

For more information go to:  http://www.dutchmason.com

Vacationing Close to Home

For our 29th Anniversary we decided to take a few days and be tourists around Moncton, New Brunswick which is a little over 2 hours away.

Our first day in Moncton we tried out Magnetic Hill.  Magnetic Hill is a place where the layout of the surrounding land produces the optical illusion that a very slight downhill slope appears to be an uphill slope. It was well worth the visit, although if many cars were testing the hill it could be a bit dangerous.  We were there after the park was closed so didn’t pay a fee to get in.  Cars are directed to drive down the hill on the right side of the road, stopping at the white post.  Pull the car over to the left side of the road and put the car in neutral.  The cars seem to roll up the hill backwards.  We watched lots of people turn their cars around and try to go up the hill forwards-I don’t think that was working.  Some people did not have very good steering skills rolling backwards.  It was fun watching other drivers figure out the hill.

Magnetic Hill.  The white car backing up the hill is doing it correctly.  The two cars going forward up the hill in the left lane are not.

We visited Hopewell Rocks.  It is about 40 klm or 40 min from Moncton along the Fundy Coastal Drive.  The entrance fee was 9.00 per person and this was valid for two consecutive days, so visitors could visit during high and low tides.  There are well groomed walking trails to observation decks and trails to the ocean floor.   It is safe to walk on the ocean floor three hours before and three hours after low tide.  We arrived at about three hours before low tide and were able to watch the tide go out.  There are also restaurants, playgrounds, boot wash and sea kayaking located at the Hopewell Rocks.

The tide is starting to go out here.

The tide is almost all the way out here.  For the most part the beach was rocky, but as the tide went out there was more mud.   Many people made use of the boot washing area.  If you go make sure you wear appropriate footwear.

Further along the drive we stopped at Cape Enrage on the Chignecto Bay, one of the Marine Wonders of the World.  The tides rise as much as 53 feet over a 12 hour period twice daily.  Admission is about 5.00 per person.  The site has a lighthouse, fog horn and hiking trails as well as a tremendous view from the top of the cliff.  The beach is reached from a set of stairs that descend 99 feet.  Visitors are warned not to linger near the foot of the cliffs as there is a constant danger of rock falls and to be sure to know the tide schedule.  Departure from the beach is only possible by the stairs.  The beach was made up of smooth flat rocks that made interesting clacking noises when they shifted while walking on them.  It was quiet walking on the beach so the noise of the clacking rocks was all you could hear.  Right before you get to the site there is a nice rock beach for swimming.  The site also offered a restaurant, rappelling, rock climbing and a zip line.

Cape Enrage.  You would not want to mistake the time for high tide.

The rocky beach of Cape Enrage.

We had stayed at the Crowne Plaza Moncton Downtown before and really enjoyed the experience.  We were looking forward to another great visit and were not disappointed.

We ate at the Tajmahal restaurant in Downtown Moncton.  The food and service were great.  On our anniversary we ate at Little Louis’ on Collishaw St.  The restaurant had received good reviews, but I found the menu did not offer many options and the meal was expensive for what we had.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Growth

It is amazing to see the capacity the natural world has for growth.  Trees and plants send down roots and grow in the most surprising places.

These trees are growing on the Hopewell Rocks in New Brunswick Canada,  Twice a day the tides rise to great heights, as they recede they take some of the rock and soil with them.

This is how they grow grapes on the Greek island of Santorini.

The roots of these trees climb down the hill and sustain small shrubs on this beach side hill in Santorini.

These unusual trees grow at the University of Havana

Weekly Photo Challenge: Close

Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia.  (Overlander Falls I think.)   These falls were a short hike in from the parking lot.  A group of kayakers arrived at the top of the falls.  We waited to see what they would do next.  I snapped some photos of close calls with the rapids.

Temple Gardens, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

I was surprised to find out there was a mineral spa in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, a notably flat prairie province, so I had to go and check it out.  Temple Gardens is Canada’s largest therapeutic geo-thermal mineral spa drawing water from ancient sea beds. It was discovered in 1910 and thanks to a team effort from the people of Moose Jaw the spa is now a world class destination.

We didn’t have a reservation but were happy to find out there was a room available. We booked a room with evening meal and breakfast included for about 300.00 per night. The room was across the road from the spa and main building.

We were grateful for the bathrobes which were included with the room, so we could just stroll across the pedway in our bathing suits. If you go in the winter it is a good idea to bring flip flops. Winter boots are hard to put back on after you come out of the spa and look pretty silly when you are wearing a bathrobe. I wasn’t the only one who made the walk across in this funny outfit.

To get to the mineral pool you walk by the café and spa facilities. There are locker rooms for men and women with showers and washrooms as well as towels, lotion and hair dryers.

The mineral pool is kept at 37 degrees Celsius indoors and 38 degrees outside. The pool is huge and never felt crowded. People of all ages were relaxing in the waters or hanging out by the jets. My favourite place was outside. I love being in a spa and feeling the warm water swirling around me while the outside air is cold enough to freeze my eyelashes and hair. Everyone had white frost covered hair after a little while outside. In the evening with the glow of the lights it was beautiful.

We had a wonderful meal at the restaurant that evening and a great breakfast the next morning. I think the breakfast buffet is popular with locals on the weekends so it is best to arrive early if you are in a hurry. We were not. Temple Gardens has a late check out.

The Casino and Tunnels of Moose Jaw are also highly praised, but I couldn’t get out of the water long enough to check them out.

Photos property of Temple Gardens.

Ploughing Snow

Yesterday was a beautiful winter day here in Nova Scotia.   A sky full of great big fluffy snow flakes slowly, patiently made their way to the ground, then melted almost as soon as they fell.  It was peaceful and breathtaking.  It made me love winter and feel fortunate to live in Canada where we can count on snow in the winter.

When I work up this morning I had to clear the snow.  It had stopped melting when it hit the ground.  Our new house has a long, long driveway.

I guess at this point a bit of background information is in order.   I am a bad driver.  I have never been in an accident, but I really don’t like driving.  I don’t enjoy loud machines.    My family makes great sport of this. 

While my husband was home during Christmas he bought a used plow for the front of the 4 wheeler, so I could clear the driveway myself.  We were all very excited; this plow was going to work great.  It would make up for the past year’s invention, which was a plow made out of half a plastic barrel and some metal.  It did not work.  It just rode on top of the snow.  It was less frustrating to shovel the driveway myself.

The first snowfall after installing the plow, happened when my daughter and 7 year old grandson were visiting.   Both of them knew how to work the wheeler much better than I did.  I was pleased with this, until my daughter filmed me getting the machine started (after much muttering and pushing of unnecessary buttons) and plowing the driveway (so slow that a little boy and bull dog could run beside me).   I am always good for some family entertainment.  My husband said he watched it four times-YouTube here we come.

Today I was completely on my own.  First the lock for the shed where the wheeler is kept was frozen solid.  I blew on the lock to warm it up-being careful not to touch it (a lesson most Canadians learn early) until it melted the ice inside.


I lifted the blade of the wheeler and pulled the choke, turned the key and pushed the starter.  It coughed and sputtered but started.  I put it into gear and drove it down the narrow ramp and out of the shed.  One run up the driveway, put it in reverse gear, stall, start again, stall, start and back up.  Put it in first gear, stall, re-start it and ‘give’er’.  I made it all the way back, although I still went slow.  Feeling encouraged,  I thought I should have a back-up space for the car.  That is when the machine decided it no longer wanted to work in 4 wheel drive.  So, I put it in neutral, lifted the blade, got off the machine and pushed and pulled until it would back up in 2 wheel drive.  There was quite a bit more of the stalling, pushing and pulling before I got the machine back in the shed.  I shovelled the rest.

The forecast calls for 10 to 15cm of snow tomorrow.  I think I will wait and see if it warms up enough in the next few days to melt the snow.

Stop the Commercialization of Jasper National Park

The information that follows is from avaaz.org.  When we visited Banff and Jasper National Park in the fall of 2010, I was surprised at how much control Brewster Canada (an 80% American owned company) had over major tourist attractions in the parks.  I hope they will not gain more power over this beautiful area and I hope readers will do their research and sign the petition!–Paula MacMillan

Photo:  Columbia Icefield

In days, the Harper Government could privatise a section of Jasper National Park and let an American-owned company blast a 300m metal walkway into our World Heritage mountains — but Jasper’s Superintendent has the power to stop them.

The plan would not only spur development, but would give an American company the right to charge each of us for entry into parts of Jasper park. Greg Fenton, a local Jasperite, has the ability to stop the privatisation of the park he grew up in and loves — but the company’s lobbying effort means he will face pressure to sell out this natural wonder. Let’s send him a tidal wave of support and give him the strength he needs to stand up to corporate power and save our Rocky Mountain sanctuary.

Help make sure our parks stay in public hands — Click here sign to the petition calling on Fenton to save Jasper National Park before it’s too late:


The 300m metal walkway over the world-famous Icefields Parkway will be built by Brewster Canada — a premium travel company that is an 80% owned subsidiary of the American-based company VIAD. Both are fully profit-driven companies that value their bottom line over the preservation of our natural heritage. Though the initial development project is small, this decision sets a dangerous precedent, allowing the government to hand over control of our most valuable and beautiful landscape.

VIAD and Brewster have hired expensive heavyweight lobbyists to win over the Harper Government and Jasper National Park. But our voices, brought together from across Canada, can drown out the dangerous message coming from these corporate lobbyists.

Our call only needs to reach Greg Fenton, the Park’s Superintendent and the person who has the final say on the approval of the project. With thousands of Canadians pounding on the door of Fenton’s office already, this is our chance to ensure that Jasper does not set a precedent allowing commercial operators to convert our National Parks into profit-making attractions.


Avaaz has fought hard to protect our natural environment by campaigning on climate change, whaling and protecting our oceans — now we can come together to save our parks from corporate ownership.

With hope,

Emma, Ari, Ricken, Morgan, Stephanie and the entire Avaaz team.


Jasperite, Greg Fenton, returns home to become superintendent of Jasper National Park (Parks Canada)

National Parks – and the views – belong to Canadians (Calgary Herald)

Feedback Deadline Looms, Decision Expected Next Month (The Fitzhugh)

Record of Lobbying (Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada)

National Parks should be Wildlife Sanctuaries, not Cash Cows (Green Party of Canada)

Calgary and Banff


This gallery contains 3 photos.

In the fall of 2010 we made two trips to Alberta.  The weather was warm and balmy for September.  We stayed one night in Calgary at the Fairmont Palliser Hotel, a beautiful old hotel, close to the 8th Avenue Mall … Continue reading

Old Hippies Hit the Road


Off to EuropeSearching and researching a title for a travel blog is tough work.  My original idea was “Old Hippies Hit the Road”, my daughter christened us old hippies, but it doesn’t really fit. Then came “Bluenoser Travel” until I looked up the definition of Bluenoser (which is defined as a puritanical person-I always thought it meant from Nova Scotia!).  Other titles I tried included:  Frugal Traveller (taken), Inspired Wanderer (taken), Exhilarated Excursions (not really descriptive of my travel style).  After several days, I opted for The Inspired Packer.  Whether you are travelling for a few days in your own province or thousands of miles away, packing signals the start of your journey.

This site is about travel.  Something I am passionate about.

If you are under 30 and your travel style involves hiking for days in the wilderness and pitching a tent where-ever you fetch up, this site probably isn’t for you.  I’m not into that much adventure.

If you are over 30 and your travel style involves staying at 5 star hotels, using taxis and local guides, this site may not hold many answers for you.  5 star hotels can be nice, but I usually don’t have that much money to spend.

But, if your are moderately active, seek low-cost travel experiences and are not afraid to climb aboard local transport and discover a place on your own, you may find answers here.

Picture:  Here we are at the Halifax airport ready to hit the road for 6 weeks.