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Cruising with Bad Pennies
By Barbara Washburn
By all accounts, the Bad Pennies’ latest adventure – a cruise with 10K hikes in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick – HAD IT ALL … great weather, superb cuisine, entertainment of every description, and wonderful new friends in the Volkssporting tradition.
Three Peninsula Pathfinders, Pat Schoenster, Mary Scull, and yours truly left Hampton Roads around 2:30am on Labor Day, Sept. 4th, to meet the rest of the Bad Pennies (sixteen of us in all) at Union Station in D.C. We were to be picked up by Greyhound at 8:00am sharp and taken to board the ship in New York harbor…with no waiting for stragglers.
Therein began the adventure!
It dawned on us a few days before that arriving at Union Station well into a Holiday weekend might mean there was no parking available. Time had to be allowed to go to the airport if necessary, and be shuttled or taxied back. When our plans fell into place perfectly, we felt we’d been “touched by an angel”. We were sure of it when, standing in front of the Union Station in the wee hours, a lady walked up and said, “Hey, you look like hikers!” Joann and her husband proved to be the first arrivals of the Bad Pennies.
Our bus trip to New York was swift and uneventful for most of the passengers. For me, it was an unfolding of scene after anticipated scene. I confess to never having been north of D.C. The New Jersey turnpike didn’t seem so daunting (maybe because it was early morn on a Holiday) and the New York skyline magnificent and unreal, as if it might be a Lego sculpture.
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Equally amazing was the efficiency and speed and crowd control by Carnival Victory staff in boarding close to three thousand passengers and having lunch ready for them on arrival.
We took seats by the windows, the better to watch the ship’s departure. Sure enough, it seemed as easy to back out of the dock as backing one’s car out of the driveway. Heading down the Hudson River out to the open sea gave us front row seats to watch the forecasted storm approach. First the entire New York skyscraper skyline was fully visible. Minute by minute it disappeared into the fog and heavy rain, as if being erased on a blackboard. Passing the Statue of Liberty was such a thrill, despite its familiar image on post cards and
This was the inaugural season for Carnival Victory, our’s being it’s second voyage. It is truly a floating city of thirteen stories with every conceivable service, shops, entertainment, gourmet dining, midnight buffets, and of course, the ever-present gambling casino. There was even a jogging track on top deck. It was indeed a curiosity to watch the tidal wave in the swimming pool caused by the motion of the ship. That same rhythm rocked us to sleep at night like a giant waterbed.
A really neat surprise was finding our beds turned down at night, a chocolate on the pillow, and a different towel sculpture each evening on the foot of the bed.
There were swans, elephants, poodles, snakes, lobsters, crabs, etc. Classes were arranged the last day at sea to teach those skills to passengers – and also to view the artistry in sculpturing ice; chocolate, cheese, watermelons, and vegetables. The creativity was astounding.
Of course, the heart of the trip for Volksmarchers were the 10K's arranged in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Our first stop was in New Brunswick where we were met
by Ray and Phyllis Mulholland, local members, who served as guides and historians. Ray, we were to discover,
is also the local clown and made balloon animals for us as we walked. Making a McDonald stop, these good Bad Pennies gave away their balloons to the children, while Ray sat down to make more for the rest of the children. Somehow, it didn’t surprise me to see a McLobster on the menu. The Mulhollands were terrific and gracious and gave each of us a certificate for participating in the “Welcome to Canada” event.
Since New Brunswick had been the escape habitat for British Loyalists fleeing from the victorious American Rebels after the War of Independence, I was disappointed in not finding a book on it’s history. But wait…there at dockside among the displays was the definitive book, “New Brunswick, a Short History” and author, Tim Frink, to autograph and inscribe it for me. I smiled up at my angel
Nova Scotia was equally enchanting. We were met by Canadian Volkssport Federation president, Lionel Conrad, his wife Lily, and two other members of their club to guide our walk. Halifax is a thriving port city, the Provincial Capitol, and the commercial, administrative, and maritime center for the whole of Atlantic
Canada. We counted at least four universities on the map. It was also pledge week, and everywhere freshmen were duct-taped to the top of streetlights while others in other-worldly garb were collecting for various charities. Ah-h, Sweet Youth! Our hosts also presented us with a certificate plus an honorary membership in the oldest social club in North America, ”Order of the Good Time”. It began in 1606 in Nova Scotia, founded by great explorer-historian Samuel de Champlain to keep his men in “good cheer” during the harsh winter months.
Time to be homeward bound! Reflecting on the good times we had, Joann Phillips (our psychic friend from Union Station) won a Canadian Bear for being the Baddest Penny…by drawing, not by behavior…and also hit the casino jackpot for $125 in quarters. I’m sure she was dragging! Our hats are off to Bad Pennies’ president, Matt Pernick for planning
and hosting such a wonderful trip. Best wishes to all the Bad Pennies whose presence added so much fun: Nelson and Marlene Cahill, Sharon Damron, Jane Errico, Norman Finney, Carol and David Kerlin, Jack and Jean Lawrence, and Roberta and Ronald McCollum. (Congratulations to Roberta
for being elected the next Bad Pennies’ treasurer.)
I have a whole new appreciation for the generosity and hospitality extended by the host countries to make us welcome and vow to reciprocate as we have the opportunity.
My most amazing post-cruise sensation…it took several days before my bed stopped rocking at night. Hey! Maybe if cruising is a state-of-mind, we can explore how to go there all the time!
ADVENTURE 21 – CANADIAN MARITIME CRUISE by Ron McCallum
Bad Pennies Adventure 21 began early on Labor Day with 16 Bad Pennies boarding a bus at Washington DC’s Union Station. After a comfortable, uneventful, and relatively quick bus ride we arrived at New York City’s Pier 88 near the west end of 52nd Street in Manhattan. We immediately got off the bus, turned our luggage over to the local stevedores, and got into the first of several lines to begin boarding our “home” for the next five days, Carnival Cruise Line’s newest ship, the Carnival Victory.
The Carnival Victory was “brand new”, ours being only the second 5-day cruise the ship had ever made. We would be reminded of this fact on several occasions in the coming days. The Victory is the third ship in Carnival’s Destiny-series, which are the world’s first 100,000+ ton cruise ships. From keel to the top of the funnel the ship is 23 stories high. It is about 50 yards wide and nearly 3 football fields long. It is powered by 6 diesel engines capable of generating 85,000 horsepower and its power plant can generate 63 megawatts of electricity—enough to power a small town.
and nearly 1100 crewmembers. Its main theater, the Caribbean Lounge, seats 1400 passengers for its nightly Broadway and Las Vegas style shows. It also has a 15,000 square feet health and fitness center and an Internet Café, where passengers can check e-mail or surf the Web via high-speed satellite link for “only” $.75 per minute. I think all of the Bad Pennies found other ways to relax and to occupy their time aboard the Victory.
Although some on the trip had hoped to do one of the New York City Year Round (YRE) Walks before the ship sailed at 5:00PM, there really wasn’t enough time. The weather did not cooperate either, as it changed from warm and sultry to cold, windy, and rainy as a cold front pushed through the area in mid-afternoon. Further, we all had to find and then get settled into our cabins and begin to explore this huge, new mega-cruiser. One of the first stops for everyone seemed to be the Lido Deck where a sumptuous buffet lunch was being served in the Mediterranean Restaurant. This was merely the first of many eating and culinary adventures in the next few days.
Shortly after 5:00PM, and following the obligatory lifeboat drill, the rain and wind began to let up. As we sailed south on the Hudson River with the Manhattan skyline on our left (Make that “port”!), on the starboard side we passed Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty while the sun was setting through the breaking clouds in the West. There were a few tense moments when we passed under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. Those people standing on the top decks swore that it appeared the top of the ship cleared the bottom of the bridge by only a few inches. However, some of the crewmembers were just as adamant that we had at least a couple feet to spare.
Tuesday, the first full day of the cruise, was a “day at sea” as we sailed east and north off the New England coast toward the Canadian Maritime Provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Most of the Bad Pennies spent the day just relaxing and exploring many of the activities the ship had to offer. However, I don’t believe we had anyone enter the Men’s Hairy Chest Contest. A few hardy souls tried walking laps on the short (less than 1/10th mile) outdoor jogging track located up on the ship’s 11th deck, only to find out that cruising at 20 knots and walking into a 30 –35 knot headwind with the temperature in the high 40s or low 50s is not a lot of fun. It didn’t take long to discover that you could do laps the entire length ship while inside on the 7th deck. That evening most of us enjoyed the Captain’s reception, followed by a wonderful formal dinner, and the ship’s musical show, “Living In America.”
About 8:00 AM on a cool and sunny Wednesday morning, the ship docked at our first port of call, Saint John (No, not Saint Johns!), New Brunswick, Canada. It is Canada’s first incorporated city and lies at the mouth of the 450 mile Saint John River on the Bay of Fundy. One of Canada’s chief winter seaports, Saint John boasts a year-round ice-free harbor and a historical tradition of shipbuilding. French explorer Samuel de Champlain, who arrived at the mouth of the river in 1604 on the feast day of St. John the Baptist, named Saint John. The settlement boomed after 1783, when a large number of United Empire Loyalists who wished to remain loyal to the British crown emigrated from the original American 13 colonies. They established Parr Town and Carleton around the harbor. In 1785, the two communities merged as Saint John and became the county seat and thus Canada’s first incorporated city.
As we disembarked from the ship for our first walk, a barbershop chorus, singing a medley of Irish song such as “McNamara’s Band”, serenaded us. Local residents in period costume also presented each of the ladies in our group with a red rose. This was just one of the indication of the hospitality and Irish heritage of New Brunswick. This hospitable tradition continued as we met our hosts and guides for the New Brunswick walk, Ray Mulholland and his wife, Phyllis, of the Oromocto Volksmarch Club.
We left the port area and began our walk of St. John. Our first stop was at the Three Sisters Lamp, an oversized, red triple streetlight, which when aligned from sea with the red light atop the steeple of the Saint John Stone Church, guided sailors safely into the Saint John harbor. We then began walking up and down the hills of Saint John and through the working class neighbor hoods, passing near the former homes of Hollywood luminaries Louis B. Mayer (of Metro-Goldwin-Mayer), Donald Sutherland, and Walter Pidgeon. Our trail then climbed to the beautiful Horticultural Gardens where one Bad Penny asked, “What kind of flowers are these?” To which our host, Ray, pointed and replied, “These are red ones, these are white ones, and these are yellow ones…..” We then walked on to Rockwood Park—2200 acres of woodland, lakes, and trails and the largest park in Canada that’s entirely located within a city. As we entered the park we noticed the first of several busses carrying passengers from the Victory on a “shore excursion”. Our walk around the park’s Lily Lake really made us feel we were deep in the Canadian woods.
After climbing yet another hill overlooking the lake, we took a break and one of Ray Mulholland’s hidden avocations began to emerge as he began taking balloons from his knapsack and started making balloon animals for each of the Bad Pennies. By the time we left the park Marlene Cahill had an orange “Tigr” balloon, Mickie McCallum had a gray mouse, Matt Pernick had a blue “Matt Bear”, Jack Lawrence had a yellow fish (which he wore as a hat), and so forth.
We soon learned that Ray has second life as “Tinsel the Clown”, specializing in “the magic of balloon manipulation”. We were convinced that he is a master of his craft. While we were waiting to cross a busy street with our balloons, fanny packs, and “shed” layers of clothing, someone commented that “we are being watched by the local constabulary” as a Saint John police car drove slowly by.
Our trail then took us through an uptown Saint John neighborhood of lovely Victorian homes, including the Red Rose Mansion and B&B. This is the site of the first telephone in Saint John and the origin of the popular Red Rose Tea. We then climbed our last major hill to Fort Howe, overlooking the city and offering a panoramic view of Saint John, the harbor, and our ship.
Again, we saw several busses with our fellow ship passengers aboard. After taking the obligatory photos, we began our descent back into the city. But first we made a “pit stop” at a Canadian McDonalds where several Bad Pennies indulged in a unique culinary experience—a “McLobster” sandwich, containing 100% lobster meat on a roll with lettuce and dressing!
We continued on to Saint John’s downtown area, which is a blend of historic streetscapes and architectural styles, modern conveniences and buildings of contemporary design. We walked through the Old City market—Canada’s oldest continuing farmers market. The design of the Market reflects Saint John’s shipbuilding tradition with the roof resembling the inverted hull of a ship. Built in 1876, the market still has stalls filled with handcrafted items, local produce, and according to the tourist brochures, “special delicacies in season…lobster, fiddleheads, salmon, and of course dulse (dried seaweed).” (A few Bad Pennies sought to sample a freshly steamed lobster after the walk, only to find it more difficult (and expensive) than the brochures would lead you to believe.)
The final highlight of the walk was King’s Square, one of the city’s most prominent (and beautiful) squares, which has changed very little in the past 100 years or so. The park’s paths, which are laid out in the design of the Union Jack, give a bit of a clue to the British past. Most of the trees in the park were planted in 1883 as part of a centennial project for the square and a quaint two-story bandstand was added in 1909. After viewing the gorgeous flowerbeds in the park (and listening to a few more of Ray’s unique descriptions of the park’s monuments), we made our way back to the Old Market where we said good-bye to Ray, Phyllis, and the rest of our new Canadian friends. We then set out in small groups for lunch, to further explore Saint John, or continue the Great Lobster Hunt. (Nelson and Marlene Cahill “won” the hunt and located a lobster “pound” directly across from the ship.)
All Bad Pennies made it back to the ship in time to sail for Nova Scotia. As our ship pulled away from the pier, a lone bag piper in full Scottish regalia from busby to kilt and spats played a series of traditional bagpipe songs, ending with “Amazing Grace.” Truly a memorable moment!
Before dinner on Tuesday night Carnival hosted a cocktail party for previous Carnival cruisers. We ended up at a table with (non-Volkmarching) “frequent cruiser” couples from Florida and Pennsylvania and naturally the discussion turned to what everyone had done while ashore. The other couples talked about their $25-$45 per person bus tours which took them to Fort Howe, the Old Market, Kings Square, and drove them through Rockwood Park and the Saint John’s historic uptown neighborhood. Mickie and I almost got into a “Yeah, we did that” mantra without rubbing it in that we saw it all “up close and personal”, didn’t pay $25-$45 to ride a bus for a couple hours, and got some great exercise, fresh air, and fellowship to boot! Ah, the joys of Volksmarching.
We arrived at our second port of call, Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia, about 8:00AM on Thursday morning. Halifax is a lively, cosmopolitan oceanside city, filled with history. The second largest natural harbor in the world, Halifax’s origins lie in its ideal geographic positioning. The original residents, the MicMac Indians, called the area Chebuctook, meaning “Great Long Harbor”. In 1605, a company of men from France headed by explorer Samuel de Champlain, Sieur de Monts, and Sieur de Poutrincourt, set up a post at Port Royal for the purpose of trade and exploration. In the 18th Century, the British recognized the area’s strategic potential in protecting their colonies from the growing military strongholds of their rival, the French. British Governor Cornwallis and 2500 settlers arrived in 1749 to found Halifax, named for English nobleman George Montague Dunk, Earl of Halifax. Since then, Halifax has maintained a strong military tradition as the principal naval outpost on Canada’s east coast.
Lionel Conrod, President of the Canadian Volksport Federation, Lionel’s wife Lilly, and several members of the Dartmouth Volksmarch Club met us in Halifax. In a bit of a surprise, Lionel indoctrinated and presented each of us with a membership certificate into the Order of the Good Time (“L’Ordre du Bon Temps”)—the oldest social club in North America.
The Order was established in November 1606 by Champlain to combat the dangers of colonization--winter’s harshness, death by scurvy, and the mental depression resulting from boredom. Champlain realized that keeping the men in good cheer could solve part of their problems. Thus he devised a plan—the Order of Good Time—to fortify the spirits of the men who created a new home in the uncharted wilderness. Today’s Order is unique in many ways—it collects no initiation fee, charges no dues, and never meets formally. They only ask four things of us as new members: to have good time, to remember Nova Scotia fondly, to speak of them kindly, and to come back again. Agreeing to those conditions, 16 Bad Pennies set off on the Halifax walk.
We left Cruise Ship Terminal area and walked along Halifax Harbor boardwalk, stopping briefly at Summit Plaza, where an arch and a plaque commemorate the meeting of world leaders during the 1999 Halifax G-7 Economic Summit.
Continuing along the boardwalk, we passed a number of tugboats, ferries, and sailing ships before coming to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and the Merchant Navy Memorial. All along the boardwalk we were offered rides (for a price) in “rickshaws” pulled by what appeared to be very fit college students. Near the end of the boardwalk was a major historic restoration project begun in the 1970s. The four-acre Privateer’s Wharf dates back to the 1800s when it was the center of Halifax activity, welcoming trading vessels and Privateers alike. It was from Halifax that many of the Privateers, actually licensed by the British crown to raid enemy vessels, set sail and returned with their bounty.
Heading up into downtown Halifax, we eventually reached an open square known as the Grand Parade, a military parade ground from the earliest days of the town and still a central gathering place. The square is “anchored” on one end by the Halifax City Hall and on the other end by St Paul’s Church, the oldest building in Halifax (1750) and the first Protestant church in Canada. Looking up the hill toward the Halifax Citadel we could see the Old Town Clock, one of Halifax’s most famous monuments and provided an appropriate backdrop for a “class picture” of this Bad Pennies adventure.
As we left the Grand Parade we passed the former site of the Victoria School of Art and Design, founded in 1887. On of the patrons of the Victoria School was Ana Leonowens—whose earlier experiences as governess to the King of Siam’s children formed the basis for the musical The King and I. We continued up through several busy shopping districts on Spring Garden Road until we reached the Halifax YMCA, which is also the start/finish for the Halifax YRE, for a brief “pit stop”.
From the YMCA we walked through the Halifax Public Gardens--17 acres of winding pathways, duck ponds, fountains, and absolutely vibrant formal flowerbeds. In the center of the Gardens is a charming red-roofed bandstand, where concerts are held on summer Sunday afternoons.
As we left the Public Gardens we passed a large cemetery, which has the distinction of being the only cemetery with a traffic signal light inside the graveyard. It appeared in the Guinness Book of Records!
Before long it seemed we were on a Canadian college campus tour. Within the next few kilometers we passed through the campuses of Dalhousie University, Kings College, and St. Mary’s University, before finally beginning our descent back down to the port area. Most of us spent the afternoon further exploring the downtown Halifax area. A few adventurous souls also tried to squeeze in a visit to Pier 21—“Canada’s Ellis Island”. From 1928 to 1971 Pier 21 was Canada’s “front door” to nearly one million immigrants, wartime evacuees, refugees, troops, war brides, and their children. Pier 21, a national historic site, has been transformed into a highly interactive interpretive center.
Sailing out of Halifax on Thursday evening, we settled in for another leisurely “day at sea” on Friday. We all attended a Friday night cocktail party, hosted by Vanguard Travel. Bad Pennies President, Matt Pernick, took this opportunity to present the “Baddest Penny” award—a Canadian Mountie teddy bear—to Joann Phillips.
We arrived back in New York City on Saturday morning as the sun was rising from behind the Manhattan skyline. It was a very busy morning at the cruise ship terminal with four other cruise ships docking almost immediately after the Carnival Victory. This meant 7000-8000 passengers all disembarking at about the same time, which in turn meant claiming your luggage and finding your bus back to Washington was a bit of a challenge; but we all made it. This was also the weekend that the United Nations General Assembly, with the heads of state and foreign ministers from over 100 countries, was meeting on the other side of town. Needless to say there was a bit of traffic for a Saturday morning. It seemed warm on the bus as we left the terminal, but the driver assured us it would get cooler when we got on the road. Once we made it through the Lincoln Tunnel we felt we would soon be back at Union Station. However, as the outside temperature pushed past 80 degrees, we sat in a traffic jam on the New Jersey Turnpike and the inside temperature pushed (what seemed like) well into the 90s. It soon was obvious the air conditioning on the bus was not working. But, the bus driver borrowed a cell phone and called ahead to Philadelphia arrange for us to transfer to a bus with air conditioning that worked. As a result, we were treated to an unscheduled driving tour of Philadelphia, which included riding past Independence Hall.
We arrived back at Union Station cooler, and later than expected, but filled with some wonderful memories of Bad Pennies Adventure 21—cruising to the Canadian Maritime Provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.