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Poutine and Our Cabin on the Bluff…

by Sava

We are back from our 5 week summer vacation that began in the enchanting Quebec City. It was pouring rain when we arrived at 9:30 in the morning, but when you are from California you welcome the rain, since it is such a novelty!!! It was too early to check in, but they let us leave our bags at our hotel. From there we went to a charming little café for breakfast and a lovely cappuccino. With our umbrellas open for some protection (except when the wind blew the rain under it) we joined what seemed like throngs of people, all with open umbrellas, dodging one another, to have a look around. It was all very nice, but suddenly our sleepless night on the plane took over and rushed us back to our hotel and we were allowed to check in!! Fell asleep right away and stayed in dreamland until a few hours later when a few knocks on the door told us my sister Georgia and her husband Floyd had arrived. There they stood with a chilled bottle of Prosecco and cheese and crackers. A very nice way to wake up!! We spent the next day exploring the Old City which, we read, is “one of the most beautiful and walkable cities in the world”. The sun was shining and we felt like we were in France as we walked in view of the St. Lawrence river and heard conversations in French all around us. The stunningly beautiful Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac Hotel stood solid as a castle towering over Old Quebec built in 1892and renovated/added to over the years since then. We walked through the lobby with its old world charm, glittering in gold and polished wood.

We ate lunch at an outdoor grill and decided to share their poutine, which is a fast food dish originating in Quebec. The basic recipe is made with French fries and cheese curds topped with a light, brown gravy. This place had a number of different choices, however. One with pulled pork and bacon added, another with caramelized onions and bacon, and finally one with duck and caramelized onions and all with a Jack Daniels Honey sauce over the top. We tried the second one and enjoyed it along with our other choices. Some years ago, one of our Canadian friends said, “It’s all about the gravy” which makes it or breaks it, so to speak. Poutine has made its way over the border and onto the menus of various restaurants here in the states. I’m sure they all put “their spin” on the recipe.

After walking around the lower city for a few hours we finally decided it was time to go home to Randolph, VT. We spent 5 days there then on up to Portland, Maine to celebrate the life of our Dear Aunt Effie of blessed memory. It was a wonderful reunion with our cousins whom we hadn’t seen since the week we all spent together last year at the incredible villa in Greece. The next day the 4 of us left for our cabin in Nova Scotia where our brother Jim and his wife Dianne waited for us. We arrived on a sunny Wednesday and the view from here on the bluff over the ocean took our breath away, as it always does when we’ve been away from it for so long. We spent the next day relaxing and looking forward to Friday when we would be driving to Halifax to pick up our oldest grand-son, Jack, who would be staying with us for 10 days. It would be his first time at the cabin (which was a gift from us on his 16th birthday in April). Fast forward to picking him up, having lunch in New Glasgow and back to the cabin 3 hours later. When I took him upstairs to show him where he would be sleeping, he dropped his duffel, turned in a circle and said, “This is one of the best birthday presents I ever got! Thank you so much!” And so it began, 10 days of fishing in the river and the surf catching some big striped bass (which he scaled and gutted himself and was eaten alive by mosquitos), a few nice sized brook trout, swimming at the “pipes”, dinner with friends/neighbors at our house and theirs, bonfires at night playing “ghost” and “stink pink”, getting the boats dow to the water, driving in a rain storm to Baddeck for their lobster supper (all you can eat seafood chowder and mussels, one choice of lobster, salmon, steak or ham, salad and 5 different choices of dessert. It used to be all you can eat dessert, too, but not anymore!) We played one of our favorite games in the evening, Catch Phrase, and laughed a lot. He was thrilled that his $25 turned into $32 Canadian. He had learned a few things, too, about our rustic little cabin, like how to start the pump in the woods to get water up to the cistern. He found out if we want a hot shower we must boil water for the bucket in the bathroom that is then pumped into the shower by the generator (can we hear it for the showers at home that have hot and cold running water??) Somehow, though, these cabin showers are infinitely more satisfying than those at home! Of course, we do also have an outside shower that is icy cold and brings out a few yelps in those brave few who choose that one! He enjoyed Nanaimo Bars for the first time, not to mention numerous coconut cream pies! We may have a rustic cabin but our dining is anything but! We have a great propane stove and propane refrigerator, although this year that fridge pilot light kept going out…annoying. We used a lot of ice! Had some rainy and chilly nights as well as perfect sunny days. We have a 16 mile drive into town, Guysborough, where we grocery shop, get fresh water, go to the liquor store and bakery and often eat lunch. One of our favorites is Big G’s. Excellent food. The best souvlaki this side of Greece!!

So Jack holds the family record for the most fish caught! They were quite delicious, too. He even shared 4 of them with 4 of our good friends. The 10 days slip by and we take him back to Halifax airport. He told me he is going to make sure he always has enough money in his bank account to buy a ticket to Nova Scotia! I hope this is the beginning of many more of our kids and grandkids coming to and enjoying our cabin on the bluff!! These are the memories that sustain us.

See you next time! Yassou!

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Maddie White September 20, 2015 at 4:56 am

Enjoyed the synopsis of your extended vacation immensely. Although I am of French descent, I have never been to Quebec. I’ve only driven through Nova Scotia and lived in Newfoundland for a year. Perhaps I’ve missed one of the jewels of our continent.

Sava September 20, 2015 at 9:39 am

It’s not too late, Maddie! It really is a beautiful city! Do you speak French at all??

Penny Jessop September 21, 2015 at 3:57 pm

What a wonderful image you have left me with, after reading your travel log of your time spent in Nova Scotia. What a family treasure!

Sava October 9, 2015 at 7:30 pm

Hi Penny, Sorry it has taken so long for me to respond. So glad you liked my blog. We had such a great time. We are fortunate to have such a treasure, for sure! Wish it were closer!! Hope you are well and happy! Hugs!!

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