Biggest Ball of String

Our road trip adventures, quirky roadside attractions, generally in the United States or Canada (and with occasional travel off the mainland into Hawaii, Alaska, Caribbean and Europe – so far)

Halifax, Nova Scotia

on April 14, 2013

As mentioned last week, we took the CAT Ferry from Maine to Yarmouth,Yarmouth Nova Scotia, and then drove around the south point of Nova Scotia and up the other side, to Halifax.
Yarmouth area

It looked EXACTLY like I thought it should.  When I was little, I had a book about some little kids who explored the rocks and caves in Maine, and something happened with a gigantic crab or lobster… I forget exactly what… and since I can’t remember enough about it, I can’t find it… but for my age group, it was a “thriller”… ANYway – all of the pictures and these big, giant boulders, and that’s exactly what Nova Scotia looked like.  Like we were miniature in the land of giant..boulders.  AND, it was misty and overcast often, which is exactly what it should be…in my imagination… so, I wasn’t at all disappointed.

Actually, the first few days we were there, it was really nice and hot.  TheFreezing cold Atlantic ocean, however, was FREEZING!! How is it that the air temperature (in July) could be 105-110° Fahrenheit, and the water SO COLD that I couldn’t get in deeper than my toes, and even that hurt!!!!!?  I blamed it on “the Atlantic”. (I can’t help it – I’ve mostly only been in the Pacific, and it’s always warm – I mean, later, we were in Tofino, British Columbia, and that’s when I discovered that it was the latitude, not the ocean, that accounted for the icy waters…but that’s a blog for a later time.)

Halifax, established in 1749, is now a town of approximately 390,000, Lighthouses 1according to the 2011 Census.

Since we were visiting friends, and not doing really tourist-y things, the only thing I remember straight off is that we ate lobster.  Now, the way I heard the story is that they picked up yummy fresh lobster in fancy packaging (see previous blog – I pretend a lobster tail is “fancy packaging” for some sort of yummy food. … I can’t see the entire lobster and eat it…) ~ actually, Peter and the guy we were visiting went to the pier and picked some lobsters fresh from the barrels… ANYway – “lalalalalalal”, she says, with her hands over her ears…

At some point, the people we were staying with ended up in a great, big, huge angry argument about something (I can’t remember what about BUT it WASN’T anything to do with us!).  It was loud and angry, and we were uncomfortable, so we tiptoed out the back door and went for a walk.

Little did I know that we’d stumble upon a highlight of the trip.  And, since Halifax Town Clockwe’d snuck out, I didn’t have my camera (or wallet or purse or anything, for that matter), so I missed this, in pictures.  It was night-time, and suddenly, we found ourselves in a cemetery.  (The fourth and final cemetery of this particular trip – the other three were planned, but this one was a complete surprise ~ the Fairview Lawn Cemetery.)

At first, we were just strolling along – I want to say it was lit up by the full moon, but that just might be my memories now… but it was well-lit, anyway… as we “browsed” the headstones, we became aware (gradually), that the headstones all had the same dates…April 15, 1912.

Everyone knows the story, or at least have heard enough about it, or at least saw the movie to get the heart wrenching, tear jerking gist of the tragedy of the Titanic.  I can’t even talk about it.  You can do your own research if you want/need further details.

Or, watch the movie.  I didn’t want to watch it. I resisted it. I refused to go to the theater.  Then, a friend brought it over, because the music was beautiful… I cried from the very beginning and had nightmares for… a long, long time.   Can you believe that the movie came out 16 years ago!!?

In Halifax, you will find the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, which includesMaritime Museum 1 artifacts, photographs, and details about the Titanic and it’s tragedy.  Rescue workers sent all Titanic survivors to New York, but all those who perished were sent to Halifax.   The map does seem like it’s pretty equal distance, either way…
Maritime Museum

Also found in the Museum is information about the Halifax Explosion, another tragedy, just 5 years after the Titanic, December 6, 1917.

As we know, this was during World War I, and one of the ships in the Halifaxanchor port was loaded down with (transporting) ammunition.  (I guess normally that would’ve been indicated by a red flag or something, but they were trying to be sneaky to avoid attracting attention enemy submarines.)  Another ship in port was carrying relief efforts…  Neither wanted to change their course, and by the time they understood the impending danger, it was too late, and they collided.

Unfortunately, a crowd had gathered on the wharf because of the burning ships… plus, there was the normal hustle and bustle of the businesses along the harbor…The explosion that followed levelled the port of Halifax and killed 2000 people and injured 9000 more.

Halifax Tragically, sailors from the ship carrying the explosives (the SS Mont-Blanc) tried to warn the spectators of the terrible looming danger, they were speaking French and nobody understood them.  Terrible terrible terrible.

HalifaxExplosion.org explains: “the air was filled with the sound of bursting flames, billowing smoke, explosions, fire bells, and crowd reactions all around… and then a momentary silence…”

The shockwave from the following explosion travelled about 1500 meters perSeagull second; the heat was “in excess of 5000c” and the heat vaporized the water around the ship, and produced a 16 meter tidal wave straight to the pier.  The before-and-after pictures are devastating.   (Is 5000c” Celsius? If it is then it’s around 8540° Fahrenheit… in other words, unfathomable… To put that into perspective, the inner core of the Earth is estimated to be between 7026° Celsius (12680° Fahrenheit), as per the World Book EncyclopediaWikipedia reports approximately 5700° Kelvin (5430° Celsius, 9800° Fahrenheit)…the surface of the Sun is estimated to be around 5726° Celsius/10340° Fahrenheit… hmmmmm)

More Nova Scotia details next Sunday.

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