It's all about the food

I think of myself as a bit of a foodie.
I know, I know, it's so bloody trendy to be a foodie these days, but in the last decade, I've really began to enjoy all aspects of food. And
when I'm in Montreal I have so many favorite places.
The best bagels in the country at St. Viaterur Bagel. I only go late at night and get a dozen white seed (sesame seed) with a tub each of cream chese and lox (smoked salmon).
They'll be hot from the wood fired oven and in my opinion, must be eaten within the hour.
That seems extreme to many who would argue that they're perfectly acceptable as long as they're toasted for breakfast the following morning. I've never had any left by morning,...
There are those who would argue that another, nearby bagel shop is superior, bah! No bagel shops that offer raisin bagels on my list thank you,...

I'm staying with my Dad and his wife and there is a lovely little spot just at the corner.
Toucheh, Italian with a hint of Persian.
We enjoyed a lovely meal there the other night and I was so moved by the community felling.
We were treated with a warmth I've rarely experienced.

Although Montreal is a city with thousands of restaurants, many of which are quite illustrious, many of the spots I love are the little, out of the way gems that I only know from having grown up here. And now you know!

A wonderful example of that is Momesso's.
A little hole in the wall with the most wonderful spicy Italian sausage subs, on great, crusty bread.
Oh man it's good! Plus it's one of the only places I know of where you can still get Brio. I don't drink pop but as a kid, Brio was a staple with pizza. As a kid I was crazy about the real, family run pizzerias in Montreal. the big chains don't stand a chance here. Most of the old family pizzerias are gone now, mine was burned down by,.....

Smoked meat, now we're at the heart of the Montreal food scene. absolutely every Montrealer has their favorite spot, and each has powerful arguments for their loyalty. For me there are two types of smoked meat joints. The big old delis, like Dunn's, Snowden deli and Ben's, the latter being my favorite, now long since demolished. And the little joints Schwartz's, Lester's and The Main Deli, my smoked meat of choice.

The last spot I'll tell you about is a true, classic greasy spoon! A simply marvelous experience you mustn't miss, if your doctor will allow you! Cosmo's This is the ultimate breakfast. In summer, enjoy sitting on the sidewalk with everyone who knows, and in winter share the tiny 8 person counter with the real die hards. Be prepared to chat with both the staff and the patrons. You may be the only person not known by name, but not the next time.
There's even a documentary about the place and Tony the patriarch, who sadly passed away in the summer of 2013.


I couldn't say I got an early start, but it afforded a lovely late breakfast with Neil and his wife at a
local favorite, lost the name,.....hmmm.
While saying our goodbyes, Neil proposed we try to improve the nasty gaps in the tilt (canvas roof) on the Rover. The canvas has shrunk badly and scoops massive amounts of air into my left ear. Well and Geordie's right.

With such a late start and really crappy weather, I opted for a more southerly route and to stay
somewhere in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
I didn't really get far enough south for spectacular vistas, but it was a nice drive the following day through a few passes.

Crossed Champlain Bridge into Montreal and went straight to my favorite Souvlaki joint. Villa Du Souvlaki.
I've been eating here for about 33 years! Still the best anywhere.

Later I spent a wonderful evening with friends, enjoying their new hot tub until very late,...

Into America

Last minute wiring.
On the road at last, sort of.

I'm taking a side trip to Montreal, my old home town to visit some friends, but most importantly my father who is not well. So I've left the Argosy in Saint John and headed for the USA.

It's a much nicer drive to Montreal through northern Maine than the ridiculous northern route through Canada. This also gives me another chance to have a beer with Dr. Neil Fisher, whose works at the University of Maine.
A beautiful, bright sunny day, and a speedy run to the border at Calais Maine. Yes, speedy, without the coach, it's tempting to run a bit quick, will have to curb that.
Once in Maine it was an easy run down the Airline, Route 9, which used to be a pretty ratty road, but it's lovely now.

Dropped into Dr. Fisher's lab mid afternoon and got a tour.
I just love this place, Neil has the coolest job!
Besides the ocean radar research, he deploys buoys throughout the Gulf of Maine that record all matter of science stuff, but coolest of all, submarines!
YES, I said submarines, Neil has these little yellow subs, which have no propulsion, rather they glide by compressing
a balloon of air in the nosecone, thus reducing it's buoyancy so it sinks, or glides because it has wings. collecting data all the while, as it reaches it's predetermined depth, it lets the balloon expand again, increasing it's buoyancy and rises to the surface, again on a glide path. Then it surfaces, zaps all the data it's collected by cell phone to the central server, get a GPS fix on it's location, instructions from the server and submerges for another cycle, so very, very cool!

After the tour, well, off to the pub!
Great spot, Woodman's in Orono Maine. We were met there by Jim, great guy and fellow
Rover enthusiast.
I had an amazing steak and a sampling of local beers.

The night ended a bit late,...

In with the new

Back on the road!
Setting up a Salisbury (Dana 60) rear end is a long process. It's in, new ring and pinion, bearings, seals and flange.
Dialed in with a perfect contact patch and preload.  Love it!
While the truck was on the hoist lot's of other maintenance was undertaken. The entire front end rebuilt, drive shafts, transfer case, emergency brake, new shocks.
One extra modification was the addition of 30mm wheel spacers. The truck has pretty big tires and they hit the springs when turning sharp. I could set the steering stops to avoid that but I want to maximize the turning ability. The
spacers fix that and widen the overall stance which will improve handling.
Unfortunately when the spacers arrived they were for the later coil spring Land Rovers. Nothing a visit to good friend Peter McKelvey and his well equipped machine shop couldn't fix.
Just needed to cut off an extra flange real Land Rovers don't need.
I just got in from road testing, what an amazing difference!
Off to Montreal,...

Fundy Park

My girlfriend, Donna is visiting for a few days, and with the truck still on hold waiting for parts we thought we'd go on a bit of a tour. Started with a fabulous brunch in uptown Saint John at Magnolia  Cafe. I had a wild Eggs Benedict, Donna had panko battered, deep fried French Toast. Perhaps not as amazing as it sounds, but a neat spot. From there we walked around a bit, as I've mentioned, I've become enamored with the city, love all the old buildings and the steep streets.
But I was really amazed when we came to the harbor and there was,... The Queen Mary II!!
I couldn't believe it! I just love the old liners and this boat just represents a whole era of travel that I adore. Next to the Carnival Cruise thing behind her, the QMII was radiant! Love this!
After much Googling, I finally found a  suitable place to spend a couple of days, I called and booked Fundy Park Chalets.
Awesome spot, and at this time of year there is very little in the way of chalet rental. Plus really
So we're off up to Alma.
Checked in, set up, lovely spot, increasable view, absolutely lovely people!
Off for groceries. Then bacon wrapped scallops on the Q,
The next day we head into the park and set out for some hiking, lovely trails. Our second trail was significantly longer than expected, the park maps aren't quite to scale,...
The inlet in the picture to the right with the covered bridge was once the site of a huge dam and lumber mill, just below they built ships to haul the timber to Europe! It's amazing, unless you look very closely, the bridge is the only trace of that era.
The next day we went to Cape Enrage and Hopewell Rocks.
The New Brunswick tourism destination of choice, which was closed. So we broke in,...
Now this place is awesome, no wonder it's such a hot spot, there's easily room for 300 cars in the parking lot. Taking pictures becomes absurd as they all look the same, but walking around you just come upon more and more amazing stuff.
Do NOT miss this on a trip to New Brunswick.

Cape St. Mary's

OK, so we need to get to Cape St. Mary's at the very bottom of Nova Scotia, Not really all that far
from here but the options are the ferry from Saint John's to Digby NS and a 40 minute drive down to the Cape. Or drive all the way around on the mainland, a 6.5 hour drive,.....
At is always seems with the ferry, the timing
never works out, so if we leave now, we'll still be at the cape ahead of the ferry,....
We fuel up and hit the road.

Cape St. Mary is another stunning spot, high over the Atlantic Ocean, more cliffs, more climbing safety fences,...
The work here was somewhat more complicated however, we had to open all the road cases full of electronic gear!
In fact by dusk there were still issues, realizing we needed to return the next day we packed up and headed for the Rudder Pub in Yarmouth.
A great spot with some nice craft brews including a splendid dark ale.
The following day was very successful as Dr. Fisher promptly sorted out the radar and we were on our way, again the ferry was of no use so we drove around again, arriving in Saint John just before midnight. Plenty of time to tidy up the remaining beers in the trunk.

At the Coast Guard tower

The work Dr. Fisher does involves sending radar pulses out across the gulf of Maine from several stations in Maine and Nova Scotia. These radar pulses bounce off waves in the gulf and using sophisticated modeling software he can map currents in the gulf with great accuracy. Cool stuff. The electronics is housed in the Coast Guard radio shed at the extreme southern tip of the island, a dramatic spot indeed.
I didn't feel I should take any pictures of the gear in the radio shed in the interest of national security but wow! what a pile of cool gear.
The installation is on a very high cliff overlooking the Gulf of Maine. I managed to climb out on a rather precarious rock bluff well beyond the safety fence,...
When you stand in a place like this, alone and in still air your mind about bubbles over, for me anyway, I'd love to build a little studio, right on this bluff, and build a beautiful but precarious stairway down to the completely inaccessible beach, what a spot it must be.
That mood was promptly squashed by the instant appearance of a Coast Guard helicopter directly overhead! "h lovely"I thought "'ve gone and pissed them off, threatening the good doctors work." Or worse, perhaps an alarm triggered when we opened the door to the computer room from hell!
Then they landed!
No worries, the little building in the picture holds 30,000 liters of jet fuel, it's a refueling stop.

Neil promptly fixed the radar, without more than some carrying and lifting on my part, well done.
And we're off to Saint John! Back on the ferry and up to the city, bookended into the hotel and off to the pub!
Britts, awesome spot, good folk behind the bar.
I had simply amazing prosciutto wrapped scallops!
Our late night walk back to the hotel was lovely, I really like Saint John, I believe it's in for a renaissance. it's a city on a hill of a peninsula with three sides to the sea. Ancient architecture and very walkable, love it!


Now we're talking!
My first adventure! My good friend and Oceanographic scientist, Dr. Neil Fisher needs help with a field maintenance tour of the Bay of  Fundy! With the truck on hold while we wait for parts, Neil picks me up on his way to Gran Manan for our first stop. Having never been to Gran Manan I was really looking forward to the trip until Neil pointed out that there isn't a single pub on the island.
Oh well I always enjoy a ferry ride.
It's good to catch up with Neil, he's a Rover buff
too and has been a good friend for many years. Everyone should know at least one scientist.
Arriving too late in the day to do any meaningful science we found the sole open restaurant and had a lovely deep fried bonanza.
Back at the motel a trunk full of beer made up for the lack of a pub.
We didn't quite see the dawn that night but made a good effort.

Out with the old

We're at Tony's and the Rover's in the shop and up on the hoist.
Moments later the rear differential is out and disemboweled. This Rover is a bit of a Frankenstein, the rear differential is out of a 1982 military Land Rover, it's seriously robust and there was good reason. The early military Land Rovers had regular Land Rover rear ends and they're prone do failure under heavy use. The British military suggested Rover find a solution and quick. That solution was to use an American Dana 60 rear end, massive by Rover standards but a godsend for anyone using their Rover
to work, as I do. One of the added benefits of having a Dana 60 rear end in the truck is availability of aftermarket goodies, like the ARB air locking differential I had installed some years ago. This locker has been both a blessing and a curse, I installed it in an era where I off roaded the truck pretty hard, and while a locker can get you out of some sticky situations it can, like any
performance enhancement, get you in more trouble. I don't off road anymore,....
Another curse from having the locker installed was the shop that did the work.
The poor thing howled and leaked from day one. the use I've put it through these last few years didn't justify the immense cost of rebuilding it but my upcoming road trip does. So with new ring and pinion gears, bearings, seals and a new drive flange on order we're going to get this rear end in top shape.While the truck was on the hoist, we changed out the front differential as well, much simpler as a Rover differential is housed in a "pumpkin" with all the gear set up done as a self contained unit. It's common to replace a Rover diff in a mud puddle on the trail in well under an hour. I had brought a good spare with me.  I murdered the old differential trying to tow a loaded dump truck out of a ditch. The rear tires slipped and all the gear crunching torque of my big V6 motor did, well, just that.

Smooth sailing

Oh what a difference!
Our antique freight train is an absolute joy now!
I moved all the heavy stuff out of the coach and into the Rover, and with the weight distribution hitch we're riding like an old Cadillac. Note I said OLD Cadillac, rather boaty with the airsprings and worn out front shocks. But very stable and easy driving.

Headed off to spend the evening with some very good friends on the Amherst shore, just before leaving Nova Scotia.

Geordie is quite used to the truck and has settled right in, it's amazing, the life of a dog, he knows we're going somewhere, but after spending his whole life in my truck, it could be an hour's drive or several days.

After a lovely evening and beautiful farmhouse sleep we're off to Saint John New Brunswick to see Tony, renown Land Rover guru and good friend. It's there, in his shop where the truck will get it's final significant maintenance. New gears in both differentials being the most pressing.
The run down to Saint John was lovely, but I did roll down the canvas tilt. The canvas roof on the Land Rover is called a tilt, go figure. It was a bit too chilly for open top motoring.

Share the load

In the bustling metropolis of Halifax I procured a weight distribution hitch. This is a engineering black magic that transfers the tongue weight of the coach to the front wheels of the truck. I actually had one at home but it was a gnarly beast and wouldn't have fit my tall truck.

I did get to start the day with a flat, had me worried for a bit, but I just pumped it up.

The weight distribution hitch needed an extra deep shank that I had to go all over town to find, pricy too!

I also sprung for an anti sway bar which is basically a shock absorber damping the hinge action between the truck and coach. I didn't really have a sway issue but it's cheap insurance.
The hitch bolted right up and wow, what a difference!
You can see the oil all over the Argosy that's been pouring out of the differential.


Wow, a fun first leg, well fun if you enjoy white knuckle driving,...
Which, oddly, I sort of do.
The thing is, everything I own is in this truck and coach, clothes, tools, instruments, and a hell of a lot of spare parts and building materials. Yes, several hundred pounds of slate and soapstone! Big plans I tell you. OK so even with the air bags in the truck pumped right up the rear of the truck was sagging and the ride was horrible. But I pushed on for Halifax at a breakneck speed with the canvas rolled up and the wind in our hair. Great fun.
Two things have become overwhelmingly evident. I have to lighten the load, dramatically! and I have to fix my poor rear differential. It's been bad for years, but with this heavy load I doubt it will make it as far as Maine. I've made arrangements to have new differential gears, bearings and such shipped to a friend with a shop in Saint John New Brunswick. He's kindly offered to swap in the gears there. Let's just hope I make it,...

Finding my way

“Our  biggest regrets aren’t the things we did. But the things we didn’t do”

                                                                                                      Lucas Scott


Fate has afforded me a period of little commitment.

How could I pass up on this opportunity to fulfill the lifelong dream of perpetual travel.  Geordie, my 8 year old golden doodle and I set out from Lunenburg Nova Scotia Canada on the adventure of a lifetime. An unknown period of travel, good food, good wine and good friends yet to be met.