blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Down east

Today we flew to New Brunswick, not thinking of the change of time zone until after 8 in the evening when we suddenly realised it was getting late, here.

"PTN departing from Rockcliffe straight out to the east," announced Chris on the airwaves, as we took off with a squawk code from Gatineau Flight Services. Our IFR flight plan was cleared as filed: maintain 5000', direct Lafit, Rabik, CYSC. CYSC is Sherbrooke airport where we have been before, and the waypoints were just triangles on the map, invisible on the ground. It was a hazy, hot day with no lightning strikes within a 200 mile radius. That was lucky. At St. Jean airport (not to be confused with Saint John, today's destination, we crossed the Richelieu River, packed with pleasure boats.

Shadows over the Maine-New Brunswick
border, from 9000 feet up
(our wing strut visible in bottom r h corner)
After a good lunch at the Resto de l'Aeroport at Sherbrooke, we were sent up to 9000'-- it took us half an hour to climb to that altitude and we stayed there, skimming through the tops of the fluffy cumulus clouds for another hour and a half, on the Victor 300 airway towards Millinocket and, before we got there, onto a direct course for another invisible waypoint called MOWND, thence to Saint John. Many wind turbines could be seen in the wilds, besides the usual rivers, lakes and forested steep hills. It was cool and smooth up there, but not so smooth on the descent to warmer air. We could see the estuaries of the rivers that pour into the Bay of Fundy, and Grand Manan Island on the horizon beyond St. Stephen's. It was easy to spot the Saint John airport beyond the city and its harbour, impossible to spot the fact that nobody was around to man the FBO which in fact had been closed for the long weekend since lunchtime. They won't be reopening till Tuesday! We arrived at supper time and had to make a phone call to ask where to park, how to get out of the airport, how to buy fuel before Tuesday. Supplied with answers to all these questions, after the FBO manager's wife had found her husband at home to answer the call, we managed to rent a car and drive into town, past the Irving Oil refinery and an amazing number of petrol stations by the roadside.

Evening view from our window at the Hilton, Saint John
I had booked us a room at a remarkably reasonable rate at the Hilton; what's more they upgraded us on arrival to a room with harbour view, high up and very satisfactory.

We took an evening walk around the town whose heyday was the 1880s, when a third of Britain's sailing ships were built here. The redbrick buildings look old; the hills down to the docks are steep. We sat on a bench on the boardwalk opposite a cluster of fishing boats starting to rise up the harbour wall with the incoming tide and watched a freight train go by. It had 56 carriages, mostly oil trucks.

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