We left Ellsworth before noon, gassed up amidst what appeared to be an octogenarian biker gang, then braced ourselves for a drive on "the Airline" - the local name for Maine Route 9. The moniker doesn't refer to air travel, but in the sense that predated mankind's first flight; it's because it's a faster route to Canada than going up and around on the modern Interstate route.
The grades were steep and there were a few potholes, but it wasn't anything like the 20 miles we had to traverse on Route 179 in order to get to Route 9. The frost heaves had frost heaves and the potholes went down multiple layers. We survived this hilly and bumpy route intact, and the Airline was a smooth ride all the way to the New Brunswick border - but we did top off our gas tank.
Our trip odometer at 1,668 miles, we experienced what was our easiest and quickest border crossing ever, then got to New Brunswick. New Brunswick is in the Atlantic Time Zone, so we skipped an hour ahead as we looked for some kind of visitor center.
We exited at one of the first opportunities, at St. Stephen, the Canadian chocolate capital. As is the norm with cities on this edge of New Brunswick, it's named after a saint. After getting a massive amount of information on New Brunswick from a particularly bubbly Wicker, we crossed the street for a late lunch at a place called Pizza Delight.
Pizza Delight, it turns out, is a small chain with locations around New Brunswick. We were the only people in the whole place, and after admiring my extremely bent fork, we decided to split something called a Donair.
A Donair is kind of a local thing - you don't see them much outside New Brunswick. It consists of a pizza crust, a little tomato sauce, Donair meat (similar to the thin lamb meat you'd find in a gyro), pepperoni, and cheese, all baked like a pizza. On top go fresh lettuce, tomatoes, and a thick, sweet garlic sauce called Donair sauce.
It's fairly hard to describe, but just think of a meat lover's pizza with a minimalist salad on top and you'll be close. I was skeptical at first but then came to love it.
We entertained the two waitresses there for a while before getting back on NB 1 to Saint John, which we got to and passed through within the span of five minutes. It's the largest city in New Brunswick, which tells you a lot about the population of this province.
There wasn't much in the way of scenery between Saint John and Moncton, which is the largest city in the tri-province area where New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island meet. The number of hills was surprising, as was the dearth of birds. I got us from Hampton - just a few kilometers from Saint John - to Moncton.
The lack of traffic on main Canadian corridors always surprises me. Two lanes in both directions and you still wouldn't see a car for long periods of time.
We rolled into Moncton - where the hotel has almost no one in it aside from us and the staff members - and entertained the girl at the front desk who was obviously bored out of her mind before our arrival due to having no other human to talk to. She suggested a few places to eat in downtown Moncton, and we chose a place called Catch22 - a lobster bar just a short drive downtown. We also got three complimentary beers (!) and some maple candy. We took a picture of her posing with the one and only Yoder the Duck.
My mom got a lobster roll, and my dad and I both got the same thing - the massive Fisherman's Platter. Each had half a lobster, shrimp, scallops, haddock, crab cakes, rice pilaf, and a roasted vegetable medley of broccoli, zucchini, and carrots, all served on a massive translucent fish-shaped plate.
The utensils in the place were worse than the demented fork I'd experienced at Pizza Delight - the knives, while cool-looking, had their handles twisted 90 degrees around their axis. Ergonomically sound, there was just no place to put it. My dad knocked his first knife clear off the table, and I nearly dropped mine into the booth cushion - only some catlike reflexes prevented a second mess.
We started a few running jokes with the waitress about seeds, the utensils, and a few other things. After we'd cleaned our plates, we got a banana and strawberry flambé, set aflame right at our table. We also got their last peppermint crème brûlée - but this was complimentary.
Upon our return to the hotel, we got some more maple candy from the front desk and learned a few interesting tidbits regarding the non-standard operation of our hotel. Suffice it to day that the inner workings of this place sounds like a mix of McHale's Navy and Fawlty Towers.
Tomorrow: we make the drive to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where I am bound and determined to get my dad to try a poutine.