Day 19: Oh little town of Fredericton

Today was probably the worst day in the history of family holidays. Somehow, it was also the best in its own way. Let’s examine the details…

After our late arrival (oh yeah, and a midnight truck wash) we were extremely tired. The Fredericton Inn was one of the nicer places in which we’ve stayed so it’s always a shame that we have to be in and out of them so quickly. When J woke up and got ready around 8:30, M and the girls kept sleeping. And sleeping. And sleeping some more. So we ate a rather rushed breakfast in room (it was messy too) which caused some stress and then headed out to J’s meeting. The meetings have usually been right in or close to town. In this case, town is very small and the meeting was a few minutes “outside” of town. We came into town and M was paying attention to the roads as she was planning on walking with the girls and then meeting with J after his meeting. It appeared that Fredericton’s downtown was walkable from the meeting site so after getting to the meeting with one minute to spare, J hurried the girls out of the truck, into the buggy, and off. M felt a little shooed away and wished she could’ve taken a minute to get her hearings (she’s the navigator after all) she was pretty sure she knew where she was going.

And so she headed off with the little ones, planning to meeting J in 90 minutes across the street at the Sobey’s. She took a few turns and found a trail map of town and took the trail which appeared to be taking them downtown. But she got a little confused because the street names didn’t seem to be what she thought they should be and the trail didn’t go where she thought it should go. So she walked a little further but then decided to go into the pharmacy and ask directions. The girl drew her a map which really wasn’t to scale and did say, “This may not be the fastest way, but it gets you downtown.” M took the map and started to follow it. She got frustrated with E’s constant I’m tired of walking and was getting fed up of the mugginess. They were getting downright sweaty. It felt a bit relentless after the week of sunshine and heat in Ontario and Quebec. M loves sun and hot weather, but little girls don’t, and M doesn’t like to cart the buggy around full of little girls in the heat in strange towns…

The map took M to an intersection that she’d been on before and she finally went into a car rental office and asked for a map. Turns out she was all turned around and had been heading in the wrong direction all morning. The frustration meter jumped a little higher. Well, then it was either head into town (she could have been there and back already…) or head to rendezvous point. She decided on rendezvous since it was virtually on the way. E had to pee anyway. At the rendezvous they waited, slathering on sunscreen (the mugginess was giving way to full sun) and waiting, not so patiently, for J to appear. Turns out J’s meeting point was just a pickup for a contact whom he took downtown to meet with another contact. Then he came back to drop said contact off. Should have just met downtown…

J could tell that M was not happy when we loaded up. When we finally made it to downtown we were in full mad mode and just trying to survive. C’s terminally underslept, E’s constantly contrary, M’s chronically frustrated and J’s ever stressed. The pressure is mounting in the little family in a big truck…

Parking a big truck in a small town (really small town) is not easy but we found a spot and determined to do better. We managed to find a lovely tea shop that appeared to be Christian and had a great lunch and lovely tea latte. The proprietor there also gave us a recommendation of a German restaurant a few hours away outside of Moncton that we would be driving by. It was a friendly and relaxed tea shop but soon it was time to go (after fights about eating lunch, drinking drinks, who got what piece of the cookie…). We then headed to the visitor information to get some maps.

This is a province we have not visited and a town with which we were not familiar. True that it is not very big, only one or two main streets of downtown, easily walkable, on a river, and very charming but it was quite a bit prettier than we expected. They even have free wifi broadcast from the lighthouse over the whole downtown area. Wherever you go, you get free wifi. Not too shabby. We started out crabby, got crabbier, (not to mention hotter and sweatier), plus we were trying to absorb and take in a new place (see previous post…)

We got into the visitor bureau and found out there was free parking for visitors all over downtown (free wifi and free parking… love this little town!) But we needed the license plate number so J ran back to the truck to get it.

Then he ran back.

Then we got the parking pass.

Then he ran back to the truck to put it on the dash.

Then he ran back to where we were.

Meanwhile, we had gone inside the visitor bureau with was also the council chambers which was also a clock tower which had once been an opera house which had… you get the idea. The clock works had been recently restored and brought down out of the clock tower and encased in class for display. It was actually worked on by the same guy who worked on Big Ben. And it’s quite a beautiful little clock. The girls loved the council chambers, mostly because the guide let them sit in the mayor’s chair and run through the chambers to their heart’s content. When J showed up we were admiring 200o years of provincial history in tapestries.

Small places take what they can get.

Then we “started” our tour of town. And E said I’m tired of walking. Great.

We walked for a few minutes and took a few pictures in the historic Garrison District, but then J looked at his watch and realized that he was supposed to be in a conference call in 15 minutes. But his Mike phone has patchy coverage and doesn’t work in New Brunswick, so he need M’s phone, which means the only way he can contact M when he’s done is to email her and hope that she gets it on her iPod – luckily there’s free wifi everywhere, no? So J goes to the truck to do his call and M and the girls head out to a park.

The park is not as close as it looks on the map and offer little shade in the scorching heat. The girls happily play and even make a few pals; M sits in the shade of a tree and does nothing. The girls come back every now and then to show some rocks or have a drink of water but continue to play for an hour. The heat is beating down on them and they are flushed and sweaty but seem fine to continue playing. Finally M decides it’s time to find something cold to drink and gets C into the buggy. C throws a fit such as never been seen from C in her short two years. She kicked, screamed, arched, shrieked, thrashed, wailed, and generally sounded completely enraged at the entire world. Even buckled in she continued to twist and rage against the constraints of the buggy. Booboo would not even calm her down. E happily walked beside the buggy while M led them back into town. All the while M was emailing J, her only mode of contacting him, hoping he would be checking his email while connected to his conference call.

As the girls headed into town, dark clouds blew over and the scorching sun was blocked out. The mugginess returned, followed by some distant thunder. Then a flash of lightning and a few drops of rain.

Oh wait, we don’t have our raincoats, unbrellas, boots or the stroller cover because is was 30*C when we got here.

Is that more lightning, beautiful forked lightning?

More rain.

More thunder.

Downpour.

Most excellent.

Where is Dad?

The funny thing is, the rain and storm didn’t bother us. It was a welcome relief to the heat and somehow made the day so bad that it actually was just comical. It managed to soothe and cool our tempers. C was asleep by now and protected in the buggy by her booboo. E didn’t mind being wet and M just sighed. We tried to find some coffee and baking for le gouter, and found baking at least at The Happy Baker – which made M & E quite happy. The baking was some of the best of the trip. E proclaimed that she loved lemon tarts and picked one for her snack.

We headed back to where J should have been parked but alas no J was to be found. So went back to the visitor bureau and sat under a tree eating our snacks while C snoozed. Then M got an email from J that he was done and one his way back.

On his way back from where?

Anyway, by this time we had all just cooled off to the point of general acceptance of a bad day and looked for something to eat for dinner. We found Isaac’s Way and ate a warm meal and then packed up to head to Moncton. We arrived at the Coastal Inn very late in the evening as usual and lugged everything inside. Another late night, another early morning, another continental breakfast…

  • Melodies: Narnia: The Horse & His Boy
  • Miles: 110 (175 km)
  • Meals: yogurt & cereal in hotel, wrap & soup & hot dogs & tea at Triniteas, lemon tart and cakes from The Happy Baker, fish & fries and pulled pork po boy and chicken chevre at Isaac’s Way
  • Meltdowns: all of us had the worst meltdowns ever. Parents hide them well. Children do not.
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One response

  1. Oh…you made me smile while reading this. The joys of travelling with small children all came back to me. Enjoy your holidays…

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