The Rest of the Story: Back Home and a Pacemaker
The previous post covered my incident on Tuesday morning, August 7, when at breakfast I passed out at the hotel in Saint John, New Brunswick. This brought about a visit to the emergency room at the local hospital where they treated me very well. On Wednesday we flew home after some hectic flight changes.
The visit to my cardiologist on Friday confirmed what I already knew would happen: the pacemaker we had been able to put off for a couple of years was now imminent. She didn’t fool around, and on Monday morning, August 13, the pacemaker was placed.
I have been behaving myself and following all the instructions to allow it to heal. I am now back to doing everything I did before. The good news is that I won’t have to worry about my heart pausing long enough for me to pass out - like it did, something that only takes 5-6 seconds.
The moral of the story might be, if you think something isn’t quite right, check it out sooner rather than later. I could have avoided this incident if I had admitted to the doctor that my pauses had come back.
We are now ready to plan some future trips, and I’m back to enjoying my photography.
Until our next trip!
Grace and Paul
Paul is back taking pictures of me taking pictures, like he has been doing for years.
Grace: Travels of a Photographer by Paul Pitzer using Blurb.com
Change of Plans: Heading Home
On Monday, August 6, we took the late afternoon MV Fundy Rose Ferry from Digby, Nova Scotia over to Saint John, New Brunswick. The cruise took about two and a half hours and was a smooth ride. We were able to have dinner on board, so when we checked into The Delta Brunswick for the night we did not have to go back out for food. We had a good night and were looking forward to an exciting day, seeing more of the Bay of Fundy.
Tuesday morning, before I had even started my breakfast in the dining room, while going for coffee, I passed out and fell, hitting my head. No one seemed to have seen it happen but they all heard the heavy thunk sound. I am told there were people there immediately to check on me, and Paul was trying to arouse me. He said it took about two minutes for me to come to. By then, the paramedics had been called and people were handing me my glasses and earrings, which had come off somehow in the fall. An ambulance with paramedics quickly arrived and they took me on a stretcher to the room next door to get an EKG reading and to consult. It was decided that I really should be seen at the hospital. So off we went, leaving everyone, and our breakfasts behind.
That was the end of our trip, as it turned out. By 1:00 that afternoon the group left for St. Andrews and we were left behind.
At the hospital emergency trauma center I was given a CAT scan, a chest X-ray, and blood work. Several doctors came by to see me, but they were all waiting for the cardiologist to show up. Eventually, Dr. Peter Fong came. We had a long discussion about my relevant health history and the options available for making a decision as to what to do next. We were already off the trip so it was a choice of staying there for more tests/observation or going home to see my own doctor(s). Together we concluded that I was OK to go home. There was no concussion or head bleeding from the fall.
In the mean time, we had been in contact with our guide, Anne, who provided us with all the contact information for Grand Circle Travel and the Travel Insurance company. Arrangements were made for us to stay at the hotel another night and they started working on booking our return flights. The insurance company faxed all the forms, which the doctor filled out before we left. It was almost 5:00 before we took a taxi back to the hotel and we ate dinner in the mall that was connected to our hotel.
It just gets better! Wednesday morning we checked out and headed for the airport about 11:00 in the taxi they had ordered for us. When we went to check in for the flight, the clerk could not find us on her computer. Then she noticed that we were actually booked to fly out of St. John’s, Newfoundland. But we were actually in Saint John, New Brunswick. This is a case where spelling matters. So, we called the GCT guy back, explaining the situation. He got back to us with two options. Fly today going to Toronto then Denver, then Portland, getting in about midnight OR, go back to the hotel and fly out tomorrow to Toronto then direct to Portland. Since we were already at the airport, we chose the first option. Flights were booked and we got on the flight to Toronto. Now, there had been thunder storms going through Toronto the day before and again this day and our flight was 40 minutes late getting into Toronto. We had ordered a wheelchair for me so I wouldn’t have to walk the long distances, and we were met and escorted to where people flying into the US directly get to go through Immigration and Customs. That went smoothly because we have Global Entry passes.
By this time, Paul had noticed that the flight to Denver was so delayed that we would probably miss the connecting flight to Portland. Hmmm. Since we were flying business class we headed for the Air Canada lounge where a nice lady gave me a phone number to call to see if we could get onto the Portland direct flight which was itself delayed by weather. I did, and that lady was able to get us on it. We went to the concierge to get the boarding passes printed and this gal asked if we had been told that we were “stand by.” Nope, we hadn’t. We were to come back in about a half hour to see if we had seats. This was time to grab a bite to eat and check back in. We actually had been given the business class seats. Yippee! But, the boarding gate was quite a distance and it would be boarding shortly. Again, the concierge knocked herself out, got the wheelchair driver for me and we headed out. Along the way I was passed off to a cart driver who whizzed right along. We actually made it to the gate with about ten minutes to spare. Paul asked about the luggage, since we had checked it through Denver to Portland. They had already rerouted it-they said. Amazing.
But wait, there is more. As the plane was almost loaded and we were sitting in our seats, it started to rain. Now this wasn’t a little drizzle, it was a downpour. Then came a thunder clap, actually there were a number of them, and they kept getting closer. This stopped all boarding because the gangway people had to go inside. Eventually the storm blew over, the sun came out, and they finished loading the plane. We pulled away from the gate at 6:47 Eastern Daylight Time. This was about a half hour later than the already delayed time.
We arrived home safely but our bags are coming via Denver and should arrive on Thursday evening.
I was able to get appointments with my primary care doctor and my cardiologist, so I will be well taken care of.
Hopefully we will be heading out on another trip someplace, and continue to share our experiences.
Thanks for reading and sending your comments.
Grace and Paul
Halifax, Nova Scotia to Saint John, New Brunswick: Acadians and the Bay of Fundy
Monday, August 6, we departed the Atlantica Hotel, Halifax, Nova Scotia at 8:30, heading for Saint John, New Brunswick.
Our first stop was at the Grand-Pré National Historical Site, which is an interpretive center and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It features the Acadian people who settled in the Minas Basin shore, which is a tidal marshland called Acadie. The Acadians were French Catholics from the western part of central France. They first came to this new land in the early 1630s. They lived there peacefully until 1755 and the beginning of the Seven Years War between the French and the British. The Acadians would not pledge allegiance to either side so the British attacked them and then deported the survivors. They were sent to the British Colonies from Massachusetts south to Georgia. Some were sent to England and some even back to France. Eventually a number ended up in Louisiana and today are known a Cajuns. The movie we watched at the center helped us understand the significance of this huge deportation. Afterward we had time to walk around the grounds and visit a small memorial church with a beautiful stained glass window. Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, (1847) represents the deportation and the resiliency of the Acadian people.
After a short stop in Wolfville for lunch, and a quick look at a muddy area which fills when the tide is in on the Bay of Fundy, we continued on. We made a short stop at the Annapolis Tidal Generating Station. This is at a dam where water coming into this arm of the Bay of Fundy, is trapped and held in, then let out, depending on the water level. Letting the water in and out through a turbine that drives a generator, all driven by the fluctuating tide, produces some electricity. We learned a lot about why using this tidal action is difficult. The first generators used were torn apart because of the strength of the tides. Since this is the only place in the world where the tides fluctuate 70 feet every 12 hours and 25 minutes, there isn’t a call for companies to make the kind of turbines and generators needed. So few are made and they are expensive. It was interesting, and we also watched some chick ospreys on a pole right outside the building.
We arrived in Digby on the north coast of Nova Scotia in time to board the bus onto the ferry MV Fundy Rose at 5:30 for the two and a half hour crossing over to Saint John, New Brunswick. We were able to get dinner aboard while watching for whales. Didn’t see any. On arrival at The Delta Brunswick hotel we checked in and had a good night sleep.
The next morning we were to depart for Saint Andrews after a walking tour of the area in Saint John.
More about that in the next post.
Grace and Paul
Peggy’s Cove and Lunenburg
The Tour Begins: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Friday, August 3 we flew to Halifax, Nova Scotia from Montreal. This was the beginning of our main tour of the Canadian Maritime Provinces. We learned from our guide, Anne, that Nova Scotia means New Scotland. Since I am part Scottish, I decided that it could be very interesting.
We checked into the Atlantica Hotel. The next morning after breakfast we met the rest our tour members. There are 31 of us now. After the welcome session where our Program Director, Anne, went over all the important information we need to know and after we introduced ourselves, we headed out on a bus tour of the city. The first stop was at the cemetery where 150 victims of the Titanic disaster were buried. Three ships from Halifax were sent to recover victims and many of them are interred in this cemetery. This includes a baby, who was later identified through relatives’ DNA.
We moved on to the Citadel where they set off a canon blast at precisely 12:00 Noon each day. We were able to witness the ceremony from fairly close. (See small video below.)
Our afternoon was spent roaming the waterfront, but first was lunch at the Stubborn Goat Beer Garden where we had our first lobster roll. We had just heard of them, but didn’t know what to expect: turns out it was a hotdog bun with lots of shredded lobster meat on it all resting on a bed of excellent French fries. It was a hot afternoon so after doing some walking around we were happy to visit the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. They had a small, but nice, display of ships, models, and of particular interest were the steam ships, including a model of the Titanic. The bus picked us up at 3:30 and we headed for a short rest at the hotel before heading back down to the Waterfront Warehouse Restaurant for our full group Welcome dinner. The haddock we had pre-ordered was very good.
The next day we visited Peggy’s Cove and Lunenburg.
Grace and Paul
Pretrip Continues: Montreal, Quebec
On Wednesday, Aug. 1, we left Quebec City and drove by bus to Montreal. It took about three hours and we made one comfort stop along the way. The first stop when we arrived in the city was for a delicious lunch at a restaurant that specialized in beef brisket. There we picked up a local guide for an afternoon overview of the city. The first stop was at the E Commerce Center. The center of this building is the location of the former city wall. They covered it over and placed there some artwork in the form of a reflecting pool, a statue, and a piece of the Berlin Wall.
The driving tour took us along the waterfront and then up the Rue Sherbrooke that passes McCord Museum and the University of McGill. We drove by our hotel - a Best Western at the corner of Rue Peel. We drove up Mount Royal where there is a large city park at the top. This gave us a nice overview of the city. We were on our own for dinner and from the hotel we walked a few blocks down Peel to Alexandre, a nice restaurant that had outside seating.
Thursday was a day completely on our own. I put Paul in charge of planning our day and he did an excellent job. After breakfast we headed for the closest Subway (Metro) station. It took help to figure out how to buy all-day passes, but soon we were headed for The Notre-Dame Cathedral. We had to change trains once to get there. Notre-Dame is a beautiful cathedral and we enjoyed viewing the interior for a while. Next we headed down the hill toward the harbor and the Rue Saint Paul, which is a pedestrian street lined with interesting shops geared toward tourists. From there we walked to the Hotel de Ville, which Paul thought was a hotel. Nope, a policeman explained to him that “Hotel de Ville” in French translates as “City Hall.” We then headed for the Metro again and retraced our steps stopping at the Place des Arts. We discovered quite an underground area of shops at this stop, but we found our way out and had lunch a La Cage, which is a sports bar. They had a lovely eating area outside, and it was a pleasant day. The weather frequently seemed like it would rain, but it didn’t. By the time we finished lunch it was mid afternoon so we decided to call it quits on our day’s adventure and return to the hotel. I managed to get checked in for our flight the next day, using my trusty iPad Pro. For dinner we went back to Alexandre’s and our guide, Anne, joined us. The rest of the evening was spent getting ready to leave in the morning.
Bags were out by 9:30 and we left for the airport. Our flight to Halifax was about 1:20 and only took about 1 1/2 hours. We lost another hour as Halifax is on Atlantic Daylight Time, which is four hours ahead of Pacific Daylight Time.
That is all for now. More about Halifax in the next post.
Grace and Paul
Pretrip Starts in Quebec City, Quebec
We are beginning the pre-trip part of our Canadian Maritime Provinces Tour with Grand Circle Travel. As usual, we arrived in the origin city a day ahead. In this case it is Quebec City. We are staying at the Clarendon Hotel which is perfectly located in the center of historic “Old Town” In the morning, after just happening to wander into the oldest restaurant in town to have breakfast, we took a tour through the famous Chateau Frontenac Hotel. The tour began below the hotel on a wide boardwalk called the Terrasse Dufferin. We had bought our tickets while at home for this hour-long tour guided by a fellow in period clothing from the late 17th century. As we went through parts of the old hotel we learned a bit of its history. Some claim that it is the most photographed hotel in the world. We spent the rest of the day wandering around the old town. After a ride down a funicular we walked through the lower section of the city and to a ship dock where a couple of cruise ships were located. We had some lunch at an outside cafe where we enjoyed resting and people watching. Somehow rather than riding the funicular back up the hill, we ended walking the whole way to the top, taking our time on long flights of stairs and windy sidewalks. Diner was next at another outdoor cafe. The weather was really very delightful.
The morning of Monday, July 30, we met the twenty people on our pre-trip and our guide, Anne Matheson. We embarked on a half day city tour with Marie, a local guide. Quebec is a city rich with history dating back to the early colonial period. The drive took us to and through some lovely areas outside the central city and to the Plains of Abraham - the famous battlefield of the French and Indian War. Quebec is located on the narrowest part of the St. Lawrence River and the daily tide fluctuation here is about 15 feet, twice a day. We stopped in the lower part of town where Samuel de Champlain created the first French settlement in North America in 1608. The area is called Place Royals. This is also where ships dock, even today, although now they are often large cruise ships. There we saw samples of the three kinds of roofs used in the past: cedar (too volatile), slate (too heavy), and tin, just right. Most are now made only of tin. In winter they have lots of snow from about November until April, but the streets are efficiently cleared during the night. The temperatures get down to -40 degrees. Yikes! We spent the afternoon doing some wandering around and getting a little rest before our group met for a “Welcome” dinner at a restaurant up the street.
Tuesday we took an extra trip our guide planned for us. The first stop was at the Copper Gallery and workshop of Albert Gilles. We learned about the beautiful work the family members do, and then we had a chance to try our hand using the tools and making a small piece of copper artwork. My elephant actually turned out quite well. The second stop was at the Basilica of St. Anne de Beaupre, which was finished in the 1930s. The third stop was out on the Ile d’Orleans, in the St. Lawrence River. The large island is the garden and agricultural area for Quebec and is 5 miles wide and 18 miles long. We stopped for lunch at a place that made delicious chocolate. From there we stopped at a winery to sample five kinds of wines they make on site from their own fruit: pears, apples and grapes, including ice wine from frozen apples which are left on the trees until it is 40 degrees below. Delicious. Back to the mainland, the last stop was at the famous Montmorency Falls. They are 1.5 times higher than Niagara Falls, but not nearly as wide. They are still impressive and we were able to walk out onto a pedestrian bridge to see them up close and personal. It was a great day’s outing.
After dinner at a popular restaurant and some gelato, it was time to turn in and get ready for our departure in the morning.
In the morning we will drive to Montreal for two nights. It has been a delightful stay in Quebec City.
Grace and Paul
Visiting Special Iranian Friends
On the way to start our tour of the Canadian Maritime Provinces, we stopped in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Our dear friends, Yousef and Narmin from Iran, are visiting their daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter there. Yousef’s daughter and her husband are attending the local university. Yousef was Paul’s mentor when he was teaching English in Iran with the Peace Corps. They have maintained their friendship for over fifty years, so this reunion was very special.
We were met at the airport and taken directly to the kids’ home for a delicious Iranian style dinner before going to our hotel for the night. The next morning we met at a nearby restaurant for breakfast and then enjoyed visiting the Western Development Museum. It was one of the best laid out history museums we have ever visited. We enjoyed the “Main Street” exhibit that showed an old town in 1911. Other exhibits covered more recent time periods.
In the afternoon we went to the one Iranian restaurant in Saskatoon and had delicious kabobs. We spent the rest of the afternoon just hanging around visiting. The kids loved the opportunity to practice their English and to listen to all the stories Paul and Yousef told as they reminisced about their time together when Paul was in the Peace Corps. The stories never quit. Narmin cooked a delicious dinner for us of chicken and saffron rice.
After breakfast the next day Hamid and Nazanin, Yousef’s son-in-law and daughter, gave us a tour of the University of Saskatoon. It is a beautiful campus. We started in the Geology building where they had a great exhibits that included replicas of a number of dinosaur skeletons. The last building we visited was the engineering school where they study. It was special that we got to see their labs and hear the explanations of their projects. The afternoon again was spent hanging around, visiting and sharing stories. This was what we stopped in Saskatoon to do. Again Narmin fixed us a delicious dinner of a special soup made with oats chicken and lots of vegetables. She is an accomplished cook.
The next morning after breakfast they took us to the airport where we had to say good-bye. It was a very sad time. The last time we saw them, we could not dream that this chance would come again, so now we can think that it might happen again one of these days.
Now we are on to Quebec City where the Pre-Trip begins to our tour of the Maritime Provinces of Canada.
Grace and Paul
Beautiful Day for Balloons
What Makes Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
Grace and Paul Pitzer are retired school teachers who love to travel and share their stories and photos with others.
Grace and Paul Pitzer
We hope you will keep checking back regularly to see what is new. I'm always out and about with some camera and love to stretch my skills and add to my volume of work.
Motto: "Pack light and take lots of pictures."