Autumn in New England and Canada

Ray Freer with his husband, Aubrey Nash, at Montmorency Falls outside Quebec City. Photo provided.

by Ray Freer
Entertainment Columnist

It's funny, my husband and I have been to over thirty nations between us, but neither of us had ever been north of Boston here in the good old USA. Well, we just remedied that situation with a cruise from New York City to Quebec City, Canada. We sailed north with stops in Massachusetts and Maine, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, then up the Saguenay River, and finally the St. Lawrence to Quebec City.

Taking a few days first in New York City is always a great idea. Going to the 911 Memorial Fountain, and walking north to Times Square seemed a great idea. It was a long walk, but we saw so much, including a stop in Greenwich Village for a drink (OK, maybe two) at The Stonewall Inn. It's almost like a pilgrimage to the place where so many of the freedoms we know as LGBT folks began.

Sailing out of the Manhattan Cruise Terminal is a gift, for you sail right past Lady Liberty. Seeing her, as countless immigrants have through the years, was more moving than I expected. She is a glorious sight, even on a hazy day.

As we sailed north one thing became quickly apparent; we were going to see a lotof lighthouses. The rocky coast of New England and northeast Canada has claimed many an ocean-going vessel, and over the past couple hundred years much effort was made to increase safety on the waves. Most were far more than a hundred years old, and all were colorful and interesting in their character.

As we got to Gloucester and Bar Harbor, we were starting to bemoan the relative lack of color in the Fall foliage. After all, that was one of the many reasons for our going on this adventure. Our worries were for naught.  As we kept going north to Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia, the color kept getting richer and bolder. The climax arrived with the glorious colors of Quebec. The orange and reds in a single leaf made it look like trees were ablaze. There was purple and gold and brown, and even an azure mixed in with the remaining green.

In Halifax, we saw the subject of so many art works, Peggy's Cove and its famous lighthouse. But the most profoundly moving experience there was seeing the graves of 150 victims of the Titanic disaster, including that of J. Dawson, a seaman on the ship, whose name was borrowed for Leonardo DiCaprio's character of Jack Dawson in the movie, Titanic.

Prince Edward Island (PEI) was a real treasure. The only way to get to it is by ferry, or by the 8.1-mile Confederation Bridge. It's free to cross onto PEI, but a $46 toll if you want to go back to the mainland. PEI is also home to author L. M. Montgomery's beloved fictional character, Anne of Green Gables. In fact, there is a thriving tourist industry built around Anne. The book has been translated into dozens of languages, and is famous worldwide. Anne is very popular in Japan, and a great many of the tourists at sites associated with Montgomery and Anne were Japanese.

The trip ended too quickly with our disembarkation in Quebec City. Old Quebec is historic and has retained much of its original Victorian architecture. It is walkable and interesting, but a real highlight of the city awaited just 12 miles from Old Quebec.Montmorency Falls, at 276 feet, is 100 feet higher than Niagara. There were 487 steps leading to the top, and my husband Aubrey and I climbed every one. It was incredibly beautiful with the golden foliage, the cascading water, and the perfect, sunny day. It will stay in my memory for a very long time.

Like all great adventures, it was great to go, and great to get home. Trips to Ft. Lauderdale and Alaska will be coming soon though, and I hope to take you along on those journeys as well.

Copyright 2016 The Gayly – November 25, 2016 @ 12 p.m.