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Notes on Nova Scotia

The last post (Tuesday, July 9th, 11:06 a.m.)

We're back. We made it home safe. It's been a wonderful journey and we are all so grateful to have had the opportunity to travel abroad and represent The Citadel. Yesterday was a long one of packing, zipping, lifting, queuing, waiting, taking off and landing. We were packed and ready to load our luggage into the truck by 10 a.m. Then we rode to the Halifax Metro Centre one last time to pick up the instruments.

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With extra time built in to the travel schedule, cadets had some time to relax. We notice they tend to artfully arrange themselves during times of repose. We like to call this one, "Still Life with Cadets."

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This next artistic shot on the lower left is a bit of a trompe l'oeil. But, as you see, he's completely fine. Just another cadet snuggling up on the concrete.

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Once at the airport, we had to check all of our gear and go through customs before boarding the plane. That gear included ALL instruments. Our group created a bit of a bottleneck as tubas and drums do not fit neatly into the overhead compartment.

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All that extra baggage took extra time. Fortunately, we had a chartered flight, which would leave only when we were ready. We were wheels up about a half hour behind schedule, but had a smooth flight and landed safely. As soon as we got off the plane, we saw this welcoming us home:

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Well, folks, that's it. Thank you for following the blog. We had a great time and truly appreciate your support.

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Meat and potatoes (Sunday, July 7th, 9:09 p.m.)

This blog has taken you behind the scenes. You toured the arena. You tried the McLobster. You even met Band Mom of the Year. But what about the main act?--the meat and potatoes of why the band is here in Halifax!? Well, we've got a video to pull you from backstage and plop you right into a cushy VIP seat. Watch this video to get an idea of what this whole trip is about. This video is a snippet of their full performance. Also, fair warning... the band is about to get funky.

Never can say goodbye (Sunday, July 7th, 5:22 p.m.)

Well, folks, it's a wrap. The show is over and it's time to go home. Cadets are starting to pack their bags and are already thinking of what they'll do (or eat) as soon as they get back to the good ol' US of A.

If you are having trouble viewing this video, click the YouTube icon on the lower right corner ().

And even though we are ready to get back, some cadets are finding it's hard to say goodbye. After the last show, performers mingled in the concourse to swap tokens they've collected on their lanyards.

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Performers exchanged buttons, hats and... some lingering hugs.

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It's getting hot in here... (Saturday, July 6th, 6:28 p.m)

Canadians say it's in the 30s. Celsius, that is. And though some of us need to work up on our Fahrenheit conversions in order to calculate the exact degree, we know one thing's for sure: it's hot. The sun around here apparently melts the shirts off some of the locals.

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Cadets, of course, keep their shirts on in public. However, when a parade or performance is over, they can normally expect a welcome breeze shooting through the AC vents in the barracks as they peel off their wool uniforms. Not here. Despite repeated requests, the dorm officials are not going to turn on the AC in the rooms. They do, oddly, air condition the hallways. Being the inventive bunch, cadets and staff have devised ways to bring that colder air into the sweltering rooms. Check out what we've found used to prop open the doors.

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Intermission (Friday, July 5th, 8:46 p.m.)

The show is a full two and a half hours long, with an intermission. The Citadel Regimental Band and Pipes performs a few short segments throughout the night. That means, during the shows, they have a lot of time on their hands. What do they do with that time? We tried to sniff out that answer tonight.

So far, we know they like mingling with the other performers. Below is a photo taken from a balcony where our bagpipers visit with others from another country. By the way, it's just before 10 p.m. in this photo. It stays light out pretty late around here. So does everyone else. Restaurants and bars don't close until around four in the morning (at least that's what we're told).

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We found out they also like to kick back and play video games with their friends.

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And--this probably doesn't come as a big surprise--they can also be found chatting up the Highland Dancers.

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By now, each performer (and staff) knows every detail of the performance. They know the words to all the songs, the exact moments the cannons fire and the time the popcorn sellers give up pulling in more sales and end up handing bags out for free. Despite our familiarity, the show is still new to the ticket holders each night. To let audience members know that intermission is over and it's time to get back in the arena, a small parade plays music and travels through the concourse.

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The Big Show (Thursday, July 4th, 10:12 p.m.)

While the cadets want to perform their best during every show, the pressure really turns on when they know Gen. and Mrs. Rosa are in the stands. Fortunately for the band, this was show number five. And even though the cadets are a bit tired after 10 straight days of rehearsals and performances, we could tell that the fact it was Independence Day gave them a little boost.

The American holiday did not go unnoticed by the tattoo officials. To commemorate this important day, the entire cast of the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo saluted Gen. Rosa during the grand finale.

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So... how did the performance go? Well, frankly, they rocked the show. Totally. Gen. Rosa had asked to see the entire band right after the performance. Here's a little video clip of what he and Mrs. Rosa had to say.

(p.s. you might need to turn your volume up a bit)

If you are having trouble viewing this video, click the YouTube icon on the lower right corner ().

A little Red, White and Blue for your ears (Thursday, July 4, 12:16 P.M.)

Today, the band performed in a garden square near the Halifax Metro Centre. While many audience members were local Canadians snacking on their mid-week lunches in the park, Citadel alumni and family had a strong showing. And though July 4th is just another day to the rest of the onlookers, the band made sure to bring a little America to the town by starting the show with this patriotic song.

If you are having trouble viewing this video, click the YouTube icon on the lower right corner ().

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Next time you hear the Pipe Band play, look at the ground. We guarantee you that someone nearby can't help from tapping those feet to the music. Here's a quick video of one of the songs that got the crowd movn' and groovn'.

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The extra day off made it easier for some families and alumni to make the trip up to see the band in action. In fact, we've been pleased to run into alumni all over this town. Canada is more than "just up the road," and yet we see dozens of Bulldogs who have traveled hundreds of miles and crossed the northern U.S. border to see the band--that's some Citadel pride!

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Who knew it, but it gets hot here in Canada. So hot, that Commander Alverson slotted in a break in the middle of the show so that cadets could get out of the sun and cool off. During the first set, a group of kids became mesmerized by the drummers. When the band stopped, the children approached the drummers and asked some questions.

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And, if that little scene doesn't fill you up on cuteness for the day, here are some action shots on Band Mom of the Year cheering on the cadets as they approached the square for the concert.

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Happy 4th! (Thursday, July 4, 10:48 a.m.)

Even if you're in Canada for the holiday, you can still celebrate Independence Day in style.

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Feedback (Wednesday, July 3, 4:15 p.m.)

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Taking the tattoo to the town (Wednesday, July 3, 11:52 a.m.)

The Citadel Regimental Band and Pipes was invited to play in two different places in downtown Halifax today. The plan: walk to the square in front of the library, play for about 20 minutes, then march to another square and play for another 20 minutes or so.

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For many, this outdoor concert was a pleasant surprise. But some people, like this fan we like to call "Band Mom of the Year", inked it in their day planners and were ready for the show.

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Quickly, the small crowd outside of the library swelled.

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Are you scratching your head and thinking, "Library? They are playing outside of a library? Isn't it a little odd to be blasting music outside of a quiet zone?" We wondered the same thing, but hey!, that's what the tatoo organizers wanted. Occassionally, we spotted a bookworm exit through front doors, which also happened to be our stage. Can you spot him?

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While some people prefer peace and quiet. others were just born to rock. Check out this little girl who just can't help but dance to the music.

If you are having trouble viewing this video, click the YouTube icon on the lower right corner ().

Before we tell you fill you in on the parade, we need to let you know a little more about the culture here in Halifax. Namely, the people here are nice. Really nice. So nice, in fact, that whenever you are walking across the street (or even near a street for that matter), cars will slow down for you.

So, what does this have to do with the parade? Well, check out our escort. It is one police bike. That's it. Just one police officer on a non-motorized bike. As wild as it may sound, that's all that was needed to escort the cadets through the busiest part of town.

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As the band marched from the library to a park for the second performance, hundreds of faces curled into smiles. The cadets truly transformed the industrious mid-week mood into one of joy--if only for a few minutes. Shoppers and workers alike stepped out onto the sidewalk to catch the parade and take a photo to share this cool moment with their friends and family.

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If you are having trouble viewing this video, click the YouTube icon on the lower right corner ().

Day tripper (Tuesday, July 2, 11:01 a.m.)

Today we are free until the evening performance. So, we snatched this rare opportunity and grabbed our cameras and Canadian currency and headed out the door and into the... rain.

Rain... rain... rain.

We hear it's not exactly been dry for y'all back home, either. But in Halifax, the rain doesn't come and go with thunderstorms like it does this time of year in the Lowcountry. Instead, it seems to be an endless light shower accentuated by occasional bucket-dumps of cold rain. It's been a constant battle to keep our socks dry and we've got to jockey for the empty machines at the laundromat. Still, taking the attitude that a little rain never hurt anyone, we decided to explore. We've been told that Peggy's Cove is a must-see, so a handful of us headed along a winding road to check it out. From under our umbrellas and through our Dollar Store ponchos, we saw some truly beautiful sites.

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After about an hour of photographing while trying not to slip off a rock and into the cold water, we called it quits and went indoors for some warm chowder and a lobster roll. Looks like we weren't the only ones who ducked indoors.

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