By Remy ( photos by Liz)
*Phone viewing discouraged, our blog is best viewed from a larger screen! – Liz
*That’s because the photography is so awesome! Don’t deny yourself the full experience of Liz’ art! – Remy
We have already mentioned that Covid has been a blessing in disguise, causing us to slow our pace and alter the course of our travels to take in our home country. We are still subject to the limitations that the pandemic has placed on travel, and have been scheming how we will cross the longest undefended border in the world to escape the one aspect of Canadian life with which we are all too familiar – winter! We have a willing collaborator in Massachusetts who has offered to conduct a mission for us, traveling to Montreal and driving our van across the border while we fly across to meet her in the US. It is nonsensically permitted to do this, and there is no requirement for us to show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test to enter the country by air, while still not permitted to drive across at a land crossing. Kafka would have been pleased! So we are stuck waiting until October 20th, when the land crossing policy is set to be reviewed by the US government. Easy to do in such a beautiful place as Nova Scotia!
They grow up so quickly! We connected with Kasia in Shelburne. She is an Inglewoodian who has chosen to do post-secondary studies in Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia universities have a well-deserved reputation for rowdiness, but Kasia’s choice of study has landed her in this sleepy little Loyalist fishing village where the last opportunity to be rowdy disappeared when the final outhouse that could be pushed over was de-commissioned.
A summer “cottage” in Lockeport, decorated in fishing chic by someone who probably never had to pull a lobster trap into a boat in their lives. Like many mountain towns in Alberta and BC, a significant portion of the fishing villages along the coast is dedicated to second homes like this, so that the communities become ghost towns during weekdays and out-of-season .
I adore a dory! At the Dory Museum in Shelburne, where we received a great guided tour and I got to spend time with the resident builder, who answered my questions while guiding his apprentice and eventual replacement in building a boat. I am going to build one of these someday!
Nova Scotia beaches are beautiful! And more so when Liz is on them. Another amazing spot that we spent the night, which we found by turning down “Beach Road” from the highway. This little cove was a haven for the local seal population, and at one point we had a group of eight basking in the water about 20 yards off shore.
Same bay with a variety of fishers all trying their luck. That is me on the breakwater, a couple of seals in the foreground, and there were some cormorants and blue herons just outside the field of view. I am probably the only one who didn’t catch anything .
Duelling churches is a common sight all around Nova Scotia. Catholics, Baptists, and various strains of the United Church have built thousands of churches in every community, and only volunteer fire halls can begin to rival churches in number. While they are all very well-maintained, Sundays usually only reveal a small number of congregants. We are not sure how much longer these tiny congregations will be able to sustain themselves.
Nova Scotia is surprisingly accessible! This boardwalk along a river estuary connected a handicapped-only parking lot to an incredible sand beach. Liz and I walked with a limp to justify our presence.
And this was the beach. As I have said before, Nova Scotia has beaches that easily rival anything in the Caribbean or Mexico, except for the tiny detail of water temperature.
Art shot of the harbour at La Have. The South Shore of Nova Scotia is far and away the most scenic part of this province, which is saying a lot.
The bakery cafe at La Have, where we went a little nuts and bought cookies and muffins to add to our already-fit-to-bursting snack drawer. Yes, we have a snack drawer, and if I play my cards right, Liz may provide me with the combination one day.
The Bluenose II under way in Lunenberg Harbour. The Nova Scotia schooners really were beautiful craft, considering they were built as working vessels.
Our view from yet another beautiful boondocking site. We can’t believe we get to stay here for free!.Another family spent the night on that sail boat. We are going to look back fondly on these days when we have to start spending the night in Walmart and Cracker Barrel parking lots in the northeastern US.
Nova Scotians really like to decorate for the season, and they get an early start on Hallowe’en. Scarecrows are very popular, but not usually as elaborate as this Wizard of Oz tableau. To be fair, there was a community contest happening here in the town of Mahone Bay so the bar was set quite high. Usually they consist of a pumpkin set atop a stuffed version of Grampa’s old Sunday/go-to-meetin’ suit.
The Swissair Flight 111 crash memorial site just outside Peggy’s Cove. The engraved slabs and benches were likely carved from the granite outcroppings on which they sit. This was a very simple but powerful memorial.
The “cove” at Peggy’s Cove. This little village is amazing – in a place where approximately 30 people live year-round (and many if not most are still fishermen) 200 buses per day in the high season deliver around 2 million tourists a year. Good thing it is so rocky here or all that traffic would have worn the place away by now!
And this is about it for all of Peggy’s Cove. There is a surprising dearth of restaurants, cafes and restrooms for a place that receives so many people, but that is how the locals like it. Parks Canada is addressing the restroom situation, however.
The lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove, with me demonstrating how big the mackerel was that got away. This area of Nova Scotia is a post-glacial barren land, as you can see by the rock upon which the lighthouse stands.
Liz catching some rays, Nova Scotia-style.
On the phone with Hollis while we enjoy a drink and wait for the sunset at Peggy’s Cove. It was nice to be out of the wind and able to absorb the heat from the rocks.
We were not the only ones who had the idea to catch the sunset, but we were the only ones to spend the night. We set the alarm to catch the sunrise as well, and had to share it with a similar-sized crowd.
A smooching selfie. As you can see, the beret is a superior form of headgear for this art form (no brim to get in the way) – little wonder it was popularized by the French!
The shoreline between Peggy’s Cove and Halifax, formed by glaciers 10,000 years ago. There is definitely a sub-arctic vibe here, reminiscent of the west coast of Newfoundland. We loved it.
We were joined by James O’Brien for a beautiful hike along this coast. It is amazing that such a beautiful spot can be accessed only a 30 minute drive from Halifax.
That’s our marriage – set on a foundation of bedrock! This is as close as we can get to mountaineering in Nova Scotia, which is fine by both of us.
A pair of experienced backcountry trekkers, re-living the glories of our 2018 Gros Morne expedition in Newfoundland.
We came back in from the cold to enjoy the fleshpots of Halifax and spend a couple more days with James. The harbour front of downtown Halifax has been very well developed to promote tourism, including these public hammocks which allow tired tourists to rest during the day and invite amorous couples to join the “Metre High Club” after the nearby bars close.
Thanksgiving Dinner #1. We had the privilege of spending it with the O’Brien clan (James, his daughter Maureen and her boyfriend Owen, and his son Connor). James was a wizard , seemingly pulling a full turkey dinner out of the metaphorical hat only a couple of hours after he and I had enjoyed a beer together outside his cold kitchen. It was very nice to be welcomed into their family home.
A couple of great kids and their great dad! And yes, Connor got his first pandemic haircut between these two photos, thanks to his sister.
The weather in Halifax was gorgeous. To be able to walk the dog in a T-shirt was a treat.
Thanksgiving Dinner #2 – this one was less traditional, consisting of a mussel feed, but very apt considering we were in the Musselman residence! Another welcome invitation to share a meal with a warm family, in this case Robin and her daughter, Kestrel. While it was great to spend time with our friends, it was also nice to have the youthful vitality of the kids around. Not that any of the older folks lack vitality, we just have less innocence.
We have become quite discerning in selecting boondocking sites, and this one is typical of what we now expect. We have been truly spoiled! This spot is along the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia, just north of Halifax.
We have been spoiled for hiking, as well. We tire quickly of walks that cut through the woods and demand beautiful coastal views and nice lunch spots like this one.
Same hike, which just got better as we went along. We also discovered beach peas, a green that we can forage and add to salads or put on sandwiches.
A serendipitous find – a Lion’s Mane mushroom which was growing off a hardwood log in a woodpile. The happy forager shows off his treasure inside the Radvan. This specimen was good for a number of meals.
A roadside market, typical of the Maritimes. This was one of the biggest we have come across, and everything inside was sold on the honour system. In addition to fresh herbs and veggies, local crafts were also on offer.
A great example of the fall colours in this part of the world, as seen during another fantastic hike/foraging trip.
It was hard to pick only a couple from the hundreds of autumn leaf photos that Liz has taken over the past couple of weeks. Autumn here is far more impressive than in western Canada, and lasts much longer. It is seemingly impossible to get too much!
The headland of the Canso Peninsula. The Eastern Shores are much more sparsely populated and less developed with a lot of the rugged beauty as shown in this photo. And no, I am not being narcissistic.
Wild cranberries are in season! A bag of these made it back to the van to be added to our breakfast cereal.
In the harbour at Little Dover. This fishing boat demonstrates the humour that sometimes goes into naming a boat. Fishing boats are usually named after a spouse or children, but a few wags like to pick names that probably sound cool over the radio. Look closely at the letters “L” and “R”.
A surprising natural feature on a beach confirms that the universe is looking favourably on what we are doing!
We received the welcome news that the US border will open to land crossings on November 8, so we will not have to execute Operation Van Migration with our American friend. However, it does extend the time we were expecting to spend in Canada and cut things closer to the possible arrival of winter weather. We still have another 3 weeks which we will spend in Nova Scotia as the unseasonably warm autumn here only makes it sensible to stay. Which means at least one more blog entry! Stay tuned.
Thanks for reading. The comments are appreciated too.