Nova Scotia- The Grand Finale

By Remy ( photos by Liz)

We are still in New Scotland, the tiny province where we have spent the most time. There are a few reasons for this: the autumn has been unseasonably warm, which is an important consideration given our new lifestyle; it is easy to find places to stay, as people here are easygoing, unbothered and not suspicious or frightened if you pull up and stay somewhere for a night or two; and, there is a lot of wilderness space here, which has presented us with incredible hiking and foraging opportunities, both of which are great for our mental health. We are so grateful when we are gifted with the chance to eat from the land, which we feel also enhances our physical health with good nutrition and microbiomic benefits. It turns out that Liz is a hunter, too, with her prey of choice being of the mycological variety, and she appreciates the high that comes from successfully bagging a specimen.

An inordinate number of electrons are dedicated in Liz’ phone to capturing the colours of autumn in the hardwood forests of Nova Scotia. Thankfully the season will end, otherwise a 12-step program might be necessary to deal with this particular compulsion.
If you look closely, you can see the reaction Liz has to the fall colours – she is very happy to see them!
We were approached by Jan at our site just outside of Antigonish because she was fascinated by the Radvan and our lifestyle. Turned out she is the sister of the owner of the Ironwood Stage and Grill in Inglewood, where we have enjoyed live music and hoisted the occasional pint a few times in the past.
In addition to the generous offer of a place to stay and recharge our batteries and water reservoir, Jan dropped by one morning and left us this gift – some fruit, homemade cookies, pasta sauce and the best seafood chowder we have tasted! Maritime hospitality at its finest!
We took advantage of the university culture at St. Francis Xavier University to attend a live musical performance. I thought it was going to be a classical recital, but it turned out to be jazz, which is not my cup of tea. The virtuosity and enthusiasm of the musicians, with the fact that this was a live musical performance in a beautiful space, made it worthwhile.
At the Crystal Cliffs just outside of Antigonish. This is a property owned by St. FXU that is open to the public and is a remarkable geological formation that features aggregations of various crystalline forms of rock in the gypsum cliffs that line the bay. I am holding a particularly large specimen in Liz’ favourite colour that is unfortunately(?) too big to keep in the van.
At the Cape George lighthouse overlooking Northumberland Strait with Cape Breton in the far distance. I wanted to see whether it would fit on the bike rack, but no dice. It was a beautiful day, but we are learning that any place with the descriptor “cape” in its name is generally so howlingly windy that it is hard to enjoy being, or even hear oneself think, outside.
More of those electrons I spoke of earlier, this time in Arisaig Provincial Park. We had the whole place to ourselves for two days, interrupted only occasionally by dog walkers. Incredible boondocking!
In addition to fall foliage and sunrises/sunsets, we also like lighthouses. This is the one that guided fishermen back in to Arisaig Harbour, where I had an interesting conversation with a couple of fishermen who had just returned from landing a 500 lb bluefin tuna.
What did I say? Mexico-quality sunset on the beach at Arisaig, which we had all to ourselves.
Much like building the Radvan, you can learn to do anything on Youtube! I have an affinity for wool and have decided that it is time to learn how to knit. Toques for everyone next Christmas!
Yippee! We discovered a bike trail in Pictou that leads to a craft brewery.
It doesn’t get any more Caledonian than this – the local Pictou pipe band marching to play at a Robbie Burns Dinner in town. The piper on the right started when he was 11 and has been playing for 60 years. We didn’t challenge them to see whether they were “regimental” as there were women in this band.
If you are going to store your lobster traps for the winter you may as well be artful about it! At the harbour in Toney River.
We found this image in a local magazine of the same array at night – looks nice!
We got to live in a real house for a few days in River John. Diane, a friend from Inglewood, graciously granted us access to her “cottage” (which is nicer than most houses here) which allowed Liz to do yoga in comfort and for us to be able to veg out and take care of some administration with a nice strong wifi signal – important things to van lifers!
Maritime hospitality meant that we got to meet all of Diane’s neighbours who live full-time in River John. We hit it off spectacularly with Theresa and Don, as there was a common policing link, but it turned out that they are also adventurers! They live part-time in Honduras and are following similar paths with respect to minimalism and diet that we are, so there was no need to resort to telling police war stories.
People take seasonal decoration very seriously in Nova Scotia, with roadside tableaus like this being common. Did we mention that they grow a lot of squash in this province?
Another example of celebrating the season and cheering up the roadside for travellers.
We took advantage of being in the metropolis of Truro to take in the new James Bond movie. I am not doing a bad “movie director” impression – someone misinformed me that the movie was in 3D, and I am lucky that I didn’t pitch over backward in the steeply-arranged theatre with my glasses on.
While taking a nature bath it is important to occasionally give our tree brothers and sisters a hug.
Checking out a site along the Cliffs of Fundy UNESCO Geosite en route to Parrsboro. This is at low tide – high tide will be at the level of my head (if you can find me camouflaged against the rock). The ocean is slowly but inexorably winning the battle against land. It is cool to be able to walk on the ocean floor at low tide, but you have to always be conscious of being able to regain the beach as the tide comes in and not get stranded on an island or sand bar!
Liz checking out the anti-gravity rocks that are a feature of this landscape (just kidding!) In a few hours this entire space will be filled with water which will erode a tiny bit more of the coast. In a couple of million years this will be the middle of a bay!
Blueberry fields forever! We found a wild blueberry farm in the middle of a forest. Not to be outdone by the trees, the low-growing blueberry shrubs put on a colourful show for the autumn.
We set our alarm clock for this, which is actually a sunrise just outside Parrsboro.
A very cool live theatre venue in Parrsboro, manned by the Ship’s Company troupe. Looks like it would be a fun place to see anything but a jazz concert.
No, we haven’t mixed up a Newfoundland photo in this collection. The topography around the Minas Basin is very reminiscent of the coasts of Newfoundland, with many fine-looking beaches that can only be accessed by boat.
A low-tide view of Advocate Harbour. At high tide almost all of the visible sand will be under water and boats will be able to get in and out.
I can’t believe we keep setting our alarm when we’re retired! Another sunrise, this time from Cape d’ Or, another beautiful but windy location. The waning moon is just barely staying ahead of the sun.
The Three Sisters Formation at the tip of the Chignecto Peninsula. These are singular enough that the Mik’Maw people created a myth to explain their presence. The god Klooskap changed his sisters into stone to await his return, and apparently he hasn’t yet done so. I don’t think I want to be around when he does, as they will be some angry!
Using technology to transport the politely-named “holding tank” of our portable toilet to the outhouse at the park. Again, we had the whole place completely to ourselves, which in this case was probably good for any other potential users of the toilet facility.
On the road out from the Three Sisters. At high tide this entire roadway can be under water so we were happy that we timed our visit well.
Bonanza! This was our best mushroom find, ever! Right in the main intersection of River Hebert, where we had stopped to re-fill on water, was this standing dead tree with a motherlode of oyster mushrooms. The largest ones are bigger across than our outspread hand, and they grew completely around the tree. We harvested just a portion of them and have been eating and preserving them like mad, but will still have to try to give some away.
A photo of a couple of hookers in Amherst, plying their trade (which in this case they do for free). Liz has been fascinated by hooked rugs all through the Maritimes, and it turns out that the grand dame of rug-hooking is here. Deanne Fitzpatrick has a world-wide following and does business around the globe. Liz was able to sit down for a lesson and was instantly “hooked”, buying a kit for the first project of what may become a hobby.

This brings us to the end of our sojourn in Nova Scotia. The weather is definitely taking a turn for the wintry, and we must stage ourselves for the crossing of the international frontier in a couple of days. Tomorrow – New Brunswick, my ancestral home!


Published by tompkinsontheroad

Married mother of two awesome boys who is now living full time in a self converted Camper van and seeing more of the world. We gave up something super special to live our dream of living a free and simple life on the road exploring new places and taking joy in the discovery of the extraordinary

10 thoughts on “Nova Scotia- The Grand Finale

  1. Marisol will arrive in Sackville, NB on the 9thfor a few days. Otherwise if you’re passing by Ottawa later on, stop by for a bit!


    1. We will miss her entirely as we cross into the US Nov 8.
      Perhaps you’ll surprise us with another reunion in Mexico?!


  2. Wow! Loved the blog and pictures ! You are having such fabulous adventures ! We had snow today ! Let’s hope you can get across the border without snow !!!


    1. We are keeping our fingers crossed but we could easily get snow south of the 49th parallel too!
      Thanks for reading


  3. What a terrific team you two are, photographer and blogger. Nova Scotia is stunning! Looks like early fall would be a perfect time to visit.


  4. You guys… these amazing posts about my homeland have filled my heart – as did seeing you two in Cape Breton in September. So great! I truly hope that you are smitten enough to return another time and we get to hang out again. Safe travels – may the US of A be good to you as you make your way across that broad expanse! Lotsa love, Janice


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