Coast to Coast to Coast and Back travel blog

Day 74 Today’s Plan; Motor on down to Nova Scotia.

We take a picture of the giant lobster as we leave town and bump on down the highway. Again, we are disappointed by not being on the coast. In places we go as slow as 50 to 60 Kph because it is so rough. No one seems to mind, though. We have noticed that about drivers here and in the Gaspe, they don’t drive the speed limit all the time if the road is bad. Or even if it’s not. The road we are on peters out and we elect to go a few kilometers on the freeway. The road is much improved. Except they still insist on going straight up and over the hills. We are traveling further inland so we stay on the freeway to make so time up. This part of eastern New Brunswick is sparsely populated. The people must all live on the coast. There are some farms but they are widely separated and don’t look that affluent. As we leave the Northumberland coast and travel southwest toward the Bay of Fundy, the hills are continuous. Up and down. Up and down. The farms become more numerous too. Eventually, we join highway 2 going into Nova Scotia and soon cross the border. There is a rest stop and tourist information center for Nova Scotia. We pull in and park. We get our first glimpse of the Bay of Fundy in the distance. After rest room pit stops, we gather brochures and maps that we think we might need, then make some inquiries about ferries and trailer storage. Satisfied, we get back on the freeway and notice a big difference right away. The road is actually smooth. No lumpy ride. No pitching back and forth. No patches or patches on patches. We shift in to high gear and roll! The countryside becomes more interesting so we leave the freeway and travel some secondary highways. These are even in good shape. I get a chance to look around instead of having to watch the road all the time. When we get to Truro, we decide to take the coast road to Windsor.

Some of the rivers and creeks are swollen and muddy, from recent rains, we assume. Some are red in color, from the red soil we see in places. We can see the Bay a lot of the time and it’s the same color. The tide is not high and there are broad stretches of mud flats. It is hard to tell where the mud ends and the water begins because they are both the same color. We pass through many villages on a road that is good for a ways then bad for a ways, then good for a ways, etc. It also twists and winds all about the coast. The drive is scenic, but takes longer than we thought it would, so we arrive at our campsite later than we planned. We still have to do some grocery shopping and look about town after we get settled. And find a video…er, liquor store. Our neighbors, Marlene and Raymond, are sitting on their deck and bid us well. We set up and go take care of shopping and return to camp to relax and have a drink. It seems perfect weather for a gin and tonic. We chat with Marlene, while she sets up her clothes racks in the site between us. They are locals who spend part of their summer here each year. Seasonal campers.

We light the BBQ for supper and ready our spuds and steaks. After supper, we take our wine outside and relax some more. Two other couples, Lucy and Kevin and Jill and Wayne, have joined our neighbors. They have come to play a game called Bolo Golf. The clothes racks are part of the game. They are about four feet high with three rungs between two posts. The rungs are about 14 inches apart. They are placed about 20 feet apart. The idea is to toss a Bolo, a short cord with a golf ball on each end, so that it hangs on one of the rungs. Sounds easy. We watch for a couple of rounds, then are invited to play. It’s not easy. Many laughs ensue. This goes on until dark then we all gather around a campfire and gab. These are the friendliest people we have met yet and make us feel at home. They have certainly preserved the ‘Friendly Maritimes’ reputation.

Day 75 Today’s Plan; Go to Digby and area.

The weather looks iffy, so we elect to go to Lunenburg instead. The drive takes a while and gives us a chance to clear some of last night’s fog out of our heads. By the time we get to Mahone Bay, the fog inside is replaced by fog outside. By the time we get to Lunenburg, rain has joined the fog. No matter. We had planned to spend some time in the maritime museum here, so the weather won’t matter.

The museum is a three story building with a large collection of fishing industry gear from real boats and gear to processing equipment and includes an aquarium. We learn a lot about fishing and processing the fish, past and present. Seeing the boats they use is sobering. They look so small. They have a lament here that ends with; “Oh God, Thy ocean is so great and my boat is so small.” How true. There is a restaurant in the museum building. We had no lunch, so we decide to have an early supper.

It is still raining lightly when we are done, but we take a stroll and get some pictures of the Bluenose. Just sitting at the dockside she looks fast. They sell tickets for rides, but it’s too foggy and wet today so she is staying docked. We leave to go to Liverpool taking the Lighthouse Drive, but after driving a while on a very twisty road in the rain we decide to take an overland road back to our camp. There, we have a brief chat with our neighbors, then retire to the trailer.

Day 76, Aug 15, Today’s Plan; go to Digby. I am including the date because, I like some readers, am having trouble figuring out what the date is.

The clouds are hanging in today again. We decide to go anyway. On the way the weather clears and the sun is shining when we get there. We park at the Info Center and get a town map. A walk along the shoreline sidewalk gives us a feel of the place. After a few blocks we come to the wharf and stroll out to see the boats and get an overview of town. We chat with a sport fisherman on the wharf who is unsuccessfully trying to catch a mackerel. We look at the gear on some of the boats and try to reason what type of fishing they do. When we come back to shore, we see the water has dropped about two feet. Wow. We were only gone for about half an hour.

A restaurant’s menu attracts us so we go sit on their deck and have some lunch. Of Digby Scallops, of course. Yum. Lorna has hers sautéed in garlic butter, while I order deep fried. We trade tastes and cannot say which is better.

Later, we tour a old house that has information on Admiral Digby and others in the area. Nearby is an old Anglican church with beautiful stained glass windows, so we investigate. There is a tour but the guide is busy so we do a self guided tour and leave with a few photos. We are told the local lighthouse is worth a look, so we go find it. It wasn’t worth it.

We move on to Bear river, ‘The Switzerland of Nova Scotia’. Not. It’s a quaint little village with friendly people and the usual dry-at-low-tide harbor. There is one, maybe two buildings that have a sort of Bavarian treatment on the gables. There is only one street so to fit everyone in, some buildings are built on stilts. That’s worth a photo.

Next, we move on to Annapolis Royal or Port Royal, depending on whose history book you read, English or French. There is a fort there, Fort Anne, maintained by Parks Canada. It was built or rebuilt and fought over several times by the French and English. It protected the colonists and their industry and exports. Mostly, it protected France’s or England’s claim in the New World. The first fort was built here by the French in the early 1600’s. Six more were built on top of that as owners and technologies changed. In the present, there are only four buildings remaining. A French Powder magazine, from their last ownership. Two British magazines built under the walls in opposite corners. The British officers quarters, now the interpretive center. The buildings and earthworks have been restored. There is a path with interpretive plaques provided around the outside of the walls. We start there. From the outside one wonders how anyone would think they could overpower such a structure. There is no place to hide and the walls would have been lined with cannon and soldiers.

On the inside of the fort, there are also plaques explaining the defenses. The ramparts and crossfire positions, and the commanding position over the water and countryside. The interpretive center provides a history of the area as well as who came and went at what time. The first item inside is a large tapestry. There is an park guide here to explain its symbolism. We listen to the lecture with another couple. When it’s done Lorna notices they have no accent so she casually asks where they are from. Would you believe; B.C., West coast, Vancouver Island, Campbell River, Candy Lane(about five blocks from our house)? We are all amazed by the coincidence.

Interestingly, when the British controlled the area in the early 1600’s, they put out a call for colonists and some dozen or so Scots families responded. They settled about a hundred kilometers away to the east on the Blomidon Peninsula at a place called Scots Bay. They were among the earliest settlers and named the land ‘New Scotland’. Or in Latin, Nova Scotia. Three years later, when a treaty gave the area to the France, they had to abandon their settlement and go back to Scotland, but the name stuck. We finish our tour and return to camp by way of one of the scenic back roads in the area.

We are greeted by our neighbors on our return and invited to join them by their campfire later. We spend a pleasant evening of chatting with several couples and are entertained by Raymond and Dave, who sing and play guitar.

Day 77, Aug 16, Today’s Plan; Explore some local historical sites recommended by our new friends.

First stop, Wolfville, home to Arcadia University and many majestic old homes. After looking at some of these homes, many are three stories, we visit the Randall House. This house is owned by the local Historical Society and preserved in its 1800’s style. We are lucky and get a thorough tour by the Assistant Curator. The building is a rich farmer’s house that is better than most but not quite a wealthy man’s house. Our guide points out, that among other things, there are extra high ceilings downstairs and two parlors, one for company and one for family, unusual in a farm house. The owner was an astute man who succeeded by diversifying his crops and having animals for market. He eventually acquired several hundred acres.

Second stop is Prescott House a few kilometers away. This man made his money in shipping and trade in Halifax. He retired at an early age having to leave the city because of health problems. He bought a large tract of land and had a stone mansion built. The building is as impressive as any we have seen so far, with its high ceilings and large rooms. Prescott didn’t retire in reality, he became a farmer. He had many different crops planted with an eye to marketing them. Until then people just grew what they needed. He was instrumental in creating large apple orchards so the fruit could be marketed. One of the first in the Annapolis Valley. The country life must have agreed with him because he raised 12 children and lived on into his 80’s.

When we get on our way again, we find a cheese factory. The Smoked Gouda is to die for, as is the Havarti. We must have some. Actually, all their cheeses are good and it’s hard to pick one, so we picked two. And wouldn’t you just know it, there’s a winery a short hop down the road. They have some nice wines and we pick a red and a white.

Next is Scots Bay, mentioned yesterday. On the way is the ‘Look Off’. We call it a ‘look out’, but are instantly corrected when we do. From the Look Off, we can see much of the north end of the Valley. It’s raining to the west and hazy across the valley. It would be a great view on a nice day. The road to Scots Bay winds about the countryside past farms and through bush. When we come down the last hill a farming community is revealed before us. We are driving into history. This is some of the oldest cultivated land in North America. Okay, oldest European cultivated land. There is not much here for all its historical significance. It is, in fact, a very rough looking place. The homes are modest and the fields small. Has the place changed much in 400 years? The harbor is a short quay with three fishing boats tied to it. And sitting on the bottom. This is our first experience of the Fundy tides. The water is a hundred yards away and fifteen feet lower than the boats. I don’t know if we really understand what we see. Awed, we leave to go to Halls Harbor, retracing our path back past the Look Off. It’s still socked in.

Halls harbor is another fishing, Hamlet, I think the sign said. It looks untouched by tourist commercialism except for one gift shop where you can also order a lunch (they’ll bring it to you in a room next door) and an artist’s shop. Once again they are missing about forty feet of water. I think one really needs to be at one of these places for six to eight hours to see the change to really appreciate the phenomenon. We walk around the dock area then head back to camp. Again we are greeted by our neighbors who want to hear of our adventures around the campfire. None live in the area, but holiday in the campground every summer. More than once, we hear comments about how they should go see these sights for themselves. We are introduced to Dulce, dried seaweed. We are not sure if we are about to be the target of some practical joke so we are reluctant to try any. Some in the group do, so we each try a small bit. It tastes salty(no surprise) and is rubbery and chewy, sort of like seaweed would be, we think. It is nutritious and served as a vegetable sometimes. We discuss this while Raymond and Dave do a fine job of entertaining us again. Jill and Wayne give us a bon voyage gift of some scallops. Gosh, we hate to leave.

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