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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Nova Scotia

A little overdue, but I wanted to put a recap of our trip to Nova Scotia together.

We arrived in Halifax late on the 5th and began our adventure bright and early on the 6th. We headed out in our little Fiat toward the Bay of Fundy. Almost immediately we were enchanted with the charms of Nova Scotia, a place where you can eat lobster at almost any restaurant, even at the local McDonald’s.

We made it to the quaint little town of Five Islands on the Minas Basin by 9 am and decided to pull into the Five Islands Provincial Park. When we arrived the coast was blanketed in fog, but luckily the fog lifted about a mile into our hike. We had a great hike to the Red Head and were reluctant to leave before the free clam digging lessons.

We then continued down the coast, stopping at Spencer’s Island to visit the Mary Celeste lighthouse. The lighthouse was  named for a very famous ship that was found floating, completely intact, without a soul onboard in December 1872. Our final stop before reaching Advoucate Harbour was at the Cape D’or Lighthouse. While the road that takes you out to the Cape is a bit treacherous at times, the views from the lighthouse were breathtaking. 

Finally, we made our way to Advoucate, where we planned to spend our first night. At the gas station we asked if we could buy some wood for a campfire. The sales clerk looked at us in confused astonishment and then simply said, “well, if you go to the beach wood is free.” We paid for our things and as we were leaving she came bursting out to tell us that we should just stop by her house if we couldn’t find any wood on the beach. Nova Scotians are really, really nice.

We left the gas station and headed to a little campsite and asked if we could buy some wood. She gave us a smirk and said, "well, I shouldn't be telling you this, but you can camp on the beach for free and there's plenty of wood along the beach!" We camped out on the beach the first night and made a fire out of driftwood. 

The next morning we made our way to the Cape Chignecto Provincial Park to meet our kayaking crew, Nova Shores Sea Kayaking Adventures.   The road to Cape Chignetco is also a bit treachorous at times, but worth the drive. our kayaking adventure was wonderful. The paddle was difficult and at times the waves were quite large, which made for a really fun trip. We kayaked past the three sisters, pictured below. 

Kayaking past the Three Sisters.

Beach Picnic prepared by our guides.

A restroom with a view at Cape Chignetco Provincial Park.

The beach at Cape Chignetco Provincial Park.

 That evening, we met up with our kayaking group on the driftwood beach. We enjoyed lobsters boiled in saltwater right on the beach. That evening, we headed back up the road a bit and camped in a cove on the ocean. 

Campsite #2

Reluctantly, we left the Bay of Fundy the next morning and made our way up the coast to Cape Bretton Island. We drove the Cabot Trail, stopping frequently to take pictures and enjoyed the view. We made it to the Skyline trail at dusk and debated whether we should risk the hike. We knew the hike would take a few hours and we'd have to hike back in the dark. We decided to go for it and took off down the trail. We devised a master plan in the event of running into a moose (climb the nearest tree as fast as you can). Just a mile into our hike, we entered a clearing and sure enough, a bull moose was munching away not thirty or forty yards away. We froze, unsure of what to do. After standing there silently for about twenty minutes, we finally decided that the moose didn't really care about us so we decided to quietly slip past. We made it to the end of the trail just as the sun set, and were so thankful we decided to make the hike.

 The next morning, we took a zodiak whale watching tour. We were the only two on the first tour and made the mistake of telling our captain that we had been hiking and camping throughout Nova Scotia. I think he decided we were the adventurous sort that would appreciate a wild ride, and a very wild ride it was indeed... I honestly felt a little afraid that I might fly out of the boat on the 4 mile ride out into bay. We saw dozens of pilot whales, at least ten of which were within an arm's reach at times. For great whale watching, Pleasant Bay is the place to be. There are several whale watching tours, larger boats for families and small zodiacs for other yahoos like us.
 After whale watching, we stopped for a dip at Ingonish Beach and took a nice hike out to Middle Head.

Finally, we made our way back to Halifax for our last day. We loved our little rental Fiat, we sure put it through the ringer! In Halifax we enjoyed sea food, poutine, the naval museum and watching the ships come and go. The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic is a must-see in Halifax, as Halifax has been home to several historical maritime incidents. (Rescue ships were sent from Halifax to pick up Titanic survivors and bring home the deceased. In 1917, a French munitions ship accidentally collided with a Norwegian ship, setting off the largest explosion prior to the atomic bomb, devastating the city and killing thousands. There have been 10,000 recorded shipwrecks off the coasts of Nova Scotia, which also makes for some very interesting exhibits and history.) 

We also took a tour of Keith's brewery. Founded in 1820, the brewery is now one of the oldest commercial breweries in North America. The tour was far from your run-of-the-mill brewery tour. Actors guide you through the brewery and portray the dress and customs of the first patrons of Keith's brewery, thoroughly entertaining you while also providing you very large samples of Keith's ales.  

We were very sorry to say "farewell to Nova Scotia" but we are very certain that we will be back to camp on her shores once again! 
Cleaning up the fiat before returning it to the rental company!

One of the actors that led us through Keith's brewery.

Drew aboard the CSS Acadia, the only ship to survive WWI, WWII and the Halifax explosion of 1917.

Drew, sampling some poutine! 

Our route.