Across Canada: Nova Scotia

I don’t want to rush this. I want to soak up every ounce of goodness and every fragment of time the universe will give us because I know this will all be over too soon.

Another maritime province to explore. This is going by too fast.

After leaving Prince Edward Island at night, we woke in a quiet town called Amherst, armed with a list of things to see in Nova Scotia. It was an incredibly windy day and poor Vannessa got a good workout by pushing headwind and navigating the narrow hilly roads down the north west coast of the province. When the tide is low on the Bay of Fundy, the banks of all the inlets turn to mud slicks that look like they would be so much fun to slip and slid down, and there are rafting companies that offer tours to go play in the mud. We were really tempted to try it out but cost and miserable wind were enough of a deterrent to opt out. Can’t do all the fun things can we?

Burntcoat Park was a good alternative to go explore the low rocks at low tide and wander into caves and over tidal pools that will be under 40 feet of water in a mere six hours.

Further along the coast we were into Anapolis Valley where most Nova Scotia’s produce is grown and is the site of early Acadian settlements. Unfortunately we just missed the last tour of Fort Anne, but we’re still able to wander around the grounds making up our own theories on what the fort was used for. I’m sure the canons and dry moats are only decorative and meant for us to climb all over them for pictures. No war, right? ✌🏻

While Kirk and I bought local cider, Levi ran down the street to scout out the nearest ice cream shop. The ice cream lady watched him for awhile, bemused by the little guy who was intently studying the posters of the insurance agent next door. She came outside and stood beside him and asked if he would like to buy some insurance. He looked at her with great offence and said ‘No’ and ran away while she looked on with a smile on her face.

Of course, we went back to the correct store to buy the ice cream and explained to Levi he may actually want to purchase some insurance one day. In the mean time, ice cream is better.

We felt like we won the lottery yet again when we left the coast to cross over the middle of Nova Scotia to camp at Kujimkujik National Park. The kids were drawn to the perfectly warm lake water next to our campsite, and spent hours splashing and laughing while playing with a big floating log. Sometimes it’s the simplest things that are most fun, right?

We cooked up our bucket of clams we dug in PEI after a steep learning curve and a lot of interneting to figure out how to clean and cook fresh clams. I was a little sad to eat them cause we grew kinda attached to them after watching them spit and poke out of their shells all day. Although I don’t think they liked me cause one of them spit all over my face when I leaned in to tell them they were cute.

Our clam dinner was amazing and we ended the night by start gazing by the lake where the stars actually reflected over the glassy surface.

Can we just freeze time?

Up the pretty southeast coast of Nova Scotia we wandered the adorable fishing village of Lunenburg with the required tour of the BlueNose II. Villages like Lunenburg are straight off of postcards with the cute brightly painted houses right on the water and it’s pretty easy to spend a few hours just meandering up and down the hilly streets enjoying the views.

We stopped at a place called “The Ovens” to hike along the cliffs and see the sea caves as best we could from above. Deep tunnels go under the rocks into big caves that echo like canons as the waves ricochet inside. The hardest part about that stop was convincing Kirk he couldn’t go down inside the caves because he would definitely die.

The east coast fog rolled in as we neared Peggy’s Cove, another iconic harbour town with a beautiful lighthouse on the rocks. There were lots of people milling about, and we had fun playing on the rocks and exploring the town, I’m sure we ruined a few touristy photos with our rock hopping under the lighthouse.

Once we were into Halifax Kirk was on a mission to try a Halifax donair with its signature sweet sauce. Thankfully the kids also quiet liked them, which is always a win when we find something everyone can agree on.

Other then delicious donairs, we also found the lovely Halifax harbour once the fog burned off, and wandered all the way from the infamous Pier 21 to the HMCS Sackville before dragging our very reluctant children up the steep hill to see the Citadel, another star shaped Fort complete with more decorative canons and actors in period costume. As we entered through the thick stone wall gates, a light bulb went off for Tegan when she realized she had done a school project about the Fort and had found it on google earth. Look it up, it looks pretty cool from above!

Before heading to Newfoundland, we wanted to spend at least a day in Cape Breton, getting to know this unique island that feels like it should be its own province. It’s mix of Celtic and French and a whole lot of rugged beauty we really loved exploring. The best way to see the island is to drive the scenic Cabot trail, a 280km loop that had Vannessa working hard on the climbs and whooping with joy on the descents. The views were incredible and I made Kirk pinky promise we would come back one year in the fall when the trees were changing to road bike the loop. He’s in. Yay.

With plenty of stops at lookouts, summits, ice cream (of course) and the Alexander Graham Bell Site we jammed a lot into one day. I’m a big fan of Mr. Bell, did you know that he considers the telephone the least of his successes? His proudest accomplishment was his work with the deaf community and development of speech strategies to improve communication and integration into society. As the mother of a hearing impaired son and an employee at a school for children with communication delays I was ready to high five his ghost in appreciation. Phones are cool too, I guess.

The day was hot and we were ready for a late swim at the beautiful Ingonish beach, where the waves were perfect for body surfing. All three kids were in there having a great time until Kirk found and big ugly eel and that was enough for Katie to decide she was happiest on land (like I am!). We were quite content to listen to her eclectic playlist together and watch a bride and groom from Keltic Lodge get their pictures on the beach instead.

A sunset walk down Middle Head trail was the perfect way to solidify Cape Breton in our minds as a beautiful, rugged and likely a lil haunted treasure of the maritimes. We told ghost stories as we walked through the thick forest in the dark, back to the beach. We were all in desperate need of a cleaning so we rinsed off at the beach outdoor shower in the deserted parking lot under the cover of darkness. Which was fine, until a ghost walk tour group emerged from the trail nearby carrying lanterns through the trees.

Yeah, this place is definitely haunted.

Let’s try further East, see what it’s like. Newfoundland up next!

Photo dump!

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