For the past week Betty & I have been following the scenic coastal roads down the Eastern Shore and South Shore of Nova Scotia. As noted in a prior post, the Atlantic coastline is getting more and more rugged as the waves crash in on the rocky shores. Coming from the flat prairies, this energetic ocean action is a wondrous sight to behold!
At the same time, this maritime coastal area is quite sparsely populated, which is a good thing for these slow-moving gawking tourists. As we pass the small hamlets and infrequent vehicles, the inhabitants regularly give us a wave – a sign of a warm welcome to their little piece of
paradise. In some rural Canadian communities, the wave goes out to those you know, as you recognize them in passing. But in this part of Nova Scotia, it seems like everyone gets treated like family: A great gesture!
It’s so fun to see the waves and waves as our adventure unfolds on the road!
Throughout our travels, it has been my custom to give a wave to other Class A motorhomes passing in the opposite direction. Betty says it’s elitist that I don’t also wave to Class B & C motorhomes, but you have to draw the line somewhere, or else we’d be waving to everyone on the road! From time to time I’ve tried waving to motorhomes from our Smart car, but for some reason they don’t even seem to see me! LOL
I’ve always been fascinated by the greeting of fellow motorcycle riders, as they lower an extended left hand in passing on the road. This seems to be a common recognition of their fraternity, except today as we passed through Digby, Nova Scotia. We thought we’d find a quiet spot for the night
there, but didn’t realize that the city was hosting the “wharf rat rally”, the Canadian version of the Sturgis, South Dakota rally. There were literally thousands of motorcycles up and down the streets, and on every artery leading to the coastal town: Way too many to acknowledge each other with that wave of recognition!
From Nova Scotia Betty and I will be looping around the Bay of Fundy, heading down the New Brunswick coast to Maine and the New England states beyond. Our travels south on this trip are intended to take us to the great wave action on the Outer Banks at Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.
Along the way we’ll pass through or near Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, to name a few of the east coast’s urban areas. Given the value of the warm waves exchanged in Nova Scotia, maybe we should extend the practice to those areas as well? As an avowed monarchist, all I can say is: “If the Queen can do it, why shouldn’t we?” LOL
No, I’m not talking about dining on road kill, although Betty & I have seen our fair share of squished skunks, run-over raccoons, slimed squirrels, and other unidentifiable flattened furry things between Winnipeg and the east coast. I’m referring to what and how we eat as we travel the continent on our overlandish odyssey (oh oh!). BTW, oh oh is what the furry friends all said just before they got lost between the headlights…
I’ve been somewhat ambivalent about addressing this topic in our blog. On the one hand it seems rather narcissistic to post one’s meals on Facebook, or any other public medium. But on the other hand there are now dozens of television shows highlighting food and how it can be cooked. It’s a somewhat different experience gathering supplies and preparing meals on the road, so we thought our family and other readers might be interested in what’s cookin’ on our travels.
First, I guess it’s not uncommon for travellers like us to eat out more often. We hear and read about great restaurants across the continent where “you gotta eat”, and we do like to try local fare prepared well by local chefs. As an aside, Betty & I have had few regrets in our adventures, but we did miss out on visiting a restaurant in Souris, Prince Edward Island, owned and operated by one of Canada’s celebrity chefs, Michael Smith. It was too early in the day when we passed through Souris, and we weren’t sure the chef would be in if we waited on a possible reservation. Well, we’ll just have to better plan for that on another trip!
Each province so far has had notable restaurants, but three PEI locations stand out for great seafood: Clam Diggers in Cardigan had great muscles and seafood chowder; Sharky’s Seafood in Summerside had fabulous lobster rolls & fries, and was worth the return trip for a mixed seafood platter that was more than enough for Betty & me to share; and of course
the New Glasgow Lobster Supper, served up with enough fresh bread, salads and dessert to keep you going for a week. Honourable mention must also go to the Canadian Potato Museum for their french fries & stuffed potato skins. (I would expect our daughter, Lisa, to put this as number one on the list. LOL)
Unlike dinners prepared in our bricks ‘n sticks kitchen – especially after a full reno adding a 4’ x 8’ granite island – storage, prep and serving space in our motorhome is decidedly
less. OK, it also needs to be noted in this blog post that I’m talking mainly in the third person, as I am not usually the first person to prepare and serve our delicious meals. LOL. While limited storage is a negative, it also forces/allows us to stop more often for local fresh produce at roadside stands, fish markets, bakeries, butcher shops, and buy whatever else is in season, or a local specialty.
With much of this trip in the maritime provinces, a lot of our current menu is fresh seafood based. Usually locals tell us about the best outlets to pick up today’s catch, but yesterday’s lunch came from a different source: Sobeys. We had stopped in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia to pick up some basics, and got into a conversation with a staff member about our travels, and their large fresh catch section. When we mentioned our inability to cook lobster in our motorhome, he offered to pick out a couple of live lobsters from their tank and steam them for us while we waited. Betty & I had purchased the
necessary hardware for shell cracking and meat removal in PEI, so we ended up having a great lunch, right in the Sobeys parking lot!
As mentioned in a previous post, our solar system has allowed us to use all of our electrical outlets as we travel, and some of our best
meals have been clam and seafood chowders, slow-cooked while driving down the road, and ready to eat when we stopped for the day. Yum!
While seafood has been our main focus, we have also enjoyed the lamb sausage from Lismore Sheep Farm on the Northumberland Strait
in Nova Scotia. Of course from time to time I have to bbq a rib eye & prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, but lately we’ve been topping the steak with crab or lobster, for a surf ‘n turf presentation – because we can… This forces us to open both red & white wines to pair with the meal, but we’re never driving after that meal. LOL
Anyway, a lot more could be said
about good food, and the many delicious dishes we’ve sampled on our adventures. While we were on Manitoulin Island we saw many signs warning of deer crossings, and were informed that some didn’t make it across. Apparently it is not uncommon for locals to quickly harvest the road kill for a number of hearty meals. Betty & I have not ventured that far on our travels to date, but who knows what we’ll end up eating on the road.
When Betty & I left Whycocomagh Provincial Park, near Baddeck, Nova Scotia, we weren’t sure how far we would make it on our next day’s drive. Each of our maps is set to a significantly different scale, so some apparently lengthy journeys take no time at all, while other drives – particularly along the scenic routes – take far longer as the road dips and dives, twists and turns, and bumps at slow speeds through many tiny hamlets on our path.
Our wonderful next-door neighbours in Calgary – the Hadleys – originally came from Hadleyville, Nova Scotia, along the eastern shore, not far from Cape Breton Island, so we thought it only appropriate to take the scenic Marine Drive through the community that brought them together so many years ago. Unfortunately, the road was in very poor condition with no pull-off large enough to handle our motorhome and tow vehicle while we stirred it up with the local Hadleys, Carters, and McKays. We can hear our old neighbours breathing a sigh of relief that we didn’t stop to participate in the tradition of buttering the noses of anyone having a birthday that day! LOL.
The redeeming feature on this lonely, bumpy (one of our automatic leveler
controllers got knocked loose along the way!), twisty road is that it leads to some very beautiful underused provincial parks. Our first night after Cape Breton was spent at site 18 in Salsman Provincial Park, Goldboro, Nova Scotia. As with many of the province’s provincial parks, there were no serviced sites available. But because of our solar system
and large storage tanks, we were able to fully enjoy a private site on a small peninsula, providing dramatic water views on three sides. It was a quiet spot to listen for the loons while we watched the shooting stars in an area not subject to light pollution.
Betty & I are now in site 11 at
Porter’s Lake Provincial Park near Halifax. The few serviced sites in the park are full, but many of the unserviced sites are empty, with a large selection from which to choose. Attached are some pics of this nice site.
We hope to spend at least another week in Nova Scotia, and have noted two Harvest Host sites, and two Boondockers Welcome sites, but we expect that much of our time will be spent in Nova Scotia’s apparently underutilized, beautiful, but somewhat remote provincial parks. We’ll keep you posted…
As Betty & I drive from our campsite at Whycocomagh Provincial Park to Baddeck, Nova Scotia, I can’t help but think back to an interesting encounter in the early 1990’s. David Milgaard had recently been released from Manitoba’s Stony Mountain Penitentiary, after serving 23 years in federal prison for a murder that he did not commit. The John Howard Society of Canada was holding its Annual Meeting in Baddeck, and I arranged for David to be flown in as guest speaker.
Donald Marshall Jr. had similarly been wrongfully convicted of murder, with a high profile 1990 royal commission producing 82 recommendations for fundamental changes to the justice process. It turned out that Donald, who was originally from the Membertou Reserve in Sydney, Nova Scotia, was living just down the road from Baddeck. David and Donald had never met, but each was familiar with the other’s case due to national – and some international – attention.
Donald (known as Junior to his family and friends) graciously agreed to pick up David and me at our hotel in Baddeck, and drive us back to his home on St. Patrick’s Channel. That night Donald’s family gathered at his home to recognize his brother’s birthday, and we were invited to stay for a traditional Mi’kmaq celebration. David and I ended up spending the night, with Donald and David sharing many heavy conversations about their injustice experiences. It was a most unique encounter, and I have always been glad to have played a role in their meeting, and to have shared the many learnings from their life stories.
It has now been a quarter century since that get-together, but my thoughts go back to that time as we journey the TransCanada Highway from Whycocomagh to Baddeck. With the help of the Association In Defense of the Wrongly Convicted, Donald and David played a significant role in addressing the plight of those in prison for crimes they did not commit. Donald passed away in 2009, and David continues to encourage others from his home in Calgary, Alberta. A big “miigwetch” to them both!
They say John Cabot discovered Cape Breton Island in June 1497, but I am here to record that Betty, Graham, Charlie & Gavin discovered the island in August 2018. This is a brief pictorial rendering of what we found yesterday.
Ok, that was yesterday. Most of our future troop movements are a secret (even to us), but we’ll keep you posted if you have the necessary security clearance to receive our updates.
As Betty & I continue our overlandish odyssey, we are struck by how beautiful and diverse Canada is! There are so many grand iconic symbols in our country, from west to east, north to south. Each has a story to tell that contributes to the amazing, elaborate fabric of our nation. This week we visited one of the east coast’s iconic regions: The Cabot Trail at the tip of Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island. Words and pictures alone do not do justice to what we saw and experienced. At some point I hope that all of our family and friends can make the journey to this breathtaking region. In the meantime, here are some pics taken along the way – many from a moving Smart car, as the narrow trail would have needed a continuous roadside pull-off to capture all the beautiful vistas.
Our first stop after leaving PEI was at a Boondockers Welcome home on the south shore of the Northumberland Strait, in another new province: Nova Scotia. Our host was away at the time, but was gracious enough to allow us to stay in her driveway and sit at her patio by the water, while she was gone.
We expected to find a serviced
campsite on arrival at Baddeck, a centrally located town on Cape Breton Island. But when Betty & I stopped at the Welcome Centre on the way into Nova Scotia, the staff member warned us that we might not find accommodation without a reservation. She called the Baddeck area campgrounds for us, and sure enough, they were full. In the end, she found unserviced spots for us in Whycocomagh Provincial Park, near the start of the Cabot Trail. We spent 2 nights in the first, and are now in the second scenic spot for 3 nights.
From our campground we set out on a counterclockwise loop around the Trail, placing all of our scenic lookouts on the right-hand side. Fortunately, we heeded the warning to take our Smart, and leave the Boy at our campsite. BTW, this move saved us about $175. in gas costs. While we saw a few motorhomes on the trail, most appeared to be laboring on the steep, twisty inclines. We saw
one struggling diesel pusher, with its tow vehicle disconnected and following behind with hazard lights activated. Very few pull-offs could accommodate a larger motorhome, and the narrow roadways, with little or no paved margins, would have contributed to a not-so-pleasant white-knuckle drive.
In the seven hours we took to make the loop, Betty & I took about 300 pictures. The approx. 18 pictures in this post only provide a brief taste of this spectacular landscape. We hope all can take the time to visit this iconic corner of our beautiful tapestry. Enjoy the Trail!
Betty convinced me to start a new post of PEI pics, rather than add to our previous post, as not everyone would scroll to the bottom to see the additions.
From Panmure Island Provincial Park we travelled the coastal road to the eastern tip of the province, appropriately called East Point. Unfortunately, much of this scenic road is in fairly poor condition, and is not actually following the coastline.
The heatwave has continued, so young people gathered on many bridges we crossed, jumping into the cooling waters below. The most popular spot for this was Basin Head Provincial Park, where the wharfs border a deep channel, providing a safe (lifeguarded) location for young and older to plunge into the salty waters below a footbridge.
From East Point we travelled cross-country to Linkletter Provincial Park, just west of Summerside, PEI’s second largest city. At our huge campsite Betty & I can see the Confederation Bridge in the distance, and watch the tides ebb and flo.
Today we took a day trip to the North Cape, the most northwesterly point of PEI. On our way we stopped at The Canadian Potato Museum for some great fries and loaded potato skins, and took a tour through the Stompin’ Tom Centre in Skinners Pond.
In the end Betty & I spent almost two weeks on Prince Edward Island, which was longer than we originally intended. It is a very rural, tranquil island, where the favourite saying, at least from young people, was “no worries!”. PEI is a great place to relax and unwind, whether for a few days, a few weeks, or longer. We certainly enjoyed this restful stay, and look forward to future visits.
Naïve and uniformed. Those are the qualities I attribute to myself as I think about preparing a post to describe Charlottetown, the capital city of the province of Prince Edward Island. Betty & I have only been here a matter of a few hours, so how is it possible for me to accurately and legitimately assess the pulse of this place? Of course, it is not, so I should just fold up my laptop and not further clutter the www with my simplistic characterizations.
Or not… If you end up reading this post, you will know which way I went. LOL.
My first impression is that size matters, and Charlottetown appears to be right-sized. The streets and sidewalks are busy with people, but not to the point where you can’t find a parking spot, or have to wait in long lines for any activity (except maybe ordering Cows ice cream. LOL). At the extremes, there are cities whose cores have died – you could shoot a cannon down the deserted streets and not hit anyone. Then there are cities that have become so bloated that every artery is a traffic jam, and every transaction requires a monotonous wait for others. Charlottetown is in a very pleasant space between those two extremes.
Personal safety is not simply a factor of size, but many of the desolate city cores seem to have been abandoned to dispossessed street gangs. And many of the oversized cities appear overrun with impatient people who become easily irritated by their neighbours. It’s ironic that anonymity is more prevalent in larger urban areas. At both extremes, we seem to see a much greater police presence. I had to chuckle to myself that, while I did pass 2 RCMP detachments in the few hours of visiting the suburbs and the active core, I didn’t actually see one police car, or officer walking the beat. Some people might question their level of personal safety if there aren’t visible armed officers to protect them, but I think not on PEI.
In my last post I referred to the qualities of kindness and generosity as apparent locally inherent characteristics. That sense is sustained in this city, from easy lane merges on the highways to polite rotations at 4 way stops. At a local PEI liquor store, I asked the checkout clerk about local wineries. He and the clerk next to him gave me a quick rundown of where they are located, but he seemed
apologetic that he couldn’t tell me more. I almost felt he was about to say: “Come over to my place for supper tonight, and I’ll call my nephew, Bob. He has a good friend that works at one of the wineries, and he can tell you all about it.” That didn’t happen, but if I had lingered long enough, it wouldn’t have surprised me if it had! LOL.
In his important criminal justice work, entitled “The Lucifer Effect – Understanding How Good People Turn Evil, Stanford Professor Philip Zimbardo noted:
“Dehumanization is one of the central processes in the transformation of
ordinary, normal people into indifferent or even wanton perpetrators of
evil. Dehumanization is like a cortical cataract that clouds one’s thinking
and fosters the perception that other people are less than human. It
makes some people come to see those others as enemies deserving of
torment, torture, and annihilation.”
Ok, maybe that’s a little too heavy for this blog. When I served on the Federal Justice Minister’s Advisory Committee on Crime Prevention and Community Safety, we noted that block parties are an effective tool for preventing crime by building healthy neighbourhood networks. Charlottetown appears to have those networks in spades!
During our stay in the neighbouring town of Cornwall, we have been graciously welcomed by our Boondockers Welcome hosts Kevin & Ellie. They live in an 1830’s era farmhouse in the centre of town, on a beautifully landscaped property that provides a great home-base for us. Last night Ellie took Betty to yoga at a scenic spot by the
water in Argyle Shore Provincial Park, and it was free! Kevin shared some of his travel experiences with us, and we have a sense that there are many more stories to be told.
In a province with an overall population of around 145,000, it feels like people know and respect each other with a genuine sense of caring. Naïve and uniformed. That is a legitimate critique of this post. We are off to the Confederation Centre of the Arts tonight to see a local production of Jesus Christ Superstar, and are scheduled to leave Charlottetown tomorrow. It is too short a visit to make a more accurate assessment. So I guess we’ll just have to come back!!!