Sunday, July 5, 2015

Nova Scotia

While Dave was preparing to leave for a 2.5 week mountaineering trip in the Cascades, I decided that he wasn't allowed to have all of the fun - I would have a little adventure of my own.

Destination?  Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Why?  Cheapest flight out of Ithaca to somewhere interesting.

The general plan?  Rent a car, drive somewhere interesting, hike along the way, camp.  No specific itinerary or route, and therefore no reservations.

Of course, I couldn't make it too easy:  no smartphone or GPS for this trip.  I used maps printed on dead trees, questions to friendly passersby, and a healthy dose of serendipity to navigate and plan my next move.  How quaint, eh?

Here are the highlights...

From Halifax, I drove along the southern coast.  This part of the island felt abandoned and overlooked.  I camped at Sheet Harbor and enjoyed the solitude.

Next was Cape Breton Island, and specifically the Cabot Trail, a scenic drive at the northern tip of the island.  I'd read that the hiking was great and the scenery was superb...  but I thought the hiking was over-rated and the scenery was "just nice."

My favorite location was this little fishing harbor on the western coast that wasn't mentioned anywhere in the tourist brochures:  Pleasant Bay.  The easterly winds were so fierce that they were blowing the waves away from shore!

no waves here
I spent less time than I expected on Cape Breton Island and ended up in Pictou, the terminus of the Prince Edward Island ferry.  PEI was never part of the plan, but the ferry was right there, and free going over to PEI.  How could I resist?

Prince Edward Island was beautiful:  agricultural, quaint, rural, colorful.  I spent only one day, driving across the southern part of the island, stopping to see whatever caught my fancy.  A highlight of the trip, and completely unplanned!

point prim
life-changing clam chowder - now i understand!
growing potatoes
From PEI, I checked out Cape Chignecto and its hiking trails at the tip of the Bay of Fundy, home of the world's highest tides.  Once again, the hiking at Cape Chignecto was over-rated, and I stayed for much less time than I had expected.  (Side note:  Cape Chignecto has a 3-4 day coastal backpacking loop that looks very exciting and beautiful, but already my pack's hipbelt is uncomfortable, so that wasn't an option for me on this trip.)

Instead, I continued on to Five Islands and camped at the provincial park there, high on a bluff overlooking the Minas Basin.

not even low tide.  crazy.
I looped around the Bay of Fundy and ended up at another favorite place, Delaps Cove.  The camp steward recommended a silly little walk in the equivalent of a county park here in the States, and for whatever reason, it captured my fancy.  I think this highlights the value of wandering, being open to suggestions, and having no fear of adjusting your plan on the fly.

uh, where's the water?
I also enjoyed a cone of "Privateer's Bounty," vanilla ice cream with salted toffee and black licorice jelly.  That probably didn't hurt my opinion of the area.  :o)

I passed by Kejimkujik National Park and did a few more hikes.  This park is best enjoyed by canoeing or kayaking, but the parts I saw on foot reminded me of the Adirondacks.

Along the southern shore, west of Halifax, I ran into Tourism Central.  The historical town of Lunenburg and the photogenic lighthouse of Peggy's Cove are mentioned in every tourist brochure, and while they are lovely, I passed by many more beautiful villages and lighthouses that were not swarming with people.

peggy's cove from afar - those black dots are people
Also, I can't believe I have written this much with only one photo of a lighthouse.  Seriously, the Nova Scotia coastline is covered with lighthouses.  Here, have another:

ridiculously cute, no?
This was my last solo trip for many years (the thumping in my lower abdomen makes it hard to forget), and that made it very special.  I intended a mostly hiking trip, and because the hikes were short, easy, and somewhat boring, it turned into a mostly road trip.  I'm happy I didn't have a plan and was able to discover places for myself.

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