The Beautiful Cabot Trail, Cape Breton

Sunset on the Cabot Trail

 

Personally, I think the best time to tour the Cabot Trail is once the leaves turn color, but recently we took the opportunity to introduce some friends from Holland to it’s beauty.

We were only joining them for part of the trip,so we picked up the RV they had booked at CanaDream in Waverly, and headed out.

Day One

We only made it to Port Hood-and only stopped there because it was the closest thing we could find for a camping spot. We drove into Sunset Sands RV Park at around 8pm.No one was around to help us so we helped ourselves to a site. A telephone number posted on the door led to a voicemail. It was easy to see the park catered to mostly seasonal people, but I was disappointed at the work involved in trying to connect with someone-anyone- so we could sort out payment and such.

It was waterfront and windy-but it’s Cape Breton after all.

Port Hood, Cabot Trail
Port Hood, Cabot Trail

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6 Great Ways to View The Fall Colors

Kejimkujik in the fall

I love fall-everything is  brighter and crisper. No humidity. No mosquitoes. It makes me feel like actually DOING something. Not work. No. I mean fun things.

And there are a lot of choices. Hikes. Kayaking. Just a drive with a stop for a quick fall picnic.

This year, the leaves are  a little late turning. But give it another week or so and everything will be gor-ge-ous.

So, here we go

Drive this Fall

If you are out for a Sunday drive, a beautiful spot -even without the reds and yellows of fall is the drive along White Rock Road in Kings County.

Grape vines line the southerly slopes of the hill and the Gaspereau River snakes though the valley at the bottom. There aren’t really good pull of spots along there so take care when getting out to get  a photo.  If you’re heading to Benjamin Bridge Winery,the driveway to winery is a great place to snap a picture .

How to get there.

At Exit 10 on Highway 101, and continue into the town of Wolfville. +Turn up Gaspereau Avenue ( across from Tim Horton’s ) and continue along that (about 3.5 km) until you see Gaspereau Vineyards on your right, Turn right there-you are on White Rock Road. Drive along about 8km, until  just before the crossroads, you will see Ridge Rd on your right.Travel back east along that for more fall beauty and a stunning view of Port Williams , Greenwich and  the Minas Basin.

Fall snapshops of vineyards on White Rock Rd.
Fall snapshots of vineyards on White Rock Rd.Just a teeny bit of color so far…. Susan Carey Photo

Church Street, Port Williams to the Look Off
Apple Orchards, Wineries, Cheese, farm and dyke land, topped off by this view below. Stop at Fox Hill Cheese for some gelato.

How to Get There:

Take Exit 11 and go down to the set of lights  and go straight through them-after they turn green of course,that is Hwy 358. Once into the village of  Port Williams, turn right on Church Street and just follow that around the loopuntil it connects back to Hwy 358, then head north to the Look Off

Fall Colors at the Look Off
Fall Colors at the Look Off

 

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Whale Watching on Brier Island

Whale flipping it's tail on Brier Island Whale Cruise

Brier Island Whale and Seabird Tours

Briar Island is a smallish basalt  island off the coast of southwest Nova Scotia, only 7.5 km long and 2.5 km wide. The economy runs on  fishing and seasonally on  ecotourism-mainly whale and bird watching tours.In fact, some lobster fishermen set their traps from the last Monday in  November and pull them for the season on May 31st,clean the boat,then captain these ecotours during the summer season.

Whale season runs from about mid June to Mid October. Then they all stream back to the Caribbean and its warm waters for the winter months. Humpbacks are preceded to the Bay of Fundy by Finback Whales, Minke Whales and Harbour Porpoises. Right Whales return in July. In fact, as many as 12 different species of whale make the Bay of Fundy their summer home,feasting on  the squid, krill and fish.
Whales usually have their babies here and return seasonally for years with growing youngun’ in tow.
( Whale babies can gain 100 per day!)

Mama & Baby Humpback side by side Brier Island Whale Tour
Mama & Baby Humpback side by side Brier Island Whale Tour Photo Credit Brier Island Whale & Seabird Tours

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The Mighty Bay of Fundy

Medford Beach, Bay of Fundy

Nova Scotia’s Mighty Bay of Fundy: Part 1 of a 8 Part Series: Nova Scotia, My Heart and My Home

Medford Beach, Bay of Fundy
Medford Beach, Bay of Fundy

 

Years ago, as a newly wed, my husband was offered an interview with a company in British Columbia. That interview hinted at wonderful opportunities and a good life.

How did I take this exciting news?

I cried. I cried for days at the very thought of moving from Nova Scotia.

Finally, my husband cancelled the interview.

 

And, after all this time, I still wouldn’t want to live anywhere but this beautiful province. Why would I? As a child, there wasn’t much opportunity to explore. As an adult, I am sure as hell making up for that. Even so, I could never experience all I wanted to do, see, taste and smell in one lifetime in Nova Scotia.

Every shore is different. Every shore is a natural playground all its own. I love being so accessible to rivers, lakes, the Atlantic and my personal favorite-the mighty Bay of Fundy. After all, it was practically on my front door step.

As a child,I learned to swim in the rust colored water of the Avon River.

I walked the ocean floor before it became a THING, and  sunk in red mud up to my shins, scraped my toes on barnacles and ruined white tee shirts that will never again be even close to white.

Of course, many flock to the Bay of Fundy solely to witness its amazing tides, which can reach as high as a then 5 story building, and come in as fast as a running horse. Tidal bores, flowerpots, fishing boats resting on a bed of mud. It’s all good.

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Malagash’s Blue Sea Beach Provincial Park

Blue Sea Beach Park

Blue Sea Beach

My plan was to go to the  beach.Malagash’s Blue Sea Beach specifically. That was my plan. And I got there, although not to laze around on the sand in the sun.

It wasn’t that kind of day. It was  a day for exploring. Everyday is a day for exploring, isn’t it? Rain,wind snow, everyday lends itself to some kind of unknown adventure, be it low key or thrilling.

Today was low key.

What was once privately owned farmland,Malagash’s Blue Sea Beach lies almost at the very eastern tip of the peninsula about halfway between Tatamagouche and Wallace,along the Sunrise Trail. The beach kisses the infamous Northumberland Strait (infamous because the water is the warmest there in Nova Scotia, and if you’ve ever stuck your toes in the Atlantic or the Bay of Fundy, you’d understand)

Blue Sea beach

It   is practically deserted much of the time-who knows why.It’s perfect for sunbathing and long walks along the shoreline.  There are picnic tables, change rooms and outdoor pit toilets (Privvy rating B-)

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George’s Island-More than Just Snakes

 

George's Island
Doesn’t this just make your skin crawl?

Celebrating Canada’s 150 birthday means parties and special events this entire year. I mentioned in an earlier post on Nova Scotia’s National Parks & Historic sites that I’m doing my best to get to some of these.

During Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Festival such an opportunity presented itself.  George’s Island was opened for tours, a concert and a Taste of Nova Scotia event were held there.

What could I do-I bought tickets to the tunnel tours and hopped on the ferry.

George's Island
Drummer Boys

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Camping In A Tent? Here’s What You Need to Take

camping

Camping old school-gotta love it.
Some of us still use tents for camping. Maybe not as luxurious. Maybe a bit more  weather dependant.  Maybe more caution must be taken so your snacks don’t get pilfered by racoons.

But still, if you are into that kind of thing-and I am, it can be a whole lot of fun.

We assume you have done your research and chosen a date and maybe even booked your site-spots such as Kejimkujik National Park as usually very busy Thursdays to Sundays.

Further to that, we assume you have planned a menu with easy to carry and cook foods and have a shopping list.

And that you know what clothes you need.

Because this list is for equipment you will need to take for camping:

I recommend

  • Set up tent to ensure all the necessary components are there and that it hasn’t sprouted any holes since last use.
  • Try out stove before leaving- you don’t want any nasty surprises when you are ready to cook supper at the campground.

Also: Pack food in a  cooler that you can store safely in the car at night.

And now, the basic camping equipment:

  1. Tent (make sure you have the tent poles  and pegs  along with a hammer/hatchet to drive pegs into the ground )
  2. Duct tape (fixing broken tent poles, covering holes in tent, etc)
  3. Tarp(ground cover for under your tent)
  4. Extra tarp or canopy Of course, it won’t rain, but…..
  5. Thick foam pad or air mattress( with pump) and sleeping bag for each camper
  6. Pillow
  7. Extra blanket
  8. Lawn chairs for around the campfire
  9. Bug repelling candles
  10. Flashlights (extra batteries) needed for nighttime bathroom forays..and checking out noises in the dark
  11. Lantern
  12. Lantern fuel or batteries
  13.  Camping Stove
  14. Fuel for camping stove
  15. Pot holders
  16. Waterproof matches or lighter
  17. Firewood, kindling AND paper plus said hatchet (burning paper plates to try to get your fire started will only get you so far.) Most campground will have firewood for sale-some even forbid you bringing wood with you. This campgroundwood is often not so dry.I would still bring dry kindling. Don’t even think about using the trees around your campsite. No.No. No.
  18. Frying pan
  19. Pot with cover
  20. Portable coffee maker( or boil water in your pot and have instant coffee)
  21. Large water jug (you’ll need water for cooking and to put out that fire)
  22. Plastic tablecloth and pegs to keep it from blowing into the campsite across the way
  23. Roasting sticks for marshmallows and hot dogs.
  24. Resealable food-storage containers,
  25. Sandwich bags, water bottles for hikes and stuff
  26. Large garbage bags good for stuffing wet tent in upon departure, also makeshift rain coat.
  27. Several yards of thin rope and clothes pins.
  28. Cooler
  29. Plates, mugs, cutlery,corkscrew, can opener, bottle opener
  30. Paring knife, spatula, cooking spoon
  31. Cutting board
  32. Foil
  33. Biodegradable dish soap
  34. SOS pad,  dishcloth, dishtowel, dish pan.
  35. Paper towels

Want to print the list and take it with you?  Click the link.  Camping List

Those Hidden Gems-Black Rock Trails and Lighthouse

 

Black Rock TrailsRecently we all hopped in the car- husband, dog and me- and set off for a Sunday drive. Now you may know me well enough by now to know I am not a sit in the car and drive around type of gal, but more of a let’s see what we can get into, err, I mean do, woman.  This may or may not cause ‘heated’ in-car discussion. Not with the dog-she always wants to do things. Nuff said.

That Sunday was no different.  We headed up Middle Dyke Road off the 101 and then west on the 221, swinging up the North Mountain towards Black Road, thinking we may find a good place to get to  the beach.

Black Rock Trails

But upon entered the community, a small a sign invited us to  enjoy the trails.

Woah-what trails were these, now?

We found out a few kms down the  road at the Black Rock Community Hall.  Seems like there is a series of trails  hidden behind the hall-but not secret-everyone apparently knew about these Black Rock Trails.Everybody  but me.
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For Provincial Parks Day, I’m Sharing My Top Five!

July 15th is Provincial Parks Day, so I decided to share with you my top five favorite camping parks in the province. Click the very short video below to see which ones they are and feel free to comment with your favorites-or why you disagree with mine. Happy Parks Day!

#5. Caribou Island  Provincial Park-Pictou,Northumberland Shore-If you love white, sandy beaches-this is  for you/

#4- Blomindon Provincial Park-Blomindon, Annapolis Valley-  A selection of great trails with varying degrees of difficulty.

#3-Five Islands Provincial Park Five Islands,NS-Beautiful views of the Bay of Fundy and of Nova Scotia’s ‘flowerpots’.

#2 Rissers Beach- Port Medway, South Shore another white sand beach-supervised with a nice boardwalk.

And,

# 1 Graves Island Provincial Park,Chester,South Shore -trails, fishing, one of my favorite places to fire up the BBQ.

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Guided Meanderings on Oak Island

Oak Island WanderingsI have a secret. Please don’t throw tomatoes at the computer, but….I don’t watch ‘the Curse of Oak Island.’ There, I’ve said it.

Which made the tour I took today a bit awkward.

Who was that nondescript bespectacled man signing autographs? Turns out he was our tour guide and beloved character on the Curse of Oak Island  series, Charles Barkhouse.
Oops.

Old Island Wanderlust

 

There’s a good chance I was the only person on the tour that hadn’t watched  a entire episode of the show, and that’s including my entire family-who seem to be rabid fans. Who knew.

Both the ‘Official Website  of Oak Island, Nova Scotia’  and the ‘Friends of Oak Island Society’  website were (and are) suspiciously bereft of information regarding ticket sales, but my sister managed to get 6 tickets for the  tour-and man, tickets are not easy to get.Private tours are about $300 for 10 people, while the public tour was a deal at $30. Both tours were sold out in less than an hour. You need to be on your toes to get these tickets, people!

We booked the public tour-I’d say there were about 25 people, making it easy get close enough to snap pictures and to hear the tour clearly. Charles was such a wealth of information that my scant knowledge of the island didn’t  matter.  By tours end, I knew about Borehole 10X  (looked down into it actually), the so tragic  deaths of  Robert Restall, his son Bobby, Karl Graeser and Cyril Hiltz. and the cabbage farmer who  shipped his produce across the way to Tancook Island.
Charles is an exceptional storyteller and seems genuinely passionate about the Island, it’s history and of course the treasure that may be lurking beneath. How can I tell he loves doing this? Charles didn’t disappear immediately after the tour,good-naturedly fielding the constant bombardment of questions and requests for pictures and autographs (yes,I got one)

And this was his 3rd 2 hour tour of the day.

Oak Island Meandering
Oak Island is home to the longest running and most famous treasure hunt in the world. The treasure hunt began in 1795 with the accidental discovery of the “Money Pit“.

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