I have always wanted to explore Nova Scotia and Cape Breton. I have actually planned the trip there a few times over the last twenty years, only to have it fall apart for various reasons. I think that finally, I’m actually going to spend some time up there this summer.
When I met with Gerry and Ann this fall, they offered to set up a meeting with their friend Helen, who lives nearby in their town during the winter months, but who spends her summers up in Nova Scotia. I was thrilled to meet someone who could guide me in my planning for this iteration of the trip. Ann and Gerry were friends with Helen way back when they all lived in Texas. They hosted an afternoon tea for us to meet and talk about Nova Scotia.
Helen brought along a big paper map, and she gave me the insider’s tour, circling places she’d been that she enjoyed. Ann and Gerry had vacationed up in New Brunswick, Helen had a big motor home, and they toured around and camped in some truly beautiful places. Ann brought out an album and shared some of their pictures of that trip. I wanted to leave and drive north immediately. So beautiful! I love the state of Maine, but this looks like Maine on steroids.
The first piece of advice Helen gave me was to drive from the ferry dock in Digby directly to the Visitors Center, where we can pick up a map and brochures about all sorts of activities like hiking trails, camp sites and whale watching. It’s also a good place to find out local news: watches, warnings, and restrictions due to natural variations in the local environment. Actually, this is good advice to any traveler, Visitor’s Centers rule! I have usually found information about the local birds, mammals, flora and fauna (yes, I am interested in it all). Displays about local geography and history are usually available, as well as notable “Things To Do.”
Helen pointed out and circled many sites on her map, including Canso, her favorite campground, Marine Drive, her favorite road, The Halifax Natural History Museum. Annapolis Royal is a very nice town to visit. Cape Split is so scenic that they’ve been filming movies like the latest version of Moby Dick, and The Scarlet Letter there. Shelburne is the second deepest natural harbor in the world, and there’s a cooperage there, where barrels are made. Also there’s a great bookstore. Glad to hear those haven’t yet all gone away, due to Internet sales and tablet reading devices.
Helen asked me if I enjoyed eating haddock, scallops, lobster, mussels and clams? I said that I did. She suggested that these were the most excellent food that Nova Scotia had to offer. And then tipped me off about a lobster pound at Cape Forchu, a place that doesn’t look like much, but the locals know that it’s the best lunch for miles around: lobster with a side of fresh corn, and strawberry shortcake for dessert.
And speaking of protein, Helen circled Meat Cove, way up at the top of Cape Breton, said it’s a gorgeous place to camp. She mentioned that the Margaree Valley was lovely, Port Hood where one may camp right on the water.
A vineyard where my friends had a memorable meal during their trip was Le Caveau Interesting fact about this area is that there were Dutch Engineers up there, and they built some dikes, that the Dutch are famous for, to increase the amount of farmable landmass.Le Caveau is still there; maybe we will update the dining review after our visit.
If you noticed, dear reader, that I was writing this post as we, not I, you are paying attention! I am planning this year as mostly a solo traveler, but I will have some company for certain portions of the trip. I will tour Nova Scotia with my pals from Belgium. We may visit Birchdale, but I haven’t decided to become a hermit, nor taken a vow of silence. It will be really good to have some dear friends to travel with for a couple of weeks.
After this conversation, locations that had been just interesting names printed on the map, started to become three dimensional for me. Many thanks to Helen, Gerry, and Ann!