Every few years, my wife and I take the kids, load the car, and head to the rich culture of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. My wife has family there, so we make it a point to visit as often as we can. Most of our trip involves hauling a trunk full of luggage across four provinces on a twenty-hour trek. Our trip starts in Toronto and ends in Halifax, home to the tall ships, the International Buskers Festival and Peggy’s Cove. We went there in 2011 but because the weather had been so dark and gloomy, and rain had ruined much of our plans, we decided to try again in 2012 under sunnier circumstances.
Our usual route consists of passing through Ottawa, Montreal and on through The Maritimes. Last year we decided to allow the GPS to take us through Maine instead. That’s where the adventure began. As soon as we passed the Canadian/U.S. border, we wanted to hit Bangor before dusk. Since I’d already driven close to twelve hours, I thought it would have been great to grab a leisurely meal and dip in the pool at an inn. The GPS, however, had other ideas. I’d programmed it to take us to Halifax via the fastest route. Well, that fastest route had nothing to do with Bangor. In fact, it had nothing to do with civilization at all. We found ourselves in Moose Country, home to vast forests and rural lanes. And when the sun began to set, things looked creepier than The Blair Witch Project.
My wife peeked at the GPS, “We’re lost.”
“Oh, we’re fine. We only have an hour or two before we hit a hotel.”
“Jack, I don’t see anything on that thing that suggests we’re even near a hotel.”
“This must be a beautiful place when all the leaves change color in the autumn.”
“Did you hear me? We’re lost!”
“I did hear, but I’ve chosen to march onward and upward.”
She rolled her eyes, shook her head and said something under her breath that I didn’t quite catch.
My son then interrupts, “I have to pee.”
That first day, I drove right through Maine and into New Brunswick for a grand total of sixteen hours. We stayed at a Best Western that evening. The next day, the hotel served a massive continental breakfast for their guests. We took advantage of it, knowing we only had a few hours of driving left.
Once we arrived in Dartmouth, Halifax’s sister city across the bridge, we stayed at my in-laws for a few days. While we were there, they took us to Lawrencetown Beach where rocks covered the entire coast. I’ve never seen anything like it. Walking along the shoreline proved painful. Although smooth from years of water erosion, the rocks had a bite when stepped on with bare feet. We had fun, nonetheless. We played in the water and watched the tide roll in.
A few days later, we packed and headed to my sister-in-law’s place in Sheet Harbour. It’s an hour-and-a-half drive along the Eastern Shore. What a beautiful place to live. With streams and shoreline all around town, I took some time away from the family to indulge in some heavy scenic photography. I’m glad I did because the weather was phenomenal and since we had an open schedule, all of a sudden it became full with BBQ’s and family gatherings.
Now, before I go on, the biggest surprise of the trip was our visit to Taylor Head Beach near Sheet Harbour. We had to drive a bit before getting there, cutting through a patch of wilderness off the main highway on to a gravel road. After parking the cars, we walked a ways on planks covered by white sand. Yes, white sand. The kind of white sand one would expect from the Caribbean where I visited some years ago. Oh, when I feasted my eyes on the sand meeting the blue, crisp water, my jaw hung so low I’d almost swallowed the Eastern seaboard. To me, that beach became a highlight of 2012.
Several days later, we said goodbye to everyone and headed back to the Halifax area. There, we stayed for the remainder of the trip at my nephew’s house in the suburbs of Lower Sackville. I have to say, my nephew and his wife didn’t have to, but they opened their doors and gave us their home while they stayed at his in-laws for a week. So here we were, a home away from home, with a pool, big-screen TV, come and go as we pleased, all in the heart of one of the most beautiful places in the world—Nova Scotia.
The highlight of that week was our visit to Peggy’s Cove, a historic community located on the edge of Saint Margaret’s Bay. This time, the sun blessed us with its warmth and goodness. No rain. I went camera happy taking shots of everything, including rocks. Some may say the beauty of Peggy’s Cove lies in the familiar lighthouse standing erect as the symbol of this Maritime province. But I say, the beauty of the area is the serenity of the ocean, the salt air, and the feeling I get when I sit on those rocks overlooking the bay. I can only describe the feeling as—a blessing.
A day before heading back home to Ontario, we took our time and spent the entire day in the pool. I don’t think I’ve ever spent a whole day in water before. And I don’t think we’d ever gone to Nova Scotia where the sun had beaten down on us every day either. In 2012, however, we lucked out. We had sunny days, good food, awesome family time and plenty of stories to bring back home for years to come.
Nowadays, in the quietness of the night in my bed, I still think of those afternoons in the pool. I remember the sun splashing its rays over my body as I lay floating on the water. I think, “If only every day was like this.” Then I fall asleep.
Do you have a memorable vacation you’d like to share? What’s the most unforgettable experience you’ve had while on holiday?