Our Final Few Days in Nova Scotia

May 27, 2006

We are currently at the Kiwanis Oceanfront Campground in St Andrews, New Brunswick. I will have more about that later.

This morning I think I successfully uploaded a very long post to my blog. However, when I reentered the blog as a reader would, it was not there. So, I sent a link to the new posting to many of you who had shown an interest in reading it.

That last post was current only to our leaving New Breton Island enroute to Halifax. This post should catch us all up.

I have to admit that while in Halifax and beyond I neither kept my paper journal nor set aside any time to open a Word document on the computer in order to preserve our events real time. I was not using the paper journal due to a yet to be fully diagnosed casualty that resulted in the paper journal absorbing a lot of water. From time to time we have had a problem with the night table in the bedroom finding some water. I know that seems like an odd way to explain what has happened, but so has the phenomenon been odd. On two separate occasions I have gone to get something off the table only to find water standing on it. We have nearly taken the place apart trying to find the source and to date we have not concretely figured out what exactly is going on. My latest theory is that the back wall above the table is collecting condensation that then runs down onto the table top. By the time we discover it, the wall is essentially dry but not the horizontal surface. To add to my theory, we have been using an electric blanket most nights instead of the installed propane fired forced air heating system in the motorhome. Therefore, the air temperature is relatively high, the humidity is probably pretty high as well and the wall temperature is much cooler. With no air circulation due to the furnace not coming on, the conditions can be very good for condensation to form. At any rate, my journal was not only on the table top, but it was against the wall to boot. So, it got quite wet. It has been drying nicely and we now have it sandwiched between lots of other books trying to get its original thickness back. I have no similar story for why I failed to keep up with our activities on the computer. Anyway, the highlights follow.

As written in my last post, we arrived in the Halifax area on May 22. We had wanted to spend a little time seeing the city. Fortunately, we decided to take the coast road from where we camped at Glen Margaret south around the horn and then northeast into Halifax. In so doing we were able to see the memorial that had been constructed to remember those who perished on Swissair Flight 111 in September of 1998. The simple yet meaningful memorial reminded us of a friend we had lost in that accident. We then came upon Peggy’s Cove which has been the highlight of small fishing villages on this trip. The cove at Peggy’s Cove is that cove that every author writes about when describing either a small fishing village in an 1800’s novel or a sinister place where you know something bad will happen in a thriller. The cove itself is powerful in its diminutive size. The activity in the cove was probably as it was a hundred years ago with local fisherman going about their business with a minimum of effort being put into the infrastructure to keep it above the waterline. It was a romantic location while at the same time a rather bustling tourist attraction. We wandered the streets and the beach area surrounding the old lighthouse which now does double duty as both lighthouse and post office. The shoreline in this area is similar to the rugged shoreline of Down East Maine with huge granite boulders that have been polished smooth by centuries of exposure to the elements. Although we were intending to see the modern city of Halifax as the highlight of this stop, the tranquility of Peggy’s Cove emerged as the true highlight.

We did eventually get to Halifax and to the waterfront. I had been to Halifax some twenty years ago while aboard the USS Hunley. I had hoped to recognize some of the city and maybe even find the replica of the bar known to many Americans as Cheers from the TV program of the same name. I had spent some good beer drinking time sitting in Norm’s seat during the ship’s brief stopover. We not only did not find Cheers, but we also could not with certainty figure out where the ship may have moored. It was likely berthed inside the Naval Station, but I found absolutely nothing that looked familiar. However, we did enjoy walking the streets and taking in the activity of the city before going to a nearby shopping area for lunch and our first in store Starbucks fix since leaving the Portland area nearly three weeks ago.

On the 24th of May we were on the road to Digby, Nova Scotia. Digby is the sea scallop capital of the world. I did not know that, but that fact worked in my favor later. We camped at a place called, believe it or not, Digby Campground. Ours was one RV of three in a place that must have nearly 100 sights. The owners were telling me that the high fuel prices and poor weather forecasting thus far this spring were having a negative affect on business. The campground faced the bay, so we had a nice view from our motorhome. The park was also within walking distance of the old downtown area of Digby. So, once we were settled in with all shore services attached, we walked into town to see what it was all about. As I have discussed previously, we have been truly impressed by the tides we have seen in the Bay of Fundy. Well, the waterfront of Digby is another of those wonderful places to go to get a real feel for just how big the tides really are. We found ourselves a perch in a bar high above the water, or the mud as the tide was out, and we just watched for a good hour or so as the tide completed its outward motion leaving only a very small area of the harbor passable by small pleasure and fishing boats. I counted 24 rungs on a ladder leading from water level to the base of the wharf. I am not sure what the distance between rungs on a normal vertical ladder is, but I would be surprised if it were less than a foot. Anyway, after a few beers, I decided I did not want to cook nor did I want to do dishes. So, I took advantage of my new found knowledge that Digby is the sea scallop capital of the world and my existing knowledge that Connie loves scallops and I told her that I would just not be right to be in Digby and not eat scallops. So, we moved to the restaurant and Connie had scallops while I ate mussels. It was a nice dinner and we did not have to do dishes or cleanup. We only had to navigate back to the motorhome and open another beer.

The next day we got up early and drove down Digby Neck to a ferry landing and caught the ferry to Long Island, Nova Scotia. We then drove the distance of Long Island and caught another ferry to Brier Island, Nova Scotia. Brier Island represents the southern most reach of Nova Scotia. We had been to the northern most point while on Cape Breton Island. So, our near two weeks in Nova Scotia afforded us the opportunity to see most of the province. One of our motivations for going to Brier Island was that it, Long Island and Digby Neck forms what is supposed to be one of the birding hot spots in Nova Scotia. Of course as I have also mentioned before, in order to see a lot of birds you have to get up early and be in the area where you would expect to see them in the very early hours of daylight. Even though we were up early, by the time we made the drive and two ferry rides it was once again pretty late in the morning to be seeing many birds. However, we did run into a flock of Black Capped Chickadees that I believe I can say eclipsed all the Chickadees I have seen in my life up until then. I have seen huge flocks of a lot of different birds, but never have I seen such flocks of Chickadees. We watched and estimated the flock size to be in the low hundreds, but who knows for sure. There were birds everywhere and they did not stand still long enough to get a good look. At times teens of them would be airborne, but a quick look at the trees they had just left revealed at least as many had stayed perched. It was amazing. We also saw Yellow Warblers and an American Redstart to sort of round out or birding sightings. We ran into a couple who have a cabin on the island. They had spent the early morning watching the birds we had come to see. They, like us, were somewhat disappointed in the low numbers of migrants that have made it this far north by this time of the year.

I got one last opportunity to watch the tides while on Brier Island. The tide was outbound and Connie and I were parked on a point where the water passed through a narrow channel between two islands. The distance between the two Islands was probably no more than a few hundred yards. The water passing through that gap had to be moving 8 miles per hour. Ignoring the fact that a bay was emptying through that gap I was able to see the Snake River in the spring flowing past the location where as a teenager I put into the river everyday of the summer as a float trip guide. It was an impressive flow. I walked out onto the rocks and found a place where there was essentially no backwash from what little wave action there was. I could actually watch the water level lowering from what would eventually become a tidal pool. It was very impressive.

We had lunch on Brier Island and then worked our way back across on the ferry and the drive up Long Island and Digby Neck back to Digby. Before returning to camp we drove to the ferry terminal where we would leave from to go to St. John on the 26th. We wanted to have a feel for what to expect. It was an early evening that night so we could be underway prior to 7 AM.

The trip across the Bay of Fundy by ferry was uneventful. The weather was not great, so rather than spend a lot of time on deck looking at the fog, we dedicated some time to updating our bird list. Now our on computer list is up to date for the trip. We had upgraded our bird diary software some months ago and had not yet used it. I was pleasantly surprised by the improvements. I am confident that a rainy a day or two will allow me the opportunity to catch up the missing years of entries that need to be entered.

Following our arrival in St John, we made the relatively short drive to St. Andrews. We specifically picked this place for this weekend to avoid the fervor we expected in any stateside campground this Memorial Day Weekend. We were therefore not surprised to see a lot of other Americans here at the same campground. Our immediate neighbor is from Florida. He retired from law enforcement at the age of 54 and that was ten years ago. Our neighbor across the road is from Maine. He retired from civil service at the age of 55 and that was 20 years ago. I retired from the Navy 26 days ago at the age of 55. What a grouping of young retirees. By the way, both these guys seem to be pretty sane.

I am not sure what the draw to this protuberance is other than the fact that there is water on three sides and the place is absolutely gorgeous. There seems to be very little in the way of fishing that goes on out of here. There is a big tourist trade. There must be half a dozen whale watching and research operators in the area. There are some pretty big resorts and golf courses around. Mostly, though there seems to be a lot of money. The big house to shack ratio is about 100:1. There are some nice looking restaurants and at the same time some local hang outs that don’t seem to be looking to take all your money. It may be the proximity to the United States that has made the area so popular. I don’t know, but it is another of those places well worth the time and expense to visit.

This weekend is being dedicated to resting and not driving while enjoying the peacefulness of the area. It is in that spirit that I sit outside the motorhome with laptop in lap and a glass of a great Canadian wine at my side. And with that as my final thought of the evening, I will post this and sign off.

I hope you have enjoyed the read.



1 thought on “Our Final Few Days in Nova Scotia”

  1. Frank,

    You and Connie sound like you are having a great trip. Great descriptions of your sights and RV travels.

    Bill Teetz

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