Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia- Sept. 2005

Sun. Sept. 4th,2005- Williamsville, N.Y.
      We arose early, finished packing and prepped for the day. It was sunny and warm outside. We loaded the car, bought some coffee and a paper, at the 7/11, and then set off across Maple, RTe. #263 South, Rte.#290 West and Rte.#190 North to the Queenston Bridge, in Lewiston.
       The bridge was down to one lane each way, due to construction, but there was no back up. We paid our $3.75 toll(CDN), passed through customs and followed the Queen Elizabeth Expressway North, to Prudehomme Bay, on the Westernmost edge of Lake Ontario. We had breakfast at the ÒOld Fashioned.Ó It was pretty bland.($20) We followed the ÒQueen EÓ  to Hamilton and exited onto Centennial Parkway, following it up to the airport on a high plateau o
verlooking Hamilton. The airport is small, with a single terminal and parking area. We checked our bags into the Westjet terminal and then walked around the small concourse. Miniature urchins ran amok while we waited for our plane. One could but hope that a childrenÕs plague would soon engulf us.

    Security was perfunctory. We soon boarded Westjet flight #1736 for the two hour flight to Halifax, Nova Scotia. We flew along the North Shore of Lake Ontario, and then across New England, before we saw the deep blue waters of the Bay of Fundy and began our approach to Halifax airport. The terrain beneath us was flat, emerald green  and speckled with small blue lakes. We set our watches forward to compensate for the one- hour, local time difference.

     The Halifax terminal is relatively small as well. We retrieved our bags, without problem, and then found the Alamo counter, where we rented a dark green, mid-sized and 
anonymous vehicle for $243(CDN) for the week. From the airport, we followed Rte. #102 South, to Rte.#118, to Route #111 and across the scenic McKenzie Bridge onto Water Street in downtown Halifax. We could see the twin span, of the McKay Bridge across to Dartmouth, just down the river. Barrington St. led us to a left turn onto Morris St. and the Halliburton House. The Inn is a series of three 19th Century, historic brownstones that had been renovated into a small picturesque Inn. We checked in and then moved our car around the block, t
4urning into a small parking area behind BearlyÕs Tavern. Room # 201, on the ground floor of the second building, is large and comfortable, with a sitting area. We unpacked our clothes and settled in, happy to be here. It was sunny, warm and in the high 70Õs out.($189 night with breakfast)

       It was late afternoon, as we set out up along Morris street. We could see the historic Waverly Inn on Barrington St.. This area was once genteel, with fashionable houses owned by prosperous sea merchants. Some of the finer homes had been saved, others were being renovated. The rest were in decline. Students, bums and transients abounded as we walked up Morris and over Queen Streets, to the central shopping district on Spring Garden. The Boulevard was awash with people. The several-block long street has restaurants, b
}istros and notions shops. A Tim HortonÕs and McDonaldÕs rounded out the selection. We found the restaurant that we were looking for,  Òil Mercato,Ó but it was closed for the holiday. We would see tomorrow that the beautiful Halifax Public Gardens and the pricey Hotel Lord Nelson sat nearby, at the top end of this street.

    We walked back down Spring Garden, to Barrington, passing the old cemetery and continued on to Morris and the HH. We got our car and ventured forth. Morris runs down to the Bay and Lower Water Street. We noticed the Alexander Keith Brewery, the Marine Museum and several nice restaurants, like OÕCarrollÕs and Sweet BasilÕs, along Lower Water St.. And then, we came to the Casino hotel and the Nova Scotia Casino. They are both multi-storied and very new, with attractive walkways on the ocean side. We were tiring with the day and returned to our secure parking ar
ea behind the hotel. We had noticed two Italian restaurants on South Street, two blocks over, and decided to try one for dinner. We walked over to South. ÒChiantiÕsÓ had a long wait, so we settled on the charming ÒTomasinoÕsÓ next door. It is small, dark and intimate.

    A half carafe of Valpolicelli, some wonderful panini bread and olive oil, set the stage for a delicious plate of frutti di mare. It was excellent. We were glad we had chosen the place. ($83 CDN) After dinner, we walked across Water street and into the huge Westin Hotel. It is spacious and looks very nice, but they are charging an arm and a leg to stay there. We walked back, along Lower Water to Morris, and then to the Halliburton House, to settle in and read. ( 4th estate- Jeffrey Hunter) We were tired 
Wfrom traveling  and soon were enveloped in the arms of Morpheus. The street noises, and late night revelers, can be problematic in the warmer months here.

Monday, Sept. 11,2005- Halifax, Nova Scotia- Canada

     We were up early, at 5:00 A.M., reading our books and having coffee in the room. We showered and prepped for the day, then had breakfast at the Inn. Bagels, fruit, cereal, juice and coffee are available.

       It was cool and in the mid fifties out. We drove up Sackville Street, to the Citadel on the hill, over looking Halifax. It is of the Ò8 pointed star Ò variety that we had visited in Quebec city. The outer walls are earthen. The huge gun emplacements looked like they meant business. The fortification had been constructed in the mid 1800Õs to protect Haligonians from the Òcantankerous AmericansÓ to the South. It had never been 
attacked. The kilted, scots guardsmen were just emerging from their barracks, for the dayÕs tour, as we walked along the ramparts and enjoyed the view far out over HalifaxÕs harbor. The museum opens formally at 9 A.M. and tours are available for $6 each. A road runs around the perimeter of the citadel and afford beautiful vistas of Halifax harbor.

     From the Citadel, we drove to the nearby Public Gardens, at the head of Spring Garden St. Even at this early hour, lots of people were scurrying about.  The entrance to the Gardens is through two massive, black, wrought-iron gates. It is an imposing portal. Within lie 17 acres of floral beds, a colorful bandstand and quiet reflective areas, decorated with all manner of attractive plants and flowers. We walked through the gardens, enjoying the serenity. Guided walking tours were already leading their aging listeners around the paths. We walked out onto
 Spring Garden and rescued some good coffee from Tim Horton's. We sat for a time, at the front of the gardens, and watched the various streams of people walk by. Large groups of students were chanting something or other as they walked by in funny costumes. Halifax is a college town and this was the first few days on Freshmen initiation. We were to see their antics for the next few days. Was life ever so innocent?

      We returned to the car and then drove, down Sackville street, to Lower Water. We parked in a paid lot, behind the Maritime Museum. ($2.25 hr). Parking in the area is scarce.The Museum  sits astride the HalifaxÕs Ocean walk. It is a two-mile stretch, of wooden board walk, that runs from the Casino to the cruise ships docks, just past Morris St. It is lined with shops, sailing ships at berth, restaurants, markets and all manner of things that attract tourists. We decided to look
 into the Maritime Museum. ($8 ea.) Two floors of exhibits are loaded with model ships and all things nautical. It houses small exhibit on the Titanic and a much larger one on the Halifax Harbor Explosion. It was a holiday and the working exhibits were closed. Dory building, sail making and other nautical arts are demonstrated daily. They would be interesting to watch.

     We walked along the Ocean-walk, past the colorful ÒMurphyÕs PierÓ and restaurant, through the harbor market complex, with small food kiosks and attractive table area on the ocean. Then, we came upon the attractive Casino hotel and finally the Casino itself. The Ocean walk took us behind them. We could see several Canadian Coast Guard cutters and a submarine in dry dock, just beyond the walk. The whole stretch of walkway if a feast for the eyes, with all things nautical.

     We walked into the airy Casino. It is 
compact and holds the usual assortment of gambling tables and video machines. We sat down, at video poker terminals, and fed in a few five dollar bills. We played for a time before the machines decided they had had enough of us. We only lost $15 and considered ourselves winners. We walked back along the ocean walk, enjoying the bright warm sun and the deep blue beauty of the ocean beside us. The crowds were building.

      It was nearly noon, as we stopped into the Harbor Market complex. The choices of food here are many, but we settled in on very large bowls of seafood chowder. ($22) We sat on the ocean-side patio, enjoying the wonderful chowder and watching the nautical traffic pass by. This place is the best bargain on the waterfront.

     We had 12:30 P.M. reservation
s on the ÒHarbor HopperÓ tours. ($52) The craft are amphibious ducks from the Viet Nam war era. We had seen them all over Boston last Summer and decided to try them out. We climbed up the ladder and were seated  under a canopy. The aft deck had held the machine gun mount. It now held benches. A diminutive and fast-talking college student was our guide and narrator. The noisy and ungainly craft took us up the hill, around the Citadel and past the Public Gardens , feeding us a steady stream of information, laced with tongue in cheek humor. Then, we drove down Morris St. to the water and slid into the sea. We had to shift our seating, to trim the boatÕs balance, before setting off on our harbor tour. Halifax is beautiful when viewed from the water.

      Our guide peppered us, with a stea
dy stream of trivia, about all manner of sights and ships along the waterfront. Halifax  is one of the few ice-free ports in the Northern Hemisphere.  The city had been founded in 1749 by Edward Cornwallis. It is hilly and looks much like the Seattle waterfront. The biggest story that our guide related, was of the December 6th,1917 explosion, of a French munitions ship, in Halifax Harbor. 1600 citizens had been killed in the blast. It had leveled most of the harbor area and city. The tragedy was recent enough to still preoccupy Haligonians. The corvette Sackville, lay at anchor. She is the last of the swift, Canadian Navy  convoy escorts from W.W.II II

     After the Hopper Tour, we walked along the ocean walk to the Cruise ship dock. A Princess ship was in port and was spilling a fe
w thousand of its passengers onto the crowded walkways. It was time to head out. We retrieved our car and drove back to the HH. It was still sunny and gorgeous out, so we decided to walk down to the Alexander Keith Brewery on Lower Water Street. The place is a functioning brewery that gives tours to the interested. Several large groups of high school and college students milled around waiting for tours. We walked into the dark and cool tap room, sitting atop wooden barrels at the bar. I had a pint of dark Heinekens. Mary enjoyed a half-pint of KeithÕs pale ale. Both were very good. We relaxed in the cool of the tavern for a bit, before walking back to the HH. We chilled out for a bit and even caught a brief afternoon nap, like  Ozzie Nelson, my hero.

      Later, we show
ered and prepped for dinner, before setting out at 7:30 P.M. We drove back to the parking lot, near the Maritime Museum ($5) and then walked over to one of the areaÕs more famous waterfront restaurants, ÒSaltyÕs.Ó  The first floor is for casual dining. The 2nd story is more formal. Both were crowded. We were seated topside. The view, out over the ocean as the sun set, was wonderful. We enjoyed glasses of Cabernet as we munched on Caesar salads and a delightful Òseafood medleyÓ of halibut, salmon, scallops and shrimp.Ó Coffee and a sinful blueberry and ice cream dessert were wonderful ($134).

     The evening was cooling off as we walked across Water street, to ÒOÕCarrollÕs,Ó for a nightcap. The place is a well-regarded seafood restaurant that has Irish Music p
laying in the bar. We enjoyed a glass of Merlot, listening to the rhythmic lilt, of a guitar and fiddle player, performing. 

     It was nearing 10 P.M. and we were tiring with the day. We walked back to our car and drove back to the HH. We watched the local news for a time. The Canadian Government had ordered three of its Coast Guard Vessels, with divers and supplies, to the Gulf of Mexico to help out the Hurricane Katrina Victims. It is a nice gesture form AmericaÕs best ally. We read for a time and then surrendered to the sandman, pleased with a full day in Halifax.

Tuesday, Sept. 6th, 2005- Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

     We arose at 7:15 A.M. and prepped for the day. After breakfast, in the main HH Inn, we set out through the city and picked up Rte. 103
 South. Traffic was heavy as the city returned to work. We drove 62 miles South to Lunenberg. It is a picturesque seacoast town, founded by German immigrants in 1759.

      We parked on the main street and walked down to the waterfront. It is a wonderful collage of pastels, of the sea front Inns and restaurants all looking out to sea. The RumrunnerÕs Inn, The Admiral Benbow Inn and others vied for the many tourists who come here. Just across the road, sits the ÒOld Fish Company and Nautical Museum.Ó It had formerly been a fish processing plant. Now it is a nautical museum of sorts. We walked along the waterfront admiring several of the craft at anchor. The ÒBlue Nose IIÓ is a majestic two-master, made all of wood. She is 161Õ long and has enough sail t
o maintain 16 knots in a steady wind. She sails from Lunenberg to Halifax on a regular schedule. I would love to see her under full canvass, sailing the coast in a heavy wind. Just up the ways, sits the ÔTheresa E. Connors.Ó She is an old wooden fishing vessel, in the 100Õ long class. She was a late 19th century  fishing fleet vessel and could hold up to 300,000 lbs of cod in her holds. Those were the days of wooden ships and iron men.

      We elected to take a 45 minute harbor tour on a small cutter, the Harbor Star. ($10 ea.) There were only 5 passengers on the small cutter. The skipper pointed out the colorful lobster boats. Each was allowed 250 traps and could fish only from November first to May first. They had colorful names like ÒHurricaneÓ and ÒYasmin.Ó Each was painted in bright pastels. Next, we saw the huge Òside trawlers.Ó They carried conical screens, over their sides, to scoop huge amounts of fish 
from the sea. Last, we saw even larger Òscallop draggers.Ó These behemoths dragged the seabed for scallops. Names like ÒCachalot IÓ, ÒFreedom 99,Ó ÒChockle gapÓ and ÒA.F. PierceÓ reflected the individuality of the owners. They are black metal hulled, with huge metal net booms. They looked efficient at their tasks. The skipper said that overfishing had killed the industry. The two fish processing plants had closed and much of the remainder of the fleet was headed for the scrap yard. A large dry dock facility was now in use for refurbishing smaller pleasure yachts.

       It was sunny and in the 80Õs out. We finished the harbor tour and then walked through the upper street of the small town. Tee shirt shops and art galleries competed with the ÒSpinnaker InnÓ and many other small restaurants for tourist dollars. We stopped for coffee and sat in the sun,on a small seaside patio, admiring the harbor area and the sparkling turquoise sea. It is picture 
post card pretty. 

      We returned to our car and drove amidst the local streets and houses in the upper town. They are architecturally interesting and of the ÒNew England clap board Ò variety. The local church is white, with brown trim and multi -spired. It looks faintly Huguenot in origin.Ó We followed Rte. #3 East along the coast, to the next town up the line, Mahone Bay. It is a small bend in the road, with tee shirt shops, art galleries and gorgeous scenery. We found a great pewter shop and purchased some gifts. Artisans fashioned the jewelry on site. 

       Next, we followed Rte. # 3 East to Chester. It is a small community of art shops, gift stores and a few restaurants. It is very upscale. Following FrommerÕs advice, we walked to ÒJulianÕs BakeryÓ on Queen St. There, we bought lobster sandwiches and bottles of water to go. ($32) We then sat on a small bench by the ocean and munched on these delectable sandwiches, while enjoying the sky and sea and air. It wa
s quiet and peaceful. One anomaly was a curious old codger, wearing a foot ball helmet and riding a ÒdartÓ that was equipped with mirrors, a horn and a windscreen. He was mumbling something to himself as he passed us. Every town has a story.

     We continued on along scenic Rte.#3. It hugs the coast line along St., MargaretÕs Bay. It is an area of beaches alternating with rocky and wave splashed shores. It features winding seacoast roads that are fun to drive and a visual feast on a sunny day. Then, we side tracked onto Rte # 333, into one of the more storied sights on the coast, PeggyÕs Cove. With all of the guide book hype that we had read, we figured this area for a real disappointment. We were pleasant surprised. A narrow road leads into a rocky point, with a large and picturesque, angular,white light house, with a bright red top, standing upon a rather large pile of huge boulders. We stopped by the gift shop for notions and coffee and then wandered
 about the rock pile. The waves were crashing upon the rocky point with huge explosions of spray. The bright green of dampened algae, newly exposed by the lowering tide, sparkled in the sunlight. The wind was ruffling our hair and the sun shining warmly above. It was a sensory pleasure just to stand upon the rocky point and look out to sea. A Winslow Homer could paint here forever. The changing times of the day, the different shades of light and shadow would keep him busy forever. It is more than pretty. It is raw and feral and has an elemental appeal to any one who is enamored of the sea. We much enjoyed our visit here.

       The shadows of the day were lengthening. At 4:30 P.M., we set out North along the coast for Halifax. We ran into the rush hour traffic.
 It seemed like a tidal wave of metal was washing out from the city. We made our way, against the tide, and returned to the Halliburton House by 5 P.M. We settled in to write up our notes and chill out from the day. A shower revitalized us and we set out by 7:30 for dinner. We had been in the car all day and elected to try ÒChiantiÕsÓ around the corner. We walked over first to Cornwallis Park and sat for a time enjoying the evening air. On South Street, we checked in with the matr Ôd at ChiantiÕs . We were early, so he asked us to take a walk and come back later. We walked next door to ÒTomasinoÕsÓ and had a reprise of that wonderful dinner from two nights before.This time, a dust-dry, Chilean cabernet preceded the ÒFrutti Di mare.Ó It was as delicious as it ha
d been the other night.

      The evening was warm and pleasant, so we walked down to the water and along the Ocean walk. The restaurants were crowded, even on a Tues. night. We enjoyed the evening air and the sea breeze,appreciating our time here together. Then, we walked back to the HH, to read and relax. The sandman soon enveloped us in his sleepy embrace.

Wed. Sept. 7th, 2005 Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

       We arose early, prepped for the day, then packed our gear and loaded up the car. We had a 7 A.M. breakfast at the Inn and then checked out. The traffic, along lower Water Street, was just beginning the dayÕs rush. We crossed the McKay Bridge and picked up Rte # 102 North to Rte. # 104 East. We were headed across the Province for Cape Breton Island. Trur
o is an hour North of Halifax and is the major city in this part of NS. The highway becomes 4 lanes here. The maximum speed 110 kph. The sun was rising and the ocean fog had burned off. The land around us was hilly and heavily treed with conifers. It looked and felt like Maine. We sailed through Eastern NS and arrived at the small town of Antigonish, some two hours later. The fuel for the car cost $65. Ouch!!!

      From Antigonish, the road narrows to two lanes and is heavily populated. 45 minutes later, we came to the Canso Causeway. It is a two- lane road that sits atop a stone causeway, separating St. GeorgeÕs Bay and Chadbucteau Bay. At the Cape Breton end of the causeway, a narrow, dredged channel allowes ships of all sizes access to both coasts. The metal bridge over the channel is one of those swivel bridges that are engineering marvels. We sat for a time, as the bridge swiveled to allow a ship through, a
nd then we sped across onto Cape Breton Island.

      We followed the two lane Rte.#105 along the scenic Bras dÕoro region. It is a huge salt-water lake,on Cape Breton Island, that is popular with fishermen and boaters. The sun was sparkling off the sea and it was sunny and in the 70Õs out. At exit #11 we had the option of taking a small car ferry across the Bay. We decided that any number of delays were possible on a ferry and took the longer land route around the Bay. It is two lanes, with wild twists and turns, in a Monte Carlo -style, 30 km run through the pine forests. Then, we were driving along the coast  and the views were spectacular, like the big Sur area in California. The road rose gradually as we neared  the approach to Cape Smokey. A  series of ascending, switch-back roads made for a nerve tingling ascent  of 800 feet, in a short space of road,  to the top lookout area of Cape Smokey. The far Atlantic shimmered beneath us in a shear drop. It was spectacular.

     Just beyond the Cap
e, we entered Cape Breton National Park. ($6 each per day)The trail around the periphery of the whole park is called the ÒCabot TrailÓ. It can take from 5-6 hours to circumnavigate the entire ring road. Finally, we turned into one of the more famous resorts on the Atlantic seashore, The Keltic Lodge. The entire resorts sits on an elevated neck of land, high above the ocean. An 18 hole golf course, a condo complex and The Atlantic Restaurant lead into the two-story wooden splendor of the Main lodge. We were early for check in, so we stopped first at the Atlantic restaurant. We enjoyed some wonderful Ingonish seafood chowder and crab cakes for lunch, on the patio over looking the Bay. It was sunny, warm and pleasant. The views are spectacular. You soon run out of superlatives.

       We checked into the Main lodge at 2:30 P.M..It features a spacious lobby, a huge sitting room and a very large dining room on the first floor of the lodge. For $300 (Cdn) you receive a three course dinne
r, full breakfast and room. You also have playing privileges at the GC. There are also a series of guest cabins nearby for larger groups. We checked our bags into our second floor room. It was small, but clean and has a great view of the ocean.

       It was sunny and warm out. We were tired from the six-hour drive, but reluctant to spend any time indoors. We walked over to the golf course and watched the duffers at play for a bit. Maybe the next time, we will bring the sticks. The course looks like it would be fun to play. We retrieved our books and sat out on the lawn, in wooden Adirondack chairs, reading and gazing far out to sea. A small and attractive heated pool lies just behind the lodge. We hadnÕt thought to bring our suits at this time of year, but wished that we had. 
It looked inviting. Later, we sat on the porch, overlooking the ocean, and sipped a glass of cabernet in the late afternoon. Does it get any better than this?

       We reluctantly repaired to our room, showered and prepped for dinner. We had 8:00 P.M. reservations in the elegant ÒPurple Thistle RoomÓ on the first floor of the complex. We stopped first in the sitting room and listened to a lone folk singer play mournful ballads. I was feeling more Irish by the minute.

       At 8:00 P.M. we were seated in the dining room, by a window over looking the sea. A Wolf Blas Cabernet led us into two dozen mussels and some Ingonish Chowder, then some wonderful halibut covered in poppyseeds. The seafood was caught within miles of the Inn. A sinful vanilla cream and b
lueberry dessert, with some great coffee, finished off this elegant repast.  We walked the ground for a bit, but were chased inside by the mosquitos. They were as large as small birds. We retreated to our room, to read, and chill out. It had been another long and interesting day in Nova Scotia.

Thursday, Sept.8, 2005- Keltic Lodge, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada

            We were up early, at first light. It was clear and cool out. You could see the first glimmer of sunlight falling upon the bay below. We prepped for the day, packed our bags and had coffee in the room, while watching the morning news shows. At 8:30 A.M., we were seated in the Purple Thistle Room for breakfast. A very large buffet awaited us. Most of the food was bland. Next time,
 we would order off of the menu. We checked out and then  walked one last time around the grounds of the Keltic Lodge, admiring the sea views all around us. Who knew when or if we would this way come again. It really is a small world. An elderly couple, parked next to us in the lot, were from Boston, N.Y. We chatted for a bit before leaving.

           At 9:00 A.M., we set out through Cape Breton Provincial Park. We were headed South-bound, on the West side of the Cabot Trail. It starts out high in the headland of Cape Smokey, and meanders downward over hill and dale, through scenery that makes your eyes glad. We could see steep red bluffs across the bays, then far sea-scapes sparkling in the morning sun. It was as pleasing a ride as Big Sur in California, a new and grander vista around every bend. We stopped at picturesque ÒNeilÕs HarborÓ and took some pictures of the lighthouse and the seascapes all around us. We were headed Southbound on Rte.
 #19 to Chetticamp, the first settlement outside the Provincial Park. The sea-views, from Pleasant Valley to Chetticamp, are  beautiful and much worthy of the ride down the trail. Some times we would be headed up some steep ascent, with stunning views of a treed vale behind us. At other times, we would be careening around a very steep bend and come upon the blue flash of the ocean in one of those ÒwowÓ moments you get when touring, when you come upon fabulous scenery.

         Chetticamp may have been picturesque once. Now, it is a small horror of billboards and commercial clutter. We did rescue some decent coffee from a Tim HortonÕs, before setting onwards towards the Canso Causeway. This area, past Chetticamp, is known as the Margaree Valley. It features gentle rolling hills, dotted with conical silos and prosperous farms, along the ocean. It looks like the Breton Coast in France. The settlers and ancestry of the area
 is indeed French. It is reflected in the road names and other geographical points, like Cape LeMoine. It is eye-restful after the clutter of Chetticamp.

       The gentle seacoast road was pleasant on a sunny day like this. We continued on to Dunvegan and stopped at the ÒGlenora Distillery.Ó It is reputedly the only single-malt, scotch distillery in North America. We entered the attractive gift shop and restaurant. Tours were on the hour. We didnÕt want to wait 45 minutes. I will settle for drinking a dose when next I come upon it. It had taken us four hours, from the Keltic Lodge, to get here.

        The next Town, up the line, is Mabou. Many of its settlers are Scottish in Origin. Gaelic is still taught in the primary schools. We were staying here at the much 
regarded ÒDuncreigan Inn.Ó We stopped, at the lone gas station in Mabou, and forked over another $50 for gas. May the Lord curse all of those arabian oil bandits. The we decided to explore the area. We found out that there is a West Mabou (no kidding) and a North West Mabou. Rather grandiose titles for a bend in the road, on Cape Breton Island.

       We followed a road down to Mabou harbor. It is a rough landing with real fishing boats sitting at anchor. The end of that road also took us to a wild and wooly cape, with a few upscale vacation homes perched on a steep and grassy hillside that looked out onto the ocean. The wind-swept sea grass and rural character of the area has the appeal of a Wyeth painting. We let our eyes sweep the vistas until they were sated. We then drove over to the quaint and rural metropolis of Port Hood. It too has a small harbor area, many upscale vacation homes and other attracti
ons. Mary dropped off some post cards in the Canada Post building and then we stopped for sandwiches and tasty fries at PinnochioÕs. The cafe is small and cute. The food there is very good.

      It was after 3:00 P.M. and the day was lengthening, so we drove back to Mabou proper and the Duncreigan Inn. Two well-constructed, two-story and wooden-shingled buildings sit in a leafy defile, just off the highway and looking out onto the small watery neck of Mabou Inlet. We met the proprietor (Chas. & Eleanor Milindor) and he showed us to our room, #7 in the annex building. The room has two double beds and was clean, comfortable and in good repair. It did look out on the inlet, but a good chain saw would have helped the view. The Milindors also had a Winter home in Guatemala. The place was doing okay and was rated four stars by the guide books. Charles told us that there was indeed even a Mabou Be
2ach!! The place is boundless in its attractions.

     On his advice, we set off along the highway and followed signs that indeed said ÒWest Mabou Beach.Ó The road to the beach is  sort of primitive, but we managed to find the ocean-side parking lot. Several prominent hiking trails also lace the area along Mabou Beach. We parked and walked down onto a surprisingly beautiful and pristine beach. We encountered only four other people, on the mile long beach, as we walked its length and back, enjoying the wind, the waves and the sun. The 

beach area ends just across from the break wall of Mabou harbor, where we had driven earlier. We collected some seashells and attractive rocks, enjoying this slower walk on the beach, in the late afternoon sun of a golden day, on Cape Breton Island. We were glad we had come 
here. We drove back to the Duncreigan Inn and settled in, with a glass of Mondavi Cabernet, to write up our notes, chill out and recover from the days journey. A shower and a brief  conversation with Ozzie Nelson (nap)  revived us.

       We were dining at the Inn this evening, so all we had to do was walk next door to the main building. A small sitting room, with six tables upon a patio over looking the inlet, sufficed for the dining area. Two other couples were seated already. We sat in the informal setting and enjoyed a glass of cabernet while we waited for dinner. A tasty spinach salad, then a salmon filet, in dill sauce, was followed by a blueberry glace and great coffee. They would be rolling us home in barrelÕs. How they ever got this talented a chef, in a small hamlet like this, is a mystery, but this woman could cook!! ($112 CDn) After dinner, we chatted with one of the woman from
} the next table. She is from the nearby hamlet of Inverness. The couple with them were from Vancouver. We spoke of the Òroad not takenÓ and exploring while traveling.

       The evening was beautiful, just to stand out and enjoy the air. But, we were tired from the day and anxious to seek out Morpheus and his drowsy repose. It had been another interesting day in an absolutely beautiful section of Atlantic Canada. We were glad that we had chosen to explore to day and see the area beyond the borders of the highway.

Friday, Sept. 9, 2005- Mabou, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada

       We were up early, at 7 A.M. It was cloudy and cool out, with the promise of rain. We prepped for the day and packed our gear for an after breakfast departure. By 8:30 A.M., we were sitting in the comfortable inner dining room and enjoying eggs, pancakes and muffins, with good coffee. They know
 how to tie on the feed bag at this place. 

        Rte. # 19 South took us for the enjoyable 90 minute ride to The Canso causeway and  off of Cape Breton island. The traffic was light and the ride easy. We waved goodbye to a slice of beautiful earth that we might never see again and will always want to return to.


	 We picked up busy Rte. # 104 East, just past Antigonish, and sailed Eastward along this two-lane super highway. The deep green, of the rolling hills and conifer forests, were now familiar to us. There is lots of room left on this island for folks to move around in. Two and one half hours later, we entered the Truro area, just an hour from Halifax.
We got off at exit #15, into a time and era long past. We followed rural route #102 South and then, at exit #14, w
e followed Rte #236 towards Maitland and Windsor. The clock came to an abrupt halt in these parts. The road speed is also a crawl at 60 KPH. Gentle rolling farm land sprouted clumps of sparse population, amidst the greenery and furrowed fields of farm country. It is pleasing to the eye. The road is narrow and two-laned here, but there wasnÕt much traffic to speak of. We ambled along, at a much slower pace, enjoying the palliative of the gentle surroundings. The odd tractor or adventurous camper shared the road with us along the way. We came upon a whole squadron of cyclists tooling along the back roads, in all of their colorful new-era biking gear.

       The Maitland River basin gave us our first glimpse of the tidal phenomenon that is the Bay of Fundy. The tides were out and the po
rtion of the riverbed, that we could see, was  completely empty. The vee shape, of the river bottom, is a deep red river silt, with furrows and striations. It was odd, but weirdly beautiful to see the river emptied this way. The high water mark, on the bridge pilings, showed us how much the river had fallen. We could see 35 foot red bluffs out across the river and marveled at such an ebb and flow of water every six hours. 

       As we approached the small Hamlet of Selma, we got our first look at the Bay of Fundy. The tide was out. As far as we could see, were vast mud flats of that peculiar red silt. It was fascinating to think of the titanic surges of ocean water that ran back and forth through here every day. We were nearing the head of the Minas  Basin of the Bay, where the tidal drop can swing as much as 53Õ in a single day. A small road sign read ÒBurncoat.Ó The guide book said that this was the area of t
he biggest tidal surges, so we turned onto the road and drove through some gentle farmland, for five miles, until we came to and old sign saying ÒLighthouse Road.Ó It ran for a hundred yards and ended in the Bay of Fundy. The light house had long since fallen and rotted away. We could see the ancient pilings a few hundred yards off shore. The whole area was  a sea of red silt. We parked the car and walked down on to the sea bed. Our sneakers soon had a ring of fine red mud around the edges. We walked out into the bay, amused at the novelty of walking on the seabed. Stones, shells and all manner of curiosities lay all around us. The deep red, of the sea banks, were over my head and composed of the rich red silt. You could inhale the deep iodine smell of the retreated sea. 

       From Burncoat, we followed Rte #215 east. There are absolutely no gas stations, cafes or even rest rooms in this area for a two and one half hour stretch. We did stop at a 
small grassy spot called ÒAnthonyÕs Park.Ó They have wooden outhouses available for use. Make your preparations before entering this area. I felt like Dorothy and her gang entering the forbidden woods near Oz.

      At Walton, we stopped, at this bend of the road, to admire one of the now familiar triangular white light houses, with red tops. It is an attractive stop and has great views onto the mud flats of the bay. A light rain was falling as we walked around the area. Two rest rooms were also located conveniently for tourists and maintained by a volunteer lighthouse preservation society.

      Then, we picked up busy rte. #101. It is a two-lane highway. It whisked us , at 100 KPH, to Wolfville. It is an upscale town of quaint homes and the prestigious Acadia
 University. The town had originally been settled by Americans who were dissatisfied with the results of the American Revolution, after the 1784 Treaty of Paris. We parked our car, near the waterfront park, and walked through the quaint town. It has the requisite pizza shops and small bars you find in any small college town. Two huge tour buses were moored at the park. Their aging cargo had swamped the local Tim HortonÕs. We walked through the tidal bore park. It too was empty. The red mud showed evidence of newly lowered tide. We read some of the interpretive sign-boards, explaining the ebb and flow of the tides, and enjoyed the seascape. The Òollies (oldsters) had finally left, so we stopped by Tim HortonÕs for coffee and muffins. Tim HortonÕs is CanadaÕs version
 of McDonalds. It is a place every one looks for, and everyone feels at home with, when traveling. We remember it well when it was a single coffee and donut shop in Ft. Erie, Ontario, owned by Buffalo SabreÕs defenseman Tim Horton.

      We saddled up and drove out to Rte. 101 east. We still had another 100 miles to go, before reaching Digby. We were tiring with the drive. The highway was filled with cars, but the traffic moved along well enough. We soon reached the scallop capital of eastern Canada, Digby, at exit # 26. The town sits on a small neck of water that connects to the Bay of Fundy. We followed road signs to the impressive Digby Pines Resort. It is one of three resorts owned and operated by the Nova Scotia Provincial Government. Keltic Lodge is another. The Pines h
*as an attractive 18 hole golf course, a heated pool, tennis courts and a very attractive view of the ocean. It is three stories in height and was constructed in 1929. We walked into the spacious lobby and immediately enjoyed the surroundings. Huge picture windows gave out onto a scenic view of the ocean. We checked in and were assigned a room on the third floor. It was small, but clean and had a great view of the ocean. Two tour buses of ollies, and a doctorÕs reunion group, had just checked in before us. The place would rock tonight before they all fell sleep at 9:00 P.M. 

     The sun had come out. We were tired  from the 7 & 1/2 hour drive, but unwilling to stay indoors. We unpacked our gear and then set off for a walk around the grounds. We explored the attractive spa & pool area and then walke
d down to the scenic over look on the ocean. The tide was out and the red silt glistened in the afternoon sun. We walked along the very rocky shore and enjoyed the sun, sea and sky around us. We were tiring from the day, so we headed back to the room, to write up our notes, relax and chill out before dinner.

     We had 8:00 P.M. dinner reservations in the first level ÒAnnapolis Dining Room.Ó At 7:30 P.M., we walked around the lobby enjoying, as always, the interesting ebb and flow of guests in a great hotel. An internet station was available, so we checked into our e-mail account. No one had missed us but the spammers.

     In the Annapolis room, we were seated by the picture window, with a fine view out over the ocean. Suzanne, a german girl born in Leipzig, was out pleasant waitress. I managed to trade some pleasantries with her in German, but it had been some time since I had used the language and was verbally rusty. A tasty Wolf Blas Cabernet led us into some very good Caesar Salads. I had a wonderful 
salmon fillet, Mary the famous Digby Scallops. Both were exceptional. We split a dessert sampler that was an exquisite offering of chocolates,  creme tarts and blueberries. This caloric overload is going to require a lot of old fashioned sweating when we get back home. It was a lovely meal with pleasant service. ($150 CDN)

     After dinner, we walked around the grounds enjoying the night sea air. The Pines, like the Keltic Lodge, is an Òend destination,Ó a place that we would love to spend several days, playing golf and enjoying the amenities. However pleasant, we were feeling that it was time to go home. We returned to the room and read our books, before being carried far away but the sand man.

Saturday- Sept. 10, 2005- The Pines Resort, Digby, Nova Scotia, Cana

     We arose early, as accustomed, at 6:45 A.M. We prepped for the day and then breakfasted in the Annapolis room. Fruits, poached eggs, pancakes and good coffee made for a wonderful breakfast. The food at the Pines is very good.

      It was sunny and 62 degrees out. We walked the grounds again, enjoying the ocean air and the crisp smell of approaching Fall. The tide was again at low ebb. We could see the fishing pier, across the Bay in Digby. A row of shrimpers were at anchor, some 20 feet below the main landing. We packed up, checked out of this beautiful hotel and drove over to the 18 hole, 6,000 yard, golf course, just down the road. Swaths of emerald green fairways tempted us mightily. A goodly crowd were lined up for their Saturday morning tee off.
 We got a score card from the pro shop, looked around a bit and then drove over to Digby on the water.

     Digby proper is a main street, lined with small Inns, restaurants and tourist shops. Behind it lies a small park over looking the bay. A pergola, and a shrubbery-shaped like a mermaid, make it nautical cute. The commercial harbor area, where the shrimpers and other fisher men berth their craft, extends out into the small neck of water that leads out to the Bay of Fundy. 

     From Digby, we followed Rte. #303 S., to Rte # 101 E., to rte. # 1 and the historic town of Annapolis Royal. Port Royal, across the river from Annapolis Royal, is the first settlement in Canada. Annapolis Royal is an area of upscale houses, some quaint colonial Inns and a small downtown area, center
ing around another pier out into the bay. We walked through the town, admiring the quaint architecture and enjoying another day of sunshine. A farmerÕs market drew us in. Blueberries, honey,maple syrup  and home made crafts drew in the locals and tourist in droves. We walked out of the pier and enjoyed the ocean view. An American, from Texas, was speaking with a drawl so heavy we could hardly understand him. The role must get him some mileage locally. He was probably born in the Bronx.

     We walked past the attractive library building to the Ft. Anne complex. A small blockhouse, similar to the French Castle at Fort Niagara, sits in a levelled depression. It is surrounded by earthen breast works and a series of cannon emplacements that look out on and dominate the entrance to  the bay. Fort Anne had been the sight of a number of pitched battles between French, English, native MiÕkwaq Indians and o
ther contestants over the last few hundred years. The Mi'quaks has used the area as a meeting place for the last 3,000 years. Now, they are but a footnote in history. We walked the parapets around the fort, enjoying the sea and the sky. A small pioneer cemetery lay on the street side of the fort. Two hundred years of weather had wiped clean the names on the slate gravestones, another lesson of history.

      We drove from the fort to the townÕs ÔPublic Gardens,Ó just down the road. For $8.50 each, we entered the small botanical sanctuary and walked through the quiet 10 acre grounds. Attractive floral groupings competed with a diverse arboretum for the visitorÕs interest. A wild marsh area sits near the riverside end of the property, for enjoying the avian life that sheltered here. We didnÕt see any of the familiar large Canadian Geese in the area. Probably, most had already taken up residence on golf courses in the U.S.,  to over fertilize them for futur
e use.

     It was now past noon. We had a two-hour drive to the airport, so we saddled up and followed Rte. #101 E to Rte. #102 and neared Halifax airport. Traffic was heavy, on this golden Saturday afternoon. We stopped to fill the thirsty metal monster with gas,($45) and then drove the last few miles to the airport and the Alamo rental center. We checked our bags in at the West Jet counter in the air terminal. Then, we walked back to a Tim Horton's for coffee and sandwiches, appreciating as always the good coffee and decent fast food at ÒTimÕs.Ó

       The sun was shining brightly outside and we had an hour to wait for our plane, so we ventured outside to enjoy the day. Spectators were looking skyward. As if from nowhere, a supersonic F-18 fighter plane screamed over the airport terminal above us, roaring skyward in a vertical spiral that was awe inspiring to watch. The U.S Navy ÒBlue Angels aerobatic teamÓ were joining a Canadian military air show at the airport. We
 sat on a bench and watched these sleek man-guided missiles do barrel roles, high speed immelman loops and other aerial acrobatics. They timed each flight between commercial take offs and landings at the Halifax air terminal. At $50 million each, these futuristic warplanes are expensive toys. I can only imagine the feeling of soaring through space and time, at supersonic speeds, high above the earth where only the wind and dreams venture.

    Soon enough, the time came for us to venture inside and board our West Jet for the two-hour flight toHamilton, Ontario. The emerald green of Nova Scotia, and the deep blue, of the Bay of Fundy, passed beneath us as we gradually climbed to 40,000 feet. It was clear and sunny out. We passed over New England, then followed the South Coast of lake Ontario across all of the cities so familiar to us. We vectored North over Buffalo and approached tiny Hamilton airport from the west. The landing was smooth and uneventful. We retrieved our luggage, without incident, and foun
d our car in the lot out front. We were here safe and sound. We missed the turn off for the ÒQueen EÓ and got a tour of the industrial areas of HamiltonÕs waterfront, before finding our way back South. The ÒQueen EÓ was loaded with traffic hurrying Southward, to Niagara Falls or Niagara on the Lake, for Saturday night revels. We pulled into the Queenston/ Lewiston Bridge and crossed the border without delay. Customs even waived us by after a few perfunctory questions. We crossed Grand Island and sped across Rte.# 290 to our small castle in Amherst. We unpacked our gear, checked the mail and messages and then crashed, tired with the dayÕs travel. It had been an interesting trip, to a land of sea, sky and beauty that we will long remember.

                                        (8443 words)

                                    Joseph X. Martin
                                   September 17, 2005