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Trip Report Trip report: 1 week drive on the Evangeline and Lighthouse routes of Nova Scotia, with thoughts of solo travel, ATM cards, and packing light

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A friend thought she would like to go with me, but it ended up that I was alone when boarding the Cat Ferry in Portland for the trip to Yarmouth. Can you say Dramamine? I munched on gingersnaps until I admitted that my stomach just was not handling the motion, and then I sweated out the 45 minutes until I could feel the Dramamine kick in. Oh, sweet relief. I still felt miserable, but at least the threat of heaving into a bag subsided. $1.25 US for two tablets from the on-board store. I would try the acupuncture bands that you wear on the wrists, if I take the ferry again. It’s nice to know that the pills work, but they also can leave you feeling a bit drowsy. I left the boat in Yarmouth prepared; I purchased my next packet of two tabs for the return trip! Now that I’m home, the water parts can recede in memory, but it’s still recent enough that a suggestion of white water rafting does Not interest me :-)

I rented a small--the most basic--economy car from Enterprise ($260 CDN for a week). Yarmouth office staff was great: very welcoming and lovely to talk to. They came down to the ferry to pick me up and then dropped me off on the end day. I finished a bit early on the last day and I received lots of suggestions for eating and shopping while waiting for the ferry.

I left Yarmouth heading to Digby on Rt 101. I did some hopping on/off it with Rt 1. Rt 101 is limited access, and limited sights, too--mostly trees … and trees.

I stopped in Church Point to see St. Mary’s, http://www.geocities.com/st_marys_church2001/st.html, very lovely.

Also on Route 1, Gilbert Cove Lighthouse was closed, but a lovely stretch the legs spot: http://www.gilbertscovelighthouse.com/

Bob and Maria at Ocean Hillside Bed and Breakfast in Digby were very nice to stay with. Maria recommended the Captain’s Cabin for supper and I enjoyed Rappie Pie, a chicken and potato Acadian specialty. You’d better believe the “hill” in Ocean Hillside. You get a terrific view from all the windows at breakfast! My room was the maroon room, one of the bedrooms also with the ocean views. http://www.geocities.com/oceanhillsidebb/ Breakfast include a baked apple pancake, which reminds me that I want to search the ‘Net for a recipe. It was terrific. I paid the cash price, $79 CDN.

The next day I toodled up Route 1 some more, only toward the end did I hop Route 101 to go faster and get to my next B&B, the Farmhouse Inn in Canning.

One stop on my wind up Rt 1 was in Annapolis Royal where I saw what is one of only three power plants in the world that harnesses tidal power, http://www.nspower.ca/environment/green_power/tidal/index.shtml. The local tourist information office is also there, and they offer a couple of computers linked to the ‘Net, a nice convenience. The rest of the toodle part was just lovely small towns, rural spots, and a relaxing drive. Only one car came up on my tail for which I had to pull over, and the driver was a definite lead foot, I thought.

I did a number of sights when I reached the upper area of Route 101in the afternoon: Gaspereau Winery, http://www.gaspereauwine.com/; Fox Hill Cheese House, http://www.foxhillcheesehouse.com/; Kingsport beach; Scots Bay; Look Off point on Rt 358; various stores in Canning; and the Canning Heritage Centre, which houses a museum to Wilf Carter and the public library, http://fieldwoodhs.ednet.ns.ca/cfhswilf.html.

Definitely find the Fox Hill Cheese House. I had rum raisin gelato, yum! And also a packet of fresh cheese curds, which I can’t find near home anywhere, so they were a real treat!

Okay, Andrea Kelly of the Farmhouse Inn, http://www.farmhouseinn.ca/, is a true delight of innkeepers. She helped me organize my time, made a solo traveler feel very welcome, and I enjoy telling about my time at her B&B! I stayed in the Apple Blossom room, $100 CDN plus the VAT tax. They choose to charge your card at reservation time. I know that I’ve read on the boards that there’s definite cons to this policy, but I had no trouble with it; I felt that knowing the stay was already paid for encouraged going on the trip when I found out I was going alone.

A couple who came in after I did were fresh off the ferry in Yarmouth. I chose to go slower and stayed half way in Digby. I don’t know that I would want to get off the ferry and go several hours on Rt 101 (the no-scenery, etc. road), but it’s nice to know that one could.

Woke for the third day of the trip. Breakfast included a wonderful ham, peppers, and cheese egg strata. Oh, breakfast is a enjoyable affair at the Farmhouse Inn. A tray with a muffin and coffee/tea or juice is delivered to your door at 7:30 am. Then you go down at 8:30 am for more. I had a yogurt/fruit/granola parfait first and then the strata for a really delectable start to the day. The second morning was blueberry grunt followed by a cheese egg puff, yummy! One of the reasons that I chose the Farmhouse was the recipe section on its web site, and now I know the ones that I really want to try!

I drove to Halls Harbour, took some pictures of low tide. Drove down through Kentville, did some shopping and looking around. One of the sights on Rt. 359 was the concrete house built by Charles MacDonald, http://www.concretehouse.ca/index.php. I also viewed some cottages that he built on Huntington Point because Farmhouse Inn provides the directions. As they note, Disney the cottages aren’t, but interesting in a curious way, http://www.concretehouse.ca/uncommon/BlueCottage.pdf

In the afternoon I drove back to Halls Harbour for the high tide comparison and sat in the restaurant eating while thunder and lightning crashed all around. I took some more pictures after that passed and then when I could see another cell rolling in from the ocean, literally, you could see the lighting and clouds coming in, I got out of there and drove around sight seeing until returning to the inn.

It’s now morning of the fourth day, a Sunday, and I arrived at the Ross Farm Museum (on Rt 12) before 11 am and so got to go in for free, http://museum.gov.ns.ca/rfm/. Definitely a good trip for anyone with kids, I also enjoyed this museum. If you like living history museums or an agricultural interest, do try it. I spent quite a while watching the apple barrel cooper, partly because he was very entertaining as well as informative. I walked the nature trail to the little lake, a definite picnic spot if you are looking for one!

So I took Rt 12 from Rt 101 over to Rt 103, which is the limited access road on the ocean side of NS. I followed roads to the Flight 111 memorial and did a quick in and out of Peggy’s Cove. I drove around the various roads, taking a long circuitous route to finally finding the Captain Spry B&B in Halifax, http://www.captainsprybedandbreakfast.ca/index.htm. Al was so wonderful when I arrived. He recommended a restaurant, called in my order and sent his son in law to drive me down to pick it up! It wasn’t far, but the route involved going around a rotary and my face probably was looking very confused, lol.

A city bus stop is just outside the Captain Spry and I took it in the next morning to tour Halifax. I spent several hours at the Maritime Museum, http://museum.gov.ns.ca/mma/index.html. I wrote in my journal various tidbits: did you know that a daily dose of rum was distributed to naval sailors, only ending in 1972? British war ships had red decks to hid the blood of battle. A map of current day piracy unnerved me a bit; piracy is not a thing only of the past, evidently.

I spent time in the Titanic display and also the Halifax Explosion areas, http://www.cbc.ca/halifaxexplosion/. Two ships collided on Dec. 6, 1917. One was loaded with over 200 tons of TNT and other highly explosive stuff. It was the greatest man-made explosion up to the atom bombs. St. Paul’s church, http://www.stpaulshalifax.org/, had a piece of explosion debris stuck into its wall and you can stop to see it.

On the CBC web site, I really like a quote from Hector J. Pothier, a 4th year medical student at Dalhousie University:

“When you face a problem yourself and you solve it yourself, it always stayed more embedded in your mind … The practical experience acquired due to the Explosion, although so dearly paid for by the people of Halifax, was a tremendous value for studies during the remainder of the semester.”

The first part is so inspirational, good advice to pass on to anyone. And then the second part .. I hear it as a bit of a wry voice. I wonder what tone he actually used.

I did the tour at the Alexander Keith brewery, http://www.keiths.ca/k_main/k_main_index.php. I had picked up a brochure at a tourist office with a couple for 15% off. Even with the coupon, the tour came to $15.45 CDN. I thought that a bit steep, though it was a good tour, about an hour, and you could taste the different ales at the end (or enjoy some ice tea).

I finished the day at the Citadel. Had a good sandwich in its cafeteria. And then headed back to the Captain Spry on the bus. Both mornings had fresh fruit and your choice of cereal or toast/bagels.

Okay, sixth day: I drove down the coast on Rt 103 to Mahone Bay and Lunenburg. Had a curry egg and marmalade on a croissant at the Biscuit Eater, http://www.biscuiteater.ca/. I can recommend it. Found the Terra Beata cranberry farm, http://www.cranberryfarm.ca/. I picked up a small bag of NS berries to cook some biscuits with at home, and a good introduction to the cultivation of cranberries. Driving up to the building, all you see is the back. Go through the gates, and as a note says, toot the horn and someone will come to help you :-)

If you have children, do stop at the Halifax-Southwestern Railway Museum, http://www.novascotiarailwayheritage.com/lunenburg.htm. They did a sort of a “day in the life of a train station.” As the narrator told the story, another fellow with a control board lowered lights, rang bells, etc. They did a great job of entertaining the kids. Not having any with me, I really had fun watching the kids have fun.

I made my way to Shelburne to stay at the Water Street Lighthouse B&B, http://www.shelburnelighthouse.com/. Several museums are on the waterfront. I only went through two because they were closing early that night: a parade on the main street was the opening event for a local fair. I really enjoyed the guided tour that came with the Dory Shop Museum, http://museum.gov.ns.ca/dory/.

Breakfast at the B&B was homemade bread made into French toast, served with ham alongside, and also some fresh fruit—more than I could eat!

I drove down Rt 103 to find an Acadian living history museum in West Pubnico, http://museum.gov.ns.ca/av/. It was a bit thin as an experience, compared to the Ross Farm Museum. I think they have more adding to the museum to do, or could do. A bit more toodling, only on Rt 3 (Rt 101 has Rt 1, Rt 103 has Rt 3 on its side), down to Yarmouth, turn in the car, and take the ferry home. Home!

Solo travel
I found that I liked going alone, and yet I didn’t like going alone. The pros of deciding for yourself. The con of no one to turn to and share a discovery. And all the various things I’ve seen on other posts about solo travel. But when I really want to do something, in this case see Nova Scotia, I found the way to do it.

My next trip is hopefully to see Edinburgh in the spring. Again, it’ll be solo, but mainly because from all the friends and family who say, “Wouldn’t a trip be lovely,” there’s no one who will step forward and come along! So, I’ll be doing my planning alone and working in anything I think I need to do to make it an enjoyable trip in any way that helps me.

ATMs
I tried a pre-paid ATM/debit card from Key Bank, with a Mastercard logo and a kind of star symbol. I never saw an ATM that had the same symbols! I had to find credit unions and go inside to draw money, so that was a disappointment, and nothing I plan to repeat!

Packing light
I mentioned on a thread a couple of weeks ago that I was going to try a backpack for this trip. Well, I loaded it up and then did not feel comfortable with it. So the evening before the trip I thinned down from three packed outfits to just two and loaded one pair of pants, a dress, two shirts, sandals, bra, three undies, toiletries bag, medicine “cabinet” bag, and a few sundries into a tiny duffle (8x10x18). It looked like a sausage, with one side just slightly flat, lol. In that last bit of flat I folded a large tote bag. The tote bag has almost as many cubic inches as the duffle (http://www.redoxx.com/catalog/carry-on/p_91039-tote-bag.html), and I came back with both mostly full.

I’ve decided that I will buy a small case of some kind, perhaps a pencil case, and any souvenirs have to fit in that case! I bought books, a calendar, also a jacket and sweatshirt (neither brought with me). Books weigh so much! I’ve got to stop doing that. If I take a paperback, it’s has to be something that I have no attachment to, so when I’m done reading it, it gets left wherever I am. And then I could pick up another paperback at a used bookstore and read that until it's also left somewhere.

The calendar and a couple of the books were from one of the public libraries I visited. I’ve liked to pick up anything fundraiser I see, to support the library. Well, in support of packing light, my new policy will be a small cash donation and they can keep the item to sell the next person, someone not trying to pack light.

I’ve decided for my next trip that I want to try an Eagle Creek Cabin Bag that I see in the current Magellan’s catalog. It’s 10x12x19, so 50% more cubic inches than what I started with this trip. With three day’s clothes: one on me and two in the bag, I survived fine. I never did get around to finding a laundry, but did wash underclothes and do some spot washing in my room a couple of evenings.

Oh, and a couple of the B&Bs had shared bathrooms. I took a nightshirt/gown. Felt hokey going across the landing. It’ll be pj bottoms and t-shirt next time.

If you’ve made it this far and have a question, just post it. Cheers!

PS: Many thanks to other Fodor posters who gave me some of the above suggestions for things to do on this trip!

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