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Nova Scotia in 10 days - Roundtrip from Bangor, ME

Nova Scotia in 10 days - Roundtrip from Bangor, ME

Old May 20th, 2013, 11:29 AM
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Nova Scotia in 10 days - Roundtrip from Bangor, ME

I will start out by saying that I know that we can't fit it all in.

Arriving Bangor, Maine airport late afternoon June 18th, departing mid-day June 28th.
Priorities: scenic seascape drives, lighthouses, seafood, tidal bore observations, perhaps some hiking, some history...

My first draft at a driving route, based on "must-sees" found here and elsewhere, focused on Nova Scotia: Bangor-Saint John-Truro-Port Hawkesbury-Cheticamp-Ingonish-Baddeck-Halifax-Lunenburg-Digby-Saint John (by ferry)-Bangor resulted in 1,284 miles. Probably a bit ambitious.

I'm looking for suggestions for making this a pleasurable trip that hits on our objectives without finding ourselves simply driving long distances from place to place.
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Old May 20th, 2013, 04:23 PM
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I have quite a few responses in Nova Scotia threads here, if you just click on my name and sort through them.

Your objectives are so vague as written that it is difficult to step in and personalize any advice at this point.

Though it can't hurt to say/emphasize St. John - Alma - Hopewell Cape - Moncton on the way in (perhaps to best reinforce the [mental] impact OF the tides which dominate the area )
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Old May 20th, 2013, 06:33 PM
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It is still vague, yes. I was hoping to first get some direction as to whether my initial overall scope was too broad for the time allowed before getting too deeply into specifics.

Oh I have read many of your posts, NWMale. The thought that goes into your detailed responses is very much appreciated. I am hoping that this thread might also get to that point soon.

Aiming at it another way: Much of what I have researched on NS especially piques my interest in experiencing the Fundy tides, driving the Cabot Trail, finding great meals of scallops and other seafood, exploring the sights in Halifax, and poking along the south shore around Mahone Bay and Lunenburg. But drawing that large figure eight of highway made me step back and wonder if I needed to scale down some before I tried to zero in on specific inn stops along the way.

It's becoming apparent that - in order to fit it all in - I will need some expert advice for when to choose between taking the slower coastal roads to take in the shoreline sights (such as your initial Alma - Hopewell Cape suggestion) and the faster route to simply zip to the next featured destination.
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Old May 21st, 2013, 02:14 PM
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OK, so we'll pretend you're setting sail from Bangor on the morning of June 19 (though I don't even know whether to suggest hitting the ground running, and maybe getting to Saint John late on the 18th? (On a Tues/Weds, the border into Canada won't be the deciding factor)

Oh, and FIRST, before you do anything else, go to this website: http://www.bayoffundytourism.com/tides/times/

and print out the TIDE TIMES for roughly 4 locations around the Bay, during the ENTIRE window of your trip... and then make sure you pack the list. (Include Hopewell Cape, Truro, and perhaps Wolfville, for sure)

It makes the most sense to be sure to see Hopewell Cape on the way IN (timed with LOW Tide just to be sure THAT isn't something which gets cut-out due to time constraints.

IF seeing the tidal bore at Moncton fits timing-wise, then see that on the path away from Hopewell Cape. I suggest that once you see one tidal bore in the daylight, you won't be needing or wanting to make that plural (I saw two at Moncton, but alas, I had the miracle of a full moon illuminating the first of them at 11:00pm, and I was staying at a motel next door to the viewing area ("Tidal Bore Park")).

Then, as you've seemingly anticipated, the next priority is Cape Breton. I lean toward scheduling 2 nights at Baddeck, allowing (somewhat) for FOG (or dreary weather) on one day. Of course you can opt for Cheticamp, Inverness, or Ingonish yourself.

IF fate makes you wait a day, then you explore Sydney and Louisbourg during the dull weather, otherwise you drive the Cabot Trail loop and decide later whether to poke around Cape Breton or return south 'sooner' rather than 'later' on that 2nd day.

I was... enchanted (lets call it) by the idea of taking the slow path along the coast from near Mulgrave, NS all the way to Dartmouth. I don't suppose I would advise doing so to most people - it is slower than heck, and nothing drummed that point home like turning a corner and reading a sign: "Ferry ahead: leaves once an hour, on the hour" ... I looked at my watch and it was 5 minutes before the hour... so I just FLOOOOOORED it (still with no idea what it entailed). I got there in two seconds (it would have taken just 3 seconds had I not floored it - but I didn't know at the time). At the town of Isaacs Harbour, you take this puny ferry over a distance that you can probably hit a golf ball! Anyway, that road never ends.

You might be better served by scheduling a night in Pictou: (Baddeck to Pictou is 2 1/2 hours
Sydney to Pictou is near to 3 1/2 hours)


From there, were it me, I would target 2 nights at a central Halifax location, and then, depending on your subsequent move, maybe visit Peggy's Cove, Mahone Bay, and Lunenburg on a day trip.

However, if you are dead set on the Digby ferry, then, of course you can do a day or two in Halifax before hitting those other spots on the path out.

I'm just not one to pass on drives around The Minas Basin in favor of a ferry ride. To drive around, on the fastest roads, from Digby to Saint John, is 358 miles, or 6 hours of driving time. (of course I'd never do that either, but, you wouldn't have to leave from Digby [or even be there])

Instead, I would lean toward Departing Halifax toward Wolfville on the 101 and doing some tide watching of some sort (maybe even hike Cape Split, if you're so inclined)... then meandering toward Truro on the path of your choosing. From Truro, I like the path along highway 2 toward Parrsboro, if time permits, and then up toward Springhill, near to where you join Hwy #1.

(so lets see if I've been at all within your time constraints

NIGHT OF:

June 19: Saint John
June 20: Moncton, maybe
June 21: Baddeck (or wherever you choose)
June 22: Baddeck (or wherever you choose)
June 23: Pictou
June 24: Halifax
June 25: Halifax
June 26: Parrsboro isn't a dumb idea (shrug) maybe Moncton?

June 27: Bangor (but somewhere IN the U.S. for sure
(and take the main highways back (Hwy #2 / I-95) for there being less unpredictability, what with your flight out and all) (Thankfully June 27 is an ordinary Thursday, so border traffic won't be worst-case)

I'm too lazy to compare the ferry costs to the gas prices for driving around, but if you can drive, it's an area worth seeing... and Nova Scotia isn't on the way to anywhere, so what are your chances of getting back soon?

I guess that summarizes what I'd do, given the window of time you've cited. IF you need another day, you can probably make Saint John late on your first evening, but I thought I'd plot it this way and give you that bit of wiggle room.

Hope this helps.
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Old May 21st, 2013, 05:51 PM
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My suggestions are different than the above. I have been many many times and lived there as well for 8 years.

I would say these are top priority for scenery is what you yourself have suggested above dknudsen. Cabot Trail being first, Mahone Bay-Lunenburg-Chaster-Peggys Cove as a day trip from Halifax or with one overnight. Catch the tides on the way by but if you are feeling pinched for time I personally would not go all the way to Hopewell Rocks. It is a gong show and a long drive off the way. The drive from Mulgrave to Dartmouth has some of the worst and boring roads in Nova Scotia -that being said there are some pretty stretches from Mulgrave to Guysborough but not worth giving up any of the other top spots. I would suggest instead heading to the Annapolis Valley for some wine tasting and you can also see tides there.
I will also say that Moncton, Truro and Pictou would not be on my list but only if you need to get a hotel at one of these spots they are not “destinations” IMHO.
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Old May 21st, 2013, 07:13 PM
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Limited time tonight for a much of a reply other than 'you guys are the best; keep it coming.'

Some additions to help guide your most helpful suggestions:

* The cities I listed in the OP may or may not be ones that I am necessarily set on touring, I just listed them to help google maps (and anyone else responding here) to see the exact first draft route as plotted out.

* No, we are not dead set on the ferry by any means (especially when adding up the total price!). It was simply a stab at reducing miles and allowing more time for a larger loop. Can I make it back around the Basin in time without feeling rushed?

* Sometimes I wonder if it really is the tidal bore that I want to see or am I simply after getting a feel for the extremes of the tides. I mean, am I timing an arrival at low tide to gawk at the huge boats seemingly stranded below tall docks? or is the thrill in watching the tide come in? (Sorry if the wording of the question makes it seem like I am downplaying the grandeur of it all. I'm sure I'll feel differently once I see it...)

* Baddeck? vs Cheticamp or Inverness or Ingonish... Are there advantages/differences of one over another to consider when deciding on our 2- or 3-day base for the Cape Breton experience? (Keltic Lodge at Ingonish Beach was one of the first properties that caught my eye during initial planning, but *alas* no vacancy on the 21st.) And, what is this I read about preferences for driving Cabot Trail clockwise or counter-clockwise?
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Old May 21st, 2013, 07:18 PM
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Oops. Regarding my 'back around Basin' comment, I totally missed your Halifax - Wolfville - Truro - Parrsboro - Springhill suggestion. I need to get a good map and study that one.
Later.
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Old May 21st, 2013, 08:52 PM
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Oh, and we are open to heading out from the get-go and staying in Saint John on that first night. Or would you think it would get too late and set a bad tone for the rest of the route? 4:30 arrival in BGR. Getting a car, border crossing, 3-hour drive time, etc. might mean it gets dark on us, even if it is nearly the solstice.
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Old May 21st, 2013, 11:02 PM
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"Sunset" in Saint John on June 18 is a healthy 9:15pm.

If, by chance, you had to drive the last few miles in the dark, so be it. Although the thickest FOG I've ever driven in, was between Calais and Saint John, late at night... (couldn't even see the road/stripes over the hood ornament. Had to look out the SIDE window and go slow, while parallel to the center line. (thankfully nobody else was THAT dumb to be driving then))

I think that Saint John on that first night would be wise.

Next, I can't understand irecommend's post: they say their suggestions are "different from the above", and then basically echo things I said:

of course The Cabot Trail is the top priority... but you have to get there somehow. How can you really cover Nova Scotia without passing through Moncton or Truro (if coming by car from the U.S.). And I wholly agree that you should NOT take the (slow) path from Mulgrave to Dartmouth, which is what I meant when I said that I "wouldn't advise" it. I also definitely agree that Moncton and Truro are not destinations, but they are strategically situated for trips in various directions.

dknudsen, I really have a strong sense of your thoughts about how to initiate yourself to the tides for the first time.

I believe a first-move IS to take a slower path from Saint John to Moncton, ducking down to the bay shore and Fundy National Park from Penobsquis, NB. Upon arrival at Alma, depending on the timing, you may be confronted directly by ocean-going boats tied to docks while resting on the ocean floor. From there, I still wouldn't progress much farther without seeing Hopewell Cape, which is perhaps the single most prominent effect of the tides on anything you can see. (indeed sitting around for six hours just to watch tides roll in is a waste of time, and nothing happens in pronounced fashion while so doing).

Hopewell Cape greets you with this ominous sign:

http://jeanniestraveladdiction.files...scaled1000.jpg


(oh, that reminds me, I went there after hours, and just went down to the sand/beach and walked around on my own, for free)

So, when you're down on the sand, looking around the "Flower Pots"... and having your photo taken in such a way that you get most or all of a 'pot' in the picture frame, you sorta look like an ant - which helps to communicate the impact of the huge tides.

And of course you do that on the way in, so as to have it done when you're pressed for time later.

(quickly: about the Digby ferry: I think I recall that it is a 3-hour crossing, and you could drive the thing in 6 hours, and that is from Digby. You don't have any reason, otherwise, to be anywhere near to Digby, while IF you were taking the ferry, you would 'arrive early' [just to have a margin for error]. So the ferry just adds expense and doesn't really save you any time at all. )


Now, back to the impact of the impressive tides:

Best sensed at Hopewell Cape... otherwise, any of many spots around the bay where good sized ships are sitting on the ocean floor while tied to docks which sit many feet above them... The tidal bore sorta drives-home the force of the tides. (Moncton is a decent-enough place to see this, and they have bleachers on the side of the river, for watching). It is so awe-inspiring when you first sit there and see it happen on a schedule. You just don't see it in many other places where you're likely to get in your lifetime.

Actually watching the tide come in isn't a priority anywhere... well, unless you aren't off the beach above by the posted time!!. The amazement will be the evidence all around of just how far the tide comes and goes!

Finally, the tiny border crossing into Canada from Calais on a Tuesday evening isn't likely to be bedlam, so I'm hopeful you can get through without too much challenge.

Back at you now.
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Old May 21st, 2013, 11:11 PM
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Why do I find myself wanting to clarify the difference between the tide merely coming in and the Tidal Bore (just in case it helps) ?

The tide coming in would look little different than it does in perhaps a number of places you've been. It would just be wave after wave getting nearer to the shoreline (bigger waves, longer distance, but still a slow process).

The Tidal Bore is when actual rivers turn around and flow up stream at/from a precise moment caused by the sheer power of the incoming tides deep in the Bay of Fundy.

The river thing can happen before your eyes... the mere tide coming in, takes plenty of time (generally you just want to see the effects/impact OF that tide having rolled in twice a day for all eternity).

(Clarity for anybody who ever reads this)
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Old May 27th, 2013, 03:34 PM
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Route and mileages are coming together and here is the newest, still fairly flexible, idea:

* Jun 18: Bangor - Saint John 168 mi, 2hr 57min
Getting across the border and putting some miles behind us on that first day seems prudent to accomplish the overall plan. Although we don't just want this to feel like it's entirely a driving vacation, we have some destinations which are a bit far-flung, and know that there will be some simply looking out the window on this 10-day trip.

* Jun 19: Saint John - Amherst via Fundy NP and Hopewell Rocks 176 mi, 3 hr 37 min
This night's stop could very well have been back in Moncton (135 mi, 2 hr 54 min), but our current thought is to reduce the following day's long distance as much as possible. Or, is there something vital that ought to keep us focused on Moncton?

* June 20: Amherst - Baddeck 220 mi, 3 hr 38 min
The current plan includes making this our Cape Breton Island base for 3 nights. This will allow us two full days' chance at clearer weather for a Cabot Trail loop. The other full day is open to a day trip of some sort.

* June 23: Baddeck - Halifax 218 mi, 3 hr 39 min
Unless we are convinced by anyone that we are passing up incredible experiences by not making an overnight stay along the way -- Pictou? Truro? -- we feel that taking a longer travel day here allows a longer, more relaxed focus on the south central shore. We are not 100% sure how to split 3 days in Halfax/Peggy's Cove/Chester/Mahone Bay/Lunenburg, but it currently has a 2-night stay in Halifax and one night in Lunenburg penciled in, just to fill out the calendar.

June 25: Halifax - Lunenburg via Peggy's Cove, Chester, Mahone Bay 91 mi, 2 hr 19 min
Of course, if a day trip to Peggy's Cove was already accomplished prior to this travel day, a more direct route to Lunenburg would reduce this day's journey by about 30 miles and around 1 hr.

June 26: Lunenburg - Moncton 212 mi 3 hr 25 min
If we stick with the multiple-night stays earlier in the trip, I don't see including Cape Split or Parrsboro on the route. ??

June 27: Moncton - Bangor 264 mi 4 hr 25 min
We'll need to return our rental car by around 10:30 am in order to catch our flight, and I don't see much in the way of decent accommodations anywhere between the border and Bangor.
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Old May 27th, 2013, 05:17 PM
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I'm generally in agreement with this as I scan over it.

RE: (#) paragraphs in your post:


1. There's a LOT of the area where to just look out the window will suffice - and that's fine! (much of it need never have been any more).

2. There is nothing that should keep you trained on Moncton (though do time the tidal bore to see if you happen to BE passing through near to the right time) Although I think somebody here spoke highly of a night near Advocate Harbour, NS (AT THE CAPE D'OR LIGHTHOUSE)... that would be 75 minutes and 60 added miles from Amherst... AND it would let you take hwy #2 to Truro ~ a path I really like ~ the next day (but would add 20 miles and 50 minutes to that drive to Baddeck). (on the bright side, you'd be planted in one spot for 3 days at the end of that, so maybe you could at least look into the slight alteration that would be Advocate Harbour/Cape D'or Lighthouse replacing Amherst)

3. Nothing to add/suggest - obviously Sydney/Louisbourg are options for the day trip.

4. Make the long, direct drive to Halifax, indeed. (just resist the temptation to make it longer with that impulsive coastal route I described above)

5. There is no wrong among those options

6. IF you alter the thing I mentioned earlier in this post, you can pass through Parrsboro and take the path I like... and if you've no interest in hiking 5 hours round-trip out to the end of Cape Split then indeed there is no pressing need to go in that direction. I am by no means a "hiker", but I was thrilled to go to Cape Split (...in MARCH, with SNOW on the ground (largely tethered to my extreme sentiment relating to the tides - [though I am in no way man enough to have taken a different path toward Cape Split, toward the beach down below, to play chicken with the rushing water] ) (if ya lose in that endeavor, you are at best stuck out on a bare bluff for six hours, waiting for the tide to go out again)

7. All I stress is making SURE you cross into the USA prior to getting a place to stay, on the evening before your departure. There is no wrong way provided you do at least THAT.


Hope this inspires further thought.
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Old May 27th, 2013, 06:24 PM
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The lighthouse looks beautiful, but it doesn't look like we could leave from Saint John, enjoy Fundy NP, see the flower pots at Hopewell Rocks (low tide not until 3:23 pm), catch a tidal bore at Moncton (6:57 pm)... and arrive at the lighthouse (2.5 hrs from Moncton) in time to enjoy the sunset. The only way we probably would do it is if we skip seeing the bore: the Hopewell - Cape D'or Lighthouse drive is right around at 3 hours.

Also, it adds an hour to the leg to Baddeck. (Hmm, I do try to catch myself before saying that, like the drive will be entirely unenjoyable, or something...) Thank you for mentioning desirable highway route numbers, e.g. the #2 to Truro. Very helpful.

For the record:
* June 19 Saint John - Cape D'or Lighthouse via Fundy NP and Hopewell Rocks 237 mi, 5 hr 23 min

* June 20 Cape D'or Lighthouse - Baddeck 242 mi, 4 hr 48 min
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Old May 28th, 2013, 11:34 AM
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Maybe there is a reason why they call it the "Tidal bore".

OF greater importance is that your considerations underscore exactly why I love to recommend printing tide-related times for the entire window of one's trip to NS. Nothing says that you need to see the tidal bore at Moncton on the way IN. You'd be passing back through there on the way out and ""might"" be able to catch it then.

(there is certainly no need to, say, put a proverbial message in a bottle and then watch that bottle flow with the tides during your entire trip - you get the full effect of the repetitive force of the tides no matter when, or in which order, you see the various sights)

In addition, while I (now) understand the moment of low tide to be at 3:23pm on the day in question, you don't need to BE present AT that exact extreme in order to gain what you need to gain at Hopewell Cape. Once the tide is out beyond the flower pots... another ten (or seventy-five) meters in the sand isn't going to have too great an effect. (though considerable comfort could be taken from merely knowing that the tide was still heading out as you stroll the shoreline).

With sunset being after 9pm, you'd have a reasonable shot at a good experience with the Cape D'Or Lighthouse when not constrained by the Tidal Bore (which, in all fairness, really is worth seeing once - just to know/believe...)
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Old May 28th, 2013, 05:23 PM
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Oh, I will have tidal info printed out and saved in Evernote, for sure. Thanks for keeping at this with me, and for continuing to help shape my ideas into reality.

For future reference... Tidal Bore at Moncton
On our way in, probably just passing through:
June 19 - 6:57 pm - probably too late to stay for it on the way to Cape D'Or
On our way back, with possible overnight stay there:
June 26 - 12:56 pm - probably too early to get there in time from Lunenburg
June 27 - 1:51 pm - probably too late to stay for it on the way to Bangor

I'm a Minnesotan at 46.5° N, so our sunrise times in are nearly identical, at least when compared to Halifax... and NS sunsets are actually just slightly earlier by around 15-17 minutes. I would imagine that twilight periods are pretty much the same nice long affairs, too. That's something that I really miss on our trips south.
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Old May 28th, 2013, 11:58 PM
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Well, there is always the reversing waterfalls at Saint John, NB.

I watched that at 1:00am one time, and, well... it was mostly inconclusive then.

And yeah, SOMEtimes the tide times just aren't viewer friendly... and darn it, the Tidal Bore, unlike with the tides themselves, requires you to be there AT the moment of truth... though the immediate aftermath provides you with steady and considerable water running upstream.

I saw the Tidal Bore for the first time after 11pm, when it was illuminated by a full moon, and the best part about it was being able to go back to my nearby motel and dial the west coast and tell'em all about it before they went to bed.

Your full moon is on the 24th, so it might be bright enough to help, IF you were saying nearby - LOL. (and in the middle of the night, the random noise of the nearby area would be reduced, to make the rush of water more significant)

By then, however, you will possess a more telling familiarity with the strength of the tides, and won't perhaps be as intrigued over further evidence. Oh, know that other rivers in the Truro area turn around and flow upstream as well. You can even go white water river rafting UPstream in the area. Those spots just aren't as prominent as is the Moncton thing.
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Old Jun 12th, 2013, 12:35 PM
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Route and accommodations are coming together quite well:

Jun 18:
Bangor International Airport - Delta Brunswick, Saint John, NB
directly via Hwys 9 and 1
170 mi, 3 hr 5 min

Jun 19:
Saint John - Cape d'Or Lighthouse, Advocate Harbour, NS
via Fundy NP (then, not sure if we travel Scenic Drive or stay on Hwy 114 ??), Hopewell Rocks
This is our longest day of driving and hope to walk the flower pots in the late morning/early afternoon without jeopardizing quality time at Cape d'Or. The nice thing about staying at the lighthouse is not needing to drive any farther that night after driving out to see it.
238 mi, 5 hr 27 min

June 20:
Cape d'Or Lighthouse - Inverary Resort, Baddeck, NS
Travel Hwy 2 to Truro (thanks, NorthwestMale) before getting on the 104 and 105. Baddeck will be our Cape Breton base for 3 nights. Cabot Trail and Sydney/Louisbourg will occupy our 2 full days there.
241 mi, 4 hr 47 min

June 23:
Baddeck - Cambridge Suites Hotel, Halifax
Yes, the direct route: 105, 104, 102, 118. 2 nights in Halifax will allow some exploration of the old city and perhaps a day trip along the southern shore.
217 mi, 3 hr 40 min

June 25: Halifax - Lunenburg Arms Hotel & Spa, Lunenburg
63 mi, 1 hr 13 min (direct)
110 mi, 2 hr 11 min (via via Peggy's Cove, Chester, Mahone Bay)

June 26: Lunenburg - Delta Beauséjour, Moncton
This is the direct route through Truro again: 103, 102, 104, 2. Hiking out to Cape Split will need to wait until our next trip to NS.
212 mi 3 hr 25 min

June 27: Moncton - Hilton Garden Inn, Bangor
Back on the 1 and 9 to push across and stay close to the airport that night to return our rental car by around 10:30 am on the 28th.
265 mi, 4 hr 28 min
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Old Jun 12th, 2013, 07:02 PM
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Looks quite complete to me!
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Old Jun 15th, 2013, 08:33 PM
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I'm getting my bay tide tables all put together for June 18-28, but can't find a source showing predictions for tidal bore arrivals at Moncton and Truro that are for more than 7 days out.
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Old Jun 16th, 2013, 02:02 PM
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Okay, I found a complete 2013 for Moncton, but no Truro yet...
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