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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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Aug 12th, 2007, 12:35 PM
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Trip report: 1 week drive on the Evangeline and Lighthouse routes of Nova Scotia, with thoughts of solo travel, ATM cards, and packing light

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. Itís 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 Iím home, the water parts can recede in memory, but itís 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 Ö and trees.

I stopped in Church Point to see St. Maryís, 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 Captainís Cabin for supper and I enjoyed Rappie Pie, a chicken and potato Acadian specialty. Youíd better believe the ďhillĒ 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 ĎNet 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/gr...al/index.shtml. The local tourist information office is also there, and they offer a couple of computers linked to the ĎNet, 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 canít 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 Iíve read on the boards that thereís 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 donít know that I would want to get off the ferry and go several hours on Rt 101 (the no-scenery, etc. road), but itís 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 arenít, 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.

Itís 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 Peggyís 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 wasnít 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. Paulís 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:

ďWhen you face a problem yourself and you solve it yourself, it always stayed more embedded in your mind Ö 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.Ē

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 ďday in the life of a train station.Ē 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 fruitómore 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 didnít 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 Iíve 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, itíll be solo, but mainly because from all the friends and family who say, ďWouldnít a trip be lovely,Ē thereís no one who will step forward and come along! So, Iíll 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 ďcabinetĒ 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-...-tote-bag.html), and I came back with both mostly full.

Iíve 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! Iíve got to stop doing that. If I take a paperback, itís has to be something that I have no attachment to, so when Iím 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. Iíve 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.

Iíve decided for my next trip that I want to try an Eagle Creek Cabin Bag that I see in the current Magellanís catalog. Itís 10x12x19, so 50% more cubic inches than what I started with this trip. With three dayís 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. Itíll be pj bottoms and t-shirt next time.

If youíve 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!
scotlib is offline  
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Aug 12th, 2007, 12:54 PM
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What a great trip report! I do plan on touring Nova Scotia some day, and your information will really come in handy. You did a great job of including important information and websites.

I agree with your pros and cons of travelling solo. But better to go alone than to stay home. When I've done it, I usually end up chatting to people along the way.
I still don't like eating alone, and hate it when they don't bring the bill right away. I don't want to linger when I'm on my own. I want to eat and carry on!

Good for you for travelling light. I find jeans are great for wearing again and again. But I find as I get older, I want to take more and more stuff.
YOu've inspired me to try travelling light again.
My own little 'tip' is to fill a Tylenol bottle with Tide and then to put it in a baggie just incase is spills. It's usually enough for a trip.

Happy travels.
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Aug 12th, 2007, 02:58 PM
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Thank you for the note, Kodi! As you mention, a couple of times I was able to chat up people at eating times. The sandwich at the Biscuit Eater was delicious, and also delightful was that I was fortunate to join a couple of sisters, Janet and Mary, local to the area.

And your post brings some more things to mind. You mention liking the web sites. A lesson I have from this trip is to research more beforehand:

I borrowed a number of travel guides, none of which was more than a couple of years old, from the library at home. At least one of my pre-planned sites, I could not find. It was something about a statue created in honor of a lost loved one in a cemetery near Yarmouth. The directions absolutely did not work. Hereís someone who must have found it: http://travel.webshots.com/album/556705098DyWriT

I did not plan my entire trip, but I made notes of some possible things, so anything worth noting as a ďpossible,Ē is important enough to do comfirmatory-type research completely beforehand. Not finding enough on the web to ensure finding the cemetery could have meant contacting the Yarmouth tourist office for driving directions. And all that needs doing before the trip.

Iím thinking of looking at whatever is the latest for little recording gadgets, too. Iíd see something and then something else very soon. If I couldnít immediately write down the first (ex.: when driving), everything that came after would supplant it in short term memory. And everything is new on a trip, lol.

Lots of things went into my journal. After the passport, tickets, and money stuff, I now value my journal next in line. I learned to keep it with me. Itís very handy, as I saw somebody write in a post at sometime, to use if eating alone. And you never know when youíll have something to write down. I went to the Halifax museums without itóbig no, no. Had to write itty-bitty notes on a scrap piece of paper and then re-write that evening in the journal.

I used a large cahier notebook from Moleskine (5.25 x 8.25) with plain pages. The 64 pages are just right for a weekís trip. I bought a nice sticker from a souvenir shop to put on the front, so I know itís my Nova Scotia trip all inside. You can find these online or check your local Barnes & Noble store. I saw them there.

Perhaps there are 10 commandments for packing light. Or some number, lol. I think number 1 would be:

I. You will fill whatever size bag you use.

So, if you donít want to lug a lot around, donít use a big bag I took an exceedingly minimal bag, I would be first to admit that it was tiny, though the only thing that I was really missing was the jacket (definitely need a jacket on the ferry .. they keep the AC very chilly, cool temps supposed to help people avoid sea sickness). Because I had the tote bag, I promptly started to fill it. So, no extra space, you donít fill extra space

I wore sneakers and took sandals in the bag. Neither are the greatest of walking shoes, but I didnít go shopping ahead of time for anything different because I knew that I would be driving more than walking. Well, I will put in the effort for a better shoe, something good for walking, and probably only take the pair worn on the way; that will mean a bit more of space in the bag, whatever the size.

!Another lesson coming to mind!
I took only a few doses of chewable Tylenol, and chewable Pepto Bismal pills, some Tums, too. I figured that the right amount to bring would be just enough to get you through a night of misery, and then you go to the pharmacy in the morning to get anything more needed.

Well, when I was walking one day, I felt in need of a Pepto Bismal dose. Where were they? In my bag in the B&B! So, one dose of anything goes in the day bag! I didnít mention what I used for that, eh? I have a travel touring bag, regular size, from LL Bean, http://www.llbean.com/cd-15/51604/4520.shtml. I like it, but it could stand some improvement, IMHO. I added a notebook-type pencil case to have pockets on the inside (hot-glued it to the inside, lol). Coming back on the ferry, the bag was in the tote bag, while my tiny duffle was on the baggage cart down in the hold.

Cheers!
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Aug 12th, 2007, 04:26 PM
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Oh, I like that LL Bean travel bag. I have one of those kidney shaped bags that are supposed to be good for the back. I can't remember what it's called. But it has all pockets inside.

How true about filling the space in a bag! Although when I went to Ireland with just a small carry on, full, I somehow managed to squish more into it. OR sometimes I'll take old clothes and leave them behind to make room for purchases.

I know just the notebooks you mean. I have a folder full of them that I've used. It's so much fun to pull them out and reread them. It's quite amazing how that memory thing works. Things I'd totally forgotten about are brought to the front when I read those journals.

I would always take some sort of spare footware. I've been totally drenched before and was sure glad I had spares. I have Ecco sandals that are great for walking.
And I usually take one of those dollar store plastic raincoats.

You've really whet my appetite for Nova Scotia.

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Aug 12th, 2007, 05:19 PM
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Yes, I'm already re-thinking to only one pair of shoes thought. Two carefully selected pairs to find.

Reading all the posts that involve shoes, I can see a trip to stores with good selections will be a definite "to do" before my next trip.
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Aug 12th, 2007, 05:36 PM
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What a marvelous trip report, scotlib. You did a wonderful job and I love your tips! I am married to a man who simply does not like to travel and consequently a lot of my adventures are solo. It is a different sort of experience, but has much to recommend it!
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Aug 12th, 2007, 10:28 PM
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I found your trip report very interesting also as I'm planning a trip there next year.

I agree about 2 pairs of shoes. All it takes is for your one pair to get soaked and you're messed up for days. For summer trips, I usually do a pair of walking shoes and a pair of comfortable sandals.
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Aug 13th, 2007, 05:08 AM
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I found Nova Scotia a great place to travel, toedtoes. The people were very friendly, just as I'd been told. And there's lots to do for other activities, if someone wanted more than driving/touring with stops.

The offical travel site, http://novascotia.com/, is terrific. They put out a great travel guide, Doers' and Dreamers, annually (even available on CD, convenient for using the search feature).

I'd seen a recommendation, cmcfong, to try a trip close to home for the first solo. My week in NS was a good first-timer's experience.
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Aug 15th, 2007, 10:38 AM
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This is such an excellent trip report. Very helpful! I hope you have many more opportunities to travel and, of course, report back.
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