Evolution is fascinating to watch. To me it is the most interesting when one can observe the evolution of a single man. - Shana Alexander

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Revisiting the Maritimes, 15 Years Later

I spent a lot of my childhood summers in Nova Scotia, specifically in a small town named Tatamagouche where my Mom grew up, and where a lot of her side of the family still lives.

It had been at least 15 years though since I was last there, and Chris had never seen that part of Canada, so when a great deal to Halifax came up we decided to take advantage.

Day 1 - Wed, July 27

- Went to the airport but our plane took off 3 hours late. Luckily we still made our connection in Toronto only because the same pilots were flying our next flight.

- Landed in Halifax to discover that Chris's bag and our camping gear bag didn't make the flight.

- Took a cab to our B&B, Sterns Mansion, while spending 1/2 an hour on the phone with Air Canada to try and locate the bags. It was 5 AM by the time we went to bed!

Day 2 - Thu, July 28

- Had breakfast at our B&B and then took the ferry from Dartmouth to Halifax.

- Walked up the hill and took a look at the Citadel Fortress from the outside.

- Went to the Public Gardens which were very impressive! Here we had ice cream, saw lots of flowers, geese, and a turtle with many followers.

- Took a stroll through the streets and shops and then picked up our rental car. Got groceries, went to the mall, and spent at least another half hour on the phone with Air Canada to try and find our bag that still hadn't shown up.

- Ended up driving to the airport to pick up the bag ourselves. It wasn't the tightest of security, Chris basically just walked into the airport and picked up the bag out of a pile on the ground and walked out.

- Took the ferry to Halifax again and went for dinner at Morris East and ate some interesting pizza (grilled peach + goat cheese, tandoori chicken w/ butter chicken sauce). To wash it down, we tried some Pump House Blueberry Ale beer.

- After dinner we went for a beer at the Henry House. Chris had a shandy, which he didn't really like. I had an apricot ale which wasn't that great either.

- Then we went to The Maxwell's Plum for a jug of honey ale, which was not that great either. We weren't doing too well with the beer selections! So far our favorite was the Garrison Raspberry which we bought at the liquor store earlier that day.

- Took the ferry back to the B&B. It was our own private ferry, as we were the only passengers on it!

Day 3 - Fri, July 29

- Woke up, had breakfast, packed up and headed towards Cape Breton.

- At Baddeck we got out and checked out the views of a few boats and the bay. We began our drive on the famous 'Cabot Trail' which encompasses the scenic parts of Cape Breton.

- We entered the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Stopped at Laley's Head for our first viewpoint and a picnic lunch. Using the new binoculars we spotted a seal.

- Next we stopped at a bakery for some banana bread for breakfast and then headed north to the remote community of 'Meat Cove'.

- We met Chris, the campground owner, and picked our spot, site #1 right along the cliff overlooking the Atlantic ocean.

- We set up our tent and went for a hike to the top of a large hill next to the campground which offered even more impressive views and the chance to spot some whales.

- Came back down, had a nap, and then went for dinner at the campground restaurant. I had clam chowder for the first time, while Chris had haddock and chips. Also tried a mussel, which I didn't really enjoy.

- Came back, chopped up some wood, and then got invited to the neighbor's fire. Met an interesting dude who was a tattoo artist in Switzerland and had lived many places, including Samoa.

Day 4 - Sat, July 30

- Woke up and ate bananas + banana bread for breakfast.

- Headed out to find Captain Cox's whale watching tour in Bay St. Lawrence. A large woman in a shed verified we would be leaving at 10:30 and so we met Captain Cox down by his zodiac. It would be just the 3 of us.

- Then we headed out to the ocean and first spotted a seal, a blue heron, and a bald eagle. We learned that spotting gannets helps with whale watching. When you see them dive, you know there's fish, and where there's fish, there's whales.

- Sticking close to shore we examined the impressive geology of the area. We learned the rock beds were up to 300 million years old and were once part of the continental divide, separating from Africa and Ireland.

- In search of whales, we navigated some rough waters, and weren't having much luck until Captain Cox received a phone call, identifying a spot with whales. On our way there, I think we ran into a different pod of whales, a pod of pilot whales.

- We learned they are matriarchal and the fin identifies whether they are male or female. They are around 20-25 feet long.

- They would surface and blow air, then dip below the surface, over and over. When you see the tail go up it means they're getting ready to dive and may not come back up for 4-5 minutes.

- Altogether we saw about 15 whales, including 2 small calves. At one point they swam underneath our boat.

- After whale watching we went for a little drive, around to Dingwell and then to Neil's Harbour, where we stopped for lunch at the Chowder House. This time I had a chicken burger, Chris had a veggie burger, but we split a bowl of seafood chowder. We both agreeed it was the best seafood chowder we have ever had, although our experience is limited.

- We drove around the coastal loop, through Smelt Brook, taking in more views. We stopped at the grocery store for cheese, bread, double chocolate chip cookies, and grapes. Our dinner for the evening.

- On the way back I attempted my largest panoramic picture to date, over 100 separate snapshopts, of Meat Cove and our camp site.

- That night we enjoyed our wine and cheese dinner and soaked in the last views of our camping trip at Meat Cove.

Day 5 - Sun, July 31

- Woke up bright and early to drive down the west side of the Cabot Trail. We stopped to hike the Skyline Trail which is known for it's magnificent views and numerous wildlife sightings, including over 2500 moose in the area.

- We set off on our hike, even though it was a bit foggy. The fog did not relent and by the time we got to the viewpoint it was so completely socked in we couldn't see a thing! To top it all off, we didn't see any wildlife except for a couple of birds.

- We also had to break the bad news to other disappointed hikers when we told them that the hike wasn't really worth it today (hey, they asked).

- Got back in our car and drove down the rest of the West side of Cape Breton. It wasn't quite as dramatic a drive that I had expected it to be. Then we made our way to Tatamagouch to visit Chris's relatives.

- Upon arriving in Tatamagouch, Chris noticed the old gas station was still there. Then we went to Aunt Besie's house which he was able to remember after 17 years!

- We washed up and headed to Larry's house for a dinner. At dinner we saw Granny, Aunt Bessie, Aunt Colleen + cousin Tanner, who Chris hadn't seen since Tanner was 2 years old, and Larry + Ken.

- We enjoyed a nice meal with pork rolls, coleslaw, broccoli salad, seafood stew in pastry and ice cream sundaes for desert (and lots of wine!).

- After that we went to Colleen and Kens to meet Max, their dog, who had lots of energy.

- Headed home to sleep in Chris's room from his childhood days in Nova Scotia, but his first time sleeping in a bed in that room (it was always the floor, the cousin's always got the bed).

Day 6 - Mon, August 1

- Got up and walked down Tatamagouche main st (which doesn't take very long). Then we went and picked up Aunt Colleeen to go on a tour of my Nova Scotia childhood memories. First we drove by Uncle Mark's big house, and then swung around Brule Point, past Aunt Bessie's old place. Then we stopped by the bakery at my mom's old farmouse, but it was closed. Then we went by granny's old place and the golf course. Not a whole lot had changed, although the new owners of the golf course are trying to develop the area.

- Next we went to see the new wharf area, created by the men in the TV Show 'The week the women went'. Then we went for lunch and met Aunt Bessie at the Chowder House.

- After that we had ice cream at the pharmacy, the best ice cream deal in Canada, although it was now a dollar instead of 70 cents.

- Then we went to visit granny and she gave us rhubarb pie. We had a nice visit and then headed towards Advocate Harbour. On the way we stopped in Parrsboro at the Fundy Geological Museum. We didn't feel like paying to check it out but did leave our camera in the gift shop, which we realized the next day.

- Rolled into Advocate Harbour and checked in at the Wild Caraway, our B&B for the next 3 days. We had a siesta and then went for dinner at the B&B, which we had read great things about on TripAdvisor. Chris had pan fried halibut with hodgepodge of vegetables and I had the steak. For an appy we had deep fried green beans. But for that we had a shot of soup and bread with dulce.

- Afterwards we went for a walk, where Chris found the 'diesel scallops' sign funny, and I examined the stars with my new binoculars.

Day 7 - Tue, August 2

- Woke up and had french toast for breakfast at our B&B. Still recovering from our jet lag and late night arrival we went back to bed for a nap.

- Woke up again and then started to get ready for our kayak trip, at which point I realized we were missing our camera! After a frantic search we calld the Fundy Geological Museum back in Parrsboro and they had it there.

- We drove to Nova Shores Kayaking and got outfitted with life jackets and kayak skirts, and then continued on to Spicer's Cove for the start of our trip.

- The skies were sunny at that point but a few ominous clouds lurked in the distance. We learned a few basic kayak skills and then hopped in our boats and paddled off into the Bay of Fundy, home of the world's highest tides!

- We passed some interesting geological features, cliffs over 300 million years old and once part of Africa, when it was a super continent, Pangea. After paddling for a bit, the skies turned dark and there was some thunder in the distance.

- We headed onto a beach where our guides rigged a tarp for shelter and we settled in to have lunch. The weather took a turn for the worse as the rain started to fall and lightning struck the water in multiple locations followed by loud claps of thunder - it truly was the storm of the century! (At least according to Chris) or the worst one in 31 years according to someone that we talked to the next day who had heard that from a pilot.

- After several hours we "thought" it had passed and we paddled out to see the 3 Sisters rock formation when all of a sudden out of nowhere, there was a lightning bolt, and a thunderous boom. We scurried back to the closest shore, a rocky, seaweed covered cove.

- Once again we waited for the storm to pass and then slowly all got back into our kayaks and made our way home. Our paddle home was uneventful, although I thought Chris was going to tip us over at one point as he was leaning to adjust his foot pedals!

- There were several newly formed waterfalls on the way home as a result of the heavy rain. Oh I forgot to mention that Chris didn't bring a raincoat and he also worse his running shoes and socks so he was pretty wet by the end of the trip!

- When we arrived back at the beach we started from, it was now enormous, due to the fact that the tide had gone out.

- Came back and showered and put on dry clothes and then drove to the Cape d'Or lighthouse at Cape d'Or or for dinner. It was closed by the time we got there, so we came back to our B&B, while Andrew, the chef, made us pizza for dinner even though they were closed that day and it was supposed to be his day off.

- We chatted with Andrew and Sarah for a while and then headed upstairs to bed.

Day 8 - Wed, August 3

- Woke up and ate a large omelette containing mushrooms, potatoes, tomatoes and bacon with cheese on top.

- Drove to Parrsboro to pick up our camera that we had left behind at the Fundy Geological Museum.

- Then we drove on to Five Islands park where we attemped to hike, but only succeeded in finding the campground loop.

- Got back in the car and checked out Spencer's Island, a place with a little lighthouse and a gift shop (bought some goat milk soap)

- Drove on to Cape Chignecto Provincial Park. We walked in to the office to register, and the girl gave us the details for a short hike. We started on the hike which took us along a black beach. First we had to cross a small stream. After about 15 minutes of walking we realized we weren't on the path and headed back. On the way back we discovered that the small stream was now a giant stream, up to our waist. We had heard of the large Fundy tides trapping people, and now we could see why.

= Walked up the hill trying to find the actual hiking path, but failed to do so. Ended up just walking around a short pathway. Embarassed, we walked back to the registration office and signed out.

- Came back to the B&B, changed out of our wet clothes, and attemped to go to Cape D'or Lighthouse for supper, again. And once again, it was closed, this time because they are closed on Wednesdays. So we took a few photos and headed back to the B&B to try and catch their lunch menu. Chris had the pasta with scallops. tomatoes, red onions and cream sauce while I had a chicken sandwich. For dessert we had pavlova with strawberries, red currants and raspberries. To drink Chris had steamed milk with maple syrup. I had the same, but with a shot of espresso.

- Back in the room we shared a bottle of wine, played bananagrams and went for a short walk.

Day 9 - Thu, August 4

- Our last day of holidays, or so we thought.

- Went and took pictures of low tide, with the boats on the ocean floor.

- Ate scrambled eggs for breakfast at the B&B, and headed to Truro to visit my mom's friend Joan and her cat Jamelle.

- While snacking on chocolate covered jube jubes we drove to Peggy's Cove. This would prove to be probably the most tourist-laden spot on our trip; the lighthouse was covered with them. Bought a souvenir glass and that was that.

- Drove to Halifax and had lunch at Salvatore's, a nice spot for pizza.

- Went to the airport and discovered that our plane was not going to be arriving that night. Instead, Air Canada put us up for the night in Ottawa.

- Arrived in Ottawa to discover that one of our bags didn't make it...again. Air Canada gave us the emergency kit with deodorant and a toothbrush, and our voucher for the cab and hotel.

- Checked into our hotel for the night and prepared for an early start the next day.

Day 10 - Fri, August 5

- Got up bright and early and headed towards Parliament Hill. Discoverd that the tours started at 9:20 so we walked around the area and took a few pictures. Then we walked around the Rideau Canal and then came back to Parliament for a tour of the Centre Block.

- In the centre block we saw the House of Commons, the Senate, and the Library (the only remaining section of the original Parliament, which survived the great fire of 1916).

- Went for lunch at Byward Market and had a nice little sandwich with some pasta. Chris had quiche.

- Checked out a few of the vendors, and bought a maple leaf cookie and took it back to Parliament Hill. Yes, our third stop at Parliament before noon.

- Went back to the hotel, packed our bags, jumped in the cab, and made our way to the airport. My bag was waiting for me at the lost luggage department, and we made our way home.