A half carafe of Valpolicelli, some wonderful panini bread and olive oil, set the stage for a delicious plate of frutti di mare. The evening was warm and pleasant, so we walked down to the water and along the Ocean walk. On his advice, we set off along the highway and followed signs that indeed said A’West Mabou Beach.A“ The road to the beach is sort of primitive, but we managed to find the ocean-side parking lot. We were dining at the Inn this evening, so all we had to do was walk next door to the main building. The Maitland River basin gave us our first glimpse of the tidal phenomenon that is the Bay of Fundy. At Walton, we stopped, at this bend of the road, to admire one of the now familiar triangular white light houses, with red tops.
In the Annapolis room, we were seated by the picture window, with a fine view out over the ocean.
We got a score card from the pro shop, looked around a bit and then drove over to Digby on the water. The sun was shining brightly outside and we had an hour to wait for our plane, so we ventured outside to enjoy the day. Soon enough, the time came for us to venture inside and board our West Jet for the two-hour flight toHamilton, Ontario. 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. Room # 201, on the ground floor of the second building, is large and comfortable, with a sitting area. We had noticed two Italian restaurants on South Street, two blocks over, and decided to try one for dinner. The kilted, scots guardsmen were just emerging from their barracks, for the dayA•s tour, as we walked along the ramparts and enjoyed the view far out over HalifaxA•s harbor. We sat for a time, at the front of the gardens, and watched the various streams of people walk by. The choices of food here are many, but we settled in on very large bowls of seafood chowder. We enjoyed a glass of Merlot, listening to the rhythmic lilt, of a guitar and fiddle player, performing. It is a wonderful collage of pastels, of the sea front Inns and restaurants all looking out to sea. Last, we saw even larger A’scallop draggers.A“ These behemoths dragged the seabed for scallops.
One anomaly was a curious old codger, wearing a foot ball helmet and riding a A’dartA“ that was equipped with mirrors, a horn and a windscreen. It is a huge salt-water lake,on Cape Breton Island, that is popular with fishermen and boaters. Later, we sat on the porch, overlooking the ocean, and sipped a glass of cabernet in the late afternoon. We checked out and then walked one last time around the grounds of the Keltic Lodge, admiring the sea views all around us. The sea-views, from Pleasant Valley to Chetticamp, are beautiful and much worthy of the ride down the trail. We continued on to Dunvegan and stopped at the A’Glenora Distillery.A“ It is reputedly the only single-malt, scotch distillery in North America. Mary dropped off some post cards in the Canada Post building and then we stopped for sandwiches and tasty fries at PinnochioA•s. 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 small sitting room, with six tables upon a patio over looking the inlet, sufficed for the dining area. There are absolutely no gas stations, cafes or even rest rooms in this area for a two and one half hour stretch. The town had originally been settled by Americans who were dissatisfied with the results of the American Revolution, after the 1784 Treaty of Paris.
The Pines, like the Keltic Lodge, is an A’end destination,A“ a place that we would love to spend several days, playing golf and enjoying the amenities.
We walked the grounds again, enjoying the ocean air and the crisp smell of approaching Fall. We walked through the town, admiring the quaint architecture and enjoying another day of sunshine.
For $8.50 each, we entered the small botanical sanctuary and walked through the quiet 10 acre grounds. They timed each flight between commercial take offs and landings at the Halifax air terminal. 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. 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.
We found the restaurant that we were looking for, A’il Mercato,A“ but it was closed for the holiday. Large groups of students were chanting something or other as they walked by in funny costumes. It houses small exhibit on the Titanic and a much larger one on the Halifax Harbor Explosion. The RumrunnerA•s Inn, The Admiral Benbow Inn and others vied for the many tourists who come here. Tee shirt shops and art galleries competed with the A’Spinnaker InnA“ and many other small restaurants for tourist dollars.
The bright green of dampened algae, newly exposed by the lowering tide, sparkled in the sunlight. A Wolf Blas Cabernet led us into two dozen mussels and some Ingonish Chowder, then some wonderful halibut covered in poppyseeds. It starts out high in the headland of Cape Smokey, and meanders downward over hill and dale, through scenery that makes your eyes glad. Some times we would be headed up some steep ascent, with stunning views of a treed vale behind us.
We did rescue some decent coffee from a Tim HortonA•s, before setting onwards towards the Canso Causeway. 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. 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. 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 small blockhouse, similar to the French Castle at Fort Niagara, sits in a levelled depression. 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. We missed the turn off for the A’Queen EA“ and got a tour of the industrial areas of HamiltonA•s waterfront, before finding our way back South. 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 could see several Canadian Coast Guard cutters and a submarine in dry dock, just beyond the walk. It was still sunny and gorgeous out, so we decided to walk down to the Alexander Keith Brewery on Lower Water Street.
Just across the road, sits the A’Old Fish Company and Nautical Museum.A“ It had formerly been a fish processing plant.
We stopped for coffee and sat in the sun,on a small seaside patio, admiring the harbor area and the sparkling turquoise sea.
It features winding seacoast roads that are fun to drive and a visual feast on a sunny day. Finally, we turned into one of the more famous resorts on the Atlantic seashore, The Keltic Lodge. We stopped first in the sitting room and listened to a lone folk singer play mournful ballads. We prepped for the day, packed our bags and had coffee in the room, while watching the morning news shows. We could see steep red bluffs across the bays, then far sea-scapes sparkling in the morning sun. 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 A’wowA“ moments you get when touring, when you come upon fabulous scenery. The wind-swept sea grass and rural character of the area has the appeal of a Wyeth painting.
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. We were glad that we had chosen to explore to day and see the area beyond the borders of the highway. We waved goodbye to a slice of beautiful earth that we might never see again and will always want to return to.
Gentle rolling farm land sprouted clumps of sparse population, amidst the greenery and furrowed fields of farm country.
It was fascinating to think of the titanic surges of ocean water that ran back and forth through here every day. Two rest rooms were also located conveniently for tourists and maintained by a volunteer lighthouse preservation society. 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 returned to the room and read our books, before being carried far away but the sand man. 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.
Blueberries, honey,maple syrup and home made crafts drew in the locals and tourist in droves. It is surrounded by earthen breast works and a series of cannon emplacements that look out on and dominate the entrance to the bay. A wild marsh area sits near the riverside end of the property, for enjoying the avian life that sheltered here.
The U.S Navy A’Blue Angels aerobatic teamA“ were joining a Canadian military air show at the airport. 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. We passed over New England, then followed the South Coast of lake Ontario across all of the cities so familiar to us.
The A’Queen EA“ was loaded with traffic hurrying Southward, to Niagara Falls or Niagara on the Lake, for Saturday night revels. A road runs around the perimeter of the citadel and afford beautiful vistas of Halifax harbor. It is a two-mile stretch, of wooden board walk, that runs from the Casino to the cruise ships docks, just past Morris St.
We walked back along the ocean walk, enjoying the bright warm sun and the deep blue beauty of the ocean beside us.
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.
Then, we side tracked onto Rte # 333, into one of the more storied sights on the coast, PeggyA•s Cove.
At the Cape Breton end of the causeway, a narrow, dredged channel allowes ships of all sizes access to both coasts. We decided that any number of delays were possible on a ferry and took the longer land route around the Bay. It was as pleasing a ride as Big Sur in California, a new and grander vista around every bend.
It features gentle rolling hills, dotted with conical silos and prosperous farms, along the ocean. A tasty spinach salad, then a salmon filet, in dill sauce, was followed by a blueberry glace and great coffee. We could see 35 foot red bluffs out across the river and marveled at such an ebb and flow of water every six hours.
We were nearing the head of the Minas Basin of the Bay, where the tidal drop can swing as much as 53A• in a single day. Students, bums and transients abounded as we walked up Morris and over Queen Streets, to the central shopping district on Spring Garden. We walked back, along Lower Water to Morris, and then to the Halliburton House, to settle in and read. The fortification had been constructed in the mid 1800A•s to protect Haligonians from the A’cantankerous AmericansA“ to the South. It is lined with shops, sailing ships at berth, restaurants, markets and all manner of things that attract tourists. She was a late 19th century fishing fleet vessel and could hold up to 300,000 lbs of cod in her holds. With all of the guide book hype that we had read, we figured this area for a real disappointment. The metal bridge over the channel is one of those swivel bridges that are engineering marvels. It is two lanes, with wild twists and turns, in a Monte Carlo -style, 30 km run through the pine forests. An 18 hole golf course, a condo complex and The Atlantic Restaurant lead into the two-story wooden splendor of the Main lodge.
We retrieved our books and sat out on the lawn, in wooden Adirondack chairs, reading and gazing far out to sea. 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.
An American, from Texas, was speaking with a drawl so heavy we could hardly understand him. Two hundred years of weather had wiped clean the names on the slate gravestones, another lesson of history. 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 enjoyed glasses of Cabernet as we munched on Caesar salads and a delightful A’seafood medleyA“ of halibut, salmon, scallops and shrimp.A“ Coffee and a sinful blueberry and ice cream dessert were wonderful ($134).
We read for a time and then surrendered to the sandman, pleased with a full day in Halifax. The changing times of the day, the different shades of light and shadow would keep him busy forever. We sailed through Eastern NS and arrived at the small town of Antigonish, some two hours later. Then, we were driving along the coast and the views were spectacular, like the big Sur area in California. How they ever got this talented a chef, in a small hamlet like this, is a mystery, but this woman could cook!!
We ambled along, at a much slower pace, enjoying the palliative of the gentle surroundings.
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. The two fish processing plants had closed and much of the remainder of the fleet was headed for the scrap yard.
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 enjoyed some wonderful Ingonish seafood chowder and crab cakes for lunch, on the patio over looking the Bay.
We unpacked our gear, checked the mail and messages and then crashed, tired with the dayA•s travel. 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. We came upon a whole squadron of cyclists tooling along the back roads, in all of their colorful new-era biking gear. It had been an interesting trip, to a land of sea, sky and beauty that we will long remember.
We read some of the interpretive sign-boards, explaining the ebb and flow of the tides, and enjoyed the seascape.
We had to shift our seating, to trim the boatA•s balance, before setting off on our harbor tour. The A’ollies (oldsters) had finally left, so we stopped by Tim HortonA•s for coffee and muffins. We chilled out for a bit and even caught a brief afternoon nap, like Ozzie Nelson, my hero.
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