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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Going Like a Pro on Shortts Lake

Hi Blog!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018, was our first full day at the Scotia Pine Campground. We are located north of Halifax and south of Truro on the east side of the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia. We will be in this area for a couple weeks. We have plans to fly back to Philadelphia next weekend to visit family. We also hope to see the famous bore tide on the Bay of Fundy.

We've been toying with the idea of getting a GoPro for several years. Well, we finally did it. This afternoon, we took our new GoPro video camera out on Shortts Lake for a test drive. Unfortunately, the headgear that goes with the GoPro wont's be in until Tuesday. Dave used an old headlamp and duct taped the video camera to the base. We are ready to roll footage!

With Dave in charge of video, Kathy was tasked with manning the still camera. Most folks don't realize that Dave takes 95% of the photos that appear in this blog. Today was Kathy's chance to let her inner Ansel Adams shine through!

Shortts Lake is completely ringed with lake front cottages. The first cottage was built in 1904. Shortts Lake is three-and-a-half miles long and a mile wide, and at one time it had been known as Otterson's Lake. However, the name change occurred when Francis Shortt arrived from Ireland in 1911 and started a grist mill at the lake's north end.

Rather than video the entire paddle, Dave took short video bursts. By the time we were done, we had over 20 different videos. The limits of our campground internet won't let us upload them all, so we picked one of the fun ones to share with you. To see how the locals do it, click this link.

In the meantime, Kathy was busy cruising the shoreline looking for likely subjects.

While some properties were immaculately landscaped, others had a more natural feel to them.

Dave has Kathy in his cross hairs! Lookout - he's shooting!

As we paddled about, we kept one eye on the sky. Now that we are in full summer, the chance of afternoon thunderstorms are always a possibility. It's no fun being two miles from the boat launch with thunderheads approaching.

With so much of the lake shore developed, we were surprised to see a number of geese and ducks. They apparently like to hang out on the docks and swimming platforms. These two were nibbling in the shallows.

Every property had some sort of boat. We saw speed boats, fishing boats, pontoon boats, canoes, kayaks, paddle boards, giant floaty things, but this swan took best of show.

Just one more flower photo!

It's always fun to discover another lighthouse.

We are looking forward to taking our GoPro for a bike ride tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Eddie and George Wake Up in Scotia Pines

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Stepping Back in Time in Historic Sherbrooke Village

Who is this man?  Why is he wanted? --

-- and why is he in jail?

The story starts early this morning when we set off on a drive north on the Eastern Coast of Nova Scotia from Spry Bay to Sherbrooke to visit Historic Sherbrooke Village.  On the way, we spotted some colorful Nova Scotia seacoast houses --

-- and we had a chance to drive through the world-famous Ecum Secum which, to our surprise, didn't appear to have many buildings:

Our drive took us through the harbor at Lipscomb, where we saw some derelicts from the height of the fishing era:

Eventually, we arrived at Sherbrooke.  We crossed the St. Mary River and found our way to the historic village.

Sherbrooke Village has approximately 80 homes and buildings that were built over a 50 year period, starting in 1860. Costumed interpreters recreate life as it was in 1867, during Sherbrooke’s golden years.  ALL of the buildings are original, and ALL (except one barn) are still standing in their original location.  Together they formed the heart of the town when gold mining, fishing and forestry were at their height and Sherbrooke was a much more populous town.  At its height, the town was home to over 1200 people.  Today it is home to only about 300 people.  

As a result of population declines, the heart of the village emptied, and buildings lay empty.  In 1969, Nova Scotia Province established the historic village as a living museum to depict life in the 1800's.  It is presently administered as part of the Nova Scotia Museum.

Our first view of the village shows it just as it might have looked at its height:

Some of the buildings, while intriguing architecturally, have not yet been restored or open to the public, but they complete our picture of what the village must have looked like in its heyday:

A number of the houses are still privately occupied.  Here, Kathy admires a garden at one house that is filled with beautiful daylilies:

There are a number of buildings restored to their original function as post office, printery, tailors and general store.  We got a peek into the back storage room of the general store:

We particularly liked the gingerbread decoration on Greenwood Cottage, which was built in 1871 by one of the more prosperous residents of the town:

Re-enactors and demonstrators helped us understand many of the buildings, their uses and significance.  One of the most interesting was the blacksmith shop --

-- where re-enactors actually forge metal items for sale in the village "Company Store," or gift shop.  Here, Kathy holds a small brass bell that the blacksmiths in the background have forged and are finishing off with a brass fixture for hanging.  It has been made to order for someone to purchase:

The boat shop is occupied by someone who makes wood chainsaw sculptures.  We particularly liked the twin eagles and the shimmering mermaid:

Around back, the Cruickshank Barn houses farm animals, and Kathy had a chance to get up close and personal with the floppy eared Nubian goats:

The Eastern Coast has spectacular scenery, which we enjoyed as much as we could on our hour's drive each way to Sherbrooke, but, truthfully, with the heavy coastal fog that covers this area in July, we didn't get to see (or give you photos of) the most spectacular bays, coves, inlets and rivers.  Just take our word for it that this is a strikingly beautiful part of Nova Scotia.  We have one more day here, so there is a chance we'll get to see some more of it, but, with the foggy weather, we're not holding our breath.

Oh, yes, and the answers to the questions about the criminal at the beginning of this blog entry?  He was pictured on a wanted poster printed in the Sherbrooke printery, tried in a courthouse in Sherbrooke, and jailed in a jail occupied by the town's prisoners AND the jailer and the jailer's family.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Paddling Mushaboom Bay

Hi Blog!

We are getting to know the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia. It is less populated and less touristy than the nearby South Shore. There are many small villages and empty beaches to explore. One aspect of the Eastern Shore that we didn't count on was fog. During the summer months, when the warm south winds blow over the cold Labrador current, the resulting fog rolls in along the beach fronts. Foggy conditions can last as long as two weeks. Seeing as we only have six days here, we can't wait it out.

On Friday, July 27, 2018, we decided to launch the kayaks and explore the small islands of Mushaboom Harbour. The name Mushaboom is a shortened form of the Mi'kmaq word Moosaboon-elagwaak which means "a pile of hair". If you look closely at the rocks in Mushaboom Harbour you can see long strands of seaweed which resembles long flowing hair.

Taylor Head Provincial Park is just a few kilometers down the road from our campground. There are two different beaches. The first one, Bull Beach, is rocky and remote. The long walk from the car park makes it hard to launch the kayaks. However, if you were a beachcomber, you would have plenty of places to explore.

We opted to launch from Taylor Head Beach. The boardwalk made carrying the kayaks much easier.

Once on the beach, Kathy couldn't wait to get paddling!

Low tide exposed lots of rock island to explore. The incoming tide made for interesting current channels around the rocks.

There were a few brave souls enjoying a long walk on the foggy beach.

The rocky point of Taylor Head juts out into the Atlantic Ocean. There are numerous islands out in the bay. We were hoping to paddle around Pyches Island.

In order to reach the island's sandy shores, we had to cross the The Bights. Rolling swells lifted our tiny boats and dropped them back again.

It was a mad dash to reach calm water and sandy shore.

We had our own private island to explore. 

Using the materials at hand, Mother Nature creates another amazing work of art.

With the Atlantic Ocean pounding heavily on the far side of the island, we decided to head back across The Bights and explore the Mushaboom. We saw some locals hanging out and decided to pay them a visit.

Apparently, double-crested cormorants are not very social. However, Mr. Gull stayed and chatted as we paddled by.

As we worked our way along the beach from Taylor Head to Bull Head, David thought he heard either an eagle or osprey. However, we couldn't see where the calls were coming from. It wasn't until our return trip that the osprey nest was revealed. When we first approached, parent and child were sitting in the nest. The adult let out an alarm, the chick ducked down and the other adult mate came zooming back to the nest to assist in defense.  Don't worry, Mr. and Mrs. Osprey, we mean no harm.  Once our kayaks passed, the parental screeching stopped and the osprey quit buzzing us.

We were surprised to see a few private homes in the Provincial Park. We can only assume they were grandfathered in when this area first became a park.

While we never did see the sun today, the gray lighting made for some interesting photographs.

Kathy takes one last circle around the Mushaboom. Just ignore those people walking on here paddle!

It was our first time kayaking in our open boats near open ocean. It made for some exciting paddling, especially with the cross-current waves plowing in through The Bights and between a number of islands on the outer edge of the bay. Until next time, stay thirsty my friends.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Pedalling the Salt Marsh Trail

Well, here we are at Spry Bay, on the "Eastern Shore" of Nova Scotia, which is really the southeast coast.  We left Cape Breton Island and headed west, and we're about an hour away from Halifax, which is the area where we will stay beginning next week.

We plan a paddle here, but we've recently done that, so we searched for a bike trail, and were lucky enough to find one in nearby Cole Harbour.  We thought we would like a long, straight rails-to-trails out across the salt marsh!

As we drove, David was on the lookout for churches, lighthouses and decrepit or fancifully decorated buildings.  Just like vitamins, one a day of each of these can do no harm.  At least he found an unique church:

David got a bonus photo from the drive, when we encountered this giant Inuksuk perched out on a spit on a foggy harbor:

By the time we got to Cole Harbour, it was already lunchtime, so we found a highly rated Jamaican restaurant, Jamaican Vibes, where we ordered some curried chicken and mutton, with some cardamom-spiced rice.  That little lunch fueled our bike motors for the afternoon journey!

Here's David at the start of the Salt March Trail.  In fact, we pedalled 2 km to get to this point, from the top of Cole Harbour Heritage Park, along the Trans-Canada Trail as it passes through this area:

Within the first kilometer of our ride, we spotted a sight we've never seen before -- squirrel houses!

They were clearly designed for the furry-tailed little critters, because they had no front like a birdhouse.  We could only imagine that the little perches offer them sanctuary from the many puppies that walk along this trail.

It wasn't but another kilometer before we caught our first view of the salt marshes:

In one section of the estuary, we counted three great blue heron hunting in near proximity to each other and the trail.  This seems unusual to us, because these heron are such solitary creatures.  Maybe the food was so plentiful that they felt no competition.  Here's one of them --

-- and here another:

Summer is in full bloom here in Nova Scotia, and the primrose in particular are out in force.  These primrose bushes graced the edge of the trail.  The estuarial meadows were a brilliant, rich green:

Here's a look down the trail as it crossed the salt marsh:

The wide, open marshes were interspersed with boggy, more vegetated areas:

As we neared our turnaround point, the fog started rolling in, as it always does.  Our first day in our campground, the fog must have rolled in and through at least five different times.

We could have continued our bike ride miles further along the Atlantic View Trail, which connects with the Salt Marsh Trail and offers splendid views of the Atlantic Ocean to the southeast, and numerous barachois to the northwest on the other side of the trail.  But there were to be no views today with all the fog.  So we reluctantly turned around in favor of getting back to our campground in time to build a campfire.

It felt good to get out on our bicycles again after quite a hiatus.  We're hoping to find a few more good bike trails as we head across Nova Scotia.