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Thursday, May 11, 2023

Stroll to Flat Lake

We are camped near Halifax, Nova Scotia, in a community known as Hammonds Plains.  We're here for two days; today was a logistics day to resupply groceries, refill our water tank, dump our waste tanks, and generally recover from yesterday's long, 6-hour drive from Calais, Maine.  Ruby Cat, in particular, enjoyed the chance for multiple walks in our beautiful, wooded campground.

In our shopping, Kathy found a good Asian grocery store, where she stocked up on all sorts of Asian vegetables, spices and condiments.  David found bottles of our favorite Ito En green tea and snapped up 8 of them, as well.  Before shopping, we found a great little mod-diner called Ben & Florentine, where we enjoyed a light breakfast out with a Canadian flavor.

For hundreds of years before the founding of Halifax, the lands encompassing the Hammonds Plains area were occupied by a small group of Mi’Kmaq First Nations peoples, who used the region as their traditional residence and hunting grounds.  The area was established as a settlement for Loyalists in 1786, after the U.S. Revolutionary War.  Now a bedroom community for Halifax, the Hammonds Plains region is rich in small lakes.

With our afternoon free after errands, we looked for a short outing and discovered the Flat Lake Trail just about a mile west of our campground.  As it happens, the trailhead sits just off the parking lot for Vernon's Thunderbird Diner, so called because of the Ford Thunderbird gracing the top of the diner:

On its webpage, the Diner states that it is a business venture conceived in 2007 by Hammonds Plains’ long-standing resident and business owner, Vernon Kynock. He states that it is a way for him to have fun, meet people in his golden years and for there to be a meeting place for people to enjoy amazing and healthy food. It is also a way for Vernon to share his love and enthusiasm for antique cars.

In any event, we were pleased that Vernon also seems to support the trail system next to his diner, which is known -- appropriately enough -- as "Vernon's Trails":

The first attraction we encountered as we started down the trail is an archaeological dig site with the remains of a truck.  The sign states:

These are the remains of the truck as found in 2016-2017 while lot preparation for Vernon's Thunderbird Diner were carried out.  This 1948 International truck was owned by Melvin Eisenhauer.  The Eisenhauer family first came to Hammonds Plains in 1877.  There were many coopers in the village and barrel making was big business.  Barrels were used for storage of goods like apples, sauerkraut and salt meats like cod and beef.  The barrel mills also made wood crates and boxes for goods like soft drinks and cabbages before cardboard and plastic replaced them.  The crates and barrels were loaded on trucks like this to be driven to the city.

We were still absorbing the significance of this truck fossil when we approached a bridge over a small but lively stream that empties Bartlett Lake and Masons Mill Pond, across the road from Vernon's Thunderbird Diner, and in turn feed Flat Lake, which was our objective.  A new bridge had been built over the stream, giving us a chance to pause and admire it:

This was the view upstream from the bridge:

About halfway down to the lake, we encountered a junction of roads and trails.  Luckily, it was graced by a sign explaining which route to take to Flat Lake:

 From here, the trail followed a gravel road --

 -- leading to a boat ramp at Flat Lake:

A lakeside trail worked its way east along the lakeshore from the boat ramp, and we followed it to what looked like an overlook:

Someone had decided to decorate a large boulder at the overlook with a memorial to Blockbuster Video.  It was quite skillfully done, and we wondered what inspired someone to pick that particular topic for casual artwork on this boulder.

Here at the overlook, we had a chance to pause at gaze over the lake, enjoying this Nova Scotia environment of spruce trees, granite boulders and ancient glacial moraine:

We could look back up the lake to the boat ramp where we first arrived at the lake:

We decided to memorialize the hike with a selfy, taken by that mysterious stranger that accompanies us to all the most memorable sites we have visited and who will remain unnamed:

This was a short, 3-mile hike but it was a relaxing way to spend the afternoon before repairing to dinner, more Ruby walks, and preparations for our day in Halifax tomorrow.

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