Nova Scotia

Peggy's Cove and Swissair Flight 111 Memorial, Nova Scotia

When flipping through Nova Scotia travel magazines or browsing their tourism website you are sure to come across an image or two of the Peggy's Cove lighthouse.  This picturesque landmark is iconic and instantly recognizable.  In the summer months, the rocks and village are crowded with tourists but in the winter it is quiet and peaceful. The sun shone bright as we explored the area and catnapped in a warm, secluded and wind-free batch of rocks.

About a kilometre down the road from Peggy's Cove is the Swissair Flight 111 memorial, which was erected in memory of the 229 people who died when the flight crashed into the ocean 8km from shore. The three notches on the stone monument represent the flight numbers.  Another stone monument was placed in memory of all the volunteers who worked tirelessly after the disaster during the recovery effort.

Exploring a Nova Scotia beach

Nova Scotia's greatest treasures includes the numerous beaches that dot the shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean.  The vast shorelines provide a quiet and peaceful place for long walks, exploration and treasure hunting. In summer the beaches are rarely crowded and in winter you'll likely have the beach all to yourself.  There's no better way to get away from it all!

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Gaff Point at Hirtle's Beach, Nova Scotia

The south shore of Nova Scotia is a fantastic place to visit for outdoor enthusiasts - even in the winter months.  There are so many different places to visit and spend time outdoors - beaches, hiking trails, historic sites and parks.

One of our favourite places is Hirtle's Beach, which is also the start and end point of the Gaff Point Trail, a seven kilometre trail that meanders along the beach and through forests along Hartling Bay.

Hiking in the winter is always an adventure. You never know what the trail conditions will throw at you.  Our hike began along the rocky shoreline, accompanied by sunshine and the sound of crashing waves. Once in the forest, many sections were covered in deep snow, some of it firm and easy to walk on but in areas where the sunshine had warmed the surface, it was wet and soft and easy to sink in thigh deep.  I'm certain I fell through and down more times on that hike than in the rest of my years combined. The snow, at least, was a soft cushion.

The views, as you can see below, were spectacular.  Old man's beard hung from the trees in the forest and and a thick carpet of red covered the ground in exposed areas.  Icicles dripped from rock faces and ribbons of shale stood exposed to the elements, evidence of the prehistoric.

No hike at Gaff Point would be complete without a pastry and hot drink from LaHave Bakery on the way home.

Photo credit: Lillian

Photo credit: Lillian

Photo credit: Lillian

Photo credit: Lillian

Photo credit: Lillian

A walk along the Atlantic

It's hard to believe that it has been almost two years since the little house on the Atlantic was packed up and the keys handed over to the new owners.  I have a feeling this post is going to make my parents and siblings all a bit sad - so many memories of times spent together at this enchanting place, exploring, relaxing and getting away from the busyness of life. Not to mention the delicious combination of salty air, crashing waves and screaming seabirds. There's a lot to miss! 

Our last walk along the shoreline of the property wasn't very long, perhaps a handful of kilometres, but we took our time and enjoyed the gorgeous scenery and sparkling sunshine.

Read about our drive to Nova Scotia here and our final polar dip in the Atlantic here.

Polar dip in the Atlantic

Early April. More than a foot of snow covers the ground. The temperature has dropped well below freezing. The sun struggles to peak through dark skies and a winter storm hovers, not certain whether it's coming or going. The tide is rolling in and the waves roil and crash.

But...

The sauna is hot - and that means only one thing - it's time for the first swim of the year.

Photos from our drive out to Nova Scotia are here.

Driving East

Day One - Ontario to New Brunswick

Easter weekend 2015. After a last minute decision and a flurry of activity, we were off to Nova Scotia, or NS, as we like to call it. The little house by the ocean had a special place in our hearts. So many wonderful memories of times spent there with family and friends. Now, however, it was time to say goodbye as Mom and Dad had sold the property.

The sun rises over a sleepy Toronto (photo credit: Lillian)

There were three of us in the car. Others had gone the week before and were eagerly awaiting our arrival. At the start of the trip we had agreed to play a game - one iPhone photo per person per hour on the road - a picture that showed where we were or what was happening at that moment. 

Day One iPhone Pics

Driving through Quebec was incredible. The sun shone and we rolled down the windows - it was that warm.

There is a spot along the St. Lawrence river where we always take a quick break and it did not disappoint. The scenery was as epic as ever but the lighting took our breath away. Dark blue storm clouds with sunshine peeking through turned the grasses to gold. 

Day Two - New Brunswick to Nova Scotia

We woke up the next morning to an unpleasant sight - a snowstorm had moved in overnight.  The positively spring-like weather of the previous day had been replaced with frigid winds and thickly falling snow. Oh Canada.

The highway was empty except for a few random cars and a single snowplow. Having worried incessantly the previous day about keeping the winter tires on for such a long trip, we were increasingly grateful for them.

Day Two iPhone Pics

We knew the East Coast was still under a mountain of snow. The first sign of the sheer amount of it was first evident at the Nova Scotia Welcome Centre - the snow banks were huge! 

Do not enter (photo credit: Laurence)

As we continued east, the snowbanks grew in size and encroached on the roads. Three times we turned right and ended up in random parking lots because we couldn't see the signs for the piles of snow.  The people of NS, the entire east coast for that matter, had been experiencing a brutal winter. One for the books, in fact, and it didn't look like the snow was going anywhere fast.