During our trip to Florida, we went on the hunt for alligators and found one at the Wakodahatchee wetlands. Can I just say that the dark, still waters and forests dripping in Spanish moss are a bit scary? I mean, who knows what is lurking beneath those lily pads and high up in the trees. Be that as it may, it was still gorgeous and so much fun to explore.
Florida was a pleasant surprise! I’d never really thought about traveling there - it was never on my list of places to visit - but an opportunity arose to drive down with a friend for a short vacation last winter. With my sister along for the ride, we arrived two days later and a strange thing happened. I relaxed. As we approached the house and pulled out the key to open the door, I looked around and my breath eased out. Tension seeped out of my shoulders and all the stresses of life disappeared. The warmth of the Florida sun was heavenly and the magic of a new unknown place to explore was exhilarating.
Within moments of our arrival I mused to the others that I now understood why Canadians fled to warmer climes during the winter months. I mean, sunshine and sundresses, ice cream and seabirds, swimming in warm waters and walks on the pier in the middle of winter? When everyone back home was enduring -20 degree temperatures and digging out from yet another winter snowstorm, we were sleeping with the windows open to allow the sea breezes in and eating dinner outdoors surrounded by palm trees, skittering lizards and fragrant flowers.
And though the reality of winter would be ours again in seven days, I learned the immeasurable value of a week of summer in the middle of winter and was determined to enjoy every minute of those seven days of summer!
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.
It's probably time for an update on the new house...
The snows came and went throughout late fall and early winter as the house moved closer to completion. The floor heat went in and the concrete was poured. The roof was finished and many of the smaller windows and doors arrived and were installed. The big glass doors, which appear to have been heavy, were carefully lifted into place. The porch was built during several unseasonably warm November days. The house was insulated and drywall put up. And although the weather changed almost daily, progress moved steadily forward.
Photo credit goes to Gary and Lillian.
In Canada, we get to experience many sunny winter days when it seems that the colder the temperatures outside, the brighter the sun seems to shine as though to make up for the freezing weather. But then there are days when the clouds hang low and the world becomes monochrome - black, white and shades of gray. Well, perhaps there are some colours but they all seem muted by the heaviness of the atmosphere.
However, that doesn't stop us from heading outside to enjoy a bit of sledding, an activity that you need to do at least once every winter.
For further images of our sledding adventures, visit here.
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!
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.