As the plane banked, circling in preparation for landing, I peered out the
small window for my first good look at Nova Scotia.
Down below, I was surprised at the amount of green and blue. Forests of
spruce and pine trees were spread out in a luxuriant blanket and everywhere,
there were ponds, streams, lakes, and bodies of water. It isn’t surprising that
Dartmouth, now a part of Halifax, has been nicknamed “city of lakes.”
Last summer, I spent five days in Nova Scotia.
Located on the very opposite end of the country from where I spent my
childhood, it was a province I always wanted to see.
I went mid-summer, in July, and stayed with my aunt and uncle in a house
so close to the ocean the sound of waves breaking against the rocky shore
lulled me to sleep at night. Their house was a hop, skip and a jump from
Lawrencetown Beach and even on rainy days, there was usually someone
bobbing in the water, swimming or surfing or para-sailing.
Physical activity was a way of life and it seemed everyone went walking,
hiking, biking or surfing.
My first evening in Nova Scotia, I went for an after dinner walk with my
aunt and uncle. A short jaunt down the paved road and we were at the trail
that led to Lawrencetown beach. In the opposite direction, was a path that
led up a grassy bluff. Even in July, the air was cool and fresh, scented with a
heady mixture of bay leaves, pine needles and a hint of salt air.
It felt like home.
Wild roses thrived beside the path and in the marshy flats, cattails waved on
tall stalks. Once at the top of the hill, we had a clear view of the ocean and
the pebbly beach far below. Every year those persistent waves erode a little
more of the cliffs, carving out chunks of land one piece at a time until giant
boulders tumble into the water.
The trail we walked goes for miles. Called the Trans Canada Trail, it runs
along the ocean, meandering beside water and marshes, over a bridge,
across roads and nearly through people’s backyards. I went for a long bike
ride on the Trans Canada one afternoon, over a path that switched from
packed dirt to loose gravel and that passed under open skies and then down
shady, tree-lined trails. It was a beautiful ride and one of my favorite parts
of the trip. I passed by people chopping wood in their back yards and my
aunt and I stopped and talked with a woman with a delightful accent who
talked about the “black beers” that wander up in people’s yards in search of
food. I didn’t know this at the time, but the Trans Canada Trail was
developed and promoted by a non-profit organization and is one of the
world’s longest networks of trails. There is already 17,000 kilometers of trail
developed (about 10,500 miles) and more planned. When it’s done, it will
connect the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans.
We spent one afternoon walking along the Halifax harbor, threading our
way through the crowds and poking in touristy little shops. Out on the
water, tall ships were docked, white sails folded like wings, rigging creaking
with the swell of waves. I stood and took pictures of the beautiful ships and
looked into harbor water as green as jade. After we tired of the crowds, we
wandered through a pretty park and along sidewalks in downtown Halifax. I
love the way the city has preserved its charming old buildings, converting
them into coffee shops and clothing stores. This province has history and it
is displayed in its architecture. One of my uncles lives on a quiet street in
Halifax in a 100 year house he and his wife had restored. All the houses on
the street are beautiful and narrow and sit side by side. Inside, there are
golden hardwood floors, tall ceilings and the weight of history in the walls.
One of the must-see sights in Nova Scotia is Peggy’s Cove, a popular tourist
destination. Little fishermen’s houses, colorful as a bag of candy, dotted he
hillside, while lobster traps sat in piles on the shore and boats bleached in
the sun, hulls facing outward. The main feature of the cove is the pretty, red-
capped lighthouse perched on a jumble of giant rocks near the ocean. The
wind is ferocious and even in mid-summer, I wore a light jacket. We
scrambled over rocks, some black and slick with salt water, so I could take
photos and see the ocean up close.
Even from many feet away I felt the spray from the waves on my face. Get
too close and you’re likely to be swept into the turbulent ocean, never to be
seen again. The power of the ocean was awe-inspiring The drive to Peggy’s
Cove is worth the trip. Smaller coves are tucked away everywhere, framed
by stunning views of pine and spruce trees and blue water. Picturesque
boats are pulled up on shore while sea gulls flutter overhead.
Five days in Nova Scotia didn’t seem to do the place justice and I’d like to
return and see more of this pretty province. Just one more thing to add to my
ever-growing travel list!