(April 28 – May 11, 2015)
We are finally underway! The 2 weeks we originally planned to stay at Gary’s parents ended up being almost 4 weeks. Mostly to blame are the hefty colds that we were greeted with upon arrival in Canada, that and a whole lot of „odds and ends“ that we wanted to take care of, which of course ended up taking much longer than we anticipated…
„Josie“ et al
Of the many things on our to-do list (e.g. Table on rear door, mini awning to cover the back door, and the last remaining equipment to purchase) the one that gave us the biggest headache was „how do we attach our propane tank to the car?“ By that I don’t mean the little camping propane canisters but a refillable 5 lbs tank, one that would be best stored outside, aside from the fact that there isn’t any room in the car. The main decision to buy a refillable tank was that the small propane canisters would end up being too expensive in the long run, that and produce a lot of garbage. Since just about everyone (to my amazement) stores their tanks outside on their camper trailers we thought it wouldn’t be too difficult to find some kind of holder for our tank, at least so we thought. After a rather exhaustive Internet search and checking out various camper suppliers in Dartmouth the only thing available would be to have a custom holder welded for us for $250! That would buy a heck of a lot of throwaway propane canisters, if we were to ignore all the garbage it would produce! The solution to our canister problem ended up being in Gary’s mothers’ kitchen in the form of a perfect fitting old Aluminum pot that we could bolt to our roof rack. „You can have the pot only if you write ‚Josie’ on it“, said Garys mother, „That used to belong to your grandmother and she would have been thrilled to see it travel the world with you.” So we now have a heirloom pot named „Josie“ on our roof rack carrying our refillable propane tank.
Nova Scotia’s South Shore
So now that we were finally ready to leave we headed southwest along the coast with temperatures nearing the freezing point and flurries. But since we had planned, as our fist stop, a visit with our friends Matthew and Brenda (also to finally see their newly built off-grid house near Peggys Cove) the weather didn’t bother us in the least. We had a wonderful evening sitting in front of the fireplace with lots of wine, awesome food and guitar playing by Gary and Matthew.
Although the sun wasn’t shining when we got up the next morning, the weather had improved quite a bit from the flurries the day before allowing us enjoy the drive along the coastal route.
Kejimkujik Seaside National Park
For our first real camp we decided to visit the Kejimkujik Seaside National Park. The park was still closed for the season, but we could still camp on the parking lot and the next morning, without having to pay any entry fees, we got to enjoy a hike along the beautiful wild beaches. We even got to see some Seals! (To be exact: Gary spotted the seals, I would have simply walked by without seeing a thing) For Gary, being Canadian and all, it was nothing too special but I was totally excited, our first hike and we get to see these amazing animals! We also met a porcupine that was clearly surprised to see visitors to the park so early in the year.
King size is just big enough for us
Thanks to our Webasto air heater even when the weather is crappy outside we are still quite comfortable; and for cosy nights we have our super king sized duvet, which has its own story: During our honeymoon we decided to test out the Landy and found that sleeping bags are not particularly romantic. So we thought a duvet similar to what we have on our bed at home, except bigger and thicker, would be the perfect solution. It just so happened that just before we left Germany we stumbled upon a 4-season duvet and were rather impressed by its relatively small size (mind you it was still factory packed). But after unpacking it, and putting a new duvet cover on it we realized that the monster of a duvet wasn’t going to fit anywhere in the Landy. It’s not enough that we already have a storage problem, no, now we also have this gigantic blanket as a “luxury problem”. The first time we tried it out in the car we both had to laugh; the duvet took up so much room in the car there was hardly any place for us! But after the first night it was clear to us that it was the right choice to bring it, even with the near freezing temperatures we were warm and cozy under our king-sized duvet. So now it’s rolled up as tight as we can get it and is on our couch. We’ve decided to accept the extra work to roll it up as well as the space it takes up on the couch for the comfort that it provides.
The Toilet Problem
During this time of year it’s not particularly easy to find a suitable spot for us to camp for the night. Just about everything is closed for the season and most of the potential spots e.g. Provincial Park, has either a gate or a “No Camping” sign to greet us with. Even if we wanted to pay for a camping spot we couldn’t since most of them don’t open until the middle of May. Parking lots e.g Walmart or similar that a lot of campers use are for the most part useless to us since we are missing a very important piece of equipment in our Landy. We don’t have a toilet. Which means we either need a spot with a toilet or at the very least one with a bush, most of which aren’t available on well lighted parking lots, and who wants show their butts under the bright lights of a street lamp?
So we often had to spend quite a bit of time looking for an appropriate spot, luckily on a day where we had absolutely no luck we were allowed to park at a still closed Campground for the night, we were even given the key to the rec-room so we could use the toilets :) Thanks Klahanie Kamping!
Moncton – a hint of summer
We had planned a little side trip after our trip around the southern part of Nova Scotia, to Moncton, New Brunswick to visit Gary’s sisters, who conveniently live just a few kms away from each other. We had just arrived when we noticed something very strange happening to our thermometer, it was actually climbing above 10, and it went all the way up to 20! Finally we could wear shorts and eat ice cream –ha! It was beginning to get pretty frustrating with all the messages and photos from Germany with people dressed in summer clothes enjoying a picnic or going to the beer garden, and to see only single digits on the thermometer or even minus temps here.
We also got to meet up again with Betty and Beat (www.reisefriedli.ch); they are also on a grand adventure planning to circumnavigate the globe. We first met up with them in Halifax and were quite happy to be able to meet up with them again so soon. We sparked up the grill and sat around in shorts and t-shirts taking photos of each other to record the fact that we could sit around in t-shirts and bare feet!
Cape Breton – Iona Coziness, horrible roads and good food
With a few days of being spoiled by the weather and Kathleen and Paulines good cooking we headed off towards Cape Breton – with a batch of Kathleens super tasty Brownies!
Along the way we camped at a really nice picnic spot near Tatamagouche. We even got a visit from some mosquitoes; summer can’t be too far away now we thought… but our taste of summer lasted only until we crossed the causeway onto Cape Breton. We were met by an icy northeasterly wind and a chilly 7 degrees as we stopped to take a few photos of the ice floe bunched up along the causeway. We were quite thankful that we got the keys to Marys (a friend of Garys mother) cottage on Iona. Thanks again Mary! We spent a wonderful relaxing few days in Gillis point enjoying peace and quiet and the cozy warmth of a wood stove.
It was interesting for us to get to visit the Canadian Iona. We were on the island of Iona in Scotland and feel somehow there again as the street signs are Gaelic as well as English, and just about everyone is a “Mac”. We are currently staying at a Mac Neil.
A particular “attraction” of Iona, we soon found out, is the roads! Apparently they have been voted the worst roads in all of Nova Scotia, two years in a row! We decided to take our mountain bikes to tour around and were quite glad that we had them with us! They weren’t exaggerating the quality of the roads that’s for sure. Since starting our adventure we have seen some really bad roads but these are particularly “special”. The locals have even designed some funny post cards that you can buy to send to the government so that they finally do something. From what we have heard it hasn’t made too much of an impact. Though if they continue to win the “worst road” award maybe it will become a tourist attraction….
When Mary gave us the keys to her cottage she told us that if we are here on a Friday to make sure we check out the Royal Canadian Legion, they have a supper every Friday where the food is good and the portions are healthy. Not only did we have a really tasty supper we were even treated to some Maritime Folk music and met whole bunch of really interesting people – a really great evening all in all.
We are now enjoying our last evening here before we head off tomorrow for the ferry to Newfoundland. Gary is playing on his “new” (used) Washburn Rover travel guitar (anything bigger won’t fit), I’m writing the blog entry, and Betty the neighbor just popped in for a cup of tea with homemade biscuits :) It really is wonderful to be here.