Summer’s Last Hurrah: In Atlantic Canada

Well it’s a long time overdue, but here is the first installment of the much talked about journey north. With school having started it has taken me a little time to reestablish my routines and get my bearings for a new academic campaign. So here it is. Also, I would just like to thank everyone who clicks in now and again, for last month more people vistied Fritzwinkle than ever before. You all are the best. I’ll try to keep things interesting and more current now that the lull has passed.

With the last official weekend prior to the start of the new school year and with it new job for me, I made good on a promise to take a vacation with my sweetheart. The prerequisites were simple enough, it had to be someplace we had never been, it had to be just the two of us, and had to involve no family whatsoever. With that in mind, I booked us on a trip to the North Country.

Together we packed up the car and headed north to Maine, someplace I certainly had never been, with Bangor the destination for an overnight stay. It was just a pit stop on our way to the port of Bar Harbor, in Acadia National Park, where we drove right onto high-speed ferry, The Cat. In a mere three hours we found our way across the sea and awaiting entry into Canada; then tooling around Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. From there it was the long and winding way up the east coast of Atlantic Canada on what was dubbed the Lighthouse Route, which had surprisingly fewer lighthouses than one might imagine.

Photo: The Cat's Wake

However, The Cat is definitely worth a robust recommendation first. This is one impressive vessel. I had previously taken some ferries in other parts of the country, most notably a different voyage into Canada, only that time on the west coast to Vancouver Island, although I don’t remember that ferry being as impressive. This catamaran cut through the water with impressive speed. The wake of the beast displaces enough water to fill an Olympic sized pool every thirty seconds. The picture above doesn’t quite do it justice, but believe me it is remarkable. Complete with multiple food venues, two simultaneous onboard films, duty-free shops, and a stunning open view all the way around the enclosed deck, there isn’t much they haven’t contemplated in setting up this service. If you’re headed to Nova Scotia, I can think of no better way to go.

Photo: A Nova Scotia Road

Once we got to Yarmouth we started were immediately on the lookout for a local food haunt. Aside from the fast food joints packed near the port, there are remarkably few restaurants once outside of Yarmouth. It gets pretty rural pretty fast (as the shot of the road attests), once outside the city limits. So we wandered around the Acadian region and managed to stumble upon an eatery that became progressively more hopping with locals, almost immediately after we arrived. The food was good, but it was the strange mix of English and Acadian French that was in the air that was most fascinating. Better still, an extremely nice gentleman that had met us on the way in, checked in on us and educated us on some small details and local color. The Acadians are a fascinating cultural phenomenon, about which I knew almost nothing previously.

Photo: Fishing Boats

Photo: Windmills Across the Bay

From there it didn’t take long to find our first lighthouse in a small fishing village, which we thought a promising omen. Better still was the field of windmills churning across the inner bay, giving the whole area a kind of elegance with its industry. We found a couple more soon thereafter, but then things took a decided turn away from the relative ease we were experiencing. Although ease might be a bit of an overstatement, considering it took the better part of the day to make our way past those three beacons. Before we knew it we had to head toward the highway and get to our first night’s accommodations. Of course, any of you that have been north have to familiar with the great chain, Tim Horton’s. I have to admit we managed a couple of stops the first day, before turning in for the evening.

Photo: Tim Horton's Sign Photo: First Lighthouse in Lower Nova Scotia

Photo: Second Pseudo-Lighthouse in Lower Nova Scotia Photo: Third Lighthouse in Lower Nova Scotia

Our first night was at the Oak Island Resort, a reasonably swanky spa and resort sort of in the middle of nowhere. It was an extremely nice accommodation. It was too bad that we had so little time to spend there. Had we arrived earlier, I am sure we could have found it even more enjoyable than we did. Get a look of the view from the main deck, in the background is Mahone Bay which is home to a host of exquisite towns radiating along its coast, including the well-known Lunenburg, but more on that later.