Friday, August 30, 2013

Day 44: The North Coast of Nova Scotia

This is the kind of country where if you can catch a sun break, your day is made. It was cold and windy this morning when we left Dartmouth to explore the north coast of Nova Scotia. Dan said, "I've heard that they have milder weather up there."

Halifax to Annapolis Royal and Digby
The north coast is on the Bay of Fundy, so it is sheltered from the Atlantic and its winds. The sky was heavy while we drove Northwest for about an hour, but when we turned west and drove parallel to the coast, the sky was blue and the clouds were merely decorative. Our spirits soared. The country was beautiful—a lot like the rural parts of Oregon, with a combination of forest and agriculture. The forest is mixed and short, but there are some huge grain fields. The land is laced with waterways—rivers, and bays, and lakes shaped like rivers; it's pretty hard to tell what is what. Some of the rivers are muddy and red, but in general the Bay of Fundy is more blue here than on the coast of New Brunswick.

Our first destination was the town of Annapolis Royal. There, our first objective was lunch. We chose Bistro East. My salad consisted of a variety of bitter weeds with strawberries and blueberries, and dressed with hair-frizzing vinaigrette; absolutely the worse combinations of flavors I've ever had in a salad; my mouth felt like I had lunched on dill pickles. Dan was happy with his local scallops wrapped in bacon. Scallops are what the area is famous for.

What I liked about Annapolis Royal was the boardwalk along the shore of the Annapolis River which empties into the Bay of Fundy. The river's tidal action fascinated me. 

Boardwalk at Annapolis Royal
The tide was going out when we got there, low enough to expose black rocks as well as mud, and to make a wide shoreline. 
The tide is low and going out
At this location, the tidal change is about 26 feet. On a dock is a clock and a meter to show high and low tide, but it is hard to figure out.

We hung around the dock and Dan took photos of the small ship repair operation.

Low tide at the ship repair dock

While I was standing at the end of the dock watching the water, I sensed a sort of confusion in the water, and then I felt the tide withdrawing. I was uncertain at first, but I found a meter showing that low tide had just past, and soon it was obvious that the water was higher and bluer. What a kick!

Rising tide 
The town has a lot of history, dating back to British colonization, and some nice old buildings, but we didn't really get into all that. We did have a quick walk around Fort Anne. It's ironic that old forts often become peaceful and pleasant places. This one was shaped with grassy ramparts that gave pleasant views of the bay; picnic tables were stationed under huge dark trees.

The next objective was to visit Digby, a fishing port famous for its scallops, about a half hour farther west. In Digby we were surprised to encountered thousands of motorcycles and their riders lining the streets; we discovered that they were gathering for the Wharf Rats Rally this week-end. There were places to register and pick up info. The shops and eateries had signs welcoming them. They seemed like a pretty tame bunch, but there were sure a lot of them and the sound of revving motorcycles is not one of my favorites, especially en masse. 

A traffic director pointed us toward the wharf, and we managed to find a place to park. A grated metal catwalk with rope handrails enabled us to descend to the dock. A couple of rock bands were playing at the same time at bars on the shore. It was quite fun. The breeze was pleasant; the sky was blue; excitement and community was in the air. But it wasn't our community, and we soon buzzed out of there. Anyway, it was almost 5 p.m. and we had a couple of hours of driving to do.

Determined not to drive in the dark, 
Dan sped east on the 101 highway in the afternoon's last light and made it back to Dartmouth in 2 hours and 15 minutes: 7:15.

At the hotel's restaurant I was able to get the waitress and the chef to work with me to get a nice meal. The chef pan-fried the haddock in butter for me, instead of breading and deep-frying it; it was local, fresh, and fabulous. I specified the appropriate salad ingredients and ranch dressing; it came out great. I felt soothed.