Sunday, July 4, 2010

We Can’t Get Enough of the Great Outdoors

July 3, 2010

A day in Canada can't get much better than this:

We woke to sunshine and a bright blue sky at Old Riverside Lodge, our favorite Bed and Breakfast of the trip. Connie Ellis worked here as a teenager when it was a fish camp. When it came up for sale, she and her husband Alf bought it, and spent five years renovating it into a very comfortable country estate B&B with exceptionally generous sized guest rooms and luxurious amenities. We were the only guests, and enjoyed our breakfast in front of the dining room picture window overlooking terraced lawn and garden spaces, and what appeared to be a great fishing pool in the river beyond.

After breakfast we were off to the Mosquodoboit Rail Trail, where we spent a couple sunny shirtsleeve weather hours riding 18 miles, with frequent stops to admire river, lake, pond, and bog views, and to read interpretive signs about the plants and animals we might see on the trail.

We stopped at one sign about snapping turtles, got back on our bicycles, and almost ran over one that was no more than ten feet from the sign, laying her eggs in soft sand at the edge of the trail. She opened here shocking pink mouth extremely wide in a very threatening manner. Dick wanted to get a picture of her with her mouth open again, and urged me to get close to her while he snapped a picture. I was afraid she would snap before he did, so, for the first time that I can remember, I refused to comply with his wishes.

We also saw a beaver dam and a very tame deer that refused to heed the trail to us until we were a mere six feet or so away.

After our ride we visited the Musquodoboit Trailway Museum in an old train station at the start of the rail trail. The station was built in 1916, and also served as the home of the station master and his family. The museum was small, but full of interesting artifacts documenting the golden age of rail travel in Nova Scotia, and it even had a little operating model train layout made by local train loving volunteers inside, and some train cars and an old track snowplow out front.

We didn't have too long to linger, because we had to get checked into our hotel in Halifax, get showered, and pull together appropriate clothing for our afternoon outdoor activity, kayaking. When we drove to Peggy's Cove a week ago, we passed a kayak rental place on a beautiful rocky cove with lots of islands, and we stopped in for information. One week later, we are joining their Saturday evening paddle and BBQ in a two person kayak.

Dick is in the stern, responsible for steering. He has three steering mechanisms: a foot operated rudder, his own paddle, and commands to me concerning how to paddle (left, right, forward, back). I am responsible for following his commands, which I think I do pretty well, except when I am sure that I know a better way to accomplish his directional objective. Eventually I figure out that my way won't work if he controls two of the three steering mechanisms. Things go a lot more smoothly after that—I'm back to being my normal compliant self, following Dick's every command.

The day is still sunny and warm, but the north wind has picked up, and we can see white caps on the water. There are a dozen of us in the group, and two guides. The first half of the paddle is pretty easy, heading mostly downwind along the picturesque shore of the bay. When we turn around, we have to work hard to make headway against the wind and waves.

The guide leads us from cove to cove, and island to island, giving us time to rest in sheltered spots before taking us back out to battle the wind and white caps. Even though we are skirted into our kayak, as we hit the waves, water leaks through. Dick and I are wearing our rain jackets, overdressed by the standards of others on the trip in just tee shirts, and we are glad for the protection from the very cold water splashing upon us in liberal measure.

When we finally get back to the East Coast Outfitters Boathouse after two hours of paddling, we agree that we are a good team, and we are glad to have done this strenuous little adventure together, rather than in separate kayaks. After our hamburgers and potato salad at the BBQ, we also agree that we have earned ice cream, and I know it is a perfect Canadian day when the ice cream shop has vanilla with a licorice swirl.

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