The sun is shining but it doesn’t have any impact. It is minus 6 Celsius, and the road report states it is “center line bare”, which really means the plows have scrapped off the top layer and packed down what couldn’t be removed. A slushy area in the middle remains clear to keep two wheels on. I am embattled in the lesser known Canadian sport; playing chicken with on-coming traffic to see who will give up the center line first. This is typical winter driving in the east and the reason we have a tourist season.
Somewhere between 20th of December to January 2nd, I visit family and friends. This always leaves me with a delicate dance of getting to various areas of Nova Scotia and back home again unscathed between Nor’Easters. This year I was lucky, Nova Scotia’s winter weather was delayed, so I took advantage of a few cravings I have been wanting to see.
It is the day before the shortest day of the year, the sun is setting late afternoon. I am tired so I stop for the night in Truro. In the morning I get to take a picture of a well recognized local Road Side attraction, the giant statue of the legendary Glooscap at the Millbrook cultural and heritage center.
I head towards the Halifax suburb of Clayton Park for a couple of hours visit with my brother, then I am off to the Valley to spend the winter solstice night with my sister and bother-in-law in Falmouth. I had planned a trip along the Nova Scotia Fundy coast this year but it didn’t happen. Luckily, Windsor has one of the National Historic Sites I can scratch off my list. Fort Edward. I get a free off-season look around North America’s oldest military block houses and grounds.
This area is so filled with awesome places, I see that the UNESCO World Heritage Site Grand Pre is only 20 km away in Wolfville. I have time to check it out. The main interpretive center is closed for the season but all National Historic Sites of Canada, are open to roam about year round. I get a free off-season look at the culturally important site.
I have my fill of the pictures, churches and monuments. I have to get on the road to Cape Breton. It is a three hours drive to my sister and brother-in-laws home on the island. There is time for one more stop- Stewiacke. I showed you in my story, East Coast Travel Hoarder, I had taken a picture at the half way point between the Equator and the North Poll located in Stewiacke. Somehow I had missed the other attraction in Stewiacke; Mastadon Ridge.
The great Mastodons roamed the province of Nova Scotia 10,000 years ago, This replica is from actual bones found in Milford, Nova Scotia in 1991. The beast had fallen into a sink hole broken a leg and died. Covered in vegetation for thousands of years, it was discovered and is now on display.
Yes, I am limited to where I can go. Most tourist attractions are closed for the season, but there are new opportunities, to be taken advantage of. Hiking trails become snow shoeing and ski trails. Water falls become ice castles. I can skate on outdoor lakes, I swam in during the summer months. Wildlife is still plentiful; Moose, deer, owls, eagles, coyotes. lynx, bobcats and non-migrating birds such as jays chickadees are here for photo opportunities. Cold temperatures and wind can be captured in a photo I can’t get in July.
I got a photo at Cape George Lighthouse last March with the Northumberland strait a sheet of ice in the background. You can’t get that in the summer.
This year on the way home, I make a stop in Pugwash. I get one more National Historic Site to close out the year. The Thinkers Lodge. Home to the 1995 Nobel Prize. It is a fascinating place, and closed for the season. However, I know the story that Cyrus Eaton, a local born fella, hosted 22 scientist for the Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs, to talk about the threat of a Nuclear weapons attack. Somethings never change.
Yes, off season travel is tricky. There will be times the Trans Canada Highway will have high winds that will cause snow to drift in streamers across the road. Visibility will be low and I will be thankful traffic is lite. The passing lane will be snow covered except for a track left by some brave soul in a four wheel drive vehicle.
I will come up on a transport truck with flashing amber lights, creeping along well below the speed limit, in danger of toppling over in the blizzard. I will signal and venture into the passing lane. Gripping the steering wheel with white knuckles, I will feel my chest tighten. I will think to myself Just stay calm. Hoping my truck doesn’t hit a slippery patch and twirl me under the eighteen wheeler. I’ll make it past and breath again. However, They’ll also be days the roads are clear the sun will shine the pavement will be dry with no snow in the forecast; and I will be going somewhere awesome.
Welcome to 2018 happy travels from Maritimemac.