(For those reading this for the first time, you might want to look at “About” before continuing)
Well . . . we’re finding it a little harder to find Internet connections so I’m a little behind here.
A couple of days ago we left Shelburne and headed east along the south coast. It took a while to leave Shelburne because there was a dog in the room next to us. The Man kept peeking out the window so he could ‘accidentally’ bump into it and when the chance finally came he flew out the door and did his embarrassing dog thing. The dog’s owners (from Toronto) had just spent a month in Newfoundland and gave the Man lots of travel advice.
Once we hit the road we found there are lots of little towns and some beautiful scenery. The coastline along this portion of Nova Scotia is laced with little bays and sheltering islands therefore the shoreline has the look of a lakeshore with salt grasses and reeds. Most of the villages have some semblance of a fishing industry – lobster, mussels or scallops. We whipped along at a pleasant pace again taking scenic loops whenever possible.
There are beautiful white sandy beaches here and in combination with the bright blue skies, it looks almost tropical. We found a great little cable ferry close to Lunenburg that took us across a long inlet near Bridgewater.
We stopped for the afternoon at Lunenburg and had a great time eating MORE lobster (and garnish) on the waterfront overlooking ‘Bluenose II”. Lunenburg was amazing with more beautiful old architecture, a working harbour and a wonderful location. Lots of people though!
We stayed the night in Chester in preparation for an interesting adventure the next day.
Our good friend Rob asked if we could go by New Ross and check out an old legend/folklore tale. Rob appealed to the Man’s Scottish heritage to motivate him.
In 1972, Joan Hope and her husband Ron rented a house in New Ross. While exploring the property Joan discovered, what she believed to be, the foundations of a castle. The Hopes eventually bought the property and started to excavate the ruins. They came to believe the castle dates back to Prince Henry Sinclair’s historic voyage of 1398 to North America and that he built the castle – pre-dating Columbus.
It turns out that the story was very hard to verify. Whenever we asked about the location of the castle the locals were very evasive and at times dismissive. We finally talked to people at the local heritage society and all they would say is that they knew where it was but it was on private land and we wouldn’t be able to see it anyway. We searched around and couldn’t find any sign of it. So . . . we had to give up the hunt.
In the same town was the New Ross Farm Museum which is located on an old farm belonging to the Ross family. Mr. Ross received the 121 hectare (300 acre) property after serving with the military in the late 1700’s. The government at the time wanted to keep ex militia in the area because of the close proximity to America and the French faction. The land they gave to Mr. Ross was right in between the fort at Halifax and the fort at Annapolis Royal. One of the conditions for obtaining the land was to build a road linking the two forts which he did. He was then free to develop his farm.
Most of the buildings on the farm are original and it is still a working farm using the original 1800’s methods – no power machinery or tools. All the staff are in 1800’s dress doing what they would have been doing in that time. The buildings include a barn, a sawmill, cooperage (barrel making), blacksmith and the original farmhouse. The farmhouse had actually been lived in by five generations of Ross’s, the last moving out in 1969 when they turned the farm over to the heritage society. The interior is quite amazing with most of the original woodwork and furniture. Much ‘cruder’ than the Victorian houses that we have been looking at recently. Lots of sloping floors and walls. We had fresh nutmeg cookies just baked in the old woodstove in the Summer kitchen.
We went into the barns where there are many heritage animals – those of the same lineage as those from the 1790’s – Berkshire pigs (with piglets), Canadian horses, oxen, cows and blessèd sheep. The Man went all weirdo when he found two un-heritage kittens and the Lady and I had to ask for help to get him away from them. Unfortunately we should have stuck to the kittens after what happened next.
As I said, the farm is a working farm and the local farmers bring their horses in to be shod. Somehow the Man found that we were in for a great treat as a farmer was going to bring in his ox to be shod. So…down to the blacksmith shop we headed just in time to see ‘Lion’ the huge ox being pushed into a little raised corral.
The two blacksmiths then ran a sling and ropes around Lion’s belly so he wouldn’t fall down. They then tied his left front and back legs and pulled them up and rested them on a leg rest exposing the hooves. ‘Lion’ was looking very leery by this time and obviously didn’t like standing on just two legs. I must admit, being a hoofed animal, I was starting to get a little queasy myself. THEN . . . they started pulling off the old shoes with pry bars and nail pullers – gag me with a spoon – I tied my socks up tight and ran out with the Lady right behind me. We’d rather have watched a wisdom tooth extraction! Naturally, the Man stayed to the bitter end and said it wasn’t too bad though ‘Lion’ definitely didn’t like having the shoes (two per hoof) nailed on.
After we did the tour we headed east once more driving through Halifax in rush hour. Unfortunately nobody told us about the toll bridge until we had crossed it. We had a moment of panic as cars piled up behind us and we dug through everything trying to find three quarters. The automated machine didn’t take dimes, nickels or pennies. We came up with two quarters and finally the Man threw in a loonie and the gate opened. Of course, through all the confusion, once we got moving the Man immediately got lost. We consulted our street maps and eventually found our way – the Man is convinced we actually found a shortcut!
The Man and Lady are confirmed rural tourists and didn’t like the busyness of Halifax so we continued on and stayed in Oyster Pond, Nova Scotia. The Man was thrilled that we had a very wild thunderstorm last night but I noticed not so thrilled as to get out of bed to watch it – more of a passive storm chaser.
Today we continued East under quite thick fog which didn’t do anything for the view. I got quite excited at one point when I thought I saw a blessèd sheep on the side of the road but when we stopped it turned out to be a piece of folk art which seems to be very common in this neck of the woods. The towns here are more utilitarian and don’t seem to have the quaintness as the rest of the coastline.
At Sheet Harbour we stopped at the site of an old riverside pulp and paper mill. It had shut down in the early 1970’s and the whole thing was disassembled. In it’s place was a pleasant park and boardwalk following the river. Across the river, the Man noticed an old bulk oil tank about 30,000 gallons in size left over from the mill. It was painted bright blue with “MOM’S” written on it.
Looking closer we saw a door cut in the side and a long chimney running up the side. It turns out that it has been converted into a bar and grill. We went in and it looked pretty good though dark and windowless. It has only been developed on the floor level but apparently the new owner has great plans for further development – a very unique building.
From there we headed north to Antigonish and then across the causeway to Cape Breton Island. We are staying in Port Hawkesbury tonight ready to travel the Cabot Trail tomorrow IF there is no fog.
Our Internet is very iffy tonight and the Man will have to go stand in the parking lot to try and send this wirelessly – not sure what the future holds but we’ll try to send updates when we can.
p.s. The Man couldn’t get through last night so we’re sitting in the parking lot of another motel at 7:00 am sending this!