WEDNESDAY July 7
Yesterday after we left Murphy’s Cove we took the scenic route along the Eastern Shore. We stopped at a place called Lawrencetown Beach, which is the surfing hot spot of Nova Scotia. It was very overcast and cold. but a few hardy souls were laying on the rocky beach. Lifeguards were wrapped in blankets. Doug put on his wetsuit and tried to fly the kite, but there wasn’t enough wind, so he just tossed about in the cold water for a while. He calls this body surfing.
Then we drove into Halifax which took a bit of navigating. The hotel I booked last night turned out to be a very nice hotel called the Lord Nelson. We had gotten it at half price, so that was great. It was luxurious to be in a 3 star hotel.
We should call it this part of our trip Half-Price Halifax, because not only did we get our hotel at that rate, we stood in a line for a show called The Nova Scotia Royal Tattoo? and got half-price tickets to that as well. What a spectacle! The show was over 2 and a half hours long with 2,000 performers. I had noticed a poster advertising it when we first arrived in Nova Scotia because it had a picture of a bagpiper and I love bagpipes. I innocently asked someone what Tattoo was and they said it was a military show. According to the pamphlet, a tattoo is short for a call to the military troops to prepare to fight.
Well, if you like bagpipes, try a Tattoo. There were more than 50 bagpipers in full dress. Multiple marching bands. Dancers. Acrobats from various countries. A Dutch troupe performed on bicycles. A tuba soloist from Germany. Our own Marine Corps Marching Band. Drill units of all kinds. A mass choir. Contests between the army and navy in running over obstacles. Some comic relief characters. Some poignant pieces with video, extolling various moments of Canadian military history. The Navy celebrated it’s 100th anniversary this year, so it was highlighted.
Perhaps the oddest number closed the first half, a song about fighting for God, in both WW II and in Afghanistan now. It was especially interesting in that there was also quite a presence from Germany in the show, with the tuba player plus a full band. There was a video with an older veteran reminiscing about fighting the Germans, and how his grandson now fights on the same side with the Germans in Afghanistan. That was great, in and of itself, but it formed a segue into the song about fighting for God. It was interesting to see another country being sloppy about the equation of freedom and Christianity, as if we are the only religion with deep faith in God.
How interesting to be in the middle of another country’s patriotic display. Toward the end they did an amazing rendition of the Navy Hymn, which was perhaps my favorite part of the show, second to the bagpipes. The finale, of course, was Oh Canada? so we stood with a sports arena full of Canadians lustily singing their national anthem.
My personal favorite were the bagpipes, and I felt my Scottish blood stir, even though I have none. And just in case you missed it, Nova Scotia means New Scotland? and yes, the Scottish heritage here is thick.
I mentioned the half-price tickets. We stood in a rush line for 45 minutes, and spent them talking to a Halifaxian. He said he couldn’t help going for the bargain, after all, he IS Scottish. He is a mechanical engineer who oversees the building of new schools, so he and Doug discussed school populations. The schools this man is building are basically consolidations of smaller schools. The population of Nova Scotia is shrinking, to the extent that there is concern about filling jobs in the future. I find this to be an amazing fact. The figure he cited is that the population of Nova Scotia is one million. I do notice that the children all move away after college. This fella had four children, two daughters who are nurses, one son in the RCMP and another son serving in Afghanistan in the Canadian army, in the infantry. Imagine what Tattoo meant to this man.
I read an article in the paper that said the answer to the shortage of workers will be to get the Aboriginals fully employed, and talked about the steps being taken toward that end. But what kind of jobs will they be filling? It is quite clear that lumbering has very little future (trees grow so much faster in Chile according to our mechanical engineering friend), nor does fishing (everything is fished out, according to everyone) and there is little industry. What’s left to sell, I suppose, is the scenery.
I also sat on a bench for a while and talked to two women, one older and one younger about Halifax in general. They really wanted to talk weather. They said that global warming has totally changed the weather patterns in Nova Scotia and wanted to know all about the weather in the United States.
Once we had our half-price tickets in hand Doug and I got some supper at a bar called the Carleton, the usual fish and chips.
This morning we got in the car and headed out of Halifax. We didn’t want to deal with finding breakfast in the city, so we thought we’d peel. So, instead of messing around with Halifax, we messed around finding breakfast away from Halifax! What a bunch of wild goose chases. Or should I say wild coffee and breakfast-sandwich chases! You know how it goes, you take an exit because there’s a little pictogram of a coffee cup and you drive 3 kilometers and all there is is a gas station. So you get back on the highway and try the next exit, only this one has road construction. So you are stuck waiting for 10 minutes, and finally get your turn to go and there is still nowhere to eat, and now you are faced with turning around and doing it all over again! So you push on and find an alternative route. And it is 11:30, you haven’t accomplished even the first small leg of a long journey, and you really NEED another cup of coffee. Plus the temperature has climbed to an unheard-of 80 degrees! Until, what to your frazzled eyes does appear, but a McDonalds! Only it is too late for breakfast of course, but still, you want to kiss the coffee cup.
If you’ve ever had that kind of morning, you know how I feel right now. A bit travel-weary, but lucky to have been able to take the vacation and sad that it’s over. Now, trying hard not to count down the 1500 miles between here and home.
The temperature has risen to 92 degrees as we cross from Nova Scotia into New Brunswick. We’re listening to folk music in French and making up lyrics. It is going to be a long trip.
We camped at Camden Hills State Park in Maine. Rolled in at 8:30 PM and rolled back out at 7:30 AM. But we did have a great supper at a restaurant connected to The Bait’s Motel? (get it?)
THURSDAY ?July 8
The less said the better. It IS a long trip. Heat. Road. Repeat.
Here ends the accounting of our PEI/Nova Scotia trip, thanks for reading!