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As I mentioned in earlier posts we were in Nova Scotia from the 19th-28th, driving to the four corners of the province and visiting most everyone we know there. These are notes that I took in the few breaks we found between driving and eating.

Thu, Aug 19

  • We get up early, say goodbye to the cats (who seem alarmed at the sight of suitcases) and lug our bags on the subway to the airport. We swear that we’ll never take the TTC again if we have bags to check.
  • This is our first look at the new Terminal One. It’s pretty kickass, and all the Air Canada staff are extremely friendly (!) to us. Moreover, they get us onto the flight early and take off ahead of schedule.
  • We arrive in Halifax a full 30 minutes early (impressive, since it’s only a 2 hour flight) and wait only a few minutes for our bags. Nellie’s mother & aunt & uncle, and the mother-in-law’s boyfriend meet us at the airport. We have lunch with them before heading into Halifax.
  • We stroll around the Dalhousie campus a bit to see what’s changed, then drive down to Point Pleasant Park to see how it’s looking these days. We relax on a rock and watch some sailboats for a bit, then drive downtown.
  • Nellie has a spa appointment, so I meet my friend MK (I still call her this even though her initials have changed) and her crazy friend CR (who I went to Dal with, but didn’t really know until MK’s wedding a few years back). We drive back to MK’s house where her sister (whom I lovingly refer to as “dipshit”) and dog greet us. We relax, snack & wrestle with a barbeque, finally wrangling some steaks once nellie arrives at the house.
  • We have to hurriedly jet off to another friend’s place (MK doesn’t seem to mind; she’s barely slept this week and just wants to go to bed). We meet her cats, who are about 1/3 the size of our own. We crash in her spare bed, and ride out the huge thunderstorm that rattles the walls.

Fri, Aug 20

  • We get up early before our friends and leave for Cape Breton around 7:45. We’re very tired.
  • We get gas and road Timbits in Stewiacke, then make great time all the way up to the Causeway. Nellie needs a pit stop in Port Hawkesbury, then it’s back on the road.
  • Despite being told that we should go up the west side of the Bras D’Or lakes (through Baddeck) we go up the other side, through St. Peters’s and make fantastic time. We go nearly an hour without coming up on another car, hitting construction only once.
  • The view of the lakes would be great if we could see them through all the fog.
  • We stop in Rita’s Tea Room to buy some gifts for our mothers. I feel confident that we are the youngest people ever to walk through the door.
  • We finally get to Sydney, check in, have some lunch and relax for a bit. I watch some Olympics while Nellie finishes her speech (she’s matron of honour in our friend’s wedding Saturday)
  • We go to the rehearsal at a church in New Waterford, about 20 minutes from Sydney. Since the best man isn’t there yet – his wife had a baby the morning before, so he’s still on his way to Cape Breton – I stand in for him during the rehearsal. I refer to myself as “the understudy” for the remainder of the weekend.
  • The groom’s parents host the rehearsal dinner at Joe’s Warehouse. There was chocolate swirl cheesecake. Afterward Nellie and the girls go swimming in the hotel pool; I relax, read and watch more Olympics.

Sat, Aug 21

  • Finally, some downtime. While Nellie’s off getting ready for the wedding I read the Globe and watch the Olympics.
  • I walk around downtown Sydney to find a snack and realize that this is probably the ugliest town I’ve ever seen. It’s like they gave up trying to make it look nice 40 years ago, and the place is stuck with 1964 decor. The weather is a constant grey colour, and the harbour doesn’t look nice at all. The people seem…well, here’s an example: I look at my hotel window and see a woman wearing tight jeans, high-tops and a firebird t-shirt. She has a mullet (with spikes on top), and sports not one but two fanny packs. She tosses her many children into a minivan and drives off.
  • It’s showtime. Almost. I spend an hour standing around at the bride’s house ’cause the women inside are nutty.
  • When the ceremony starts, it starts abruptly. Nellie, shocked at how quickly they open the door, whips down the aisle and completely forgets to collect the best man. He runs to catch up and takes her arm for the last step or two. Fortunately, this is the biggest hiccup that occurs all day. The girls all read perfectly, the bride & groom flub no lines, the father of the bride cries, and we’re out in 40 minutes. The VIPs take off to do pictures, the rest of head back to hotel for the reception.
  • However, we need refreshments. We stop at the liquor store to get some drinks. I feel confident that we are the best dressed people ever to walk through the door. I relax at the hotel with the girls, and some new friends.
  • We have dinner downstairs in the hotel, and the dinner’s excellent. The speeches all go well – including Nellie’s…I’m proud of her! – especially the groom’s grandfather. It’s almost a comedy routine that he’s worked out with his wife over 60 years of marriage, but we love it.
  • The dinner ends, the dancing & drinking start. All the bar has is Johnny Walker. This is a problem, since the DJ keeps playing country music, and I need to dull the pain somehow. With enough ice, I manage it.
  • We – Nellie, the girls & I – shut down the party, then spend a few more hours hanging out in the hotel room, trying to find Smooth Herman’s, walking past Smooth Herman’s and back to the hotel when we see the lineup, and finally ordering pizza, which is not very very good but it’s so good.. Some guy who’s been following us around has taken off his pants in the room, and I have no idea when. Either I’m very tired or he’s very sneaky. Either way, he’s weird.
  • We finally get to bed around 4:00.

Sun, Aug 22

  • The phone rings at 9:00. It’s the bride. The girls are going swimming. I inform Nellie and walk her down to the pool, where I fix myself a snack of Gatorade and a Snickers bar, to tide me over until we can have a proper breakfast.
  • We make an appearance at the bride’s parents’ house in New Waterford before getting back on the road. We have a lot of ground to cover today, and we’ve had only 5 hours’ sleep.
  • The drive through Cape Breton is long and windy, and we stop a few times to take pictures. Famished, we stop in Port Hawkesbury and eat at McDonald’s. Bad move, Sara Lam. While it tastes great and I fairly inhale it all, I haven’t eaten McD’s (of the greasy sort) in about a year and my body doesn’t like it one bit. I feel as if I’ve been punched in the gut.
  • Between the Causeway and New Glasgow we encounter a number of idiots on the highway, and they all seem to be from New Brunswick. I get tired of trying to protect myself from them and just blow by them as fast as the little Kia rental will allow. Once we’re past New Glasgow it’s divided-highway driving for about 350km and we make great time, making it to my parents’ farm around dinnertime…which, really, is called suppertime in Nova Scotia.
  • I go with my dad to pick up some blueberries (it’s blueberry season, which means work doesn’t stop until it’s dark) and realize it’s been a while since I slung berries onto the back of a truck. I’m rusty. Nellie gets startled by a giant spider on the door handle. She’s lucky it’s not a blueberry spider. Those suckers are scary.
  • We sit around and chat for a bit, then collapse into bed for much-needed sleep.

Mon, Aug 23

  • I get up early while Nellie sleeps, and do plenty of reading and Olympics-watching. It’s cold this morning.
  • Today’s all about relaxing: read, go for a walk, read, watch TV, read, browse the newspaper, read, check my email, read, steal pictures, read, do laundry, read, etc.
  • We drive into Amherst and get some chinese food at the Dragon Inn.
  • I play crib with my dad while my wife and my mother talk about porn in the other room. Seriously.

Tue, Aug 24

  • We pack up, and pick some blueberries to wake with us. We watch Canada win a gold medal in cycling before hitting the road.
  • We stop in Truro to buy a bottle of scotch, a gift of thanks to the gentleman who rented the car for us. The NSLC has Cardhu! The LCBO (Ontario’s liquor store) hasn’t carried this for months as they’ve stopped making it, so I pick up a bottle to bring home with us.
  • Now comes the slow part; we drive through the Rawdon Hills as a short cut to the Annapolis Valley, but it’s a slow winding road and we get caught behind several slow-moving trucks.
  • We stop in Annapolis Royal. It’s a beautiful little town, obviously geared toward the tourist dollar. It’s across the water from Port Royal, the earliest European settlement in North America, and we spend a few minutes walking around Fort Anne. We’d decide to come back here some day, to spend a night in one of the inns.
  • Finally we reach the mother-in-law’s place in Yarmouth, on the shores of a lake. There’s food and drink waiting for us; Nellie has lobster and mussels, I have chicken and shrimp. We’re stuffed to the gills.
  • We watch Alexandre Despatie win silver, and see the awful footage of Perdita Felicien fall on the first hurdle. We watch The Amazing Race and fall asleep.

Wed, Aug 25

  • I finish The Da Vinci Code in the morning before we drive out to Cape Forchu where I climb on the rocks and look out over the ocean. We watch The Cat – a high speed ferry to Maine – leave the harbour.
  • We make stops at two different shopping malls. I feel as if I’ve entered some special kind of hell.
  • In the afternoon I place my ass squarely in a swinging chair in the shade, read the Globe and have lunch.
  • That night my mother-in-law’s boyfriend’s family comes over – two kids, two kids-in-law & one grandkid. We have another big feed.
  • Around midnight, while watching The Daily Show and discussing politics, I find myself eating a giant lump of cocount cream pie.

Thu, Aug 26

  • We wake up at 4 AM to watch Simon Whitfield. Or rather, I wake up and go back to sleep while Nellie watches. He finishes 11th. A few hours later we get up and pack before we head out for Halifax.
  • The drive from Yarmouth to Halifax should take about 3 hours; we stop for gas and Tim Horton’s in Shelburne – where we see a guy wearing a shirt that reads, “Drunk Chicks Think I’m Hot” – and drive right through to Eastern Passage to visit friends of Nellie’s.
  • We catch them coming out of their driveway on the way to the local swimming hole with a friend. They have their two kids in tow, their little girl and their teeny tiny son born just a week before. We join them for dinner at a local restaurant which is perfectly good except for the fact that they take forever to serve you. Oh well; that just gives us time to catch up with them.
  • We drive over to MK’s place around 10:00. The dog goes completely nutters for a bit, then settles down. We watch some TV and go to sleep.

Fri, Aug 27

  • MK, ES and Dipshit all go to work. Suckers.
  • Nellie and I drive out to Peggy’s Cove which, believe it or not, I’ve never seen. It’s as advertised – water, rocks, a lighthouse, tourists – but I have fun playing on said rocks and staring at the ocean. We take a pile of pictures and get back in the car.
  • After a quick stop at the flight 111 memorial we drive up the coast and over to Hubbards, home of She Who Must Not Be Named (consort to my brother). We have lunch at a nice little spot called (I think) the Teal House, and decide to forego plans to drive to Chester and Lunenburg. Instead we get back on the highway and drive into Halifax.
  • We stop for some groceries, and also to buy out hosts some beer. I’m amused by the request for my ID, until I see the handwritten note on the cash register which reads, “College is back. ID HARDCORE!!”.
  • We lounge about in MK’s house, overlooking the water, playing with the dog, reading, having naps, happy to not be in a car.
  • Early plans to go out on the town, or go sailing, are foiled by two things: 1) MK has to work late; 2) we’re beat. We order pizza and garlic fingers. I manage to spray pizza sauce over half the room.
  • Knowing we have to get up early the next morning we hit the hay.

Sat, Aug 28

  • Our flight is at 9:30, but we’re paranoid about time and leave around 7:30. It’s a good thing too; our flight time has been pushed up (but nobody told us!) and we get to the gate about 30 seconds before they call general boarding. Takeoff is delayed a bit but we still get into Toronto slightly ahead of schedule.
  • One crazy cabbie later and we’re back home. The cats are happy to see us and utterly overjoyed to be fed (though it’s only been a day since Stanzi fed them last). Ah, smog & humidity…how we’ve missed ye!

And that was it. In the 24 hours that we’ve been home we’ve been busy catching up, and cats won’t leave us alone for fear that we might desert them again. And it felt damn good to sleep in our own bed again.

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