Week 21: To the Great White North

Well hello there. It has been quite a week. (Case in point, this blog post is now six days overdue.) But I’ve been busy. Picture cramming five days of work into two, packing for an eight-day trip, then setting your alarm clock for an ungodly hour to make a 6 AM flight. Out of Baltimore.

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But it was worth it. Oh, was it worth it. This was the first actual vacation that Elliott and I have taken since late 2013. Key word is vacation – a trip that is not related to a race, wedding, or other family function. We actually got to choose the destination for once! Kayak.com has a great tool that lets you choose your departure city, price point, and approximate dates; the website will then tell you where you can go. We chose $300 around Memorial Day weekend, and got two round trip tickets to… drum roll, please…

Halifax, Nova Scotia! It was lovely. Short flights (one hour to Toronto, then two to Halifax), one hour time change, cooler but not cold weather, friendly people, and slightly cheaper expenses due to a weaker Canadian dollar. Plus, to my delight, they have quite the local food and craft beer scene.

We rented a car, hybrid bikes, and a bike rack for the week with the plan of driving north from Halifax to Cape Breton, hiking and biking around the Cabot Trail, taking the ferry to Prince Edward Island, biking across the island, then returning to Nova Scotia to find gemstones and ride the tides in the Bay of Fundy before flying back to DC. And we succeeded…mostly.

Halifax was a great way to start the trip. Between the huge farmers’ market, indoor and outdoor beer options, bike lanes, and city parks, this was pretty much our ideal city.

It was hard to leave after just a day, but we had places to go. Like this one.

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Taylor’s Head Provincial Park

 

I realize Canada is a large country, but the Maritimes are known for being small provinces, so I admit we under-estimated the driving time between Halifax and our hotel in Pleasant Bay, northern Cape Breton. (Look it up on a map; it’s up there.) It didn’t help that the fog rolled in soon after darkness, and the Cabot Trail was undergoing road construction, so the last few miles were about 5 mph and very stressful. But all was well by morning.

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Still quite foggy, though.

Cape Breton is home to breathtaking views, whales, moose, bears, hiking trails, Acadian and First Nation cultures, and an incredibly awesome relay race. For these reasons, it’s a very popular tourist destination. Starting in June. We were there in May, and had the place pretty much to ourselves. This was great most of the time; we could experience solitude on the hiking trails and not worry about traffic when biking…but it also meant that most of the food options weren’t open yet. We still had lots of fun, though! See if you can spot the wildlife.

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Stay tuned for the next post to hear about the rest of the trip!

 

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