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Published: October 1st 2015
After we left Larry's this morning, we stopped for coffee in what looked to be a quaint coffee shop in a little village. It was empty except for a couple playing crib, he in his pajamas and she, in a dirty, oversized T-shirt. We looked around for someone who could help us and realized that they were the owners. Scratching herself, she finally got up and poured us each a cup of weak coffee to go. "What do you think of these colours?", she asked, holding up a scarf that she had been crocheting. "They're nice", I lied. There was a mishmash of many colours. "People give me their leftover yarn", she said. "I have enough to last till I'm 300." As we left, we heard her smokey cackle behind us and we decided that the coffee shop and its owners would be perfect subjects for a Steven King novel.
Between two mountain ranges lie the fertile valleys of the Annapolis and Cornwallis rivers, which together constitute the Annapolis Valley. The views there are the stuff of paintings and heavenly dreams. We drove the Evangeline Trail, named after the famous Longfellow poem called, "Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie", published in
1847. The poem follows an Acadian girl named Evangeline and her search for her lost love Gabriel, set during the time of the Expulsion of the Acadians.
We visited the Annapolis Tidal Power Plant which is the only tidal generating station in North America. It was initially designed as a pilot project to discover how viable it would be to harness the large Bay of Fundy tides. Our guide, a very knowledgeable retired fellow, said that it was not a success right away - the turbine, carefully selected from a number of proposed models, lost all its blades within two weeks of having been placed, due to sediment buildup. Larger projects with tidal power have been considered in the Bay of Fundy, but more information about the possible impact to the area and environment is needed.
As we were driving along, I spotted a garage sale sign on a curve in the road next to a bay. We stopped and talked to the man there whose wares were on display. He said that the bay was the former site of an iron ore smelter which had, long ago, been very successful. The ore was shipped out by railway
and the remnants of the trestle were still there. Other than that, there is no sign that the smelter ever existed other than a commemorative sign. How fleeting is life. The fellow had lived here his whole life and when he was a child, a propane truck went through his house while he, his father and brother were sleeping. Luckily they were able to escape before the house burned to the ground. There's a story around every corner, we thought.
Next, we visited Fort Anne, Canada's oldest national historic site. The first fort was built by the Scots in 1629. Four forts were subsequently built by the French beginning in 1643. The most fought-after piece of land in Canada, Fort Anne changed hands seven times between the French and the British, who were seeking control of the territory. All that remains is the gunpowder magazine which was built in 1708 from limestone that was brought over from France and the British field officers' quarters which were built in 1797 on a site where another French structure had been. The quarters had 30 rooms, each with a fireplace.
I wandered through the Garrison Graveyard which is the oldest English
graveyard in Nova Scotia, with the earliest tombstone dated 1720. This was first started as the burial site for the French soldiers at the fort. It was also used by the Acadians and later by the British military.
Next we went to Halls Harbour to experience the extreme low tides which ground the boats in the harbour twice a day. The boats sat forlornly in the bay, forsaken by the ocean, tied up by ropes to keep them from falling onto their sides on the ocean floor over 30 feet below the dock. The tides here are the highest in the world, reaching up to 50 feet.
We carried on to Wolfville, a town of 3,500 with a university population of 4,500. It had a number of beautiful Victorian B&Bs and after staying at Larry's the night before, we decided that we needed to treat ourselves and checked into one that used to be owned by "The Apple King". At 6,000 sq.ft., it was enormous and totally restored with fine wood detailing and stained glass throughout. At $139 a night, we couldn't resist.
After checking in, we drove to a park where we could view the action
of the tide at work. First, we walked among the tall grasses that grow on the dikes built by the Acadians many years ago to keep the ocean tides from flooding the area, thereby creating fertile land. Then we sat and watched the tide come in. Initially the large basin was empty except for deep trenches and ridges of fine red sand which were rendered golden-red by the rays of the setting sun. Shorebirds settled on the ridges and as we watched, the water quickly rose higher and higher, chasing the birds up the ridges until they had nowhere left to go and flew away. It all happened incredibly quickly.
We found a fun, busy pub called Paddy's in which to have dinner and as chance would have it, it was Open Mic Night. Guitars, mandolins, fiddles and other instruments were lined up in the hallway, ready to be taken up when their owners were ready to perform. And perform they did. We were astounded at the talent before us. From folksy to funky, alternative to pop, each performer or group was incredibly entertaining and gifted. How could such a small centre have so many creatively musical people? Maybe
everyone in Nova Scotia is musical. I don't know the answer but I was just glad to witness it.
Before the last act performed, we had to leave as we couldn't keep our eyes open any longer after our busy busy day. We fell into bed, glad to be in clean, comfortable quarters.
Tomorrow we head to Moncton.
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