Somehow I forgot one small stop I made on my way back from Cape Breton Island. I supposed that's a product of writing these things up a day or two after they've happened, but I didn't want one enormous post to make up for the lost days (that said, this one will probably be pretty long). Anyways, I stopped at the Glenora Distillery in Glenville. Glenora was the first single malt distillery in North America, and is still the only one in Canada. Although the bottles say single malt whiskey, there is no difference between what Glenora produces, and scotch...except for the fact that they're not in Scotland. Much like Champagne and Tequila, being distilled in Scotland is a requirement for using the scotch name. They even had to fight the Scotch Whiskey Association in a nine year legal battle to use the term "Glen" when they released their first batch of product, which they called Glen Breton Rare. The Scotch association claimed calling it a Glen was too close to calling it scotch. Glenora eventually won the battle and released a special Battle of the Glen bottling to celebrate. The distillery is on a peaceful plot of land with a babbling brook running along side, which provides the water for their whiskey. The tour of the distillery was ridiculously short, at only about 15 minutes. Maybe with a few more people, especially people more versed in scotch and whiskey, there would have been more questions to pad it out. If it weren't for the fact that part of the tour includes a shot of their 10 year old whiskey, which was surprisingly smooth, it would have been a complete waste of time. The rest of the day happened as reported, ending in that crummy gas station motel in Masstown.
When I woke up in the crummy motel I headed west to the Joggins Fossil Cliffs. The cliffs are the result of continental drift and continuous erosion from the extremely high tides of the Bay of Fundy. The result is the exposure of a remarkably well preserved Carboniferous era swampland and forest. That is to say, it acts as a time machine that takes you back 300,000,000 years. In theory this is extremely cool, but the actuality is that it's a little underwhelming. There are no huge dinosaurs preserved mid-roar in the cliffs (300 million years is actually before dinosaurs), and although there is an abundance of easily visible fossils of trees and plants that allow you to literally touch history it's just not exciting. Luckily the cliffs are pretty and there's a nice short tour, in my case given by an enthusiastic girl who couldn't be much older than 16, that does a great job of explaining the value of the cliffs. I'm not sure if I would really recommend Joggins to someone wasn't either extremely interested in fossils, paleontology, or...umm...cliffs. The girl who gave to tour did a really good job of keeping a few young kids entertained and interested for the 30 minute tour, so at the very least it wasn't a huge waste for their parents. The up side of going to Joggins was that I was only about 15Km from the New Brunswick border, so I took a quick dash in and out so I could say that I'd been there.
After my perfunctory trip New Brunswick I headed to Lunenburg, which is about 2 hours from Joggins on the opposite coast. Lunenburg is a picturesque British Colonial-style fishing town that seems to be frozen in time. Most of the 200+ year old houses are still in use and preserved the way they would have looked back in the late 1700's. Lunenburg is also the home of the Bluenose II, the faithful recreation of famed Nova Scotian schooner Bluenose. The original Bluenose had a long, undefeated run as the undefeated champ of the International Fishermen's races. As a winning racing schooner, and a hard working fishing boat it became an icon of Nova Scotia. Unfortunately the Bluenose II is currently undergoing a complete rebuilt and isn't so much in port, as it is in a building being redone from the ground up. When I arrived in Lunenburg it was early evening on Sunday and the town was actually quite busy. All the roads along the wharf were filled with cars, there were a couple of horse-drawn carriage tours running, and most of the restaurants were bustling. After checking in at the Smuggler's Cove Inn, I had dinner at the Rum Runner at the recommendation of the girl at the inn. It was here I finally had my first standout meal of the trip. The food up to now hadn't been bad, but for the most part it wasn't terribly remarkable. Lots of fried fish, mediocre scallops, and even a crappy BLT and a decent donut at a Tim Horton's (which I'd never been to before). Although the entrees on the menu were enticing, what I ended up having was a series of appetizers. I started with a plate of browned scallops served on a bed of sausage, lobster, and mashed potato. Next was an interesting plate of three different fish charcuterie pates; one made with poached salmon and smoked salmon, another from smoked pork, and the final from chicken liver. I didn't like the chicken liver one, but then again I don't actually like chicken liver. The final dish was a plate of steamed mussels in a sauce of sausage, charred tomato, and IPA beer. Except for the liver pate it was all delicious. Since I was indulging, I also partook of a maple praline cheesecake...and yes it was great.
Stuffed and a little bit food-drunk I turned in for an early night. I had planned on walking around Lunenburg the next morning but unfortunately when I woke up it was pouring down rain and it seemed that just about everything was closed. Except for the grocery store and a couple small family restaurants, the only thing bustling was the docks as fishing boats came and went. All the action from the day before was gone. Presumably the entire town is still on winter hours. Instead of hanging around to see if the weather and anything of interest opened up, I decided to head down to the town of Digby, famous for its scallops, for a late lunch. I essentially drove two hours just for lunch at the Fundy Restaurant, and it was a little disappointing. I probably just chose the wrong restaurant, not having access to all my lost-luggage tools meant I hadn't done any research on where to eat. I did a seafood sample platter that had fried clams, bacon wrapped scallops, jumbo shrimp, and muscles. The muscles were plain, but dipped in butter were pretty good. The bacon that the scallops were wrapped in was extremely salty and killed all the taste of the scallop. The clam was meh, and the jumbo shrimp were shrimp. I also had a chowder similar to the one I had up in Cape Breton, though not quite as good. It had scallops in it as well and even without the bacon they still seemed rather salty. There really wasn't anything else of interest in Digby. With time running short I had my waitress decide for me if I was going to spend my last day driving down a scenic coast road to Digby Neck, or another 2 hours back towards Halifax to Peggy's Cove. She chose Peggy's Cove.
I had actually been avoiding Peggy's Cove, as it was the one thing that seemed to pop up on every tour guide of Nova Scotia and I really didn't want to fall for a cheesy tourist trap. However the waitress really sold it well and I caved in. On the drive I got a phone call to inform me that my luggage had suddenly shown up at the airport in Halifax. It didn't surprise me that if it were going to show up, it would do so when the trip was basically over. I told her to just hold it and I would get it before I flew out. It wasn't until after I hung up that I considered the fact that finding my luggage meant they had also found my dad. It was about an hour out of the way, but I decided to pick up my luggage before heading to Peggy's Cove. I would finally be able to do one the main things I had planned - spread my dad's ashes. I'm glad I ended up at Peggy's Cove and that I got my luggage as it made for a worthy and poignant end to the trip. The cove is a beautiful hilly place with huge rocks jutting out of the ground all over the place. Peggy's Cove is famous for it's lighthouse, which is supposedly the most photographed in the world. The small lighthouse sits atop a mass of large rocks that point out into the ocean, creating a dramatic stone balcony overlooking the ocean. As the tide comes in and out it crashes against the rocks, which rise only 10 or so feet above the surf. Climbing out to the edge is daunting and rewarding. When I first arrived the point was full of Japanese tourists that had shown up in a large tour bus. They weren't obtrusive and no one asked me to take their picture, but I suddenly found myself bashful and secretive of what I was there to do. Spreading the ashes was a deeply personal moment and I didn't want a bunch of strangers ruining it. Instead I climbed around for a while, grabbed some food (more fried fish, though quite good), checked into a motel just off the water with a great view, and then waited until just before sunset to head back to the cove. When I arrived the sun was just barely above the horizon and the cove was empty. I climbed out to the edge of the rocks for a second time, venturing out further than before until I was convinced I was going to slip into the water if I went any further. The sun finally dipped below the horizon as I reached my perch and I had a short conversation with someone who'd been gone for 10 years. I kept finding myself putting off the actual act of pouring at the ashes, but finally I ran out of excuses and let them go. When I did I felt a pressure and anxiety that I didn't realize had been building up over the last couple days release. It seemed that losing my dad had bothered me more than I was willing to admit.
Tomorrow I leave for home again. The thought of going back home is a little sad as it is at the end of every trip, but it's something I'm also looking forward to. It's been a good trip on the whole, but the misadventures have had their toll on it all. Halifax was a great little city to visit, Cape Breton was worth the trip alone, and Peggy's Cove has been a pleasant surprise. However I didn't fall in love with Nova Scotia the way I did when I visited Iceland. I would have no problem coming back to Nova Scotia if my travels brought me back this way, I'd still like to visit Newfoundland, but I don't think I'd make a special attempt to return. Not when I'd much rather revisit Iceland, and there's still so many other places out there I want to see. Regardless, I don't regret choosing Nova Scotia for this trip, and if I went back and time and new all the crap the would lead up to getting here I would still do it.
I say at the end of everything trip that I'll write up some kind of post mortem, but it never happens. That said, I would at least like to incorporate the photos into the whole documenting of the trip. I have a lot of photos to go through so it will take several days. More than likely this will be it until the next trip - wherever that may be. Memento Mori.