Lunenburg Fog

It’s been foggy since we arrived in Lunenburg around dinnertime the day before yesterday. Funny, we drove into Halifax/Dartmouth (to pick up the keys for the luggage rack!) yesterday, and the fog seemed to have pretty much lifted by mid-morning, but as we drove back down scenic Highway 3 (“The Lighthouse Route”!) around dinner time the fog started rolling in again. I’m not sure it actually lifted around here!

You know what, though? I don’t mind the fog. It’s not raining, and it’s not really cold, although it is damp and I worry a bit what all that moisture is doing to my camera! But the fog makes everything so ethereal and enchanted. Like this, I think my favourite picture since we arrived.

Lucas on the oceanside highway, TtV (with a side of fog!)

Did you know the white balance setting to get the colour right on fog is daylight, and not cloudy? And that there is as much light, if not more light, in fog than on a cloudy day? I’m becoming a “shooting in fog” expert!

It’s actually starting to roll back out to the ocean this morning. I can see further into Lunenburg Harbour than I’ve been able to since we got here — we’re up to maybe 100 feet instead of 30! And the stuff on land is a little less foggy, too. The fog is really not so bad, though, for two reasons. The first is that I really don’t have much to fear of an ocean I can’t see! And the second? Foghorns. All through the night, you can hear the foghorn going off. At first, I thought they were on the boats, but I think they’re fixed at the edge of the harbour so the boats can hear them. Maybe boats have their own too?

Just before the fog started to lift this morning, around 6:15 while the rest of the house was still sleeping, I stood on the porch and filmed this little video to remember that mysterious, beautiful sound of a foghorn on a still summer morning.

It’s supposed to be sunny and warm for the next three days, which is exactly the weather I’d hoped for. But I’ll miss this for the rest of our trip. It’s… magical.

This is how much I love my mother

So I’m in Nova Scotia, and I have a lot of stories to tell you already. Like torrential rain for eight straight hours of driving, and the inevitable bit where someone barfs (not me) and someone misses an exit (also not me) and we end up lost and really unhappy for a bit. And the bit about how the Queen arrived in Halifax the same day as us, and the part about how un-freaking-believably beautiful this little house on the ocean really is, and how it’s so foggy I can’t really see more than five feet of ocean but I can hear the fog horns calling out to each other. Truly fan-fucking-tastic.

Nope, this is the story about how my mother is on the way to the Ottawa airport to the Fed-Ex people there, and how I’ll drive to Dartmouth tomorrow to pick up the package that she’s overnighting to me. The package with the key. To the roof rack. With half our luggage, including all the boys clothes except the ones they were wearing yesterday, and all our jackets, and most of the boys toys. Oh yes we did. We locked the Thule rack up nice and tight the night before we left, Beloved hung the keys on the hook, and there they stayed.

Heck, I was planning on heading up to Halifax eventually anyway… tomorrow now seems like the perfect day to do it! Oh, and if you want to see the pix of day 1 on the road, Ottawa to Grand Sault, NB, they’re on Flickr!

Much more to come — for now, I’m going for a walk in the fog at the edge of the ocean… with my boys and my camera. Life is good, and my mother and father are truly a treasure.

Thanks Mom and Dad! I owe you (another) one. Wait, I think after Beau’s great escape, we might be even on this one. 🙂

Edited to add: by the way, UPS told them it would take up to four days and cost $65. Fed-Ex shipped it from Ottawa to Dartmouth from 6 pm to noon tomorrow for $25. Yay Fed-Ex!

Thoughts on traveling safely

No, I’m not really thinking about seat belts and car seats and whatnot. Ever since we started planning our trip out east, I’ve been debating on whether to mention online when we’ll be out of town.

I’m torn on the issue. On the one hand, the house won’t exactly be empty as the dog and dogsitter with be there, and it’s not like I have posted my address on the blog. On the other hand, it just doesn’t seem to be prudent to broadcast to up to 800 visitors a day (and that’s not counting the twitter followers and Flickr friends) that I’m out of town. On the other other hand, I’d like to have the freedom to blog and post pictures and tweet as we go along and share the trip in real time. On the other other other hand (see, mothers really do need four hands!) I do not want to feel stressed about getting something posted just for the sake of it, and I know myself well enough by now to know that may become an issue. (Obsessive personality much?) On the other other other other hand (yep, I could use five hands these days) I will also dread facing a week and a half of blog constipation, let alone the anxiety of facing four thousand unposted photographs, if I don’t do it as I go along, and if I’m going to go through all that bother anyway, why not just post them as I go?

Yeesh, I’ve stressed myself out just thinking about it. Aren’t you glad you’re not married to me? Poor Beloved, I really am like this a frightful amount of the time.

Yes, we’re leaving soon. Ish. (waffle much?) Yes, I’m excited. Yes, I have a bunch of posts half written and ready to schedule in case I do decide to go for a stealth departure. No, I’m really not very good with secrets.

What would you do?

Edited to add: Not exactly related to this post, but I had to laugh when I read this article in today’s Citizen about the top five most photogenic places in Maritime Canada. Number one? Lunenburg, five minutes from where we’re staying. And I’ve got three of the five on our itinerary. “No Beloved, I swear I did not plan the entire vacation around a photo op.” *pause* “Much.”

Nova Scotia road trip playlist

I tweeted the other day that I was having fun sorting through iTunes to make a Nova Scotia road trip playlist, and Susan asked me if I’d blog my playlist. Sure, why not?

Except, now that I have a second to do it, iTunes is being persnickety and I can’t get it to open. So I’m going from memory here, but this is the gist of it, all pulled from my existing music collection.

It starts with a whole lot of Great Big Sea. Lukey’s Boat, of course (it’s Lucas’s signature song!) and Ordinary Day and Rant & Roar. Simon’s favourite song is Home for a Rest by Spirit of the West, so that’s in there. Then 7/4 by Broken Social Scene, Feist’s 1234 and Life on Mars by Arcade Fire with David Bowie. The boys love K-OS’s Crabbuckit, so that’s on there. I figured it was high time the boys learned about Rush, so we’ve got Tom Sawyer, Limelight and Spirit of Radio on there. Then things folk up a bit with Gordon Lightfoot (Sundown and If You Could Read My Mind) and Jann Arden with Good Mother. Then Clumsy by Our Lady Peace, and then some Barenaked fun with Pollywog in a Bog from their Snacktime album, and Sarah Maclachlan’s take on Rainbow Connection. I’ve got two from one of my fave bands ever, The Pursuit of Happiness (She’s So Young and I’m an Adult Now) and at least one by the Hip, but damn if I can remember which one I chose.

The only thing I’ve got from this, um, decade is the Young Canadians for Haiti cover of Waving Flag. I’ve also got Tristan’s signature song on there, Loggins and Messina’s Danny’s Song (not really Canadian, I know, but Anne Murray did a cover that’s not as good so I figure that counts.) Representing Montreal, we’ve got Corey Hart’s Sunglasses at Night (don’t judge me) and then a really jarring transition (more Montreal, you say?) into Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. It was going to finish there, but Simon MacDonald mentioned I need some Stan Rogers on there and he’s so totally right, so I downloaded Barrett’s Privateers and made that the big finish.

Not so much a Nova Scotia playlist as a really random sort through my music library. I had to keep it at that because I’m burning them to CD for the car, or else I’d’ve added some Burton Cummings, Holly Cole Trio, and a little Bryan Adams. I think I’ve got the CanCon spectrum pretty well represented through the last 30 years though, eh?

I’ve still got $6 left in my iTunes account (after I finally got around to replacing my old Purple Rain CD with digital music — yay!!) What do I need to add to round out my Canadiana road trip mix?

An ocean of fear

So as I mentioned, we’re starting to count down to our Nova Scotia vacation this summer. We’ve got a beautiful seaside cottage booked that has all the amenities I could possibly want or need, save for one: the bed doesn’t have any seatbelts or restraining straps. Not for the toddler, which will be a separate challenge, but for me.

You see, I have this deep and primal fear of wide open spaces and deep water. And seriously, does it get any more wide open or deep than the ocean? Gulp. It actually makes me a little squeedgy just thinking about it, being right there next to all that wide open blue-ness, with only a thin wall and tiny strip of road between me and the abyss. My chest is a little bit constricted, and the back of my knees are twitchy as I type. Honestly, I can’t even use the satellite view on Google Maps to scope out our cottage rental without feeling a lurching sense of vertigo.

I’ve always had this fear of wide open spaces. When I was a kid, I read every single book in the public library on astronomy, but almost never went outside and actually looked at the stars, because every time I did I had to dig my fingers into the grass to hold on for dear life, lest the earth fling me up into the endless vortex of space. When Beloved and I first got married, we had a little red Sunfire and I loved that car because I could sit in the driver’s seat with my seatbelt on and look at the stars through the moon roof, strapped in and perfectly secure. You might be laughing, but I’m serious!

It’s not just the night sky, though. You know those really big satellite dishes, not the consumer cable ones but the really big mothers? Yeah. They make me feel a little squeedgy, too. Something to do with them broadcasting out into space, I think, although there is absolutely nothing logical about this particular phobia — it’s as irrational as it is deep-seated.

The fear of deep water I may have come by through nurture instead of nature. When I was a kid, I jumped out of our little 16 foot boat to retrieve an anchor that had come loose from its line. Growing up in southern Ontario, it was my experience that any body of water in which you could see the bottom must be relatively shallow, so I jumped over the edge expecting to thump into the sandy bottom under about four feet of water. Unbeknownst to me, the perfectly clear water was closer to eight or ten feet deep, and I plunged in way over my head without touching the bottom, startling myself out of at least a year’s growth.

And it’s not just about swimming, either. When I flew to Europe in 1995 and again in 1999, I had to spend a lot of time telling myself, “We’re still flying over Labrador. Still flying over Labrador. Still flying over Labrador. Don’t look, don’t look. Still flying over Labrador, it’s all good.” *pause* “Okay, flying over Ireland now, flying over Ireland, I’m sure we’re flying over Ireland by now.” For the whole flight.

This spring, my folks went on a two week cruise from LA to Hawaii and back, and while I envied them the experience of visiting Hawaii, there’s no way I could do it. The cruise, I mean. The idea of being on a ship without *any* land in view? That’s so never going to happen. I can’t even stomach the idea of flying into Hawaii, because it’s this little tiny island in that vast sea of, well, sea. It wouldn’t take anything to slip off the edge of the island and sploosh, into the drink. *shudder*

So why the hell am I so hell bent on visiting the ocean that I’m willing to subject the entire family to 36 hours trapped in the car so I can spend a week not sleeping without tying myself into the bed for fear of the sea sucking me out into its murky spaciousness? For the same reason I always loved astronomy as a kid, I think. Like a moth drawn to a lightbulb. Because what terrifies you also fascinates you, and what repulses you is also compelling, at a fundamental level.

Plus, I don’t like to be afraid of things. I’m stubborn that way. While there’s no way in hell I’m ever going on a ship across that ocean, or even a big boat that carries me out of sight of land, I’ll choke down my fear and hold my breath to stand ankle deep in the surf. And try really hard not to shudder in front of the kids.

I have three kids, so not much scares me. Snakes, blood, heights, enclosed spaces — no problem. Bugs give me the creeping heebies, but what scares me on a truly visceral level are things that are deep, and vast. Like the ocean.

What freaks you out?

Planning for Nova Scotia

When we started planning our cross-country road trip to the east coast, we didn’t have much of an idea of what we wanted. East, because none of us have been further east in Canada than Quebec City, and ocean because we loved our family vacation to Bar Harbor, Maine in 2007, and because I love anything to do with water and beaches and boating.

After weeks of poking through links to vacation rentals, maps and family activities, and talking to anyone who would offer an opinion, we managed to narrow our focus from “east” to Nova Scotia, and then to the Lunenburg area. I figured if we were going to drive 18 hours to get near the ocean, we simply must stay somewhere actually adjacent to the ocean or at least with easy access or direct sight of it. I found this adorable seaside cottage that’s literally across the road from the ocean — the beach crawls right up to the road in front of the house, there’s a harbour a stone’s throw away, and you look out across the bay to the town of Lunenburg. I’m so excited I can barely stand it!!

Other than booking five nights at the cottage, though, our plans are pretty wide open. We figure we’ll make the hour and a half trek into Halifax one day, and maybe stop by Peggy’s Cove on the way home. Lunenburg is only 15 minutes away, so I’m sure we’ll spend a bit of time there. The cottage rental includes day passes to nearby Ovens Natural Park, which has some wicked-cool looking oceanside cliffs and caves — which I’m sure are completely appropriate for toddlers — but also a swimming pool and playground and a place where you can pan for gold! And since we’ve gone to the bother of making our way all the way to the ocean, there will be boating of some kind. And, um, I might take a picture or two. Ahem.

So talk to me, bloggy peeps. Do you have any recommendations for must-see family activities around Lunenburg, or Halifax? We’re planning on staying at a Days Inn or Comfort Inn or one of those non-descript, no more than a place to lie your head kind of hotels in Edmunston NB on the way down and back, simply because it’s cheap and half way, but I’d be open to your suggestions of other places to stay to break up the trip.

We’re facing about 18 hours of driving each way, which is a bit intimidating (especially given that two of the three kids have tendencies toward car sickness) but not the least of my worries. You know what really freaks me out?

The ocean. And I’ll blog about that tomorrow!

Talk to me about Nova Scotia!

Hey bloggy peeps, talk to me about Nova Scotia. We’ve been to Bar Harbor in Maine and Quebec City, but we’ve always wanted to go to Nova Scotia and have started talking about driving out there this summer. Three little kids in the car for four or five solid days of driving? Who wouldn’t want to do that? *wink*

I know some of you either have done a similar trip, live out there now or have lived there in the past, so I’m crowdsourcing your thoughts and opinions. I’m not even completely married to the idea of NS, if you think I should stop in New Brunswick or head over to PEI instead. I’d *really* like to visit Newfoundland, but I’m worried that the drive to Nova Scotia might be on the outer reaches of too far, let alone all the way up to the Rock.

I’m leaning toward Lunenburg, simply because someone suggested it to me and from what I’ve read it sounds lovely. Ideally, we’d find a seaside cottage big enough to accommodate all five of us with kid-friendly amenities. This looks like a good choice, for example, although I’m a little concerned about the size.

So tell me — what must we see in the Maritimes? What should we avoid? And, for those of you who travel regularly between Ontario and Nova Scotia, could you suggest a good place to break the trip into two manageable days? 16 hours of driving is out of the question right now, but eight hours times two days is feasible if we can find something fun to do along the way. I’m even open to making the trip out in three days, if we can find things worth seeing and doing on the way out there.

Any advice, insight or tips would be greatly appreciated!