Sand Dollar Beach, Nova Scotia


    A lovely day at this beach which is meant to be visited at low tide.  It is very shallow and warm.  I didn’t find any sand dollars this year but did last year.  The water feels soft. The place other worldly.

     Nearby is the awesome Rose Bay General Store which is store, restaurant,liquor store and bookstore.

    Rail Trail – Chester to Chester Basin

    I realized it had been six months somehow since I’d made any progress on my goal to hike the rail trail from Hubbards to at least Mahone Bay.  I had cycled it from Halifax to Hubbards.  But hiking it gave me much more time to savour things en route as long as those things weren’t insects which so far this summer haven’t been an issue.  It’s been pure bliss with interesting sightings mixed with just trees but time to think.  This section had some rocky sections which were tiring as my sneakers are thinly soled.  I came home exhausted this day though I had done over four hours and it was quite hot and months since my  last long hike.  I have already made Lunenburg though the last stretch was done by bike which was so fast with few photos.  I may do a bit more if I have time but I have covered a lot of ground recently.  It’s easy to do.

    Here are some highlights from this section of the trail in late June.

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    Duck  family.

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    This looks like an alien.

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    Lady  Slippers.  I saw many.  I haven’t seen them much for years.  Relative of orchids and supposedly don’t grow back for seven years if you pick them or so I was told as a child after I picked one.  Oh the shame.

    P1040477Bridge over calm water.

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    Look for the noisy guy who gave himself away.  There were a few but I only found this one.

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    Loving the lupine takeover.  Everything has its time in the sun.

     

     

     

     

    LaHave River to Petite Riviere

    Leaving Bridgewater which is the biggest town on the South Shore of Nova Scotia, you can loop down via the LaHave River which is mellow with many nice houses despite becoming increasingly remote with old houses and churches and buildings related to fishing.

    In my last post I mentioned the LaHave Bakery outlet in Mahone Bay but the main one is found here near where a ferry traverses the river.  It was bought by some people from Montreal and many places in the area seem to have attracted people from other places- such is the draw of the area.  One came to paint the murals in the supermarket from Toronto and stayed.  Others have an art gallery.  See this  post-https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LaHave,_Nova_Scotia

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    The LaHave Bakery is housed in a very old building and they even have on old style cash register.  Besides the fresh bread you can buy things such as pizza slices.  Cyclists are attracted to this route and everyone has the choice of sitting inside or out on the front deck on adirondack chairs or even at picnic tables, weather willing.

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    Next there is a park with a small museum.  Later you will come to Crescent Beach which is on of a few beaches that you can actually drive on.  I remember as a child being on this beach having corn boils or lobster boils or maybe it was clams as we used to dig for them.  Nowadays mussels have replaced clams are they are tasty and more easily found but back then they were shunned and we just used them to catch crabs we later threw back or even killed on the road I am sad to say.

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    Then comes Risser’s Beach which is very nice with a lovely view of drumlins on the hill and an inlet area popular with boaters and birds.  The boardwalk here is lovely.  The beach has full facilities and campgrounds.  I have heard it is one of the most popular campgrounds in Nova Scotia.  You can park in the campgrounds and walk under the road through a tunnel to reach the beach.  At first I found this confusing.  I didn’t know where to park.  Go to the campground area across the road from the beach for free parking.  Unlike places such as PEI, NS beaches are free even when serviced with lifeguards, canteens, showers and small museums.  What more could you ask?

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    After this is a small convenience store where I usually get an ice cream.  At this junction you could turn left to Green Bay where there are cottages, a small beach and a canteen with ice cream etc. or you could go right to Petite Riviere where there is an Art Gallery type shop and beyond that as you see the relaxing river on your right you will eventually come to the Petite Riviere Vineyard where you can try some wines.

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    After that carry on back to Highway 103 where you originally turned off to Bridgewater.  There is an interesting veggie stand en route back to Bridgewater or beyond.  It’s in Hebb’s Cross and called Bob and the Boys Farm Market.  You can also get ice cream there.

    Lunenburg County -Winery, Waterfall & More

    This September day started out in Mahone Bay with a sandwich at the LaHave Bakery.  It is not the original which I’ll feature in a future post but a small outpost that takes advantage of this very busy tourist town.  I often just buy day old bread and bagels there which have no preservatives and must be immediately frozen but taste so real.  This time I  bought a sandwich comprised of cheese and hot peppers with carrots on the side though you could get a less healthy side.  It was a lovely warm day for sitting outside which is nice as they don’t have much space inside.

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    I was hungry and then realized I should take a picture.  What was left.

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    Age appears to be best in four things; old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.

    Francis Bacon

     

    Nearby is the Tea Brewery though their building is for sale.  I hope they will stay on with different owners of the space.  I have some great Lavender Earl Grey tea from there.  Maritime Morning is another good one.

    Mahone Bay is known for the view of three churches and also has some nice restaurants and a pub.  It is often crawling with tourists.  Another favorite place of mine is Eli’s Cafe for a pastry and coffee when the weather is warm enough to sit out on the front deck.  There are always interesting characters to be  seen and some famous people have signed the wall inside.  Some have made a movie in this areas.  Service is variable and the price can be a bit much depending on what you get but I have liked my fancy Kicking Horse coffee and chocolate croissant.  My travel mate always has some kind of pastry with apple.

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    In the fall there is a Scarecrow Festival featuring some famous people such as royals and other creations to be seen.

    Next I headed to the Lunenburg County Winery which is known for wines made out of various fruit.  On highway 103 at Exit 11 you head the other way instead of the direction of Lunenburg.

    Age appears to be best in four things; old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.

     

    It had an overgrown vine feel to it along with barking dogs.  I was told it was popular in August and early September when people come to pick blueberries.  There seemed to be some ignored fruit trees with ripened fruit falling to the ground in this fertile place which seemed far away from everything.

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    At a small local liquor store I was surprised to find their wines of many fruit including blueberry, peach and pear.  I thought it seemed more of a spring, summer, fall thing but jump started that and tried a blueberry one.  It was light  and sweet and yet delivered a small punch.  Good for when you don’t want a heavy wine.  Easy to sip and hey, blueberries are very good for you.  There is a peppery taste too.  You don’t need food with this one.  Good for an early happy hour in the sun.

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    Nova Scotia is kind of the blueberry capitol of the world.  We export many.  Lots of healthy things grow here.  Another Lunenburg County company is doing well with the haskap berry which has many health properties.  They have lots of products.  Here is an interesting website about the features of the area.  I haven’t been to the haskap farm but it is LaHave Natural Farm in Lunenburg County and the haskap berry has great health properties.   I have tried a nice spicy chutney at a market  but it can be a jam and juice as well.  Here is what it looks like.  It has many anti-oxidants and is valued in Russia and Japan.  It is like a long blueberry.  They have a shop in Mahone Bay.

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    I love the sounds and the power of pounding water, whether it is the waves or a waterfall.
    Read more at: http://www.azquotes.com/quote/744534

    Further down the road I found Indian Falls.  As usual the sound of rushing water was a balm to my soul.  I took a short hike in this area and saw some wonderful sights.

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    On the way back there was a steep incline and after taking some photos  I wasn’t paying attention enough and almost didn’t grip the handrail on the way up.   There was even a sign warning about steep slopes and poor footing.  I hate to think what could have happened but am reminded of tragic tales of selfies gone wrong or just people trying to get that special shot.  When you are in this mode you are too creative and spacey and must become more aware of the details of your surroundings afterwards for your own safety before you move on.  Be sure to get out of photo mode before getting into hiking mode if the area is difficult to navigate.  There was even a sign warning about steep slopes and poor footing that I even took a picture of.

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    It’s hard to see but on the right side near the shore there is a bird that didn’t seem to notice me due to the noise of the water.

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    Wrap around root. Like a tree hug.

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    Another popular Canadian tea shop is David’s Tea where I get my loose leaf tea.  I especially like green tea such as Sencha, Genmaicha, Gyokuro Yamashiro or Dragonwell.  With tea or red wine some great accompaniments can be found at the Superstore.  Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds or Dark Chocolate, Pecan, Mango and Chili Flavour Bark.  Kind of healthy too.

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    As said don’t have this wine with dark chocolate as it is not heavy enough.  Maybe with light crackers and chutney and mellow cheese.  The haskap chutney may work well here.  There are lots of great things to eat and drink and see in Lunenburg County.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Remembering August in February

    Today was the perfect Groundhog Day.  It was cloudy when our wonderful Shubenacadie Sam came out to run around and not see his shadow which means not six weeks more of winter.  Check him out on his videocam if interested.  Shortly after Sam’s debut the sun came out for the rest of the day so it was the perfect mix.

    Meanwhile winter is winter and the low sun and coolish temperatures have one thinking of better times.  Today’s beach walk showed a mostly rocky beach and signs that a storm had thrown rocks and tree stumps all over the parking lot in Queensland while also causing erosion from some storm surge.  Have no fear as these beaches are said to regain their sandiness by summer though it sometimes looks impossible at this time of year.  It is all part of the process.  Nature is interesting that way.

    I decided to revisit warmer times in August when I went to the Ovens outside of Lunenburg which is a tourist haven.  I gave up waiting at popular places like the Salt Shaker Deli and so far I can’t recommend any other place I have tried there but I got a veggie sub from Subway and there were some Scandinavians in the line behind me who had figured it may be the best option this day too.  Lunenburg is the home of the schooner the Bluenose which is found on the Canadian dime.

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    On the way to the Ovens on the backroad 332 between Lunenburg and Bridgewater, I made a turn to have a look at Feltzen South which was a dead end and not that exciting though you could vaguely see historic Lunenburg in the distance.  Before I made my turn around on the quiet road I was truly blessed with the sight of a doe and fawn crossing the road coming from a small beach area for some reason.   My sudden arrival unfortunately separated the skittish fawn from her mother but after some thought she finally made an attempt to get back with her mama.

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    I looked up fawn quotes and somehow these were the best ones though I don’t get the connection.  I’ll ponder them anyway.

    Laugh when you can,
    apologize when you should,
    and let go of what you can’t change.
    Life’s too short to be anything… but happy.
    – Anonymous

    You are never too old to set another goal
    or to dream a new dream.
    – C. S. Lewis

    You cannot do a kindness too soon,
    for you never know how soon it will be too late.
    – Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Take time to laugh.
    It is the music of the soul.
    Take time to think.
    It is the source of power.
    Take time to play.
    It is the source of perpetual youth.
    Take time to read.
    It is the fountain of wisdom.
    Take time to pray.
    It is the greatest power on Earth.
    Take time to love and be loved.
    It is a God-given privilege.
    Take time to be friendly.
    It is the road to happiness.
    Take time to give.
    It is too short a day to be selfish.
    Take time to work.
    It is the price of success.
    – Anonymous

    Life is too important to be taken seriously.
    – Oscar Wilde

    I’ve been to many places around the world but they are so populated that I rarely get cool wildlife sightings like this.  I can remember a park or two in Costa Rica with an anteater and birds doing a mating dance.  Also I saw a donkey birth in Peru on the side of the road as well as llamas, alpacas, guanacos and condors.  There were flamingos in Bolivia and penguins in New Zealand in predictable places.  But really it doesn’t happen so often, even in so-called wildlife parks.  They really don’t want to see us.

    I took my sub to a picnic table at the Ovens park where you can also camp though the area is basic but the Ovens are a very different area.  Some camping areas are close to the caves and must have some surreal sounds.  There is a restaurant there as well.

    I bought my ticket and went through.  I had been there many years before as a small child so this was a trip down memory lane.  I remembered the swoosh of the water into the caves.  It was a lovely sunny day and there were boats out on the water.  It didn’t take too long to reach the end and turn back.  I saw an unfriendly man with a fancy camera so I knew this was a worthy sight.

    There was even a busker with either a bass or a cello.  I’m going with bass.  Looks big.

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    This area is made up of metamorphic slate with seams of quartz.  When gold was found here in 1861  a boom town quickly formed which disintegrated just as quickly three years later as gold boom towns tend to do.  Oscar Young  managed to get the land back that once was owned by his adopted parents in 1935 and this park was opened.

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    In this area mariners of the 1800’s ran aground on the reef so it was eventually avoided.

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    John Tucker supposedly followed a gold vein here through slate to this sea cave.  The steps can be a bit slippery.

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    You will be handed a paper with an interpretive tour.  This is point #4 which is Indian Cave Look Off.  There is an old legend that a Mi’kmac Indian entered this cave by canoe and came out on the other side of the province in Annapolis which is in the valley.  Not sure if this is even possible but Indian legends like to make the impossible possible.

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    Scary viewpoints.  I saw a toad on one set of stairs.

    Somewhere there is a blowhole.  When conditions are right it will send up surf, seaweed and large rocks up to 80 feet in the air.  I didn’t see this unfortunately.

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    This is just a sampling of what you can see.  This area has also had movies shot here with such people as Tom Selleck, Linda Hamilton, Stephen Baldwin and Roseanna Arquette.  Twice cars were driven off these cliffs to dramatic effect.

    I still had some time so I went on down the coast to find a beach I’d read about.  It was known to have lots of shells.  It was hard to find but after seeing many parked cars my intuition told me to make the turn and I found it though parking was hard to find.  Sand Dollar Beach is found at Rose Bay.  According to Beaches of Lunenburg Queens by Vernon Oickle, “Sand Dollar Beach is described as a hidden gem at high tide, but the real treasures can be found when the tide is low.”  It is thought to be very unique.  I unfortunately had camera problems so here are some images from the Internet.

     

    This is similar to sand dollars found there but the beach is pure sand, not stone like in this picture.

    Many people were wandering along this beach with a low tide and warm tidal pools with cool shells that I picked up.  A German family strolled along with an older mother, father and grown son.  The mother had only a bra on top.  Different.  A grandmother and her two young grandchildren walked by and the granddaughter said that when she was older she would get a car and come here.  The younger brother asked if she would take him and she said no.

    Check out this video.  I have never seen a live sand dollar before.

    I did some seeking and actually came out with some dead, white sand dollars the beach was famous for as well as some shells.  They are so cool and  I felt lucky as many were looking.  The tide was out and it would take a long time to walk out and be under water and I wanted to swim but my co-traveller was anxious as usual to get some groceries and get home and cook supper so it would have to wait till another time but this is a beach I would definitely like to come back to.

    Sand dollars are known as sea biscuits or snapper biscuits in New Zealand or pansy shells in South Africa.  They are related to sea urchins, sea cucumber and starfish.  This makes sense especially now knowing the live ones have little feelers like starfish and of course a similar five angle appearance.  They are both like magical stars fallen from heaven though I rarely see starfish anymore.  As a kid I definitely saw them alive and moving.  They were purple.  People have dried ones for decorations in their windows.  I hope they were dead before they took them.

    Sand dollars can be green, blue, violet or purple.  They have external fertilization.  The sexes are separate.

    Under the right conditions when resources are plentiful they can also clone themselves asexually.  Given the state of human relations at times this could be the future for some humans too.

    Around predatory fish they may also clone themselves even if doubling their numbers means halving their size.  They have a better chance of more surviving the attack.   Cool survival strategy.

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    Proof that sand dollars do move.
    In folklore sand dollars are thought to be mermaids’ coins.  I like this image.

    If I’d read the book more carefully I would have realized I should have stopped at Riverport which is a fishing village I passed on the way out.  At the turn off for this heritage and quaint place I saw some nice old buildings.  I have driven past it twice in recent years and now regret it.  Next time as I always say.  Always more to see.  It truly was a wonderful day with a lovely variety of sights.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Chinese Lanterns

    A few years ago I found some of these beauties in the winter after they had lost most their orange Halloweenish look which they have after their green start.  Asia is not really a place for Halloween and these plants fit in better in their adopted home of North America  as they look a bit like hanging pumpkins.  A bit of east meets west.  They are indigenous to Eurasia but grow here too

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    A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows public opinion

    Chinese Lantern Festival Quote

     

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    They are part of the nightshade family which includes tomatoes, peppers and eggplants.  The pod is OK but the other parts can be poisonous.  I didn’t know this.  They can be invasive but are very interesting looking  in all of their phases I think.  I later read that people dry them indoors hanging upside down.  The seeds are used in a Japanese festival to guide the deceased.

    Some use them for floral decoration and say keeping them upright will preserve them.  You can cut the vein and it will curl up in interesting ways.  Mine sure didn’t stay the same after I brought them inside.  They were very futuristic.  It seemed like something alien may come out at any time.

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    Some pods had a seed and some didn’t.  I wonder why.

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    Is this your inner soul laid bare?  Is there hope for tomorrow or are you an empty shell of your former self?  We can be reborn again into a new life within this life if needed.  Start again when required.

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    A dark soul.

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    Empty souls going nowhere.

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    Into the light yet still veiled from the truth.

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    Final testing in the dark until an eventual chance at metamorphosis in the spring.

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    Oysters from Malpeque, Prince Edward Island on NYE.  This is a good place for oysters but these were not as juicy and luscious as some.  Perhaps I will find better for Valentine’s Day.  Also my favourite cheese that I only get for special occasions.  Canada has some pretty good cheese.

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    P1040096.JPG A beautiful January sunrise on the Atlantic Ocean.  Sunsets can be nice too and also stars proliferate with extra clear skies in the winter.  The truth can be seen.

     

     

     

     

    Rail Trail – Chester to Goat Lake

    So I thought I was brave doing this trail on Boxing Day when it was 6  but today in January it was a few degrees below zero and little sun due to angles of the low sun and another nearby trail was full of people old and young despite the icy conditions.  There were more people out than I saw back in July so it just goes to show.  Get out there when the weather is half decent.  Walk hard and you will become warm and refreshed.  It feels better than sweating in the summer.  I just read about a South Floridian enjoying not sweating while living through his first winter experience in Cape Breton which is generally worse than where I report from.  Going out and walking now you will be revived  and feel hot when you return home.  You will also enjoy taking a hot shower afterwards.

    But this post is about a few weeks ago when on Boxing Day I decided to walk off some Christmas turkey  and do my annual Turkey Walk.

    I forced myself out of the isolation we can get into during the holidays when everything is closed and not much is happening.

    I was glad I did as the weather was nice and I was motivated by a pre-storm day the same as today  when I feel I should take advantage of the trail before the next snow makes walking more difficult though I have heard much about snowshoeing lately and am tempted.  I had no idea I would  be out there for four hours but this time I had a lunch so I was set.

    I started at the old Chester train station which is visitor information centre in the summer.

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    The day after I was there it would be shown in the news as the Christmas decorations were  ransacked by young guys on a rampage doing destruction from there to the Hubbards mall.  My lovely photo was the same one on the news the next day.  I remember seeing signs about security cameras there so I hope this was what led to them being caught.

    Chester is a cute town that attracts many including rich Americans.  It has a golf course and yacht club as well as nice cafes, a fancy restaurant and the Chester Playhouse which has interesting plays, musicals and concerts that I have been to.

    There are a few pubs too but I favour The Foc’sle  which is the oldest pub in Nova Scotia.  I really like the chicken wings.  Here are a few things I have had there.  I have also had a burger on burger night.  There is also a pasta night among others.  Notice the draft below is two tone with dark stout on top.  Black and tan on the menu below.

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    The wings are breaded and wonderful with the Thai Chili sauce on the side among others.  Somehow I don’t have a picture of them.   I must have dived into them(no pun intended) before I had a chance to take a picture.  Wing night is on Thursday as is often the case in Nova Scotia.

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    It’s also one of the smallest washrooms ever with rather suggestive doors.

     

     

     

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    The map is a bit shaded but I went from “You are here” to the fourth lake bridge.

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    Meanwhile back on the trail I was thinking this strip was almost too urban as I was seeing too many houses and hearing countless barking dogs in kennels not to mention passing various cemeteries.  There was a cool ranch like property and then finally it got a bit away from humans and I saw fungi and rock structures.

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    It was timely to pass three perfect Christmas trees.

    You would think this time of year would be boring but not so as the fallen leaves revealed abandoned nests.

    Not long after passing a property  full of rusting buses and cars and things I came across a lovely lake that really made the walk worthwhile.

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    I thought I saw beaver dams too in two of the next three pictures.  This looks like an area they would like.  I saw one crossing a highway several months ago.  Their back legs seem to be better suited for swimming as they drag along.  They have been known to bite if you ever get too close to them.

    There were trees not quite swamped yet as if this lake was expanding still.

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    I ate my lunch here and enjoyed the sun. A pita wrap with turkey, apple, spinach and old cheddar mixed with mayo and dijon mustard.  I left some pita for the birds but I checked hours later and they still hadn’t found it.

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    6 degrees in the sun walking briskly is divine.  I had briefly misread the signs and headed back until a reread made me realize I had almost made Goat Lake again from the other side and so I had to drive back to the point I had left off.  This led to me finding another cool vantage point on this lake.  It looks like it is still expanding over the land.

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    I saw five trees in one and then a rooty area.  After that was an installation I called wasted apples.

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    Then I carried on past a boring section until in the mid afternoon December shade I was once again coming on to Goat Lake which had somehow originally attracted me.

     

    The  view through the trees showed a nice hillside area.  Next I saw some ducks on the edge of the lake but it wasn’t long until I found the grand prize.   Look hard at this picture before moving on.  Do you see it?

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    Goat Lake had given me the best sighting of all of my travels in recent months.  I had been drawn there and I knew not why.  Something to think about for the future.  This was something I had never expected to see though many wish to.  Chances are better at night but if you look hard you can be lucky as they like to sit still and hope no one sees them.  On a recent nature show someone said the same.  That you could pass by numerous times and not even notice but this time the shape was unmistakable and it caught my eye.  I got my pictures.  Even seeing it again in pictures it still seems surreal.

    I knew that I had seen my first owl.  It was mystical and unexpected and unbelievable.  At first it looked gray in the shade but my pictures revealed brown stripes so I think it was a barred owl which is common here and there are even tours in March to see them at night when they are nesting and getting ready to make babies.  There should be plenty of hooting and hollering.

    It was a bit scary the way it sat and stared at me as most animals choose flight when faced with humans.  The only other option is fight and there are stories of owls attacking people.   See this.

    It can be good luck or bad luck to see one.  I’ll go for good luck.  It was a bit scary  as it just stared at me and I think it even spun its head 180 degrees as its face disappeared.  I’m glad it didn’t find me a threat.  They are known as familiars of witches and I did see a witch-like woman later on cleaning up dog dirt she told me.  Times have changed.  I have seen it too and also the guilty owners smiling at me as they thought they’d get away with it.

    I was only worried about certain bad males in the woods.  Do I need to worry about other predators?  If they don’t go away quickly they could attack.  Fight or flight.  You decide.  There could even be bears though this time of year probably not.

    My final delight was to relish the shush shish of this mossy, happy flowing stream to the lake.  I was alone and just one person in nature feeling its power and emptiness and yet everything was right in this one brief moment.  The possibly attacking yet wildly intriguing owl was forgotten and no humans were nearby at that time.  I deeply enjoyed this one spot until I quickly decided it was getting late and I should return home.  Back to reality once again.  Goat Lake had not disappointed.

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    Rail Trail – East River in Search of Goat Lake

    Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.

    W.H. Auden

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    It was a very warm day for nearly mid December and so I had to continue on the trail from the last post.  I wasn’t going to miss this chance.  Shoes were laced and the map at the entrance was checked.  A woman and her dog happened out at that moment and I asked her how long to Goat Lake.  She looked taken aback so I figured she had never walked that far.  “At least an hour”, she said.  I figured on at least an hour and a half  one way as I checked the map  which showed a big upward loop and her perplexed face.  I was closer to right.

    I had wanted to see Goat Lake up close and personal especially since  from the highway it looks heart-shaped.  That makes it seem special and I was determined to see it face to face.

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    Three hours is a good maximum, I find though it can be closer to four with pictures and lunch stops and looking at things.  There is never enough time but one day I hope there will be.

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    This time I had started early enough not to worry about faltering light and coolness.  It was not too long after 11 but I hadn’t brought any lunch thinking I would be out of there in two hours but of course that didn’t happen.  Will I never learn?

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    This trail has a big upward loop up as if to avoid some land formations.  I saw a minor hill and maybe a bit of bog.

     

    This post I want to focus on water as there was much on this trail and I find it really makes landscapes more interesting.  The sound and sight touches the soul and causes pause for thought.

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    Trees are relaxing and there will always be fascinating flora and fauna but my heart goes all thumpity thump when I hear rivers and waterfalls or it relaxes when I stare at still water.  Nature has me in the palm of her hand and I couldn’t be happier.  I will continue to let this goddess rule over me in her fair, balanced and peaceful way.

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    Water is my drink of choice all day long.  When co-workers hit the pop machine in the lunch room I will be sucking back my tap or cooler water in a bottle.  I love it.  It is the first thing I drink in the morning and the last thing at night.  In between will be coffee, tea and perhaps beer and wine.   We usually need it to clean and cook our food.

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    It is necessary to wash body, clothes and dishes.  I often think about it when there are power outages and it could become scarce.  I also think of it when in foreign lands and I must always buy it by the bottle.

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    What else can be so useful for body and soul?  I need it all the time for living but when I am around it in nature my soul is nourished in ways that trees just can’t accomplish.  Beaches are also amazing with their pulsing sound, eternal feel and salty smell.  They are the human and animal life blood personified on land.

    Water is also necessary to wildlife as more than just a thirst quencher as I will find out on a future trail which leads to some unique findings.

    So I see lovely ponds and rivers and on this trail I get to pass under the highway.  How weird to have 18 wheelers going over your head as you walk along.

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    I passed another lake which later would have two men on ATV’s sitting there when I came back.  I was a bit disconcerted as they were smoking and drinking but I was friendly yet brisk and was looking at my phone just in case.  Like the city you need your survival strategies.

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    One woman told me she was more worried about animals.  I feel humans could be worse but on the next trail (Chester to Goat Lake) I saw something possibly violent which made me think differently.  I have never seen a bear but they are a possibility.  I always forget what you should do except not run with your back to them I think.

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    There was so much peace inspiring and soul calming water and silence on this trail.  Some would find it fear inducing as I have heard European travellers do as they are not used to it.  I am happy to become more accustomed to this.

    I found it to be one of the most beautiful yet until I hit a dull tree only stretch not long after venturing into the woods to see a mystical mossy area where fallen logs made bridges by chance.  It felt weird going off trail as maybe things lived there in the dark, mossy area where humans never went.  It felt untouched and almost magical

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    P1030730.JPGSo I was eventually running out of steam in my search for Goat Lake.  There was a bog which was interesting and a chickadee seemed out of place in the woods.  They like human inhabited areas.

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    Just as I was about to turn back prematurely I heard the highway and knew that Goat Lake must be nearby.   And then I saw this and knew I was close.

    I was finally almost at Goat Lake.  I had to remember I needed energy to reverse my tracks back.   I remember by chance I encountered a talk in a bookstore in York, England and wished I had stayed longer.  I always remember the speaker talking about climbing a mountain and he said that younger people would often surge ahead and not conserve energy and food or water for the downward trek.  This was a flat trek but similar rules applied I thought.  I have to walk back as far as I walked in.

    This is another travel lesson I try to apply to life whenever necessary.  All I had on this trek was a granola bar and water.  See my granola bars of choice below.

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    When I finally got to Goat Lake it looked more like a spade than a heart.  I wonder what the means.  Maybe things are often better at distance.  At least I made it.

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    I was nearly the only one on the trail though there were a few on ATVs this time which I hadn’t seen lately.  They seemed friendly but they do temporarily ruin the peace.  In the summer on the Hubbards to East River trail they were stirring up dust and going faster than the trail guide recommended.

    Made it to my goal.

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    Is that the devil’s pitchfork?P1030772

     

    More amazing water still looking good in late fall.

    Still so far to go but I will make it nearly four hours.  So much to see and the silence and solitude are regenerating.  I can do this alone in the middle of nowhere.

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    A former bird home in this tree I think.

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    You’d think coming back on the same trail there would be little to take pictures of but there are always different views on the way back.

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    A dead tree in a boggish area pointing the way.

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    I took a side trail and found that water had caused it to become impassable for some reason.

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    Water made this trail very relaxing and beautiful.  My desire to get to the water of Goat Lake had made me continue on beyond my initial point of tiredness which I love doing.   Push yourself past where you thought you could go.

    Water also caused foam in some areas.  This is a cool sight.  The power of water.P1030833.JPG

     

    P1030827.JPGThis picture belongs in the last post about wood and trees.  Here you see a birch tree with the paper coming off.  This is how messages were originally written.

    In the next section I will write about how water attracted or housed various creatures.  One I had never seen before and it was pretty cool yet a bit scary.

    At times especially with the ATV men I was reminded of the book/movie Wild.  A woman alone on a trail except this one is flat and graded and I do it just by day without needing to camp on it.  There are potential dangers mixed in with the beauty.  Still I feel compelled to keep following it and the next post will document the other half of this section which is Chester to Goat Lake as I park at one end and do half and then come back  and always see different things on the return trip while trying to relive what I saw on the way in and this time of year the low sun can change things quite quickly on every step of the way.

     

     

     

     

     

    Rail Trail – Hubbards to East River

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    “To dwellers in a wood, almost every species of tree has its voice as well as its feature.”
    Thomas Hardy, Under the Greenwood Tree

    This post is an ode to wood.  I love trees and living in Canada there are so many everywhere.  Wood can be used for houses and furniture and books and toothpicks.

    It is a Christmas tree and while on my way to the second half of this trail I saw a truck loaded with them and the driver was standing beside it in late November in tank top.  Not something you usually see but it was quite a warm late fall.  While on the trail and walking quickly I did take off a layer or two.  Nova Scotia exports Christmas trees to the US and beyond.

    Trees contribute to our air quality and they provide shade for us and cover for plants and animals.  They are beauty and solitude to trail hikers.  Places with few trees are worse off.   They are too dry and not fertile and people suffer in heat and without the sense of serenity  they provide.  Trees ground us to our planet.  They also provide warmth when we burn them  and coolness when we stand under their shade.

    There are many trails throughout Nova Scotia that used to be the old railway.  On the South shore it was finally finished around 1904 but only 65 years later the death knell was sounded after all the work and investment done by those who thought it so necessary.  Times changed and other routes were more viable and businesses and social conditions changed  making rail not such a great option.

    This is a pity as I have enjoyed rail travel in many countries I have travelled in.  That said it is not generally the mode of travel in most of the Americas.  The road tends to rule here.

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    I first set out on this trail from Hubbards to part way to East River on a sunny mid-July day.   This trail is accessed at Exit 6 on highway 103 and I will eventually get to Exit 7 and finish it from the opposite direction.

    I hiked a lot and please give me extra points for having to endure these weird bugs that kept going for my head and led me to having to put up my hoodie and flail my hand often.  Luckily I had a hoodie with me  as I have never needed to do that before.  One girl trotted through with only a dog and a tank top somehow.  These damn thing were buzzing at my head for hours but I was determined to make tracks and good thing as it was quite rainy for the remainder of July after my hike.

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    I saw a rabbit and a deer but a cyclist ruined my camera shot by coming around at the worst time just as the deer and I had a nice stare down from a distance.P1020387

    I had lunch at one of the picnic tables that is distributed on the trail.  As usual I was walking to a point that would be easily marked and that was a bridge  so that I could finish it later.

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    I saw many interesting sights like bogs and forests and rivers and other bodies of water.  It was a good four hours of walking as I covered a lot of the trail.  Looks like a beaver dam below.

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    Another friend on the trail who didn’t run away too quickly was this guy who looks like a groundhog.

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    Fast forward more than four months when I have stopped doing longer distance trips so I am focusing on shorter trips with hikes and I finally decide to finish this trail but I was busy actually writing the last post and it was getting late and I wanted to take advantage of the unseasonably warm temperatures at the end of November so after my first failure in the early afternoon of a bike tire blowing out, I got a drive back home and quickly started out by car to the other end of the trail so I could walk it to the point I had left off before.  I was determined despite the lateness of the afternoon in November.  The sun was quickly fading and lowering as I started out at 2:44.  I rarely start this late even in summer.

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    The tower with the Canadian colors are from a factory called Canexel and this will be my guiding force coming back as light fails and cold comes on.  When at last I see this I know the end of the trail has come and I will not be stuck in the dark alone.  In later research I find out that Canexel which I have driven past many times, makes cool products that improve our lifestyle.  Nice wood siding that is nicer than metal and plastic.  Natural style on the outside of your house is more appealing.  Stone or brick are also nice.

    There are things out there and here are their tracks.  Will I see anything this time?

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    I was under the gun to get in and out before darkness fell.  So I entered at East River and walked back quickly.   I found many cool things to take a picture of despite it being late November.  It was different but just as interesting.  It made me think of the Japanese concept of wabi sabi.  One can find beauty in desolation and solitude.  Recognizing the fading and changing of things as we do in autumn is an esoteric practice that fulfills us.

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    There are apples still hanging in trees that look finished for the season.

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    It was this warm that the caterpillars came out.  I also saw flies.P1030492

    I was surprised how interesting the trail still looked in late fall though it was warmer than usual.  Fall can show up neat things as well as summer.  Hint: these are the two best seasons here.

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    The road travelled.  With so many evergreens summer and fall can seem the same minus the bugs and some birds.

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    Look at the nice ripples in the pond from this struggling moth.  There is a philosophical message here somewhere.

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    A distant view of the ocean.  I didn’t have time but you can go downhill to a nice beach from here.P1030518

    A distant view of the ocean.  I didn’t have time but you can go downhill to a nice beach from here.

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    These fall bullrushes look like afghan hound heads.

    A foamy bit and an interesting plant.

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    It looks like snow but it is only moss.

    Someone made a cairn.  Nice.

    Finally I made it to the bridge I went to in July and just in the nick of time as the light was fading and it would be cold and dark soon.

    This is everything in this moment of nature.  If you are in a nature moment please savour it.  Today I heard a girl say she couldn’t go three hours without her phone.  I am so happy I don’t understand that concept.  I am here and now in these woods alone needing nothing and no one.

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    Adam and Eve beware.  The apple is hanging in a tempting way.

     

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    Back to the wood for Canexel’s siding.  I made it back before dark at a fast clip.  It was still warmish.  I was safe.  Canadian wood.  I am home.

    Some people have  a limited concept of what is beautiful and meaningful.  It is far more than sun and palm trees.  Many places on the planet can cause you to pause and think.  Besides verdant forests or balmy beaches, I find myself loving empty spaces such as dry deserts or quiet salt plains.  Trails with just me in them better yet.  Rivers and mosses and lakes and waterfalls get me excited not to mention dried up plants and out of place insects.

    A few weeks after this hike I also went to East River for a church fundraiser where you could have a turkey or lobster dinner.  The lobster dinner was work and there were only crackers and not scissors  to cut or picks to pull things out with.  It had been a while since I cracked into one but I got most of the meat out.  Beware the spiny sides of the claws.  Later that week a work celebration included the same three salads-macaroni, potato and coleslaw.  Also a pickle and bun but with cold cuts.

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    Lobster is in season in December and May though always available.  Right now I see them outside my house pulling up their traps and throwing out the smaller ones.   Today in the early orangeish sky the fisherman were out in the distance checking traps.  It was quite cold then but very pretty.  We don’t always think of the conditions they must endure to get their catch.  December is a time to enjoy seafood.  Merry Christmas and beyond!