Monday, August 7, 2017

Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia

Nearly a year ago, April had read some sort of travel blog about the best places to camp in Nova Scotia. Among the list of best waterfront campsites was King Neptune Campground in Indian Harbour. It stood out to her because the author mentioned that his little boy had said "this is heaven" as he navigated the rocky beach and explored all sorts of sea life in the shallow water.  He mentioned the joy of doing nothing but sitting and watching the sea.  That did sound joyous.

This article, and more specifically, this campground, inspired this year's trip to Nova Scotia.  About an hour west of Halifax, we cruised through adorable seaside villages and coves full of colorful dories until we found our dream campground. Thankfully, it did not disappoint.

We were greeted by King Neptune's super friendly host, and given our choice of two remaining seaside sites.  Sporting amazing views as well as some serious local color, our kids made a beeline for the sea as soon as we arrived.  As Mark set up camp, April watched the boys navigate the slippery rocks down to the water, and yelled "be careful" approximately 10,000 times per minute from the grass 10 feet above.  Max found a crab. Andrew tried to pop some slimy "seaweed eggs" and shot a healthy doss of gross sea slime into his mouth.  All was well and coastal.

Eventually, some older kids showed up. They were pretty familiar with the beach and were climbing as high up on the huge boulders as they could get. Max and Andrew followed until April literally could not stand the danger any more, and made them come down.  Max made it all the way down safely, until the last rock, which was wet and slimy. As he stepped on it, he saw the crab he'd spied earlier, and started jumping with joy. And then he fell off the giant rock into the cove... head first.  April's heart literally stopped and from 10 feet above all she could see was him disappear. Thinking that he'd either hit his head or be stuck underwater, or both... she started screaming for Andrew to help and began climbing down the rocks in her very unprepared flip flops.  As Andrew quickly crawled over to rescue his brother, Max popped out from between the rocks, sobbing and soaked but otherwise fine. He had fallen between the boulders and on to the only patch of soft, sandy sea bottom for miles. He'd wiggled his way back up and out of the shallow water and, by the grace of God, was more scared than anything else.

By this time April had crawled down to him, scooped him up, and banned seaside rock climbing forever.  Max looked at her, sea water and tears dripping from his eyelashes, and wailed:

"I think I need chocolate."

Then chocolate you shall have, little buddy. Mommy is so sorry she let you explore those rocks. Parenting fail.  

Ironically, the next morning we had planned to explore Peggy's Cove.  Peggy's Point Lighthouse is said to be one of the most photographed structures in Canada and one of the most recognizable lighthouses in the world. Situated on an extensive outcropping of granite, there are signs posted for miles around about the dangers of walking and climbing on these wet rocks. Nevertheless, the adorable village of Peggy's Cove and especially its lighthouse are swarmed with tourists.

Lesson learned, we elected to forgo the rocky walk out to the lighthouse and drive slowly by instead.

After snapping a few photos, we drove down to the center of town and scored some of the best ice cream ever at Dee Dee's Ice Cream.

April fell in love with the cayenne-spiked Mexican Chocolate ice cream, and went on and on about it so much that even the kids wanted to try the frozen delight.  Two licks later, their mouths were on fire. Two parenting fails in less than two days.  When Mark suggested a hike a few minutes later, April almost lost it. "Are you crazy? Everything is too dangerous around here!" Clearly, she was in need of a nap.  And more ice cream.

By the next day, we'd all had a good night's sleep and felt much better about everything.  We drove an hour into Halifax and booked a sightseeing tour with I Heart Bikes.

Mark was on a tandem bike with Andrew, with seats that were not properly attached and swiveled with every turn. April was riding a Robin's Egg Blue beach cruiser and pulling an extra 100 pounds (Max + baby bike trailer + insane backpack full of nonsense) behind her.  At this point, we didn't know that Halifax was so damn hilly.

Blissfully unaware of the terrain before us, we set out for a 4 hour tour of the city with our guide, Laura, who looked, sounded and acted exactly like our Decibels Audiology super star blogger, Anna Snyder.  We made it a point to keep calling her Anna, even though she had no idea why. "Anna," having grown up in Halifax, knew so much about the city and its rich history, and even more about finding every incline with which to torture us.

Mark claims that his legs never got tired, and that he was just sweating so much because his seat was uncomfortable.  Must have been nice to be on that bike with two people peddling.  

Working our way up the hills (can we just call them mountains... because ughhhhh they were so tall) was grueling, but coming down the hills with all that extra weight on the back of a rental bike with worn out brakes was terrifying. In short, our guide was awesome, let us take lots of breaks, and admitted that she too complains every day about having to pedal up those mountains. She also said that no other family in her one month of guiding these tours had gone as far as we did while towing kids.  Thank you, Anna. That was very sweet of you to say.  Please pardon our excessive sweating.

In between all the peddling, we did manage to take in some great Halifax sites...

Prince of Whales Tower National Historic Site...

Halifax Public Gardens...

Halifax Citadel...

Halifax Public Library...

Anna took us for ice cream at a place called.... you guessed it.... Dee Dee's. No guilt about consuming ice cream after the 4 hour hill-a-thon, April frolicked inside for more Mexican Chocolate on a sugar cone.  Nom nom nom.

As we ate, the boys entertained Anna....

Andrew: "Anna, no one carries swords anymore. Now they carry pepper spray."

Max: "Anna, what's the beaver's motto?"

Anna didn't know that beavers had a motto, but she did know that she was ready to be rid of us. Just after 2:30 pm, Anna brought us back to the bike shop and happily sent us on our way.

Speaking of food (of course), we had promised ourselves that we would not leave Halifax without trying one of their famous Donairs.  Made famous when a local Greek dude changed his lamb gyros to beef in order to please the local lamb-haters, it's like a beef gyro with a sweetened condensed milk and vinegar sauce. In a pita. With tomatoes and onions. It's also something you'd typically eat after drinking... heavily... ideally at 2am.

Home of the original Canadian Donair, we pulled into King of Donair on our way out of town and pick up two Donairs to go.  Sauce on the side.

What did we think? Welllllllll.... do you know what store-bought frozen meatballs taste like when you microwave them? The meat is spongy and gritty like that. And the sauce is like frosting. A bite each into the first sandwich, we threw it away.

Back at the campground, we still had our second, untouched Donair. We didn't want it, but we didn't want to throw perfectly good food away.  We spied an older gentleman, also from Florida, sitting alone outside his camper van.  April waltzed over and offered him the local snack, and got herself a hug and an offer to "be (his) next girlfriend" in exchange for the gesture.  "My wife is gluten free, you see," he said. "You don't know what you've done for me! I'm going to put this in the fridge and enjoy this... alone... away from her... for breakfast."

April wasn't sure if he'd misheard her and thought it was a doughnut... or if he really did plan on having the meaty pita for breakfast, but she was happy to have made his day either way.

Our third day in Halifax brought much-needed rain to the area, and a good reason lay around the camper and relax, enjoying the view. Max made a ghost-trap out of a piece of wood, newspaper, tape and some string. Paired with a foam rifle, he was afraid of no ghost.


For lunch, we walked down the street to Rhubarb and enjoyed the best lunch of the trip. Salads with homemade dressing and pizza crust made with ginger ale, this place was tops.  Not only was the food fantastic, but the craft cocktails made for quite the Sunday Funday.  Rhubarb Moscow Mule, anyone? Yes, please!

We asked about buying a bottle of the Ironworks Distillery Rhubarb Liqueur and were thrilled to find out that it's made just down the road in Lunenburg, our next stop! Woohoo! Halifax, you can keep your challenging bike rides and your frosting sandwiches, we're heading down the street to the distillery! Rhubarb booze or bust! To Lunenburg, and beyond!

P.S. We didn't know how to work this into the blog... so we're just going to leave this here... Enjoy :)

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