Destination: Halifax wal-mart, Nova Scotia
We called the Kejimkajik National Park line that morning, hoping to reserve some spots or find out if there was space for first-come-first-serve, but their backpacking was completely booked. Christine and I talked for almost an hour, trying to figure out how to salvage our plan. Unfortunately, the only way it would work would have been if we prolonged our stay in the East for another few days and then tacked on three days of backpacking to the end of that. It just wouldn’t work with our timeline. We were on schedule and didn’t have the space to add in that many extra stationary days. There wasn’t even anything we could actually cut because so much of our itinerary from that point on included driving days. So our conclusion was to cut the three-day backpacking trip and our visit to Kejimkajik altogether. This broke my heart because it would have been our only full-day-in with backpacking, as opposed to one-day-in, next-day-out. There’s something about that magical middle day where you don’t have to do anything if you don’t want to – where you spent the full day immersed in nature. I needed time to grieve this new reality. Originally, as I’ve mentioned the trip had been meant to be about sixty days with several opportunities for backpacking. That was the ‘ideal’ trip. When we had to start shaving time down, those were all the first to go. I’d held on to this one after we hadn’t been able to do any out West, and now I saw it as the last opportunity lost.
However, once the decision was made, our lives were a little easier. In fact, due to cutting the interior time, we freed up a couple days. We drove a long while to make up for the hour spent hemming and hawing over the decision, and we ended up in Peggy’s Cove after a very determined and winding drive.
Christine had been there before, but this was my first trip east and I’d never seen it! There are so many famous sites in Canada, it’s unbelievable. I couldn’t believe we’d been so fortunate as to see as many as we had already, and I knew there was plenty more to come. It’s always a little surreal when you finally arrive in person to see the thing you’ve only seen in photographs over the years.
Someone from the United States said to me, after I came back from this trip, “Oh, I heard Canada is so beautiful!” and it took me aback for a moment. I found it hard to understand that they could say Canada, which is larger than the US, is beautiful – as if it’s a monolith and all the same! It blew my mind because I wanted to explain, yes, all Canada is beautiful, but every part is so different. The sublimity of the spiked mountains in the west, the vast flatlands in Saskatchewan with their snowglobe milky way skies, the red sands of PEI, the rocky seascapes of the east… It is only a country in name. In reality, it is hundreds of beautiful parts that make a sum that cannot rest at being called beautiful. It feels like paltry praise to try to describe Canada without investing in a thesaurus. Even then, I yearned for words that hadn’t yet been created to give voice to this experience.
It was rather late when we arrived, after 5:30pm, but there were still tour buses pulling in and out – just not as many as would normally be there. Because of that, we were able to get several photos of the famous lighthouse without anyone in them!
We spent a lovely evening by the sea, exploring the rocks and taking lots of photographs. I loved climbing up the rocks – they had good grip to them, unlike the famous white quartzite of Killarney Provincial Park where I’d sustained a good number of falls. But they were smooth and rolling, with little collections of seawater in the dips and crevices from when the waves got zesty.
We loved seeing the little creatures that lived in these water collections, little urchins and anemones and other things we weren’t quite sure about. It’s like a universe within a universe. Did the creatures even know they were on land – did they know how many humans passed them every day? Were they in more danger there than in the depths beneath the waves? We felt lucky to get to see them. Without snorkeling, you wouldn’t any other way.
When we’d had enough, we went to find our wal-mart for the night.
We discovered we were in the middle of a huge plaza – with an Imax! We decided it was time to go see a movie. We hadn’t done anything like that since we’d started our trip and it was fun to settle into something that felt so ‘normal’. We grabbed dinner first, at East Side Marios’. We got endless wings and also ordered a pitcher of sangria. I would rather have had endless sangrias! We filled up on the salads mostly, as they’d been something of a rarity so far.
We got popcorn with our movie because, you have to! And the film was called Ingrid Goes West, starring Aubrey Plaza, who I just adore. She plays an obsessed Instagram superfan who wants to become her favourite IG model’s best friend. It was creepy, unexpected, and really well done – we had great conversations about it afterward.
We then got locked inside the theatre somehow, and someone had to free us. Luckily, we weren’t trapped for too long.
Back at the car, we discovered my favourite pair of fuzzy socks on the ground outside it! I was so glad no one had absconded with them – and that they hadn’t landed in a puddle, or worse. We drove the car over to the wal-mart. Even though it was in a plaza which usually means no overnight parking, there were plenty of campers and RVs, so we tucked in between a couple and did the big bin swap before settling in for the night. We were in brilliant spirits and we’d had such an amazing day – after that, I felt totally at ease with the choice to skip Kejimkajik. It just means I have one more park to explore in my future endeavours!