jacob’s ladder and a witch’s cauldron

Oh Truro. Not exactly what we’d call a thriving metropolis here in Nova Scotia, nor a place that ever made it onto my bucket list. We stopped in Truro for on our way out of the province as we headed for New Brunswick, and although our lunch at Smitty’s was surprisingly good, we were even more (pleasantly) surprised when we decided to check out Victoria Park, Truro’s major attraction.

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In the interests of full disclosure, we did not have a straightforward time finding the park. Even though it is 1000 acres of nature in the middle of a not very big town, we were clearly circling it for longer than should have been necessary. We actually heard the park before we saw it. When we finally located the (duh, easy to find) park, a rock band was playing for an average size crowd, apparently a Sunday afternoon thing in the summer. Even though it looked like rain, the pool was full of small children, and the parking lot so packed that, unlike most parks we go to, you really oughtn’t change in your car.

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Knowing we were unlikely to cover all 1000 acres in one afternoon, we headed for Jacob’s Ladder, one of the key attractions, and aimed to see a number of waterfalls on the way.

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The 175-step staircase takes visitors up a cliff-face, to a viewing platform, and back down past a waterfall and natural swimming hole. Yes, we lost our depth perception on the stairs. No, we did not fall off.

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Cyclists were taking full advantage of the many paved roadways, and boardwalks were also available for pedestrians. The park also offers a canteen, playground, picnic area, and covered pavilion, perfect for birthday parties. For those who are still feeling like it’s Halloween, don’t miss the Witch’s Cauldron, a small waterway which, with a name like that, needs no description.

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Next time you’re heading to somewhere else, stop in Truro for lunch and think you should just keep driving, take a walk through Victoria Park, and let us know what you think!

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a floating church, a winery, and a brewing storm {a quick read}

The yellow church set back from the road in what seems like the middle of nowhere is not what you expect to see coming around the corner. This same church has seen far stranger scenes however, as it came on a ferry to reach its current home.

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St. Matthew’s Church originated in Walton, and was brought to its location by ferry, where it was transformed into a winery, restaurant, and shop, now known as Avondale Sky Winery. When we set off in the car, the winery was not our destination – it didn’t even make the list of possible stopping points. But we noticed the signs as soon as we took Exit 5 off the highway, and followed them.

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It was well worth the detour. Not only does the winery have an intriguing story, what with the ferry and all, but the grounds are beautiful, housing a creaky swing overlooking the garden. Although the looming storm clouds forced us back on the road, a tour around the garden will be reason enough for a return visit.

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The back of the church is home to a patio, where appetizers are served at the D’Vine Morsels Café, from 11am to 4:30pm daily. Even with storm clouds rolling in, the remaining sun poured in through stained-glass windows, lighting up the displays of wine and souvenirs, placed among original artifacts from the church.

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The menu sounded delicious, though we were too late for lunch, and wine tastings are also available. A pleasant afternoon could be spent just wandering the grounds, sampling the food and drink, and enjoying the odd juxtaposition of having a drink in church – and not just a communion sip.

We came from the Valley, and took Exit 5, past Brooklyn. Here’s a map:

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a tale of three lakes {a quick read}

Lake George, Lake Paul, Aylesford Lake.

We’ve spent a good part of our lives in Nova Scotia, Rachel more than I, and we like to think we know the place fairly well. We’re wrong.

Not looking to drive too far on an afternoon, we checked the map for destinations in the Annapolis Valley that wouldn’t be more than an hour or so away. We came across three lakes – Paul, George, and Aylesford.

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Lake George

We discovered three very different setups. Lake Paul is situated (from what we could discern) by a large collection of cottages, and the beachfront that we could see was quite small, and clearly occupied by the cottage-owners and their very large dogs. We didn’t even get out of the car.

Lake George has a proper sandy beach, and a larger section of grass on which to sunbathe, play frisbee, or have a picnic. It was super crowded though when we got there, many small children and dogs running amok, and most people looked as though they had been there all day. It was a small space for so many bodies, and although the water looked nice, the sound of many motorboats was a deterrent. Lake George is connected to a park, for camping and picnics, and for children it looked like it would be great fun.

Back on the road we went. Aylesford Lake is the better known of the three, and offers a public beach, a small canteen, covered picnic tables, bathroom facilities, a boardwalk, and lifeguards. P1070562

Like Lake George, it has a large grassy area for sunbathing, and sandy space for castle-building and playing. We spent the afternoon sunbathing and people-watching, only interrupted by the excitement of a search-and-rescue helicopter practice drill. The bright yellow helicopter flew three times low over the lake, and then dropped two guys in, only to pull them up moments later. All of the children (and most of the adults) were entranced, and even got a wave from the pilot. The ducks at Aylesford are also a big hit, for children… and dads.

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There he goes!

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We finished our day with dinner at Jonny’s Restaurant, a Newfoundland-style eatery in Berwick.

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Although the restaurant was absolutely packed, the take out window was very popular, and we got our burgers to go, eating them in the designated picnic area, and enjoyed the warm evening. I highly recommend the make-your-own fishburger, and of course, a milkshake!

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P1070568Feel like checking out these swimming spots for yourself?

Here’s a map of our route!

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summer staycation {a quick read}

No money does not (and should not) equal no adventures.

Although we do not have a car when we are at home in Newfoundland, the joy of being back in Nova Scotia is the ability to drive off and check out our beautiful province, at our convenience! We took a mid-week roadtrip/staycation to Hall’s Harbour for fresh lobster and seafood, watched the sunset, and then drove through the North Mountain to the Lookoff, one of the best viewing spots in the Annapolis Valley (in my opinion).

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A splurge on fresh lobster (1 to share!) plucked from the water and steamed to order

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For a first-hand look at these ocean views, take the 359 from Kentville through Aldershot and Centreville.

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The houses and businesses will quickly turn into farmland, and from there follow the signs to Hall’s Harbour.

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We took a tour of the coast through Baxter’s Harbour, eventually circling back around to the Lookoff. If you get there before 6pm (unlike we did) you can get yourself a giant cone of Farmers’ ice cream, making the drive out there worth it for young children… and not so young adults.

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We missed the ice cream, but did get these views of our Valley home.

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What is your favourite staycation destination?