Thursday 30 August 2012--It's been sunny and beautiful since I arrived in Lunenburg, and so it is again this morning. I have coffee and a sticky
roll at a local coffee shop, and very reluctantly leave town. I've really enjoyed my stay.
Take the slow road through Mahone Bay (picturesque, but I don't stop),and turn up Route 14 near Chester. It's a boring road, nothing but woods, but it keeps me clear of Halifax. Thought about driving through, just for a look, but it would have been too great a temptation. It was tough to leave Halifax out of my itinerary. I've spent a lot of time there on the bus tours, and this trip is more about filling in gaps in my Maritime experience.
I skirt Windsor and pick up route 215, which runs along the south shore of the Minas Basin, the very head of the Bay of Fundy. Stop at Burncoat Head to visit the lighthouse and view the muddy red water. The tide here is over fifty feet, the highest in any accessible place in the world, but unfortunately I have arrived exactly at high tide, so there isn't much to see but water and red cliffs.
Hop on the 104 at Truro and drive a very familiar stretch of highway to New Glasgow. Just off the highway, I pass by the Tim Horton's where, standing in line for a coffee on the morning of 11 September 2001, I got my first inkling of what was happening in Manhattan and Washington. That Tim's was a standard stop on the bus tour to Cape Breton, and for as long as I drove it, I'd think about that awful day every time I went in. Well, I'm thinking about it now.
I find an outlet of the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission and pick up another bottle of Pulteney. Shortly I'm in Pictou, famous as the first landing place of immigrating Scots in 1773. I check in at my B&B, a former American consulate, and set out to see the town. Shipbuilding was the focus of the economy at one time, but as that dried up in the latter half of the 20th century, the town turned to tourism. A replica of the Hector, the Dutch-built boot ship that brought the first Scots here, was built and launched, intended to be the centerpiece of tourist attraction. The attendant museum contains some artifacts, but the bulk of it is a series of information panels that could do with some serious editing. There is a lot of redundancy, and I'm sure very few people make the effort to read it all, as I do. The Hector itself is interesting to see, but there is no one around to interpret it for me. Maybe it's different in midsummer.
Dinner is another matter. Carvers looks to be the most agreeable pub, but they only serve sandwiches. I end up having fish and chips at the Press Room, which is not a very charming place. Then a pint of Garrison's, another Halifax microbrew, at Carvers, before they close at 9:00. I look in at the Highlander, which looks like one of those places they hose out at the end of the night. Skip it, and go back to the bottle of Pulteney in my room.
Pictou is disappointing, but it isn't without potential. They're on the right track with the Scots connection. If I were in charge, I'd be looking for ways to give top-notch chefs incentive to open top-notch restaurants, as well as to connect more deeply to Scots heritage. It's one thing to give people a reason to visit, and quite another to make them happy they stayed.