Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Road to Seattle

I don't have much to say. I know, shocker to all you readers who know me so well. Usually the words just flow out of me ;) I haven't blogged in a while, so before the end of 2015 I wanted to share some photos of the excursions I have made in the last few months.

After returning from Canada, I made the decision to move to Seattle, Washington. There was no rush for me to get there, so I took the scenic route. And when I say scenic, I mean that to begin my trip from Reno to Seattle, I packed up my things and I drove... south! First, I went to Nana's for a week. I spent my days at Newport Beach and was able to sneak in a trip to Disneyland too. Then, off to Sacramento for a few days to help out some friends with their home addition. I returned to Reno to house-sit for my buddy and her husband while they spent their honeymoon in Hawaii. And finally, I said goodbye to northern Nevada by making a drive around Lake Tahoe (because I'd never done that before ;) ).
 

Lava Beds National Monument, CA

Crater Lake National Park, OR

Deschutes National Forest, OR

Columbia River Gorge, OR

Mount St. Helens, WA

Point No Point, WA

Final Destination: Seattle

I continue to see new parts of the city almost every day and I've found a little time to go east for some mountain air.

In conclusion, I want to thank all of you for continuing to read my posts and be interested in my travel adventures. I blog as a journal for me to look back on, but I also blog for you. Thank you. Happy 2016!

Life is too short... spend each day doing more of what makes you happy.

Click here to see more photos of my road trip to Seattle.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Canada: Part 6

Oh Nova Scotia! On arrival, I headed straight for Halifax to get my bearings and make a plan to discover the province. I had almost two weeks of exploration time. Originally, I thought this was going to be plenty of time. However, Nova Scotia is bigger than it appears and with mixing in beach time I wish I had had more time.

I spent half a day in Halifax. I walked around Point Pleasant Park in the early morning and then went downtown to the waterfront boardwalk to see the docks, shops, and boats. It's a beautiful spot.
 

I stopped in to the visitor center and got advice on places to go and things to do. Per usual, I chose to stick to the coastline and circle the mainland and Cape Breton Island. So, from Halifax I drove southwest to the South Shore region. I stopped to take a short hike and have a picnic lunch at Peggy's Cove Conservation Area.

Just down the road is the picturesque Peggy's Cove. I encourage you to search the internet for more photos of Peggy's Cove and the lighthouse. I didn't spend much time here or take many photos because the tiny little fishing village was teaming with tourists. It was a Sunday afternoon after all, but I still wasn't prepared for such mayhem.

I continued down to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lunenburg for the evening. I had fish and chips and homemade ice cream along the waterfront. Then, I took the short drive out to Blue Rocks to watch the sailboats as they returned to the harbor.

In the morning, it was quite a drive to get to Kejimkujik National Park (Seaside), but once I got there I spent the rest of the day there. White sand, clear blue water, seals sunbathing on the rocks, carnivorous pitcher plants... I had a great day in nature.

I followed up my day at the seaside with a day at the main park (inland). At Kejimkujik National Park, I went for a few shorter hikes through a copse of 300-year-old hemlocks, a wetland and bog, and finally, after the thunderstorms passed, to the shore of Kejimkujik Lake for an afternoon swim.

I had experienced the Bay of Fundy from the "other side" (in New Brunswick), but now it was time to see it through the eyes of Nova Scotia. I drove from Digby down the Digby Neck and took the short ferry to Long Island. I had just enough time left in the day to hike to Balanced Rock. It's amazing what power water has at sculpting the land.

The Bay of Fundy is a fantastic place for whale watching. The high tides provide a good feeding ground for whales. So, the next morning I got up with hopes that I could find an empty spot on a whale-watching excursion. First thing, I went to Zodiac Whale Adventures and inquired about trips for the day. There were a couple openings for the 9am trip and one opening left for the 12:30pm trip. Since the weather was rather foggy, I opted for the later trip hoping that the fog would burn off by departure time. We were allotted time for a three-hour tour (cue Gilligan's Island theme song). Just as we set off the fog started to clear and then as the tour was ending it started to come back in again. I'm not sure how I got so lucky, but the timing was perfect. We managed to see one Minke whale and three Humpback whales. We followed the Humpbacks for a little over an hour; watching them surface every 7 minutes or so. Each would come up to take 2 or 3 breaths and then dive down again revealing their flukes. It was so cool!
Minke Whale

As if I hadn't already had enough excitement for one day, I ended the day with a 16km hike to Cape Split. It was not the smartest decision to start this hike at 6pm, but it was well worth the effort I put in and I was back to the trailhead before it was totally dark.

I spent the next day enjoying the drive along the eastern shore, chilling at the beach and watching the surfers. By the end of the day I had crossed the bridge to Cape Breton Island.

There is a reason Cape Breton Island is so popular with travelers. I started by following the world-famous Cabot Trail north along the east coast. The views from Cape Smokey were breathtaking!

By midday, I had reached Cape Breton Highlands National Park. I explored the Ingonish Beach area and hiked out the Middle Head trail.

Next, I took on the challenge of Franey Mountain. The hike wasn't easy; it was a consistent climb to the top. The reward was 360° views of the mountains and ocean.

Next, I drove north, past the historic site for John Cabot's landing in 1497, to the very end of the road and the village of Meat Cove.

The following day, I continued to explore Cape Breton Highlands National Park. The highlight was the wonderful Skyline Trail. I got there rather early, so the walk out to the view was very enjoyable. By the time I got back to my car, the parking lot was overflowing proving that this trail is a must-do.

I left Cape Breton Island and drove west, back toward the Bay of Fundy, to see some incredible geological sites. The first was Five Islands Provincial Park. Here, I came upon some of the coolest rocks I've ever seen. Additionally, at low tide there was an expansive mudflat.

Second, I drove out around Cape Chignecto, then to Eatonville, and on to Joggins Fossil Cliffs UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site. These cliffs reveal the most complete fossil record of life during Earth's "Coal Age" 300 million years ago.

My time in Nova Scotia was coming to an end as well as my time in Canada. With what I had left, I spent a couple more days at the beaches on the Northumberland Strait in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Then, I drove back through Quebec and Ontario to the area north of Toronto on Lake Huron.

I took the tour of Cabot Head lighthouse and wandered the harbor in Tobermory. In the evening, I made the easy hike to Indian Head Cove and the Grotto in Bruce Peninsula National Park. I climbed down through the rocks into the Grotto and stayed to watch the sunset.

That night, I was blessed with clear skies and I watched a little bit of the Perseid meteor shower. In the morning, I hiked to Georgian Bay and walked along the shore taking in the dramatic contrast between the white/gray rocks and the crystal-clear, blue water. It was incredibly peaceful.

I really wanted to be on the water one more time, so I left Bruce Peninsula by ferry and crossed Lake Huron to Manitoulin Island. One more lighthouse before driving back to the border.

What can I say about Canada? I had high expectations going in to the summer and those expectations were met. I traveled from coast to coast (and back again), seeing some of the best Canada has to offer. The World Cup brought me here, but the country and its people kept me exploring. There is still so much more to see and I'm pretty certain, in the future, I will go back for more.

Click here to see more photos of my Canada Road Trip.