Fri. Nov. 22, 2019:
Moncton, New Brunswick to Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia:
The 5am wakeup was quite brutal and consisted of me muttering 5 more minutes. Apparently, the tidal bore can vary by 20 minutes before and after the stated time, hence the even earlier wakeup. It was so dark outside. I was just standing there in my pyjamas, shivering and fidgeting. I was too tired to talk, still half asleep. Just staring at the wide flat still river. Brent thought he could hear the water but it was just traffic. Then I thought I could hear it but maybe it was a train? We looked up which direction it would come from and no sooner had we started to look to the right, the sound of the train got louder and water started rushing in… from the left. It was cool to see the once-still-and-calm water now being a torrent of rushing water and it all happened so suddenly. It was impossible to get any pictures of video because it was still dark outside.
With all the excitement over, it was time to go back to sleep. I adjusted my alarm clock, giving myself an extra half hour of sleep. Even still, I ended up snoozing it. But then I had to get up, I had an hour until checkout. My initial plan had been to go to Co_Pain Bakery and get breakfast, get coffee from Starbucks and come back to the room and read but I had slept too late. On the way to Co_Pain Brent texted that his meeting was finished early, there went my backup reading plans: sitting in Starbucks. Co_Pain was super busy. The space was small so the lineup of 5 people went right to the door. A guy was on his way out and his hands were “full”, he was holding a cup of coffee and a small brown bag, he looked at the door, looked at me and paused. I opened the door for him and he said thank you. He could have easily opened the door himself. When I ordered an almond croissant, the guy asked me if it was ok that it had chocolate in it, heck yes I thought! I was tempted to buy a loaf of bread, everything in there was so fresh but I knew it would go stale by the time I got it home three days later.
I met up with Brent and Vino and we started walking towards the car rental place. Except Vino went too far, we had walked right by the place where he was having lunch and had to backtrack. Soon we were on the road, driving to our first stop: Springhill, Nova Scotia. Another province for me! And it was so pretty too, I particularly liked the welcome sign complete with the lighthouse sculpture. It made me like Nova Scotia more than New Brunswick, it just seemed prettier. There was a billboard for Joggins Fossil Cliffs, I made a note of it just in case we had time on the way back. But it would be second place to going to Bay of Fundy.
In Springhill we stopped at Paizano’s Pizza, it was the site of the restaurant where Brent’s great-uncle had worked as a cashier. It had since been torn down and replaced with the pizza place but we also needed lunch. We got two slices of pizza and it smelled so good. My stomach was still a little bit iffy though so I only had a few bites of each. Except now my back had started hurting and I was getting cramps. There was a (to me) unbelievable moment in the pizza place. A school-aged kid ordered pizza, paid for it and then said thank you AND have a nice day to the lady. I was floored. It legit jarred me for a moment. It was so genuine and nice.
On the way to the Presbyterian church in town we passed by a war memorial and stopped to see if Brent’s great-uncle’s name was on it. It was. nd it was sadly misspelled, just like in the documents. We had backtracked to the memorial when we couldn’t find the church. There was an HVAC business in a church-looking building. Up next we drove to the coal mine museum which unfortunately was closed for the season. I had really been looking forward to going down into a coal mine, it only seemed cooler once we saw the entrance down into the mine, it looked like small hill with a door in it. That made me want to go down there all the more. We at least got to see a pile of coal and some coal cars.
It was barely noon and we only had one last stop: the church where Brent’ grandpa had started out. That was it for the day. And so, we were back on the road: 4 hours to Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia. The drive was beautiful, lots of rolling hills and for one moment all the trees were covered in snow and then just as quickly we were back to looking at bare trees. It made me feel like I had gone north in Red Dead Redemption 2. Inevitably I fell asleep during the drive. It’s tradition.
We stopped at Timmie’s in Antagonish. I was in desperate need of tea. At first, we couldn’t get to a parking spot because we were blocked by the garbage truck. But a car had pulled in behind us so we couldn’t leave either. I got the donut sticks with Nutella dip and promptly started singing “watch me dip, watch me yay yay.”
Cape Breton had very pretty views of the water, complete with a giant boat and cliffs. We stopped at a Co-op grocery store because they had a NSLC sign (which I quickly gathered was their version of our LCBO). I was pleasantly surprised with the selection: I got three different Nova Scotia ciders, including a No Boats on Sunday mixed berry one. I had just assumed that was an Ontario cidery- my bad. One of the bottles of cider was bigger so we would split it. We stopped at St. Ann’s lookout for some pretty views of the water and the hills. At the second lookout we could see Bras D’Or lake and the sun was setting. It was already getting so dark and it was barely 4:30pm, it was making me sleepy. We stopped at a gas station and I grabbed some iced coffee for the next morning.
The church was right on the corner and had a giant manse next door. It was so dark that we had to take pictures with the flash on. It must have looked so odd. We grabbed dinner from Lick-a-Chick as it was one of the few things, I could find on Google Maps that was open and nothing else had really caught my eye. There were lots of people inside and the place was celebrating its 50th anniversary- both good signs. I ordered a 3-piece meal and Brent ordered a chicken sandwich meal. As we were waiting, I realized we had messed up, we should have gotten one of our orders with wedges instead of both with the default fries. Even more so after I saw that they serve crinkle cut fries, arguably a lesser fry form. While standing around waiting, a man got really excited about some empty mayonnaise buckets, going back to his table twice to discuss with his wife if they should purchase a bucket and if so which one.
The chicken was really good. Brent didn’t want his coleslaw and before he could have a bite, I had pretty much eaten all of it. Good coleslaw with good fried chicken is a winning combination. Even if the fries were only alright and got cold too fast. Our TV came with a device that was already logged into someone’s Netflix so we watched Jeopardy! while we ate. The Bulwark Christmas cider was good, it earned three hearts in my notebook and I immediately went online to see if I could order it back home. The Malagash heritage cider didn’t stand a chance against the holiday one with cinnamon and nutmeg. I am a sucker for spices. We watched Hot Rod and it was hysterical. We tried to watch Baby Driver but quickly gave up on it. Back to Jeopardy! Then to change it up we watched My Next Guest With David Letterman with Tina Fey. And then back to Jeopardy! I dominated in one episode, the only thing I remember getting right was snake oil based on RDR2. Somewhere in there we had cracked open the third cider, the giant one with a Christmas duck on the label.