Roadtrip Episode 2: Hittin’ up Halifax

Time for another update 🙂

Day Six:

We left my sister’s this morning and headed to the nearest ESSO station since Charissa’s sister was generous enough to give us her speed pass, which means a lot of free gas for us. We are incredibly spoiled. Just as Charissa was finishing cleaning off our windshield we heard someone from the car behind say, “Want to clean mine too?” Out of the car steps my sister, Terry, a bag of our dishes that we left at her place in hand. The best.Once we said our goodbyes for a second time we hit the road, today driving through a mere four states, piece of cake. It was an incredibly uneventful ten hour drive. Here’s the low down.New York. Many tolls. All the tolls. Horses running in fields. Signs pointing to New York City. No one following the speed limit, even remotely.

Massachusetts. More tolls. Signs along the interstate reading, and I kid you not, “Changing lanes? Use yah blinkah”. This entirely validates my use of similar language (ex. Mah sistah is coolah than yah brothah). Thank you, Massachusetts.

New Hampshire. Official roadside signs indicating the nearest liquor store. This state knows what’s up. “Live free or die,” reads the state welcome sign.

Maine. Our destination state. The welcome sign tells us, “The way life should be”. Directly below this is another sign that reads “Open for business”. The way life should be = open for business? In Maine yah bettah love capitalism.

At this point, it was early evening and Charissa looked at me as we were driving toward our camping spot and said to me, “Today has been uneventful.” I responded, “it’s only 6:30. Exciting things can definitely still happen. We have so many hours to make eventful happen.”

Here’s what making eventful happen looked like for us. (We imagine that making eventful happen is similar to making fetch happen). We showed up at Bayley’s Resort Campground in Scarborough, Maine and set up our tent in traditional Abenaki territory. We had the only tent in the entire place and were surrounded by a seemingly endless labyrinth of over two hundred RVs. After getting settled we decided to explore the area and headed into town. We passed at least three more large RV parks on our way into town.

The core of Scarborough reminds me of something straight out of the Jersey Shore. The Main Street is made up almost entirely of cheap souvenir and clothing stores, tiny local fast food joints, and a massive arcade. At the waterfront, on the beach, a pier stretches out into the ocean with a nightclub at the end of it. A roller coaster and Ferris wheel stand guard over the surf. I’ve experienced several towns like this before as a kid traveling up the east coast of the United States but Charissa definitely was a little shocked by the atmosphere. She did get to dip her toes in the icy Atlantic for the first time though!

Scarborough, Maine

Scarborough, Maine

We shared a beaver tail for dinner, which they simply refer to as “fried dough” here and then headed back to the campsite for the night. We discovered that Bayley’s is actually quite the RV resort, equipped with two pools and six hot tubs, so enjoyed a late night soak. What a strange world of “camping” this is.Day Seven:Today was our last long driving day! We peeled out of Maine as early as we could and headed to Halifax, Nova Scotia, in Mi’kmaq territory. Another fairly unexciting drive and we were already in New Brunswick by mid afternoon.

We made a quick pit stop in Sussex, NB to grab some food and stretch our legs. The sun was shining on this adorable little town with quaint, colorful buildings lining the streets and a massive bright mural on every block.

Sussex, New Brunswick

Sussex, New Brunswick

Hit the road once more and made it to Halifax with plenty of time to get settled and explore the city a little bit, with Charissa nearly bouncing in her seat with excitement the whole last hour of the drive there.
Entering Halifax

Entering Halifax

We arrived at the Halifax Backpackers Hostel and found one of the folks staying there around back who was able to get us all set up with a bunk bed in a 6-person room, since reception had already closed. It’s definitely a funky little place with a lot of character and is a pretty interesting experience given that neither of us have stayed at a hostel before.As soon as we could, we changed out of our sweaty driving clothes, brushed out our tangled road wind hair, and headed out to find some food at the Wooden Monkey. I’m breaking my normally dietary restrictions and am eating fish and seafood for this trip. So we had a very fishy meal and some of the best scallops I have ever tasted. We were also sure to try some local craft beer. Charissa and I have a fairly low alcohol tolerance, to say the least. Add on the tired factor and we were good to go.
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We headed down to the waterfront and the first thing we stumbled across, to Charissa’s glee (and mine as well, albeit somewhat more subtly), was a playground. Of course, the first activity we do in Halifax is take a tipsy ride down a waterfront slide.We meandered around the waterfront for the rest of the evening and were just about to head back to the hostel when a local that I know messaged me to say we should check out The Lower Deck, a pub about a block from where we were, for a cool band that was playing. We had already had that venue recommended to us by some other folks this evening so figured it was a must. What a blast. An amazing cover band with an east coast twist, Signal Hill, was playing and the place was packed, the beer was flowing, and the people were grooving. We had an awesome time soaking it all in.At one point, one guy came up to me and asked, “Are you a local?” I said that I wasn’t. “Yeah,” he said. “I didn’t think so. You don’t look like a local.” I spent the rest of the evening half watching the band and half wondering what exactly made me stick out like a sore thumb.

Day Eight:

Today we really dug into Halifax and went into ultra tourist mode. We started the morning, still in the sun, with a walk through the historic district of the city and along the waterfront to Pier 21. From there Charissa wanted to scope out some of the city hospitals, in case she ends up doing work here in the future, as well as Dalhousie University.

Our next stop, after getting lost in one of the cities many cemeteries, was the Halifax Citadel National Historic site, a fort that was active in the 1800s nestled atop the city. As usual with our perfect timing and terrible luck with weather, we randomly arrived five minutes before the start of a tour and the firing of the cannon, and just in time to be stuck standing outside in the rain. But regardless of the weather (up to this point we hadn’t seen a single day without at least some precipitation yet) it was a super fascinating tour and a really neat fort to explore. The star-shaped design of the fort and the large ditch around it’s exterior walls made it nearly impenetrable and Halifax was never attacked. Aside from the views of the city, a cannon being fired (of course, only with black powder and not a real cannonball), and the thick stone architecture of the fort, we also got to check out a vintage Magic Lantern from the 1800s. So cool! This was the cinema of the times. It basically works like an overhead projector. Coloured glass slides are slid into the machine which then projects them onto a screen using candle light. The images followed along with a story that the performer, who at this fort happened to be the schoolteacher, would read out of an accompanying book. Sets of stories and slides were sent from fort to fort to entertain both the soldiers and their families.  While at the fort we also checked out the new WWI exhibit there which contains a lot of historic pieces from the war.

Citadel National Historic Site, Halifax

Citadel National Historic Site, Halifax

By this time, our stomachs were grumbling so we decided to have a bite to eat. Thanks to another local recommendation we stumbled upon what I will proclaim to be the best food in the city. To be fair, I’ve only eaten at four restaurants in Halifax, but for the price I can almost guarantee this one will not be beat. 2 Doors Down is worth a visit to this fine city alone. It is possibly the most delicious restaurant experience I have had, ever. We had arugula salad that that tasted like candy, the most tender and perfectly cooked calamari with an amazing sauce, and a delicious, creamy scallop and broccoli pasta dish that made Charissa proclaim this restaurant a spiritual experience. “My taste buds are actually dancing in my mouth. It is so good my esophagus can taste it”. We couldn’t turn down dessert, and we knew one would simply not be enough, so we ordered both the chocolate mousse and the carrot cake. Three words: to die for. Seriously, so amazing. If you are ever in Halifax. Eat here. Twice. Three times. Every night. Just do it. It will blow your mind.
Carrot Cake, 2 Doors Down

Carrot Cake, 2 Doors Down

Chocolate Mousse, 2 Doors Down

Chocolate Mousse, 2 Doors Down

From 2 Doors Down we headed two blocks down to check out the Maritime Museum since it was still cold and overcast outside. I really love boats, since I grew up on one, but I think my awe at touching all the pretty things with the gorgeous wood and shiny varnish was a little lost on Charissa. We toured through the museum fairly quickly, but did stop to spend a lot of time in the exhibits about the Halifax explosion and the Titanic – both pretty tragic to explore. As someone who grew up religiously watching Titantic, this one especially hit home for me. The museum has an original lawn chair from the deck of the Titanic, as well as shoes from the only lost baby to have been recovered, who until recently was known as the Unknown Child.
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After the museum, we headed back to the hostel to catch up on emails and our lives. Turns out there was a fair amount of catching up to do. We hit up a rad little vegetarian restaurant, Heartwood, and then headed back downtown to try some flights of local craft beer at Stillwell. It’s a super wicked place in downtown Halifax that serves up 12 beers on tap each night, the choices written on a giant wall-sized chalkboard. Flights are served in funky wooden trays with the corresponding numbers hand painted on a metal rung with each serving. Two flights in and we headed back to the playground (classic us). Let’s just say that Charissa spent the entire walk home complaining, loudly, about how her pants were wet, and that we stopped in a Marriott bathroom to try and use a hand dryer to solve the problem. Apparently that’s what happens when you go down a slide when it has been raining all day. She said it was the safest way down the structure (the other options being a steep ladder or a wooden climbing apparatus).
Stillwell, Halifax

Stillwell, Halifax

Well that’s all for now folks. I am a day behind but promise I will catch up soon. Love you all!

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