Monday, October 11, 2010

Hitchin' New Brunswick to the ScotiaLands


[August 2o1o]

oh man was my back ever sore that morning. the roots that formed a cradle beneath me did some nasty things to my neck while asleepish. it was hard to remain fully unconscious under the howling wind, trying to make sure it doesn't start pouring while we're fly-less.

quarter to 6 in the morning and i'm shaking shawn awake. it's starting to rain, and our options are tarp up and get stuck beside the highway for god knows how many hours, or we pack up and head back to the info center to keep dry. i force the latter.

waking a shawn without having coffee on hand can be a dangerous thing. luckily we only had to wait an hour for the coffee shop to open. by the time we've hit the java spot the rain turns to a light drizzle and we hit the road again.

the highway is lined with beautiful wetland reserves. nice to look at, but not a good idea to stop walking beside, if you don't feel like getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. the traffic heading in our direction is flowing straight out of PEI and we wonder if our luck will be any better here.

after an hour or so of early morning steppin the tummy is a rumblin. the little bits of snacks we had left wasn't cutting it for breakfast, so we braved the swarming mosquitoes just long enough to boil water for oatmeal. our cups warm and full, we head back to the highway with our breakfast to go.

another half hour of walking and a minivan pulls over in front of us. YES! the woman driving is your average east coast soccer mom, coming back off the island to pick up her kid and take him back out to camp. she tells us how she will get in shit if her kids found out she picked up hitchhikers, but old hitchers always feel the need to repay the favour from back in their days.

she gives us some tips on where to hit some eats and the best way to get into Nova Scotia. the truck stop up ahead is a good place to ask for a ride. after only one night and morning in New Brunswick, i feel i owe the place a better visit on the next trip.

there's a smoke shop, an info center and a truck stop restaurant all right on the NB/NS border. we hit up all 3 of course. some vanilla flavoured papes to liven up the walk, and some encouraging words from the info center lady, and we're ready to eat. the truck stop restaurant is packed. we give our orders, all day breakfast for the boy, and a big ol' plate of poutine for me.

before we even had a chance to dig in, a woman approached us to offer a ride straight to Truro. awesome! we didn't even have to try. she tells us to meet her out front after we all finish eating. while waiting for our meals we pull out the Nova Scotia map. i begin to wonder if we're moving too fast.. we were just at the PEI/NB crossing this morning and we were about to rocket forward towards our endpoint of Halifax.

the food is fantastic. makes up for getting eaten alive while trying to cook up some oatmeal. our lady ride comes back to let us know she cannot give us a ride after all, her daughter-in-law wasn't too keen on riding with strangers. wasn't meant to be. we finished up our meals and hit the on ramp aiming for Truro.

maybe a half hour passes before we get our first ride. a woman who usually 'doesn't do this sort of thing' picked us up and told us she could bring us two on ramps forward in Amherst. we would have a better chance there she thought, where more through traffic collects in the Nova.

the main highway is big and loud and kinda scary, so we stumble down the grassy embankment to the service road below. we usually make effort to avoid the bigger highways, so we check the map for our back country options. the highways tangle in every direction when avoiding that main stretch. we're about to rock-paper-scissors to decide our next route when a man who had passed us earlier had come back to pick us up. or so we thought.

he's not actually traveling anywhere, so he wasn't about to give us a ride.

"are you guys in any hurry to get to Halifax, or are you here to see what you can see?" we're in no hurry. in fact i was just worrying that we were moving too fast. go south he tells us, straight south to Parrsboro. we can follow the shoreline there instead of seeing nothing but highway and trees. a fantastic idea, just what we need. he gives us a lift to the start of the next highway, all the while telling us he works for tourism Nova Scotia. very cool.

how crazy is that? the woman who doesn't usually pick up hitchhikers dropped us in the right place at the right time to run into that tourism guy. and all because that other lady at the truck stop could no longer give us a ride! our fantastic travel karma continues.

more country highway, more walking. route 302 will take us to Southampton, where we could jump on the number 2 to Parrsboro. it's much warmer here. we had been spoiled by the constant sea breeze out on the island, the thought hadn't crossed our minds about the muggy humidity inland.

the scenery is nice, but once again stopping will make us a meal for the bugs. the country road is lined with huge irrigation ditches filled with bulrushes and wetland insects. it's hot but not worth stopping here to get eaten. we move forward slowly. our thumbs get somewhat of a rest down this stretch, there's not much in the way of traffic here. camp spots neither, let's hope we make it off this road before nightfall.

a couple hours later we're in Maccan, sitting on a grassy patch at the main intersect of the country back roads. there's a little more traffic here, we're hopeful we can stand and hitch from this spot as our feet could use a rest. shawn has a blister a couple inches across on the bottom of his foot from pivoting to check for traffic coming our way. i offer to walk behind to be the lookout this time.

we put our shoes back on and move forward a little, seeking a spot outside town limits where we can put our packs down and our thumbs out. we didn't even have a chance to throw our packs down before a green station wagon pulled over ahead of us on the road. we'd had a couple people pull over infront of us to stop which always fakes us out, but he didn't look to be stopping anywhere in particular but for us. YES! and we run for the car with huge smiles.