While not a traditional overlanding trip here in the NW, I wanted to share my trip last October to Nova Scotia. Work flew me out to Halifax, NS for a conference, so I decided to take advantage of the free flights and took the following week off to camp and explore the region.
My trusty overlanding rig? A top of the line Ford Fusion rental. Surprisingly well put together and comfortable, it was honestly the perfect car for the trip. I even managed to get some backroad rallying in, but no pictures of that (wink wink).
My plan? Well, none really...I knew I wanted to see as much of the region as possible in the 6 days I had. As a funny anecdote, I had done only a small amount of research prior to my trip to make sure that there were campsites in the general areas that I wanted to see. While researching them, I saw that most were open from May 1 through Thanksgiving. My trip was the beginning of October, so that worked out.
However, on my first night, after driving for most the of the day, I kept coming across closed campsite after closed campsite. Since I was in the southern region of NS, I figured maybe because it was less populated, that perhaps they had just closed up early due to lack of traffic. However, after finally reaching a campsite that was only open until the very next day, I found out that Thanksgiving in Canada is celebrated at the beginning of October! There aren't too many cultural differences between Canada and the US, but I definitely found one of them, and it could have been a trip ender!
Each day consisted of waking up, packing up the tent, driving in a general direction and stopping whenever I wanted along the way until I got tired or the sun went down, and then setting up camp again. This ended up being my route for the trip, did the southern loop first, then swung all the way back up to Cape Breton for the finale. All in all close to 1,500 miles in six days.
The southern loop was really interesting from a historical standpoint. Lots of old forts and interesting settlements.
After the southern region I turned North and began working my way torwards Cape Breton. Usually when I plan trips, I try to do as little visual research as possible so that I can experience the natural beauty with zero expectations. Therefore, I had no idea what Cape Breton was going to look like, and I was blown away!
Because it was fall, I caught the color change perfectly, and was amazed at all the colors. One things I wish we had more of here in the PNW!
Because I was technically there after the travel season has wrapped up, I was able to enjoy all these views with no one else around. Temperatures dropped below freezing at night, but not being bombarded with tourists left and right made it all worth it.
On my last night on Cape Breton I stayed at a national park campsite. The fee was a bit more than the other sites I had been staying at, but an unlimited hot water shower was definitely worth it. I was the only one in the campsite other than a van with a trailer that definitely looked like it was set up for overland travel. After eating my sad grocery store sandwich in my tent I ended up running into the guy who owned the van. I didn't pry too much, but it sounded as if he had just retired early, and decided to leave his home in Colorado to drive around North America looking for the next place to live. The trailer contained his mountain bikes, which he would just stop and ride wherever he wanted for however long he wanted. Very cool, down to earth guy, exactly the type of person we're so fortunate to have in this community.
After leaving the campsite, I began my trip south. I wanted to stop at a place called Christmas Island, hoping for some kind of festivity, only to find nothing... Was cool to see the sign in Gaelic though!
Unable to find a campsite open in the Sydney area, I had to keep adjusting my searches further and further south. Using Wifi at a Starbucks, I found a campsite that was open year round and had great reviews. However, it was 2pm, and the campsite was close to 5 hours away. With no reception outside of the large cities, it was a gamble, but I decided to just go for it and I am so glad I did instead of settling for a slightly closer site.
If you ever find yourself in Nova Scotia, please stay at The Norse Cove Campground in Tangier, just outside of Halifax. Kim and Werner were some of the nicest people I've ever met, and the best campground hosts by far. After working high stress UN jobs in Europe, they took all their money and moved to Nova Scotia solely to open this campground. Oceanfront campsites, nestled in the woods, and amazing facilities. Kim and Werner live right across the highway where they run the store there, and I ended up talking to them for hours and hours. I ended up staying an extra night there and honestly wish I could have just stayed there all week.
Last summer I had the chance to camp on the beach of the westernmost island of the Broken Group of Vancouver Island looking out across the Pacific Ocean, and this year I was able to camp on the beach of the eastern shore of Nova Scotia looking out across the Atlantic Ocean. Truly a special experience, and one I will remember for the rest of my life. Thanks for reading!