Once upon a time, our family loved camping and then we had more children and our babies were not big fans. Also, it's camping, going from nice comfy beds to sleeping on virtually the ground with the cold, dampness, neighbours (human or animal) and bugs...this is tiny bit of foreshadowing at it's best. Our most memorable trip was also one of our worst vacations we ever had and all because even the most beautiful place in the Maritimes should be avoided like curly in the rain. That's right, even the locals confirmed that there are good and bad times to visit the beautiful highlands of Nova Scotia in Cape Breton. Nothing quite as comforting as everyone you talk to wondering why you are there, not impolitely but rather more sympathetically.
It was the summer of 2006 and Allora was only 3 months old, and yes I realize as I type it where the trip went wrong before we even left. Today is actually use your common sense day and apparently it was in short supply back in July 2006.
We setup our tent at the first campground which was right on the waters edge and it was actually beautiful. Well, as beautiful as tents side by side and community showers with loads of strangers from all over the place can be. Our tent was one of those futuristic for the era ones that the entire tent was screen but the fancy fly went over the top and pegs into the ground, a paper thin leaky barrier between the rain and the screen. It actually overall was a really great tent, as far as fabric houses with holes go. Only issue with that type of tent is that during the no-see-ums or midges season they can easily go under the fly and through the screen. Anyone else used to think they were called midgets even though it sounded very impolitically correct? Half way through the night we woke up itching and scratching from all the bites, they were ferocious. We slept, or attempted to, with our sleeping bags pulled up over our heads. If someone had walked into our tent they would have immediately assumed it was the campgrounds morgue with five bodies zippered up. We lasted two nights and the remainder of our trip we stayed in rental cottages, which were quite hard to find since it was the first week of July. All that meant is they were pretty dumpy cottages, I mean I think it may have been someone that put some beds in a shed and a vacancy sign out front.
The next day we were super excited as we travelled to Fort Louisberg, Lewisburg, Louisebarg, Louisbourg...a fort near Cape Breton. If you have never been there before it is one of the better historical forts in the Maritimes, aka the largest amount of retirees pretending to be older than they actually are already. The only trouble was who knew that at the beginning of the summer along the ocean the cold water and the warm air of summer create massive fog banks. I'll tell who knew, everyone who lives along the waterfront, and they enjoyed our lack of scientific knowledge regarding weather. We went from a gorgeous sunny day at the campground into freezing cold fog thick as pea soup or to be politically correct or rather just political, as thick as Donald Trump. Our view was obviously very limited but it was so cold that I ended up buying a sweatshirt from the gift shop, the Versace of Nova Scotia, for ridiculous amounts of money since I was the only one who forgot extra clothing back at our campground.
The remainder of the trip had no significant setbacks other than the fog that blocked a good many of our days. While we often recall that trip as one of our worst it still was filled with many great memories. We had a few gorgeous days and made some great memories. We discovered Meat Cove, which disappointingly had nothing to do with meat, but is a beautiful spot on the tip of Cape Breton Island with undoubtedly the scariest road. We haven't been there in awhile, but back then on the righthand side driving in to Meat Cove was a giant cliff down into the ocean where most roads would have a shoulder or at the very least a guard rail to make sure your vehicle is thoroughly damaged before plummeting off the cliff. It remains one of our favourite spots in the Maritimes as far as scenic goes. We also met some truly wonderful people during our trip even though each conversation started with the redundant, why are you here question. The first night Amadeus made friends with our campground neighbours and because I don't have a photo of them I remember nothing about them. While at Fort Louisbourg we coincidentally ran into my brother and his family. I mean what are the chances of running into someone we know at one of a couple national parks in the Maritimes during the 2 months of nice weather a year we get? Having said it that way it's probably not as amazing as it seemed at the time. The truth is some of my favourite pictures of me with our kids were taken on that trip. Teaching my son how to hold his weiner and my 3 month old baby girl how to audition for a horror film as a creepy baby.
I think the life lesson I learned from that memorable trip was to always remember bug spray, forget camping in general and that even when life throws all kinds of crap at you there are still things to find that are positive. That being content is often more about looking at the good things rather than the bad. We all know Facebook can be a place filled with everyone's best moments, that filter and photoshop isn't fooling anyone. For others Facebook is the place to post a continual barrage of how horrible life is for them. We try our best to not focus on one particular thing, but rather reflect the balance of reality, which is, life has it's ups and downs and that Meat Cove really needs to get a butcher shop.
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