Taking the midnight "Marine Atlantic" to destination Newfoundland, I had a full day waiting for the "naughty, naughty rain" to stop, as the tent tumbled in a cold drier. Stopping for a hearty local dinner at the Cedar House, I got traveling tips across the tables from a fellow sola female traveller.
Rain Rain, and More Rain
The bad case scenario (shouldn’t say the worst, of course) is manifesting now. It’s raining cats and dogs; the tent’s rain cover is soaking; it even dripped on the door flap. I’m trying to get some air in by leaving a narrow window, burka-style, to look at the world.
Unfortunately, I do not see an end in sight to this massive rainstorm (ironically the Canadians complained about a dry summer). This is bad also because I planned to go to Moncton today, hoping to fix my Huawei cellphone, but I can’t even get from the tent to the car.
Nothing to do, so back to Tehran. (“Reading Lolita in Tehran” by Azar Nafisi on my Kindle)
WOW (Wide Open Wilderness) CG, Urbania, NS, 10:30 pm
This was a nightmarish day..!! It rained all night. I woke up to a tent dry on the inside but wet on the outside. Any effort to get out involved getting water in. I still did not figure out how to fold in the tent flaps. I fasten them upwards with clothing pins, and it is not supposed to be that way for sure.
Going to the bathroom or the ranger’s station to get a garbage bag was an ordeal.
Eventually I decided to get out, rain or shine, rather than sit in the tent and rot. On the other side of the dirt road, a middle-aged couple was packing up to leave. Three children were waiting in the back of the truck. They might have been Mormons or Mennonites. She was dressed in a long Orthodox-style skirt, but he was bare-headed, so I ruled out Jewishness.
I asked them if they knew a way of dismantling the tent underneath the rain cover. The woman volunteered her husband to help. She generously gave me a large garbage bag (her last!), but despite her husband’s help and everybody’s best intentions, the tent did not stay dry…
I thanked them profusely and saw them off. As I was shoving the drenched tent and rain jacket into the garbage bag, I vowed to get myself some good sturdy ones at the next opportunity.
The long, wet drive could have been shorter had I listened more attentively to the GPS instructions, but my brain was fuzzy.
Reaching Moncton I finally arrived at a mall where “Battery Center” was located. The universal set of nice helpful young tech guys was there at the desk, but they said the same thing I heard at St. John’s: Huawei is uncommon here in New Brunswick. The battery of this phone is inseparable from the rest of its “brain”. To change it, the phone will have to be sent to Montreal (that’s in another state, isn’t it?).
As an alternative solution, they suggested buying an external battery. I made a quick reset of my intentions, chose the more expensive 3-hour version and paid the requested 60 CAD.
Looking for a place to eat was hard as well. Everything in that shopping center I considered junk, no better than any mainstream American mall. I ended up preparing a lettuce, cheese and carrot sandwich to eat in the car.
Coincidentally, one of the CBC stations was broadcasting a long program about the foods of the future. It spanned the territory all the way from insects and invading species like Asian Carps, to cloned test-tube meat. They also talked about the social and emotional importance of eating with others, stressing in particular that eating alone in the car is a sign of our social deterioration…
Crossing the Border
On the way to Truro, I drove through whatever constituted the interstate border at Amherst. A large greeting sign invited me to pull off the road and visit the Nova Scotia Welcome Center. The place was very esthetic and helpful and indeed, very welcoming. It was one of those places, though, that makes you feel awkward because everybody stands up the minute you walk in. A cordial older man at the desk gave me some maps, and made sure my reservation for tonight was solid. He informed me about the KOA yearly passes, but that in my case they would not be worth the money. I heeded his advice.
The Trans-Canada Highway, also called Canada 104, was an impressive autostrada winding through forests and fields, meadows and urban centers. The directions to the Truro WOW campground led to some nondescript rural roads around Urbania, but between the owner’s instructions and the GPS I got there alright.
Unfortunately, I did not take pictures of the WOW campground except for the room. Basically it was a children’s playground. I did not expect that, since the place was advertised as “The Best Campground in Nova Scotia”. I should have paid attention to the giveaway descriptor, “family campground”. For sure it would have been nice to visit here with my kids when they were young, but those were the days and I was alone now.
I spread my little patch mat on the floor by the bunkbed to create a bit of a homey feeling.
I looked forward to see the famous “Tidal Bore”, but the owner told me there was no trail leading there. I could roam around the campground instead. I found that piece of news irritating, along with the ubiquitous gnomes and dolls.
Everywhere there were warnings – postings of do’s and don’ts. My imagination, tired from rain and driving, worked the place up to be some kind an ecological dictatorship, run by a Dolores Umbridge simile. That was an unfair exaggeration, of course. The rules were legitimate and sensible, but I was not in the mood to go with that flow. Still, though, when I think of the WOW campground, I feel a sugary false taste in my mouth.
I did not vibe with the price either – 70 CAD+ tax (~57US$) for a “dry basic cabin”.
No heating, services 50 meters away from the roon through pouring rain. Nothing here except for a bare double bed, a bunkbed, an ugly old couch, a table and a mirror. For less than that I could have gotten a motel room with a bathtub, little soaps and shampoos, clean sheets and blankets draped nicely over the bed, etc. etc. Did anything happen to the prices lately and I was not in the know?
The next day I found out I could have easily walked to the river from the premises. Driving out of the WOW campground I crossed the impressive Shubencadie River at low tide. By then, though, I did not even have the impetus to stop or take a token picture. The “Tidal Bore” was lost on me this time. Alas…
What I liked about this private campground, though, was the darkness policy. The only illumination came from colorful fairy lights strung on cords around the camping lots and the walking paths, letting no glare slip towards the sky. In the bathroom, lights turned on with an electronic eye. At Fundy I already learned about the importance of preventing light pollution. I appreciated the lady’s adherence to that code. On a non-cloudy night it would be magnificent to watch the starry sky…
But I’m happy despite the ordeal. I hung my tent, rain jacket and tarps on the porch, knowing full well they won’t dry, as the rain kept downpouring throughout the night. Cooking on the porch in the rain, water dripping off the beams, washing dishes in the bathrooms with my flashlight on my forehead, watching the raindrops swirl around my head like snowflakes…
15.8.2016, Exhausted in the middle of 104E
In the morning I was in a race against time to empty the room, do laundry (there was a washer available, an advantage of private campgrounds), take down the tent and rain jacket, push everything into the bags and leave before the 11 o’clock deadline.
I failed in that endeavor, especially since I tried to warm up the soup leftover from yesterday. The owner surprised me for the better in the daylight. She was actually friendly and accommodating. Shocked at seeing me eat my soup by the car in the parking lot out of fear for her deadline, she happily helped me reserve a site in the next campground. The only problem was, it was raining again and my energies were depleted.
Driving in the rain again, I munch on the mixed nuts I got in some enlightened gas station. Appetite diminishes during a trip, excellent for the diet. I’m listening alternately to French music, classical, the news and CBC talk shows.
Today they were interviewing a young woman who is having a photo exhibition of old, neglected or abandoned barns. By advertising her project through Facebook, she acquired many new friends, people who kept such old family barns for nostalgic reasons. They often left the barns and their contents untouched, treating them as “sacred”. People contact her and invite her to their places. They host and feed her and share their family stories. What a delightful project…
In another interesting CBC program, a charming man talked about the wooden boat industry. To him, there’s nothing more beautiful and satisfying than building wooden boats. He expanded on how sailing and life of the sea characterize Nova Scotia more than any other region in Canada.
My next campground was a 180 degrees change for the better from this one: North Sidney’s KOA.