2014  HIKING, CYCLING,

& RV TRAVEL ADVENTURES

 

   
 
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   A SERENDIPITOUS "GOOF:" 
 PLENTY TO DO & SEE ON DIGBY NECK

FRIDAY, AUGUST 22

 
 "The scenic peninsula stretching southwest from Digby toward Brier Island rests    
between the great tides of the Bay of Fundy and placid St. Mary's Bay. Known
as a nature-lover's paradise, this unspoiled area has many opportunities 
for hiking and exploring small waterfront settlements . . ."
 
~ Nova Scotia's Backyard website
 
 
Sounds like our kind of place, eh?

Too bad I didn't find that web page when we were initially researching the western side of Nova Scotia's mainland and made reservations at Whale Cove Campground -- or we wouldn't have been so surprised to discover where it was actually located!

We were initially dismayed to realize that our campground was 25 miles south of Digby, not nearly as close to town as we thought. We made our reservation in some haste, without doing adequate research. I thought it'd be nice to spend a couple days traveling around the bucolic Annapolis Valley region just north of Digby, a fertile farming area known for its wine and produce. I had no clue where or what "Digby Neck" really is.

Above and below:  views of bright green farms in the Annapolis Valley as we passed through the region

Ironically, it turned out to be the best "goof" we've made in our travel plans this summer!

We loved the campground, its proprietors and location, the two nearby islands at the end of Digby Neck, and the opportunity we had for a great whale-watching cruise.

We had warm, sunny weather the three nights and two full days we were here. We made the most of it, cramming in lots of sight-seeing and other activities and having some time to just relax.

THE DRIVE FROM HALIFAX TO DIGBY NECK

We had a choice of several routes to get us from Point A (Hammonds Plains, north of Halifax) to Point B (Whale Cove, south of Digby) today. We chose the one that appeared fastest and best for hauling a 36-foot 5th-wheel -- primarily on NS 101.

Here's a map section showing the last part of the route through the Annapolis Valley, Digby, and Digby Neck. Our route is highlighted in orange:

Digby Neck is that long, narrow peninsula on the left. The huge Bay of Fundy is to the west and St. Mary's Bay is to the east, separating the "neck" from the mainland of Nova Scotia.

Our destination, Whale Cove, is marked with a red circle.

NS 101 is a typical Maritimes "freeway" that has limited access but only one lane each direction in some places, with passing lanes up hills. This route was hillier than we expected so there were lots of passing lanes. We didn't see as many RVs on this route as we have in other parts of the Maritimes.


Colorful sign for Berwick, "Nova Scotia's Apple Capital"


Heading west (and downhill) toward Minas Basin at Avonport; this arm of the Bay of Fundy
+ the Hopewell Rocks area get the highest variance of tides in the bay at up to 52 feet every six hours!

The only rough spots on NS 101 were at the ends of bridges and for part of the less-traveled NS 217 on Digby Neck, which is a long, thin peninsula that extends for about 35 miles south of Digby.

It took us about three hours with one stop to drive the 160-mile route.

The mostly-forested route was pleasant but we did get some views of Minas Basin, at the far NE end of Fundy Bay, and the large Annapolis River Basin north of Digby.


Annapolis River Basin near Digby


Annapolis River Basin

Above and below:  two views toward the strait where the Annapolis River dumps into the Bay of Fundy

We missed seeing most the beautiful farms, orchards, and vineyards in the Annapolis Valley on Hwy. 101. Apparently those are better seen on Rt. 1, which we plan to take when we head north to Prince Edward Island.

Our GPS also directed us around the town of Digby so we drove there another day to see it.

WHALE COVE CAMPGROUND

Our initial disappointment about not being close to the town of Digby was short-lived. After getting to the campground and learning more about the two islands just south of us, we're glad to be here.

This map section focuses on the southern half of Digby Neck. We're at Whale Cove, which is about two miles north of Long Island and the community of East Ferry. Brier Island is just south of Long Island:

The campground is on the ridge above the Bay of Fundy and St. Mary's Bay, with views of both from nearby overlooks that are just a couple hundred feet from our site.

That is so cool! We can see the sun rise on one side and set on the other.


Not a sunrise, but pretty flowers on the campground hill overlooking St. May's Bay
(the water is in the far distance and it blends in with the sky in this photo)


Daytime view of Bay of Fundy from campground overlook on that side of the ridge

Above and below:  sunset from the same place where Jim was sitting in the daytime photo

The staff (mostly the owners and family members) are very friendly and informative and we like our flat, grassy site:

 

When we arrived around lunchtime the campground was nearly empty except for a group of about 25 college biology students and teachers who were midway through five days of studying the local marine life, including whales, porpoises, seals, lots of birds, etc.

By evening most of the RV and tent sites were taken.


View to two other RV sites from our doorside


Jim and Casey walk toward one of the tent areas before they were occupied.

We're glad we got here when we did so we could get into our site in a field more easily. There were motorhomes on either side of us the first two nights but we all had plenty of room.

Only 14 or 15 families live in Whale Cove. You can see one of their houses across a field from one side of the campground:

 

The downsides to Whale Cove Campground are no sewers (just a dump station), our site has only 20-amp electricity (some have 30), and the cost is relatively high ($108 CA with tax for three nights). I can't get online with the campground WiFi on my laptop inside the camper but Jim can. 

There are showers/toilets and a laundry room for those who need them.

OUR OWN LOBSTER FEAST 

The owner of the campground is also a lobster fisherman. He fishes in the spring and summer until July 31, then again in October to December. He has kept alive a bunch of lobsters to sell to his guests and locals for the lowest price we've seen in the Maritimes -- only $7 CA per pound for live ones. He can keep the price low because there aren't any middlemen.

With his and the staff's encouragement and assistance, we purchased two 1.5 pound lobsters for dinner the first night and cooked 'em in our camper. They loaned us a large pot to steam the critters and the proper tools to eat them.

Of course, Jim had to tease the dogs a bit before we dropped the lobsters into the pot of boiling water:

Cody (above) is always more brave when it comes to something new than Casey (below)

 


They even gave us cute lobster bibs!


Jim finishes off his lobster.

Our lobsters were mighty good -- a lot of work involved with getting all the meat out of the legs, claws, tail, and body, but an "experience" we haven't had for a long while.

Cost of the lobsters was $21 -- no extra for the instructions or equipment loan! 

STARTING TO EXPLORE THE AREA 

Our fist day here we had the whole afternoon and evening to get acquainted with the area :

  •  walked around the campground to see the sites and views,

  • talked to a young couple on vacation from Ottawa who loved playing with Cody and Casey (they have Labs at home),

  • read the information about local activities and sights that the campground owners gave us,

  • drove down to Whale Cove with the dogs (about 1/2 mile down the hill),

 

 

 

 

 


View to Bay of Fundy

  • drove a couple miles south to East Ferry at the end of the peninsula, where we talked with locals about whale watching and living in this area,

  • and just relaxed.

This is an informal place without a lot of people or rules. We like that.  

This part of Fundy Bay has lower tides than farther north at Minas Basin or Hopewell Rocks but it's still significant at about 22 feet up and down every six hours. It was about halfway between low and high tides when we were in the cove and at the ferry in the East Ferry community.

We talked to the folks who run the Petit Passage Whale Watch boats at East Ferry but didn't make a reservation for a cruise right then. The campground staff and the young couple from Ottawa recommended a different company, which we checked out the next day.

Above and below:  Here's a preview of pictures from our whale-watching cruise.


Let 'er blow!

From all we heard, there are lots of whales near the coast this summer and it's easy to see them up close from the boats. Since we didn't get to see any whales at close range on our cruise from Seward in Alaska two years ago, we will go out on one of the tours here this weekend.

So, yeah, we're happy with our decision to stay farther down on Digby Neck. We'll find more things that interest us here than we would have in Digby.

Travelers always gotta stay flexible and open to possibilities!

Next entryexploring Digby, Digby Neck, and the two islands just south of us

Happy trails,

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup

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2014 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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