19.1 mi / 10.0 mph / 685 ft. climbing
Home: Lockeport Campground and Cottages
The coolness of our shaded bayfront campsite revealed its downside in the early-morning hours: fog rolling in off the ocean was condensing on the leaves of the trees, and then would fall as droplets whenever the wind blew. That meant that despite no “real” rain, everything was wet in the morning.
On the way into (and then back out of) Shelburne, we stopped at Sobey’s, Nova Scotia’s chain supermarket (my 3rd visit to this location, Rett’s 1st). On my first visit, I thought I had lost one of our plastic shopping bags, and it nearly brought me to tears. But luckily I had just misplaced it, and on my second trip, the checkout lady noticed the red-and-white bulls-eye logo and said “Target, eh? You must be from the States” (apparently Targets no longer exist in Canada). So then she got to hear my story about how losing an inanimate piece of disposable plastic could trigger such strong emotions.
See, nearly every state/province we’ve been in has completely abandoned disposable plastic bags (or free bags of any type) at grocery stores, and many places don’t even have bags available at checkout even if you wanted to pay for them. In states like Washington and California, some stores used a loophole in the bag laws to give out really thick “reusable” plastic bags (that of course nearly no one is actually going to reuse, thus generating 10x more plastic waste than simply sticking with the previously-legal thin bags). For some reason, in Washington, and then (I believe) at a Target in far-northern California, we ended up acquiring two of these thick-plastic bags.
These two bags have then spent the next 10 months of their lives strapped to my rear rack, being called into use at every grocery stop, and a million other times besides that. They have been seats to protect us from wet benches, they have held all manner of “extra” stuff atop our racks that temporarily don’t fit in our panniers, they have been to the Mexican desert, the rains of California, and now the seaside forests of Canada. They are surely the most-actually-reused “reusable” plastic bags in the history of the world.
Someday, age and wear will catch up; Target’s small holes are accumulating and I’m not sure how much more the handles can bear (though WA/OR/ID is still nearly-unscathed). At that point their death will be sad but acceptable, but the thought of losing one of them prematurely, along with all the memories that I’ve attached to them, was nearly too big of a shock to bear.
If that is the pain I feel at nearly losing a fucking piece of plastic I’ve become attached to, it is incomprehensible the pain that Rett must still be battling every single day over the premature loss of the living, love-returning human to whom she was most-bonded to on this Earth.
Related, Rett had gotten her bike going relatively easily when leaving the campground, but a big hill and a shoulderless grocery-store-busy road meant that she had to push her bike a quarter-mile up the sidewalk before reaching a place where she felt comfortable attempting another start, and even then it required some painful cursing of herself to get going.
After that we at least got a nice stretch of empty smooth road, with our route mostly cutting across the top of the lobes, to give us a short and easy day. At the end of each lobe, a narrow bay would come up from the south to meet the road, and they continued to give us an education in the extreme micro-climates of Nova Scotia. Uncomfortably hot and humid when a lobe of land was keeping the sea several miles away, and a blast of blessed air-conditioning when the sea came up to meet us. Weather reports said that actual inland locations (which, in Nova Scotia seems to max out at <20 miles from the water; no one lives any further inland than that) were over 100℉.
I’d called Lockeport Campground and Cottages yesterday to ask about availability, and Susan pulled over while driving somewhere to take my info. Upon arrival we were checked in by her husband Rudy (from Switzerland), who gave us recommendations on sites we might like, and correctly predicted that the well-shaded, pond-view #18 would be our choice. He also mentioned that he’d recently picked up some touring cyclists in Halifax and drove them to Yarmouth, because their original transport had abandoned them. I guess the Canadian friendliness is infectious even to immigrants, and I told him we’re lucky he wasn’t around a couple days ago, or he might have been driving more cyclists back to Yarmouth!
After settling into our site, we decided pretty quickly to book a second night. The next campground we were targeting was full, and going further to someplace else wasn’t really feasible in the heat. And we’d found a good site here, with great people, and it would give us a chance to check out the interesting-looking town of Lockeport proper. Taking time to explore an area is something we haven’t done much of lately, so maybe that will help change the feel of what we’re doing?
For heat-relief we took a dip in the swimming pool (private campground advantage #6!), and had a good chat with the four seasonal campers we were sharing the water with. Like the one campground in Maine, they were also all “locals”, living within an easy drive of their main houses on Nova Scotia. I don’t quite get it, but it works for them!
We kept the soup trend going with some sort of jambalaya soup creation that Rett came up with. As darkness fell, a campfire sing-along got going (and went surprisingly late!) that reminded me of our Baja beach nights. It’s a small campground, which maybe explains why they have such a community here.
We decided to walk into the actual town of Lockeport, which is on a near-island, connected to the mainland only by the thin crescent-shaped line of Crescent Beach. It’s especially unusual, because, at ~500 people, this outpost is the only settlement of any size between Shelburne, 15 miles west, and Liverpool, 35 miles east. So kids from the surrounding area need to travel onto the island to go to high school. I guess it’s reflective of how dominant the maritime fishing industry was to the development of this lightly-populated region: connections to the sea were more-important than connections to land.
We were able to walk almost directly from the campground along a rail-trail for two miles and across a separate railroad causeway/bridge to reach the town. Rett was really excited to be doing non-bike-based exploration. This was our first opportunity to really inspect the “rail trails” that have been paralleling our entire route from Yarmouth, and it confirmed my decision to avoid them has been the correct choice. The problem is that, in most places, they’re really more just “abandoned railways” than routes that anyone has attempted to make suitable for cycling. So there were bits where cycling might be sort of ok, but then other sections that would be completely impossible. It seems like it’s mostly the surrounding property owners who decide how to maintain the bit of trail that cuts across their land. So they’re nice for walking, or maybe ATV use, but given how extensive the network is, it’s a pretty big missed-opportunity for Nova Scotia to turn their province into a rail-trail heaven for cyclists. But I guess no one has successfully made the cost-benefit argument that would inspire the government(s) to make the tourist-attracting investment.
The trail brought us into the north end of town, and it didn’t take long to make it to the broad, sandy, crescent-shaped beach. We had a friendly chat with the very helpful host at the visitor’s center, and acquired a locally-crafted hot pad for $3 (something Rett had been needing for our camp cooking setup forever!) We laid out on the beach for a little bit, but the cooling-effect of being directly on the water wasn’t nearly as effective as it had been on previous days.
So we walked back into town and the one restaurant for lunch, where we were able to squeeze into an outdoor table just under the shade of the building (indoors was too warm). By this point the heat made any further exploration of the town seem less than fun, so we just went directly to the small grocery store to pick up supplies for dinner. There, we ran into one of the ladies we met in the campground pool yesterday, and she said she’d be happy to drive any of our groceries back to camp if we wanted. The two-mile walk back to camp was feeling like it would be much more of a sweaty slog than the cheerful stroll in the morning, so I asked if she’d be willing to transport human cargo too. Well yes, of course, and then we even got a little more of a tour of the town in her car, and cold bottles of water when we arrived back at her RV. Have I mentioned yet how nice Canadians are?
Even after the air-conditioned car ride, we still needed an afternoon cool-down, so we returned to the pool, this time finding the campground owners, Sue and Rudy, taking a relaxing break. We had a really great time talking with them, with topics ranging from international politics, places to see in Canada, and what it’s like to run a campground (they bought the place four years ago, and are able to manage it on their own and still feel semi-retired). Such great people, and it almost made us wish we were staying even longer!