I spent my long weekend in Nova Scotia and, as with every trip I take there, I discovered new things while also renewing my fondness and respect for the people, the land and the sea.
Four other friends and I arrived in Halifax on Friday night and were met by Jim, our limo driver for the weekend, who took us to the Delta Halifax -- where Jeff and Tara Cohen were waiting for us in the Bill Clinton Suite that was one of their wedding presents from last summer. We celebrated Jeff Ross' birthday with appetizers, drinks and cake before heading down to a large tent set up by the harbour where we partook of Keith's and listened to a band called Blueberry Grunt -- which I can only assume is an affliction that can leave you toilet-ridden after eating too many blueberries. The group played a good mixture of rock, pop and Celtic covers until things closed down and we returned to the hotel where I sat in a hot tub drinking beer, smoking a Monte Cristo and enjoying good conversation until 4:30 a.m.
The next morning we set out for the little village of Hubbards, which is less than an hour outside of Halifax. Tara had arranged the rental of three cabins for us as well as some of her Halifax friends and family members. The next three days were spent taking walks by the beach and through forested roads and generally relaxing. I even did yoga for more than an hour, though my compassionate teacher was much better at it than I'll ever hope to be.
Saturday night was spent at the Shore Club, an old dance hall from the 1930s, where we were entertained by local favourites, The Persuaders. There were lots of fun covers, including JC joining the band for a rendition of the Waco Brothers' Do You Think About Me that left him hoarse for the rest of the weekend. While the dancing continued until 1:30 a.m., a friend and I cut out early to get our ball gloves to play catch under the moonlight and a motion-detecting light that required occasional jumping-jacks to reactivate it. I guess I missed a brawl at the club, but I was invited to tell stories (some of which may eventually make it here) in an impromptu pajama party in a bedroom with three lovely ladies before heading on to a couple of other cabins for more fellowship until setting my head down at 6 a.m.
Sunday afternoon was spent on a 22-foot sailboat with a few friends and our very generous hosts, Captain Carl and his wife Gayle, who we had just met that afternoon. With the wind blowing in our faces, we sailed calm seas around the St. Margaret's Bay area for three relaxing hours that were a highlight of the trip. We returned to party central cabin and were greeted with a great lobster dinner before we returned to the Shore Club, where The Persuaders did an opening set before Matt Mays & El Torpedo took the stage. The band's performance wasn't as loud as the last few I've seen, but it was definitely one of the best, as the band delivered healthy doses of its Neil Young-flavoured roots rock from its two albums. The venue doesn't usually host bands of that calibre, so the crowd was going nuts. Limo driver Jim, a very big man who had more than a few beers in him, was so excited that he lifted me on his shoulders and danced around. Apart from almost hanging myself from netting hanging from the ceiling, and being disappointed that no-one yelled at me to "Show us your tits," it was an interesting way to watch part of a concert. The night was capped off by a stroll down to the beach for a bonfire and fireworks, and then another tour of the cabin circuit for more beers.
The next afternoon we visited Peggy's Cove and the memorial established a few kilometres away at the site of the horrific airline crash that killed more than 200 people in 1998. It was the second time I had visited both, and they still moved me very much. The waves weren't crashing like they sometimes do so you could walk almost right to the water's edge. I could spend hours climbing the rocks around Peggy's Cove, and I gained even more appreciation for it by having Clara "the climbing dog" with us.
Thanks, as always, go to Jeff and Tara for arranging such a great weekend. It was excellent to spend quality time with some of my best Toronto friends (and two great dogs), and to renew or start new acquaintances with some of the fine locals who are always engaging and treat me like one of them. As beautiful as British Columbia is, I'm definitely more of an east coast guy than a west coast guy.
np Oysterband - Trawler