Long Weekends are Made for Adventur-ing

It’s the May long weekend here in Nova Scotia (otherwise known a Victoria Day for the cultured types, and May-2-4 weekend for us beer-oriented, un-civilized Canadians). Unfortunately for Jason, it’s not a long weekend in the States and he works for an American company, so we decided to get our adventur-ing in early and head out on Saturday.

First stop… well, not too exciting for Kaylee, but a trip to the Army/Navy Store on Agricola Street.

Mom and Dad take me to the weirdest places sometimes.

When I popped my head in to ask – tentatively, and assuming I knew the answer – if dogs were allowed in the store, I was pleasantly surprised to be met with “oh yeah of course, bring ’em on in!”  Awesome. About this time of year we have to start taking turns going in stores so one of us can stay in the air conditioned car with the pooch(es), so any places that lets her in automatically becomes a summer destination for us (I’m looking at you, Canadian Tire Lower Sackville and most of Dartmouth Crossing. You have our business this year.) Kaylee was enthralled with all the smells in the Army/Navy store. I imagine she had a much better idea of the history of most of the items than we did!

Ok I’m starting to get weirded out, let’s go already!

After picking up a couple items for an upcoming camping trip – yes, really, I convinced Jason to go actual camping, with a tent and everything – we headed out to look for a walking location. Point Pleasant was our original destination, but this is Bluenose Marathon weekend in the city and we didn’t want to get caught up in the end of the Youth Run so we opted to head down the Bedford Highway and landed at Hemlock Ravine.

The heart-shaped pond. Less romantic than we’d have you believe.

Hemlock Ravine has a great history; I was a tour guide for five years, and we tell a much more.. romantic… version of the truth to out-of-towners. The gist of the tourist-version is that Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent, spent some time on the estate with his french mistress, Julie St. Laurent, and formed a heart-shaped pond for her out of love. When Edward was called back to England to marry and produce an heir (later to become Queen Victoria), he was forced to leave his beloved Julie behind forever. All that remains of their love today is a rotunda and the heart shaped pond, forever sealing their love.

(Several parts of this story are distinctly untrue. You can read a little more about it here, or hit up Wikipedia. The TL:DR version? Edward wasn’t that nice a guy, Julie was already married when she left her husband for the him, they spent 28 years together but Edward had other mistresses, he ditched her in Canada when he left, and he didn’t create the heart-shaped pond, his grandson did it “in honour of their love” years later. You can see why this doesn’t make the best story for tourists.)

But I digress.

Here’s a cute picture of Kaylee to distract you from how depressing that story really is.

Even though it’s not so far away, we’ve never managed to get Kaylee out to Hemlock Ravine before, so this was a nice treat for all of us. You can read more about Hemlock Ravine here and here, including some maps of the trails.

One of the great things about Hemlock Ravine is that it’s largely unspoiled by hundreds of years of development. As an estate, it was untouched for many years, so there are some trees that are upwards of 300 years old inside the park. There are also lovely groomed trails and an off-leash area (yay!) so it’s really a lovely destination to go with your dog. It was also impeccably clean – they offer clean-up bags at the entrances, there are garbage cans strategically placed throughout (thank you) and the people who use it clearly care about it, because I didn’t see garbage or even dog poo anywhere – a rarity sometimes.

I love it here! Can we come back?

Kaylee was a little too interested in the ducks, but otherwise it was a nice relaxing stroll for about an hour, looping our way around the various trails and just enjoying the day.

Let me love them with my teeth… please…?

After our walk we decided to take the long way home and go for a drive through Waverly and Fall River. If you’ve driven the area, you’ll know it’s scenic and also pretty twisty-turney, which makes Jason a fan.

Weeeeeeeeeeee!

I was feeling an icecream, so we kept meandering along the road until we hit Wellington and found a delicious little spot: Just Around the Corner Store and the Wellington Bakery. 

A cute spot!

Tea biscuits? Check. Peanut butter balls? Check. Ginger snap cookies – complete with still-soft-and-chewy-ness? Check. Icecream?

Yes, please!

Ok, so I got Kaylee an icecream. Yeah, I know she doesn’t need it – do any of us? – but it was an adventure day. And, man, did she enjoy the hell out of that icecream.

Maybe not so much Jason putting icecream on her nose.

Nope. No. Just no.

The drool… oh man… if you have a dog you understand. If you don’t…

We were all pretty beat by this point so we headed home for a group nap… and really, there’s nothing better than snuggling up with your puppy after a great adventure.

The only thing missing was a swim… next time Kaylee, I promise!

JJ’s Retreat

The last couple of weeks have seemed to rush by; with work and friends and Jason’s birthday weekend away, there’s barely been time to think about what’s next, let alone make a decent blog post!

But speaking of weekends away…

For Jason’s birthday we decided, along with some friends, to visit JJ’s Retreat, a set of “camping cabins” in the Salt Springs region of Nova Scotia. They’re… rustic… but comfortable, and there’s electricity in each cabin and a central bathroom with running water, showers, and flush toilets, so it’s really like camping without the tent or the cooler. Not too shabby!

From the moment we arrived, Kaylee was enthralled. She loves the woods. She was running back and forth between the two cabins we’d rented, bouncing the whole way. You could practically hear her thinking… “we’re in the woods! We’re sleeping here! And there are so many hands to pet meeeeeeee…. “

Getting a head start on cuddles with Alek

Unfortunately the forecast wasn’t what we’d hoped, but we made the best of it; Friday night was the only clear night, so we took advantage of the break in the rainy weather and had a pretty awesome campfire.

Just chillin <3

Kaylee really seems to love campfires… I don’t exactly know why, but I suspect it has something to do with the frequent consumption of hot dogs and marshmellows (and the sharing… always the sharing). There may have been … ahem… a little alcohol also consumed, which meant Saturday  morning mostly looked like this:

Go ‘way. Sleepin’.

We eventually all got moving – Kaylee included – but since it was a pretty rainy day we mostly relaxed with some board games and some good conversation. Kaylee didn’t seem to mind the low key day… I have to remind myself sometimes that she’s no longer a young dog, and she needs more naps than she used to.

ZZZZZZZZZZ

Of course, cuddles are worth getting up for… or at least moving to the couch…

Kaylee gravitates towards my friend Julia… I suspect because she knows she’ll get so many belly rubs…

We finished off the night with a big feast of pulled pork and other awesome snacks (of which Kaylee may have partaken… yes, I know. She’s kinda fat, and this is why!), followed by a few card and board games.

I think we broke the dog.

It was a much earlier night than the night before, but Sunday morning still looked like this:

Can’t tell who’s the favourite here…

All in all it was a great weekend. We’d recommend JJ’s Retreat – they were great guys, very responsive when we needed something, and it’s a nice, laid back location if you’re looking for outdoor time with a few amenities. They’re completely dog-friendly too, so go check them out!

Kaylee says they’re the perfect place for napping, too.