It’s time for a more personal update in the life of Off Track Travel. Here’s the lowdown on what we’ve been up to this April, May and June. Spoiler: it involves quite a bit of travel around Eastern Canada, a van conversion, a citizenship ceremony and plenty of seafood!
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Converting the van
The conversion of our Savana van finally started in earnest in mid-April. This was far later than we ever anticipated but the weather simply wasn’t in agreement. The first step was to rust-proof and paint the floor, which required a certain temperature to dry. Realising that this temperature may never arrive, we had to get on with it. The problems didn’t stop there, with the foam insulation also refusing to cooperate in such cold weather. Then, a stroke of luck. A week of sun allowed Jean Robert to power through and get the van to a point where we could actually travel and sleep in it. Which was absolutely essential since we needed to leave pretty imminently!
Two weeks in Québec
The number one reason for our May trip to Québec was the Women in Travel Summit. It was my first ever travel blogging related conference and I came away from Québec City with new friends, plenty of new knowledge, a host of new experiences and better still, a feeling of empowerment. It was so awesome to be in the same room as hundreds of women who love to travel as much as me AND understand what I do for a living! I also came away in love with Québec City! After WITS, Jean Robert and I travelled back to New Brunswick via Québec’s Cote Nord and Gaspésie regions (working with Quebec Maritime). Too many memories to summarise here, but the wildlife was abundant (whales, bears and lynx!), the coastal scenery breathtaking, hiking fabulous and the sun shone every day.
Straight after our trip to Québec, I had my Canadian citizenship ceremony back in New Brunswick. My six and a half year journey with Canadian immigration is finally over! The rest of May continued to be busy. JR returned to work on the van and I continued writing.
On 2nd June, we set out to explore mainland Canada’s most easterly province, Nova Scotia (working with Tourism Nova Scotia and Parks Canada). For such a ‘small’ province, we’ve had such a mix of experiences and adventures, more than I would have guessed. The biggest surprise to me has been the long swathes of white sand beaches with turquoise water the colour of that in the Caribbean. We’ve also seen towering basalt columns, hiked along rugged pink cliffs, visited too many lighthouses to number, eaten our weight in seafood, drunk plenty of local wine and even rafted those incredible Bay of Fundy tides. Of course, Nova Scotia isn’t all about the coast and we took a week to explore the lakes and forested interior in restful Kejimkujik National Park too. In June, we drove as much as 2000km in Nova Scotia alone, without yet reaching Halifax or Cape Breton, two of the province’s biggest attractions!
Coming up next
July – This month (I realise it’s two thirds over already!) is still all about the Maritimes, with the majority again being spent in Nova Scotia. We just love it here. Aside from finally visiting Halifax (working with Discover Halifax) and Cape Breton, a much-anticipated part of this month is a week-long kayak trip in the Eastern Shore Islands. Close to the end of July, we will try to drag ourselves away from Nova Scotia to neighbouring Prince Edward Island.
August – Potatoes, beaches and plenty more seafood lie in wait for us on Prince Edward Island, a very convenient detour on the way back to New Brunswick. Back in Jean Robert’s home province, we will be celebrating Acadian Day (15th August) and the surrounding festival on the Acadian Peninsula. Beyond that, things are a little more undecided for the rest of the month and into September.
What I’ve been writing about
One of my biggest projects over the last few months was published on 1st May. The Wine Lover’s Guide to the Naramata Bench is a downloadable eBook all about planning a trip to what I think is the most beautiful wine region in Canada. It’s hugely satisfying to have it finally released and available to purchase.
Other new content on Off Track Travel:
Alongside this, much of April was again spent researching and updating older posts in the archives of Off Track Travel. This has proved to be well worth the time as, two months later, I can see these posts are receiving many new readers. I also wrote an extensive guide to the Canadian citizen application process, based on my own experience.
Things we’ve been loving this quarter
Travelling in our new van – We always knew that the Savana was going to be an upgrade from our old Astro – more space, a more sophisticated conversion, a newer vehicle. But it is better than I imagined. There are so many smaller upgrades that have changed how we travel and live. For one thing, we can now cook inside. On the worst weather days, this is simply wonderful.
Nova Scotia seafood – This month, we’ve eaten a LOT of seafood. Clams, halibut, lobster, crab, scallops, oysters, mussels…Nova Scotia is undoubtedly a cornucopia for seafood lovers. It all can be found at reasonable prices too, with a little bit of searching. We often struck lucky at unassuming food trucks, usually located in the wharf area of fishing towns. Notable favourites include Kalen’s Take-out in Digby and West Head Takeout in Clark’s Harbour (Cape Sable Island).
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August – A week in the wilderness of Kejimkujik was the perfect time to catch up with some reading. I read a half dozen books (I’m a fast reader) but my favourite has to be the First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North. To put it briefly – Harry August is experiencing something a little like Groundhog Day but applied to his entire life. When he dies, his life begins again. It’s a perfect blend of drama and sci-fi that sticks with you long after finishing. We both loved it.