My wife's birthday was fast approaching and each year I like to plan a little family getaway to mark the occasion. I wasn't quite sure how I was going to top last year's excursion to the Train Station Inn in Tatamagouche, but I was up for the challenge! My recent trip to Economy Falls had whet my appetite to return to that area again for a longer visit.
My wife and I enjoyed a winter retreat years ago (before the kids were born) at the seaside cottages of Four Seasons Retreat and I knew this would be the perfect destination.
We seemed to have a million things to do around the house before we could actually pack-up and get on the road to make the best of the day. The stress of it all only made us that much more appreciative of the break we were about to enjoy.
We were greeted in the driveway by a friendly Burmese Mountain dog and owners Maureen and Gordon who had been hard at work in the gardens. The property was immaculate and we were excited to find out which of the cottages nestled among the trees would be ours for the night.
Our two bedroom cottage was called "Daisy" and we were spoiled with the most gorgeous view. With the incredible tides of the Minas Basin in sight, I was looking forward to watching the landscape change before our eyes throughout our stay.
The first thing the kids wanted to do was hop in the pool. It was a beautiful hot sunny day and as I sat on the pool deck watching the kids I realized that it was the first time that we had actually stopped and slowed down to enjoy the summer. The kids played "shark attack" with mom and were keen to sport their teenage mutant ninja turtle swimming attire. For a brief time the noise may have interrupted the tranquility of our surroundings, but they sure were having fun!
In all of the rush to get to our private oasis we realized that we were missing a few critical grocery items. With supper time looming we decided to take a quick scoot down the road to the Bass River General Store. This area is a goldmine for those looking for really unique shopping experiences. The antique shops in Great Village have all kinds of really cool treasures and were featured on the television show Canadian Pickers. The Joy Laking Gallery and stone sculptor Heather Lawson in Bass River are two more "must-stops." And for the love of cheeses you have to get to That Dutchman's Cheese Farm for a wheel of award winning cheese and the amazing hilltop view.
The Bass River General Store looks like most rural general stores upon approach. Even as you walk in the door there's nothing particularly special about it. But the key is to find your way to the stairs leading to the second and third level where you'll find one of the most eclectic and unique shopping experiences ever! After getting our grocery necessities we had time to take a quick look around. Unfortunately we couldn't linger long as we had to get back to the cottage to make supper.
We had barbecue steak and fresh veggies that we picked up earlier at the Masstown Market (yum!) and decided to roast marshmallows for dessert. I knew the sugar had kicked in when the kids started playing "marshmallow zombies" staggering around the lawn with marshmallow hanging from their mouths. - Time to get them to bed and enjoy some quiet time by the fire!
The next morning before breakfast the kids and I went for a walk to a secluded beach nearby. It was a fantastic morning. The bay was calm, the sun was shining and the kids were excited that we saw a few rabbits along the way.
After an egg and bacon breakfast, a quick swim and a few more photo ops we packed up and headed down the road to the Five Islands Provincial Park. The tide was on its way out and was almost at its lowest point - perfect conditions for walking the ocean floor! The Five Islands area offers some of the most spectacular coastal landscape in the country and is one of the best places to view the dramatic change in Fundy tides from high to low.
We hiked to the "Old Wife" rock formation, dug a clam or two (catch and release), and played in the slippery mud. The vastness of open space revealed at low tide is definitely awe-inspiring and the view rounding the corner at the Old Wife is out of this world!
Upon returning to the car we decided to go a little further down the road to the Five Islands Lighthouse Park for a picnic lunch. The park is a relatively new addition to the area and offers an outstanding view of the Five Islands themselves. There were several photographers there capturing the incredible view. The kids decided to blow off some steam by playing on the cool pirate ship playground onsite, while my wife and I marveled at the peaceful surroundings and the aerobatics of several small birds that were flitting about. We later learned that the birds were Bank Swallows.
Two friendly young guys working at the park for the summer showed us to the top of the lighthouse and told us stories about each of the Five Islands including the First Nation Glooscap legend. It was great to get this local perspective and after hearing the stories about each island, I can now remember each by name: Moose, Diamond, Long, Egg and Pinnacle.
We had originally planned to continue our adventure with a visit to Parrsboro, but with limited time we decided to save that leg of our journey for another day. On our way home I grabbed a coffee for the road at a cool little café called Mo's.
Mo's is also known for its brick oven pizza, art gallery, frequent live music, and even a hostel. It is also a home base for organizers of Not Since Moses, a 10km run on the ocean floor that happens in the area each year (really cool!). - Many reasons to return again to this fascinating area of the province!