After our first week in Nova Scotia, Canada, Johnny and Adam and I took a great trip. A trip within a trip.
Dr. Jim's funny wife, Loretta, titled our trip, "WWOOFer boys go to the Big City," and giggled. She did this because we three yankees had been working as WWOOF-program farm volunteers in Dr. Jim's Tupperville, population 114, where the most dangerous villain is an apple-tree-chewing porcupine. And, in a brave, bold move, we'd be hitchhiking to Atlantic Canada's biggest capital, Halifax, population - brace yourself - 300,000. Really, there aren't many dangerous villains in Halifax, either.
Loretta's hopes for drama get altogether smashed when you remember Johnny and Adam come from Baltimore - a place where, upon hearing the word, "Halifax," a common local would ask himself, "A 'halifax?" Shoot, is that weapon bigger or smaller than the one I carry?"
Johnny and Adam would venture in together. I hitchhiked to Halifax with Dr. Jim's other WWOOFer, short, friendly, Japanese Junko.
Junko and I got a ride from Rob, a young banker; I suspect him of having a little "thing" for Asian women. There's nothing wrong with that.
Darryl, in his late thirties, drove us into Halifax. He was one of those Canadians I told you about who has no joke response. But, I liked him. He had a seventeen-year-old rock-band son who had all kinds of piercings and looked weird, but he called him "a great kid" and really believed in him.
It was Saturday afternoon, Johnny and Adam soon met up with us, and we were in Halifax - a cozy place on the coast, with lots of shiny, red brick and cafes and pizzerias and pubs on low-car-traffic streets. It felt good; Johnny and I were on hitchhiking highs.
In some park, playful Johnny and I tore around like kids, throwing our tennis ball between ourselves and racing after it and playing soccer with it and kicking it off the statue of Cornwallis, founder of Halifax. You don't want to do that in Baltimore. Because, the statue of the founder of Baltimore (I think it was Babe Ruth) will probably pull out a gun and shoot you, or else bat you into Baltimore Harbour.
Using the $20 Dr. Jim had given each of us, we rented rooms at the local university so we could wash the hot June sweat off. We headed out to check out Halifax - a center for music and drinking.
An Australian traveller staying at the university, Brendan, joined us. This was significant, because he gave birth to an indisputable theory: Adam loves Aussies. Frat-boy Adam, a conoisseur of all things "fun" of the utmost taste (such as: drinking, high diving boards, trampolines, games of paper/rock/scissors), delighted in the way Brendan twisted all his vowels. Brendan spoke leisurely, yet with heated animation, and it so tickled us that we sometimes couldn't even concentrate on what he was saying.
At a Halifax pub, Brendan said things about North America we'll never forget, mainly because of how he said them.
"Sheet, maits," he said. "Noh-ut too lohng ago, thay-uh wuz thees guh-ul crohss-cuntry-skeein'. She cums 'rao-un thees coh-nuh, 'en uh keoo-guh jomps dao-un frum uh tree 'en reeps huh freekin' hed ohff!" (Shit, mates. Not too long ago, there was this girl cross-country-skiing. She comes around this corner, and a cougar jumps down from a tree and rips her fricken' head off!)
"Aww-uh ..." His eyes grew seriously, fearfully wide. "I'ud hai-ut too ron intoo a bea-uh!" (Aww, I'd hate to run into a bear!)
He'd been working in Canada's Banff National Park. He hacked the word, "Banff!" like he was trying to spit out something stuck in his throat. "Yuh guyz goh-du' goh tuh 'Banff!' Eetz'uh beeg pa-uh-tee. Thay-uh ahh moh 'Strai-ullyuhns then Cuh-naideeuns! (You guys gotta go to Banff! It's a big party. There are more Australians then Canadians!)
"Aww-uh, uh mai-ut uh moy-un heetch-hoyk'd uh-crohss Cainuhduh. Hai-eeps uh gaiz, mait! Wun ti-um, hee gets 'in 'ees cahr ... wee-theen foy-uv mee-nitz, thuh goi'z haind ees roit on 'eez crotch! So, me fren' goz, 'Bee-oof!' elboz 'uh goi roit acrohss 'uh faice! (Aww, a mate of mine hitchhiked across Canada. Heaps of gays, mate! One time, he gets in this car ... within five minutes, the guy's hand is right on his crotch! So, my friend goes, 'Boof!' elbows the guy right across his face!)
"So-uz," Brendan inquired. "Yuh guyz dreenk bee-uhz 'in thuh Staits? Noi-um yuh toap thray!" (So, you guys drink beers in the States? Name your top three!)
Following the beers and talk, we went clubbing at the Liquor-Dome. A young local band showed off its grungy/eighties' tone, lonely, trailing-off lyrics, cherry candy guitar chords, crisp drum bangs, and eight-minute songs. The crowd liked it. Halifax knows music.
Believe it or not, we even made it back to our rooms! We'd miraculously survived ... "The Big City!"
Whew. I missed Dr. Jim and fond Tupperville.
But, the next morning, Johnny and Adam and I continued our weekend trip. Brendan said, "Buh-bye, mates!" Junko gave us Japanese five-cent tokens to remember her by and to bring us good luck across Canada. And we Americans hitchhiked thirty miles down the coast.
We got to a spot called Wholly's Cove, or something. Trails stood between us and the dark, purple sea. The trails' floor was orchid/silverish rounded rock, and the trail led like a maze through misty green shrubs down to rounded cliffs and beaches made up of a single rock. In the surrounding area, a low landscape timidly approached and seemed to swim with the sea, and it was littered with square and round stones like items in a messy living room. Ocean salt rose through the air and cooled our skin.
Hiking along the shrubs, we got a kick out of imitating the Aussie. Brendan, we noticed, began nearly all of his sentences with curse-words incredulously. "Sheet!" he'd say, or "Fok!" or "'Ell, mate!"
Adam joked, "Nai-um yuh toap thray!"
"Aww-uh, I'ud hai-ut too ron intoo uh bea-uh!" I said.
"... 'en reeps huh freekin' hed ohff!" said Johnny.
"Aussie-talk" got Adam very excited, and he spurriously switched to "Johnny-talk" as we hiked, to give us all nicknames. He called me "ol' Insult-Loving Johnny," because I cracked up whenever Adam insulted his childhood buddy. He called Johnny "ol' Wandering-Eye Johnny" because Johnny was suspected of being a card cheat. Adam, for his part, was labeled "Johnny Knows-Where-He's-Going" or "Johnny Can't-Use-A-Metaphor," due to his map-reading abilities and his shoddy comparisons.
It was a classic Nova Scotian summer scene.
Johnny and Adam transformed into cold-water enthusiasts, as we found cliffs to jump and "Whoo!" off of.
I snorkeled, pushing around brown Nova Scotian kelp fronds lounging on the sea-floor and observing a solitary, floating jellyfish.
We Australian Johnny's traversed a globby muck of kelp and then a short channel to explore a huge rock-mound island. It was here that our Nova Scotian Atlantic trip met its most thrillingly scary moment. "'Ol Wandering-Eye Johnny" had undertaken the scaling of an island boulder, and he got stuck, clinging to the boulder for panicked life, with no idea as to where he could safely move his hands or feet. He froze in a stretched-out position, begging Adam's name for help. Adam came to his friend's rescue and helped him down ... the entire one foot off the ground Johnny needed to descend. We let him hear it for that one.
After much debate - in Australian - Adam titled the island: "Glaci-uh-Cut Boulduh-Climbin' Cra-ub Cemetery Seagull Aisland."
We left the secluded Wholly's Cove, walked the two miles to the famously-picturesque, tiny fishing village, Peggy's Cove, and hitchhiked onward. At sunset, we were standing on a low curve of the coastal road, watching the sun turn red the flat ocean before us, behind a lone fisherman's cabin.
Eventually, after Johnny and I lost our only baseball in the weeds during a game of hitchhiking catch, we all three got picked up by a truck.
The truck dropped us nearby at Robin and Mariett's house. Robin and Mariett were a couple that had given us a ride earlier in the day and then invited us into their home. We played cards with them and caught a great sleep.
More from Nova Scotia's stunning Atlantic to come.
Much thanks to Robin & Mariett for the place to sleep!
- "ol' Insult-Loving Johnny"
with "ol' Wandering Eye Johnny" and "Johnny Can't-Use-A-Metaphor"
NOTEABLE WILDLIFE SIGHTINGS: kelp, a jellyfish, green-brown fish, dark blue fish. thankfully, we didn't ron intoo any bea-uhs!