Segway PT tours coming to Oak Island!

Wynand and Max segwaying their way down the road from the causeway to Oak Island
Wynand and Max segwaying their way down the road from the causeway to Oak Island

It’s an unusual site almost anywhere.

When we spotted two Segway PTs on the road to Oak Island, dodging the dodgy potholes, we had to find out what’s going on.

It was Wynand “Dutch” Baerken who runs the Kayak Shack over at the Atlantica Hotel and Marina Oak Island, and Max from Segway Nova Scotia.

Wynand was sporting the sleek street Segway model while Max was roadtesting the fat-tired all-terrain version, complete with racey fenders. The knobby tires give an advantage on rough roads, but there’s a sacrifice in range compared to the street model of these electric-powered standup vehicles.

Heather on a Segway in 2005

I tried out a Segway some years ago in PEI (left). While it was fun, I wondered where it would find its market. It’s slower than a bicycle and faster than walking, and usually I want the exercise.

Wynand pointed out that he goes back and forth between the Kayak Shack and the Hotel many times a day, and a Segway would be more convenient than a bicycle and save walking time.

Large airports and warehouses are other places where a Segway doesn’t go fast enough to cause accidents but can increase efficiency.

Furthermore, you can wear it with anything, though high heels might handicap your ability to maneuver it.

The Kayak Shack will be offering guided Segway tours this summer! From the hotel, which overlooks Oak Island, the rail trail leads nicely to Crandall Road which is 1.4 km long and ends at the Oak Island causeway. Tours of Oak Island itself may happen, but the view at the causeway provides a great destination itself.

So I expect to see groups of these quiet vehicles humming down our road this summer. They’re quiet enough that you can have a conversation, so we’ll hear the voices before we hear the hum.

Here’s a little video illustrating that effect. You can even hear the birds!


New power poles and our carbon footprint

Nova Scotia Power is bringing the power lines that march through the woods out to the road.

The lines will be easier to repair if they go down in a storm. And some waterfront properties will no longer have lines spoiling their view.

So we’re getting new power poles.

Nova Scotia Power workers and new power poles

Poles made from a variety of wood species are used. Some come from quite a distance. Near the water they put cedar from the west coast. Further inland they use creosote-treated pine from down the Eastern Seaboard where pine grows taller, straighter and faster. They also use Douglas Fir. Apparently the Nova Scotian pine that was once prized for masts of sailing ships by the Royal Navy is no longer good enough.

Something else to add to our carbon footprint.

“Why can’t they just bury the power lines?” you might ask. The answer, as for many questions about rural Nova Scotia, lies in the low population density. It just costs too much for the number of people who live here. So lines criss-crossing the road are just a fact of life in rural areas. We might as well embrace them, even photographically, like the fog!

The same factors that make Nova Scotia a wonderful place to live also determine its limitations. C’est la vie.

A winter drive in Lunenburg Co.

Let me take you for a drive after a snowfall.

Highway 103
Heading west, past Mahone Bay, on Highway 103
Cornwall Road
Turn north at Blockhouse onto the Cornwall Road
Mushamush River
Along the Mushamush River in Middle New Cornwall
Crossroad Farm
Turn left at Crossroad Farm in Upper New Cornwall. It's for sale, by the way.
Cross Road
West on Cross Road
House on Cross Road
Another house
Along Cross Road
Further along Cross Road, heading west
sign covered in snow.
Which way now? Can't read the sign. Keep to the left.
Farm on Cross Road
Upper Northfield churches
Ah, here we are, at Upper Northfield.

All photos taken on Thursday, January 21, on my way to Pinehurst, just west of Upper Northfield.

The long drive to Upper Canada

Road through New Brunswick
The highway through New Brunswick has been greatly improved.

Some take it in stride; others would rather fly. The train is rather nice. I took the bus once – never again. But many, perhaps most, Nova Scotians have done the long drive between Nova Scotia and Ontario (once called Upper Canada) or Quebec (formerly Lower Canada) at least once. Many have gone “down the road” to seek their fortunes and return to Nova Scotia for holidays. Others make the trip regularly, in one direction or the other, with kids in tow.

But doing it in winter? Is it crazy?

We did just that for our Christmas holidays. It certainly is a bit of an adventure. The roads have been improved in recent years, but it’s still necessary to prepare for the unexpected.

Church in Batiscan, Quebec
Church in Batiscan, Quebec

The new toll highway through the Cobequid Pass in northern NS, which shortens the trip, was closed for 14 hours overnight a couple of years ago during a snowstorm. Imagine a family travelling in a car getting stuck for that period of time. My sister was once delayed for 3 days in northern New Brunswick, in the snow belt between Fredericton and Rivière-du-loup, with her dog. You also have to deal with heavy truck traffic, constantly spraying your windshield and dictating your speed.

The alternative, flying, is iffy too, if your goal is to be “home for Christmas” as I learned by experience years ago. Flights are often delayed by weather, and it is an expensive time of year to fly, especially for a family.

Man driving
The long drive: just relax and enter the Zone.

So we got our VW diesel Jetta into excellent running order, checked the snow tires, packed provisions and entertainment in case we were delayed en route and had to tuck into a motel for a few days, carried bedding for warmth in case we were stranded by the side of the road, packed extra motor oil and wiper fluid, and even a spare battery, just in case.

Long distance sailors say that if you want to meet up with them, they can promise you a time or a place, but not both. A long winter driving trip is a bit like that. Most of the time, the roads are fine. So we kept our fingers crossed, while preparing for whatever would be thrown our way.

We were lucky this time, with smooth sailing all the way. If we’d returned home one day earlier or later, we’d have found ourselves in a blizzard.

Trees, and a sign saying Nature's Air Filters
Nature's air filters stand on guard for us the day after a blizzard hit New Brunswick.
Best Western Hotel pool, Edmundston
Out of the water slide and into the pool at top speed, at the Edmundston Best Western Hotel, a great reward for kids after a long drive.

Edmundston, New Brunswick, is a good overnight stopping place for those who aren’t inclined to drive straight through the night. Several hotels cater to people traveling through. Sitting in the hot tub at the Best Western, I chatted with other Nova Scotians, heading either east or west, while our kids enjoyed the water slide. I felt part of a special club of hardy pilgrims keeping alive our family ties and connections to “home”.

After the freezing rain

Morning of January 8, 2009
Morning of January 8, 2009

Schools were cancelled due to road conditions like this. Icy and completely slippery, treacherous just to walk on.  I could have skated.  Later in the day the ice had melted and run off into the ditches – in most places.