Saturday, April 27, 2013

An "oops" at Halifax International Airport...and a taste of Nova Scotia.

The iconic lighthouse at Peggy's Cove
Returning to Vancouver Island from Halifax, we weren't about to take any chances - it was a very early flight and we'd been told that the hotel shuttle bus to the terminal could be full. The advice: get down to the lobby early. So us being us (got to have a "double backup" plan) we got there extra early - two shuttle buses early in fact. Still not fully awake at 0445 hours, we joined a group of about a dozen men waiting in the lobby. Dressed for work in the oil patch, we naturally presumed they were heading back to Alberta's Fort McMurray and that we would share the same flight as we were flying via Calgary to Victoria.

The shuttle bus, with all the familiar hotel markings, pulled in about ten minutes early. We boarded and took our seats with the rest of the guys. I noted that our fellow passengers were very quiet. There was none of the usual banter. All seemed pensive, alone with their own thoughts. About five minutes into the ride, it became clear that we weren't driving the same route to the terminal that we had driven the night before to return the rental car. Hmm, must be mistaken. Several minutes later, we turned into the terminal. was the wrong terminal. The aircraft that awaited was not a WestJet Boeing 737, it was a Cougar Sikorsky S-92 helicopter - bound for an off-shore helipad. We had unknowingly joined a crew of oil workers, heading out for a two-week shift aboard a vessel or a drilling rig...over 100 nautical miles out into the Atlantic Ocean. Oops.

Despite our clear lack of situation awareness and "brain engagement", all would be well. :) The main terminal at Halifax Stanfield International Airport was just another two minutes away. The driver, clearly much more awake than us, had already identified that as our probable destination. He cheerfully, and with a broad smile (it's the Maritime way) delivered us to the door - with nary a comment. I guess we weren't the first "civvies" to board the early bus to the airport!

Those aboard the shuttle that morning work in a difficult, unforgiving, sometimes incredibly hostile environment. They are far out at sea, and apart from their families for extended periods of time. I can well imagine who they were thinking about during that quiet ride to the waiting helicopter.

Somewhere, out at sea, a tiny helipad...
It was a good reminder of the many whose work takes them far from home and out to sea, for extended periods of time, and of the families who anxiously await their return. The experience on the shuttle bus provided an important perspective.

Here's some pics of Nova Scotia, one of our Canadian maritime provinces. Hope you enjoy them.

Very low tide, Bay of Fundy 
Don't you think his vessel would make a GREAT pirate ship!
"Theodore Tugboat", in Halifax Harbour,
maybe not quite so "pirate". :)
Marine shuttle between Halifax and Dartmouth
Canadian frigate HMCS Halifax (FFH 330),
returning to port.
They bake some amazing oatcakes here!
Maritime Museum, a "re-configured" church at LaHave.
Lunenburg Academy.
Lunenburg under blue skies..
(The schooner, Bluenose II was in dry dock.
The tiny community of Peggy's Cove.
A taste of France, and the Acadian culture.
Fair warning.
Lobster traps flung high onto the rocks
by a North Atlantic storm.
"Farewell to Nova Scotia...
...the sea bound coast."
A favourite Canadian folk song!
Back home on Vancouver Island, we returned with a renewed appreciation for the beauty and diversity of this most extraordinary country, and especially, Atlantic Canada.

Now, it's time to launch the kayaks, in these equally marvellous Pacific waters.

As always, thanks for spending a few moments here.


"Farewell to Nova Scotia" - and Gordon Lightfoot's version. You can have a listen here - it's a wonderful Celtic Canadian sound!


  1. Love the pics, there's so much colour there, just makes you smile! :-). Gen.

  2. Glad you enjoyed them, Gen. Indeed, NS is a "colourful" province as is the case throughout the maritimes. It does make you smile and is a great antidote to those grey, misty days by the ocean which we get here too. :))

  3. It looks beautiful and rather quaint! Bet you can guess which pic is my favourite.LOL
    Guess I should get out there again someday and tour the eastern islands.

  4. Your favourite pic, L? Probably me getting a finger bitten by a giant lobster pincer. :) Except that it was Joan! And you know I'm just kidding. Haha! D

  5. Hi Duncan, a very perceptive and thoughtful post -as ever!. Even after (or perhaps because of)34 years working at sea, leaving home for a four month stint is still the hardest thing I ever do. It does make the "harbour" of home so very special though :o)

    Kind regards to you both


  6. Thank you for your kind words, Ian. I have the utmost respect for folks like yourself who are regularly away from home and working in a difficult environment. And, most assuredly, deep respect for the families who keep it all together during those times apart. Warm wishes to you and yours. Duncan.