Mersey River Chalet Retreat

We finally went for our much awaited retreat last week in Nova Scotia at Mersey River Chalets. It always feels like home, without the responsibilities a private chalet would imply; no taxes to pay, no cleaning, and no worries for vandalism or storm damage when we’re gone, it’s all taken care of.

We left at 12:30 and after Truro, instead of going towards Halifax we decided to take a different road this time and took the 289W and then the 236. We found them pretty scenic although they were very winding and hilly which was not the best for somebody with motion sickness like me although the sights made up for it. Among the animals we saw on the many farms were goats, cows, horses, lamas, sheep and a sheep dog. We were happy to get back on the 101 where the views of the Bay of Fundy were spectacular.

DD drinking real cola at Grand-Pre
Lunch at Grand-Pre

I had a lunch prepared in a small cooler and Dami suggested we stopped at a historical site he found using our Garmin GPS: Grand-Pre it was. What a beautiful surprise! We were able to go to a secluded picnic table next to Mr. Leblanc’s house reproduction across the gardens. Everything was perfect except the manure smell from the neighboring farm fields. We both thought the weeping willows near the ponds were very old: Dami guessed 200 and me, 350 years old. They were actually only between 50 and 80 years old. The real old willows at the site are at the back of the church, to the right. They are very small compared to the weeping ones. They are French willows that are said to date back to the 1600’s, before the deportation.

Almost there, we had to stop at the Internet café in Annapolis to check on some business stuff and then to Save on Foods because I had forgotten a few items. Unfortunately they didn’t have any natural soft drinks. Yes, before the artificial stuff, there was actually the natural stuff and cola was made with cola nut. I got some rooibos tea as well because I stopped drinking coffee and tea a couple of weeks ago so rooibos is back on my list. It’s tough not to have my morning coffee but I can do it!

DD unpacking the cats carpets
DD unpacking the cats carpets

We arrived at MRC on Friday evening at 7:00. We unpacked everything right away, I filled the small fridge and we sat down to relax and had some kava while playing our new favorite game, Nab-It, and listening to The Moody Blues, our official MRC music. The cats must have remembered the place because Jasper wasn’t as afraid as he was before and didn’t hide under the blankets for too long. He actually was so excited he kept jumping in Dami’s arms purring every 5 minutes. He looked really happy but hyper because the poor thing wasn’t able to sleep in the car and wasn’t able to rest.

For our 4th visit, we were staying 4 nights at chalet number 7, our new favorite. It is pretty much like the smaller chalets except it has a bigger living room and kitchen area, with awesome views of the boardwalk and lake across the forest, and because it’s at the end of the road, no car passes the chalet. Some people might not like the fact that you can see people on the boardwalk but it didn’t matter to us. The cats loved it and had their cat tree right in the window facing the canoe dock.

Jasper sitting in the cat tree facing the canoe dock, the boardwalk and the enchanted forest
Jasper sitting in the cat tree facing the canoe dock, the boardwalk and the enchanted forest
The resident ducks of Mersey River Chalets
The resident ducks of Mersey River Chalets

SATURDAY: Last time we checked the weather before we left, it wasn’t looking too good. The Weather Network called for cool temperatures and mostly rain for the weekend. We’d been lucky so far because it was now sunny with cloudy breaks since Grand-Pre! We got up at 9 and went to the boardwalk before breakfast to look at the ducks on the river.

After our breakfast we went for a 2 hour canoe ride on the river side up to the cascades. We parked our canoe and went for a hike, this time further than we went last time, up to the lake on the other side of the rocks.

DD at the end of the river
DD at the end of the river

The mosquitoes were pretty hungry and we were like a walking free blood buffet! Still, it was warm enough in the canoe, the sun was shining and therewas a little breeze. We saw many arrow heads just like the ones we have in our pond and yellow water lilies about to bloom.

Rocks between the river and lake
Rocks between the river and lake

In the afternoon after our lunch we went to Kejimkujik Park and cycled our favorite 10km bike trail along the river and did a few short hikes. This time, we bought a family year pass for all Canadian Parks; we thought it would be good to be able to visit “Fort Anne” Monday in Annapolis Royal and “Port Royal” habitations.

Ferns as seen from a chipmunk's view
Ferns as seen from a chipmunk’s view

SUNDAY: We got up at 9:00 again and at 10:00 we were ready to leave. We went for another canoe ride on the lake this time. It was so beautiful, peaceful and quiet. We were very fortunate to have the sun with us. We did a tour of the lake and then went up to the river to the cascades where we parked our canoe and walked in the thick fern forest.

We didn’t go very far on this side because there wasn’t much of a trail there and there were lots of mosquitoes and we were a free blood buffet again. On this ride we saw a fishing bird that looked like a small brown beige version of a heron.

After lunch we went back to Kejimkujik Park. We didn’t use our bike because it was raining too much and was only 12 degrees.  We did two short hikes. That night, walking back from the boardwalk, we saw bats flying back and forth in front of our chalet’s windows: humming birds in daylight and bats at night!

Dami in front of the Annapolis Garden Shop
Dami in front of the Annapolis Garden Shop

MONDAY:  Another cold and humid day so it was perfect to visit the historic sites and the Gardens. We first stopped at Annapolis Historic Gardens and finally we were able to see flowers! It is such a beautiful place! The rhododendrons were all in blooms and we had never seen such a big colorful collection before. It must be awesome to be able to go every month of the blooming season. Maybe it’ll be possible one day if we move there!

Dami dressed up at Fort Anne
Dami dressed up at Fort Anne

Our second stop was at Fort Anne.

DD dressed up at Fort Anne
DD dressed up at Fort Anne

We visited the Museum and walked around the Fort. We had our lunch in the car; we forward the front seats, recline the passenger to make a table and sit in the back, all warm and cozy! We had some soup and sandwich and went to the German Bakery for dessert but were very disappointed and we both agreed next time we will go back to the Cozy Internet Café!

DD and Wayne Melanson at Port Royal
DD and Wayne Melanson at Port Royal

Our next stop was Port Royal Historic site. Now that was a very special moment. There was something in the air. When we spoke to one interpreter, Wayne Melanson, originally from Baie Sainte-Marie, he said I was most probably a descendant of the Annapolis Acadians, I felt very emotional. He said all the Doucet in North America are descendants of Germain Doucet, who worked for the King of France. The interpreter was as well a descendant from Germain Doucet’s grand daughter who married Charles Melanson. I had some hopes what he said was true but I had to dig deeper and find for myself if it was so. Not knowing who my father is this was very important to me. Dami took some pictures of me and Wayne in front of the well and it was a magical moment.

Back at the Chalet, we played a game of Monopoly and just when we both thought I would go bankrupt, the tide turned and I won with a huge advance!

Old French Willows of Grand-Pre
Old French Willows of Grand-Pre

TUESDAY: It was already time to go back and for the first time the cats didn’t want to leave and we had to chase them and force them in the cage! The only stop we made was at Grand-Pre. We went back to look at the old French willows and visited the church with the paintings and the list of all the Acadian names. Dami got me a mug for a souvenir and we headed back to the car where the cats were anxiously waiting for us.

It was another successful vacation at Mersey River Chalets. We love that place so much but we both feel there is still so much more to explore in Nova Scotia. We were thinking of maybe exploring Cape Breton next time. We might have found a couple of places that have cabins that accept pets along the way. I can’t wait to discover what the future holds for us!