I could do the southern portions of Erie and Ontario, continue to Maine, take a ferry from there to Nova Scotia--or hook up with the Trans Canada Highway and enter by land, say, via Lake Ontario to Montreal to New Brunswick and south to Nova Scotia. On the return, I'd do the northern portions of the two lakes. A graduation I plan to attend in Vermont in August will be an extra leg to add. In VT, I'll make a major stop in Montpelier, where I hope to meet up with an old teacher. Then I'd trek down southwest to Middlebury for the graduation.
Then, Friday I was thumbing through a newspaper and learned that Sept. 15-16 Chicago would host their annual Celtic Festival and along with the music, rugby, kilts, Guinness, fish and chips, there would be a Nova Scotia tent. Be still my heart! I thought I might pick up some travel brochures but I collected far more.
By the time I reached Randolph St., I could hear the signature bagpipes and my years of marching with a drum & bugle corps automatically made me step to the rhythm. I found the Nova Scotia booth easily and waited for the first layer of people to move away so I could inch my way forward. I waited on one side but it moved too slowly. I went around to the other side. The friendly ambassadors were enthusiastically giving away spongy red toy lobsters on a stick. At the same time, one could sign up for a prize that included a lobster dinner. I didn't.
Finally, I was able to move to the table, where much of it was covered by a beautiful laminated, highly detailed map of Nova Scotia. I want that map! I would occupy a special place right above my desk, to aid in "keeping my eyes on the prize." I studied the map, which I've now become familiar. I asked the woman about the ferry from Maine. It leaves from Bar Harbor, she told me. She gave me some info and we looked at the map together. I asked about travel alone in Nova Scotia. While she didn't anticipate any problems, she smartly shared a general caveat about safe travel anywhere--no place is 100% safe. However, she stressed that Nova Scotia is exceedingly safe and that I should not encounter problems. In fact, she said, the I will find the friendly citizens caring and helpful, people who will reach out and "probably just take you under their wings." Hearing this conveys great comfort. Her words confirm everything I've learned about the area. If people are half as welcoming as those I met between Sault Ste Marie, Ontario and Thunder Bay, a little bit of heaven awaits me in Nova Scotia.
Before leaving, I left my name and email address with this amazingly helpful woman, whose name I stupidly did not get. She said she'd pass my info on to their "media" person who might be able to help me put together an "itinerary." I departed with a bag of goodies and a joyful heart.
My excitement overflows.