[everyone, a day late publishing Van Life Journal Week #4 but better late than never!
In short, this week we discovered a colorful gem of a town on the Atlantic coast classed a UNESCO World Heritage site – Lunenburg delighted and surprised us in so many ways.
We also faced the eyewall of Hurricane Dorian, which surged over us on Saturday.
Here’s our week, in semi-detail! xx
Day 22 – Island After Island After…
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We spent the night in the parking lot at Peggy’s Cove and woke up to a subtle sunrise on the lighthouse. Desperate for a bathroom I wait until the doors of the shop/gallery open and run inside.
It’s cold but I muster the will to stay outside and take pictures before spending the morning working inside the van.
In the afternoon we drive to Lunenburg, a small yet mighty destination and home to the world-famous Blue Schooner.
The drive down gets more scenic, as we pass several lakes and small islands in the middle with funny names on them on Google maps. Sheep Island. Clam Island.
We cross a rickety bridge and go up onto an island to empty our dirty water tank. We pay a small fee and refill and hit the road again toward Lunenburg.
We arrive and drive down the waterfront, passing the cutest shops and colorful houses.
Lunenburg, as we’d come to find out, is a UNESCO World Heritage town – having the best, well-preserved example of British-era houses and buildings.
Day 23 – Lovely Lunenburg!
Starting the day somewhere new is always exciting. You don’t know the town’s vibe, nor the best places to go.
But we got extremely lucky to stumble upon No. 9 coffee, an eccentric coffee shop with homemade scones and pastries and top-notch specialty drinks.
For lunch, we pick up a rotisserie chicken and microwave two ears of corn.
We decide to split up the afternoon and work at another coffee shop in town, Shop On the Corner.
I overhear one of the owners of the shop mention his sister lives in Tennessee, so later I ask him about it and tell him my sister also lives in Tennessee and that we’ve got Tennessee license plates on our van.
Day 24 – We’re Inside a Postcard
Surprise! We are working at No. 9 again. We just had to go back for their cheddar scones…
Today is laundry day, which takes a good 2 hours out of our workday. But it’s a necessity! Paul goes through 3x more laundry than I do. No surprise there.
That afternoon we go to work in the afternoon on the other side of Lunenburg, where the picturesque “postcard” view on the harbor is.
Today marks one week since we had a shower. And if you’ve been reading the other Van Life Journal entries than you’ll realize how big of a deal showering is to us now.
Lunenburg has a couple gyms and spas, so we ask around to find the best price for a day pass.
Just when we thought we had a solution, we test out another wellness center. For the same price, we could enjoy the gym and a salt-water heated pool, and a shower for 24 hours. Meaning we could shower the next day too!
Feeling refreshed from our shower and brief workout, we go out on the town to an adorable oyster bar with a view on the harbor. The seafood platter was pricey, but we got to try fresh, locally-sourced oysters, lobster, clams, shrimp, scallops, and a crab-leg cluster!
I decide after that meal that I’ll stick to my oysters and crab legs. Raw clams and scallops aren’t as tasty.
Next? Bedtime with half-full yet satisfied bellies!
Day 25 – Becoming Regulars
We’re on a roll at No. 9 coffee house! We’re starting to feel like regulars. The staff recognizes us and our orders, we chat about the van and what we’re doing.
It’s nice to feel a sense of belonging somewhere, even among strangers!
For some reason, both Paul and I can’t remember what we ended up doing Friday afternoon. It was the eve of hurricane Dorian I remember, so we went up on top of the hill in Lunenburg where the campground is to scope out where we could stay for the storm. It wasn’t ideal.
We also strolled around and gawked at all the houses with colorful trims and fancy af architecture.
Day 26 – Brace for Impact!
The hurricane is coming! After devastating the Bahamas and surging the coast of North Carolina, hurricane Dorian decided to make it’s way straight to Atlantic Canada. Precisely, exactly where we were.
The eyewall of the hurricane was supposed to land somewhere between Lunenburg and somewhere else, passing straight over us.
All of the shops and businesses closed in advance to prepare for the storm.
That morning, again desperate for a bathroom, we scope out which shop was open.
And to our delight, No. 9 was open! But they had no power. So we could only order an iced coffee or a pastry. We chose the pastries.
We sat down at the table to work. Paul skips to the bathroom first. Meanwhile, I plug in my Nintendo DS charger to the wall. Suddenly it occurred to me that no power = no electricity = no charging our laptops (or crucial DS) = no internet = no work.
So we sit there while the sky darkens and the wind and rain picks up. Soon the cafe closes because why stay open when you have no power?
We drench ourselves running back to the van, already parked in its safe spot on a hill up the street that was protected with two rows of shops.
We hunker inside the van, dripping wet. We use our towels as floor mats because otherwise all of our stuff would get soaked.
It’s only just passed noon or so and we’re in the van for the day for good. There’s no going back out or driving now!
In a couple of hours, we became the only source of light in the whole town. Both the sky and the streets went dark as everyone lost power. But we had our generator and I was playing away at Zelda on my DS while Paul napped.
Distracted from my game, I didn’t notice how much the back left window was leaking. Paul woke up and saw it immediately.
We use up all our available towels and dish towels to soak up the excess water, but it was just dripping in as if there were no window at all.
Paul came up with the idea to “redirect” the water from soaking into the upholstery by putting electrical tape and guiding it to a bowl. And it worked for the most part!
We had bowls and towels below every window. By 7 pm the hurricane blew right over us and passed.
The rain slowed, but the wind kept its speed. Several fire trucks and ambulances sped by us that day. There was even someone walking their dog – who was wearing a yellow trenchcoat – in the middle of the storm.
Day 27 – A Classic Sunday Drive
Believe it or not, the next day the sky was as blue and clear as could be.
Everyone was out and about in the parks and streets. Most would have no power for the rest of the day.
Paul and I take a leisurely Sunday drive down the coast a bit through small towns and parks. There were many, many felled trees from the storm. Some even block half the highways.
We drive with no end goal, which is nice.
We pull over at one park that seemed popular, right next to a beach. A lady pulls us over to stop us and gives us so many tips on what to see in the area – just out of kindness and curiosity.
We take her advice and explore the park – which was beautiful and serene. A raised boardwalk stretches across a kilometer of grassy marsh and leads to a sandy beach.
There are lots of small islands in the water and colorful houses lining the water’s edge. We stop several times to take pictures, unable to resist the wild and quiet scenery.
We drive back to Lunenburg for our last night. We go to a popular restaurant and settle inside a cozy booth and order hearty seafood dishes to our hearts’ content.
It was our last night in Lunenburg, we decided. Tomorrow we would hit the road (after a morning at No. 9, of course) and head north.
Little did we know at the time we wouldn’t be driving too far. The next town that caught our eyes was only a 13-minute drive away.
We were heading to Mahone Bay.
As we start week #5 I’m realizing the effort it takes to write a journal every day. But seeing as how I can hardly remember last week, it seems all the more necessary to keep up with this!
I’ll aim to publish every Monday. Meaning, the week will now start recounting from Mondays – Sundays instead of Tuesdays – Mondays.
Thanks for reading!! xx