Tag Archives: halifax

Status Update – Get Outta Here!

Jan 29, 2017

So I was having a conversation with my friend and fellow writer, Laura L. Stapleton, yesterday about Canada. We’re both massive Canada-lovers, and given the choice, we’d both move to Nova Scotia in a heartbeat. The thing is, I’d move to London in a heartbeat too. Or maybe Hampshire, or France or Ireland or Australia. I haven’t been to those last three yet, but SOON! Yeah, Laura and I were saying that there should be mandatory quotas for traveling abroad. Americans gotta get outta here!

And I know, a lot of people have been ranting that they’re ready to move out of the US these days, but I can assure you that I’ve always wanted to move. I remember daydreaming about running away to England when I was a child. I think I must be part gypsy.

The funny thing is, I am also sort of starting to maybe think about buying an actual house instead of just renting. Although I don’t really like mowing or raking or shoveling or gardening or all of those things you have to do when you have a house. But the idea of having a place of my own is kinda appealing.

As long as I can spend about half of my time traveling abroad. Ha! I don’t know if I’ll ever make up my mind to definitely stay in one place or definitely travel. I think the only solution is to buy a house with an in-law apartment and hire my assistant, Julie, to live there. She says she’s totally on board with that plan, btw.

So here are some of my favorite pics of places outside of the US that I’ve been….

My first trip to England was in 2010. This is the Hampshire countryside, aka Jane Austen country! I loved it!

A couple years ago I went to the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas. I wish I’d taken more pics of things that weren’t the resort, because Nassau is fascinating place!

And yes, I’m a total nerd who drove to Halifax, Nova Scotia for a vacation in December! What you can’t tell from this pic is that it was 5 degrees. Farenheit! But beautiful!

London! London is my soul’s home. I would live there if I could. This is me and London, taken from The Eye of London. Magnificent!


Why Writers Should Travel

Dec 11, 2013
A view of Halifax and the harbor from The Citadel

A view of Halifax and the harbor from The Citadel

As you may know, a couple of weekends ago I took a long drive from Philadelphia up to Halifax, Nova Scotia. When people asked me why I was going, I invariably shrugged and said “Because it’s there”. But I have to admit, I had a deeper motivation to making that trek. On the one hand, I wanted to see The Citadel, an early Victorian fort perched atop the central hill in the city of Halifax. On the other, I wanted to change my perspective and see what there was to see.

I believe it’s of paramount importance for writers to get out there and see things. It doesn’t matter what we’re writing, be it historical romance or science fiction or crime dramas or horror. There is just so much to see in the world, and getting up from our writing desk and going for a ramble is the best way to begin to digest it. Continue reading

Epic Road Trip – Part Two: New Brunswick and Nova Scotia

Dec 04, 2013
The lighthouse at Peggy's Cove, NS

The lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove, NS

So there I was, driving north through Maine and loving the sights I was seeing out the window. I didn’t see any moose or bears, but I guess I’m okay with that. (Someday!) After leaving Bangor, things grew more and more remote. I didn’t realize that that part of Maine was so hilly! By the time I made it to the border-crossing into New Brunswick I felt as though I’d reached the top of the world and left civilization behind.

Then I crossed into Canada and BAM! There was civilization again.

You’d think that a place that is so close to Maine would feel kind of like it, but as soon as I stopped to change some money right over the border in Canada I definitely felt like I was in a different place. The tough, gritty feeling that Maine gave me was replaced by a homey, I guess gentler feel than Maine. Continue reading

Epic Road Trip – Part One: Maine

Dec 03, 2013
A little piece of Nova Scotia

A little piece of Nova Scotia

When I told some of my coworkers at the day job that I was going on a quick 5-day vacation to Halifax, Nova Scotia and that I would be driving the whole way up and back, a few of them said I was crazy. Their first question was, “How long of a drive is that?” The second question was, of course, “Why on earth would you want to do that?”

The answer to the first question, as it turns out, is roughly 17 hours. I added a couple by playing “Ooo, I wonder if this is a shortcut” and losing three times—twice in Connecticut and once in New Brunswick. As far as why? Simple: I love long car trips.

The joy of a long car trip for me is that it enables me to see a lot of stuff. I really wish that I could take pictures with my eyes alone to share what exactly I saw with everyone. There are so many interesting things in this country and in Canada! Just looking at the landscape change subtly from a Mid-Atlantic temperate environment to what I can only describe in my uneducated way as not quite the Arctic tundra but getting kind of close was really interesting. I more or less went from rolling, fertile hills and deciduous trees to rocks and pine trees as far as the eye can see.

But I’ll get to all that later. Today, let’s talk about Maine.

I love Maine! I really do. I’ve been there once before for the space of, like, a day and a half. There’s something about the atmosphere of Maine, something about its feel. The only way I can think to describe it is that if you’re going to live in Maine you have to be a little tough and a lot independent. It has that vibe to it.

Maine on the drive back - not quite so nice

Maine on the drive back – not quite so nice

I was reading recently that as recently as the early 20th century, there were still parts of the backwoods of Maine that were more or less unexplored. That’s pretty cool when you think about it! Here we were as a nation, looking west and exploring out to the Rockies and the Pacific, but way back here on the east coast a big chunk of land was relatively unknown.

You can definitely feel that driving through the middle of Maine today. I think I drove through or around the three major cities of Maine—Portland, Augusta, and Bangor—on my way to Canada. They really aren’t that big, at least not to someone from Philadelphia. At the same time, each of those cities has their own unique feeling of age and importance. As I looked out my window at Bangor I had a strong Victorian feel about it. It’s as if the history is still there in the hills and trees. The vibe of the city was definitely old, but in the good way!

As soon as you drove through each of these cities, you were back in the middle of nowhere again. But not the boring, monotonous middle of nowhere (no offense, but that was New Brunswick). Maine’s middle of nowhere felt alive. The forests had a lot of energy and life in them. No, I don’t mean esoteric “energy”, although you could argue that too. I’m talking about the fact that I fully expected to see a moose or a bear come charging out of the trees and into the road at any second.

I’m kind of disappointed that I didn’t see any moose, actually. There are signs warning people about moose crossing all along the road. I hope I’ll see my moose someday. But I digress.

Maine is cool because even driving through it at 65 miles an hour you have a sense that people there are willing to go the extra mile. Literally. I followed a FedEx van from Bangor all the way out to I don’t even know where we were, but it took about an hour to get there. One little FedEx van. And he didn’t even stop to deliver anything else along the way. He just zipped all the way out to that one place to deliver the package. Nice!

A view of Halifax from inside the Citadel (a Victorian fort that is pretty amazing)

A view of Halifax from inside the Citadel (a Victorian fort that is pretty amazing)

Okay, I’ll tell you a little something else that is jumping ahead of my story of vacation a little. I think that next time I do something like this I won’t go all the way up into Canada, I’ll just zip out to Bar Harbor. That’s where I went last time I was in Maine, and even though that was just for one night, I kind of loved it. A lot. And I had the most amazing blueberry ice cream I’ve ever tasted.

So that’s my story of Maine. Tomorrow I’ll continue with my take on New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Was Halifax worth the two-day drive?

What My DNA Tells Me

Sep 27, 2013
High Street, Winchester. Home of the best pasty EVER!

High Street, Winchester. Home of the best pasty EVER!

Halifax, Nova Scotia. Yeah! That’s where I want to go. It’s got everything I’m looking for. It’s in Canada (and I love Canada – Tim Horton’s and Swiss Chalet!), it’s got something like 900 miles of rocky beach coastline, it’s much more affordable than where I live now, and the weather is warmer than you would think it would be that far north because it’s an island right in the Gulf Stream. (I’m assuming you’d think it was mind-numbingly, snot-freezingly cold, but it’s just cold, which is okay with me). Yep, I’m going to move to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Of course, about this time last year I was all set to pack my bags and move to Winchester, UK. I was there in August of 2010 and felt like I’d gone home. It was a great place. Jane Austen lived there, so I should too! Of course, I’ve also seriously considered moving to Australia. I’ve got a lot of friends down there and the idea of having an entirely different star pattern overhead and summer in December intrigues me. Hmm… Maybe I’ll move to Australia after all.

Okay, Merry, what’s all this talk about moving somewhere? Shouldn’t you grow where you’re planted?

In fact, I’ve had fantasies about moving—or running away—since I was a kid. There’s always been an enormous appeal to me in the idea of changing scenery. I get an enormous amount of satisfaction out of new climates and geography, out of new people and new ways around me. To me, there’s something invigorating about exploring the globe, getting a feel for BEYOND. Wanderlust? Oh yeah! Continue reading