To Atlantic City and Atlanta. Roadtrip 2016.

Stellarton/Amherst, Nova Scotia. Brunswick/Portland/Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Atlantic City, New Jersey (Map)

Summer 2016


Living on a remote island tends to limit my long road trips. After the ferry, then crossing Cape Breton, then driving through the Cobequid Pass to leave Nova Scotia; it ends up being questionable if it's even worth it. Just to get to Maine you're looking at 7 hours of driving, and that's only once you land in Nova Scotia.

Lucky for me though, I had an upcoming week off from work. This meant a road trip down even further than Nova Scotia, New Brunswick or Maine.

Other than getting upset that the piss-poor ferry wasn't showing the NHL draft, the boat ride across was uneventful. We were one of the first off and made headway into Nova Scotia smoothly and quickly.

Around the tri-city area of Trenton, New Glasgow and Stellarton; I wanted some coffee and it was time for a washroom break. Instead of stopping at the same New Glasgow Tim Hortons as usual, I drove into Stellarton after discovering their old rink online during the winter.

Stepping out of the car, I had settled on taking exterior pictures until I found the front door unlocked. A fellow was inside doing maintenance work & I let him know that I simply like old arenas. "Well, you stopped at a good one then," was his reply.

Stellarton's Memorial Rink was built in 1946. It was so long ago that the miners in the town had a percentage deducted from their paycheques in order to construct this arena.

Stellarton Memorial Rink

I made sure to stop here because amalgamation of these towns has brought the bland, multiple ice pad warehouse that usually spells the end for these individual old rinks. I was surprised when the rink manager told me that some councillors despise this rink and want it closed, but that it does alright because the new rink has had problems & mens/rec leagues enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the old rink (instead of the sticklers at the new rink that make them pay $5/beer if they want postgame beers). Apparently this rink also excels in the summer during its time as a bingo hall.

After showing me around the modest history room upstairs, I thanked him and went on my way. Having noticed a cafe along the main strip, we seamlessly grabbed a coffee for the road and left Stellarton with a positive opinion of the place.

Amherst Nova Scotia skatepark
My Ontario friends probably wonder why Nova Scotia has parks like this and not Newfoundland.

There would be one last stop in Nova Scotia as I've always wanted to ride the Amherst Skatepark. Amherst is located right on the border with New Brunswick, so I was worried that it might be overrun with kids by the time we arrived, but it wasn't too bad after the 4 hours of driving (it was also pretty hot out).

In addition, the four or five kids at the skatepark were amusing because they asked me if I could do a barspin. After doing a barspin on the spot, they were blown away because I was apparently better than "Josh Allen" since "Josh Allen" can only do flyout barspins out of the bowl, haha.

(I'm also sure this Allen kid hasn't rode the ridiculous amount of years that I've rode, but whatever, lol.)

I'd finish things up by filming a line involving riding over one of those quarterpipes with a hole cut out of it, just as the police showed up and some kid was freaking out trying to get my attention because I was supposed to be wearing a helmet. Thankfully the officer accepted that I wasn't from Nova Scotia & we were on our way.

Uncle Tom's Market

The remainder of the day was uneventful since we were committed to making progress down the Eastern Seaboard and that meant getting past New Brunswick and Maine.

After another 6 hours of driving since Amherst, we made it all the way down to Brunswick Maine (about an hour from the New Hampshire border). I wasn't sure if we would be stuck buying beer at a Sunoco or something, so I was happy about this Uncle Tom's Market that we found. The building was old and the inside felt like a liquor store in a movie, with the bright lights and wood floors.

Bombay Mahal Brunswick Maine

In addition to the foresight of booking a campground on this busy summer weekend, I also calculated that we'd be around Brunswick and printed out a menu for a local Indian place with good reviews.

Making a phone call while on the interstate about 30 minutes from Brunswick, we then rolled into this southern Maine town that felt like a college movie set with a spread out, substantial campus and a downtown lined with brick storefronts bustling with activity. Picking up the Indian after about 5 minutes of waiting, it wasn't long until we were at the KOA campground with a better meal than chips and jerky from Uncle Tom's.

The next morning we were able to get on our way quickly...that is until I noticed some ruins along the roadside and had to bang a u-turn.

Cattle Pound Ruins! This is where stray cattle were held two centuries ago - how exciting!

(I make fun, but I actually find this interesting: the first government of Massachusetts made it law that each community had to build a cattle pound for marauding bovine. And when Maine became a state, it was important enough that they made their own law requiring cattle pounds in every town. 21 of these Maine cattle pounds still exist today in various states of decay.)

Leaving behind the cow ruins, I finally pulled into and drove through Portland - Maine's largest city. I found the city gorgeous and I wanted time to stop and walk around, but unfortunately it wasn't in the schedule.

Instead I was headed towards a breakfast bagel shop marked in my GPS in South Portland; and even though there were so many people and cars that it was hard to find a parking spot, it was all worth it as I scarfed down this tasty salmon and cream cheese bagel while gazing out at Portland's Bug Lighthouse.

The day was transitioning from morning to afternoon and everything was right. It was warm and I was down in Maine with a world of opportunities of where to go. I was free & I wasn't cordoned off by the island.

Corinthian column on the Portland Breakwater Light, aka Bug Light.

As lighthouses are wont to do, Bug Light (aka. the Portland Breakwater Light) marks a point of land that juts out into the harbour here at Portland. There's only one road out to this point and parking in a nearby lot, the park was quickly filling up with people and cars.

It was while walking back from the lighthouse that we first started to see people covered in powdery colours. Then there was a few more people, and then as we got back to the main area there was a full 5k Colour Run going on, with everyone walking and running on the road we drove in on. If I couldn't stop in Portland because of time restraints, being stuck out here wasn't going to be ideal.

I found some teenage volunteers in a booth who told me that the race should only be another couple of hours (most people were walking the 5k & there were a lot of people). Oh jeez, we didn't have two hours to wait out here.

Document photo from Shelloo's cell phone.

So we sat in disbelief, cursing that we didn't see any signs or have any guidance so that maybe I wouldn't have driven our car out to the last parking lot. We walked around the park to kill time, checked out the food trucks and gazed out at the Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse (which apparently we could have walked out to but I didn't know this at the time). Eventually we returned to the car.

There was a park path with the people running, jogging or speed walking the 5k, but then they'd curve around and walk on the roadway back. There were just so many people clogging the road though. The odd volunteer golf cart was slowly moving through the people, but there weren't any vehicles besides the police - and now the police were standing around outside their cars, leaving us to weigh whether they would blow a gasket if we suddenly tried to drive my car amongst the crowd.

Portland Head Lighthouse. The top left of my lens somehow acquired grime here.

Eventually I decided to give it a shot. Pulling the car around in the parking lot, I then eased into the swell of people, often applying the brakes because the idling speed was too fast for the crowd (and I wasn't trying to rush people and bother them with my car). As we passed the police I side-eyed them, but they paid no attention to the extent that I wonder if they thought I was one of the organizers. The park here isn't that big and soon enough we were in the clear, leaving us to chuckle as Colour Runners were squeezing off to the side to let us pass.

Only 15 minutes south, Portland Head Lighthouse marks the southern end of this headland. I appreciated that there wasn't another Colour Run at Portland Head, although the number of people wasn't that far off. A half-dozen tour busses rushed people through, while there had to be 50 other cars in the parking lot. This may be the most iconic lighthouse in America, and on a beautiful summer weekend the number of people who visit was on full display. I wasn't at a remote lighthouse in northern Newfoundland anymore.

In addition to a stunning lighthouse, the park here is lined with forts and even the ruins of an old mansion. This is the Goddard Mansion, built in 1858 and sold to the US Army in 1900 to house their men who were stationed here. The town intentionally burned the ruined interior in the 1980s.

A picture showing what the mansion looked like in better times is available on the Portland Head Light-Fort Williams Park website.

The rest of the afternoon and evening sort of sucked. Travelling from Portland Head Lighthouse to Atlantic City is supposedly 7 hours according to Google Maps, but it was different on the ground.

Going into this trip, one of the things I was most excited about was finally stopping to explore and see Hartford - but as we crawled along on the I-84, the GPS arrival time for Atlantic City continued to tick up like a clock instead of a countdown.

Hartford would come and go without time to stop. So would Bridgeport Connecticut and the outskirts of NYC. Instead of great Northeastern cities, it was a day of speeding up to 30mph, then braking, then speeding up to 15 mph, then braking, then speeding up to 20 mph; over and over for hours. This wore down my patience as we approached Atlantic City, although I appreciated the traffic thinning out in the Garden State. It was still funny as Shelloo was super excited for the amusement park on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, and I only warmed up to it once I got a big ole slice of pizza in me to quell my h'anger.

We found ourselves in Atlantic City when Trump was still just a loudmouth disrupting the Republican primary, so there were thoughts of staying at the Trump Plaza Hotel. I was also open to some other casino to get a high floor and views over Atlantic City, but the cost difference over the Quality Inn didn't seem worth it.

The above view comes from said Quality Inn.

We went for another boardwalk stroll in the morning.

I enjoyed how all of the pesky gulls were Laughing Gulls here, instead of the Herring, Greater black-backed and Ring-billed Gulls of back in Newfoundland.

The last item was to meander over to the lighthouse in Atlantic City, taking a few of the side streets and seeing a bit more of the town. I thought I would like Atlantic City from its description as a rundown seaside town, but I wasn't gaga in love here. Atlantic City was fine and I guess I'm glad I finally saw it.

I would have liked to spice up my visit by checking out their Absecon Lighthouse, but it's one of those lighthouses that has a fence around it and it wouldn't be opening until 10 o'clock (and therefore it doesn't count as "seeing it").

Absecon is the third tallest lighthouse in the United States and it's 228 steps to the top. That wasn't going to happen today though, as we had to get over to the Atlantic City Airport to catch a flight. What?

Continue to Part 2...


Go Back to the Main Page of this Website

To A.C. & ATL (Roadtrip 2016)

Part 1:
Getting There

(North Sydney, NS
to Atlantic City, NJ)

Part 2:
Seeing Turner Field
(Atlanta, GA)

Part 3:
Mostly Delaware
(Cape May, NJ to Point Judith, RI)
Part 4:
First Lights of Rhode Island
(Point Judith, RI to Newport, RI to Scituate, MA)

1 - History - Absecon Lighthouse
2 - Cattle Pounds, Maine Encyclopedia

< Older Update:
An Extravagant Home Across The Bay
(Sunny Cottage, Bay d'Espoir)



All text & pictures on this website created by Belle River Nation are copyright Belle River Nation. Please do not reproduce without the written consent of Belle River Nation. All rights reserved.

I appreciate when people let me know I'm using punctuation wrong, making grammatical errors, using Rickyisms (malapropisms) or words incorrectly. Let me know if you see one and the next 40/poutine/coney dog is on me.