A 26-hour roundtrip by car to Canada's Nova Scotia might not be your idea of a long-weekend plan, but trust me, it's worth it.
The Transcanadian Highway is a bitch.
Not only for its endless straight lines, its mostly unappealing sights, but only for the fact that it crosses the province of New-Brunswick from one end to the other should be enough to make you stay home. I know, I know, I'm NB-hater and will always be one. Something still hasn't woken up over there, and I'm not sure if it ever will.
But then, after a struggling 13-hour drive - if that - you finally reach the haven: Halifax. It feels like the end-of-the-world, mostly because it litterally is.
The Maritimes and its Maritimers have it rough with weather. One day it's a staggering 'feels like 33 celsius' morning, showers in the afternoon, winter-jacket-weather after dinner. But eh, it's Canada.
One thing they have good for sure, is the ocean. And they know it. It's their gem, the apple of their eyes. It would be mine too if I still lived there.
We get there on Friday - it's a scorcher. We meet with my now-long-time friend Joey and his wife at their home in Dartmouth - a suburb of Halifax, often dubbed as Deathmouth or the Darkside. After rolling through Dartmouth and reading the everyday news, you get why. We hop in his truck, direction: Martinique Beach for a surf-check. Joey is not confident. The Quebecers are of course, but Joey isn't. It's flat. Dead flat. We hang at the beach, beers, sunburn, frisbee-throwing, beers and then head home. We party in Halifax as one must - it's Friday after all. You see the usual suspetcs around Argyle Street, Pizza Corner and maky even darker spots. We make it home at the end without too many scratches.
Saturday. Saturday is one hell of a beauty day. 30+ outside, sun's shining, swell is supposed to get in. It does not. We decide to pay a visit to the one and only Dean Petty at his Cow Bay beachfront house. The kind of house that can't leave anyone who somewhat enjoys life indifferent. It's important to note that Dean built the house all by himself with his bare hands for the past few years - transforming the falling-apart-home into one piece of paradise in the middle of Atlantic Canada. The 3 dudes from Quebec get there. The red door, the 1970's station-wagon Volvo, the strips of pick-up trucks parked on the side of Cow Bay road: yup, we're here. Not a bit to my surprise, Dean's patio deck is bumping with people. BBQ, beers and one heck of a view. I meet old friends, new friends. Dean's below, working on his beat-up, but how-dope dirtbike from the 1980's (around that). One could make the obivous assumption that 'it just doesn't get any better than this', until you start watching on the horizon to see sharp blades starting to roll in. It's picking up. Without a word, everyone starts grabbing boards from Dean's quiver, pretty much spreaded all over his front yard in an organized matter. Wetsuits on (not Dean), everyone starts making their way down the muddy path to the ocean. Dean lives in front of Osborne; an A-frame type of break which brings in some great rollers on small swell, but delivers on high seas. Shortboards, longboards, SUP, everyone's in. Surfed until we were surfed out. Which coincided with the the sky's bulb to dissapear behind the hills of Cow Bay. The dudes from Quebec are beat. We leave Dean's with the strict confidence of missing 'one of those nights', but we just can't. Too beat.
Sunday. Sunday is a bust. Remember whayt I said about Maritimes weather? We wake up to a shivering 8 degrees celsius. It was 31 outside less than 12 hours before. The Maritimes. We go for a surf check at Minutes. Nothing. It's pouring. We drive further to The Point. Even flatter. Even the homies at Kannon Beach close shop early - it was probably too depressing. Sunday's a bust. What do you do on a busted day? You party. In true ATL fashion, we somehow end up on party bus going from Deathmouth to Halifax. Linking back up with Joey was the greatest idea we had all day. I stumble out of my daze to realize I'm standing in the basement of Argyle - one of Halifax's finest establishment - surrounded by 16-year-olds, the smell of cheap Tequila Bang Bang and a floor that's as slippery as it is sticky. It's time to go home.
Monday. Monday is the promised day. All week, the forecast was slurring in the hole of our ears, giving birth to the inviting hopes of Spring 2016's best swell. It showed up. But the gale-force winds wanted in too. Disapointing, but eh, we're here. Wake up at 6am from a Red-Bull-Vodka-infused 3-hour sleep. We jump in the trucks and head to The Moose. For those TPB fans out there, you know The Moose. It's cold. As fuck. It's pouring. 7am: the lot is full of surf-checkers, the lineup also. The Moose is our best best: it's somewhat covered. We suit up, jump in the water, pass the break, we're there. Couple pounders on the head, along with the obvious brainfreeze. You think that's it, your brain's exploding and all of that because of your incredible lack of judgment when you decided to jump into 47-degree Atlantic Ocean waters. That thought lasts 15 seconds and then you duckdive once again. Idiot. Couple of smiles, couple of high-fives, couple of gliders, that's all we needed. We get out. Warm clothes on, Thermos-heated coffee. Paths on the back for Joey, most amazing weekend-warrior-style guide you could ask for. We part ways.
We start typing in our Montreal address on the GPS, 1,289km to go.
Like I said, worth it.
Dean Petty at home in Cow Bay.