Saturday, May 20, 2006

Glooscap PKT Part 1

What's a PKT? It refers to product knowledge tour, but we in the tourism business tend to say fam (familiarization) tour, which is precisely where I've been this past week. The Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage has divided the province into ten scenic travelways based on regional characteristics, and I've just completed a hectic trek across the Glooscap Trail.

Fam tours are not paid vacations. They serve to educate and psych up the frontline staff whose responsibility is to sell the province to everyone who enters our Visitor Information Centres (VICs). As exhausting as my trip was, I'm very enthused about my native province. One thing that must be said about Nova Scotia: it's beautiful. But gorgeous landscapes can be found in any country; even the most war-torn areas have an unspoken aesthetic that bloodshed and ill will can't destroy, so scenic beauty doesn't make Nova Scotia special. There are many unique communities and people, all tied together by a sense of hospitality for which Atlantic Canada is renowned, and it's these same people that make Nova Scotia what it is. I may be paid to say this to tourists, but I'm not paid to spend my time writing about it here, so understand that my gushing results from an inherent sense of pride freshly rejuvenated.

Departure: 15 May 2006 (1:00 P.M.)
Having volunteered to drive, my trip started at Enterprise. I greeted the first available person in the office, explaining that I was there for the Nova Scotia Tourism rental and provided necessary ID and passwords. The agent who collected my info asked a series of questions I was unsure of, specifically about who else might be driving. I hadn't seen an itinerary or a list of participants, which I explained to the lady. She completed the slip as if I would be the only one permitted to drive, and then she led me outside to inspect the vehicle. She walked around the car, noting that it looked fine cosmetically, which I agreed with. It was a new(ish) golden beige Uplander. I packed my luggage into the back and took a few moments to poke at the features before proceeding to the VIC to fetch Hannah and Mykal. Once briefed, we hit the road.

The sun shone brightly and warmly, and it was a rather hot day for mid-May, which was encouraging. We passed the time by sharing an M&M cookie and cracking jokes at the expense of Nova Scotia's mullet population. We had to stop in Digby to pick up Sandy and Donna, at which point the VIC manager informed us that an additional two people would accompany us to Halifax. One thing that must be said about the Digby centre: they have bitchin' clean washrooms. I was a little surprised at how small the VIC is though, considering the Princess of Acadia docks less than a kilometre away.

From there we proceeded to Deep Brook to get the mild-mannered Ginny, and then we stopped at the old military base to get Isabel. (Those of you familiar with my former escapades might remember a picture of me hanging from one of the planes at the base. But that's not a story for today.)

By the time we reached Coldbrook, the girls were ready for a washroom break, so we stopped at the Tim Horton's to find it under construction. The women declined the opportunity to make a pit stop down the road, suggesting we proceed to the Irving Big Stop (a.k.a. trucker's oasis) in New Minas. We missed the exit because I thought they were actually going to notify me when we approached it, but the chatty gals were conspicuously silent when the time came. So we stopped in Windsor.

At this point we played musical chairs and Sandy rode shotgun. I had a pretty cool chat with her about my writing goals, as she's also written a book and is one of Bear River's aspiring painters. I say aspiring, but I think she's already made quite the name for herself. She's also a very spiritual person, so it was a great comfort for me to have her on the trip. I guess I was quite involved in that chat, because I missed an important lane change in Halifax and nearly collided with another vehicle. After that wake-up call, we made it safely to the Future Inn where we checked in and grabbed dinner. I highly recommend the linguine, by the way.

Orientation was at 7:00 P.M. and went as could be expected. They handed out the tour schedules as well as walkie talkies, and we were dismissed for the night. Since we were right in Bayer's Lake, the girls wanted to go shopping, so I drove them to Value Village and crossed the street to Future Shop. Fortunately, I didn't buy anything, but it was tempting.

That night I barely slept at all (maybe 2-3 hours max), because my back was in tremendous pain from an overzealous gym workout the night before. I took some Advil the next morning, hoping it would relax my muscles and make the trip a little more bearable. Fortunately, Cynthia from Pictou was another driver and in our group, so she took the reigns to start day 2 while I used the opportunity to sightsee along the way.

Note: I've been shoddy about updating this blog, and it has crossed my mind to shut it down, but I think I will keep it open for the sake of logging adventures like these. I promise to update it tomorrow with a description of 16 May's activities. Adieu!


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