Having bopped around Nova Scotia for a few years before finally settling on the area we now inhabit, this little family has catalogued knowledge of quite a few fun and quirky things to visit in our province. Some of them are places that we have already visited and others are places that we would like to get around to, one of these days. A place that had been visited by all of the family, except Trainman himself, is the Bike & Bean, a now defunct train station which has been converted into a bike shop and café. The rail trail that it sits on is a great walk/ride, as it connects the capital of city of Halifax to pretty much the entire South Coast of the province. A recent, relatively balmy, spring day afforded us a great opportunity to hit the trail and explore the “trainyness” of the café.
The first thing that Trainman noticed, as we arrived at the Bike & Bean was the orange caboose attached to the bike shop end of the building. He literally screeched at the sight.
We paused to check it out and allow the boys to be goofy for a while…as per usual.
Next we disembarked the bikes from the Thrive Mobile and hit the trail for a spell – shout out to the couple who helped pump up the back tire on Trainman’s fancy wooden trike, thereby avoiding complete tragedy.
Trainman did not have daycare today so the Structure Sleuth surprised him with a stroll on the rail trail, headed for the monstrously over-engineered train bridge at Gold River. This was a real treat as Trainman had never yet seen this spot.
Originally built for for the railway in 1905, the Gold River bridge saw it’s last train in 1991 and was converted for foot and cycle traffic in 2001 by the military engineers of 143 Airfield Engineering Flight, Bridgewater.
On our approach to the site we parked on the Old Bridge Road, adjacent to lands belonging to the Gold River Mi’kmaq Reserve. This provided us foot access to the underside of the trestles where the Structure Sleuth was in her jollies…minus the very powerful smell of creosote from the “weatherproofed” timbers.
Sleuth was impressed by the heft of the timbers used to construct the supports and the stunning stonework underpinnings. I mean, that was laid by hand! So precise.
All that Trainman could point out was that “Dis isn’t where da trains were. We need to go up theyah.”
We finally made it back “home” to Massachusetts where the Structure Sleuth grew up. This was an exciting trip for all but none more than Trainman because there are still endless numbers of freight and passenger trains in this part of the eastern corridor.
So, much to the pleasure of the Sleuth, we wheeled in to Union Station, in Worcester, which was the first derelict building to ever catch the imagination of the Sleuth and one of the major catalysts to her studying in the uncelebrated field of Architectural Conservation. Happily, the building has since had a petition and fundraising campaign spur on an absolutely wonderful restoration, even though they skipped replacing many of the original little details that made it shine.
The boys got to play with the graffitied ticket machines and we waited on the upstairs platform for the good old T train.
Notorious in the past for steep fares and slow arrivals, the T (a.k.a. the MTA) seems more user friendly nowadays. But, here’s a fun old song to get you in the mood.
Both Skateboy and Trainman agreed the view would be better from the top level of the train so that’s where we found our perch. All were disappointed to not get a table seat but, having traipsed through Europe twice, the Sleuth told them to “Get used to it, fellas.”
We waited, impatiently, for the departure time to arrive so that Trainman could be on his very first moving train. Needless to say that, when the moment finally arrived, he was bowled over with exuberance.
The sound of the wheels going over the railroad ties was also a great source of elation. Though, the sound was soon drowned out by the blue plastic train whistle that Trainman had with him, much to the chagrin of nearby commuters. Note to self: Americans are not so patient and tolerant of cute 3-year-olds as Canadians are. Continue reading “Riding on the T”
This post, which is the realization of a dream long held by the Trainman, takes place over two separate visits to a beautiful old train bridge which Trainman had glimpsed multiple times from the highway, on our visits to our old hometown in the Annapolis Valley. The “Gaspereaux” Bridge, is the second to occupy this crossing, and was built in 1911. It went out of use sometime in the late 1990’s.
One daycare-free day, in late February, Mama Structure Sleuth packed up the little Trainman and made the road trip to the Gaspereau River so we could hike over the rusty old rails and check out the bridge.
This was also the first time that the Trainman had seen actual rails on a rail trail, as most trails have been sanitized and don’t really look much like a railway anymore. So, of course, we had to stop and touch the rust on the rails, check for loose railroad spikes and pick up chipped pieces of railroad ties. A rip-roaring good time for Mr. Trainy!
The best thing for the Structure Sleuth was that, at the site where we parked, we picked up a farm dog of some random description and he hiked the whole trail with us, only leaving us when we got back to the car. The amusing thing about this is that, back when the Structure Sleuth & the Papa element used to geocache this trail, we always found a farm dog in the same locale that would hike the entire day with us. Only, this was a different dog. Same farm. Same type of personality. Completely different dog. Go figure! Dog #1, who never had a tag on, had been deemed Frodo, so this new dog was called Sam while he walked with us.
There were a few points along the tracks where the weeds had turned into great clumps of vine or tall trees, so we had to leave the trail and walk in the ditch along side. Sam, however, seemed to know all the best routes around, and led us onward til it was safe to return to the tracks. How nice of him!
When we reached the Hortonville side of the bridge and could look down at the spot where the Gaspereau flows into the Bay of Fundy, the lil Trainman, though freezing cold, was just about as happy as a clam!
He wanted me to walk him across the bridge but Mama knew, from trying to cross this bridge 5 years ago while wearing older brother in a baby sling, that the bridge was not built for foot traffic and that some of the spaces between cross beams, –You go ahead and call them cross members and then you and I can have a long, boring discussion about the differences in term usage between European architects and North American ones, okay?– which appear deceptively close to each other in the photo, are totally large enough for a faulty-footed adult to drop right through down into the water. We made an attempt but only made it about 8 feet before we both freaked and turned back. Even our steady friend Sam wouldn’t go across the bridge, turning around even quicker than we had.
We enjoyed the view though and took some pretty pics of low tide and the clay banks, opened our warm thermos of broth and sat for a while. Eventually, bone chilled, we bid Sam farewell and headed to the Just Us Coffee Roasters for a nice fair trade cocoa and a muffin.
Not too shabby for a wintertime visit to the seaside.
Our return visit to finally tackle the opposite side of the bridge was made in the fairer weather of mid-May, with older brother, Skateboy, along for company.
We parked on the Avonport side of the Gaspereau, near a defunct railroad crossing that has been robbed of it’s telltale lights, and beside a derelict farmhouse that has always been attractive to the Structure Sleuth…still yet to be properly explored. Continue reading “Gaspereau Bridge, Two Sides”