A story circulating on Nature NS, a social media site for bird watchers, tells of the adventure of two avid birders who would have been stranded in Bridgetown Sunday night had a local RCMP constable had not offered assistance.
It is common in the wake of a significant wind storm for dedicated bird watchers to seek out the rarities that the winds may have deposited on our shorelines. Clarence Stevens Jr. and his father set out from Halifax on Sunday to do a tour of birding hot spots in Yarmouth and Digby counties. From a birding perspective, the trip was successful. The first signs of a new adventure were innocent.
Heading toward Digby at about 10 pm, the Stevens were surprised at the volume of traffic headed toward Yarmouth. Stevens reported on Nature NS, “but like the stars of any good B-class science fiction movie we continued blissfully on our way, heading in the very direction that everyone else was fleeing from.”
Feeling great about their birding successes, the pair exited in Digby for a scheduled gas stop. Finding the gas station at the Digby exit closed, the pair thought that, “there'll be another one open in Digby. Wrong. Nothing was open Digby!” Stevens reports that, “Digby was so dark, we actually got lost.”
Finding their way back to Highway 101 and the distance to empty indicator showing they could travel 71 kilometers before running out of gas, the pair set out again. Finding all of the exits from Highway 101 completely dark, the pair headed to Bridgetown. With 17 kilometers left, Stevens said, “the near-distant lights of Bridgetown never looked so beautiful.”
Since the town was mostly in darkness, the pair had trouble navigating but eventually ended up at, “the brightly lighted,” Bridgetown Motor Inn with a parking lot, “jammed full of NSP vehicles.” They report that the helpful clerk directed them to the 24-hour gas station just up the street. While the gas station was brightly lighted, a sign on the door said they were closed due to the power outage.
At midnight with 14 kilometers in the tank, the pair decided it was time to call for roadside assistance. The operator was helpful, assuring them that a tuck would be there shortly. About 40 minutes later, the roadside assistance driver called to say that, “they were unable to find any gas to bring.” Facing the option of camping with their “nonexistent sleeping bags,” they decided to walk to the nearby RCMP detachment in the vain hope that they might be able to buy enough gas to get to an open service station.
The door buzzer was answered by two “burley RCMP officers.” After listening to their tale, the officers said they had no gas but Constable Ross Lloyd offered to drive them to his house where he had a small amount in a gas can. He was unsure how much was there but thought that it would get them to 24-hour gas station in Middleton.
Constable Lloyd refused payment but said to, “just pass on the favour as well as his card as an experiment to see it gets back to him.” The gas was enough to get the pair to Coldbrook, their first open gas station since leaving Yarmouth.
Still “too wired” to sleep, Clarence Stevens posted this report at 3:30 am on Monday. The full and very colourful tale is available on Nature NS.