Originally we’d been thinking about flying to Nova Scotia in August, but then noted that there wasn’t a single car available for rent in the entire province that month. (This is due to the pandemic-caused chip shortage.) Then, we considering going there in early September, but we ran into the issue that our catsitter had a similar thought, and was flying to New Brunswick. Scary Covid projections for Fall were also starting to fly about then as well, and we got a little weirded out about being reliant on airlines to get us back home.
So switched it all up and decided to just drive to Killarney Mountain Lodge for four nights.
A lot of people tend to think of this as fancy place. It’s not, really. It’s just much fancier than the other main accommodations option in Killarney (population 500): camping in the park.
We knew our room wasn’t going to be anything outstanding. The booking description of it—“heritage section,” “rustic,” and “historically quaint”—was a true thesaurus exercise in how to say these rooms are old! nicely. But the room was fine. No TV, no in-room wifi, and I had to ask for a hair dryer, but fine.
We got the breakfast and dinner meal plan. Because of Covid capacity restrictions, we still had to make reservations for each meal (so they’d know they wouldn’t have too many guests all trying to eat at the same time). We tended to go for earlier dinners, both because it was less busy then, and because we often didn’t eat that much for lunch.
Food-wise, no complaints about breakfast, which had good variety, and everything we ordered was well prepared. Dinner was a little bit more uneven, and it was just weird eating from the same menu each night. We had hoped to upgrade a meal or two to the Lodge’s Ranch House, which offered items like charcuterie, rack of lamb, and duck breast, but it had sadly closed at the end of August. Ah, the trials!
But the upside of the multiple opportunities to try the same menu was figuring out the strengths, and these were really quite good: the scallops appetizer with sweet potato, the caprese salad, the rigatoni with ragu and sausage, and the chicken supreme. They also had a pretty extensive wine list: Jean was very fond of a Southern France red available by the glass, and one night we got a bottle of Oregon Pinot Noir.
And most happily—since the point is it to get out and enjoy the beauty of the park—we had a good week of weather overall. The Tuesday was rainy—very rainy, at certain points—but with enough breaks to still get a couple of walks in. The other days were all lovely.
The shorter, “easy” walks were all still somewhat challenging, as the landscape of Killarney inevitably means dealing with some climbing up and clambering over rocky portions. Quite beautiful landscape, though, with plenty of views of the water. And almost no bugs this time of year.
The longest trail we did was “The Crack”, at 9 km, and we were both kind of nervous about it! Not about the length, per se, but about the “rock scrabble” part of it. Most of the trail is really easy, and frankly kind of dull—a wide, flat path through the forest, not much by way of views. But then you get to the famous section…
… which is a bit challenging. But we did both make it up there…
And got the views…
Otherwise, on this trip, there wasn’t a lot to do but relax and read. We did walk the town, but there isn’t much of it, and if you forget to pack certain things, no guarantee you’ll be to buy them here. We had “pre-downloaded” few shows, so we didn’t go TV-less, and the cell signal was generally pretty good (plus wifi in the common areas).
Covid-wise, this felt like a pretty safe vacation, with all the outdoor activity and our room being accessible from the outdoors. I was a little concerned about all the indoor dining, but they actually did have a patio option, and the weather was nice enough that we ate there for three out of four dinners. One indoor breakfast felt unusually crowded, so the next day we tried eating takeout breakfast outdoors—but didn’t particularly care for it. So back inside for that, and only that meal that was so crowded, anyway. We’ve felt fine (and passed all rapid tests) since getting home.
This is the book report:
- Jane Harper—Force of Nature, the audiobook we listened to on the drive there and back. This is about a group of five women who go off on a corporate hiking and camping trip—but only four come back. Quite good, and quite the thing to read before a hiking-focused vacation. (Never take the kangaroo path!)
- Linden MacIntyre—The Bishop’s Man. Cheery, huh? But at least now it’s finished. (Actually, quite well written.)
- Emily Nussbaum—I Like to Watch. Really good set of essays from The New Yorker‘s TV critic. She had me at “How Buffy the Vampire Slayer turned me into a TV critic”.