Lockeport on Lock Down
My latest surf scope mission was missing the clichés: no bros and bonfires, no tents and beers, no reeling right point breaks. I basically only brought my board and wetsuit to hedge my bets. No swell was forecast and the wind was smack-in-your-face onshore. Still, I pictured myself at least getting in the water. Little did I know what kind of wild action was in store.
I somehow convinced my wife Genny to load our girls in the van and head down the South Shore of Nova Scotia on a backroad adventure. Our plan was to check a few wave-exposed spots along the way, crash the night in Yarmouth at a hotel with a pool, and have a look at the surf potential of the Acadian Shore up toward Mavillette Beach and into the Annapolis Valley. We struck out on surf but hit an even more exciting jackpot (especially if you’re a toddler): unexpected epic playground extravaganza.
Lockeport, Nova Scotia – deep South Shore. Have you been there? With smallish children? If yes, you know exactly what I’m talking about. We were only planning on a fly-by, but as soon as we stumbled on the Seaside Play Park and the girls let out a high pitched “Playground!” we knew it was on. Car seats unbuckled, jackets zipped up, travel mugs hoisted – we were ready to seize the day at what I found out later is ‘one of Nova Scotia’s coolest playgrounds’ according to CBC News. Lucky us.
From a kid’s perspective, this is like chancing on Pipeline and finding it empty. Take your average playground and quadruple its size. Now make everything wood. Add lots of chains and dozens of glossy black tires to climb over and through. Make everything possible to hang from. Spice it up with super fast slides and dicey landings. Throw in a bunch of confined spaces connected by a labyrinth of gangways. Top it off with a giant wooden dory replica and you’ve got the picture. Free play perfection.
When kids roll up to a brand new playground, it’s fun to watch. They basically lose their minds. The girls spent the first two minutes trying every swing, inspecting every slide, finding every nook and cranny – all at warp speed. After the initial flourish, they settled down to a more serious inspection. Four year old Hazel took to climbing the tires. Two year old Rosalie found the monkey bars and latched on. Genny and I found the highest vantage point to take it all in.
The girls found out pretty quick, however, that you must respect Pipe or suffer the consequences. Hazel tried to drop the biggest slide but got burned by her kid sister, who promptly flew down the chute, hit the dirt feet first and slammed gravel in a stolen base slide. Safe!? We dusted her off, dried her tears, and sent her back up for another go. Even Genny – usually cautious – stepped out of her comfort zone with a gravity-defying hang on one of the burly fire poles. She almost didn’t make it down in one piece.
As we were leaving Lockeport, I asked Hazel what her favourite thing about the playground was. She said, “I loved everything!” Now that’s an answer. Nothing better to cure surf skunk than a beaming smile on your kid’s face.
I have a feeling Lockeport’s Seaside Play Park was built in the 1980s. You can almost smell the intoxicating aroma of sweet risk, the funk of raw fun. The girls got scraped up a bit, but they had one of their most memorable playground sessions ever. Like in surfing, playtime tastes better when limits are pushed.