Singer-songwriter Jonathan Edwards can’t get enough of Nova Scotia – which he likens to “Maine on steroids.” He said it’s not just the destination, but also the journey there that he enjoys so much. The 73-year-old, whose 1971 hit “Sunshine (Go Away Today)” still gets a fair amount of radio airplay and is frequently covered by other artists, performs 50-60 concerts a year – including many in New England. He will appear at The Center for the Arts in Natick on Sept. 14 and at Breakaway in Danvers on Sept. 19. Born in Aitkin, Minn., he moved with his parents when he was 6 to Alexandria, Va., where he was raised. He and his wife, Sandy – and their rescue dog, Holly – split their time between homes in Portland, Maine, and Naples, Fla. We caught up with Edwards to talk about all things travel.
Favorite vacation destination? Nova Scotia has always held a lovely, gentle place in my heart. It’s a nice drive up there from the northeast, but I really like to drive my car onto the fast ferry out of Portland, Maine, and arrive in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, in time to have a nice dinner and spend the night in one of the great B&Bs. Nova Scotia is a little like Maine on steroids — if you like seascape scenery and hard-working, authentic farms and harbors, and a vibrant seafaring culture steeped in tradition and history. The drive up the southeastern coast is spectacular in any weather, but don’t be in a hurry. Take some time to stop and talk to the locals. They’re amused at first by the questions visitors ask, but if you stay with it and demonstrate a genuine interest and a need to know, they’ll spend all day taking you into their lives and confidences. Wonderful, warm, and welcoming folks.
Favorite food or drink while vacationing? Of course the local cuisine is a given. I always try whatever delicacies the locale is known for: key lime and snapper in Key West; lobster rolls and craft beer in Maine; cream pie and Legal Seafood in Boston. The many local, esoteric varieties of rum are starting to gain my attention lately and are certainly worth sampling.
Where would you like to travel to but haven’t? I’ve always been fascinated by New Zealand — and also, Papua New Guinea — but have never had the opportunity to visit. Both of them are exciting and yet tranquil destinations that feature bustling cities as well as an indigenous population side by side . . . and all of it works and goes into the mix. I love to scuba dive and those are some of the best reefs on the planet, so I hear. Oh, I also love sheep.
One item you can’t leave home without when traveling? If I don’t have my guitar with me at all times, I start to get a little itchy. Not really. I just feel like a part of me is missing if I can’t spend those inevitable waiting hours learning something new or practicing something old. And, along with my guitar, I always have my little leather bag full of harmonicas in case anyone needs a pretty good harp player for something.
Aisle or window? By the time I make it to the plane and find my seat, I’m grateful to just sit down. For short hops, I love to look out the window and try to figure out where we are. But for long flights, the aisle is way better for “moving about the cabin,” as they used to say.
Favorite childhood travel memory? When I was 7 or so, mom and dad and I drove from our home in northern Virginia to California. It must’ve been late autumn and the Grand Canyon was one of our stops. The rules and regulations and safety concerns were much more lax 65 years ago. Back then you could practically drive right up to the lip of the canyon. I jumped out of the car and ran to the edge for a look. Mom was screaming for me to be careful as she ran after me, hit a patch of ice, and helplessly slid on her butt, down a little slope, all the way to the very lip of the Grand Canyon. I had never seen anyone’s eyes get that big before.
Guilty pleasure when traveling? I’m usually by myself and my insomnia is worse on the road, so at 2 or 3 in the morning, I’ll watch an entire movie, and wait for my 7 a.m. wakeup call. I’m glad to say I used to explore the entire property in some of those amazing old hotels in [New York City]. I would go down into the floors below where the elevator reached and snoop around — and then [go] back up to the roof to watch the stars shoot over the city. Lucky I wasn’t arrested. . . . I don’t do that anymore.
Best travel tip? Don’t be late. Get up and go! Save your leisure time for the destination. Oh yeah, and travel light, freeze at night. If you can’t carry it, don’t bring it.