Just returned from a business trip/holiday/10th anniversary…Our first stop was Nova Scotia (same latitude as Southern France and Portland Oregon, incidentally).
This Canadian Province is one of my favorite places in the world. It was great to spend time there again. The first 3 days we traveled around Cape Breton Island, which is the top North East portion of the province. It joins the mainland by a causeway. Cape Breton Island has several scenic “trails” which highlight various themes such as: the Ceidligh Trail, Bras d’Or Lakes, Fleur de Lis Trail and the Cabot Trail (which we took). We drove counter-clockwise to ensure unimpeded vistas from the road. The Trail took us through forests and mountains (not Rocky Mountains grandeur, but impressive nonetheless) and alongside wild shorelines and peaceful bays. We employed 3 ferries to wend our way around the Island.
These ferries operate by means of underwater cables–no steering necessary!
Our first night found us in Baddeck. It’s known for its proximity to the beautiful Bras d’Or lakes (saltwater lakes, btw). Alexander Graham Bell had a summer home here. He stated: “I have traveled the globe. I have seen the Canadian and American Rockies, the Andes and the Alps and the highlands of Scotland, but for simple beauty, Cape Breton outrivals them all.” High praise indeed! We stayed at the Heritage House with our hosts Dick and Liz Grubb. What a wonderful Bed and Breakfast! The room was lovely and the food!! Liz was able to accommodate Dennis’ gluten sensitivity, providing a tasty frittata and gluten-free muffins, while preparing a wonderful french toast-stuffed with ricotta cheese and a fruit compote. We left there feeling, relaxed and very full! From Baddeck we traveled North up into the Highlands. Moose and Bald Eagle sightings were the goal of the day, and we were somewhat successful!
The landscape is rugged and transcendent. We ventured North till the road ran out and arrived at Meat Cove. Days earlier a torrential storm washed out sections of the road, stranding people at the end of the road. We enjoyed a beautiful meal at the campground/restaurant.
This campground was named in the top 10 campgrounds of Canada, incidentally. I am definitely NOT a camper, but even if I was, I’m not sure if I could easily sleep at this campground. My photos don’t fully demonstrate the height of the cliffs that the tents are perched upon. However, despite this, it is breathtaking for sure.
Since Cape Breton is so closely connected to the ocean, we saw evidence of fishing everywhere: We continued our journey back south–ending in Mabou. After a quick bite at the Red Shoe Pub (famous for the owners–The Rankin Sisters) we headed over to the local Masonic Hall for a variety show. For $10CDN, we experienced 2.5 hours of amazing Cape Breton local talent; featuring dancers, bagpipes, fiddles, gaelic songs, guitars, piano. In a word: AMAZING! Following the concert, we checked into the Clayton Farm B & B, hosted by Isaac Smith (7th generation farmer). What a charming farm, and host! Isaac’s red angus cows are legendary, and his cats are adorable too!
Following a lovely breakfast with Isaac, we crossed back over the causeway and headed west and south towards Halifax. This is a long, winding stretch of road that twists and turns through fishing villages and coastline–that’s it! Not a Starbucks or Tim Hortons in sight! However, there were beautiful vistas including a lovely light house on an island…
We pulled into Halifax late in the day. It’s an old city with a deep water, ice-free harbour. The Citadel sits atop a hill overlooking the water. I didn’t tour it, but I wandered around the perimeter and saw a man guarding the entrance in full highland regalia (kilt and spats). We attended the CSSE conference. Dennis was invited to speak to the group about ergonomics and Backsafe. His presentation was met with rave reviews! Part of the conference included a ceidligh at Pier 21 (Canada’s Ellis Island). It was a fabulous show including many fiddlers, dancers, and other assorted musicians. We browsed along the boardwalk beside the harbour. Georges Island is in plain view from the shore. Over the years it served many purposes including imprisonment of the Acadians (French immigrants–some of whom would move to the New Orleans and become known as Cajuns.)
BTW, this trip provided excellent reading time…it took 12 hours to arrive in Halifax from Santa Barbara. I’m 3/4 through Echo in the Bone.