Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia (June 21 - 28, 2013)

June 21st.we move again, on to Baddeck, Nova Scotia.  Baddeck is the jumping off point to the Cabot Trail.  This is a 185 mile drive that encompasses the very northern portion of Nova Scotia which includes the Cape Breton Highlands National Park.  June 22nd we load up the dogs and head out for the day.  Our route will be along the western portion of the Cabot Trail drive.

We only do about 60 miles for an up and back route of maybe 120 miles.  It's one of those drives where you stop repeatedly to enjoy beautiful overlooks, historical placards and other local highlights.

For us this included a stop in Cheticamp at Les Trois Pignons a combination Visitors Center/Museum that includes an extensive hooked rug display.

Now I don't pretend to be a hook rug extraordinaire but this place was mighty impressive.  Hook rugs are the premier craft of the area and a Dr. Elizabeth LeFort, born 1914, became the artisan and ambassador for all things hook rug.  Her rugs have hung in the White House, the Vatican and the House of Parliament.  You really do have to see it to believe it.  Some of her more famous rugs depict life like facial imagines and keep in mind, it's all done with yarn.

Very cool.

We also spend some time walking a short boardwalk around the Cheticamp Harbor.

We drove a little farther and stopped to hike the  4.7 miles on the Skyline Trail.  Now folks, here are some views that must include massive in their description.


We also strolled a boardwalk in an area known as the Bog.  Later in summer it's home to wild orchids. We enjoyed what was there now to see.

(Footnote:  Thus far, we have been a little early for many of the Canadian flowers.  However, the tourist trade doesn't really get in gear until after  July 1st so we are beating the crowds which is a delight). 

The next day we were back on the Trail.  We got an earlier start, did less hiking and ultimately drove the entire trail. This drive included a 2.4 mile hike at something called Middle Head behind the Keltic Lodge. 

If you would like us to drive up your dirt road just say waterfall.  We're easy.  So at another stop off we go about 4 miles up this dirt road to Mary Ann Falls.

It was nice but, sinner know thyself, we're spoiled.  I don't know if I would encourage you to make the bumpy dusty drive.  At the top (northern most portion of the Cabot Trail) is a side road to Meat Cove.  It's about an hour and a half drive round trip to a dead end in some body's driveway.  It's a quirky little route with expansive views of the coastline that may include miles.

This drive I would recommend.  Eventually we had dinner, nothing special, then on home.

I don't think I've adequately credited the "boys" with being such outstanding travelers.  Bo and Laska ride with us, hike with us and look out their windows waiting for our return without complaint.  In a weak moment I could kiss their lips!  I won't, but you get my drift.  Quite frankly I'm a little tired of driving for the time being.  We've covered about 6200 miles since we left Green Valley. Hours and hours of driving the sports car dually complimented, at times, with a 38 foot camper has worn me down a bit so today we're taking the day off.  We'll work on the blog and get busy with our applications to work at Amazon this fall.  Our wants exceed our wallet so we'll again make an effort to generate some income.

So we stayed home the next day and had a productive day at the camper.  Did our blogging  and completed a cumbersome application process to Amazon.  The next day we had our phone interview and we're hired.  If all goes according to plans we'll work  Oct 10 - Dec 23.

We started June 25th with a visit to The Gaelic College located in St Ann's, Nova Scotia.

(Did you know that Nova Scotia means New Scotland ?  I didn't.)  The grounds are pretty, the museum is OK but the highlight is the cultural demonstrations.  First some ladies shared with us the history, construction and wearing of the kilt.  You may be surprised what all that includes.

No, it's not CPR!!

 Next a very pleasant young man came in and gave us a very brief intro to the Gaelic language.

He next walked us through the process of a "milling frolic."(This really means a group of folks pounding a rough wool blanket on a table with their hands to make it soft)  accompanied with a song that we sang as a group.

After that a man introduced us to some Gaelic music while he played the devil out of a fiddle.

Lastly, a women came in and demonstrated the use of a loom for the purpose of making wool blankets. 

The series of demonstrations were most informative and most enjoyable.  I couldn't help but think how nice for these folks to be immersed in the study of there unique culture and take such pleasure sharing it with others. 

June 26th we made our way to the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site.

He had a summer home in Baddeck and died there in 1922.  The telephone was the money maker but he produced that little gem early (1871) in his career.  Much of his life thereafter evolved around flying machines.

The interpretive center was very nicely done.

After our visit with "Al" we moved on to the Highland Village Museum in Iona. 

This is a 43 acre site with a collection of 11 buildings depicting the history of the Scottish migration to, and their evolution in Nova Scotia. This included homes, general store, church, blacksmith shop barns, and we even got to play school.

To some degree, the buildings were manned with folks in period costumes interacting with tourist as if it were back in the day. 

The weather unfortunately was cold and raining.  This, coupled with the fact that the tourist season hadn't really kicked off yet resulted in minimal activity but it was still a fun outing.  My guess is that the site could be bustling with activity during prime season. 

The next day we again put on our "tourista" hat and drove about 75 minutes to Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site.

 This is the site of a huge 1713 French settlement.  It eventually grew to be a massive fortress community with 2 and a half miles of wall surrounding the community.

 It guarded a strategic harbor and was wildly fortified with weaponry. 

So the French prevailed until 1745 when the English took it in battle.  France got it back via treaty and lost it again to the English in 1758.  Those two seemed to always be fighting. So more then a couple hundred years pass and now it's a pile of rubble.  In the late 1950's, the coal mining industry of the modern day community of Louisbourg vanished leaving the area financially destitute.  In the interest of salvaging history and, maybe more importantly to the local citizens, to create jobs for the coal miners, the Canadian government decided to restore the fortress.  Today one forth of the community is restored and it's something like the second largest restoration project in North America.  We're thinking maybe Williamsburg, VA is number one? It's a huge complex and again manned by lots of folks in period dress that share endless historical info.

And not that I know a thing about chickens, but there were some wandering around that just looked so unique.

And again, the WEATHER was COLD and RAINY resulting in minimal activity.  Still it was a very worthwhile outing for us.

While in Baddeck we stayed at the Adventures East Campground.  It's another Passport America Park and like the others, was a great deal.  No complaints.

Our next stop is Glen Margaret, Nova Scotia, close to the popular Peggy's Cove.



  1. Good Blog guys! Its fun following your wanderings. So why didn't you try on the Kilt Duane (or did you and just didn't include the pic?

  2. I just got "caught up" with your blog!!!!! It's like "reading a good book" with pictures!!!!! And, the pictures are amazing!!!!! Oh how I wish we were "tagging along" on your aventures!!! You always make everything so much fun!!! Did I mention we miss you??? Can't wait to see you in a few weeks...now I'm motivated to update our blog...see you soon!!!