Sunday, July 10, 2016

Chapter 23 - Dartmouth to Cape Breton Island, NS

July 9th, Day 43: Today we got off to an early start by leaving our campsite in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia at 7:30 am with trailer in tow. After eight days at this campground we were happy to finally be "On the road again," this time headed for the village of Baddeck on Cape Breton Island, a drive of around four hours. Much of the drive today was on the Trans-Canada Highway which made driving fairly easy even with the trailer in tow. Actually, just being on this highway brought back old memories for me. This highway system was officially opened in 1962. In 1964 I had the experience with an old friend of mine of driving on the newly opened Trans-Canada Highway from British Columbia all the way to Sault Ste. Marie in Northern Ontario. At the time most of the road was only two lanes and parts of it were yet to be paved.  Much has changed since then as today here in Nova Scotia most of the road is four lanes and fairly level and straight despite the hilly terrain. As has been the case through most of our travels here in the Maritime Provinces, the scenery was beautiful.  Our campground, the Baddeck Cabot Trail Campground, is unfortunately lacking in beauty partially because they had cut down most of the evergreen forest to build the campsites but also because the distances between the trailer spaces was much to tight. It also seems like everyone in the park is driving two cars which further detracts from what otherwise should be a wonderful setting to spend the next three nights. Fortunately, most of our time here in Cape Breton Island will not be spent sitting around our trailer.

This afternoon Kathy and I decided to check out our new home by driving into the nearby Village of Baddeck. We had already talked with Anne and John by telephone and we agreed to met them at their "cottage" for cocktails at four so we had a little time to kill. Baddeck is a fairly well known village here on Cape Breton Island, not only because it is
considered the starting and ending point of the Cabot Trail but also because it is the home town of Alexander Graham Bell and his wife Mabel. As you can see in the photograph, Kathy and Cabo had the good fortune to meet up with the Bells who we found sitting on a park bench looking out at the harbor.

John and Anne found a nice place to rent for the next three nights which included a separate bedroom and bathroom and a full kitchen as well as a front porch where this afternoon we sat and enjoyed some wine and cheese. One of the nicest features of their temporary home was the view from their porch which was of the St. Patrick's Channel off in the distance. Tomorrow we all agreed was our day to drive the 185 mile long Cabot Trail. The Cabot Trail is a spectacularly scenic highway which for much of its length follows the coastline of the northern tip of Cape Breton Island. We hope that this drive is one of the highlights of our entire trip up the eastern coastline of North America.

July 10th, Day 44:  The Cabot Trail despite its long distance and the time that it takes to drive was overall one of the most beautiful and diverse drives that I have ever made. The drive has something to offer everyone from rocky coastal views, to steep and winding mountain roads through heavily forested woods, to numerous arts and craft stores, to cute little restaurants, to small fishing villages, to places to pull off to take photos or have picnic lunches, to camp, to hike, to take whaling tours, to play golf, and to spend the night in comfort in a cozy and small hotel.

Kathy was so impressed with the drive and the scenery that she purchased a new hat at the first arts and craft store we passed and despite our some what negative comments, she denied that her new hat kind of made her look like she had grown antlers.

I think that we all agreed that the scenery along the coastline was the highlight of the day and we took so many photographs it was really difficult to choose which ones to include in this blog. Normally I would want to select a photograph where someone other than myself is in the photo, but sometimes I get voted down. Today was again cloudy and cool but somehow this type of weather seemed to add to the beauty of the environment. It also reduced the overall number of tourists driving on the trail which was great.

Each of the numerous fishing villages offered a special treat and probably, because today was Sunday, most if not all of the boats were moored in the harbors rather than out fishing.

Kathy, and all of us for that matter, loved that the local fishermen all wanted to paint their fishing boats a different color. Perhaps after a long night of hard drinking it is much easier to find your boat in the early morning if it is painted a bright blue or yellow or red.

We were very pleased that along the trail we were able to find picnic areas where we could enjoy a lunch or just relax.  It was noted of course, that providing picnic areas was the least that the Canada Park System could do after charging us $20 for driving on the Cabot Trail through the Cape Breton Highlands National Park.  Just kidding, it was worth every penny. You do know of course, that a "penny" does not exist in Canadian money.

Naturally, it would be unimaginable not to find a lighthouse along any coastline in North America and Cape Breton Island is no exception.  Today and yesterday for that matter, we have seen several lighthouses, but this lighthouse in the photo was the first one that we could actually drive up to and touch.

I think that we all agreed in the end that the views of the various coastlines were the highlight of the entire day's drive. This photo of my sister Anne and myself is rather special in that it is one of the few pictures that we have taken that features just the two of us. 

One final photograph that we will add to this blog was taken of Kathy and Cabo and the coastline.  There were so many different views that had we stopped everywhere there was a photo opportunity, we would have still be driving long after the sun went down. In our case, we ended the drive after 6-1/2 hours and despite its long length, it was great fun. 

Tomorrow our plan is to drive into the village of Sydney which we read is another one of Cape Breton Islands' lovely and largest towns. It is also the location where my great, great grandparents met and were married back in 1851.  It is unlikely that we will find them but it does not hurt to look.  


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