Vacation in Canada Day 6

On Wednesday, August 9th, the sixth day of our vacation in Canada, we embarked on the Cabot Trail, a 297-kilometer/185-mile loop around Cape Breton Island. Friends Jack and Desiree Foard had recommended driving counter-clockwise for closer views along the road, so we did just that.

MIDDLE HEAD TRAIL

Our first stop was at Middle Head Trail, considered a moderate-level hike. The views made the hike worthwhile. The eastern coastline included bays and cliffs.

vacation in Canada included hikes

Middle Head Trail

Middlehead Trail Canada

Cape Breton Canada Middlehead Trail

Our second stop was at Ingonish for a trail map, antacids, and what Handsome described as a “$20 Egg McMuffin” at the Bean Barn Café. We had run out of Canadian cash. We had to use U.S. currency at par. The smaller villages along the Cabot Trail didn’t have banks, or decent internet, or apparently, cash registers that calculated an exchange rate.

Canada road sign in Gaelic at Cape Breton

Sign in English and Gaelic.

The eastern coastal area of Cape Breton had road signs marked in English and Gaelic. We passed a Gaelic college. The area had been settled by immigrants from Scotland. We then drove through three construction areas and waited for flagmen to wave us through. The northern section of the drive featured uninhabited mountains to the north of the road and forested area south of the

Canada sign in Mikmaw

Sign in Mi’kmaw language.

road. We also found signs in Mi’kmaw, the language of the First Nation.

SKATEBOARDERS

Along the Cabot Trail we pulled over to take photos and met these folks. They were preparing to wheel down the winding road as part of a television show. They wore GoPro helmet mounts and a few professional cameramen were stationed on the road.

Canada by skateboard

THE SKYLINE TRAIL

#Canada150 Skyline TrailAt last, we reached the Skyline Trail on the western coast. Touted in brochures as “Where the mountains truly meet the sea.” The Skyline Trail is a 9 km/5.7 mile loop. Most tourists take the left side of the loop to the boardwalk overlook and then retrace their path back to the parking area. This route is 7.5 km/4.7 miles. To hike the full loop takes a three-hour commitment.

We decided to take the full loop. Our friends Terri and Jim Johnson would have been proud of us. We once braved the long, hot hike through the dunes on Lake Michigan and lived to tell. They, too, had recommended the Skyline Trail.

#Canada150 Skyline Trail ViewsWe should have brought along bottled water. The trail led through forest and marsh. Others had spotted moose earlier in the day. We missed the moose. The remainder of the trail edged a cliff line. At two-thirds of the full loop, we found the boardwalk. It descended from platform to platform along the bare ridgeline with no handrails and steep drop-offs on either side. When I wasn’t watching where I stepped, the coastal views were spectacular.

Fifteen-foot fencing separated moose from newly-planted trees along the path. We met a parks worker who explained that the moose ate the last batch of trees planted, hence the fence. We dutifully closed the gates behind us.

We then drove through yet another road construction area to Cheticamp. The L’eglise St. Pierre Church would have made a lovelier photographic subject, but there was no way to photograph the entire thing without the power lines marring the image.

We then ate lobster at Le Gabriel Restaurant. It looked like a lighthouse. Our waitress Brenda Lee took our order from her wheelchair. Fitted with a tray in front, her motorized chair allowed her to work as efficiently as any other waitress. We ate with the zeal of starving field hands. The plastic bib rescued me from wearing butter.

RED ADIRONDACK CHAIRS

#sharethechair #Canada150

Found the red chairs at the Alexander Graham Bell Museum.

For the remainder of the drive, we traveled through the forest with occasional views of the shore, all the way to Baddeck. After ice cream, we took photos in the red chairs at the Alexander Graham Bell museum. Since we were the only souls in the parking lot after museum hours, we couldn’t beg a stranger to take our photo together. I’ve tried the hand-held selfie photos, but my arms are too short. My past attempts at selfies remind me of Cyrano de Bergerac.

I had been hunting these red Adirondack chairs all along so we could participate in the social media campaign #sharethechair. Perhaps we could get a photo together in the chairs this week. The hunt continued.

Canada by rental car.

Fun rental car!

Tomorrow Handsome would truly regret that I was not added as a driver on the rental car. We were scheduled to drive five hours from Baddeck, Cape Breton, to Annapolis Royal on the far side of Nova Scotia.

Vacation in Canada Day 5

The middle day of our see-all-of-Nova-Scotia Canada vacation we spent on the road. It was Tuesday, August 8. We drove from Dalvay-by-the-Sea on Prince Edward Island to Wood Islands to board the 9:30 a.m. ferry to Nova Scotia. The ferry station had a rudimentary restaurant for sweet rolls, coffee, and snacks. The purple and pink roses outside the station smelled fabulous! It rained most of the 75-minute ferry crossing through the Northumberland Strait. Nonetheless, we took photos.

#Canada150 lighthousesFOODIE STOP

On Nova Scotia, we stopped at Antigonish for lunch at Gabrieau’s Bistro. Our best lunch of the entire vacation!

“Winner of Taste of Nova Scotia ~ Restaurant of the Year for Chef Inspired Fine Dining. Recommended by Where to Eat in Canada ~ Star Rating 14 consecutive years and winners of the Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator Magazine from 2008-2013. Gabrieau’s is the perfect marriage of wine and food!”

#Canada150 lunchI enjoyed an herb-encrusted biscuit and a divine carrot and squash bisque soup. Next, I devoured a seafood croissant filled with bits of lobster, scallops, sweet shrimp, sliced cucumber, and lettuce. How good was the seafood croissant you ask? My eyes rolled back and I moaned.

Handsome laughed. “That good, huh?”

Chewing, I nodded. Fortunately, he didn’t ask for a bite. I probably would have refused to share.

Attention Foodies, mark this bistro marked as a must-see destination. Trip Advisor reviews raved about it. Gabrieau’s Bistro earned my vote for the 2017 Taste of Nova Scotia Award. May they win!

ROADSIGNS IN CANADA

#Canada150We continued on the road in the light rain, through forest and farmland to the only bridge from the main island to Cape Breton Island.  Along the way, we saw warning signs for deer, moose, fire trucks, people, and snowmobiles.

#Canada150 duck crossing sign

#Canada150 moose crossing sign CanadaAt the Canso Causeway to Cape Breton, we waited fifteen minutes to cross. Perhaps the bridge was raised for a boat to clear the lock. We crossed and couldn’t see a boat in either direction from the bridge. We were growing tired of being on the road. At first, I thought my tired eyes were misreading the street signs. Later, I learned that road signs on Cape Breton were written in English and Gaelic, others in English and Mi’kmaq depending on the location on the island. The First Nation or indigenous tribes in this area were called the Mi’kmaq and the Mi’kmaw. Perhaps their language didn’t translate well into English, or there could have been different tribes. I didn’t discover more about them because we were cramming so much into our 10-day visit.

Canada sign in Mikmaw

Sign in Mi’kmaw language.

We checked into Auberge Gisele’s Inn at Baddeck. Our building did not have an elevator, so we lugged our suitcases to the second floor. Note to self: pack lighter! The room was large enough to cartwheel in without striking furniture. I did not, I’m just describing the roominess. The shower was stronger than the WIFI. Both the sauna and the indoor hot tub were closed for repairs.

Perhaps the pool was open. Even though Canadians swim in Florida in the winter, we declined to swim in Canada in the summer. Canadians, apparently, get in the water as soon as it turns liquid. Hypothermia wasn’t on our schedule.

We strolled in a light rain through main street Baddeck. Handsome and I regretted that we had not brought waterproof raingear. Even the packable plastic ponchos, the kind the theme parks sell for ten dollars, would have kept us dry. Alas. Hindsight is 20/20.

I washed two loads of laundry and read half of a book on my iPad. Meanwhile, Handsome hunted down a gas station to fill up our Dodge Challenger for the next day’s 187-mile Cabot Trail tour of Cape Breton.

This was the day Handsome said he regretted that I was not listed as a driver on the rental car. The longest day of driving was yet to come later in the week. I didn’t have the heart to tell him.