Cape Breton NS: September 21 – 25, 2019
Nova Scotia’s Island – Cape Breton – has a population of 132k. The 10,311 km2 island accounts for 19% of Nova Scotia’s total area. Although the island is physically separated from the Nova Scotia peninsula by the Strait of Canso, it is connected by a 1,385m long rock-filled causeway. The only way in and out by vehicle. The island is surrounded by the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, the Northumberland Strait, the Atlantic Ocean and the Cabot Strait. One of the world’s larger salt water lakes and UNESCO designated Biosphere Reserve, Bras d’Or (“Arm of Gold”), fills the island’s centre.
Cape Breton is a beautiful island and ranked as the #1 island to visit in continental North America by Travel + Leisure. And we can see why! There are many experiences to be had here and we wished we had more time to leisurely explore some of the trails and towns.
We stayed one night in a rustic cabin in an area called Troy. No restaurants were nearby so we picked up some comfort food (chicken pot pies and salad for dinner, quiche for breakfast) and enjoyed the quiet, stillness and beauty. It was a clear sky but chilly mountain night, so we bundled up in blankets on the deck and stared up at the incredible star filled sky for hours. The Milky Way was huge! Us city folk miss those starry, starry nights.
That morning we started up the Cabot Trail, often called North America’s most scenic drive. It was an incredible day trip (6 – 8 hour drive) that takes you along the raw, rugged coastline and up, up through the Cape Breton Highlands.
We were still a week or two ahead of the peak fall colours but the scenery did not disappoint. It was breathtaking at every corner. By our last day, the leaves were bright yellow and orange and the reds were ready to burst out in all their glory. It was incredible.
After the Cabot Trail, we headed to Baddeck, a quaint village in the heart of Cape Breton Island; considered to be the beginning and end of the Cabot Trail. We walked the village, shopped the shops, and dined on our last fresh lobster.
In the morning we visited the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site. There are many exhibits and demonstrations celebrating A.G. Bell’s life. What didn’t that man invent? Bell loved the beauty of Baddeck and had his summer home here. Brilliant man.
Sights from Baddeck to Larry’s River
We crossed back onto mainland Nova Scotia the next morning and took another coastal drive (on some of the worst roads ever) down to a southern point called Larry’s River. It was a lovely lodge on the water that also featured a small restaurant.
We had a fantastic meal and visited with a couple from Switzerland, that had traveled BC and Alberta in a motorhome before flying here. Interestingly, most of the guests were from Europe.
The three nights in rustic locations were all unique and memorable but it was time to head back to Halifax for a day off before our flight home. We had a celebrity on our flight to Montreal. David Suzuki was on his way to join Greta Thunberg for the Climate Strike on Friday.
We loved our trip to the Maritimes and would return here again to explore with more time and now more knowledge. Newfoundland would be included on that trip as well. Who wants to see an Iceberg?! We already have one volunteer – Barb W., a fellow traveler we met on the Danube River Cruise.
Joe was awesome as the man at the wheel and took us through nearly 3000 kilometres of some of Canada’s finest scenery. Also some rough roads and construction; typical summer stuff. It became clear that the raccoon and porcupine are not road wise as the highways were littered with their roadkill. We were lucky to be a few days behind Hurricane Dorian but sure saw where he had been. Our weather was perfect and the sun followed us wherever we went; except for in this video lol.
Alexa the GPS car guide became our faithful and necessary companion and stuck with us in the beginning while we learned the GPS ropes. We thought she was going to throw her antennas up in revolt after several recalibrated routes but she had faith and only once let us down. Back in the French area of Moncton, she could not find our hotel address so we entered our own English translation of the street and ended up here. Not her fault though!
We are back in Chilliwack, loving the crisp, fall weather. We have discovered the Chilliwack River is a hot spot for fishermen and every day on our walk, we see hundreds of them on the shores, in the water or on the beaches. It’s hard not to stop and watch! I did capture one fellow reeling one in; I shortened the video as much as I could.
Well, this concludes another Thompson road trip, the last of the year. We were amazed when we realized since we left Kelowna Oct 31, we have logged another six months of travel. Sure adds up fast! Thanks for following along with us, we hope you enjoyed our stories, food, photos and the lessons we have learned along the way. Our brains and hearts are full again.
Paula and Joe