Thursday, September 8, 2016

NOVA SCOTIA - Nouvelle Ecosse - New Scotland

Sunday Sept 4
From the beginning our goal has been to reach Nova Scotia. It's a long haul of driving today as we continue down the Gaspé peninsula. The coastal drives are scenic and we make some miles on the freeways inland. Finally we reach the Causeway over to Nova Scotia. We stop at the Visitors Center and learned that there is a LARGE motorcycle event (Wharf Rats Festival) happening in the southern part of the island and the campgrounds are packed this Labor Day. Many have come from nearby Maine and the States.  
We decide to keep driving all the way north to the Cape Breton Highlands. It takes six or seven hours to finally arrive at our campground for the night - a lovely small 20 site place overlooking the Atlantic where we watch the sun sink into the pink sky. 

Monday Sept 5
This morning we drive a few miles up the Cape to the Skyline Trail where we a hike 6.2 miles loop thru balsam fir tres. First the spruce budworm attacked the balsam firs and birch thrived. Then the moose ate off the birches and the balsam revived. Now they have several trial plots where they've planted birch inside fences called Moose Exclosures, seeing if they can get the birches to revive. 
Cape Breton is a high plateau the runs all the way out the point. Collin observes that this is one place where you can see the sun rise and set over the ocean.  Next up is a short informative boardwalk thru a bog (technically we are told it's a sloped fen) where there are pitcher plants in bloom.
We continue across to the east side of the Cape where we stop for me to buy 8 Aspy Bay oysters to eat on the half shell tonight. We cruise on down the gorgeous coast taking advantage of the frequent pullouts - windy and with info placards on the geology, the final and the flora of what we are looking at. The coastal rocks are primarily pink granite which lends a dynamic contrast for the intensely azure sea. Equally gorgeous are each inlet where rivers run to the ocean.
We stop for the night early at 3:30 and head down to the Ocean for twilight. The sand is pink from the granite!
Life is good and so are the hot showers!

Tuesday Sept 6
We continue driving down the east side of Cape Breton in the Cabot Trail that circles the island. The vistas are of rocky headlands with trees capes. Every hamlet has at least a sign for local arts/crafts, a boat service offering bird watching or zodiac drives, and a place selling lobster, crab, mussels and oysters. It really does look like the Scottish Highlands here and and the names are too - McCloeds Bridge, Mackenzie River, Skir Dhu - and the town name plaques have it written in Gaelic as well. I'm reading the second book of the Outland series - Dragonfly in Amber - throughout this trip, spending my evenings with Claire and the Scot Jaimie so I feel a bit like I'm immersed in all things Scottish!
We are headed for the famous Peggy's Cove. I knew it was a lighthouse and cute fishing village but am pleasantly surprised to find the park itself is many miles long and filled with windswept granite rocks and gorgeous vistas of the 
Bay and Atlantic. It gets foggier and misty as we get there and even tho there are hoardes of visitors it is a magical scene.
We continue on southward to the Unesco Heritage town of Lunenberg, filled with wonderful vintage homes! We're in our element here!
We leave Nova Scotia aware that we are now on the return trip home. Another night in New Brunswick and we will head stateside for the remainder of our trip home. As we drive along the Bay of Fundy, we are traveling next to the Chocolate River. The funnel shape of the Bay of Fundy results in the highest tides and the churning of the red clay soil causing the river leading the bay and the end of the bay to be a milk chocolate color!

We head for one more Must Do- the Hopewell Rocks. This interesting feature occurred from the dramatic high tides (35' difference between high and low tide!) and erosion. We arrive just 30 minutes before high tide peaks so are unable to walk to the Flowerpot Rocks. They are nonetheless unusual and lovely.
In the gift shop, I spot the perfect t-shirt for Collin:
If I thought he would wear it, I'd buy it but suffice with showing it to him. Now I'm reminded that my time in Lobster Heaven is short and I start fantasizing about eating another before we go.  I'm banned from cooking one in the van now but manage to cajole Collin into eating out. We stumble upon the local favorite, the Alma Lobster Shop. There I indulge my passion while Collin sups on Seafood Chowder and lots of rolls & butter.

We spend our last night in Canada at Fundy National Park- the first park to have Wi-Fi available!  Hot showers, banking, emails and Facebook!
Thursday Sept 8
It's been one full month of traveling, staying two nights only in the Tetons and Yellowstone, traveling +7500, miles, 166 hours of driving time, averaging 21 miles to the gallon thanks to the blessed Bluetech diesel system on our Mercedes Sprinter we've named Sadie! 

We've seen so much it's hard to put it all into perspective. We've loved the countryside- boreal forests of conifers and birch, wildflowers in full bloom -fireweed, goldenrod, pearly everlasting -along every road, lakes, lakes and Lakes, moose, elk, bear, a black wolf, porcupine, martens, cranes, hawks, eagles and ospreys, plains and mountains, and lovely people speaking French and English with equal ease. We are headed for Bar Harbor Maine today to stay at Acadia National Park. Our intent is to travel from there to visit a friend, Chris, near Portsmouth New Hampshire. From there to Boston where I lived until the Blizzard of '78, over to Buffalo and Niagara Falls, down to Elizabethtown and Glendale Kentucky where my parents were born and raised and now lie interred, over to Kansas City to visit nephew Tony and his house full of beauties, then perhaps a stop in Boulder Colorado where I went to college, then back home. Lots more beauty to see, loads more interesting people to visit!

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