Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Cape Breton Part III

Onwards to new places

I'm starting to think I'll be posting about this trip until Christmas (which, knitters is less than 4 months away). Where were we? Oh yes, the end college. After picking up a few things in the College Gift Shop, we bid goodbye to St Ann's and made our way to Lake Ainslie where we rented a cottage for a couple of nights. We were going to take in the South West Margaree Dance, but after lying down for a short nap and waking up 12 hours later, we decided that we really needed to catch up on the sleep instead!
This is what the place looked like...
But, this is what we looked out on...
Not bad, eh!
On Saturday, we went for a little visit to Dunvegan where my buddy Jac and his lovely wife Laurie are camping for (wait for it) 7 weeks. We had a wonderful lunch during which I sighed and smiled a lot. This is living. Here is the view from the camper. I can see why they stay. After lunch, Laurie took Bruce and I on a hike down to the beach to enjoy the surf and the turf. At first the water was seriously cold on my sand-baked feet, but I got used to it. We had a good bob in the ocean and fell asleep in the sun on the beech. And for our efforts, got sun burnt. The sun knows when you fall asleep and then he gets out a huge magnifying glass and just smokes you. We are still peeling 3 weeks later. :-)

That night after a nice meal at the Red Shoe, we went to the fabled West Mabou Dance and it was everything I had come to expect. No pictures though. Bruce did not sit down the entire night. My knees can only take one set of dances at a time, but not Bruce! He could literally dance all night! The hall was filled with people--tourists at the back and a mob of locals at the front--and Sandy MacIntyre and his band cranked out jigs and reels for 4 hours without much of a break! Thank God the air outside was cool because that hoppin' hall was HOT.

The next day (after sleeping in a bit), we started on the Cabot Trail. Now, I've always wanted to do this part of the trip, and despite being in Cape Breton at least once before, I had not achieved this goal. Well, if the Fates had kept me from it before, I was certainly not disappointed. It took us all day to wind along the roads and through the Cape Breton Highland National Park and we were tired at the end of it, but it was worth it.

We started on the West side of the island at the Margarees (all of them, North, South, East, West, SSW, SSE, EWW, I don't know how emergency crews find these places...oh wait, they know every body), following the road
up to Cheticamp where we had scallops for lunch and bought a pile of music near Pleasant Bay. Now the trail is a challenging drive full of twists and turns and steep inclines. Not for the faint of heart. I'm seriously indebted to Bruce for doing this leg of the driving. There were moments when I had a good grip on my door rest and I may not have completely appreciated his fervent wish that the brakes stayed in fine working order.

There is something you should know about this stretch of road, people. If you are driving an automatic transmission car, you are in for a beautiful, windy, panoramic drive . If you are driving a standard transmission car, you are in for a beautiful, windy, panoramic drive with adventure built in. Because the way is steep, with hairpin turns and lots of switchbacks, you really have to know what you're getting into beforehand and be ready to put the hammer down and give 'er on the way up. Those who insist on taking their campers through the park without a full knowledge of this little tidbit need to get their heads examined! Not only are these vehicles large and usually have manual transmission, they catch the wind and are rather difficult to see around, especially when one has not put said hammer down and all the power drains out of the camper on a hairpin turn in the middle of a long upward stretch where there is no hope of a pull off for miles. This is a crappy place to COME TO A COMPLETE FREAKING STOP forcing those behind you to PULL OUT BLINDLY on a curve where anyone coming downhill is just trying to gear down to stop their brakes from catching fire! You know who you are.

Here is my world famous Cape Breton fiddler.

And likewise, the drummer...(seriously folks, when we were in Pictou, I saw a woman wearing the exact same outfit. She has some excellent style!)
And when we saw the sign that read "Alternate Scenic Route" we looked at one another and decided then and there to take the road less traveled. And this is what we saw:

We saw a bald eagle hunting here. This is Neil's Harbour, at the edge of the world.

After an exhausting day (the trail took 7 hours to drive with stops), we ended up in Sydney, home of the giant fiddle. It is easy to find Syndey, however, once you are there, it is difficult to find your way out or around or through because of a rabbit warren of one way streets, a preponderance of roads without signs, a total lack of grid system for the roads because they follow the lay of the river, and the fact that the electricity goes out occasionally because some shmo is trying to steal copper from the lines! I am not kidding you. Finding your way out of Syndney without the help of road signs or LIGHTS is tricky indeed.
And we stayed at the Lingan Bay B&B. A nice place. Interesting view:

The Quaint Church next door

The Bay

The massive coal-fired power plant 2 blocks away (complete with 7 wind turbines). Can you say Pink Floyd?
We went to Louisbourg and after a full day of 1750s adventuring we went for my lobster dinner at the world famous Fortress View Restaurant...from which you could NOT see the fortress. Maybe in 1955, you could see the fortress from there, perhaps.

We saw the Hector in Pictou. This is a replica of the ship that brought the first settlers from Scotland to the area. After we were done reading half of the extremely detailed displays in the interpretive centre, I felt like I had taken the 12 week journey in the bowels of that boat. Still, it is a municiple project which I think is very ambitious and deserves the price of admission.

We also stopped at Grohmann Knives, one of Canada's knife manufacturers. Everything here is made in Nova Scotia.

We went to see a mill that was without at miller for the past year and therefore was not running. And at the same stop were told that the steam-driven saw mill had been closed due to public safety issues and they could no longer provide us with directions to the beautiful water fall in the area because some idiot had decided to climb to the top and jump (to his death) . Too bad Evil Knievel had to do it in front of his son. Three strikes for us and we moved on to Halifax.Where I got to meet some of Bruce's friends (and now I'll say they are mine too), Diane, Ian and Nolan. Sadly, as I had my tourist hat on, I neglected to take pictures of Diane and Ian, but did get a good one of Nolan.

And we enjoyed our sightseeing in Peggy's Cove (which was 10 minutes away from a bright, sunny day...Maritime Fog) and the Citadel.

And for those knitters amongst you...there was yarn. We stopped in Baddeck at Baadeck Yarns where Patricia made me feel most at home and Bruce had a wee snooze in an arm chair while I browsed. This is what I came home with...
yummy, scrumptious goodness. These colours, I was told, are done up just for shops in Cape Breton. I'm thinking there will be two lace shawls and a dandy pair of socks out of this haul.

Near Margree Harbour, I saw a sign that said, "Will ewe stop?" And we did. My only regret about this shop is that I did not buy more. At $4.99 a skein, I was a fool to only pick up these...

In Pictou, we went into a gift shop to pick up some pressies for the family and Bruce pointed out that there were felted hats like I make in the back corner. And there was some wool back there too. Is there any wonder why I love this man like I do? So I bought a few skeins of undyed wool for trying my hand at home dyes.
And on the way home, we made a side trip to Briggs and Little Woolen Mills where I was completely overcome by yarn fumes when we discovered that we had arrived 5 minutes before they closed! Rest assured, I can work quickly when under pressure.

Here is a picture of the complete haul. I almost feel ashamed of it all. The decadence. The over abundance.

And when I came home....what should be waiting for me, but my Bee Fields shawl kit designed by Anne Hansen of Knitspot fame and wool dyed and spun by Wooly Wonka's fibres. Can it get any better?

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