Saturday, April 26, 2014

Memorable Places

I have been lucky in my life in that I’ve had the opportunity to see and experience so many wonderful places and so much of the beauty that this planet has to offer…So I decided to compile a list of those places to share with the world and to bring me back to the times I spent in those places. Many of them are located around my hometown. Others are located in the city I lived in for over ten years. Some are located in far-flung locations far away from my home. Some of these places encompass a very small area and are a simply places where I like to watch the sunset or gaze upon the ocean. Many of them are not really places at all; they are favorite stretches of highways, coastal drives or bus routes. Below are my some of my favorites but since it is such a long list, I will post them in a multi-part series:


The Point – This is one of my all-time favorite places on the entire planet and I only have to drive for two hours to get there. Located in the heart of Ingonish in the Cape Breton Highlands, The Point is more than just a fishing wharf. It’s a meeting place, a central location in the town…and it’s where one can witness some of the best sunsets and moon rises around. Bonus: Majestic Cape Smokey Mountain looms in the background along with a spectacular vista consisting of mountains surrounding a beautiful bay that includes Ingonish Island. A breakwater juts out into the bay and I love to walk to the end of it and sit on the rocks and watch the sun disappear into the horizon and the moon climb high into the sky.
The bench Above Broad Cove Beach – Atop a cliff overlooking this rocky beach is a bench that I’ve spent many a summer evening just staring out at the ocean – watching whales, watching the sun set, watching the moon rise. On some nice summer days, I bring a book or a notepad and do some writing. On many a warm summer’s night, I cuddle up with a blanket and watch the waves roll in the beam of the moonlight while the smell of campfires and roasting marshmallows and hotdogs fill the air and coyotes howl in the distance. A few times, I even fell asleep on that bench to the relaxing sounds of those waves as they came ashore below me.

Lingan Wharves – I moved to Lingan when I was only five years old, moved away to another province at the age of twenty and moved back at age 31 but the wharves in Lingan have always been a favorite place for me whenever I found myself at home. I only have to walk for about two minutes to sit on a dock with my feet dangling over the water, relax on the picnic benches overlooking the beach or climb to the top of the cliffs above the beach to get a better view of the entire area. This place brings back so many good memories of my childhood and the fun us kids had skipping rocks at the beach, fishing off the docks, climbing the cliffs, jumping ice clampers in the bay (I do not advise anyone try this!) and building rafts out of salvaged wood we found on the beach to attempt to float out into the bay (I DEFINITELY do not recommend anyone try this). But, despite our adventurous and, sometimes dangerous endeavors, we survived…and we grew older and moved away but the wharves have not changed a bit!
The parking lot at the Keltic Lodge in Ingonish – Another great view in the scenic town of Ingonish. This parking lot faces the water overlooking the bay. During the day, it’s a great place to sit and watch the boats coming and going or imagine what it would be like to row out to that little island in the middle of it all. At night, it’s a great place to stargaze or watch the moon’s reflection shimmer over the water. On weekends, wedding receptions take place at the hall across the street and it can be quite entertaining to just sit and watch the drunken revelers come out into the parking lot slurring, singing and dancing without a care in the world. Over the years, this parking lot also became a bit of a safe have for me. I don’t like to sleep in my tent during lightning storms, so as soon as I hear a crack of thunder or flash of lightning nearby, I drive away from the storm and to that parking lot where I can watch the zigzagging streaks light up the sky over the water.

Dominion Beach – My family spent many summer days at this beach when I was a kid. It was one of the most popular beaches in Nova Scotia back than. A new boardwalk swept along the ocean, well-groomed paths led to the beach and a road led all the way to the end of the sand bar and cars would be parked all along it. Thousands of people congregated on that beach on an average day but over the years, many people moved out west to work, the beach fell to disrepair and people started frequenting other nearby beaches. Some work was done over the years to bring the beach back to its old self. People started to trickle back but nowhere near the numbers that once did. I continue to go there summer after summer for a number of reasons; It’s sandy, it’s long, it makes for the perfect morning walk or run, its almost always deserted, the sunsets are spectacular and there is a family of foxes that make their home near the boardwalk and come out to play at dusk. At night, I love to just sit in the sand and listen to the sounds of summer and watch the stars and the moon overhead.
Cemetery in ? – I discovered this place quite by accident one day while I was out for my daily coffee. Instead of just driving around town, I decided to go for a longer drive to a village further away. When it came time to turn around and head back home, I turned into a driveway that was actually a cemetery. I don’t want to say which cemetery it is because I discovered something there that I would like to keep a secret from as many people as possible. No offense, it’s just that what I discovered is something I don’t want to see disturbed. You see, when I looked up into the large trees in the middle of the graveyard, I noticed a large nest. There were two bald eagles nearby, obviously the owners of this large nest. There was no one else in the area at the time and I have no idea how many people know about the nest but, since it is occupied by two beautiful eagles who’ve carved a cozy and quiet home away from crowds, I would like to see it stay that way for their safety and well-being. I do return to that cemetery often to check on my feathered friends and every spring, there are new additions to the family! I’ve spent hours watching them in and around the nest with their young ones, hunting for food and bringing it back to the nest and pushing them to learn how to fly until finally, they set off to find their own territory, leaving the parents with, yet again, an empty nest.
The lifeguard chair at Ingonish Beach – Ingonish Beach is supervised during the day in the summer months but in the evenings, the lifeguard chair is empty. This chair is located at the main area of the beach just behind the parking lot and provides a spectacular view of the ocean, Cape Smokey Mountain, Middle Head Peninsula, The Keltic Lodge and the entire beach. Some evenings, I love to grab a coffee and drive to the beach just before sunset and if no one else raced me to it, I climb to the top of the chair and park myself there to watch the sun go down, the moon come up and the stars appear overhead. These visual delights, combined with the sounds of crickets in the nearby lake and the waves crashing ashore are something I can only describe as therapeutic!
Morrison Beach – Long, deserted, sandy, beautiful. Describes a typical beach one would see in the Caribbean…but wait, it’s not in the Caribbean at all, it’s on the south coast of Cape Breton Island in a remote area of the island that not many locals are even familiar with. I go to this beach for many reasons. One, I have been going there since I was a child and have very fond memories of it. Two, I am usually the only person there. Three, wildlife is plentiful and it is not out of the ordinary to see seals, deer, fox, bald eagles and coyotes all in one day. Four, the surf is wild and the sound of those large waves hitting shore is so relaxing.

Cheticamp Cemetery – I know a cemetery sounds like an odd place to just chill but this cemetery, in particular, has special meaning to me. My mom grew up in Cheticamp so many of my relatives have been laid to rest there, including my grandfather. I never met him. He passed away at a very young age when my mom was just a baby but I go to that cemetery every once and a while to find his headstone and repaint the wording on it because it fades over time. My mom recently passed away and this mini pilgrimage has taken on a whole new meaning as she once did this with her father’s gravestone too and now it’s been passed down to me. The view from the cemetery is also spectacular and the area is quiet and remote so I know no one will ever bother me there.
The Old Plot of Land in Framboise – Once upon a time, a little cabin rested on a small plot of land on a dirt road in a remote and isolated area of Cape Breton. Framboise was always my dad’s favorite place so, naturally, he purchased a little bungalow that became a little home-away-from home. That little home is no longer there but the plot of land is. It is overgrown with weeds and shrubs now but I can still find it because every time I drive down that road, waves of nostalgia come over me as I approach that place where I spent much of my childhood. Visions of the bats that used to fly out from behind the shutters when they were opened, the guitar pillow and other knick knacks that were left behind by the previous owner start flooding back. The sound of those old floors creaking echo in my head. Then I see that familiar little place where my sisters and I used to play and remember how much fun I had there as a child.

The Bean Barn – I always use to say I wanted to, one day, open a coffee shop in Ingonish. Well, someone else beat me to it! But, although it wasn’t me who opened The Bean Barn Cafe in the center of the town, I’m glad someone finally did because that was the one thing that was lacking in Ingonish. I spend a lot of time in that area. I love coffee and before The Bean Barn, I had to drive to Baddeck or Cheticamp for a half decent cup. I love coffee shops but hate the noise and informal atmosphere at large coffee chains so this place provides a quiet, relaxed atmosphere. And because I am a freelancer, I take my work with me when I travel and this coffee shop is the perfect place to spend a few hours writing from my laptop with a cup of coffee and a slice of homemade carrot cake!
The lighthouse in the Magdelan Islands – Although I’ve only been there once, my time there was unforgettable. I always wanted to travel to the Magdelan Islands and so did my mom so we took a trip there in 2009 and it ended up being the last, long road trip I took with Mom because she passed away not long after. The memory I have of that spectacular evening is made that more special by that fact. The lighthouse is located on the main island at the far, south end near a little ice cream truck. We traveled to that area of the island after supper one evening with the intention of getting some ice cream and heading back to our campground but the sight of that lighthouse perched over the water with the sun about to set was too much to pass up. We spent a few hours sitting on the rocks and watching the sun go down over the horizon…and that sunset was definitely in the top five sunsets I have ever watched!

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