Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Part 2 - Some more of my Favorite Places

A couple of weeks ago, I began writing a post about some of my favorite places on earth and realized that they would not all fit into that one blog post that I here the continuation of that list!

Mary Anne Falls – Two fairly large waterfalls, one on top of the other, located high up in the mountains of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park and surrounded by trees, a crystal clear brook and pure, pristine nature. What is there not to like? During week days in the summer, when everyone is still at work and I know there will not be a lot of people around, I make that slow, steep drive up to the falls and spend the entire afternoon there. I relax on some rocks with the sound of the falls lulling me to semi-unconsciousness. I swim in the cold, deep waters of the pool below the falls. I hike to the look-off that overlooks the falls. I walk along the brook, deep into the forest and just enjoy the quiet and peaceful surroundings of this almost untouched area of the park…and it really is like heaven on earth!

Blacketts Lake – I don’t actually hang out at Blacketts Lake, I drive around it. It’s one of my favorite coffee routes when I am in the Sydney area and, although it is a fairly short drive, there is hardly ever any traffic, the area is scenic and, at night, there are hardly any lights which makes it a great little drive on a clear night when the stars are out or there is a full moon.

Lot 87 at Broad Cove Campground – My family has been camping at Broad Cove campground in Ingonish for many years. I discovered Lot 87 one of the first times I started camping on my own and it has become my home-away-from-home. The lot is close to everything I need at the campground in an area where there are usually other campers nearby so I am not completely alone. The lot has a picnic table and two trees spaced perfectly apart to allow me to rig a clothes line and the public fire pits are only a few yards away which means I can hear the happy sounds of people singing campfire songs and smell marshmallows roasting through the evening.
Playa Santa Fe – I love to get lost and this beach is one example why I love getting lost. Some of the best places I have found while traveling were found after I had lost my way, including Playa Santa Fe. I found this beach quite by accident when I took a wrong turn while walking around the Mayan Ruins in Tulum, Mexico. Giant sand dunes, palm trees, turquoise water and a long, stretch of soft, white sand that went on for what looked like miles. What else could I ask for? Seclusion? Yup, it had that too…I was the only person on the beach! And, oh yeah, there was a small hut hidden in between a couple of giant dunes with a friendly local serving chilled Cerveza.

Signal Hill – I didn’t know anyone when I first moved to St. John’s, Newfoundland. Fortunately, I had a car and was able to provide myself with some entertainment during those first lonely days in the city. I drove for hours, trying to learn my way around the city and, in the process, found a great place not far from my apartment to just hang out and get out of the house. Signal Hill is known as a popular meeting place for locals but for me, it was an escape. I went there to admire the spectacular view of the city from high atop that hill or to gaze out into the vast ocean on the other side. I could park there for hours just people-watching and listening to the distant sounds of the city below.
The Lone Sheiling – I first experienced The Lone Sheiling when I was a child but it was after I started exploring Cape Breton on my own that I really felt a connection to the place. The Lone Sheiling is more than just a little hut on the side of the highway. There is a short walking trail that winds down into a little valley where some of the tallest and most beautiful trees create an almost fairy-tale-like atmosphere. The very green and lush forest is alive with plant life and little critters scurrying around and a brook runs through the area and makes for the perfect place to relax with my feet in the water and not a soul around to bother me.

Death Valley National Park – Desolate, quiet, vast, sunny and insanely hot. Most people would probably think I’m crazy to have fallen in love with such an unforgiving landscape but there was just something about Death Valley that had me awestruck. Perhaps it is because it’s so vastly different from the landscape that I am used to back home in Canada or maybe it was that surreal feeling I got while driving along those lonely roads through an area of North America made famous in so many movies and so many real life events…some of them quite notorious.
The corner of Lingan Rd. and Lingan Beach Rd – My old house. I lived there from the time I was 5 until I was 20. I moved out and returned when I was 32 and lived there for another year and a half. I still drive passed it everyday but another family lives there now so I can’t actually go on the property and wander around like I once did. Now, I can only admire it from the road as I drive by or visit it in my dreams. I spent the best childhood any kid could ask for in that house and the surrounding property. There were woods, gardens, tree houses, a huge front and back yard and a hill in front that we used to sleigh down. The house itself is large but cozy and, although the new owners have no doubt changed the interior, I will always remember it the way it was.

Quidi Vidi Village – This tiny little village tucked away in a little corner of the city of St. John’s, Newfoundland was one of my favorite places to spend an afternoon when I lived there…and is still one of my favorite places to visit when I happen to be in town. Colorful little houses along the water, boats lining the small harbour and coming and going throughout the day, a walking trail that runs along the scenic coast and a little rocky beach that no one seems to know about where I can lay in the sun with a book and the sounds of the ocean. The best thing about Quidi Vidi Village is it seems like you are in the middle of nowhere when you are there. It looks like a typical outport town in rural Newfoundland except it is in the middle of a capital city!

Kidston Island – Or the “island within an island” as I like to call it, is located just a little ways offshore from the village of Baddeck in central Cape Breton. I liken this place to being shipwrecked on a deserted island. After the little shuttle ferry drops me off at the island, I am quite literally stranded (well, until the boat comes back a few hours later but it’s nice to pretend!) and I usually have the island to myself except for a few people on the little stretch of beach. I hike the trail that winds all around the island and relax on the benches that overlook Baddeck Bay where Bald Eagles are often spotted and beautiful yachts float around the harbour. I like to wonder who is in those yachts as, rumor has it, quite a few Hollywood celebrities travel to Baddeck to get away from their hectic lives in the spotlight.

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