Saturday, November 21, 2015

So This is What I was up to All Summer

Another summer has come and gone. Unlike the summers of my childhood that seemed to linger forever, summers come and go at a quicker rate every year since my early twenties. This summer was particularly fast because we didn't really have one; it was cold and rainy for much of it and I worked though most of it.

But cold, rain and work aside, it was still as good a summer as any other! It started off a bit slow with most weekends being too wet and cold to do the regular summer stuff like hiking and going to the beach. That weather continued for pretty much the whole summer but fortunately, as it got later into July, it seemed to be concentrated during the weeks when I was at work anyway. Most of the weekends from then on were sunny and warm, much to my liking.

I know the weather is getting nicer when I move my morning walks from the horse track in town to Dominion Beach. Each sunny, dry morning, as rare as they were at the beginning, saw me driving to the beach and walking the whole sandbar. This usually takes about 45 minutes to do with no interruptions but during my first walk of the season, there were many interruptions. First it was the two bald eagles that made their appearance on the boggy side of the sandbar. Then there were the foxes who were prowling around looking for handouts and their their new babies who could be spotted peaking out of the few dens that are visible in the sand dunes. How could I not stop and admire them?
A Family of little foxes at Dominion Beach
The boardwalk at Port Hood Provincial Park and Beach
Of course, as you all know by now, my summers are not complete without at least a dozen trips around the Cabot Trail...and that is just what I did almost every weekend. While everyone else all over Cape Breton was busy Chasing the Ace in Inverness (Chase the Ace was a charitable/lottery event that gained a lot of popularity in Cape Breton), I was busy avoiding the area and enjoying the near-empty beaches and trails. I did spend some time in the town when the event wasn't going on but large crowds and gambling just aren't my cup of tea so I stayed away during the height of the event.
Mid-summer saw my sister home from Calgary and, of course, a trip around the trail was planned and we also decided to do a whale tour. While discussing which whale tour company to go out with, we agreed that the tour had to leave from an area where we had never gone whale cruising before. We chose to leave from Pleasant Bay on a Zodiac tour offered by Captain Marks Whale and Sea Cruises.

I headed to Ingonish on my own the day before so I could enjoy the beach and relax on my day off. There were hardly any hotel rooms or cabins left when I made my booking for a night at The Seabreeze It wasn't exactly what I was looking for but it did the trick. I would have preferred a cabin but my room at this hotel was cosy, clean, quiet and close to everything so it suited me just fine for one night.
My room at The Seabreeze Motel in Ingonish
The family met me the next morning and we headed to Pleasant Bay. If you don't know what a Zodiac is, the best way I can describe it is it's a motorized rubber dinghy...and that is what we set out in towards the great big ocean. The water wasn't too rough that day. I personally prefer rougher waters on a zodiac but dad's bad back wouldn't have fared well with that.
After a quick safety demonstration, we suited up and headed out to the open sea. It was as smooth-sailing as one would expect on a motorized rubber dinghy in the North Atlantic. The weather was great and our captain informed us that dozens of whales had been spotted in the area we were headed for. It was interesting to see the land from the open sea. Pleasant Bay is beautiful from all angles including this one and it was particularly interesting to see Pollett's Cove so close for the first time. I heard about that place many times before but never got the chance to do the long hike that takes you to an open field where there are horses and a spectacular view of the ocean and surrounding mountains. Before that that, I'd only seen it in pictures.
Pollett's Cove
More whale watchers searching for whales in the bay
And we did see whales. Lot of whales...and seabirds, seals and tuna! It seemed like we were out there longer than any other whale tour I'd been on and we took our time going back to shore along the cliffs where we saw interesting rock formations and beautiful country landscapes that can't be seen from the road.
The View from the Zodiak
Back onshore, we discussed what else to do with the rest of the day and decided to hike the Skyline Trail. But first we turned off on Red River Rd. in Pleasant Bay to drive along the scenic route that leads to Gampo Abbey Monastery.
The Skyline was busy as it usually is in the summer months. I forgot to bring my hiking boots and ended up wearing flats so it's a good thing the trail is well-maintained and not difficult. We didn't see any moose or other wildlife going in or coming out which is strange on this trail. I usually see at least one moose. The trailhead was very windy as usual but we stayed there for a while admiring that amazing view and looking for whales in the bay below.
The Skyline Trail
Later in the summer, I finally got a chance to spend some time in Inverness when Chase the Ace took a break. A co-worker had told me about a beach at a place called Broad Cove near MacLeod's Campground just outside the town. I went searching for it and found it fairly easily and couldn't believe that I didn't know such a beautiful beach existed! And here I thought I knew every inch of this island. Over the summer, there were a few impromptu, random adventures like this. I'd be sitting around the house procrastinating doing chores while and watching the sun shining outside when suddenly, I'd grab the keys and just Baddeck, to Port Morien, to Louisbourg...anywhere but home!

One of the last weekends of summer saw me attend a writer's workshop in Gabarus. The Salt Swept Writing Workshop Adventure took place near the lighthouse in the village and combined two of my favourite things - adventure and writing. And it turned out to be the perfect day for it too! Sunny with high temperatures and hardly any wind. Instructions were given for several phases of the workshop and we set out individually to explore the area and allow it to inspire our writings. I walked the rocky shoreline admiring the sparkling blue waters, rugged shoreline and country landscape and found the perfect place to lay down in the grass and complete the task at hand. Light meals were provided at the old lighthouse which has been transformed into a very intriguing home and another nearby home that was generously offered to us for the day. A barbecue and some delicious home-made dessert, a nice sunset and some interesting conversations with like-minded folks made for a perfect ending to the day.
I've heard people talking about the Coxheath Mountain Trails since I was a child but, for some reason, I never attempted them...that is until late this summer. I didn't do the longer version but the short version was quite long...and quite the workout. I heard the start of the trail was steep but it was a tad steeper than I thought it would be. All in all, it was a very nice hike with nice views and a cozy cabin at the top. I'll have to do the longer version of the hike when the weather gets nicer again.
Gabarus Lighthouse
Early on in the summer, my sister who had been working in British Columbia returned home for what I thought was permanently. Towards the end of the summer, I received a text on my way to work. She decided to head back out west, this time to Jasper, Alberta, to take a job at a resort there. A final farewell camping trip was promptly planned for the following weekend. It was my only camping trip of the summer and it turned out to be a good one. The weather was perfect, our favourite campsite was available, we got a huge campfire going and enjoyed a bottle of wine while talking about everything under a clear, star-filled sky. It might have been my only camping trip this year but it was so amazing to be more than enough. At least I got to stay in a tent for one night. And anyone who knows me knows that any night spent in a tent under a clear sky and surrounded by nature is a good night! :)

No comments:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...