Thursday, February 18, 2021

It's a Year Into this S**t Show...How's Everyone Doing?

Since the start of this pandemic, I've been cursing it and everything negative it caused.  The isolation, the not being able to see friends and family, the not being able to travel, the loss of work, the loss of money and the constant bombardment of Covid-19 this and Covid-19 that.

Yes, it's been rough in so many ways, but I'm starting to see the good that has come out of it.  It's been almost a year since the lockdowns and isolation became a part of everyday life.  The first few weeks was a constant string of bad news.  First my beloved cat Captain Jack passed away followed by the news that the project I was working on was stopping along with my income.  Than the worse shooting in Canadian history right here in my quiet, peaceful home province of Nova Scotia.  All this combined with the bad news coming from all corners of the world made me anxious and even depressed.  

As the months passed, there were ups and downs, goods and bads and all sorts of emotions and hurdles and new developments.  But it's only recently that I've started to realize that, despite all the bad, some really good things came out of all this. I should have seen it earlier.  I should have embraced those doors that were opening up to me.  I should have appreciated the things that were transpiring.  But my eyes were closed and my brain was focused on the changes, the losses, this new normal that wasn't at all normal...at least not the normal I was used to.  But who defines normal anyway?

I feel like I've been more fortunate than a lot of people on one front.  While many people I know were upset because they wouldn't be able to visit restaurants, bars and movie theatres anymore, nothing changed for me.  I don't go to any of those places often anyway.  I am an outdoors person. I will pick a picnic in the woods or a hike along the shore over a restaurant meal or movie theater outing any day! 

I don't know when it hit. I don't it hit all at once. It was a gradual thing.  I started to lighten up a bit, think a little more positively and that's when things started happening.  Or maybe it was me just becoming so comfortable with all the negativity around me that It started feeling normal enough for me to start thinking straight again.  Sounds weird but everything is weird these days.  I still can't make any sense out of anything anymore but at least, I am moving forward in some way and I'm not in the very dark place I was a few months ago. Loss of employment and sense of purpose will do that to a person...but a new-found purpose can do wonders for a person.  

I'm currently freelancing full-time now.  No, I'm not getting rich of it.  Not even close.  But, I'm doing something I love, I'm filling my time with purposeful work and I'm making enough to get by.  I also must say that I am quite proud of myself for remaining independent and for being resourceful.  Not many people can say that they have a talent outside of their regular work that they can use in a pinch to survive.  I feel very grateful for that.  My writing was once a hobby but now it's a lifeline!  So many new doors have opened, so many new connections made and so many new things learned!  The best thing is I'm still writing about travel.  While I'm not writing about my own travel since I am unable to travel due to Covid-19, I am writing travel content for other sites.  In my free time, I take courses and work on my social media channels and, from time-to-time, I write a blog filled with updates that will soon turn onto blogs about my own travels. Hoping  we can return to normal soon as I have many trips and adventures planned!

As for current adventures, we finally got enough snow here so I could get a day of snowshoeing in.  I Don't know how long the snow will last with all the rain and freezing rain we seem to get in the winters now but if I get out once, that's better than nothing since I didn't get out at all last year.  I stay pretty close to home for the most part though.  Every few days, I'll walk at Dominion Beach to see if any new and interesting debris washed up and to visit my friends the foxes, seals and eagles.  I'm itching to go further and do more but until Covid takes a hike, I'm content getting some things done around home!






Thursday, December 24, 2020

The Year that The World Will Remember...and Try to Forget

It's here.  Christmas has arrived after a turbulent year that seemed like it would never end.  One more week left of the dreadful year 2020.  It wasn't a good start to a new decade and I know I'm hoping that shaky start isn't a bad omen of what lies ahead for the future.  

I think it's safe to say that not one person on earth has escaped the year 2020 without being negatively impacted by it in some way.  For me, I can say that it has been a tremendously stressful year.  Mentally, physically, emotionally and financially.  On a personal level, I've experienced loss of work, loss of income, financial hardship and the loss of my beloved companion, my 16-year-old cat Captain Jack.  Local lockdowns in my area resulted in a very lonely period during the early months of Covid. I live alone so not having close contact with anyone for months took its toll.  On top of all that, I am missing some people this Holiday Season who won't be able to travel home.

So that's my experience on a personal level. On a geographic level, my home province of Nova Scotia (where I currently live) suffered tremendous loss this year.  I mourned along with the rest of my province and country after a madman went on a rampage and murdered 22 innocent people in what is now known as Canada's worse mass killings in history. A Canadian military helicopter crash in Greece that took the lives of six people including two from Nova Scotia and a Canada Snowbirds crash that took the life of a young woman from the province occurred around the same time, adding more pain to my already heartbroken province.  And just this month, another tragedy when a scallop dragger capsized in the Bay of Fundy, leaving six families and a province still recovering from the previous tragedies, to mourn the loss of six men lost at sea. 

 If I look at the past year on a global level, the impact of 2020 on the world paints an even clearer picture of the year's impact on humanity. Over one million people dead as Covid-19 sweeps across almost every continent on earth.  Hospitals overwhelmed by equipment and bed shortages, massive shutdowns of world economies and businesses struggling to keep afloat. Then we have widespread deadly protests and a tense presidential election in the United States.  Add a massive explosion in Beirut, catastrophic bush fires in Australia and the western United States  and countless celebrity deaths (Kobe Bryant, Alex Trebek, Van Halen to name a few) to the list and, yup, it was a pretty hard year for us all.  Almost apocalyptic you could say. Certainly, one that will go down in history!  

For me, one of the things that is really bothering me is the division I see happening in my own country.  West vs. east, conservative vs. liberal, pro-mask vs. anti-mask, black vs. white.  Why can't we all just get along!  

But there's been some good in 2020.  I think collectively, most people have realized how important the things they once took for granted are.  Lockdowns meant families got to spend more time together.  I witnessed more and more people spending time outdoors instead of sitting in front of their TV's.  Children started spending more time outdoors too.  Materialism took a backseat.  Because many of us are broke, we had no choice but to appreciate what we already have instead of focusing on what we want and can no longer have.  

Here in Cape Breton, we had our own historic municipal election that saw a woman elected as mayor for the first time.  I'm divided on whether the discovery of the vaccine is a good or bad thing at the moment but time will tell on that one.  Certainly it's a good thing if it will curb the virus. However, for me personally, I'm a little worried about potential side effects of a vaccine that was developed so quickly.  I'm also worried about forced vaccinations and the possibility that anyone who either refuses it or is unable to get it will lose some of the freedoms they are used to.  I'm not against vaccines.  I will likely get it down the road if it's available and has been proven to be safe.

As I write this, my town is not under lockdown but there are some restrictions on Christmas gatherings. Further west in the country, residents are not so lucky. The virus is still spreading like wildfire in some provinces and Christmas will be much different than what they're used to.  It is my hope that everyone will try to have the best Christmas they can.  

I'm hopeful for a better year ahead in 2021. If we beat this virus and get back to normal, imagine the celebrations we'll have this time next year.  We have a lot to make up for! 

We will get back to normal one day soon.  It'll take time and effort on everyone's part but we will get to that light at the end of the tunnel.  But we will also never forget the year that was 2020.  So with that said, I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays....and wishes for a better year in 2021!   For everyone, for the whole world.  This is the first time in our lifetimes that an event has affected every single person on the planet.  We got in this together...now we have to get out of it together.



Monday, October 5, 2020

Enjoying those Dog Days of Summer 2020 on a Final Road Trip Around Cape Breton

 Before I set out on day 2 of my Cape Breton tour, I wasn't sure where I would end up. It was a toss-up between several routes but, after consulting with my friend who joined me that day, we decided to head up Route 4 to St. Peter's and then take West Bay Road through Dundee and onto Marble Mountain and eventually to Orangedale with the destination to be determined beyond that point. 

This was a drive I hadn't done in quite a few years so it was an opportunity to re-familiarize myself with the area and practice my new camera in surroundings different from where I usually go. 

The drive along Route 4 through Sydney Forks, East Bay, Ben Eoin, Big Pond, Irish Vale, Johnstown, Chapel Island and St. Peters is another one of my favourite Cape Breton drives.  We grabbed some subs at Subway in St. Peters and headed to Battery Provincial Park where we spotted a deer crossing someone's front lawn, watched some people fishing, took some pictures of the canal and, of course, ate our lunch.

As I said, I haven't driven the road that goes from St. Peters and onto Marble Mountain and Orangedale in quite a few years, so I couldn't remember what to expect as we turned onto that road and headed in the direction that I hoped would eventually take us to the Trans Canada Highway on the other side. 

We only had to drive for a few minutes before reaching an interesting roadside attraction.  I'm not sure what the meaning is behind it but it looked like it was worth stopping for.  There was no one around to ask what the purpose of all the license plates hanging in the trees was but as we stared and listened to them eerily rustling in the breeze, we came up with your own theories.  

The mysterious roadside attraction we came across on the highway through Dundee

 
I would like to know the real story behind them if anyone knows!  There are hundreds of them from all over Canada and the United States and a number of novelty plates as well.  Where would someone acquire all of these?

The road was longer than I remembered.  It was also likely one of the worse roads I had ever driven on in Cape Breton for potholes.  It was so bad, I thought I would get a flat tire.  As I veered to hit one hole, I'd hit another bigger one and that went on for quite a stretch until we reached Marble Mountain. 

I had always heard of Marble Mountain and its beautiful beach for years before I finally drove there a few years ago to check it out for myself.  I fell in love with the clear, warm waters of the little beach at the bottom of a steep hill. 

On this day, I was looking forward to entering those beautiful waters again.  Unfortunately, it was not meant to be.  Upon arrival, a light drizzle started, the fog rolled in and the temperature dropped.  We tried to drive down to the beach to get some pictures and stretch our legs, but there was no one around and there were signs saying the facilities were closed due to Covid-19.

Marble Mountain Lookoff
We drove back up to the main road and stopped at the look-off that overlooks the beach, took some pictures and had a rest there before driving off again towards Orangedale. 

I'm not sure what it is about Orangedale that captivates me.  Maybe it's the peace and quiet that envelopes the little village, the sparkling, clear waters by the docks or the desolate back roads that give it that peaceful, remote feel like you are in the middle of nowhere.  Or perhaps it's the sound of the Orangedale Whistle shatters that peace and quiet with a nostalgic shrill that pierces the stillness and reminds me that this was once a bustling community with an active railway passing through.

Upon arrival in the village, we drove to the little pier and sat for a while enjoying the fresh air and stillness that I've come to expect whenever I pass through.  

The pretty village of Orangedale
Unfortunately, during my visit to Orangedale this time, the sound of the infamous Orangedale Whistle was not to be heard. I don't know if it just wasn't working on that day or if it has been permanently silenced but like the song by the Rankin Family says, "The Orangedale Whistle Will Always Blow", it would be disappointing to find out that it has been silenced forever. 

After we stopped by the old trains near the museum to get some pictures, we headed towards the Trans Canada Highway where we had to make a decision on which way to go next.  When my content-to-just-get-out-of-the-house-road-trip-companion said she didn't care as long as she could get some sunset pictures, I didn't have to think twice before deciding where we would go next.  

Orangedale Museum
At the turn off to the highway, I turned left and only minutes later, I turned left again. I just had to get to Inverness Beach one last time.  It was starting to clear up, the air was warming up and the clear skies were an indication that there would be a spectacular sunset on the beautiful west coast of Cape Breton Island. 

Upon arrival at the beach, I was pleased to see that there were people in the water so I wouldn't be swimming alone. I changed into my swimsuit as quickly as possible and made my way to the beach.  I didn't have to enter slowly because the water was still very warm.  It didn't take any effort to get ducked. 

The conditions were exceptionally good for an evening that late in September.  There was a gentle ripple on the water which must have been at least 18 or 19 degrees.  The sun was quickly lowering into the horizon and the sky was starting to change from blue to a mix of orange, red and purple.  It doesn't get any better than this.  

Sunset at Inverness Beach
 I must have been in the water for at least an hour.  The sun was gone when I finally and reluctantly came ashore.  It took three tries to get out of the water.  Three times I walked to the edge of the water only to turn around and head back in. 

I know that any dip in the ocean I manage to get this late in the season is likely my last until next summer.  I need that closure before I walk away for good and it takes a few tries to accept that this is goodbye for a while.

It was almost dark when I finally came out of the water.  Surprisingly the air was still warm so I didn't get a chill like I expected to.  I still had to change out of my wet bathing suit as there was no chance it would dry without the sun and I didn't want to embark on the two-hour journey home on a wet car seat. 

Without sunlight, it was a bit of a challenge changing in the outdoor changing stall but I managed and soon, Inverness Beach was disappearing in my rear-view mirror.  I had a sinking feeling that this would definitely be the last time seeing it until next summer. 

The drive home was uneventful but I did take my time, not just because there were deer and other wild animals on the move, but because I knew this would likely be my last summer road trip of the season and I wanted to savour every bit of it. 

Driving through Margaree is just as lovely at night as it is in the day.  On a busy night, you might pass five cars all the way to The Red Barn.  While the lush valleys and towering hills lose their color after the sun goes down, their ghostly silhouettes can still be seen against the night sky.   

We stopped at the look-off on Kelly's Mountain that overlooks the Seal Island Bridge to try and get some interesting pictures of the bridge at night.  I never expected this to be a scary experience but let me tell you, when you are standing at that look-off while 18-wheelers are barrelling around that sharp turn, it looks like they're going to drive right into you. 

Imagine standing close to the Trans-Canada Highway as these huge trucks pick up speed going down that hill at 100 km's an hour.  My heart raced every time one came in our direction only to follow the curve of the road only metres away from where we stood! 

When the traffic cleared for a bit, I stood there on top of the world and took in the light, cool breeze before getting back in the car and making that last leg of the journey home.  2020 might have been an epic year - and not in a good way - but the summer of 2020 didn't turn out so bad after all.  

 

Friday, September 18, 2020

End of Summer Cape Breton Road Trip - Route 19 to the Cabot Trail and Back

 While many see September 1st and back-to-school time as the end of summer, I refuse to acknowledge that the end is here until the official start of fall on September 22nd.  Currently, I'm still going for almost daily dips in the ocean, I'm still wearing shorts and tank tops no matter what the temperature and I'm still embarking on road trips to explore beautiful Cape Breton Island.  The best thing about this time of year after school goes back is I have the beaches, trails and attractions almost to myself! 

When I looked at the long-term forecast on September 6th, I noticed a series of hot, sunny days coming up.  On September 9th, I embarked on what would turn into a two-day journey through four counties and dozens of little villages in the western and central parts of the island.  

As I made my way along the Trans Canada Highway headed for the turn-off to the Cabot Trail near Baddeck, I was looking forward to a nice big breakfast at one of my favourite restaurants. I intended to stop at The Cedar House Restaurant near the Seal Island Bridge. This is something I do at least once before they close for the season.  All I could think about on the way there was the tasty breakfast with sausage, eggs, toast and hash browns. 

I arrived in the parking lot at around 9:30 and was disappointed to see a "CLOSED" sign in the window.  I contemplated waiting around until 11:00, which was the opening time indicated on the sign, but I wanted to get on the road early.  Fitzgerald's, which is almost next door and has equally delicious breakfast, was also closed.  I settled for a Tim Horton's breakfast sandwich, hash brown and chocolate chip muffin which I bought at the Tim's near Baddeck and ate on the scenic boardwalk in the pretty little village on the Bras d'Or Lakes. 

I love Baddeck. There's just something about that quaint little village that draws me in.  Unfortunately, I didn't get to spend a whole lot of time in the town this year so my little visit that morning, despite being quick and unplanned, was a welcome little rest before heading out on the day's adventure.  

At the Red Barn, I turn onto the world-famous Cabot Trail. I love driving along this part of the Trail through Hunter's Mountain, Middle River, Lake O'Law and onto Margaree Harbour.  It's a relaxing, beautiful drive, especially when traffic is light as it was on this day.  Road construction annoys me but I admit I was happy to see a road crew working on a stretch of this road that was getting very bad over the last few years. 

I made it to Inverness Beach at 11:30, which was about the time I expected to arrive.  The forecast was calling for showers and clouds were moving in.  Despite a few dark spots in the afternoon, the rain never came, at least not where I was.  I heard it rained in other places but I enjoyed a refreshing dip in waters so clear that even without the sun shining down, I could still see straight to the bottom.  I swam for about an hour in those warm, clear waters. 

To dry off, I walked almost the entire length of that four-kilometre beach before coming back to my chair to relax in the sun, which, by that time, was shining.  I wasn't expecting it to get hot enough to want to go back in the water but by the time I completely dried off, I was craving another dip. This time of year, I never know if a dip in the ocean will be my last of the season.  I thought to myself "to heck with it, I only live once" and spent the next two hours in the water.  


 

As I floated in the calm sea all by my lonesome, the thought that great white sharks could be lurking nearby didn't even cross my mind.  After all, how scary could a bunch of Ocearch-tagged sharks with names like Jane, Hal and Luna be anyway?

 It was late afternoon and starting to cloud over when I came out of the water the second time so I didn't dry off as fast. But it was worth it even if it meant a wet car seat, dripping hair and a car full of caked sand.  

I had planned to stop at some of the beaches along the way to Cheticamp - Chimney Corner, Whale Cove, Belle Cote - but my extra-long visit to Inverness Beach meant I had little time to reach the little Acadian village in time for supper at Le Gabriel Restaurant.  

I did, however, take my time driving along the coast between Margaree Harbour and Cheticamp. This is one of my favourite stretches of road on the island. Ocean on one side, mountains on the other, windy two-lane road stretching through quaint little villages in front of me.  


 

It only took about five minutes for the fantastic staff at Le Gabriel to prepare my veggie nachos and gluten-free chocolate cake, which I enjoyed overlooking the ocean at the bottom of Lapointe Rd. at the edge of town.  The meal was, as it always is, delicious.  As usual, the portions are always too big for me so I was unable to finish all the nachos.  


 

I left room for cake and took the nachos home for a snack later that night. I grabbed a coffee for the road and drove a little ways along the Cabot Trail through the Cape Breton Highlands National Park before turning around at the construction zone near Corney Brook. Evening was approaching when I turned off on the Cheticamp Back Road.  I always take this road when heading back towards Route 19. It's a nice change of scenery in the foothills of the mountains.  At the intersection of the main road, I kept going straight onto Cheticamp Island, another short, but scenic drive I like to do whenever I pass through the area.

Back on the highway, I intended to head towards Baddeck at Margaree Harbour. But almost as if my car knows the way, it turned onto the road that goes through St. Rose and Chimney Corner and then onto the Beach Road #2 in Inverness to find a parking spot in the exact same place I parked only a few hours before.  Sunset was approaching.  The water was calm.  The water was clear. The air was still warm.  I couldn't resist another dip in the ocean.

The sunsets here are among the most beautiful I've ever seen anywhere in the world.  Beautiful sunset + dip in warm, clear waters =  an unforgettable summer evening. There's just something about the way those waters glisten in that fading light and the calmness I sense when those gentle waves lull me into a state of sheer bliss.


 

I don't usually like driving home through remote areas late at night because there are a lot of moose and deer around.  I took my time driving along that dark, lonely road through Margaree.  I didn't feel sad when I reached the Trans Canada Highway and headed home because I sensed that the very next day, I would be back again.  This was to be my last trip to Inverness for the season. But, you just never know with me and what the next day will bring.  I have been known to be spontaneous.  So, did I end up back in my happy place one last time? Stay tuned...

 

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Margaree Harbour is Central with Plenty to See and Do Nearby

If you choose to start your Cabot Trail Journey near The Red Barn just past Baddeck, early in your journey around, you'll arrive at Margaree Harbour.  While many people just drive on through and keep driving towards Cheticamp, others stop for a while and take in the many things that make this area of the island one of my favourites. The scenic views are just the beginning!

The beach on the other side of the breakwater is sandy and has very warm water for swimming.  It's also one of the best places on the island for enjoying spectacular sunsets.  

If you continue for a little bit along the road to Chimney Corner and St. Rose, you'll find two of the island's best beaches only minutes apart; Whale Cove Beach and Chimney Corner Beach.  If you keep going even further, you'll find the town of Inverness and its beautiful, long sandy beach.  The whole coast is known for sunsets, warm waters and sandy beaches.  This little extra drive from Margaree Harbour to Inverness only takes you about a half hour off track (longer if you grab something to eat, spend time at any of the beaches or golf at the world-class golf courses in Inverness) but it's worth it.  You can always jump back onto the Cabot Trail where you made the turn off at Margaree Bridge.  

Margaree Harbour
A beautiful sunset at Margaree Harbour


Monday, September 7, 2020

Exploring the Area Around the Louisbourg Lighthouse

While the little town of Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island is mostly known for being home to the Fortress of Louisbourg, which is a top attractions on the island, it's also home to another popular attraction.  If you travel to Louisbourg to visit the fortress, I highly recommend you make some time to also visit The Louisbourg Lighthouse.  

The Lighthouse itself is active to this day and is the third lighthouse to be located in this location.  The current structure was built on the site that was once home to the oldest lighthouse in Canada which was built in the 1730s.  Ruins from the original and subsequent lighthouses are still visible today.  

Also on site are a picnic area, scenic look-offs and a 2-kilometre hiking trail with ocean views, opportunities to view local wildlife and interpretive panels. 




Thursday, September 3, 2020

Did you Know that the Inventor of the Telephone Once Lived in Cape Breton?

While most people know that Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, what many people don't know is that the famed Scottish inventor spent a lot of his time at his beautiful home at Beinn Bhreagh in the pretty little town of Baddeck along the shores of the Bras d'Or Lakes.  Yes that's right...that little device you carry around with you everywhere you go started with a big invention by a man who called Cape Breton home.
The home still stands and can be seen from the village but the Alexander Graham Bell Museum is where you'll learn about the great inventor, his inventions and his life.  Within this museum, you'll see exhibits, artifacts, short films and photos.  The views from the outside observation deck are also something to see. 
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The exterior of the Alexander Graham Bell Museum in Baddeck, Nova Scotia


Tuesday, September 1, 2020

The Little Village on the Canal where the Ocean Meets the Bras d'Or Lakes

St. Peters is a pretty little village at a point where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Bras d'or Lakes.  The town is home to little shops, restaurants, cafes and several museums, including the Nicholas Denys Museum and the Wallace MacAskill Museum.  A campground is also located in the town and there are many walking and hiking trails.  Nearby Dundee is home to a great golf course and there is even a Christmas Shop at the edge of town that is open eight months of the year.  Actually it closes on Christmas Eve so shoppers have right up to the last minute to find that special item to put on the tree.

The main attraction in St. Peters is the canal that joins the ocean with Cape Breton's inland sea, The Bras d'Or Lakes.  The National Historic Site and adjacent Battery Provincial Park are dedicated to the history and workings of the canal and within this park area you'll find picnic tables, trails and a swimming area.  






Monday, August 31, 2020

You Never Know What You'll Find on Cape Breton's Beaches

Beachcombing is a favourite activity of mine and there's no better place to indulge in this hobby than on the long, weather-battered beaches of Cape Breton.  I've found many interesting items over the years, the most interesting being a piece of an old ship that washed ashore at Dominion Beach in a big storm.

While looking out my window one evening, I spotted a blinking green light on the beach across the bay.  Unable to identify it from my house and being driven crazy wondering what the source of the light was, I trekked along the beach one night to the spot where the blinking was coming from.  It was a buoy that had come lose in a storm and washed up onto the dunes.

Almost anything I find on the beach serves a purpose.  Whether it be an old lobster trap that's turned into a makeshift seat from which to watch a beautiful sunset or a giant seashell used as a soap dish.  Many people make crafts with the treasures they find on the beach.  If anything, the often misplaced items found on the island's beaches make great subjects for photos.
An old lobster trap is the perfect subject in this photo.

Some people like to do interesting things with rocks at the beach.
I came across this piece of an old ship washed ashore after a storm at Dominion Beach.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Explore the Cape Breton Regional Municipality

When most people think of Cape Breton, they think of the Cabot Trail and the northern portion of the island. However, the island isn't all that big and the other areas are worth exploring too!  The Cape Breton Regional Municipality, for example, is home to the towns of Glace Bay, New Waterford, North Sydney and the unofficial capital of Cape Breton, Sydney.  This area is also home to many beaches, museums, scenic views and attractions.  Dominion Beach, The Marconi Museum, The Sydney Mines Heritage Museum and Fossil Centre, The Glace Bay Miner's Museum, Cossit House, Fort Petrie Military Museum and Jost House are just some of the attractions you'll find in this area of the island.
Colliery Lands Park in New Waterford is a great place to take a rest, have a picnic and relax in natural surroundings.  Several exhibits about the history of mining in the town are located around the park.  In fact, the park is situated near the site of a former working coal mine.

This monument in Colliery Lands Park features the names of all the coal miners who were killed in area coal mines.  The flags represent the countries that many of the miners came from in search of work. 

Friday, August 28, 2020

If you Love Observing Wildlife, Cape Breton is the Place to be!

While driving, hiking and exploring Cape Breton Island, you'll likely come face-to-face with many of the critters who make their home here.  Most are friendly, such as the red fox, while some are best observed at a safe distance, such as the black bear and coyote.  While it's fun to observe the local wildlife, it's important to respect their space.  Never feed or try to pet wild animals as this can endanger them and you.  Just stand back and watch....if they don't feel threatened by you, they may provide you with some very cute photo ops!
A playful red fox entertaining passerby at a local beach.


Thursday, August 27, 2020

Learn About Cape Breton's Rich Coal Mining History

Cape Breton has a long history of coal mining and that history is showcased at the Glace Bay Miner's Museum.  The unique thing about this museum, besides the interesting exhibits, is visitors can tour a real mine and see what it was like to work underground in those damp, harsh conditions. 
The Glace Bay Miner's Museum
The Men of Deeps is made up entirely of former coal miners.  This world-renowned choir occasionally performs at the museum and in other venues around the island. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Cape Breton is a Bird-watcher's Paradise

Turkey Vultures are not native to Cape Breton Island but they've been spotted on numerous occasions over the last few years.  My answer as to why would only be a guess but I imagine it has to do with the warming climate of the area.  This one was spotted in Mira near Marion Bridge and others have been spotted along the south coast of the island.  But Turkey Vultures are not the only birds that bird watchers can spot around Cape Breton; there are many including:
Bald Eagles
Atlantic Puffins
Osprey
A wide variety of hawks
Piping Plovers
Gannets
Owls
Several species of ducks
Canada Geese
...and many many more!

A Turkey Vulture near Marion Bridge in the Mira area of Cape Breton.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Spectacular Mountain Views are in no Shortage on Cape Breton Island

Whether you are in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, cruising through the Margaree Valley or enjoying the views from the many scenic look-offs that are located around the Cabot Trail, mountain vistas are a common sight! Some of the most notable mountains on the island include:
-Kelly's Mountain, which is located in the Trans Canada Highway, has two scenic look-offs and stunning views of the Seal Island Bridge. Elevation: 267 metres.
-Cape Smokey Mountain, which is located along the Cabot Trail via Englishtown, is home to a provincial park, exciting hairpin turns and ocean views.  Elevation: 322 metres.
- French Mountain, which is situated between Cheticamp and Pleasant Bay, is mostly-known for being the location of one of Atlantic Canada's most iconic hiking trails, The Skyline Trail.  Elevation 430 metres.
-North Mountain features beautiful mountain views and, in the winter, is known for having giant snow squalls that easily tower over the tallest of vehicles. Elevation: 479 metres
-MacKenzie Mountain features lovely views of Pleasant Bay.  Elevation 355 metres.
-Franey Mountain, which is located in Ingonish, also has a scenic hiking trail and some of the best views around.  Elevation: 430 metres

It's a fairly steep climb to the top but the views from the trail on Franey Mountain are incredible.

My dad and I hiked the Franey Mountain Trail a few years ago and I can't wait to hike it again this fall!

The view from the Skyline Trail on French Mountain.

The view of Cape Smokey Mountain from Ingonish Beach

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Stay in World Class Accomodations

When it comes to accommodations on Cape Breton Island, the options are endless but one thing for sure is you have your pick of world-class options!  Whether you prefer to stay in a fully-equipped hotel, wilderness cabin, quaint B&B, serviced campground or backcountry campsite, you'll find something to suit your taste and your budget. 
The Keltic Lodge is a world-class resort on the Middle Had Peninsula near Ingonish Beach in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park.  The property features a spa, swimming pool, full-service restaurant, bar and a variety of rooms for various budgets and preferences.  A beautiful hiking trail is also nearby and the views around the resort, which include Cape Smokey Mountain and Ingonish Beach, are spectacular.  The property is also rumored to be haunted which gives it added appeal.

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