Tristan’s Trip Report – Week 6

Atlantic Canada Roadtrip Route

Aug. 1st, 2016 (Day 36)

From: New Glasgow, N.S.
To: Grand River, N.S. (Cape Breton)
Activities: Exploring Guysborough, Causeway to Cape Breton
Stayed: Barb and Ron’s, Friend’s summer home

Woke up, continental breakfast… frog and toad… blah blah blah.

We met our friend Mariellen (BreatheDreamGo) in Guysborough, and learned all about the revitalization happening in the area. We found it really interesting that the town’s economy is being spurred by a new a brewery, distillery, and a coffee roaster (all of which just happen to produce three of my favourite types of beverages.)

After finishing our tour in Guysborough, we made our way over the causeway and left mainland Nova Scotia for Cape Breton. I couldn’t help but remark to Arienne that our trip was taking us further and further away from continental Canada, and that we wouldn’t be coming back (the way we came).

We were spending our first couple of nights on Cape Breton with our friend Abby’s parents, Ron and Barb. Barb asked us if we would meet her at the Lobster’s R’ Us (yes, that seriously is the name), and with a name like that, how could we refuse?  There we got to meet Arthur who is the bees-knees. Arthur is a pure as maple syrup Acadian lobster fisherman who proudly displayed “my baby”, a 12.5 lb lobster that is so big it requires its own area code. Arthur loves his baby so much. When asked what he planned on doing with her, he quietly mused, “I’m going to let her go.” But not before we nabbed a photo or two.

Lobster in Atlantic Canada
Arthur’s ‘Baby’, a 12.5 pound lobster!

Ate a wonderful lobster dinner, enjoyed a few tasty beverages, and then called her a night. Gotta love the fact that the house has no internet, no television, and you have to position yourself just right to get a text message in or out. In the age of hyper-connectivity, sometimes it’s nice to disconnect. Just… after I hear the score in the baseball game.

Total Kilometre Count: 5,816km


Aug. 2nd, 2016 (Day 37)

From: Grand River, N.S.
To: Grand River, N.S.
Activities: Exploring southern Cape Breton
Stayed: Barb and Ron’s Summer House

Ate a splendid breakfast featuring brook trout Ron had caught in his nearby secret fishing hole.

We drove around the southern area of Cape Breton checking out the beach at Point Michaude, hitting up St. Peters, eating clam strips, viewing Chapel Island, and finally taking in the epic vistas around Irish Cove and the stunning Lake Bras d’Or. By this time, which was only 3pm, we both were feeling pretty shot. This trip has been pretty go-go-go, so we thought we would cut off the eastern portion of our loop and head straight home.

The short cut home called for us to take Irish Cove Road, which interestingly enough exists on GPS but bears no name when you actually come to it. The road looked a little rough, but when Arienne said, “I don’t know if we should take this road,” I of course knew better and assured her, “it’s going to be fine”. After driving for a few minutes and passing the Irish Cove Quarry, Irish Cove Road ceased being a road and became more of a suggestion of a road, or a “car-trail” for lack of a better term. Essentially, it was a rocky, bumpy nightmare that threatened the integrity of Jane (our poor Civic) at every rotation of the wheels. We thought of turning around, but… there was nowhere to turn around. Seriously. Arienne checked the phone for a signal (just in case), but there was nothing to be found. Apparently no one hears you scream when you’re on Irish Cove Road. We looked out the windows for a sign of life only to find dozens of deer fly vampires buzzing poor Jane, waiting for her to expire and expose her succulent occupants. I felt sorry that I had dismissed Arienne’s concerns and that now we were going to die because of it.

Irish Cove Road, Cape Breton Island
Irish Cove “Road”

But we made it out and eventually arrived back at Barb and Ron’s place. Ate a delicious Seafood chowder and got a little work done before calling her a night.

Total Kilometre Count: 5,944km


Aug. 3rd, 2016 (Day 38)

From: Grand River, N.S.
To: Louisbourg, N.S.
Activities: Exploring Louisbourg Fortress, Occupying Louisbourg Fortress
Stayed: Louisbourg Fortress, Camping

Today we made our way over to the Louisbourg Fortress, another exquisite Canadian National Historic site. The Louisbourg fortress is a reconstruction (20% of walls, 25% of buildings) of the original fortress that was the epicenter of New France/Acadian mid-18th century trade and military. Today it is a living museum that really brings to life the rich history that exists here in Canada – a history that is far too often dismissed as being boring. The next time you start ragging on Canada’s boring history, you need to start planning a trip to the Maritimes.

Canadian National Historic Sites
An aerial view of Louisbourg Fortress.

Anyways, we spent most of the day capturing footage all around the fortress…

WE INTERRUPT this fascinating report to bring you Useless Though Charming Trivia.

Did you know that the difference between a fort and a fortress is that a fortress is a defensive structure that surrounds a village, while a fort is a defensive structure unto itself?

This concludes Useless Though Charming Trivia.

Okay. Tonight we camped in the fortress. Arienne and I. And no one else. The whole fortress. Just us. Incredible.

Seriously, you need to consider doing this if you ever come to Louisbourg. It costs $70 for fully equipped camping (other than sleeping bag), or you can spend $120 and sleep in the Rodrigue House which is an 18th century style home inside the fortress. But the kicker is that you become the sole inhabitants of the entire fortress for the night.

I had an amazing time. I cannot stress how seriously cool this is, probably because I secretly pretended that I was the fortress commander all night.

Boys and their toys eh!

Total Kilometre Count: 6,069km


 

Aug. 4th, 2016 (Day 39)

From: Louisbourg, N.S.
To: Baddeck, N.S.
Activities: Louisbourg Fortress 2.0
Stayed: Trailsman Motel

The bell struck one. The bell struck two. The bell struck three, and four, and five… and yup, that was the end of that sleep.

Love sleeping at the fortress, but the bell rings every hour and once every half hour. We were sleeping under the bell-tower. Once a little bit of light appears on the tent, and you know that the bell is going to ring in less than 30 minutes, you start to think about getting up.

That, or your wife wants to do a sunrise photo shoot. Let’s just go with that. What a good husband!

We moseyed around the fortress as all the workers came in, seeing a behind the scenes view of life at Louisbourg that probably will make a great video some day (ahem!).

By noon, it was off to Timmie Ho’s to try and figure out where we were staying tonight. What’s this? All of Cape Breton booked up. Everywhere? Seriously.

We did manage to book into the Trailsman Motel and upon checking in was told that I was the luckiest guy in Cape Breton. Apparently a technical glitch had allowed me to book a room that shouldn’t have been available and that when my booking was to be cancelled somebody just so happened to cancel their reservation.

Some people are lucky when they get a room with a view. Me? Well my luck got me a room with a smell. I would say that it was a unique mix of mothballs, mildew, a potpourri of body sweat, all spritzed with a charming cocktail of industrial cleaners that erred on the side of ammonia.

Should be a nice sleep tonight.

Total Kilometre Count: 6,229km


 

Aug. 5th, 2016 (Day 40)

From: Baddeck, N.S.
To: Birch Plain, N.S.
Activities: Diving (for a prop), Cabot Trail
Stayed: ZzzzMoose, cabin

Not really into the idea of passing on free food, but after I heard from a fellow guest that the continental breakfast room at the Trailsman Motel gets rammed with people, and considering the smell of our room, we weren’t about to herd in around the trough.

Yup… Timmie Ho’s.

We stopped by the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Museum in Baddeck, which if you’re like me and don’t believe Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, becomes somewhat of a moot point and may or may not leave a sour taste in your mouth (see Antonio Meucci or Elisha Gray).

After exiting the museum we made our way down to the waterfront of Baddeck to let Alice (the drone) out for a zoom or two. As her propellers began to wizz in anticipation of flight, one of them apparently got a little too excited and took off into the air. “Oooohhhhhh” both Arienne and I exclaimed as the prop soared up into the air and out over the lake before quietly plummeting into the waters of Bras d’Or. “That prop sleeps with the fishes” was my first thought, followed by… should I go in there to get it?

In Tristan went, and wouldn't you know it, he found the prop!
In Tristan went and wouldn’t you know it, he found the prop!

With my first real swim under my belt on this trip (yes, 40 days later) we headed out to begin our first day on the Cabot Trail. I am so pleased that Jane (the Civic) held her own on our first real climb, and has indeed been putting along rather admirably considering the troubles she had a little while ago. Had Alice out for another flight which nabbed us some pretty wicked shots.

Stayed at the ZZZZMoose Cabin, which is a pretty sweet little place to stay. Reminds me of an oTENTik, except it has plugs and our own bathroom. And certainly no smell. No smell is a good thing.

Total Kilometre Count: 6,378km


 

Aug 6th, 2016 (Day 41)

From: Birch Plain, N.S.
To: Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Ingonish side
Activities: Exploring the Park
Stayed: Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Ingonish Campground, oTENTik

Yes Jane, you do have to climb that mountain again.

We began the day by meeting our Parks Canada contact, Darlene, outside the Ingonish information center. There we set out a plan for the day to explore the east coast portion of the park. Wow, is there a lot to see.

We started at Ingonish beach where Darlene showed us the Park’s brand-spanking-new pilot project, “The Cocoon”. At first, you might think that it is the world’s largest marshmallow, but upon closer inspection you’ll find that it is an incredibly unique sleeping apparatus that is suspended in mid air in the middle of the forest. While we did a little photo shoot, an admirer of The Cocoon came by to show it off to her friends. One pondered aloud, “What do you do in it?” “You make the world’s largest s’more”. “You sleep in it,” Darlene informed.

Unique Accommodations in Canada
The Cocoon, the only one in Canada and fully booked for the season already!

*Note: The Cocoon, though in pilot stage, is completely sold out for the year. You won’t be able to get into it until next year. Trust me, we asked.

We then moved on to check out Mary Ann Falls which offers the option to pretend to be a tea bag and go for a dip in Orange Pekoe coloured waters. This was followed by a trip to the picturesque though breezy Green Cove, before finally finishing the day off at Black Brook beach.

Cape Breton Highlands National Park
Black Brook in Cape Breton Highlands National park

I know, it would be great if we had a photo of all of them, but have you ever tried uploading photos on National Park wifi? No disrespect, it is free (when available), and this is the wilderness after all.

We got to sleep in an oTENTik again. I am really liking these things. You simply must give them a try.

Total Kilometre Count: 6,474km


 

Aug. 7th, 2016 (Day 42)

From: Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Ingonish side
To: Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Cheticamp side
Activities: Hiking Franey Trail, Driving the Cabot Trail, Hiking Skyline Trail
Stayed: Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Cheticamp Campground, oTENTik

So… I am gassed. Probably should say, we are gassed.

I am writing this after a super long day that involved eating supper at about 10:30pm. “Why would you do such a thing?” you ask. Well…

  1. Three hour solid uphill hike of Franey Trail in 30-degree noon-time whether. Worth it! Amazing landscape shots of both valleys and the coast.
  2. 2 hour drive along the Cabot Trail, Ingonish to Cheticamp
  3. 2 hour hike of the Skyline Trail. Captured the most amazing sun set, despite tornado warnings for parts of Cape Breton.

    Cape Breton Highlands National Park
    Pre-gassed feeling along the Franey Trail.

As we were walking back along the Skyline trail, I blurted out an “Oh my god!” as we came into a clearing and saw a moose about 20ft away. If you have never seen a moose, they are HUGE, and with their antlers are extremely intimidating. This moose was perfectly happy munching away on highland foliage, and to that I say, munch-on moose, munch-on!

Cape Breton Highlands National Park
Don’t miss the Skyline Trail when you’re at Cape Breton Highlands National Park!

Anyways. It is super late now, and despite Kirk wanting warp 4, Scotty says, “I’ve given her all she’s got Captain!”.

This is your week 6 trip report.

Total Kilometre Count: 6,623km


Coming up for week 7 of the roadtrip: finishing the Cabot Trail, 16 hour ferry to St. John’s, and the start of our final leg of the trip in Newfoundland!

Missed any of Tristan’s previous trip reports? Check them out here: