Friday, September 23, 2011

Sea to Sea Sept 20

 Prince Edward Island

Thursday, September 15th

Unfortunately, Confederation Bridge was shrouded in fog for most of our crossing and we saw only hazy outlines of the buildings and cliffs on shore.  We learned later that the river is fairly shallow where the bridge crosses - a very different proposition for what building a bridge crossing from Tsawassen to Vancouver Island would entail across the Salish Sea. 

In the afternoon, we headed to the coast and spent three hours hiking trails around the dunes and reserves in a provincial park.
We went first to an information centre in the village of Victoria to find out what to see and do on the island and there met an enthusiastic islander who set us up for an evening ceiladh in Charlottetown.  In the meantime, we roamed the lanes and byways around meadows and farms to Charlottetown itself. 

Having extracted all possible information about events, places to visit, and about the weekend weather from the very helpful woman at the Founders’ Hall information centre, we walked into town, arms full of more brochures, maps and lists. We felt very at home – an easy rural atmosphere without what seemed the compulsive neatness of the Gaspe.  Charlottetown had memorials and plaques on every corner and in every little park and we stopped to read them and got quite well acquainted with the story of confederation and the venerable personages, male of course, who presided over this uneasy alliance of colonies.  We also spent an hour going through an exhibition about confederation at Founders’ Hall.  This was a bit like walking through an audio diorama with voices coming out of a screen in the historically authentic furnished setting.  It would be nice if we could remember it all! 

The Legion:
In the evening we found the Legion and the ceiladh.  In Vancouver, a ceiladh involves dancing and Scottish music.  Here it meant a local band playing lively folk songs to the mainly balding and greying listeners gathered around tables.  The lead piano player/singer was terrific and it was fun to hear locally composed songs reflecting the politics and mores of the island as well as some familiar like a couple of Johnny Cash songs.

That night, on the advice of the Founders’ Hall agent, we parked in town at Walmart and then spent all the next morning in a coffee shop with wifi getting caught up (that was the last blog).  Had breakfast and a soup lunch there to justify taking up the table space for 3 hours!

Green Gables

Anne, of course!

One cannot go to Prince Edward Island without paying homage to LM Montgomery at the Anne of Green Gables site.  One of the three possible locations was sufficient for us but we enjoyed the video, the exhibits of photos and artifacts, Green Gables itself, refurbished as described in the book, and the trails nearby.  A very pretty and interesting place – well presented.
Anne's Lovers Lane

Ferry to Nova Scotia

Feeling we had seen and done enough to get the flavour of the island, we took the ferry for Nova Scotia and stayed in a campsite, Hyclass Camping, near the causeway leading to Cape Breton. 
Last view of PEI from ferry

"Hy Class" campsite

Cheiticamp Arcadian museum

We’ve been a bit concerned about our supply of propane.  Getting up in the morning is much pleasanter if the heater is on for a few minutes but we have been searching in vain for a propane supplier that is open – Sunday was hopeless – so brrrr in the mornings!
We drove up the east coast of Cape Breton to Cheticamp, just inside the National Park, and there found a delightful little Acadian museum.   The two women in attendance had lived in this tiny village all their lives and were accomplished at hooking rugs.  The main display was of these rugs, mostly done by another local woman in the 1930’s and onward who had won many awards for her art.
Also, however, were the usual artefacts of house and farm and forge, as well as examples of dress.  Seeing these, we were glad we had not detoured to another such museum on PEI since one exposure to the various implements satisfies our curiosity!
Cape Breton Highlands National Park

The Cabot Trail

A spectacular and heart-stopping drive today along the east coast, inland over the mountains across to the west coast and
north to the most northerly point in Nova Scotia at Meat Cove.  The road curved and swooped and plunged, with the sea on one side and wilderness on the other.  Apparently Lonely Planet recommends this drive as one of the world’s most beautiful and we certainly thought so.  There were frequent stopping points with lookouts and we couldn’t resist stopping at most of these since each afforded a new vista.
Beach at Corney Brook (NS) campsite

Corney Brook campsite

For the night, we drove a little further on to a park campsite at Corneybrook – no amenities but a lovely location by the beach & Richard went for a swim. J

Cape Breton Highlands National Park


Across the plateau of steep ravines to the west coast, we were lucky enough to see two moose at the side of the road. 

Wendy breakfast at John Cabot park (NS)

 We had a slap-up breakfast cooked outside on our Coleman – what a great purchase that was! at Cabot provincial park – another beautiful site by the beach.    

John Cabot landing commemoration

On road to Meat Cove

I really liked our breakfast spot and rather wanted to stay and walk the beach and sit around a bit but Richard persuaded me that we should go the whole way north and see Meat Cove, which promised to be spectacular as well.
It was.  The paved road wound up and down into little coves and fishing villages before turning into a less than regularly maintained dirt track/road.  We were reminded of Africa as we rattled our way over the washboard, shunted precipitously (in my opinion) close to the edge that dropped away who knows how far down to the rocks and roiling sea.  Going downward was quite frightening to yours truly – so steep and still juddering even at the lowest gear with brakes hard at work as well.  In Bolivia, Richard rode what was billed as ‘the world’s most dangerous road’ but we doubt it was worse than this one and on that too I was in the vehicle, the support vehicle it was called J.  There was no way to turn back, even if we had seriously contemplated doing so – the isolated houses and tiny hamlets along the way bore testament to the possibility of getting all the way to the end, so we kept going.
Of course, in the end, it was worth it. 
Meat Cove

Wendy swimming at Meat Cove

A few campers were set up at the end of the road overlooking the cove and the water lapping onto the beach looked so enticing and gentle, the wind a soft breeze, that I decided to have a swim.  The water was not as cold as we sometimes have it at Gabriola but quite chilly, nonetheless.   I had more than just a dip and it was lovely.  Richard came in as well but since he had already braved the St. Lawrence twice before, figured he did not have to stay in for long.

We met a traveller, hunter, canoeist from Tennessee who was gearing up to go into hills for a couple of nights.  A local guy advised him against such an adventure since moose hunting season has just started and the hunters will be out and there could be danger.  He pooh-poohed the idea, accustomed to the hillbillies who he said had never hurt him.

We, however, were not tempted to follow suit and drove off down and down and down to the more domesticated areas of coast
Wildlife! a barely visible frog? toad?

View from summit - gentle Cape Breton hike
 From Meat Cove south, we stopped to see a waterfall and later to climb up a few hundred metres to a lookout on a mountain before searching for our night’s resting place.
The trail

Cape Breton ski hill

Campsite - easy to get to and safe!
Having just remarked on how lucky we have been in finding good free spots, we turned up a promising road which curved round into a narrow track.  It was clearly not much used, a sign near the entrance warned that the bridge had been washed out, and foliage alongside was growing unrestrained into the road.  About a hundred yards in, however, we began to wonder if there were any clear, flat spaces into which we could move or even turn around.  Richard got out to inspect and shook his head.  We went on. Slowly.  As we began to descend toward the river, not visible ahead, but on our right through the birch trees, a figure emerged carrying a rifle, saw us and shrank into the bushes. 
We stopped.  He approached.  We asked about turning around.  He thought it unlikely.  We would have to back up.  There followed a somewhat harrowing but also hilarious candid camera encounter of us and the road and the shrubbery.  There was Wendy hanging out the window on one side screaming “too far my side” as the camper veered toward the edge of the steep gully and Richard battling on his side with branches and leaves poking at him through his window as he tried to see where he was going in the now half dark of this shaded track.  
Of course, we eventually got back to the beginning and carried on down the road, finding a simple private spot, just out of sight of the road, less than a kilometre away.  So, we stopped and made dinner of chowder we bought at Meat Cove and salad washed down with red wine.  After which, we watched another episode of The Kennedys.
Luxury J

Ferry to Newfoundland

September 20th

Our first priority was propane and we found that right away at Canadian Tire in North Sydney, the town from which the NFLD ferry leaves.  At Cdn Tire, Richard found out about a garage that deals with rust. Good news – they have a hoist and can deal with the rust in what sounds like a promising method.  We will go there on our return from Newfoundland.
Right now, we are waiting in the parking lot to embark.  The ferry was delayed four hours because of the weather.  But the delay and the wifi has given us time to catch up!

Next report: the pleasures of NFLD!

PEI Sand dunes - couldn't move the photo to right place so...

Richard swimming at Corney Brook (Cape Breton) - the evidence!


PEI beach & sea

1 comment:

  1. The moose seals the deal (that and Green Gables)! This is officialy on my trip list!