North Sydney, NS (Sep 14/19) – The internationally famous Cabot Trail that snakes it’s way up & around the hilly terrain on Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island is calling… a beautiful sunny day, no rain, warm wind and blue skies… the road ahead is beckoning, inviting N&J onwards & upwards 🙂
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Small petite communities dot the western coast of Cape Breton, gorgeous ocean views of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, tiny harbours with fishing boats & huts abound. It was here that N&J found the best ‘freestyle camp spot’ to date… Margaree Bay. Set beside a small respite from the ocean, protected behind a breakwater built over a hundred years ago, it was just a turn-around big enough for 5 ‘small vehicle’ over-nighters. Nearby a path over the sand dune to a spectacular view of the water & impending sunset. N&J were excited to meet a delightful young couple from New York State who had just left everything behind to venture in their van for the next year… hosting them in Hobbes for a perfect evening of sharing wine and stories into the wee hours of the morning.
Well rested after a beautiful night listening to the wind blow & the waves crash onto the shore, it was off to the north, to climb the Cabot Trail as it meandered up the hills. The season starting to change, the trees showcasing their autumn hues of yellow, orange and glimpses of red… a reminder of what is to come (the visual feast of fall).
As Hobbes rounded the most northerly projection of the ‘trail’ and headed east then south, the roadway becoming significantly more treacherous. Skinnier driving lanes with sharp drop-offs and no edges for escaping, winding back & forth, the grades stiffened to 13% descent making for a ‘bit of a white knuckler’ (for some). Apparently there is a suggestion to travelers to drive ‘west to east’ so they are on the inside of the turns (towards the mountain) to lessen the thrill (or horror) of this particular drive. Drivers familiar of British Columbia’s mountain highways (ie. Fraser Canyon) would probably wonder what all the fuss is about.
Concentrating on the road and taking in the stunning scenery instigates a serious appetite. The ‘Coastal Restaurant & Pub’ near Ingonish NS, earning a spot on the “You Gotta Eat Here” TV food network, the roadside advert was enough to bring the van to a fast stop, time for some grub. Wanting everything on the menu but finally settling on the most delicious crab dip, lobster clubhouse, and the “Big Lebowski” burger topped off with pints of chilled beer, N&J concur that you gotta eat here!
As good fortune would have it, N&J found another ‘freestyle’ stop on the downside of the ‘trail’, just past the restaurant… Perched about 20 metres above the ocean, unsurpassed view to the east, a remarkable place to setup camp for the night. A rare spectacle on Friday the 13th, the brilliant ‘Harvest Moon’ rising on the horizon, Again the ocean lulled the ‘3 amigos’ to sleep, peaceful, cool breeze… ‘Good Night Jesse’ (meow!!!).
There is no morning, day, or early adventure worth it’s time unless ‘all is clean’ to start the new day. With perfect positioning, curtains drawn, toiletries aligned, and coffee on the back trailer (Calvin), the most decadent hot shower is met in all it’s glory. Grinning from ear to ear, happy to have all the pits and bits singing, N&J eager to start their day with a invigorated jump in their step…
J realizing the importance of daily clean hair for N, diligently set forth this past summer to make this dream a reality… to build the first hot water on demand shower in a Westfalia- adorned with a Westfalia curtain and all!! Great job J!!!!!
Before heading off to Newfoundland, they decided to take advantage of the gorgeous sunny day, so off they go to the Fortress of Louisbourg – WOW!!!! This Parks Canada Heritage Site is beyond words. A re-creation of the 1700’s French fort, which was built & rebuilt by France during the turbulent times with Britain. The British attacked this placement many times… the French finally relinquishing… and unfortunately left in ruins.
Jesse accompanying his ‘slaves’ in his go-kart also witnessed life as it was in the Fort… french maids tending the gardens and flock of sheep, bakers stoking the hot wood ovens making 150 loaves for the soldiers, blacksmiths clanging away on their hot steel, and infantry cleaning their long rifles… over 3+ hours without a peep, taking everything in (no sleep, no cat naps, just in awe of all that was before him).
The day was capped with dinner at the Lobster Pound & Moore restaurant in North Sydney, NS. The experience was an evening of foodie delight that still lingers in the senses. Lobster and clam chowder to perfection with the white wine pairing. Interacting with the owners and securing a night in the driveway was a perfect ending before their morning departure to Newfoundland!