Monthly Archives: August 2014

Cape Breton Highland National Park – Part III

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We Made It! – Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Today, we’re moving to Broad Cove Campground in Ingonish NS on the eastern side of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. It’s a 60 mile drive on the Cabot Trail around the northern end of the park. This route has multiple long grades of 13% going both up and down. 13% means the road changes elevation by 13 feet for every 100 feet traveled. In other words, it’s steep and scary.

To make matters worse, it’s raining and low hanging clouds have fogged in the road at higher elevations. There’s lots of bicyclers on the Cabot Trail this morning. I read somewhere that the Cabot Trail is one of the top 10 best bicycling destinations in the world. As I pass them on the uphills, I look at them on this rainy, foggy morning and think they must be crazy. They’re probably looking at me towing a huge trailer and thinking the same thing.

Not an ideal day to tow the Airstream around the Cabot Trail. Crazy bicyclers are out this morning too.

Not an ideal day to tow the Airstream around the Cabot Trail. Crazy bicyclers are out this morning too.

We arrive no worse for wear. The drive took us about 3 hours, including time for a lunch break and multiple pull overs to let other cars pass.

Seals – Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sun’s out so it’s a perfect day to get outside and do some exploring. We also need to do laundry and a fellow camper tells us there’s a nice laundromat in Neil’s Harbor just north of here.

As we drive up the Cabot Trail, we see a park ranger with a spotting scope at the Lakies Head scenic overlook. We pull over. “Are you seeing whales?”, I ask her.

“Not today.”, she replies. I ask her if there’s a trick to spotting them. “If you see diving birds, that means there’s fish which can also attract whales. And if you see a whale sightseeing boat stopped in the water, that’s a sure sign.” I used these same tricks when fishing off the western coast of Florida in my previous life.

She can see the disappointment on my face about no whales so she adds, “We’ve got seals over in the cove.”

Cindy grabs the binoculars and I get my camera and tripod. We head down to the viewing platform in search of seals.

Cindy searches for seals at Lakies Head.

Cindy searches for seals at Lakies Head.

Cindy and Eddie spot the seals.

Cindy and Eddie spot the seals.

Eddie wants a closer look.

Eddie wants a closer look.

The seals come to surface every 10 minutes or so to catch their breath. They’re either Harbor Seals or Grey Seals. All seals look alike to me.

Like the moose from the previous post, this seal is looking right at me.

Like the moose from the previous post, this seal is looking right at me.

Video of Harbor (or Gray) Seals at Lakies Head Cove:

After an hour of watching seal entertainment, we continue north to Neils Harbour.

Neils Harbour on the Atlantic side of Cape Breton.

Neils Harbour on the Atlantic side of Cape Breton.

There’s a working lighthouse at the harbor’s entrance which also serves as the town’s ice cream parlor.

Ice Cream Lighthouse in Neils Harbour.

Ice Cream Lighthouse in Neils Harbour.

We can’t find the laundromat. Cindy rolls down her window to ask an elderly couple. Turns out they’re from St. Petersburg FL just down the road from where we used to live. They have a house in Neils Harbour for the summer months.  It really is a small world.

What a great place to live during the summer!

What a great place to live during the summer!

Maybe Cindy and I should buy a Neils Harbour fixer-upper and live here in the summer as well.

Maybe Cindy and I should buy a Neils Harbour fixer-upper and live here in the summer as well.

We find the laundromat. It’s on the outskirts of town in the same building as the volunteer fire department. They have a basketball court to the side. While Cindy does the laundry, I shoot some hoops as Eddie chases the ball around the court.

Friday Night in Ingonish, August 22, 2014

To the south of our campground at Broad Cove, lies the town of Ingonish. It’s just a few minutes away and is where we buy groceries and diesel fuel. The Keltic Lodge is on the south side of Ingonish and sits atop the Middle Head peninsula along with the Highland Links golf course. The lodge and golf course are part of the National Park and are absolutely gorgeous. If I lived here, I’d have to take up golf again. Click here for more info.

We hike the loop trail out to the end of Middle Head. The trail starts and ends at the Keltic Lodge and provides scenic views of the North Atlantic and the town of Ingonish.

One of the many scenic overlooks from the Middle Head Loop Trail at the Keltic Lodge.

One of the many scenic overlooks from the Middle Head Loop Trail at the Keltic Lodge.

It’s Friday evening so we head back to Ingonish to walk along the beach. Lots of locals are out this evening, many with dogs. Some teenagers from near-by Sidney NS recommend we try the Seagull Restaurant. Everyone we meet from Canada is so nice and polite.

Town of Ingonish contains all the basics plus quite a few inviting restaurants.

Town of Ingonish contains all the basics plus quite a few inviting restaurants.

Shoreline along the harbor at Ingonish with the North Atlantic in the distance.

Shoreline along the harbor at Ingonish with the North Atlantic in the distance.

No pleasure boats in Ingonish Harbor. The Keltic Lodge and golf course are located on Middle Head peninsula, the lower landmass in the in the background. The higher landmass is Cape Smokey further to the south.

No pleasure boats in Ingonish Harbor. The Keltic Lodge and golf course are located on Middle Head peninsula, the lower landmass in the in the background. The higher landmass is Cape Smokey further to the south.

Locals gather for a Friday night bonfire and picnic on the beach at Ingonish harbor.

Locals gather for a Friday night bonfire and picnic on the beach at Ingonish harbor.

As our farmer friend in Massachusetts used to say, “It’s comin’ ahn winaah” so it’s time for us to head south. We had wanted to take the ferry to New Foundland but ran out of time. The 8 hour crossing requires some planning and would have cost about $800-$1,000 for the round trip. Besides, we’d like to go in June to see the icebergs floating down from Greenland. New Foundland is now on our must-see list.

We’ll be leaving Cape Breton on Sunday and head south to Halifax. We’ve been here 2 weeks and Cape Breton is now our new favorite place since we left St. Pete FL back in April. Next time I have an Internet connection, I should check out the local real estate.

 

 

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