Saturday, September 17, 2011

Cape Breton Trip Part 1

Here are some notes from my trip to Cape Breton.

BTW, I have all of my pictures in a slideshow at the end of part 2 as well as an interactive Google map of my travels, I'm OK with you calling me geeky.

I've wanted to go camping this summer. Never mind that I'd never really camped before, or owned any camping equipment, I wanted to go camping, and hiking. In Cape Breton no less. Alone. Cape Breton has been on my bucket list for awhile as it is one of the only places in Canada I have yet to visit, that with Newfoundland, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

I borrowed all the camping gear from several people who were nice enough to volunteer to lend me their equipment. This included the tent, camping stove, pots, pans, coolers, loads of tourist information brochures and sleeping bag. I am proud to say that I already owned my own air mattress and flashlight :-).

I didn't have any clear plans to go just jump in the car and drive in the general direction of Cape Breton. I knew I couldn't make it one day so I thought I would probably stop in Edmunston first.

I left early in the morning to avoid the Toronto traffic and made my way to Edmunston. Traffic on the highway was OK  but slowed terribly at Montréal and Québec where there was construction everywhere. 

BTW you have got to love driving in New Brunswick, you can legally go 110km and get passed by the locals going at 140km. Did not spot any Moose except on the road signs. They must have known I didn't have any Timbits with me. OK so my first night was in Edmunston. My next goal was Chéticamp.


I wanted to get to Chéticamp and set up my tent but I arrived at Antigonish at around 4pm and did not want to end up setting camp in the dark. I stopped at Antigonish just because the name just rolls off the tongue nicely. Stayed at the Homeward Inn next to a McDonald's featuring McLobsters LOL. A stroll of the area revealed a beautiful university which made me want to go back to school again. When I checked in at the Inn the lady next to me said "my brother lives just down the street from you in Burlington". Freaky.

The next morning I drove over the Canso Causeway (they seriously need to update their website) and took the scenic route to Chéticamp.


Bonjour la visite!
Most people here speak English and French. They will say Hello/Bonjour and wait for you to reply so they can switch to whatever language you speak. Chéticamp has the charm of a little fishing village and is quite the tourist attraction. All of the streets were well kept and had little acadian flags on the light poles.

BTW One of the boats was called the Love Boat LOL.

I stayed and dined overnight at Laurie's. I had the sole stuffed w/crab with green beans, rice pilaf and an apple crisp for desert. It was one of 3 meals I ate out during the week.

I also visited Flora's a souvenir/craft shop to see what original creations I would bring home with me. Inside, there were two older women hooking. NOT what you think. They were hooking yarn in jute to create place-mats, rugs, coasters, and other things. The place mats were priced at $80 plus so I strolled to the coaster section and picked one up for $12. They also sold your typical souvenir stuff like Cape Breton t-shirts which I almost purchased until I saw they were made in Honduras. There was a nice funky tea cozy there as well but when I saw it had been made in Gravenhurst Ontario I laughed, making the ladies turn towards me. I made my way back to the Inn after a hasty retreat :P

Chéticamp to Ingonish

breakfast with the sunrise at La Bloc
The next morning I began by climb into the French Mountains. The trip to Ingonish would only take two hours but I stopped at every lookoffs so the trip pretty much took all day. My first stop was at La Bloc for breakfast of nuts, raisins, cranberry and fruitloops (AKA loopy mix) and watched the sun's rays come over the mountain. It was chilly in the morning so if you plan to go dress in layers.

The next pics are pretty much all either water, trees or sky cos that is all there was. Oh and there was a solitary red light in the middle of the trail so of course I had to take a picture of it. Only a selected few pictures made it here on the blog. You will find the entire set of pictures at the end of the post in a slideshow.

I met an interesting lady up in the mountains. Her name was (probably still is) Renadi or Renati. She was travelling/sleeping in her Volks taking pictures with an impressive camera. She told me that she takes tons of pics, downloads them to her computer with her notes then presents them to people who don't have the ability to travel like disabled people. Cool huh? Its also a very small world because she came from Toronto LOL.

Cap Rouge or Pleasant Bay?
I think the pic to the left is from Cap Rouge. It was a foggy morning but the sun was burning through the fog and it promised to be a nice drive. Renadi/ti made the exact same stops all the way to Cape North where she headed north to Cabot's landing. I never saw her again.

Did you know that there were fault lines in Cape Breton? I didn't either. I was wondering why some mountains were lined up and it turns out that the Cabot Trail crosses a fault line called Aspy Fault. Here is what the info board mentions.
its not my fault its Aspy's :-)
The Aspy fault runs inland for 40km southeast of this fracture in the earth's crust softer rocks eroded, leaving this steep escarpment. Long ago the Aspy fault may have been a continuation of the Great Glen fault (BBC video of that fault) in Scotland.  Landmasses collide or separate along faults. About 300 million years ago, the continents had drifted together forming a supercontinent Pangea. Cape Breton was pressed between Europe and Africa. A long period of fault movements pieced together the parts of Atlantic Canada. Faults dissect Atlantic Canada outlining where it rafted together. Most rivers and brooks in the park follow faults. (my pic of the fault at right)

The trail is winding and there are sharp inclines and declines. The maps suggest to use lower gears when descending to avoid burning out the brakes. Yikes! The highest point I believe is 457m in the North Mountain. Going downhill was fun. I have got to do this on a motorcycle. The next picture below was taken from the top of the mountain looking down at the road. Can you see me yell out zoom zoom zoom?

Zoom Zoom Zoom!
No surprise there was quite a bit of construction on the roads. The construction crews had their slow/stop signs out but since I wasn't in a hurry I didn't mind waiting. I had a chuckle over the only red light I encountered. I think it was solar powered with a battery backup. Yes my windshield is still cracked. I'm OK with it, it doesn't bother me in the slightest. I also decimated generations of mosquitoes and other bugs. I'm OK with that as well.

words fail me
The next stops were at Black Cove and MacKinnons Cove. Beautiful, quiet areas where the ocean meets the rocks. Yes the Ocean is damn cold if you want to know. I have officially dipped my feet in both Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and they are both damn cold!. At Green Cove there were some funky rocks with lines all over. There was also a nice Park guide person who was present to answer any questions and educate those that wanted to be educated. I strolled all over the rocks and came across another information board that explained how the lines got into the rocks.

follow the pink lines!
The rocks of Green Cove were once hot molten liquid. Here, dark grey gneisses (pronounced "nices") and pink and white granite were formed. The gneisses cooled and solidified quickly, forming fine-grained rock. The granites cooled more slowly creating larger crystals. You can see clear quartz, pink and white fieldspar and shiny black and white mica in the granite. Over time, these rocks cracked under the pressures of a shifting earth. Into the cracks flowed molten rock, creating the criss-cross pattern on the headland. These intruding rock lines, called dykes, are younger than the enclosing rock. Some dykes are older than others. Waves and sea ice continually war away Green Cove, building up the bordering beaches. Angular rocks, ground by centuries of wave actions are rounded into cobblestones. Further grinding produces sand. Waves and currents deposit cobbles in shallow inlets along the coast and sand in sheltered coves. 

After leaving Green cove I finally made my way to Ingonish.

Stay tuned for part 2 where you will be entertained by my adventures in Middle Earth, Warren Lake, and the tale of the sad muffler.

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