You know you are living in paradise when you struggle with the idea of going away on vacation….but we did….for five days!
In our past life we would have thought five days was not nearly enough….one week either….two weeks minimum would have been needed to re-balance and re-set our stress levels. Now five days seemed like too much…but we did it.
Fall in Nova Scotia is really the best season. The air is fresher with a slight chill and the changing colours bring ‘leaf peepers’ by the bus load.
We had a couple of reasons to take a break from R.E.D. by the Sea. Francois had never travelled the Cabot Trail and neither of us had visited Fort Louisbourg. Next year the plan is to trailer R.E.D. to sail the Bras d’Or Lakes so we wanted to scope out marina locations in advance. And what better time to visit than Nova Scotia’s best season.
We were not disappointed!
I had made a wish list of things to see, one of which was a stop in Antigonish to visit Peace by Chocolate. You can read all about this heart-warming success story here. What better way to support a local business than to purchase their delicious chocolates for gifting.
It was difficult not to stop at every fence post to take pictures of the stunning colours but we resisted. There would be many more ahead of us.
Many of the signs in Cape Breton are bilingual. English/Gaelic, because of a large Celtic population and English/French because of many French speaking communities as well.
Free range critters were abundant along the way, both wild and domestic.
Cape Breton is also rich with artisans and very talented unique crafters. We stopped at a few looking for that perfect souvenir.
I had just one criterion for choosing our accomodations while away: a room with a view. Each one a vista of colour and salt water.
The route was a series of nail biting curves ( at least for me the acrophobically challenged) with hair pin turns that wound through the highlands.
From time to time we would encounter those less fearful. Sitings of extreme sports enthusiasts on road skiis and bicycles careening down the steep inclines were frequent.
When visiting the Cabot Trail, viewing in perfect weather is 50/50….a toss of the dice. Sometimes you could be socked in with fog, sometimes clear blue skies all the way. Throughout our five days we were lucky to have a mixture of sun, rain and fog which made for some interesting photography.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a variety of colours. So many shades of reds, oranges and yellows intermingled with the eternal greens.
The hills were definitely alive with the energy of the season.
No matter where you are in Nova Scotia you are never more than sixty-seven kilometres from the ocean and because it draws us like a magnet, we always seem to gravitate toward the shore.
Ingonish Beach was a must see stopping point with waves crashing the shore.
Side trips of hiking trails were the perfect way to stop, take a break, breathe in the salt air and get a little exercise. Some of the trails were closed though because, as the agent at the park entrance said, some tourists had upset the wildlife and the moose were retaliating.
Our route took us along the Mira River and Marion Bridge bringing back memories Anne Murray and her “Song for the Mira”.
Our final stop was Fort Louisbourg, a Parks Canada site. Along the road toward the entrance were the two iconic red chairs placed in so many Parks Canada locations across the country.
“Whether it’s a place to rest after a leisurely stroll or to cheer your successful completion of a strenuous hike, the red chairs offer a place to slow down, to relax and to truly discover the best that Parks Canada has to offer.”
Louisbourg Harbour was once a lake but with the rising waters it is now officially the entrance into the town of Louisbourg.
I won’t go into details here but if interested you can read more about the very interesting history of the fort here
We pretty much had the place to ourselves. One of the guides gave us a personal tour with tons of information about the fort’s history and their plans for future changes. He was also an exceptional photographer proudly showing us images he had taken during special events at the fort.
There were moments of silliness with Francois chanelling his inner Harry Potter…muggle!
We couldn’t leave without walking along the rocky shore past the fort to search for bits of unique driftwood.
Our last supper and last night in Cape Breton was spent with Brenden and Nathan, owner and chef of a charming restaurant in Louisbourg. Actually it was the only restaurant open, as being a mainly tourist town, many businesses had closed for the season. Even if there had been other dining options it would have been sad to miss this experience.
The decor was quirky with old doors fronting the bar, rough barn board cladding the walls, interesting local art lining the walls and Brenden was so entertaining. We sank into comfy leather chairs in what Brenden called his living room and sipped a glass of chilled local wine while Nathan threw together for us the most delicious fish stew with homemade biscuits.
Final on my must visit list was a stop at the much photographed beach, Melmerby, then we headed back to our dear R.E.D. by the Sea, loaded with treasures and so many great memories.
So there you have it, another adventure completed for the crew of three: Captain Francois, Communication Officer and Galley Kat, and First Mate Major Pig.
We weren’t totally distracted by the Cape Breton beauty and hospitality though and did find the perfect location to launch R.E.D. into the waters of the Bras d’Or Lakes next year.
For those who prefer to read our story in French, please forgive the automatic translation