On a whim we decided to visit Quebec City, a Unesco World Heritage Site. The architecture, the cobblestone streets, and the surrounding ramparts give this city on the hill a distinctive European charm, even on a very rainy day.
A boat ride on the St. Lawrence River, narrated perfectly in both French and English, provided wonderful perspectives about the people, their history, and this place they call home. Dominating the skyline is the Chateau Frontenac, a hotel that has been in operation since 1883.
The turnaround point for the boat was near Montmorency Falls. At 272 feet, this waterfall is 99 feet taller than Niagara Falls.
We spent the next day at The Plains of Abraham outside the city walls, where gardens, museums, and historical sites are enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. Our visit to the Joan of Arc Garden found artists and children sharing this space that’s flanked by rows of beautiful Elm trees.
The Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec offered a contemporary face, as well as a traditional one, both inside and out.
This rooftop sculpture blended perfectly with the neighboring spires.
In case all this may entice you to consider moving here, just remember that the average winter temperature is 0ºF, and snowfall is around 150 inches. It’s so cold that the river freezes all the way to Montreal, and icebreakers like the one below are used to keep the passage open.
One of the reasons we stuck close to home this summer was Russ’ golf league. I thought I’d really scored when I found a campground that was attached to a golf course. Unfortunately, they didn’t have clubs to rent, but Russ never let a little snag like that spoil a good time. He played nine holes, commenting on each shot as we went along.
About the time the Acadians were being kicked out of Nova Scotia, Scottish Highlanders were leaving their country in droves and coming to (you guessed it) Nova Scotia. They particularly liked Cape Breton, with the land and weather very much like their beloved Highlands. Gaelic is alive and well here, home to the only Gaelic College in North America that also houses a museum and offers daily demonstrations of Gaelic culture.
One Scotsman who eventually settled here was Alexander Graham Bell, whose earliest passion was teaching the deaf. His fascination with sound eventually led him to quit his job so he could concentrate exclusively on experiments involving sound. Clearly a visionary, his aptitude for invention was fortified with unbridled imagination that led to a spectrum of patents.
The local Parish Hall in Baddeck hosts Cape Breton musicians every night during good weather, and last night we were lucky enough to get the last two seats. We tried to go back again tonight, but it was sold out. Ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee) is Gaelic for gathering.
With words like hazy and light rain in the forecast, we decided to hit the 185-mile Cabot Trail while the sun was still shining. Well, at least it was shining when we left our campsite.
One thing we’ve noticed and appreciated in our US National Parks is the conditions of the roads. Many have recently been resurfaced, and are a pleasure to drive. I’m afraid we can’t say the same for the roads here. There was quite a bit of construction, and the parts that weren’t under construction needed to be. We were happy that Ollie was safely tucked away in a campsite near Baddeck.
The Cabot Trail is known for it’s beautiful vistas, and we got some very nice looks along the way. To the east of Cape Breton lies the Atlantic Ocean, and to the west, the Gulf of St Lawrence.
And we met some interesting people, like Barbara Longva of Sew Inclined who designs and makes amazing hats.
At the end of the day, the sun reappeared long enough to splash some colors across the Gulf of St. Lawrence skies. (If you’d like to see a larger version, just click on the photo.)
I’ve always envisioned Yarmouth as a bustling port city, so was surprised to find it’s essentially a one street town.
Nancy had a plane to catch in Portland, so we put her on the 8 a.m. high speed ferry for the 5½ hour crossing.
Russ and I drove out of town, hoping to find a strategic place to see her leave port and hit the open sea. A dirt road led to a footpath to what we think is the Bunker Island lighthouse. Perfect timing and perfect location!
We turned our sights north toward Cape Breton Island, stopping for a restful overnight at Dollar Lake Provencial Park along the way. Love the small island, complete with picnic table, next to the swimming beach.
“This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks, bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight, stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic…” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
When Longfellow wrote his epic 1847 poem, Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie, it galvanized the Acadian people who had been exiled from their homeland, now known as Nova Scotia. Because they wished to remain neutral and refused to pledge their allegiance to the British crown, “The Great Expulsion” of 1755 forced 10,000 Acadians to seek refuge in Europe, New England, the Caribbean, and Louisiana (where “Acadians” morphed into “Cajuns”). While living in this area, they developed and implemented an ingenious system of dykes that desalinated the rich soil deposited from the Bay of Fundy. Today The Landscape of Grand Pré, a Unesco World Heritage site, tells their story.
We’re camped by a beautiful stream near the village of Mahone Bay.
This tidy town lured us in for the day as we poked in and out of shops, admired the architecture, and treated ourselves to some of the creamiest ice cream we’ve ever had. (Try the Dark Chocolate Salty Caramel!)
Russ’ bike was in need of a small but important repair, and Sweet Ride Cycling came to the rescue with same day service.
Artistic, whimsical touches adorn even the utility poles.
The three side-by-side churches are one of the ten most photographed spots in Nova Scotia. We thought the crane added a nice touch.