July 26, 2017
Cape Breton sticks up like a thumb on the island of Cape Breton. If you follow the edge of the thumb, you outline the Cabot Trail. Using pretty dubious documents and circumstantial evidence, the folks of Nova Scotia claim that John Cabot, the other Italian explorer, landed here in 1497. It is more firmly established that he reached Newfoundland instead. It doesn’t really matter to me. What is important is that the Canadian government created the scenic road that we traveled on today.
There were stunning stretches along the coast and then some pretty average forest scenery. There was plenty of construction on the road. In fact, they gave as a pamphlet at the beginning to warn us of the 20 or so projects along the 60 mile section under repair. For the most part it was not too painful. It will be much nicer when finished.
I think our best stop was the beach where people were actually swimming. We both managed to get our legs wet. The water was about the same as Laguna in the summer.Not bad. The sun was shining and not a cloud in the sky. It was hard to believe we are this far north and so comfortable. Much better than yesterday’s rain and gloom.
The Cape Breton National Park consists of most of the thumb print. Interspersed are patches of private ownership. No real farms at this latitude. Instead there are endless craft shops near people’s houses. I guess they have all winter work on their creative efforts. We didn’t spot any wild life other that some sea birds and Canadian Geese. Oh there were some seals on the rocks.
My thesis is that the Scots control most of the thumb to the east and north. As you enter the Cabot Trail, you pass by the Gaelic college. This region is a hot bed of revivalist Celts. The road signs are in English on top and Gaelic below. I still have not idea how to pronounce the language. Evidently, the region was heavily settled with Highland Scots after the disaster at Culloden. In Scotland, the clans and tartans were banned and names like McKenney were changed to McKenzie for the convenience of English speakers. The clans were resurrected and revived on New Breton island. The locals brag that Scots return here to relearn their heritage. I don’t know about that, but I do know the Scots won the naming rights for mountains and rivers including McKenzie mountain and river. Peggy posed for her McKenney Mom.
On the west coast of this peninsula, the French reclaim the ascendency. The Acadians are alive and well. We enjoyed an Acadian dinner while listening to a ragin’ Acadian guitar trio. It was fun even with the 70ish aged Harley group from Massachusetts. It is one thing to be decked out in your Harley costume. It is another thing to order bottles of Bud Light and Coors Light and Iced Tea. It is enough to make a road warrior cringe. The restaurant venue was decked out with a wide range of hockey memorabilia as a sort of shrine. Quite impressive.
Not sure about the weather tomorrow, but today was great. We need to drive to the port city of Sydney and board the ferry to Newfoundland.