July 28, 2017
I am currently rocking gently in my seaman’ bunk while we are crossing the Gulf of St. Lawrence on our way to Newfoundland. We left Cheticamp in the French region of New Breton yesterday morning. Our original itinerary was to board the Newfoundland Ferry yesterday. I messed up and mischeduled our voyage and we left 24 hours late.
Actually, it turned out well in several ways. I’ll explain. We spend yesterday visiting sites not seemingly on a tourist agenda. First, in Baddeck, NS we toured the museum dedicated to Alexander Graham Bell, the telephone guy. He started as a speech teacher and managed to invent the indispensable phone along with a number of other later contraptions near his house in Baddeck. He moved there shortly after becoming very rich and spent his time financing experimental flying machines and high speed boats.
Our drives were short so we stopped at Sydney Mines. That is the name of the town. At one time it was a major coal and iron ore producer. That was good as the mines produced the raw material for the nearby Whitney Pier that at one time was known as the Pittsburg of the North. The old steel mill is no more and has been replaced by a green park for kids and families. They still burn coal for electricity but wind farms are replacing the not so clean coal. We visited a small museum dedicated to the steel makers. There seemed to be no nostalgia for the old days. The city of Sydney once attracted immigrants from Eastern Europe and elsewhere to make the steel. They are still there.
Back to yesterday. Once we found that our plans had changed, we had some time. We drove to the location where Marconi was able to transmit a radio signal to Ireland. Just the tower foundations remain but the Canadian Park service guys were informative. Somewhat strange that two giants of communication innovation would both pick Cape Breton Island for their work.I guess it was not so weird for Marconi since we can almost see Ireland from here.
We found a delightful B&B run by a couple who made their money by running a plumbing business in Laguna Hills, California. We had fun telling stories. Now they winter in Florida. The wife, Brenda was of French descent and born in Cheticamp where we were that morning. They recommended a restaurant called Mickey D’s. They assured us that the place had nothing to do with the Golden Arches. They were right. We enjoyed very good fish and chips. Really. The haddock tasted fresh despite its oily hot bath. We were joined by locals who also ate plenty of potatoes and few veggies. Canadian country folk like their deep fry, potatoes and more potatoes and bacon. This morning we filled ourselves with Brenda’s breakfast before finally heading to nearby Sydney.
We found the dock area where the cruise ships arrive and disembark the tourists that we have been encountering for the last couple of days. There is a forty foot tall steel fiddle on the wharf. Nobody could tell me why a giant fiddle was there. We checked with the information people to make sure we hadn’t missed anything. We were OK,except we did the little walking tour of the historic center. We enjoyed a lunch at the Governor’s Pub. In comparison to country grub, we were treated to a meal with greens and no potatoes. I guess they have the same issue with urban elites eating fancified foods.
We finally reached the que for the ferry. We were consigned to traveling sitting up for the 16 hour crossing. I did a Hail Mary and requested to be put on the cabin wait list. I figured that we had a snowball’s chance of getting one. We got into long discussions with a couple Newfounders about where the icebergs were going to be. I was happy to find that we probably won’t encounter one tonight.
We brought up our sleeping bags and inflatable pillows for the long ordeal. We were delighted when summoned to the reception. We had won the wait list lottery and were rewarded with a room. While not luxurious by cruise ship standards, we felt we were the luckiest people on the ship. We have a small bathroom and bunks with bedding. We are much better off than Pilgrims but not as fancy as the Titanic. Maybe I shouldn’t have made that reference.
Nice buffet style dinner. Peggy has her sea sick pills. The 600 foot ferry is rocking and rolling. Hopefully, I can post tomorrow from Newfoundland.