May 9–June 26, 2015


    We left home on May 9 in our motorhome towing the Rav4 behind. We arrived in Milton, MA in time for grandson Griffin’s graduation ceremonies at Boston University. Two days later we drove to Halifax, NS where we stayed with friends for three days, then traveled through the province for about two weeks, seeing most of the coastal areas and Cape Breton (Part of Nova Scotia). We took the ferry to Newfoundland on June 8, traveled the western portion of that province from Port aux Basques on the south coast to St Anthony at the northern tip and returned to Nova Scotia eight days later. After a major repair to the RV in North Sydney, we left Nova Scotia and drove to visit friends in New Hampshire and back to Milton in time for Father’s Day and left for Colorado a few days later.
    [Note: It’s appropriate that we begin writing this account of our on Canada Day, July 1, which marks the anniversary of the joining of the colonies of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick with the Province of Canada in 1867. Newfoundland was a British colony until the British government granted it Dominion status in 1907. Labrador had long been an area in dispute between Quebec and Newfoundland; the British government, in 1927, ruled that Labrador was considered a part of Newfoundland. The people of Newfoundland voted for confederation with Canada in 1949.]
    Our cross-country trip began during a week of terrible weather stretching from the Rockies to New England. We were almost constantly buffeted by strong winds, rain, and threats of nearby tornado activity along I-80 through Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut and ending in Massachusetts. It’s about 2000 miles from here to there and with a small car in tow it took five driving days to make what could be a three-day trip in a car in good weather. 
    Griffin is our first grandchild to graduate from college and we wanted to be there to see the ceremonies. Both Griffin and his sister, Julia (who will graduate from BU next year) have family ties to the University: Hughes’s uncle, Dr. Edgar Baker, taught in the BU School of Medicine for most of his professional life before retiring in the 1980s. Hughes earned his Master’s degree there in the School of Education (1965). Our daughter took post-University of Michigan classes there and later was hired as Assistant Director of Admissions for the College of Engineering for three years; whe was later named Co-Director of Freshman Advising for two years, also for the College of Engineering; after the grandchildren were born she read applications for the university for 5-6 years.

    We attended two graduation ceremonies: the Department of Classical Studies held a department ceremony for the 20 or so students graduating. Faculty members took turns speaking about each student. The Department Chair, Dr. Anne Vasaly (with Griffin on left), described Griffin’s experiences since transferring to BU for his last two years (he transfered from Wake Forest) and praised his academic abilities (he graduated summa cum laude with a major in Ancient Greek and Latin). She is also the person who recommended him for the study program in Rome last year. There was a reception after the ceremony for students and family and faculty. It was a memorable experience that few university students have. 
 budde family
    Two days later BU held its all-university ceremony for an audience of 25,000 family and friends of the thousands of students representing all the colleges and departments. As was true in Hughes’s graduation in 1965, students filed into Nickerson Field—held outside in beautiful weather—to witness the pomp and ceremony of famous people receiving honorary degrees, (Meredith Vieira was an excellent choice as the principle commencement speaker) and filed out within the two-hour time frame. Very well organized. Post commencement family photos were taken in front of Marsh Chapel. (Griff with Dan, Debra, and Julia on right)
    Monday morning after the Sunday graduation, Griffin was up and off to work for the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, proof that a degree in Classical Studies can lead directly to a job, though how his years of studying Latin and Ancient Greek languages and history, including a semester of study in Rome, put him on the fast track for a state government position is not entirely clear. (In fact, his responsibilities in the position were, when we were there, not entirely clarified). However, it is clear to us, proud grandparents that we are, that his college career taught him to write clearly, think critically, and communicate effectively. Plus, he could always go back to Rome and lead English-speaking tours.

    About 40 years ago or more, we took an extended family road trip through Ontario, Quebec, the Gaspé, Prince Edward Island,and New Brunswick’s Bay of Fundy. We towed a tent trailer and camped along the way. Time prevented us from including Nova Scotia on our itinerary, but we talked about coming back some time and visiting there, and maybe even Newfoundland and Labrador. This was the summer to make that return trip. 
•Boothbay Harbor, Maine
    We left the Milton and drove up the coast through Portsmouth, NH, Portland, ME and then on US 1 along the Maine coast to our first nights stop in the Boothbay Harbor area. We chose Gray Homestead Oceanfront Camping in Southport for the oceanfront location. However, we made a careless selection: the road into the campground was torturous and under construction, our site did not offer an ocean view, it was nearly impossible to level the rig, the trees were dense as were the insects. What a dreary, dumpy place.
St Andrews CG
    Back on US 1 in the morning to Bangor, we then drove east to Calais via State Highway 9, shorter in miles than going north to Houlton, but longer due to road conditions and small towns to drive through. However, we crossed into New Brunswick and found an unexpected nugget in the charming village of St Andrews and a lovely campground, Island View Campground in Bayside, a few miles from St Andrews where we could really see the ocean. In fact, we camped right next to it. 
•St Andrews, New Brunswick

    The village of St Andrews is one of Canada’s outstanding historic villages, packed with 19th century houses and buildings (some of which were floated up the coast from Castine, ME on barges); the remarkable Algonquin Hotel, museums, an aquarium, public garden, nature center, galleries and other gift shops. The woman at the visitor’s center was knowledgeable and enthusiastic about her town and provided us with a map and suggested walking tour. We would love to go back and could easily spend several days exploring.
    We left St Andrews, picked up Highway 1 through Saint John, Moncton, crossed into Nova Scotia (there is an excellent Welcome Center at Amherst) through Springhill (home of singer Anne Murray and site of the “Big Bump” in 1958 in the Cumberland Mine, one of the country’s great coal mining disasters), Truro, and finally to Herring Cove, a suburb of Halifax, where we were welcomed by Gary Redding and Linda Gardner with whom we made friends at Desert Trails in Tucson. We parked in their driveway, plugged in the rig, and spent the next three days enjoying their company, especially Gary’s cooking, and seeing the sites in the area. 
  Halifax Waterfront

    Halifax was established by the forceful invasion of British forces and settlers in 1749 who ousted the Mi’kmaq, Acadians, and French who lived there. Edward Cornwallis promptly built one of the prominent features of the city, The Citadel, as a fortress to defend the few imported British settlers and soldiers. This imposing fortification is a destination for many tourists. There is much more to see and do in the bustling city: the new public library is beautiful and centrally located; the waterfront is a pedestrian-friendly smorgasbord of shops, restaurants, and bars; the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic (worth the entrance fee); the 265-year-old Farmers’ Market (dreary and lifeless the morning we were there); next door is the Canadian Museum of Immigration. Human and automobile traffic was bustling—people in a hurry to get someplace and do things. There are many websites and tourist centers that can suggest how you might spend a day in the city, but one day is enough, at least for us. There is so much to see out of town along the southern coast for us to spend more than a single day in the city.
Peggy's LighthousePeggy’s Cove 
    Twenty-six scenic miles down Route 3 from downtown Halifax is said to be one of the most photographed fishing villages in the Maritimes. On the edge of Saint Margaret’s Bay (named by Champlain after his mother says one legend) are a scattering of older houses, the much-photographed Peggy’s Point Lighthouse, and about 650 residents who are likely never there at the same time. The day we visited the weather changed several times, going from rain, to drizzle, to hail, to sunshine, and always windy. We were happy to find great chowder at the Sou’wester Restaurant where we sat for lunch in the warmth of the building and watched the rain and hail plow against the windows overlooking the lighthouse and cove.
•Terance Bay and Prospect
    Just a few miles away on another point of land sticking out into the ocean are the fishing villages of Terence Bay and, a little farther on, Prospect, the less notable of the two. Skip it and instead spend time in Terance Bay, site of the several shipwrecks, notably the RMS Atlantic disaster that killed 535 people in 1873. The small, but well organized museum has historical documents and photographs that tell the story of the wreck and of the heroic efforts of the residents who saved 371 men from the ship. All 156 women passengers perished and all but one of the 189 children were lost. (Could this have prompted the motto of the sea: “Women and children first”?) It is quite a story and the museum is well worth the visit.
    Just down the hill on the shore is the site of the mass grave for the bodies brought up by divers from the wreckage. There are separate monuments at the Terance Bay Anglican Church and at the Catholic cemetery.
Shore Club 
    A little further south on the Aspotogan Peninsula is the former fishing village of Hubbards, now a popular tourist destination. It is located on Highway 103 and has an easy entry to the rails to trails bike path that parallels the coastline. We returned with our bikes and rode around the scenic Aspotogan Peninsula to Blandford (See Judy below with bike at Blandford). Before we left the Halifax area, we returned to Hubbards to treat our hosts to a classic lobster dinner at the famous Shore Club in Hubbards: a whole lobster plus an unlimited salad bar, unlimited servings of mussels, potato salad, and desert (and a price you won’t choke on). 
•East River
    Located officially in Hubbards, but really on a wide place in the road along Route 3 known as East River on maps, is the award-winning Trellis Café. This modest establishment serves inventive and freshly made pastries, pasta and seafood dishes. However, Hughes thought their coffee was so outstanding that he asked the waitress what it was. She returned with a package of organic Sumatra beans, dark roasted, that they purchase from Costco in Halifax. In fact, it may be a Kirkland/Costco brand. We looked for it at our Costco here at home but couldn’t find any. It was the very best coffee of the entire trip. It’s worth the half hour drive from Halifax to enjoy a cup. 
Blandford Biking 
    Next in the string of coastal villages, Chester seems to be an up and coming destination for trendy art galleries in a quiet, easily accessible location that may be best known for The Fo’c’sle, an old-world style pub with a good beer selection and tasty chowder. 
•Mahone Bay
    Another picture post card village was founded on shipbuilding, principally wooden boats which are celebrated each year by a wooden boat festival. Today Mahone Bay welcomes tourists from all over who come to walk the streets, visit interesting shops (especially, the three stories of fabrics, quilts, rugs, clothing, and other items for the home at Suttles and Seawinds); watch pewter jewelry and gifts being made at the Amos Pewter store; or eat in one of the trendy cafes and restaurants along the main street. As we approached the town we noticed the three churches, Anglican, Lutheran, and Trinity United that rise above the bay. Like the lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove, these three churches are frequently photographed for calendars and postcards. If we ever go back, we would be sure to revisit Jo-Ann’s Deli Market and Bake Shop at the crossroad of Edgewater and Main Street.
  Mahone Bay
    We saved this historic town for our first stop upon leaving Halifax. We thought there would be lots to see and do. Lunenburg was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO to protect its unique architecture; it is also considered to be the best example of planned British colonial center in Canada. Like Halifax, the British unilaterally established Lunenburg to displace the indigenous Mi’kmaq and the earlier French Catholic settlers and develop a protestant colony. By 1753, they succeeded.
    Today Lunenburg is known as a shipbuilding center and the home port of Bluenose II, a replica of the famous fishing and iconic racing schooner of the 1930s which is portrayed on the Canadian dime and, recently, on Nova Scotia license plates.  
Bluenose II
    The town’s Board of Trade runs a visitor’s center and an attractive campground just a short walk above the center of town. The walk to town took us by many carefully maintained historic homes. As we wandered through the town we sampled some of the brandies and liqueurs at the Ironworks Distillery, visited the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, photographed the magnificent St. John’s Anglican Church, went by dozens of studios and galleries. The Lunenburg Academy (a public school) building is especially dramatic, standing on “Gallows Hill” overlooking the town since 1895. It is the only intact 19th century academy in Nova Scotia. The Bluenose II is docked at the colorful waterfront. Of the dozens of places to eat in the area, we were quite pleased to choose the Salt Shaker Deli, a block off the water where seafood and pizza are popular, the beers are cold, and the chowder is excellent. 
    [Note: We saw how World Heritage status dramatically changed—we think for the worse—the Italian hill town of San Gimignano. Thousands of tourists daily may be good for businesses, but mobs destroy/change the charm and soul of the town forever. It could happen to Lunenburg, so hurry and visit before it changes.]
•Kejimkujik National Park
Shore of Lake Keji 
    North and inland from Lunenburg the landscape turned to farming and lumbering. There were few vistas like those we had enjoyed along the coast. Forests blocked much of the scenery except for the occasional farming fields. We passed many piles of stacked firewood by the roadside: fuel for a family’s winter heat. 
    Wiggling through miles of small towns and back roads, we reached one of two national parks in Nova Scotia, often referred to as “Keji” by visitors and locals alike. The inland section covers 156 square miles of lakes and forested upland plain. Most of the park is accessible only by foot or canoe, but the one campground is located on the shore of Kejimkujik Lake, the largest lake in the park, a good place to fish we were told, as well as to enjoy the quiet of the forest and hear loons at night. The park is home to moose, deer, and the occasional bear. Because the park is designated as a “Dark Sky Preserve,” we might have had a spectacular view of the night sky except for the persistent clouds. We walked part of the trail that follows the shore from the campground. Camping facilities were electricity only and clean bathrooms. 
    [Note: There is a second, much smaller section of the park called Kejimkujik Seaside, which we did not visit. It is an area of sandy beaches and wetlands habitat for endangered bird off Highway 103 near Port Moulton.]
•Bay of Fundy
    The Bay is located between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to the north, and is best known for the dramatic tidal changes that occur daily, rugged coastlines, whale watching (in season), and lighthouses stretching 117 miles from Westport to Cape Split. This coast is not possible to access by car everywhere; there are only occasional sections of (very rough) roads where small fishing villages or lighthouses still stand. 
Lighthouse at Hampton
    We drove north from Kejimkujik to Annapolis Royal (smaller and less grand than the name lead us to believe), and continued north to reach the coast at Parker’s Cove. We followed the coastline east to the 100-year old Hampton Lighthouse, still in good condition supported by a private organization, though the trees have grown so that they obscure much of the light from the water. 
    [Note: It was on the short drive along the coast that we encountered the first of many amazingly rough roads across the province which appear to have been ignored for decades by Nova Scotia’s highway department. We bounced along dodging potholes at much slower speeds than planned, and our towed car suffered as well. If you drive off the main highways in Nova Scotia, beware!]
•Annapolis Valley
  Cape Split Fog
    This narrow strip of land of lush farms and vineyards lies between the coast of the Bay of Fundy and the forests to the south. The valley is noted for its fruits and wines, and the town of Kentville celebrates this with an annual “Apple Blossom Festival.” Since we it is held in May, we put it on our itinerary and looked forward to the excitement. We were disappointed to learn that the festival highlights included music provided by local rock bands, rubber duck races, the crowning of the festival queen, a tractor pull, and a pancake breakfast. We moved on.
    In our continuing search for interesting lighthouses, we drove north of Kentville to Cape Split, a dramatic point of land reached only by a two-hour hike from road’s end. By the time we reached the trailhead at the end of the road (see photo on right), the fog had made safe driving nearly impossible and no pictures were possible. The campground at Blomidon Provincial Park to the south was equally fogged in, though in fair weather the views and beaches are probably very attractive. We opted instead for a site at Look-off Campground, which was due to open the next day. They took us in anyway.

    We returned to the highway (Trans-Canada 1) near Kentville and drove toward Halifax and picked up Highway 7 heading east along the coast. While not as scenic as the South Shore villages, we found plenty of decent weather and places to stop and explore this part of the province. 
•Lawrencetown Beach

    We took advantage of a rare day of mostly sunny blue skies and fair weather to go to the beach! 
    Lawrenceteown, one of the last areas the British invaded to oust the Acadians and Mi’kmaq in their quest to conquer the province, strongly resisted the British takeover for several years. In 1754, at the start of the French and Indian War, the Mi’kmaq and French attacked the British soldiers and settlers and eventually drove them to Halifax. The area grew in the 1800s due to good farming and lumbering opportunities and, for a short time, to gold mining a few miles north at Mineville. Today Lawrencetown is home to a provincial beach park that is a popular destination for surfers (we saw three even on a windy day with little surf) and those seeking good beach conditions. The 2,500 residents have an easy commute to Dartmouth and Halifax.  
Beach at Clam Harbour 
    We found walking the beach a wonderful way to slow down from all the driving and relax under blue skies. Lucy especially enjoyed the stop. She ran across the sand, dipped her paws in the Atlantic, and sniffed out sand fleas and chased birds. We watched the fog come in and go out. We all appreciated the stop.
Clam Harbour Beach
    We’re not sure how much goes on in this small rural community, but the beach is apparently one of the best and most popular in Nova Scotia. The mile of fine clean white sand makes it perfect for the annual Clam Harbour Beach Sandcastle Competition held in August (“rain or shine”), which is now in its 36th year. Provincial Park supervises the beach and surrounding property. 
    The area was deserted and, though against the rules, we let Lucy have the run of the place while we walked slowly with our heads down search for beach glass and precious stones.
    We drove along Highway 7, nicknamed “The Seacoast Trail,” without stopping at sites and towns and attractions we would explore if time were not our constant constraint: the Acadian House Museum at Chezzetcook, the Icelandic settlement near Markland, gold mining history at Moose River and Goldenville; and many other sites we have learned about. 
    We really did not do justice with all that the town of Sherbrooke has to offer, particularly Sherbrooke Village, a living museum depicting life in the late 1800s. Next trip. We had our sights set on maximizing our time on Cape Breton Island. So we turned north at Sherbrooke and spent the night at an overrated campground near Linwood, getting us close to Port Hastings where we would cross over to the Cape Breton in the morning.


•The Ceilidh Trail
    While there is much scenic beauty on Cape Breton Island, an important feature of this part of Nova Scotia is the music that seems to be present in many areas of Cape Breton. The road from Port Hastings to Margaree Harbour has been labeled the Ceilidh (“KAY-lee”) Trail to emphasize the presence of this music and the culture from which it originates. 
    [Note: The area around Cheticamp, just 14 miles north of Margaree Harbour at the end of the Ceilidh Trail, has a strong Acadian tradition and that music is often heard and performed. Acadian French is heard often among the residents of the area, many of who also fly the Acadian flag. It was here, perhaps, that we began to appreciate how patriot and proud Canadians are of their country. We saw Canadian flags everywhere— in cities, villages, isolated farms. In addition, flag representing the province, Cape Breton, and Acadians flew alongside each other. We see flags in the USA at post offices and government buildings, and at homes, but usually just around holidays.]
    We camped at Port Hood, about halfway between Judique, home of the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre Society, and Mabou, home of the Rankin Family and the Red Shoe Pub, (see photo above) where we spent a memorable evening enjoying Celtic music by fiddler Howie MacDonald with Mac Morin on the piano. There was unexpected spoon playing by local Jerry Deveau (spelling?) and Celtic dancing by many of the patrons. 
 Fresh L:obster
    The night before, we attended a remarkableevening of Celtic music and dance by area young people at the An Drochaid Museum next door to the Red Shoe. The young performers (ages 6–17?) presented a program entirely in Gaelic. In the audience, and among the young performers were many relatives of the Rankins, Natalie MacMaster and her uncle Buddy MacMaster, and members of the Beaton and MacDonald families, area musicians who support the programs of the museum. We were invited to a community ceilidh to be held following the Red Shoe program at a sport arena outside of town. But it would start so late and go until the last dancer dropped that we declined. We should have gone, but.....
    We drove one afternoon to Mabou Harbour to photograph the lighthouse. While we were there, a lobster fisherman was returning with his day’s catch: several 100-pound crates were lifted off and taken into the dockside lobster shed housing storage tanks. Judy asked the captain if he sold them right off the boat. He said of course. So that evening we borrowed a lobster pot from the campground manager and steamed the two good-sized fresh-from-the-sea lobsters, not our first ones of the trip but certainly the freshest. “Kickin’ fresh,” some say.
    We spent part of a day simply driving in the area of Mabou, inland around Lake Ainslie, and the coastal villages of Inverness, Dunvegan, and Margaree Harbour. We stopped at the Glenora Distillery that produces North America’s first and Canada’s only single malt whiskey in hopes of a tour of the distillery, a tasting, and a performance of Celtic music as advertised. We were disappointed on all counts for vague reasons that had something to do with being too early in the season. 
    However, the next time we were in the neighborhood, we definitely would spend time bicycling on the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail, (see photo on right) a smooth gravel path that hugs the west coast. Our weather at the time was not encouraging and the tires on our road bikes were probably not appropriate. Next time we’ll plan differently.
    Cheticamp is the gateway to Cape Breton Highlands National Park, the centerpiece of the Island and a magnet for campers, hikers, cyclists, and motorcycles from all over the world. The Cabot Trail, 185 miles from Cheticamp to Baddeck, named by Lonely Planet as one of the best road trips in the world, hugs the sides of the mountains and offers spectacular ocean views on both the east and west coasts of the island. 
    We camped one night the Cheticamp Campground just inside the National Park. We shopped in Cheticamp, Hughes got a haircut by Jimmy the Barber and Judy got her hair done at Wayne’s Beauty Salon. Wayne Aucoin was so good that Judy offered to bring him home with us, but he declined. Instead, he asked to be her friend on Facebook. Hughes discovered Charlie’s Country Music, an unremarkable lookling store that also sells groceries and souvenirs. But their variety and quality of Celtic music CDs was the best he found on the whole trip. Our half dozen new CDs were hard to select from the hundreds on hand. 
    We had dinner at Le Gabriel Restaurant and Lounge for several reasons: it came recommended for its food (we enjoyed a full lobster dinner that didn’t hurt the wallet too much); there was music—a Celtic fiddler with keyboard accompaniment; and the well- known Doryman Pub and Grill was only serving pub food without any music on that night. We’ll come back to the Doryman another trip.
    After dinner we took Wayne’s suggestion and went to a local jam session at a hall on the outskirts of town. We arrived after the session began, paid our modest entry fee, and listened to about 20 guys and one woman take turns playing and singing American country and western tunes with everyone doing backup. It was a strange evening of music compared to what we had been used to up until then. We learned the group meets informally once a week and serves, as one fellow said, as therapy. We did stay until everyone had played, but not when they were finished for the evening. BTW, Wayne did not show up as Judy thought he might. 
 •Cape Breton NP and The Cabot Trail
 End of Skyline
    We took advantage of the one day without rain and did several hikes in the park, beginning with the best-known and most photographed trail, Skyline. This 7.5 km (4.5 miles) takes hikers through moose country (warnings everywhere, but not a moose in sight.) The view along the way are what we might expect hiking through the national forest across the road from us, but the last quarter of a mile is a boardwalk leading to a headland cliff and spectacular views of the ocean, Cabot Trail, and whales (in season). It is easy to see why this is a very popular hike: great views, 400 ft elevation difference, 2-3 hour round trip, and easy to moderately difficult. Park rangers also lead a “Skyline Sunset Hike” Monday through Friday during the summer months.
    We filled in some extra time with a short self- guided trail, Le Butterau, (“small hill”) a one-mile loop with good ocean and shore views and a chance to explore the remains of homes of pioneers who once lived and farmed in this area.
    It was raining hard the day we left to drive across the top of Cabot Trail to Ingonish. (The photo below was taken the afternoon before we left.) Checking at the ranger station about road conditions, we were warned that the winds were blowing at 100 kph (+60 mph), which would make for a bouncy trip. We unhooked the car from the RV and drove separately battling high winds all the way to Ingonish where we planned to spend a night. Ordinarily the 65 miles takes about two hours to drive. We took much longer and saw little of the scenery, just the few hundred feet of the road ahead.
The Cabot Trail9 
     The Park campground at Ingonish on the east side of the island was quagmire and appeared to be open when we pulled in, but with only a couple of other rigs there we weren’t sure. However, we needed to stop and we did, waiting for the rains to let up. We had planned to make our getaway for drier weather in the morning, but the day broke sunny and warm and the campground looked rather inviting. We walked through the grounds, which covered quite a few acres and down to the shore where the surf was bashing the rocks and throwing waves quite high. We checked the weather forecast and decided to spend the day in the area. We looked for the Seagull Restaurant just down the road (friends had raved about their lobster chowder), but they were closed, getting ready for opening in a week or two. The Main Street Restaurant and Bakery was a satisfactory substitute, though we would like to have tried the Seagull for comparison. 

    At nearby Ingonish Beach the luxurious Keltic Lodge is the starting point for a scenic hike on the Middle Head Trail that follows a narrow peninsula to headland cliffs overlooking the ocean (see photo abaove). We had hoped to see whales and eagles, but instead watched local fishermen slowly ply the shoreline checking their traps. The views of Ingonish Island and Cape Smokey were clear on this rare sunny morning.

     That evening we drove to the lodge at Ski Cape Smokey, a non-profit ski facility in this unlikely spot on the Atlantic. Theunusually heavy snow this past winter made it possible to have a four-month ski season. We arrived earlier than advertised and spent a good hour chatting with the singer, Cyril MacPhee, during his sound check about singers he had performed with (Stan Rogers, Natalie MacMaster, John Prine, et al.).
Lighthouse at Baddeck
    Before we left the Cabot Trail and while there was a break in the clouds, I drove Judy and her bike back up to near the top of the Cabot Trail so she could ride at least a part of this remarkable road and get some bragging rights.
•Baddeck and the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site
    Baddeck is the popular town near the southern point of the Park that is home to an outstanding museum dedicated to this remarkable man and his equally remarkable wife, Mable Hubbard Bell. The museum, through photographs and artifacts, shows the range of his genius; more than “simply” inventing the telephone, he taught the deaf and created an alphabet that taught them to speak, (Mabel herself was deaf), he successful experimented with kites and airplanes (both designed to carry people) and hydrofoil crafts. We learned so much from our docent who guided us through the museum with enthusiasm and detailed insights. It is a must-see stop for all visitors. 

     St. Michael’s Parish Hall in Baddeck hosts ceilidhs every night through July and August featuring many Cape Breton fiddlers and singers. Like so many events, we came too early.
•Bird Island
    We left Baddeck for the Mountain Vista Seaside Campground in Big Bras d’Or (“bra door”). We chose it for its promise of a scenic location and comfortable facilities. What we did not appreciate beforehand was that it was also the home of Bird Island Boat Tours, which we signed up for that next day. Captain Vince van Schaick’s family has operated these tours to the two islands about six miles offshore for 40 years and he has a wealth of knowledge about the area seabirds (puffins, arctic terns, gulls, kittiwakes, and at least a dozen others). His narration throughout the tour held our interest and clarified what we saw during the three-hour tour. Fortunately we had excellent weather for the morning. 
•Cape Breton Miners’ Museum 
    The weather began to turn on us as we left for the Arm of Gold Campground in Little Bras d’Dor overlooking Lake Bra d’Dor. The campground was excellent for us: it located near the Newfoundland Ferry Terminal in North Sydney just three miles away (we were leaving the next day); the campground had acres of grass, walking trails, flat sites, a fair price, and they would store our car while we were in Newfoundland. As the rains came, we decided to take advantage of the afternoon to visit the Cape Breton Miners’ Museum in Glace Bay.
    The museum’s Ocean Deeps Colliery tour succeeded in reproducing the feeling of an underground mine (created to replicate a working mine): low ceilings, seeping water, a coal seam, equipment, dim lighting, etc.). Our guide, Sheldon McNeil a miner for 29 years, was informative, humorous at times, and made the experience of underground mining come alive. The musefishiing fishing vikinum displays were interesting, but the tour was the highlight and not to be missed. On our next visit we would hope to hear the “Men of the Deeps,” a world famous choir made up of working and retired area miners. 

    We had made reservations on line for the Marine Atlantic ferry and arrived two hours before departure as requested. We joined a hundred or so cars, motorcycles, RVs, and trucks ready to drive into the space on the third deck of the ferry. Pets were required to either stay in the owner’s vehicle below deck during the 7-hour passage, or for a small fee be kept in a traveling crate stored in a special area in the passenger area. We felt Lucy would be more at home in our motorhome with familiar smells and bedding around her. She made the trip both ways without issue.
    [Note: Marine Atlantic operates two ferries a day from North Sydney to Port aux Basques: one in the morning and one evening/overnight ferry (our choice next time). The price is based upon the length of the vehicle, including those towed, and the number and ages of travelers. For a few dollars more private cabins are available. Our round-trip cost was under $500 Canadian dollars, or less than US$400 with the exchange rate at that time. We didn't really need reservations, but this was before "the season."]

NL Map

Our trip was uneventful and smooth. And a bit dull: no whales to see, a few dolphins, lots of time to read, snooze, or snack. TVs and computers were available, but all in all we had seven hours of quiet time. We landed at Port aux Basques (Yes, Basque settlers were there first along with the French, Mi’kmaq, and a few Portuguese.) and drove directly to the well advertised and recommended Grand Codroy Campground at Doyles a half hour up Highway 408, the only road north. Before dinner we took a short ride around the villages on the Codroy Valley, stopped at the beach of the Codroy Provincial Park, and returned at dark to the campground where we ate, checked the upcoming weather, and made plans for the next two days.
    Our general aim was to explore only the west coast of Newfoundland all the way to the northern most area around St Anthony. We could either go village to village from south to north and return quickly in time to board the return ferry in a week. Or make a direct run to the St Anthony and return village to village on the way back to the Port aux Basque. In the end, the weather was the decider: two days of wet weather was predicted for the west coast, so we planned to make a direct “run” to St Anthony (Follow the red line). This would also put us there for the upcoming Iceberg Festival. It turned out to be an excellent decision. We drove through rain and fog the next day, with windshield wipers going constantly, to a small campground at Hawk’s Bay near Port au Choix that night. We arrived just after noon in St Anthony in a light drizzle. We covered 462 miles in the day and a half, pretty good time considering the rainy weather and the often rough roads. 
    On the way, the brake warning light appeared on the instrument panel urging us to get the problem fixed right way
St Anthony
  St Anthony
    This town of 2,500 folks seemed like a metropolis compared to most of the other towns we passed through. There were ample stores for most goods, basic services, an outstanding regional hospital, civic and service organizations, one car dealer (Chevrolet), and what we think was a good car/truck repair shop: Maurice’s Service Center. They took us in immediately, checked the brake situation, and said they could replace the brake linings and rotors—if they could get the parts. After calling distributors all over Newfoundland and off-island, the soonest they could get the necessary parts would be 3-5 days (over the weekend). Too late for us. We were in the position to have to carefully limp along until we got back to the ferry in six days. 
    [Note: We called two repair shops in North Sydney (Nova Scotia) where the ferry lands to see who could do the repair when we returned. Ralph Ivey, owner of Ralph Ivey’s Auto Repair assured us he would have the parts for us the day after we arrived in North Sydney and would get us on our way the same day.
 Nose to Nose
    St Anthony provided lots of wonderful memories for us, and we met we folks who were very welcoming and friendly. Our first stop (after having the brakes checked) was to Fishing Point at the eastern end of town, where we climbed the challenging Daredevil Trail that overlooks Fishing Point on the eastern edge of town: 476 steps to an overlook atop a mountain with great views of the town and the bay. We also walked part of the Iceberg Alley Trail that leads back toward town. We met the women who run the Fishing Point Emporium and Interpretation Centre where Judy found a lovely labradorite pendant, Hughes found some additional CDs of Newfoundland music, and Lucy came nose to nose with a beaver, fox, and polar bear (on exhibit). The women also treated us to some homemade berry ice cream. Judy Ugly Stick
    In the evening, we went to the Grenfell Kitchen Party. We enjoyed a traditional Newfoundland dinner that included fish cakes, toutons served with molasses or bakeapple cloudberry jam, which we washed down with 15,000-year-old bottled 80 Degrees North Iceberg Water. After dinner the ceilidh was a lively couple of hours of traditional music, accompanied by ugly stick players from the audience, and at least one Celtic dancer also from the audience. We had a chance to meet with some of the entertainers and other guests, including two charming women, Magda and Irene and from Ontario, the Head of Surgery at the Grenfell Hospital, and others from the town. It was a splendid evening, the kind visitors look forward to. We enjoyed every bit of it.

•L’Anse aux Meadows

Vikings    The following morning, we drove about 30 miles to the northern tip of the island to learn about L’Anse aux Meadows, a World Heritage Site, the only known Viking village in North America and earliest European settlement in the Western Hemisphere. Around the year 1,000 C.E., Leif Eriksson persuaded 60–90 Norse adventurers to establish a settlement within sight of Labrador near the entrance to the Strait of Belle Isle. What its name was we don’t know for sure, but we know life was difficult due to weather and relatively unwelcoming Aboriginal peoples, ancestors of Innu, Beothuk, and Mi’kmaq who greatly outnumbered the Europeans. The settlement was abandoned within a few years.

    Today, the settlement that was once composed of eight houses and four workhouses sits in what is today a treeless area that runs down to the tiny coastal settlement of Straitsview. Where a thousand years ago trees for lumber and trade once grew, low grasses now have overgrown the bumps in the ground that outline where Viking buildings once stood. The reconstructed buildings are made from sod, small and sturdy, and are home to the re-enactors who are happy to describe what their lives might have been like 1,000 years ago. The visit was very educational and worth the drive to the end of the road.
    We spent the afternoon with Northland Discovery Boat Tours for an amazing tour of the icebergs not very far offshore in “Iceberg Alley.” Our guide had studied icebergs and had visited Greenland to see where the icebergs that float by St Anthony originated. We learned about marine wildlife and culture as well as everything we didn’t know about icebergs. Again, we were too early in the season to see whales. We got some terrific up-close photos of these giant chunks of ice.
•Port au Choix Icebreg Alley

    The drive to Port au Choix took us by as many as twenty small fishing villages, most with about 100 residents, some with schools, most with a church, all with houses that looked in good condition thanks to a Provincial Home Repair Program designed to assist low income residents to make improvements to their heating, electricity, plumbing, windows, siding, roofing, etc. The result is a string of small coastal villages with small homes that looked “spruced up” all at about the same time and in the same manner. For example, it looks like almost everyone opted for a front door with an etched glass insert. White is the overwhelming choice for vinyl or aluminum siding. 
    The town of Port au Choix (Port of Choice) is touted as the fishing capital of Western Newfoundland. A large fishing fleet is present, a modern shrimp processing plant, government offices, and other services. In addition the town of about 1,000 is a national historic site rich in archeological finds that are evidence of the earliest aboriginal settlements. We had an outstanding fish dinner at the Anchor Cafe: halibut, cod, and shrimp. And they served Iceberg Beer
  Camp on Ocean
    [Hughes considers this finest beer he’s ever enjoyed. Iceberg Beer brewed by the Quidi Vidi Brewery in St. John’s from “Newfoundland’s awe- inspiring icebergs.” In an inquiry we made when we got home about where to purchase more of the beer, Mitch Gilbert emailed from the brewing company said they can’t fill the demand from Newfoundland, but they hope to expand so “check back in a few months.”]
    We camped on the beach that night at the Oceanside RV Park, with sites facing the ocean and grass for tenters operated by the local Lions Club. What a view, what a sunset, what peace and quiet. The fee was a modest $25 a night with showers and free internet. It is the place to camp on the west coast.
•Cow Head Lighthouse
 Iron LIghthouse
    As we continued south, the weather became dry enough to do some hiking. We turned off at Cow Head where Magda and Irene said they found an attractive B&B and a fishing village separated into two parts:  “Winterside” on the mainland and “Summerside” across a natural isthmus called the “Sandbank.” This seasonal migration was a tradition in many fishing villages throughout Newfoundland for generations. We drove to the end of the road in the Summerside area and hiked to the Cow Head Lighthouse, an 18-foot iron tower built in 1909. Today, the exterior shows signs of rust and corrosion. Some of the money from a government grant for improvements was used to erect a small amphitheater at the start of the trail. A large meadow near the lighthouse has been a picnic area for local residents. 
Gros Morne National Park
    This area of snowy mountains, clear lakes, and unusual geological features is one of two National Parks in Newfoundland (Terra Nova in the east is the other). We saw little of it on our trip north because of weather, and we didn’t have much improvement on the way back. One of the premier hikes is to the top of the tablelands, an area where the earth’s mantle is exposed over a wide area. The weather made the hike to the top less than desirable, though we did explore this unique geology of the area along the trail at the base of the mountains. Rain cancelled boat trips and a hike to Western Brook Pond, something we had put at the top of our list. (If we return, we’ll find a dry, clear day and make sure to experience this area.)
 Town of Woody Point
    We found our way to Rocky Harbour, Norris Point, and Woody Point (pictured here)that surround Bonne Bay, one of the most dramatically scenic areas we have seen anywhere. These small fishing villages have shifted their attention to attracting tourist for scenic boat rides, good restaurants and pubs, and evening music programs. We spent the evening in Norris Point’s Cat Stop to hear Angus Stewart, a local singer/guitar player. He was easy to listen to and we enjoyed the beer and snacks. Angus’s wife was with him and she got talking with us. To our surprise she urged us to leave early and get over to the Anchor Pub in nearby Rocky Harbour to see the musical show featuring a popular group called “Anchors Aweigh.” We were lucky to get two of the very last tickets (a bus tour had made reservations beforehand). The guys put on an entertaining show of traditional music and funny stories. It turns out they are among the ten most popular groups in Newfoundland. Our stay at the Gros Morne RV/Campground was comfortable and gave us easy access to the southern sections of the Park.
•Stephenville and Cape St. George
    We drove south, bypassing the “city” of Corner Brook (population about 20,000 and the center of services and shopping on the west coast) and headed for Stephenville, a small town (population about 7,000) with a most unexpected history. Until the mid-1800s this was a small Acadian fishing village. Though the population grew slightly for a hundred years, the area experienced a boom in 1940 when the US Army constructed the Ernest Harmon Air Force Base. In 1966 the base was closed and turned over to the provincial government. Stephenville International Airport took over much of the facilities, and other buildings are now used by the town for housing and recreation. The abandoned runway looked like it might be a safe and acceptable place for boondocking.
Dory with Judy, Lucy 
    We spent most of our time driving around the very scenic coastline of Port au Port Peninsula, going from one fishing village to another. We stopped first to admire the imposing Our Lady Of Mercy Church, the oldest wooden structure in the province and normally open to the public. Not today. 
    Not far from the church was an unannounced trailhead to a coastal trail that began at an antique dory that folks seem to like to play in. Further along our drive we discovered another unannounced trail that lead to a hidden (from the road) waterfall near a fishing boat launch area with an easy trail nearby to catch good ocean views. 
    The only major break in the landscape on Cape George was a huge gravel quarry operated by Atlantic Minerals at Sheaves Cove. The company owns or controls 16,000 acres on which it extracts chemical grade calcium limestone and dolomite. The quarry looks very much like an open pit mining operation one might see in the western US, and stands in contrast to the farming and fishing countryside of the rest of the peninsula. This past winter Atlantic Minerals was seeking approval to expand their operations. Local folks are seeking relief from the government to protect their water supply and wildlife. We don’t know how the conflict has been or will be resolved.
Cheeseman Provincial Park
    Judith Sutton, a friend from Newfoundland we met at Desert Trails, described Cheeseman as one of her favorite places as a child growing up in the area. She urged us to stay at least one night to enjoy the beach and the scenery of the area. She was right: our campsite was very comfortable with a great view, and the Smokey Cape Walking/Fitness Trail is an easy mile walk to one of the best beaches (we’ve heard) in Newfoundland. It’s where folks from the southern part of the province come to get a tan and swim in the surf. Our weather was generally dry and sunny, but chilly. We stayed two nights so we could explore the small villages along the southern coast that were close to the ferry at Port au Basques just a few miles away.
Granite Lighthouse
•South Coast Villages
    The map says there are several villages from Port aux Basques east to the end of the road 27 miles away. We found really only four:
     •At the end of the pavement east of Port Aux Basques is the village of Rose Blanche, a popular destination because of the unique lighthouse, a fully restored structure made from entirely from local granite. The interior was restored in 1999 and it is one of the few lighthouses open to the public to see how families lived there in the 19th century. The view of the village and surrounding coast is worth the challenging drive over rough pavement.
     •Burnt Islands is a picturesque fishing village of about 900 people, less than in the peak years before the cod moratorium in 1992 that forced many to leave in search of jobs elsewhere.
   •Isle aux Morts, like the other two villages, owes its existence to fishing as their coves are well protected. The population at Isle aux Morts also declined because of the moratorium on cod fishing, and the subsequent closing of the fish plant and related jobs. However, this town continues to draw a few visitors who are attracted by two fine walking trails: the Boat Cove Trail and, the one we walked, the self-guided Harvey Trail named in honor of George Harvey and his daughter who bravely and successfully rescued sailors from sinking ships. We found wonderful views of the town and bay from different locations on the trail. 
    [Note: For a variety of reasons, we did little geocaching on the trip. However, on our last day in Newfoundland along the Harvey Trail we found the only two geocaches we attempted, except for a DNF at a park in Halifax with Gary and Linda, who returned after we left and found the one the four of usdid not find earlier.]
Isle aux Morts Trail     •There aren’t many folks still living in Margaree, but there is an excellent restaurant located there: the Seashore Restaurant. You can’t miss it in this small village just a short 7-minute drive from Port aux Basque and the ferry to Nova Scotia. The chowder was made fresh as were the rolls, still hot from the oven. The service was excellent and personable, and the fish very nicely done. We hope it continues to succeed and we highly recommend the short trip to Margaree for those stuck in Port aux Basque and want an excellent meal with a great view.
 •North Sydney, Nova Scotia
    With relatively few other vehicles, we boarded ferry for the return to Nova Scotia. The return trip was as smooth and unexciting as the one that brought us to Newfoundland. We drove from the port at North Sydney to the Arm of Gold Campground, picked up our car and walked over the campground trails with Lucy who loved the dry air and grass to run in. 
  Frank's Front Window
    In the morning we drove to Ralph Ivey’s shop and dropped off the RV. He was waiting for us and began work as soon as we arrived. We spent the day driving through the Bras d’Or Lake area to the south of Sydney and even tried to find something of interest in downtown Sydney. Perhaps we were road weary or just anxious about the RV brakes and getting on the road back to the states. We arrived a bit before three o’clock and found the RV parked outside waiting for pickup. We thanked Ralph for working with us and paid him. It was less than his original estimate, which was a pleasant surprise. 
•Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire
    We drove until we reached Antigonish NS where we spent the night. The next day drove to Bangor, ME for a night at the Paul Bunyan CG (a very nice place with lots of grass and shade, which we needed for a change!) The next day we made our way across Maine to Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire where we met up with another Desert Trails friend, Frank Argersinger who spends summers at a family cabin on the lake just north of Wolfeboro.
    Frank’s cottage is the classic, comfortable New England lake "camp" with knotty pine walls and cabinets, smallish rooms appropriate to when the cottage was built in 1952 by his grandfather, and a glorious picture window overlooking the lake. After showing us around the grounds and cabin (plus guest cottage), we parked the RV in a level spot, plugged to an outdoor plug, and decided it was a good time to visit Wolfeboro. We walked the streets and for lunch had the best lobster roll of the entire trip at the Downtown Grill Café (no mayo or lettuce, only lobster!). We went to the grocery store for more lobsters to have for dinner the next day with Bill and Barb Totherow, another couple from Desert Trails who were going to drive up from their home in Barrington. Before dinner, Frank took us all for a boat tour of his area of this beautiful lake. Afterwards, we dined on what would be the last lobsters we enjoyed on the trip.
Lobster Dinner 
    We said good-bye to Frank who may not be returning to Desert Trails; he’s building a home in Sequim, Washington, to be near his kids and grandchildren (though he’ll return to New Hampshire for an extended summer each year), and drove to our daughter’s home in Milton in time to celebrate Fathers Day with the family. For the first time, we think. We shared some Iceberg Beer with those interested, plus a taste of Screech, a traditional Newfoundland rum/rhum (which we think can be purchased throughout Canada, but apparently not in the States). They had enjoyed daily Judy’s Facebook accounts of the trip and had only a few questions. 
    Two days later we left for home, a generally sunny and clear four days with stops in Pennsylvania (a rural state park), Indiana (La Porte’s Yogi Bear Jellystone RV Park, which was trashed and trashy), and Nebraska (another rural state park). With clear weather we made much better time than we had coming out in May. 
    [Note: We passed and were passed by lots of big rigs: 18-wheelers, the kings of the interstates. Judy made the unscientific observation that truckers keep their rigs sparkling. Take a look for yourself the next time one of those big guys passes you.]
    Lucy proved to be an absolutely outstanding traveler and we don’t know how to really show our gratitude. She wouldn’t understand anyway. She just did what she knew to do and, we think, enjoyed herself. She’s the only dog we know who tasted the waters off the coast of Newfoundland, made friends with other dogs wherever she went, and did not disturb the local wildlife.
    We learned much on the trip, especially that we could find fascinating experiences, friendly people, go to new places, see the countryside, and not let the weather get in our way. We simply learned to work around it. 
    In all we traveled through 13 states, three provinces, four and a half time zones, and 7,650 miles. We were gone about seven weeks and, as usual, played ten hands of gin rummy almost every night—nearly 400 hands by the end of the trip. Judy was the final winner, 7449 to 6276. A good win on a great trip!

Judy and Hughes Moir
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