From PEI we steered our ship northeast to Nova Scotia or "New Scotland" so named by immigrants from that far off land whose lack of imaginative naming was matched only by their cranky, dour and distrustful nature. So I was right at home.
The first stop was Cape Breton, an island at the northern most point of the province. Cape Breton Highlands National Park is the northern tip of the Cape. The world-famous Cabot Trail is a highway that completes a great circle along the coasts of the Gulf of St. Lawrence on the western side, up into the Highlands, across to the eastern shore of the Atlantic Ocean and back again. It’s full of postcard moments, usually in the form of 13% grades and hairpin turns a few hundred feet above the sea. There are apparently loads of Moose in the park, though we didn’t see any on our hikes. Lori glimpsed a cow and her calf as we barreled along in the truck but I was too busy trying not to plunge into the ocean to look.
*No, the moving story from Come From Away did not take place in Nova Scotia. It was in Newfoundland. But we ran out of road. Got as close as we could.
Stanley reached his Northern Terminus for this tour, and his whole existence for that matter at Cape North, NS exactly 2471 miles from his southern terminus of Key West, back in April. Though that’s more as the crow drives. The way we drove it, it was more like 8000 miles, as I usually take the scenic route. Or, I’m just lost.
Like PEI, the beaches in Cape Breton are extraordinary. I’m not sure why I thought it would be all rocky up this way? Perhaps because Maine is. And, I don’t know, it's Canada... you just think rugged. But soft sandy beaches are all over up here. And the water is warm. Not so warm that Lori would swim in it, but plenty warm enough for me, kids, and Canadians.
What are Cuddy Lugs?
We visited The Keltic Lodge. An old-world gem. Re-built in the 1951, it’s perched atop Middle Head in Ingonish. Surrounded by rocky cliffs, beaches, lakes and The Cape Breton Highland Links which is a celebrated links-style course considered to be the finest work from legendary designer Stanley Thompson. All of the holes come with charming Gaelic names like Cuddy Lugs, Tattie Bogle, and Heich O’Fash (meaning “Hill of Trouble”).
The lodge it is simple, rustic, and charming. Inside one of the two dining rooms there is a small horseshoe bar to one side. It was only noon when we arrived, but it was murderously hot outside and the AC felt like plunging into an ice bath after walking out of a blast furnace – also, and perhaps I already mentioned this, they had a horseshoe bar – so we pulled up a barstool. The young barkeep approached his craft with a fitting respect for the locale; more in the European fashion. He offered considered advice on the local beer selections, tips on secret swimming holes, and was sure to smoke your Old-Fashioned highball before filling it from the shaker.
I’ll be staying on.
And I do mean to finish that best seller... "after just one more of those cocktails my good man."
As I said, it was a hot day. (So much for Canada’s laudable efforts to slow global warming. Were we Americans meant to help you with that? Sorry, we've been busy with celebrity politics.) When we got back to camp, Stanley’s talking smoke alarm was going off telling us to “EVACUATE IMMEDIATELY!” Nothing was on fire that we could see. We think it was just so hot in there that the smoke alarm figured it could only be a fire. It was so hot that even Lori went swimming. In the ocean. I was nearing heat stroke by the time we plunged in. She must have been as well, for not much she said for the next 20-minutes made much sense to me. But then we are an old married couple. Par for the course there.
We rode down to the South Shore visiting Halifax, and the absurdly photogenic Peggy’s Cove and the slightly more working person’s, but still touristy, town of Lunenburg, among other quaint little fishing villages turned Instagram magnets. I took time out to donate more golf balls to another impossibly scenic course in Chester.
Green Grass & High Tides Forever
After 5 months, 15 States and Provinces, and 8,000 miles, we ended Grand Tour 2022 in Five Islands Provincial Park which enjoys dramatic views of Minas Basin which is an inlet on the Bay of Fundy. This is where the actual tidal world records are set of 52 feet during the spring tides. At peak tide, the current reaches 13 feet per second. We spent a magical couple of days there with Nova Scotian pals Elizabeth and Andy, mesmerized by the tides rushing in and out every few hours while swimming and walking the stunning coastline.
End of Trail
Thanks for following along on this year's journey (Grand Tour 2022). There are more adventures to come next year. I have not given up on my Key West to Fairbanks Quixotic Quest for example. Lori tries to talk sense into me, but I try to tune that out. See y'all down the road.