Beautiful Cape Breton and Cheticamp
Trip Start Jul 27, 2012
12Trip End Aug 18, 2012
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Where I stayed
What I did
Lots of whales!
Today, we took a brief drive into Cape Breton Highlands National Park which is the highest rated tourist destination in Canada and the third most beautiful in the world, according to Conde Nast Traveler magazine. This was just a brief introduction because tomorrow we spend all day driving and stopping along the Cabot trail which winds around the peninsula. This is a hiker's and cycler's paradise, as well as one of the premiere salmon fly fishing areas in the world.
This area is famous for a local handicraft of rug hooking. We stopped at a museum that had many samples of the famous local artist, a woman named LaFort who made over 500 rugs during her lifetime, many of which are hanging in world class museums, the White House, Louvre, etc. She did many large about 10 x 12 feet with over 8 miles of wool in them. You start with a piece of burlap which you draw your pattern on in black ink. Then, you dye your own wool the colors you want and start hooking. Some of them have hundreds of different colors of wool. Amazing - she did hangings of most of the American presidents, Canadian premiers, jackie Kennedy, etc. I bought a small little one as a souvenir. This is apparently a dying art because the lady at the museum who does hooking says that it only averages out to about $2 per hour after all of your expenses and is very time consuming so the young people dont want to do it.
Bob and I had another fabulous lunch - delicious seafood chowder. Here they do not use potates, celery, etc. - just huge hunks of lobster, crab, scallops, shrimp, etc in a delicioius cream soup - yummy. We also split a lobster roll which was essentially a hotdog bun with big hunks of lobster meat in it - no mayo or any filling at all.
The highlight of the day was the whale watching (or whale searching as our guide says) boat trip. We were on very small boats - about 20 people each maximum totally loaded. We must have seen more than 30 to 40 pilot whales which are smaller whales than the killer whales. They were all around our little boat which apparently did not bother them at all. They dont breach like the larger whales do but pop up their heads about 6 feet out of the water to take a look around. This is the breeding season so there were a lot of mothers with babies. Also saw several white headed eagles on nearby rocks.
Interesting story about black bears which are in the local mountains here, from our guide. He said that female bears have the easiest deliveries of any animal - they deliver in their sleep during hibernation time. The cubs then just suckle the sleeping mother until spring time when she awakes and goes outside to start feeding. Wow!
More great seafood tonight - there is lobster or crab in everything here, even lobster pizza. Bob had a lobster and veggie stir fry and I had sole stuffed with crab, lobster and scallops. I am afraid that when I get back, I will have to take down my "lost 30 pounds" star off the bulletin board at Lindora.
As this is a small fishing village, there are only about 4 different places to eat but each one has some type of music in the evening - all locals who come in to play and sing - very much like the pubs in Ireland. Tonight, we ate at one place which had 3 men playing guitars and singing, some Acadian in French and some regular folk. When we walked back to our small hotel, they had a fiddler and guitar player playing Irish and Scottish melodies. They apparently are all house painters during the day and play for fun at night.
Later on when I have more time, I will try to download pictures but the days are very long. The weather was cooler today and it got quite windy in the afternoon during the whale watching. They can have winds here up to 200 mph. We are right on the Bay of Lawrence which is a huge body of water that goes into the ocean but amazingly during the winter it freezes over up to 9 feet thick. Ice breakers have to be used to keep a small channel open for shipping. There are less than 3000 year round residents but during the season, now, population goes up to 6000. Most business close down in the winter because of the terrible weather.
P.S. Lobster Bob went to bed early.