Day #208 – A Day with Alexander Graham Bell

LOCATION:  Whycocomagh, Nova Scotia – in West Central part of Cape Breton
CAMPGROUND:  Whycocomagh Provincial Park. 
WEATHER:  Mostly sunny.  Breezy.   Cool.  High 59

The  nights are getting pretty cold – almost to freezing, so it is time to bring out more blankets! 

Today’s outing was to Baddeck, a cute tourist town on Bras d’ Or Lake.  We stopped in the town of Whycocomagh to fish a bit, on our way.

No luck.  (No surprise)  🙂

Baddeck is the former home of Alexander Graham Bell, who moved here from Scotland .  We went to the museum which documents his life.  After inventing the telephone,  he used his earnings to spend a life dedicated to inventing other things.  He was a busy guy.  He developed a way for deaf people to communicate, and then went on to almost create the first airplane and hydrofoil, among many other inventions.  It was quite interesting.

All Canadian national parks and historical sites have these cute red chairs in front of them. 

Nova Scotia has just implemented a new phase in their fight to keep Covid 19 out.  Starting today, businesses require proof of vaccine before one can enter.  We gladly pulled out our vaccination cards for the museum and brewery.

Did I say brewery?  There is one in the area and we stopped to visit, of course. It is on the Bras d’ Or Lake atop a high hill overlooking the lake.  Quite nice.

DINNER:  My turn.  George grilled hamburgers on the campfire  while I toasted the ciabatta rolls.  I sauteed some onions and mushrooms to accompany the burgers.  Sides were corn that I had previously cut from cobs and had frozen, and Asian vegetables. 

Day #207 – On to a new part of Cape Breton

LOCATION:  Whycocomagh, Nova Scotia – in West Central part of Cape Breton
CAMPGROUND:  Whycocomagh Provincial Park.  Very nice sites on stream.  Electricity and water.  Central dump.  Beautiful, clean bathrooms/shower.  Fire pit and picnic table.  Sites are spacious, but not too many trees.  US$32/night.  4 stars out of 5
WEATHER:  Mostly sunny.  Scattered showers.  Cool.  High 60
DISTANCE DRIVEN:  1.5 hours

Taking advantage of a late check-out at Mira River Park, we zipped into town and did some laundry.  Then, we got packed and hooked up, and off to our next destination in Cape Breton.

We drove north and west, following the north shore of Bras d’ Or Lake, called Canada’s “inland water way”.   It is beautiful and hug, and has been designated a UNESCO site.  The scenery was lovely  We had to ascend to the top of Kelly’s Mountain, then coasted downhill for several miles.  The trees are starting to turn in some places.

We found our site at our new park.  Parks here close in mid-October, so they are very quiet.  We have this place almost to ourselves.

irst things first – since it is Sunday, we prepped for Sunday Bloody Marys.  I did a Bloody Mary bar on the picnic table so each person could add whatever he/she wants.  Choices were many -pickled okra, pickled asparagus, pepperoncini rings, pickled jalapenos, horseradish, and hot sauce. 

Tony had bought some PEI oysters and George shucked them for us.  Very tasty! 

DINNER:  Tony’s turn.  He seared large scallops to perfection.  Sides were a deli salad and a wild rice mix.  We are eating high on the hog! 

BOOK:  “The Naked Face” by Sidney Sheldon, a book I picked up at a campground library.  An easy read.  3 stars out of 5

Day #206 – History, food, and drink in Cape Breton

LOCATION:  Near Sydney, Nova Scotia in SE part of Cape Breton
CAMPGROUND:  Mira River Provincial Park.
WEATHER:  Finally some sunshine.  Breezy.   High 62

Today’s big event was touring the Fortress of Louisbourg.  We took the coastal, scenic route around Mira Gut. The famous Canadian singer Anne Murray sang a song about the Mira Gut.

The fortress was a huge French settlement in the early 1700s.  It took 20 years to build the fortress and town, and then the English came in the mid-1700s, attacking the French, and destroying everything.  It is now a national historical landmark.  They have done a lot to excavate the area and to rebuild it to look like it once was.  Here is the fortress from above….

Park Service employees dress in period dress and provide historical info for us tourists as we go through the different buildings – barracks for the soldiers, residences for the senior officials, inns, storerooms, etc.  This is the view of the rebuilt community from the top of the fortress…

It was a bit brisk with some strong winds, so it was nice to end the tour with a stop at the cozy tavern, out of the wind.  Here is the barmaid….

And here we are, enjoying our drinks….

You can see a musician behind Tony….

Back at the campground, we got ready for a night out on the town.  We went to Governors Pub and Eatery in Sydney for drinks and dinner.  It is a well-known, popular pub.  We were a bit disappointed that Cape Breton ceilihs (Cape Briton typical music) was not playing, but still enjoyed the good singer. 

Each couple shared a wood-fired pizza; ours was 4-cheese, and was one of the best I’ve ever had. 

Day #205. Enough rain, already!

LOCATION:  Near Syndey, Nova Scotia in SE part of Cape Breton
CAMPGROUND:  Mira River Provincial Park.
WEATHER:  Unexpected rain (again).  High 65

The rain just won’t stop.  It really poured hard at times in the morning.  Too much rain for a walk.  Then, throughout the day, it rained, stopped for a few minutes, then resumed.  Bummer!

It was a good day to sit inside and do nothing.  We both read quite a bit and popped some popcorn in the afternoon.  Our plans for a day trip are postponed until tomorrow – hope the rain stops by then.

The other day, while helping George dump at a dump station, I cut my finger pretty badly on a rusty faucet.  Since then, I have bandaged it up and am trying to not get it wet.  Consequently, George is doing the dishes these days.  This is a good gig —I just might let it heal for a long time.!!!  🙂  And, I guess I can no longer help at the dump station?  Ha!

In between rain showers, George and Tony tried fishing.  Yay – George caught this small-mouth bass.  And double YAY – he threw it back!!!   🙂

DINNER:  My turn.  While the rain held off, George built a fire and we sat around it, enjoying wine and an appetizer I made up – pickled okra wrapped in deli-sliced turkey breast with a little cream cheese spread on the turkey.  The main course was spaghetti and meatballs in a red sauce with a few white beans.  Sides were a baguette (the takeNbake kind) and a salad.  I used a recipe that I have tried previously for the dressing – sour cream (or Greek yogurt), lemon juice, salt, pepper, scallions, and walnuts.  Dessert was some ice cream.  It was a surprise for Tony, as kind of a joke – a “frosty” treat as he had predicted frost by the end of September, and it hasn’t occured yet.

BOOK:  “The Sinner” by Tess Gerritsen.  A murder mystery featuring 2 interesting main characters.  This is a part of a series, and I am going to try to find some more to read by this author.  4 stars out of 5

Day #204 – The impactful Miners’ Museum

LOCATION:  Near Syndey, Nova Scotia in SE part of Cape Breton
CAMPGROUND:  Mira River Provincial Park.
WEATHER:  Rain clearing to mostly sunny.  High 70

It rained absolutely all night, and unfortunately we awoke to find that our leak has returned.  Darn!  The AirStream mechanics could not find the source when we were at the factory there in August. 

The sun started to peek out and we got a good walk in around the campground.  It is pretty large – with about 175 sites.  The fall colors are just starting to turn.   Fall colors and colder temps are a bit behind schedule, but we don’t mind!

The highlight of the day was a visit to the Miners’ Museum in Glace Bay.  Rather than drive through the city of Sydney, we took a 25-mile coastal road there.  Very pretty.  

The Miners’ Museum is very well-done and quite sobering.  First we walked around the outside looking at old coal-mining equipment and this memorial to coal miners who died in the mines.  It is a circle of 12 lunch boxes, the metal kind the miners took with them to the mines.  Later, we learned that they are made of metal to keep the rats out of them!!!

After looking at the exhibits, we started our tour.  We all had to don hard hats…..and I was glad we did as I bonked my head on the ceiling at least 8 times. 

The tour guide is a former miner, and a real character.  He told us the history of the mine and about his experiences.  Many of the children in the community were forced to start working in the mines when they were age 7 or so.  He said his father started at 10.  We learned about the terrible conditions  that the mining company imposed. 

The tour was about an hour long, in the rather cold mine, under the ocean, in the complete dark (without the guide’s headlight).    We started at a height of 5’5″, needing to bend over a bit and watching our heads.  By the time we were done, winding around different parts of the mine (it goes on for miles and miles), we were at 4’2″.  Our backs were killing us – and to think the miners worked like this bent over for 12 hours a day/ 6 days a week,  shoveling coal, and blasting the walls, is incredible.

We also learned about the “Men of the Deep”, coal miners who sang to occupy themselves while underground.  They were excellent singers.  Someone heard them sing at church a few years ago, and “discovered” them as musicians.  Now they tour the world singing. 

DINNER:  Tony’s turn.  He served grilled flank steak in chimichurri sauce, boiled potatoes, and grilled cauliflower.  All accompanied by Men of the Deep music and songs by Rita McNeil, another famous musician from Cape Breton. 

Great day!

Day #203….A rainy day in Sydney

Day 203

LOCATION:  Near Sydney, Nova Scotia in SE part of Cape Breton
CAMPGROUND:  Mira River Provincial Park.
WEATHER:  Rain most of the day.  High 66

It rained all night and again all day today.  With outdoor activities not looking fun, we headed in to nearby Syndey for the day.  It is Cape Breton’s largest city.

First was errands – grocery store, liquor store, and bank.  We hung out at the public library to do some internet work.  Tony and Jenny checked out a restaurant where we plan to go on Saturday night featuring Cape Breton music. 

The music here is famous, especially for its fiddling.  This fiddle on the Syndey Harbor is a famous landmark.

On to lunch…..George has been hankering for sushi, and Tony found a good spot.  It seems very popular with the local crowd, always a good sign.  We ordered several platters to share – some salmon/tuna sushi, a sushi/sashimi mixed plate, a seafood roll, and gyoza.  All very delicious!

We walked around downtown and stopped by a cidery for a tasting.  This is included in our Nova Scotia “Good Cheer Passport” and we were able to get some more stamps.  From there, to a brewery where we got even more stamps.  What a great way to spend a rainy afternoon!

DINNER:  My turn.  White Chicken Chili.  I used a recipe that won me 2nd place at our community chili cook-off a few  years ago.  It was a good night for chili.  Side was a mixed salad – one of those packaged kits from the store – with a Southwestern theme.

WHITE CHICKEN CHILI – Serves 8

2 15-oz can of white beans or 1/2 pound of dry white beans
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion diced
1/2 green bell pepper diced
1/2 poblano pepper diced
2 cloves garlic minced – divided
1/2 jalapeno minced (more or less to taste)
4-oz can chopped green chilies – don’t drain
2 teaspoons oregano
4 teaspoons cumin – divided
2 teasponns chili powder – divided
1 teaspoon cayenne
1-2 bay leaves
garlic salt
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, diced in small cubes
3 cups chicken stock
1 beer (optional)
Hot sauce to taste
4 oz cream cheese
4 oz heavy cream
1 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 bunch cilantro finely diced

DIRECTIONS

If using dry beans, soak them overnight.  Drain, cover with hot water and a bay leaf and garlic salt.  Bring to boil, then simmer about 2 hours.  Drain.  If using canned beans, just drain the beans.  Set aside.

Saute onions, green pepper, jalapeno, and poblano pepper until soft.  Add garlic, canned green chiles, cumin, chili powder, and cayenne, and cook additional minute.  Set aside

In a big pot, brown chicken in olive oil and finish off with the rest of the cumin, cayenne, oregano, and chili powder.  Add chicken broth (and beer, if desired). Add the onion mix.   Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the cooked, drained beans and cook 15 more minutes. 

Add heavy cream, cream cheese, and some of the Monterey Jack cheese.  Cook until  cheese is melted.  Salt,  pepper, and hot sauce to taste. 

Serve with the rest of the Monterrey Jack shredded cheese, oyster crackers, cilantro and/or diced scallions  (Note –  I couldn’t find oyster crackers so used Goldfish crackers). 


Day #202. Onward to explore another part of Cape Breton

LOCATION:  Near Syndey, Nova Scotia in SE part of Cape Breton
CAMPGROUND:  Mira River Provincial Park.  Electricity and water.  Central dump station.  Nice bathroom/showers.  Gravel, level site with picnic table and firepit.  Spacious sites, but not too many trees.  No view of river in our loop. US$28/night.  4 stars out of 5
WEATHER:  Rain most of the day.  High 68
DISTANCE DRIVEN:  1.5 hours

We hung around last night’s campground all morning, enjoying our last views of the ocean.  Everyone has left and we had the place to ourselves.  We went to the Visitors’ Center to do some wifi work and to chat with the hostess about Cape Breton.

Here we are saying good-bye to our park’s lighthouse….

Even though it rained throughout our drive, it was a very pretty route – following Bras d’Or Lake which is huge.  We saw more German real estate signs; this is probably a very attractive potential development area, as prices are low and the landscape is beautiful. 

We got set up in our new campground between rain showers.  It is supposed to rain most of this week, so we are looking into indoor activities…..breweries, distilleries, museums. 

DINNER:  Tony’s turn.  He set up his awning and was able to do the outdoor cooking in the light rain.

He made radiatori (pasta) in a creamy sauce with pesto, shiitake/oyster/cremini mushrooms, onions, and red peppers.  Wow!  Side was Caesar salad.

BOOK:  Reading is one of the pleasures of rainy weather.  I started, then finished, this book today – “7th Heaven” by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro.  It is a part of a different series of his called the Women’s Murder Club Thrillers.  Each chapter has about 3 pages.  So, you finish one chapter, and say – “I will read just one more”, and then before you know it, you’re finished!  4 stars out of 5

Day #201 – Competing for the “Worst Road in Canada!”

LOCATION:  St. Peter’s, Nova Scotia- SW part of Cape Breton
CAMPGROUND:  Battery Provincial Park
WEATHER:  Cool, mostly sunny,  High 68

It rained and howled all night, but the sun came out this morning.  We took our morning walk, sticking to the roads as the paths were muddy. 

Then, off for an afternoon drive around the area.   The road started as a bumpy pavement, with patches on top of patches.  We followed the coast, stopping several times for Tony and George to fish.  (No luck, again). 

At the halfway point, we looked at the map to see how to return.  We really didn’t want to retrace our steps, so decided to take a gravel road.  It was on the paper map as well as the Garmin. Can’t be too bad, right?

Wrong!

It started as a regular gravel road.  Then, the gravel ended and it turned  into a rocky cow path (which is a compliment).  We had about 10 miles on this “path”  and there was no place to turn around.

Impossibly, it just got worse and worse.  Grass was growing up in the middle and there were huge rocks in the lane that we had to avoid as to not cause damage to the things under the car.  Since it had rained last night, there were huge puddles to cross.

We kept saying that it will get better, but it did not.

This road competes with one other Canada road we were on a few years ago with my aunt and uncle.  We had driven to the area where my uncle and mother had grown up.  We were trying to find their old house.  It was down a dirt lane.  Again, it had just rained and the lane was about 1 foot high in mud.  Too late, we realized that there was no place to turn around.  So, we had to back up about 3 miles, with mud up to the top of the tires. We kept getting stuck and had to rock the car back and forth, until we could move again.   It might have been worse than today’s path, but it was only 3 miles, whereas today’s just went on and on. 

It became more narrow, and the bushes were making horrible scraping sounds on the sides of the car as we drove through them.  Tony, our driver today, did a bang-up job, and we have to thank  Sully, the Honda, for a job well-done. This is the view from the back seat showing the “jungle” around us

After about an hour on this path, we arrived at a logging camp.  Whew!  We were so afraid that we were going to end up with some barrier, like a tree across the road or a river without a bridge.  Jenny and I were secretly thinking to ourselves that in worse case scenario, we could walk the remaining 5 miles to a house to get help.  From the logging camp, it was much better.  We survived!!!

We checked out this Pioneer Cemetery to recuperate.  They are the graves of the original Scottish settlers from the island of Harris (as in tweed) with names like McMillen, McFarlan, and Ferguson.  Deaths were in the early 1800s. 

Back at the campground, we rested.  George made a fire and we sat around it, talking about our day’s adventures.

DINNER:  My turn.  Fried rice with chunks of grilled chicken and pork, seasoned with onion, garlic, ginger, and soy sauce.  Side was Asian vegetables. 

Day #200 – It was a dark and stormy night…..

LOCATION:  St. Peter’s, Nova Scotia- SW part of Cape Breton
CAMPGROUND:  Battery Provincial Park
WEATHER:  Cool, cloudy, and rainy.  High 68

We decided to get in an early walk before the predicted rains came in.  We did a city walk, starting at the locks, and following the bay.  After a few kilometers, we climbed up a steep hill into the city itself.  This was a cute road sign near the city limits. Now at 70, I guess the sign applies to me!

As we walked along, we saw cute fire hydrants that the city had painted.

Tony teases us as Jenny and I walk a bit faster than he does, and we are always getting ahead of him.  He says this is the view of us he sees all of the time…..

Our big loop hike  ended back at the locks.

We watched the fishermen and their pretty boats.  It is not lobster season here right now, but First Nations people (Indians) can fish anyway. 

We spent most of the afternoon relaxing while the weather did its thing outside.  I read; George napped.  Then, he and I ran into town for some errands. We want to buy some gas before we  head out, but the gas station (only one in the town) is closed on Sundays!  We topped off our little trip with a stop at the local inn for a drink.   A musician was just starting up….

DINNER:  Tony’s turn, and he went all out.  We started with Bloody Maria’s.  The rain stopped long enough for him to grill pork medallions outside, along with potatoes and a salad.  As soon as he brought the food in, the skies opened up.  We cozily enjoyed our dinner inside, high and dry……it was a dark and stormy night……

BOOK:  “Go Set a Watchman” by Harper Lee, a sequel to “To Kill a Mockingbird”.  Although it has poor reviews, I enjoyed it.  All about racism in the South.  4 stars out of 5

Day #199 – Exploring SW Cape Breton Island

LOCATION:  St. Peter’s, Nova Scotia- SW part of Cape Breton
CAMPGROUND:  Battery Provincial Park
WEATHER:  Cool, cloudy, and foggy.  High 68

The day started out gloomy, so we postponed our morning hike.  Instead, we loaded up the car and went to a laundromat.  What fun!  (Not!)

After that chore, we did get in a good hike, up and down some trails in the park. We teased our tour guide Tony, for taking us on this trail….

Then, for a drive around the area – a bit of a loop around a peninsula.  As we were driving, we saw this resident’s hobby of creating a license plate “jungle”.

And, across the street was a boat called R Day Off in the woods, appearing like it had washed up and settled there.

Our route took us around Bras d’ Or  (Arm of Gold) Lake.   There are a few nice houses with lake views, but a lot of undeveloped property.  There were real estate signs in German all along the road, and after researching it, we learned that a lot of Germans are developing land here. 

Back at the campground, George made a fire and I cooked a bunch of chicken thighs – for both tonight’s dinner as well as a future one.  We bundled up around the fire for happy hour.

DINNER:  My turn.  I made a casserole from a recipe I had found – a hearty dish for a cool evening.  I sauteed onion and garlic, then added spinach (fresh or frozen) and artichoke hearts.  Then, cream, parmesan, and herbs.  After that was bubbling away, I added the cooked chicken (diced) and cooked/drained pasta.  After transferring this from the skillet to a baking dish, I topped it all with mozarella and bacon bits, then baked for about 25 minutes.  Side was caprese salad (using dried basil sadly instead of fresh).