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Day 15- This Isn’t Kansas Anymore

I got up early in Halifax, intent on getting a little more laundry done since the hotel had a guest laundry room. I wanted to wash the towels and the dog’s blankets. I felt bad that Tenzin’s car binkies hadn’t gotten washed when we were at Acadia and at this point were stinky and here we had a clean dog. So I wanted to get his binkies clean too so he could enjoy his time in the car. I was up at 6:30am getting the laundry into the washing machine.

Tom was very nervous about the fact that we had a lot of driving to do that day and was annoyed that I was working on the blog rather than getting breakfast. Once we figured out that he just wanted to go to the hotel restaurant and get something, we packed up and went downstairs to eat while the clothes were in the dryer. The restaurant there was terrible. Their breakfast paled compared to the eggs Steve Chapin had made us the day before and it took way too long.

But we were able to hitch the trailer quickly and be back on the road with clean towels and binkies shortly after 9am. Now we just needed to find somewhere to get some gas. We wanted to find something close to the highway so we didn’t lose too much time getting off the beaten path. Tom tried using the Google maps on the iPad to find something and we were reminded once again that Google maps SUCK in Canada. We kept seeing exits that had no gas listed. And we kept driving. And then the empty tank light came on and we started to get really nervous trying to figure out how many miles/km we could go. We finally found a gas station and pulled in on what might have been fumes. There was also a Tim Horton and we got some iced coffees and timbits for the road. I don’t think that I had every really realized that Tim Horton is really just Dunkin’ Donuts Canadian style.

As we drove across the island again, we found that it really looked a lot like anywhere. It could have almost been the midwest US. But then you get to the Canso Causeway, which crosses over to the island that makes up Cape Breton and the scenery changes. For awhile, it’s a lot like driving along Route 1 in California.

We stopped along the way at a Co-Op to pick up some groceries and get some lunch. It was surprisingly hot that afternoon and we were making good time with the trip. We parked the trailer and went into the grocery and were surprised to be accosted by someone who walked up and started talking to us about being from NY. Clearly, he had watched us park and had followed us into the store. It freaked me out a little, but that’s just how open and friendly people in this part of Canada are.  People throughout the store were chattering about us and our little trailer. We started wondering if no tourists ever shopped here, but we persisted in finding some good things to cook while camping and pick up fresh local milk and eggs and Canadian bacon.

Once you get to the National Park and the Cabot Trail, the scenery changes again and becomes something you’ve never seen. The road winds up and down and twists and turns on mountains with fantastic vistas of the sea and completely flat mountain tops. There are look-offs all along the road and we realize that is just what they call them here. A storm chases us as we wend our way up the trail and we can see it out over the ocean and behind us in the rearview mirror.

At one look-off I see what looks like a whale, but by the time Tom gets back with the binoculars I can’t pick it out again. We are headed across one of the flat mountain tops when we suddenly see two bikers- one of them an old man with a long white beard riding a high wheel bicycle. You know, the kind that was popular back in the 1880s. We were both befuddled by the sight. As Tom said “I never thought I’d see Santa Claus riding a bike across a mountain.” We stopped at the next look-off and waited for them to come by so we could get pics and ask questions. And we were shocked to see his braking system- foot on back wheel and think about the mountain road on the way down.

The next section of the road was tremendously scary. It was steep. It was windy. It was the kind of thing that made Tom and I both happy for the Subaru and the easy handling of the Shadow. And grateful that he had decided to bike the next day and not this one.

As we got to the lower part of the mountains, we suddenly saw two moose come across the road. They were huge and majestic and calmly hurried across- a big one and a little one. Ten minutes later, we saw another pair do the same thing. We were able to quickly grab the camera, but only got one good shot of the moose.

Once we got to the Hideaway Campground and Oyster Market, we got the campsite setup and headed off to see their little waterfront. We liked the campground there- it had great wooded sites and good bath facilities despite the paid showers. There was a cool piece of driftwood there that looked like a dinosaur skeleton. I made Tom’s favorite pasta dish for dinner (penne with red pepper, black olives and mozzarella in a balsamic vinegar sauce) and we had a nice evening by the fire.  At some point, Tom noted that in the end “all these camps are the same once it gets dark. It’s dark, there are trees. It could be anywhere.” I beg to differ. Some places aren’t dark. Some places don’t smell as nice as this pine forest. Some places don’t have trees. And it is comforting to know that no matter what’s outside we always have our comfy little trailer to settle into to sleep.

Pics from today are here- http://bit.ly/bamxmK