Crazy beautiful views (i.e. day 10)

A full day of driving today, and usually that can be pretty boring, but the endless views kept us guessing! As we’ve now seen a fair bit of coast in both in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia we know just how beautiful it can be, but on our trek to get to Cape Breton we experienced a stretch of inland highway that was just endlessly amazing, and the more you drive the better it got! For ages along Hwy 104 between Truro and Antigonish there are long stretches without any houses or signs of life – the highway seems like it just carved out of the trees and landscape. This is how I picture some of Ontario to be, but maybe a little more flat.

In continuing with our theme of over-sized items we found this 12 metre statue of  Glooscap – a spiritual figure for the Mi’kmaq people aside the highway at the Glooscap Heritage Centre in Truro. Oddly enough this statue had created some controversy and has been moved and altered over the years to face with his rear to the highway as well as underwent a very expensive correction to the statue which addressed his one hand being questionably placed.. Today this is what it looks like:

So our drive to Cape Breton took a fair bit of the day and as we went the gas prices got higher and higher, hovering around 1.03 to 105 cents/litre.  We took a stop in Antigonish for some of that gas and to take a look at some of the famed carved statues of the area. These aren’t just any carvings though, it is the communities attempt to make the best out of a bad situation by carving these pieces from dead/dying elm trees affected by Dutch elm disease.  Unfortunately we were un-successful as they are actually scattered throughout the town and many had fallen over or been removed over the years. We did come to learn though, that Truro (where we JUST were), has quite the collection of statues as many of their trees have been affected. Maybe next time! We did find another interesting spot along the way tho – Auld’s cove has a giant lobster in a giant trap that you can visit.

After a bit of a pit stop we pushed through to Cape Breton with no idea what we wanted to do other than the famous Cabot Trail.  A quick stop at the information centre got us sorted and we decided to do at least half of the trail by the end of the day, taking us to Aspy Bay.  The drive itself is incredible and we wound so recommend it, its made even more beautiful by the changing leaves of fall.  I would hazard to say that if you can help it, try to start the trail it in the morning so you don’t feel rushed – you could truly spend a whole day just stopping at the lookout points and visiting the little towns, or even hiking or whale watching.  Us though, we had from about 1pm and we still rolled into our camp at dark.  Yes, we definitely stopped along the way – mostly because we had this fear that there would be no more civilization or gas stations or food or anything when we got farther north.  So, among the sight seeing we were stopping for groceries and gas and all sorts.  I think we paid something insane like 107 cents/litre but we expected it. Fruits and vegetables were also more expensive but curiously oddly stocked – who has pineapples, kiwis and coconuts but no tomatoes? Nothing was too surprising though,  we did expect some increased costs just flatly because of the location. But honestly, it was worth it – just so so pretty, photo’s don’t do it justice.

As we got into the northern part of the Cape Breton Highlands you reach the national park which is beautiful.  Firstly, at the National Park, the roads switch to perfectly paved and the towns and houses completely stop. There is also an amazing lookout point wherever you turn – pretty much every time you look and think to yourself, “Oh, I want to see that part better!” – pullover because it’s another beautiful scene!  The road itself goes through a mix of coastal and inland parts which give for some great contrasting views.

We started to get worried about time and sunlight so we definitely quickened our pace as we moved along – but one advantage of driving at dusk was that we caught sight of a moose on the side of the road.  She was pretty big and very camera shy so unfortunately no pictures.  Won’t be the last opportunity though I’m sure.  By the time we rolled into our campsite and were pretty much ready to pass out – winding roads, while fun and very pretty, really wear you out!

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A: Truro, NS
B: Antigonish, NS
C: Aulds Cove, NS
D: Aspy Bay, NS

Today’s trek: 400 kms (but over half were super windy roads)

Tomorrow’s Plan: Get a little work done and keep driving the Cabot Trail heading towards Sydney