Monday, September 28, 2009

Moose on the beach, Cape Breton, NS

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Another moving day. Heading north toward the tip of Cape Breton, we intended visiting a Buddhist monastery that Vince had recommended. We took the Red River exit and began up the windy, narrow road to the top of the mountain. About half way up, I saw the sign. The monastery accepts no visitors on either Saturday or Sunday. Tough break, but we got over it quickly. Everywhere along this road were turnouts that offered spectacular views of the ocean. The whale watching here is hot and heavy. The trick is to track the tour boats. They are filled with tourists and the skippers know where the whales are. Getting out the astronomy binoculars I set up the tripod and looked in on several pods. Pretty amazing. I only wish I had the kind of binoculars that one can take pictures through. Someday. Driving further up the Cape I happened to spot a moose on a beach. Pulling over to get a better view we were soon joined by several other motorists. The scene reminded me of Yellowstone. Anytime there's a buffalo sighting the highway becomes an instant parking lot. Well, pretty much the same here. We got out and walked to the beach for a closer look. After a few minutes I starting feeling sorry for the old bull. Not long after the “officials” arrived I assumed they'd help him get to wherever he was going. Nice to see wildlife even if it isn't very wild. The way the world population is expanding there may come a day when zoos will be the only place such animals will be permitted to exist, and even that might just be a short reprieve before a mass extinction. Over the next hundred years mankind will make the choices that will determine not only the fate of wildlife but our own as well. Superstition, ignorance, greed and religion will be difficult forces to overcome. If Obama can't get a health care reform bill passed, then what chance is there for meaningful changes in any future American policy?
Meanwhile back on the road, things were getting dicey. The mountains we had to cross were no trifling matter. They were more like The Rockies than what you'd expect on a small island. The downward grades were so steep that I had to pull over several times to let my brakes cool. The brake control for the Casita wasn't on a high enough setting to do any good. Once I got that set, things were better, but I have a feeling I'm going to need new brakes by the time we get back to Sierra Vista.
To be a successful traveler, one must be flexible. Originally, we thought we'd be spending the night in a Buddhist monastery; however, we now found ourselves still on the road and no definite place to stay. OK. No problem. Going to Newfoundland was still on the table so we headed for North Sydney. Somewhere along the way, we both came to the conclusion that, considering the weather, it might be advisable to save New Newfoundland for another year. Going another couple hundred miles further north did not seem like a good idea. Consequently, we resurrected our previous goal of visiting Louisbourg, a historic site on the east coast. One of the many things Carol is good at doing is consulting the North American Camping guide while I'm driving. It contains most of the pertinent information one needs in selecting a good campground. With that criteria in mind, she located the Mira Lake Provincial Park, just 10 miles from the historic fortress. To get there we had to take a ferry across a fairly narrow body of water, then traverse some of the worst roads Nova Scotia has to offer. And that is saying something. In all our travels, this part of Canada wins the dubious award of having the largest pot holes and the worst roads overall.
Before we reached the campground, we stopped for lunch at the Clucking Hen. It was here we discovered Cape Breton's one and only weather station. Now the reason I included the picture of the Weather Stone will become apparent shortly.
Once we arrived at campground, we went into the front office to pay for our site. Here we were surprised to learn the park was near empty. The reason for this is that another hurricane was fast approaching. Yeah, another freaking storm. “Nothing for it,” I said to Carol. “We'll just have to batten down the hatches and ride this one out right here”.
We worked quickly and steadily and got the Casita set up before the wind started to really blow. The rains would come in another hour or two and that's when we got fully acquainted with Hurricane Danny.

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