Now that I’ve done it, I don’t understand how it didn’t make it on to my original list. I’m adding “Drive the Cabot Trail in the fall” to the list because of how spectacular the drive was.
Cape Breton tourism says the trail can be driven in 5.5 hours if you don’t stop. And maybe some people could do it that quickly, but I am not one of them. It was a 14 hour day for me, and worth every blessed minute. I left Aunt Liz and Uncle Danny’s at 8am on August 23rd. The sky was cloudless, the sun was shining, and the air was fresh. I had a map, studied the previous night, and a cooler with my remaining sandwiches and juice boxes. My phone was charged, and my camera was almost dead. Because I’m the prepared type, I also had my parents’ camcorder with me.
It took me almost four hours to get from Sydney to Ingonish. According to Google, it can be done in two. I kept on getting distracted. First, there were the places you can pull off the road to take pictures. Then there was the pewter shop, the leather shop, the glass blowing studio, and the quilting shop. And finally, there was the caravan of RV’s and lack of passing lanes. But it was mostly the scenery and the shops slowing me down.
I made it to Ingonish Beach around noon. One of the cousins I had met at Joe’s had told me to stop there for lunch and to see the ocean. I wasn’t too sure about swimming in the ocean, but I was very glad I did.
I spent two and a half hours playing in the water at Ingonish before getting on the road again. The next detour along the way was a wrong turn that took me up to Meat Cove via a very long stretch of road under construction. It was still a beautiful drive, and when I began to suspect I was going the wrong way I stopped and asked someone to please confirm I was not where I was trying to go. They knew exactly where I had taken my wrong turn and told me how to get back there, which I managed without incident.
I stopped for pictures a lot when I driving through the Aspy Valley. The mountains were just beautiful. I had never seen land like that before. It was breathtaking and beautiful and magnificent. My eyes were feasting on all the green while my skin soaked up all vitamin D it could want. For the first time in my life I made it through a day in the sun without getting burnt, which I consider an accomplishment.
I stopped for dinner in Chéticamp and was impressed with how seriously the Acadian people take their culture. As my friend Matthew put it, “Everything that can be decorated with an Acadian flag, shall be decorated with an Acadian flag.” I don’t remember what I ate, I was paying far more attention to the start of the sunset over the water.
I stopped briefly in Baddeck for gas and then continued on back to Sydney. It was just after 10pm when I got home.
It was a long day, but it was beautiful. I enjoyed the solitude a lot more than I thought I would. Really, it’s probably a good thing I did the drive on my own. Anyone driving with me would have gotten frustrated with how frequently I stopped to take pictures with the camcorder or my cell phone, and annoyed with my singing along to “Song for the Mira”.