Let us Yanks in on this strange English term, ok? ;)
Let us Yanks in on this strange English term, ok? ;)
The scouser is a persson from the Liverpool area of the UK> They have an almost unintelligable accent and the stereotype suggests that they are all unemployed and will stab you if you make eye contact with them or steal the wheels from your car if you are foolish enough to park in their area. Check out this comedy clip
I think it would be fair to describe the start of the day as up and down. And then up again. After waking just in time to watch the sun rise over Mahone Bay I went back to sleep for an hour before freshening up and then going downstairs in the knowledge there was a cooked breakfast with my name on it... which is always a pretty good way to start the day, in my book.
Having said my goodbyes to my hosts I hopped in the car and headed off in the direction of Halifax but, little more than two miles down the road, I had stopped again. There was no traffic jam nor was there any car trouble. No, the problem was there was a man stood in the middle of the road and he positively refused to let me drive round him, despite my best efforts. To be fair he was wearing a uniform with the letters RCMP on it and he was stood beside a car with lights flashing on its roof. Thankfully he was a decent sort and, upon hearing I was from London, he waved me on as, "it's too much paperwork to book you and you Brits can drive so much better than the locals anyway!"
After that reassurance I made exceptionally good time - and, as my confidence grew in the car, I had an exceptionally good time! - and was soon turning in to the parking lot for the memorial to Swiss Air flight 111. I sat there for some time looking out to the site where the plane crashed in 1998 and couldn't help but feel, as someone who does their fair share of air travel, a connection with the people who were on that plane. It seems incongruous that they should have suffered such violent deaths in such a tranquil and beautiful setting. It was a shame that a bus load of tourists had to roar up and ruin the moment as its passengers descended on the site, laughing loudly, talking on their mobiles phones and posing for photos around the memorial. I was about to say something to them when I realised they were all speaking German so I decided to leave them to it and made my way to the nearby town of Peggys Cove.
It has to be said that Peggys Cove is a really cool little (and certainly it is little!) old fishing village which has, unfortunately, been ruined by tourists such as myself wandering around photographing everything in sight. It's said that Peggys Cove is one of the most photographed places in the whole of Canada which, when you figure that list will include destinations such as Toronto's CN Tower, the Expo and Olympics sites in Montreal, and Chateau Frontenac in Quebec you get an idea of the scale of the problem. That's not to say I didn't like Peggys Cove - far from it - and I spent several hours wandering round it and photographing it from every angle. It's fair to say that I liked it a lot.
The road from Peggys Cove to Halifax is quite surreal - almost like something you'd find in Utah or Arizona - only colder. The road winds its way between huge boulders deposited on the land by glacier movement creating not only a unique landscape but a really challenging drive. I was really enjoying myself and I was somewhat disappointed to reach the end of the road.
My disappointment subsided when I got out of the car and checked out the city. I wandered first through the Citadel, then past the Old Town Clock down towards the waterfront. I've always felt cities - particularly those in North America - to be such impersonal places but somehow Halifax felt different.
For the past few days I'd been hearing that the USA and Canada were facing each other on the ice in Halifax but it came as a surprise to discover, as I passed the Metro Centre, that it was in fact a fully fledged World Championship. With fans from all over the world on the streets it really added to the vibe about the place. I was offered tickets for the big game but $250 was too steep.
Down on the waterfront there was something of a carnival atmosphere; I watched people ignoring warning signs and trying to clamber up on top of a huge concrete ‘wave' (guess you have to see it for yourself), people were socialising in bars and restaurants and there was even a colossal sailing boat which had sailed across from the Isle Of Man - I was told it was being used as a base for a movie star attending a movie premiere nearby. And then there was the ice hockey. Fans from Finland, Germany, Latvia - in fact most countries in Europe seemed to be represented with the exception of the UK - were milling around dressed in their country's colours and heckling their opposition and lapping up the sunshine as official team cars with registration plates from all over Europe cruised on by.
It was a great atmosphere but, much as I wanted to stick around and savour it for the evening, the hotel rates were insane so I decided to get some miles behind me and headed off in the direction of Cape Breton Island. I had thought about camping and followed the signs off the highway to a likely looking campground but I was afraid for my safety when I saw the people running it so I took off again! In the end I made it here to the Cove Motel which is just a mile or so from the causeway which leads on to Cape Breton. It's the usual motel fayre - undecorated (and very probably uncleaned) since the seventies - with the notable exception of the ridiculous price. I did consider turning around and heading back to the campground but I was starting to get frustrated and worried that I might have another encounter with the local police so I decided to hand over the cash and retire to my rather tired looking room for the night.
Originally published on - and Copyright retained by - Boogity, Boogity, Boogity
Previous: Finding my feet in Nova Scotia
Next: Cape Breton Island & The Cabot Trail
Last edited by UKCraig; 05-18-2009 at 07:36 AM. Reason: formatting
I must be missing something -- what was the road hazard that he was supposed to be stopping you from?To be fair he was wearing a uniform with the letters RCMP on it and he was stood beside a car with lights flashing on its roof.* Thankfully he was a decent sort and, upon hearing I was from London, he waved me on as, “it’s too much paperwork to book you and you Brits can drive so much better than the locals anyway!”
Beautiful photos -- thanks for the update!
I was going just a little too speedily for him...
You are a charmed man...
I woke early and left early. The Cove Motel was that grim. First stop was the tourist information centre - something that they seem to do very well indeed in Canada - and I was furnish with more information than you could possibly imagine, or indeed digest, the most important piece being that all the trails in Cape Breton Highlands National Park were likely to be snowbound and closed. Seeing as I was heading straight on up there I was somewhat disheartened to hear this but decided to head on up anyway; if only to experience the fabled Cabot Trail - the road which runs around the northern part of the island and which is regarded as one of the most scenic drives in the world.
With my plans to spend a couple of days up in the national park in tatters I decided to slow down and enjoy the rest of the island instead. Once I had passed the initial 10 or 15km - which looked much the same as anywhere else - the scenery started to change and I started to fall in love with the place. I was going to enjoy my enforced slowdown; stopping to chat with locals, exploring side roads and tiny harbours. One particular road was just the ticket and gave me chance to turn off the traction control and practice being Colin McRae for mile after mile of rough dirt track. Let me say now - and please god don't let the rental company be reading this - the Dodge Charger is one under-rated car. For a big car it handles like an absolute dream off road and I had the time of my life driving it. The only downside was that, being an automatic, it suffered from not doing exactly what I wanted it to do and I almost dropped it into a large ditch at one point... if ever you decide to buy one go for the manual option!
Cape Breton Highlands National Park, when I finished playing off road, was very much open much to my delight. As ever the rangers in the visitor centre were friendly and helpful and seemed genuinely pleased that I'd taken time out to visit their park. I found that charming. After receiving some advice about the wildlife - I should admit here that I have a bit of an issue with the idea of being eaten by a bear - I headed off into the park and towards trail number 7 - the Skyline Trail. It was a moderate 5-mile trail through a relatively level wooded area which I had entirely to myself with the exception of a curious moose (which scared the crap out of me until I realised it wasn't a bear - something which took a couple of seconds to digest!) My reward at the end was a spectacular coastal landscape - utterly awesome - but my hope of sitting there and enjoying the view in peace were dashed when I discovered that three people were already sat at the end of the trail enjoying the view in anything but peace so I made my way back along the - somewhat tougher - return trail.
This slowing down business gave me more time to ‘smell the flowers' as someone had put but it was pretty damn time-consuming and my mind now turned to where I was going to spend the night. I pulled out my park map and spotted a small community named Meat Cove which was located at the very north of the island and accessible only along a 10km long unpaved road. On a whim I decided to head out there and what an inspired choice that proved to be. That Charger was put through its paces once again - without incident this time - and I arrived at the very end of the road to discover... a campground. I was told that it had yet to open for the season (surprise, surprise!) but they took pity on my apparent look of disappointment and told me that I was welcome to pitch tent wherever I liked and then refused my grateful offer of payment.
I chose the most amazing spot on a tiny headland overlooking the ocean and excitedly set up camp. My tent has been all over the place with me and is so well-used that it is reaching the end of its useful life but there is one thing that I am sure of - not once have shared an evening in such a spectacular location. I was totally moved by the experience and spent two or three hours sat right out on the rocks watching the sun set and then staring at the stars. I went to bed around 1am and I did have a little smile to myself that, if I'd have been back in the UK, I'd have been getting up for work around that time. I have to say I rather prefer this new way of life!
The next morning I woke in time to watch the sun rise whilst I sat in my sleeping bag and then sat there for another hour or two just watching the waves crashing against the rocks and the birds hunting for food. I had been told that there were whales off the coast but I never did see any. Eventually I decided that I best head off along that rather marvellous dirt track once more as I had an important mission; last night I had dropped and broken my camera and I needed to buy a new one.
I had been kicking myself for not bringing my old one as a spare as the scenery was - as ever - simply stunning but everything happens for a reason and I was able to enjoy the ride rather than swinging off the road every five minutes to take photos. I stopped to do another longish hike - somewhat more strenuous this time - and then left the park in the direction of Sydney where I hoped to find somewhere to pick up a camera.
The last time that I had to buy a new camera I was in Alabama and popped in to the local Walmart and was amazed to receive a high level of help so, when that was the first store that I found in Sydney, I decided that I couldn't go far wrong in repeating the exercise. And it was a repeat; the guy (who, it transpired, was from the UK) couldn't have been any more help and I soon left with exactly what I needed. It's not as good as my old camera but it was cheap and does everything I needed it to do. I know I should have been angry at myself for breaking my old one but I was still so high on the last couple of days that I couldn't care less.
I had liked the national park so much - definitely up there with Death Valley and Zion in my top three parks - that I decided to heed the advice of the ranger I met in the park and head on down to the reconstructed Louisbourg Fortress. Unfortunately, having driven an hour out of my way, I arrived to find that it was... yes, you've guessed it, closed for the season. I was unimpressed to say the least - especially having visited on the advice of someone who should probably have known this - and sat there for a bit not sure what to do or where to go next.
My next destination was Caribou to catch the ferry to Prince Edward Island but, according to the satnav, this was five and a half hours drive away which would have seen me roll into town some time after 11pm. With the last ferry leaving at 9pm and having had little sleep the previous evening this wasn't too attractive an option but I decided to head in that general direction and find somewhere to spend the night part way. I couldn't understand how it could possibly take that long to cover a little under 200 miles but ten minutes sat at a stop sign waiting to go through some road works (I'm not kidding) and the unbelievably slow driving of the locals soon made me realise. Eventually I had the good fortune to hook up behind a white van (they're the same the world over, it seems) whose driver was apparently on a mission and I followed in his slipstream for the next four hours - I will not mention the speeds that we were doing at times in case it is used as evidence against me - until I was just ten miles from the ferry terminal where I turned in to the Tara Motel in New Glasgow. After going for 36 hours without a shower or a shave it felt so good to finally be able to freshen up and get a proper nights sleep.
Nova Scotia - and Cape Breton Island in particular - have been an absolute blast. I've gone from indifference to the trip to excitement and I felt sad to leave it behind.
Originally published on - and Copyright retained by - Boogity, Boogity, Boogity
Previous: Halifax and Peggy's Cove
Next: Prince Edward Island
Last edited by UKCraig; 05-18-2009 at 07:34 AM. Reason: formatting
A "curious" moose would be more terrifying to me than a crankie old bear.... I don't have any stats handy, but I bet Moose kill more people each year than just about ever kind of bear out there...
Here are some moose safety tips. I'm continue to enjoy your updates, Craig! Glad you found a friendly moose!
Wow, that really looks like an amazing place to camp -- how were the winds? Did you ever find out why it is called "meat cove"?I chose the most amazing spot on a tiny headland overlooking the ocean and excitedly set up camp.