Walter and Sara On the road to who knows where
On Tuesday August 1st, we pulled up stakes at the North Sydney/Cabot Trail KOA on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia and headed southward. I got a nice shot of the lighthouse just down the way from the KOA.

New Harris Lighthouse

My guess is that it’s a private residence but it may just be there’s a little marina in front of it; it’s hard to tell.

On the other side, there were at least 5 pleasure boats moored out in the water. These were the first pleasure boats we’d seen in Atlantic Canada. But it’s August now and we saw many more over the next few days.

New Harris view

That’s the KOA up on the right.

We continued on the short distance from North Sydney to Lakeview Treasure Campground in Catalone, Nova Scotia where we had a reservation for a two-way site (water and electricity). They didn’t even bother to check our name off a list and just took our $35.65 for the night. They led us out to our spot and pointed at something that I couldn’t believe. They wanted us to back in between a power pole and its guy wire. The fellow moved the picnic table that had been sitting in the middle of the spot and said, “Oh, you can do it.” So we did. There was lots of space across the street so Walter pulled straight ahead and then came back perfectly so we fit right into the spot. Having completed this daring fete he asked me to take a picture of it.

Campsite at Lakeview Family Campground NS

The electrical hook up was only 20-amps but that’s not an issue for us unless we want to run the air conditioning. It was warm (in the high 70’s) but we just opened all the windows and all was good. We made our picnic lunch and then set out to drive the few miles to the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site.

You drive though the little town of Louisbourg on the way. And then at the outskirts of town you come to the parking lots for the Visitors Center. There are 5 of them but since we were arriving at about 12:30 there were spots available in the lot closest to the Visitors Center because the early birds had begun to leave! Score! We headed into the Visitors Center where they actually checked us all in and gave us wrist bracelets—even though they’re not collecting fees this year because of Canada 150. There’s a museum in the Visitors Center but we decided we’d leave that until last (if at all) and headed out the lower level to catch the bus out to the Fortress.

The Fortress of Louisbourg was built by the French in 1713 to protect the busy seaport here. It fell under siege to the British in the 1740’s and was reclaimed by the French and then fell again to a British siege in 1760. The second time, the British took no chances and demolished the place. Reconstruction of about a quarter of the fortress was begun in the 1960’s by the Canadian government.

The shuttle bus takes you out near the outer gate of the Fortress. First you go past a lovely fisherman’s cottage—complete with blooming sod roof.

Desroches House Fortress of Louisbourg

You can go in and learn about fishing for and salting cod. But we gave that a pass. Next you come to the outer gate. There a soldier gives you the basic rules (don’t climb on the grassy walls of the fortress and be out by 5 pm)—all with lots of fun humor since she’s in uniform and playing a role—anyone have any rum? The reconstruction is meant to reflect the fortress as it existed in 1744 so everyone is dressed in historically correct clothing for the period. And all the soldiers have 1744 muskets.

Gate guard Fortress of Louisbourg

From this gate you take the bridge over the moat to enter the Dauphin Gate.  

Dauphin Gate Fortress of Louisbourg

Here it is a little closer up. They had very complete records and plans of the place because the French are great record keepers. They even know a lot about the folks who lived in the houses and those who worked there too.

Dauphin Gate Fortress of Louisbourg

On the other side of the gate there’s a great view along the Quay.

The Quay Fortress of Louisbourg

And you can see the Louisbourg Lighthouse off in the distance too.

Louisbourg Lighthouse

And of course there are cannons pointing out into the harbor. Most of the cannons had these bonnets on their ends. We didn’t hear anyone explain the reason for them but I would expect it was to keep them dry so when you fired them the powder would be dry too.

Cannon Fortress of Louisbourg

The first building on the edge of town is the Lartigue House.

Lartigue House Fortress of Louisbourg

From here you walk past the King’s Storehouse and come to the Frederic Gate.

Frederic Gate Fortress of Louisbourg

Opposite the gate is the main street of the town complete with restaurants which sell 1740’s food for lunch and a bakery that will sell you a soldier’s loaf of bread-though not the heavy rye recipe that they made back in the 1740’s.

Grandchamp House Fortress of Louisbourg

There’s a well (converted to a wishing well for folks to toss coins into) about half way up the block.

Well Fortress of Louisbourg

And there was a merchant out for a walk as we got to the end of the first block.

Merchant Fortress of Louisbourg

All the costumed interpreters were really marvelous and always willing to stop and pose for the cameras.

We went through the Rodrigue House and came out through this lovely vegetable garden with the rows in chevrons down the middle.      

Vegetable garden Fortress of Louisbourg

Pretty much every building and every house has at least one, if not more, costumed interpreter who will give you a little spiel and answer any questions you might have.

We entered the De Gannes House through the kitchen.   

De Gannes House Fortress of Louisbourg

And then went through the sitting room.

De Gannes House Fortress of Louisbourg

This lovely lady was sitting and making lace knotting it based on a pattern and using spindles to keep all the threads straight. She said that she could produce about an inch of lace an hour! But that some of the really ornate lace of the period could take a full day (10 to 12 hours) for a professional to yield an inch.

Lacemaking De Gannes House Fortress of Louisbourg

About this point we heard a drum roll and Walter headed out towards the King’s Bastion. I finished hearing about lace and then joined him to listen to a great talk on the Life of a Soldier.

Soldier Fortress of Louisbourg

At the end of the talk, our guide moved us all over to watch him shoot his musket.

Firing a musket Fortress of Louisbourg

It made a nice big bang and a lot of smoke.

We went on into the King’s Bastion’s Barracks where this young soldier was standing at the door to the Military Chapel. We saw soldiers in blue, red and white/beige coats during the day and I never thought to ask why some of them got to wear red and others blue. The overcoats were all beige though.

Chapel Guard Fortress of Louisbourg

The Military Chapel was really lovely.

Military Chapel Fortress of Louisbourg

We came back out the main entry of the King’s Bastion in time to watch another firing of the musket—this time in French (they do English on one side and French on the other for nearly all their demonstrations). This fellow went through the whole procedure aimed and the gun just went ‘click’. So he tried again and got another ‘click’. At this point, ‘tech support’ arrived to brush out gunpowder residue in the firing area and then clean off the flint.

Cleaning a faulty musket

And then he tried again. Bang!  

Firing a musket Fortress of Louisbourg

Now imagine 30 men all lined up and firing at the same time. So much noise and smoke!

This fellow was standing at the bridge into the Bastion and was kind enough to smile.

King's Bastion soldier Fortress of Louisbourg

I stopped on the way out and took a photo of the King’s Bastion. It was into the sun so the exposure isn’t that great but you get the idea. That’s the Governor’s Apartments on the far left.

King’s Bastion Fortress of Louisboug

We wandered on down through the other main road and out again along the Quay. I stopped into the Grandchamp Inn where the staff was cutting it up talking about providing drink, food, beds and more drink in this workingman’s inn.

Grandchamp Inn staff Fortress of Louisbourg

There was a group of kids and a few matrons gathering at the Frederic Gate for the Children’s Theater presentation.

Children at Fortress of Louisbourg

There are lots of presentations that go on all day (some like the Life of a Soldier happen twice a day). A family could easily spend a full day here if they wanted just going from presentation to presentation not counting the things you have to pay for like firing a musket or a cannon.

We were fading and wanting lunch so we headed back towards the bus. I stopped at Dauphin Demi-Bastion and went through the Postern Tunnel to get the view inside.   

Dauphin Demi-Bastion Fortress of Louisbourg

I climbed up to the top of ramp to get a cannon’s eye view.

View from Fortress of Louisbourg

And then headed back out.

Here’s the Postern Tunnel from the inside.  

Postern Tunnel Fortress of Louisbourg

And the view out its doorway.

Postern gate Fortress of Louisbourg

While I’d been doing this Walter had found a soldier to talk to at the Dauphine Gate.

Walter Cooke and soldier Fortress of Louisbourg

His musket weighs 10 to 12 kilos (20 pounds or so) and he’d actually gotten to fire it at least once.

We made our way back out the gate and over the moat and I stopped to take yet another photo of one of the happy outer gate guards.   

Gate guard Fortress of Louisbourg

This was an all together very enjoyable day. It was sunny and warm so the constant wind out at the site actually felt good. I’m sure there are times it is REALLY cold out there and then all the soldiers would have their overcoats on like this guy did.

You could spend hours here listening to presentations and having lunch. Instead we did a nice walk through, got full as we are prone to do at this point, and headed back to the truck. We drove back into town and found a place to have our lunch along the public dock. From there we had a great view of the Fortress across the harbor.

Fortress of Louisbourg from Louisbourg

It was warm in the trailer when we got back and we opened all the windows. The Lakeview Treasure Campground was full of families who rent their spots for the season. The kids were out walking dogs, running down to the water and generally having fun. So it was not a quiet place but it was happy noise on the whole. the family next door roasted marshmallows and one of the kids yelled, “Grandpa! My marshmallow. It’s REAL fire.” Clearly he’d never caught his marshmallow on fire before—a rite of passage for sure.

We awoke the next morning to more sun. It was already well above 70 when we hit the road driving east along the southern shore of Bras d’Or and then off Cape Breton Island on the Canso Causeway. We continued eastward to Antigonish and the Whidden Park Campground and Cottages. Here we got a pull through 2-way (electricity and water) site for $45 a night. This campground is RIGHT in town—on the corner of Main Street and Hawthorn Streets. We got to trundle down Main Street (which is of course narrow) to get there but we arrived without a hitch. We set up camp (we had to drop the truck because the spot was so far off level front to back) and enjoyed their WiFi which worked great during the afternoon and then came to a standstill at about 5:45—this is very typical of RV Parks. Folks come home for a full day of play and get on the internet.

It got up into the low 80’s and we put out the awnings to keep the sun out. The kids in the pool played Marco Polo for hours on end but gave it up at dusk and everything got quiet.

It was partly cloudy when we awoke the next morning and broke camp one more time. We headed west to Truro and then south towards Halifax. Out in the suburbs of Halifax we got off the main highway and wandered along a minor road following the signs towards Peggy’s Cove and St. Margaret Bay. We turned south along St. Margaret Bay (a very pretty drive along the water) to Wayside Camping Park in Glen Market, Nova Scotia. We had a 3-day reservation for a 3-way (full hook-up) site that we paid $35 a night for. We got into the back-in site on the second try and set up camp. It was about 70’s degrees and the sun had come out about half way there. Lovely. Their WiFi worked well enough for me to pick up mail and check in through Facebook but we were just too far from the signal source for it to work well.

Walter had an infected sebaceous cyst (something he’s gotten from time to time for over 50 years) so we headed back up St. Margaret Bay Road towards the Walk-in Medical Clinic in Tantallon about 15 minutes away. It ended up taking us over 1/2 hour because there’d been an 2-car accident that blocked our half of the road for a good 20 minutes. The good news is that the Walk-in Clinic was empty and they took Walter as soon as the paperwork was complete (which was minimal compared to the paperwork they require in the Urgent Care Clinics in the U.S.). He got his prescription for antibiotics without a hitch (they didn’t even take his blood pressure or anything) and we went downstairs to the pharmacy and had it filled. The doctor’s visit was $60 and the drugs cost $32 for 40 pills. Our Medigap insurance only covers emergencies while we’re out of the country but we felt this was very reasonable for something that really needed to be handled.

Having completed our medical adventure we drove back along St. Margaret Bay Road out to Peggy’s Cove to take a photo of the most photographed lighthouse in Canada. I pulled over along the road and took a shot across the way—note all the people walking around on the rocks by the lighthouse. The rocks are what make this such a picture perfect spot.

Peggy's Cove Lighthouse

And then we drove into the town of Peggy’s Cove itself. This is a tiny little town with only about 75 people but there are inns and restaurants and gift shops because of their famous lighthouse. I found a spot to park a ways into town (in the middle of the day parking can be a real challenge and the few spots available then require you to hike quite a ways back into town.

I headed up the hill and got this nice shot of Peggy’s Cove.

Peggy's Cove NS

It was 68 degrees and fairly humid so it felt pretty warm even with just a t-shirt. I followed the road up the hill and then climbed onto a rocky outcrop where there was a bench and took a shot of the lighthouse.

Peggy's Cove Lighthouse

Here’s a closer look.

Peggy's Cove Lighthouse

It’s the tallest lighthouse we’ve seen on this trip and it’s location does make it pretty striking.

I hiked back down to the truck and then we drove up the hill and past the lighthouse to get turned around so we could head back out of town. I’m really glad we came late in the day (it was about 6 pm) because I cannot imagine how overrun with people this place must be in the late morning and early afternoon when everyone has driven out from Halifax to see it.

When we got back to our campsite (it’s only about a 10 minute drive) I noticed these yellow flowers in bloom on some plants that were a good 4 feet tall.

Pale Touch-me-not or Jewelweed (Impatiens pallida)

I believe this is Pale Touch-me-not or Jewelweed (Impatiens pallida). It’s an annual and can get to be 6 feet tall.

Friday August 4th, it was cloudy when we got up. We drove up St. Margret’s Bay Road and as we got to the town of Tantallon the sun came out. We continued on into Halifax (thank you Carmine the Garmin for good directions) and parked in the Westin Parking lot across the street from the Seaport Farmers Market on the waterfront. We got a spot in the shade of a couple of big trees and headed across the street to the waterfront.

From outside the Farmers Market (it’s indoors and we were on a mission so we didn’t stop) we got a nice view of the lighthouse on an island across the harbor.

Halifax Harbor Lighthouse

There’s a boardwalk that runs from the Farmers Market all the way along the harbor out to the Casino on the other end. We followed it along past this nifty sculpture in honor of Emigrants.

Sculpture to Emigrants Halifax

Halifax Harbor is the second largest harbor in the world—after Sydney Australia. I took panoramas of the whole harbor view and when I processed them it just was too much. So here’s a slice of it to wet your whistle.

Halifax Harbour

We were here for the Halifax Busker Festival. It’s a free festival that takes place on 5 stages along the waterfront. They invite the best street performers in the world to come and perform on 4 of the stages and then have Nova Scotia local talent play at the 5th. Along the boardwalk you also see mimes and musicians who were invited to come too but who are better presented ‘on the street’.

Our first stop was the Heliport Stage where Diogo Alvares, a magician from Brazil (most recently Spain) was just getting ready to begin. We actually found a bench to sit on and watch. He began with a series of tricks with a rope.   

Diogo Alvares magician Halifax Buskers

It’s a great venue as you can see—with the lighthouse in the background and a nice breeze off the water.

He moved on to card tricks and after a while we moved on too.

I stopped and shot of photo of the Helipad Stage from the boardwalk as we walked on. Yes, those light posts are a little strange. They were part of a sculpture on the pier—there was one lying on the ground all twisted up too.

Heliport Stage Halifax NS

There was a great sculpture of red bicycles (with pots of lobelia and red geraniums) just past The Bicycle Restaurant.

Bicycle sculpture Halifax Boardwalk

A little further along we spied the one and only musician they had invited to the Festival, Eugenio Jedi Martinez. He started out as a Flamenco guitarist and now has expanded to his own style playing all sorts of strange stringed instruments with electronic effects. He was playing what looked like a soprano guitar.  

Eugenio Jedi Martinez muscian Halifax Buskers

There were very few other buskers along the boardwalk. I don’t know if they were discouraged from coming (or maybe not really permitted) or just weren’t out yet for the day. But these two were playing lively Cape Breton tunes with a sign that said “University Funds”.

Halifax buskers

They were gone when we came back later so I don’t know if they’d been chased off or just moved on.

There’s a big construction project along the waterfront where they’ve had to close the boardwalk. So they put in a floating boardwalk to bypass it.

Floating boardwalk Halifax

On our way over it the first time it was smooth and easy but on the way back the wind had come up and it was a pretty fun ride with lots of herks and jerks.

About this point we began to think about lunch and discovered that the credit card processing systems were down along the boardwalk so you had to pay cash in the restaurants. We didn’t want to use up all of our Canadian cash for lunch so we opted to wait and see what we could find in the food booths along the way. The view just past Murphy’s (restaurant and boat tour company) was great.   

Halifax Harbor

There are two passenger-only ferries that you can take across the harbor and two of them passed while I had the camera out—one was coming into dock and the other swung around 180 degrees and started off across the harbor.

Passenger ferries Halifax Harbor

In addition to a regular and paddlewheel tour, Murphy’s also offers a harbor tour on Theodore Tugboat—he seems to be related to Tommy the Train.

Theodore Tugboat

We continued on and ended up in an area called the Historic Properties. They’ve taken a series of old warehouses and converted them into shops and restaurants. And in one of the inner courtyards there was the last of the stages where a group of hysterically funny acrobats were doing their show. They reminded me of the Flying Karamosov Brothers on a smaller scale. They were not only funny but put on a good show too. They're called Throw2Catch.

Throw2Catch Halifax Buskers

They used an audience member to control their music (aren’t iPods wonderful—just push 6) and to play the triangle for them.

Throw2Catch Halifax Buskers

By this point we were really hungry and the credit card system was still down so we went and prowled the food booths until we found something we wanted. There were very few exotics (one African booth and no other foreign food) and mostly burgers, sausages and potine (gravy and cheese over French Fries). I found a vegan burger and Walter found a chicken burger and we sat on a stone wall and had our lunch while the folks behind us watched the end of the show on yet another stage.

Having restored our energy levels with food we continued on our way back towards the truck. There were sailboats out in the harbor riding the stiff breeze.
Sailboat Halifax Harbor

And Jenny Jupiter was out posing for us and reacting with great pleasure when anyone put money in her bucket.

Jenny Jupiter Halifax Buskers

I got a number of great photos of her. I think she was my favorite of the single performers of the day and second only to Throw2Catch of all the others.

There were folks out on a sea kayak tour in the harbor too.

Kayaks Halifax Harbor

Simply walking the boardwalk on a nice day would be a great outing in Halifax. Add to it the stages of performers with the Buskers Festival and all the food stalls and vendors (and the carnival rides) and it was a really great day. We went on Friday to avoid the crowds and there were still LOTS of people. The festival runs through Monday (a holiday to honor the founding of Halifax) and had started on Wednesday, I think so it is a long one. It put us both in mind of Seattle Folk Life Festival which is enormous in comparison to this festival. Seattle Center is such a fantastic venue and provides space for so many stages and all that open grassy area for everyone to relax and play on with space for anyone who want to play any sort of instrument and do any sort of act too.

We managed to find the truck again okay (it had a new splat of seagull poop on it but what do you expect when you park under a tree). And the electronic payment machine worked at the exit of the parking lot ($10.50 for 3 hours)--whew. We only hit a bit of traffic on our way out of town and were both pretty tired (in a happy tired sort of way) when we got back to the campground. I walked cross the road and got a shot of St. Margaret Bay to give you a sense of the area—there’s nowhere to park anywhere along the road out to take photos.

St Margaret Bay Glen Margaret NS

It’s a lovely bay with very nice houses along the shore and a yacht club where we saw small sailboat races two of the times we drove by.

Saturday August 5th it was cloudy again when we awoke but it burned off quickly. We had highs in the high 70’s with humidity in the high 70’s too. I did laundry and Walter took his computer down to the office and used the WiFi there where it worked really well. We were just far enough way from the transmitter that it only worked off and on just to pick email up but he said it was really fast at the office.

The rest of the day was dedicated to a few in household chores and a DOWN DAY! It’d been a long time since we’d had a full day of not going anywhere or doing anything and it was much needed.