Inverness, NS to Baddeck, NS

A bunch of miles in the U-Haul van
Home: Bras d’Or Lake Campground

We were expecting morning rain, but not as early in the morning as the rain came. Luckily there was a dry window for breakfast and packing up the tent, and it certainly helped to have the van available. The open rear doors gave a sort-of-dry surface for staging, and Rett sat in her dry seat to eat. Still, operating in the weird hybrid realm between RV and bike-camping requires some awkward transitions.

Due to the weather forecast, we changed up our vague plan of continuing north to do a clockwise circle of the famed Cabot Trail, and instead diverted east to do some less-scenery-dependent activities until the weather improved. The rain cooperated with that decision, with showers continuing on-and-off for most of the day. And there were some really strong winds too, churning up whitecaps on the lakes we drove along, making it difficult for Rett to believe that they weren’t the ocean. The conditions made us feel bad for last night’s bike tourers in camp, who were already gone by the time we were up in the morning.

We stopped for lunch at Big Spruce Brewing. In some light rain, we got beers and then crossed a small outdoor gap to hole up in a small one-room stand-alone building with several live-edge tables but no bar, server, or anything else. And it was interesting how something about that egalitarian setup seemed to make it particularly conducive to inter-table communication. We talked with most of the other parties, though none more than the couple mirroring us with their twinning Arc’teryx tops, who surprised us by asking “are you two bikers?” What the hey? We’re driving a van, the bikes are hidden inside…has nearly a year on the bikes just made us look like bikers? Maybe, but it sounded like our handlebar bags were also a giveaway. They were also long-term travelers, though in a small truck-camper, and they were familiar with Baja because they had, almost on a whim, bought land and built a house there recently! All sorts of inspiration for our future, so we had a lot to talk about. We decided this sort of socialization was more valuable than checking out the Alexander Graham Bell museum as we’d planned (he moved here to Baddeck for his later years); maybe tomorrow!

Big Spruce Brewing apricot sours, generously purchased for us by our new friends.

We booked two nights in a cabin at this campground to wait out rain, and with the rain continuing on and off through the evening and overnight, it felt like the right call. Even with the van, being able to cook out on the covered porch, and being able to enter and exit a place without bringing water in with us, made everything a lot more comfortable. Too bad the 2018 Imperial Stout we brought home from the brewery became a neverending fountain of foam when I popped the top, but the 3/4s that was left was really good with our zuppa toscana dinner.

Our U-Haul pulled up next to our cabin.

Day 2

It was still raining in the morning, and came down so heavy on our drive that I had the wipers turned up to maximum for a few moments. But it stopped perfectly in time with our arrival to the Highlands Village Living History Museum. Set up on a hillside above Lake Bras d’Or, it replicates the dwellings of Scottish immigrants to Cape Breton. They’ve done a really nice job of arranging the various donated buildings and artifacts (which must arrive sort of randomly) into a cohesive journey forward in time, and the characters did a great job of communicating interesting and useful information while staying in their period roles. They also greet in Gaelic, the language the island is making significant efforts to revive (road signs, like those indicating the name of towns or rivers, have place-names in both English and Gaelic).

This stone house (smelling wonderfully of smoldering peat) is the one “pre-migration” Scottish building created on site.
Rett, after passing through the ‘Outlander’ stones looking back in time for Jamie Fraser (or maybe Braveheart?)
Easy to imagine we’re back in time here, though there are more trees than in the Scottish Highlands.
Farm above the lake.
Elderly horse.
The actors seemed to naturally go visiting from house to house when bored, which really made it feel like we were living in their village!
Rett looking to the Highland Village from the barn.
Rett running down the wildflower hillside towards the late-19th century part of the village.
Rett and Lake Bras d’Or.

On the way home we made another stop at Big Spruce, but made sure (in the now-sunny conditions) to get our own table outside so we could discuss plans for our next days. More soup dinner, and then, for the first time in forever, we set up our projector inside the cabin to watch the first half of ‘Anne of Green Gables’, in anticipation of our upcoming visit to Prince Edward Island!

The far side of (our lobe of) Lake Bras d’Or.


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