|Today we woke to a beautiful morning. Breakfast was at 7:00 and we ate with Annie, Joanne & Dick, and Kim.
We were on the coach at 8:00 for our long day on the Cabot Trail. To those not familiar, the Cabot Trail takes you completely around Cape Breton Island, usually along the coastline. As the satirical song says, in Canada what you see is "trees and rocks, and rocks and trees, and trees and rocks, and water." Now, once again, I had traveled the Cabot trail back in 1966, but for Jean this was a brand new experience.
We had a local guide on the coach, Napoleon "Napi" Chiasson, a gentleman of Acadian descent. He had us take the trail clockwise, starting on the western shore of the St. Lawrence Bay. He discussed the physical features of the island, largest city Sydney (28 nationalities). Then he discussed the Acadian people and their history. He talked about the areas in which we passed through.
We stopped at the Saint Pierre Church in Cheticamp where Napi talked about the history of the current church. It was completed in 1893. However, the plaster was not added until 1910, and many of the artwork and statues were not in place until 1957. The priest who started the building of this church was honored with his entombment in the basement in a small grotto. There is a hooked rug portrait of the priest on the back wall of the tomb.
Our next stop in the same town was a hooked rug museum, called Les Trois Pignons (The Three Gables). Our guide for the museum (after everyone had their WC break) was Louise, a young girl who led us through the museum. The first section was furniture and tools, and other items that were donated by Marguerite Gallant. Louise showed us in the displays early examples of rugs. One early example was a braided rug. Then they started to do hooked rugs using rags, and potato sacks for the base. Nowadays they use wool and burlap.
The second section was 48 hooked rugs by locals, and the last couple of rooms by Elizabeth LaFort, who did portraits, religious themes, a large tapestry of the US Presidents and scenes of US history, surrounded by the 50 state flags, and another tapestry of the Canadian Premiers surrounded by scenes of Canadian history and the Province and territory flags. Each of these large tapestries had been offered to their respective governments, and were refused by the US and Canada. Elizabeth passed away in 2005 at the age of 91, still doing her rugs.
We then entered Cape Breton Highlands National Park after paying for the bus. Napi pointed out the various names for the lakes, mountains and areas. The region is breath taking in its natural beauty. Napi said that a lot of car commercials are done up here. We made a photo stop for our group shot near French Mountain, and I also grabbed KIm for a shot with us.
Our next stop was to have our picnic lunch in the MacIntosh Brook rest/picnic area just after reentering the national park past Pleasant Bay. The picnic lunch was on the coach with us from the hotel's restaurant in two coolers. The two choices were ham & cheese or turkey sandwich. We had both ordered the turkey and included with lunch was a bag of potato chips, an apple, cookie, a mint and a drink. We had 40 minutes for lunch. We ate with John and Gloria discussing theater and the arts. They volunteer at one of their local theaters.
We met a couple at the picnic grove from Kent, Ohio who were bicycling through Canada. They had left May 14th after he had retired on May 1. They had been through Gaspe Bay and other parts of Canada, and were headed to Newfoundland. They will fly home at the end of their journey since it will almost be winter.
Our last WC stop was at Black Brook Beach. We had about 20 minutes for WC and those who wanted to dip their toes, they could. It was quite a busy beach. Then we continued our journey with Napi pointing out some more natural wonders. We arrived back at the hotel about 4:30.
Dinner was at 5:40. We had preordered this dinner. I had ordered the pork chop and Jean had ordered potpie. We ate with Larry and Judy. Judy worked as an accounting teacher for a local community college. We also discussed travels.
We went into town at 7:15 to St. Michael's Parish Hall for the 7:30 Baddeck Gathering Ceildh for Cape Breton fiddle music, song and dance according to their flyer. A ceildh is a social event that usually involves playing Gaelic folk music and dancing, which pulled together everything we saw at the college yesterday. We took the bus up to the hall.
We got seats in the font row to hear a fiddler and piano player. The piano player was the same one woman who played and danced yesterday. They played three sets of march, strathspeys and reel. During the fourth set, they asked for four couples to come and dance. Jean and I volunteered. The dance we learned was more square dancing than Gaelic dancing. The next set was performed on border pipes, a simpler version of bagpipes. Instead of constantly blowing, you use a small bellows under your right arm for the airflow.
Then it was 8:30 and they took a break. We decided to walk back. After packing, we collapsed in our room from the long day.