Happy Canada Day

We slept well at this bed and breakfast and I took a slow morning, barely making it down to (a delicious) breakfast by their deadline of 9:00 a.m.  I found it curious that they had a CD of Irish music playing in the background, when the area is known for the Cape Breton Scottish-style fiddle music.  I remember the section of the Opening Ceremony at the Olympics when they had slightly manic fiddlers dressed in tartans burning up the stage with their music.  The mystery of the Irish music was solved when it was revealed that one of the artists on the CD was their daughter, who was studying music back in their home country of Ireland.

We head into Baddeck to get gas (note interesting pump), leaving behind two-toned lupine at Auld Farm Inn:

We happened onto a car show in tiny downtown Baddeck.  (By the way, one tourist website said they get as many visitors in summer as does Halifax.  Either that’s overstating Baddeck, or understating Halifax, but since we were there at the beginning of their “season” I have no way to judge the amount of tourist traffic they get.)  This car show was the European Import Car Show, and some had driven up from Nova Scotia that morning to put their car next to another.

We enjoyed this slice of small town life, even coaxing an owner to take our photo while we sat in his car.

His name was Waylet Clarke, from New Glasgow, and he is the original owner of this forty-year old Austin Healey.  It was a beauty.

Other details from the car show follow.

Here’s the glorious sunny day we needed yesterday when we drove the Cabot Trail. However we are leaving the area, driving down Highway 105, along the eastern edge of the island.  We stopped only to photograph more yard art (below), as we were trying to get into Halifax for the fireworks for Canada Day.

This person is crazy about the Simpsons.  There must have been over 40 of these characters.

More road.  We saw lots of road, for unless the coastal highway 16 is taken, there’s only one way into Cape Breton and one way out.

So then we got hungry.

I kid you not: it WAS a lobster sandwich at McDonald’s.  Around here, in “New Scotland,” or Nova Scotia, they take their McDonald’s — or MacDonald’s as it is more commonly seen — seriously.  We split the sandwich, only wanting a taste.  That was enough.

We arrived at our Bed and Breakfast in Halifax, and remember that post about insipid Celtic music that was played to distraction in the late seventies and eighties?  This couple had that music on in the background.  Fine for the first day, but by the end of our trip, it really got to us me.  I noticed that when the husband served us breakfast, he’d slyly forward the current song to a new one.  I’m guessing he was under orders to keep “the mood” going at all times, not realizing that the favored background music these days is Big Band Standards or light jazz.

Generally we found the whole place to be about the look of things, although they got a lot of the substance right too.Their bedroom was comfortable, the breakfasts delicious (except for the pathetic bag lunch on the last morning when we left early), but in spite of all that we took to calling it the Faux Bed and Breakfast.  It was just so–so–cutesy/classical/Victorian or the appearance thereof.  (Can you tell we’ve stayed in too many of these all in a row?)

We made it to Halifax, walking down through a small street fair to the harbor front.  (I realize I’ve been spelling “harbor” as “harbour” all this time, because that’s the spelling I see on the maps I refer to of Canada.)  This sculpture is called The Wave and the sign says strictly that no climbing is allowed.  Okey, dokey.

Dave’s shot of the reflected flag shows another view of the sculpture.  I thought it was funny that the children would climb to the top, then slide down the wave, as if they were at a park jungle-gym.

This year is the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Navy and they had quite a few large ships in port, decked out with flags.  I guess the big display was the day before, and Queen Elizabeth (yes, that queen) had also been in Halifax to honor the occasion.

I’m always looking for the unusual angle, as is Dave.  This shot is taken looking into the water.  There was a lady just over on the wharf watching me.  I’m sure she thought I was a bit nuts staring into the water, but she couldn’t see what I was seeing.

Okay, here’s a normal shot, with the flags all lined up.

We visited the tourist office (just where are the laundromats?), then walked along the harborfront, ending our stroll here at the red-hatted tugboat.  We were fully aware that we seemed to be skimming the surface of Halifax, but were tired out from our drive and walked somewhat aimlessly.

As were these tourists, although I think they’d been hitting the cups a little early.  They came walking by the restaurant where we were eating.  They reminded me of the group we saw in York, England, and I told them this.  They liked that idea.

We had a great meal and lingered, not wanting to wander just yet.  The waitress was nice and we gave her a big tip to compensate for our lingering.

Just up the street from our dinner stop was this clock tower.  We had watched a movie about the Halifax Harbor Explosion, in December of 1917, the largest manmade blast at that time, and how it had devastated the city.  The clock in the tower stopped with the explosion.  We thought it interesting, though, that this is NOT the original, as that had been burned up in a fire.  But the sight still reminded us of the events.  Those who were not killed by the blast, nor washed away by the resulting tsunami, climbed up this hill in the dead of winter to shelter at the Citadel at the top, a formidable task.

This was in an area not touched as profoundly by the blast, further south of the explosion, and at the base of the citadel.

We then climbed up the hill to the Citadel, and situated ourselves on the lawn, hoping to see the fireworks.  We thought they might begin about 9 or 9:15, but hung in there until 10:00 when they really started.  While we waited we snapped photos, chatted with the tourists from Edmonton next to us, and listened to their stories about living in the Yukon.  This older couple apparently had a child at the time who was getting sicker and sicker, so they took her in.  The response was to boil the water, as “children and dilapidated old people” were susceptible to the microbes.  The man laughed, saying that he’d never forgotten that phrase, thinking now that he was one of those “dilapidated old people.”  More laughing.  I’ve really enjoyed talking to tourists in our various venues, as usually we’re in a foreign country and their lives remain a mystery to us.  On this trip we’ve met many tourists from other regions of Canada and fewer American or foreign tourists.  But, like I said, we were early in their season.  They also told us that they’ve traveled all their lives, often dipping down into America, and much of it was done with a car and tent.  And now?  They are touring the country  in a fifth-wheel. “It’s heaven,” she said.

I liked this shot of another older building because it had red and white balloons in the spirit of Canada Day.  I’m a sucker for celebrations that involve fireworks, and as we waited, we remembered the time we were in France for Bastille Day and saw their fireworks.

The sun is beginning to set along the harborfront.

Happy Canada Day to you all!

2 thoughts on “Happy Canada Day”

  1. I want a Lobster sandwich from MacDonalds… No, never mind, I just want lobster. I heard you can buy by the bushel up there for like $30 for 10 lobsters. Is that true? (if it is, can you bring some home…)

    Love – Chad

  2. Hey, pretty hot car–or perhaps sporty is the better word as you probably didn’t get too hot driving it with the top down/off (not sure which).
    Does McD’s also serve cider vinegar with their fries like they do in Vancouver? I love that.

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