Canada Trip, 2016: The Cabot Trail

This is a collection of photos taken over three days during my drive along the majestic Cabot Trail in Cape Breton—considered one of the most scenic drives in the world—and for good reason. The northern portion in particular reminded me of the Scottish Highlands, which makes sense given that geological evidence suggests at least part of the island was joined with Scotland millions of years ago. This is one road trip you definitely want to add to your bucket list.

Click on any photo to open up a gallery.

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Canadian Maritimes in Panorama and HDR

Here is a compilation of panoramas and HDR photos taken during my two-week road trip through the Canadian Maritime Provinces in late August/early September, 2016.

All of the following photos are panoramas except where HDR appears in the description.

Prince Edward Island

We only allotted two days for Prince Edward Island but it ended up being one of our favorite legs of the trip. We stayed on the less-touristy northeast side of the island at an inn on a cliff overlooking the sea. The view from our room was spectacular. The entire stay was relaxing and serene. I only wish we could have spent more time here.

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View of a sunset from our inn.
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View from beneath the cliff on which our inn was situated.
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Same sunset as above, this one in HDR. The effect was almost like a painting.

Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

Cape Breton is an island at the northeastern tip of Nova Scotia. It is a must-visit if you’re in the area. The Cabot Trail, which encircles the majority of the island, is a drive of breathtaking beauty. The highlands, in particular, are reminiscent of Scotland. In all, we spent four days here but with all of the hiking and sightseeing available, you could easily stay a week or two.

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Our view after hiking to the top of Franey Mountain.
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View from our cabin at the Glenora Inn, where we stayed one night.

New Brunswick

The New Brunswick area has much to offer, including Fundy National Park, which we barely had time to explore outside of one early evening hike. We spent most of our two days in this province at Cape Enrage and the Hopewell rocks–where you can walk the beach at low tide and kayak around the same rocks at high tide. There are no high-tide photos in this collection, but I did take some and will share them at a later date.

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Hopewell Rocks
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Hopewell Rocks (HDR)
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Hopewell Rocks
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Hopewell Rocks (HDR)
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The grassy area across from the beach near Cape Enrage.
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The beach beneath Cape Enrage.

Nova Scotia

I didn’t take many panoramas during my stay on the main island of Nova Scotia, so there isn’t much represented here. The highlights from this leg of the trip included a two-night stay in the charming capital city of Halifax and a stop in the lovely town of Lunenberg, where we also visited The Ovens National Park. Nova Scotia has so much more worth seeing but a lot of our time on the island was spent driving to and from Cape Breton.

Cape Forchu, Nova Scotia, Canada
Looking out to the sea from the foggy rocks beneath the Cape Forchu lighthouse.
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View from inside one of the sea caves at The Ovens National Park.

Overall, it was a great trip that gave us a taste of everything the Canadian Maritimes have to offer, though we could easily have spent a week or more at any one of the four primary regions we visited. We fell so much in love with the area, in fact, that we are giving serious thought to exploring the possibility of moving there.

Photo of the Day: Franey Mountain Lookout

When hiking to the top of Franey Mountain in the Cape Breton Highlands, you will encounter this picturesque lookout about 1/3 of the way up (or 2/3 of the way down, depending on which of the two trails you chose to go up). It’s a beautiful hike, especially as you get closer to the top, where you are rewarded with spectacular views of the mountains and coast. The 1,100-foot ascent is not too challenging (especially if an out-of-shape schlub like me can make it to the top)–I think it took us between 2 1/2 and 3 hours to get to the top, though it can be done more quickly if you’re in better shape and not stopping for photos. Going down was much faster as we took the second trail down, which was much less interesting from a scenery perspective, and also less challenging.

I made one alteration to this photo–I used the content-aware touchup tool in Camera Raw to remove my hiking pole that was leaning against the rock–it turned out really well, not even noticeable. Bonus points if you can tell me where the pole was. 🙂

Date: 9/3/2016
Camera: Nikon D5100
Click for larger view

You can view more featured photos at my Photo of the Day Collection.

Canada Road Trip – The Movie

Hello, readers and fellow bloggers, I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus, partly because I embarked on a two-week, late-summer road trip through the Canadian Maritime Provinces. Since then, I have been busy culling and processing all of the photos from the trip (when I can find the time, that is), but hopefully I’ll get back to regular posting soon.

In the meantime, I have compiled all of the video I shot during my trip into the movie below. The Braveheart score seemed appropriate given the Scottish feel of Cape Breton.

A Road Trip Through the Maritimes

My late summer Canada road trip is coming together. I’ve booked all of the places we’ll be staying during our two-weeks in the Maritime Provinces and plotted out the counter-clockwise route we’ll be taking, a rough map of which you can see here:

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The above route will involve about 2,100 miles of driving (not counting day trips and sightseeing detours) and 44 hours on the road (counting time spent on ferries), so my new RAV4 hybrid will be getting quite a workout!

Here is our rough itinerary:

Day 1: Driving up to southern Maine and crashing overnight at my sister-in-law’s house.

Days 2-3: Bay of Fundy

The Hopewell Rocks

We will be staying in a cottage overlooking the Bay of Fundy, first stopping in the seaside town of Saint Andrews for linner (i.e., in between lunch/dinner). During our stay the plan is to visit the Hopewell Rocks at both low and high tide (the Bay of Fundy has the highest tidal range in the world), Cape Enrage, and Fundy National Park, as well as the Fundy Trail and sea caves in Saint Martins. A visit to Saint John is also a possibility, though not as high on the list.

Days 4-5: Prince Edward Island

This will be our home in PEI.

Our next stop will be Prince Edward Island, famous for its rolling hills, red soil, and as the setting of the novel Anne of Green Gables. We don’t have any specific plans for our two days here; I figure it’s a good time to recharge after all of the driving and activities of the first three days, so we may just relax on the beaches and take some lazy drives around the coast. We will be staying at a B&B on the northeastern coast, an area that is supposed to be less touristy.

Day 6: Cape Breton and the Ceilidh Trail

Glenora Inn

This will mostly be a travel day as we hop on the ferry from Prince Edward Island to Nova Scotia and then make our way up to Cape Breton. Along the way we may stop in New Glasgow for lunch before crossing into Cape Breton and taking the scenic Ceilidh Trail along the coast all the way up to our stop for the night near the highlands: The Glenora Inn and Distillery, known for its whisky, where we’ll have dinner before settling in for the night in a private chalet nestled in the hills above the distillery.

Days 7-9: Cabot Trail and Highlands National Park

The Cabot Trail

This is the main attraction of the trip for us, a chance to meander through a landscape similar to what you might see in Scotland. We’ll begin on Day 7 with a drive along the Cabot Trail, famous for its picturesque beauty. Along the way we will stop and hike the Skyline Trail before continuing on to our destination for the next three nights: a private cabin overlooking the ocean near Ingonish. On Day 8 we will do more hiking in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, highlighted by an ascent of Franey Mountain. Finally, Day 9 will see us heading up to the Meat Cove area at the northernmost tip of the island for a whale watching cruise on a converted fishing boat.

Days 10-11: Halifax

Halifax

On Day 10 we will begin the long drive from Cape Breton all the way to Halifax in Nova Scotia, where we will be staying in a B&B not far from the waterfront. The first night will likely be a late arrival, so we’ll probably just walk along the boardwalk and get something to eat. On the second day, we can wander around the city (possibly visiting the Citadel at the top of the hill) or, if we’re feeling up to it, take a 90-minute drive north to hike out to Cape Split, a hike that comes highly recommended due to the spectacular view at the end of the trail.

Days 12-13: Yarmouth and the Lighthouse Trail

Lunenburg

After leaving Halifax we will embark on a daylong drive to Yarmouth while following as much of the scenic coastal Lighthouse Trail as possible (we won’t have time to do the entire route), taking us through towns like Peggy’s Cove, Mahone Bay, and Lunenberg, the latter of which might be a good place to stop for lunch. Other possible stops include The Ovens (to do some sea cave spelunking) and the Kejimkujik National Park Seaside Adjunct. Our late arrival in Yarmouth will leave us one free day to explore the town (and scratch the wife’s antiquing itch).

 

Days 14-15: The Long Journey Home

Yarmouth Ferry Terminal

We’ll be waking up early in the morning in Yarmouth to catch the ferry to Portland, Maine for what is supposed to be a 5.5-hour journey across the Atlantic. The ferry is not cheap–in fact I believe it may have been the most expensive single booking of our entire trip, more so than any of the lodging. Anyway, after departing the ferry we will once again crash at my sister-in-law’s house in southern coastal Maine before beginning the final leg of our journey back home to New Jersey.

I can’t wait to get underway; I’ve always wanted to do a big road trip, and a two-week jaunt through the Maritimes should be epic, though we’ll still only scratch the surface of everything the region has to offer. The rest, alas, will have to wait until next time.

A New Page and a New Trip

I haven’t been as active with this blog lately because I’ve been busy with author related tasks, including launching a new home page dedicated solely to the novelist portion of my online presence. You can view my new page here: michaelrappa.net. There is also a link to the new page in this blog’s top menu called “My Author Page.”

My Author Page Banner

On the new page you can read my author bio and sample chapters, and order my books, including some upcoming free short stories. The new page also links back to this blog, as this is where I will post news and updates in addition to my usual travel stories and photos.

Speaking of travel, I am in the early stages of planning a road trip to Canada this summer, either in late June/early July or late August/early September. My original idea was to head up to Quebec City for a few days and then drive out to Nova Scotia, but after reading up on Cape Breton and seeing photos of its stunning beauty, I now want to organize my entire trip around that–driving the Cabot Trail and hiking in the Highlands National Park both sound amazing!

Cape Breton: What’s not to love?

So now I’m thinking I’ll save Quebec for another trip and just focus on the Nova Scotia area. I would like to visit all of the main points of interest in Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, and Prince Edward Island.

Have any of you visited this region of Canada? How many days do you like to spend on each of the islands and what is your favorite time of the year to visit? Any travel advice would be much appreciated. 🙂

As always, thank you for reading and I promise to resume my travel blogging very soon!