Part 3: Across Canada Adventure with Warren Darbyson
Hi everyone, welcome to the 3rd edition of our cross-Canada trip.
On Day 15 (June 21), we left Truro to head for Inverness about a 2.75-hour drive into Cape Breton. We stayed at the MacLeod’s Beach campground where we had a front row, grass site overlooking the Gulf of St. Lawrence This is a privately owned campground with an expansive beach to walk and explore. Having a truck camper has allowed us to book very nice campsites right on or across from beaches that are often too small for trailers or 5th wheels. We also saw our first lighthouse (Arisaig lighthouse) in Antigonish. This set us on a bit of a quest to view as many lighthouses as possible.
The following day (Day 16) we found the Mabou Harbour lighthouse located at a tiny fishing pier in Mabour Harbour. We also had the pleasure of dining at the Red Shoe Pub owed by the famous Rankin sisters in Mabou. We enjoyed live celtic fiddle and piano music. We then spent another peaceful, sunny evening taking in a spectacular sunset at MacLeod’s campground.
On Day 17 (June 23), we traveled to Cheticamp, about a 45-minute drive from Inverness. We headed for the Skyline hiking trail that is located on the Cabot Trail about 23 km from Cheticamp. This is a relatively easy 7.5 km hike with several beautiful viewing platforms along the way. The drive along the Cabot trail to Skyline offered some of our favourite views of the trip so far.
This day took a rather unexpected turn for us in the Skyline Trail parking lot. When we arrived, we started to back into a site amongst several other RVs. However, it was a bit tight, so we decided it would be better to move down the parking lot to a spot without other vehicles. As we were on our hike, we noticed heavy black smoke and heard several small explosions. After returning to the parking lot, we saw that the RV we first parked beside, along with three other rigs were burned to the ground. There is no question that we would have lost our truck and camper. We offered assistance to the owner of the rig that caused the fire. She managed to save her dog and cat, but she was not able to get her wallet, ID, or anything else. Sadly, this RV was her full-time home. We drove her and her pets to Cheticamp where she was able to get some money, a new phone, some food for her pets, and a room for the night.
That night we stayed in a very new campground called Point Cross campground. This campground offers full hook-up sites inland and nine sites right on the beach. It is in its first few years, so amenities are minimal, but the owners are great, and the view was amazing. We were treated to another spectacular sunset and much to our surprise a bunch of fireflies came out after dark. The night brought heavy winds and rain, but we were safe and cozy in our camper.
June 24 (Day 18) took us around the Cabot Trail, past Pleasant Bay (very nice little harbour), to Ingonish. It was rainy, but we drove to a pier, checked out the local campground, and stopped at a great outdoor store. This store offered so much great camping and fishing gear as well as outdoor wear. I highly recommend stopping there – it’s right on the main road. The owner has run the store for 40+ years and clearly has a passion as it is very full of interesting and unique items. We also experienced our first full, local lobster meal at the Main Street Restaurant. The rain then pushed us to continue driving to Baddeck where we stayed at the Baddeck Cabot Trail Campground. This is a well-established place with a heated pool, laundry, shower house, cooking facilities, games room, and more. This is a great place for a stop-over or multi-day stay.
Day 19 (June 25) we took in the sites of Baddeck. This ended up being one of our favourite places on the Cabot Trail. It is a very quaint village with excellent shops and restaurants. We parked our rig on the main street and wandered through everything, then followed the waterfront boardwalk back to have lunch at the Freight Shed restaurant. We enjoyed blueberry coconut pancakes and local smoked salmon on a bagel. There are several sailboats in this little bay and a catamaran that offers charters. There is also a little lighthouse across the water from the village. This is definitely a stop that we’ll make again!
We reluctantly left Baddeck and travelled to North Sydney via Little Narrows and Iona. This required that we take a five-minute ferry…definitely the shortest ferry ride we’ve every experienced. That evening we ventured out on a bird-watching boat tour with Bird Island Boat Tours. The father-son team that runs the tour are a bit quirky, but their knowledge of the local birds and their ability to spot puffins were amazing. Once at Bird Islands we saw puffins, razorbills, black guillemot, bald eagles, gulls, kittiwakes, and cormorants. We also enjoyed seeing the seal families swimming around the islands. We’re not avid bird watchers, but the tour was pretty interesting, and it was great to get onto the Atlantic Ocean.
We stayed at the Arms of Gold campground – one that has been in the owner’s family for six generations. It was beautiful and very well maintained with Adirondack chairs overlooking the little bay and excellent facilities. This is the closest campground to the NFLD ferry, so we’ll definitely stay there again when we visit NFLD someday.
June 26 – Day 20 we headed to the Fortress of Louisbourg, a historical site that is a reconstruction of the original fortress built between about 1713 and 1740. This visit is excellent value for your money and the history is amazing! If you take this in, ensure you purchase a loaf of bread that is cooked as it would have been in the 1700s. We took our loaf of bread to the Louisbourg lighthouse. This is the original site of the first lighthouse built in Canada in 1734. It has since been rebuilt twice, with the existing lighthouse dating back to 1923. We stayed at this site for quite some time eating our loaf of bread with butter and enjoying the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean on the jagged rocks.
We headed out of Louisbourg and managed to catch races at the Sydney Speedway. It was great to take in a local event and to take a longer break from touring and sightseeing, though earplugs were a must! Before heading back to Arms of Gold campground, we had a great meal at the Flavor on the Water overlooking the big fiddle in the Sydney Harbour. We were also unexpectedly able to enjoy a car show at Arms of Gold when we returned for the night.
We plan on completing our tour of Cape Breton on June 27 and will head to mainland Nova Scotia for another week, so be sure to check in for Part 4. We will leave you by saying that one of the greatest things about travelling Cape Breton Island and Nova Scotia in a truck and Northern Lite camper is that we can go down any little road we want because we can always turn around wherever needed. This has allowed us to see spots that we would have otherwise not visited and stay in beautiful spots that would otherwise only allow a tent.