|LaVerne and Gordon|
Friday, October 18, 2013
Cape Breton Highlands NP covers most of the Northern tip of the island. It is basically a rocky plateau about 1000 feet above sea level, crisscrossed with deep river valleys and covered with a mix of evergreens and maple/birch forest. Right now the fall color is at is peak and the hills are in flame with yellow, orange and red foliage, especially in the valleys. We walked among 350-year-old maples in some of the only forests on the island that have never been logged.
The Cabot Trail is a 180-mile loop road, much of which follows the coast and winds in and out of coves with vistas of the shoreline and back into the highlands. Small fishing towns dot the coast and farms are cut out of the forest in the valleys and hills. It is a spectacular drive and we spent 3 days leaving our trailer behind in Cheticamp and staying at B&Bs along the way. We explored a rocky cove with a waterfall cascading down one side of it, hiked around a lake smothered in yellow and red trees, walked a trail out to the headlands that ended in a wooded stairway down to a platform hanging over the ocean and saw dozens of pilot whales swimming just off the coast.
One night we stayed with the Gordon and LaVerne in the house that was going to be torn down before Gordon had it moved a mile to his property. Here he spent 15 years renovating it with boards he cut from his own trees and all his own labor. Gordon is 82 and is currently working on adding a roof to the from porch. Gordon’s family homesteaded on this land in the 1860s and he and his wife were the nicest people you could meet, inviting us into their living room to chat in the evening and sitting with us while we had blueberry and elderberry pancakes for breakfast. We talked with them about Gordon’s plans to put solar panels on his house and discussed new oil drilling off Newfoundland and fracking in New Brunswick. As we left Gordon scuttled off and brought back a bag of beautiful potatoes he grew in his garden. Our hearts were full when we left that house.