We left PEI early early to make our 11am tour at Joggins Fossil Cliffs in Nova Scotia. We got there around 10:30 and were able to look around the visitor’s center, which had some cool displays of fossils and the history of the area. At 11am we went on the tour, where a tour guide took us down to the beach at low tide, and explained what kind of fossils to look for. The time period that the fossils are from is pre-dinosaurs, so they are mostly of plants, but they are everywhere once you know what to look for. The coolest one we found was of a tree trunk, now turned into a stone. It was a bit cold and overcast so after the fossil hunting we got back in the car and started our drive out to Halifax.
In a pure coincidence, It happened to be July 1st which is Canada day, and so the city was very festive with lots of people in red and white to celebrate Canada’s independence. We checked into our hotel which was right on the waterfront, and met my friend Ange who lives right outside of town. We took a walk with her through downtown and the waterfront. I was starting to feel better from my cold, but unfortunately my husband and kids had started getting symptoms, and they were pretty worn out. So afterwards they went and laid down in the room while I hung out at the harbor for a little longer. We then had a great dinner at a restaurant practically next door to the hotel called “Black Sheep.” Everyone was pretty sacked by then so they went back to the room. My other friend Allan had found out I was in town from Ange, and he texted me to see what I was up to. He was about a half mile away at a waterfront bar with live music for the holiday, so I walked down to see him and listen to the band. It was fun to see all the Canadians partying.
The next morning we ate breakfast at the hotel. I asked for free breakfast given that I have platinum elite status with Marriott, and the manager gave us $20 off at their bistro. It never hurts to ask! Then we started the 4 hour drive up to Cape Breton National Park.
It was overcast and rainy by the time we got to Cape Breton. We were happy to see that our accommodation, called an “Otentik” was very roomy with beds for everyone. It’s like a cross between a tent and a cabin and it kept us nice and dry as we ate our dinner. The next morning we were excited to drive the famous Cabot Trail. It was definitely pretty impressive as you go over winding hills along the dramatic coastline. Since everyone was a little sick we looked up all the short hikes along the way and stopped to do those, including a cool bog trail at the top of a mountain and an old growth forest trail with a Scottish hut to commemorate that Scotsman who gave the land to be a park. The drive was pretty long and we took a little detour to get to the northernmost point of our trip. Once we hit Ingolish on the other side of the National Park we realized that even though the Cabot Trail is a loop, we had only done one third of it, so to get back it would be quicker to go back the way we came through the National Park. It was already five so we drove back and then made ourselves some turkey burgers back at camp.
The next morning my husband and I did the salmon pools hike near the campground. After that we all hiked the skyline trail which is a 5 mile loop trail on the top of a mountain and takes you along the ridge so that you can see Ocean views for a good third of the trail. At the pinnacle of the trail are a series of wooden steps and viewing platforms along the ridge line and overlooking the sea – terrifyingly beautiful!
After this hike we checked out some cool beach spots and then went back to the Otentik to chill for a few hours. In the early evening we went to a great restaurant called L’Abri and then we packed up so we would be ready to head out in the morning.
The next morning on our way out of the park we stopped in the town of Cheticamp and picked up some awesome French pastries from a local bakery (while much of the Island was settled by Scots, this part was French). Then we made the long drive to St. John’s in New Brunswick, about 7 hours. By the time we got to the hotel in St. John’s everyone was pretty beat and all the “men” were still sick, so I walked around downtown a little bit. It was very quiet but there was some cool architecture and street art and I learned about the big fire they had there in the 1800’s. We went to a pub for dinner and called it a night.