September 22 Baddeck, Nova Scotia

Weather was lovely, Road trip around Cabot’s Trail (6 hours). Drove up the east coast of Cape Breton – pleasant drive through rolling heavily wooded hills to the largest National Forest in Canada to the Keltic Lodge. The lodge was one of the lovely old fashioned resorts which also included on their grounds one of the most famous and expensive golf courses in the world. We didn’t play. After talking with our cousin, Hugh in New York, whom we call while having lunch (Peter with the best lobster roll he’d ever had and me with excellent french onion soup), we decided to extend our original plans and complete the loop on the west side of the Cape. Glad we did, beautiful scenery- extremely steep hills with crashing waves on rocks on the shore quite different from the east side- but again, very heavily forested. It reminds us of the coastline around Carmel, CA. The guide book says that 3/4 of Nova Scotia is forested. Quite a contrast to Prince Edward Island, which is mostly farmland.

This evening, Peter opted to go to the Baddeck Gathering Ceilidh – for those of you who are not up on your Gaelic vocabulary, that means Cape Breton Fiddle Music, Song and Dance. Lois opted to stay at home and read a trashy novel. In the Ceilidh, there was a fiddler, a pianist and a guitarist, mostly playing reel and jig music. Very jumpy and lively, with everyone (including the audience) tapping their feet. One of their friends showed up and performed incredible toe dancing. The co-ordinator coaxed 4 couples from the audience to come up and do reels, which she coached and led. In between numbers, the performers talked with the audience about their music and about Cape Breton, which they experience as an oasis of preservation and teaching of the Gaelic tradition, separate from the mainland of Nova Scotia and Canada. There is even a Gaelic College here. This is probably the only place in the world where many road signs are bilingual in English and Gaelic.

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