Chapter 9. Cape Breton, Nova Scotia
© Bert & Shari Frenz, 2000 All rights reserved.
(Bert) We all sleep in late, exhausted from yesterday's travel. After lunch we drive the 30 miles to Baddeck where the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site resides. Since Bell was an American, I was surprised that there would be an historic site to him here. But I learn that the Bells had a large home, called "Beinn Bhreagh," here and spent much of their time in Nova Scotia, including conducting many of his experiments. Of course, we all know of Bell as the inventor of the telephone, but until spending an afternoon at this magnificent museum, I didn't know of his involvement in early air flight, air boats - with Casey Baldwin, they built the fastest boat in the world and held the record for 10 years - phonograph records, medical instrumentation - including a device to find bullets that was used on President Garfield when he was shot - and his overriding interest and involvement in teaching deaf children. When we return to R-TENT, Jean finds a note attached to the door telling us that Duane and Mary Lee are in the area. These are dear friends from Texas who have been traveling in the Maritimes. We've been following their progress, and they have read of ours, since we both send daily journals through e-mail. We retrace our path to the campground we passed a few miles back and stop at the first Texas license plates we see. Duane steps out of his 5th Wheel with Mary Lee close behind. After hugs all around, we all head to a nearby restaurant for a great seafood dinner and wonderful conversation.
(Shari) Foiled by our original plan to visit Fort Louisburg, because of the rain today, we decide to drive to the Alexander Graham Bell museum. As we walk through the well-done museum, I can tell Bert likes this man and is impressed with his philosophy. One phrase especially attracts our attention. A friend describing Dr. Bell, mentions that he makes everyone want to talk about nature and theoretical things because there was no time to waste with regular chitchat about people and their goings on. Although well known for his invention of the telephone, he dabbled in many other things. Helping the deaf was his real passion in life. Born and raised in Scotland, his father moved the family to Canada. He became a teacher of children from wealthy families in Boston and married one of them. Two of the wealthy parents financed him in his quest to make the world better. He seemed to be a perpetual motion machine of ideas and the museum has artifacts from his medical, airplane, hydrofoil and, of course, telephone inventions. Not liking hot weather, he found the area around Baddeck perfect for the summer. The home is still owned and lived in by his descendents and not available to tours, but the museum is worth a visit. I must mention that towards the end of our museum visit, Bert learned that Dr. Bell loved nature but did not care to know one bird from another. The man just fell 100 notches in Bert's esteem, I am sure. After arriving home at 6:30, we find Duane and Mary Lee had left a note. They are in a campground 10 miles down the road at Seal Island RV Park, a very nice place. Of course we want to see them before they take the ferry tomorrow to Newfoundland and we immediately pile back into the car. As we travel, Don talks about receiving all those good hugs from them and catching up on each other. We all go out to dinner, along with a couple of friends of theirs and have a delicious seafood platter at the Seal Island Motel Restaurant, a place Jean's relative recommended to her. After that we go over to their place and enjoy a piece of Duane's birthday cake. I had forgotten his birthday is tomorrow. Happy Birthday Duane! It is 11 PM before we get home. We are turning into night owls.
(Shari) We all won our bets and Duane and Mary Lee decide not to go to Newfoundland. That is to our benefit since now they will be traveling with us for a few days. Today is gorgeous and we all pile into Duane and Mary Lee's truck for the drive to Fort Louisbourg, a French establishment in the new world. A wonderful tour guide at the fort, explaining the history of Louisbourg from a hilarious French perspective, supplements our day. She has her group mesmerized by her stories of the world in 1744. I am often amazed how one shot here or there could have changed the course of history for us today. By all rights we could all be speaking French, because French territories surrounded the original 13 colonies and the French only lost their ground by horrible luck and mismanagement. Fort Louisbourg is a wonderful reconstruction of an 18th century fort, during the period when its harbor was the biggest in the new world, with a town of 4000 inhabitants. Only 20% of the town has been reconstructed, but it is still a huge place. I find it truly fascinating to walk the streets of the recreated town and pretend to be in another time frame, talking to the guides in period costumes, eating lunch at a typical inn of the day, watching soldiers in their military exercises and viewing refurbished rooms. After 5 hours, our minds are saturated and our bodies are tired. Home we go for Happy Hour, to plan our travel day tomorrow.
(Bert) When we break away from the cover of trees, we see Fort Louisbourg across the bay and we step into the world as it was in 1744 when this was one of the busiest ports in North America. At the drawbridge entrance to the fort, the sentry, dressed in military uniform, quizzes us in French, but then repeats the warning in English as she verifies we are not English spies. Walking the muddy streets through the fort, we see the wooden and stone homes, warehouses, barracks and taverns; we smell the wooden fires, we hear people at work and, later we taste the food of the 18th century settlement. Our guide, a fiery lady with spitfire delivery, gives us her view of the history of the fort from the perspective of a resident of Cape Breton. Laced with humor, sarcasm and irony, her performance keeps a group of 50, including children, hanging on her every word, even though we listen to her for more than an hour as we walk the streets of the fort. From her we learn many tidbits of history, including: the village clock has only one hand, because the accuracy of measuring time wasn't much better than the nearest half hour; the phrase "well-heeled" referred to a gentleman with enough money to afford a pair of good shoes; Louisbourg is straight across the ocean from southern France and became part of a triangular trading route between the continent, French America and the French West Indies. The Canadian government has recreated only 20% of Fort Louisbourg, yet it seems quite large. Fortunately for the archeologists, over 750,000 pages of records, including 500 maps, concerning the fort were found in the archives in France. In addition, over a million artifacts were recovered at the site. The archeology offers a rare completeness in that there were no known occupants before the French (1713-58) and there was very little development for the two centuries thereafter. We find our tour of the national historical site a wonderful way to spend a sunny, warm summer afternoon.
(Bert) As we cross the bridge over Bras d'Or, I call over the CB, "d'Lodge, this is R-TENT. Do you read me?" Duane responds that they are ready and waiting. He pulls his truck and 5th wheel in behind d'Bus and our caravan of three rigs heads to the Cabot Trail. Our short drive along the eastern edge of Cape Breton takes several hours, partly because of the broken roads, curves and hills and partly because the scenery is worth absorbing at a slower pace. We set up at Broad Cove Campground, near Ingonish in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. In the afternoon the six of us hike the 2.5-mi. trail along Middle Head. The forest trail has many views of the magnificent rocky coast of the Atlantic Ocean. The weather is superb: in the 70s, with bright skies and a cool light ocean breeze. I can sense late summer in the air and on the ground. Berries are out in profusion: raspberry, blueberry, elderberry, crowberry, cranberry and bunchberry - we find them all in our short walk. Red Squirrels chirp from well-hidden spruce boughs; a Harbor Seal pokes his nose through the surf; a Bald Eagle perched on a tall tree is harassed by a kamikaze Herring Gull; a cormorant swallows his fish just before the black-backed gull tries to steel it away; a Short-tailed Swallowtail flutters above meadow flowers; a Red Crossbill sings from above and becomes #502 bird species on my year-list. What a wonderful celebration of summer! After dinner over the campfire, we walk to a local music performance sponsored by the national park. Local is the key word here: all of the talent is gathered from the local communities. They lack professional skills, we hear many sour notes and watch misplaced dance steps, but what they lack in talent, they certainly make up in entertainment and amusement. From bagpipes, highland dancing and step dancing to folk music sung and strummed, the performances give us a good feel for the Scottish/Irish heritage of the Cape Bretons.
(Shari) Warm sunshine, cool ocean breezes, solid blue sky with no cloud in sight, sparkling blue water: this is just a million dollar day. Breaking camp at 7 to get all our errands done by our 8 AM rendezvous with Duane and Mary Lee, we travel north along the east side of the Cabot Trail. Some friends told us the drive was not treacherous for big rigs until past the Cape Breton National Park entrance at Ingonish. Winding our way through forests, with peeks of the ocean here and there, the road is not frightening until 20 miles from our destination. Starting at 2 mph due to the 90-degree turn over a narrow bridge, we lug our way up and around a very steep incline for at least 4 miles. I would guess the incline to be 10-12% and I know we ascended over 1000 feet. Looking back I can see Don and Jean behind us and Duane and Mary Lee following them. Both rigs seem to be handling the steep mountain in good shape. We stop at a big pullout at the top to look at the scenery spread below us and to allow Jean's heart to again beat regularly and my tense muscles to relax. The descent into Ingonish is much gentler, thank goodness. Arriving at Broad Cove campground, at 10:30, we barely find three spaces open in the full hook-up section. After lunch we discuss our dilemma: should we pile into our cars and drive the scenic road around the Cabot Trail or should we hang loose and just soak in the beautiful day. Taking the scenic drive in the rain would be useless since no scenery would be visible. The question then is, will our weather hold up? Gambling that it will, we drive to the Keltic Lodge and walk the 2.5-mi. trail around the point. Traversing forest and meadow, the trail opens to a beautiful rock- and grass-covered area at the tip of the peninsula. We sit there a good while just drinking in the view of sparkling waters and warm sunshine. The 3-mast sailboat and harbor seals playing off shore just make the scene postcard perfect. After initiating Duane and Mary Lee into the art of making and eating pudgie pies for dinner, we walk to the outdoor theater in the campground for a local Ceilidh. The performance would have been terrific for free but lacked the talent necessary for its $4 admission fee. The fee is used for the support of the local museum, which does not charge an admission, so I think we had better go see this museum. The best of the five performers is the young step dancer and the park warden MC. Joking that he has sandals like the dancer does at home, the warden comments that his cannot do the steps that hers do. Mary Lee and I just know she is about to break an ankle with her flying feet.
(Shari) Accompanied by sunshine and blue skies, we drive the Cabot Trail today. Reports of the trail have been accurate and I am glad we are not driving the motorhome. Spectacular climbs and long curving descents are the order of the day. Viewpoints abound along the road and I am glad we have allotted plenty of time to see the sights. I am certainly happy not to be one of the people on the tour buses who have to return to their seats just about as soon as they get off the bus to enjoy the view. Our first stop is Neil's Harbor where we enjoy the serendipitous occurrence of the crab boats returning from their morning run. These are the same boats that catch the lobsters in season, but today have a much larger catch of crabs on board. The young man on the boat tells me crabs are also easier to catch. I remember counting eight big plastic pans of lobsters on the boats. Now, at least 20 plastic pans, each holding 50 lbs. of snow crabs, are pulled off the boat, weighed in and put on a refrigerated truck. I inquire about purchasing the crabs, and find the cost is CN $3.25. What a bargain! Tomorrow we will come back for crabs. Jean sees a small restaurant here and has her mouth watering for chowder. Plus the ice cream sold in the converted lighthouse attracts everyone's fancy. We decide to have our lunch at the picnic table overlooking the point. Taking the alternate scenic route to Cape North, we find the Highland Museum, which received the proceeds from last night's performance. It is loaded with artifacts of the area and worth a short visit. We find ourselves at one scenic pull out after another and ooh and ah over the spectacular landscape. From a 1500-ft. perch, I have a panoramic view of the glass-like blue sea and the green-forested plateau and valleys on top of the mountain. Sheer cliffs plummeting down to meet the water's edge, shaded swirls of blue and white on the flat sea, whale watching tour boats as small as bobbers on a fishing line, and pilot whales swimming off-shore just barely seen with the naked eye are sights along today's drive. We turn around and head back at Joe's Scarecrows, next to Ethel's Takeout south of Chéticamp. Here an enterprising person set up a bunch of scarecrows using old Halloween masks as faces. We cannot resist taking pictures and Bert even sets up his tripod to take a picture of the six of us sitting among the other "senior citizens." After stopping at the Acadian Craft shop in Chéticamp to purchase a 5-in. hooked rug kit of a lighthouse, we head home. The drive back is as pretty as the one coming and we do not get to R-TENT until after 7.
(Bert) Cape Breton Highlands National Park encompasses the largest area of true wilderness left in Nova Scotia. Until quite recently the island limited access to outsiders - "from away", as the locals call them - because the high mountains, rising dramatically from shoreline to over a thousand feet, provided a natural barrier to transportation. Now the steep but well constructed highway allows us to see this spectacular coastline scenery. We've seen so much beautiful scenery on this Texas-to-Newfoundland trip that I'm running out of superlatives. Suffice it to say, we have a strong urge to pull out at each roadside viewpoint, sit on the cliff edge and soak up the scene. Only our schedule of making a round-trip to Chéticamp and back keeps us moving. Along the way we see Pilot Whales, Atlantic White-sided Dolphins and Gray Seals, but mostly the blue Atlantic reaching to the horizon. We turn about at a scarecrow park that provides us with amusing photo opportunities, including one where the six of us fill in the empty chairs between a row of sitting scarecrows. While driving, we paid attention to road conditions and come to the conclusion we were wise to camp where we did; the roads are good, but too steep for too long a distance to allow all but high performance RV's to make the trip.
(Bert) The 30-ft. fishing boat emblazoned "Under Pressure" rounds the point and heads into Neil's Harbor. While the boat moors at the dock where we stand, a dozen workers including many high school aged appear beside us. Each takes an assigned position. Wearing rubberized aprons, gloves and boots, three men toss Snow Crab into 1.5-ft x 3-ft tubs and swing the filled tub to the dock. One man hoists the tub onto a scale, preset with a 50-lb. weight. Another removes or adds a crab or two until the scale balances at its mark. Another lifts the tub to the refrigerated Great Dane trailer where yet another man pulls trays deeper inside to a frozen pile of crushed ice. With a shovel, another man fills the tub with ice and the last man in line stacks the tubs eight high in the forward section of the trailer. The only woman on the job checks off tubs and weights on a clipboard. The assembly line seems like an excess of workers to me, until I begin to realize how many crabs are onboard. Tub after tub comes from its hold. The three fishermen have been out since 4 AM; it's now 11 AM. The man at the scales interrupts his routine to weigh a partially filled tub. He counts off ten crabs and then adds an eleventh for good measure. The scales tip at 17 lbs. and Shari and Mary Lee head to the office to pay for tonight's meal. When they return, Shari sweet talks one man into cleaning our crabs. Long and spindly, the Snow Crabs look like a cross between a 20-in. spider and a puny-clawed lobster, both species sharing the same classification as crabs, namely arthropods. The man grabs the live crab in both hands and smashes it across the edge of the wooden dock, cracking it in two along the length of its shell. He yanks off the head and with a heavy-bladed knife he spits out the guts, tossing the refuse into the sea. We are left with body halves, each dangling five long armored legs. It only takes minutes for this experienced fisherman to clean our eleven crabs. We put the crabs in our car and then go back to watching the continued unloading of the fishing boat. Tub after tub is weighed, iced and stacked. An intermediate recount finds 91 tubs already have been processed; by the time they finish, Mary Lee counts a total of 112 tubs. At 50 lbs. per tub, today's catch weighs in at 5600 lbs. or about 3625 Snow Crabs. At 5 PM we start boiling water. Even with multiple pots, it takes two hours before the water comes to a boil, the crabs are tossed in, the water comes to a second boil and then the crabs stay boiling for the prescribed time. But by 7 PM the six of us are gathered around the picnic table and begin our feast of green salad, potato salad, but mostly Snow Crabs. Cracking shells and extracting the heavenly white meat is a time-consuming process, but each morsel is appreciated. With constant conversation, but heads bowed to our plates, we feast for nearly an hour and a half. What a meal!
(Shari) "Act dumb," the lady says as she explains how I can get the fishermen to clean the crabs for me. I think to myself that should not be hard since I do not even know exactly what kind of crabs we are buying, nor do I know how to cook them yet. I take the information down to the wharf where the crab boat has just come in to dock. Eight young men are told to take their stations, and for the next 45 minutes crabs are unloaded from iced-down hatches in the boat to iced-down plastic tubs. Yesterday I said there were over 20 tubs on the boat. I was really wrong, since today we lost count at 112. Each tub contains 50 lbs., making a morning's work of crabbing pretty profitable. I tell a worker that Margaret sent me to get some crabs weighed. He does not like to interrupt his work weighing and cleaning crabs for dumb tourists, but he graciously does it for us. Soon he has 110 crab legs attached to bodies in a tub for us. He takes them to the side and quickly lifts off the head, cracks the body in two and cleans out the insides, throwing the waste over the side of the pier. We watch the activity for a few more minutes and learn that three more boats are due in yet this morning. Now that is a lot of crabs! I wonder if Red Lobster is running its all-you-can-eat crab dinners now. Dinner hour starts at 5 PM with the boiling of the water for the 17 lbs. of snow crabs we bought this morning. I start heating 12 quarts of water in my 20-qt. kettle. Sixty minutes later we are still waiting for the water to boil. Finally at 6:30 we have boiling water, and I put seven crabs into the hot liquid. Cooked for 20 minutes after the water returns to a boil, we are glad Mary Lee started her four earlier. Our mouths have been watering for an awful long time. For the next 90 minutes we crack, peel and eat the spiny legs of this delicious crustacean. Supplemented with Jean's potato salad and Mary Lee's yummy mandarin orange salad we have a feast.
(Shari) Donning our hiking boots and a water container, we are off to hike one of the trails in the park. Walking is one of the activities I find Bert and I can do with equal speed. I lumber on in a constant slow pace and he stops to look at the rocks or the trees or the birds or the flowers and catches up periodically. It kind of reminds me of the hare and the tortoise. Walking parts of three trails - Jack Pine, Jigging Cove Lake and Jigging Cove Brook - we traverse differing habitats. Walking through Jack Pine forest, coastal rocks, and wet marsh, we find the paths are not groomed and parts of the walk are difficult. Roots and boulders are obstacles to trip or step over and treacherous round rocks of varying sizes require steady feet near the shoreline. Blueberries are ripe and I stop many times to pick a handful to be saved for future pancakes. When we reach Black Brook Beach, I decide I do not want to retrace my steps and want to shorten the hike by taking the road back to the car. We had walked 3½ hours and close to four miles. Even Bert says he has had enough. It was a beautiful walk and I am glad I have done it, but right now I am pooped and hot and a nap sounds good. Back at R-TENT, we find the temperature to be 83 degrees. Summer has finally arrived for us and what do we do, but put on the air conditioner. Tonight's 7 PM reservations for dinner and a play are at the fancy-dancy Keltic Lodge. We meet Mary Lee and Duane there since they had just played a round of golf. We enjoy our leisurely meal supplemented by a fantastic view of the bay before walking the short distance to the theater. Opening night jitters did not spoil our enjoyment of "The Abduction", a suspenseful thriller about a college-aged girl kidnapped for the ransom her stepfather should pay.
(Bert) Unbeknownst to us, we've picked the hottest day of the summer to take our 3.5-mi. hike. Although low 80s may seem cool by Texas standards, it feels warm here. We drive to Jiggs Cove and start our hike there. But we are barely fifty feet along the trail when I see blueberries and Shari can't resist picking some. All along the trail she keeps finding more and adding to the sack. I help gather a few, but mostly I identify new species I've not seen so far on the trip. The blueberries are called Low Sweet Blueberries, not the type from which the commercial berries are descended, but instead a lower-to-the-ground species. We find Wintergreen, also called Teaberry, and after I sample the tasty large berries, we pick these also. Since our trail covers diverse terrain, I see quite a variety of flowers and trees along the way. Tiny White Water-Crowfoot grows in the swallow lagoon; bottlebrush-shaped Canadian Burnet grows near the seashore; Jack Pine is on the rocky hillside; Birdsfoot Trefoil, an intricate intensely yellow flower, grows in the sunny roadside areas. Hiking is difficult since the path is crossed with tree roots and rocky outcroppings. Near the seashore, head-sized rocks lie in piles. Rounded by wave action, they are called cobbles, but by whatever name, walking across them is difficult. Offshore, cormorants rest on a small rock island and immature gannets plunge headfirst into the water for fish. A single immature eagle flies overhead. Our pace is a mile per hour, typical for my investigative speed. After 3.5 hours we are exhausted and happy to see our car once again. Refreshed after naps and showers, we are ready for an evening's entertainment. Over dinner at the restaurant at Keltic Lodge, we find out what the others have done today: Don and Jean also hiked, but took a different path; Duane and Mary Lee played 15 holes of golf before they cut it short to make our 7 PM reservation. After dinner we walk across the driveway to the Keltic Players' presentation of "The Abduction," a mystery play put on by local people. This is opening night and a few rough edges are still present: the telephone doesn't ring when it should and the director imitates the sound; a couple of the performers speak in recitation mode, dulling reality; a gun misfires and we have to pretend it shot a bullet. But overall the performance is well done for amateurs and it certainly has us guessing about who is the kidnapper. After the performance we bid sad farewell to Duane and Mary Lee since we will be taking different paths in early morning.
(Bert) After leaving Cape Breton Highlands National Park, we detach our Pathfinder from R-TENT to make the 1000-ft. descent from the mountaintop. Without the added weight, the Jacobs exhaust brake does most of the work although I still need to apply my regular breaks on the sharp curves. Reattached, we continue southwest along the island until Port Hastings where we cross the narrow Canso Causeway that connects Cape Breton to the rest of Nova Scotia. By the way, geologically Cape Breton Island is part of the same continent that formed Africa but after a collision of tectonic plates, it stuck to the North America continent. After parking R-TENT at a pretty campground overlooking St. Georges Bay, we drive to a local festival that features step dancing. Most of the performers are adolescent girls who have already been practicing the complicated dance for six years. However, one young woman who performed at the same festival 17 years ago, returns from Ontario and shows us what the extra years of training can add. Usually performed solo, the action is from the knees down. The upper body remains surprisingly steady as her feet move almost faster than the eye can follow. Most amazing is the step that places the dancer's feet on their sides in what must be a great strain on the ankles. The dance steps follow the rhythm of the Scotish/Irish fiddle music. The music is cyclical with the equivalent of dozens of repetitions of the chorus without end until the dancer decides she has had enough. After about four minutes of rapid footwork, the dancer stops abruptly and the fiddler stops then also. Since this abrupt ending is repeated with each dancer, it seems this is the usual procedure.
(Shari) Saying goodbye to Duane and Mary Lee, we head back down the Cabot Trail. We unhook our cars before the long descent, which makes everyone rest a bit easier. The trip down the mountain is only 1.5 miles, however it takes us another ten to find a space to pull off to re-hook. We arrive at Hyclass Camp Park south of Port Hastings just before noon and soon thereafter drive an hour up the west coast of Cape Breton to a step-dancing contest. Young people, mostly girls, show their talent to the audience by moving their feet to the music of the fiddler and keyboard. I am amazed at how the upper body stays almost perfectly still while the feet are all over the floor. It makes me want to try it myself. The festival, geared to mostly local residents, has little to offer the tourists. I am disappointed that there are no food booths, other than hot dogs, and no craft booths at the festival. I find it boring to watch one young person after another get up on the stage and dance. We decide to visit the scotch distillery I had read about another 30 minutes north. This too is a bit disappointing since they charge a hefty $5 per person to tour the place. Don treats us to ice cream cones on the way home. Back at the campground we walk to the beach and listen to a young man play the bagpipes for the campers. I take a picture of the piper standing between a fire and the shore with a glorious sunset at his back. This is a scenic campground and I recommend it to anyone in the area.
(Bert) Lots of cars are parked near the Catholic church in Linwood where we inquired yesterday about other churches in the area. A couple exiting Saturday's wedding pointed us in the direction of Port Hawkesbury for an Anglican church starting at 11 AM. We allow ourselves 25 minutes to find the church. Along the way we pass an unnamed church with an empty parking lot, then a Baptist church with another empty lot. When we find the Anglican church building, the sign says it starts at 11:30, so we keep driving. Everyone has already left the United church which had services at 9:30. Then we see a prominent church on a hill with lots of cars gathering. So we pull into the parking lot and read the sign: St. Joseph's Catholic Church. Running out of options, we decide to stay. Although our adult attitudes rejoice in our common Christian beliefs, the childhood admonition of keeping our distance from Catholics still lingers in our heads. So visiting a Catholic church is a rare experience for us. Other than a nod, no one greets us on the way in and no one hands us a bulletin or other schedule for the mass. Shari steers us to the last pew on the far left side of the beautiful new sanctuary. We start with an opening hymn announced and led by three musicians playing flute, guitar and keyboard. After the priest enters, the liturgy he follows is vaguely familiar but we don't know the congregational responses and the two hymnbooks in front of us contain similar but different liturgies, so mostly we just listen to others. When we sing another hymn we notice that most of the congregation does not join in, so different from the robust singing in a Lutheran church. The priest's sermon is particularly well prepared, delivered without notes and rivets our attention. Discussing the Eucharist, he points out the universality of the Christian practice and the incredible number and variety of times it has been celebrated in history from Joan of Arc entering battle, to the coronations of kings, to the young couple marrying in a quiet country church, to a frightened woman on her deathbed. The priest leads us to marvel that the simple act of eating bread and wine gives believers the recognition of the presence of Christ in their lives. After the sermon, we again watch and listen to others follow the liturgy. During the last hymn, one of the few things we can follow in the book, the congregation exits before the last amen. We follow. No one acknowledges our presence as we exit. Given the rarity of times I've visited a Catholic church, I am left with the question, "Are they all like this one?"
(Shari) Not wanting to attend the service at a Catholic church close to the campground, we drive to Port Hawksbury with the intention of finding an Anglican church there. Since most services we attended this summer have started at 11 AM we assume when we find the church its service will be at 11 also. Wrong! Arriving at 10:40, the parking lot is empty and the sign says services at 11:30 AM. Passing two other churches, one with services at 9:30, which is already over, and another with services at 11:30 also, we decide to attend a Catholic service at 11 AM. Not being Catholic, we are unsure of its church protocol, so we sit in the very last pew. The priest welcomes visitors, three young musicians accompany congregational hymns on flute, keyboard and guitar, and we loosely follow the order of service printed in a hymnal. On the surface the service is similar to ours and has all the same elements so we do not feel too uncomfortable. However no one really greets us and, anxious to get out, people leave their pews before the last hymn is even over. After lunch I take a drive by myself to Antigonish, stopping at a yard sale, a variety store and a coffee shop for ice cappuccino. I enjoy the scenery and my time alone in the pretty town. We share scallops on the grill with Don and Jean before they attend the bagpiper performance again this evening. Just as I leave R-TENT to take a picture of the wonderful sunset, Don and Jean walk up from the beach with Jean's sister and husband who they are to meet tomorrow in Halifax. Wonder of all wonders, they camped at the same campground as we did and both couples are surprised to run into each other a day early.
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