Cape Breton Island

Our first stop in Cape Breton Island was Port Hastings and the tourist info centre. After getting some information we drove to Baddeck, at the foot of the Cabot Trail. This is the home of Alexander Graham Bell as well as the birthplace of Canadian aviation.

It was raining and windy so much of our sightseeing was done from inside our van, rather than on foot. Our timing was off and we arrived at the Gaelic College in St. Anns too late for the demonstrations they have, so continued on the trail.

Cabot Trail

At Igonish we entered Cape Breton Highlands National Park. We drove up to Keltic Lodge and took some pictures but didn’t feel we were dressed appropriately to go inside. Our stop for the night was in South Harbour, halfway around the Cabot Trail.

Cabot Trail

The next morning we met friends from Calgary for breakfast at Danena’s Bakery & Bistro. It was the first trip to Cape Breton for all of us and nice to be able to connect and share our experiences.

Cabot Trail

The sunshine and warmth had reappeared so we took our time completing the Cabot Trail and stopped at many lookouts to take pictures. The leaves were changing to vibrant colours and we enjoyed soaking up the beauty. At one point a moose lumbered across the road in front of us. I was so busy watching it that I didn’t think to take out the camera and get a picture!

At Margaree Forks we left the Cabot Trail and joined the Ceilidh Trail. The night was spent at a campground in Port Hood, a stone’s through from the beach.

Celtic Music Interpretive Centre

Another highlight was the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre in Judique. There was an opportunity to learn a few simple steps for step dancing and try my hand at playing the fiddle. I seem to have no natural ability at either!

While there we attended a lunch Ceilidh. The fiddle playing was incredible. It would have been easy to spend hours listening to it, but the line-up to get in for lunch convinced us we should give up our table.

We drove to Sydney, stopping for pictures at St Anne’s lookout over St. Anne’s Bay and Bras d’Or lookout. In Sydney we made our way to the pier, walked along the boardwalk, took pictures of the Big Fiddle (I think it’s 60 feet tall) and watched a cruise ship leave port.

The next morning we attended the Sydney Farmer’s Market. We found one booth where old silverware was turned into beautiful jewellery. Another vendor told us her inspirational story. We loved meeting people!

We arrived in Port Hawksbury in time to attend a Fishcakes and Fiddles dinner. Eating fishcakes made from salted cod and mashed potatoes was a new experience for me. We had some interesting conversation with people at our table.

I was really there!

The next morning we attended church in Port Hawksbury before having to leave Cape Breton Island. I’m pretty sure we left a piece of our hearts there and will need to go back for a longer visit.


In our first ten nights away we spent two camped in the driveways of friends, two in campgrounds and the other six boondocking.

For those unfamiliar with the term, boondocking is camping without services.  We had no electrical hookups and the only water was what we had on board. In other words we were self-contained and didn’t require anything extra. On two occasions we plugged in a portable generator for a short time  once was to use the air conditioner to cool the van enough to sleep and the other time was to have light to read by and power to charge our phones

On these nights our campgrounds were parking lots, either at a gas station truck stop or department store. We would check online for free RV parking in our destination city. After parking in an area that wouldn’t impede customer traffic we would go into the business and ask permission to spend the night on their property.

To show appreciation we would purchase any supplies we needed from the business allowing us this privilege. We showed respect for their property by being quiet and unobtrusive as well as ensuring the area was left clean and tidy.

I was actually surprised by the number of RV’s that would be in a parking lot overnight. We were never alone and this is an excellent way of stretching our travel dollars. We always had access to clean washrooms and often could also get free wifi. This is definitely the way to travel

We’ve been told about some other good boondocking areas on our journey and look forward to checking them out.