Saturday, November 15, 2014

Nova Scotia - Day 3: Baddeck, A.G. Bell Museum, Biking the Coast, Dingwall

We woke up to a glorious morning overlooking the water

After scrounging for breakfast, B and I hung out at the playground for a bit

I watched a large group of cyclists head out for a day on the Cabot Trail. The Cabot Trail is a 185-mi loop of 2-lane roads that circles the northern half of Cape Breton Island, and is a popular multi-day bicycle tour. For long stretches it hugs the coast, and in others passes through highlands not unlike those of Scotland. Hilary and I would be doing segments of it on this trip. Within New Hampshire, one could liken it to the triple-notch century that encircles the White Mountains. Much like the Kancamaugus Highway between Lincoln and Conway, prior to the establishment and improvement of the Cabot Trail, it was very difficult and time consuming to get from one far-flung community to another. Today it is merely time-consuming.

Then we headed back up to the cottage for practice

and headed into town to the Alexander Graham Bell museum. What an unexpectedly fine place! First off: it is large and well maintained, not just a handful of artifacts in a rundown one-room building. Secondly: it is not merely the story of the telephone. That's a part of it, and the part that most people know, but there is also an awful lot about his other work and experiments, particularly in the years after the telephone when he lived in Baddeck. He was an endless tinkerer, and the collection at the museum bears that out. (There is even a section with artifacts that no one knows what they are or were used for.) There was his work with the hearing impaired (his father's work, too), the phonograph, sheep husbandry, water distillation, and flight.
There's actually quite a lot to see there about his interest and experiments in flight, stuff that I had never heard about before. He had this fascination with tetrahedral kites, and used them to build up truly massive structures that could carry one or more people.

He and several fellows designed, built, and flew a series of experimental aircraft at around the same time as Wright Brothers. These culminated with the Silver Dart, which made several flights from the frozen surface of Bras d'Or. The museum has a replica and many original parts.


The torpedo-looking thing in the background was an experimental boat that reached unheard-of speeds using hydrofoils and a pusher prop.
After the museum we had a fantastic late lunch at the home of a retired co-worker of Holly's, just up the road from Baddeck. Their home was beautiful, and the setting hard to beat:

Among other conversation topics over lunch: where should the Baddeck community advertise in order to recruit some young docs to the area. Much like the North Country in NH, this area has a tough time recruiting and retaining young professionals to be so far from everything.
By the end of lunch it was getting on to mid-afternoon. Hilary and I were jonesing to get on our bikes, and sensitive to sunset being around 6. We still had about two hours' drive to our destination for the night - Dingwall, near the northern tip of the island. We drove along picturesque winding roads along the coast and through woodlands in autumn color. We stopped on the northern shore of Ingonish Harbor and got geared up. The cars would lag behind and pick us up farther down the road: Mark in our car with B and J, with Holly driving behind - a caravan of white subarus! Hilary and I finally hit the road around 4:30 just at the entrance to Cape Breton Highlands National Park. (It was a little unclear at the park entrance if we were supposed to pay or not. We stopped to pay, since we'd be in and out of the park over the next few days, but every car just sailed through. Oh well, of all the many expenses in this trip, a park fee is the least grumble-worthy.) It took some miles, but the road eventually came close against the coast, where we were treated to beautiful evening skies.



Good to finally be on the bikes (practicing the bike-selfie)

The exposure in that image is deceptive, because it was after sunset by this point. We had reflectors, we had lights, and the road was only lightly trafficked (only one car per minute in either direction), but the temperature was falling and it was getting dark. It had been a short outing - only about an hour - but very satisfying. Hilary and I pulled off at the appointed meeting spot in Neils Harbor and got picked just a few minutes after.
The town of Dingwall is a bit off the main road, and right on the water. We stayed in a cottage at The Markland, where we would actually be for two consecutive nights. We'd had a full day by that point, and a late lunch, so we scounged in our provisions for a light dinner. It's just as well, since there's not much for restaurants in and around Dingwall at this time of year.
After getting B off to bed, Hilary and I took Jasper for a much-needed long walk. A long sandy beach under the moonlight was just five minutes' stroll from our door, and made for a perfect setting. Jasper still seems to show surprise every time he gets a taste of salt water.

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