Coal Mine & Cabot Trail Tour

Day 145: September 6 – Sydney 

My morning was spent lazing about.  In the afternoon I picked up a rental car and headed to the post office with all the gear I no longer need.  It seems odd to ship stuff home when I only have a couple days of cycling left but I hear Newfoundland is hilly and with less weight on the bike I’m hoping I have a better chance of pedalling more and walking less.  It’ll also be less to worry about when packing for the airport – with a bike, trailer, dog, remaining gear and only 2 hands I already have more than I can handle!  Besides, I was only going to ship the gear home if the price was right.  At $50 to send home my tent and the 2 front panniers full of stuff (mostly camping specific gear) the price was most certainly right.  The lady at the post office was super nice.  She was very concerned that my gear wasn’t locked and that it would be easy for somebody to open and snoop inside.  I figured the smell would be enough to deter any would be thieves, but she wasn’t satisfied with this rationale.  She dug up some plastic bags, put my gear in the plastic bags and then taped them up from top to bottom.  While she was taping the bags I couldn’t help but look around the post office at the red banner running along the top walls with the names of different towns and cities across Canada and realize that I now recognize a vast majority of those towns as I have rolled through them this summer!

After the post office I drove the 20km east to the Cape Breton Miners Museum in Glace Bay.  This was a Kaye recommendation, so I was looking forward to checking it out.  The museum has an exhibit area which was interesting, but the real highlight is the tour.  All tours are conducted by previous coal miners, so they bring a very personal touch to the tour.  My tour guide was Abbie, a 75 year old who spent 54 years of his life working in the coal mines.  His dad, grandfather, uncles and cousins were all coal miners as well.  The tour was about an hour long and we got to walk underground in a very small section of a previous mine.  All 50 coal mines on Cape Breton are now closed, the last one closed in 2001.  The population in the area has been decreasing as workers seek employment out west (sounds like most head to Alberta).  As a tour guide Abbie was fantastic, showing and explaining all the ‘factual’ information while adding some humour and his own personal stories he experienced first hand or stories that have been passed down to him from his father and grandfather.  Just like the underground tunnel tours in Moose Jaw, it shocks me how poorly some people in Canada were treated in recent history.

Entrance to the coal mine

Entrance to the coal mine

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Our guide in the coal mine: Abbie

Our guide in the coal mine: Abbie

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Can you imagine this being your work environment?

Can you imagine this being your work environment?

Coal

Coal

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An example of a pit pony

An example of a pit pony

Abbie demonstrating how they would start digging a new section of the mine

Abbie demonstrating how he and his partner (in most cases his dad) would setup a workstation to dig coal

To bring a little light into the miner's day one gentleman started a garden

To bring a little light into the miner’s day one gentleman started a garden

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The Cage (how the miner's got into the mine)

The Cage (how the miner’s got into the mine)

Thanks for the solid recommendation Kaye!  When I dreamed and planned this trip I didn’t realize what an educational experience it would be for me!

Day 146: September 7 – Cabot Trail

Leaving my bike at the hotel in Sydney, I headed west in the rental car and started my journey around the Cabot Trail.  I decided to head counter clockwise around the trail.  There wasn’t any logic for this, just started driving and that’s the direction I ended up heading.  I pulled over at Franey Trail and decided to go for a hike up the mountain.  The Franey trail is a 7.4km loop that starts at an elevation of 95m and ascends to 430m to a spectacular view of the ocean on one side and a canyon on the other side.  The climb up was certainly a steep one and took me about an hour.  I was impressed to find just how good my legs were feeling though.  I felt none of that soreness or aches that I felt in my quads when hiking on the west coast.  In fact, my calves felt almost spring like and when the climb wasn’t too steep I even managed a little hop, skip and jump.  Dash had absolutely no problem with the climb and when we got to the top a couple other groups that were soaking in the view commented somewhat surprised that such a small dog could climb all that way!  The hike down was more windy and gradual.

My first view of the Cabot Trail

My first view of the Cabot Trail

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Dash intrigued by another car ferry ride

Dash intrigued by another car ferry ride

View along the east side of the Cabot Trail

View along the east side of the Cabot Trail

Dash taking in the view

Dash taking in the view

Heading up the Franey Trail

Heading up the Franey Trail

And up, and up, and up

And up, and up, and up

Almost at the top

Almost at the top

Almost...

Almost…

Tada!  The highest point of the Franey Trail, and what's this?  A muskoka chair to relax in

Tada! The highest point of the Franey Trail, and what’s this? A muskoka chair to relax in

Water view from the top

Water view from the top

And another

And another

And another

And another

One last water view from the top of Franey Trail

One last water view from the top of Franey Trail

A selfie on the muskoka chair

A selfie on the muskoka chair

Me and Dash!

Me and Dash!

And the mountain side view form the top of Franey Trail

And the mountain side view form the top of Franey Trail

One with Dash and I in the frame

One with Dash and I in the frame

Heading down the trail

Heading down the trail

Notice the nicely groomed ATV trail - much easier for walking down then the trail up!

Notice the nicely groomed ATV trail – much easier for walking down then the trail up!

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A water stream along the way

A stream along the way

Some quick facts on the Franey Trail

Some quick facts on the Franey Trail

After a few hours on the trail I got back in the car and headed to Pleasant Bay (being about half way around the trail, this was my destination for the night), stopping at different lookout points along the way.  There are a lot of lookout points, definitely no shortage of place to pull over and take a look around at the magnificent views.

One of the many pull over spots along the Cabot Trail (this was still on the east side)

One of the many pull over spots along the Cabot Trail (this was still on the east side)

Lobster traps

Lobster traps

Fishing boat

Fishing boat

Small town along the cabot trail

Small town along the cabot trail

A valley along the northern end of the Cabot Trail

A valley along the northern side of the Cabot Trail

A shieling - would provide shelter for scottish farmers and often some of their livestock

A shieling – would provide shelter for scottish farmers and often some of their livestock

I was sound asleep by 9pm.

Day 147: September 8 – Cabot Trail

Continuing along the Cabot Trail I think it took me about 2 hrs to drive the 43km from Pleasant Bay to Cheticamp.  There were just soooo many lookout points and the scenery was always changing so I felt I had to stop at almost every lookout point to absorb my surroundings.  I’ll post lots of pics here when I get back to Toronto.  This was my favourite stretch of road along the cabot trail.

The motel's backdrop in Pleasant Bay

The motel’s backdrop in Pleasant Bay

Pleasant Bay

Pleasant Bay

Where I had a seafood platter the previous night

Where I had a seafood platter the previous night

Now on the west side of the cabot trail

Now on the west side of the cabot trail

MacKenzie River Valley

MacKenzie River Valley

Another pic of MacKenzie River Valley.  Notice that the mountains all appear to plateau (no peaks), this is because the hard rock that forms these mountains do no succumb to erosion easily

Another pic of MacKenzie River Valley. Notice that the mountains all appear to plateau (no peaks), this is because the rock that forms these mountains do no succumb to erosion

A pond at the top of one of the mountains

A pond at the top of one of the mountains

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Dash was not inclined to come outside when it started raining

Dash was not inclined to come outside when it started raining

West side of the Cabot Trail (between Pleasant Bay and Cheticamp)

West side of the Cabot Trail (between Pleasant Bay and Cheticamp)

If dogs could talk I think Dash would have some choice words with me for bringing her out into the rain! lol!

If dogs could talk I think Dash would have some choice words with me for bringing her out into the rain! lol!

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Looking at the rock formations

Looking at the rock formations

And closer up

And closer up

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Colorful coastal homes

Colorful coastal homes

P1050024P1050025From Cheticamp I headed to Baddeck and spent a couple hours exploring the Alexander Graham Bell museum.  He and his wife had a vacation home in Baddeck where Alexander Graham Bell toiled with many of his other inventions (beyond the telephone).  In fact, the first Canadian powered flight took place in Feb. 2009 over the frozen Bras d’Or Lake with the ‘Silver Dart’ aircraft that was built by a team which included Bell.

By the Alexander Graham Bell museum, overlooking Bras d'Or Lake

By the Alexander Graham Bell museum, overlooking Bras d’Or Lake

Why the Bell's chose to make Baddeck, NS their vacation home

Why the Bell’s chose to make Baddeck, NS their vacation home

Alexander Graham Bell toyed with many inventions one being a flying bike

Alexander Graham Bell toyed with many inventions one being a flying bike

This quote spoke to me

This quote spoke to me

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