Baddeck to Pictou, NS

The morning temp was 70 with partly cloudy skies. We did our morning routine and got ready to take down the camp. Today is the first day of August and we will start our journey back to the states. The morning didn’t start off too well when one of the 40 lb. hitch stabilizer bars fell over on my toes. Luckily, the full weight of the bar didn’t land on my toes and the strap on my sandals cushioned some of the blow. I limped around as we finished our preparation to leave. We left camp at 9:00 and I was able to take some Ibuprofen and keep my foot elevated on the dashboard for the 130 mile drive, if needed. The winds and traffic were light as we made our way from Cape Breton Island to the mainland of Nova Scotia. As we neared the Canso Causeway, we recognized the Nova Scotia Visitor’s Center that we had stopped at on our way to the island. High above us on the bluff we could see the huge gravel mining operation taking place on the hillside. They were removing gravel from the top and sending it down the chute to an area below.

The Canso Causeway crosses the Strait of Canso and links Cape Breton Island to the mainland. That I knew. What I didn’t know was that it is the world’s deepest causeway, reaching a depth of 213 ft. and a width of 800 ft. at its base. Ten million tons of rock were used in it construction. The causeway prevents ice from entering the Strait of Canso. A navigational lock allows passage of oceangoing traffic. Crossing over onto the mainland, it began to rain lightly. Today’s trip takes us along the eastern side of Nova Scotia to a town called Pictou. In Pictou, three rivers empty into the harbor, making it one of Nova Scotia’s largest lobster fisheries, as well as an active shipbuilding center. We had to do a little meal pre-planning in order to use up any Canadian meat and produce before crossing over the border into the U.S. this weekend. We’ll shop for groceries once we get on the other side. The drive today was pretty through the forested hillsides and the rain came down a little harder.

The rain continued as we neared our destination of Birchwood Campground in Pictou, NS. at 11:30.

Bob went in to register at the office and received a sight assignment. We drove to the site and it was already occupied. That’s the first time that’s ever happened to us. We parked along the road and he went back into the office to find out what was going on. He came back and said that the people in our campsite were supposed to be leaving today, but we could have another site if we wanted it. Meanwhile, the people came tearing into the campground, hopped out of their truck, and started taking down their camp. Bob went over there to talk with them and he was told that they would be gone in 10 minutes. It was more like 15, but they pulled out soon after that. We took the original site we were supposed to have and got all set up in no time. It was still raining lightly, so we did it quickly. We did notice our next door neighbors who seemed to have been in the campground for awhile. It was a family of 6….4 kids and 2 parents in a trailer smaller than ours. Yikes! No wonder they had so much stuff outside. This picture was taken from our trailer window.

We waited awhile to see if the rain would stop and after about 30 minutes it let up, so we took a drive into town. 

Pictou is the birthplace of New Scotland when in 1773, the Dutch ship Hector, landed with 189 Scottish settlers. Today Pictou has a stong Scottish heritage. The architecture reflects its past in the many older style Scottish buildings built of ballast stone. The stones were used in the bottom of ships as ballast.

We walked along the main street, first stopping in at the Grohmann Knife Factory, locally handcrafted here.

We checked out Mrs. MacGregor’s Restaurant. It had a great menu of Scottish dishes.

One place I really wanted to find was Whigmaleeries.

It it the foremost shop in northern Nova Scotia for all things Scottish. I wanted to see if they had the Shaw Clan tartan plaid. They had that and more. Bob’s mom gave him a tie with the Shaw plaid for Christmas one year. He also has a paper weight on his desk with the Shaw plaid on it. This post card describes the Crest as a right forearm brandishing a daggar and the Shaw Clan motto is “By Faithfulness and Fortitude”. The Shaw Clan fought at a battle of Harlaw in 1411. It was cool to see that there WAS a Shaw Clan. I am proud to be a part of that “clan” now.

The shop also had cups, bookmarks, paper weights, postcards, sample cloth, and key chains among other things. This is the Shaw Clan symbol on this key chain.

It was so cool to see all the Scottish Clans listed there….Shaw being one of them. Down on Front St. the city has some of the clans on banners hanging on the street lights. Too bad Shaw was not one of them. (Maybe they only had the banners of the clans that were residents of the town.) By now, it had started to rain harder, so we took the truck down to Front Street to take a look at the 3 marinas in town. At the harbor, the Hector Heritage Quay is the museum that offers insight into the journey of the early Scottish settlers.

On site, there is a full-scale replica of the tall ship, Hector, that brought the early settlers to Nova Scotia.

It started to rain more heavily, so we drove through town looking at more of the architecture of the old buildings and then headed back to the campground. We had a break in the rain to take Auggie out for a quick potty break and then I did some reading. We made a couple of Skype calls, watched the Olympics, and worked on the computer. It was a pretty gloomy day, with rain coming and going all afternoon and into the evening. Bob grilled dinner in ther rain and we chilled out for the rest of the evening. Good thing we had satellite TV to keep ourselves amused. Auggie got an evening walk in-between showers.

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