From Way Downtown ... Bang
We left our hotel at 11:00 and topped off the gas tank before going back downtown as we accidentally did yesterday, this time entering the now-open Halifax Citadel. Used from colonial times up until WWII for various purposes, the Citadel is now refurbished and acts as a living history museum, with folks dressed up in period costume, marching around, playing bagpipes, firing off cannon, etc.
After going down a blind one-way ramp (and hoping that people would be following the stoplight at the bottom), we parked and entered the Citadel. We walked around quite a bit of it, asking the folks in costume any questions we could think of. The re-enactors and other costumed men were from the 78th Highlanders, and we saw them fire off the noon cannon, which could be heard echoing off of every building in Halifax. It was quite an explosion.
We wandered up and down, checking out the cannon, the magazine, holding cells, and other things. We visited the schoolhouse, where the poor and illiterate soldiers could get a high-school level of education in order to advance up the ranks. In the schoolhouse area, we saw an old-timey Magic Lantern (an early kind of color image projector), a primer book which listed the seventh planet - later to be known as Uranus - as "Herschel," after its discoverer.
Further walking around the place, we stopped by a room where we could try on replica uniforms of the 78th Highlanders. I ended up with the uniform of the lead piper, while my dad got the officers' uniform. We posed with the agreeable fellow who helped us put the thick wool jackets and kilts over our clothing and with Yoder.
After walking around most of the Citadel, we backtracked along the road up to Truro, where we had split off to go to Halifax yesterday. When we got to Truro we turned east, heading along Nova Scotia bound for Cape Breton Island.
I started driving for a bit around the town of Pictou ... which is where the fun began, road-wise. The speed limit was constantly changing, the road kept changing from an Interstate-quality limited-access corridor to a thin two-or-three-lane one, and the locals went 150 km/h in a 100 km/h zone on the two-lane sections with trucks oncoming way too close for comfort.
Civilization was few and far between already, but somehow everything got even more desolate around Canso Causeway, where we got a quick bite at a nearby Subway before almost every scrap of civilization ran out.
In the ostentatiously-named Municipality of the District of Guysborough, we had to stop for a bridge that was rotated to let a ship through the causeway. It didn't take too long, and it was interesting seeing the bridge twist around before us. At around 5:00 we officially crossed over Canso Causeway and onto Cape Breton Island.
Most of the communities we passed were inhabited by Native Americans, but we did pass through a number of signs and place names indicating the region's living Celtic heritage. A few signs were in Gaelic and the only Gaelic college in North America is here - somewhere along the Cabot Trail. We'll be seeing it some time in the coming days.
A little before 6:00 we arrived in Baddeck and checked into our quaint little motel, overlooking the gorgeous Bras d'Or Lake. We're not too far from the site of the first flight in the British Empire - in fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that our room overlooks it ...
We ate at the adjoining restaurant. Unsure of what we wanted, we ordered the Thai Nachos - spicy won-ton chips covered in cheese, chicken, and a spicy sauce. I also had this for an entrée. My dad had the fish and chips, my mom had the salmon, and we all sampled around. I found the sampler dessert rather gross (not a fan of carrot cake, bread pudding, or mint brownies), and we entertained ourselves and our waiter, who had about as pronounced a Canadian accent as one can have.
Tomorrow: we begin the drive on the scenic Cabot Trail around Cape Breton Island.