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Trip Report: PEI, Cape Breton, Halifax, Grand Manan, Acadia

Trip Report: PEI, Cape Breton, Halifax, Grand Manan, Acadia

Old Aug 13th, 2006, 11:26 AM
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Trip Report: PEI, Cape Breton, Halifax, Grand Manan, Acadia

We're just back from a great three week trip to all of the above. I have two don't miss recommendations for campers: MacLeods Campground in Inverness (Cape Breton) is located on this glorious swath of beach, and is as pretty as anywhere I've ever been. And the Hole in the Wall Campground on Grand Manan was incredible--we were up on a cliff overlooking the ocean, and we heard whales breathing on the first night, along with a whole cacaphony of other ocean sounds. Turns out that the fisherfolk caught a whole bunch of sardines in the weir right below us the next morning, which was why all of the ocean creatures seemed to have congregated in that one place. The other nights were quiet, but I wouldn't take a million dollars in exchange for that first night.

We started our trip in PEI, Blue Skye Cottages on the Argylle Coast. We had to climb a set of very steep stairs down to the ocean, which was half way up the stairs at high tide, and then went out forever at low tide. We had a blast playing in the ocean and tidepools at lowtide. We took some of the red sand and tried to make our own "PEI dirt shirts," but they didn't turn out too well!

Our favorite place on PEI, besides our own beach, was Basin Head, where the kids could jump off a bridge into a river that would then float them into the ocean. It started lightning after awhile, and I'm glad it did--otherwise, we never would have been able to leave.

PEI was pretty, and a good place to just relax, especially since we loved the beach near our cottage. But I was surprised by two things: one, how big it is, and two, how much it looks like Kentucky! I'm glad we went, but don't feel a need to return. We went from one end of the island to the other, and saw quite a bit, including two foxes, which was one of my hopes. (We have plenty of foxes in Kentucky, but I never see them.)

Okay, I'll stop now and go on later.
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Old Aug 13th, 2006, 11:38 AM
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Me again. We spent one week on PEI, and then headed for Cape Breton. Spent three nights at MacLeod (I loved it for the beach, the kids loved it for the pool table!) We timed it to attend the Broad Cove Festival, which was wonderful--fiddling, step-dancing, etc. It's the last Sunday of July, I think, and a great experience!

Then headed for Dingwall, where we stayed in a nice camping cabin at Hideaway Campground. Didn't see any moose as we passed through the park, and were too tired to head back at dusk. Went instead to another beautiful beach on Anse Bay near the campground. It was warm enough for all of us to swim, and calm.

Had a long day the next day from Dingwall to Halifax--stopped a lot of times because the views were so pretty. Ate lunch in Baddeck. We picnicked a great deal, by the way, and always managed to find the prettiest places along the way. Stayed at the Residence Inn in Halifax--very nice! Spent two nights, and were able to drive to Peggy's Cove (so precious, no that's not the word, cute, no, that's not the word, either!). Also picnicked in the Public Gardens, I think they were called--very pretty. And tried to attend a Shakespeare in the Park, but it was cancelled once we got there. Had a fun time looking around anyway. I thought that Halifax was just wonderful! It actually reminded me a bit of San Francisco and a bit of Edinburgh, and I was really surprised by how quaint and funky it was.

Then on to Hopewell Rocks the next day. It was drizzling, but we hiked down to the rocks, and spent some time looking around. Camped in a camping cabin nearby. Clean, friendly, nothing to write home about.
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Old Aug 13th, 2006, 11:55 AM
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THEN came Grand Manan, which was the highlight of the trip. Or maybe I should say that it ties with Cape Breton for the highlight of the trip. We camped for three nights, took a ferry to White Head Island, watched whales and the sunset from the Whistle, ate lobster rolls at a church supper, got the BEST croissants ever at the little bakery there, and just enjoyed ourselves SO much.

After that we headed to Acadia by way of ferries, from Deer Island to Campobello (where we took a very interesting self-guided tour of Roosevelt's summer "cottage"), to Lubec. On the way down we stopped at Jasper Beach, which is all made of smooth polished colored stones. Could have stayed there forever looking, but, of course, couldn't really.

We got into Blackwoods Campground in Acadia after dark, and set up, spent three nights, one night back in Bangor (oh, yes, I forgot to say, that's where we started out), and then flew home.

We enjoyed Acadia (rode bikes around Eagle Lake, which is NOT level, no matter what they tell you; attended a lumberjack show, corny, but fun; played frisbee on Sand Beach; drove down to Bass Harbor lighthouse and picnicked at Seawall; ate ice cream in Bar Harbor more than once; attended two ranger talks and my ten year old became Junior Ranger), but agreed that it was anti-climactic after all the other beauty that we'd seen. I'm glad we went, but think that in retrospect, we could have spent more time in Nova Scotia and liked it more. We didn't get past Peggy's Cove on the South Shore, and didn't see the Glooscap Trail at all (though did see the Bay of Fundy on the other side).

That's it. It was a glorious blast. We all still love each other (partner, two boys). We put three thousand miles on the car, and listened to one and a half books on tape ("Eragon" and "Eldest"). Thank God for books on tape.

Oh, I didn't mention that we did a lobster supper at St. Annes in PEI. My husband and teen son LOVED it. My ten year old, however, has decided to become a vegetarian, and I (who haven't eaten red or white meat for 18 years, but have still eaten fish and seafood) will probably never eat another lobster again. It's the head, I think, which you don't see much around where I live!

Well, that's it. Thanks to everyone who helped me plan this, especially to whoever mentioned Grand Manan to me--people there would say, "Where did you hear about Grand Manan?" "Fodors.com," I would say. Thanks so much!
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Old Aug 14th, 2006, 02:34 AM
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Great report. I haven't been to Grand Manan for several years but it is one of my favourite places in north america.
Happy to see that it is still the wonderful place I remembered.


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Old Aug 14th, 2006, 07:01 PM
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I loved this report too. The PEI part especially but now I want to get back to Grand Manaan!!!
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Old Aug 15th, 2006, 05:13 AM
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Hi, it's wonderful to read a trip report from visitors to the Maritimes; glad you all enjoyed your vacation.
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