Day #203….A rainy day in Sydney

Day 203

LOCATION:  Near Sydney, Nova Scotia in SE part of Cape Breton
CAMPGROUND:  Mira River Provincial Park.
WEATHER:  Rain most of the day.  High 66

It rained all night and again all day today.  With outdoor activities not looking fun, we headed in to nearby Syndey for the day.  It is Cape Breton’s largest city.

First was errands – grocery store, liquor store, and bank.  We hung out at the public library to do some internet work.  Tony and Jenny checked out a restaurant where we plan to go on Saturday night featuring Cape Breton music. 

The music here is famous, especially for its fiddling.  This fiddle on the Syndey Harbor is a famous landmark.

On to lunch…..George has been hankering for sushi, and Tony found a good spot.  It seems very popular with the local crowd, always a good sign.  We ordered several platters to share – some salmon/tuna sushi, a sushi/sashimi mixed plate, a seafood roll, and gyoza.  All very delicious!

We walked around downtown and stopped by a cidery for a tasting.  This is included in our Nova Scotia “Good Cheer Passport” and we were able to get some more stamps.  From there, to a brewery where we got even more stamps.  What a great way to spend a rainy afternoon!

DINNER:  My turn.  White Chicken Chili.  I used a recipe that won me 2nd place at our community chili cook-off a few  years ago.  It was a good night for chili.  Side was a mixed salad – one of those packaged kits from the store – with a Southwestern theme.


2 15-oz can of white beans or 1/2 pound of dry white beans
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion diced
1/2 green bell pepper diced
1/2 poblano pepper diced
2 cloves garlic minced – divided
1/2 jalapeno minced (more or less to taste)
4-oz can chopped green chilies – don’t drain
2 teaspoons oregano
4 teaspoons cumin – divided
2 teasponns chili powder – divided
1 teaspoon cayenne
1-2 bay leaves
garlic salt
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, diced in small cubes
3 cups chicken stock
1 beer (optional)
Hot sauce to taste
4 oz cream cheese
4 oz heavy cream
1 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 bunch cilantro finely diced


If using dry beans, soak them overnight.  Drain, cover with hot water and a bay leaf and garlic salt.  Bring to boil, then simmer about 2 hours.  Drain.  If using canned beans, just drain the beans.  Set aside.

Saute onions, green pepper, jalapeno, and poblano pepper until soft.  Add garlic, canned green chiles, cumin, chili powder, and cayenne, and cook additional minute.  Set aside

In a big pot, brown chicken in olive oil and finish off with the rest of the cumin, cayenne, oregano, and chili powder.  Add chicken broth (and beer, if desired). Add the onion mix.   Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the cooked, drained beans and cook 15 more minutes. 

Add heavy cream, cream cheese, and some of the Monterey Jack cheese.  Cook until  cheese is melted.  Salt,  pepper, and hot sauce to taste. 

Serve with the rest of the Monterrey Jack shredded cheese, oyster crackers, cilantro and/or diced scallions  (Note –  I couldn’t find oyster crackers so used Goldfish crackers). 

Day #202. Onward to explore another part of Cape Breton

LOCATION:  Near Syndey, Nova Scotia in SE part of Cape Breton
CAMPGROUND:  Mira River Provincial Park.  Electricity and water.  Central dump station.  Nice bathroom/showers.  Gravel, level site with picnic table and firepit.  Spacious sites, but not too many trees.  No view of river in our loop. US$28/night.  4 stars out of 5
WEATHER:  Rain most of the day.  High 68

We hung around last night’s campground all morning, enjoying our last views of the ocean.  Everyone has left and we had the place to ourselves.  We went to the Visitors’ Center to do some wifi work and to chat with the hostess about Cape Breton.

Here we are saying good-bye to our park’s lighthouse….

Even though it rained throughout our drive, it was a very pretty route – following Bras d’Or Lake which is huge.  We saw more German real estate signs; this is probably a very attractive potential development area, as prices are low and the landscape is beautiful. 

We got set up in our new campground between rain showers.  It is supposed to rain most of this week, so we are looking into indoor activities…..breweries, distilleries, museums. 

DINNER:  Tony’s turn.  He set up his awning and was able to do the outdoor cooking in the light rain.

He made radiatori (pasta) in a creamy sauce with pesto, shiitake/oyster/cremini mushrooms, onions, and red peppers.  Wow!  Side was Caesar salad.

BOOK:  Reading is one of the pleasures of rainy weather.  I started, then finished, this book today – “7th Heaven” by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro.  It is a part of a different series of his called the Women’s Murder Club Thrillers.  Each chapter has about 3 pages.  So, you finish one chapter, and say – “I will read just one more”, and then before you know it, you’re finished!  4 stars out of 5

Day #201 – Competing for the “Worst Road in Canada!”

LOCATION:  St. Peter’s, Nova Scotia- SW part of Cape Breton
CAMPGROUND:  Battery Provincial Park
WEATHER:  Cool, mostly sunny,  High 68

It rained and howled all night, but the sun came out this morning.  We took our morning walk, sticking to the roads as the paths were muddy. 

Then, off for an afternoon drive around the area.   The road started as a bumpy pavement, with patches on top of patches.  We followed the coast, stopping several times for Tony and George to fish.  (No luck, again). 

At the halfway point, we looked at the map to see how to return.  We really didn’t want to retrace our steps, so decided to take a gravel road.  It was on the paper map as well as the Garmin. Can’t be too bad, right?


It started as a regular gravel road.  Then, the gravel ended and it turned  into a rocky cow path (which is a compliment).  We had about 10 miles on this “path”  and there was no place to turn around.

Impossibly, it just got worse and worse.  Grass was growing up in the middle and there were huge rocks in the lane that we had to avoid as to not cause damage to the things under the car.  Since it had rained last night, there were huge puddles to cross.

We kept saying that it will get better, but it did not.

This road competes with one other Canada road we were on a few years ago with my aunt and uncle.  We had driven to the area where my uncle and mother had grown up.  We were trying to find their old house.  It was down a dirt lane.  Again, it had just rained and the lane was about 1 foot high in mud.  Too late, we realized that there was no place to turn around.  So, we had to back up about 3 miles, with mud up to the top of the tires. We kept getting stuck and had to rock the car back and forth, until we could move again.   It might have been worse than today’s path, but it was only 3 miles, whereas today’s just went on and on. 

It became more narrow, and the bushes were making horrible scraping sounds on the sides of the car as we drove through them.  Tony, our driver today, did a bang-up job, and we have to thank  Sully, the Honda, for a job well-done. This is the view from the back seat showing the “jungle” around us

After about an hour on this path, we arrived at a logging camp.  Whew!  We were so afraid that we were going to end up with some barrier, like a tree across the road or a river without a bridge.  Jenny and I were secretly thinking to ourselves that in worse case scenario, we could walk the remaining 5 miles to a house to get help.  From the logging camp, it was much better.  We survived!!!

We checked out this Pioneer Cemetery to recuperate.  They are the graves of the original Scottish settlers from the island of Harris (as in tweed) with names like McMillen, McFarlan, and Ferguson.  Deaths were in the early 1800s. 

Back at the campground, we rested.  George made a fire and we sat around it, talking about our day’s adventures.

DINNER:  My turn.  Fried rice with chunks of grilled chicken and pork, seasoned with onion, garlic, ginger, and soy sauce.  Side was Asian vegetables. 

Day #200 – It was a dark and stormy night…..

LOCATION:  St. Peter’s, Nova Scotia- SW part of Cape Breton
CAMPGROUND:  Battery Provincial Park
WEATHER:  Cool, cloudy, and rainy.  High 68

We decided to get in an early walk before the predicted rains came in.  We did a city walk, starting at the locks, and following the bay.  After a few kilometers, we climbed up a steep hill into the city itself.  This was a cute road sign near the city limits. Now at 70, I guess the sign applies to me!

As we walked along, we saw cute fire hydrants that the city had painted.

Tony teases us as Jenny and I walk a bit faster than he does, and we are always getting ahead of him.  He says this is the view of us he sees all of the time…..

Our big loop hike  ended back at the locks.

We watched the fishermen and their pretty boats.  It is not lobster season here right now, but First Nations people (Indians) can fish anyway. 

We spent most of the afternoon relaxing while the weather did its thing outside.  I read; George napped.  Then, he and I ran into town for some errands. We want to buy some gas before we  head out, but the gas station (only one in the town) is closed on Sundays!  We topped off our little trip with a stop at the local inn for a drink.   A musician was just starting up….

DINNER:  Tony’s turn, and he went all out.  We started with Bloody Maria’s.  The rain stopped long enough for him to grill pork medallions outside, along with potatoes and a salad.  As soon as he brought the food in, the skies opened up.  We cozily enjoyed our dinner inside, high and dry……it was a dark and stormy night……

BOOK:  “Go Set a Watchman” by Harper Lee, a sequel to “To Kill a Mockingbird”.  Although it has poor reviews, I enjoyed it.  All about racism in the South.  4 stars out of 5

Day #199 – Exploring SW Cape Breton Island

LOCATION:  St. Peter’s, Nova Scotia- SW part of Cape Breton
CAMPGROUND:  Battery Provincial Park
WEATHER:  Cool, cloudy, and foggy.  High 68

The day started out gloomy, so we postponed our morning hike.  Instead, we loaded up the car and went to a laundromat.  What fun!  (Not!)

After that chore, we did get in a good hike, up and down some trails in the park. We teased our tour guide Tony, for taking us on this trail….

Then, for a drive around the area – a bit of a loop around a peninsula.  As we were driving, we saw this resident’s hobby of creating a license plate “jungle”.

And, across the street was a boat called R Day Off in the woods, appearing like it had washed up and settled there.

Our route took us around Bras d’ Or  (Arm of Gold) Lake.   There are a few nice houses with lake views, but a lot of undeveloped property.  There were real estate signs in German all along the road, and after researching it, we learned that a lot of Germans are developing land here. 

Back at the campground, George made a fire and I cooked a bunch of chicken thighs – for both tonight’s dinner as well as a future one.  We bundled up around the fire for happy hour.

DINNER:  My turn.  I made a casserole from a recipe I had found – a hearty dish for a cool evening.  I sauteed onion and garlic, then added spinach (fresh or frozen) and artichoke hearts.  Then, cream, parmesan, and herbs.  After that was bubbling away, I added the cooked chicken (diced) and cooked/drained pasta.  After transferring this from the skillet to a baking dish, I topped it all with mozarella and bacon bits, then baked for about 25 minutes.  Side was caprese salad (using dried basil sadly instead of fresh). 

Day #198 – Happy Birthday To Me!

LOCATION:  St. Peters, Nova Scotia – in SW Cape Breton
CAMPGROUND:  Battery Provincial Park
WEATHER:  Summer-like with sun and high 84

This is my new motto – 70 is the new 40.  Yes, I turned 70 today.  I don’t know what 70 is supposed to feel like, but I feel great!   I really feel healthier now than I did several years ago.  Retirement enables me to exercise more, relax, and eat better. 

I started the birthday day with a nice walk around the campground with our friends Tony and Jenny.  The campground is high on a cliff overlooking the bay, so we had lots of ups and downs to trek.

This is our campsite’s fire pit area where we will build a fire later this evening….

Then, off to Isle Madame, one of the smaller Cape Breton islands.  It is rustic, sparsely populated, and beautiful.  George tried his hand at fishing……again.

We made a circular loop around the island, stopping first for lunch at a well-known coffee shop.  Very nice. 

We stumbled upon their historical society’s museum where we learned about the Acadians’ lives in the early 1900s, very rugged.    There, a local guy was working and gave us a tip for some good fishing.

So, we followed the man’s instructions to a hidden wharf.  Tony was the first to catch one – a small mackarel. 

Then, George scored with a larger one!  YAY – the first fish on this entire trip!!

While they were fishing, I took photos of some of our setting….

Back at the campground, Tony did his prep work for my special birthday dinner and George got a campfire going.  We sat around the fire eating our appetizers – a good Camenbert and crackers, along with George’s grilled fish…..all paired with a super bottle of Champagne from an Annapolis Vallley vineyard, Tony and Jenny’s birthday gift to me.

DINNER:  Tony made two batches of steamed mussels – one with peppers and white wine and one with other spices and red wine.  Delicious.  We sopped up the juice with a good piece of Italian bread.  Side was a mixed green salad.

What a wonderful birthday day, with friends, a loving husband, while traveling in a beautiful country.  I have so much to be thankful for!!!

BOOK:  I squeezed in another one, finishing this off after dinner…..”Our Darkest Night” by Jennifer Robson.  It tells a story of a Jewish woman disguised as a Catholic wife, hiding from the Gestapo during WWII.    I really enjoyed it.  5 stars out of 5.

Day #197 – Cape Breton….Here we come!

LOCATION:  SW part of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia
CAMPGROUND:  Battery Provincial Park.  Magnificent!  Water and electricity at sites.  Small park so very quiet.  Privacy between sites.  Our site(#34) is the best one with views of the ocean below.  Great bathrooms.  Fire pit and picnic table.  One of the best campgrounds we have been in! $28US/night.  Definitely 5 stars out of 5
WEATHER:  Sunny.  High 84
DISTANCE DRIVEN:  3 hours + stops

As part of our farewell to the Northumberland Straits part of Nova Scotia, we drove in to the nearby town of Pictou (Birthplace of New Scotland) and bought some Scottish shortbread and oak cakes, baked fresh that morning by the owner Mrs. MacGregor in the back kitchen.  Nice!

Then, we were off – to Cape Breton – where we will spend the next 3 weeks exploring the island.  We were on the busy highway most of the way, until we spotted a sign for a brewery.  So, off we went – a detour down secondary roads hugging the water.  We were on what is called the Eastern Shore.  Breathtakingly beautiful with lakes and trees starting to turn. 

We followed the signs for the brewery and found it at the tip of one of the coves.  George tasted their whiskies and had a coffee porter.  Consequently, I was assigned DD and continued the drive to the campground.

Our jaws dropped as we pulled in to our campsite.  This is the view from our front door….

We will be here 5 nights, exploring this SE part of Cape Breton.

DINNER:  My turn…..I made a black bean soup using a new recipe I had found.  Then, we had toasted naan with a cream cheese sauce, topped with salami, roast beef, chicken breast slices, cheese, and sun-dried tomatoes.  A  nice change of pace!

Day #196 -Following the Nova Scotia Good Cheer Trail

LOCATION:  Near Pictou, Nova Scotia
CAMPGROUND:  Caribou Monroe Island Provincial Park
WEATHER:  Another beauty!  Sunny.  High 78

We continued with our brisk morning walk routine – 3 kms (almost 2 miles) around the campground.  Some campers left; new ones came in including 2 Airstreams! 

Later in the morning, we took a long walk along the beach.  Alas, we didn’t take our cameras for photos, but trust me – it was very picturesque. 

Today was a pub crawl day.  We have a Nova Scotia “Cheers passport” and get stamps when we visit different wineries, breweries, and markets.  Today we got 2 stamps.  Once we hit 15, we can enter a contest for a grand prize and will receive t-shirts.  Fun!

The first brewery we hit was Uncle Leo’s Brewery – especially cool since I DO have an Uncle Leo.  We had a beer there and saluted the real uncle!

On our way to the next brewery, we stopped at this old log church, built by the Scots in 1796.

After a bit of shopping, we made our final stop – at the Pictou Lodge and Resort.  Fabulous!  It has an “Up North”, woodsy feel with exposed logs and a huge hearth.

We had a drink in their lounge.  The manager chatted with us a while and told us about famous people that have visited – like Babe Ruth, Condalezza Rice, Hank Williams, and various Canadian Prime Ministers.

DINNER:  My turn.  George grilled a halibut steak on the campfire.  We wrapped it in aluminum foil and seasoned simply with salt, pepper, and butter.  One side was steamed rice.  I also made a creamed corn casserole, taking advantage of the last-of-the-season fresh corn. 


1 T olive oil
2 slices bacon finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
salt and pepper
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 T flour
3/4 cup whole milk
4 oz cream cheese, cut into piece
4 oz Cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
2 # fresh or frozen corn
1/2 tsp paprika

1.  Heat oven to 375.     Heat oil.  Add bacon until browned.  About 5 minutes
2. Discard all but 2 T fat.  Add onion, salt and pepeppr.  Cook 5-6 minutes;.  Add garlic and cook 1 minute
3. Sprinkle flour over onion mixture and cook, stirring 1 minute.  Gradually stir in milk.  Simmer until slightly thickened, 1-2 minutes
4. Add cream cheese and Cheddar and cook until melted. Stir in corn and paprika.
5. Transfer mixture to six 6-oz ramekins or 2 quart baking dish.  Bake 20 minutes. 

BOOK:  “The German Midwife” by Mandy Robotham.  Although fiction, it makes you think that it is a true story – based on Eva Braun’s pregnancy, and the midwife’s role in the labor camps, and then with Eva.  Excellent.  5 stars out of 5

Day #195 – The last day of summer – a glorious day on the Northumberland Straits

LOCATION:  Near Pictou, Nova Scotia
CAMPGROUND:  Caribou Monroe Island Provincial Park
WEATHER:  Another beauty!  Sunny.  High 76

Every morning, I take a brisk walk with Tony and Jenny.  It is a great way to start the day. George stays back and does his daily exercise regime. 

Today we went on a day-long road trip along the coast, taking back roads through fields and woods.  There is not much out here.    The Scottish heritage is very evident.  The road signs are in both English and Gaelic.  We stopped at a cairn dedicated to some early Scottish settlers.

We stumbled upon this really nice distillery along the highway.  We did some tasting and purchasing.  Their gin won “Best in the World”!

The pourer told us that in the summer the place really hops – with outdoor eating (lobster rolls, halibut, and sausages)  accompanied by music and ocean views.  Cute bathroom sign….

Down to the harbor, where we had a nice picnic next to an old lighthouse. 

George and Tony tried their luck at fishing…..none.

The next stop was George’s namesake – Cape George.  We had the entire cape to ourselves.  Beautiful!

Our final stop was the college town of Antigonich,  We checked out a brewpub there in their nice downtown.

Back home, George shucked some oysters for an appetizer….

DINNER:  Tony’s turn.  He made a chicken/veg stir-fry served over ramen.  It was nice enough to eat al fresco.  Nice evening, and great day!

Day #194 – New Scotland (Nova Scotia) History

LOCATION:  Near Pictou, Nova Scotia
CAMPGROUND:  Caribou Monroe Island Provincial Park
WEATHER:  Beautiful and sunny.  High 75

We took a nice, long morning walk around the campground and down to our beach.  This is a beautiful place, and not crowded right now. 

Then, a drive into Pictou, home of Nova Scotia’s first Scottish settlement.  The Scottish settlers came over in the late 1700s on a ship that looked like this one, and developed a new home – “New Scotland”. 

We did some errands, including a stop in the town of New Glasgow (get the Scottish theme?) 

We stopped at the Prince Edward Island ferry, which is right next to our campground, to check into taking the ferry there later this week.  It is pretty spendy and there are a lot of forms to complete (for Covid) for both PEI and Nova Scotia, so we decided not to go.  We have been there before, and hope to go back one day, just not this trip.

At the campground, we took another long walk on the beach.  One brave couple got in the water, but it was a bit chilly for us.

DINNER:  Wow!  Tony made some scallop appetizers and margaritas,  so we had Happy Appies!  (happy hour appetizers).  He grilled some bacon, cut it in small squares, then seared the scallops 30 seconds (no more!), sprinkled on cayenne and Old Bay seasoning, and served them on top of the bacon squares.  Much better than trying to cook the two items together, as they need drastically different cooking times.

My turn for supper.  I tried a new recipe which was a rich veg/tomato sauce with meatballs  (browned over the fire) and white beans.  Sides were zucchini, salad, and a take-N-bake French loaf for dipping into the sauce. 

After dinner, we had a Canada election-watching party.  Elections here are much more civilized (with a much shorter campaign period) than in the USA.    By the time we went to bed, the votes were not all in, but it looked like Trudeau would be re-elected.