Meat Cove – Cape Breton Highland

My story today requires that you stop and take a couple of very deep breaths as you forget about the noise and demands of everyday life. We decided to take the gravel road out to Meat Cove while we were waiting to go whale watching. We used to like to take the fire trails in the very north of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in search of ghost towns and this rekindled that sense of excitement about what was around the next bend.

Dirt Road to Adventure

Wild Raspberries

There were a few houses, but mostly peeks at the ocean and mountains and cliffs. And wild flowers along the edge. As I was taking some pictures of flowers, my husband found a few wild raspberries that the bears hadn’t eaten.

He shared and they were bursting with flavor – both of them because he only found four.This is where I found the butterfly and here is another pose.

The road ended at a field with picnic tables that overlooked the beach.

Beach at Meat Cove

Not the normal beach where you sit and watch people. Although there was a couple soaking up the warmth of the sun.

Sun Bathers

And kids doing what kids do when they don’t have electronic games and toys.

Ocean Wildlife of Cape Breton

We woke to rain hitting the canvas of the camper again this morning but were determined that we would go whale watching. Because of the rain we didn’t hurry – in fact we dawdled over the internet and a second cup of coffee – and the rain continued. Occasionally it seemed like the skies lightened a little and they would give us a burst of enthusiasm. The owner of the campground (who had told us about The Chowder House) told us the best place to go for whale watching.

We drove up to the small harbor of Bay St. Lawrence by North Point for our chosen departure time of 1:30 but as we were waiting it started to rain – hard, and the wind was blowing so hard I couldn’t take pictures of wild flowers even when it wasn’t raining. Because the skies had cleared late in the afternoon the day before, we decided that 4:30 would be a better departure time (poor logic for weather).To “kill time” (husband’s term) we drove up to Meat Cove (yes, real name for no apparent reason) that I will post about another time.

At 4:00 we returned to the docks under partly sunny skies and no wind (who needs logic).

I don’t like to just “kill time” so we had an ice cream cone at the “take out” across from the dock where Captain Cyril Fraser ties his whale-sighting/fishing boat.

According to his advertising brochure, the Oshan Whale Watching company is a family business and the family has made northern Cape Breton their continued home for five generation. The western portion of Cape Breton is primarily Scotish and Oshan is the Gaelic word for “standing tall or above” and according to Cyril it has been the nickname of the Fraser clan for generations.

Our ride onto the Atlantic was warm and very comfortable – we didn’t need the heavy sweatshirts we brought and it wasn’t long before a whale broke the surface.

Pilot Whale

I put my camera on automatic, with the special pet option and fired away every time there was surfacing. These are Pilot whales and the cows are carrying their calves on their backs. In the above picture it looks like there are two moms traveling together.

Pilot Whale with calf

One whale surfaced about 25 feet from our boat. After we had our fill, we moved toward North Point which is the northern most point of Cape Breton to see seals. The are curious creatures but also timid so they would poke their heads out of the water a ways away to check us out and then all of a sudden dive under with a splash.

Seal taking a look.

Here are the dominate seals on a rock sunning themselves – and making quite a racket when other seals threatened their spot in the sun. We didn’t get very close because they would have hit the water.

Dominate Seals Sunning

A short distance away was a flock of Cormorants sitting on a couple of rocks. As soon as the boat got close they flew away but I was able to get this picture. They have really long wing-spans and are great fishing birds. I understand that in China and Japan, trained Cormorants are used for fishing.


I think this next bird may be a Guillemot which is in the Puffin family. They are sleeker than the gulls and has a wider wing span. They are really beautiful in flight but hard to follow with a camera.

The captain threw out lines so the kids on board could catch some mackerel and when he filleted them, the gulls and guillemots gathered for the castaways. And then we spotted the bald eagle we had seen earlier soaring high above us. This time he was coming closer for a part of the action. What fun tracking him with my camera.

Bald Eagle

Soaring Bald Eagle

This eagle didn’t want to mess around with what was thrown overboard and decided instead to dip into the water and catch his own fish. How exciting to watch – but happened so quickly I couldn’t capture it. But I did get a picture of his fly-away to his nest high on a cliff.

Fresh fish for supper.

When we returned to the bay I was pleasantly tired, very relaxed, and felt great joy. The sun was beginning to set which created a beautiful setting for photographing this hand-made wooden sail boat moored on the dock.

Sun is setting on a day full of adventure.

And I eagerly looked forward to sorting through the 300+ photos I had taken this day. 🙂

Cape Breton Highlands – Cabot Trail

East Shore Cabot Trail

We made it to North Sidney yesterday (Saturday) thinking we would be able to book our passage on the ferry to Newfoundland on Sunday. Well one of the ships is down and they are backed up so we couldn’t book until next Thursday for the overnight sailing. It took us all of 30 seconds to decide that we would adjust our plans because we came to see Newfoundland and everything before and after is icing on the proverbial cake. But we then had to decide what to do to “kill” (my husband’s word) five days. We decided to go south and see the Eastern shore of Nova Scotia but couldn’t find our way out of Sidney – at least not going in the right direction. They have way too many highways coming together and not enough signs and we couldn’t even tell which direction we were going in because it was cloudy. High tension time!

Well we decided to go where the road took us and ended up going north to the Cabot Trail that circles the Cape Breton Highlands – what a good choice. We had originally decided not to do this part of Nova Scotia because we had driven around Cape Breton 30 years ago. Now that we are here we keep saying that we don’t remember this. 🙂

We did get to take a ferry after all, on a 5-minute trip to Cape Breton Island. It is amazing that they run this ferry when all they would need to do is build a short bridge. But the wait is at most 10 minutes.


We are on the eastern shore, really close to the northern tip and will spend today resting and tomorrow we will explore and hopefully go looking for whales – if it stops raining.

This isn’t what I have in mind but this is a skull of a whale. The owner of the campground had a dead whale wash ashore on his beach (had been hit by a ship). Cool – huh.

On the ride up the coast I was bemoaning that the skys were very overcast, gray, and rainy sky and I wasn’t going to be able to take any photos when we happened upon a scenic stop. these (and the lead shot) are the best of my pics.

Come back for more on our adventure in the Maritime Provinces of Canada. If you want to see the Cabot Trail in sunshine, check out the links below.