Well, what a day.... After the serene bliss of a night in a quiet ocean front campsite, we were ill prepared for the drive through Cape Breton and especially Cape Breton highlands national park!!! Absolutely breathtaking, spectacular scenery!! But the roads made it really difficult to truly enjoy the experience, especially at the pace we did it. We had no.idea.what.we.were.in.for..... We had been on these narrow bumpy roads already, in New Brunswick and the scenic route we took the day before...but our drive to Mabou for our lunch at the Rankin family owned Red Shoe Inn was just the start. They are narrow, just the width of our truck, and dips and holes and cracks and bumps like nothing an Albertan has ever experienced. And I have driven many many oilfield roads....the shoulders (which is a hugely generous term) are gravel or non existent all together and the asphalt is about 2-3 inches higher than the "shoulder". Zero margin for error. And when we are bouncing and swaying all over the place....it's just not fun.
Our lunch in Mabou was fun, it's a really cute old restaurant the food was good, but no Rankins bringing us our menus...lol. They weren't even playing their recorded music, but I'm sure the staff would get extremely sick of it.
After lunch we carried on towards the national park, our goal being the north end of CBI. When we got to the park, we seriously debated about camping there. But we were only a bit more than an hour from our destination....according to the lovely gal in the park booth. But what she didn't tell us....we were about to go over top of two very large mountains. Both climbing to about 370 meters, averaging 3-4 km up and down....but at a 13% grade!!!!! Holy.....so not long straight hills....that would be too easy....nope!!! Switch back after switch back after.....Freddie climbed them so valiantly. And I'm so grateful that I had been using and practising with the engine exhaust brake. It was invaluable today. Partnered with the tow/haul mode on the transmission, I had to use the brakes minimally. Which is.....well. Awesome. The views up there in heaven? Pretty spectacular. We only pulled over once. I think I was a bit in shock from it all. And pooped. It was an over achievers nightmare. I did waaaayyyy too much in one day.
So now we're camped...two nights in south harbour. I still have another mountain to climb...and get down. Another two or so hours of windy, narrow shitty shitty roads. And then I'm claiming a prize for my awesome driving skills. Lobster and grand marnier in Baddeck. Yeah me...hopefully.... But this time. I'm going to pull over at the scenic lookouts....get my knees to stop knocking. And savour this incredible view!!!!! Cuz I ain't doin it again.....