Almost six hours of driving and I finally arrive at Auld’s Cove. I pull into the Irvin station to fuel up and take a washroom break. I notice a large crowd of people in the parking lot. Some have binoculars others are just staring up into the sky. The distinct sound of a helicopter closing in makes me look. There is always a chopper in the air near Canadian Forces Base Gagetown in New Brunswick, where I currently live. However, it is not as common here and a low flying helicopter with a piece of a communications tower suspended from a cable, being lowered into place, is worth gawking at. I scramble for my camera but I have miss the moment, so I just watch it unfold. I am sure it will be a topic of conversation, I will to be part of, while I am home for a visit.
The chopper retreats for another section of tower and I turn back onto the highway, but my drive is quickly interrupted. Just past the weight scale there is a line of vehicles parked at the shoulder. If people are parked here it only means one thing; There are whales at the causeway.
I wouldn’t miss the action this time. There are at least fifteen Bald Eagles swooping and gliding in a circle. I pull on my coat and sling my camera strap over my head. The wind is cool and the fetch across the strait is causing small waves to break against the rock wall of the Canso Causeway; the man-made link connecting mainland Nova Scotia to Cape Breton Island.
I ask the couple beside me, that are taking pictures from their car window. “Have you seen any whales? The lady replies, “mostly eagles so far” but she has seen photos on Facebook, others have taken of Cormorant, Gulls, Gannets, Dolphins, Seals, Leather Back turtles, Pilot and Humpback whales. The man in the driver’s seat leans forward to see me around his passenger and says, “the Bill Fish are in”.
They ask me where I am from. I say ” here, but I live elsewhere” I continue “I am home for a week to visit family and friends and with some luck, I will have some adventures.” No sooner do I say the words and a whale crests the surface and dives. This is a great start. I get a split second to snap a photo and I am fortunate to capture his back and have it in focus. Not a great shot, but I will take it.
The raw wind has made my hands cold, so I retreat to the truck. While reviewing my photos, I am surprised to see there are graves on the hill in front of the Balache Point Lighthouse next to the causeway. I have never noticed them before. I decide to stop and investigate them further and hopefully the island side will give more shelter from the wind.
I am in luck today, a boat is about to entering the lock so I turn into the driveway just before the bridge and park then walk back to the middle of the bridge to get a picture of it entering..
This boat is transiting from the Northumberland side and it gives me time to check out the lighthouse graves and the shoreline.
I climb the path over the rocks and get a video of the swam of fish.
A gull stands ready, keeping a sharp eye on the fish for an opportunity to pluck one from the water.
I talk with a professional photographer hunkered down among the rocks. We introduce ourselves, her name is Mandy. I speak with another gentlemen visiting from India. We are all in bliss at the show of wildlife. The whale blows a spray of water, he is too far out for my camera, but I am happy to see him all the same. The boat has cleared the locks and I have time to film the closing of the bridge.
The gates rise and I am free to come a shore. The Welcome to Cape Breton sign has changed slightly, but it still has an emotional effect on me. Ask anyone from the island, returning from away, they will tell you the same thing. It is a beacon stating you are home, and there is no where else like it.
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Please join me for Cape Breton- Part 2-A Tourist at Home as I look around
Happy Travels from Maritime Mac