Being Thankful

Today is Canadian Thanksgiving Monday.  In Mexico, there is no equivalent to this holiday, and back in the day, we kids would only know of the American holiday, in November, from American Football specials, and comics and cartoons, such as “Peanuts” or “Archie”.  In the past, I have mentioned that shortly after arriving in Canada from Mexico as a graduate student, I experienced my first Thanksgiving Day, and that it promptly became my favourite holiday, because it is all about sharing, and there are no exchanges of material gifts involved. 

I feel very grateful once again, this year in particular because in spite of the terrible destruction caused by Hurricane Fiona in the Caribbean, and in Eastern Canada, over the last week of September, there were relatively few human casualties, no doubt in great part thanks to local and federal organizations giving timely warnings to the public before and after the storm passed.  One of my daughters is currently working from the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, which was subjected to the fury of Fiona.  My husband and I were planning a trip to visit her this fall; we were trying to figure out what to do with our dear dog, since he is close to 14 years old and now blind, and our younger daughter saved the day and offered to look after him.  After that issue was solved (thank you, sweetie!) we had already bought our plane tickets to Halifax (capital city) for the Monday right after the hurricane; because both my husband and my daughter in Halifax had also booked their time off from work, we decided that, if the airport was open, we were going, even just to give our daughter some moral support in the aftermath.   The airport was closed on Saturday, and partially re-opened on Sunday, so by Monday, our flight was scheduled to arrive on time.  That night, it felt very eerie to get our rental car and drive through almost complete darkness from the airport to our daughter’s place; we found a gas station that was open, so we got some bottled water and a few snacks.  When we arrived at our daughter’s place, the street was blocked on one side by fallen power lines, so we had to go around the block to access the driveway.  She had been without power for three days by then, and the landlady had said that we could expect it to continue well into the weekend.  The next morning (Tuesday), we could appreciate in daylight the many tree branches pulled to the sidewalks, and the power line that was still down (photo below, left).  Power in our block was actually (and thankfully) restored the next day (Wednesday), although that particular power line was down until it finally got cleared on Sunday (photo below, right):

The rapid colour change and fall of leaves may also be admired in the photos above, considering that only a few days elapsed between the two images.

We followed the news closely; at first, authorities asked people to stay in and not travel to still-affected areas, unless strictly necessary.  Some communities just a couple of hours from Halifax, such as New Glasgow and Pictou, got the worst damage, along with the North-eastern part of the province, on Cape Breton Island.   We had planned to go to the island, so we cancelled our hotel bookings and instead, did day trips towards the South-western side of the province (more on that in my next posts).  On Friday, we heard that the west side of the main roads in Cape Breton Island had been cleared and re-opened, although the National Park trails were all closed; we called the hotel and they confirmed that they had steady power and would gladly take us back, so we decided to go after all, even for just one night.  On Saturday, our drive there was safe, although we did see a lot of tree damage, and a landslide by one side of the road:

We also spotted a young black bear making its way across the highway:

004 highway bear

The view of Pleasant Bay from a high point was breath-taking on that cloudy afternoon.  The photo below does not entirely capture how amazing the scenery really is: 

005 Pleasant Bay

Our hotel “The Mountain View Motel and Cottages” (23659 Cabot Trail Rd., Pleasant Bay, Cape Breton Island, NS) was fully operational, and welcomed not only us, but several other families and parties.  It is a typical old-fashioned motel, where you park your car outside the room; basic, but clean and conveniently located.  The view from our room proved that their name is not an overstatement:

We were very close to the coast, so we made our way to the beach on foot (driving is definitely safer and more recommended):

For dinner, we drove to “The Rusty Anchor” (23197 Cabot Trail, Pleasant Bay, NS):

They have a lovely patio with a view of the bay, but it was too windy, so we ate indoors.  The mussels were sold out, but their oysters were indeed fresh as can be, and very tasty as an appetizer:

We all had the pan-fried haddock dinner, which came with mashed potatoes, coleslaw, vegetables and tartar sauce:

We made a futile attempt to see the sun drop behind the mountains, but its evening rays filtering through the thick clouds were an awesome view to wrap up our busy day (see photo at the top of this post).  The four-and-a-half-hour drive from Halifax had been all worth it.

The next morning (Sunday), we started our journey back, again filled with astounding views of the mountains and coastline:

011 on the Cabot Trail

We managed to make a couple of stops along the way (we really did not want to leave Cape Breton, such a beautiful island!)  First stop, Chéticamp, and lunch at “Wabo’s” (15279 Cabot Trail, Chéticamp, NS).  According to their website, Wabo’s has been the local pizza joint of choice since 1993; they have a good selection on the menu, including gluten-free crust, and also are famous for their Donair, the classic Maritime wrap filled with meat cooked in a vertical rotating grill, tomatoes, onions, and a unique sweet creamy sauce:

The lady at Wabo’s told me that they weathered the storm fine, and even though the winds blew tree branches and other objects (including small structures such as a shed, as seen below), they were very fortunate to experience only a few hours of power outages.  I paid in cash and was glad to support a local business, especially so soon after the hurricane.

The second stop was at Inverness, named after the Scottish city; it was originally established as a coal mining community, and today it thrives as a “golfer’s dream destination”, as described in Nova Scotia’s official website:

015 Inverness NS

Their boardwalk and sand dunes are an amazing experience, too:

As we were crossing to mainland (photos below), I could not help but feel a little sad about the devastation from the hurricane, but so grateful for the opportunity to have seen my daughter and a little of the wonders of Cape Breton, and to be able to support the local businesses.

Have a Safe and Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!


The Government of Canada has launched a collaboration with the Canadian Red Cross, in which they will match any donations made until October 23, 2022 (click here to go to their website).

Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands are also in need of support, as well as victims of Hurricanes Ian and Julia; to donate, visit https://www.redcross.org/.  There are already campaigns to promote tourism for 2023, to help these regions recover.  Consider also supporting Quebec and The Maritimes (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador) when planning your vacation next year. 


© All photos taken by my daughter, or by me.

15 thoughts on “Being Thankful

  1. Wonderful to enjoy your photo journaling here, Irene. This is the first hearing of the storms in other places than FL. Glad your daughter is OK and you and your husband were able to reach her and spend time with her ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ThAnksgiving greetings, Irene. So good you were able to make the trip to see your daughter and that the storm devastation seemed more superficial that serious. The photos make it clear that it is a beautiful area – I do hope to go there someday.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Eilene. It was so nice to see my daughter, she needed some cheering up. I could not believe how beautiful it was in Nova Scotia, I hope too, that you can see it sometime.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I hadn’t realized Hurricane Fiona had gone that far north. It’s lucky not many people were hurt but it looks like quite a few trees took a hit. Sounds like you had a wonderful time with your daughter and had yummy food at the local businesses (who I’m sure appreciated people coming out so soon after the Hurricane). The lighthouse is cute! The sunset is gorgeous. Sounds like great people and lovely places. That little lighthouse on the table — was that a pepper mill?
    Great to read your writing again. Sorry it’s been so long. I’ve a lot to catch up on so it’ll be fun for me.

    Like

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