Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Ceilidh Trail

 Patty's Place: The Traveler's Special for me, the BIG Breakfast for John

After a sumptuous breakfast at Patty's Place Restaurant in Hillsborough, my brother and I continued southeast and crossed into Nova Scotia at about noon. We followed the trans-Canada highway and reached the Canso Causeway, crossing into Cape Breton and taking the longer, more scenic Ceilidh Trail along the island's north/west coast.

 The Canso Causeway

The Ceilidh Trail is a part of the Cabot Trail named for the numerous Celtic singers, dancers, fiddlers, pipers, and other musicians who live along its length. Ranking high among them is the Rankin family. Five of the Twelve Rankin children formed a highly successful musical group that recorded and performed together for ten years, Unfortunately, tragedy struck the family: Elder brother John was killed in a traffic accident several years ago, and middle sister Raylene recently succumbed to cancer.

The Rankins sing, dance, and play at Neil's Cove

Four of the Rankin sisters opened a pub, the Red Shoe, in their home village of Mabou. My brother and I stopped there at about 3:00 for a late lunch. John had local mussels and a glass of wine, while I opted for chili with andouille sausage and the locally brewed Red Shoe ale. We enjoyed our food immensely, but found ourself wishing it was later in the day when the ceilidh begins.

 In front of the Red Shoe Pub in Mabou

Leaving the pub, we continued along past majestic coastal scenery and the promise of a spectacular sunset.

  Looking back along the Cabot Trail

We passed the quaint village of Cheticamp, the site of John's previous Cape Breton whale watching expedition. The Cabot Trail provides frequent overlook areas for photographers, so we stopped at one as the sun was getting low in the sky.

 We had turned northeastward into Cape Breton National Park by the time the sun had set. We reached our lodging, the Maven Gypsy Inn, well after dark and with 19 miles of range left in the gas tank. The range readout would continue to be a matter of concern for the remainder of the week, as my brother likes to gamble--especially when it's my turn to pay.