Tuesday, August 5, 2008

July 30, 31, Aug 1: Friends old and new; Feasts here and there

Mike and I spent three wonderful days off the bike enjoying the "down home" hospitality of Jan, Alan, and friends at Big Bras d'Or. Mark arrived on Wed, July 30, and left on Friday Aug 1, and so had two days off to take in the feasts and fun at the cabin on Bras d'Or. We were so pleased to see Jan and Alan, they made us feel completely at home. They also made sure we were wined and dined in Cape Breton style.

I already mentioned the fab lobster chowder on Tuesday evening, but our first evening with Mark at the cabin featured a hickory smoked turkey (ok - Mark didn't have the turkey, but there were lots of other delicacies to sample). The irrepressible Bobbie Nagle joined us for that feast, as did Lynn and Louise, the dynamos of delight from North Sidney. Bobbie is famous for knowing just about every Broadway show tune going, while Lynne and Louise are formidable hikers, and know lots about hiking in Newfoundland.

Our second evening featured another feast. This time it was a feed of mussels and chantrelle mushrooms (picked by Mark, from a cliff below the cabin) up at Bobbie's house. Lynn and Louise joined us for that get together as well. The third evening was a scallop and pesto dinner. Scallops were courtesy of Bobbie. Alan's sister Kathleen and her husband John drove up from Halifax and were there in plenty of time for dinner. Kathleen is a force of nature and one of the only people who can stop Alan in his tracks with just a look (well, Jan can do it too). Visiting from Toronto was Alan's nephew Michael along with his partner Alice. Everyone was gathered for the long weekend, and to help Alan bury cousin Ted's ashes in the St. James churchyard down the road. So, the feast was also a bit of a wake for Ted.

Lest anyone think all we did was eat and drink (although it did snow food and rain drink), let me assure you we did get some exercise in too. On Wed Mike, Alan, Jan and I did the Dalem powerwalk and swim (a 7 km hike to Dalem lake). Later that day Mark and I visited the Alexander Graham Bell museum. On Thursday we all did a classic Cape Breton hike at Lighthouse Point, across the bay from the reconstructed fort of Louisbourg. Our hike was in the Louisbourg National Historic Area, and had us walk through the area where the English off-loaded and set up artillery to shell the fort.

On Friday Mark left for the ferry, while Mike and I did bike chores and helped Jan and Alan get the cabin ship-shape for the upcoming weekend. Of course, we took a salt-water dip every day in the Big Bras d'Or channel, just below the cabin.

We packed a lot into a few short days. It was so wonderful to see Jan and Alan at the cabin. The place really is a Shangri La. It was such a treat to share the experience with them and all their family and friends. Thank you so much Alan and Jan! See you soon in Victoria.


ps: check out their blog at leotaj.blogspot.com

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