Chéticamp, Cape Breton Island – A moose in the snow

Storm! The cabin sways from the left to the right; we have to pay attention not to become seasick. Via Canso Causeway dam we go to Cape Breton Island. Speed limits in Canada are sometimes pretty optimistic. In most cases the respective maximum speed tells you how fast you really can go. We curve on a hilly narrow road that is eaten by frost and halfway washed away by rain. The 80 km/h seems to be quite a bit exaggerated.

Another special feature is the repeated question for the mileage, how many miles the car can go with one gallon diesel (or gas). You should be prepared to answer. The elder generation grew up with the English measuring system; the younger one already learned the metric units. To our confusion all measures are mixed up. In one package carrots are two US pounds, but the content is declared – correctly – with 908 g. You buy diesel in litres, but a bottle beer contains 341 ml.

The west coast of Cape Breton Island looks Irish. Smooth hills, rough coast. With the storm waves break against the rocks; spray squirts up to the road that is 50 m higher. In Cape Breton Highlands National Park we get an annual ticket for all National Parks and Historic Sites, that’s cheaper than paying entrance fee every time. Equipped with information material and rules of conduct for bear, coyote and moose encounters we go to the highlands. At 500 m height we are in the middle of the clouds and thick snowflakes fall with 3°C. At the side of the road there is still snow. Thanks to the introduction at the info centre we are prepared: Our first moose! It trots across the road – moose love roads for any reason as we were told – and jogs into the undergrowth. There it waits; the big vehicle seems a bit creepy. As our compressed-air break bleeds, it startles, rears, and gallops away.  At least we got some photos.

Just a couple of days ago a woman was attacked and killed by a horde of coyotes on one of the local hiking trails. She was jogging with ear plugs, so probably she didn’t notice the animals and provoked them with her “flight behaviour”. Nevertheless we go without hiking; the weather isn’t that nice anyway.

We leave the national park und go to the north cape of the island. In Clapstick we knock on Melvin’s door and ask him if we might stay for the night on his meadow. We can. Melvin has been welding pipelines in Alaska and seems to have a more relaxed life now. He gives us a sign that he had made but did not find its way to Watson Lake in Alaska. Most travellers nail their number plates or placename signs to there. We promise to fix it when we will pass by there.  

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