31Oct2010

Camping Memories on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

Camping Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia I love the luxuries that I have available at my fingertips when I’m in the comfort of my own home.  Meals cooked on the stove.  Laundry done in a washer and dryer. A dishwasher doing my dishes.  A warm, dry bed and clean shower with hot water. However, after a long winter stuck in the house I’m sick of these walls and the luxuries within them!

May 24th weekend arrives. The first long weekend to kick off the summer. Time to break out the camping gear and break the monotony that was the last eight months.

At 29, I’m all grown up and out on my own, which means I have to work to pay my bills. My yearly camping trip must fall into the week-long vacation I take each year in August – along with some mini trips taken on the few long weekends that fall between May and September. Each trip is memorable in it’s own way, but it’s the longer family camping trips of my childhood that are the most unforgettable.

Camping Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

From as far back as I remember, Broad Cove campground in the Highlands National Park on Cape Breton Island, Canada. This was my second home for two months of the year. Every July, my family loaded the car with the bare essentials and embarked on the three-hour trek to the mountains. Over Seal Island Bridge, around Kelly’s Mountain, across St. Anne’s Bay on a small car ferry, and finally, the last leg of the journey over Cape Smokey Mountain.

Camp was set up immediately upon arrival; the picnic table was set for our first meal without anything but an open fire and plastic dishes and utensils. My parents felt that one way to get us kids to grow to appreciate nature and the simple things in life was to show us that life can still be enjoyable while roughing it. As long as we had each other, a fire over which to cook our meals and roast marshmallows, the ocean a couple of hundred meters away, a sky lit by millions of stars and a quietness unknown in the city, we would be fine.

Camping Disasters

In fact, we were better than fine. Even when things went wrong, it was still fine. I have my fair share of memories of camping disasters on Cape Breton Island. Waking up in a flooded tent after a torrential downpour.  Thunder that was so loud that when the sound reverberated off the mountains it sounded like the world was going to end. Lightning strikes that came so close at times, we had to jump into the car in our pajamas and drive away from it for fear of being struck. Then there was the time I happened to glance up from my towel where I lay sunning on the beach to see a giant freak wave  heading straight for us.  The aftermath: half of our belongings floated out to sea and what didn’t was scattered across the beach! Or the time I came face-to-face with a wild animal near the bushes behind the wash house. A cougar? A bear? A coyote? Who knows! I ran too fast to stick around and find out! And I’ll never forget the summer when I decided to take a dip in an unfamiliar lake and ended up with swimmer’s itch. For the next two weeks, it looked like I had the chicken pox! But I took all of these things as adventures and learning experiences that I can now look back on and laugh.

Camping Highlights

There are good memories too.  Some of the best times in my life happened camping in that Broad Cove park. Meeting new friends from all over the world. Watching a pod of humpback whales feeding on Capelin only meters from shore. Laying under a blanket on the beach while the most spectacular meteor shower I’ve ever witnessed took place overhead. Happening across a huge moose trying to take a drink from a stream as a young and playful red fox ran under and around him! Jumping 60 feet off a cliff into a shark infested lagoon. Campfire gatherings that didn’t clue up until the wee hours of the morning. Eating marshmallows until we were sick to our stomachs! Hiking to the top of  Broad Cove Mountain.  Swimming at Mary Anne Falls. My only regret? Not taking enough pictures!

The Good Times are Gone but not Forgotten

Then came the end of August and although it always seemed like we just got there, the end of summer was upon us and it was time to head back home to reality and prepare for another long, hard winter.

Those days may be long gone, but the memories will never be forgotten. I’ve carried the tradition with me to my new home away from home and new life and new friends and someday I’ll have kids of my own and I’ll have a hand in creating memorable camping experiences and I’ll teach them about the simple way of life.

Author: A. Maceachern

Edited By: CampTrip.com

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