I was barely 19 and enrolled in
But, yeah, Cape Breton - definite culture shock. Albeit in a good kind of way.
I well recall walking down the street, people walking by and asking "How are you?" while I looked at them literally dumbstruck, wondering "Who are you?". It's not that we weren't friendly out West, it was just that we were a tad more ... reserved. But I soon got use to it and even came to enjoy being called "dear" at least two dozen times a day.
And although the people may have taken some getting use to, I fell in love with the island, itself, within the first few weeks.
I had moved in with a good friend and her parents and within the first few weeks we took a trip around the Trail. The Cabot Trail, that is. It was a long weekend (Labour Day, maybe?) and we took two days, stopping to camp in Cheticamp.
Prairie girl, remember?
One of my brother's favourite (bad) jokes is that he was raised on the Prairies. Where you could watch your dog run away for days. And days. And days.
Whatever. I warned you I thought it was a bad joke.
But with that trip around the Trail, probably around our first (certainly no later than our second) stop to get out of the car and look around, it happened.
I. Fell. In. Love. And fell hard.
The ocean absolutely mesmerized me. Climbing around on the rocks and carrying on was a lot of fun. But I soon discovered that I could easily sit on those rocks and just stare at the ocean. For hours.
And so, it was. I became (at least in my own mind) a Cape Bretoner. Or, at the very least, an honourary one.
I lived in Syndey for three years while I did my undergrad. It was during my last year at UCCB that I met my husband (to be). And although after that I lived in Halifax (another place I love) for three years while in law school and have lived in the Valley for the past 17 years, Cape Breton will always hold a special place in my heart.
And so when, a few years ago, I realized that my own girls have never been around the Cabot Trail (and have rarely been to the Island, for that matter - only once that they can now remember), I decided it was time to do something about that. That a Trip was long overdue - not a trip to Sydney to visit relatives but one where the girls could really experience the Cabot Trail.
And so it is that we leave tomorrow to spend a few weeks in Cape Breton. As it worked out, we will stay in 3 very different places - Dundee Resort (thanks to a very generous gift certificate from a friend) on the Bras D'Or Lakes, the Sea Parrot (on the Island's North Shore) and Inverness Beach Village - which, all in all, pretty well covers off a very large chunk of the Trail (and the Island, for that matter).
And so, it should be fun. We will visit family, lay on the beach, play in the waves, climb some rocks, have a few bonfires and enjoy our beverage(s) of choice.
The Home of my Heart ... Cape Breton.