Friday, 22 September 2006

Sunshine on the Atlantic

Sunday 17th September - Glorious sunshine, beautiful day ...
We were once again attacked by jet lag in the middle of the night (for us) and were both wide awake at 6.30 – just too freaky for words!!! With our bedroom window open, all we could hear was the gentle sound of the waves washing up on the shore of Ingonish Beach across the bay and we marvelled at the beauty of the peace and quiet while watching the daylight creep in. We were at breakfast for 8am which I think is a record never before achieved by the Hausmanns! I scoffed down the obligatory pancakes with maple syrup and bacon (SCRUMPTIOUS!!!) and then we decided to get out and explore.

We decided to check out the local beach – Ingonish Beach. What a brilliant decision! It is an absolute treasure of a place. Just a small stretch of sandy beach with only the waves and a few seagulls for company. I think we must have been there for two or three hours and we only saw two other couples. We were really alone on this small patch of paradise and I revelled in paddling in the waves, making words with stones in the sand (Nova Scotia!) and just watching the ocean. If I keep repeating myself, then I apologise now. I just love watching the waves roll in, the white surf bubbling across the sand and the perpetuity of it all. Makes me feel very mortal and also very honoured to have the opportunity to experience it. I really appreciate how lucky I am to have this chance to visit such a wonderful place and have the luxury of time to just sit and enjoy. The feeling of the ocean on my feet and the sand between my toes was something I had been looking forward to more than anything, and at last, here I was. I can honestly say that I WAS IN HEAVEN! Ralph took loads of photos but I just took it all in and savoured the moment.

The weather was totally fantastic, something we tried to make the most of. We drove north along the Cabot Trail which took us along the coast, past picture-book houses, churches, tiny communities and two boat fishing harbours. The sky was the bluest of blues and the ocean was clear and a million shades of blue, grey and green.

We stopped at lookout point Lakies Head and sat on the rocks, staring out to sea – Ireland is the next land you would come to... Makes you feel so small and insignificant – just a speck on the Earth and just a second in a millennia of seconds. The rocks there showed us just how old the planet is and it felt good to get such perspective in just how precious it all is. I am not a rock expert but it makes you realise just how little you do know and made me wish I knew more.

After continuing north for about an hour, we decided to head back south and take one of the scenic routes which would go past – hopefully – small fishing communities where we could take some photos. First of all though, we stopped at Scotch Cove where we stood on the top of a cliff and looked down at a tiny cove right out of pirate movies. The water was crystal clear and shades of blue and green and even though we were maybe 100m above, we could see to the very bottom to the stones and sea plants. I know I am repeating myself, but it is all just so incredible!

We made our last stop of this particular driving tour at White Point which was a tiny fishing harbour surrounded by about 20 or 30 houses. Three small boats and a tiny landing spot was perfect for a few minutes fresh air and photos! The gulls looked at us warily and insisted on moving away (hobbling away as we came nearer), waiting for us to leave so that they could continue with their lunch of crab – bits of which were scattered over the road. The smell was rather pungent, but you could still tell how clean the air was and the slight salty smell in the air was so refreshing.

We headed back to the hotel and had lunch on the terrace overlooking the bay and once again, we found ourselves marvelling at the beauty of the place – something which, at the time of writing - after 5 days here, has not waned whatsoever!

R saw on the map of the park that there were several waterfalls to be visited and decided he would like to make a photo series so we headed over to the first one which is approached by a single lane gravel road. At the Mary Anne Falls, R stripped down to his boxers (!!) and went down to the river bed to get better shots of the water. While this is ok for me, the other visitors who came down to the falls while we were there were a little shocked to find a “large” German in his underwear busy taking photos in the water!!! The falls themselves were very pretty with rather brown murky looking water. But R tells me that the stones on the bed of the river are concentrated with iron which gives the water its distinctive colour. The water is not dirty at all, just the mass of it makes it look pretty brown. Up close, it is still crystal clear and refreshingly cold. I enjoyed the time sitting and watching R enjoy himself with the intricacies of the camera and I think we must have killed nearly two hours there. It amazed me to see how many visitors came along, took a few photos, looked around a minute and then left – is this drive by tourism at force here or do they just not realise how incredible this all is? It made me think...

Realising that the afternoon was drawing in, we went back over to Ingonish Beach (which has since kind of turned into “our place”) and sat a while watching the ocean roll in once more. The tide had come in quite a way by now and the power of the ocean was very clear. Of course, just looking was no challenge for R after a while and he decided that he just had to go in for a swim. Not having any trunks with us, what did he do? Go in with his boxers of course!!!! He was like a child, running in and out of the waves, lying down so that the waves would flow over him, jumping around and generally “frolicking” in the water! The temperature was fresh but surprisingly not too cold and I think it helped to wash out the cold that he had caught from me!

Coming back to the hotel once more, we both went for a swim in the hotel outdoor pool – we had it all to ourselves and it was great to just float in the slightly warm water and look out over the bay – water water everywhere!!! I guess that is what you call making the most of your first day! At the end, we felt like we had already been on holiday for weeks and weeks and this single day had gone on for days....

Again, surprisingly for us, we decided to skip dinner and just sat in the bar, enjoying a cocktail and listening to the local musical entertainment – Rob MacLean. Very gentle music which matches the gentle setting.

All in all – it was a FANTASTIC day!!

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