I’ve been looking at the map of Nova Scotia, and we’re staying in a little town right in the center of Cape Breton Island.  Baddeck is on the western shore of the upper arm of Bras d’Or Lake.  (While I know this means Arm of Gold, all I can picture in my head is that gigantic gold push up bra Wonder Woman wears.  Either that or I want to call it Brass Door Lake, just because I can.  Ugly American.)

We picked Baddeck because it allows us to take day trips to both sides of the island.  The Cabot Trail is to our west, and we will spend at least one day riding that and touring Cape Breton Highlands National Park.  There’s not a lot going on up there, but we’ll pack a lunch and just go see the sea.   There are all sorts of little side roads that lead to isolated fishing villages, and we’ll probably take at least one of those detours.  From what I can tell, what roads do turn inland only go so far as the lake with the best fishing.

To the east is the rest of the Bras d’Or Lake, a saltwater lake system which accounts for about ten percent of the area of the island. The towns of Glace Bay and New Waterford are located on the northernmost coast of the island, while Sydney is located on one of the inner harbors.  There are a few other villages and small towns and hundreds of lakes, on this side of the island.  Fortress Louisbourg is located here facing generally southeast overlooking the Atlantic.

I know that these are some of the places we’ll be going on the second half of our trip, so there will be much more to talk about.

For some frame of reference, Cape Breton Island is further south than London, England.  As Americans, we tend to think of Canada as some frozen wasteland, but really that’s all based on geographic location.   Being surrounded by the ocean helps to moderate the climate, making it rainier and warmer in the winter, and rainier and cooler in the summer than further inland.

It’s weird that the island has two distinct types of geography. The southern half of the island looks like it’s been carved by glacier activity filled with pothole lakes and the long slender lakes that indicate receding ice mass.  (Mind you, I know ridiculously little about land formation and geology/geography I’m just telling you what it looks like to me.  Efforts to find some sort of background data results in Rodinia or Pangea references which are a little too far in the background for what I was looking for.) The northern half, on the other hand, seems more like, you know, land.  There’s a greater change in elevation and seems to be more farmable land.   The divide is the main Bras d’Or Lake.

I wonder if there’s the whole us versus them culture on the island.  Do the people who live off the land in the northern portion of the island have issues with the people who live on the southern half and appear to be primarily maritime based?  If I go and ask stupid questions is anyone going to smack me upside the head?  Will there be anyone I can ask stupid questions?  Is there an annual Lumberjack v. Fisherman football game? (There’s a soccer match I’d pay to see.)  Will having answers to my stupid questions make any difference?  Is this a stupid question?

I’m sure I’ll come up with more fun facts and questions that will make this seem more like summer school and less like a road trip as time goes on.