I first heard of Cape Breton when fiddle player Natalie MacMaster performed in my Central California town.
On her website, she talked about the deep Celtic music and dance tradition on this rugged Nova Scotia island. I was pleased when I realized we could fit in a visit on this trip.
Wow did it not disappoint. Lee and I were blown away by the wild, untamed beauty. It reminded me a bit of Big Sur in the way it was awe-inspiring.
We were unfortunately unhappy with our accommodations. We had booked an equipped camping site in Cape Breton Highlands National Park but canceled when we saw that we were right next to our neighbors with zero privacy. Plus it was much worse than what we had for the same price at an equipped campsite in Kouchibouguac National Park- much smaller tent, no cots, no bug screen over the picnic table. Once again we see that accommodations and prices are all over the map. We ended up in a nice motel cottage with a kitchen in Cape North.
The boys and I had a much better experience visiting Gampo Abbey, a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Pleasant Bay, an hour from our cottage.
This place is famous for being the home base of author/teacher Pema Chodron, who has been on Oprah and led workshops around the world. She wasn’t there during our visit.
I took a tour of the Abbey from a Romanian monk who was staying for a year. He and some others there were temporary monks. Others have taken life vows.
The boys and I later hiked a beautiful wooded trail to the Stupa of Enlightenment which is dedicated to world peace. Then we looked at the spectacular views of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.