Sunday, September 1, 2013

Day 46: Bad Day in Baddeck

Yesterday afternoon, when the scene was so heavenly on the wharf at Baddeck, my enjoyment was quickened by my fear that it might be the one and only sun break of our stay here, since the weather forecast I had seen that morning predicted rain for the next few days. My fear was warranted. Today the sky was heavy and opaque and it rained randomly. I took this photo from the car because the wind was blowing so hard.

Lake Bras d'Or in heavy weather
Nothing is sadder than a resort in the rain. All our plans called for outdoor exploring. What to do? Any museums around?

Yes! The Alexander Graham Bell Museum is located here, because the great inventor built his family's vacation home on a point opposite the Baddeck Harbour; in fact, his family still holds and uses that property. 

Bell was born in Scotland and immigrated to Canada with his family, coming to the Scotch country. His father Melville was an expert on the science of speech. Alexander applied his theory to the teaching of speech to the deaf with great success. He was invited to Boston to teach the deaf, and he began experiments that led to the telephone during that period. 

After his success with the telephone, Bell continued to quest for other new inventions. In this quest, he was like Leonardo da Vinci or Buckminster Fuller, in that none of his plans were actually that practicable, but they staked out directions for other inventors. Living in a windy place, he got interested in kites, and developed his own based on the tetrahedron. He thought kites might work for manned flight. He and a group of young technicians developed a flying machine independently of the Wright Brothers—and a few years later. All of its test flights were successful, but the design was klutzy and steering was awkward. He developed an early propeller-driven hydrofoil boat, a very ungainly tube-shaped craft, but he got it working. He lost financing for this project when World War I came to an end. 

That was way more than I really wanted to know about Alexander Graham Bell. The museum had quite a few visitors. I imagine that most of its patronage is due to bad weather. 

We had lunch in Baddeck at the Bell Buoy Restaurant. The food was light and fresh and thoughtfully prepared. I don't have a lot of experience with shellfish, but I decided to do the local thing and have a lobster sandwich. It was served not on a roll, but on home-made oat bread, very light; it complemented the fresh lobster very well. Dan had a great pile of local mussels; they were good. He has tried just about all the local seafood now. Breaking with my usual dietary austerity, I shared with Dan the homemade blueberry pie with homemade ice cream. What a treat! The crust was thin and flaky, the blueberries were sweet and mild, the ice cream was light and fluffy. The waitress confirmed that they made the ice cream in-house as well as the pie.

Thus energized, and with the sky lightening, we took the Cabot Trail highway north toward Ingonish Beach, the eastern entrance to Cape Breton Park. The highway goes along the edge of North River, and the glimpses we caught between houses were beautiful, even though the colors all tended toward gray. We drove as far as the North River Bridge, but by then the rain was hard enough to make driving dangerous, so we turned around. 

On the way back, we stopped for a latte at the Lobster Galley in the tiny town of 
South Haven on St. Anne's Harbour. Lobster Galley is located right at the end of a long arm of water and our table had a wonderful view of the scene. We spotted ducks and grebes diving for food. If only there had been some sun to bring out the true colors.