In my younger days, I use to explore the roads around Cape Breton on my motorcycle. Yes, I was one of those guys who wore boots, a leather jacket and yes.... when the weather was a tad cool, leather chaps and leather gloves. When I was bored I would jump on my bike and take one of two short runs that I found very interesting and relaxing. One route would be through Southbar, New Waterford, Glace Bay Sydney and then home. The other and more tranquil route would be doing the St. Ann's Loop. The St. Ann's loop would take about 1.5 hours and worth every minute. Today with a little side trip, time was about 2.5 hours (without lunch). Great for an evening run I thought, so out went an email.
Two others showed up at the Bras D'or View Restaurant, Lee and Don. We waited until the five o'clock departure time but there was no others to come along, so away we went. It was a tad overcast but still 20 degrees, A jacket wasn't necessary, just yet. Across the bridge and over the mountain... (click here)
Turning off at the bottom of kelly's Mountain, one of the first things you notice is the smooth road, you got to love it. I told the guys to turn off their radios and just listen to the hum of their engines as this is a great drive with some very nice scenery. This route has some very nice twists and turns in the roads, from high on hill tops to skirting along the shoreline. The first of a series of sharp turns is just in front of the Gaelic Collage.
Again, Great roads. How inviting does the road before us look?
Now, when traveling the Cabot Trail, the St. Ann's route is the actual trail. I can never say anything against this route, it is very nice but I prefer the Englishtown Ferry route. The ferry gives you that... something just a little different. On two occasions, while traveling the trail with guests from out of town, I mentioned the ferry. Neither, in searching the Cabot Trail route on the map realized that there was a ferry. Both thought it was a very nice touch at the end of the trail.
Driving along many of the roads in Cape Breton, you will notice the many Bilingual signs. No not French and English But Gaelic and English. The provincial government announced in May 2004 the funding of an initiative to support the language and its culture within the province, however Gaelic holds no official status under federal, provincial, or municipal law. But, as in Scotland, bilingual street signs also are in place in areas of Northern Eastern Nova Scotia and in Cape Breton. The Bilingual sign does reflect a proud heritage and it is quite unique but.... try and pronounce it.
Ah yes, the side trip. I do try and make each run interesting and it's not to difficult to do as Cape Breton does offer up so much to see and do. Sometimes, when traveling with a larger group, some are more interested in different things and your stops may not be so popular. Today, I think I have planned... a stop that would please everyone, but as it turned out, there were only two others to enjoy this stop at The Glass Artisans Studio and Gallery . Check it out. Heck, how could you pass this place seeing the statue in front.
The statue deserved a second and closer look. The statue depicts a glass blower. Could this place have such a studio where you can see glass masterpieces being made? Lets check it out shall we.
Oh my god! Again with great BCCCB timing we arrived just in time to watch Curtis Dionne, the glass artist begin is work making a vase. There is a little patio in front of the work shop for spectators to watch these magicians at work and you can feel the heat being emitted from the furnace, I couldn't imagine what it must be like inside the shop.
At this point the artist removed the hot glass from the 1200 Degree furnace and opens the door to (best described) hot box where other colored glass is and attaches a piece to the molten glass. He then rolls the color into the molten glass for the colored swirl effect.
Here the artist shows a spectator what he just did, blending the color in. Next, sitting in a chair where rolls the long metal tube on runners and forms the glass into a ball all the time while blowing into a tube that runs air down through the metal tube into the glass expanding it. While he does this the sweat is running down the Artist's face.
Total concentration here as the glass is heated to the point where it resembles cold molasses. The artist continues to spin the glass to keep it from drooping. As it cools (from white to red) it becomes easier to handle yet it will droop if your concentration lapses for a second. The spinning continues.
The next couple of areas were so amazing I forgot to take pictures. The vase is now flat and formed and in the first pic above, the molten base is attached to the vase. Now for elongating the neck and expanding the opening. Just amazing stuff. The vase in then placed in the hot box so it won't cool to fast causing the contracting to break this work of art.
These pictures doesn't do the Glass Artisan Studio Justice. Think about this.... Buying something special for someone special. You see it as a molten piece of glass and it is formed into something beautiful. A gift to be chariest for a lifetime.
There are plenty of glass displays around the grounds, from what looks like an octopus's garden in the shade, (the scrub blocked out his head), to glass and steel wind jacks, (a word from my Newfoundland heritage). Inside the gallery all is for sale and it was one of those shops where your hands are at your sides in fears of elbowing something. You'll have to go look for yourselves..... simply beautiful.
Time to head home. I did mention how I prefer the ferry route at Englishtown, it's just something different on your travels. There is however one small pitfall... the wait. We were lucky, we got the third boat, the wait only being a half hour, not to bad. I did see, on a time or two, where I turned around and took the St. Ann's route due to extreme line ups... today we were lucky. And once again, in the line of great BCCCB timing, we arrived and lined up to be the last three vehicles on the boat. I swear, we are blessed. Lets have a look at my in car DVR to see Lee and I going on the Englishtown Ferry. (click here) or off the ferry (click here)
Over Kellys Mountain once more and over the Seal Island Bridge towards one last stop before home... The Cedar House Restaurant. A great meal and some great entertainment to cap off a perfect day. The drive, the stop at the Glass Artisan and a treat at the Cedar House took a total of 3.5 hours. Once again, these cars and club and yes of course the people, created a very fun, short and interesting run and you know how it goes. If you weren't there you missed it. Come along next time.