Random Thoughts on the way to Cape Breton
1. I am SO THANKFUL for Sirius radio on a road trip. Give me the 60’s on (channel) 6 and I’m a happy, happy, happy guy. Okay, they play the occasional crap song but then I can switch to the 70’s on 7, as long as it’s not disco. Or the 80’s in a pinch, but not so much. Or, almost always, E Street Radio to hear Bruce Springsteen songs I don’t often hear, such as one the other day that was an outtake of Tenth Avenue Freeze Out with different lyrics and without the horn from Clarence Clemons. Very cool. I love Jimmy Buffett but the Margaritaville station plays too much weird stuff and bad live versions of Jimmy’s stuff, I think. While I’m on the subject of radio, I want to make a general point. Somewhere around Antigonish, Nova Scotia I heard the Gladys Knight version of Heard it Through the Grapevine. It was a good song; nice and peppy. Of course, the famous version is from Marvin Gaye: smoky and much slower. And I LOVE the Creedence Clearwater Revival version; all swampy and groove-based and funky and long and heavy and electric from a band from my home town of Oakland, California. I’ll make a bold statement and say that NEVER in popular music history has a song had three such wonderful, wildly different permutations. Okay? I will brook no arguments. I also want to make another point that has nothing to do with travel, and that’s that the San Francisco Bay Area has spawned, or is home to, more great rock and roll/pop music artists than any city, certainly in America. I mean think of this: CCR, Sly and the Family Stone, the Pointer Sisters, the Staple Singers, Huey Lewis and the News, The Grateful Dead, Counting Crows, Green Day, Jefferson Airplane (and later Starship), Tower of Power, the Doobie Brothers and Boz Scaggs. Okay, he’s not from the Bay Area but Neil Young’s been an SF-NorCal type for decades now. And Tony Bennett has been called Mr. San Francisco. So I rest my case. Again.
2. I really like Antigonish. This was the first time I’ve pulled off and check out the campus at St. Francis Xavier, and I really liked it. Very pretty buildings in a compact setting, and the town is cute. On the advice of several locals, I went into X Burger (as in St. FX) for a cheeseburger and fries and thought it was awesome. A great burger, nicely charred around the edges, and really good fries. A great spot in a great little town.
3. I could get used to this Ford Taurus I’m driving. The interior is a bit plastic and space age for my taste. But I love the radio and I’ve never had a car with one of these cameras for when you’re backing up, so that’s cool. I’m always one for putting on my seat belt after a few seconds of driving, but I notice that the Taurus mutes the radio until the seat belt clicks. Bastards.
4. I love signs in smaller towns. In Stewiacke, Nova Scotia, there’s a sign outside town that advertises they’re halfway between the North Pole and the Equator. How cool is that?
5. I didn’t make it on this trip but I also love Wolfville, home to Acadia University. It also has a tiny downtown and is near the water. I’d argue Wolfville has a bit more going on with the wineries and the Acadian culture, but I quite liked Antigonish.