Archive for Nova Scotia

I’m here, I made it!!

Day 148: September 9 – Sydney to North Sydney

Daily Distance = 22.58km, Trip Total = 5,865.41km

I woke up at a reasonable hour, had breakfast, dropped off the rental car and packed up.  Packing is much quicker without all the camping gear!  I had a short jaunt from Sydney to North Sydney, for the most part taking rte 305 (except a quick detour on to hwy 125 where a bridge on rte 305 was under construction).  There was a decent cross wind today and I am already noticing the difference of not having my front panniers on the bike from the perspective of less weight (climbing hills has become easier) and the wind resistance (I’m not being buffeted by the wind as much as I was before and now have better control of the bike).  Note to self – for the next adventure, try to avoid using front panniers if possible.

Looking back on Sydney

Looking back on Sydney

The quiet road between Sydney and North Sydney

The quiet road between Sydney and North Sydney

En route between Sydney and North Sydney

En route between Sydney and North Sydney

Getting closer to North Sydney and I think that might be the tail end of my ship!

Getting closer to North Sydney and I think that might be the tail end of my ship!

I made it into North Sydney shortly after noon so I decided to walk the last couple of kilometres and give Dash a chance to stretch her legs before the long ferry crossing.  At the local Tim Horton’s I changed from my cycling clothes to my everyday clothes and re-arranged my gear so I had what I would need for the ferry ride.  Shortly after 1pm I rolled up to the ferry and began the process of waiting.  I didn’t actually have to be at the ferry ’till 3pm for a 5pm departure, so in hindsight I should have hung out in town until 3pm and then headed over.  I was expecting that I could check in, leave my bike and gear somewhere safe in the ferry terminal and then stroll around town handsfree but that wasn’t the case.  As I was the only cyclist in line I had a fair amount of people drop by and ask about my trip or come over and want to say hi to Dash so the time passed relatively quickly.

The ferry from North Sydney to Argentia

The ferry from North Sydney to Argentia

Shortly after 4pm we began loading the ferry and I got to roll on first in line with the motorcyclists.  I quickly went to work fastening my bike to a rail with some rope and then taking Dash up to the 10th deck where I had reserved a kennel space for her.

I spent the first hour of our ferry ride watching as we pulled away from land.  It takes a while to pass by the Cape Breton Mountains along the cabot trail, so it was a nice view to watch float past.  After about an hour of this, I headed down to the 7th deck for the buffet dinner.  Given I didn’t have lunch today, I was starving!  After dinner I headed back outside to watch the sunset over the water.  By now I feel like I know half the people on the ship through conversations started around Dash or over my bike trip so there was no shortage of company!  After the sun had fully set I headed into the brightly color chaired lounge area and joined a group of folks around my age (given most kids are back in school the ferry had mostly adults and was not by any measure full – I’m sure in the summer months it is a different environment).  We spent the next several hours chatting and playing cards.  Emilie is from Quebec and heading to St. John’s for a year to teach french.  Bruce and Jason are friends who grew up in Newfoundland, so they were giving Emilie and I advice on things to do and see.  Around midnight we did a quick check on our dogs and then headed to the movie theatre where we each claimed our own row of seats to sleep.  There are cabins available for rent on the ship, but at $170 + tax I had previously decided to forego this luxury (that $$ was better spent changing two previous camping nights into hotel nights!).

Pulling away from North Sydney

Pulling away from North Sydney

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North Sydney

North Sydney

 

Trail left in the water from the ferry

Trail left in the water from the ferry

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Excuse my hair - it was windy!

Excuse my hair – it was windy!

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Passing by the mountains along the Cabot Trail

Passing by the mountains along the Cabot Trail

Sun is about to set

Thoroughly enjoyed watching the changing colour of the sky at sea

This bird was enjoying the view too I think!

This bird was enjoying the view too I think!

Sun is getting ready to set

Sun is getting ready to set

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Sun is now set

Sun is now set

The lounge area where we played cards most of the night

The lounge area where we played cards most of the night

My sleeping quarters for the night on the ferry

My sleeping quarters for the night on the ferry

And Dash's sleeping quarters (the little brown kennel at the bottom)

And Dash’s sleeping quarters (the little brown kennel at the bottom)

 

Day 149: September 10 – Argentia to Holyrood

Daily Distance = 88.26km, Trip Total = 5,953.67km

I woke up around 8:30am proving yet again that after a summer of cycling I can sleep quite comfortably just about anywhere!  After calming my original panic that the boat had already docked and I was the only one left on the ship, I was both relieved and disappointed to find out that we wouldn’t be docking until 10am.  I had thought that the crossing was around 14-16hrs, so expected to be docking sometime between 7 and 9am (I guess 7:30 and 9:30 with the 1/2hr time change).  On the other hand, this gave me just the perfect amount of time to check on Dash, eat (buffet style breakfast) and then go out on deck to watch as we ported in Argentia.

My first glimpse of Newfoundland from the ferry

My first glimpse of Newfoundland from the ferry

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Some boats at dock in Argentia

Some boats at dock in Argentia

I had been hearing recently that Newfoundland hilly.  The first sightings from the ferry seemed to support this observation.

I had been hearing recently that Newfoundland hilly. The first sightings from the ferry seemed to support this observation.

From a town perspective there doesn’t seem to be much in Argentia.  It sounds like much of the original town was required to relocate in 1940 when this particular area of land was leased to the US and made into a US naval base.

Some info about the history of a military background in Newfoundland

Some info about the history of a military background in Newfoundland

After gathering Dash from the kennel I headed down to my bike and was I happy that I had roped it up, because it had a pretty good lean on and would have fallen if not for the rope.  Once I got off the ferry I pulled over on the side of the road near the ‘welcome to Newfoundland and Labrador’ sign to re-arrange my stuff and let Dash walk around a bit.  I was hoping for a washroom facility to change, but didn’t see one in the area we disembarked.  So I simply waited for all the ferry traffic to clear and did a very quick roadside change.  It was close to 11am by the time I was on the road.

My final province!!!

My final province!!!

Getting past the now-closed naval base, the scenery is quite spectacular with very jagged hills jutting up from the land with trees, rocks, ponds and streams everywhere you look.  I was gawking at the scenery so much I almost missed the visitor centre a few kilometres up the road.  This would have been a much better place to change, but at the very least I could use the washroom facilities.

The hill that greeted me off the ferry in Argentia

The hill that greeted me off the ferry in Argentia

And the view from the top of the hill

And the view from the top of the hill

Back on the road I really couldn’t stop looking around.  Thankfully there is a shoulder on rte 100 and relatively little traffic, so plenty of opportunity to soak in the views.  For the first 5km or so I had a pretty wicked cross wind, but as the road bent and started heading NE I had a ridiculous tailwind!  I think mother nature was giving me a bit of a break after the torture she put me through this spring in the prairies!!  The next 40km sailed by.  It was hilly but I barely felt it and all because of the wind.  There were times that I was in my granny gears pushing up a hill when a gust of wind would catch me and make my pedalling useless for a couple seconds.  So when climbing my only goal was to make sure I maintained forward momentum in between wind gusts.  On flats and downhills I simply had to keep the bike upright.  Now THIS is what all biking should be! :)

Along route 100

Along route 100

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This is near a small town called Dunville

This is near a small town called Dunville

Dunville

Dunville

Looking down the river near Dunville

Looking down the river near Dunville

Continuing along route 100

Continuing along route 100

I was slightly disappointed to see no moose in Newfoundland

I was slightly disappointed to see no moose in Newfoundland

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The scenery at the top of the climb along route 100

The scenery at the top of the climb along route 100

P1050130P1050131Around the 45km mark I met up with the Trans Canada Hwy 1 and my direction changed to East for about 10km and then SE for about 20km, meaning I had a bit of a crosswind.  This stretch brought me back to reality as I had to once again work for the kilometres, but I was still happy it wasn’t a headwind and extra happy I had ditched the extra gear in Sydney.  Just before 80km I had reached the rte 90 turnoff which was a quieter road and headed NE into Holyrood.  Holyrood is a cute little town located at the bottom of conception bay and is apparently known for the large cross that is on top of George Cove mountain (I can’t speak to how well known the cross is, but it certainly is visible).

Trans Canada Highway 1 we meet again, after a couple months apart since the prairies!

Trans Canada Highway 1 we meet again, after a couple months apart since the prairies!

Along TransCanada Hwy 1 - I wasn't done with the hills for the day

Along TransCanada Hwy 1 – I wasn’t done with the hills for the day

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Most provinces have exits for towns.  Newfoundland has exits for ponds.

Most provinces have exits for towns. Newfoundland has exits for ponds.

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The cross on top of George Grove mountain in Holyrood

The cross on top of George Cove mountain in Holyrood

Boardwalk in Holyrood

Boardwalk in Holyrood

Looking out on conception bay from Holyrood

Looking out on conception bay from Holyrood

I arrived at my destination around 5pm, which in large part was due to the wind, I was pretty happy because of the mileage and late start I was worried it was going to be a late night.  After getting settled into the basement apartment (I was living large with a separate living area, kitchen area, bedroom area and bathroom), I headed down the road about a km to pick up some food for breakfast (egg salad sandwich and an apple).  Then I cooked up dinner – my last dehydrated meal for this trip and was in bed by 10pm.

Day 150: September 11 – Holyrood to St. John’s

Daily Distance = 48.59km, Trip Total = 6,002.26km

After my egg salad sandwich and apple I packed up my bike and trailer and headed outside.  For the first time on this entire trip Dash did NOT bound after me when she saw me take the bike and trailer outside.  In fact, she was buried under the covers in the bedroom pretty much as far away from the bike as she could possibly be.  Even when I called her she didn’t come, I had to go find her and physically carry her out to the trailer.  After 5 months on the road I think she is ready to get back home!  To be honest – I’m looking forward to coming home too, but I also still have a day’s ride ahead of me and I am looking forward to a couple days of exploring St. John’s.

I was on the road by about 10 eager to both savour my last day’s ride and also get to the destination I have slowly been inching and crawling to for so many months!  Most of the day was spent on rte 60 which heads NE along the bay and then east towards St. John’s.  I was expecting this to be a relatively quiet country road, but the area is dotted with houses and little towns along the way, so it was actually busier than I anticipated.  I really expected traffic to get lighter when we reached the area where Hwy 2 starts, this I would assume is a quicker way into the city, however I didn’t really notice any decrease in traffic.  Eventually the road did become two lanes in each direction which relaxed the ride for me as vehicles had another lane to move over to in order to get around me.

Overlooking conception bay

Conception Bay

A creek along the way

A creek along the way

Conception Bay

Conception Bay

Today’s terrain continued to be hilly and the wind was not nearly as strong as yesterday, so it was my own leg power that was getting me up and over the hills today.  Heading into the St. John’s city limits I stopped to take a picture of the sign.  I haven’t taken pictures of many of the city or town signs along the way (kept it more to the province crossings), but this one seemed monumental even though it was a basic green and white sign.

My last glimpse of Conception Bay, onwards and upwards to the Atlantic!!

My last glimpse of Conception Bay, onwards and upwards to the Atlantic!!

I don't know the story behind  why Mount Pearl is dysfunctional, just thought the sign was funny

I don’t know the story behind why Mount Pearl is dysfunctional, just thought the sign was funny

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St. John's!

St. John’s!

After taking the picture I continued on my hilly way to 1 water street.  This is the very spot that Terry Fox dipped his leg in the atlantic and started his cross Canada trek in 1980.  There is a monument here with a larger than life statue of Terry with one of his quotes inscribed “I just wish people would realize that anything’s possible if you try; dreams are made if people try”.  There is also a Mile Zero plague.  It’s official, with some modifications, I have self propelled myself just over 6,000km from the mile zero sign on the pacific coast to the mile zero sign on the atlantic coast.  I’VE BIKED ACROSS CANADA!  I’m not as eloquent as Terry, so my thoughts at this moment are more along the lines of: “holy crap, I made it!  I actually made it!  This is freakin AWESOME!!!”  I was quickly brought back to reality when a trio of folks came by and told me to ‘move your bike ‘cuz it’s in the way of our picture’.  Not exactly the greeting I was hoping for.  I moved my bike, they took their picture and continued on their way.  A few minutes later two ladies came by and curious about my bike asked where I was headed to or where I came from.  After I explained the trip they congratulated me and said we need to do something to celebrate.  I asked if they could take my picture which they kindly did (on my camera and theirs).  They are from Vancouver and on a 17 day cruise that started in Europe, went to Greenland and are now on the finishing stretches in Canada.  It sounds like they had a couple rough days at seas but they shrugged if off saying what can you expect on the north atlantic ocean.  Much happier travellers than the trio that had just dropped by!

The fenced off Atlantic ocean at the Terry Fox monument in St. John's

The fenced off Atlantic ocean at the Terry Fox monument in St. John’s

"I just wish people would realize

“I just wish people would realize that anything’s possible if you try; dreams are made if people try”

The moment I've been dreaming of and partly not sure that I was going to make!

The moment I’ve been dreaming of and partly not sure that I was going to make!

The Mile 0 Terry Fox monument in St. John's

The Mile 0 Terry Fox monument in St. John’s

And proof that Dash and I were there!

And proof that Dash and I were there!

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Looking out from the monument

Looking out from the monument

I'm here, I made it!!!

I’m here, I made it!!!

IMG_0383I spent about an hour at this monument simply soaking the moment in.  I did snap a quick picture on my iphone and emailed it to my family – partly as evidence, but more so to share the experience.  Unfortunately access to the Atlantic is fenced off in this entire area, so I wasn’t able to dip my tire in the Atlantic as I had on the Pacific.  At some point in that hour it sprinkled for a few minutes, seemed fitting to have a little bit of rain on my last ride day in the maritimes!

Eventually I pulled myself away from the monument and set my sights on the hotel about 4km away.  As I started pushing my bike up the hill just a couple hundred metres from mile zero a car pulled over and who should step out?  Emilie from the ferry!!  She was driving around getting herself oriented with her new home town when she saw Dash’s green trailer and had to pull over to say hi.  We chatted for a bit and then headed our separate ways.

I arrived at the hotel around 3:30pm and had a very mellow afternoon of doing nothing.

I’m here, I made it!!

Tan lines

Tan lines

The legs that self propelled me, Dash and over 100 lbs of gear over 6,000km

The legs that self propelled me, Dash and over 100 lbs of gear over 6,000km :)

 

Thank You:

Now I owe a whole whack of thank you’s as this trip would not have been as smooth or successful if it was all left up to just my devices:

1) To my friends and family – for your complete and unending support and encouragement.  Your emails, texts, calls, comments on facebook and the blog have been with me for every single pedal stroke across this country – I know it might have looked like I was alone on the road, but I really wasn’t because I knew everybody back home was supporting me.  I can’t thank you enough for this.  Also – thank you for letting me talk and ramble endlessly for the past several months about nothing other than cycling!

2) To all those who waved, honked, fist pumped or gave a thumbs up as they past me on the road – every time a smile would come across my face, I would remember how lucky I am to spend my summer doing something I enjoy and it would make my legs pedal just that tiny bit faster.

3) To those I have had the opportunity to stop and chat with for a bit – your enthusiasm over this trip and/or Dash, your thoughts and wishes, your helpful pieces of advice about the road ahead or things to check out in the area and meals or rides offered were always appreciated (even if not always taken).  The kindness and thoughtfulness of the people I have met along the way has been incredibly refreshing.

4) To the land of Canada – part of this experience for me was not just to say I’ve biked across Canada but also to see and explore this great country I was born and raised in.  From the mountains, lakes, prairie grasses, rivers and forests the scenery has made for an amazing summer playground.  I feel as tho the topography of this land will be forever etched in my brain now that I have had the chance to travel across the majority of the country using nothing but a bike, my own legs and a lot of sweat, blood and tears (minus the blood and tears, but I made up for those with sweat!).

5) To my bike and trailer – for not having any breakdowns that I (or duct tape) couldn’t fix.

6) To Dash – for providing me a companion on this journey.  It was pure selfishness that made me want to bring her along and she has handled the journey far better than I could ever imagine or have asked for.

7) To the wildlife – it was great seeing you along the way (moose, bald eagles, whales, wolf, elk, etc), it was even better not being attacked by any of you!

8) To fellow cross Canada tourers, the ones I had the chance to meet on the road and the ones I only read of through blogs or heard of through the locals – you gave me tidbits on the terrain and road conditions ahead, a sense of calm knowing that I wasn’t the only one struggling with prairie winds and comfort knowing that I wasn’t the only one crazy enough to tackle such a journey!  In particular I found the following site www.bikingacrosscanada.ca a useful resource as it has links to blogs of other cross canada tourers.

Coal Mine & Cabot Trail Tour

Day 145: September 6 – Sydney 

My morning was spent lazing about.  In the afternoon I picked up a rental car and headed to the post office with all the gear I no longer need.  It seems odd to ship stuff home when I only have a couple days of cycling left but I hear Newfoundland is hilly and with less weight on the bike I’m hoping I have a better chance of pedalling more and walking less.  It’ll also be less to worry about when packing for the airport – with a bike, trailer, dog, remaining gear and only 2 hands I already have more than I can handle!  Besides, I was only going to ship the gear home if the price was right.  At $50 to send home my tent and the 2 front panniers full of stuff (mostly camping specific gear) the price was most certainly right.  The lady at the post office was super nice.  She was very concerned that my gear wasn’t locked and that it would be easy for somebody to open and snoop inside.  I figured the smell would be enough to deter any would be thieves, but she wasn’t satisfied with this rationale.  She dug up some plastic bags, put my gear in the plastic bags and then taped them up from top to bottom.  While she was taping the bags I couldn’t help but look around the post office at the red banner running along the top walls with the names of different towns and cities across Canada and realize that I now recognize a vast majority of those towns as I have rolled through them this summer!

After the post office I drove the 20km east to the Cape Breton Miners Museum in Glace Bay.  This was a Kaye recommendation, so I was looking forward to checking it out.  The museum has an exhibit area which was interesting, but the real highlight is the tour.  All tours are conducted by previous coal miners, so they bring a very personal touch to the tour.  My tour guide was Abbie, a 75 year old who spent 54 years of his life working in the coal mines.  His dad, grandfather, uncles and cousins were all coal miners as well.  The tour was about an hour long and we got to walk underground in a very small section of a previous mine.  All 50 coal mines on Cape Breton are now closed, the last one closed in 2001.  The population in the area has been decreasing as workers seek employment out west (sounds like most head to Alberta).  As a tour guide Abbie was fantastic, showing and explaining all the ‘factual’ information while adding some humour and his own personal stories he experienced first hand or stories that have been passed down to him from his father and grandfather.  Just like the underground tunnel tours in Moose Jaw, it shocks me how poorly some people in Canada were treated in recent history.

Entrance to the coal mine

Entrance to the coal mine

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Our guide in the coal mine: Abbie

Our guide in the coal mine: Abbie

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Can you imagine this being your work environment?

Can you imagine this being your work environment?

Coal

Coal

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An example of a pit pony

An example of a pit pony

Abbie demonstrating how they would start digging a new section of the mine

Abbie demonstrating how he and his partner (in most cases his dad) would setup a workstation to dig coal

To bring a little light into the miner's day one gentleman started a garden

To bring a little light into the miner’s day one gentleman started a garden

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The Cage (how the miner's got into the mine)

The Cage (how the miner’s got into the mine)

Thanks for the solid recommendation Kaye!  When I dreamed and planned this trip I didn’t realize what an educational experience it would be for me!

Day 146: September 7 – Cabot Trail

Leaving my bike at the hotel in Sydney, I headed west in the rental car and started my journey around the Cabot Trail.  I decided to head counter clockwise around the trail.  There wasn’t any logic for this, just started driving and that’s the direction I ended up heading.  I pulled over at Franey Trail and decided to go for a hike up the mountain.  The Franey trail is a 7.4km loop that starts at an elevation of 95m and ascends to 430m to a spectacular view of the ocean on one side and a canyon on the other side.  The climb up was certainly a steep one and took me about an hour.  I was impressed to find just how good my legs were feeling though.  I felt none of that soreness or aches that I felt in my quads when hiking on the west coast.  In fact, my calves felt almost spring like and when the climb wasn’t too steep I even managed a little hop, skip and jump.  Dash had absolutely no problem with the climb and when we got to the top a couple other groups that were soaking in the view commented somewhat surprised that such a small dog could climb all that way!  The hike down was more windy and gradual.

My first view of the Cabot Trail

My first view of the Cabot Trail

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Dash intrigued by another car ferry ride

Dash intrigued by another car ferry ride

View along the east side of the Cabot Trail

View along the east side of the Cabot Trail

Dash taking in the view

Dash taking in the view

Heading up the Franey Trail

Heading up the Franey Trail

And up, and up, and up

And up, and up, and up

Almost at the top

Almost at the top

Almost...

Almost…

Tada!  The highest point of the Franey Trail, and what's this?  A muskoka chair to relax in

Tada! The highest point of the Franey Trail, and what’s this? A muskoka chair to relax in

Water view from the top

Water view from the top

And another

And another

And another

And another

One last water view from the top of Franey Trail

One last water view from the top of Franey Trail

A selfie on the muskoka chair

A selfie on the muskoka chair

Me and Dash!

Me and Dash!

And the mountain side view form the top of Franey Trail

And the mountain side view form the top of Franey Trail

One with Dash and I in the frame

One with Dash and I in the frame

Heading down the trail

Heading down the trail

Notice the nicely groomed ATV trail - much easier for walking down then the trail up!

Notice the nicely groomed ATV trail – much easier for walking down then the trail up!

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A water stream along the way

A stream along the way

Some quick facts on the Franey Trail

Some quick facts on the Franey Trail

After a few hours on the trail I got back in the car and headed to Pleasant Bay (being about half way around the trail, this was my destination for the night), stopping at different lookout points along the way.  There are a lot of lookout points, definitely no shortage of place to pull over and take a look around at the magnificent views.

One of the many pull over spots along the Cabot Trail (this was still on the east side)

One of the many pull over spots along the Cabot Trail (this was still on the east side)

Lobster traps

Lobster traps

Fishing boat

Fishing boat

Small town along the cabot trail

Small town along the cabot trail

A valley along the northern end of the Cabot Trail

A valley along the northern side of the Cabot Trail

A shieling - would provide shelter for scottish farmers and often some of their livestock

A shieling – would provide shelter for scottish farmers and often some of their livestock

I was sound asleep by 9pm.

Day 147: September 8 – Cabot Trail

Continuing along the Cabot Trail I think it took me about 2 hrs to drive the 43km from Pleasant Bay to Cheticamp.  There were just soooo many lookout points and the scenery was always changing so I felt I had to stop at almost every lookout point to absorb my surroundings.  I’ll post lots of pics here when I get back to Toronto.  This was my favourite stretch of road along the cabot trail.

The motel's backdrop in Pleasant Bay

The motel’s backdrop in Pleasant Bay

Pleasant Bay

Pleasant Bay

Where I had a seafood platter the previous night

Where I had a seafood platter the previous night

Now on the west side of the cabot trail

Now on the west side of the cabot trail

MacKenzie River Valley

MacKenzie River Valley

Another pic of MacKenzie River Valley.  Notice that the mountains all appear to plateau (no peaks), this is because the hard rock that forms these mountains do no succumb to erosion easily

Another pic of MacKenzie River Valley. Notice that the mountains all appear to plateau (no peaks), this is because the rock that forms these mountains do no succumb to erosion

A pond at the top of one of the mountains

A pond at the top of one of the mountains

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Dash was not inclined to come outside when it started raining

Dash was not inclined to come outside when it started raining

West side of the Cabot Trail (between Pleasant Bay and Cheticamp)

West side of the Cabot Trail (between Pleasant Bay and Cheticamp)

If dogs could talk I think Dash would have some choice words with me for bringing her out into the rain! lol!

If dogs could talk I think Dash would have some choice words with me for bringing her out into the rain! lol!

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Looking at the rock formations

Looking at the rock formations

And closer up

And closer up

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Colorful coastal homes

Colorful coastal homes

P1050024P1050025From Cheticamp I headed to Baddeck and spent a couple hours exploring the Alexander Graham Bell museum.  He and his wife had a vacation home in Baddeck where Alexander Graham Bell toiled with many of his other inventions (beyond the telephone).  In fact, the first Canadian powered flight took place in Feb. 2009 over the frozen Bras d’Or Lake with the ‘Silver Dart’ aircraft that was built by a team which included Bell.

By the Alexander Graham Bell museum, overlooking Bras d'Or Lake

By the Alexander Graham Bell museum, overlooking Bras d’Or Lake

Why the Bell's chose to make Baddeck, NS their vacation home

Why the Bell’s chose to make Baddeck, NS their vacation home

Alexander Graham Bell toyed with many inventions one being a flying bike

Alexander Graham Bell toyed with many inventions one being a flying bike

This quote spoke to me

This quote spoke to me

The Road Less Travelled

Day 139: August 31 – Amherst to Seafoam

Daily Distance = 115.03km, Trip Total = 5,544.93km

I knew today was going to be a long ride because of the lack of campgrounds along my chosen route, so I had the best of intentions of getting on the road by 8:30 at the latest.  Although I woke up plenty early, I was slow moving and didn’t leave the hotel ’till 9:30.

I had done some research last night on the different route options between Amherst and New Glasgow.  Originally my intention was to take the Trans Canada (hwy 104), but having driven it on my little road trip the past couple days I wasn’t particularly thrilled about the lack of shoulder in spots and the speed of traffic.  Although I’m sure it would have been perfectly safe given there were two lanes in each direction and traffic would have been able to move around me, it just didn’t seem like it was going to be a relaxed bike ride.  So I decided instead to head along hwy 6 which appeared on the maps to be a quieter road.  It had the added bonus of being near the water and we’ve already established how much I am drawn to water.  Although hwy 6 did not have a shoulder, traffic was pretty quiet and incredibly good about moving over for me.  Apparently Nova Scotia has a ‘1 metre rule’ – meaning cars are to give cyclists a 1 metre berth when passing.  It’s clear not everybody is aware of this rule (or chooses to abide by it), but I found on the country roads the vast majority of motorists do follow the 1 metre rule.

Heading East on why 6 from Amherst (the sunrise trail)

Heading East on why 6 from Amherst (the sunrise trail)

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Farmland along the way

Farmland along the way

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A hint of water in the background

A hint of water in the background

Horse riding facility along hwy 6

Horse riding facility along hwy 6

Because of my late departure this morning, the amount of ground that I needed to cover and the hilly terrain (not steep hills, just constant rolling hills) I didn’t take many breaks.  However I did have one pleasant break along the water while I watched a couple kayakers head out for a paddle.  As well as a break in front of a grocery store while I wolfed down a chicken sandwich.

First break spot of the day

First break spot of the day

Watching some kite surfers

Watching some kite surfers

Just enjoying the view

Just enjoying the view

Back on the road, passing by a mill town

Back on the road, passing by a mill town

Haven't seen a blue heron for a while

Haven’t seen a blue heron for a while

A little nervous about those hills in the distance...

A little nervous about those hills in the distance…

Cows!

Cows!

A quick pit stop along the sunrise trail

A quick pit stop along the sunrise trail

Uh-oh - I'm actually going in the direction of those hills now...

Uh-oh – I’m actually going in the direction of those hills now…

And they appear to be getting closer...

And they appear to be getting closer…

Passing through Tatamagouche

Passing through Tatamagouche

…and closer...

…and closer…

Oh good, the hills are out of view now.  Let's not think of them!

Oh good, the hills are out of view now. Let’s not think of them!

When I arrived at the campground at 7pm (this is a late arrival for me), the lady told me they didn’t have any tent sites available.  When I told her that I was on a bicycle she asked where I had come from today.  As soon as I said Amherst suddenly a site became available.  I was more surprised to find when I got to the 6 tent sites in the campground that only 3 were actually taken.  Odd. I quickly setup camp, showered, and cooked dinner just before darkness set.  Shortly after sunset there was a firework display, I took Dash for a stroll around the campground and I was out like a light!

Dinner in the dark

Dinner in the dark

The reflectors on my tent and bike have come in handy when wandering at night (not that this has happened often)

The reflectors on my tent and bike have come in handy when wandering at night (not that this has happened often)

 

Day 140: September 1 – Seafoam to New Glasgow

Daily Distance = 39.43km, Trip Total = 5,584.36km

The forecast today was rain.  And a lot of it.  So I was glad I had covered a lot of ground yesterday and had relatively little to cover today.  I was also glad that although it did rain overnight, it stopped just long enough in the morning for me to pack up camp.  As I rolled out of camp it started to pour.  I had to laugh, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect – better for it to start raining when I’m on the bike then when I’m trying to setup or take down camp.  Turns out that stint of rain only lasted about 10 minutes and I actually enjoyed a rain free ride for a couple hours.  I did however get greeted with a constant wall of rain for the last 8km of the ride.

A lavender farm

A lavender farm (apparently there was a spot of rain on my camera lens)

I really do enjoy riding on these quiet country roads

I really do enjoy riding on these quiet country roads

Not sure what kind of factory this was

Not sure what kind of factory this was

Entering a causeway just north of Pictou

Entering a causeway just north of Pictou

The view to the East from the causeway

The view to the East from the causeway

And the view to the West

And the view to the West

And me at the end of the causeway

And me at the end of the causeway

As for the ride itself – the hills started getting bigger (2-3km climbs vs short rolling hills), but the grade was not as steep, I prefer these lesser grade hills even if they are a longer climb!  Near Pictou I turned on to 106 and was surprised to find just how busy this road was.  Hwy 106 leads to the ferry to PEI, so I kindof suspected the traffic to ebb and flow with the ferry crossings, which was approx every two hours.  How wrong I was.  The traffic seemed constant.  On the plus, for the most part there was a paved shoulder.  A couple kilometre’s from my destination I turned on to Hwy 104 and was not entirely surprised to see that the paved shoulder was almost non-existent.  Given the heavy rain and reduced visibility at this point (several cars were even putting on their 4 ways) I opted to cycle on the gravel shoulder.  What a good day to only have to ride 40km!  I reached my destination by 1pm and quickly checked in and started hanging all my stuff in the room to dry.

It doesn't look like much, but trust me, this hill stretched on for a couple km's

It doesn’t look like much, but trust me, this hill stretched on for a couple km’s

Another steady climb

Another steady climb

The afternoon was spent researching route options for the next four days.  After the past two days ride I’ve solidified my decision to take the quiet country roads wherever reasonably possible.

Day 141: September 2 – New Glasgow to Antigonish

Daily Distance = 61.70km, Trip Total = 5,646.06km

As I headed into the downtown core of New Glasgow I noticed a secondary language on the signs.  What is this?  Gaelic!

New Glasgow

New Glasgow

Downtown New Glasgow

Downtown New Glasgow

English and Gaelic signs

English and Gaelic signs

Old why 4 just outside of New Glasgow

Old why 4 just outside of New Glasgow

I trucked out of New Glasgow (after a brief convo with a local) on hwy 4.  Around 15km hwy 4 merged with hwy 104 (the trans canada).  Or so I thought.  I hopped on to hwy 104 and went down a decent sized hill and then began an uphill climb when I noticed two things: 1) a passing lane opened up and with that the paved shoulder was non-existent and 2) there was in fact a road to my right, it looked like 4 actually ran parallel to 104 for a little stretch.

Why am I on the busy road?!?!

I had no desire to climb back up the hill I just went down to meet back up with hwy 4, so I eyed up the huge ditch between the two roads and decided it was something I could push my cargo across.  A few minutes later I was once again on my nice quiet country road.  Awwwwww.

Overpass over TransCanada 104

Overpass over TransCanada 104

This sign should have been my first indication that old hwy 4 continued and I didn't have to get on 104, I must not have been paying attention at the time...

This sign should have been my first indication that old hwy 4 continued and I didn’t have to get on 104, I must not have been paying attention at the time…

Instead I got on 104 and decided to take this ditch down to the old hwy 4

Instead I got on 104 and decided to take this ditch down to the old hwy 4

Today’s scenery was wonderful.  Forested, hilly terrain with the occasional small area cleared out providing a nice view of the surrounding hills.  I haven’t quite pinpointed why, but the forest here is so much more scenic than the forested ride through New Brunswick.  The majority of the first 40km were spent gradually climbing with short, quick drops and the last 20km were spent mostly coasting into the town of Antigonish.  Mother nature treated me to about a 2hr mist in the middle of today’s ride that was great for keeping me cool while chugging up the hills.

What much of today looked like - so relaxing, huh?

What much of today looked like – so relaxing, huh?

A perfect break spot

A perfect break spot

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It may look like I'm grimacing, but that's just exertion.  It was hilly today!

It may look like I’m grimacing, but that’s just exertion. It was hilly today!

I’m not entirely sure when this happened – maybe 2 or 3 weeks ago, but I’ve found that I’ve stopped listening to my music when riding.  Perhaps it was done subconsciously to allow me to better hear the approach of potential wildlife?  Perhaps.  But I think it is so I can better absorb my surroundings.  My music now is the sound of birds chirping, the occasional scamper of a critter in the ditch scurrying off into the woods when they hear my bike, the soothing sound of water as I glide by a small creek or waterfall hidden in the forest, the sound of my wheels rolling along pavement and the slightly increasing creaks and groans of my bike and Dash’s trailer.

One of the rippling streams that accented my backdrop today

One of the rippling streams that accented my backdrop today

Looking ahead at what's to come

Looking ahead at what’s to come

Another break spot

Another break spot

Dash waiting patiently at the door.  Perhaps she thinks the ride is done for the day??

Dash waiting patiently at the door. Perhaps she thinks the ride is done for the day??

P1040759Around the 40km mark hwy 4 merged up with the busier hwy 104, I had no choice but to take this road for about 5km.  Shortly after I pulled onto hwy 104 I noticed that distant spec in my mirror!  Another tourer!  When he caught up to me I was surprised to find that he was also hauling a dog in a trailer!  A 50lb golden retriever no less!  His name is Jason and was heading from Montreal to St. John’s.  It was difficult to talk because of the noise of the traffic and we couldn’t ride side by side given the width of our trailers, so after a few minutes of trying to chat we parted ways.

Another tourer, WITH A DOG!!!

Another tourer, WITH A DOG!!!

Our trailers were too wide for us to ride side by side on this busy road

Our trailers were too wide for us to ride side by side on this busy road

The other tourer pulling away from me

The other tourer pulling away from me

P1040763When I arrived in Antigonish I cleaned up and went for a little stroll around town.  Given it was labour day Monday and Antigonish is a small university town (St. Frances Xavier University), the town was alive with students back for another year at school.

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Downtown Antigonish

Looking back at St. Francis Xavier University

Downtown Antigonish

Downtown Antigonish

A memorial to the Scottish heritage of Nova Scotia

A memorial to the Scottish heritage of Nova Scotia

Another tiring day for Dash!

Another tiring day for Dash!

 

 

Day 142: September 3 – Antigonish to Port Hawkesbury

Daily Distance = 61.98km, Trip Total = 5,708.04km

I left the hotel early today, around 9am because they were calling for both headwinds and rain to increase throughout the day.  I made a quick stop at the Tall and Small Cafe and picked up a cookie as a treat (thanks Danielle for the recommendation!).

I spent the first stretch on hwy 104 where I was quickly past by a couple.  As they past me the lady hollered out ‘are you almost done your trip too?  Heading to St. John’s?’, I quickly hollered back ‘yup’ and they were speeding off.

Fellow trans canada tourists

Fellow trans canada tourists

I was expecting to find the hwy 4 turnoff around the 18km mark, according to my iPhone hwy 4 is also referred to as the Sunrise Trail in this area, so when I saw a sign for the Sunrise Trail I was quick to take the road without double-checking my location on the iphone maps app.  When I first turned on to the road I was a bit surprised that it headed slightly NW, given my primary direction today was to be east.  But then it corrected slightly and just headed north.  I thought I would ride for a little bit and see whether it started to veer east.  After about a kilometre of heading due north I pulled over and consulted with my phone.  Turns out I took an exit a couple hundred metres too early.  However this road would eventually head east and meet up with hwy 4.  I was already one kilometre in so I decided to just go with it and was graced with some nice water views.  And I think every single car that past me waved – so friendly!

A small church along my self imposed unexpected detour

A small church along my self imposed unexpected detour

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Water views off the beaten path

Water views off the beaten path

More water views

More water views

Back on the 'planned' route!

Back on the ‘planned’ route!

Passing by a blueberry farm

Passing by a blueberry farm

Old hwy 4

Old hwy 4

I eventually got to the Canso Causeway which links Cape Breton to the mainland.  With the 50km/hr crosswind that wanted to constantly drift me in to traffic this was not a particularly enjoyable crossing.  Nor was the kilometre climb on the other side of the causeway along 104 that had no paved shoulder and even though traffic had a passing lane with nobody in the left hand lane, they would continue to whiz by me down the middle of the right hand lane.  Urgh!  A plea to motorists – when a cyclist is contending with a hill, rain, no shoulder, a strong head or cross wind and are loaded down with 100+ lbs of gear and you are in your nice cozy car with two lanes at your disposable can you just move over???  Although the cyclist is doing their darnest to not drift into traffic those are a lot of variable that are not working in the cyclists favour.  Ok – that will hopefully be my only motorist rant.  Needless to say, I was happy to be off the road and at my destination shortly after crossing the Canso Causeway.

My first glimpse of Cape Breton Island

My first glimpse of Cape Breton Island

And another - looks hilly!

And another – looks hilly!

Altho I had hills to get to the Island as well...

Altho I had hills to get to the Island as well…

Meeting a friend

Meeting a friend

Crossing the Canso Causeway was not a particularly pleasant experience on a bike

Crossing the Canso Causeway was not a particularly pleasant experience on a bike

Shortly after pulling into my hotel I spotted a tourer across the street.  I gave a big wave and he came over to chat a bit.  He is from Montreal, biked from Montreal did a loop around the cabot trail and is now on his way back to home – he still has a bit of ground to cover!  I won’t be the last tourer on the Canadian roads this summer!

I have to give a quick shout out to Carolyn at Ship2Shore for scheduling my flight home (and registering Dash on said flight).  Thanks for looking after this for me Carolyn!  Hard to believe, but it is time to start thinking of returning home!

Day 143: September 4 – Port Hawkesbury to St. Peter’s

Daily Distance = 50.17km, Trip Total = 5,758.21km

When I stepped into the hotel breakfast room this morning I was surprised to see the couple who had passed me on the road earlier in the day yesterday!  The lady was chatting up another couple about their cycling adventure across Canada this summer.

As I got on the road, I knew I would be on the same road I wasn’t entirely pleased with yesterday afternoon for about 5km, at which point hwy 4 and 104 once again split.  Oddly enough ALL the traffic this morning generously moved into the left hand passing lane for me.  Not sure what was different this morning vs yesterday afternoon, but I’ll take it!  While on this road, I crossed Jason (the guy with the 50lb dog), he said he has decided to take the newer route along 105 on the north side of Bras d’Or Lake.  I wished him safe travels as I headed for the south side of Bras d’Or Lake a large salt water inland sea.

It’s a good thing I have a new found appreciation for hills, ‘cuz it was another hilly one today.  But the grades were manageable and it was a pleasant ride.  It was another rainy day and about half way into the ride a fairly heavy fog set in.  The relatively light traffic didn’t seem to have any problem seeing all my fluorescent gear.  However the fog did hinder my ability to gawk at the scenery around me – hopefully I didn’t miss much!

A little foggy in the distance

A little foggy in the distance

The fog is a little closer

The fog is a little closer

And closer still

And closer still

Foggiest part of the whole trip!  Can you pick out the oncoming headlights?

Foggiest part of the whole trip! Can you pick out the oncoming headlights?

I arrived in St. Peter’s shortly after 2pm to the now familiar faces of the couple from breakfast.  They were staying at the same inn as me.  This was a very small 8 unit inn and we were the only patrons, however the rooms were very spacious and well taken care of.  After checking in and noticing that I had a fridge I headed over to the grocery store to pick up some fruit, veggies, yogurt and chocolate milk for an afternoon snack and breakfast tomorrow.  By the time I got back from picking up the groceries I was surprised to find that the power was out.  I put everything in the fridge anyway hoping the power would come back on and some of it would be salvageable.  Because it was still relatively early in the day I headed out for a walk along the canal and Battery Provincial Park.  Around 10:30 the power came back, so my groceries would not go to waste!

Dash meeting a fellow canine

Dash meeting a fellow canine

Canal in St. Peter's

Canal in St. Peter’s

St. Peter's Canal

St. Peter’s Canal

Info on the lock in St. Peter's

Info on the lock in St. Peter’s

St. Peter's canal and lock

St. Peter’s canal and lock

 

Day 144: September 5 – St. Peter’s to Sydney

Daily Distance = 84.62km, Trip Total = 5,842.83km

The forecast was calling for sun today.  For a while at least.  The rain wasn’t expected to start until the afternoon.  And winds (headwinds) were supposed to pick up during the day as well.  So I had a target of getting on the road by 9am and I actually made that target!

It was another hilly day (are you noticing the Nova Scotia trend? – hills and rain!), but unfortunately for me today the grade of several of the hills got that little bit steeper so I did a decent amount of walking today.  All the more to take in the scenery around me, right?  Scenic views they were too, as today I spent the majority of the day cycling along the southern coast of Bras d’Or Lake which at times had nice level sandy beaches and at other times had cliffs on the waters edge.

Given the views today I was happy to be out of yesterday's fog

Given the views today I was happy to be out of yesterday’s fog

Still hilly today

Still hilly today

Looking out at Bras d'Or Lake

Looking out at Bras d’Or Lake

Traffic today was a bit busier than the previous days along hwy 4, as hwy 104 no longer exists, but I found it to still be a safe ride.  The first 20km the road was a bit rough with pot holes and then there was a 5km stretch of construction (which was actually nice ‘cuz it slows down what traffic there is) and the rest of the road was quite pleasant.  It looks like this road has likely been re-paved and slightly widened in the somewhat recent past.  There is not a paved shoulder but the road is wide enough that 2 cars and a cyclist can all pass at once, although I found when this situation did occur the vehicle behind me would slow down and wait until the coast was clear – which I appreciated.

Over half the day was spent riding alongside Bras d'Or Lake

Over half the day was spent riding alongside Bras d’Or Lake

P1040830P1040831In Big Pond I pulled over at Rita’s Tea Room for a break.  This was owned by Rita MacNeil.  Just as I pulled in there were a group of about 9 ladies who were heading in for a lunch reunion.  They were quite taken both by Dash and my journey and immediately greeted me to Cape Breton.  There was a flurry of pictures as they asked me to take pictures of them (on a couple cameras) and then they asked to take pictures of me, me with the bike, me with the bike and Dash, etc.  It was pretty funny.  I didn’t stick around long as I wanted to try to beat as much of the approaching rain/wind as possible.  So after a quick tour of the Tea Room, a washroom break, a protein bar and some beef jerky I was back on the road.

In front of Rita's team room

In front of Rita’s team room

Starting to get to the narrower parts of Bras d'Or Lake

Starting to get to the narrower parts of Bras d’Or Lake

About 35km from my destination the sun disappeared and the sky clouded over and the winds start picking up ever so slightly.  At this point I stop hoping that I’ll out bike the rain and instead just be happy with every extra km I’m able to cycle dry.  15km later I arrive in East Bay, I’m only 20km from my destination and I still haven’t been rained on.  Better yet – the road now has a paved shoulder for cyclists – I was not expecting this at all but I do like it as traffic has started to pick up a bit.  Winds are getting a bit stronger too, but that just motivates me to keep pushing.  It helps that the grade of the hills are not as steep and I can actually pedal my way up them.  Another 10km pass, I’m skirting into the edges of the city and only 10km from my destination and still no rain!  By 4:30 I’m safely at the hotel and I didn’t get rained on.  Around 5pm I look out the window and notice that the rain has started.  Just in the nick of time!  Although my thighs are buzzing from how much I pushed them not just today to beat the rain, but the hilly terrain over the past few days, I have to smile.  There’s something that feels good about sore muscles from a workout.

Workplace hazards of cycling on the sidewalk - dodging sign frames!

Workplace hazards of cycling on the sidewalk – dodging sign frames!

East Coast Road Trip

Day 134: August 26 – Prince Edward Island

This morning I was looking forward to picking up a rental car for a few days and do a quick scoot around the East Coast to some of the areas that were a bit further out of the way from my intended route and I felt needed to be checked out while in the area.

Before picking up the rental car I somewhat hesitantly asked the folks at the Comfort Inn in Amherst whether they had a safe place for my bike for a few days.  They were very receptive to this request and offered up some floor space in the electrical room.  Much better than taking the bike apart and fitting it in the car!

After a surprisingly smooth process of picking up the rental car and packing all my gear into the car I was off to PEI via the 12.9km confederation bridge which connects the island to the mainland.

The Confederation Bridge to PEI

The Confederation Bridge to PEI

My first stop in PEI was Summerside – a cute little town on the south coast where I picked up a salad from Wendy’s and walked along the waterfront boardwalk for about an hour and checked out the wharf area.  After Summerside I headed to Cavendish on the north coast.  I’m sure most people know this is where author Lucy Maud Montgomery was raised by her grandparents and is the background for the Anne of Green Gables novels.  I can’t say I’ve ever read the novels, or watched The Road to Avonlea TV series (that I can recall) however I’ve heard the scenery in this area is spectacular, so I had to check it out.  I wasn’t disappointed.  The red rocky/sandy cliffs and ocean views are spectacular.  I spent about 4hrs checking out different little pockets in the area, hiking and in some cases just sitting around taking in the view with the sound of the water as my music!  I also did a super quick (about 15min) tour of the Avonlea Village where my main highlight was stopping for a COWS ice cream – voted best ice cream in Canada by Reader’s Digest.

A view of PEI's red sand

A view of PEI’s red sand

Farmland across the water

Farmland across the water

Harbour in Summerside

Harbour in Summerside

The wharf in Summerside

The wharf in Summerside

Walking along the boardwalk in Summerside

Walking along the boardwalk in Summerside

Don't these cows have a great view?

Don’t these cows have a great view?

The home Lucy Maud Montgomery grew up in

The home Lucy Maud Montgomery grew up in

An afternoon spent in Cavendish

An afternoon spent in Cavendish

Cavendish cliffs

Cavendish cliffs

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Evidence of the cliff erosion

Evidence of the cliff erosion

Awwww - this is peaceful

Awwww – this is peaceful

Dash and I soaking up the view

Dash and I soaking up the view in Cavendish

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Watching some kids ride the water

Watching some kids ride the water

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Still in the Cavendish area

Still in the Cavendish area

A flock of black guillemot

A flock of black guillemot

A closer view of the black guillemot

A closer view of the black guillemot

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Dunes in Cavendish by the beach

Dunes in Cavendish by the beach

Dunes

Dunes

Forested area in Cavendish

Forested area in Cavendish

Cavendish Beach

Cavendish Beach

Water temperature of 18 degrees - almost as warm as the air temperature of 22 degrees!

Water temperature of 18 degrees – almost as warm as the air temperature of 22 degrees!

Dash an dI taking a walk through the forest

Dash an dI taking a walk through the forest

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The school Lucy Maud Montgomery went to

Belmont School – where Lucy Maud Montgomery taught from 1896-97

Avonlea village

Avonlea village

After leaving Cavendish I headed to Charlottetown, checked into my hotel, grabbed some dinner and quickly fell asleep.

Inland PEI

Inland PEI – on my way from Cavendish to Charlottetown

Day 135: August 27 – Halifax

It was about a four hour drive from Charlottetown to Halifax, my first destination in Halifax was MEC for my final major supply re-stock of the trip!  And I really didn’t have much to pick up, just one more dehydrated food dinner and a handful of protein bars, energy gels and energy jubes.  It was good that I only needed a quick stop because I was having a hard time finding parking downtown Halifax and ended up making my own parking spot in front of the store.  I wasn’t blocking anybody or in anybody’s way so as long as a parking attendant didn’t come by I figured I’d be ok.  I immediately then headed over to the hotel, checked in and took a couple hours rest – driving seems more tiring than cycling sometimes!

Cows creamery in Charlottetown

Cows creamery in Charlottetown

Driving across the Confederation Bridge

Driving across the Confederation Bridge

Nova Scotia!  Again!

Nova Scotia! Again!

At the Nova Scotia tourist info

At the Nova Scotia tourist info

Around 6pm I headed out for a stroll and walked around the Halifax Citadel a large fort in Halifax that sits atop a large hill near downtown.  The views from here are not to be missed if you are in the area.

Halifax harbour from the Citadel

Halifax harbour from the Citadel

The clock tower at the Halifax Citadel

The clock tower at the Halifax Citadel

An island in Halifax harbour

An island in Halifax harbour

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The current view of where the explosion mentioned above happened

The current view of where the explosion mentioned above happened

Looking back at the clock tower on the way down to the waterfront

Looking back at the clock tower on the way down to the waterfront

My next stop was the downtown core where I spent a couple hours walking (very slowly) along the waterfront boardwalk.  I was hoping to catch some of Signal Hill’s (an east coast band) set at the Lower Deck, but I was too tired to hang around beyond 9pm so I had to pass on that opportunity.  I did however take the opportunity to try a Beaver Tail – a fried doughy pastry that is stretched into the shape of a beaver tail with different toppings (my choice was hazelnut spread with reese’s pieces).  Otherwise it was a pleasant early evening strolling along the water.

City Hall.  This is where Dalhousie University used to be

City Hall. This is where Dalhousie University used to be

Thomas the Tank Engine boat

Thomas the Tank Engine boat

Historic Properties at the Halifax Wharf

Historic Properties at the Halifax Wharf

Some of the historic buildings

Some of the historic buildings

Along the Halifax Wharf

Along the Halifax Wharf

A view of the water from the wharf

A view of the water from the wharf

An old ship and a cruise ship in the harbour

An old ship and a cruise ship in the harbour

This ship had to get rescued and towed back to land

This ship had to get rescued and with assistance made it back to land

Riding the wave

Riding the wave

An island in the harbour

An island in the harbour

Looking at the harbour as the sun is setting

Looking at the harbour as the sun is setting

I liked the colour of the planes airstream

I liked the colour of the planes airstream

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Halifax from the top of the Citadel at night

Halifax from the top of the Citadel at night

 

Day 136: August 28 – Digby & Digby Neck

My goal was to be on the road by 9am today, but surprisingly enough I woke up before my alarm and was on the road shortly after 8am.  I had another 4hr drive ahead of me today as I was heading to Tiverton (a very small town on Long Island in the Digby Neck area) to go Whale Watching.  This is an excursion I have been looking forward to for a LONG time!  I was scheduled for the 2pm excursion which meant I would have to be at the ferry to cross over to Long Island by 1:30pm (the ferry only leaves once an hour on the half).  I actually made it to the ferry by 12pm and was just getting ready for the 1/2hr wait when the ferry made an unexpected trip and took us on the 5min trip across to Long Island at noon.  Apparently there was an overload of traffic from the other side (which crosses once an hour on the hour), so they had to go back to pick up the overload anyway.  I stopped in at the Ocean Explorations office where I was informed that they still had space on the 12:30 excursion – how is that for things falling in to place?  I told the lady that I had a dog in my car and asked her if there was a shady spot to park, she immediately walked me over to a driveway that had a canopy of trees.  She did offer to leave Dash in the office, but given Dash’s sometimes yappy nature I wasn’t sure that would be a good idea when they are trying to run a business.  Regardless, I left the windows wide open, it was foggy and overcast and only in the mid-teens temperature wise, I left my keys with the lady at the office just in case the car needed to be moved and she also offered to check in on Dash once and a while – soooo kind and accommodating!

In the Annapolis Valley area on my way to Tiverton

In the Annapolis Valley area on my way to Tiverton

Ferry to Tiverton

Ferry to Tiverton

Dash was quite curious about the movement of the ferry

Dash was quite curious about the movement of the car ferry

After I knew Dash was going to be in good hands it was pretty much time to get ready for the tour.  I was going on a zodiac so there were only 12 of us (plus the tour guide Tom) on the tour.  We were all given flotation suits to wear (not just a life vest or jacket, but a full suit with long sleeves, long pants and a hood).  I chatted a bit with an elderly couple who were sharing some of the same nervous excitement I had!  We walked down to the docks and watched as our tiny, tiny zodiac pulled in.

Ocean Explorations office

Ocean Explorations office

 

Suited up!

Suited up!

See that spec in the middle right of the frame?  That's our zodiac

See that spec in the middle of the frame? That’s our zodiac

The size of our zodiac compared to what other companies take out for whale watching

The size of our zodiac compared to what other companies take out for whale watching

After we were all settled in the zodiac Tom was quick to pull us away from the docks and we were heading out into the Bay of Fundy.  Tom told us to keep our eyes peeled for any sightings and to let the group know if any are spotted.  The zodiac can travel at a speed of about 20-30km/hr, so the ride alone was quite a thrill.  About 5min in we spotted a spec ahead of us, as we got closer we saw that it was a grey seal.  Tom was quick to tell us that we can look for seals later – right now we want to find whales or dolphins!  About 20min later of zipping along the bay we started to spot fins in the distance – sure enough – dolphins.  Atlantic white-sided dolphins (as per Tom).  They were jumping out of the water everywhere – but I was always too slow with the camera so I think I only got some pictures of fins and the water disturbance after they jumped!  Oh well!  It was pretty cool, the dolphins actually seemed a bit interested in playing with us and ‘swimming’ with the boat for a while as they quite literally followed the boat jumping on either side of us.  After about 15min of this Tom told us that he was going to pull the zodiac away from the dolphins so we could continue looking for whales.  Once we were removed from the school of dolphins Tom shut off the zodiac and told us to listen for the sound of a whale blowing water out of its blowhole.  Because it was a bit foggy our visibility was  reduced so he thought this would be the quickest way for us to find some whales.  No less than 1 minute after the zodiac was shut off we all heard a noise to our left.  Tom quickly turned the zodiac back on and off we were – looking for whales!  A couple minutes later we saw them!  A group of 4 humpback whales hanging out near the surface of the water.

Tour guide Tom

Tour guide Tom

It was a bit foggy when we first set out

It was a bit foggy when we first set out

I was always too slow to get a picture of the dolphins mid jump

I was always too slow to get a picture of the dolphins mid jump

The dolphins swimming with our boat

The dolphins swimming with our boat

And the last of my dolphin shots (the rest of the dolphin pics were just ripples of water)

And the last of my dolphin shots (the rest of the dolphin pics were just ripples of water)

As per Tom, these humpback whales spend their summers in the bay of fundy primarily eating.  They will usually spend about 5-8 minutes breathing near the surface and then they will go under to eat for about 5-8 minutes and then return to the surface to breath and repeat.  Just before they go under the water they give a bigger breath and then they roll their body a bit and the tail comes completely out of the water and gracefully goes under water.  At one point one whale did actually temporarily lift her head out of the water, but I was too busy watching the moment to catch it on film.  It was also kind of cool to see the green-flourescent hue that gets reflected off the whales white pectoral fins – I don’t think this picked up on the pictures.  We watched this group of 4 whales for about 4 rounds of them breathing near the surface and then heading under to eat.  About an hour later we decided to leave these 4 whales and see if we could find any others.  Within a few minutes we were able to hear the now familiar noise of a whale breathing and when we reached the source of the sound we saw a mother and her calf (humpbacks again).  We probably spent about 15min watching these two and got to see the calf do a roll on to its back (again no pictures).  These two seemed to be taking a break from eating as they spent the whole 15 minutes hanging out near the surface.  Unfortunately our time was winding down, so we had to head back to the docks and leave the whales.  On our way back we stopped at a cove area that grey seals tend to hang out in and so we spent a few minutes watching the seals before finishing our ride.  All in all, a successful excursion!

Here’s a clip of two humpback whales rolling and then going under water to feed:  Clip #3

Humpback whales

3 humpback whales

Humpback whales resting after a feed

3 humpback whales resting after a feed

humpback whales rolling before going under the water again

2 humpback whales rolling before going under the water again

A humpback whale tail midair is it heads under water

A humpback whale tail midair as it heads under water, another humpback whale rolling, a third whale getting ready to roll

Humpback whale tail

Humpback whale tail

I particularly liked the water coming off this humpbacks tail

I particularly liked the water coming off this humpbacks tail

A humpback blowing water.  They give a really load blow before the roll and head under the water

A humpback blowing water. They give a really load blow before the roll and head under the water

Humpback whales resting

Humpback whales resting & breathing

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4 humpback whales

4 humpback whales

Tom took a couple pics with me in them

Tour guide Tom took a couple pics with me in them

Pic courtesy of tour guide Tom

Pic courtesy of tour guide Tom

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Just as the tail submerges in the the water

Just as the tail submerges in the the water

As the fog lifted the water and sky took on a beautiful blue colour

As the fog lifted the water and sky took on a beautiful blue colour

Watching seals watching us

Watching seals watching us

Jellyfish

Jellyfish

The lighthouse was much more visible on our way back to the dock

The lighthouse was much more visible on our way back to the dock

Fishing farms

Fishing farms

I headed to my motel in Digby where I had some world famous Digby scallops for dinner and called it a day!

The view outside of my room at the Admiral Inn Digby

The view outside of my room at the Admiral Inn Digby

Day 137: August 29 – Bay of Fundy

I didn’t have anything particular planned today other then to get back to Amherst where I would be returning the car first thing tomorrow morning.  So I took my time leaving the hotel.  My first stop was a walk around the town of Digby where they were busy preparing for Wharf Rat Rally – a motorcyclist rally.  I checked out the wharf and saw the huge floating docs.  The Bay of Fundy experiences the highest tide changes in the world at around 50 ft.  The tide changes from high to low and back again every 6hrs 13min.

Digby harbour

Digby harbour

Relative low tide given how low the boats were sitting on the dock

Relative low tide given how low the boats were sitting on the dock

Town of Digby

Town of Digby

They were setting up for a bike rally in town

They were setting up for a bike rally in town

Explanation of why Bay of Fundy has such high tides

Explanation of why Bay of Fundy has such high tides

After checking out Digby I headed East to Annapolis Royal – the oldest settlement in Canada.  This area has experienced a lot of turmoil in the past and claims to be the most fought over land in Canada.  I did a tour around town to look at the old buildings and then walked around Fort Anne.

Some of the old buildings on George St. in Annapolis Royal

Some of the old buildings on George St. in Annapolis Royal

George St

George St

Walking along the boardwalk in Annapolis Royal

Walking along the boardwalk in Annapolis Royal

Enjoying the water view

Enjoying the water view

A tide clock

A tide clock

Evidence that it was close to low tide

Evidence that it was close to low tide

Fort Anne in Annapolis Royal

Fort Anne in Annapolis Royal

Some history of the Fort

Some history of the Fort

 

More history

More history

The main building at the fort

The main building at the fort

Canons and gunpowder room

Canons and gunpowder room

Building at the fort

Building at the fort

Dash walking the halls in at Fort Anne

Dash walking the halls in at Fort Anne

Driving along Annapolis Valley - view to the south

Driving along Annapolis Valley – view to the south

View to the north at the same spot as the pic above - definitely in a valley!

View to the north at the same spot as the pic above – definitely in a valley!

My next stop was South Maitland which is situated along the Shubenacadie River.  I arrived here around 5pm and was told by the kind lady at the information tourist info that the Tidal Bore would happen today in South Maitland at 6:20pm.  I decided to stick around to watch this phenomenon.  So what is a Tidal Bore?  It’s when the incoming tide travels up a river and changes the natural directional flow of the river.  Apparently this can be as little a ripple or as a very visible wave.  Today it was a pretty mild ripple, however it was pretty neat to see just how quickly the tide did come into the river when it started.  While watching this occurrence I chatted with an elderly couple from Ontario who have spent the last 6 weeks road tripping – they had just come form Newfoundland and are now slowly making their way back to Ontario.  While chatting with them about my adventure a group of 3 started asking some questions – they were waiting for their daughters to finish ‘riding the tidal bore’ on a zodiac, they were supposed to be on the venture as well but the one guy broke two toes a couple days ago.  This group was also from Ontario and believe it or not but the one lady was a Schnurr born and raised in Formosa (a small town near my hometown!)  We tried comparing notes on people we might know, but we were just slightly off generation wise so we weren’t having much luck!

Maitland - where the Shubenacadie river meets the bay of fundy

Maitland – where the Shubenacadie river meets the bay of fundy

Dash and I in Maitland

Dash and I in Maitland

South Maitland - I get a sense this park is not used often...

South Maitland – I get a sense this park is not used often…

Pre tidal bore

Pre tidal bore

Mid tidal bore

Mid tidal bore

Mid tidal bore

Mid tidal bore – you can see white whips as the water moves

End of the tidal bore (40 min after the tidal bore started)

End of the tidal bore (40 min after the tidal bore started)

Pre tidal bore

Pre tidal bore

Mid tidal boreAnd 40 min after the tidal bore started

And 40 min after the tidal bore started

 

Mid tidal bore

Riding the bore zodiac coming down the river

Riding the bore zodiac coming down the river

A closer view of the zodiac

A closer view of the zodiac

 

Day 138: August 30 – Amherst

Today was a rest and relax day.  After having breakfast I picked up my bike.  They had moved it from the electrical room to a room that they are holding for upcoming renovations – they felt it would be safer there because it is closed and locked, whereas the electrical room door is left open during the day.  Again – the kindness and consideration of others continues to impress me!

I dropped off the rental car and came back to tighten up the back and front rack on my bike (these were coming loose when I left my bike on Sunday – it wasn’t anything that the hotel folks had done to it).  Unfortunately when I was tightening a nut on the front right rack, the screw it was attached to snapped off!  I must be getting too strong for my own good!  Haha!  I temporarily contemplated heading to a bike store to replace the front rack, or a hardware store to see if I can find a properly fitted U-shapped part to replace it, but decided given how close I am to my destination that I would try a duct tape fix job.  I hope it holds.  I really, really, really hope it holds.  The front rack is still attached by two other screws.  That along with the duct tape should work, right?  I’ll make sure to adjust my gear so the pannier that goes on that rack is lighter in weight.  Please hold duct tape!

Red green would be proud, wouldn't he?

Red green would be proud, wouldn’t he?

Trees, Trees and more Trees

Day 131: August 23 – Miramichi to Bouctouche

Daily Distance = 112.15km, Trip Total = 5,306.33km

Today was a pleasant surprise on the weather front – they were calling for rain until early afternoon and instead I only got a couple quick sprinkles.  Temperature had also cooled off and was a very comfortable low 20’s.

Crossing the bridge in Miramichi - I was happy for the dedicated bike lane!

Crossing the bridge in Miramichi – I was happy for the dedicated bike lane!

Riding along the river in Miramichi

Riding along the river in Miramichi

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A bridge under construction

A bridge under construction

My route today took me mostly south on hwy 11 which sometimes had a nice wide paved shoulder and other times did not.  Overall I found traffic much more inclined to slow down and move over for me than what I was noticing a couple days previously on hwy 8.  As I left Chatham I passed by the airport which had a big banner for the Atlantic Air Show which was going to be held this weekend – darn it!  I was early by 1 day!

This is where the air show is going to be the next day

This is where the air show is going to be the next day

The rough and small shoulder of hwy 11

The rough and small shoulder of hwy 11

Around the 50km mark I was able to pick up rte 134 which was a much less trafficked road.  However it did have one common theme that has been consistent throughout New Brunswick – there are trees everywhere!  I have since been informed that New Brunswick is 85% forest and forestery is the main driving force of the economy.  After riding several days past trees, trees and more trees, I found this stat pretty easy to believe!

Trees, trees, trees

Trees, trees, trees

Me cycling amongst the trees

Me cycling amongst the trees

More acadian flags

More acadian flags

Passing through a quiet town

Passing through a quiet town

As I zipped through Saint-Louis I saw a sign for fresh smoothies – I had to pull over for a quick break.  After savouring my peach, kiwi, banana & raspberry smoothie I was back on the road.

A great spot for a fresh smoothie

A great spot for a fresh smoothie

Hanging out at a park in Richibucto

Hanging out at a park in Richibucto

In Richibucto I made a left hand turn into a Tim Horton’s to use the washroom. This meant I had to make the dreaded left hand turn out of a Tim Horton’s onto a somewhat busy road with no traffic light.  It took several minutes to make the turn safely and I snapped a picture of the lineup of vehicles behind me trying to make this same turn.  How is this for a common pain felt across Canada?!?

The common Timmies car line up

The common Timmies car line up

A skeleton of a sailboat

A skeleton of a sailboat

Passing over hwy 11

Passing over hwy 11

I reached where the campground was supposed to be located on rte 475 around 5:30pm (after going 3km out of my way east of Bouctouche) to find nothing but a sign for the campground indicating it was another 7km away.  This wouldn’t have phased me if the 7km was in the direction I would be heading tomorrow, unfortunately, the 7km was actually heading north.  Pretty much the direction I just came from!  Ugh!

This is where google maps said the campground was supposed to be

This is where google maps said the campground was supposed to be

I decided to pull my bike over and scout out my other options.  A quick call to a pet friendly B&B told me that they were booked for the night, however a pet friendly hotel did still have rooms.  While I was debating what I would do a gentleman came over from across the road and we chatted about my trip.  He told me how impressed he was (in particular he seemed impressed that this trip was done with a dog – he was quick to explain his wife and he are huge animal lovers) and suggested that I use his front yard to camp for the night.  I was a bit hesitant, but he seemed nice enough, a retired fisherman who used to run a 500+ employee fishing company (primarily lobster) and with the promise of a fresh lobster dinner thrown into the mix, I couldn’t refuse the offer.  Half an hour later after my tent was setup and I was getting all my gear organized he came back out with a very apologetic expression.  Apparently his wife came home and she was ‘concerned about how her two cats would handle having a dog on their yard and that I had to go’.  I think I was more disappointed about not getting the promised fresh lobster dinner!  I grudgingly packed up my stuff and headed back into town and checked into the hotel where I was upgraded to a suite and I was quickly asleep!

Day 132: August 24 – Bouctouche to Cap-Pele

Daily Distance = 65.41km, Trip Total = 5,371.74km

After zipping through about 20km of more trees (and the occasional house and farm), I saw Gail and Jim’s car approach me from the opposite direction.  We pulled over into a driveway and got Gail’s bike off the roof rack as she would be joining me for the rest of the day’s ride!  Jim kindly offered to take Dash and my gear in the car for the day so I wouldn’t have to schlep my stuff for the rest of the day! Yay!

Crossing a bridge in Cocagne

Crossing a bridge in Cocagne

Gail once again in the lead!

Gail once again in the lead!

In Shediac we came across a bike rally and decided to stop for a drink and lunch.  We expected service to be a little slow due to all the people in town for the bike rally, but I don’t think either of us expected to wait 40min just to get our water and drinks.  Especially when everybody around us who came in after us already had their food.  And it was definitely not a good sign when around 45min a waitress came out and asked us to repeat our order just so they could ‘confirm they got it right’.  Another 30min later we finally got our food.  The drink was tasty though (or mine was at least!).

Heading out of Shediac and the bike rally

Heading out of Shediac and the bike rally

A quick ride after lunch got us to our campground by the ocean for the night where Jim had already started setting up camp and Gail had both wine and coolers on hand – does it get any better than this?  After dinner (dehydrated food), I took Dash for a walk on the low tide ocean floor and dipped my hand into the pleasantly warm ocean water.  This area is known for having the warmest fresh salt water beaches in Canada.

The beach at our campground in Cap-Pele

The beach at our campground in Cap-Pele

Looking at the warmest fresh salt water in Canada!

Looking at the warmest fresh salt water in Canada!

 

Day 133: August 25 – Cap-Pele to Amherst

Daily Distance = 58.16km, Trip Total = 5,429.90km

I knew today was going to be a relatively short ride day, but I still wanted to get an early start so I could get some errands done in the afternoon.  I was on the road by 9:30, after having said my g’bye’s to Gail and Jim.

Sun rise in Cap-Pele

Sun rise in Cap-Pele

Passed by lots of small fisheries today

Passed by lots of small fisheries today

A fishery

A fishery

An old fishing boat

An old fishing boat

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About 30km into my ride I stopped at a little community hall for a quick break. Shortly after I was stopped three cyclists rolled by.  Originally they were going to keep cycling, but after seeing all my gear they couldn’t resist coming over and chatting.  They were out for a little training spin before they cycle around the Calbot Trail next weekend (apparently it is a supported 3-day ride organized through an Atlantic Canada Cycling group).  As we were talking one of the gents mentioned another cross-Canada female cyclist he met a few weeks ago who had all of her gear stolen in New Brunswick.  I had actually heard of this same story through the gal I had met while camping in Causapscal, QC – it was one of the trio that she had ridden with from Victoria to Quebec.  Needless to say I paid particular attention to my bike and gear while in New Brunswick!

Approaching a very small town

Approaching a very small town

I have found churches to be a good spot to take a break

Dash hanging out by the door hoping somebody will let her in!

Cyclists out for their weekend ride

Cyclists out for their weekend ride

Where does the water end and the sky start?

Where does the water end and the sky start?

More New Brunswick trees

More New Brunswick trees

A couple km’s later I saw a sign indicating I was now in Nova Scotia.  Given that I was on a relatively quiet country road (rte 970 and turning onto rte 366), I wasn’t sure that there would be a sign indicating my crossing of the province, so I was happy there was!  Even better – when I turned around there was a ‘welcome to new brunswick’ sign – this was more than I saw when I actually crossed into New Brunswick so I had to turn around and get a quick picture in front of that sign too.

A proper New Brunswick sign

A proper New Brunswick sign

And on to Nova Scotia!!!

And on to Nova Scotia!!!

These old lobster traps were common at the end of country driveways in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick

These old lobster traps were common at the end of country driveways in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick

Clear sky and quiet road.  Cycling bliss!

Clear sky and quiet road. Cycling bliss!

Nova Scotia like New Brunswick has a lot of trees, but there are actual views (New Brunswick is where I learned the meaning of the expression 'you can't see the forest for the trees')

Nova Scotia like New Brunswick has a lot of trees, but there are actual views (New Brunswick is where I learned the meaning of the expression ‘you can’t see the forest for the trees’)

I liked the clouds

I liked the clouds

Cows!

Cows!

When I made it to the downtown core of Amherst I pulled over for about 15 minutes and listened to a live band that was singing some oldies to a pretty big crowd (or what I assume to be a pretty big crowd for a relatively small town).  I made it to my hotel around 2pm and spent the afternoon hiding from the sun, getting caught up on emails and the blog.

Taking in the band in Amherst

Taking in the band in Amherst

I haven't had a bike shot for a while :)

I haven’t had a bike shot for a while :)