Day 74: The Cabot Trail 

September 5: Linwood to Cheticamp, 162 km / 101 mi 

400 km across Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island to reach the ferry to Newfoundland and I have changed my plans three times. In the end, I have decided to ride the world famous Cabot Trail. It will mean couple extra long days before the ferry and one less day on Newfoundland. 

The Cabot Trail – “Rising from the sea and clinging to mountains, the Cabot Trail is a winding staircase that will take you from majestic ocean vistas to quiet fishing villages.” A scenic highway! 

The friendly ladies at the Cape Breton visitor center convinced me to ride the hard-packed gravel and dirt trail on the west side of the island since it’s closer to the water than the coast road and the views are better. They were right and that wasn’t even a section of the Cabot Trail. 

I met Bea at my mid-day stop at the convenience stop for some coke and Gatorade. We chatted for a while and when I came out of the washroom, she had a goodie bag of nuts and bars ready for me. Love these random acts of kindness. 

Here are some pics from today. 



I saw my riding companion, David, on and off during the day and he caught up with me, after grocery shopping, at camp. Another night of good company. 

Stats: 

162 km / 101 mi today … over 7000 km / 4300 mi since June

Cape Breton Island! Woohoo!! 


Canso Causeway connecting Cape Breton with Nova Scotia 

Beach walk 

Day 73: The recumbent 

September 4: Brookfield to Linwood, 167 km / 104 mi

The muffled sound of earplugs is effective for preventing being kept awake by your partner’s snoring but not effective for karaoke or rain and wind storm. There was not much sleep in tent site #10 last night. 

The morning rain made for a quick pack job and more sorting and organizing occurred under a covered shelter. Being alone for a day, I welcomed the chit chat with the usual Tim Hortons retiree crowd. Labor Day weekend made for quiet roads and puddles disappeared mid-day. 

I startled a cyclist resting on the side of the road but we were both obviously delighted to see each other. He immediately offered me a sweet wafery biscuit and we exchanged plans for the day and trip. We rode together to Tim Horton’s for an afternoon coffee break. 

David, my new riding partner, is on a recumbent bike but he might as well be a celebrity. People flocked to him as we came  into Timmys in Antigonish. Turns out, with a recumbent bike its like that everywhere and especially in China. This is his second trip across Canada, over a decade apart, and he has done many adventurous cycle tours. 

The trees danced in the wind and the weather continued to improve throughout the day. Nice tailwind at the end of the day. 

Beers and vegetable soup shared at camp. It’s nice to have company! 


Stats: 

167 km / 104 mi might be my longest day yet

Closed grocery store on Labor Day 

Jess’s journey home

September 3 and 4

Shortly after my rockstar ride partner Irena rolled away from the hostel in Halifax I loaded up and rode to cyclesmith bike shop. I had called a week earlier to set up the boxing day and was instructed to be the first one in the shop at 11. At 10:45 I watched all the employees check in the back door before they held the front door open for me at 11. 

Sue planned to meet me there.  Sue lives on Cape Breton and offered to visit and assist with my departure from Nova Scotia since her parents and childhood town is near the airport.  I met Sue three summers ago when she served s the awesome adult chaperone for the arctic Girl Guides trip I lead.

It was swell to catch up with her and her husband Basil for a lovely lunch, a needed nap, and then a special dinner of homemade seafood chowder, fresh salad (with maple vinaigrette), and oat cakes with ice cream. Oat cakes started appearing on the menu at Timmy’s in New Brunswick, and Irena and I had some there and from the bakery in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia. These Sue offered, with vanilla ice cream, were delicious. She explained that 50 years ago, every home in Nova Scotia made them and it was always on offer with tea or coffee when visitors came by. A local treat.

Very early Monday morning, we wrapped my bike box in a tarp, secured it in the bed of the truck, and drove to the airport, runway lights bright in the dark. 

And then, by the miracle of flight, what had taken me 71 days to cross, zipped backward under my wing. A stop in Calagary, and then on to my emerald city, cloaked in a smoky haze from nearby fires. The west was hot and dry this summer and it was a shock. Seattle will be 34 °C Tuesday. 

The kindness of strangers to bike travelers continued in town as some fellow Seattlites helped me to light rail on both ends.

I met my neighbor/friend at my station for the last leg home. His girls made me welcome signs for both my doors. 

And my driveway neighbors/friends invited me to join them for dinner in the back yard: grilled fish, and veggies, wine, stories of mutual travel and wonder. My subletters, she told me, were great, the little boys from Oslo saying “they were borrowing my house and staying only a bittle lit”

The sun burned red. I climbed into my bed as the moon glowed red. 

I am home.

Day 72: Part IV

September 3: Halifax to Brookfield, 92 km

This story has 10 provinces and only 9 have been completed so far. There is still 1300 km of road to be cycled; a day and a half of back-tracking across Nova Scotia; Cape Breton Island (not its own province); 7 hour ferry boat ride; many more sights and smells to enjoy and stories to collect. This road ends in St. John’s, Newfoundland. 

On the road again, solo


Two more weeks of camping – the tent is going to feel huge (and quiet) without Jess 


The Bad Tan Lines Project may be finished since I am sitting at the picnic table in my down jacket and it feels like the season has changed 


Stats: 

92 km / 57 mi

The same road, cycled twice, once in each direction 

First Campground with karaoke 

 Day 71: fish and ships 

Rest day, tourists in Peggys Cove, Lunenburg, Blue Rocks, 0 km biked, September 2

This gem of a lighthouse is one of the most photographed places in Canada. Rightly so. The ancient granite rocks and small fishing hamlet, totally rocked, and reminded me of Henningsvaer, Norway, also on the tip of the Atlantic. The wind whipped, and the clouds danced back and forth, teasing us. It was cold, as you can see from Irena’s selfie.

We continued down the coast another 90 km or so in a little rented car (gasp!) to Lunenburg, one of only three urban UNESCO sites in North America. We were charmed by the colorful buildings, tall ships, and maritime culture. The Blue Nose II, Nova Scotia’s sailing ambassador, sat in port and then later set sail with a group of tourists, with the 1100 square foot main sail impressing this salty gal, and the mast of the schooner from BC impressing the other.

Of course, we had our last lobster rolls for lunch at the Salt Shaker Deli.

By later afternoon we drove out to the point, Blue Rocks, for ice cream out of this tiny general store. It was a delight to sit in the sun, listen to the surf, smell the salt, and just relax a bit. I took a number of photos with the Nikon so stay tuned.

We returned to town winding through the South End, “the nice part of town”, and past Dallhousie University. We wandered the boardwalk one last time, gawking at the huge German cruise ship (11 decks) that nearly turned on a dime near McNab Island and headed out toward NYC. We strolled to The Old Triangle, a Nova Scotia Irish pub for music and delishes fishes dishes, including this gravlax board. Irena had the fish and chips, and I had the Newfoundland Salt Cod Cakes.

On the back of a kids menu we scribbled some notes–highlights of the adventure, a top ten list, and catch phrases for each province. Nova Scotia=Fish and Ships.

With a final radler we toasted each other, this accomplishment, and the continued safe travels for the next part of the stories.

Remember, Irena continues on from Halifax to St. John’s Newfoundland. One more province, and another time zone. Follow along.

Day 70: The dipping of the wheel

Shubenacadie to Halifax, September 1

It’s funny that the two families who helped with today’s celebratory photos were from Vancouver. So close, and yet so far. One group asked us what our hardest part of the journey was. It’s a natural question. True. But we wish not to dwell, or recount, those parts. Rather, it’s the joys, and the highlights; we savor the gems along the way, the colors, the smells, the slant of light, and the people. Each thread, each tale, each photograph, we’ve woven into the tapestry of this remarkable landscape, this adventure.

Today we arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia, via the cute little doughnut shaped ferry from Dartmouth.

Today we dipped the front wheels in the Atlantic Ocean.

Today we stood together in awe and admiration.

Today, I finished my journey of thousands, and thousands, of kilometers across nine provinces of Canada!

Stats:

45 miles

Ferry

Part III of this journey is nearly done. We will enjoy some sites together, before Irena continues solo to St. John’s, Newfoundland, in part IV of this adventure. 

Day 68: A Reunion in Pictou County

August 30: Meadowville rest day, 0 km

A woman in my book club had some wise words about friendships: Friends may be with you for a season or a reason or a life time. My friend Alanna falls in the latter category. We had a day to catch up on the last decade of our lives and enjoyed recapping some old Victoria stories and fun memories. I hope we don’t count our reunions by the decades. 

From Pictou to Tatamagoush to New Glasgow, we really are still in Canada, it’s just that Nova Scotia means New Scotland. We used all five of the ginormous rotary (aka round about) exits as Alanna gave us a tour of the area and taught us about the local life. 

Day 69: Penultimate and Published Press 

Meadowville to Shubenacadie, August 30

The day started in our new team jerseys (Thanks Alanna!) as we road out of Pictou County.

In the middle we met some other bikers, boys on their way home from a friend’s house and then a couple doing hill laps on the red pavement.

 And then we hit the REAL middle, half way between the North pole and the equator, 45°N Latitude, in Stewiacke.

At the end, after I double-fisted a thirst quenching Orange Julius and a blizzard, I swam in little Lake Lynch. 

Later we fed fish and painted box turtles, the white bread sucked under by the wild, the moonlight reflection remained floating above.

Stats:

61 miles

We are in the local Nova Scotia news! The young adventure to Churchill Manitoba three summers ago. We met up with her last weekend and this is her article about our cross country bike adventure.

http://www.cumberlandnewsnow.com/community/2017/8/30/bikers-from-seattle-travel-across-canada.html

 

Day 67: lucky lucky, number nine is just fine

Charlottetown, PEI to Meadowville (Unincorporated Pictou County), Nova Scotia, August 29

The breakfast table of the Charlottetown hostel was full of travelers, passing the jam, or the fresh banana bread. We told of our journey briefly, listened to others, then pulled our final things out of our nautically decorated private room of the hostel.

We crossed the bridge of the Charlottetown harbor, snapped a few final photos, and grabbed some snacks for the day at the corner gas station. When we inquired about the route back to the Confederation Trail, the attendant showed us a map of this suburb and pointed to an alternative way. Then, a woman at the check out, in her colourful BIKE PEI jersey, turned her ears our way. Ruth is the Community Relations Coordinator for the Confederation Trail.  She was wise with her route suggestions, handing a stack of a maps to the gas station attendant. Making note of the newly laid trail that she thought would be a challenge for our loads. “Take this [insert route number] road first, then connect with the TransCanada.”

She was our first angel of the day.

Next was Levi, the proprietor of the hostel. About 16 km into our day, Irena checked her phone and found a text from him stating that he had my passport at the hostel and wanted to get it back to me. Turns out that the guy who checked us in hadn’t returned it to me. Their bad, and “I’d like to make it good,” Levi told me on the phone when I called back. “This is so good!” Irena claimed. Better now than at the airport in Halifax, she rightly reasoned. “In a dream world, you’d drive it out to me, as we are trying to make a ferry,” I negotiated. “Sure, I’m coming right away and stepping on it.”

We were trying to make the 2:45 ferry to Nova Scotia. It was going to be closer now than we’d planned. 

At 1:15, I put my legs to the test, and sang that good ole Salt N Pepper song, “push it real good”, as I went a serious push pace for more than an hour. Thankfully the road no longer climbed, and instead rolled slightly downhill to the water. Regardless, the race pace was on. I was relentless in the push. When I pulled into the toll both, I visualized a red ribbon, and raised my first with power pump. Made it! There was Irena, already having purchased the tickets, and stalling by talking with the attendant about how her friend was on the way. I felt a rush of immense joy.

In line behind the motorbikes, we pulled onto the huge ship, and the motorcycle guys all knew what to do, fetching the ratchet straps and hooking them to their bikes and the D rings in the floor of the vessel. Irena and I wondered what to do with our bikes and got a bit of assistance, either to stash it in a corner or secure it with similar straps to a pole.

Beautiful crossing with a lovely snack, but took less time than we thought. I could have used more rest. A little more than an hour later, we were in Nova Scotia, with Alana waiting for us in her orange Pictou County Cycles kit. She and Irena hadn’t seen each other in years since when they last both lived in Victoria.

She was our photographer for the momentous provincial sign. Number NINE! We have cycled to NINE provinces, and this is my last.

We followed Alanna out the ferry road to the round about, and continued on paved and dirt roads to her farm house home, in rural unincorporated Pictou County, all the while hearing stories of the local dairy, the family farms, and the community she has returned to for work in as a home health nurse. 

Sipping beers and munching sugar snap peas right from her garden as the sun set behind the 80 acre property was another win of the day.

Stats:

57 miles

BE HERE NOW

Ceilidh (pronounce that!)

Awesome gifts from Alanna 

And the seasons are changing: we can feel it in the weather and see it in the fields

 

 

Day 66: #welovepei

August 28: Cavendish to Charlottetown, 51 km (Prince Edward Island) 

Patti said that PEI is a special place and she was right. We crisscrossed this lovely and hilly island! Somehow we thought it was flat but don’t be fooled that is not the case. The red beach on the Cavendish north shore was stunning. Seafood is delicious and the island is rich in farming. And of course we didn’t pass on Cow Ice Cream. 

On Patti’s recommendation we went to the Water Prince Corner Shop for dinner. The waitress looked stunned when we told her we didn’t have a reservation and unless we were willing to sit at the kitchen bar, she’d get us in at 10 pm. We took her bar offer and returned an hour later. 

The restaurant played the Final Countdown as she prepared us for lobster with bibs around our necks. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect finish to PEI. 




Stats: 

51 km (41 km of endless hills and 10 km of Confederation trail) 

A French toast bake for breakfast from fellow campers, Patti & George, from Boston. Wicked! 

Lobster roll for lunch 

Whole lobster for dinner 

Bed and towels at Charlottetown hostel