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August 8th, 2013 | Canada

Cape Breton…

I left the farm we had been staying on and ride along the coast towards the Confederation Bridge.

South African Toll Roads take note !! In every other country in the world, tolls for motorcyclists are either half that of cars, or FREE !!

South African Toll Roads take note !! In every other country in the world, tolls for motorcyclists are either half that of cars, or FREE !!

I rode through the villages of Rice Point, Canoe Cove and Argyle Shore, and then had to take a little detour along a dirt road due to a bridge being down somewhere.

Once through Hampton and Victoria, where Patricia, Sally and Richard had planned to stop for breakfast, I made a bee-line for the bridge, saying goodbye to the island where I could easily have spent a few more days in it’s relaxing and low-key atmosphere.

Once over the bridge, and back in New Brunnswick, I left the highway at Port Elgin and headed for Tidnish, a small town on the border of Nova Scotia, and the end or beginning, depending on which direction you are traveling, of the Sunrise Trail.

It was great being back on this scenic and mostly traffic free route, and as I followed the shores of the Northumberland Strait, I wished that Patricia had been with me, as she would certainly have enjoyed this ride as much as she had the one around the eastern points of Prince Edward Island.

The weather was being kind to me and there wasn’t a cloud in the powder blue sky… I passed the spot where I had seen the moose the week before, and slowed down to see if was still in the area, but saw neither hide nor hair of the ungainly looking animal… It was by then mid-morning and with the sun beating down, I figured the moose was tucked away in some dark thicket, hatching plans to scare the daylights out of passing motorists as soon as dusk approached…

The relationship in size between moose and car on this road-sign is fairly accurate, so meeting one by accident on a motorcycle can be a rather painful affair...

The relationship in size between moose and car on this road-sign is fairly accurate, so meeting one by accident on a motorcycle can be a rather painful affair…

Pennants were flying in Pugwash, World Famous for Peace !!

Pennants were flying in Pugwash, World Famous for Peace !!

The first sign for Cape Breton, which was still a long way off, came soon after I left Pugwash...

The first sign for Cape Breton, which was still a long way off, came soon after I left Pugwash…

I rode through Port Howe, over the bridge spanning the wide and sluggish looking Philip River, to the town of Port Philip, and from there onto Pugwash. This small town, with a population of a little more than 1000 souls,  sits at the mouth of the river from which it takes it’s name, and is home to colourful fleet of fishing boats, which lay bobbing in the shallow waters offshore when I passed through.

Signs proclaimed the place as “World Famous for Peace”, and with a little research, I discovered that the town hosted a conference on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons in 1957, during the height of the Cold War. Scientists from many parts of the world had met here to discuss their opposition to these weapons…

Pugwash also sits on the largest salt deposit on the Atlantic Coast, estimated at almost 460 metres thick, and has the largest underground salt mine in North America. It is also the home of a thriving Pewter and silver industry.

I skirted Tatamagouche Bay, and headed further along the coast towards Pictou, where I would have arrived at, had I taken the ferry from Prince Edward Island. By the time I got to this area, the ferry was just coming into view out in the bay, and I had to smile to myself when I considered how much more I had seen and enjoyed by riding around the long way.

The Lighthouse Theme extends to this motel along the road to Tatamagouche...

The Lighthouse Theme extends to this motel along the road to Tatamagouche…

Might no longer be seaworthy but still has other uses !!

Might no longer be seaworthy but still has other uses !!

We passed River John, and took the coastal route out to Seafoam, the road running within metres of the flat grey water in some areas. After crossing the Caribou River, I got onto the highway and rode as quickly as possible around New Glasgow, looking for a road that would take me back to the coast.

Once there I slowed down to enjoy the scenery, passed through Merigonish and made my way to the tiny harbor of Arisaig, founded in 1785 by Scottish settlers, and the sight of one of the lighthouses I wanted to see… I made my way down to the harbor mouth and met a few other bikers on their Harley’s who were also there to see the lighthouse.

The Arisaig Lighthouse, re-built in 2007 after the original was destroyed by fire. The lighthouse keeper had been warned about leaving a candle burning all night...

The Arisaig Lighthouse, re-built in 2007 after the original was destroyed by fire. The lighthouse keeper had been warned about leaving a candle burning all night…

The bikers mentioned that they were on their way to the Cape George lighthouse on the point of the peninsula and we rode there together, until we reached the turnoff. When they saw that the road leading to the lighthouse was not tarred, they changed their minds and rode on to Ballantyne’s Cove, where I caught up to them later that same afternoon.

I took the narrow dirt road to the lighthouse and was very glad that I did. The Cape George lighthouse was built from brick and mortar, in the more traditional conical fashion, and rose straight and tall into the clear blue sky. It stood on a high bluff, far above the sea, looking out to the north-west, I could see Prince Edward Island.

I had the Cape George Lighthouse all to myself. A beautiful spot to spend a quiet afternoon...

I had the Cape George Lighthouse all to myself. A beautiful spot to spend a quiet afternoon…

Once back on the highway, I headed for the Parish of Guysborough on my way to Cape Breton

Once back on the highway, I headed for the Parish of Guysborough on my way to Cape Breton

I had not refueled since filling up on the north side of Prince Edward, and was now running low on fuel. I was told there was fuel for sale down in a little harbor along the coast, but on arrival there, I discovered that the person who had the keys to the pumps was away !

Welcome to my 7th Canadian province...

Welcome to my 7th Canadian province…

I put the last two litres of fuel I was carrying into the tank, and spent the next half hour with clenched teeth and sphincter, riding at 80 km/h to get to the outskirts of Antigonish. I managed to cover 42 km after my range indicator read “0”…!!

I stayed on the highway after that, trying to make up time for the slow pace I had ridden at to find fuel. I passed the town of Monastery and crossed into the parish of Guysborough before making the crossing onto the island of Cape Breton.

Once over the large green bridge, we set course for North Sydney, the planned jump-off point to Newfoundland. Cape Breton is made up of a number of islands, all joined by bridges and causeways, and I took the northern route along the St. Patricks Channel, through Kingsville, Blue Mills and Bucklaw.

Place names here such as Wagmatcook and Whycocomach reflected the rich Indian heritage of the area.

Crossing the bridge over the Calso Causeway and onto Cape Breton.

Crossing the bridge over the Calso Causeway and onto Cape Breton.

No thank you very much !! I have heard many stories about travelers and visits to farmers daughters !! They usually ended in tears with the travelers leaving town in a hurry !!

No thank you very much !! I have heard many stories about travelers and visits to farmer’s daughters !! They usually ended in tears with the travelers leaving town in a hurry !!

I was close enough to North Sydney to try and find a place to stay there, and in the end, was glad I did.

I was close enough to North Sydney to try and find a place to stay there, and in the end, was glad I did.

The road ran alongside the channel, past Baddeck and Big Hill, where I stopped to check prices at a few roadside motels. Most of them were either too expensive or fully-booked. It was already late in the afternoon and I was tired after covering over 500 km since leaving Charlottetown on P.E.I.

I was not intending to take the ferry to Newfoundland for a few days, because I wanted to ride the Cabot Trail first, so figured that I had enough time on my hands to stop short of North Sydney and tackle the trail on a large circular route which would take me down to the ferry terminal in a day or two’s time…

After stopping a third time and finding “the inn full” I decided to ride on to North Sydney and hoped that there would be more places to choose from at cheaper prices…

The road climbed over a steep ridge, and then onto a large trestle bridge over a lake that was not a lake at all, but rather a long narrow channel between islands. I passed a number of signs pointing the way to the Cabot Trail, and nearly every visitor to this area that I met over the next few days, were here to ride the trail…

I began passing small groups of bikers on their Harley’s, all after the same thing as I was – a place to stay !! With a quicker Big Fella beneath me, I made sure I got to town long before they did !!

Last bridge to North Sydney. This one over the Bras D'Or Lake, which isn't a lake at all !!

Last bridge to North Sydney. This one over the Bras D’Or Lake, which isn’t a lake at all !!

I sat the bike on the hill overlooking both the town and the harbor, and watched as the ferry was being loaded with what seemed like an endless line of cars and trucks…

I was allowed to park the Big Fella right outside the back door ! No parking in the street for us !!

I was allowed to park the Big Fella right outside the back door ! No parking in the street for us !!

I had heard that there had been an accident with one of the ferries servicing Newfoundland but had no details of how the service had been affected. I stopped at the Tim Horton’s to buy a cup of coffee and chat to a few bikers gathered outside the restaurant.

They were all locals and gave me a few ideas of where I could look for a place to stay. I made a call to the one they all seemed to recommend, and located Heritage Home Bed and Breakfast along the road running in front of the bay, barely a kilometer away.

I was greeted by the owner, Juana, who would over the next few days make me feel as though I was in a home away from home. This super-friendly and helpful lady had started and run this B&B after her husband passed away many years before, and judging by the many people she had to turn away, was a very respected and sought after place to stay in North Sydney.

I had managed to secure a small single room upstairs, which suited my needs perfectly. Juana also suggested I bring the bike right up alongside the house and below the larger parking area that bordered on the street.

That first evening in Heritage House turned out to be the quiet before the storm, even though a light drizzle came down and blanketed the area shortly after my arrival.

With the bike safely covered, I strolled down to a local eatery and bought a light meal to eat back in my room. I planned to ride the Cabot Trail the following day and do as much research on Newfoundland and Labrador as I could before taking on that particular challenge.

PEI to North Sydney, a 600 km ride that took almost 11 hours.

PEI to North Sydney, a 600 km ride that took almost 11 hours.

©GBWT 2013

 

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