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August 2nd, 2013 | Canada

To Prince Edward Island…

Mist had rolled in over Halifax during the night. When it finally lifted a little, all that was exposed was a dense grey bank of cloud that would hang above me for most of the day. I left the motel during what would have been rush hour, but the public holiday meant light traffic flow as I edged around the northern suburbs of the city and then headed south towards the ocean.

Scenes like this are common along Marine Drive on the Eastern Shores of Nova Scotia.

Scenes like this are common along Marine Drive on the Eastern Shores of Nova Scotia.

Marine Drive turned out to be the best stretch of coastal road that I had encountered in Nova Scotia. I rode down to Cow Bay and then began the long but enjoyable haul to Stillwater, passing through areas of spectacular beauty, even though there was little sunshine to illuminate the coastline.

Antigonish was the first major town I was heading to...

Antigonish was the first major town I was heading to…

I passed through Seaforth, Jeddore, Lakeville and Ship Harbour, and then stopped to take in the sights along the sea shore, which were dotted with tiny islands, seemingly afloat in a bay of mercury…

The flat grey waters of the Atlantic, whose waves had been tempered by the seaward facing shores of the chain of islands, flowed in among these islands and into sheltered bays, with hardly a ripple.

I rode on, hugging the shoreline to within barely a few metres of the water’s edge at times, through Sheet Harbour, Moosehead and a strange place with the name, Ecum Secum !! Hardly a soul stirred in the little fishing villages I ghosted through, and I guess most were taking advantage of the public holiday. Even the fishermen did not seem interested in putting out to sea !!

While the mist had lifted along the seashore, further inland, it still hung about, requiring me to tone down my speed to avoid running into the back of slower moving vehicles. I had only one minor “scare” in this regard, and from then on, hardly encountered any traffic all the way to Sherbrooke.

I stopped at a small service station outside this pretty little town and refueled, watching a small group of Harley riders messing about with their luggage. They had just exited the town and a few of their bags had fallen off their bikes.

Turns out they were from Ireland and had rented the bikes complete with luggage bags, and had not yet figured out how to tie them on properly… I walked over to them and spent a few minutes helping them get sorted. Seeing the Big Fella loaded as he was, made them step back and allow me to explain how things should be secured…

There was much laughter and ragging each other, as is usual with the Irish, and when they were finally set, I gave them a cheerful wave and headed for the St. Mary’s River, along which I would ride for the next hour or so, to Antigonish.

 I stopped near the town of Liscomb to take a short break.

I stopped near the town of Liscomb to take a short break.

This section of road was bumpy and uneven for the first half hour and then turned into the usual smooth surface which I had become accustomed to in Canada… This central part of the province is heavily forested, and although I never encountered any logging trucks, I remember the air being laced with the sticky sweet smell of pine resin, which was a sure sign that trees were being felled in the area…

 In some areas I rode through a light mist that gave the bush on either side of the road a ghostly appearence...

In some areas, we rode through a light mist that gave the bush on either side of the road a ghostly appearance…

At Sherbrooke, I turned north for Antigonish, figuring Wine Harbour might be too liquid a distraction !!

At Sherbrooke, I turned north for Antigonish, figuring Wine Harbour might be too liquid a distraction !!

At Pictou I had to make a hasty decision - Ferry or Long Way Round !!

At Pictou I had to make a hasty decision – Ferry or Long Way Round !!

The villages were small and distances between them substantial. I rode for long periods without seeing a single living thing, and then would suddenly come across a few dwellings tucked in amongst the trees on either side of the road…

Places like Aspen, Lochaber, Glen Alpine and Ashdale passed behind me just as soon as I had entered them, the mist quickly hiding them from view…

I reached Antigonish around midday and wasted no time in heading west along the highway to New Glasgow, and from there on to Pictou, where I stopped to consider my options for getting to Prince Edward Island.

I could take the ferry across from Caribou, a few kilometres from where I was sitting the Big Fella while cars and trucks rushed by me to make the next ferry crossing, or, I could ride along the Sunrise Trail, which wound it’s way along the Northumberland Coast, all the way back into New Brunswick. From there I could cross over to P.E.I. on the Confederation Bridge which joined these two provinces.

The Sunrise Trail was a hasslefree and beautiful stretch of the Northumberland Shore.

The Sunrise Trail was a hassle-free and beautiful stretch of the Northumberland Shore.

I made a call to Patricia to find out how far along the road she was, driving with Ken and Karen who had passed through Camden on their way up from New Jersey, and collected Patricia for the ride to P.E.I. …

By my reckoning, I would intersect the highway they were on about an hour behind them, whilst if I took the ferry, I would possibly arrive in Charlottetown an hour ahead of them… I decided rather to stay on the road and took to the Sunrise Trail with gusto…

Which I regretted a few minutes later, when I was caught in a thunderstorm and had no time to change into my rain gear before I was thoroughly soaked… The storm passed over as suddenly as it had arrived, and although the sun never really shone through again, it did get warm enough to dry my kit before I reached the New Brunswick border…

The Sunrise Trail was as sparsely populated as the Marine Drive had been, and just as beautiful. I passed through towns with names like Tatamagouche, and Malagash, with their Indian heritages; and then through others such as Wallace and Port Philip and Port Howe, quaint villages with their Scottish origins…

Somewhere between Pugwash and Linden, I came up from behind what I thought was a horse grazing on the side of the road, and slowed down, well versed at how skittish and easily spooked a horse can be… Imagine my surprise when the “horse” lifted its head and turned out to be a female moose !! It’s jaws stopped chewing while it craned its head along its right flank to take a good look at me…

By then I was drawing abreast of the beast, and with a snort, it leapt forward and then off to one side and quickly disappeared into the thick bush growing alongside the road…

This would be the first and last wild moose that I would see, despite the many road-signs warning motorists to be wary of them… Personally, I think the moose thing is a bit of a hoax !!

Heading for the massive bridge lonking New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island.

Heading for the massive bridge linking New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island.

Earlier that same afternoon, three Red Deer had bounded across the road a short distance in front of me, causing me to grab a handful of front brake, in case more of them were about to cross… The last thing I wanted, after five days of hard riding, was to miss the wedding on account of the local wildlife !!

I crossed into New Brunswick at the tiny town of Tidnish, and turned right onto Highway 16, which led straight towards Cape Tormentine and the Confederation Bridge. This bridge crosses the Northumberland Strait, and is 13 km long. It took four years to build and was opened to traffic in May 1997.

It brought a huge influx of tourism to Prince Edward Island, which although has benefitted many, has left others wishing back to the good old days when there was far less traffic and only the ferry to connect them to the mainland…

I arrived in Charlottetown barely half an hour after Patricia had, and met her at the front desk, where she was making enquiries about one thing or another… Probably getting info on the nearest Yoga or Pilates studio…!!

Our hotel was on the main road leading into town and later that first evening, we attended a special dinner for close family of the bride and groom. Shortly after dinner, I decided to take a cab back to the hotel, rather than stay out late.

It had been a long day for me and all I wanted to do was lie down and study the inside of my eyelids…

At the Super 8 in Charlottetown, the Big Fella had company from the same stable...

At the Super 8 in Charlottetown, the Big Fella had company from the same stable…

I had once again made it to a wedding with less than a day to spare, and this time, had ridden 2 600 kilometres in five days to get there… The ride around Nova Scotia had been well worth it and I would see more of this province in a little more than a week, and was looking forward to exploring Cape Breton before heading to Newfoundland…

©GBWT 2013

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