Posts By Country




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

 

August 7th, 2013 | Canada

Prince Edward Island…

Prince Edward Island, or just P.E.I., as it is most often referred to, is Canada’s smallest province, both in area and population. It lies cradled between three other provinces; to the west by New Brunswick province, to the south by Nova Scotia; and to the east by Cape Breton Island, and is separated from all three, by the Northumberland Strait.

Ode to Prince Edward Islanders...

Ode to Prince Edward Islanders…

This relatively small island’s rich soil, accounts for 25% of Canada’s potato production, and forms the backbone of PEI’s economy. With a population of only a little over 140 000 people, you are never going to experience any “bustle” on PEI… The roads are generally quiet, their surfaces as good as any you’ll find on the mainland, and when the weather is good, makes for the perfect outing by bike…

In summer, it is a popular destination for bikers, who use both methods of getting onto and back off the island when touring Canada’s eastern provinces. You can ride onto PEI using the Confederation Bridge, where you only pay to leave the island from, and then take the ferry from Wood Island Harbour in the south-east, across the strait to Caribou in Nova Scotia. The cost for a bike and rider is about $100.00…

Apart from the sight of vast swathes of potato plant, we also came across fields of Canola and maize...

Apart from the sight of vast swathes of potato plant, we also came across fields of Canola and maize…

The island is covered in rolling green hills, much of it given over to farming, which I guess accounts for the slower pace and general relaxed attitude I felt throughout my stay. Tourists come here to experience the peace and quiet of the countryside, renting bicycles and taking on the long cycle trails that have been laid out from one end of the island to the other…

The coastline also attracts visitors to some of the best beaches in Canada, and long walks taken along red sandstone cliffs, through salt water marshes and around the many small bay and natural harbours, keeps them coming back year after year… Or should I say, summer after summer, because just like most other provinces in this part of Canada, PEI is covered in snow for much of the winter.

Patricia and I smiled to each other as we came upon this place at Rustico Harbour. We had been married at a place with the same name on Sandy Hook, New Jersey.

Patricia and I smiled to each other as we came upon this place at Rustico Harbour. We had been married at a place with the same name on Sandy Hook, New Jersey.

With the wedding festivities behind us, and before the family dispersed back to their homes in the USA, Patricia and I joined Donna and Mimi on a short tour of the northern shores of the island. The weather was the best on the day we drove out, but in places the sun shone through and still made for an enjoyable day out.

Blueberry Pumphouse Ale, a beer I actually came to enjoy...

Blueberry Pumphouse Ale, a beer I actually came to enjoy…

 It took four of us to get to the bottom of this huge bowl of fresh mussels...

It took four of us to get to the bottom of this huge bowl of fresh mussells…

We headed north out of Charlottetown on what is known as the Blue Heron Coastal Drive, and followed the shoreline through the lush green countryside, all the way west to North Rustico Harbour, where we sat down to lunch, just moments before a rain-squall passed over us.

It rained on and off for the rest of the afternoon, canceling our plans to find a beach to swim at and relax on, and sending us scuttling back to the house we were now sharing with Sally and Richard.

The beautiful, two-storey historical home, was situated out on the tongue of land, that juts out into Hillsborough Bay, about 20 km south of Charlottetown. This would be our base for the remainder of our stay on the island, and on winding country roads, through potato fields and dairy farms, Charlottetown was an interesting and short ride away… We made this ride often, as Patricia had very quickly discovered where the yoga studio was located…

Rustico Harbour Lighthouse, still functioning today, having been built in 1899.

Rustico Harbour Lighthouse, still functioning today, having been built in 1899.

While we ate at sidewalk cafes, tourists passed us in horse drawn carriages, touring the historical sights of Charlottetown.

While we ate at sidewalk cafes, tourists passed us in horse-drawn carriages, touring the historical sites of Charlottetown.

I would take her into town on the Big Fella, and while she took a class, I would explore the areas to the north and west of Charlottetown. Afterwards, we took strolls through the area near the harbor, and ate at sidewalk cafes, enjoying the un-hurried pace of life around us…

It was during this time that we began making plans to spend an extended period of time down in Georgia, as I was still negotiating the details of job offers from back home, and wasn’t quite sure where exactly I wanted to settle once we returned.

Or they took the Hippo Bus, which surged out of the waters of the harbour nearby and drove on to other landlocked sights of interest...

Or they took the Hippo Bus, which surged out of the waters of the harbour nearby and drove on to other landlocked sites of interest…

We figured that it would be best for us to stay in the USA until later in the year, and make a fresh start in South Africa in January…

Contrary to popular belief, my middle name is not Rockefeller, so during this period, one of us would have to work !! This onerous task would have to be filled by the ever-willing Patricia, as my visa did not allow for work related opportunities in the USA…

Patricia made a few calls to friends in Georgia and within a few days had confirmed a teaching position on Sea Island. “Knowing” that I would have another 90 days to stay in the USA after my return from Canada, we put our concerns about our imminent move to South Africa on hold, and instead talked about the things we could accomplish down in Georgia, before the end of November…

When Patricia wasn't chatting up strangers...

When Patricia wasn’t chatting up strangers…

 ...she was talking to Tuna...

…she was talking to Tuna…

We spent our last day together on PEI, taking a long ride on the Big Fella. We left the house early in the morning and headed out on a big loop that would cover most of the eastern part of the island.

The Heritage House which was rented by Sally and Richard, and where Patricia and I moved to after the wedding...

The Heritage House which was rented by Sally and Richard, and where Patricia and I moved to after the wedding…

Our first stop was at the Wood Islands ferry terminal, where I wanted to check on the sailing schedules to Caribou in Nova Scotia. We had breakfast at the little diner in the harbor, while I tried to figure which sailing would suit me best. Patricia would be heading back to Maine the following day, while I was heading to Cape Breton and Newfoundland, and would meet up with her in New Jersey in a few weeks time, and then head to Brunswick in Georgia.

From Wood Island, we rode along the coast, passing through Little Sands and High Bank, to Guernsey Cove, where we cut across the peninsula to Murray Harbour, and from there to the touristy town of Murray River. We were finding that the eastern part of the island was far prettier than the windswept western side had been a few days earlier. The weather was perfect, although it was a little chilly being on the bike…

From Murray River, we took the road leading directly to Montague, and from there to Cardigan and Dundas, along a beautiful country road, free of traffic. As we rode, we pointed out things of interest to each other, and my face wore a happy smile at the thought of Patricia sitting up behind me, and enjoying the ride…

I often dropped my left hand and squeezed her left knee to indicate how much I enjoyed having her with me on the Big Fella. She would wrap her arms around my chest and hug me in response… My smile got even wider !!

Souris Harbour, where the ferry leaves for the island of St. Madelaine, 134 km away...

Souris Harbour, where the ferry leaves for the island of St. Madelaine, 134 km away…

We were desperate to find a beach where we could relax and swim at, so skipped some of the coastline and headed for the town of Souris, where we stopped to look at the lighthouse there and take some photos of the harbor. We were told that the best beach along this part of the coast was at Basin Head. It had recently been voted as the best beach in Canada, and along with the other white sands beach at Red Point, was our best option…

The ubiquitous square, pyramidal wooden Canadian  lighthouse at Souris...

The ubiquitous square, pyramidal wooden Canadian lighthouse at Souris…

Many of the beaches on PEI are made of red sand, which I had found to be more mud than sand.  It was by now mid-afternoon, and we still had a number of places we wanted to see after our trip to the beach, so we picked up the pace, and rode quickly through the villages of Chepstow, Little Harbour and Red Point, to Kingsboro, where we took the turn-of down to Basin Head Beach…

Basin Head Beach near Kingsboro. We were not the first to arrive...

Basin Head Beach near Kingsboro. We were not the first to arrive…

The parking area was filled with hundreds of vehicles, the beach was crowded from one end to the other, but we managed to find an open spot and went directly into the water for a swim. It was cold, but not as cold as Montauk on Long Island had been.. We took a long stroll along the shore, then headed back to where we had left our bags and prepared to continue our ride.

The white silica sand found at Basin Head is unique to this part of the coastline of Prince Edward, and the sand grains cause a scrubbing noise as they rub against each other when walked on, and are known by locals as the “singing sands”.

Patricia has an impromptu yoga session on the Singing Sands of Basin Head...

Patricia has an impromptu yoga session on the Singing Sands of Basin Head…

We stopped to watch people jumping off the wooden bridge and into the river which carried them out onto the beach. Had we spent the day there, no doubt Patricia and I would have taken a few turns ourselves…

Bridge jumpers at Basin Head. It looked like fun. Once in the water, the river washes you out to sea, onto a shallow sand bank, where you can then clamber back onto the shire and take another turn at jumping off the bridge...

Bridge jumpers at Basin Head. It looked like fun. Once in the water, the river washes you out to sea, onto a shallow sand bank, where you can then clamber back onto the shire and take another turn at jumping off the bridge…

From Basin head we rode to the most eastern tip of the island, to where the East Point lighthouse is situated, a popular tourist destination and a beautiful spot to visit.

We spent some time taking photos and checking out the little curio shop, where “Sea Glass” (pieces of glass washed up onto the shore) sold for $5.00 a piece !! This part of the island was known for the odd bit of piracy and smuggling in days of yore, and I saw a few interesting signs with a Pirate Theme that I thought were quite funny.

One said: “PIRACY : It’s all fun and games until somebody loses an eye !” and another which really got me giggling because it reminded me of my days in the army, “Beatings will continue until Morale improves !”…

East Point Lighthouse...

East Point Lighthouse…

The Big Fella waits patiemtly while Patricia figures out if she need her jacket or not...

The Big Fella waits patiently while Patricia figures out if she need her jacket or not…

The Red Sandstone Cliffs of the eastern coastline...

The Red Sandstone Cliffs of the eastern coastline…

From East Point, we followed the coastal road to Campbell’s Cove and on to Priest Pond and rock Barra. It was there we saw a sign for the Prince Edward Distillery near Hermansville, and decided to stop there and take the short tour on offer. The fact that it included a tasting of five or six of the liquors distilled there had nothing to do with our decision…

We felt a visit to the ditellery was a must. The cold wind that had sprung up required some medicinal remedies...

We felt a visit to the distillery was a must. The cold wind that had sprung up required some medicinal remedies…

We spent a pleasant hour there, chatting to the tour guide who just happened to own a 1200 GS himself, while sipping on gin, vodka, whisky and rum… I never felt the cold wind that sprang up on the way home…

We were shown the various processes that potatoes are put through to make the purest vodka...

We were shown the various processes that potatoes are put through to make the purest vodka…

Raw material and finished product on display...

Raw material and finished product on display…

"One barrel or two, Honey...??"... "Just the one, Dear, we're on the bike remember...!!"

“One barrel or two, Honey…??”… “Just the one, Dear, we’re on the bike remember…!!”

 ...and occasionally roasted or in the form of fries...!!

…and occasionally roasted or in the form of fries…!!

 It does...!!

It does…!!

Couldn't agree more...

Couldn’t agree more…

We had skipped lunch in favour of sitting on the beach and taking the distillery tour, and by late afternoon, both Patricia and I were feeling rather peckish…

I had been eyeing the large bowl of Blueberries that were on display to show some of the many ingredients that went into making their Vodka’s and Gins, and it had taken an enormous amount of willpower to stop myself from snatching a handful, and cramming them into my mouth…

Even the raw potatoes were beginning to look good !! I was that hungry !!

Another one of the many funky t-shirts on sale at the distillery...

Another one of the many funky t-shirts on sale at the distillery…

Our guide advised us to try a local restaurant at Shipwreck Cove, where many of the locals apparently ate.

He gave us detailed instruction on how to get there and mentioned a “short-cut” that would save us a few kilometres…

We whizzed down the road, past Clear Springs and St. Margarets, took the turnoff which led down to the sea, and wound between fairly thick coastal forest… The road was cracked and patched in many places, and I was just beginning to wonder if this short cut would end in a dirt track somewhere, when out in the distance I saw the roofs of a few buildings that meant we were close to Shipwreck Point… Just before the little harbor, the road crossed a narrow, one-lane wooden bridge which must be the scene of quite a few accidents, as from its eastern approach, you cannot see any oncoming traffic until you are actually on the bridge itself !!The road comes around a sharp s-bend and when you look up, the bridge is only a few metres away and a good few metres above eye-level. It brings on one of those “OMG !!” moments that bikers sometimes have when you fly over a steep hill onto a very short unseen part of the road that ends in a very sharp turn to the left or right !!

With this bridge, there is no point in braking or stopping when you reach it, because if a car is coming the other way, you are not going to see each other at all, and he is going to hit you anyway !!

The narrow wooden bridge leading to Shipwreck Point... They should call this Car-wreck Point...

The narrow wooden bridge leading to Shipwreck Point… They should call this Car-wreck Point…

The Shipwreck Restaurant is a short distance further on and the parking lot was crowded when we arrived there. The food at the restaurant was a huge disappointment to Patricia (to me it was just food !!).

We had stood in a queue for half an hour, just to get into the restaurant, and then had to wait longer than usual to be served and finally get what we had ordered… Perhaps they were just too busy on this sunny day, but in the end , we were sorry that we did not ride on to St. Peters, a short distance away, and eat at the same place that Patricia and her sisters had enjoyed a meal a few days previously….

Might be ok for the locals, but we weren't impressed...

Might be ok for the locals, but we weren’t impressed…

We had to stop at St. Peters to refuel anyway, skirting the Bay of the same name, before continuing south-west to Morell and Mount Stewart, on the Hillsborough River. This, the largest river on the island, almost cuts PEI in half, flowing all the way through Charlottetown and into the Northumberland Strait.

We followed the river to where it crossed the long bridge into the city, and then cruised down the main street until we rejoined the highway that would take us out towards Cornwall and Meadow Bank, across the West River to New Dominion and Rocky Point. By now I knew all the bends and kinks in this country road and for a moment forgot that I had Patricia on board, and gave the throttle a good twist to take the Big Fella flying through a few corners…

She quickly reminded me she was there by clamping down on my shoulder muscles with enough force to make me cry out in pain !! Needless to say, the last stretch of our ride to Cumberland was taken at a sedate pace…

We enjoyed a last supper with Sally and Richard, as we were all leaving the following morning. I decided to take the cheaper option for leaving the Island, by using the Confederation Bridge, and paying the $19.50 toll, than the $100 it would have cost to take the ferry. I wanted to ride the Sunrise Trail again anyway, and see some of the places I had missed out on, on my way onto Prince Edward Island the week before…

There was something different about the shadow that chased us home that day...!!

There was something different about the shadow that chased us home that day…!!

I packed my gear onto the bike that same evening, and spent a quiet few hours chatting to Patricia about our plans for the next few months… The weight of having to return to South Africa in the very near future was off my shoulders, and I could now concentrate on planning my ride to Cape Breton, Newfoundland and perhaps even Labrador…

I was finding it more and more difficult to leave her on her own while I enjoyed the guilty pleasures of the long distance riding I had come to enjoy so much… I took a little heart that this did give Patricia time to spend with her family, who once she had left for South Africa, would probably not see her again for another year at least…

Still, being apart was sitting less and less comfortable with me, and if anything, at times I felt pangs of loneliness which I had not experienced for a long, long time…

Apparently, being married to a woman you love to bits, will do that sort of thing to you !!

©GBWT 2013

August 4th, 2013 | Canada

Tiernan and Rachel’s Wedding…

After a quiet morning at our hotel, Patricia and I unpacked our “wedding gear” in preparation for Tiernan and Rachel’s wedding, which was to be held later that afternoon.

I am continually amazed at how my wife can conjure up a beautiful ensemble from a suitcase that looks as if it doubles as a laundry basket !! Once the zipper on her suitcase is released, the lid springs back as if on a tightly wound spring, chipping paint off walls and denting furniture, to reveal what seems like enough clothes to open a small store with !!

My suit on the other hand, had been carefully and lovingly transported, and dry-cleaned by Donna, Patricia’s sister, still in its original plastic cover, up and down the East Coast, from Maine to New Jersey (twice) and now from Maine to Prince Edward Island !! This suit is now more than ever, the official “Wedding Suit”, as I have only worn it five times, and every one of those occasions was to a wedding, one of them my own !!

The wedding took place on Rachel’s father’s farm, a short distance outside Charlottetown.

Tiernan and Rachel's wedding took place in a beautiful country setting, overlooking vineyards and a section of the West River.

Tiernan and Rachel’s wedding took place in a beautiful country setting, overlooking vineyards and a section of the West River.

Up until the point at which yarmulke’s were  handed out to all the men attending the wedding, I had no idea that this was to be a Jewish Wedding ceremony. On the few occasions that I had met Rachel, the topic of our religious affiliations had never entered the conversation, so I for one was understandably taken by surprise !

Very few of us had ever attended a Jewish wedding, and were keen to experience the different customs that the ceremony would be comprised of.

 Tiernan's sisters, Mikaela and Caitlin were bridesmaids, while Rachel's brothers, acted as groomsmen.

Tiernan’s sisters, Mikaela and Caitlin were bridesmaids, while Rachel’s brothers, acted as groomsmen.

A simple “chuppah”, or canopy had been erected near the vineyard, under which the couple were to take their vows. This canopy symbolizes the home that the newly married couple with build together. It is open on all four sides to signify unconditional hospitality… Sid and his sons had built the chuppah from boughs and stout branches. Simple and effective, and more than fitting, considering the beautiful venue…

 Sidney and Janet escort the radiant Rachel, down the grassy aisle...

Sidney and Janet escort the radiant Rachel, down the grassy aisle…

Richard Mennen, proud father of the groom, watches as his future daughter-in-law is led towards the Chuppah.

Richard Mennen, proud father of the groom, watches as his future daughter-in-law is led towards the Chuppah.

The simple, yet meaningful and beautiful ceremony took place against the backdrop of a portion of the West River, and a small vineyard that Sid hopes will produce enough fruit to start a winery. Above us, thick cloud threatened rain, but, as if to bless this special occasion, during a large portion of the ceremony, a rainbow hung out over the horizon… It was one of those magical moments in time…

 Rachel's parents, Sid and Janet look on as their daughter makes her pledge to Tiernan.

Rachel’s parents, Sid and Janet look on as their daughter makes her pledge to Tiernan.

The ceremony was conducted by a close friend of Richard’s, in both Hebrew and English,  and throughout the process he took time to explain the various stages of the procedure to us. For many of us, this gave us further insight into Jewish traditions and values.

 Rachel and Tiernam circled each other seven times during the ceremony, figuratively building the walls of their new life together.

Rachel and Tiernan circled each other seven times during one part of the ceremony, figuratively building the walls of their new life together.

After the exchange of vows and wedding rings had taken place, a wine glass, wrapped in a linen cloth, was broken under the heel of Tiernan’s shoe, which signifies that the couple identifies with the spiritual and national destiny of the Jewish people. It might also signifies the last time that Tiernan will get to “put his foot down” !!

At the end of the ceremony, the couple placed a hand on each other’s heads, and while I cannot recall the significance of this, it was for me a very touching part of what had been a moving and emotional coming together of two loving people…

"See Rachel, I am taller than you !!"

“See Rachel, I am taller than you !!”

The beautiful Mrs. Borrageiro and her Gypsy Biker husband.

The beautiful Mrs. Borrageiro and her Gypsy Biker husband.

We moved on to a large barn nearby, which had been renovated for the occasion, and where we ate and danced until well after midnight, celebrating this joyous event with Tiernan, Rachel and their families.

Ken prepares to feast... With chicken, no bib required...

Ken prepares to feast… With chicken, no bib required…

After a very hot bath, Patricia's lobster arrives at the table... I focused intently on my chicken

After a very hot bath, Patricia’s lobster arrives at the table… I focused intently on my chicken

Dinner consisted of either Lobster or chicken, and when one of the waitresses came around to confirm what we had ordered, I was horrified to discover that somehow the lobster had been allocated to me !!

I hurriedly entered negotiations with her to change that to chicken, as I do not do “crustaceans in their shell”, not in public, nor in private !!

The time and effort it takes to remove so little flesh from so much shell, in the case of crab or lobster, or crayfish for that matter, is just not worth the effort to my mind !!

And then there’s the messiness of having to use your hands to get to those hard to get bits of flesh… Sorry, that’s just not for me… Forks and knives were invented for good reason !! The chicken was delicious, by the way…

The following morning we returned to the farm to enjoy a late breakfast with the families of both bride and groom, and spent the morning taking walks down to the water’s edge and among the vineyards, and catching up with friends and family whom we had not had to opportunity to chat to the previous evening.

Once again, it had been well worth the effort of a long ride, to be at this very special event, marking a very special day in the lives of Tiernan and Rachel.

We wish them the very best of luck, and a long life together, filled with happiness and much joy !!

©GBWT 2013

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

August 1st, 2013 | Canada

Digby to Halifax – The Lighthouse Trail…

I left Digby after lunch, and knew I would have to ride hard to follow my original route to Halifax, mostly along the Lighthouse Trail on the western and southern coast of Nova Scotia.

First port of call after Digby, would be Yarmouth, barely an hour away.

First port of call after Digby, would be Yarmouth, barely an hour away.

The first hour of my ride was an easy one, all the way along the coast oh Highway 101. Traffic was light and when I stopped in Yarmouth to refuel and have a late lunch, I asked about the lighthouse at Cape Forchu. The lady behind the counter at the rest stop had never been there, although she admitted to having lived in Yarmouth for “over 10 years”…!!

This portion of Nova Scotia is famous for it's French influence, dating back to the early 1700's...

This portion of Nova Scotia is famous for it’s French influence, dating back to the early 1700’s…

“There must be an awful lot of interesting things to do in Yarmouth if after 10 years you still haven’t visited your local lighthouse !!”, I quipped…

This was probably the umpteenth time that a local resident of an area I was interested in, could not guide me to a monument or landmark in their hometown… I am amazed that some people don’t have the faintest idea of the historical value of their places of abode !!

Looking at my watch, I saw that it was already 2.30 pm and I had a long way to go before I reached Halifax. Taking into consideration that I intended to ride along the far slower coastal road, rather than the highway, I figured I would see many other lighthouses along the way, and therefore decided to forego a visit to the Yarmouth one.

Hugging the rocky coastline, I passed through the tiny settlements of Pubnico, Charlesville, and Upper and Lower Woods Harbor, before arriving at a place that had me grinning to myself…

Imagine living in a place with this name… And I wonder if any of these locals had an interesting story or two to tell about how this place got it’s name !!

Question is, What exactly are you keeping a light on, in Shag Harbour...!!

Question is, What exactly are you keeping a light on, in Shag Harbour…!!

I made a U-turn and headed back to the parking and viewing area near a newly built fish and lobster processing factory, where I read up on some of the local history… I was disappointed to discover that the harbor is named after the many cormorants found in this area. They are known as Shags !! Who would have thought !!

 I nearly fell off the bike when I saw the sign to this little fishing village.

I nearly fell off the bike when I saw the sign to this little fishing village.

 It seems I was not the only foreign visitor interested in Shag Harbor !!

It seems I was not the only foreign visitor interested in Shag Harbor !!

The incident is part of local folklore and accepted by most, that it did indeed take place...

The incident is part of local folklore and accepted by most, that it did indeed take place…

 

The Big Fella waits patiently and bemused while I read up on the UFO incident...

The Big Fella waits patiently and bemused while I read up on the UFO incident…

A little ways down the road, was a museum dedicated solely to the UFO incident, proof positive that the locals took the sighting very seriously !

One of the few lighthouses I did get to see on the Lighthouse Trail... This one at Barrington.

One of the few lighthouses I did get to see on the Lighthouse Trail… This one at Barrington. Photo taken from the back yard of a private residence !!

I rode east and then north along the twisting road to Barrington; through the bustling little town and on the eastern outskirts, spotted a lighthouse that I wanted to get a closer look at. I saw a narrow driveway and thought this was the entry point. It was only when I began dodging washing hanging out to dry, that I realized I was in somebody’s back garden !!

 Getting to see them all would require far more time than I had available to me...

Getting to see them all would require far more time than I had available to me…

I tried to turn around as quietly as possible without alerting the residents, but to no avail ! A little boy ran out into the yard, followed by his mother, who with a smile on her face asked if I was there to see the lighthouse. She pointed further down the hill, showing me where the official parking place was and told me that I was not the first to make the mistake of riding into her yard to see the Barrington lighthouse.

I apologized for the intrusion and prepared to leave. The little boy was hopping from one foot to the other, trying to chip in with questions about the bike. I answered as many as I could, before his mother said I could park the bike where it was as long as I kept her son out of her hair for a while !!

I answered his queries about the bike and where I had been while walking up the hill to take a look at the lighthouse. It was closed, a big padlock on the door. I discovered that this was a replica of the actual Seal Island Lighthouse which was built on the island just offshore, and is the oldest wooden lighthouse in Nova Scotia.

I later bid the little boy goodbye and rode out of their yard and back onto the main road, feeling a few droplets of rain on my cheeks as I did so. The low grey clouds that seemed to envelop the entire southern shoreline, were threatening to dump their liquid contents and ruin the ride I had planned…

For the next few hours I rode along the windswept coastline, through many small villages where grizzled fisherman carried their day’s catch from their boats to waiting pick-up trucks parked at odd places along the shore. Many of them had homes built on the edge of the sea and tied their boats up almost at the front door !

The road looped around many small bays before ending back on the main highway to Halifax, and as it was getting colder and wetter the further east I rode, I decided to skip parts of the coastal road and make up some time to get to my destination before nightfall.

The Bluenose was a famous fishing and racing  schooner built in Lunenburg in1921.

The Bluenose was a famous fishing and racing schooner built in Lunenburg in1921.

At Bridgewater, I stopped to consult my original route, and decided that apart from one more loop down to the coast, I would stay on the highway and at least avoid some of the high winds that were beginning to batter the coastline. I rode on to Chester and took the road that led down to Blandford and Bayswater, skirting the eastern side of Mahone Bay and then turned north and rode along the western edge of Margaret’s Bay.

This was a beautiful stretch of the coast, and with the weather seeming to keep most people indoors, the roads were as near as empty as could be. Thick forest on my left, and seascapes on my right for most of the ride. Despite the damp conditions where light rain had either fallen before I got there, or was settling over me like a wet misty blanket, I found enough grip in the tyres to have a little fun out there…

In places where I could see far ahead, I used both sides of the road to push the Big Fella through corners as fast as I was able to… It was the most exhilarating part of the day for me, and had there been time, I would have gladly did this section again…

The Stardust Motel in Halifax was where I finally got to spend the night...

The Stardust Motel in Halifax was where I finally got to spend the night…

My damp riding kit and the cold wind, began to tell on my exuberance eventually, and once back on the highway, I made a beeline for Halifax, arriving there in the gloom of late evening.

I began searching for a place to spend the night and was turned away by four different hotels and told that I was unlikely to find a room in Halifax itself. This was due to the fact that it was a public holiday on Friday, and many people had come to the city to spend the long weekend. I also discovered that the rock band KISS were having a concert there on Friday and Saturday night, and this had brought even more people to the city than was usual !!

“Kiss ??” I said to the one hotel manager, “Are they still alive ??”

He laughed and said, “Well they shouldn’t be !!”

I was a big fan of KISS back in the day, and remember writing four of my final matric exams with my face painted like Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley, Peter Criss and Paul Stanley… I also wrote one with my face painted like Adam Ant !! Ah, those were the days of my rebellious youth… My high school teachers let out a sigh of relief that was heard around the province when I left the school gates for the last time !!

I eventually left the city and headed north to the town of Bedford, where from the edge of the highway, I saw a neon sign for the Stardust Motel, and looped back to check if they had a room available for me. They did indeed, and after settling in, I was able to stroll across the parking lot and enjoy a decent meal at the Thai restaurant attached to the motel…

I was on track to get to Tiernan’s wedding in time, but only just ! A year ago, I would never have bothered setting out on a ride at lunchtime on any given day. I far preferred to be out on the road by 8.00 am the latest, and put in a full day’s ride to complete whatever route I had planned.

With the longer daylight hours up here in northern Canada, I was happy to ride into the late evening to get to where I wanted to be, and today had been one of those days. It had taken almost seven hours to cover the 420 km I had ridden, and I had managed to find the time to enjoy the scenery and stop to check out some of the interesting sights along the way.

I had covered almost the entire eastern and southern coastline of Nova Scotia in the last two days, and tomorrow would complete the southern section and then ride up and do most of the northern coastline of this province, before crossing over to Prince Edward Island, for my rendezvous with family and friends to witness the fifth wedding I have attended with them over the past 22 months !!

Today's action...

Today’s action… Digby to Halifax.

 ©GBWT 2013

August 1st, 2013 | Canada

Into Nova Scotia – The Long Way Round !!

It was colder in New Brunswick than it had been in Maine, and it began to dawn on me that I probably did not have enough cold weather gear with me. I had left the large silver duffel bag that contained my neck warmers and spare gloves back in New Jersey, believing that I wouldn’t be needing them. It was summer after all !!

I left Saint John and rode down to St. Martins on the Bay of Fundy, planning to ride along the coast to Hopewell to take in the scenic coastal route which had been recommended to me by so many bikers I had come into contact with over the past few weeks.

 One of many covered bridges I rode across in Canada. This one close to St. Martins.

One of many covered bridges I rode across in Canada. This one close to St. Martins.

The Bay of Fundy is known for having the highest range of tides in the world. It lies between the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and in 1975 a difference in low and high tides of 14,5 metres was measured !! That is almost 50 feet !! It is difficult to wrap your head around these figures, and I imagine a lot of thought had been given to the places where harbours and jetties were built !!

 High and dry in St. Martins on the Bay of Fundy.

High and dry in St. Martins on the Bay of Fundy. The tide was still going out at this point and further along the coast I would see further evidence of just how low it could get !!

This little restaurant is world famous apparently... St. Martins is s short ride from Saint John, and a popular weekend outing for locals

This little restaurant is world-famous apparently… St. Martins is s short ride from Saint John, and a popular weekend outing for locals

When you consider that there are two high and two low tides every day, you can imagine just how quickly a boat goes from bobbing on the ocean to stranded in mud !

St Martins was a much smaller town that I had expected. I rode down to the little harbor and sat watching a few families gathering shellfish off the rocks left exposed by the outgoing tide, and digging in the mud for what I presumed to be scallops.

After a shot break doing this I took a look at the Gi-Gi’s screen and noticed that she was urging us to ride straight through the town and onto what seemed like a dirt road a few hundred yards away… I assumed that this road would lead back to a paved road that would take us back to the highway leading to the Alma National Park, which led down to the coast again. I knew there wasn’t a decent road that would take me all along the coast to Alma…

The dirt road led between house and in some parts was covered by a thin sheet of water from the previous night’s rain… I rode carefully through and around the puddles and got deeper and deeper into the woods…

“Woman, where are you taking us ??” I mumbled, noticing that the few houses that I had been seeing were rapidly thinning out and only a long narrow dirt road lay ahead…

I guess I should have stopped and took a closer look at the road I had downloaded, but the road had turned into one littered by loose shale and small rocks and I was too busy ensuring that we did not come a-cropper. Besides, I was actually enjoying being on dirt again and had settled into a comfortably position, standing up on the pegs, and using the power of the engine beneath me to surge through the trickier bits…

 This was not part of the plan !! Spent the next two hours on dirt roads, dodging logging trucks...

This was not part of the plan !! Spent the next two hours on dirt roads, dodging logging trucks…

 The road became smoother and I finally stopped to check where the hell I was and more importantly, where we were heading !! I had covered about 10 km by then, and was by now certain that a paved road lay off to the north of where I was, but how to get across to it was the burning question…

I was sitting the bike in the shade thrown by the conifers on either side of the road, Bryan Adams giving it all he was worth in my earphones, when a huge truck coming up from behind me, roared past and caused all sorts of unnecessary palpitations in my chest region… I got such a fright that I almost fell off the bike !!

 Like this one, whose driver stopped to ask if I was lost...

Trucks like this one, whose driver stopped to ask if I was lost…

The driver leaned out of the cab and waved at me, his arm quickly disappearing from view in the thick dust his behemoth was throwing up into the still air… I waved and shouted, “Bastard !!” as loud as I could, then began laughing hysterically to myself, as I imagined how funny it would have looked if I had fallen off the bike as he passed… A real You-Tube moment that would have been !!

Gi-Gi indicated that we would be making a left turn in another 10 km and I made the second incorrect assumption of the day, that this would take us back onto a paved road… One dirt road led to another, some of them barely wide enough to allow a single vehicle to drive along… I encountered many more logging trucks, mostly coming towards me, and a few small logging operations where heavy machinery was hauling trees out of the forest, and dragging huge chunks of soil and mud into the road, just to make what was turning into an interesting morning, even more difficult…!!

The scene of the bloodthirsty attack by Canada's voracious mosquitoes...

The scene of the bloodthirsty attack by Canada’s voracious mosquitoes…

At this point I had already resigned myself to the fact that it was going to be a much longer day than I had anticipated. Sundown was due at about 8.00 pm, and I knew that I would need all of the daylight hours available to get to Digby. I stopped to take a break next to a large patch of purple Lupins, and thought that taking a photo from amongst the flowers, with the Big Fella in the background would be a good idea.

BIG mistake !! Just as I got into position, by clambering through shoulder high shrubbery to get behind the Lupins, a great cloud of ravenous mosquitoes descended upon me and two hands and arms were not nearly enough to swat the buggers away… Without even lifting the camera to take the shot, I bulldozed myself straight through the flowers and back onto the road, arms flailing and words coming from my mouth that I will not repeat here…

My hasty exit from the shrubbery had alerted every other mosquito for miles around and within minutes I was surrounded by clouds of the little buggers… I hastily put my helmet back on (the bumps on my head made by the mosquito bites making it more difficult than usual !!) and rode the hell away from the ambush site…

An hour later I found myself on the road to Alma, having traversed a huge swathe of natural forest filled with logging camps and kamikaze truck drivers… More dirt awaited me !! The road was being torn up and resurfaced, and sections of up to 10 km a time, had been converted in one lane tracks, and cars were being escorted along them by construction vehicles with flashing lights and “Follow Me” signs attached to their tailgates…

 Low tide, Chignecto Bay. Diving off the bridge at low tide is not encouraged...

Low tide, Chignecto Bay. Diving off the bridge at low tide is not encouraged…

A large group of bikers on Harleys, out for a weekend ride, turned back to find a smoother surface to ride on, leaving me behind with a wave and comments like “Stuff this, our bikes are going to get filthy in this stuff !!”… The Big Fella grunted in disgust as we watched them ride back along the paved road behind us…

After a few long delays, we finally reached Alma and Chignecto Bay, amazed at how much lower the tide had dropped since we had seen it in St. Martins a few hours ago. I pushed hard from that point on, enjoying the winding road that took us towards Hopewell Rocks, a famous landmark where the outgoing tide reveals huge boulders standing tall in the mud, and hours later are half covered by the next incoming tide.

Another example of the huge variation in tides on the Bay of Fundy...

Another example of the huge variation in tides on the Bay of Fundy…

Entrance to Hopewell Rocks. Expect a hefty fee and a long walk to see the rocks which can be viewed on almost every brochure advertising New Brunswick...

Entrance to Hopewell Rocks. Expect a hefty fee and a long walk to see the rocks which can be viewed on almost every brochure advertising New Brunswick…

I was tired by the time I arrived there, and discovered that to see the rocks, I would have had to pay a $12 entrance fee, and endure a 20 minute walk in full riding kit to see the rocks. I decided against it and instead went in search of the famous seafood chowder which I had been advised to try. Hopewell is just a small collection of buildings on the shore of the Bay. A well positioned motel with a restaurant and gift shop attached, advertised the famous chowder…

It was well after lunchtime and I was as ravenous as those mosquitoes I had encountered earlier !! I ordered a bowl of the chowder and at $14.95 a bowl, I was expecting a typical American-sized plate of food. I was sorely disappointed when the waitress arrived carrying a bowl that could easily fit in the palm of my hand !! I looked up at her and asked,

“Is this it ??”

“Yes, ” she replied rather proudly, “Our world famous chowder !!”

“Is it world famous because you charge so much for so little of it ??” I asked innocently…

She gave me a long, hard look, then flounced away to tell her fellow waitrons what I had asked. One of them went back into the kitchen and returned with a second bowl, winked at me and said,

“This one’s on the house. Enjoy !!”

I beamed happily at her and thanked her for the second bowl, passing the first to her as I did so, as I had already worked my way through it while she was out fetching me the second… See… Sometimes the odd wise-crack will bear positive results !!

From Hopewell I rode north along the Petitcodiac River, which empties into the bay, passing through Hillsborough and Stoney Creek, until I reached the large town of Moncton, where I hooked up with Highway 2 East and headed for the Nova Scotia border.

I crossed into this province close to the northern tip of the Cumberland Basin, at the very northern tip of the Bay of Fundy, and stopped at the visitor centre to grab the information brochure which would later help me to locate places to overnight while I traveled through Nova Scotia. I then got back on the highway, noticing that I still had 375 km before I got to Digby. It was 4.00 pm, and I had four hours of daylight left.

After a longer than planned detour, I finally arrived at the border to Nova Scotia. Digby was almost 400 km away, and another late night arrival was on the cards...

After a longer than planned detour, I finally arrived at the border to Nova Scotia. Digby was almost 400 km away, and another late night arrival was on the cards…

Another Canadian World Famous... The scallops lived up to their billing...

Another Canadian World Famous… The scallops lived up to their billing…

I stretched me back and shoulders, hopped back on the bike, pushed the starter button and hit the highway at three-quarter throttle. We zoomed south east for over an hour, then turned south at Truro and reached Brookfield shortly after that. I could have followed the highway further south and then turned west at Milford Station, but chose instead to cut across northern Nova Scotia via the backroads, hoping to encounter less traffic and roads that were a lot more interesting than the highway.

I chose correctly, as the road that led west to Kennetcook and Maple Grove was a beauty !! It wound through rolling countryside, up hill and down dale, across babbling streams and a few larger rivers, keeping me “honest” on a few tight bends that required complete focus on the heavily loaded bike…

I reached West Hants and rejoined the highway, crossed the Avon River and picked up speed on the wider road that led to Wolfville and North Alton. I stopped to refuel between the two towns, drank a bottle of Gatorade to keep hydrated and then rode the last 140 km in double quick time.

 I passed the town of Kingston, which is the same name as the farm on which Lion Sands is located back in the Sabi Sand Reserve back in eastern South Africa, and for a moment recalled all the wonderful times I had spent there… With a pang I realized how much I missed the African Bush and all the wonders it held.

 Bob, the owner of the Siesta Motel went out of his way to make my stay comfortable, and arranged for the local newspaper to come and interview me.

Bob, the owner of the Siesta Motel went out of his way to make my stay comfortable, and arranged for the local newspaper to come and interview me.

I think this was the moment when I began to accept that my journey would soon come to and end, and I would be returning to Africa in the near future. Hardly a day would pass over the next few weeks that I did not think of home…

I rode parallel to the Annapolis River, skirted Bridgetown, and then crossed the Bear River which emptied into the Annapolis Basin, and reached Digby just as the sun was setting. The first two motels I tried were fully booked, and I was directed down to the main road on the seashore, where I found the Siesta Motel.

The owner Bob checked me in and spent a good deal of time chatting to me about my trip and giving me advice on where to eat, where I could get my laptop repaired, and also arranged for the editor of the local newspaper to interview me the following morning…

The Wharf Rat Rally would have the town of Digby in it's iron grip a week later...

The Wharf Rat Rally would have the town of Digby in it’s iron grip a week later…

He explained that Digby was famous for it’s scallops and the fleet of boats that collected them off the seabed of the Bay of Fundy.

Just like his counterpart in Saint John, he was amazed that I had ridden all the way around instead of taking the Princess Arcadia ferry that ran daily between the two towns across the bay…

“You must have a iron but and enjoy riding !!” he exclaimed… I was too tired to give him a detailed answer and tiredly shook my head… I had been on the road for almost 11 hours and would need to ride every day for the next three to get to Tiernan’s wedding in time… It was something I was used to, and had built up the stamina for long distance riding a long time ago…

“Pity you can’t stay for the Wharf Rat Rally next weekend,” Bob said, “It is the largest motorcycle rally on the Atlantic coast of Canada !! There were 25 000 bikes here last year. It’s a sight to see !!”

I am sure it was a sight to see !! Imagine being in a town whose population was about 2 000 people, and having 50 000 bikers descend on you for a week of mayhem !!

Rather than take the ferry to Digby, I chose to ride around the peninsula. It took 11 hours to ride 720 km...

Rather than take the ferry to Digby, I chose to ride around the peninsula. It took 11 hours to ride 720 km…

The photo of the Big Fella and I that appeared in the local newspapers...

The photo of the Big Fella and I that appeared in the local newspapers…

We met down on the open boardwalk close to the centre of town, and while I sat on a wooden bench in the small square, John DeMings, editor of the Digby Courier, asked enough questions to flesh out an article he would write about me for publication the following week.

Afterwards, he hauled out what looked to be a very dated camera and too a few photos of me on the boardwalk, and then a few more out on the main street where the Big Fella was parked…

The article was titled, “Gypsy Biker World Tour”, and opened with a sub-heading, “South African man traveling around the world, stops in Digby”…

I later had an opportunity to read the article, the tenth, (I think !) in which I have been featured, and realized that this might well be the last one for me whilst I am on the road.

The story of my journey was almost at an end, and this article ended with the words, “…and for Ronnie, it’s time to get back to the real world !”

 Wooden ship murals in the main square on the local boardwalk.

Wooden ship murals in the main square on the local boardwalk.

Digby has a proud fishing history dated back over a 100 years...

Digby has a proud fishing history dated back over a 100 years…

I thought about that statement for a long time afterward, wondering what the “real world” really was…

Surely it was the world at large that I had been riding through for the past three years, and not the same-same, day to day existence that most inhabitants of our planet are forced to live in !!

While I was being interviewed, my laptop was being de-bugged across the road, a process which took almost four hours, and had me getting more and more antsy as the morning wore on…

I decided to have an early lunch, and make the long ride to Halifax during the course of the afternoon, riding around the tip of the Nova Scotia peninsula, via Yarmouth.

I left Digby at 1.00 pm and began the 420 km ride to Halifax…

Digby's fishing harbour.

Digby’s fishing harbour.

©GBWT 2013