2017 The Lighthouse Route in Nova Scotia

2017 The Lighthouse Route in Nova Scotia

Westhead Point, East Green Harbour Nova Scotia

Whenever Peggy’s Cove came up in a conversation with my Dad present, I say “I’ve never been.” and my Dad would look at me as if I had two heads on my shoulders and say emphatically “You’ve been to Peggy’s Cove before!”. Yeah, I think I was three or four and I remember nothing of it. I had to put this right! I was also watching posts from Vagabondesss.com that had me itching to get riding again and taking pictures.

The Plan

 When I was in the army, they used to say “The plan nevers survives contact with the enemy.”, and I found it no different when riding a motorcycle. Dad used to be a programmer back in the day, and he used to tell me “Garbage in, Garbage out” and I didn’t do quite enough work with Garmin Basecamp. I think I had route avoidances enabled in basecamp, to avoid highways, so the track I produced look good in the zoomed out view, but in detail it often would plot me on a road that 15 minutes on a nearby highway might save me 30 minutes of riding. One day I’ll learn my lesson.

And the Plan was not so Good. But this ride was EPIC!

I downloaded it into my Garmin, put my battery packs on to charge while my bike was plugged into a tender in the garage, and tossed in a load of laundry as nudity is frowned upon in many Canadian Provinces, and watched Austin Vince’s Mondo Enduro as part of my pre-trip preparations… Oh yeah! stuff some ramen noodles, tea bags, and instant oatmeal into my side case!

Day 1 Crapaud PE to Annapolis  Royal NS

Day 1 Crapaud PE to Annapolis  Royal NS
I woke up stoopid early

I woke up early, I mean “Sit on the porch and watch the sun rise early”. Roosters were disturbed out of their sleep when I fired up the Versys and let out the clutch, bound for a quick breakfast at Ann’s Country Kitchen in Crapaud PE…

Bacon Charlie

All over-loaded up and ready to roll!

Anyhow, breakfast is getting cold so I’ll say ‘Cheers’ for now and I’ll get on with it.

Crossing the Confederation Bridge

I rode at a fair mile munching pace on the roads I’d been over before, was looking forward to riding south along Route 4 through the Folly Mountain area towards Truro NS and my planned start of the and enjoyed the cool morning air as I rode towards Truro NS where I would begin my ride up along the Glooscap Trail. Zac suggested an alternate route late last night, but it never got into my GPS and I was a bit disappointed at the condition of some of the roads leading to Route 4, which was pretty darned straight right on through to Masstown where I stopped in Masstown Market for a cup of coffee at Tim Hortons, sat down by the curb and met Lexis, a shy pit bull cross with a beautiful tan coat. And I to my horror, found my front right fork seal leaking enough to concern me. It looks like it’s time to replace both seals, and I’m not looking forward to the fork spring compression tools I’m going to have to buy to do this job. It’s nowhere near the brake pads which is fortunate.

I met another gentleman who wanted to talk bikes, and at 63 years old, the proud owner of a honda CBR1000. He had his knee operated on this year, and was sad to say he’s only put 2 km on the bike this year, he just can’t ride it safely Yet. 

Once outside of Truro and on the Glooscap Trail proper, I really began to get into the ride, trying to alternate between a spirited pace yet still being able to “butterfly gaze” as my friends call it. 

He hits the gravel shoulders with his trailer.

You have to be careful passing farm equipment, but once you do, you pretty much have the road to yourself.

The Schubenacadie River at low tide

I couldn’t safely stop on the bridge to get a decent picture of this, and later on you end up following the river back out to the coast in Maitland NS where these next pictures are from.

These next shots are from Burncoat NS and Burncoat Head as it overlooks Moose Cove

The Walton Lighthouse area was particularly scenic, with nearby camping on the opposite side of the Walton River. There were quite a few tents pitched there this weekend.

Walton Lighthouse

Hants County NS, which Glooscap Trail on Route 215 is a hoot! Watch out for hay wagons and manure trailers!

White Head NS is well worth the stop. I met a local family out for the day, and we talked a bit of bikes and the history of the area. Sad to say I didn’t get their names, but we must have spent a good half and hour chatting happily away in front of Indian Rock aka White Head rock. They were camped right on the beach in an old camper van, along with a diftwood campfire, so I’m going to guess free camping if you like rocks. Not so great for pitching a tent, I’m afraid.

See the boy in the blue shirt? Dad was yelling at him to stop climbing on the rocks, and I asked him how many times did his father have to yell at him for doing the same thing. He pointed over to another older gentleman and said “You can ask him, he’s right over there.” After that it was all about where are you from and where are you to. I love the East Coast.

It gets a bit more urban around Windsor NS, and I find that when the road leaves the coastline that I tend to take fewer pictures. 😀

My camel back is awesome!

 I drink more than two litres of water a day while riding, probably close to three litres as I always seem to have about a litre left when I pull into camp. On a hot day your sweat is just whisked away by the wind, and you dehydrate rapidly. I admit to copying Gary who rides with one all the time, and I am now a convert. I won’t tour without it until the late fall, when I only need a small water bottle in the top case.

Outside of Windsor my lack of mapping began to rear it’s ugly head as Garmin had decided to avoid the highway and route me on a tertiary road outside of town, just off the main highway…It was a bit broken up, but fun to ride. I tend to get nervous when Garmin tells you to constantly turn and turn again withing kilometres of the last turn.

 And we come to what I call “Adventures by Garmin”.

Dragons be here!

It looked like I only had to follow this for about two kilometers before it hooked up with what I thought was a larger road… 

The Ole Homestead

 I think the last ADVRider got stranded by his GPS and built this as shelter until he could download a software update for free from Garmin.

It’s fun as long as the puddles aren’t deep and plentiful

Ummm. No, not on a bike I can’t pick up by myself with plastic cases.

 I posted on Facebook that it was fun going until I hit mud up to the axles, but it was a lie. As soon as I saw potholes that looked deep and mud filled in the distance, I turned round and rode back out to the highway and headed down to Wolfville NS where I found a meat market and lots of touristy traffic doing the wine tasting thing on a long weekend. While I knew that Nova Scotian wines were plentiful, I had no idea that the Annapolis Valley was the heart and soul of Vineyards in the province, similar to the Niagara region in Ontario.

On the way out of town I found a chip truck at the town limits and I had to stop in and try the fish and chips…

Nippers, Like them on Facebook… 😉

Fantastic Fish, and the fries are hand cut just begging for malt and salt!

Sadly the fork is still leaking. At least the rim won’t rust

 When my 81 year old father found out I was headed this way, he sent me on a mission to locate the headstone of his Grandfather David A. Corkum, who used to teach in a one room schoolhouse in Scots Bay NS until his passing in 1913. His great gradfather was also a David Corkum, and I think he also was a school teacher, but I may have misheard. Anyhow, he was under the impression that his mum was born there, and left around the time of her father’s death for New Brunswick, so he sent me on a mission to Scots Bay to find lost family ties…

On the way you have to cross the valley through Canning, then climb a steep hill to the Look Off. As you can see I was caught behind a logging truck that was rolling up it slower than clutch out first gear, and I had cars in front and behind, so it became quite a balancing act complete with hot clutch and overheating motor. Once you get to the top you have to stop at the Look Off… 

Caught behind a logging truck on this spectacular ascent to the Lookoff  NS

 At the Lookoff NS, and a camera just doesn’t do this spectacular panoramic view justice. I ended up taking a short video and posting it as opposed to trying for a panorama shot. I think the video worked out better.

Looking out over the Annapolis Valley NS

Yes, it was a pretty popular spot, so you will see bikes, cars and people there.

The road to Scots Bay

Cape Split NS in the distance, and its worth riding out to it.

The cemetery where my Great Grandfather David A. Corkum is supposed to lie

 I couldn’t find the headstone, but I did find that the name Corkum has settled this area since the mid 1800’s from what I could see.

There is a David Corkum laid here, but it may be my GREAT GREAT grandad

The school house was moved and renovated and is seen before you.

I could never be described as shy, so I accosted the first local I found and asked them if they were born there in Scots Bay, but she pointed to a gentleman across the street sitting on the porch shucking peas… “Go ask Oliver, he was born here.” and with that I crossed the main road and talked to Oliver about the history of the area, and of the schoolhouse that had been moved and converted into a community hall way back in 1916.  Today there is a tin warehouse standing on the spot.

Right, lets play tourist and ride out to Cape Split.

Cape Split looking back over Scots Bay

I knew I’d seen a mailbox with the name “orkum” on it on the ride in, so I thought I’d pay my respects to family and drop in (assuming of course that the “C” had fallen off, otherwise I’d be making a fool of myself yet again). I pulled into the driveway, to see a young lady, and dismounted gracefully and pulled off my helmet. I introduced myself, and my reason for being in Scots Bay and after a while found myself chatting happily on the porch with Amber and her father David while I was grilled to find out how we were related. It appears that membership in the Corkum family is highly guarded, similar to Masons, and my bona fides needed to be checked thoroughly before being granted probationary status, as there had been a Jenny Corkum born to one Nellie Brown-Corkum about twenty miles away in nearby Harbourville NS.

Two brothers had emigrated from Germany aboard the Pearl and had landed at Lunenburg Nova Scotia in or about 1752, where one of the brothers was sent to work on the island of Tancook, on a farm. He hated it so much that he worked his passage off the island with a fisherman, collected his brother in Chester NS and walked all the way to Scots Bay from there a distance of 85km as the crow flies, but with the brush and scrub back then, only crows could fly in a straight path. The cemetery shows a large number of Corkums were laid to rest there, along with other founding families. 

I really enjoyed that moment (after given probationary family status) sitting on the porch and talking of David’s father, a local fisherman in Scots Bay who had to leave the industry back in the 70’s as the government bought up the fishing licenses and put a stop to the weir fishing that went on along the coast. At the time they were offering a couple thousand for licenses that today are worth 1.5 million dollars!

Things have really changed in this Province since the fish stocks became depleted and limitations imposed. A way of life the supported families for generations was coming to an end. You can see it as you ride round the coastline. Large towns and villages that surround a once thriving fishing industry and cannery that now seem weather beaten and in decline if you look for the signs.

I know a few fishermen these days, and two of them only do it part time to put food on the table, both younger men, while the older one works with a partner who holds a second license, so that between the two of them, they can support a home and family. I’d really like to have seen this place back in the 1900s, when boats and horses would have been the transport of the time.  David’s father would have had to get his fish from Scots Bay to a market in Wolfville, the rail station, or perhaps ship it out, but where to? Salt cod and herring? Who was buying it?  I could have stayed for hours… I had to get moving before I made a pest of myself. Did I mention that I love history?

I bid my new family a fond farewell and set off for Harbourville NS.

The roads on this part of the mountain are iffy, a combination of paved and gravel that will frustrate street bikes and have the adventure types really enjoying the ride, but not many of them connect in a straight line and I had to do a U-turn when I saw a lemonade stand…

At 50 cents a cup, who could resist a bargain like that!

Dad gave me a few tips for roads that headed roughly in the direction I wanted to go, with lefts, and rights and lefts etc.

Habourville NS

Note the cradles under the boats to prevent tip overs.

The roads on this part of the mountain are iffy, a combination of paved and gravel that will frustrate street bikes with tire swallowing potholes and have the adventure types really enjoying the ride, but not many of them connect in a straight line and I found that I was in need of fuel, so  I headed down off the mountain and on into Middleton for a Tim Horton’s stop and some fuel before making tracks for Annapolis Royal along Route 1, which winds it’s way along the picturesque shore of the Annapolis River.

I made it! The Annapolis River

 By the time I got to the Annapolis River, it was getting dark and I started looking for a campsite. Not a campground, as I am between jobs and I was really trying to keep my expenses down, bringing my own food with the exception of lunch meals that I would buy along the way. I was going to either ask someone if I could camp in a suitable field far enough from the road not to be bothered by traffic, or to find some community centre, church or firehall with a patch of grass round back where I could “stealth camp” and leave early morning.

I saw a beautiful hay field and cow pastures along the Annapolis River, and turned up a driveway to ask the farmer if I could have permission to camp in the field below the house.  After she found out that I loved her two dogs, and they loved me, she told me not to lick the electric fence and to kindly refrain from cow tipping. I’d been so worried that I’d be turned away, I was rather embarrassed, but I’ve found that everywhere I travel, it’s the same all over. The people that I meet are on the whole wonderful, and we all have stories to tell.

You are probably saying to yourself “This guy can’t afford a $35 campsite?!” It all adds up. I spent $350 a couple of weeks ago riding around the Cabot and Fleur-de-Lis trails in Cape Breton, and if I spent the same on a three day trip, there is $700 right there. I really wanted to do three days for under $200 so that I could prove that camping and riding every other weekend was possible. 

Beautiful camping spot! 

Just me and ole Bessie

Note to self: do NOT wizz near the fence!

What a view to wake up to!

This tent peg went in easy, and pulled easy. I wonder why?

 The tent pegs had to be pounded into the ground with a few firm raps from my mini multipurpose hatchet/knife/hammer, but this peg went in so easily, I wonder why that is?

 My sister had laid out a couple of apricots on the cutting board last night for me, something she does for her sons so they won’t forget to take a snack, or an apple. I felt so loved! Sadly they didn’t survive the trip in the top box after all those wicked fun gravel roads, but my mate Mike told me not to worry: “Smoothie!”. Lol. Even the shells on my hard boiled eggs were a bit rough for wear. I’m going to get one of those wee half dozen egg carriers, or perhaps just the two egg carrier.

Six years strong, and it fails this trip!

 My MSR dromedary 4L water bladder that I’ve used since my trip across the trans labrador highway finally let me down… The smaller cap began to leak, and as it was in my top case, all the water leaked out and soaked my raingear, and my spare gloves, neck scarf etc. Water was sloshing around in the bottom of the case.Argh! The case is supposed to keep water out, not in! I think all the cap needs is a small o-ring added to it for a better seal, so I should be able to pick up an O-ring kit at Princess Auto (our version of Harbor Freight). More on this later.

Ramen, and Turkey Sausage!

My SVEA123R campstove was more than equal to the task of heating up dinner. 

Flashlight runs on a single AA battery

 I’m old enough to remember the days when flashlights took do D cell batteries, and you always made sure you had a spare bulb packed along. Who recalls the 6V latern batteries? This little LED number I have in my pocket or tankbag while I ride, then hanging from the gear loft in the tent until I go to sleep or until the battery runs out, whichever comes first. So, pack one rechargeable AA battery per day. Brilliant!

Below I’m bored and took a picture of my RavPower 6700mah powerpack recharging my Cardo G4 Scala so I can have music for tomorrow’s ride. When I bought this it was to talk via cellphone on a trip with my Dad into the interior of New Brunwick, now I hate to ride without listening to my tunes.

Charging up the scala

I’ve a solar panel that I bring for static camping to recharge the ravpower, but it’s not any use on a moving motorcycle. 

Note to self: in the future place the tent along the furrows, not across them as I feel like I’m trying to sleep a camels hump. (Just kidding, I have a nice thick Thermarest I bought last year that is working out pretty nicely) 

The view from the supper table.

The cows might drop by for a drink later tonight

And now at 2300 comes the rain. Scattered with thundershowers, 5mm to 15mm clearing late morning as reported by Environment Canada for the Digby NS forecast. And it is raining on the tent, but still warm. Wind was welcome setting up the tent, but now mosquitoes are thick and out for blood!

It’s looking like I’ll be riding into some rain today.

Day 2 – Annapolis Royal to West Head Point NS

I hate to be so miserable, but I woke up to some rain showers and drizzle on an overcast day and had to pack up a wet tent before making my breakfast of tea. I just wasn’t hungry and wanted to get moving before the rain that was heading my way actually hit.

I’m guilty of following my Garmin and not studying the paper map as closely as I should have, and when I missed an exit for Digby Neck, I took the next turn indicated by Garmin onto Lower Cross Road that skirts St. Mary’s Bay… The asphalt quickly petered out and became gravel, then potholed, then a bit iffy, but there was farm equipment around in the fields, and and a pickup truck headed towards me who stopped to chat, and when I asked “Does this road get me out to Digby Neck? My GPS says it links up with the main road.”, the old Farmer laughed and said “I’ve seen so many guys like you who ask the same question, and yes it’ll get you out there.”  That was reassuring even if I felt a bit foolish, but with last nights rain, trying a u-turn on this heavy bike with it’s essentially street tires was daunting, especially if there was wet clay ahead!

Hay fields by St. Mary’s Bay NS
I met the farmer just round the bend as this road started looking a bit worse.

 It was only about three kilometres, and one slightly bad stretch in the treeline where I was forced to stand on the pegs and throttle up, but otherwise good. On a dry day even the GSXRs could have done it. 😉

St. Mary’s Bay NS heading towards Tiverton

 Sadly I rode into a fog bank, and as Route 217 is largely inland in a wee valley, there wasn’t alot worth stopping for on the way in and back out again, and for the most part I was successful and was able to ride Digby Neck comfortably except when I rode into a fog bank and found I was getting a bit chilly. The fog was a heavy water vapour that collected on the windshield and occasionally tossed water droplets back to strike me in the face.

When I hit the ferry wharf it was at the end of a hairpin corner and the line up of vehicles caught me a bit off guard as I’d been enjoying the 20kph corner perhaps a bit too much.

The Tiverton Ferry

Yes the fog was pretty thick!
Boats anchored just off the wharf

 With all this fog and two cable ferries to get out to Brier Island, I opted to save time and skip the ferry rides and head back down Digby Neck towards the town of Digby itself.

A quick rest stop and a chance to don an extra layer of heated goodness, as I have a heated vest that I take along on all my trips, as you might be surprised how cold it can get in August while riding in the rain. This morning it was a damp 15 degrees Celsius, while yesterday it had been closer to 30 with the humidex factored in. And that is exactly what this turned into, fog with a bit of rain that made me THINK about donning rain gear, but not enough for me to want to stop and do a rain dance by the roadside.

That’s the mainland!

This is Sea Foam, not a fuel additive.

 

House for cheap, features include skylight for natural lighting!

Digby NS, a picturesque little town with a rich history. 
This is a destination for a lot of the cruiser crowd, me not so much.

 It’s about ten and if you look at the map, here I am in the parking lot of Tim Horton’s chatting up the bikers that showed up for a poker ride that had been cancelled, when a Mustang showing off ran through the intersection right in front of the RCMP cruiser that had left the lot. We all laughed, and secretly I was glad that it hadn’t been me that they were after.

Drama in the Tim Horton’s parking lot.

 Shoot, all morning in the fog and I still have to get to Yarmouth and beyond to maky today’s goal of about 600km!

The next stretch of coast was nice, and further on down Route 1 you come upon the homes of very proud Acadians who flew their flags on the front lawns of their homes. Happily it was a Sunday morning, and most of them were still in the cathedral parking lots, so I was able to make good time out to Cape Forchu. I stopped only a couple times as the fog was thinning, but obscured much of the detail I wanted to capture.

I did hit some light rain just outside of Digby and pulled over to do a rain dance and get into my gear. 

Still a very pretty sight, the camera doesn’t do it justice.

The fog was still pretty thick although I had hopes that it would burn off by the time I hit Cape Forchu and Yarmouth, but it was not meant to be.

The roads leading out onto Cape Forchu were fun, with twists and turns and elevation changes. This was a refreshing change after the Acadian shore, and my bum was thankful for it.

The farmland gives way to the ocean and sights like this greet you from the road as you speed your way out along Main shore Road which is a nice gravel road, but there were plenty of washouts to keep a wary lookout for as I later learned they’d been hit with thunderstorms and lightening while I was sleeping in my tent, and enough rain to sweep away parts of the road into the ditch and surrounding marsh.
 

It was time to get out of this rain gear, and I found a nice grass verge next to Allen’s Lake where Eric pulled up with his Kayak strapped on top, and we chatted for a bit about bikes, ethnic foods, and Kayak racing as he used to compete in the Halifax K1 kayak races, although he didn’t do as well as he liked, he was still very proud of it. Today he was going to do a bit of fishing out by that lone pine in the fog you can see.

He did pass on that he and a group of friends had done a dirt riding adventure tour from Thailand to Cambodia, rough camping every night, buying geese and chickens from farmers as they passed through, turning them on a spit over the camp fires. It sounded very enticing and I asked about pricing etc, as it’s something I’d love to do at some point.

Allen’s Lake NS

That’s a loon, he doesn’t care for motorcycles or kayakers.

Eric is owning this shit!

That looks just so appealing

 I’m a bit claustrophobic, and having my feet and legs inside the kayak isn’t the most appealing thing in the world, but I used to love to canoe, and I once did three kilometres up a river while my bowman did nothing but fish. I simply loved it, and the thought of being in a kayak without the huge sail area of a canoe and single paddle is very appealing but for the cramped condition. I have to convince my sister to let me have another go at hers when I get home.

 I hit asphalt again in Overton, and shortly found myself at this memorial to sailors who worked the sea and had perished in the pursuit.

 Later on you pass Yarmouth Bar and a causeway out onto Cape Forchu, and view across the Inner False Harbour is wonderful!

Looking across the Inner False Harbour

Doesn’t she look just a bit like Darryl Hannah in Splash?

Just a rock, but it’s a rockin’ rock.

Yarmouth Bar

Cormorants on the Atlantic Ocean side

Cape Forchu Lighthouse

roadside garden

The rock again. Seeing makes me feel all warm inside.

 Okay, enough of the Rock, time motorvate myself and head into Yarmouth…  And out again. The fog has been burning off, and is largely gone as I ride towards Wedge Point NS along the 334.

Sorry gang, not much to see here, I got a bit bored.

This is how we roll. Improved air flow on the legs

It’s largely a rock strewn beach, but it has it’s own beauty. 

Wedge Point NS
Goose Bay NS
Forms at a nearby boatyard.

Goose Bay looking towards Comeaus Hill

I stopped for lunch at the Tuna Wharf, and while eating a lady with her family started chatting bikes with me, and before her back troubles put an end to long days int he saddle, she used to tour with other ladies of a similar nature, and I mean some serious miles, Grand Canyon, Eastern Seaboard. We had a fantastic conversation that let my fries cold and forgotten. And I’ve completely forgotten her name now, like an idiot, for which I apologize, but I really did enjoy the chat. 😀

I got rid of the heated vest and stuffed it back into my side case as the day began to heat up, and I was looking forward to Pubnico, but I was hearing a rhythmic clicking sound whenever I was on throttle steadily, not while coasting with clutch in, just when the throttle was maintaining or accelerating. Thankfully it was simply my O-Ring chain protesting at the lack of lubrication and I was able to quickly put that right at the next suitable gas stop in Pubnico.

Fork Seal needs looking at
I’m not really happy with the chain way on this trip

 My friends seem to like the thinner Motul chain lube, along with other votes for simple 90W gear oil or even Automatic Transmission Fluid ATF, and my riding profile of gravel and rain suggests that I invest in a chain oiler to keep my chain from overheating and stretching. It’s stretched in three spots now, and I have way more drive chain lash and play which you can really feel in first and second gear, almost as if a cylinder was misfiring. What do you think of the inexpensive Loobman oiler system? If I had buckets of cash, webbikeworld did an excellent review on the Chameleon

Gulf of Maine, Pubnico NS

With the chain happy again, I made sure to check fluids, more gas for the bike, and another four litres of water for me.

The Lighthouse Route does not fail to please, in fact, this whole coast right up to the York Redoubt in Halifax was simply awesome in terms of road condition, twisties and scenic vistas. Gaspe and Cabot Trail may have the views and the news, but I found this much more engaging and technical on two wheels, with a lot more going for it that a brief rip down Deals Gap. I can really only compare it to Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virgina. These roads are as well maintained with no frost heaves, although some sections you need to pick a line as the asphalt has deteriorated a bit, but there were no surprises and I scrubbed my tires in nicely while maintaining a safe non-license threatening pace on what is essentially a Sport Utility Bike or SUB as a friend calls it. Now I was in love with those 120/17 front tires as the Continental tires just gripped curve after curve for the rest of the day. We are talking about riding twisties for five hours until I started to lose my light around 7 pm that evening!

Shag Harbour NS

My friends asked me if I stopped in at the UFO centre in Shag Harbour, and while I had seen a dual sport leaned up against the side wall of the building, I opted to cruise right on by, and pulled in at the harbour to take the shot above, when a man in a red Dodge Charger pulled up and asked me if I was looking for him. What?! It turns out that another rider had been in the area questioning his employee (the dual sport rider) at the UFO centre, and he had mistakenly assumed that the guy in a red coat on a bike was me that was looking for him. Nope, not me, but I did one up you guys by chatting with the owner. He laughed when I asked how well the Charger handled the winter roads, and said while it had ABS he had no idea if it had traction control or not.

He beat me out of the lot, but I later made up for it with a pass and was happily on my way along the Lighthouse Route once more.

Another fixer Upper for you!

Traffic picked up as I passed through Shelburne where I stopped in at a No Frills and treated myself to a tin of mini-ravioli for tonight’s supper, and some malteasers for dessert. Yep, gourmet cuisine all the way!

I passed the road to West Green Harbour on my way out to Western Head, and the hour was getting late enough to have my head swivelling looking for a good place to camp. As I rounded the curve, I saw a mowed field with a car and lobster traps, so I u-turned and asked the owner Frank for permission to camp out by his lobster traps. I had to repeat myself as clearly he couldn’t figure out why anyone would want to sleep in a tent and feed the mosquitoes, but he okayed the idea, and I left him to set up the tent and let it dry out in the evening sun and breeze.

Trying to dry off the morning’s rain

I set up the tent in the field beside the lobster traps and then as I was leaving to head out to West Head Point, I met with Frank and Kathy who told me it was their habit to drive out to the point every night in their 53 years together. I asked how long they had lived in the area, and Kathy told me that they had both been born there, and in fact had attended the one room schoolhouse across the road that sadly had been torn down many years before.  Frank had left to work abroad, then married Kathy upon his return, and they they had lived for four years on the point itself, in a home that had been built in the 1800s, and in fact were the last tenants of the home, as after they left it to build their own home, it was converted into a cattle shed, then finally torn down in the late ’60s. I really enjoyed the conversation and learning about their history as well as the area.

My home for the night
The gate and guestbook

Cattle and sheep have been grazing the point for years, and just inside the gate lies an old bathtub filled with fresh water. Make sure you close the gate after entry!

This is a cow and sheep pasture, and it looks as if they prefer to graze the point itself judging by the grass.

The view out over Western Head across Roaches Cove is beautiful, and the waves of the Atlantic Ocean cross the body of water known as the “Hell Hole” and strike the rocky shore. On a windy day it would be spectacular!

Looking out over George’s Rock into Roaches Cove
Selfie time!

I’m single and good looking with a great sense of adventure, and I like to take sunset walks on beaches… Okay, two out of three ain’t bad. 😛

Waves cross the Hell Hole and strike the rocky shore

So much colour, although my eyes are drawn to the thistle

The sun is getting lower in the evening sky, and I’d really prefer not to have to eat in the dark, so I make my way back to my bike, sign the guestbook and head back to camp among the lobster traps.

Just as I pulled up to my camping spot, I saw a couple walking their elderly dog, and of course I had to say hello, but sadly the old girl was rather timid, and wanted nothing but a quick sniff and to lie down on the gravel road, where I spoke with Frank and Kathy’s neighbours, Ed and Marcy. Marcy told me a story of their friendly cat going missing, and Ed had thought he’d heard a very faint meowing after they’d near given up hope of ever finding their wandering tom. He was able to ascertain the direction of the pitiful meows from coming from neighbour Franks pile of traps. Armed with a flashlight, he found the cat in the bottom most trap of a stack piled four high. He’d gone in and couldn’t get back out! So Ed had to unstack the pile to let the prisoner out. Each trap can weigh between 50 to 70 lbs, no easy task, but the cat was appreciative to be sure. 😀

Marcy pointed out that a badger was paying my tent a visit, and I turned to see him scuttling away across the short grass into the bush. I must admit to never having seen a badger before, but it looked more like a porcupine to me.
 

Badger or Porcupine?
Blurry, lousy photo either way. lol.
The trap

Both the badger/porcupine were hungry, and I made my cordon bleu meal of mini ravioli over my SVEA123r and ate it while watching a fabulous sunset over the pines and scrub bordering the site.

Keens also make a handy windscreen
The camera just doesn’t do this justice.

The breeze is dying, and the mosquitoes are now out in full force, time to take refuge in my tent for some reading before bed. I still remember a trip where I complained to other riders about how heavy my bandit 600s was in transition between corners, and the laughter as I unpacked to have two paperback novels fall out of the side cases. Seamus held up his phone and showed me his eBook, and I’ve been digital ever since, especially as I’ve been moving around looking for work in the past few years. Currently I’m in the middle of Conn Iggulden’s five novel account of the life Julius Cesar, a fantastic read if you are in to historical fiction.

The moon is very bright tonight

My flea bay special

For the past two trips I’ve been using this eBay.ca inflatable pillow. It cost me $10 and while it is a bit of a luxury item, it allows me to get a much better sleep than using a stuff sack or rolled up clothes. It’s filled with insulation and doesn’t reduce in volume quite as much as I would like, being slightly larger than doubled fists, but it’s worth it for the comfort factor, especially while reading!

The weather took a cold turn that night, and it was refreshing to fall asleep bundled into my sleeping bag as opposed to the previous that had been quite humid and warm, the caveat was my tent had moisture both on the inside and outside of the rain fly, and after a quick meal of oatmeal and tea, I had the tent rolled up damp and inside the canoe bag, ready to roll the moment I sorted the rest of my lazy body out. 

Day 3 – Western Head NS to Borden-Carleton PE

Day 3 – Western Head NS to Borden-Carelton PE

I carry a rag just for moments like these

This was the ride I was looking forward to, as Peggy’s Cove and Lunenburg NS had to lie ahead of me somewhere up the road, but I honestly didn’t mind where or when I was, as I was in a bit of heaven with the sun shining down on me, and the views simply amazing. I uploaded over 500 pictures to my album, but had to restrain myself somewhat for this blog.

The road was so engaging along the Lighthouse Route, that I gave that title to the blog, for if I were to visit Nova Scotia again, I would be quite content to ride from Yarmouth along Route 3 all the way along to Coastal Route 7 where you would need to ride the 211, 316 and 16 all the way to Canso. That ride would be epic, and Route 3 is currently in fantastic shape, and I can honestly say it is one of the best rides I’ve done in North America.

Townsend Harbour NS

Apple Cove NS

Apple Cove NS

Crescent Beach NS

Crescent Beach NS

 My kickstand adapter is paying off! I would never have been able to take this shot last year without aerobatics as I try to manoeuvre a kickstand puck underneath the sidestand, then when ready to leave, pick it back up again. $12 dollars worth of wonderful! Read about it here, The Kickstand Fix!

Last year the bike would have been taking a dirt nap if I tried this
One of my absolute favourite shots of the trip

Dublin Shore NS looking towards Bull Cove NS

Dublin Shore

 I blasted past a church on the left, and a delicatessen cafe on the right, and did a quick u turn and walked on down to find an 8 month old Siberian Husky and his owner, a Logistics Officer in the Canadian Armed Forces, and we talked dogs and army forever, then I met another lady with a three legged old girl that she had rescued, and we exchanged stories of our dogs past and present. I never did buy anything, but the desserts looked wonderful. I’d enjoyed chatting so much that I felt embarrassed as I slipped out the door of the shop and hopped back on my bike to continue ever Eastward along the Lighthouse Route.

West Dublin United Church

Bull Cove NS

I had no idea that  LaHave was a National Historic Site, and I was very pleased to find it open so I dropped in for a few quick photographs and to read the historical plaque…

1604! Four hundred years ago!

The Town of LeHave NS

The ferry from the Western Shore to the East LeHave

The commercial fishing wharf of LeHave

The traffic entering Mahone Bay was slow, especially around a tight hairpin of a bend, and I spied the front bumper of an antique truck just down one the side streets, and had to get some pictures of this beautiful restoration. I’m not a car nut, so have no clue what year it was made, only that Mike had lovingly restored it and it was to take it’s place in the Natal Day Parade later that morning. 

Mike and I talked about the truck, and how much my 81 year old father would enjoy the pictures as well as my Island family, and a few friends back in Toronto. He said “I’ve got something else you might like in the barn.” and with that he opened the door and led me through his well equiped shop to this gem… A 1972 BMW R75/5 with 55,000 original miles on the odometer. This is a combination electric and kick start, with no decompressor, so Mike told me that it would take a beefy man about four full weight good kicks to get it going from a cold start, and that he much preferred to use the electric start. Lol. Having some experience with kick starts, chiefly my 2001 Honda XR400, I agreed with him, although I commented that it certainly was handy to have it on a touring bike, to which Mike agreed, and way back when it was new and shiny, he’d ridden it from Nova Scotia clear across to British Columbia, down the Californian coast into Mexico, turning around in Central America’s Panama to ride it back up the opposite coast of Mexico, on into Texas, then Florida where he was able to do a few laps of he famous Daytona 500, and right back up the Eastern Seaboard home to Nova Scotia! An epic trip carrying the aftermarket cases you see in the photos, with one case set up as a kitchen, the other with clothes and gear, and a pup tent strapped to the back. Mike’s other ride is a newer 2002 1200RT that he gets out on, but he hasn’t put nearly as many miles on at as he had the older BMW, and it was in immaculate condition!

The proud owner

After finally saying farewell to Mike, I left Bridgewater and I skipped a bit of coast and headed for Mahone Bay NS, and stopped for lunch in the town of Western Shore NS to a Lebanese meal of Fataya and chips. I’d been riding for five hours, and a cup of coffee with the food made perfect sense, as the pace I was setting was spirited enough to get me back to the Island that day provided I didn’t stop too often.

Fataya & Fries

Blandford NS

I made a little bit of a gaff here, and instead of following Route 329 through Blandford around to Bayswater, I took New Harbour Road, only to find it dead ended a short distance up ahead, and the road was in sad shape, but no wonder… The view was entirely worth it!

New Harbour looking towards Tancook Island NS

Looking back towards Blandford NS

This was the good section of road

Twists and turns complete with beautiful views!

This part of the coastline incorporates numerous chicanes as well as elevation changes, and it was all I could do to find a safe spot to perform a u-turn to get these pictures of Northwest Cove NS

Northwest Cove NS
Northwest Cove NS

As I was pulling away from the harbour, a side car passed by and I hurried to catch up and get some shots, and when they pulled in for ice cream, I took the opportunity to say hello and talk very briefly of all things Ural. He was explaining that he had to work pretty hard on some of the turns to keep the wheels on the ground, and I could see that he had an experienced chair monkey as she leaned this way and that to assist him.

It’s a Ural, don’t hold it against him… 😛

Near Boultiers Point NS

Sadly I’m getting closer to a very popular stretch of the coast, so I’m seeing more and more traffic as I get closer to Peggy’s cove. The beaches are crowded and the cars are parked along the verge, so I slow down and exercise caution as does all the other traffic.

Bored again, can you tell?

Middle Point Cove NS

Middle Point Cove NS

The traffic is now crawling along at about ten to fifteen kph below the speed limit, and I stop for quick washroom break, and met a couple from Ontario who had come up the opposite way along the coast and she told me that the highlight for her had been the Swiss Flight Memorial just to the West of Peggy’s Cove, and that the Cove itself was on a holiday Monday, teeming with tourists. I pledged then and there to give it a miss, so if you are looking for the quintessential shots of Peggy’s Cove, you will need to get on a tourist bus and take them yourself. Might I suggest October? 😛

The background

Looking form the memorial towards Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse.

I’m enthralled by the views here! It’s not quite like anything I’ve seen before, as if the hand of God had picked up rocks like grains of sand and dribbled them all over the coast. There are random rocks just sitting on top of giant boulders, or rock hillsides. It’s magical and I wish suddenly that I had the area to myself to explore for a day or two.

Looking out over St. Margaret’s Bay towards Southwest Island.

They’ve chosen a beautiful spot for the memorial, and the search efforts of the local population, their kindness to the families of those who lost relatives in the disaster is well remembered. It makes me proud to call myself a Canadian, yet sober at the loss of more than 200 passengers of crew of the doomed flight. 

A closer view of Peggy’s Cove

 Talk about people! There were cars parked along both shoulder for what seemed like a kilometre which meant the parking lot on site was jammed, and included coaches that had difficulty navigating the tight turns while pedestrians walked either side of the roadway. I tried to get in a bit closer being on a motorcyle, I figured I’d be able to squeeze in somewhere, but the shot below might explain the reason why I chose instead to make a u-turn and skedaddle out of there and further on down the road to get a few shots of the surrounding area.

Oh the humanity!

No thanks, I’ll just slow down and keep on riding…

 I took a few shots while in motion, but the area was so lovely that I did a u-turn and went back for a few more…

Clam Pond NS

The path I chose looped me back into the mainland along some wonderful riding roads, and I waved to other riders again and again, no doubt out of Halifax for day tripping on this beautiful holiday Monday. There were more and more packed beaches  as I neared Lower Sackville NS, then as route 306 south and towards Sambro, I was in relative isolation and seemed to have the road to myself but for a few cars that were easy to pass. I made a left instead of a right at Sambro, and headed out to West Pennant on the 349 , which dead ends at Long Cove Point, but I was rewarded with a few more photos, so I’m happy with the decision.

Long Cove NS

The wooden bridge that spans the narrows of the cove had a few fisherman standing on the bridge, and I thought I could capture a bit of Nova Scotia at play…

 One of the fishermen and I started to chat, and I found that Martin was an avid rider, and had crossed the continent eight times! Sadly last season his bike had been written off in an accident that left him with a broken wrist, arm and cracked vertebra in his neck. He’s got an BMW R100 with fuel injection in the shed, but it needs some work on the FI as it’s not running quite right, and watching other riders out and about this past week made him want to get it sorted more than ever. As ever I enjoyed the conversation, and promised to shoot him an email with this blog entry so he could point and laugh. 😛
Cheers Martin!

Martin having more fun than luck as the incoming tide swirls at the foot of the bridge.

Note the antlers on the hut, and more on the side!

 It’s four in the afternoon, and I’m going to have to sew my mouth shut if I want to get home today… 🙂

Ketch Harbour NS

 Just outside of Ketch Harbour, the dreaded “Construction” signs, and when I saw a bike athe head of the short line, rather than pass four cars later on, I passed them to pull up beside Craig, who of all things was wearing an Engineers cap badge on his vest, and I ripped the stitches out of my mouth and chatted away happily about my ride thus far, and where Craig had been and up to in his service in the reserves, and on his bike.

This is how we  roll as we follow the flag vehicle

The flagman pt a stop to the conversation and we let out the clutch and heaed on down 349 as it took us north along Clam Bay and into Halifax. We parted ways as I turned right to follow the coast along the 253 and right into the National Park “York Redoubt” historical site!

The York Redoubt NS

I figure I’m the only history nut out here, so I’ll try to post the best of the best of this remarkable defensive point that has been a stronghold for the British Empire’s foothold in Canada for over 150 years of active use, since the days of that fellow Napoleon misbehaving back over in Europe and abroad. I wish I had more time to explore this site, and I vowed then that I would be back not only to ride the roads once more, but to take more time to visit LeHave and The Citadel in Halifax, but for now a quick whip round to see the highlights and tread the ground that others had walked over 200 years ago in service of King George.

McNabs Island, the narrows.

The base of the original Martello tower, both headquarters and signal station for the battery.

I got to play fetch, but sadly when he realized I wasn’t going to give up the ball, he made me throw it instead and he got to play fetch. His companion warned me that the ball was all covered in goober, but I told her of my dog Suzi and revelled in watching him fetch and fetch again until he was thirsty. See the ball he dropped in his water dish? 

 She said there were a number of fishermen along the shoreline as the whales were in the harbour after the fish, and to escape the whales, they would come much closer into shore, so I told her I’d keep an eye out for any. Whales that is.

The docks of the Eastern Passage

I’m no longer happy riding in cities, and when in a strange city following a GPS I’m on high alert, watching carefully for distracted drivers while I ride as defensively as possible. Managing all of that and enjoying the views as I imagined they must have looked hundreds of years ago was trying, and when I found  myself crossing the bridge at around 1730, I decided to forgo the remainder of the coastal route I’d plotted up the Eastern Shore to Musquodoboit Harbour, I opted instead to hop on the highway and make my way Northeast as quickly as possible

MacDonald Bridge, Halifax NS

Until I got bored of it, and thought I’d jump onto  212, Old Guysborough Road that Zac had suggested would be a fun alternate prior to my trip, and it was a hoot to ride! Right up into Middle Musquodoboit where I had to stop and take this picture…

Wind’er up and get plowing!

 Just up the road I stopped in at Mikhael’s Cafe and grabbed a bite to eat before deciding that I’d best head out to the highway and home across the bridge to Prince Edward Island.

Mikhaels Cafe makes good pizza!

Not before snapping a couple of sunset shots over the town cemetery first.

The highway is somewhere up ahead, or is it back there?

If I’d stayed on that road through the town, it would have taken me all the way into Pictou on some lovely roads, far more appealing than the 102, but it would have put me far to the east of the bridge along the sunrise trail, and I didn’t feel the need to ride it in the dark again, having done that years before and almost hitting a cow in the middle of a dark country road…

A cup a joe to make me go

 So superslab it was, until I opted to get one more tank of gas that put me in confident range of PEI and home. It’s a good habit to get into, as many of the small town gas stations will close up  around 8 pm, leaving you with an empty tank with miles yet to go.

I stopped into the MacDonald’s parking lot in Amherst for a small cup of coffee, and spotted two bikes out in the parking lot with Alberta plates, a cruiser and a battered GS500E very similar to the bike that started it all for me years ago.

A GS500E! Now that brings back some fond memories!

 Wait a sec! Is that a cucumber and croissant attached to his cargo net?! It is!!! These riders I had to meet!

I went in to find them sitting down and I pulled up a chair and started chatting about the cucumber. Nick told me that sadly they had started the trip that morning with two, and were plotting the best route back to the Cabot trail to search for it. Lol. I gave them some fun roads to do down in the states as they were now headed into Maine for a border crossing after finding a hotel in Moncton, and was able to suggest all my favourites until Lake Erie, where my local knowledge ends. I must put that right some day soon. Nick, Adam and I talked all to long, and I hadn’t even had the coffee I went in for as we got booted out and into the parking lot where we carried on our conversation. They’d graduated that year, and Adam  had studied Electrical Engineering of all things, so we spoke of the arcane mysteries of Electrickery that you mere mortals know not of. Nick graduated with a Science Degree, majoring in Physics and Chemistry, and had to concede that I knew nothing of the latter.

A long road ahead and behind!

 At some point we all decided to head out, saying I’d tag along until our paths parted and I shot away towards Port Elgin and the Confederation Bridge that would see me to the island.

 Once in Borden-Carleton I gassed up and had a wee cup of tea before taking a couple pics to document the wear on the tires. They’ve been holding up well, although the front is scalloping at tad along some of the curves of the rubber block pattern. I’m currently more worried about the fork seal and chain wear.

I’ve got just over 1800 kilometres on the odo for this trip, it’s 2 am and I’m going to wake up my sister when I roll up and driveway and set off the early warning system aka Zippy the Jack Russell Terrorist. 

One more stop before home.

Zippy, Odie and Ron relaxing on the porch…
 

 Yep, I woke her up. Sorry Wendy!

In my travels this past weekend I saw a sign in front of a travel agency that spoke to me enough to share it with you now:

We travel not to escape life,

but for life not to escape us.

 

Ride Nova Scotia, believe me when I say you will love this beautiful part of Canada and it’s people. 

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The Kickstand fix! or “the Versys gets a big shoe for a little foot”

I’ve been riding for a while now, and had been pretty content to use whatever came to hand to place under the kickstand to prevent my motorcycle from sinking into the dirt. I’ve used plastic water bottles, soda cans, rocks, electrical cover plates and plastic kickstand pucks. But when you arrive on the spot and even have a kickstand puck in your tank bag, there is still quite a balancing act to drop it and get the kickstand over top of it. Now add in the weight of a bike fully loaded for touring, and a ten or twelve hour day of riding, and I can tell you that sometimes I nearly fell or dropped the bike while getting that support under the stand. And what about those quick roadside stops where all you want to do is get off for a minute or two?

The KLR will get you there
The KLR will get you anywhere

At Rocky Point Newfoundland, while on my heavily loaded KLR, I got off the bike to take a few shots…

Only to find it taking a dirt nap.
Dirt nap

Problem solved the cheap way… A kickstand plate from eBay.ca

 
A search with keywords such as “kawasaki versys 650 kickstand plate” brought a whole list of decent kickstand plates,  that were certainly a whole lot cheaper than those that I’d seen on other online websites, especially when you view the selection available with free shipping.


  
I went with gun metal grey to match the worn kickstand of the Versys.

I knew that it wouldn’ be SW-Motech or Touratech but I’m on a budget and was able to find a few styles coming in at under $12 with free shipping!

Touratech wants $59 before shipping for this model:

Touratech Kickstand Adapter
Touratech Kickstand Adapter

I placed an order for the eBay special and sat down to wait out the month or more it took to arrive from China.

It was made from a piece of aluminum with stainless steel fasteners and looked like it had just come off the CNC machine. supplied with a hex key all I had to do was use some thread lock (I’m an Ex-KLR rider remember) and it was on the bike in under ten minutes.

Pros: Price and performance is brilliant.

Cons: 5% of the time when parking on very loose soil I still needed a kickstand puck, but that was due in part to a heavily loaded touring bike on boggy earth. The Touratech model is larger and probably would have worked in all fairness, but I saved about five tanks of gas plus! 🙂
that 5%... Parked on that 5% patch where I still needed that kickstand plate.

Crescent Beach NS

That foot plate is brilliant!

It sinks in the dense sand, but finds bottom!

On a recent trip to Nova Scotia’s Lighthouse Route I stopped on Crescent Beach to take the shots above, and instead of balancing and dropping a kickstand puck then post photos, trying not to dump the bike as I collect, all I had to do was lower the stand and exercise a bit of caution on the dismount. Absolutely brilliant!

Once again, I used blue loctite on the threads so I wouldn’t bemoan the loss of the adapter, but it has worked well in cow pastures, sandy beaches, and hot asphalt.

All this for only twelve dollars… 

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2017 Cabot and Fleur-de-Lis Trail …Part 2

I’m guilty of saving the best part for the last. So sue me, but as I was looking at the shots, it turns out that I crammed most of the ride into Day 4, a very busy one from the moment I let out the clutch at Mira River Provincial Park and headed down the highway for Fortress Louisbourg.

MacKinnon’s Cove, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

Day 4 – Mira River Provincial Park NS to Trout Brook, Cape Breton Island NS

Before you think less of me for such a short trip to one of Canada’s famous historical sites, let me first say that I’d visited the Fortress back in 2011 when Darlooney and I had just gotten off of the Newfoundland ferry in Sydney NS back from our trip across the Trans Labrador Highway. We spent most of the day there, I got a number of photographs (too many really, but that is how I roll), and shared them in my ride report “I Survived the Trans Labrador Highway”.

As you approach the present town that is there today, you should look at the bush on each side of road, and wonder how the early settlers ever managed to push their way through it. Dense growth of pine trees and brush forbid any direct access, so waterways and game trails would have been the highway of the day. In fact, most of the travel of the period was done via water, and Fortress Louisbourg became a mercantile hub of the New World, shipping an estimated 31 million tonnes of salt fish per year. I had to double check that figure as I thought I had misheard the guide.

The Fortress as seen from the present day wharf

 

The visit was free as it is Canada’s 150th birthday this year, so all National park admissions are free, so after waking up far too early, I sat in the parking lot and chatted with the other visitors while waiting for the attraction to open up. The line up needed three shuttle buses to get us to the Fortress, but once there you head out on foot along it’s gravel pathways. It’s not terribly accessible, so if you have a stroller or wheelchair, you may want to opt for the large “rough terrain” type of wheels, and you should be fine.

The fortress is only 1/4 restored, as much of the stone from the ruins was carted off to serve as foundation material for local homes, but it’s very impressive. I had to look this up… A fort protects a harbour or a town. A fortress encloses the town.

English settlements were completely different as settlers were encouraged to clear the cultivate the land as soon as possible to form a tax base for the new colony, whereas this French settlement was a commercial crown enterprise, and people were forbidden to colonize the surrounding area. One would have thought to see a town grow up on the outside, with farms, orchards, wharves etc, but all the food, fodder and hard goods were imported from France or it’s colonies. All of it. They were not even allowed vegetable gardens from my understanding, all to make them completely reliant upon the largess of the French crown. They did supplement their food stocks with the aid of the local Mic Mauq indians, chiefly caribou meat.

Can you guess what this is? Located next to the gatehouse.
The townspeople have an impromptu gathering in the street
New recruits learn their cannon drill
Can you spot the doe and fawn in the field centre top?
Extreme close up with a point and shoot
And off they go!
The view from the battlements towards the present day town.
This is the gate I will be leaving by
The walls are protected by a ravelin and a moat
Does anyone want to photoshop out the tourist?
This is where all the action takes place
Salt cod. One of the 31 million pounds they produce per year

I couldn’t help but think how much longer I wanted to stay, yet how far I had to go to get to Meat Cove off of the Cabot Trail. I caught a shuttle bus and headed back to the bike and let out the clutch bound for Glace Bay.  Look at the map and note that I totally messed up. I should have headed further East before heading north in order to see more of the coast line to the east of Glace Bay, but that mistake combined with significant construction meant that I was kept back from the coast until much later on and I missed quite a bit of the Glace Bay area, so I’ve yet another “todo” added back to the Cape Breton Island list.

As I was heading through town, I saw this sign and turned back to buy a pint of fresh strawberries. It was by far the absolute best meal I had on the trip, as the strawberries had been picked only yesterday and were in top form. A bit late in the season? Not on the East Coast

$3.75 a pint.
To go? No thanks, I’ll eat in.
Good to the last berry

The approach into Sydney along the coast from Glace Bay was nice enough, but if I had known how busy the traffic would be, I would have happily avoided the whole mess and jumped onto the 105 bound for the Englishtown ferry.

As I rolled past this diner, I couldn’t help but think of my newf friend Tat2 and how we hit only the best of Newfoundlands little gems while riding in that province. I had visions of Crush Pineapple and Spruce Beer as I opened the door to find that they served some of the best deep fried chicken I’ve had. If you like KFC and salt, you will love this chicken! The fries, not so much. Hahaha.

Lick-A-Chick, Sydney NS
Cape Breton Highlands thataway!
Waiting on the Englishtown cable Ferry
Fellow Cabot Trail riders leaving the ferry.

There really is only a short delay at the ferry, and passage is only $7 CDN. I’ve been on this one before, but never heading in this direction.Traffic crossing in my direction was light, with only a pickup truck ahead of me, but I’ve seen this road on a weekend in July, and it can get awfully busy, especially with RVs and trailers trying to carefully ascend the passes, and even more carefully trying to descend the other side under brakes almost the entire way down. I was determined to get ahead by passing safely, but ahead of this lot I wanted to be.

A mid-summer weekday wasn’t so bad, not so bad at all, but there are always two ahead and three behind.

 
An FJR mounted rider climbing the hill ahead of me

This was a weekday, yet there was still enough slow cage traffic to hold us up, so the fella ahead and I passed given any safe opportunity, only to get held up in a few of the really interesting sections. This side was repaved not so many years ago, but we would run into some sections up ahead that have gravel bits cut through the pavement, about four feet wide with varying levels of ruts. I think I hit my rim on one of them.

Wreck Cove selfie
Take two just in case
 
 
Oh no! These guys are going to be murder to pass!
Ummm, Nevermind.

They are much more confident riders than I am. I used to be ATGATT, (All The Gear All The Time) but these days I’m SOTGSOTT (Some Of The Gear Some Of The Time) as I’ve taken to dispensing with my gloves on really long hot days, and I stopped wearing riding pants on hot days. What can I say? I ride for fun, not to lose weight, and it’s working! 😛
 

 
Lots of constriction. Sigh.
The Road to Capstick, and consequently, Meat Cove.

Remember I told you that I almost made it the last time I was on the Cabot Trail, but as the bridge had been washed out, they posted a guy to turn tourists back and he was highly effective at his job.

Here is a shot from seven years ago… Prince Edward Island the and Cabot Trail. (Good lord! Has it really been SEVEN years?! It seems like only last year!)

Time for a numbered list to help me focus:

  1. 2006 First go round on a 2001 Bandit 600s
  2. 2010 Second time round on a 2004 Kawasaki KLR 650
  3. 2017 Third go round on a 2009 Versys KLE650

I need to do this on a scooter or a pit bike for fun and giggles.

Close but no cigar!

Right! I was now officially past the turn around point and was able to take new pictures of areas I’d never before seen!

Broad Cove

I found a little provincial park for a wee rest break, but it turned into more of a photo op instead. Can you relate?

 
Cabot’s Landing Provincial Park
Plaques galore!
Meat Cove Rd looking back at Capstick I think.

Whoops, not as far as Capstick yet! Disregard that caption. Post trip guessing. Thank god for a GPS camera!

I’m so excited! I think I’m going to have to stop for another pee!

Seven years in the making… “Did you get out to Meat Cove?” It’s like a secret ADVRider passphrase or something. Nope. Not in the 11 years I’ve been riding through these parts. That’s all gonna change baby!

Thar she blows! That’s it. Mowed lawns and tents.

The gravel roads to get there might have been exciting for a Versys with Conti Trail Attack2 tires had there been a rainstorm and or low visibility and excessive speed or lots of traffic. The rear end stepped out once, and it was more fun than unnerving.  Turns out they left gravel all the easy bits, and paved all the potentially scary bits. Not that I was looking to go rocketing out of a corner and down a three hundred foot drop into the Atlantic Ocean, but there you have it. More on this later on…

Paved down hill. Reminds me of Europe, but with steel guard rails, pretty straight and shorter. In fact, it’s not much like the Alps at all, but it was fun. 
Meat Cove NS
So hurrah! I’d finally made it! To find cars, trailers, an RV and a few bikes. Two riders from Massachusets that had met a friend of mine while stopping in Sackville New Brunswick. 🙂 
 
Another rider from Winnipeg that had rode a scooter there. Yep. Popped my balloon real fast, especially as I’d only had one step out and that because I’d used a bit too much throttle exiting a corner before the bike was fully straight. 
 
So I really should have pitched a tent and spent the night, but I was ready to push on and make some more ground before calling it a day, and I figured I could get into Cheticamp and sit down to a nice cuppa before dark if I got on the bike and got going.
Time to get the lead out and get moving! I was much more confident on the way out as I knew that I only had to watch for oncoming traffic and a few nasty potholes on the first stretch of gravel, so I was able to take a few more pictures on the way back to the Cabot Trail.
 
Cheers Meat Cove! It’s been a slice!

I think the most disappointing part was all the vehicles and tents, and the work you would have to do in order to get shots without all the man made clutter attached. To be frank, I was a bit disappointed and wanted to roll on out and get back to free wheelin’.

It really is a beautiful spot
Bay of St. Lawrence Road heading back out to the Cabot Trail from Meat Cove

Man, the camera doesn’t do this area justice at all, and apparently I was losing my light as these pics didn’t expose as well as I’d like, but they do place wonderful emphasis on the sky.

Heading towards Pleasant Bay on the Trail

My decision to leave rather than stay resulted in a couple of pros:

  1. There was virtually no other traffic on the road. I had everything to myself, at my own pace!
  2. Riding off into the Sunset is an excuse like no other to snap shot after shot

Cons:

  1. Ummm. Don’t people warn you about moose and dear collisions at this time of night? Yep, it gives me a bit of pucker factor. 
  2. Now that you’ve got me a bit nervous, I’m not going to ride this like a race track, especially with all that construction behind me and who knows what lying ahead. Maybe this is a ‘Pro’?
Pleasant Bay, Cape Breton Island Nova Scotia
The classic lookout shot without other tourists and fences in the way.

I had to get a selfie in here as well, but to offset that, I added a couple pics of the wear on the tires. Enjoy!

I’m getting smarter in my old age and my chicken strips are in fact “safety zones”.

My nickname used to be ‘Crash’ way back in days I had knee sliders and knew how to use them, and tires scrubbed right to the edge. (In my mind they were to the edge. Lol) After a few close calls involving man and wildlife I now opt for a non license threatening pace, and arriving at my final destination upright and intact as opposed to ambulance and or flatbed. I’ve bad experiences with both.

The front is wearing well

I’ve got the back aired up to forty pounds and the front up to 38, where I usually run about 36-34 as with a loaded bike and long distance touring, I want a slight crown on the tire so I don’t get a horrible flat spot down the center of the tire. So far it’s been working well this trip, although there is now visible shoulder wear on the front tire that is visible while looking down from above.

Great rubber, these Continental Trail Attack2 tires, and I’ve full confidence in them for cornering, and braking, although they aren’t as good as the Michelin Pilot Road 4s in the wet as I ran last season on the bike, they tend to wear better, and I expect more than 10k off of the rear tire.

If shots like this last one are a sign of things to come, I’d better pick up the pace a tad and try to get some kilometres behind me cause I’d be stopping every time I saw a ‘Wow!’ scene that I’d frame into a photo.

Looking back towards Pleasant Bay
 

Right, so I’m booting along a long stretch of road that is under construction, and as there is no other traffic, I mean I’m really going a bit too fast to see any disasterous potholes, but the Versys loves this kind of riding, and I find I’ve twisted my wrist a bit too far when I see a dark shape up ahead on the road. Bullwinkle himself with a full rack! Wow! Slow down or try to get your camera out or both? Why both of course, and in the failing light what you will see is horribly blurry and grainy, but I will always remember him as majestic, disdainful and powerful. Velvet springs to mind. Covering his massive rack, and segueing to a beautiful glossy dark coat.

Ripping it…
Oh bother! Bullwinkle is doing guard duty on the construction equipment!
I had to blow this one up so you could see him.
And this is the one I thought I’d be able to proudly show people in the future when ever I gave out “that” warning…
No moose here, just a beautiful skyline.
Yeah, I might have been going a bit fast.

Did I mention I love these tires? In a straight line on gravel, superb, but you have to drop down to about 60kph for corners or you will find yourself in the ditch on this heavy pig of a street machine. It’s not an offroad bike, and the term best applied to it IMHO is “SUB”. Sport Utility Bike, similar to the ubiquitous SUV driven to shopping malls and found on six lane paved highways. Rule of thumb, if you won’t take your honda civic down that road, neither wilt thou goest with the Versys. 

Roads like these are why people ride bikes. The view and the twisties. Go ride Skyline Drive in Virginia.
A look back. Yes, it was that much fun. Every time I’ve ridden it.
I know I’m getting closer to Cheticamp now.

As I got closer to Cheticamp, I was running into a few more vehicles, and less desire to stop for shots.

Cheticamp River, Cape Breton Nova Scotia

I had to turn back to get these shots from the bridge. It’s so satisfying. 🙂

The other side

Why is it that a phone camera with a crappy sensor takes better shots at times then a dedicated point and shoot? Okay, it’s a gps enabled water and shock proof point and shoot with 28mm aperature. I rather like it.

But the iPhone wins this evening:

 
 
the far shore seen from Cheticamp Harbour
 
 
 
 

If you are an East Coaster, then you probably won’t like these next shots as much as the folks back in Onterrible do, as you’ve been around them all your life.

 

Okey dokey. If you stayed with me thus far, you would know that my next stop should be the Tim Horton’s in Cheticamp, then, if I were a normal person, a camping spot, either legitimate or not somewhere close to town, but if you really knew me, you would understand that when I missed the Tim’s that I knew had to be ahead up on the left hand side of the road (now where the f did they move it to?!) I’d just keep on riding. And riding. It was now about 2030 or so, and I’d be in total darkness in about fifteen to twenty minutes, but I got in behind a couple of cars and followed them south for ages…  Until they turned off, or perhaps I turned off. I had set my GPS to Port Hawkesbury via the shortest distance as opposed to fastest route, as I get like that at times, and I knew that the interior roads in this province are mostly paved and pretty much all of them lead you straight back to the bridge back to the mainland. In this part of the country at any rate.

Crap, it had started to spit rain at me, and the one car ahead of me kept going and as my visibility decreased with my pretty much open visor on the Arai XD-R75 (it has really horrible fog and rain characteristics), I had to pull over and don some rain gear over my leather jacket. A bit of a roadside dance for a few minutes. My speed had dropped away to somewhere faster than 60 and slower than 80, and I knew I had to pull off and get a tent set up for the night, cause this was a one way ticket to an accident, with wildlife or one of the ‘single vehicle’ that I’d never be able to live down should my friends hear of it.

As the rain began to abate and fizzle out, I passed a couple of likely spots until I found a Nova Scotian picnic area on the right that looked good, or rather TGTBT at the time, and the ground was rocky and wet. Bog wet in some places, but with a flashlight and time I found a hard spot that while it would take the tent, not the pegs. I was only able to drive in about four stakes, and a couple of those were very iffy, but I made a good choice in tents, and my Alps  Mountaineering Lynx 2 is free standing with a buckle on fly, so I spent the rest of the night that included another brief shower in a tent no ten metres from the road where I slept like a baby.

Mmmm! Chef Boyardee ravioli with Indian Mutter Paneer curry.

Okay, this wasn’t cordon bleu, but it was hot and hit the spot before bed, along with plenty of water to wash it down. All for under four dollars.

 

 

Day 5 – Trout Brook, Cape Breton Island NS to Borden-Carelton PE

Day 5 – Trout Brook, Cape Breton Island NS to Borden-Carelton PE

A cranky baby that woke up at 6am. I’m starting to hate camping as I’m up so early in the mornings that at times I don’t feel all that well rested, and frankly, I want people to stand a bit upwind of me at the moment. Time for a change after I brush my teeth and make some tea.

You know what? Screw the tea, the pot is still a bit off with the curry residue in it, and I washed it out in a puddle of dirty water, then rinsed it with clean. I’m in no mood for yet another ginger flavoured orange pekoe, so I pack up the damp tent and off I ride into the morning mist only to find I was about 2 kilometres north of a proper campground. *Sigh.*

Trout River Provincial Park, Cape Breton Nova Scotia

 

A short ride and I’m back in civilization and I can order a nice large cuppa and something other than instant oatmeal for breakfast! I’m enjoying this as I sit at the curb and savour the moment. Especially the morning mist that makes me think I’m in the Great Smokey Mountains down in North Carolina. It’s cool for a change, and a beautiful morning. That hot sun is going to burn off this mist, and the real day will begin.

 
First real cuppa in days
That winch is used to haul moose up into the bed of  his truck

This gentleman stopped by to chat and was really friendly. He’s been around, and worked on Prince Edward Island for a while, but was happy to be back home. He was also proud of his cage and winch set up for hauling moose up into the bed, and let me tell you that cage must have weighed in at over 200lbs easily!

Back on the highway, destination Port Hawkesbury.

Farewell to Cape Breton Island!

I’ve done highways before, and they all seem much the same, so I opted to return via the Sunrise trail, but I think I missed part of it, but never mind as I found myself on a secondary road headed in the direction I wanted to go, towards Antigonish, which turns out to be the Sunrise Trail. 😀 Lucky me. I’m running a bit low on gas, down to three bars but I’m not worried, I should be fine for another 100k before I need to start panicking.

I decide I’m going to ride out to Monks Head Nova Scotia and see what there is to be seen…

Linwood Harbour NS
Ummm. Sunrise Trail, in spots its the Sunrise Trail, Suspension Surprise that is

I rode out to this little dead end jetty where I found this dude packing up from his campsite of the previous evening, and it turns out he’s from Onterrible and doing a tour of the East Coast the budget car camping way, and as he’d already been to PEI, all I could do was show him the highlights of Cape Breton on my tourist map, and handed it over to him as he was on his way there that very day.

I love chatting with people. You meet such interesting people at home and abroad.

Next stop, Cape Breton Island!
 
 
Pomquet Point NS
The view from Monks Head Road.

So I totally missed the Monks Head bit, but to make up for it, there was plenty of construction just ahead, and i had to stop long enough to convince the flagman to get a dual sport instead of the cbr250 he was planning on buying. Turns out he was originally from PEI and was working road crew in Nova Scotia because that was where the money was.

Right, now I needed gas and I was just starting to panic a bit until I made it into Antigonish with plenty left, only down to a single bar, not even flashing merrily at me yet. It’s a healthy fear, ask my buddy Zac. 😉

I’m still on the Sunrise Trail, this time aiming for Cape George Lighthouse, where Rob Harris and Zac had taken me years earlier on the Dawn to Dusk rally. A brilliant little scoot that starts off at O’dark:thirty (Army for stoopid early) until the sun sets, or in some cases with Rob and Zac, until the repair is finished and the bike is able to limp you home.

Anyhow, the road was in much better shape, and once I’d passed a couple of cages, I was in sole possession of the blacktop and happy for it to be that way. Once again I don’t ride at a license threatening pace anymore, but I was working the bike and maybe wicking it up in the corners just because it felt good to apex and throttle wide on the exit. Fun fun.

Things were going great until I saw this roadside gem, a portable saw mill, well semi-portable I suppose, essentially the timber sits or moves on a railway, and a band saw is manoeuvred through it, leaving an almost finished grade of cut. So smooth that one could hand sand it down. I had to stop and ask permission to take some pictures of this for my dad who I know will appreciate it and say “Neato! I wish I had one like that!” or “I’ve used Charlie’s once or twice, and while it is nice, I’d prefer to have a BLANK.”

Weight is placed on top post cut to prevent the wood from twisting as it dries out.

There you go dad, I hope you like these as much as I enjoyed taking them for you.

 
 
Cape George Lighthouse, Nova Scotia

And now the lighthouse. It is so secluded with the offshore fog, I’m alone and the last time I was here was with a crowd of talkative bikers, almost a travelling circus act in comparison to the solitude…
It’s not a lasting impression as the sewage truck climbs the hill to service the site, and a couple of other visitors arrive, and as my reverie has been shattered, I don helmet and set my course for Pictou Nova Scotia.

I still haven’t decided whether it’s going to be the bridge or the ferry… Hmmmm.

 
The Versys has turned into a wonderfully sorted touring bike.
 

I have to say that this setup is pretty well sorted for touring. With quick release side racks and a canoe bag holding my tent, I can be ready to tour in minutes as opposed to hours, and it’s still a joy to ride through the twisties unlike my Bandit 600s which I had to wrestle in the transitions from left to right and back again.

These are pretty easy to get round.

Right, you have all seen the farm equipment right? They don’t post much of a threat if you are alert, it’s the ones behind that will get you. One person pulls out to pass becomes two, three even and suddenly you are playing chicken with two tonnes of metal hurtling you in your lane. Slow down, pull to the right side of your lane and look beyond for cagers itching to pass. Be especially wary on hills. YOLO

 
 
 
Cheddar Cheese!

I had to stop. The dairy farm makes their own cheddar cheese, and no, it does not come out orange!

There is a little sign saying to pick what you want out of the fridge, and leave the money in the jar on the table. I love the East Coast and it’s refreshing honesty and sense of honour. It’s why I like to call it home these days. That, and THEY MAKE FRESH CHEESE!!! You know you can trust a guy who goes to your church and makes your cheese. If he feeds you bad cheese and kills your whole family, you light the torches, get some rope and some like minded friends…

There used to be “The Cheese Lady” on Prince Edward Island who made her own gouda for sale, and her introduction of that lovely cheese to me has changed forever my perception of how a creamy young gouda should taste. It should not taste of plastic or wax for example. 😀 Right, let’s get back to the story at hand…

I had a brief chat with the Cheesemaker, a Scots who had settled from Glasgow to Nova Scotia years ago that his accent was a bit hard to trace. Could have been the UK, might have been South Africa or New Zealand. He told me to have a look in the fridge while he checked the back for some 18 month old cheddar aka “Old cheddar”. Cheddar that has aged as opposed to cheddar that has ripened in the plastic while in the transport truck on it’s way to your local supermarket. I found that the curd I wanted was going to cost me six dollars, so I wouldn’t have enough left for anything else, but when he returned with the sample of old cheddar, he would only take five for it as it had sat there since Friday, and when asked what the rest of my ten dollars (now five) would get, he smiled and handed me a block of the old cheddar and wished me well saying he had to get back inside to add the rennet to the milk.

It was just a wonderfully satisfying experience that made me happy I was on a bike in that place at that moment with some lovely cheese to share when I got home later that day.

It is a very lovely cheese
More Constriction! It’s everywhere!

Now I’m back out on the highway heading in towards Pictou NS when I decide that it’s early enough in the day that I’m going to the Lobster Trap via the ferry. Prince Edward Island is called the lobster trap, as once you climb in you can’t climb back out unless you pay your dues. Bridge and Ferry is free one way, to the Island. You have to pay to get off.

 

While waiting for the ferry I met the nicest couple from Brampton Onterrible, Paul and Viv. They’d been riding for a while and had just done the Cabot Trail and were on their way to ride PEI for a couple of days, and we talked so much that I didn’t even really appreciate the ferry ride. lol.

One thing I’ve learned about ferries, bring your own strap if you plan on taking them over and over.

Anyhow, it was early in the afternoon, and I’d be home by supper, so I offered to take them up to Cape Bear Lighthouse where they could add the “Red cliffs” to their list of “been there, done that” so we set off up the road, only to find that they had finally gotten around to moving the lighthouse and while wonderful, my carefully framed shot of the quintessential lighthouse was no more.

While they visited the museum I got to chat with a local who chaired the committee for the preservation of the lighthouse, and I was able to offer my thanks and appreciation for their efforts, he in turn thanked me for “drumming up business on the ferry” for them. 😀

Cape Bear PE
Cape Bear PE
Cape Bear Lighthouse and Marconi Museum
 

We headed back into Cornwall where I left them at Cows enjoying a ice cream cone before check-in at their hotel.

Life is pretty good when you meet such wonderful people while on two wheels.

Welcome back to the Island Ron!

Ooh! Remember I spoke about farm equipment? I opted not to pass this one until he cleared the brow of the hill and I could see further past him.

I hope you enjoyed reading along. Drop me a comment or a question. You’re gauranteed an answer

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