Day 54 – July 31st -Alma to Cap Pele – 143 kms
Ah, my tailwind arrived. At least for the sections when I headed east. I had cross winds from Hopewell Cape until Moncton. 114 was a much easier ride today, although from Hillsborough the road turned a bit hilly and was fairly busy with car and truck traffic all the way to Moncton. At Moncton I got to cross the river on the old rail bridge that doesn’t allow truck or trailer traffic, so that was one of the easier river crossings that I’ve ridden.
I was hoping to see the famous flowerpot rocks at Hopewell Cape, but (a) the tide was in and (b) it was really foggy. So I settled for a second breaky at a nearby restaurant! The best time to view the rocks would have been at about 5:00 p.m., sorry, couldn’t wait that long! But I did have some good views of the ocean/bay/river later on when the fog cleared though. The fog seemed to be very patchy, some places were clear and others were real pea-soupers.
At Shediac, where there is a monster lobster, I picked up supplies and continued on to Cap Pele on Highway 133. 133 was a pretty flat road that ran along the oceanfront for some of the time.
Here at Cap Pele, I am camped very close to the beach on the Northumberland Strait, and the ocean breeze is a nice change from the hot weather that I rode in today. What a massive campground, there are hundreds of sites and they’re almost all occupied – packed in like sardines – but beggars can’t be choosers, right? What I’m surprised about is the mozzies here, I’d never expect them this close to salt water. But the little buggers are here in force! I passed quite a few campgrounds from Shediac on, most are beachside and all are very busy, but I guess it’s that time of year. Lots of French spoken here; this area seems to be an Acadian stronghold, well it is known as the Acadian Peninsula, but luckily everyone seems to speak English too.
At Hillsborough, there was a railway museum. Of course, I had to stop there, take some pics and poke around for a while. Rode on some more, then I stopped at McDonald’s for a snack at Shediac – they had McLobster on the menu – go figure!
Observation: From BC to here, I’ve seen a myriad of shoes at the sides of the highways and byways, but always just one, never a pair! What’s that all about? Do people all of a sudden have an urge to rip their shoe off and toss it out of their vehicle? It sure seems like it. Some of them are good shoes too. Then, what do they do with the other one? Something to ponder!
There’s a seafood store next to the campground, I guess I should go and see what delicacies of the sea they are selling. Perhaps dinner won’t be just pasta or rice?
Day 55 – Aug 1st -Cap Pele to Summerside,
Prince Edward Island – 86 kms
Welcome to PEI. One of my shorter rides, but it was still a long day, with having to wait for a shuttle van to take me across the 13 km Confederation Bridge.Confederation
Quite an impressive structure, to say the least. All motorised vehicles have to pay a toll, but cyclists and pedestrians get the shuttle service for free, but it’s kind of a sporadic service that’s put on as a requirement of the PEI government. The bridge operators just have to get you over within a two hour time frame – and that could be how long you have to wait. The shuttle driver told me that I was lucky today, because yesterday there was a group of 27 cyclists and it took most of the day to get them across. The shuttle van only takes about six bikes at a time and other people wanting to cross the bridge are arriving all the time. Funnily enough, the bridge has a really nice wide shoulder, that would be no problem to cycle on, so I didn’t understand why cycling was not allowed. If crosswinds were a problem some days, then the shuttle van would only be needed on those days, or for pedestrians.
The roads that I took to the bridge in New Brunswick were very scenic this morning, especially the coastal 955 road. Lots of nice oceanfront and sandy beaches, in fact I’ve seen some beautiful sand beaches all the way from Shediac which I passed through yesterday. I also kept getting glimpses of the bridge as it drew nearer. The 955 was a very quiet route with very few vehicles to spoil the serenity. From Cap Pele, I rode the 133 and then I had to ride Highway 15 for a while before I could connect with the 955 – 15 was busy which made my decision to turn onto the 955 very simple! Yes, beautiful scenery and I even spotted quite a few herons today, in the salt water marshes of both NB and PEI.
Once on PEI I rode Highway 10, which connects up to 1A eventually. Highway 10 in reality, is a back-road route, and once off the designated scenic route the road was a patchwork quilt. I guess that’s how they repave here, patch over patch over patch! I explored around Summerside for a while and decided to ride the Confederation Trail out to Linkletter PP, where I’m camped now. Linkletter’s a beautiful park, right on the oceanfront – nice, scenic and peaceful; it’s located about 8 kms west of Summerside. The trail is in better shape than some of the roads that I have ridden here, so tomorrow I think that I’ll take the trail to my next destination on the island – exactly where I haven’t decided yet, but that’s what tonight’s for!
The Confederation Trail is part of the Trans Canada trail system and runs for about 240 kms on PEI. Even the road to the campsite from the trail was in rough shape – makes for a real bouncy ride on a bike. From what I’ve seen so far though, the roads are really quiet once away from the main tourist vehicle routes. And there’s lots of tourists here, well I guess I’m one too, aren’t I?
Well I’ve got to cook some grub yet, go ogle the nice red sand beach here and decide where to go tomorrow – boy, it’s all go ain’t it?
By the way, I’m on the PEI side of the Northumberland Strait today and the sands here really are red. Also, the ocean is really warm – the Northumberland Strait is credited with some of the warmest beaches/water in the Maritimes! And Basil’s all excited because the tourist map we were given has some designated beaver ponds on the west side of the island!
Day 56 – Aug 2nd -Summerside to Cavendish – 55 kms
Well I made my decision to head north to the PEI National Park. Time-wise, and without retracing a route, I will have to forego the west end of PEI. It’s the beginning of a long weekend, so I figured if I arrived fairly early, I might be able to get a campsite in the park. I arrived at 10:30 a.m. and there were already 36 hopeful campers ahead of me on a waiting list – without much hope of getting anything! So I spent the next hour or so trying to find somewhere to stay. I lucked into a private campground that had a site available due to a cancellation that occurred just as I was standing there waiting to inquire about a vacancy! Lucky me! The campground is huge and central in Cavendish, but my site is peaceful and quiet, so I booked it for two nights as I don’t want to start looking for another site on a long weekend Saturday – besides, I deserve a day off on a long weekend too! On Sunday, I’ll move further east along the north coast – away from the hustle and bustle – which should improve my chances for accommodations. There are a few more large campgrounds here, together with a myriad of motels, hotels and inns, and I was told at the info centre, that everything’s booked up solid. The National Park with its sand beaches and dunes is obviously a big draw; I’ll see that tomorrow, as I plan to spend the day there. As with other National Parks, there’ll be a fee just to enter through the park’s boundary. Cavendish is located just outside the west entrance to the park and the town exists solely through tourism; the place is packed, it’s like a busy seaside town in Britain with gift shops and fast food places. But there are other distractions too, some interest me, some don’t. Of course, this is Anne of Green Gables territory, and I’m sure that adds to the hype of the town. Nevertheless, there are also restaurants here that serve the famous Maritime lobster suppers – I just have to decide which one to frequent this evening!
I rode on the trail this morning from Summerside to Kensington, where there is a beautifully restored stone built railway station. I could only ride 22 kms on the trail, as it turned in a different direction to my intended route, so it was hard to force down that second breaky at Kensington, but I managed it! Good job too as I needed the energy later. I rode out of Kensington on Highway 6 which runs all the way to Cavendish. Now, to anyone who says that PEI is all flat, I say, “Horse Hockey!
Highway 6 was full of hills all the way to the turnoff for the park. A couple of the hills were real groaners too. Winds today were, once again unusually, from the north – which way was I travelling, take a guess?
However, it was a short ride. For a small island there’s a lot to see here on PEI, so I guess that my rides for the next week will all be fairly short ones.
The weather has improved somewhat, but much like the west coast of Canada, when the sun disappears behind a cloud, it gets quite chilly. They were predicting rain for tonight, but looking at the sky right now, it’s bright and clear with hot sunshine and no clouds, so let’s hope it stays that way.
Day 57 – Aug 3rd -Rest Day – Cavendish – 0 kms
Views around Cavendish…
Day 58 – Aug 4th -Cavendish to Midgell to St. Peters to Midgell! – 94 kms
The 94 kms today included my side trip to St. Peters which is not far from the hostel that I’m staying at in Midgell. The Midgell Centre/Hostel is made up from church buildings dating back to 1876. A really beautifully kept facility for all kinds of travellers. It has even been mentioned in the “Lonely Planet” series of travel books. The centre is completely run by volunteers who are, judging by the appearance of the whole facility and grounds, very dedicated.
My day off yesterday started dry, but after breakfast we had torrential rain for a couple of hours and overcast skies for most of the day; the sun didn’t show its face until around 4:00 p.m. While it rained I just happened to be at the tourist info centre, so I hung out there and did some future route planning until the rains abated. Later, I went for a ride and a stroll to the beaches and dunes of PEI National Park – spectacular beaches and even though it was overcast, the water temperature was still 19°C. Good enough for a paddle for me! Not many people on the beach though, I guess the hoardes were waiting for the sun before venturing out to the sands. After that I did some shopping and explored around the small town for a while. Back at the campground a couple of young fellows from New Brunswick invited me over for a beer and chat, so all in all, a very pleasant breather from cycling. I might add that I wasn’t charged an entrance fee to the National Park – visitors on bikes are free!
Today’s ride was very scenic and quiet. Holiday weekend Sunday mornings have been some of the quietest times that I have ridden, and this was no exception. Beautiful valley and ocean vistas – especially from the top of those hills – the hills were very gentle today though, as Highway 6 zigzagged its way east to the junction of Highway 2, which I followed for the remainder of the ride.
My second breaky was a roadside waterfront picnic with what I had with me. I found a quiet spot on a beach, boiled up some water for my tea and had 3 boiled eggs left over from yesterday, some oatmeal raisin cookies and a banana – beauty breaky – as I watched the herons and some small gulls fishing! That’s one thing that I have noticed, a definite lack of seagulls compared to the west coast. Perhaps I’ll see more in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland?
Although I passed through many small villages and communities, there was a distinct lack of stores or restaurants; where there were some, they were closed on Sundays as are most stores on PEI. But basically a very nice ride today with warm sunny weather, although a little muggy. I arrived in Midgell early, and as I couldn’t check in until 4:00 p.m., I thought that I would ride through St. Peters to the Greenwich beaches of the National Park. But then I passed a park with lots of action happening. It was blueberry festival weekend in St. Peters’ Park. Did I really need to see more sand – no! Besides, I could smell food. I peeled into the park, parked my bike, mingled with the huge crowd and wrestled my way to the BBQ’s. A full Surf ‘n Turf meal was only $10.00! However, I had my eye on those small buckets of fresh steamed mussels which came locally from St. Peters Bay – home of one of the largest mussel beds in PEI; the whole bay is full of the nets that the mussels grow on. $2.00 a bucket! I had two buckets and I wasn’t really hungry, they were scrumptious! The first bucket had 18 and the second 17, so that was pretty good value. Oh of course, I had to have desert, it was a “blueberry festival” after all. Blueberries and ice cream or homemade blueberry buckle (crumble), I couldn’t decide, so I had both!
Hence, my few extra kilometres paid off with a nice seafood treat and desert! – If only I could get that lucky everyday!
By the way, Basil really likes Canada’s National Park logos, he’s just noticed that they are silhouettes of his best features!…