Day 59 – Aug 5th -Midgell to Brundell Provincial Park – 90 kms
I toured around the east end of PEI before heading south to Brundell PP, which is very close to Georgetown. I started by riding the Confederation Trail to Souris, where I engaged in my second breaky. I’d breathed in enough trail dust by then to brush everything off and turn south on Highways 2 then 4. Of course today the winds were blowing violently in the direction that they should be at this time of year – from the south – go figure! Highway 4 was also not one of the predicted “PEI flat roads.” But all in all, a nice days ride – still quite warm and muggy though. I think that we might get some thundershowers tonight as I can already feel some raindrops. I’ve got the tent up and a tarp over my picnic table, so I should be able to stay relatively dry – if it quits by morning!
I must say, that I expected PEI’s towns to be more pleasant than they are. Most of the ones that I have visited seem like depressed areas, yet the visitor’s guide seems to give the impression that these are vibrant communities – not when compared to many towns that I have visited in other provinces! It’s just like the roads, the tourist areas are clean and well kept, but don’t look at our other areas. The Provincial Parks are nice though, reasonable price, clean washrooms and free showers. This one is one of the nicest that I have been to and is next to the Canadian Golf Academy. Apparently, there are three golf courses adjacent to the park. I believe that there’s a 19th hole too – I’ll have to check that one out, perhaps I can ride the storm out there? There’s also horse trail rides here and kayak and canoe rentals – one of the more active and popular parks for campers.
At the campground, I bumped into – guess who? The two young ladies from Quebec who were camped next to me way back in Grand Falls, NB. It was like bumping into old friends. They figured that I’ve been travelling as fast as them – and they’re in a car! They seem to have been to all the places that I stayed at, albeit on different days except that they’ve already been to Charlottetown and I’ll be heading there tomorrow. It was nice to chat with them again though – small world!
But I haven’t seen any touring cyclists for eons, where are they all? I thought that PEI would be chock-a-block full of them, especially with the all the “flat” roads here! Maybe there’s a black hole in Ontario that they’ve sunk into! I’ve met a few local cyclists who were bike camping for the weekend , but that’s it! Perhaps I’ll meet more in Nova Scotia, who knows?
Well, it’s time to cook up tonight’s delicacy, I don’t know what yet, but it’s going to include PEI new potatoes. I felt that after riding past millions of acres of spuds, I should support the local economy by partaking in those tasty little ones!
Day 60 – Aug 6th -Brundell Provincial Park to Charlottetown – 58 kms
A really short ride today; pretty well all the way on Highway 3 and then the TC#1 into the city – relatively uneventful – more potato fields and some nice ocean views (from Tea Hill, I might add!) as I neared Charlottetown.
Last night’s storm was incredible. The thunder, lightning and torrential rain rolled over the campground three times. After each occurrence, I thought that was the end of it, but the system was determined to let us have a triple! The thunder was so loud that it was scary; I haven’t seen a storm like that for many years, much less experienced one from the confines of a tent. My tent held up well though, all but one minor drip that’s been a bear to fix for a while. I’ll really have to be generous with the seam sealer when I return home. Nevertheless, I faired much better than some of the other campers, who’s gear was all soaked by this morning. Quite a few campers even pulled out during the night, but me and Basil stuck it out! Where would I have gone, anyway???
This morning, the skies were still overcast, but the rains stayed away until later this afternoon. Once in Charlottetown, I checked into a B&B that I had reserved earlier, had a shower and then the watched the rain starting up again. I was lucky earlier too, as I had chance to stop at a park that I was passing, pull out my tent and dry it out in the ocean breeze. I’m thinking that it’s just as well that I took the time to do that then as I’m looking at the (torrential) wet stuff coming down now. I believe that all the Maritimes are experiencing the same lousy weather. Hopefully it clears up by Thursday, when I’ll be leaving here for Woods Island to catch the ferry to Nova Scotia on Friday morning. Yep, another day off tomorrow, anyone would think that I was on holiday or something! But it seems to be a wise choice, to have tomorrow off – weather-wise, more of the same stuff is forecast – maybe I lucked out, for one day anyway!
However, today I had to make reservations for the ferry to Newfoundland, so regardless of the weather, I will I have to be in North Sydney, Nova Scotia, ready for next Monday’s sailing to Argentia on the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland.
Talk about a small world – At this B&B are a family from Nanaimo, BC and a couple from Saanichton, BC (they live near the Prairie Inn) – hard to believe that one can meet up with people that live so close to my home town when we are this far away!
Factoid: PEI’s largest (wild) mammal is the fox – not that I’ve seen any, but I thought that you might like to know that snippet of local information!
Day 61 – Aug 7th -Rest Day – Charlottetown – 0 kms
Views around Charlottetown…
Day 62 – Aug 8th -Charlottetown to Trenton, Nova Scotia – 87 kms
Welcome to Nova Scotia.
My layover in Charlottetown was quite pleasant, apart from the torrential rain last Tuesday evening. Fortuitously just down the street from my digs, I found the “Olde Dublin Pub,” a good spot to take cover and sample some fine ale and food. The rain was still around on Wednesday morning, but nowhere near as heavy as the previous night. Downtown Charlottetown is very quaint with lots of historic buildings, including Province House of course – the birthplace of Confederation. I wandered, visited the museum and poked around all kinds of other historic places; generally having a good time and filling my face (with seafood treats) at every opportunity. On Wednesday evening, also just down street from my B&B, I discovered another local pub and microbrewery called the “Gahan House,” which served some excellent house ales and some seafood chowder which was “to die for!” I sparked up a conversation with a couple from Switzerland who invited me to share their table and eat with them, so I had good food and good company for the evening.
But all good things must end and Basil said it was time to ride again! – So off we went…
This morning, I arrived at Wood Island, PEI, a lot earlier than expected, so I decided to catch the ferry today rather than wait until tomorrow morning. The ride to the ferry covered some of the same roads that I rode into Charlottetown on. But instead of riding the TC#1 all the way to the ferry, I rode Highway 23 which was much quieter and about 9 kms shorter than the main route. The ferry that I took was quite small when compared to some of our BC Ferries, but adequate. The crossing to Caribou, Nova Scotia, only took seventy five minutes and was a pleasant interlude from riding the roadways. I had a “ferry food” second breaky, which did remind me of BC Ferries!
From the ferry landing, I rode to Pictou on Highway 106, and was surprised to see a roundabout (rotary) at the intersection for the town – you don’t see many roundabouts in Canada, yet they are a common sight in Britain. A quick lunch there and I continued the short ride to Trenton’s Centennial Park, where I’m camped. The weather was fine all through my ride, but the sky looks a little doubtful right now – I sure hope it doesn’t rain, again!
Trenton’s claim to fame – The first place that steel was poured (in Canada or the Maritimes?). Nickname – “Steeltown.” There’s also a big power station here.
Compared to PEI’s parks, this one’s not very busy – only about 20% occupied, but it’s not by a beach either!
Other news today – the odometer clicked over 7,000 kms. That’s over twice the distance of the Tour de France – and about twice as slow!
Day 63 – Aug 9th -Trenton to Linwood – 102 kms
It did rain again last night, nothing serious though, but I had to improvise my small tarp for a cooking and bike shelter once more!
This morning the weather was quite cool when I left the campsite and continued so for quite a while. In fact I rode with my windbreaker on until around noon! The sun finally came out in the afternoon, but there was still a lot of cloud around. I sure don’t seem to be getting a lot of good weather lately, or is it always this bad in the Maritimes? I don’t think so.
Today’s ride was a combination of the old Highway 4 and the TC 104. Both roads were quite easy riding with no major hills. 104 was really busy though with lots of heavy traffic, but had a nice wide shoulder for me to ride on except on the hills – go figure! The hilly sections seem to always have a passing lane for the motor vehicles and no shoulder for me. This has been the case on many roads that I have ridden. I’m sure that the shoulders were expropriated and changed to passing lanes! Too bad really, because that’s where a cyclist really needs them, but cars and trucks get priority again!
Scenery-wise, lots of bush and not much else until the end of the ride on that section of Highway 4, some of which presented some nice water views. I stopped in Antigonish for my second breaky. Antigonish is famous for its highland games that have been held there since 1861. There were also many full-sized carved wooden figures throughout the town, I couldn’t figure (pun intended) out who the various likenesses characterized though!
The campground that I’m staying at in Linwood, is right on the waterfront; my site is very close to the beach with a great view over the ocean. This campground is much better than last night’s and a lot cheaper – only $12.00 compared to $20.00 yesterday. No views to anywhere from yesterday’s site either, except to the bush and the mozzies . The washrooms, laundry facilities and in fact, the whole place is very clean and well maintained. How some of the campgrounds come up with their pricing is beyond me, I guess it’s whatever the market will bear and how desperate someone is for a site. Anyway, this one rates four flat beaver tails from Basil the beaver; yesterday’s we’ll rate at one and a half beaver tails!
Nova Scotia is just oozing with its Scottish heritage and evidence of this abounds with the names of towns, villages, businesses etc. In fact, tonight at the waterfront picnic area of the campground, there will be a communal campfire with a piper, piping some tunes on his bag – bagpipes that is – piping while the sun sets! I’m sure that will lull me to sleep! Apparently, this is a nightly occurrence during the summer, weather permitting. I sure hope that it’s not the same girl piper that was busking outside the grocery store in Pictou; I’m certain that she was squeezing a cat!
Tomorrow I’ll be heading onto Cape Breton Island and some of my route will incorporate a small portion of the famous Cabot Trail (with more the next day). It’s said to be very scenic, and we all know by now what that means to a cyclist, don’t we?
Day 64 – Aug 10th -Linwood to Baddeck – 109 kms
And no real big hills – yet!
After a nice quiet ride on Highway 4 with ocean views and virtually no traffic, I had to rejoin 104 to cross over to Cape Breton Island. The Canso Causeway to the island is really narrow, and I was thankful that the swing bridge, over the canal portion, was open to let a boat through, which stopped or slowed much of the traffic.
Highway 105 from the causeway is a great road for cycling. Nice shoulder, not too busy, sure the hills are there, but they’re acceptable. The scenery from the causeway to Whycocomagh is not the greatest, but east of there I started getting some great vistas over the Bras d’Or Lakes. In fact, my campground for tonight is on the lakefront just west of Baddeck (Basil rates this one at three and a half beaver tails, it would have rated four, but it’s a bit over-priced).
Last night and this morning were very cool again (I’m glad that I brought my warmer sleeping bag along!) and it wasn’t until about 11:00 a.m. that the sun produced any heat – but it sure warmed up quick after that! It’s been very hot all afternoon and I expect with the clear skies that it will be cold again tonight. Good for riding in the early mornings though – even if the fingers and toes are a bit chilly! Rain seems to have been postponed until Monday – well, that suits me, as I’ll be on the ferry to Newfoundland that day.
I spotted a quite fresh banana skin on the roadside (bananas are the favourite snack food of cyclists) and thought that I would happen upon another of my ilk – but nothing materialised. I feel like an native tracker sometimes; peering at and examining roadside banana skins – trying to determine how old they are. One has to take into account the weather and general location of the fallen skin – it’s quite an art! But lots of times, I have judged correctly and happened upon another cyclist. What throws you for a loop, is the cyclist who likes eating (drinking) old bananas – yuck!
Baddeck is a resort village, apparently with waterfront boardwalks etc. and geared up for the many visitors to this section of the Cabot Trail. It is also home to the Alexander Graham Bell Museum – where I’m going to go later this afternoon. Perhaps I’ll find some refreshment in the town too – one never knows!