Today is yet another rainy day but much warmer. We have had the worst weather of any road trip I have been on so far but it did not manage to dampen our spirits. Arrival in Ottawa seemed almost tropical compared to the East Coast temperatures we endured just a couple of days ago. We stopped for a “poutine” lunch, the infamous French fries with gravy and melted cheese curd that Quebecers eat by the ton. The Quebecois language continuous to amaze me; it is spoken with machine gun like precision. It vaguely sounds like French just like a guy from Louisiana can remind you of the English language. French people are totally bewildered when they come to Quebec and for good reason. I can understand the emotional desire for separation in Quebec, as this province is culturally so different from the rest of Canada. It just does not make any economic sense. The end of this trip is here and any time you complete a journey of 7,500 km without incidents it can be deemed successful. The timing is perfect as we ran out of conversation 20 minutes ago. All kidding aside; Eric has been good company and my job now is to convince him of participating in a 2016 European trip. The bike will be stored at my cousin’s house in Kingston until then. My flight from Canada to Holland is not until June 21, which will give me ample time to visit friends and relatives. In the meantime I am looking forward to be back in Thailand beginning of July, A big thank you goes out to all the people who extended us their hospitality. This trip was an excellent shake down of the bike. It has exceeded my expectations and l am looking forward to hopping into the saddle again next year.
We ended up being in the U.S. rather briefly although we had planned to camp there for a few days.
First thing in the morning some pictures needed to be taken of this place on the Bay. What a view from the deck of our motel!
Next item on the agenda was breakfast at the same place we had dinner, just a couple of hundred meters down the road. The waitress made me feel like I was back in Thailand again, where it is normal to be served something completely different than what you asked for. The order taking in this case was also superfluous. I asked for my eggs “sunny side up” and received them “easy over”. I asked for brown toast and got white. The icing on the cake was the refill of my ½ cup of tea with coffee. She had a rough night, was her excuse. Her husband was in the kitchen and for all I knew he was the guilty party. Upwards and onwards.
Maine is gorgeous.
We dove off of the Interstate where 16 wheelers were blowing up huge rooster tails of water into our faces and opted for some twisty country roads. Even in the rain it was a pleasure.
Back into Canada
We got as far as Sherbrooke in Quebec and checked into a motel totally spent at around 8 p.m. and are only about 4 hours from Ottawa, which will end the East Coast trip 4 days ahead of schedule due to continuous shitty weather. Weather notwithstanding , it has been a magnificent experience.
We woke up under sunny skies for a change but with a temperature of only 2oC. By the time we left around 9 it had already warmed up considerably, relatively speaking. Eric seems to have friends in every nook & cranny of the east coast and today we were invited for lunch at a friend’s house whose only address was Pembroke Wharf Road, without a particular town.
The Yellow Dot Is No Bee; It’s Eric
No number either as they are the only people on the road on top of a hill overlooking the Bay of Fundy.
This photo was taken during the winter of 2014
On the way we passed several small conservative looking towns each one with their own claim to fame: “Canada’s Soccer Capital” and “The Bird Watching Capital of Nova Scotia” or ”World Famous Home of the Scallop”. Not to be outdone each church had a slogan of its own:
“1 Cross + 3 Nails = 4 Given”.
“7 days without prayer makes 1 weak”.
“A bad day at work is better than a good day in hell.”
I’m sure you get the picture of the overall ambience. We arrived at low tide and were barely able to see water about 5 km from the shore. As mentioned previously, the highest tides in the world are found in the Bay of Fundy with a 55 ft. difference between high and low tide.
Low tide at the Bay
We revisited the Bay but this time on the other side, no less spectacular. Eric’s friends really live in the middle of nowhere. It is great to visit but forget about living there, especially in the winters. Because the ferry from Digby to St John left at 4 p.m. we only had about a 1-½ hour to chat before climbing on the bikes again. Our timing proved to be perfect with 15 minutes to spare. The 3-hour journey across the Bay ended up taking 4 hours due to rescue of a fisherman who got injured badly on his boat and had to be brought to hospital.
It was obvious the crew had not practiced this exercise for a while but all in all they did a commendable job hauling the injured man aboard after having to lower one of the sloops with a stretcher to meet up with the fishing boat. Emergency response was swift. A Navy 4 engine propeller plane also circled overhead. As so often happens, when there is something worthwhile filming you run out of battery power.
Most of the action had to be taken with the wide angled Go Pro. St John did not look that appealing and we pushed on until 9 p.m. when we found a very nice motel right on the mouth of the Bay. Fortunately there was still a restaurant open serving fresh fried clams and scallops. It was a fitting end to the last of the seafood binge.
On our way to “Fine Dining”
As far as dinner at the campground is concerned we could avoid the oysters and found a “Fine Dining” establishment about 8 km down the road where we had some surprisingly excellent steak, while overlooking the Atlantic. We are starting to grow fins from al the seafood. There are certain drawbacks when camping on the permafrost of Cape Breton. The first 15 minutes after lying down cocooned in the down sleeping bag and 2 sweaters are absolutely fine. No complaints there. Slowly the temperature of your back starts to deteriorate because the air in the matrass begins to take on the ground temperature and seeps through the sleeping bag and the sweaters to the point where you think you are lying on a sheet of ice, which of course you are, although this is a foot below ground. The only way to rectify this was to fold out my Gortex motorcycle jacket with rubber padding in the back and place the sleeping bag with me in it on the jacket. It worked like a charm and I slept until Eric awoke me at 8:30. If Chicago is the Windy City, than Nova Scotia must be the Windy Province. It just does not let up. We left the campground at 11 after breakfast and completed the Cabot Trail, which led us onto the highway to Halifax. The Cabot Trail had been the most fun strictly from a riding standpoint with lots of twist, turns and switchbacks.
Europe is full of these type of roads but for the most part North America’s roads have been designed North-South, East –West, which maybe efficient but not much fun unless you are on a Harley or Goldwing as that is what these bikes excel at; going straight. Eric’s friend Ross had invited us to stay Friday and Saturday at his home and he would have the BBQ fired up by the time we got there. He had in fact a great meal waiting for us upon arrival. Ross kindly offered us the use of the house as he would be out of town on Saturday but as it was pouring with rain he gave us a key for us to wait it out till Sunday when friendlier skies are in the forecast.
With an acceptable temperature of 18o, the morning gave us a good opportunity to do some exploring by foot, umbrella in hand. We walked the down town area and the redone waterfront, where some interesting vessels were moored.
Eric had spent some time here when he was in the Navy, many moons ago.
The full might of the Canadian Navy is clearly visible in the back ground.
Halifax offers up a variety of things to do and we will take in a gypsy jazz concert tonight. I have decided to Photoshop all my pictures blue when I get home and to make the collages a bit more cheery looking.
A pensive Eric but what a view
At nine in the morning and in the pouring rain, we rode the bikes to Sydney (N.S.), 125 km from River Bourgeois. They were both due for an oil change & filter. By 12:30 we were all done and decided to have a look at The Fortress of Louisbourg, 32 km from town.
It is a National Historic Site of Canada and the location of a one-quarter partial reconstruction of an 18th-century French fortress at Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. Its two sieges, especially that of 1758, were turning points in the Anglo-French struggle for what today is Canada. The fortifications eventually surrounded the town. The walls were constructed mainly between 1720 and 1740. By the mid-1740s Louisbourg was one of the most extensive (and expensive) European fortifications constructed in North America. The rain would not let up, the wind was howling and stirring up huge waves crashing against the foggy rocks on the shore. A drenched muddy road leads up to the reconstructed town, where we were pretty well the only visitors. We both resembled the Michelin man but without the smile. Even though we were quadruple layered including raingear, somehow water can find its way down to your crotch. The duck tape on my boots had long worn out its effectiveness, letting cold water seep in.
Waddling around like the Yeti quickly turned into disinterest and we made our way back to the house where Delores was already cooking mussels. The mechanic at the shop had sung the praises of the local snow crab and having mentioned this to Delores she immediately got on the phone to order some. We went to get 3 monsters; they came with a gallon of seawater to cook them in.
Talk about flavour! The tastiest crab I’ve ever sunk my teeth in, came doused in garlic butter.
Contrary to the weatherman’s promises we awoke under cloudy skies. Could it be that the Nova Scotia sunshine forecast means ‘no rain’? Well, at least it was dry when we bid Delores adieu and set off direction Cape Breton’s Cabot Trail. She had received us with open arms and doted over us for 2 days. Thanks so much Delores for your hospitality!
View from the garden of Delores
I’ve come to know that if it doesn’t rain for 3 days in a row, the provincial government declares a drought. It was still cold but we were dressed for it. The electric vest kept me nice & toasty.
The Cabot Trail is in fact no trail at all but a 2-lane winding highway as smooth as a baby’s bum. The route measures 298 km (185 mi) in length and completes a loop around the northern tip of the island, passing along and through the scenic Cape Breton Highlands.
There are hiking trails leading off the main road. A little more than ¾ into the “trail” we found a campground perched on top of a hill overlooking the ocean.
The campground offers fresh oysters for dinner. For breakfast and lunch you have a choice of fresh oysters. They also serve beer but they can only sell you one if you order oysters. I’m not kidding! They have a license to serve beer with food only. It is supposed to stay dry until Saturday and we will make the most of it.
To get away from the stifling heat of Thailand during this time of the year look no further than the refreshing Maritime Provinces of Canada. Since Sunday the temperatures have not broken into the teens. June 1st we spent taking in the sites of the island but the frigid temperatures had us back in the hotel by 3 p.m.
Eric through the forest
A Used To Be
Today was the litmus test for man & gear. The bikes are happy rain or shine. We started out tranquil enough with cloudy skies, 6 degrees but dry, save for a bit a spitting. I checked on the Internet to see the departure time of the ferry to be 11:15 a.m. By 10:30 we already pulled up to the booth only to find out that the departure time of 11:15 was from the other side and our ferry was only leaving at 1 p.m. The lady at the booth guided us to a restaurant called Brehaust in Murray Harbour 15 km down the road, where we could spend the time waiting.
The place turned out to be a great find with hospitable staff and good home cooked food. When we finally made it on the boat the heavens opened up and remained that way until River Bourgeois. The wife of a friend of Erics who passed away several months ago invited us for dinner and a bed, which we accepted with both hands. With the knowledge that we would run into foul weather, I made sure to buy waterproof boots and ended up with a pair of highly touted ICON Reign Waterproof Motorcycle Boots. If you like to lounge around the house with motorcycle boots they probably are waterproof. Other than that they are useless.
My feet would not have been wetter wearing flip-flops. Few things are worse than riding in a 6-degree downpour with wet feet and hands for several hours. The most important thing was that our core temperature stayed at an acceptable level. The otherworldly beauty of Nova Scotia left us (for now) literally cold until we got to the house where Erics friend Delores welcomed us with a stiff drink and lasagna a la maison.
The panniers proved to be watertight as did the Cabella drybag. It is quite sobering to see the trees just starting to bud on June 2.There is a good reason why I spend most of my time in Thailand.
Delores home is right on the shore of the Atlantic with a view to kill for. I will post some photos on Thursday when the weather is supposed to be better. Her son caught a tiny lobster with a line and a mackeral from her back yard.
“That’s not a lobster; it’s a mobster” says Eric
An ideal setting once you are inside the house today. Because tomorrows weather is still bad; we are getting the bikes serviced in Sydney for oil & filter about 110 km from here and will stay another night.
Eric is a neat and tidy person, which is an asset and virtue to be sure. To give you an example; when I awoke he had already made a B-Line for the local Starbucks and carefully made his bed in order to save the chambermaid the work. Very commendable but now she thinks we slept in one bed. Eric does not care. I liked to think she will have something to ponder for the rest of the day and ruffled my bed a little more.
If someone blind folded me and dropped me off in the middle of P.E.I. and asked about my location I would say; Holland. It’s windy, rainy and chilly. In spite of this the morale was high as we jumped on the bikes, direction Anne of Green Gables on the east coast of the island.
Anne of Green Gables House & Barn
Eric of Red Stables
“Anne of Green Gables” is a novel read the world over mostly by women and was translated into 17 languages and is one of the major tourist attractions on the island. I owe it to my dear mother to go there 1st, since she is an avid fan of all 7 books. All of them have been read several times by her. She is not alone; the largest group of foreigners paying homage is the Japanese. This morning about 40 to 50 Japanese women and 3 bewildered men, obviously dragged on the trip by their wives, were checking in the hotel when we returned from breakfast. The humble potato is another thing P.E.I. is known for. The quality of the potatoes grown here is 2nd to none and when you see the rich red brown clay you understand why.
The only other place I have seen that equals the deep green color of the grass is New Zealand. Nature in P.E.I. offers a spectacle of intense colors. Thankfully it is still too cold for the tourist masses and only a handful of people were at “The Gables” when we arrived.
We had lunch at an excellent oyster bar. The oysters in Thailand are 3 x the size with 1/3 of the flavor. The Thais make up for that by adding garlic, herbs and spices. All in all; a great but frigid day and we will top it off by watching the Italian Moto GP tonight.
Feeling much better but still with some lockjaw I set off to meet up with Eric at the campground in Alma on the Bay of Fundy, which is known for having the highest tidal range in the world. Measurements of a 16.8-metre (55-foot) tidal range in Leaf Basin for Ungava Bay and 17 meters (56 feet) at Burnt Coat have been registered.
The boats in Alma harbor were clearly floating upon arrival but when we set off for Charlottetown in Prince Edward Island, (commonly known as P.E.I.) all vessels were lying on dry sand. Eric had already spent 2 days at the campground and since the next 4 days are supposed to be rainy we did not want to sit in a small tent for 4 days and pack wet gear.
We stopped to get something to eat in a roadside restaurant. The menu consisted of the regular fare and I asked for the “Toasted Western” listed. Not everyone will be familiar with this sandwich but it is quite common in Canada, consisting of fried egg, onion, green pepper and tomato. After about 15 minutes the lady who took the order said; “I’m sorry, it’s my 1st day and I don’t know how to make a toasted western. I don’t know anything!” “What about a peanut butter sandwich?” I asked. “Really, do you mean that”? She could make it with crunchy peanut butter. Perfect. I have to add she was quite embarrassed and did not charge me for the sandwich, Erics muffin and coffee. We left $5.- on the table. She promised to learn how to make it before we made our way back. To cut off some distance we took a dirt road for 26 km. I have to say I am very pleased with the bike as it just floats over potholes and bumps.
Bridge of Madison County look-a-like
The way to get to P.E.I. from New Brunswick used to be by ferry but nowadays there is a 16-mile bridge spanning the water. We were warned of the high winds and cold temperatures but we had the 25 knot wind in the back which made it a piece of cake. P.E.I. is quite unlike New Brunswick and Quebec with its pine forests. Rolling hills, green pastures and lots of elbowroom. We rode past many “Kodak Moments” but we will get a chance during the next few days on the island for lots of photos. Eric had called a friend in Charlottetown who recommended a restaurant and joined us for dinner. The lobster and mussels were outstanding!
I did not know if they meant before or after so to be sure I washed my hands twice. We settled in a “Best Western” hotel, (not related to the sandwich) and we will see what the next few days will bring when we explore the island.
I really wanted to catch up with Eric on Friday but I only got as far as Fredericton, New Brunswick. The antibiotics are doing their job and you can feel the fierce battle of microorganisms that is taking place in your body. Strangely, my whole right jaw feels tight, like I just got a needle from the dentist. Alexander Fleming must be thanked even though he discovered penicillin by chance, in 1928, after he accidentally left a dish of bacteria uncovered for a few days. The side effect of nausea almost made me throw up in my helmet and the thought of it made me call it a day at 3:30 p.m.
in Fredericton, the mosquitos are out in full force. First thing that must be done when you get in the room is to go on a killing spree. Alongside the voracious black fly, they are Canada’s biggest curse. I had the Go Pro on my helmet but in no time the lens was covered with various bugs.
Need some firewood?
There are 498 paper mills in Quebec, which is a lot but the province covers a huge piece of real-estate.
The layers of clothing I left with came off one by one, starting with my electric vest, until I ran out of room on the bike. Considering my condition I am glad I don’t have to camp tonight in retrospect. Tomorrow should be an improvement and I will take a leisurely drive to meet up with Eric about 185 km from here. He is camping in Alma on the Bay of Fundy. We were supposed to go to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island first and then the Bay of Fundy on the return leg; hence the title of the blog. I am not changing it and we’ll merrily push on from there. Hopefully we can spend a few days relaxing in the campground although Eric has spent 2 days in Alma already .