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Michelle's Journal

Nova Scotia

Day Date Entry
80 Mon, Sept 20 We finished our books and hit the road. It finally stopped raining. The ride was fast and pleasant with the wind at our backs. We both felt a bit queasy on the ferry off the island. I prefer the bridge. It's free to enter P.E.I. by bridge or ferry; you only have to pay if you want to leave! Our first impression of Nova Scotia roads is good.

Bill on the ferry from P.E.I. to Nova Scotia
81 Tue, Sept 21 Instead of the obvious Trans-Canada short route, we rode toward Nova Scotia's southern coast. The road was very rough but quiet, cutting through an endless forest of trees. Along this stretch, we saw only a few isolated homes, abandoned homes, abandoned roads and cemeteries. A home here may be a cleared piece of land with just a tiny, old trailer on it. Although many towns appear on the map along this road, none of them have any shops or services. We saw a few failed attempts at ice cream stands and cantinas, with signs advertising them as "open" but nothing there except abandoned falling-over shacks or rust-covered vehicles. We heard there was a restaurant in Sherbrooke, so we travelled west briefly to eat, then returned to our route and camped at Nimrod's Campgrounds.
82 Wed, Sept 22 We travelled east along the coast. Near Isaac's Harbour, we took a short ferry that runs year-round every half hour.

We enjoyed the restaurant in Goldboro, which serves huge green (mint) nanaimo bars for $1.00. Restaurants and convenience stores are few and far between. This is not a tourist route. A few people told us there were campgrounds near Boylston, and as we were both low on cash, for our supper, I bought only hot dog supplies for under $5.00. This was risky, as a number of things would have to fall into place to avoid a supper of raw wieners! We discovered the provincial park was closed for the season, but trekked up the long, steep hill anyway. We found a campsite, and found what we needed to roast our hot dogs. Fortunately, the rain didn't start until after we had our campfire, ate dinner and were comfy in our tent.

83 Thu, Sept 23 We enjoyed a long chat with a Boylston convenience store owner who had worked in Ontario, then returned home. I asked him if the wood square-cabined boats were fishing boats, and he said no, they're pleasure boats. Nobody fishes anymore, as there are no fish and you can't get a license. Only one man in town has a license, and all there is to catch is lobster. The fish stocks dried up about 10 to 12 years ago.

I asked him whether people living in the isolated homes we'd seen were part of any community and he said no, they just keep to themselves. It must be a very different way of life. We also chatted with the new owner of the Mulgrave restaurant, in her first week of operation and hoping for success. She's from Newfoundland and said the locals are from Newfoundland too, and they want the food they're used to, like fish cakes. She felt challenged in serving customers while discovering the constraints of existing equipment and suppliers, but she did well and the food was great. Cycling on hills against the wind today, our pace was absurdly slow. On one fairly steep decline on which a typical speed would be around 40 KPH, we were only going 18 KPH, as the wind was pushing us back up the hill. At one point, our speed going downhill was only 12 KPH. Once we crossed over to Cape Breton Island, we fairly flew with the wind at our backs.

84 Fri, Sept 24 We took Highway 4 to Chapel Island, but as it was narrow with no shoulder and much traffic, again we headed for the southern coast. Many people have asked us whether we would "do the Cabot Trail," the northern coast, but locals say the "trail" is just roads with a lot of tourist traffic, so we're exploring the road less travelled instead. On the southern coast, although you only see the water occasionally and are mainly looking at trees, it's a pleasant ride on a very quiet, new road. Cape Breton is very hilly.

Lobster fishing
85 Sat, Sept 25 A day off, exploring Sydney.

1890s wool tweed bicycling outfit,
Cape Breton Centre for Heritage and Science
86 Sun, Sept 26 After a short ride to North Sydney, we vegged in our hotel room. Most everything is closed on Sundays. We have to get up at 4:30 a.m. tomorrow morning to be at the ferry terminal at 5 for a 6 a.m. departure.

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