Day 6: Antigonish, NS to Meat Cove, NS
I woke up around 6 to the sound of birds chirping in the birch trees. I had rested wonderfully and had the luxury of a shower and warm oatmeal before leaving camp. The weather looked to be partly cloudy, temps in the low 60's and a bit windy along the water.
Our first geographically significant item of the day was passing across the Canso Causeway to the island of Cape Breton.
After crossing, we decided to ride along the western coast of the island. The road signs began to change from English and French to English and Gaelic :eek1 We passed a few Celtic music centers and local information stations before riding through the small town of Port Hood. The wind whipped white caps on the water as we passed the church, a tired school, cottages nearly shut for the end of summer season and the sturdy weathered seaside homes.
The dirt detour along Little Mabou Rd was worth the beautiful views of cows, gravel, grassy fields and the crashing waves along the rocky cliffs.
We took a short break in Little Mabou for Beard to adjust his clanky chain and for me to pick apples and read local history. The area has a rich history of Scottish settlement due to fertile soil, rich fishing and lobster grounds and abundant mining resources.
Of course we have to stop at Glenora Distillery.
It is THE ONLY single malt manufacturer in North America.
I loved the cutting boards but alas I could not justify bringing it along. An hour later we actually drove past the "Cutting Baord Shop" where they made these things :huh
From Glenora, we set out for Baddeck skirting the south shore of Lake Ainslie
We make our way over to Badeck and roll down through the main street. There are many people out and about enjoying the sunny weather and shops/restaurants along the water. Our destination is the Alexander Graham Bell Museum. It is amazing how many interesting projects and concepts he was working on from hydrofoils to aids for the deaf and blind
Beard has a few more pics of the town and surroundings I believe. Maybe not. Stop in if you are passing through!
After fueling up along the 101, we turned North onto the Cabot Trail.
The road snaked higher into the interior along low mountains and small lakes contained in their valleys. After spending some time behind a line of slow cars, we decided to take a side trip over to the Shore Road at Margaree Forks. Working our way south, I noted a road that jutted off to the right and back north again connecting with the Shore Rd. Farquhar Rd - Perfect!
It quickly turned to gravel :D
Then to this :thumb
After getting stuck in some slippery mud and having a hard time riding through the low hanging limbs, we decided to take a break to scout ahead. Some of the ruts were looking much deeper than a fully loaded GS without knobbies should tackle a few thousand miles from home.
It looked like we weren't the only ones using this "Road"
Maybe the only humans!
After scouting ahead for 1/4 mile or so, the conditions didn't improve so we decided to turn around. I roade back downhille and tried to direct Beard. "OH SHIT! Don't go this way! Stay to the left dude!!!" As soon as I got crossed up in the rut and dumped her, my first reaction was to dance away and take a picture! I think Beard almost fell over from laughing so hard. :rofl
Picking the bike up was relatively easy but getting it out of that rut was a bit harder. I plowed on down the rocky and rutted path until it began to gravel out again near a clearing and an abandoned old white farmhouse. Just down from there we came around a bend to find the entire road blocked by an electric company cherry picker truck working on some overhead wires. The look of the work crew as we descended down the rutted path to "nowehere" was priceless. He sorta let us scoot past the truck with 6 inches to spare between my front tire and a deep ditch. Fun :thumb
Shortly thereafter, we found ourselves back along the Shore Rd, vents on the jackets open to evaporate the sweat worked up in the woods.
The cliff and cemetery above Whale Cove was absolutely stunning. What a beautiful place.
Beard strikes a pose
We take a nice break laying in the grass and drying out our gear. After fueling up on granola bars and taking tons of cool pictures, we set off North along the shore toward Margaree Harbor and eventually Cheticamp.
Along the way we see our first moose of the trip.
We spent about an hour in Cheticamp riding through then shopping. We passed a beauty on a bicycle backtracking to the NSLC for libations.
While in the NSLC, she walks in to buy some wine. Good wine. Beard and I sorta nod at each other. Think I may move :evil
Okay onward, time for some fresh seafood. We wind up getting smoked salmon from a place the cashier at NSLC recommended all the way back by the moose we saw. Once we secure the salmon, we have to stop to get bread and some other forgettable dinner items at the grocery store. Guess who we see in the grocery store? The same bicycle girl. After checkout we head out of town only to pass by her once more as she rides North. Seriously?:huh
Shortly after leaving Cheticamp, we enter the Cape Breton Highlands National Park.
It is truly breathtaking. If you live on the east coast of the US, it is a MUST ride!
This famous overlook
After curving around the twisty mountain passes, the road begins to rise to about 1500 meters and the climate and vegetation changes quickly.
We had a spirited ride back down from the highlands and eventually made the turn left toward Meat Cove. They were paving the road to Bay St. Lawrence and Deadman's Pond. Later we found out that a resort somewhere along the road paid to have the frost heaved road repaved.
Love the wooden bridges here!
The road to Meat Cove then turns to dirt for 8 or 10 k to camp.
We pull around the last bend in the cliff and come to the overlook casting our gaze on Meat Cove. For Beard this is the northernmost point he will travel on this trip with me. If it weren't for the stupid ferry to NL being down, he could have made it there as well. The sun was falling lower in the sky as we pulled up toward the small campground office building and shed on the hilltop. The kind young woman running the camp took our evening's site rental and pointed us to the allowable motorcycle spots. We chose one right on the cliff's edge and set up our tents. The wind was blowing steadily so staking everything down kept us from rappelling down the cliffside to collect our tents and belongings.
After getting setup, I decided to walk down to the beach for a swim.
Kicking back on the beach was exactly what I needed after the day's ride. The temps were in the 60's but the sun was keeping my wet back warm as I relaxed to the sound of the waves.
Walking back up to camp, this is the small creek that winds down to the bay.
Back at camp, Beard has taken a shower and is feeling somewhat normal (as much as he can without a travelling chiropractor). We notice a Kawi Concours10 parked up the hill from us. Damn! Those look like Virginia tags. Naw. YES! I go introduce myself and ask where he is from in VA. Turns out he lives in Falls Church. My house is a mile from the East Falls Church Metro! What a small world. We invite him (can't remember his name) down to eat his dinner at our firepit and swap stories. Shortly after, a VStrom pulls in and I walk up and invite him down when he gets things settled.
An hour or so later, at the farthest end of the island of Cape Breton, a photographer, school teacher, writer and cartographer passed a bottle of Candian Whisky while swapping stories and plans for the future. The stars were beautiful , the wind blew strong and I could not have been happier as I fell asleep that night with a sense of accomplishment. Tomorrow I ride to The Rock and part ways with my travelling compadre.
No doubt, Beard will have a greater recollection and quality of pics from our stay on the cliffside.