Thursday, August 14, 2008

(Mark) Aug 9 - 13: Nova Scotia Redux

OK I am getting behind on this blog thing - time to update while I have the time.

Aug 9: only 16km today!
I checked out Placentia and visited Castle Hill, which has fabulous views of Placentia Bay, before getting on the ferry at Argentia. It rained somewhat all day. I re-met up with Andy and Christa on the ferry and also met a German backpacker named Deiter and we had a fine time chatting and eating on the ferry. I slept well, once again on the 7th deck lounge floor.

Aug 10: 112km to Glendale, NS.
I got off the ferry at 9:30 and had a nice ride down St Andrew's Channel, through Grand Narrows and Iona and down Portage Rd parallel to the highway. The scenery was nice but not spectacular, and I felt like putting some km behind me on Cape Breton before hitting the Eastern shore, so I decided to get back on the highway after Portage Rd, and I made some nice mileage on the excellent Nova Scotia highways - great pavement, good shoulders. In Glendale I was asking directions to a farm I'd seen a sign for (thinking I could pitch a tent there) from a nice gentleman, we got to chatting, and when he discovered the farm I was heading for he said "oh you can't stay there, they're a bunch of g*dd*mn hippies up there, you can stay here". And thus I made the aquaintance of Roger and Maureen. Roger and I went trout fishing (first time for me, he caught a trout, I got a few nibbles but no bites), and we ate the trout for dinner. They live in a 160-year-old house that Roger fixed up, it is gorgeous and apparently people come from all over to see it. Very nice stay there indeed. Thanks Roger and Maureen!!

Aug 11: 87km to Guysborough
Roger and Maureen fed me a big breakfast despite my protestations. I took the TCH into Port Hastings, back across the Canso Causeway, and turned left down the coast road. It was an interesting ride, not too much to see though. Once I got into Guysborough I was cruising the main street when two nice ladies called me over and asked where I was going, etc. Turns out they had both bike toured, both different tours across the USA. I ended up sleeping in their beach house, it was a big family vacation house, and I kayaked on the ocean in the afternoon! (another first for me) So big thanks to Jim, Jim, Susanna, Stuart, and especially Sarah and Caroline for hosting me!

Aug 12: 103km to Goldenville, past Sherbrook
After breakfast at the beach house I hit the road. I took the Larry's River road south from Guysborough and then the dirt road to New Harbour, in order to avoid going around the big Canso peninsula. It was foggy all morning and then turned into a downpour, which I mostly sat out at Goldboro, and chatted with locals for an hour or so. Then over the cute cable ferry, on which I chatted with a nice couple from Montreal - seeing my socks drying on my bike they insisted that I take a couple of pairs of dry socks! Very nice and slightly odd gift! I went out of the way to visit the lighthouse at Port Bickerton, which is on a nice point, with great views. The rain started up in earnest nearing Sherbrook and I sat out some of it on a porch, visiting with some cats (the porch owners weren't home). Sherbrook sits on the fine St Mary's River valley and I also sat out some rain at the salmon conservation centre just outside of town. Thankfully at about 5:30 the rain stopped and the sun came out all at once as I was entering town, so I carried on to Goldenville looking for a spot to camp. Upon stopping at the first house to fill up water bottles, I met Jason and Eric who of course promptly said "why don't you just camp in the yard?" and then their mum Doreen took a look at me and said "are you kidding? you have to sleep in the basement". So we ended the day with pizza and beer and watching some Olympics.

I should point out that I haven't turned on my camp stove in five days at this point and I was actually looking forward to camping and cooking for myself that night, but I just can't refuse Nova Scotian hospitality! Everyone is really eager to help out the traveller it seems.

Aug 13: 97km to Spry Harbour
Nice riding along the shoreside towns all day today. One interesting highlight was a scarecrow collection, similar to the one near Cheticamp, but unlike that one (which was fun and silly) this one was downright creepy, with everyone looking like Thriller extras, and no fun icecream stand to set it off. Weird. Upon getting past Sheet Harbour I started looking for a place to camp. I stopped at one guy's house to get water and ask whether camping on the beach was legal (it isn't, I found out later) but he was kind of crazy so I beat a hasty retreat and asked at another place, where I got water. So camping on the beach is out, so I was going to stop at a rest stop and camp, but I had to find a phone to call ahead to accomodations for Aug 14 (a host in Head of Chezzetcook) so I stopped at the first house past the rest stop. And guess what? The house owner owns all the land behind and beside the rest stop, invited me to camp there, and we had a great chat. So thanks to Owen for that! It was a great camp: no bugs, beautiful location on a tiny island poking out into the harbour (an old road came onto the island), and in the evening there were two foxes cavorting about 30m from me that I watched for quite a while.

Tomorrow (today, as I write this) is 100 days on the trip! And the day after is Halifax!!

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