Saturday, September 7, 2013

Three provinces in three days

After all that beautiful, warm, dry, August summer weather in Maine and Connecticut, things were bound to change in September. As I rolled into Saint John, New Brunswick on the Tuesday evening following Labor Day, a wet, cold, solid fog rolled in off the Bay of Fundy. It wasn't raining, per se, but it might as well have been.

I found a room in a Howard Johnson hotel just off the Trans-Canada Highway, not far from downtown Saint John, the oldest and largest city in New Brunswick, and second largest in the Maritimes after Halifax, Nova Scotia. This was the view from my fourth-floor window when I got up Wednesday morning:

I took advantage of the morning sunshine to visit the city center. In King's Square there is a monument to Saint John native Charlie Gorman, a world champion speedskater and Olympian in the 1920s, known as the "Man with the Million Dollar Legs."

Saint John is not to be confused with Saint John's, the largest city in Newfoundland -- but probably often is. Located at the mouth of the Saint John River, it's geographic anomaly is the Reversing Falls. Because the Bay of Fundy has the largest tidal range in the world -- an average of 47.5 to 53.5 feet in one spot -- the rapids through a narrow gorge at Saint John run out to sea at low tide but reverse and run in.and when the tide rises.

A few blocks away, the Carnival Glory was tied up at the city pier, disgorging hundreds of tourists ...

... who found their way up the hill to be photographed in King's Square.

I found an open parking spot right on the busy square. I only found out later that, although there were no meters, I was supposed to pay for parking at a kiosk. Oh well, next time.

At Alma, on the shore next to Fundy National Park, the cold fog blows in off the bay and over the bluff above the beach.

A couple from Vermont asked me to take their pictures mugging the camera through the lobster cutout. Then, they returned the favor.

At low tide, fishing boats tied up at Alma are high and dry.

Between Alma and Moncton, my next stop, there are several covered bridges, including this one at Sawmill Creek, built in 1905 to replace an earlier bridge that was destroyed in a storm.

The old bridge itself has been replaced, by-passed by a newer highway and closed to autos and trucks. Ol' Yeller fit nicely between the barricades, however, and I rode across.

After spending the night in Moncton, I awoke to a cold, rainy day, bundled up and headed out encased in GoreTex and wearing my international orange lobsterman gloves. This trip, I brought my boot covers and stayed dry from head to toe while I crossed the Confederation Bridge, connecting New Brunswick with Prince Edward Island, the smallest of the Maritimes.

The bridge is about eight miles long. That's shorter than the 26-mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge I crossed three years ago, I said to the guide at the visitor center. "Yes," she said, "but this is the longest bridge in the world crossing frozen water."

On the New Brunswick side of the bridge, gray clouds hung over a weathered lighthouse. There were plenty of mosquitos, too.

My visit to PEI, as the island is called, included a lunch at Wendy's in Charlottetown, the provincial capital, and a lot of wet road through wet potato fields. I'm sure it's a lovely place when the sun is out. I rode straight from the Confederation Bridge to the Woods Island ferry terminal for a crossing to Nova Scotia, and parked next to a line of trucks to wait for the ship.

The skies began to clear Thursday evening as I rode to Truro, Nova Scotia to spend the night and the setting sun highlighted this memorial to veterans and victims of the Great War.

Friday morning, I stopped at McDonalds in Truro for a quick breakfast and noticed this ritzy new menu item. At $8.99, The McLobster isn't as cheap as a Quarterpounder, but it's still a deal.

By noon, I'd crossed the Canso Causeway that connects Cape Breton Island to the rest of Nova Scotia. A canal, in the foreground, allows boats to get through the passage.

In downtown Middle River, a tiny town on the Cabot Trail, they built a Presbyterian Church right next to a Union Church. The neighbors hold services on alternate Sundays.

At Le Moines, I reached the spectacular Cape Breton shoreline.

I remember this spot on the Old Cabot Trail from a visit in 1956 when I was 10 and my parents took me with them on an epic vacation trek to Cape Breton Island. We parked here at dusk. I slept on the front seat of our Chevy station wagon and mom and dad slept on a matress on top of the folded down rear seats.

When we woke up the next morning, the meadow between the gravel road and the cliff was crowded with sheep. I remember it clearly -- it was a magic moment.

I got to Chéticamp, the last town before Cape Breton National Park, at 4:30 p.m. It would take three hours to ride around the northeastern tip of the island, which meant I couldn't do it before dark. So, I found a motel room near the park entrance and went back to Chéticamp to take some pictures and find dinner at the deli in the local grocery store.

I bought a bottle of wine to go with my chef salad and Tricuits. In Nova Scotia, that means going to the provincial liquor store where the same bottle of Australian Cabernet that costs $6.99 in Hawaii goes for $12.99. One consolation, the U.S. dollar is currenly worth a few cents more than the Canadian -- a welcome change from two years ago in British Columbia when our U.S. dollar was worth only $.87.

The largest and most prominent landmark in Chéticamp is the church, with the flags of Canada, Nova Scotia and Cape Breton flying out front.

The setting sun intensified the colors of the boats tied up on the quay at Chéticamp as I headed back to my motel room to rest up for my morning ride though the national park.


It took three days to cover the distance from Saint John (A) to Chéticamp (E). I spent the first night in Moncton (C) after visiting Fundy National Park (B). The next day, I took the 8-mile Confederation Bridge to Price Edward Island and then ferried (E) to Nova Scotia, spending the night in Truro (F). From there, it was a long ride through Antigonish (G) and the Campo Causeway to Cape Breton Island and the Cabot Trail, stopping at Chéticamp (H), just outside Cape Breton Highlands National Park.


1 comment:

  1. Chronicled in words and pictures. Sailing along with a motorcycle.