Day 153: Sydney River to North Sydney and the ferry to Argentia, Newfoundland

The ferry to Argentia leaves at 5pm and it was only 20km from Bill and Helen’s place, so we weren’t in too much of a rush to get going. We had breakfast and then Bill took us on a quick drive and tour around Sydney.

We gave ourselves enough time to reach the ferry by the required 3pm cutoff. When we reached the ferry we saw Megan’s bike, and then soon saw another couple Lois and Paul who we had seen earlier in Pictou. Having all just ridden across Canada and now having less than 150km to go until we were done, we could share in each others excitement, and stories of highlights and lowlights from the road. It seemed we all were happy to be almost complete, sharing a certain level of exhaustion we were all feeling, but still happy for having had the experience.

The ferry ride itself was quite enjoyable – it always feels like a bit of a luxury to be moving without any effort. It was even more enjoyable too since Jesse decided to splurge on a cabin. This ferry discourages sleeping anywhere but in a cabin. Though you may be able to get away with it in the theater, it would be hard to spend so much time trying to sleep in an upright airline type chair. It did seem like some people managed to sleep in the lounge, but they had a video playing of the rules on board that said this wasn’t allowed.

As for the food, there was an expensive buffet, or an overpriced small shop which sold basic sandwiches, hot dogs, and soup. Neither option was very appealing.

Day 152: St. Peters to Sydney River

Today we had only an 80km ride which was quite nice. We were to stay with my dads friend Bill in Sydney River, and with very few place on the route I knew we wouldn’t be tempted with too many places to stop. However the thick morning fog encouraged us to stay a bit longer at the Tim Hortons in town.

Around 10:30 we really got going, riding through on and off mist, rain, and sometimes just cloud cover. It was a cool day but the extreme moisture and humidity in the air kept us from feeling too cool. We did have some nice views along the lake, even if we missed the Cabot Trail.

We stopped for lunch at a roadside stop, Me and the Mrs, which was really the only place to stop on the way. And to its credit, its past clientele includes Sir Paul McCartney. From there I called Bill to let him know where we were at. Only 30km more to his place.

As we left our lunch spot the rain became harder but knowing we didn’t have far to go kept the rain from being to disappointing.

We arrived at Bill and Helen’s in the early evening and enjoyed talking late into the night with them. We didn’t get an opportunity to try out their pool, but in saving the Cabot Trail we know we will have to return another time.

Day 151: Antigonish to St. Peters

The morning started with some fog and mist but it didn’t take too long for it to dissipate. Not long into our ride the sun was shining and we could more properly enjoy Nova Scotia. We took some nice side roads which gave us ocean views as we made our way to Port Hawkesbury. Just before the causeway we stopped at Tim Hortons for our usual daily break. We hadn’t reached Port Hawkesbury yet but when we did pass through it didn’t really seem like we missed an opportunity in town by stopping earlier at Tim Hortons. We chose to take Highway 4 to the east and through St. Peter’s. This was mostly a last minute decision because the distance from Antigonish to St. Peters worked better for us than a long day to Baddeck would have. It would have been great to ride the Cabbot Trail, but saving it for another trip will work out quite well too. As well we knew we wanted to go to Sydney River, so it was shorter to take Highway 4 to get there the following day.

We ran into another girl who was also riding across Canada. Megan was great fun to talk to, and also enjoying finally having a sunny day after quite a few rainy days. She joked and apologized for how much talking she did, saying she hadn’t talked to people in quite some time.

We reached St Peters in the early evening, and it did seem like quite a nice little town on the water, with a lighthouse glowing in the setting sun. To be able to photograph the nice view though it seemed like we would have had to find a way behind the main street buildings, which I didn’t do at the time and didn’t have an opportunity to later on.

Day 150: New Glasgow to Antigonish

It was another rainy day today but this time we had to ride, at least a bit farther than yesterday. The whole time we were riding in a heavy mist/rain, and in very heavy winds. The winds were mostly a side wind and occasionally a tail wind. At least not often headwind.

We found a better road to ride on than the Trans Canada. Highway 4 runs more or less parallel to the Trans Canada and was fairly free of traffic. We took that the whole way to Antigonish, with the exception of one small area of 5 or 6 kilometres where we had to ride on the highway. The highway was exceptionally busy; apparently because of the long weekend, the return to university, and another special event taking place in Antigonish. Luckily though we were able to find a room in town and were able to get out of the rain early in the day.

Day 149: Pictou, NS to New Glasgow

A very short day indeed. Jesse needed a work day and rain was in the forecast so we decided to move at least 20km to a new town and made our way to New Glasgow. We started our morning by going to Sharon’s Place restaurant, a place filled with locals in the center of Pictou.

Then we had no choice but to take the highway towards New Glasgow. We rode along the causeway which connected Pictou, but along with a lot of wind and traffic on this route there also seemed to be a lot of dead birds. The road through the middle of the open water probably confuses the birds, putting them in harms way. This area didn’t smell very good either. Not because of the dead birds – there weren’t that many, but something was causing a foul smell. A little while later we passed an area near a land fill site, again foul smelling. There was heavy and loud traffic for an area I didn’t expect to be so busy, and as we neared New Glasgow we ended up riding in the gravel part of the shoulder for lack of a decent paved shoulder. Nova Scotia just isn’t setting a good first impression! (I didn’t even take one picture today)

The rest of the day was spent in Tim Hortons and at a motel, avoiding the persistent rain and winds really would have made for an unpleasant ride.

Day 148: Charlottetown to Pictou, NS

We took the trail into Charlottetown where we stopped for a bit before continuing across PEI. Leaving the trail we seemed to loose some of the initial charms of PEI, but not too long after we got out of Charlottetown’s vicinity the traffic calmed and even being on the TransCanada it was quiet and peaceful.

The ferries to Nova Scotia seemed to be almost every two hours, so we decided to pick up our pace a bit to try to make it to the 4:30 ferry instead being stuck there waiting over an hour for the next one to arrive. At 4:25 we pulled up to the gate where we had to purchase our ticket, and they told us that yes we can make the ferry. We rode down to the ferry and made it on board, just in time.

It was a 75 minute crossing which gave us time to get something to eat on board and enough time to relax. Maybe it was because it was an overcast day, but it wasn’t too scenic of a crossing. Except for the immediate departure from PEI which was quite nice – and it seemed as though PEI planned it that way, but it was still nice being on the water.

We arrived in Pictou early enough in the evening that I had the chance to walk into town and take photos during the best hour of sunlight. Appropriately, there was a bagpipe band playing as well. I saw a sign when arriving saying there was music every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night so I thought this band may be a part of that but it turns out they were just the warm-up for the show which took place inside the arts center, not outside as I had hoped. It was a paid and ticketed event so the bagpipe warm-up band had to suffice!