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Nick & Tim’s Travel Diary

Monday, 08 Sep 2003

Location: North Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada

Map8820 km

Well New Brunswick did have a little more to offer. A nice stay at Moussa's campground in Sackville and a couple more French speaking towns. All of it scenic of course. Our last morning in New Brunswick was spent following the bit of Trans Canada trail that runs almost to the bridge to Prince Edward Island (PEI). We had a most fantastic breakfast in a little diner-style cafe in a little town and had a good old chat with the owner. His reaction to us saying we'd biked from BC was 'holy shit!' and he gave us a discount on pancakes and toast. Top guy. Unfortunately the trail deteriorated to loose rock and inthe end we had to drop off it just before the Confederation Bridge.
The Confederation Bridge - a very long bridge let us tell you. Its covered in video cameras unfortunately and bikes aren't allowed, so unfortunately we had to catch the shuttle across. Robbed of 13km. Oh well, it was a scenic ride.
We got to PEI not knowing what to expect. Everyone raves about how great it is, but can never tell you whats there. Well, for a start there's a lot of red dirt. Iron content we're told. Makes it all look very nice. There's also a lot of beautiful rolling hills and farms. In fact the whole place looks like English countryside - not a bad thing. Best of all, coke comes in glass bottles. They have the only bottle reusage programme in the whole of North America and it means coke in glass. We all know coke tastes best from glass. Our ride on PEI was to follow the confederation trail which makes up the Trans Canada Trail in the province. But we decided to make a few little detours as well, to get the best out of our tour. So on the first day we took a bit of trail through rolling farms and cute houses and then got on the road to go North to the first bit of National Park on the Island. A very nice campground there meant for a nice night next to a beach. The place was named Cavendish. The sunset was awesome as you will see in our photos. The beach had warm water too. As prejudiced Pacific Ocean people, we thought the Atlantic was always crappy and cold. We were wrong.
Next day we avoided the Anne of Green Gables House (she's from PEI and is on every piece of plastic souvenir junk on the island) and headed back onto the confederation trail to ride along the island. Our first stop however was to gorge on the best baked treats we've come across yet at the bakery in North Rustico. The trail took us through some more nice English style farms, with a a red undercoat and past some nice villages. The weather was beautiful for and it was a very nice ride. The trail was red as well (due to the red soil) and it was all pretty pleasant. At the end of the day we were at Greenwich, where the other part of the national park can be found. The park itslef being at the end of a 10km cape. After a long days ride we decided it had to be done anyway, so we offloaded the paniers with the tent and rode out to the cape to look at the dunes. A VERY nasty headwind making it quite a journey. We got there to see some nice dunes. There were some comments about how we have plenty of dunes in Australia why see this one, but looking back it was worth it for sure. The ride back to the tent was too as the headwind became our engine. That night we were kept awake by some very strange guys talking about their own body parts until Nick lost it and they went to another site.
In the morning it was time to finish the Confederation Trail by riding right to the end of the island. The scenery slowly but surely changed from pretty countryside back to good old Canadian conifers, interspersed with good old Canadian Maple - very nice tunnels of green to cycle through. The wind also began to gust up. At the end of the trail was a rail museum with a model railway (Tim snuck in and had a look pretending not to be interested to maintain his image). We cycled beyond the trail to a lighthouse at the end of the cape which was in fact a little dissappointing and then made our way back down the Eastern coast of the Island, drinking glass bottle cokes at regular intervals as it was hot.
We camped about 40km from the ferry that would take us to Nova Scotia. We woke up late and had a real race against time, wind and big hills to make the ferry. Just.
Nova Scotia started out badly with us stuck on a highway with not much scenery and no shoulder. But rapidly improved as we hit the coastal road and found our campsite. This site was right on the water, had a cabin to cook in and cat to play with. Even the radio was on in the bathroom. Lucky, because we were able to get the news about Hurricane Fabian and all the rain she was bringing to the Maritimes. Damn.
So next day was a race again, to try and make our campsite before the rain. Not such a nice day, with bad headwinds and highway riding. Of course the rain struck just as we got to our destination in Linwood. We spent the evening in the laundry of the campsite. Not one of our better nights but you make the most of it eh!
Next day was a shocker. We're still drying out. The riding was actually pretty good, but it absolutley poured all day. Tim discovered his super tough paniers are not waterproof, and we both heard noises coming from our bikes that would make Mr Shimano weep. We left the mainland of Canada for the last timeover a causeway and started on Cape Breton Island. A very beautiful place. Our first break was for pancakes. Six of em each. We were wet, hungry. We left barely able to ride. Despite the rain it was a good ride through rolling hills. The rain making the whole thing look Scottish (As in Nova Scotia). We passed through some nice towns and slowly the hills began to arrive as we approached the Cape Breton highlands and the Cabot Trail, our reason for coming. Another night in a laundry for Tim, drying wet gear, but luckily the rain stopped hammering and we were able to clean the bike chains and get going for the Cabot trail.
Our first day of the Cabot took us up the Western side of Cape Breton Island. We had been warned about the hills. Even the Tour Du Canada girls had warned us. And they were there. Steep and long. But geez they were worth it. The views breathtaking. The forest amazing. The wildlife too. There were plenty of bald eagles flying around gracefully. We watched one climb from below us in a valley to way above us without flapping his wings. Tim spotted a bear and her cubs on the way down the first big hill (Nick was too busy going at warp speed) to Pleasant Bay where we went whale watching. Thats right folks we went out on a zodiac and spotted whales, tons of em. All pilot whales. Playfull creatures, one even breached (jumped) for us and Nick being the photo champ he is captured it (see photos). The guys doing the whale boat thing assured us no one in Pleasant Bay was going to care if we camped on the beach that night. So after giong to the hostel to have a shower and a chat to the Aussie chick running it we set up camp on a headland above the beach for a peaceful nights sleep.
Next day we had to finish the trail, we heard Fabian had some more wind and rain coming, so we decided to gun it and finish the trail while it was sunny. A fantastic day, starting with a crazy hill that would have broken weaker men and breakfast at foodland - where the fool behind the counter told us it was flat for the rest of the way except for Smokey Cape which we would hardly notice. This man must have grown up in the Himalaya. Lotsa hills. But again, there was no complaining with the views being breathtaking. Big hills and cliffs and blue ocean.
Today it was the ride to North Sydney, where we get our ferry to Newfoundland. Sydney is very different to Sydney in Australia. In fact we feel for the British Couple that flew here by mistake last year in an online ticket booking inceident we're sure they'd rather forget.
So the scenery around here is very Scottish, but everyone speaks with Irish accents, its quite disconcerting. They are as friendly too. We have yet to find a pub though, this being very un-Irish indeed.
We also appear to be being tracked. We met this couple Dean and Karen in Hillsborough - where we last wrote an update. Nice guys from the US on a working holiday. They're taking it slow in their car. Since then we have seen them in Sackville, Pictou and now in North Sydney. Quite the coinicidence! No doubt not the last time we'll see them. Hopefully not anyway as they are nice people. Well its off to Newfoundland we go now. We're quite psyched. The last province and by the sounds of it the most wild and whacky.

One more thing - we were really saddened to hear that the wild fires in BC, where we started this amazing trip have claimed 12 of the trestles that we rode across only two months ago. Not to mention the forest and peoples houses. So the photos you see are the way it was and the way it will never be again.