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Day 7
August 20, 2002
Bathhurst, New Brunswick


I got off to a later then anticipated start, as I sometimes do when sleeping in a motel.  I was in the parking lot strapping down my gear at 7:15am, when the owner of a Gold Wing came out to chat.  A middle aged gentleman, with slight gait in his walk.  He was with a group of riders from Michigan. I saw their bikes when I checked in last night.  Several Wings and a Electra Guide, they were riding 2 up and pulling trailers.

"you always ride alone?"

"no, not always, but I prefer it, I am very selective about who I ride with"

"what if you breakdown?"  I sensed he wanted to be a lone rider someday, but just couldn't quite get up the nerve.

"well, I look at it like this, ain't gonna matter if you're alone or with 20, you're still broke down, and you're still gonna have to get to a dealer.  My cell phone and HRCA takes care of that aspect.  Besides, I'm too quirky for anyone to enjoy riding with very long.  I may stop for pics 3 times in a mile, or I could ride to the next gas stop non stop."   

I left him my card, and pulled out of the parking lot bound for highway 8. 

I filled up at a Irving station, paying with my Visa card. 

Highway 8 is one of the main connectors in New Brunswick, and oddly designed.  In the Maritimes they don't have 4 lane, limited access, interstate style highways.  What they do have are wide, opened lane highways, with no townships to pass through with limited access.  Which means few driveways or side roads.  They also have long passing lanes in each direction, when needed.  A good compromise.  These roads will get you somewhere quickly, but there is not much to see along them.  Highway 8 is a good example of such a road.

The weather is partly cloudy and cool, although the news reported last night the "heat wave" would continue for 2 more days.

I will ride non stop into Moncton, over 240 kilometers.  Nothing pretty about this portion of the ride.  I wanted to get OUT of New Brunswick quick as I could.

Riding along Highway 8 on this morning, I applaud myself at not trying to do this last night.  A moose aimlessly walks the tree line on the west side, he makes no move to come near the highway.  The road is bumpy, and bone jarring.  Several times I hit heaves and grooves, that sting my spine, and the impacts snap my shield down.  Deep groves wobble the ST, "geezus this road is terrible", I say to myself.

In Miramichi I switch to route 126 and the road surface is even worse.

The speed limit is 65 kph, and I fear going any faster.  I don't need a ticket, and with Alabama being known as a "gun state" I'm pretty sure I would get shook down for a firearm if stopped.  Don't need the hassle.  This ain't Alabama, where everyone is expected to have a gun, this is New Brunswick, where they pretty much don't want anyone armed, as evidenced by the gun laws.

The landscape is forest, dotted by the occasional farm pasture.

My favorite riding position is-left hand on left leg, body slightly tilted to the right, with a slight slump. I can ride like that all the way across Kansas.  But the road is so bumpy and potted, I don't dare take a hand away from the bars.

Riding for what seems like hours, I kept the pace up.  The road is boring, and my butt is stiff, and I can't get comfortable.  I'm tempted to take a break, but resolve myself not to do so, thinking it will only delay my time on this heartless highway.  
 
I hit a heave and the front end leaves the ground.

Will this road ever end? Is Nova Scotia anywhere to be found?  The pounding is wearing on me.  I try the left track, no good, then go back to right track, still the same.  The middle of the road is the worse.   What little scenery there is I can't see much of, I have to concentrate on the road ahead of me, to avoid the constant barrage of flak coming at me.

Finally Moncton appears and I come down from the highway into the city, looking for Mountain Dew.

I idle to the side of a gas mart and dismount. Ohhhh that feels good, my stiff legs, and sore butt, thank me.  Three hard hours of saddle time are in the books, and Nova Scotia is close.  I have been saving an item for just such a occasion.  I reach in the Tourmaster side pocket, and take out one of the Moonpies I bought on Day 1 in Alabama.

I paid for the Mountain Dew with a 2 dollar coin.  I'm starting to get the hang of Canadian currency.

With Mountain Dew in hand I propped against the side wall and relaxed.  Best butt break of the entire trip.

Twenty minutes later I mount back up and find out something else about the Maritimes.  Roads are poorly marked, especially in the cities.  Route numbers just fade away as you ride along.  I may not be the smartest guy around, but I am a grizzled vet at highways and finding my around freeway systems, and mega cities.  I can ride through the Bay Area, Atlanta, NYC, Dallas, and Orlando without so much as a bobble.  In those cities large signs tell you where to go, what routes lead to other routes, direction, and what lane to position yourself, all you have to do is pay attention.  But in Moncton they leave you hanging. 

When I enter the city, my route vanishes.  I ride around looking for route 104.  Up and down the business section I go.  I found NO signs on how to get where I want.  Finally, I get out my map and note the cities, and follow the names to where I want to go.  I bumbled around Moncton for 30 minutes.

At last I find 104 and cross the water into Nova Scotia.  I am tired of the quasi-interstates and go to local highway 6.  A nice road along the coast.  I want to experience the province up close, and this highway will do that.

Route 6 is narrow and very bumpy, but scenic.  Traffic is low. My god this road is worse then those in New Brunswick, a virtual minefield.  Y'all remember the "Highway of Death" road from Iraq after the Allies bombed it?  Well the surface was just like that.  Cratered, with large heaves.  I ride along at 45 mph.

Near Linden I see a small local road winding its way into the surrounding hills.  I take it, just to because it looked interesting.  I ride by the hushed farms.  Aged wood frame houses occupy the land.  The countryside here is a quiet place, and I feel I am intruding.  The name of this road is "Mount Pleasanton Road", it won't be found on any map.  The underbrush is green and full, with cows and sheep grazing lazily in the pastures.

I came upon a white church, standing silently.  The dark, cloudy day evokes images of England.  I stop to read the sign above the church doors.  It reads the church was established in the early 1800s.  A long time for a church to survive in these rural surroundings.





















                      A small rural church in the Nova Scotia countryside

My curiosity satisfied, I ride back to route 6 and continue my journey to the Cabot Trail.

I pass pasture after pasture of rolled hay.  I see them by the hundreds around me.  I enter the tiny fishing villages, and wonder what life is like in these places.

I stop for fish and chips in small local store in Wallace.  A freindly lady with kind eyes takes my order.  A local walks over from the post office, he is on a first name basis with the lady behind the counter. 

"is that your bike out front?" He asks with a hard to understand accent.

"yes it is"

"just passing through?"

"as a matter of fact I am"

"not many tourist find their way to Wallace, glad to have ya, make sure you leave some American money"
"already have"

I eat a excellent lunch on a small picnic table by the water, across the street there is a ice house, and a fishing boat docks up.

I rode a tractor in Nebraska, time to see if I can talk myself into ride on a fishing boat.  I stuff my trash in a bin, and stroll over.

The smell of fish permeates the air.  Two fisherman are busy shoveling ice in the big boxes on the boat, warehouse workers with fork trucks bring the stuff out in huge cartons.  I struggle to find something to say-

"y'all fixin to go back out?"

"whats that ye say?" in a thick island accent.  Damn, this is going to be hard.  I can't understand him, and he can't understand me.
"The boat, are y'all goin back out soon?"

"yes"

He asks where I am from and invites me on board.  I must look strange to him in my Aerostich.  He is hard looking, and all business.  He works the shovel frantically.  When he is done he shows me around his modest boat.  He explained many things to me, but to be honest, I understood very little of it.  The accent too difficult for me to comprehend.























                              Busy Nova Scotia fisherman go about their tasks


The bridge was old, and the instruments were not very modern looking.  I didn't get a boat ride, but I did get a quick tour.  
I said my good byes and returned to my bike.  I left Wallace with a good feeling. 

I follow route 6 to New Glasgow.  I have to pick up the pace, if I hope to get in some riding on the Cabot Trail today.

A few miles out of Glasgow I get sleepy.  My head is bobbing.  I set aside thoughts of the Cabot.  When it comes to my safety, all else is second fiddle.  I leave 104 and follow a sign to Beaver Mountain Park.  I feel sure I can find a good tree for a nap there.  Minutes later I find a picnic table under a shelter.  Perfect place.  I get in a prone position on a table seat.  The site is deserted, and very quiet.  The sun is out now, and the cool weather feels good.  It only takes a second for me to find sleep.























                 Checking in the Iron Butt Motel at Beaver Mtn. Park.


I slept some of the best 30 minutes a long rider could ever hope for.

It is mid afternoon when I throttle back up on 104.  This road is not fun and I am anxious to reach the Cabot.




















Riding along 105 I see a group of boys swimming in the cold water.  I pull to the side and take their picture and wave.  They wave back.  How do they swim in such freezing water?

                         
At last I reach the Cabot.  I have achieved the ultimate goal of this trip.  I will follow the Trail north as far as I can, but I plan to set up camp well before dark.  I am sure there are many campgrounds to choose from ahead.























                          A silent farm sets alone on a dreary afternoon

The road swings north to the coast.  It to is bumpy, and scraggly.  Damn don't they even try to fix the roads around here?  A few farm houses can be found in the area, but nothing grand.

I reach the coast, and begin the ride north to Cape Breton.  I lean the ST in the curves, and enjoy the great scenery.  It is dark and cloudy again, and it puts a damper on my spirit.  I am over 500 miles and I am tired.  I slow the pace down and begin to enjoy things.

I see a store with a hundred scare crows scattered about, and stop for a closer look.  Scare crows depicting every walk of life can be found here.  Taxi drivers, farmers, cops, delivery men.  Its kind of spooky, reminding me of voodoo dolls.  Several motorists are on foot looking over the creations.

























     
                                     Scare crow mania on the Cabot Trail, 25 klics south of Cheticamp


A cold wind blows in from the North Atlantic, and I am alone on the road.  This cloudy, cold day (to me) reminds me of winters back home.  Bringing back memories of after school, late afternoon rides in December, when the trees are bare.  I rode alone with my thoughts, feeling the cold air seep in the voids of my jacket, and dreading the research paper due the following week.  Times are simple when your biggest worry is the theme for your next term paper.

As I ride along on this quiet, dreary afternoon I need a song to lift my spirits.  So I sing " I've got sunshine on a cloudy day, and when its cold outside I got the month of May, I guess you say what can make me feel this way, MY GIRL talking about MY Girllllllll."

I stop at a church 20 klics south of Cheticamp.   A parish with a French name.  Saint Eglise-Joseph.  A memorial with the Canadian National Flag flying high stands on the church grounds.  I park my bike in the parking lot, and walk over to check it out.  The marker is in French, but I have picked up enough of the language the last few days to know it is a memorial to the members of this parish who lost their lives defending Canada in World Wars I and II.  There were more then a few.  All French names.  I found this most poignant.   Most places in Quebec fly the Provincial flag over the National flag.  Only the federal buildings do the opposite.  I saw many places in Nova Scotia flying the French national flag.  I will leave the Canadian politics to those who know more then I.  But here, these simple folks, honor the French Canadian soldiers who died so that this debate among French and English speaking Canadians could take place.  Those of both persuasions should visit here.  They died for Canada, not for any one province.

























                                          St. Eglise-Joseph honors her war dead.

The last 120 kilometers have been good.  I have cleared the cob webs from my brain, and settled myself down from the long drone across New Brunswick.  It is time to settle in for the night.  I ride through Cheticamp to the Federal Park at Cape Breton.  A light rain begins to fall.  

I trade 18 Mastercard dollars (Ca.) for a special campsite located under thick trees and forest land. 

I quickly set up camp, secure my stuff, and ride back into Cheticamp for something to eat.  I noticed a placed called "Home Kitchen", on the way in, it looked like a good place for supper.  

I make my way back to Cheticamp in the rain.  The light from the houses I ride past, glowing brighter and brighter in the waning light.  When I arrive at the cafe, I take a seat in the enclosed deck out back, here I can see the water.

A stunning young beauty comes to take my order.  She has dark hair, and a tiny waist, her face glows in the soft light of the dusk.  Her name is Raven and if ever a name fit a individual, hers does.  I try not to stare, when she takes my order of steak and potatoes.  

Another couple comes in, and she speaks to them in French and I take it she is French.

This country has more beauty, in more places, then I could can ever count.

I ask her the correct pronunciation of Cheticamp.

"you are southern?"

"yes I am, and your English is good"

"my father is American, my mother is French"

"and how many long riders have tried to take you from all this bebe?" I say jokingly.

"oh, a few"

" I see you are still here, why's that?"

"I like it here"

A young family is seated next to me, their baby is making sounds and gooing.

Raven delivers my steak, and it was cooked to perfection.  Good food on a less then pretty night.

I'm in the mood for desert, and ask Raven what's good.

"strawberry shortcake"

"you will make it special just for ME?"

"of course"

I wonder just how many long riders Raven HAS beguiled.

The strawberry shortcake was excellent, homemade and served over fresh warm bread.

When I finished supper I called home, fearful I would not get a signal at the campground.  Debbie picks up the phone and asks-

"anything interesting happen today?"

"nah baby, just the same old stuff"

"are you doing right?"

"well....... most of the time"

I was tempted to ask Raven if I could take a pic of her next to my bike, but thought it would be tacky, so I left her a 4 dollar tip American, and slipped out the door.

It was dark, but the rain had stopped.  It was a quick ride back to the park. 

I left the tent and hoofed it over to the showers, to clean up.

I made journal notes, then crawled in my tent.  I tried to watch tv, but all I could get was a fuzzy French speaking station.

I gave up and went to sleep.  Tomorrow I finish the Cabot, and start the trip back south, and home.
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