2020-08-29

2020 The COVID Diaries - Nova Scotia and New Brunswick

You may have heard of the great pandemic back in 2020? I'm here to tell you that it really messed with our travel plans for 2020, but in the end, we still managed to have a lovely ramble about our beloved "Atlantic Bubble".

Caroline pulling into Peggy's Cove Nova Scotia

The revised plan called for a week of riding in Nova Scotia followed by a day off on the island, then do some travelling in New Brunswick. Fourteen days of fun. 

Nova Scotia

New Brunswick




Google Maps Link - Nova Scotia


Google Maps Link - New Brunswick

Day 1 - 16 Aug - Charlottetown PE to Blomidon NS - Drive 336 mi, 7 hours, 9 minutes

Charlottetown PE to Blomidon NS
We opted to leave on Sunday morning, and that really took the pressure off, for I had been laid off by my employer so had all the time in the world to prepare for the ride, but Caroline needed a day to sort out her load, so when Sunday morning rolled around we were both eager to get going.
The Confederation Bridge
The line up at the Confederation bridge and the New Brunswick COVID checkpoint was minimal. Is it a sign of the times when this becomes a routine that you are used to? 
We're next!

They let us in! The fools!

We started out by heading along a route we've done as a day trip in the past, but hadn't been able to get to this year due to the travel restrictions, Advocate Harbour Nova Scotia. I like to avoid the highway and amble on down past Amherst then cross the Trans Canada and head to Joggins on the Bay of Fundy, then ride along the coast up through East Apple Creek and over to Advocate Harbour, then stop at one of our favourite places, the Wild Caraway restaurant. 

Advocate Harbour NS

Just outside of Joggins, the old bridge is now gone, and the road was rerouted closer inland to make a much smaller bridge, but the "Old Branch Road" remains, and view is spectacular.  
The view from Old Branch Shulie Road, Joggins NS


The view from Old Branch Shulie Road, Joggins NS



The view from Old Branch Shulie Road, Joggins NS


Yep, kinda busted up a bit. Pick your line and maybe reduce your speed. 

Shulie road can be ridden by anyone that knows how to slow down a bit and avoid potholes. 

The Shulie Road NS 209 from Joggins to Apple River is not in the best of shape

The one and only gas station in the town looks like it was playing host to a bunch of Sunday drivers, a car club, and I couldn't help but admire some of the classic cars on display. 



















The rolls at the Wild Caraway are fantastic, and I could have stuffed myself with their signature caraway and dulse (seaweed) rolls with butter and called it a meal. We couldn't resist the dessert on the menu, sticky date pudding with some ice cream! It was fabulous. We have been eating there for three riding seasons and have never been disappointed with the food they serve. 

Sticky date pudding with ice cream... Mmmmm! 

Caroline used to dread the hair pin corners of the Parrsboro side of Advocate Harbour, and she would warn me that I'd pretty much be on my own until she was happier with the road, but after all that time on Cape Breton Island, the only limiting factor she found was the low foot pegs on her Honda Shadow, and her average speed was fantastic and didn't slow me down much at all. In fact, I pulled over to wait for her after I ripped through a lovely bit of road with some awesome chicanes, but no sooner did I get my kickstand down, when she appeared at the crest of the hill, and I had to pull in behind her. :)


We skipped on through Parrsboro on Route 2, headed for Truro eventually, but as we passed through Five Islands NS, I saw a farm that advertised fresh wild blueberries, and on previous trips I'd been leaning more towards buying fruit desserts instead of processed foods, so while Caroline waited for me in the church parking lot, I raced back and did a tight turn up their steep gravel driveway to buy a lovely pint of blueberries and a small back of blueberry granola. Seven dollars worth of lovely food, but I was a bit concerned about how much abuse in my top box that the berries could handle. 

Tonight's dessert, a pint of wild blueberries courtesy of the Yorke Family Farm
Lower Five Islands on the Glooscap Trail. 

Flashbacks to a trip through Nova Scotia three years ago, when my sister gave me some fresh apricots to haul along with me, and by Annapolis Royal, they were apricot jam! 

I need not have worried though, for the berries survived well in their cardboard pint box, inside a plastic bag.

We wanted to stay along the coast, but had no real reason to visit Truro, other than to top off our tanks again, but you have to be on the highway to cross over the Salmon river to the East, so we hopped onto the Trans Canada and then off again, and retraced a route that would take us across the Shubenacadie river. Just to the south of Truro is South Maitland NS, where you follow 236 until it joins up with 215, but we hit a wee traffic snarl as the bridge was reduced to a single lane while it was being refitted, and I was able to snap a pic of the river at low tide as we crossed over. 

The Shubenacadie River looking south
There is a side cut that I wanted to show Caroline, as it leads to a wonderfully scenic spot viewable from Burntcoat road. What I didn't know is that Burncoat Park at low tide is spectacular and it would have been a great place to stop and get pictures. Yet another reason why we will have to go back there someday. :)

Burntcoat Road
North of NS 215
@45.451254, -64.064471









The lighting isn't perfect, I should use a foreground flash next time. 
I love this shot. 

The view from the 215 is pretty amazing at times, and one such scene is shown below. I had to U-Turn for this one, and I feel it was well worth it. 

Looking north along the TennyCape River at low tide

I wanted to show Caroline Walton lighthouse, and we pulled into it at 1700 hrs. Caroline wandered and took lots of photos while I captured a few that I'd not done three years previously, including this one, a shot of the rocky coastline, the very reason for the lighthouse. 

The view along the Walton River,
Lorne Smith Road
Walton Lighthouse
It was getting late, and we were getting a bit edgy as the traffic got worse as we neared the Saint Croix River near Sweets Corner NS, and when I went under the highway overpass expecting to see "Wolfville" on one of the signs, I was pretty pissed when all they said was Yarmouth and Halifax... I wasn't sure which we would need, and indecision forced us to turn into a parking lot, then once we had clarified that we would need the "Yarmouth" direction (North on the NS 101), we headed back out into traffic, jumped onto the highway with our goal being a grocery and fuel stop in Wolfville, then a poke up to the Blomidon Lookoff, followed by locating a convenient campsite. 
We still have a ways to go
If the travel time is an hour, you are going to need to add traffic, grocery and fuel stop, plus the photos at the top of the look off. It was 1800 when we fueled up in Wolfville, and we did our first "Six O'clock Charlie" where our routine is to:
  • Fuel the bikes
  • Purchase Four litres of water
  • A wee container of milk for morning tea
  • A dessert (a couple of chocolate bars)
  • Anything else that struck our fancy 
    • whipping cream
    • Pancetta for our Ramen

This was to be our first real taste of shopping in Nova Scotia during the pandemic. We'd done it before, but this time Caroline and I both went into the store for the wander around. The store was clearly enforcing their rules, and we had to wait to enter once some other customers departed the store, and wear our masks, and sanitize upon entry. Ah COVID. 

Up at the Lookoff, we were treated to a bit of an early sunset. 

Caroline took a number of shots with her camera, so I opted to get a wee video to show the scale and panoramic views of the area. It's depth of soil, and location mean that it is one of Nova Scotia's most productive cultivated land areas, and is the site of many of the vineyards of Atlantic Canada. 

 

We left the look off and headed back down the ridge onto Pereau road, where I had to stop and get a few photos as Caroline patiently waited for me. I should have stopped a couple of more times near Delhaven, as the view lit by the setting sun was spectacular! It was the golden hour, but we were in a bit of a hurry to make sure we made it to the campground in time. It happens on every trip, and I think of the photos as "the ones that got away". :) 

A harbour along the Minas Basin near Delhaven NS

It really is a beautiful area, and I hope that Caroline and I can return next year just to explore the area and enjoy the roads. My Grandmother Jennie Corkham-Kierstead (Corkum) was born 50 km away in Harbourville NS, and I've still distant relatives in the area. 

Looking North from Pereau Road to White Water,
Blomidon Provincial Park Nova Scotia

We rolled up to the park office later than I would have liked, about 1945 or 7:45pm for those who are challenged by the 24 hour clock. And after Caroline booked us a campsite, we hastened on down the road and began to pitch our tent as the sun began to set. The view was spectacular, and as they have closed every second campsite, our neighbours were not to be seen unless you looked carefully. 


Caroline loves that I do the cooking while we are these trips, and I like doing it as well, for I'm forever watching YouTube channels like Kent Survival, or Nova Scotia's own Mark Young at Shunpyke Bushcraft and Vek0 who cooks everything from scratch over a fire somewhere in Northern Europe I believe, so I like to think that I've prepared myself mentally to boil the water and insert the ramen. While I'm preparing our culinary repast, Caroline graciously blows up my air mattress, pillow and lays out my sleeping gear before joining me at the picnic table. 


This run I'd chosen to use a butane can setup with a butane to lindal valve adapter to my D-Power gas stiove. It's not as easy to hide away as my SVEA123R, but it is extremely simple to use, has a great flame output, lowers the centre of gravity by being quite low to the table (have you tried stirring the contents of a pot perched atop the MSR Pocket Rocket 2?) , works quite well in winds up to a fresh breeze in strength, and boasts a wicked simmer. Boil times for 500ml are in the four to six minute range if protected from the wind. The pot is one that I purchased late in 2019 as I found that I needed to boil at least 1.5 litres of water in the morning for Caroline and I for her coffee, and my tea and oatmeal. It is also big enough to cook for two, possibly three people in. An MSR Alpine Stowaway aka Seagull. I love the robust pot with a locking lid, as you can stuff quite a lot of gear into the pot, lock it, toss it into your case, beat the tar out of it, then use it directly over a fire or stove to make dinner. If you are running solo, let me recommend the 775ml as it does a pack of ramen perfectly, and is big enough to fry an egg or two if you are careful. This is this is the largest 1.6L size, and I'll pack the stove, the windscreen (low) and my silicone Fido bowl into it after each meal. Love it. 

MSR Alpine Stowaway aka Seagull




The menu tonight was going to be dead simple, Nong Shim Pork Noodle Ramen, two packages, some freshly cut onion, a bit of garlic flakes from PEI's Eureka Garlic, and that pancetta we bought in Wolfville. 


Okay, it was the first trial of the Nongshim Pork Noodle ramen, and that stuff is fragrant (stinky) but tasted fantastic! Their Kim Chi is out of this world and sets a new standard for Caroline and I when considering a campsite or even a supper meal at home. It was now full dark, and the best part of the meal was tossing the berries into a fido bowl and hauling out our the whipping cream to seal the deal. We went turn for turn with our spoons and left no survivors! Sadly we couldn't let the remaining whipped cream go to waste as we were without refrigeration and were forced to do mouth mix after mouth mix until nothing was left. Caroline rocks! :D

Dessert!

The Park sports outside sinks at the showers, so we washed up everything with some soap and water, performed our ablutions for the evening, and by that time is was full dark and time to crawl into our tents and see how loud loud the neighbourhood was going to be. 

Day 2 - 17 Aug - Blomidon NS to Middleton NS - 80 Kilometres - 2 hours

We awoke to the sound of rain hitting the fly of the tent, and after Caroline and I had sensed the rain tapering off, we scuttled out of our tents and off for a shower before suspending my bnib 3ul tarp that I had intended to set up as a dining fly over our table to keep the worst of the rain off of us while we sat and made breakfast, all the while looking at the gloomy forecast and shivering in the unseasonably cold, chill air. 

The rain turns momentarily into fog
I love that early morning smile. 

The tarp went up, all thirteen dollars of it, but I did have to shell out for some money for "Adjustable Camping Tent Nails Windproof Rope with Storage Bag Set Tent Build Accessories Canopy Fixed Rod Steel Nail Fitting". Hahaha. AliExpress, all in, an investment of about twenty dollars, but Caroline has been hauling it for almost a year now, and I've never needed it for a wet meal. I was secretly a bit happy to put theory to the test and try out the "Windproof rope", hahaha. It worked a treat, and we fastened it to the pine trees and moved the picnic table and the bikes to support the tarp overhead. 

Rain drops aren't falling on my bread, they're not falling... 

Well the forecast was not looking good, and with a daytime high of only 16 C recorded inland at Kentville, it was a cold morning, and we put on some extra layers. Caroline was discouraged as we'd spent a great deal of time riding in the cold and wet when returning from our two week trip to visit family in Ontario. We started examining our options for staying in the park another night, or riding out to Yarmouth as planned and looking for a site closer to Halifax, where I would need to be for I had a Zoom meeting for a job interview, and had made arrangements with a friend to drop in and use his backyard wifi to make it happen. Thanks Danny! 


I've been carrying a hoodie, and today it comes in very useful!

We are in the Kentville area on this map. or that is the closest weather station to us. 

We could stay at the park another night, but we only had until 1300 checkout, but then we would need to pack our tents up and shift everything to a the new camp site, so if we were going to pack up, why not just pack up and keep riding that day along our track. Caroline had burned up the weak LTE signal to find a motel that would allow us to dry out and stay nice and comfy overnight just up in Middleton NS, a distance of only about 80 km, but in the cold, wet rain it was a bit too far at the moment. I'm channeling a ride we did from Quebec City up to Chicoutimi that was crazy wet and cold in September of last year, and I found myself in enjoyable agreement with how cozy it would be to camp out with a roof over our heads for a night. Lol. 

Before we knew it, it was twelve and time for lunch with some more fresh onion and some Nong Shim Pork Noodle ramen. This stuff is good, but for whatever reason, it has this unsavoury odour. I may need to forget about that before I buy more of it. Try their Kim Chi as it is out of this world and sets a new standard for ramen.  

Nong Shim Pork Noodle Soup for lunch!

Wouldn't you know it, halfway along on our ride to Middleton, we left the rain behind us and even found the roads were drying up ahead of us, but now we had a booked and paid for room waiting ahead of us... so after a fairly short ride we arrived at the motel and collected the keys for our room, off loaded the bikes and exclaimed at how early in the day our ride had ended, and how this sunny spot must be in the eye of the storm, it will come back with a vengeance, you just wait and see!


Our suite at the Fundy Spray Motel
Surprisingly decent for the price, and with a kitchen 

Right, it was early, and we wanted to do a bit of shopping and lay in some wobbly pops and perhaps a bit of junk food, and while Caroline shopped in the grocery store for morning breakfast and milk for tea and some ice cream bars for dessert that she liked. Salted Caramel something or others iirc. I headed over to King Size Pizza and collected the order for Panzerotto that I'd called in to them about 30 minutes ago from the comfort of our motel suite at the Fundy Spray Motel. We had more than enough food to wait out the storm of doom, and I made sure my motorcycle was visible from the window. And with fresh, hot pizza, and an armful of junk food and breakfast bits, we got stuck into our Panzerotti. Fantastic! Best (only) panzerotti I've had on the East coast, and I'd ordered enough for three people thinking that they might be on the small side, so it was two Donair, and one Pizza, but the donair panzerotti defeated us, and we put combined the leftovers, ate our ice cream bars, drank a bit of cider, while Caroline really enjoyed some new to her Smirnoff cranberry lime vodka soda. They were good, and so refreshing to have all the flavour with none of that pop skull sugar that guarantees a diabetic high for me complete with a hangover.  Anyhow, we watched a bit of television but it was probably around 2130 when we opted for bed and reading. 

Day 3 - 18 Aug - Middleton NS to Shelburne NS - 300km - 6 hours

Middleton NS to Islands Provincial Park NS

I had a good sleep, and for once got a bit of a sleep in instead of waking up at 0500, so after a shower, we loaded the bikes up with our gear, and...
Sat around awhile and chatted away with some of the locals who were renting an apartment beside the motel, and dropped on over to to say good morning and check out our rides. 

The bikes are loaded and we're minutes away from mentally preparing ourselves

Yeah, we are not going to get set any long distance records, but we are so easy going that just meandering along is part of the adventure, and I love being with someone who can put up with my "like a leaf blowing in the wind, I never know which way I will get blown" attitude. That's a lie, I can become Mr. Cranky Pants with the best of them, but allow my my delusions, it keeps the rest of you safe. We did have a long chat with Dave about bikes and Ontario where he had been living for a while before moving back to Middleton where his Dad and Mom were. Caroline and I were grateful that we could hand him our ice cream and eggs so they wouldn't go to waste, as neither of us had any appetite but for tea and coffee that we'd made and enjoyed an hour ago. Dave took the eggs over to his apartment and announced to his two guests that scrambled eggs were on the menu, so we felt good about our impromptu gifting.  And with that, we waved goodbye and set off along NS 1 bound for Annapolis Royal NS and hopefully somewhere near Halifax as I was going to need to prepare for that interview. 

No rain gear needed at all for today, but it was not the hot riding weather we had experienced in Cape Breton a couple of weeks ago, in fact, it was darn near perfect, and with the sun shining over us, our rain gear was packed away where it ought to be.  Next stop, Digby Nova Scotia, home of the Wharf Rat Rally!

Wharf Rat Rally
Digby Nova Scotia
COVID put the stopper on this year's fun, but it should be back next year in full force. 






Day 4 - 19 Aug - Shelburne NS to Peggy's Cove NS


Day 5 - 20 Aug - Peggys Cove NS to Murphy's Cove NS


Day 6 - 21 Aug - Murphy's Cove NS Canso NS


Day 7 - 22 Aug - Canso NS to Linwood NS


Day 8 - 23 Aug - Linwood NS - Hyclass Campground


Day 9 - 24 Aug - Linwood NS to Charlottetown PE


Day 10 - 25 Aug - R&R plus laundry day
Day 11 - 26 Aug - Charlottetown PE to Kingston NB


Day 12 - 27 Aug - Kingston NB to Saint Stephen NB

Day 13 - 28 Aug - Saint Stephen NB to Fredericton NB

 Day 14 - 29 Aug - Fredericton NB to Charlottetown PE











oops! 22 minutes turns into an hour and twenty two...

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