2020-05-24

2020 Cape Bear PEI

We had sat with Caroline's Aunt Sharon last weekend who went on to relate that Sharon had joined her sisters Esther and Trenna for a trip out to the Cape Bear Lighthouse and Marconi Museum and then out to the tip of the cape itself, which has an unofficial park out at the end. Imagine my surprise when I learned that the lovely Caroline had never been out to the Murray Head and the lighthouse before?! For the past couple of weeks I'd been waiting for the opportunity to show her what I believe to be one of the most beautiful spots on the island.

Black brook road, Murray Head PE
There are some bikers who like to lay claim to "a tour of the East Coast" and arrive in Pictou Nova Scotia to ferry over to the island, then ride over to the Confederation Bridge, and put a big "CHECK" against the province of  Prince Edward Island. :'(  If you are in that much of a hurry you may not want to see Prince Edward Island's signature red rock and coastline, but it's a sacrifice of 30 kilometres of scenic riding to head from the Wood Islands Ferry and east along the coast up the Murray Head and the Cape Bear Lighthouse and Marconi museum.

Day Tripping- Charlottetown to Murray Head and Return - 161 kms - 2.5 hours

Charlottetown PE to Murry Head PE 
Google Maps Link

The trouble will all this planning ahead stuff, is I figured we would be on the bikes on Saturday, but instead we sat on the couch and got some work done. Caroline got paid for it, while I just enjoyed myself trying to fix a 3rd party sync app... Almost a day at work for me, only it was linux and on my raspberry pi, so clearly it was fun, right? Hahaha!

Right, Sunday rears it's head, and today is supposed to be a bit nicer, but as I was up late last night, Caroline had to kickstart me into life with a lovely cuppa tea for which I was very grateful, and I managed to drag my butt off and into the shower so I could have a quick breakfast then meet up with her as she needed to drop some things off at home, and quickly assemble a light lunch and a thermos full of blessed tea (char)!

Caroline is playing a photo tag game on HondaShadow.net that I spoke of earlier this year,  and I thought it was a great idea, similar to the one that my friends in Ontario and I used to have great fun with on gtasportriders.com (defunct now), so with Caroline's assistance I created a post for the game on Red Isle Riders (search the group for "The Moto Photo Tag Game") and Caroline graciously consented to start the game off by grabbing the first photo tag.

The Moto Photo Tag Game
You saw that one last weekend, the great cow over at Cows Creamery on the causeway, and as noone had grabbed the tag yet, I thought it a good idea to grab it myself and post a tag photo to get the game rolling...

The "Causeway Cow" GRABBED!
Photo credit: Caroline
Whoot! I get my first grab and now to head East and find a spot to get a tag photo! In the meantime, as we are passing the RCMP station, Caroline tells me that she has seen the "Grab" she is looking for, a flag of the nation, so of course we get one of her Shadow (my shadow at times) in front of the RCMP sign just off the Maypoint roundabout.

Grabbed it! 
Once we got going it was pretty easy for her to find her tag photo... She gets a bit worried that she's choosing too hard a target, but I think she's too easy on those yanks in the forum.

We were riding east along the Trans Canada, managed to get through Charlottetown on the bypass, then across the bridge in Stratford where we got hit with a solid wall of fumes from the sewage treatment pond. Ewwwwww!!! They've almost completed a huge infrastructure change that will see this sewage pumped across the river into Charlottetown's larger facility on the West bank of the Hillsborough river, but it can't come soon enough for me.I just found out completion is December 2020. :'(

Once upwind of that pond, we managed to beat a couple of cars into and out of the new Crossroads roundabout near the eastern border of Stratford, and then it was all a simple plod down the highway to our next destination, the fuel station where Caroline and I needed to top off so we could get through the rest of the ride today.  She had a sneaky plan for refuelling... It would only be one of us that would accept the higher risk of actually going inside and paying for the fuel today, as she would pull up beside me and I'd pay for the fuel. She made sure to don her latex gloves before accepting the fuel hose, and guess who got volunteered to go inside to pay? It's almost as if we were married. :)

The good news from that last bit, is I was able to grab some chocolate coconut macroons to add to our lunch this afternoon. I can't see either of us turning down chocolate treats.

We left the Trans Canada at Kinross road and headed up to highway 24 that although straight is much more scenic with it's hills and ponds on our way out to Murray River PE, and had just passed Ben's Lake Campground on Prowse's Pond, when at the crest of a hill she spotted a sign that would make a great tag photo:

HondaShadow.net Seeline's tag
And now it was up to me to figure out what my Red Isle Riders tag photo was going to be, but truthfully I wanted to get the game going, so I thought I'd go with something ubiquitous to the maritimes. I'm happy to keep you in suspense a bit longer. ;)

I managed to entice Caroline out for take out last Thursday night, our first since this whole COVID-19 thing, so after we had crossed Murray River bridge, and turned the corner off of Murray River's Main street south onto Cape Bear road, she announced over the comms that this was the restaurant she had sent to me via telegram on Friday, which I'd completely forgotten about, the Home Plate Restaurant & Bakery

The have more than simply awesome fish and chips... 
We shot right past them, all the while Caroline was telling me that this was the restaurant she suggested we try (this was in the message on Friday). We tried to call ahead, thinking that with the number of cars out front that it was doing a roaring Sunday business of take out orders and perhaps some eat out as well in behind? Nope. The owner was in taking care of business and trying to get a grip on some cooking that needed doing, renovations and getting ready for a Jun 1st opening of the COVID response dining area out back. She was very kind to show us the menu where I was quick to pick up on the fact that she was no island native at all! In fact, once she touted the menu, it was clear to me that I would be a repeat customer of the shop, as she hailed from jolly old England and so to did a large portion of the menu! Heaven, I'm in heaven! From fish n chips to a real fry up or ploughman's lunch... I can't wait until I can see the owner again, and I doubt Caroline nor I will forget the Chief Cook and bottle washer of the Home plate, as her name is Caroline too! :)
We offer home made meals using as much locally sourced foods from around the area. The pork, chicken and turkey is free range from our own farm. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner with a full service bakery.We are emigrated here from Ireland and England
I'll be back (using my Arnie accent) 
It was back out onto the road after saying "So long, but not farewell!" to Caroline. Thing 2, not Thing 1. I love Thing 1 and would never leave HER behind, thanks for following along.

We shot right past the entrance to Beach Point Wharf road where my friend Danny hides his boat, as I wanted to use it for the (Ah, now you guessed it!) tag photo in Red Isle Riders. Here you go!

St. Elmo's Fire
Photo credit: Caroline
Caroline opted to haul out her Canon and take some shots with it, so I struck up a conversation with a hard working fisherman and his wife, out and about on a Sunday to load frozen bait into their boat ready for Monday mornings run out to near Cape Breton Island, as it turned out this was Danny's younger brother! He was down in the mouth, and I couldn't get him to cheer up, so instead I invited him to vent as most everything I knew about lobster fishing I learned from Danny in one day working on his boat, and we began to chat about how the depressed and all but lost market for fish and lobster was creating a problem for him and his peers. He was spending the same amount of money on fuel and bait as ever, and using just as much of it, but now as there was a greatly reduced market for the lobster catch, the price at the wharf was down to an average of $3.50 a pound. Back in 2013 a wharf price of $3.75 had caused a strike on the island! Now he was spending more to bring in the catch than he was making at the dock, so he figured if we didn't see a turnaround soon, he'd no longer be breaking even but instead working himself into a big hole. I sometimes need to be reminded that others are in a more desperate situation due to the reaction to the pandemic, in danger of closing their doors and going into receivership, or being laid off due to lack of work, similar to many tourism jobs here on the island that does so much for the local economy. Some restaurants open and close their doors based on the cruise ship season on the island - spring to early fall then gone.

Photo Credit: Caroline

Photo Credit: Caroline

Photo Credit: Caroline


I'm fortunate that I can work from my kitchen table remotely via the internet, but for all those who can't, the money I'm earning I'm trying to spend locally as much as possible and can only follow Caroline as she embraces local sources for vegetables and food. So, I encourage you to eat Lobster this season, have it flown in from Prince Edward Island live or pre-cooked and have a lobster fest in the back yard. If they want to charge you that $17.75 market price, they really are doing a disservice to all those fishermen who can't get more than four bucks a pound for decent lobster.

It was time to get moving again, and while I'd never got off my motorcycle, I was beginning to see a pattern with Thing 1, the more photos she took, the more clothing she would discard into a heap on her motorcycle saddle. Hmmm. I needed to prove my theory, but how? Of course! We were well on our way to our next stop, the end of Lighthouse road where I hoped to get a few nice shots of the coastline, and perhaps I would see this theory of mine proven?

Photo Credit: Caroline

Can you make out the wind farm over in Cape George Nova Soctia?
Photo Credit: Caroline

Our friend Mikayla was organizing and participating in a birthday ride past in Montague, and it looked as if these guys might have been part of the ride. If not, it sure was a large group and I hope they were being careful
Photo Credit: Caroline

Photo Credit: Caroline


Photo Credit: Caroline

Photo Credit: Caroline




This self Isolation has made me a better cook...
Photo Credit: Caroline

Photo Credit: Caroline

 Caroline commented on how clear it was today, and I agree, I've never see the opposite coast of Nova Scotia quite so clearly as I have today.

Photo Credit: Caroline



Looking south towards Guernsey Cove

The lighthouse used to sit just to the right our of shot in the picture above, but it was moved by the local lighthouse preservation society to safeguard it from erosion and to make it more accessible to tourism as it will need to earn it's keep here. The paint and repairs cost quite a bit of money for a private group of citizens to take over from the government for it's stewardship. I'm very pleased they are preserving it as it's part of the charm of an older age when it would safeguard the lives of sailors and passengers in the North Humberland strait. I don't doubt that Danny would have used it in the wee hours of the morning to establish his whereabouts off in the fishing grounds of Cape Bear Reef.

A clear view of the bottom and what fate awaits the unwary who approach too closely
 Off to the north, you can just make out the top of the relocated lighthouse, and the park that was created to house it.


 We opted not to visit the lighthouse parking lot with so many motorists there, and headed East past the "road closed" barricade and out to Murray Head itself along Black Brook Road.

Black Brook Road
Looking northeast(ish)
 Caroline was a sly one at our next stop, and didn't even remove her helmet until she remembered that the camera won't fit inside her helmet and that I was conveniently handy to hold onto something for her... :)

This is why the road may have been closed. There was a small section that had washed away from around the guard rail, and with that sign up, it absolves them of injury due to some dumbass not using their eyes on the road ahead and tumbling into a pit of despair from which the tow truck would have to rescue them. Why, they might even spill their coffee! The horror.

Tim Horton's anyone?
Photo Credit: Caroline

Photo Credit: Caroline

Another view
Photo Credit: Caroline
 At one time I used to see the concrete as garbage dumped along the coast by the unwashed, unloved and uncaring, that is until I learned about living on an island that shrinks into the sea year after year. The foundation of rock is an absorbent sandstone, and while it is truly beautiful in that rich red colour, even the hardest of sandstone won't last like limestone or granite. In fact, it soaks up water and spalls off layers or simply dissolves into sand again under pressure of wind, water and rain. That concrete is protecting this coast for the road that passes meters from it, and without, we would see more road closure signs until there was simply no road left and the only way to get out here would be through the interior on foot or horseback. You dog will love that, but your average motorist perhaps not so much.

The fragile coastline of a sinking and shrinking island
We tentatively made our way out to the head of the head, but it was a  bit weird as there was what appeared to be deep sand that would roll the tires of the bike a bit, as sand will, causing you to catch your breath, grip the bars like death, and start picking a soft patch of ground to crash on, then the bike would stop rolling and track correctly. Weird. It's not a dirt bike, but I'd better be able to handle this as Caroline is my Shadow and is taking her bike right down the same road I am, so I better suck it up, stick it back into second gear, and make it look like this is all by plan and adventure riding at it's easiest!
Photo Credit: Caroline

Just our to the east we just make out the lobster buoys marking the traps laid by the boats we saw earlier at the Beach Point Wharf. Danny and Robert's are out there somewhere, waiting for collection and fresh bait.

Looking south from Black brook road
You have to be careful at the head, as there are signs only warning of unsafe cliffs, and your only warning may be a ton of dirt sliding down into the cold sea. Can you make out the cracks in the soil below? It might take a few pounds to drop it the 30 feet down, or 3000, but do you really want to find out?

Cracks in the dirt show what part of the this shoreline will soon become a beach instead of a cliff. 


The Beach of Beach Point
Photo Credit: Caroline

Beach Point Lighthouse
Photo Credit: Caroline
 When I worked for a day with Danny and Robert (got in their way) on St. Elmo's Fire, we left the wharf in the dark, and I remember staring back at this lighthouse as my real reference as to where we were, and with the few lights of the community, the general speed and direction we were headed out to the reef. It was my only real reference until the sun came up and showed some of the features of the land itself.




Looking towards Beach Point and the wharf.
 You can see where the island is going to end up, right down there in the salt water.


Photo Credit: Caroline
Wankers!
Photo Credit: Caroline
 And of course we found someone decided to drive out here to dump their waste down the side of the hill. Humans are our own worst enemy. "I can dump it anywhere, it's not like I'll live long enough for me to see the ecosystem destroyed." Cause, you know, birds and things just love glass fibre and plastic for their nests.


Those bikes that we had seen earlier, we were fairly certain we heard them leaving, and as we were both a bit peckish, it was time to get back out to the Lighthouse and get lunch started, but first I wanted to get a wee video of Caroline on her Shadow adventure bike on Black Brook road. I was hoping she would ride on out of sight, but I forgot to add that into the script, and she loves me too much to abandon me in the wild.





Right, Thing 1 made finding a picnic table a bit more difficult than I was expecting. She likes to choose parking spots that conform to the standards expected of big motorized vehicles I like to refer to as "Cages", so when I park out of the way off to one side, perhaps not in an "approved" spot, I find her ignoring me and circling around to her own wee patch of dirt, sometimes causing me to up kickstand and waddle over or cave in and spark my bike back to life in order to move over to where she has determined the law and her peers will respect. I'm that rebel without a clue that will defy society by smiling at them. It works. Try plastering on a huge grin and smiling before someone tells you to move your bike, and they will forget what and why they came over for and start chatting with you about everything but parking spots. ;) Hahaha. Anyhow, we got sorted out, and I sat down to get to work on lunch while Caroline opted to do a photo session around us.

A toasted coconut custard tart
Only slightly flattened by being abused in my topbox. 
That coconut custard tart may or may not have been a gift received earlier today, perhaps part of a bribe to head back this way after the June 1st deadline, and dine locally. Suddenly I was hoping Caroline would finish up her photo shoot and get back over to the picnic table she had chosen.

Patiently waiting... :)
Photo Credit: Caroline

Photo Credit: Caroline


Photo Credit: Caroline



Photo Credit: Caroline

Photo Credit: Caroline


Photo Credit: Caroline

Photo Credit: Caroline







Photo Credit: Caroline


Photo Credit: Caroline


Photo Credit: Caroline
 Now I'm getting hangry. Note that the first picture shows how far away she is,,, and the second, she cheats and uses her zoom lens instead of joining me. **sigh**

Photo Credit: Caroline

Photo Credit: Caroline

Praying the photo shoot will be over soon and we can get stuck in
Photo Credit: Caroline
 She took some time out this morning while I was still getting my lazy bum rolling out the door to put together a nice little lunch for us. Saltines, hard boiled eggs with some soy sauce to salt them, some artisan Chorizo sausage made by Founders Delicatessen here on the island, Granny Smith apples and a thermos full of tea. My contribution was the Macaroons that I mentioned earlier.

Mmmm!
Photo Credit: Caroline
 Since we started these Quarantine or COVID rides locally here on the Island, we've been enjoying these picnic lunches more and more. Perhaps it's the company and the ambience of this fine dining al fresco.

Photo Credit: Caroline

 That tart is so much tastier than it looks! And it looks very good to me from here. I might have eaten mine waiting for Caroline to join me a the table. Someone has to act as QA for the team, right?

And Brad, that sausage was wonderful! I've very glad Caroline thought to share it with me today.

Photo Credit: Caroline

Photo Credit: Caroline

Photo Credit: Caroline

Photo Credit: Caroline

Photo Credit: Caroline



Cape Bear Lighthouse & Marconi Museum
Photo Credit: Caroline
We bundled our waste together, got back onto our bikes, I mean there was really no point staying any longer as we'd run out of char, fired them up and headed back out to 18 to follow it on the homeward leg of the journey. 18 turns into 4 (Shore Road) and Caroline wanted to stop and u-turn for a picture of the shoreline. I can see why as the sight of the furrows out in from of the strait was beautiful, with clearly visible (to us) coastline of Nova Scotia as a back drop. My little iPhone didn't do it justice at all.

Looking south across the strait to Nova Scotia from Shore Road




Photo Credit: Caroline
 Caroline commented after the ride, that the blues don't show the same way in her Canon as they do on my iPhone 6s. Interesting.


Photo Credit: Caroline
 I love how it's all about the shadow... :)
My shadow... Errr, Caroline's Shadow
Photo Credit: Caroline
 I recall being there too, I wonder what ever could have happened?

Photo Credit: Caroline
Ahhhh! Now we see the Shadow has an unwanted shadow... :P

The noisy boys out and about

Let's get back to the important stuff, shall we? 


Photo Credit: Caroline
Back onto the bikes and headed west once more, we hit the Wood Islands Visitors Center where we found more of the Cruiser boys parked and saying their end of day fare wells. We waved and touched down briefly a the stop sign that signals the end of Shore Road highway 4, and which puts us on the home stretch for the Hillsborough River Bridge and Charlottetown.

Or so we thought, until Caroline started debating about whether to get a picture "back there" and I encouraged her shamelessly, as there was a snap or two back there that I wanted as well.

Belle River bridge looking south



Belle river looking North
Can you see the geese on the shore line at your 12 o'clock? Maybe at 11 o'clock on the opposite bank? Nope neither can I. That's where Caroline comes in handy.

Photo Credit: Caroline
 There used to be a wee video here, but Caroline said a naughty word and made me delete the video. "Clowns" is not that bad a word, just saying. ;)


Further ahead is Pinette River and the Pinette Provincial Park, and I love the pilings of the old bridge. If you look overhead with Google Maps you can see how the old road made it across the river before the much newer Trans Canada version. I've always loved rounding this bit and wondering how long ago that bridge was dismantled, and removed from service. Caroline suggested I stop and borrow her camera to get some shots of it, and I was happy to as my wee iPhone wasn't up to the task, again.


Pinette River bridge, looking across to Silver Waters Drive

Caroline's camera. Thanks hon! 

Photo Credit: Caroline
I think this is how the road used to run, the red line representing the bridge.




Photo Credit: Caroline


Photo Credit: Caroline


Photo Credit: Caroline



Photo Credit: Caroline

Photo Credit: Caroline

Photo Credit: Caroline

Photo Credit: Caroline



Photo Credit: Caroline


Photo Credit: Caroline

Photo Credit: Caroline
And that about wraps it up for our ride. It was still single digit cold, although it did warm up to make us shed layers for a time, but we still needed all the good gear early at the start of the ride, and much later in the day as we sped homeward, and off at the Pownal Road (26) that follows the shoreline a bit through Keppoch and right on up into Stratford and the Hillsborough River bridge. And then it was park the bikes and get some supper on the go.

Cheers for now!

Post Script: do you get the idea that we are becoming used to very lazy rides where stopping to smell the roses takes up a ton of time we could otherwise spend in the saddle trying to win an Iron Butt sticker or the Saddle Sore thingy? I'm not too worried about it. Quality time spent on a beautiful island with a beautiful girl... :D






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