2021 Fleur-de-lis, Cabot and Ceilidh Trail

Caroline on the Cabot Trail
Terre Noire
Cape Breton Island, NS

 There are many trails in Nova Scotia, and the most famous of these is the well known Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island Nova Scotia. Caroline and I have been on it more than once, so for this short, three day trip, we planned to ride the Fleur-de-lis trail, then the Cabot and lastly the Ceilidh Trail, with a wee bit of the Sunrise Trail if we had time for it. Full size map of Nova Scotia Trails here

The Grand Plan:

Ride roughly 1,150 kilometers, about 16 hours of riding and thoroughly enjoy ourselves. 

Charlottetown PE to Meat Cove NS and Return

Nova Scotia
Scenic Drives

Nova Scotia Tourism Map
High Resolution 

Day 1

Drive 421 km, 5 hours, 16 minutes
Charlottetown PE to Battery Provincial Park NS
Charlottetown PE to Battery Provincial Park NS

We got away a bit later than anticipated, but we weren't expecting to take too long to get to our destination, which Caroline had planned out to be Battery Provincial Park in Nova Scotia on Cape Breton Island, where we had stopped briefly for lunch last year on a similar ride that featured the Fortress Louisbourg 

Confederation Bridge
We have our island banter down to a science now. A model of efficiency as we pull up as a pair at the pay booth for the bridge fare. "We are together, she will go first. Debit please" Which means that I'll be paying for two, but they only allow one vehicle at a time, so she proceeds first, while I put my card away, then when the gate raises for a second time, I boot it like a madman to catch up to her, but not this time as there was very light bridge traffic, and she was able to tickle along while I caught up. We used to pull over to the side and wait for the other, but that allowed other vehicles to slip in front of us, like slow tractor trailers or worse, RVs or truck and camper. Groan. Nothing more fun than constantly rolling off the throttle so you don't rear end something that is afraid of exceeding the bridge posted 80 kph limit.  It's so much nicer to be in the lead. 

We took our normal route along 955 through Murray Corner, then on through Port Elgin and through Tidnish Bridge and into Nova Scotia where we headed over to Pugwash along NS 366 and into Tatamagouche New Brunswick where we had hoped to stop at Big Al's for lunch, but it was closed on a Tuesday morning, so we opted for donair next door at Derado's Pizzeria And Donair. We did have a bit of a wait, and I found that they'd over cooked the donair meat, so it was a bit of a rough go. 

Derado's Pizzeria And Donair

We ran into a bit of construction along route 6 just past Caribou River, but nothing too terrible, although long enough for us to turn off the bikes and relax for a bit.  

I find that when I'm on a route that I've done a number of times I don't often take too many photos, although it is a lovely drive. Soon enough we found ourselves arriving in Havre Boucher NS, and we'd be onto the Canso Causeway soon enough. 

We opted for a bunch of highway here to speed things up and keep us on track for a campsite before dark. We still had to shop etc once we got there. 

Our island destination awaits us...

Caroline leads us across the Canso Causeway and onto Cape Breton Island Nova Scotia. I love the royal wave. 

Once on Cape Breton, Caroline lead us off the causeway and into Port Hawksbury, then south on the 104 and up the hill where we decided to stop and fuel the bikes, as well as do our six o'clock charlie and stock up for supper and breakfast (milk for my tea). We found a sale on pre-formed burger patties with local beef, so bought a bit of cheese and an onion along with some buns, and our usual dessert and four litre jug of water for the next day. The groceries went into the usual hiding spots split between the two bikes, and I tied on the water jug to my bike, the bulk of it resting on a side case. 

Caroline planned on taking us the slow way, along the old NS Route 4 as opposed to the new Trans Canada Highway 104 that we've taken previously. I'm not going to complain, it was more fun taking the older, twisty road. 

Battery Provincial Park
Cape Breton Island
Nova Scotia
We arrived about 18:20 only to find that due to COVID the office was "closed" to regular manual bookings, and were only responding to online bookings to minimize contact. That was fine as we had signal, and Caroline worked her magic and secured us a site for the evening. 

The park attendant was spectacular and when asked which site was his favourite, offered us a couple of options, but his first choice was one at near the top of the hill with an exceptional view of  Saint Peters Bay. The caveat was he was concerned about the gravelled hill leading to the site, and the rather tight left hand corner that needed to be made when approaching it from this end. I opted to ride up and scout it out for Caroline, but he made it sound worse than it was. Well, let me rephrase that, if we had been on cruisers, it would have been a bit of fun with excitement right near the end, but I managed it easily. Caroline on the other hand, was still smarting from her end of day experience at Meat Cove campground where she had a minor get off on her Adventure Honda Shadow. Or was that 2019?  Found it! It was after our spectacular visit to the Fortress Louisbourg in August of 2020. That was a grand adventure, but the park attendant had made Caroline cautious, and I was all bravado... "If it gets interesting, get on the throttle. It may not help, but it will end the suspense."  For whatever reason she didn't find that helpful at all, but committed herself and made the hill to pull in beside my Versys.

Did I mention that she is a keeper? Kind of a nasty thing to face at the end of the day, but she rose to the challenge!

 The ground wasn't perfectly level, and she reluctantly asked for my help to ease her bike into a decent spot with a kickstand puck under the side stand of her KLR. 

We're old pros at this. 
Caroline snores very loudly so for the sake of a decent nights sleep, I asked her to pack along my spare tent, the old Alps Lynx 2 while I was in my Alps Chaos 3. Seriously though, you would have to be very good friends to call that a three person tent. For one though, it is palatial. I think it took us about fifteen minutes to get the tents set up and our sleeping gear into them. 
Caroline's setup
Photo credit: Caroline

Our spot for the night
Overlooking St. Peter's Bay
Battery Provincial Park
Cape Breton Island
Nova Scotia
Photo credit: Caroline

I set up the kitchen on the picnic table and got out my Stanley adventure fry pan for the burgers that Caroline was going to cook for us, and you can see the sun starting to set.

Yes, I am this much fun to be with!
local Cape Breton Island beef is on the menu for tonight

Caroline did a fantastic job on our supper, although we hit a wall on seconds and wished we had a dog or two to help out. Dessert was a chocolate bar each, and dinner was done. I boiled some of our four litres of water and used my portable kitchen sink and a bit of dish soap along with Caroline's help to clean up and get squared away before we lost the last of our light. 

We retired to our respective tents once last of the sun sank below the horizon and slept the night away on this warm August night. 

Day 2 

Drive 285 km, 3 hours, 53 minutes
Battery Provincial Park NS to Meat Cove NS

Battery Provincial Park NS to Meat Cove NS

We had a easy day of it today, and as Caroline was plotting the route, All I asked of her was that we hit up A&K Lick a Chick for lunch near Bras D'or NS

I don't sleep in while camping, and was up and mobile just after six in the morning, so headed uphill to the outhouses, then returned to camp to boil up water for tea, and instant oatmeal, breakfast of champions (and me). Caroline made an appearance as the shadows began to lift and headed downhill in the direction of the showers while I enjoyed my tea and breakfast. Then she returned and I got to watch her use her new coffee toy, her Aerobie AeroPress coffee press which she'd been using at home for a couple of weeks before we did this trip, so had the technique down pat. YouTuber and Nova Scotian Mark Young shows how he uses his in the bush.  Caroline was using the GSI Java Drip last year, but prefers this method as it gets better flavour out of her grind. 

Caroline's AeroPress

Meh, I toss in a King Cole tea bag into boiled water and add in a ton of milk from the container that sat unrefrigerated overnight in the dewy grass. It tastes exactly the way it should. Every time. ;)

Saint Peter's Bay
Photo credit: Caroline

We set out along 247, the Fleur-de-Lis Trail, aka the St. Peters - Fourchu road that would later turn into Route 347 and take us into Marion Bridge CBI NS. This is the second time on this part of the trail, and we knew what to expect, although for Caroline, it was a much plusher ride with the long travel KLR suspension as compared to her 2004 Honda Adventure Shadow. I don't think I heard a single "OOOFFFF" the whole ride, whereas it was one every fifteen minutes when she rode the cruiser. 

The weather is perfect, and the roads, sometimes the same. ;)

Fleur-de-Lis trail along the St. Peter's - Foourchu road

Once in a while I would back track for shots, and tis is one of them. 

County Cape Breton
I thought I would have a brief look at the wiki on Cape Breton Island only to find that the European's had many names and designs on it long before it became part of Canada's province of Nova Scotia. It was originally settled by the French and named "Île Royale", and it's capital or principal site moved to Louisbourg which was then fortified, in search of a harbour that did not freeze over mid winter. I think it wasn't until 1758 when the English gained the upper hand over the French at Fortress Louisbourg, which ended their claim to the area, and subsequently encouraged the fall of Isle Saint Jean, Now Prince Edward Island. 

This route is lightly used and doesn't see as much maintenance as the Trans Canada, so be prepared to skirt some potholes and crumbling shoulders. It can be worse. 

It can be worse, it can be better. Cruisers and sport bikes take it easy. 

Looking out over Saint Esprit Lake
Fleur-de-Lis Trail
Cape Breton Island

This could be our home... 
Speaking of which, I understand there is a large European interest in vacations here by sportsmen in search of fishing and game. You seen signs everywhere, quite a few in German advertising the cabins and rental opportunities. 
Check for oncoming... 

Looking South Fuller's Gulf

Hardy's Cove in North Fourchu
Along the Fleur-de-Lis trail
Cape Breton Island
It was clear that these villages used to fish, hunt and lumber as a mainstay, and now that the fish stocks were recovering thanks to the fishing quotas of the day, these places aren't showing the life that they used to. You can imagine a time when an entire family worked the boats and the homes to keep the family fed, clothed and sheltered. 

Some parts of the Maritimes look like the tundra that I saw when crossing the Trans Labrador Highway. These shots are 

Maximum Zoom. Can you spot the doe and fawn? 

How about in this one?

The View, just North of North Fourchu

That was it for pictures along that stretch of ride. as we still had another hour to go before arriving at Bras D'or and our lunch stop. 

Caroline taking time out to fix something loose on her KLR

We made it! 
Caroline really likes their drumsticks, and is always willing to share with me for a few bites of it, so while we wait for our order and number to be called, she set into her drumstick. She can do that, it's a vacation. 

I'm trying to behave and cutting down on my carbs.
A&K Lick a Chick
Chicken with Onion rings
I love stopping there for snacks. 

We are on our way to our favourite place to ride, across the Great Bras D'or... 

On on upwards over Kelly's Mountain. Here is a tune by J.P. Cormier of Kelly's Mountain

Kelly's Mountain lays ahead of us. 

Actually the KOA campground is ahead of us, but then the highway turns to the right and we start the ascent over Kelly's Mountain, which Caroline's mother Esther is always sure to wonder why I return without a picture of her lovely daughter proudly standing under the sign. I can tell you why, CAROLINE IS STUBBORN!!! She won't stop or slow down as she passes that sign or do a u-turn to go back for it, so a video of her passing it (at rather long distance) is the best I have to offer you of a Kelly climbing Kelly's Mountain. 

I joke around a bit, but these roads we are travelling on are used 24/7 365 days of the year by commercial vehicles as well as residents and visitors. COVID cut that traffic considerably this year. You are only seeing an eighth of it. Caroline feels safer when she chooses the group to stop on, and it's usually level with excellent visibility ahead and behind. Of the two of us, my bet is on her drawing a longer and larger pension. Besides, she's the only beautiful biker in my life that loves getting into mischief with meon our moto camping adventures.  She's a keeper and I love her. 

Esther, these are for you... :D

I really need to get an action camera for these rides, something in the affordable budget range that isn't sponsored by Red Bull and Go Fro your wallet. 

Nova Scotia 30 taking us North into Tarbotville Cape Breton Island
North along the Cabot Trail

And at this point I realize that some of the photos are out of sequence darn it! The Dancing Moose is south of Ingonish. **Sigh

We're just coming into Ingonish now. 

The Dancing Moose Cafe
Yes, I am this much fun to hang with. 

Zac Kurlyk of CMG fame suggested that we stop here last year in 2020, and it was an instant hit with me!

 I've been COVID baking Yorkshire pudding like a madman, and have that art well perfected, and I found out that these Dutch pancakes or "Pannekoeken" are simply Yorkshire puddings fried in a pan rather than baked in the oven. Anyhow, the cafe load their creations down with icing sugar, toppings of your choice and freshly made whipping cream. Caroline and I knew that they closed early in the afternoon as they cater to the breakfast and lunch crowds, but we managed to slip in just under the wire, whereupon we politely asked for the crepes to go onto the patio as they looked like they were winding down for the day, and we hate to impose. 

Read the fine print

We were served on the picnic table outside, and Caroline was wonderful and deferred to me to choose the toppings, as she knew how much I love these. I'll be stopping there next year as well, you see, and the year after that. :) (I told you that I love her, but I think she might love me too just a bit, eh? ) The service was fantastic, and certainly more that we ever expected arriving so late when they were expecting to close their dining room. I'm so grateful for their kindness. 

Caroline was getting tired of me playing with my food. That's her fork. :)

It's about 1600 now, and we still have to get on up to Meat Cove for the night, and if it's anything like last year, I'll be taking more pictures too. :)

There looks like a threat of rain in the air up ahead.

Meat Cove is a popular destination... 

That is a big sky up ahead, and such a beautiful area to be riding in.

The sky up ahead is gloomy, and once we turn onto Meat Cove road it looks like we are definitely going to get a bit wet this afternoon/evening. 

The road down into Meat Cove Campground

The view of Bay St. Lawrence looking across to Cape North
from Meat Cove road
Meat Cove lies in the opposite direction. 

Hey, I got Caroline in the same selfie shot! Awesome! 

The lighting is awesome!

Panoramic view of Bay St. Lawrence

The view from Black Point

You know, once in a while I am surprised to find that the person I ride with is taking pictures of me taking pictures. lol. 
Photo Credit: Caroline

Photo Credit: Caroline

Photo Credit: Caroline

Photo Credit: Caroline

There you have it, we are here! Sadly, the chowder hut it closed. 
No chowder or onion rings for Caroline and I. 

Caroline had a wee off last year on her Shadow, and at the end of the day, didn't feel up to any demonstration riding events (doing u-turns in front of a crowd) and asked me to park her bike for her, which I was more than willing to do for her. To be fair, it was raining enough to make the grass a touch wet, and the Versys Shinko 705 tires love slip sliding away on that wet grass, so I was careful manhandling that big beast into a spot, and I parked Caroline's close to mine so we could begin unloading them and get our tents up just in case that rain became a reality. The view was breathtaking again, especially with that fog. I rarely get tired of it. 

We'd stopped at Cabot Trail Food Market in Dingwall and stocked up with a few things, as is our habit when stopping for the day. Tonight was going to be a quick meal of Kimchee ramen with fresh sliced onion and some Caroline's Eureka Garlic granules that she packs for us,  followed up with some of yesterday's leftover cheese, and one of those Lou's boil in the bag meat thingys. and some Covered Bridge Donair chips that I had scored at Sobey's yesterday evening. I had no idea how good they were going to be, and with the sharp cheese that we'd obtained, it was heaven. Caroline got stuck in, and laughingly I had to later accuse her of having the lions share, but perhaps that was a bit of pay back for the fruit pancake earlier that afternoon, and I love her, enough to be pleased that she was enjoying the chips. :D

Save some for me dear!

There were also a few beverages, but we had our hearts set on "Dark and Stormy" Dark rum and ginger beer, but they were out so we settled for some blue crab flavoured soda that Caroline isn't particularly fond of. Darn it. 

Those chips are fantastic! One of my new all time favourites
right up there with Marmite Crisps by Walkers

Day 3

Drive 445 km, 6 hours, 55 minutes
Meat Cove NS to Charlottetown PE

Meat Cove NS to Charlottetown PE
We knew this was going to be a long day going into it, and once we were off Cape Breton Island, it was going to be a mad rush along the highway to make the ferry we wanted. I hate rushing for ferries, but Caroline makes the days go easier, and I enjoyed teasing her awake to witness the sunrise with me. 

Sunrise over Meat Cove
Meat Cove Campground
Cape Breton Island
Nova Scotia
Photo Credit: Caroline
I wasn't expecting this one at all. :)

Caroline wants to camp under that flag on the point someday.

Our campsite as seen from below. 

Our view from the picnic table
I'm glad to put that night behind me. Looking at this picture just reminds me of my sleeping bag slipping down the hill while my air mattress stayed in place. Argh. Not my favourite place to pitch a tent at all. I felt as if I were sliding downhill towards my doom the entire time I was there. Our friends had even more fun when they stayed at this site in 2018.

We had that ferry to make at 1600 today, so it was time to get rolling and on our way. I was stiff and not feeling the love on this short jaunt back out to the Cabot Trail. 

Meat Cove road heading towards Capstick

Bay St. Lawrence

We had a fun warm up run once we were off the gravel and onto the pavement past Black Point. 
We'd rejoin the Cabot Trail in Cape North

Bay St. Lawrence

This is the Big Intervale through the Cabot Trail 

We entered Cape Breton Highlands National Park where my friend Charles had spent a couple of years work overseeing the road upgrades through there. Caroline and I were well pleased that that construction was complete, and we were able to ride these at our own pace and enjoy the moment. I've many more of these, but this is one of my favourites, and captures the challenge of the chicane ahead, and the natural beauty of the park and the highlands. 

Our plan was to stop in Cheticamp for fuel, and maybe second breakfast. For me, that is. That instant oatmeal is good, but it's a small portion, and if I can talk Caroline into stopping for a breakfast sandwich four hours later (ten or 11) it means that she won't be hangry when it rolls around noon, and we are in the middle of BFN. 

This KLR did the Cabot Trail

Pleasant Bay 
Cape Breton Island
Nova Scotia

We two, we happy two
I know. A shameless plagiarism and misquote

Two Kawasaki's

Caroline leads us to Petit Étang
As seen from the Cabot Trail
Cape Breton Island
Nova Scotia

We were on the outskirts of Cheticamp NS, the large Acadian French town where I knew we would find fuel and a a place to stop for lunch, when I saw a sign advertising a local bakery "Aucoin Boulangerie" and then saw the new expansion parking lot for it, so we doubled back and pulled in to find that is was just opening to the public, and that covid meant that there was a bit of a queue to join before we would have our chance to see what was on the menu, and to have a cup of coffee with our now noon time lunch meal. 

Aucoin Boulangerie
Petit Etang
Near Cheticamp NS

Try their Croissant avec fromage. Magnifique! 

We had the smoked meat on Rye, and I couldn't help but want a cheese croissant, and Caroline had a cinnamon bun. It's a wonderful thing being in love. You get to share your croissant and get cinnamon bun in return. This is a waypoint now, and we will be stopping there again. A gem of a place. 

Pretty, no? The sandwich isn't bad looking either. 

We felt better with full tanks leaving Cheticamp, for now we had just over an hour to ride to make the 1600 ferry, and wouldn't need to stop for fuel until Pictou on our way in to the Caribou Ferry. 

When I first rode the Cabot Trail back in 2006 with my brother-in-law Kirk, we stopped at a place just outside of Margaree Harbour, closer to Terre Noire actually... 

To be precise... 46.48585,-61.0801194

To take a few pictures, and for Caroline, it was the first time doing the trail on her KLR, so definitely a photo op for us. 

Caroline on her 2006 Kawasaki KLR 650 
Terre Noire
The Cabot trail
Cape Breton Island 
Nova Scotia

Caroline on her 2006 blah...

We left the Cabot Trail in favour of the Ceilidh Trail NS 219 where it would turn into NS 19 and take us down through Inverness and past Glenora Distillery, one of the well known single malt distilleries that make Canadian scotch whiskey.   I promise myself I'll stop in each time, but have not yet. 

It's a lovely drive, and especially beautiful in the fall when the colours change as so much of it is through forested lands.  We've taken this route a couple of times now, and quite enjoy it. 

Canso Causeway, and mainland Nova Scotia

And that was it... but there was a bit of excitement to come for us, for me in particular. 
Can you see that vehicle ahead of me? It's an SUV towing a small unloaded trailer. He was going under the posted 70 kph speed limit, and when I got closer I noticed the left tire on the trailer was shimmying, a rapid oscillation left and right that could only be the tire and rim seperating from the hub, or the bearing melting and letting go and the whole hub and tire about to part company with the trailer. He left the straightaway of the causeway and began to negotiate the turn as the highway shifts right along the coast, but his trailer looked like it was going to head in a different direction and I pulled back on asked Caroline to do the same. The driver realized something was wrong, reduced speed and headed for a parking lot off to the right, and I breathed a sigh of relief that it was not going to be a long day spent with tow trucks and first responders. Darn happy that trailer was empty too! If it had a load, how much of it would have slopped out of that trailer and become projectiles to Caroline and I? Grease those bearings folks! And if you don't know how, sell the trailer or have it done professionally. Those bearings take an awful lot of punishment. 

Porcupine Mountain Quarry
Auld's Cove NS
" A large quarry on Cape Porcupine Mountain was also built at the southern end of Aulds Cove to supply fill material for the causeway; as of 2015, this quarry continues to operate in its sixth decade." I can't help but wonder if PEI isn't importing Porcupine Mountain for it's construction and infrastructure public works? :)
PEI's red sandstone is beautiful for stone carving, but makes lousy aggregate. 

We shot down 104 Trans Canada Highway, stopped briefly in Pictou for fuel I think. Oops. We usually do... Then made our way to the Caribou Ferry. "Two PEI residents returning, vaccinated, lane four?" but they changed the answer to trick their regular clientele and I saw a shake of her head as she pointed out and spoke "Lane 3 please." and smiled to say she'd gotten the better of me. :D

I even had time for a nice pee in the washroom while Caroline waited in the sun for me.  

Motorcycles board the ferry after the foot traffic, so we are first on, and if the ramp dude knows you can squeeze out in front of the pickup truck on the far end, they let you roll off first as well.
Love me a motorcycle life. 

Caroline is quick as am I, and as soon as we had our bikes all strapped in place, we headed up to the lounge where we were first or second in line for the "Proof of vaccination" scheme employed by the Island of Prince Edward, and we got our "Get out of Jail free" slips, a pink slip that meant we had been vetted, vaccinated and did not require to be tested nor isolated and were returning residents. SWEET! We simply had to go enjoy the rest of the leisurely sail home. 

She is always eager to pose for the camera.
Work it baby! 

I made sure to tell the ramp dude that Caroline and I could squeeze past the fender of the F-150 parked tightly close to us, and he slid back the gate, and gave us the nod to go. And go we did! 

I can make it past that truck, honest I can... 

Off the ramp, down the road, stopping at the PEI highway safety rep to hand over our pink slips, and then right on past the COVID STOPS HERE gypsy camp. That is the best feeling as the others queue up with their windows tightly rolled up and the trucks and cars dripping water off their AC condensers. Can you imagine being outside in a line behind them all breathing that crap just to pull up and tell the girls in their ball caps armed with deadly clipboards and blue Health PEI jackets that we were returning residents vaccinated without need to isolate? This system works so much better for us. I can't wait until COVID is gone and we can get back to normal, earning money to pay taxes squandered against government debt. Hahaha! 

COVID Camp 17 
And we enjoyed an evening ride from the Wood Islands Ferry into Charlottetown where I bid Caroline fare thee well and headed for my apartment while she headed on home to Tryon. 

We will ride again... 


No comments:

Post a Comment

All posts are moderated. Thank you.