Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Recommended Campground: Amherst Shore Provincial Park

Canadian Provincial campgrounds are great. At this one near Amherst Shore, $3.50 CAD gets you a plentiful supply of wood delivered to your site, with kindling and newspaper. They even stack the starting materials in the fireplace.

Up at 8:30. Jeff asked the desk personnel for an additional hour (until noon), but they denied the request. "We're booked up this evening." Stubbornly exited the room at 11:30. I suggested we go next door to "St. Hubert's" and have our "big meal for the day" (since Jeff likes the chain, and we're right there.) $10 CAD gets you a plenty to eat, and it's pretty good food.

After lunch, we rode southeast, following the same track as a widespread storm ahead of us. It appeared to be moving roughly 40 to 45 mph, so we had to periodically stop and allow it to move on.

During one pause beneath a viaduct, called brother Drew in Seattle to report that we were under an underpass. He said he wished he was with us under the underpass. A red R1200GS with a couple aboard passed us. That made three R1200GSs under the same underpass. What are the chances of that happening? Drew might call that "morphic resonance."

The highway zig-zagged annoyingly. At one moment it would point us toward blue skies east of the rains, then a mile later, turn right into the heart of the storm. We were already getting wet from the water accumulated on the highway, and trailing showers.

Uncomfortably soaked, we left the highway in Miramichi and wandered down to the waterfront, where it appeared not to be raining. Found there an old business district with quaint shops. I quickly spotted the "Napan" bakery amongst the storefronts. A simple selection of German pastries on display and we were assured the coffee was good, so we decided to dry out here for a while. Over a "Mozart" cookie and cup of coffee, we enjoyed visiting with the locals and watching German tourists pass through.

One very chatty customer, we learned, has been out on strike from the paper and pulp industry for the past eight months. He receives $500 CAD Strike Pay, plus what he can earn on the side doing "I.S.O." audits. As Jeff notes, he didn't seem too stressed. We asked him what he thought of Prince Edward Island. His assessment: a tourist trap. "They like your dollars." He recommended the bridge over to the island as the main attraction. "Just drive over and back." This was not the first time we heard it's not worth spending time out there.

Continuing our drive, we chose "the freeway," highway 11, wishing to get some miles behind us after all the rain lately. We were still tailing that damn storm though. In Shediac, we searched out Parlee Beach, the first Provincial campground on today's route. Unlike most I've experienced, this one was set right in the middle of civilization, a bustling beach community. Still, we went in to have a look. The manager was busy directing traffic. The only places available were in his "overflow" area, basically a big open lawn.

"This is a long weekend. Yesterday was New Brunswick Day. Last weekend, I had 250 in the overflow."

We moved on. The next park, Murray Beach, is too close to the Prince Edward Island bridge. I was certain that one would be full, so we targeted a park just across the Nova Scotia border, that looked a bit more remote.

Crossing into Nova Scotia, I felt better immediately. There was a freshness and more pastoral feel. Farms we passed were well-maintained, very pretty. When we found the Amherst Shore Provincial Park, I was delighted - it was perfect. The staff was friendly and they had the right answer when we eagerly asked if they had sites available. We were pretty jolly.

Only $18.00 for a campsite and we got our pick of the many open spaces. Even ordered firewood to be delivered to the site. $3.50 for a big load, and they brought kindling and newspaper, carefully placing the starting materials in the fireplace. A wonderful breeze blowing, assuring things would remain dry. What a spot!

Less than a mile away, "Craig's" market provided fixings for "dinner": canned soups, chips, drinks. I looked at the thunderhead in the west and told Jeff "we better put up the rainflies tonight." Heating soup over the fire was pretty silly, considering I have a campstove that will do it in minutes. But it was the feeling of "roughing it" (along with a little bit of ash) that made the soup taste better.

Today's lunch did not sit well. My bowels cramped up. I attributed it to having a big meal prior to riding, which is not a common practice for me. Turned in early, about 9:00.

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