Thursday, August 04, 2005

Whycocomagh Provincial Park, Nova Scotia

Up around 2:00 a.m. and hurried off to the bathroom; bowels in turmoil, with painful cramps. It started to rain an hour later. It was a difficult, nearly-sleepless night.

Reluctantly crawled out of my tent mid-morning. The showers had passed, but it would take a while for our things to dry out. That was okay; I was in no hurry this morning.

Getting out on the road, and into the fresh air, felt therapeutic. Followed Jeff out toward Prince Edward Island. He turned into the drive of a farm displaying a hand-painted "bakery" sign. We had passed it yesterday.

Stepped into the building that housed the bakery. It was rather dark and quiet. We were the only ones there. A simple display case contained four or five types of German pastries. Soon, an elderly woman came over from the farm house. While trying to decide what to buy, learned that she had come over from Switzerland and her husband, who had started the business, was a baker from Germany.

We bought a couple of small cakes and took them outside, sitting on some logs, among the farm machinery and vehicles. A jovial fellow with a thick German accent came out on the back porch of the house and shouted over to us "would you like some coffee?" Our first reaction was to not inconvenience him.

Then I asked "you have coffee?"

We stopped at a little German bakery near Amherst, New Brunswick. I had to sample the wares. Standing outside, eating our pastries, Manfred Esser came out on his back porch and shouted out in a heavy accent "would you like coffee?"

He asked what we take in our coffee, then emerged a few minutes later carrying two "Tim Horton's" mugs. We introduced ourselves to Manfred Esser, son of Irmtraud (the woman in the bakery). As we enjoyed the coffee and cake, we learned a little about the family business, supplying baked goods to restaurants in the area, and the running of the farm. Manfred told us we were welcome to stop by on our return trip.

Manfred and his mother, Irmtraud. Coffee was "on the house." We learned a bit about the hardships of running a small farm and family baking business in New Brunswick.

Continuing on toward Prince Edward Island ("P.E.I."), Jeff pulled over after seeing a sign indicating the bridge tolls. He was incredulous when he told me the fee was something like $39.00 to drive over the 6-mile-long bridge. Just ahead was a Visitors Information center and we went in to verify the costs. I was told that it was ONLY $15.75 for a motorcycle ($39.50 for a car.) Simply outrageous! I suspect that it is intentionally set so high to exclude the rabble from this playground of the rich and famous. We wouldn't be going to P.E.I., no way. I settled for a couple pictures of the infamous bridge.

This is as close as I was going to get to Prince Edward Island, playground for the rich and famous. The bridge toll is $39.50 CAD to take your car over. Only $15.75 for a bike. That's one way to exclude the rabble.

From another angle. Note the characteristic red sandstone. It's everywhere in this region.

Turned toward Nova Scotia. At a fuel stop, we met “Earl” a Nova Scotia native, riding a Harley. Earl had plenty to say regarding just about anything; a very out-spoken fellow. He directly contradicted the advice of the bikers in Quebec City: "take The Cabot Trail counterclockwise. The turn-offs are right there. You don't have cross over lanes." Earl also talked of Newfoundland. "Newfoundlanders are the friendliest people you'll meet." And he warned of the moose in Newfoundland. They're all over, even in daylight. We must have talked for nearly an hour.

Our goal this afternoon became the Whycocomagh Provincial Campground in Cape Breton. When we reached Cape Breton, we wisely checked in at the Visitors information Center to see if they knew the status of campsites at Whycocomagh, another thirty miles up the road.

They assured us spaces were available. The campground reports into them on a regular basis. They also suggested two restaurants close to the campground, "Vi’s" and "Alice’s Restaurant". Whycocomagh is a First Nation community. We checked into the campground, which was set on a beautiful hillside, grassy slopes leading up to thick forest. Most of the sites out in the open grassy areas were occupied, but we found a nice spot tucked back in the trees high up the slope.

In a hurry to arrive at the restaurant before they closed, we returned to the kiosk to advise the ranger which site we wanted (making sure she didn't offer it to the two kayakers just arriving.)

Drove the half mile to "Alice's", housed in a simple, functional building. The interior was clean, well-lighted and carefully-appointed. Good signs. A "table tent" advertised one pound of Nova Scotia mussels for $5.30. I couldn't pass that up. (Steamed in white wine and garlic, they were outstanding.) I also tried their roast turkey dinner, which was quite satisfying.

We drove over 250 miles today; good progress, considering a 1:00 p.m. start. I must say, the highways throughout New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have been outstanding.

Communicating with my brother has been interesting. As it is, we both tend to mumble, and perhaps we're going deaf from the noise of the road, so almost every time we say something, the other person responds with a "what?" And we then have to repeat what was said. It feels like we need to whack each other to assure we have their undivided attention before speaking.

Abdominal cramps continued today. I'm not sure about making the ride up to Newfoundland. I need to rest up first; it wouldn't be wise to go forward in a state of fatigue.

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