It was mostly the best of times!
The idea was brilliant and it was Monique’s. We’d fly out to Halifax where our road-weary biker partners would be waiting after several days of Harley riding from home. And then, after touring Nova Scotia and Cape Breton, we’d fly home. As I write this, the guys are making their way back on their bikes.
A couple of times we smelled the wildfires. Before we left, Derek called a tourism office and was told that steady rain had brought all of the fires under control. We didn’t actually see any flames, or fire crews, but we know they were there and we feel for the Nova Scotians (and everyone else) affected by them.
Our first stop was Roy’s, a high school friend of Derek and Tam near Antagonish. Roy and his wife have built a home out of shipping containers with a lot of modifications and additions. It’s pretty cool. Roy is an underwater filmographer who has incredible adventure stories. He fed us delicious lobster rolls and fresh corn before we set out for Arichat. And that’s when things went to hell.
I’ve ridden in heavy rain before. But this storm was other-worldly. In addition to being dangerously slippery, the two-lane highway had potholes as deep as saucepans and a dip in the center. So, if Derek had to avoid a deep pothole (of which there were many), he’d hit the rivulet and it was as if someone threw a bucket of ice water at his face. It was very difficult to see. Frankly, I’m amazed we made it through several hours of this bullshit, frozen and completely soaked. But there was nowhere to stop without putting ourselves at greater risk.
Derek and his buddy Tam were completely exhausted but they got us safely to our destination. Other than the time he encountered sudden hail on a mountain, I’d say this was Derek’s worst riding experience. It was certainly mine.
However, we agreed that it’s a little like childbirth. You forget about the agony when the baby – or the sunshine – is in your hands! The rest of the trip was pretty glorious.
Derek and I last toured the Cabot Trail by motorcycle more than a dozen years ago. The twisty, hilly terrain is fun to ride but the driver doesn’t get to see much. We stopped a few times to look at beautiful vistas. There are so many. You’d stop at one, take off the gear, snap some photos, put the gear back on and two minutes down the road you want to stop again! We all agreed we need to go back in a car to take it all in.
Forgive our adolescent humour. My brother remembered getting a tasty chicken dinner at this spot outside North Sydney, so we stopped for a photo op. Unfortunately, it wasn’t open.
We enjoyed some wonderful dining experiences at various little local eateries. We’ll remember The Island Nest in Arichat for its oceanside deck and a wonderful server. It was a short walk from a truly glorious place, The Clairestone Inn. Charming and squeaky clean, with loads of personality and wonderful hosts.
Tam was our navigator. His iPhone got soaked in the rain so it went into a bag of rice for the night and recovered. However, a day later we hit hard bumps and the phone went airborne. It landed on the highway where it was run over by at least one vehicle.
No amount of rice will fix that.
Rain was coming again on our last night and morning so I hit upon a great idea. Rent a car! Derek and I planned to head up to Scott’s Bay to visit my cousin and her terminally ill husband. We love them both tremendously and couldn’t pass up the chance to see them. The first few rental places I called were sold out. But Budget had either high end electric cars or a “mystery vehicle” for a much lower price. I decided to take a chance on the mystery vehicle.
Wasn’t I surprised when I was handed the keys to a brand new Jeep Wrangler. Not only did it have tons of room, it was a real blast to drive! Sure enough, it rained heavily on Sunday morning. We were glad we had the mystery machine.
Monique and I got home Sunday, pooped. The guys aren’t due back until Thursday and there’s a lot of riding between now and then. They did all of the work for this trip, and we’re grateful.
A quick word about Flair airline. (Why don’t they call it Flairline? I digress.)The flights were on time and the crews were quite nice. But there’s a reason why the fares are so low. They charge extra for everything. You must choose a seat and there’s an extra charge. A carry-on bag is $70. A coffee or drink of water during the flight – you pay for that. So, buyer beware. We stuffed our little cash/ID bags into our small duffels and called them our “personal items” to avoid the carry-on charges. And now with Westjet absorbing Swoop and Sunwing, the options for low fare travel are getting even slimmer.