East Coast Day 3: Sticking with it
Yesterday was really rough on me physically and mentally. Today I started the day by calling 3 different Enterprise rentals in Fredericton.
Not a single one had any available cars for another few days.
I was surprised that was the case, but I also wasn't that dissapointed. Something about having no choice but to go forward on the bike was calming. My clothes were mostly dry, so I got ready and headed out around 10pm.
The day started with some drizzling rain, but just a little less than the day before. Rain, but just a bit less. Cold, but not quite as cold. Not as windy either. All of that was way easier on me. Sure, I was getting rained on, but I wasn't shivering, and that made a huge difference.
About 1 or 2 hours in it cleared up and I was able to cruise on dry roads for the rest of the way. Once you have to go through large stretches in bad conditions on a bike, the good conditions seem that much better. I absolutely ripped through New Brunswick and half of Nova Scotia to get to Cape Breton.
The skies stayed gray until the last 10% or so, when I caught a small shred of blue sky through the clouds. It only lasted about 10 minutes, but it put a big grin on my face.
Eventually I crossed onto Cape Breton and everything became scenic.
Also, most of Cape Breton doesn't have Rogers service at all, but fortunately the GPS had my destination cached so I managed to find it.
The B&B was in a small coastal town, almost at the edge of a cliff, marked by a bright yellow motorcycle with sidecar (which I learned is actually their garbage can). I pulled up and met the owners, Roger and Brenda, for the first time. Wow, great people.
I walked in and met 2 girls who were staying there before heading out the following day. We all chatted about the area, what to see (from what they've already explored), and I got my plans in order for the next day. Then I had to head out to a restaurant they recommended about 15 minutes away.
Problem for me was that this town has practically no street lights, and is full of great curvy roads and hills. I didn't want to ride it at night. So I wanted to eat quick. Directions were also a problem since my GPS wouldn't work.
The system they used was speed signs combined with another factor. "Once you see the speed limit change to 50 at the bottom of a hill, the restaurant is at the top". Worked like a charm. You're always paying attention to the speed signs.
Something else I discovered about the area is that a lot of parking lots are just rocks. Pavement seems hard to come by. Rocks suck for riding a motorcycle on (well, for someone as inexperienced as me at least). The area also has some driveways at really steep angles both up and down. Combined with the surface, there were places I just wouldn't pull into.
When I got to the restaurant there weren't many cars, so I just parked in an open patch and pointed my bike towards the exit so I could get out easier.
Turns out it was a huge asshole parking move, as the locals clearly had a system and I basically parked right in the middle of it. Oh well!
When I sat down I chatted with a retired couple beside me from Maine (I think). They had just pulled an entire cross country road trip from Vancouver to Cape Breton. They told me about going through Northern Ontario, and have probably seen more of it than I have. Lovely people, and some of the first random conversation I'd had on the trip since I'd just been bombing my way through provinces until then.
As they left, a younger couple sat down on my other side. But I saw the sun setting so I was busy devouring my food. I ordered the slowest meal like an idiot, the crab legs, but probably broke those bastards down faster than I ever have in my life. I was sort of proud. I grabbed the check so quick it probably seemed rude, and headed out.
It was already dark despite my best efforts, but I had no choice there. I flicked my highbeams on and off when I needed to see a bit further, it was a bit harrowing for me in such unfamiliar territory. But in the end it was fine.
About 20 minutes after returning to the B&B, the door opened up again at that same young couple from the restaurant came through the doors. Turns out they were the 3rd guests that night! Small town I suppose.
We sat around in the livingroom going through photos and videos that Roger and Brenda had collected of the area. From their porch they see the lobster and crab fisherman come and go each year, cruise ships heading for PEI, whales up to 40 feet in length, and birds that shape themselves into arrowheads to slam through the surface of the water.
It's all pretty amazing.
They also showed videos of 170km/h winds they get in the winter. We learned that they get 2 types of winds: incredibly strong winds from the mountains, and salty winds from the sea. The mountain winds have been strong enough to rip their entire deck out and throw it across the road, and it was built pretty well. Sometimes their windows bulge inwards from the force, and the vibration actually moves their beds as they sleep.
The sea breeze isn't as strong, but the salt in the wind and mist turned most of their plants completely black in the first week they moved here. It also rusts things really quickly. The salt is a big maintenance issue it seems.
Roger told us of a building under construction that had left a steel girder embedded in the ground overnight. The next morning they found it had been ripped out by the wind and thrown. To a nearby island. Incredible stuff.
I also learned that the yellow sidecar wasn't just a passing interest. Roger is 71 years old and he's been riding motorcycles since he was 17. Brenda rides as well. Roger got a sidecar when he lived in Montreal and needed something to ride in the winter, but couldn't afford a car yet. The sidecar gave him the stability to do that, and it just stuck.
It was great talking to them about all that too, they were excited when they saw me pull up in a bike. As I walked through their home I saw photos of them riding through the decades, including a New York Times article featuring them talking about high performance sidecars. So cool.
Learned so much about the area from them, really great people.
Tomorrow I ride a loop of the Cabot Trail. I'm excited and nervous about how I'll handle all the elevation changes and twisty roads, but the weather looks like it's easing up. Should be good!