The Cabot Trail

Epic Ride, Day 57:

Even though I slept well on the ferry back to Nova Scotia from Newfoundland, I was pretty tired.  I sat at the nice lobster place updating the blog for long enough to eat breakfast and lunch on Friday morning before finally starting up the Cabot Trail.

A gentleman had approached me as I was getting ready to ride away from the lobster place and told me to be very careful since the first few miles toward the Gaelic College in St. Ann’s was very rough.  Well, it wasn’t, but a few klicks up the road that was rectified.  Lots of frost heaves and potholes, but even with my weight and the weight of all my gear, the little NT’s suspension proved up to the task, letting me breeze through the twisty bits with confidence and joy.

Before getting to Ingonish and the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, I enjoyed some picturesque scenery, steep grades and some great views of the ocean:




In this picture you can see the first part of road that I’d be climbing as I headed for Ingonish.

After Ingonish, I entered the National Park.  There was a magnificent golf course next to this church, but I didn’t get a good picture of the course (sorry, golfing buddies!).


From Neils Harbour, I took a coast road that provided more views of the sea.



And this lighthouse at Dingwall.

From Dingwall I rode to Bay St. Lawrence.  Lots of folks had told me I “had” to go to Meat Cove, but the road to Meat Cove had about 10 miles of gravel and, after all the rain of the previous few days, I opted out of that.  Bay St. Lawrence proved to be a serendipitous choice.

I got off the bike and looked at some of the fishing boats in the Harbour:


and at this boat tied a different wharf:


Just as I was getting on the bike to ride, a woman pulled up and went down the gangway to the wharf carrying groceries.  I called out to her and told her how much I admired the boat and she said something back to me.  I killed the bike, pulled of my helmet, pulled out my earplugs and asked her to repeat what she’d said.  She said, “I told you to come on down if you want to look her over.”

So I did.


As I approached the boat it seemed naggingly familiar.  When I got on and went below, I introduced myself and Margaret Lawrence introduced herself and I mentioned my sense that the boat was something I’d seen somewhere.  I told her it reminded me of the Spray.  She beamed and said, “It should, the hull is an exact replica, built from Joshua Slocum’s own plans.  We took liberties with the interior layout and the cabin-top and deckhouse, but the hull is exact… except for the fact that we’ve got an engine and the Captain only had a sculling oar.”

Most of you probably have never heard of Captain Joshua Slocum.  He was a clipper-ship captain who was “on the beach” as steam replaced the clippers at the end of the 19th century.  A friend gave him the wreck of a boat that was on the beach near Falmouth, MA, and Joshua rebuilt it.  As he did he conceived of a voyage around the world.  It took him three years, but he not only made it but wrote engagingly about it in his book, “Sailing Alone Around the World.”  Whether you’re a sailor or not, “Sailing Alone…” is a great read, a true classic.  I’ve probably read it seven or eight times.  The only comparable book I can think of is Lindburgh’s “Spirit of St. Louis.”

Margaret was cooking and a friend arrived, followed shortly by Fred, Margaret’s husband.





Fred told me that he and Margaret had neither one sailed before building the Double Crows, but they had taken her (and their two young children to Florida, the Bahamas and Cuba.  Both of them were fishermen, working the lobster traps during the summer, and catching other fish in the spring and early fall.

The Two Crows was loaded with history.  The anchor chain had come from a whaling station on South Georgia Island, just north of Antarctica, and the location Earnest Shackleton had reached when on his desperate rescue mission to save his stranded crew after the wreck of the Endurance.  There were also winches, blocks, deadeyes, and other pieces of hardware that had been on a boat built by Alexander Graham Bell, who was a Nova Scotian.  When I mentioned to Fred that Double Crows also reminded me of boats designed by a naval architect named Ackerman, he smiled again and said that Nate Ackerman was a personal friend and that his boats had been the inspiration for Double Crow’s deckhouse.


Margaret had a campground, the “Jumping Mouse Campground,” and I decided  to spend the night there.  I got a good sunset out of it, and a great night’s sleep.  I wish I could show the stars I saw at midnight.  They were incredible.  There was no light anywhere except what they provided and the air was dry and free of dust, smoke, and any other pollution.



Stats:  Day, 121 miles; Trip, 17,816 miles; Year, 23,817 miles; Total, 75,722 miles.

Epic Ride, Day 58:

I woke up, visited with Fred some more, got a chance to go into his boathouse, and rode south back to North Cape to head west on the Cabot Trail.

More magnificent scenery, some delicious twisty bits and more steep climbs and descents.  After riding though mountains, I ate a very late breakfast at Pleasant Bay, and saw more great ocean views:



I rode through the Park, down to Cheticamp, and continued south along the coast road.


Crossing the CANSO Causeway, I saw this big ship loading either coal or some other kind of ore.


I had planned on riding to New Glascow to be poised for catching the ferry to Prince Edward Island today.  But a fellow motorcyclist told me that it was forecast to rain all day today and I decided I didn’t want to see PEI in the rain.  And to further sabatoge my plan, there weren’t any motel rooms in New Glascow.  A helpful clerk at the Travelodge called ahead to the Super 8 here in Truro, which bills itself as the “Hub of Nova Scotia.”  It must be — this is the 3rd time I’ve been here in two weeks.

That turned out to work well for me, since the Empire Theatre is a block away and I’m about to go see “The Butler,” a film Joanne told me I had to see.  And there’s a good restaurant next to the theatre plus laundry facilities here in the motel.

So, tomorrow:  Prince Edward Island by ferry to leave by the bridge and head for Maine.

Stats:  Day, 351 miles; Trip, 18,167 miles; Year, 24,168 miles; Total, 76,026 miles.

Categories: Uncategorized | 8 Comments

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8 thoughts on “The Cabot Trail

  1. Connie Long

    What a great rtreat of a day. I can smell the water and see the stars through your words Phil. Yes, Joanne, is right, you must see The Butler. You will shed some tears because of your own love of history and this perspective. I am thoroughly enjoying your blogs. Thanks so much for sharing. Connie

  2. Ken Harrell

    Phil, Great blog on the Cape Bretton part of your trip and wonderful pictures too. I was so impressed on my bike ride up there in 1997, with how clean everything was and it looks to be just as clean today too. When I was there, I took my group of four bikes up to Mt Washington and we did get to ride up there in mostly fog….made riding up Mt Evans seem like a flat-lands ride by comparison. We also stayed the night in Truro, trying to time getting a good look at the big tide thing in the Bay of Fundy, but it wasn’t really much of a show when we were there. I also wanted to ride back home by coming across Canada, but several of the guys with me needed to get back, so we rode to north-Boston and had North-American Van Lines ship the bikes back and we took commercial flights home…not nearly as scenic.

    Your trip has been fascinating to follow….good writing with interesting history details. Your slower pace after the 4-corners part of your trip has been fun with the good details.

    That reform school that you mentioned in your blog, from your youth in Florida was in the news this week… probably heard, but they are finding buried bodies there this last week…grim for sure.


  3. Klint Stewart

    Hey brother, you are having way too much fun. Why don’t you come back via the flat lands and we will ride!

  4. Klint Stewart

    Well hey, if you don’t that’s fine. I’ve been too busy to get much riding in here as of late and I was looking for an excuse. 🙂

  5. Klint Stewart

    lost my to-do list yesterday, I joked with the kids maybe that was a sign I wasn’t suppose to work today and ride motorcycle instead! Found it this morning. 😦

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