Saturday, 12 August 2017

On a wake-up surprise

Having gone to bed around 10, I got up around 7:15 Maritime time, 6:15 Quebec time. The car attendant was up and about so I asked him where we were vis à vis the schedule. We were only a half hour late, and just about pull into Ste-Foy, i.e. Quebec City. Somehow, I didn't twig to the full implications of this. Anyway, I went back to the Park car to get coffee and a better view.

As I sat down, I wondered idly about that big bridge we were headed for. Then the penny dropped: We would be stopping in Ste-Foy which is on the North Shore of the St-Lawrence, not Lévis on the South Shore. This meant the train was going to cross the Pont de Québec, still the World's longest cantilever bridge after about a hundred years!

And it did with me in the dome. 

Unfortunately, it had been raining so there was water on the windows, so the photos weren't as good.

Friday, 11 August 2017

On yesterday and today

I left the "Pedaler's Retreat B&B" a bit later than desired as I fell into a conversation with one of our hosts and a fellow guest (an man of about 60). He was from Washington, D.C. I gathered he was  sort of in the market to acquire a cottage or land for a cottage on the coast. I commented that I had seen a sign in German advertising real estate services. He mock grumbled that Europeans shouldn't be buying up Nova Scotian waterfront. They should leave it for Americans to buy! He also grumbled about he wished he had a shotgun to deal with the horseflies. I refrained from pointing out that the second amendment to the American Constitution didn't apply to Canada.

As expected, the day was sunny and warm, bordering on hot with a wind that was contrary. I was faced with somewhat contradictory information about the distance to Dartmouth owing to the size of Dartmouth (it isn't a point target) and the fact there was two routes. I managed to navigate being me. I found the day particularly hot and dry. Strangely, I don't recall a "Welcome to Dartmouth" sign, unlike the countless such signs in evidence for the many Nova Scotian hamlets I passed through.

I arrived at Johana's house a bit earlier than expected. There was a note on the door saying she was out getting milk but that I should go in the back. I maneuvered the bike into the backyard, lent it against the deck and went in. It was very nice and cool inside. I was pondering which chair I could sit in given my sweaty state, when Johana arrived.

Johana is an old family friend of my parents. She bid me make myself at the home. I showered and put a load in the laundry. We chatted until the load was done. I hung it out to dry then headed upstairs for a toes-up. 

Half an hour later, the phone rang. It was Philip seeking to confirm and coordinate supper. This was agreed as sushi which is a favourite of Dominique and company. Johana drove the two of us to the restaurant where Philip and the others were waiting. I let Philip and Dominique do the ordering. I think we had a merry time. As previously blogged, by the time I got backed to Johana's, I was too tired to blog.

My sleep was odd. I woke up a couple of times thinking that I had a ferry to catch and another time woke up unsure where I was. The latter is a consequence of sleeping in a number of beds in the last three weeks. 

I had breakfast with Johana who started to apologize that she didn't have a bike rack so she couldn't drive me to the station. I happily said it was nothing as I thought it would easier for me to bike it than to wrestle the bike into a car. Given that it was a bright sunny morning, it would also be more fun for me.

So after bidding my adieus, I rolled down to the ferry terminal. I rode across Halifax Harbour. It was a shade early for the waterfront, so it wasn't packed. I moseyed along to the train station. I was waiting in line to pay for the bike when Philip and Family arrived. 

In due course, we boarded and, once the train left, had lunch. I think Via Rail has redone the dining cars on the Ocean since my last ride as it seemed more genteel than before. Via Rail has added a stainless-steel Park car, formerly used on the Canadian. Owning to the difference between the couplings of the Renaissance cars and the Park car ("Tremblant Park" btw) there a special transition car which is largely empty aside from some equipment lockers and a display of flags from the Atlantic Provinces, Quebec and Acadia. I feel Via Rail could put the space to better use, such as a play area for toddlers.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

On my current status

I have safely arrived in Halifax, but I have too much sun and sushi today to care to write more. (Oh, the hardship. ;-) )

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

In the Pedaler's Retreat

Well, I am tired. It has been a long day, thankfully very sunny though not hot thanks to the proximity of the Ocean. Unfortunately, the wind was largely contrary though not that strong. Also an impediment was the presence of too many short hills. 

Furthermore, my front shifter was being balky. At times, it took a lot of force to shift up to a larger ring. My theory is that the mechanism at the ring got a bit rusty in the rain yesterday. I stopped to apply a little oil only to find that my travel bottle of bike oil had leaked its little remaining contents into its ziplock baggie. It was only a Sheet Harbour that I found some reasonably suitable oil. The mechanism had improved since the morning, but it is still a bit of a bother. Thankfully, I reach Halifax tomorrow. The balky shifter makes it hard to shift between ranges and thus discourages shifting to optimum gear. 

Shortly after applying oil in Sheet Harbour, I got an email from the motel in Sherbrooke saying I had left my rain jacket behind. I had hung it up to dry last night on a coat hanger which was located in an odd corner. I remember saying to myself last night: "That's a poor spot." Thankfully, good weather is in the forecast. Consequently, I phoned the Motel (The Sherbrooke Village Inn), and negotiated with them about mailing it to Montreal.

Apart from that the day went quite well. Dominique and Désirée joined me for breakfast at the Beanie Bistro where Dominique got her fix of decaf espresso. Apparently, she is devoted to it.

Not too long after leaving Sherbrooke, I saw a bird of prey perched on a tree. I stopped to make a proper ID using binoculars. However, before I could bring them to bear, the bird settled the issue by taking wing and in doing so revealing the distinctive wings of an osprey.

While there wasn't as much ocean views as one might wish, the road was quite pretty and was in good shape. As usual, the drivers are very courteous. I hope it won't be too hard tho adjust when I go into work on Monday! Of course, there was this white Chrysler 300 which went by yelling something at me and making gestures. A rented car by the look of it. Probably Quebec drivers.*

I got to Sheet Harbour a little before 3. As supper was going to be what I brought with me, I did a little grocery shopping, then stopped at The Henley House Pub ( for a smaller glass of craft beer. I chose a bitter. It hit the spot with a nice combination of cool refreshing drinkability, a nice level of bitterness and lots of flavour. I don't want sound too much like Fil with his somewhat overly broad dismissive attitude towards Imperial Pale Ales (or IPAs) but at times I do find some IPAs are overpowering. (I also regret the fact that North American craft beers are mostly over 5% alcohol. The Brits have many delicious beers below 5%.) 
As I sipped my beer (and ice water). I noticed a hamburger sitting on a plate on the bar. I idly wondered what it was there for. It turned out to be for a man called Brad Atkinson. His daughter, Rebecca, ran the brewery responsible for the beer which has the somewhat ironic name "Sober Island Brewing Company." There is an actual "Sober Island" connected to the company, but it does seem a shade contrived. ;-) The whole operation seems to be a very family business as the young lady who served me was another daughter. 

Oh, yes. The hamburger. I overheard Brad say that it featured watermelon. He said it was good, but count me with the skeptics. ;-) 

Brad himself chatted with me and seems like a nice guy. I wish him and his daughters the best of luck in their ventures.

I think I should have gone to short sleeves before leaving Sheet Harbour, but then, I was tired and getting a shade incoherent. I biked on and gave the young kid on a dirt bike a tired "Nope", when he asked if wanted to race.

It was a relief to get to the Paddler's Retreat B&B in Tangier. It is an adjunct to a sea-kayaking business. ( It is a low key but very welcoming operation based in a lovely old house on the Ocean. I found one very distinct sign of their understanding of the needs of their guests: the place provides lovely large towels. After several days of mingy motel towels, it was wonderful to dry myself off with a large towel.**

I am now horizontal and relaxed in what I shall refer to as the Pedaler's Retreat.

*It was in fact Philip and Dominique. ;-)

**In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess to feel strongly in favour of large towels, having bought several over the years both for myself and others. I was annoyed when I discovered that my Granny had put the lovely big new bath towel I had given her in the guest bathroom and was using old rough towels for herself.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

On Sherbrooke Village

Today was a full rest day, the first since Placentia. At breakfast at the Beanie Bistro, I talked with a man who thinking about buying a Devinci Tosca for touring. He had noticed Leonardo's brand and wanted know an owner's perspective. I gave him my personal opinion that Devinci is a good brand, reinforced by the fact I own two of them. This led to a discussion of bike touring. 

After doing my laundry in a machine for the first time in weeks, I had intermittent contact with Philip. This led me to book him a room in the only motel in town. 

Afterwards, I went down to Sherbrooke Village. This is a museum village consisting of thirty or so historic buildings, most of which were built on site. Through talking with the interpreters, I formed a picture of the history of Sherbrooke. It had been fairly wealthy town based on lumber, gold mining, farming, ship building and trading. I was surprised to learn that up until about 1940, ships of up to 600 tons called there. After that, they stopping dredging the river. Since then, the town declined to the point that a hefty fraction of it could be used as a heritage village. Many of the buildings showed the wealth of the town.

It is possible to visit the town in late 19th dress. If it hadn't been a wet day, I would have done so. In fact, I regret not doing so. 

I think I found the print shop the most fascinating of the buildings as seeing the tiny fonts used made me wonder at the skill of typesetters. They had several presses, most of them still in use.

I bumped into the man from breakfast. He gave me too much credit for spending my rest day walking around. He would have in bed watching TV. 

I felt I could practically taste, touch and smell the past. I ended up spending about four hours at the village.

Plus another hour getting my picture taken by ambrotype in period dress. Ambrotype is a form of photography developed about 1850. It requires an exposure time of 40 seconds or more, depending on the lighting. It is a delicate process requiring skill at manipulating wet glass plates. The lady was something of a perfectionist as she rejected her first two efforts.

I returned to the motel where Philip and company had checked in. They were happy to have finally left Halifax. We had unknowingly chosen a long weekend for them to arrive in Halifax and they hadn't been able to rent a car until today. Given that they aren'r used to cities, especially as tourists, I got the impression they had some culture shock. However, they did get to see Sidney Crosby and the Stanley Cup go by.

We had supper together, then went for a walk to Sherbrooke Village. This was partly my plan to entice Désirée and Dominique to come back tomorrow when it was open.

It is supposed to be nice tomorrow.

On the Catholic Church in Placentia

For reasons that related to the ferry from Argentia, I never wrote about the Catholic Church in Placentia. I now have the leisure to do so as I wait for the dryer to finish. 

On the outside, the Placentia church appeared like an ordinary white clapboard church. When I went inside, I was surprised by its internal layout. Rather than a conventional longitudinal layout, the altar was located midway up one side and the pews arrayed around it in something like semi circle as adapted for a rectangular room. I'd be willing to bet that it was an alteration of an earlier, more conventional arrangement as the pews seemed fairly new. Part of me wonders at what arguments went on during the decision-making process. There must have been bickering between conservatives and progressives, as well as the input of those with hearing issues.

Monday, 7 August 2017

"...In Sherbrooke now!"

On the grounds that it contains the most things to do on the Eastern coast of Nova Scotia, I chose Sherbrooke for a rest day. It also has the virtue of being referred inaccurately to in Stan Rogers' very well known "Barrett's Privateers". The thing is that "Sherbrooke" only came into use as a place name in North America after Sir John Coape Sherbrooke's success in the War of 1812. Therefore, it is unlikely that someone in 1778 would wish to be in Sherbrooke. At least a Nova Scotian would not. I am not sure if Sherbrooke is a British place name.

I went over to the Authentic Seacoast distillery to pay for my room and had to ask the obvious questions. The answers were respectively, a boy and everyone is doing fine. Incidentally, I just looked up their website ( It seems the organization began when Glynn visited Guysborough on a bike trip and was smitten. From the purple tinted prose, it seems he was a Toronto Bay Street man.

I stopped at the Guysborough Robins Donuts for a sandwich to take along for lunch. It was recently in the news as the RCMP pressed it into service as a dispatch centre the other day when telecommunications broke down all over Atlantic Canada.

After much perusal of maps and Google Maps last night, I decided on a route from Guysborough to Sherbrooke. It took me on South past a set of concrete bridge pillars I believe were intended for the never built Guysborough line. At Lundy, I left the paved road for a short cut on a dirt road. This began with hard packed gravel before I came to a "construction ahead" sign. As it was a civic holiday, I figured no one would be at work. No one was. However, the loose gravel from last week was there making for some careful riding. This eventuality gave way to semi hard dirt strewn with rocks. Manageable, but no relaxing as sometimes the easy route was on the wrong side of the road. Fortunately and predictably, traffic was not an issue. The surface changed to hard packed earth, one of the best dirt surfaces for biking.

I rejoined pavement at New Harbour. A little later, I was stopped by a very good humoured African-Canadian flag man called George. He jokingly warned me I was going too fast as I rolled up to him. He would have let me through just then except he couldn't get through to Loretta his opposite number by radio for several minutes. Eventually, contact was made and I was allowed through. I couldn't quite see why that section was being worked on as it looked fine to me. I gather they were spraying sealant on some centreline cracks. 

A little later, the road surface took a turn for the worse. In addition to cracks, warped surfaces, potholes and general disrepair, it had a lot of spray painted notes that I assumed represented work to be done. I also noticed debris from vegetation clearing operations and began to smell fresh spruce resin. Sure enough, I came across another road construction zone with flag persons guarding two big caterpillar diggers with grinders instead of shovels mulching offending trees and other vegetation into submission.

I suffered a triple disappointment in Goldboro as the Goldboro Interpretive Centre only opened at one on Mondays and as it was barely noon, I wasn't going to wait. I missed out on finding out about the past of Goldboro ("the town built on gold"), having an ice cream cone (today was very sunny) and using their loo. The latter was also why I wasn't going to wait!

I set off again and made the cable ferry across an inlet marked on my road map as Country Harbour with near perfect timing. There was only one other vehicle on the ferry driven by a guy from Halifax who wished he was cycle-touring. 

Once off the ferry and having used the porta-potty provided by the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation, I sat down in the shade of a small building with no obvious function to eat my sandwich. I was interrupted by a loud buzz. I looked up to see a hummingbird staring at me. I couldn't help but think it had been attracted to the bright red of my jersey and sweat cap and was deciding I wasn't a flower. 

I biked on, along the coast, then up the Indian Harbour Valley. Near the end, just past the Nimrod Campground, I saw a coyote cross the road in front of me. 

I turned South through a narrow valley which lead me to Sherbrooke. On the outskirts of town, I stopped at the Salmon Museum. Predictably, yet disappointingly, it was almost entirely about sport salmon fishing in the area with most of the artifacts being fly fishing flies. It was interesting to learn Babe Ruth had been here. Of more real interest was my conversation with the volunteer womaning the desk. We talked about a number of things including the sighting of the coyote. I wasn't the only person who saw it. Somewhat surprisingly, the woman hadn't thought that there were coyotes in the area even though there was a coyote skull on display.

I rolled into Sherbrooke proper and saw a cycle-tourist sitting at a corner with his front wheel off and cardboard sign marked "Halifax". I went over to him in case he was suffering from a mechanical issue that I might be able to help. From his accent, he was Québécois. It seems he had had an accident which had largely spared the bike but had hurt him somewhat. One of his hands was bandaged. His plan was to hitch a ride to Halifax.

We weren't the only cyclists in town as he pointed out a pair of somewhat odd looking bikes across the street leaning against the grocery store. They each had two seats, the one in front was recumbent whilst the rear was more or less standard. They had bags for touring. According to the wounded cyclist, they were owned by a German couple traveling with their two young children. When I went into the store, I saw the couple shopping but didn't say anything to them on the grounds that they were clearly trying to get a good bit of serious grocery shopping done before their offspring broke something important and/or expensive. ;-) I am being a little facetious here, but their two children (both boys I think) aged between 4 and 8 or so were playing a tag-like game in the aisles. 

It has been a good day on the whole.