Friday, 15 August 2008

On the road taken

After much agonizing and heart searching, I ended choosing to take my originally planned route via Iona and route 223. This despite Victor Chislom's suggestion of going via Baddeck (see the comments on the last entry.)

I think I made the right decision as yesterday was a blast. The road from West Bay to Marble Mountain was a blast partly as it was about the first time on this trip when I have had the sea (or in this case Bras d'Or Lake) on my right (i.e. my side of the road). More importantly, I was in the zone on that road. I was going like a bomb up and down the hills. There may have been a magnetic hill effect at one point as I was going up (I thought) a slight hill and feeling good about my speed. I looked down to see that I was doing about 34 km/h! I was doing bloody good. I am feeling a bit tired but also very fit. I rock on a bike.

Marble Mountain was a beautiful spot. Unfortunately, not too long after that, the road degenerated to a dirt surface that wasn't as smooth. It was, however, fairly level so the biking wasn't too bad. The route took me through Orangedale where I stopped to see the surprisingly great railway museum. The place wasn't large, nor did it have that much in the way of rolling stock. However, it had a large number of railway station artifacts on hand, including a railway station building. It was obviously a labour of love of the old railway hand who is likely the driving force behind it. I can only hope that someone picks up the yoke when he dies, or else the place is likely to fade into nothing as it is well off the beaten path.

I stopped for the day in Iona. There I visited the Highland Village. One of the most interesting parts of it was to see a reproduction of a Highland "black house" circa 1790. The building might well be described as a miserable, sod roofed, stone walled hovel. I was struck by the contrast of this peasant building with the fine houses of Edinburgh that David Hume, Adam Smith and William Robertson would have been living in roughly the same time period. (To those who don't know, I wrote a master's dissertation on the historians (Hume and Robertson at the foremost) in Edinburgh in rough period 1740-1800.)

I think that if my parents are ever in this part of the world, they should make a stop at the Highland Village. My mother (nee Mactaggart) would be interested in the Scottish history whereas my father would be fascinated by all the woodworking tools.

It began to rain near the end of my visit to the Highland Village, but my day was done so it didn't signify. There was something of a storm overnight but the day looks like it will be perfect. As I type this, I am looking out at the Barra Straits and mostly sunny skies.

I referred to Victor Chilsom earlier. He is a cyclist whom I believe is currently living in Montreal but is from these parts. It took a while to register but since I been in cycling in Nova Scotia, I have noticed a number of signs featuring the name Chilsom, including a road marked with intended irony "The Chilsom Trail". Eventually, I put two and two together and realised that it would appear there are a number of Chilsoms in the area.

I have booked passage on the 10 AM ferry to Port-Aux-Basques tomorrow along with a bed for tonight in a B&B that I believe is run by a Newfoundlander. I should be off to take advantage of the relatively short day today.

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