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 not 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 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.

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