Tuesday, 1 August 2017

On getting to Nova Scotia

For various reasons, the breakfast portion of the Rosedale Manor B&B happens across the lift bridge at Philip's Café. This is good in that their breakfast menu is much more interesting than that of the other Newfoundland B&Bs I have experienced. Indeed, Linda confided to me that before deciding on how they would run Rosedale Manor, they had tried a number of other B&Bs and got fed up with bacon and eggs. I opted for a breakfast sandwich which included eggs, peppers, green onions and cheese on their homemade bread. I also tried some of their wonderful molasses raisin bread made into toast. The "downside" was that I bought a couple of books as well as their T-shirt!

Over breakfast, Linda suggested I visit Argentia in the morning. I replied that I planned to do it the afternoon as I didn't want to face the hill more than I wanted, all due respect. I left three of my bags at the Café as I would be returning there for lunch. 

I visited the O'Reilly Museum which is in lovely Edwardian home built a lawyer and magistrate named O'Reilly. While the building was obviously well built and intended to convey that owner was a man of means, it eventually struck me as rather small for a family that eventually had eight children! While the presentation was good, the designers of the museum had slipped up in a few cases. The box of Twinnings tea should have rotated 90 degrees to hide the UPC barcode. Also, the Readers' Digest Condensed book didn't seem right. Also the guide was poorly informed about bits of local history. There was a bailiff's staff presented by George III to Placentia and later used by his son, William, Duke of Clarence and later William IV, when he was in Placentia. However, the guide seemed to think he had governed the area for twenty years! Also, when I asked about why the North side of Placentia was called Jerseyside (downtown being Townside), he didn't know. (I later saw a display explaining it was in memory of the fair number of merchants from Jersey who had done business in Placentia at one point.) Another interesting fact was that the Newfoundland playwright Thomas Cahill had lived there as a child.

After lunch at Philip's Café where I witnessed Philip trying to cox crows to come closer (Philip is a crow enthusiast) I climbed the hill and somehow missed seeing the touristy bits of Argentia, if there are any. In the ferry terminal there was a display recounting the "American Invasion" in early 1941 when they arrived to set up a naval base, the locals having been kicked out by the government of Newfoundland. One of better lines was that the locals couldn't figure out why the Yanks were in such a hurry to build given they had the place for 99 years. Unfortunately, the display only covered the war years, the Americans having stayed until the 1990s.

The Atlantic Vision was built for the Scotland to Belgium ferry run and thus was doubtless made redundant by Ryanair and EasyJet. It was switched to runs in the Baltic involving Estonia I believe before coming to Marine Atlantic. This probably explains the multiplicity of languages on some of the signage. As well, the multiple users may be partly responsible for the slightly confusing layout of the ship. I know I got a bit lost, though that was partly my not having a cabin for the overnight trip. I eventually found a cabin of reclining "air chairs" relatively aft of the ship and laid claim to one.

I was uptight about getting enough sleep so as to bike to the Cabot Trail on the morrow and but wasn't that concerned about sea sickness. However, the motion of the ship started getting to me. Despite taking a Gravol pill, at supper time I found the sight of food was making me ill. I am serious: I went into the buffet, served myself some salad, took a very small bite and then sat there staring at it for five or ten minutes before screwing up the courage to explain the situation to a crew member and get a refund. Going back to the air chair, armed with a bottle of ginger ale, I started to feel queasy. I made my way to an outside deck where I cast my accounts. It was some minutes before I returned to "my" area and cleaned myself up in the adjoining washroom. I sat down in the chair in my MEC equatorial sleeping bag and reclined it. I was surprised when I woke up some hours later. It seemed that even if I wasn't going to be able to eat, I would be able to sleep. So I did.

(I don't think the seas were particularly rough. Indeed, I think that stress might have been a factor. However, I think I will keep this in mind for future adventures.)

Getting off the ferry in North Sydney seemed needlessly long and convoluted. What is more, it seems that someone doesn't want people getting off a ferry from Newfoundland to go straight into North Sydney. At least not without some noticeable and annoying detours. This is significant as my game plan was to find a dry land breakfast and a post office in North Sydney. The point of the latter was to send home a parcel containing the equatorial sleep bag and other bits no longer wanted on voyage. I found a Shoppers' Drug Mart which as per usual included a Canada Post outlet where I bought a box. I returned to the bike and went through my bags fairly ruthlessly. Despite breakfast, I still wasn't 100%. I am afraid I was a bit impolite to an old man with a thick Cape Breton accent who wanted to talk about the motel on the top of hill that used to be owned by Koreans. I am not a great organizer and as this was a decision point, I really didn't have the brains to spare.

I think it was around 10:30 when I set off. The day was sunny and somewhat hot. The wind was chaotic and I found that it alternated being a help or a hindrance. The highly settled lands near North Sydney gave way to forests. After crossing a bridge over Great Bras D'Or, I was greeted by a sign saying I was facing Kelly's Mountain and a gain of 240 m in 7 km! I took a picture of the sign then settled in for the grind. When I got to the top, there was a sign saying I had done it. So I took a picture of it. I then had the notion to look at the times the pictures had been taken. The climb had taken me forty minutes.

Once on the other side, I turned off for Englishtown where I visited the Giant MacAskill Museum and caught a very short ferry ride resulting in a 20+ km short cut. I wasn't the only cyclist to use it as I passed a couple going the other way.

And so I came to the Cabot Trail. I wasn't sure what I expected from this section but it sure was this. The region seems to have gone through depopulation leaving hamlets that are little more than names on a map and forlorn churches some of which have found new life housing arts and craft stores which seem to be the major form of commerce in these parts. I can't quite get my head around the sheer number of them compared to the few places to eat (three) and the single gas station which claims to be a general store but isn't really that I have seen in the thirty or so kilometres I have seen of the trail. It feels weird. Sort of like all the antique stores on Notre-Dame East of Atwater. (One of eateries was the Dancing Moose Café where I got some ice cream.)


What is also weird is that I inadvertently dodged a huge bullet today having managed more or less by accident to secure lodgings at just about the last place before the hill at Cape Smokey without knowing it! I would have been wreck if I'd had to do it this afternoon!

I have just had the thought that last time I arrived in Nova Scotia it was also by bike.

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