Start: August 12th, 2007 7:30AM
Surprise, surprise...we slept in. We were supposed to be up by 6:30AM, but as usual we were running a little behind.
We were staying at my parents place, which was already full due to visiting relatives. This gave us a head start, seeing as Sussex is on the way to Nova Scotia for us.
Due to conflicting schedules, this was going to be a short trip. That meant that we could pack light. A two day trip only required a couple of changes of clothes, rain gear (one never knows), snacks, spare helmets (the shorties for the scenic ride), and a few other odds and ends. The saddle bags were only half full and we had the usual piece of luggage bungied to the rear rack.
We had to forego breakfast and get on the road as soon as possible. It's not that we had a schedule to adhear to or anything, it's just that we wanted to travel in as much daylight as possible when we hit the Cabot Trail.
We did hop into Salibury Big Stop for a bite to eat. One can only go so far on an empty stomach.
Taking the highway for a trip doesn't give you much to write about. The only problem we had was a slight turn around in the Moncton area which cost us about another 45 minutes.
The next long stop we made was at the Cobequid Pass Toll Plaza in Nova Scotia. It kind of irked me that a motorcycle has to pay the same toll charge as a car. With a little investigation I found out that bikes are grouped together with cars when figuring the amount of traffic through the toll plaza. Four dollars isn't much, but considering a motorcycle has less of an impact on a highway then a car does, it doesn't seem quite fair.
After that we had to make a short detour into Springhill, NS to make sure we didn't run out of gas. I realized that we were only getting around 186 Km to the reserve tank due to the wind and load. With that fill up and a check in call to mom and dad, we were off again.
At this point, things are pretty boring. It's just straight shots to gas stations for a break and fuel. The next one was at Westville, NS just south of Pictou. You know the highway ride was boring when you reflect on it and can't remember anything interesting to write.
The last gas stop before Cape Breton was at Auld's Cove, NS. A cramped little Irving Big stop that gave us a chance to rest, eat and snap some pictures. At this point we could look across the water and see Cape Breton. It's separated from the mainland by a strait (spanned by a cause way) that runs between St. Georges Bay and Chedabucto Bay.
Once our belly's were full we were mounted and running again. Within a few minutes we were across the cause way and rolling through Cape Breton.
Heading into Cape Breton is like heading into a different country, geography wise. It actually reminds me of my hometown except for all the surrounding ocean. The landscape is hilly and the best road follows the coast line giving you an incredible view.
Our view was particularly great due to the fact that we were on two wheels and the sun was slowly going down. We got to experience the sunset first hand.
We made a quick stop at Inverness, NS so Joey could double check directions and fuel up locations. With that figured out we hung around a bit to take some pictures, relax and stretch.
We quickly found out that some of the instructions we got were a little off. As we rode into a small town I noticed this:
Last Gas for 140km
I didn't have 140km left in the tank, so I figured it would be good to pull into...the abandoned gas station. One of the few things that will make me panic when driving is running out of gas. Mainly because I completely blame it on myself for being stupid and stranding me and whoever is with me.
It turns out it didn't say "Last Gas", but said "Last Esso". Joey figured there had to be another gas station so we puttered on with me using downhill runs to our advantage.
Sure enough, a little while later, we rode into Chéticamp and found a station. In my haste, Selene got an extra special treat. I accidently filled her up with supreme which was more then a little expensive. Ah well, she deserved it...I just hoped that she liked it.
With the fill up out of the way we motored on and before long we entered Cape Breton Highlands National Park. This is where things got interesting, fun and seriously picturesque.
As soon as you enter the park you are greeted with this sight:
And afterwards you are not let down. This was easily one of the most gorgeous rides I have ever done. For the entire ride you are skimming the coast, flowing up and down hills of green and gold, and dragging pegs on roads that litterally switch back on themselves. At one point I wasn't sure if Joey's squeals were of delight or fear as we continually used pegs for brakes while doing the slalom downhill.
It was fantastic and we wanted more, but the sun had set and we had quite a distance to go.
It was getting chilly which meant it was time to gear up a little more. We pulled over to stretch, do a map check and dig out my gloves and goggles. The sun was almost completely below the horizon and we had several hours to go. I was only worried about one thing...gas...and that worry would become a problem soon.
We were on the home stretch and gunning it. We passed a moose grazing on the side of the road. I smiled and realized that I probably could have reached out and touched him. Then I realized I should probably slow down...not that speed would save us in the case of hitting a moose. Looking in my mirrors I could see all the traffic coming to an abrupt halt as they all wanted to see the moose.
Another set of twisties popped in front of us as we exited the park yet again. Taking these in the dark was rather surreal. All you could see was the yellow and white lines of the road which glowed and twisted like some ghostly snake. We kept catching up to a car that was taking the road much slower then we were. I think they got tired of us because they pulled over when there was a straight away.
On to the gas issue.
We rolled into Ingonish well after dark and pulled into a very empty and very closed gas station. All this with only about 40Kms left in my tank. Considering that Sydney was around 125Km away from Ingonish, it was obvious we were screwed. Initiate panic mode and a few choice words.
We traveled up the road a bit to see what we could see and discovered a police station...that was empty. No help there. There was, however, a restaurant across the way which was opened and full of people. Joey went inside to inquire, she is more of a people person then I am.
She finds out that one of the girls working there knows the people that own the gas station. Within seconds she is on the phone asking if they can open up to give us gas. The only real downside was being charged a 15 dollar service fee for having him do that. Let's see...lose 15 bucks for gas or 85 bucks on the hotel room. Can you guess which way we went?
With Selene filled up and new directions in our heads, we were on our way again.
It was a straight shot this time, Sydney or bust. We were glad to see that the ferry, which would cut considerable time off our journey, was operating 24 hours. That would have to be one heck of a boring job. I have to say that he was very friendly though. We chatted about the evening and our destination for a bit before we paid him and went on our way.
Within an hour, the city was well in site.
Sidebar: and Joey will hate me for this one. Earlier that day Joey said, "Now, you will see a lot of signs for Sydney. Sydney Mines, North Sydney... Just follow the one for Sydney and we will be fine." Okay, nothing to it. As we entered Sydney I noticed a sign for our hotel which said the exit we needed. It wouldn't be for some time, but it was easy enough to follow the highway. Minutes later Joey is tapping my arm to pull off the highway on an exit for North Sydney. Do you see a problem here? She saw a sign for King Street, which led into North Sydney. Unfortunately our hotel was on King Road...in Sydney.
With the little mishap out of the way, we finally made it to our hotel. We were exhausted, relieved and ecstatic. It had been a wonderful ride with great weather and now we were at a big comfortable hotel. They were kind enough to let me park the bike in front of the hotel lobby doors so she would be safe. After some exploring a bit we retired to our room to watch a movie and snuggle into our king sized bed.