Week 15: Cape Breton Island (Aug22-28)

This week is going to be awesome!  First off, spending time with Auntie Cecile and her family.  I was back here in Cheticamp 8 years ago as part of the volunteer program Katimavik.  It was so much fun revisiting places and people and to see what has changed.  We spent a little longer than we anticipated because Auntie Cecile was able to take some time off work to be with us!

 

Aug 22 – 0km Sleeping in (this would be a theme this week!), we woke up to the smells of Auntie Cecile’s famous raisin bread!  She made 60 buns and we would eat most of them this week eventually.  Cecile wanted to bring us whale watching so we booked it for the 24th as she had a whole day off.  We went to the church to see the awesome Paulangus!  He retired from working at the nursing home and was now the caretaker of the church.  He also was one of the lead people in organizing the Katimavik program in Cheticamp.  We then went to the nursing home I volunteered for during my time and saw all the staff and residents who were still there.  Time really flies!  We then went around to the old Katimavik house (it’s now a B&B) and then to 106.1 CJFM radio station!  Auntie Cecile had reached out and gotten me a live on-air interview with them!  On the way home, we saw these 2 girls cycling towards the Cabot Trail and we would run into them again at dinner at La Gabriele!  Small world.  They were from Montreal and were doing the Halifax to Cabot Trail loop.  Maybe we will see them again!

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RAISIN BREAD!

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surprising Paulangus at the church

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with the staff at Foyer Pere Fiset

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a burning bush planted by the Katimavik team in the courtyard

interview with Daniel Aucoin at 106.1FM

interview with Daniel Aucoin at 106.1FM

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dinner at La Gabriele with Auntie Cecile, Lindsay, Kara and Paulangus

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Aug 23 – 0km Today was a all-home maintenance day.  Lucky too, cause it was really rainy and windy!  Laundry, bike tune-ups, and catching up with Uncle Dan (oh and their young new pug Gus!!).

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the view from our room

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Uncle Dan and Gus watching the family drive off to work

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eating breakfast with Gus

 

Aug 24 – 0km Auntie Cecile went out early to pick berries (oh yes, she’s been doing that almost every day and the wild berries here are AMAZING) and came back with goodies from The Dancing Goat bakery.  Best scones and sandwiches!  We also got some cookies for the road ahead :)
In the afternoon we went on the whale watching boat ride.  Oh man, we all got quite seasick as the seas were rough.  Did manage to see a seal and a family of pilot whales though!  We capped off the evening with some homemade seafood chowder and dessert!  While going through albums of old photos we remembered Uncle Dan getting Paulangus with his chocolate covered hands all over his white shirt many year ago.  Paulangus would get him back this evening though with a pie to the face!  Hahaha!  Lots of laughs, photo taking and good food to end off our time here.

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Pilot whales!

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sitting down for dinner

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with the Boisverts!

looking over old Katimavik photos

looking over old Katimavik photos

recreating an 8 year old photo!

recreating an 8 year old photo!

sweet revenge!

Sweet revenge!

 

Aug 25 – 78km to Big Intervale Campsite.  Today is the day we’ve been psyching ourselves up over since we got to Cape Breton.  1100m of climbing and 2 mountains later, we were doing much better than we thought we would have!  The downhills after cresting the mountains (French and North) were very welcome.  However, North Mountain was so hard, we had to stop almost 10 times going up.  Hardest hill of the trip!  We coasted down into a small campsite, set up shop before dark and got a good amount of sleep as there wasn’t more to do after the sun went down.

goodbye Cheticamp!

goodbye Cheticamp!

entering the park

entering the park

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first look back at our climbing!

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that is HARD

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looking down on Pleasant Bay, NS

still climbing North Mountain, maybe the hardest climb all trip!

still climbing North Mountain, maybe the hardest climb all trip!

 

Aug 26 – 57km to Ingonish Beach Campground.  In the morning, while packing up and setting up, we were approached by our neighbours asking about our trip and setup.  We ended up sharing cookies and coffee for the morning and had a nice chat over breakfast.  They asked us if we’d like to hop in their car for 2km and go see a nearby waterfall.  We would not have biked down this trail otherwise so we said yes!  Thanks Francois and Marianne!
Today’s riding was mild compared to yesterday, but still some hard hard hills.  We took the scenic Coastal Route at South Harbour, as it followed the coast, while the main Cabot Trail was more inland.  The road was super quiet, and so scenic.  We were right by the Atlantic Ocean!  We didn’t touch it though, saving that for St John’s.  Stopped for an early dinner at 4PM in Ingonish as that was the last town before our night’s destination.  It was nice being the only people in the restaurant for awhile.  We finished the day at one of the largest campsites in the national park and had a nice long (hot!) shower and meal.

packing up at Big Intervale

packing up at Big Intervale

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Beulach Ban Falls

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seeing the Atlantic Ocean taking the coastal scenic detour

finishing the coastal detour

finishing the coastal detour

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entering Ingonish and seeing…a bike lane?!?!

 

Aug 27 – 95km to North Sydney, NS.  Today was going to be an easy day, but as the day progressed, we gutted it out and made some serious distance!  We didn’t leave the campsite until 1230, maybe went 10 minutes and stopped for lunch!  We had one last climb up Smokey Mountain but a huge epic descent down afterwards.  Might be the prettiest descent of Cape Breton!  It was fast going on rolling hills all the way to past Breton Cove when we ran into it must’ve been 10km of construction!  Bumpy roads with the pavement stripped off made for really really slow going.  About midway, we saw a ton of cars and motocycles pulled over on both sides of the road.  We stopped and were able to catch the reason why – there was a moose in the lake!  She walked into woods before we could get our cameras out.  That pretty much ticks off all the boxes of wildlife I expected to see in Canada!  Elliot the moose, is on the loose!
We took Route 312 down to the Englishtown ferry, it was free for cyclists and only crosses 300m!  Pretty funny but it saved us 10+km.  After another short food break, we made our way back onto the Trans Canada Highway.  Most of it was pretty nice save for the occasional rumble strip that appeared out of nowhere.  One long gradual climb up Kelly Mountain later, and we were in sight of North Sydney!  We got into the ferry terminal just after sunset and the staff had no problem with us staying until our departure tomorrow.  We didn’t want to rush it on the 28th in the event we had media or had to get supplies before the departure.  It’s awesome here with wifi, security, electricity, clean washrooms…comparable to an airport but empty!

leaving Cape Breton Highlands Nat'l Park and the end of the bike lane :(

leaving Cape Breton Highlands Nat’l Park and the end of the bike lane :(

which is English and which is Celtic?

which is English and which is Celtic?

on a spit approaching the Englishtown ferry

on a spit approaching the Englishtown ferry

loading up for the 1 minute ride across

loading up for the 1 minute ride across

Seal Island Bridge, officially leaving Cape Breton Island

Seal Island Bridge, officially leaving Cape Breton Island

inside the ferry terminal

inside the ferry terminal

 

Aug 28 – 0km Around noon, I got a call from the Atlantic CTV affiliate and had an interview outside the ferry terminal!  The ferry leaves at 5:30pm, taking us to our last province and time zone: NEWFOUNDLAND!  We got on first along with the motorcycles and found a place to sit for the ride.  I went to the purser’s desk to ask about having a room. A nice lady (Sarah) told me they’d call me if there was any openings, but I’d be on a waiting list.  Before I halfway back to my seating area, there was an announcement calling my name! I went up to the desk and told them I wanted the room, didn’t need anything big, and about the cause, before I was even finished, Judy the lady in charge, had already said “You’re gonna make me cry. You’ve got the room, and I’m adding the buffets for you too!” O.O!  I wasn’t able to thank them enough for this amazing 16 hours on the ship (though 10+ hours was sleep to energize for the final stretch of the tour!

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with Ryan Macdonald of CTV Atlantic

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going into the belly of the ferry

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Judy (right) and Sarah (left) on the ferry! Thank you again, ladies!

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The snack bar played CTV just for me! There I am!

 

Weekly Total: 230km

Grand Total: 7445km

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