Thursday, July 28, 2011

Nova Scotia Day 5 - Evangeline Trail

Day 5 - It rained really hard the previous night and there was a threat of rain for day 5, but we lucked out...just clouds and hot muggy weather. Like other days, we got an early morning start for the Evangeline Trail and the Annapolis Valley. The trail follows Nova Scotia Route 1 and is very country, apple orchards and the Fundy Basin. Our afternoon destination was Digby, Nova Scotia and the Princess of Acadia Ferry. From there we would would cross the Bay of Fundy and make the journey home. Total distance for the day - 415 kilometers, this includes the three hour ferry crossing from Digby to Saint John.

The ride from Halifax to Windsor along Route 1 was quite enjoyable as there was very little traffic. We stopped in Windsor for a coffee and a quick bite to eat and then proceeded through the rest of the Annapolis Valley. Our next stop was at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. Acadia University is well recognized for academic excellence, among other things.

Zal on the steps at Acadia University

After a short stop we made our way through the rest of the Annapolis was a beautiful ride through several small communities. It brought back many memories as I lived in this region as a teenager. Next stop was the Town of Annapolis Royal. This is another must stop location as the town is rich in history and views the Fundy Basin.

One of the gems of this community is Fort Anne, one of Canada's historic sites. "Fort Anne National Historic Site of Canada is Canada's oldest - a present day reminder of a time when conflict between Europe's empire builders was acted out on the shores of the Annapolis River. It offers a sweeping view of the beautiful Annapolis Basin from the centre of Annapolis Royal. Museum exhibits highlight the history of the fort." (Parks Canada)

Fort Anne

Defending the Fundy Basin

The Fundy Basin

Our final destination of the day was next, Digby, NS. We jumped on the bikes and made the thirty minute ride from Annapolis Royal to Digby. We were a bit pressed for time as we were scheduled for the 4 o'clock ferry crossing and we wanted to ensure that we had time for a feed of world famous "Digby Scallops"!

Once in Digby, we went downtown to the waterfront in search of the infamous Digby Scallop!
Digby Waterfront

We found the scallops that we were looking for and ordered take out as we had to get to the ferry terminal. Once at the ferry terminal we had the chance to enjoy our meal, we ate from the back of Zal's motorcycle trailer.

After finishing our scallops, we loaded the Princess of Acadia for the three hour crossing. It was a foggy sail across the Bay of Fundy and visibility was limited.

The three hour crossing was uneventful and when we arrived in Saint John, Luc and I said good-bye to Zal and set out on our way back to Fredericton. We had a great ride home, there was very little traffic and we arrived home just before dark.

Like last year, this was a great 5 day road trip and you could not find better guys to ride with! Luc and Zal are very easy going and we all have similar interests! I can't wait until next year's trip...destination to be determined!

Ride safe!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Nova Scotia Day 4 - Halifax

Day 4 ended up being our shortest ride...153 kilometers, from New Glasgow, NS to Halifax, NS. Will explain why in a bit...

However it was not without adventure! We noticed a short way into the ride that Zal lost his riding lights, signal lights and brake lights. We stopped in Truro, NS for fuel and decided we were going to get to the bottom of Zal's electrical problem. First we pulled the side panel off the fairing of Zal's FJR 1300 and checked the fuse panel.

Next, we unhooked the trailer and checked the lights on Zal's bike, they worked so we knew it was an electrical issue between the trailer and the bike. Zal pulled the cover off the trailer wiring connector to discover a wire had worked itself free.

While Zal was fixing the wiring issue, he told us that he had dropped a small set screw on the ground, so Luc and I got on our hands and knees for the search. After a bit, we found the set screw.

It took the better part of an hour to fix Zal's wiring issue and then we were back on the road headed towards Halifax, Dartmouth actually. Our first stop in Dartmouth was the local Yamaha/Honda/Suzuki dealer Pro Cycle Limited. Luc and I are interested in purchasing communicators and we wanted to see what they had in stock. Unfortunately, there was nothing in stock.

Before leaving the motorcycle dealer, we had to decide where to ride to for the afternoon. Initially, we were going to ride to Peggy's Cove, but we opted to play tourist instead. We found accommodations, parked the bikes, changed into shorts and were tourists.

We caught the ferry from Dartmouth to the Halifax waterfront and found a good pub for lunch. Halifax is the largest city in Nova Scotia and the commercial hub of the region. It is also home to a large Canadian Naval Base.

Halifax-Dartmouth Ferry

Angus L. MacDonald Bridge

Halifax Waterfront

Once at the Halifax Waterfront, we stopped to watch some glass blowers demonstrating their trade...very cool!

We spent some time touring the waterfront and ended up at the Split Crow Pub, a place that I frequented when I worked the summer in Halifax in the early 80's...still a great place! Along the way, we ran into this guy!

After a few hours at the Split Crow, we met up with friends of Luc and went out to dinner, a nice way to finish off the evening. It was another great day and the three of us came to consensus that it was a great way to spend the day, relaxing and enjoying good company! Oh ya, we got caught in a huge thunderstorm and downpour on the way back to the hotel!

Next, day 5...the Evangeline Trail and the Annapolis Valley!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Nova Scotia Day 3 - Fortress of Louisbourg

Day 3 started off very relaxed as we only had a short ride from Sydney, NS to the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site. We had a big breakfast and Zal treated with his winnings from the Casino the evening before...thanks Zalo! The ride from Sydney to Louisbourg only took 30 minutes or so and the road was very good. On top of that, traffic was non-existent! We arrived at the Fortress, paid our fees and caught the shuttle to the historic site. This is another must visit location!

Entrance to Park Interpretive Center

A bit about the fortress..."The Fortress of Louisbourg was a vibrant 18th century French community during the Franco-British struggle for supremacy in North America, 1713-1768. Centre of fishery and trade, colonial capital and fortified port - Louisbourg was besieged and captured in 1745 and 1758." (Parks Canada)

The partial restoration of the Fortress is incredible and the attention to period details is very evident, from the timber frame construction to the stone wall restoration to the antique furniture and clothing. Like my post on the Cabot Trail, I will let the pictures tell the story...enjoy!

Fisherman's home outside entrance to Fortress

Sentry guard on duty outside of Fortress

Entering the Fortress

A pub in the Fortress

At the prisoner's post in Fortress square!

The Blacksmith's Shop

Restoration Display

We spent about 3.5 hours touring the Fortress, leave at least that amount of time if you plan on visiting the Fortress.

After leaving the the Fortress we proceeded back to Sydney and connected with Nova Scotia Route 4 West on route back to Port Hawkesbury (132km). It was a beautiful ride through the Bras d'Or Lake region of Cape Breton. In places the road is very good and in other places it is a bit rough, but I still recommend the ride along Route 4 West. We arrived in Port Hawkesbury around 4:00pm. Our plan was to ride through to Halifax for the evening, but that was about to change. We came to consensus that we would ride as far as New Glasgow, NS and spend the evening and it was a good thing that we did as we were delayed an hour at the Canso causeway! Why were we delayed, cause of this! A submarine on a barge being towed through the causeway...not something you see everyday.

The delay was worth it as we enjoyed watching the old decommissioned submarine being towed through the causeway. After traffic cleared, we hit the road for the 100+KM ride to New Glasgow. We arrived at the hotel, ordered take out and settled in for the evening. It was another great day in Nova Scotia.

Next, Day 4 - Halifax...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Nova Scotia Days 1 & 2

I just arrived home from a five day road trip to Nova Scotia with my good friends Luc and Zal. This year's trip consisted of a tour of the Cabot Trail, the Fortress of Louisbourg, the City of Halifax and the Annapolis Valley region.

Day 1 - Fredericton, NB to Port Hawkesbury, NS (506KM)

We started day 1 of the trip with wet weather. Luc and I met for a coffee and hit the road. We had about a 90 minute ride on the Trans-Canada highway to meet up with Zal. The ride was wet, but we did not run into any major downpours of rain. On the other hand, Zal ran into some major rain riding from his place via Saint much that he had to stop under an overpass to let the rain pass by.

We met at the Big Stop in Salisbury, NB and had a big breakfast. During breakfast, we decided that we would stop at Atlantic Motoplex so that Zal could purchase a set of waterproof boot covers. While at Atlantic Motoplex, a salesman tried to sell me a new bike...I was offered a great trade in value for my VStar 1100 Classic, but the timing is not right for a new bike.

After leaving the dealer, we proceeded to Amherst, NS. We stopped at a tourist bureau to pick up some literature and hit the road for the Sunrise Trail (Route 6). The roads were fairly good and it was a nice ride. I found that there was not much to see along this route, perhaps it was the wet weather. We did not stop much, so I don't have many pics of day 1.

Coffee break on the Sunrise Trail

We arrived in Port Hawkesbury at about 6:00pm, checked into hotel, grabbed a bite to eat and relaxed in preparation for day 2, the Cabot Trail.

Day 2 - The Cabot Trail & Sydney, NS (464KM)

We woke with great anticipation for day 2 and the Cabot Trail. After some research ( we decided that we were going to do the trail in a counterclockwise direction.

The weather forecast was calling for clouds & showers, but that did not hamper our spirits. We hit the road around around 8:30 am...the start of the ride was very foggy which is not uncommon, at times it was difficult to see the bike in front of me.

We stopped at a local Tim Horton's for a coffee and a bite to eat in hopes that the fog would burn off.

We reached the entrance to the Cabot Trail at Saint Anns and by that time, the fog had cleared...we stopped to get rid of some gear and take a few pics.

Cabot Trail entrance at Saint Ann

View from Saint Ann Inn

While stopped, we were treated to an unexpected surprise, a visit from a bald eagle.

From there it was on to the Cabot Trail...this is a must visit place for motorcyclists. I will let the pictures do most of the the on pics for a full view.

After our stop at the entrance to Cape Breton Highlands National Park, we rode to the Coastal Restaurant...bikers are always welcome and the food is great, especially the coconut cream pie!

The Aspy Fault

The ride took about four hours and was one of the best rides I have been on. After our cruise around the trail, the weather turned and it was back to the rain gear.

We then rode the 80km to Sydney, Nova Scotia where we setlled for the eve. After unloading, we decided to go to the Sydney Casino for a bite to eat and some gaming. Zal was the night's big winner, walking away with $140.00.

Overall, it was a fantastic day of motorcycling, with wonderful scenery and great riding partners! I will post Day 3, the Fortress of Louisbourg soon!