Cary NC to Nova Scotia, Canada and back! 3,800 miles!
The trip was born out of a desire to repeat a trip I did in 1974 on my 1973 BMW R75/5. At that time I had a $29 orange tent from Kmart, a sleeping bag, sterno stove and a 9 ft. 2-piece fly rod. Spent 3 weeks at that time and was planning on hitting the same places on this trip. Add to this an old friend from working for many years and 2 spouses and some changes had to be made. Take out the fishing, camping and with the girls flying in on Saturday and leaving the following Saturday the stops needed to be compressed but do-able. Art bought a 2003 BMW 1150 RT and practiced all through the spring and was ready by July.
|Oswald was packed too!|
Day 1 Sunday, July 7th - I Left Cary, NC at 4 am since a heat wave was upon us. Not only is the slab painfully boring but it was in the mid-90’s. I hate the Interstates so above Richmond I take Rt. 301 through the countryside past the marker of John Wilkes Booth’s last stop. Shortly after is the Potomac River bridge and through Waldorf, Annapolis Bay Bridge then over to the Delaware River Bridges. This is still an ugly trip with many stops for water but little traffic, the heat was the problem. Overnight in Princeton Jct., NJ.
Day 2 Monday, July 8th was another boring ride to New Canaan, Ct where the GSA stayed in Art’s garage while I did some work in NYC and flew home for a family wedding.
Day 3 Tuesday, July 23rd – the real beginning! Flew into LGA and Art picked me up and we were on the road by 3 pm. We had two choices, 1- take Rt 7 up to VT then across to Augusta ME or Take I-91 and cut across, still by-passing NYC to Boston! We paid the price and pounded out 4-5 hours on I-91 with thunderheads all around. We spent the night in Wells River, VT at a clean but not recommended motel. The next morning we started out Rt. 302 and across the river we ate breakfast at Shiloh’s, breakfast was great and from the looks of it I would eat any meal there!
Day 4, Wednesday, July 24th - Now the fun begins! We took Rt. 302 to Rt. 112 then on to the Lost River Rd. We stopped for a short visit at the Lost River Gorge which is a State Park with a pretty hefty fee for a tour of the Gorge. I think it was around $17. But we were a bit pressed on time since it was Wednesday and we needed to pick the wives up at the Halifax Airport on Saturday. Rt. 112 led into Lincoln then on to the Kancamagus Highway. This is a must see highway and even though we spent the day in and out of drizzle with fog and clouds covering the tops of the mountains it was beautiful!! Our goal today was to reach Augusta, Me and after wandering around many small 2 lane roads we reached Augusta. Art was toast by the time we got there but he is 71 and he has only been riding a big bike R1150 RT for 7 months. He didn’t take my advice to start small! But he handled it well and these long days were taxing.
Day 5, Thursday, July 25th – Thankfully it was pretty good day weather wise. We decided to take the coast road Rt. 1 and it was a beautiful but fairly slow ride to Ellsworth, Me. Now you might ask, Why Ellsworth? Well, Ellsworth was next to Bar Harbor and Bar Harbor is a big summer destination for families on vacation. Hotels were $50 bucks more in Bar Harbor and since the ferry no longer leaves for Yarmouth, NS from there we really didn’t need to pay the premium price for a hotel. We only spent 4 hours on the bikes today and it was a really enjoyable visit to the Me. Coastline. That evening we dined on Lobster at Jasper’s for $14.95, a short walk from the Comfort Inn. How sweet!
Day 6, Friday, July 26th – We needed to make the ferry in St. John, NB by 11:00 am with the departure at 12:00 and get through customs at the border so it was a 6:30 am start. There was a bit of a press here for multiple reasons. 1. It was raining like hell!! NB was getting record setting rains just for us. 2. The road from Ellsworth went west on Bangor Road then 179 north to Airline Road. 20 miles of this road (179) was all broken up pavement? The only clean road was the 2 feet on either side of the centerline and that’s being generous. The GSA handled it pretty well and I ripped down this road and upon reaching Airline Rd. Art ripped into me for unsafe driving speeds. The border was nothing! Customs told us to park under the inspection roofing area so we could get our already soaked gloves on and hit the head! There was no one there when we went through. Then on to St John, NB but first we discovered that the clocks set forward 1 Hr at the border (the third reason we were pressed for time). Now we are squeezed! If we miss that ferry the next one is 11:00 PM!!! Getting into Digby, NS at 2:00 am. Where would we find a room at 2:30 am in the driving rain? The only thing that made us feel better was that the walk-ons to the ferry were just as wet as we were. The 3 hour break on the ferry was welcomed and the food was pretty good and reasonably priced. Oh, we made the ferry by 10 minutes! We arrived in Digby, NS (the scallop capital of the world) at 3:00 pm dripping wet. The Welcome center near the ferry was wonderful. They asked what we were looking for and called and got us a room at this nice little B&B on the Bay of Fundy! The “Come From Away” B&B on the waterfront was very nice and clean and maybe due to how bad we looked he offered his washer and dryer free of charge. He then booked us for a dinner at a very small bakery just down the street that served one of those meals that you remember for a long time (*** Mag Pyes Bakery Shoppe and café). Art and I wanted to go back or find a reason to go back to Digby. $30 soup to nuts awesome meal of Scallops and dessert was over the top from the bakery. You can’t find this meal in NYC!! I will eat there again. Good night out with the air conditioning cranked up to dry out everything, us included.
Day 7 – Saturday, July 27th - The pressure was off and we were now in NS and a reasonable ride to Halifax with a night of rest before we picked up the girls. It’s drizzling again! But we are off to Halifax. We arrived early afternoon in Halifax and checked into the Westin near the waterfront. Very nice and much cheaper on www.hotels. com. Art picked up a car that Nancy would drive and they would position the car at various spots and do day rides. It was her first trip on an MC. All flights on time and we are back to the hotel by 5:30 getting settled and then a walk around Halifax and a celebratory steak dinner! Early to bed.
Day 8, Sunday, July 28th – Decided on a trip to Peggy’s Cove and then on to Lunenburg. Peggy’s Cove was spectacular and shockingly beautiful! It is a must see destination. We spent 3-4 hours there then were off to Lunenburg. We got there a little late and the shops had pretty much shut down. We did see the Blue Nose schooner. I saw the Blue Nose in Yarmouth in 1974 in the water. The town is a Unesco World Heritage Site. Town dates back to the 1700’s and is a neat old town. If you go make sure you have time to go in the shops. After 2 hours and one mishap…Art dropped the RT in a pothole. Slow speed and Art and Nancy were fine but Art’s ego was bruised….we were then off for Halifax. Early to bed and getting ready for the morning trip to PEI.
Day 9, Monday, July 29th – After a hearty breakfast of Oatmeal we were off to PEI. No rush today since it was only 2 – 3 hours to the ferry from Caribou, NS to Wood Island, PEI. We just missed the ferry but only 1 hr till the next one. In the mean time Nancy was leaving the car in the day lot and riding with Art on the RT but Art got lost in the mix-up finding the parking lot. We found him messaging at the Tim Horton’s several miles away and he then found us. I don’t think it was the donuts but the attraction was the bathroom!! Coming off the ferry we lost each other on the way to Charlottetown. His GPS said right off the ferry and mine said left. The roads get to the same place, just different farm land. A note on that: It is hard to lose each other on Nova Scotia as long as you know where to meet up at night. Nancy and Pattie had their lobster that night and we wandered the town. Pretty town and the Victoria street area is all restaurants with live entertainment. The street is a walking mall next to the theatre. We decided to split up this night for the next few days. Art and Nancy decided they really had to see the Cabot Trail and Pattie and I wanted to spend some time on the Bay of Fundy. I felt that 2 days weren’t enough to enjoy the Trail so the plan was changed.
Day 10, Tuesday, July 30th – We went with Art and Nancy to the North Shore which is the Anne of Green Gables area with beautiful parks on the water and sand dunes. It was a pretty ride and after seeing the coast Art and Nancy were off and we continued down the coast, had a leisurely lunch (Ahhh, mussels) and an easy ride back to Charlottetown. We spent the rest of the day wondering around town and then discovered that our hotel…Rodd Charlottetown… had a better restaurant with cheaper prices than the town restaurants, a great dinner and a few glasses of wine listing to music on Victoria St. Meanwhile Art and Nancy found the car dead at the ferry and Hertz was totally unresponsive. They got it started and had to take it back to Halifax to swap cars then took off for the Trail. They tried to get a room in New Glascow but the area was booked up so they pressed on to Antigonish. They got to bed sometime around 2 am.
|Low tide at Fundy|
Day 13, Friday, August 2nd - Our goal was to see the maritime museum, the Titanic Exhibit, the Anglican Church that survived the 1917 munitions ship explosion (it’s the only thing that survived it). Pattie found some yarn shops and bought some unique yarns (she is a weaver). We also wondered the waterfront and saw a beautiful craft exhibit. We only road around the Citadel but it was a fun relaxing day. We topped it off with a 1 hour “Duck Boat Tour” with 30 minutes on land and 30 minutes in the water. It was a very nice day and after a nice Italian meal we were off to the Holiday Inn Express at the Airport. While Pattie was there, this was the only time we put on rain gear and we didn’t get rained on! Art and Nancy arrived shortly after us and we swapped war stories in the lobby. They had all the car problems then raced around the Cabot Trail then followed us to Parrsboro. In the mean time Art dropped the bike again on the other side and a trucker stopped and helped him pick it up. Now he has matching sides to the RT. They had fun and enjoyed their trip as we did.
Day 14, Saturday, August 3rd - We took the wives to the airport in the car, dropped them off and the car then returned to the Holiday Inn via shuttle. We had originally planned to stop in St. John but we were in another torrential downpour again and decided to press on to Ellsworth, Me Art wanted to get away from gravel and he clearly had getting home on his mind. Here we split again.
Day 15, Sunday, August 4th – Art hit the slab early all the way back to New Caanan and I started back through New Hampshire to Brattleboro, Vt. Great weather and very good roads, I love NH and VT for riding!! I walked into a 70 year old Quality Inn 30 seconds before the skies opened up. Nice Japanese restaurant and early to bed.
Day 17 & 18, Monday & Tuesday, August 5th & 6th – This would bring back memories. I was on my way to Woodstock to see friends and it would be a short ride so I went north to Manchester, Vt and saw the mountains that I skied at when the kids were little. Bromley is beautiful in the summer. Had to stop at Orvis then on to Woodstock. Jack and Mary always have a room for me and talked me into staying an extra day. It is always good to see them. The logic was that I was going to get wet anyway so why not take a break and maybe the skies will clear. It was the right decision. The East Coast roads were all wet. We became meteorologists and I took the bet that the coastal route to Cary would be better.
Day 19, Wednesday, August 7th – I am on the road down the Eastern Shore staying away from I-95 and the rain. The plan worked well with only 2 hours from Wilmington to Dover in the rain. I learned some years ago traveling back and forth to NC that the Eastern Shore route to Norfolk was the same mileage as going down I-95 NYC to Raleigh but was a prettier and more relaxing ride. Yes, more stop lights but a much better experience! I stayed once again in Exmore, Va, 30 miles from the Bay Bridge Tunnels to Norfolk at the Holiday Inn Express. They let me park under the front awning!
Day 20, Thursday, August 8th – I am heading home just after rush hour in Norfolk. The Bridge is beautiful and I am skirting rainstorms but staying dry. No Complaints and the ride home was nice, arriving at 1:30 pm the day before my wife’s birthday!!
- It is easy to plan 500 mile days but hard to do them when you have to factor in weather and traffic. With 2 up keep daily rides down to 150 mile average with a couple of breaks, especially if the passenger is new to long distance rides. It is boring in back!
- Take a ferry if you can, you have to eat and rest and use the facilities somewhere!
- I would do the whole trip in B&B’s. They are on average $30 cheaper, you meet very nice people, and it includes great breakfasts! They were spotless!
- The Canadians are very interested in what you are doing and want to see you enjoy their country. If I had a problem I wouldn’t hesitate knocking on a door and would probably be invited in to stay!!!
- Always order the seafood chowder, scallops, and mussels!
- Schedule minimum 3 days for the Cabot Trail! I spent 4 days camping and fishing in 1974 and experienced all of it. That was perfect! Don’t do it just to check it off.
- Make sure you eat in Digby, NS at the bakery I mentioned above!
- Parrsboro is perfect for the tidal change and not crowded.
- Don’t miss Peggy’s Cove!!!!
- The ferry from Bar Harbor or a High Speed ferry from Portland, ME. will be back soon!
- I will stay at the 2 B&B’s that I mentioned above again. Also eat at Digby, in case you missed my earlier comment!
- We didn’t see all of it but PEI was worth it, What we didn’t see was New Brunswick and there is a lot to see that we missed. I have fished their trout streams and it is a beautiful Province.
- Make key reservations like Airport the night before a flight or near Bay of Fundy because they are small towns and book up fast. Leave some open dates for flexibility.
Planning starts now for the next great adventure!!!!!
I am torn.......Haul road to Prudoe Bay or Newfoundland to Labrador to Quebec City
Pattie is even talking about another trip on the bike….maybe to the beach for the weekend. She really enjoyed the ride in Nova Scotia!!