I’m heading home. What a powerful motivator that can be. Whereas before I had a direction and destinination, it was a little like being suspended in place or cycling into the fog. The scenery changes as one place to the next rolls by but there’s a certain laissez-faire, experience-it-as-it-comes nature to the travel. Now I’m moving. Every kilometre, hour, and day ushers me closer to the end where the cycles stop. I’m getting excited.
For those of you who follow my progress from time to time, I won’t be blogging this last week. I’ve made it back to the mainland and am now focused in getting to the final ferry at Yarmouth, NS which will take me to Portland, ME.
I will continue to keep the map updated as much a possible.
The remaining industry on Cape Breton seems to be tourism. Coming down the coast today, the only towns that flourish, like Ingonish, are located around the beautiful beaches that draw tourists like myself. On the map, many towns exists along the coast, especially closer to the Sydney area but little remains of them today. I saw numerous smaller churches converted to art studios or for sale. Certainly a lovely use of empty buildings but the absence of people haunts them nevertheless. My favorite was a church turned into a Gaelic singers’ hall but it looked abandoned.
With continuing dread and anticipation I set out early for the Cabot Trail; today was the day of days in this little detour through Cape Breton. And if I wasn’t carrying enough trepidation, I met the groundskeeper for the campground who reaffirmed the difficult climbing ahead. As an aside, I learnt down the road that he was the brother of Elisabeth May, the leader of Canada’s Green Party. Turns out their mother was an anti-war, anti-nuke protesters during the Nixon administration who discovered Cape Breton and moved her family there. This information came from another expat who’s been coming to summer and paint in Cape Breton for about 40 years. There are many people from the US who seem to live here part of the year.
I’m seeing signs announcing local ceilidhean all over the place (I think that is the plural of ceilidh). Unfortunately, most are on Sunday evenings so I haven’t had the chance to just drop into one of these social, musical gatherings. To attend a ceilidh and hear the fiddlers tearing away would be to experience one of the island’s proudest traditions.
July 20, 2014
All day I racked my brain trying to piece together something interesting to write about. All I got were little snippets that don’t amount to much. You see it was a transit day of sorts in my final few weeks to get to St John’s, NFLD. I finished PEI yesterday and tomorrow I’m planning to start the trek around Cape Breton Island. The plan is to cycle the Cabot Trail, which is world renowned for its spectacular beauty. One sign beside the road welcomed me to explore “the masterpiece” ever so humbly. This is all well and good but I also know this coastal route promises the steepest grades I have seen so far. All to say I approached the island with a mixture of dread and anticipation. From the causeway onto the island, it’s only about a day’s cycling to get to the ferry for Newfoundland. A small part of me seriously contemplated making a beeline for the ferry but I’m also stubborn enough to resist that particular temptation. I’m sure I’d always regret not taking the three days or so to cycle around Cape Breton.
Prince Edward Island, and Charlottetown in particular, is celebrating 150 years since the first conference that lead to the formation of the Dominion of Canada. What happened is an interesting story and it’s also ironic that PEI is throwing this 70 day festival so I will tell it.