July 27, 2003
I'm gonna have a beer, help yourselves if you'd like.
The first day for MINeSWEEP for me was Sunday, Bep and I got back from the Atlantic Vintage TT races and hooked up with Karen and Levona at my house, it was great to see them again, the first time since moving back from Florida. We started packing up the truck and got a call from tmgs saying that he was just outside of Halifax by about 50 minutes. We hung out at our place waiting for his arrival, the trip from Florida to Halifax took 9500 miles, not what I would call the most direct route. We packed everyone up and headed into downtown Halifax for some supper.
After filling up on some good food we headed back to the house, finished packing and then headed for the cottage. Bep was on his 1969 T100 Triumph chopper, I was on my sister's 1974 Honda CB550Four, Tom on his BMW LT, Chris on Karen's RT (I believe) and Karen and Levona in the chase truck with my 1970 T120R Triumph chopper in the back. We dragged my bike along in case we got a chance to work on it while down at the cottage.
We took the highway down to the exit we needed instead of the coastal route in order to get there before dark, the ride down was a foggy one, something that seemed consistent for the rest of the week. Once we turned off the highway and headed inland the fog disappeared and the next 30 miles to the cottage a nice clear ride with almost no traffic. We hit the cottage in the early evening with clear skies and calm waters. We opened a couple beers and sat on the deck enjoying the calm lake and listening to the loons (the birds, not us). Once night fell the stars came out in the millions, we even got to watch the space station cross the sky.
The next morning we slept in a little and headed out to the little diner at the entrance to the side road to the cottage for some breakfast. Earlier that morning I headed into Bridgewater with Tom and Karen for supplies, this trip took a little longer than anticipated, and on the way back I managed to get us lost. Eventually, after asking twice for directions, we made our way back to the cottage. Bep was just getting back from the lodge and said that the first group had already arrived. We unloaded some of the supplies and the cottage and took the bulk of them to the lodge. Already in attendance with Len and Pauline, Poser and Mrs. Poser, Wildflower, Sam Brown, Stroker Ray and Bill Berg. We hung out at the lodge for the rest of the day, later on Tailgunner and his crew showed up, Jeff, Randy and Randy's wife. Now that everyone was here we quickly started dispensing the lies, making route plans for the next day and giving Bill a sunburn by snapping dozens of pictures as he slept soundly in his chair. The saying for the evening was "Hold my beer and watch this...".
The original plan was to do a little loop through Nova Scotia on Tuesday, taking us through the valley, Halifax, and back down the coast. It was decided that some would rather get an early start on Cape Breton and rather than head back to the lodge on Tuesday that they would head closer to the Cabot Trail after hitting Halifax. It was also decided that instead of starting for the valley that we would start by running up the coast towards Halifax. We had originally booked the lodge for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights, but it looked like we were just gonna need it for Monday, as half the group was gonna head up to Cape Breton early. I called the owner and he was cool with us just paying for 2 nights instead of the 4. Tuesday morning rolled around and we headed to the little local diner for breakfast.
Once we were fuelled up we headed for the coast. The ride to the coast wasn't too bad, but when we hit the number 3 we hit fog, and lot's of it. With no windshield, or front fender, the fog and damp roads made it very difficult to see, I was constantly having to wipe off the glasses. We headed up the 3 and turned off on the 329, one of the roads that follows the coast line. This is a long detour, and at one point I stopped to question if we were still on the right road, with the fog and my limited visibility I was concerned that I missed a turn, especially after getting lost getting supplies the day before. The Poser confirmed on his GPS that we were still on the 329, so we continued along. Tom was in the lead and I was right behind him, then I saw a sign turning off the road for "The Lighthouse Route", which is suppose to follow the coast, Tom was heading straight but I was sure that we wanted the lighthouse route, so I turned, causing everyone to follow behind, everyone from The Poser that is. Once again doubting my decision, I stopped and we headed back after only about half a mile. Once we got turned around we headed back and turned down the other way and quickly found our way back to the 3, where we should have come out.
We headed along the coast on the 3 until we reached the 333 turn off which takes us out to Peggy's Cove. The fog was very thick here, the light house was barely visible even though it was only a couple hundred feet away. (Here’s what it looks like on a nice day) People checked out Peggy's Cove and the world's most photographed light house, after which we headed into Halifax in order for people to check out the local HD shop. Bep's bike wasn't enjoying the stop and go traffic in Halifax and the clutch started heating up, causing him to slowly inch forward when stopped in gear. We hit the HD shop (Tom and Chris made a side stop at the local BMW shop) and then we headed for some food around the corner. This would have been around 5 PM, it took a lot longer to get to Halifax via the coastal roads than I had anticipated, I'll remember this is we have another one of these meets sometime.
After supper the groups were set to head off in opposite directions, Bep, the Gallo's, Jeff and Tailgunner were heading back to the cottage and lodge and Len & Pauline, Stroker Ray, Sam Brown, Wildflower and Bill Berg were heading north east to get closer to Cape Breton and The Poser and his wife were heading back towards Yarmouth to catch the ferry back to the states the next morning. My group planned on getting an early start to Cape Breton the next morning and we were to meet the other group there on Wednesday night. The ride back on the main highway was once again extremely foggy, up until we turned off and headed inland. With such a small group, everyone set their own pace back to the cottage, the road is too twisty to ask these guys to hold up for an old CB550 and a hardtail T100C. Once at the cottage we cracked open a couple beers and cooked up some hotdogs, we also helped some elderly neighbour move a fridge and stove and then put Bep's chopper back on his truck. Bep was gonna truck it up to Truro and our sister's place where he would unload it and take it to Cape Breton, this saved him a couple on his return to Ottawa on Saturday because he could leave from Truro and not the cottage.
Once everything was ready to go for the next morning we relaxed with a drink and checked out the weather forecast. OH shit, nothing but rain for all of Nova Scotia for the next day or two. We all crossed out fingers and went to bed.
Day 4 of MINeSWEEP (depending on who you ask), the forecast from the night before was gloomy, and waking up at around 5:30am to thunder, lightening and driving rain wasn't a good sign. We had a pretty good haul ahead of us to get from the cottage in East Dalhousie to Seal Island in Cape Breton, so we wanted to get an early start, but it was hard to get motivated when the rain is coming down hard.
Around 6:00-6:30 the rain let up, and shortly after Jeff and Tailgunner showed up. Jeff cooked up some breakfast as everyone got ready to head out. By the time we left the rain had stopped, but it was always threatening, the roads were wet, and the clouds were ever present. The 30 mile trip to the highway was relatively clear of rain, but with no front fender or windshield on the bike it was like it was raining the whole way as the front tire kicked up water from the wet roads. Things got better as the roads started to dry, but the looming clouds never went away. It was a straight forward highway ride for the rest of the way to Truro, with a brief stop for gas after I had to hit reserve, and another stop so #103 could get a shot taken by the "Halfway between the Equator and the North Pole" sign in Stewiake.
Once we hit Truro we unloaded Bep's bike for the trip up to Cape Breton and when my sister showed up we invaded her facilities and left her house with a nice healthy fragrance. <g>
The 103's were anxious to get to the campground at Seal Island so for the rest of the ride Bep, Jeff, Tailgunner and I took a couple backroads between Truro and Antigonish and Tom and his crew took the slab. We hit the number 4 heading out of Truro and immediately we were on some great roads, twisty with no traffic. There was one point when we hit an extremely rough spot, road it for a couple kms before seeing a sign that read "Rough Section/Next 3.3 kms". Great, you’d have to have car swallowing pot holes to get any worse then what we were on. Fortunately it didn't get any worse than the section we were on, but once we got past that the road was great, nice and smooth. We switched between the 104 (slab) and the 4 (backroad) between Truro and Cape Breton. During one section of the 4 we were cruising along and Jeff motioned to the left (that reminds me of something I should have mentioned earlier, I'll get back to it in a second), when I looked over there was a field and then open water, the Northumberland Straight I believe. There was no indication we were that close to water, no drop in temperature, no salt water smell, it just appeared out of no where. Now, back to my thought, when we left Truro Jeff had offered to switch bikes with me, that's right, we're heading up to Cape Breton on some good twisties and Jeff offers me his BMW R1100R and takes my sisters CB550. He had offered me a drive on it the last time he was in Nova Scotia and I didn't take him up on it, I wasn't gonna make that mistake twice.
While on the 4 we approached an area called Malignant Cove (charming name) and it gave us a great view of a little town jutting out of the coast into the water, the road had us looking down at it, probably a couple dozen houses in this quaint little town, beautiful setting. We continued on into Antigonish, fuelled up the bike and then went to a little local pub for some lunch. The place had a Gaelic inscription over the fireplace and some tartans hanging on the walls, a tell tale sign that we were getting close to Cape Breton.
After eating we decided to make up some time, so we hoped on the 104 for the rest of the ride up to Cape Breton, then the 105 up to Baddeck and finally the KOA at Seal Island. At one point we were going up a slight incline and we decided to see what the old girls could do, his 1969 500cc T100C was running just a hair quicker than Sue's 1974 CB550, now I'm wondering if I still had another gear left in her, LOL. The traffic all the way was pretty good, we ran into a small area of construction where we had to stop, but we were on our way again in the time it took Tailgunner to smoke 1 cigarette.
The internet gave me the impression that the KOA was just outside Baddeck, turns out Seal Island is about 20 miles outside, no biggy. We got there about 10 minutes after 103 and family, apparently they had made a few stops along the way. We had a tent site booked but it turned out that someone who had a cabin booked had backed out, so we took that instead.
We had said our goodbyes to the other crew the day before, although many had anticipated making it to the campground, unfortunately we never hooked up with them again. I hope you all made it back safely, and Len, let us know if there is a route to Greenland.
We grabbed some Pizza for supper and Tailgunner and Jeff headed into Baddeck to hook up with some friends that were travelling up this way. It was 103's birthday and he had kinda been hoping for some lobster, and Tailgunner and Nick didn't disappoint when they returned back from supper with a live lobster in the saddle bag, complete with candle in the claw. It was one of those moments that you had to be there for, we were on the ground laughing our asses off. Later on a 7 year old girl came over to sing to Tom, as Tailgunner mentioned in his report, she was going to sing it "Oprah", we weren't sure what that meant until she started and it came out as opera. She did a great job until she got the point were she had to sing Tom's name, unfortunately she forgot it.
I've been rambling a bit, have a drink and I'll wrap up day 4 here.
Day 5, wake up at 5:00am at the KOA and head outside, sun is rising and all is good with the world, go take a leak, come back to the cabin and go back to bed, it is only 5:00am after all.
Wake up a couple hours later and start getting ready to ride the Cabot Trail. Getting ready turns out to be quite easy for me, all my gear was left in the other truck in Truro and not the one that's been following us, so with no clean close or personal hygiene products to speak of, I'm good to go. I do a little (very little) tidying up while everyone else rolls out of bed, gets cleaned up and packs their shit. Today's plan, being Thursday, was to ride the Cabot Trail and end the day in Truro at my sisters place, where we would spread out tents and invade her home. Tailgunner and Jeff headed out first, since they had plans to hook up with a couple friends of theirs at little eatery at the beginning of the trail, the rest of us took a little longer to get going and Tailgunner, Jeff and their friends were basically finishing up their meals when we showed up. We were gonna ride at our own paces today in small groups and hook up at The Red Shoe Pub in some small town who's name escapes me at around 2'ish. I believe Tailgunner's friends took off first, then Tailgunner and Jeff, and finally after enjoying our breakfast, Bep, Tom, Chris, the truck with Karen and Levona, and myself, were off to enjoy the ride.
I've been on the Cabot Trail once or twice before, but it was in a car and it was a long time ago, all I remembered was fog. The weather wasn't great, typical Nova Scotia weather, overcast most of the time, but the ride and scenery was fantastic. People have made this trip before and said that coming to Nova Scotia and not riding the Cabot Trail is like going to a restaurant and not ordering food. They couldn't be more right. The coastal roads between Yarmouth and Halifax are nice, and you get to see a lot of little fishing villages, but the ride through along the Cabot Trail is something completely different. The road is twisty with plenty of elevation changes, the views are spectacular and the look off points are plentiful. During the ride we encountered a few eagles, one dive bombed Tailgunner as he rode ahead of me (wait, how was I able to see him when he and Jeff took off earlier? I'll get to that in a second) and we even saw a black bear off to the side of the road a little ways.
We were driving along, enjoying the ride and the scenery, well all of a sudden the sound of a Harley tearing up beside me caught my attention. I've been checking my mirrors so they weren't back there very long before showing up. Turns out it was Tailgunner, whom we had expected to be well ahead of us by now. Turns out he was having some electrical problems and after he and Jeff pulled over to work on the bike and truck pulling a boat pulled up beside them, hiding them from our view as we drove past. They got the bike going and then tore up the roads in order to catch our group. The 6 bikes and truck stayed together for the rest of the day, and we got to play shadetree mechanic as Tailgunner's bike continued to give him problems. One of the nice things about the Cabot Trail is that when you break down you can usually coast to a look off spot that has a great view, and in one case we stopped at a little restaurant. It was getting clear that we weren't going to make the bar in time to hook up with their friends, so we grabbed something to eat and worked on Tailgunner's bike.
We took off again and at some point ended up getting separated from Tom, Chris and the truck, I don't recall how, but we continued on and Jeff waited at a turn off to make sure they didn't miss it. We hit an extremely foggy part of road, at which point I noticed that Bep had no head light, this seemed about par for the course considering the previous day he lost his tail light and break light. We didn't hit any significant amount of rain that day, but the roads were wet in spots, causing the water to soak the front of me and Bep (no front fenders or windshields) and at one point the road was covered in dirt from trucks pulling out onto the road, which turned to mud on the wet road, which in turn coated us in mud. I could handle the rain on the glasses, but the mud made it very difficult to see, there were a couple times that I had to pull the glasses off and wipe them on my pants while riding in order to get some decent vision again. It wasn't long before the mud wasn't being kicked up and just regular water was splashing on us again, this helped to clean some of the mud off us and the bikes. We continued on, undaunted, and before long we pulled up to The Red Shoe Pub, a tiny little bar that allowed us to wash the mud off and grab a frosty beverage. Before I even finished washing up, the rest of the group joined us once again.
It was starting to look like we wouldn't make Truro, Bep was anxious to get there because he wanted to make sure he could leave for Ottawa the next day and get home that night (15 hour drive), when he told his wife he'd be home. Unfortunately the spirit to carry on all the way to Truro wasn't there with the group, we decided to continue on but we were only going to go as far as Antigonish, which was probably under 2 hours away from Truro. Bep wasn't gonna be able to make it on his own with no lights and it would have been getting dark by the time he got close. Currently I believe Bep is residing in the dog house at home <g> and the wife isn't buying the break down story, albeit a legitimate story.
We made pretty good time the rest of the way, everybody set their own pace and Tailgunner pulled way ahead of the pack, and quickly learned that if you're gonna make eyes at the girl in the car beside you, it's better to do it from the side that doesn't show the missing tank. I had put over 1000 miles on the CB550 by this time and it was running pretty good, but at 60+ mph, it's not much for passing unless on a downhill slope. We hit Antigonish, drove through the town, past the bagpipers and to a motel on the edge of town, we unpacked, and then searched for a place to eat. There were 2 pubs nearby, but neither served food after 9:00pm, something about liquor/gambling licenses and Video Lottery Terminals, so we ended up going to a pizza place and having them deliver the food to one of the bars. We were gonna wait for the food but we were all a bit thirsty, so we asked if they could deliver it, now here's the kicked, since we all ordered on separate bills they said they had to charge us for separate delivery for each bill. WTF! Cost us $10 to have some punk carry the food 2 doors down. That just ain't right, but I was hungry, and if memory served someone else covered the delivery, so who am I to complain.
We ate our supper, had a couple drinks, lamented the loss of Tom's lobster (it didn't survive the night in the cooler), pondered Tailgunner's electrical problem, told a couple lies and then called it a night. Thus ends day 5 for me, if you made it this far then you deserve another couple of drinks on me.