Scoot Commute

Canada Day Eight: Cabot Trail, Meat Cove, NS (132 miles)

Posted in 2010 Canada, BMW F650GS Dakar (Maxx), Suzuki DR-Z400SM (Elsa) by sbahn on 2011/01/23
Chéticamp Campground, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, NS

Chéticamp Campground, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, NS

This our campsite at the Chéticamp Campground. The sites were tiny and very close together. We could see everyone else’s sites and thought, “Hmmm, this is sorta Euro.” Despite being so close together, everyone was very quiet. The far end site was occupied by a bicyclist tourer. These folks always impress me and I’m not always a fan of bicyclists. But the tourer people; more power to you with your 5,000 calories a day.

Immediately next to us was the cutest French-Canadian couple who obviously had no freaking clue how to camp. I wanted to go over and start their campfire so they could get romantic because the guy was so inept. They also crawled into the tent very early when it was still light out. Well now, that’s cool because they’re all in love, but then they were reading their books and went to sleep. That was disappointing!

On the other side were two guys who would leave in the morning to go fishing, and come back in the evening, make a big fire, cook up the day’s catch and drink some kind of cheap swill. They were awesome. Just what camping and getting into the woods should be.

Today’s plan was to ride into the national park and noodle around on the Cabot Trail,  visit Meat Cove because, well, it’s supposed to be interesting, and spend a final night in the Chéticamp Campground. As we were finishing up our breakfast and coffee, a woman exited an official Parks Canada car and came up to us holding a clipboard. She wanted to know if we were leaving or staying another night. This is when we finally realized the campground wasn’t actually open yet. There is a nearby, much larger campground where the fire pit sites are spread out so you don’t see your neighbor. And that campground opens the weekend before Canada Day (July 1). There are also plenty of other campgrounds within the national park, but they don’t have drinking water. I didn’t want to deal with filtering or riding in water which is why we wound up at Chéticamp.

Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia

Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia

The Cabot Trail is a beautiful as everyone says it is. Windy roads, rolling hills covered with lush, green foliage, giant boulders, sea views. We were lucky as the day was sunny and warm, making the views truly outstanding.

Meat Cove, NS

Meat Cove, NS

I usually ride in second position, I really don’t know why, but that’s how we’ve always done it. The GPS is hooked up on the boyfriend’s bike, so let’s say that’s why. But man, he can be a slow poke. There were some fantastic curves where I could lean the DRZ400 SM way over, but I wouldn’t have enough room in front of me to throttle out. So I got into the habit if slowing way down and getting some space inbetween us, and then having some fun on this bike. Fantastic. The traffic was almost non-existent as we were, again, before season, and it was a weekday.

We rode the dirt road out to Meat Cove as we had planned to have lunch on the relatively new restaurant run by the same folks that run the campground. I took the lead here because, well, I was sick of being held back. The road had a lot of wash outs as there had been some recent heavy rains. It was fun, and I knew there would be something delicious to eat at the end.

Meat Cove Chowder Hut lunch

Meat Cove Chowder Hut lunch

We went into the restaurant to order our meal, and the waitress/daughter of the owner was very friendly. She told us she had seen a bunch of whales in the morning so we should keep a lookout (unfortunately, we never saw any).

Meat Cove, Nova Scotia

Meat Cove, Nova Scotia

I ordered up a fish chowder and the boyfriend had fish and chips. When it came to drinks, we ordered up Nova Scotia’s finest brew, Alexander Keith’s. Sitting in the sun, with the wind whipping, overlooking the water, was delightful. Just divine. And the fish chowder was goooood.

With bellies full we saddled up for a meandering ride back to camp. Again, I led the way. When I got back onto tarmac, I pulled over to snap a pic and wait for Captain Slowpoke. As I’m standing there, a very large group of cruisers (Harleys and Goldwings) ride pass me to head up the dirt road. I wondered what it would be like to navigate such heavy beasts over the washed out rivulets. I tried it once on my CB750 and knew enough about my limits to turn around.

My favorite road sign

My favorite road sign

Eventually Cap’n Slo makes his way down on the F650GS and we retrace our route back to Chéticamp Campground. We had passed this weird little hut thing on the way out and wanted to swing in to have a look on the return.

Replica Scottish crofter's hut at the Lone Shieling trail

Replica Scottish crofter's hut at the Lone Shieling trail

If I’m remembering correctly, this is a replica of a Scottish crofter’s hut that was built at the request of the former owner of the land, who donated the land to be used as part of the national park. (A crofter is basically a farmer.) I think the land donator was a professor at one of the local universities. This part of the park was very restricted as it is an old growth forest of maple trees. The trees are up to 350 years old. They’re incredibly tall and it was really enjoyable hiking the short path. And it wasn’t raining!

Watch out motorcyclists!

Watch out motorcyclists!

There were a lot of roadworks going on this time of year, which makes sense as it was before season yet after the snow and mud melt. I was happy to see this sign, and after riding behind the boyfriend for so long, I thought he looked like the icon.

Fire pit at the Chéticamp Campground, NS

Fire pit at the Chéticamp Campground, NS

Our last night in the park, I made a big fire, cooked up a hearty meal, and we sat for several hours, watching the warming flames and the stars above.

Cute couple on the Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia

Cute couple on the Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia

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