I woke up this morning more-or-less with the sun, and Kay was still sound asleep. So were the dogs. I ventured forth to the washroom, and then I decided to treat myself and Kay to a little morning pick-me-up – hot water for him to make tea, and me to make coffee!
Yes, I brought a hand coffee grinder (burr grinder, of course), fancy coffee beans, creamer and sugar, and a tumbler so I could make coffee. Plus the JetBoil has a french press attachment. Tasty morning ritual, huzzah! Kay stirred while I was making hot water, so he put his leaves in for his tea to steep and I had my coffee. I grabbed my Kindle to read with my coffee – woot! Kay had apparently been in the habit of listening to podcasts in the morning lately, so he asked me to read aloud to him. So I did. It was a pleasant morning.
(If you’re curious, I’m reading Pain, Curiosity and a Bear, Volume I. So far it sounds *very* familiar…)
After a leisurely start, alas, things started to drag when it came time to pack things up. I felt like it took longer than it should, and by the time we left the campsite, it was around 10:20. Headed down the road to the gas station/restaurant where I got us dinner last night, and we grabbed breakfast. Alas, that took longer than I thought it should, but with both of us still fighting being sick, grabbing a good meal seemed important.
As usual, we got a little something to feed the dogs, and when we got out to the Ural, a gent came over and started talking with us. It turned out he rode, too, and he filled us in on some stuff to see, and was generally nice and very helpful. He also talked with us about the Wharf Rat Rally in Digby. It seemed like everyone was trying to get us to go check out the Wharf Rat Rally! So when Kay and I packed up, I decided we should head off to Digby to check it out.
Alas, after all of the delays, it was noon by the time we hit the road… that leisurely start we got this morning suddenly seemed less like one of the luxuries of vacation, and more like foolish indolence. Now I was starting to feel a little pressed to make miles in order to have something to show for my day.
Off we went down the highway, and we got to Digby at around 1:30ish. Sure enough, it was in full-on rally prep mode – there were a ton of vendors setting up along the scenic waterfront and boardwalk, but you could tell things hadn’t gotten into full swing yet. We decided to park and walk a bit to check it out. When we pulled up, we saw a handful of bikes, but as we wandered around, we kept seeing more and more pour into the town. By the time we left again, the bikes were more plentiful than cars – and it was clear that things were only just beginning.
While we were in Digby, though, we wandered up and down the scenic waterfront.
Found some things that seemed slightly out of place.
And I decided we had to try some of the World Famous Scallops! Digby is famous for having the largest scallop fleet in the world, and the scallops are supposed to be delicious and fresh, so I left Kay and the doggies chilling in some shade and set off to find us scallops!
Scallops were acquired! And yes, they were delicious and fresh. NOM!
Kay had spotted some soft-serve ice cream when we did the first walk-through, so I decided now that I had a sampling of scallops, I wanted to top it off with a little ice cream nosh. Headed back toward the rally, and we passed where we had parked our Ural – and LO! and Behold! There was another Ural parked 2 spots ahead of us! What were the chances of seeing another Ural in the wild? We had to find the owner of this Ural! But how?
Back down the main drag, heading toward the soft serve ice cream, and Kay spots a man wearing a Ural t-shirt! What are the chances that’s a coincidence? Not bloody likely! “Excuse me, are you the one driving the Ural?” He nods. “Ours is the blue one!”
We had a nice chat with this other Ural-riding gent. And it turns out he also had an F650GS, too! Clearly the man has good taste in bikes. He told us about some great spots to ride, including a trail that bisects Cape Breton Island – it’s a wide-ish gravel road, but it would get us off the pavement if we’d like. Sounds nice. We’ll have to check it out.
He also seemed surprised by how crappy our Ural mileage is. He says he gets around 200km on a tank, and when we told him we hit reserve around 120km, he was shocked. Yet another person who thinks something is wrong with our Ural. We described some of the performance issues we’ve been having, and he asked: “Is it shooting out a puff of black smoke now and then?” I nodded. “I just started noticing that when I was riding behind Kay today!” He theorized that it was carb-related, and that it sounded like it was running too rich – something we’ve suspected for a while.
He also suggested it might be as simple as the choke getting stuck open. We’ve pulled the carbs apart and cleaned them before, but I’m willing to grasp at straws, so when we got back to the bikes, I pulled the choke on both carbs a couple of times with the hope that if something wasn’t seating properly, it might help to work it a few times.
Loaded up again (sans soft-serve ice cream – after chatting, it was getting late and I felt the need to make miles) and we headed down the coastal route toward Yarmouth. Off the highway, the driving was nice and scenic – I found it really pleasant. The views alternated between pretty ocean coves and inlets, marshy land, quaint houses and hilly forestlands, occasionally interspersed with a small village. Nova Scotia definitely ranks high on the pretty scale.
Late in the afternoon, Kay announced that he was having trouble staying alert and that he’d like a break. I told him to just pull off anywhere that looks good to him, as he was driving the Ural so he was in the lead, and at that point Yarmouth wasn’t too far off, so I told him it was just down the road. Nothing particularly likely sprang out at us for the next little bit, and eventually he spotted a gas station that was a vehicle service center – not the traditional convenience store type gas station that is more common – and pulled off. I pointed out that it didn’t have a convenience store, and that we were only 3km from town. But they did have a Pepsi vending machine out front, so if he wanted to stop, we could. He answered “No, it’s ok, let’s just go try to find something better.”
Turns out, we probably should have stayed there. Like a kilometer later, a guy in a truck in front of Kay had come to a stop because he was trying to turn left. Kay was apparently not paying attention, and I saw that he wasn’t slowing down, so I yelled “Stopping!” over the headset – it’s what we tell one another when someone in front of us stops suddenly in order to give one another a slight heads-up. It got his attention, because he did an emergency swerve at the last minute with the Ural, and managed to avoid hitting the truck. Luckily, a gas station with convenience store was just past this point, and we stopped so we could collect ourselves and so Kay could have a break.
We nommed a Coke, some teriyaki beef jerky and some honey roasted peanuts, and had a little walk around with the dogs. I asked Kay if he wanted to stop in this town, as we’d passed several motels and clearly he wasn’t feeling up to driving with his full attention. He answered that he wanted to push on until we found camping somewhere, and that he was feeling better after the stop. As we were packing up again, another gent came over to chat (it’s the Ural and the dogs – it really brings people up to chat!) and he told us he used to drive between Yarmouth and Halifax every other day, and that we really had to take the slightly more scenic route along the south shore. We’d already been planning on it, but it was nice to hear it reaffirmed!
Back on the road around 6pm, and I routed us toward the south shore with the idea that somewhere along the way, we’d likely find camping. We didn’t. And didn’t. And didn’t. Time was starting to not be on our side. Every exit, we checked the sign looking for indications of camping – but nothing. Eventually, we reached the town I’d been routing us toward, which my little moto ride guidebook indicated had camping… but there was no camping. It was a myth. There was one symbol on the exit sign that had been painted over blank, and I theorized that it looked like it had been a camping sign underneath – so probably the camping that used to be there was no longer available. We got gas, and headed back toward the highway hoping to see some camping along the way.
At one point, Kay spotted a sign for “cottages and camping” at the next left. The next left came, and it was the middle of nowhere. We rode for a minute or two and saw a sign that the “cottages and camping” place was 11km away. In the middle of nowhere.
One problem: we had our kitchen stuff, but no food to cook. And in the middle of nowhere, there would be no food we could acquire. It was around 7:15, so if we drove the 11km to the campground and there was no spot available (or if the campground had gone out of business) it would be practically dark by the time we got to the main road again. And there would be no food to be had, even if they did have a spot. So we made a quick decision to turn around and hope for a better spot. A few kilometers down the road, we did pass a restaurant – we had a quick conversation about how long it would take us to get takeout from the restaurant, and whether we could get back to the campground we’d passed before dark, and what we’d do if we got food and got to the campground and it no longer existed – and we decided the better choice was to just keep going.
Luckily, at around 7:30, we passed an exit that claimed to have camping! Huzzah! But we had to be fast because sunset was around 8, and we needed to move quick to get the tent up before dark. We drove toward town and didn’t see any sign of camping, so we pulled into the gas station and Kay asked the clerk. He told us to turn around and head back down the road, past the stop sign, and it would be on the left. We did. We saw no sign of camping. However, we did pass a sign that looked like some sort of government-y logo and it said “park.” Kay theorized that it might be a provincial park, and that it might have camping, so we turned around and headed toward it.
Success! It was The Islands Provincial Park, and the campground was pretty much empty so we more-or-less had the run of the place. We drove to a spot that the guy at the gate recommended, and it overlooked the water and was so, so pretty. And peaceful. None of the road noise from last night’s campground. Huzzah provincial park!
We quickly got the tent frame up, which requires two of us, and I pulled the stuff I’d need to populate the tent (sleeping bag, sleeping pads, my pillow, etc.) from the Ural so Kay could take it into town to look for food. I worked on setting the tent up (poorly – I’m out of practice as Kay usually sets the tent up) while it got very, very dark and Kay headed out to hunt down food. Far too long later (around 9 o’clock), I had just finished walking the dogs and was ready to head into the tent, and Kay arrived with food. It was Chinese. As it happened, the town that somehow supported 3 motels only had 4 restaurants, and 3 of them were closed at 8ish on a weeknight. The Chinese place was the only place open.
It was a measure of how exhausted we were that the food tasted FRIGGIN DELICIOUS when we started eating. By the time I had my fill, though, it had begun to taste like what it was – very mediocre Chinese food. My throat was very sore again, which it hadn’t been in days – but it was as bad as it had been on some of the bad days at home before we left for the trip. And Kay was exhausted. We started to writeup the day, but I was having trouble with my wireless keyboard disconnecting, and Kay was having trouble with importing photos from my camera, so I suggested (strongly) that we give it up and go to sleep.
By the time we had taken the dogs for the final walk, brushed our teeth and gotten things ready for bed, it was far too late – and we were exhausted.