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Archive for the ‘Cycle Touring’ Category

A Bicycle, Dog, and Joy

 

Traveling by bicycle is an unassuming entrée into the world of other people. Add a small, shy but friendly dog, and I have the perfect combination for meeting people from all walk of life and getting to know Honolulu.

Zander Park BikeThis time, I am using a Brompton folding bicycle that, when folded, slips into a suitcase within typical airline baggage requirements. It also accommodates the “BuddyRider” or dog seat between the bicycle seat and handlebars where Zander rides. The short cranks make hills challenging, but if we are defeated Zander gets a short walk and break from riding! It is smaller than a “full-sized bicycle,” so there are challenges in transporting small appliances or furniture, Zander and groceries, or paddle and gear for canoeing. With ingenuity, it has all been managed, and I am reminded of Susan B. Anthony’s evaluation of bicycling giving “women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel…the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.”

Bicycling allows me to keep Zander fit as he runs alongside when it is safe or the Honolulu Bicycle Lanetemperatures are cool enough. When time is of the essence or traffic is crazy, I pop him in the seat and move at a faster pace. Ruffwearʻs Swamp Cooler vest extends the time Zander can enjoy the day. A number of stores allow dogs–so he accompanies me to Home Depot, Don Quixoteʻs, and other places if he sits quietly in the carts! He is learning his manners as he waits outside when I pick up food–and then off to a nearby park for a picnic. The King Street bicycle path reminds me of Copenhagen–and we cover substantial distance for all our errands: credit union, pet store, grocery store, bicycle store, and other necessary stops in safety.

And, of course, moving slowly and together allows us to meet people along the way. Zander’s “smile” while walking often elicits comments or questions about his linneage; the elderly Japanese man who walks his daughters dogs loves to talk to Zander and share a “high five”; the woman groundskeeper at the school bows deeply toPrescious say good morning; the elderly couple who have their breakfast on the lanai have just begun to ask how are we doing; and the grade three girl at the farmer’s market who loves dogs holds Zander while I order dinner. Precious is the “resident mama” of the apartment complex. She is pregnant and has recently become infatuated with Zander!!! The three cats, on the other hand, seem not so interested!

Bicycles are relatively plentiful in Honolulu–parents with trail-gator bikes or chariots, for children, families on a series of bicycles, people commuting to work or school, the classic cruiser bikes, fixies, bmx, and of course the serious cycle racers. As in many places, bicycling is a process of being “out in the open”–pedestrian and cyclists waiting at lights often say high, drivers giving way or accepting your offer to go ahead, or someone noticing Zander on the bike. Given how dense Honolulu is, I always find it easier and quicker to maneuver on a bike compared to the traffic, parking structures, or lack of parking spaces. And with courtesy and consideration for pedestrians, no one seems to mind if I ride on the sidewalks.

RainbowAs part of our daily routine, Zander and I walk or bicycle-run early in the morning or evening when the the temperatures are coolest and rain is likely to fall in short bursts or mists that cool. We seek new routes to discover old cemetaries, ranges of housing designs, and local haunts such as Yama’s Fish Market and their delicious Kalua pork, poke and haupia. Three guys provided an impromptu ukulele concert while we ate lunch in Honolulu Stadium State Park. People from all walks of life share their lives whether in fragments or life histories. Honolulu and the people within become mapped onto Zander and I and we become enmeshed into these currents. A passing park, stream, memory shared, helping hand, or glimpses of cattle egrets, red-crested cardinal, or shama grace our lives.

 

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In the verdant Hawaiian valleys, a balance must be struck betweeen removing invasive species and epiphytes and supporting native and food bearing species while providing space to wander amongst them. It takes time to understand the relationships since an “invasive” species might, in a particular instance, enable a native species to thrive. This was the world I entered in a small patch of tropical flora behind a friend’s house in Pauoa Valley. Lychee trees supporting avocado trees; bamboo forests obscuring ancient trails; vines swirling around trees and plants on their way to the sun. To enhance the health of this small patch required daily attention.

So, careful observation, listening to multiple stories, and taking time before action is a wise course of action. A great metaphor for moving to a new place, adjusting to a new climate, starting a new project, or learning to play at a dog park! August is a not month in Hawaiʻi–tropical storms bring rain and cool winds followed by “dead” air and heat. We are up early (5:30 a.m.) to enjoy a cool morning walk or run. Then Zander wilts and hides beneath my desk under the cooling breeze of fan until late afternoon. I find time to work or do errands–slowly adjusting to the heat or running in and out of air conditioned stores or offices.

Each day, I have accomplished one or two tasks of arranging my life in Hawaiʻi: thereʻs the bank account, state identification, bus pass, locating farmerʻs markets, desk lamps, getting registered for language classes, and finding agility classes. It is amazing how the heat saps my strength and the time it takes to find a place even on a bicycle. On the other hand, it is amazing how many helpful people I meet, how fragrant the flowers are, how

Zander and Jackson

Zander and New Friend

many birds and animals are present in the middle of the city, and how cooling the rains are.

Then, the sun sinks and the temperatures drop. A group of women and their dogs show up at the dog park next to our apartment at 6:30 p.m. Zander is slowly learning to “play” with the other dogs rather than constantly jostle for dominance. Yet, each night as we return, the relationship slowly morphs into new forms of play and enjoyment. Other evenings we go for bike rides around town–he in his seat on the bike.

Iʻve met with the director of the Institute for Hawaiian Language Research and Translation. In addition, I attended a symposium on their translation project with the Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives. They are translating a collection of letters from the aliʻi or members of the ruling class of Kanaka ʻŌiwi (Native Hawaiians) that are part of the Mission Housese archives. The panel was simply amazing; each had been translating specific letters that supported dissertations, books, or journal articles. The perspectives and insights are radically different from the classic American historical perspectives. As much as I was excited and intrigued, it was daunting as well.

The daily routines of walking Zander plus walking or bicycling as my primary mode of transportation has been a blessing. Not only do they all allow me to pay close attention to my surroundings–the various birds, slugs, cats, mongoose, flowers, plants, cacti as well

Hawaiian House

Hawaiian hipped-roof, wooden plank house, lava rock foundation

as meet interesting people, notice how many people (drivers and pedestrians alike) who are generous and courteous, variations of architecture, wondrous gardens, and much more. All of this brings home the transitory nature of life–the older buildings giving way to the environment, dying flower petals on the ground. Each of these have a beauty of their own and a reminder of the wisdom in allowing things to follow their own lifespan. And finally, negotiating traffic as well as life requires movement and balance.

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Every journey has a secret destination of which the traveller is unaware. Martin Buber

Doldrums come from historical maritime language that refers to parts of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans where the prevailing winds are calm. This calmness or lack of winds is often seen as a depression, listlessness, or stagnation. But I am left wondering if that is a Western bias favouring action, goal setting, decisiveness, and fear of “sitting with” uncertainty and not knowing. Even as I was hoping this trip would provide a “turning point” for my 65th birthday, a direction for the last years of my academic career, and a sketch of retirement opportunities, the route sailed into the doldrums. There were no neat beginnings and endings, and life slipped in and out of the trip with no clear narrative. Uhmmm!!

Although I feel no clarity or enlightenment at this moment, a Zen story captures my sense of comfort with being in the doldrums:

Dizang, an esteemed teacher, asked Fayan, “Where are you going?”
Fayan said, “I am wandering aimlessly.”
“Dizang inquired: What do you think of wandering?”
“I do not know,” responded Fayan.
“Not knowing is most intimate,” observed Dizang.
Fayan was suddenly awakened. (Case 20 paraphrased from The Book of Equanimity)

As a professor and scholar, I am “supposed” to know things, but what is it to deeply and profoundly admit that I do not know? And what is this great intimacy of not having to know? To simply wander and touch the texture of life without knowing or imposing a goal, model or theory—to be open, attentive and curious about what appears?

Even as a bicycle trip follows roads and highways, the freedom of a self-supported trip without fixed destinations and deadlines parallels sailing or kayaking. I was always drifting off course—a little to the starboard, shifting to port, always correcting, adjusting, refining. Stops were longer to adjust for Zander, the weather, or my health. And, as in life, there was no “true” endpoint—life, goals, and bicycle trips are always adapting and adjusting.

So, the final weeks in Nova Scotia included resting and dealing with the rebellion of my gastrointestinal track, renting a Jeep Cherokee to get the bicycle, trailer, gear, Zander and I to Halifax, and a changed to come home earlier.

Self-supported bicycle trips, for me, are magical because they combine the meditative pace of a repetitive movement that allows me to be attentive moment-by-moment, opportunities to step out of my comfort zone, preconceptions challenged, and different ecological, cultural and social systems to explore. And this trip I had Zander along to learn about his personality, quirks, and preferences while working with him to wait patiently and sleep properly in a sleeping bag (not likely!).

The patterns of cycle travel can positively shift daily life at home:

Focus on the joy of each moment. The journey was lighter and more enjoyable when I was focused pedalling one stroke at a time, enjoying the aromas of the world (Zander taught me this one—especially since he rolls in them and I get to revisit them at night when he wants to cuddle!), focusing on what was around me right in the moment rather than the end of the day.

Hills/Problems look bigger from a distance. And even when they are big or steep, they are travelled one pedal stroke at a time, in a lower gear, or by walking Zander (which he and I loved).

Minimal space and things makes a journey joyful. It is always difficult to gauge the gear necessary for a trip, especially when responsible for another living being. Several times, I had to re-evaluate and ask the right question: Can we survive without this piece of equipment? The lighter the load, the easier the movement, the less tired we were, and the more joyous the travel.

You can’t control anything. When things go wrong or not as expected or new opportunities arise, as they inevitably do, responses such as frustration, anger, depression, or rushing in to “fix it” are usually unhelpful at best. The theme for the trip was patience or “wait and see”—a marvellous strategy because in most cases I was not in control of anything. More valuable strategies were grabbing a drink or snack, walking Zander, relaxing a few minutes, or sleeping on it. This stepping backwards provided a larger horizon to evaluate whether we needed to change or stay the course, allowed multiple solutions to emerge, and a comfort that everything has a way of working itself out. What was once considered a loss in the end simply felt like a change or a transition.

In the final analysis, kilometres don’t really matter. The original route was very ambitious and included many more kilometres. However, there is no right path or route, only the one we choose. The journey was filled with many grand adventures, great people, and wonderful experiences. I have dreamed of doing a bicycle trip with Zander for some years, and it came true. Our pace was the right pace.

Laughter makes everything better. No amount of complaining or critique changes things. Laughter lightens the atmosphere and makes the riding easier. This was especially true around Zander. When I got angry or frustrated at anything, Zander felt it as directed toward him—ears back and body closer to the ground. He was a great teacher for me to change my attitude!! And sure enough, the events were funny and it was just another event in our day.

Two very specific lessons for cycling were:
The joy of bicycle touring is in the riding—the sites, the tourist destinations are less important than the journey and the riding. The journey is in the moments—they are what counts, where joy lies. Cyclist-in-motion allows the land to shape the cyclist’s body and soul. Although I was delighted to see Cape Breton by car, I missed the visceral connection with the land itself. That’s where the learning and heart lies.

Always be suspicious of someone in a motorized vehicle who tells you the destination is not far. There is a radical difference in how cyclists and people who drive motorized vehicles perceive space, time, and distance. At least in Nova Scotia, few people could actually provide accurate estimates of objective measures of distance or time. So, typically, no matter what there estimates were, we were usually in for several more hours of cycling.

I am still puzzling over the “secret destination” of this trip. I found no answers, no certainty around how to plan the last years of my time at the university or what retirement might hold within this trip. On the other hand, I found a comfort in drifting and simply following the road where it led me—and an ease in living more simply with less.

So, I am home waiting for my bicycle to catch up with us. Fortunately, I have a little folding bicycle in the meantime to keep me commuting. The one thing about bicycle touring is that it makes driving a car seem strange and “a hassle.” I appreciate the comfort and ease of settling into bicycling in the city.

I have a sense that I have been reshaped by loss, chronic health conditions, and life’s transitions, placed at crucial junctions between uncertainty and endurance—which may be a pragmatist’s version of hope. And hope, for me, is not an emotion or feeling but a movement—like pedalling one stroke after another up a long hill—and the simple movement eventually brings me to the top of the hill, to the next campsite, to the next idea, to the next day, to a type of resolution that allows the next adventure to come into existence. And, like bicycling, once I gain some momentum it begins to carry me further than I had expected.

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The trip to Blomidon Provincial Park made clear that cycling with Zander’s seat was hard on the knees and the hills of Cape Breton were simply not possible. In addition, the set up of the trailer was not appropriate for the Surly Troll design. Sooo—I rented a car, and Zander and I took off for a driving tour. The comparison of bicycle and car touring provided many insights.

Even as I drove up from Truro, the landscape began to change, and the hills became more longer and steeper. I was consistently evaluating each section “as if” I would ride it as a cyclist. Even though the hills on the Cabot Trail are much more challenging, simply getting to Cape Breton from Truro would test a cyclist resolve. When we passed several bicycle tourers, I was flooded with a longing to be on the bicycle, pedaling slowly up each of those hills. I am not sure how to explain how the process of cycling through the landscape changes the way a cyclist views the world, shapes the cyclist’s body and understanding of the world, and becomes addictive as a way of movement. Furthermore, as I would discover, it also shapes how people interact with Zander and I. However, the hills would have been murder on my knees, so it was a wise choice to drive. The landscape is gorgeous, and the rains had turned it very green. But driving allowed for few opportunities to stop and take pictures until we got over the causeway and on the Ceilidh Trail.

Christy's Look-Off Ceilidh Coastal Trail

Zander Collects Aromas

Collecting Scents

We stopped at the first turn-out and viewpoint which paralleled a bicycle-walking-ATV trail. Zander and I walked a fair distance along the path. While I took photos, Zander collected scents from each place we stopped! I am hoping to have him bathed and groomed before we fly home!! We will only see a small portion of Cape Breton that highlights the magnificent scenery.

However, the island is dotted with reminders of its resource extractive industries: the Troy Quarry we passed just west of the causeway that has left a huge scar on the land, clear-cutting patches, signs indicating old gold mines, the coal mines that once existed near Sydney, and sites of old settlements that were established for logging or mining purposes now wilderness sites along the Cabot Trail.

Our first campsite was at Cheticamp Campground within the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. We went in to town to get a lobster dinner “to go,” because it was too hot to leave Zander in the car. I ordered the smallest lobster (2.5 pounds) and thought the woman said they would crack it, but couldn’t provide any other utensils for getting the meat out. Well, she had actually said they wouldn’t crack it—and 2.5 pounds of lobster is a lobster bigger than I have ever seen!! Seriously—that is a lot of lobster!! But my faithful Swiss Army knife came to the rescue! It was neither elegant nor pretty, but I got every bit of that lobster meat out! And it was delicious. Of course, Zander got some (minus the butter) and thought it was good too!

The next morning, we were up early. One of the wardens stopped us, because she had found a beautiful white dog with a red T-shirt wondering loose in the campground. We had not seen it before. We walked through the campground hoping to meet someone looking for a dog, but no such luck. As we left, we stopped at the warden station to leave some food. Fortunately, the owner had arrived. They had come in late, and the person who had attached the leash had attached it incorrectly. The T-shirt was covering a scar healing from surgery. It had been the longest 15 minutes of the woman’s life. What a great way to start the morning!

Cheticamp Rocks

 

 

 

Lobster Boat Retrieving Traps

We saw the fishing boats out, so I pulled over and we walked along a small beach. The boats were coming back in to retrieve lobster traps. We stayed awhile to watch them move along their lines and allow Zander to dip his paws into the water. Then, up and around the northern tip; we stopped at most of the viewpoints.

Fishing Cove

Fishing Cove

My favorite was Fishing Cove, which lies 335 metres below MacKenzie Mountain. This lonely spot was a thriving Scottish settlement that fished for cod and lobster and farmed with a lobster cannery. By 1915, the descendants of these pioneer families had all moved to neighboring communities. Today, this site is now a wilderness campsite accessible by an 8 km hiking trail. I only wished we had the gear and time to enjoy the site!

Before we knew it, we were at Baddeck. I was amazed at the difference in how much distance and how little time it took with the car. But I was saddened that it was bereft of conversations, smells, a sense of being shaped by the landscape. Baddeck is a small town and clearly focused on tourism–lots of B&Bs, resorts, a few restaurants, the classic restaurants and cafes, and the typical Home Hardware and Co-op Grocery Store. The weather had turned hot (+28 C), leaving Zander in the car was not an option, and few places had shade for parking. Because my gut wasn’t feeling so good, I opted for the cheapest room in Baddeck that would take a dog–the Inverary Resort and Spa. It was okay, but this traveling is so different and doesn’t allow for meeting people. Without pulling up on a bicycle with gear, people simply serve you. As I walked to our room, I passed an older gentleman sitting in a car, door open, head almost between his knees. I asked if he was okay. He seemed annoyed, almost angry, when I expressed concern.The etiquette and connection between people is just different in these other zones of travel.

All of these experiences led me to contemplate what I truly enjoyed about traveling–especially bicycle travel. Would joining a Freewheeling tour be enjoyable? Would a custom tour work? What is so appealing about traveling alone with all my gear? Could it be modified? If so, how? Do I enjoy seeing all the historical sites, museums, etc? But I am sure that I do enjoy the act of cycling the landscape and the exposure to the land with all of its smells, ups and downs, weather, etc. There is something about that process that changes how I relate to the world, know that part of the land, and come to understand myself and the people there.

Zander Waterfall Maritime ChairThe next morning, we left Baddeck headed for Wolfville. First, we stopped at Black Brook beach before it got too hot. It was a great place to take a walk up along the Black Brook, more like a river, along the beach, and up and through the coastal trail. We could see the river running into the sea, the fresh water mingling with the sea water, and the tides pushing back on the river currents. We walked along the coastal trail and some side trails to get better views of Black Brook Beach and the waterfall–including Zander sitting on an Adirondack chair to enjoy the view. Zander also had great fun collecting all the different scents, chasing squirrels and chipmunks, and generally sniffing.

A little further down the road, we also checked out Whycocomagh Provincial Park. Although I was glad I had opted for the motel, this would have been a great campground. And oh the squirrels and chipmunks!! Even though it was hot, we spent a fair amount of time scaring up squirrels and chipmunks as we explored the campground and trails, saw the yurts, and talked with people who were staying there. Zander even scared up a whole bunch of grouse. The mother grouse froze, standing tall like a stick. Zander went slowly a little closer, but when he realized it wasn’t a squirrel, he turned back. She flew up into the low branches of a tree to join her brood.

We stopped in Windsor, just shy of Wolfville, for the night. The next day, we drove into Wolfville just before Sue and John took off for Prince Edward Island. It was a quick trip, and I’m glad we went. Even as I felt the tug of the pedals with each bicycle tourer, the lack of pain in my knees tells me it was a wise decision.

 

 

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Blomidon Provincial Park

Backroad to BlomidonOne of the areas I wanted to visit while in Nova Scotia was Blomidon Provincial Park. It lies approximately 20 kilometres north of Wolfville, 600 feet above the water, and provides magnificent views across the bay. Although not a long distance, it can be challenging especially the last climb and switchbacks up to the park. Fortunately, I was able to leave some gear with friends in Wolfville. Zander and I cycled through fields of corn, strawberries, and vegetable gardens, pastures with cows and pigs, and views of the bay—or should I say the mud flats since the tide was out. Since I am now at the “head” of the Bay of Fundy, the difference in the tides can be 15 metres or 50 feet; it has the highest tides in the world. The height is impressive, but I find the changes in the “width of beach” the most impressive. At times, I looked out and could no longer see where the water created a shoreline!

The cycle up to the park was done on a bright, warm, sunny day. The park is at the top of an incredibly steep hill. However, the last six kilometres also have some hefty rolling hills. A father-son team in those last six kilometres passed me. Their steady pace seemed quite fast and strong, so I thought they might have made it up the hill. They were able to go further up than I, but even they were reduced to walking with a loaded bike. The father thought his son might be able to do it without a load, but he and I felt confident neither one of us could do it even without a load!!

Blomidon View

But all the effort was worth it!! The park is 600 feet above the water and provides magnificent views across the bay. There are about 14 kilometres of hiking trails through woodlands, “bog-like” areas with lots of ferns, and access to the beach. When the tide is out, you can walk quite the distance into the bay. In addition, we were early in the season, so the squirrels were quite brave, and Zander enjoyed chasing them back up into the trees. And the small, black rabbits were so cute and allowed us to get quite close. Zander is relatively quiet and calm around rabbits, because our favourite pet store in Edmonton has rabbits for pets. Zander goes in quite gently to great his pal each time we buy food!

The wind came up in the late afternoon—and boy does it blow at the top of the cliffs!! It was a good thing that I had staked the tent well, because the sides of the tent were blown in and the fly fluttered madly! And the night sky was clear so the stars once again shone in the sky!! It is such a delight to be able to see them so clearly.

The day we left Blomidon, it rained—and rained quite hard. The rain cape came out, and Zander was quite soaked for some time!! Since the temperatures were warm, the rain did not make us feel cold, although Zander is never fond of getting wet. And even though there were some tough hills on the way home, it took us less time to make the trip back to Wolfville.

That evening, Sue and John took us to the Wolfville farmer’s market for dinner. You pay $10.00 and get 5-$2.00 coupons, a plate with salad and bread. The coupons go for buying food from local vendors. The choices were a pork slider, Moroccan food, Indian samosas and pakoras, Italian pasta, German schnitzel, vegetarian fare, and gelato. It is every Wednesday during the summer, I believe—and quite the social affair. It was a great ending to two days of solid, challenging bicycling and hiking.

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Wolfville

Wolfville is home to Acadia University and was my initial introduction to the Canadian Congress of Leisure Research–the Canadian academic conference for leisure scholars–when I began my career as a professor at the University of Manitoba. Susan, a retired colleague, and her husband, John, invited me to stay. In addition, they introduced me to the bicycle mechanics at The Stove and Cycle Shop.

Wolfville is a small, university town with a great local farmer’s market, theatre, music hub, and various types of B&Bs. The harbour–the world’s smallest registered harbour in the world–is deeply affected by the Fundy tides. The day I walked down to the harbour, there were only mud flats, and I could not see where the land met the water. When the tide comes in, the harbour will once again be navigable even though not used much any more.

I was relieved and vindicated to know that I had adjusted the hydraulic brakes correctly, but the trailer that rides on the quick release was pulling the disc out of alignment. Unfortunately, even the creative solutions were not possible given lack of lock washers. We were able to sort-of zip tie the quick release in place, but if I have a flat the zip tie must be cut, and I face the same situation. The constant pull on the quick release going uphills and the thumps on the downhill given misalignment all risk major damage to the bike, Zander or me!

In addition, the misalignment of the knees to accommodate Zander’s seat is beginning to cause pain and discomfort especially after four days of riding every day. Larger hills are simply not possible. Although I don’t mind walking, it slows us down making it difficult to ensure being at a campground or dog-friendly motel/B&B.

So, Wolfville marks a major decision point. I will do a side trip to Blomidon Provincial Park leaving as much gear as possible with John and Sue. Since there is an Enterprise car rental office in New Minas, I am going to rent a car for a weekend and car-camp with Zander through parts of Cape Breton. A friend in Halifax will come and pick up gear, Zander and his seat so I can cycle with knees in alignment and get the bicycle back to Halifax.

 

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We left Bridgetown relatively early and stopped at the Eggplant Cafe for breakfast. It’s typical of small places along the route–I had read about it in a tourism promotion, but had trouble finding it–the cafe is in a little building near the library with no sign! Good thing I had looked up the exact address or I would have missed it entirely. Great egg with bacon, mushrooms, sprouts and other vegetable sandwich with a great cup of coffee!

We headed back to Highway 201 and Middleton. We had some pretty steep hills which were great opportunities to allow Zander to walk and sniff for critters–especially the chipmunks! Part of the challenge is that my rear brake keeps  making strange sounds and bumpy sensations on the downhills. I have adjusted it several times, but I think the trailer keeps torquing the frame.

The day was overcast and windy but no rain; the road has light traffic and wanders through farm country. Passed a number of small family or village cemeteries along the way before eventually seeing the huge regional cemetery. The smaller ones were older headstones dating to the 1700s in certain cases and seemed to be all one family or a very small community. The road meanders past corn and potato fields, vineyards, large gardens of beans and peas, horse farms, cows, sheep, and dog kennels.

I love the older architecture, whether large barns, carriage houses, or houses. The houses have vividly trimmed in reds, blues and purples that reminds me of fancy gingerbread houses at Christmas. Yards include manicured lawns, vegetable and flower gardens, and endless stacks of wood. There seemed to be a transition from pottery-like figurines of children or women to chainsaw sculptures of fishermen, bears and eagles as I got closer to Wolfville.

We stopped at one house that must have covered a half acre of various types of gardens, a couple of ponds, benches to rest on, and birds all over the place. All of this created by an older woman over decades. What a gem for a rest and bite to eat.

I loved the Eden Golf and Country Club and it’s play on Eden and heaven!! It seemed to come out of nowhere, but was quite the golf course from what I could see. Of course, I have never understood the fascination with chasing small white balls around the countryside.

Middleton, about 3o kilometres of cycling from Bridgetown, is a larger village–both a Foodland and Save Easy and Rona and Home Hardware! Not that any of them look like they are doing booming business. The selection is really narrow and lots of challenges to keep my diet gluten-free. Beans and rice with some meat are becoming the favorite along this section–with store-made salads. We are staying at the Middleton Hotel Suites. A motel built in the 1960s by my guess. We are in the back units which haven’t had any upgrades–dark curtains and rugs, stale odor, can outside for smokers. I have been amazed at how many people of all ages smoke in these small towns. Owners quite nice and accommodating. At least it is well under $100 which is hard to find in the Annapolis Valley. We cooked our beans and rice on the camp stove outside the room alongside the construction workers who brought major gas barbeques!

Discovered my first tick! It was one of the larger ticks not the Deer ticks who carry Lyme disease. I was hoping Zander would keep me safe. His medication kills the ticks when they bite him. Guess this one went right for me!! Oh joy!

Continued on the next morning passing more orchards and signs indicating the farms were established in the 1700 and 1800s. It’s still early for getting food from local food stands, but the fields clearly foreshadow the crops to come. As I got closer and closer to Greenwood, the site of Canada’s largest air force base, the housing begins to look more standardized, military-like at times. Found a pet store for Zander’s food and pressed on toward Kingston. Unfortunately, all pet-friendly places were filled, but the Pillowcase Bed and Breakfast in Berwick had a room. They were on their way to drop off grandchildren in Lower Sackville, so they arranged for me to get in and have a shower. Then, Zander and I sat on the deck for awhile, took a walk, watched local soccer games, saw a huge dairy barn with the cows already in for the night, and observed how Lamb’s Farm was using some land for conservation measures.

Doug and Lorraine returned around 8 p.m. when I discovered they had lived and worked in Alberta and only owned the B&B for about 3 years. The house was built in 1848 and is located on 7 acres. They have a great garden where the strawberries were already huge on the vines. They also have a small flock of chickens, which Zander was fascinated with. I didn’t let him get too close, and as we walked away, the chickens came to the fence and watched us walk the perimeter of the yard! Not only did Lorraine cook an incredible breakfast but then gave me a tour of Berwick and Harbourville while we waited for the worst of the rain to pass.

We left in a drizzle which disappeared as we turned on to Highway 221. It is a very beautiful route through more farmland with smaller communities with only one store to hold its centre. I stopped at Henry and Kristin’s place in Woodville. They are part of the Warmshowers group that provides a bed or camping for other cycle tourists. I have hosted cyclists, but never stayed. Unfortunately, I needed to get to Wolfville for the bike shop, so I was just stopping in to say hi. They generously gave me a tour of the farm and invited me for lunch. Their 6-month old Blue Healer, Lucy, did her best to get Zander to play with her, but only sporadically would he engage. The lunch was great and mostly local food–and it turned out to be a god-sent to get me to Wolfville. They moved in to the farm last September and are envisioning it as a working farm, B&B, and educational centre to learn about various farming skills. Currently they have someone working with them from the Woofing program!

Just as we left their place, it began to rain again–not heavy but Zander is unimpressed with the rain at the best of times. The road was relatively quiet with good visibility even with grey skies. We did get to Kentville and Wolfville right at rush hour, so we had to walk several points given the lack of shoulder and traffic. Arrived safe and sound to stay with friends in Wolfville.

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