Thru New Brunswick onto Prince Edward Island

Camper Church came late today, as the Grapevine 9:15 Service started at 11:15 Atlantic time. But, second week in a row the video streamed without issues, so there was no cussing at technology during church! As soon as the last word was said I was on the road toward PEI.

Four Rivers Brewery in Bathurst has a good reputation so, alas, I stopped in there for a taster flight on my way out of town. Each style was very good: the amber, the Belgian blonde, the American pale ale and the black IPA. Cool, friendly place too. Have I mentioned the people up here? 😀 I picked up a pint can each of the last two to go.

The drive across heavily forested northern New Brunswick was easy and enjoyable. I took the moose warning signs seriously, as they had 8′ x 12′ signs placed—no joke—about every 7 to 8 kilometers. Didn’t see any animals though, dang it.

West River, Cornwall PEI
West River, Cornwall PEI
West River, Cornwall PEI
West River, Cornwall PEI

A few hours later I was crossing the impressive, 8-mile Confederation Bridge onto Prince Edward Island. The island knows how to grow grass and fields of grain. Very colorful and nice to drive through. A short 20 minutes later I was setting up camp at the KOA on the beautiful blue West River which feeds into Northcumberland Strait. Having come further east in the time zone, the sun was already headed toward its resting place and the temps were falling from the low 70s of the afternoon toward the mid 50s. Good sleeping weather!

I originally thought I’d go into Charlottetown for dinner but decided to grill up a couple pork skewers and watch a movie. I’m here for four nights so there’s plenty of time to check out the doings in town, as well as the rest of the island. And I gotta carve out my Nova Scotia and Newfoundland (pronounce it like understand) plans. G’night Gracie!

Prince Edward Island

Allowing myself three full days on PEI, I decided to first drive the Central Coastal Route to get a feel for the island’s heart. This tourism-driven route provides an excellent sampling of both south and north coasts and takes in the country’s national park. What a pretty place! The roads wound their way through seaside fishing villages, over fertile farmlands, and across the cliffs and beaches of Prince Edward Island National Park.

Island Stone Pub, Kensington PEI
Island Stone Pub, Kensington PEI

About a third of my way into the course the route took me through Kensington, where I stopped into Island Stone Pub for excellent fish & chips and a Gahan 1772 IPA. When in PEI, make this restaurant a target for lunch or dinner. Good stuff!

As the day and route was winding down I visited Upstreet Craft Brewing in Charlottetown where I tasted a flight across their current tap lineup and visited with a couple friendly locals who gave me a few good tips on PEI and my upcoming adventure to Newfoundland. The Denovo III farmhouse Saison and Go Devil IPA were may favs. I’ll likely revisit this little brewery before leaving town!. . .

Tuesday I met up for lunch with a couple friends who live on the island and then headed downtown to check out Charlottetown. Cool town, lots of restaurants, shops, pubs and, yes, a couple breweries! Gahan’s Juicy IPA is a rare juicy IPA that isn’t over-the-top fruity—a four pointer. ‘Twas a good, easy day kicking around the streets of the island province’s capital city.

My last day on PEI I headed east to Cape Bear Lighthouse and Marconi Station. This station (built in 1881) was the first in Canada to hear the Titanic’s distress call in 1912. The lighthouse is still in operation.

I let B in the Box guide me to my next stop: Copper Bottom Brewing in picturesque Montague. I think she’s been to PEI before because it turns out she knows her way around the island’s backcountry roads. Beautiful drive on two lane, occasionally dirt, roads. Lots of patchwork reveal winter’s toll on the asphalt roads. But I enjoyed driving them, my truck feeling even nimble without the trailer in tow.

Back to Copper Bottom: got the best brews on the island overall. Especially liked Broadside pale ale and Parkman DIPA. Since the big IPA was an 8 percenter, I opted for the tamer Broadside to pair with the buffalo chicken wrap from Red’s Grill food truck across the street. Great 72 degree day for lunch on the brewery’s deck overlooking Main Street.

B in the Box, still in charge of getting us back across the island to Charlottetown, did a fine job and deposited us at PEI Brewing Company. I love a girl who knows what I like! 😜

I wrapped up the day back at camp, knocking out a load of laundry and prepping for an early departure in the morning. Prince Edward Island is a very friendly, beautiful place. I could live here—although I should probably get a taste of January thru April before climbing out on that limb, aye?

Next stop: northern Nova Scotia where I’ll drive the Cabot Trail, take in Cape Breton Island National Park and then jump off land for a 7-hour northern bound ferry ride to southwest Newfoundland. I’m still outbound on this trip, very much enjoying Canada’s Maritime Provinces!

Northeast Nova Scotia

Since I failed to get a ferry reservation from PEI to NS for my oversize rig, I retraced miles back to Confederation Bridge, heading south thru a short piece of New Brunswick then into Nova Scotia. Not a big deal; it was a wash in terms of time and a few bucks less than taking the ferry. Plus, I got to see more of NB and NS, as the interstate highway flowed across several rolling ridges of heavily forested and enjoyable mountains. Eventually, I crossed the causeway onto Cape Breton Island. Wow.

Big Spruce Brewery
Big Spruce Brewery
Cape Breton Highlands - Big Spruce Brewery
Cape Breton Highlands – Big Spruce Brewery

About 45 minutes into the island I saw a sign for Big Spruce Brewery and made a quick hard left onto an uphill road where I finagled the trailer into a precarious spot so I could check out the unexpected brewery’s goods. Like they say, good things come in unexpected packages. Or something like that. I do know that Big Spruce is may favoritist brewery of all times, all places. Seriously.  I know you’ve heard that before but I’m totally real serious this time. I just might move here. Yup.

The village of Baddeck is so cool, too. I’m only here one night and have reservations in the national park up north and then for the 7-hour ferry ride to Newfoundland already booked. But I’ll return here whenever I come back from NF. Seems the further I go into the Maritime Provinces, the more I like them in all aspects: geography, history, people. Cannot wait to see what the north cape of Nova Scotia has to offer!

Well, the north cape of the island—largely Cape Breton Highlands National Park—offers up much, Lots of much! I hope God has used some of this incredibly beautiful country as the blueprint for heaven. The Cabot Trail covers much of the highlands of this end of Nova Scotia. It’s a wonderful road (and in short sections, it’s a wretched road; more on that later). I’ve had the blessing of driving many wonderful roads the past few months. Can’t really believe it sometimes. Truly blessed! Thank you, God!

Cabot Trail leaves the community of Braddeck and quickly climbs, with concerning roadbed deterioration into the highlands of the island. Just a couple miles in I was sure every cabinet door was thrown open, spewing its contents into a sea of confusion on the trailer floor (Amy, sorry for any disturbing images of open cabinetry!). But in a few miles the pavement settled down and the drive became quite nice. I now understand how tough winters are on roads and why the two primary seasons up north are winter and construction.

The seaside community of Chéticamp just south of the national park is so cool. Very picturesque; could spend a couple days just looking at the Saint Lawrence Gulf, enjoying the smells of the water. Within a couple kilometers of entering the park there was a small black bear foraging alongside the road. Also so cool. As I continued along the coastal route, I pulled into a few overlooks, talked with a few people, just enjoying the day. Beautiful day.

Skyline Trail is a highlight of the park that crosses a huge headland bluff. I took the 5+ mile loop trail that wound through wind-scoured forests and highland mesas. Didn’t see any moose, though there were plenty of signs they were in the area; it was a great walk in the park!

Hike done, I headed eastward toward my campsite. Cabot Trail continued to delight with its incredible views, and it continued to confound with its sometimes steep and twisty sections—sometimes very steep and very twisty sections! I was thankful for the heft of my F250, especially on the downhills. Man, some of them were intimidating. When I arrived at the KOA in Sydney the rep in the office remarked about hauling a 35′ foot trailer around the Cabot Trail… was impressed. I never felt in danger but there were many sections where I drove the centerline of the roadway because the shoulders were essentially craters. The road definitely required diligence.

Cabot Trail is another of the world’s great coastal routes and despite the tough driving at times, I enjoyed the three days circling northeast Nova Scotia. On to Newfoundland for a week before returning to lower Nova Scotia!