Chapter 6: Quebec City and the Eastern Townships

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve had thoughts that I’d like to write a beginner’s handbook for cycle touring. My first few tips will be;

1. Don’t aim to do what everyone else is doing.

2. Don’t be ashamed of public transport, if you aren’t enjoying a section then skip it!

3. Get used to the constant smell of roadkill.

We were feeling quite tired after New Brunswick and decided to take a bus to Quebec City, skipping about 600km and overtaking a couple of trans-Canada cyclists we knew were just a couple of days ahead of us. I was disappointed not to catch them by pedal power, but the decision to take the bus dominoed in to us having more mental and physical energy to really enjoy Quebec.

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Our lasting impressions of each province has mostly been influenced by the people we have met, and this was especially true for Quebec. Rather than describe our journey through this wonderful French-Canadian province by the places we went to, I’ll do so by the wonderful French-Canadians we met along the way.

Jonathan and Vanessa

We met Jonathan and Vanessa on the Cabot Trail and they’d told us to get in touch when we knew we’d be in Quebec City as they could give us a place to stay. Due to the decision to take the bus, we gave Jonathan 24 hours notice and he was still awesome enough to meet us off the bus and direct us to his apartment. We arrived deflated but relieved, and we were able to stay in Jonathan’s downtown Quebec City apartment for two nights, relaxing and doing laundry, and sharing dinner and rooftop beers with the two of them.

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Quebec is a French speaking province so we tried to mine our memories and practice our rusty high school French. The city itself is beautiful, clean and welcoming and expands from a fortified old town with wonderful architecture and delicious cafes. We wondered around for two days, taking in the Notre Dame, Chateau Frontenac, Plains d’Abraham and the farmers market where I’d have what at the time was the most delicious cake I’d ever had. More on that later.

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Francine and Jean

In our efforts to relax but explore, we decided to head to Ile d’Orleans in Quebec City harbour. The bridge over is just north east of the old town, so we arranged a warmshowers for near there. As they are not on a main cycle touring route, Francine and Jean only get one or two guests a year through warmshowers so our stay with them felt really special. They are a pair of geologists, and among other trips have spent 3 months cycling in Japan. They also have an amazing doglike cat called Hanzo who loved to sniff everything including my face in the middle of the night. We had a great evening with them and were spoilt with baguette, cheese, wine and BBQ’d chicken.

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They lived near the Montmorency waterfalls so we set off for there in the morning before heading to the island. Quebec City has great cycle paths and we were able to follow them all the way to the falls. We had originally planned for a little swim, but as we began to hear the falls from afar we realised this probably wasn’t a good idea.

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The bridge to Ile d’Orleans is impressive but quite terrifying to cross by bike even with no wind. There was construction going on which meant we had to walk over, and seeing the workmen hanging over the side really gave me the willies. We were hit by the smell of strawberries as soon as we crested the steep hill after the bridge, and knew we’d enjoy our two days here.

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We’d planned an overnight about halfway around the 66km island so took our time stopping at view points, chocolate shops and roadside strawberry stands. Ile d’Orleans is famous for it’s strawberries and once you taste them it’s easy to know why. I felt very fortunate to be there in the height of the season and relished in the cheap bulk buy.

Marc and Madeleine

We headed for St Jean and arrived with Marc and Madeleine in the late afternoon sun. We were gifted with a private corner of their garden and my favourite camp spot of the trip so far. We set up with a view over the St Lawrence river, dipped our legs in the water and spent the evening (and next morning) eating strawberries, reading and relaxing. It felt like a little slice of heaven.

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We set off feeling refreshed and cycled around the northeast of the island, which I thought was even more beautiful. We were surrounded by rolling farmland and had the Quebec hills in the background, just beautiful! We took our time, stopping at the cheese shop and enjoying the sunshine.

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Francine and Jean (again)

Unfortunately the heat got to my head a bit and although we were supposed to meet Pete from the Newfoundland ferry in the city, I called Francine and Jean to see if they minded hosting us again as I wasn’t feeling great. They kindly said they would so we headed back there and I had a nap with Hanzo while Kirsty went to meet Pete. Again we were spoilt with a delicious dinner and laughter, and we left the next day feeling like old friends.

Mario

We had a few options of where to go from Quebec and I was really keen to explore more than just the direct, obvious route to Montreal… especially as we’d taken the bus. Kirsty wasn’t keen on heading north as we’d have to double back on ourselves, so we decided to organise a workaway on a farm in southern Quebec and take 4 days to get there, taking in the Eastern townships on the way.

We planned to set off early, but the rain had other ideas. This was a blessing in disguise as Francine was able to take us to the supermarket to stock up on things and we had time to meet my uni friend Jillian for coffee who just so happened to be in Quebec City.

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The rain cleared around lunch time, so we took the short ferry over the St Lawrence and followed the cycle path towards Sainte Marie where we had (another) warmshowers organised. We met another cyclist on the way and as we got chatting realised that, as he was heading to New Brunswick, we were going the wrong way. So we turned back around, got a bit more lost, but eventually found ourselves out of suburbia and in quiet farmland heading in the right direction. The cycle path took us alongside a weaving river and the landscape was really pretty.

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After almost 80km we arrived in Sainte Marie in the early evening and again were warmly welcomed by Mario. He and his wife had cycled trans-Canada in 2013, and had since cycled both USA coasts as well as some Europe trips. He was so passionate about bike travel and it was so special to hear about his experiences and favourite places. As would be the theme with the rest of our hosts in Quebec, we were his second warmshowers guest and it made the stay feel like a real event.

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Mario cooked us a delicious BBQ and in the morning made fresh croissants. We loved hearing more stories of cycling mishaps, and were in tears of laughter as he told of the time he got caught in a cycle path barrier after arriving at speed thinking he’d fit through, but instead getting his rear panniers caught and going over the handlebars…While his bike stayed upright and his feet stayed clipped to the pedals.

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Francois and Aude

Mario joined us for the first 10km of our cycle and we both felt a bit sad saying goodbye. We’d planned our destination for the night based on another warmshowers location, so made our way south towards Thetford Mines. The cycle was mostly uneventful, quite hilly but mostly quiet and pretty. We had a couple of rain showers and headwind, but nothing we hadn’t encountered before. We were able to link up with some cycle paths here and there, and “admire” the asbestos mountains dominating the area.

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After around 80km we started to get quite tired, and the road to Francois and Aude’s felt never ending. We were following Google maps but as the road got hillier and windier and eventually became gravel, we were kind of exhausted. The pinnacle was having to push our bikes up a gravel hill one at a time! But as we turned in to Francois and Aude’s house, our feeling instantly changed. We were greeted by Aude’s mum and soon realised we had arrived to a family party to celebrate Aude’s sister’s imminent new baby.

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We were invited to sleep in the cabin in the woods at the bottom of their garden, and after an amazing swim in the river were invited to join them for dinner. We were surrounded by a French speaking family, but the love and laughter they shared kept us included and they all made a massive effort to talk to us in English…Again making us ashamed of our lack of French. We spent the evening eating, drinking and chatting by the fire… Perfection.

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I had my heart set on a mountain in the south east corner of Quebec, but it became apparent that we weren’t going to make it down there. So we decided to change our plans, do a shorter day heading in the direction of Sherbrooke and hang out at Aude and Francois’s for longer in the morning. We had a slow breakfast, visited the ceramics studio next door and soaked up as much of the atmosphere as we could before we set off.

Aude gave us a lift over the two worst hills on the gravel road, but the first 10km were still mostly uphill. We passed through some beautiful rural villages in the hills, and had awesome views over to the Appalachian mountains in the States. We stopped for lunch after about 30km and as we sat down to eat, the heavens opened and a massive thunderstorm arrived. We took our time, had a celebratory 2000km chocolate brownie and waited it out…Grateful about our impeccable timing.

 

 

Guillaume, Isabelle, Beatrice, Nora and Laurent

The rest of the cycle wasn’t super exciting and the roads got bigger and busier. We cooked dinner by the side of Marbleton Lake before going to meet another group of inspirational people. Guillaume, Isabelle and their 3 children spent ten months cycling from Sherbrooke to Mexico. At the time, the children were 9, 7 and 5 and the two eldest cycled the full 5000km themselves. I would never have thought such a thing be possible, and am utterly amazed by the total leap of faith the parents had. Although the kids did say that ten months was a bit long, I am sure they have gained so much from the trip and will themselves be able to push the boundaries of what we think is possible.

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We could have spent days with them, hearing stories of their trip and being charmed by the kids, but we felt like we should push on while we were feeling good. We decided to aim for Sherbrooke… National Geographic had listed the Eastern Townships as one of the top 50 places to go in Canada and one of the drawing cards was the cafés. A couple were recommended in Sherbrooke so our stomachs made a bee line for there.

Jonathan No.2

As we were making plans day by day, we did a quick search in the morning to see if we could find any warmshowers hosts that we could camp with for the night. Jonathan replied almost instantly so we set of knowing we had somewhere to aim for.

The café in Sherbrooke did not disappoint. It seems that a vege pâté/sandwich spread is unique to Quebec and my first taste of it here was divine. Topped off with a delicious coffee and friendly people…Very happy indeed. Google told us it was an easy 20km cycle with 30m of climbing to get to Jonathan’s so we were feeling great. Unfortunately, a music festival in the middle of town closing all the cycle paths had other ideas, so instead we got lost for 2 hours and arrived a bit more hot and bothered.

Jonathan’s house by the lake was a little bit amazing. He had a room inside for us and his garden was full of activity of two Bernese Mountain dogs, chickens and bee hives. He spoilt us with beer, a BBQ and homemade honey and we had another great evening of conversation and laughter. Jonathan told us that having us there and hearing our stories allows him to travel too, and I think that’s one of the fantastic things about warmshowers and I can’t wait to host when I get home.

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We were two hours “late” leaving in the morning as Jonathan offered to open up one of the bee hives and challenged us to search for a queen bee. It was great to learn some simple facts about bees and the way they work, and reinforced my desire to have a few of my own.

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We set off, reluctantly as always, and aimed for Dunham where we’d be stopping for a week at a workaway farm. More closed cycle paths meant we got lost initially, but we eventually found our way to the beautiful little town of Magog. I had an embarrassing crash in front of too many people thanks to a crack in the cycle path, but no harm done. We also stayed on the cycle path a little bit too long so veered off route a little… But this resulted in us finding a really cute little boutique to stop for lunch. We got chatting to the owner and ended up getting a tour of her (very clean!) soap making workshop.

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The Three Acres Farm

The cycle on from there wasn’t too eventful, although it was on nice quiet roads with a pretty landscape. We made our way slowly but surely towards Dunham and to Three Acres Farm. Amazingly we’ve already been here for a week, stacking wood, bottling wine, picking garlic, harvesting honey, throwing horseshoes, drinking beer, jumping in rivers and generally having a good time. All the while our bikes are in the local shopping receiving some overdue TLC.

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We’ve decided to stay at the farm for an extra couple of days, but I’m looking forward to getting back on the saddle again. We’ve got about 100km to Montreal then it’s off to Ottawa where we’ll be jumping on a bus to skip through most of Ontario.

We have received so much kindness and generosity on this trip, and are always blown away when all we expect is a little patch of grass to camp on and perhaps a warmshower. But, for me, there was something even more special about the people we met in Quebec. Everyone just seemed to have a little bit of magic.

I love wild places and exploring remote landscapes with no one else around, but as the great Alexander Supertramp said, “Happiness is only real when it’s shared.” A place really comes alive when you get to meet and laugh with the people who make the landscape their own.

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Chapter 5: The Acadian Coast, New Brunswick

7 days, 500.2km, 1782.2km total distance

I left PEI with a love for cycle touring and the community that comes with it, excited for seeing New Brunswick and to then get on to the (slightly) bigger provinces. Although Kirsty mentioned she was getting tired of the cycling, I heard but struggled to listen to what she was saying, and kept pushing on trying to find the pedaling motivation for both of us. However, something about our trip through New Brunswick broke both our spirits. It turns out we don’t love cycle touring as much as we love cycle exploring… We love getting off the highway and seeing beautiful places; mountains, beaches and wild spots, and we love meeting the people that live and love in that landscape. Unfortunately (for us) New Brunswick was mostly just a road, and in some sense lacked the magic that the other provinces had, although (as always!) we met some fantastic and amazing characters along the way.

We started our New Brunswick journey by arriving via the Confederation Bridge from Prince Edward Island. The bridge is 13km along and sadly they don’t allow cyclists to pedal across. They do however provide a very cheap shuttle service, so we couldn’t complain. It was a mean feat of engineering, apparently taking over 3 years to build only 20 years ago. Once every couple of years they close the bridge for a running race across it, which would be pretty cool to do! 

We arrived late in the afternoon and only really knew we wanted to head north along the coast, eventually getting to Campbellton and then crossing the border to Quebec. So we took the smallest road we could and kept an eye out for a camp spot for the night. Immediately the place felt different, bigger and less openly friendly in some ways. Every house seemed to have lots of garden so there weren’t any wild places for us to pitch our tents. We spotted a man outside mowing his lawn next to a paddock of horses, so asked if we could possibly pitch in his garden. He kindly agreed, letting us also use the washroom inside! We were greeted in the morning by his super friendly golden retriever Owen, who ended up joining us for breakfast and plenty of pats before we set off again.

We had arranged a warmshowers stop in Shediac, so had that in our sights for the end of the day. It would only be about 65km away so we felt cruisy and at about 12km in decided we both felt like stopping for a coffee. This first place arrived at almost 40km and up until then we hadn’t seen anything but tarmac, trees and the odd house. We filled ourselves up with a greasy lunch and hoped for a more scenic afternoon.

We were following the ‘Acadian Coastal Scenic Drive’ so we thought we’d be on the coast… But the road was just inland enough that we could tell the coast was there, but couldn’t see it. We stopped for an overpriced ice cream when we arrived in Shediac before heading to our warmshowers, feeling a bit meh from the day. Alana and Daniel were lovely hosts and we camped under the trees in their garden. We went for a wander down to the rocky shore for a paddle but the water was a bit warm and stagnant… Not too refreshing! So we whiled away the evening looking at maps and watching the sunset through the trees.

In my journal for the following day, I say the highlight of the road was eating a whole jar of peanut butter. From Shediac to Bouctouche was especially unexciting, but from there the scenery got a bit prettier. We passed through a few communities, and as New Brunswick is the only officially official bilingual province in Canada, we enjoyed the presence of the French language on shop signs etc. High school French slowly started to come back, and it was fun to start practicing before Quebec. We arrived in St Ignace and our warmshowers there was such a treat!! Marthe and Charles had crossed Canada by bike in 2015 and were both of Acadian descent. They cooked us a delicious dinner and we had a lovely evening laughing and chatting over the table. We had a short day the next day, so Marthe took us to Kouchibouguac beach which was just stunning. It showed us that New Brunswick sure has the beauty, it’s just not as in your face obvious as the other provinces.

We set off for the 60km to Miramichi with warm hearts after spending time on the deserted early morning beach. Kirsty had been for a swim (her favourite thing to do) and we’d been fed and watered to perfection. Most of the cycle was on highway, so again not very exciting. It wasn’t hilly either though so we powered through the kilometers. We stopped around 30km for a snack and shortly after restarting saw a mum and baby moose crossing the road! They were a wee way in the distance and I didn’t have time to get a photo, but it was still pretty cool.

We stopped at a gas station as we came in to Miramichi and I had the biggest ice cream ever! So good! I even ended up with it on my sunglasses cos it was so big. While there we also met Brian who would be staying at the same warmshowers as us that evening. Brian is 80, had cycled our previous 2 days in one day before 3pm, and was sleeping in a hammock along the way. He has cycled trans Canada, as well as various adventures in all the individual provinces, and he’s still going. #lifegoals

We spent the evening in our host (James)’s pool and chatting to Brian, leaving the next day refreshed and inspired. We had Bathurst in our sites and could either go straight up the highway or take an extra day and go around the coast. We’d heard the highway was a bit unsafe and we were craving some beauty so opted for the coast. The road conditions were great, but again there wasn’t much to see. We flew through the kilometers, stopping at a couple of pretty churches on the way.

We arrived in Tracadie quite early, but had done 90km so decided to search out somewhere to stay. Campgrounds were full of RVs and children’s fairground types things, so we tried again to find a wild, beautiful spot. It was all private land though, but we were lucky to find ourselves with Robert, Lise and their family. We initially asked them for some cold water, but ended up camping on their lawn, eating their soup, going for a drive and being given a punnet of strawberries to have with our breakfast! I really enjoyed chatting to them all, learning more about how the Acadians came to populate this area and being amazed at their bilingual skills! It really made me feel shameful about how lazy English language speakers are sometimes.

We set off again feeling great about the people we were meeting, and had a warmshowers in Bathurst in our sites for the evening. The cycle to Caraquet was fast and easy, and Caraquet itself is a lovely wee French town. We had delicious coffee and croissants, and were able to join a cycle trail along the coast for 10km or so.

From there, the road mostly stuck to the coast and we could look over to the Gaspe peninsula in Quebec. This meant we could see the thunderstorms brewing to the north before we got caught in the many torrential rain showers. Most of the time the warmth and movement would dry us off but by the time we crossed the 100km mark we were looking forward to our warm shower! We camped in the garden again, but were under a tree so amazingly didn’t get too wet. It was so nice just to be able to sit inside, even if Meghan and Dustin’s dog did eat our whole block of cheese…including the wrapper.

We are scenery seekers above cyclists, and after a few days of tarmac we were a bit mentally tired. We opted for a shorter day, taking some time to look around Bathurst before cruising for 20km up the coast. More thunderstorms were forecast and my boyfriend Paul offered to shout us a hotel room to allow us to recuperate and stay dry. We were grateful to say the least!

On the way to Petite Rocher, Kirsty stopped at a gas station to buy new sunglasses (after 2 pairs broke in 2 days) and we met Daniel, who took a glance at our filthy bikes and offered to clean them up for us! He told us he had hiked the Appalachian trail a couple of years ago and was blown away by the kindness of strangers, so had come back determined to pay it back to the travelling community. We took him up on the offer, dropped our bags at the hotel and cycled to his garage a few buildings down. He took time to teach us a bit about tuning and taking care of our bikes, and even bought us beer to drink while he worked away!

The rest of the evening was spent eating, watching Netflix and being on the comfiest bed in the world. We both slept like logs.

Campbellton was less than 100km, which is the border between new Brunswick and Quebec. And the shores of the St Lawrence river were 200km beyond that. So we set off feeling refreshed, with a loose goal of trying to do 300km in 3 days. I stopped for a roadside pee 20km in, and Kirsty’s tyre exploded! We thanks our lucky stars it hasn’t happened while she was moving, and got around to changing it. In the hour that it took to get sorted, not a single car stopped to offer help. We weren’t in Newfoundland any more…

Setting off again we both felt pretty heavy. The highway was hilly and boring and the headwind meant we were pedalling to go 16kmph downhill. Kirsty even dipped below her usual 5/10 emotional state and the road ahead seemed long and uninviting. We floated the idea of public transport to skip the slog and get to the scenery, so when we arrived in Campbellton that became our mission. There was an overnight train to Quebec city for $600, but we opted instead for a bus the following day. The decision and booking was made in haste, and I felt a little disappointed that we were caving. However, we’ve been on the road for 5 weeks, have cycled almost 1800km and are a team. We came to experience Canada in the 4 months that we’ve got, and in that time we don’t just want to be slogging through kilometers on our bikes. And even Stumpy is looking a bit tired of the road.

So we waved goodbye to Campbellton and New Brunswick and crossed the bridge in to Quebec, turning our clocks back an hour as we did so. On the bus now to Quebec city, hoping to rediscover our mojos, hunt out some beauty and EXPERIENCE province number 5!

Chapter 4: Prince Edward Island, and a potentially broken toe..

Our time on PEI has been short but very sweet, and longer than most!

It turns out that most people who cycle Trans-Canada don’t come to Prince Edward Island, or if they do they just do the 80km or so between the ferry and the bridge. Admittedly, this is what we had originally planned but (as has become our style) we decided to zig zag around and spend some more time exploring Canada’s smallest province. We also learnt that Charlottetown on PEI was the “birthplace” of confederation, so we thought it could be a cool place to spend Canada’s 150th birthday on 1st July.
We left New Glasgow early on Tuesday morning after a great rest/admin day getting lots of things ticked off our to-do list. Alasdair joined us for our cycle to Caribou, making a great opportunity for a bit of a photo shoot. Unfortunately I was feeling quite run down and cold-y, so have a smile missing from most of the pictures! It was another beautiful blue-on-blue day, and the crossing of the causeway to the cute town of Pictou was lovely. We passed a flock of Cormorants who were also enjoying the view, but were also unfortunately stinking out the bridge so we couldn’t stay for long. Pictou itself homes the replica of the Hector, the ship that the first Scots took to (what would become) Nova Scotia in 1773. It was mad to imagine over 200 people aboard, setting off to an unknown land… sadly mostly to escape religious prosecution back home.

We caught the ferry from Caribou over to Wood Islands and again I soaked in the blue on blue, enjoying the smooth crossing out on the deck. Once on PEI, we decided to pretty much head straight north to hit the coast. The roads are crazy straight, but not flat like we were promised they would be! Most of the land is rolling farms, which could explain the straight roads splitting the properties. The soil is an amazing colour of red, and the farms were so neat with rows and rows of crops. Apparently the colour comes from a high iron content so we wondered if this helps the famous PEI potatoes grow.

We stopped in Montague for a celebratory 1000km ice cream sundae before cycling on to St Peters to complete our first accidental almost 90km day. On the way, we saw a couple of members of the Amish community, one of whom was driving a horse and cart and looked quite surprised to see us! We happily arrived in St Peters and rolled around looking for a place to pitch our tents. We spotted a patch of grass next to the water and asked a lady who was hanging out her washing if she thought we could camp there. It turned out it was her land and she was happy to let us set up for the night. Anne ended up coming over a couple of times to chat and filled us in on local history including where we might find some distant relatives on the island. She later came over with cinammon buns for the morning, and showed us again that Canadians are a special breed of kindness. We had very warm hearts while we watched the beautiful sunset and settled down for the night.

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We enjoyed a slow start on Wednesday, having coffee and breakfast in the community gazebo. After soaking up some WiFi from the tourist information centre, we started off our day by cycling along the confederation trail. It was a treat to be away from the road and cars, and a pleasure to be surrounded by green trees. We stopped in Morell for Kirsty to search out her McGuire ancestors, then again in Mount Steward for a greasy lunch. The trail began to get quite loose and deep gravel, so we both lost traction in our back wheels a couple of times. Turning off on to the route 6 coast road was really nice, especially as we came in to the national park so the potholes stopped and the green and the blue were intensified. The beach went on for miles and the sand was a golden brown, we stopped at the first opportunity but Kirsty to dip her feet, then again a few kilometers later for us both to have a snack and a nap. We still had 30km to go though, so didn’t stop for long.

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It was another accidental almost 90km day, so we decided to spend the following day looking around and taking some time to soak in the coast and beautiful surroundings. Cavendish is where Anne of Green Gables was imagined and set, so we went to visit the house which inspired the stories. It was beautiful, but really busy and touristy (great for PEI, not great for me!) so I found a quiet spot to sit and soak up the sun and the hills while Kirsty wandered around. We then went to Cavendish beach which unfortunately was similar.. beautiful but busy. This was our first real experience of Canada tourism as the season is really just beginning, but I was keen to explore the area a bit more so I left Kirsty sleeping on the beach and cycled off on my own.

I headed off towards Oceanview national park, and as soon as I turned off the highway I was greeted with quiet and calm. I spotted a path down to the shore which didn’t have a parking lot next to it, so wandered down with my bike. A couple were just leaving, and I found I had this perfect little beach all to myself. The sea was calm and clear, and it was hard to believe the red rocks lining the shore hadn’t been designed and man made. I sat for almost an hour enjoying the calm, and couldn’t help but feel like my mum and my Uncle John had something to do with the perfection of the moment.

I cycled up and down the coast of the national park, soaking in the vista of the red rocks in the sunlight before heading home via picking up some chocolate to gorge on. We had dinner with Gary and Kathy, which was delicious fresh fish and chips. The rain was forecast to come in overnight, so Kathy invited us to sleep inside to avoid our tents getting wet and we eagerly accepted. The sunset was another beauty, so we tried to cycle down to the shore to catch it but unfortunately arrived about a minute too late. We still enjoyed the changing colours, and were feeling nice and revived on the cycle back. Unfortunately, I was enjoying biking without the bags a bit much, tried to go no-hands (“look Kirsty, no hands!”), and ended up having a faster speed crash than we’d experienced so far. I was also wearing shorts and flip flops, so had a nicely scraped knee and a pinky toe that is now at an interesting new angle. I iced it when we got back, and there’s no bruising now so I don’t think it’s broken.. and my toes have always been a little wonky anyway. (please ignore the old nail varnish/bruised nail combination, it is from the Kintyre Way Ultra rather than this particular incident…)

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Friday brought a little change in weather and the wind and rain picked up just as we were setting off from Gary and Kathy’s. After 12km or so we stopped in New Glasgow (still on PEI!) at the PEI preserves for a second breakfast and some coffee. My toe only hurt occasionally while on the bike, and if I stayed unclipped from my cleats wasn’t too much of a bother. Our second breakfast was super delicious, and the preserves shop had samples of all their jams and relishes, so I had to pull myself away to make sure we would actually get somewhere by the end of the day. As it was still raining, we headed to the Garden of Hope centre, a hospice for islanders with cancer to go for restbite care. They have a butterfly house which you can go in and walk around or sit and have butterflys land on you. It was a little bit wonderful and the butterflys were beautiful…again, we didn’t want to leave.

We cycled on through the rain, knowing we had another warmshowers in our sights. We arrived in Bonshaw without passing a single shop to pick up some dinner, but arrived to an invitation from Marion and Tony to share their meal with them. They also offered us their cabin to sleep in, again to prevent the tents from getting wet, so again we eagerly accepted. We are now worried we are going soft, so need to do some wild camping once we get to New Brunswick! Tony and Marion live close to the Trans-Canada highway, but it couldn’t feel further away. They have a beautiful, big garden where they grow their own vegetables, have a solar powered shower and the cabin we are in has a composting toilet and is surrounded by trees. They also have a river practically on their doorstep, and we were lucky to join them for a paddle in their Canadian canoes before dinner. Again, a little bit wonderful. After dinner, we went for a drive down to the Argyle shore on the south coast of PEI where the sand is even redder than on the North, before listening to Marion and Tony sing and play guitar.

And then it was Canada Day! Lots of people had told us how cool it would be in Charlottetown on Canada’s 150th birthday, so we were looking forward to the buzz of the celebration day. I’m not sure what we were expecting, but it was a lot lower key! We still managed to take in a musical which highlighted that although it is 150 years since the confederation, the land itself is much older and the natives and indigenous people should also be celebrated. We also watched a video about the confederation itself, and how the joining of the provinces came about. Other than that, we ate a lot of food, wandered around the harbour and watched some live music in the rain. The fireworks weren’t due until 10pm, so we decided to flag them and cycle back to Marion and Tony’s cabin in the woods. We were greeted with more music, including “Never tire of the road”, which rings true to us as we get ready to set off again in the morning.

Never tire of the road, never tire of the rolling wheel

Never tire of the ways of the world

Way out yonder is calling me, and the long road leads you onwards

And the highway that’s your home

And the rolling voice that you hear in your head says

Never tire of the road

It seems like it’s becoming cliche, but I have fallen in love again, this time with Canada’s smallest province. This island certainly has little bit of magic, and it feels like something has been lifted or lightened since being here. We’re now one month and 1240.1km in, and heading to our fourth province tomorrow! I wonder if I’ll fall in love there too…