Fredericton is a very clean and pretty city. The downtown is filled with cute colourful houses, where I was staying was uptown. Up a 2km long 600m incline; I walked up. My couch surfing hosts Ken and his partner John drove me around a little to show me the town, we went out for supper and to boom! nightclub, breakfast in the morning, and I spent the next day eating trash, biking around and playing ukulele.
I decided to try and make it to Halifax a little quicker by taking a ferry. That would mean biking on highway 8, thru the Gagetown CFB training grounds; big mistake. Its about 60km along a highway that has nothing, no trees, no people, no shoulder. Even the only overpass on the highway, where I stopped under for lunch, didn’t have one trace of human presence, no graffiti, no wrappers, no bottles or cans, I was in the middle of nowhere, biking up hill after hill, with the strongest head wind I’ve experienced, in the blazing heat. Luckily I had about 10 liters of water with me; I used it all up.
A couple of years ago a cyclist was hit by a truck and died on this highway. His bike had been painted and placed as a memorial of the site where he was hit, it was halfway thru the training ground, after a huge hill. The sight of his mangled bike, the physical stress, the isolation all was too much, and I stood there crying for a few minutes as truck after truck flew past me.
I stopped at the first diner outside the base for a coffee, water, and much needed human interaction. It was a hard day to Saint John, I almost gave up a as I was getting into the city. Once in Saint John I stayed at the cutest little hostel with the sweetest lady running the show.
I really feel like Saint John is run by drunk people. The city is cut in half by a spaghetti of highways and ramps, half the city is under construction, the other half is abandoned and boarded up, sidewalks that end and lead nowhere, the city is totally not bike friendly, the only bike shop is outside the downtown core, and you have to navigate the spaghetti, sidewalk-less highways to get there.
I thought I could busk some cash because apparently cruise ships dock all the time and there are tourists around. The second day I was there, it rained, there were no tourists or cruise ships, and I spent the day reading and drying my clothes in the public library. I got a free meal from a church group that gives warm meals in the park which was great, then I headed over to the ferry.
I decided to take the night time ferry thinking I could sleep on my way there. It was pretty freaky to be on a mostly empty boat, with an endless void of pitch black in every direction. I fell asleep on a bench, and woke up at 2 AM when we got to Digby. I biked a few km in the pitch black night, and found a bush at a rest area to sleep behind as the waves crashed into the rocks below.
Next day I biked to Kejimkujik National Park, its 80km inland, where there is no cellphone reception, towns are simply a few houses tucked away in the woods, side roads are not paved, and no drinking water. I filled up my water in Digby and made the trek. It was a hard one, where I got lost for about 10km and had to bike down a highway for about 40km. I took a shortcut up an overpass that had no exit.
Keji as its called, is very beautiful, and it was nice to be able to get to shower, but I feel like government run camp sites are way over priced, and most of them don’t offer much more nature that I couldn’t easily find biking across the province. I slept there one night, and took the a shortcut thru the mountain bike path to get out faster.
Again thru mainland Nova Scotia, no water, no shoulder, no people. I got some water and directions in Caledonia, which was halfway to the coast. At the coast I stopped in Bridgewater, stuffed my face with dumpstered food had a coffee and kept going. At this point cellphone bars appeared, towns were lively, and I didn’t feel so isolated anymore.
In Western Shore, I got to soak my feet for the first time in the ocean, I stayed there for a while planning my next move. A few km out in Chester Basin, I realized I left my cellphone in Western Shore on a park bench, when I biked back however I noticed a spot under a bridge to camp out. The spot was perfect! The bridge had to really wide hollow beams, and both had their hatches open, I climbed in one of them and called it home for a night, and contemplated staying there for a while, next to the ocean, my own little hide out.
Just like in New Brunswick, no one seems to know about the bike trails in Nova Scotia, and they are very poorly maintained. I ended up back on a big, shoulderless highway the next day, in the pouring rain. I got about 20 km on that multi lane highway and decided this was totally unsafe and unreasonable. I got off the highway in Hubbards, had a coffee and then saw the bike path that leads to Halifax. From this point on it was much nicer. Like most of the Trans Canada Trails and provincial bike multi use trails it follows old rail road lines, so not much hills.
The last 40km to Halifax seemed to take forever, at some points, my legs just didn’t want to comply, at other times, the prospect of seeing familiar faces, and a warm shower in Halifax made them uncontrollable. I was getting a little delirious. I wasn’t paying much attention to the scenery because of this, but I did see a baby deer and its mother, and the ocean was really pretty perched up on the bike path. I stopped in at a really cute bikeshop/coffeeshop in an old train station, had a 20 minute crush with the barista and finally made it to Halifax, out of energy, out of water, and a little out of my mind.
I will probably stay here for a while. I have some friends from Montreal who hitch hiked here, others that drove, its nice to see familiar faces, and get to sit around drinking coffee and beers. Today we went out for cheap breakfasts, drank too much coffee, walked an hour to a lake, drank cheap but high in alchohol content wine, swam over to an island, and went to a punk show, had some delicious dumpstered salmon, drank tea, sat around a box of garlic fingers out on the front stoop, and going to a dance party later, rad day, I like this city.