The ferry crossing was short and uneventful. A somewhat pretty view back toward PEI and a somewhat pretty view toward Caribou, Nova Scotia, but nothing like the view from the ferry back towards Quebec City, wow was that a fabulous view. I’d been wavering on weather or not to I’d have time to drive the Cabot Trail around Cape Breton as I’d hoped. As usually I’d pretty much decided NOT to do it until I decision point where I could turn left and go all the way around the island, or turn right and head straight for Halifax. Of course I decided to drive it. I t seem early enough that I’d get around most of it by daylight and see the legendary coast line views. About an hour up the west side of Cape Breton the rain started… and heavy. Very heavy, and in fact it was half sleet, frozen rain… I stopped off first at a pizza place for lunch, but a youth sports team had just come in for a party and the 45+ minute wait for a slice of pizza convinced me to find somewhere else. The convenient choice then became a Tim Horton’s down the street. Tim Horton’s is a Canadian institution, it’s part sort of Starbucks but better… Higher quality food and more variety, good sandwiches and pastries… and quick which was key if I was going to make it around the Cabot Trail in reasonable time. The weather was still nasty but I decided to press on a little further. Fortunately just past Cheticamp the weather cleared up, still cold, but clear enough to enjoy the beautiful views.
I made it most of the way around the island before dark, when headed down 105 near Baddeck Tucker began making noises like he was going to throw up. I quickly pulled to the side of the road, well off roadway since I new I’d be jumping out quick and wanted him far away from the road as well. Tucker and I both jumped out the passenger side door and into a wet soggy muddy ditch. Well, Tucker ended up not throwing up, yeah!, just a false alarm. We hoped back in the car to pull away, when I discovered I’d pulled a bit too far off the road into the very soft gravel. No problem I thought, I’ll just put the van in four wheel drive… only all four tires started spinning and digging into the soft gravel. Ok, lock up the rear differential and try again… still digging in and not moving. Eventually I tried to rock the van out of the holes I was digging into the gravel, which seemed very promising until after rolling back and forward the van suddenly started to slide slowly sideways into the ditch. The van was now leaning over at about 30 degrees and there was no way I was driving the van out, so I shut down the engine. Tucker took most of this in stride… stride meaning he was now standing half on the seat and half on the car door. I was leaning up hill hoping the van wasn’t going to actually tip over on it’s side. In truth Vanagons are very bottom heavy and very very hard to tip over, but I was at the point I was sliding out of the seat sideways. I don’t know why, but I was having trouble getting my phone to connect to AAA (CAA in this case), whom I was hoping would be able to winch me out. Perhaps because I was dialing an 800 number from Canada. Fortunately an ambulance came by in the opposite direction and kindly stopped to check on my predicament. They let me use their mobile phone which worked no problem and AAA was sending a tow truck. The ambulance drivers even waited by until the tow truck came in about 30 minutes. The ridiculous thing, is since I was chatting with the paramedics while waiting, I didn’t even think to take pictures of my van in the ditch until just after the tow truck driver had gently winched it out… doh… sorry it was really spectacular to see though.
I’d had such a wonderful experience couch surfing with Patrick on PEI that I took his suggestion and emailed couch surfer he’d stayed with about a year ago in Halifax, Nova Scotia named Dali. She too was ok with the dog, of which I was amazed especially considering she had two pet ferrets.
Driving into Halifax it has a great small sky line and several pretty bridges by night. I drove straight in and met with Dali at her home, a big old house she shares with a couple roommates. They all welcomed me and the dog in. I’m really loving this couch surfing thing. Shortly after arriving a bunch of Dali’s friends showed up. Another great group of people to sit and chat with. A few beers to get to know eachother and we all headed out to play some pool and drink some more beers. Halifax is a small city, and we walked across half it in less than 20 minutes to get to the pool hall. It was a great evening. As usually I played one good game of pool, and then was awful the rest of the night.
Unfortunately my schedule was starting to pinch me… so I planned just the one night in Halifax and a fairly early departure the next morning. I do wish I had more time so I could have gotten to know Dali and her friends better, Dali was really so sweet. We did have time to grab breakfast together before she went to class a little corner restaurant with a full vegan breakfast menu (so cool). I dropped her at class, got a qucik picture of her with the now world famous Tucker, who also appears to be getting a bit jaded by his fame.
Then Tucker and I took a few hours to walk the waterfront and around the citadel with Tucker. It’s a beautiful waterfront, lots of pictures on Flickr from Halifax. I should point out, I try to put my “best” photos on Flickr, and put a few that go with the story good/bad here, so do check out Flickr, way better photos. Anyway, I think the waterfront and a walk down some old street with beautiful houses and trees turning colors was the highlight for me. The citadel was cool too, although much smaller than the one in Quebec City and with not quite as spectacular of views… still worth the walk though.
I left Halifax headed south back into the US, specifically headed for Acadia National Park in Maine.