Friday, September 5, 2008

Highlights from the Maritimes access was a bit tougher to find on the road than I had hoped; hence the lack of posts during the tour. But I'm back home safe and sound now (a little earlier than planned, but what're you gonna do?), so without further ado, here are some of the high points of the trip.

Peggy's Cove

Yes, this is one of the most visited destinations in the region, but I found it very deserving of its reputation. Specific attractions aren't the draw--it's the overall atmosphere and landscape that captivate. The little village of 60 permanent residents was probably my favorite part of the South Shore Lighthouse Trail.

Being a touristy place, it is advisable to try and beat the crowds. The best way to do this is to arrive early, right around 9:00 when everything is opening up. You should have the place nearly to yourself on a weekday morning. By 11:00, the tour buses will start rolling in, but you'll be ready to roll out.

Cape Breton Island and the Cabot Trail

Okay, okay, this is a pretty broad one, but Cape Breton represented the best part of the tour. Ruggedly beautiful coastlines and myriad outdoor activity options--what more could you ask for?

I cycled what's considered the most striking section of the Cabot Trail, from Englishtown to Margaree Harbour. And striking it was! The scenery was absolutely breathtaking, the climbs rewardingly challenging. After this, everything else on the tour seemed like a bore...which may have contributed to the decision to cut it short by a week. Learning about and being a part of the cycling culture surrounding this route was half the fun.

Cape Breton Highlands National Park was well-managed and worth the $7.50/day admission fee, but my favorite campgrounds were actually outside the park boundaries. The view from my site at Englishtown Ridge Campground was only narrowly beaten out by the one at Hideaway Campground and Oyster Market. Yeah, the oysters were awesome too.

Antigonish and Whidden's Park

Slightly strange, but for some reason I got quite a kick out of this huge camping complex situated right in the middle of an atmospheric college town. The hustle and bustle of all the campers was exciting, and at night the collective campfire smoke did a wonderful job of keeping the mosquitoes at bay. I'd be very interested to learn the origins of this camping park. You just don't see such a place that often!

New Glasgow, PEI

Tiny New Glasgow was a bright spot in an otherwise rather dreary tour around the "gentle island." Its quiet country charm was addictive, and I took a much-longer-than-expected stroll through the Country Gardens, adjacent to the PEI Preserve Company and Cafe on the Clyde, a delicious dining spot. And of course, who could overlook the New Glasgow Lobster Suppers, one of the best places on the island to participate in this tradition of crustaceous gluttony!

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