Lower Sackville, NS to Shubenacadie, NS

31.8 mi / 11.9 mph / 951 ft. climbing
Home: Wild Nature Campground

It’s been 17 days since Rett has done a significant bike ride. On its own, that’s not unusual; unlike “bike tourers”, we’re “nomads” who regularly settle in places for a period before moving on. What’s unusual this time is that this pause was enforced because our moving boat was springing leaks port and starboard, sinking deeper and deeper into the water despite all attempts to patch and repair it on-the-fly. Now, after this period in dry-dock, with the opportunity to remove rotted planks, rebuild with strength, and let the sealants cure, would she be seaworthy once again? We had hope, but the only way to know was to launch her in the water and see if she floated.

We had a couple possible routes to ride on our way to the real boat that would take us to Prince Edward Island in three days. One would essentailly retrace the route we have now done twice in the van, heading north from Halifax to Truro, and then east to New Glasgow, paralleling, but not actually on the 102 and 104 limited-access highways we drove. The other route would take us on a cross-country diagonal route, likely with little traffic, and through an attractive farming valley, but with fewer services. Cat, our above-and-beyond AirBNB host said that if she’d known yesterday, she would have driven us to Truro, but as nice as that would have been, that would just delay our seaworthiness test. Luckily we had some miles to go before we would hit the split where we would need to decide.

Physically, Rett’s start went well; she was far more comfortable starting (and thus, stopping) the bike than she was 17 days ago. Mentally though, it wasn’t an ideal return to loving biking, largely because the morning traffic on what I assumed would be a quiet suburban road was much heavier and more-aggressive than I’d expected. So Rett’s initial reaction was to get off the busy roads filled with assholes, and take the country-road route. But after some time, perhaps as our highway-paralleling Route 2 gained a shoulder, and as the drivers became less-dickish, she changed her mind and decided to just stay with “the enemy we know”, especially since it was a shorter distance and could take us to a more-developed campground.

And what a good call that was. Despite being a theoretically busier route, traffic lightened to nearly nothing, which gives Rett the opportunity to actually look around at her surroundings rather than keeping a laser focus on the road surface 10 feet in front of her. And by afternoon, we had exited exurbia (the “Halifax” airport is surprisingly far from Halifax) and entered gorgeous rolling farm country. Even though we had driven down the highway no more than a mile to the west twice in the last week, neither of us had noticed how pretty the landscape in this area was. More proof that a motor can get you places faster, but nothing beats bicycle speed for absorbing your surroundings.

At the campground entrance we were faced with a big gravel-drive hill, and Rett was now in a good enough mood that she didn’t particularly mind pushing her bike up it. We then descended a bit, and finally a friendly woman popped out of the office/RV as we rolled up, immediately apologized for the hill, and said that when her daughter starts walking to school next month, she’ll legitimately be able to say that walks uphill both ways to school. Ha! She told us to go on down, find a site we liked, and just book it online from there, and that we’d also find another bike tourer down there. Exciting!

Rett cresting the top of the campground hill.
I’d seen on the campground’s Facebook that they had a couple of goats, and I’m pretty sure that was a key factor in Rett’s decision to take this route.

We found Emma in a sunny site next to the pond, while we went and grabbed a shady one across the way. Rett and I went for a swim, and Emma soon joined us, stating that she has a rule to always take a dip in a body of water if the opportunity presents itself, on the premise that you never regret the choice to dive in, but you might regret not diving in. Wisdom (that we may try to follow from now on) from this 25-year-old Canadian! She’s nearing the end of her two-phase Trans-Canada bike tour, and is way more hardcore than us, doing bigger miles with fewer breaks, and even beats me in my younger days: I was five years older than her before I could claim anything close to a cumulative coast-to-coast crossing of my native country!

Pond swimming at Wild Nature Campground.
Smiling swimming sea-creatures in this pond.

Since we’d been able to stop at a quality suburban grocery store earlier, we cooked up some Caprese Mac & Cheese for dinner (something we haven’t made in forever), and went back down to the pond to eat. We were pleased to have Emma’s company again, and as we all stood on the dock with the sun getting low, we noticed a swarm of turtles swimming up to us like a flock of greedy pigeons! It was fun to watch them all in their various sizes, and to wonder where they all were when we were actually in their water!

Emma and Rett searching for turtles.
Turtles found!
Turtles must like blondes.
It seems these turtles might be familiar with the idea that food comes from human hands.

We’re still far from declaring a full cure, but there is at least no doubt that our “pause” worked, and this was the best day of bike touring that Rett has lived in over a month.

Post-turtle pond at sunset.


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