Alma, NS to Wood Islands, PE

17.3 mi / 10.8 mph / 378 ft. climbing
Home: Northumberland Provincial Park Campground

It appeared that we didn’t actually get any rain overnight, so at first the awesome glamping dome we were sleeping under felt unnecessary. But then as I was out at our site’s secondary shelter(!!) cooking breakfast (under a roof over a grill, Coleman camp stove, counter, etc.) a pretty good downpour came that definitely would have wrecked our morning (and likely the whole day) if we were in a normal campsite. Here though, no problem: it returned to a light drizzle before it was time to bring the breakfast inside.

Our geodesic dome “tent” at Twisted Tent.
Inside our dome…we never knew a padded cell would be this comfortable!

With that relaxing morning, and the final bands of rain disappearing from the radar around noon, Rett determined that her body would be ready to move on for another day. Again, much thanks to the flexibility granted to us by our hosts at Twisted Tent! We did a final tour of the amusement park remnants, and then couldn’t leave the area without another stop at WhistleBerry Market. This time we ordered up some hot lunch sandwiches, and left with house-made sausages, local-grown celery, and local-baked dinner rolls (that looked and tasted very much like my mom’s “dinner rolls”!) in preparation for a soup dinner in camp.

Rett at the castle gates in our campground (the former Magic Valley Fun Park)
One of the last remaining houses from Storybook Village at the former Magic Valley Fun Park.
Although WhistleBerry Market backs up right onto the road we were traveling, it’s some 30 feet below the road level, with a long circuitous route through potholed gravel to the entrance. So we just left the bikes parked up on the shoulder of the road, wheels locked to each other, and covered the final distance on foot.

The roads continued to be good; even when we turned north off shouldered Route 4 to a “no trucks above XXX tons” local road, the one big semi truck that came up behind us during an uphill sat and waited, engine roaring, for several minutes until he had visibility to pass (perhaps an effect of some guilt he felt at being on that road in the first place?) As we got on the entrance ramp to Highway 106 (signed as the Trans-Canada Highway at this point), we saw several sets of cyclists, presumably doing van-supported tours of the area, and that helped me feel more comfortable that taking the Trans-Canada Highway across a causeway on a bicycle was a reasonable thing to do. But while traffic wasn’t a problem, the causeway itself (crossing Pictou Harbour) had an ominous feeling under the slate sky, as it brought a return of rain (that somehow felt tied to the causeway, rather than weather system passing through), and had an unbelievable amount of cormorant roadkill splayed out along the shoulder. The rain stopped once we were back on solid land, and then after an enormous roundabout, we were on the oddly-straight road whose only job seems to be to bring people across six miles of nothing to and from the ferry terminal.

A big Michelin plant appeared in the middle of nowhere (zoom in to see the human-sized 3D Michelin Man at the base of the blue tank holding the giant 2D one charging straight at us). Our AirBNB host back in Bridgewater said a new Michelin plant (or an expansion?) near there was part of the economic upswing of Bridgewater, so I guess Michelin is a pretty big deal in Nova Scotia.

As we’d confirmed with Emma a couple days ago (who’d come riding in the opposite direction as us), the ferry between Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island was easy, with no reservations required for cyclists, and even no charge for anyone going the NS-to-PEI direction. It’s a much bigger and more ship-like boat than most ferries we’ve been on, with multiple levels for vehicles to park on. The workers, who were more helpful with directions than most ferry employees, directed us on first and said it would be fine to just have our bikes standing on their kickstands, with no need to even secure them to anything. We sat inside for most of the 75-minute crossing of the Northumberland Strait, in the “bar” area where a musician was set up to play a mix of covers and his own songs. We spent all of our time planning our our next days (cellular service worked fine for the whole crossing), now that we knew we were definitely making it to Prince Edward Island!

Two gaping maws in our ferry boat to PEI: first, the whole nose of the ship lifted up, and then, a door in the floor opened to expectorate forth a stream of cars from the depths.
Coming onto the deck as we make the final approach to Prince Edward Island.
The Wood Islands lighthouse stands above the famed red shores of Prince Edward Island.
Plenty of space left on this run from Nova Scotia to Prince Edward Island.

A visit to Prince Edward Island has been a goal of Rett’s since she read ‘Anne of Green Gables’ as a child. After so much stress and unhappiness and pain over the several weeks, it was a wonderful relief to me to see her genuinely filled with excitement and happiness to have brought herself to this destination. It has been the carrot luring her back onto her bike, and, well, it’s worked! Every start of her bike today was immediately successful, and some even happened without thought.

The only establishment between the ferry terminal and our campground a few miles down the road was Wood Islands Market, a set of buildings whose rural island architecture nearly brought Rett to tears on their own. But it’s the fact that one of them housed a PEI Liquor Agency store that made it a worthy stop!

Northumberland Provincial Park Campsite
Heading to look back across the Northumberland Strait
Two NFL ferry boats (for Northumberland Ferry Lines; I don’t think the football league has their own boats) spent the night at the port (one with its nose still in the air).
Sunset from Northumberland Provincial Park.


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