South Maitland, NS to Windsor, NS

44.1 mi / 10.3 mph / 2329 ft. climbing
Home: Darlene’s AirBNB

Our camper’s intermittent heater (plus our body heat) kept the indoor temperature from dropping below 58℉ by morning, but it was 37℉ outside. Rett’s idea yesterday to go short and to a roof was proven right again: waking up to that temperature in our tent would have been survivable, but not especially pleasant. We were also able to cook up a hot breakfast significantly easier than with our camp stove. Though needing to exit the camper to clean the dishes without running water (essentially our normal tent-camping way) somehow felt more-difficult than it would have in our normal setting.

Almost immediately after turning out of our AirBNB, during our brief backtrack to the main route, Rett nearly got taken out by the long trailer of a pickup truck who passed us and moved back to the right way too soon. It was such an egregious move (she had to slam on her brakes to keep from being swept off the road) that it felt to me like the case of a driver who forgot that he was towing a trailer. Which is actually more dangerous than a malicious jerk, because the latter generally wants to limit his classification to “jerk”, not “murderer”, so he actually has far more awareness of what the hell he’s doing than the forgetful/distracted driver.

Another hint of fall color!

To make up for yesterday’s short day, we had to go twice as far today to reach the next possible accommodations. Since we were on the “direct route” now (NS-236) rather than the meandering coast route (NS-215), I was concerned that the trailer would be just a taste of the higher traffic we’d need to battle the whole way on the shoulderless road, but in fact vehicles were nearly non-existent for the majority of the way (maybe tourist/RV traffic would have actually made the Bay of Fundy route worse?), and the road surface was great.

At our roadside lunch stop, this herd of extremely-active cows (lots of mooing, exploring, etc.) came out of the trees to give us a stare-down.

The beautiful blue skies and low wind made the riding much more enjoyable than yesterday (and that wasn’t luck; we were able to go short yesterday because we knew that today would be better weather for going long). And we weren’t the only ones taking advantage of the weather: nearly every house with a line seemed to have their laundry hanging out to dry, since this was the first sunny day in a week, and likely to be the only one for another week!

The only blue-sky riding day to be had in this part of the calendar.
Two horses and a donkey, all segregated, but coming together for an important meeting.

Near our destination of Windsor, Rett saw a fruit stand on the other side of the road, and made an executive decision to stop and cross over to check if they had any good stuff. We got some plums, but I was acting like a jerk the whole time, because I was stressed about the possibility of quickly-approaching rush-hour traffic on this new road (Glooscap Trail, NS-14) into the only population center and only bridge across the Avon River. Which really sucked, because I was so proud of Rett for feeling a rare moment of confidence and flexibility to do something that can classically turn a good day into a great day of “bike touring”; normally we’d have committee discussion about such a stop, or I’d suggest it, and she’d reluctantly agree, but hate having to stop and restart the bike, and hate being delayed at reaching our final destination. So I should have been doing everything possible to give positive reinforcement to her decision, and instead I was just being mean and rushing her along!

Even worse, I ended up being right about the traffic (though it probably wouldn’t have been much better if we’d skipped the stand and come through 10 minutes earlier). For some dumb reason the shoulderless road continually snakes back and forth (looking on the map like the tidal bore waves we saw yesterday), hurting visibility just as much as its hilliness did. And its hilliness killed our speed, which allowed cars to pile up behind us, which then, if the drivers are impatient jerks, leads to scary unsafe passes, made when oncoming traffic can be hidden by a horizontal or vertical curve in the road. The worst driver who did exactly that swung back over into our lane so quickly (to, duh, avoid a head-on collision with an oncoming car) that we had to stop dead in our tracks, in the middle of the road, uphill, with a bunch of cars still behind us. Ugh, fuck you!!!

Luckily our split-level AirBNB house (we got the upper level this time rather than the basement level that normally seems to be the guest quarters) was another top-notch accommodation, as well-equipped as a place without a kitchen could be. Including a grill, so I went back out and braved the streets of Windsor (not nearly as scary once rush-hour died down, but the road layout of the town is extremely stupid and disconnected) and cooked up some sausages for dinner. We’re staying two nights here because there is real rain in the forecast for tomorrow.

Day 2

There definitely was a good amount of rain overnight that continued through the morning, so it felt right that we were staying put.

One of the weather-planning tools I use (particularly outside of the US, where even rich, “socialist” Canada’s government weather office makes me realize how lucky we are to have a jewel like the US National Weather Service) is Despite the name and initial view, it’s a comprehensive weather-model viewer that shows a lot more than wind forecasts, but I certainly take advantage of that wind-view to plan our riding direction/duration. In the last day or so, while moving the slider into the future and watching the winds move through time, I noticed that about six days from now it would get really windy near us. Zooming out a bit, I saw that those intense purple winds were part of a huge swirling vortex, with a green-colored circle of calm in the center, that you might even liken to “an eye”, flying up from the Caribbean. Uh, that sure looks like the models are predicting…a hurricane? Hitting Nova Scotia?!

The September 19th model prediction of what the winds would look like on September 24th. The red dot is our approximate location. It’s kind of amazing how the software’s standard wind-visualization algorithm, when applied solely to the model’s wind data, automatically generated this picture that a human immediately recognizes as “a huge fukkin hurricane!!!”

Some quick searching revealed this to be Hurricane Fiona, which had just made landfall in Puerto Rico. But it didn’t seem to be anywhere on Canada’s (figurative) radar! Maybe the forecasters here know better than the super-computed weather models? The US’s National Hurricane Center wasn’t any help either, as its cone-of-uncertainty didn’t cover enough days to reach Canada, and their whole focus seemed to be on the Caribbean. Anyway, we definitely didn’t want to be sleeping in a tent during a hurricane, and bicycle-speed makes sudden-evacuation difficult, so even without any notification from the Canadian Weather Service, we weren’t going to take any chances, and looked for a solid place to book for multiple nights to ride out the storm. Perhaps because people were relatively unaware of what might be coming, it was not yet impossible to find a place to stay, though the options were definitely quite-limited. But that actually made for a much-simpler and less-stressful planning process than a couple nights ago, because most of the options were already taken away from us!

I found the old money neighborhood of Windsor during another grocery run.


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