Day Five – Chéticamp NS to Port Aux Basques NF (168 miles)

We left the motel under clear and sunny skies but was it ever cold.  It was no warmer than 45º when we hit the Highlands on the Cabot Trail just a few short miles north of Chéticamp.  It was Monday and there wasn't too much traffic as we pulled out and rolled the throttle on.  We were about to embark on one of the best rides on the continent.  Cape Breton Highlands National Park is known for its spectacular highlands and ocean scenery. The Cape Breton Highlands are the most striking feature of northern Cape Breton.  Steep cliffs and deep river canyons carve into a forested plateau bordering the Atlantic Ocean. One third of the Cabot trail runs through the national park along the coasts and over the highlands.  Established in 1936 it is a must ride for every motorcycle enthusiast.  We didn't make it very far before we had to pull over to take some pictures and soak up the scenery.  In 37 short miles we reached Pleasant Bay founded in 1828 and home today of 350 people, mostly fishermen.  There are also a number of charters based here for the whale watching industry.  Another 29 short miles and we were in Cape North and officially on the other side of the cape.  We spotted the Atlantic Ocean and rode on its shores for a little while before coming into South Harbour.  We stopped there for a couple of pictures before continuing on.  The east side of the cape wasn't as scenic as the west side but still kept our heads on a swivel so as not to miss anything.  We went thought the towns of Neils Harbour, Ingonish, and Little River.  Before we knew it we were just south of Indian Brook where we had decided to take C312 through Englishtown down to C12.  Just before Englishtown we had to take a ferry across St Anns Bay.  I guess we maybe should have gone the long way around and visited the town of St. Anns dating back to 1629 when it was founded as a French Settlement.  So with history on our minds we decided to stop at the Englishtown War Memorial to pay tribute to some of the local boys who gave their lives in the service of their country during WWI and WWII.  By now we realized we had not gotten gas in 240 miles.  We continued toward our destination in Sydney hoping we would find some gas soon.  Fortunately we found some in Boularderie on C14 after 255 miles, that last five of which we very concerning.  We stopped to view Big Bras d'Or, which is a channel of water leading from Big Bras d'Or Lake out into the ocean.  We were ahead of schedule and had some time to kill before our 4:00 departure time on the ferry to Newfoundland.  We took a side road that led us down to a wharf on the channel where a load of crabs were being brought in.  We watched the unloading and relaxed for a little while before heading into Sydney.  We quickly found the ferry entrance (KMZ) and decided to make a run to the local store to stock up on some drinks and snacks for our 4 hour ferry ride.  We got in line and learned that all motorcycles get a free ride to the front of the line.  We thought what treatment, and how this is the only way to cross.  The whistle sounded and we were off, up the ramp and onto (or into) the ship.  Tie down straps were supplied and all of the bikers worked quickly to secure their bikes and run upstairs to get the prime seating spots.  We had tried to get a sleeper or dormitory room but they had all been reserved.  Instead we located and secured a very wide booth that would allow us to lie down.  We thought we might take a snooze but all of the people around us were very nice and we had a great conversation the whole time.  Occasionally we would walk up on deck to stretch our legs and soak up the fresh salt air.  Before we knew it we were across.  Back on our bikes we searched for our motel where we had reservations.  It was late but we found the motel with ease and called it a night.