The freezing cold, uncomfortable ferry ride back to mainland Canada was very depressing. We were wrong to assume that the night ride would provide us with any rest. We got off the ferry exhausted and thought it was best to pitch our tent under a few trees to the side of the road. After a few good hours of sleep, we rode to New Glasgow, Nova Scotia and spent the night by the East River of Pictou. We got up early the next morning and took a free ferry across to Prince Edward Island. It was a small, pretty province where every lawn and garden was perfectly manicured. Mostly farmland, Prince Edward Island is known for growing high quality potatoes. Over 88,000 acres of potatoes are grown each year, making it the largest potato-producing province in Canada. We immediately noticed that finding a place to camp for the night would be difficult because all of the land seemed owned. It was getting late and the sun was quickly dropping below the horizon, I began to doubt that we would find a place to camp. Just as I was beginning to really miss Newfoundland, we came across a picnic area. Confederation Trail is Prince Edward Islands abandoned railway line, it has been developed into a tip-to-tip trail. It was a great place to set up the tent. When we packed up our bags the next morning, we exited the island on a long bridge spanning the Abegweit Passage of the Northumberland Strait, linking Prince Edward Island with mainland New Brunswick. The 12.9 kilometer (8 mile) long bridge takes about 15 minutes to cross and it cost us $17.75. It was kind of scary riding on a two lane highway surrounded by water. It was so windy that I feared we would hit oncoming traffic or end up drowning! Rocky said he was constantly fighting the wind as it kept pushing us towards the oncoming traffic. I was glad to make it back into New Brunswick safely.
The last time we were in Moncton, New Brunswick, we had ordered a few parts. They had arrived at the shop and were waiting for us to pick them up. Toys for Big Boys is a large nice shop every man would love to spend some time and money in. Since Rocky continued to feel that something was still wrong with how the motorcycle was riding, he decided to get the front tire balanced to see if that was causing the problem. The process of elimination was annoying but at least it was fixing a bunch of little problems. To save a few dollars, Rocky removed the tire himself. Craig, an employee of Toys for Big Boys, kindly refused to charge us any money for balancing the tire. When the KTM mechanic approached us to make sure we didn’t need anything else before he headed out for the day, Rocky told him about the surging and the mechanic tugged on the chain. He told us that a new one was needed, and that reminded Rocky of the time the bike stalled when we were in Campbellton, New Brunswick. The chain was fairly new but the bike was fully loaded when it stalled going down a hill. That may have put a lot of tension on the links, causing them to stretch. At least we finally knew what the problem might be.
We packed up to leave but continued chatting with Craig. He was a mean looking guy that enjoyed riding a Harley Davidson. A customer and friend of his showed up and joined the conversation. Jason, along with his son Braydon, offered us a place to set up the tent on their property. Craig then suggested that we might as well stay at his camp, where we could spend the night on a bed in the spare room. We would have been happy at either place. We all met at Jason’s, a beautiful house located in Hillsborough, New Brunswick, where we were introduced to his wife Lisa and his daughter Bridgette. We also met Craig’s other half, Betty. Jason grilled some steak and poured us some beer as we all got to know each other. After eating, he offered to ride us around his property. Jason is the Quarry Operations Manager for the company, Brunswick Limestone. With the Limestone Quarry located on his property, he offered to give us a tour on a crazy looking Dune Buggy that had adrenalin written all over it. Rocky and I strapped in and held on to the ‘holy shit bars’ as we sped though the dirt and gravel paths. After racing around and doing a few 360’s and 180’s, I was chewing on dirt and picking mud out of my hair. It was the most fun that I have had in a long time.
As it became late in the day, Craig and Betty drove Rocky and I to the camp. Betty’s camp was a log home situated deep in the back roads of Hillsborough. Resting on the top of a hill, it offered a fantastic view. Craig’s friend Aaron joined us there, and, after a few drinks, Rocky told them he was a bit disappointed to have not seen any moose in Newfoundland. Craig said he had been spotted one a few days back and suggested we go back to the same spot to see if it was still hanging around there. It was a great drunken idea but I highly doubted our mission to meet moose would pan out. We tip toed with excitement hoping to get a peek. Just as we reached the end of a driveway at a different camp, we immediately saw a mother moose with her baby at the salt licks. A salt lick is a deposit of mineral salts that animals use to supplement their nutrition, ensuring that they get enough minerals in their diets. Hunters sometimes use artificial salt licks, either blocked or bagged, to attract wildlife such as moose, to encourage potential prey to frequent an area. With Craig being a hunter, I think he got more excited than we did. It was pretty awesome.
We got back to camp and had a few more drinks before two more of Craig’s friends showed up. We were introduced to Animal and Jamie and quickly found out why his friend had been nicknamed Animal. He was absolutely hilarious. As I sat back to take a good look at these guys, I watched them exude toughness but I had to laugh when Craig said that he doesn’t go to work to make friends. I had to remind him that his new friends he met at his work didn’t believe that for a second. Craig and his friends were sweethearts, whether they would admit it or not.
After a very late night, we woke up early to Betty cooking breakfast. Craig had to work early and I felt bad for his hangover. All of our belongings were at Jason’s, so she dropped us off there before driving Craig to work. When we got to Jason’s, I was still exhausted. Rocky borrowed Jason’s dirt bike and followed Braydon to the back roads to learn how to dirt bike. Braydon is barely a teenager but his ability to ride was impressive. Even his little sister Bridgette had her own dirt bike and rode with the best of them. While they were having fun I was hoping that a shower would wake me up. But, three hours of sleep after a night of drinking wasn’t enough. After Rocky had returned and showered, Jason offered us a bed to nap on and that did the trick.
Aaron, who we had met the night before, invited us out for a ride. He had a custom made Harley Davidson that made him look pretty badass, but I knew he was more of the polite, calm and collected type. We toured around the area and he took us to a few really pretty places. We then went back to his house to meet his beautiful girlfriend Tara, who invited us to a delicious dinner. Tara is a veterinarian with a big loving heart. Her and Aaron live together with their cat Alexis, a toy poodle named Bella, a boxer named T-bone and two Pitbulls named Gino and Compton. She explained how they just recently began experiencing some problems with the animals getting along. Gino, the Pitbull, was getting old and potentially getting dementia. He had been picking fights with Compton, the other Pitbull, for no apparent reason. It was difficult to understand what she was saying as Compton and Gino cuddled together on a mat, as best friends would. It wasn’t until Tara showed us the fresh wound marks to Compton’s neck that we began to realize the severity.
Tara shared with us how 5 years earlier she met Gino, the beautiful Red Pitbull. She was in search of a dog and had located one on the Internet. When she had arrived at the house to meet him, the owner told her that the dog would cost $2000 because he was an all time winning fight dog. As a veterinarian and animal lover, Tara was devastated to hear that. She expressed her disinterest and proceeded to walk away. As the owner entered his house and was out of site, she saw Gino in a small caged area in the back yard. Without any other thoughts, Tara said that one of two things was about to happen, either Gino was going to eat her or he was going to run with her. When Tara opened the gate, her and Gino raced together into her vehicle. From that moment forth, Tara poured her heart and soul into her new buddy. Gino repaid her efforts by becoming a loving, loyal friend. Despite his traumatic and abused past, he became an incredibly wonderful family pet. It took many years, but as Gino aged, controlling his mind and abilities became much harder for him and his past began to slowly haunt him. It was very difficult to hear Tara express Gino’s story. Gino seemed like such a sweet gentle soul and I could tell the amount of time, love and care that Tara had put into rehabilitating him.
After dinner, we all drove together back to the camp. Betty and Craig were already there ready to introduce us to Wyatt, Craig’s son. Wyatt is a smart, artistic, polite kid. It was really nice to meet him. After the craziness we had the night before, a relaxed night was a mutual decision. Once again, we woke up to the smell of bacon. Betty was great at spoiling us. When she joked about adopting us, we seriously considered. Spending time with them and at the camp had been so much fun. It felt great to be a Redneck, as they called it. We were sad to be leaving but happy to have met such great friends. As we all got into Betty’s Jeep we took one last tour of the backwoods to glance at the lake and surrounding area once again.
We were dropped off at Aaron’s to pick up our things and reacquaint ourselves with our motorcycle. We were never able to bring the bike to camp because the steep dirt roads were slippery mud after all the rain we’ve had this summer. When we got to Aaron’s, Rocky realized that he had forgotten his keys back at camp. Aaron knew where the spare camp key was kept and offered to drive Rocky to get the key for the motorcycle. As they were pulling out of the driveway, I was grabbing some belongings from inside the house and began organizing a few things to bring them outside. Out of nowhere I heard a growl as the dogs rushed to the screen door. Suddenly, Gino grabbed a hold of Compton’s cheek and locked his jaw on Compton’s flesh. I stood there in shock. All I could do was scream for help.
Tara immediately tried stepping in between them but the moment I tried helping her, T-bone, the boxer was gently nipping me away. Tara asked that I try shutting the screen door on Gino’s face but my attempts were pathetic. I rushed for a jug of water to try and drown him from biting but that didn’t work either. It just diluted the blood into making the kitchen look like a murder scene. Aaron and Rocky must of heard me scream for help because they came rushing inside. Exhausting all efforts, everyone attempted to separate Gino’s grip from Compton’s face. I had to take T-bone, the boxer, into the bathroom with me and try to console him. He was confused by the commotion and also trying to get between his friends. After a moment, I heard silence. I rushed out the bathroom as soon as I felt it was safe. There was blood everywhere. With Gino outside in a cage, Tara ran to care for Compton who was hiding in the basement. She said that a little TLC and antibiotics would heal his wounds. All Rocky and I could do was try to clean away the thick smell of blood.
I’m not going to lie, it was a traumatic experience for me and it evoked many emotions. But, I have shared this story because it was a part of our experience and also because I want to take the chance to honor Gino’s life. Sadly, Gino was put to rest that day. And although Tara and Aaron feel that their efforts had somehow failed Gino, I believe that isn’t at all true. They had done their best to provide a gentle soul with the life he deserved and should have been given since birth. Gino was raised by an animal to become a monster. It wasn’t Gino that should have been punished but the asshole who thought it was entertaining to train a dog to constantly fight for its life. Who encouraged it to be violent and raised it to believe that it was necessary and normal to distrust and kill. I seriously wish that it wasn’t Compton who got attacked, or Gino who got euthanized, but that it had instead been the piece of shit who bragged that his dog was worth $2000 for never having lost a fight. May You Rest In Peace, Gino.Click to read Tara's story
Our hearts felt heavy as we continued our journey. With a long day ahead of us, we rode to Hopewell Rocks and attempted to distract our minds. Hopewell Rocks are located on the shores of the Bay of Fundy. They are rock formations that stand between 40-70 feet tall caused by tidal erosion. Due to the extreme tidal range of the Bay of Fundy, advancing and retreating tides, along with waves, have eroded the base of the rocks at a faster rate than the tops, resulting in their unusual shapes. The tides vary from day to day but the high tide can be as high as 16 meters (52 ft.) giving The Hopewell Rocks one of the highest tides in the world. Twice a day the base of the formations are covered in water, we visited during low tide so that we were able to walk around.
I had contacted a guy from couchsurfing.org and we arranged to stay with him at his place in Saint John, New Brunswick. On our way to his house, we had stopped for dinner in a town called Alma. Known for its delicious seafood, I was excited for dinner. With only a limited time left in the East Coast, we were yet to have a lobster dinner. During lobster season in the East Coast, chicken is more expensive to purchase. We walked into a tiny restaurant that also served as a convenience store. In this very casual atmosphere, we were served an incredible lobster dinner.
When we arrived at Ross’s house, it was almost dark. Ross met us outside and told us we were going to have a bonfire in the yard. Rocky loves to build fires and I love to sit by their warmth, it was a great plan. While Rocky started the fire, I ran inside to use the washroom and bring some things inside.
It sucks to say this, but it’s what happened. As soon as I walked in, I was slapped in the face with the smell of cat litter. Ross asked me not to mind the mess but it was an uncomfortable dirty. When he showed me the bedroom, where Rocky and I would be spending the night, I didn’t know how to react. I didn’t want to make him uncomfortable but he put me in an uncomfortable situation. The floor was sticky and I was afraid to set my bags down. The pillows on the bed had no cases and were covered instead with a rainbow of stains. I would never dare to check between the sheets. I walked into the bathroom and immediately noticed that the floor was carpeted with a thick layer of dust and black curly hairs. There was no toilet paper, good thing I have an emergency stash.
It was such an awkward predicament to be in. I wasn’t comfortable staying there. I was grateful for his kind intentions. He was a really sweet guy and it was fun to sit by the bonfire with him and his friends but I would never put a turd on a platter and invite you for dinner. Rocky and I slept on our own blanket and left early the next morning.
I wondered if we would see Marty again, the Australian we had met on the ferry to Manitoulin Island in Ontario. He had contacted us on Facebook and said he would be traveling near us. We were excited and agreed to meet. After grabbing a coffee and a few things at the grocery store, Martin, Rocky and I had a great place to camp. Tucker Park Beach was more than perfect. After our tents were pitched, Marty and I jumped in the water for a refreshing swim. It was nice to hang out with Martin and hear all of his experiences on the road. It was also exciting to share all of the memorable locations that he must not miss on his way through Newfoundland. He planned on traveling further east in the morning but Rocky and I decided to stay at Tucker Park Beach to do an oil change on the motorcycle. Half way through, it began to rain. The rain continued for the next 24 hours. We got out of the tent to finish the oil change every time we thought that the rain had stopped, but minutes later it would begin to pour down again.
The rain eventually stopped the next day and we were able to get back on the road. We planned on traveling to the Canadian/American border but weren’t sure which side we would end up sleeping on. Once we arrived to St. Stephen, New Brunswick, we stopped at Tim Hortons for a cup of coffee and to dry out our camping gear. While we were there, we were approached by a local named Bernard, he was also on a motorcycle. With black clouds quickly covering the sky, he invited us to spend the night at his house, and just as we arrived there the rain began to pour down.
Bernard lived with his wife Diane in a pretty house by the train tracks. Diane and I immediately got along as we sat at the kitchen table exchanging tales. She gave me a little bit of history of St. Stephen, Canada’s Chocolate Town. I didn’t know why it was called that so she asked that Rocky and I take a trip over to the grocery store. We went with her and she insisted on buying us some Ganong chocolates! nom nom nom mmm chocolate. :p Ganong Chocolate Company was established in 1873 making it Canada’s oldest candy company and one of St. Stephen’s main employers. After a quick drive past the factory and around the entire tiny town, we returned to her house for a few more laughs and a cozy bed to sleep on. It was one last reminder of the kindness we received from all the friendly strangers in the East Coast.
Visiting Eastern Canada was a humbling experience. The landscape was ridiculously pretty and it amazed me that such a large population of incredibly kind, generous, friendly people, all live there. Leaving Canada is always difficult because we leave our comfort zone, but this time it feels a bit tougher.