The alarm buzzed at 6am and we rose to a bone-dry campsite. I mean, even our tent fly was devoid of condensation. The champagne galley crew of last evening bowed out this morning with very well executed French toast. I remarked to Leigh that, despite traces of a wine hangover and a relatively casual pace, we are getting out of camp a full half hour faster than we had during the first confused days of the trip. As we had prayed, the routine has become automatic. Only a few days of it left.
Speaking of routine and dwindling days, we have created what we call the Motel Clause: if it should happen to rain during any of the days leading up to our ferry crossing to Newfoundland, we will check into a motel instead of erecting a tent in the rain. There is enough exhaustion going around, no need to prove we can do this wet (other than when on the bikes of course). Thanks to the tailings of hurricane Katrina, there's a likelihood we will invoke the Clause in coming days.
Our conduit from PEI to Nova Scotia today is a 75-minute ferry ride...but it's a 75km ride to the terminal. Leigh and I pushed off alone around 8am on the presumption that the next possible sailing was 11:30. We should hussle.
Half an hour into it we passed briefly through Charlottetown proper - the father city of Confederation. We wished we had a little more time to scope the place. Our route took us away from the busy main highway whenever possible, and into quite scenic pastoral, ocean-side scenery. The beauty of the island sound became taken for granted because we were fighting constant small hills and ANOTHER blasting headwind. I cut into the gale to allow Leigh to rest her knee a little. We stopped, panted, snacked and shook our heads in disbelief at the ticking clock. If we fight like idiots, we'll get to the terminal around quarter after eleven, surely before whatever cutoff for check-in is in policy.
Mercifully the Wood Islands ferry terminal fell before us at 11:07 and as we checked in, the lady urged us to sprint across the lot and onto the boat, which turned out to be a few minutes late for what was actually an 11am sailing. Phew! Five minutes later, we'd have been wondering what on earth to do at the little terminal until the next sailing a couple hours later.
A dozen or so riders made this sailing and we lined up for lunch, sitting window-side, chatting and peering out at the sea. We will touch down on our ninth province...
Nova Scotia! We all high-fived again at the highway greeting sign. Onward, into the wind, but at least on notably superior roads. Nova Scotia's scenery is very similar to the balance of the maritime provinces: quaint houses, rolling hills, the ocean not far away.
Six or so of us stopped in the town of New Glasgow. You have one guess as to where we ate a snack.
Okay...thirty clicks left. Leigh and I joined Ken for the balance of the ride in. Although cloudy, it is deceptively muggy here. I personally have been neglecting the water intake over the past couple days, and the effects of last night's wine didn't help...wow, did I dry myself out. I am now writing in the shelter of the seaside campground, working on my fifth liter of water and still feeling rough around the edges. Better reinstitute my Camelbak tomorrow.
The weatherman has been threatening rain as a side effect of the Caribbean's Hurricane Katrina and we didn't pitch our tents a moment too soon. Rain has returned to the scenario. Probability of precipitation tomorrow: at least 80%. We are VERY VERY tired now...the legs are bouncing back less and less completely between rides and the hills / winds aren't helping...but Newfoundland is well within our grasp. The misery's intensity diminishes under this knowledge. Our tribulations are now insurmountably finite. Signal Hill, and the emotions waiting at her summit, are beginning to manifest. I get a little misty just imagining it. Rain doesn't bother me now. Nothing does. Besides, we can always invoke the Motel Clause. Goodnight.