Reader’s Stories: Tale of a Father/ Son Road Trip – The Cabot Trail

INTRO – Editor ‘arris

Father (Karim) and son (Marco) Ouji, tell a tale about the search for a motorcyclist’s nirvana. Having had enough of Toronto riding, the East Coast’s Cabot Trail seemed like it could feasibly be a bike lover’s promised land… does it live up to their expectations in the end? Read on…


riding on curve
Nostalgia for hills, water and twisty roads brought Marco to rider’s paradise

Passed my motorcycle M1 test – check! Took a rider’s training M2 course – check! Purchased a bike – check! Now, where to ride?

It was only about a month before the thrill of riding for the sake of improving my lap times or basking in the ‘poser’ image started to wear off for me. These weren’t the reasons I had initially decided to get into bikes.

Maybe it was because of my European upbringing that I missed seeing vast bodies of water by my side, mountainous cliffs towering above me, not to mention turn after turn of winding roads. The motorcycle community in Ontario had helped me solve my queries about what groups to ride with and where to ride in the vicinity, but every time I opened a National Geographic or spoke to friends back home in Italy, I found myself wanting for more.

toronto departure
Early morning: Karim and Marco each prep their Kawasaki EX500 and Honda CB900

After hounding countless riders about ideas on where to take a road trip, I decided the best place to travel to would be the Atlantic States and Provinces, with the Cabot Trail as the ultimate goal. So, with 30,000 km under my belt over the course of a year, I left Toronto along with my father, Karim. We would head east, for our 10-day excursion. I’d be on my Kawasaki EX500, which I found would provide an excellent combination of comfort and sporty handling (plus, a great money-saver in the insurance department). My father, however, hadn’t ridden a bike in about twenty years! He had recently returned to the sport and would accompany me on a Honda CB900.

We left Toronto bright and early to face the extremely tiresome highway 401 and headed eastbound towards Montreal.

Marco Vermont
Taking time out to take Vermont in

Just past 11am, and after a few hours of riding, we arrived in Montreal. There we relaxed, enjoying some fresh bread and pastries. We also decided we’d stop somewhere for the rest of the day to become better acquainted with the local culture. Settling for the small town of Magog, (just under two hour’s ride south of Montreal), we rode along Route 10, and had a great ride. There were slopes, winding curves and there was great scenery everywhere. At about 4 pm we were dead tired, so we retired for the day at the Ranch du Spaghetti, a fairly decent motel rendered unique by its restaurant. The restaurant’s main feature was its ‘bread bar’, where patrons could grill a variety of breads on a gas grill and top it with an assortment of butters cheeses and spreads.

Our goal for Day 2 was to head south to Vermont, move east through the US and then up once more to New Brunswick. Route 2 from St. Johnsbury (Vermont) to Bangor (Maine), was beautiful. Forests gripped the tight roads, and nonexistent traffic was an excellent change from the day before. The White Mountains towered over us. I recall thinking that if the Cabot Trail was anything like this I would have seen everything I could possibly have wished for. Heading northeast on route 9 was a rush. I lost my father on several occasions through the turns. He prefers to take the scenic approach to riding, while I enjoy using skills I am developing, once the roads become fun.

bike on twisty road
Where’s dad? Lost him again!

This was a very extreme road with clean roads and posted limits of 55 mph (I think not!). Decreasing radius turns and long sweepers make it a blast of an experience! After what seemed like only a few hours we crossed the border and returned back into Canada. Coming from Ontario, we hear numerous stories of how the people of the East Coast are some of the friendliest folk around, so we reserved a room at St. Stephen’s Blair House Inn.

Blair House Inn
Marco in front of the Blair House Inn after a breakfast fit for kings

The service there was impeccable! If only everyone could be so naturally hospitable. Being at the Inn made me realize that it had been quite a while since I had had a regal breakfast such as theirs. Blueberry pancakes, fresh toast and preserves, bacon and eggs, may seem like a simple breakfast, but one taste and it was anything but!

There, we met a rider and his wife traveling from the States on their Yamaha V-Star. We all got along great and rode together all the way to Amherst, Nova Scotia. We all ended up eating at Wallaby’s Restaurant, where fresh turkey is prepared on the grounds. It was tasty, yummy and so on. We then went our separate ways where my father and I followed coastal route 6 to Pictou, Nova Scotia.

Pals with V-Star
Hooking up for a ride with our new friends and their V-Star

Along the way, we had our first and only cop sighting. Luckily for us at the time, we were following the speed limit. Now, what is the East Coast famous for? In my opinion, it’s fishing. So, where is the mention of lobster and fish you may ask? In Troy, we stopped along the ocean road and bought two lobsters at $7.50/ lb. They were freshly caught one hour before and were the tastiest I’ve ever had. Troy, located on Cape Breton Island, (about an hour from the Cabot Trail), was where we spent the night. Marg’s Bed and Breakfast was a modest place, but very clean and cozy. The home is situated on a large section of land, with a great, peaceful view of Cape Breton.

Finally! So, what is there to say about the Cabot Trail?

It’s very difficult to describe, but to be put simply: it’s life altering. I could never in my wildest thoughts have imagined turn after mind-numbing turn for hundreds of kilometers. It’s hard to describe the enjoyment I experienced. Also, to add to the thrill, we rode along the Atlantic Ocean for most of the time. Beautiful! The cliffs in that part of the world are heart stopping! They rose up to 400 meters above us, and then dove down.

Dad and cliff
After 20 ‘bikeless’ years, Karim gets back in the saddle

Like with all things of great beauty, please believe me when I say the photos with this article do not do the Cabot Trail justice. I strongly urge anyone who lives within a few days distance from Nova Scotia, to take a trip to the Cabot Trail. Finally, I was satisfied because I had seen what I wanted to!

We then drove to Margaree Valley (still part of the Cabot Trail) and stayed at the Heritage River Guest House. It was a beautiful home with the highest degree of hospitality. The host, Harry Crawford owns the convenience store next door and service was always a footstep away.

The weather in Atlantic Canada is supposed to vary, yet this was our first and only day with poor conditions. We left Margaree Valley in the early morning accompanied by drizzle for about an hour. Then it hailed! We went though about an hour of heavy rain and pellets of ice. Cars were pulled over to the side of the road, but we just kept going, trying so hard to keep our visors from fogging. Then, finally, the beautiful sunshine returned. We then caught the ferry to PEI. Prince Edward Island is a very relaxed and pleasant province, complete with rolling hills and red-sand beaches. This had to have been the most relaxed day of all. Not a care in the world. Time to walk downtown and experience the people and their way of life.

A beach in PEI. (photo: gov’t of PEI )

We left PEI late in the morning and crossed the Confederation Bridge, to New Brunswick. It is said you cannot see over the railing; but we both had a great view of the ocean. The ride from here was extremely boring and we felt great fatigue heading back to St. Stephen. We stopped off in a stunning 1852 mansion for the night. Anne’s B&B at Elim Lodge, was our favorite accommodation over the course of the trip. The hosts were the nicest people – they made us feel like family, not strangers. The house was beautiful and we stayed in a large room with en-suite bathroom and two canopy beds. Luxury!

The next morning, we headed back home. I felt rested, and revitalized. I sensed that I had seen so much and experienced some in-depth views on life. As I see it, I still to this day can see bits and pieces of my Cabot Trail trip in my mind.

Some of it is still much too awe inspiring, to be able to put it into words. It’s been said and repeated, but my message is to live life to the fullest. Life begins simply as a breath of air and ends in the same way. Make what falls in between count, if not for anyone else, for yourself.


Story by: Marco A. Ouji and Karim Ouji (Marco invites you to contact him for advice or info regarding their itinerary, at : motorcyclesforlife@hotmail.com )


THE TRIP ROUTE:

– Hwy 401 East from Toronto, Ontario to Montreal, Quebec.

– Route 10 East from Montreal, Quebec to Magog, Quebec.

– Route 55 South from Magog, Quebec.

– Cross USA Boarder.

– Interstate 91 South from USA Border to St. Johnsbury, Vermont.

– Route 2 East from St. Johnsbury, Vermont to Bangor, Maine.

– Route 9 East from Bangor, Maine to Canadian Border.

– Canadian Border (St. Stephen, New Brunswick)

– Route 1 East from St. Stephen, New Brunswick to Sussex, New Brunswick.

– Hwy 2 East from Sussex, New Brunswick to Amherst, Nova Scotia.

– Route 6 East from Amherst, Nova Scotia to Pictou, Nova Scotia.

– Hwy 104 East from Pictou, Nova Scotia to Troy (Cape Breton), Nova Scotia.

– Hwy 105 North from Troy, Nova Scotia to St. Ann’s, Nova Scotia.

– Enter Cabot Trail (counter-clockwise) to Margaree Valley, Nova Scotia.

– Margaree Valley South on Hwy 105, to Baddeck (Cape Breton), Nova Scotia.

– Hwy 105 South from Baddeck, Nova Scotia to Troy, Nova Scotia.

– Hwy 104 West from Troy, Nova Scotia to Pictou, Nova Scotia.

– Ferry to Prince Edward Island.

– Route 42 North-West to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

– Route 1 West from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island to Borden, Prince Edward Island.

– Confederation Bridge to Cape Tormentine, New Brunswick.

– Hwy 6 South to Hwy 2. – Hwy 2 West to Sussex, New Brunswick.

– Hwy 1 West from Sussex, New Brunswick to St. Stephen, New Brunswick

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