Isle De Madeleine, so close and yet so far. How close? Just ask Norm and Joan as well as Alfred and Gary. While most of us did an overnighter to get to this beautiful Island, the forenamed 4 got up early in the morning and by 7pm they had their feet out of their British Cars and on French soil. That's how close. A number of years ago I had decided to take a trek to these islands on my Motorcycle, I got as far as the Seal Island Bridge when I developed a nasty fuel leak, back home I went, another time perhaps. Another time has now presented itself. Back in January Bob Jardine and Bill MacDonald introduced at our club meeting, a planned Maggies Tour for 2013 and it was a very welcomed idea. So close and yet so far, now is our chance to explore this beautiful island. I am going to start this story with a thank you to Bob and Bill for putting together a great travel itinerary. Very good job. Read on to see what these two put together for us. One amazing trip for sure.
Day one. Seeing whereas we didn't have many miles to travel today, our departure time as set for 10 am. And where? Well why not start your day with a very hardy breakfast at the Bras D'or View Restaurant. Glenda, our server was excellent and we all had our fill while waiting for all to arrive. Now, to tell the truth, my day started with a phone call. I guess Bill was packing his trunk and the trunk lid became jammed. Do you have a drill, he asked. I told him not to worry , we'll get it open and Don and I did just that at the restaurant. Packed to tightly was the cause so a few items had to be removed from Moragh's luggage. True gentlemen don't want to see what's inside a ladies luggage, so Paul and I backed away while Bill did a clothing transfer.
Speaking of luggage, the picnic basket on Mary and Mikes car is a very nice touch and gives added luggage space. Or maybe this isn't luggage inside. The pad lock is a give away that something good is inside. As it turns out the lock had to be cut away, there was no key and with a quick swipe of Donnie Swiss army knife, the lock was gone. Good ole Donnie, a trunk fixer and a lock cut away go to guy. Above you have Don leaving good ole Cape Breton behind for 6 days. I hope his car is in one piece when her returns, we'll see.
Part of our route to New Glasgow was around the Sunrise Trail. Bill MacDonald's buddy owns a restaurant along this very scenic drive, Boyd's Seafood Galley. Trust me on this... A must stop in place, as the two piece fish and chips is enough to feed a family.
Above Bob and the lovely Judy as well as Paul and the charming Estelle enjoying their lunch in this very picturesque part of Nova Scotia. Ricky Cousins once said to me "Alonzo, we're going to get you a house by the water because you turn off at all the wharves." Well if you didn't turn off to see what's down these roads you will never see the sights you see, or for that matter, find a restaurant such as this. A great stop.
Great scenery here turning off at this wharf.
Along the Sunrise Trail you come along the Arisaig lighthouse. Here Bob said "we'll never know where we will wind up when following you." It's a very beautiful spot here, a very nice spot to stretch your legs. The first wharf was built here in Arisaig between 1811 and 1813. You can't see from the pictures but just behind Moragh and Don (far left second picture) you can see P.E.I. 18 miles away.
The plan today was to get a few miles behind us so that there isn't a rush to the P.E.I. ferry in the morning. Some of our group stayed in a New Glasgow Motel and a few of us were invited to Nina and Haylett's cottage in Little Harbour for the night. We parked our cars for the night behind the cottage and went inside for a drink. The BBQ was fired up and a feast ensued. A few laughs later it was bed time. While most slept I punched away at the keyboard finishing up the Grand Narrows story and before you knew it the shy was beginning to get bright. Coming down stairs, breakfast was set out on the table, a quick shower and it was time to hit the road for the P.E.I. ferry.
Day two. Ah yes, Mother Nature blessed us with another beautiful day. We left the cottage at 7am and we followed Nina and Haylett to the ferry. One would think that it being the later part of August that the roof should be up this early in the morning but nope, warm as could be. Now it gets a little interesting. Some BCCCB members are taking the 9:30 boat but because of my late phobia we decided on the 8:30 crossing. The rally point will be the Ferry in Souris P.E.I. Now here at the ferry I only expected Don, Carol, Haylett and Nina, as well as myself but there was Alfred walking up the parking lot. Alfred said he left Cape Breton at 4:30 and was here in plenty of time for the boat. Alfred left his lovely wife Donna home and took his buddy Gary along for the ride. Great! Gary speaks French and the pressure is off me. I guess we parked in the wrong lane when we arrived at the ferry, we were reserved, and the traffic director quickly told us the proper lane. We all parked in the proper lane and it was then that Gary noticed something wrong with Alfred's door.
Oh my god! Someone hit Alfred's door. As Alfred and Gary assessed the damage, an elderly gentleman approached full of apologizes. I guess he turned his head for a second and bumped Alfred's car. A little exchange of information and the call for boarding was heard. Top deck! Carol told me not to stop. There was a bad episode once, that we won't get into, when pulling away on a very steep grade such as this but Carol handled the Healey and the steep grade like a pro. Next stop the Maggies Ferry in Souris.
Hail Hail the gangs all here. With Brian and Gloria up front in the Volvo the rest of us were all parked close together waiting for the ferry to the Maggies . I see Norm and Joan's Blue B up in front of the second row, he made it and I am sure knowing Norm he had everything time to the minute. We all were a tad early, why not go for some lunch.
As far as timing goes, there wasn't a lot of time between the first group arriving at the ferry and the second convoy. As we finished our lunch at the Sheltered Harbour restaurant, Norm Joan and the gang arrived. Great timing. We had about 20 minutes to chat at the dock before the announcement for loading could be heard. I chose the Picture of Mike, Mary, Judy and Moragh to represent us chatting for 20 minutes, not only because of the beautiful ladies in the picture but because of the shine on Bill MacDonald's B. I am sure this is the shiniest B in the club.
ALL ABOARD! Time to load the boat. Above you have Donnie going over the ramp to the boat and he didn't buy a ticket yet. Now I see how this works, you buy your ticket on board after you stand in an endless line that moves ever so slow. Of course I was below deck taking pictures and by the time I got in line, I am sure I was the last to purchase my ticket. You can see the line up, as us gallant men battled the line the lovely women were off exploring the vessel. Bill MacDonald entertained us while we waited and finally Bob and Mike got their chance to buy their ticket.
Everybody ticketed and ready to find a seat. Wouldn't you know.... in the Bar there is enough lounges and chairs to seat us all. except me... I am sure I could have slipped in but I had other plans.
All here but Alfred and Gary. Our big adventure is only hour away. The boat ride is 5 hours long but to tell the truth, keeping one's mind busy makes the 5 hours feel much less. I am sure good ole Norm pulled out the crib board at one point.
As for me, I occupied myself by using the onboard internet. What a godsend. Not only did I transfer all my photos to my computer but I also took the opportunity to tweak the Grand Narrows Story and had Alfred and Peter critique it. A few moments later, through the magic of internet the story was up on our site. After all my computer work was done I went for a little walk around the vessel. Next photo we have Bob and Judy. Bob is one of this trip organizers but I am sure, as the saying goes, "Behind every great man is a woman telling him what to do." So I am thinking he checked with Judy to see if the plan was ok with her.
I also discovered Brian MacDonald in his little piece of paradise, nestled in a comfy chair in a corner. His lovely wife Gloria must be out exploring as well. Strolling around some more I found the cafeteria. I heard laughter at the end of the room and wouldn't you know, it was members of the BCCCB breaking the silence of the ship. Just look at the smiles on Mary and Moragh. This is what it's all about folks, Laughter and good times.
As I strolled around some more, I stumbled upon what I think was something like and executives lounge. Very tastefully decorated and very comfortable surroundings, a great place to relax during this long boat ride. I see Mary here as well, she must be out exploring the ship to.
Back to the cafeteria I went. Snacking on a very tasty chicken dinner when someone said they see land out there. After lunch I put the telephoto lens on my camera and snapped a few shots of Entry Island. I wasn't sure what part of the Maggies I was looking at until someone pulled out a map. This wind swept island stands as a testament to the wind and stormy weather that can literally leave no trees standing.
I was out on deck looking at the Maggies when Norm and Joan walked by. They were out strolling the deck like Rose and Jack on the Titanic when they stopped to see the island, I just had to take their picture. Next a few of the guys checking things out. Alfred, Donnie and Haylett, a small group of pilots and sailors discussing different aspects of the Maggies. I believe Haylett had flown here before, Alfred thought sailing here might be to dangerous. I agree with Alfred, the Gulf of St Lawrence can be unforgiving if the wind whips up.
Welcome to Les Iles De Magdeliene! What a great boat ride. It's getting late and it's time to head to the motel. As I pulled over Mike, Mary, Estelle and Paul drove by on their way to the motel. During our voyage Nina noticed her itinerary stated that their return was for Friday night at 8:30 not Friday morning 8:30, so a little adjustment needed to be made. Alas, we are now on our way to the motel.
Le Chateau Marinoit, oh my how posh sounding. This is our stay for two nights. Looks like Bob and Judy are happy to be here, to tell the truth, these two are always smiling, Just happy people. From my room, looking across the courtyard I can see a few of our members out on the patio. I see Moragh had her camera ready so I snapped a picture of them as she snapped one of us.
Ah yes, the first beer of the day. Long day and time to relax. I could hear the pull tab puncturing the can from across the court yard, so I did the same. The cars are parked for the night as this motel has everything we need. With Peter and Sandy over for a visit Don also pours himself a Pepsi with pizzazz. Time for supper
The in house restaurant, de l'Isle Margaulx, was at our disposal and with seating for 74 people they had no problem seating us. With a French menu in hand (English underneath) the ordering began.
So you can see, it looks as though I was happy with my choice off the menu, my face wasn't so lit up when I got my bill, it was a tad expensive. Looks like Moragh has to wait a little longer for her supper but with the huge portion of spaghetti Bill and Mike has, she should just grab a fork and dig in.
Day three. Blessed once more with a perfect day, the sun was shinning and the temperature was warm. We are up early to sink in as much as we can today and I thought that since we already tried out the motel restaurant, lets try somewhere new for breakfast. The first Cafe we stopped at, "Cafe De La Brulerie" was a little shocked to see a large number come in so we moved on to another restaurant down the road.
Les Pas Perdus was our restaurant of choice, and what a nice spot. The warm morning air entered the building through garage door style windows. We did crowd the place and Brian and Gloria sat off to the side, they were served very fast. Some of us moved on to another restaurant and me.... Well I couldn't sit still. I ran down to Tim Hortons for a sandwich and cappuccino and ran back to the restaurant. I did this two or three times. Now on one of my return visits, I was told of a story of how two people from the UAP store next door didn't like where Peter parked his Jag. They boldly put the car in gear and were pushing it towards the street, until Sandy got a hold of them that is. Oh how lucky they are the she has a bum knee or they would have been speaking with a much higher tone for the rest of the day.
On one of my return trips I seen Moragh's great looking breakfast and though I should have stayed, but across the street there was a high steep mountain with stairs leading to the top, I had to try it. I was under the impression Moragh was going to join me after breakfast for the trek up but as time would have it there was other things to see. I snapped a picture of Mike, Bill and Moragh outside the restaurant from half way up the mountain, telephoto lens.
A few shots of Cap-Aux-Meules from atop the mountain. Lots of sheer cliffs all around the island and I'll show a few more throughout the story. Alfred, Gary and I took on the challenge of climbing the stairs and if memory serves me right , there is 170 steps. Quite the view. The view to the west was obscured by heat haze. Going to b a great day.
Heading toward Isle De La Grande Entree, you drive through miles of very flat highway, flanked by either sand dunes or a man made causeway. For those who like a little wind in there hair this is the highway for you. Not only does the wind blow strong here but if your daring enough you can push your car a little faster then you normally would. Yeah!! I pushed it!! How fast can a bored out cammed up MGB engine make a car go.. I ain't talking. I will say I had to wait for everyone to catch up. Civilization finally, I need a washroom.
With the big red Jaguar now close behind me I can start taking pictures again. It's scenes such as this that pop up everywhere, It's a group of islands all connected by flat sandbars. Once again you can see how windswept the landscape is. There is only a tight cluster of trees on a third of the (now connected) island behind us.
The end of Rue 199 on the eastern part of the Island is at Grand Entree. I was a tad bit surprised that there wasn't more boutiques or something in the line of a tourist trap here. Just two cafes and two or three small boutiques. There should be a sign that says 199 starts here, because on the other side of the island you will find "199 FIN."
Lets start working our way back shall we, lets leave the expensive boutiques behind. I did stop in at the tourist information center and the lady told me of a few stops, lets check them out..... I said.... lets check them out..... Don's car liked it here and wasn't ready to leave just yet. For a quick check, Donnie turned the key and I gave the wires to the starter a tug and the car started. A quick check revealed a loose wire on the starter, less then 30 seconds later, there was no loose wire on the starter, lets go. First stop on the way back to the other side of the island was an area of erosion where the sea meets the land with such force, its undercutting the the land making the cliffs edge very unstable.
More rugged coastline. My heavens, this island isn't very big, it can't take to much pounding before it returns back to the sea.
The above photo is just a small example of some of the great seascapes you can find around the Maggies.
We explored as many rugged coastline sceneries as we could. Some of us walked on dangerous outcrops of land with the wave crashing against it only feet away. Above you have Haylett and Gary strolling around on what's left of an eroded outcrop of land and just above us is Peter and Alfred keeping a close eye on us. I wonder, what would they do if we were washed out into the Gulf of St Lawrence... 911 I am guessing.
Alfred was with us the whole day and I am not sure where he found these scenes at. The beach at Harry's Harbour I missed and the picture of the derelict boat hauled up on the grass looks like a painting. Again Alfred's pictures
A little further down the road, we passed earlier, wind surfers. Don asked to stop on the way back to watch. I guess Les Iles De Magdeleine are a mecca for the wind surfing and parasail culture. People come from all over the ride the winds of the St Lawrence and with nothing more then a large sandbar to block the wind in the middle of an inland ocean the winds are perfect for this sport. The gentleman in the middle, with what I think is Bob Marley on his sail, is a bit of a hot dogger. Above he slipped off his board while attempting a stunt but he gets up and tries again.
Just crazy stuff. I watched through the lens of my camera and I was lucky enough to capture these photos. This guy rocks!
Leaving Cap Aux Meules heading towards Havre Aubert Island we had to stop for a moment to see where Don had gone. All was well, he took a side trip to the airport. While we were stopped, I noticed, obscured by the heat haze what appeared to be a shipwreck. I attached my telephoto lens once more and this is what I had seen. The second picture was taken at the the shore below a private residence and the owner had us sign a petition to get rid of the vessel. It's quite the spectacle and the home owner told us it was being towed from Montréal in 1988 and wound up here after a storm came up.
These precarious rocks are just next to the ship wreck. On an Island of beaches, this shipwreck picked the worst spot possible to run aground. No wonder it's been here since 1988. The second picture is of a tribute to the seafarers of the Maggies. These island were created by Mother Nature but survived by the hard work of the seafarers whom of which many lost their lives to the seas that surround it. Alfred's pictures
The parasailors were at every windy beach here at the Maggies and I did miss some great pictures of the sailors hitting waves and hanging in the air for a period of time. Just so you know. the private house is just off to the right in this photo. The bridge from this shipwreck is in their back yard.
Heading towards Havre Aubert, we passed Bill Moragh Mike Mary Norm Joan and Bob and Judy going the other way. They have a lot of miles to cover before supper.
Ah yes, Finally the quaint touristic village of Havre Aubert. This town is literally 10 feet above sea level and just full of people. Here we decided to have some lunch.
ln this little town of Havre Aubert there is a great restaurant, Vent du Large Restaurant, Great food great service and an excellent view. This is my choice of best restaurant I have eaten at on the island. I had some calamari and fish and chips. Absolutely scrumptious. Just look at the pictures, if I didn't know better I would say this was in a desert oasis. In the back ground you see sand dunes and with the fabric shading, it just adds to the atmosphere.
Just across the bay from the restaurant where we were sitting was another windswept highland of this low laying island. Nice and while waiting for lunch I walked behind the restaurant and seen the split point with a sailboat in the background. Nice picture I thought.
Most of us took a little stroll through town to walk off lunch. I hit a few shops but to rich for my blood but it was the scenery that I was after the most anyway. Returning to our cars it was time to complete our journey.
Our Journey for now has a finish line.... 199 FIN. Here we turned around and headed back towards our motel. There are still a stop or two along the way but at one stop, Donnie's MG suffered a little BooBoo. It was bound to happen to one of us and it finally did. One of us bumped into another. This is why we carry insurance.
There was a little side trip or two on the way back to our motel. One being a stop at the PIE-DE-VENT Formagerie. Here I explained the Difference in cheese curds. Squeaky curds, when biting into them is fresh curds, no squeak, well not the freshest. That being said, we continued a little further down the road and came across these scenes. Oh would I love to Kayak under that (elephant trunk) arch. Have a close look at the white on the brown rock in the back ground. Well the white is stains from the birds.... you figure it out. The third picture is from Alfred depicting the ship, the home and the rugged coastline, tying all the aspects of the island together.
Still another stop before supper, Plage Du Nord. North Beach. Now if you know the layout at all of the Maggies, This is the sandbar that runs along for miles in the center area of the Maggies. Love to walk it one day. It is a beautiful beach and yet there were only 4 people in the water. There was quite the breeze today and the water was choppy but I am thinking it was cold as well. Not that it matters to us, we were here sight seeing not swimming.
Supper time! Ok... We ate at the motel, great experience. We had breakfast and lunch on the road, two more great experiences, let see what this evening will bring. This is a very nice, and busy restaurant and we were lucky enough to all be seated close to one another. This is great! Just look at the concentration on our faces as we all studying the menu.
Before I say anything about the next picture I have to say.... Joan got after me every time I took her picture, the times she seen me that is, but I didn't take this one. Not sure who did but it's a great pictures. First off the smile on Judy, my heavens what a beautiful smile and I think Bob had a mouth full of something off the very full looking plate in front of him and me ... I look shell shocked for some reason. I must have seen my bill I guess. Just look at the Cannelloni! My hat goes off to the French, they know how to cook. Another great experience.
Day Four. Early rise for an early boat, lets not waste a day. Time to leave the Maggies but not the memories behind. We were told to have breakfast on the boat, the buffet is excellent, so we all crawled out of bed, showered and made a B-line to the boat. Haylett had shown up with a Tims Coffee..... Geez I thought, I must have been still asleep driving to the boat not to think of that, Anyway, while milling about waiting for the boarding call I noticed a fair amount of white on Bobby's fender. Thinking it was a seagull dive bomber at first, on closer inspection its was determined that Bobby's car was side swiped sometime yesterday. The white paint did come off and thank god there are no creases in the body but there is a few deep scratches that hopefully will buff out. On Bobby's year old restoration, this could have been a very sad day but the damage is almost unnoticeable.
The tip about the buffet on the boat was a great tip! What a selection and I guarantee you, I may not have to eat until supper. $16.95 for all you can eat. I am sure I could fine a breakfast buffet cheaper on land somewhere but here at sea, with great friends, it's a nice way to pass the time. Breakfast took up the first hour, only 4 more hours to go. It's been a busy few days and my old body likes to have a nap from time to time, so where is the bar with the long lounging seats. If your looking for me, that's where I'll be. ZZZZZZZ
This boat ride isn't the end, to tell the truth it's the beginning. it's the beginning of yet another adventure, the British Car Days in Rustico P.E.I. But that's a whole other story. Here at the BCCCB we have great driving adventures, many are local but there are a few that aren't. The few that aren't takes us to places we have no reason to go and we may never go to see if it wasn't for the BCCCB. The Maggies was such an adventure and it should not have been missed, there is no reason to go there unless on a tour such as this. "So close and yet so far."
All that is left to be said is.... If you weren't there you missed it. That's to bad. Come along next time.
photo contributions ...... Alfred Dinaut