Poker Run Cabot Trail September 2019

Hello out there!
It was a big weekend for those who chose to drive. Countless BCCCB members arrived at 1409 for the season wrap up. Or was it wrap around – The Cabot Trail.
Costumed members attracted some odd lots and fun attention as His Lordship, Billy Macd, blessed the fleet and gave direction [and a card] to our next stop.  Perhaps our longest segment of the weekend, a parade of 13 vehicles with 23 occupants headed for Baddeck.  No worries about speed traps,  we had the The Chief of Police, Wilf, and Florence Nightingale, Sandra, guide and guard us.  His Lordship greeted us in Baddeck and the Cats Meow, Moragh, carefully guided him through the difficult steps of a second card distribution.
Now it was off for the blistering run all the way to the Red Barn led by the flying ace, Bill e, and capable bombadier /navigator, Susan.  For food, drink, fine crafts souvenirs this was the tour! The next stop was Big Spruce – we didn’t even have to start our cars the leg was so short.
It became clear at this stop just how some peoples’ minds were working. Sampling the brews and more food, time in the sun enjoying the view hinted strongly at a pattern forming.  With Whycocomagh just a few Kms away it was decided to forge on,   bravely weathering the warm sun, open road and fully 15km isolated in our motorized units.  Don’t despair dear reader no one suffered. Just a few seconds to catch up was all we planned and in 20 minutes we were speeding away in excess of 60kph!  Yes risk of vertigo, multiple Gs in the turns, wild squealing tires, I say risk of but not achieved.
Arriving in Mabou about 2 we were just in time to get a food top up from the well stocked car trunks and grocery store near by. Our effort to recreate the old time all day trip had been accomplished in just 30 minutes so some celebration was deserved and hungry was averted – narrowly.  The reality of “Running the Trail” was sinking in.  Could we continue at this pace? Eat this much? Sit in the sunny convertibles for 1/2 hour at a time?  We needed some courage. A third card was issued to lure us on with promises of gold or cash..
The Glenora Distillery is well placed to fortify the weary traveller. And some comfort was taken there.  For those who held back or needed additional shoring up it was good to know we were just 10 minutes from Route 19.  Don’t be fooled, this isn’t a reference to a better road.  No, it is an establishment which gives strength to endure the worst of the road.  A few bumps and a patch of dirt had us all ready for an early supper.  It was delightful.  Sampling their brewery yield and nice kitchen products made me think I should perhaps have considered coming in a peddle car! How else could I use up 10,000 calories gained in 100 kms? Was there another card?
Now if you visit Route 19 Pub you will be faced with the dilemma  BCCCBers faced.  should you go “up and to the left” from the parking lot?  Or return down and “to the right’”?  Those big questions were discussed and Alf quietly worked the room person by person swaying all to a single line of cars “up and left”.  Surprisingly the bigger question of Chimney Corner vs Margaree Forks was overlooked. Those on the shorter route along the coast enjoyed a setting sun at their backs and a leisurely drive while the inland routers had a high speed race to cover off the extra kms.  No one was disappointed. Our goal of Cheticamp was achieved before sunset. We had knocked off a blistering 150 miles.  |Should I use km to make it seem bigger?
Now dear reader you have travelled, shared stories of travel and will be familiar with the lonely nights a traveller faces. Desperate times bring a closeness to those who find themselves away from kith and kin.  Our night in Cheticamp was no different. Too weary to drive any further, to tired to talk we passed the evening loudly arguing about everything, eating more and finally getting that last card. No more will be said. The long faces on those so ruthlessly duped into giving $25 is etched in our memories!  Well Nina did seem notably brighter!  Donna was quick to cheer us with several very creative games. A truly enjoyable bit of fun resulted as we tried to scrutinize the inner souls’ of our fellow motoring pioneers.  Some slipped away by 10pm while others said they would handle some vehicle maintenance and fluid checks on various bottles until all worry had gone.
Sunday morning dawned sunny and warming.  Refuelled cars and riders made choices.  Do I have the brakes, time and courage to go all the way? Is this where the mountain goats leave the flatlanders behind?  I am happy to report there were 10 who recklessly chose the former.  Yes off they went – 3km- before the first stop.  Just in time!  I say this because several had money burning their hips and relief was found at Lola’s Hookery.  From here those who chose not to shop faced the mountain alone all together…….
When the driving resumed we soon found our LBCs facing up hill in the mud.  Old fashion British hill climb is how I remember it.  And a segment Flagman waving us on to victory! Others may recall mud on the pavement wetted by the dew.
Now we faced the top, up and down, along and stop – all alone again, together, and with just a few other weary back country pioneer travellers.  Lots of interest in the cars, great scenery.  Could we make Pleasant Bay today?  We give’er all she could suffer down the mountain into the Whale Interpretative Centre parking lot just as the tea and  coffee were asking to leave.  Drop in for a visit if you get up that way, the Center is quite interesting.  I am going to give them some of my bones for display.  No not old fart joints and discs but real whale vertebrae and ribs. That will be another trip.
If memory serves me well all agreed they could do the next mountain without a food stop so it was into the Sunrise Valley before we had a hot brake and cool watermelon stop. Then 10 wild km to the ice cream and crafts.  I think by now we were suffering.  Oh I s’pose the road was a factor but getting in and out of those cars to eat was almost too much.  Some chose to be fed in their car seats.  Now it was into Cape North, Dingwall area and beyond.
No surprise, the adventurers followed Bill, with free will,  all the way to the Coastal Restaurant where food and drink awaited. Nourishment was needed.  It had been sunny and warm, smooth and light traffic.  A few things to complain about had to be found!  Not all seated together, serving too big, only 16 beer to choose from, where was the salad bar?  But calmed by the full bellies and nappish to boot all ate and were able to wander out of the building under their own steam.  An observation should be made at this point.  What many of us thought was a muff or hand warmer in the Clarke’s car was in fact a dog. And it was very generous of it to look after people who chose not to enter buildings we had stopped at along the way.  Drivers and navigators were treated equally by the dog as it walked them around, introduced them to other travellers and pointed its hind leg at featured posts and plants.  something to consider for another trip, a human sitter.
It was decided right there and then Smokey Mountain would not be a barrier!  At the top just minutes later grim faces showed the reality of the undertaking so boldly planned. We had to drive down another hill.  Not to put too fine a point on it but to be fair in covering all the details – no cars were lost. The British held the line, all the way to the bottom. It was after Smokey that we individually chose favourite craft shops, direct run home, cross on the ferry.  Some even had more ice cream!
Thank you to Bill Mac and Moragh who kept the planning rolling.
Some is based on true detail and some is truly fiction.  Submitted by Bill e