CC Roadtrip: Quebec to Cape Breton – The Final Push Home

Céad Míle Fáilte

I don’t know if it’s only Cape Bretoners and Newfoundlanders that feel that special feeling when they get the first glimpse of the places they call home, or if people from other regions experience it too.  Maybe it has something to do with living on an island, or the history of the place, or something more intangible.

I have to apologise for my delay in finishing the roadtrip series.  Since I returned home, I started a new job, and had a pile of work to do around the property to get caught up on.  It’s given me a little bit of time to reflect on the trip, and life in general.

On the highway in La Belle ProvanceHeaded East Near Quebec City

We arose the next morning around 7:00 to a frosty, clear day.  The car fired up without issue – the MAF cleaning seemed to do the trick. The highways in Quebec were mostly excellent – recently resurfaced divided highway, with traffic being fairly light.  There wasn’t much to see at first, but as the miles clicked by we started to get views of the St. Lawrence River, and the Laurentian Mountains beyond it.

Beautiful Scenery along the AutorouteGorgeous Scenery along Autoroute 20

It must be beautiful to see in the summertime.  There were low hills to the right of us, the mountains across the river on the left and farmland on the flat in the middle.  You could see the little towns, each with their own church, quite clearly.

IMG_1928 The interestingly-named Saint-Louis-du-Ha!-Ha!…

Upon turning south, the highway started to get hilly again for the first time since Ontario.  It is my understanding that this is mostly new road, as the old single-lane highway was quite dangerous.  I’d heard lots of stories of people passing on the shoulder of the road in this section.  There was still a bit of old highway still in place in this stretch, but they are working to replace it.

Into New BrunswickA big rock cut in New Brunswick

We crossed into New Brunswick, and stopped for lunch.  After gassing up, we continued on.  New Brunswick has managed to divide its Trans-Canada section, which made for a nice easy drive.  The TCH follows the route of the Saint John River for a few hundred kilometers, very near the top of the valley for this particular section.  I do have to say, this is my least favourite time of year – everything looks so dead…lots of browns and greys, and just waiting for the buds and leaves to appear on the trees.  The contrast between Vancouver and the Maritimes is pretty apparent.  We won’t get the green on the trees until around the beginning of June or so.  That being said, the views along this stretch of highway are nice, even this time of year.

View of St. John River ValleyThe Saint John River

As we headed southward beyond Fredericton, the provincial capital, the highway grew closer the river.  This part of the Saint John River is well known for flooding, and before the divided highway was put through, the highway itself was known to flood over.

View of the Saint John River near JemsegThe Saint John River, Flooded near Jemseg, NB

The picture above shows the river flooded near the road.  The old highway alignment is just beyond the trees, you can see how close the water is to the road surface.  When they put in the new highway, they elevated it quite a bit to allow for this.

As the day went on, we stopped in Moncton to gas up and give the car a wash as a reward to it for working so well.  We stopped at Cabela’s – the first time for Dad and George.  They were amazed at the size and selection of hunting, fishing, camping – I think it covered all of the -ing’s.  It was around 7:30 PM or so, and we decided to keep going until we got into Nova Scotia.  Thankfully, it wasn’t that far.

NS BorderWelcome to Nova Scotia!

It’s strange – Not all of the borders had signs welcoming visitors – New Brunswick and Alberta stick out in my mind – but Nova Scotia certainly does.  It doesn’t show up well in this picture, but we have a lighthouse, and a billboard at our border.  For years, we had a bagpiper play here in the summer to greet visitors to Nova Scotia, as a bit of acknowledgement to the Scottish heritage of the province.  According to Trip Advisor, it appears to still be the case.  We pulled off in Amherst for the night.  We were only about 5 hours from home, but we didn’t want to take the chance when we had driven all day.

First sign of home!

First sign of home!

We started out, excited to be on the home stretch.  We soon got the first indication we were getting close, with Cape Breton Island being 221 KM/137 MI away.  The driving would be mostly good, but the divided highway would end in Sutherland’s River.  There’s only one more stretch of divided highway, through Antigonish.  The government has been slowly twinning the highway in the province, but I doubt I will ever see the Trans-Canada twinned here in my lifetime.

Canso CausewayThe Canso Causeway, from the air on the way out west…

We arrived at the Canso Causeway.  Built in 1955 to connect mainland Nova Scotia to Cape Breton Island, it replaced the rail and car ferries that serviced the island previously.  Anyone that calls themselves a Caper is always happy to see the arch pictured at the top of the page, and be back on home soil on the other side of the swing bridge.  Once on Cape Breton, we had a choice to make – the Trans Canada- Highway 105, or the shorter, narrower 104 and Route 4.  we decided to take the shorter of two routes to get home.  We ended up surprising my daughter by picking her up at school, and continued home.

Home Sweet Home - Finally!Home, and in one piece, too!

We were all pretty happy to make it to Sydney in one piece, and with no real issues, either.  For the last leg of the trip, we:

Travelled 1438 KM, and burned 151 litres of fuel, which worked out to an average of 10.5 Litres/100 KM, or 22.5 MPG.  Pretty darn good, given we were travelling at 110-115 KM/H most of the time.  Overall, we travelled 6335 KM, burned 639 Litres of fuel at a cost of $665.93, at an average of 10.14 litres per hundred kilometers. Converted, it works out to 3936 miles, 168.8 US gallons/140.5 Imperial gallons, 23.2 US MPG/28 Imperial MPG.  The average hotel room was about $115 taxes included, with the cheapest being the Accent Inn in Richmond, BC at $71 dollars taxes in, and, oddly enough, the most expensive was the Comfort Inn in Amherst, NS at $160 taxes in.  Hotels worked out to around $800.  Plane ticket was around $800 as well.  I spent $350 for the alternator, $300 for tools and miscellaneous items.  I think including everything, including registration once I got home (and paying 10 percent Nova Scotia sales tax on top of paying BC and Federal tax), it came out to around $6000.

Well, I’ve been home for three weeks now, and I’ve had some time to reflect on the whole trip.  Did I enjoy it?  Absolutely.  Do I regret not seeing more?  Yeah, I do.  I wish I had taken some time to see more of the country.  But the reality of it was that we really didn’t have that much time to explore…we only had about three extra days to play with before he had to get back to work.

The car was great.  I intend to do a proper review of it – to give it the due it deserves after effortlessly transporting  us cross-country.  And no-one was sore after a 12 hour day in it!

Thanks, everyone for the positive comments!  It was a real confidence booster in my skills as a writer, and I sincerely appreciate it.  Any questions at all – I will do my best to answer them in the comments!