The Lookoff – YIKES!

Tuesday, August 26: Day Two of our Taste of the Maritimes bicycle tour.

Today’s was a big ride. We totaled about 35 miles, but we had in our “sights” The Lookoff climb, which we all knew would be a kicker of a crank.

We began by heading to Starrs Point, and en route, Mary led us on a short loop to see a plaque that explained a bit about the Planters of Cornwallis, the folks the British government of the 1700s asked to come and take over the exiled Acadian farmlands. New England settlers came and became known as Planters by the remaining locals.

The funny thing was that the monument with the plaque was right in front of a pig pasture, and the pigs were there, doing their piggy things, just digging and rooting around. We had a grand time photographing the pigs, but Mary kept asking, “Did anyone even read the plaque?”

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Not really. We were having fun with the pigs and they were young enough to be cute, so many photos were taken. History can wait.

Our route included a visit to the Prescott House Mansion early in our ride, to tour the house and/or gardens. Jack and I did only the gardens, which were lovely. We left before the home tour began.

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Our intrepid leaders, Mary and Allen.
Our intrepid leaders, Mary and Allen.
Jack taking a photo of me taking his photo.
Jack taking a photo of me taking his photo.

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Jack and I rode on to our next stop, the Blomidon Winery, where they were doing quite a lot of construction, for an expansion of their food service. As it was still only about 10 or 10:30 when the rest of the pack arrived, most of us skipped the offered wine tasting. The fine folks at Blomidon Winery gave us a very nice rest/break snack of excellent cheeses and crackers. Alan broke out the mixed nuts and it was (nearly) a party.

Having their vinyards right beside the Minas Basin allows Blomidon to grow grapes that otherwise wouldn't grow in Nova Scotia.
Having their vinyards right beside the Minas Basin allows Blomidon to grow grapes that otherwise wouldn’t grow in Nova Scotia.

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Our next stop: The Lookoff, which Jack and I had driven past with Roomba about a week earlier, when we missed the turn to Blomidon Provincial Park. We crossed the Cornwallis River and rode along another dyke, and climbed gradually up and up toward the Blomidon bluff. Not everyone chose to tackle the climb, but many of us did.

Then we turned onto the road straight to The Lookoff. We may have made a lot of the elevation change before we got to the final climb, but it was a huge chug regardless. It was every bit as difficult as we’d been warned.

On top of which, as we turned toward the steepest of the climb, all the breeze from the Minas Basin was cut off from our location, so it got hot in a hurry.

Among our group, Bruce made it up first, and Jack was second, and because a couple of the other guys stopped to wait for wives or to capture a photo, I made it up third. Man, was it good to see the top. More peeps arrived as we visited the washrooms and took photos of the view.

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While there, I saw about 4 large birds at eye-height to us, but distant from The Lookoff. I thought they were either bald eagles or vultures. I watched them for a while, but just couldn’t tell for sure. Just as I was about to leave The Lookoff, one of them turned just so, and I was able to see the white tail. Frankly, whether they were vultures or eagles, it was a fun aerial display as they worked the wind and played so high in the sky.

The “slide” back down from The Lookoff was careful because the pavement was so bad, but quite a welcome relief not to have to pedal to cover some good distance. We’d rested and had a potty break at the top, so we all carried on to Fox Hill Cheese, where we re-united with those who chose not to climb.

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At that point, Alan reported that he’d read/heard about the WDBJ shootings, and knowing that Jack and I were local to the events, he wanted us to know before we had to see it on TV or someplace. One of our group hit the internet to get the details, and we were so very sad to hear that Joe Dashiell’s colleagues were mortally wounded in the event (early Wednesday, August 26). We were heartbroken for all the WDBJ family.

With heavy hearts, and under a loury sky, we departed the cheese place and carried on to Victoria’s Inn, with a quick stop at Sea Level Brewpub for a pint before we all had to get ready to take the van out to Hall’s Point, right on the Bay of Fundy, to our dinner stop, Hall’s Lobster Pound.

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It rained the entire way out there, so our hoped-for outside seating was not possible. But we went in, chose our lobsters from the aquarium (for lack of a better word for it) and a great storyteller (named Lowell) gave us the low-down on lobsters — what they eat, how long they live, and so forth.

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Then we sat down and I broke into my first whole lobster. My overall impression of lobster (yeah, it’s okay, but I like shrimp better and so the cost of lobster is really wasted on me) did not improve with this experience. Sure, it was fun, and there were enough folks at the table who love lobster and could guide me in taking one apart for the “good stuff,” but, well; meh.

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Who knew that barnacles would grow on lobster claws? Not I.
Who knew that barnacles would grow on lobster claws? Not I.
The damage done at my end of the table.
The damage done at my end of the table.

When we arrived at the harbor, the tide was out. When we finished dinner, the Fundy tide was returning and the photos tell it all. Happily, the rain had stopped by then also, so we were able to hang out near the pier a while as the sun set.

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