Baddeck campground–>Rt. 105 S–>Little Narrows ( Rt. 223)—>South via Castle Bay–>Rt 4 (East Bay)–>South to Soldiers Cove–> Grand River–> Framboise–> Up Rt. 227 out of Forchu–>left on Rt 125 around Sydney–> Rt. 105–> Baddeck campground
We were all up by 5 am this morning.
The morning coffee deal was repeated with the addition of a new percolator that Pat purchased at the Co-op in Baddeck.
My Bushbuddy stove is not meant to be used on a wooden picnic table. I noticed a that a smouldering ember had somehow migrated out of the stove. When I zeroed in on the solution ( moving the stove) I was shocked that there was a total circular charred hole almost totally burned through the thick wood on top of the table. I had to pour water over the blackened char to quell the fire and preserve the good stuff left on the table, which would have likely been in ashes had we left for the day.
I was looking forward to exploring new roads today. In 2003, National Geographic Traveler magazine rated Cape Breton Island its #2 worldwide destination (for sustainable tourism) along with New Zealand’s South Island and Chile’s Torres del Paine, with #1 being the Norwegian fjords.
Today’s plan was to motor east over toward the tiny berg of Framboise to attempt to visit the site of the former Sunshine Farm. My friend Clarkie and his brother still own part of the 150 acre spread that they purchased back in the early 1970’s. All that remains now is the land, a well, and an old outhouse. The farmhouse that sat on the property was burned in a fire that occurred sometime in 1974, while the place was occupied one winter.
I reached Clarkie on my cell phone, and he gave me the following info:
“ You have to find Framboise. It is sort of a long ways away from where you are. You go past a stream and there is either an aqua camp or old trailer across the road from an overgrown driveway that goes up through a big field. We bought the property from Patsy and Jimmy McCloud.”
I fired up my GPS and with the assistance of our map, roughly located the area. As the crow flies, our destination was a mere 33 miles away, but the fact that we had three large peninsulas between here and there made the real trip at least 100 miles away.
It was a very interesting ride. We were essentially circumnavigating the whole northern half of Bras D’Or Lake today. We were within view of salt water most of the day. If we didn’t see the ocean, it was due to thick fog obscuring our views.
We gassed up at the First Nation gas station south of Baddeck, then negotiated a very narrow causeway over St. Patrick’s Channel. In Icona we took a tiny ferry through Barra Straight, then went way up and then way down East Bay.
There was no traffic anywhere on these roads. We were hoping to find a place to eat breakfast, but that took us an hour and a half of 50-60 mph travel. A GPS check at the breakfast place told us we had now just 17 miles closer to Framboise. I had the fried bologna along with my eggs and toast. Its a local thing.
More southerly travel to go east, where we took the obscured left hand turn between Soldiers Cove and Barrahead. This was overland, through nonexistent places like Grand river and L’Archeveque. The road deteriorated at this point. It now demanded low speed dodging of potholes, gardens of rocks lifting up through the asphalt, and sharp frequent turns. The temperature dropped, and fog thickened. I’m sorry we missed the gravel road down to Capelin Cove. We were now 10 miles away from Bras D’Or Lake and moving smack dab along the Atlantic Ocean.
We had a difficult time finding Sunshine Farm.
In the end, we never found the aqua camp or trailer. We did locate downtown Framboise, where there was an abandoned store and gas station. There weren’t more than 5 houses there, and most were abandoned. I decided to try and find someone who lived near to ask about the Farm, and took off down the road were I stopped a fellow poking along in a pickup truck. He was a fisherman who didn’t live there, but when I mentioned the name of McCloud, he directed me to a farmhouse down a long dirt road.
I rounded up Steve and Pat who wanted to go with me. Looking back on at the map, I was actually on a dirt road headed toward Stirling.
Eventually we located one white farmhouse set back off the gravel road.
We slid our way up the driveway and I knocked on the door , when I heard the growl , then the scary deep bark of a large dog. Just as I was walking away an elderly lady came to the door , and proceeded to try and help us out. I asked a series of questions. She knew the McCloud’s , and told me that Jimmy had died, and that Patsy was now 90 and in a nursing home in Sydney, “ But she’s still shah’p!”
When I mentioned the words, Sunshine Farm , the lady’s eyes sparked and she said, “ O, you want to go to Sunshine farm? Yes, I know where that is. We all do!”
She directed us back down to the tar road where we retraced our path to a new camp and the big field across the road.
We parked the bikes along the road and walked up the overgrown driveway where we eventually located the well and outhouse.
Beautiful spot, returning to nature for sure, but with many interesting remnants of a life lived here, albeit a hard one.
The insects were brutal, especially the green heads, a large biting fly. There were also ample black flies and mosquitoes that persistently attacked us. There were crows all around, and I saw one rabbit hopping through the day lilies, and lilacs that marked the perimeter site of the former farmhouse.
We snapped several photos and I had Pat do a video interview of me at the site to send to Clarkie. He doesn’t make it up here often ( twice in the past 35 years).
Where we got back to fire up the bikes and head up toward Sydney, Steve expressed concern that his rear end had been feeling loose over the rough road and he wanted to check things out. The rear end checked out fine, but when we got the bike up on the center stand and lifted the front wheel, I grabbed it and was able to move the fork back and forth almost an inch!
The steering head bearings were shot. We were not sure of how this problem was to be dealt with, but thankfully a few turns on the steering damper tightened things up enough that the bike made it home without any further corrections.
We headed directly north on 227 skirting Sydney on 125 when we finally found a restaurant that was to our liking on the TransCanada (Rt. 105).
Eventually we returned from our big circle ride of a day, to our Adventures East campground where the heat of the afternoon forced us into another cooling stint in the pool. It was an expensive campground at $30 a night or $10 each daily, but we didn’t mind after returning to our campsite – cool , clean, and ready for napping, eating, and kicking tires and spinning new tales of our travels today.
We’re heading back home tomorrow.