Salt Spring Provincial park rest area, NS Mile 3199

Remember that strange sudden vibration back in Quebec, three weeks and fifteen hundred miles ago? The one that the mechanic couldn’t pin down and never happened again? It happened again. What’s more I have been able to pin it down quite easily this time, by tracing the source of the large bearings which landed on the road accompanied by a rather bad grinding noise. Consequently we are spending the night in a rest area off the Trans Canada highway just west of New Glasgow.

But let me start from the beginning of the day, when old Harv was still the picture of health. It began raining just after we had breakfast, and got hard enough that the walk we’d planned around the peninsula didn’t seem quite so appealing. This was a day to do some driving and get ahead of our schedule to maybe give ourselves an extra night somewhere further south. We set off in driving rain which continued all day with barely a pause. We were soon out of the Highlands National Park which has been one of the biggest highlights of this trip. It would have been nice to have one more day but the rain meant that playtime was over.

We cruised down the east side of the Cape and made for Englishtown which required a two minute ferry crossing. The rain was really hammering down as we sat in the queue for the ferry and getting on was a bit of an ordeal as the ramp was so steep that poor Harv dragged his tail on the jetty. We paid our five dollar fare through the window and I jacked up the rear end as high as it would go with the airbags as we made our way across. No graunch on the other side and no damage done so all was well.

Englishtown has a museum dedicated to the Nova Scotia Giant, one Angus MacAskill who lived from 1825 to 1863 and peered over the rest of us from a height of 7 foot 9. He seems to have been rather a kindly and quiet sort of fellow; one of the many victims of the Highland clearences in Scotland. There was a lifesize statue, one of his size fourteen and a half boots, his great big bed and other bits and pieces in what seemed to be the front room of someone’s house. Tucked away on a wall was a typewritten piece of paper which told the story of a Nova Scotia woman who was actually two inches taller than Mr MacAskill and born in 1844. She was “Exhibited” by Phineas T Barnum. It seems extraordinary that little Nova Scotia should have been home to two such people but there was no mention of whether they ever met.

We pressed on through the river of a road, stopping in Baddeck for a slice of “Tom’s Pizza” . Our Tom was thrilled and insisted on ordering. They gave him a Tom’s Pizza fridge magnet and he felt like he was in a special club. We found an ice-cream place with wifi so we sat on a bench under an awning outside and uploaded our blogs while T ate something multicoloured that tasted of bubblegum.

After a quick stop at the Coop we got back in the submarine. Tom and Philippa played “road bingo” for a bit and then read while I wondered how far we could go. 185 miles was the answer and we were about forty minutes away from the campsite when That Wobble started up again. Rats. I pulled off the highway onto a spur to the Provincial Park which has a large tarmac rest area next to it. The wobble stopped, but as I turned there was an ominous crunching noise. Not good. I stopped and got out to find five large ball bearings on the road. I looked underneath and saw that a CV joint had broken. We were here for the night.

This is where being a GMC owner has some advantages. There is a network of owners offering tools and mechanical assistance called the Black List which I have with me, so after a quick call to the invaluable Leigh Harrison back in Woodbridge for some mechanical and parts advice, I called the nearest GMC owners in Antigonish, about forty miles away, and Halifax which is twice as far. Richard in Antigonish was on the road when I reached him but said he would ring around for advice. Paul in Halifax was at work when I reached him and when I told him our story he said “are you the guy on the internet?” Amazingly, he knew about the blog. Even more amazingly he said he probably had the parts I need and if I got towed there he would do the work. Richard rang back and said if I got the parts, he would come to our parking lot and help replace them. They both said it was relatively easy job. It gets more complicated (and would require a tow) if a wheel bearing has to be replaced but even if that is the case Paul has the tool required. So there are options and we will sort through them tomorrow.

For six weeks I had been dreading that this would happen in Meat Cove or somewhere impossibly remote, simply because that would have been the absolute worst place to try to sort it out. As it is, we have a phone signal, water, food, power, a quiet (free) place to park and a network of extraordinarily helpful people who are doing their best to get us going again. Watch this space.

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