The Kilted Scots Threw The Saber, Tossed The Caber And Flung The Ball And Chain

The Kilted Scots Threw The Saber, Tossed The Caber And Flung The Ball And Chain
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Antigonish, Nova Scotia

Antigonish, Nova Scotia

July 19, ‘82

I’m eating chocolate fudge cookies and drinking milk. I’m in the shade on some Indian Reservation in Cape Breton in 32 degrees centigrade heat. To my east, there is a thunderstorm going on. I’m not sure how that’s going to play out. The Maritimes need the rain. The weather, at least for biking, has been exceptional—a bit hot today, though.

Mike and I left Prince Edward Island and made it over to Nova Scotia with no problem. The first day out we rode 20 or 30 miles and then camped under some power lines, next to a large patch of wildflowers. The blue and white flowers were refreshingly nice. The second night out, we camped at a trailer park in Antigonish. The Highland game festival was going on, so the atmosphere in the town was all-Scottish. After doing laundry the next morning, I stayed at camp and read, while Mike went to the beach with some friendly campers. Like him, they were schoolteachers; a husband and wife team out of the Hudson Bay region of Canada– a very desolate place. Listening to them, I figured they must have been on a “calling” because no way could I have put up with the hardships they described.

The next day, Mike and I went to the Scottish heavyweight games and watched the kilted Scots throw the Saber, toss the caber—a huge flagpole like object that was supposed to go head over heels vertically, and, throw the ball and chain—a large iron ball attached to a chain that was supposed to fly half the length of a football field, or at least a quarter of the way. And, afterwards, on the streets of Antigonish, we were entertained by Highland dancers and the drum and bagpipe competitions. All in all, it was a full day of fun and games. After our stay in Antigonish, we were off to hook up with the Cabot Trail, the main highway moving up and around the large island of Cape Breton.

We camped in a forest on the first night out, and I’m presently waiting for Mike in the town of Brookfield. Today is another hot one, and I think Mike is having a hard time with the heat. I asked the Brookfield dairy truck driver if he had seen a guy on a bicycle, and he said “yes”. He was putting air in his tires just outside of town at a gas station. I took that to be Mike, so at least I know that he’s in the town somewhere and it’s only a matter of time before we meet up. All things considered, this trip has been fault free. An interesting sideline is about to take place, though; in a few days I’m going to meet up with Bill. He made arrangements with Mike to meet us, or at least me (Mike will soon be boarding a train and heading back to Michigan soon). Bill wants to bicycle back to Michigan with me. He is presently in St. Johns, Newfoundland, doing some sightseeing or whatever. One never knows what Bill is up to. Anyway, he’s an old high school buddy of mine. In fact, Bill was with me when I hitchhiked to California fifteen years ago. I’m somewhat apprehensive about this rendezvous, but one thing is for sure, whatever happens will be interesting—Bill is always interesting. It’s starting to rain, so I guess this is the end of this entry.

July 20

I’m In Baddeck, Nova Scotia, on the Cabot Trail, drinking coffee in Wong’s restaurant. Mike and I ran into two more bikers, Dave and Shannon. It was getting late, so after drinking a few beers in a bar with our newfound friends, Shannon suggested that we set up camp in the backyard of the little church across the street. Everybody liked that idea except Mike. Rather than camp in the church backyard, Mike headed out of town to camp in the woods.

As I’m writing now I see no sign of Mike, which, it seems to me, requires a few words of explanation. Mike and I grew up together. He was and is, by far, my best friend. Up until the late ‘70s, the “free spirit” in both of us had always kept us close. That said, however, it is apparent that we have grown apart. I suspect it’s like when two lovers grow apart and end up in a messy divorce. Mike and I are feeling that kind of pain. Our values are different now. My interest in God probably has a lot to do with it. Mike’s spiritual side never strays far from the earth. Here’s an example: Yesterday, after I bought some food and walked out to the end of a pier to eat, I noticed that Mike stayed behind. When I walked back past him, I said, “This sure is a beautiful place to eat lunch, eh!” He replied, “When I’m hungry I don’t look around, I just eat.” That pretty much sums up the distance between Mike and I. I don’t know what happened (Vietnam probably had something to do with it.)


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