|Harold and Wendy Nesbitt of Motorcycle Tour Guide Nova Scotia|
Harold, Wendy and I rode out to Rita McNeil’s Tea Room together to go to meet the Grande Dame.
She is such a gracious and generous hearted woman and everyone in the region has such admiration for her. The tea room is filled with photos and albums, a tea cup collection and pictures of Rita’s roots and accomplishments not to mention all of her awards.
|Rita meeting some of her fans|
|Photos and records|
|Awards and recognition|
|The gorgeous deck|
We had a fabulous lunch there too. I had the quiche and a salad with coffee – Harold the Fish Cakes and Beans and Wendy had the chowder. Wendy and I fought over the bill – Wendy won but I have vowed that next time is MY treat!
It was such an honor to ride with these two fabulous people. The Motorcycle Tour Guide Nova Scotia is a fine publication and has changed the way many businesses think of motorcycle tourism and has helped countless riders enjoy this province to its fullest! We parted company back at Rally head quarters and I finally got to meet Scott and Leah Boyd who are the hosts of Bike Fest.
I got my passes and a bag of goodies – talked to a few more people and headed off to meet the Saddle Bags. I also had the greatest pleasure of encountering members of the Cape Breton Regional Police – many of you know how critical I can be of our police services – this police force was a breath of fresh air. These police officers, all 7 that I encountered seem to understand that many normal rally type issues can be dealt with; with a smile and that you will get far more with honey than vinegar. I was sooo impressed with the demeanour and conduct of these officers that I even called the Regional Police Head Quarters to tell them how impressed I was. What a POSITIVE experience!
The Storm the Fortress event was next!
|The Cape Breton Saddlebags|
Motorcycles are the only motorized vehicle to be allowed in to the Fortress and even then it is only for this one day a year!
|Getting read to Storm the Fortress|
|Parks Canada giving us the lowdown on what to do and expect!|
|Riders going into the Fortress|
It was so impressive – as we rode up to the Fortress the sound of piccolos and drums met our ears even over the engines. There were photographers everywhere and we really did feel like this was a conquering!
As 350 motorcycles roared over the plank bridge and toured the town there was an excitement in the air.
From the Fortress Louisbourg web site (http://www.fortressoflouisbourg.ca) – some history on this magnificent reconstructed site:
“The Fortress of Louisbourg is the largest reconstruction project in North America.
The original settlement was founded in 1713 by the French and developed over several decades into a thriving center for fishing and trade. Fortified against the threat of British invasion during the turbulent time of empire-building, Louisbourg was besieged twice before finally being destroyed in the 1760s. The site lay untouched until well into modern times, when archaeologists began to reconstruct the fortress as it was in the 18th century.”
The costumes, the actors, the musicians…I can not express just how well done this whole thing is. The reconstruction of this Fortress and the period specific equipment like the leather water buckets all add to the feeling of being thrown back to a time when life was simpler, though harsher.
As the bikes wound their way through the streets of the Fortress in this large invasion parade, one got the sense, the feeling of being a conqueror and what that must have been like. Once all of the bikes were parked, we gathered around the Thunder Glide to find out which lucky ticket holder would win the bike. It stayed in Nova Scotia and all of the proceeds went to the Hospital Foundation.
|350 bikes parked and their riders getting ready to explore|
|The raffle bike - The THUNDER Glide|
|Harold and a female visitor - charged with THEFT!|
Another member of the crowd – a gal – was arrested for stealing wine. They were thrown in jail together and then a group of soldiers paraded them through town to the iron collar where the town crier read the proclamation that Harold should be hung! Harold by the way missed his calling – he really should have been a stand up comedian – the man has one heck of a sense of humour and a flare for drama! He had EVERYONE in stitches and playing along.
|Harold pleading for mercy|
We took in the shops and I bought a loaf of hard tack bread to munch on from a street vendor - building after building offered up actors in the most authentic costumes all playing their parts so well you really felt like you were living the life! The chapel was amazing – I had goose bumps running down both arms as I walked through it.
|Hard tack Bread for sale|
|The AMAZING chapel|
|The Cannon Firing|
The finale for the day was the long gun demonstration and the raising of the Cape Breton Bike Fest Flag along with the Parks Canada Centennial Flag. Scott Boyd who is a local Radio personality and the chairman of Bike Fest told the story of the RCMP officer who was integral in seeing the Storm the Fortress event come to be a reality and how he had died of cancer during this past winter. He had his son not only raise the flags but also gave them to him in memory of his dad.
After that emotional ending we were asked to mount up for a police escorted ride back into Sydney.
Many stayed to take in the Matt Minglewood concert and fire works, I however decided I needed to go to the room and edit photos and get a good nights sleep for I would be heading to Middle River and the Cabot Trail Motorcycle Retreat!