Dan Has Another Good Book for You – Enjoy Every Sandwich (#3)

Lee Lispsenthal, MD

Lee Lispsenthal, MD

Enjoy Every Sandwich: Living Each Day As If It Were Your Last by Lee Lipsenthal, MD.

I read a book, albeit a short one, in a day.   Who does that?  Certainly not me, but I did.  Lee’s narrative is engaging, and its wisdom inspiring.  I have selected ten excerpts/quotes that just might make you consider picking up this book.  Lee is into living fully for he has no time to waste.  As his story begins, Lee is dealing with the diagnosis that he has esophageal cancer.

In Lee’s words:

It may strike you as odd that I could have so much gratitude for this life that I am about to lose, but I had approached my life differently than most.  Every day for the last twenty years, I have practiced gratitude.  I started by thinking about the things I was grateful for on a nightly basis, writing down things that I was grateful for on a nightly basis, reminding myself of how lucky I was.  Later, I began to use gratitude in my meditation practice.

Not a shred of evidence exists in favor of the idea that life is serious.   – Brendan Gill

EES live fully quote

There was quite a lot of anxiety in my household.  My parents seemed to worry a lot about everything.  Not quite the Woody Allen level of anxiety but not too far from it.  Everywhere I went, I was taught to lock doors behind me, look over my shoulder while walking in the street at night, and leave nothing visible in my car.  We worried about whether it would snow or rain.  We worried about everyone’s health…My parents see the world as a dangerous place.  They convince themselves they are at risk most of the time.

 Pay attention to the good stuff that happens every day and enjoy what is, not what should have been or what might be.   Enjoy every sandwich.  My life is my sandwich, and I might as well savor every bite.

Lee and Kathy Lispenthal

Lee and Kathy Lipsenthal

When I teach my students about gaining joy in their work, I have them write down the parts of their days that give them pleasure or excitement.  I have them reflect on what energizes them and the coworkers they love.  I ask them to work on increasing those aspects of their work so that they are spending more time doing what they love with people they care about.

We are so quick to judge other people, yet we often can’t possibly understand their perspective. We didn’t grow up in the same world they did, yet we apply our rules to them.

 A core reason why we struggle to forgive is that we believe that by forgiving we are letting the offender off the hook.  This is not true.  Fred Luskin of Stanford University suggests that we “forgive and remember,” not forgive and forget.  Forgive and move on with your life, remembering not to repeat the same mistake.

Living involves tearing up one rough draft after another.  – Author unknown

EES don't waste your life quoteI also learned something profound.  I couldn’t “manage” stress.  Stress was just my response to life’s events.  Stress wasn’t something to be managed.  Once it happens, it has happened.  My parents taught me to look for stress in my life.  I now realized that looking for stress creates stress.  The harder I looked, the more I found…If I looked for fun, joy, and playfulness, I would find fun, joy, and playfulness.


Helen Keller

Helen Keller

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it.   Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.  Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.  – Helen Keller


Here is a 3:27 youtube trailer about Lee Lipsenthal’s Enjoy Every Sandwich

By the way, the title of the book comes from a response that rock star Warren Zevon gave to David Letterman about what he (Warren) learned about life as he dealt with a life threatening illness.

Dan and Hannah Are Living the Dream: Owen and Max are in the House

map of Tempe AZ

Though Hannah and I have lived in Maine for 32 years, when we were first married in 1972 we thought for sure we would live in Tempe, Arizona forever.   As just the two of us, we enjoyed the relaxed, outdoor lifestyle and the warmth of winter in the Valley of the Sun throughout the 1970s.  Then came Molly and two years later came Robyn.   Our families (Dan’s in Fair Lawn, NJ and Hannah’s in Fairport, NY) were part of a magnetic pull drawing us eastward.

blog 17 tip and owen with bucket

Now scroll forward to 2014.  After seven years living in Virginia, having scratched an itch to live in warmer climes herself, our daughter Molly is returning north to take a job teaching in Massachusetts with her hubby Tip, and two boys, two year old Owen and two month old Max.

July 4 M and o

Currently in transition, Molly and Tip are spending this summer with us on Chases Pond Road as they look for housing, daycare, and Tip’s next job.  And for this month or two or three, we are living the dream:  Having Owen and Max in our lives 0n a daily basis as their Boppa and Omi.

blog 14 boys at breakfast

Each morning, the family descends for breakfast from their two rooms above our garage.  As I hold Max close to my chest, we become one.  Max mostly chills in his Bouncy Baby Bjorn and has the occasional “tummy time” to strengthen his neck muscles.

blog 20 owen tummy time

His tornadic brother Owen is as sunny as a July day in Maine.  He arrives downstairs ready to race from living room to dining room and back with the biggest of smiles.  Up please he says as we lift him into his high chair.   Having learned to buckle himself in, he often begins breakfast with orange chunks.   Soon blueberries follow, then some shredded wheat.   Cheerios are always at the ready.  Tip makes him eggs some days while his Omi treats him to blueberry pancakes on occasion.  Milk in a Sippy cup wraps up a fine morning repast.

blog 5 owen with sunglasses

Then he’s off – dumping the cardboard oatmeal box of corks and laughing as he knows just what he is doing.  There is a downstairs basket of books.  Owen ironically picks the one named after his Maine Uncle, Unkie Will.  Owen chooses Will’s Mammoth every time.  And then when we are done reading it and say, let’s read another book, he says, Mammoth, and we read it again.

Owen with his Omi at Village Elementary School, York, Maine

Owen with his Omi at Village Elementary School, York, Maine

While their parents go out to breakfast, we take the boys to the Village Elementary School in town.   Owen is at home on the slides as Max sleeps in the stroller.  But it’s the wood chips in the playground that garners Owen’s full attention; grabbing fistfuls and throwing them about as he spins with two year old abandon.

Some nights while his Mom and Dad catch their breath, Hannah and I put Owen to bed.  It’s a wrestling match worthy of the WWE as it takes two-on-one to get Owen into his pajamas.  Then we read Sandra Boynton books, often Bob (the reindeer).   Followed by the singing of Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star and You are My Sunshine.

blog 16 happy max

Sometimes Owen understands it’s time for bed, grabs his blankie and teddy bear and lies down.  And then there are other times he wails at the injustice of it all.   He pleads his case at 150 decibels, but he does not sway this jury of two.

blog 1 han and owen in driveway

Molly and Tip are playful parents.  Owen says knuckles, curls up his fist, and fist bumps anyone with a ready fist.  They shoot for consistency; after playing with his blocks and the corks in the living room, he picks them up before he moves on to what’s next.  Pease and tank you are already parts of his interaction with adults.  I wuv you Boppa makes me smile every time.

blog 2 han and max

They are not angels.  Thank goodness.  In time, they will both challenge their parents.  But that is to be expected as Molly and Tip are raising boys to think for themselves, be respectful, and make choices.  Like all kids, both boys cry and get fussy.   Usually it’s just their way of saying I’m tired or I’m hungry.

blog 15 family rawding

But the best thing about Molly and Tip as parents is that Owen and Max know they are truly loved.  They cuddle with their sons regularly, tell the boys they love them often, and are fully present when they are together.

All you need is love.  Owen and Max have it coming from all angles.

Dan and Hannah Bike the Cabot Trail – Interested?

cabot trail map 3

Does the idea of biking the Cabot Trail intrigue you?  If you are one who thinks that you couldn’t do that, think again.  With the proper planning, it just may be possible.  Here’s what Hannah and I learned about biking the 300 kilometre (~190 miles) loop trail in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

Have a damn good reason to take on the challenge.  Though doable, this is no walk in the park.  When you get weary in the third, fifth, or seventh hour of biking, you’ve got to have a good reason to stay motivated.

Coastal road skirting French Mountain

The Cabot Trail in Cape Breton HIghlands National Park, Nova Scotia

For me I was taken by the physical challenge of just seeing if I could actually ride 190 miles and hills in faraway Cape Breton.  As those who know Hannah will not surprised, she wanted to push herself beyond her everyday boundaries.

The Maritime Provinces of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia

The Maritime Provinces of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia

We are country mice.  Getting away is our “go to” choice.  When we travel, we often choose the mountain West, coastal California away from LA and SF, and the Maritime Provinces of Canada.

There is no time like the present.  How much longer will we be able to do such physical challenges?  My Phoenix, Arizona elementary school principal, John Laidlaw, said, Tomorrow never comes.  Chew on that while you carpe your diem.

Let’s be honest.  The cool factor plays into much of the challenges I take on.  It seemed cool to run a marathon so I ran the Fiesta Bowl Marathon in 1981.  It seemed cool to visit all 50 states as a family (49 down with Hawaii to go!).  And it seemed cool to learn how to juggle and now I am hired out for parties (Not really, but I can juggle).  Certainly it being cool is not enough of a reason by itself, but it is cool to say we’ve biked the Cabot Trail.

Lastly this trip gave us an opportunity to stay at B&Bs where we could toast our day’s ride with a glass of Shiraz, interact with some local Cape Bretoners, and have a family home breakfast before we hit the road.

Beginning the assault of North Mountain

Beginning the assault of North Mountain

Fitness.  As over-60 athletes, we have been exercising for 40 some years.  Not uber-exercisers, we just put in the daily work.  The downside of running for 30 years is that our knees have said no mas to any more running.  The upside is that as over-65 athletes we are now “going to the gym” fit.

I did have right knee issues after both the second and third days of biking 7 to 8 hours.  That said, each morning after, I could ride again just fine.  Once the entire ride was done, it was three to four weeks before my right knee felt totally right and six weeks before my energy returned to its pre-ride level.

Mountains.  French and North Mountain in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park are beasts.  They are more than two miles of long, steady 11 to 13% climbs.  We did walk up part of North Mountain with our bikes.  To train for these steep grades, we did not seek out the highest mountains in Maine.  We biked some local hills and left it at that.

Camping or Bed and Breakfasts?

For us, it is B&Bs with a queen bed and breakfast each morning before we hit the road.  We stayed in four B&Bs and the reviews are below.

A4 Baddeck Riverside B&B sign

Baddeck Riverside B&B in Baddeck, Cape Breton – $90 Laverne, the innkeeper, is par excellence; she has personality, spunk, and a sweetness; we felt like old friends right away.  For privacy, it can’t be beat as it is a one room B&B.  There is an additional room, even two, to let, but that’s only if everyone knows each other.  The bathroom is spacious; there’s an expansive bedroom view of the Baddeck River.  This B&B is four miles from the Cabot Trail out a rural road, but well worth the drive.  Bikes can be conveniently stowed in their barn.

We rest after the first day on the Cabot Trail

On the Cabot Trail in Cheticamp, Cape Breton

L’Auberge Doucet Inn, Cheticamp, Cape Breton – $85 + tax – With eleven rooms it is more motel than B&B right on the Cabot Trail.  The private bathroom and spacious interior make it feel luxuorious. Since we were preseason, they upgraded our room to one with a king bed which had room for our bikes.  There is a café rather than a dining room for breakfast; we ordered off a small menu.  With an outside deck that looks across the bay to Cheticamp Island, it was ideal for that evening glass of wine.

Hannah with tomorrow night's dinner in front of the Country Haven B&B in Cape North, Nova Scotia

Hannah at the Country Haven B&B in Cape North, Nova Scotia

Country Haven B&B, Cape North, Cape Breton – $80 – In this family home with two B&B rooms, it is quite private with a modern bathroom and access to their comfortable living room.  Andrea’s Restaurant (4 of 4 stars) on the Cabot Trail itself is conveniently located 100 yards down the hill.  To supplement breakfast these innkeepers had a side table with cereals, especially helpful for the energy demands of bicyclists.  They adjusted the breakfast time when we got up early.

Leaving Pamela's B&B in light rain

Pamela’s B&B on the final morning of our four day ride on the Cabot Trail

Pamela’s B&B, St. Ann’s Cape Breton – $70  – Pamela and Donald are a likeable couple who asked us when we wanted breakfast rather than offering a specific range of breakfast serving times.  With two rooms for guests, the one bathroom needed to be shared.  And the small tub has only a hand held nozzle so getting a good soaking shower after a day on the road was not easy.

Along the Margaree River Valley to the Gulf of St. Lawrence

Along the Margaree River Valley to the Gulf of St. Lawrence on the Cabot Trail

Seasonal Timing. By biking during the first week in June, we took advantage of pre-season rates at the B&Bs.  Since there is far less road traffic at that time, Hannah and I were able to ride side by side for 97% of our ride.  There is a peace and calm to be found on the island of Cape Breton during the preseason.

Hannah rides the Cabot Trail along the seacoast of Cape Breton

Hannah with panniers packed on the Cabot Trail along the seacoast of Cape Breton

Suitable clothing and biking gear.  Temperatures during the first week of June can be mornings in the 40s and daily highs in the 50s.  That said, our first two days on the road were 75F.   We were prepared with sweatshirts, biking tights, jackets, and gloves.  Rain can come at any time so our ponchos were a must.

Crossing the Ingonish River with Cape Smokey Mountain in the background

A good sport and fun-loving

We each took all that would fit into two panniers (bicycle saddle bags).  We wore biking shorts, black biking tights, long sleeve tee shirts, sweatshirt (Hannah two jackets), reflective yellow vest, and Merrill sandals for biking.  I had extra dry-fit Under Armour-type shirts, socks and underwear, open toe sandals and extra shorts for the evening.  Each morning I liberally applied Bag Balm to my thighs.

Biking tools?  We had an Allen wrench for adjustments and spare tires and tools for changing flats. With only one bike shop in Cheticamp, small vehicle repair shops may be able to fix tires as they did for us on Prince Edward Island last year.  If we did break down irreparably, we were going to hitchhike; there were locals with pick-up trucks to transport our bikes and us, if need be.  We never did test this theory.

Find someone compatible to ride with.  For us, the experience was heightened and made legendary by biking with each other.  For me, the ride doesn’t happen without Hannah.

Descending Cape Smokey Mountain

Descending Cape Smokey Mountain in five minutes

Sense of adventure.  If you look to experience what you have no idea that you might experience, this may be the ride for you.  Are you curious and wonder about the people beyond your geographical area?  This may be the ride for you.  Are you resilient and have faith that you will find a way when things don’t go as planned, then this may be the ride for you.

Take four days, five, even six or seven to complete your ride.  Be at one with the road.  More commonly, people drive the Cabot Trail.  Maybe that is your cup of tea.  Our cup had two wheels, each other, and the wind at our backs.

When biking long distances, know thyself and thy limits.  Be prepared.

Dan Pulls an All-Nighter for Owen and Max

When is the last time you pulled an all-nighter?  Do college students even do that anymore?  Got to say that I never did even one all-nighter during my college years.  I was an all right student, certainly not dean’s list.  Maybe my theory about studying for tests might explain the kind of student I was.  The theory: Find out how long the exam is, and then study the right material for that length of time.  Brilliant?

map of VA to ME

Having flown to Virginia with Hannah, I am part of a team of family and friends supporting our daughter Molly, her hubby Tip, and their sons Owen and Max move north.  Having taken a teaching job in Massachusetts for the fall, Molly with Tip is packing the contents of their two bedroom apartment into a 16 foot Penske truck.  Tip and I will team up to drive the truck/rental van while the others will head north in the Rawding’s two small cars.

Dan and Hannah are part of the packing team

Dan and Hannah are part of the packing team

A serendipitous call from my college roommate Rich makes me realize that driving a truck through the Northeast has limitations that cars do not have.  We cannot do parkways; so the Baltimore-Washington Parkway in MD is out; the Garden State Parkway in NJ is not happening; and the Merritt Parkway in CT is not making an appearance.  We need a plan B.

Dan and Tip are ready to roll a little after 8 PM

Dan and Tip are ready to roll a little after 8 PM

Given those limitations, Tip and I decide to leave Thursday evening to avoid driving during the day on the first Friday of the summer tourist season.  Never having done such a driving all-nighter, I figure what the hey?  It does make sense.  On this Thursday overnight, we should have fewer vehicles on the road and some fine smooth sailing.

At a little after 8P, we set out as Washington, DC evening rush hour draws to a close.  Cruising around and through the DC Metro area, we think we are so smart.   Almost immediately we realize, Not so fast, my friend.  It seems that State Highway Departments find that summer overnights on the Interstates are the best times for road repairs.  In Maryland, three lanes go into one and we have our first delay, this one for only 15 minutes.

Delaware Memorial Bridge heading into New Jersey

Delaware Memorial Bridge heading into New Jersey

After Tip drives the first two and a half hours through Maryland and Delaware, it’s time for me to take a shift.  So just after crossing the Delaware Memorial Bridge into Jersey around 1030P, we stop for gas, stretch, and take a leak; I am surprisingly wide awake and ready to hit the road again.  No Willy Nelson, no radio, just the commitment to each other that we will talk throughout the night.  We tackle, Where they might live?  Who they will likely keep up with from Virginia?  What jobs he might pursue?  What old friends in the area they will connect with?  Each question leads to meandering follow-ups.  I fill him in about our wedding 42 years ago and life in Arizona.

My drive is uneventful, and that is a good thing.  Since we cannot use our EZ pass (a transponder on the windshield that allows us to be charged electronically for passing through the tolls unimpeded), we must stop and pay at every cash toll booth.

As we approach New York City (NYC), we have the choice to go west on I-80 through New Jersey to take I-287 to cross the Hudson River at the Tappan Zee Bridge.  Or…

George Washington Bridge at night

George Washington Bridge at night

Or we can take the NJ Turnpike to the George Washington Bridge (GWB) for the shortest route to Maine.  I mean, how much traffic could be on Chris Christie’s Waterloo at one in the morning?  We do make a fateful error by not listening to WCBS 880 radio with traffic on the eights.

Approaching big bad NYC, we switch drivers and Tip takes over the wheel at 1230A.  Seeing electronic signs on the highway indicating 4 minutes for cars to cross the GWB on the lower level and 45 minutes for trucks to cross on the upper level, we just don’t believe that that could be true at this hour.  It’s got to be a mistake, a dated warning.  We approach the upper level and see the signs for the crazy $13 toll to cross the Hudson River.  As Tip pulls up to the toll window to pay, the toll taker says $34.  What!!!!  It turns out $13 is only for cars.  With no appeal process, Tip pays up and rolls on, so to speak.

That turns out to be the least of our worries over the next three miles – and 75 minutes!  Within one hundred yards, our speed of 30 mph drops to 2 mph.  And then we stop dead.  In the center of three lanes we are in a cargo carrier cocoon with the high sides of the semis on either side bracketing our little truck/van. Only occasionally can we see the lights of the Manhattan skyscrapers to our right.

The upper level of the George Washington Bridge where the trucks must go

The day time version of our night time passage on the upper level of the George Washington Bridge

After 5 hours on the road with five more to go, we inch towards I-95 through Manhattan and into the Bronx.  We just smile and know we are indeed trapped.  Construction takes three lanes to one, not once but twice, and, at times, construction trucks cross in front of that one lane so everyone is again stopped cold.

At 215A the highway opens up before us; we sit church mouse quiet as if tons of traffic will reappear if we disturb the highway gods.  Has somehow my voting for Obama gotten back to Chris Christie, and he has some sort of vendetta out for me?  With the reputation of having the worst traffic on the East Coast, I-95 is our only choice; the Merritt Parkway is off limits to trucks.  We know traffic jams are “first world” problems.  It’s not being hungry, having no clean drinking water, or the horror of war in the “third world.”  We are blessed; this has been a mild inconvenience at best.

We gas up near Bridgeport, CT and I take another shift at two forty-five in the very dark early morning.  More construction lies ahead as three times three lanes go into one, but the traffic is light and we pass through at 30 to 45 mph.  Conversation keeps our sleep-deprived bodies going, still some four hours from Maine.

Moving Unity

We touch on religion.  What was his Sunday School experience like?  I share that Hannah and I have lately been going to a Unity service in Rollinsford, NH.  I talk about the Unity belief that God lies within us all and how it draws on the wisdom of all great religions.

Passing into Hartford we see the first dark blue of sunrise.  The sun seems to have traveled around the world since we left Virginia and we are still rocking.  Surprisingly, the tension and stress of driving over the GWB in such heavy traffic has made me more alert and awake than I ever thought I would be at four in the morning.

Our driving shifts are getting shorter.  Forty-five minutes for me, an hour for Tip.  When I check my phone for a little too long, he says I need you to talk to me.  I “snap to” and ask about the people in the wedding he is going to on Saturday and the conversation takes off.

Molly, Tip, Owen, and Max

Molly, Max, Tip, and Owen

As dawn breaks wide open, I realize that the GWB delay has been a blessing.  It means we have had a shared experience to talk about for years to come, and I have had even more time with Tip to connect and build our father-in-law/son-in-law bond.  Having always felt that our daughter Molly married a lottery pick in Tip, I have been reminded this night that he was, in fact, the LeBron James of the 2011 draft (the year they were married).  His focus on their marriage and their family makes Hannah and me proud.  He shares his children with us and welcomes us into their lives.

Heading to Maine from New Hampshire on the Piscataqua River Bridge

Heading to Maine from New Hampshire on the Piscataqua River Bridge

In northern Massachusetts I take over with 45 minutes to go .  Over the last 30 minutes Tip asks me at least ten times, How are you doing?  I appreciate his awareness and attention to our safety.  Morning Boston rush hour traffic is picking up as we pull into New Hampshire, then on into Maine.

As we pull into York, Maine, Molly driving one car and Hannah the other are now just approaching Delaware this Friday morning.  I am fried, over easy and hardboiled, but intact.  I park the truck/van, Tip heads for his childhood home in Rye for some much needed sleep, and I want to celebrate before I take a morning nap.  It’s a celebration worthy of an 11 hour all-nighter from Virginia to Maine: a bowl of oatmeal with raisins.

Tip in York, Maine after 11 overnight hours on the road!

Tip in York, Maine after 11 overnight hours on the road!


I have had the opportunity of a lifetime spending eleven hours with Tip, the father of our grandchildren, Owen and Max, and the love of Molly’s life.  I’d pull this all-nighter again in a heartbeat.  What a night!

Dan and Hannah Bike the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia   Day 4 of 4

cabot trail map 3

Awaking a little after 6A at Pamela’s B&B in St. Ann’s, Cape Breton, we are pumped for our final day on the Cabot Trail.  With only 34 kilometres of biking to complete the 300 of the Trail, we feel like we have it made in the shade.  We are as cool as the other side of the pillow.  As I peek behind the bedroom curtain, I see that clouds and fog have descended down the mountain to the backyard of the B&B. Pleased that my debilitating right leg cramps of yesterday are just a memory, I’m ready to rock and roll on the roads of Nova Scotia.

After three days of six to eight hours in the bicycle saddle, we look forward to a simple few hours of coastal bike riding back to Baddeck, Nova Scotia where we began our trek three mornings ago.  Breakfast is simple; pancakes and bacon for me (I give the pig to Hannah) while Hannah has cheesy scrambled eggs and toast.

Leaving Pamela's B&B in light rain

Leaving Pamela’s B&B in light rain

Packing is quick and easy since we have brought only what we can fit into each of our two panniers.  After yesterday’s afternoon rain, we’ll put our gloves and rain ponchos near the top of these saddle bags for easy access in case of more rain.  As we step out into what we thought was just a dense fog, light rain is falling and out come our ponchos.  Even if the rain were to be bone-soaking, we still should arrive before noon.

Hannah heading for Baddeck on the Cabot Trail on an early June Thursday

Hannah heading for Baddeck on the Cabot Trail on the first Thursday in June

Following Hannah on the very small paved part of the shoulder of the Cabot Trail, I push my sweatshirt sleeves above the arms of my poncho so as to keep them from getting wetter; I settle into a steady pace on this 58F morning.  Always most concerned about being cold, Hannah has three layers beneath her poncho, biking tights, and two pairs of gloves.

Rain or shine, we roll on

Rain or shine, we roll on

For the fourth day on the road, we have very little vehicular traffic so Hannah and I ride side by side with her closer to the edge.  After getting thumped by North Mountain on Day 2 (see blog of June 21, 2014) and hitting paydirt with Wally and Phyllis on Cape Smokey Mountain on Day 3 (see blog of June 28, 2014), we look forward to a morning of relatively level coastal riding along the Great Bras D’Or channel.

Hannah along the Bras d'Or

Hannah along the Bras d’Or channel

What would normally be a spectacular ride along the coastline is just a ride in a fog bank between evergreens with the spray coming up from Hannah’s back tire.  Having experienced spectacular for three days, we accept what the weather gods give us this morning.  It can pour and pour and we will just marshal on for the Baddeck Riverside B&B, returning to Laverne and Gordon’s place.

D6 D on trail in poncho

Since it’s a warm rain Hannah feels no morning chill.  Genetically sunny, Hannah pedals on as she has for three breathtaking days on the Cabot Trail.

The last 15 kilometres on the Trans-Canada Highway

The last 15 kilometres on the Trans-Canada Highway

Turning right onto the Canadian Highway with its wide shoulders 20 kilometres from Baddeck, we are just smiling.  Our bicycle chains and gears have gone 300 kilometres without a breakdown.  The flat tires of last year’s ride on the Confederation Trail in Prince Edward Island are just a distant memory.  Our bicycle steeds have come through like California Chrome in the Kentucky Derby.

D9A river scene on trail

We are bowed but not beaten.  We ride quietly and pay humble homage to the Cabot Trail in all its glory.  It was tougher, much more challenging than we had imagined.  But we made it.  The Cabot Trail has exacted a physical toll for riding her roads.  We have paid in full and have had the ride of a lifetime.

Gordon, Laverne, and Hannah


About 1030A, after two plus hours of biking, we exit the Cabot Trail and get to Big Farm Road to the Baddeck Riverside B&B; there, innkeepers Laverne and Gordon, welcome us as if old friends.


Tonight we will go to the Baddeck, Nova Scotia public library to hear Laverne talk about her hike of the Camino in Spain.  (The El Camino de Santiago is the 790 kilometre (~470 mile) pilgrimage route in northern Spain to honor James, the apostle, whose remains are said to be buried there.   Martin Sheen stars in the 2010 movie, The Way, about the Camino.)

Camino map

At one point during her presentation, Laverne introduces us as her overnight B&B guests who have just finished biking the Cabot Trail.  Surprisingly, the audience of 30 Cape Bretoners loudly, collectively oohs and aahs in appreciation.  I am a little bit shocked.  As hearty daughters and sons of 19th century Scots, they are impressed with our ride when I thought they might think anyone can bike the Trail.

After Laverne’s media presentation in front of thirty of her neighbors (Baddeck has a winter population of 700), her husband Gordon surprises us by inviting us back to their living room for a glass of his chilled homemade red wine.  They take us in like family.

The Mainiacs with Laverne

The Mainiacs with Laverne

Later that night Laverne recites her own poem, the Hall Lamp. (She recites from, literally, beneath the hall lamp on the landing of the stairs to the second floor.)  Here words speak of the family history that connects her life with generations past and the joy and love she has for Gordon.  Touched that we have been included in such intimacy, we have come to know what is good in Cape Breton.

So what’s next for us?  What about going to Spain to hike the Camino in all it’s nearly 500 miles of glory?

Nah, Hannah keeps our adventures in North America and that’s just fine with me.