We slept in today a little bit and ate our last meal at Hometown Kitchen, where we said our goodbyes to the waitresses. Dad went down the street a few times to check on the status of the part. James, the man at the service station, said that the part was in Sydney, the largest city on Cape Breton Island. However, there was a serious breakdown in communication between dealerships elsewhere in the Maritimes, and by midday we learned that the Sydney dealership didn't even have it.
After deliberation and debate in the room, and considering the fact that we hadn't heard or felt the brakes since James initially worked with them a few days prior, we decided to try to get back on the road. While we hated to leave Chéticamp without the part, since we'd extended our stay to get the part, James told us that if there was going to be a brake issue, we would have experienced it while driving around Chéticamp, and that we should have no trouble if we wanted to get on the road. He apologized immensely for snafus that were not his own, and insisted that we not pay him since he wasn't planning on paying for the part - one that, most likely, will never show.
With no guarantee that the part would get here tomorrow - or even any time in the coming week - we weighed the options and decided that there would be no harm in at least trying to leave Chéticamp, so we did so a little after 3:00, waving goodbye to the motel owner, a fellow named Ron, who came out of his office to bid us adieu.
Part of me will miss our little Acadian pied-à-terre, but we were all anxious to get back on the road. We'd seen all there was to see Chéticamp, all 3,000 people and no stoplights, beautiful sunsets and the sweetest folks this side of the Andy Griffith Show.
Nevertheless, much of our time on the road today was spent paying attention to that pesky back right wheel. We rolled all the way down the remaining portion of the Cabot Trail, re-linking with the Trans-Canada Highway along the Bras d'Or Lake. The same route we took from New Brunswick to Cape Breton was taken, only this time in reverse.
While the scenery was still beautiful, it was little compared to the vistas we saw in Cape Breton. We saw a bald eagle flying along the side of the road, then made it back over the Canso Causeway onto the Nova Scotia mainland - and this time, we didn't have to stop to let the bridge turn back around.
We used the brake as little as possible and hit whatever potholes we could, as James told us that hitting potholes could help to un-stick a stuck brake. Though it hasn't stuck since we stopped using the emergency brake, my dad maneuvered us into smaller potholes. He avoided the bigger ones, but it left him muttering "I'm trying to hit all the potholes ..." on multiple occasions, much to my amusement and mild whiplash.
Coming to the highlands of Cape Breton meant that we had to come up, and so too we had to come down. We rolled through Antigonish, and with everything nominal in the brake, we kept going through New Glasgow and Truro. The hills were immense, which led to another road-trip first: topping out the speedometer. With a speed limit of 110 km/h, it didn't take too much acceleration down the hill to top out the gauge at 140 before deceleration began.
We went back through the toll section and arrived in Amherst a little before 8:00. We exited and coasted into the town, stopping at the first place we saw - the very same Subway that we ate at when we were here a little over a week ago.
We used the opportunity to feel the brakes after five hours of highway driving. Not only was the offending brake not hot, it was actually - according to my dad - ever so slightly cooler than the other three, which were cool to the touch themselves. Sparing use of the brakes helped in this, but I'm beginning to think that it has much more to do with the emergency brake. My dad is now officially out of the habit of hitting it whenever we stop somewhere.
After a quick gas stop and some Mountain Dews for my dad and myself, we got back on the road bound for Prince Edward Island. While the sunsets are late in the Maritimes, they're still not places where one would want to drive at night if one could help it.
We crossed back over into New Brunswick and took the first exit - Trans-Canada Route 16, two deserted lanes filled with a pantheon of small potholes. I got jostled around a little bit, but it made my dad feel better about the brake situation.
It was then that we saw our first glimpse of the epic monstrosity known as the Confederation Bridge, the only road link to Prince Edward Island.
It's like a regular bridge, except eight miles long and terrifying.
It took about ten minutes to cross this bridge, and every one was a little nerve-wracking. Not for the bridge, but for the car - but we crossed over without incident, arriving in Prince Edward Island, the smallest province, at exactly 9:00 Atlantic time. Sunset had not yet ended.
But our journey was not yet over. Navigating the confusing signs in the rapidly decreasing sunlight was difficult enough, we still had another half an hour of driving ahead of us before getting to Charlottetown, the capital and largest city of PEI.
The scenery looks like North Carolina - eerily so, in fact. In addition to Charlottetown, we passed through a community called Tryon, saw a sign for a community with the same name as the street we used to live on, and pulled off for another brake check (everything was still good) on a road with the same name as the one we live on now. Factor in the scenery, which is like North Carolinian farmland with a little more redness in the dirt, and we felt strangely at home.
We pulled into the hotel at 9:41 and got a room. After over six hours of hard driving, the brakes still felt completely normal. The only difference was that the offending brake, when sniffed, smelled just a little bit different due to its re-greasing in Chéticamp.
Tomorrow: we explore the picturesque province of Prince Edward Island before heading back over the bridge to decrease our drive time to Québec in two days.