I figure the ‘Long Cut’ is a road trip feature most people try to avoid. Short cuts are usually more desirable. But when you’re test-driving a 2021 Mazda3 Sport GT with all-wheel drive – hey! Did somebody say, ‘Take the long way home!’?
On a recent drive from Halifax to Amherst, we decided to take a long cut on the return trip, usually a two-hour drive.
My first thought was to simply skip the toll road over the Cobequid Pass and instead take the old Trans Canada Highway through Wentworth Valley, extending the trip home by about 20 minutes.
But we had all afternoon. What about a real long cut like the Glooscap Trail? What’s another two hours?
I wasn’t thinking about all the cool stuff to see on the road that runs along Cumberland Basin from Amherst, around Cape Chignecto, then along the Minas Basin to Truro. Both bodies of water empty into the world wonder at our doorstep, the Bay of Fundy.
Every six hours, this impressive Bay funnels about 10 cubic kilometres of water through the Minas Channel, more than the daily outflow of all the world’s rivers combined, producing the highest tides on the planet.
But that’s not what was on my mind.
Behind the wheel of a 2021 Mazda3 Sport GT, a certain two-lane wiry Route 209 through the woods was calling me
No. I was thinking of the rough, remote Route 209 between Joggins, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, whose cliffs contain the world’s most complete fossil record of life in the Coal Age, 300 million years ago, and Advocate Harbour.
I was seeing the deserted two-lane wiry road through the woods, no power lines, no traffic, no cell service.
And then I was there, road tunes blasting, forgetting about my husband in the passenger seat.
Ensconced in the top-notch driver’s seat of the 2021 Mazda3 Sport, I had the steering wheel in my hands, working the paddle shifters at my fingertips.
The Mazda3 Sport GT is powered by a new turbocharged SKYACTIV-G 2.5-litre engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. When it’s all juiced up on premium fuel, this fun powerplant makes 250 horsepower.
Speaking of juiced up, Mazda must be riding high, having captured the title of 2020 World Car Design of the Year for this sporty little number, looking aggressive in polymetal grey metallic paint with 18-inch alloy wheels. A well-deserved gift to the marque which also celebrated its 100-year anniversary last year.
Jinbai Ittai – Mazda’s philosophy that you become one with the car sure applies to the 2021 Mazda3 Sport
As I pushed the Mazda3 Sport through the tight turns, dizzying dips, crazy curves and exhilarating straight stretches (not many of those), I was in a state of excited bliss.
Mazda engineers would say I was experiencing ‘Jinbai Ittai’, the brand’s philosophy that driver and vehicle become one. Whatever you call it, when we reached Advocate Harbour, at the end of the twisty, turn-y drive, I was fairly panting.
The drive through beautiful Advocate Harbour, where boats rest on their hulls on the ocean floor waiting for the tide to roll in and raise them 10 metres to the height of the wharf, calmed my accelerated heart rate.
Now that I had that out of my system, I could relish the ‘what’s next’ of road trip.
Whereas the first part of the long cut from Joggins to Advocate Harbour was mostly in the woods with only brief glimpses of the glistening Bay, the road from Advocate Harbour to Truro offers wide open vistas of the tumultuous body of water.
The wild tidal activity is responsible for the stunning high bluff shoreline. The relatively freshly paved curvy ribbon of blacktop is Fun with a capital F to drive, likened by some to the Cabot Trail.
Must-see stops along this route include Spencer’s Island, a tiny community with a grand driftwood-strewn beach, historic Port Greville, where some 400 ships were built and launched.
Then there’s Parrsboro, dinosaur-land, and, about three kilometres out of town, another hidden gem beach at Partridge Island.
We can’t finish the long cut without a stop at Five Islands Provincial Park, one of the most striking coastal scenes in the province. You can gaze out at the mysterious islands of Moose, Diamond, Long, Egg, and Pinnacle.
These five islands were formed during a monumental Earth event – the breakup of the supercontinent Pangea 200 million years ago, and the birth of the modern continents and Atlantic Ocean.
Who would have thought a two-hour detour could reveal such wonders? Long live the Long Cut!