Time for the second part of a three part recap of our Atlantic Canada trip in early July. I left you off with a Canada Day celebration in Saint John, N.B. Our third day we pressed further east with our first stop at Fundy National Park on the southeast coast of New Brunswick.
Before I get to that though – one major reminder to travelers. Yes, it seems obvious – but stock up on batteries. And I mean STOCK UP! We were fighting a battery shortage en route to Fundy and tried to find some in downtown Saint John (good luck on a Sunday). A convenience store had ketchup chips (mmm) but no batteries. We actually didn’t find any until we got to the Fundy gift shop and even then those died on us after only a few pictures per pair. So, yeah, make sure you have a good stash before you head out.
Fundy National Park preserves a plot of land on the Bay of Fundy coast – home to the some of the most amazing tides in the world. Twice-a-day the tides reach the height of a four-story building while receding completely two other times (the changes in between are about 6 hours or so apart) to the point where one can walk the ocean floor. High tide and low tide both create a unique perspective of the shore, so visitors try to stay a day or two to get the full effect.
The road to Fundy might has well have been listed on my remote roads post. Yikes! Bumps, pot-holes and random fill-ins speckle the entire length – not to mention you better keep your eyes peeled for moose. It’s literally one of the worst paved roads I’ve ever driven on, so watch out! Once you get to into the park, however, the pavement is smooth. In general, though, straying off the highway in this province usually is an invitation to a bumpy ride.
Fundy isn’t an incredibly large park and many of the main trails and sights can be taken in during a long afternoon – which was just as we planned. Our first trek – and my inspiration for coming here in the first place – was the popular Dickson Falls hike, a relatively easy hike on a boardwalk through the forest and a view of the scenic falls. I had seen pictures of this trail when researching the trip and it seemed too unbelievable to pass up. The scenery here is really stunning, with old growth and rock lichen giving way to fresh streams, and, of course, waterfalls.
You also can’t beat the cool, misty weather at Fundy. In my opinion, summer trips don’t really get any better than heading north to Canada and basking in the breezy northern air. The freshness of Fundy is apparent in all the green color that surrounds you. It’s truly a remarkable sight. That, and so was our Florida-plated rental car – which caught the eye of some Quebecois tourists who couldn’t believe we drove that far for this. Heck, I’d drive from Florida to Fundy if I got the opportunity, so I let them believe we came from the Sunshine State.
We got back on the road and drove down (through a covered bridge, a relatively common sight in New Brunswick) to Point Wolfe, a small little bay that draws water into the Pointe Wolfe river. The views from Pointe Wolfe beach are incredbile, with tall pines escalating up the mountainside and a rocky shore that winds around and through the bay. There are all sorts of interesting shells and other beach strewn artifacts that come in with the wild tide changes and we had fun digging through the natural treasures.
Our last stop at the park was Herring Cove which is a purer beach than that of Pointe Wolfe – but it’s not without it’s rocky side. Huge boulders litter the extreme eastern edge of the coast and it makes fun fun climbing and exploring opportunities. We even saw an inuksuk stacked on the shoreline. Little crabs were washed ashore by the tides and tiny minnows sparkled along the sand, flip-flopping as they struggled for their lives. A group of people were picking them up and tossing them back into the water in hopes that they would save a few that may likely wind up as food for a predator later.
The low tide was readily apparent here, notwithstanding the poor seafaring creatures. A huge mud-hole of sorts had been dug out by the water and stretched behind the beach. Hours later it would be filled up again by high tide, making beach access rather tricky.
We hopped out on the road again, making our way to Alma, N.B., a small fishing town that exists just outside the park’s borders. The place reminds me of Cooke City, MT, a town that almost exists as a support mechanism for the park. The small main road was packed with tourists and bikers passing through. We decided to stop at a local joint and sample the food. I make it a rule to eat like a local when I can, so I ordered the staple dish – fish and chips – and couldn’t have been more happier with it.
We continued our day with a stop at the Hopewell Rocks, which is one of the most popular (if not the most) attractions in all of New Brunswick. Upon reaching the site I did not expect to see a gigantic parking lot (of Wal-mart proportions) packed full of people. That, coupled with the rather high admission fee does kinda wear on the experience of the rocks – but these are still a definite must-see.
The rocks, at low-tide (which is when we visited) are like pillars coming up out of the ocean floor. Years of wear and tear from the tides has shapened these rocks and eventually they will disappear (though new ones are likely to form in their stead). At the time of low tide, people are allowed in to walk the ocean floor among these behemoths of natural architecture. Their are plenty of good photo-ops, though good luck trying to clip other tourists out of your shots.
The park isn’t limited to the rocks themselves. We took a hike to another overlook to view low tide at its peak. It’s unbelievable how much of the floor you can see! The sun gave the floor a burnt-orange/brown hue and the water that was clinging to the shore resembled chocolate milk. If one was on the shoreline at this particular spot under the overlook (I’m sure there was access somewhere) you could walk into the ocean for thousands of feet before it came to your head.
Our adventures in New Brunswick were winding to a close – but they will stick with both Breeah and I for the rest of our lives. Fundy is an experience to be lived – not just seen in pictures. It is incredibly beautiful up there and is one of those rare spots (in my opinion) that truly deserves a second visit. We may get that chance sometime, but for now it was on to the mammoth Confederation Bridge and Prince Edward Island!
To be continued…