7.30.10 Into New Brunswick & the Hopewell Rocks
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7.30.10 Into New Brunswick & the Hopewell Rocks
Long driving day today, punctuated with fun activities and nice people!
We drove all the way down Hwy 19, the Ceilidh Trail ("Kale E") from Inverness to the Trans-Canada Hwy in Cape Bretton.
Then we got propane and gas from Canadian Tire and drove west across the Causeway (Cape Bretton is technically an island that is part of Nova Scotia) to the mainland of Nova Scotia.
Without the brutal wind of the last time we drove it, the Trans-Canada Hwy 104 was a fine highway! We again passed Antigonish (Scottish Highlanders Festival we attended with Ned) and went a 4th time thru Truro, which sounds to me like Scoobie-Doo saying, "Rut-ro! Tru-ro!" Ha!
It was a lovely day by the time we reached New Brunswick in early afternoon. The sky was such a vivid blue and clear.
Thanks to my efficient GPS driving directions (cough! cough!), we traversed the very downtown center of Moncton, a nice family city along the Bay of Fundy.
Then we drove the MOST beautiful country Highway 114 south to Cape Hopewell.
The Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world. Based on the gravitational pulls of both the moon (70%) and the sun (30%), the tides rise and fall 43 feet or so, twice a day.
The waves have created some gigantic rock formations, called the Hopewell Rocks, that are in the water at full tide, like islands with trees on top (which gives them the "nature's flowerpots" nickname). But during low tide (for 3 hours before and after) you can walk on the shore after the water has receeded.
Big yawn?? NO! We were so surprised at how impressive these massive rock formations were! Truly awesome!
At high tide, there are 2 other things you can do: kayak on a tour and see shore birds. We did neither on this trip, but here's the deal on the birds:
The shorebirds are usually come between mid-July and the end of August. They're flying from the Arctic Circle to South America and this is their ONLY stopover where they are supposed to rest up for the final leg of the journey. There are expected to be between 1 million to 2.5 million of these birds! This year, only 100 or so birds have arrived, causing concern to the rangers about the low numbers. It is already the end of July- where are the birds??
Also, you must get to the Hopewell Rocks exactly at high tide when the birds are coming ashore because within half an hour or so, they fly off to a nearby Cape, which is a distance away. We arrived just after high tide and missed them. But seeing the water recede at 5 feet a minute was fascinating.
Also, the Ranger on shore had a iPad! Really! And he showed us fascinating pictures with the iPad of the tide from where we stood, both at high and low tides, and then a third picture with the 2 pics superimposed on each other! Cool!
He also had dated pictures of new Raptor babies! These birds go from newborn to flying in just 40 days! Incredibly fast transformation! We saw video of them eating too. That iPad was a terribly impressive tool.
This nice Ranger also used kid's balls to diagram in the sand how the pulls of the sun and earth cause the tides. Now, that's the way to learn!
All-in-all, we became believers in the Hopewell Rocks and hiked back up to the Visitor's Center with a bit more respect for them!
Although a Hopewell Rocks ticket ($23 family) is good for 2 days, we pushed onward. They did say that we could overnight in the RV just outside their gates (they close at 8pm) and it looked like a nice grassy parking area.
Friends at Hopewell Rocks: I saw my Tennessee friends from the NFL Gros Morne Western Brook boat tour there! They'd just finished their Newmar Coach Caravan 2 days ago.
Also, RV'ers from Boston helped me plan our stopover there with places to safely park the RV and tour the city. It was particularly convenient since I'd nearly given up in dispair after researching it until 1am last night AND since one guy in their group was a Boston Tour Guide! Terrific!
We saw a Winnebago View this morning and thought (gasp!) "Evelyn and Steve swam over with Tulip from Newfoundland!" But no, it was a couple who is headed to Newfoundland now. They will now be on the lookout for Tulip, their twin.
In fact, we saw a LOT of RV's headed east thru Nova Scotia today. August is a GREAT time to explore the Maritimes (and Newfoundland and Labrador). The weather feels just perfect! Berries are ripening, the mosquitoes and blackflies are about gone, festivals are progressing. A lovely time indeed.
I do think the 114 Route is the prettiest route in all of New Brunswick! Breathtaking! And we love New Brunswick in general. It seems very real and not over-hyped.
We stopped at little general store along Hwy 114 and then a cafe served our fish & chips and lobster rolls for dinner. Customers in the cafe chatted with us while we awaited our take-out meals. People seem so "normal" in the Maritimes, saying "Hello" and being friendly. Kids respond to greetings or waves. I do so love it!
What makes people so universally nice in certain places? It's a sociology mystery to me. For example, it is a FACT that Newfoundlanders are "friendly." I think they simply *do away* with anyone who is not naturally inclined to uphold the "national Newfie" reputation!
The drive also took us by expansive mudflats from the receeding tide and through the gorgeous Fundy National Park. No daily pass is needed if just driving through.
The forests lining the road in Fundy NP were SOOO thick ... how thick??... So thick that you could only see in about ten feet and then it was BLACK. I mean, no sunlight at all. Wow, I would get lost in there in under a minute!
RV's were lined up to check into the popular campground in the National Park on this Friday night. It was a lovely park.
We pressed on to the nice Sussex Walmart, about an hour from Saint John, N.B. (remember, no abbreviating and no "s" on the end of this Saint John!) There are 4 other campers and the store is now closed for the night. Our Skype worked great talking with Ned with no delay.
Lord willing, we'll head back into the U.S. tomorrow, which makes me both happy and sad. We do so love Canada too!