We crossed the Tidnish Bridge from Nova Scotia into New Brunswick and, as we were tired of driving, we ended up at the only RV Park we could find, the most expensive campsite we’ve stayed at so far – $44.00. The pool was dirty, the grass was so long we had to ask for it to be cut and we had to pay extra for a fire pit. We got our money’s worth though when the maintenance guy dropped by for glass of wine and brought some firewood with him.
It was sunny in the morning as we drove through Moncton, a particularly tidy city characterized, it seemed to us, by a lot of clean, white architecture. We continued on to Hillsborough where Janice’s great grandparents on her father’s side were from. There we spent an hour wandering around their excellent and extensive train museum.
We got an RV site at the Chocolate River RV Campground and Restaurant near Hillsborough, right on the Chocolate River. The river is affected enormously by the tides from the Bay of Fundy and looks like milk chocolate, presumably because of the silt carried in and out by the tides.
Photo: Across the Chocolate River from our site near Hillsborough.
We were now positioned for an easy drive to Hopewell Rocks on the Bay of Fundy, famed not only for their immense size and ghastly shapes, but because they clearly demonstrate the depth of the largest tides on earth.
We back-tracked to Moncton for some groceries and for a quick tour of the town and, later in the afternoon, drove to Hopewell Rocks, catching the high tide, and discovering what time we needed to be back the next morning to see the low tide. On the way back to our site I bought some firewood from an old man doing business from his house beside the highway. $5 for a wheelbarrow load!
Back at our site we gave the truck and trailer a proper washing in order to remove the rotten fish bits we’d picked up along the highway in Nova Scotia. We also had a swim in the pool and a campfire after dinner but went to bed with a few mosquito bites.
Early the next morning awe drove back to the park, arriving in perfect time to witness the low tide, a difference of thirty-nine feet from the night before. In the spring the disparity in these tides can reach as much as fifty-one feet. It was a little eerie walking on the ocean floor where the water would have been thirty feet over our heads just eighteen or nineteen hours earlier.
Photos: The Hopewell Rocks at low tide.
Photo: Hopewell Rocks at low tide.
Photo: Tim at Hopwell Rocks.
We headed south later in the day and walked around the town of Alma a little before striking out for Fundy National Park where we swam and hung out at Bennet Lake for the afternoon.
Photo: The enormous tides leave fishing boats high and dry at Alma.
Photo: Us at Bennet Lake in Fundy National Park. Could somebody have gained a pound or two on the trip? I’m working on my belly tan and if you saw me today I’d probably look a lot better!
We drove to Sussex, on a blistering hot afternoon, where we found O’Connell Park, a kiddies’ water park. There was room to park the rig so we had a picnic-style dinner and splashed around in freezing water with a couple of six-year-olds. Worn out and cooled off, we moved camp to Walmart where we drank wine with two couples; one from Calgary and another from Fairmont, BC.
It turned out to be a noisy Walmart so we had a lousy sleep. In the morning I took the truck for an oil change to Canadian Tire, which was conveniently located across the street from our site at Walmart.
As we were driving towards Saint John though, I noticed that the engine light was on. When I checked, the new oil filter was leaking. We took it to Canadian Tire in Saint John where they replaced the filter but, when we got back in the truck, the engine light was still on. The service guys said that it was a strange coincidence and had nothing to do with the oil change we’d received at Sussex. They said they’d have to put it on the diagnostic machine and find out what it was. $65 later they said that they had the codes for what was wrong but didn’t know what they meant! They said they’d turn the engine light off, but then couldn’t. We walked out frustrated, with a broken truck.
The next morning we took it to the Ford dealership and they discovered it was a fuel sensor letting in too much air and it was fixed in a jiffy for $98. I went back to Canadian Tire to see if I could get my money back. After getting stonewalled by the Service Manager and then going through the same thing with the Store Manager I came out of the Canadian Tire Store an unhappy customer. Don’t take your vehicle there, they have no idea about what they’re doing – they admitted to all kinds of faults with what they’d done and even to their own lack of expertise, but there was to be no refunding of money.
Saint John was a bit of a disappointment. While the downtown is funky with lots of old brick buildings – looks like a great big Yaletown in Vancouver- there is a pulp mill and an oil refinery located right next door, so the air quality leaves something to be desired. Sorry cousin Martin in Halifax; St. John’s, Newfoundland wins the battle of the St. John’s, hands down.
Photo: Some of the old brick buildings at St. John, NB.
Photo: A cruise ship at Saint John harbour.
Photo: The huge farmers’ market at St. John.
In the afternoon we went to Fisher Lake at Rockwood Park for a swim. Our RV site at Saint John had a view of the city but no fire pits so we tried watching the one TV channel available but were soon bored, so we turned in.
The next day was sunny and hot as we stopped in Blacks Harbour, another haunt of Janice’s relatives, but were chased out of town by the overwhelming smell of the sardine processing plants there. Blacks Harbour processes more sardines than anywhere else in Canada.
Photo: Boat houses near Blacks Harbour, NB.
We drove on to St. Andrews-by-the-sea which, in contrast, is an exquisite little example of a meticulously maintained historic town. The Kinsman Campground, where we stayed, was on some of the most expensive real estate in town.
We rode our bikes into town and then returned to swim in the ocean. After dinner we came back to the shore to catch the sunset over the bay. It was a beautiful evening with a lot of planes’ vapour trails criss-crossing the sky. Later, the Milky Way was clearly visible. We were the only ones having a fire though because everyone else seemed to be inside, air conditioners running.
Photo: Sunset at Saint Andrews-by-the-sea.
Photo: The Bay of Fundy in front of our campsite at Saint-Andrews-by-the-sea. It has a mile of beachfront which was perfect because, by maritime standards, we’re enduring an extraordinary heat wave, with temperatures of 35+ degrees, (about 90 Fahrenheit).
We attempted to beat the heat by setting off early, stopping at St. Stephen, which borders the State of Maine and was the subject of a W-5 program I saw a year or so ago. It was about Canadian kids smuggling crack cocaine into the small town of Calais, Maine, right across the river. The Americans were frustrated because Canada’s penalties were so lame and the problem was growing. I would guess they’re still struggling with the same issue but you sure couldn’t tell from looking at such a serene little town by day.
Photo: St. Andrews, NB with Calais, Maine, across the river.
There were no RV Sites available at St. Stephen so we continued toward Fredericton. We had only made it an hour or so up the road when we saw an enticing campsite at a place called, yes, Woolastook, on the Saint John River. The river looked more like a lake due to the hydro-electric dam that we discovered later. We spent most of the afternoon swimming off the wharf at our campsite at Woolastook, in soupy-warm water. It was there that Janice re-learned, from her new nine-year-old girlfriends, how to do a forward somersault off the wharf.
As of today, it’s been three months and almost 20,000 kilometers since we left our driveway in Kamloops. Of course we’re over budget again this month but we knew the first six months would be the most expensive as we put on the miles required to explore our enormous country. Once we get south for the winter we’ll be doing less travelling. Or so we keep rationalizing anyway.
Because we weren’t so fond of the overly warm water at Woolastook, we headed up the road to Hartt Island Park on the same river, but past the dam, where the water was less stagnant. The campsite included a water park that was free to campers between ten and eleven a.m., so Janice also got to re-live a ten-year-old waterslide experience. The park also has a driving range, several basketball hoops, tennis courts and kayak and canoe rentals.
Photo: Janice at Harrt Island water park.
Photo: Like a speeding bullet, Janice barrels down the waterslide. I wonder if the real Superwoman plugs her nose.
We walked around downtown Fredericton later in the morning. Because it’s a university town as well as the provincial capital, and situated alongside the Saint John River, it’s quite a scenic place. It was abnormally but hellishly hot when we were there though. Fredericton was actually Canada’s hot spot for the day.
Photo: City Hall at Fredericton.
Returning to camp, overheated, we spent the next couple of hours swimming in the river and sitting in the shade reading. We probably dunked four or five times throughout the afternoon and evening. There was a province-wide campfire ban on but, for some reason, our campsite allowed them, so we had a ripping fire overlooking the river while we counted sputniks. Janice also had one ear on the radio for up-dates on approaching Hurricane Earl.
Photo: A ripping campfire at Harrt Island Park.
The heat was still oppressive when we got up the next morning but we decided to ride our bikes along the river for a half hour or so before going for our first dunk of the day. We then took an exploratory drive, looking to discover somewhere new to have a picnic lunch along the river. The only place we could find with adequate shade was under a bridge on the Nashwaak River.
Tomorrow we’re heading north in an effort to out-maneuver Hurricane Earl, and then on to Maine in the next few days.
Photo: One last beautiful sunset over the St. John River.
Photo: Janice takes in the lull before the storm, the night before Earl.
We awoke to drizzling rain, knowing that we were on the edge of where the recently downgraded Tropical Storm Earl was scheduled to appear. It started pouring rain about 10:30 am and we had to move our trailer at 11:00 because we hadn’t been sure if we were staying and so didn’t reserve our spot. I got thoroughly soaked and by noon it was coming down in sheets. We hunkered down, me with a book, Janice mostly on the Internet (which, by the way, Fredericton features for free throughout the city), and waited while the wind blew and the puddles grew. By three o’clock the skies cleared and we took a long walk along the river.
Photo: The truck gives an idea of the puddle’s depth.
The downpour gave us time to reminisce about our six-week tour of the Maritimes. We concluded that Newfoundland tops our list. Nova Scotia has more history and its grand seaside communities outnumber those of Newfoundand; Prince Edward Island is perhaps more attractive; New Brunswick has the Acadian culture that is very colourful and intriguing, but The Rock has a way of casting a spell. It’s like being immersed in a different culture, almost like a different country, where folks are both rugged and genuine, like the landscape that surrounds them, relatively untouched. I know we’d go back.
We left Hartt Island Park on Sunday morning and drove into Fredericton where we had lunch and then widened our explorations on our bikes. It’s amazing what a little hurricane will do. A few days earlier, when we were in Fredericton, we had fled early because of the thirty-six degree heat that set a 130 year record. Two days later we were wearing jackets because it was only about fourteen degrees, with a chilly breeze – from record summer highs to fall in one day.
We drove to Killarney Lake in North Fredericton where we walked around and had dinner before bedding down in the parking lot of the local Walmart.
The next day, on our way to McAdam, NB, you’ll be thrilled to know that we drove through Harvey, the hometown of none other than the late Don Messer. For American readers, we in Canada had Don Messer’s Jubilee televised live every Sunday right across the country. We camped at Wauklehegan Lake, a municipal campground, in McAdam, and then walked into town to tour the beautiful old CP rail station.
Photo: The CPR station at McAdam.
Photo: The CPR Station at McAdam, built in 1900. The cafeteria was added in 1910 and everything is original except the countertops and flooring that were replaced in the 1950’s; the stool tops were replaced last year. We split a piece of homemade coconut cream pie, with coffees, all for $5.00.
Photo: Boathouses at Wauklehegan Lake.
Photo: Canoes at Wauklehegan Lake, NB. Our last night in Canada.
Due to the Labour Day weekend there wasn’t much going on around McAdam so we took a drive to another small lake right on the US border but it was too chilly and windy for swimming so we returned to camp where we scrounged some firewood.
Later, sitting around the campfire, we finished off anything that we weren’t allowed to take across to the Excited States of America the next day, including my last wee bit of herb…