item7

LITTLE BLUFF JOURNAL - Nova Scotia Trip Part A (Part B here) (previous months)

Road Trip to Nova Scotia PART A (Part B here)

ROAD TRIP INTRODUCTION. Ever since we bought our first camper van more than a decade ago we’ve wanted to go to Nova Scotia. Never been there, neither of us knew anything about it other than “rugged coastline, quaint/colorful fishing villages, LOBSTER rolls, and lighthouses.” Who wouldn’t want to go to Nova Scotia - especially a nature photographer and a landscape painter! Turns out it’s a very long trip, and no way we’ve been able to be gone from our business for the month we’d want to be gone. We continued to dream, but it kept getting kicked on down the road.

Since we turned over our book distribution business last year to the UA Press, we finally saw an opportunity when we could be gone long enough, and so Nova Scotia finally got moved from the floor to the chalk board.

After months of research we picked out a date (after peak tourist season so less people) and destination and we booked a campsite for a week on Cape Breton Island in northwest Nova Scotia (six months in advance). Not the most popular area of the providence, but one with a lot of rugged coastlines and beaches, small fishing villages, a few lighthouses, LOBSTER ROLS, tons of hiking trails - and much of this inside a national park so it would be pretty much undeveloped and not too crowded - our kind of place!

Turns out our campsite was more than 2,500 miles away and would require about a week of driving to get there (and another week to get home) - YIKES! Even though our camper van is fully self-contained and doesn’t require a formal campground nor any hookups, we decided to go ahead and book campsites for most of our trip, which kind of forced us to a schedule of time and places.

As my lovely bride knows all too well, the way I travel is to drive day and night until I’m exhausted, stop and doze for 3-4 hours, hit the road again and repeat until we arrive (lots of 14-18 hour driving days in our past). NOT FUN! This trip would be different.

So here was our schedule (you might notice it got expanded a little more than just a week at a remote campground in Nova Scotia, haha) - drive to Acadia National Park in Maine (five days driving from Arkansas) and take a break for a full day (two nights). Then drive to the Bay of Fundy National Park in the province (state) of New Brunswick and explore for five days (four nights). Then enter Nova Scotia (province /state) and travel the mainland coastline (seven days/six nights) down along the southeastern, southern, and western coasts before eventually crossing up and over to Cape Breton Island, where it would take us another couple of days to reach our original campsite in the national park - where we would stay and explore for a week. Then drive back home (this would become the most difficult part of our trip - having to leave Nova Scotia!)

One issue we ran into when planning was the fact that the provincial parks on the Nova Scotia mainland opened for reservations on a rolling schedule - but not until just 60 days in advance. (our main campground in the national park was available six months ahead so it was booked from the beginning) So while Pam had our schedule and all campgrounds picked out we had to wait until July to find out if any of those campgrounds on mainland Nova Scotia would even be available.

So here’s how the provincial park campgrounds reservations worked for us. We had picked out three campsites at each campground that we liked (good view, away from other campers, etc.) At about 6:30 am on the appointed day 60 days before we wanted a campsite, Pam would log into the web site and wait. At exactly 7am the dials rolled and she would get a lottery number - her place in line. First campground she did this on her lottery number was something like 6,700! As the minutes ticked off that number was reduced - sometimes by hundreds of spots a minute. Then BANG, she was at the front of the line and could go pick through the campsites that were left. In all cases we were able to get one of our top picks (but never our first pick), except for one park - all the good sites had been taken by those in front of us (we ended up picking a different campground, which turned out just fine). WHEW, that was nerve-wracking but we finally had all the campsites booked! Two nice things about the Canadian campgrounds - they were very cheap - a couple were only $17 per night! And of course all those rates were in CANADIAN dollars, so were actually about 25% cheaper.

One note about dealing with the Canadian money - we got a new credit card that did not charge any foreign transaction fees - and almost everything in Canada is just a “tap” away - no real need to mess with getting cash, although we did have some but needed it only twice (once to buy a lighthouse, and once to get “takeout” from a little restaurant called “The Takeout” - they only took cash).

We figured it would take us a week to drive home at the end of the trip, but didn’t book any campsites since we wanted to leave the route open in case of fall color in New England was going on, or any number of variables - we had to be home by September 22nd though, the first day of AUTUMN!

ROAD TRIP DAY 1, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, 491 miles. A couple of things to note as we hit the road. It’s the first time I can recall that we’ve been PACKED AND READY to leave first thing in the morning! (So how much stuff did we forget?) In fact the camper van had been pretty much packed a couple of days before - including food in the fridge and freezer. My bride was SO organized, all I had to do was show up!

And secondly, everyone got a good hike in before we left. We wanted to hike a couple miles each morning and each evening during the long travel days - not only to make sure to keep the dogs pooped out (on the ground and into the poop bags), but also for us all to get some exercise. The only issue there was the fact that both my feet/toes were so still mangled from the Colorado mountain climb a couple weeks ago that I was not able to hike much, and downhill almost not at all without severe pain. OFF we went (with Wilson at the wheel)!

VanCabin

WilsonDriving

I’m the kind of traveler that almost always gets fuel at the most expensive place in town - no matter how much time I drive around looking for cheap gas. But this trip we decided to use the Gas Buddy app to find the best prices, and son of a gun, it worked GREAT - in fact the diesel fuel we got at the older Conoco station as we pulled into Harrison would turn out to be the CHEAPEST diesel of the entire first 1,000 miles! ($5.30)

This would be one of the longest days of the trip (500 miles), and it was great when Pam took over driving for a couple of hours midday so I could eat lunch and take a brake from traffic. We arrived at the first campground and found our site without any issues - other than the fact it was pretty warm outside. While we normally “boondock” when we travel (stop at rest areas and other parking places with no electricity available), we figured it might be too hot to camp without air conditioning so made sure the first couple of campsites had electric hookups - and we ran the AC all night.

Very nice campground, not fancy but clean and mostly quiet. It was out in the middle of nowhere, and we were able to walk the pups and ourselves for an hour or more before sunset - Pam hiked more than four miles total today. Even though the campground was full it seemed to be mostly seniors and working class folks, all enjoying a quiet evening around the dinner table or campfire. One guy was playing guitar. With the exception of the LOUD air conditioner directly above us in the camper van, we had a very peaceful evening and a great first day of what was going to be our longest trip ever - here's sunset from our campsite...

sunset2

DAY 2, Kentucky to West Virginia, 423 miles. The pups and I were up and hiking around before dawn - it was cool with a colorful sky - and FLAT all around so my toes were OK. As we headed back towards camp I noticed a critter wandering around near the base of a lamppost. We had been able to walk the dogs in the campground without other dog issues, but I braced myself and pulled the pups in close. (They don’t get along with other dogs or most other people - probably because they were raised in our wild wilderness home without socializing with others.) And then I noticed the critter was black and white - OOPS - a skunk! I could just see the headlines in our travel book now. But luckily the skunk decided we weren’t worth bothering with, turned around and went the other direction. SO much better than HONEY, guess what?!

It was another long day driving (all interstates with lots of traffic - 423 miles of it), but we did get a nice break for lunch and the pups got out to run around on the giant front lawn of a local hospital (while Pam got salads from Wendys). It seems that Wilson wanted to roll in the grass or weeds in every state we were going through, and he seemed to like the fresh-cut Kentucky Bluegrass!

WilsonRoll

The Gas Buddy app failed us on this stop - in fact it was reporting fuel prices a full sixty cents LESS than actual, though all the stations were the same - maybe they all upped the price of diesel at the same time when they saw us coming? Turns out this was the cheapest fuel we would find for a good long while, so I’m glad we stopped, even if the tank was a lot more expensive than was being reported.

One highway condition report - parts of I 64 approaching and going through Charleston West Virginia was one of the ROUGHEST roads we’d ever been on - YIKES it was TERRIBLE! John Denver made it all bearable though - I cued up one of his first big hits and we rumbled and bounced on along singing “..Almost Heaven, West Virginia...” (you probably know the rest - we LOVE John Denver...)

It was Friday night and since all the state parks in West Virginia required two nights stay we ended up booking a KOA - something we try to AVOID (crowded and very expensive parking lots most of the time). We were shocked to discover this KOA’s campsites were scattered across several small heavily wooded ridgetops with steep ravines in between, and it was almost EMPTY! Really a lovely campground (Sutton West Virginia KOA).

And we even had a band. Actually we think we had SEVERAL bands. Turns out one of the next hillsides over was the local high school football stadium and we think there was a band competition going on - they were pretty good too.

Right in the middle of it all we turn around and Pam’s parents (who live near us) are pulling into our campsite! They were on a trip to Kentucky and to the east coast and went a wee bit out of their way to meet up with us for a quite pleasant visit.

We managed to get our hiking miles in - there was a trail through the woods connecting the many campground loops, but they were so STEEP downhill that I was unable to hike them. But my lovely bride suggested that I walk backwards down the steep parts when we hiked the campground roads, and that worked really well - only a few odd stares from other campers.

DAY 3 West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, 376 miles. Yesterday we were taunted at almost every exit touting the “world’s BEST biscuit” but never gave in to the temptation. And then today as we were just about to wiz by what we figured might be our last chance, we turned off and stopped at a Tudor’s Biscuit World, which was located in a gas station. Our hopes of fine cuisine at first faded, then we realized the long line of cars was for their drive up window and inside the station folks were lined up almost out the door for a Tudor’s Biscuit! My brave wife waited and waited, then ordered a couple of biscuits blind (we had no idea what these were - and there were original and “new” versions of each of dozens of types, savory and sweet).

When my bride handed me a heavy, full size styrofoam takeout container I asked what the heck was this? Well, I should have taken a picture right away because my “new version” biscuit didn’t last very long - it was a huge biscuit, split and each side was covered with a mountain of GIANT blackberries in a very sweet sauce - LIVED UP TO THE HYPE! Oh my... (This just might turn out to be the BEST food item of our entire trip - for a gas station biscuit, really? Yup.)

tudorsbiscuit

Out of West Virginia, across a small section of Maryland, then on up into Pennsylvania. The countryside all along was very nice, but we missed turning off to visit the Flight 93 Memorial (we found out later it was six miles off the highway - wish there would have been a sign about this).

Our next campground was another private one since all the public parks in the region required a two-night stay on weekends (it was Saturday). This one was a ways off the highway, and the farther we drove (without any signs about the campground or name of the roads), the worse the road got, eventually turning into a gravel road. Then weird fences of wires or tubes or hoses started to appear on both sides of the road. Some were stacked eight feet high with many multicolored hoses - we couldn’t figure out what the heck they were for, and it all looked kind of crazy. A weird car zoomed passed us, then soon stopped in the middle of the road in front of us. Someone yelled DON’T STOP! and I hit the gas. (Actually I had to accelerate because we just started climbing a STEEP hill and it was all loose gravel and I had to keep going otherwise I’d get stuck.)

WHEW, that was close - we made it to the top without being hijacked or murdered but then came to a gate with a lot of STOP, DON’T DO THIS!, DON'T DO THAT! signs. For a few moments it was just crazy! (but it was just the entrance to the campground) I turned off the engine and went into the office to check in and all of a sudden everything was fine. Turns out it was a very crowded campground with lots of golf carts running around (speed limit was 5mph so they weren’t running too fast though). But the little store there was clean and nice, as were all the folks we encountered during our stay.

And oh all those hoses running through the woods - SYRUP hoses - there were maple trees and the hoses drained into large tanks at the bottom of the hill!

There was a nice pond right in front of our campsite with a trail all around it and we all got plenty of laps in - a very nice landscaped open forest area too with many of the trees ringed with giant hosta plants (Pam’s favorites).

As darkness fell music started - turns out we had another band for evening entertainment (our third time in a row!) - this time it was a small rock/folk band at the campground amphitheater and they played music for several hours.

One note about barking dogs. We don’t like our dogs to bark, nor other dogs - you know what I mean. Just about the time the music started we realized almost everyone in the campground was headed over for the show, which left a lot of dogs back at camp, including an older guy right next to us. As soon as his owner walked off, the dog started to wail. Within a few minutes a campground puppy cop arrived to check on the dog. Soon he returned with the dogs owner - literally went over to the concert and pulled him out of the audience. He moved the dog into his truck, which only lasted about five minutes then he started barking again - poor guy. Eventually all the music and barking faded into the night. We had a great stay, including Mia who wa a good dog and never barked! (well, almost)

mialake

DAY 4, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, 310 miles. As we crossed into New York I had to chuckle since they were changing the way they label their interstate exits - seems like many states in the east number them consecutively instead of by the mile marker number (mile marker exits make much more sense and are quite helpful to determine distances). Otherwise we passed hours of beautiful rolling hills and only a few towns. Lots of long road construction sections, but their rest areas/texting stops were super nice with wide mowed paths going out through fields and into the woods - perfect puppy exercise and poop areas!

And then we approached one of the most dreaded parts of the trip - the greater Schenectady/Albany metro area. Turns out this place is much larger than the lessor Ponca/Jasper metro area where we live! Pam had originally planned a route right through Schenectady (no tolls) but at the last second (literally) we decided to take the big toll road to the south towards Albany - and held our breath in the six-lane 90mph traffic! (it wasn’t quite THAT fast - our van can only do 82mph) Turned out we made it just fine with only one really scary part when we had to merge from the left and move over across all six lanes of packed traffic and exit right - all within less than a half mile at full speed.

Soon we were across the Hudson River and up the hill through Troy and then on into Vermont. YIPPIE COYOTE, WE SURVIVED!

Here’s another fuel stop note. After many miles of driving along a lovely river and beautiful Vermont forests, we were almost out of fuel and pulled into what we figured would be our last chance. For some reason the diesel was cheaper at this place than we’d seen in a while, but I could not figure out how to get the pump started - no credit card slot. As I scratched my head a nice gentlemen stepped up to the pump asking if he could help. Duh, it was a full service station - and cheaper than anywhere on the trip so far!

The quaint hamlet of Wilmington was just wonderful and packed with flowers everywhere - lots of folks milling around but it seemed like a spot we should visit sometime during the off season.

Soon we arrived at Molly Stark State Park just past the town. Seemed like a brand new park to me, but it actually had been here for a long time and included many historical features (though we mostly never found them). Our campsite was tucked back into a thick forest of hemlock, maple and birch trees - we couldn’t see any other campers even though the campground was almost full (we LOVE these kind of campgrounds).

MollyCampsite

Pam tried to pick campgrounds with hiking trails so we could get our mileage in and there was a great boulder and moss-lined trail here - one that climbed up to a fire tower on top of Mt. Ogla that had a commanding view all around. Really lush forest, and even a few red maple leaves falling. Some of the big birch trees were just amazing!

birch

ferns

rockytrail

It felt great to get out of the van and hike UPhill for a while, especially through such a beautiful forest. It was pretty steep, but the view from the top of the fire tower was supposed to be impressive, with views of the White Mountains, Green Mountains, and even the Berkshires down in Massachusetts. In fact in honor of being able to see the Berkshires we listened to SWEET BABY JAMES as we approached camp (one of my top-10 songs).

“..Though the Berkshires seemed dreamlike on account of that frostin’ With ten miles behind me and ten thousand more to go...”

MtOgle

Uh oh. There was a sign when we reached the top of the mountain - at the bottom of the fire tower, CLOSED!!! And we literally could not see the mountains for the trees - tall trees all around and zero view - how funny! Oh well, it was a terrific hike and I got to hear Sweet Baby James.

towerclosedsign

Then a bit of terror stuck when we turned to hike back down the STEEP trail to camp. My TOES. Oh no. I’ll skip all the whining and crying and just say it was a very slow, painful trip back down. (my five black and blue toenails were getting worse)

DAY FIVE, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, 390 miles. This was going to be our longest day driving time-wise and not looking forward to it. Mostly because so much of the drive across New Hampshire and the first half of Maine would be on two lane highway with one small town after another. Spoiler alert - it was even longer than we imagined - mostly because so many long stretches of highway with very slow speed limits - like 20 mile stretches in between towns at 40mph. And lots of 20mph zones and light, signs, and traffic. It turned out OK since the scenery was beautiful and the roads not too bad - just a very long day.

We got an early start and not five minutes in we came upon and incredible view from the highway overlooking miles of layered mountains shrouded in clouds. Only problem - in a van as large and heavy as ours (10,000 pounds) you don’t just pull off the road and stop immediately to look at a view. There WAS an overlook, but we didn’t see it until too late to stop -- and literally there wasn’t another place for us to turn around on this narrow winding highway for more than ten miles. So the great view will remain forever as a foggy memory.

One item we purchased especially for this trip was a dash cam that would record everything from start to finish. At first it would record something like two or three days of HD video, then as the card filled up it would record over the oldest sections, etc. If you wanted to save a particular clip, all you do is press a button on the back of the camera and it saves the last 90 seconds or something like that for download later. And of course you can always download everything on the card (until it is erased by new video).

So when a BLACK BEAR appeared and lumbered across the highway directly in front of us (just past the overlook) we were so happy to have the new dash cam to record the event! When I reached up to push the save button I realized that the camera only works when it is PLUGGED IN! I forgot to plug it in when we started the van - so no recording of the great VIEW or of the BEAR. Oops!

Soon we got onto I-91 and took it north nearly the full length of Vermont - wow, THIS was GREAT highway! Zero traffic, not a single billboard anywhere in sight, and the little towns were tucked into the surrounding forest and so it was just highway - almost no sign of civilization. Easy Peezy!

Then we turned east onto Hwy. 2 - Paul McCarney’s “long and winding road.” It was all very nice with only a few rough parts, just S-L-O-W.

We were surprised to see a packed trailhead on a weekday as we got towards the end of New Hampshire - it was for the trail UP to the top of Mt. Washington (highest mountain in the northeast US at 6,288’ - almost a 5,000’ climb), noted for having the highest wind speed EVER recorded - 231mph (not within an active tornado). It was a beautiful day for a hike but I had LOBSTER in my sights!

We eventually made it to the outskirts of Bangor Maine and the last leg to the coast. Gas was pretty cheap and knowing we were headed into major tourist areas we filled up - this would be the most expensive tank of the trip. But kind of funny, the closer we got to Acadia National Park and the coast the cheaper the gas - with the last station before the coast being the CHEAPEST we’d seen in a long time!

Everyone wants to go to Acadia National Park, but in our research we decided not to camp or even visit the main section of the park - way too crowded (need reservations for popular hikes, even short ones!), and our little camper van would not be allowed on many of the roads. So instead we booked a campsite for two nights on the much-less crowded part of the park, the Schoodic Peninsula. Wilson was ready for a break!

wilson

DAY SIX, Acadia National Park, Maine. Our main goal was to REST after the past five long days of travel. Turns out it was a perfect stop that we really needed. The campsites were very secluded, almost no one in town, and we got to visit a local BAKERY and ICE CREAM shop! While those two were epic, the lobster roll we had been anticipating for months turned out to be not only very good, but it cost us $61 (American) for two rolls, with fries. The food truck was the only place open in town - they kind of have their restaurants open on a rolling basis so that there’s always at least one open - but none are open regular hours during the week this time of year.

When we headed out for the big six-mile scenic loop along the coastline in the park, we discovered they would not allow our camper van, so we only got to stop and visit one spot at the beginning, then turn around and go back to camp. Bummer.

But we did get down to the ocean where Pam spent some time sketching the bay (with a lobster fisherman working just off shore). I took the pups for a hike through what turned out to be a wild apple FOREST! There were loaded apple trees everywhere! I thought this was kind of odd - wild apples so close that they literally were dropping apples in the ocean during high tide. But it would turn out to be a widespread thing we found all the way into the far north of Nova Scotia. I guess this is where Johnny Appleseed may have started (?).

sealevel

I made it to ZERO elevation!

pambeach

apples

The rest of our day was, well, mostly just laying around glad to be there (and munching on fresh bakery goods).

DAYs 7 - 10, Maine to New Brunswick, Canada, and the Bay Of Fundy National Park (some photos will be added later). We got a really slow start due to our little Miss Mia not feeling well and needed and emergency vet visit back in Bangor (had to call at least eight vets to find one that was available, about $400 American). It was mid-afternoon when we finally headed north to the Canadian border (with our little pup on the mend) - and turned out we were the only ones there at the time we crossed! At the time Canada still had pretty strict COVID restrictions (YEA!), but thanks to their mandatory ArriveCAN APP that we filled out in advance the crossing was seamless.

Turned out this would be only one of two days that it rained on our entire trip - and oh brother did it RAIN on our Canadian parade! But that was OK - most of the drive up the coast to our campsite was on an almost deserted divided highway. By the time we pulled into our campsite it was after 8pm (almost dark) and all of us were a little road weary - but THANKFUL to be in the famous - and much anticipated - Fundy National Park, home to the highest ocean tides in the world.

First let me explain. The Bay of Fundy is where the ocean comes in between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia - in many places you can look across and see the other providence. When the ocean tide goes out, it drains a lot out of this wide bay into the giant North Atlantic Ocean and much of the sea floor is exposed - sometimes you can walk out a mile on dry land that’s normally underwater! Then when the tide comes in it fills the bay and is pushed far and higher than anyplace else on the planet - with the difference between high and low tides being as much as 50’ and even more. Tides operate on the schedule of the moon’s gravity, which gets stronger and then weaker again (about 12 hours and 25 minutes between high tides, or just over 6 hours in between high and low tides). Of course google will tell you much more.

Lo and behold our good friends from back home, Ray and Susan Scott, were in the campsite next to us - how did that happen? We set all this up six months ago that’s how. Pam and I had booked a week at a campground in Nova Scotia later in the month, then Ray and Susan booked this campground for several days at the beginning of the month, so we combined our trips (with a week in between).

Our campground was located at Point Wolfe, with a really neat covered bridge, beach, mountains, waterfalls, incredible lush forests, and a lot of other stuff all around us - including a lot of RED CHAIRS (in Canada National Parks they install red Adirondack chairs at many scenic overlooks on park roads and some trails - whenever you see one you know there’s something great to see!).

One morning a white car pulls up and a jolly gentleman steps out with an arm load of FRESH PASTRIES from the local bakery in the nearby little fishing village of Alma (New Brunswick) - HURRAY! Pam’s parents had decided they also wanted to visit Canada, and we would be fortunate enough to get to see them off and on for the next couple of weeks. So the Ernsts, Scotts, and Fergusons had a grand breakfast and long visit!

We spent the next several days hiking the beaches and trails in the park, and were forced to eat fresh seafood a time or two, and generally soak up as much of the wonderful place as we could. Pam got to hike and explore visual treats and did several sketches (one of the covered bridge below). The pups got to RUN FREE on a beach or two - sometimes we would take them to the beach at sunrise when no one else was there.

CoveredBridgeSketch

I got to go on a sunset kayak tour led by park naturalists on a lake in the park - it was the first time I had ever paddled in a kayak - this would end up costing me later on (new kayak in our future perhaps?). Susan rented a kayak also ($11 American) - Ray and Pam stayed behind and got some great scoop from locals about other places to visit/eat in other parts of the county. Guess what - I got to go kayaking in Canada!

The really BIG highlight of this part of the trip - something I never ever thought would even be an option - nor on my radar at all - was that we later got to spend a couple of hours in a sea kayak paddling in the North Atlantic Ocean in the Bay Of Fundy - during one of the highest tides on the planet that day! I had no idea this was even possible, but oh my GOSH!

We started by hiking along the coast at low tide at this place called Hopewell Rocks - giant tides and amazing “flower pot” rock formations are their thing - in fact there were hundreds of people touring the pots and sea floor that day. At low tide there is the most part of the sea floor exposed (we were actually standing 20’ below sea level), including a tall cliff face that had many caves, arches, and flower pots along it. Some of those rock formations we could actually hike beneath and around while others we could only see above us.

TwentyFeetBelowSeaLevel

FundyFlowerPotNoPeople

If that wasn’t amazing enough, we returned there for the high tide six hours later and Pam and I got into a tandem sea kayak (along with a couple dozen other folks in theirs, including Ray and Susan, plus four guides). We got to paddle around those same cliffs for the next two hours - HOLY MOLY JOHN DENVER! The high tide that day was 40.6’ higher than where we had hiked on the sea floor six hours before. (average high tides around the world average less than TEN feet, so this was a big deal - in fact the Bay of Fundy has the highest recorded tides in the world)

OK, so high tide was great, but guess what - all those neat rock formations we were looking at and hiking around before - the tide was so high that we got to PADDLE RIGHT THROUGH THEM! Through more than 30 caves and arches, and around the tops of the flower pots - it was just, well, I really can’t describe it. It was an adventure I’d never heard of that has turned out to be one of the most incredible things I’ve ever done in my life. And I only took three pictures, sorry - I was busy paddling through caves and trying not to get flipped over by the ocean!

Being me, I tried to keep us at the far back end of the group for a little solitude while we paddled, and a couple of times we just stopped and let everyone go on and disappear through the caves. We were left alone in this place of beauty - the ocean went calm and almost silent. WOW.

The tour took us about a mile or so along the coast, and then we all addled back the same route through the caves and arches - though the ocean had dropped so much (12’ already) that many of the places we had just paddled through were now ABOVE us.

IF YOU EVER GET THE CHANCE.......

RaySusanKayak

Ray and Susan (above), some of the Hopewell Rocks low/medium tides (below)

FundyPotsCrowded

FlowerPotsKayaks

Another evening back at Fundy National Park I spent a couple of hours with Ray at a small overlook along a trail that was tucked into dense forest with a view of the ocean - the sea and rugged coastline were illuminated by a setting moon on one side, and the Milky Way just waking up and appearing on the other side. We two night photographers were pretty happy campers, and in fact didn’t get back to camp until almost midnight! (my only camera battery went dead) Talk about CLEAR skies and NO light pollution - our view to the horizon with nothing out there...

After charging my camera battery I returned to the same overlook after midnight and spent another hour there taking pictures. Or actually I only took a few pictures - most of my time was just standing there alone in stunned silence at how beautiful it all was.

So that moon and starlight show was so nice we did it again the next night. (I hadn’t planned on any nighttime photos on this trip, and was thankful I had packed a small tripod.) All of those photos were with my “real” camera, a small point and shoot that I sometimes carry. As I’m writing this those two nights were more than a month ago and I still have not pulled the memory card out of the camera to see what I got - I’ll try and find one to show you - but there’s no way to represent what an unreal scene and feeling it all was being there.

One day we had a picnic with Pam’s parents (who were staying at a hotel in the little fishing village) next to the ocean where a river came in. Each of us picked out a rock or edge of a beach that was bare and waited to see how long it took for the incoming tide to cover it up - it was climbing about a foot every ten minutes!

There was a bridge over the river and as we lunched and laughed since almost everyone who walked across the bridge came back with a loaf of bread. No bakery across the bridge, but there was a little general store (with the only bread in town) and folks needed bread for their own picnic lunches by the sea.

After driving past the trailhead in the park many times we finally stopped and hiked an amazing trail to Dickson Falls. The forest was SO LUSH, with giant ferns or moss covering almost everything. Much of the trail was boardwalks along crystal clear creeks, wooden bridges across them, or wooden steps climbing steep hillsides. The main canyon was very narrow, and the moss-covered sides were almost vertical! When we finally reached the main sets of waterfalls the walkway was so narrow - one lane only. Thank goodness there was only a few other hikers on the trail so we could stop and spend time just soaking up the gorgeousness of this place - one of the most beautiful short hiking trails I’ve been on.

DicksonFalls

Bay of Fundy, highest tides in the world, SEA KAYAKING through caves and arches, night photography with Ray in an International Dark Sky Park in CANADA, walking hand-in-hand on a deserted beach with my lovely bride - CHECK, CHECK, CHECK!!!

OK, it was time to move on and so we headed for Nova Scotia...

See PART B - Days 11-19 - CLICK HERE.

item2a
FreeCounter