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36℉ at 6:00 and a high of 57℉
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
It was chilly when we started the Maple Grove hike at 9:30, but it went up a mountain, so I was soon shedding layers. We stayed quiet as were sure we would see a bear or moose. Nothing! Well, the cute little squirrels were talking to us. A small cabin greets you at the top with an inside and outside fireplace. It is only open in the winter for those who will snowshoe to the top. After we came down there was a short hike to Dickinson Falls. This was a beautiful area, looking like a Japanese garden with walkways all along the small stream that runs through the golf course above. The golf course reminds me of the old course at the Homestead in Virginia. It is only nine holes, but it is beautiful. No one was on it!
We came back to camp for sandwiches and then drove back east 35km to Hopewell Rocks. On our way out of town, we stopped at the bakery and picked up some bread, sticky buns and cookies stuffed with dates, sampling the cookies as we drove. We arrived at Hopewell rocks along with a bunch of others including a couple of bus tours. Of course there are the huge swings in tides here. Though hundreds of years the waters have eroded rocks into islands with peculiar shapes. Ripley visited the spot in the 30’s and wrote an article the paper and his name stuck – Ripley’s Flower Pot. A man was guiding a bus tour through the rocks, and we tagged along. He was great, telling stories about the rocks, seaweeds and things that lived in the muddy waters of the Petitcodiac River. One of the seaweeds has a gelatinous material that is used to make ice cream and toothpaste.
Leaving Hopewell Rocks, we took the scenic Lighthouse Route back. The road was rough, small and wound through some rough country, but parts of it were extraordinary. So many marshes followed the route, I was drooling. We followed a road to Point Enrage. I questioned our wisdom as we drove this little, windy, rough road, but when we ended up at the top of a cliff, the views were incredible looking back up the river toward Moncton. A lighthouse sits on the cliff protecting a very dangerous point. We could see and hear the tide rushing past those rocks. We talked with two young brothers visiting with their cousin. They live in Moncton and told the story of their parents who were walking along cliffs looking for fossils. They were so engrossed in what they were doing, they didn’t notice the quick tides coming in and their return route was cut off. They told of people getting hurt or killed in these situations all the time, but their parents somehow were able to climb the cliffs to escape the dangerous waters. They talked about how beautiful this place was, yet so difficult to describe or photograph.
Returning to the Lighthouse Route, we passed more beautiful marshes and huge, long beaches. This is a rough environment a long way from anything. There are houses, but not many, and most are very modest. I remember passing one dilapidated house and barn with the most spectacular views. The windy road led us back to Alma on the edge of Fundy National Park. We stopped at the takeout place for some clam fritters, but they were closed.
45℉ at 6:00 with high of 58℉
Sunday, October 9, 2016
We packed up and drove south on Rt 11 for an hour before turning onto the coastal road, called the Lighthouse Trail. It was a good move as it was beautiful. The road is right on the coast with little houses and farms along the way. There were funny-looking things in the water that I think were for oyster farming. We passed a couple of men up to their butts digging for clams, or maybe oysters. The route goes out on a peninsula where there is a bridge to Prince Edward Island, but we cut across to Moncton. Driving through downtown, Moncton looks like a nice city. There is a beautiful walkway along the Petiticodiac River. We stopped and went over to see if we could catch the tidal bore as the muddy river bed was totally empty. People were out walking and jogging on this Thanksgiving Sunday, a pleasant morning. Soon we could see the water rushing in, although there wasn’t a big wave. This is the area where tides change up to 34 feet.
Crossing the river and turning along the south shore of New Brunswick, we passed a lot of campers returning home. At the eastern edge of Fundy National Park is a cute little coastal village of Alma. Martha drooled at the shops, seafood restaurants and two seafood markets. By the time we got to the Visitor’s Center, it was sprinkling rain. The nice young lady told us all about the park and where to go look for moose. Fishing was closed for the season. The campground was full and not as private as Kouchibouguac, but it is OK. We were lucky to get settled before the rains came harder.
After lunch we went to the Visitor’s Center for WIFI. Finally I could connect to the WIFI and catch up on posting. I spent some time categorizing the posts, a tedious job, but I got a lot done before getting bored. Rt 114 runs right through the park. We drove north, stopping at a beautiful overlook. Nova Scotia loomed in the fog. We drove on to Caribou Trail to look for moose. A beautiful place for moose, we took a couple of pictures, but it was windy and raining, the worst kind of cold, so we drove and explored for a while, finding a great lake to kayak when the weather gets better. No moose were spotted. Maybe on a warmer evening, we could dress better and wait.
During cocktail hour, we read the park brochure, and it’s a good one. It does the normal descriptions of trails and things to do in the park, but also has a map of Alma, listing all the stores and places of interest. Then there is a page in the back describing places to see along the southern coast of the Lighthouse Route.
We ate the last of the lobster Newburg over toast and a sweet potato with lobster sauce. Yum!
42℉ at 5:00 and 75 at 3:00
Saturday, October 8, 2016
Kayaking the Black River was the goal of the day. Since we just have one kayak, I went first to test the waters while Martha hiked the Claire Fontaine Trail. They haven’t had much rain, so the river was low. The tide was out, adding to the problem, but I enjoyed exploring for a little over an hour. I found a lot of ducks and some shore birds. Then the wind kicked up and I returned to the put-in spot. Shortly Martha returned from her hike, saying how much she enjoyed it. She opted to sit and read her book while I took the hike. Although the river is pretty, the leaves took center stage. We had our lunch at a picnic table in the sun, enjoying the view.
Driving back, we stopped at Callanders Beach, which is on the sound. By now, the tide was in pretty good. It’s a couple of hundred yards to the beach, so I tried walking across. Martha said she would wait. Once up to my knees at about 75 yards, I chickened out. Surely it would be fun in the summer. This is a gorgeous place, rich in fish, clams, lobsters, deer and moose. Like the Shenandoah National Park, they made a lot of people mad when they took their homes and farms, but it saved a beautiful place for generations.
Martha made Lobster Newburg with the extra lobsters. It was wonderful!
44℉ at 5:00 with a high of 77℉
Friday, October 7, 2016
It’s Thanksgiving weekend in Canada, so everyone is out, and the campground is quickly filling up. The weather forecast is great, except Sunday it is supposed to rain. We needed a few things from the grocery, so we drove to Saint-Louis (not THAT St. Louis!). As we crossed the river into town, a huge Acadian flag greeted us, waving in the light breeze. It is a French flag with a star on it. Martha had read about an outdoor store, so we stopped in. Obviously a busy place, they were well-stocked for fall, winter and hunting season with coats, gloves, boots, ski pants and shirts. Martha found a mid-weight coat she liked.
There is a south end of the park here, so we asked how to get there. Following the road in front of the store, we arrived at a dock with fishing boats, a little sandwich shop and sheds where boats could store their gear. Martha read a park sign and thats all there was. There were no trails, just the docks. Martha said, “Let’s see if we can buy some lobsters”, so I followed her. Several crusty locals were talking on the dock, and she walked right up to them, her purse slung over her shoulder. They were quite happy to tell us how it all worked, and yes, you just wait for a boat to come in and go ask. A huge tractor trailer was pulling a boat of the water for the season. One gentleman was particularly friendly, talking about how warm it had been, and how it had been a good season for lobsters. Martha asked how you cook them, and they gave their directions. A younger man, looking more worldly came out of a building. His English was excellent. He had been an underwater welder, working in the middle east for a while and living in Vancouver for a long time. He had a girlfriend in the Bahamas, but had move back here to look after his sick father, and was working here as a boat mechanic.
They pointed out a boat that had somehow slipped by us while we were talking, so we thanked them and went over to talk to the captain. One fellow pulled out his plastic bag to put lobsters in. I ran up to the truck to find something while Martha asked all about lobsters, how to cook them, whether you want girl or boy lobsters and what size is best. Only a little grey-haired lady could get away with asking all these things, but they were very friendly and answered all the questions and talked about other issues as well. A young man working the boat grew up right here next to the docks. Another gentleman lived nearby. When the government started the park, they gave the young man’s grandmother $1000 for her house. The older man said he had 35 acres on the other side of the river and they gave him $400 for it. There was no negotiating. Then the older guy got onto US politics. Everyone here is fascinated with the election. They watch the debates, and they all think Trump is crazy. I don’t talk politics, so I tried to redirect to Canada’s new president. They seem to like him, saying the previous administration did nothing. We bought four “market” lobsters at $6.75/lb. The others bought “canners”, smaller lobsters they said tasted better. We bought females, as they suggested eating the eggs.
As we drove back to the grocery store for some other things we needed, we debated about when and how to cook the lobsters. We settled on cooking them for lunch, so we started a fire, got out the kettle and other things. While Martha tended the fire, I went to the beach to get sea water, one of the suggestions. We decided to cook two and eat them while the other two cooked. Then we would pick the second ones and later make a lobster Newburg. It was a great feast! It was also a big mess, but we were glad to have newspapers and a picnic table to eat on, with trash cans nearby.
After resting our tummies for a while, we rode the bikes upriver for an hour. There are extensive bike paths, which are fine gravel roads – very smooth with no ruts. Signs marked directions for marathon runners, who will race here Sunday. I couldn’t understand the signs, but since Martha has run a few half marathons, she translated for me. Some signs were for half marathoners, some for 10K, and they directed them into different turns and told them how far they had run. It is a beautiful place for a marathon, especially with the leaves in full color. We passed some kids picking apples off a tree with sticks. We commented about how the bears would come by here tonight. I counted 12 bear poops in the trail along our journey.
Tomorrow we will try kayaking one or two of the rivers. One more kayak would be nice. It was interesting to sit out in camp and watch the campers rolling in – big campers! Kids were having a big time riding their bikes around, while others chased on foot. One trailer across from us had some kind of light show after dark while little kids ran around chasing lights, screaming with joy. Some had set out carved pumpkins and balloons. Thankfully, things quieted down at bedtime. I’m sure they slept well.
Driving Rt 11 south for an hour, we switched to 117 that goes along the coast of New Brunswick. It’s a rough, bouncy road that only gives you views of the water every now and then. Finally the road enters Kouchibouguac National Park and becomes nicely paved. Moose warning signs were all along the route. By the time we arrived at the Visitors Center, we were tired and hungry. It was a perfect day, sunny and warm, so we made sandwiches and had lunch at a picnic table. The leaves are in full color now. Ladies at a table near us were wearing tank tops and shorts.
We found our campsite, got settled and took the bikes out for a ride along the coast. The park is on the east coast of New Brunswick and is known for its beach and great bike trails. We passed two bear poops on the bike path. Arriving at a bridge and boardwalk across a bay to the beach, we parked the bikes and walked across. Several Blue Herons were dining while seagulls sat content. This looks like a pristine, undeveloped Outer Banks of North Carolina with a barrier islands protecting a bay, but there are also two major rivers entering the bay adding fresh water to the mix. There are lots of marshes, some having boardwalks to explore. It doesn’t look like a big park on the map, but it would take a long time to really explore it. We walked on the beach and in the water. It was cold, but you got used to it. Were it a little warmer I might have gone in. We passed a couple and the lady had been swimming. She works as a lifeguard, so it was required training. She said it is warmer than the water in June. Unlike the Outer Banks of North Carolina, this water is very clear.
Back at camp, we built a fire and cooked breaded Cod chunks, potatoes and peas over the fire. With a good forecast we are excited about exploring the park tomorrow, maybe some kayaking along with more bike exploring.
40℉ at 7:00 with a high of 72℉
We are camped at a lovely campground facing Chaleur Bay at Camping Caraquet in the cute town of Caraquet. We drove to the tip of Acadia Isles that define the southern tip of Chaleur Bay. As we crossed a bridge, lots of cars were pulled over and people were out looking at something, so we followed suit. A group of dolphins have been stranded in the bay for several days. There is a plan to lead them out today with sonar. People were feeding them from the bridge.
Stopping at a park, we learned all about peat bogs with their beautiful fall colors. Signs told us about all the berries in this type of growth – Huckleberries raisin berries, and others I can’t remember. Suddenly, looking at the bushes took on another meaning and we saw all the berries. Like blueberry fields, you could walk through there picking a whole bunch of berries if you knew what you were doing. Hard to come by, they would be made into jams and chutneys for special occasions. I have always heard of huckleberry pies, but have never seen one.
We drove to the end to see the lighthouse and a bunch of inukshuks on the beach. We saw incredibly beautiful marshes, but not many ducks. It was hot! By the time we stopped for lunch, we were in shirtsleeves. At a diner overlooking the fishing boats in Caraquet, Martha had trout, veggies and fries while I had Cod, veggies and a salad. She won! The Cod was good, but the trout was great.
There is a great bike trail that goes for 43K that goes through town all the way out to the lighthouse. Not wanting to take the bikes off for a short trip, we walked it for an hour before heading back to camp. It was a great evening to sit out, but mosquitoes soon drove us inside. We were lucky to have reserved a campsite in Kouchibouguac National Park for three nights as it was the last one available on the last weekend they are open.
We got off late as I was talking to the campground owner, a very nice guy. Like many others, they work the campground all season and then go to Daytona. He likes car racing. He has a ’77 Argosy Airstream he uses for hunting, but he said he wouldn’t hesitate to drive it across Canada. He just bought the camper next to us for $4,500, saying the quality isn’t so good, but he rents it out and will have paid for it by the end of next season.
We stopped in a few scenic places before crossing into New Brunswick. At a Visitor’s Center, we picked up more brochures and talked for a while with the agent. She said, yes, things will be closing down by the end of the weekend, but you can park in K-Marts and church parking lots. On her suggestion we had lunch in Sugarbush Provincial Park. It was warm and beautiful with the leaves in full color, and children feeding the ducks.
Then we got on Rt. 11 and drove hard until 5:30, arriving at a big campground in Caraquet. It was Fermé. Martha called another and a nice lady said to just pick a site and she would see us at 9:00 in the morning. It turned out to be a beautiful campground right on the water. We chose our site and showered. With a beer and glass of wine, we watched the sun set before Martha made a great soup of the mussels and left over trout. We had bought a small fish lasagne from the Poissonerie, which was wonderful.
Martha checked out Kouchibouguac National Park, about four hours away. They close next week. We are at the southern tip of Chaleur Bay now, and want to explore the Acadian Isles while we are here. It’s too bad things are beginning to close. We have been so lucky with the weather, and the forecast for this week is fantastic.
Chaleur Bay is ranked in the top 10 most beautiful bays in the world. Driving the north side of it, I wasn’t so impressed, but today driving the south side of it, I agree. With more farms and little houses sitting on a cliff overlooking the bay with blue waters sparkling in the sun, it was a pleasure to drive.