To New Brunswick: the land of high tides!

Part Deux! We head towards the more bi-lingual part of the Maritimes, New Brunswick. 

On Monday afternoon the Nook And Cranny restaurant in Truro Nova Scotia found Tara-Lee and I eating corn chowder, drinking tea, and pouring over maps and guide books: semi-planning our next few days, booking kayak adventures and ferry rides, and definitely looking like tourists. 
Our next stop was the Loch Lommond campground just before the New Brunswick border, and with the assurance that we didn’t need to reserve a spot, we didn’t rush out of Truro until spending some time at another Tim Hortons with tea and wifi, and found ourselves driving again at night through the Maritimes, something we had agreed we wouldn’t try to do, after numerous warnings (from a dozen people) of the plentiful number of moose. No one warned us about the fog. Oh, the fog.

Between some night road construction and the thickest fog I have ever witnessed, the hour drive to our campground turned into almost 2. We arrived after the front gate was closed and had to be buzzed in. It was 10:45pm and we were prepared to be lectured about the late hour and ready to beg for forgiveness when we were greeted by the nicest lady at the main office/house who checked us in and seemed to be as much of a night owl as we are, thank goodness. 

Can we just stop for a moment to appreciate nice campgrounds? They are in abundance here! This campground had the nicest washrooms and showers (and laundry!) I have ever seen! Complete with good tunes playing on the radio

Okay, so the Aulac Tuck Stop. I was told adamantly how great this place is, and I think that by the time we got there for breakfast I was worried I had oversold it to Tara-Lee for the number of times I had mentioned it as a must-stop restaurant. 


It was excellent. Busy and bustling, we narrowly missed a tour bus that likely filled the restaurant with about 40 people. We got the breakfast plate and promised to come back another time for the chocolate cake with boiled icing or mile-high lemon meringue pie.

On to the Hopewell Rocks! We had a booking for a kayak tour with Baymount Outdoor Adventures at 12:30, to kayak around the rocks at high tide and a final height of 43 feet high!

Our cheerful guides Alan and Anna informed us that the Bay of Fundy at the Hopewell Rocks has two high tides and two low tides every 24 hours. (The highest High Tide recorded is 47 feet.) There is admission to the park with a full interpretive centre, restaurant, playground, and gift shop.

You wouldn’t believe it but the clouds were dark and thick when we arrived at the park and we were prepared with layers and rain jackets, only to be delightfully surprised with the clouds breaking and full, gorgeous, warm sun for our afternoon on the water. 

And we got sunburned…. Whoops!

Please note the tow-away zone sign we were all encouraged to park in front of.


We came back after the park was closed (which everyone working there will – curiously – happily encourage you to do) to walk the beach at low tide. It was stunning. (It reminded me of my trip to Mont Saint Michel in Normandy, France.)

We were told that the almost continuous rise and fall of water levels due to the great tidal changes of the Bay of Fundy, the silt and mud never settle, which is why the water has such a “chocolate milk” quality. (Many restaurants, motels and hotels use the “Chocolate River” term to put a sweeter spin on the look of their rivers and shorelines in the area.)

We agreed it is a much kinder nickname of the reddy-brown waters than the imagery of “Mud City”, aka Moncton, NB.

 
In Moncton we found ourselves driving towards a huge spired steeple of a church on the north side of the town, and found ourselves at this gorgeous, ancient-looking Catholic Church: The Lady Of Assumption Cathedral. 

Even though it looked well over a century old from the outside, the kind caretaker there informed us it was built in the 1930s. He gave us a full tour inside where we discovered that all the stain-glass windows along the sides of the sanctuary were of women from the Bible, which is unique in itself. 


The attention to detail in the church was amazing. From the tops of pillars having carvings of the main industries in Moncton at the time the church was built (carpentry, farming, fishing, and flying), to the modern mosaics on either side of the pulpit to full multiple-panel stack glass windows telling the story of the Acadians, even the stairs up at the front had the Latin words for the seven steps it takes to become a pope.

Our next campsite was further south along the coast at Ponderosa Pines Campground. 


We had tucked our tent into a small site surrounded by bushes, as we felt like the forecast was not optimistic between the expectations of rain and wind. It was a good plan as the wind was tearing through the area that night at it absolutely dumped rain straight through till morning. 


At this point we decided to book an Airbnb for our first night in Charlottetown: simply to dry off…
We drove back through Aulac, where we split a (gigantic!) slice of their chocolate cake with boiled icing, which is like a mix between marshmallow and gooey meringue. It was delicious. 
 

Next up: PEI! 

A trio’s busy weekend in Nova Scotia

So a few months ago, I was chatting with a friend from university. She asked if I wanted to join her for a road trip across the Maritimes in June. I hadn’t fully thought out my summer, and it seemed like a brilliant idea. Within a few hours Tara-Lee and I began the plans to spend three weeks visiting Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI, Cape Breton and Newfoundland!

“Week” one of the East Coast trip, begins with three jam packed days of travel.

and we're off!

The start: Halifax, Nova Scotia.
We arrived by the oh so wonderful Porter Air in the afternoon, and went to Avis where our silver Chevy Malibu was waiting for us. We made quick friends with our Airbnb host, Chris, originally from Poland, in his charming eclectic art-filled home.

A last minute addition to our weekend was a childhood friend of Tara-Lee, Tara. That’s right, folks: this weekend road trip trio (and likely inspires some sort of folk band name, likely), was Sara, Tara, and Tara-Lee. Tara flew in Friday evening, only a few hours after us.

Old Triangle
Once we were all together, we grabbed a bite to eat at The Old Triangle pub (fish and chips), and did some evening driving around the city, including up the hill to the top of Confederation Park with a night-time city-lights view of downtown Halifax.

The next morning we were invited for homemade lattes at Tara’s Airbnb spot and her lovely host Paul gave us insider tips for the start of our journey down to the south shore of Nova Scotia. We then headed right out of town (with a stop at Tim Hortons for our first Maritimes road trip breakfast).

Side note, I think there are more Tim Hortons here than anywhere I have ever been.

Tara-Lee
We started by making a slight detour to Prospect, a small hamlet, of quiet homes and docks and some beautiful first glimpses of the coast along Nova Scotia shores.
The shoreline had a delightful surprise of multicolored snail shells discarded and swept together, in a pebble rainbow of detailed colours.

Our next stop was of course Peggy’s Cove, and it did not disappoint. 


A windy, blustery, we were warned to avoid the ‘black rocks’ which were where the ocean waves frequented and therefore were slippery and possibly deadly if you lost your footing or a rogue wave came out of nowhere. The lighthouse itself is locked tight but people wander all over the massive shoreline of huge boulders that we could have easily spent hours sitting in or climbing around. 

But of course, we headed to our third stop of day 1: Lunenburg.


Lunenburg is a gem of a town, with the most charming, colourful houses we had seen so far. We stopped into the Distillery to check out their offerings, and from gin to rum to vodka, we all agreed the favourite spirit of the three of us was the rhubarb liqueur! 


All along the main road, and from our lunch spot “The Salt Shaker” (where we shared scallop linguini , a lobster roll, and salt cod fish cakes), we had an excellent view of the Harbour. Apparently every Wednesday night there are sailboat races! The best view of the city is across the water at the golf course, but photos don’t do it justice.

After that it was on to our campsite to set up before we headed to Shelburne for the lobster festival we had found out about online. With four jam-packed days of events this weekend, we decided to prioritize and only attempt to make it to the “Kitchen Party” concert that night.

Our campground was at Thomas Raddall Provincial Park. I only briefly checked out the beach nearby in the morning before we took off for our busy day two, and looking back on the weekend, it was the sandiest shore we came across and with the most beautiful weather. A solid reminder of the importance of taking a pause when you come across something you assume you will find again.

We arrived in Barrington later that evening; a small town just past Shelburne, where the ‘community centre’ kitchen party was to take place. We arrived at a hockey arena-sized building, and about twelve cars….. Not the best outlook. We went inside where the total of bar staff, security guards, and band members almost outweighed the attendees, and the band was like a basic wedding cover band, blaring almost deafening music we couldn’t dance to, and with no acoustic instruments in sight. We were expecting a pub type setting with guitar, maybe fiddle, even accordion or banjo, but alas, were disappointed. We will have to continue our search for a good kitchen party.


On sunday we did get to a community hall lobster roll and chowder lunch and homemade dessert with a local silent auction and games of washer toss outside. We enjoyed the view by the little Sandy Point lighthouse and went on our way.

We have had slightly rainy and mostly cloudy weather as we drive along the south and west shores of Nova Scotia, and even though the ocean is never more than a couple kilometres away from the highway we drive, there is a feeling of home as we drive through a mix of poplar and birch and fir trees, on winding roads that make us feel like any moment the fog will clear and we will see the peaks of the Rocky Mountains in front of us.

Smuggler’s Cove was a cool discovery along our route. Tough to walk this shoreline in flip flops!

We stayed near Digby to make sure we tried ‘world famous scallops’ straight from the source, and ended up at Ed’s Takeout, for fried scallops and clams that were absolutely mouth-watering delicious! It’s a funny little spot that is definitely a simple ‘dive’; definitely a busy place for good reason.

So far we have found that the people in the Maritimes seem to prefer their seafood deep fried or covered in cream of some sort… Not that we are complaining. 🙂 


We stopped into a couple of grand churches along the Acadian Trail, and spent a few moments inside. So massive. And peaceful.

Camping here has been great! My amazing cousin Toban lent us a tent and sleeping bags that completely saved me from my usual night-freeze I am so used to while camping. (And we have had some rainy nights already!)

We have found that all campgrounds so far have had showers, and often: laundry facilities, and even wifi. It’s amazing. I think we will be happy to camp more than we even anticipated!

One final day before heading back toward Halifax to drop off Tara at the airport, we were torn on where to stop, as Cape Split, Wolfville, and Truro were all on our list of places to go.


After seeing the Cape Forchu lighthouse the day before (and the comically large Adirondack chair upon which we climbed and snapped a photo), we went driving down the peninsula of Digby Neck with hopes of seeing a lighthouse, but discovered that it, along with hikes and whale watching adventures required a ferry ride to the islands across from it, and more time than we had.

Annapolis Royal offered their Historic Garden that we all agreed was worth every penny of the entrance fee, and offered a lovely walk through arbours and mazes and winding pathways through various styles and varieties of flowers, trees, and gardens.

Azalea bushes everywhere.


We could have easily spent another couple of hours here, whether taking another walk around the Acadian Dyke lands, or sitting in their cafe, or just enjoying the smell of the lilac bushes and rose shrubs. We were definitely there in the ‘spring’ of their season, as many beds were freshly planted and the rose gardens were only just starting to bloom.

This place will be absolutely breathtaking in July or August…

We decided to spend our last 90 minutes before the airport drive at Luckett’s Vineyard for wine and lunch, and it was dreamy.

There’s a phone booth in the middle of the vineyard that makes phone calls worldwide for free but we didn’t call anyone. We were content with the view of rolling hills, farms, vineyards, and the ocean as the clouds rolled by.


If we could pause time, this would have been one of those moments we would have.


After the most hilarious sight of Tara climbing on top of her suitcase to get in her new yoga mat, sleeping bag, and souvenirs, we bade farewell to her and headed towards New Brunswick for the next leg of our road trip. More to come!!