Posts tagged bay of fundy

Time for New Brunswick: Part II

Spending time with friends in St. Andrews by-the-Sea, catching low tide on Minister’s Island and camping beside the world’s longest covered bridge in Hartland, New Brunswick.

And so the journey back west commences. After getting off the very long and stressful ferry ride from Newfoundland to North Sydney, NS, we figured we would drive about halfway to St. Andrews, NB or at least call it quits whenever we burn out. We managed to “nap” briefly on the boat but an upright chair isn’t really the ideal place to get a good night’s rest. On top of barely sleeping, we arrived in port much later than we were originally set to because of the weather but were still feeling ambitious. My ambition ran out in Moncton but Justin had enough to drive us all the way to St. Andrews, where we were lucky enough to get to stay at a friend’s cabin for a few days.

Generic Van Life New Brunswick Part II St Andrews Deck
Beauty view from the deck of the cabin in St Andrews

The town of St. Andrews is considered to be a “historic resort town”, where east coasters and others have been vacationing for years. The buildings are old and beautifully maintained while all having lovely, unobstructed views of Passamaquoddy Bay within the Bay of Fundy and its crazy tide. The Algonquin Hotel in itself could probably be deemed its own resort town with its huge stately stature and triple-digit price tags. Being back on the mainland brought clear skies and much more comfortable temps so we were able to sit back on the patio and drink beers in the glow of the warm sun.

Generic Van Life New Brunswick Part II St Andrews Street
The pretty streets of St Andrews

After going to Hopewell Rocks and experiencing first hand just how drastic the Bay of Fundy’s tide change is, we weren’t surprised to hear about Minister’s Island. It’s an island that is only accessible during low tide when cars can drive across the ocean’s floor along a sandbar (or rock bar, more like) to reach it. In the late 1800s, the former president of the Canadian Pacific Railway bought the land and decided to make it his summer home island. Everyone’s got one of those, right? You can also walk down to the bathhouse, which was essentially a series of pools created during high tide where folks relaxed and got salty.

Generic Van Life New Brunswick Part II Ministers Island Bathhouse
The bathhouse on Ministers Island

We would have loved to go through Maine but sadly our US visitor visas are pretty well maxed out. That’s not to say that the drive through Canada wouldn’t be beautiful, but the allure of cheap gas and even cheaper beer is always quite tempting. After some much-needed Oceanside relaxing and catching up with friends, we were back on the road and heading toward the Québec border. We got word of a bad storm hitting Eastern Québec that night so we took the opportunity to get some work done at a café in Fredericton and check out the world’s longest covered bridge in Hartland. Although the title piqued our interest, this bridge wasn’t exactly something on our bucket list. That being said, it was actually pretty cool. It’s a single lane bridge that spans 391 m/1282 feet and kinda makes you feel like you’re in a secret tunnel. Maybe not what the architects intended in 1898 but who’s to say.

Generic Van Life New Brunswick Part II Hartland Bridge
Hoppin on that covered bridge

Westbound and down is the name of the game for the next while as we make one more stop in Toronto before heading to the west coast for the winter. We’ve had an incredible summer and have no plans of slowing down until we reach Vancouver Island.

Crazy Tides in New Brunswick

Walking on the sea floor at Hopewell Rocks while the Bay of Fundy’s tide rolled (more like sped) in and out in Alma, New Brunswick.

With Québec in the rearview mirror, we crossed into the Atlantic time zone and our first province of the Maritimes: New Brunswick. We were on a mission to get to the Bay of Fundy so only a brief pit stop was made in Edmunston to top up the gas and admire how lovely-ly the landscape was changing from central Canada. Things started to get really hilly and lush since we were still fairly inland from the coast. Driving through NB, you’ll notice two things: first, all the signs are completely bilingual. Personally, we think that all of Canada should be like that since it helps people from all over the country feel unified and you might even pick up a few things on your daily drives. To clarify, NB is the only officially bilingual province so they’re required to have all signage in English and French by law while other provinces aren’t required to do so. Anyway, the second thing we noticed is that there were a lot of road signs with claims about being the potato capital. Ok, those are some pretty great awards and titles to have but we all know that despite McCain‘s prominence in the potato world, PEI holds that crown. “Potato country”, “French fry capital” and “world famous potatoes” were all proclamations made on roadside signs that contributed to this potato propaganda. Although I’d need to see the official documentation to back these statements up to truly believe them, all the talk about potatoes and fries made us realize that we were going to feel right at home in New Brunswick.

Generic Van Life - New Brunswick Tides Alma Boats
A fish boat out of water in Alma, New Brunswick

After zooming through Fredericton and making an unsuccessful attempt at getting some Sussex Ginger Ale in Sussex, we settled into a forest road campsite just outside of Fundy National Park for the night. It was a beautifully treed area that had this mystical sort of haze floating around that made it look pretty magical. Our goal was to get to the Hopewell Rocks for low tide bright and early the following day so it was the perfect spot to get a good night’s sleep before having to wake up at the asscrack of dawn.

Generic Van Life - New Brunswick Tides Fundy Campsite
Our magical looking campsite outside of Fundy National Park

On the way to Hopewell, we went through Alma, which is a cool little seaside town where we got our first view of just how crazy the tide really is. Huge fishing boats were completely out of the water and you could walk out at least 100’ beyond them. Once we got to the park, we could see people exploring the exposed sea floor way out beyond the steps to go down. We climbed down and checked out all the seaweed and flowerpot rocks that make the place so famous. The flowerpot rocks are also really good indicators of how much the tide changes – at 9AM we were walking at their bases and by 1PM, they were starting to get submerged.

Generic Van Life - New Brunswick Tides Hopewell Rocks Low Tide
Low tide at Hopewell Rocks

We walked out about 1km/0.6mi and the sand started to turn into quicksand-like mud. I wanted to feel just how sticky it was so I crossed into some and almost lost a shoe. It’s clear that those areas are where the tide line usually hangs out since it’s so much wetter than the sand closer to the cliffs. I found it really interesting how little sea life there was other than seaweed but I suppose with a tide that aggressive, it would be hard for little creatures to survive. It’s very different than a lot of west coast beaches where you dodge crabs and mussels as you walk out.

Generic Van Life - New Brunswick Tides Hopewell Rocks Seafloor
Walking on the sea floor of the Bay of Fundy
Generic Van Life - New Brunswick Tides Muddy Shoes
The aftermath of the mud quite visible on my shoes

We stayed until an hour before high tide and the fluctuation was drastic. People were no longer allowed on the beach simply because there’s nowhere to walk; the beach completely disappears and gets filled in with water. Apparently a lot of ignorant people have gotten stuck from walking too far and not being able to find enough dry land to get back. The unique thing about the Bay of Fundy is that with the tide changing so quickly, it transforms the look of all the towns that it touches in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia alike. People can even rent kayaks at high tide to explore the rocks that they were just walking alongside on the formerly dry sand.

Generic Van Life - New Brunswick Tides Hopewell Rocks High Tide
One hour before high tide at Hopewell Rocks. Note the kayaks

I’m going to refrain from subjecting any of you to the fun/Fundy jokes and just say that we had a wicked time in New Brunswick and that the Hopewell Rocks…rocked! Ouch, sorry. After leaving the park, we booted through Moncton to head toward the Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island and hit up our first island in a while and take Clemie further and further east.