We had hurried through New Brunswick on our way to PEI. Now it was time to take a more leisurely pass. Nearly 330 miles towing took us from Baddeck, Nova Scotia to Fundy National Park, New Brunswick. We hadn't towed this far in one day since we went from Mission to Kerrville, Texas in October 2012. Once in the park, getting to our site involved carefully threading around trees a bit close to the road for our comfort. A couple from New Hampshire, already seated outside next to their motor coach enjoying cocktails and the entertainment of arriving RVers, politely applauded as we finally parked, unscathed, on our site. Clearly, we would have to meet these folks.
|Ruth, Carol, and Peter|
|Overlooking Alma (note RV's on the far ridge)|
|view from above and then from walking on the bottom|
|platform to be used in the event one didn't make it back to the steps|
Back safely on higher ground, we hiked a few of the trails along the cliff edges where we found flocks of migrating song birds and a begging Peregrine youngster. We had heard that a pair of Peregrines had successfully brought off one young this year. Now we had proof positive.
After our hikes, plus a saunter through of the interpretive center displays and a quick picnic lunch, we drove to the nearby town of Hillsborough for fuel. Now, without a trailer in tow, we were free to explore a bit more of the Fundy Scenic Tour. Next stop: Mary’s Point Reserve. On the way to Mary's Point we passed the "Ha Ha Cemetery" which at first blush appeared to be a joke - but it was for real.
|there was also the nearby Ha Ha Creek|
|shorebird activity at Mary's Point|
|Barn Marsh and Cape Enrage|
Unfortunately, the wind was depressingly strong as we ventured out to the lighthouse. One could also walk down several flights of steel stairs (not unlike the stairs at Hopewell Rocks) to the ocean floor to look for fossils contained in layers of sedimentary rock approximately 320 million years old. Unfortunately the tide, while it was receding, still had not left enough beach exposed to safely explore.
The property apparently was being updated with the addition of a zip line tower to attract customers. Too bad the wires detracted from the view. Perhaps if they buried the zip line cables as they do power lines to help with the view? No, probably not. Overall, Cape Enrage seemed a bit too commercial for our tastes but the restaurant looked very inviting as did the menu. Skip the lighthouse and just go for the food.
By now, in addition to the high wind, clouds had set in by the time we returned to our RV. Checking the weather channel (our site had very good wifi) it looked a bit iffy for the next day when we had planned to explore the Fundy National Park proper. Well, if the weather really did turn sour, we wouldn’t be too far away from the RV.
|covered bridge, view from bridge, and Wolf Point at low tide|
|road to, steps down to, and standing at Herring Cove|
|hike to Dickson Falls|
It turned out that Alisa and Angela were seasonal campers and their family RV’s were parked at a seasonal campground on that ridge overlooking Alma (the same campground we saw from the overlook in our park). Sensing we were not serial killers, they cordially invited us to stop by for a beer later that afternoon. "Stop by around 5:00", and "look for the Montana fifth wheel." Did we mention that Canadians are very friendly?
Dickson Falls turned out to be a lovely hike through a heavily wooded valley that traced Dickson Brook to a dramatic waterfall. This would have been even more spectacular with fall color. If your time is short in Fundy National Park, don’t miss Dickson Falls.
Back at the RV we caught up on a few domestic chores and around 5:00 p.m. we headed to Alma to capture a few pictures of the boats in the harbor at high tide. Oh, yes, and that offer of beer.
|Alma high tide and low tide - every twelve hours|
|Alisa and Angela were kind enough to take our photo|
|the 'man shed' - Danny, Alisa, Maddie, and Angela|
|Maddie and her dad, Al|
|Maddie and her parents, Angela and Al|
|Angela, Alisa and their new sister, Carol|
|Danny and wonder dog Buddy|
|Al, Danny, Buddy, Alisa, Angela|
Looking ahead we had another goal in mind: We had learned that on Grand Manan Island there was the “Whales and Sails’ whale watching sailboat that sailed with a marine biologist aboard. She was not only well versed in sea life but was very good with IDing seabirds. We’re great with land birds but seabirds? Not so much.Through a series of emails with Allen, the company’s owner, we had determined that there was a very good chance at not only seeing whales but picking up a few life birds as well. We could do a walk-on onto the one and a half hour ferry ride from Blacks Harbor to Grand Manan, followed by a short walk to where the sailboat was moored. The problem was that the next available trip wasn’t until Tuesday. It was now Saturday and tomorrow (Sunday) and we were supposed to leave Fundy NP. Determined to fit in a pelagic trip, we extended our stay at FNP by one more night.
|hiking Caribou Plain|
On the drive back to our RV we took Hastings Road, a gravel road that would hook up with Point Wolf Road. To our good fortune, hunkered down along the roadside we found a Spruce Grouse. Yay! A life bird!
Rain pretty much held us in check for the rest of the day although we did venture out for that pizza at The Saprano’s Pizza. Yum!
|New River Provincial Park|
Allen at Whales and Sails had suggested that we call after 7:00 a.m. for the latest news about weather which would be the determining factor as to the taking place. While it appeared mostly sunny at our location, Allen stated that due to high winds off Grand Manan, the trip was cancelled. Drat. First the disappointment in Portland and now this.
|Grand Manan ferry; Carol and Cari bundled up for the ride|
|Grand Manan Island Swallowtail Lighthouse and view from same|
Perched on the upper deck, we spent the next hour and a half, along with Cari and another young woman, scouring the ocean for whales and birds. No whales and just few birds as the ferry headed directly into a very strong wind. We could well understand Allen not wanting to risk an outing today.
We pulled into port, disembarked, and walked to the Whales and Sails kiosk at the harbor in the very off chance that the trip might still go. But, with such high winds we pretty much knew the answer would be “still cancelled”. And it was. However, Karen, the woman at the kiosk (and Allen's wife), gave us a ride up to the Swallowtail Lighthouse where their daughter, Sara, was in charge of a lighthouse restoration project. It turned out that Sara also captained the sailboat when it was out for tours.
|the Whales and Sails sailboat|
|research station and museum|
Having exhausted all our options in town, we boarded the 3:30 ferry back to the mainland. This time, however, the ferry was going with the wind and our upper deck ocean watching was far more comfortable. And productive. Both Sooty and Greater Shearwaters, Atlantic Puffin, Common Murre, and Black Guillemot. Small flocks of phalaropes bobbed on the surface or flew past but were too far away to properly ID as Red-necked or Red Phalarope.
By the time we reached shore again, a light drizzle had begun. All in all, considering the weather, the trip out on a sailboat would not have been much fun (although we still fantasized about all the birds we might have added).
There was one more stop on our New Brunswick bucket list which we had decided to make: Campobello Island, the site of Roosevelt Campobello International Park, FDR’s summer retreat. It would require a bit of backtracking, but since this likely would be the only time we would be close enough, we decided to make the effort.
|outdoor artwork: St. Andrew-by-the-sea|
|site at Herring Cove Provincial Park|
Herring Cove Provincial Park proved to be wide open. Literally. Wide open spaces and very few RV’s which was fine with us. It was getting to be the tail end of the travel season for many, so while some parks and services are cut back, it tends to be a lot less crowded.
|the summer cottage|
We availed ourselves of a brief guided tour through the grounds followed by a tour of the “cottage”, a 34-room residence meticulously maintained and filled with mostly original furniture and memorabilia. And while the park bears the name of the 32nd U.S. President, his wife Eleanor's legacy constitutes a good deal of attention as well. So much so, that two daily “Tea with Eleanor” sittings are offered to visitors. It’s free, but seating is limited and on a first come, first serve basis. Knowing that’s it’s wildly popular we had arrived early enough to score a couple of tickets for the morning tea.
|Tea with Eleanor|
We had learned of a whale rescue organization, Campobello Whale Rescue, that offered whale watching/birding trips, Island Cruises Whale Watch. Hoping for yet one more try for a chance at seabird watching, we contacted the owner to reserve a space. However, once again, our luck ran counter to our hopes. This time it wasn’t the weather. Now, with the end of the tourist season near, they were down to running one trip per day. They needed a minimum of five participants and it turned out that we were the only two who had shown any interest that day.
|East Quoddy Lighthouse and access|
|Deer Island ferry landing - more like a beach head|
We arrived at the landing to await the ferry. But, all too quickly, a fog bank arrived well ahead of the ferry. Curses. No sense taking a ferry ride to stare into the fog no matter how inexpensive. But the woman’s second suggestion worked for us. We settled for an early dinner at the Family Fisheries Restaurant. More Haddock, killer chowder and supreme pies for desert. Oof.
For full time RVer’s the Maritimes are well worth the effort. In spite of more costly fuel and food prices, the Maritimes have so much more to offer. In fact we would have stayed longer were it not for our bucket list of stops in Maine and New Hampshire. We’ll be taking away loads and loads of memories as well as the new friends we’ve made. We’ll miss our friendly neighbors to the north...