Monday, August 8, 2016

Moncton-Hopewell Rocks-Bay of Fundy


Wednesday (8/3):
Wednesday morning around 9:30 AM we pulled up to the Canadian border crossing at Calais ME. We didn’t know what questions we would be asked at the border (everyone we asked gave us a different answer but everyone said don’t bring any firearms) so we limited the fresh food we had on board along with the alcohol. We were asked several questions at the crossing:
  • Do you have any firearms?
  • How much alcohol do you have?
  • Do you have any food you are not going to consume during your visit?
  • Do you have any items you are planning to sell in Canada?
We gave the border guard the “proper” answers and were told to enjoy our travels in Canada. Later when we were in our campground we talked to a couple whose motorhome was searched from top to bottom at a different border crossing in Calais (there are three roads you can take to cross the border) which took about 1.5 hours. They had to put their slides out and open up all of the basement compartments. The issue was they are American citizens living in Costa Rica with a Florida driver’s license and Montana plates. So when asked where they are from, the husband went into a long explanation and it triggered the search.
This is our third visit to Canada (we got married in Vancouver in 2003) but it is first time we have driven into the country. The last two times we flew in.
When we crossed the border into Canada we noted that we have driven the motorhome 4,000 miles this year since January 1, 2016 when we were camped at Lake Georgetown. Once we had crossed the border we travelled north on NB Hwy 1. The first 100 miles or so of the highway was one of the nicest roads we have ever driven on. The weather was sunny with temperature in the low 80’s. We travelled about 200 miles from Calais to our campground, Ponderosa Pines Campground, located near the Hopewell Rocks on the Bay of Fundy. We pulled into the campground were assigned Site 136. This is the RV site in the park that is located closest to the Shepody Bay (we are still several hundred yards from the bay).
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We got set up at our site, took a walk down to the marsh land that borders the Bay of Fundy and then walked around the park. We have a flock of geese that feed in the marsh land and then float on the small body of water located next to the campground.
Thursday (8/4):
Beautiful morning after a short shower during the night. The Bay of Fundy is very brown due to all of the sediment in the water that never settle out due to the tides. The river that flows into the bay at Monckton is the Petitcodiac River but the locals call it the “Chocolate River” due to its color.  We drove south from the campground on Hwy 114 and then took Hwy 915 which is a loop closer to the bay. We stopped at Shipyard Park where there was a small lighthouse, an old wooden ship and information about the shipyard that was located there during the 19th century. The man who owned the shipyard built about 40 ships in the yard before going broke. The wooden ships were being replaced with steel ones and they didn’t make the switch.
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From there we travelled to Cape Enrage where another lighthouse (a larger one that is still functioning) is located. We stopped before the entry gate (you had to pay to walk down to the lighthouse) and took a few pictures.
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Then on the Fundy National Park where we drove to the Visitor Center and then around the east side of the park. There are numerous walking/hiking trails inside the park, a golf course and a campground located within the park.
We then stopped in Alma NB to eat lunch. Alma is a small fishing village with several restaurants and motels/bed & breakfast houses. We walked around town for a few minutes before stopping at the Tipsy Tails Bar & Grill. The wait staff all wear t-shirts that say they have “the best tails in town”.  We sat out on the porch overlooking the small harbor. Connie had the lobster roll while I had fish & chips. The weather was cool with a strong breeze so we wore our jackets most of the day.
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Friday (8/5):
We got up early Friday morning so we could make it to the Hopewell Rocks when it opens at 8 AM. New Brunswick time zone is an hour ahead of Easter Daylight Savings Time and our bodies are not used to getting up this early. The Hopewell Rocks are located about 1 mile from our campground, so it did not take long to get there.
We paid our entry fee and then proceeded to walk the 1.25 kilometer trail down to the steps that lead you onto the beach or what they call the ocean floor. The rock formations are know as the Flower Pots. They were given this name by Mr. Ripley (of Ripley’s Believe It or Not fame) in the 1930’s and the name stuck. Some of the individual formations have been given names due to their shapes: Mother-In-Law, Dinosaur, E.T. Rock, Lover’s Arch or Kissing Rock, Bear Rock, Apple Rock, Castle Cove, Elephant Rock (which collapsed earlier this year) – new one is forming, Jay Leno and Diamond Rock.
The first low tide today was at 8:51 AM and high tide was at 2:41 PM. The tides are on an approximate 25 hour schedule so they change about 50 minutes each day. The normal tide at the Hopewell Rocks is 32 feet from low to high but when there is a “super moon’ the tide can reach 46 feet. The highest tides in the world are located in the Bay of Fundy but they are on the Nova Scotia coast. We walked around the beach for about an hour before taking an interpretive tour that lasted about 1.5 hours. Nicole was our guide and did a good job of explaining the history of the rocks and what may happen in the future (with global warming and the oceans rising). The formations consist of dark sedimentary conglomerate and sandstone rock. The large volume of water flowing in to and out of the Bay of Fundy modifies the landscape surrounding it. After the retreat of the glaciers in the region following the last ice age, surface water filtering through cracks in the cliff has eroded and separated the formations from the rest of the cliff face. Meanwhile, advancing and retreating tides and the associated waves have eroded the base of the rocks at a faster rate than the tops, resulting in their unusual shapes. There is more water flowing through the Bay of Fundy each day than goes through the Niagara Falls in two years.
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We walked around for a while after the tour before heading up the trail to have lunch at the Hopewell Rocks Restaurant.
After eating lunch we visited the Interpretive Center, then walked back down the trail to see the beach at high tide. The entire beach is covered with water during high tide and the rangers make sure that everyone is off the beach before the water rises. They do have an “Emergency Platform” that is located on a section of the beach that is the first to be covered with water and cuts off anyone who has not gotten to area below the main stairs. The park knows of at least one gentleman who was taking pictures and did not listen to his wife (he wanted to stay and take more pictures) who was up on the platform for 5.5 hours (that how long it takes for the beach to clear when the tide goes out).
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Saturday (8/6):
We drove into Moncton today to do some shopping. We went by the farmer’s market that is held every Saturday in Moncton but found that most of the vendors had prepared food for sale rather than fresh vegetables. We ended up grocery shopping in an Atlantic Superstore which is one of the grocery chains here in New Brunswick. It was a nice large grocery store with a wide selection of products for sale. We returned back to campground and took it easy the rest of the day.
Sunday (8/7):
We travelled back into Moncton today (it is about a 35-40 minute drive from the campground along Route 114). We visited the Magnetic Hill Winery and did a free tasting of their wines. Most of their wines are made with different types of berries and we were not sure what to expect. We tasted 5 different wines and to our surprise we liked all of them. We ended up purchasing three bottles: Inspiration, Chocolate River Blueberry and Dutch Apple Pie. Not our usual wine purchases.
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Here is a why it’s called Magnetic Hill:
In the 19th century, a cart path was built from the city in the south onto the ridge. The path was subsequently expanded during the early 20th century and during the age of the automobile, it was noticed that at one point near the base of the ridge when driving south, motorists were required to accelerate in order to prevent rolling backward (i.e., what appears to be uphill). The novelty became known as “Magnetic Hill” and was more-or-less an amusing local attraction for residents and visitors to try.
Eventually with the rise in tourism after World War II, along with local highway construction which saw a “Mountain Road” bypass built further west from Magnetic Hill, the roughly 1 kilometer segment of gravel road became one of Moncton’s prime tourist attractions. Magnetic Hill is now designated as an historic property.[1]
To experience Magnetic Hill today, drivers must pay a fee to drive their cars to the end of the road (which has been preserved). When a car is placed in neutral, it will begin to roll backwards, apparently uphill. Observers will also note that water in the adjacent drainage ditches also seemingly runs “uphill.”
We stopped off at the liquor store which are all “agency stores” of the provincial government. Connie picked up a bottle of Canadian vodka, SnowFox, and a bottle of Canadian wine. “When In Rome”!
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From there we took a walking tour of downtown Moncton. We had downloaded the tour onto our tablet and were able to read about the history of the buildings in the downtown area. Moncton is not that old of a city for Canada and most of these buildings were built in the late 1900’s and early 20th century. Most of the wooden office & retail structures had burned over time and were replaced with the current brick & stone buildings.
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Moncton has experienced two booms in its history. The first boom was in the middle of the 19th century when it was a major wooden shipbuilding center. The second boom came in the first half of the 20th century when the city became the eastern headquarters for the Canadian railroad and was the location of a major engine & railcar repair/maintenance facility. These all closed in the 1980’s and the city has been trying to recover since. Moncton was the first official bilingual city in Canada (English & French) and has become home to a large number of call centers for Canadian businesses.
Moncton is also home to one of the world’s largest tidal bores. A tidal bore is a wave that causes the Petitcodiac River in the city to flow backwards when the tide comes in. The tidal wave also carries a large amount of sediment which causes the river to run “brown” thus the name: the Chocolate River.
We returned back to the campground where I grilled pork chops and we enjoyed a nice dinner.