Virtual Travel – Atlantic Provinces

Just because we are done with the States doesn’t mean we are done with the virtual travel. It’s off to Canada, where we will travel east to west, starting with the Atlantic Provinces.

With just over 2 million people in the size of California, it is sparsely populated, but full of adventure.

 

Newfoundland & Labrador

2016 09 05 18 Across Newfoundland

 

Newfoundland was the home of the first European landing in the Western Hemisphere when the Vikings arrived around the year 1000, 500 years before Columbus. Today it is paired with Labrador to make up the province.

Cape Spear is the easternmost point of North America. The cliffs overlooking the ocean were used as a fort during World War II, with many remnants still onsite.

There has been a lighthouse on this point since 1836, with this one dating from 1955.

 

 

St John’s is the largest city and capital of the province, with a metro population of around 200,000. It is situated on a naturally protected bay.

2016 09 05 87 St Johns NL Signal Hill

 

 

St John’s is known for brightly painted homes, known as Jellybean Houses. The legend is they were painted that way so fishermen could see them in the fog, but in reality it was a marketing campaign from the 1970s that lead to the expansion of the style.

2016 09 05 71 St Johns NL

 

 

The Quidi Vidi neighborhood is a traditional fishing village that has had some gentrification and is a popular tourist and party spot.

2016 09 05 74 St Johns NL

 

 

In my travels around the world I have been to a number of unusually named places, but this town, named for the long thin pin that goes through the hole on the side of a row boat to hold the oar on, attracts the most attention.

Jimmy Kimmel has featured this town on his show, and has paid for a ‘Hollywood’ type ‘Dildo’ sign to be erected on a hillside.

 

 

Gander is a small Newfoundland town that for many years was the stopping off point for international flights between Europe and the United States. By the 1960s the airplanes had sufficient range to make the trip non stop, and Gander Airport was largely abandoned.

The unused international arrival hall is a time warp to 1960, in pristine condition.

On 9-11 all the flights were grounded, with 38 large aircraft unexpectedly arriving, leaving 6,000 passengers and crew stranded in a town of 10,000. The response of the townspeople was amazing, and remains a legend to this day. They housed and fed all those unexpected visitors for a couple of days until they were able to travel to their destinations.

2016 09 06 27 Gander NL

 

 

Gros Morne National Park is where the Appalachian Mountains reach the Atlantic Ocean. It is a spectacular place with widely diverse landscapes.

2016 09 07 60 Gros Morne National Park NL

 

 

The town of Port Aux Basques is one of the two ferry terminals to the mainland in Newfoundland.

The town has always been a gateway to the province. It was also the destination for the first Trans-Atlantic cable.

 

2016 09 07 124 Port Aux Basques NL

 

 

The ferries are some of the largest in North America, with one having a capacity of 600 automobiles, although most trips have a significant number of semis.

It is a floating parking garage.

2016 09 04 53 Ferry to Newfoundland

 

 

 

 

Nova Scotia

Latin for New Scotland, Nova Scotia has an extensive Atlantic coastline.

 

2016 09 04 6 Drive Through Nova Scotia

 

 

The Nova Scotia countryside is scenic, with many lakes and hills.

 

 

The town of Truro had streets limed with elm trees, but they were killed in the Dutch Elm disease that impacted much of the eastern continent.

Truro has turned 43 of those trees into sculptures.

2016 09 08 4 Truro NS

 

 

Halifax is Nova Scotia’s largest city. It is the largest city in the Atlantic Provinces.

It was settled in the mid 1700s.  (photos from Wikipedia)

Clockwise from top: Downtown Halifax skyline, Crystal Crescent Beach, Central Library, Sullivan's Pond, Peggy's Cove, Macdonald Bridge

 

 

 

 

New Brunswick

New Brunswick borders Maine for hundreds of miles, sharing a similar culture.

 

 

2016 09 03 17

 

 

 

Saint John is one of the 3 larger towns in the province, although none are very large.

Carleton Martello Tower National Historic Site offer a nice overview of the city.

 

 

The Fundy Coast is very scenic, looking more like the Pacific Coast than the Atlantic.

2016 09 03 52 Fundy Trail NB

 

 

The Bay of Fundy has some of the highest tides in the world, going up and down more than 40′ most days. Low tide allows you to walk around on the sea floor, before making the quick trip back up the stairs before it comes back in .

The tides also leave some rivers dry for periods of each day. In Moncton this tidall bore results in a wave twice a day large enough for surfers to ride it for miles.

2016 09 03 98 Hopewell Rocks NB

 

 

Fredericton is the Provincial Capital.

2016 09 08 39 Fredricton NB

At almost 1300′ long, the Hartland Covered Bridge is the longest in the world. Driving through it feels like you are in a wooden tunnel.

2016 09 09 4 Hartland NB

The Grand Falls is a 75′ drop on the Saint John River in the town of Grand Falls. The day we were there most of the water was shut off.

2016 09 09 14 Grand Falls NB

 

 

 

 

Prince Edward Island

The smallest province by area and population (the 3 Canadian ‘territories’ have lower populations), PEI was for many years separated from the mainland, reached only by a ferry.

That all changed in 1997 when the 8 mile long Confederation Bridge was completed.

The island’s largest industry is tourism.

 

(photos from CNN.com)

Confederation Bridge | The Canadian Encyclopedia

19. PEI confederation bridge.

 

15. PEI Cavendish beach

5. PEI Thunder Cove

 

 

 

Tomorrow – Quebec!

 

 

 

 

 

Nova Scotia & New Brunswick – Late Summer 2016 Road Trip – Day 13

With most road trips we know we will catch a day a bit less interesting than the rest, this was that day for this trip. While we managed to sleep through the slightly rocky crossing to Nova Scotia, we drove out of the ferry at 7 a.m. into a bright sunny warm day in North Sydney, and after a quick breakfast were on our way.

2016 09 08 2 North Sydney Ferry Terminal.jpg

Afterwards we started our long drive of almost four hundred miles to Fredericton, the capital of New Brunswick. Our route would take back along much of the route we had come so we tried to make as good a time as possible, stopping every once in a while to stretch the legs.

Clearly Nova Scotia is blueberry capital of Canada, as we saw numerous signs along the road for fresh blueberries for sale. The blueberries grow wild in the area; we would often see parked cars with dozens of people along the road busy picking buckets of berries.

Eventually we made our way to Truro, Nova Scotia. The town has transformed dead trees into works of art with many notable figures from the town’s past are featured in forty-six tree sculptures which were carved in tree trunks after Truro lost most of its elm trees to Dutch elm disease in the 1990s.

Unfortunately only nine sculptured trees remain, but we cruised town to find them, photographing the tan painted wooden carvings of a lumberjack, colonial woman, and three others.

2016 09 08 4 Truro NS.jpg

Nova Scotia Highway 102 leave Truro to the southwest, running near the Bay of Fundy, where we once again had a number of opportunities  to see the low tide expose the ocean floor. There was a large area of mud that stretched along the edge of the Bay and inward so that the bay resembled more of a river rather than a bay.

2016 09 08 19 Bay of Fundy NS.jpg

A river that led into the Bay of Fundy was also drained with the low tide from the look of the wet mud. The empty river dropped almost twenty feet leaving only a small stream flowing through its center low point. Twice each day, 160 billion tons of seawater flow in and out of the Bay of Fundy — more than the combined flow of the world’s freshwater rivers!  The Bay’s tides officially measure over 50 feet in height, but the incoming tide is not a 50′ wall of water. It takes 6 hours for the tides to change from low tide to high tide. That means it takes more than an hour for the tide to rise 10′ vertically. In some places, it can change the direction of a river or create tidal bore that flows against the current.

2016 09 08 25 Bay of Fundy NS.jpg

As we drove away from the Bay of Fundy and onto the freeway, we heard Tab Benoit sing Muddy Bottom Blues. This is the third coincidence where songs related to our vacation spot. I suppose it was serendipity because there was no way to plan it so exactly.

Other than a brief stop in Amherst, Nova Scotia for lunch at Connors Family Restaurant, we drove. At least lunch was good.

Eventually we arrived in Fredricton, New Brunswick where we spent the night at a large Delta Hotel. Next to the hotel was the Chinese Canadian restaurant where we ate dinner, where the buffet seemed to be the popular choice so we dined on shrimp cocktail, moo goo gai pan, potato salad, rice, pork riblets and more. The food was ok and there was a lot of it; so we ate our share then left to explore the city.

2016 09 08 38 Fredricton NB.jpg

We found the Provincial Legislative Assembly Building, the seat of government in New Brunswick since 1882, when it replaced the old Provincial Hall destroyed by fire in 1880. Continuing, we passed the governors house and walked into a concert at the park for incoming freshman at the University of New Brunswick.  After driving through the city and walking the streets we went back to the hotel for the evening.

New Brunswick – Late Summer 2016 Road Trip – Day 8

Another early start, on the road by 6 a.m., and we were off to the northeast. After entering our first destination into the GPS I found that it had me turn off U.S. 1, which turned out to not only be the quickest route (bypassing one of the numerous wanderings of U.S. 1 along the coast), but it took us up and down some fairly large hills, across bogs, and through a couple of small towns resulting in a really fun 30 mile segment, not to mention really waking you up as I was really pushing the Audi on the smooth curvy road.

2016 09 03 1 Bar Harbor ME.jpg

After stopping in Machias, Maine for a quick McDonalds breakfast (have you ever noticed that in the morning every McDonalds in the world has what seems to be the same 4 or 5 old men in them solving all of the world’s problems – a great reality TV show would be to go around and pull them from really random places and have them argue it out on live TV – but I digress).

Another hour down the road and we arrived at West Quoddy Park, the easternmost point in the USA not counting the Aleutian Islands that cross the International Date Line. As we drove into West Quoddy Park the Travelling Wilburys sang “At the End of the Line” It was perfectly timed as we rolled into the drive of the park and reached the end of the road.

2016 09 03 10 Wes Quoddy Lighthouse ME.jpg

The park has a lighthouse and cottage set at the bottom of a hill; below the lighthouse cliff were boulders exposed because of low tide. The water shimmered from the sun as a fishing boat chugged through the large isles of rock with only a small fence separated the hill where we stood and the craggy shore but we could see stretches of land across the water.

2016 09 03 14 Wes Quoddy Lighthouse ME.jpg

After heading north a bit we reached the edge of Calais, Maine, where we were to cross into New Brunswick. After a brief stop at the border crossing where we were asked a few questions and had to show our passports, we were on our way onto a recently built freeway. Just ahead we rolled into the visitor center to get a map, where the very helpful visitor center workers recommended we make a brief stop to view the waterfalls in the town of St George, only 20 miles ahead (or as they said about 30 kilometers).

2016 09 03 20 St Geroge NB.jpg

Continuing on we arrived in St. John, New Brunswick, to see the Mortello Towers, small defensive fort that was built as a coastal fort. The tower stands up to 40 feet high with two floors and typically had a garrison of one officer. Their round structure and thick walls of solid masonry made them resistant to cannon fire, while their height made them an ideal platform for a single heavy artillery piece, mounted on the flat roof to fire in a complete 360° circle. The Mortello Tower, was used in the War of 1812. We were not able to enter the tower because of renovation but stood at the base of the tower looking out to the sea.

2016 09 03 29 St Johns NB.jpg

St John is the largest city in New Brunswick with a metro population of a little over 100,000 people, as a result they have a decent downtown where we found the City Market, the oldest continuous farmer’s market in Canada, for our lunch. We ordered a shrimp platter and fish and chips from an open shop vendor. While eating our lunch, we noticed that all the signs were in English and French. Even my can of root beer was labeled in both languages, root beer on one side and racinette on the other side of the can. There were bilingual signs for street posts, and car license plates too; New/Noveau Brunswick.

2016 09 03 37 St Johns NB.jpg

All of the southern New Brunswick borders the Bay of Fundy, on the places that was very high on my list to visit. As we left St John we found the Fundy Trail, a park featuring a road hugging the coast with stunning views in every direction that includes over 20 spectacular lookouts, a waterfall, and 600 million-year-old rock formations. We stopped at one of the vistas looking out into the New Brunswick coastline, sparkling water and a view of Nova Scotia in the distance.

2016 09 03 52 Fundy Trail NB.jpg

We followed the Fundy Trail as far as the Salmon River where we walked across the suspension bridge. The bridge had a ten person limit and bounced a lot as we walked on it but the bridge is only 25 feet off the ground so it was not a fearless act. Our journey took us pass the Sea Caves at St. Martins, New Brunswick but it was high tide and the caves were only accessible by kayak now and not accessible to walk to the caves.

2016 09 03 59 Fundy Trail NB.jpg

Leaving the Fundy Trail as the road across the coast is not completed, we traveled from St. Martins along Route 111 to Route 114 down through Fundy National Park where the coastal road continued until we reached Hopewell Rocks in Chignecto Bay, an extension of the Bay of Fundy. This area is noted as the highest tide in the world at an average of 39 feet high.

2016 09 03 77 Hopewell Rocks NB.jpg

The narrow bay funnels water out and the ocean floor is exposed three hours before and after low tide. We took the trail to an overlook and saw the towers of clay rocks covered with seaweed. Once we made our way down to the ocean floor we walked over seaweed, mud and rocks to see the sun shine down and through hallowed towers and crevices. In addition you could see bull eyes targets on the rocks thirty feet up or so, assuming those were probably placed there by kayakers at high tide. The park closed at 7 p.m. Atlantic Time so we left to climb the multilevel stairs and take the trail back to the car. We changed our muddy shoes and headed to Moncton, New Brunswick for the night.

2016 09 03 91 Hopewell Rocks NB.jpg

After our check-in at the Chateau Moncton, we walked to Woody’s BBQ North of the Mason-Dixon Line. Woody’s is a chain restaurant that started in Florida with a few restaurants in Canada. Our meals were meh, not good.

The Chateau Moncton hotel sits along the Petitcodiac River that connects to the Bay of Fundy which draws out water at low tide and then rushes in so forcefully at high tide (called the tidal bore) that surfers ride the waves on the river. We had hopes of seeing high tide roar into the city but high tide is set near midnight and it is too dark to see the river.