New Brunswick

We booked a little B&B in a town called Alma, just outside of the Bay Of Fundy National Park. We had one night to spend in between Halifax and halfway up New Brunswick. While there are many parks in between those two towns, the Bay of Fundy really captures the imagination of us “Prairie People”. The largest tides in the world is really something worthwhile seeing. We had previously done the jet boat tour at the reversing falls (HIGHLY recommended!) in St. John, NB, but the kids didn’t really remember much about it. We stopped at the Park Office & Interpretive center. Sadly, the displays were about the most basic and pitiful that we’d seen in any park. This could normally be written off to budget cuts, or an apathetic staff & lack of guidance and interest from the Superintendent. Here though was different. Pitiful displays and explanations were coupled with the most thoroughly stocked and amazing gift store we had yet to encounter in a National Park Office. Complete with a uniformed staff member, we were left with little doubt of where the emphasis of staff resources were directed. The visitor services lady we spoke with as at least helpful and friendly in describing different areas on a map that we might be interested in visiting.

We picked a spot a little ways away that had a long inlet and would be pretty cool at low tide. After a brief walk through the trees from the parking lot, we were blown with a pretty strong and steady breeze coming up the inlet. There wasn’t any sand here, but we wandered around hunting interesting rocks and building rock bridges in the small stream of water running down towards the ocean still. It was pretty wild to look at the high water mark that covered everywhere we were walking. With tides of 10m at a 382 minute (6H22min) interval, the Bay of Fundy has the largest tide difference in the world. After a while of fooling around, we followed the small stream down to the open water. We were about 90 minutes past low tide, but still had to walk a ways down. When we finally got there things were changing fast; quietly lapping water was quickly climbing up the gently sloping beach to creep closer and closer to the high tide mark. We stood on a nice long gravel bar that was higher than the mud flats around it. As we watched the water creep up stealthily on both sides, Claudette and I were hypothesizing on how many minutes it would take to cut off a “dry” escape route for us. I guessed that within about fifteen minutes we’d have to retreat. Claudette studied the creep up the mud flats for an extra few seconds and guessed that it would be within ten minutes, or maybe even a little less. I stuck a 14cm tall stick in at the water line and watched it get quickly but quietly envelope within barely ninety seconds. After watching that, both Claudette and I revised our estimates to barely another three minutes! This proved to be accurate, and certainly much better than our initial, uninformed estimates. The kids and I then messed around by standing on a couple of big rocks while Claudette filmed the water surrounding us, and then she capture our last minute leaping to dry safety. Well, I should say “dry” for Alex and I only. Dryness seemed to just somehow elude Luke, as it does with most 10-12 year old boys (including me at that age I wholeheartedly admit) I’m sure. We had a pretty good time there retreating up the valley with the encroaching water several times for the camera before finding some awesome skipping rocks and throwing them on the way back to the car.

Five Summers ago we had flown out to New Brunswick for Claudette’s sisters wedding, (Monique & Greg). With a rented car we had a great opportunity to explore around the province as well as Prince Edward Island. Greg’s parents live in an incredible little spot near Blackville in the Mirimichi area. Our only purpose this this trip was to visit with Frank & Sylvia again for a couple of nights before continuing on West to Quebec City. They have a great place on a couple acres a little ways from the town of Blackville. Most importantly there is a little river (or large creek) running adjacent to their beautiful property

Bartholomew River can get up to 1-2 meters deep, but with little rain lately it was just covering our ankles and up to mid shin in some other spots. Perfect for a nice relaxing float on air mattresses downstream. Unfortunately we only had one (which Luke accidentally put a rip in that morning playing with it). So the kids and I drove off to Blackville to buy a couple of new ones to float down on. The fishing store, a boating store, the drugstore toy department, the grocery store an the hardware store staff all gave us a blank look when I inquired. The best answer I got was that the Home Hardware store at Mirimichi or Doakville would “probably” have them. The trouble with that was the fact that those two towns were almost thirty minutes in either direction from Blackville. That would be quite the waste of gas especially considering that I’d wasted some already traveling the ten minutes from the house to Blackville.

Instead, we drove back to the house and scrounged a couple of life jackets and a small (ten liter) jerry can to float down on. Claudette drove us up the river a little ways to a spot I’d found previously while hunting around on the gravel roads. It was a bit of a treacherous hillside in the dense bush from the road to the river’s edge, (especially for Luke’s bare feet!) but we managed. More intense, distracting, and indeed, OVERPOWERING were the bugs! After being away fromn the North for a year, I quickly came to the conclusion that we were absolute bug wimps! Missing was the nice toxin buildup in our systems that prevented the huge welts and scary looking reactions. As gorgeous as this little river valley was, the density of mosquitoes was rather alarming. Still we plunged in to the 20 cm deep water and waved Claudette a cheery wave goodbye before madly trying to get downriver a bit and away from the infestation of nasty, flying, blood sucking little things with unmarried parents. After getting underway, it was wonderful, exciting and relaxing all at the same time. We had about a half an hour float down the river until we came upon the big white rock inn the middle of the river indicating that we were at the Burns homestead.

After cleaning off and drying up, we settled in for our last evening here while Claudette took off with Sylvia to “take in” a Parish Council Meeting. Luke played for a few hours with Nick who had just finished a four day canoe trip with his Dad at the Burns’ house. His Dad had gone back to town to get their van, while the kids played outside in the bestest (and free) mosquito restaurant in town. We’d been good so far in Canada with NOT leaving things behind, especially after Luke’s precedent’s with clothing articles and mine with chargers. Unfortunately, Claudette and Alex BOTH left their PSP’s behind in the Mirimichi, and we had to ask Sylvia to mail them ahead to us.

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