As we rolled up to the customs window at the Canadian border between Maine and New Brunswick, we tried to figure out how to explain the fact that our truck had exited the country around three years ago and hadn’t returned until now. The border guard listened to our seemingly crazy explanation that we had driven through Mexico, Central and South America, shipped to Florida, and were now back in our home country of Canada. He just shook his head, smiled, and waved us through. “Welcome to New Brunswick.”
Things changed more than we expected once we crossed the border. Tim Hortons’ popped up in every town with us urging to “Roll up the rim to win!”, with long line-ups and diabetic inducing double-doubles (two creams, two sugars). The highways opened up, wide shoulders bordering a huge expanse of wilderness on either side. The wildflowers were unlike anything we had ever seen! Pink clover, yarrow, daisies and other yellow and purple flowers filled the ditches, making us feel like we were driving through a garden.
Highway 1 took us past wild blueberry stands and vendors selling salty bags of dulse hand-picked from the Atlantic Ocean.
New River Beach Provincial Park
Our first stop was the at the New River Beach Provincial Park campground. We wasted no time by throwing some snacks in a backpack and making our way along the Chitticks Beach and Barnaby Head trails. We had our eyes open for moose, but the only wildlife that we saw were hares that hopped off the trail as soon as they saw us coming. One thing we immediately noticed was how saturated the green leaves were and how fragrant the air was. It was fresh air times a thousand.
Before making our way north to Saint John, we made a quick stop at Lepreau Falls.
Saint John, New Brunswick
We arrived in Saint John on July 1 (Canada Day!) and joined in the celebration of Canada’s 149th birthday. Beaver Tails and birthday cake were on the menu so once again we were full of delicious sugar before exploring the New Brunswick Museum and enjoying the general Canada Day vibes downtown. Eventually we made our way to the Rockwood Park Campground to watch the Canada Day fireworks. I wouldn’t call myself patriotic, but it sure felt good to be back home.
Fundy National Park
Parks Canada Passes are free in 2017 so go to Fundy National Park. We arrived on a rainy day, but the subsequent days were all sunny, full of lobster lunches, and gave us the chance to explore the coast on foot and by kayak.
It didn’t take us long to come across our first covered bridge. The structural timbers of the bridges are protected from the harsh winter weather by means of a covered roof. The Point Wolfe Covered Bridge was rebuilt in 1992.
Fundy NP: Chignecto North Campground
We chose the Chignecto North Campground as our base camp from which to explore the park. The sites felt like they were isolated, but we were still within walking distance of bathrooms and hot showers. After wild camping, camping in hotel parking lots, and sleeping at Value Place motels, this was absolute luxury.
Fundy NP: Hiking
Dickson Falls is a short interpretive walk. Perfect for an afternoon stroll in the woods along a stream to a waterfall.
Matthews Head Trail had a little bit of everything: Canada Parks chairs, ocean views, rolling hills of wildflowers, and thick forest.
Fundy NP: Kayaking with FreshAir Adventure
What better way to learn about the huge tidal range of the Bay of Fundy than being on the water? We launched our kayaks for a half day tour with FreshAir Adventure to explore the coastline, and most importantly snack on delicious sticky buns from Kelly’s Bake Shop. I’m not sure how every outdoor activity has degenerated into an opportunity to snack, but there you go.
So what did we learn about the tides?
The water in the Bay of Fundy has a natural resonance or rocking motion called seiche caused by the bay shape and bottom topography. We were told that you could compare this to the movement of water in a large bathtub. The only difference (other than overall size) is that the water in a bathtub sloshes from one end to the other and back again in a few seconds, but in the Bay of Fundy it takes about 13 hours for the water in the bay to rock from the mouth of the bay to the head of the bay and back again. As the ocean tide rises and floods into the bay every 12 hours and 25 minutes, it reinforces the rocking motion and exaggerates the tides to a huge range of 16.3m (53.5ft). Compare that to the West Coast tidal range of about 3m.
The town of Alma is just outside the National Park, but has all of the amenities that you need. Food, drinks, fuel… and the Moosin’ Around tourist shop.
Alma Lobster Shop
Pop quiz, hotshot. You’re in the Maritimes and it’s time for lunch. What do you eat?
Well, lobster of course! There’s a different type of lobster roll for every restaurant out there, so we started with aptly named Alma Lobster Shop for a roll and seafood chowder at a picnic table overlooking the Bay of Fundy.
An Octopus’s Garden Cafe
So here’s the deal. We went to the An Octopus’s Garden Cafe every single day that were in the area. Whether it was for a lobster panini for lunch, or just a mid-afternoon tea latte you could find us holed up in a corner table with our warm food/drinks in hand reflecting on a morning of hiking or kayaking.
Just a quick stop at the Cape Enrage Lighthouse.
The huge tides in the Bay of Fundy have spent years carving the sandstone into these flowerpot structures at the 2km long beach of Hopewell Rocks. We made sure to time our visit at low tide to explore the beach on foot.
We couldn’t have asked for a better place to explore than Fundy National Park during our first week back home in Canada.