Tuesday, October 7, 2008

2008 October Trip-Day 7

Our day started at 5 AM and, boy, was it ever cold. The temperature was 34F/1C and neither of us wanted to crawl out of our toasty sleeping bags. Our bags are cold weather, mummy-type and, along with sweats, keeps us very comfortable. We knew we had to get an early start, though, so we braved the cold and packed up. Took only a few minutes to make the conversion and head to the shower facility. If you remember from our last post, the shower facilities are not heated so we were dreading that necessary task.

Now, completely awake, we headed for Calais, Maine. Calais (local pronunciation of Calais rhymes with palace) is located on U.S. Route 1 and on the Canadian border. Just across the border is the city of St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada. The U.S.-Canadian crossing point is on each side of the St. Croix River, which splits the two cities. We have crossed into Canada several times before, but that was prior to 9-11. When we pulled up to the Canadian Customs/Border check point we were asked a multitude of questions that seemed more intense than they previously had been. I am not sure the young guard was convinced we were entering Canada on a camping/sightseeing expedition for she directed us to pull into an inspection lane. After a twenty minute wait a Canadian Customs agent began going through our truck looking for weapons, contraband and who knows what else. She went through everything including our laundry bag and cooler. Nothing. So, with a disappointed gesture, we were told that we were free to proceed. Hope it isn’t that bad when we return to the U.S.

Our plan this day was to hug the shoreline. We wanted to see, up close, the Bay of Fundy and the tide phenomena it is so well known for. There are many locations along this route to experience that phenomena and St. Andrews, New Brunswick, is one of them.

St. Andrews is a quiet seacoast town steeped in history. As with its U.S. sister towns, they too have had a re-vitalization drawing the tourist trade. There were many shops to visit in the many old building that line its streets. All in all though, it is a tourist town preparing for the end of the season.

We continued along the coast taking side road excursions whenever possible. This part of the country relies on the fishing and lumbering industries. There are many small villages, but very few large towns. We immediately noticed the lack of basic shopping facilities. The very small general store was the norm for daily shopping. Most people made long trips into the distant cities once or twice a month to stock up on provisions. Another fact we took immediate notice of was the price of everything. Even taking into account the difference in the U.S. dollar and the Canadian dollar, the prices were out of sight. We pondered the whole time while in Canada how these people existed on their income. Example: a gallon of milk was close to five Canadian dollars. Even taking the dollar difference into consideration, that is high! Oh, well. Maybe we will not be staying as long as we had planned.

Since we entered Canada, we found that our driving plans followed the Fundy Bay Coastal Drive. One of the more beautiful stops on this first day was the Funday Trail Parkway located near St. Martins, New Brunswick. This 6-mile drive had some of the most beautiful coastal scenery we had seen to date and we took advantage of every place that offered a panoramic view. Breathtaking.

Once we completed the drive we noticed we were a bit behind our time schedule. We wanted to camp in the Funday National Park for the night and we were quite a ways from there. I set the GPS for the shortest route hoping we would get there before dark. The GPS plotted the route and we took off. After a few miles, we noticed the road narrowing a bit and then becoming unpaved. Figuring this was only temporary, we continued. Take note: I should have turned back at this point. As we proceeded, the dirt roads became narrower and rougher. By this time we were too far along to return for our destination was “only a few miles away”. HA!!!!

It was obvious we were on a mountain logging road and, basically, in the wilderness. Thankfully, we did not meet any vehicles coming from the opposite direction for there was no place to pass or turn around. Some of the roads were barely passable. We could just see ourselves finding a field to pull into and staying there for the night. We could have done that, but preferred not too. We finally drove onto a more improved dirt road eventually leading to the main, paved road of the park just as it got dark. The “shortcut” was only 22mi/36km, but it took us over two hours to traverse the several mountains and rough trails. Lesson learned: do not completely trust your GPS for the best route.

We stayed the night in the park campground and were pleasantly surprised with the facilities. The campsite was very nice and the shower/restrooms were beautiful and impeccably clean. But, that is the norm for all of Canada’s public parks that we have stayed in over the years. A hot meal and a hot drink and we were off to bed. Not supposed to be as cold as the previous nights.

Tomorrow, into Nova Scotia.

Check out our Day 7 pictures: Click here

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