Thursday, October 9, 2008

2008 October Trip-Days 8 thru 9

Oh-Dark-Thirty and we are up, packed away, showered and on the road again. We left the camp just as daylight was breaking and pulled into Alma, New Brunswick just after dawn. This small fishing village is at the entrance of the Fundy National Park and is a bustling community of about 300. We stopped at the town’s general store and got a good strong coffee to go with our Poptart breakfast. Several locals were there and greeted us very cordially. It’s always good to feel “at home” when away. After taking a few pictures, we were on our way again following the coast whenever possible. Our destination was the Hopewell Rocks, some 26M/42Km from Alma. These rocks are a natural phenomena caused by time and the tides of Fundy Bay. They are awesome and we spent more time there than we had intended to, but, when can one be in this sort of environment, at awe with nature, and just pass it off as another “place” you have been. We took our time.

Our focus was to make our next camp before nightfall. We had decided to stay at the Caribou/Munroes Island Provincial Park in Nova Scotia, so we had to gauge or time to make that destination before dark. The route we took was just as before, hugging the coastline. This part of New Brunswick and into Nova Scotia was not the mountainous terrain we had been in the past few days. Once past Hopewell Rocks, the land turned into very flat and marshy. Much of the area was used for cattle ranching and more than several times we encountered cattle ranches farther than we could see. Literally, there were thousands of cattle grazing in these lowlands. In most places, an abnormal tide or a large surge from the Atlantic would inundate this whole area. No record of this happening in the past, so I guess they are safe here.

Our route took us through Moncton, New Brunswick lying at the head of Fundy Bay and on the Peticodiac River, the main tributary of the bay. Because this area is so flat, the river is tidal for many miles. This causes the river through Moncton to almost drain twice a day.

Once past Moncton, we traveled the coastal villages constantly amazed of the tidal influences on the area. The streams and small rivers flowing into the bay drain up to 30 feet before filling again on the tidal change. All life revolves around these tidal changes. Eventually, we ended up in Sackville, New Brunswick, a busy place as well as a college town. Although very busy, we liked the town because of its laid back atmosphere.

Continuing on into Nova Scotia, we followed NS Rt. 6 along the coast of the Northumberland Strait. This coastline gradually rose from marshy plains to higher cliff terrain of 20-30 feet above the sea. Most was farmland and fairly non-descript. A few fishing villages dotted this path, but none too interesting.

We arrived at our campground on time (before sundown) and we set up for the night. As before, the facilities were spotless and the campsites were very large. The weather was supposed to be a bit warmer than the nights before and the wind had died down substantially. This made for a very nice evening with a hot meal, a strong hot buttered rum and an early turn in. Once the pack of coyotes stopped howling, we were off to la-la land.

The next morning we were up early and off through Pictou and New Glasgow, Nova Scotia where we picked up NS Rt.4. This is the main highway to Cape Breton Island. Our destination was the Cape Breton National Park. We decided to make this our central operating camp while in the Highlands. The drive into the Highlands was absolutely stunning.

Once we crossed over the Straight of Canso onto Cape Breton Island, we took the high road (I love saying that) along the west coast. This took us along high cliff roads and through more fishing villages. The day was blustery and overcast accentuating the power of the North Atlantic. It was obvious we were in for a soaking soon.

We arrived early at the Whycocomagh Provincial Park campground. This park is located at the base of a mountain range and overlooks the Skye River Valley and the Bras d' Or Lake. Since this was the last few days of their season, we were the only ones in the park and we were given pick of any campsite. Of course we picked one close to the facilities, but also next to a cooking shelter. We figured if it rained it would come in handy.

Once we checked in we took off for Sydney, Nova Scotia, located on the eastern side of the island. We wanted to tour that area first and save the Highlands for last. The drive was quite nice up until we came into the Sydney area. It seems this area of Cape Breton Island is devoted to coal mining. It was very depressed. Many low income housing and there were times we were not comfortable in the areas we drove through. After a few hours we decided we had seen enough. Nothing spectacular. Anyway, it was beginning to rain and we were several hours from our camp.

By the time we arrived at the park it was a wind driven downpour. We assessed the situation and decided, since we were the only ones in the park, to set up our beds in the cooking shelter. We pulled up under the shelter’s overhang and unloaded our gear. The shelter had solar powered lights and with our Coleman lantern, we had plenty of light. Additionally, the shelter had sliding barn doors that closed the entire shelter off from the elements. How cozy. We cooked some hot dogs and beans and washed them down with some good Canadian beer. They do have good beer, but it is so expensive. Again, we turned in early for we wanted to get an early start for our Highlands tour.

See Day 8 Album: Click here.

See Day 9 Album : Click here.

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