Today was one of those days where I had all kinds of time to get to my destination. And so it turned out to be a very long day, but not a rushed one. Slept in until 8:00 and woke to my alarm and the lovely view of the calm waters of the little arm of Passamaquoddy Bay that Candice and Greg have built their house on. By the time I had my shower and got dressed, Greg had made eggs benedict for breakfast, so we had a nice breakfast and quick last visit before Candice headed off for work.
I loaded up Fury and we headed out about 9:15. Today's only real plan was to get to Hopewell Cape for low tide around 3:30 p.m. So as I headed down the highway, I took a little side road through Blacks Harbour and Beaver Harbour. Tiny places, but beautiful scenery and curvy little roads conveniently placed to loop me back around to the highway.
I stopped just outside of St. John at the visitor centre, but didn't see anything I hadn't seen before. On my way into St. John, I saw a motorcycle store and stopped in to enquire about having Fury shipped back to Vancouver when I'm done. They had some good information for me and I'm hoping to be able to arrange it by mid-September. As I was leaving, I met Heather and Scott and Charlie, who were out riding from Fredericton. Heather has only recently got her license and is loving the road on two wheels! Way to go, Heather. We had a chat and all carried on our way.
Getting back on the road, we rode along pretty steadily until we saw the signs to get us onto Hwy 114 towards Hopewell Cape. Getting close, more signs reminded me about Cape Enrage. Though I had seen it on my map last nigth, I had already forgotten about it. Fury and I had a lot of fun on the long, narrow, twisty road that into Cape Enrage that ends in a zip line and a little lighthouse. The traffic didn't allow a lot of photo opps and the zipline and lighthouse have an admission fee, so we just turned around and headed back.
Having taken the little detour to Cape Enrage, I arrived at Hopewell Rocks Park just after 4. The Bay of Fundy has some of the highest tides in the world. Hopewell Rocks are a big tourist area where you can walk down to the ocean floor and see the gigantic "flowerpot" rocks. The trail takes 10-15 minutes and I also found an "elephant" rock along the trail. :) Down on the ocean floor, eroded and shaped by the tidewaters, the rock formations are spectacular. So there are a ton of photos of rocks today......
I wandered the beach for an hour before heading back up the trail. By this time, it was 6:00 p.m. and I knew I needed to get back on the road so I wouldn't be riding in the dark. As I was suiting up, some folks I had seen on the trail came back to their vehicle beside me. One couple had recently moved from Ontario to New Brunswick and the other couple was visiting from Quebec. Their kids were with them as well and they were interested to hear about the trip. We had a good visit and once again, I am reassured by how friendly and open people have been on this whole trip.
I have officially arrived in Nova Scotia for the night and look forward to all new discoveries tomorrow!
Today, both Fury and I got a break. Fury got to sit in her princess parking spot in a garage and I got to shower and dress in real people clothes and ride in a car for the day! And I promise I took a whack of pictures......
We got up in decent time and Greg had made a really nice breakfast of scrambled eggs, and fresh croissants with blueberry jam from a local market. Candice only had to work for a couple of hours today and her shift was in St. Andrews, so we all jumped in the SUV and headed over there. St. Andrews is a touristy little town and fairly lively with activity. Of old, it was the place where the well-heeled folks came to spend their summers, so it is full of interesting, Victorian-style homes of yesteryear.
One of the first little stops we made was at a Celtic cross memorial on the beach. There must be quite an Irish population in the area as this cross was erected “In memory of those men and women and children who died of hunger and disease fleeing the potato famine in Ireland and lie buried on Hospital Island. Lovingly remembered by their descendents, who persevered and help build this great nation.” Sounds like an interesting story to discover.
The morning plan had been to run over to Minister’s Island before Candice was due to check in at work, but we had the tides wrong and couldn’t get over there. Instead we toodled around St. Andrews a bit. In doing so, we discovered the Sheriff’s House. Elisha Andrews was the son of Reverend Samuel Andrews, who had come to Canada as a Loyalist and was the first Minister in St. Andrews. Elisha was appointed Sherriff at a fairly young age (probably his early thirties) and built the house in St. Andrews in 1818. It was a very grand residence at the time and is still a very beautiful house in its preservation as an historical site. He built it close to the jail to keep a better eye on prisoners. A sheriff was fined if prisoners escaped and were not recaptured. Sheriff Andrews remained in the demanding position until his health began to fail in 1832. He died the following year at the age of 61.
After dropping Candice off at work, Greg and I had the arduous task of visiting the Chocolate Museum in St. Stephen. On the way over to the chocolate museum, we had stopped briefly at the viewpoint for St. Croix Island. This is the original landing spot of Samuel Champlain in North America and is an International Heritage Site. Weathering the winter wasn’t easy and many lives were lost to the cold and disease. However, they persevered, obviously, as they were the foundation of the French presence in North America.
The Ganong family started into the chocolate business in St. Stephen in 1873 and while the original factory has been turned into office space and the chocolate museum, a newer factory still operates in St. Stephen today – still operated by the Ganong family. It was a very interesting story and it is clear that the Ganong family took pride, not only in their product, but in their community. They had a great deal of business savvy and expanded into candy making as well. By diversifying their product range, they could survive when competitors entered the field with one type of product or another. The family was well respected by their employees and their customers. I did not know that they were the creators of the chicken bones candy and spearmint leaves, both of which I like! Of course, they managed to relieve me of a few dollars by having the gift shop right next to the museum.
Making off with our goodies from the chocolate museum we headed back to St. Andrews to meet Candice for lunch at The Gables. This is a very busy little restaurant and it is easy to see why. The food was great and the service friendly. If you want a table on the patio in mid-summer, you are probably in for a bit of a wait. I had the lobster roll, which is lobster on a hot dog bun, of sorts. The hot dog buns in Quebec and New Brunswick are not what we are accustomed to in the west – they are better! Finishing up our lunch, we were still a bit early to head to Minister Island for low tide, so we stopped at the St. Andrews blockhouse. This was one of 3 defense points set up during the War of 1812 to discourage an American incursion into Canada. A beautiful setting, of course, as all of these coastal defense points are.
Finally heading over to Minister’s Island, we found that tide was indeed out as schedule and we were able to drive over the sandbar. The water level at high tide rises over 24 feet to bury the bar!
Minister’s Island was where the afore-mentioned Reverend Samuel Andrews (father of Sheriff Elisha Andrews) fled during the American civil war. Samuel Andrews was a loyalist and life was pretty difficult for him after the war, so he came to Canada with his family. He lived on Minister’s Island during his life and the property was kept by his son until financial hardship forced the sale of some of it.
Eventually, the island became the summer estate of Sir William Van Horne. This wealthy gentleman made his fortune in the railways and was responsible for the engineering of the trans-Canada railway. This “summer” estate was a full-fledged going concern. They raised animals, had dairy cows, sheep, horses, etc. Sir William built a 50-room house on the island where they regularly entertained the influential people of the day. A stone bathhouse is built on the beach where one can climb down the stairs to changerooms and come out onto the ocean. It is a stunning setting and the house is just amazing. The barn is the largest I have seen anywhere and had all kinds of ingenious technologies built into it. Including placing the windows too high for the staff to look out because one day, on approaching the barn, Sir William found the workers standing around looking out the windows.
Sir William was an avid painter and zoologist and indulged these pursuits in the 5 or 6 months a year that they spent on the island. He felt that sleep was a “habit”, and a bad one at that, and rarely slept more than 4 hours a night. He had a room built at the front of the house, close to the front door, so he could work and wander without disturbing the rest of the house. The property included a carriage house, a garage and tennis courts as well. Sir William’s home on Minister’s Island was obviously a resort for the rich and famous.
Making our way back over the bar, we headed back to Candice and Greg’s to get the dogs fed and rest our eyes for a bit. Then we hauled ourselves down the road for dinner at Birch’s. I indulged in more seafood, ordering the shrimp and scallops, which were delicious! That was followed up with an amazing, homemade coconut cream pie. I don’t think there is much chance I’m going to waste away any time soon.
Getting back after dinner, it was time to pay some attention to Fury. Greg helped me get her up on her centre stand for a chain inspection and lubrication. That was followed up with a tire pressure check and top-up and then some organization of all my stuff in preparation for departure tomorrow. A bit of map-scanning and planning and we are more or less ready to go, so long as I get my butt into bed!
Here’s to tomorrow’s adventures!
Well, I used to say that I don’t ride in the rain by choice. If that were true, I would still be in British Columbia. Now, the consideration is how soon and how hard will it rain? Is there the possibility of a thunderstorm? If there is a thunderstorm, is there a place to stop before it strikes? These are the things I think about before heading out on a rain day.
While it wasn’t raining when I got up, by the time I headed down to load up the second bag, a light rain had begun. My first mission of the day was to get to Magnetic Hill before a bunch of traffic. The place I was staying was only 7 kms away, so I got there by 8:30 a.m - before the attraction opened. The gate to magnetic hill was open so I went over to check it out and it didn’t work. Figured I must be doing something wrong, or maybe it just didn’t work on bikes. I decided I would go over the little covered bridge into the Magnetic Hill Wharf where there were some tourist shops and cafes. I stopped for a latte and a muffin before heading back around to try again. This time, when I got there, the gate was down and admission was required. When I pulled up, I asked if it worked for bikes and they said yes and bikes were free! This time, with proper instruction from the staff, it worked! I think it would be cooler in a car because it pulls you back up the hill backwards. But it was still pretty cool to ride down to the bottom of the hill, turn around and put the bike in neutral, and get pulled back up the hill at a speed as fast as 18 kms/hr. Neato! Apparently it is an optical illusion but despite having read all the science around it, it is still some mystical magic to me.
Knowing that I only had 2.5 hours on the agenda today, I intended to make my destination of St. George, NB for a visit with Candice and Greg. We were only on the road for a few minutes before the rain started to mean business and came down steadily. Fog settled over the road now and then, but didn’t affect visibility much. The highway was twinned, so I stuck to the right-hand lane and kept my speed down. Then it lightened up for a bit. Just enough to lull us into thinking it might be a decent ride yet. Then about 30 minutes out of St. John, the rain absolutely hammered down. On went the hazard light and down came the speed, as did that of all the vehicles around me. There was nothing to do but ride it out. When I actually arrived in St. John, the rain lightened up again, so we kept riding.
Arriving in St. George, I gratefully stopped to fuel up and headed over to Uncle Mayne’s for a bit of lunch. I ordered some shrimp and coleslaw and it was pretty awesome! Candice met me there and led me out to their house, which is a little way out of town. Fury is in a garage! Got unloaded and settled in some pretty nice digs.
Greg made a great dinner of roast chicken and veggies and we went for a bit of a drive around St. George. Out to the lighthouse and through the town, which like so many I have seen along the road, has lots of character in its buildings and probably its people too. 😊 Good thing we went on this little tour or I would only have had 3 pathetic pictures to post today, along with my magnetic hill video! Looking forward to tomorrow’s explorations.
I needed to go back to Miscou Island to the lighthouse today. Waffled about it last night but woke to sunshine and no matter what I thought about what else I could do, I kept coming back to that. The day was already heating up at 8:30 a.m. so I switched the armour from my rain gear back to my mesh gear. In spite of the wind feeling a bit cool when riding, it was the right choice. The rain and fog were replaced with strong cross winds, but nothing we hadn’t been through before. I did wonder what that last, really high bridge over to Miscou Island was going to do with us, but actually the cross winds were less intense as we crossed it than they were on the flats. Go figure!
I was so glad that I took the road again – I saw all kinds of things that were missed yesterday evening while my attention was riveted to the road in the rain. Arriving at the lighthouse, I had breakfast at the Lighthouse Keeper’s Café there. It was pretty reasonable for a breakfast sandwich, a nice selection of fruit and a latte. After eating, I took a stroll along the beach for a bit and got some better pics of the lighthouse than I got yesterday in the rain. And then I just sat on the rocks and watched the surf crash onto the shore for a while. I thought about Tracey and how she would have found it so cool and loved the rocks piled harem scarem all over the beach.
It was here that I wanted to leave some ashes – at the easternmost tip of New Brunswick at the lighthouse. So I did, and while it felt “right”, it did not come with the lightness of spirit today. Just sadness and a little hole of loneliness that can’t be filled without her. The thing about losing someone you love is that the intensity of all of one’s emotions is enhanced. Everything that is beautiful is achingly beautiful, everything that is sad is grievously so, everything that is joyful brings sheer delight. Perhaps that is just me in the process of grief, but I have noticed this intensity often in my experiences on this trip. It has also reinforced that many of us who wear the costume of being the comic relief of life and seem tough and strong, generally wear marshmallow underwear beneath, and so perhaps are more vulnerable to this intensity. Humour is the shield against that which may hurt us.
Letting the day have its way with me, I also stopped at the boardwalk I had noted on the way out to the lighthouse. This boardwalk goes out into the peat bog on Miscou Island and I learned all kinds of things about peat bogs – how they are formed, the plants that can live in their acidic environment, etc. Whoever wrote the story boards had a real knack for conveying information in an informative, concise way so as to teach, but not bore. I have included some photos of a couple that I found particularly interesting. Who knew a peat bog could be so cool! As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, they do not mine the peat bog on Miscou Island for fear of destabilizing it, so the bog stretches as far as the eye can see. It reminded me a bit of the tundra in the Northwest Territories.
Not planning any more stops on the way to Moncton, I fuelled up in Shippigan and we hit the road again. Back to Hwy 11 and the traffic had picked up considerably. It wasn’t crazy, though – just sit back and cruise with no point in trying to pass someone only to get behind another slowpoke. And then I saw the sign for MacDonald Farm Heritage Place. When I first spotted the turnoff, I wasn’t sure I had the right place. It is fairly unprepossessing from the highway. But the sign said that was it, so I turned in and parked Fury in the shade and went in, not expecting much.
What a little gem of a place! It is the site and story of Alexander MacDonald – a Scot who had joined the British Army at 16 and ended up in New Brunswick. He chose to settle on the Miramichi River. The building that one sees immediately is a small museum and gift shop. But if you pay the outrageous fee of $4.00!!!!, you can step out the back of the building and a wagon pulled by two big horses (probably Belgians or Clydesdales) will pick you up and take you down a lane to the site of the MacDonald house and farm buildings. Alexander found himself a wife and had 13 children! The site is well kept and there are staff in period costume to show you through the house and tell stories. Then I wandered the grounds to see the animals and the out buildings. Just as I was finishing up, Frank arrived back with the horses and wagon to return me to the museum building. What a delightful stop.
By this time, I was quite close to Miramichi and determined to have a bite to eat and top up with gas there before finishing the distance to Moncton. I didn’t dawdle over lunch and was back on the road in about 40 minutes, with an hour and a half to Moncton. We finished the journey without further distraction and as I had no room booked in advance, I just followed the signs to “Main St” and pulled into a parking lot. Unfortunately for me, the hotels in Moncton were outrageously priced and mostly unavailable unless I wanted to spend $200+. I didn’t, so looked a little further on and found the Atlantic Motel in Salisbury. This is only about 20 minutes out and they had one room left for a very reasonable price. Great little place with a friendly owner. They have a convenience store as well, which negated the need to go somewhere for dinner, which I didn’t feel like doing. After the hot, humid ride, a shower felt like sinful decadence. Feeling refreshed, I sat down with the New Brunswick Visitor Guide I had picked up in Miscou and have something of a plan of action for the next couple of days. I’m going to swear that Elaine didn’t tell me there was a “Chocolate Walk” in St. Andrews, but she probably did and my memory just failed. My whole trip would be pointless if I can’t fit that in!
And so, my friends, I had best be calling it a night. Don't forget your short history lesson by clicking the Trivia Bits button!
Oui, I am still deep in French-speaking territory as I travel through the Acadian region of New Brunswick.
It was a pick your poison kind of day today. Poison #1: the forecast was for the trickiest kind of weather – hot, with a better-than-average chance of rain. I opted for the rain gear and hoped it wouldn’t get too hot too soon.
Woke up and was surprised to see it was already 8:00 a.m. (forgot that I lost an hour again). I was fairly prompt about getting going, having a quick breakfast and visit with some other tenants of the house. By the time I was done with breakfast, it began to rain. According to the weather app, I should ride out of it within a half hour or so along my route, so I loaded up Fury and off we went.
We did ride out of it, but weren’t very far along the road before a dense fog settled over the world again, reducing visibility to about half a kilometer. Enter Poison #2: Ride nearer the shoulder and hope one of the moose the signs have been warning me about for two weeks doesn’t come strolling out of the ditch. Or ride in proper lane position and watch for some on-coming wanker with no patience to decide to pass in the fog and come barrelling at me on my side of the road. Having seen more dummy drivers passing in poor conditions than moose, I chose to ride just right of centre. We rode in and out of fog most of the morning before it dissipated for good.
I wanted to get to the Historic Acadian Village near Caraquet, so only took a short break for lunch while passing through Bathurst. Reaching the village in good time, I soon realized that one really needs a whole afternoon for it and I only had a couple of hours. I was glad I had removed my riding gear and changed my shoes – the day had grown hot and very humid. It’s a considerable walk around the village, which is a reconstruction of traditional Acadian life between 1770 and 1949. The Acadians were some of the original settlers in North America, arriving in the early 1600s. They were deported from their colonies in 1755 after refusing to fight for the English during the French and Indian Wars. Some returned to the area.
Throughout the site, the staff are dressed in period costume and play their roles in demonstrating everything from using tools to carding wool and newsprinting. There are all kinds of animals in the barns and yards and vegetable gardens planted. While wandering, I met Doug and Ken (I sure hope I remembered their names correctly – I didn’t make a note when I should have). Doug explained some of the old machinery to me and we had a good visit while wandering along. He also had a story about when he was a kid and the whole family of 7 was going to go to New Zealand. But the war broke out and public travel was banned so they never got to go. He went just last year to visit his daughter over there and didn’t want to come back. It was Ken that sidetracked my whole day by telling me about the Miscou lighthouse. It sounded too good to miss, so after I dragged myself away from the village, I suited up to go find it. “Just go through Caraquet – don’t take the bypass - and take Hwy 113. Can’t miss it”, said Ken. Ken doesn’t know me very well…..
Noticing the extremely enthusiastic display of Acadian flags all over the peninsula, I found out that there is a big Acadian festival this weekend in Caraquet. That explained the air of festivity and raucous displays of Acadian-ism. 😊
I got the first part right and even the second. I got onto Hwy 113. Then it started to rain pretty good and somewhere along the way, I must have missed a sign. Arrived at a junction and my trusty internal compass told me to turn right when I should have turned left. Ended up back on the big highway and knew that wasn’t right, but had to go a little way before there was a safe place to turn around. I persevered and made one more wrong turn and backtracked again before getting on the right road. On my way, I passed through Shippigan and saw the most colourful lineup of boats I have ever seen in my life!
It was a beautiful ride through marshlands and I crossed several “islands” on the way to Miscou. Ken had said the peninsula was the biggest sandspit in North America and I think he must be right. I definitely had the feeling that the highway was simply floating on a bit of dirt between me and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. There were many birds and I think it must be a migration route or sanctuary for a variety of species. It is certainly an ideal environment for that.
I finally arrived at the lighthouse about 20 minutes before they closed for the day. WOW! The Miscou Lighthouse is the second oldest lighthouse in New Brunswick. It was built in 1856 from British Columbia timbers 175 ft long! The timber was shipped by train to Moncton and then by ship to Miscou. They were soaked in seawater to make them solid as a rock. The lighthouse structure is set up with many story boards on different floors as you climb to the top. But the top is the piece de resistance – a breathtaking view of the gulf and surrounding land. A house and barn have been re-created on the site as well – replicas of those lived in and used by the original lighthouse keeper. The lighthouse is now the property of the Coast Guard, who maintains the light and grounds. I might have to go back tomorrow before I leave for another visit and some of the ice cream that is supposed to be so good.
I was also interested to learn that they “mine” peat on the islands here. But not on Miscou Island. The staff guy at the top of the lighthouse told me that it turns red in the fall and the view from the lighthouse then is absolutely gorgeous. He said that they don’t mine peat there because they are afraid it will destabilize the ground and sink the whole island. This lent credibility to my sensation of riding along on a bit of land over the water and I was happy to hear they don’t permit peat mining on Miscou Island.
By now, it was growing late and I had abandoned any pretense of getting to Moncton. So I just headed back the way I came (without the diversions) and as I rode along the highway, noticed a “Motel” sign. The place doesn’t seem to have a name, but it is clean and quiet and has a beautiful view outside the rear window. I had to check google maps to find out where I am and that is Evangeline. This tweaked something in my memory. With a bit of mental mining, I recalled Elaine telling me I should try to see a play of Evangeline. Longfellow’s most popular poem was called Evangeline, about an Acadian girl searching for her lost love after the Acadians were deported from their colonies.
Now it is time to do a bit of research and re-work the next couple of days of travel. I hope you are still riding with me!
P.S. I also stopped along the way and visited a museum that told the stories of various nuns, monks and priests that had come to Acadia to convert the locals. That was pretty interesting too, although I didn't do the tour as it was in French. They had an amazing replica of St. Peter's Cathedral in Vatican City. In another room were displays of various local artists. I particularly liked the pictures of flowers made from shells - I wonder what they do to get the fishy smell out of them!
Flower: Purple Violet
My name is Alyson and I'm journeying across Canada by motorcycle. All provinces and territories north and west of here can be found under the Explore My Nation header at the top of this page.