Stories

The Cabot Trail And The Bay Of Fundy

The Bay Of Fundy

It was a bittersweet morning as I packed my things, loaded the bike, and prepared to leave Cape Breton Island. (Waking up on a mostly deflated air mattress didn’t help, either.) But I had places to be, and reminded myself that before I was gone, I had a fair bit of riding to do to get there. So off I went. This time I stayed on 105 and soon stopped at a gas station convenience store in Whycocomagh to stock up on drinks for the day. There is a Mi’kmaq reservation nearby, and many Mi’kmaq working, shopping, or selling their wares here. Before long I was at the Canso Causeway, and was sad to leave the island. But, onward.

IMGP0391Much of today’s route was a repeat of my trip out in the opposite direction. Unless I wanted to stick to superslab on 104 all the way to Moncton, NB, this was the best way to go. (Yet another reason why I wished the ferry was running then, so I could basically circumnavigate Nova Scotia.) So I rode back through Antigonish, New Glasgow, and Pictou. In Tatamagouche I stopped for lunch at Big Al’s Acadian Restaurant. The fish and chips were excellent, and many other bikers showed up to enjoy lunch there while I ate. It always speaks well of a dining establishment when large numbers of motorcycles are there. Then it was back through Pugwash, and past the Tidnish General Store after entering New Brunswick. In fact my route took me almost right past Murray Beach, where I’d stayed on the second night of my trip.

From there I followed Route 15 all the way into the city of Moncton. This was an appropriate beginning to my tour of the Bay of Fundy, because Moncton is literally at the top of the bay. I made my way through the city without difficulty and hopped on Route 114, which would take me down the coast all the way to Alma and Fundy National Park.

I admit, my primary goal of this trip was Cape Breton Island. But Fundy National Park looked like a convenient halfway point on the way back. I’d first heard of Fundy’s unique scenery and extreme tides from an article I published in my local BMW club newsletter years ago submitted by the late Yale Rachlin, one of the founders of the BMW Car Club of America and Editor Emeritus of Roundel. I was riding a Honda, not a BMW, but it made sense to take a different route back to Maine than I had to get to Murray Beach, so I decided to check out Fundy for myself.

The roads through Moncton and along the coast were generally in better condition that the northern areas I’d ridden through to get here, and 114 was actually somewhat curvy and fun with interesting scenery. I was actually enjoying riding through New Brunswick here.

IMGP0526It wasn’t on my itinerary, but when I saw the signs for Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park I decided to stop and check it out. The Bay of Fundy is known for its extreme tides, some of the largest in the world, and though riding by the bay was quite scenic I hadn’t seen any real evidence of this yet. It cost $10 to get in, which I hadn’t expected, but I was doing OK on my budget and wanted to use up my Canadian money as much as I could anyway, so I splurged for it. I’m glad I did. Many of the paths there are quite steep, much steeper than we would have in the US for accessibility reasons. I walked all the way down to the beach, where it was low tide.

The landscape looked just like an alien planet off the set of Star Trek.  The weathered rocks were very high, and some of them even still had trees growing on top of them.  The seaweed extended up to 20 feet or so up these rocks, which gives a good idea of how high the water gets at high tide. And it’s still living seaweed, too. It gets what it needs from the ocean while it’s submerged at high tide. I spent quite a bit of time wandering around, exploring, and taking pictures. Then, feeling too lazy to walk all the way back up the very steep hills in my motorcycle boots, I threw a $2 coin at the shuttle “bus” driver (it was really a stretched golf cart) to drive me back up to the parking lot.

IMGP0537Back on the bike, I kept heading down 114, and before long I rolled into Alma, and soon after that Fundy National Park. The park has a nice little scam going where you reserve and pay for your campsite, yet that doesn’t include admission into the park – you have to pay for that on top of camping. It came to around $35 for the night, total, which is mighty expensive for renting a piece of ground to pitch a tent on.

After paying the park admission fee at another convenient pulloff booth in Alma, I made my way out to Point Wolfe. Halfway down the 10km road to the campground, the road got wet, and steam was rising from it due to the heat. I didn’t ride through a drop of rain myself, but clearly I had just missed rain by minutes on my way in. I stopped by the covered bridge you cross to get to the campground for a photo op, checked in, and found my campsite.

IMGP0538Because of the expense, I’d reserved myself a nice, large, fairly private campsite. It was more than I needed for myself alone, but I figured I might as well get my money’s worth, and there were enough available campsites there that I didn’t seem to be depriving anyone who needed more space. It did not disappoint – mostly. The site itself was great – about as private as you can get in such a densely populated campground, with plenty of space for a family, never mind me alone. The only downside was that I couldn’t park my bike close to the tent, since you had to climb up a few “stairs” of tree roots to get in. Though the site itself was gravel, the parking space that goes with the site was not, making parking in the soft wet dirt difficult at best.  It was also on a hill, forcing me to rely on engine compression with the bike in gear as a parking brake. All of this made it difficult for me to inflate my air mattress, since I powered my pump off the bike rather than a separate battery. I managed, but I wouldn’t be able to top off the air before going to sleep, and was sure I’d wake up on the ground again the next morning. But this was my last night of camping, so I sucked it up.

I set up camp, then went back into Alma for dinner, and decided to get takeout from Saprano’s to bring back. It was a nice campsite, and I wanted to eat there. Then some unexpected dinner guests showed up – a family of three squirrels. They were brave little suckers, clearly used to getting handouts from campers. I’ve never been so close to a squirrel before. They scampered around while I ate. One even bounced off the side of my foot at one point. Occasionally they got so brave they actually climbed up onto the table! That was where I drew the line, and shooed them off the table. I didn’t mind anything else they were doing, and I did throw them a few bites.

IMGP0557After dinner I decided to go for a walk, since there were some paths and trails just outside the campground. I ended up walking down to the “beach.” I use the term loosely, because it was still low tide, and the tide had left the entire cove exposed. I wandered around the seabed for a while. This entire tree, left in the middle of the cove by the ocean, captured my interest. No doubt this entire cove, with the exception of the high bank where I walked in, is submerged at high tide. Unfortunately, I never got to see this place at high tide, so I missed out on the opportunity to compare and contrast. I’d recommend planning to spend at least a full day at the Bay of Fundy, just to see the full effect of both low and high tide in the same place.

2 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us. I really enjoyed this. Nova Scotia has long been on my to do list independent of riding. My grandfather was born in New Glasgow and raised in Halifax. I still have distant family in the area. Now that the Ceilidh Trail and Cabot Trail are on my radar, you’ve just bumped this way up the list.

    I think I need to plan a road trip for next season!

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