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:: Saturday, June 04, 2005 ::

May 29th. Vacation notes
Fredericton NB to Moncton was via the Bay of Fundy National park on the north shore of the bay. Some rolling countryside with nice horses and small towns. I checked out the lighthouse at Cape Enrage ( great name) and the Hopewell rocks also before heading into Moncton for the evening. It was drab and rainy so the rocks were so so, but I just really wanted to compare the tides from when I visited on the 30th.

After a restful sleep in Moncton in the room with internet access – finding a room with free access was cool. Just jack in the Ethernet and you are good to go. I asked if the Comfort inn in Cornerbrook, NL had net and they called the front desk there and they have WiFi! So you can’t get internet in the middle of Kentucky but you can in a city of 20,000 on the Rock. ?

I headed back down to Cape Hopewell where the ‘Flowerpot Rocks’ are located. It was raining lightly by the time I got there and it rained and rained the whole time. Miserable conditions and the pictures I took reflected that I think. But I have to say that I was impressed with the scale of it. Not having seen real tides before – at least without a means of measuring the difference it was pretty interesting. My first view of the tide being out was an expanse of hundreds and hundreds of meters of pale brown chocolate mousse coloured. It looked like it was several meters thick, but was in fact just covering the rocks of the floor of the bay below it. Channels with running seawater cut through it – channels that every 12 hours or so would simply be trenches well below the surface of the bay – in spots more that 40 feet deep.

I repeated my recce of the day before and went to the main tower that descends to the previously immersed seabed. It was misting to the point that it might as well have been raining. I spoke to one of the parks staff at this observation point and she said that farther down the bay there was a beach access that offered views people didn’t often bother to look at and so I headed out that way and saw a woodpecker on the way (they are quite big even if the pic was so-so). The rain was beginning to play havoc on the lens and was getting spots and mist between the filter and the lens proper. I wiped off and then ditched the polarizing filter as it was already pretty dark and gloomy. White fog everywhere in the bay. I have no idea how the pics turned out as I have not had the chance to look at them on the laptop…

I met up with another parks person standing in a yellow rain slick and matching hip waders standing all alone at the access point I was heading for. Since it was raining and he was just standing doing nothing, I think he took the opportunity to do some tour guiding, so he showed me the better points to look from/ at down below. The surface alternated between loose gravel and small rocks close in to larger rocks and mud and seaweed farther out. No more that 100-150m form shore at the farthest point. Remember the chocolate mud? Well it was quite thick in spots – despite just covering rocks below. And there was no way of telling how thick till you stepped in it. I saw one woman venturing out for a photo (while her obese friend sat and rested closer in) and yell out that she had just lost her shoe. Mud does that especially if the footwear isn’t tied on tight! I didn’t lose my hikers in the mud but the slightly red tinge they have had since hiking in the Grand Canyon in November has been replaced with “authentic Bay of Fundy Chocolate silt” (patent Pending). Getting that awesome colouring meant on occasion going out to the point that I heard that sucking sound as I tried to pull my foot out of the mud testing the depth. And the seaweed. It is dark green and looks like it has translucent testicle sized berries attached to it. Or perhaps horse pills for those not familiar….

I filled one CF card on the camera near the end ( I was going with the quantity producing some quality due to the rainy conditions as opposed the doing a few excellent shots…) I think the time I went down to the sea bed, despite the rain, was a good one. As I went back up, a group of Japanese tourists came down with bright umbrellas and sensible shoes. They were trying to tippy toe on the platform before going onto the sea floor proper and more than one tittered and commented on my caked hikers with the extra pound of mud on them. I think the tour guide did a poor job of telling them that business like footwear was OK for this venture.

After downloading the pics to the laptop in the parking lot, and drying off the camera, I headed off for NS. More rain. More Tim Hortons. More gas.

Coolest thing I saw on the way was the massive radio array at Sackville NB on the TCH just before the NS border. It belongs to Radio Canada International and does short wave broadcasts and retransmits signals from international broadcasters for North American listeners. I recall hearing of this place when I was really into shortwave listening 10-15 years ago. One thing I have found, and this may be common elsewhere, is that there are very little places on the side of any road to pull over and take pictures. Soft shoulders are really ¾ of a car width and usually drops off sharply into ditches or worse. And with some uber fast cars on my ass I know that some of the prettier countryside has been missed out on.

I passed through Antigonish NS (where the local radio station was announcing the Beach Boys would be playing later in the year) I saw my first glimpse of sun and blue sky since having a coffee with Leanne the day before I left. I had to eventually fish out my sunglasses as I crossed the straight onto Cape Breton Island. This is some pretty countryside with some twisting mountainous roads. But I was pressing my luck for reaching the Ferry before dark and with these roads and the possibility of moose darting in front of me I wanted to press on. I made it to the ferry at dusk and sat in the marshalling yard with probably a hundred over vehicles and tidied up my kit before boarding – hiding stuff from prying eyes mainly. Driving onboard was cool. Going up a three story ramp into the gaping bow of the ship reminded me of the gap on the side of an aircraft carrier where the aircraft elevators are. The guys (they were all men) with flashlights with orange extensions on them guided the vehicles down lanes inside. And parked us nose to tail on Deck 4.

I went up the stairs to Deck 5 which was the main passenger deck. Lounge, cafeteria like restaurant, several sections of comfy airline like chairs and TV, and a bunk room for about 150 people in small sections. I had one reserved and I was quite pleased to sleep in comfort overnight. And it was #10 forward. Heheh.

I also found (as some of you now know) two internet enabled kiosks by the pursers desk. Online and on a ship. That was cool even if the CTRL ALT Del keys were disabled. Messaged Steph and checked my Gmail (thanks for the comments Leanne!) and found a table in the lounge where I wrote this post by hand in a failing pen. I also saw on the satellite TV that the Knights won the cup too and called my brother as he had emailed me and I figured it would be quicker than composing an email maybe in the next few days.

At 2335hrs the engines are turning and we will be underway shortly. Do all ships environmental systems come flavoured with a hint of diesel fumes?

Carpe Diem

:: Mike Wood 13:07 [+] :: 0 comments


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