The Bay of Fundy, Ready to Go?
Ok, Let’s Be Honest
Who of you reading this have heard of the Bay of Fundy? No doubt if you live on the East coast especially around Maine you have, but here on the West coast I bet not a lot have. Now I have to say I really like Canada, and I have never seen a part of Canada that I didn’t like unless it was buried under snow! Now my wife Cindy on the other hand thought I was taking her to the end of the world, so this lead me to do some research on the Bay of Fundy, and I found out it has one of the largest tides in the world (that means hopefully whales), and there is two UNESCO world heritage that are located there. So on October 7, 2013 our Travel Adventure to the Bay of Fundy began…
Let the Fun Begin
Word of Advice here, for all of you Travel Adventurers, no matter what type of vacation you go on, always go the day before it begins just in case there is some kind of travel delay. That is what we did, as we were to meet up with the tour group on October 8. So there we were on October 7 at 6:00 in the morning at the Sacramento airport. If you are ever in terminal A at the Sacramento Airport early in the morning and you are hungry I recommend having a breakfast burrito at LaSalsa. Thank goodness for that burrito as we had to fly across the U.S. and because of bad weather on the East coast we had a couple of delays which included a 45 minute delay on the runway in Denver. That was the only bad that we had on our Travel Adventure because once we arrived in Halifax Nova Scotia it was beautiful, the weather, the city, the people you name it. We arrived in Halifax at 10:23 pm pacific time, but since Halifax is on Atlantic time it was 2:23 in the early morning their time.
I had made previous arrangements with Atlantic Tours our tour of the Bay of Fundy was with, to have a car and driver waiting for us at the airport (remember I had to impress Cindy) So after we passed customs there he was waiting for us and let me tell you what a treat that was at 2:23 in the morning. After flying across the country, running thru airports to catch the next flight and being delayed due to bad weather, Cindy and I were exhausted and let me tell you that the Cambridge Suites Hotel in Halifax came through. Those beds were wonderful, first class all the way. Cambridge Suites is about five blocks from the Halifax harbor and only two from the pub district. The next night we met our Atlantic Tours tour director Robin. We also met the rest of the tour group, their was 3 couples from British Columbia, a couple from Toronto and a couple from Denmark, one woman from Brisbane Australia and another from Melbourne Australia, and one woman from Calgary and of course us two from the States. The next morning after a very good continental breakfast that the Atlantic Tours and the hotel provided we met our tour bus driver Dave and our tour began. Everyone thought Cindy and I brought the nice weather with us from California as it was clear and nice, and you could really see the fall colors of the tree leaves. The reds, yellows, and greens from the different birch, maple and pine trees just made going down the highway enjoyable. From the time we left the hotel, while Dave has been driving, Robin has been telling us the history of Halifax and the Bay of Fundy region. Even explaining to us about the Halifax harbor explosion (I bet you want to know more, well I will gladly book you for this tour).
At around noon we arrived at the first of UNESCO world heritage sites we would see on our tour. UNESCO means United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and it is a place that is listed by them as a special cultural or of physical significance to the region or area. This site is the Joggins fossil cliffs in Nova Scotia and it is located right on part of the Bay of Fundy. At Joggins they have found fossils that dated back to the dinosaur age. We were able to go onto the beach because the bay was at low tide, thank goodness as it has been known to go as high as 47.5-53.5 feet. So there we were being given a tour and presentation of all of the many fossils that are and have been found in the rocks on the beach all the while the tide keeps rising gradually! So about 45 minutes on the beach and listening about the fossils that have been found and watching the remnants of an old pier go underwater, we decided it was time to go back to the visitors center where they furnished us lunch. Nice homemade chicken and vegetable soup with three different types of sandwiches, coffee and water. Dave has started the bus and it is time to move on.
We are heading to Shediac Bay New Brunswick where we will enjoy a lobster dinner cruise. In the late afternoon we arrive at Shediac Bay, and we get on the lobster tour boat and head out on the bay. The captain has over 30 years of lobster fishing but had retired. He shows us how they catch lobsters and how each buoy in the water has each lobster fisherman’s colors so one doesn’t get another one’s catch or traps. He also shows what to look for when shopping for lobster and how to tell the difference between male and female lobsters (it’s all in the tail). Then we are served our lobster dinner and shown how to crack and eat a whole lobster. After dinner we sail around the bay and then it was back to the dock as the sun is setting, and on to our hotel in Moncton, New Brunswick. The hotel we are staying at is the Crown Plaza Moncton Downtown, and when we arrive they serve us some drinks to welcome us. This trip has been very educational in more ways than one, and you can learn something new all the time. I learned that since the weather is measured in celsius in Canada and in fahrenheit in the States to convert the two, you double the celsius temperature by two, then add 30 and that is the temperature in fahrenheit. I have to say thank you to my Canadian tour friends who taught me that.
We start off our second tour day by having a delicious buffet breakfast at the Crown Plaza and we are heading to Hopewell Rocks and the Fundy National Park. Hopewell Rock is where the water has made strange formations of the rocks. We were told by our tour guide that the tide comes in so high that it could fill the grand canyon. In fact during the summer months several species of whales come in and swim around the bay, before heading out to sea in the fall. Once again it is time to hit the road and we are now heading to Saint John New Brunswick for a city tour and see the reversing falls. We arrive at the reversing falls when the Bay of Fundy is at low tide. The Falls consists of the Saint John river flowing into the Bay of Fundy. When the tide of the bay is low, the river just flows right into the bay, but when the tide of the bay is high that is when the reversing effect happens and it causes very strong rapids. So strong in fact that a small boat would sink, but they have jet boats that you can take a tour on the river in, and they won’t sink due to their engine. When the tide was low we noticed that there was a seal swimming around the river and a fishing boat out on the water, not so when it was high. We stayed two nights in Saint John at the Hilton which is located at the Harbor. From our hotel window, we saw several cruise ships coming into port and then watch as the ships turned in full circle in the harbor, and head back out to sea and on to the next port. On the first night the whole tour group got together and we went out to a nice restaurant and had dinner courtesy of Atlantic tours. It is my second time of having scallops on the trip and won’t be my last!
Today we are heading to St. Andrews by-the -Sea, and it is there where we are going to see Whales! We are told that the normal tour boat is out for repairs, so we stop at (here comes a shameless plug, wait for it…) Canada’s favorite Timothy Hortons for a coffee break, while Robin is working and is able to get us another tour company to take us out in the bay, but that we will have to split the group up into two. First group before lunch, second group after so I volunteer for second group as I think it will be warmer. Wrong it was still cold after lunch heading out to where the whales are located in the bay. I have my trusty old Nikon D 50 camera with my 300 mm lens on it and it is wrapped around my neck, as I am not missing any whales.
Let me tell you I was not disappointed at all, we saw Minke and Finback whales (finback is the second largest whale), we also saw porpoises, seals and bald eagles.Afterward we stop at a local aquarium that has two harbor seals who perform for us while eating their fish, you can tell they are living the good life. At the aquarium they have both a blue color species of lobster and also orange color species of lobster (orange as in still alive and is orange color). It’s now back to the Hilton in Saint John’s as tomorrow is another busy day.
Today, it is our fifth day on the tour and while we head out of Saint John’s we stop by the reversing falls and see the high tide of the bay making the Saint John river reverse causing the rapids that I talked about earlier. We are going to take a ferry across the bay from Saint John’s New Brunswick to Digby Nova Scotia. The ferry name is the Princess of Arcadia and Arcadia and the Arcadians have a very interesting history in this part of the world. Even our lobster tour boat operator was of French Arcadian descent, we will learn more about them on the sixth day of our tour. Because right now we are on our way to Digby and Digby is famous as the scallop capital of the world (Yes I said The Scallop capital of the world).
When we arrive in Digby, we stop at the fishing docks and all of the fisherman are hustling around and loading up there boats with traps and their buoys and also making sure their boats are filled with gas. This is happening because the next day is the start of the lobster season and the first ones out will chances are get the best spots. Robin mentions that even some will be sleeping on their boats so that they can take off first thing in the morning. So we get out of there way and get back on our bus and Dave takes us to our hotel, well actually it is a Resort called The Digby Pines Golf Resort and Spa and it over looks the bay of fundy. Let me describe it this way, have you ever seen the movie Dirty Dancing and remember how the Catskill Resort in the movie looked? It was along that line except this resort made that one look like a Holiday Inn. The rooms had the decor of the 1920’s with modern furnishing like telephone and television. It was the last weekend for the season and then it was closing until the next summer. We had our last dinner together as our tour group this evening and remember what I said Digby is the capital of? So guess what I ordered for dinner, yes Scallops and they cooked them perfectly so that both the top and the bottom of the scallop was lightly browned.
Today is day 6 of our tour and it is our last tour day. The rest of the group is going on to Prince Edward Island after this tour. So it is sad as we have had so much fun and Cindy, I proud to say that she no longer felt like I took her to the end of the world. In fact she memorized everyone’s name, Cindy and I started on the tour sitting in the back of the tour bus and after a couple of days there was about three others who had joined us. If the dinner we had at the Digby Pines Golf Resort sounded good, then you would be in awe of the buffet breakfast they had for us, you name it and it was there. Now it is time to leave Digby and start heading to Halifax, but along the way we are going to stop today in Annapolis Valley and visit and winery where they make Ice Wine along with other wines and also visit Grand Pre which is the second UNESCO site on this tour. We stop at Grand Pre first and head into their visitors center and that is where we learn what the history of the Arcadians is and why Grand Pre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here is the history about the French Arcadians that I mentioned about earlier. You see the Acadians were the descendants of the 17th-century french colonists who had settled in what is now Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. Prior to the British Conquest of Arcadia in 1710, the Acadians lived for almost 80 years in Acadia. After the Conquest, they lived under British rule for the next forty-five years. During the French and Indian War, British colonial officers suspected their loyalty. The British, together with New England legislators and militia, carried out the Great Expulsion of 1755–1763 during the war years. They deported approximately 11,500 Acadians from the maritime region. Approximately one-third perished from disease and drowning. Later on, many Acadians returned to the Maritime provinces of Canada, Most who returned ended up in New Brunswick because they were barred by the British from resettling their lands and villages in the land that became Nova Scotia. After the United States victory in the American Revolutionary War, the Crown settled New England Planters and Loyalists in former Acadian communities and farmland. British policy was to assimilate Acadians with the local populations where they resettled. Acadians speak a dialect of French called Acadian French. (Information courtesy of Wikipedia)
Grand Pre was where a lot of the Arcadians who got deported (I guess that is what you would call it) lived and had their farms and raised their families and their live stock. It is quite a sobering part of history, and from the looks of everyone on the tour I think it affected all of us. After that it was good that our next stop was the tour and tasting at the local winery. Now here in California we have wineries all around us. But this winery located in the Annapolis Valley was interesting because I had never seen netting covering the grapes but I was told that is to keep the frost off. So I guess like all things you have to adjust to the situation or elements you are in. All I can say is the tour was interesting and the wine sure was good! But now it was on to Halifax and to say our goodbyes. After dinner Cindy and I hooked up with the group one last time and four of us enjoyed a farewell drink at the bar, and the next day the group was on to Prince Edward Island and Cindy and I were on our way to the airport in Halifax then to Toronto, then LAX, then home with our memories of our trip to the end of the world you know The Bay of Fundy…
Would I Recommend it?
In a Heart Beat, like I said in the beginning of this blog I am sure not a lot of people on the West coast have heard of the Bay of Fundy and what a shame, because with all that it has to offer it would or could be one of the best tours/vacations/trips/Travel Adventures you will ever take.