Thursday, July 30, 2015

Fundy National Park, New Brunswick, Canada

View from the overlook at Dickson Falls Trailhead.
Fundy National Park in New Brunswick is located on the eastern border of the province along the Bay of Fundy.  The park covers nearly 80 square miles and includes 25 hiking trails, 2 dozen waterfalls, a covered bridge, forest, beaches and bogs.  Here you will experience Fundy's incredible 50 foot tidal changes that allow you to walk the ocean floor at low tide.
The Fundy National Park has campgrounds, a golf course, a heated saltwater swimming pool, fishing lakes, and playgrounds.
The Park is home to bear, moose, bobcat, marten, coyote and ruffled grouse. We did see a ruffled grouse and a variety of birds, but no Rocky or Bullwinkle which disappointed me greatly.
Fundy's protected lands serve as the core of the Fundy Biosphere Reserve and it has been designated a Dark Sky Preserve.
The closest settlement is the Village of Alma on the northeastern edge of the park.

Fred and I drove through Fundy National Park on our way to Hopewell Cape. That exposure gave us a great overview of the layout of the land.
We visited again on Saturday to walk some trails. We chose 3 short walks that gave us a look at different areas of the park. The 3 trails that we walked Dickson Falls, Point Wolfe, and Herring Cove Beach are all considered moderate.

Topographical Marker at Dickson Falls Overlook 

Dickson Falls is a 1 1/2 km loop that winds through a forest of evergreens and birch.  It is very close to the water. There is an overlook at the trail head that allows a spectacular view of  "where the ocean meets the forest". The first thing that we noticed as we started walking the trail is the wonderful scent of fir trees combined with the salty smell of the sea. It is like Christmas at the ocean and is a scent that I will always associate with Fundy.
The trail is a combination of root filled dirt walkways with staircases and boardwalks to cross water, scale cliffs and to protect more delicate areas. It is very shady. Moss and ferns are the primary ground cover.  The pathway follows and crosses over the Dickson Brook so the sound of water running over rocks accompanied our walk. 

Moss covered rocks and a babbling brook.

The falls consist of one long drop that breaks into several smaller falls before disappearing into the brook. The moss covered rocks and falling water make a beautiful environment. It is an enchanting place and one that we will want to visit again.

Dickson Falls
Point Wolfe trail begins at Fundy's covered bridge.  There was once a Sawmill and logging town located here and you can still see remnants of an old dam below the bridge.  The trail is a combination of staircases and dirt paths.

Fred and Rascal on the Point Wolfe Trail.
There are beautiful views of the forest leading down to the sea. We were there at low tide and saw acres of beach covered by Fundy's red sand and clay.

Fundy's Red Chairs are great for a little rest.
Fundy National Park Service has recently placed red Adirondack chairs at observation points throughout the park where beautiful views are meant to be enjoyed. There are a pair of them near the top of the trail and we had a nice little rest that soothed our souls as well as our soles.
At the trail end you can choose to turn around and retrace your steps, or walk back to the parking area on the paved Park Road.

Herring Cove Trail is a beach. The trail leads down the cliff to the water via another wooden staircase. It is best to visit at low tide. I usually walk barefoot at the beach but there are a lot of rocks here and being that it is the bottom of the ocean 50% of the time, they are covered with barnacles. Don't wear your good shoes. The beaches here are a mixture of red sand and clay and that mix discolors them.  The beach is a great place to walk. It is interesting to see the crabs and snails in tide pools and to see what the water has left behind.

Disturbing Beach find.
 We came across a creepy heavy clay covered rope tied into a circle that looked like a noose.  It really made me wonder!

The rock formations remind me of melting chocolate
My favorite part of the beach were the rock formations at the sides of the cove. The red sedimentary rock looks like melting chocolate oozing off the cliff.

Cliff caves.
There are shallow caves that have been worn into and behind the rocks by the force of the water. 

To return to the parking area you may climb back of the staircase or walk a dirt and root filled path that meanders along the cliff and crosses a brook with its own tiny waterfall.

Fundy National Park is a National treasure of Canada. We are enjoying our visit and hope to get back to the park for another longer hike before heading to Nova Scotia.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick, Canada

The Hopewell Rocks in New Brunswick have been on my wish list of places to visit for more than 30 years.  They came to my attention when I was working the overnight shift as a Registered Nurse in a medium sized community hospital in Upstate New York. One of my patients was a gentleman traveling through town when he became quite ill, requiring him to be admitted to our ICU.  He was understandably nervous and frightened about his health situation and it made him more comfortable to have someone to talk to. I listened for hours as he told me about his recent trip to the Canadian Maritimes.
The parts of that conversation that stuck with me for so long were his descriptions of the "Flower Pot Rocks", New Brunswick's own natural wonder.

The Hopewell Rocks are located in the Bay of Fundy which experiences that most extreme tidal changes in the world. The difference between high and low tides in the bay is 39 feet on average.

The rock formations are 40-70 feet tall. Many of them have trees and other vegetation on top. The portions of the rock that are below the high tide mark have been eroded over time by the turbulence of the tides.

We visited the Rocks at low tide so that we could see them completely. It was amazing to move around them, literally walking on the floor of the ocean. It was an amazing experience to be in a place that you know would be under more than 30 feet of water in 3 hours.

Looking at the top heavy rocks on their stony stalks I don't know if I will ever think of an island in quite the same way.

We wandered along the muddy beach peering into shallow caves and walking under a rock arch. There were Park personnel keeping track of the time and as the tide started to rise they shepherded the crowd closer to the staircase that would bring us back to the top of the cliff.

The Rangers made a point to tell everyone of the danger of the tide, but also how to stay safe if you were unexpectedly trapped.  Their instructions to find a rock surface close to the stairs above the high tide mark and wait for 3-4 hours for the tide to start to recede. These words were received with dismay by some, while others started to plan how to get "left behind".

Best quote of the day: Two young sisters were listening to the Ranger, one burst into tears and screamed for her Mother. The older sister, obviously embarrassed by this behavior, walked away shouting "Would you relax Tessa? It's not like we're going to die or anything."

The incoming tide continued to push us toward the stairs. Yes we all made it out safely, even Tessa.

We made it to an observation deck along the cliff to watch the rest of the tide come in.  The tide change seemed pretty passive. There were no waves or explosive rushes of water. It was only when you focused on a particular point on a rock or the cliff face that you realized how fast the water was moving.

The water seems dirty. It has a reddish brown color from oxidized iron in the surrounding bedrock. The Petitcodiac River located nearby in Moncton is nicknamed the Chocolate River due to it's unique coloration.

High tide came. The rocks are still lovely, their green leafy tops on top of the rock base visible above the tide line give them their name the "Flowerpots"

Kayaking the rocks at high tide is possible through a local company. We will return another day for that experience.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Drive Around Maine's Mount Desert Island

Thursday July 16th was our last full day on Mount Desert Island and we wanted to do some exploring of the perimeter on the Island, outside of the Acadia National Park loop. Mount Desert Island is one of the largest islands on the Eastern Seaboard. At 108 square miles it is second only to Long Island.
It contains Acadia National Park.
The Island's year round population of 10,000 people swells during fine weather months as over 2 million tourists visit each year.

Our journey began along Route 102 through the lovely villages of Somesville and Tremont admiring the Victorian architecture, lush gardens and spectacular water views.

The towns are small and unique.
The Somesville Library has an outdoor reading area with comfortable looking wood benches that overlook Somes Sound, the only fjord in the continental United States.
The US Coastguard Station at Bass Harbor Head  Lighthouse is a short drive from Rte 102 and the turnoff is well marked.

The lighthouse, established in 1858, is an active aide to navigation. It is 32 feet high and the towers location on a 24 foot cliff makes the sightline 56 feet.  Bass Harbor Light is equipped with a forth order Fresnel lens and an automated fog horn.   It's oscillating red light can be seen for 13 nautical miles.
Bass Harbor Head Light from the Lighthouse Trail.

The lighthouse itself is not open to the public but the grounds are. The keepers house is occupied by coastguard personnel. That Coastie and their family have a great place to live and marvelous views out their front windows. Still it must be difficult to have dozens of people traipsing about your yard on a daily basis.
 Lighthouse trail is a short walk that winds along the coastal cliff and allows access (by stairs) to the dangerous and lovely pink granite rocks that made this lighthouse necessary along the shore of Mount Desert Island.
Warning beacon shrouded in fog.
The irregular clanging bell of a warning beacon was an eerie, musical accompaniment to our progress along the cliff.
Back on the road we continued along Route 102 past the Seawalls and Manset to Southwest Harbor.
Southwest Harbor is a fishing village that is home to some magnificent sailing ships.
Our drive continued past Echo Lake and Somesville where we picked up Rte 3 to explore the Northern portion of MDI.

We came upon a familiar looking beach in Seal Harbor, and realized that it was a favorite play area for our girls when we visited 32 years ago on a FamiLee Vacation.   Fred and I reminisced about parking the car in a sand turnoff and being horrified that the girls took off running across the street to the water while we were still getting the blanket and towels and various beach supplies out of the car. The tide was out then as it was today and had left wonderful tide pools that we perfect for small childrn to play in, and much warmer than the ocean water.

The beach is more developed now with a playground and an actual parking lot but the atmosphere was the same.  We spent an hour walking the sand and looking at all the rocks and other detritus left behind by the falling tide.
The drive along route 3 took us back through Bar Harbor before returning to the campground.  It was an enjoyable day spent near the water.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Bar Harbor

The view from Agamont Park near the Harbor

Bar Harbor is a great seaside town full of shops, restaurants and things to do. 
The local shuttle buses sponsored by LLBean run every 30 minutes so we hoped on one at the campground and rode into town to spend a few hours walking around.
The bus left us off at Village Square in Bar Harbor.  It is a lovely park full of gardens
and plenty of green space for playing.
We enjoyed a pleasant walk down to the harbor where the water views are spectacular. There were boats of all kinds coming in and out of the harbor. We spotted lobster boats and a big Sailboat as well as small pleasure craft.
Along the way we passed a great Deli, 2 coffee shops, some boutique style clothing stores, and those with the usual touristy souvenirs. There were many places that provided supplies and encouraged sports activities like bike riding, kayaking and rock climbing.
There is a great place to eat in town called the Route 66 Diner.
It has a fun atmosphere and great food. The building itself is put together from several salvaged places.

It has part of a church, pieces of an actual Route 66 diner and American Antiques and collectibles everywhere. The bar is an old soda Fountain.
Booth lighting made from old Melamine dishes.

Each booth had its own volume control
 We were delighted to be able to adjust the volume of the fifties and sixties background music using an old Drive In Theater speaker.
Fred ordered a lobster roll and I had fried Haddock. We shared them. Both were delicious and served with hand cut fries that reminded us of Thrashers in Ocean City.

Fred's delicious lobster roll and hand cut fries. 
It was a wonderful day and a nice touristy contrast to the open spaces and beautiful vistas of Acadia National Park.
There are never too many harbor views

Monday, July 13, 2015

Acadia National Park: Cadillac Mountain

The Porcupine Islands from a scenic overlook on the Summit Highway.
I was having a conversation with my Mom on Sunday about our favorite places.
We discussed seashore and mountain places that we had both visited and how she never could decide which she liked better.
Mom now I know why you always liked visiting Maine. It has the best of both, mountains that reach right down to the coastline.

Jordan Pond
We are in Maine on Mount Desert Island in the Acadia National Park.
Saturday we took a drive into the park and to the top of Cadillac Mountain.
There are several hiking trails of moderate to extreme difficulty that we chose not to challenge.
Cadillac Mountain is  1,530 feet high, making it the the tallest point along the North Atlantic seaboard and one of the first places in the United States that sees the sun rise.
The views from the summit are spectacular. It is wonderful sight to look out over the mountain to see Bar Harbor far below, beyond them the Porcupine Islands and far beyond them another mountain range.

Bar harbor and the Porcupine Islands from the summit.
We stopped at several scenic overlooks on the Summit Highway which gave us views of Egg Rock Lighthouse, Jordan Pond, and the Porcupine Islands at low tide.
Rascal and Fred at the top of the world (our part of it anyway)

During low tide a sand bar is exposed that allows you to walk out to bar Island from Bar Harbor. Many people seemed to be enjoying that stroll on Saturday, most of them hunched over looking at the ground in a beach treasure hunters posture. I am not sure whether they gathered shells, beach glass or Mussels for dinner but they seemed to be having a good time.

Hikers cairn at the summit of Cadillac Mountain.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Maine Wildflowers

Mountain Laurel was thriving at the top of Cadillac Mountain

Traveling North has given us an extended view of the blooming season from Georgia to Maine.
It has been a beautiful journey (all sneezing aside) and we have enjoyed watching the roadside fields and ditches for wildflowers and the birds and butterflies that enjoy them.
These are some of the beauties that we have been seeing in Maine.

Lupines in coastal Maine

A perennial favorite, Queen Anne's Lace
The air was full of the scent of Milkweed calling butterflies.

Perennial Sweet Pea

Friday, July 10, 2015

Marginal Way, Ogunquit Maine

Overlooking Perkins Cove
Ogunquit means Beautiful Place by the Sea in the Abanaki language, and this tiny seaside village lives up to the name.
The Marginal Way is a 1 1/2 mile paved walkway between Ogunquit and Perkins Cove.
The cliff edged path is a paved walkway that provides spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean. The Perkins cove end of the walkway is shaded with a canopy of evergreens that have been sculpted by wind and storms to overhang the path. Beach roses in bright pink and white border the path adding a sweet fragrance to the ocean air.

White  Beach Roses

Pink Beach Roses


There are oceanfront homes with formal gardens to the left and the ocean to the right as you head toward Ogunquit.
The Ogunquit end of the Marginal Way is bright and more exposed to the sun. Here you will find steep cliffs and amazing rock formations with the sandy expanse of Ogunquit and Moody beaches in the background.

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We saw lobster boats, sailboats, kayaks and paddleboards.
Vacationers were enjoying the beach, climbing the rocks and sitting of benches to rest a while.
Seagulls flew overhead and ducks floated in the surf.

We were pleased to see that there was a gardening effort underway to remove invasive nonnative species and restore native plants.
It is a happy place and one that is beautiful in all seasons. We have walked it in the Spring and Fall and found it to be just as lovely.

Ogunquit Beach

The Marginal way is a paved 1 1/2 mile walkway.
The walk is easy but bring water in warmer weather.
It is handicapped and stroller accessible.
No dogs allowed during the Summer months.
No roller skates, rollerblades or skateboards.