New Brunswick & Nova Scotia

by Bradrick J. Pretzer

Day One

Day Two

Day Three

Day Four

Day Five

Day Six


Day One

Old Pejepscot Wharf Though it sounded like a neat phenomenon to witness, the Reversing Falls were hardly spectacular. Clumps of rocks in the St. John River cause water to ripple when it flows over them. I suppose that the attraction is not really the falls themselves, but rather the fact that throughout the day they reverse direction. The Bay of Fundy has the largest tides in the world and as the tide rises and falls it consequently alters the level of the bay and eventually direction of flow of water over these rocks.

After haven driven many hours, seen an overly advertised site and enjoyed a couple hours of hiking in the Irving Nature Park I was ready to make my home for the night. The Century Farm Family Campground is only 1 mile outside of St. Martins making it extremely convenient to visit a few more sites after checking into the campground. I was the only tent camper that night, which I found very odd given it was the middle of June and nearing the height of the tourist season. When I woke up to frozen water bottles, I understood why I was alone. I was glad that I would not have to concern myself with campground reservations and crowded parks.

In the evening I visited the first of what was to become countless picturesque wharves. Being on the Bay of Fundy at low tide, the dock at the Pejepscot Wharf was void of standing water with the muddy ocean floor exposed. Most of the boats were out of the small harbor; the few that remained rested precariously on their keel sinking into the soft mud. The low tides afforded me an excellent opportunity to visit the caves just across one of the covered bridges.


Day Two

Along Fundy Trail Parkway I hadn't indented on visiting the Fundy Trail Parkway; however, with several people recommending it, I decided to see what it was about. The 10-mile drive, with my early morning coffee was extremely pleasant as I enjoyed the overlooks, fresh air and tranquility. The friendly folks in the interpretative center at the end of the road were kind enough to refill my coffee mug for the drive back.

I had built myself up for Fundy National Park and felt it was the real starting point for my tour of New Brunswick. Numerous waterfalls at the terminus of the third vault falls trail were incredible. Lined with lush green moss, lichens and vegetation the ladder like falls were highlighted by rays of sunlight making their way through the forest canopy. Along the entire length of the trail I was never disappointed with flora or fauna. As the guidebooks and locals agree, this is an incredible trail. There are several other trails within the park that I did not explore.

After working up quite a sweat in the Fundy National Park it was great to get the cool breezes from the oceanside locations of Alma and Cape Enrage. The weather there was at least 20 degrees cooler than in the Park and the winds were fierce. I enjoyed lunch in a cafe in Alma while overlooking the Bay of Fundy and Nova Scotia in the distance. I was beginning to think that I would never see calm weather and temperatures over 60 degrees again.

The Hopewell Rocks offered a tremendous display of the magnitude of the tides in the Bay of Fundy. Although New Brunswick is trying to make this a huge tourist and family stop with the cool weather and gray skies I was one of only a handful of visitors. There are short trails going right down to the water lever or muddy ocean floor, depending on the tides. At the bottom I looked up a gigantic rock formations that had been carved into interesting shapes by the ferocious tidal shifts in the bay.


Day Three

Along Cabot Trail Anxiety was beginning to get one over on me and I decided I had seen enough tourist spots near large cities and decided to press on to Cape Breton Island via the Sunrise Trail. The miles were accumulating more rapidly than I had anticipated in my original itinerary and I was feeling like I had spent too much time inside my car. At least I had nearly no chance of being lost since the tourist information center had well supplied me with maps and other information.

In the evening I did make a few stop offs from the Cabot Trail the along the Gulf of St. Lawrence to photograph and visit a small museum or two.


Day Four

5:00 A.M. is early, but with the sun being well up at this point, it wasn’t too painful. I was anxious to catch the red morning light for photographic opportunities on what is purported as the best portion of the Cabot Trail; the northwestern segment along the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The skies clouded early, robbing me of the crimson light and forced me to wait for better conditions. I lingered near French Lake where I watched a moose and her calf play in the water for over 20 minutes. This was the first time I had ever seen a moose. Later, I saw a bull moose in the road. The skies finally cleared, though not for long, and I got to take my pictures.

I made to the trip to the picturesque village of Bay St. Lawrence and the extremely remote Meat Cove. In the latter there are probably only a half dozen homes at the end of a 7-mile gravel road tucked in between the hills and water. I talked to a gas station attendant in Cape North and he expressed amazement that people live in places so remote as Meat Cove year-round. I ran into one resident, and he didn’t seem very happy and wasn’t at all talkative. This is probably why he lives here.

Outside of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, I was anxious to visit the Sydney Tar Ponds, one of the world’s worst environmental blunders. The local radio and newspapers mentioned them regularly. After learning; however, that they are closed to the public and can only be viewed, err smelled, from a distance I decided to bypass this site. The Atlantic Ocean will probably wash away this screw up over the next several hundred thousand years creating a different problem, so I am not pressed for time to come back for a visit.

With the miles ahead fewer, and the weather still poor, I hopped off the scenic route and steered on the highway to Truro. Here I found a great coffee shop, the Wooden Hog, and time to write. I was feeling full of quaint barns, rolling to mountainous landscapes falling dramatically into the ocean and rough, sometimes unpaved roads. The quicker pace of Halifax was beckoning me.

I am not exactly sure what got to me, but something snapped. Possibly, it was the weather being drab, cool, and raining or at least very damp. Perhaps a lack of sleep and the beginnings exhaustion were the source. Another candidate, and a strong contender at that, is far too much driving. At this point I had foolishly driven nearly 1300 miles in the past 4 days. I had considered loneliness might be gnawing at me; however, as Thoreau pointed out being alone does not induce loneliness. Furthermore, he recognizes that geographic proximity to others has nothing to do with this emotion. Actually, I enjoy my time alone and harbor it to an extent some would consider excessive. One of the benefits of my current employment arrangement is that it permits grand quantities of time alone.


Day Five

The Halifax Public Gardens were incredible. Nowhere near as large as New York’s Central Park or even the Boston Public Garden, this park is packed with incredible and fragrant blossoms. I roamed around this area a couple of times over enjoying the flowers and small ponds.

A great visit to the Citadel and touristy waterfront with the usual shops developed my huger so I stopped into a microbrewery for a late lunch. Here I enjoyed a great wheat beer and some excellent IPA from the brewmaster’s personal stash.

After a quick stop at the Titantic’s gravesite and the Swissair Flight 111 Memorial, I journeyed to Peggy's cove. This is a must see! I spent nearly six hours in this small village relaxing, soaking up the sun, and attempting to make a photograph. It was perfectly relaxing, if not a bit overly touristy.

Apparently I made quite an entrance into my chosen campground this evening. While doing a bit of low speed maneuvering to avoid another car on the trail to my campsite I put my front right tire into a ditch. The car wouldn’t budge and a quickly growing gathering of kids were laughing and pointing. One had the courage to say, “Hey mister, your tire is off the ground.” Indeed, the opposite rear tire had become airborne. At this point I was sure there was no hope of getting out of this alone. An older man on a tractor quickly arrived and pulled me back to a level position with all four tires comfortably adhering to the ground.

No sooner did I get out of my car than an unshaven man with a cigarette in one hand and beer in the other showed up at my site. It was my fellow swamp dweller, John. I had been assigned a camping spot near the water, which was more of a swamp really. John quickly invited me over for a beer, which I accepted after setting up my tent to dry from the previous night’s rain. During the course of our conversation I learned quite a bit about the man who drives a front-end loader turning a compost pile and waxes floors. He recently got back with his wife of 16 years after a 2-year break. He has two daughters, one who is 14, and he sure is prostituting herself. She dates a 17 year-old convicted car thief of Mexican descent. The other daughter, 11, is dating a black man, which infuriates John. I suppose that this is why these two were expelled out of the dilapidated trailer and into their own tent. I inquired if they had Internet access and was told no way, as it would most likely lead to the younger daughter also becoming a prostitute. I had an interesting time with John and his family.


Day Six

With all the miles I have been putting behind me I have listened to lots of music, lectures on CD and radio programming. Two topics have dominated the news. Same-sex marriages have been legalized in Ottawa and the Canadians are really pissed-off that the two US pilots that shot and killed four Canadian soldiers were not court-martialed. Of course, these topics have been covered so much at this point it is not only quite redundant, but also no longer considered news in my view. I wonder how much coverage the US pilot issue is receiving in the US.

Continuing with the Canadian political issues and how they differ from those of the US I learned last night that in Canada it is now legal to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana. Not that I intend to begin smoking pot; however, I find this very interesting and pursuant with my theory that Canadians will gladly allow you to kill yourself, just don’t take anybody with you. Perhaps they have been reading part 14 of the US Code of Regulations; otherwise known as the Federal Aviation Regulations.

I had a great time talking with Lynette at the Smitty’s restaurant in Amherst. Over several cups of coffee we covered US and Canadian domestic and international politics, life in general and travel. The variety of individuals that I meet on the road never ceases to intrigue and excite me.

Today is the longest day of the year, the Summer Solstice. Over the past few years I have felt a unique energy and sadness on this day. It seems so early in the summer for the days to begin growing shorter. There are many activities occurring in Canada, especially Whitehorse, YT and beyond in a northerly direction. This is, of course, the land of the midnight sun. On the opposite side of the calendar, they experience the misfortune of the shortest day, or longest, never ending really, night of the year. Again, Whitehorse, as many northern locales, comes through with a celebration appropriately named The Longest Night. A radio station I found had some of Ivan E. Coyote’s storytelling from last year’s celebration. I have heard some of her stories before and cannot help but become transfixed by her voice. Following was Garrison Keillor, the host of A Prairie Home Companion, who presented a several hour piece from Kalamazoo, MI that I found on another FM station. I slipped into a state of unusual relaxation and overall calmness as I completed my return drive to Boston.