Crossing the Bay of Fundy to New Brunswick
Road Diary update from New Brunswick, Canada. Click here to read my previous Road Diary update from this road trip around Maritime Canada.
A few days ago Chris (my videographer and sidekick on this road trip) and I boarded a ferry in Digby, NS and crossed the mighty Bay of Fundy into New Brunswick. This would mark my seventh Canadian province and continue my maritime road trip.
The ferry crossing was around 2.5 hours, and while I’ve been on many ferries before, none were quite as nice as this one. There were plenty of areas on the ship to relax with many different seating configurations. Whether you wanted to watch a movie on a big screen, get some work done using the on-board wi-fi, grab something to eat, or simply enjoy the outdoor seating and viewing area to feel the wind in your face and search for whales and other sea life, there was a place for every desire.
The day was waning, it was around 7:30pm when we arrived on to the shores of New Brunswick. We made our way to Saint John where we would stay a couple of nights at the Hilton, which provided some fantastic views of the Bay of Fundy right from our rooms. It was late, so after checking in we went to look for a place to eat. We could hear music playing along the boardwalk, so we walked in that direction. Right behind where the music was playing was the Saint John Ale House, which looked good to us. The Ale House is like a hip pub, but their pub-style food is much more refined, using local ingredients from the land and sea.
The next day we were off to explore a bit of Saint John. We walked along the boardwalk and through the historic downtown, stopping in the oldest continuous farmers market in North America (dating back to 1876). The building in which the market is housed looks a bit like the inside of an inverted ship.
Our next stop of the day was a pleasant surprise, the folks at Discover Saint John where able to get us a sneak peak at their newest attraction that is not yet open to the public…the Skywalk Saint John. This will be the third of three Skywalks in North America, and its 110′ straight down view is of the Reversing Rapids. This unique natural phenomenon is created by the collision of the powerful tides of the Bay of Fundy and the mighty Saint John River. While there was still some construction work being done, it was really cool to have this new attraction all to ourselves. I ended up doing a Facebook live post that generated some 15,000 views in short order. Clearly there is a lot of interest in seeing the Skywalk open.
The Reversing Rapids were not in full swing, so we made our way back to downtown Saint John to hop on a Harbor sightseeing tour. During our tour we discovered a pretty interesting story. Well-known artist Sean Yoro, painted a massive mural on one of the sea walls. What makes this so interesting is that the mural disappears at high tide and reveals itself during low tide. So many questions swirled through my head as this story was being shared. For example, how the heck did the guy accomplish this creative and complex task? Apparently Sean painted during low tides while balancing on a paddle board, this way he would raise up as the tide came in. He also experimented and created an Eco-friendly, quick-dry paint that would stick to the sea wall and cure as the water covered his work twice a day. It took 9 grueling days to complete. Sean’s mural was finished just a few weeks before my visit to Saint John. This public art painting is not meant to last forever, because nothing does. Even as I saw it, I could see it had faded quite a lot from photos I saw. Nonetheless, a pretty interesting sight and story.
Our tour boat made its way toward the Reversing Rapids, just below Skywalk Saint John. It was cool to have a perspective from the water, of both the Skywalk, as well as the Reversing Rapids. This incredible sight generates massive waves and swirling whirlpools. Of course our tour boat stayed a safe distance away.
After our Harbor Tour we jumped in the car and headed to St. Martins, about a 40 minute drive from Saint John. We learned that this is a wonderful area to explore sea caves at low tide, and also provides some great kayaking as the tide rises.
As we entered a pseudo parking lot near the sea caves, we discovered quite a few cars, so I tried to make my way to the back end of the parking area. Apparently, I drove just beyond the undesignated parking area, toward the sea. All of a sudden, as I was turning the car back toward a spot to park, the vehicle lost traction. The wheels just began to spin…we were utterly stuck in a cluster of river rocks and sand. Try as we might, we were unable to free the car. By this point, a number of people were strolling by and looking at the idiot who got his car stuck. In my defense, there were no signs warning drivers not to veer farther beyond this point of no return. The surface in which I was driving looked solid enough. It apparently was not.
We had a kayaking tour set up later that afternoon, so I thought perhaps I would call to see if they had a truck in which they could pull us free. Just as I was about to make the call, I turned toward the back of the car and there was a guy underneath, attempting to attached a chain. I could not believe our luck! This thoughtful stranger began to help without even uttering a word. In no time, we were free from the impassable area. I attempted to compensate the gentlemen, but he would not accept anything but a thank you. He wouldn’t even tell me his name, he just vanished the same way he appeared. Canadians have a reputation around the world for being nice, and this is just one example to support that claim.
After all of this excitement, Chris and I were famished, so we had lunch at The Caves Restaurant before going off to explore the caves themselves. It was a pretty cool experience to walk on the sea floor and explore all the nooks and crannies that are covered for a good part of the day.
We had a couple of hours before our kayaking tour, since we needed to wait for the tide to come in a bit, so we hopped back in the car to do some exploring of the area and get some aeiral footage for our videos. As 3:30pm rolled around, we made our way to Red Rock Adventures to get checked in for our tour. We were paired up with Nick, one of the co-owners of the company. After getting some instruction, we climbed in our respective crafts and set off to explore the Caves and other areas of the Bay of Fundy. It was such a fantastic day and the scenery from the water was stunning.
After a couple of hours we paddled back to the harbor where we found a completely different scene before us. When we left, many of the boats at nearby docks were sitting on the ocean floor, when we arrived back, they were afloat. The Bay of Fundy has the highest and lowest tides in the world. The various places in New Brunswick to experience this provide for some really interesting experiences. Take for example the fact that we got to explore these sea caves at low tide on foot, then later in the day explore them by kayak. Cool stuff!
Nick had heard Chris and I talking about getting some drone footage and offered to take us to what he thought would be a great vantage area. We drove up to the top of this hill, parked our vehicles and took a lovely hike to the edge of the cliffs that we had just paddled by. The views as you can see were extraordinary. We had such a great time with Nick and would highly recommend his company Red Rock Adventures for myriad activities in New Brunswick.
That evening, back in Saint John, we had a fantastic meal at East Coast Bistro. The husband and wife duo that own the restaurant focus on making refined maritime cuisine in an elegant setting in the heart of downtown Saint John.
Tomorrow, we hit the road once again and head to St. Andrews, so please stay tuned. Click here to read the next Maritime road trip Road Diary update.