After the Canadian Cross Country Road Trip
ARTICLE #4: Over The Bridge And Onto The Mainland Of New Brunswick
With the beauties that lie in the vast province of Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island forever imprinted in my memory, the Canadian Cross Country Road Trip had started towards a fantastic direction. The coastal views of the Atlantic ocean, the soft sandy beaches, the mountain landscape, the rich and dense forests, this part of Canada is without a doubt worth making the travel too. With that, the Maritime bliss wasn't over yet. As I’m crossing the Confederation Bridge heading southbound, the mainland is slowly making an appearance in front of me. The mainland being New Brunswick.
The only place that I’ve been in New Brunswick is Saint John. A beautiful coastal town on the North-East end of the Bay Of Fundy, this is the second largest city in the Maritimes. There’s the Fundy Rose Ferry that crosses from Saint John to Digby, Nova Scotia. I got on the Fundy Rose when I heading east from Edmonton in June to get home quicker. The additional payoff of doing that was getting to smell the fresh ocean air after spending most of my time in the prairies. Onto Highway 16 and then North-West on Highway 15, I headed towards Shediac. Having the biggest lobster monument I’ve ever seen (according to Wikipedia the sculpture weighs 90 tons), this is one of the few Acadian towns that I got to see on my travels.
The Hopewell Rocks was my destination of the day. Located on the northern shores of the Bay of Fundy and south of Moncton, these massive stone structures are a product of the Bay’s tidal strength that’s made this part of Canada so well known. Standing between forty to seventy feet tall, you walk down a set of stairs and get on the beach next to these fascinating rock pillars. The water was low when I got there. The tides in this area can fill in as far as fifty feet in height. One of the drawbacks of such a dramatic change happened in March of this year when one of the rock formations, the Elephant Rock, collapsed. The fallen structure left anywhere between one to two hundred tons of stone on the ground. It showcases a sad reminder that some of these natural marvels don’t last forever.
Taking as much of the location as I could, I eventually made route towards where I was going to camp for the night. West of the town of Alma, Fundy National Park is a gorgeous location with beautiful dense forests, coastal scenery, and peaceful lakes. I set up camp where I was going to stay for the night. Being it was still early, I decided to head out to find a lake to take some potential sunset photos. On my way out I was driving with the sun behind me. Clear skies, comfortable temperature, ideal weather to end a lovely day. With the sun setting down over the horizon, I noticed the shadow of my car by the road. Suddenly something caught my eye. The shadow of my car off the side of the road didn’t look right; it looked bigger than usual. I went around a curve, and that’s when I noticed that my cargo carrier on my roof was completely open. Finding the nearest spot to pull off the road, I got out of the car, looked into the cargo carrier to see if anything fell out, and I was relieved to see I wasn’t missing anything. I was fortunate not to have lost anything and have anyone following me. With a hard lesson learned from that day forth, I've double checked the cargo carrier to make sure it was properly closed before each departure.
Day two came in the form of a beautiful sunrise and a French photographer that was deep in la-la land not taking advantage of such a beautiful opportunity. Breaking my tent down, which is something I’ve developed into a timed challenge throughout the trip, I started my route north on Highway 114, eventually westbound towards Sussex, and then having complete trust in my GPS to get back on the Trans Canada Highway. My first stop was Fredericton. The capital of New Brunswick with a population of around 56 000 people, this was my first stop of the day. There’s a great abundance of artistic culture within the area with art galleries and venues and museums to check out. The Playhouse was one location recommended to check out because of the numerous events for local and touring musicians, theatre acts, and dance that gets hosted in this venue. Despite being interested in the arts, I had a fair deal of distance to cover to get to my final destination that day. On the course of my travels on Highway 2, I saw a sign that led to the Hartland Bridge. I took the off ramp towards the town that hosts the bridge and was amazed at what I had found. Stretching at 1282 feet, this is the world’s longest covered bridge. Jackpot. The construction of the bridge started in 1901, replacing a ferry which was the only means to cross the Saint John River. Having the opportunity to pass on a structure that’s 115 years old is an excellent way to fulfill a traveling day.
My destination was Mount Carleton Provincial Park. Home of the highest mountain peak in the Maritimes, this 42 000 acres forest paradise would do just fine for a night’s stay. Driving through the dirt roads that eventually get you to the gate, I noticed I didn’t have cell phone reception which isn’t a big deal, especially when it comes to camping. If you ever happen to get in a situation like that and you’re camping alone, take the time to send a text or post online of your current status, your family and friends will appreciate it. I arrived at my campsite for the night and got my tent set up. There was a sense of liberation with disconnecting my ties from the outside world. I spend lots of time on my cell phone like most of us do, but when you’re facing an area as gorgeous as Mount Carleton with the Appalachians landscape surrounding beautiful clear lakes, it doesn’t take long to forget that tie you think you have in the electronic world. I looked over the map that laid out the trails that we’re in the area. Mount Sagamook, standing at 2549 feet tall, was my pick because of its stunning views. That night a thunderstorm rolled in, and the rain trickled down onto my tent from the tree branches that I was using for added shelter. That was one of the best sleep I’d had throughout this trip.
The next morning rose with the dark overcast from the thunderstorm the night before. I was eager to get going on this hiking trail that so many have talked about. I packed my camping gear, drove to the parking area by Mount Sagamook and with all my camera gear ready I was on my way. The trails I grew accustomed too we’re easy to moderate trails that we’re beautiful and flat and well groomed. The trails on Mount Sagamook were a little different. If you want a great hiking experience that’s challenging, this is one great location to come too. Switchbacks with soft terrain to rocky surfaces to climbing over boulders, it was a proper hike for someone that wasn’t in great physical shape. The fast food diet didn’t pay me off, unfortunately. I brought my rain coat which got handy since the tree branches around the trails we’re wet. The trails continued upwards in various terrain that eventually started to level off. The pathway teed off in two directions. One way was the continuation of the trail, while the other went to a lookout point. Feeling like I got my fill of hiking since I’d need to walk back down to my car, I went towards the lookout point. After walking up what seemed like forever, I got to lay my eyes on something truly beautiful. It took some time to register what I was facing. The rolling landscape was so dense with trees as far as the eye could see. There was a beautiful lake sitting nearby the lookout area. After regaining my attention as to why I was here, I got my camera out and let nature do what it does best. At times like this, you have to be in the present moment to fully embrace and immerse yourself into the pulse that places like this have. You’re standing in an area that has living entities that share the same air and earth and water as you do. Moments like these are meant to be experienced and remembered.
With another location documented and experienced, I made my way down the trail. I didn’t recall much of the descent because my mind was still in the state of tranquillity from spending time at that lookout point. I got to my car and made my way out of the park and onto highway 385, then highway 180, and then highway 17, and finally northbound on the Trans Canada Highway. The experience that I got from New Brunswick was a little different from the previous two provinces. This province is a tremendously beautiful location to come too. Having that time to see some of the Acadian communities within my travel was fantastic to see since I don’t have a tremendous exposure to my family's culture while living in the west of Canada. I couldn’t pinpoint what was different with my visit in New Brunswick, but I knew a shift happened with my time spent in Mount Carleton. Taking the time to connect with what surrounded me in that present moment, an entity as powerful as nature becoming a part of my headspace, had a profound impact on me that I wanted to continue pursuing. With that in mind, it was time to say farewell for now to New Brunswick, and head towards my next province, Quebec.