Harvey-the-RV  - Roadtrip 2009

 New Brunswick, Canada

21st - 23rd July 2009

We arrived at the Canadian border with a dilemma.     Should we, or should we not surrender our I-94 US departure cards in our passports to the Canadian border officials, as instructed on the back of the card?    Normally this would be a no-brainer particularly in view of the notices we'd read about hefty fines and consequences for not surrendering the cards on departing.   However, on our last road trip into Canada we had been given a serious telling-off on our return to the US for having handed our I-94s to the Canadians. In Detroit, apparently, Canada wasn't counted as leaving the US and we were told we should have kept our cards.    Finally, after discussion with our friendly Canadian border official at St. Stephen, we decided that the prospect of a telling-off on our return trip was better than the alternative and we left him with our valuable cards.   Harvey was excited to have made his first border crossing.

We visited the excellent visitor centre in St. Stephen.   We stood in line behind tourists from the States, obviously on their first venture abroad.   They were enquiring about how they could get some Canadian currency and were amazed to learn that the banks in Canada were able to carry out this transaction and that there was even the exciting possibility of getting Canadian currency direct from a Canadian cash machine (ATM).   It was an interesting perspective for the old hardened travelers!

Weary after all the border crossing excitement, we headed to New Beach Provincial Park, the equivalent of the US State Parks.    Located on the Fundy coast about half way from the border to the city of Saint John, the park offered a beautiful beach and coastal nature trail.    After setting up camp, we donned our hiking boots and set off to hike the trail around Barnaby head, which offered stunning coastal views and boardwalks through the interior of the peninsula.   Luckily the return was in the shelter of trees, so we didn't get too wet when the downpour started.

Hiking Barnaby Head Nature Trail at New River Beach Provincial Park.

The rain continued through the next day, so it seemed like a good city-visiting-day.    We headed to Saint John, eager to see the famous Reversing Falls, of which our yachting friends had spoken.    The tide in the Bay of Fundy, the highest in the world, was strong enough to reverse the direction of flow of the river.   Apparently this is a spectacular sight.   Unfortunately we were unable to see it for ourselves in thick fog, which made it impossible even to see down from the cliff to the river!   However, having originally set sail from the Severn Estuary in the UK, the second highest tidal range in the world, we were well able to imagine the scene.

It seemed we'd chosen the right city to visit on a rainy day.    The centre of Saint John was connected with a network of covered walkways, which made it possible to get around town without even getting wet.

After a traditional Canadian lunch of filled Greek pita bread, we were on the road again.   Still in heavy rain we were bound for the Fundy National Park, where we set up camp, ready to hike the next day, when the weather promised to improve.

The apparently spectacular Reversing Falls

The tunnels of Saint John which led us to the bustling city market without a soaking.


By the time we were set up, the rain had stopped and we were able to explore.    We took the Kinnie Brook trail, which started right behind our campsite and headed down a long stairway to the "disappearing stream".   In normal summer weather, the stream apparently suddenly disappeared into the rocky river bed.   However, due to the exceptionally wet weather and resulting high water levels, this was not the case but the walk was lovely through the lush floodplain and quite a work-out clambering back up all those steps!

On the wet road in Fundy National Park

Work-out on the Kinnie Brook Trail.

The next day dawned sunny and bright and made the most of it with two good hikes.    In the morning we took the Matthews Head trail, which took us by the ruins of a former homestead, through previously cultivated land reclaimed by nature to the stunning coast with its breath-taking views.

Matthews Head Trail along the Fundy Coast

En route to the next trail head, Harvey passed through his first covered bridge.    Many covered bridges, which are roofed to protect the wooden bridge structure from the elements, don't have enough clearance for Harvey and often we have to detour to avoid them.    

Our next trail took us to the ruins of an old copper mine.   The trail normally took a loop, meaning you didn't have to retrace your steps on the way back.   We were disappointed to find the return leg of the loop closed to foot traffic.    A resident nesting hawk had apparently taken a dislike to hikers passing near its nest and become aggressive, taking dives at walkers and forcing the Park to temporarily close the path!

We were hoping next to visit friends on Baddeck, Nova Scotia and decided we'd better give them a call.    Our US cell-phone stubbornly refused to pick up a signal in the area.    In Saint John we'd enquired about the possibility of buying a Canadian SIM card for our universal GSM phone and decided against it on learning this would cost $65 (in comparison to five pounds in the UK!).    We headed to the park's payphone, surely it couldn't be to pricey to call within Canada, to the next province.    We had a pocket full of quarters but were stunned on being instructed to insert $3.75 to make the call!   We certainly didn't have that much change.    Finally we found ourselves in the friendly information centre in the village of Alma, where we were finally able to use Skype to make our call!

It was all arranged, from the Fundy Park, we were bound for Nova Scotia.    When we first calculated the distance of our route with our trusty GPS, Mr Sulu, it seemed quite a short trip.   This, however, was "as the crow flies".   On recalculating with the "follow road" option it was to be a much longer trip, taking us all around the coastline of the head of the Fundy Bay, up to Moncton, location of the first river bridge crossing.  Here we joined the Trans-Canada Highway, which sped up our trip but quickly became tedious.    On our return we decided we'd take a back-roads route!

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