Monday, September 30, 2013

Prince Edward Island

Ever in the search of cooler weather we continued north.  We crossed into Nova Scotia  and did not find much cool weather this summer as soaring heat waves seem present even in the farthest north corners of the planet.  We took the Confederation Bridge that links Nova Scotia to Prince Edward Island.  This 8 mile bridge, the largest over frozen ice,   is far shorter than the bridge I take to go to Tampa  Airport to pick up friends but ours is not over the frozen North Atlantic.  

This little gem of an island was really more a piece of fiction that reality.  All I knew about PEI really came from Anne of Green Gables.  I think that is all that most people know of PEI.  We were headed for PEI National Park.  Three parks along the north coast of the island all seemed proper and haphazardly we selected Cavendish, forgetting its association with the Green Gable world.  The campground was along the north shore of the island supposedly the warmest beaches in Canada.  I never made it into the water past my ankles.  I knew I would eventually be in Vermont and enjoy swimming in warm not salty lake water (nothing more delicious).  

Don't think that it was as beautiful and clear as pictured in the images.  We had escaped Fundy National Park with a day of rain.  We arrived ahead of the rain and enjoyed a day or two of rain before it started pouring.  Fortunately, we took one of our tarps and used it to cover the eating area.  Forget that we were just camping with minimal equipment.  All around us other campers had mosquito pavilions that covered an entire play area and a full size picnic table and cooking area.  We felt like the Beverly Hillbillies even though I did not want any more things to carry.  We could take down camp in less than an hour and move on.  People with fancy equipment spent hours each time arranging their possessions.

From the images below you can see we did not suffer too much.  I had purchased a few begonia plants in New Brunswick which served to decorate our own campground as you can see in the picture with Limo below.

Marti had brought a few more things to make camping tolerable.  I made a little fun of her and her traveling equipment, but I always tried to remember that she was still doing this being over twenty years older than me and that, my friends, is what camping is all about.  We shared a passion for nature and discovering new places and in this part of the world this was the way to do it.

One day I woke up and Marti who is primarily a morning person had bacon and french toast ready for me.  What else can you ask?

The shore where we were was all about wonderful endless dunes.  The only problem was that we were surrounded by Ann of Green Gables World and all manner of other amusements that even included Mounties and it all seemed part of the Canadian equivalent to Orlando where tourist attractions wage war to attract paying customers.  

Part of the National Park this Ann and Aunt Shirley characters talk to visitors viewing the very real landscape of Lucy Maud Montgomery the rest is like a studio  set with numerous gift shops.

When you left the immediate area of Cavendish you discovered a most distinctive landscape filled with working farms, summer cottages, and fishing industry.

One day I escaped to Charlottetown to see the historic provincial capital.  I discovered a thriving town but most importantly I discovered the place where the Canadian  Confederation was first discussed and created.  The building was not really much but what it stood for was really impressive.  Canada is a unique country in that it recognizes its similarities and its differences.  Here is where that thinking started and the meeting room was the first place where French and English Canadians came together to make a new nation. 

On a less nationalistic note, I discovered a cottage I would have loved to call my summer home.

We were always near the water while camping, whether by a lake, a stream or an ocean.  At Prince Edward Island we were tormented by mosquitos and a storm of tropical proportions.  When the storm cleared the ocean crystal clear and the light was magnificent.  The full moon loomed.  No painting or artist could have invented the colors we experienced at the shore of PEI -Cavendish National Park.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Bay of Fundy

Our trip north from Campobello took us by ferry to the mainland of Canada.  This alternative allowed us to remain in Canada instead of going back to the US driving and then re-entering Canada.  The trip we took allowed us to travel by small ferry to Deer Island and then take a free Provincial to the mainland of New Brunswick.  We drove to St. John and saw a few sites and got to a bank.  In Campobello we had operated in dollars, but for the trip we were now undertaking we would need to have Canadian currency.  St John's major natural feature is a gorge that due to the extreme tides reverses itself and causes "reversible waterfalls".  We only got to see them flow in one direction and waiting for the reverse would take 12 hours.  We figured in our long trip we would experience the tides in their full effect.  St John also offered our first experience with French speaking Canadians.  The province is the only province to be bi-lingual and recognizes both French and English in equal merit.  

Our arrival at Fundy National Park exposed us to what are the most dramatic tidal changes in the planet.  The Bay of Fundy experiences tidal changes that are in the order of 50 feet  in the most extreme locations.  It was not hard to see changes as we went around hiking and exploring throughout the national park.  The shore would appear as far as the eye could see and then vanish with waves pounding the shore that seemed miles away.  While we camped a pair of California surfers rode the "bore" (the edge of the tide) and broke the record by riding it for 29 kilometers into nearby Moncton.

A trip to a an old logging camp that was served by a stream turned into a long exposed canyon with miles of beaches and then twelve hours later it would be flooded

My traveling companion Marti with Limo at an exposed bluff in a beach cove that can be seen empty in the image left and covered in water in the image below right.  

Canadian National Parks provide all manner of amenities like the pool pictured above.  This solar heated pool allowed an opportunity to get wet.  The bay water is rather intolerable although there are always groups of people polar bears that go swimming even in winter.

my traveling companion Marti enjoying a little rum and coke to end a day of hiking
The landscapes were majestic.  The rock formations proved to be dramatic and exposed the history of the planet.  The best part of this coast was the lack of people.  When we first planned this trip we made reservations at the first three stops fearing the type of attendance we knew from American national parks.  Strangely, the Canadian counterparts  were hyped but in all but one of the places we traveled were largely vacant.  At Fundy NP we had a campsite with five or six other campers the rest of the site was under renovation to include yurts, a type of Mongolian tent that included electricity and bathrooms.  We found few people really camping in a tent, Canadians seemed to prefer motor homes.  Regardless we enjoyed privacy of miles of open space, beaches without a soul and lots of wildlife to enjoy. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sunset at Campobello

Campobello, New Brunswick - Lubec, Maine International Bridge

I left you in Maine a couple of months ago.  Blogging while camping is a hard thing to do, specially if you are not connected to the world with a wireless hotspot (a very different use of words from what I considered a hot spot.  The trip to Canada was magnificent if beset with all manner of issues regarding heat, rain and mosquitos.  The saying you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs still applies.  You don't get to go out into the wilderness (or such as it was) without dealing with exposure to the elements.  Leaving our cozy cottage in Rockport, Maine allowed us to experience much much more by way of nature, but it did come at a price.  Our first night camping seemed simple and untrammeled.  We drove across a simple bridge and we were met by a customs officer who let us pass:  no complications, no terrorist threat in the offing.

one of many lighthouses in Campobello with Lubec as a backdrop
Lubec is the Easternmost city in the US.  It is a small little outcropping of houses on a rock in a bay.  By contrast to Campobello it is Manhattan in the amount of available services.  Campobello has not banks, gas stations or a hospital and practically no markets or restaurants either.  It is a place steeped in history that was more than it is.  Campobello because of its status as the summer home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt has garnered a special status of an international zone that is jointly managed by the Canadian and American governments in the areas pertaining to the Roosevelt property. After the death of Eleanor Roosevelt in the 1962 the State Department during the presidency of Lyndon Baines Johnson created a special place for this very unusual landmark.  Today the park is administered and funded by both the US and Canadian governments.  It employs Americans and Canadians alike without much concern for border politics.

It was at Campbello that Roosevelt contracted Poliomyelitis in 1921.  This debilitating disease however, did not manage to slow down or affect the output of his presidency.  It is a tragedy that as I write this much lesser men paralyze our government for their political ambitions.  

What is remarkable of the Campobello Cottage is its simplicity.  No electricity nor telephone until the 1960's.  It is hard to imagine presidents living in anything that the opulence of our modern times or what we know of the White House.  As you can see from these pictures there is no opulence here.  The matrimonial bed (full sized) was used by the couple. 

The kitchen was a study in antiques with its copper hot water heater.

The most shocking item was this jerry-rigged palanquin to carry the President around the property.  So little ceremony for such a president.

Our accommodations were a little more basic than the Roosevelt's.  We still managed to get around and discover the rest of the 2800 acres that makes up the Roosevelt International Park.  Beautiful trails and overlooks allow you to visit and enjoy this natural wonderland.  

Limo got his camping legs pretty fast.  The park built these wooden trail like the historic wooden turnpikes.  It made traveling through sensitive landscape easier and less destructive.

In all we camped for 29 days and nights. By the end of the camping we were better people for our efforts and had learned a greater appreciation of people who do this as a matter or survival.  For us it was just an adventure in nature.