Chapter 12. New Brunswick Again
© Bert & Shari Frenz, 2000 All rights reserved.
(Bert) We planned an early departure this morning, but since Shari is still sleeping I decide to walk along the wooded trail behind the campground. The trail leads to a small pond overgrown with Yellow Pond Lilies. A ghostly morning fog thinly disguises the opposite shore, but I can make out the profiles of Wood Ducks feeding on the silvered surface. A loud call, perhaps the most jungle-like birdcall we have in North America - that of the Pileated Woodpecker - erupts from the opposite shore. A response comes from another, more distant, location. Then I see the two birds wing their way across the pond and land on a dead tree close to me. I always find it a treat to watch Pileated Woodpeckers, perhaps because of their large size - you could pack three Downy Woodpeckers into the size of one Pileated - or maybe because of its black-and-white hammerhead with accentuated red hammer claw. Flowers and ripe fruit surround the footpath. An interesting flower growing here is the Turtlehead, aptly named for the shape of the lower portion of the flower head as it protrudes from the shell of the upper portion. Thousands of Chokecherries hang in small clusters from the surrounding trees. In the bright morning sunlight they dazzle like brilliant rubies, coated with raindrops from last night's rain. Dozens of birds, especially juvenile Robins, are taking advantage of the fruit harvest. I spot a green warbler I do not recognize, but eventually deduce it is a juvenile female Chestnut-sided Warbler that looks completely unlike its spring plumage. Then I find lots of Blackberries, so I know Shari will want to come here too. I head back to R-TENT just as Shari is opening the drapes. She is enthusiastic about the berries, so we grab a few sacks and return to the woods. Not only do we gather berries but also we pick two sacks of apples from old trees planted by an early settler, but now abandoned and overgrown with no remnant of the original buildings. So much for our early start this morning! By the time we pull out it is already 10 AM. We leave Nova Scotia and enter New Brunswick, traveling the same road we went on August 7, but this time continue further westward along the coast to Fundy National Park. Our campsite is high on the hills, a climb steep enough that we decide to disconnect the car and drive up separately. In the pleasant late afternoon and evening weather, we enjoy a campfire with hamburgers and fresh sweet corn roasted over the fire.
(Shari) Since it is 51 degrees out this morning - the TV weatherman said fall is in the air and I still am waiting for summer to hit - I put on my warm jacket. Armed with three plastic shopping bags, we are off to pick the apples we spied on our walk last night and the blackberries Bert found this morning. The grass is wet with dew and I am glad I put on my boots. Soon we have a little over a quart of berries and a half-bushel of apples for applesauce. There is plenty more fruit around, but we cannot use it all before it would spoil. After all that picking, we still leave the campground by 10 AM on our way to Fundy National Park. We stop once at the Nova Scotia Welcome Center, to check our web site on their free Internet computer, before finding a nice campsite with electricity and water in the Chignecto section of the park. Since it is already 3 PM, all full hook-up sites are taken. It is another beautiful day and we sit around the campfire, eating grilled hamburgers and picking the wild raspberries Bert found within our block, to serve with ice cream for dessert. This is how the weather should have been all summer long.
(Bert) Melissa is a college junior at Prince Edward Island University and the only non-graduate hired on this summer in the ranger program at Fundy National Park. The lady standing next to me asks Melissa how she managed to be hired and she answers, "I do a good interview." I can see why. This perky young lady is our guide today on the Alma Beach walk and her enthusiasm and uninhibited style keep us, and especially the children, involved. We learn about the local lobster and scallop fishing industry, the tides, and sea creatures inhabiting the tidal zone. I thought I completely understood the Bay of Fundy tides and I've already explained a bit of it here, but Melissa tells us something I've missed before. The traditional interpretation of the massive Fundy tides has been the funnel effect of the bay. But more recently a more important cause has been recognized. Thinking of a bathtub, water pushed to one side sloshes back after it hits the end. The tide also has this effect, called the seiche, in the Bay of Fundy. But because of the great length of the bay, this natural oscillation takes 13 hours to slosh back and forth. Coincidentally, the time between high tides is 12 hrs. 25 min. Only in the Bay of Fundy do these natural phenomena have time scales so close together. The effect is to add water to the edge of the high tide, creating the bore tide. Next, Melissa directs us to the flat beach at low tide and instructs us to pick up any objects that interest us. We stop at a spot on the beach where dozens of very thin, mud-like tubes project out of the sand. She asks us what these are. I excavate the sand around one of them and notice that the soda straw object continues many inches below the surface. Then a thin worm pops out of the top of one of the tubes. Melissa tells us these are Bamboo Worms, a segmented worm that lives in the tube of its own creation. [Later in one of my reference books, I'm surprised to learn that there are over 6000 marine species of segmented worms]. We go on to explore more of the beach. Melissa carefully identifies and explains the life histories of the objects I picked up. A flat 2-in. rubbery washer, separated in one part of the circle, turns out to be the sand collar of a Moon Snail and consists of tightly fused eggs produced by the snail. The algae scattered on the beach is Bladderack, which contains algin, an emulsifying agent used in chocolate milk and toothpaste. Half of a flat shell, with a hole drilled through it, is the work of a Dog Whelk, a meat-eating snail that bores into its prey with a raspy tooth. A very soft white crab I found, is in the molting state of growing a new hard shell and is called a Green Crab, a color we see when Shari finds one with a completed shell. I love exploring the beach and the experience is even better with someone like Melissa to explain the strange creatures that inhabit it.
(Shari) Have you ever wondered how pioneer women made jam without going to the store and buying a package of Sure-Gel first? I think I may have found out. For those of our readers who enjoy my recipe stories, here is a good one for you. I found a Blackberry and Apple Jam recipe in my Fat-Back and Molasses Cookbook that I bought in Newfoundland. It is loaded with old-fashioned recipes and since I had blackberries and apples together, at the same time, I thought why not.
4 lb. of blackberries
5 lb. of sugar
½ pint of water
1½ lb. peeled, cored and sliced apples
Place berries in a pan over low heat, adding half the quantity of water and stew slowly until tender. Stew the apples until soft in the remaining water. Combine the fruit, add the sugar and stir until dissolved and boil rapidly until settling point is reached.
I took a fourth of the above recipe and followed the directions. What is a settling point? I just keep boiling until the mixture gets thick, about 25 minutes. I have three jars of jam, and if I say so myself, it is delicious. So was it the pectin in the apples or boiling the sugar solution that thickened the jam? I wonder if putting apples with other fruit will do the same thing. Now that I am on a roll, I take my paring knife outside on the picnic table and peel 1/3 of the apples we picked yesterday. That makes applesauce. Soon it is time to meet the ranger at Alma beach for a walk as the tide comes in. Melissa, a third year international business student, is our guide. She does a terrific job of showing us the Fundy shore and even has us gather any and all the sea flora and fauna that we can find, which she later explains to us. She has each of us find a periwinkle - one of those small snails that like to grow around seaweed - and stand in a semicircle facing her. She tells us to hum to it and it will come out of its shell. Here 30 people are humming to a small snail and she says, "Look at the tide. The snail will come out regardless of what you do, I just wanted to show you how fast the tide comes in." And by golly, the water is almost up to our feet, when 30 seconds ago it was 30 ft. away. The tides here are a wondrous thing and I still marvel that the boats are sitting on bare ground now, but in six hours will be nicely floating above 30 ft. of water. About a quarter mile out, a flagpole demonstrates that fact also. Its red and white markings every meter show the level of the tide. At high tide only the flag peeks above water. At low tide the whole pole sticks up, an equivalent height of a two-story building. After a dinner of Mexican pudgie pies, we drive down to the park's outdoor theater and watch Melissa and two others perform "Fendo, Fondo, Fundy 50", a spoof on how the animals view the 50-year history of the park. We get back in time to watch "Survivor", a show we have only seen a few times, but don't want to miss tonight's finale. I think it is a stupid show where people are mean to each other and I am afraid that the nice guy will not win the prize money after all.
(Shari) Rain foils our plans again. We decide to make it a travel day and leave for another time the swim in the salt-water pool and the hike on one of the trails. We only travel 80 miles to St. John, arriving at 10:30, and find Rockwood Park already full. The camp manager notices the caravan sticker on our windshield and decides to put us "up there" with the rest of the group. We are delighted and get to meet Jane and Don, another nice Wagonmaster couple. This is their last stop on the 47-day trip they led around the Maritimes, including Newfoundland. After setting up, I take the car to get groceries. I head across the highway to my favorite: Atlantic Superstore. This one is part of a small mall that also contains an everything-in-bulk store. Bins and bins of foodstuffs that I never dreamed of selling in bulk, line the aisles of the store. I buy $58 of stuff in bulk. Amazing! I just love those stores. Then I go to the grocery store and buy another $60 worth. Our refrigerator, freezer and cabinets are loaded. It is feast or famine around here. We deviate from our standard seafood meals and splurge on pork chops and potato pancakes. I need to make something that goes good with all that applesauce that will be coming out of our ears in a few days. We still have a grocery sack of apples in a bin underneath waiting to be peeled and cooked.
(Bert) Heading westward, our drive to St. John today is short. Along the way we encounter many motor homes, mostly heading the opposite direction. I've heard the FMCA rally in New Brunswick included 7426 coaches and about 15,000 RV'ers; we are seeing many fancy rigs on the road and from Duane's journals of their travels in Maine, he is seeing many there too. Heading our direction we pass two Bounders displaying Adventure Caravan stickers, traveling together. When we arrive at our campsite in St. John, they pull in after us. In fact, the whole caravan is here and we are parked in the midst of them. We put on our Adventure Caravan nametags and look for the Wagonmasters. Surprisingly, Jane and I recognize each other. I met her when their caravan was at North Sydney the day after we returned from Newfoundland. Since then they have been traveling as a caravan through Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Apparently, we've nearly crossed paths several times, since we've visited many of the same places. Later, Jane and her husband Don visit with us in R-TENT and we learn more about their experiences as Wagonmasters, a job we will be starting in January. They are farmers from Ohio and I am surprised to learn that they find time to lead caravans and still farm also. Don explains that these days he just plants his crops, sprays with herbicides and leaves for the caravan. When he returns, his crops are ready for harvest. After harvest, they head south and lead caravans in Mexico.
(Shari) Today dawns bright and sunny and a great day to see the town. St. John is an old industrial town and not very scenic. A big Irving Paper Mill on the river mars even the area around the famous reversing falls. Our first stop is the City Market: an indoor mall and farmer's market. Bert, not interested in shopping, visits the museum while I walk the mall. This town seems too small to be able to support a fresh market seven days a week and even today more vegetable stands than customers are in view. Three very long aisles of foodstuffs, specialty "fast food" places and a few craft items are on display. After two hours, I meet Bert and we eat lunch outside along the boardwalk. Even this area is marred with messy looking lots and warehouse type buildings. We rush to the Moosehead Brewery 2 PM tour and find that the tour book is wrong and the tour is at 3 PM. No matter it is already booked anyway. Our visit to the reversing falls is at low tide and water is flowing naturally, from the river into the sea. We see a speedboat take a bunch of tourists up a 5-ft. falls and understand that when the tide comes in, the water changes direction and runs from the ocean to the river. We should really come back to see this phenomena at high tide. Back home, we walk the pretty path around the lake, just happy to be outside in the beautiful cool sunny day.
(Bert) All shopping malls ought to be designed like this one in Market Square, St. John. While Shari shops, I visit the New Brunswick Museum occupying three stories in the heart of the mall. Covering an interesting variety of topics, all of the displays are important to understanding this province from the perspective of its geology, marine and bird life, industrial history, and provincial art. In the Birds of New Brunswick Gallery, I'm most drawn to an old wooden 7-ft. cabinet with a glassed front. Once resting in the living room of George Boardman (1818-1901), the case encloses a heavily branched tree on which a hundred bird specimens are perched. Jammed together only inches apart, the effect is overpowering from a birder's perspective. The collection is an interesting example of how the art has shifted from shooting birds for trophies to watching birds to check off on a personal life-list. In the Geology Gallery, I look carefully at the fossil exhibits and notice that some of the pieces we collected at the shale quarry on July 26 seem to be fragments similar to the large sections of Cordaites, a seed bearing conifer-like plant, here shown as parts of branches, leaves and cones. One large fossil, in particular, interests me: the tracks of a millipede whose body length is estimated to be over three feet long. The section on The Changing Earth gives an interesting statistic: the North American continent moves away from Europe and Africa at the rate your fingernail grows. This has particular meaning to me since I blackened the base of my thumbnail in January and it took until mid summer before the damaged portion was pushed off the top of my nail. In the Hall of the Great Whales I walk under a skeleton of a Right Whale and recognize that the rib cage is almost big enough to garage my Pathfinder. In the art exhibits, I find a collection of wood sculptures by Claude Roussel entitled Birdwatching. Colorfully painted and roughly hewn, the central figure is the head of a characteristically adorned birder with binoculars fixed to his eyes, peering out at me at eye level. His binoculars point toward six separate pedestals, each displaying the enlarged wooden representation of the head of a bird: Belted Kingfisher, Atlantic Puffin, Osprey, Canada Goose, Wood Duck, Ring-necked Pheasant and Blue Jay. Now, this has been an interesting day "shopping" at the Mall!
(Shari) Another bright glorious day! I love it! Traveling south through St. John, we pass the Reversing Falls when the river is flowing against nature - upstream. It's really strange to see it go backwards, especially from our lofty perch as R-TENT crosses a bridge. Luckily Bert keeps his eyes on the road. We do not get very far today. St. Andrews by the Sea is such a lovely town that we decide to stay a couple of days. It reminds me of Skagway a little with its local shops lining Main Street. Our campground is right on the water, called Oceanfront Camping, it is on Passamaquoddy Bay and operated by the Kiwanis. After finding our site, we take our bikes into town, a short half-mile along the residential shore. We enjoy a lunch theater, as we sit on an outside patio overlooking Market Square, watching three young people depict the history of the town. After lunch we continue down one side of the street and up the other, visiting all the shops as we go. Now doesn't that sound like fun? We travel farther down the street with our bikes to the blockhouse: the only remaining such defense, out of 12, that were built to defend Canada against the Americans during the War of 1812. Reading the Canadian view of the war, it is a wonder we are not now Canadian citizens. It is so hot today. Can you believe 87 in the shade? After stopping at the local fish market for fresh scallops, we retire to R-TENT to laze under the canopy and watch the boats pass. At 7, we walk around the fence to the ballpark to watch "Stage Stompers" present Dance Line 2000, a kind of dance that is a cross between Riverdance and clogging. Now don't ask me what the difference is, because it looks just like the stepdancing we saw on previous occasions. Dressed alike in black pants, white shirts, black vests and white tap shoes, the dancers performed 10 numbers, with the foot stomping finale of Lord of the Dance. It is too bad that the most talented girl in the troop did not show the same professionalism in her attitude that showed in her dancing. The gum chewing, loud talking on and off stage, flitting around in front of the audience while others danced, and frequently showing amateur behavior (sticking out her tongue at a friend) did nothing to enhance the show. Disregarding her, the remaining members did an admiral job, especially the four oldest members. After the show, we finish the delicious day with delicious sautéed scallops and fresh green peas.
(Bert) We continue westward toward the U.S. border, but have still one more stop in Canada. St. Andrews by the sea is a favorite vacation spot and as I look at the scenery, it's easy to see why. We camp with a view of the bay, then take our bicycles the short distance into town. The weather is idyllic, a true summer day with temperatures in the mid 80s, the warmest it has been this season. Shari appeases her craving for shopping and I tag along. Lunch is at an outdoor cafe overlooking Market Square. Our timing is perfect since three young people are performing in the square. Through lyrical verse and song, they offer characterizations of historical figures prominent in the area's past. After lunch, we bicycle to a military blockhouse on the other side of town. This small square wooden building was built as a fortress for the townspeople because they feared an American attack during the War of 1812. Given the friendly relations between the U.S. and Canada today, I find it difficult to imagine the battles fought at Detroit, Washington D.C., Niagara and other border areas. We pick up fresh scallops on the way back, but before dinner we attend an outdoor performance of clog dancing. The local dancers, calling themselves Stage Stompers, have just recently started performing and almost half of them have just learned the technique this year. Yet their dancing is fairly good. I'm surprised at the music. I would have expected something closer to the Irish-Scottish music of Cape Breton, but their choices are mostly Blue Grass. Certainly, the highlight is their last number, danced to the highly rhythmic Lord of the Dance.
(Bert) The very high domed ceilings, the ornate fixtures and the colorful stained glass windows are a style that reminds me of the cathedrals of Europe, but the complete use of wood instead of stone marks All Saints Church as a North American building. Built in 1867, it replaces the first church of the Loyalist settlers in St. Andrews, established in 1783. Unfortunately, the cadence and temper of this mornings 11 AM service strikes me as about as old and archaic as the building. Only two or three parishioners are younger than we are; no children are present. Were this the only time we had visited an Anglican Church, I would have considered it an anomaly, but now it appears to be a trend. We notice on the message sign outside that the Baptists use the same church at 9:30 and in the evening, back at our campground, the Baptists put on a youthful musical sing-along. I suspect Christianity is alive and well; it's just shifting denominations. In the afternoon we drive the short distance to Minister's Island and the estate of William Van Horne. To reach the island we cross over on the rocky land connection visible only during low tide, seeing a Bald Eagle as well. Surprisingly, when we reach the island no signs direct us and I end up driving through the farmyard and hayfields. Two or three deer hide in the woods, rusty red in their fall coats. Finally we come to the mansion, a sprawling 50-room sandstone and wood edifice in bad need of repair. After changing hands a few times, the estate was bought in auction by the Canadian government. This place must have been fantastic in its heyday and could make an interesting museum depicting the lifestyle of a wealthy family at the turn of the 19th Century. But now, it would take millions to put this house in order. Now it is but a shell and a shell it is likely to remain. Shari picked up live lobsters for tonight's dinner and as we are driving home we add up the number of lobsters we have consumed in the Maritimes. Fourteen is the number!
(Shari) From my experience, the Anglican Church in Canada will be dead in 20 years. Again we attend an Anglican service at a beautiful, old large edifice built in 1867. With plenty of empty pews and places to sit, only thirty people are in attendance and all have gray hair. Again I notice more people are mentioned in the bulletin as hospitalized, sick at home or in nursing homes, needing prayers, than are in attendance. Since the rector is on vacation, the service is lead by lay people. The message is about leading our life with love. After a late brunch we take a unique drive across the ocean floor at low tide to visit the summer home of William Van Horne. His money came from the railroad in the late 1800s and he spent plenty of it on this estate. The house consists of 50 rooms, 17 of which are bedrooms. I have never been in a house this big, and it is fascinating. It is a crying shame that it now is in such disrepair. The government bought it in the late 70s and has done very little to restore it to its former grandeur. The previous owner also did not take care of it. Can you believe he painted all the beautiful hardwood floors, banisters and paneling, various colors? One room is purple, another blue and another a putrid chartreuse. Icky! This would make a wonderful conference center. Its setting on the point of Minister's Island is just beautiful. Tonight's dinner is a celebration of 34 years of marriage. We have lobster! Fancy that!
(Bert) To reach the last bit of New Brunswick we travel across the border into Maine and leave R-TENT at Cobscook State Park. Then we drive the Pathfinder to Lubec and reenter Canada. Crossing the bridge changes time zones, changes countries and allows us to visit the Canadian summer home of an American president. Franklin Delano Roosevelt first visited here as a small boy with his parents, he spent his childhood summers here, and here also he entertained his fifth cousin, once removed, Eleanor Roosevelt. After their marriage, they took over the cottage next to his parents and used the island as a summer retreat while they raised their children. And, it was here at Campobello that FDR contracted polio in 1923, a young family man with a budding career as a politician. At a historical exhibit on the grounds of the summer home, I read a quote from FDR, "The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." He penned that statement the day before he died, while writing a speech for the occasion of the birthday of Thomas Jefferson. Although the Roosevelt Campobello International Park does not give a lot of details of FDR's presidency, it does give me a feel of what it must have been like to grow up and live here as a wealthy family on a beautiful island. Termed a "cottage", the 34-room home could more appropriately be labeled a comfortable hotel. Amazingly, with the exception of four pieces of furniture, all of the furnishings within the cottage are original to the Roosevelts. One thing that strikes me is the emphasis on education. In almost every room, I can see items such as books, a telescope, and child's engineer kit, a scrabble game, chalkboard displaying arithmetic. FDR had a private tutor until age 14 when he went to boarding school and later Harvard. In the summers he explored the island and today we visit some of the same places. I remember reading a few weeks ago that FDR was quite interested in birds and even as president, he liked to be driven in a convertible with the top down so that he could listen for birds and identify them. Here the International Park has a bird checklist for its 2800-acre area. They also have good pamphlets describing the geology of the island and life in bogs of the park. We drive the gravel road leading to the bog and walk along the boardwalk through the bog. This bog is reminiscent of the others we visited during this trip, but now we are seeing it in late summer. Drier and with plants beyond the flowering stage, I find it a challenge to identify the plants by their leaf and stem shape only. Leatherleaf is easier to identify as you can guess by its descriptive name. I also spot some blueberries and that sets Shari off to picking. There is something about wild berries that Shari can't resist and I know I'll have lots of time to explore by myself if I can find berries to occupy her. After she gathers a bagful of berries, we continue driving around the tip of the island. We stop again at a lookout where we can see Grand Manan Island, a place I would like to have visited if we were passing through when the bird life was more active. But at the shore I do add one more species to the trip list: Horned Grebe. Since this is the last day of our "Texas to Newfoundland" trip, my bird list finishes at 218 species, 207 of which were in Canada.
(Shari) Weather is great again. This is what I expected all summer. After living in Canada for nearly four months, we arrive in the USA uneventfully. My friend, Jean, felt so good to be back on American soil but I feel kind of sad. When planning this trip, I had five pages of notes of things to do and places to visit. Now they have been checked off, and nothing else is on the list. We stop at Cobscook State Park in Maine and take a site before getting in the car to travel across the international bridge to Campobello Island, New Brunswick, to visit the Roosevelt Cottage, a joint venture between the U.S. and Canada. Here the two countries maintain the Roosevelt Campobello International Park that contains the house and grounds of the vacation home Franklin D. Roosevelt used for summer vacations since he was one year old. What a contrast between this home and the one we visited yesterday. This little "cottage" has 34 rooms, including 18 bedrooms, but still feels homey. It is well kept and its original furniture graces the rooms just as if the President was due for the weekend. I have visited many old houses and museums in my life but I enjoyed this one the most. I almost felt like the rich friend of the family, invited to stay for a picnic. Best of all, the tour is free. Neither government charges to see the place. The visitor center also is well done. There we watch a 17-min. movie about the island, read about Franklin and Eleanor and get to know them a little before entering their home. After visiting the home, we drive around the natural area of forest, shoreline, beaches and ocean vistas. We do not begin to make a dent in the 2800-acre park when it is time to go home. For those of you noting scenic campgrounds, Sunset Point Trailer Park, Lubec, Maine, less than a mile from Campobello Island, is breathtaking. I wish I had known about it before we stopped at the state park for the evening. I would have stayed there for sure. It claims to be the easternmost RV park in the U.S. since Lubec is the most eastern spot in the U.S. There is more to do in this area but we decide to move on tomorrow. This will be the last journal we send out - unless we come across something very interesting. It has been fun writing about our Maritime trip and getting your comments back as you have followed along with us. Now we have decided to drive across country to Los Angeles, California for our nephew's wedding in October. Can you believe it? Here we are at the most northeastern spot in the U.S. we can possibly get to and we decide to travel almost to the most southwesterly spot. We're calling it our Transcontinental 2000 trip.
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