|Courtesy of the Bay of Fundy - Monday, September 22
Today we took a leisurely drive through central Nova Scotia farm country. The rolling hills and fall colors looked ever so much like Kentucky. Our destination was a spot on the Shubenacadie River that is several miles upstream from it's mouth on the Bay of Fundy. A spot reputed to be the best place to watch a tidal ‘bore’. The bore occurs when the ebbing tide turns and comes rushing back up the river in a surge that has made it famous the world around.
It should be noted here that our visits to the Bay of Fundy in August were on the New Brunswick side, and we are now on the Nova Scotia side where the variations are even more extreme.
We found the site in South Maitland, where there is a Visitor Center and an observation deck from which you can watch the phenomenon. We parked in the Visitor Center lot, and despite the fact that the Visitor Center was closed, we were able to get onto the trail and walk out to the observation deck. Since we had no tide table we had no idea what we would see.
The tide was partially out, and was still ebbing with several hours to go. Shubenacadie River (pronounced Shoe-ben-ACK-adee) was already low, but it would go quite a bit lower before the tide turned again. We learned from some other visitors that the incoming ’tidal bore’ was not due until 4:00 PM. Since it was only 2:00 we decided to take a walk and have some lunch while we waited.
Construction of the highway changed the flow of the river here, and it created tidal ponds and salt marshes which provide great wildlife habitat. We walked a mile on the path along the marshes. This is one of our favorite activities on our travels, and it is especially nice on a brisk fall afternoon. Returning to our RV we just had time for some quick lunch and then it was time to return to the observation deck for the big show. By this time a number of other people had shown up, and it looked like there was going to be a small crowd.
One man we recognized from our campground last night. His name is Heinz and he and his wife Heidi are visiting from Hamburg, Germany. They have been traveling in a rented van for nearly two weeks, and have thoroughly covered Nova Scotia in that time. Two of their children also traveled to North America this summer, a son to canoe and kayak in the Yukon Territory, and their daughter who is currently visiting California and Nevada. If their children are as nice as they are it must be quite a family.
Heinz is the manager of the Port of Hamburg and he is a student of tidal action. They are two of the nicest and most interesting people we have met yet, and we thoroughly enjoyed meeting them and comparing notes on our lives and travels. When we got to the observation deck we learned that the bore was still another 45 minutes off, so it was good to have someone to visit with while we waited.
As time for the bore approached everyone was looking downstream for the big wave. At some of the more extreme tides (when the moon is either full or new) there actually is a wave, and it is said to reach heights of as much as ten feet, but today the tide was lower and less spectacular, and all we saw was the appearance of some white water on a distant sand bar. Until then the river water (what was left of it) had still been flowing slowly downstream, but that soon changed and it was obvious that the tide was reversing it as it came rushing in.
Soon the water was flowing strongly upstream and where it hit the sandbars riffles appeared which soon turned into small rapids. The retaining walls around the bridge foundations started to disappear and some of the sandbars too vanished under the muddy brown water. While we never saw the large and distinctive wave we had hoped for, the movement of so much water was nevertheless amazing, and it is seldom in our lives that we are given the opportunity to see nature at work in such a powerful way. The face of the river changed before our eyes, and it is a sight none of us will soon forget.
There are businesses that offer rafting trips on the river to see the bore, and on the water’s surface the height of the wave may be more pronounced. Zodiac rafts zoomed up and down the river and as the height rose to give access to some of the tributaries the boats would disappear up the various streams. We watched the incoming tide for nearly an hour before heading back to the RV. By the time we left the observation deck the water level at it’s base had risen a good 6 or 8 feet and the face of the river was transformed completely from what it had been at low tide.
After exchanging addresses we said, “goodbye” to Heinz and Heidi, but half an hour later we saw them again at the campground where we decided to stay for the night. We had another good visit, while a little gray kitten came visiting and explored our living room. He was so cute and friendly that it was sure tempting to take him along, but this is his home and later we saw him playing with his siblings.
Then we buttoned up the coach and settled in for a cold night. It is obvious winter is coming now, but the good news is ‘the trees are starting to turn!”