The Saints of Fundy
Jul 19, 2008
|Stephen, Andrews, George, John and now Martins - Saturday, July 19
Tonight we're camped at the coastal town of St. Martins, New Brunswick. It's the 19th of July and as darkness falls a number of campfires light up the fog. Campers in jackets and hats and scarves are huddled around them. for warmth as much as camaraderie. The campground and the town lie on shores of the Bay of Fundy, and this is a place you do not need air conditioning.
Summer days are long here. Almost a month past the solstice it is still getting light by 5:00 in the morning, and not fully dark until after 10:00 at night. In a few months that will change dramatically and by Christmas kids will be going to school and coming home in the dark.
But winter or summer the tides will continue. The bay is a little narrower this far up, and on a sunny day they say you can look across it and see the shores of Nova Scotia. As the bay narrows the tidal action becomes greater, and here in St. Martins there are sea caves that give evidence of that fact. Caves you can enter for only a few hours each day because every twelve hours they are flooded and are mostly underwater.
We arrived in Saint Martins around noon, after an hour's drive from Saint John. The town is having a festival this weekend, and the lawns of the neat, two story homes were one big yard sale. Busses were bringing people in from cruise ships they said, and the sidewalks were busy, but not crowded. We worried about finding a campsite, but the nice folks at the Century Farm Family Campground squeezed us in on a patch of lawn.
At the east end of town there is a marina, and we spent some time there looking at some of the booths that were set up for the festival. I talked to an artist who was a very funny guy, and to a musician who was playing the trumpet out in front of the information lighthouse. He was a young guy from Seattle on a bike trip across the country by way of the Saint Lawrence Seaway. We talked about W.C. Handy and he launched into the St. Louis Blues, and about Clark Terry who is still playing in his '90's.
Everywhere we go we meet friendly, interesting people who have that wit and sparkle in their eyes that lets you know the lights are on and someone is home. The friendliness of the Canadian people is so warm and sincere that you meet a total stranger and immediately feel as if you'd known them forever.
Beyond the marina the road continues for another ten miles, and the last six of those are called The Fundy Trail. It is a lovely parkway that overlooks the bay, and winds along the tops of the cliffs for several miles before it descends to it's end at the Salmon River Interpretive Center.
It has many turnouts where you can park and get out to see the breathtaking views of the cliffs and beaches, and even a waterfall. A web of trails parallels the road so hikers and bikers can enjoy it their way, and there is a shuttle bus that connects all the turnouts for hikers who get tired and need a ride back to their vehicle.
The interpretive center has a good video on the early lumbering and shipbuilding ventures that took place at the mouth of the Big Salmon River. They also offer free tea and coffee, and have a good stock of Cadbury chocolate bars for the weak willed and hungry.
On our way back to St. Martins we stopped to see the caves. They were uncovered by now and they are very beautiful and impressive. We had dinner at a restaurant on the beach near the caves, where we sampled their "World Famous Chowder". It's a thick combination of scallops, haddock and lobster, and we had to agree that if it's not 'World Famous' it should be. We also tried out a dish new to us called poutine. It's an unlikely combination of French fried potatoes and mozzarella cheese with gravy over the top, but it's also very good and we managed to finish it.
After dinner we walked out to, and into the caves. Standing on the cave bottom and looking up to the height of the waterline is quite an experience, especially when the nearest water in the bay is now six or eight feet below you and has receded another fifty feet from the mouth of the cave!
We returned to our campground for the evening and just settled in and enjoyed it. Whether it's tides, or cliffs or people or food - Canada and Canadians do not disappoint. We chalked up another memorable day in New Brunswick.