Low tide - Tuesday, July 22
Low tide at Hopewell Rocks is at 9:48 this morning, and we made sure we didn't miss it. We arrived at 9:15 and were greeted by the sight of an utterly transformed beach. No matter how many pictures you see of the transformation it is still something of a shock to see it in person, because the water that was half way up the rocks at high tide yesterday, is now not only completely off the rocks, but has receded a hundred yards from even their bases.
You can go down and walk the rocky beach between them, and if you are not afraid to get your shoes muddy you can walk right down to the water’s edge and look back at them from the most unique vantage point of all. Many people speaking many languages were doing just that - often led by their kids, who are absolutely fearless when it comes to mud.
At 9:18 the tide was still going out, and in half an hour would fall another three feet! On a beach at this slope that translates to a horizontal recession of another nine to twelve feet, but at this point who’s bothering to count anymore? We are getting the picture - literally - and a few more feet aren’t going to change it a whole lot. Still I recorded them just out of curiosity.
If you’ve been doing the math there at home, you have figured out that the tides here rise and fall at the incredible speed of at least a foot every ten minutes. That means a man standing at water’s edge when the tide begins to flow would drown in less than an hour. By high tide he would be under 40 feet water, and six hours later he would be out in the Bay of Fundy well on his way to the greater Atlantic Ocean.
A sobering thought that gives urgency to the warning sign posted at the head of the stairway. It posts the time you need to be off the beach for the next tide, and then tells you that if you don’t pay attention and get trapped, “Do Not Panic”. It goes on to tell you not to try and climb the cliffs, and you expect it to conclude with something like, “Someone will come to rescue you” - but instead it tells you to find a rock that sticks up above the seaweed and wait 3 hours for the water to recede! This policy is guaranteed to improve your attention next time - if there is a next time after you get the Darwin Award.
In the interests of keeping our friends and family informed, we dutifully braved the mud to take these pictures, which we hope you enjoy. On our way back up the stairs a smiling man with a heavy French accent pointed to the stairway and said, “90 steps!” I thanked him for that information and told him I would record it in my journal. He beamed and said something to his wife that sounded like ‘journale’. She did not beam. She just glared at us like we were both crazy. Poor man.
We hosed off the mud at the official mud-hosing station, and took the shuttle back to the Visitor Center, then reclaimed our RV which was now surrounded by dozens of other larger RVs. Just upstream from Hopewell Cape the narrowing Bay of Fundy splits into two rivers. At low tide they are nothing but muddy channels through the landscape. We followed the nearest one upriver, looking for the town of Moncton.
A few miles later we found it, and took advantage of this large urban area to run some errands, first of which was stopping for gas. Gasoline here is 1.387 per liter - at every station you see. They make no pretense that the prices are not fixed, and you can take it or leave it. We took 148.519 liters. At 3.79 liters per gallon that translates to 39.19 gallons, and at an exchange rate of approximately 1.02% the $206.00 Canadian becomes $210.12 U.S. - for a price of $5.36 per gallon. And you guys in California thought you had it bad!
We picked up some groceries at the store behind the gas station, where our gas receipts gave us a $5.12 credit, and then headed for the Bank of Montreal to get some cash! Leaving Moncton we followed a pleasant, winding road through rolling farm country dotted with small towns. Every now and then we would see the other river, still a muddy channel several hours past low tide.
We eventually came to the larger town of Sackville, where we stopped for lunch. Sackville is home to a college and is a pretty town that dates back to Acadian times before the American Revolution. Nobody in town could tell us how it got the name of Sackville. Maybe it’s where the early British and French colonists ‘sacked’ the Americans - thereby saving themselves from the ignominy of our current national blundering - who knows?
Sackville is home to not only a college and a waterfowl refuge, but to a Carriage Museum which we decided to visit. It is housed in the old George Campbell Carriage and Wagon Makers shop, which made carriages, wagons and sleighs for a hundred years, finally closing their doors in 1951. A bright and knowledgeable young man gave us an excellent tour, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. We were allowed to park across the street on the lawn of Canada’s very first Baptist Church.
Tired by now, we decided to call it a day and we headed for a campground just across the Provincial line in Nova Scotia. A good lesson in never being so tired and hungry that you just take the first place that comes along. This campground is the RV version of the Bates Motel - run down and creepy, and home to about 99% of Nova Scotia’s mosquito population.
Oh well - it’s only for a night - and time the next morning to write this page.