Chapter 16 - Bar Harbor to Saint John, New Brunswick
June 24th, Day 28: Our drive from Bar Harbor, Maine to Saint John, New Brunswick took us four hours and we left at our campground in Bar Harbor at 8:00 am and we arrived at the Rockwood Park campground in Saint John at 1:00 pm. Oh yes, I need to mention that the Canadians had turned their clocks back one hour thereby stealing one hour of our lives. Despite the four hour drive it was quite relaxing as there was very little traffic on the highways and while Route 9 running up to the Canadian border was a winding, mostly two-lane road, once we entered Canada the road became a divided four-lane highway that was fairly straight and fairly level and must have cost the Canadian government millions to build as they had to cut their way through the rocky mountain sides. And here again, the highway was almost empty of cars and trucks, a wondrous feeling when we recall the horrible traffic jambs around Washington, DC. The scenery composed primary of coniferous trees on rolling mountainsides was just magnificent.
Our campground in Saint John was a part of a huge 2,200 acre public park named Rockwood Park. Within the park besides our sizable campground was a golf course, a small zoo, lots of small lakes used for swimming and boating, as well as many hiking trails. The part of the park where our campground was located was at the top of a tall rock cliff that overlooked the City of Saint John as well as part of the huge Bay of Fundy. We were fortunate that from our own campsite we had the benefit of this view particularly at night when the lights from the hundreds of moving cars and thousands of city lights blinked off in the distance. This would have been one of our top camping spots so far this year were it not for the fact that we had no Wi-Fi service at our site nor did we have any cable or antenna TV service. We have no doubt been spoiled for these two features have become really important to us as travelers as they give us a chance to learn was is going on in the world around us. Another sort of negative was that the view from our campsite while really panoramic did reveal in a kind of negative way for us tourists, that the City of Saint John was very industrial. While the above photograph may not clearly show this, in the foreground there is a huge railroad yard and in the background are factories and smoke stacks, and over on the Bay of Fundy we can see tanker ships obviously at dock waiting to be loaded. Frankly we might have preferred to see a picturesque fishing village for our first stop in Canada, but here we are.
It came as no surprise to us that my cheap cellphone, purchased and serviced by Net10 Wireless in the United States, did not offer service in Canada so I knew that we needed to purchase an inexpensive local cellphone. We also needed to find a bank so that we could exchange some of our American money into Canadian funds. And as always, we needed to buy our daily supplies. This afternoon we accepted the fact that rather than being tourists here in Saint John we needed to find a Walmart (that's right) and as Saint John is the largest city in New Brunswick (population around 70,000) and the second largest city in Canada's Maritime provinces, we knew that this should not be a problem. And it was not. We returned back to our campground around four o'clock, frustrated by all of the traffic both in the stores and on the roads, and happy to finally have a chance to sit back and relax. Kathy took this photograph of the city at night long after I had fallen asleep. Probably no later than 8:30 pm. There was still some light in the sky.
June 25th, Day 29: Honestly, we had to do a little research to find interesting places to visit here in Saint John as the city itself is not steeped in history as some of the other interesting places we have visited. While the area was first occupied by the French with a fort as far back as 1631 and was the site of battles between the English and the French and later between the Americans and the English during the American Revolution, virtually nothing remains to show tourists of Saint John's early history. The one historical site that we did find was a structure built during the War of 1812 that was called the Carleton Martello Tower. The tower was built to hold cannons to be used to defend the city although no attack ever occurred and the tower was used mostly just to store munitions.
Following our visit to the tower we decided to go visit another popular attraction within the city called the Reversing Rapids. While the photograph to the left does not show very well what is happening down in the Saint John's river gorge, we do know that the flow of the river at this narrow point is dramatically effected by the rising and falling tidal waters of the Bay of Fundy into which the river is flowing. When the water in the Bay of Fundy is at its low point (low tide) the water in the river rushes rapidly towards and into the Bay. The water in the bay however, about every six and one-half hours, can rise as much as 30 feet (high tide) thereby rising dramatically above the normal water level of the river and thus causing the tidal waters to push rapidly up the river. In other words, what is happening during the high and low tides is a reversing rapids first one direction and then the other direction. When we visited the Reversing Rapids (from the viewing platform) it was during the period of low tide in the Bay of Fundy.
Our final visit of the day was to drive into the downtown area and check out what historical old buildings or homes that we might find and also check out what the harbor area around the city center might have to offer. Frankly we were very disappointed. Most of the land around the harbor was filled with large industrial plants and businesses and the city itself was a typical large city with little if anything visually special. Because of Cabo we did not go into any of their local museums which might have been interesting. We did park however, near the King's Square park and after walking around the park and looking at statues, we then walked south down King's Street towards the Saint John Harbor. Everything was neat and clean but nothing that we saw strongly drew our attention. We returned back to our campsite by noon. We again relaxed and continue to read our books. Cabo as always fell asleep on one of our lawn chairs. As you can see in the photograph below our backyard today was a very cozy place to sit and quietly read a book.
Tomorrow we have around a 2-1/2 hour drive over to a campsite near the eastern end of the Bay of Fundy near The Rocks Provincial Park. This area of New Brunswick is very rural when compared to the busy city of Saint John and we very much look forward to the contrast. It is also an area in New Brunswick again made famous by the tidal elevation changes within the Bay of Fundy. In this area however, the water elevations can change up to 50 feet over a period of only six and one-half hours. Might make for some interesting photographs.