The town of Alma on the bay of Fundy is known for several things: proximity to the beautiful Fundy National Park, abundance of lobster shops, dramatic tides in its harbour. But what we were about to experience first was arguably the best seafood chowder money can buy, served in the modest looking Harbour View Restaurant. You’d never expect it from the look of the place, but sometimes looks can be deceiving.
Following our late breakfast we spent about an hour or two walking around the harbour, studying the marine life that washed up ashore and taking photos of the colourful boats moored at the harbour. Schedules of high/low tides are readily available here, and at the moment it was closer to high tide. We figured that later this evening we should be able to capture the same location at low tide and see how it compares.
The next stop (or rather, ride) would be Fundy National Park, which we rode through almost completely before reversing and stopping at several spots to hike. Near the entrance the park resembles a city park, with a golf course and many people having picnics in the grass. Ride in deeper, and you will find a dense forest with lots of bugs and great views of the bay opening up every now and again.
By the time we came back to Alma and were done shooting the boats at low tide and taking glamorous photos of the bike glowing in golden sunlight, all the decent places to eat were closed. There is a good half a dozen lobster shops in this tiny town, and not one is open past 6 pm. Thankfully, we barely made it to one place that served some sort of food, and ordered lobster rolls for take out. They closed right after 😉
Back at the cabin, we were finally free from the annoying mosquitos and could stretch out and eat our somewhat unexciting dinner. Just to make it a little more interesting, we decided to cook some Jiffy Pop, which we picked up at a convenience store earlier that day. Certainly more fun than microwave pop-corn 😉
Today we were bidding farewell to Alma, still not having tried any of their famous lobsters (cold lobster rolls don’t count). While we were aiming to get to Cape Breton this evening, we still wanted to explore more of the Fundy area, including the often advertised Hopewell Rocks.
First off, we took another ride (and hike) in the Fundy National Park. This time in addition to the lush green forest we found several majestic waterfalls, and slightly fewer mosquitos (they tend to come out in the afternoon more than in the morning).
From Alma we took the scenic route 915 that follows closely along the bay. It’s lined with somewhat typical rural landscapes on one side, and the brown water of the bay on the other. Interestingly enough, waters in Alma’s harbour were relatively clear, but the closer inland you follow the shores of the bay, the more mud gets mixed in.
When we got to Hopewell Rocks, it felt like a tourist attraction waiting to happen. Back in 2011 there was an international contest going on for the New 7 Wonders of Nature, and Bay of Fundy with its extreme tides was one of 28 finalists. The tourist boards of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia had a semi-aggressive campaign going on in support of their contestant, but it still didn’t make the final set of 7. On the bright side, it did bring a large parking lot and a modernized visitors’ centre building to the spot.
As for the actual rocks, there are two ways to view them: from a lookout platform high above, or from ground level, with the opportunity to dip your feet into the mud when the tide is low, or kayak in the brown water when it’s high. We took a somewhat lengthy hike to the lookout, and enjoyed more of the lush green forests. When I finally got a good look at the flowerpot shaped rocks, I was a bit underwhelmed. It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t give me the same wow sensation as when I first saw the flowerpots off the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario (maybe it’s because the water there is cleaner ;)).
We hiked back to the bike and after grabbing a quick snack, headed off to Nova Scotia. An array of tiny villages were strung along the highway like beads on a thread, basking in the warm afternoon sun, each invariably highlighted by a post office bearing the town’s name. Something curious passed by every once in a while, a quirky roadside attraction that makes you smile as you keep going.
We had a long way to go to get to Baddeck in Cape Breton Island, and as we approached the Canso Causeway, the only road that connects the island with mainland Nova Scotia, we were further delayed as part of the bridge was opened to let a ship through. How typical! Sitting in the middle of the causeway, along with dozens of cars, watching the sun set over the water, and waiting to finally get to the Cabot Trail, time passed slowly but surely. As we made our way out towards Baddeck, it was getting dark, but still managed to see the welcome sign that announced this town as “The Birthplace of Canadian Aviation”.
After getting checked into our hotel, we inquired about places to dine in, and thankfully, there was one place still open past 8 pm: Tom’s Pizza. It was across the street from the hotel, and it was not nearly as bad as one might suspect from the only place left standing. People running the little pizza joint were very friendly, and their freshly made creation ensured our day ended on a very positive note. 🙂