The Bay of Fundy lies between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and, as I mentioned in my last post, is home to the largest tidal changes in the world. Because the bay is very long and narrow, the farther east you go, the higher the tides get. There are numerous points of interest along the New Brunswick coast. We visited one of the most popular and well attended parks one day, and then headed to a much quieter coastal park a couple days later. In the meantime, we spent over a week trying to get Dixie out of what can only be described as a “Vortex of Misery.” More on that below….
Hopewell Rocks is probably the most popular sightseeing venue along the Bay of Fundy. It is located at the far northeastern end of the bay, home to the most significant tidal changes on the New Brunswick side of the water (42 feet!).
We happened to visit this park on a Provincial Holiday when most folks had the day off. Upside: It was free! Downside: Everyone was there!
Hopewell Rocks is well attended for a reason. While the Bay of Fundy’s massive tidal changes can certainly be seen all along the coast (including Saint Andrews, which is located on the Passamaquoddy Bay), the unique landscape at Hopewell Rocks really showcases the effects of the tides. These large rock outcroppings found along the beach provide a handy gauge to demonstrate just how big the tides are. One minute, they’re small rocky islands in the sea….
And the next, they’re just part of the beach landscape, towering over visitors who can now walk around, under, and even through them.
At high tide, the entire beach is closed off by park staff and visitors are restricted to raised viewing platforms…
At low tide, everyone heads out to investigate….
The most mind boggling part of the whole thing: The top pictures were taken around 1:30 p.m. while the bottom pictures were taken around 4:15 p.m. And we were not there for true high tide or true low tide… So the waters get even higher, and lower, than these photos represent.
The water’s brown color is reportedly the result of the sandstone (which makes up all of these cliffs and rocks) being churned up by the tides. The folks that run the park refer to it as “chocolate colored water.” Perhaps it was because our visit coincided with Dixie having serious stomach issues, but “chocolate” isn’t the first adjective we’d use to describe this color. Regardless, the uniqueness of the landscape cannot be denied and it is absolutely worth a visit.
The Tidal Bore
The remarkable tidal changes in the Bay of Fundy affect more than just the coastlines of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The Petitcodiac river runs from the Bay, near Hopewell Rocks, northward past Moncton (see map above). Twice each day, as the tide comes in, the water is pushed up the river, and as the powerful rush of water becomes more concentrated, it creates a single wave that is visible on the surface of the water.
We went to the park where the Moncton visitor’s center is located to observe this phenomenon. When we arrived, the water level on the river was very low and the water was slowly traveling from our right to our left (toward the Bay). We then watched as a seemingly small line of water appeared down the bend and made its way toward us.
As it got closer, we were able to see (and hear) just how much water was being pushed along.
Once the wave itself passed by, we watched as the flow of water increased in both speed and volume (now flowing from our left to our right). In just the 5 minutes we stood there, the water line edged up at least 6 inches, and we could see the water was flowing about 15-20 miles per hour in the middle of the river. Had we stayed, just an hour or two later, the water level would have been near the tops of these banks. And then, several hours after that, as the tide went back out of the bay, the river would be almost empty again.
Pretty crazy stuff. It’s just too bad the water is so grody looking. (I think there might be a reason National Geographic keeps refusing to hire me as a staff writer…)
The Fundy Trail
The Fundy Trail is a large park located about 100 miles southwest of Hopewell Rocks. The park contains a 12 mile long scenic drive, miles of multi-use trails, and numerous points of interest throughout. For $8.50 Canadian per person (about $6.50 U.S.), it’s a steal!
The scenic drive alone, with its stunning views of the dramatic coastline, was well worth the cost of admission.
The miles of hiking and biking trails that lead visitors to beaches, waterfalls, and even a suspension bridge, could have kept us busy for weeks.
Unfortunately, we only had one day to work with, but we made the most of it. In addition to driving the entire scenic route, we hiked through dense forest to visit two waterfalls.
we explored a deserted rock strewn beach, complete with a large cave,
and took in the impressive vistas over the Big Salmon River (at very low tide during our visit) from the visitor’s center.
We also crossed the suspension bridge to another area of the park that we didn’t have much time to explore, but which, not surprisingly we also found to be strikingly pretty.
Anyway, we highly recommend this place, especially if you get lucky like we did and show up on a day when no one else is around.
Speaking of which, the drive to and from the Bay of Fundy from Moncton, where we were staying, was long, but lovely. Once we got away from the city, we were on these gorgeous back country roads, driving through all kinds of scenery with nary a car in sight. I actually stopped the car in the middle of the road to take photos of the sunset…
…which is probably not that earth shattering, unless you’ve lived in a place like D.C. True story: Several years ago, a suicidal man threatened to jump from a busy bridge in the D.C. area, prompting the police to shut down the bridge and causing traffic to back up for several hours. During the midst of all of this, several local commuters who were stuck on the bridge famously encouraged the man to “jump.” So they could go home.
So…yeah, hopefully you can understand why we REALLY enjoy driving on lightly traveled, low stress, back country roads like these.
Oh, and speaking of things that reduce stress, is there anything better than a moose in a plaid flannel sweatshirt?
No. There is not.
Dixie Takes Up Residence on Bullshit Mountain
Dixie’s neurologist theorized that her symptoms may be the result of a bulging disc in her spine. Dogs’ spines are just like humans’: The spinal cord is protected by vertebrae that run up the entire back. Between the vertebrae are donut shaped discs that protect the spinal cord. However sometimes, due to injury or wear and tear, the material inside the discs can leak out, pressing on the spinal cord and causing weakness and pain. The way to confirm this diagnosis would be with an MRI, but at the end of the day, the treatment would be steroids or surgery, and the odds of surgery being successful are pretty low. Therefore, the vet suggested just skipping the MRI and trying the steroids to see if she responds. If there is a bulging disc, the steroid should cause drastic improvement quickly and we’ll know we’re on the right track. If nothing changes, then we know the problem is something else.
The downside is, once the disc material shrinks back to where it belongs, it’s necessary for scar tissue to form to keep it in place. In order for that scar tissue to form, the dog has to be on “kennel rest” for six weeks. Meaning: Dixie will be stuck inside the RV 24/7, other than to go out for quick bathroom breaks. No long walks, no swimming, no chasing her ball, no sitting outside (where something might cause her to jump up), no jumping up or down onto our furniture, no running around. Nothing. For 6 weeks. (Actually, I think it was “6-8 weeks,” but I chose to hear “6 weeks.”)
It’s pretty much the worst thing ever if you’re a dog.
But as we started getting used to this idea, mostly by buying Dixie new toys she could take her frustrations out on:
…we ended up with a whole new problem.
As soon as we started her on the Prednisone her stomach went nuts and she became terribly sick. Like, sicker than she’s ever been. The vet knew this was a likely side effect and therefore gave us medication that was supposed to counteract the effects of the Prednisone, but alas, it did a whole lot of nothing. Within 24 hours, her intestines became so inflamed they were actually bleeding.
And of course, if you’ve ever had a dog, you know that Newton didn’t have just 3 laws. He had a 4th one: “If your dog has diarrhea, it will definitely be in the middle of the night during a downpour.” And, he added, “If things are really going well, you’ll be in Canada, far from the vet who told you it was fine to keep traveling, when all of this happens.”
We called the vet’s office and they told us to stop the Prednisone and start her on a bunch of other medications to get her digestive system back in sync, but those drugs ALSO made her sick. Within days, she’d visibly lost 5 or 6 pounds and looked absolutely terrible. Eventually, renowned veterinarians Kevin and Laura said “to hell with all of this” and just stopped giving her any kind of meds at all and tried to get things back on track with a bland diet. Which worked.
In summary, everything sucks for Dixie right now, but hopefully it will all be for the best in the long run. Once things completely get back to normal, we’ll try a lower dose of Prednisone on Attempt Number 2 and hope she responds better.
And, because I hate to end on a sad note, here’s a photo of “Catster Magazine,” which we found at the vet’s office.
With it’s likely insightful article titled “What if cats ruled the world?” and directions to “Live with ‘Cattitude,'” it’s so ridiculous, it was a welcome distraction….
Til next time….
Where we stayed: Stonehurst Trailer Park and Golf Course