On Sunday, August 6, the third day of our Canadian vacation, we rose early to see Hopewell Rocks at low tide. Ours was the third car in line at the park entrance at 8 a.m. We parked and hiked down to beach level at the stairway down to Flower Pot Rocks. From there we hiked along the temporary beach on the ocean floor to see five of the six coves before the rising tide cut off access to the coves one by one back to Flower Pot Rocks. It rained the entire time. We took many photos. By mid-afternoon, the same area where we walked would be visited by other tourists in kayaks.
Tide in at Hopewell Rocks
Tide out at Hopewell Rocks.
We were on the opposite side of the Bay of Fundy from Nova Scotia. The Bay of Fundy has the world’s most dramatic regular tidal changes. Every six to eight hours, the tide changes up to 16 meters (54 feet). The tides carved out the coastline, creating places of freestanding columns of rock as seen at Hopewell Rocks.
On our way to Prince Edward Island, we stopped for lunch in Truro at Boston Pizza. Our waiter asked where were from. We told him Central Florida. He told us he attended college in Tampa. Small world.
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
We drove north on Highway 15 north to the coast along the Northumberland Strait, to Highway 16 North. Lovely seaside vistas along the way. Moose crossing signs reminded us we were in Canada. On the Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island, the signs are in English and French. The island is known as PEI and IPE for Ile-du-Prince-Eduard. All tourist guides, maps, and signs were in English and French. Roadway speed signs were in kilometers. The speedometer read 100. Kilometers per hour. At 100 kilometers per hour, we were traveling 62 mph.
We arrived at Dalvay-by-the-Sea, an historic home converted into a hotel, where we would spend two nights. In 2011, Prince William and his bride stayed here. A lovely lawn gently sloped down from the front of the building to a lake, facing the setting sun. When we arrived, guests relaxed in scattered Adirondack chairs facing west.
I read in the tourist literature that red Adirondack chairs had been placed at scenic overlooks throughout Canada. While I’m not wild about social media, I wanted to participate in the Canadian #sharethechair campaign. Perhaps Handsome and I could get our photo taken in red chairs this week. Canada is celebrating 150 years as a nation. #Canada150 signs abounded.
We checked in. The gentleman behind the desk lugged our bags up a wide central staircase to our room on the second floor. We unpacked, then wandered through the building to find the restaurant and the library. The library was more of a gathering room with games, a fireplace, and books consisting of traveler’s castoffs, a few reference books, and a Reader’s Digest condensed books. Egad. I was grateful to have my iPad with the Kindle app. I had hundreds of ebooks and a larger collection of unabridged classics than this historic hotel. No television. Weak internet.
Dalvay Beach on Prince Edward Island.
The hotel was a short walk to the beach. A storm front followed us from New Brunswick, so we didn’t spend long on the beach.
The restaurant recommended reservations, but they squeezed us in. During dinner, a light misting rain turned into a full rainbow over the lake.
We retired to our spacious room to review the next day’s agenda. As a writer, I was excited about seeing the Green Gables House, a place where Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote her books. Her stories inspired movies about life on Prince Edward Island beginning in 1908. We were set to explore three sections of the northern central coastline on Prince Edward Island.
On day 2 of our see-all-of-Nova-Scotia-in-ten-days vacation we hit the ground running. Given a choice between touring Montreal Canada for eight hours or attempting to grab standby seats on an earlier flight to Halifax, Handsome, of course, opted for the standby seats. If we could catch an earlier flight, we could be back on schedule for the remainder of the trip.
We stood in the rebooking/ticketing line to beg for standby seats. One of the Air Canada representatives idling along the line answered questions and squashed rumors. Maury told her we had seats on the last flight to Halifax. He asked for the odds of getting standby seats on an earlier flight. The representative told him we’re in the wrong line. She directed us to the “drop bag” check-in lines to our left.
AIR CANADA’S MIZA
We left one long line to roll our luggage to another. After forty minutes, we reached the counter where the Air Canada Representative named Miza took our request. She informed us that we were in the wrong line to rebook and pointed to the line we came from. Handsome drew in a deep breath.
“We were in that line for thirty minutes. They sent us here. Don’t make me go back there.”
Miza took a deep breath. “I’m sorry. They shouldn’t have sent you here. Let me see what I can do.” She took our tickets and left the counter for about six minutes.
The muscles of Handsome’s jaw were clenching and unclenching. He sighed and shook his head. When under stress, Handsome’s fall-back tone was sarcasm. It never helps the situation, and I’ve told him so often over decades of marriage. I suppose it helps him vent. While others turn to shouting and violence, he turned to sarcasm. Having lived with a violent step-father, I knew the difference between a man who had self-control and one who didn’t. Sarcasm was preferable.
Miza returned with standby tickets on the 11 a.m. flight to Halifax. She checked in our luggage with special tags. If we board the earlier flight, so will our luggage, and our 6 p.m. seats would be resold. If the 11 a.m. flight is full, we will board the 6 p.m. flight and our bags will too. Win-win. We shed a layer of stress.
Maury thanked Miza and shook her hand. “I appreciate your help.”
We grabbed breakfast at the airport’s Archibald Micro Brasserie. This lodge-theme restaurant fed us amazing bread, crisp bacon, and hot caffeine. We headed to gate 49 to wait for our flight. At 45 minutes from departure time, most of the people around us disappeared. I thought they were getting snacks or taking one last break in a real bathroom before the flight. Handsome left to offload three cups of coffee. There was no Air Canada staffer at the counter by the gate. The sign above the gate had changed from the expected flight name and number to a generic Air Canada logo. Announcements blaring in English and French have not mentioned our flight.
In English and French, the overhead announcement declared that the 9 a.m. flight departed at 10:15.
Handsome returned from the men’s room angry. He checked our flight on the monitor in the corridor to verify it was on time. “They changed the gate!”
Off we dashed to gate 52. Perhaps everyone else was notified through the airport’s YUL app or through telepathy. We stood in a line to trade standby seats for real seats. At last, Handsome dropped into a chair with real tickets in hand and smiled.
Once aboard the flight to Halifax, Handsome spotted a ground crewman with batons.
We arrived in Halifax, grabbed our luggage and our reserved rental car. The rental car on our reservation wasn’t available. The clerk mentioned that we were a day late picking it up, which sounded too much like blaming the victim for me to let pass.
“The car I reserved two months ago isn’t available?” My rising tone drew Handsome into the conversation.
“So what do you have?” he asked.
We could wait until 6 p.m., or we could take an upgrade, at only twenty dollars more per day. It was the busy season, she informed us. I was about to ask if this was the first busy season they’ve had to plan for when Handsome accepted the deal. I bit my tongue. For an extra charge, we could both be listed as drivers. We regrettably decline that offer.
We loaded our stuff into a two-door, red Dodge Challenger. It had XM-radio and the odometer read 1770. Kilometers or miles? I don’t know. We had half of a day to drive to Truro, then to the Fundy Tidal Interpretive Center, then to Moncton, New Brunswick to stay on schedule.
BAY OF FUNDY TIDES
The Bay of Fundy lies between the island of Nova Scotia and the mainland area of New Brunswick with smaller coves and rivers extending from it. The Fundy Tidal Interpretive Center features an observation bridge over the Shubenacadie River off Highway 236. The tides change roughly every six hours. What makes the tides of Fundy Bay unique is how much they change.
The view of the Shubenacadie River at the Fundy Tidal Interpretive Center
If you time it right, you can see rafters ride the tide in from this bridge. You could ride one of the rafts if you enjoy water sports with helmets. Rafting didn’t fit in our schedule. The folks at the center gave us a tide chart for the month. We had more days planned along the Bay of Fundy during our trip.
We stopped in Truro for lunch. Frank & Gino’s Grill and Pasta House served pasta, pizza, salmon, ribs, chicken, and more. I had salmon and real mashed potatoes. Our waitress, Megan, wore a shirt marked Booth Keeper on the back. Other shirts read: Chief Cutlery Officer,Minister of Pasta, and so on. Great food, and friendly, efficient service.
Handsome drove through rolling hills, forest, and farms on our way to Moncton. At Amherst, giant white windmills stood along the road like leftovers from a Transformers movie. We’ve seen them on hilltops in Costa Rica, and out west, but they left us awestruck up close. I had considered stopping to take a video, but like photos of the Grand Canyon, images don’t properly convey the scope and size like seeing them in person.
On the ride to New Brunswick, I noticed the cash Handsome had stuffed in the console. Canadian money is see through? Huh. Okay.
We arrived at the Hotel Moncton on Saturday, August 5th, a major holiday in New Brunswick. The clerk explained to a man ahead of us in line that there were no rooms available within a 4-hour drive. Handsome raised his eyebrows at me. I had made a reservation months ago. Okay, so the hotel didn’t have an elevator and we had to lug our suitcases to the second floor, but hey, we had a room. We were also back on my itinerary. Tomorrow, Hopewell Rocks and the drive to Prince Edward Island.