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Roadtrip to the Maritimes

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S: Road Trip Through the Maritime Provinces

FC: Road Trip Through the Maritime Provinces August-September 2010

1: For my favorite travel companion.

3: 17 days 4,679 miles 7,530 km 6 provinces 4 states 10 ferry rides 9 campsites 8 hikes 1 mountain summit

4: We arrived in Digby, Nova Scotia on the ferry from St. John, New Brunswick and stopped right off the boat for a clam roll and scallop burger at Big Tide Take-Out. Mmmm, fried fresh seafood! We drove down the Digby Neck, a long, narrow spit of land that parallels the mainland, and took two small car ferries to get all the way out to Brier Island. We checked into the hostel and then took a hike out to Seal Cove, starting at the Northern Light lighthouse. We ended the day with more deliciously fried scallops for dinner (and a V-8...we needed veggies!). The next morning we went whale watching in the Bay of Fundy on a Zodiac. The weather was perfect and we saw a puffin and six different humpback whales: what an experience! After the whales, we made our way back up the Digby Neck, stopping after the second ferry for lunch of fried scallops and clams and stopping again in Digby to buy fresh clams and scallops at the fishing docks to cook for dinner that evening. We drove down the middle of Nova Scotia to Lunenberg and Mahone Bay on the south coast: colorful, picturesque little towns. That evening we set up camp at Grave’s Island Provincial Park and cooked up a delicious, savory scallops and pasta dinner. In the morning, we drove the scenic route through beautiful Peggy’s Cove on the way to Halifax. We toured Halifax before lunch, and then continued on our way to Cape Breton Island. After crossing the causeway from the mainland, we followed the Ceilidh Trail (every scenic route here is a “Trail”) on the west side of the island to Cheticamp and the entrance to Cape Breton Highlands National Park. We set up camp at Corney Brook just as it was getting dark, a great little campground right beside the ocean (the sites are really close together, but totally worth it!). We awoke In the morning to a moose walking on the beach! After breakfast, we drove the Cabot Trail, stopping to hike the Skyline Trail, a really beautiful trail complete with fantastic sightings of a bear in the distance and a moose right on the trail! We continued driving the scenic Cabot Trail, checking out small, seaside villages along the way. We hiked the Middle Head Trail out to the Atlantic before leaving the park and driving to North Sydney. While waiting to board the overnight ferry to Newfoundland, we ate donair pizza and enjoyed the Cajun-like local accents. We returned to Nova Scotia from Newfoundland four days later, arriving in North Sydney late morning. We drove through the middle of Cape Breton Island, though Baddeck and back to the mainland. We stopped for McLobster sandwiches (lobster at McDonald’s!) on our way to the lighthouse on Cape George Point and visited Arisaig Provincial Park where we hunted for fossils (this was really great fun!). Finally, we hopped on the ferry in Caribou for the 75 minute boat trip to Prince Edward Island. | Nova Scotia

6: Ferries and a scallop burger on the way along the Digby Neck to Brier Island

7: Seal Cove and Northern Light lighthouse on Brier Island

9: Puffin | Humpback whales in the Bay of Fundy

10: Lunenberg | Grave's Island Provincial Park campsite | Mahone Bay

11: Peggy's Cove

12: Halifax Maritime Museum | HMCS Sackville, the last Canadian Navy WWII Corvette

13: Corney Brook Campground | Cabot Trail in Cape Breton Highlands Nat'l Park

14: Skyline Trail, Cape Breton Island

15: White Point, Cape Breton Island | Middle Head Trail | Green Cove

16: On the overnight ferry between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia | McLobster sandwich

17: Lighthouse at Cape George Point | Fossil hunting in Arisaig Provincial Park

18: We arrived in Port aux Basques, Newfoundland at 6 am on the overnight ferry from Nova Scotia. With rainy overcast weather forecasted for the day and hurricane Earl on its way, we decided to make the drive to L’Anse aux Meadows all the way on the tip of the Northern Peninsula. The drive north was exactly as we had imagined Newfoundland: small, remote, picturesque fishing villages dotting the coast line. Along the way, we stopped to stretch our legs at Flower’s Cove to view some thrombolite fossils. At L’Anse aux Meadows, we toured the 1000 year old remnants of a Viking settlement, the first in North America. While there, we also hiked a short boardwalk trail through a bog and saw a family of otters playing in the sea. We made the drive back down to the northern boundary of Gros Morne National Park and camped at the Shallow Bay campground. The next morning, it seemed as if the clouds would finally break. We walked along Shallow Bay in our PJs before breakfast, and then packed up and drove to Broom Point to see a 1960s-era fishing village. Next, we hiked the scenic trail to Western Brook Pond and took a boat tour of the ancient inland fjord. The clouds lifted at the just the right time, and we were treated with sunny, spectacular views of the glacial-carved cliffs. After the tour, we stopped at Lobster Cove Head on our way to the Lomond Campground on the southern side of the park, where we set up camp. We got an early start the next morning, as we wanted to make the most of the time we had left before hurricane Earl arrived. We hiked the Tableland Trail with its ancient yellow rocks devoid of almost any vegetation. Then it was on to the Green Gardens Trail: a hike down to a rocky beach with sea stacks rising out of the ocean. When we made it back to the car, the wind had picked up significantly. We stopped in Wiltondale for moose burgers and Newfie-brewed beer (yum!) before driving to Norris Point where we would stay the night safe and sound in a small cottage with a great view of Bonne Bay. The remnants of Earl came that night with high winds and blowing rain. In the morning, our last on Newfoundland, the wind was still blowing too hard to kayak as we had planned, so we planned a day of site-seeing from the Xterra. We drove south to Corner Brook and then west out to Blow Me Down Provincial Park. There we hiked the short trail to a lookout of the Bay of Islands and to a sea cave on the rocky beach. We continued to drive south through Stephenville and then again back west to Cape St. George, where we arrived just in time to watch the sun set into the ocean--beautiful! With time running short to make it back to Port aux Basque and the ferry, we were driving in the dark with some purpose. Then suddenly we came around a curve on the Trans Canadian Highway, and were shocked/startled/scared to find a large moose crossing the highway in front of us. We slowed and easily avoided it, but for the rest of drive we remained on a high alert: it’s funny how after that everything looked like a moose on the side of the road! We made it to the ferry in the nick of time, just to learn that the already Earl-delayed ferry was delayed even later. Around 1 a.m. we took a nap in the car and did not wake up until after most of the cars had already boarded the ferry. We were one of the last cars on the boat (whew!) which finally left Newfoundland at 4:30 am, headed back to Nova Scotia. | Newfoundland

20: West Newfoundland coastal drive. The thrombolites in Flower’s Cove are over 650 million years old.

22: L’Anse aux Meadows, 1000 year old remnants of the first Viking settlement in North America.

24: Shallow Bay Campground, Gros Morne National Park

25: Broom Point, a 1960s-era fishing village

26: Western Brook Pond

27: Boat tour of the ancient inland fjord

28: Lobster Cove Head lighthouse | Lomond Campground, Gros Morne Nat'l Park

29: The Tablelands

30: Sea stacks on the Green Gardens Trail

31: Norris Point where we spent the night safe and sound in a small cottage with an amazing view of Bonne Bay.

32: Small Newfoundland village | Hiking in Blow Me Down Provincial Park | Idyllic fishing boats

33: Sunset at Cape St. George

34: We arrived in Woods Island, Prince Edward Island on the ferry from Caribou, Nova Scotia just as the sun was setting. We immediately drove to the lighthouse that we saw from the ferry to snap some pictures. Our campground for the night was in Northumberland Provincial Park only a few miles from the ferry dock. We chose a grassy site right next to the sea and cooked Newfoundland scallops and cod over the fire: really, really amazing! We awoke in the morning to a very red sunrise on the red beach, and after breakfast we took off for Charlottetown. We walked around the cute harbor front, and bought a lobster cracking tool from a kitchen store in preparation for Maine (see New England page). Then we found the Cows Creamery factory store, skipped the tour since they were not making ice cream, and had the best ice cream of our lives for lunch. Truly, the best...there is a sign that backs us up! From Charlottetown, we went north and drove through PEI National Park, stopping to walk along the long, red sand beaches and admire the grass-covered sand dunes. We continued our drive though the four Rustico villages, stopping at a seafood counter in North Rustico to purchase Malpeque oysters, clams and mussels (so fresh and cheap!), as well as an oyster shucking knife. We didn’t join the crowds at Anne of Green Gables, but drove on through the peaceful, rolling hills covered in farmland to O’Leary where we toured the most extensive Potato Museum that could possibly exist in the world. Since the day was so cloudy and rainy, we headed for Linkletter Provincial Park to set up our camp beside the ocean before we drove back north to New Glascow for dinner. Not just dinner, but a real Lobster Supper! We purchased two 1 1/2 lb. lobsters and they came with all you could eat steamed mussels (we ate nearly two giant buckets full!), salad, bread, seafood chowder (really, really good) and dessert. After we wiped the butter off our chins, our server took us down to the lobster tanks where they pulled out two 6 lb. lobsters to show us. Those suckers were huge! We slept really well that night with our full bellies, and managed to pack up the tent the next morning before the rain started. We drove through small, but cute town of Summerside to get some Tim Horton’s breakfast on our way to the Confederation Bridge and New Brunswick. | Prince Edward Island

36: Northumberland Provincial Park | Newfoundland scallops and cod for dinner | Red soil of PEI

37: Some of the many long red beaches and grassy sand dunes at PEI National Park

38: The PEI Potato Museum

39: New Glascow Lobster Supper hall

40: North Rustico harbor | Seafood counter in North Rustico and Cow's ice cream in Charlottetown | Rolling hills of PEI farmland

41: Linkletter Provincial Park | View of the Confederation Bridge to New Brunswick

42: New Brunswick | New Brunswick was the first stop on our tour of the Maritime provinces. We entered New Brunswick from Quebec in the north and drove down the St. John River valley all the way to Fredericton. We camped our first night in the Woolastook campground just outside of town, arriving in time to see the first of many amazing sunsets on our trip. We woke early the next morning to drive to St. John, tour the Carleton Martello tower, and catch the ferry for the 3 1/2 hour crossing to Nova Scotia. New Brunswick was also the last stop on our tour of the Maritime provinces. We arrived via the Confederation Bridge from Prince Edward Island. Our first stop was Hopewell Rocks, a great spot on the Bay of Fundy for seeing the world’s highest tides. The ocean comes in around the Flowerpot formations as the tide rises 30-40 feet. You can walk on the ocean floor around the Flowerpots up until 3 hours after low tide (we made it just in time), and then the water rises up to cover the bottom of the stairway that leads down. As the tide neared its peak, we drove on down the road to Fundy National Park, stopping in Alma to buy some sticky buns that a pair of New Brunswick natives told us not to miss. Yum! We did two short hikes along the coast of the Fundy Bay, and were able to watch the tide start its fast retreat. From there, we continued on to St. John. We stayed in an old historic house that has been turned into suites. Ours was small and packed with a huge bed and a small “kitchenette,” where Mike shucked PEI Malpeque oysters and we steamed up clams and mussels. The following morning, we crossed the border into Maine to begin the New England part of our adventure.

44: Carleton Martello tower, St. John

45: Hopewell Rocks flowerpots on the Bay of Fundy

46: Coppermine trail in Fundy National Park

47: Coastal Trail, Fundy National Park

48: Our beautiful, historic suite in St. John

49: Malpeque oysters bought at a small fish market in PEI

50: New England | We crossed the border into the USA from St. Stephen, New Brunswick. We took the scenic route along the Maine coast to Bar Harbor. Along the way, we stopped for fried shrimp and clam roll take-out for one last time. We checked into Grays Oceanside Campground outside of Bar Harbor and ordered two live 1-lb lobsters. Since we got to camp early, for once, we went back to Bar Harbor to walk around the cute touristy town. When we got back to camp, we put some sea water in our pot and steamed our lobsters. Paired with fresh Maine corn and potatoes, dinner was excellent! In the morning, we got up early and headed out towards New Hampshire and Mt. Washington in the White Mountain National Forest. We were making good time until we stopped at the L.L. Bean Factory Store. When we arrived at Pinkham Notch, the summit of Mt. Washington was socked in with low clouds and the wind was blowing like crazy. We decided to save the big climb to the summit for the next day and stretched our legs on the Old Jackson Road Trail instead, which is part of the Appalachian Trail. This was Marella’s first time on the A.T. We spent the night, our last one camping, at Moose Brook State Park to the north, cleaning out the rest of the cooler contents and burning all of the wood we had left. A semi-alpine start (the alarm went off at 5 a.m.) was the order of the morning, and we were on the Tuckerman Ravine Trail to the summit of Mt. Washington at 6:30 am. It was a blue bird day with not a single cloud in the sky, and apparently the best visibility they had had in a long, long time. In under 3 hours, we were on the windy summit. We visited the large summit house before making our way down the Lion Head Trail. About 2 1/2 hours later were back to the car, extremely happy and on our way West. We really, really enjoyed the beautiful drive through New Hampshire and Vermont with the mountains and rolling hills, the farms in the green valleys, and pastures filled with cows. We stopped in Waterbury, VT for a tour and cone at the Ben & Jerry’s ice creamery and then continued down the road to the Keene Valley Lodge in Keene Valley, NY. We celebrated the last night of our vacation with a big steak dinner at Tip-A-Canoe restaurant in Keene and a real bed, which we collapsed into, the whirlwind vacation finally catching up with us. On our final morning, we slept in a bit and had breakfast at the Lodge. Chilly, rainy weather kept us from hiking in the Adirondacks, so we just made our way back to the Canadian border. Along the way, we stopped outside of Lake Placid, NY at the Olympic ski jumping and freestyle aerial facility. There, we took a tour of the 90 meter ski jumping tower and watched athletes training without snow! We stopped in Watertown, NY to stock up on “American” groceries (Rotel, Spicy Cheez-its, caffeinated Mt. Dew, grits, etc.) then crossed back into Canada in the Thousand Island area near Kingston. We made our way back down the 401 to Toronto, picking Timber up on the way home.

52: Cooking lobster at the campground in Bar Harbor, Maine. DELISH!

53: Sailboats moored at Bar Harbor

54: Mt. Washington, 6288 feet via the Tuckerman Ravine Trail

55: Ben & Jerry's tour, complete with a fresh cone | Lake Placid, NY Olympic ski jumping and freestyle aerial facility

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Marella Canny
  • By: Marella C.
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  • Title: Roadtrip to the Maritimes
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