Scoot Commute

Canada Day Five: Fundy National Park, NB to Five Islands Provincial Park, Nova Scotia (222 miles)

Posted in 2010 Canada, BMW F650GS Dakar (Maxx), Suzuki DR-Z400SM (Elsa) by sbahn on 2011/01/17
White van in Chignecto North campground, Fundy National Park

White van in Chignecto North campground, Fundy National Park

Last night as we were making our final bathroom trip before bedtime, the boyfriend noticed a white van in the campsite across from ours. No sign of people. The only item outside of the van was a water bottle on the picnic table. Now we all know what unmarked vans are about. And it was mysteriously gone very early the next morning, as I had gotten up crazy early for me and noticed it was gone.

Everything is wet. But who cares! Pack it up…we’re heading out. I’m a camping girl. I love to camp. I could camp all the time. So what’s a little rain. What’s some cold. Just all things to be prepared for and to overcome.

Flowerpot rocks, NB

Flowerpot rocks, NB

Over breakfast of farina and oatmeal, we planned out the ride for the day. There is a park where one can see the Hopewell Rocks (aka the Flowerpot rocks) that looked kind of cool. They are rocks carved away by the power of the tides in Fundy and you can walk around underneath them if the tide is out. Again, we’re not very good planners so we had no idea when tide would be out.

Lover's Arch, Hopewell Rocks

Lover's Arch, Hopewell Rocks

After the bikes were packed up, we took the long way along the water toward the rocks, eventually heading to Moncton and over into Nova Scotia. It was quite cold riding along the water, but as soon as we turned inland, it was really nice. We arrive at Hopewell Rocks, pay the entry fee, and walk in toward the lookover. Turns out our timing was perfect as they were just opening the gate to allow people down into the mud as the tide was flowing out.

There’s something about wandering around in a hi-viz jacket because people come up and start chatting. We met a guy from Halifax who was really pushing us to go visit the city, but I said we were trying to get away from cities. Not that I wouldn’t like to see Halifax one day, just not on this visit.

Black & White Swan couple in New Brunswick, Canada

Black & White Swan couple in New Brunswick, Canada

After we explored the wonderful geology, we got back on the bikes and headed toward Moncton. As we’re riding, we pass a house with a huge lake next to it. We weren’t sure if the lake was part of the house or a park or what, but I saw a black swan. I screeched over the intercom “Black swan! Black swan! Stop now!” as I wanted to go see the black swan. Black swans are rare. And I love swans. Absolutely love them. We turn down what is most likely a private road as all the mailboxes were at the end in one large, mailbox center. Normally I don’t go hiking into people’s yards, but, hey, you got a pet black swan, you should expect some interest. Notice how nice the weather is. I swear, you get away from the water in New Brunswick and the sun comes out. Ebony & Ivory, living in racial harmony. Welcome to Canada.

Ahhh, Moncton. You will always have a special place in my heart. I even started singing a new song, “Straight outta Moncton!” The love will become apparent much later in this write-up. The closer we got to Moncton, the hotter it got. Moncton is a biiiiiig city. There are high rise buildings and double lanes of traffic and strip mall after strip mall after strip mall.

Future Shop, Moncton, NB

Future Shop, Moncton, NB

The reason we headed straight into Moncton (come on, sing it with me) is because we are still trying to find the cable for our camera. Without this cable, the camera will die and there will be no pictures. For some reason the boyfriend knew that Future Shop in Canada is the same as Best Buy in the U.S. and there was a Future Shop in Moncton (I told you it was a big city). Well, screw you Olympus with your proprietary bullshit cable. The woman as the store was extremely helpful but they didn’t have the cable. So we coughed up the 100 CDN and got a battery charger thing that will charge any kind of battery.

I was also pretty cold this morning and I didn’t bring any hardcore warm clothes. Come on, it’s June. Is it really supposed to be this cold? So I hung my head low and walked into the Wal-Mart. I looked all around the women’s clothing section to try to find some long underwear. I gave up and walked over to a woman who was folding clothes neatly. “Um, would you have any long underwear still out?” realizing that it’s June and this is summer, even though it’s freezing cold. She looked at me in my spaceman outfit, and I explained that I was on a motorbike and it was damn cold riding near the water in the mornings.

“Ahhh,” she sighed. “We’re in the middle of a heatwave right now.” I laughed and said I would hate to be visiting during a cold snap. She actually found one long underwear in grey with pink stitching, but it was an XL. Hmmm, I kind of a small girl. “You’re getting it,” she announced. “It’s 2 bucks. It’ll keep you warm. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.” Well, kind lady at Wal-Mart, I am glad I did and I’ve been wearing it all winter here. Big thumbs up to the excellent service I received at the Moncton Wal-Mart. Again, Canada comes through.

Nova Scotia Welcome Center, Amherst, NS

Nova Scotia Welcome Center, Amherst, NS

It took us a while to figure out how to get out of Moncton (again, sing with me), but we finally crossed over into Nova Scotia! A new sticker!

We stopped at the visitor information center to enquire about where to camp. Everyone is so freaking nice in this country. The young woman suggested we head toward Five Islands Provincial Park. I really wanted to stop at Cape Chignecto Provincial Park as it’s on a tip that juts into the Fundy Bay. But it’s a hike-in campground and thought of hiking in with saddlebags simply was not cutting it.

We stopped in Amherst to pick up some vittles for supper and some libations. After the Alma experience, I was getting the feeling that if there’s a biggish town, stop and get food. There’s always food to be had to cook up in the little towns, but not necessary fresh meats or veggies. This trip is not only about riding the bikes, but about camping and spending time in the woods, cooking over a wood fire and unplugging.

As we’re packing the Strongbow cider onto my bike (the NSLC had it this time…shout out to the LCs for carrying my favorite nectar), two guys walk up to us, asking about the bikes. The one guy has a DR750. A what? What the hell. We’re America, we’re supposed to have everything. We have nothing. Canada, again, I love you.

I don’t know why, but we should have invited ourselves out with the guys, but we didn’t. I’m sure that would have been a fun night. I’m still learning how to not be so shy. For two computer geeks with lots of cats, I think we did pretty good.

Random gas station near Apple River, NS

Random gas station near Apple River, NS

So off to Five Islands we headed. We took back roads, taking our time meandering through divine fir forests, teeny, tiny towns (well, a gas station stop that doubles as a general store) and spectacular views of the Bay. We’re riding along, slowly taking our time, when a swarm of deer jump onto the roadway in front of my boyfriend. He is a magnet for wildlife. He manages to avoid them all, but we up our alertness level to be scanning the sides of the road. For some reason we don’t have any pictures of this ride, but it was absolutely spectacular. No people, no cars, no houses, no nothing but trees, water and deer.

We stopped for gas and it had the old-fashioned pumps, you know the kind with numbers on a roller. We pumped first, then paid. Yah, Canada! We continued to head to Five Islands, arriving pretty late as it was starting to get dark. As we were travelling in mid to late June, the sun didn’t set until 10:30/11:00 pm at night.

We’re tired. We finally arrive at Five Islands and go into the park registration building. We are met by a woman who speaks a language unknown to anyone who speaks a human language. We still have no idea what she was speaking. It was sorta English, but we both had to struggle to understand her. Instead of assigning us a campsite, she wanted us to ride around the park and pick one ourselves. Which is very nice, but I’m so tired, I don’t really fancy riding around, riding back, paying, and then riding back in.

She shows us a map and mumbles something about “gravel” and “slippy slidey” and “one way”. We both nod, just wanting to get on with picking the site. Did I mention she was incomprehensible? And we’re both linguists with a lot of experience with different languages and we literally could not make heads nor tails of what she was saying.

With map in hand, we head off. “Slippy slidey” has now become our code for “don’t take your motorbike there”. The gravel must have just been laid down in anticipation of the upcoming camping season because it was at least 4 inches (10 cm as we’re in the land of moon-man measurements) thick. The heavily laden bikes were extremely difficult to guide through this rock soup.

One screaming match later, the site was selected and I rode out to pay and pick up some firewood. Again, the woman said some words to me and I just smiled and nodded. It was almost pitch black and we still needed to get a fire going to make something to eat.

Five Islands Provincial Park, NS

Five Islands Provincial Park, NS

We got the tent set up quickly and I cooked some hot dogs over the fire. We sat in front of the fire and relaxed for the evening.

I stupidly left the extra hot dog buns out on the table and awoke in the middle of the night to some kind of animal (a bear?!) chowing down. I laid there frozen in my sleeping bag, but it most likely was a raccoon. But a bear sounds so much more dramatic.

Did I mention that the roads into and around the campground were from hell? Slippy slidey my ass…more like, oh, you’ve been riding all day, including freezing in the morning, sweating in the afternoon, deer jumping out in front of you, then here’s our gift of the thickest gravel in all of Canada for you.

There was running water and showers. It was posh. But I wouldn’t stay here again.


One Response

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  1. peter said, on 2012/11/30 at 12:12 pm

    you take a lot of nice pictures.

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