The Heart of the Ocean

Published: July 24th 2016
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My first full day in Canada! I've driven about 5 hours today, but I've reached Halifax, Nova Scotia, and I'll be here until Monday, when I have my final "big driving day" of the trip - 6.5 hours to Edmundston, New Brunswick. But for today, it's been primarily an seaside day. Even most of the driving was in view of the water, or at least not far from it.

I woke up in Saint John, New Brunswick, with the intention of viewing the Hopewell Rocks, a natural formation at one end of the Bay of Fundy. For those who don't know, Fundy has the craziest tides in the world, due to the shape of the bay - it goes quite a long way from the Atlantic all the way between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. As a result, the tides get so low that you can walk on the ocean floor for several hours every day. The site that controls access to the rocks posts tide tables so you can plan your visit. Today, the low tide was at 9:29 AM, and since the rocks were a 2-hour drive from my hotel, that wasn't going to happen. I did leave around 8:15 and got there at 10:15, after a series of horribly-kept roads and a scenic drive through Fundy National Park.

Admission to the rocks is $10, or $8 for students. I didn't have to show ID, only asking if they had student rates. So I paid $8 and walked the half-mile trail to the rocks. They were not disappointing. There's about 100 steps to get from the viewing platform to the ocean floor, which isn't a big deal for me but is for some. You can walk in either direction once you get to the bottom of the stairs, and park guides are at various points along the path if you have questions. Really, there's not much to say. The pictures will do all the talking. You walk where the tides come in, and some people stay to watch both high and low tides. I only wanted to walk around, so the low tide was all I needed. Lots of seaweed attached to rocks, and it just stays there. Most of the ground is stable or gravelly, but if you go towards the water (and sometimes at random places nowhere near the water line), you can find some great mud. I was wearing boat shoes, and my first encounter almost cost me them. You learn quickly to steer clear of that. Some kids like to play in it, and you learn quickly to steer clear of them, too. That's really the only danger I had - getting my clothes dirty. There are chains with signs posted to keep people away from certain parts of the coastline, mainly where there are caves or fallen rocks, or where there's a real reason to suspect that some idiot might climb on the rocks. It is bizarre to see trees and their root systems on the tops of these islands - which don't look like islands at low tide. They're called the Flower Pot Rocks. And they attract quite a few people - I saw car tags from as far away as Florida and Alberta.

After the rocks, I was famished. So I stopped by the restaurant on site, where they claimed to serve only locally-grown food. I ordered a Canadian specialty, poutine - it's basically fries covered in heavy gravy and cheese curds. You can get other kinds elsewhere, but this was the only kind they had here. And people who know me know that I won't turn down fries and/or cheese. And the portion was HUGE! It was also the cheapest thing on the menu, and I was filled completely for a long time with that.

My ride to Halifax was pretty uneventful. I passed through a town about 10 minutes outside the rocks that looked to me like they were having a festival, the focal point of which appeared to be a race between riding lawn mowers. I'm not kidding. Traffic was a standstill for almost 15 minutes. It probably took 20 minutes to go 1 kilometer. Ugh. Once through that, I had to get some gas. So I stopped at the most Canadian gas station ever, the Petro-Canada. I'll try to get a picture of their logo next time I visit. This place presented me with two issues - first, the price is in Canadian dollars, which I'm pretty okay with; second, the gas is listed in liters, and I'm not even going to try to do that without a calculator. Normally, I can fill up for $20 (American) in the USA, give or take. By my calculation, this fill-up took $28 (American), so gas is more expensive here, if you and I didn't already know that. After the fill up, it was smooth sailing to Halifax mostly along the Trans Canada Highway #2. I did pay a toll of $4 once inside Nova Scotia.

My residence for my stay in Halifax is at Mount Saint Vincent University. They rent out dorm rooms during the summer for about $30/night, and that was the best deal going. Plus, I'd not stayed in a dorm room in many years, so I figured it would be like going back in time. Really, the only thing that's missing is some a/c - we'll see how much of an inconvenience that will be tonight. At least it's cooler here than in Georgia.

My first stop after getting situated in the dorm room, since I now had a couple of hours to spend, was the Fairview Lawn Cemetery. Among other things, it is the final resting place of 150 victims of the Titanic disaster. There was a time as a kid, probably a year, when I was fascinated with everything Titanic. This was before the Leo and Kate movie, too. So this was a necessary stop on my journey. I can say that I definitely wasn't prepared to be overwhelmed with the reality of it all. Almost all of the graves are identical, and many have no names, only the inscription "Died April 15, 1912." Some of the stones are unique, having been paid for by family members, mostly. And they have a display sign that tells about the ongoing work to identify these people, which has been quite recent. The infant buried there was only identified in 2010. How sad. And I only saw 3 women's graves, though their sign said 4. And of course, people who love the film will find the "J. Dawson" stone - it turns out that James Cameron based the character's name on this stone, but they really don't know anything about him in real life. The site is quite respectful, and there are signs clearly showing how to find this group as soon as you enter the cemetery.

Okay, so I wrote that stuff before I left to go see the movie. What an adventure that was! I should've expected it wouldn't normal, but here ya go. I really want to see Star Trek: Beyond. I saw the last film four or five times in theaters, despite many people saying how horrible it was. I saw the one before that at least three times. I could've gone out of my way to watch this movie any of the past two nights, but I thought rest was preferable. So tonight, in a decent-sized town that has three movie theaters, I knew I would have my options. I found a big one that has a parking lot - a major asset in this town - and went to get my ticket. Only in 3D or IMAX 3D, so I guess I'm shelling out the big bucks. It's worth it, I suppose. Reserved seats, so you pay for a particular seat. Most are already taken, to my surprise - not because I think the movie will be horrible, but because it's IMAX 3D, the most expensive movie ticket you can buy. We get it, get seated, get some previews, and the movie starts. About 45 minutes into it, there's a flash behind us (I was in the 6th or 7th row, out of maybe 25) and then the screen goes blank. Employee comes in and tells everyone to stay seated and calm. Power is out all over the area. He comes back in 5 minutes and says they're evacuating because projected restoration of power will be midnight (3.5 hours away), everybody should go to the lobby. On the way out, I get 2 "courtesy tickets" for a future showing. I guess that'll be tomorrow? 'Cause I'm leaving on Monday. So I guess that's one extra thing I'll be doing tomorrow. We were all surprised that it was still light out, and the rain wasn't even coming down hard. But all the traffic lights were out, so that was fun. And I'll say that nobody got mad, or went out of turn, or anything of the sort. It was beautiful. The rainbow right in front of me for the last 5 minutes of my drive back to the dorm was also beautiful.

The room has cooled off substantially since I left - thanks to the rain, no doubt. I think I'll be able to sleep just fine here. Tomorrow, I had planned on just doing touristy things around Halifax. I guess I have one more thing on the agenda now.

Additional photos below
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24th July 2016
I loved the trees atop the "islands"

New Brunswick

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