September 12th and 13th
After the fishermans museum in Lunenburg it was off to the Bay of Fundy to see the worlds largest tides. There is really nothing to see mid island so I will start with Digby where the nicest lady was working the visitor office. She told me that the likelihood of seeing a whale on the ferry to St. John NB was slim and none. Instead she suggested going to the Digby islands which is a stretch of land West off of of Digby that is broken up into two islands: Long and Brier. There would be beautiful sunsets, seals and lots of interesting rock formations. She also helped me find a room which is hard to do there (I think there was a cancellation). Well it was getting close to low tide so I rushed off but not before getting a picture in Digby and of this little fishing village on Long Island.
I made the first ferry in good time which leaves on the hour every hour heading West and 25 minutes after the hour heading East. Off I went to the next ferry about 17 kilometers away and literally I drove on and it started leaving. About 3/4 of the way over (note thi;s fraction is very accurate to my current standing in closed circles) we had a mock fire drill. Really it was for the school bus full of children going home to the island.
Check out the tides in the next two pictures
I Quickly checked in and dropped my things at the old 100 year old house that was nicely restored but more on that later. I went to a little cafe and order 2 grilled cheese sandwiches which they made with sliced cheese (which isn’t even cheese, yuck!), two chocolate chip cookies and a sports drink in anticipation of my hike to find some seals, noteworthy rocks, mammoth tides and a sunset to boot.
There are only two main roads here which are paved that are connected by a few small streets. They are more or less just over one lane wide but there is almost no traffic except when the ferry arrives or departs. The town is maybe one kilometer in length and a gravel road continues west of the town for about two kilometers to Northern lighthouse of the island. I parked there and started along the atv track through the tall golden grass above the rocky shore. It is loaded with many bushes and some stunted trees. Above the grassy area is an evergreen forest of what appears to be Black Spruce. I followed the undulating path which made its way close to the shore which wrapped the island in a series of small miniature coves. I had seen on the map “Seal Cove” where the seals would sun themselves on the rocks then jump in the water once and while to cool off just like Colin Morrisson would do at Sakinaw Lake.
I figured I was there but I wasn’t sure because there wasn’t any seals and there is no signage on the trails. I ran into a bit of luck here as some other tourists were heading in my direction who had stopped to look in the same cove. They had binoculars and the kindly lending them to me they pointed out that what I I had thought were grey rocks out in the water was a small rock covered with female elephant seals which are grey unlike the males which are black. I left the path and headed to end of the rocky cliff protecting the cove to get a better look. Now I could see them with my own eyes but they were at least 100 meters away and I could not make out their faces. I sat there for quiet a while until I caught a male swimming towards me in the water. Check out the video:
I decided after seeing a seal at this distance I should venture to the other coves to see if there was anything better. From here I did use the path or rather I scrambled over the rocky shore and outcroppings of rocks looking for seals. I eventually came to a place where I could make out the Western lighthouse which is on the corner of the Northwestern tip of the island. I waited and waited watching the tide come in and the sun begin to set until I saw a seal swimming by with his headed perked up way above the water. I watched him for at least an hour possibly more as he surfaced, checked me out then ducked under water. Whenever I made any sudden motion he was under so quickly I would be able to capture a picture so I waited patiently. When I saw him again I would whistle and make noises since this seemed to garner his attention. He would look around to locate the sound then fixate on me. It was fun and helped pass the time waiting for the tide.
When I thought I had seen enough I headed back toward the first lighthouse to catch the sunset. Along the way I caught a few more glimpses of seals but all I could make out were a bunch of black heads floating in the water. The sunset wasn’t that great to be honest but I snapped a few pictures to captures the orange glow of the sun before heading to the only restaurant on the island (other than the cafe with the classy grilled cheese sandwiches). Dinner wasn’t bad and I had a glass of wine from the Jost which wasn’t bad but not comparable to BC wine but what do I know about wine.
The Bed and Breakfast I was staying was an old home built in 1830. It is more or less restored with some modern conveniences as well. When I arrived there were the next door neighbor who works on the whale watching boat, a couple from Ontario and a couple from England. I was offered a beer part way through introductions and though I wasn’t really feeling like one I had one anyway. The couple from Ontario had drove and were going head back the next day while the couple from England had recently arrived and still had two weeks to travel. Both groups had gone on the whale watching tour that day and saw a large number of humpback whales. Some of them even saw one close to the boat which made me think I should stay another day. Everyone was convinced including myself that it would be a good idea but on the way back to the house the fog had come in and I would have to wait until tomorrow to make my final decision.
That night the fog horn from the lighthouse literally sounded off every 10 seconds. Even as tired as I was from the driving I couldn’t get to sleep and it was still going strong the next day at 7:30 when I scrambled on as the last vehicle on the ferry. I decided to forgo the whale watching simply due to weather which would have eliminated or decreased my chances for seeing anything. On the way back on the second island I stopped and hiked in to Balancing rock which was only about a 2 kilometer hike but worth it for the rugged steep coastline that volunteers had built a stairway and lookout for the Balancing Rock. There would be no other way to see since the coastline is all cliffs. I look around here for quiet some time since it felt so remote with the fog and the hike to the vantage point.
I caught the final ferry to the mainland by mere seconds just like the last. In fact I drove on and they hoisted the ramp as I was parking. I did stop in Digby for a few shots of the tide and decided to head for Annapolis Royal which is one of the earliest settlements of Canada and the capitol of Acadia as well as Nova Scotia before Halifax. During its time it has been switched hands between the British and French a few times and there is still a British fort here, Fort Anne, which was the first Historic site of Canada. Just off the highway you drive along a road lined with massive trees shading the road and very large and very old homes before reaching a tiny one street town centre where I had lunch, walked the tiny boardwalk then surveyed the grounds of Fort Anne. Inside the old Barracks building is a history of the location and the battles along with some artifacts and the Declaration Charter of Nova Scotia. The girl running working for parks Canada did a little running and we chatted about the training techniques I have learned from Carey Nelson, thanks coach!
There is also a winery near Annapolis but I decided to get the car back to Halifax to avoid paying for another day. Unfortunately I was 4 hours late and they couldn’t pro-rate the difference. I then arranged to meet up with my final host Karl Lange who is friends with Craig and Carol from Ontario who had put me up at Big Cedar Lake if you remember. He had a dinner date that night but he had cooked my something in a slow cooker which was excellent. I was pretty tired from all of the driving so I just chilled out and stayed in. The remainder of the trip will be spent in Halifax. I have also found out that I should be able to fly home on Tuesday so keep your fingers crossed. Stay tuned for two more posts: one about Halifax and my summation of the trip.