Blomidon Provincial Park, Nova Scotia, Canada

Friday, August 21: VERY long day today, and we did a lot of stopping along the way to add to the overall 5.5-ish hours from New River to Blomidon. But, boy-howdy, was it worth it. Blomidon Provincial Park is a very special place.

But I’ll get to that in a moment.

We stopped for a long time in St. John, bought our phone chip and took a long time with their wi-fi to set up our prepaid plan. Every other soul in the entire mall was also online, it seemed, so the speed was glacial. I didn’t get the opportunity to upload any blog posts and figured I’d wait until I got to a dedicated wi-fi at a Tim Hortons or someplace before I gave a go to uploading photos.

 Anyway, the drive was quite lovely, but our heads nearly exploded when we made our first Canadian fuel fill-up. Granted, the US dollar is strong against the Canadian dollar, but their fuel is spectacularly high. 
The sign means that it’s nearly a dollar and eight cents PER LITER up here. If there are 3.5 (ish) liters to our US gallon, that’s ~$3.78 Canadian dollars per US gallon. Grant the currency conversion and we’re still at something like $3.25-$3.50/gal to the US $2.40/gal.

And we’re always in a headwind or a crosswind hereabouts, so our mpg has crumbled to 16. We had been rather smug about getting in the neighborhood of 18mpg towing Roomba, but not up here and through the northeastern US mountains, I’ll tell you.

But it is what it is.

Anyway, it was a lovely drive up past Moncton, and then down toward Truro, skirting the Bay of Fundy and into Nova Scotia. We switched drivers about every 2 hours and took the hypotenuse of the triangle to avoid getting into Halifax during their Friday rush hour, to head along a smaller road #14, halfway between Truro and Halifax, headed southwest to Windsor.

There is an entire peninsula jutting into a northern part of Fundy that forms the Minas Basin, and there’s not much out that peninsula except the Blomidon Provincial Park and Scots Bay. The very tip of the peninsula is called Cape Split. About halfway to Scots Bay is what folks call “The Lookoff” and it’s a high bluff from which you can see quite an enormous portion of the Minas Basin.

But, as we learned, if you go up Rt. 358 (the only “real” road to access Scots Bay) slightly too far past The Lookoff, you just cannot get to Blomidon. We discovered this by getting ourselves right up to Scotts Bay and the end of 358, where we turned around, and a very nice young man stopped his car, waved us down, and said, “It looks like you need directions.”

He set us straight back toward The Lookoff, but prior to that we had to take a gravel road called something like Smith Mountain Rd. He said that would T at a paved road and we go left toward the Provincial Park.
I’d mapped the route by then with our Canadian iPhone, and that nav system wanted us to turn off Smith Mountain Rd. onto something called Green Branch, but there was not only no turn – we would have headed into a pasture with a bank of bee hives sitting there. 

It was another of those “hypotenuse of the triangle” shortcuts, and I’m very glad we continued on, as we saw the other end of the “green” road once we were on the paved road, and it was nothing more than a pasture track. Roomba would not have been pleased to bounce along that baby.


Somewhere on top of that bluff is the Park Campground.
Overlooking the Minas Basin, fed by the Bay of Fundy

We climbed and climbed and finally got up to the check-in station, and it’s on a very high bluff and the wind was fresh and the view was spectacular. The information about Blomidon Provincial Park says: “From the front lawn of the Park Office you can see five counties.” No doubt.

I took some pix, and as Jack was checking us in, and a few folks were walking to the Office from the campground, and one of them said, “Oh, another Alto!” I said another Alto? and she said, “Yeah, we have a 1743 sitting right down there in site #2.”

And the world gets smaller still: She saw our license plate and asked where in VA we were from and when I said “Meadows of Dan,” ready to explain to the usual blank look where MoD was, she said, “Get outta here.” And when I asked if she knew it, she said “We’re headed down to Meadows of Dan next month.”
Turns out, she picked up her 1743 in October of 2014, and has been living on the road in the Alto ever since. She happens to travel with a fellow who is brother to acquaintances of ours, who themselves live across the street from our very good friends, Jack and Martha (with whom we spent a few days at Virginia’s own New River State Park Rail Trail earlier this August).

Wow. Mary (?) and Mike are very friendly folks and she has been up here to Blomidon in the distant past and had always wanted to come back, and here she is, at the same time we are experiencing it for the first time. 

We compared dates and it looks like we’ll be back from our trip while Mary and Mike are down visiting his brother in MoD, so we might get to see them again. We made noises about sharing a meal while we’re here in Blomidon, but I don’t know if our schedule will allow that – but it would be fun. They have a cute airdale-type dog called Riley and he makes me miss my sweet doggies back home.

We had an easy set-up (site #62 – notes to self: 1) try to get a site up on the bluff where the wind moves more; 2) not next to the pit toilets) and poured ourselves some refreshment, and walked back to the Office to watch the darkening of the “five counties” from the bluff. The moon rose and the sight was just magic – overcast, but just enough sun to light the sky as it set to our backs. The bluff looks eastward.

Notes on the campground for fellow campers: There are nice bathhouses scattered around, plentiful water faucets for filling jugs, and a “community center” with a fire pit outside that anyone can use to get out of the weather or meet up with friends, etc. Our site is well-secluded from our neighbors’ and there’s a big open field across the drive from us, empty now, but ready to take campers if they want a sunny, breezy spot with no privacy at all. Site #1 is enormous, just on the bluff but protected by a nice bank of trees, and we saw a camper using a Chuckit with her dog to give exercise in the open space around that site. 

There are no hookups here, but the dump station does offer a potable water hose for filling tanks, if you choose. We didn’t choose to do that this go-round. 

Our site is secluded, but open to the sky, so if there’s sun, we’ll get solar charging to keep the fan and ‘fridge going. Hoping for sun tomorrow.

Hiked back to our site to the chewings of major mosquitoes, and had a sandwich at 9:30 PM. We had made noises earlier about grilling those sandwiches, but we were too tired to bother. It was a very long day, indeed.

The forecast for our stay here is 50/50 for rain, and the radio weather reports said Halifax was socked in with fog, so we’re unsure if we’re going to have great weather or not. But again, it is what it is and this is such a lovely place, we are happy no matter what the weather gods throw at us. 

New River Provincial Park, New Brunswick, Canada

Thursday, August 20: The expected rains never fell while we were at Mt. Blue SP Campground, although it stayed hot and humid. Awakened to very close air and overcast skies, but no rain. 

Wanted to get an early start on a long day (our last for a while in America), so we skipped breakfast and were headed out by 8A. 

Nothing remarkable to note about the early drive, but when we were outside of Bangor, off the I-95, we found a sweet cafe called Vittles where we got a big breakfast at about 10A. While we were there, we also got fuel, and switched drivers.
 All along our drive through Maine (and also some of VT and NH) we were seeing “Moose Crossing” signs and alerts for traffic. And we wanted to see a moose somewhere not too close to the road or the Roomba. But alas, we didn’t see much wildlife at all — not even much in the way of flattened fauna on the roadways. But I did capture this photo of a couple of moose on a building.

We had no trouble at the border crossing at Calais, Maine. Contrary to our worries, the border officer didn’t ask about any foodstuffs we might have along with us at all. Just firearms, alcohol (we’d finished all the wine and beer we’d had over dinner at Mt. Blue), manufactured goods, packages we might leave in Canada or picked up from strangers in the US, and a bit about our vacation.

Our first stop at St. Stephen in New Brunswick (the Canada entry city from Calais) was Atlantic Superstore, an enormous grocery place halfway between a Big Lots and a WalMart Superstore. The primary reason for our stop there was to find a place to buy a KooDo phone chip for our unlocked iPhone, plus a prepaid call and data plan.

The very friendly folks there didn’t have any chips for Apple products, but they steered us in the correct direction for both a Bell telephone place and our equivalent of an ABC store, where we could find wine and beer.

The Bell folks were not helpful at all, and our friends at the Atlantic store had said there was a KooDo mall kiosk in St. John, the next city along the route we would be taking tomorrow to Blomidon State Park in Nova Scotia. So we decided to wait a day to get navigation and phone calling.

The liquor store had a very good selection of wine but a dismal micro beer choice. Lots and lots of the “big name” American beers, in cases and pallets. And a moderate choice of imports (Stella Artois, Heineken, Fosters), and of course, Molson’s — but nearly nothing from American or Canadian micro breweries. 

I got what I could (Goose Island IPA) and we carried on to New River Beach Provincial (State) Park, along Rt. 1 near the Passamaquoddy Bay, off the Bay of Fundy.
Lots of water along the way, and we really loved our campsite (#12) and the amenities (electric only, but great bathhouses and really delicious water). The entire place was surrounded by fragrant fir trees and mosses on the ground, heritage rose bushes and sea-side grasses. Even though there were lots of people there, we felt nicely private. 

We hiked down to the beach, across a small road from the camping area, even though the fog had rolled in and socked in the entire view. Got the Bay of Fundy tide times, and I wet my feet in the Canadian waters.
Sitting back at camp we were scolded by a wee fiesty red squirrel, eating pine cones on his “picnic bench” about Roomba roof level in a nearby tree.

We’d definitely come back to New River and try to spend some time here in the future.