The Tip of Nova Scotia

brier 50Brier Island Backpackers farBrier Island, the most westerly point in Nova Scotia, is the official entrance to the Bay of Fundy.   It is out at the very end of the Digby Neck with the Bay of Fundy to the north and St Mary’s Bay to the south.  Brier Island is also known for some great whale watching opportunities.

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Whales in the Fog

whales 15digby 20Something  I was looking forward to when in this area was taking a unique whale watching tour that uses zodiac boats and goes out of nearby Tiverton, Long Island.  Ocean Explorations is run by a biologist who’s been guiding whale watching tours for 20+ years.  We signed up to go out on the first day that showed a clear weather forecast.

Getting to Tiverton meant about an hour and fifteen-minute drive past Digby, down the length of Digby Neck, plus a four-minute ferry to cross over to Long Island.  The ferry is available only on the half hour so we had to time it appropriately.

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Digby and the Acadian Shore

digby 7digby 21digby 3digby 16Traveling further down the Fundy Coast, we explored Digby, on the shore of the Annapolis River near where it meets the Bay of Fundy.  It’s a considerably larger town than all others we’d visited in the area, with over 2,000 residents.

In 1783, Admiral Digby brought 1,500 United Empire Loyalists from the New England States to Digby aboard the H.M.S. Atalanta.  Many of these pioneers are buried in the old Loyalist Cemetery.

Digby is also home to one of the world’s largest scallop fleets.  The cold temperature of the waters here doesn’t vary more than a few degrees from summer to winter, which creates conditions most favorable for the survival of the scallops.  And least favorable for my ever taking a dip here :).

It has a well-established business district, with some of the buildings  actually resting on pilings over the Annapolis Basin.  It’s also another good place to appreciate the tides of the Bay of Fundy.

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The Fundy Shore

annapolis 35annapolis 32We dedicated time to exploring the Fundy Shore, driving there at different times of day for different perspectives.   This shore is in Southern Nova Scotia, which separates the Bay from the Atlantic and is on the other side of the Bay of Fundy from our last campground in New Brunswick.

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Lovely New Brunswick

New Brunswick31New Brunswick17Like Canada in general, the province of New Brunswick is large in size and low in population.  It encompasses about 27,453 square miles and has a population of just 751,000 people or about 27 people per square mile. Continue reading

The Towns of Mount Desert Island

MDI  001MDI  003MDI  114The best-known town on Mount Desert Island is Bar Harbor (pronounced Baa Ha Ba by the “Mainers”).  Bar Harbor has a number of shops, restaurants, bars etc.  The town also offers many boat tours, including a sail on the “Margaret Todd” a 151-foot schooner and the only four-masted schooner operating in this area in over fifty years.  We’d spotted this beautiful vessel while driving through, and kept seeing it from different vantage points but we never took the tour.  There were, of course, other beautiful boats in this harbor, but the Margaret Todd was a standout.

MDI  004Bar Harbor was a cute town but we frankly thought it was a bit too touristy and only spent a half-day in the town.  Angel enjoyed the visit and got lots of pets while we ordered some tasty ice cream.

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Monhegan Island

Penobscot  059Penobscot  060Penobscot  061Penobscot  062We took the early morning mail boat out of Port Clyde to visit Monhegan Island, a small (about one square mile) rocky island which is only accessible by boat.  The island has a small village with year round and summer residents, a population of less than 65.  It has a church, a library and a school.  There are no cars or paved roads on the island.

It’s a very remote place with no pharmacies nor medical facilities, limited fire equipment, and only one public restroom facility.

The mailboat, the WWII era Laura B, has been serving Monhegan Island with cargo and passenger service for over 50 years.  With the fore deck piled high with assorted goods and a mix of tourists and locals aboard we made the 70 minute crossing.

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Boothbay Harbor

boothbay harbor  094boothbay harbor  001We’d been eagerly awaiting our arrival in Maine as this was our first time in the state and many people had told us that it’s a beautiful place.  We stayed in Southport, near Boothbay Harbor, at Gray Homestead Oceanfront Campground.

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Shifting Sands

ocracoke  012ocracoke  002ocracoke  001ocracoke  004ocracoke  005ocracoke  043There is no bridge connecting Ocracoke Island to the rest of the Outer Banks nor to the mainland.  But for those of us who don’t have our own boat or plane, there is ferry service from Hatteras Island on the Outer Banks and from Swan Quarter on the mainland.

From Hatteras, the ferry is free and operates on the hour in non-peak season and on the half hour in peak season between 5 a.m. and midnight.   What a great service.  And since this is the only way to get from the Outer Banks to Ocracoke, this ferry serves both locals and tourists.  On the day we visited the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, we attempted to take the ferry around lunchtime only to find that we’d have to wait about two hours.  One ferry had broken down and, since service vehicles get priority there was quite a line for us regular folks.  We knew in advance of the possibility that we might not make it onto the ferry and had a plan B to visit the Ocracoke, so we bailed.

On our second try, we took Angel along just in case we got stuck on the Ocracoke side and had a long wait.  We’d learned that the ferry ride time had increased from 40 minutes to an hour each way because of a massive sandbar created by Hurricane Sandy.   They’ve been dredging it and making slow progress.  Life on the Outer Banks.

It’s quite bizarre to be looking straight at your island destination and watch the ferry turn sharply away from it only to come back around.  But we were fortunate to have good weather and it was a very pleasant ride.  And, although pets are allowed to leave the car on leash, Angel rode in the car happily with the windows open, and I stayed nearby to make sure she was ok.  Her first ferry ride!

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