Thursday, July 31, 2008

Moonscapes of Medford Beach

I'm taking advantage of a few vacation days this week and where better to spend my holidays than the Bay of Fundy! I thought I'd explore a few new sections of the Fundy coast on the Nova Scotia side this month, then the same in New Brunswick next month.

This week's adventure involving walking the extreme low tide beach of Medford (near Wolfville, NS). Low tide at Medford exposes a vast walk-the-ocean-floor red beach. It's a great walking beach- sandy more than muddy - and nice n' flat. Also, there are clear vantage points of low tide (several miles off-coast) so less chance of getting caught as the tide comes in. Fundy beach walking rule #1: do your exploring for about 2 hours before the scheduled low tide time; then get off the beach (the low tide time is the time that the tide turns and starts to come back in - even locals occasionally get trapped by the incoming tide).

Medford beach low tide reveals these awesome moonscape-style sandstone rock fjords & formations; think of them as Bay of Fundy sculptures in situ. I love 'em!

Monday, July 28, 2008

A recipe for Hodge Podge

Here's a classic maritime recipe - nothing fancy but oh, so tasty! Around this time of year the Bay of Fundy harvest is wildly abundant. It's tradition to drop a pile of fresh veggies into a stew pot and cook 'em. This is aptly named, hodge podge and, surprisingly, there is actually a recipe for it:

Hodge Podge

  • 1 c fresh green beans, trimmed and snapped
  • 1 c fresh yellow beans, trimmed and snapped
  • 1 c diced carrot
  • 1 c diced turnip
  • 2 c cubed new potatoes
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 c heavy cream or milk
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  1. Place the green beans, wax beans, carrots and turnip into a saucepan and add enough water to cover the vegetables. Lightly salt the water, and bring to a boil. Cook for about 1/2 hour, then add the potatoes and cook for another 1/2 hour. Stir in butter and if desired, cream.
  2. Mix together the flour and 1/2 cup water, and pour into the soup. Cook for a few more minutes to thicken. Remove from heat and serve hot.
Photo credit: Jonathan Riley

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Fundy alpaca celebrates birthday

People may be more inclined to think of South America, not North America, when they think "ideal alpaca habitat" so you may be surprised to know that there are several alpaca farms around the Bay of Fundy. There are even alpacas in residence at Kingbrae Garden in St Andrews, New Brunswick. In fact, yesterday, their smallest alpaca, Angelina, celebrated her 1st birthday with a crowd of well-wishing kids and families. Angelina munched on specially prepared 'grass cakes' and the kids enjoyed real birthday cake.

Some of the kids even came early for the Garden's daily Live Ladybug Release (10:30) and some stayed for lunch in the Café and the free daily activity in the Children's Fantasy Garden afterwards at 1:30. Sounds like fun! Thanks to Maureen at Kingsbrae for sending along these photos of Angelina at her party.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Mud Creek Days

Bay of Fundy folk may be more fond of mud than your average coastal dwellers. You see, when the tide is low, we get to see all kinds of interesting textures on the ocean floor: rock reefs, pebbles, cobbles, sandstone boulders, sand dunes, and, in some areas, gooey mud!

The folks in the Fundy town of Wolfville, Nova Scotia, are so fond of mud that they have an annual festival named after it: Mud Creek Days. It's a week's worth of good, old-fashioned hometown fun: concerts, readings, teas, art shows, and fireworks, but it's highlighted by two really neat mud-themed events: the Chocolate Mud Dessert contest (today at 7 pm) and the annual Mud Creek Sports Challenge (tomorrow) - for which they have a national corporate sponsor!!

Teams do all kinds of fun sporting events in the mud for a few hours to raise funds for a local youth sports organization. Here's a photo of low tide in the chocolatey muddy Wolfville harbour!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Nice big CAT!

I've certainly done several posts that include my Fundy dog, Belle, but I've yet to mention even one Bay of Fundy cat, not even our huge catamaran fast ferry: The Cat. This gorgeous 6-year old vessel travels between Portland, Maine or Bar Harbor, Maine and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. This is a fun trip - I've done it many times - but now is even more alluring because of higher gas prices in both Canada & the U.S.

The ship can hold up to 900 passengers and 250 cars but it scoots along smoothly at about 36 knots. The Cat runs seasonally from May 30 to mid-October. The trip from Portland to Yarmouth is 3 hrs; the trip from Bar Harbor to Yarmouth is 5.5 hours.

It makes a nice trip to come up from Maine on the ferry, loop around Bay of Fundy through Nova Scotia & New Brunswick, then pop back over the land border at St Stephen, NB - Calais, Maine.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

How's the weather 'up' here?

View Larger MapWhile I'm on the topic of interesting questions asked by visitors, I'd like to answer two common visitor questions: where is Bay of Fundy? and, what's the weather like up here? This may be especially helpful to our American friends who may be a bit less familiar with our geography.

LOCATION: As the crow flies, the Bay of Fundy is located about 200 miles (650 km) east of Portland, Maine, or about 400 miles (750 km) from Boston, Massachusetts. In fact, we're actually closer to Boston than we are to Canada's capital city, Ottawa, in the province of Ontario - 600 miles (950 km) away - see map.

The Bay of Fundy is actually situated at 45 degrees latitude: 4 degrees further south than the Canada-U.S. border, commonly referred to as the "49th parellel". The Bay lies between the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick & Nova Scotia (see coloured sections on the map)

WEATHER: Since we are on the eastern seaboard of North America, we get basically the same weather as Boston, just a few hours later as the Gulf Stream moves further along the coast. Just like Maine, we do love our fog in the summers which often 'burns off' by mid-morning.

Our temperature is reported in degrees Celsius (C). Yesterday's daytime temperature of 26 degrees Celsius is 80 degrees Fahrenheit; our 32 degrees C is 90 degrees F to Americans. Typical daytime summer and autumn temperatures are in the high 20s and sometimes 30s C. Summer evenings can stay in the 20s or high teens (70s in F) - better for sleeping!

We do get snow but only in the winter - starting in December (by Christmas if we're lucky) and ending in March. Just like Boston, we don't have snow in the spring, summer or fall, nor can you see the Northern lights from our Bay - you'd need to be much further north. We are as far away from the north pole as we are from the equator!

To check the weather forecast prior to your arrival, visit the Environment Canada website for New Brunswick or Nova Scotia or check out the weather maps links on the Fundy tourism website.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Fisherman lands massive lobster

I've previously shared some interesting lobster catches from the Bay of Fundy, such as last December's blue lobster and last January's half n' half lobster, but this week it wasn't a lobster's colour that made the news but rather its size. A lobsterman in our bay landed his biggest ever catch in a long career of lobster fishing: a 10 kg (approx. 22 lb), 100-year old lobster.

This fine specimin, dubbed "Big Dee Dee" was caught near Deer Island, New Brunswick but in temporary residence at a seafood shop in the region.

After Big Dee Dee made the national news this week, a country-wide bidding war ensued:
an Ontario woman slapped down $3,500 yesterday, eyeing a family feast. (Sorry lady but everyone knows that the bigger the lobster, the tougher....)

A Vancouver woman with the support of some humane society friends bid higher and she intends to fly down to release the lobster back into the Bay.

The Big Fish Seafood shop has been welcoming about 100 visitors a day since Big Dee Dee arrived but, alas, she can't live forever in captivity. As much as I like a good feed of lobster, I say let the old fella enjoy his retirement years where he belongs: in the Bay, not on the table!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Will the real TIdal Bore please stand up!

I thought it only fair to show you the 'real' tidal bore. Several rivers around the Bay of Fundy have this phenomenon but best known is the Shubenacadie River about 1 hr from Halifax, Nova Scotia. There's a nice little observation deck and interpretive centre in South Maitland from which to view the bore.

If you go, here's a tip.....stay for about 45 minutes after the initial wave passes by the lookoff. Watch the sides of the river and you'll see it fill up like a bathtub. Very cool!

If you'd rather be in the water than on it: try the tidal bore rafting. The water is warm (bathwater temp) and the ride is raucous!

This bore photo from one of the rafting companies: Shubenacadie Tidal Bore Rafting Park. Also rafting available with Shubenacadie River Runners. I've gone rafting with both - great guides, great fun!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Can you eat the Tidal Boar?

Just like any other tourist destination, we're prone to hearing the odd hilarious question from visitors from time to time. Top among Fundy's funny queries is: where can you go to eat (or better yet, hunt) the tidal boar...? The fact of the matter is that our tidal bore is a bore not a boar. No porky culinary delights to be had on these shores!

A tidal bore is a tidal phenomenon in which the leading edge of the incoming tide forms a wave (or waves) of water that travel up a river or narrow bay against the direction of the current. As such, it is a true tidal wave (not to be confused with a tsunami).

Here in Fundy, the incoming tides are funneled into shallow, narrowing rivers via the outer bay. The funnel-like shape not only increases the height of the tide, but it can also decrease the duration of the flood tide down to a point where the flood appears as a sudden overall increase in the water level.

Although the overall vertical tidal range here in Fundy measures about 50 feet, the common height of the bore is around 12 feet. And the taste to the palate? well, briny, of course!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

New use for old Bay of Fundy buoys

For the past year, I've been looking for an appropriate civic address sign for my new house but couldn't find anything that quite matched its cottage style.

Then it occurred to me: why not recycle a washed up Bay of Fundy buoy! It just took a couple trips to the beach to locate a used buoy then a bit of craft paint to finish the job.

I'm very pleased with the result...and passersby seem to be as amused as I am by the idea.

Friday, July 11, 2008

World's best chowder!

Just like many other coastal regions in North America, the Bay of Fundy has its share of restaurants claiming (but rightfully, in our case, of course!) to have the World's best seafood chowder!

From personal experience, I have to say that The Caves Restaurant in St Martins, New Brunswick, is a top contender for this honour....

Not only is the chowder great in this family style restaurant but diners have a panoramic view of the sculpted sandstone sea caves, the horizontal tidal effect, and a vast section of exposed ocean floor (at low tide). What a perfect combination of activities to complement the world's best chowder!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Eating marsh greens

I arrived back from the Not Since Moses race exhausted and exhilarated this evening. Got lots of video footage, which I'll post within the next few days. On the way back from the race, I picked up some marsh greens for dinner. Marsh greens definitely qualify as 'weird stuff we eat' around the Bay of Fundy. They're hand picked from Bay of Fundy salt marshes (we've got plenty of salt marshes: see my post earlier this week about dyked farmland).

I snapped this photo of them raw & rooty on my patio. Remove the roots then steam or boil just like any other green (fiddleheads, kale, beet greens, etc.) and top with butter or vinegar. Should restore my energy for sorting through my voluminous photos and video tomorrow!!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Historic house & garden tour

Here's a fun event to attend if you happen to be in the Bay of Fundy town, Annapolis Royal this weekend: the annual historic house and garden tour! Hosted by the Annapolis Historic Gardens, the tour features tours of many historic homes in the town's designated National Historic District as well as several private gardens. The Historic Gardens themselves are in prime rose season - it's worth the trip just for that!

These photos show the Queen Anne Inn (both house & garden on display during the tour) as well as one of thousands of rose blossoms (a Tabris) in the Historic Gardens. Even if you can't make it to Annapolis Royal this weekend, it's a lovely Bay of Fundy town to explore anytime - fun shopping, historic sites, theatre and great restaurants!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Whale washes ashore

It's been decades since I remember a whale sighting in the upper part of the Bay of Fundy. Whales aren't usually attracted to either the Minas Basin or Chignecto Bay sections of Fundy; the water is too silty up here so no whale food to be found. Unfortunately, we usually only see whales up here when they've washed up dead on the beach.

Such was the case at Slack's Cove near Rockport, New Brunswick, this week. A fin or sei whale (about 50 feet/15 metres long) washed ashore in Cumberland Basin, which feeds into the Chignecto Bay section of the Bay of Fundy. Whale researchers hope to determine the cause of death, gender, age and whether the whale is a fin or sei, (by looking in its mouth) before the carcass is disposed of.

Interestingly, dead whales are usually buried rather than allowed to re-float because the tides will just land it on another Fundy beach. Although I've heard of an alternative method of whale disposal....

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Best Fundy spot for Canada Day

It's Canada Day today! If you're Canadian you may immediately think of our nation's capital (Ottawa) or, in Atlantic Canada, perhaps Charlottetown, PEI, as the place to be on Canada Day today. I'd like to offer up a lesser known Bay of Fundy hotspot for Canada Day celebrations: the Ottawa House by the Sea Museum & Historic Site in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia.

The full 9 chapters (240 yrs) of history of the Ottawa House are too extensive to mention in a single blog post, but suffice to say that the building (and adjacent Partridge Island) have played a prominent role in trade, the Age of Sail, Canadian sovereignty, early settlement & growth of the region, etc., since it was first constructed in the 1770s.

What makes the Ottawa House most suited to Canada Day celebrations is that it was Sir Charles Tupper's summer home in the 1860s, in the years leading up to Confederation. It was here that Tupper regularly hosted his fellow Fathers of Confederation and other notables who were instrumental in forming our great nation in 1867.

Canada Day is joyfully celebrated each year at the Ottawa House. The museum (overlooking the Minas Basin of the Bay of Fundy) offers an afternoon of flag raising, speeches, tours, performances by the Parrsboro Citizens Band, and, of course, birthday cake!