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Tide Is High

August 13, 2013

There was one day on this trip for which I was woefully under-planned. That day was today.

I knew we’d be going to the Bay of Fundy to see the world’s highest tides, but I had no idea where along this massive body of water we’d go, what we’d do there, or even what the choices were. I picked Saint John as our base because it’s the biggest city on the Bay and also the closets to America, which meant less travel time. All I knew was that, wherever we ended up going, we should go there at low tide and at high tide so that we could see the difference. It was only once we got to Saint John that I realized I had no real plan and no real knowledge with which to formulate one.

So Sunday night, with my back to the wall, I finally started researching in earnest. It turns out that Saint John is a great place to watch reversing rapids, which is kind of hard to explain but is actually a pretty simple in concept. See, rivers run downstream into oceans. The Bay of Fundy is part of the Atlantic, so it’s an ocean. The Saint John river empties into the bay. During low tide, when the bay waters are receding away from the shore, the river flows normally. But when the tide is rising, it rises so fast that it rushes up into the river, briefly shoving the river’s flow into reverse. Saint John has a public park, called Reversing Falls park, where you can stand and watch the river hit the bay, and if you’re there at the right time you can watch this reversal. It all sounded pretty cool to me, so I decided that Reversing Falls Park would be our default plan unless I could come up with something better.

That’s when I remembered the rocks. If you live in the northeast, you’ve probably seen that magazine/bus/subway ad for New Brunswick tourism that shows the freaky-looking rock–you know, the tall one that’s wide at the top with trees growing out of it but skinny at the bottom, like a freaky, disproportioned hourglass. The ad explains that the weird rock formations are the result of the 40-foot tides that rush in and out twice daily. I had forgotten all about those rocks until Sunday night. So I started researching. Turns out they’re called the Hopewell Rocks and they’re only found in Hopewell Cape, which is two hours east of Saint John, which meant that a trip there would include an additional four hours of driving. Sigh.

It was pretty late at night by this time, and my thinking may not have been its clearest, but I decided to go for it. The Reversing Falls thing is OK, but the Hopewell Rocks are by far the coolest part of the Bay of Fundy. When we first thought about going to the Bay of Fundy, it was probably because of those rocks. Well, the rocks plus the fact that Fundy is a funny name. And I haven’t even told you the best part: if you go there during low tide you can walk around on the dry ocean floor among the rocks, and if you get there during high tide you can kayak around and between the rocks. And if you can be there for both, well, how awesome would that be?

I checked tide times for Monday and hatched my plan: we’d leave our terrible motel as early as possible, head to the Reversing Falls a little before low tide, and then trek to Hopewell Cape to see the world famous Hopewell Rocks. We’d get there while there was still time to walk the ocean floor, then we’d have lunch and wait around another hour or so, and then we’d either kayak through or just stare at the rocks at high tide. It would set us back half a day and require hundreds of miles of driving, but it’d be worth it.

It was. The Reversing Falls was interesting, if not especially exciting. When the tide is low, as it was for us, the rocky bottom of the riverbed causes roaring rapids and occasional whirlpools. We saw a few brief whirlpools and were tempted to stick around for an hour or so to see the river reverse its flow, but it would’ve been at the cost of seeing the Hopewell Rocks from below, so we headed to Hopewell. Low tide was at around 11a.m. there. We arrived at 12:40, which meant the tide was creeping back up but we still had plenty of time to explore.

WOW! Seeing the rocks up close was infinitely better than looking at that magazine ad! Sam had mentioned on Sunday that visiting the easternmost point in the U.S. was the first thing we’ve done this entire trip that felt especially adventurous. Even the skydiving, he said, was at some company. Wandering around a dry ocean floor climbing through and over and in between giant freaky rocks gave us the feeling we were exploring some foreign planet. And knowing all the while that if we didn’t leave in time we’d be caught by the quickly rising tide just heightened our excitement. We spent almost an hour wandering and exploring and examining and photographing and laughing about being in the Bay of Fundy on Mondy. It was extraordinary.

Hopewell Rocks

Hopewell Rocks

Hopewell Rocks

IMG_2285 IMG_2287 IMG_2316 IMG_2294 IMG_2318 IMG_2333  IMG_2341 IMG_2344 IMG_2348 IMG_2351

Sorry, I know it’s a lot of photos. It was just so cool I have to share!

On our way back up to the car, we stopped off at the kiosk for the company that leads the kayaking tours. Sadly, we were told that the water was choppier than usual today so they weren’t allowing anyone younger than 16 to kayak. We were disappointed, of course. But took our sweet time eating a picnic lunch, enjoying the weather, and making our way through the gift shop, and by the time we were done it was about an hour and a half before high tide and we were back in good spirits. Not having the patience to wait around any longer, we headed back down to the rocks to see what had changed. Of course, our view was limited due to the fact that the ocean floor was now covered with 15 or so feet of water, but it was still pretty amazing. Check out the before and after:

Low tide

Low tide

High tide

High tide

We stayed to gaze and to appreciate nature’s freakiest abilities for a few minutes. We left when the kayakers came out, which was really cool to watch but also made us jealous.

Finally it was time to head back stateside. Sam passed the time by watching “Ghostbusters” for the first time (he loved it, by the way), and I passed the time by marveling at how poorly my car’s GPS works in Canada and how much gas costs ($1.30 per litre, which works out to more than $5 per gallon). Eventually we made it back across the border, at which point we chanted “U-S-A! U-S-A!” and got our hour back by switching back to Eastern time. 7:45 magically became 6:45, and we stopped at the first rest stop we came to on I-95 to make dinner. At Sam’s suggestion, we celebrated Fundy Mondy with a treat: ribs. As we ate, we talked about how fantastic and magical the Hopewell Rocks were. Sam thanked me for the day’s adventure, which he tends to do during dinner almost every night on these trips. But this time I responded by thanking him in return. He asked what for.

“For being my excuse for taking these trips, and for being the one who comes along with me.”

He thought for a few seconds, and then he said something I don’t think I’ll ever forget:

“If I have a son, I’m going to do this with him every year.”

My heart melted. He continued.

“And I’m going to use your itineraries, unless there’s new stuff by then, like flying cars or something.”

The day may not have been perfectly planned (OK, or even planned at all), but often life’s best moments are not the one you plan but the ones you never see coming, that just pop up without warning and take your breath away.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Юсуп permalink
    January 12, 2017 3:24 am

    The ebb and flow – the result of the Earth’s rotation and whirlpools.

    The discovery published in the Russian-German scientific journal “Eastern European Scientific Journal” №3. 2015. The discovery is also published in the scientific journal “Reports of independent authors” №33. 2015. Positive review was obtained from the Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences..

    The waters of lakes, seas and oceans of the Northern Hemisphere rotate counter-clockwise, and the waters of the Southern Hemisphere, rotate clockwise, forming giant vortices ..

    It is known, what  everything that rotates , including swirls have the property of retaining the gyroscope axis upright in space regardless of the Earth’s rotation..

    If you look at the Earth from the Sun, whirlpools spinning with the earth overturned, twice a day, making whirlpools precess and reflect on my own tidal wave around the perimeter of the sea..

    The waters of the Gulf Maine waters are rotate counter clockwise to form a huge whirlpool, a gyroscope, which reflects the precessing tidal wave around the perimeter of the Gulf of Maine.
    A similar scheme tides observed in all lakes, seas and oceans.
    Continued: Forum MEPhI
    Приливы и отливы – результат вращения Зе­мли и водоворотов

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