Travel with Awe and Wonder: Getting to Newfoundland Part Two: Muddling Through


This summer, my husband and I undertook a move. A relocation from Massachusetts to Arizona has been undertaken by others, no doubt. We decided to make things a little more interesting than a direct route. We headed north. Our circuitous route is winding us through Newfoundland, Portugal, and North Carolina. When one would think to take the southerly route from the Carolina’s to Arizona in the winter months, we will make Bugs Bunny’s famous right turn at Albuquerque to get to Bozeman, Montana. Then, we’ll drive to Arizona. Our 100 pound Golden Doodle, Kipper, was not consulted in the making of these plans, but we plied him with treats for the first three years of his life to the point he considers us his pack and blindly follows our direction. Our two sons weren’t consulted either. But, given that they abandoned us in their selfish quest to get a college education, we felt at liberty to leave a note on the front door explaining why other people now live in their house.

Travel with Awe and Wonder: Getting to Newfoundland Part Two: Muddling Through

Day two started at 3 am with the mission of being at "The Flower Pots" by 8:30 am to walk amongst these huge rock formations accessible at low tide; check on Christy's wish list. With high tide coming six hours later, we would have plenty of time to drive the three hours north to see the tidal bore just outside of Truro, Canada, where we were staying that night. A tidal bore only occurs in a few places in the world. Check on John's wish list.

A spectacular sunrise greeted us starting just after we crossed into Canada at Calais at around 4:45 am. With colors changing and lingering for the next hour, we drove enraptured and so pleased with ourselves for sacrificing the few extra hours of sleep. 

Canadian sunrise drive. From Travel with Awe and Wonder: Getting to Newfoundland Part Two: Muddling Through
Canadian sunrise drive 

With the precision of an oceanographer, I had studied the tide charts to guarantee each of our tourist wish list agendas could be met, and we arrived at Fundy National Park at precisely the right time...for high tide. Oh, and by the way, The Flower Pots (which can only be seen at low tide) aren't even in Fundy National Park. They are another 40 minutes drive north, at Hopewell Rocks. (Don't tell John, but I tend to skim informational websites.) 

Our (my) little mishap was easily solved by some well-placed patience from John and an egg, bacon, cheese sandwich in the town of Alma, Canada. A decision was made to stay in Fundy National Park to do a hike, then drive to Hopewell Rocks for the ACTUAL low tide and walk amongst the rock formations 6 hours later. The tidal bore would have to go on without us.

After the lady behind the cash register (an old fashioned term for “gadget a salesperson holds up that you swipe the magnetic strip on your debit card through”) answered with, “I don’t hike,” a fellow tourist offered up the Matthew’s Head Trail as an option. She said it promises spectacular views. Thinking that telling someone that a certain hike provides spectacular views would be an odd thing to lie about, we decided to take her advice. 

As we started unloading the dog and all the dog’s gear from the Jeep, three park rangers approached us and asked if we needed any help with directions. It was a bewildering question because there was only one trailhead leading off of the parking lot, but they seemed mollified with, “I think we’ll just follow the trail.” Calmed but not yet satisfied, they questioned our provisions. Had we put on sunscreen? Did we bring enough water for ourselves? And the dog? Do you have a hat? Do we have stable shoes? A compass? Flares? Documents in the hands of a trusted individual listing next of kin?

Meanwhile, ten other families with young children had headed up the trail unqueried. 

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that John and I look young for our half-century years. We are short and round-faced. We lack a degree of gravitas. But deer in the headlights we are not. Plus, the fact that this was a 3.5 mile trail, we were starting it at noon, and it was a sunny day. The only other factor that we could think of that would warrant the overprotective attention of Jack Byrne’s from Meet the Fockers was John’s white running shoes. 

We packed our 10 bags with an eye on easy accessibility to key objects for the three day road trip to Newfoundland; items we could do without for the three days got a deeper spot in our luggage. Other than John’s hiking boots, we did a stellar job. Unless we wanted to unpack the entire car and dig deep into the bottom of the largest suitcase, John was going to wear his new white running shoes for hiking. 

With that decision, those eagle-eye forestry-trained watch dogs surrounded and angled to pounce. In a dance of agile maneuvering, we slowly skirted to the left, reshuffling our position all the while looking the submissive so as not to engage their eyes, then slowly backing away and headed up the trail. 

The path out to the tip of Matthew’s Head was a lovely tree-lined trail with dappled light filtering onto the trail floor. At the trail’s furthest point, we were rewarded with an expansive view of the exposed rock formations and the sound of crashing waves. 

We noted the two Adirondack chairs positioned for two visitors to linger at the view. The shape of an Adirondack chair seems to invite the sitter to stay longer because it is so dang hard to get out of them. We also noted that some poor forestry students had to haul those chairs several miles to this point or haul the supplies and tools to this point in order to build them on location, all the while with the hotshots of the forestry hierarchy guffawing as they planned their next hazing activity.

Cliff overlooking Bay of Fundy. From Travel with Awe and Wonder: Getting to Newfoundland Part Two: Muddling Through
Cliff overlooking Bay of Fundy

Matthew’s Head is a loop trail, so upon leaving the outermost part, we veered left. All was going well until Kipper, a creamy white dog that we let off leash (unforgivable), who had run ahead of us and around a corner, ran back to us as a half dark brown dog. 

Clue number one. 

Not being ones to retrace our steps, John and I forged on. With an increased squelching sound from each further step and the detective spirit of Sesame Street’s Sherlock Hemlock, we began to piece the clues together…the trail was going to get muddy. And thus it did, for the better part of the remaining mile and a half. 

Kipper was delighted! John and his white running shoes were not.

John and I did our best to circumvent the muddy sections of the trail. Kipper frolicked in them. At the car, with the remaining fourth of a container of water, we attempted to rinse off Kipper’s paws, legs, belly, back, and muzzle before putting him in the car. 

Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park at low tide. From Travel with Awe and Wonder: Getting to Newfoundland Part Two: Muddling Through
Low tide at the Bay of Fundy

We found a plastic baggie in which to put our hiking footwear and pulled out our beach footwear for the drive to the “Flower Pots,” where we would be combing the sands under the rock towers. At Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park during low tide, you can walk on the beach amongst the huge formations that are masked at high tide by the enormous tide differential unique to the Bay of Fundy. A short walk from the visitor’s center at Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park brought us to a metal staircase descending to the sublime rocks. 

Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park at low tide. From Travel with Awe and Wonder: Getting to Newfoundland Part Two: Muddling Through
Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park at low tide

Turns out the beach around the rocky towers is not a sandy beach, but, rather, a stone-covered beach. Kipper eagerly pulled on the leash to get to the lapping ocean water out in the distance and, obliging by means of being pulled, we headed toward the sea. 

Halfway to the water…Squelch. Wait a minute…We know that sound. 

Mud oozed over the platform of my Teva sandals. John, being pulled by Kipper ahead of me, turned back and gave me a look that seemed to say, “Are you kidding me?!” 
Everyone down by the water was wearing tall muck boots. A quick glance back to the pebble part on which we entered revealed the sandal and light-colored sneaker-wearing types of visitors, like us, but, unlike us, they were the fully-prepared types who don’t skim websites. 

Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park at low tide. From Travel with Awe and Wonder: Getting to Newfoundland Part Two: Muddling Through

Stay tuned for part three...

More in this series: 
Travel with Awe and Wonder: A Change of Life Predeparture Checklist
Travel with Awe and Wonder: Getting to Newfoundland, Part I

Christy Anselmi, the Travel with Awe and Wonder Editor for Wandering Educators, taught kindergarten and first grade for 13 years in public schools in Atlanta and Massachusetts. She took a two year diversion to teach and learn in a Montessori school in Bozeman, Montana and a 10 year sabbatical to raise her own children. Christy has an abiding interest in early childhood education and how to provide developmentally appropriate experiences to engage young people in connection and communication. Raised by parents who got Christy involved in travel at a young age, she developed a curiosity about what is around each corner. Married to a Wyoming man who developed his own wanderlust after years in the Army, the two (along with two sons) have lived in five states (Georgia, Montana, Utah, Kansas, Massachusetts, and soon to be Arizona) and one country (Germany). Christy is a life-long noticer of intriguing scenarios, phrases, and ironies in everyday life. Finally putting pen to paper, she has a growing passion for insightful travel-experience writing.

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