September 6, 2007:
Leaving Hidden Valley Campground, we headed straight for the information centre right in the heart of Saint John City. Our plan was to do a walking tour of downtown - self guided of course so that we could look at our own pace. We eventually found the well hidden information centre after asking locals who were not even aware that one existed there. Unfortunately, we struck a person who had very little knowledge of the town and was only going to be able to help us if she could find a particular map - not the one on display. We eventually gave up and took what map she had and found our way round. As it turned the map we had was quite adequate.
Various historic buildings line the streets of Saint John, among them the city market which was built between 1874 and 1876 making it the oldest city market in North America. The markets cover a full city block and feature a number of original fixtures such as the wrought iron gates at the entrances at either end of the building, and the bell which rings out at the open and close of the day's business.
The market is full of traditional goods such as bread, fish, meat, fresh produce, and of course crafts. When visiting, don't forget to look up and appreciate the construction of the building - it resembles that of a upturned ship's keel. The city market structure survived the great fire of 1877 which blazed around it and consumed the rest of the city.
We checked out several other historic buildings in the city as well as the Trinity Church, established in 1783, before heading back to the camper and driving out to the Reversing Falls. The Reversing Falls are found along the Saint John River and occur when the incoming 'Fundy' tide pushes against the out-flowing river. At a point along the Saint John River, the water tumbles over a series of rapids on its journey towards the Bay. However, the sheer force of the incoming Bay of Fundy tide first stops the outward flow of the river, and as it increases, it pushes the water back up river. At the rapids, this phenomenon makes them appear to be reversing. Although we weren't there to compare the ebbing tide with the incoming tide, we saw the falls reversing and being navigated by a tour boat.
It was time to hit the road again and this time we wanted to make a beeline for Grand Manan Island. You may be wondering why we're so anxious to get there or what is the treasure ....? Well the North Atlantic Right Whales, is a species of right whale which is endangered, actually its one of the most endangered animals in the world, and it can be found during a tour from Grand Manan Island.
We drove to Blacks Harbour and got in the queue for the ferry (which is on a first come first served basis) and only waited for about 20 minutes before boarding began. It was quite alarming to see the narrow and low entrance to the ferry and even the ferry workers looked a tad stunned and weren't sure if we'd make it through. They reset the tyre ramps for our truck (which were one tyre wide) and we eased on slowly with everyone looking in every direction - up, down, sideways - it was the most challenging driving yet! Luckily the water wasn't rough and the ferry didn't move while we were negotiating it's narrow entrance.
It was a pleasant hour and a half cruise and before we knew it we were arriving on Grand Manan Island. We made contact with a couple of tour companies we'd talked to before, to reconfirm if there was a departure the following day but they wouldn't confirm either way so all we could do was hope!
Since it was getting late we decided to stay at the Anchorage Provincial Park. We picked out the most level site and set up camp with virtually nobody around us - it was a beautiful spot!
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