September 7, 2007:
As much as we tried to establish if a tour was departing today, no one was committing either way and in the end a tour didn't go because of predicted high winds. So our excitement over seeing the North Atlantic Right Whales was dampened - we were here now, so what to do??!!
We decided to take in the scenery of the island which is quite diverse and includes an array of lighthouses, steep cliffs, beaches, and local culture - although it seemed that the island was beginning to wind down for the winter now that it's September.
We turned left out of The Anchorage Provincial Park and headed to the bottom end of the island and the end of the road. Southwest Head hosts dramatic cliffs facing the Bay of Fundy which is looked over by the Southwest Head lighthouse. The original light was established in 1880 but has since been replaced and is fully automated.
Driving back through the town of Seal Cove, we stopped off to view the pretty United Baptist and Wesleyan Churches which stand side by side in almost the same quaint wooden design.
As there is only one main road on Grand Manan Island we had to back track towards the northern end. One road accesses the western side of the island in Dark Harbour so we turned off and traveled up and over the small hilly range to be spilled out suddenly in Dark Harbour. Dark Harbour is known for having the best dulse because the intertidal zone is protected from direct sunlight in the morning by the surrounding cliffs, allowing the dulse to grow darker, thicker and tastier. Dulse - a sea vegetable, is actually a red seaweed used as a food and in natural medicines. We've seen it a lot during our travels especially being sold in markets etc. Once it's dried out it can be ground up for various uses or eaten as it is. Dark Harbour was extremely quiet and we didn't see another soul around just a few boats bobbing on the surface of the protected harbour while tied to the beach.
On our way back out to the main road, we made a decision to head back to the mainland that day. There wasn't likely going to be any more tours leaving this season to see the right whales and our time could be better utilized by continuing on with the trip. After checking the ferry schedules we saw we had enough time to go right to the northern end of the island which we did after taking a side road out to see Swallowtail Lighthouse, established in 1860.
Continuing north we found the end of the road at Long Eddy Point and saw the reason behind its name. As we sat on the Helicopter pad out at the point we watched as the water swirled around forming eddies and whirlpools. Also known as The Whistle - this northerly most point of Grand Manan Island was the site of a fog alarm and the foundations of the original station came still be seen along the beach. A light tower dominates the scene here which is also the best place on the island to watch the sunset.
Time to find our place in the queue for the ferry back to Blacks Harbour. We paid our fare (the round trip is only payable when you leave the Island) and parked the camper. Feeling a little peckish we walked over to a little cafe right beside the queue - great location! Putting in our order for a toasted sandwich, we double checked that it would be ready before the ferry left and were assured that it would be. After ten minutes Rolf wandered back to the truck - just in case they started loading the vehicles. Another ten minutes passed and I was hopping around the cafe nervously and looking out the window. They were loading the ferry but so far we hadn't been given the green light! Finally the food arrived which I took and ran!! Not a minute later we were boarding .... phew!! Great food but they weren't in a hurry!
The ferry trip to Blacks Harbour went smoothly after driving the camper into the belly of the vessel through its scarily narrow entrance again. Once on the other side and safely on solid ground, we just started driving, we aimed for the city of Fredericton which we would explore tomorrow. Just outside the city we found a campground in Oromocto which was situated right on a lake (called Sunbury-Oromocto Park Campground) it was just beautiful! With the outside temperature being a balmy 28 degrees celsius (late in the afternoon), we took a walk along the sandy beach of the lake after receiving a friendly welcome from our neighbours. We had a great site overlooking the lake but in the shade of the trees.
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