Friday, July 27, 2012

Dancing a jig on the ocean floor

Day 6: Moncton to Saint John
Total mileage at the beginning of the day: 1,488

Well, I can tell I'm back in true civilization because I shaved my legs for the first time in a week. I felt compelled to in my IKEA show/hotel room. However, to balance things, I'm wearing the same outfit for the third day in a row. I totally overpacked. I'm just alternating between two outfits. I'm a pretty minimalist packer anyway, so I'm annoyed at myself, knowing I could have gone one bag lighter.

In the morning, I rushed over to Hopewell Rocks. Along with 4 billion other tourists. I can't believe it's been 10 years since I've been here. I'd forgotten exactly how crowded it gets.

Hopewell Rocks is a national park that features some awesome geography. Visitors are able to go down a four-story set of stairs to walk on the ocean floor when the tide is out. If you're really daring, you can walk right down to the water. And potentially fall knee-deep in red mud. There were a lot of those people out there. Incidentally, there's a hose/wash off spot when you get back up the stairs. Because you will get muddy. I saw one woman down there in kitten heels. Another, ankle-deep in mud, wearing a Coach bag. We're walking on the ocean floor, people. No one cares if you look good. Because you don't--we all look awkward as hell in mud and stumbling over rocks.

The view from the top of the stairs. The tops of the "flower pots"
become islands at high tide.
"Wait--is that the same natural beauty we saw in Highlands Nat'l Park the other day?"
Yes. Yes, it is.

It's pretty crowded, down there on the ocean floor. But walking up the stairs, with so many people pushing and pulling, is what made me hate humanity. Also, I didn't realize that this is one place where I would feel lonely and a little awkward. There are just so many families and friends and couples. I was constantly in the way of someone else's picture. 

I needed to get away. Fast. I drove from Cape Hopewell to Alma, right on the edge of Fundy National Park.
I had to wait an eternity for a man eating a sandwich in the entrance to move. So please enjoy this picture.
Cape Enrage! From the parking lot because I'm too cheap to pay for entrance.
I saved my appetite for Alma. The food at the Tides is not cheap, but it's really good. Mmm, scallops. They have a very different kind of batter than anyplace else--the waitress says the chef won't give away the secret.

While I was nibbling on my perfect scallops, I watched another waitress talk to a group of Brazilians at the next table. One of the men had ordered a lobster, and when it came out, he asked how to eat it. The waitress was marvelous--she took a utensil and pointed out where to begin, what to eat/not eat, etc. I watched how kind and patient she was, and how grateful everyone at the table was. And then I remembered that Boston has a restaurant "famous" for its rude ("salty") waitresses (and some restaurants that probably are more on the infamous side for the same reason). While I admit to being a surly New Englander, I was really touched by this waitress. It made for some introspection.

I've found myself to be so mellow on this trip. I'm fully relaxed, and pretty much everyone I talk to is super friendly. It changes how I interact with people. I find myself talking to strangers almost everywhere I go, saying things when I normally would keep thoughts to myself. Could it be that the road has softened me?

Besides eating, Alma is also a great place to watch the tide come in swiftly.
Before lunch
After lunch
As soon as the tide came in a bit, all the lobster boats came into the harbor in quick succession.
And people hovered around the lobster boats, some to buy fresh off the boat, I'm guessing. Others snapping pictures of the men at work.
Really? The stars and bars in NB?
But the tide was still really low, so here's some more perspective (because I, clearly, cannot get over how awesome the tide change is).
Then, I looked over to the beach, just in time to see a boy walk away after having written in the sand. It's upside down, and some words I can't make out, but it essentially says, "I'm sad. My dad is sick." And beside it in small letters, "Pray for him." All this left on a beach just about to get covered over with quickly rising water.
Quick, put on some music and head into the national park.
From Fundy National Park, you can see Nova Scotia across the bay. I'm pointing to
the approximate location of Comeauville, from which my family hails.
It's been hard today. Bittersweet. I'm acutely aware that I'm heading home. And I'm glad for that because I miss home and the kiddos. But I'm already thinking about my next visit.

It was an eventless drive to Saint John. I ended up at an Econolodge. People were friendly, but the room looked like someone's grandmother had had a field day decorating in florals. And then I have a question. What exactly is this about?
Just a couple bits of tissue sitting out blatantly on the couch.
I admit, I didn't have the energy to even really visit Saint John. Another thing to put on the list for next time. The day went quickly, and so did my stamina. As the sun went down, I watched Saint John from my hotel room, a couple exits down the highway. It sparkles like a Light Bright. And further south, a perfect view of the water. Always by the water.

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