A weekend around Saint John, NB

On Friday afternoon, after a two and a half hour car ride from Riverview, we get to the Kingsbrae Gardens in St. Andrews, New Brunswick.

The weather is nice and the premises not too crowded; the few cars in the parking lot are from Vermont, Maine, Quebec and New Brunswick. We have a bite to eat before going in, and we can tell from the landscaping outside the gardens that we’re in for a treat. It takes us three hours to tour the Gardens and the Acadian forest.Kingsbrae Gardens - Pond and Mill

We hop in the car and head to Saint-John which is an hour drive from St. Andrews. We check into our hotel, Travelodge. Melissa greets us and puts us in room 124 which is at the far end of the first floor next to an exit that is rarely used. The room is not as Feng Shui as the room we had last week at the Coastal Inn in Sackville, New Brunswick but it has everything we need.

After a bad night of tossing and turning, (possibly because of the full moon) we get up at 6:30, have breakfast at 7 and are out the door by 8:15 am. We drive forty five minutes to Blacks Harbor to get on the 9:30 Ferry to Grand-Manan Island. We did have our reservation but because we are arriving less than 45 minutes before departure, we lose our space. Thankfully it is not full and we can get in line.

The hour and a half ferry ride is fairly smooth, a little cool but there is a mix of sun and clouds and when the sun shines it feels warm and comforting. As we get close to the island, we spot some harbor porpoises and seals; we are so pleased with our new binoculars, they are great.Dami on the ferry

We dock on Grand-Manan and our first stop is the information Center right next to the farmers Market. DD is so disappointed that the French bakery is closed; she was so looking forward to go.

Dami at the Museum
Dami cries his eyes out because he went all the way to Grand Manan island and the Museum was closed on the weekend! Boo Hoo…no museum for you today!

 We head south on the 776, and stop at Castallia Marsh, then we want to visit the Museum but it is closed on weekends: What museum is closed on a Saturday?

We go on a couple of short hikes at the Anchorage Provincial Park and it reminds us some trails we hiked a while ago at Cavendish in PEI. While we have our lunch at a picnic table between the rental cabins and the ocean, we have the pleasure to see a miniature black rabbit.The Anchorage

At the far southern end of the island, we stop at Southwest head. There is a lighthouse and we hike the start of the longest trail on the island that runs along the west part of the island all the way up to the Whistle North Head Lighthouse. The long trail takes a day and a half from what we’ve been told at the information center. It is one of the highlights of the day with the amazing view of the cliffs, the birds and the interesting plants.

Southwest Head Trail
We like this picture because the flower and the lighthouse look so disproportionate.

At Red Point, we hike a portion of the trail towards Anchorage and come back. We don’t have much time left and it doesn’t seem like we’ll see anything we’ve never seen before.

We drive all the way up to the Hole in the Wall campsite which we renamed Hole in The Head: it is not the kind of place we would like to camp at even though we don’t mind roughing it. We’ve been to awesome campgrounds on British Columbia islands and there is no comparison. The sites we saw along the shore are very tiny. Maybe there is something we’re missing but seriously, the sight of the rock pit is awful and the very large coarse gravel is making us fear for a flat tire: please get us out of here!

The Swallowtail Lighthouse area is DD’s second highlight. The views are great and the trail to get to the lighthouse is interesting. We see harbor seals.Swallowtail Lighthouse

We are on time for the ferry check in. We park the car in our lane and have more than an hour to spare. We walk to the fishing boat wharf and witness the end of the day tasks. One team of fishermen enjoy a beer after a long hard day of work while others are putting away the extra catch underneath the dock, in closed square bins.Wharf Iron Buoys

And that is how our day ends. We are lucky we have the sun back again because it had been gone for a few hours and we even had a few drops of rain. Time to go back to Saint John and the ferry is departing fifteen minutes late.

It’s been a long day and we‘re back at the hotel at 9:30pm. By 11pm we are both sleeping and have a good restful sleep.

On Sunday, we get up a little later and by 9:30 we check out and are ready to go see the Saint-John sights. We want to go to Partridge Island but can’t find a place to park or a place to walk there so we go to the Carleton Martello tower which is closed but we can still enjoy the view.Carleton Martello Tower

We spend three hours visiting the Cherry Brook Zoo. DD pets the black goat that enjoys the massage around the ears and on the neck, and she asks her to say “goat cheese” for a picture!Cherry Brook Zoo

A visit to Saint John wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Museum so that is where we head to last, from 3-5pm. We have enough time to visit the three floors and it is not crowded at all. The weather has turned sour so we are nice and dry inside.NB Museum

We had another successful weekend of exploring and discovering the province we now call home, New Brunswick, Canada. Why wait until retirement to live our dreams? We might not make it there but let’s hope we do because there is still so much to explore in our beautiful country: On July 1st, we wish you a Happy Canada Day!

 

Grand Manan Island Ferry

Boarding the ferry to Grand Manan Island is so cool! There are fisherman scooping up Dulse from the bay as we load!
Boarding the ferry to Grand Manan Island is so cool! There are fisherman scooping up Dulse from the bay as we load!

The Ferry from Blacks Harbor, New Brunswick to Grand-Manan Island NB,  is an awesome 1.5 hour trip. The views from the upper deck are awesome and chances are high one can see harbor porpoises and seals. We were glad we had our binoculars with us so we were able to spot many there and back. It is cold up on deck but it was early in the morning so we were prepared and dressed warm. We got on the ferry, parked the Vibe and walked to the

Up on deck it is sunny but cool and windy so we were happy to have a wind breaker and sunglasses. Looking like Jackie Onassis on a boat is the best way to travel in style!
Up on deck it is sunny but cool and windy so we were happy to have a wind breaker and sunglasses. Looking like Jackie Onassis on a boat is the best way to travel in style!

upper deck to watch us leave the harbor….that’s always a fun part of sailing!

We don’t want to sound snobbish but we had been used to the BC ferries from Vancouver to the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island on the West Coast

As the ferry leaves the harbor we have an awesome view of the fisherman and inlet behind us..
As the ferry leaves the harbor we have an awesome view of the fisherman and inlet behind us..

and those ferries are amazing…large decks and nice comfy lounges. The ferry to Grand Manan only had a small observation deck in comparison and it was at the back of the vessel so you often got a diesel wind from the engines exhaust. But the chance to see whales or seals or any sea life made us happy to be here…and the blue skies were awesome!

DD had a great laugh at all the bad French translation on the signs but in fact it is no laughing matter. This shows an actual lack of respect for the language: Ferry to Grand-Manan, please change your signs! It is shameful! The Google type translation mistakes are scattered all across the ferry:

The view as you get close to Grand Manan Island on the ferry is worth the price!
The view as you get close to Grand Manan Island on the ferry is worth the price!

Paint Locker; peindre casier (paint the locker)
Ships Storage (ships missing the ‘ ); Stockage du navire (stacking of ship)
Battery Room; Pièce de batterie (piece of battery)
Gift Shop; boutique des cadeaux (gifts’ shop)
Male WC; toilettes mâles  (same in French and English)
Female WC; toilettes femelles (same in French and English)

I have never seen male and female washrooms: I hope they don’t interbreed!

All in all it was a great ferry experience but if not for the porpoises our ferry rides in British Columbia and Burlington Vermont were way nicer. I know, we’ve spoiled!

Sit back and relax on the ferry to Grand Manan!
Sit back and relax on the ferry to Grand Manan!