We spend our last day in the driving wind and drizzle making our way to Argentia for our ferry ride off the Rock. The winds keep increasing until it’s a steady 80 kilometres an hour. I am secretly hoping the ferry is cancelled. But this is Canada so it’s only delayed and the ticket takers and vehicle directors calmly march through the INSANE winds their yellow slickers whipping around.
On the ferry from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia – huge waves – the ship slamming and crashing down – I have no idea how the kids sleep through it. My disaster ready brain was wired for a “rogue” wave – something I read about in a book years ago, where seemingly out of the blue in a storm a huge 100 foot wave will arrive and crush a ship. The sailing was delayed because of the high winds – so after waiting for almost two hours the cars and trucks start loading into the ferry and this is the exact time that Sabine needs to pee – I wonder why we are always THAT family – holding up the line although – to be fair – this time there is no one behind us.
By morning the winds have died down and we are now gently rolling along with no more huge upheavals and crashes down with the boat creaking and straining. We still walk a little sideways on our way to breakfast. While talking about our nights – Sabine slept all the way through, Anderson rolled around a bit but slept, Chris slept, Erin imagined a one hundred foot rogue wave and all of us sinking into the freezing waters to be eaten by sea creatures – I come up with my next job/business venture. I will be a Disaster Specialist – I can tell you how any situation, no matter how innocuous, will end in death. Chris names my new concept “Watch Out For That Spoon”.
We arrive unscathed and hit it for The Bay of Fundy. It’s a beautiful drive from North Sydney – sparkling waters, bright blue sky, the leaves just beginning to blush on the top. Occasionally we pass one bright red tree just letting it’s little light shine. Of course since the ferry was delayed we arrive at the campsite at 11pm. We quickly discover that the winch to raise the roof is unattached (perhaps from the killer waves) Chris fixes it but has to lie on his back for an hour to do it. Thank everything that the kids sleep like champions – sleeping is pretty much Sabine’s super power – so it doesn’t even register for them when we tuck them into their warmed up beds after midnight. I do dwell on the heated mattresses but I’m telling you its a game changer – I have no idea why all mattresses don’t have this feature.
Annnnd it’s fall with salt and fir – two defining features of Fundy National Park. In fact a perfect fall day crisp and chilly in the morning, saturated blue sky with no clouds – the sun gradually warming it all up so we are stripping off layers and then piling them back on the second we get into the shade of the trees. We head to the visitor centre run by Parks Canada where they send us on a secret garden adventure and then over to a pond to see beaver damns and bull rushes. Then we trick the kids into a hike with fruit gummies as bribery pellets….it’s moderately successful. Anderson spots a frog, we get to watch a chipmunk take down a pine cone, sneak up on a soft brown rabbit with black tipped ears and Sabine sleeps in her carrier. We are rewarded with incredible cliff side views of the bay with the water steadily leaking out. We are also heralded with Anderson’s complaints and sarcasm which go along with any long walk. We spend the early evening examining the flat bottom of the bay at low tide. To be honest it was pretty cold and not super exciting. Although the light was beautiful with the sunset fading into cool blues and shadowy graphite. The Bay of Fundy boasts the highest tides in the world and this is from a combination of the wide mouth of the bay that narrows and the bottom is very shallow. The tide is described as a wave in a bathtub rocking towards the other side.
We have decided to beat a quick trail across the country to the west coast. The weather is turning and our timeline is short. With some long drive days ahead (combined with rain and cold) we decide to hit some motels for the next few days – Chris and Anderson are going Musky fishing around Ottawa and I will be with landlubber Sabine so I want to have easy proximity to a pool and maybe a library or a bus ride to a museum. The drive through New Brunswick is mostly done at night we finally pull over at 11:00pm to tuck into a faceless motel with parking right outside our door. The perfect transfer does not happen this time (I’m telling you heated mattresses!) and we wind up with two owly urchins in one starched and bleachy double bed whining at each other until at least 12:30 am and with an other 7 hour drive ahead of us tomorrow.
It feels like we are driving into fall – the previous days of the occasional red tipped foliage has deepened with wine and plum – the greens burning into straw. The sky is dove grey with darker clouds over the horizon and the rain is intermittent as we literally blow through Quebec only slowing as we drive up and over Montreal – creeping past the tops of church spires in the “rush hour” (it’s noon) traffic. I start looking up hotels already imagining my lazy morning tomorrow – the dudes are going musky fishing before the crack of dawn leaving Sabine and I to some lazy book reading to be topped off with breakfast that I won’t be making and no dishes to wash in cold camp waters. Except every hotel I call is booked – so I try tripadvisor, trivago, expedia, kayak – Ottawa is entirely booked – there are, in fact, NO airbnb’s save some chalets 30 minutes outside of the city. The tornado has displaced a lot of people – at least that is what we are told by hotel after hotel. Luckily we drag around a house on a leash so we settle on a campsite closest to the city. At dinner in a suburban strip mall Italian joint with bratty counter service but surprisingly good food Chris and I are lamenting the lack of hotels – damn tornado – and Anderson pipes up, “I think it’s good we didn’t get a room because that means that a family who doesn’t have a home gets to have a safe place.” Chris and I get to share that look of pride and wonder when your kid just is their very own amazing person. Of course it is easy for Anderson to say – he’s not popping up the camper every 24 hours.