Life on the Road – June Part 3: New Brunswick and PEI

Foggy June evenings camping at the local lighthouse … complete with foghorn!

On June 15th, 89 days after leaving Vancouver, we crossed into New Brunswick and back into Canada. Our American leg of the trip was amazing, but there was just something special about setting foot back on home soil – even when that home soil was farther from actual home than we had been our entire time in the US! We stopped just over the border, slapped in our Canadian SIM cards, tried to mentally re-calibrate to kilometres per hour, cheered at the fact we’d now be spending Canadian dollars and no longer had to deal with conversion rates, and took an odd bit of joy in seeing our first Tim Horton’s since Vancouver. A funny thing that we noticed is that the region close to the border on the US side felt like you were in the middle of nowhere – barely anybody living there, very few businesses, zero cell service, but as soon as we crossed into Canada we were in a cute little town with full services, full cell reception, and some character. Goes to show that the US treats the 49th parallel as the uninhabitable north, and for Canada this is southern comfort.

Fun afternoon in the Bay of Fundy National Park – Fog & sun and Ferris’ first covered bridge!

Beach front camping on the Bay of Fundy!

After some quick calls home to announce our safe cross back to Canada, we hit the road north to the city of Saint John. We spent a couple days in and around town, riding the local mountain bike trails and getting our bearings for our explorations through the Canadian Maritimes. We restocked our cooler and our pantry, having crossed the border with as little food as possible to avoid any guff, grabbed some backroads map books for the Maritimes, then set of up the Bay of Fundy Coast.

The next couple of days we checked out Fundy National Park and Hopewell Rocks. We found the National Park had a very well built pump track and a good little smattering of mountain bike trails along with the hiking routes, and we got some cool shots of the Flowerpot Rocks high and dry during low tide. Each night we managed to find a lighthouse access road or a beachside pull out that we could stay in comfortably and not bother anyone. After the Eastern US, where finding a safe and out of the way spot to spend the night verged on impossible, these little ocean side pull-offs were a very welcome change.

Hopewell rocks at low tide!

After exploring the Bay of Fundy side of New Brunswick, we made our way across the Confederation Bridge and onto Prince Edward Island. We were probably a little quick on New Brunswick, and might have traded some of our time spent in Maine for time to explore some of the inland part of the Province; but like they say, hindsight is 20/20, and we had to get a move on to make sure we had enough time to do Nova Scotia and Newfoundland properly. On Prince Edward Island, we took a zig-zagging route Northward across the island through beautiful rolling farmland and little patches of forest up to the Cape Tyron Lighthouse to make dinner and enjoy the gorgeous sunset.

More lighthouse camping – less fog more awesome sunsets (complete with fishboats at 4AM!)

The next day we went on a scavenger hunt of sorts; My family has a lot of history on PEI, my grandfather having spent a significant portion of his childhood on the island, and a number of previous generations that I’d never met who lived their whole lives there. I had some clues from my Grandpa on where to find a little church and cemetery where a number of my ancestors were buried. We had to go to a couple churches searching, but eventually found the right one. We found my Great-Great Grandparents grave on our own, and some internet searching brought me to someone’s passion project that pieced together the history of European Loyalists who settled on PEI. Through that site we found the names and graves of my Great-Great-Great and Great-Great-Great-Great Grandparents, all in the same cemetery, and I learned that my five-times-great Grandfather had come from Normandy and fought on the Loyalist side of the American Revolution, before fleeing North to settle on PEI. Along with the graves, we also found the Bernard Family Road with the Bernard Homestead at the end. It was really cool to find so much of my family history all in one place, and learn some things I hadn’t known about my heritage.

Bernard road and the old Bernard Homestead!

Ferris goes to church! Cory’s Great-Great-Great-Great Grandfather’s grave!

Besides our historical and ancestral adventures, we found some pristine sand beaches to lounge on, and some of the best mountain biking we’d had so far at the little Nordic center on the island. The trail system was cross-country focused, but all of the trails had fun little rhythm sections built in with rollers to play on and berms to cruise around. There were even some North Shore inspired wood features that I had fun with.

Red rocks meet a very blue ocean!

After exploring ancestry, lazing on the beach, and ripping around on the mountain bike trails, we went into Charlottetown to check out the historic little city. Unfortunately for us the weather took a major dive as we headed into town, we weren’t exactly encouraged by that to go for any walks. What we did explore, however, was a little Irish pub that did happy hour buck-a-shuck PEI oysters. If oysters are your thing – and they’re ours – you need to have the local oysters if you go to PEI. They were delicious! We put back a couple dozen oysters and each a pint of Guinness to match the dark and dreary weather outside, then said goodbye to Charlottetown and PEI and hit the road South for Nova Scotia. Next Province, next post!

Celebrating 3 months on the road camping at yet another lighthouse overlooking Charlottetown, and PEI buck-a-shuck oysters!

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