Monday, August 26, 2013

Day 40: Hopewell Rocks at Low Tide

After observing high tide yesterday afternoon, today we returned when the park opened at 9 a.m. to walk the ocean's floor at low tide. The sky was dull and lifeless.

When we got to the metal staircase that gives access to the beach, we saw that the ocean had withdrawn until it was a silver band near the horizon, exposing forty foot of cliffs and free-standing formations that had been submerged the previous afternoon, as well as a broad stretch of the ocean's bed. We descended the stairs and joined the tour groups streaming down the beach.

The Flower Pots at Hopewell Rocks
Some people were interested in the receding water and tried see how close to it they could get. In places the earth's crust is corrugated like mighty ribs, but you don't see the rock at first because it is modestly clad with hairlike seaweed. In some places it is pebbly, or muddy. The young kids came back with their legs coated in chocolate mud.

Floor of the Ocean at Low Tide

Others are fascinated by the cliffs and the formations. As I said before, the earth is exceptionally porous here and the tidal action has created fantastical shapes.

This cliff was underwater the previous afternoon.
With the earth right in front of you at eye level, you can study its very composition, and you can observe the plants that spend half their day submerged and half exposed.

Beneath the ocean's surface, formations and plant life.

The stronger types of rock retain their form.

The whole shore was corrugated, scalloped, and indented.

Dan standing in an undersea forest
The tide was so far out when we got there that it was hard to sense it withdrawing yet farther, but my heart quickened when it changed direction. The water's sound changed slightly, tiny ripples flowed toward us, the air felt different. My sensors said, "Be aware now. The water is coming back. Don't get trapped." Theoretically, you could drown in muddy water if you didn't watch your timing, as pointed out by a warning sign and a clock at the head of the staircase. I overheard another tourist say, "They must blow a big bull-horn when it is time to go back." Uh, no, not exactly. It's up to you. But, with busloads of Chinese tourists streaming back, it's pretty obvious.

We had an okay lunch in the restaurant at the park's entrance; Dan liked his seafood chowder. The restaurant wasn't crowded but the souvenir shop was.

The afternoon was subdued by rain b
ut we enjoyed the ride anyway. The rain wasn't too bad and eventually stopped. The scenery was beautiful—very thick mixed forest, partly tree farms and partly natural growth. The road had a satisfying number of hills and curves without being difficult. Narrow two-lane roads with no barriers along the edge gave us a close look at the woods and meadows. Dan really enjoyed the driving.

We sought out the light-house at Cape Enrage, but by the time we got there the rain was too heavy for pictures. We continued on to the fishing marina of Alma. The rain let up and Dan walked down to the harbor to take photos of the boats while I waited in the car. We went to the best hotel in town and enjoyed a latte in their beautiful Tides Restaurant. 

We drove through Fundy National Park, but we didn't stop as we had planned. In some places the road was very rough and damaged. In others, recently repaired. One section of road had been tarred and graveled that day. We had to wait a long time for a pilot car to take us slowly through the area, and at the end, the road crew hosed the left wheels of every car.

When we got in, Dan got right to work on his laundry, and I made a supply run to Walmart. I grabbed a salad from Wendy's and stayed in to work on this blog; he took a cab downtown and had a good meal at  Mexicali Rosa's restaurant.