Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Day 41: Bouctouche Dunes

The Atlantic Ocean doesn't just smack up against the east coast of Canada the way the Pacific slams the Western wall of the continent. The Island of Newfoundland forms a gulf with Nova Scotia and New Brunswick—the Gulf of St. Lawrence. New Brunswick is further protected by the smaller Prince Edward Island, and the water between the island and the mainland is called Northumberland Strait. Projecting out into Northumberland Strait several miles is a thin spit of land known as the Dune of Bouctouche. It is an ecological preserve. A curving wooden promenade extends a half mile through dune grasses, with a few staircases that give access to a narrow sandy beach.

We spent a few very pleasant hours on the dunes. We walked out on the boardwalk, dismounting here and there to sit in the sand and watch the gentle waves lapping the shore. The sky was crowded with piles of clouds shifting around, covering and uncovering the sun, but mostly yielding a gentle gray brightness. The color of the straight's clear water depended on the movement of the clouds. If the clouds separated to reveal a gap of blue sky, that blueness extended right down into the ocean, like a broad stripe. The other stripes were silvery-blue or pinkish-blue, depending on how heavy and dark the clouds were. The ocean and the sky were constantly changing, ever so quietly. To enjoy such a scene, you don't have to do anything, or know anything. You just sit on the sand in the mild breeze and let the emptiness fill you.
Bouctouche Dunes

Half-mile long boardwalk

On the way to Bouctouche we got caught up in a tourist trap. In the little town of Shediac, the Rotary Club has installed the world's largest statue of a lobster in a tiny, bayside park with a few other phony tourist attractions.
The World's Largest Statue of a Lobster
Do you suppose there is a lot of competition for that title?

More photo opportunities in front of inevitable souvenir shop.

For lunch we went back into the town of Bouctouche and ate at a restaurant that turned out to be Acadian. Dan knew from his guidebook that the coast was largely populated by Acadians, but we weren't deliberately looking for that type of food. The two women we dealt with in the restaurant spoke very flat, broad French and had rather a rough manner, though they were nice. They served a terrific vegetable soup. They grilled filet of sole without flour for us, and served it with fresh steamed carrots, an unusual side dish, and finely chopped cole slaw. On the sound system they played country music, heavy on the fiddles, that sounded just like the Cajun music around New Orleans.

Acadian Seafood Restaurant
The drive back was marred by a pretty awful traffic accident. A car was crosswise to the road with the driver's side smashed clear over to the passenger's side. I don't know what happened to the driver, but the EMT workers were trying to free the front passenger as we passed by; the airbags had filled the car. Two ambulances were there with lights flashing, but I didn't see the car that slammed into the first one. There were no police on the scene. It appeared that a local guy undertook to direct traffic through the narrow lane that wasn't blocked by the accident scene.

In general the traffic was very difficult. I think it's typical of touristy coastal towns everywhere–two-lane highways, clogged by a combination of tourist and local traffic.

When we got back to Moncton we stopped by Bore Park. When the incoming Fundy tide starts rolling up the Petitcodiac River, it starts with one low even wave that rolls right up the river; that is known as the tidal bore. You can sit in this park and watch it pass, if you can get the timing right; we didn't see it. Still, it was interesting to see the muddy water being pushed back by the incoming flow of somewhat bluer ocean water. I wanted to sit there until the tide started going back again, but it was going to be a few more hours. I find it very addictive to observe a natural process like this.

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