Driving from east to west in Quebec the country gradually moves from mono to bilingual with citizens east of Quebec City mostly not knowing any English. So in Riviere du Loup we had to pantomime our breakfast order but not before reading the English menu filled with odd phrases such as “eggs have been found useful with potatoes.” The people were nice (especially when greeted first in French) but it was hard not being able to converse. In Quebec City people spoke English but not fluently. In Montreal you are just as likely to hear English (or Arabic) as you are French. And everyone knows English. The streets are equally diverse with saris, turbans, stylish hats, and hajibs all bobbing together in search of something. And then you drive just a bit further west and you are in Ontario with everyone speaking English. It feels comforting but also a bit boring. You find yourself missing the exotic.
Rested, we left the bed and breakfast in E. Machias for the Maritimes. Across the remainder of Maine and into New Brunswick Arthur’s footsteps could be felt in the trees down and lack of electricity in many stores. But from what we could tell from the radio reports no one was seriously hurt in either Maine or Canada and it felt good to be starting the next phase of our trip.
Colder, much more wild, and considerably less crowded, New Brunswick offers a glimpse of what maybe Maine was like fifty years ago. In-between small cities like St. John exists large tracts of woods, family owned farms, and stunning views of the Bay of Fundy. Bay of Fundy National Park, which offers not only the largest tides in the world but also wild, clean rivers and trails reaching deep into the heart of old growth forests, has exactly one tourist town on the perimeter. It is walking distance from our campground and offers less than a half dozen places to eat, three motels, and a bed and breakfast. The main road leading through is almost completely deserted after dark.
After hiking to a waterfall and then along one of those wild rivers, we took a dip in the salt pool. Replenished nightly from the bay, the water is filtered but not chlorinated. Despite a cold wind and only mid-60 degree weather the pool attracted more than a few families. Pressed close to the bay itself and with a glass wall surrounding the pool, it is easy for one to imagine that you are swimming in the ocean yourself. And that is what Henna and I did until we left to go get some ice cream. Noel