The Remarkable Hopewell Rocks

Summer in New Brunswick would not be complete without a visit to Hopewell Rocks. Even though I’ve been there at least six times, the Park always offers a little something new with each visit.

I never tire of the view at low tide while descending the winding metal staircase to the ocean floor. The Flower Pot Rocks look just like a postcard. Gorgeous.

THe famous Flower Pot Rocks.

The famous Flower Pot Rocks.

Last week, we visited again with a friend and we were fortunate enough to have perfect weather – not too hot or windy. This makes all the difference as the temperatures are always a little cooler along the Fundy coast. On clear days you can easily see Nova Scotia and may catch a glimpse of a whale or two in the twinkling waters of the Bay (I swear it twinkles)!

For many tourists, the scenery is the attraction. At low tide, the beautiful rock formations are on display with sea and sky in the background.  But upon closer look, the ocean floor is bursting with life. Thousands of tiny snails and a variety of crab species dot the landscape. They’re easy to miss, but once you spot them, it’s hard not to see the entire ocean floor as a moving, living thing.

Hangin' with the seaweed on the ocean floor

Hangin’ with the seaweed on the ocean floor.

Then there’s the seaweed. There are two common types. One has little balloon-like bits on its tips to help it float to the water’s surface. The other has mitten-like formations that contain a thick substance that is commonly used in skin care and other products.

After many visits, I’ve learned that getting dirty is part of the Hopewell experience. There is mud by the water’s edge and it is deep. Throw in some slippery seaweed and you have a recipe for disaster! We usually come back dirtier than when we arrived but luckily there are cleaning stations at the top.

There is a lot more to the Park than just the the Hopewell Flower Pot rocks.  I have not done all the trails in the area, but they lead to a number of other coves, such as Diamond Cove, Castle Cove and Big Cove. I intend to explore them one day as well as visit as the tide is rushing in.

If you have a chance, check out Bay of Fundy’s Hopewell Rocks by Kevin Snair. He is an interpreter at the Park who is passionate about the site.  It contains some great information about the Park, and the photos throughout are simply stunning. You’ll also learn the many quirky names given to the rock formations. “ET” is my favourite!

Once you head back to the entrance, don’t miss the excellent interpretation centre as well as the restaurant and gift shop. The restaurant serves some delicious east coast favorites while the gift shop has every maritime souvenir imaginable.

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Moncton, Women’s Soccer and a Gold for Friendliness

Tournament logo

As I’ve mentioned in other posts, Moncton is one of Canada’s best kept secrets. We don’t have a giant tower or an internationally acclaimed museum or a dozen Michelin-rated restaurants, but we do have great people. And according to a reporter for UK-based The Guardian newspaper, this counts for a lot.

Louise Taylor was recently in Canada to cover the FIFA Women’s World Cup Soccer Tournament. Moncton played host to several matches in June and July. It was a big deal here and the City was the consummate host. Taylor’s last report offered The Guardian‘s awards for the World Cup.  This is what she had to say about the Martimes’ Hub City…

Friendliest Venue: Moncton
Vancouver was more beautiful, Montreal more chic, Ottawa more interesting and Edmonton – well Edmonton had more tall buildings – but Moncton in New Brunswick was the most charming venue of Canada 2015. Virtually everyone, everywhere, was friendly but in Moncton people are super friendly. If drivers see you hesitating on the pavement (sorry, sidewalk) and think you might want to cross the road, they stop for you. It also had by far the best newspaper of any read at breakfast in the five cities I visited – so hats off to the Times and Transcript.

Pretty nice I think. Here’s a link to her entire article..

http://www.theguardian.com/football/2015/jul/06/womens-world-cup-awards-of-tournament-guardian-usa

Happy Canada Day!

Our First Canada Day in Moncton, and what a lovely time it was! The City’s “Whoa Canada” day of activities took place along the riverfront, one of the best gathering spots in the community.  The entire waterfront was a sea of red and white with thousands turning out to mark Canada’s 148th birthday. The City of Moncton did not exist when Canada was born, but the province of New Brunswick was a key player in Confederation. Initially, New Brunswick led the charge for a maritime union with Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. When the Province of Canada (Ontario and Quebec) requested to take part in the meeting, talk soon turned to forming the country of Canada. In 1867, three years after the historic Charlottetown conference, the country of Canada was formed.

Bouncy castle heaven on Canada Day.

Bouncy castle heaven on Canada Day.

I am willing to bet the Petitcodiac River looked very much back then like it does today. Muddy water rising high and then dropping low, swirling pools winding their way down to the Bay of Fundy. During today’s celebrations, the tide was low. Soon the tidal bore will make its way along and the gushing water will rise to the river’s edge. The river is certainly an active member of this community.

Today, parents, teenagers children and family pets are enjoying the day along the banks. The riverside trail, normally used by runners and bikers, is now a sea of bouncy castles and food vendors – ice cream, PEI potato fries, poutine, and fish and chips

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Hanging along the banks of the Petitcodiac River.

Hanging along the banks of the Petitcodiac River.

A parking lot full of food trucks adds some diversity to the traditional maritime offerings – Thai food, Mediterranian fare and German sausage that caught my eye. While the City’s ethnic communities are not front and center, these food trucks hint at a growing community that is becoming more sophisticated in its culinary tastes.

One of my favourite food trucks in the City. International flavours indeed!

One of my favourite food trucks in the City. International flavours indeed!

I’ve been fortunate to attend many Canada Day ceremonies across this country – in Newfoundland, Canada’s youngest and most easterly province; Ottawa, Canada’s captial; at the Toronto’s CN tower; and in Charlottetown in 2000, the millenium year.  In comparison, Moncton’s Canada Day activities certainly didn’t disappoint.

There were plenty of good food options and and many fun family activities, including a kids zone with puppetry and other performances.  Shop vendors sold everything from patriotic t-shirts to air-brushed tattoos.  The larger stage featured musicians who represented New Brunswick’s English and Acadian cultures.  The night ended with a performance from classic Canadian band Trooper, along with a great fireworks display.

The Backyard Devils set the tone that got everyone up and dancing. Iconic Canadian band Trooper were the headliners.

The Backyard Devils got everyone up and dancing. Iconic Canadian band Trooper were the headliners.

The best part? The friendliness and laid-back attitude that accompanied the events. Acadian and English, old and young. Everyone was there to have fun.  A great day in a great city.

Enjoying ice cream on a gorgeous Canada Day along Moncton's Riverfront.

Enjoying ice cream on a gorgeous Canada Day along Moncton’s Riverfront.

Spin-It Records and Video – Moncton’s coolest and kitschiest shop!

One of the best things about moving to a new city is discovering all the fun little places that don’t always make the tourist guides. Spin-it Records and Video is one of my favorite shops in Moncton. This might be because I love movies and music or it mspin it 12 - Copyight be because I’m over 30 and my childhood days are far behind me!

But if you ever want to relive those happy days of childhood, this is the place to go. Store owner Patrick Parisé has one of the greatest collections of pop culture kitsch that I have ever seen. Missing a specific Smurf from your collection? He probably has it. Do you long for your old tin Snoopy lunch box?  He has that too. What about the original Wonder Woman poster you had in grade six? Just ask Patrick.  If he doesn’t have it, he’ll find it for you.spin it 17

Spin-it started out nearly 15 years ago as a record store that specialized in selling old and new vinyl records.  As business increased, Parisé, who is also a serious movie buff, decided to rent out his collection of 4,000 DVDs. Weekend line-ups to rent his movies were so long that he decided to open up a large shop that supported all three of his passions – music, film and pop culture.

If you get the chance to visit, give yourself some quality time to look around. The front is a video store that contains nearly 40 thousand movies geared to cinephiles. Films are categorized according to genres, directors, countries they hail from and festivals they were featured in. Plus the place smells of freshly popped corn. Past the video section is what looks like pop culture warehouse. Superhereos, Care Bears, 70s concert t-shirts, movie memorabilia –  it’s all there floor to ceiling.spin it 16

At the back of the shop you will find a fantastic selection of vinyl records. Parisé carries new releases as well as tens of thousands of original vinyl records.  He’s the master DJ of the store’s record player, introducing customers to new and old music.

If the movies, music and care bears don’t take you back in time, maybe the very back of the shop will. Recently Parisé installed a small arcade complete with orginal pin ball machines and games.  Some, like my favorite one, Charlies Angels, are still 25 cents!

Spin-it Records and Video

467 Main Street, Moncton NB

http://www.spin-itrecords.ca