Motorcycle Road Trip 2011 – Day 38

Bay of Fundy at high tide, Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick

Bay of Fundy at high tide, Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick

Day 38 of my motorcycle road trip. When I dropped off my motorcycle for service at the Atlantic Motoplex yesterday afternoon, they gave me a loaner BMW R1200S to ride. It was quite similar to my R1200RT, just with a sportier riding position. Much of today was spent touring around the New Brunswick coast, waiting for my motorcycle service to be completed.

The service manager suggested that I ride to Hopewell Rocks on the Bay of Fundy. He said it was a very scenic ride, and that Hopewell Rocks was a good place to see the change in tides. The hotel desk gave me information that high tide was at 12:10 pm and low tide would be about 6 hours later. I was on my way.

The amazing thing about the Bay of Fundy is that the water level at high tide is about 40 feet, and at low tide about 3 feet. That’s close to a 40 foot change in the ocean level over a period of 6 hours. The Bay of Fundy has the highest tide level change in the world, so was definitely worth seeing.

I spent a short time in the morning walking around downtown Moncton, and talking to a girl in the information center. She gave me some more information about the Bay of Fundy, and told me about the tidal bore. The tidal bore happens each tide cycle when the outgoing tide meets the incoming tide. It is where the incoming tide forms a wave several feet tall that travels up river against the outgoing tide. Unfortunately, I had just missed it.



The ride to Hopewell Rocks was very nice. Highway 114 is a lightly traveled country road winding along the Petitcodiac River to the Bay of Fundy. The ride was less than a hour, and I reached Hopewell Rocks at noon, just minutes before high tide. After a short walk to the bay, I reached the Flower Pots. These are rock formations originally carved by the retreating glacier at the end of the last ice age. Since then, the changing tides has etched away the bottom of the rock formation, causing what looks like (I guess) flower pots. At high tide, I could just see the top of the large rock formations in the water.

I walked down the winding stairs that circled down the cliff to the beach. I knew from the upper platform that the beach was under water, but I wanted to see what was there. The bottom of the stairs was chained off, with a park ranger standing there to prevent people from going any further. He told me that water level at the rocks themselves reached a height of about 18 feet. He told me they open the beach about mid-tide, and at low tide, the flowerpots are completely out of the water. Apparently the 40 foot change in water level is at the center of the bay. I decided to head back to the interpretive center for lunch, and wait for the beach to open.

The interpretive center had large sculptures and displays, including videos and dioramas, explaining the Hopewell Rocks and Bay of Fundy geology, tides and wildlife. Watching the video of the tide cycle, I knew that I’d need to pick up my motorcycle long before low tide. After lunch, I walked back down to the rocks, to see them at mid-tide. I could already see most of the Flowerpots, and the beach was open with people wondering around on the wet sand. I decided not to venture down to the beach in my motorcycle boots.

As the service manager had suggested, I called at 3:00 pm to see if my motorcycle was ready. The work was done — 6,000 mile service plus some new tires. I was back on my motorcycle and riding to Moncton. After picking up my motorcycle, the big question was how far to ride tonight. It was already 4:00 pm. I could easily make it to St. John, maybe even St. Stephens, at the Canada/USA border. I called my wife, who is more familiar with the area, and she said that I could make it to Bangor, Maine before it gets dark. I guess that I should have asked how many miles, to put it in motorcycle terms. As I would later find out, the “easy drive” was almost 300 miles and took about 5 hours.

The ride along Highway 1 to St. John, and then St. Stephen, was very beautiful, and interesting. They were doing some major highway improvements, which usually means traffic problems. But, not in this case. As is typical of the area, that consists mostly of rock, they had to blast through rock to expand the highway. It interesting to see the huge boulders and cliffs created by the blasting, and the large construction equipment required to remove the debris before they could put in the new lanes.

It was already 6:30 pm by the time I reached Saint Stephen, and the USA border. I was still optimistic that it wouldn’t take much longer to get to Bangor, Maine. As seemed typical, the border guard asked endless questions about my trip, and my motorcycle. He even started telling me about his motorcycle ride from Oregon, but then realized we’d probably been chatting too long, and let me go.

Highway 9 through Maine started off as a very nice ride. It’s a small highway, with very little traffic. And very few towns. It had enough curves to make it interesting, but also make it rather slow. I started to realize Bangor was further than I’d expected, and I was running low on gas. As I watched my trip computer count down the miles, with no towns or gas stations in sight, I began to get worried. Fortunately, with my trip computer telling me I had 19 miles of gas left, I came upon a gas station. The pumps looked like they were from the 1960’s, but gas is gas.

Thank goodness for the long summer days. It wasn’t until I approached Bangor, that it started to get dark. However, as I got closer to Bangor, I started passing through small towns and suburbs, with 25 mph speed limits. It seemed like the last few miles took forever. I eventually reached the Whitehouse Inn. I was greeted at the door by a cardboard cut-out of President Obama. A little cheesy for me, but I guess it went with the theme. At this point, I was quite tired and just wanted to stop for the night.


Road Trip – Previous and Next Day Posts

Motorcycle Road Trip 2011 – Day 32 to 37

Motorcycle Road Trip 2011 – Days 39 to 41

Motorcycle Road Trip 2011 – Day 1


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