Today I had the absolute treat of driving across the ocean floor of the Bay of Fundy – one of the seven wonders of the world!
Located half-way between the equator and the north pole, the bay of Fundy tides are the highest, and the lowest, in the world. According to Wikipedia, during the 12.4-hour tidal period, 115 billion tons of water flow in and out of the bay. The average tidal range is fifty-five feet- the height of a five story building.
When someone suggested I go to Port Anthony, New Brunswick on my way back to Maine, I jumped at the chance. I’d spent the last two months traveling along its shore, ferrying back and forth across its waters, even jumping rope across one of its bridges. I would soon be driving a mile across the floor when low tide drains this one area of the bay. Once a private island, this national park now charges a fee ($2) to drive across and spend the afternoon on the estate.
I called to find out details. “You need to be crossing by 8 AM to make the round trip to the island before high tide reclaims the bay.” I was told.
I was so excited.
“Do I have time to get out and take pictures?” I asked. “Just make sure you don’t get off the rocky part… your car will sink into the sand,” the woman cautioned.
Pictures of quicksand ran through my mind. I love being at the edge of the ocean. Being stuck in the ocean terrifies me. “How bad could it be?” I thought. I then imagined school crossing guards with orange vests, whistles and hand-held stop signs, ensuring all crossed safely.
I had to go.
I got to Port Anthony the night before. Expecting it to be like other port towns I’d visited in Canada — low population, meager lifestyle, lots of waterfronts and a place to tuck my car – I figured it would be easy to find a vanning spot. I imagined camping at a lighthouse, wharf, or other other rustic setting, spending my last night in this region breathing in the immensity of this spectacular body of water.
When I arrived in town, I discovered that Port Anthony is a full-on tourist town. With it’s high end, exclusive hotels and no overnight beach access, many would cheer this town has ‘arrived’!
Clearly, I had left the rural regions and was back into city dwellers’ vacation world. I stopped at the grocery and stocked my tiny fridge with salad makings. I took a quick walk down the main street. It was now nearly 8 PM. A bit deflated, and uncertain where I’d stay, I headed to the ‘launch point’ to see if it looked like the crossing experience was worth the cost of staying overnight.
The sky was just starting to turn from blue to majenta as I headed down the windy wooded road to the bay. The view was stunning. I imagined what it would be like drive across a road others had driven, only at low tide for nearly two hundred years.
I read the sign posted at the waters edge. The evening low tide was just beginning.
“Why can’t I go now?” I thought.
A car pulled up beside me. They too got out of their car. They were from Toronto. I was from Portland. Both of us were from landlocked cities.
“Is this low tide the same amount of time we’d have in the morning?” I asked.
“I think so,” they said.
Then another car pulled up. This one had kids inside.
I turned to the man, “Are you all going across?”
“Yeah,” he said. “My kids want to play in the tide pools.”
“Cool,” I thought. “No dad would put his kids at risk, right? I’ll just stay out as long as he does.”
So, there we were, two cars of city folks and one dad with kids, about to frolick across the ocean floor.
We watched as a couple walked in tandem with the receding tide. Their pace, the tide and the slowly setting sun lingered in a lounging kind of way. What amazed me most what that once the water receded, you could actually see the ‘rock road’ where people had driven for centuries. Off to the sides you could easily see the sandy, soft areas.
Once I could see the floor across half of the bay, I began my trek. With no ‘life guards’ or ‘ticket attendants’ I felt the unbridled delight of dancing with the sea, in a gorgeous bay as day wanes.
It was a glorious two hours. I could have spent more, but the other people had left and I didn’t want to be trapped in the incoming tide.
Yet, again, my angels had guided me to the perfect place at the perfect time.
No crossing guards.
No high noon sun.
Just me driving across the Bay of Funday!
It was heaven!