My favorite photos: Snow drift

Snow Drift on Bruce Trail

Snow Drift on Bruce Trail

This photo was taken on one of the snow-shoeing outings on the Bruce Trail. There was a big snowfall right before this trip, so we were lucky to see all kinds of strange shapes made out of fresh brilliant white snow.

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Categories: Bruce Trail, Featured Photographs, Ontario | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Our Big Maritimes Road Trip: Fundy Trail and Hopewell Rocks

Date: Sep 30, 2009

The itinerary for the day was to travel East along the Bay of Fundy coast of New Brunswick and to see the Fundy Trail Parkway and the Hopewell Rocks.

Fundy Trail Parkway

I am still not entirely sure what the official designation of Fundy Trail is. It appears as a park on Google Maps, yet it’s managed by a non-profit organization completely unrelated to the government park service (either national or provincial). What’s clear is that it’s a must-see destination for anybody who can spare the time for a 1 hour drive from Saint John, NB. The park boasts a very nice scenic drive with amazing views of Bay of Fundy, twisty-turny fun driving, as well as a variety of hiking trails that take you close to the nature.

Our first major stop was at a lookout overlooking the Flower Pot Rock. This little rock island was carved by the powerful tides of the Bay of Fundy. There are a couple of trees still growing on top to complete the flower-pot impression.

Flower Pot Rock, Fundy Trail

Flower Pot Rock, Fundy Trail

A trail took us down to Melvin beach, where the intricately carved sandstone cliffs could be seen from the sea level. The water was too cold to swim, but we enjoyed dipping our feet into the water and building castles out of stones on the beach.

Cliffs on Melvin beach

Cliffs on Melvin beach

Another walking trail took us to the Big Salmon River. We didn’t find any salmon (let alone big salmon!), but we did find a somewhat scary suspension bridge over the river. It didn’t look particularly scary initially, but Vitaly decided to test out the construction quality by jumping up and down when we were halfway to the other side. This gave the bridge quite a shake, and the rest of us quite a scare.

Bridge over the Big Salmon River

Bridge over the Big Salmon River

Hopewell Rocks

The Rocks Provincial Park is within striking distance of Moncton NB – a mere 35 minute drive. The “rocks” are actually flowerpot formations created by tidal erosion. Similar sights can be found in other places along the Fundy Coast (Flower Pot Rock on Fundy Trail in one example). What makes this park special is that there are many of these rocks concentrated in one small area.

We arrived to the park at low tide, which allowed us to walk on the ocean floor and also see the flowerpots exposed down to their narrow “stumps”.

Hopewell Rocks

Hopewell Rocks

The trail on top of the cliffs provided open views to the large mud flats near the shore. We were lucky to see them at the end of the day, when the setting sun colored the sky with lovely colors.

Fundy Mud Flats

Fundy Mud Flats

The park allows visitors to put in a kayak and paddle among the flowerpot formations during the high tides. Unfortunately, the timing of our visit didn’t coincide well with the high tide schedule. We would have to wait until the noon of the next day in order to catch a high tide during daytime. The cool kayaking experience had to be postponed. It now sits high on the “Maritimes loose ends” list, waiting for us to come back.

Coming up next: last day before heading to Nova Scotia and featuring visits to Cape Enrage, Magnetic Hill, and Sackville Waterfowl Park.

Categories: Canada, New Brunswick | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

My favorite photos: Wild Apples on Bruce Trail

Wild Apple

Wild Apple

As it finds its way through southern Ontario, Bruce Trail passes through many abandoned apple orchards. Hiking there in the fall easily turns into apple tasting, as many of the trees still bear fruit that taste as great as they look.

Categories: Bruce Trail, Featured Photographs, Ontario | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Our Big Maritimes Road Trip: Fundy Coastal Drive

Date: Sep 29, 2009

Fundy Coastal Drive, as the name implies, takes visitors on a scenic tour of the bay of Fundy along all the coast of New Brunswick. On this day, we took this scenic drive going West from Saint John, with the eventual goal of reaching the Maine border, just over 100 km away.

The goal turned out to be harder than expected. So many treasures were found along the way as to make progress very slow. As this was our first chance to see the Bay of Fundy in a natural environment, we were eager to get our of the car at any possibility. We spent hours at unnamed pull-offs, wandering around the secluded beaches, admiring the tidal pools, negotiating among the giant mounds of sea-weed, and looking for colorful rocks on the shore.

Rocks on Fundy Shore

Rocks on Fundy Shore

Bay of Fundy, Unnamed Beach

Bay of Fundy, Unnamed Beach

The beaches in that area were mostly rocky, so exploring them required a lot of climbing on things, which, I have to admit, wasn’t entirely unwelcome.

Bay of Fundy, Rocky Shore

Bay of Fundy, Rocky Shore

There were other things to see on the scenic drive as well. The travel brochure outlined every little local attraction, including numerous covered bridges and even a small but feisty waterfall (Lepreau Falls).

It was getting late, and we were only halfway to the Maine border. The final obstacle to our plan was a small but irresistible Baybreeze restaurant overlooking the Bay of Fundy. One of those mom and pop shops (and apparently owned by a family from Greece), it served the most amazing food. It was probably the best meal that we had during our whole stay in New Brunswick, so we were happy to stay there until dark and enjoy ourselves. We didn’t make it to the Maine border, but everybody was happy with what we found along the way.

Categories: Canada, New Brunswick | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

My favorite photos: Ancient Bristlecone Pine

Ancient Bristecone Pine in White Mountains

Ancient Bristecone Pine in White Mountains

This magical grove is located in the White Mountains, east of the Owens Valley of California. It has some of the longest-living trees on the planet, Ancient Bristlecone Pines. These trees have adapted to survive in very harsh conditions, and even after they die the sturdy trunks remain standing for thousands of years. This specific one may not be the oldest, since the exact location of the 4,750 years old “Methuselah” is kept secret to protect the tree. Nonetheless, it is definitely a very ancient tree.

I will be writing about our trip to the Owens Valley in more detail quite soon, so stay tuned!

Categories: California, Featured Photographs | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Our Big Maritimes Road Trip: Saint John and Reversing Falls

Date: Sep 28, 2009

Saint John

Saint John is the largest city in the Canadian province of New Brunswick. This city is located on the Bay of Fundy – a bay of the Atlantic Ocean which is famous for having the highest tides in the world. Because of its location, Saint John has a long legacy of seafaring and shipbuilding that can still be seen and enjoyed by visitors today.

Our day in Saint John turned out turned out to be rainy and foggy. The weather made us grumble and put on our warm jackets, but it also enhanced our visit to the historic center of the city. Somehow, the buildings looked more ancient and mysterious when shrouded in fog.

Trinity Church of Saint John

Trinity Church of Saint John

St John's Historic Cemetery

St John’s Historic Cemetery

Reversing Falls

The Reversing Falls is a bit of a misleading name. The “falls” are actually rapids on the Saint John river, which, due to the tidal effects from the Bay of Fundy, reverse the direction of water flow several times a day. We got there just around the time of such reversal and were able to see the water slowly change direction of flow. Like all things related to the tides, it wasn’t a sudden or dramatic change. The river flow simply seemed to slow down, then stop for a brief moment, and then resumed in the other direction – a subtle but mesmerizing scene.

Reversing Falls

Reversing Falls

Categories: Canada, New Brunswick | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

My favorite photos: Suburban Savannah

Coyote Hills Regional Park

Coyote Hills Regional Park

When I first saw this photo, I thought, “Wow, this is how I believe African Savannah must look like”. However, this photo was taken thousands of miles away from Africa, in Coyote Hills Regional Park of Fremont, California. You can even see the suburban housing developments if you look closely at the background.

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My favorite photos: Paintings at Ellora Caves

Elephant painting in Ellora Caves

Elephant painting in Ellora Caves

Ellora Caves is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the state of Maharashtra, India. The caves are actually temples which were excavated between 5th and 10th centuries. Unfortunately, most of the temples do not have any of the paintings remaining. This one survived though, and allowed us a glimpse into how magnificent these temples must have been back in the days when they were still active.

Categories: Featured Photographs, India | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

My favorite photos: Cabin with a view

Cabin with a view

Cabin with a view


We were out on a sail in Lake Ontario with Humber Sailing Club. We were trying to practice some navigation on an old chart in the cabin when another boat came into the view and aligned perfectly for a nice photo.

Categories: Featured Photographs, Ontario | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Our Big Maritimes Road Trip: Grand Falls & Kings Landing

Date: Sep 27, 2009

New Brunswick

On the second day of the roadtrip, we finally arrived in New Brunswick. It greeted us well with lovely sunny weather, fall colors, and fun driving. The speed limits were on average 10-20km/h higher than in Ontario, and the roads actually had some bends and curves! Driving 120 on a freeway without any fear of a speeding ticket was good. 🙂

New Brunswick scenery

New Brunswick scenery

Grand Falls

Our first stopover was at a small town Grand Falls, known for a waterfall which shares the name with the city. Based on the photos from the official tourism page of the Grand Falls, this waterfall is indeed quite impressive. Unfortunately, somebody must have turned off the tap before we got there. We saw a large and impressive gorge which had barely any water at all! As proper tourists, we stumbled around the town a bit and snapped a few photos here and there, but there was really nothing exciting at all. I guess this place is only good to visit in the peak tourist season, when they keep the water volumes high.

'Grand' Falls

'Grand' Falls

Kings Landing

Due to the difficultly of finding things to do in Grand Falls, we packed up quickly and headed to the next destination – Kings Landing Historical Settlement near the city of Fredericton. For those of the readers who don’t want to open another website, Kings Landing is a museum which recreates the life of New Brunswickers in 19th century.

Kings Landing Sawmill

Kings Landing Sawmill


Can you find the anachronism?

Can you find the anachronism?


In addition to the all-too-standard-in-North-America preserved buildings and period objects, there were costumed interpreters acting out scenes from the daily life. The quality was not consistent across the different displays (I guess “Interpreter in a museum” is not one of those careers that attracts a lot of great fresh talent). In one room, there was a “family” trying to act out a 19th century conversation using a variety of modern slang words and bursting into unscripted laughter now and then. However, a couple of folks did an incredible job with their act and made the experience wonderful and memorable. The interpreter in the old-fashioned water-powered sawmill had the magic power to start up the mill, so we were able to watch a giant jagged saw work its way through a thick log and rend it in half. My favorite though was the man from the print shop, who explained the trade very well and even performed a live demonstration of printing right before our eyes (we got to keep the bookmarks that he printed during the demo!)
Printing demonstration

Printing demonstration

Fredericton

With shoulder season closing times being quite early, we had to leave the fabulous Kings Landing and spend the evening elsewhere. We headed for the nearby city of Fredericton, the capital of New Brunswick. Things looked well until we actually arrived to the destination. As soon as we got out of the car, it started raining cats and dogs. We tried to make the best of the situation and embarked on a drive-by out-of-the-car-window tour of the city. Fredericton’s historic district turned out to be only 2 or 3 city blocks, so the tour was very brief. The city did look like a sort of place that would be enjoyable to explore on foot in good weather, but, alas, we had other plans for the next day and decided not to wait for the rain to end. We headed to our next destination: bay of Fundy (famous for the highest tides in the world)and city of Saint John. Stay tuned!

Categories: Canada, New Brunswick | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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