we’re here!

We’re here! Yes, last evening, we rolled over the border between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia after a day of driving and exploring. I took the above photo of the Nova Scotia provincial flags when we stopped at the visitor center at sunset (click on all photos for larger views). In the morning, we had left Rimouski, Quebec, traveling east as far as Mont Joli, and then crossed over the low mountains range on the Gaspe Peninsula, following the road that leads along the Matapedia and Restigouche Rivers.

Before leaving Mont Joli, we stopped so that I could photograph one of the older houses with it sloping roof and upturned eaves. If you’ve ever travelled in Quebec, you’ve probably seen houses with this style of roof. It’s kind of nice to see that there are quite a few new houses in the area that have been built with the same roof style. On our last trip through the Gaspe, we had seen these sheep and shepherd on a hillside beside a motel. They’re sort of what you might call large scale folk art. Growing up in Montreal and often spending time exploring rural Quebec, I’ve come to expect to see various kinds of folk art sculptures ranging from lawn ornaments to huge wooden crosses with a red bleeding heart surrounded by golden rays, erected at conspicuous backroad intersections. Modern sculptures such as the sheep flock seem to be descendants of this tradition.

At a turnout beside a rock cut overlooking shallow rapids on the Matapedia River, I asked Don to stop for awhile so that I could look for insects. We had stopped at this same spot last year, and I found some very neat grasshoppers. Although road cuts often look like they’ll be barren of all life, that’s just not true. A quick inspection of the Tansy Ragwort and Pearly Everlasting blooms revealed all kinds of interesting insects. I photographed quite a few, but the one that got me very excited was the wasp mimic fly in the above photo. I’m quite certain it’s a Spilomyia fusca, a large fly that is a mimic of the Bald-faced Hornet. I had secretly had this species on my wish list for this trip after seeing photos of one taken by a member of the Nova Scotia nature listserve that I subscribe to. How neat to find this species at our first real nature road stop along the way.

As you might imagine, being a road cut, there were plenty of rocks strewn about the turnout. I couldn’t resist turning over a few of them as a sort of warm-up exercise for International Rock-Flipping Day which is coming up on September 2nd. Within a few seconds, I discovered a female Wolf Spider carrying an egg-sac. I suspect she must be some species of Pardosa genus. I also found this snail attached to the underside of a rock. With such immediate success, I’ve decided to try to do a bit of rock-flipping along the way on this trip (see what you have started, Dave?).

Of course, Don and Sabrina were quite patient and uncomplaining and left me to my rock flipping and photography while they rested and enjoyed the view of the river, forest and mountains. After I’d had a good look around, taken a number of photographs, and jotted down some field notes, we carried on south to Campbellton, New Brunswick, which I also mentioned in the above post from last year.

Once in New Brunswick, moose warning signs such as the above, are a common sight. While I’d love to see a moose some time, I don’t particularly wish to see one on the highway. In this region, there have been a lot of very bad accidents involving moose — usually with far more serious consequences than deer collisions. On the highway between Campbellton and Miramichi, long sections of tall wildlife fencing is being installed. A similar fencing system was erected between Fredericton and Moncton, New Brunswick, several years ago and it must be working well enough that the province is going ahead with this stretch of highway as well.

Just before Miramichi, we had what you might call an unofficial detour. I got distracted from checking the road map and we ended up on the wrong highway. After a few kilometers, Don asked if I remembered the highway running so close to the coast. That, in turn, led to a short discussion on how the early European explorers to this section of the coast thought that the Bay of Chaleur must be the mouth of some great river and sailed far up it only to find that it came to what pretty much amounted to a dead end (I believe it was Cartier or Champlain that did so). The waters are very wide and deep at this point, and we both agreed that confusion would be easy, especially in the absence of maps. As it turns out, even *with* maps, explorers can sometimes become confused. After a little more driving, I commented that I didn’t recognize *any* of the buildings along the roadside. While at university, I took several courses in architectural history, so I pay a great deal of attention to buildings when we’re traveling. I was absolutely certain I’d never seen some of the buildings that we were passing by. When we got to the above church near a place called Janesville, I asked Don to stop so that I could take a few photos as it’s really an incredible structure. As I walked around looking at it, I was thinking, “There’s no damned way we could have driven by this church on past trips without me wanting to stop and photograph it!” When I returned to the van, Don said that he’d checked the map and we were on the wrong road — one that continued far out to a cape before turning south in the direction we wanted to go. It would have been nice to continue onwards as the architecture was just so fascinating, but we figured it would add another three hours to our trip, so we turned and retraced our way back to the correct highway. However, we’ve decided to try to explore that route along the coast on the return trip home.

As a result of our detour, we were a bit late arriving in Nova Scotia. As mentioned above, we stopped at the visitor center just after crossing into the province. The sun was setting over the salt marshes at the head of Chignecto Bay, so I walked out behind to take a few photos as darkness fell (see below). We spent last night in Truro and decided that we’re going to spend a couple of days down around Bridgewater. We don’t really have a plan on this trip and are just making things up as we go. I guess we’ll have a net connection for at least a couple of more days, so I’ll probably be posting more photos and notes. Stay tuned.


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12 Responses to “we’re here!”

  1. Dave Says:

    Looks like fun. Oh, by the way if we saw a moose on the road here (in Chicago) we’d report it, too….lol.

  2. Peter Says:

    Love that last shot!

    Bridgewater is a nice place, we were just there recently, and near by Liverpool as well when we camped at Kejimkujik (again) a couple weeks ago.

  3. robin andrea Says:

    Already an exciting journey from day one. Love that wasp-mimic fly. A beautiful creature. Nova Scotia looks like a grand place for adventures.

  4. Carolyn Hoffman Says:

    I’m looking forward to hearing about the rest of your trip. I love Nova Scotia, but it’s been a few years now since I’ve been, so I’ll be traveling vicariously in your trip. thanks!

    Carolyn H.

  5. Cathy Says:

    Beautiful sunset, Bev. And that Wolf spider! I better get out there and start getting dirty.

    I love the way you ‘ask Don to pull over’ He must be a great guy. My hubby would be grousing after the second request:0) I don’t think I’d be brave enough to get that close to something that looks like a hornet. Great pix!

    Wrong turns can provide the real delights in life.

    (So nice to see Sabrina. I wanted to ask if she was with you, but didn’t want to engender a guilt-trip if she had to remain, behind ;0)

  6. Phantom Midge Says:

    Fantastic pictures! I love the fly’s eyes the best (reminds me of a Haywood Banks song).

    If I might ask…what kind of camera do you use to get the close-up photos? I’m asking for a new camera for my birthday and am trying to get some ideas.

  7. Jennifer Says:

    Wow! Especially love the landscapes – the wide and deep water and the sun over the water. What a beautiful place for a get-away. (Your man and dog seem much more patient than mine would be, I think.)

  8. bev Says:

    Dave – If we saw a moose back home I’d be reporting it too! Actually, there are a few in some of the larger forests east of Ottawa and a couple have even managed to wander into the city. A few years ago, a young one ended up trapped in someone’s swimming pool.

    Peter – What’s your favourite campground in Nova Scotia? We haven’t camped yet, but contemplating choices.

    robin – Glad you’re enjoying the travelogue. Yes, Nova Scotia is a great place for tripping around, especially if you like spending time outdoors.

    Carolyn – We’ve been coming here occasionally for many years and it’s still just about as nice as ever. Definitely a lot more people (residents and visitors), but not as crowded as the U.S. coast.

    Cathy – Don enjoys poking around at road stops and often finds good insects for me to photograph, so these stops aren’t painful for him. I consider myself lucky to have such an excellent fellow traveler.

    Phantom – For that photo, I used a Nikon Coolpix 8800, but I also use a Coolpix 4500. The Nikon Coolpix S10 is similar to the CP4500 and makes a fairly good and inexpensive camera for insect photography.

    Jennifer – As mentioned to Cathy, it’s very nice to travel with someone who is on the same wavelength as me. I’m sure my form of travel would be a real pain in the can to many people.

  9. Peter Says:

    Kejimkujik would be my favorite, Bev. However the provincial parks are cheaper. Five Island Provincial Park up near Parrsboro would be a close second, and Blomidon is another nice choice. A few other places we capmed at didn’t really stand out.

  10. bev Says:

    Peter – Thanks! We’re probably going to stay a night or two at Five Island PP. Have you ever stayed at Graves Island PP near Chester. Campsite 22 (?) looks pretty neat — it’s out on the tip of the point just above the water. It would be great in nice weather. The park is nice — but most of the hiking trails were closed this year — not sure why.

  11. Peter Says:

    Call ahead for Five Islands. They were doing quite a bit of trail maintainence earlier this summer, not sure how its coming along and they had closed some too.

    I was in Chester just a few days ago too but have not been to Graves Island PP. We walked around by the harbour area, some nice old buildings. Ross Farm is near there too, it is an interesting ‘period’ farm. I have lots recent of photos on my flickr from there so you can get an idea, and they have a trail there too, although not too long I think.

    I could probably talk your head of on many places to go and see though :-) Hope you three are having fun.

  12. sarah Says:

    That plant is sea lavender, I’m pretty certain. Genus Limium, apparently there are many species, and I’m not sure which it is.

    Makes a nice dried flower.