Sunrise over Passmasquoddy Bay toward St. George
Our first permanent foray across the border into Canada was through St. Stephens through Calais, Me. We were expecting a bit more scrutiny dragging a forty-foot home behind us and given the current environment. The border patrol officer was very pleasant, asked us a few required questions and sent us on our way. We were expecting that they might just want to take a peak inside the fifth wheel. I guess Eileen and I are more innocent looking than we thought. I am not sure how to process that exactly.
Aside from being in a campground right on the ocean, we did not know quite what to expect in terms of the town itself. St Andrew by-the-sea is a quaint little town with beautiful tree-lined streets and many small single-family houses. We made our way through those streets to get to the Kiwanis Oceanfront Campground. The highlight of the trip through the town was the passing the arch of the Algonquin Hotel and Resort. The campground sits directly on Passamaquoddy Bay across from St. George, NB. A stone wall borders the ocean and beach all the way around the portion of Water St. that runs around the campground. The property is owned by the town, but the campground is leased and operated by the Kiwanis Club International.
Algonquin Hotel and Resort
The front section of the park adjacent to Water St. and the ocean is inhabited by itinerant campers like us. The majority of the campers on the sites off the road, and backing up to the woods, are seasonal sites. Many of the seasonal sites are set up with decks, many of which are multi-layered and include some version of a privacy fence and lighting. We have seen a few campgrounds with seasonals that are not as creative and extravagant as many of these. We found out later that the park is now discouraging this creativity and limiting decks to one level moving forward. That is a shame. The varying designs lend character and variety to the sites.
The town provides several opportunities to explore with several walking paths. The next morning Eileen and I chose one near the park and walked a couple of miles to a small beach known as Katy’s Cove. The walk was partially a jaunt through a wooded path and the last section was along the coast. When we got to our destination we ran into a woman with her daughter and her young son. We spoke briefly and then moved on. On our way back, the women waited for us and accompanied us all the way back to where she and her daughter had parked. She was from Winnipeg, Manitoba and in New Brunswick visiting her daughter. She wanted to talk about our trip and give us some information about the area so we could enjoy our stay. She also wanted to ask us what the hell was wrong with our president. We apologized for our president and we enjoyed the conversation most of the way back.
Later we decided to explore the section of Water St. that includes all of the stores and restaurants. We also needed to find a laundromat. We found the laundromat and put a few loads in. The sign on the wall near the door instructed the last person to leave to shut the lights and close the door. We took a stroll down between loads. Water St. is a classic “main” street of a small seaside town. One side if the street sits on the St. Croix River and the includes the town harbor and docks. There is a collection of small businesses, restaurants, tourist stores and the New Brunswick Provincial Liquor store. In Canada you can buy wine in grocery stores, but beer and liquor must be purchased in Provincial stores.
Scenes from Water St.
Although we had exchanged some money before we left Connecticut, we needed quarters so we hit the bank. The exchange rate is up to $1.33 Canadian to $1.00 American. It sounds great, but many things including fuel and liquor are much more expensive. For example, when I pulled into the gas station in town and saw $1.33 for diesel I was momentarily giddy. My bubble was burst when I realized that was the price per liter! The price was approximately $4.50 per gallon! Ouch.
The next morning Eileen and I decided to walk from the campground along Water St. into town and have breakfast. It was a beautiful walk despite the cloudy weather. We passed a small park located randomly in front of some of the houses that sit on the river side of the town. As we made our way into town and closer to the business section of Water St. we had stopped to admire something.
A young woman stopped and asked if we need help with anything. We told her that we were headed to breakfast and she preceded to give us a couple of options. She went on to tell us about the town and things we might want to see in the area. She had grown up in the town and had returned to live. She obviously loved it and was proud to share it with us.
We settled on a place called the Lumberjack Café and sat on the back deck overlooking the river and the town dock. I was a bit disappointed that they did not have pancakes, but they did have a tremendous mixed berry muffin that Eileen and I split, and the raisin bread that came with my breakfast was good enough to write about. On the walk back, we enjoyed a conversation with another young woman and her toddler son. If the friendliness exhibited by the people in this town is any indication of the Canadian norm, we look forward to the rest of our trip.
Later we decided that we needed to get some items at the grocery store and I needed some beer. You are only allowed one bottle of liquor, one bottle of wine and limited beer when you enter the country. If I had known we were going to sail through the border, I would not have off-loaded our stash in Connecticut. I faced another sticker shock experience at the liquor store. Not only was there collection of American domestic beer limited, but I paid $16 dollars for a six pack of Corona and $4 dollars a 500 ml can for Newcastle Brown Ale. Not that I am a big drinker. I like a beer most afternoons. Sometimes two. Maybe it will be just one for a while.
Our last night in St. Andrews the afternoon winds, which have been a phenomenon since Bar Harbor, began to kick up and got stronger as the evening passed. When we arrived there had been a fire ban in New Brunswick due to excessively dry weather. The ban was lifted on Friday. The people who were a few sites down from us decided they would have a fire. There were no campers occupying the sites between us. I noticed that they had built a roaring fire in the fire pit several feet about the rim. I also noticed that the flames where taking a definitive ninety degree turn at the crest due to the stiff winds.
Later, Eileen, who had gone to bed, came out and said that she thought that our neighbors had gone inside and abandoned the fire. I pulled up the shade where I was sitting and the fire was spitting embers like Roseann Barr at a Soul Food restaurant. These people had simply decided it was time for bed and left a fire in full burn unattended on a very windy night. Brilliant. I was forced to gather a bucket of water, two in fact, and put out the fire out myself.
I was glad I had played Smokey the Bear as it was one of the windiest nights we have spent in our rolling home. The morning was a bit overcast although the sun came through occasionally, but that wind was still present making it unusually cold for June. We packed up and headed out for our next stop in St John knowing that St. Andrew by-the-sea was a place that we would like to see again. Maybe we will come back and spend a few days at the Algonquin.