We rolled into Saint John, New Brunswick on Sunday June 3rd. We were a bit surprised by the size of the city and the industrial feel that you get as you enter on Route 1. There are several smoke stacks pumping prodigious amounts of smoke and stream into the skyline. Saint John is an active port and manufacturing city that sees quite a bit of port traffic including cruise ships that stop as a part of a tour of New York, New England and North Atlantic ports.
We made our way through the city to our campground, Rockwood Park Campground. The campground is one section of a very large city park that sports several lakes, several long hiking trails, a golf course and a zoo. As we pulled into the park we were met by a very picturesque lake with an adjoining event center housing a banquet hall, restaurant and boat launch.
The boat house and lake at the entrance of Rockwood Park
Seeing this as our introduction to the park, we were anxious to get into the campground and see our site. We checked in at the office with the teenager working the booth. He instructed me to go to site 89 and pull though to site 90. When I inquired whether I would be blocking the other site he told me not to worry as we would be in both sites. When we pulled up the hill to the campground were a bit taken aback. The two very large areas where most of the pull through sites for large units were, was basically gravel parking lots with some trees and brush separating the two lots. We found site 89 and pulled in partially across to site 90. The good news was that we had a very large site and we actually had a tree near us.
There were not many other campers in these lots. There was another fifth wheel about five sites from us when we were setting up. Before long we were visited by the woman from the nearby site. “Do you know you are in two sites?”, she asked. We explained that we did what we were instructed to do. She shared that they were told that they could not take up two sites. We shared our condolences and shrugged as if to indicate that it was not an issue that we could solve for her. She went back to her camper clearly sharing with her husband the unfairness of the situation.
Later, we took a walk through the rest of the campground. The other half consisted of normal sites surrounded by trees and other vegetation. Most of the sites were back-ins. The sites along one side of the upper section overlooked the city. There was an observation deck that one could stand on to get a full view of the city and the port.
The view of the city from the campground
The next morning I was up early and decided to go for a walk. After making my way through the campground I went back down to the lake at the park’s entrance. I found a beautiful and scenic path that surrounded the lake and served as an arboretum. The path was hilly as it made its way around the lake. It was an invigorating walk and the scenery made it much more pleasurable.
The Arboretum Trail in Rockwood Park
Since Lubec, Me I had been getting a message in the truck suggesting that I check the coolant additive. I had added some coolant in Lubec, but the message persisted. Adding to the vehicle adventure the engine light was now on. I decided to find someone to look at it. The Ford dealer could not look at it until June 14. I found a smaller place that was willing to look at it. When I pulled in there were two guys sitting in the waiting room. As I introduced myself and reiterated what need to be looked at to the technician, the two gentlemen immediately engaged me in conversation. They were obviously not customers, but fixtures in this establishment. Actually, I later found out one of them was the owner. We had a consistent conversation for quite a while. They were very interested in our travels and shared some their travels to the U.S. Before I knew it the technician had been looking at the truck and interpreting codes for about ninety minutes. He finally shared that both issues were related to the age and mileage of my truck. Given that the truck is seven years old, it should have far more miles that it does. The messages were just indicating what should be done under normal circumstances. He simply turned them off. For ninety minutes of work he charged by eighty dollars. Canadian!
Since we have been on the road we have been trying to find YMCAs when we are in a place for more than a week. The regional YMCA in St John is only three years old and one of the nicest buildings I have been in. It has all of the amenities; two pools, a beautiful gym, a walking and running track, an extensive fitness room, and a separate room for yoga and other classes. The chapter also has a community room and a childcare center. This chapter also has a small snack bar that sells sandwiches and drinks. We frequented the Y three times during our stay. Eileen even got in a yoga class.
The St John Regional YMCA
One of the must-see attractions in St John is the Reversing Falls. This phenomenon of nature is the result of the Bay of Fundy and the falls of the St John river running into each other to form swirling whirlpools at low tide and crashing waves at high tide. We were there at low tide and watched as several small and large whirlpools were formed. You can view this wonder of nature from several vantage points including a glass-bottom platform that sits 30-40 feet (or 10-15 meters as they would say here) above the river. There is a cost for accessing the platform. Eileen and I saved some money as neither of us would have walked out there if they paid us. You can get free, and safer, access from the bridge, or a viewing tower on the opposite side of the bridge.
As was reported in a previous installment, we have met some great people on the trip so far. One couple, Dave and Wendy, who hail from Florida, are on a similar path through Canada. They were our next-door neighbors in Lubec, Me. They happened to be in St John at the same time and we were fortunate enough to have them out to the campsite for dinner one of the early nights of our stay. We enjoyed some good food, good drinks and great conversation.
A couple days later we joined forces to check out uptown St. John. We began at Market Square which is a mixed-use mall and convention center. It contains several stores and restaurants as well as business, the public library and museum of New Brunswick. Market Square is connected over several city blocks by a labyrinth of skywalks and escalators that allow you to travel through a portion of uptown.
We left the square to walk some of the city streets and settled in the harbor area in a section that contained several pubs. We settled on a pub and micro-brewery called Big Tide. We found a sectioned-off corner with some comfortable padded chairs. I felt like a rapper in the club waiting for it to start raining Cristal. We sampled some of the brew. The owner came over to greet us and stayed for almost an hour sharing the story of the brewery and St John. He was very interesting and entertaining. And the beer was very good.
We left the brewery and continued our journey through town. We decided to have dinner at Grannan’s Seafood, a restaurant that had come highly recommended. The ladies both had some traditional fish and chips served British style in paper bag, and the men had a scallop and bacon fettucine dish. Both were very delicious. I also tried some blueberry beer that Dave recommended. I was a little unsure, but it was actually very good.
After dinner we walked off dinner a bit by walking part of the Harbor Trail. At one point we made our way back to the parking lot, bid adieu to our new friends and made plans to hook up at the next stop in Bay of Fundy National Park. It has been fun to meet new friends and enjoy at least part of our adventure with them. After Bay of Fundy our itineraries will vary and the chances of connecting again may be more difficult, if not impossible.
On Sunday we packed up and got ready to hit the road. As we were working I saw a very long fifth wheel make its way into our section of the campground. I noticed it was being driven by a young woman. This is unusual. You don’t see the big rigs being driven by women all that often. Most of the women we have met shy away from driving duties (at least while sitting behind the wheel anyway). Most are content to allow their husbands to handle that task.
When the young woman pulled the rig around and was ready to pull into a site, she jumped out to move a picnic table that was in the way. Later, Eileen would say that when she saw this, she asked herself why her boyfriend or husband would not do that if she was driving. It wasn’t until she actually pulled in that we realized there was no boyfriend or husband with her. And more surprising, after talking to her, we found out that she had her two children with her who were two and one-month old! Her husband is a long-haul trucker and he was meeting them there to spend a few days before they set out across the country to Vancouver. This young woman had just had a child a month ago, and she was pulling a forty- foot fifth wheel by herself with two children in tow. The spirit of the frontier woman is not dead.
The young mother getting her forty foot RV set up
We left St John in awe of this young woman and hoping that she had a trouble-free road ahead. As for us, we were on to new places and adventures.