2 Old Hippies


Those Damn Socialists

Some of us living in Vermont feel really comfortable when we’re visiting Canada, more comfortable than we do visiting, say, the Midwest of the USA. Actually, some of us toy with the idea of Vermont (yes, by seceding) joining the Maritimes and Quebec and forming a more perfect union. (Is is a coincidence that the only two states that were independent nations prior to US statehood – Vermont and Texas – are the states where  current citizens talk openly about secession?)

Just a few things about the national and provincial parks in Canada that have us shaking our heads and saying “Oh, those damn socialists!”  (Quick: what’s the emoticon that means “sarcasm!”)

  • Free hot showers! Yes, in the campground there’s no assumption you’ll be in a gigantic Mobile Home, complete with hot running water and shower stall. No assumption you’ll carry a roll of quarters to feed the hot water tank.
  • At Fundy, at Anchorage Provincial Park on Grand Manan Island, and at Forrilon National Park of Canada (where we spent our honeymoon 29 years ago) we found communal “kitchen buildings” for indoor cooking in inclement weather, and big sinks with hot water for washing dishes.
  • Don’t have a big enough tent for your family reunion at Fundy National Park? Well, how about this one, available for rent, fully furnished and with a great view of Owls Head?
    Or try one of Parks Canada’s yurts?20140914_185217And the best views in the park? They belong to the people who have tents, not motor homes:

Our own spot includes water and electricity, the kitchen sinks, showers and free WIFI, for $25/night.
20140913_160640 Not that Canada is heaven on earth, but when the motto of the purpose of government is “Peace, Order and Good Government,” it does produce different outcomes. For one thing, a basic acceptance that government has a role, and a job to do for its citizens. Here in the USA, we have citizens (certain lawmakers and the people who vote for them) who think their job is to stop government from doing anything constructive at all.

Some of us in the USA are dumbfounded by this dumbing down of citizenship, by the voters who are voting to re-elect the do-nothingest Congress in our history, specifically because they are doing nothing. Meanwhile, here’s what Canada is doing: http://www.infrastructure.gc.ca/index-eng.html.  Yes, Canada has a federal agency called “Infrastructure Canada,” whose charge is instigating, partnering for, and funding projects to make Canada a world-class nation. Can you even imagine this happening in the USA ever again? The agency’s current program, The New Building Canada Fund, is based on this philosophy:

“World-class infrastructure is the backbone of our country’s economic productivity. Our Government is committed to investing in Canada’s infrastructure to reduce commuting times for families, enhance economic competitiveness, encourage job creation and strengthen trade corridors. We understand the vital importance of infrastructure to help get goods to market, to connect people and businesses with the world, and to reduce gridlock on our roads and highways. The New Building Canada Plan will continue to support infrastructure projects that foster economic growth, job creation and long-term prosperity.”

And you can see the difference this makes, even in a national or provincial campground.


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Fundy National Park – Where Even Superlatives Fail Me

Continuing north, and at the end of a road that goes nowhere else, is Fundy National Park of Canada, where the Caledonia Highlands Plateau (the uppermost reaches of the Appalachian Mountains) meets the Bay of Fundy.

20140914_104149There are sloping, meadow-like highlands

20140913_135134and rainforest jungles (accessible by cantilevered board walkways and stairs – it strikes me that this spot is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever visited, as deep and rich and wet as anything I’ve seen in Washington state or British Columbia).


fundyparkbeautyplace1And of course, all-hell-broke-loose (well, it took 1 billion years, but still … ) geology everywhere.

Herewith, illustrations with text provided by Parks Canada’s Fundy Park guide.

“Around Alma and Herring Cove the story is one of rivers and jungles. The grey and beige rocks forming the impressive cliffs of Owls Head are made of sandstone.20140914_120744This rock used to be sand and mud which a vast and ancient river lay down during the Carboniferous era (about 325 million years ago). Along this river there was a lush, tropical jungle.  The rock has a fine sandy look to it and contains many black plant fossils and thin seams of coal.

The story is considerably older at Point Wolfe where volcanoes and the movement of the continents have formed the oldest rocks in the park. Walk down the steps to Point Wolfe beach

20140914_120620and as soon as you reach the beach you will notice some grey, green rocks forming a low cliff along the right side of this inlet. The rock has been smoothed by the tides but the story can still be deciphered.20140914_122757_LLSVolcanoes erupting ash and lava created off-shore islands during the Pre-Cambrian era (one billion years ago). Afterwards, during a collision between the continents of Europe and North America, these volcanic islands were bulldozed into the mainland. Look for the white quartz veins, swirling folds and criss-crossing fractures in the rock, which tell of this transformation. Rocks, which have undergone changes due to the heat and pressure of continental collisions, are called metamorphic rocks.

Point Wolfe is a geologist’s paradise. Opposite the grey rocks, you will notice rusty, maroon coloured cliffs towering above you. (JK note: yes, visit at low tide…..)20140914_122252The rusty red cliffs tell a tale of crumbling mountains. These mountains were created by the ancient Pre-Cambrian volcanoes and by the collision of Europe and North America. At one time they rivaled the Rockies in massive splendour. But they were worn down, or eroded, by the passage of time. Water and gravity piled all of the debris at their feet. These boulders and pebbles were later cemented together to form a new rock which we call the Hopewell conglomerate.

Think about that for a moment: “The collision of Europe and North America…”  “rivaled the Rockies in massive splendour…” , and not only that, but the highest tides in the world. (Yep, in the photo below, that’s a kelp bed on the right …)20140914_121430Words do fail me, and that’s saying a lot.