2 Old Hippies


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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).

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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.


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Behold the Road Cut

2oldhippies love fresh bread, the smell of fresh laundry from the clothes line, and as you might guess if you’ve been reading the blog, fresh road cuts.

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We are old enough to remember when the interstate highway system was built. One of us cannot remember the new roadcuts created then back in Tennesee, but in Montana where I grew up, the road had to blow through (literally, with a lot of dynamite) a canyon of the Missouri River between Great Falls and Helena. (near the stretch of the Missouri River that Lewis and Clark named “Gates of the Mountains.”) Those fresh road cuts were so awesome, so beautiful, and so revealing that my brother, who had just selected geophysics as his university major and was quickly turning into a rockhead, made us all take a field trip on the new highway just to pull over and look at the fresh road cuts. I’ve loved them ever since, and my reaction is pretty much the one with the snapped head and the word “Squirrel!” only I say “Roadcut!”

Here in Vermont, the Interstate construction did much the same service, opening up the inside of the earth for closer inspection, and Vermont is very interesting, geologically speaking. Periodically, our beloved rockheads at the Agency of Transportation decide to widen the cuts, clean up after rock slides and such, and we are treated to fresh roadcuts (thus increasing my driving time between Burlington to Montpelier, rather the decreasing it, I might add.)

Our original 2014 adventure travel plan — US 2 West, then down the Rockies through Wyoming to Boulder/Denver, included following the Interstate route through Wyoming that got another roadcut fiend, John McPhee, all excited, and which he wrote about in detail in Rising from the Plains, a great read about the geologic history of the Northern Rockies. We were all set to marvel at those road cuts. It was the geologic wonders of New Brunswick and the Bay of Fundy that gave us our alternative destination once our plans had to change, but we didn’t know that the relatively new Fundy Trail Parkway was waiting for us with dozens of fresh “Roadcuts!” Wow. As everywhere along this coastline, bending, folding, piling on, intrusion, uplifts, hundreds of millions of years of “all hell breaking loose” on display. And in case you can’t get here soon enough to see them in their fresh state, before mosses, lichens, mineral leaching and other aging processes dull them, we are pleased to offer you our views.

Behold the Road Cut!

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