31 July 1999

Tidal bore ride

I woke early in the morning to crows cawing right outside the bedroom window and squirrels dropping nuts and scampering on the roof. We went to the main house for breakfast with the Doanes and then on a little trek with Jean to the back of their property to see their eagle nest and the 2 "babies". I say "babies" because they are about as big as the adults, they just aren't really flying yet. We shared Jean's binoculars and took turns watching the young'uns. They pretty much sat still and it wasn't until we'd been watching them for quite a while that we realized there were, in fact, two birds there. One had been mostly hidden by the tree trunk and it's sibling.

At 11:30 we headed for the Shubenacadie River Runners and our tidal bore ride. It was an incredible, awesome experience. Kind of like white-water rafting only the rafts had 60-horse motors and we could ride through the same rapids multiple times.

We started at the Blue House where we watched them load out the day before. We all got outfitted with PFDs and sunscreen...stowing anything we wanted to take with us so it wouldn't get wet. We were assured that we would get completely soaked at some point. I took my camera along in a ziplock baggie in the zippered pocket of my cargo shorts. I decided to forego the T-shirt since it would only get wet and I figured that bare skin/swimsuit would dry a lot faster and not be as chilly as a wet shirt. They had slickers we could have worn but I didn't think it would be that cold so I passed. I think everyone in our group passed on the slickers.

We were about 5 boats with 8 people plus the driver in each boat. Our driver was Nathan...a kid of about 18 (my guess). He really seemed to know his stuff about the river though. He's been doing it daily all summer long for the past couple years.

We all loaded up the boats and then motored out to the middle of the river to wait for the bore. The initial bore itself is...well... kind of boring. There is a visible water elevation change but if you're not paying attention, you could miss it. The really fun part of the ride was when the rising water would start making rapids form in the narrow parts of the river. Then we'd run through 8-foot waves in our little rubber boats with nothing to hang onto except a little rope that ran around the outside of the boat. No one from our group of boats fell out but I saw one guy from another outfitter on the wrong side of the rubber.

When the water would get high enough for the first set of rapids to fizzle, we'd motor up to the next, just-forming rapids and ride that one for a while. Altogether, I think we hit 3 or 4 series of rapids and rode through each one 4 or 5 times. On the final 1 or 2 we really got soaked. The rapids at Anthony's Nose were especially wild. On our first run through them, the boat was filled to the brim with water and a couple of us got washed off of our seats into the center of the boat by a huge wave. The boats were self-bailing so it emptied out again in pretty short order and we were ready for the next run through!

When we got to the rapids at Eagles Nest Point, Keenan and I started looking along the cliff side for the Doanes' property. We could just see the silhouette of our cabin through the trees. I wanted to take a picture but the rapids were wild and I didn't want to take my camera out of its baggie to snap a pic right then.

On the way back, we pulled into 5-Mile Creek so the boatmen could change props on the boats. They use power props for pushing against the rapids but for the trip back to dock, they use a speed prop. While we were in the creek, Nathan scooped up a big handful of the red gooey mud to show us the tiny mud-shrimp that live there. The shrimp are a major food source for a lot of birds...and so tiny.

When we got back to the Blue House, we showered. That was kind of an unusual experience. The washroom there (they apparently aren't "bathrooms" or "restrooms" in Canada... they're "washrooms") is unisex. Actually, most of the washrooms we've run across in convenience stores, restaurants, etc are unisex (and usually one-hole). It's no big deal...all the shower and toilet stalls here have privacy doors but it's just feels odd (for me, anyway) to be in a bathroom with both men and women.
After cleaning up and dry clothes, we went to eat. They grilled steaks for us and provided bread, pasta salad and hot drinks. We were famished after the ride and cool water/wind and sucked it all down. 3 and a half hours of rapids running, shower, and food all for about $70 CA is not a bad deal!

As we were heading to the car to leave, we paused to look at the river. This was the first time we'd seen it bank-full. There is a phenomenal amount of water that flows in and out of here twice every day. I still can't quite get my head around that idea...

Back at the Doanes' we told them about the ride and relaxed a bit until time to fix supper. Jean gave us both a copy of Melanie's latest CD (Adam's Rib, to be released in the US August 24) and one of Creighton's (maybe his only one...I'm not sure...gladly the cross eyed bear). Keenan and I played croquenolle (I have no idea how it's spelled...) with Chalmers. It's a game played on an octagonal playing board with wooden checker-like things. The board has a checker-sized hole in the middle, a ring of pins about halfway out and concentric rings drawn around the ring of pins out to the edge. It was a fun game to play. Again, we played Keenan and me against Chalmers and, of course, he pretty much skunked us. As I described it to my parents after we got back, "Nobody beats Chalmers at his own games and he doesn't play anybody else's." He spends his days honing these gaming skills (golf, tennis, pool, croquenolle, carpet bowls, etc) and no one who doesn't do the same stands any chance at all. He enjoys the mastery and the winning, not the competition.
After supper, Jean and I poured over various maps, planning the route that Keenan and I would take tomorrow to Prince Edward Island and then, eventually, to Cape Breton. Keenan and Chalmers played carpet bowls. I gave the Chalmers a copy of my quote collection with an inscription inside the front cover to them personally. I also need to remember to send Jean my bread pudding recipe...the one with the lemon sauce. Memo to self...

Jean also showed me a Canal Map that shows a route (mostly based off of original Indian routes) between Halifax Harbor and the Bay of Fundy. It's a hop-skip-jump sort of route using rivers, lakes, portages, etc to get between the two. It would be an interesting journey.

By 10:30, I was ready for bed again and Keenan/I headed for our cottage. We got ready for bed but it ended up being another hour or more by the time we finally got there. We got involved in a discussion about being single, family, relationships, etc and time just slipped away.