In life you sometimes meet someone, totally by chance or maybe at work, who YOU KNOW YOU WILL KEEP IN YOUR LIFE! I was mountain biking one winter day about 8 years ago, and as I headed out of the woods I was surprised to meet another rider. He seemed more surprised to see me…there was 3″ of snow on the ground and he was Canadian (favoring the blue and white Fleur de Lis flag of Quebec, not the “maple leaf”). Who in Maryland would bike in the snow? Well, his name turned out to be Jean-Philippe. His wife Anne was in Baltimore for our famous Hopkins and Hubble Space Telescope. J-P and Anne’s 31/2 year contract in Baltimore flew as Texas became the next place to work (it won over Vancouver, Hawaii and some other renowned telescopes). We, of course, strive to share our fondness staying in touch (emails, calls….infrequent by busy-ness, but always greeted with the same gracious response). These friends never scold for timing or say “you never call” or “you should call more”…we just take up at the moment. Grateful for those around us, sometimes surprised by the resonance of reception. Surprised by what they see in kind?
One of our survival techniques, a way to see as much of them as possible, has been to ski or vacation together. In Feb-Mar 2011 we met them and shared an incredible week in a rented ski chalet in Utah. Skiing with them at Brighton, Snowbird and Solitude won’t be forgotten. But that is another little set of stories.
This day we arrived to meet Anne and Jean-Philippe in Moncton at the Riverview Walk and flushed a pheasant from the rushes where he lay. The river there seems to be tidal also, but its hard to imagine this being so many miles inland from the bay. The muddy tall banks confirmed it as we walked to find a brew pub in a new town. Neither they nor we had ever been into Moncton. The Oktoberfest menu lured us to try Bratwurst and “Keg-conditioned” (probably small-batch) ale. Yummy enough (for beer, as I am not the biggest fan, drinking only about 4 or 5 glasses per year), smooth and well picked. The food was good too, although we perhaps forgot to take a picture to share.
We spent the eve catching up and went to bed fairly early after all. The Hopewell Rocks and Fundy National Park lay ahead. Even though I warned J-P and Anne about my highway speeds, they still seemed to have to work hard to keep slowing down to my crawl. Flashers on and the occasional car stuck between us did not impede our safe bobbing arrival.
The rocks lay off the shore in the Bay of Fundy, where the tide and thousands of years have formed awesome erosion patterns (and worth the admission figures for throngs of people over time). The areas and economies brighten as you near the entrance, signs and attractions pop up miles before…then, there you have it: One gate to pass through then some very well-kept trails and viewpoints marking centuries of inhabitants and tourists.
The “flower-pot rocks” are several hundred feet tall, named by their appearance as trees and grasses sprout at the tops, while necks and narrow cliffs and caves are formed by the tides and icing of time.
Jean-Philippe hasn’t been REAL camping for years. In Texas, he’s lucky to set up a tent near one tree and they don’t allow fires. We had the traditional hours of watching and tending a nice fire before wind change and smoke chased us to bed.