WPC: Elemental Wind and Water

The WordPress Challenge this week is Elemental, with the four elements featured. Earth, Water, Air and Fire. I’ve found some photos that capture some of these:

The Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world, as high as 16 metres at the Minas Basin inner end of the bay. All that water coming and going can play havoc and these two photos from the Fundy National Park in New Brunswick of the “Hopewell Rocks” show you what water can do to stone over centuries. The tide comes a fair way up the cliffs where those stairs are and you can only see the sculpted rock from over the top of the hole upward, at high tide.
Hopewell Rocks 020

Hopewell Rocks 018

This is another part of the Bay of Fundy at Blomidon, near the Minas Basin. Low tide means it’s quite a walk to the water. The red in the earth is caused from a high clay content. You also see the red earth in Prince Edward Island in the Bay of St. Lawrence.
Blomidon beach

Here are a couple of shots of Niagara Falls. The sound of all that water gushing over into the river can be heard through most of the centre of the city. It’s quite a sight to see, even in the winter when there are boulders of ice choking the sides of the river, caused by the mist freezing over the snow.
Niagara Falls Maid of the mist

Niagara Falls Canadian falls

Now we see the effects of wind on a tree over time, on the moors in Cornwall.
windswept tree
This is a very old geographical formation of rock. I’ve had this photo published in a textbook that explains what it is but I’d have to dig it out to jog my memory.

Blue Rocks Rockscape

Blue Rocks, Nova Scotia

Travel Theme: Gardens

While my main interest for photos is architecture, I have grown to love walking in gardens and taking photos of the beautiful show nature has to offer. I had a friend and travel companion, Carole, who was an ardent gardener and she always sought out the gardens and enjoyed discovering and examining them the best. I grew to appreciate gardens more through travels with her.

There are a lot of beautiful gardens everywhere, from botanic gardens featuring all sorts of plants to flower gardens. Some cover acres, some just a small corner of an estate or park. Some include amazing water features and fountains, sculpture and statues.

Busy Sunday in the Gardens

Halifax Public Gardens

Right here in Halifax, Nova Scotia, we have our own Public Gardens, laid out in the Victorian era and featuring flowers, plants, rare trees and some interesting statues and fountains as well as a bandstand where they play music in summer.

Rose Garden path

Historic Gardens, Annapolis Royal

Think pink

Rose Garden,Historic Gardens, Annapolis Royal

Lavender

Not in the Historic Gardens, but in the garden behind an Annapolis Royal historic Inn.

In Annapolis Royal, about a 2 hour drive into the Annapolis Valley, there is the Royal Historic Gardens.  They have a spectacular rose garden as well as a garden pool, a winter garden and a knot garden to name a few. They also have an area overlooking the marshy side of the Annapolis River where the Acadians built dykes. There are trails through there as well.
Alnwick Gardens Ornamental Slate

A particularly interesting garden in the UK was the Garden at Alnwick Castle. This photo is from the ornamental garden but there are many things to see including a poison garden, a water feature garden, a labyrinth, a cascading fountain, a cherry orchard and a rose garden as well. There’s even a wooded area with a treehouse cafe! Other gardens in the UK that I’ve seen include Inverewe in north west Scotland, Hampton Court Palace which has many gardens on the property, Chatsworth estate which is almost more of a huge park, Lyme Hall garden, an Italian garden at Trentham, and often there have been lovely flower beds in various parks large and small.

Where’s My Backpack’s Travel theme.

Throwback Thursday Classic Shots

It looks like it might actually be spring here in Nova Scotia. Mind you, this time last year we had just come out of another snowfall so it “ain’t over til it’s over” when you live here.

Being optimistic, I’m pulling out some floral photos from my distant past travels. I’ve probably blogged about it way back when I first started this travel blog, but my first major trip once I could afford to go was on a bus tour around the UK in 1993. There were many stops along the way and I had a fabulous time. This photo is of Anne Hathaway’s cottage near Stratford-on-Avon. It was the end of August/early September 1993 and the garden was still lovely. We posed for our group photo here, but not in front of the garden  as you might assume. No, it was in the parking lot. Never mind. I know where we were!

Anne Hathaway's Cottage, Stratford-on-Avon

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Stratford-on-Avon, 1993

Let’s jump forward a few years to October 1996 and a bus tour around Italy with a friend. We stayed in London for a few days, first and met up with a friend who lived in Essex near Southend. We drove out into Kent and visits Leeds Castle. This is on the castle grounds and the garden is called Culpepper Garden. It might be mid October but there are still a few wildflowers hanging on!

Culpepper Garden in Leeds Castle, Kent

Culpepper Garden in Leeds Castle, Kent, 1996

I did some minor travel in 1998 relating to training at work (Boston, New York, Toronto, Ottawa) and in 1999 there was a weekend in Toronto, but in 2000, things were looking up.  I had two major trips, one to British Columbia in the spring and one to the UK again, in September, incorporating stays in London, Manchester, Stoke and Scotland with a short bus tour in Scotland. One of our stops there was at Inverewe Gardens overlooking Loch Ewe in the northwest of Scotland.

Inverewe Gardens

Inverewe Gardens, Scotland. 2000

Finally, in 2003 I made a solo visit to the UK to visit friends in various places, Worcester, Manchester, Cardiff, Glasgow and London. These were the spring blooms in Cardif by the War Memorial. Blossoms on the trees, tulips blazing across the ground. Gorgeous! (too bad I was on my way to a nasty flu which hit me hard in Bath and London!)

War memorial, Cardiff

War memorial, Cardiff, 2003

Travel Theme: Hills

Ailsa at Where’s My Backpack has a weekly travel photo theme. This week it’s Hills. While I don’t go hiking or hill walking, we do encounter hills on our drives, train rides, etc.  and traversing through cities which almost always have hills. Some more than others. The steepest city I’ve ever been in was St. John’s, Newfoundland, the easternmost province in Canada. The streets soar up from the harbour, some so steep they actually have little staircases in parts of them. Here are a few photos featuring hills.

First, from one of my favourite parts of England, the Peak District National Park

Peak_1520
Next up is a view from another of my favourite regions, the Lake District.
Lake District
Here in Canada, you can’t beat the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia for dramatic scenery.
Cabot Trail MacKenzie Mountain
Then there are the rolling hills of the tiny province of Prince Edward Island.
Country Roads
And last, Sacre Coeur, high on the hill overlooking Paris
Sacre Coeur

Road Trip: Close encounters of the Whale kind

Bay of Fundy Big SkyContinuing on our recent road trip…

Since the weather was uncooperative for star gazing, we had a nice dinner out in Yarmouth and relaxed in the hotel for the night. Breakfast in the morning was kind of mediocre but it was free. You sometimes get what you didn’t pay for, right? Today’s destination is Brier Island.

The province of Nova Scotia itself is an isthmus or peninsula, nearly an island and surrounded by water aside from a little neck of land near the New Brunswick border. There’s also another bit of land that is nearly detached from the main province, along the north side along the Bay of Fundy. It’s long and skinny and is called Digby Neck, running into two small islands at the end. The first is Long Island and the last tiny one is Brier Island. The main attraction of this area is eco tourism. There are trails, birds and sea life in abundance. The Bay of Fundy is the summer home of several pods of whales, humpback, minke and “right” whales mostly with schools of dolphins and porpoises and lots and lots of seals. There are many kinds of seabirds as well including one type that lives exclusively on the water and never on land at all. There are a number of companies that will take you out on the Bay with whale watching being the main objective and it’s something we’ve both long wanted to do. The best time to go is over the summer and into September. After that, the whales leave for southern warmer waters to breed.

Historic Cape Forchu

Cape Forchu Lighthouse, Yarmouth

Right. So we’re going there today from Yarmouth which will be about 2 hours or so on the road. First a stop at Cape Forchu outside of Yarmouth to see the lighthouse. It’s a little different, this one. It’s an “applecore” style as you can see from the photo. While this particular structure dates back to the early 60s, there has been a lighthouse or station here since the early 19th century. There’s a little museum in the lighthouse now. The shore line is extremely rocky here and you really don’t want to go clambering over the boulders. It can be very dangerous even if it seems like the sea is calm. Rogue waves have been known to snatch tourists into the briny. Trust me, this happens. It was still foggy that morning so the lighthouse wasn’t at it’s best though sometimes, taking photos in the fog does give them a bit more atmosphere. We could tell the sun was trying to break through and indeed it was full out sunny by the time we were half way to our destination.

East Neck ferry

East Neck ferry, en route to Brier Island

On the road, following Route 1 this time. We stayed on the older highway rather than the 101 for awhile. We stopped at had a look at another lighthouse at Cape St. Mary. By the time we got past St. Anne, though, we decided there wasn’t much interesting along that road so we took the next connector to the 101 and zipped up to Digby where we grabbed a quick lunch at an Irving Big Stop. The sun was out by then, too. We back tracked to the exit for the 417 that leads to the islands. That was a pretty drive through rural areas with glimpses of the water now and then. It’s about a 45 minute drive to the first ferry which runs hourly on the half hour and takes about 7 minutes for the crossing. It’s about 15 minutes to the final ferry to Brier and again, just 5 or 7 minutes across. The village on Brier is Westport and there isn’t a lot there. The island has few hotels or guest houses, just a couple of places to eat, a general store and a gift shop. You can hike as there are lots of trails where you can see lighthouses, bays that have seals frolicking and you might even seen some whales if they come close enough.

We stayed in Brier Island Lodge so we headed there to check in and then drove around the island’s dirt roads. Only the main road along the water is actually paved and just a bit beyond that but the roads are in pretty good condition. We found all three lighthouses, passed a couple of cemeteries outside of the village on hilltops, and went to a cove where we could see seals bobbing in and out of the water. We had dinner in the hotel that night and it was very, very nice! This will be a restaurant that serves really good, really fresh food but isn’t a budget place. Worth a splurge, just the same.

Mama and Baby whale

Mama and baby humpback

The next morning, the skies were blue and the sun was out. Hooray! After an excellent breakfast, we picked up packed lunches that were part of the hotel package and went to the dock to wait for the whale watching cruise to depart. It turned out to be everything we hoped for and more. We were on a small boat, as we weren’t comfortable taking the type of whale watching from a zodiac (similar to a lifeboat in size. Much too small and too close to the water!) They sail out into the Bay and keep watch. We did see some “blow” in the distance and one whale was a bit closer but it didn’t want to have anything to do with the boat and swam off sharpish. Soon, though, another one was spotted closer by so the captain cut the engines off. We floated there and were excited that the whale, a female humpback, swam right up to the boat. She floated there, came up and went down, under the boat from side to side as if she was making sure everyone got a good look. These animals can be well over 50 feet long and many, many tons in weight. You look down over the side of the boat at these creatures that are probably as long as or longer than the boat you’re on and you realize they could have you tipped over if they wanted to. Whales are pretty peaceful, though.


Everyone was taking photos of course and I did too though I made myself put the camera down and watch, just watch, rather than spend the whole time behind the lens. You really do find yourself awestruck at these gentle giants. We saw a couple more close up as well and then after another ride to another spot, we encountered a mother and her calf. They didn’t come close to the boat but they were still close enough that we could all see them well. The calf was showing off, and at one point was waving it’s flippers at us! We weren’t lucky to see them jump right out of the water but they did breech and a couple of times dive with the tail flipper up out of the water. We didn’t see any other types of whales besides the humpback nor did we see any dolphins but it didn’t really matter. We saw whales!

The water in the bay wasn’t too choppy though we did bob about quite a bit while stopped. Nobody seemed to mind much and the sun was very warm. There was a breeze but it wasn’t really cold. We did have warm things on but I had to take my coat off. We both got lots of pictures and some video that I put together into a clip which gives you a better idea of how close they were. A lot of these pictures aren’t zoomed in much at all, not the ones of the whales that came close to the boat. Only a little and the ones of the mother and calf are zoomed in a bit to a lot.

We were out a total of three hours and had a bit of sunburn when we finally came ashore. We’d already checked out of the hotel so we hit the road again, this time heading for Annapolis Royal where we had a Bed and Breakfast booked in nearby Granville Ferry for the night.

Photos of the whales are here.

A Rare Rainbow (DP Challenge)

The Daily Post at WordPress challenges us this week to post a photo of something Rare. I’ve posted this photo at least once before and it certainly fits this theme. Scotland, late August 1993. Driving across Rannoch Moor on a drizzly day on a tour bus. The sun must have been breaking out somewhere because we saw colours across the moors. Real colours like a rainbow but it was puddles of misty colour on the ground, not an arc over the sky. I took a quick photo through the window and was pleased to see it turned out. (Those were the days you had to wait for the film to be developed).

I posted the photo on Flickr and entered into a discussion with someone about it and he suggested it would have been the top of the rainbow. This part of Scotland is higher above sea level and at mid to late morning when this was taken, the sun would have been at about 40 degrees elevation and just the right angle for it.

Rainbow in the Highlands, near Glencoe. The "Hail Mary" lucky shot through the bus window

Rainbow in the Highlands, near Glencoe.
The “Hail Mary” lucky shot through the bus window

A Photo a Week: Natural Monuments (Hopewell Rocks)

Hopewell Rocks 020

Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick

Nancy Merrill Photography has a weekly photo challenge and this week’s is Natural Monuments. The best example I have is from my visit to the Fundy National Park in New Brunswick, where you’ll find the Hopewell Rocks, formations created by the world record high tides in the Bay of Fundy. The tides here can advance over 50 feet in some places. It does play havoc on the coastline. This area has a group of rocks behind these, to either side of the small inlet. Recently one of those had a portion that collapsed, testament to the power of nature.

 

Hopewell Rocks 024

Hopewell Rocks on the Bay of Fundy

The things you find on the way to a toilet

Lepreau Falls, New Brunswick

Lepreau Falls, New Brunswick

We were heading west on Hwy. 1 through New Brunswick on our recent overnight trip to and from the US/Canada border (that’s a story for another time). We’d just passed Saint John and decided we needed to find a gas station to use the public toilets and would fill up the gas tank while we were at it. We came off the highway at exit 86 where a sign indicated there would be a gas station. We turned onto a smaller road and found it. But it turned out that both of their public toilets were out of order! Yikes! That shouldn’t be allowed, it really shouldn’t.

I leaned over and asked the busy cashier where the next one was. He thought a minute and said there was something about 10 minutes down the road but someone else in the queue suggested Lepreau. Ok, that’s good. We started driving and passed a sign for Lepreau Falls and drove over a bridge that was signed for the Lepreau River. We’ve got to be close. But we didn’t see anything that might have a public facility in it. Nothing. No more houses. We turned around and took the little road for the Falls but it looked pretty quiet.

My husband thought perhaps it was a park and might have public facilities. Sure enough we spotted a small shack like building that had potential and to our relief, it was indeed a two sided public toilet (one side for men and one for women, naturally). We parked and availed ourselves.

When I came out of my side of the building, I could hear water running and went to the back of the building where spotted a wooden planked and fenced platform with a picnic table and it overlooked a view of a lovely little waterfall! That, then, was Lepreau Falls.

We went back to have a look and take a few pictures. It was a very pretty place and we noticed on the drive out, there were 2 or 3 more look off points over the the falls and the river, again with picnic tables. I have since discovered this is a provincial park and there is camping nearby as well.

The things you find on the way to a toilet! Little discoveries like this are what make road trips fun!

A Photo a Week Challenge – Out in the Country

Nancy Merrill Photography posts a weekly challenge. This week is Out in the Country.

For your perusal, photos from the Lake District and the Peak District, both favourite areas of the UK.

Views along the Snake Pass

Snake Pass, just outside Glossop

Coniston Stone Wall

Near Lake Coniston, Lake District

Royal Oak phone booth

Peak District, across from the Royal Oak, not too far from Chatsworth House

Peak_1525

Peak District, not far from Blue John Mines and Castleton

Travel Theme: Plants

This week’s travel theme from Where’s My Backpack is Plants. I’ve chosen to focus on lovely gardens that I’ve had the opportunity to visit.

Culpepper Garden in Leeds Castle, Kent

Culpepper Gardens, Leeds Castle, Kent, UK

Anne Hathaway's Cottage, Stratford-on-Avon

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Stratford-on-Avon

Botanic Gardens Pond

Royal Botanic Gardens, Copenhagen

Sunny Day at the pond

Royal Botanic Gardens, Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia

Topiary in Arnhem's Open Air Museum, The Netherlands

Topiary in Arnhem’s Open Air Museum, The Netherlands