It was the first school in-service day of the year and my son Jaden and daughter Lienna welcomed the leisurely start to their day off. They were content watching some morning television so I decided to enjoy my coffee by the computer to explore the feasibility of a little adventure that I had in mind.
It had been quite a few years since my wife Sara and I had been to Burncoat Head Park on the shore of the Minas Basin. I knew it was an amazing place that I wanted to share with the kids.
Burncoat Head (or Burntcoat Head - I have yet to find out which is the official agreed upon spelling) is about a 40 minute drive from Truro. It's always been known for its extreme tides, but it was in October of 1869 when a huge storm called the Saxby Gale caused a two-metre storm surge around the Bay of Fundy. The surge, combined with the already high tide, resulted in the highest recorded tide in the world.
I first confirmed the weather for the day. The forecast said that it would be cool and breezy, but the sun was supposed to shine - 'so far so good' I thought. Next I checked the tide times for the day. I wanted to arrive at low tide so we could walk around the small island there (that would otherwise be surrounded by water at high tide). I confirmed that low tide was to be at 11:55am - perfect!
I polished off my coffee and got to work packing a picnic lunch for myself and the kids. I decided to pick up the pace a bit when I realized if we had enough time, we could also check out the Walton Lighthouse a little further down the shore.
My wife Sara was at work but I knew of a creative way we could include her in our day's outing. Both Burncoat Head and Walton Lighthouse have live webcam feeds on a website called novascotiawebscams.com. Because we were going to be there at around noontime, there was a chance that she could see us online during her lunch break!
We piled into the car with rubber boots in hand (the beach at Burncoat can be a little bit muddy in spots). About five minutes in the kids had a moment of panic when they realized that we didn't have their portable DVD player for the drive. I laughed and told them to just enjoy the scenery and that we would crank some tunes on the radio instead. With the music and the beautiful sights along the way, the drive seemed to take no time at all. When we arrived, we passed the on-site lighthouse at the park and went straight to the trailhead leading to the beach. I felt a flutter of excitement as the sandstone island came into view through the trees and we went down the stairway.
There were a few things that I had forgotten about since the last time I had visited. Some of the rocks were covered in a slick, green seaweed making our descent to the beach a bit slippery. As I scanned our surroundings, I marveled at how beautiful it was. The landscape is how I would imagine the surface of the moon to be. Over the years the Fundy tides had truly carved a masterpiece here!
We wandered around the base of the island for a bit before I decided to dig out my phone to text Sara and let her know that we had arrived. As I stared at the phone awaiting her reply I heard the enthusiastic cheers from Jaden and Lienna. Quite proud of themselves, they had climbed up to a high ledge on the back side of the island and were waving to me. I quickly instructed them not to move until I could climb up and escort them down safely. Apparently not only texting and driving is dangerous, but texting and walking the ocean floor is quite perilous too!
After both kids were returned safely to the beach I decided to move briefly away from the island to a spot where Sara could see us on the webcam. Trying to determine the right spot to stand was kind of like giving instructions to someone with a blindfold on: "Move forward. Ok. Now move left." She instructed. "My left, or your left?" I asked. "Towards the water or the lighthouse?" I guess the camera was set high on the cliff so we looked like little dots moving around on her computer. She tried taking a screen-shot of us anyway, but thought she might have better luck of actually seeing us at the Walton Lighthouse. So I told her I would check in with her later when we arrived there.
I lifted my head from my phone to take in the awesome panorama that surrounded me. Everywhere I looked was another amazing photo opportunity. The kids started to get a bit cold and hungry for lunch, but I insisted that we walk around the island before heading back to the car. I mean, where else can you walk around an island without getting wet?
The back side of the island was absolutely phenomenal and had several caves carved by years of erosion from the powerful tides. I would have loved to have stayed longer to explore the incredible coastline, but it was time to enjoy our picnic lunch and work our way a little further down the shore. Before leaving the beach we took note of where the high tide mark was and marveled at the range from high to low. Impressive!
It was just a short drive to Walton and as we approached the lighthouse park I realized that the gates were closed and it was officially 'closed for the season'. We parked to get a quick peak of the park and wave to the webcam.
We hopped back into the car and enjoyed the coastal drive home. The tide was returning and provided a different view than when we had arrived. How blessed are we to have such a wonder of nature in our own backyard?