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- Over the Border: Acadia - 2/18 -
how to reach it; and here, at the outset, we are surprised at the comparative ignorance shown regarding a region which, though seemingly distant, is in reality so accessible. We are soon inclined to quote from an old song,--
"Thou art so near and yet so far,"
as our blundering investigations seem more likely to prove how not to get anywhere!
But we set to work to accumulate railroad literature in the shape of maps, schedules, excursion books; and these friendly little pamphlets prove delightful pathfinders, convincing us how readily all tastes can be suited; as some wish to go by water, some by land, and some by "a little of both." Thus, those who are on good terms with old Neptune may take a pleasant voyage of twenty-six hours direct from Boston to the distant village of Annapolis, Nova Scotia, which is our prospective abiding place; while those who prefer can have "all rail route," or, if more variety is desired, may go by land to St. John, New Brunswick, and thence by steamboat across the Bay of Fundy. At last the company departs on its several ways, and in sections, that the dwellers in that remote old town of historic interest may not be struck breathless by such an invasion of foreigners.
The prime mover of the expedition, having already traveled as far east as Bangor, commences the journey at night from that city. Strange to say, no jar or unusual sensation is experienced when the iron horse passes the boundary; nor is anything novel seen when the train known as the "Flying Yankee" halts for a brief breathing spell at MacAdam Station. A drowsy voice volunteers the information: "It is a forsaken region here." Another of our travelers replies, "Appearances certainly indicate that the Colossus of _Roads_ is absent, and it is to be hoped that he is mending his ways elsewhere." Then the speakers, tipping their reclining chairs to a more recumbent posture, drift off to the Land of Nod.
With morning comes examination of travelers' possessions at the custom house, with amusing exhibitions of peculiarly packed boxes and bags, recalling funny episodes of foreign tours, while giving to this one a novel character; then the train speeds on for seven hours more.
THE BAY OF FUNDY.
Ere long singular evidence of proximity to the wonderful tides of the Bay of Fundy is seen, as all the streams show sloping banks, stupendously muddy; mud reddish brown in color, smooth and oily looking, gashed with seams, and with a lazily moving rivulet in the bed of the stream from whence the retreating tide has sucked away the volume of water.
"What a Paradise for bare-footed boys, and children with a predilection for mud pies!" exclaims one of the tourists; while the other--the practical, prosaic--remarks, "It looks like the chocolate frosting of your cakes!" for which speech a shriveling look is received.
This great arm of the sea, reaching up so far into the land, and which tried to convert Nova Scotia into an island (as man proposes to make it, by channeling the isthmus), was known to early explorers as La Baie Françoise, its present cognomen being a corruption of the French, _Fond-de-la Baie_.
Being long, narrow, and running into the land like a tunnel, the tide rises higher and higher as it ascends into the upper and narrowest parts; thus in the eastern arm, the Basin of Minas, the tidal swell rises forty feet, sometimes fifty or more in spring.
In Chignecto Bay, which extends in a more northerly direction from the greater bay, the rise has been known to reach seventy feet in spring, though it is usually between fifty and sixty at other times. Here, in the estuary of the Petitcodiac, where the river meets the wave of the tide, the volumes contending cause the Great Bore, as it is called; and as in this region the swine wade out into the mud in search of shell fish, they are sometimes swept away and drowned. The Amazon River also has its Bore; the Indians, trying to imitate the sound of the roaring water, call it "pororoca."
In the Hoogly it is shown; and in a river of China, the Teintang, it advances up the stream at the rate of twenty-five miles an hour, causing a rise of thirty feet. In some northern countries the Bore is called the Eagre. Octavia says this must be because it screws its way so _eagerly_ into the land, but is immediately suppressed, and informed that the name is a corruption of Oegir, the Scandinavian god of the sea, of whom we learn as follows:--
Odin, the father of the gods, creator of the world, possessing greatest power and wisdom, holds the position in Scandinavian mythology that Zeus does in the Greek. Like the Olympian Jupiter, he held the thunder bolts in his hand; but differed from the more inert divinity of Greece in that, arrayed in robes of cloud, he rode through the universe on his marvelous steed, which had eight feet. This idea was characteristic of a hardy race living a wild outdoor life in a rigorous climate. Oegir, the god of the sea, was a jotun, but friendly to Odin. The jotuns were giants, and generally exerted their powers to the injury of man, but, not being gifted with full intelligence, could be conquered by men. The first jotun, named Ymer, Odin subdued, and of his flesh formed the earth, of his bones the mountains; the ocean was his blood, his brains the clouds, while from his skull the arch of the heavens was made.
We resolved to witness the singular spectacle of the Oegir of Fundy; but, not receiving answer to our application for accommodations at Moncton, proceeded on our way, consoling ourselves with the thought that we could see a bore any day, without taking any special pains or going much out of our way.
The Basin of Minas! What a "flood of thoughts" rise at the name. Fancy paints dreamy and fascinating pictures of the fruitful and verdant meadow land, the hills, the woods, the simple hearted, childlike peasants; upright, faithful, devout, leading blameless lives of placid serenity:
"At peace with God and the world."
It seemed that there must be some means of crossing the beauteous Basin whence the broken hearted exiles sailed away so sadly; and that any tourist with a particle of romance or sentiment in his composition would gladly make even a wide detour to visit it. Therefore we were surprised to learn that railroad schedules said nothing of this route, and that it seemed almost unknown to summer pleasure seekers. Not to be deterred, however, what better can one do than write direct for information to Parrsboro,--a pretty village, which is the nearest point to the Basin. Thus we learn that a short railway, connecting with the Intercolonial, will convey us thither, though not a road intended for passenger service.
"It will only add to the novelty and interest of our tour," we say. We rather hope it will prove a very peculiar road, and are prepared for discomfort which we do not find; although, at Spring Hill, the point of divergence from the main line, such a queer train is waiting, that one exclaims, "Surely we have come into the backwoods at last!"
The car is divided in the middle, the forward part devoted to baggage, while in the rear portion, on extremely low backed and cushion less seats, beside tiny, shade less windows, sit the passengers. And such passengers! We mentally ejaculate something about "Cruikshank's caricatures come to life." With much preliminary clanking of chains, a most dolorous groaning and creaking of the strange vehicle, a shudder and jar, the train is in motion, and slowly proceeding through densely wooded and wild country,--a coal and lumber district, where only an occasional log house relieves the monotony of the scene,--log huts which look as if they have strayed away from the far South and dropped down in this wilderness. At intervals, with a convulsive jerk which brings to their feet some new travelers on this peculiar line, the train halts to take on lumber; and one of our tourists remarks, "This old thing starts like an earthquake, and stops as if colliding with a stone wall;" and continues: "Do you think the poet who longed for 'a lodge in some vast wilderness', would have been satisfied with this?" Without waiting for a reply, the next remark is: "We are looking for summer accommodations; don't you think we could find board cheap here?" The prosaic one, ignoring such an attempt at pleasantry, replies, "Five dollars per thousand feet, I have been told."
When the conductor, in a huge straw hat and rough suit, sans collar or cravat, comes to collect tickets, the satirical one asks, "Will he punch them with his penknife, or clip them with a pair of old scissors?"
"Heard of the wonderful one-hoss shay, That was built in such a logical way It ran a hundred years to a day,"
and conclude that the S. H. & P. R. R. resembles it somewhat; and that, although there is a "general flavor of mild decay" about it in some respects, it will not be in danger of wearing out from high rate of speed; but who cares about _time_ when on a holiday?
At last, in the distance, a range of blue hills becomes visible, with a faint, far gleam of water; and, as the blue line abruptly descends to the glistening streak below, we know in an instant what that promontory must be, and ecstatically quote with one voice,--
"Away to the northward Blomidon rose,"
regardless of geography, as that Cape happens, in this case, to be south of us.
Having received information by mail that "hosses and carages" are to be found at Parrsboro, and that the sailing of the steamer is "rooled by the tide," eager looks are cast about on alighting at that charming village, the natives of which, to our surprise, are not backwoodsmen or rough countrymen. Mine host, genial and gentlemanly, becomes visible; and we are soon bowling merrily along through the neat village, the picturesque country beyond, and are set down at a refreshingly old-timey inn directly on the shore of the Basin of Minas, which bursts suddenly upon the view, amazing one by its extent and beauty. We exclaim in surprise, "Why, it looked no larger than one's thumb nail on the map!"
THE BASIN OF MINAS
A curving beach with rolling surf, a long and very high pier, showing the great rise of the tide,--at this point sixty feet in the spring,--
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