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A rock and a hard place

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Visiting New Brunswick's Hopewell Rocks

HILLSBOUROUGH, New Brunswick Here in Maine, it's easy to become accustomed to being constantly surrounded by the beauty of nature. We're lucky enough to see it every day so much so that many of us take it for granted.

The beauty of New Brunswick is comparable in many ways to what we have here at home: lush, verdant greenery, magnificent vistas, intricate coastlines and the like. However, while there are many similarities, there are also some unique differences that are well worth the few hours it might take for you to get to them.

One such difference is the Hopewell Rocks Ocean Tidal Exploration Site, located about half an hour south of Moncton in the town of Hillsborough. It's a spot on the Bay of Fundy that has been subjected to extraordinary tides over thousands of years. The result is that when the tide is out, you can simply walk on the ocean floor and wander amongst the stunning rock formations that have been carved out by the strong, steady force of the sea.

You step onto the 'beach' a wide swathe of rocky mud that spends half of every day underwater and are immediately surrounded by examples of nature's determination. Huge archways carved straight through enormous rocks. Gradually tapering caves burrowing into the shoreline. Towering rocks with carved bases as smooth as if they had been sculpted. Hardy pines stuck strong and seeming to grow straight from the stone.

Of course, if you want to walk the floor, you have to time your visit accordingly. The span between high tide and low tide is a little more than six hours. The period for exploring the rocks on foot begins approximately three hours before low tide and ends approximately three hours after low tide. While high tide is undeniably impressive in its own right, low tide is definitely the more visceral experience.

Happily, your park admission is valid for two days, so if you so choose, you can easily witness the Rocks both ways you can even take a kayak tour if you like; one runs at high tide.

Those who know me know that I'm not one to be particularly interested in 'nature.' While I can appreciate the beauty of the natural world, I'm much more inclined to appreciate it from a distance -preferably from my couch. And yet the Hopewell Rocks managed to capture and hold even my own initially skeptical attention.

There's a lot of beauty in the world. There are lots of things that need to be seen to be truly believed. The Hopewell Rocks need to be seen; a prime example of nature's power and the subtle strength of the sea.

For more information about the Hopewell Rocks, visit their website at thehopewellrocks.ca.

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