Monday, November 27, 2017

SICILY PHOTO ALBUM: Guest Post by Steve Scheaffer and Karen Neely

SICILY: Palermo, Italy, looking toward Monreale
My brother Steve and his wife Karen toured Sicily in September 2017, traveling to Palermo, Trapani, Agrigento, Syracuse, Taormina and Catania. Their eleven day trip, a Rick Steve's tour, took them to ancient ruins, local culture, delicious food, beautiful scenery and much more. They came home with more than a thousand terrific photos and have graciously agreed to share a few of them at The Intrepid Tourist. Here is a mini photo album of their trip.
Palermo. Piazza Independenza
Palermo. Cheese and Sausage Market
Ancient Patron Genius of Palermo
Greek temple, Segesta
Hill town of Erice
Taormina. Note railroad at base of the mountain
Trapani salt pans
Trapani transport
Mount Etna Benanti Winery
After lunch coffee under the olive trees
Steve and Karen, Monreale
For more views of Sicily by other Intrepid Tourist travelers take a look at posts by Tom Scheaffer on 2/1/16 and 1/25/16 and by Gretchen Woelfle on 11/4/13 and 10/28/13.

Monday, November 20, 2017

CANADA’S BAY OF FUNDY: Watch a Tidal Bore Crawl Up a River, Guest Post by Caroline Hatton

Bay of Fundy: Tidal Bore on the Salmon River near Truro, Nova Scotia
My friend and fellow children’s book author Caroline Hatton visited the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia, Canada, in October 2014. She took the video in this post.

Water moving upstream in a river bed? Yes! During some earth-reshaping cataclysm, geological eons ago? No. It’s happening as you read this, every day, twice a day at high tide, in a few places on this planet, including at the Bay of Fundy in Canada. It’s called a tidal bore.

The Bay of Fundy is home to the world's highest tides, rising and falling up to a record 53 feet (16 meters) a day. Because of the size and power of the tides, different, extraordinary phenomena occur around the bay. Among them are tidal bores.

A tidal bore happens when the leading edge of the rising tide forms a wave that moves upstream, against the current of a river. This is likely to be seen when tides push a huge volume of sea water into a funnel-shaped bay, such as the Bay of Fundy, and up a river mouth. The sea water has nowhere to go but up the river.

Weeks before traveling to the Bay of Fundy, I had researched which river mouths present good tidal bores, picked the Salmon River near the town of Truro, and googled Truro Tidal Bore Times (the bore times don’t necessarily match the high tide times).  Armed with directions to auspiciously-named Tidal Bore Road, I arrived 20 minutes in advance.
Truro tidal bore location in the Bay of Fundy
Credit: Wikipedia map with red dot added by Caroline Hatton
Before the arrival of the tidal bore, I moved into position among the tourists dutifully lined up along the shore with cameras at the ready. Very little water flowed downstream (from right to left), in only one of two channels separated by a sand bank in the middle of the wide, shallow river bed. Here's a video of what we saw:

When the tidal bore arrived from the left, I caught the first glimpse of its front edge rounding the river bend and heard the murmur of the wave despite the steady roar of the wind. Then the sea water filled the channel on the far side of the river, leaving the sand bank in the middle dry for now. The frontal wave in the far channel traveled to the right, out of sight. Next, the sea water filled the channel on the near side of the river, as seen in the video. Finally, the sea water covered the sand bank in the middle of the river bed. The whole show had lasted less than ten minutes.

After I left, the sea water should have kept flowing upstream for hours. The fish must have been confused.

Although the magnitude of the incoming wave wasn’t exactly a surfer’s dream, I found the notion of the high tide going up river, mind-blowing. Little did I know that I would witness a similar phenomenon on a massively larger scale later in my trip. But that’s for another blog post.

For more info:

The link in the above text, about rivers with good tidal bores, also provides info about tidal bore rafting.

Read another blog post by Caroline Hatton, about the collapse of The Hole on Long Island in the Bay of Fundy.

Read another blog post by Caroline Hatton, about the Bay of Fundy’s Joggins Fossil Cliffs.

Monday, November 13, 2017

CANADA’S BAY OF FUNDY: About a Hole that Disappeared, Guest Post by Caroline Hatton

Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia. The Hole in Long Island as it appeared in 2014

My friend and fellow children’s book author Caroline Hatton visited the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia, Canada, in October 2014. She took the photos in this post. Caroline's latest book, C'est pas marrant, is in her native French, for ages 8 and up. It's about humorous sibling antics and it practically takes readers on a trip to Paris! Here is her account of what she saw on her trip to Canada.

The Bay of Fundy is home to the world's highest tides, rising and falling up to a record 53 feet (16 meters) a day. But even when and where the tide doesn’t reach such extremes, waves erode rocks, islands, and cliffs, constantly reshaping the landscape. The changes range from imperceptible most of the time to colossal proportions once in a while, in which case they make headlines.
Red dot: location of Five Island Provincial Park
Along the shore around the Bay of Fundy are many natural highlights as different as they are extraordinary. In some locations, tides rush in or out violently. Elsewhere, hikers traipse across mud flats at low tide to visit rock towers and arches, and at high tide a few hours later and a few meters higher, kayakers paddle around and through the same spots.
Five Island Provincial Park. Note hole in Long Island
When I visited Nova Scotia in 2014, a point of interest on my itinerary was Five Island Provincial Park, advertised as a lovely spot for family picnics and beach strolls. It is so named because five islands grace the horizon not far from the shore: Moose, Diamond, Long, Egg, and Pinnacle Island. Having looked up the low tide time on an online tide table weeks in advance, I planned to take a walk on the beach.
It was nice and quiet in the late afternoon sun, sharing the dry sand with only a few dog walkers and watching two clam diggers out on the vast, wet expanse. The closest island was Long Island with its charming, beloved, postcard-perfect arch, known as The Hole or The Eye. I wasn’t about to slosh across all that mud to see The Hole up close, so I took a picture (above) with a telephoto. Then, on the display on the back of the camera, I admired the hole’s smooth, regular shape, and its dainty look in contrast to the massively thick rock above it.

I imagined kayaking at high tide, paddling through the hole, out to the bay and back toward the beach, or maybe around the point of the island. But not on this trip. Maybe some other time. The Bay of Fundy was fascinating enough to have made it onto my bucket list, so I didn’t exclude re-visiting it in the distant future.

Which is why I felt like I had missed something special when a year later I came across news that the arch had collapsed overnight on Monday, October 19, 2015. No one got hurt. No one saw it collapse. Some locals reported hearing noises through the night. The last photo before The Hole disappeared, taken the day before, and the first photo afterwards, on the day after, are shown in a local news article.

I am left with the bittersweet excitement of having seen The Hole before it vanished forever. As for kayaking through rock arches, I can go do it elsewhere in the Bay of Fundy. At least as of now.

For more info

Go to for a good map of the three ecozones: “Aquarium” (whale watching), “Sea Cliffs and Fossils,” and “World’s Highest Tides.”

Read another blog post by Caroline Hatton, about the Bay of Fundy’s Joggins Fossil Cliffs, at

Monday, November 6, 2017

EUREKA, CALIFORNIA: The Heart of Humboldt County

Bald Eagle at the Sequoia Park Zoo, Eureka, CA. 
Every two years in October, I go to Eureka, California, in Humboldt County, for a children's book author festival. While my focus is work, there is also time to enjoy the beautiful northern California coast, the surrounding hills and forests, and to explore the shops, parks and restaurants of historic Eureka.
Coast near Trinidad, CA, north of Eureka in Humboldt County
Eureka is Humboldt's county seat and has a population of about 27,000. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries it was a booming port city, transporting lumber from the surrounding forests all over the world. Many of the downtown buildings date from that time. A number of them are covered with colorful murals painted more recently.
Mural on building in historic downtown Eureka
During my visit I stayed at the historic Eureka Inn, originally built in 1922. (The rooms have recently been renovated.) The walls of the spacious lobby are lined with portraits of some of its famous visitors through the years such as Sir Winston Churchill and past president Ronald Reagan making one feel a part of history. The hotel is a short walk from downtown Eureka, which is filled with restaurants, craft shops, a bookstore, an art and historical museum and more. One of my favorite restaurants is the Waterfront Cafe, featuring fresh seafood caught locally, across the street from the boardwalk by the water.
Boardwalk in Eureka
From the boardwalk one can view the boats moored in Woodley Marina, which include both fishing and pleasure boats as well as commercial vessels.
Woodley Marina, Eureka
Not far from the center of town, in a beautiful redwood grove, is The Sequoia Park Zoo. It has a small but interesting and varied collection of animals, including a rescued bald eagle, red pandas, orangutans, musk oxen, ostriches and much more.
Red Panda, Sequoia Park Zoo
Arcata, California, just north of Eureka, is home to Humboldt State University and a variety of businesses including  Fire and Light Handmade Glass, a company that makes colorful glassware from recycled bottles. I came home with one of their beautiful glass redwood trees, now propped in a window to let the light shine through and remind me of my trip.
I always enjoy my visit to Eureka, discovering something new each time!
Tree from Fire and Light Handmade Glass