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Reports

Sunday, 27 April 2003
Saint John --> Deer Island, New Brunswick, Canada

My next host is Dana Conley and he lives on an island off the New Brunswick coast. To get there, he told me to get myself to the nearby town St. George and he would pick me up to take me to the island.
My hostess Sarah Tippett in Saint John offered to bring me to St. George, so again I wouldn't have to hitchhike in the rain. Yes, it was unfortunately raining again. However the weatherman predicted that it will be summer from tomorrow on.

We agreed to meet up at the Irving gas station in St. George at 2 o'clock in the afternoon and when Melanie and Sarah arrived there, Dana was sitting in his car reading the Economist magazine. "Oh well, hello!"

I thanked Sarah and Melanie for their let-me-stay-two-days and got my stuff in Dana's trunk. After a quick tour through St. George where we passed the granite post office building, was shown one of the old covered bridges (New Brunswick has many of them) the Anglican cemetery and of course I had to see the St. George's famous gorge from below the falls.

The St George Gorge is the most photographed scenic attraction in the area and it was pretty cool to see the water tumbling down from the rocks, passing this romantic watermill house.

We made it to the 2.30pm ferry at St. George. From here the ferry takes us across to to Deer Island. Deer Island is a small island in the Passamaquoddy Bay right on the border of New Brunswick and the American state of Maine, located exactly on the 45th parallel, between the equator and the North Pole.

On the ferry Dana points out the other islands I saw on the route. The other two big islands are Campabello Island and Grandmanan Island south of Deer Island.

Numerous fishing villages dot the Deer Island coast - home to the herring, lobster and salmon fishery that are the mainstays of the island's economy. The mainland of the island is rocky, forestry and that's where all the deer appear to walk around.

Dana had heard about me a long time ago on the CBC Radio and invited me over immediately. "I love to travel myself too, I have been to many places all over the world."

When we arrived at his small but comfy home in the island's town Leonardville, I noticed his bookshelves with Lonely Planet country guides, world maps, and books about photography.

"Photography is my biggest hobby," and he shows me photo albums of the island's natural sceneries. I am amazed and wish I had enlarged copies of that on my wall. Some of his photos won prizes at competitions in New York. One poster in the bathroom shows a group of trumpet players in an Italian street, photographed from a high spot in a cathedral. Dana calls it "The Horniest Photo in the House".

"But I make my money by delivering newspapers around on the island," he said.
"So you are a paperboy?" I asked.
"Well, I rather call it a courier, but yes, I bring around the Telegraph Journal to a few hundred subscribers every morning. I have been doing that for almost twenty years now."

And I am amazed. He doesn't live very expensive, drives a normal car, love photography as a hobby and lives alone as he likes to travel a lot too.

His house looks out the Bar Island just across the small harbour down the hill. A few fishing boats are scattered around. Most of his neighbours are Americans, living on Deer Island only a few weeks a year. He points at the houses and tells me where they come from: Texas, Illinois, New York, and etcetera. His own mother, 75-years-old, is his most important neighour.

"Ramon, you have to see this. It's low tide at the moment," and outside I take photographs of the lowest tide that I have seen in years. "Twice a day this harbour fills up totally again. Right now you can actually walk straight to the Bar Island on that sand bank there!"

He does have the best view on the island, I guess. I am jealous!

For dinner this evening, Dana prepares a pizza and I help him with the various toppings to make it a Pizza a la Ramon, something Italians will be green-eyed of!

Dana gives me a tour around the southern tip of the island. We pass small ten-houses villages named Chocolate Cove and Cummings Cove and end up at the Deer Island Point Campgrounds. In the past Dana has run this place for a year and he tells me the stories about different campers from all over the world.

While we drive around on the small two-lane road, he points out houses that he has painted, because next to a photographer, paper courier he also makes quite a few bucks with painting the wooden houses on the island.

"Once I painted the house of this American man from California. It took me a few weeks and he paid me with a sailing boat!" You are kidding, I responded. But he laughed too as it was indeed an unbelievable story. "I have never sailed in my life and sold the boat and made some interesting money out of it. I would love to paint another house of him."



At the Deer Island Point Dana shows me the Old Sow Whirlpool, the largest tidal whirlpool in the Western Hemisphere. That was cool, because I had actually seen the largest tidal whirlpool in Europe too, when I was in Norway on September 12, 2001.

We hung around that point quite a while, as it was breathtaking to see how two currents of water came together from both sides of the island and swirled around, creating this fascinating whirlpool. If you survive swimming across the water to the American town Eastport - the most easterly town of the US, you automatically become a member of the Old Sow Whirpool Association. But there are not many members.

At his home, Dana has shown me his rock collection. A collection with rocks that were as round as an egg, all created by the washing waters of the Passamaquoddy Bay. And he is proud of the Indian arrowheads he found on various beaches.

Of course I wanted to try that out, trying to find some historic arrowheads. But as we searched through all the small rocks on the beach at the Deer Island Point, we didn't find any interesting historic artefacts. I guess, if you search for it specifically, you'll never find it that easy.

The sun set pretty late for what I am used to, around 7.30pm. And I was already pretty tired, probably that's also caused by the salt water surrounding me all day.

In the evening Dana's neighbour Conrad came by. He is the man that runs the Cline Marine Whale Watching tours in the summer months. They both went for their daily walk back and forth the next town, but I decided to stay home and finish some writing before heading off to bed.

As Ramon loves islands, I am going to stay here one more day tomorrow.

Good night Deer Island!

Ramon.