I had a wild hair and I just had to get out of the house. I had found Dominion Park beach by pure accident. Driving along Westfield road in Saint John’s New Brunswick, while searching for a birding hot spot at a park on Spooner Island. I couldn’t bring the location up on my GPS, so I continued following the road with my old school map. I was driving towards what looked like an Island connect by a bridge. I saw the sign for a Park and I was thrilled and surprise by the lovely beach.
With the sun blazing and temperatures nearing 30 Celsius, I got my chair, some sun screen, a hat, and sun glasses and walked across the hot sand deposited them on my towel then made my way to the water. No bathing suit just shorts and a shirt, I jumped in. Floating on the surface, a lady swam up beside me we made small talk about the refreshing water. She pointed to fella standing waist deep, arms crossed, looking reluctant to enter the cool water. ” that is Sam”, her pride and joy. Home for a surprise visit from the big smoke, AKA Toronto. I will save that story for another time but somewhere during a conversation with Sam, that afternoon, he mentioned there was a secret swimming place called “The Cuts.”
He said it was beautiful, and secluded an old quarry, spring fed, cool clear and fantastic. I asked with too much enthusiasm, “where is it located?” He didn’t reply. Remorse had set in his face fell. He had said too much. I pushed for more information about this secret place. He said it was on a long dirt road, somewhere up near Norton, if his memory was correct, ” I really can’t say where” he back Peddles. He tells me he went with others and didn’t pay attention. But I store the info in the back of my mind, knowing I was being stonewalled.
When I get home, I google it. Came right up pictures and all. I clicked on directions. and indeed it was an out of the way hidden gem.
The following Thursday I set out with directions and a plan. Off the Trans Canada I exit at 339 towards Cambridge-Narrows, then its left and straight for a while. I stop and check my map, at a cross roads then continue over the river and find The Pines Conservation Area. I pull in for a quick look. There was an art piece at the entrance that look like another piece I saw in Grand-Bay last week. I snapped a picture for later comparisons. There was portable toilets and picnic tables. I follow a trail down to the river front.
and I was rewarded with a lovely view. Not lingering, I had a goal to seek out. Out of the park I go left till I come to a corner store. I stop in. It reminds me of an old fashion store from my childhood, slopped floors dimly lit and damp smelling but stocked with everything a person could want- including an NBLC outlet. Behind the counter is a women mid thirties, long black hair. ” Excuse me, do you know where The Cuts, is?”
” I do” she replies but volunteers no more. I remain silent and we keep staring, knowing the first to speak loses. After at least 30 seconds, she relents, figuring if I know the name I have a source that has revealed the secret. She gives me quick directions. I stamp them in my head, thank her and head out towards the right. Then not to far its a left, then a long strip of bounding badly patched black top, lined with pretty pines and lots of road kill. I am going slowly looking left and right at each opening for a dirt road, she said,” the road goes East and West, to go East.” I see the sign for the road I was told to look for. A car approaches from the opposite direction, It signals right, I signal left. The driver gives me a long stare as he turns. I follows him.
I slow down, on the gravel and let him pull further a head. I don’t want to puncture a tire. Gravel trucks come towards me, I roll my window up, not wanting to be coated In dust. The lady at the shop had said, ” two large rocks mark the entrance” I almost drive by when I spot them. I stop and make a quick Left. Forward, the truck rolls, under its own power. The way is rough and rocky. then it widens into a large gravel pit. There are other vehicles. I do a half turn and park so I can look in rear view mirror at the quarry pool and its residence. I feel like I am about to walk into a private back yard barbecue.
I change into my bathing suit in the truck , grab my towel, chair, hat and sun glasses. A few regulars look my way sizing me up, and not recognizing me they turn away wondering who has betrayed their secret swimming hole. I ignore the looks and claim my spot depositing my belongs on the bank. As I approach the waters edge, I hear a man telling a lady the water is cool. I step forward, preparing myself for the shock with a memory from the place I have swam in Cape Breton, for most of my life. It too is beautiful, secluded an old quarry, spring fed, cold clear and fantastic. We don’t want anyone to know about it either.
I don’t even hesitate I slide right in. It is not as cold as our spot in Cape Breton. It is deep, very deep. Within meters of the beach, I am well over my head as I submerged in a wonderful cool delight. It is so clear, I can see the gravel floor to the bottom far below. A brilliant aquamarine shadow from the atop. I stay in the water paddling and floating for well over half an hour.
I watch people climb up the path surrounding the quarry. Thrill seekers, adrenaline junkies, what ever you prefer; They stand on the the rock face edge, then stepping off plunging into the depths.
I spend an hours laying in the sun drying off. More people arrive with chairs blankets and coolers. The beach front area is filling up. I over hear a few others say it is their first time here. I smirk, not such a secret after all. I think the rule is -make people work for it, rather than reveal its location. It is definitely rewarding for those willing to put the effort forward. The cuts secret is safe with me.
Cheers and Happy travels from Maritime Mac.