Not far from Sussex, atop Keirstead Mountain (not much more than a large hill in reality!) I pass by this cluster of old barns every time I drive down from Fredericton. They have been there as long as I can remember, even when I was just a child in the backseat of my parents car. On a 2004 trip, I got thinking about that and figured I had better get a photo of them before they disappear! The road beside these old barns used to be part of the original Trans-Canada Highway that was built through here in 1959/60, but it is now just a backwater since a new 4-lane superhighway was built in 2001. At least, it makes for quite enjoyable driving now without having to worry about camper-trailers and transport trucks!
Even though I say this is only a hill, it is amazing what a few hundred feet in elevation can do in winter. I have had cases where this part of the highway was covered in snow, but the lower elevations were not!
It was not long after I had come back down the other side of the mountain that I noticed a large bird flying toward me, quite low over the highway. From its ponderous wing beats I suspected that it was a 4-foot tall Great Blue Heron with a wingspan to match. Sure enough, it veered off before I reached it and from the 'S-bend' of its neck and long legs trailing behind, the identification was complete. That's the thing about bird watching, quite often a bird can be identified by its size and flying characteristics without even getting a good look at it.
Sussex is known as the 'covered bridge capital of Atlantic Canada' because there are 16 of these bridges located within Kings County and 8 of these bridges are within a ten minute driving distance of the town. The Kennebecasis valley has long been a preferred route for travellers between Saint John and Nova Scotia because of the natural shelter it provided as compared to the still rough and unsettled land between there and the frigid coastline along the Bay of Fundy. Part of that road network consisted of covered bridges, also known as 'kissing bridges', which were designed to keep the weather off the floor boards in order to prolong their life. During the winter, snow was spread on the floor to make it easier for sleighs to continue their journey. This particular bridge is located just on the outskirts of town and is known by its official Department of Transportation name of Kennebecasis #7.5 or as the 'Salmon' bridge by locals. It was built in 1908 and has a length of 112-ft (34-m). It was retired from service in 1985 when a concrete bridge was built beside it and the covered bridge now serves as a tourist stop with a small picnic area at one end. It was at this spot that I was canoeing with my father in 1975 (after returning from Zambia) when we spotted a Great Horned Owl in a large pine tree being harassed by a flock of Crows. My 3 years marvelling at the many plant and animal sights I had seen in Africa had awakened in me a desire to pay more attention to the natural surroundings of my home province, and it was after that Owl sighting that I took up bird-watching as one of my life-long pleasures!
In addition to the wooden covered bridges, ornate granite-constructed bridges were the standard design (1951-55) when they struck the fancy of the new Provincial Chief Bridge Engineer. Sussex happens to have one of them, at the Ward's Creek crossing in the middle of town (2nd and 3rd photos). I have always admired their beauty as well, just a bit more class than today's standard concrete and steel structures.