Ottawa to Riviere Du Loop, Quebec August 15, 2014

I think having Brian wait in the cold while I toured Rideau Hall was a poor decision. Last night be became very ill and was up most of the night. Of course I was up with him. He eventually fell asleep and I left him as long as possible, but he heard me up and around this morning.  He insisted he felt OK.  I had toyed with going to a walk in clinic this morning and got an address for same but we opted to give the road a try.  We just started out and he felt ill but it soon passed.  As the day went on he seemed to improve so we will see how it goes.  Perhaps I am pushing him beyond his limits.

It is obvious I will have to drive most of this trip and as a result will not have photos from our car.  We are travelling on Highway 1 and we have found very few turn offs to afford “photo ops.”  Despite a rocky start we did end up with one of our typical adventures.  We have noticed our GPS likes to take time in the morning to wake up.  She likes to go around the same blocks a couple of times before getting her bearings. I am not sure but she could have been feeling a bit off as well this morning. I thought she would take us back to St Catherine’s street and back to Highway 1 or in Ontario #17. Instead she took us further south before heading east.  At some point the road split in two and we didn’t notice which way we were to go or if we got into the wrong lane.  Next thing we know we are off into the countryside and having to make a left turn, to catch the FERRY!  Who knows where we were but I would say the boon docks somewhere…don’t know if in error or GPS planned this little outing. Anyway we paid our $9 and got on board the ferry  – holds about ten cars – and off we go to the other side of the lake/river? Who knows.  We eventually got onto a freeway and seemed we were on the right path.

The roads are pretty good with less construction but the traffic from Montreal through Quebec City was “congested” to use the electronic sign description.  This was to be our longest day drive and on 4 hours sleep, it was arduous.  Quebec, unlike Ontario, has rest pull outs which we used to our advantage today. I was very happy to arrived in Riviere Du Loop in one piece today! I had put an App on my iPad that converts English to French and vise versa, but we did not need it.  It seems people in the service industry all have some level of English and for the most part, very good English.  The only person who couldn’t speak English was the Pharmacist we went to tonight, however his assistance did and both of them could not have been nicer.  I explained Brian’s symptoms and they agreed it sounded like high blood sugars.  They offered to check his levels free, but I was there to buy a blood glucose monitoring machine. As it turns out his level was fine but given he had his meds ( he missed some two days in a row) and had eaten very little today, I suspect they leveled out during the day. You never saw a happier woman when I saw his “normal” reading.

We are off to Moncton tomorrow. For the last several miles today we drove with the St Laurence River in sight off and on, with low rising mountains off in the distance. I will try to take photos on the way home when the trees should have their autumn colors.

View from our "Ferry" adventure ride this morning

View from our “Ferry” adventure ride this morning

Riviere du Loop to Moncton NB Aug 16,2014

Potato Farm - west of Moncton

Potato Farm – west of Moncton

We had a pretty uneventful drive from Riviere du Loop to Moncton New Brunswick today. I had some concerns before leaving home about travelling in Quebec and trying to manage with my high school French. As it turns out everyone I spoke to could converse in English. Our GPS pulled her usual first morning stunt by taking us the long and winding road out of town, through an older part of the city but to an easy to access gas station, where once again the young man pumping the gas spoke English.  It’s been awhile since we had attendant service and having to go inside to pay. Once we were on the Highway our GPS got us on track and we got here just fine.  We have noticed that when we plug in the morning destination, it calculates our arrival time.  It changes when we make lunch stops but it is fairly accurate. Today we lost another hour and not sure where the time changed.

I know Moncton and all of New Brunswick is a mandated bilingual province but while shopping at Sobey’s I heard nothing but French being spoken and also at the liquor store. Of course the service staff spoke fluent English to me, but I was surprised at the amount of French spoken here. I can’t imagine the problems French Canadian’s have travelling to my home province of Alberta.  They won’t find many people able to speak French to them.

When I was packing for this trip I thought about bringing along a couple of folding chairs so we could pull off and have a picnic lunch. I am glad I didn’t waste the space. We have been on Highway 1 for the most part and there are almost no picnic type pull outs.  It is extremely difficult to pull off the Highway and is some places is appears trees have been planted along the road so drivers are not distracted by the scenery. When we took our U.S. road trip we found most states have well developed road stops.  They have clean bathrooms, ample parking for cars, trucks and RVs. They usually have vending machines, a pay phone and a dog exercise area.  We used these road stops frequently. It seems the only well equipped ones we found were in Quebec. In New Brunswick they have well signed road stops run by Irving Oil.  Thier stops offer gas, convenience store, washrooms. restaurants and today they had local farmers selling their produce. I do miss the pull outs with garbage cans, potties and picnic benches – usually located at a scenic spot and easy to turn into.

The other thing I miss are “Points of Interest.” From time to time we get glimpses of fabulous scenery but no where to pull over to enjoy the view. The result is very few photos along the road as Brian has not mastered the camera and I am doing the driving. Today we planned to stop in the see the World Potato Museum. We turned into the location and found it closed for a wedding.  Not sure a potato museum is a typical wedding venue, but in any case we had to continue back to the highway and on the Moncton.  We have finally arrived in the Maritime provinces but haven’t see the ocean yet despite it being only a few miles away. We did however try a seafood dish at lunch. We stopped at one of the Iriving road stops and tried clam chowder in the restaurant. It was excellent and a bowl filled us up. Tomorrow we travel to Cape Breton  to catch the ferry the following day to Newfoundland. Both of us are looking forward to letting someone else drive while we sit back and enjoy.

Appalachian Scenic drive

Appalachian Scenic drive

Moncton NB to Sydney NS August 17,2014

Entering Nova Scotia - Bay of Fundy visible in the distance

Entering Nova Scotia – Bay of Fundy visible in the distance

Today was going to be a shorter drive but would afford us the opportunity to wander off and do a bit of site seeing. Mid morning when were close to Springhill Nova Scotia – the birth place of singer Anne Murray and also home to one of Canada’s most memorable mine disasters.  We opted to go to the mine’s museum.  It was a bit of a challenge to get to but after asking some locals, we found it. We entered the building to find we had just missed the tour but if we waited 40 minutes we could take the next tour which lasts 45 min and includes going into the mine.  We decided it would take too much time so we walked around the museum.

When I was a kid our town got television in 1957 and had but one CBC channel. I clearly remember watching the CBC coverage of the 1958 Springhill mine disaster.  Looking back it was the first thing to “live” coverage of a major news event.  The country was riveted to the television and waited breathlessly for news of survivors. 

Entry to the mine shaft - Springhill Nova Scotia

Entry to the mine shaft – Springhill Nova Scotia

It is felt 74 of the 174 miners in the mine that day died instantly. Within 24 hours 81 survivors were found. In the waning days the mine owners declared the missing as dead but the miners from Springhill and   surrounding area would not quit digging until all men were out, dead or alive.  On day five 12 survivors were found and on day 7 the last seven living men were brought to the surface.  I can still see the families when their loved one was brought out, having died and the tears of joy when husbands and fathers were found alive.  It made national and international news. After the fact over 2 million dollars was raised to help support the families of the men who lost their lives. Today the museum doesn’t have many visitors as those of us who remember this tragedy are aging. When looking around the museum there was a photo of the oldest miner….. the man had been sent into the mines at the age of 6 1/2 when he lived in England and continued to work in the mines upon coming to Canada until he was 76 years old.  I can’t imagine that was much of a life.

While driving in Nova Scotia I was surprised they have mountains, not like the Rockies, but quite impressive in elevation.  The have built a new road similar to the one in BC( Coquihalla)) complete with a toll, to get through the mountainous terrain. I pulled into a Nova Scotia tourist information Center as soon as we crossed into the Province.

Welcoming Scottish Piper

Welcoming Scottish Piper

The center is very well done complete with a Scottish Piper playing us a tune. I got a photo of the surrounding area including a glimpse of the Bay of Fundy. The scenery got better as the day went on especially when I missed my turn after crossing the Causeway onto Cape Breton.  We ended up on Highway 105 which would have taken us to Sydney, but would have taken a longer route. The GPS told us to turn off the road and head east which I did.  We ended up on some back roads, however they were very scenic and part of the way we were of the Fleur De Lis scenic highway.  It may be scenic
Scenic Countryside

Scenic Countryside

but it’s full of deep pot holes! We eventually found the correct highway and arrived in Sydney in good time.  The hotel has a lovely outdoor space with scenic views and picnic tables.  My plan was to grab some sun ( the first in days) but it quickly hid behind the clouds. They had men mowing the grass nearby and they were wearing hoodies. It seems as soon as we crossed the Manitoba border into Ontario, we left summer behind.  We have had clouds, rain and cold weather, until today when the high hit 22. Tomorrow will be a day for long pants as we board the ferry for our journey to Newfoundland. Let the adventures begin! 

View from our hotel today - Sydney Nova Scotia

View from our hotel today – Sydney Nova Scotia

By Land and Sea–from Sydney Nova Scotia to Port Aux Basques to Corner Brook, Newfoundland August 18,2014

Leaving Sydney

Leaving Sydney

This was a very long travel day. We had a 25 km trip from Sydney to the Ferry terminal which was pretty easy to find, despite my worries of missing the turn and arriving late. As it turns out we were early and ended up boarding quickly – however first on – last off!. While waiting to board I got chatting with a man who quit his job in Fort McMurray Alberta to return home to NFLD, something I understand is quite common.  He was very excited to introduce his mother to her granddaughter whom she had never met.  During our conversation it was obvious his love for his native province and his desire to return to his roots.

Into the belly of the beast

Into the belly of the beast

It was lots of fun boarding the ferry.  We ended up having to make a sharp right turn in the middle of the ship to go down a ramp to the bottom.  Turn had to turn the car around and back into a very tight space.  I am not complaining as we saw commercial trailers on the outside with barely inches to space between wall and posts.

We went upstairs to the seating lounge which was spacious and comfortable and had a snack bar.  They were selling hot dogs and they smelled so very good.  Not knowing what kind of seas we were to have I postponed eating given my penchant for seasickness.

Comfy seats for the trip across

Comfy seats for the trip across

  We had at least a 90 minute wait before we finally left port.  The weather was overcast and raining and it continued to get worse during the sail over.  As long as I remained seated and had my eyes focused on reading I was OK, but when I got up and moved around, I became queasy. I heard the staff say the sea was a bit rough…so I didn’t feel too bad. They have multiple TVs but unless you bring your own head set, you don’t have sound.  Brian found the trip tedious.

Once we arrived in Port of Basques we had a bit of a wait to clear the ship. 

First Sight of Newfoundland

First Sight of Newfoundland

We were off just before 7 pm local time ( a half hour ahead of the mainland.) Corner Brook was our final destination – some 220+ kms up the road.  The clouds were heavy and the rain heavier – you could hardly see where you were going – everything was a gray color – the roads and the sky.  The first views of Newfoundland were just as I have seen in photos however as we drove along, we were climbing and soon nothing but scrub trees and hills surrounded us.  It was quite dark when we arrived and glad to book into the hotel.  It has an on sight restaurant which we took advantage of and is suitable only for a desperate traveller!

Arriving in Port Aux Basques

Arriving in Port Aux Basques

McCarthy’s Party Newfoundland Tour Meet & Greet Aug 20, 2014

Glynmill Pond

Glynmill Pond

Our day got off to a leisurely start as we had all morning before meeting our tour people at the Deer Lake Airport at 1:30 p.m.  Last night we sorted through our belongings to decide what will come on tour with us and what will stay behind in the car. Surprisingly we had a great deal of stuff left in the trunk, but our suitcases seemed pretty full – both of us had to open the extender on the suitcases.  The morning got off to a good start with some blue skies but that ended very soon and the rain and cloud moved in and remained all day. We left early to get to the airport and were there long before we needed to.  We had driven out the previous day to get a heads up on the lay out etc. We spoke to the parking lot attendant who mentioned the lot might be full today but assured me she would find somewhere for us. Upon arrival the lot was indeed full.  She ensured we got a spot in the Employees parking lot and arranged a driver to pick me up and take me to the terminal, despite the fact it was walking distance.  I had already dropped Brian and the bags off so had only a purse and umbrella to carry. Very thoughtful people!

We had a few hours of waiting so we sat and read and had lunch at the on sight cafeteria.  The café was surprising as it had a generous menu and was reasonably priced.  No pre-wrapped food here. Eventually the rep from McCarthy’s Party came into the terminal. He had to wait for two planes to land so we went to the bus where our bags were tagged and loaded and we board the bus to wait for the rest.  There was 4 people already on board and bit by bit we became a group of 15 or so.

Ski Hill just outside of Corner Brook

Ski Hill just outside of Corner Brook

Several people had come in early and had been at the hotel for a day or two and several others were coming in the evening.  We arrived at the Glynmill Inn just before 3 and quickly dispatched to our rooms. Tonight we had a meeting to meet our fellow travellers and review some details of the trip.  Looking around the room, we are a very senior group including some with mobility issues. I do hope there will be an opportunity for some exploring for those of us who can still do some hiking.

The Inn is built in a Tudor style and has been declared a heritage building.

Glynmill Inn - as seen from the pond

Glynmill Inn – as seen from the pond

It was built in 1923 for the Armstrong Whitworth Co of England who built the pulp and paper mill here. They built the hotel as their senior staff needed living quarters and later became an executive guesthouse for the NFLD Pulp and Paper Co.  They added to the building in 1974 but kept the addition to the back and kept the exterior to form as much as possible.  We dined in the dining room this evening and it is a very nice elegant old building complete with creaky stairs and floors.

This afternoon to chase away the cobwebs I took a little hike on the nearby trail, over to Glynmill Pond. It was a nice walk despite the light rain and was refreshing. Tomorrow we start out with a tour around Corner Brook then on the Gros Morne National Park.  We are starting the tour with a big bang.  Hopefully the rain will let up allowing for some great photos.

Took this photo at the pond - the lighting provided a mirror shadow of the swan and her neck - almost forming a heart shape.

Took this photo at the pond – the lighting provided a mirror shadow of the swan and her neck – almost forming a heart shape.

Corner Brook to Gros Morne and Plum Point Aug 21, 2014

Last look at Corner Brook taken from Captain Cook look out

Last look at Corner Brook taken from Captain Cook look out

Let the tour begin. Bags out by 7 a.m., breakfast then hit the road at 8 a.m.  We spent a brief amount of time touring Corner Brook and learning a bit of the city’s history. In the early 1900s a pulp and paper mill was built and in order for the mill to have the needed electricity, the company built a power plant as well. At one time  Newfoundland had three mills but the demand has dropped and the other two mills closed. Krueger Pulp & Paper in Corner Brook hung on – one – they have their own cheap source of power – two – the province provided  $19 million to keep it open and provide jobs. Recently when Newfoundland suffered a power shortage with rolling blackouts, the Company diverted power into the provincial system, the least they could do for the 19 million bailout.  Our first stop of the day was the Captain Cook lookout, overlooking the city of Crook Brook. Captain Cook using rudimentary tools, mapped out the entire shoreline of Newfoundland and when compared to today’s maps are almost spot on.

Leaving Corner Brook we head north through the Humber Valley, past the local ski hill “ Marble Mountain.”  The Humber River is well known for it’s great salmon fishing. The river is 120 km long which doesn’t seem that long, but is one of Newfoundland’s longest rivers. You can take a boat cruise up the river from Corner Brook and given the scenery of the Humber Valley, it would be a wonderful scenic tour.

Reflections in water

Reflections in water

Our tour guide Joe is quite a character and has quite the sense of humour. He tells a good joke and keeps us informed as the miles pass along. Joe is a native “Newfie” and has shared his experiences growing up and living in Newfoundland. Nfld has many remote communities  and he explains how they continue to survive and the government’s efforts to relocate residents giving them better access to health and education. One lady on our tour asked how people heated their homes and the answer was “wood.” Most of the land in Newfoundland is crown land. Each family is allowed to cut 10 cords of wood for their own consumption. As we drive along the road we frequently come to see piles of logs.  We are told these are harvested for this winter’s consumption. Some homes supplement with electricity and some home still have the oil furnaces but oil tanks are being phased out.

Joe tells us we are likely to see moose in the next few days.

North Western Coastline

North Western Coastline

Moose are not native to Newfoundland but 4 moose were brought over in the early 1900s and have flourished. For many years the moose were hunted for their massive racks but now they have a controlled hunt and moose is a valued meat source for the locals. They believe the current moose population to be around 140,000.

Joe is teaching us some of the local language and here is a small sample

  • Newfoundland Air Force  – sea gulls
  • Tuckamore – a small evergreen tree that grows despite harsh conditions like wind, rain, snow and salty air.  They can be 100 years old but only 3’ high
  • Scoff – a big cooked meal
  • Scuff – a dance
  • Scoff & Scuff – dinner and a dance!
  • Mug Up – tea or coffee with a biscuit or light dessert



Today we entered Gros Morne National Park.  The park gets it’s name from the French words for “large mountain standing alone.” It’s part of the Long Range Mountains and a outlying range of the Appalachian Mountains. The park provides a rare example of the process of continental drift where deep ocean crust and the rocks of the earth’s mantle are exposed. As we are driving the Viking Trail along the coast, the mountains are visible off in the distance, and today shrouded with low cloud and fog.

This afternoon we stopped at Port au Choix where historic remains were found in the 60s by a man digging a basement.

Port Aux Choix - a very desolate location

Port Aux Choix – a very desolate location

The remains are thought to be in excess of 3000 years old.  They found no evidence of disease and it appears if one survived past the age of two, the person could expect a long healthy life. The skulls were examined and  indicated the people of this time had good dental health, although the teeth appeared worn from excessive chewing ie: softening hides.

We met most of our fellow travellers last evening. Today we are a group of 32, I think. We have four Americans, 2 from London England, several from Ontario,  six of us from Alberta and even two delightful ladies from Newfoundland.

We frequently see fishing equipment in the middle of no where along the coast

We frequently see fishing equipment in the middle of no where along the coast

It’s puzzling to me why people would pay a good deal of money to take this tour, then spend the day reading a book or sleeping as the stunning scenery passes by. I seem to be the keen photographer with only a few others taking occasion pictures. We do however have some keen souvenir collectors on tour.

Tomorrow we continue north to St Anthony and L’Anse aux Meadows – home of Lief the Lucky and the Viking people who settled the area. Tomorrow evening we will be treated to a Newfoundland style “Kitchen Party.”

View from the back of our Plum Point Motel

View from the back of our Plum Point Motel

Round trip–Plum Point to L’Anse aux Meadows to St Anthony and return to Plum Point Aug 22, 2014

shoreline scenery

shoreline scenery

On our way to L’Anse aux Meadows, we stop at a local craft store where we are treated to a video demonstrating the old ways of treating seal skins, ending with a product called “bark seal.” The methodology is labour intensive and takes many many weeks and hard effort to get the final product – seal hide completely stripped of fur and fat – then hand stitched into mitts and boots.  Years ago the seal hunt was very important to the northern people of Newfoundland. It was the first fresh food source in spring and provided the first income of the year. So valuable were the skins that when the hunters went out in ships to harvest seals, the pelts were stored in the belly of the ship while the men ate and slept on deck at the mercy of the elements.

Our guide Joe gave us more information about the harvesting of wood used to heat the homes in these remote areas of the island.

wood pile - 10 cords

wood pile – 10 cords

As mentioned in a previous blog, each family was allowed to harvest 10 cords of wood for their own use. They harvest the trees in winter when the logs can be moved easier overland using snow machines to pull the logs over the snow. The family’s wood in placed along the road and left to dry in the summer. Late summer the owner comes by to haul his wood by road to his home. The piles appear abandoned however upon a closer look the piles are numbered.  One has to apply each year for the wood permit and these piles have the permit number on them. Government inspectors will stop by these piles and measure them to ensure all the wood from the tree has been used and to ensure only ten cords have been harvested. Being government run you have to know there is bound to be some stupid regulations. I asked our guide what do people do who lack the ability to harvest their own wood.  Up until very recently they had no choice but to stich to electric heat.  They may have had a family member who could cut and haul the wood for them, but it was forbidden to do so!

more coastal scenery

more coastal scenery

Joe also talked about the fishing in Newfoundland and gave a fairly balance account of the fishery in this province.  The lack of fish had many causes – over fishing by large capacity boats, both local and internationally. One boat can now harvest in a matter of hours, what used to take a smaller boat ( usually family owned) several days to catch. The types of fishing methods used in modern day leaves the fish with no escape route so they may mature and reproduce. One interesting loss of fish was due to the fishermen of the area. Trying to assist the local fisheries the government of Newfoundland gave the fishermen FREE gill nets. A boat may put out 8 to 10 nets in hopes of catching the quota, but with free nets, they might put out 20 nets. Once they hauled the quota on board the remaining nets were simply cut loose, trapping the fish which eventually died.  These nets were sturdy nylon and last for years. Long after the practice stopped the floating “ghost” nets continued to trap and kill fish, long after the net had been cut free.

As we travelled along today were learned a bit more “Newfie’

  • splitz – small kindling wood
  • Newfoundland farm – a small garden plot found roadside and about 10 x 10 feet, containing root vegetables for harvesting late summer
  • swamp donkey – a small moose

After the craft store we hit the road to L’Anse aux Meadows. 

L'Anse aux Meadows

L’Anse aux Meadows

Remains have been found proving this area was inhabited about 1000 years ago by the Vikings. The Vikings were looking for resources like wood and fish. The reconstructions of three Norse buildings are the focal point of this archaeological site, the earliest known European settlement in the New World. The archaeological remains at the site were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. Exhibits highlight the Viking lifestyle, artifacts, and the archaeological discovery of the site.P1050183 Today they continue to build replicas of Norse buildings.  They build a wooden frame from small peeled logs and fill in the walls with thick blocks of peat.( R value greater than 100) They remind me of the “soddies” built by the pioneers of prairies.

Leaving l”Anse aux Meadows, we head to St Anthony’s. We did not go to the Grenfell Center as we had a medical emergency to attend to. The centre interprets the life and times of Dr. Wilfred Grenfell. If you wish to learn more about this outstanding Doctor and humanitarian you may wish to check out

We retraced our trip today and returned to Plum Point around 5 p.m.

a silver of ice burg - very rare for this time of year

a silver of ice burg – very rare for this time of year

Dinner was on our own…very funny…the sole restaurant in miles is here at the hotel. We were told not to have dessert as after dinner we were invited to walk to the local church where we would be treated to a “Mug Up.”  The 12 ladies of this knitting guild ( a registered charity) host groups of tour.  They provide dessert and a hot beverage and have their crafts on sale.  All proceeds from these “ Mug Ups” go to their charity where they contribute in many ways to the people in the surrounding area. They provide overnight bags for locals having to make the 12 hour journey to St Johns for cancer treatment, in addition to giving cash to cover the expense of the travel. The donate money and merchandise to the battered women’s society, local volunteer fire department,the local church, food bank and clothing for new bornes as well as other comfort items to those in need. Our guide Joe provided music with either the guitar or a button accordion while the head of the charity joined in with song and dance.P1050227 Both loved to tell jokes and it felt almost like a “real kitchen party” complete with someone playing “the spoons.”

I couldn’t help but notice how comfortable our performers were. They are used to sining at groups with family and friends. This guild of knitters are a tight knit group of women and you can tell they have seen each other through good and bad times. Tonight we were afforded a glimpse of real community spirit and sense of belonging. It’s no wonder, people from this province feel such a strong tug to return to their roots where they belong.

As we left the party this evening we were treated to a lovely sunset – something we haven’t had in 14 days.


Plum Point to Labrador–following the Coastal Drive to Red Bay, L’Anse au Clair and L’Anse Amour August 23, 2014

Cool crisp morning drive

Cool crisp morning drive

The very first day of our tour, our guide Joe told us this tour is at a leisurely pace. Well Joe is a much younger physically fit man with a bus load of very senior seniors.  Being out partying till after nine with a 5 a.m. wake up call this morning is not my idea of a leisurely pace! Keep in mind I write the blog at the end of every day, with the writing ending after midnight in yesterday’s case. We were up and at it early as we had to leave the motel at 630 to catch the ferry over to Labrador. 

Morning ferry to Labrador

Morning ferry to Labrador

For the first time in two weeks we had a sun rise. The day got off to a good start with sunny skies and a light breeze and calm seas for our sail over.  It’s a short sail over as the distance is only 9 miles.  There is a great deal of talk and lobbying t create a tunnel across, connected Newfoundland to the mainland with a road system. The proposition is costly but many feel the benefits would outweigh the negative. Having a land connection with lower the cost of bringing goods on and off the island and could potentially increase tourism. The ferry or flight costs are high, so having a road system may open the province to easier and cost effective access for tour buses etc.  Labrador has a huge land mass but very few residents – somewhere near 30,000. It is rich in resources, adding money to the Provincial coffers and the residents feel they get very little in return.

The residents are primarily scattered along the coastal area and seem quite remote to visitors.

coastal landscape

coastal landscape

Certainly the landscape is vastly different to what we have been exposed to over the last days and weeks. It initially appears quite barren but as you move inland you enter heavily forested areas. As we were driving the  Coastal drive today, the view was improved and one could see long distances. Joe pointed out boulders or rocks he referred to as “ Erratics.” The definition of  “Erratic” – is glacier transported rock fragment, that differs from the local bedrock.


Erratics may be embedded in soil or occur on the ground surface and may range in size from pebbles to huge boulders weighing thousands of tons.

Our first stop today was in Red Bay to visit the Basque Whaling Station. The Basque whalers of France and Spain enjoyed at least 50 years of prosperity off the Labrador coast hunting Right whales and Bowhead whales during the 16th century. They have a great display telling how these men sailed from Spain to spend their summers in the area hunting and killing the whales then processing the whales to obtain a refined pure whale oil.P1050289 Once the oil was processed it was places in wooden drums similar in size to our oil drums and put on board ship to return to Spain. While dangerous and difficult living circumstances, the men were happy to become whalers and they made a good living off the whale oil.

After lunch we head further along the coast to L’Anse Amour to tour the tallest lighthouse in Atlantic Canada and  second highest in the country.

L'Amour Point Lighthouse

L’Amour Point Lighthouse

It provides a panoramic view of the surrounding land and sea, and a glimpse of its historical attributes during a 132 step adventure to the top. I chose to stay close to the ground and take photos. It was a pretty quiet trip back to L’Anse au Clair where we are staying for the night. We are staying at the Northern Lights Motel and it is a busy place. In addition to being the sole motel in the area, it has a full service restaurant which provides take out chicken and pizza.  The outside temp at the time of writing is about 12 degrees and the front door is wide open.  The only internet access is directly across from the open door and the cold breeze is a great incentive to type fast and say little.

Our tour group is really starting to gel. No clicks, everyone takes turns sitting with each other at meals and generally getting to know one another. Joe(tour guide) always has corny and mostly funny jokes to tell so everyone seems to be having a lot of fun. We are meeting people from across Canada, England and two couples from the US. So far I know we have 3 retired nurses in our group of 34.

Bit by bit I find myself learning to speak Newfie. I can put in plurals “whenever I pleases” or drop and “H” here and add one where is doesn’t belong.  For example the stuff on my head is “air” and the stuff I breathe is “hair.”  When I find a delicious dish “ I tells em, that’s some good!” I know longer have coffee breaks but with have a “Mug Up” mid morning. The people we meet are delightful with a keen if not wicked sense of humour – most of it self depreciating.

Tomorrow we have a 5 a.m. wake up call so we can catch the ferry out at 7 so perhaps I’ll let the photos speak for the day.

If you double click on a photo it will enlarge full screen for a better view.

Travel day from Labrador to Rocky Harbour, Sunday August 24, 2014

Gros Morne at a distance

Gros Morne at a distance

Today was a travel day as we left Labrador this morning via the 7 a.m. ferry and travel back to Newfoundland and travel down the west coast to Rocky Harbour. We are travelling over roads we covered a few days ago but now I have a clear view of the scenery that was across from me on the first trip. The vistas change so often it’s hard to take it all in. Our sole stop today was “ The Arches” provincial park.  Prior to arriving at the park we stopped at a gas station/restaurant/convenience store where each passenger had the opportunity to pick up a few items for lunch as our guide spontaneously planned a noon picnic at the Arches.

The Arches

The Arches

At this location one finds a naturally occurring rock arch formed when the seas, wind and rain erode the dolomite and leave the gaping holes. The weather was 4 degrees C when leaving Labrador but for our picnic, we had clear skies and a temperature of around 18. It was a pleasant stop and certainly a photo op.

Joe continues to keep us entertained with his stories and was teasing our driver Jessica about leaving her”teeth” at the hotel in Plum Point.  We made a brief stop at the hotel to pick up her dental retainer.  Joe having teased her most of the morning was reminded of a joke.  Joe has a close friend who is Inuit and even personalized the joke for us.  Here goes:

  • My Inuit friend and I were chatting over a beer one day and we started talking about our “misses.”  My Inuit friend is a man of few words. I asked him how he met his wife and later asked, what did you say on your first date? My friend smiled and answered……”nice tooth!”

A pleasant day for fishing

A pleasant day for fishing

Joe also provided us with another Newfie term. It seems when you come over from a traditional meal, you might think the meal is done when the sweets are served, but he sys watch out for a “tightener.” No self respecting Newfie misses is going to let her guests up from the table until they have eaten so much, their belts are tight. Tonight we had a traditional Newfoundland Jiggs dinner with fresh local peas, carrots, salt beef, ( more like corned beef) and roast beef ( cooked to the consistency of shoe leather), pease pudding ( yellow dried beans – boiled and mashed with a few seasonings) a boiled potato and a light gravy. Following this were served a few berry tarts and a few squares. We thought we were done when out came the cheese cake covered in partridge berry sauce……aha…the “tightener.”

The berry tarts are made with local “Bakeapples.”” Bakeapple is from the French, ‘baie qu’appelle…’ meaning, ‘what is this berry called..?’, is commonly known as a ‘Cloudberry’. It is similar in appearance to a rather large raspberry and has what some say a distinct honey/apricot-like flavour. Male and female flowers grow separately with each plant growing a single white, five petalled flower from the tip of the stem. The fruit is red when unripe and turns a soft golden orange at maturity. They are generally ready for picking around mid August. The plants are low growing and easy to overlook. As you get one berry per plant they are costly to buy – $60 gallon. Every dinner we have had comes with a dessert with either “bakeapple” or partridge berry in some form or another. Partridgeberries are  known as lingonberries. Tart in flavour they are high in vitamin C, tannin, anthocyanin, and antioxidants. Put with enough sugar, both berries are quite flavourful but I think it’s time to try something else.

Tomorrow we take a boat cruise from Bonne Bay to Woody Point. We will be spending time in Gros Morne National Park. We will be visiting the Discovery Center and view the famous tableland mountains.


Bonne Bay Boat Tour, Gros Morne and return to Rocky Harbour August 25,2014

Sweeping vista of Bonne Bay

Sweeping vista of Bonne Bay

After two 5 a.m. mornings it was great to be able to have a bit of a morning “lie in” until 7 a.m. We awoke to sunny skies and a calm day. Perfect weather to take a boat tour. We head off to Bonne Bay not knowing that to expect from our morning outing. Bonne Bay is a part of Gros Morne National Park. Bonne Bay has a population of about 7000 people.

stunning scenery

stunning scenery

It is separated into two sections: Inner Bonne Bay and Outer Bonne Bay. Inner Bonne Bay consists of two arms, one which is South which has wooded coves and beach landings. Outer Bonne Bay consists of the entrance to the fjord of Bonne Bay. Bonne Bay is home to most species of fish and we are told we may see whales, tuna, dolphins and a number of birds including “bald eagles.”
One of several. We watched as one eagle caught a fish only to have to stolen by another

One of several. We watched as one eagle catch a fish only to have to stolen by another

The water was calm with the surrounding scenery reflected magnificently. I don’t believe words can adequately describe the breathtaking surroundings found in Bonne Bay but fortunately I was able to capture glimpses of the beauty.

Kayakers enjoying the entrance of a "tickle"

Kayakers enjoying the entrance of a “tickle”

During our boat tour our group was brought together for an official “ Screech In” ceremony. There are four requirements for a “Screech In Ceremony” You need a natural born Newfoundlander to preform the ceremony, a real fish, a Sou’Wester fishing hat and a bottle of Screech. One of boat’s crew conducted the ceremony and this man has an unforgettable face but one should not take this man lightly. 

Reg Williams - owner of Bonne Tours and member of Anchors Away Band

Reg Williams – owner of Bonne Tours and member of Anchors Away Band

He is Mr. Entertainment himself.  Reg Williams is continually clowning around and is so much fun. What you don’t see is a very astute business man and one of the most successful on the island. He owned the hotel we stayed in, plays in a very successful band, and has his hands in several other businesses including our tour boat(owner). The Screech In ceremony was such fun. After reciting the Newfoundland Pledge, we all downed our screech. As we are a large group of 40 today, the kissing of the cod is next, but only one member of our group “Kissed the Cod.”
The needed "screech"

The needed “screech”

I was disappointed the cod was rubberized, but it was a hoot just the same. After our ceremony we were treated to some music and it ended our boat tour on a high note. Our tour ended at Woody Point just as the sky started to cloud up.

Our group was exhilarated from the unbelievable beauty of the morning as we head off for lunch in Trout River. Tour guide Joe promised us a tasty lunch and told us how in Newfoundland, you would complement a woman on her cooking. You just tell her the meal was so good she could likely “fry a fart and still make a tasty gravy.”  Our noontime restaurant was tastefully decorated with hand carved artwork, and photos of the family who have run this establishment for two generations. In addition to the artwork, several antiques and local implements were on display including an “Ugly Stick.”

The "Ugly" stick

The “Ugly” stick

We have been told our evening get together would include a demonstration of how the “Ugly Stick” was put together and how it is used as a musical instrument. It is a very intriguing looking device and hard to see how thing thing could make a melody. After a delicious lunch we availed ourselves of a little walk. Some of the local ladies will put out their crafted goods for sale when they know McCarthy’s Party is coming to town.  As soon as one of us stopped to examine the knitting ( in most cases) the lady of the house would come out and have a chat. During our travels we notice many many homes dry their clothes on a clothesline.
Drying clothes the old way

Drying clothes the old way

It’s been several years since I have seen clothes waving in the wind and it seems very nostalgic and from a period gone long ago.

Today we finally get to see Gros Morne up close and take a short break allowing us to walk the “Tableland.” the road we drive along splits the vista in half.  On one side you have steep slopes covered in lush greenery and  trees, while the other side is barren and rocky.  The rocks appear yellow/orange as a result of the exposed minerals forming a rusty crust.  Captain James Cook named the tablelands when he explored and maps this area.  Indeed the top of these mountains appear much like a “tabletop” as if someone with a mighty saw, cut the tops off to make a smooth surface. 

The Tablelands - Gros Morne National Park

The Tablelands – Gros Morne National Park

How I would love to return one day, to hike in the glorious area.  We stopped at the Discovery Center of Gros Morne National park to take in a video and learn more about this unusual rock formation. It was quite amusing to see our bus of mostly seniors being put in a comfy seat, with lights dimmed having just had a full meal. Staying awake during video was a challenge for most of us.

Tonight dinner is on our own and followed by a performance in the bar of a local band. This band performs here Mon, Wed and Friday nights during tourist season. Two of the performers –Reg Williams and Wayne Parsons, were known to us, as they worked our tour boat this morning, including Reg Williams. 

Anchors Away - preforming to a packed audience.

Anchors Away – preforming to a packed audience.

The cost of admission was $28 and by the end of the evening, we realized we had a bargain. The group is called Anchors Aweigh and extremely talented both with song and humour. We were told the evening performance would be from 8 pm to 10 pm when it actually last well over 3 hours. Our sides were sore from laughing and our hands hot from clapping along to the music.

This has been an unforgettable day full of fun and laughter, making memories and wishing for the day to never end.

Woody Point Newfoundland

Woody Point Newfoundland

It is hard to limit the photos taken today to just a few. Enjoy.