Today we made it to the east coast of Newfoundland! It only took us 19 days to travel 902 km – a 12 1/2 hour drive – if you go straight from Port aux Basque to St. John’s. We, however drove to the tip of the Northern Peninsula first, came back down again, then went up several of the other smaller northside peninsulas before going south and counter clockwise around the Avalon Peninsula where St. John’s is located near the northeastern end. We will be in St. John’s for five nights after which we will drive one more peninsula – Placentia – on our way to the Argentia ferry back to Nova Scotia. We are not going to drive the Burin Peninsula even though there are some things I wouldn’t mind seeing there. We have tried to see many of the places and points of interest in the province but we do realize that we just can’t do it all. Rats!
We stayed at the Northwest B & B in Trepassey last night. The Northwest is owned by Gerard and Bertha Rousel from Ontario. He is a retired millwright from General Motors and she was the national logisitics manager for a huge printing firm. They have talked for many years about running a B & B. An existing B & B in Ontario costs over $1million so they moved away from all of their family and friends to buy the Northwest B & B in Trepassey. They plan to run it for about 5 years. So far they are having a great time. And we had another lovely breakfast with freshmade red currant muffins, and homemade bake apple or partridge berry jam for our toast. Gerard does all the berry picking and Bertha’s sister-in-law makes the jam. And we benefited nicely. Note: just before we left Bertha took our photo with my Poppy truck and was going to put it on the Northwest B & B Facebook page. I haven’t checked if it is there yet.
We were on the road at 9:30. It was another lovely sunny day and we made a few scenic stops on our way up the coast. First was at a place called Cappahayden, closely followed by Renews (they think the name of Renews derived from the Portuguese words for fresh water because the bay was a regular stopping off point for trading ships to take on (renew) their fresh water for the trans-Atlantic sailing home.
These are the two fresh water rivers that merge and flow into the bay.
We also drove along the edge of Bear Cove Point trying to find a heritage site marker and Devil’s Rock but couldn’t find either. The harbour was pretty though.
The longest stop for the day, I knew, was going to be at Ferryland. Ferryland is the sight of the 1621 English colony of Avalon and there is an active archeaological dig there just like in Cupids. The Avalon community was much larger and they have found over 2,000,000 artifacts to date; from common clay pipes to buttons to clothing scraps to gold coins. Significant items that tell the story of the settlement are on display in the visitor’s center.
We watched the 10 minute film, spent over half an hour looking at the exhibits then joined three folks from England/Scotland on a 1 hour guided tour of the dig site before returning to the museum to finish looking at the artifacts. Turns out our fellow tour members had come back to Newfoundland to see the changes that had taken place here since they had all worked for the International Grenfell Association many years ago.
We had just visited the Grenfell Center in St. Anthony and learned the story of the British doctor who built hospitals and nursing stations in Labrador and on the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland and did much to better the lot and the care of the poor fishermen and their families. It was very cool to talk to people who had a personal connection with the story we had so recently heard. And they were really nice people too.
There was a 2 acre vegetable garden at Avalon. Walking a 400 year-old cobblestone street. The buildings at Avalon were mostly made of slate stone with slate tile roofs. The archaeologists have found thousands and thousands of slate tiles.
After spending over 3 hours at Ferryland we thought we would drive out to the Ferryland lighthouse but it was a deeply rutted single-lane gravel road and we turned around after a couple of kilometers. The views were lovely along the way though.
We continued up the road to La Manche Provincial Park to walk to the abandoned village and the 500′ suspension bridge.We were told by the gate keeper at the La Mance Provincial Park that the trail was just down the road to the left at the end of the gravel road and a 20 minute walk. Wrong!
Trail! Are you kidding me? It was an obstacle course for heaven sake! Rocks, rocks and more rocks. Loose rocks, huge solid rocks, mud puddles and downhill all the way. I am sure it took us close to 40 minutes to get to the old village. Most of that time was my fault of course because I don’t like loose downhill rocks since my hip was replaced and I traverse them slowly. It did only take us 27 minutes to walk back out. But that was a ridiculous ‘trail.’
We arrived at St. John’s at 6:30 so today was one of our longer travel days. We met people today that plan to do the major points of the whole province in 4-5 days! Good luck to you folks. You will be driving a lot. And I really mean A LOT!