2014 Sep 13 – Day 86 – Ingonish Beach, NS to Antigonish, NS

Cape Breton Highlands National Park – Part 2

We left Ingonish Beach a bit later than we planned.   We were going to be on the road at 10 but didn’t leave until 10:40.  Oh well.  We don’t exactly have a tight schedule!

We were blessed with a beautiful day once again and we drove straight into the Park and up to the northern end at North Cape where we left off our sightseeing yesterday.

A phenomenon we have encountered in the Maritimes, and no where else on all of our travels, is rocks erupting from the middle of the road.  We came across this several times in Newfoundland and again here in Cape Breton just outside of Ingonish Beach.  I don’t know how the rocks do this but perhaps they are like the mushrooms at the end of our paved driveway that just blew pieces of the asphalt out so they could reach the light.  Are rocks like that???

IMG_9765 IMG_9767From North Cape you leave the coast and go over the top of the mountainous center of Cape Breton Highlands – with a lovely twisty bit that made John wish he was on his motorcycle.  I was expecting to drive right to the western side of the peninsula through a hardwood forest and then have scenic things to look at again.

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Not so.  We were constantly pulling over for view points.  We even did a few short hikes.  My favorite I think was at Lone Shieling – a Scottish term for a stone shepherd’s hut.  Many Scottish immigrants settled in the Pleasant Valley area after being expelled from the Isle of Skye in the 1800’s.

To commemorate his Scottish roots Donald S. MacIntosh bequeathed 100 acres of his homestead in Grand Anse Valley for a park in 1934.  When the park land was incorporated into Cape Breton Highlands National Park the Lone Shieling was built to recognize his heritage and gift.

The hike was really a 15 minute stroll through towering sugar maple trees; some of which are 350 years old.  The light on the leaves was wonderful.

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The second thing that made the Lone Shieling stop memorable took place before we walked into the woods.  When we pulled into the parking lot a tour bus was also there and the folks were all sitting around the picnic tables having their lunch.  There was a group sitting right in front of where we parked.  Immediately heads were turning, elbows were nudging neighbours and everyone was looking at Poppy.  By the time I got out of the truck 3 men had walked over and began asking questions.  Within 15 minutes literally half of the tour bus occupants were standing around my truck.  10 minutes after that they were taking turns posing to have their photos taken with Poppy.  The bus was running and ready to go and people were still happily talking about the little red truck.  And….one fellow was from Chilliwack and a lady that came over right at the end was from Salmon Arm.  She had recently moved there.  What a hoot!  I wish I had taken a photo of all these people in a ring around my truck.

A few kilometers down the road and went on an actual hike – still an easy walk but it took an hour.  Again we walked through the forest along a stream to a small waterfall at the end – MacIntosh Falls.

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The trees are growing out of the boulders!IMG_9821 IMG_9822 IMG_9823 IMG_9826


The light through the tree canopy made the ground look green.IMG_9833 It was a gloriously scenic day.

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The MacKenzie River ValleyIMG_9854




The Bog – a nice little loop on a boardwalkIMG_9855 IMG_9857 IMG_9858 IMG_9859 IMG_9861 IMG_9865 IMG_9875


If you look closely you can see people standing on the crest of this cliff.IMG_9876




They are standing on the central grey ridge in this shot.IMG_9883  Cap Rouge LookoutIMG_9886



I found another Red Chair.IMG_9887 IMG_9894 IMG_9895 IMG_9905 IMG_9913We eventually made it to the other side and down to the end of Cape Breton Park at 3 pm.  IMG_9914



Pretty colored house at Margaree


And to top it off the clouds were wonderful shapes around the lowering sun.  I snapped well over a dozen photos out the window.

IMG_9916 IMG_9917 IMG_9919 IMG_9926 IMG_9928 IMG_9931 IMG_9937We arrived in Antigonish at 6:45 so it was a pretty full day today – even with the later start.

2014 Sep 12 – Day 85 – North Sydney, NS to Ingonish Beach, NS

Cape Breton Highlands National Park – Part 1

We had a very smooth ferry ride last night.  The ferry was so much like a cruise ship that John and I felt right at home.  We arrived in North Sydney at 8:30 am Atlantic time – now we are done with that silly extra 1/2 hour time difference in Newfoundland.  Our berth at the terminal was taken by the Port aux Basque ferry so we had to wait for it to move before we could dock at 9:30.  We drove off the boat at 10:18.

IMG_9630 IMG_9629The view from St. Ann’s Look Off at the summit of Kellys Mountain

We are spending the night at Ingonish Beach at the edge of Cape Breton Highlands National Park. It is only  about 76 km from North Sydney harbour to Ingonish Beach so obviously it didn’t take us too long to get there – 11.55 to be precise.  However we did not stop.  We drove to the Park entrance, bought our pass and continued up the road.

The sun broke through the clouds and we had nice light for most of our drive today; which was really good as it was a scenery day all the way.  This side of the Cape Breton Peninsula is characterized by rocks, bluffs and beaches.  The other side is winding mountain roads with 300′ cliffs.  (That will be tomorrow’s fun)



Lovely reflections near North GutIMG_9637  Just past Wreck CoveIMG_9643 IMG_9646 IMG_9648 IMG_9649



Can you spot the two seals?




Climbing the Smokey to Ingonish FerryIMG_9659  Nice view at the topIMG_9660

IMG_9668  Ingonish BeachIMG_9670 IMG_9673 IMG_9674


The drive to Keltic LodgeIMG_9676




At Keltic Lodge




IMG_9690 IMG_9691 Lakies Head

IMG_9695  Green CoveIMG_9700 IMG_9701 IMG_9704 IMG_9706 IMG_9699 IMG_9708 IMG_9709  IMG_9717IMG_9712 IMG_9714 IMG_9710 IMG_9715

IMG_9721 IMG_9719McKinnons Cove

IMG_9722 Black Brook BeachIMG_9723 IMG_9724 IMG_9727 IMG_9726

There are 10 red chairs scattered in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. We found one at least.IMG_9733

IMG_9734 IMG_9737 IMG_9741 Near Effies Brook

We only made one ‘historical stop’ and that was the presumed landing site of John Cabot, his son Sebastion and the 18 crew on “The Matthew” in 1497 (after they left Newfoundland’s coast).  The landing site is located outside the National Park beyond North Cape down a narrow, but paved, road to Sugar Loaf.   There is a Provincial Park located there and you can hike up the Sugar Loaf if you have very strong legs and a few hours.  We drove back to Ingonish Beach and checked into our snug little cabin for the night.

IMG_9743 IMG_9746 IMG_9749 IMG_9752 IMG_9755 IMG_9759 IMG_9760 IMG_9751  The Sugar LoafIMG_9763  An old cannon in a yard

2014 Sep 11 – Day 84 – Placentia, NL to ferry to Nova Scotia

We awoke to our fourth consecutive day of sunshine.  The ferry terminal is only about 10 km from Placentia and we didn’t have to be there until 3 pm.  When we drove down the Cape Shore to Cape St. Mary’s the other day we skipped a short detour into Cataracts Provincial Park (about 5 km west of Colinet), deciding it would give us something to do today until we had to be at the terminal.

We left Placentia after a really nice breakfast at Phil’s café and some great conversations with our fellow diners.  One fellow and his wife were taking his mother out for breakfast for her birthday (she had come over from St. John’s to visit them in Placentia).  He asked where we were from and I said BC.  “Where in BC?” he inquired.  “Salmon Arm.”  “Do you know Nel Peach?” he shot back immediately.  “Yes, I do.  We are Rottweiler buddies.  She and her husband adopt old Rotties from the SPCA and give them lots of love and care for their final years.  She is a marvelous lady.”  “Yes, she is.  I have been involved with the Canadian Diabetes Association for years and that is how I know Nel.”  Nel is a tireless worker and fund raiser for the Diabetes Assoc.  What a small world! I will call her when I get home and tell her we met her friend Jerry from Placentia.

Route 91 is a straight drive from Placentia across to Colinet at the beginning of the Cape Shore route we did yesterday to see the Gannets.  We needed to go about 35km to get to the park.  What we didn’t know was that 5 km out of Placentia the road turned to gravel.  Again!  And it stayed gravel –with the required gigantic pot holes and washboard – almost all the way to Colinet; about 5 km past the park we wanted to go to.

I was getting a bit concerned that when we got to Cataracts Park we would have to drive along another long gravel road to see the deep gorge and waterfall that we were wanting to see because nowhere around us were there hills or a significant rise in the land.  After an hour of bumping along at 15 kph we came to a bridge and John noticed a pull-out area at the same time I noticed a chain link fence and boardwalk going off into the trees.  No signs, no indication at all that here was something worth seeing.  We walked into the middle of the viewing platform and literally one step forward was a drop of well over 100’.  Fabulous waterfall to the bottom!  Amazing.  A huge deep cut in the middle of rolling bushland. We walked the boardwalk and down all the steep steps, across the foot bridge at the bottom (which was not actually the bottom of the chasm; but was the lowest part of the walkway) and up the steps on the other side.  Gorgeous gorge.  Almost made the gravel drive worth it.

IMG_9509 IMG_9510 IMG_9514 IMG_9515 IMG_9520We had already decided we weren’t going back along that road.  The only alternatives were to go up Route 81 from Colinet to the TCHwy and that wasn’t happening either after driving the rock course on that road yesterday.  That left option three:  Drive 14 km past Colinet and connect with Route 90 that we went down when we did the Irish Loop around Trepassey, then go 23 km up to the TCH and 30 km west to the turn-off to Route 100 and 38 km down again to Argentia – a 100+ km drive.  We had the time so that is what we did.

I noticed that on the ‘Welcome to Colinet’ sign there was a photo of a wide waterfall flowing under a bridge and sure enough right beside the road again was a path to steps to view the falls.  We also walked across what was a previous road bridge over the middle of the falls to see it from that angle.  There is a fish ladder there as well.  That second falls tipped the scale in favor of the drive on the gravel being worth it.  Not sure Poppy would agree though.IMG_9525 IMG_9529 IMG_9531 IMG_9532Also overheard at breakfast was the information that even though Castle Hill Historic Site was closed for the season you could walk up the driveway and see the view from the old fortifications on the hill.  We got back to Argentia at 1:30 and did just that.  Trust me, no one was going to sneak up on the French when they could see for miles in all directions.  After we wandered around up there for a while we walked back down had our sandwich lunch out of the back of Poppy and drove to the ferry terminal – arriving about 2:45.  Perfect.

IMG_9567 IMG_9570 IMG_9571 IMG_9568 IMG_9573 IMG_9577The ferry began boarding at 3 and left the terminal at 5.  This is a 15+ hour overnight trip so we booked a cabin.  I was not going to sit up in a chair in a lounge full of other people all night long and then drive the Cabot Trail tomorrow.

We climbed from car deck 3 to 5 then took the elevator to 10 where our cabin was located.  There are only 6 guest cabins on this deck; all the rest of the cabins are for the crew. There are cabins on decks 6 (not too many), all of deck 8 and over ½ of deck 9  – a lot of these cabins have drop down berth beds.  Our cabin was bigger than our deluxe veranda suite on the world cruise!

IMG_9592 IMG_9591 IMG_9593After we dropped off our stuff we went down to the main public area on deck 7.  Again – cruise ship.  There is a large guest services counter, a casino (slots), a games room/library, a couple of shops, two bars, a hot dog snack counter, a buffet restaurant and an a la carte restaurant (the steak was yummy).  This is the fanciest ferry I have ever seen.

IMG_9596 IMG_9600 IMG_9602 IMG_9604 IMG_9606 IMG_9624 IMG_9626Right now it is only making the run twice a week instead of every other day as it does all summer.  Next week the schedule drops to once a week until Sept 25 when it is berthed for the winter unless needed on the Port aux Basque run if one of their boats has some trouble and can’t go.

IMG_9595 IMG_9587John T.  has his very own rust-bucket freigher.

IMG_9611 IMG_9616 IMG_9621The sky is slightly cloudy, the seas are slightly choppy but I think there will be good sailing tonight.  There is no internet on board (no need to have satellites pointing at wide expanses of open water. We are used to that on the cruise ships) so this will have to get posted sometime on the other side.   Good night all – smooth sailing to you.

2014 Sep 10 – Day 83 – St. John’s, NL to Placentia, NL

We left St. John’s in the third day of sunshine in a row – a Newfoundland record since we arrived.  We connected up with Highway 1 WEST – it was actually a bit strange to go west; we have been going east for so long.  Our plan for the day was to drive the Cape Shore and loop around to Plancentia.  Our ferry ride back to Nova Scotia leaves tomorrow afternoon from Argentia, just a couple of km further up the road from Placentia.

Once we left the TCH and headed down route 81 we were back in the same flat grassland we saw on the Irish Loop to Trepassey.  We were happily enjoying the view of the little lakes, with the grass and brush contrasting with the beautiful blue sky and, suddenly, the pavement ended.

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IMG_9380No indication on our road map that part of the road was gravel.  The sign said gravel for 8.5 km.  Well, it was pretty smooth gravel; compared to the enormous potholes and chewed up pavement we usually drive on the road was actually not too bad.  Then…..we arrived at a construction zone and we were no longer driving on gravel we were navigating a crushed rock course.  My goodness. Newfoundland wins the prize for the worst roads in Canada, hands down after today.  I kept waiting for one of poor Poppy’s tires to blow.  Needless to say that 2 km was taken very slowly!

IMG_9370 IMG_9372 IMG_9374We arrived at the bottom of the spit, drove through the little town of Branch and down the side road to Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve – the most accesible seabird colony in North America.  A wide variety of birds nest here in the spring but now there are only the Northern Gannets left.  The young are expected to begin flying any day now and by the middle of October all the birds will be gone.

IMG_9382 IMG_9385 IMG_9387 IMG_9391 IMG_9393 IMG_9396 IMG_9395A 1.4 km trail along the cliff top leads you to Bird Rock, a 100-meter high (328 ft) sandstone bank where the birds congregate by the thousands.  The noise was incredible and it wasn’t breeding or nesting season with all the other birds around to make it worse.  So very, very cool to be about 50′ away from a bird colony and at the same level.  The space between you and them is a long sheer drop so you don’t want to go near the edge.

IMG_9402 IMG_9404 IMG_9406 IMG_9416 IMG_9419 IMG_9423  Just in case…IMG_9424 IMG_9428 IMG_9431 IMG_9441 IMG_9453 IMG_9454 IMG_9459 IMG_9461



Do you see the two young ones?IMG_9465 IMG_9468 IMG_9470 IMG_9475 IMG_9480 IMG_9481 IMG_9483After we finished photographing the gannets we headed up the north side of the spit, past the purple-based cliffs near Gooseberry Cove.  I wanted to get into Placentia early enough to go to the National Historic Site of Castle Hill, the massive 17th century French fortification guarding their fishing community.  Today was the last day of the season it would be open; until 6 pm the brand new 2014 Newfoundland Tourist Guide informed me.  But….I guess no one informed Parks Canada because the gate was closed and locked.  Missed another one!  Oh well.  Life goes on.

IMG_9501 IMG_9503We turned around, drove back to Placentia and checked in to our hotel.  Our overnight ferry ride back to the mainland leaves Argentia at 5 pm tomorrow afternoon, but we have to be there at 3.  We plan to drive back on Route 91 to see the gorge and waterfall at Cataracts Provincail Park in the morning.  The ferry ride is 15 hours (or more if rough water slows the crossing).  We are due to arrive in North Sydney, NS about 9:45 am September 12.  From there we drive the Cabot Trail of Cape Breton – hopefully we will be blessed with another nice day.

2014 Sep 9 – Day 82 – St. John’s, NL

A lovely sunny day greeted us upon opening the curtains this morning.  We had some sightseeing in St. John’s planned; just a couple of things, and then intended to go up the coast and over to Bell Island.  Some matters at home needed to be taken care of so we had a bit later start than planned and we didn’t do the St. John’s things.  This doesn’t bother us any.  We are very fexilbe on our plans when we travel and we know, in this instance, we will be back in St. John’s for a full day next year and can pick up those couple of things easily.

We left St. John’s about 1 pm and drove up to Pouch Cove where there was a storyboard about a dramatic rescue by the local residents when a ship got caught in a violent storm and sunk.   The Captain had told people to jump onto the rocks when the ship came close and those that did so survived.  All others perished.  A very courageous man was lowered by rope to the ledges.  He brought along another rope that was tied around a survivor and other men, who had stationed themselves at various points up the cliff pulled the survivors up, one at a time, to safety,  It was quite a story.


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We turned the corner at the tip of the peninsula and drove down the northern Conception Bay side to Bulaine and Portugal Cove.

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At Portugal Cove we were just in time to catch the ferry to Bell Island, which was an iron ore mining community. Between 1895 and 1966 more than 78 million tons of ore were shipped out of the mine.  It is estimated that the area contains 3.5 billion tons of ore.  There is a mining museum where you can go 500 feet down into the mine.  Since we went on a coal mine tour in Glace Bay we didn’t plan to do another mine tour on Bell Island.

The draw for me was the cliffs.  The community of Wabana and surrounding areas are all atop very, very high, very, very sheer cliffs. I was hoping to view some of them as we drove around. My map  shows a single road encircling the small island so after we exited the ferry (the crossing takes about 20 minutes and today the bay water was as smooth as glass.  Nice blue glass at that) we drove up the steep hill to make a counter-clockwise loop around the island.

IMG_9329 IMG_9330 IMG_9328 IMG_9331 IMG_9335 IMG_9337 IMG_9338 IMG_9340 IMG_9342 IMG_9343 IMG_9344Well. the map lied. There are roads all over the place on that island. We zig zagged here and there.  Never did find the ‘Grebe’s Nest’ on the north side where the birds nest on the cliffs and caves.  We found one of the advertised giant murals depicting the island’s history – the portrait of a miner.  We found the memorial to the Seamen who died off the coast of Lance Bay on Bell Island after being attacked by German U-Boats (the German’s wanted to interrupt the shipments of ore to the allied factories).  Actually Lance Bay is the only place in North America to suffer a direct hit from a German torpedo in WWII.

IMG_9354 IMG_9352 IMG_9353 IMG_9348  I met some friendsIMG_9358 IMG_9357And back at the ferry terminal I saw the memorial to those lost in a ferry disaster in 1942 when two small ferries collided just off-shore and 22 people died – all the passangers of one of the ferries.  The only views of the cliffs were from the ferry as we arrived and departed.

IMG_9362 IMG_9364Still, it was a lovely sunny day.  The temperature was warm.  Almost warm enough for a top down day but we didn’t bother.  Tomorrow we leave St. John’s and drive around the peninsula to Placentia for the night before we catch the over-night ferry from Argentia to Sydney, NS.  That will mean farewell to Newfoundland.


2014 Sep 8 – Day 81 – St. John’s, NL

Today was a sightseeing day in St. John’s.  I have a full page list of things to see here so we probably won’t get to them all.  Since our ship stops in St. John’s on the cruise next August we figure we have a second chance to catch at least some of the missed things.

First on the list is the second-to-last Legislative Assembly Building for Canada’s Provinces – except Toronto, which we skipped on purpose (the city entirely, not the building).  We have been to both the BC and AB Legislative Buildings before this trip.  We intend to go to Fredrickton, NB as we begin our trip westward.  It will be the last except I will have to look into the official governing buildings of the Territories to complete the set some day.


Getting new windows and other upgrades under the tarp.IMG_9205 IMG_9195The book on this table lists the names of those from Newfoundland who died in WWI and WWII.  There are identical books in Ottawa and France and there is a schedule that keeps all the pages turned in all three books at the same time.  11 am every third day, except for days of major battles when the pages are turned every 5th day.      IMG_9211We were given a tour by a fellow who works on the fifth floor and whose real job is recording the proceedings but who fills in on tour duty when needed.  We were taken all over the place and since there was only John and me and our guide Jeff we were able to ask all kinds of questions and chat away. It was quite different to be in a building that wasn’t built in the late 1800’s but opened for business in 1960.

When the Confederation Building was completed all the other provinces in Canada gifted Newfoundland with articles they would use in their Assembly Rooms.  Manitoba gave them a clock, other provinces gave them the House Speaker’s chair, the center table, the gavel (PEI), other chairs, etc.  BC gave them the Mace.  Newfoundland had an official mace that the British authorities gave the then-Dominion in 1833.  After they received a new one from BC in 1960 the old one was placed in storage.  It was re-discovered in the late 1990’s and refurbished.

IMG_9206Next we drove down to Government House, home of the Lieutenant Governor in the hope we could go on a tour, but it only opens for large pre-arranged groups.  We had a nice visit with the security guard (ex-RCMP fellow who reminded me strongly of our friend Don Cann, also ex-RCMP).  He told us we could just leave Poppy in the parking lot if we wanted to walk up Military Road to see the various historic buildings.  Perfect!IMG_9220 IMG_9222

This is what it looks like behind the trees.

The number two thing I really wanted to see was Commisariat House; the home of the Assistant Commisary General of the British Military stationed in St. John’s in the 1800’s.  The house was closed. Rats.  (It is now on the list to see next August on the cruise).

The Corp of Royal Engineers built the house in 1818 and it was the residence of the officer in charge of the pay, supplies and services required by the British military in St. John’s from 1821-1870.  After that it was used as a Rectory for St. Thomas Anglican (The Old Garrison) Church until 1969 (except from 1918-1921 when it was used as a nursing home and hospital).  I really hope we can tour it next year because there would be some very interesting stories I think.

IMG_9227 IMG_9225We also wanted to tour The Old Garrison Church, but it too was closed.

IMG_9228As was Colonial House, the former House of Assembly in St. John’s from 1850-1960.   Colonial House is undergoing a major interior and exterior renovation and is slated to be open next year as a museum.  Another addition to next year’s cruise stop itinerary.IMG_9233Basilica Cathedral Church of St. John the Baptist was open.  The cornerstone was laid in 1841 and the first mass was celebrated in 1850 even though the building was not completed until 1855.  It is a very large church with an ornate ceiling, lovely stained glass windows and marble floor.IMG_9241 IMG_9248 IMG_9254Our last sightseeing of the day was The Rooms; the beautiful new combination museum, art gallery and provincial archives.  We spent about 2 hours wandering around before walking back to Government House to collect Poppy and head back to the hotel for dinner and the night.

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IMG_9258  Atlantic PuffinsIMG_9266 IMG_9268 IMG_9270

Of course, the province is Newfoundland and Labrador so some of these arctic critters are prevalant in the Labrador part more than the Newfoundland part.  Although polar bears wander across the ice and into St. Anthony and other towns some times.

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The extinct Newfoundland Wolf.IMG_9277

A Newfoundland Black Bear.

This a display of Dorset Eskimos cutting soapstone out of the quarry at Fleur de Lys to make a pot.  We went there and I posted a photo of this same wall. IMG_9265There was also a short animated film about the 1914 Sealer’s disaster of the S.S. Newfoundland.  We visited the memorial at Elliston when we were up at Bonavista.   I love it when we come across things we have seen or read about somewhere else.

Several friends of ours who have been to Newfoundland told me that if I liked the colorful houses in Lunenburg and Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia I would love Newfoundland.  Until today that did not happen.  Most if the houses we have seen have been covered in vinyl siding in very similar taupe, tan, sand, sage, beige, white we get at home.  There are some lovely colors, like the pretty coral one I posted a few days ago, but not building beside building beside building.  Until today in St. John’s.  This I like.

IMG_9237 IMG_9236 IMG_9239 IMG_9230 IMG_9229 IMG_9307 IMG_9309 IMG_9313 IMG_9310 IMG_9311We have more things on the list for tomorrow.  And the weather is supposed to be nice again.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed.  It sure was nice today.

Oh.  One more thing.  In The Rooms we came across a Smith Bit in a display about Newfoundland’s oil industry.  Our son worked for Smith in Houston for 2 years and Dubai for 6 years and is now in Oman.  The company was purchased by Schlumberger a couple of years ago but the Smith Bits are still one of their products.

IMG_9295   IMG_9296 IMG_9299

Is there anything wrong with this one Joseph? Do you need to do a failure report?

2014 Sep 7 – Day 80 – St. John’s, NL (Special Edition)

Today we are in our hotel room doing nothing. It is cloudy, cool, raining and windy outside and we are feeling lazy.

For those of you who have been following my blog since the beginning of our trip (Day 1 – June 20) you may remember that I located my maternal grandparents graves when we were in Winnipeg (Day 7 – June 26).  My grandfather’s marker in the military section had no date of birth on it because he had served in WWI in the British forces (Scotland) so his full records would not have been available in Canada (although it is a bit surprising that no one thought to ask Aunty Anne – the eldest at 16 or 17 – what year her father had been born.  Of course back in 1936 it probably didn’t occur to anyone to ask a child such a thing.  And the girls may even have returned to Scotland by the time the marker was made).

Also my grandmother’s grave did not even have a marker.  John and I ordered a marker for Grandma and asked the memorial firm to request permission from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to etch Grandpa’s year of birth on his marker (you cannot do anything to a military grave or marker without permission).

I have received photos of both of the markers now so I thought I would share them.

Young marker

******************************************************************************Speaking of cemeteries.  All over eastern Canada and the Maritime provinces the churches have cemeteries surrounding them for their members, many of the markers date back several hundred years.  And many churches here in Newfoundland have the same thing.  However cemeteries not located on church property ALSO are designated to a particular denomination and all are fenced.  Either page wire or wood usually.  On the outskirts of Roddickton we passed cemeteries for every major Christian denomination; side by side, each fenced separate from the others.  (I didn’t take photos unfortunately). I will need to ask where you get buried if you don’t attend church or belong to a different religion.

IMG_8730 IMG_8622 IMG_8623 IMG_8624Notice too, that the signs above have been paid for by a congregation member just like they donated the communion set or the baptismal font or a stained glass window.  This is a new one to me but obviously it is common practice.

We have been in Newfoundland since August 18 and I have noticed a few other things – other than cemeteries and the accent.  I love the way they turn T’s into D’s.  “How you goin’ dere?”  “Don’t go down dere, da road is turrible.”  As I mentioned in a previous blog we do hear a definite Celtic lilt.  The loop we did from  the TCHwy – after leaving Spaniard’s Bay – to Trepassey and up to St. John’s is called the Irish Loop.  At one time half of Newfoundland’s population was of Irish descent – they came here even before the great potato famine.  There are lots of Scots too.

If you drive the Trans-Canada Highway from Port aux Basque to St. John’s you will be on a nice wide road and freeway nearer the city.  The minute you digress north, south, east or west on a secondary or other road things change rapidly and drastically.  It is impossible to avoid the potholes, patches, bumps, dips, waves and worn edges.  Sections of bad roads will be many kilometers long with a short section of well-patched or smooth pavement.  Poor Poppy doesn’t know what to do sometimes.  You don’t have to go ‘off road’ to ‘off-road’ in Newfoundland.

IMG_8586 IMG_8591 IMG_8595 IMG_8597 IMG_8599 IMG_8600 IMG_8601 IMG_8895 IMG_8893 IMG_8894However the local folks tend to drive one of two ways: they either poke along several km/h below the limit (probably due to a bad experience with a pot hole at some point) or they fly like the wind – I mean 20-30km over the limit.  I can only assume the plan is to go so fast your tires and shocks don’t have time to notice the condition of the road they are driving on. I certainly would not want to hit some of the craters or washboard at 120 or 130 kmh!

But…they are polite drivers.  They will let you in or out of a driveway if there is a line of traffic.  They wave as they go by – although this may be due more to the uniqueness of Poppy than anything else.   Yesterday here in St. John’s we encountered a “Construction: right lane ends in 1 km” sign.  Now in BC all the drivers in the right lane would keep driving quickly in that lane until forced by the closed road to move to the left lane by inching in ahead of cars that are in the correct left lane.  Thus they get nearer the front of the line and can zoom ahead of everyone else at the end of the construction zone.  Not in Newfoundland.  As soon as drivers see the sign they move to the left lane – even though the right lane doesn’t end for a kilometer.  By the time we arrived at the closed lane we had a kilometer long line behind us and a vacant right lane beside us.  Everyone kept their place in the traffic flow to go through the closure area.  I was sincerely impressed!

One other thing that is distinct to this province is the stores.  Most of the little communities don’t even have stores.  You just drive to the nearest bigger place to get stuff.  The places with stores don’t have a ‘downtown.’  The different businesses are interspersed with the houses (many businesses are run from the house) stretching for quite a distance along the road.  Oftentimes there do not appear to be other streets in the little places.

Here in St. John’s the stores look like our stores at home and in the other provinces we have visited, but in Newfoundland most of the small community shops look like square box warehouses: no ‘design,’ no esthetic touches, with very few windows.

IMG_8634 IMG_8637 IMG_8641 IMG_8644 IMG_8645 IMG_8647 IMG_8648Now this makes sense to me in a place that has such harsh winters – windows loose a lot of heat after all.  And the Newfoundland people are hardy, practical folks and probably don’t see a need for fancying up a store.  Since I am a pragmatic, functional type I have no problem with this.  Many businesses, in my opinion, spend too much money on the appearance of things.  And at home, even though the store looks lovely more often than not you feel you are interrupting the staff if you want to ask something; assuming of course you can find the staff.  Not here.  In Newfoundland people greet you when you enter a restaurant or store, ask if they can help, show you where stuff is and thank you for coming as you leave.  They even take a few minutes to chat sometimes.  I really like Newfoundland and Newfoundlanders.

2014 Sep 6 – Day 79 – St. John’s, NL

Well, we have finally made it!  The most easterly point in Canada; in all of North America actually – Cape Spear – the location of the first lighthouse to be built along the Newfoundland coast in 1836.   A map shows the nearest landfalls after you step into the water here.  We have been to one of them so far.  That is Flores, The Azores, Portugal.  On our Voyage of the Vikings cruise next July we will make it to two more: Reykjanesviti, Iceland and Uummannarsuaq (Cape Farewell), Greenland.  That only leaves Tearaught Island off the coast of Ireland and Cabo de Roca, Portugal for us to get to. I’ll have to put the names on a list so I don’t forget.

IMG_9069 IMG_9073 IMG_9074  We made it!IMG_9075 IMG_9072The original lighthouse had the lightkeepers house built around the base of the light just like at Bonavista.  A new modern light was installed on the Cape in 1957.  There are trails all over the cliffs at Cape Spear.  We wandered up to both lighthouses and along the cliff face to a cove but didn’t venture to the paths on the rocks below.  It was very windy today; albeit a warm wind and I didn’t want to meet any of the rocks face to face.

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Some more of Parks Canadas nice red chairs.

IMG_9106IMG_9125 IMG_9128During WWII a joint USA/Canada defense agreement installed two disappearing guns atop Cape Spear.  There was a complete military base built into the rocks.  From below on the cliffs (so definitely from the water) the installation was invisible.

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This is what you see from below the battery.IMG_9081                                            Another nice cloud formation.

The only other place we visited today was Signal Hill.  We are supposed to get rain again in the next few days so we decided to do both of the ‘must see’ outdoor places today while the weather was still good.

Signal Hill has been an important defensive point at St. John’s since the  18th Century.  The harbour at St. John’s is considered a hidden harbour.  It has a very narrow entrance that is disguised by projecting 100′ cliffs.  The Queens’ Battery overlooking this narrow harbour entrance provided defense protection for over 100 years.

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Cabot Tower. Built between 1897-1900.

IMG_9150St. John’s harbour.  Notice the narrow entrance at the lower left.IMG_9151  Deadman’s PondIMG_9154  Cape Spear is the furthest cliff. You can just make out the lights.IMG_9169The entrance to St. John’s Harbour.

.IMG_9170 IMG_9171We thought the wind was blowing at Cape Spear, but at the top of Signal Hill we literally had to brace our feet to keep steady.  We have a few out-of-focus photos because we couldn’t keep the cameras steady.  John especially had trouble with the wind today because he has had to use his phone to take photos for a couple of weeks already.  He left his camera charger in a hotel room somewhere not long after we got to Newfoundland (none of the hotels he thought it might be in had found it).  He has had to wait until we arrived in St. John’s to buy a new generic one.  All the little towns here don’t have grocery stores or shops of any kind let alone a place to buy specialized camera equipment.IMG_9165

Just before you get to Signal Hill you pass the Geo Center where they have dug deep into the rocks and have a beautiful geology center.  We are thinking of going to check it out while we are here but haven’t decided what day.  But….the most important thing about the Geo Center – to me anyways – were the two life-size sculptures of Newfoundland’s dogs;  the Newfoundland and the Labrador Retriever.  Just in case we don’t get back here before leaving the city I insisted John stop so I could get my photo taken with the ‘dogs.’

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2014 Sep 5 – Day 78 – Trepassey, NL to St. John’s, NL

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.

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Renew is also home to many species of shore birds and harbour seals.  We even saw a couple of seals basking in the sun on the rocks.IMG_8914                                                  This is the ocean side

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Lord Baltimore’s ‘mansion’ house.IMG_8976




The cobblestone courtyard at the mansion house.IMG_8978 IMG_8993 IMG_8994

There was a 2 acre vegetable garden at Avalon.IMG_8996 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.

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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.’

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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!


2014 Sep 4 – Day 77 – Spaniard’s Bay, NL to Trepassey, NL

We spent last night at the Stonewall Inn, a B & B in Spaniard’s Bay.  Breakfast was served at 8:15, beginning with beautifully arranged mixed fruit, followed by scrambled eggs, sausages and toast.  Just as we were finishing the other couple staying at the B & B returned from seeing their granddaughter off to her first day of kindergarten. The B & B is run by Ian.  He  retired to Spaniard’s Bay after his wife died, thought he should have something to do and converted his house to a B & B for the summer season.  It has turned into a year-round business and he hasn’t had a holiday in 6 years.  His 98-year-old mother doesn’t like it when he is away so he figures he will travel later.  He sat down at the table with us all and we all had a great visit.  We didn’t get on the road until 10:30.

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We had thought of driving back up to Carbonear to walk the boardwalk around the pond but since we were late leaving we just went the 7 km to Harbour Grace.  Harbour Grace airfield was the take-off  or landing spot for many of the early trans-Atlantic flights, including Amelia Earhart’s solo flight in 1932 to become the first woman to do so.  She was also the first woman passanger to cross the Atlantic in an airplane the year before.

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Harbour Grace’s Water Street is a Heritage Street with lots of lovely big Victoria houses.  Also along Water Street is the museum which was the ‘fortress’ house of the pirate Phillip Eastman who made the town his base from 1610-1614.

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The town is also home to the oldest stone church in Newfoundland, St. Paul’s Anglican built in 1835.  We wandered around the cemetery for awhile.  Located there is the only known grave of an officer of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment who died at age 40 on July 17, 1799.


After we left Harbour Grace we drove down highway 60 to Cupid’s and the archaeolgical dig.  The first English settlement was established in Cupid’s in 1610 when John Guy and 48 colonists came to the New World.  The historians, from researching record,s were sure that Cupid’s was the location of the settlement but it wasn’t know exactly where until 1995.  There has been an ongoing dig here ever since and they find artifacts every day.

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They think this foundation was from a wharf building.  The water would have been to this level back then. All the road and shore outside the fence are man made since the settlement.

We were going to go to the Legacy Center just up the road to see the artifacts and hear how they are cleaned and treated but there was a funeral at the church next door and all the Center’s parking spots were full as was both sides of the road for over 1/4 mile in each direction. It was getting late we had one more stop before we began our drive to Trepassey so we decided to get moving.

There is a National Historic Site at the next town of Brigus – home of a famous seafaring captain who sailed with Admiral Peary to the North Pole.  We drove all over the place looking for it; found a nice little garden and a lovely family park, but not Hawthorne Cottage until we were on our way out of town.  And it was closed for the season!

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After we left Brigus we drove down Highway 90 to the southern tip of the Avalon Peninsula to Trepassey.  The drive was through typical rocky shrub forest interspersed with many little ponds and lakes until we drove across a causeway at the bottom.  Suddenly we were in a whole new place – we were in Saskatchewan or Manitoba.  Flat, flat, flat.  No trees, just grass and bushes as far as the eye could see.  It was quite surreal!  The coastline and the bays were lovely in the late afternoon sunlight.

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We arrived at the Northwest B & B in Trepassey at  quarter to 6, went for dinner and then came back to check our photos (and for me to write my blog) and settle in for the night.

John and I have talked about the Celtic lilt we hear in the Newfoundland accent and I mentioned it to him again after speaking to our hostess for a few minutes.  “She sounds so Irish,” I said.  Well, it turns out she is Irish!  But we still hear that lovely lilt in the way the locals speak.