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Thursday, 26 May 2016

A Change in Plans

Hi all - I decided against doing the blog as I was having trouble changing the time stamp on the entries and it seems it will take a lot more time than I want to spend on this trip. So - I have been posting pics on Facebook with descriptions.  We are loving the comments. Thanks to those who are following us there.  If you are not on Facebook, then sadly, you will not be able to see what we are up to and where we are.    :(

Sunday, 8 May 2016

A new adventure in the making



We are only a few days away from the start of a trip we have dreamed about doing for years. Packing has begun. House sitting and lawn care have been arranged. Hotels are booked. Maps, itinerary and directions have all been printed. We are both quite excited to take this trip in our new SUV.  
Stay tuned for more on our adventures.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Farewell Newfoundland

Our last view of Newfoundland from the ferry
We left the island today and I have to admit, at one point, I was sitting in the lounge listening to Dave and Judy (two Newfoundlanders) sing jolly songs, the sun was glistening on the water and the porpoises were playing in the waves in front of our ferry – and I got a little choked up.  I am not sure what we expected to see when we got to Newfoundland, but we didn’t expect what we saw! It is a beautiful place with awe inspring scenery around every corner and over every hill – as I said in yesterday’s post.


Wild flowers are abundant and they changed from week to week and from one side of the island to the other. When we first arrived, we saw loads of pink, purple and cream coloured lupins. Then we saw bright yellow buttercups, fields of white daisies and purple wild iris. As we moved west, the roads were lined with pink clover, Queen Anne’s Lace,  wild roses, sumac in bloom, blue bells and now fields of pink phlox. We spotted many tree tops that looked like whale tales – they had that very distinctive V of the humpback whale. 

Whale Tales on the tree tops
Oh yes, and then there are the “mother-in-law” doors.  We had commented for weeks about the number of homes we saw with a front door half way up a house– and no steps leading to it. Well it turns out that is the door your mother-in-law is supposed to use to enter your home, if you don’t like her, and if she does get in through the back or side door, you can always throw her out the front door. Or, so the book of Newfoundland language says.

Mother-in-law Door
I have too many photos to include them all in the blog, so plan to create an on-line photo album some time soon. I will post the link as a separate blog entry.

Tonight we attended a "kitchen party" at the campground. There was a sign that announced music at in the barn at 7:15 tonight. We went over about 7:30 and only stayed about an hour. The barn is really nicely appointed for a party. The old wide plank boards were painted a chocolate brown; the interior part of the roof and rafters, a bright yellow and the low walls were a rich cranberry colour. The room was filled with comfortable chairs, square tables, a couple of large rocking chairs, and some decorations, like wooden wheels, and milk cans, a Texas star etc. 


A decorated lawn - we saw many
Well, the party was a geriatric kitchen party with music played by 3 old guys, one on a keyboard, one on guitar and one on the violin. It could have been fun, but the music was music of our parents generation, not ours - there was nothing faster than waltz music and the first song I heard them playing was Edelweiss - that should have given us a clue. They didn't play any jigs, fiddle or lively music. It was all old style VERY easy listening music. 

As we begin our travel back home tomorrow, an early night was welcome in any case. 


To the left are a few photos that I had to share.

Rugged Beauty along the Port au Port Peninsula









I take it back!



Oh my goodness – this park is lovely, but the black fly gnats are TERRIBLE. I have at least a half dozen bites on my neck, some on my arms and every place they have bit me, I end up with a huge red welt that lasts for days. I still have huge bumps from the bites I got on our first day here – and have just gotten 3 or 4 more bites tonight.


We were up early this morning as we decided to drive the French Ancestors Route along the Port au Port Peninsula (round trip ~ 6 ½ hours and 400 km according to Google maps). We left the campground a little before 8 a.m., drove for an hour east on the TransCanada before getting off at at Route 461 to St. George’s.

Our drive took us along route 490 to Stephenville, where we switch over  to Route 460 to Abrahams Cove. From there, we headed north on Route 463 to Lourdes. We stopped at the Lourdes Grotto (in front of the local Roman Catholic Church).


Bolutte du Cap Park
From Lourdes we followed the coastline (who would have thought the coast ran along the top of the mountains here?) to Cape St. George. We had our picnic lunch at Bolutte du Cap Park. This was a lovely little spot with picnic tables overlooking the ocean. We kept watching a fellow tending to a fire in a brick building and wondered what he was doing.  As we were leaving the park, we saw the sign for a  “bread oven” and realized he was baking bread. Unfortunately, we did not see any whales today – and we really had hoped to as it is our last full day touring here and today we have the camera with the big zoom lens.  Oh well, those memories will have to stay ingrained in our minds.  


After leaving Cape St. George, we headed east along route 460 back to Stephenville and from there took route 490 back to the Trans Canada to Codroy Valley RV Park near Doyles.

After returning to the park, we filled our fresh water tank, dumped our holding tanks, pulled our motor home ahead in our site and hooked up our car. After dinner, we pulled in 2 of our 3 slides in anticipation of an early departure tomorrow.

We both have to say, the views here are spectacular. Around every corner and over every rise, we never know what fantastic sight we are going to see – and the rugged beauty of this province continues to impress us.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Rose Blanche - possibly the last granite lighthouse in NA



We got up around 8 AM. I did not have a good night’s sleep as those bites on my neck were itchy and bothered me all night long. First thing I did when I got out of bed this morning was look or the anti-itch cream, to see if it would give me some relief.

Table Mountains
We had breakfast and left around 10: AM for Port Aux Basques to see how long the drive would take on Saturday and where to go for the ferry terminal. The drive took about 25-30minutes and the Trans Canada Hiway ends at the ferry – so we can’t possibly take a wrong turn. The drive was, once again, very picturesque, passing the Table Mountains.


I have included lots of photos today, because I took lots and just had to share more than usual.

Driving to Rose Blanche

A waterfall on our way to Rose Blanche Lighthouse
A view of the town of Rose Blanche from the lighthouse

A view of the Atlantic from the Rose Blanch Lighthouse

Walking up to the lighthouse
Our destination today was Rose Blanche - originally called Roche Blanche for the white stones seen by French sailors from the sea. At the point of this town, overlooking the Cabot Strait, stands what may be the only restored  granite lighthouse in Atlantic Canada. It was originally built in 1873 and was named after the engineers, who were the father and uncle of Robert Louis Stevenson.  There were 6 keeps over the approximately 70 years of the lighthouse’s existence.

After it was abandoned, the building fell into ruins. Reconstruction began in 1996 and was completed and furnished with 19th century reproduced furniture and local antiques. On the main floor was a kitchen/eating area with a pot bellied stove, a pantry and an office/den. On the second floor were three bedrooms, which were surprisingly spacious. The lighthouse also houses stone steps within the tower walls, which kept the tower from collapsing after it was abandoned.

After our tour of the lighthouse, we stopped in the village of Rose Blanche for lunch at the Fisherman’s Friend restaurant. 

From here we drove to Burnt Islands, a typical fishing village and then to Isle au Morts. Almost every house we passed was decorated with plastic triangular flag banners. We stopped a local to ask why and were told it is a  “welcome home” event, that lasts about a week and this was the week. It was inspiring to see so many townspeople involved in this event. This town is also the burial place of Newfoundland heroine – Ann Harvey – who in 1828 saved 168 passengers and crew of the British brig Despatch. The ship was carrying carried 200 Irish immigrants and crew and became shipwrecked on the rocks of Isles aux Morts during a violent storm. She, her father George, 12 year old brother and Newfoundland dog spent 3 days rescuing the survivors. George and Ann, by then 27, came to the rescue a second time in 1838 when the Scottish merchant ship Rankin was shipwrecked. The Harveys rescued all 32 crew members.





Before returning to our campground, we stopped for gas, groceries and a driving tour of Port Aux Basques Today’s drive was once again breathtakingly beautiful and much of it was along the shore line.
Rose Blanche lighthouse

A view from the granite lighthouse in Rose Blanche
Office in Rose Blanche lighthouse

Dining Area in Rose Blanche Lighthouse
Kitchen in the Rose Blanche lighthouse

A bedroom in the rose Blanche Lighthouse
A bedroom in the Rose Blanche lighthouse

A view from our restaurant in Rose Blanche
Driving the streets of Port-aux Basques

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

If only we had Known


We left Gateway to the North RV Park this morning close to 10 a.m. and continued our journey west. Google maps told us it was going to be a 3 ½ hour drive to our destination, so I packed lunch for us. Our Garmin GPS told us we would arrive in 2 ½ hours and everyone we spoke to said it was definitely going to take us 3 1/2 to 4 hours. We came to a complete full stop twice for road construction and in spite of that arrived a few minutes before 1 p.m. 









 As we approached the area, we saw several signs for wind warnings. This area can be prone to high winds, so we will drive carefully from here to the ferry terminal when we leave on Saturday. Today, it was fine and I am keeping my fingers crossed and saying a few prayers that it will be fine on Saturday too.

The park is beautiful – probably the nicest park we have ever stayed in anywhere in Canada. A 10 acre portion of the property was originally owned by the Downey Family, local residents. They had a cottage on this property and in 1965, were visited by the M.H.A. Hon. W.J. Keough and the subject of a Provincial Park arose.  Mr. Bert Downey asked how soon they could see such a facility and when Mr. Keough told him land was a problem, Mr Downey offered to donate 10 acres of his property.  On March 30th, 1966, the Newfoundland Government paid $1.00 to Mr. Downey, and the property was developed and maintained as a Provincial Park.

The park continued to be developed and expanded until Spring 1997 when, the Newfoundland government made a decision to privatize a number of Provincial Parks. At this time, an agreement was made with Mr. Downey and his family that due to the circumstances surrounding the origin of this park, he and his family were given the opportunity to enter the privatization process. The park is now operated by Dennis and Alice (Downey) Keeping.


 
The area is absolutely stunning. I only we had known how lovely it is and how nice the park is, we would have come here earlier and stayed fewer days in Deer Lake. Our site is long, gravel and level. It is a back-in and on our door side is a huge grassy area with a picnic table and firepit. The park provides free firewood, free good wi-fi, a payphone a craft shop, bathroom and shower facilities and a Laundromat with 3 washers and 3 dryers. The park backs onto the Condroy River, which is lovely and clean and much bigger than we expected.
 
 
After arriving at the park, we went for a drive to the Anguille Lighthouse. I continue to be in awe at the flowers that grow wild here – fields of them everywhere. We once again enjoyed the beauty of this province with mountains on one side and water on the other.

We considered sitting outside and making a fire tonight, but decided to stay in and watch Republic of Doyle (our new favourite show, filmed in Newfoundland). This was just as well as I have 5 pretty bad bites on my neck from the black flies here. They are teeny tiny things, but their bite draws blood and I seem to be having a bad reaction to the bites, which swell up to the size of a quarter and itch like crazy.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Everybody needs a Catch up Day


We decided to spend the day today preparing for our travel day tomorrow, vacuuming, dusting, sweeping, cooking, baking cookies, making a lunch and picking up some last minute grocery items.

We went to the local market to buy more fresh cream, butter, black current jelly, and partridge berry jam. We also bought a package of Oktoberfest and Honey Garlic sausage as well as a large bag of turnip greens. We have never tried turnip greens, but look forward to trying them tomorrow with a bag of cod cheeks we picked up at Colemans.

We were invited to sit around the campfire tonight with our neighbours. One couple is from Victoria – the other couple from Port Hope. We didn’t get to bed again until 11 p.m.

Monday, 1 August 2011

There’s snow in them there hills!


Driving to Trout River, NL

Packed a picnic lunch and left the campground about 11 a.m. for a drive to Trout River (in Gros Morne National Park). This ended up being a surprisingly beautiful drive. 

A view of Woody Point
We drove through a number of small villages, the most picturesque and lively of all of them was Woody Point, on Bonne Bay. It is from here that boat tours go out to tour the bay and give the passengers a view of Newfoundland from the water. We opted not to take one of these as we will get that view when we are on the ferry out of Port-aux Basques in 5 days.

It was about 12:45 p.m. when we arrived at the Seaside Restaurant in Trout River, touted for having the very best seafood. We decided to save our picnic lunch for another day and sample the fare at this place. We both decided to have a bowl of Mama’s seafood chowder and a dinner roll. I went to the ladies room and when I returned, there before me, sat a good size portion of a very thick chowder and a large fresh cloverleaf dinner roll. I have to admit it tasted good, but not anywhere as rich, and creamy tasting as the cod chowder we had at the cafĂ© in Brigus or the seafood chowder we had at Squid Jiggers.

A water lily at the Discovery Centre
After leaving here, we dropped our speed to about 70 kph and just enjoyed the views.  We stopped at the Discovery Centre and asked the salesclerk at the gift shop about the white stuff we keep seeing near the tops of the mountains. She confirmed that it is – SNOW! We were surprised – as it is August 1st and these mountains aren’t really that high. It turns out these spots have a northern exposure and even though the sun is shining on them today, it isn’t unusual to have snow until now.



At one point, there were green mountains on one side of the road and totally brown mountains on the other side – almost totally devoid of any vegetation. Marcel described it as “Arizona meets Northern Ontario”.  It was a fascinating view and one like I have never seen before.

  


Tablelands 
These are called the Table Mountains and it is obvious why.

It was still only mid afternoon and I had read about a place near here called Big Falls where one can see the salmon jumping at this time of year. We decided to take the 20km drive along a gravel road on Route 422 to that site. When we arrived at the gate to Sir Richard Squires Memorial Provincial Park, the young lad there told us the admission was $5, but he was going to supper, so we were getting in free. He directed us to the parking lot. From there we found a (welcome) bathroom, and the path to Big Falls. We walked a short distance through the woods, towards the sound of rushing water.  Good thing we decided to hit the bathrooms first, or I really would have been in agony.


As we approached the first landing, I didn’t see anything and was disappointed. Then Marcel pointed to the falls and said – “look Jenne”.  And sure enough, there they were, salmon trying to jump the falls. We took photos. Unfortunately, not very many turned out, as it seemed we clicked the shutter just after they jumped. They are quick little devils. So, we have lots of the Falls and not many with salmon, but we did get a couple to remind us we saw the fish jumping. As we were about to leave, we noticed a very long staircase leading upwards and it looked like it may take us back to the parking lot. We decided to take it and the view from the top was spectacular. We could see 2 or 3 jumping at a time.  In the few minutes we were there, we did not count, but figured we must have seen at least 50. The park attendant told us, he counted 100 in 2 minutes that morning.


An information sign at the site said the following:

During the spring, summer and autumn, adult Atlantic salmon return to the rivers of their birth. In the fall, after the female selects a suitable gravel area and scoops out a depression known as a redd, the eggs are laid. The small pea-sized egg grows into an alevin, which then becomes a fry, a parr, a smolt, and eventually an adult salmon. A single, large female salmon will lay approximately 7500 eggs each year. Only 650 of these eggs will live to reach the alevin stage. Of the 650 alevins, 200 will survive to become part, 50 will reach the smolt stage, and only 4 will endure to adulthood.  Usually under 10 percent of salmon will survive their first spawning to return and spawn again.

The eggs are about 5 mm in diameter and remain in the river gravel throughout the winter. By spring, the eyes of the embryo are well developed and are the most obvious feature of the egg.  The egg hatches in April or May and releases the alevin, which stays hidden in the river gravel, where it grows to about 2.5 cm in length. The fish then develops through the fry stage, where it’s stripes begin to form along its side. It is then referred to as a parr. In Newfoundland the parr usually spends three years in the river, feeding on freshwater insects. In the fall of the third year, the parr’s stripes disappear, and the parr gradually turns into a silver smolt. In the spring schools of smolt move downstream and out to sea.

After its time in the ocean, the adult salmon returns to the river in which it was born. Often, the salmon must conquer large obstacles in the course of its journey, such as rapids and challenging waterfalls. The run starts in the spring and continues throughout the summer.

Before returning to our campground, we stopped at the local market we found a couple of days earlier to pick up more jams, jellies, fresh cream and butter. They were sold out of the Black Currant jelly and butter. We were told they will be getting more tomorrow, so will return for those items and pick up some fresh cream then.

After dinner tonight we spent the evening sitting outside with a couple we met from Port Hope, Brian and Debbie. It was a lovely warm evening. The bugs were bad, but Brian and Deb had Thermacell Insect Repellant Appliances that kept them away. These are available at Canadian Tire and will definitely look for them. Each appliance covers a 15'x15' area - perfect for sitting outside on the patio.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Corner Brook was a total surprise

We left the park a little before noon and drove into Deer Lake to look for Colemans – to check out the seafood, as the locals tell us that is the place to buy it here. We found the BMO across the street from Colemans, so made a mental note for another day, just in case we need it. From here, we set out for Corner Brook, which is about a 30 minute drive west.  

 I am not sure what we expected, but we certainly did not expect what we found. Oh my goodness – the hills are unbelievable. I can’t believe how long and high these mountain roads are. We are definitely in the Long Range Mountains. Marble Mountain is a ski resort and the ski hills could be seen for miles before arriving at them.



Can’t imagine what the drive there will be like with the motorhome. Marcel has suggested when the day comes that I go in the back or put my sleep mask on as it truly is scary in the car and I am concerned about how I will handle these long climbs in our motor home.

There was a Walmart just down the road from the exit we took into Corner Brook. We decided to stop and look for a new pair of gummies for Marcel and bottled water for me. The water here has so much iron in it, even our ice cubes have a yellowish brown tinge.

A Viking ship in Lark Harbour
It was lunch time and as we drove around looking for a place to stop for lunch, we found a Sobey’s. We went in to get a sandwich to take out and eat as we went touring. A bonus was they had fresh cod on sale this week, so we bought some for dinner tonight and put it in our plug in cooler.  From here, we drove to Lark Harbour. This was a very scenic drive through the mountains and along the shore – breathtakingly beautiful scenery. 


Along this route is a place called “Halfway Point” and it really is the halfway point on this road. We passed “Blow me Down” provincial park. We just love the names of the places here (names like Witless Bay, Dildo, Come By Chance and Blow me Down.) 

At one 
point along this road, Marcel thought he saw a waterfall high up on a cliff on our left. To me, it looked like a metal structure. We pulled over in the parking lot for a walking trail and took out the binoculars. It was in fact, a waterfall. 


Corner Brook Pulp and Paper
We took the high road out of Corner Brook on our excursion and the low road coming back in on our way home. On the latter road, we drove by Corner Brook Pulp and Paper, which is a large mill located on the Humber River. What I noticed is that it did not have that distinctive smell of sulphur that remember from the Domtar Plant in Cornwall, ON


We didn’t get back to the park until after 5 p.m. I coated one pound of the fresh cod we bought today with flour, salt and pepper, made a herb and wild rice side dish and steamed broccoli.  I pan fried the fish in sizzling hot butter and it was absolutely delicious.

After dinner, Marcel sat outside – as it was still fairly warm. The high today was in the low 20s with a mix of sun and cloud. I sat inside and worked on the diary and blog again. We spent the rest of the evening watching the movie “You’ve got Mail” with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Good thing we haven’t seen the movie before – as we are still limited to 2 TV channels here. These are the times when I wish we had satellite TV; but as most of our travel is in the U.S., we usually have lots to choose from with our antenna or have cable TV.