So I've really got nothing fun to tell you. Work today and tomorrow, hopefully find a laundromat somewhere close by and be ready for some more exploring on Saturday. The ferry from Argentia only departs twice a week, so I have to hang out a couple of extra days for it. Oh darn......
Here's an updated map of what I have seen of Newfoundland so far!
It is the nature of the universe to be in balance, which is why every mis-adventure has an upside.
The upside of being tarred and gravelled is that I got to meet Mike Hickman, his son, and Sim, of Corner Autobody Ltd. I am unbelievably grateful for their help today. The treated me like they’d known me all my life and turned my worst situation yet into a very agreeable experience.
Mike had already heard about the tar/gravel fiasco on the highway and now got to see the results of it first-hand. Being a rider, he agreed that it would be foolish to ride in that condition. He had some wax remover and degreaser that he thought would be less damaging than other products might be and sprayed some on Fury’s front tire to see what it might do. It softened the tar enough that it could be scraped off. Yay! Feeling badly that he should spend much time on such a mind-numbingly tedious task, I asked if I could use his stuff and work at it myself and he said sure, whatever I wanted to do.
Deciding that this task was going to need to be fuelled, I took Mike’s suggestion and went to Sharon’s Nook for a quick breakfast. The recommendation was a good one and I had a delicious breakfast of French toast and coffee and a conversation with a whole coffee shop full of locals, all of whom had heard about the tar mess from others. I’m thinking that construction contractor is likely to get an earful.
Upon returning to the shop, Mike shuffled things around and made a spot for Fury inside the garage - away from the strong wind and misty rain. I unloaded some gear and got her up on her center stand so the tires could be spun. Sim was there and found some cardboard to lay down to catch the tar bits and to sit on. Then he began scraping away at the tar. In the end, Sim and Mike did all the hard work of patiently spraying and scraping the tar off the wheels while I held the tire steady. Mike’s son (I forgot to get his name ☹), came by on his bicycle to say hi to dad and supervised us for a while. I would have been at it all day trying to do it myself. As it was, I was on the road shortly after 11:00 a.m.
I took the “round the boot” road, which is how the locals refer to Hwy 220 around the southern tip of the peninsula. I was warned that it could be a rough road and sometimes windy. It wasn’t long before a blanket of very dense fog surrounded us and visibility was reduced to a car length in front of us. I put the hazard lights on and kept my speed way down, mindful of the warnings of a rough road and the potential of our four-legged monster moose appearing suddenly in my path. Every now and again, the fog would life and visibility would improve and I would see that I was travelling right along the ocean and didn’t even know it.
Just after rounding the tip of the peninsula (not that I knew I had at the time), I saw a sign for Allan’s Island. Since the road was paved, I thought I would just follow it, and arrived at a little fishing village, connected to the mainland by a narrow strip of road. I rode around it, waving at everyone as is the custom here, and stopped to take a picture here and there. The ocean was heavy today and I was glad I wasn’t a fisherman out on that foggy, heaving expanse. Instead, I was on solid ground, experiencing the feeling of wildness and power conveyed by the ocean.
Getting back on the main road, we were soon enveloped in fog again and I saw nothing of the scenery I knew was there. Riding into a little community called St. Lawrence, I saw a mining museum with a restaurant attached. Having passed it, I decided I should turn around and check it out. Was I ever glad I did! I headed into the restaurant for some lunch and had the best chili I think I have ever had, with a fresh, homemade roll which was so good I had to ask for another one. Everyone was friendly and kind and I walked out with 2 chocolate chip cookies to keep me happy on the road.
Next was to check out the museum, which is called the Miners Memorial Museum. I expected this to mean that there had been a major accident here, like at the Springhill coal mine in Nova Scotia. But this story was very different. In the 1930’s a mine was opened to extract fluorspar. With the depression going on, it provided much needed jobs and the locals worked hard to get it into operation. However, over the years, the mining of this silicate mineral without protection resulted in nearly 200 miners dying young of silicosis and cancers caused by radon emissions in the mines. This museum commemorates these miners and has an excellent display of the processes and equipment used over the years the mine was in production. There is a special memorial area that lists the names of the miners who died as a result of their work there. A woman who was also visiting from BC was there with her husband, and she showed me where her father’s name was on the lists. It reminded me yet again how cheap life was in the face of the almighty dollar.
This museum also had a section about an ocean disaster where three US navy ships were lost just off their coast. One of the lovely ladies from the museum staff told me the story. This might seem an odd thing to see in a mining museum, but the stories come full circle. The ships ran aground and the miners who were changing shifts when a member of the crew finally found them, all headed out to bring dories and rope to try and save as many men as they could. They rescued something like 186 men of the more than 400 sailors that had been on the ships. There was a photo of a young sailor in his uniform, framed with the last handwritten letter that his family had received and the telegram sent, notifying them that he had been drowned in the disaster. This was presented to the museum by the young man’s brother, who had learned of the story and came to St. Lawrence to learn as much as he could about what had happened.
Perhaps the most touching story, though, was that of Lanier Phillips. Like all the other sailors rescued, he was covered in oil that had spilled from containers on the ship. He was taken in and the women were all helping to wash them. Despite their efforts, they could not get it all off for him. Hearing them talk about it, he finally had to tell them that they couldn’t wash any more off because he was Black – that was the normal colour of his skin. The town had never seen a black man and so did not know. They cared for him and he was put up in a home with the family. The woman of the household came the next morning to ask him if he was feeling better and would he join them for breakfast. He couldn’t believe his ears that he was being asked by a white person to join them at their table, with their family, for a meal. Given that there was forced segregation and worse in Georgia at the time, he couldn’t get over this and said it was the first time in his life that he felt human. It has a profound effect on Lanier and he spent much time telling his story in interviews and promoting humanity, regardless of race.
This marine disaster happened in 1942. The story comes full circle when the US military hears of the miners dying of silicosis and having to go to the US for treatments. Wishing to repay the hard-working folk of St. Lawrence for their courage and kindness in saving their sailors, they built a hospital in St. Lawrence to treat and care for the miners who were sick and dying of diseases caused by working in the mines. And so, once again, tragedy brings out the best in humanity. I finished up my visit with a nice chat with the staff before carrying on with my travels.
I didn’t stop again until Swift Current (no, not the Saskatchewan one). As I was riding through, I saw Vernon’s Antique Car Museum and had to pull in to take a look. Wow! What a collection. As ever, my favourites were the 60’s muscle cars. Everything was pristine and many awards have been won for several of these rare beauties. What a treat.
Seeing the dark clouds gathering, I thought Fury and I had better make serious tracks for St. John’s. Strong cross-winds kept us alert as we sped towards the junction for the trans-Canada highway. Aside from a brief fuel top-up somewhere along the way, we didn’t stop again. About 30 kms out of St. John’s the sky suddenly went black and the temperature dropped. It didn’t pour on us but began to rain and the winds became outrageous, doing its best to throw us around. We hung in there, knowing there wasn’t far to go and finally arrived at our hotel about 7:30 p.m. Ironically, we rode out of the weather as we pulled off the highway onto the exit to the hotel, so unloading and checking in was easy.
On my way to the elevator, I met Glen, Ed and Boyd. We had a grand time talking like we were old friends and once settled into my room, I met Ed and Glen at the lounge for a drink and some food. Great visits all around and Ed has foolishly invited me to visit at their home a couple of hours away. If I achieve what needs to be achieved in the next couple of days, I might take him up on it. But for now, it is off to bed as there are a couple of days of work ahead. TTFN, my friends.
“Where ya to?”, my host inquired
“Off and awa’”, was my reply
"I know not where I’ll wander to
But I ‘spect I’ll get there by and by."
Today was one of those perfect riding days. Perfect weather and no agenda. The day felt curious, free and joyful. It was full of discovery and delightful surprises.
I got up just before 6:00 a.m. expecting the morning to be quite cool, but it was very mild. Despite the fog over the water down the street, I threw some clothes on and woke Fury up to go and see if we could find puffins.
I found the site described to me by Rashid with no difficulty. The fog was dense enough that I didn’t see the sun rise, but the light that it cast over the landscape with the fog made the green of the vegetation and the colours of the rocks so vibrant it was rather surreal as I walked the short trail to the puffins. And find them I did! Hundreds of them on a rocky outcrop across a narrow chasm of ocean. Only a stone’s throw away from the rocky outcrop I was standing on. They are funny little birds and quite fascinating to watch. Much smaller than I expected, they were about half the size of a big seagull. Like the northern murres, their wings look too small for their bodies, so they flap them like crazy when they fly so their wings look like windmills. But then they skim over the water smooth as silk before diving for fish. When they come in for a landing, they look like miniature penguins. I saw them much more clearly than the pictures from my phone achieved and I spent a good deal of time just sitting in the quiet morning watching them. Couldn’t help but think how Tracey would have loved these quaint little birds.
The fog made for some pretty scenes and I took several pictures on my way out to the puffins and on the way back. Elliston is also known for its root cellars, and there was one to see at the head of the trail as well, so I investigated it. With the lack of soil for gardens in Newfoundland, people made compost from all sorts of organic waste to produce soil to grow things in. At harvest, they would store the produce in the root cellars created in the rocks of the island. If rocks were money, Newfoundland would be the richest area in the country!
Heading back to the B&B for breakfast, I had a visit with a couple of other guests that were there from Ontario. I also had a nice visit with Maila as I was loading up the bike. We have similar philosophies in life and so it was fun to be smarter than the rest of the world for a while. 😊
Riding towards Cape Bonavista, I stopped briefly at the lighthouse, but was more curious about the Landfall Memorial Park that was right beside it and I had not known about. It has a striking statue of John Cabot and a plaque that states the case for believing that this is where he first made landfall in North America in 1497. I suppose after several months at sea, even this rugged, inhospitable shore must have seemed welcome. There is no questioning the beauty of it. Whether in blue skies or fog, the rocky coast is magnificent – so beautiful and dramatic it makes my heart hurt to take it in.
I travelled back towards the small community of Bonavista. This little town has the biggest cemetery I have seen in such a small place, spanning both sides of the road, headstones of all ages and styles. It is very striking and oddly reassuring. The folks there must be content. I filled up with gas and toodled around the town a bit. It has so many erratic, windy little roads that I think you could wander around it all day and never figure it out. It reminded me of what Maila had said about the older areas of Ontario – that the houses were just built wherever and footpaths were used. When roads came, they were built around the houses instead of the houses built around the roads, with the result that nothing is on a grid and the town seemed all higgledy-piggledy and labyrinthine. For someone like me, with an appalling sense of direction, it could spell disaster if it were any larger than it was!
I made my way out of Bonavista and headed down the coast, peeking into little side roads along the way. I rode into Upper Amherst Cove which was very pretty. This was my first sight of massive table-style rocks jutting out into the ocean. Leaving there, I continued along Hwy 235 until I arrived at the sign for Tickle Cove. Maila had said to go in there and see the Arch Hole. It being only about 8 kms off the highway, I took her advice. What a treat! About halfway down the road, I was surprised by vast expanses of startling pink rock! My photos don’t even capture the “pinkness” of it. I continued to Tickle Cove and followed the road to the end of the pavement and then a bit further up a mildly sketchy gravel hill. I was rewarded at the top with a view of the ocean with a large outcrop of this pink rock jutting out into the ocean – with a hole in it like a door. Very cool. Fury, being a girl, insisted on stopping on the way out to have her picture taken in front of the pink rocks. 😊
Having dawdled the day away into the early afternoon, I stopped at Round da Bay Inn for lunch. Had an amazing lunch of fish cakes and salad and pickled things, and dessert of apple torte with caramel sauce that was to die for. Still undecided about my final destination, I had a couple of conversations over lunch. Eventually, I decided to head for Grand Bank, determining that I should arrive by about 6:30 p.m.
I stopped briefly in Clarenville for a drink of water and while there, a lady returning to her car noticed my license plate and the ensuing conversation made me smile for a long while after we parted.
(Insert the more Irish-sounding of the Newfie accents for her part).
She: "You never travelled all the way here by motorbike?!"
Me: "I have, and logged almost 24,000 kms visiting every province and territory of Canada".
She: "You never did! And by yourself?!"
Me: "I have".
She: "God love ya girl, you've got the nerve!"
I laughed and thanked her for the compliment. It was the emphatic statements in this fabulous accent that kept replaying itself in my head and making me smile.
The ride south had more beautiful landscape – reminiscent of Prince Rupert, BC and of Nunavut in places, but all its own personality. Mountains to flat lands with low vegetation and vast expanses of water. No matter what any of the other provinces say, I’m pretty sure Newfoundland could take them all in terms of water per square kilometer. Strong crosswinds accompanied my ride, but nothing unmanageable. Pulling off for a quick break, I met half a dozen guys out for a ride. We chatted away for 5 minutes or so before I carried on to finish the last hour and a half to Grand Bank.
Arriving in Marystown, I stopped at the Visitor Centre and met Marianne and Betty. Very friendly ladies, we talked about all sorts of things and decided that all in all, people were pretty decent. I enjoyed our visit very much and probably should have taken that as my cue to stay in Marystown. But I filled up with gas and continued on to Grand Bank.
The ride to Grand Bank was uneventful until the last 15 kms or so. Construction. “Well, so what – you’ve seen that before”, you are saying. The signs said “Fresh tar”. I had seen that before too – lots of it. Fresh pavement with recently dried tar. So the signer waves us forward, telling us to carry on, but go slow. Ok. Off we go. I’m about 3rd in line and the tar is a bit wetter than I’ve encountered before. And then it gets really wet. The whole road is tarred – both lanes – and traffic is travelling normally in both directions. I’m thinking about the mess this is going to make of Fury, but there’s no help for it – we can’t turn around. This goes on for at least 3 kms and we can finally see clear road ahead. We get to the clear road, but there is still construction and they have torn up sections of the highway – clear across! – and laid fresh gravel down across the entire width of the road!!! Predictably, this is not much fun with a motorbike because now my tires are covered in tar and heavily marbled with gravel. The few kms remaining into Grand Bank did nothing to improve their condition. Finally arriving at the hotel at 7:30 p.m., I unloaded Fury and checked out her shoes. Confirming my suspicions, there is a layer of tar around the entire circumference of both tires and gravel embedded into it. So instead of touring the south peninsula tomorrow, I will be engaged in attempting to remove the tar from my tires so Fury is safe on the road. I’ve identified a shop in town that I will go to first thing in the morning and ask for their confirmation on my course of action to remove it. I might even get lucky and they will do it for me so I don’t have to go out and buy a bunch of stuff that I won’t want to take with me.
In the end, my perfect day ended somewhat less perfectly than it began. However, as I review the pictures and think about all of the days’ captivating moments, I can’t let the last hour of it be what is left in my mind. So, thanks to all of you for engaging with this blog and giving me the chance to re-live the best parts - after all, those are the only ones that count!
Mostly a riding day today, so not a whole bunch to tell a story about. Honda One in St. John’s had taken very good care of Fury and she was ready to go by about 10:30 a.m. I packed up all my stuff and called a cab to go and get her. Loading up, we headed out of St. John’s around noon. Even thought I was feeling a bit hungry by then, I wanted to get some road behind us, so got out of the city.
The landscape here is beautiful. It often reminds me of the tundra in Nunavut, with its low-lying vegetation, frequent expanses of water and rocky topography. Stark and rugged and peaceful.
The riding temperature was quite nice and we sailed along for a bit more than an hour before my tummy started to complain about its lack of attention. We took the exit for Dildo, NL because…..well, why wouldn’t you?! It’s a pretty happening community and I chose to stop at the Dildo Brewing Co. and Museum for lunch and a tour. Struck out on both counts as there was a 1-hour wait for lunch and the Museum part was closed. Continuing a bit further down the road, I pulled into the Dildo Dory Grill. And they are closed on Mondays. Bordering on cranky, a local guy told me that the Boathouse across the other side of the water was good. So I rode back the way I came and sure enough, the Boathouse was open. Upon recommendation of the waitress, I had the hot turkey sandwich for lunch and it was blissful! At the table next to me were 4 women having a grand time visiting. They were all related and, from their conversation, have all done a good bit of travelling. I took a couple of pictures for them and we chatted a bit about my trip too.
Getting back on the road, we rode for another hour and a half to Clarenville. Fuelled up and pulled out of the gridlock of traffic to a parking spot. I figured there was still plenty of time in the day, so I searched accommodations and called ahead to Meems Elliston Bed and Breakfast. Then fired up Fury and made for Elliston. We only made one detour along the way, which was to follow a side road to Trinity, NL. A very picturesque little village, they have restored, rebuilt or kept their buildings in historical presentation. The cemetery beside St. Paul’s Anglican Church was my favourite though. What interesting tombstones! I couldn’t make out dates on any of them, but clearly they have been there a long time.
Arriving in Elliston about 6:30 p.m. I was greeted by my B&B hosts Rashid and Maila. Maila is a Canadian that went over to India and ended up staying 20 years! While there, she met and married Rasheed and they have recently returned to Canada for a quieter lifestyle. I’m not sure a B & B meets that goal in the summer as they have been booked steady since June. They invited me to have a bite with them as they were just sitting down to supper. I accepted the invitation and we had a good visit over moose soup. 😊 After that, we walked down to the local store where I was able to return the favour by buying the ice cream. Maila told me there are some beautiful sunsets down at Cape Bonavista and how to get there, so when we got back, I jumped back on the bike to see if I could ride down the sunset. It was falling fast, so I stopped along the road to take a quick picture in case I didn’t make the destination in time. It was a good thing because a fog bank was rolling in too and by the time I got down to the park, there wasn’t much of a sunset. There was some stunning, rugged coastline to drink in though, and I thoroughly enjoyed the little junket. As I returned, the fog was beginning to roll steadily over Elliston, cloaking the streets in mystery. That was my cue to get back to the house to my lovely colourful room. I can say without hesitation that it is the most colourful room I have slept in so far and, being a colour girl, I love it!
Stay tuned for more stories tomorrow. In the meantime, don’t forget to read the Trivia Bits for your Newfoundland history lesson!
After a good night’s sleep and a brain less sun-washed than yesterday, I’m hoping I can tell a decent story about yesterday’s adventures.
The day was warmer than is usual for Newfoundland, apparently, with a high of 27 expected. A high level haze persists across Newfoundland, which, apparently, is due to smoke from the British Columbia fires making its way into the jetstream! So, even on the east coast – over 6000 kms away, the BC fires are making themselves known.
Having slept in and had a leisurely breakfast, we headed out to make Signal Hill the first stop of the day. Arriving there, a young woman named Jeehea offered to take a picture with the Cabot Tower of Signal Hill. This task completed, we chatted for a minute and found out she was from Vancouver! So, we chatted some more. Being curious about my trip, I dug up a blog card for her. By this time, her husband Ian had come up with their children and we had a great talk about travels.
Signal Hill was originally constructed as a defensive position for St. John’s. The huge stone structure is the Cabot Tower and was constructed to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Cabot’s landing in North America and the 60th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s reign. So the original story of Signal Hill is interesting, but not particularly unique, there being many similar locations throughout Canada. Still, it was cool to see the barracks and cannon. There are a number of trails over the site that are good for a bit of a workout and wake-me-up. If you visit Signal Hill, be sure to go inside the tower and climb to the top. The panoramic view of St. John’s is amazing!
Signal Hill, however, has one outstanding claim to fame. I love the story as it demonstrates the persistence and ingenuity of humanity in the face of stubborn opposition.
In 1897, Guglielmo Marconi began the Marconi Wireless Company. While wireless communications had been established as a viable form of communication, everyone believed it had a very limited range. The belief was that because the earth was round, the sound waves would get to the curve in the earth and just project outwards to space.
Marconi determined to prove that it could be used long distance. After making successful attempts for longer distances across Europe, he decided to attempt sending a signal across the Atlantic Ocean. He called it “The Big Thing”. The sites he originally selected for the transmission were Poldhu in Cornwall, England, and South Wellfleet in Cape Cod, USA. In the first year he was to attempt the transmission, the antenna stations were both destroyed by crazy storms. Marconi simplified his antenna design and then chose a location in North America that was a bit closer – St. John’s Newfoundland.
On December 6, 1901, Marconi arrived in St. John’s with his assistants and his equipment and chose the location of Signal Hill as the place to receive his message. The Morse code letter “S” was decided as the test message that would be sent as it was more easily distinguished from other messages amid the static of transmissions. He used a phone receiver to listen for the message. Despite some setbacks of lost balloons and kites that were carrying the antenna wires, shortly after noon, on December 12, 1901, the message from Poldhu came through – a distance of 3468 kilometers!
Marconi’s discovery not only transformed communications, but rocked the scientific world, forcing them to acknowledge that the commonly held belief was wrong. Eventually, science would discover that the earth’s atmosphere has a layer that is electrically charged by the sun. This ionosphere bends electromagnetic waves and refracts them back to the earth, resulting in Marconi’s success.
Marconi’s attempts to set up shop in Newfoundland were thwarted by the Anglo American cable company, who worked hard to discount his discovery and viewed it as a threat to their cable communications system. Instead of trying to fight “the big boys”, Marconi headed to Cape Breton as the behest of politicians in Nova Scotia and Canada who believed in his discover and chose to support a Canadian site for transatlantic communications. The Dominion Coal Company at Table Head in Glace Bay gave Marconi land to establish a station and the Canadian government committed funds to build it. Marconi, in return, committed to charge $0.10 per word for transatlantic messages, which was 60% lower than rates from the cable company. Needless to say, this enterprise was a resounding success and Canada has a proud role in the birth of wireless communications.
You would think from the length of that story, that it was the end of the day, but no such luck for you! On the way back down from Signal Hill, we stopped at the Johnson Geo Centre. There were some gorgeous rock samples displayed outside the Centre and labelled. Newfoundland, like Nova Scotia, has all of the possible rock types that are known, so it was interesting to see these samples. In particular, the peridotite, which is a rare igneous rock – a piece of the earth’s mantle shoved into the continental crust by some cataclysmic force of nature. Always astounds me to think of it. Getting a bit hungry and sun-worn by now, it didn’t feel like we had the attention span to fully appreciate the information on offer at the Centre. Regretfully, gave it a miss and carried on.
The next destination was Cape Spear, which turned out to be a very busy place. Cape Spear is the easternmost spot in North America. The square lighthouse for which it is known, was under construction, but I got pictures of the other lighthouse on the site and we wandered the trail around the property, which roams by the ocean. The whale-watching boats were cruising around as there are humpbacks, fin and minke whales in the area. If you are there in the spring, you can also see icebergs that are brought south by the Labrador currents.
Cape Spear also has a military history. Like the site at Gaspe, there was reason to build a defense site at Cape Spear when German u-boats began hunting and destroying supply ships in the Atlantic. The gun locations and ammunition storage bunkers can still be toured at Cape Spear. It is well worth the stop for the history and the beautiful views of the coast (even with the smoke haze).
Quidi Vidi was the next stop as there was food there! This area of St. John’s is a fishing village area. If you visit Quidi Vidi in the summer, take a small car, lots of patience, and turn left to find parking instead of continuing down the hill into the village area. It is worth the visit, but cramped and challenging to navigate. The Quidi Vidi Brewery is down there and it is one of the local breweries (along with Yellow Belly). Right in front of it is Quidi Vidi Fish and Chips (QVFC), which is a little red food trailer that makes really great fish and chips. Taking longer than expected with sight-seeing, it was getting into mid-afternoon, so we controlled consumption in anticipation of supper later. Still, it was delicious. Seeing Birch Beer as an option for a drink, I tried one – pretty sure it’s cream soda called birch beer…..
Headed back to the hotel and spent some time on a reconnaissance of the inside of my eyelids. Feeling refreshed, it was time to head over the St. John’s Fish Exchange for supper. Lobster was on the menu and Peter had his fix before leaving Newfoundland today. Having eaten so much rich and fatty stuff over the last few days, I opted for the shrimp appy and the French country salad which was all very delicious. And so ended another successful St. John’s Day!
After a bit of a sleep-in, it was a busy day touring around St. John's - Signal Hill, Cape Spear, and Quidi Vidi. However, I have only finished going through the photos for the day and feel like I don't have the wherewithall to tell the proper story. So, for now, I'm posting a a quiz of Newfie phrases so you can see if you can translate. 😊 I'm posting a few pictures in between so you can't cheat right off the bat!
How relaxed are the Newfies? Relaxed enough that they give you 64 seconds to cross the street! 😊 The day was pretty much a beeline for St. John’s from Millertown. It’s more than a 5-hour trip, so there was no dawdling about getting up and out of the Lakeview Inn this morning. After an evening walk, and a few photos of the flywheel down at the lake across the road at Millertown, I slept pretty well.
With the long ride to do, today needed some rest stops. The first of these was at Gander. You may have heard about the role of the town of Gander and it’s neighbouring villages in the 9/11 disaster. When the US shut down its airspace, this tiny town opened its runways to 38 trans-Atlantic flights. Over 7000 passengers eventually disembarked, almost doubling the population of Gander. The city created accommodation, opening their community centres, schools and homes to the stranded travellers, including 17 cats and dogs and 2 great apes! We stopped at the airport because they have a piece of the World Trade Centre on display that was given in appreciation of their outstanding generosity. Gander also won my heart by having the strawberry shortcake donut at their Tim Horton’s. Haven’t seen it for awhile.
The airport also has the most amazing chairs for relaxing. I asked the security guy if he turned his back could I smuggle one out. He said they were about $1200.00 each, but we could walk out with one right now for $1000.00. Joking, of course. It’s probably one of those things that seems like a really good idea at the time but when you get home or have to move it, you realize it’s actually a pain in the butt. As an aside, when I parked Fury, I went to put $ in the meter and there was a little painted feel-good rock at the bottom of the parking meter! How nice, and an indicator of the community’s heart.
Back on the road, the traffic was getting busier, but on we flew, not stopping for another hour and a half. Clarenville was the next stop and it was now time for lunch, so we pulled into Mary Brown’s. This is Newfoundland’s fried chicken chain. There is no doubt that Mary makes very good fried chicken! Restored by the break, we filled up with gas and got back on the road.
With one more brief stop along the way, we arrived in St. John’s about 3:15 p.m. I took Fury straight to the bike shop, where I have asked for a new headlight bulb an end-to-end inspection to ensure she is healthy for the rest of our journey. Entreating them to be very nice to her because she has worked very hard the last 3 months, they assured me they would secure her in their yard and treat her nicely.
Booked into the Hampton Inn, bags and suitcases were unloaded and a cab called to go down to George Street. This is the “pub” district in St. John’s and one of the “places to see”. Deciding to check out a few places, the first stop was the Yellow Belly. This is a local brewery and we stopped in to try a flight of their local beer. For me, it was the bakeapple cider, which was pretty good. A warm pretzel appy filled in one chink until dinner time.
The next stop was Bridie Molloy’s. We sat on the patio and sampled their beer and I ordered a scallop appy to fill in another chink until dinner time. Last, but not least, the Celtic Hearth was the choice for supper. Choosing a table near the window that was beside that of another couple, we struck up a conversation with Joanne and Jay from Grand Prairie, AB! We enjoyed our visit very much.
I ordered the creamy seafood dish with shrimp, scallops, cod and mussels. Served on nacho chips….? OK. This dish came and it was gigantic! It was delicious and I did my best to make sure I ferreted out all of the seafood. There were lots of nachos left on the plate and I couldn’t eat all of the mussels. Not going to lose any weight in Newfoundland even if I was trying!
The evening wrapped up with a short stroll down to the waterfront where there were some big boats sitting prettily in the evening light. Then back to the hotel and time to get some rest in preparation for further exploration of St. John’s.
No travels or news really to share today, since I worked all day. So I will share some information about where we’ve been staying in Millertown. Millertown is about 30 minutes off of Hwy 1 and has a large guesthouse called the Lakeview Inn. Not surprisingly, it has a view of the lake across the street. Owned and operated by Russ Squires and his son, Joshua, it is a quiet, make-yourself-at-home kind of place. Joanne comes in each day to prepare supper for everyone and we haven't been disappointed yet!
While it might seem a bit out of the way, it is not really, with access to ATV trails, lakes and short drives to other lovely area locations. There is a Beothuk national historic site close to hand which is not very widely known.
Having been fully engaged with work for the last couple of days, and must do so again today, I have not had much opportunity to explore it, but would still recommend the Lakeview Inn and Millertown as a great place to spend a few days in Newfoundland. In the summer there are some regular guests that work nearby, but also tourists coming and going. Everyone has been friendly and outgoing and it has been a pleasure to visit in the evenings when my work is finished.
I took some time today to give Fury a much-needed bath and wax. She has also had her chain cleaned and oiled and is ready to be back on the road tomorrow. It will be on to St. John’s where hopefully we can get her outfitted with a new headlight, then some days of exploration around the south-eastern region of Newfoundland. Stay tuned for more adventures!
Well, I warned you - it was a work day today, so not too much interesting to tell.
Got up early and went and picked up Fury from Butt's Esso where I left her with a burnt out headlight last night. Then flew back to the inn to prepare for the first of 3 sessions to get schools ready for startup.
In between sessions, I called a local shop, but they can't get a replacement bulb for about a week. So, there won't be any more travelling at night, which is not my preference anyway. I will check in St. John's to see if they can replace it for me at a shop there.
Many more things came up over the day work-wise, but it was good to work wtih everyone again and they were so appreciative of my time that it was certainly rewarding.
Meals are included at the inn, so when I was done with my sessions at 8:00 p.m., dinner was ready, whcih was lovely. Then it was sit out on the deck, have a glass of wine and watch the water. So I doubt anyone is feeling very sorry for me that I have 3 days of work this week. :)
It was a very early morning to be on the road by 7:00 a.m. to L’Anse aux Meadows. This is a national historic site of the Viking settlement discovered in Newfoundland. The site has a visitor centre and a trail out to some re-constructed houses and the foundations of the original structures that were there. The Vikings called this area Vinland and came for its timber and grapes. They made timber and sod huts and even smelted bog iron from the rocks to make nails. It was all very cool and interesting and much more time could have been spent exploring not just the site, but the surrounding area as well. It was a special place and I left some ashes there for Tracey, at one of the smaller huts covered with flowers.
Along the way, there were countless wee fishing villages and I learned some new things. “Tuckamore”, which appeared on signs in a number of places, was a curiosity. It refers to the growth of the spruce trees, which are bent, misshapen and entangled on the coast of Newfoundland. It makes an almost impenetrable landscape. While there were some pretty interesting names on the signs, the one that made me laugh was for Nameless Cove. Bit of an oxymoron, that.
As we flew along, I also noticed that there were little fenced cribs along the side of the road. I thought “those look like they have potatoes planted in them”. I quickly wrote the notion off, because why would there be potatoes planted randomly along the highway, seemingly in the middle of nowhere? Also notable, were the huge stacks of firewood everywhere – again, not seeming to be organized for sale or in yards or anything. Both of these mysteries were solved by the story-tellers at the Viking settlement site, when asked.
Being due in Millertown tonight meant that we only spent a couple of hours before heading back to Rocky Harbour. Fuelling up, it was on and out for the 3.5 hour drive to Millertown, expecting to arrive about 10:00 p.m. Close to 2 hours along, just at dusk, I needed to pull over for a rest. It was at this point that we discovered my headlight was burnt out! With the ever-darkening sky, I thought maybe I could just follow close to the car with my hazards on and make the next town, leaving Fury parked somewhere as safe as possible for the night. Unfortunately, it was getting dark very fast and the prospect of doing this for another hour was daunting. Thinking that I must find someplace to park much sooner, the universe was looking out for me. Not too far along the highway, Butt’s Esso station was brightly lit and open! Larry was very helpful and very generously offered to keep Fury inside where she would be locked up until I can return for her tomorrow. Tucked away safely for the night and the Millertown destination achieved, I will be able to return for her tomorrow and get her to a shop for fixing up or find a replacement bulb.
In the meantime, I have 3 full days of work starting tomorrow, so it will likely be boring blogs for a few days, if I have any stories to tell at all. So, enjoy your Viking settlement pictures and a collection of Newfoundland flora!