Taking Off From The Rock

Trip Start Aug 13, 2006
Trip End Aug 12, 2007

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Flag of Canada  , Nova Scotia,
Thursday, September 28, 2006

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Well it has been a while since I have put in an up date, so long I am not really sure when the last post was. Right now I am sitting on the ferry leaving Newfoundland and a little sad that we did not have more time there and at the same time happy to be on the move again. I am going to try to summarize our last days on the island and give an overall impression of our experience there.

I think that the last update came from Terra Nova area. When I made the post we were headed out on a day trip to Salvage from the National Park. Salvage was beautiful. We saw a house for sale that was right on the beach with a view of a small harbour and great waves breaking from the ocean all the time. April and I are fairly convinced that a summer residence in Newfoundland would be a good idea. Winters might be harsh here but also gorgeous. We will keep you all informed about our future real estate ventures LOL.

It was back to Terra Nova for a supper and bed. At this point we were quickly coming to the conclusion that we spent far too much time on the North Western portion of the island as the East coast is so pretty and full of great places steeped with history. Apparently, there is more to the island than Vikings. OMGs who would have thought.

Our next stop was in Bonavista where the first retail store was set up on the Island by James Ryan. It is a National Historic site that was very informative and we could have spent an entire day at the centre. Garrett learned how to clean a cod to be salted and dried. April was very excited to see his residence, which was built at the turn of the 19th century and very similar in design to a home she lived in as a child in Lion's Head, Ontario. I found the fishing history fascinating and Evelyn worried that we may have fish again for dinner.

We closed the museum in Bonavista and then headed for St. John's to find cheap accommodations in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Loving the Wal-Mart lots. Got up and on the go in St. John's as there was lots to see and not enough time to do it. First stop was the info centre downtown to get our bearings and find the sites. Then we went to Velma's Place for a memorable breakfast. I say memorable because the service was terrible and unapologetic. We did however run into the other home schoolers, we met in St Anthony's there. We hope to see them in BC when we get there.

On a personal note we found where Great Big Sea's studios were and I had really hoped to crash them but the door was locked and nobody answered when I banged for about 5 minutes lol. After I got over the disappointment we moved on to see Signal Hill. Also a very well done National Historic site with a great view of St. John's and the surrounding area. Interesting that Canada takes the glory for Marconi's first wireless communication when Newfoundland was not even a part of the country and Marconi is not even a Canadian. Interesting nevertheless.

After our whirlwind tour of Signal Hill we were off to see Cape Spear, now and since 1947, the most eastern part of Canada. Interestingly enough our Rogers cell phone started to work just outside of St. John's and we had the best reception on top of Signal Hill LOL.

Cape Spear was another fantastically warm sunny afternoon watching the waves rolling in. This seems to be our favorite thing to do on sunny afternoons. We also finally checked in by phone with Live 88.5 the Ottawa radio station that has been following our trip. The picture titled Cape Spear was taken moments before checking in with the station. Hi Traplin and Co. We really are living large and at that moment the day was better than average.

I wish I could say that the day continued on that way. We had one of our worst nights of our trip as we moved towards what is known as the Irish Loop. Hard to say what all the factors were for our evening melt down. I think that we tried to pack too much into the day, did not stop for dinner in time and really did not know where we were going to stay for the night. We also had taxed our battery too much with the fridge on electric for the day and so we had a very dim dinner. After a couple of failed attempts at finding a place to stay we finally just gave up and stopped on the side of the road and did our best to be nice to each other. At that point it was not easy. In hind site however it really was only one bad night and a really great day. Travel and learn. I think that may be a good lesson. Don't try to do too much in one day on the road. Always eat before you are starving and stop before it is pitch black out side to find a place to camp.

The next day was much better with a great stop a the Irish Loop Coffee House. The owner Judi had just taken orange scones out of the oven as we stepped through the door the coffee was good and we were able to shake off the previous night.

From that fabulous little café in Witless Bay we headed for Ferryland. The National Historic site there "Lord Baltimore's House," unfortunately is not run by Parks Canada and therefore not included in the Discovery Pass we purchased that covers most National Historic sites. Heavy on the most. We did however crash the English Gardens and archeological dig portion of the site. See pictures. Otherwise Ferryland was a little disappointing. April had also really hoped to see puffins but the only way to see them is to take a boat tour which was very costly for the 4 of us so we decided to make our way pronto to Cape St. Mary's to see the Sea Bird Ecological Preserve.

Instead we went to Placentia to check out a dance for the evening that we didn't go to because we were too tired. We found a really nice camp site and planned the preserve trip for the next morning. Did I mention that by the time we arrived in Placentia we had not showered since Terra Nova and our priorities were a hot shower, dinner and a rest. That is exactly what we got.

We woke up clean, rested and in good spirits for our trip to Cape St. Mary's and the sea birds. We also met a great family camped next to us and hope to keep in touch with them. Thanks Lee for the great CD's of music from Newfoundland we really enjoyed listening to them on our way down to the Cape. I might add that the costal drive down from Placentia to Cape St. Mary's was perhaps the most breathtaking of the entire trip and when we come back one day we will definitely start here.

Cape St. Mary's was everything you might expect of a sea bird sanctuary. We saw a ton of northern gannets, it almost made up for the lack of puffins. April may come back just for the puffins next time. Our last day on the island was spent in the rain and wind checking out the last National Historical site on our list, Castle Hill. An interesting hill fort that was originally built by the French given up to the English in a peace treaty and in all of its life span only saw open conflict once never being taken in battle. The highlight was when the museum curator brought a French replica musket out for us to have a good look at.

After the fort we went to a little shop that sold everything from office supplies to windows and oh ya tourist items. And you will never guess what I found. No not a million dollars. Would have been nice. No, I found a bobble head moose. That is right folks a genuine Newfoundland bobble head moose. It is my prize trophy of the journey so far and perhaps sums up our island experience very well. Very casual and agreeable.

We went to the ferry terminal to have dinner and watch some huge waves come in. Which of course corresponded with the ferry being delayed by 4 hours. So instead of leaving a 12 mid night we were not off until 4 am. I also failed to mention that dinner was pork and beans, making for a very musical wait in the van to drive onto the ferry lol. The ferry ride so far has been a rather sleepless one. For the first hour of boarding at 4 am or so we had to endure the light being on and the pa system making useless announcements. To top it off at about 4:15 am when the lights went out and everything was looking quiet a group of people came up and started talking very loudly. I was at wits end and walked over to ask them to be quiet. I started out very nicely and when they started to talk right over me I mentioned that I had children trying to sleep as well and that I would not be responsible for their behavior in the morning when they were aloud to play noisily right beside them. Aw the sound of stunned silence and uncomfortable sleep in a chair that only half reclines. The best today; however, was the announcement over the PA system at 7 am that breakfast was now being served. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!

Oh well what can you do? We got up and had our breakfast. To steal a Newfie saying," It was better than a rock in pot." The trip has been long so far. One of the ships 4 engines is out and the wind has been high. We did however get a chance to meet the Captain, Robert Schurman, and see the bridge, very cool. The Captain was very friendly, we met him in the stewards office in front of the gift shop. I give you this information because as we were standing there the woman who runs the gift shop locked 2 little old ladies inside while she took off for a few minutes. We all had a great laugh as the Captain got on the intercom and called for her immediately. He said it would be a long time before she lived this one down.

Took a writing break and now it is 8:30 Newfoundland time and we should be landing at 9:30! WoooHooooo!!! I am just a little tired April and the kids are now playing crazy 8's beside me and I think we are now ready to start our list of things we learned in Newfoundland. Are you ready... this stuff could be life changing.

(There is no particular order in this list just little tidbits of knowledge and wisdom.)

1) When in Newfoundland Fish or fish is COD and nothing else. Ever other species is referred to by name i.e. Mackerel
2) How to gut, head, split and salt a fish, a.k.a. COD
3) Where you are to is really where you are at.
4) Newfoundland girls really dig Garrett.
5) BANG !!!! a common St. Anthony's expression that really makes Evelyn jump.
6) The island is very big to Newfoundlanders but in terms of driving it really is just a slice of Ontario with a few more moose, mountains and ocean.
7) There are no snakes, raccoons, skunks, ground hogs, porcupines or other pesky vermin that can steal your cooler contents although squirrels and grey jays do their best. Oh yea there are bears but we never saw one.
8) There are considerably more Viking sites than L'Anse aux Meadows. Just because Parks Canada says there is only one does not make it so.
9) Much of Canada's interesting history belongs to Newfoundland and they have only been a part of us for 50 years or so.
10) BANG!!!!!
11) Peppermint Nobs are really tasty!!!
12) So is moose poop!!! (Chocolate covered jujubes)
13) Newfoundlanders like Timmy's as much as any other Canadian. (Except in Bonavista where our evil plan is to become the James Ryan of coffee)
14) The largest fish ever caught was 151 pounds and 7 feet long.
15) Cribbage in Newfoundland never ends.
16) There are a lot of hills, trees, rocks and water.
17) A bump with signage a km away is often smaller than one with no sign at all.
18) Although Newfoundland received the first wireless signal Rogers Wireless has yet to get anything past St. John's
19) When you give anything away in Newfoundland you are likely to be overwhelmed with generosity in return.
20) When you put up a tent for the kids it is sure to rain.
21) People in Newfoundland really like NORWEX Enviro Products too. (If you don't know what that is ask us as this is a means of supporting our journey, saving the environment and helping you clean faster!!!)

We could add to this list but we are all exhausted and I can't type in a straight line anymore after being at sea for almost 17 hours.

Overall our experience on the Rock has been great. I look forward to coming back one day and reuniting with our new friends and seeing more of this magical place. And the boat goes on. Oh yea I almost forgot, Newfoundland is very expensive, ferries, gas etc... We are headed for Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts if anyone knows of some work for me in these areas or knows some one who might know I would really like to work for the extra money J.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Just a quick addition as I up load the Blog today in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Now that we are mostly over the shell shock of the long ferry ride, we have had time to do the laundry, buy groceries and go to the YMCA. Much better!!

It is worthy to note that today is our 10th wedding anniversary. Pretty remarkable!! This trip will defiantly make or break us. If we manage not to kill each other before we get back to Ottawa we will likely make it the next 10 years LMAO!!!
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