Monday, June 8, 2015

Out East Road Trip

Monday June 1 

It's cool and now raining as we pass through Kingston.  Mallorytown KOA served the purpose and a campfire with the  gang was fun!

Tuesday June 2

We are on the road to Quebec City and it is cool and raining again.  It's only 10 C and got increasingly colder as the night went on.  We sat in the R Dome but of course no fire.  Well we did run an electric heater in there and it was pretty cozy.  We booked a bus tour and are looking forward to our first day of touring.  The KOA has lovely washrooms and great access to shuttles and tours into the old city. 

Wednesday June 3

The elusive sun will be welcome today.  There are a few clouds around and still quite cool but a good day for touring.  We got a shuttle from the KOA to the Chateau Frontenac square where all buses meet.  Then Quebec Old Town tours took us around and around the city with good commentary.  It's a beautiful city, hilly and historical of course.  This was more than a tour around the old town, quite different from last time we toured here and more designed for non-Canadians I would say.  It was interesting however.  Those tricky British took the city in 20 minutes!  Actually they weakened the French first by cutting off their supplies.  A good history review.  Quebec City was one of the 5 largest ports in the world at one time.  Next we got onto a shuttle to go 15 minutes to le Parc Chute Montmorency and a walk around the huge falls that are taller than Niagara Falls.  We enjoyed the cable car up and walk down especially getting in the spray and getting soaked! 

We struggled to find a place for dinner but liked Spag&Tini.  Maybe there are too many choices!   We took a cab home and the driver missed a turn so charged us less.  

Thursday June 4

Along the St. Lawrence  around the Gaspe to Metis Sur Mer is the first leg of the Gaspe and about a 5 hour drive from Quebec City.  We are travelling through pastoral Quebec and fertile farmland in the river valley.  The river is getting wider and wider and we have had views of the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. As we got closer to Rivière du Loup the land became more rugged and more scrubby trees.  Camping Annie just west of Metis sur Mer was lovely and we had access to their Inn across the road and the shore with beautiful views of a lighthouse and bay with a tidal beach and lovely cabins also belonging to Camping Annie.  

This was a surprisingly large campground with some permanent sites that look popular for locals.  The black flies bothered some of us.  For some reason they didn't bite me.  Hmmmph!  Should I be offended?  NOT! 

Friday June 5

We biked into the town of Metis Sur Mer, enjoying lovely coastal views and large cottages.  The guys golfed in the afternoon and girls did some touring. We enjoyed Michel Gagnon's gallery, restaurant and tourist shop.  What a fascinating family of artists and sculptors. The town of Sainte Flavie has other artists and shops but nothing as unique as the concrete statues coming out of the water and disappearing as the tide came in.  Well the sheep at Mont Joli Motel also made of concrete looked lovely on the hill. The guys enjoyed the golf course with views of the river and we had a campfire in the rain with a lovely red sky as well as the rain. 

Saturday/Sunday June 6/7

An early start. We went along the scenic northern  Route 132 where there are stunning coastal views. It's cool but brilliant sunshine.  John and I stopped at the Italian winery but it was too early to be open.  What a gorgeous setting with beautiful Italianate buildings. We arrived at Camping Gaspe on Haldimand Road after a bit of confusion about which campground we were booked into.  It was further along than the one Bud and Randi had stayed at.  But it was really lovely!  The scenery today was amazing with coastal views of cliffs, beaches and forests.  Caroline and I went to town and checked out the fish market and ended up buying cod cakes and checking out the live lobster for tomorrow.  Sunday we drove to Parc Furillon a national park.  What a hike!  It was called les Grand Graves and took us up and down mostly along the coast to "land's end"  and the spectacular view with a lighthouse and you could see Perce Rock!  On the way back Seamus and John encountered a bear and her 3 Cubs on the path!  Wow!  They hightailed it back toward us and we took the lower path.  We had already seen porcupine, partridge, seals and lots of birds.

Lobster dinner was a hoot!  After the hike we went into the town of Gaspe to a lovely artisan cafe with a view and had coffee and tea to warm up.   Then we went around the corner to Le  Petit Bataux, where we bought the live lobsters! They are in peak season.  We cooked them in Carolyn's large pot on the fire and it was a feast and a lot of fun.  Well, I'm not sure how much Marj loved it since lobster was flying and landing on her mainly from her dear darling who seemed to be digging in with gusto!  We were bundled as if it were winter and we ate outside. We had a campfire and Rick and I saw strange northern lights we think.  There were 2 bands that moved across the sky.  I call them night rainbows because of the shape. The colour was mainly greenish white. 

Monday June 8

It was a short drive to Perce Rock the village.  Our campsite at Cotes du Surprise is located on a cliff with a great view of the Rock.   Then we drove to the Grand Crevasse for a wee hike and more stunning scenery.  What tremendous views and the drive up and down was impressive not to mention the Cravasse itself!  It was made by erosion of water over thousands of years I would say!  It would have been nice to do more hiking here but due to time and weather we didn't.  The weather continues to plague us. 

Tuesday June 9

Sadly the rain and fog persisted and we were not able to do the boat tour around Perce Rock and Bonaventure Island to see 40,000 Ganets!  Waaaa! We left and drove through rain all day to Dalhousie New Brunswick where we camped at Inch Arran Municipal Park for one night. We had a communal dinner of roast chicken and made the most of a miserable day weather wise at least.  One good thing is it will shorten our drive to Caraquet.

Wednesday June 10

The landscape has changed considerably since Gaspe. The grassy coast and cliffs are not so rugged even though the Gaspe can be seen at times across the way.  We stayed on the coastal road 134 through little towns and villages looking less prosperous than yesterday.  Lots of moose warnings but we haven't seen one yet.  OMG!  What is that big yellow ball in the sky? What a relief after so much rain and it is warming up.  We arrived at Camp Caraquet in time for lunch and went to tour the Acadian Historical Village 10 minutes down the road.  I loved talking to the people enacting the parts of the past.  It was a great way to spend a few hours despite swarms of mosquito.  We went to town after and bought a couple of pounds of mussels and had another seafood feast.  And the mosquitoes at the camp want to feast on us, they are hovering at the windows and screens.  Bug jackets needed!  This park was a bit run down. 

Thursday June 11

Rain added to the mosquitoes has sent us on our way again.  We are heading down the coast away from the Acadian Peninsula toward Miramichi.  We thought of spending the night there but couldn't see a good campground so plan to head down to Bouctouche.  This is along the gulf of St Lawrence toward the Northumberland Strait. Later....we have taken the coastal road from Mirimichi but the views are limited by scrubby forest for the most part.  We are going to go through part of Kouchibouguac Narional park.  The roads are a bit rough.  I think we are really seeing the backwoods of New Brunswick.  Yup, no cell service.  Oh dear... The road is really awful.  I hope the R Pod stays together!  Finally a smooth highway!  I can't recommend the Acadian Coastal Drive past Mirimichi.  For one thing you rarely see the water and the road is in very poor shape.  We arrived at Bouctouche Chalets and Campground and went for a short bike ride before supper.  The beaches are beautiful here.  The campground looks like a destination for locals using their trailers as cottages.   Not particularly pretty since we felt like we were in a field and lots of mosquitoes of course but the facilities are good. 

Friday June 12

PEI here we come! We only had a 2 hour drive to PEI.  The area of New Brunswick around the town of Bouctouche as we drove through it was quite nice but we were not touring. Confederation Bridge is under construction and a bit bumpy in spots.  Oh what a beautiful island.  The red soil and greenery make it picturesque even away from  the coast which is never for very long.  The KOA is pretty and quiet and we don't feel like we are in a field.  No rain today but the mosquitoes and black flies are around but not so many as in Caraquet.  June bugs galore at night. 

Saturday June 13

Well I guess the clouds are following us. We woke up to rain so decided to do a driving tour. John and I went  west and enjoyed the views of idyllic farms and coastal scenery.  As we got further west toward the end of the island it became more rugged.  At Cape North there were many boats fishing lobster.  A local told us there would be a couple of hundred in this area today.  There are 2 lobster seasons around PEI; this one for the month  of June and then a fall season from  late August until October and they catch them in different places for each season. We went to Tignish for lunch at a homey restaurant called Cousin's.  Yummy.  Now the sun is out so we hope to get a bike ride in.  
Once back at camp we hopped on the bikes and enjoyed the trail along Cavendish beach.  We found a connecting trail closer to the campground.  The red cliffs along the beach are beautiful.
Dinner at Carr's Stanly Bridge Oyster Bar  was okay but some were disappointed at the meagre portions. I had the shellfish combo so had clams and quahogs as well as mussels and oysters.  Quahogs are larger clams.  Clams are saltier and chewier than mussels.  Oysters are the best and then mussels but at least I ventured out of my palate comfort zone. 
Now for the highlight of the day!  We went to New London to a ceilidh at the woman's institute.  Well, I have renamed this a "snaily".  Toe tapping in orthopaedic shoes was as lively as it got.  We were the youngsters for sure. You have to admire the spunk of the octogenarians however who were performing and there were even a couple of feeble hoots from the audience which looked a sea of cotton. At intermission we went out for a breath of air and didn't return.  Apparently there are many kinds of ceilidhs!

Sunday June 14

Cold, windy and rainy!  What to do?  Keane's and Greens decided to tour Charlottetown and despite being bundled up as if it was winter we quite enjoyed our self guided heritage walk and the waterfront.  Since Charlottetown is the "birth place of Confederation" there is much to see and read.  Lunch at a British style pub warmed us up considerably!  
We stopped to shop a bit at Canadian tire and went home to hunker down. 

Monday June 15

This was a sunny day and we wanted to pack in as much as we could.  A bike ride in the morning through Cavendish National Park was lovely with gorgeous coastal views after a ride through the woods, marsh and dunes.  Some hills were challenging but it was so good to get out in the fresh air and get some exercise.  We had a 2 o'clock tee time at Eagles Glen golf course so it was a bit of a rush getting lunch and getting to the course. It was a lovely golf course though the greens were shaggy and thank goodness we took power carts.   Bugs were fierce the last couple of holes. Dinner at Chez Yvonne just minutes from the Cavendish  KOA was good, much like home cooking.  

Tuesday June 16

We left PEI and had to drive through New Brunswick again for a short while before crossing into Nova Scotia toward Miragomish.  It was remote along the northern shore and we soon got to the Trans Canada Highway.  In hindsight we should have taken the ferry to Pictou from PEI.  It would have been more expensive than the bridge but much shorter.  Cranberry Campground was picturesque but wind and later rain put a damper on things.    Miragomish was a one night stop and we didn't tour but tried a bike ride, so windy!  At least that helped with bugs.  We played hearts with Haugh's  and kept warm and cozy! 
This was a tiny town but served the purpose of breaking up the drive to Cape Breton.  The campground was adequate and showers were hot.  This campground looks like a summer retreat for locals with many permanent trailers. 

Wednesday June 17

We arrived in Cape Breton around 10:30 and it is beautiful already!  Lunch in Baddeck was lovely at the Yellow Cello Cafe and we had purchased fresh lobster across the street from a local fisherman who was selling them from the back of his truck. John and I toured the Alexander Graham Bell museum and I was amazed by the depth of the man.  I always associated him with the invention of the telephone of course but he was much more  diverse than that being an aviation enthusiast, a conservationist, a teacher of the deaf, inventor of the phonetic alphabet and a forward thinker with a reputation for kindness. The KOA at New Harris about 20 minutes from Baddeck and close to North Sydney is quite scenic.  Lobster dinner cooked in a pot over the fire was delicious again and we enjoyed a campfire needing blankets and warm clothes for additional warmth.  The view from our perch near the top of the cliff is quite wonderful.  If it weren't for the bugs we would be in paradise.  I love the looking across the water, an arm of the Great Bras d'Or which is a lake here that has been designated as a Unesco site due to it's unique ecology and environment.  There is a green bridge that curves around and is beautiful.  That is the way to Sydney and the Newfoundland Ferry we will take on Sunday.

Thursday June 18

The Cabot Trail was more beautiful than I imagined!  We had a sunny day which was amazing since our weather hasn't been the greatest.  The time passed so quickly that it was hard to believe we were touring for nearly 9 hours!  We went clockwise so the spectacular vistas faced us.  The pullouts, and there were many, were on our left but it wasn't a problem.   We stopped at most of them.  Lunch at the Rusty Anchor in Pleasant Bay was delicious and we sat outside eating great food and basking in the sunshine and the view.  We took a short ferry at St. Ann's Bay and that left us only 15 minutes from home base. Thank goodness for the R Dome as a gathering place to stay warm and relatively bug free since the temperature dropped dramatically this evening!  We need more time to do justice to the Cabot Trail.  The Skyline Hike would be marvellous but you can't do it all in a day!  We stopped at the Highland Links golf course, a Stanley Thompson design, and one of the Canadian  Fab Four.  John would have loved to play this but maybe another time.  Keltic Lodge a luxurious but rustic style Inn would be the place to stay!  I would love to come back here! 

Friday June 19

Fortress Louisbourg is our touring destination today.  We had about an hour drive to this National Historic Site at the town in Nova Scotia with the same name. The rocky location on the shores of Cape Breton at a natural harbour gave us a wonderful glimpse into the turning points of the Anglo-French struggle for what is now Canada.  It is the largest reconstruction project in North America and although only 1/4 of the fortress town is there it is impressive.  You can walk around the ruins of the rest of the town.  We experienced some living history though busloads of school children were occupying most of the staff who were dressed in period costumes and role playing. The weather was cold and misty but this actually enhanced the experience since historically this is how the site is described.  Apparently it is always cold and misty at this location.  A highlight was lunch in the Hotel de la marine and Grandchamps Restaurant with costumed servers and chefs who make and serve authentic lower class French meals.  I had pea soup and soldier bread with cheese, Seamus and Caroline had fish soup with soldier bread and John had fried cod and vegetables.  Caroline and I had Rum Cake for dessert.   All was delicious.  We had only one utensil each, a lovely old pewter spoon that had a curved handle which could be used for putting sugar in tea and stirring.  The ridge on the back of the spoon is a great feature which keeps the spoon balanced and prevents dripping when you put it down.  Haugh's had visited this site before so they went to North Sydney and did laundry at a seedy place and noticed the town in general is in decline.  We pooled our resources and had a steak dinner in the R Dome, again allowing us to be together and keep the cold and the bugs out.  At least the rain stopped!  

Saturday June 20

Laundry Galore this morning and this afternoon the girls enjoyed some solo time and then puttering around a few shops at Baddeck.   We climbed up and down on the bumpy roads of the Rear Hill to a pottery place to be greeted only by dogs.  We could have made off with the whole collection since no one was home but the shop was open.   It has become apparent that even though it is getting on in June it's early for the tourists and places are not fully open if at all.  Ceilidhs are not easy to find let alone any kind of musical entertainment.  Most things don't get going until July.  The guys were golfing at Bell Bay and we planned to meet them at Thistledown Pub at Inverary resort associated but located a couple of miles from the course.  There was an entertaining singer playing while we had dinner.  

Sunday June 21

Farewell to Nova Scotia at least for John and I as we boarded the MV Atlantic Vision Ferry for Newfoundland this afternoon.  Keane's and Haugh's headed for Halifax.  We have enjoyed touring together and had lots of fun and laughs. It was a lot of waiting today but I enjoyed the anticipation since going to Newfoundland has been a dream for ages.  I am surprised at the size of the ferry, it is like a mini cruise ship and our berth is really a cabin, bigger than the R Pod so I am luxuriating in the space!  

Monday June 22 

Pippy Park Is where we landed today after the ferry crossing. From Argentia it was less than a 2 hour drive to St.  John's.  We really appreciated our "berths" since we had a good sleep after watching the U.S. Open. We weren't even expecting to have a TV!  Pippy  Park is a privately owned campground but is surrounded by green space including a golf course, and is very central in St. John's.  It was a short drive to Cape Spear, the easternmost point in Canada.  This site had beautiful cliffs and walkways with the view of the Narrows of St. John Harbour almost hidden but sparking curiosity. We could also see Signal Hill in the distance.   For that reason battlements were strategically placed there to guard and forewarn of enemy  U Boats during world war 2.  I can't help thinking of my dad and wondering where in Newfoundland he ended up after being rescued from a life raft in the North Atlantic.  I think he was on a merchant marine ship that was torpedoed.  Of course a light house, now a light station was very important at this vantage point.   The Cantwell family kept the lighthouse for 7 generations!  The last Cantwell visited only recently.  He was retired in the 50's from that job and now spends winters in Florida.  I can see why people have become angry and disheartened by the decommissioning of light houses.  That kind of dedication and knowledge deserves a high regard.  
Signal Hill can be seen from Cape Spear so we went there next.  This is another site with spectacular views and historically strategic battlements guarding the incredible narrows of St. John's harbour.  The harbour is spectacular and it was amazing to see boats heading toward the cliffs only to disappear and reappear in the large but secluded natural harbour.  Cabot Tower, commemorating John Cabot's discovery of America in the 1400's was under repair but there are many trails and information kiosks to describe the site.  From here we drove up and down and round and round to Quidi Vidi the historical village that was part of the tug and war between the French and English for control of the "New World".  The French had gun batteries there to defend Signal Hill, all part of the struggle to retain St.  John's in the 1700's.   What a picturesque little village with a secluded harbour and it still retains the integrity of the past.  The Quidi Vidi brewery drew us in but was just closing.  We bought a couple of their Iceberg beer brewed from water of very old icebergs of course.  Very tasty! 

Tuesday June 23

The Rooms 

What an amazing place!  This is a museum, art gallery and archive that is uniquely designed in a modern way.  It somehow reflects the past, present and future all at once.   Views of St. John's harbour, the narrows, Signal Hill and city scapes from the huge windows are stunning. As you look out at the city you see it all and what you are seeing within nails it.  I can't describe this place but I loved it. " Truth or Myth?" was an exhibit that moved me.  It's a collection of art work that I can't describe but it is about the culture and history of Newfoundland and Labrador.   What I loved was the haiku poetry written by Andy Jones, a local actor and writer.  His words were provocative and I felt the words.  A few tears.  Other exhibits of Labrador and wartime Newfoundland reminded me of old photos I saw as a child and I will dig them out when I get home. We went to the archives and again I was emotional.  I realized John was asking about what happened to survivors from WW 2  torpedoed ships brought to Newfoundland.  What happened to dad is a mystery but imagining it became easier in this venue today.  Obviously the experience drove him to move the family to Canada and I'm so fortunate to be Canadian. Loved this place. Lunch at the Celtic Hearth could have been in Edinburgh.  We also drove around town hoping to visit the Newmann Wine Vaults and the Commasariat House but they were both closed.  We have found some venues are not open daily until July.  

Wednesday June 24

We took a lovely Coastal  drive today on the Avalon Penninsula which included the Killick Coast to Torbay, the Admiral's coast to Brigus and Cupids and part of the Baccalieu Trail. We stopped at several vistas overlooking beautiful coves and harbours. 

Brigus a lovely English style town with winding roads and charming sites

The Hole in the Wall was made cut through the rock by hand for an English Captain who wanted a short cut to the wharf where he kept is boat.  

The lovely view through the hole

The archaeological site called Cupids Cove Plantation was discovered in 1995 and they are still uncovering artifacts and features of the settlement.  It is the first English settlement in Canada, established by John Guy in 1610. It's called a plantation simply because they were "planting settlers."  
A work in progress uncovering the old English settlement

Cupids just one of many Outports along Coastal Newfoundland

There are other archaeological sites along the Baccalieu Trail but this is the only one we visited.  Baccalieu means salt cod and we realized the word was familiar because that what it was called on the restaurant menus in Portugal.  Europe used to get their salt cod from Newfoundland but since the moratorium they get it from Norway.  We saw prosperous communities with many new houses being built.  We were told that most people work in St. John's, on the oil rigs of Hibernia or on the rigs out west.  Since the cod moratorium nearly 20 years ago Newfoundlanders have been forced to find other ways to make a living.  

Thursday June 25

We are on the road from St. John's to Bonavista in fog, drizzle and cold. The country side is sometimes looking like Ireland with no trees and rocks and boulders dominating.  Otherwise pine and tamarack prevail.  We are basically on the Trans Canada  most of the way. Gas is not readily available without going off the main highway.  We stopped at Arnold's Cove on the recommendation of a guy John talked to at a closed station. Of course 6 kilometres down the highway we came to 3 stations with easy access!  So much for that wrong impression. As we get closer to the Bonavista Peninsula the terrain is becoming more hilly, mountainous really and we are seeing many "ponds" and coves.  
Trinity from above...John hiked up the hill

Lots of History! 

Another cool shot from above the town with an old view on the board

Trinity is a town with a past that is worth a look. It was a very busy port and became a thriving merchant community eventually.  A Spaniard first found it and named it on Trinity Sunday in 1501 but it was settled later and as usual the French and English fought over it in their bids to colonize and pillage the resources of the New World.  You can tour 8 historic sites and enjoy lovely craft shops with amazing  knit products.  We had lunch at the dockside marina and it was lovely.  
 We continued on toward our campground and OMG!  first iceberg sighting!  Just a glimpse in the distance.  Paradise Farm RV Park is a misnomer but there are very few (none) parks at Bonavista.  The rocky terrain makes it impossible to have sewer hook ups but as we've seen in northern Ontario they could use honey wagons.  Anyway,  we weren't really comfortable there and stayed only one night instead of three as planned. After unhooking we headed up to the town of Bonavista less than 10 K up the road. The iceberg was visible again.  The town has about 5000 people and looks a bit run down but actually just looks northern.

 We drove through town and up to the Cape Bonavista lighthouse and saw a big iceberg, likely the one we had glimpsed from afar on the way up. 

 As with most coastal communities here it was once very important to the merchant ships and cod fishing to have a lighthouse.  We toured the lighthouse and again marvelled at stark and rocky terrain and how the lighthouse keepers managed especially in winter!  Waves crashing on high rocky cliffs gave us only a all glimpse of the power of nature at this point. What if it were windy or storming?  That would be something!  We hunkered down for another cold and rainy night and crib master of the world prevailed.  

Friday June 26 

On the road again and you can guess the weather.  The coastal roads have spectacular scenery but pothole watching is a distraction.  We are heading to Twilingate and if not better weather hopefully a better campground.  It is much better with people around and views and laundry and showers I'll be able to handle!  Can't do anything about the weather but it looks like there's lots to do here. 
We arrived at Twilingate in the mid afternoon to rain of course but you can see what a beautiful place this is.  The campground, Peyton's Woods, is dated but clean and friendly with good facilities especial compared to the last place.  I love our site and there are lots of others here.  We went up to the Long Point Lighthouse and saw icebergs and spectacular views.  This area has so much coastline it is hard to believe.  Bights, bays, coves, arms,tickles, harbours, beaches and whatever other names are given to the coastal formations, abound!  There are hiking trails all around and in amongst the cliffs and ups and downs are lovely little homes and shops.  Several boat tour companies offer iceberg and whale watching and a couple of local museums beckon.  Tomorrow we will take a closer look.  

Saturday, June 27

This morning we toured the Twilingate Museum which is locally run and housed in the old rectory.  They have many artifacts and of course this is another Outport with a history of fishing and fighting between the French and English.  Toulenget is the original French name but has been anglicized.  Then we went to the Durrell  museum, the Armed Lads Brigade building which was started by a fellow no one can remember to give the errant young men of the community a sense of discipline and purpose.  The brigade actually gave such good training that young men from there were much appreciated during World Wars 1 and 2.  Strange artifacts are housed in the museum, not just the history of the brigade but sewing machines, vintage clothing and a polar bear that wander into town in 2000.  Yes, it's stuffed but what a story!  
From there we toured Auk winery which is a very interesting enterprise that is growing rapidly.  

Many of the wines are from berries but there are some from Quebec grapes.  
After lunch we went back toward Long Point where we had seen hiking trails.  John did a couple of hilly hikes along the rugged coast while I hobbled around on my hopefully healing foot which has been acting up for a couple of weeks (FUA's!). 

 I'm trying to get it in shape for a 2 mile walk to the boat tour we want to take in Gros Morne.  
It was remarkable to see the sun and what a difference it makes to the scenery which was already breathtaking and of course to our state of mind which was really getting sick of the drab grey weather!!  
This evening we went to the Playhouse at Crow's Head (also part of Twilingate) to a fun evening called a dinner theatre.  The players cooked and served the meal which you pre-ordered.  John and I had lobster, mussels and salad and dessert was included.  It was lovely!  The show consisted of accordion and guitar music as well as the spoons and the ugly instrument which is a cross between a mop and a broom with beer caps attached?  Hard to explain but one fellow could really get it going.  There were a series of skits in between musical numbers which verged on the ridiculous but at times I had tears of laughter.  Good old Newfie humour?

Sunday June 28

I'm sitting on a patch of moss and grass on French's Beach on south Twilingate enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of the ocean.  My only company is a big black raven.  John has gone on the loop hike and I feel like I could do it but I'm still trying to rest my foot to prepare for hikes in Gros Morn.  what a glorious day.  This morning we went with Twilingate Adventure Tours out to the iceberg which has been grounded for a few days.  It's a thrill to see one from shore but the experience on a boat is much more exciting, up close and personal.  Kim was our guide and her brother the skipper.  As we passed the tranquil waters of the harbour the swells increased and it was wonderful to see the waves crashing on the rocky shores. 
Kim named all the tickles, beaches and coves and explained how Twilingate is really 2 islands.  It is an outport that was popular for fishing because of its versatile and extensive coastline with varying degrees of depths ideal for cod.  Her father fished for 30 years, her brother for 20 and herself for 6.  The moratorium changed all that.  As we got close to the iceberg Kim explained many details and nuances I would never have imagined.  It was a smooth one meaning it had rolled getting rid of jagged edges.  She guessed it went 150 to 190 feet.  What a thrill to get close to this 10,000 year old wonder!  It would have been travelling for 3 years so imagine how big it was when it started.  We thought that was it but then she told us we were going out to the big floater. This was a pinnacle with sharp peaks that was much bigger and had all kinds of features.  It  had been around yesterday and they thought it would be too far out to be accessible but perhaps because of the tide currents it hadn't moved off.  So we circled it a couple of times and heard the sizzling of the growlers which are the pieces that break off and make an awesome noise due to bubbles.  This is what appears as white ice due to millions of bubbles.  The blue ice is much harder and has no bubbles and the green ice is really a reflection of the mass below. 

Monday June 29

The drive from Twillingate to Deer Lake in rain of course was uneventful but there were changes in the terrain.  Deer Lake itself looks more like a town in Ontario with a sandy beach and a more organized town structure as opposed to the higglety piggelty set up of the  Outport fishing communities.  We just wanted some exercise from the long sit so after checking into Gateway to the North RV Park we found the municipal path along the beach and walked for a while.  

My foot is getting better each day and I know I will be ready for the walk into Western Brook Pond in Gros Morne on Canada day.  We saw some lovely homes in Deer Lake and realize the main economy here is the airport since you can fly direct to and from Toronto.  People from further north, in Gros Morne Outports come down here to get their main groceries etc. but I found it quite lacking.  I am a spoiled shopper from a wee Ontario town.  The RV Park is so-so.  It is not particularly well kept but it is early in the season in the North so I am not sure how fair a judgement that is.  One shower was out of order and there is not much privacy in there.   We have changed our minds about staying here again on the way down from Gros Morne.  

Tuesday June 30

The drive from Deer Lake to Rocky Harbour was spectacular.  It should have taken an hour but construction slowed us down.  As soon as we got into Gros Morne Park things changed.  Mountains and forests and lakes and beauty I can hardly describe.  We like the campground and it is well kept with good facilities. We went to Lobster cove Head and had an interpretive guide, then to Berry Hill hike which soon became Beary Hill since John saw one just ahead on the trail. We also hiked around Berry Pond and saw much evidence of moose.  The beavers have been very busy there.  It was quite cool today and overcast though no downpours at least.  

Wednesday July 1

HAPPY CANADA DAY!  The sun is out full force today and that is wonderful since we drove up to Western Brook Pond to take the much anticipated boat tour.  This is not really what we think of as a pond except in Newfoundland where all fresh water is a pond no matter how large.  The 3 to 4 K walk in was lovely through a peat bog along boardwalks and well worn trails.  The wind was up in the open and the views of the peaks ahead were teasing us.  Once at the Pond there were lovely facilities where you could get lunch and enjoy the views and information boards about the incredible formations of the mountains.  We were early, which was just fine since it was such a nice place to be.  We met a couple from Kitchener who are also staying in Gros Morne RV Park at Rocky Harbour where we are.  We enjoyed their company while on the boat tour.  This was a 2 hour trip around the pond with guides explaining geological features and details about the area.  There are 3 tour boats that were brought in by sled or helicopter in parts since there is no road into the pond.  This was fabulous and the pictures will do a much better job describing the beauty than I could!  

Thursday July 2

Today we drove back toward Deer Lake for about an hour to get around the The East Arm and the South Arm (bodies of water that jut in from the gulf) and over to the Tablelands.  This would be a short trip by ferry from Norris Point which is close to Rocky Harbour but the ferry is pedestrian only and we would not have wanted to walk everywhere!

The Tablelands discovery centre is excellent and we were especially interested in the geological explanations since Gros Morne has so many features that are evidence of very old upheavals and events that carved the earth and are on show in this amazing place.  Several hikes start from there so we did The Lookout which was quite steep but not too long.  It took about an hour to get up to an incredible view point looking over the Tablelands, Bonne Bay, Norris Point and beautiful hills and valleys.  The Red Chair Challenge was at the top and without intending too we did it!  I wonder how they got the chairs up?  Red Muskoka style chairs have been placed at beautiful venues all over the Maritimes and make for great photo opportunities. My ankles held up but I was a bit slow going down.  I'm on the mend from whatever was going on with my foot.  We had thought we'd do 2 hikes but this one wore us out so we headed back to Rocky Harbour to the fresh fish market and got halibut and scallops.  I am becoming such a seafood connoisseur!  First time cooking halibut steak and it was delicious with a garlic, lemon, basil and caper vinaigrette.  Good old Google!  

Friday July 3 

First of all....Happy Birthday Ange! 

It was a laundry day and I met an interesting fellow from North Carolina.  It is amazing in my travels how many men I have met at the laundromat!  This gentleman is 77 and they are on the road for 2 months.  He is well travelled and we had a lovely chat and a serious money exchange.  He wanted "ones" but I surely clarified the situation with looney and tooney talk.  

It wasn't cold but mosquitoes were horrid which is why John had his hood up!  Not far from the beach were bogs and marshes and ponds like this with lots of evidence of moose.  

At the end of the river pouring into the ocean fly fishermen were enjoying themselves

The cliff in the background is famous for it's examples of rock dating from different ages.  It is used by geologists as a timeline of sorts for dating the history of the earth.

 John and I were on another hike, this time to Green Point Coastal Trail.   This was a walk along the rocky beach with drift wood and debris which I would say came up in high waves and storms and gave the coast character.  
Iris and sweet pea and other hardy plants were growing in the most unlikely places.  The Tuckamore was so evident here thank goodness since I had heard about it and was so curious because of the name.  

In other coastal areas they may call it a Maritime Forest.  Trees that are stunted and bent from the harsh conditions of the wind, cold and salt of the ocean become bent and form amazing shapes.  But only in Newfoundland do they give it a name that evokes the conditions so well!  You could crawl into the Tuckamore.  It was neat in there.  Then 
there was a fork in the road.  You could choose between the large rocks on the beach or the mosquito infested woods, near the beach.  We did the tough beach walk one way and the bug infested walk the other. It was beautiful with the Red Chair Challenge at the end.  Lovely.  

John was back at the fish market this morning buying fresh salmon and cod.  We had the cod tonight and a few brain cells kicked in remembering how Mum did it.  Soak the fish in egg and milk and dip it in light batter.  I used flour mixed with fine bread crumbs and Old Bay spice.  Pan fry in oil.  Not a deep fry but a light fry.  Olive oil with butter works well.  It was sooooooo good!  Salmon tomorrow.  

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sat. July 5/14 Regua to Porto with a tour of Guimaraes

We set sail for Porto early in the morning and I spent as much time as possible on deck taking in the sights.  We didn't arrive in Porto until approximately 2 p.m. but it was no hardship relaxing on board despite a cooler and partially overcast day.  There was more recreational activity on the River this time perhaps because it was the weekend.  John and I were keen on seeing a "campground."

 Porto was just as fascinating as it was when we left.  The colours, sights and sounds of this city are wonderful. This afternoon we chose to take a tour by bus to the nearby town of Guimaraes, known as the "Cradle of the Nation."This is due to the intertwining of its history with that of the country.  It is a UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE  site since 2001 and was designated in 2012 as the European Capital of Culture.  We thoroughly  enjoyed our tour of the castle which dates back to the 10th century and then a walk through the exceptionally well preserved Medieval streets of the city center.  To add to the atmosphere, preparations were being made for "The White Night" festival,  with elaborate decorations and entertainers  setting up.  "White Night" is something that originated in St. Petersburg (so I heard) when it does not get dark. It has caught on all over the world and is really an excuse to party all night!  People here were going all out though not everyone appreciates it I am told.   

The old Castle

Unique galleries and stores 

Love the laundry

White decorations

Tiny streets, lovely squares, strange sculpture

 What a beautiful city and we only got the tip of the iceberg in terms of the history.  Now back to Porto for our last night on board and I was feeling a bit sad.  Tomorrow, on to the Porto airport to fly to Frankfort and then home.  
Marvellous trip! We saw amazing sights and met wonderful people.  I would love to go back to Portugal.  

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