A Travellerspoint blog

Back Home and What Preceded

September 22 and we are home. The boler has been unpacked and the laundry done.

Tony and I are bad at finishing off our blogs near the end of a trip. So here are the last few days of trip.

September 14th to Monday 16th
We spent these days with my friend Janny who has a cute little house in St. John's. She is an avid hiker and she took us on some of her favourite hikes around the St. John's area.

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In Front of Janny's House

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Hiking with Janny and her friend Maggie and Flat Rock a favourite swimming hole with the locals (we forgot our suits)

Every morning Tony would get up early and go up to Signal Hill and watch the ocean and a sunrise if there was one. It took the place of his early morning walks back home.

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At Fort Amherst we watched a lake freighter come into the harbour. Fort Amherst is on the other side of the harbour from Signal Hill. The freighter appropriately was registered in St. Catharines, where Janny and I grew up.

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View of the Battery and Downtown from Fort Amherst

We had a great time with Janny and we really enjoyed our time in St. John's. But it was time to go home.

Tuesday September 17, we left St. John's for our trek across Newfoundland to Port aux Basque. We didn't have time for sightseeing and picture taking. This was a long haul and the weather was great for travelling. When we got to Port aux Basque we had time to stop for dinner at the St. Christopher. We had Cod Tongues as an appetizer. Cod Tongues are gelatinous bits of flesh from the throat /neck of the cod. Like lobster it used to be cheap food but now has moved up the culinary chain.

After our dinner we headed to the ferry line and waited to board. We didn't get a cabin for our overnight sailing - big mistake. We thought the reclining chairs would be good enough for a few hours of sleep (we had our pillows and a blanket). It was far to noisy so we paid for some recliners in a reserved area. These recliners had a foot rest but still not very comfortable. Tony ended up sleeping on the floor but I opted for the chair. The area was quieter but as everyone was there to sleep the snoring was a distraction. Tony didn't snore, in case you were wondering. I also found out that some people can snore while sitting upright. Not a feat anyone should be proud of.

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The boler tucked away for the sailing

After a 5 hour drive we arrived back home and immediately had a nap in our own queen size bed.

All in all we had an excellent trip and wouldn't hesitate to do it again, minus the Labrador highway part. We had no car or trailer problems on the road. We travelled with two spares for the car and one for the boler. They took up a lot of room but I guess we should view it as insurance. A couple of days after arriving home the car showed signs of the ordeal it had gone through. Two wheel bearings needed to be replaced and one tire had a huge spike in it and it had begun to leak. We think the spike may have been in the tire for 1,000 km. See photo below of the nasty spike.

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Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 06:49 Comments (0)

St. John's

Well I guess it is my turn to blog. Tony is off doing laundry. It is raining today (Thursday) and everything feels damp.

We arrived in St. John’s on Tuesday. We are camping in Pippy Park. It is right in the city and pretty close to the Legislation Buildings and the airport. The sites are quite nice but all the notices warning us about thefts in the area are not comforting. The washrooms and showers are run down but clean and the water is hot, so we are happy.

Yesterday we wandered downtown St. John’s. We started at the top and worked our way down, like a switch back when you are hiking. Earlier Tony had gone out for his early morning ramble and from Signal Hill he watched a huge cruise ship come into the harbour. I think we ran into everyone of the 3,080 passengers from the Caribbean Princess. They were filming a scene from the Republic of Doyle so we watched that for awhile but the cruise ship passengers didn’t even seem to notice.

St. John’s has changed a lot since I lived here over 20 years ago. The downtown streets are still colourful but there are a lot more businesses and the harbour is now restricted access in some parts. Twenty years ago you could walk along the whole length. A lot of the houses downtown have cute little mailboxes.

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It is now Saturday morning and I am back to blogging. We are at my friend Janny’s house right now. She lives in a cute little house in St. John’s not far from Pippy Park.

So back to Wednesday. After our wander downtown we went to Cape Spear the most easterly point in Canada. Again we encountered cruise ship passengers by the busload. Then off to Petty Harbour for lunch. Petty Harbour is a cute little fishing village, a little bigger than I remember and also more touristy. We had lunch at Chafe’s Landing and while waiting in line for a table (this is after 1 pm in the afternoon) we see Alan Doyle and Sean McCann of “Great Big Sea” also waiting for a table. Of course they got seated before us. Alan grew up in Petty Harbour and chatted for a few minutes. They are getting ready for their 28th tour. The food at the restaurant was also good. We had moose sausages and fish (cod) & chips.

Thursday was rainy so we spent time at the mall and in the car. Not to exciting. Tony took a picture of me in front of my old house on Sudbury Street. That evening we met up with Janny at the Flauvarium for a book launch by Ann Bludgell a former CBC reporter. She had access to journals and letters of a woman who moved to Labrador from Park Avenue. I’m looking forward to reading it.

Friday we moved over to Janny’s place to spend a few days with her before heading home. It was a beautiful day in St. John’s so we decided to do a day trip to Cape St. Mary’s (a bird sanctuary) about 2 hours from the city. Well it may have been a great day in St. John’s but not so nice in Cape St. Mary’s. Fog and rain. At times we couldn’t see more than 250 metres in front of us. The fog horn was sounding constantly. We did the hike out to the point where only the gannets are nesting right now. They make a lot of noise, it must be even louder when they are all here. Most of the other birds and their chicks left in the latter part of August. The short hike was worth it but our pictures were not that great. The locals free range their sheep there through the summer so you have to be careful not to step in sheep shit.

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On our return trek the weather improved and was nice once we got to St. John’s. We asked at the Visitor’s Centre just outside St. John’s about a good affordable restaurant. Velma’s was recommended but she thought that they had moved from their Water Street location. They phoned and said the new address was 32 George Street. So we tried to find it. We didn’t succeed. George Street was hopping but we were told this wasn’t anything “ wait for the young kids to come out at 10 pm or 11 pm”. Since we couldn’t find the restaurant and all the other places had line-ups we got a cab and went back to Janny’s. We ordered a pizza and had some beer, Janny was out for dinner with some friends. We were in bed before Janny got home.

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Me in front of my old house in St. John's - 21 Sudbury Street.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 03:46 Comments (0)

Twillingate

All right weather gods, we get the message. This time it was not rain, it was wind and lots of it. We arrived at Dildo Run Provincial Park (name comes from the shape of an offshore island and the channel runs along side it) in relative calm weather, set up camp and put up the boler’s original canvas tarp. Our goal was to visit the area around Twillingate which is noted for it’s quaint ports and it’s designation as ‘iceberg alley’ We knew up front that iceberg season is long over but it looks like a nice area to visit and the scenery is reputed to be spectacular and hiking trails abound.

By the time we finished supper winds were blowing 20-30 kph so we adjourned to the boler for an early evening of reading, with plans to do some hiking in the morning along the shore. Overnight the winds increased and the boler was rocking by morning. It was blowing so hard (really 40-50 kph) we could not even make coffee on the Coleman stove outdoors. I’m sure you all understand by now that my day starts with coffee, without coffee I m grumpy and sullen. We headed for Twillingate to find breakfast only to discover that the town freaking shuts down the day after Labour Day, and here it is a full week after the holiday. Well, this only made things worse...we finally found a hotel that does a Continental Breakfast for $7 a head, so we scarfed down toast and coffee (or a poor substitute for coffee) and headed out to enjoy our day.

Well, by now the winds are blowing 50-60 kph with gusts to 80 and that is the way it is going to be. Well, we know the boler tarp will not stand this kind of wind, so we race back to the campground and sure enough, the tarp is taking a beating, so we take it down, fold it up and head off determined to find something positive for our day...it is only 10 am at this point.

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Blow Me Down Lane

We did a short wind blown hike and toured a museum, where the staff tell us this weather in not uncommon and that the revised forecast is for more and more wind for the entire day and most of tomorrow now too. At this point it is only 2 pm, so, we did what we do best, we stopped at a grocery store, bought a Caesar Salad in a package and headed back to the boler, where we wiled away the afternoon reading and drinking wine and eating our salad for supper.

I was able to scrape together coffee to get us on the road in the morning, headed for St. John`s and a week in the city before we return to the valley!

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 07:26 Comments (0)

Gros Morne Hiking

In our last three days at Gros Morne we were plagued by rainy weather and this affected our hiking to some degree. We got in a guided walk of the Tablelands, during which our Parks Canada guide, Alice, explained the geology of this particular area. It seems that millions and millions of years ago a piece of the earth’s mantle (long technical explanation avoided here...just take our word for it) came up from around 100 miles deep and protruded above the ground. There are just 4 examples of this around the world and Gros Morne has one of them. All kinds of weird and unusual rocks abound here. Alice knows her stuff...she likes rocks.

Also odd plants, such as the Sundew, which eats bugs and the Pitcher Plant, which also eats bugs, but in a slightly different way. The midge fly lays its eggs in the Pitcher plant and when the eggs hatch, the larvae are necessarily hungry, so they eat whatever insects manage to fall into the pitcher and then it poops...the Pitcher plant eats the fly larvae poop. Well, I guess it is still possible to learn new things, even at my advanced age. The walk was fun, and absorbed most of a fairly sunny morning, about 4 kilometers in total.

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JR – Alice had us take the liquid out of a pitcher plant so that we could see the insects and poop that had collected in the collected water.

We ate our lunch, and headed off for the Lookout walk, another relatively short hike, at 4 kilometers round trip. The only issue with this walk is it goes straight up the friggin’ mountain, for crying in your soup. A full thousand feet, 300 meters of elevation change. Well, it took us 1 hour and 20 minutes to climb the thing, and here is a picture of us at the top, just to prove it. We also met a female moose and baby on the climb, just sitting there under a tree watching the stupid people sweating their butts off climbing up the hill.

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Getting to he top also had a second benefit besides working our lungs and legs. It had a massive field of blueberries for us to munch on to help recover enough energy to go back down the hill. Going up is a slog, going down is slippery and your shins and knees complain the whole way down. The downward leg of the hike took just 48 minutes, making our whole hike 2 hours and 8 minutes.

So, we did about 8 kilometers for the whole day and polished off a bottle of wine and a beer each upon our return to our campsite. For the life of me I cannot remember what we had for supper.

We survived a rain day by doing some touring in the car and woke to full sunshine on the morning of our last day...but we did have wind which negated our plans to hike Green Gardens, which heads out to the shore and some sea caves. The rain the previous day and the wind of the morning made this hike less than desirable. A very weak plan B involved a relatively flat hike inland along side Trout River Pond, an ‘out and back’, as opposed to a ‘loop hike’, along another of the park’s land locked fjords. This hike offered spectacular views, potential wildlife sightings and up to 14 kilometers round trip if you went all the way to the end and back.

Well! Muddy does not even begin to describe this beauty of a hike. I’m surprised we went as far as we did, but we kept thinking it might get better around the next bend, or over this little up spot. Before you knew it we were 5 kilometers out before the hike got good. The end result was a lovely hike for 1 hour and to hell and back for the the other 3 and 1/2 hours. We were pretty muddy when we got back to the campground and by the time we got back the forecast was for rain, and lots of it, so we ended the day by taking down our tarps and packing up everything for the upcoming trip to Twillingate. We slept through some pretty heavy rain overnight and were up and at it bright and early in the morning so we could get on the road.

In summary, we spent 8 nights at Gros Morne and could have spent twice that amount of time. But the weather did not fully cooperate and we could not attempt the monster hike up Gros Morne mountain (16 kilometers, 8 hours, 800 meters of elevation change) because of the weather, but we will come again when our other travel plans are done, but for now, we must move on.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 07:25 Comments (0)

The Kitchen Party

It all started with the bear...if not for the bear, this party would not have happened. Jenn and I had finished our hiking for the day, a monster trek straight up from the Discovery Centre at Gros Morne and our encounter with the moose. But that is another part of the story. We arrived back at our campground at Trout River around 4:30 pm. Our camp ranger, Sharon, told us there was a black bear in the area and to keep our eyes open for it. We’d already seen bear poop on the road earlier that day and we were good campers with our food out of where a bear might get tempted to help himself.

The kitchen shelter and comfort station was right next to our campsite. Normally we tend to stay farther away from all the activity that a comfort station would provide, but there were only 4 other campsites, out of 43 in the campground, filled that night. The first couple we encountered was Joe and Linda, dropped in to the shelter to introduce themselves. Turns out they are from my home town of Sarnia, Ontario, so we had lots to chat about. Then another Joe dropped in, this one from Saskatoon, along with his 12 year old son, Jacob. They came in to do dishes. Turns out they’d seen the bear the previous night, right across from the comfort station. , Joe, from Saskatoon, is a teacher who is on sabbatical and he and Jacob are on a year long tour of the world.

We’d seen Joe and Jacob out on an escorted hike to the Tablelands, again, another part of our story.

So, Joe and Linda and Joe and Jacob depart our kitchen shelter, well, not ours, but we had the fire in the woodstove, so we were not planning on leaving any time soon. I decided it was time to get the makings of supper, and stepped out of the shelter and was almost face-to-face with the bear. He was no more than 30 paces up the road from our shelter. He looked up at me, stopped for a couple of seconds and then moseyed on his way into campsite 38, just two down from ours. I pushed my chin back up in place from where it had fallen and called for Jenn to come see. We raced on over to the boler and looked out back to see the bear just a couple of sites over, nose down looking for scraps. I tried to get a picture, but the light was poor, so this will be a story sans picture.

We went over to warn Joe and Linda that the bear was in the campground and thought we had better include Joe and Jacob as well. Soon all six of us were in the kitchen shelter, chatting about the experience. By now it was closing in on 7:00 pm and none of us were very worried about the bear...in fact we were all having a beer or some wine and starting to enjoy the evening. About this time the party really got interesting. A Ford Escape pulled up bearing the campers from site 21, way down at the end of the campground. John and Felicia, two native Newfoundlanders, had been enjoying the evening, John cooking a steak on the campfire when the bear appeared out of the woods, apparently seeking an invite to their meal. Well, John ran him off and they finished their supper and came down to our end of the campground to tell us about the bear and found us a few beer ahead of them, although not many because they were also carrying, John a beer and Felicia a beer glass full of white wine!

Now these two may be the friendliest people we have ever met in our lives. We had a round house discussion about the bear...my opinion, about 300+ pounds, John, maybe just a young’un of 200 pounds...we split the difference and decided it was a 250 pound bear!

By the time this discussion was over, with everyone adding their input, we were all fast friends. John pulled a cooler of beer out of the Escape, and the rest of us gathered our various types of alcoholic beverages, as well as snack food, and before you could say “gee wilikers”, a Newfoundland kitchen party broke out. Conversation flowed like fine wine and so did the beer. Turns out John was a student rep for Molson Breweries at Memorial University in St. John’s and seemed to have an unlimited supply on his person.

About a half hour later music was suggested and before you know it, John had a guitar, so did Joe from Saskatoon, and Joe from Sarnia pulled out a harmonica. We kept stoking the wood stove and the party continued into the wee hours of the night. Felicia had a lovely voice and used it to back who ever was singing at the time. John was a good singer both he and Joe, from Saskatoon, good on the guitar. Saskatoon Joe, also writes songs and sang a few of his own! It seems that Sarnia Joe can accompany just about any song on the harmonica.

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John and Felicia

This night was a highlight of our vacation and we shall have fond memories of both the evening and the lovely people we met during it. We did get a picture of John and Felicia the next morning before they departed for St. Anthony. Needless to say, the hangover limited our hiking experiences for the next day.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 07:06 Comments (0)

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