Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Newfoundland Wrap Up

There were three things we were most looking forward to seeing in Newfoundland; whales, icebergs and puffins. All were said to be, not necessarily common, but doable when visiting the coastlines. So far, we have seen none of these. As a matter of fact when we were on Pilley’s Island the owner of the brewery talked when THE iceberg was in the area and how they had visitors from all around the world to see it. It sounds like it is an event, not a common occurrence. Oh well, at that time we still had over a week left so maybe there is still a chance to see a whale tail or two and perhaps a colony of puffins!

Our route the last few days
After leaving Twillingate we drove to the town of Gander which was just to be an overnight spot on our way further east. Our friend Jim from Michigan told me that Gander had an interesting story around 9/11 so Barb looked it up to get the details.

When the planes crashed into the twin towers on 9/11 all flights into the U.S. were ordered to land immediately. Well, 38 of them landed in Gander. A town with an airport big enough for the airliners to land but not big enough accommodate the nearly 7,000 travelers that were on them.

The community of Gander opened their homes to the passengers, housing and feeding them for the next four days. There is a book that recounts the tale; The Day the World Came to Town.

iOverlander had a great free spot listed just outside of town at a secluded boat ramp. Plenty of room for one large rig or several small rigs. Ends up we had the place to ourselves.

Barb and I were in bed reading, enjoying the peace and quiet. It was 10:00pm and we were just ready to turn off the lights and go to sleep when our phones started blowing up with texts and pictures from our friends Kevin and Cheryl as well as Dan and Bonnie back in South Dakota. Apparently they had gotten together and were having a good time without us! Well, not really without us as they broke out the Jim and Barb cutouts and were having a good time with us! We had been telling them about all the rain we have gotten since we have been here and they decided to have a little fun at our expense dressing our cutout characters up in rain suits and an umbrella depicting us in rainy Newfoundland while it is sunny and 80 in South Dakota.

They called a few times over the next hour or so maybe not realizing that we were 3 ½ hours ahead of them, or perhaps they were having too much fun and did not care. I suspect it was the latter. I am sure glad that we can entertain from thousands of miles away!

The next morning we packed up and continued east. Our destination for the day; Cape Bonavista. But we had several sights we were hoping to see along the way. We turned off the TCH (Trans Canada Highway) onto 233, then 230 and eventually 235 to the town of Tickle Cove who was said to have a pretty cool sea arch. The roads were on the rough side. Not bad if you had a car or even campervan but I don’t think I would take our setup down there again. You just have to go too slow. It was worth it though, the sea arch was pretty spectacular.

Plus Barb did a couple of her soon to be infamous Instagram poses!

We had to backtrack a few miles as we made our way to Cape Bonavista, Dungeon Provincial Park. They had a lighthouse there that was pretty cool.

But it what else was there that blew us away….. Puffins!! 

Hundreds and hundreds of puffins on a rock island right off of shore. Barb and I sat there for over an hour just watching them, taking pictures and soaking it all in. My friend Doug from Wisconsin called the other day and asked me what the coolest thing we have seen so far in Newfoundland was, and I struggled to answer him. “The scenery I guess” is how I answered. Had  he called after this stop I would have said “The puffins, definitely the puffins!” For some reason I am just enthralled with them! Such a goofy looking bird.

We finally saw one of the three things we were looking for! Happy, we made our way to the town of Catalina where we parked at the public library for the night. I was able to connect to their internet and work on a blog post. Since we got rid of our hotspot, writing and keeping up on other people's blogs while on the road has been a challenge.

The next day we made our way back to the TCH, southeast to the town of Dildo. I mean, how can you not stop at a town named Dildo? Especially when they have a brewery!?!?

If you do not think that is enough reason to stop, how about the giant squid that was found floating in the water in 1933. A massive 22’ long!

But wait, there’s more! Not only does Dildo have a brewery and a giant squid, there is also a distillery in nearby Clarke’s Beach. The Newfoundland Distillery makes rum, gin, vodka and something called Aquavit. This is the first distillery we have ever stopped at so we really did not know what to do there. But looking at the menu options they have tastings, 3, 4 and 5, one ounce tastings, just like a flight of beer! Barb opted for the 3 sample tasting while I got the 4.  They also provide a tonic that pares well with a particular spirit.  

All would have been fine had we not gotten a new server who uses the 2 ounce measurer instead of the 1 ounce. By the time we left there we had to crash in the camper for an hour or so before we were off for our next destination; a road side pull-off just off the TCH.

As we were heading into the St. John’s area we started seeing a lot of billboards along the side of the road. We had been driving a couple hours and like a lot of couples who have been married for over 35 years, neither of us had spoken a word in over an hour as we took in the scenery and now started reading all the billboards along the side of the road. All of a sudden Barb shouts “Cold Beer!” Or at least it seemed like she shouted it as we had been quiet for so long. “What?” I said? “That sign back there said Cold Beer”. Leave it to Barb, of all the signs we read along the road, she would blurt out that one!

We had reservations at Pippy Park Campground but it was well before check-in time so we decided to drive up to the Cape Spear Lighthouse area and check that out. BEST STOP EVER! No, they did not have cold beer but what they did have was whales!

A pod of probably 10-12 Humpback whales were feeding just off shore and kept us entertained for over an hour as we watched them surface, roll, blow and feed just off shore. They were not surfacing real high, maybe a foot or two but we each took hundreds of pictures hoping to get a few that were decent. These are some of the better ones.

While we were there the fog moved in. You can actually see it approaching and it is amazing how quickly it moves in! And with it the temperature drops dramatically.

By that time, it was time to check into the park. We checked in, drove to our loop and saw nothing but classic cars in many of the sites. How cool is that?!?!

The National Association of Automobile Clubs of Canada Cross Canada Tour begins right here in Pippy Park Campground on June 27th and ends in Duncan, B.C. on September 5th. Now that would be an interesting adventure!

While we were in St. John’s we had several things on our list besides the Cape Spear Lighthouse area. We went to the Quidi Vidi Brewery and Quidi Vidi Village.

We walked downtown and the waterfront...... a lot of the houses here are built into the hillside and are row type houses....
And of course no visit to St. John’s is complete without visiting the Roadside Attraction of the Newfoundland and Labrador Retriever statues!

Then there was the event that everyone who heard we were coming to Newfoundland said we just HAD to do. Getting “Screeched In”! What is that you ask? This ceremony turns a visitor into an honorary Newfoundlander and involved listening to a barkeeps pomp, repeating a few local sayings, kissing a cod and a shot or two of rum.  In Alaska we got Hyderized and had a Sour Toe Cocktail so how could we pass up this opportunity?!?! We went to Christian's Pub in the heart of St. John's. I tried doing a video but the bar was so crowded and it was too dark for anything to come out decent. You will just have to take our word for it, it was a blast and totally worth doing if you are here!

So, we are now honorary Newfoundlanders but, our time here in Newfoundland is coming to an end. We crossed off two of the three things on our "Hoped to See" list. Puffin's and whales.... but wait! 

Then finally. just before we were leaving town, what should our eyes see? Icebergs! 6  of them huddled together in a little cluster. We managed to get a picture of 2 of them before they evaporated!
They will be make their way home with us. Today we will start make the 560 mile drive back to Port aux Basques where we catch the ferry back to Nova Scotia which will start us on a new quest. The search for the best chowder (and beer) in Nova Scotia!

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Gros Morne to Twillingate!

So, I got pulled over by the Facebook police the other day. They let me go with a warning but if my behavior continued my account would be suspended. Apparently, the word "kidnap" is not allowed in the Facebook world and just using it will trigger all sorts of mayhem. I was commenting to someone that they better be careful or we would kidnap them and all hell broke loose. Messages, deletions, warnings, followed by a list of rules. And this did not just happen for that one day, the warnings continued multiple times over the next few days. So be warned, if we are thinking of kidnapping you, we will not post it on Facebook first!

You know how I said the other day that the sound of rain on the roof of the camper was so peaceful and relaxing? Well, after 36 hours of it I think Barb was getting ready to go all Glenn Close on me. It's a good thing we did not have a pet rabbit in the camper or we might have had hasenpfeffer for supper!

As such, we did not get out on any long hikes during this rainy period. We did drive around a lot and got in some smaller hikes when the rain stopped or just slowed down to a drizzle. Barb had read that there was a shipwreck on the shore about 30 minutes north of Berry Hill Campground so we headed up there to check it out. The S.S. Ethie (click that link for a very interesting story about the ship) ran aground on December 11th, 1919. The steamship was powered by both steam and sail when she got caught up in a storm risking the lives of all aboard. It is hard to believe that over 100 years later the saltwater has not eaten all that remains of her. 

The shoreline is littered with the wreckage for several hundred yards in each direction. The rains really brought out the colors and variations in the rocks and made for some beautiful pictures.

On the way back, there was a lull in the rain so we decided to take the dogs for a 4k walk around a pond. The trail was a combination of paths and boardwalks. At one point Zoey jumped off the boardwalk into a water puddle that ended up being more of a mud hole. She was a mess but happy!
Later on the trail we came across a woman taking pictures of a plant. We stopped and talked to her and she said that the plant was a Pitcher Plant, the Provincial Flower of Newfoundland. She went on to say that it was actually a carnivorous plant, insects would crawl into the "pitcher" (on the bottom of the plant) and are trapped, and would be consumed by the plant. Who knew?!?!

Then it was off to Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse. It was raining again so we left the dogs in the truck and walked around the area ourselves. 
This is where William Young and his wife, Esther, lived from 1902 to 1941. They had  eight children, six of which were born right here on this living room floor! One of the kids born in that living room manned the lighthouse from 1941 to 1970.
We love touring lighthouses. This one was unique but not our favorite. It is situated in such a way that is it is really hard to get good pictures of it. 
One of the trails had some stairs going down to the shoreline so we went down to explore and look for sea glass. No glass, but it was still interesting.

We also explored nearby Rocky Harbor, cool little town with a lot of touristy shops. After all that, it was still raining so we headed back to the camper to listen to the rain on the roof some more. We woke up the next morning to, you guessed it, rain on the roof, Since we had explored about everything we were interested in (that was inside) in the area, we decided to leave a day early and head to an area on the map that was somewhat on our route and was calling my name. So we packed up, filled the water tanks, dumped the gray and black tank and hit the road to Fleur De Lys. Along the way we saw several  signs telling us to watch out for caribou but we did not see any. The good news was that even though it was supposed to rain all day, it cleared up and we had a beautiful day!
Barb read up on the town that we were driving to and said it had an overlook that allowed overnight camping as well as possible whale and iceberg sightings, 2 of the 3 things were most looking forward to seeing in Newfoundland. When we got to town we drove to the far end where the overnight camping spot was said to be. Well, it was little more than a turnaround amongst some houses so we quickly decided to pass on that spot. But we did take the .8 hike up the Ocean View Trail to see if we could spot some whales or icebergs. It was a nice trail with a beautiful overlook but sadly, no whale or iceberg sightings. 

We then drove to Coachman's Cove and set up for the night at a trailhead right on the water.  
A little while later the winds picked up, the temperature dropped and some low hanging clouds crept over the mountains like a lion sneaking up on its prey. 
Same view 20 minutes apart!
Soon we were enveloped in the fog.  When we woke up it was a chilly 45 in the camper. Barb and I had to Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who was going to crawl out and turn on the heater and take the dogs out.  Like all things competitive in our marriage I lost and took the walk of shame with the dogs.

The fog hung with us making visibility about two hundred yards as we drive to King's Point where Barb wanted to visit the pottery shop looking for something handcrafted to bring home.  She came out 20 minutes later with a sand dollar with a puffin painted on it.  The ever elusive puffin, the 3rd thing we are hoping to see on this trip!

Then it was off to Glassy Beach where there is said to be tons of sea glass.  You never know what to expect when you go to places like this.  In my mind, I was picturing a long stretch of beach that has some sea glass scattered amongst it. In reality, this bear was about 50 yards long and was ALL sea glass.  Not sure how it ever came to be but sometime in the past someone was dumping a lot of glass out in the water! 
That's all sea glass!
Lobster traps are everywhere!
Before we left for this adventure Barb had joined Boondockers Welcome (BW).  It is a site that lists homeowners who will allow travelers to stay overnight on their property free of charge.  It is $79 for the annual subscription.  We had anticipated using it quite a bit on our Great Summer Adventure but everywhere we went there was either no host members or they were not accepting reservations.  Boondockers Welcome is owned by Harvest Hosts (HH) which lists businesses who allow travelers to stay overnight in their parking lot.  This service is $99/year.  Our friends Harry and Vicky (yeah that Harry) are currently on their way up to Alaska and are posting about all their fun stops at HH breweries, wineries and farms along the way.  So, since we were not getting anything out of BW, Barb called to see if we could change over our subscription to HH.  No problem they said, we just needed to pay the difference.

This change is what brought us to our next destination - Pilley's Island.  
Our route for the day
Probably the cutest town we have been to so far.  Clean, quiet, scenic and lots of bay, coves, inlets and Bumblebee Bight Brewery who just happens to be a HH member!  We arrived about 3:00 and Barb went in to let them know we were here and find out where to park.  She returned with the owner (I forget her name) and she showed us where we could park.  A raised parking lot overlooking a beautiful cove.

We took the dogs for a walk before hitting the brewery for a few beers and supper.  They offered 8 beers so we got one of each!
We also ordered mussels and wings.  In the past, we have not been huge mussel fans but these garlic and butter ones were delicious.  As were the salt and pepper wings.  It also had some of the best tasting beers we have had in quite a while.  The Spring Fever Hefeweizen was to die for!  Although not required HH asks that you spend a minimum of $20 at the participating business.  Well, we exceeded that by about 6x.  This free camping in going to be expensive!

The next morning we pulled out after saying goodbye to the owners.  Thankfully, the weather forecast had changed and we were in for a couple sunny days.  Finally!  We had a couple of destinations for the day.  The first was Grand Falls/Winsor where we needed to resupply the cupboards.  The first stop was Dominion.  Barb came out 20 minutes later with a load of groceries and said we needed to stop by Walmart and get some Mountain Dew as Dominion did not have any.  Luckily, they were in the same parking lot.  She came out empty handed and said, let's try Sobey's......nope.  Not a Mountain Dew to be had anywhere, not a single can, two liter or case!

Moutain Dew-less, we headed to the Salmon Interpretive Center.  It is located at the falls and has a salmon ladder to allow the salmon to get up river.  The guide educated us for about 20 minutes on how they developed the ladder, the salmon lifecycle and spawning.  All very interesting.  If you are ever in this area, we would highly recommend it.  There were a few salmon in the ladder system but nothing like the 200 per day they are expecting at the peak in a few weeks. 
Then we were off to Twillingate where we planned to spend the night at a free campsite called Crows Head up by the lighthouse.  Our first stop in Twillengate was the North Atlantic Wooden Boat Builder's Museum.  It is pretty sparse as far as museums go but was really fascinating in seeing how they built boats back in the day.  They even have a workshop where they are in the process of building a couple of boats.  Wow, the craftsmanship that goes into that is amazing! 

They look for trees with bends in them so the grain goes with the bend
making it much stronger

We got to our campsite a little after 4:00, the views and sunset could not be beat!

Twillingate has lots of cool hiking trails.  We could not decide on which one we wanted to hike so we chose parts of three:  French Beach, Spiller's Cove and Codjack Cove.  Of the 3, we enjoyed Codjack Cove with the incredible views of the rugged coastline.

Dakota got to go on her first Atlantic ocean swim.  She tried tasting the water but quickly decided it was disgusting.  Zoey waded around enjoying the cool water.  
After taking advantage of the town's free dump station and filling with water, we headed off down to our next destination.  Where will we go?  What will we see?  Will we find another brewery? You will have to stay tuned to find out!