Saturday, June 30, 2012


Very quick post tonight.  I'm standing in the parking lot with my laptop perched on a recycling bin.  The wireless doesn't quite get to our cabin.

It was another day of driving although I didn't have to do it.  We have now met our tour and the driver gets all the aggro.  Up early and get out on the road to check out the salmon jumping up the falls in the river. It was more fun to watch the fishermen stading in the Humber River.  I'm pretty  sure they there for the peace and quiet since those salmon weren't interested in much but getting upriver.

We drove through a lightning storm and huge buckets of rain.  Then when we reached Gros Morne park the sun came out. Perfect timing.  Some beautiful wildflowers.  The pitcher plant is Newfoundland's provincial flower.  This one seems to have caught an ant.

Close by was a whole plantation of tiny sundew plants.  They are very tiny...this is about the size of the end of my little finger.

Then  a tour of the Marine Research Center in Norris Point.  Lots of cool hands-on stuff.  Tis is a sea mouse.  I have never heard of one before but it definitely looks like something the cat dragged in!

It's getting late and hard to type by the streetlamp.  Another big day tomorrow and the same lack of connectivity, I think.  We'll meet again in the parking lot. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

A little review

We took no photos at all today.  Instead we drove, and drove and drove.  From Bonavista to Deer Lake to meet our group for the next part of our trip.  There are lots of photos I don't get to share each day are a few of them. A random sampling from the places we've visited so far.

At Tor Bay, we found some beautiful rocks on the beach.  In fact the beach was littered with them. And the ocean had tumbled them to such silky smoothness.  For some reason, these reminded me of little potatoes.  I think it's the colors.

An old sawhorse we saw beside the woodpile.

In the small cemetery, there gravestones for fishermen who had died at sea.  But there were even more like this.  Whole families of children.  So sad.  And totally preventable if only there had been some medical care in reach.  The fishing villages were so isolated then.

This big rock  in the middle of Witless Bay could only be collected on the camera.  Those are seabirds  - mostly puffins and murre - flying around it.

Lupine are everywhere.  They make such wonderful splashes of color in unexpected places.

In case you could forget theat  Bonavista is primarily a fishing town.  Nets drying over the fence in someone's back yard.

Tomorrow, we set out along the northwesten side of Newfoundland on our way to Labrador.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Woke up this morning to fog and a bit of leftover rain but quite a bit warmer.   We decided to get out and see what was outside in Bonavista.  The brother of our B&B operator is a great photographer and we were discussing how to bribe a puffin to pose for you - with a capelin.  We decided that since we  now knew where we could find more puffins, we would.

First try.  "Oh, no, m'dear, you won't be seein' puffins this day in the fog"  said the man who was cycling down the road in this end of the town.  "Besides, they will be on the other end of town." And he promptly cycled off.  We jumped in the car, stopped at a visitor center and got directions to Bird Island. 

This is where we ended up. This is Elliston which just happens to be the Root Cellar capital of the World.  This is a sample of some root cellars.We're not sure why they have so many or why they have them and other towns don't.

Perhaps a visit here could help?

Now this is what we came for.  I'm on the trail of the wild puffin.

And there they are.  You can see how comical they look in the air.  True, they look comical everywhere.The island at the end of the trail is just  out of reach but the puffins were so close.  The wind was blowing furiously and it felt wonderful to be standing on a cliff on the edge of the Atlantic.  Almost as though I could fly away myself.

A side trip to see the Dungeon...

Before we got to Cape Bonavista lighthouse.  We have tons of photos of this  place.   Because it was foggy - horn every  30 seconds - we decided to opt for indoor photography.  In fact, all are of  the rooms lived in by the lightkeeper's family.  I'll do a post when I come home with just the hooked rugs from here. 

And now back to town to do some museum stuff while the rain storm blows over.  I learned how to split

and gut a cod.

Here's the real thing.  Mine was much easier - and cleaner, too.

Outside the rain has stopped and we do some more exploring on foot.There is a replica of the Matthew which is John Cabot's ship which 'discovered' Bonavista. Right  now it's in winter storage but we had a quick tour.  This wasn't the berth of an ordinary seaman of the day.  In good weather most of the sailors slept on the deck.  In rough seas, they went to the hold and bedded down on the boulders and gravel ballast.

We find a tern  using the wind to hover above a promising-looking fishing spot.

Old Day's Long Pond is a marshy area which is protected by a boardwalk around the whole pond.  It's about a kilometer around.  A walk around the Boardwalk in the wind was a perfect ending to the day.

Out of the city

We have left St John's and headed to Bonavista.  But, of course, there have to stops along the way.  Highway driving is seriously boring.

This is our first view of Trinity.  A long and winding road brings you to this lovely stand of lupines with part of the town spread out below. 

Trinity is an old cod fishing town. Very prosperous in its day.  But then hard times for the cod fishermen led to a decline.  Houses were being left to the weather as people moved away.  Enter the Trinity Historical Society.  Over the years, they restored some of the main town buildings.  They created a museum.  And they created a walk which gets you into the buildings where guides explain what went on.  Of course, alll this costs money.  Most comes from tourism.  But they also auction off hand-hooked rugs.  And right there in the museum workroom, I got to put in a row!

These buildings overlook the bay.  You can't tell but the door on the smaller building is bright purple.  I think it would make a fine studio, don't you?

A kitchen in one of the houses. It's all about the mat.

Another view of the town.

And another.

This the sawmill in the town - right on the water.  They must do a booming business in their work as joiners.  Lots of windows and doors to be made for the restorations.  There were a few houses for sale, too.

Down the road a ways is a place called Random Passage.   This was actually a movie set for a mini-series if the same name which was broadcast a few years ago here.  I think it was set in the 17th century (don't quote me) and all the sets are as accurate as possible.  Admission gets you a tour of the whole site with wonderful stories told by a local guide.

Dora is a gifted story-teller and she made not only the set but her memories of growing up in Newfoundland very real.

And we saw a whale!  Just off-shore and following the capelin.  We couldn't get a photo as he wasn't in a mood to pose and  was really just taking time to breathe between bites. 

Then it was back on the big road and into Bonavista.  The wind was blowing furiously and it was not very summery.  But we found our B&B to be cosy.  Then a tea room for dinner which seemed to be where you went for special birthday dinners.  There were two last night.  Really friendly...lots of fun.  And a good dinner.

Today we explore.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Whirlwind Tour

The only plan we had today was to visit The Rooms which is the wonderful museum here in St. John's.  But we kind of digressed.

Tor Bay wasn't very far away and we had heard that humpback whales had been seen there.  We saw no whales. We did talk with an elderly resident who was out walking his dog, Dougie, and his cat, Daisy.  I think he actually just came down to the beach to check us out.  This is one of his look-out chairs. You would know from a ways out that this was the right bay.

We had to wait for a while to leave the beach because the narrow road was blocked by a big 'honey' truck and we just had to find something else to do.

Like visit the local cemetery which seems to be in three back yards.  It had been freshly mowed (while we were there) even though there I saw no grave newer than 1950. Can you imagine a lovelier place to spend eternity.  Our new friend lived about twenty feet from the gates.  He said he'd never had quieter neighbors.  Funny guy!

On his  advice we headed for Middle Cove.  Lots of cars in a parking lot...what's going on?   Ah, the capelin are rolling.  The capelin are about six inches long and their arrival is a much-anticipated treat around here.  These smelt-like fish are plentiful enough to dip a colander into the waves breaking on the beach and fill your bucket - or your grocery bag.  Whatever you've got.  .

A feast is in the offing.  A big fry-up party for these eager folks...

while these hungry gulls will just eat them as is.

Even a beached mermaid came to observe the goings on.

On to the museum.  Really , really worthwhile.  I learned lots.  I found out why the garbage  bags are put out for collection with old quilts, nets, or bedsheets over them:  to keep out the crows and to keep the wind from blowing loose stuff around.  We also had a first-class lunch on the top floor of the building which is at the very top of the hill.  Such great views.

Tripping around downtown, we came across this lovely building with  such a colorful history that it's written up on the wall.

A view of St. John's from Signal Hill's Cabot Tower.  Yes, I climbed to the top.

Hey!   There's daylight left.  One more visit the original lighthouse at Cape Spear. That's me only halfway up the lo-o-ong flight of stairs - the rest are out of view on the right.   I had a lot of lunch to work off!

And this is the end of our time in St. John's..  The beginning of a new day. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

On the water

We are here.  In Newfoundland.  Another of those places we've always wanted to see.  The travel was, well, travel.  What  can I say?  Hurry up and wait at airports.  Flights delayed for reasons that are not mechanical and you have to try and empathize with the person who is probably totally aware that helping them on and off has created echo delays down the chain of flights.  We made our connection with minues to spare.  And we landed without incident after our second try through the fog.  Mercifully, I wasn't near a window to see the trees wa-ay too close on that first practice landing.

After a red-eye flight and a  white-knuckle landing, we were ready for St John's.  Arriving at the motel early in the morning, we were hoping to just stow the bags.  But the kind manager told us the room was ready- just go on up and relax.  Almost didn't get out of there.  A shower and a bit of complimentary breakfast went over a treat, though.

Into the  car, dig out the maps and we're on our way to Bay Bulls to take a boat tour to see the birds.  The fog lifted - mostly.  But, if I though we were having a disappointing June...huh!  Nothing like here.'s cold.  I am almost all bundled up.  Don't have my mitts on yet but I have two jackets both with hoods.

Here we go.

Puffins are a bird very high on my wish  list.  In fact, I would have been very unamused to not see any while I'm here.  They were definitely around.  Lots of the.  Here are the married quarters.  Watching over the nests.  Those would be the holes in the grass.

The bachelors.

They fly the way penguins swim.  Flapping those stubby wings really, really fast.   They really shouldn't be able to fly at all.  And the only way they can take off is on the water.  So, they launch themselves from the nest, over the edge and kind of fall, fly and hit the water flapping.

There were lots and lots of birds.  Puffins, murres, gulls, a fulmar, an eagle - even some crows. The sky was absolutely alive with birds, wheeling and crying.  Birds were diving, flapping or just resting on the water. The eagle spooked a whole flock of nesting murre who promptly took off in one fell swoop, curved a long  black tail  and then back to their abandoned nests before the gulls noticed they were gone.  Definitely a precarious existence.  Yet,  they flourish.  There is something to be said for numbers.

Back to land.

Our guide for the day, a young man with a marvellous tenor voice treated us to song a couple of times.  As well as stand-up comedy.  I think that it's easy to mock the puffins, though.  They are clowns.  From the time I heard about this boat trip I'd been singing this song in my head.  Not surprisingly, it  was one of the tunes we were favored to hear.  (Sorry, I  can't seem to link up with Great Big Sea's "Excursion Around the Bay". Do go have a listen on Youtube).    I\ll leave you today with the same tune in your head.


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