Cloudy again on August 3. We arrived at the ferry terminal in North Sydney NS at 8:15 am. The ferry doesn't leave until 11 am and you are required to be there at least 2 hours before that. If you have a reservation and do not arrive 2 hours before sailing time, they will start loading the stand-bys and when the ferry is full it's full. They spend a long time loading - it's like a maze. Vehicles (semis, trailers, motorhomes) are very close together. We met some nice people while we were waiting - from Alberta, Maine, Massachusetts and Ontario. The water was a bit rough but the ship is very stable. The trip was almost 6 hours.
Lunch was amazing. You pay ($14.95 each) and order at the registration desk. They give you a big number for your table. You pick up your beverage on the way to the table. We had a nice window seat. Your starter is delivered to your table. - Larry had salad, Maureen had veggie beef soup - with bread. When that's done they bring your entree - Larry had stuffed cod and mashed potatoes, Maureen had Thai Chicken Breast and rice, both with veggies - and dessert - Larry had trifle, Maureen had strawberry shortcake. There's no rush to eat. After that we moved to the lounge which has a full bar if you want it. Again a window seat. There was also excellent entertainment - Judy and Dave - he was a comic/singer and she sang beautifully.
You are not allowed down to the car deck after the ship has sailed and again not until it has totally docked. The ship comes through an amazingly narrow channel into the dock in Port Aux Basques NL.
The landscape here is different again. It looks like you've arrived in Alaska - very few trees, grassy but rocky. We are staying at Grand Codroy RV Park in Doyles for two nights. The area is quite mountainous. There were bugs of course. We explored around Doyles and up the coast a bit to Cape Anguille (the end of the road). We looked around the cemetery at Holy Trinity Anglican. There were a lot of headstones with the name Collier on them (Maureen's maiden name). We don't know yet if she's related to any of them. We then drove down to Port Aux Basques for a look around. It's another nice little fishing village which includes the ferry terminal. We stopped at the Legion for a beer. There was the usual bartender along with one person trying his luck at the gambling machines.
On the 5th we headed to Gros Morne. Gros Morne is a National Park. There is a lot of up and down to get there. We are staying in Gros Morne RV Park for three nights. We had been told by our new friends from Stephenville about a really good show called Anchors Aweigh! at the Ocean View Lounge. We phoned to see if they had any space and they were booked but put us on the waiting list. We went there for dinner anyway, and had moose burgers, and managed to get in to the show. It was $25 each and really worth it. The guys had great voices and were really funny. They poked fun at every province that was represented in the audience. There was a base player, two guitarists, a drummer and an accordionist. We sat with a couple from Kingston. The show lasted 3 1/2 hours!
On the 6th we took the Jeep and drove up to St. Anthony. This is about a 4 hour drive past some beautiful scenery. We were always on the lookout for moose but didn't see any on the way up. The weather started out with blue sky. Something new! There are a couple of things that should be mentioned. One thing is the woodpiles at the side of the road. The piles are massive, often lined up in amounts that equal a cord of wood. They're all strategically piled. The second thing is the small garden plots that appear out of nowhere (and not near any houses at all). Apparently when the highway was built there was quite a wide swath of land cleared on either side. Since the island is so rocky this was a convenient, already tilled area that people started planting gardens. Some of them had rows of onions, carrots and beets. Others were full of potatoes. They were usually fenced and often had a scarecrow. We also noticed a quiet patriotism in this part of the country. There are Canadian flags flying everywhere. It's nice to see.
We passed quite a number of quaint fishing villages. We ended up eating the lunch we had made while driving. We arrived in St. Anthony about 1:00. We checked in at our little B&B called Triple Rose. It was a small room with a bathroom attached. Then we went exploring. Our first sight of an iceberg was just outside of St. Lunaire-Griguet. We then drove on up to the first Viking Settlement over 1000 years old which was at L'Anse aux Meadows. It is a National Historic Site and added another $22 to our Pass total! It was very well done with lots of good displays and artifacts. They also had a completely reconstructed sod house and other buildings. There were guides in costume and one was actually cooking some cod over the fire.
From there we went to the end of the road and encountered a fisherman named Coleman. He asked us if we wanted to buy any cod from him. He told us the price and that it was filleted and lightly frozen. We said we would be back the next day because we had no where to keep it. We had originally booked to go on a two-hour boat trip to see the icebergs and whales. But it had turned quite cool so we decided not to. We then headed down to St. Anthony. We saw many more icebergs while there. We had been told about Goose Cove and there were a couple of nice ones there. There was also a wedding party at the end of the point having their photos taken with the bergs! We also stopped at St. Anthony Bight were several large bergs were trapped in the cove. We stopped at the Lighthouse Restaurant where we had heard they had a Viking Feast. They had space available so instead of spending money on the boat trip, we decided to Feast!
We arrived at the dining place - another sod house - at 7 pm. There were about 90 people there. All the servers were in costume and the buffet was set up in a viking boat. To start we had roast capelin (like sardines) and deep fried cod tongues. The buffet was Moose Stew (excellent), Fish and Brewis (cod, softened hard tack, onion), Jiggs Dinner (salt beef, turnip, cabbage, carrot, potatoes), Baked Stuffed Atlantic Salmon, Roast Beef, Shrimp Fried Rice, Green Salad and Rolls. Dessert was a partridgeberry flatbread (like a pancake) with warm apple preserve and whipped cream, and served with tea or coffee. Wine and beer were also available. We had knives and spoons but no forks. Apparently Vikings don't eat with forks. The two couples that we had met at the ferry were there as well. The Great Viking Feast is also a dinner theatre. After dinner we were entertained with an enactment of a Viking court. "Cases" were brought forward from the audience and adjudicated by our host. Punishments were very inventive!
We had to drive back in the dark and even that didn't encourage a moose to come out of hiding! When we got back to the B&B it turns out that the people we had met at Anchors Aweigh were there as well so we had breakfast with them the next day. For breakfast we had homemade muffins, scones and bread with homemade partridgeberry jam. There was also cereal, juice and coffee.
Before we headed back we checked on the first iceberg we had seen the day before. It was a lot smaller as it appeared to have split in two and one of the split icebergs must have gone out to sea. Then we went out to see Coleman as we had promised. We got about 4 pounds of cod for $10. He was quite the character. He married when he was 19 and his now almost 70. He eats fish everyday. His favourite is the capelin (like we had at the Feast). He eats them til he's full and then has them again the next day. When he fillets the cod, he takes the fins and heads and cooks them up and has that for breakfast. He also eats rabbit, moose and berries. He and his wife live a lot off the land. He was saying he drinks a little beer but not enough to effect his weight - he's weighed 150 pounds forever. After that we drove the 30 km back to the highway and headed to Rocky Harbour.
Along the way we stopped at Port au Choix, another National Historic Site ($15 park saving this time). It was very interesting, highlighting the four Aboriginal cultures that have lived at that site for the past 4000 years. Every time they dig they find something else. There was another site where an Indian burial ground was featured. They had a display about the Resettlement Program. This program tried and organized approach to centralizing the population into growth areas. Three attempts of resettlement were made to outport residents and whole communities between 1954 and 1975 which resulted in the abandonment of 300 communities and nearly 30,000 people moved.
About 10 km from Rocky Harbour we saw cars pulled over at the side of the road. Sure enough the long awaited moose had appeared! There was a cow and calf eating quite close to the road. As we went to leave we realized there was another calf in the trees. They're huge! There are many vehicle accidents with moose every year. We saw a couple of wrecked vehicles in St. Anthony.
On Aug 8 we left Rocky Harbour about 10 am. We stopped for lunch partway and arrived in Eastport about 4:30. We are in the Harold W. Duffett Shriners' RV Park for two nights. The road to Eastport goes along the side of Terra Nova National Park. There are lots of trees along the way with pretty rocky and hilly terrain.
On the 9th we drove to Bonavista. Cloudy and quite cool. It was about a 2 1/2 hour drive from the campground. We went right up to the end of the road and worked our way back. At the end is the Bonavista Lighthouse which became operational in 1843. Also near there is a statue of John Cabot commemorating his landing there in 1437. It's quite a desolate headland with lots of rocks and big breakers. We drove down a gravel road to The Dungeons Provincial Park. This road goes through pastureland with cows, horses and sheep wandering all over. Quite spectacular erosion of this rocky land.
We then continued down the road to Ellisten. We had heard that there was good puffin viewing here and we weren't disappointed. The trail was quite slippery because it had rained. There was a quite narrow part with waves breaking about 25 feet below on both sides. Maureen was able to walk out almost to the edge of the cliff at the end, about 25 feet away from the nearest puffins who were spread out on a tall, small island. Larry learned that they only stay in this area for a couple of months to nest then they go back out to sea for the rest of the year. There was a also house next to the puffin info centre and the guide told Larry that the owner of the house was from Vancouver and he purchased it 20 years ago for $20K and it's now worth about $49K. They come out to Newfoundland for 2 to 3 months every year. Ellisten is also famous as the Root Cellar Capital of the world. There are 135 registered root cellars with some of them dating back almost 200 years. We got back to the campground about 5:30.
On August 10 we arrived in St. John's. It was cloudy and trying to rain. We stayed at Pippy Park Campground which is part of a huge city park and a great example of the trails which go city-wide - 120 km in all! First we got haircuts. We went to Tom Brennan's Hair Styling Salon. It had a store front with living quarters above. There was a funny smell - part damp mildewy and part old dog. The dog came out front and visited a couple of times. Tom was very thorough and we were reasonably happy with the job! We went grocery shopping then came home and relaxed. August 11 we were ready to do some sightseeing. We had a leisurely start, hoping the fog would lift. We made a start for Cape Spear but as you can see we could barely see the road let alone the Cape! We turned around and came back. By then it was drizzling and didn't stop for the rest of the day. It was cold too - no more than 10 deg Celsius the whole day.
August 12 was better, although still cloudy, but no longer raining and much warmer. We headed first for Cape Spear National Historic Site (another $8 park saving). We were able to drive up quite close to the lighthouses. The newer one is still working and was built in 1955. The original one has been reconstructed to its 1836 character, including furnishings. It had a single fireplace in the kitchen which was designed to heat the whole house. We ate our picnic lunch here as well. Then we went to Fort Amherst. The road ended before you could even see the fort and we were unable to walk the remaining distance. We then went up Signal Hill which is also a National Historic Site (another $8 park saving). We stopped at the Visitors' Centre to see the wonderful displays and a great video that they had put together. The site was used for signalling from 1704-1960. Marconi sent trans-Atlantic messages from here as well. There were several battles fought in the area between the French and the English, mostly to gain control of the fishery. It was also pivotal in the defence of the country during both World Wars. Cabot Tower was built in 1897 in honour of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee and the 400th anniversary of Cabot's Voyage of Discovery. There are many trails around the area, a lot right around the cliff edges.
We drove up and down some of the historic streets and also went to the end of Trans Canada Highway 1. Part of their downtown area refers to some things as "Mile One" but at the actual end of the highway there is nothing. A bit of a disappointment.
August 13 we went into town for a bit of a walkabout and a coffee streetside. The day was gorgeous! Larry went to Costco and got the tires in the Jeep rotated. We were even able to BBQ finally! And no bugs!
August 14 started out foggy in St. John's but as we headed away from the city it cleared up and became quite nice. We stayed at Wal-Mart in Gander for the night. We were able to watch the recorded BC Lions game as well as the final of the golf.
August 15 we drove to Stephenville. We stopped here because the people we met at Pine Hills in PEI who gave us so much assistance live here. We stopped at Wal-Mart and unhooked the Jeep and drove to the only campground in the area. There was one site available but on the way back to Wal-Mart we found a nice golf course where they said we could park for a couple of days, so that's what we did. Of course Monday was gorgeous - Tuesday it rained - so we couldn't golf. However the location was spectacular - almost oceanside with a wonderful walking lane on the road. We went for pizza for dinner - hit the Monday special so our bill was only $11.85! We had called Derek and Cavell and they called back during dinner. We stopped at their house after dinner for a quick visit.
Tuesday it rained all day. We drove out the Port au Port Peninsula instead but we couldn't see very much. It had some wonderful cliffs and water views. Back at the "campsite" there is a wonderful walking path along the water that Maureen made good use of. Wednesday started out raining again so we waited and suddenly around noon it cleared so we headed out.
Wednesday and Thursday nights we stayed at Grand Codroy where we had stayed at the beginning of our Newfoundland visit. We met some very nice people, all of whom were going on the same ferry as us. A couple from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho and another couple from Nova Scotia that had been coming to that campground for 38 years. We spent some time with Linda and Brady from Ottawa and they invited us to go out for dinner with them for a Jiggs Dinner at a restaurant close by. It turned out to be a memorable Newfoundland moment. We arrived at Wreckhouse Cafe at 6:05. On the internet it said their dinner hour started at 6:00. When we went in they said they were out of Jiggs Dinner but we could have chicken soup and sandwiches - not what any of us wanted. So they sent us down the road 14km to Silver Sands Restaurant and Lounge. There was no one around and the door was wired shut with a coat hanger. So we went back to Chicken Villa - another recommendation - it closed at 6:30 and it was already 6:37. So we ended up back in our respective RV's for scrambled eggs.
Friday morning there were a lot of bugs. Maureen got 7 souvenirs to take back to Nova Scotia, all of which swelled up as much as the one on her ear had before. It was nice when we left Codroy but as we began to sail the fog rolled in and was with us for about half the trip then the sun came through and it was beautiful. We sat with Linda and Brady and also had lunch with them. It was another good lunch - salad or soup, cod au gratin, rice/potato and veggies, strawberry shortcake for dessert.
All in all a wonderful visit to Newfoundland. The people were super that we met. Signage leaves a lot to be desired, the roads were good and the bugs were nasty. See you in Nova Scotia!