Homeward Bound Sort Of – July 16, 2006

(For those reading this for the first time, you might want to look at “About” before continuing)

Hello everyone,

Yesterday we had a good day of visiting the east coast. While many of the towns away from the coast aren’t as interesting as the west coast, as soon as we drove into the little bays we found the picture postcard images of Newfoundland. Colourful saltbox houses balanced on the sides of cliffs over churning bays or quiet harbours.

Salvage

On the recommendation of a local Newfie, we went to see the town of Salvage which was very pretty, it’s one of the most photographed towns in Newfoundland. Even in the rain it was very picturesque.

Bonavista

From there we drove out around Bonavista Peninsula ending up at the end, Cape Bonavista which was the landing spot of John Cabot in 1497. Very rugged and sparse vegetation, it obviously endures strong winds and looks very much like the Oregon Coast with its rocky outcrops and sculptured shoreline. Somehow the Man found a flock of goats to interact with. They are quite nice creatures but obviously not quite as evolved as blessèd sheep. They tried to eat bits of carpet and traffic cones and the Man’s blue jeans. We also saw a puffin colony and a whale putting on an incredible show close to shore, breaching about eight or nine times. Naturally the Man got twenty nice photos of whale butts. I’ll bet you’re all looking forward to seeing his photos when he gets back.

That night we stayed in an ‘interesting’ hotel whose minus ratings declined by the hour. One of our worst sleeps yet. Apparently the manager had gone home to sleep, no one was manning the office. At 3 a.m. the Lady got up and saw a poufy haired woman walking down the hall with her white poodle!?

This morning the weather was a little brighter so the Man wanted to go back into Bonavista to take pictures that he’d missed in the drizzle of yesterday. We ended up going back to the Point and seeing more whales, horses and cows but to the Man’s disappointment the goats were still asleep. A beautiful place despite its austere ruggedness.

Then the Man went all crazy and decided to make a dash for Cape Spear, the most easterly point in North America. So we drove and drove and drove and at 4:30 p.m. we arrived at Cape Spear.

Saving Miss Ewe

Saving Miss Ewe

Another rugged stormy place but also beautiful. The waves were pounding on the shore below very steep and crumbly cliffs. There was a fence around the most easterly spot lookout but I was still very nervous. The Man kept saying, “Get a little closer, get a little closer” and wouldn’t you know it, I fell right over the fence and almost down the cliff. With a crowd of people watching, the Man had to crawl over the chain link fence to rescue me. I made a beeline for the car but managed to see another whale blowing and leaping.

Petty Harbour

Petty Harbour

We had to find somewhere to stay as it was getting late and the first thing the Man did was get lost again which made it even later. He said, “We’ll just drive out of town a little bit, I’m sure we’ll find something.” Two hundred kilometres later we finally did. At least it’s two hundred kilometres closer to home. I’m not sure how much more I can take! No moose today.

Newfoundland continues to be beautiful but the Man and Lady have found that this side of the province looks very much like parts of BC and doesn’t have the spectacular quality of the west coast of the province. We’re making a big push to get towards Port aux Basques tomorrow, still want to drive rather than take the long ferry from this end because it is so beautiful. We’re very glad that we decided to see Newfoundland.

So that’s it for tonight.

Til later,

Miss Ewe

Advertisements
Categories: Cross Canada Road Trip, Newfoundland | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gandering in Gander – July 14 (part 2)

(For those reading this for the first time, you might want to look at “About” before continuing)

L'Anse aux Meadows

L’Anse aux Meadows

Hi there – 

Today we drove 6 miles (10 km) to L’Anse aux Meadows which is the site of the first Viking habitation in North America. A beautiful site with an interpretation center built right into the side of a hill.

L'Anse aux Meadows

L’Anse aux Meadows

In Norse sagas there had been references about discovering Vinland but researchers didn’t know where that was though they suspected it was somewhere in North America. Dr. Helge Ingstad and his wife, Dr. Anne Stine Ingstad, had spent years studying the Norse in Iceland and Greenland and concluded that it only made sense that the Vikings would have sailed west to discover North America.  In 1960, the Ingstads sailed up and down the east coast trying to pinpoint where a good possible settlement site would be. They landed on L’Anse Aux Meadow which at the time was a very small fishing village that was only accessible by sea. As usual they asked the local inhabitants if they had seen any ruins and the village leader, George Decker, said yes and took them to the site of some unusual grassy mounds. The Ingstads were certain that this was a Viking settlement and twelve years of archaeological research proved them right. The grassy mounds turned out to be the remnants of eight 11th century Norse buildings. They went so far as discovering remains of early iron production and woodworking. The site became a National Historic Site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Today you can see the remains of the original buildings and right beside it are four reconstructed sod buildings of the same design. Staff are dressed in the period and act the role of the era, all very informative and fascinating.

The Vikings arrived in the 11th century but only stayed a few years then hostilities arose between them and local natives and they departed. It is felt that this site was only a way station and that somewhere in the south a larger site exists where they lived. They think only 70 to 90 people lived in this site.

Norstead

About half a mile from the park site is Norstead, a living history site. It’s a village reconstructed with modern day Vikings demonstrating the Norse style of a thousand years ago, sharing their crafts and knowledge with the visitors. The Lady learned how to knit a hat with one needle. One of the highlights was seeing a full sized replica of the “Snorri” Viking ship. It had actually been sailed from Norway to this site. Beautiful craftsmanship and lines. It was all very well done and the staff were knowledgeable and friendly. A great experience especially after seeing a blessèd sheep sleeping in a Viking sheep pen.

The Grenfell House

After having a great lunch, we headed to St. Anthony to the Dr. Wilfred Grenfell Centre. Dr. Grenfell, a medical missionary, arrived from England to Northern Newfoundland in 1892 where he began giving medical attention on the Labrador coast and Northern Newfoundland. At the time Labrador had a population of 30,000 people with no medical care. Grenfell was appalled at the living conditions, barely subsistent fishing families living all together in small one-roomed houses in extremely unhealthy conditions. He was very impressed with the spirit of the people though and devoted his life to improving their physical and spiritual well-being. Over the years he introduced medical centers, schools, small home industries, orphanages and co-operatives. Up to that time the fishermen would buy all their supplies on credit from the fish plant owners. At the end of the season they paid their debt with their fish. If it was a bad season they got more into debt. Grenfell tried to end this system though it did continue on until the 1930’s. St. Anthony itself has a large hospital and the lovely Grenfell home which we toured. Quite an inspiring man who said, “If you’re given two choices, always choose the most adventurous.”

St. Anthony

St. Anthony

St. Anthony

St. Anthony

A full and fascinating day. The Man and Lady have discussed going to Labrador but have decided against it as there is only 50 miles (80 km) of road on the other side of the ferry, four towns and we hear lots and lots of black flies. We can see Labrador from here and realize it isn’t probably going to be that much different from what we are seeing here so we’ll carry on south tomorrow and then east towards St. Johns.

July 14 – Well, we did our own epic trek today south and then east. We needed to backtrack from the northern peninsula south to the Trans Canada and then east, a drive of 270 miles (430 km). We had planned to stay at Deer Lake but arrived there about 3 p.m. The Man and Lady didn’t like it because it was ‘too big city’ – it had a Tim Hortons and a KFC so they decided to drive a bit further. The Man and Lady have become confirmed rural-ites and are doing anything to avoid towns with more than two highway exits. This meant heading further east and we had been warned by the Newfoundlanders that it was a long drive and ‘nothing much there.’ We headed out for our first town and kept waiting for the nothingness. I guess there are degrees of nothingness – the nothingness we encountered was like saying there is nothing to see in the Rockies but mountains, lakes, wildflowers and beautiful forest. The scenery was awesome. We keep telling the Newfoundlanders how beautiful their province is but they kind of shrug and don’t seem to see it. We reached our first town after 70 miles (110 km) – booked up, so we pressed on another 43 miles (70 km) to Badger – all booked up, another 12.5 miles (20 km) to Grand Falls and they were having a music festival so were all booked up – finally another 56 miles (90 km) to Gander and we found a place to stay!

Tomorrow we continue east to Terra Nova National Park and Bonavista and then some exploring of the Avalon Peninsula.

 Well, a long day and I’m ready to count blessèd sheep!

Till later,

Miss Ewe

Categories: Cross Canada Road Trip, Newfoundland | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gandering in Gander – July 14 (part 1)

(For those reading this for the first time, you might want to look at “About” before continuing)

July 13

Well . . . that’s it, I’m eating in the car from now on. First the Man and Lady ordered COD TONGUES as an appetizer tonight and then the Man, realizing that the only way he’ll have a close encounter with a moose, ordered Peppered Moose for dinner. He’s one sick person. When they got back in the car all they could talk about was the cod tongues. Apparently they aren’t the actual tongues but the muscley part underneath. The Man said they tasted alright but that they are quite chewy except for the glob of jelly like stuff in the middle. I think I’ll stick to grass!

Speaking of moose, our Newfoundland moose spotting count is up to fifteen not counting the dead one on the Man’s plate. By the way, I forgot to tell you about our chat with another couple in another viewpoint the other day. Just say ‘moose’ to a Newfie and they’re ready to pull out their treasure trove of moose stories. This couple was telling us that the moose was not native to Newfoundland but a pair were brought over from New Brunswick. Apparently they didn’t get along so they had to bring in another pair who liked each other a lot. And now there are 110,000 moose in Newfoundland. The caribou, who are native here, are down to 500. I think the moose are eating the caribou. It was quite embarrassing because the Man was itching to tell HIS great moose stories and I had to bite his ankles to stop him from bringing out his pack of moose butt photos!

Wednesday it started out really rainy as we drove up the Viking Trail north. We thought it was going to be a day of driving and not much adventure. By early afternoon it had cleared up and we were treated to some more incredible Newfoundland beauty. We decided to stop off at Port au Choix which is the first of two archaeological sites that the Man thought we would like to see. They had a great interpretive center explaining the arrival of the four different cultures to that particular point covered with plants and berries that were beneficial to their survival along with the sea life.

Port au Choix

The archaeologists could tell the four distinct groups by the design of arrowheads found in the area. Theses groups lived in the area from about 3500 BC to the present. It was all very interesting and there were dig sites that weren’t accessible to us.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Phillip’s Garden

Then we went to an area called Phillip’s Garden which is a flat limestone ‘shelf’ to the shoreline eroded into pockets filled with peat. Because of the high lime content the plants are stubby and alkaline loving types. Lots of wild berries and unusual wild flowers cover most of the rock in thick layers. The natives used it for medicinal and food sources. It was very beautiful, blue Atlantic waves on eroded cliffs.

Point Riche

Point Riche

From there we continued to head north when we noticed something strange on the sides of the road. Small fenced off areas about 32′ x 32′ (10 metres x 10 metres) with cultivated rows of potatoes growing in them – every kilometre or so. We couldn’t figure it out until we picked up a book on the local lore and it told us that after the highway was built in the 1960’s people found pockets of good soil to grow things in which was a novelty so they drove many kilometres to claim these small areas to garden. Another thing we see are many huge piles of cut firewood along the side of the road. Often there is a snow mobile sled beside the piles. Apparently locals have wood lots and cut their wood early and in the winter haul it back to their houses by snow mobile. There is an extensive snow mobile trail throughout Newfoundland. We’ve seen lots of trails and bridges built for them. The people here on the coast seem to be very resourceful and don’t waste anything. It’s very beautiful now but you can see where winter would be very difficult with high snow and by the look of the windswept vegetation, cold and windy. In some places there are no trees around the houses for protection, just the wind blowing right off the Atlantic. Makes me thankful for my woollies.

The Man had a talk with a local Newfoundlander today but didn’t know what they talked about because he couldn’t understand a word he said. The Man just kept nodding his head apparently at the wrong places because the Newfie said, “I guess I’m talking too fast, little hard to understand.” But it seemed a pleasant enough exchange.

157-St. Lunaire (01)_watermarked

St. Lunaire

St. Lunaire

St. Lunaire

Last night we ended up in St. Lunaire which is almost as far north as you can go in Newfoundland. Another quiet fishing village with incredibly beautiful small natural harbour. Everywhere you look there are beautiful sights to see and the Man’s neck is getting sore from whipping around to find the next shot. You can’t go more than ten minutes without finding another new and beautiful vista to gaze at and it’s amazing how the beauty just goes on and on. People have been wonderful. Very good food – well actually the grass tastes just the same as everywhere else, but the Man and Lady talk about their meals ad nauseum.

Categories: Cross Canada Road Trip, Newfoundland | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Yakking Ewfie – July 11, 2006

(For those reading this for the first time, you might want to look at “About” before continuing)

057-Harbour_watermarked

Hi there,

Well, we did a first today – we had our first stay over since visiting with the Man and Lady’s friends in Bragg Creek. We entered Gros Morne Park yesterday afternoon and had a wonderful time exploring. Met a Newfoundland man with his family at a viewpoint and he HAD to tell the Man his moose story. He drives about 37,000 miles (60,000 kilometres) a year with his business and felt he was very moose aware. Two weeks ago he and his wife hit a moose that leaped onto the road. Their SUV was totalled, the engine pushed right into the passenger compartment and the front part of the roof ripped right off. They were bruised, shaken and suffered facial injuries. The Man was impressed and is being a little more cautious in his moose hunt.

About 10 minutes later the Man and Lady saw a wonderful moose specimen on the side of the road. Unfortunately, the moose chose a spot where the Man couldn’t stop which they seem to do on purpose unless they’re flashing their butts. Not long after we pulled into the trailhead for the Western Brook Pond boat tour and met two hikers who told us there were TWO moose just around the curve of the trail.

The Man went tearing down the path and, lo and behold, there WERE two moose about 40 feet (10 metres) away chomping on reeds. The Man managed to get three pretty good photos of apparently girl mooses. He says as soon as he gets a good photo of a boy moose he will take moose off his ‘hunt’ list. He thinks porcupines will be the next goal. We saw lots of dead porcupines in Nova Scotia as they seem to be the bête du jour for road kill there.

We were too late to do the boat trip up Western Brook Pond which is an incredible land-locked fjord but we will do it on our return trip. The Man and Lady have decided to take the ‘Viking Trail’ up the western coast of Newfoundland to see a site the Man has always wanted to see. On the northern tip of Newfoundland is L’Anse aux Meadows. This is where the Vikings landed in the new world 1000 years ago. The settlement has been restored and we hear there is a lot to see and learn. It will mean a 500 mile (800 kilometre) diversion but from what we have seen of Newfoundland so far, it will be well worth it. As our friend Lauri said, Newfoundland is like one great big national park. It is beautiful!

049-Gros Morne (17)_watermarked

047-Gros Morne (15)_watermarked

043-Gros Morne (11)_watermarked

We found a great motel in Cow Head which looks like they just kept adding buildings onto one end as they expanded. You walk down one long corridor through about four doors. We were right near the end on a room about 50 feet (15 metres) from the high tide line. Last night we watched an amazing sunset that lasted more than an hour. The room is very quiet, all we can hear are seagulls and terns on the nearby islands.

We had such a good sleep and because we wanted to do some kayaking, we booked another night. This morning we headed up the coast 13 miles (20 kilometres) to explore the possibility of kayaking in an area called The Arches. The Arches are huge limestone arches sitting on the shoreline that are slowly being eroded by the ocean.

It wasn’t really a good area for kayaking so we headed back to Cow Head where there was a park area called Shallow Bay. It is large with 3 miles (5 kilometres) of sand beaches and sand dunes. Very pretty with a chain of small islands extending across the mouth of the bay creating a huge sheltered lagoon. While tempting, it was too far to portage the kayak so we headed to the actual Cow Head. Cow Head is a high, once upon a time island at the south end of Shallow Bay. It is now connected by a thin corridor and the town harbour and fisheries is located on it.

It was a good spot to put the kayak in and with a 10 minute paddle we were able to reach the small islands. We had a great time with beautiful clear, glassy calm but shallow water to putter in. The islands, which we thought from a distance to be sand turned out to be limestone covered with wildflowers and a coarse green vegetation. There were hundreds of gulls and terns who, by their reaction to us, were protecting their nests and chicks. We were probably a 1/2 mile (kilometre) offshore and had a great view of the mountains running up and down the coastline. Very dramatic and beautiful.

Cow Head

Cow Head

Cow Head used to be the summer camp of Inuit and early settlers where they would hunt seal and fish. As winter moved in they would move onto the ‘mainland’ to winter over there. The two sites are known as Summerside and Winterside. Lots of old, old history here.

So . . . that’s it for tonight – tired legs so I’m going to hit the hay – baaa, baaa, baaa. Heading north tomorrow.

Til later,

Miss Ewe

Categories: Cross Canada Road Trip, Newfoundland | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Goofie Ewefie – July 9, 2006

(For those reading this for the first time, you might want to look at “About” before continuing)

001-Newfoundland Views (01)_watermarked

Hi there,

Well, we’ve landed in Newfoundland in one piece. The ferry ride convinced me of one thing . . . we’re not taking the long ferry ride home on the way back. When we got to the ferry this morning we found out they had a ‘NO SHEEP’ policy for the passenger deck so they stuck me in the kennels for 6 hours with a bunch of yapping, stinking dogs. It will take me a week to get the smell out – I might even need a shearing!

Meanwhile, the Man and Lady are above decks listening to live music, watching a movie, having a great breakfast and lunch, using the free wireless Internet and lounging in the bar/lounge. When the Man came to rescue me I told him it was the last time that was going to happen. I managed to convince him that if he drove one way across Newfoundland he would probably get his usual butt picture of a moose BUT if he drove back the other way he would get the head and then he could Photoshop the two together. Now he’s all excited to do that instead of sitting 14 long hours on the ferry. Whewww!

So . . . the Lady’s first impression of Newfoundland. . ., “Where are the trees”? The Man had to explain that there are no trees because they are blown off in the winter gales. That didn’t go over too well. We were all quite amazed though at how the landscape had changed after travelling not that far east and north. The coastal area is very rocky and there are only small trees in the wind protected nooks and crannies. The rock is covered with stubby salal, juniper and grasses. Lots of wild flowers still blooming here everywhere – wild rose and iris, clover, evening primrose, fireweed, buttercup and daisies.

002-Newfoundland Views (02)_watermarked

The Man decided that Port aux Basque, where we arrived, would be too busy after the ferry disgorged us and that we would find accommodation in the next major town, Stephenville. We knew we were in trouble when we saw road signs saying, “Stephensville Exit 115 km” – not many towns in between. Road signs seem to be a major industry for Newfoundland. We first saw a “Bump 1 km” sign, then “Bump 500 m,” “Bump 100 m – Slow to 50″, “Bump 50 m – Slow to 20” and then the slight ripple in the road. Three minutes later we’re jostling through unannounced potholes.

010-Trans Canada_watermarked

The Trans Canada here is actually great with lots of double lanes and hardly any traffic.

003-Newfoundland Views (03)_watermarked

005-Newfoundland Views (05)_watermarked

006-Newfoundland Views (06)_watermarked

Our limited view of the countryside has been amazing. Driving out of Port aux Basque you have the ocean on the left with green bog like fields running down to the shore. For miles on the right are high 1500+ foot Long Range Mountains in amazing geometric shapes – cones, flat topped parallelograms (sp? – I’m only a sheep) and triangles. Deep glacier hewn valleys running through them and all free of trees but completely covered with short shrubbery in beautiful shades of green. Later as we moved inland there were small blue lakes surrounded by yellow peat bogs. There is more soil therefore more trees and taller – a soaring 10 feet (3 metres) high BUT they are trees – spruce and deciduous.

007-Newfoundland Views (07)_watermarked

008-Newfoundland Views (08)_watermarked

009-Newfoundland Views (09)_watermarked

Nearing Stephensville we again approached the shoreline and saw beautiful sand dunes and long, white sandy beaches. The short, stubby spruce and juniper trees on the shore are all at a permanent 45º angle due to the wind. The rock is black and igneous and the water so clear it has that aqua blue quality we saw in Lake Superior. It all looked very tropical and beautiful.

However . . . when we arrived in Stephenville, the town the Man chose as our final destination for the night, things did not look as good. First, driving into town the Man of course got lost then found his way again. We drove by a huge, now closed pulp mill and then some shut down warehouses, then some large blacktopped areas surrounded by barbed wire filled with piles of old tires, then an actual US fighter jet (?) on a pedestal, barrack like apartments and then we started driving down streets call ‘Ohio Avenue’, ‘Minnesota Street,’ ‘Florida Avenue,’ etc. Very strange! We finally found a little better section of town and found a nice place to stay.

It turns out that in 1941, as part of the Lend-Lease Agreement between the US and Britain, the US was given the OK to build an air force base in Stephenville. It was to become the biggest US air force base outside of the continental US. It lasted until 1966 when the US pulled out leaving a hundred million dollars worth of buildings and a world-class airport.

The other claim to fame for Stephenville, as reported by Walter Winchell in 1949, was that the US Air Force had photographed three UFO’s over Stephenville and had tried to pursue them but the UFO’s outran the US jets.

AFTER we got settled the Man read his guidebook to see what it had to say about Stephenville – “Stephenville is possibly the least appealing town in Newfoundland and, festival time aside, there is no compelling reason to stop.”

Well, it looks like it’s all uphill from here – I’ll let you know!

Til later,

Miss Ewe

Categories: Cross Canada Road Trip, Newfoundland | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Newfie Eve – July 8, 2006

(For those reading this for the first time, you might want to look at “About” before continuing)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Cabot Trail

Hi there –

Well, it’s been a busy couple of days!

On Thursday we managed to get fairly good weather to travel the Cabot Trail – a bit misty but no rain or fog. The topography was incredible with high cliffs going right down into the sea. The foliage on the tree covered hills/mountains was so dense it almost looked like a tropical rain forest. There were places where we climbed from sea level to over 1,640 feet (500 metres) in little less than 10 minutes. Lots of viewpoints and a great place to explore. The Man even got a picture of the rear end of a moose!

Some other photos the Man got were in a field that we just happened upon. In it were more than one hundred full sized scarecrows in all manner of dress. The field belongs to Joe Delaney who a number of years ago decided to plant a garden. His neighbours told him he was crazy because all the deer and moose would eat it. So he built a 7 foot (2 metre) scarecrow and then added another. People started to stop in their cars to take a look so he just kept making them. When we were there a tour bus of German tourists came by to take a look. The scarecrows are in groups – a wedding party, famous politicians, school kids, etc. All very weird and wonderful.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Joe Delaney’s Scarecrows

It took us most of the day to do the whole route and we would have been even longer if the weather was clearer. We had fun going to the very most northern point of Cape Breton Island down a road definitely less travelled. At the end was the very small community of Meat Cove that consisted of a campground, an iffy looking lodge and a teahouse in a small shed.

Bras d'Or Bridge

Bras d’Or Bridge

 That night we stayed in Baddeck which was the home of Alexander Graham Bell for over 40 years. Yesterday morning we went to the Alexander Graham Bell Museum which is beautifully done with slide shows, videos, artifacts and great displays.

Alexander Graham Bell Museum

Alexander Graham Bell Museum

Bell was quite an amazing man and was always working on something. His wife, Mabel was also quite the woman. Deaf from the age of five, Mabel never let her disability hold her back. She was very supportive of Alexander and often helped him in his experiments. I was thrilled to hear of his interest in genetics. Bell kept a flock of blessèd sheep and he decided it would help the local farmers if he could develop a flock where the mothers produced only twins. He spent many years studying the flock with limited success. His ewe mothers did improve in their twin output but more importantly they developed six to eight nipples rather than four. I’ve been counting mine and I only come up with three so I guess my mom wasn’t from these parts.

We thoroughly enjoyed the museum. We had bought a Canada Parks pass in Ontario so we can go into any Canada Park and museum for free which is great because we can come and go at will.

After the museum, Man and Lady had to make some decisions on their next move. They spent a bit of time debating whether or not to do the Newfoundland portion of their trip. They had a couple of bad night sleeps so weren’t thinking clearly. Fortunately their thinking cleared and they booked the ferry to Newfoundland for Sunday at 9:00 am. We’re taking the shorter route from Sidney to Port aux Basques which will be about a 6 hour ferry trip. The Man and Lady are now trying to decide how to handle Newfoundland. There is basically one highway across the island which is about 560 miles (900 kilometres) and one highway on the west coast that is 472 miles (761 kilometres). There are also some side trips that we want to make so it’s a bit of a long haul. We could do our touring across the island and then take the ferry from Argentia which is a 14 hour ferry trip at about twice the cost. The other option is to get to the East coast and then boot it back over the same road. More driving – less ferry – less ferry costs – more accommodation expenses, hmmmm. Perhaps some of the Man and Lady’s friends could give us some input.

The Man did mention that there are 110,000 moose in Newfoundland and by driving the highway twice it increases the odds of some good moose interaction. I don’t know what’s wrong with him, he’s attracted to such goofy looking animals.

After making reservations yesterday we headed to the town of Louisbourg which is renown for it’s restored French fort.

Louisberg

Louisbourg Playhouse

Last night we went to the Louisbourg Playhouse for an evening of Celtic music. The theatre itself was an interesting building. In 1993, Walt Disney Productions were filming a movie in Louisbourg called “Squanto: A Warrior Tale.” The filming required the construction of a 17th century timber framed Shakespearean theatre modelled after the Globe theatre in London. After the filming, Disney donated the theatre to the community.

Lyrics & Laughter

Lyrics & Laughter

The group we saw were three guys and two girls. Each played multiple instruments including fiddle, piano, flute, guitar, mandolin, banjo, drums and button accordion. Both girls did step dancing and it was two hours of great music and entertainment.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Fortress of Louisbourg

First thing this morning we headed out to the Fortress of Louisbourg. The site of the fort was first settled by the French in 1713 and became the busiest port in New France and reached a population of 3200. In 1744, France and Britain went to war and after a six-week siege, the British took over the fort and sent the French home. In 1748-9 the French got the fort back by treaty. In 1758, the British once more took the fort and again deported the French. In 1760, the British decided the fort was not viable and blew up the entire structure leaving a pile of rubble. It stayed that way until 1961 when the Canadian Government decided to reconstruct 1/5 of the fort using archaeological and documented information. Utilizing unemployed miners and craftsmen, a faithful re-creation of a town 250 years ago with inns, taverns, barracks, outhouses, etc was constructed. The staff dress in 18th century dress and take on the identity of someone living in those times. The whole thing is quite amazing to experience and see.

Tonight we are in North Sidney overlooking the ferry terminal. Even though we have reservations, we have to be at the terminal at least an hour before the sailing to assure our reservation.

So . . . the next time you hear from me I will be looking for blessèd sheep on the shores of Newfoundland – I hope there are some!

Don’t know what the Internet will be like out there but I’ll be in touch.

Til later,

Miss Ewe

Categories: Cross Canada Road Trip, Nova Scotia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Creeping to the Cape – July 6, 2006

(For those reading this for the first time, you might want to look at “About” before continuing)

Well . . . we’re finding it a little harder to find Internet connections so I’m a little behind here.

A couple of days ago we left Shelburne and headed east along the south coast. It took a while to leave Shelburne because there was a dog in the room next to us. The Man kept peeking out the window so he could ‘accidentally’ bump into it and when the chance finally came he flew out the door and did his embarrassing dog thing. The dog’s owners (from Toronto) had just spent a month in Newfoundland and gave the Man lots of travel advice.

187-Blue Rocks (02)_watermarked

Blue Rocks

194-Dublin Shore (03)_watermarked

Dublin Shore

Once we hit the road we found there are lots of little towns and some beautiful scenery. The coastline along this portion of Nova Scotia is laced with little bays and sheltering islands therefore the shoreline has the look of a lakeshore with salt grasses and reeds. Most of the villages have some semblance of a fishing industry – lobster, mussels or scallops. We whipped along at a pleasant pace again taking scenic loops whenever possible.

Vogler's Cove

Vogler’s Cove

There are beautiful white sandy beaches here and in combination with the bright blue skies, it looks almost tropical. We found a great little cable ferry close to Lunenburg that took us across a long inlet near Bridgewater.

LaHave Ferry

LaHave Ferry

We stopped for the afternoon at Lunenburg and had a great time eating MORE lobster (and garnish) on the waterfront overlooking ‘Bluenose II”. Lunenburg was amazing with more beautiful old architecture, a working harbour and a wonderful location. Lots of people though!

 

We stayed the night in Chester in preparation for an interesting adventure the next day.

Our good friend Rob asked if we could go by New Ross and check out an old legend/folklore tale. Rob appealed to the Man’s Scottish heritage to motivate him.

In 1972, Joan Hope and her husband Ron rented a house in New Ross. While exploring the property Joan discovered, what she believed to be, the foundations of a castle. The Hopes eventually bought the property and started to excavate the ruins. They came to believe the castle dates back to Prince Henry Sinclair’s historic voyage of 1398 to North America and that he built the castle – pre-dating Columbus.

It turns out that the story was very hard to verify. Whenever we asked about the location of the castle the locals were very evasive and at times dismissive. We finally talked to people at the local heritage society and all they would say is that they knew where it was but it was on private land and we wouldn’t be able to see it anyway. We searched around and couldn’t find any sign of it. So . . . we had to give up the hunt.

In the same town was the New Ross Farm Museum which is located on an old farm belonging to the Ross family. Mr. Ross received the 121 hectare (300 acre) property after serving with the military in the late 1700’s. The government at the time wanted to keep ex militia in the area because of the close proximity to America and the French faction. The land they gave to Mr. Ross was right in between the fort at Halifax and the fort at Annapolis Royal. One of the conditions for obtaining the land was to build a road linking the two forts which he did. He was then free to develop his farm.

Most of the buildings on the farm are original and it is still a working farm using the original 1800’s methods – no power machinery or tools. All the staff are in 1800’s dress doing what they would have been doing in that time. The buildings include a barn, a sawmill, cooperage (barrel making), blacksmith and the original farmhouse. The farmhouse had actually been lived in by five generations of Ross’s, the last moving out in 1969 when they turned the farm over to the heritage society. The interior is quite amazing with most of the original woodwork and furniture. Much ‘cruder’ than the Victorian houses that we have been looking at recently. Lots of sloping floors and walls. We had fresh nutmeg cookies just baked in the old woodstove in the Summer kitchen.

We went into the barns where there are many heritage animals – those of the same lineage as those from the 1790’s – Berkshire pigs (with piglets), Canadian horses, oxen, cows and blessèd sheep. The Man went all weirdo when he found two un-heritage kittens and the Lady and I had to ask for help to get him away from them. Unfortunately we should have stuck to the kittens after what happened next.

As I said, the farm is a working farm and the local farmers bring their horses in to be shod. Somehow the Man found that we were in for a great treat as a farmer was going to bring in his ox to be shod. So…down to the blacksmith shop we headed just in time to see ‘Lion’ the huge ox being pushed into a little raised corral.

231a-New Ross Farm Museum (17)_watermarked

231b-New Ross Farm Museum (07)_watermarked

The two blacksmiths then ran a sling and ropes around Lion’s belly so he wouldn’t fall down. They then tied his left front and back legs and pulled them up and rested them on a leg rest exposing the hooves. ‘Lion’ was looking very leery by this time and obviously didn’t like standing on just two legs. I must admit, being a hoofed animal, I was starting to get a little queasy myself. THEN . . . they started pulling off the old shoes with pry bars and nail pullers – gag me with a spoon – I tied my socks up tight and ran out with the Lady right behind me. We’d rather have watched a wisdom tooth extraction! Naturally, the Man stayed to the bitter end and said it wasn’t too bad though ‘Lion’ definitely didn’t like having the shoes (two per hoof) nailed on.

After we did the tour we headed east once more driving through Halifax in rush hour. Unfortunately nobody told us about the toll bridge until we had crossed it. We had a moment of panic as cars piled up behind us and we dug through everything trying to find three quarters. The automated machine didn’t take dimes, nickels or pennies. We came up with two quarters and finally the Man threw in a loonie and the gate opened. Of course, through all the confusion, once we got moving the Man immediately got lost. We consulted our street maps and eventually found our way – the Man is convinced we actually found a shortcut!

The Man and Lady are confirmed rural tourists and didn’t like the busyness of Halifax so we continued on and stayed in Oyster Pond, Nova Scotia. The Man was thrilled that we had a very wild thunderstorm last night but I noticed not so thrilled as to get out of bed to watch it – more of a passive storm chaser.

Today we continued East under quite thick fog which didn’t do anything for the view. I got quite excited at one point when I thought I saw a blessèd sheep on the side of the road but when we stopped it turned out to be a piece of folk art which seems to be very common in this neck of the woods. The towns here are more utilitarian and don’t seem to have the quaintness as the rest of the coastline.

At Sheet Harbour we stopped at the site of an old riverside pulp and paper mill. It had shut down in the early 1970’s and the whole thing was disassembled. In it’s place was a pleasant park and boardwalk following the river. Across the river, the Man noticed an old bulk oil tank about 30,000 gallons in size left over from the mill. It was painted bright blue with “MOM’S” written on it.

Looking closer we saw a door cut in the side and a long chimney running up the side. It turns out that it has been converted into a bar and grill. We went in and it looked pretty good though dark and windowless. It has only been developed on the floor level but apparently the new owner has great plans for further development – a very unique building.

From there we headed north to Antigonish and then across the causeway to Cape Breton Island. We are staying in Port Hawkesbury tonight ready to travel the Cabot Trail tomorrow IF there is no fog.

Our Internet is very iffy tonight and the Man will have to go stand in the parking lot to try and send this wirelessly – not sure what the future holds but we’ll try to send updates when we can.

Til later,

Miss Ewe

p.s. The Man couldn’t get through last night so we’re sitting in the parking lot of another motel at 7:00 am sending this!

Categories: Cross Canada Road Trip, Nova Scotia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Frantic in the Atlantic – July 2, 2006

(For those reading this for the first time, you might want to look at “About” before continuing)

Hi there –

Well, I’m not really frantic, just excited because we finally rounded the corner in west Nova Scotia and we are now on the Atlantic Ocean!

We headed out of Annapolis Royal ready to make great progress along the coast. But . . . being Saturday and July 1st, there seemed to be a garage sale every 30 feet (10 metres). The Lady started getting all twitchy again and the Man KNEW he was going to have to stop at least once.

132-Bear River (01)_watermarked

Bear River, NS

We took a little diversion up to Bear River because the Man heard that the town was quite unusual. It has been called the Switzerland of Nova Scotia because of the farms built on very hilly land. The town is more than 2 miles (3 kilometres) up the Bear River and yet is still very much influenced by the Fundy tides. Originally a shipbuilding town in the early 1800’s, many of the houses on the main street are built on stilts over the river. When we were there the tide was out so the buildings were standing about 20 feet (6 metres) above the ground. At the info center the girl there showed us photos taken last week during a very high tide and the water was right at the floorboards of the same buildings.

In its heyday more than 150 ships including one tall ship was built at the town. Now all you can see is crumbling wharves.

The other thing we saw there was the Legion Garage Sale so guess where the Lady headed. It filled the street in front of the building and two rooms inside! The Man was pretty patient except he kept mumbling words like “ticky-tacky, junk, mothballs, etc. . . “. He told me that he has come to realize that garage sale treasures look just the same on the East Coast as they do on the West Coast as they do in the middle of the country. The Lady was thrilled to bits though and bought a few lovely knick-knacks.

We left there and made it about 3 miles (5 kilometres) when the Lady decided she was feeling peckish and sure enough she spotted another garage sale, this time with a Strawberry Tea attached. So . . . we stopped again and dug through more stuff and then tried to get into the Tea but found the whole town (all thirty of them) was also trying to do the same so we couldn’t get in.

The Man had to admit that garage sales are great places to meet the locals and get advice on sights to see.

We were told we MUST see Digby Neck which is a thin 37 mile (60 kilometre) spit with two small islands at the end which are reached by a ferry to each. The drive was very beautiful, mostly through scrubby spruce and bog land. On one side of us was the Bay of Fundy and on the other the Annapolis Basin. All along the coast were very small fishing villages. The sky was cloudless but with a strong wind so the colours were crisp and clear.

Looking across to Long Island.  Note the tidal currents in the channel.

At the end of the spit we could look across at Long Island, a 15 minute ferry ride. An incredible current was flowing through the channel making the ferry work hard with each crossing.

Long Island has a couple of small towns and the last island, Brier Island, has one town. All of them are very non-commercial, ‘untouched’ working fishing towns. At the very end of Brier Island you can see where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Bay of Fundy. After a week of seeing the red murky waters of the Bay of Fundy it was good to see the clear blue Atlantic waters.

Digby Sunset

Digby Sunset

We had to backtrack the 37 miles (60 kilometres) back to Digby but it was worth the extra time we took. Digby is another well preserved fishing town and we enjoyed walking the waterfront there.

This morning we headed out on a very rainy day. We were in an area of many small towns with not a lot of highlights so we actually made some progress. The first stop was at Church Point where between 1903 and 1905 the largest wooden church in Canada was built, 190 feet (58 metres) long and 134 feet (41 metres) wide with a 184 foot (56 metre) spire.

163-Electric Mary (02)_watermarked

The local priest hired an illiterate local parishioner to do the building. Because of the large size of the church and the high winds in the area it was necessary to overbuild the structure using massive timbers and masses of rocks to anchor the steeple. It was an amazing engineering feat and quite an impressive sight.

The day before, someone told us about the man hired to paint the ceiling. He just arrived at the church and told the priest that he was an artist. Though he had some talent, he needed a drink or two to give him courage to go up the very high scaffold. While some of the paintings had a religious theme, others really didn’t and it seems he just painted what he wanted.

We left there and lo and behold – the Lady spotted ANOTHER garage sale. Not only that, she found ANOTHER old travelling trunk that she couldn’t live without. So now I’m sharing the supposedly ’empty’ back seat with the trunk. It’s not too bad though cause I’m turning it into my bedroom for the motels with a ‘NO SHEEP’ policy. The Man is really hoping that the Lady is shopped out.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Shelburne, Nova Scotia

After that we made it safety to Shelburne on the south coast with a strong gale blowing off the Atlantic. Shelburne is another amazing old town. Settled in 1778 by Loyalists from New York, it is a beautiful natural harbour. Many, many restored buildings. More drooling going on – disgusting!

Well, it’s getting late here so that’s it for tonight.

Til later,

Miss Ewe

Categories: Cross Canada Road Trip, Nova Scotia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hapless in Annapolis – June 30, 2006

(For those reading this for the first time, you might want to look at “About” before continuing)

Hi there,

Today we continued west along the coast taking Highway 1 which is the original highway, smaller than the new 101. We entered into the Annapolis Valley which is the apple and fruit growing region of Nova Scotia. The thing that we noticed the most was town after town were now bustling and looking prosperous. Beautifully restored houses and storefronts replace the rundown buildings of the now defunct shipbuilding towns.

The first stop was the Oaklawn Farm Zoo in Aylesford that works with conservation groups to help endangered animals mainly through its breeding program. The Man went all weirdo making monkey and growling noises so the Lady and I went our own way and he went and grovelled with the baby pigs. We had quite a lot of fun cause there were lots of baby animals – llamas, pygmy goats, donkeys and ostriches. Saw a few of my relatives there too.

The next stop was the town of Annapolis Royal where we went to the Historic Gardens that are located on a 7 hectare (17 acre) estate dating back to the 1800’s. I hear the gardens are beautiful – I wouldn’t know because they took one look at me smacking my lips and wouldn’t let me in – another nasty ‘no sheep’ site.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Lady told me that there were beautiful formal rose and herb gardens, a Victorian garden, heritage garden, ponds, a wonderful reconstructed Acadian house (based on 1600’s design) and rock gardens. The Man and Lady were gone a long time looking through the place.

Because it was getting on we decided to stay in Annapolis Royal. The town is incredible with over 150 beautiful heritage houses including the oldest wooden house in Canada dating back to 1708.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The town itself dates back to the mid 1600’s and has a fort also built in 1708. It is one of the most attractive towns the Man and Lady have seen yet and it’s making me nervous because they’re reading real estate papers!

Not sure what tomorrow will bring but I suspect we’ll head west and then south around the coast.

Til later,

Miss Ewe

Categories: Cross Canada Road Trip, Nova Scotia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Heading for Annapolis – June 30, 2006

(For those reading this for the first time, you might want to look at “About” before continuing)

Hi there – well, here I am again!

We started out from Truro a couple of days ago and have been poking along the coastline having a good time. The area west of Truro has quite an interesting history and we found out quite a bit about it at the old home of W.D. Lawrence which is now a museum. The house is a beautiful 26 room Victorian home built by Mr. Lawrence in Maitland, NS.

Mr. Lawrence’s father arrived in Canada from Ireland in the very early 1800’s and built up a farm near Maitland. William Lawrence decided very early that he didn’t want to be a farmer like his dad and decided that he was going to build ships, a very lucrative business at the time. The problem was, he had never built a ship so he went to Dartmouth and apprenticed in the shipbuilding trade. He started right from the bottom and managed to apprentice two years later. He came back to Maitland because he needed to earn some money and in the meantime started building two ships on his uncle’s farm that was close to the Bay of Fundy. The boats were a success and he started a trading/shipping business. He took his ships and headed down to South America and loaded them up with pelican guano (bird poo) which was there in abundance and highly sought after by farmers back in Canada and the US. In a short time he had made his fortune. Over time he built six more ships, the last one being the fourth largest wooden ship built in North America.

All this was done in a shipyard right across the road from his home in Maitland. His was one of many shipyards in the area that were building Canada’s shipping fleet making this area very prosperous.

Mr. Lawrence entered politics and was strong in his belief that Nova Scotia shouldn’t join Canada as a province. It was felt at the time that the Canadian government (in Ontario) was not doing a very good job handling their finances. Britain, who was still overseeing the doings told the powers that be that they needed to get their finances in order. They could do that by going to the United States for help or find the needed money elsewhere. So they turned their eyes East to the very lucrative shipbuilding and trading center in Nova Scotia and handed them an invitation to join Canada.

Mr. Lawrence feared that the government would drain Nova Scotia’s prosperity away in order to shore up it’s draining purse. Unfortunately it seems that is exactly what happened.

The house was beautiful with four stories of rooms. Most of the furnishings were original as the family passed it on generation to generation until they sold it to the historical society. The tour guide kept a close watch on us, especially after the Lady kept asking to go into all the forbidden places. One highlight of the house was the outdoor outhouse connected to the house by a covered walkway. It was a two room – four holer model!

Eventually iron ships started to be built and the shipyards in that area fell to ruin. Now when you see the area there is hardly a trace of its former industry. What still does remain are the wonderful old houses though many of them could use some TLC.

Selma Church

Selma Church

Selma Church and Titanic Artifacts

Selma Church and Titanic Artifacts

 Our next stop was a small church, now museum, near Selma. What caught the Man’s eye was a sign mentioning Titanic artifacts. The Man has always had quite an obsession with things to do with the Titanic so we had to stop. The church itself was built in 1865 and was Presbyterian by nature. In 1881, the church hired Lewis Baille to paint the interior white plaster walls and ceiling. He painted the whole thing by using feathers with tempera base paint. It gave the walls a marble like look that has drawn visitors for more than 125 years.

Autopsy Table

Autopsy Table

John Jacob Astor

John Jacob Astor

The one artifact they had from (though not quite from) the Titanic was the autopsy table they used to perform the autopsy on John Jacob Astor. All the bodies found from the sinking were taken to Halifax where autopsies were performed. Somehow the museum got hold of this interesting piece of furniture!

From there we enjoyed the scenery until we made it just past Wolfville (the home of Acadia University) and checked into a motel.

The Man and the Lady took me to a restaurant within sight of the motel. The Man watched as two teenage boys walked along trying all the motel room doors. When we returned to our room we found that a long, thin piece of metal had been pushed through the screen of the bathroom window and a beer can, pine cones and a few pieces of broken glass thrown in. The Lady phoned the manager who phoned the RCMP. Meanwhile the two boys were hanging around at the far end of the motel. When the police car showed up, they took off with the police in chase. They caught the boys at one of their homes. The RCMP came back and put the Man in the police car so he could give them a report. The Lady and I were afraid the Man was going to turn on the lights or siren or something but he managed to control himself. As the boys hadn’t taken anything, it became an issue between the owners and the boys so the Man and the Lady and I finished off with a quiet evening in a new room.

Categories: Cross Canada Road Trip, Nova Scotia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.