The drive back into Corner Brook was actually not as bad as I thought. The sun was perfect on the Bay of Islands but there was no place to stop and take a picture. Well, one place. This rock is called WeeBall or WeeBald depending who you are talking too. I think you can see why. I just loved the little poof of cloud sitting on his head like an ill fitting toupee. Who would believe two sunny days in a row in Newfoundland. Last time I checked the forecast it looked like all week was going to be nice too.
I stopped at Sobeys for some bug spray and fruit. Also scored a BIG jug of water. Think weight for the camper. Then a quick stop at Tim’s and a top up of the old gas tank. Fuel is more expensive here, of course, about $1.33 a litre. Once on the road I made good time. The Trans-Canada is in really good shape. I was really worried what the highway north was going to be like. At Deer Lake I pulled into the visitor centre to check with them what the roads were like. But in the parking lot was a gorgeous little Boler, the same colour as Floyd. I stopped and the family who belonged to it were having a snack at the picnic table adjacent. We looked at each other’s campers and compared notes. This guy also took out his fridge and furnace as they only worked on 110v. He said the furnace was all rusted out anyway and beyond saving. We both agreed a small generator would be just the ticket and they had problems with their camper bouncing around all over too. I’m convinced I just need more weight. I really don’t know what more I can put in there. I also need more weight in the truck so it rides smoother too. Maybe a couple pieces of sheet metal?!? Anyway, no fear on the highway into Gros Morne National Park. It was in better shape than the Trans-Canada. Hopefully it will continue.
I had to choose in Gros Morne whether to see the table lands on the way up or wait for the trip back as I have to backtrack anyway. Gros Morne is split in two and it’s about an hour from the park gate south to the table lands. So I chose to go north to make tomorrow into St Anthony shorter.
I got a lovely campsite just on the edge of the national park and have a fire crackling away. Camp pizza for supper tonight. Again there no cell service or wifi in the campsite, only down at the shower house but it’s pretty puny so I’ll have to post some time tomorrow. Night.
I so love Newfoundland names.
This morning I left Port aux Basques with every intention of driving past Corner Brook. But I stopped in to the tourist info to get some pamphlets on the rest of my drive, and the young fellow there was just so enthusiastic. He convinced me to drive up the coast to a provincial park called Blow Me Down. I mean, I have no time table. What’s the rush??
First I stopped at his recommended Donair shop for a Donair to go.
When I first came to Moncton, for a very brief time I had a boyfriend from Zaire. Jean Marie. There were lots of foreign students from French speaking colonies, especially Zaire and Lebanon. The Lebanese came mostly for the engineering college and the boys from Zaire came for business. I say boys cause they were all boys. No girls. Jean Marie was very serious and frowned on me speaking to anyone other than him. He had a friend with him from Zaire, Fabian, who was just a lovely fellow, always laughing and smiling. Anyway, our first date, Jean Marie took me out to a Donair restaurant. I had never heard of such a thing, (remember this is forty years ago and I came from the prairies where lasagna was very adventurous). He ordered two, one in a pita and one on a hamburger bun in case I didn’t like the pita bread. I thought I’d never tasted anything so delicious and I often went back. It was a thing!! Jean Marie not so much and after a few weeks I bid him adieu. But sadly these special Donair restaurants just aren’t around like they used to be. Now I’m finding that Donair’s and pizzas are in the same restaurants. So I had to try one.
We drove up to a look out, the Captain Cook Memorial Park. Got a great view of Corner Brook. It really is a harbour town built on the hills. Lots of ups and downs. There was a picnic table right there so Marty and I chowed down on the Donair. Just as I remembered it!! Delicious. It’s all in the sauce.
The drive out to the park was slow and the road surface was sometimes rough. I went extra slow to protect Floyd as much as I could. It was actually very scenic and I drove thru some lovely little villages. I’m sort of dreading the drive back into town. I hate towing over such a rough road.
Once here I got a nice site and unhooked the trailer to better explore and see a few things. There were a few nice towns and harbours, and lots of islands off shore. Captain Cook is the man around here. I had no idea how much time he spent in Newfoundland before he got really famous in Tahiti (and eaten in Hawaii). But his maps were really first class and helped the British keep control of the fishing grounds off the Grand Banks.
Back in camp I thought I’d get a fire going but it was just so windy. (Blow Me Down, remember?). So I didn’t want to start a forest fire, my site is right in the edge of the woods. Instead Marty and I walked down to the beach and had a womble over the pebbles. No sea glass. I read outside for a bit but it was just so unpleasant. I came inside. Now it’s getting dark so I think I’ll make one more trip to the outhouse and then bed. Night.
**I couldn’t post last night. No service where I was and no service tonight either but there is wifi up near the camp office. So I’ll post yesterday’s blog now and today’s in the morning. Right, clear as mud?!?
## So the camp wifi didn’t have enough oomph to load pictures. Back in Corner Brook. I’ll try again. (Friday July 19)
I didn’t really want to drive too far after the crossing. We were inexplicably delayed in any event and it’s almost dark now and only 8:30pm. It’s cloudy so that may account for it. I knew there was a provincial park close to Port aux Basques so that’s where I headed.
I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with my map app. I hate google maps but the app that comes with the phone is my on again/off again friend. Mostly reliable–there was that one time in England he tried to take me over the top of a mountain and every now and then there’s a hiccup. Like today heading to the ferry terminal. I really lucked out on my timing and just as I thought I was there, nope. A car and small camper were on their way out. The driver stopped and shouted into my window, “going to the ferry?? Follow me!!!” So I did. My map app (and theirs) was taking me into long term parking. Anyway we wound up in line together and chatted up a storm. My daughter will disown me, but they have me mostly convinced to get a generator. And a few other mod cons. They had a microwave (for example, I’d never use one camping but maybe an induction burner to make my morning brew). We chatted until it was time to board and I followed him onto the ferry.I had the option of taking Marty in her kennel into the ship and leaving her in a pet room (filled with terrified and abandoned dogs, I could hear them crying all over the ship 😩) or leaving her in her own bed for the six hour crossing. I opted to leave her in the camper. This is how she was sleeping this morning. Such a little character. I really love her when she’s not making me insane.The crossing went smooth and fast actually. First thing I did was get a coffee. Excellent.Then I found a quiet spot to sit. I ate my lunch, bacon Sammie’s with cherry tomatoes. I wound two skeins of yarn into balls. I really even hesitate to mention this because I have so many unfinished projects but I want to make a Newfoundland hat. A sort of watch cap incorporating the anchor and fish and wave motives from the hats I’ve seen. I got a specially dyed skein called “forge fire”, blacks, greys and crimson colours of the forge with a skein of off-white. I charted out the pattern and can’t wait to start.
I got a snarl in the yarn about a third of the way thru. I really needed my kniddy knoddy or another pair of hands but I worked it out.
Then as I said we were delayed for some reason. I was so anxious to check on Marty but she was just fine. A little wiggle worm and happy to see me but not scarred for life I hope. She was back to her old self, growling and barking at any other dog, real or imagined.
The provincial park I’m staying at was only 15 minutes out of town. I had no reservation but no problem getting a spot. And what a lovely spot. It backs onto river rapids so I’ll hear water crashing over the ricks all night. The black flies are really bad here. Probably thru the whole province so I think I need a new can of spray. Mine is old and it doesn’t spray anymore, I can only shake out drops. I asked the girl at the reception desk what they use here and she told me her cousin uses mouthwash. Puts it in a spray bottle and sprays it. He says it works. I’m not sure. I think I’ll stick with my Muskol.
So now I’ll read a bit and then hit the hay. Corner brook tomorrow and maybe past it. I’m on my way up to L’Anse aux Meadows. The Viking settlement discovery. Also there’s no service here so I may not be able to publish till I hit Corner Brook tomorrow. Night.
This morning before heading out on my road trip I again checked my emails to see if I got the one from Atlantic Canada, the ferry operator. Nothing. Then as I was updating my hand written journal (only mileage, gas and campground) I noticed a discrepancy in the dates. My hand written note said I was on the ferry July 17 but I had paid for a campsite till the 18th. Something was wrong. So I called and got it all straightened out. I am on the ferry on the 17th so got a refund on the campsite. While in the office the three old guys running the place convinced me to go around the Trail clockwise. I had wanted to do it counterclockwise so I would be on the outside lane and maybe get a better view. But they said no the sun would be in my eyes on both sides of the peninsula. As I left there was this beautiful moth on the screen door. I think they called it a Luna moth.
Well off I went. I made camp coffee this morning and CBC was coming it nice and clear. It was going to be a great day.
My first destination was Baddeck, the home of Alexander Graham Bell. He was a great inventor, teacher of the deaf and humanitarian. His wife was deaf and he always sat across from her so she could read his lips. Theirs was a great love affair. It was also here in the winter of 1909 that the Silver Dart lifted off the ice for a record breaking distance of 800m. Bell sat on the committee of inventors responsible for the dart and it was the beginning of the Canadian aviation industry. Then onto the famous Cabot Trail. It began , as most things do, quite nicely. I arrived at the coast and marvelled at all the pretty cottages on the sand dunes. But I was hungry and ducked into a likely place for another lobster roll. Well it was jam packed full of lobster. Big chunks. But it just was only good, not great. I was disappointed. But they all can’t be good.
Chéticamp was the biggest town on the west side. Look at that lovely big church. Then the trail began climbing into the highlands and the clouds lifted. The sun came out. It was gorgeous. But the cliff side driving was not the majority of the views. The majority was thru forest. Thick, impenetrable, lush green forest. Many of the views were rolling highlands covered in thick, impenetrable, lush green forest. There was a significant amount of construction and getting a permit to pass thru the park took an ungodly amount of time. I just couldn’t figure out why people sat at the gate for sooo long. My turn came and the chatty Kathy dispensing passes cooed over the dog, asked where I was from, tried to make small talk. Seriously. Give me my pass and deal with the line up behind me!!!
I do not enjoy this type of technical drive. Ups and downs and hairpins curves. It got old really quick. I’m probably going straight to hell because this is a national treasure but I think it was a colossal waste of my time. Yes there were scenic places. Like this gorgeous harbour. There were lots of folk art places, galleries and do dad shops, kitschy arty dust catchers. I’m so done with that stuff. I don’t dust the stuff I have now, I don’t want more. The stores I was really interested in were closed (thrift shops) where you find the real art that grandpa Joe made for little Susie that she couldn’t wait to turf when she moved out etc. I don’t want a plastic lighthouse made in China. Anyway it was late when I got back to camp. I refilled the cooler with ice, choked down a couple cookies, took Marty on a long walk totally forgot to have a shot of Jager and now it’s too late. So there. Day done. I should have stayed in camp.
So ferry tomorrow and hopefully a better day. Goodnight
So today I limped into town and fuelled. I was definitely on fumes as the truck took 63 litres. I think it’s just a 65 litre tank. At least I’ve never put any more into it than that. Laundry was next and what a lovely clean little laundromat it was. Lots of magazines to read. Then a wander up the canal, which is a historic site as the canal, dug two hundred years ago links the Bras d’Or lakes with the Atlantic Ocean. This canal has unique double gates as the Atlantic side fluctuates with the tides. The only gates of this type in North America. Back to camp for lunch. I fried up a pound of bacon, good for a quick snack out of the cooler, and had yummy bacon tomato Sammie’s. It’s such a messy thing to cook I thought I’d just get it all over with rather than spread the misery over a couple days. Then I lounged around and read.
By coincidence the book I am reading now is all about the settlement of the new world and this area in particular. It starts out with two young Frenchmen who come seeking their fortune in New France and how one takes a country wife and becomes a settler and how the other becomes a timber and fur tycoon. Then it follows their descendants thru the years and all over the world as they sell timber and furs and witness the destruction of the great forests as the new world is built. Fascinating read. So I’d read a couple chapters, then walk the dog, then read a couple more chapters. I just can’t put it down.
Tomorrow I’m off on an adventure. I am going to attempt to drive the Cabot trail. The guide books recommend two or three days to drive the 185 miles. But I haven’t got that much time before the ferry and anyway, I love this campground too much to move. So I will start early and see how it goes. It’s a big circle so if I make it to the top, I’ll come down the other side. Now, another chapter of my book and then bed. Good night.
So last night was spent is a REALLY NICE Provincial Park at St Peters in Cape Breton. But it was about an hour away from the ferry port so I thought I would try to get a campground a little closer. WOW. Nothing even close to this Provincial Park. So after checking out half a dozen different campgrounds I came back. The only good thing was that CBC radio was coming in crystal clear and I love Sunday Morning with Michael Enright. I had stopped for a coffee, and sadly the only game in town was a Tim’s. I prefer to get coffee at a home grown coffee shop but Tim’s is driving them all out of business. But tomorrow I’m having camp coffee for the first time this trip. It just hasn’t seemed worthwhile before but I’m here for four nights. Might as well make the most of it.
But back to my morning drive with CBC. After the morning edition was Tapestry with Mary Hynes. Another of my favourite programs. Today was a repeat of her program of the St Johns Bible. This is a modern day bible, hand written and hand illustrated on calf skin vellum by the Queens’s own calligrapher. I can’t wait to get to a big screen to have a look at the illustrations, but they sounded fabulous on the radio. The artist incorporated modern images, the 911 disaster, the DNA helix, Hubble telescope images, and even a midwestern football game. Here is a link if you wish to see the images or listen to the program. As a confirmed he’s then I still found it all fascinating, mostly because of the script and illuminations. Enjoy…
So I got back to the campsite, and was able to get the same cosy little spot. Again I backed right in–taking your advice Ric, being a little less generous in my turning movements. Less is really more. And I’m practicing using my mirrors. So much easier than trying to peer over my shoulder as I have been doing.
I have been really good at keeping my gas tank topped up. Except today. After unhooking and leveling the camper I headed into town to do laundry and get gas. Nope. Today is Sunday and everything is closed including the gas station. My tank alarm was merrily dinging away as I came back to camp. Hopefully I’ll make it to the station tomorrow without running out.
So I sat in camp, and made a fire and sat and read my book. Listened to the waves on Bras d’Or lake. Cooked a couple of hotdogs. Rejuvenated my poutine a trou with some maple sugar and baked it over the fire. Happiness is 😊
This morning it was showering on and off. When I finally got moving and packed up I thought I’d just take a different road back to the bridge and maybe stop in Victoria for a last lobster roll on the island. Floyd pulled so well without that damn bike in the back. I made a really good decision to take it off. A better one would have been to leave the bike at home but anyway it’s not causing us anymore grief right now. It was a delightful drive along the south coast. A little rainy, mostly overcast but still so scenic. I got into Victoria at lunchtime and hit the Lobster Barn. This was the recommendation of a couple girls at Sobeys yesterday in Summerside. And boy, were they right. The first lobster roll I had nothing to compare too. It was very good. But this one blew it out of the water. Warm bun, homemade mayo, more than one lobster worth of meat in there and the bonus was excellent PEI potato salad. All washed down with a strawberry rhubarb infused ale. So good. Then across the bridge and back thru New Brunswick into Nova Scotia. I found the drive really hard today and it took forever to get anywhere. I called the ferry outfit to book my passage to Newfoundland but couldn’t get a daytime berth till Thursday. Which is good actually as it will give me time to explore Cape Breton. I was praying for a campsite the last hour of my drive and there just wasn’t one. But finally a provincial park showed up and I stopped. It’s such a lovely little park. Look how far I had to back into my site and I did it!!!All in one go too!! Anyway glad to stop. A glass of Jager and my book and now it’s lights out. G’night.
It was showery this morning so I just stayed in bed and finished my book, listening to the rain drops on the roof. These were our favourite days, back when my daughter and I would spend a few weeks camping out at the west coast. In the tent with the blankets up to our noses and the new books we just bought the day before. We loved those days the most. Marty quite enjoyed it too, lovin’ up her stinky dolly. I don’t even know what time it stopped raining, maybe 10ish. We went for a walk around the campsite trying to track down a handy man, or someone who had bolt cutters. After the broken window I tried to secure the bike with the lock so that it wouldn’t wriggle around but all I succeeded in doing was to jam the lock mechanism and then I couldn’t open it. I tried everything. We’d had that lock for years. It was a good sturdy friend and I hated to cut it off but I needed that bike off. It was just too unstable back there.
No luck on the bolt cutters but a guy doing maintenance in one of the buildings had a little grinding wheel and badabing badaboom, it was done. Then I spent the next half hour playing Tetris with the guts of the truck box, stowing the bike and bike carrier inside. My poor knees. In and out and in and out BUT I did it!! Everything fit snuggly and is accessible. All day today the truck just rode better too with that little bit of extra weight. I think Floyd will ride better tomorrow too without that bike throwing him all over the place. I still wish I had more tongue weight but we’ll see how much difference this makes. I just don’t have anything heavy to put in the front of the camper. I did buy four gallon jugs of water and have another 2 gallon jug to fill–that’s sixty pounds. The cooler and picnic basket can sit up front too. Another twenty pounds. So, we’ll see.
Yesterday I traveled around the east side of the island and today was the west side. I slowly cruised down to the south coast and stopped first off at a heritage church. This is in the heartland of Acadien PEI. The church is 125 years old, and is a tribute to an incredibly visionary priest who want a remarkable church for his remarkable Parrish. They were doing maintenance of the brick work. These bricks were made locally with the red clay of the island. I’d wanted a picture of this front gate but I didn’t take a picture of only the church front. What was I thinking?!? Inside it was beautiful!! But with that very unfortunate smell of old unused buildings in damp climates. You don’t smell this in European churches but they don’t have carpets on the floor which is where I suspect the smell was coming from. The marble pillars have quite the back story. They actually are not marble at all, but concrete. The visionary priest knew they could not afford real marble so he hired a team of Italian painters to come in. They locked everyone out of the church to protect the secrets of their techniques and with feathers (and maybe a little help from the Big Guy) created these marvellous marble pillars. They look just like the real thing!!!
Around the corner were the “glass houses”. Not a really old creation, the man who built the had seen a glass house from BC and decided to build his own. I saw a glass house in BC. Perhaps the same one-I mean how many could there be?? That house was made mostly from embalming fluid bottles from mortuaries as they were square. The man here used any bottle he could find. At that time, mid eighties or so, the only bottles that were returnable were beer and pop bottles. Everything else just went to the dump. So he began collecting and as his creation grew and people saw what he was doing they would bring him truck loads of bottles. I carried on around the point and ended up at an Acadien concert. It was quite marvellous!! Lots of fiddle and dancing and tears (the song of Evangeline is quite sad). Heading home I drove thru Summerside, the sadder sister city to Charlottetown–it was quite rubby and even with the lobster festival happening there I just really didn’t want to stop. Back at camp I warmed up a can of beans between showers, met my new neighbors and then jumped into Floyd just as the showers became a real rain. I wrote a few post cards then hopped into bed to start my new book. During a lull in the rain Marty and I made a dash to the bathrooms and now we’re are back, safely ensconced in Floyd while the rain is falling outside. Night all 😊
This morning I just thought I’d have a look at Charlottetown. I just took my time, and driving into the city, it looked like Victoria, but with much less traffic. In fact, it really was quite calm and sedate–not much traffic at all. I just wandered about trying to find the oldest part of town to look at the old houses. Then up popped the Basilica. I’m not really up on my terminology. What’s the difference between a basilica and a cathedral?? I always thought a basilica was a church within the orthodox faith, something eastern and a cathedral was the equivalent in the west. In any event this is St Dunstan’s basilica. Quite impressive for little Prince Edward Island. Then I went down to the harbour. Not as nice as Victoria. But the Main Street had tons of shops and NO traffic. Where was everyone? I parked in a shady spot and had a brief look around. But I’d read about the Churchill Arms and their British curries. I had to have one. Oh my it was good. Why couldn’t I find something like this in Britain? It wasn’t for lack of looking. Must have been looking in the wrong spots. I hadn’t thought I’d go too far so I headed up to the north coast and drove thru the national park. Very scenic. At a round about I just about gave myself whiplash when I saw a sign for thrummed mittens. I stopped and had a great visit with Betty, the lady who made all of these. These were only the mitts. Along each wall of her little shed were tables, one side filled with hats and the other with head bands. But I loved the mitts. She told me about a Woolen mill the other side of Charlottetown and I just had to go. I bought myself some yarn of course and with permission, took some pics of patterns in the hats I want to steal, I mean, use. Then I meandered home. I passed by Lucy Maud Montgomery’s birth place. It was just a lovely cottage as was the one across the street. Mauds’ was the white one. I stopped at the oyster barn down at the harbour for supper but there was no room for me. So I got some pan fried halibut to go. It was delish. I forgot to snap a pic. It was already late when I got back. Marty and I went for a long walk around the campsite and checked out the laundry room. They were out of soap so I’ll pick some up tomorrow. Then we watched a cheeky fox making the rounds of the campsites, looking for abandoned food or small pets no doubt. A spot of reading now then bed. Night.
It was a cool morning as I headed out. I don’t know, New Brunswick has always felt a little sinister to me. I think it’s the deep dark woods. All manner of deep dark things are lurking in there. Even reading about New Brunswick gives me the willies. Now here in Prince Edward Island I feel all the sinister dark things have been replaced by girly angst and hopefulness. Who has not read Anne of Green Gables?? Shame on you if you haven’t. And if you haven’t read it in years, go immediately to your bookshelves or library and read it. And if you really can’t read it, you have to watch the 1985 Canadian mini series staring Megan Follows. And if you don’t cry at least half a dozen times, you have a heart of stone. In fact read the book AND watch the mini series.
I stopped just before the Confederation bridge to get some pictures. When I crossed over back in 1982ish , it was on a ferry. The train ferry. I think the train actually rolled onto the ferry. I just tried googling it but it’s not clear. Neither is my memory. I think the rail cars actually rolled onto the ferry. I remember helping a couple older ladies with their luggage and there was just nothing for it but I was invited home and fed tea and tomato sandwiches and urged to go to the legion dance that night with their son. I don’t remember how I got out of it but I’m pretty sure I didn’t go to the dance. Anyway it’s a beautiful province, gently rolling hills, fields of potatoes and ditches full of lupins. Apparently there was a guy who was a bit of a wild man, who went about flinging lupin seeds hither and yon. The lupins we see now are descendants of those original seeds and as they vigorously self seed they are considered an invasive species and are mowed down ruthlessly. But they persist in their perennial beauty. I decided on the Cabot Provincial Park just cause I liked the name but it really is a beautiful park on the north shore of the island. I had my pick of campsites and chose one where I could hear and see the the ocean and yet had pine trees all around.
After I unhooked Floyd, whose lights all work now, I went out for an explore. I found a wool shop that had ALL the colours in the Briggs single ply yarn. So I scooped up an armful. The lady had misread the most popular new mitten book (Saltwater Mittens) from Newfoundland and ordered all single ply. Most of the patterns are for the two ply. But I prefer the single ply as the yarn is finer and the patterns have more definition. You just have to increase pattern repeats etc.
Then I just drove down this road and up that one. I stopped for an ice cream after having a camp sandwich. It was called “nuts for bacon” sundae and I don’t know what I expected. It wasn’t good enough to take a picture of and I had to eat it carefully so I didn’t loose any more teeth 😜
I stopped at this lovely old church where they were practicing some arias inside. Then down the road was a community hall where they were going to have a ceilidh tonight. And you know, I was going to go. I had every intention of going. But as I got up to walk to dog prior to leaving her in Floyd I said nope, I just want to sit here and listen to the ocean, read my book and drink my wine.
This area is a very busy fishing port. Malbeque/Malbec oysters are famous. I stopped at the wharf to have a look around. Those are bluefin tuna tails nailed to the shed. 400-1100 pounds. The ones that Japanese are crazy for?? Isn’t that the fish from the Old Man and the Sea?? I have to dig out my Hemingway. But the lobster season is done now, hence all the traps on the wharf and now it’s oysters and mussels. That will be my next meal 😊
I passed several honesty stands too this afternoon, and picked up a small bag of new potatoes. i wasn’t sure what I was going to do for supper but I thought I needed some new potatoes. I had purchased some scallops yesterday when shopping and fried them up in butter tonight with garlic and lemon. I fried up a bun in the drippings to go with them and had a glass of wine. Doesn’t get any better than that. So now the ceilidh has started. I hope I won’t be sorry I didn’t go but I’m really quite content to just sit and listen to the ocean. Good night 😊