We were treated to our best breakfast since starting the trip. Mango smoothie, assorted fruit, cheese, cold cuts, bacon, eggs, and toast with excellent European-style coffee. After 26 days, I even got a real espresso. To top it all off, china and crockery are very tasteful. Contented, we headed back to Bouctouch. We walked the 800m sand dune boardwalk built by JD Irving for the town of Bouctouch. It is part of the JD Irving Eco Centre complete with an Information Centre and an Interpretative Centre. First-class installation that fits with the business ethic of the Irving Family.
On a whim visited Le Pays de la Sagouine and discovered an extremely well-done re-creation of an Acadian village plus an Information Centre, Theatre, boardwalk, and theme buildings, e.g. barber shop, kitchen, and bar. This place absolutely blew us out of the water! They are a fantastic group of entertainers (all Acadians). Great storytelling in three venues, plus the grand finale involving all the artists on site. Highly talented group who are passionate about their history and performances. Hard for us as non-francophones to pick up a lot of the words, but the music, toe-tapping and hand clapping were outstanding. We could both follow the stories of La Sagouine, Evangeline and Les Racines. Both so happy about our decision to spend a few hours there. Also glad it is the start of the season, as there weren’t too many people. Highly recommended for anyone interested in this part of Canadian history.
Off to our last supper in NB, then an early start as we have now decided to go all the way back to Montreal in one shot – 10 hours or so.
One last thing, Glenn wore a t-shirt outside for the first time in a month!!!!!! Laughed when actually perspired and thought back to the 5C, wind, rain, tuques, woollen gloves, and winter jackets only two short weeks ago.
08:30 disembarked and hit the road at North Sydney for the 6-hour trip to St Louis. Again another rainy and cold day. We just can seem to get away from them.
Unfortunate for a Quebecer who had a flat tire, the ferry staff were super amazing, I'm guessing it's not the first time given the 35km dirt road everyone has to take to the ferry. We didn't stick around to watch!
Detoured to Cape Jourimain to take a look and take a few pics of the Confederation Bridge to PEI. We stopped at the Cape Jourimain Nature Center for a short 800 meter boardwalk hike to get a better view of the bridge and to see an historic 19 Century Lighthouse.
Then off to Bouctouche, a great little town in Acadia. Home of KC Irving, who started the Irving Empire with one Ford Dealership in Bouctouche many years ago, saw his statue – very well done.
Checked in at L’ancrage B&B in St Louis de Kent. A little piece of Europe (Dutch) in the middle of New Brunswick! So tastefully done with many little extra touches, with an amazing European breakfast. Kors and Lianne are great hosts.
We had dinner at 5 Etoiles, recommend by Kors, interesting Resto, to get a bottle a wine the owner said "go down to the wine cellar and pick your wine" , Well this was no ordinary cellar, the pic's tell the story...lol.
One more try at St Vincent's for whale sighting has yet to be successful. Dismal, cold and windy again, we were told by a couple that was there earlier, "Oh, they were in abundance a couple of hours ago" It looks like we missed the 'feeding frenzy' by two days and today a couple of hours, – the luck of the draw.
Stop briefly in Placentia for fish chowder lunch (blt for Sylvia). We got to the ferry super early and got an outside cabin with a window. Very nice vessel and the crew was super friendly.
Having eaten so many fries and so much fat for a month, we opted for a very light dinner and then kicked around on the deck to catch the sunset at 9:15 p.m. - beautiful as the pics show: smooth sailing and great sleep.
When we returned to our cars at 8 a.m., the car next to us had a flat tire, and the staff were again over the top helpful; we didn't stick around to watch.
Up at the crack of dawn as the weather was right for the whales. As we closed in on St Vincent’s, which is 30 minutes away, the fog closed in on us! Visited two beaches and the only whales we saw were on the iPhone of a fellow traveller! Lousy weather again so headed back to our Inn for breakfast. Decided it was a quiet day.
Last feed of lobster tonight as we leave The Rock tomorrow. Speaking to our local waitress we were informed that the place we are staying viz., a schoolteacher’s home aka as the Barricks because it was the old RCMP headquarters and the local lockup for Trepassy’s occasional drunks.
Another interesting tidbit. At the moment rain, wind and 10C so we feel in our element. Pack up tonight.
Did not take out the camera today - sorry no photos.
We booked a couple of hours with the O’Brien Boys Boat Tours at Bay Bulls to see birds and whales to celebrate our Patron, Saint St John the Baptist. Outstanding! By far the warmest day of our trip, and we wore T-shirts. But by the time we cleared the headlands, we were back to our winter coats and woollen tuques! Many, many thousands of puffins and other sea birds on our way out to the open sea. Then the fun started. Saw 20 or 30 whales, including humpbacks and minke, both babies and adults. Tail flipping and breaching all over the place. Hard for Sylvia to take pictures with her long lenses, but got some ok shots. Many oohs and awes from even the crew: good Newfie music and one screeching-in ceremony. Despite less than-good weather, we have now seen the bergs, birds and whales, which was the goal for the trip. Mission accomplished, but not great shots, very difficult to take from a boat swaying back and forth.
Continued on the Irish Loop towards Trepassy. Whole change of topography. Flat, barren and windswept. Beautiful but isolated. Too bad the Irish didn’t have better road-building skills, as the potholes were as bad as Westmount’s! Checked in at The Edge of the Avalon Inn (edge being the keyword here) in Trepassy and then decided to check out St Vincent’s 40 km away, where the caplin hang out in the millions and actually come onto the beach. Water drops off very fast at the beach, so the whales follow the caplin right into shore. This is a major viewing centre, and as described by our hosts at the Inn in Trepassy, the ‘feeding frenzy’ at St Vincent’s beach is ongoing and a must-see – great reports from other Guests yesterday. Hope springs eternal, so we drove off in clear skies, but as we rounded the peninsula, clear skies turned to thick fog. Undeterred, given our recent experiences with wind, rain and fog up the northern peninsula, we pressed on. Found the beach, but WTH? There were only two other vehicles there. Did somebody know something we didn’t know? Never mind, we put our winter gear on and bent into the cold wind off the North Atlantic as we struggled down the beach, always mindful of the myriad of Waring Signs that were posted at the parking lot, e.g., Beware of Ocean, Go at Your Own Risk. Dangerous Rip Tides, you could be swept out to sea and drown! Waves were pretty high, so Glenn kept checking out to the sides and behind to be sure no sneaky rogue wave had crept up behind us to deliver us as bait to the lurky whales who were waiting to start a feeding frenzy (see above). Survived the five minutes on the beach and decided to call it quits as the fog became thicker.
A 30-minute drive back on A-IL, aka the Irish Loop Autoroute, brought us back to Trepassy in time for dinner and much deserved bed. Agreed that should we awaken early, we would head back to a possible feeding frenzy in the morning – which we did; please see June 25 post.
Sightseeing in St John's – great harbour, beautiful sights, tough sledding up and down the hills, got to George St for lunch – a little tired looking and seems Water St making inroads as a place to be – hiked to Fort Amherst, great views of the narrows from across from Signal Hill. Great shots of vessels coming into St John's harbour. Incredible natural harbour for sure. Looked at all the stairs we had climbed (all 99 of them) in 2005 to get to the top of Signal Hill and were happy we did it then and didn't wait till 2023!
The day's highlight was a three-hour tour with professional photographer Michael Windsor. We were referred to him by members of the Montreal Camera Club who Sylvia knows well, viz., John Zimmerman and George Lieberman, who were on a few incredible photo trips with him. in the last few years. He took us to several vantage points we would not have seen and gave Sylvia tips on what to take and how to take the shots—a great evening for photography.
Highlights included Petty Harbour, a beautiful small fishing port with a very narrow entranceway from the sea, and Quidi Vidi, an old fishing area of St John's, now a touristy area.
The end of the tour took us to the harbour, where there was a lot of action as CNN's Anderson Cooper was reporting live as some of the rescue vessels from the Titan were returning to port. Big deal in St John's, and for $20mm p.a., hopefully, he read well from the teleprompter.
Short hop to St John's, so decided to visit Cupids and Brigus en route, amongst the oldest settlements in North America – 1610. Brigus and Trinity vie for the prettiest towns in Newfoundland. Exceptional to visit. On the water, neat, tidy and prosperous from fishing. We got to St John's and were on Airport Road, so took a spin to the airport. A couple of US Air Force transport planes there were most probably related to the Titan disaster. Went to Craig Dobbin Road. Glenn had met him on business, a serious character who made CHC Helicopters a huge success.
Before checking in made a couple of sightseeing stops, Signal Hill, Cape Spear to see the lighthouse and took a couple of shots of the Jellybean Row houses.
Off to Jellybean Row Houses for our Airbnb. Lovely 3 storey houses in downtown St John's, a 10-minute walk to George St. I Got settled and then walked over to Sue Grey and Dan's home, met husband Dan Levert for the first time and local legend 96-year-old Margo Reid: beautiful house and warm, friendly people. Margo, who graduated from the RVH Nursing school in the mid to late forties, is married into the prominent Newfoundland Reid Family. Newfoundland Railway fame. A charming, warm lady who knows everyone who needs to be known and most informative to be with. Dan was a top engineer then Chief in-house legal counsel for Kewit Corp. he Spent a few years in St John's working with Kewit contracts.
After retiring, he and Sue made the decision to retire in St. John's. Dan is affable, knowledgeable, and a pleasure to be around. He authored On Cold Iron …….a story on the collapse of the Quebec Bridge in 1907 Particularly interesting to Glenn as that matter was discussed at home in Quebec City over many years. We hadn't seen Sue for years, a wonderful person.
On our way to the restaurant, we stopped to see the Terry Fox memorial, where he had dipped his foot in the Atlantic before setting off across Canada. First contact on the trip with people we knew. We enjoy a wonderful evening with great company at a local walkable restaurant.
Called it a night. .
NO RAIN AND POSSIBILTY OF SUN - HALLELUJAH! – not sure we could handle it. Decided we needed some exercise, so we went to Bay Roberts to see more sea stacks and do a bit of walking. We were not disappointed. The sun came out, and we had our first real view of it in over three weeks – wow, even Newfoundlanders are in a state of shock. Ah well, the day was outstanding at 15-20C. No wind and clear blue skies. Incredible topography. Steep cliffs, beautiful seas. The walk was a big highlight thus far. We were headed towards the end of the North Avalon Peninsula, 90 minutes away. 15 minutes in, Glenn said, “I have had it.”
I agreed—almost a month of non-stop morning-to-night go-go in really crappy weather. So back to the B&B mid-afternoon to cool it in the sun on the lawn. Great decision! We went to Carbonear for dinner and came across Glenn’s wealthy and influential ancestor, John Rorke Merchants Group buildings – no problem, the spelling has evolved slightly in the past 215 years. Saw a refrigerated shrimp boat coming back to Harbour Grace Harbour. Supposedly at sea for 25 days or so, cargo shrimp destined for overseas is estimated at a $20 million value—happy day with great sun. Off to St John’s tomorrow, and for those RMGCers, we will have drinks and dinner with Sue Gray John’s daughter and her husband.
A fast peek out the window revealed no change in the weather as many had promised. Heavy fog and rain,5C AGAIN! Heading south, we were optimistic things would finally change! No luck, really, although the rain started to let up. First pictures of Newfoundland’s propensity to have double entendre names with possible sexual connotations were successfully taken, viz., Town of Come by Chance. Given the awful weather, we decided to push forward to second set of such pictures when we hit the Town of Dildo of Honorary Mayor Jimmy Kimmel fame. Beautiful little town, and, by then, the rain had stopped – we held our breaths. Off to check in at the Rothsay House Historic Building, our B&B, for two nights. Impressive building from the 1800s with great hosts Lyne and George, then an evening trip to see the sea stacks at Salmon Cove Beach. Beautiful, but the water looked mighty cold. Did a short hike, the best part, there was no one else around. It might have had something to do with the fact that it was freezing! We headed back and managed to watch a wild-looking black horse gallop about, and at one point, we thought he was going to jump the fence. Back to B&B and called it a day.
Early morning weather was mildly inclement – interpretation- 6C, drizzle and serious fog. Reorganized for the final leg to home in 1 week (hard to believe).
Headed out for a hike on a local boardwalk, decided to forget it. No puffins at sight #2 , the Bonavista Lighthouse, so off we go to Elliston for the 4th time in a London Pea Soup Fog. Lo and behold, the fog dissipated somewhat, and we had our fingers crossed there would be puffins at the #1 spot.
Got a tip from a fellow Quebecer who was returning from the site that there were thousands. Could it be we struck gold? So, trekked out in the mud, only two other brave souls there – but there they were, the puffins, that is!!!! Thousands may be a stretch, but hundreds guaranteed.
So 4th time lucky, and we were happy to have persisted so Sylvia could get some shots and she did indeed. A few puffins were a few feet away, Sylvia marked off the icebergs and now the puffins, next is the whales. As we were leaving, about 15 – 20 people arrived – how dare they! We were, therefore, very fortunate to have the place to ourselves for a while.
We were going to hike some more, but the rain rolled back in dragging fog with it, so since we had seen the elusive puffins, we bought some food to cook and paid Mr. Irving’s petrol station (cleanest washrooms in the industry) a visit in preparation for our trip to Harbour Grace tomorrow. Spoke to the B&B owner there, who said the forecast was getting better by the day – forever hopeful.