Port au choix
Today was a tee-shirt day except for the gale-force winds at Norris Point. On the road by 10 a.m. headed north, we decided to venture into many little outport villages along the way. Extremely neat and well-kept, and we expect the fishing industry provides a pretty good standard of living. But it is tough beyond belief with , back-breaking work, middle-of-the-night departures, cold water, high winds and sometimes two or three outings per day. It will make us genuinely better appreciate seafood, especially lobster and snow crab.
Stopped at Arches Provincial Park to look at the beautiful rock formation carved by the seas over millions of years. Almost all the cars in the parking lot were from Quebec, including a serious monster-type RV! We reached Port au Choix, where we are staying at Jeannie’s B&B; it has a warm and cozy home-like feeling. We were quite surprised at how big the town is, had some delicious buns freshly baked in a wood-burning outdoor stone oven; they were terrific. Port au Choi was settled by lighthouse keepers from Quebec and Basque fisherman. It still has a strong French influence—a reasonably large town with many fishing boats. Real Estate looks more prosperous than other villages we’ve seen. Point Riche Lighthouse in the National Historic Site is one of the tallest lighthouses in NL with the strongest strobe. Not a huge day but we really enjoyed the scenery and driving through the various villages. Due to high winds and rough seas on the Strait of Belle Isle and the fact that the ferry has been cancelled several times in the past few days, we have cancelled our trip to Labrador as we can’t chance getting over but not getting back for a few days. Instead, we will spend one extra day in St. Anthony. Sylvia is not very happy as she was looking forward to putting her foot on Labrador land, don’t know if there will be a next time.
French Bread Oven Program - Bread Backing at 2 p.m. every day
A down day for R&R; although the temperature reached a high of 12 degrees, the gusting winds were so strong it felt like 0 degrees. Sylvia had to travel to Deer Lake to pick up an Amazon package; on the way there and back, she stopped to take a few pics; the wind was so intense she couldn't open the car door but managed to get out a couple of times only to be almost blown away. Repacking our bags tonight – all 15 pieces …lol for the next leg to Port Saunders tomorrow.
More Gros Morne
Headed north again to the Western Brook Pond Tour, hiked in 45 mins to the dock; it was an old fjord that millions of years ago was cut off from the sea, now fresh water. It is one of the most famous sites in all of Gros Morne and it is truly majestic. We did not do so well with the seating as we were stuck behind some young female doctors jumping up and down. None the less incredible sights with water down 300 ft at the shoreline. The shear rockface's highest point is 47 meters taller than the CN tower. Spectacular is the only word to describe it.
Ended our day at the Anchor's Aweigh Show in Rocky Harbour. A couple from Williams Lake, BC, Brenda and Wayne Henke who we sat with, happened to know our photographer friend Chris Harris, and Wayne had also recently returned from cycling Le Petit Train du Nord north of Montreal. Small world, after all! This band of 5 was led by Braden Parsons, who had been the lead guide on our Bonne Bay Cruise, and the accordion player was the Captain of the vessel for the Western Brook Pond cruise. Everybody works for Bon Tours, a prominent fixture in local tourism.
The show got off to a bang, the band was very good, and everybody was into it - singing and foot stomping then OOPs 45 minutes in everything went dark as there was a major power failure in a large section of Newfoundland. No idea when it the power was to come back so we decided to leave as we still had some daylight to get into our Airbnb and ready ourselves for an early night. Couldn’t even pay our bill so we left by giving them our credit card number and hope they don't wipe out the town’s bank debt with it.
Gros Morne National Park
Hectic day, traveled 1 hour from Norris Point to Woody Point—the site of the popular annual Writer's Festival. Parks Canada Discovery Center at Woody Point is exceptional, with great staff and exhibits of Gros Morne. There is an iconic image that I wanted to take (below is an internet shot). When I asked the lady at the counter, she said that "Oh, that's a day hike one way) and continued to say, "As far as I am concerned, there is another spot that is more spectacular to view to photograph, that's the Trout River Pond."
Drove to Trout River and saw the spectacular Trout River Pond. Hiked for 45 minutes in the famous Tablelands; immensity was overwhelming.
Had lunch in Woody Point at a cute diner called The Merchant Warehouse Retro Café and Wine Bar, one of the village hot spots overlooking Bonne Bay. Live entertainment and popular with the locals and ‘those from away’ alike. Great people.
Rushed back to take a 4 p.m. cruise of Bonne Bay with Bon Tours, managed to get front-row seats on the bow, and the sun came out - amazing. Saw two bald eagles at their nest – cool. But no other wildlife except a couple of curious seals. But we were entertained with interesting stories of settlements around the bay, including Woody Point. This was our first taste of the small fishing outports in NL; amazing how the people endured such hardships.
Then headed north to Cow Head for a Theater Show at the Gros Morne Theater Festival. Were booked to see Neddy Norris Night billed as a "Journey through Newfoundland and Labrador Culture." First change, three days in advance, the show changed for unknown reasons to Daniel Payne and Friends billed as a Newfoundland musical night with Daniel a renown local musician. Second change- the water main outside the Theater had burst, so the venue was moved to the Shallow Bay Motel across the street. Third change, Daniel got covid and vertigo, so his Friends did the show. Fourth change, the Friends did not sing (that was Daniel’s job), so it was, quote, melodies only – one accordion with A and D cords and a guitar, turned into a bit of a Newfoundland Kitchen Party as some local talent pitched in by singing and playing the guitar. The Friends were bantering back and forth with each other and with the audience. We thought we were on the Johnny Harris' show. All was good fun, and the music was foot stomping; Glenn joined in.
Gros Morne - June 3-7
On the road from Cornerbook to Norris Point, more driving rain and friggin’ cold; outlook is a little dismal. At long last, we got to Gros Morne National Park, which is at the top of everybody's list when visiting Newfoundland. We reached Norris Point looking for our Airbnb, The Little Wild. It took us a while to find it as the address is number 24b Bugdens Cove Rd which happens to be adjacent to number 8, tucked away behind rows of houses! Fabulous ocean view looking over Wild Cove with the Tablelands in the background.
Unpacked and jumped right back in the car and headed to a famous Lighthouse at Lobster Cove Head. Glenn had a long discussion with Duncan from Cow Head, who, after 25 years as a teacher, was happy to find a job with Parks Canada where people would listen to him as he couldn’t get his 10-year-old pupils to do so over a 25-year career as a teacher! Great storyteller with a strong Newfie accent and a wild vocabulary. He told us an interesting story about the SS Ethie, which was purposefully foundered on the rocks at Martin's Point between Bonne Bay and Cow Head by the Captain during a wild storm. Everyone survived as local residents strung a line from trees on shore to the boat and dragged everybody (over 50) one at a time across sitting on a chair, including one baby in a mail bag. Had a great first lobster dinner at the Fisherman’s Landing Restaurant in Rocky Harbour. You'll notice a claw missing; pic was an afterthought. While Glenn was paying the bill, I couldn't help but chuckle at the White Xmas tree still on display.Turns out it's an Occassion Tree that changes throughout the year, this months flavour is Father's Day.
Drive to Norris Point
The Little Wild Airbnb and views
Norris Point and Neddies Harbour
Lobster Cove Lighthouse
Port aux Basques / Cornerbrook
Made it to the Rock!
Below are a few photos of Port aux Basques (Gateway to Newfoundland) upon our arrival. We disembarked at 7:30 a.m. and toured the Port aux Basques area. We visited the Rose Blanche granite Lighthouse. Originally built in 1871 and restored in 1999. They are no longer manned with the beacon solar powered. As luck had it, the weather from Montreal and New Brunswick changed dramatically - rained all the way to Cornerbrook. First disappointment is we had to cancel our 4-hour dory tour with Duncan Barr to see bald eagles, whales, other waterfowl and have a mussel boil-up. Wise advice from Duncan to avoid unwanted problems. Water is about 4C. A few pics of the Kruger Paper Mill where Glenn first met a long time and recently departed friend George Bunze – brought back memories. We were booked for two nights in Cornerbrook, but decided it was best to get out of dodge and head north to Norris Point. Lousy drive with much rain on the roads and from the skies.
Port aux Basques
Rose Blanche Lighthouse
Our 5-hour drive from Pictou to Sydney was long, but the beautiful scenic highway made it pleasurable. Below is a picture of the devastation caused all over Nova Scotia and Newfoundland by Fiona in September 2022. Cape Breton is full of outstanding topography and scenery.
We were far away from the forest fires in the Halifax and South Shore areas – thank you for those who asked if we were close. We spent some time and had dinner at the very attractive Sydney Harbour Front. Live and learn, did not reserve at the highly recommended Governor’s Pub and Eatery so had to go to an almost deserted !! 7 by 7 resto. Then off to North Sydney to board the Ferry at 9:15 for an 11:15 departure. Very efficient, clean and reminded us of our great BC Ferry trips on the West Coast last year. We got a cabin and slept through the whole 7-hour trip – no unwanted swells.
North Sydney Ferry to NL
A down day at Pictou after the long drive. Museum at Hector Quay, where the replica of The Hector, the first sailing vessel to bring Scottish Settlers to Pictou in the 18th century being refurbished, is outstanding. Glenn offered to help the Design Engineer and Project Manager if he had any issues. After considerable laughter, he politely declined. Beautiful countryside saw some remnants of destruction from hurricane Fiona, went to and walked the Melmerby Beach for a half hour – gorgeous sand, visited the fishery museum and then a fast trip to New Glasgow for seafood chowder - so getting anxious for lobster. We ended our day with a trip to Caribou Island to get a shot of the Lighthouse; the road is so narrow that you are able to see the ocean from both sides. On Jun 1, we are off to Newfoundland.
Another 5-hour drive to Pictou (pronounced as Pic Toe, not Pic Two, as we were firmly corrected) NS. Staying in a wonderful B&B, beautifully decorated home full of 160-year-old charm and original stained-glass windows. Found out that the new owners purchased all the antiques on Market Place. A friend said you've had a long drive, time for wine, so of to the NSLC; we went to buy a couple of Kim Crawfords. We enjoyed a seafood casserole at the Harbour House Resto.
The Shortest and the Longest Bridge Hartland NB
SeaBank House B&B - built by R Grant a prominent businessman, merchant, President of the Bank of Pictou now Scotia Bank and Senator in Ottawa late 1800s. This 160 year old house has been beautiful restored by Elizabeth and Glenn, highly recommended for anyone traveling to Pictou. We had the Queen's room, fit for a Kind and Queen.
Left Montreal at 11 a.m., 5 minutes away from home. I said, "I think I forgot something," Glenn asked if I wanted to go back, and I said no, well I did forget something very important, the card reader to transfer my photos from my cameras to my computer! Pretty upsetting, but yesterday I ordered the card reader from Amazon to have it delivered to the hotel we are staying at in Deer Lake. Thank goodness for Amazon.
Arrived in Grand Falls, NB hometown of our famous RMGC Pal Ray McManus around 5 p.m. dinner at Harbour House, then after directions from the local constabulary - off to see the falls; they were not so grand, but ruggedly interesting as they are created by a series of rock ledges over which the river drops 75ft.