Rita's Lost Canadian Adventures 2009





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07/07/2009 Day one of 'Rita's Lost Canadian Adventures' started off well.  My concern over my 35 minute connecting flight in Newark was lessoned when we arrived 10 minutes early.  It completely disappeared when my gates were side by side. Despite leaving Newark 20 minutes late, I was still able to get through customs at Halifax Airport, pick up my rental car, and get off on my driving right on time! 

Perk 1 - Flying into Newark you could see the Manhattan skyline with the Empire State Building clearly visible. Flying out, I had a really good view of the Statue of Liberty.  Perk 2 - 60 degrees outside in Nova Scotia, and as I write this at 9:30pm, it's now about 54, and should bottom out at 50 in the morning when I start day two.

Only change to my itinerary was to stop my scenic drive along the Canso Water Causeway at Guysborough instead of going the extra 62 miles round trip to Canso.  My day will start about 5:00am tomorrow, so see you later.
07/08/2009 Day two of my awesome adventure was almost perfect. It started out, not at 50 degrees, but at 43!  I actually had to put on my jacket and wear socks on my feet.

My first stop was Baddeck and the Alexander Graham Bell Museum. It was really fascinating.  Jessica would love the part of his experiments in flight.  I actually found the road that lead to his home where he and his wife are buried; but since the home is still occupied by members of his family,  I was able to constrain myself and not intrude.

At Elizabethtown, I went to the Gaelic College which was established to preserve the Scottish Gaelic language and all of the old traditions, music skills, and arts and crafts.  Moira would love this.

Next was the fortress at Louisburg,  It was here that a major battle was fought between the British and the French (who occupied the fort) over control of North Eastern America.  On the otherside of the bay was the Louisburg lighthouse - the first one ever erected in North America.

At Glace Bay I saw the museum where Marconi first erected a telegraph post aimed accross the ocean.  I was also supposed to go on a mine tour, but try as I may, I couldn't find the location. That was the only scheduled item I did not complete today.

Not making the mine tour, however, give me more time to noodle around the historic part of Sydney.  Originally, I only had an hour, but I got to see everything on my itinerary and a few things I had previously scrapped when I finalized my plans.

Lastly, I made my way to North Sydney to board my ferry boat for the 14 hour overnight crossing to Newfoundland.  I'm sitting in my reserved recliner with the laptop on the windowsill next to my seat watching the sunset as I wait to depart.

Today was the first time I actually had to pick up souvenirs.  Usually postcards vastly out-number the photograpghs, but so far the photos are still in the lead.

Till tomorrow........
07/09/2009 It's day three, and I'm still on the boat.  The recliner wasn't as comfortable as I would have hoped, but I still managed 5-6 hours of sleep.  After my first good meal since I started (breakfast), I'm anxiously awaiting my arrival on Newfounland soil. 

Even clouds with silver linings occassionally rain!  Today was basically a bust.  When we left last night we were 45 mnutes late.  Then the trip took 15&1/2 hours, not 14. Finally, disgorging my rental beastie from the belly of the boat took about three times longer than it should have.  Bottom line, I landed on Newfoundland soil three hours late.

Knowing there was no way I could do a whale watching cruise (we spotted two whales while on the ferry) I opted to go ahead with the scenic, slower route.  It was well worth it. The scenery was spectacular.

Although I arrived at Avalon in Ferryland by 6:10, I found out they were closed despite advertising on their website they were open until seven!  I had recovered 45 minutes from my earlier delays by the time I got there, and since I couldn't get in, I gained back 2 more hours.  This put me into St. Johns pretty much on time.

I got to see most of the sights I had outlined on my itinerary, and additionaly saw their capital building.  Because downtown was so hectic, there wasn't anywhere to park and take pictures.

So today, I ended up with no souviners and no photos; I'll close with those immortal words uttered by Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind: "Tomorrow is another day".

Til tomorrow.........
07/10/2009 Day Four - and a red letter day it was! I did absolutely everything on my agenda, and still got to my cabin (see last five pics) before 6:00pm.

I left this morning about 20 minutes early and was able to catch an earlier ferry to Bell Island.  This gave me thirty extra minutes to explore.  I was able to completely circle the island and get up to the lighthouse, in addition to the mine tour & museum which was already on my schedule.  These little boats only hold about 20 vehicles and if your subject to motion sickness, you'd be in trouble.  Unlike the big baby I was yesterday, I loved today; standing on the top deck, outside feeling that ocean breeze.  The only "wildlife" I've seen so far was here on Bell Island - a pair of rabbits!

In Brigus, I went to the Hawthorne house built in 1830 by the grandparents of the Captain who took Admiral Byrd to explore the Arctic.  It was very nice and there were letters sent to him from Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, along with lots of other famous people.

The last stop for the day was in Trinity.  This historic town dates back to the late 17th century.  A walking and driving tour turned up some pretty neat buildings.  The interpretive center had lots of info on the history of this town.  After seeing the sights I went to the mercantile and enjoyed a cup of Ice cream, while sitting on the porch enjoying the weather and the flavor of the place.

Perks: I discovered Tim Horton Restaurants, which specialize in coffee, pastries, hoagie sandwiches and to my delight homemade chili.  This was a nice change to my limited soft foods diet.  Between the diet and all the walking and stair climbing, I'll be home several pounds lighter. Today was a good example of a lot of walking and climbing - I have swollen feet to prove it.

Till tomorrow....
07/11/2009 Day five - the halfway point.  Another day in which I saw everything on my agenda and even one of tomorrow's events. But there were some poor moments along with the good ones.

First Stop was Terra Nova National Park.  Very nice drive and a really good visitors center.  Had a good diagram about how the icebergs get out into the Atlantic, and just where the Titanic hit one of these between Greenland & Newfoundland.

Second stop in Salvage was a disappointment.  The town was interesting with a lot of lobster fishing boats, but the Fisherman's museum was a bit if a bust.  It suggested an hour and a half visit. I quit before the first 30 minutes.  Between the hour I saved here, and the 30 minutes early I left this morning, I was able to fit in an extra event.

Third stop was in Gander at the Aviation Museum.  Jessie would be in heaven.  I took lots of pics for her and got one of her birthday gifts here.  It was well worth the stop.

Next was Boyd's Cove and the Beothuk Interpretive Center.  These were a group of Native Americans who became completely extinct because of European Settlement.  The center was really good.  I did not opt to make the three kilometer walk to the archeological dig site.  This was an area I was scheduled to see first thing tomorrow morning, but fit it in because of the extra time I saved. 

Lastly, my final stop was Twillingate, where I am spending the night.  Here at Long Point, you can look out into the Atlantic and see the icebergs as they slowly drift by.  They were pretty far away, but I think the three pics I took will let you see some of them.  Pretty impressive.  Also, there is a lighthouse that is still operational.  The Twillingate museum had some nice turn-of-the-century artifacts and the winery was nice, although I refrained from doing any tasting.

The only other minus, was my poor judgment when applying sunscreen to my face. About 20 minutes into my drive first thing this morning, I rubbed my left eye and got sunscreen in it.  It's been stinging and watering ever since.  I even had to stop and get into my suitcase to get eye drops to help the situation.  It's basically OK as I write this, but I am still feeling a little irritation.

Till tomorrow....
07/12/2009 Day Six, two-thirds through!  If the first picture looks a little strange, it is a photo of a trash receptacle. They come in several shapes, sizes and colors, but this seems to be the most common one.  Instead of the ugly barrels we hide until we take them to the curb on trash day, these remain at the end of the driveway, tactfully hiding the bags inside.  Of course, Nova Scotia & Newfoundland are a little backwards when it comes to the garbage, but it does look a lot nicer.

Because of my extra stop yesterday and an hour and a half earlier start this morning, I had plenty of time to do the only remaining scheduled visit.  The Salmoniod Interpretation Center is where ladders are installed to help the Atlantic Salmon get to their spawning grounds.  I know you can see something similar on the Columbia River between Washington & Oregon, but I learned there were significant differences between the Pacific and the Atlantic varieties.  In the west they live about three years and die after their first and only spawning. Their Atlantic cousins live for about eight years and usually get to spawn three times.

With about four hours to spare, I went to Corner Brook and the Marble Mountain ski resort at Seady Brook which were scheduled for Tuesday.  Then I backtracked to Deer Lake for the evening.  This will give me at least one or more extra hours and allow me to do one of the items I had to drop due to what I thought were time restraints.  The mountains here still have a few patches of Snow remaining on them, and the scenery is absolutely breathtaking.  At Steady Brook I picked up two more tardy birthday gifts, for Sienna and Jennifer.  That finishes the three I was behind.

Perks for today - lots of cardio exercise. At Grand Falls - Windsor in order to visit the salmon and see the falls, I had to climb down 79 steps, walk about a kilometer round trip, then climb back up those same 79 steps.  I earned lots of brownie points with that visit.  Then for lunch at a little roadside diner, I had a complete Salmon dinner for $9.95 ($8.95 American).  Great taste and a great bargain.

See you tomorrow as my trip starts to wind down...
07/13/2009 Day Seven - WOW!  This has been an incredible day.  The schedule was correct for today.  I did everything except the Port-au-Choix Lighthouse.  It was raining when I arrived, and I opted to check into my hotel.  Hopefully I can swing by the lighthouse in the AM on my way out of town.  If the weather is still raining, I'll skip it.  It's not like I haven't already seen several other lighthouses.

This was the day with the longest haul driving-wise.  It was 606 Kilometers from Deer Creek to St. Anthony. If you look at a map of Newfoundland, this is the northern arm along the west side of he province.  Since I have been besting Rand McNally's estimated driving times by 20%, I had plenty of time to see and do everything.

The scenery was fabulous.  Mountains and forests all of a sudden turned into my following along the Atlantic Ocean coastline.  It reminded me of my youth when I went up the Pacific Coast Highway north of Los Angeles with the ocean on the west and the mountains on the east.  Also I caught sight of my first moose.  As I rounded a curve, I spotted three of them bathing in an inlet.  I zoomed in as closely as I could with my camera, but you can easily see them in the picture.

The biggest surprise was all of the icebergs.  My visit to Twillingate was supposed to be "iceberg alley", but I saw three times as many today!  The sights at Grenfall in St. Anthony were good, and the Norse 1000 AD archeological site was really fascinating.

Other interesting notes: Along the side of the road were stacks of neatly sized wood in various lengths.  Most of the time they weren't near any kind of building, just sitting there.  There were also stacks of lobster traps either along the road or along the beach.  There weren't any signs stating why they were there.  They must have a really strong honor system here, which I could believe.  If this had been back home, they would be stripped bare in a matter of hours.

Also, the mountains still have some snow on them, and one of the pics shows this.  Don't confuse it with pictures of icebergs.  Also notice in the photo of the ulility pole, the box of rocks holding it up.  On the east side of the province, 70-80% were this way.  In the center, maybe 10-20% were found.  On the west side its more like 30-40%.  I haven't a clue why.  Maybe the water table is too high or the ground is too rocky. If I think about it, I'll try to ask someone if they know why.

Only two days left, so til tomrrow.....
07/14/2009 Day eight and I am writing this aboard my "short" ferry ride back to Nova Scotia - this one's only supposed to be six hours long.  I did get to see the Port-au-Choix lighthouse this morning, and with my 20% better driving time and having seen Steady Brook and Corner Brook two days ago, I got to Port au Basques two and a half hours earlier than scheduled.  Had time to not only take the railroad tour, but plug in the Rose-Blanche lighthouse, and take a leisurely lunch before heading to the terminal.  They began loading us at 3:00 NT and it went a lot smoother than the one a week ago.  Hopefully we will leave on time and arrive on time, so I can get a few hours sleep before making a beeline to the Airport tomorrow.

On the road I discovered Arches.  Not quite the same as the one in Utah, but the principle was the same, rocks carved out by the ocean.  First pic of the day.  Also I spotted a fox walking along the road.  Not enough time to shoot him though.  When I got to the Marble Mountain Ski Resort, I found them open this time and was able to get trail maps.

I deliberately kept my car only a quarter full of gas when I put her aboard the ship, since gas is a good nickel cheaper in NS.  Other notes, this ship is the shorter traveling of the two, but is ten times fancier.  It will be a good crossing.  My hotel is supposedly only a few blocks from the terminal in North Sydney, so God willing, I'll be checked in and in bed by 11PM.

For tomorrow, there won't be anything new to report, so I will finish with my overall perspective of my trip.  Till then...

Just spotted a pair of pilot whales.  So, again, I didn't need a whale cruise, but the puffin has alluded me on both coasts!  Another note, the captain made the 4.5-6 hour voyage in 4.25 hours, so I got to my hotel by 8:30, in plenty of time for a full nights's sleep!