Today’s factoid: Canadians don’t use pennies anymore. Smart idea. We ought to do it given pennies are so expensive to produce. You’ll have your whiners about breaking “tradition” or feeling like they’re getting ripped off but if folks would look at all their cash transactions they’d see that over time, in a year or so, they be up or down maybe 10 cents.
Up and at ’em early again. I guess if I used my blackout curtains I’d sleep later so will have to try it.
It was clear most of the night because I kept waking up (need to stop drinking coffee so late!!) and the stars were plentiful.
Given the events of today I feel compelled to take up the priesthood.
Why? Certain that my luck would run out vis-a-vis luck with weather, etc. I took another gamble and hot-footed it to Witless Bay to try my luck at whale watching. You already know the results, right?
So let’s begin.
From Dildo you will head into an area full of hearts: Heart’s Delight, Heart’s Desire and Heart’s Content on the Baccelieu Trail which takes in Dildo, the three “Heart’s”, Winterton, Grates Cove and south through Bay de Verde, Carbonear, Harbour Grace and Cupids.
In Heart’s Content I stopped to read the signs about the first transatlantic cable that was landed back in 1866.
In 1856 the USS Niagara laid the first cable at Bay Bulls Arm (nearby but on the east coast, not in a bay.) Queen Victoria and President Buchanan exchanged messages but the cable broke shortly after. It wasn’t until 1866 that another cable was ;laid in heart’s Content by the SS Great Eastern ( a ship which is an awesome story in and of itself.)
John Guy first wrote about Heart’s Content in 1612 but it wasn’t until 1675 that 19 year-round residents lived here. By 1836 the population was 404 and shipbuilding became its name to fame.
When the cable came the company built nice homes and the town’s image improved. Between 1873 and 1894 four more cables were put in. A railroad was also built but no longer operates.
Bay de Verde was pretty and the approach to town had unusual sculptures (boats bolted/welded together with old iron, bits of this and that, dolls, etc.) Very good stuff. About half a dozen or more of them.
The entire town smells like processed fish and when I saw the big plant there I knew why.
It was all fogged in I but got some good pics. I have no idea of the scenery here because of the low cloud and fog but had read it is very pretty.
Also tried my luck at Salmon Cove Sands park and photographed a bit. They have interesting rock formations in the little cove.
Here’s an interesting bit of Newfie news: St. Anthony (near L’Anse aux Meadows) is losing its surgeons. They are off to greener pastures. I find it ironic that it is taking place in the city renowned for the exploits, sacrifice and efforts of Dr. Grenfell who brought in doctors and nurses to the area and worked tirelessly to help the fishermen and natives.
Anyway, the locals are spitting mad and the city says they have doctors lined up. They just need provincial approval.
Oh, did I mention the approval will take MONTHS?!?!?
Haven’t these bureaucratic, empire building cretinous government apparatchiks ever heard of researching the doctors via electronic means? We are, last I checked, in the 21st century. Why does it take months? It’s just another example of the wonders of nationalized health care on full display for everyone to see.
Folks there needing surgery have to be flown all the way to St John’s now. Imagine the cost of that!! But since everyone’s been taught from an early age to be a good little socialist, they accept it all without much complaint (not that it would do any good anyway.)
This is the what we can expect under Obama-Care: when you desperately need a doctor it will take months to approve it so you can show everyone how frakkin’ incompetent you can be as government workers incapable of using computers to validate a doctors credentials. It’s like waving a huge flag saying, “look at us, we’re assholes!!”
To further cement how moronic they are, they can’t certify doctors to stay but temporary doctors are available to stop gap the needs. What idiots.
Needing ice, food, wi-fi and a phone I stopped at Carbonear looking for a supermarket or a Wal-Mart knowing I could find a payphone, food and ice somewhere in them. Turns out the Wal-Mart AND supermarket are part of a large indoor mall! Yep, a Wally-World in a mall!!
Called home, called my son, called the ferry service (and they can change my booking if I need to), made reservations at St John’s campground called Pippy’s Park. Got wi-fi at McD’s so quite a productive 45 minutes.
I bypassed Harbour Grace and Cupids to try my luck at Witless Bay. It was a fairly boring drive (the van ticked over the 50,000 miles mark) as there was little to see along the way.
Started looking for boat tour places and the first had tours by zodiac: no way, camera would get soaked.
The second had all its boats booked by a filming company (saw them on a bird sanctuary island later on.)
The third was the charm, Gatherall’s. Cost $65 for 90 minutes. The crew were quick witted and funny and the boat was heaving and bucking. Passengers were bouncing around grabbing at hand holds as the boat turned to match the whales’ path and by virtue of doing so broadsided the waves rather than cutting through them. No one puked.
We had a mother and calf out there cavorting around. They were both trying to pack on the pounds feeding on capelin (a fish like a sardine) prior to heading down to the south (as the Captain said, to a “Jenny Craig” diet camp.) Lots of tail flipping, flipper waving and 1/2 breaches. No tail slapping.
Had to set both cameras to continuous firing in hopes of getting a couple of dozen pictures that would be keepers. I took close to 600. And got my “couple of dozen”
The weather was cloudy but that’s OK as very little sun would be on the photos since the camera would be pointed at the water and if the sun were out, the pictures would have exposure problems on the lighter parts of the whales and blown out completely when they splashed back into the water.
Also went by Gull Island where hundreds of thousands of birds reside to include puffins, gulls, murres, etc. Saw one gull feasting on a puffin it had raided. The puffins dig into the hillside to create protection from the gulls but the gulls are wise to this and just wait for one to pop its head out.
Nature is cruel.
In autumn and winter all the birds are gone as are the whales.
Lesson for today: NEVER look up when you are in a bird sanctuary. And carry an umbrella. I was sitting there minding my own business and got dosed by bird poop. Not much but enough that I noticed a bit on a sleeve and on the camera body.
For the night I headed to LaManche Provincial Park. Nice setting, quiet, but you have to boil the water. I suspect there are lawyers involved in this water crap. You’d think a park would put in a deep well and be done with it. They just don’t want to be sued. The ranger was a young lady that loved to give tips and ideas on what to see and do around here to include St John. I got lots of ideas from her. She also gave me restaurant names, too, for traditional Newfie dishes.
The reserve, four islands and the waters around them between Witless Bay and Bauline, is home to phenomenal numbers of seabirds that nest there to raise their young. About 530,000 leach’s storm petrels nest off Gull Island, with another 250,000 on Great Island. Green Island has 74,000 murres. And there are tens of thousands of Atlantic puffins, the provincial bird. As your tour boat cruises near the islands – they are protected areas off limits to people – you’ll see puffins running and skipping along the top of the water trying to get airborne. Here you’ll also find razorbills, great black-backed gulls, northern fulmars, black guillemots and black-legged kittiwakes.
There’s a blizzard of birds in the air throughout the day, and they are all looking for something to eat.
That something is capelin. And it’s not only the birds that eat them. Whales come near shore in late spring and summer on their annual migration. You’ll find the world’s greatest concentration of feeding humpbacks along Newfoundland’s east coast, numbering in the thousands each year. When the capelin are running (swimming), the whales perform amazingly deft manoeuvres while chasing their favourite snack. They actually herd the fish into tight schools with sound and movement, surround them with streams of bubbles, and then force them to the surface where the tiny, silvery fish quickly become dinner.
Weighing in about 30 tonnes for an adult, the humpbacks are nevertheless extremely graceful. They’ll dip below the waves for minutes at a time and then surface with a whoosh from their blowhole. Sometimes a whale, especially a younger one, will come close to a tour boat and raise an eye to all on board. Or one will breach completely out of the water and land with a mighty splash. While all this is going on, there might also be icebergs off in the distance. Some bergs weigh hundreds of thousands of tonnes and can be thousands of years old. They break off from the leading edge of glaciers on Arctic islands and drift slowly south, eventually melting southeast of Newfoundland in the warmer Gulf Stream waters.
Here’s one pirouetting:
Tried the blackout curtains last night and slept until 5:30. So it helps.
Cloudy and foggy as I headed out at 7 AM. Wanted to take in a variety of small towns along the Irish Loop Drive coast Ferryland, Fermeuse, Mistaken Point and Cape Race but much of the time the fog was too thick to see anything so I stopped at Chance Provincial Park to wait an hour or so before heading to Portugal Cove and the drive to Cape Race. I could have washed the van given all the foggy mist in the air.
Gave up the wait and headed to Portugal Cove which was founded by the Portuguese explorer Gaspar Cortes Real in the early 1500s. It’s near here that the Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve is located. Mistaken Point itself is named for sailors who thought they’d crossed the cape only to run into rocks there.
Hundreds of ships sank, thousands have died.
The Heritage Site has proof of pre-Cambrian life forms that Darwin said must have existed but he never found. All he had ever found were hard-shelled creatures and knew they HAD to have evolved from life forms that were not possessing of hard shells.
They are skeleton-less life forms that lived in the bottom of the oceans thousands of miles from here and after a volcanic eruption were buried in ash only to see the light of day hundreds of millions of years later and thousands of miles further north on rock formations sharply angled upwards as plate tectonics moved them.
What was discovered here were life forms from the Ediacaran Period, 635-541 MILLION years ago. This took place in 1967 when Shiva Misra and Paul Thompson, doing something completely different, found these fossils on the rock face, right there at their feet. And it was only as recently as 2004 that the Ediacaran Period got its name.
The Province is trying to get this place listed as a UNESCO site and there was something on the news about it this morning. The problem appears to be that the parks system cut the Park Manager position to 6 months and this threatened the chances of succeeding as UNESCO requires constant management. Once again, government bureaucrats being the assholes that they are. The site is huge and having one person there all year in the hopes of stopping those intent on stealing fossils is about as realistic as dropping a sugar cube in a swimming pool of water expecting it to be sweetened. One person will not deter thieves when you have thousands of acres. Plus, if it IS listed, people will flock here to want to see it and this, in and of itself, will give the parks the justification they need for a full time position.
But we’re dealing with the assholes at the UN, right?
Wanted to go to Cape Race to see the facility where the first telegraph signal from the Titanic was received but the road was dirt/gravel and with recent heavy rains in bad shape and I was not about to head out only to get stuck with a flat tire. Plus it was nasty foggy and virtually no one was going out there so if I got stuck I would be truly stuck.
As I said, Cape Race is the place where Titanic’s distress SOS call first hit land. They have a Myrick Wireless Interpretation Center and a Titanic Exhibit. It’s named that for the man who finally outed himself as the individual to have received the SOS: Jimmy Myrick.
He was an apprentice telegrapher at the time and happened to be in the radio room. He had two sisters named …. wait for it …. Dot and Dash!!! Given that the man on duty had left the station momentarily, it fell to little Jimmy to take the message.
His role was hushed up but he stayed in the field, went to the US, worked for RCA and eventually returned to Newfoundland. He admitted his role shortly before his death.
You can read more here. The lighthouse stayed under the care of the Myrcik’s for decades to come after that.
As recently as 2000 a descendant of Myrick has worked at the lighthouse as a keeper out at the point.
I will note that had I waited to go whale watching and gone seeing the sites yesterday then today it would have been impossible to see them. Timing, timing, timing.
If you do head this way, go to Cape Broyle and visit the Devil’s Stairway where legend has it that Satan himself left his footprints in the face of the cliff.
Ferryland has a lighthouse renowned for a new tradition: buying a picnic lunch at Lighthouse Picnics and then walking to the lighthouse.
From there head south:
Renews is the nearest harbour on the southern Avalon to the fishing banks offshore. Renews and nearby Fermeuse were unsuccessfully settled by Welsh colonists in the early 1600s, under a scheme promoted by Sir William Vaughan. A point of interest in the area is the grotto where Mass was celebrated secretly at night in the late 1500s when Catholicism was suppressed by the Protestant English.
I saw none of these things due to fog and I especially wanted to do the picnic at Freeland.
Giving up I headed straight to St John’s …. and glad I did.
It was sunny there and I checked in to Pippy Park campground smack in the heart of the city. All facilities to include bus service nearby and a manned (wo-manned) information desk. She told me things to see and do and one was the Kitchen Party at Quidi Vidi brewery.Tonight! She also gave me a site close to the wi-fi so that I would not have to lug the laptop to the shelter “hot spot.”
So I parked, checked weather for departure, checked email, etc. and headed out.
The first stop was “The Inn of Old” which is owned by a lady named Linda and run by one named Ruth—who’s quite the character. The pub is decorated with all sorts of memorabilia and one of the locals told me a band did a Queen cover basically where we were standing.
Have a listen: (you’ll just have to deal with the weird “eye contact” thing)
The floor area they are standing in is not level and seems almost convex so if you’ve had too many you’ll think you’re on a pitching ship.
Had a beer, chatted with the barkeep, took some pictures and headed to Quidi Vidi down the road.
What a great location they have.
A tiny bay with steep rock walls surrounding it. The brewery itself is not a large complex so I think they brew mostly for Newfies, little for export. The have a beer called Iceberg which is made with millions-years-old ice from local icebergs. Very smooth.
The area is so pretty brides come from miles around to have their wedding pictures taken there. And there was one there today.
The “Kitchen party” started at 5:30 and within minutes the place was standing room only.
It was great fun. Great beer. And good soup. The band was the “pick up” variety and they invite folks to come up and play and sing. For the most part it was Irish and Newfie songs.
Explains why it’s called the “Irish Loop” drive, eh?
I took a pic of my beer glass against window background and then borrowed a blue bottle from lady to do same. She squealed in excitement and all of a sudden it started a stampede of people wanting to do the same. I had to move as they swarmed over. It was REALLY weird to watch the mob mentality and see the “wave” as one noticed it, then another and another all striving to take that picture. And the one with the blue bottle was the worst as you could not read the label without washing out the background.
Here it is: