NOTE: IN ORDER TO BETTER SEE PHOTOS IN THEIR FULL 1600 PX. RESOLUTION, VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD PHOTO OR ANY PHOTO IN THE POST. This is especially true for landscape shots. Thanks to Mark for the idea of adding this alert so the photos can be seen at their best!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Kitties Go Visiting

We took our two youngest kitties to Newfoundland with us.  Wayne said they were not fans of the ferry ride, but they didn't hate hanging out at Argentia Sunset RV Park.

Jewel loves a good picnic table perch for watching birds

Usually Jewel is the adventurer, but on this trip it was Celia who couldn't wait to get outdoors every day and go wandering through the  Alders. While there are lots of actual trees in Newfoundland, there are only 21 species.

Where did Celia go?

For the most part they stayed at the campground, but we did take them to visit Wayne's Mom once.
After sniffing the whole house Celia felt most comfortable up in the window.

Wayne's Mom used to always have cats but due to her advanced age hasn't kept them in awhile.  Her smile was quite big when she got to pet them.

Nell Leonard turns 97 in a few days, but that doesn't stop her from going outside to enjoy her flowers with her visitors.  

It took them longer than usual to get acclimated to a new place, we're not sure whether it was the ferry ride or maybe just the smell of moose everywhere.

They seemed to be a little more on alert no matter how much time they were out exploring.

Well, it might be their first trip to Newfoundland, but it won't be their last so hopefully they will get used to it eventually!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Sunrise at Ferryland

I'm home in Wisconsin now, but 2 weeks ago I was up before the sun and breaking down my tent at La Manche so I could try to be at the lighthouse in Ferryland for sunrise.

Holy Trinity Cemetery, Ferryland

Before it was settled by Livyers (you know what that means if you've been following along!) it was frequented by the Portuguese, Spanish and French fleets in the 1500's.  The name probably comes from the Portuguese "Farilham" or the French name "Forillon".  The French meaning was "standing out" in this case away from the mainland.

Boats at the Colony of Avalon Visitor Center area

Stopping on the roadside to take pictures as the sky glowed pink and orange proved too tempting, but I made myself be quick so I could get out to the lighthouse and catch some good light there.

I didn't know about the Colony of Avalon until I arrived - the Colony was settled in 1621 by George Calvert who was granted a Royal Charter in 1623 and later became Lord Baltimore.  His family and the 40 colonists who wintered there in 1627 found it not to their liking though and left for the Virginia colony of Jamestown.  Later other colonists were more successful and there is an ongoing 
archaeological dig and visitor center that I am marking down on my list of places to visit with Wayne.  They weren't open at sunrise anyway, I'm sure the staff is thankful for that!

To get to the lighthouse I drove out on to the isthmus on a gravel road to the parking area.  Cars are not allowed beyond that point, and from there it was about a 20 minute walk to the lighthouse itself.

I was a little too early for golden rays to hit the lighthouse itself, and a line of low clouds was soon going to engulf the sun so I got what I could with the camera and then just walked around enjoying the peaceful morning.

Picnics are offered at the lighthouse, with homemade bread and fresh squeezed lemonade.  Visit their website for information and to make reservations.  However, I could absolutely recommend bringing a thermos of tea and a pastry to enjoy while searching the horizon for whales.  And like me you would have it all to yourself!

Ferryland Head Light was built during 1870 and 1871. The round, cylindrical light tower was built of stone and red brick and still retains its original lantern room, fitted with two rows of triangular panes of glass. Adjacent to the tower, a two-storey, pitched-roof dwelling was built for the keeper and his assistant.  But wait, that tower doesn't look like stone, does it?

From the website: As had been the case at Cape St. Mary’s, the brick tower at Ferryland continued to be a vexatious matter for the inspector. In 1881, Inspector Nevill noted, “Every year new cracks show themselves in the bricks of the light tower, and seem of quite a mysterious character. If these were extensive settlements in the work, or failure of the foundations, or rupture of the work laterally by frost, they could be understood, but none of these are apparent and still the bricks break across - a brick here and a brick there and they have to be cut out and replaced by sound ones to keep out the weather.”  An iron casing was finally applied to the tower in 1892 and has served to protect the structure ever since. This bright red covering certainly lived up to Nevill’s prediction that it would “make the building practically indestructible.”

Walking a mile in and then a mile out means I had my walk for the day but back at the Colony of Avalon parking area I had to stop and look around a little.

I took the picture below because I'd never seen a sea wall constructed in that way. It was constructed using rocks salvaged from the archaeological site, how cool is that?

Here's a short panaramic video standing on the headland behind the lighthouse. Don't worry, many more Newfoundland posts to follow even though I'm back home in Wisconsin!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Placentia Regatta

Since I talked about the St. John's Regatta yesterday today I will post up a few pictures I took at the Placentia Regatta. This year was the 56th anniversary of the event, which happened the day after we arrived.

Placentia Regatta in action 

According to the Placentia Rowing Club's website back in 1877 a determined group of Placentia fishermen carried their boat on their backs to St. John’s, won the Championship and carried their boat back home. This tremendous feat was replicated in 1977 by the Placentia Lions who carried a boat to St. John’s and won the Championship.

Wayne and his buddy Gary hanging out like the old days

The Regatta is like a giant festival of games, food concessions, and music, all centered around a full day of six-person, fixed-seat boat races on the Southeast Arm, not far from the house Wayne grew up in, and within sight of the spot where we took our kayaks out a few days later.

South East Arm - an arm of the sea that is almost enclosed like a lake

I don't usually remember things in much detail from my childhood, but I remember sitting on the grass on the hill and watching the races vaguely.  So, when I heard we would be there for the Regatta I wanted to at least make an appearance for old times sake.  We watched a few races and then moved on to other things.

Since this is an ocean themed mural and the name of the restaurant was Best Friends (like Wayne and Gary) I'll include this mural I saw in Cape Broyle on the morning I drove to the lighthouse in Ferryland.  Linking up to Monday Mural.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Allons à La Manche

Wayne wanted to go to the George Street Festival and the St. John's Regatta so I let him do that with his nephew while I made my own plans. The Royal St. John's Regatta is North America's oldest annual sporting event with documented proof of boat races going back to the year 1816.  

Wayne and his nephew Tom 

This year was the official 200th anniversary and the Townies partied all night long, including these fellas who were barely back from carousing when I came to get them the next morning!

While the b'ys were at the Regatta I was motoring down highway from St. John's to La Manche Provincial Park.  In Witless Bay I saw some boats bobbing in the water that were created by a local carpenter from Mobile.

Reportedly they are even for sale if one catches your fancy.

The 300 folks who call Tors Cove home have a lovely view of Fox Island.  The whole area from Bay Bulls to Tors Cove is a great place to visit with whale and puffin tours available.

But I wasn't after whales and puffins, I was looking for a night outside in my tent and a good hike.  Maybe my tent will smell like Newfoundland next time I unpack it!  A word of warning to tent campers, it seems to be the norm on The Rock to sleep, well, on rocks.  Bring a thick air mattress or a cot if you've got one.

The campground at La Manche was pretty good, some sites even big rig friendly.  BUT...when I asked about how to access the old La Manche village and the East Coast hiking trail I was told to walk through the campground and up the fire exit road. I asked if there was parking and the attendant just said no so off I went.  After walking 25 minutes, most of it up a steep hill, in the blazing mid-80's heat carrying 25 pounds of gear on my back I was beyond irritated to discover a parking lot at the trailhead.

East Coast Trail marker bolted to rock - take trail to the left

TO ACCESS TRAILHEAD - drive 1 km past park entrance on Highway 10 and turn onto La Manche Village road.  It was getting late in the day and that is another hour I could have had on the actual trail, but we'll put that aside now and I will know better next time and so will you!

After another 25-30 minutes of hiking, mostly in the shade, I came to a lovely swimming pond just before the La Manche suspension bridge.

Some young gents were playing Willie Nelson and a few others were swimming, but since I wasn't prepared for this I had to satisfy myself with clambering down the hill and cooling my feet off while listening to the cascade of water over the rocks at the end of the pool.

After getting back up the small hill I set off past old foundations in the abandoned village of La Manche to see the suspension bridge.  

La Manche was settled in 1840 but was always a very small community ranging from 7 to 55 inhabitants over a 100-year span due to its rugged terrain which prevented having many flakes for fish drying.  

In the mid-1960's the community was under pressure to resettle into larger, nearby towns. The road leading to La Manche was difficult and expensive to maintain, particularly in the winter.

New suspension bridge built in 1999 by the East Coast Trail Association

On January 25, 1966 a severe winter storm hit the east coast of the Avalon Peninsula. An enormous tide washed away all the flakes, boats, anchors and stores of La Manche as well as the suspension bridge which connected both sides of the harbour. Most of the houses were demolished, miraculously there were no deaths attributed to the storm. The entire economy of the village was destroyed so the residents of La Manche agreed to be resettled by the provincial government.

In French "La Manche" means "the sleeve". The area is named for the shape of the harbour, which is long and narrow with high sides.

A dory came down the cove, captained by a small dog.  As if I didn't have enough to smile about!

The water near shore was clear and green, and no black flies or mosquitoes attacked me when I stopped to admire the view.

Of course the trail continued on but the sun was getting lower in the sky and I had to turn around.

A shocking total of 307 towns and villages in Newfoundland were resettled. Over 28,000 individuals had to say good-bye to their ancestral homes and start over.  

Back across the gently swaying suspension bridge I went, with a last longing look down the cove I began my return hike.

I'm absolutely going to do some more hiking on the East Coast Trail...someday.  My cousin Darryl hikes the trail, maybe next time we can go together and pitch a tent, hopefully on a spot with grass instead of rocks!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Walking Signal Hill

My cousin Allison was up for meeting in St. John's for a hike, so we met at Signal Hill.

If you're looking for a walk, the Grand Concourse website should be able to help you out.  We started at the Geo Centre parking area on Signal Hill Road and headed down to Cabot Street before making our way to the Battery Road.  Looking at a map I'm guessing we made about a 4km loop out of it all.

Allison's dog Chance pulled her along, while I kept trying to get a look at all the colorful homes and shops.

I'd stay here, how about you?

I'd never heard of Chain Rock Battery, one of St. John's earliest defenses along with Fort Amherst. It got its name because at the time it was constructed, it was an anchoring point for a large chain that would be placed across the Narrows (the entrance to St. John's harbour) at night as a defensive measure to prevent enemy ships from entering. 

old photo of St. John's "Narrows"

In 1941 Fort Chain Rock was once used again to protect the Narrows. This time however it became the anchoring point of anti-submarine nets that spanned the harbour to protect it from enemy U-boats. The fort was later turned into a two gun AMTB battery to protect the minefield outside St. John's harbour. The two 75mm guns were originally stationed at Fort Amherst before being upgraded. Along with this the troop was equipped with two 60 inch searchlights. (Information courtesy of Hidden Newfoundland)

Chain Rock Battery

The North Head Trail starts (or ends, depending on your perspective!) at the end of the Outer Battery Road and winds along the cliffs beneath Cabot Tower and then it makes it way back upward where you could access other trails if your knees can handle it.  If you're lucky you could see whales or icebergs, but I have not been lucky enough to see either this year.

Much of the trail is boardwalk and stairs with handrails, so while it is exposed it is very safe.  Many locals use this trail as part of their regular fitness routine.  This section of trail just re-opened on August 1st after having some stairs and bridges replaced.

We were fortunate that someone offered to take our picture when we stopped at the Red Chairs for a rest and a drink of water.  Wayne and I sat in the Red Chairs on the Coastal Trail in Terra Nova three years ago.  Where does the time go?

Looking back I was amazed at what the trail looked like as we neared North Head.

Great view of the Narrows

I visited Fort Amherst last time I was home and I don't see a post about it anywhere on the blog so I'm thinking I may have misplaced the photos and didn't get them up.  Strange because I think it was near sunset, I'll have to look for them and if I find them I'll write it up.

Crumbling Fort Amherst below, lighthouse above

There is a section of the East Coast trail over there on the other side of the Narrows, maybe one of these years I will get to hike it.

More Red Chairs overlooking a cove

I noticed a new plant out on North Head - Gall of the Earth is a North American native plant and is part of the aster family.

Allison and Chance were busy noticing the view and keeping an eye out for whales.  Most hikers start at Cabot Tower and return after reaching this point at North Head but then miss out on the cliff hugging adventure that we had.  Either way your knees will be sore when you're done, though Chance seemed to have enough energy to do the loop twice.

While we didn't see any whales we did see gulls - lots of them!  We heard them before we saw them, and had to peek out over the edge for a closer look.

While in Canada these past few weeks I have listened to absolutely no news (Canadian or American) and aside from a conversation on the flight in I have not heard the name Trump or heard his voice.  I highly recommend this type of vacation to all my fellow Americans as it has been delightful to put all the drama aside and just live in the moment.

Cabot Tower

For those who are not familiar with Cabot Tower's historical significance, it is where Marconi received the first trans-Atlantic wireless message in 1901.  It was built in 1898 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of John Cabot's voyage to the New World.  In 1920 one of the first wireless trans-Atlantic transmissions of the human voice was made there.

Flag signaling also used to be done from Signal Hill (the name makes sense now!) warning ships of weather hazards or signaling the arrival of ships like the one passing through the Narrows in the photograph above.   I wonder what kind of flag would have signaled its arrival?

Cabot Tower 

The red sandstone tower is 3 stories high and its octagonal shape is an easily recognizable symbol of Newfoundland that I've seen my whole life.  I don't think there has been a time I've visited where I didn't at least see it from a distance.

Happy hikers 

After we made it up all the brutal stairs to Cabot Tower's parking area we had a view down on St. John's and a view of the Signal Hill Tattoo readying for its morning performance. Performances are at 11:00 and 3:00 on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from July 3rd to August 14th.  We didn't stick around for the re-enactment and the cannon fire but I did add it to my list of things to do someday.

I'm sure Wayne will want to come back and see the cannon fired at some future date!

Approximately 65 youth take part in the Tattoo every year, and admission is $10 for adults.

While I went in the Chocolate Cafe and bought some treats from the Newfoundland Chocolate Company, Allison and Chance made friends with some of the performers who must have been quite warm in those uniforms on a summer day.

Here's a short video of the music they were playing as they waited for showtime.