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!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Bonavista - the Town

We enjoyed the 2 hour drive in the fog and rain out to Bonavista from Terra Nova National Park.

Newfies aren't much for turning their yards into roadside attractions, but Wayne liked the little town someone made for their yard.  There are other things to see from the side of the road, including beaver busy in the ponds.

Bonavista's big claim to fame is that it is where Cabot landed in 1497.  There are a few other historical sites around town as well.

We were drawn to the area of Inner Harbor, where the buildings with their brightly colored, sea-worn paint attracted my photographer's eye.

And the boats lining the harbor attracted Wayne's eye.

There were "flakes" in a couple of yards for drying and salting cod.  Do they do that anymore or were they just for looks and historical value?

We did have a variety of fish cakes including one made with salt cod at a local restaurant, but I'll tell you about that in a separate post covering the food of Newfoundland.  If you come to the island be aware that the roads are all short, narrow and interconnect with each in a way that makes no sense whatsoever.  Just the way it is, roll with it and enjoy the view.  Don't bring your RV into the small port towns though, it will never fit on those streets!

We visited Ye Matthew Legacy, excited to see the replica of the ship that made the crossing in 1497. In 1995 the Matthew crossed the ocean and began touring towns in Newfoundland, including Placentia.  Wayne's brother, Martin, sailed on it for awhile and he was looking forward to seeing the ship, but it turns out it wasn't the replica that came over from England.  That one is at the wharf in Bristol, and you can visit it in the open air for free, or hire it for a fee and go for a ride in it.  The one is Bonavista charges a fee, was made after the Matthew went back to England by local shipmakers and it was crowded into a building tighter than my car is in my garage.  We were very disappointed.

Other ships were plentiful in the harbor though I doubt they would let us walk around on their decks.

But the small wooden boat has a special place in my heart, it is the soul of Newfoundland.

Bonavista is a town that seems to be trying to hang onto its fishing heritage, and signs for fresh seafood were abundant.

The salt air, the cod flakes, the painted wooden buildings, it all came together and as we walked the streets I felt a whisper of the old days when cod was King.  For 500 years Newfoundland was home to seas that overflowed with cod, but the introduction of modern fishing technology depleted the fish down to 1% of their original levels.  One percent.

The fishing moratorium that was established in 1992 is still in effect 23 years later but it may be lifted soon.  It put 30,000 Newfoundlanders out of work and changed the way of life in the smaller villages, forcing many to leave for the mainland due to lack of work.

When in Newfoundland, please try to spend your money locally.  Though jobs are more plentiful than they used to be, keeping jobs here is serious business.  Besides, everything is delicious and you won't get friendlier service anywhere else in the world!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Cape Bonavista - the Headland

Just outside the town of Bonavista is the tip of the Bonavista Peninsula, which was only about a 2 hour drive from Newman Sound campground. Wayne had never been there before, so it was new territory for both of us.

Cape Bonavista Lighthouse was constructed in 1843 and is currently restored to the 1870's period. The highlight of the lighthouse is an original catoptric light mechanism that dates to 1816. An adjacent interpretation centre features exhibits on lighthouse technology and lightkeepers' lives.  But of course I was too busy wandering around outside to go check it all out.  Maybe next time.

We enjoyed walking around the headland, but we had to be careful because the wind was roaring along at over 20 mph.  And hey, is there anything sexier than the sight of a man with a Canon EF 100-400mm lens hanging from his hip?

The little offshore island was spattered with bird droppings, but far enough that even that big zoom lens wasn't going to give up its secrets.

It's funny how I thought we had lots of time on the island, but the hours fly by so quickly that we not only skipped going inside the lighthouse but skipped adjacent Dungeon Provincial Park as well.

Bonavista is where modern North America began. On June 24th, 1497, an Italian explorer sailing under the British flag for King Henry VII, made landfall in the New World. "O Buona Vista," Giovani Caboto was said to exclaim after nearly two months at sea. Oh happy site! News of the existence of the this New Found Land - and the riches of the Grand Bank fishery - spread throughout Europe after Cabot's return journey across the Atlantic.

Cape Bonavista is a great place to look out for whales and icebergs in the early summer, but we are too late for such sightings.  We did see some other things while in the town of Bonavista, including the replica of the Matthew which was Cabot's vessel when he landed there.  I'll share more of what we saw in Bonavista tomorrow.

The Coastal Trail - Terra Nova

At Terra Nova we stayed 3 nights in site 18, which happened to be across from the stairway down to Newman Sound where access to the Coastal Trail could be found.

After passing the playground and the amphitheater the trail continues on alongside the tidal mud flats.  The night we arrived the tide was in, but in the morning when we went down the tide was out.

A few Amanita mushrooms were out too!

Terra Nova became Newfoundland's first national park in 1957, but besides that I couldn't find any information on the park.  I found it strange that both the literature we were handed out and the website contained nothing but regulations and suggestions of things to do.

Terra Nova does have hiking, but after a quick look around and exploring three trails I came to the conclusion that it's not really a "hikers" park.  Enough hiking to keep you busy for about 4 days, most of the trails are fairly flat and about 2-5 km.  The Coastal Trail is 9 km out and back, Dunphy's Pond is 10 km out and back and the more difficult Outport trail is 16 km one way with backcountry camping available.

asters and goldenrod on the beach

We didn't see any moose, bear or caribou while in the park, nor did we see any eagles, woodpeckers or grouse that are reputed to be flying around.

The temperature hung around 70F, a delightful change from the hot weather down in Wisconsin, but the ragweed seems to be starting to ramp up a bit.

The only shorebird we spotted taking advantage of low tide was what appears to be a Greater Yellowlegs.  I'm just going by the field guide, the real birders out there can let me know if I'm wrong!

Down by the water's edge were shells, seaweed, and little shrimp that were too small and fast to catch an image of.

On the trail we found ferns, berries, and lichens.

partridge berries ripening in the sun

Throughout the park they are 8 locations where you can stop and have " a red chair moment", and we easily spotted 3 of them, our first on the Coastal trail.

Near the red chairs was a leftover piece of machinery that we couldn't determine the use of.

And we met up with Nathan and his new Cape Shore Water Dog.  The Cape Shore Water Dog is probably really the St. John’s water dog, with more than a bit of modern Labrador retriever ancestry.

The owner got a little miffed when I said we used to breed labs and corrected me, but look at that body and face and tell me what you think?  Besides how adorable it was!

As the trail went along we found other things.  Anyone want to hazard a guess as to what the following two items are?

Friday, August 28, 2015

Arriving at Terra Nova

It was almost a 3 hour drive from Argentia to the Newman Sound Campground at Terra Nova National Park.

The sites are nice sized with electric, and the camp store has speedy wifi.

If you're not tired of picking blueberries you can pick them right off the bush on your site.

The Visitor Center has some cool exhibits, a great gift shop, a small restaurant and even a shop that rents kayaks or has guided tours available.

The touchable tide pool was the best thing there, of course.

No time to say anything more today, but don't worry, lots more to come!