Tuesday, August 30, 2011


High time I got back to blogging!  There's always a lot to catch up on when you've been a while, and this was no exception.  Most of the catching up had to do with the garden, although I've been so blessed this year that S. took care of everything while we were gone, even picking, blanching and freezing whatever came ripe.

This profusion of roses is what we see out our back door, just the other side of the driveway.  There's lots blooming all over the landscape, but there's also a definite feeling of "end of season."  Things are starting to look a little droopy, so S. and Jim are starting the fall cleanup of the landscape.  Our tractor is being repaired just now, so that will make carting away all the cuttings quite a job for them.  The vegetable garden is also coming to an end, although we are still picking buckets full of wonderful, big strawberries.

Now, back to a week ago Saturday when we had checked into the Clarenville Inn, had a nice meal of tortellini in the restaurant late in the afternoon, and settled in for a restful evening.  Jim usually channel surfs pretty regularly, but came upon a really interesting program on CBC entitled, "Regarding our Father," an hour long film about a certain Gerald S. Doyle, born in King's Cove, Newfoundland early in the 1900's.  When he graduated from high school he moved to St. John's a worked in a pharmacy.  A company which manufactured a "patent medicine" asked him to be their representative, and he found he had a real flare for selling.  Soon he was representing several companies, selling such things as Dr. Doan's Little Liver Pills, Cod Liver Oil, etc.  He had a yacht built which he named Miss Newfoundland and began to make the rounds of all the little "outports" every summer.  People waited for his visit, and came thronging down to the dock where he would pass out samples to one and all.  The patent medicines were important to them, because they didn't have access to doctors or pharmacies.

As he made his rounds, and became friends with so many of these isolated families, he became interested in the profusion of folk songs by which they entertained themselves.  He began collecting the words to the songs and published them in a book which he distributed free of charge.  Along with the songs, the books contained advertisements for the products he sold.

He married, built a large house in Saint John's and had seven sons and finally one daughter.

When radio came along in the 1930's he had a program called The Doyle Bulletin on which families could pass along messages, a unique service for the isolated outports.  For thirty-three years this program, which was a free service, was a community lifeline for the families who lived in the little fishing ports along the coastline.  He also published "Family Friends," a free newspaper.  He was always interested in what kept these communities going.

In 1940 he published a new edition of his songbook, this time with the music in addition to the words.  Newfoundlanders began to realize the treasure they had in this body of folk music.  A third edition came out on 1954.

It was a very interesting program, especially since it incorporated a lot of film that he had shot over the years with a movie camera he bought in the 1930's.  I always enjoy watching film like that: it's as close as we can come to time travel.

The next morning, Sunday, we set out on the way to Bonavista.  One of the tiny towns we drove through was King's Cove.  In fact, that was the spot of the missed photo op--an attractive view of a typical fishing village, but I was unable to snap the picture because there was no place to stop the car--narrow road, no shoulders, and another vehicle behind us.  But kind of neat to learn all that about Gerald Doyle, and then the next morning to see the small village he came from.

As we visited the Ryan Premises in Bonavista we came into the "Fish Store" where there is a display about the history of the cod fishery.  One of the first scenes featured a model of John Cabot, who landed there sometime in the 1490's.  The mannikin representing John Cabot was dressed in a dark cloak with a snug black cap on his head.  He was the spitting image of M.G., the Arab leader who is currently the object of a search.  (I don't want to mention his name and risk being noticed by a Google search!)  Jim and I both had a laugh over this, but had a bigger laugh when we returned to our hotel that evening, and the situation in Libya was all over the news.  We thought we could let them know where he's hiding out: in the fish store in Bonavista.  After the fact, I wished I had snapped a picture of that particular display!

So that was the second coincidence of that day.

A third amusing thing: I had put the remains of a litre of milk into my insulated travel mug, as I hadn't found the refrigerator in the hotel room (because it was hiding behind a door disguised as a set of drawers.)  I figured the milk would keep cool in the mug.  But it did get pretty hot in the parked car that afternoon.  The next morning when I went to pour out the milk, I found it had clabbered clear down to the bottom!  It was only later when we were packing up that I found the hidden fridge which would have kept the milk good.  I've made yogurt in the past that didn't clabber as well as that mug of milk!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

All the Way Home

Yesterday we lounged around our hotel room at Clarenville Inn until noon, and then drove in to St. John's where we had a room reserved at Comfort Inn, just 1/2 km. from the airport.  We unloaded the car, making sure to remove all of our belongings.  Then we gassed up at a nearby station, and drove the car back to the airport to return it to Budget Rentals.  All went well.  We were happy with the vehicle we've been using for the last two weeks, and the rental agency was fine.  The vehicle was ready, gassed up and clean when we picked it up, and we had no hassles returning it.  One small note: the young woman who checked it over was the first Newfoundlander we encountered in a commercial context who did not smile, act friendly, and say thank you.  In fact, I don't think she said anything.  She checked the car for damage, made sure that the tank was full, checked the odometer and printed out a charge slip.  All done without a smile or a thank you.  Oh well, everyone else was great!

We chose Comfort Inn near the Airport because they have a 24 hour shuttle service. So after we turned in the car, we left the terminal, hailed the shuttle and were soon back at our hotel.

That evening, sans vehicle, we dined at Clancy's in the Comfort Inn, Airport.  I can recommend it without reserveration.  The service was fast and friendly and the food was great!  I had a pizza--kind of.  It was pan seared chicken, mushrooms, onions, and peppers with cheese on a flat bread.  That covered half of a very large dinner plate.  The other half was a wonderful salad: lettuce; red, yellow and green peppers, onions, mushrooms and mandarin sections with your choice of dressing.  It was a terrific meal, totally tasty.

Of course, when you have to catch a plane in the morning you never sleep too soundly, but it wasn't bad.  We had a wake-up call at 6 a.m.  A continental breakfast is available from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m., and the shuttle was at the door when we wanted to leave to 7 a.m.

All went smoothly, and WestJet delivered us safely back to Calgary before 11:30 Mountain Time.  S. was there to meet us with our car, and we were home by 1 p.m.

I dug some potatoes and carrots and cooked up our first homemade meal in two weeks.  Although I must say that all our meals out were great with the exception of my scallop dinner in Bonavista at R and J's.  The breading and deepfrying ruined the scallops in my opinion, but other than that one meal, our meals in Newfoundland were uniformly excellent.

It seems strange to be sitting in our own living room in Alberta after waking up this morning in St. John's.  But it is also great not to have to drive all that distance.

This was a lovely holiday.  We think Newfoundland is very beautiful, and its people are admirable.  Thanks to all for a wonderful time!  Newfoundland hospitality hits the spot!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Last Day of Sightseeing

Today we drove north through the Bonavista peninsula all the way to Bonavista itself. Along the way we saw some very typical sights:  such as this house.  To me, this is a very typical Newfoundland house: square, front door in the middle downstairs with a window on either side, and three widows evenly spaced on the second floor.  The only atypical thing here is the replacement window on the left, obviously a newer window.  This house seems to be abandoned.

Then there are the typical towns, houses scattered along the hillside, facing the water.  We drove by a really good photo op, but with a vehicle behind us and a narrow road, we said, "We'll just remember how nice that was."  Here there were driveways we could pull into.

Around noon we came to Bonavista and stopped to visit the Ryan Premises, a National Historic Site.  We found this very worthwhile and spent about two and a half hours here.  These buildings are the Retail Shop on the right,which is a souvenir shop, and that building also includes the old office of James Ryan, the proprietor.

The second building behind that is the Retail Store--which contains the orientation centre with an excellent introduction to the east coast fishery story.  This was a comprehensive display that also taught much about the cod themselves.  There was a history of the whole fishery, and of the Ryan Premises themselves.  James Ryan was the merchant who supplied the needs of the fishermen and took payment in dried cod.  He had a large house across the road from these buildings.

On the second floor is the Bonavista museum, a large room with lots of old objects donated by townspeople and organized into area by topics.

There was an excellent display case with drawings and text that explained how the fishermen knew where they were on the water.  They memorized the landmarks all around and lined themselves up front and back by these landmarks.  That could tell them just where they were on the water, and over what area of sea bottom they were placed.  Certain areas were excellent for fishing at certain times.  It was possible to catch a ton of cod overnight, just using a "handline."

We had learned much about the plight of these desperately poor, incredibly hard-working fishermen and their families in other displays, and it was a bit unsettling to read about it from the merchant's side of things.

There were two other buildings on the site, a Fish store with more displays and a Salt Store, used to store the huge amounts of salt needed for the cod fishery until modern times when the catch was quickly frozen.  Now it contains a display of "Outport furniture," furniture made by the residents of the isolated fishing villages, known as "outports."  They made use of whatever they could find, mainly shipping crates, as can be determined by looking at the back of the furniture, or the undersides of drawers, where the original printing is still found.

We were so fortunate to catch a demonstration by this guide, Rick, of how fish "were made."  He's carrying a cod for the demonstration--but this cod is made of cloth and has detachable parts.  Rick was terrific: dressed as a typical fisherman, he talked and demonstrated just how the fish were handled once they were caught.

The season began sometime in May when the cod came in close to the shore following the run of cappelin.  The main catch followed until sometime in July/August.  The work was intense because the cod would spoil if left in the heat of summer.  As soon as the boats came in the fish were flung onto the "stage" with pitchforks.  Men, women and children worked together to quickly move the cod to tables where they were beheaded, slit open, the livers saved to make cod liver oil, the rest of the offal thrown back into the water under the stage.

They were then salted and left for some time, after which they were rinsed and laid out on "flakes" which were platforms held several feet off the ground.  There they were dried by the sun and the weather, turned several times.  When they were dried they were stored and in the fall taken to the store to be applied against the debt incurred when the necessary supplies had been bought "on credit" in the spring.

All that work had to be done very quickly, to preserve the quality of the cod, and because in a few hours there would be another couple tons to process.  Men, women and even children worked incredibly hard, just to maintain a miserable level of subsistence.

Here's a view of the Bonavista harbour today, a lovely, colourful place.  You can see that the weather has improved over the course of the day.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Twillingate and back

This morning we drove to the end of the
road past Twillingate where the Long Point Lighthouse is located.  There are some frightful cliffs here, but some secure viewing areas.  I thought the water dashing on the rocks was beautiful.

What you can't see in this picture, but what I was able to get with my good telephoto capability in my Canon G10 was this fishing boat, working out near this point, pursued by a large flock of gulls.

One of the signs at the viewpoint was quite informative on icebergs.  And my made-up word "berglet" doesn't make the list.

We left the point and drove back through Twillingate and as far as Boyd's Cove where we took the road to Gander.  The other choice was a long, winding road along the coast, and we've seen lots of coastline.

Along the way I snapped a photo of an iconic roadside sight:
These trash containers are everywhere.  They look like two lobster traps, the lower one bottom up and the top one bottom down.  I don't know if that's intentional, but wherever we've gone this is the style of trash container out by the road.  Your garbage cans fit into here and are neatly out of sight while waiting for pickup.

That is one thing we have noticed here--there is very little littering along the roads.  People take pride in keeping the province clean and "presentable."  The other thing we notice is that very few properties are landscaped.  Of course, there are some places with lovely gardens, but I would guess that a good majority, like this nice new home, have no formal landscaping.  Now that's something that we tend to notice, since we run a garden centre!

We drove along Hwy 1 as far east as Clarenville where we looked for a B and B but ended up in Clarenville Inn, a large hotel on the highway.  No complaints, though, we have a groundfloor room facing away from the highway, and we're sure it will be quiet here tonight.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Beothuks

Today we visited the Beothuk Interpretation Centre at Boyd's Cove on the way to Twillingate, a fine centre, worth going out of your way for.  The Beothuks were likely the descendants of the people known as Recent Indians.

They had a wonderful site for their village here on the Notre Dame Bay.  This is a gravel esker, which provided drainage for rainy weather, with a fresh water stream running  beside it (now called Indian Brook) which has, and had, a heavy smelt run in the spring, a wonderful food resource for them.

At this grassy site there are eleven shallow depressions here showing that there were elven dwellings.  Starting in 1981, when the site was discovered by archaeologist Ralph Pastore, four of these dwelling sites were excavated.  A huge amount of artifacts were recovered.

Another advantage of this site was the protected beach where they draw up their canoes.

There were many animal resources nearby also: caribou, black bears, polar bears, plus lots of berries and a variety of trees that provided wood for their needs. There were many kinds of birds: duck, geese, seabirds, used as meat and eggs.

The Beothuks were here when the Europeans arrive to fish these waters, but rather than initiate trade with them, the Beothuks withdrew, avoiding contact.  When the Europeans would leave at the end of the season, the Beothuks would return and scavenge the gear and old boats left behind.  They burned the boats in order to "free" the iron nails which they then fashioned into useful tools for themselves.  So this contact opened the way for a new technology to be developed.  Of course, when the Europeans returned and found their gear and boats missing or destroyed, then viewed the Beothuks as enemies.

This contact had two main harmful effects (other than the enmity), one of which was the introduction of European diseases against which the natives had no immunity.  The other was starvation as they were driven away from their traditional sources of food.

Later the Europeans tried to make matters better by capturing a few Beothuks with the idea of teaching them English and using them as interpreters.  However, both women captured, Mary March and Shawnadithit, died within a year of being captured.  Before her death Shawnadithit provided many clues to the Beothuk culture with her drawings and words, but as she was the last surviving Beothuk, when she died these people were gone forever.

The Visitor Centre has excellent displays, though not extensive, and a good 20 minute film showing the discovery, excavation and interpretation of the site.

We then drove north on 340 to Twillingate and got the last room at Kelsie's Inn, a lovely, spacious room in a quite new facility.  Had supper at R and J's restaurant, including a soft serve cone to eat on the way "home."

Sunny Day

Thursday, August 18
After a fine breakfast at Jeannie's we started south on Hwy 430.  It was a sunny, windy day.  There were lots of whitecaps on the Gulf of St. Lawrence, along which we were travelling.

To our left, the mountains that we couldn't see at all for fog on the way north were now visible.  At first, they were totally covered with clouds, but slowly the clouds lifted and I was able to  get this picture.

Our first stop was at The Arches Provincial Park, which is immediately beside the highway.  This is an example of the action of rocks and waves over the ages in breaking down some of the limestone cliffs along the shoreline.

The vegetation along the shore is severely battered by the wind, and often the windward side is bare of leaves and looks quite dead, while the lee side seems fine.  There was this grove of dead trees at the Arches, and I wondered what had killed them all.  Was it a fire that destroyed them?  They were just bare, white skeletons of trees, and in the morning sunshine they seemed quite striking and even beautiful.

The roadsides in Newfoundland abound in wildflowers.  Here is a closeup of just a few fireweeds, but in many areas they turn the entire roadside a beautiful mauve.  There are many other flowers also: more buttercups than we've seen anywhere else--probably because a lot of this land is boggy.

Although the land along 430 northward is fairly flat once you leave the coastline to head toward Deer Lake, you enter the hilly areas.  Newfoundland is definitely rock, hills, water and flowers.

Although we were warned of many moose, we've seen only one, and that was at L'Anse Aux Meadows where there are five moose in residence. Most likely they realize they are protected from hunters there in the National Site.

We stayed the night in Grand Falls-Windsor.  The three B and B's we tried were full up, and we're at Hotel Robin Hood, with a great corner room, breezy and bright with windows on two sides.  Today we head up the "Discovery Trail" toward Twillingate.  There's a good Interpretive Centre on the Beothuk Indians at Boyd's Cove that we hope to visit.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Icebergs and lighthouses

There was a patch of blue in the sky when we got up this morning, so we decided to drive down "iceberg lane" on our way out of St. Anthony.  But by the time we were at St. Anthony's Bight the sky was overcast so the icebergs were not shining as they had been on Monday.  Nevertheless they were exciting to me.

I was able to take some pictures and to speak with a local whose home was at the end of the road turn-around.  He said it was unusual to have so much ice in August.  The miserably cold, wet summer they've had kept the bergs from melting completely.

There was a little "sales table" in front of one home at which you could buy some iceberg ice for $2.50.  You have to admire people who try to turn a circumstance into an advantage!  We passed up the offer and headed back toward Dear Lake, intending to work our way slowly back to St. John's taking in as much of the sights as we can along the way.

We took Hwy 432 (Grenfell Trail) back to 430.  From the St. Anthony airport corner to Roddickton corner it was a good new road.
This is one of the many private gardens we have seen alongside the highways in this Northern Peninsula.

Between Roddickton and Plum Point there was 20 Km. of very rough road--speed limit of 50 Km/hr.  On this roadway we saw three abandoned Tim Horton's coffee cups.  Later back on 430 I stopped bought a cup of take-out and discovered they were not Tim Horton's, but Mother ---- (forgot the name).

This part of the trip reminded us very much of northern Ontario, especially where there were rock cuts alongside the road.  I guess there's a reason that Newfoundland is called "The Rock."

We decided to leave 430 and go to Port Au Choix where there is a National Historic Site.  Hoping to stay here overnight we dropped in to Jeannie's Sunrise B and B and were happy to get a lovely room.

The visitor centre explains the history of habitation on this point of land, dating back to about 5,000 years ago.  The first people to make use of this very rich seacoast area were the Maritime Archaic Indian people.  They were followed by the Groswater and Dorset Paleoeskimos, then the Recent Indians, ancestors of the Beothuk.  The earliest Europeans came in the 1700's: Basque, French and English fishermen.  There is a representation of an ancient home, plus very many interesting artifacts that have been recovered here.  There was a particularly rich burial ground that yielded many clues to how the peoples lived here.

Our final stop was at the lighthouse at Point Riche.  This looks out over the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which at this point is so wide you cannot see the other shore, even with binoculars.  I don't know if the lighthouse is still in operation, but rather doubt it, as the door was boarded up.  There was no sign giving information about the history of this lighthouse, but it seems in excellent repair.

Just a note on bakeapples.  We had heard of this fruit, but had no idea what it was.  I took this picture at the Salmonier Nature Park.  We were guessing that these were bunchberries.  When we took the guided tour at L'Anse Aux Meadows, we learned that these are bakeapples.  I was given one to taste and was surprised to find they take like applesauce!  Later the guide at the Visitor Centre there explained the name.  The French called these "Baie Q'Apelle," which translates to "the berries that are called...."  But the English picked up only this first part, and not the actual name, so they became bakeapples.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Rainy Day

Yesterday as we approached St. Anthony I was very excited to see some (small) icebergs in the water.  I'd never seen an iceberg before and was struck by how very white and luminous they are.

We drove into town to register at Hotel North, and lost sight of them.

On the way to L'Anse Aux Meadows we saw them again, and farther on the way saw a whole lot of little, little pieces.  There was no place to safely pull off the road to get a picture, so I figured we'd catch them on the way back.  I did get this picture of what I'm calling "berglets" as they are very tiny fragments.  Closer to St. Anthony we turned left toward St. Anthony's Bight and were trying to find a place with a good view of the ice.

Unfortunately, the Dear One was finished for the day--headache, etc., so we gave up before we got a picture, saying we'd try again in the morning.

Today dawned dark and drizzly.  We drove to an overlook, but because of the fog could see nothing at all.  This was definitely a day for indoor activity, so we took ourselves to the "Grenfell Historic Properties" which is right in town here.  There's a lovely Interpretation Centre with excellent displays.

Dr. Wilfred Thomason Grenfell was an amazing person.  Born in England in 1865 he chose to be a doctor, and inspired by Dwight Moody he committed his life to serving God through the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen.  In 1892 he came to the Newfoundland/Labrador coast and found his life's work, helping the impoverished fisher families along the isolated coast.

Full of energy and daring he set up hospitals, orphanages, schools, even a co-op trading post to try to help the fishermen escape their eternal indebtedness to the merchants who supplied them and took their catch in payment.  He married an American woman who was well connected in "society" and she, too, worked with enthusiasm in all his adventures.  Their impact on the lives of the coastal people can hardly be exaggerated.

One of their endeavours, particularly of Anna's, was to establish craft cooperatives to give the women a chance to earn some money also.  Their hooked rugs became immensely popular and sold very well through many outlets in England, Canada and the U.S.  They also produced very fine, hand-embroidered outerwear.  In fact, a new cloth, called Grenfell cotton, a 600 thread per inch fabric, was invented in response to Dr. Grenfell's request for protective clothing for the north country.

I visited the Gift Shop and saw the very well done handknits and hooked rugs.  When we were at the Gift Shop in Hawthorne Cottage I saw other beautifully knit mittens, hats, etc. and commented to the saleswoman, "That looks like Briggs and Little yarn!"  She gave a noncommittal reply.  Evidently she's not a knitter!  And here in the Gift Shop at the Grenfell Properties I noticed the same thing.

And then I saw BINS of Briggs and Little Yarns!  Wow!  At home I would have to order them over the internet, and here they were in volume and lots of gorgeous colours.  You have to be a knitter to understand my excitement over this.  And they were only $4.99 for four ounces!  I limited myself to four skeins, enough and more for two wonderful pair of wool socks.

Then, as a souvenir of Newfoundland I chose this lovely little (7 1/2" x 9") hooked rug.  The workmanship on these hooked rugs is marvelous.  And this little red house with the sky and seabirds in the background looked pretty typical to me.  I'll put this on our coffee table at home and remember Grenfell and his wonderful contributions to the wellbeing of the people on the Newfoundland / Labrador Coast.

Since it was still a rainy day, we didn't feel like going for a hike as we had planned, so we returned to our hotel for a quiet afternoon.  I used the time to continue knitting on my project for this trip: a pair of socks for Dear Daughter #2.  This is a Mary Maxim yarn made from 75% bamboo and 25% nylon in a colour called "Hibiscus."  This is a very fine yarn--32 stitches to 4 inches, so it's taking a long time to knit.  It's a pretty lace pattern that I'm enjoying, and it's only the second pair of socks that I've ever knit from the toe up.

There's another "Yarn Tale" connected to these socks that I had planned to blog earlier, but then my computer went down and took the yarn pictures with it.  Maybe they'll be back sometime in the future.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Northern Peninsula

First a few photos that haven't made it to the blog yet, because of various difficulties.  Here we have a carefully laid cobblestone floor from the Avalon colony, still good four hundred years later, and showing the drainage system.  The larger cobbles at the right slant downward toward each other, forming a shallow ditch that channels rain and waste water away from the buildings.

The building outlined in the rear was a storage building, proved to be such by a lack of a fireplace, and therefore an unheated building.

Baking bread in an open hearth:  the bread is in the Dutch oven, which has a lid.  The pan (called a Dutch oven) is placed in heaped up coals on the hearth, and more hot coals are shoveled on top of the pot.  After about half an hour the bread is ready.

Walking on the 14 foot wide, cobblestoned Main Street of the Avalon Colony.  The selfsame stones that Lord Baltimore and all the other colonists walked on in the 1600's.

Some additional comments on Sunday's drive: Highway 1 west is mostly a 2 lane highway, but with many, many, many, many passing lanes, so few people are tempted into dangerous passing.

In St John's there was a noticeable absence of horn blowing in spite of congested, narrow streets with traffic often at a standstill.  Drivers trying to exit a parking spot and enter from a side street were allowed into the traffic stream.

Seems that Newfoundland drivers have good manners!

Cross-country impressions: lots of stunted trees, rocks (all sizes), water: ponds, lakes, inlets, coves, bays, ocean, clouds, and of course rain and fog!

Sunday evening we were fortunate to find a room at the Candlelight B and B in Rocky Harbour in Gros Morne National park.  This nifty place used to be a church and was converted to a B and B by Winston Pearcey, who runs the place singlehandedly.  We certainly admired him, with all his accomplishments and his friendly way of doing things, including cooking the breakfast for all of us this morning.  The only reason there was a vacancy was because St. John's was fogged in and the planes were unable to take off for Deer Lake.

Monday morning we drove north of 430, Viking Trail.  This is a 2 lane road, dotted with many small villages, with the Gulf of St. Lawrence on our left. The land around here is quite level and very boggy.  We drove through patches of sun and fog and I kept watching for moose, but never did see any.

Gros Morne Park is overrun by moose--around 500 of them--way too many.  They are altering the ecosystem by their numbers.  After much discussion it has been decided to "harvest" some moose.  The hunters are called "harvesters."  Nowhere are the words, shoot," "kill" or "butcher" used.  It's funny, beef are butchered, moose are harvested.  Are we more unfeeling toward our domestic animals than toward wild animals?

By the time we reached St. Anthony the weather was gorgeous.  Best day of the summer they've had here.  We had managed to reserve a room at Hotel North, (newly renovated and under new management) and were able to check into our room.  We have a good room complete with a small kitchen, so I went across the road to the Foodland and picked up some groceries, including lots of fruit.

By 3 p.m. we were at L'Anse Aux Meadows, the site that Vikings stayed at 1000 years ago.  There is a very nice visitor center with a good film about how the site was discovered and authenticated.  Authentication actually depended upon the finding of a bronze cloak pin (typical of Norsemen), one iron nail and a stone whorl, which is the weight used on a drop spindle.

The name L'Anse Aux Meadows is a corruption of the French "L'Anse Aux Medea"--Anse meaning a cove and Medea after a ship that anchored there, which ship was named after the tragic Greek heroine Medea, wife of Jason the Argonaut.

I've been attracted to L'Anse Aux Meadows ever since I first heard of it many years ago.  It's the pull of touching history--visiting the very spot where the Viking worked and lived 1000 years ago.

But it was a little disappointing.  In contrast with John Guy's colony in Cupids and the Avalon Colony, there is not much to see, just these grassy areas that show where the walls and doors were.  The excavation has been filled in again.  This indentation was identified as the women's workshop--because the weight for the drop spindle and several stones used as loom weights were found here.

Of course, these building were made with sod walls and sod roofs on top of wooden frames.  So there is really nothing remaining as there was in those other colonies.  Also, this was not a permanent settlement, but a way stop for repairing their ships and it was occupied during a 25 year span, perhaps not even continually occupied.

There is a separate area where the settlement is replicated.  We're told that this is 90% accurate.  All was carefully researched both by archaeology and by a careful study of the Norse sagas.  Here Jim is peering into one of the small dwellings.

This is an interior of one of the sod homes, showing some of the activities that would have taken place there.  I had some other pictures taken in the large building, with a woman in period costume who explained much of the work that had been carried on there, but those pictures turned out too dark to include.

We're glad we went.  It was interesting.  Two other interesting things we learned today: There are loads of piles of cut wood beside the highway.  Families obtain a permit to cut logs in a certain area.  They go in and cut and stack the logs for their winter firewood.  There are also many small fenced gardens in the cleared areas beside the highway.  One of the rangers working the L'Anse Aux Meadows explained that the gardens are there because that soil was turned over in road construction and the tannic acid in the soil leached out the bottom, leaving dirt that has a pH high enough for growing a garden.

Now it seems to me that these piles of firewood and vegetable gardens, unprotected and unmolested beside the highway, say something pretty good about the character of Newfoundlanders.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

What did we do?

Well, let's see, on Saturday morning we left and drove south and east to Witless Bay.  Doesn't Newfoundland have some colourful place names?

We thought to go to an ecological reserve there, but weren't able to find it.  Newfoundland has great advertising for tourism, but not great signs to help tourists find their attractions.  It's possible that this reserve is only a maritime reserve.  The map shows a dotted circle out in the Atlantic that might be the reserve.

As we were driving down the peninsula toward Ferryland the sun came out for the first time since we arrived in Newfoundland and we enjoyed a beautiful summer day.

Ferryland was named by the Spanish who came fishing here in the 1500's, and the name (in its original Spanish spelling)meant something like "high cliff."

In 1621 Lord Baltimore sent a contingent of settlers to this site under the leadership of a governor, William (?), with a mandate to establish a permanent English colony.  Many of these folk were from the middle and upper class in England.  When the colony was successfully functioning and a "mansion" prepared, Lord and Lady Baltimore came with their family.  They stayed for only one Newfoundland winter.  I think it was 1628 -29.  They found it too harsh and went back to England.  Lord Baltimore than applied for land farther south and was granted the territory which later became the state of Maryland.  It was his son, the second Lord Baltimore, who established that colony.

The Avalon Colony was unusually well built, and the archeologists working there have made many interesting finds.  The colony faced a very protected harbour with only one entrance and an extremely well protected anchorage called "The Pond."  The other three sides of the colony were protected by a palisade and dry moat that encompassed a 4 acre site, situated on land sloping down toward the water.

The builders made use of the plentiful beach stones to construct a 14 foot wide, cobblestoned Main Street.  (I have a picture of that, but the pictures don't want to upload tonight, so I'll post it later, on a little separate post for tonight.)  Cobblestones were also used to create the floors of most dwellings, except for the "Mansion" which had a wood floor.  These were so well laid that, uncovered now by the archaeological dig, they are perfectly serviceable.  They included drains that led all the waste water and rain water down to the waterfront.

One of the most ingenious devices was the "town privy" which was down near the waterfront and connected to the bay, so that the tides cleaned out the wastes twice a day.  It didn't function perfectly, however, and many useful clues were left there for the archaeologists to discover in our time: a used shoe, bits of cloth, remains that showed the colonists suffered from scurvy and intestinal parasites.

They had a withy-fenced communal garden with raised growing beds, surrounded by black stone which helped heat the beds.  They had sheep and cattle.  But they never succeeded in growing wheat as the season is too short, and they had to import their flour from England, as well as many other supplies.

This was a prosperous, well-planned, well-built community that flourished until the French invaded and destroyed it.  I've lost that date now, but it was in the later part of the 1600's.  Later on it was re-colonized.

There was a reconstructed kitchen from a slightly later date where a friendly young woman demonstrated how bread was baked in a "Dutch oven" on the hearth.  We were all given a small slice to enjoy.

We had hoped to do the whole "Irish Loop"--the drive around this arm of the Avalon, and then visit the Salmonier Nature Park.  We looked at the map and decided to retrace our steps to Hwy 1, drive a bit west and south to the Nature Park, skipping the long drive around the peninsula.  Elaine had said that it was really just "more of the same" so we let it go.

There is an extended boardwalk, close to 3 km through the wooded park, and scattered alongside it are very large fenced areas that contain animals and birds in the process of being rehabilitated.  Several of them were either hiding in the shade, or not in their pens at all.  Most of them, except for the caribou, we've seen either in the wild on our travels, or even on our own property.  But it was good to go for a walk after all the driving we've been doing.

Back home we watched the first half of "Mrs. Doubtfire."  I saw it in a theater years ago, but I don't think Jim has ever seen it.  By 10 p.m. we turned it off to go to bed, but Jim was betting that Danny and Miranda get back together.  I've forgotten how it turned out.

Sunday--today, we left St. John's after thanking Fraser and Elaine for all they did to make our holiday here enjoyable.  If you get to Conception Bay South, that is the place to stay!

We spent the whole day driving, and arrived in Deer Lake around 4 p.m. where we stopped and had a roast beef dinner.  We drove on to Rocky Harbour in Gros Morne Park and were lucky to find a room at the Candlelight B and B. Tomorrow we hope to drive to the northern tip of this arm of Newfoundland and visit L'Anse Aux Meadows. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Photos from Yesterday

Here are the photos from yesterday.  First is the facade of "The Rooms," and the shape that mimics the rooms where fish were processed is actually freestanding in front of the building itself.

Next we have the photo of the old Cape Spear Lighthouse:
The above is a photo a Cape Spear itself.  This rocky promontory is the farthest east point of the North American Continent.

And here is an original, and true Newfie joke:
While we were at Cupids, ready to go on the tour of the archaeology site, we came across a group of men, there were four of them, repairing a lawn mower.  Here's what they told us: That morning they decided the grass needed to be cut, so they got out this mower and started mowing.  It wasn't working well at all, so they figured they needed a new blade.  They turned the machine over and discovered that it had NO blade!  They found a blade in their storage shed, fixed the blade to the mower, and started mowing again.  There was a terrible racket!  They stopped the mower and investigated.  The blade was and inch too long!  They took that blade off and sent one of the four fellows to buy a new blade.  When we got there they were making their third attempt.  That blade wasn't on yet, so we don't know how this one time turned out!  We asked "How many Newfies does it take to change a mower blade?"  They laughed and replied, Four, but it's not done yet!

Friday, August 12, 2011

"The Rooms" and Cape Spear

Breakfast was served at 8:30 a.m. with Fraser and Elaine and two others: Glen, a retired policeman, and his wife Louise, from St. Alberta, Alberta.  They were at the end of their holiday in Newfoundland, and mentioned several places they found very worthwhile to visit.  We went to our room to plan our day.

I asked Elaine for her advice on our plans, as she gave such good pointers yesterday.  Her suggestion was to go right away to "The Rooms" in St. John's, then to Cape Spear, then, possibly, on to Petty Harbour and Ferryland, the site of the Avalon Colony.  So we set off at noon for "The Rooms."

"The Rooms" is a museum and art gallery housed in a marvelous modern building in St. John's.  The museum told the history of human habitation in Newfoundland, dealt with the native animals (no moose, as they are an introduced species), the fisheries, the Irish immigration, including how the English repressed them.  For example, there were laws that required anyone holding public office to take an oath of allegiance to the British monarch as the head of the church, which, of course, the Irish Catholics could never do.  In this way they were "legally" barred from holding public office.

"The Rooms" is quite new and a striking-looking building--very modern, but with a facade that pays tribute to "the rooms"--the name the fisher folk gave to the sheds where they processed the catch.

We had some lunch between 2 and 3 p.m. at the café there and it was excellent.  I had roasted red pepper soup and Jim had pea soup.  We both had the chicken cioppini, a round bun with a warm filling of chicken, cheese, greens, onions, sundried tomatoes and an aioli dressing.  So good!  I've mentioned before that we have often found the food in an art gallery or museum café imaginative and delicious and this was no exception.

We were well occupied at "The Rooms" until closing time: 5 p.m.  Seems early for a Friday evening, doesn't it?  Just before we left I was chatting with an elderly woman who came from Tallahassee, Florida.  She was there for her granddaughter's wedding.  "Seems kind of strange to me," she said.  "I'm a churchgoer myself, but to have a wedding here in the museum.  Well, I don't say anything, but don't you think it's strange?  At 6:45 tomorrow!"

We left St. John's and drove the short distance to Cape Spears, a national historic site, the point farthest east on the North American continent.  I took a 360º movie of the site on my Canon G10, but can't download any pictures tonight until the battery is recharged.

We followed the path down to the point and then took the boardwalk back to the parking lot.  There were so many wild flowers beside the boardwalk: buttercups and small irises, yarrow, clover, ferns and many kinds of wild grasses.  We were surprised to find it very calm, not windy.  Then we climbed to the old lighthouse, a kind of dumpy, square building, in the process of being restored.  There is also a newer structure that is still an operating lighthouse and looks much more like our idea of a lighthouse.

By then it was time to head "home" again.  We've enjoyed our time here so much, and there is still another loop around the Avalon Peninsula that we would like to drive, so we made arrangements with Fraser and Elaine to stay one more night.

The camera battery is still not sufficiently charged to download today's pictures, so I hope to post them tomorrow.  Good night for now!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Lots of History

We woke up a 7 this morning, after a good night's sleep.  Had a lovely breakfast with Fraser and Elaine and their two other guests, Laurie and Vince from Ottawa, she a part-time teacher and he a structural engineer.  Very interesting to meet new people and converse over breakfast.  We relaxed in our room for the morning.  I had time for a vigorous walk.

Around noon we left for a drive around the north part of the Avalon Peninsula. Today was another overcast day with showers.  Driving through Conception Bay South we passed Tiny's Bar and Grill.  We hadn't overshot yesterday--we didn't go nearly far enough!

Elaine had recommended stopping at Brigus and Cupids, and we're so glad we followed her advice.

At Brigus is the Hawthorn Cottage Heritage Site.  This house was built in the 1800's.  Captain Robert Bartlett was born here.  He became a very famous sea captain, in the tradition of his family, and also an Arctic explorer and world reconized expert on the Arctic.  It was he who helped Peary on his journey to the North Pole.

Apparently he was a very opinionated, irascible man who could drive his underlings mad, but by the same token was able to carry out amazing accomplishments.

He commanded The Karluk, a ship commissioned to explore the "Northwest Passage" from the west, around Alaska and into the Arctic.  It was a poor ship and became stuck in the ice.  He made sure all his men were safely housed in igloos and then, with one native companion, walked back 700 miles through Siberia, across the Bering Strait to Alaska.  From there he organized a rescue expedition and retrieved his men.

CBC had an excellent program about him in its series "Life and Times of...."

His grandfather Abram, also a sea captain, had men bore a tunnel through rock to his wharf on Conception Bay in 1860.  They drilled holes in the rock with hand tools and used only black gunpowder, not dynamite, to set off the blasts.

Bob Bartlett died in New York City (sorry no date) of pneumonia.  His spinster sisters inherited Hawthorn Cottage from him and supported themselves by opening a famous and well respected Tea House in Brigus.  They, too, were full of spunk.

From Brigus we went on to Cupids where there is an Archeological Dig, unearthing the site of a "plantation" started in 1610 by Governor John Guy and 39 colonists of the London and Bristol Company of Merchant Venturers.  This is noted as the birthplace of English Canada.

We had an excellent guide for our tour of the site: a young man named Justin, very knowledgeable and pleasant.  Here he is showing us the graveyard that was uncovered quite by accident, and only after a huge pile of dirt had been deposited on it from the dig site.

John Guy kept meticulous records, but knowledge of the exact place was lost for years.  Recently an archaeologist became interested and was able to find the site through Guy's careful description.

Many foundations have been uncovered, slag from a forge, this small graveyard, and the cellar, chimney base and a cobblestone floor of the main house.  The cobblestone floor is within the foundation outline of the main house.  This shows that their domestic beasts were kept inside the house--both to protect them at night and to provide heat to the settlers who slept on the second floor.

We passed up on an opportunity to visit the Archeology Museum in favour of driving further north up the peninsula.  Route 70 more or less follows the coastline, a narrow two lane road, continually curving, dipping and rising.  We had hoped to get all the way to the norther tip of the Avalon Peninsula, but the weather was deteriorating and the scenery was more of the same.  So at Kingston we turned around, and at Victoria we caught Route 75, a much newer, faster highway, south to Highway 1, called the TCH (Trans Canada Highway).

After supper at Smitty's in Mount Pearl we drove back "home" in thickening fog.

This has been a very interesting day.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Long Day

Today was a long, long day.  Mainly because there was no real break from yesterday.  Our flight left Calgary at 11 p.m., so that was already a long day.  We both found it difficult to sleep on this flight for a number of reasons: we were cramped in a fairly small space--this was not a spacious plane; someone nearby coughed severely all night (at least it seemed like all night); a baby nearby wailed occasionally; dawn arrived by 3 a.m. (Mountain time), but appropriate at 6:30 a.m. in Atlantic Time.  By the time we landed in St. John's we were pretty bleary.

It was shocking to see the foggy, wintry-looking scene as we landed.  I had dressed according to the time of year and Alberta's weather: sandals, skirt, short-sleeved top.  When we left the terminal we could see our smokey breath of the air.

After picking up our luggage (just a small bag each) we phoned our B and B and were told we could come right away, drop off our bags and refresh ourselves--maybe we wanted a nap?  Our hosts, Fraser and Elaine Inkpen, are gracious and friendly, and our room (actually the master bedroom) is great.

We dropped off our things and I changed to warmer clothing.  Jim was able to check on his stocks, and we enjoyed tea, coffee and even a muffin each.

Around noon we left and went looking for Tiny's bar and café in Conception Bay to have a meal.  We must have overshot, as we never did find it, and ended up at Jungle Jim's instead.  Jim ordered a stirfry and I had a chicken quesadilla, both of which were excellent, but arrived after a long wait of 45 minutes.  Seemed unnecessary, as there were very few customers there.

It was when we set out to explore the coast of the Avalon peninsula from Conception Bay to Pouch Cove that I realized I had left the camera at the B and B!  Chalk it up to a lack of sleep!  But we enjoyed the drive and felt we had seen some of the real Newfoundland, taking small back roads.

I was amazed at how many new houses there were along this route!  This area seemed quite prosperous.

Houses here are painted in a distinctive pattern, often with fairly bright colours, blues, rusty reds, mossy greens, etc.  But whatever the colour, the trim around the doors and windows, on the porch railings if there are any, on the fascias and especially on the typical upright trim boards on the corners of the house, all that trim is painted a contrasting colour, usually somewhere between a pure white, through all the shades of yellow and right through the beiges and tans.  This almost universal colour scheme gives a distinctive local flavour, one which we enjoyed.

After reaching Pouch Cove we headed back toward St. John's intending to visit Signal Hill, a National Historic Site.  We don't have a detailed map of St. John's but figured that if we headed into that area of town we'd surely see signage directing us to Signal Hill.

By the time we were out the other side of St. John's and on our way back to the B and B we realized that we had missed Signal Hill somehow.  We turned around and headed back, this time helped by a sheet of directions from the B and B.  Even with those directions we had trouble finding it and stopped to ask directions.  Come on, Newfoundland!  Help your tourists find these great spots by some adequate signage.

The Visitor Centre at Signal Hill was very worthwhile and enjoyable, with displays and a good film.  We arrived just at the tail end of a "tattoo," a reenactment of a military drill, with performers of a pipe and drum corps in true period costumes.  (This is where I really wished I had the camera with me!) How fortunate for them the costumes were oldfashioned wool, as the wind, combined with wet weather, was pretty cutting on that exposed site.  Actually, that gave a good insight into the miserable conditions that the soldiers, signalmen and their families endured here in those old times.

We then visited the Cabot Tower at the top of the hill, the site where the first trans-Atlantic wireless signals were received by Guglielmo Marconi, an historic event that revolutionized the transmission of messages from overseas, previously handled by transAtlantic telegraph cables.  There was an excellent display with lots of information, some of it a bit comical.  When the main cable company heard of his achievement they sued to stop him.  They could see the end of their cable's usefulness.  He was on his way to New York to set up a wireless station there when the governor and premier of Nova Scotia met him and persuaded him to locate his station in Canada.

It was about this time, around 5 p.m., that we both ran out of energy and decided to call it a day.  We found a Tim Horton's on the way back to the B and B and had some heartening chilli.  Arrived "home" by 6 p.m.  Jim gave up the struggle by 7 and is already sound asleep.  I seem to have gotten a "second wind" and will read and knit for a while.

All in all a long, long day, but a good beginning to our holiday and our experience of Newfoundland.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Just a Quick Note

We are leaving late today for a holiday in Newfoundland.  We've never been there and are looking forward to a good tourist experience.

Yesterday Jim, S. and I picked, shelled, blanched and froze over 10 pounds of green peas, about 9 pounds of fava beans, four quarts of strawberry freezer jam, 4 quarts of raspberries.  This morning I froze another two Ziplock large bags of raspberries.  We've been eating corn of the cob all week, and regretfully leave the rest of it to S. and her family.

So, what with all the last minute activity I haven't had a chance to post some interesting things.  One of them a "Yarn Tale," which I hope to get to yet.  To add to the already full schedule, my computer went down last week Thursday.  Dear Son #2, the tech guy, spent an hour on the phone with me on Saturday trying to fix it to no avail.  So it's put away for now and will go back to London Drug when we come back from our holiday.  I'm pretty sure it's fixable, and I'm hoping for the best.  We did do a full backup just one month ago.

On Sunday Jim preached in Granum.  We left at 6:30 a.m., since it's a 3 hour drive.  We had a fine time with the folks there, and after the second service went to see our dear friend Hilda, who is now 90 years old.  She is a care home and becoming very forgetful.  She did know us, and we visited with her for about an hour.  Fortunately I had taken along scrapbooks that I made of two cruises that she and I went on in 2001 and 2003.  They were very useful in keeping some conversation going.

When we were about to leave I said, I'll just use the washroom before we go.  I left them and Hilda turned to Jim and said, "She's getting bigger, isn't she?" with a spreading motion of her hands, and that same sparkle in her eye.  It was the old Hilda back again for a few moments.  As soon as we got in the car to drive away, he told me, and we both had a hearty laugh over it.  (It's true!)

Personal Note: Linda S., I lost your email address when the computer went down.  If you send me an email, I'll have it back again!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Veggie Tales

On Monday we enjoyed the first corn from the garden.  See how the cobs cluster at the bottom of the stalk?  I've never seen corn like this.  Earlier I said that it was called "Variety" but that was an error.  It's name is "Vitality."  Today we've picked another four cobs for dinner.  It's a bicoulored corn, and has very sweet kernels on its rather short cobs.

I took another picture this morning to show how short the stalks are.  It's from a low angle as I used the self-timer, but I think it still show quite well how short the stalks are.

Another interesting sight in the garden these days
is this bed of asiatic lilies.  I'm not sure why they were planted in one of the raised beds.  Perhaps we had too many of them for planting in pots to sell.  They looked so beautiful when massed together like this.  There's another massive planting of these lilies over next to the raspberry patch.  I need to get out there to take a picture too.

These masses of lilies are great for cut flowers.  They make beautiful bouquets that are quite long lasting.  You just need to be very careful around them because their pollen is a terrifically potent orange powder.  If you get it on your skin or clothing it will stain deeply.  The only way to get rid of it is to avoid getting any water on it, but just brush it gently off--preferably outside so it doesn't drift down onto the floor!

Another feature of the garden this year is this frame full of pots of tomatoes placed in the middle path through the beds.  Jim trimmed these plants radically, cutting off all the upper foliage a few weeks ago and placed them here where they would be watered along with the rest of the veggie garden.  Because they were trimmed that way, they been quite quick to produce ripe fruit.  On Tuesday I canned six pints of tomatoes for use in soups, stews and chillies this coming winter.

Today I dealt with the remaining tomatoes that had been picked that day.
There weren't too many, but I tried something new with these.  Canned tomatoes always have so much "water" in with them.  So this time I took the pan of boiling cut up tomatoes and put them on the colander, draining out most of the juice.  The two bottles on the left were packed that way.  They still have lots of "water" on the bottom of the jar.  The jar on the right was what was left and rather than just throwing it out, I canned it with lots of "water."  I think I'll put it through a strainer when I open it and use it as tomato juice.

There were also lots of Roma tomatoes and
several of these little cherry tomatoes.  I decided to cut them up and dry them in the dehydrator.  For these little cherry tomatoes that was too much of a hassle.  I won't do them again this way.  We'll just try to eat as many of them as we can.  But the Romas make pretty nice sliced tomatoes for drying.  Here's the tray full of slices, ready to be dried.

I'm not in the habit of using dried tomatoes in my cooking, so I'll have to

start looking for recipes that call for them.  I'm thinking maybe some carmelized onions and these dried tomato slices on foccacia bread would work out well.

Because it's plenty warm these days--real summer weather at last with temperatures in the high 20's C, or high 70's F--I didn't want to run the dehydrator in the house for 10 hours, so I placed it on this little table just outside
the back door.

Also from the garden lately: beets (and beet greens), oodles of sugar snap peas, enough lettuce for our whole town!, onions, raspberries, strawberries, new potatoes, turnips.  I picked a bucket of sugar snap peas a few days ago, took pictures of the vines, the peas in process (taking off the strings) and in the frying pan with a little olive oil, a dab of sesame oil and some sesame seeds.  I was going to blog the whole process, but lost the pictures when I prematurely cut off the download from the camera.

Here's to the wonderful fresh food we can enjoy this time of the year!