8/15/09 Today we greet you from Pictou, Nova Scotia. It is good to be back here because it is so much warmer! Yesterday it was about 30 degrees Celsius here (about 90F) and we are wearing shorts, tank tops, and sandals for the very first time this summer. The Hector Festival is going on here so we came for some good Highland music and yesterday afternoon we got in on several hours of it. Tonight we have tickets for the closing concert, which will feature many different performers on fiddle, harp, guitar, mandolin, Celtic drum, etc. I'm sure it will be quite good. We are parked in a great boondocking spot here right on the waterfront with water views out both sides and a nice breeze.
We returned on the ferry on the 13th with Chris, Billy & Marianne, the Boomer friends we have been connecting with off and on all over Newfoundland. The night before, we all parked in line at the Ferry terminal and had a happy hour in our rig with gourmet cheeses and escargot, followed by a spaghetti feed and chocolate brownie cake for dessert. Yum. It was the farewell feast because we are heading back to the USA (Maine) while they are staying to explore Nova Scotia and New Brunswick for a few more months. The day before catching the ferry, we did a beautiful drive along the south coast to the only granite lighthouse in Atlantic Canada, called Rose Blanche. It was a sunny day and we stopped in several of the small towns on the way to do some hikes. This part of Newfoundland appears somewhat barren with low growing shrubs and plants covering the very large rocks and rocky cliffs. But there are ponds all over the place inland, and on the other side of the road terrific coastal views.
This is a picture of the coast, looking back towards Port aux Basques where the ferry terminal is:
Here is a picture of me on one of the hikes along the coast:
This is a picture of a typical village along this coast - nearly every house if built with access to the water:
Here is Elaine on the short trail leading to the granite lighthouse. You can see how rocky it is:
And here is the actual lighthouse:
There were many, many shipwrecks along this coast before lighthouses were built and also before modern navigational aids. One of the hiking trails we did was dedicated to George Harvey, a man who saved more than 200 people from 2 shipwrecks in the 1800's.
Our last post left off at Port aux Chois, and from there we returned to Gros Morne National Park to do some hiking and sightseeing. The big tourist attraction there is Western Brook Pond, which is a huge inland fjord carved out by glaciers millions of years ago. There is a boat tour which takes people all over the fjord but we have done those in Chile and also Norway, so we skipped this one (which was expensive), and just did the 2 mile walking trail out there. The day we were there the air was very hazy, so we didn't get good pictures. Here I am with the mountains and fjord behind me:
We also explored the southern part of the park, on the other side of Bonne Bay, which was a beautiful drive to several very picturesque communities right on the water, and also an area called the Tablelands. This is where the Earth's mantle has been upthrust to form yellowish brown and flat topped mountains which are very barren but dramatically different from all the other mountains around there. Some of the oldest rock on earth is available for geological study here.
Another thing we did was attend a performance at the Gros Morne Theater Festival which goes on all summer at Cow Head. It was 2 men and 2 women performing traditional Newfoundland music as well as some of the songs which developed when Newfoundland was voting to become part of Canada. They used to be their own country and it took 3 votes before they decided to become a Canadian province and even then it was very close at 51% to 49%. That happened in 1949 and to this day Newfoundlanders fly their own flag more often than they do Canada's, and if they fly both flags, the Newfie flag is much bigger!
Cornerbrook is the second largest city in Newfoundland (at about 20,000) so we stopped there for supplies, and then moved on to Stephenville. There used to be a very large US military base here and we were able to park right on the rocky beach near the airport and the golf course which used to be part of the base. They also have a theater festival all summer, so we attended a play called "Variations On a Nervous Breakdown", which was surprisingly a musical. We enjoyed it. While here, we drove what is called the French Ancestors Route, all around the Port aux Port Peninsula. The area used to be French because they owned the fishing rights all along this coast until 1904. Again we found a wonderful hiking trail all along the coast and headlands and it was a beautiful day.
There was also a short trail to a waterfall:
And around the other side of the peninsula there was a community where they really got into "yard art":
Thanks for traveling with us through Newfoundland! The next phase of this journey will be exploring the East Coast of the USA, and visiting friends along the way. If you are currently in the East and want to get together with us, please let us know!