Friday, September 29, 2006

Two weeks in Newfoundland

We just got back from our trip to Newfoundland, Canada, where we spent two weeks exploring the backroads and fishing villages of "the Rock" from St. John's to Corner Brook and back. Hallie will be writing a "best of" awards post, coming soon. Today we're feeling pretty jet-lagged, but because real life starts in earnest much sooner than later, I figured I'd reort on what we did. We left bright and early on Thursday the 14th from SLC, and rain delay in Newark had us missing our flight into St. John's that night. We managed to get rerouted into Halifax rather than spending 24 hours waiting for the next flight to St. John's out of Newark, but that meant we spent the night in Halifax Airport. Mike started getting sick, so it was pretty miserable. Thank goodness for Tim Hortons! We had a few timbits and some herb tea, then waited it out.

Flew into St. John's the following morning (Friday, 9/15) to find that our luggage did not make it with us. Fortunately, Mike had packed extra clothes in our carry-ons, but we had no toiletries due to stricter restrictions on liquid products. So, we tried to make the best of it by travelling around while we did our shopping. We went to Memorial University, Cape Spear, Petty Harbour, and down along Water Street before Mike finally started falling asleep in the car instead of giving Hallie directions. We stayed at Anna's House B&B, and Olga and Nick were quite helpful and kind enough to start us off with a few needed items.

On Saturday, 9/16, we continued exploring St. John's, going to the fishing village of Quidi Vidi and going inside what we later found out is thought to be the oldest still-standing house in the province (a lot of things lay claim to being the oldest this or that here). At lunchtime we went to Costco to stock up on foodstuffs we can only get in Canada. From there we went to Signal Hill before taking in Water Street one more time. We still had no luggage and no toiletries, so we went to a couple of stores and the Avalon Mall in the evening.

Now into day 4 without new clothes, we did laundry on Sunday, 9/17, before heading up along the portion of the Avalon Peninsula surrounded by Conception Bay and Trinity Bay (the Baccalieu Trail) before arriving in Dildo (No, this is not a typo. Yes, it is a town). We took in all the tiny towns along the way, even managing (by accident or coincidence) to drive by the hometown of Canadian Idol runner-up Craig Sharp, Upper Island Cove. Dildo was a charming little town, and Inn by the Bay had a nice set of adirondack chairs from which to watch the sunset. We also happened to watch the Canadian Idol final that night. Congrats, Eva Avila! We had expected the weather to be cooler than it turned out being (granted, the wind could be pretty wicked), but we experienced temps in the upper 50s to the lower 70s throughout the trip. Our bags finally caught up to us, thanks to the good folks at Air Canada. We appreciated their good work.

Monday, 9/18, found us leaving the Avalon Peninsula and following the west side of Trinity Bay on our way to the town of Trinity.

Picturesque Trinity, NL

House on the Nuddick, Trinity
Once we arrived in Trinity and checked in at the Eriksen Premises, we had lunch (our standard for the trip was peanut butter and honey sandwiches, bottled water, chips, and fruit bars (really good! and great for when you don't have access to a refrigerator) in a local park and checked email at the town library (also something we tried to do when we could). That afternoon we went up to the Cape Bonavista Lighthouse and took in some of the stunning scenery.

We thought we would have a long travel day on Tuesday, 9/19, but it turned out that we covered a lot of road pretty quickly. We drove through Terra Nova National Park on our way to Lumsden, which we thought would be a needed stopping point on our way to Twillingate. While the actual towns of Lumsden and Musgrave Harbour were pretty sleepy, we had one of our best B&B experiences at Barbour's B&B. We spent the evening visiting with Patsy (the owner) and a couple from Belgium. Many of the other tourists we have met in our stays have been middle aged with children our age, which leads to interesting conversations about a wide range of topics. Fortunately, we have avoided the political and kept to those of more general interest.

On Wednesday, 9/20, we travelled to Twillingate, lunching outside Prime Berth, which bills itself as "Newfoundland's finest tourist destination." The museum was actually pretty interesting, and it included funky mannequins demonstrating fishing life. From Prime Berth, we drove to the town of Twillingate, where we checked email again before checking in at Captain's Legacy B&B. We went up to Crow Head and the Long Point Lighthouse before dining in town. Mike had fisherman's brewis (pronounced BREWS), which tasted a lot like fish stuffing. Other fishy fare Mike had during the trip (pan fried cod, mussels, halibut, Atlantic salmon) was quite good. Hallie, who doesn't like fish, had worse luck. We also walked through the Twillingate Museum and got a flavor for life in the area early in the 20th Century. Breakfast the following day was quite good, as was the conversation.

From Twillingate (which was worthy of at least one more day -- actually, at this point we could have done with taking a slower pace overall or staying at strategic places and taking branching day trips, easier to do on some parts of the island than others), we drove over to Hull's Riverview B&B outside of Springdale. Francis and Stella were quite friendly, and we were entertained in the morning by their cat Ginger's fascination with a rascally squirrel at the picture window.

We stayed Friday and Saturday the 21st and 22nd at Rocky Harbour in Gros Morne National Park. While our B&B experience wasn't the greatest, the park was beautiful, and we experienced a fun pub show played by the Ocean View Motel's house band, Anchors Aweigh. We went up to the Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse and went moose tracking each night without success. We also found a wild patch of partridgeberries (AKA lingonberries) and drove around the park to both the natural wonders like Gros Morne ("big little mountain") and the Tablelands as well as the small towns that dot the coast.

On Sunday, 9/24, we got up bright and early (5:45 am) to go to church in Corner Brook. On the way out of the park, we finally found our moose – a bull, then a cow, then two cows. We had a little trouble finding the church building, but we did make it in time, and good thing to, because before coming up to Newfoundland, Hallie had organized a children’s book drive at home for the kids in the St. John’s and Corner Brook branches, and the Corner Brook branch president asked us to speak in sacrament meeting. Visiting with the good folks in Corner Brook branch was one of the highlights of the trip, so I’m glad we made it there. On our way out, we saw some really bright fall colors near Marble Mountain Ski Resort.

From Corner Brook, we started our drive back toward St. John’s, stopping at Hill Road Manor in Grand Falls-Windsor for the night. Beautiful big house, cozy bedroom, playful black lab, and great breakfast. We were both experiencing some travel fatigue at this point, and Hallie started coming down with a cold in the night, which means that neither one of us slept all that well.
We weren’t sure how far away our next stop, Port Blandford would really be, and had we known it was so close, we might have pushed on for Clarenville or even St. John’s on Monday, but we had made our reservation, so there we were. We lunched down by the water in the car because it was so dang windy. We relaxed in the B&B before having dinner at the local golf club.

On Tuesday, 9/26, we headed back to St. John’s with Hallie really beginning to feel under the weather. We stopped for lunch in Thornlea and fed the ducks while there. We must have inspired one of the locals, because as we left, this elderly lady came walking down toward the waterfront with her own bag of bread. We chatted with her for a little bit, then made our way back to St. John’s. In the afternoon, we went back to the Avalon Mall and Water Street.

We spent our last full day in St. John’s, Wednesday, first at The Rooms (the city’s museum), then up to the Fort Amherst lighthouse before finally crashing at home for a bit. In the evening, we went down to the St. John’s branch building and visited with some of the church members there. Happily, our books had arrived on Monday. We enjoyed visiting with friends old and new, and the visit made for a happy ending to our time in Newfoundland.

We flew home on Thursday, and this time our flights went smoothly and all our baggage arrived with us. Mike has more jet lag than Hallie, and Hallie brought her cold back as a parting gift from the Rock. We really enjoyed our trip to Newfoundland, and after all the planning and anticipation, it’s hard to believe it’s over and that our “real” life has resumed here. We brought back many warm memories of the people and places that make Newfoundland a unique part of the world, and we’re grateful we had the chance to experience the place for ourselves.

Update (10/16/06): We made a book of our trip (password 710069) using It turned out beautifully, and we were really pleased.


Margaret said...

I stumbled across your blog while looking for something else - as usually happens. You have done a really great job of telling about the province and I am in a state of amazement at your energy and stamina, seeing so much in such a short time!
I look after the website for the Baccalieu Trail Tourism Association, and I was wondering if you would like to use some of our links for the north east Avalon. They contain more information that the ones that you have used - and we would like to spread the word to as many people as possible.

For a map of the area:
(there is a downloadable PDF map linked)
The Community of Dildo
(there is a link to a large number of photos)
The Community of Upper Island Cove
(there is a link to a large number of photos)

Mike and Hallie said...

Thanks, Margaret! We have added your links to this blog. On our next visit, we will have to come back and take several days on the Bacclieu Trail. Seems like there is a lot to see and do!

Margaret said...

Thank you so much for your prompt attention! It is so busy when you get back to "real life" after a vacation. Even a few minutes are difficult to find.

Please do come back. The oldest English Settlement in Canada, Cupers Cove (Cupids) and the second oldest in North America (after Jamestown in the United States) will be celebrating its 400th Anniversary in 2010. There will be many special events.

Just contact the local tourist office, through and they will be happy to assist you.

Rhonda said...

I had the chance to spend 5 days in St. John's, Newfoundland this past September. I fell in love with the area and planned to return before I had left the place.

I live in Manitoba, Canada and never had the opportunity to travel east until now. What a great province, can't wait to go back. Sounds like you had a great time exploring the island. I want to go back with the opportunity to get out and explore all those places and more. Thanks for all your details, I will keep them when planning a return trip.

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Anonymous said...

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