Newfoundland Stories from August 5

Channel-Port aux Basques is nicknamed the “Entry” city. It’s here most people grab the ferry to the mainland or drive through as they exit the docked ship. It’s a colorful little port that is celebrating Come Home Year this week with colorful flags and concerts…

along the Port aux Basques Harbour

the locals waiting for the concert to start

Port aux Basques is a stay-one-night-leave-the-next- morning kind of village. The Trans Canada Highway starts and ends at its  ferry terminal, stretching only north west towards the northern peninsula before turning east towards St. John’s, where it begins and ends again. Most visitors to the island don’t realize there are signs of life east of Port aux Basques. We arrived early at the St. Christopher, giving us a good half day to fill with something. It was suggested that we take Route-470, head east 40km and explore the town of Rose Blanche and its lighthouse.

Having visited the lighthouses atop the gusty Lobster Head Cove and the far-easterly point of Cape Spear, we didn’t have very high expectations. Yet, as we drove along the twisting road, through undulating hills coated in a fuzzy green shrub and speckled with marbled granite boulders, we decided this might be one of the most stunning places on the island.

Rose Blanche was a lovely spot and its reconstructed, historical granite lighthouse a more than worthwhile excursion…

a view onto the Rose Blanche Lighthouse, an amazing setting

a cluster of homes in Rose Blanche

Appropriately, we found our final dinner at the Friendly Fisherman Cafe, a small family-run place overlooking the fishing boats at Rose Blanche. Fish and Chips and fishcakes. yum, yum yum.

my "healthier" fishcakes, made from bacaloa. note the frozen veggies

a final plate of Fish and chips for the father

The fog thundered in as we began the drive back to our hotel in Port aux Basques. The wind picked up and the rain clashed against the windshield. Our ferry was due to pull out of the dock at 8:30AM, Newfoundland time. Check-in was at 6:30, and so with lots of cod in our bellies, and warm memories playing through our minds, we trundled off to bed early, not in any hurry to leave the island that had taken hold of our hearts.

We may have said good-bye to Newfoundland, but there still lay 1,600 miles of road between the ferry terminal in Nova Scotia and our driveway. There was still some vacation left…

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Projected Frolicking in “Nuphunland”

my preferred way of getting around

It’s been two years since the Reckling clan took a proper vacation together, but no matter how much time elapses, if there’s one thing the three of us know how to do with flair, it’s organize an adventure. Our 2010 family holiday is a two-week one packed tightly with new sights, overland trekking, seascape paddling, and regional cuisine consumption. As expected, our Land Rover Discovery will be the principal method of transport, while ferries, hiking boots, and kayaks will take us to more hidden locales.

This year, we’re off to the Canadian province of Newfoundland (pronounced Nu-phun-laand), site of the Shipping News (both an excellent book and great movie).  It’ll  be romantic and wild, fresh and invigorating.  I’m giddy just thinking about it.

Given that it’s some 20 degrees cooler out on the island (this heatwave ravaging New York has grown tiresome), and that for every day of sunshine you get two days of rain, our suitcases are packed with everything from bikinis to tank-tops to sweaters to raincoats. Our GPS had to be totally overhauled and updated with maps for the Atlantic time zone. Two years ago, when we last traveled to the Maritime Provinces, our Magellan when black as soon as we crossed the Canadian border. We had entered uncharted territory… literally.

Our travels begin on Friday, with a 380 mile drive to Lincolnville, ME and the Inn at Ocean’s Edge. It’s a short overnight before heading out on Saturday along Route 9, which will take us out of the US and into St. Stephen’s, New Brunswick, Canada. Our Saturday destination is Halifax, Nova Scotia — 850 miles from our back yard.

We’ll be based in Halifax for two full days. We’ll stock up on missing gear at Mountain Equipment Co-op (I’m a

Peggy's Cove, taken on my last visit in 2008

“Life-Time Member”) before heading back to Peggy’s Cove — the most photographed village in North America.

My father flies into Halifax on Monday, then the 3 of us pack up and drive 253 miles to North Sydney, NS, where we’ll catch a ferry to Port-Aux-Basques, Newfoundland.

After a 5 hour crossing that gets us onto the island at 10PM, Tuesday night will spent in a small hotel near the ferry terminal. Wednesday, we drive to Gros Morne National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We’ll set our suitcases down in Neddies Harbour Inn and use the next 2 or 3 days to explore the fjords, table lands, forests, and waterways that define the unique topography of the park.

Next, it’s on to St. John’s for the George Street Festival and Royal Regatta. Also on our agenda is some more kayaking, wildlife observing (whales and puffins!), and perhaps some more hiking.

We still have to work out our plans for the return — there’s only one road around the island, and it more or less ends at St. John’s, which means that to get back to the ferry, we have to completely retrace our steps.

We plan to eat plenty of fresh fish… most likely in the form of fish and chips, which is apparently the provincial specialty. I’m also pretty excited for my post-excursion cup of tea on the porch over looking the woods/coast/harbour.

Earlier in the week, I spent a day with National Geographic photographer Ira Block, who critiqued some of my photos and advised me how to take even better ones. He also convinced me that it was time to upgrade my Canon Rebel XT to a Rebel T2i. So, I’m now armed with a new camera and the know-how to take great pictures with it… which means I’ll be more annoying than ever, running off to snap a dozen shots while my party slowly leaves me behind in the woods.

I’ll be posting as I go, or at least will try to, so keep an eye out!

always armed with a camera, a Yankees cap, and a backpack, whether at Chichen Itza, Mexico, or Gros Morne, Newfoundland

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