Sunday, July 31

A Fogo Island Tale

Friday evening after exploring New World Island I hauled out the map to see what I might do the next day (this is long range planning for me) and saw a blue line which indicates a vehicle ferry route to Fogo Island. So I decide to drive on over to Farewell (where the ferry departs from) and maybe just make a day trip (with the van this time) if I can get aboard and it doesn't cost too much. No need to Google Fogo Island - it has a ferry so their must be something to see when I get there, right?

Arriving at Farewell I see fifty or so cars, several RVs, and two big trucks lined up, so when I roll up to the ticket booth, my first question is - "got room for me" the guy says "sure" - me, "how much is this going to cost?" - $11.50 comes the reply - me, "and how much for the van?" - "that's for you and the van" - hey, I knew going to Fogo was a great idea!

One of the smaller ferries going to another island

 

Arriving at Stag Harbour, on Fogo Island, I arbitrarily decided to head for Fogo (town) - the island has nine small villages. It was a nice, scenic, uneventful drive across the island. In town I was immediately faced with a "left or right" decision at a "T" intersection, left I go. Then two "Y" intersections, and I stick with left. See where this is going? One right turn and I might not have this tale to tell (and for you to suffer through) - or, I suppose, maybe just a entirely different tale - who knows about these things.

After winding my way through town I find myself at Brimstone Head Park with a trail described as a challenging hike to "one of the four corners of the world". As first I think, this is a dumb idea, as I look up and see lots of stairs, but the "four corners" thing overwhelms my common sense - up I go. I used my "slow but sure" hiking technique and had some nice views on the way up - but the fog rolled in as I reached the top, so no great pics. However a plaque does shed a little (very little) light on the "four corners" mention - surprise, the Flat Earth Society, has designated Brimstone Head as one of the four corners of the flat earth.

Brimstone Head - doesn't look like much from the parking lot
Rest stop about 2/3 of the way up
See the van? Just kidding.

 

Returning from my epic adventure to the very edge of the world I noticed that what I thought was just several RVs parked while their owners were out hiking was really a campground - unusual because my trusty campground app (AllStays) made no mention of it. Better investigate, in case I'm ever back this way - remember this is only a short day trip. I head over to a group of folks (four ladies enjoying the view and afternoon sun in their camp chairs, two guys talking nearby) I ask the ladies "is this afternoon tea?" - two reply in unison "no way, it's cold beer time". I then inquiry if anyone can give me some information about the campground, everyone points to a lady, who then comes over and starts telling me everything (surprisingly I understand her - turns out she spends six months in Arizona - Note: Newfoundlanders have a very unique Irish based accent, not easy (sometimes impossible) to understand and it becomes increasingly more difficult on these out of the way islands and towns). When I say I'm not spending the night (just want the info) everyone is disappointed, and I get bombarded with reasons why I should stay and that I should at least climb Brimstone Head before I leave. "Just did that" I said and the lady jumps up, hustles over to her RV and comes back with this:

 

After getting my certificate, I ask the guys for a lunch place recommendation - one say "%#~*\?(" is very good. I said "Tommys"? he responds "):-#%€<~]*" then adds "just past the church" which I get. Turns out the restaurant's name was Beaches, good thing the church was next door!

Had some good Fish & Chips and was paying my bill when I noticed a sign saying the restaurant would close at 7:00pm for Eddie Coffey and that tickets were still available. So, naturally, I had to ask "who is Eddie Coffey" - she replies, "a Newfoundland legend" and lots of (I'm sure) interesting information about Eddie that I couldn't understand. But, I'm always up for hearing a "legend", so goodby "day trip" - I've found a reason to stay overnight! Only one little issue - after a waaaaaay to long conversation with the waitress I finally get that Eddie doesn't do his thing until 10:00pm. I ask why so late, she said "that's early". When does it end, "around 1:30, but usually later". Yikes, better go get a nape! Showtime, and I was one of maybe six visitors. I retired at 1:00 and heard the next day that it went until after 2:00. Fun night, Eddie was pretty darn good, after only being on the island for eight hours I had three locals that recognized me at the concert - one of Eddie's song says "there are no strangers in Newfoundland" - especially on Fogo Island, guess that's true. Sorry, dark bar/restaurant no pictures of Eddie.

 

From around the Fogo Island:

Good night, sorry for the looooong post.

 

Saturday, July 30

New World Island

Just a few more New World photos. But I've got an interesting tale to tell when I run across a good internet connection, so stay tuned.

The Long Point Lighthouse

 

Friday, July 29

Toogood

I'm now on New World Island (via a causeway, no ferry needed) near the village of Toogood, with some decidedly old world internet connectivity - so, too bad, this will be a short post from Toogood.

 

Thursday, July 28

A Day Trip To . . . .

France. It turns out that France still owns (they call it a "Overseas Collectivity") some property in North America, which was a surprise to me! Just a 55 minute ferry ride off the coast of Newfoundland is Saint Pierre (plus Miguelon & Langlade islands) so, off I went on a little day trip. Of course, being a foreign country, you have immigration and customs (at each end) plus a currency change (they use the Euro) - always fun.

A little history (don't bet any large amount of money on the "facts" that follow). These particular islands were fought over by England and France (back in the old days - the 1700s, 1800s and early 1900s) with France winning final possession. Then France ignored the place until WWII, when things got complicated - Canada wants to put a military radio station on the island, but France says no and sends warships to the island to reinforce its ownership. Canada, the USA, and Britain objected - Charles de Gaulle, said tough - so today we have a bit of France next door.

So what did I do? Truthfully, not much. Walked around the town, had lunch, and visited their Heritage Museum (highlight of the five hour stay), where I learned that the locals are pretty proud of their smuggling skills, in particular, the vast amount (nearly 2 million gallons one year) of prohibited spirits transported to the United States during prohibition.

 

Tuesday, July 26

A History Day

For the last two nights I've been camped at Butter Pond Provincial Park and yesterday I drove into St. John's to have a look around. It's was a confusing (for me) city to drive in (no easy grid layout here) with the curves and hills, and they seem to like five way intersections - but at least I avoided going the wrong way on a one street and I found Signal Hill with only two wrong turns.

Signal Hill overlooks the entrance to St. John's Harbour and atop the hill sets Cabot Tower where, even today, a canon blast signals 12 noon to the city below. The Hill has always been important - the French and English fought over it, later it was important to the commercial success of the port (signalmen would use flags to signal the docks as to what ship was arriving) and in wartime (especially WWII) it was fortified as the Harbour was home port to the North Atlantic submarine defense fleet. Today it's a National Historic Site.

A very interesting exhibit with a great film
Entrance to the St. John's Harbour
The Harbour - small but very well protected

 

Next up, a drive out to Cape Spear, the eastern most point in Canada and home to the oldest surviving lighthouse on Newfoundland. The drive was short, and could have been shorter, but I took the long (wrong turn) way.

It was a nice sunny drive until

This is the "new" lighthouse - built 1955
This is the oldest lighthouse on Newfoundland - built 1830
The inside was restored circa 1839

 

 

Butter Pot Pond at the Provincial Park I camped at.

 

Saturday, July 23

Bonavista Peninsula

Moving on down the road a 100 miles I spent the day exploring the Bonavista Peninsula on the way to Cape Bonavista.

 

Out at Cape Bonavista I saw another unusual lighthouse (the only one like it in Canada) and walked around the oceanside cliffs. It was a tad windy, no whales to be seen - but I did see my first Atlantic iceberg.

 

A short drive from the Cape and I was in Dungeon Provincial Park - named for the unusual rock formations and caves - all formed by the pounding of the Atlantic Ocean.

 

After the Park I headed to Spillars Cove - the gravel road (I think it's primarily used by ATVs - just the kind of backroad I like) was a little challenging, but my lunch spot certainly had a great view!

Lunch stop
My view