So, you want to read about my trip do ya? My trip of a lifetime? Well, here goes. Keep in mind, most of this was written that day, in a log book.
Monday, July 26, 1999: My train left Toronto at around 11:30 AM and now, I'm a little more than two hours east of Montreal, and Guster just finished on the cd player. The trip is uneventful so far. I'm quite comfortable right now with two seats to myself, a pillow and blanket. I'm constantly amazed at how many cornfields there are along the way.
Just when we got out of Montreal, I found myself marveling at these hills/mountains that just seemed to pop up out of the flat countryside. I spent the trip from Toronto to Montreal eavesdropping on the conversation of a woman and her 8-year-old daughter. Got to hear them argue about how many tens are in 100.
Tuesday, July 27, 1999: I figure that I got about 5 hours of sleep last night. Pretty good, I think, considering I'm on a train. I woke up at about 6:00 AM (EDT). I glanced out the window and what did I see, but green mountains! Oh, I'm not going back to sleep now!!!! (All the window shades were down). We were just inside New Brunswick and the only things to distinguish it from Scotland were the architecture and the license plates. I had the urge to take photos out the window, but decided it would be too geeky, and, yet again, the best view was out the other side of the train. I'll wait until the trip home. Oh, and Guster is perfect for train rides. The sound of the bongos seem to lend themselves well to the sound of the train.
Finally arrived in Moncton. Walked to the bus terminal from the train station, getting eaten alive by mosquitoes on the way. Waited there for friends and fell asleep on my bags. Got on the bus to Charlottetown shortly after they arrived. Beautiful trip over the bridge, with water as far as the eye can see on either side. We finally arrived and another friend, Jemma, was there to pick us up. We went to her apartment, then out to eat at the mall and wander around. Back home and talked and laughed and bedtime!
Wednesday, July 28, 1999: Woke up a little late and headed with Jemma to her store in the mall, had breakfast and wandered through the University of PEI and some streets, then went downtown. Walked down along the boardwalk at the waterfront. Headed back to meet up with Jemma after work and went off to Cavendish for food. Blasted Great Big Sea on the way back through to Charlottetown. Had fun recapping the day.
Thursday, July 29, 1999: Well, we got up a little late again, and drove with Jemma to the mall, where we called car rental companies to find a vehicle, any vehicle in the city. Found ONE! A minivan. Four of us in a minivan. First time I had ever driven one and the first time driving an automatic since my driving exam. Anyway, it wasn't available until the afternoon, so we hung around the mall until Jemma had to drive downtown. She drove us to the rental place where we picked up the van. We drove from there to Cavendish after arguing about how to get on the highway. Had beaver's tails to eat, then went to see Anne (of Green Gables fame). Saw the house and followed the different paths around the grounds. Then we headed out to Cavendish Beach, and walked along for a bit on the sand. Back to Charlottetown to meet Jemma.
Friday, July 30, 1999: Honestly, we had no choice but to go that early. It was either catch the 8:00 AM bus up to Summerside, for the Great Big Picnic, or not show up until around 4:00 PM with Jemma. So, we did. Got there at 9:00 AM, and went to have something to eat at Tim Horton's. We were sitting there wondering if we would bump into Darrell Power. We're not following you, really!!!!! Started the 20-minute walk to the College. So, here we are showing up at 10:00 AM for a gate that doesn't open until 3:00 PM. We had fun, though. Talked with the Security guy and played my whistles and sang.
Great Big Sea then came on and the crowd packed in even more than they had been. The show was great as usual. Seemed to be lots of energy. A couple people had to be removed from the crowd at the front over the barrier. One guy, near the end, was removed over my head. I was leaning forward over the railing to get out of the way, as there was no room to duck. The wind was knocked out of me as this guy kind of fell into me and I could feel a bruise forming. Anyway, the show ended on a high note, as it always does.
Saturday, July 31, 1999: Woke up at some ungodly hour (it wasn't that early, it just felt like it) and I was driven to Missy's motel. Missy, her friends and I all drove from Summerside to Halifax together. Interesting drive. Wasn't able to take any pictures going back across the bridge because the walls were too darn high. Argh!! Why must they always do that? Never mind, I know why.
We pulled into another friend's driveway about an hour late. But, still in time for a boat tour that was scheduled. Then, we all headed down to the waterfront. The boat tour was nice. The fog was heavy on the water, so we were in a bubble for half the trip. It was narrated, but we couldn't hear. A few boats (small craft) had to be rescued, it seemed.
Back to shore and off to have some food. Then to the Lower Deck for some music. Nice place, we sat outside. Clam Chowder and Highland Heights were playing. The Natal Day festivities were going on. Eventually, it was time to head down the boardwalk to see Slainte Mhath, who happened to be playing there. Great show, as usual. Missy and I got up the courage to get up and dance. The lineup for cds after was huge!!! Yah!!!! Back to the Lower Deck we went, Highland Heights again. Back home for a good night's sleep before Great Big Picnic #2.
Sunday, August 1, 1999: Down to The Lower Deck we went for some pre-picnic food. So, we are eating and who should we spy but Brian from Guster sitting on a bench watching the people. He looked a little lonely, so Missy and I went over to say hi. Also, I wanted to show him an article in Atlantic Gig Magazine where the band's name was misspelled (Gustier). We chatted for a bit, he asked us where we were from and our names. He seemed to know my last name, which kinda freaked me out. I've emailed them a couple times and I think he's the one who reads the email, so it makes sense, but still. Anyway, he asked us the time and then realized that they were supposed to be on in less than two hours, so he had to run. We finished eating and headed over to the hill for GBP Part 2 (for us anyway).
Arlibido was pretty good, but too heavy for me. Guster rocked!!!!! They were well rested and Ryan was better, not perfect, but getting there. Apparently, Adam frequently saw us singing along and kept grinning at us. The Bryan Adams covers, on the fly, were hilarious. They were amused when the audience started clapping with their last song. Ryan tried to join in our clapping. They won many new fans.
Monday, August 2, 1999: The alarm went off and I shut it off and proceeded to sleep for almost another hour and a half. 9:20 I wake up, and I was supposed to pick up the rental car in 10 minutes! So, I shower, get dressed, pack everything up, give hugs to people who were up, called a cab and headed down to the Sheridan Hotel to get the car. Then drove as fast as my conscience would allow up to North Sydney. Wonderful, fun and beautiful drive. Especially the further north I got.
I got to North Sydney in a panic as it was 3:30 PM when I was still in line to get in and the car was running on empty (the ferry was supposed to leave at 3:30 PM). Turns out that the ferry was two hours late. I headed back outside after dropping the keys off at the desk. While out there, I got paged. Quite an odd experience to be paged at the ferry terminal in North Sydney. Turns out it was my friend Deb to tell me that her car had broken down and I had to take the shuttle from Argentia into St. John's. Anyhoo, I went to get a sandwich and a coffee. I decided, wisely, to check my suitcase. We finally boarded and I stationed myself on deck at the stern after wandering aimlessly for 20 minutes looking for my dormitory sleeper, without success. We finally left shortly after 6:00 pm, more than 2.5 hours late. I sat up there until it became too cold and went inside. Found that I felt the waves more one deck down than before, strangely. Listened to some live music, read a bit and then headed to bed after wandering aimlessly again, trying to find my bunk.
Tuesday, August 3, 1999: The whirlwind tour. I woke up a half hour before docking and went up on deck to find us in a bubble of water in the middle of immense fog. We docked 3.5 hours late.
I got on the shuttle to St. John's, which left late and got to the Captain's Quarters on Bridge Port Road at noon. We stayed there long enough for me to drop off my bags and it was off to Petty Harbour. Oh my god!!!! I have rarely seen a more beautiful town. A bunch of very quaint little houses nestled together below some cliffs. We (Deb, Carolyn and I) wound up having a wonderful conversation with a man who had been a fisherman out of Petty Harbour for 54 years. He showed us around his stage. It was quite interesting, and sad at the same time.
From there, we got a little lost on our way to Cape Spear, and wound up back in St. John's. Lots of tourists at Cape Spear. Though, what do you expect? Saw some whale sprays from up on the hill.
Left there and went way over to the other side of the harbour and up to Signal Hill. What an amazing view. Went into the Tower, etc.
Then we headed to try to find Cuckold Cove. We had seen shots of the Cove on TV and had to see it for ourselves. We decided to get back in the car and approach it from Quidi Vidi. That worked, and we found the spot. Incredible! And so sheltered from St. John's and Quidi Vidi, you wouldn't know you were right in civilization.
Back to the hotel for a quick change of clothes and down to the waterfront to catch a boat tour, on the J&B. So much fun. Narrated as we went out through the narrows. Then a guy started playing his guitar and singing. I was in the height of luxury. Just out of St. John's Harbour, on a schooner with Newfoundland folk music in the background. We went around a little bit and then started to see whales. Wonderful to watch. We eventually headed back into town and just before we docked, they had a screech-in ceremony. I didn't take part because, it hadn't been arranged already and I chickened out. Not the screech, I've had that before, not the cod, I can handle that, and not the saying, I can say it. It was just…doing it in front of people….ah well. Anyway, this ceremony was priceless and the best they have ever had. They were 3 girls from Pennsylvania and they just could not get it. After lots of practicing….one response to "Is you a newfie screecher?" was "Yah." Another was "Indeed I is, me fine big cock." (it's supposed to be "Indeed I is, me fine old cock, and long may your big jib draw")
We headed back to the hotel and hung around for a while until we headed out to find out where a band we had heard about, *69, was playing. The George Street festival it turned out. So, we went there and caught the tail end of their set out on George Street. Now for a stroke of luck! After *69 was Celtic Connection. I've been wanting to see them for about a year now!! Wahoo!!! They put on a great show!!! Afterwards, we sat down on some steps to rest for a while, as our feet were killing us, then we decided to go to the Duke of Duckworth before going back to the hotel. The three of us had a grand old time there, that pub seems so inviting. We saw many people we knew of from the music industry there. We closed the pub down and headed back to the hotel and chatted before falling asleep.
Wednesday, August 4, 1999: Deb and Carolyn got up early to get Carolyn to the bus to Change Islands. Deb and I had to stay in St. John's because of the car. It was a sacrifice I was perfectly willing to undertake. After a while, we got all ready and headed to the regatta. What a stroke of luck to happen to be in St. John's while the 173rd Annual Royal St. John's Regatta was going on. It's the oldest sporting event in North America and it's held on Quidi Vidi Lake. It was a great time. We wandered and sat in the shade and watched the races.
After 3 hours there, we decided to see some more sights, so we walked back to the hotel to pick up the car, then to Fort Amherst. I'm still amazed that the public is allowed to go as far into the Fort as they want. I assumed that it would be chained off. The coolest thing, there were some teenagers sitting out on the rocks playing various kinds of bongos and drums. No music, just rhythm. I thought that was the perfect place to do that! And, with the waves crashing in….my, my, my…. The only thing that was upsetting about Fort Amherst is all the graffiti everywhere. Otherwise, it was very spooky.
From there, we headed over to the other side to check out The Battery. An actual fishing village right in St. John's. Some of the most interesting houses are in there. There was this yellow "house". I can't even describe it, you'll have to see the picture below. We walked out on the path that goes from the end of The Battery around the cliffs. Stopped after about 20 minutes and sat and just soaked it all in. It was here that I realized I didn't want to leave St. John's.
We made our way back to the hotel for a bit, then off to the Westminster for dinner and then off to see Arthur O'Brien at Erin's Pub. Arthur was having an off night, but otherwise, it was good. We went over to the Duke of Duckworth for a nightcap and to the hotel for bed.
Thursday, August 5, 1999: Deb and I decided to go for coffee and a muffin around 11:00 am or so to Hava Java. Deb left me there to go return the rental car and go up to the mechanics to pay for the new transmission for her car. So, I wandered up and down Water Street, and Harbour Drive soaking in the atmosphere.
Deb and I met up again and went to do some shopping, touristy type places. I bought a sweatshirt and two Newfoundland traditional tune books from O'Brien's.
We called the mechanic guy and the car was ready, so she took a cab to pick it up. I took our purchases back to the hotel. I sat in the hotel room, trying out some of the tunes on some whistles, and trying Deb's new A whistle. I love it! Then, I wandered down to the waterfront to write some postcards.
We met back at the hotel and stayed there for a bit playing some tunes, then headed out for a late dinner at the Westminster and a couple drinks back at the Duke of Duckworth. The pub was full of professors who had attended a conference on linguistics at Memorial University that day. We closed down the pub again and went back to the hotel for 4 precious hours of sleep.
Friday, August 6, 1999: Woke up very early for Deb to take the car back in to the shop. It was raining outside. Ugh. Deb came back and we went to have some breakfast. That accomplished, I went and packed while she went to pick the car up. It was driving much better now. We rushed for a noon checkout and headed down to O'Brien's for some more whistles. They joked that we must be starting a band. Went up to Flatrock to pick up Carolyn's sister's dog. Passed through Torbay on the way, very picturesque. Wanted to check out Pouch Cove and Outer Cove, but we were running out of time.
We were so upset at having to leave St. John's, but we did and we drove up through the province up to the Fogo and Twillingate area where Change Islands is located. We had planned on having time to go to Trinity on the way, but, again, ran out of time. The drive was uneventful, scenery was amazing for about ¾ of the drive, then it got to look more like Northern Ontario, complete with Canadian Shield. We had to wait an hour and a half in Farewell for the ferry. Windy out on the water. We drove from the dock to the village and found Carolyn's mother's house, and chatted for a while before heading out to a beer party. Bitterly cold, but kinda fun. The accents are much stronger here, than in St. John's.
Saturday, August 7, 1999: Slept in, felt great. Went out to a garden party. It was okay, apparently, it had been much better in past years. The view was great and there were games for the kids. Had dinner at Carolyn's Aunt's restaurant.
Later headed out to a dance. Met more of Carolyn's friends. It is Come Home Year across the province, and Change Islands was holding its festivities this week. That's why there were so many friends there. The dance was quite a bit of fun. They played mostly country music, but the odd traditional tune snuck in there. They did play The Fables version of Heave Away three times. Two mummers showed up there, but it didn't take long for them to disrobe. Back to the house and a little bit of chatting and to bed.
Sunday, August 8, 1999: Hung around for a bit. We were scheduled for a boat tour at 1:00, but it had to be pushed back an hour because of the high winds. Deb and I spend the time having a little jam session in the front yard. Music playing from the car stereo, whistles and bodhrans in hand. Then it was time for the tour. Gorgeous location, we were right out in the North Atlantic, with nothing between us and England. Saw some more amazing whales in the very rough waters. For the rest of the day, all I could taste was salt.
Back to the house for last-minute things and off for the 4:30 ferry back to Farewell. Amazingly, we were able to get everything in the car. Drove from there to Deer Lake. It was scary driving through deepest darkest Newfoundland at night. What with the lack of other cars and the moose factor. We did actually see one, at one point. Got to Carolyn's brother-in-law's place and chatted for a bit and went to bed.
Monday, August 9, 1999: Woke up and hung around for a bit, and then Deb, Carolyn and I drove up to Gros Morne National Park for a few hours. Breathtaking drive, even though it was raining. It was as though we were picked up and dropped right into Scotland.
Drove back, picked up our stuff and started on our way down to Port-Aux-Basques. Stopped to see Marble Mountain. I need a new word for 'breathtaking'.
Left the highway to go to Corner Brook and up that little peninsula. That is the most beautiful area yet!!! Drove through Benoit's Cove and stopped for food there.
We went all the way to the end, past Blow-Me-Down. At one of the most Scotland-like parts there, the song that happened to come on the stereo at the time was a Mary Jane Lamond song. Starts with one lone piper and then she comes in with spoken gaelic. Deb and I were in tears. The pipes, the gaelic and those mountains…..
We wanted to go see the Port-Au-Port peninsula, but had run out of time, yet again. Nice motel room in Port-Aux-Basques.
Tuesday, August 10, 1999: Up at 5:30 for an 8:00 ferry. Got our tickets and found out that the ferry was an hour and a half late. Went in to get something to eat. Half of us were quite irritable, as we hadn't had enough sleep, had colds that had progressed overnight, and then we hear over the speakers that the ferry won't be in until noon. Very annoying, if we hadn't been stuck in line, we could have driven around a little and seen the area. The ferry didn't leave until 1:30, 5.5 hours late. The trip was fairly uneventful, though quite rough. I sat at the stern for a while, watching Newfoundland slip away from me and wishing that we could just turn around and go back.
I only got in about one hour's sleep on the ferry. We docked shortly after 7:00 PM, 6 hours late. Deb started the drive home, we stopped for dinner and she drove until about 4:30 AM just before Edmunston, when I took over so she could sleep.
Wednesday, August 11, 1999: I drove from there to just before Quebec City (9:30 AM or so), and couldn't keep going, because I was falling asleep behind the wheel. Deb kept going until Cornwall, and I drove from Cornwall home. Got home around 5:00 PM or so.
And, so ends my 16-day adventure! I'm going back, I just don't know when yet.