Again, most of this was written that day, in a log book.
Friday, September 7, 2001: Everything has gone smoothly so far. Met mum at the airport, checked in, got on the plane. The plane flew, we read the whole way (that blasted Harry Potter). Landed without problems. The only thing that came close to a problem was that the shuttle (which was in fact, still running at 11:30 pm) wouldn't be able to drop us off at our hotel. So we had to take a $42 taxi. Oh well.
Checked into the Howard Johnson just fine and we have figured out what we're doing tomorrow already.
I forgot my map of Halifax.
Saturday, September 8, 2001: So, we woke up, were a little slow moving (my fault) and checked out. Wound up having to take a cab downtown to pick up the car.
But, get this. We got a free upgrade from an economy car to an SUV (Ford Escape). I like driving this car.
So, we wandered a bit of the harbour on foot, picked up a B&B book, had something to eat and left for Peggy's Cove.
A brief detour was found into the town of Lower Prospect. It was supposed to be Prospect, but we turned too soon. Beautiful little fishing village.
On to Peggy's Cove and some late lunch.
And then finally we were on our way to Cape Breton. Got on the island as the Sun went down and found a B&B to stay at in Mabou. We checked in there and were told that there was a dance over in West Mabou and did we want to go. We decided to go briefly expecting Wendy MacIsaac and Jackie Dunn. We get there and it's a guy Mum used to see play at Tafelmusik, David Greenburg. Her jaw dropped and we rushed up to the front to watch him. Very jerky style, but good.
A short while later there was some weird applause. I turn around and there's John Allen Cameron walking in with his guitar. He set up and played along, but nothing of his own.
I danced once, Mum danced twice and they really do do the same three dances over and over. We left at midnight.
Sunday, September 9, 2001: Forgot to mention yesterday that Mum spent half the drive up trying to pronounce Antigonish properly.
But back to today. We had a wonderful breakfast with the people at the B&B, and headed up the remaining part of the Ceilidh trail towards the Cabot Trail. Took some detours along the way. I think we crossed the very bridge that John Morris Rankin drove off of a few years ago.
We hooked up with the Cabot Trail and drove up to Chéticamp. The mountains are glorious! We stopped a little bit along there to go for a hike (Skyline Trail). Wonderful! Got attacked by butterflies, saw a moose fairly close and got to see some wonderful views. Chatted with a woman whose sister's husband is Lucy MacIntyre's brother (Sandy's brother-in-law).
Thoroughly exhausted, we returned to the car and kept going through the park. I had to make some pretty treacherous descending drives. There were places along there that reminded Mum of Wales.
We took a long off-trail drive to the northern-most community in Nova Scotia, Meat Cove. An inn, a gift shop, three houses and a campground. That was it. I have never had a more scary drive. Gravel road, with really steep downhills in places and cliffs down to the sea on the right. But we made it.
Basically we kept going until Ingonish where we had dinner. Drove right to North Sydney from there. Checked in, wandered the terminal a bit, packed our bags for the ferry and figured out how to put the back seats down in the car so we could get some sort of sleep. It was priceless. All our bags in the front seats and us in the back with this weird bar across, that resembled a limbo bar, above us. It was a bar from which we could unroll a tarp to cover the trunk, but I couldn't figure out how to remove it. So there we slept for a few hours, after our giggling fits ended, that is.
Monday, September 10, 2001: We were woken by the strains of "Any car passengers should return to their cars now." at about a quarter after 5 am. I unlocked the doors by straining to reach forward to the driver's door. I opened the back door and the alarm starts going off! Frantically, I reached forward and started the engine, thinking that if I did that it must know that I have the key. But no. So here we are with the engine running and the alarm blaring. What? Are we trying to steal the car from the inside out or something? So, I realize what to do, jump out, insert the key in the driver's door and "unlock" the door. The alarm stopped! But our laughter kept going for a bit. What a way to start the day.
So, we board a short while later and head up for a coffee and to sit at the stern. We pretty much watched the sunrise. We then thought it prudent to go find our sleepers and try to sleep. This was great after the few hours in the back of the car. Slept for 6 or 7 hours there.
It was hot out! But we actually had some more coffee and something to eat and *then* went outside. I finished that blasted Harry Potter book a few hours later, while sitting outside at the stern. Dinner was eaten (good actually) and we were told to go to our cars to prepare to disembark.
Mum was amazed at how calm the waters were and we saw some whales.
I drove the 1.5 hours to St. John's with Mum dozing beside me. We found our B&B without too much trouble and went in. There's scaffolding up unfortunately, making it tricky to get in and out. Oh well.
Our room is great! High double bed and pullout couch, some old dressers and desks, our own bathroom too!
I dragged Mum out to the Duke of Duckworth for a drink. It was a longer walk than I remembered.
Oh and we have a private phone line!!!
Tuesday, September 11, 2001: What a day!!! And not for good reasons. But, let me start at the beginning.
Breakfast up on the top floor was great (cheese omelette). We watched the Sun slowly burn off the fog from the harbour and city.
We headed downstairs to wash and head out. Little did we know we wouldn't get out of there until noon. I turned the tv on and Regis started, with a news update. An airplane had crashed into one tower of the World Trade Center. A bit later, a second one, then at the Pentagon too, then one tower of the WTC (in NYC) collapsed, followed half an hour later by the other one. Debris, dust, smoke and ash was everywhere. Manhattan was like some morbid, gray winter wonderland. Thousands of lives lost. All the planes were 757s or 767s full of people and were hijacked.
It wasn't until they announced the grounding of all flights and the closing of all airports that I remembered that Jason was supposed to fly to Boston today. Boston is where the 2nd plane had left from.
I panicked and called him. He's fine and safe still in Chicago, feeling loved and cared about.
Even our airports had closed to everything except the flights diverted from the US. Halifax reportedly had a huge backlog of planes on the tarmac. What do they do? There are customs issues here, these people wouldn't necessarily have passports with them.
Eventually, we realized that we had to go out so we didn't lose the entire beautiful day. So, we went out and right down to Harbour Drive and walked along there. We just happened upon the Scademia as it was about to leave, so we hopped on board.
Beautiful tour, though I preferred the J&B two years ago. Didn't see any whales, but the rocky cliffs have some wonderful caves in them.
Got back to shore about 3:00 and did a bit of window shopping. I fell in love with a few woollen sweaters ($$!!!). Then we headed back to our B&B and found out that a 4th hijacked plane had crashed in Philadelphia.
David called. I guess just to assure himself that we weren't due to be on a plane any time soon.
We left here to go have dinner at the Westminster. Yummy! And, I proceeded to lock mum's phone and not be able to unlock it. This was just after Jason called to say that he was still in Chicago, though we couldn't answer his call for some reason.
After dinner we headed to Christian's on George Street for a drink and to hear Bush's address.
Drove back to the B&B and called Jason for an update on him. He might make it out tomorrow. Mum lectured me on the Palestinians.
What a horrific day.
I'm not allowed near mum's phone anymore.
Wednesday, September 12, 2001: Today was better. As usual we woke up and had breakfast. French toast.
After getting ready for the day, we made our way up to the NewTel Mobility office, where a lady showed us how to unlock mum's phone. Yay!!
But just let me say that the streets here are stupid! First of all, whoever designed half the intersections in town must have been on crack. And, we kept just missing the street we wanted to turn on.
From there we headed for Petty Harbour. Just as beautiful as I remembered. We wound up walking up the street I have heard that Alan grew up on and in fact, it must have been because at one spot, on the side of the street opposite the houses, there was a bin marked "Doyle's". No idea which house it belonged to. Nor would I have felt right speculating.
So, finally we left Petty Harbour and headed for Cape Spear. I developed a very mellow mood and found the far side of the old lighthouse, on the rocks to be the perfect spot for my mood.
We left there and headed back into town, parked at the B&B and walked to the Basillica of St. John the Baptist. Unfortunately it was locked, but we saw it from the outside.
There are snapdragons everywhere!!!
We needed some rest so we did and then went for dinner at Greensleeves on George Street (where we met some stranded travellers), followed by a drink at the Duke and a relatively early night.
Thursday, September 13, 2001: We were on time for a breakfast! Berry pancakes. Yum.
Something that has been happening the fast fews days is meeting a whole bunch of people who are stranded here because of the attacks on Tuesday. Met two people from Manchester on our first stop of the day, at Fort Amherst. Just as fascinating as I remember. I went a bit further this time, down on to the rocks and saw where a whole bunch of other buildings had once been, but are no longer.
Talking to these people, I realized that if Jason had had an earlier flight that day, and hadn't been able to land, he might have been diverted here. Hehe.
We left there and headed down to Bay Bulls to go on O'Brien's boat. It was great. Chris, our guide, was really nice. We didn't see any whales, but lots of Puffins. They are like 'hummingbirds on steroids". They have to flap their wings like mad just to stay airborne and have to take a running start down from their burrow to help them.
From there, we headed down to Ferryland and saw the archaeological dig going on at the Colony of Avalon (Lord Baltimore's colony). Quite interesting, but it's pretty obvious there's a lot still to do.
Then it was back in town for dinner at Nautical Nellie's. I must say, really good food. Bob Hiscock (former member of the Punters) was in there too. And Mum thinks she saw Bob Hallett and wife leave there. I couldn't tell (his back was to me), but the woman with him looked familiar, so I'm going to assume it was him even if just to make my concern go away that they're stranded somewhere.
We left there to go for a drink at the Ship Inn. Nice, but I still prefer the Duke. Mum and I had a great conversation about accents and cultures and how they are perceived from other parts of the world. (i.e. do Newfoundlanders have trouble understanding us too?). Then an open mike thing started so we left for George Street. Fergus O'Byrne and Dermot O'Reilly were playing at O'Reilly's but we listened from outside only for a short while before we headed for Finnegan's and then home.
The fog has rolled in and I'm really enjoying the sound of the foghorn at Fort Amherst. Can't wait to bring Jason here.
Friday, September 14, 2001: Breakfast was French toast again.
Woke up to heavy fog this morning. Very heavy. I've seen heavier, but from the top-floor kitchen window, we could see only to the houses on the near side of the next street (Gower).
We decided to head over to the Newfoundland Museum. Some very interesting artifacts, but we were very museum weary by the time we left.
From here we headed down to Hava Java for a sandwich and coffee and read bits of yesterday's globe. Next was over to Nonia. Unfortunately, the wool sweater that I like so much (and which Mum was thinking of buying as a Christmas gift for me) was too big for me. Mum, however, ordered one for herself and we came out of there with: Mum…embroidery kit (Puffins) and mitt-gloves. Me… cross-stitch kit (Gower Street) and mitt-gloves. They should go well with my winter jacket.
Leaving there, we headed down to Harbour Drive to walk along there in the fog. There was a ship there from Russia (Kaliningrad). We spent ages there trying to figure out if it was Russian or Greek (it's amazing how similar the alphabets are) until we saw the Russian flag at the stern. Turns out it's a Russian science vessel.
We went back to our B&B to regroup. We had decided to postpone Signal Hill until tomorrow because of the fog, but we didn't know that we would be stuck at the B&B until 8:00 because of the deluge that began. We seemed to be right on the edge of Hurricane Erin. Instead, we watched tv and did a bit of our respective projects and wrote our postcards. Finally we headed out to O'Reilly's for dinner and to catch Connemara. The rain started again shortly after we got there and it poured and poured, not letting up.
We kept running into this couple stranded here who were trying to get from Athens to JFK and they were in O'Reilly's too. Good food and I really enjoyed Connemara, but had the strong desire to not dance. It was weird. And after the first set, we realized that we should probably go. Besides, although I was enjoying the music, I was tired and really wanted bed. Maybe it was the smoke and the noise of the people that were getting to me.
No fog tonight, just pouring rain.
Saturday, September 15, 2001: Patsy (cook at B&B) has Saturdays off, so it was a kind of do-it-yourself breakfast; cereal and toast. But the weather was great! We tried to arrange to stay one more night to make up for losing yesterday to the fog. But, our room was already booked.
So, we ran some errands (bread, bank, mailbox, …) and then drove down to the Battery and parked while some old ladies stared at us from the window of their house. We did the Headland trail that goes around the bottom of Signal Hill and up it. It was a good hike and I was worried about Mum for a bit but she held her own quite well.
The wind on the way up was astounding! We looked all around the top while up there, went over to Ladies' Lookout and walked down the road to what I thought was Deadman's Pond. There was supposed to be a path down into the Battery from there, but we couldn't find it for the life of us. Wound up walking down one of the streets further down that joined the two together.
After that it was pretty much out of St. John's. We drove up through Torbay (even prettier in sunlight) to Pouch Cove (also very pretty) and over, on a dirt road, to Portugal Cove, or at least we think. Actually, we were pretty sure about that one, it was after that we got confused. The map and the land were contradicting each other. But eventually we made it back down to the TCH, just at a different spot from where we initially intended.
We drove uneventfully to Clarenville and are now sharing a ¾ bed together. This should be interesting.
I just pulled a brush through my hair. Not fun, but it has been worse.
Sunday, September 16, 2001: Today was driving day.
Mum and I actually slept better than we thought we would, but I did wake up various times with sore shoulders (1 pillow).
We left and started up the Bonavista peninsula. Stopped at Trinity along the way. Oh my goodness what a beautiful spot! I could see myself coming back there for a few days. I can see why Alan goes on about it.
We drove around there for a while and then headed back up to Bonavista. The town was nice, the lighthouse was nice. Unfortunately we had to see it with scaffolding (seems to be a theme). The place was dead except for one woman in the gift store and the odd car that drove up, glanced around and drove away. But what we loved up there was the scenery. Rocks everywhere! I couldn't believe how quiet and serene it was when I went to the other side of a mound from the road.
Leaving there we drove back down the other side of the peninsula, over to Gambo, and around the shore road and up to Little Harbour on South Twillingate Island. Unfortunately the Sun had gone down by the time we got there, so I long to see these three islands by day.
We went into town (Twillingate) for dinner and we're now in a B&B right on the water. Central Newfoundland is still just like northern Ontario.
Monday, September 17, 2001: The usual type of morning this morning; up, breakfast, shower, leave. Little Harbour is actually quite pretty.
We left to go into town (Twillingate) to buy some food for the drive. Then we headed further up to Durrell and actually all the way past Durrell to French Beach. It was really nice, a path through the grass and down to a rocky beach.
From there we went up to North Twillingate Island to see the lighthouse at Long Point. Nearby is a municipal park that we went down into to see an old mining area. Mum had just bought a book on Newfoundland geology.
Next was a trip to Moreton's Harbour. It's quite nice though smaller than I expected. We took a long walk there too looking for volcanic rocks and a deserted mine that was supposedly up a path through a gap in the woods. We followed it for a bit but eventually gave up (it was probably just around the next corner).
We left Moreton's Harbour and started our drive down off the islands, through Lewisporte and back down to the highway on our way to Badger where we are spending the night. This is an odd place, this B&B. The owner is not in Newfoundland, the "caretaker" was putting her kids to bed so her husband came over to check us in. He lived in Toronto for four years apparently. This place is also freezing! It's not so bad now, because I finally got the guts to turn the furnace up. It was set to 10 degrees C, so wasn't on at all. The temperature was 17 degrees it said. Far too cold.
This bed is warm and I think I'm getting a cold. No, I'm not getting a cold, I'm not getting a cold….
Tuesday, September 18, 2001: We were told 7:30 for breakfast, got there shortly after and were the first ones down. It was a good breakfast, but too much for me. Scones, muffins, oatmeal and french toast.
Deer Lake (coffee and gas) was our only stop between Badger and Gros Morne. We turned north and soon found ourselves in a new country: mountains. We drove along the south side of Bonne Bay to Woody Point and Curzon Point, then over to Trout River. Along the road to Trout River are some completely different kinds of mountains. They are orangey brown. Most vegetation can't live there because of the minerals in the rock. They were quite fascinating. These were the tablelands.
From there, we went back down and drove along the north side of the bay. Saw Gros Morne mountain with what appeared to be a storm raging on it. We took a slight detour into Rocky Harbour to book a boat tour to Western Brook Pond for the 20th.
I believe the mountains in Gros Morne are unsurpassed in beauty within Canada. Some may beg to differ.
The road then follows very close to the water's edge for the rest of the drive north. Soon after Rocky Harbour the landscape changed. It is quite flat and boggy there, with the mountains starting a little more inland.
We decided to poke our heads in the B&B for tomorrow night (Cow Head) and book a room. It looks nice. Two double beds in the room. Soon after, the landscape changed again, to hilly with rocks and trees. Before we arrived at Flower's Cove (our next stop for the night) it changed to flat and grassy.
This town is very cute, reminding Mum a lot of the north of Scotland. We saw a spectacular sunset where we had dinner. Simply amazing!
We can see Labrador from here, across the Strait of Belle Isle. What is with Newfoundlanders and keeping the temperature low in houses? My nose is cold.
Wednesday, September 19, 2001: More cereal for breakfast. Funny how B&Bs in Scotland can be so different from here.
We started off in search of some geological formation not far from town, but unfortunately Mum's book was having us on and we couldn't find it. So, up the coast we went, to L'Anse Aux Meadows, watching out for moose along the way.
The L'Anse Aux Meadows site is quite fascinating. And I learned quite a bit, for instance, it was discovered as recently as the 60s. Leif Eriksson was the supposed original settler and he was the son of Erik the Red.
It was quite cold up there and I got to use my new mittens for the first time. Though they looked ridiculous with my UW jacket. We had lunch at a little place called Northern Delight. Pretty good food and Mum tried Turbot Cheeks. Apparently they're pretty filling.
From there we checked out St. Anthony. Quite a large town, it surprised me a little actually. Found our way to yet another red-and-white, striped lighthouse under construction.
All that was left was the drive back down to Cow Head. I had to have mum take over the driving for me for a bit because I could hardly keep my eyes open. So I got to have a little snooze.
This B&B is great! J&J Hospitality Home. We have two double beds and this whole self-contained house to ourselves. That means we made tea for ourselves and plopped down in front of the tv in the living room with our little projects and watched the news and some documentaries on Newfoundland's history.
Jason called and he left for Boston tonight to make a second attempt to visit his friend, which was thwarted the first time by the attacks in NYC and DC last week. I hope he has fun.
Tomorrow is the boat trip up into Western Brook Pond. I'm really looking forward to it!
Thursday, September 20, 2001: Pancakes and bacon for breakfast. We left late because of the great conversation. Went for a brief hike out on the peninsula right there. It was good. Then we had to hightail it to the parking lot for the Western Brook Pond boat tour, up the fjord (actually a fjord lake). The walk from the lot to the dock was about 40 minutes. It was nice as well, some uphill, some downhill, through trees one moment, across a bog the next. We had time to only use the facilities before we were herded on the boats. We made our way up top soon after we elft and had a wonderful view of everything.
The tour was spectacular! Learned some interesting things about how this "fjord" was formed. Saw some heautiful waterfalls and some "men" in the cliffs (tin man, the bald man). Mum went down below but I decided to be stubborn and stay up, even after we turned around and the wind picked up. Oh my, what a wind! I was so cold, but I wasn't going to give in.
Well, we returned and after some warming coffee we set off on our walk again.
Drove down to Rocky Harbour to book our B&B for the night. Unfortunately neither of the two we called had room. So, after much deliberating, we decided to call this new place in Steady Brook (we had wanted Corner Brook). This is a private home with a hot tub in the basement (which we used), a jacuzzi for our tub, a bar/dance area complete with snazzy lighting, a movie-viewing room (with cushy seating for 8-10), and a weight room. This place is insane!
But we had a good dinner in town (Corner Brook), after we found the place, and sat chatting with our hosts until after 11 (a bottle of wine was consumed). Seems he used to be in the Air Force (I think) and now he's on pension from that and working another job and she is a teacher. Insane!
We leave the island tomorrow.
Friday, September 21, 2001: The morning was kind of odd. We got a discount because they wouldn't be around to make us breakfast, so it was just the two of us in the house with a friend of theirs who had come over to set up and clean up. But she just sat off in another room reading until we were finished.
But after leaving and stopping at Tim Horton's we were off along the south side of the Bay of Islands. Just as beautiful as I remembered. Though this time we did actually make it to Bottle Cove. I discovered that what I thought was Bottle Cove 2 years ago was something completely different. We took a nice walk through a forest to the head of the north (?) side of the cove. There was a used campfire there, what a spot for that!
Drove back to the TCH and down to the Port au Port peninsula. Pretty, but nothing like what we had seen before. Drove the whole loop around dodging children on bikes at every turn. We got terribly lost in Stephenville on the way out, but we managed to avoid that on the way back in.
All that was left was the drive down to Port-aux-Basques. We figured it must be a glorious drive in daylight, but it was dark. Both times have been dark for me in fact. It turned out we were travelling on the Smallwood again and with the same bunks, in fact. So we went to get a small bite to eat and decided just to hang around the car. We were called back to our cars at 10:15! A full hour and 15 before we were due to leave. We think that they're trying to rid themselves of the reputation they have for being late.
One more day.
Saturday, September 22, 2001: My night was hampered by an upset stomach while trying to fall asleep. Luckily I did, finally, when the guy next to us took a break from his snoring. That was enough for me to fall asleep, but not enough for Mum. He kept her up something fierce. And he had the strangest snore I have ever heard.
We were woken up half an hour before docking and eventually got out of bed shortly before we were told to go to our cars.
Once back on the land, we took a detour into North Sydney for gas and coffee. Then we got back on the highway going south, got thoroughly lost and confused in Sydney and made our way to the road that goes along the water's edge to Louisbourg. Mum had to take over after a bit cause I was having concentration problems. It was a nice drive but that was really all…just nice.
We decided to take a nap in the parking lot at the fortress in Louisbourg. That felt wonderful. Feeling refreshed, we wandered around the visitor's centre and a path nearby, but didn't venture into the fortress itself. We didn't have a lot of time and it cost $11 to go in. Maybe if we had had five hours.
After a bite to eat in town, we took off up the middle of Cape Breton Island, through the Bras d'Or Lakes. Beautiful scenery from that peninsula, even if it was overcast.
We took the neatest little cable ferry across one part. It cost $3.
Once in Baddeck we found the place where Mum could get her lobster supper and found a place to stay the night. Great place with creaky floors.
It was here that Mum discovered she had left some clothing at the B&B in Corner Brook.
Mum's lobster dinner was apparently absolutely wonderful. I don't like seafood, so I had ham. It was good and actually very filling.
We retired back to the B&B, where Mum started reading her newspaper and promptly fell right asleep and I cross-stitched for a bit. The light was out before 10:30.
Sunday, September 23, 2001: The usual breakfast. Had a nice conversation with a couple from outside Montreal on sabbatical. Once we left that was pretty much it until Halifax, though Mum wanted to stay for the lobster lunch. Hehe. Driving in Halifax is just plain annoying. We filled the car up, took it back in, had a drink at the Lower Deck and hopped in a cab to the airport.
Security was interesting. We had to show that various things worked, camera, cell phone. Mum had to take her nail file back out to her bag (which had already been loaded on the plane) and my keychain too, while the RCMP guy took my name and number because apparently it's illegal to fly with one of those. Who knew?
The flight itself was uneventful, but our seats were way apart. Oh well.