Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cabot and CeilidhTrail

The Cabot Trail was beautiful. We arrived in North Sydney after taking the 15 hour ferry from Newfoundland on Sunday.

Our first stop was the Alexander Graham Bell Museum in Baddeck. The museum was just OK (not great) and we learned a lot about the inventions of Bell. There was a kite display and one of the kites was made of a paper bag from Coffeyville, Kansas (Dean has relatives there). The town of Baddeck is lovely. It must be the B&B capitol of Nova Scotia. There were many beautiful old homes restored into lodging.

Our first stop was at Indian Brook (not much of a town) where we stayed at an abandoned RV park located on the coast line, very quiet and scenic. The next day we did the first big hill (we drove separate) and then stayed at Neil’s Harbor. We boondocked at the Chowder House with a great view of the rugged coastline. The view was a little obstructed because of the wind and rain. We ate lunch and dinner at the Chowder House: good food and cheap prices!

Chowder House and our rig in parking lot.

The next day was another big hill in the northern part of Cape Breton Highlands National Park and then we stayed at Pleasant Bay. During the day we toured the Whale Interpretive center which was very interesting. We parked by the marina and watched the whale watching boats come in and out. Since we have a marine radio now, we listened to see if they were spotting any whales. When we heard that there were about 3 pods around I got my warm clothes together and went to the marina. I took a zodiac ride which was a great way to see whales. We followed a pod for about an hour. I wish my pictures were better because the whales were right next to the boat.

Parking spot at Pleasant Harbor
Marina with four whale watching enterprises at Pleasant Bay
My whale pictures

The zodiac I went out on and the passengers coming ashore.

Views of Cabot Trail

Day three on the Cabot trail and we went over another big hill – MacKensie Mt. I drove separate the entire 3 days that we did the trail and we are glad because our transmission would not have taken these grades. We stopped in at Cheticamp and I went to the Hooked Rug Musuem. Cheticamp is the Hooked Rug Capitol of the World. After Cheticamp we came across Joe's Scarecrow farm. We drove on to find a boondocking spot but three of the Days End spots were no longer available. We left the Cabot Trail and arrived in Mabou. We got permission to stay in the city parking lot so we could go to the Red Shoe Pub for music and dinner. The music was good but the dinner was not very good and pricey. Tonight we are at Judique at the Celtic Music Interpretive Center. We listened to a fiddler at lunch and we are going to the evening performance. Tomorrow leave Cape Breton Island and return to the mainland of Nova Scotia.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Parting thoughts on Newfoundland

This blog is dedicated to reflexions on Newfoundland, both good and bad.

Roads, traffic, and transportation

TCH 1 is a very good road – lots of four lanes and passing lanes, but not too many pullouts. The other roads in NL range from decent two lane roads to really rough pothole roads that you have to go slow on. Newfies don’t like to pass so they may follow an RV for quite a while. We were told that these were government workers who weren't in a hurry to get to work. And if the Newfies want to talk to someone or go pick some berries it is not uncommon for them to stop half in the road and half off. You just have to go around when it is safe. The ferries are decent. We took the short ferry over and it took 5 ½ hours. It was crowded but we found good seating in the game room. The loading and unloading was quick. We did hear a horror story that one of the ferries could not dock at Port aux Basques because of the wind and so it sat outside the harbor for over 30 hours waiting for the wind to calm down. We took the long ferry back (15 1/2 hours). It was very crowded but we found comfortable seating in the recliner room on the cabin floor just above the main dining area.


Of course, gas was very expensive. Our highest price for regular was $1.38 per liter and most of the time we paid 1.35. Milk and dairy products were very expensive - $7.50 for 4 liters of milk, $6.50 for a regular block of cheese. I started using powdered milk. Bananas were 95 cents per pound. Thank goodness we didn't have to buy any meat since we had so much fish to eat. Meat and chicken were very expensive.


You don’t know about their festivals, if they are going to be anything special. Twillingate was the best festival we attended – with lots of people and lots of things to do. The Viking Feast at Norstead in Northern NL was a joke. The people working there didn’t even know about it. The lobster festival at Cowhead had some things going on but the attendance was very poor.

The boondocking

It was incredible. You can park almost anywhere and most of the places we parked were very picturesque. We only got asked to leave one place (Rocky Harbor) because the local RV Park had some pull with the town council.

Weather –

Even the Newfies say is terrible. We had so many Newfies tell us that this was the worst summer, latest summer, the coldest, wettest summer that they have had in a long time. We were dressed in jackets, hats, and gloves for most of the time we were there. And thank goodness for our catalytic heater. You pay your money and you take your chances.

Fishing –

Because we went early summer we got in on some fishing seasons such as Halibut (which is only 1 day), cod and capelin. We bought a whole Halibut from a fisherman for the four of us at $5 per pound. We bought cod for $3 per pound and then Ron and Dean went cod jigging in Twillingate with the locals and we filled our freezers with cod. No need for a license. They chipped a chunk of ice off an iceberg to keep the fish cool. We went to the docks in Ship Cove and the local fishermen gave us a 5-pound bag of capelin. We pulled mussels off rope that had been brought in from a commercial fishing boat. They didn’t want them because they were muddy. We think that we got a lot of this seafood because we were there early in the summer.

Language –

Although they speak English their dialects are unique. They drop the letter H and put it in some places it doesn’t belong. It took us a long time to figure out what an ockey rink is. And some talk very fast – we had a hard time keeping up.


This is NL biggest asset. The people were so friendly. And they were very generous. We had people give us moose, fish, canned beets, canned mussels. We had three different people take us out in their boats for either fishing or just for a ride. And they loved to talk to us – commenting on our accent!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Whitless Bay, Placentia, Cape St. Mary's

One more picture of our great boondocking spot at Elliston. All alone on the hill with 180 degree view of ocean. Whales everyday!

The wild flowers in Newfoundland were beautiful.

The Molly Brown boat ride near Whitless Bay. There were only two passengers and two crew. I went out (w/o Dean) and saw Gull Island. Tens of thousands of birds - puffins, murres, kittywakes. Cold foggy day, again!

We went into St. John's for one day. It was cold, rainy and foggy (like everyday in NL).

No these pictures are in focus! That is how foggy it was the day we were at Cape Spear. The shorter building with 3 windows is the old lighthouse and the tall one is the current lighthouse.

There were whales in sight at Cape Spear.

We did not go into St. John's and to Signal Hill because of the fog.

Placentia, NL is a beautiful town. You can see our rig in the lower left by the water.

We took a drive out to Cape St. Mary's to see the bird preserve. Huge population of Gannets. There was a baby with almost each adult.

The wing span of the Gannets is close to 6 feet.
We are now on the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia and guess what - it is raining!