NEWFOUNDLAND - 1995
FREDERICTON, NEW BRUNSWICK
This was our rendezvous point for the Airstream caravan we'd be on for the next month and a half.
Fredericton is a thriving modern city located within the bend of the broad and beautiful St. Johns River. One of the oldest settlements in North America, Fredericton was first called St. Ann by its French founders, then Osnaburg. From 1692 until 1698 it was the capital of French Acadia. The British destroyed the settlement in 1760, burning it out. Then, after the American Revolution it was re-established by British loyalists fleeing the new United States and renamed Frederick's Town after Frederick, Duke of York. The name was subsequently shortened to Fredericton. There is a cemetery in town called the Loyalist Cemetery where interesting tombstones mark the graves of the founding loyalists. Some of the names appearing on graves dated as early as 1787 were Edmonds, Quinn, Chestnut, Wood, Taylor, Fowler, Morgan, Miller, Dowling. Some of the epitaphs reflected the hardships of the early settlers. One said, "Here Lies John and Mary Smith surrounded by their ten children who were laid to rest before them." Another told the tragic story of the rector of the church who drowned crossing the river after delivering his last sermon. The grave of the rector's son was beside his father and told how he also was drowned trying to save his father.
We seldom give much thought to the fact that there were tens of thousands of people in the colonies during the Revolution that remained loyal to Great Britain. Nor do we think much about how these people felt threatened after the war to the extent that they had to flee. Even our history books leave the impression that the people in the colonies were united in their desire for independence. The fact was that many places along the coast of Canada were settled by those who were uprooted from their homes and forced to leave the new United States.
There were many modern shopping areas on the fringes of Fredericton. Surrounding the Fredericton Mall were such stores as Wal- Mart, K-mart, Sears, Canadian Tire, and many more.
We drove along the St. Johns River into town and over to the Exhibition Park where the first section of the Newfoundland caravan had formed up. They were crowded into a corner of the parking lot. There was no room for any other trailers, so we parked for the night in a commercial campground outside town, moving over to the Exhibition Park the next morning.
Now we're back in the land of liters and kilometers, where we have to convert our American dollars to Canadian dollars. Try determining the value of gasoline when the price in Canadian money is 57.9 cents per liter, and the station attendants try to explain things in French. The exchange rate when we crossed the border was $1.3415 US to $1 Canadian. It appears to change daily. But all that is part of the adventure.
July 8, 1995
Mileage @ start - 50400
At 9:00am we hooked up our rig and moved over to the rendezvous site - Fredericton's Exhibition Park. We were the first to arrive. Our leaders, Jim and Evelyn Humphrey were there having come with the first section. All those trailers were gone by the time we arrived. Our duty as parkers lasted all day as trailers straggled in until 6:00pm. Wind and dust and sun had us pretty dehydrated and tired by day's end. But it was fun meeting each trailer as they came in. Everyone arrived safely, though some had had some tire problems. We were now 40 trailers strong, including three motorhomes.
At 6:30pm we had a delicious meal of roast beef and mashed potatoes in a meeting room right in the park. It was easy just to walk over. After dinner Jim continued our orientation and introduced the new caravanners who joined us in Fredericton. Then it was to bed to rest tired feet.
July 9, 1995
Mileage @ start - 50412
On this Sunday we dressed for church and headed into town not knowing what we would find. Passing the Brunswick Street Baptist Church we saw people entering and a sign indicating a 10:00am worship service so we stopped and went in. The church was almost filled. An interim pastor spoke of the uniqueness of Jesus. The church was a very old and ornate building with beautiful chandeliers and stained glass windows. We were given a cordial welcome.
After church we drove around town, crossed the St. Johns River to North Fredericton, stopped at a couple of parks, saw the old soldiers barracks where there is a daily changing of the guard, took a picture of the old lighthouse, and drove through the University of New Brunswick, one of the oldest universities in North America.
July 10, 1995
Mileage @ start - 50430
The advance crew left the campground at 7:00am, and by 8:00am everyone else was on their way. We crossed the St. Johns River and drove east on the TransCanada Highway, following the river. The road was smooth, having recently been repaved. We drove through the outskirts of Monkton, crossing the provincial border into Nova Scotia just beyond Sackville. The Visitors Center at the border is a small museum and one of the most unique facilities of its kind anywhere. A bagpiper in his kilts stood outside to welcome all comers. Several rooms portray the various attractions and features of the province. At the end of the tour samples of blueberry cake were given out to promote that industry.
We were travelling with Pat and Lil McGee and decided to take the "Gooscap Trail" down to the coastline, a more scenic route to Glenholme. We did see some nice views of the Bay of Fundy, but it was debatable whether driving the rougher road was worth it. We passed the campground where we stayed at Five Islands in 1990.
That driving route took an extra hour, making us a bit late getting into camp, but we parked in good order at the Elm River Campground with full hookups. This will probably be the last commercial campground on the trip.
The first "GAMs" of the caravan were held at 5:30pm. A "GAM" is a "Get Acquainted Meeting." Caravanners are divided into groups of six couples each, with one couple acting as host. The purpose is to mix and get to know one another better. There will be several such meetings, each with a different group and different host. We were with the Allens (Bob and Helen), Bennetts (Bill and Hilma), Cricks (Art and June), and Cookseys (Don and Gloria). Actually the Cookseys didn't get in until later. In their former lives, Bob Allen owned a hardware store, Bill Bennett was an air traffic controller, and Art Cricks worked for John Deere Equipment.
At 9:15pm Jim Humphrey (our leader) came on the CB with the first of his evening announcements. We are very pleased with his laid back approach to caravanning so far. He keeps everyone well informed, then lets us do our thing without excessive guidance.
July 11, 1995
Mileage @ start - 50665
The tidal bore at Truro is a natural phenomenon that appears in but a few places on earth. It's not as exciting as it may sound, but still something to see. The tides at the upper end of the Bay of Fundy build up to huge levels - 80 to 90 feet in some places - because of the funnel shape of the bay. At certain places the tidewater is still running out when the new incoming tide strikes it coming in. The result is a breaking wave that gradually moves inland. The size of the wave depends on the state of the moon, the wind, and other factors.
The wave we saw this time was remarkably larger than the one we saw five years earlier at Monkton. It was also precisely on time - 11:49am. The incoming wall of water was about 18 inches high and breaking in a frothy foam of white. Watching the people who were watching the bore was about as interesting as the bore itself.
We rode to Truro with the McGees and Frantzes, then ate lunch in Truro at the local KFC place. This afternoon was spent washing clothes, replenishing propane, etc.
The caravan's first cookout came on Tuesday evening. Our cooks had prepared chili with cold slaw, and other fixings. All went well, and everyone enjoyed themselves at the feed. Afterward, Jim held a drivers' meeting and described the route we would take to Sydney, NO in preparation for our ferry ride to Newfoundland.
July 12, 1995
Mileage @ start - 50870
We all rose early to get on the road so as to be parked by noon at the North Sydney Shopping Mall. This was not the same mall that we parked in five years ago. It was much more restricted, but the ladies couldn't wait to get into the stores.
The drive from Glenholme down TCH 105 to Sydney was as pretty as they come, crossing hills that sloped off sharply to the water. At many points we were several hundred feet above sea level looking down across green forest land to the water.
July 13, 1995
Mileage @ start - 50870
Our only task today was to get our rigs to the ferry docks, board the ferry and ride to Newfoundland. We left our shopping mall campsite at noon sharp to drive the short mile to the docks, then waited, aligned in three lanes until loading time at 3:30pm. Many of us walked into town and went through the Canadian Tire store nearby. Back at dockside a band from Newfoundland was playing to entertain the waiting crowds. By loading time there were several hundred cars and a dozen or more tractor trailer rigs on hand besides our 39 Airstreams (39 because of losing one couple due to illness). Boarding the ferry was no problem. We simply drove up the ramp in the lane directed, and we were there. This ferry probably did the best job of any we've been on to provide something for everybody to do. There were game rooms, electronic games and table games, TV rooms, a movie, two bands, a lounge, a cafeteria, and plenty of space for playing cards or just relaxing. The parking deck was lit up like day with fluorescent lighting. There was even a kennel for those with pets.
We sat with the McGees and Frantzes playing Mexican Train dominoes for most of the five hour run. We set our watches forward a half hour to match Newfoundland time and found it to be 9:30pm when we arrived at the island. With hardly a ripple on the water, the ride was smooth as silk. We landed near the city of Port aux Basques on the western end of the island about seven miles from our first campsite at Cheeseman Provincial Park.
It had been a beautiful day, all day, but it was dark and trying to rain as we drove off the ship. That made it tough on the parkers getting everybody in and setup. With the darkness we had to wait until morning to see our surroundings.
We heard that the first section of the caravan (three days ahead of us) had been separated on the ferry with the leader caught in Sydney, unable to get on the boat. That must have been a caravan leader's nightmare and greatly embarrassing for someone.
July 14, 1995
Mileage @ start - 50879
The mournful wail of a foghorn was the only sound that broke the silence the next morning as we awoke for the first time on the island of Newfoundland. We found ourselves in a spruce forest parked beside a small inlet with a view of the Gulf of St. Lawrence in the distance. The inlet was lined with Queen Anne's lace and other flowers. The fog had lifted to a beautiful clear day when Jim announced on the CB that two buses were to pick us up for a tour at 9:00am.
Nu'-fa-land' is the proper pronunciation with special emphasis on the land. The local folks call themselves "Newfies." Newfoundland was the first known landfall of European explorers. It was about 1000 AD when Eric the Red brought his little Viking ship to the island from Norway. The island became Great Britain's first colony in 1583. It was not until 1949 though that it became part of Canada when the combined land area of Labrador and Newfoundland officially became a Canadian province. The largest city is the capital of St. Johns, already well established when New York City was still uninhabited swampland.
July 14, 1995
Mileage @ start - 50879
Newfoundland's economy is presently very poor. The traditional livelihood of the island's people has always been cod fishing, but they are now suffering through a five year moratorium on taking cod, and 30,000 fishermen are out of work. They still fish for lobster, ocean perch, mackerel, and halibut, but the volume is not near what cod fishing was before the moratorium. So they welcome tourists with open arms and warm smiles. There was a man sitting in a boat in the rain at the entrance to the park waving his arms in welcome as we came in last night.
Two buses came at 9:00am that took us down the road along the south shore of the island. We quickly saw how rocky this island was, rugged and windswept with many coves where the ocean water comes in to form small protected harbors. Little fishing villages are in the coves. The first we stopped at was Margaree where 500 residents take great pride in their little brightly colored homes. Perched on the rocks, no two houses are on the same level, and few have anything like a level yard. At the little fish processing plant, they were just finishing a processing run of ocean perch (they called them redfish) that the boats had brought in the previous day. They cut two fillets off and threw the rest away, icing the fillets down in small styrofoam boxes. On the pier the fishermen were mending their nets, torn when they snagged a large rock.
The next stop was Fox Roost and more tied up fishing boats. Then Isle aux Morts where we heard stories of shipwrecks, salvage, and dramatic rescues by the huge Newfoundland dog. Isle aux Morts means island of death. We could see the rocks that extended far into the ocean. On a beautiful calm day like the day we were there, the rocks were clearly visible, but on a stormy day with poor visibility it would have been easy to pile up on the rocks, never knowing they were there until too late.
At Rose Blanche (white rocks) we stopped for lunch at the local Kinsmen Club. They had fixed us a lunch of soup and sandwich. We heard talk of boilins (clams, lobster, etc.), skidoos (snowmobiles), screech (the local rum), and houses with mother-in-law doors. The building code requires a back door to houses with more than one bedroom. But since the back bedrooms usually are high above the ground, the door is just there to satisfy the bureaucratic rule. It's called the mother-in-law because it can't be used to come in, and anyone going out will be bashed against the rocks below, implying that only a mother-in-law would be invited to use it.
There's no farming on Newfoundland. A few residents have their own gardens, often down the road apiece where they find a small fertile spot. The people are close knit and very community conscious. They paint their houses every year and work hard to keep things looking good. No one ever locks a door.
The buses brought us back to camp a little past 4:00pm after one more stop in Burnt Islands for ice cream. We had time to rest before some campfire entertainment in the evening. As the sun went down, the temperature dropped, and everyone scurried for the trailers to get coats and blankets. Two musicians, man and wife, played Newfoundland music. One of the park rangers brought up a Newfoundland dog that weighed 165 pounds to show. Then when it got dark the rangers of Cheeseman Park put on a skit designed to illustrate what life was like in Newfoundland fifty years ago. They showed slides and added some humor to everyone's enjoyment.
According to the literature there are no snakes on Newfoundland, but plenty of moose, caribou, beavers, and rabbits.
July 15, 1995
Mileage @ start - 50879
The Suburban has been getting a rest for the last few days with the ferry trip on Thursday and the bus tour yesterday. A break from buying gasoline was welcome as gasoline is very expensive on Newfoundland. With all the calculations necessary to convert the price to U.S. dollars per gallon, gasoline costs about $1.65 a gallon, most of which is taxes.
On Saturday morning we took a ranger guided hike through the woods to the beach about two miles away. The ranger pointed out and identified many of the seemingly infinite number of wildflower varieties. For the first part of the hike we were in a spruce thicket, then the trail opened onto peat bog covered with yellow, red, white, and purple wildflowers. Up and down rocky knolls we walked before reaching the beach. From atop the knolls we could see the rocky shoreline and thought the beach was going to be a pebble beach at best. But at the point where the trail terminated the beach turned out to be of pretty white sand much like we know in Florida. Some of our friends had driven down and we begged a ride back. They took a road that led to the Cape Ray lighthouse about five miles away. At the lighthouse there was nothing but rocky shoals with waves breaking across them. Wild iris were growing almost to the edge of the rocks. A beautiful spot.
This was an "on your own" day so we drove into the town of Port aux Basques hunting a phone jack to get our EMail, Found a cooperative shopkeeper in a small photo store and got our first EMail in Newfoundland. There was no copying or printing place though so I had to print the last edition of the travelog myself. My printer does fine, but it's slow and will only print a single sheet.
We've been blessed with beautiful weather, clear skies, bright sunshine, 60 degree daytime temperatures. There seems to be a little sea fog that hangs constantly out from the coast a bit. We had just a little rain only on the night we arrived which settled the dust. It gets cool enough at night for a blanket. Saw a patch of snow up on the mountains to the north today.
We were served a delicious supper on Saturday evening at a church in Port aux Basques, and were then entertained by a local singer and guitarist who also told humorous stories about the Newfies and their present plight. They really appreciate the tourists who come and give their economy a boost.
July 16, 1995
Mileage @ start - 50965
On Ann's birthday we went to the Methodist church in Port aux Basques. It was a small church with an old fashioned bell rung by a strong man pulling on a rope. At 10:50am the bell began to ring, and it rang for ten minutes at least. There were eight couples from the caravan there, at least doubling the congregation.
After church we met the McGees, the Hofackers, and the Lamers at the local hotel for lunch. Of the eight people at the table, five had German backgrounds and all had been to Germany to find ancestral homes. Talk of that common bond dominated the conversation.
The weather changed a bit on Sunday. The wind picked up and brought with it scattered showers and intermittent sunshine. Often the rain and sun appeared together. The air remained free of pollutants. Many of the caravanners went up the coast to watch for whales during the afternoon, but the deteriorating weather forced cancellation of evening "Gams" and a change from a scheduled outdoor drivers' meeting to CB instructions from Jim.
July 17, 1995
Mileage @ start - 50975
The 150 mile trip from Port aux Basques to Pasadena was as pretty a drive as we've seen. It started along the coast with a view of the Gulf of St. Lawrence to our left and mountains to our right, then went inland through the mountains, some with snow patches around. The mountains not high in relation to sea level, probably around 2,000 feet in elevation, and are all covered with green forest. However, when you're driving at sea level and looking up 2,000 feet, the cliffs look very tall. We passed several nice lakes, saw caution signs warning of moose (some folks reported seeing a live moose), but there were very few signs of civilization other than the highway and a power line. After some 130 miles we came to the city of Corner Brook, the second largest city on the island.
Corner Brook is a prosperous city at the end of a natural harbor and at the mouth of the Humber River where the mountains meet the sea. There is a distinctly different look to the town which is perched on the side of several converging mountains. There is a golf course, a ski resort, a modern shopping mall, a busy MacDonalds drive-in, and a beehive of activity on the streets. The difference was apparently that this town was not wholly dependent on fishing, but rather there was a pulp and paper mill and there was tourism at the heart of its economy. The beauty of the city lay in its proximity to the water and the mountains.
We camped about 18 miles east of Corner Brook near the little town of Pasadena. After a kitty treat dinner on the grounds we were all inducted into the Royal Order of Screechers and declared honorary Newfoundlanders. Our campground hosts explained the traditional ceremony, first demonstrating it on our leaders, Jim and Evelyn, who were directed to get into a boat and stand there.
First it was necessary to learn the precise pronunciation of Newfoundland. To remember it, our host compared the pronunciation to that of "understand." Up'-der-stand' Newf'- up-land'; Up'-der-stand' Newf'-up-land'. Then a Newfoundland word was learned: La', meaning look. La! La! (Look, Look!). Then came the kissing of the cod (a real, dead cod fish). Then a taste of hard bread and a drink of screech (NF Rum), a poured drop (or two, or three) of water on the back of the neck while kneeling, and a tap on the shoulder with a boat paddle.
That ritual was repeated 82 times, and we were all then declared Newfies and handed a certificate for proof. All of this happened while a cold wind came in off Deer Lake. I'd left my camera back at the trailer. What a shot it would have been to have captured the expressions of our ladies when they kissed the cod. It was unusual fun and another demonstration of the warm hospitality of these good people.
The fun was dampened though when we learned that one of the trailers on the first section of the caravan had turned over just a couple of miles up the road. It was Bob and Flo Ochinero. Fortunately, neither was hurt, but their trailer was totalled, and their Suburban severely damaged. Bob was in charge of the caravan training seminar at Amherst and an experienced caravan leader.
July 18, 1995
Mileage @ start - 51125
This day started as something of a mystery. We knew we had a guided tour scheduled with the guide using the CB in the lead vehicle of a car caravan, but we had no idea where we were going. The weather cleared nicely after a wake-up temperature in the high 30s and clouds.
Our guide took us back through Corner Brook, then west along the bay to an area called Blowmedown Mountain. Along the way the scenery was beautiful with the water, the surrounding mountains, and the huge rock islands protruding up in the bay. The bay is called the Bay of Islands. Our guide kept up nonstop commentary about the history of the area, the people, the paper mill, and the fishing problem. His colorful stories and his Newfoundland brogue kept us spellbound most of the day.
We stopped for an hour at Blowmedown Provincial Park where we walked to the beach and walked a trail which climbed about 750 feet up to an observation point on top of a rock cliff. This beach was a lot like the beaches we saw in Alaska, comprised entirely of fair sized rocks of a variety of colors. I picked up a few for souvenirs.
From the park we drove on to a fishing village in one of the prettiest protected coves ever. The water was perfectly clear. We watched a small fishing boat come in with his catch of two boxes of flounder and a few cod. The cod were caught in the gill net and considered a byproduct of the day's catch. They are allowed to keep only 10 percent of cod by weight when caught that way. There was no limit on the flounder.
Then it was back to Corner Brook for a sumptuous classy lunch at the Glynmill Inn. The inn has an interesting history. Built in the early 1920s as a place for visiting VIPs working to establish the paper mill, amenities were included that were very advanced for the period. Over the past seventy years the inn has been the place of choice for many social events. We were served in a lovely dining room where each table, with its white table cloths and colorful napkins, was set for six. We had previously entered our choice for a meal of codfish or chicken, and when it was served we were delighted. Very nice.
After lunch we retreated from the world of social elegance to the local Laundromat where the girls did the laundry and the men paid a visit to the Canadian Tire store. And with that the activities of the day were done.
July 19, 1995
Mileage @ start - 51125
This was a free day, one without any planned activities. We had been told of a place not far away where we might see salmon jumping up a waterfall to reach their spawning grounds, so we piled into the Suburban and headed to the river about 45 miles north of camp. Off the main highway, the road surface deteriorated with the last ten miles being washboard gravel. Our destination was Sir Richard Squires Provincial Park and a spot on the Upper Humber River where the water falls over rock that appeared to be 10 to 12 feet high.
At first we saw nothing, then one fish jumped about half way up. Over the next few minutes we saw maybe three dozen salmon attempt the leap. Some fish seemed only to come up enough to see what was ahead. We couldn't see what happened when the fish hit the water again, but I only saw one succeed in jumping all the way to the top of the falls in the air. Most of the fish appeared to be 15 to 20 inches long, but a few were much larger.
I worked my way down to a rock near the edge of the falls for a better vantage point and started taking video. It was entrancing to see the action and think about the power that makes the fish struggle past such obstacles. These were Atlantic salmon, and it seems incredible that they could find the way back to their birth pools after two or three years at sea, much less have the energy to fight their way upstream against seemingly insurmountable odds. Yet, many of the fish must make it to fight on upstream. There was no telling how many hurdles they had already overcome. The river at that point was about 100 yards across, and there was a tremendous amount of water flowing over the falls.
There was quite a bit of spray from the falls getting on the camera lens, but I think I got some decent pictures. I never know until we look at them later.
The remnants of Storm Charlene (I think that was the name) hit the island on Wednesday giving us a lot of wind and rain. Weather comes in in bands. It rains for a bit, then the sun comes out, then more rain. Clouds stand out sharply in beautiful patterns against the blue sky, much like Florida before the air got polluted. Even when the sky is overcast visibility is remarkable at ground level.
July 20, 1995
Mileage @ start - 51244
Gros Morne National Park is the crown jewel of Newfoundland's west coast. UNESCO designated the park a World Heritage site in 1987. The volcanic cliffs are evidence of a turbulent geologic past. The many fjords, lakes, and waterfalls scattered throughout the striking cliffs that rise up to 2,250' in height make the scenery dramatic. This was moving day as we headed through the park pulling the rigs. At first we could have been back home in the Smokies for the mountains looked the same but for a higher percentage of spruce and other conifers. Then the road came across a mountain pass and we were looking down on a beautiful inlet from the sea, a fjord the extended inland perhaps ten miles. We followed the northern shoreline of the fjord until we could see the open sea, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, then turned eastward to follow that shoreline to Flowers Cove, our destination. Not long after making the eastward turn the sea fog rolled in, making driving a bit scary. We caught glimpses of the rocky seashore but couldn't see much. The trees now were permanently bent from the continuous wind coming off the water. There were occasional fishing villages, but for the most part it was a lonely deserted road. At several places along the road, someone had staked out and planted small vegetable gardens in the right-of-way at the edge of the road miles from any house. Apparently, ownership of each garden was respected.
Flowers Cover is near where the ferry docks that took us to Labrador. On the night of our arrival at Flowers Cove we parked in a schoolyard and were treated to a fine supper at the local Lioness' Club. Walking into the building where the food was all laid out, it was, "La! La! La!" (Newfie talk for Look, Look, Look, at all the food!). What a meal! All kinds of fish, scallops, shrimp, chicken, ham, meat balls, veggies, salads, and desserts. The ladies had prepared all this at home and brought it down like a pot luck supper. And it was good! The warmth of the hospitality made up for the cold, damp, foggy weather.
July 21, 1995
Mileage @ start - 51450
It was an early rise this morning for those going on the ferry to Labrador. What a change in the weather from yesterday! The sun was out and fog was gone. The coast of Labrador was clearly visible across the straits. We had to be at the docks an hour before departure time so we loaded into the McGee's Suburban (Bergs, Frantzes, McGees) about 8:30am, thinking a half hour to get their and a 10:00am departure. When we arrived we discovered that the scheduled departure was 10:00 Quebec time which was 1 1/2 hours later, or 11:30am Newfie time. So Pat found us a table which was in the conference room of a local business, and we proceeded to play Manipulation for a couple of hours.
Our departure time finally arrived, and we boarded the ferry. This ferry had a unique feature that I had not seen before. We boarded through the stern, drove forward to the bow where a turnstile turned each car around, then we drove back toward the stern on the other side of the boat. That way when we docked we were headed out in the right direction.
About 10 minutes out we saw our first iceberg, a massive thing with its exposed surface at least as large as the ferry. Before the day was over however it was, "Ho-hum, another iceberg." The coast of Labrador was loaded with the white sculptures.
After an hour and a half the ferry pulled into its berth at Blanc Sablon, Quebec, and we drove off, bearing right at the Labrador sign. About five miles later we were in Labrador. This part of the southern coast of Labrador is desolate and lonely. There were very few trees, lots of rocks, rolling hills, and a few fishing villages. The paved road ended at Red Bay where Basque whalers processed whale blubber 400 years ago. Artifacts from that period are well preserved in a little museum.
There was one spot that we all considered a beautiful scene. That was where the road crossed the Pinware River. We stopped on the bridge to look both ways down the wide, whitewater river far below. Here there were trees along the banks of the river gorge. Other than that the scenery was unique and different than anything before seen, but it was not that attractive. Yet this is but a tiny part of the great land of Labrador. We were told that there are some beautiful places in Labrador, but this was the only paved road, and we drove its entire length.
The whaling activity at Red Bay lasted about 50 years in the late 1500s, and at that period of time Red Bay was the whaling capital of the world. There were more than twenty refineries around the bay, employing up to 2,000 people. The remains of several cooperage shops have also been recovered. The whale oil was shipped back to Europe in barrels made in Red Bay. Each summer ships sailed from the Basque provinces of France and Spain to hunt right and bowhead whales in the Straits of Belle Isle, between Labrador and Newfoundland. This was the first oil boom in North America. The whale oil which came from the processing plants provided the fuel that gave Europe light through the old whale oil lamps.
This was all discovered in 1977 when archaeologists found the artifacts of the industry which are now in the museum. With the find they were able to write a new chapter in the history of North America. One of the more interesting discoveries was an almost perfectly preserved whaling boat which was sunk in a storm in 1565. The vessel was raised to examine, but then resunk for continued preservation until methods could be developed to treat the old wood so that it won't rot when exposed to air. At some future time it is hoped that this vessel can be raised and put on view for the public. The whaling activity was phased out when the whale population diminished.
From a geographic perspective one might think that Labrador should be a separate province. Its land area exceeds most of the other Canadian provinces. Yet politically it is tied to Newfoundland, and the two make up one province. I think this grates on the people of Labrador a bit, but there just aren't enough of them to justify provincial status by themselves..
Almost all Labradorians have snowmobiles (skidoos) outside their home. In winter the straits freeze over to make an almost unlimited field of snow for skidoo travel. They test the ice with augurs to determine its thickness. It's usually January before the ice is thick enough to support the machines safely. I can't imagine a more desolate place in winter, but the local people talk about it as if it is nothing. They in fact look forward to the winter season when they don't have to work so hard.
We boarded the ferry for the return trip about 7:30pm, arriving back at camp about 9:00pm. Some of the folks said they spotted whales on the return trip. There was still plenty of daylight when we got home, but we were pretty tired.
July 22, 1995
Mileage @ start - 51450
This was the day we visited the point of land where the Vikings landed 1000 years ago. It is on a point of land on the northern coastline of Newfoundland's northern peninsula. L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site marks the spot which is believed to be where Leif Eiriksson founded a colony circa 1000AD, staying about a year. Others from Greenland followed. How the Vikings managed an Atlantic crossing in the tiny boats they used defies imagination. Evidence that this was the site of the Viking landing was discovered in 1960 by a Norwegian team of archaeologists.
The fog had rolled in again during the night, so our drive northward was a shrouded one. It began to lift a bit by the time we reached the Viking site. The story of how the site was found was an interesting one, told on a video showing at the Visitors Center of the park. The journals of Leif Eiriksson mentioned a place they had been that they called Vinland, but for centuries the location of that place remained a mystery. "Vinland" in the Norse language meant land of wild grapes. Since no grapes have ever grown in this area, it threw all the historians off track. But there are wild blueberries in the area, and when everything else that the researchers found pointed here, they decided that the Vikings were calling the blueberries grapes. The search along the coast produced nothing until in an interview with an old man they learned of some strange mounds. He took them to the site, and subsequent excavations proved that this was the landing site.
Many artifacts were recovered and are now on display at the museum. Sod buildings were built in exact detail to replicate the originals, and that is now there to see. The sod walls are six feet thick. It's a desolate place with no trees, at least none now. We went through the museum, then crossed 200 feet of boardwalk across the bog to go through the replica buildings. Traces of the old foundations are still visible as well. There were eight buildings there originally: three large halls, a small house, a small hut, two workshops and a hut where iron was made. The evidence indicates that 80 to 100 people lived on the site. It was a little difficult to comprehend that this was a European settlement on North America 500 years before Columbus' time.
The straits between Labrador and Newfoundland freeze over in winter, and the ice reaches downward six fathoms (36 feet). Polar bears from Labrador, chasing the seals that they feed on, cross over and roam this northern coast of Newfoundland. Later as the ice recedes they generally find their way back to the mainland. If a bear fails to find his way back before the ice melts, he is trapped in Newfoundland where he can't survive. In the City Hall building at St. Anthony is a stuffed bear that weighed over 700 pounds and stood 7 feet tall. In 1984 this bear didn't make it back to Labrador before the ice melted. One morning one of the citizens of St. Anthony looked up to see the polar bear peering at her through her kitchen window. She immediately reported it to the RCMP. The mounties located the bear with a helicopter and tried to chase it back to the water, hoping it would swim across the straits. They tried not to harm the animal, but the bear became so frightened it had a heart attack and died. Our leader Jim heard this story in the local barber shop and related it to his followers. We went by the municipal building after lunch to see the huge bear there in the doorway.
We had lunch at the Lightkeepers Cafe atop a high rocky cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean near St. Anthony on Newfoundland's northern coast. This was supposed to be an ideal spot to spot whales and watch icebergs come by. We saw neither, but it was a pretty spot nonetheless. The waves were crashing against the rocks far below us, leaving frothy green proof of the turbulent power of the ocean. After watching that spectacle for awhile, we visited the former home of Dr. Grenfell, a legend in these parts.
Dr. Grenfell was a doctor from England with an adventuresome spirit and a warm heart. He came to Newfoundland and Labrador in the early part of this century and set up medical facilities that had not been available before. His home and the story of his work was fascinating.
July 22, 1995
Mileage @ start - 51450
From the time we set foot on Newfoundland we had been told and warned of the moose that were everywhere. There were supposed to be one moose for every five human residents. There were several reports from other caravanners that they had seen the animals, but until this day we had not seen one, and we were wondering if it was all a hoax.
But on the way back from a drive to St.Anthony we saw a young bull on the side of the road. He didn't spook as we eased up beside him. His antlers were new stubs, about 10 inches long, and he struck a pose for the cameras. Nonchalantly he went back to eating the bushes as if we were not there. So there are moose in Newfoundland.
After the drivers meeting Bob Allen conducted a mini- seminar on door locks and the proper method of door closing. This was prompted by the situation the Higginbottoms found themselves in back in Flowers Cove, locked inside their trailer and unable to get help for a while. Bob demonstrated the locking mechanism and what can happen after the parts get worn after repeated slamming. He suggested a gentle closing using both hands that was easier and avoids the wear and tear.
BACK TO GROS MORNE
July 23, 1995
Mileage @ start - 51450
To begin this day, we moved camp back down the Viking Trail 158 miles to Rocky Harbor in Gros Morne National Park. The sea fog had moved in again during the night, and a cold wind was blowing. But ten miles down the road it all cleared up. Then we saw all the things we missed in the fog on the way up. The road followed the coastline, most of the way running right along water's edge. Waves crashing against the rocks made for a pretty scene for most of the way.
Then we were in the mountains again, and trees. And it was warmer - 75 F. Our parking place for the next four nights was at the Juniper Campground near Rocky Harbor..
After everyone was settled in and rested, Jim and Evelyn led us in a Sunday afternoon vesper service. They drew everyone's attention to the blessings we are enjoying: good health, the opportunity, the means, the time, the freedom, and the beautiful land we live in. Evelyn read something that made us all more mindful of the need to slow down and enjoy life. Gladys Taylor read a poem with the same meaning, and Dorothy Sampson led us in singing How Great Thou Art.
We had another "kitty treat" meal together at the Ocean View Restaurant in Rocky Harbor. It was another buffet with soup, salad, turkey, codfish, salmon, potatoes, rutabagas, carrots, and three kinds of desserts. There was food left over that the hosts begged us to take home. After the meal our options for a boat trip on Monday were explained. There was a 2 1/2 hour cruise down Western Brook Pond or a 2 hour cruise around Bonne Bay. The first required a 1.8 mile hike to get to the boat landing. We opted for the one with the hike.
After dinner most of us went down to the Park Visitor Center for a dramatic interpretation of the unusual marine life in and around Bonne Bay. It was done by a very talented young girl who played the part with charm and ability, giving us the feeling of actually being on the beach and diving in to study the creatures of the sea.
July 24, 1995
Mileage @ start - 51608
We awoke to a rainy day, not one suited to taking boat trips. Our dedicated leader was out at the crack of dawn seeing to changing the schedule so we could delay the cruises for a day. In the meantime I tried to read up on where we were going.
Western Brook Gorge was carved out by a receding glacier thousands of years ago. It was once a fjord, or a narrow arm of the sea, but it is now a fresh water lake, cut off from the sea by a 3 KM stretch of bog. It's across that bog on a boardwalk that we will hike to begin the cruise. The gorge is one of the outstanding features of Gros Morne National Park. Sounds like a geologist's dream.
Bonne Bay is the only real fjord in the park, i.e it is still connected to the sea As our ranger interpreter told us last night, there is a deep pool at the mouth of the fjord left by the receding glacier. This pool attracts all manner of Arctic undersea life. The town of Rocky Harbor is built up all around the bay. The high surrounding mountains make the bay and its many arms "the most beautiful and outstanding bay in Newfoundland."
The weather cleared a bit and some hardy caravanners took the morning boat trip around Bonne Bay. The boat was the Ise- da-Bye. Ise-da-bye is a Newfie boast word. A man with a boat may proudly throw out his chest and say, "Ise-da-bye," meaning "I'm the boy! Look at me! "
Almost immediately after clearing port we saw several whales. These were Menkie whales. They surfaced, blew out their blowholes, rolled, broke surface, splashed, and dived. It was a better display than what we saw in Gloucester on the whale watching cruise. The sky was still overcast, but the air was clear at Norris Point where we put in. Back toward Rocky Harbor the fog was like a solid wall hanging down to the water.
It's always spectacular when the mountains reach down to the sea. Here in Bonne Bay the coastline is solid mountains, at some points more rocky and precipitous than others. There were several fishing communities along the waterway, but very little activity. It must be the cod moratorium at work again.
On the far side of the fjord, three bald eagles perched high in the trees posed in their stately manner. One took off as we looked, showing his huge wing span. Their white heads are easy to pick out against the dark green of the conifers where they always choose the highest branch for their perch.
July 25, 1995
Mileage @ start - 51628
The scenery today was the most spectacular of the trip so far - the boat cruise through Western Brook Gorge on the "pond." In sharp contrast with the day before, there was not a cloud in the sky. We were thankful that our leader made the effort to postpone the boat trip. What we may remember most though is the 1.8 mile hike across the bog to get to the boat dock. Much of the trail was a boardwalk to protect the delicate ecology of the bog. Signs along the trail described the bog and the plant life that covers it.
About 12 feet thick, the bog consists of packed in stems of old plantlife that fails to decay in this climate. Each year the bog gets a slight bit thicker with that year's plants that die in the fall. It's estimated that it took several thousand years to build the bog to what it is today. Actually, a large percentage of the land area of Newfoundland is peat bog. The buildup began when the glaciers receded about eleven thousand years ago and the land mass rose from the sea. Numerous varieties of wildflowers were growing in the bog, especially wild iris or blue flag, as it's locally called. There were several small ponds in the bog, some created by beaver dams across small streams. The hike across the peat bog took 35 minutes. This was the same material we saw being used for fuel in Ireland.
Then we boarded two vessels that held 60 people. each. There were 45 of our caravanners along. The rest were others, including some backpackers headed for the high mountain trails. The mountain gorge was still a mile or two away across a windy lake. As we entered the gorge after crossing the lake, the clear, fresh water became glassy smooth. At its mouth the gorge was about a half mile wide with cliffs on either side rising in a "U" shaped manner perhaps 1000 feet. At the base of the cliffs was a thick forest of spruce trees that extended maybe a third of the way up the mountainsides. Then it was sheer, almost vertical rock. We couldn't see the top, but were told that it was flat up there with little growing. The clear sky above was a deep blue. Two hours of looking up brought some complaints of sore necks.
As we progressed up the gorge, the boat captain explained the different rock formations and how they were formed by the scouring action of the glacier. There were huge crevices in the rock, waterfalls at many places, evidence of avalanches where the trees were scraped away, some high wooded valleys called hanging valleys, and a variety of colors in the rock formations. The 16 Km long gorge (about 10 miles) became narrower in its upper reaches. The near vertical walls toward the end were over 2,000 feet high. It is uncertain where the water comes from. The waterfalls contribute only a fraction of the water that flows through the gorge. There must be an underground river that enters at some point, but it has never been found.
The cruise lasted a little over two hours, then we had to hike back out across the bog, another 1.8 miles. At that point we were tired but pleased with the magnificent scenery.
From Western Brook Pond we drove north to the Arches, a spot on the coast where huge rock formations extend into the water. It reminded us of the Oregon Coast. Wave action had carved several arches in the rock through which we could see the breaking waves beyond. It was a pebble beach at that point with rounded rocks maybe six inches across - very hard to walk on. There were green rocks, white rocks, pink rocks, white ones with green specks, and rocks with many layers of various colors. There was also quite an array of driftwood around. We filled a bucket with souvenirs and took a bunch of pictures.
Then it was south again to Broom Point where an old fisherman employed by the park service explained fishing methods and demonstrated net making. The most outstanding part of his story was a description of the ingenious Newfoundland cod trap. The "trap" was actually a 240 foot long net with floats at the top and weights at the bottom. The net is set in a square pattern, 60 feet on each side, with anchors set out at each of the four corners. The net was also 60 feet deep, forming a cube with the bottom of the cube also covered with mesh. There is an opening in the cube in the center of the side nearest land. At that point lines are rigged to pull the net on either side of the opening inward at an angle. Another net is then hung from the opening, extending in a straight line 240 feet toward shore and anchored in place.
Cod fish feed on small sardinelike fish called capelin. When schools of capelin swim by with cod chasing them, they pass easily through the net that stretches toward shore. The cod can't get through. Their natural tendency then is to swim along the net away from shore which puts them squarely in the trap. The angled "doorway" to the trap keeps the fish swimming inward and in the trap. If they were smart enough they could make a sharp turn at the opening and escape, but they aren't that clever.
Twice a day, the fishermen take three small boats out to the trap to harvest the fish. The first thing they do is close the opening. They then get the boats inside the trap and pull the net up until the fish are congregated near the surface at one corner. The fishermen then dip them out with long dip nets. They might catch as many as 10,000 pounds a day, but a good day would be 5,000 pounds. This was always a hard life, a tough way to earn a living. It's hard to imagine handling the nets in those small boats in rough water. Of course, none of this is going on now with the moratorium that's in place..
During lobster season which lasts about two months each year, the same fishermen set traps for this delicacy. This is still being done to supplement a subsidy the government pays for not fishing for cod. We also got a good demonstration on how the lobster traps worked and how the nets at the ends of the traps were woven.
Back in Rocky Harbor it was time for the evening demonstration at the Visitors Center. This night's program was about moose. It was again a dramatic presentation that gave us the history, the habits, the characteristics, and the environmental impact of the moose. Moose are not native to Newfoundland. Two pair were brought in in 1905. With no natural enemies on the island their number has increased to a population of over 100,000.
We learned about how the bulls grow increasingly larger racks of antlers each year: how much and what they eat; how they mate and reproduce; how they are becoming dangerous on the highways; how their two eyes function independently of each other; how they can dive as much as 20 feet under water to get certain food; and what to watch out for if one is spotted. It was an excellent program.
News of the special quality of these programs has gotten around. On each of the three nights we were there, the auditorium was overflowing, and it was not just Airstreamers.
We had made full use of a beautiful day.
July 26, 1995
Mileage @ start - 51628
With nothing scheduled today, we lazed around for awhile, then rode over to the Lobster Cove Head lighthouse. The lighthouse sits on a picturesque spot on a high rocky bluff overlooking the harbor. It's now a museum with pictures of the family who once operated the light and lived there. The McGees, Frantzes and Bergs made reservations for a home cooked meat at the Parsons home.
About noon some trailers from the Airstream company caravan started coming in. The whole caravan was due in the following day. This was the advance crew and a few who were going to Labrador. We were surprised to get a call on the CB from Ernie and Fran Durbin as they came in. We quickly arranged for them to join us for dinner at the home of the Parsons, an elderly couple who still earn their living serving meals in their home. Mrs. Parsons cooked salmon, halibut, and beef to order for us, and it was delicious. We enjoyed being with the Durbins for a little while..
There were actually three Airstream caravans in Newfoundland at this time. The two WBCCI groups and the company group. Naturally, it wasn't long before folks were comparing notes on what they'd seen and done.
July 27, 1995
Mileage @ start - 51650
Thursday was moving day again, this time to Lewisporte. They call Lewisporte the "Gateway to the North" because of its port facilities which serve as a shipping point to Labrador. It seems to be one city in Newfoundland not entirely dependent on fishing for its economy. Fishing is still a part of the economy, but the town was established because of its easy access to an abundant supply of timber. Shipbuilding developed as an industry as well as logging for other purposes. There is also some farming nearby. This was evident in the stores which were full of fresh produce. The town was named for Lewis Miller, an enterprising Scotsman who established sawmills in central Newfoundland and used Lewisporte as his shipping yard.
Looking across the harbor, there appears to be thousands of islands out as far as one can see. Again, there was a difference. Not all the boats in the harbor were fishing boats. Some were pleasure crafts. Exploring those island in good weather with a small boat would be great fun.
Our drive to Lewisporte was mostly in the rain, our third rainy day. Even so, the drive was through some very nice countryside. Mountains at first as we left Gros Morne, then hills and lakes and spruce forest. We saw another moose in the distance on the far side of a small lake.
We parked in the Lewisporte soccer field, not the most picturesque of places, but it served the purpose. All around us in the park were softball fields with an all weekend tournament in progress.
At 6:00pm we all went over to the Kinsmen Clubhouse for a "Kitty Treat" dinner After the two block walk from our campsite we had a satisfying meal of roast beef, potatoes, rutabagas, carrots, peas, rolls, and dessert. The Kinsmen and their wives are a service organization that raises funds to help needy families with medical problems, mainly multiple sclerosis and cystic fibrosis. That's where the profits from our dinner were going.
July 28, 1995
Mileage @ start - 51871
It was off to Gander this morning on a bright sunshiny day, and a change of pace. Arrangements had been made for us to get a taste of the air-sea rescue operations of the Canadian Air Force. Two huge helicopters are statoned at the airport in Gander with a rescue team of 87 well trained men who take emergency calls and respond to people in distress. Although it's a branch of the Air Force, the calls they respond to are from civilians, fishermen, and shipping traffic. Nationality is of no matter as long as the call comes from Canadian territory. Most of their calls are from downed planes or boats in trouble at sea.
SARTECs (Search and Rescue Technicians) are the guys who risk their lives in parachute jumps, dives using Scuba gear, mountain and glacier climbing in order to get to the victims. Each of the SARTECs are also paramedics, able to administer emergency treatment while getting the victims to a hospital. We heard some hair-raising tales about some of their exploits. They maintain and reparir their own equipment, pack their own chutes, and stay in a readiness state 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. The network which handles the distress calls is computerized and handled through a complex system that includes six satellites orbiting across Canadian territory. We had a grand tour of the facility including a walk through the helicopter. It was a fascinating tour. Next on the agenda was a visit to the Silent Witness Memorial at the site of an airplane crash which in 1985 took the lives of 256 servicemen on their way home to the U.S. for Christmas. The plane had come to Gander for refueling and crashed on take off not far from the end of the runway. The plane gouged out a big chunk of forest that has not yet grown back. It was a somber setting, yet was in a beautiful spot overlooking a large body of water.
After the visit to the memorial we were on our own. From the number of Suburbans in the parking area, it appeared that a great many had spotted the Wal-Mart in Gander and were enjoying a taste of more modern civilization again. Gander seemed to be a thriving town, built around the airport. The airport was there first, built just before World War II. During the war years it served as a staging and fueling point for American and Canadian p;anes and troops bound for Europe. When the war ended, the airport was given over to civilian use, and is today an important International Airport.
On the way back to Lewisporte Herb Frantz spotted our third moose. He had a rack that indicated a two year age. Since the ranger program about moose, we're all now experts on such things.
Back at the soccer field, friendly neighbors brought by cooked lobster for anyone who wanted them at $7 per pound, and we had a great meal. Those who didn't like or want lobsster were out of luck, but there was an aroma of steak being grilled here and there.
July 29, 1995
Mileage @ Start - 51875
We heard that there was a fish festival in progress in the little seacoast town of Twillingate, so most fodlks left camp early for the 50 mile drive up there. It was a beautiful drive along the waterways in extremely rocky terrain. Literally hundreds of islands abaound in the area.
The Trillingate festival was not much but the town was a quaint little fishing and sealing village in a picturesque setting on the rocky coast. The Long Point lighthouse was on a high bluff overlooking Notre Dame Bay. It was a clear day, and a few icebergs were visible in the distance.
For some reason there have been fewer ice bergs in Notre Dame Bay this summer. We were told that normally at this time of year fifty or more can be seen in the waters around Twillingate. However, driving back toward town we spotted a large one that appeared to be grounded close to shore. Its beautiful blue color provided a spectacular sight contrasting with the darker blue of the water.
The we came to St. Peters Anglican Church and one of the best museums we'd seen. The church was a wooden structure, built in 1845. Behind the church was the museum. Down from the museum was a cemetery in a beautiful spot overlooking the bay. IN conversation with a young man who was cutting grass there, I learned oaf the sealing operations. The bay freezes over in winter creating a skidoo playground.
When the ice begins to break up in the spring, seals come in by the millions to climb on the ice and have their pups. That's when the town hunters have a field day. Since it's known that a seal will eat up to forty pounds of cod fish a day, and these men depend on fishing (or did), they feel no remorse in killing the seals. They sell the skins and take the meat home to the freezer.
It was obvious that Twillingate had seen more prosperous times. Many businesses were closed, and some houses appeared abandoned. Those houses still occupied were clean, neat, and freshly painted, and every one had a million dollar view. We wondered if they take those fantastc views for granted.
The weather turned warm with temperatures in the low eighties. At several places along the road the local people were enjoying a Saturday afternoon swim in the bay. Judging from the icebergs still around, the water must have still been cold, maybe 40 degrees. I don't think any caravanners tried to check out that assumption though.
July 30, 1995
Mileage @ start - 51875
The caravan cooks, Sue and Bob Yuetter, and their worth crew, the McGees and Lamers, prepared a pancake and sausage breakfast for everybody on Sunday morning. Knowing that the breakfast was upcoming, the Yuetters were parked in the open with the other trailers circled around. The cooking and serving line was beneath the Yuetters' awning, making it convenient for all concerned. It was another opportunity to mingle and get acquainted. About the time everyone was fed it began to rain. The cooks had to scurry around to get the ffood inside, then eat themselves.
It wasn't long before the weather cleared, and the sun came out as brightly as before. There was a youth league baseball tournament going on right next to our soccer field. Several of us spent the afternoon watching that. Baseball had only come to this part of Canada just two years before, but the boys were surprisingly good. They had evidently watched their Blue Jays and Expos on television, picking up good style. These were 12 and 13 year olds. The tournament was for the champions of Lewisporte and each of six neighboring towns. Lewisporte won the tournament, but it was close. In the bottom of the last inning, the losing team had the bases loaded with nobody out and couldn't score.
We had another mini-seminar after the drivers' meeting, this time with Joyce Hunt (Lady "J") giving us some helpful tips about proper use of our CB radios. She explained how the CB was really two units in one, a transmitter and a receiver. The controls we have operate only on the receiver. Therefore, "Squelch" and "Volume" affect only incoming signals. Operating with too much squelchcan result in not hearing some transmissions. At rallies and on caravans that results in unintentional interruption of other conversations. Lady J has been the voice of Wally Byam Control at international rallies for the last 17 years.
July 31, 1995
Mileage @ start - 51880
Moving day again. We left the soccer field in Lewisporte about 9:30am for the 120 mile drive to Clarenville, moving ever closer to St. John's. It was an easy drive to the Random Mall where our ladies were excited to shop the stores. The stores in the mall had put together a "care" package of lunch meat, hardtack, partridgeberry and apple jam, key rings and a baseball cap. The malls love it when the caravans come in. We had a "kitty treat" dinner on our night of arrival at the Thirsty Bar & Grill. It was a buffet spread with all kinds of Newfoundland food. We had to roll out from eating so much.
THE HIBERNIA PROJECT
August 1, 1995
Mileage @ Start - 52000
On this day we toured the Hibernia Project, the 6 million dollar construction of an offshore oil drilling platform to be located off the Newfoundland coast, the first of its kind. The platform is being built at the upper reaches of 20 mile-long Bull Arm, an inlet from the Atlantic Ocean, about 30 miles southeast of Clarenville. When the platform is completed it will be moved to a site on the continental shelf 180 miles southeast of St. John's where a massive oil reservoir was discovered in 1979. Of the estimated two billion barrels of crude in the reservoir, this project is supposed to recover about 615 million barrels over a 20 year period.
When complete the platform will weigh over 600,000 tons and will be pulled by tugs ou to the site. It is floating in the little bay during construction. Two ferries are in constant motion shuttling to and from the platforml. The platform is surrounded by a 250 foot high ice wall that is 100 yards in diameter. This ice wall is designed to withstand the impact of a six million ton iceberg. Two tugs will be on constant alert to divert any icebergs larger than that. The wall is part of the floating structure and is virtually complete now. It is being made of concrete five feet thick in a continuous pour that adds about three feet in height each day. The forms for the fill are lifted bydraulically as the fills is being made. Newfoundoland granite is too dense to meet specifications for the aggregate, so granite from North Carolina is being mixed witht the Newfie rock. The rig will be about 300 feet tall when complete. The chains which hold the platform in place during construction are made up of links that weigh 770 pounds each.
Over 5,000 construction workers are presently on the job, with 3500 of them living in barracks on the site, their meals and lodging at no charge. The logistics of operating that temporary city are staggering. In addtition to utilities, they have a fire department, a post office, convenience store, hair salon, bank, fitness and recreation facilities, and a cafeteria that seats 1,000 people. Once the platform is on site and in production there will be 800 employees on the rig, working in shifts of about 260 at a time. Shuttling that many people back and forth from 180 miles at sea will be no easy task.
The platform, once in place, will provide the facilities to drill a planned 83 wells into the reservoir of oil. Production will average about 125,000 barrels a day. There will be storage tanks included with a capacity of 1.2 million barrels.
Construction of the platform began in 1992, and it will be completed in 1997, with the first oil production coming in by Christmas of 1997. All of this is being financed through a consortium of oil companies, including Mobil, Chevron, Petro- Canada, and others.
When we left the mall to go down to the project no one had any idea of the size and scope of what we were to see. The statistics for the project were so mind boggling, it was just about too much to absorb in our 1 1/2 hour tour.
On this Tuesday evening, we were treated to ice cream and cake,m compliments of the mall.
CAPE BONAVISTA AND TRINITY
August 2, 1995
Mileage @ start - 52133
Cape Bonavista was the destination for this day, about 50 miles north of Clarenville. This year puffin birds have chosen a rock near the Cape Bonavista lighthouse for nesting, and we got a good look at them. The wind was blowing about 45 mph, and it was hard to hold the camera still, but seeing the birds was a special treat. They normally nest on islands further away and can't be seen except by boat. There were hundreds of the little birds with their orange beaks and legs strutting around, some flying on and off the grass faced rock. The puffin is Newfoundland's official bird.
The Cape Bonavista light was also interestng. The great light has guided sealane traffic for more than 150 years. It has been automated since 1960, but the old lightkeeper's quarters, the light, and the clockwork mechanism used to operate the light are maintained and on display. We climbed up the narrow stairs to the level where the clockworks were wound and the lights fueled.
Bonavista (good view in Italian) was named by explorer John Cabot (Giovanni Cabotini) 500 years ago. A statue of Cabot commands a lonely hill near the lighthouse. Several caravanners reported catching glimpses of whales surfacing off shore.
A second stop in the little town of Trinity on the way home was to have been where we would witness a dramatic presentation of the Great Adventure, The Age of Discovery, a story of iron men in wooden ships, the story of The New Founde Lande. But it started raining as we entered Trinity, and that put a damper on the pageant. We did visit old St. Paul's Anglican Church (1734), and old Catholic Church, and a museum. The Catholic Church was built in 1833 and is the oldest church building still standing in Newfoundland.
Established in 1558, Trinity is the oldest, still active settlement in North America. It was fortified to defend itself against pirates in 1599, and some of those cannon are still there. The museum contains some 2,000 artifacts, including the oldest fire engine on the continent (1811). Some of the oldest records in Newfoundland are kept in the little museum. Entry to the attic library was only by special permission accompanied by an attendant. The books could be handled only with special gloves. I found reference to some Crofts who settled in Newfoundland in the town of Aquaforte. Later we passed through that little town and saw a sign "Croft General Store."
Trinity was located on another of those beautiful little coves carved by nature out of the rock. However, with worsening weather, we were forced to cut our visit short and return to Clarenville.
THE FISH PLANT IN MARYSTOWN
August 3, 1995
Mileage @ start - 52133
After doing laundry, washing the Suburban, refilling propane tanks, etc. we ventured south on the Burin Peninsula to the city of Marystown. After stopping at the Information Center and learning that the largest fish processing plant in Newfoundland was there, I realized that this was the place where we had sold two rotary freezing machines back in 1970. We asked the young lady if the plant conducted tours. She called and found that they did. So we drove over and spent the next hour and a half in the plant, Fisheries Processing International, Ltd. (FPI). What a production line!
We began by being fitted out with white hairnets, white helmets, white boots, and white lab coats. We then waded through a chlorine bath and dipped our hands in a chlorine basin. The man who led us through was the quality control manager. They had just finished unloading an ocean going trawler, loaded with ocean perch and were thawing frozen headless cod from Russia. These fish were pulled out of iced tanks onto conveyors that took them through filleting machines. Some 250 employees were cutting the fillets and packing them for the freezer. Some were being frozen in blocks for further processing later, others were being frozen individually on a solid stainless steel conveyor belt that ran through a blast freezer. The plant runs 24 hours a day with a total payroll of over 800 employees, processing some 200,000 pounds of fish each day.
This was one of the cleanest seafood plants I had ever seen. No one there was old enough to remember the two machines we sold them in 1970. They would have been dwarfed by the huge freezers in operaton now, so had, no doubt, been scrapped or resold long since.
Back at camp preparations were made to move the caravan to St. John's. We saw the trailers of the other section on TV with mention that our section would be coming to town shortly. At the drivers' meeting Ray Grebasch and his dog Minshi put on an obedience show with Minshi doing tricks on command and accompanying the singing of Amazing Grace.
ST. JOHN'S, NEWFOUNDLAND
August 4, 1995
Mileage @ start - 52380
The drive to St. John's was only 120 miles, but we were asked to plan our travel so that we would not arrive before 2:00pm. To use up time we made several stops, one for an hour of dominoes on a picnic table at a roadside rest area. Our parking spot was Sobey's Square Mall. We still had time to drive over to Cape Spear before our "kiutty treat" dinner at the Royal Canadian Legion Hall.
Cape Spear is the easternmost point of land in North America. The cape is a high bluff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean just south of the entrance to St. John's harbor. The air was clear allowing an unbroken view of the horizon. The water was a deep blue with small waves crashing against the rocky shoreline, and with a total lack of air pollution, the horizon appeared as a sharply defined line. On the cape is one of the few manned lighthouses left. Much ado is being made of phasing out the job in the near future. Whales could be seen from the lighthouse rolling in the water close to shore.
With stll a lot of sunlight left after supper, we drove into town to see several tall ships that had come in to help St. John's celebrate its annual festival. We also drove to Signal Hill for a dramatic view of the city. The harbor is approached from sea through a narrow pass between two high cliffs. It then widens out into a large basin and busy waterfront. Signal Hill was the site of the decisive last battle between England and France in North America in the Seven Year War in 1762. With a victory by the British, English possession of Newfoundland was resolutely confirmed. The name Signal Hill came to be because in times past lookouts were posted on thge hill to signal the townspeople that a vessel was approaching. Merchants along the wharfs could then prepare for the visitors, or if the incoming ships were hostile, fortifications could then be manned. The Lookouts signalled by flag, by cannon blast, and later by radio. Ruins of some of the fortifications can still be seen. Guglielmo Marconi received the first transatlantic wireless radio signall from the Hill on December 12, 1901.
St. John's is the capitol and largest city in Newfoundland, with some 150,000 population. We had become unaccustomed to city traffic, but were quickly reacquainted with it. Lots of folks were in town on Friday night.
WHALES, PUFFINS, AND CARIBOU
August 5, 1995
Mileage @ start - 52500
Today's caravan activity was a boat ride to Bird Island, a seabird sanctuary a short way off shore from the little town of Bulls Bay. As we waited for things to get going, a Newfoundland dog named Cabot wandered up and strolled through the crowd. He weighed 170 pounds and was an official greeter belonging to the boat operator. The weather was nice with just a little sea breeze.
As we left the sheltered harbor, we suddenly found ourselves in amongst six or seven humpback whales which put on a show. The highlight was a whale that lifted his tail at least twenty-five times, slapping the water with a loud clap and splash. (I've got him on the video twenty-five times.) The display was not quite as dramatic as what we saw in Seward, Alaska two years ago, but it came close. Only one of the whales breeched (jumped) one time, too wuick and unexpected to get a picture. On the other hand, in Alaska we never saw a tail slapping display like this one.
When the whales tired of entertaining us, they disappeared, and we continued on to the islands. Literally hundreds of thousands of birds were nesting in the rocks. The most numerous were two or three varieties of ea gulls, but puffin birds were plentiful as well. The puffins preferred the grassy slopes higher up the slope, while the gulls were perched on the rocks. Murres had carved out little "apartments" in the soil above the rocks. Kittiwakes were all around as well, and a few other species not identified. The puffins and Murres had the mnost character, the puffins with their large orange beaks and orange legs, the Murres like miniature penguins. Both were good underwater swimmers and would either attempt a take-off or disappear in a quick splash as the boat neared. Some with full bellies had trouble getting airborne. Our boat guide told us that the puffins leave their nest, go out hunting food, then return to the island and find their home again amidst those countless thousands of other birds. They mate for life with the same partner, similar to the Canadian geese.
We circled the islands, getting a good look at both the seaward and leeward sides of the rocky cliffs along the shore. With the wind in our faces on the leeward side, the smell and squawking sounds of those thousands of birds was powerful.
The waves crashing against the rocks was a sight too. As we made our way back to port, a few more whales were spotted. Somehow these were not as exciting. It was, "Ho-hum, another whale," and "Ho-hum, another puffin bird."
The captain was an entertainer as well, singing Newfie songs and telling tales of birds and whales.
After the boat ride we drove with the McGees and Frantzes down and around the Avalon Peninsula to see the caribou herd. Shortly after leaving Bulls Bay, sea fog rolled in making it impossible to see the ocean. At times the road climbed above the fog, and there the sun was still bright, then we'd dip back into the fog, and it would be eerie again. Soon the road turned inland and away from all that.
As we approached the area where the caribout were grazing, the animals at first were scattered. We spotted one here and there. As we got closer they were in groups of three or four, then there were hundreds. These caribou were different than those in Alaska. Apparently only the males have antler racks, and the males were decidedly outnumbered by the females. There were many little ones with their mamas. The colors were different too. These were gray and black on their backs with white undersides and white legs as opposed to the brown color of the Alaskan caribou. But soon it was "Ho-hum, another caribou," and we moved on.
We passed through numerous little fishing villages on the way back home. One unusual sight was a miniature village built next to a residence near St. Mary's. The folks had dammed a little stream next to their home and around the resulting pond had built numerous model houses, a variety of boats in the water, a seaplane, and other things typical of the little fishing villages. Then it was back on the Transcanada highway to St. John's, arriving home tired but happy after a great day.
August 6, 1995
Mileage @ start - 52500
We joined the Lachmillers and Hunts to attend the Bethesda Pentecostal Church this Sunday. Roger and Theola Lachmiller met a couple from St. John's on the ferry to Port aux Basques who looked them up when we got to town and invited them to dinner and to church - another example of this extraordinary Newfoundland hospitality. We were a little leery of the church but were curious. As it turned ou it was very nice. There were few hands raised, and the service was an hour and a half long, but that was okay.
After church all the caravanners gathered at the Bungalow in Bowring Park for high tea. We had plenty of little sandwiches to eat, but it was not like the high tea we'd had elsewhere, very informal. Afterwards we drove back to Signal Hill for the Tattoo.
The Signal Hill Tattoo was a tradition which began in 1967 in celebration of Canada's Centennial Year. It was an authentic display of British military precision marching. A drum and flute corps preceded the riflemen, then accompanied the exercises in an hour long exhibition. Their mascot was a Newfoundland dog and a puppy. The puppy stole the show.
The name Tattoo came from an eighteenth century practice of closing the saloon when it was tme to mnuster the tropps. When the sergeant major decided it was time to call the troops, he ordered the drums played. That was the signal for the bartender to close the tap on the beer keg. He would call out, " Tap to," meaning the tap was being closed. This became slurred over tme to Tattoo, and became the name for the call of the drums. In time it evolved to include the drums, the pipes, and the bugles.
Two buses had been commissioned to bring the folks from the Airstream company caravan to Signal Hill, so we had another chance to see the Durbins.
August 7, 1995
Mileage @ start - 52509
We had a day with nothing planned, so the order of the day was more laundry, car washing, getting the last edition of the newsletter out, exploring the mall, etc. Some caravanners took a bus tour of St. John's which they said was very good. The tour included a stop at Cape Spear to watch the tall ships leave the harbor under full sail. I copied some of Clint Taylor's video of the occasion.
August 8, 1995
Mileage @ start - 52509
Our last day in Newfoundland was spent on a visit to Cape St. Mary's and the Seabird Ecological Reserve, located on the southern tip of the western arm of the Avalon peninsula. It was an experience like no other. Cape St. Mary's is the nesting place of the noble gannet, ten thousand pairs of them.
The Bergs, Frantzes, and McGees left St. John's with their trailers early, backtracking on the TransCanada to Argentia and the ferry terminal. We parked the rigs at the terminal, Pat McGee unhitched, and we rode on down the 45 miles to the cape. For the first 25 miles the road followed the shoreline atop cliffs that were maybe 250 feet above the water. There were a few little villages tucked in the forest of evergreens. Then the road turned inland where we crossed a treeless wasteland, barren of everything save the grass that covered the peat bog. At the end of the road was a building, not yet completed, that served as the Interpretation Center for the Reserve. We watched some slides, and heard a ranger tell of the dangers of the trail to see the birds. The trail led out over the an open field, barren but for closecropped grass, and a few patches of yellow, white, and blue wildflowers. The trail was marked only by red stakes driven some twenty-five feet apart. Sea fog had rolled in so that only on occasion could we see the edge of the cliff and the water far below. There were no guard rails along the trail or at the brink. Sheep sign was everywhere, and soon we came to the flock, grazing randomly right out to the brink of the cliff. We reached the end of the trail after walking about a mile, and suddenly the fog cleared and there were the birds, some 50,000 of them. The trail ended at the brink of the cliff and a sheer dropoff of 300 feet to the water. There were still no guard rails, and there were plenty of rocks to stumble over..
To seaward, across forty feet of open space, was a huge hunk of rock rising from the sea almost to the level of where we were standing. The top of the rock was maybe an acre across. and every square inch was taken up by the gannets. Of the total seabird population there, 40 percent of them were gannets, nesting, feeding, soaring around in graceful flight, adding their voices to the cacophony of sound. Murres, kittywakes, and a variety of gulls made up the rest of the bird population. The smell was pretty ripe too.
Every year millions of these birds leave the open ocean and come ashore in the spring to breed. The breeding cycle coincides with the annual capelin run. The chicks hatch when food is most abundant. Cape St. Mary's is one of six gannetries remaining in North America, and is the second largest in size. The largest is on Bonadventure Island in Quebec.
The gannets are large majestic birds, with wingspans reaching six feet. Their bodies are white, their heads are yellowish, the tips of their wings are black. They mate and lay their eggs, the young birds hatch out in early July, and by September are mature enough to fly. Then all the birds leave, some to fly south as far as the Gulf of Mexico, most to spend the winter at sea on the Grand Banks.
The murres, though outnumbered and outsized by the gannets, are cute little creatures. They look like miniature penguins, all decked out in their tuxedos. They perch themselves on small ledges on the vertical face of the rock. They lay their eggs on the open ledge with no nesting material. The eggs are so shaped with a pointed end that they can only roll around in a circle and don't roll off the little ledge.
The spectacle of all these birds was almost too incredible to describe. It was a high point of the trip. I took a lot of video footage, but it won't begin to do the scene justice.
Back at the ferry docks, most of the caravan had arrived. We were required to drive through a disinfectant spray before lining up to board the ferry the next morning. This was a thirteen hour crossing.
BACK TO THE MAINLAND
August 9, 1995
Mileage @ start - 52600
It was with no small amount of regret that we left Newfoundland. It had been a great experience to visit the island and the people there. We spent the time on the ferry playing dominoes and cards, eating, reading, making occasional trips topside, and taking a few naps. We had staterooms and could retire to them at will. Those who wished got a tour of the bridge. The navigation system was impressive. With the aid of satellite triangulation, they can pinpoint their position anywhere in the world with accuracy to four feet. The vessel was steered by computer. The only time a person sits at the controls is when they get within a half mile of port. The crossing was smooth, and we landed at North Sydney, Nova Scotia pretty much on schedule fourteen hours after boarding.
After a quick run back to the North Sydney Mall, we parked for what remained of the night, then moved out again early the next morning.
August 10, 1995
Mileage @ start - 52605
It was a 300 mile day, moving from North Sydney, Nova Scotia to Shediac, New Brunswick, more than we usually do in a day. Most of the travel was backtracking over roads we had driven earlier in the trip. The heat was an unexpected impediment. It was 102 F, a temperature we were decidedly unused to. I don't think there was a night of the 27 we spent on Newfoundland that we didn't sleep under blankets, sometimes more than one.
Shediac is billed as the lobster capital of the world. It is located on the eastern coast of Nova Scotia on the Straits of Northumberland. From the beach you can see across the straits to Prince Edward Island. Most of the French speaking people of Shediac are descendants of the Acadians who managed to escape the Deportation of 1755 after the English gained control.
The first transatlantic airmail flight originated at Shediac as did the first commercial air passenger flights between North America and Europe. These were pontooned seaplanes.
Nowadays Shediac is a touristy place with its beaches and playgrounds. It is also a center for lobster fishing. As it happened the season opened on the day we arrived, to last two months.
We had a special treat at 8:00pm. The mayor and one of the local lobster fishermen came out to the trailers. While the comical fisherman told the lobster story, the mayor shelled several lobster to serve the group. It was a nice gesture from the men and the town.
August 11, 1995
Mileage @ start - 52930
At a park in downtown Shediac there is a sculpture of a lobster that weighs 40 tons. We went by there, then down to the docks to watch the first of the lobster boats come in. It was a hobby boat with a license for 75 traps. He had about 300 pounds. The full commercial licenses allow fishing with 250 traps.
We took advantage of the rest of the free day to get haircuts, service the Suburban, buy some groceries, and get caught up on sleep.
August 12, 1995
Mileage @ start - 52944
We said good-bye to the Grebasches today, as they left the caravan to return home. Also, the Simpsons and Huwens stayed behind to get some work done on their vehicles before rejoining the caravan later. Robbie Simpson, our eleven year old sheriff seemed disappointed to be staying behind. He's an outgoing kid and has found his way into everyone's heart - and pocketbook. He is authorized to impose a 25 cent fine on any caravanner he finds not wearing an ID badge and has collected over $20 so far.
Instructions for our move to Bathurst, NB were that we could not arrive before 2:30pm. We therefore dawdled along, stopping at a museum and taking time for lunch.
The museum was a former convent in Bouctouche, a coastal village in the French part of New Brunswick. The young girl who gave us a guided tour was knowledgeable about life in the convent and explained the various rigors the young girls underwent to attend school there. The ornate chapel was an impressive part of the 120 year old building.
After a nice lunch at the Bouctouche Bay Inn overlooking the harbor, we drove on up to Bathurst, arriving about 4:30pm. At 6:00 we were greeted by the deputy mayor and two ladies from city hall with suggestions for what we could do while in town. We were parked in the farmers' market parking lot right downtown.
Bathurst is a thriving city with a good mix of tourist attractions and heavy industry. The world's richest known deposits of lead and zinc are the objects of an extensive mining operation. There are also paper mills in the area. Located at the mouth of the Miramichi River on the western coastline of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Bathurst has all the activities associated with the sea - fishing, boating, enjoying the beach.
August 13, 1995
Mileage @ start - 53040
Two waterfalls were described in the visitor information brochure, so we set out to find them. The first were called the Tetagouche Falls and were disappointing. Tetagouche was a Micmac Indian word meaning "place where the squirrel jumps." That pretty well described the size of the falls. There was a nice picnic area there in the woods and some trails that led off in several directions. It was a good place for the townspeople to have an outing. I guess we've seen too many really spectacular waterfalls.
The Pabineau Falls in the Nepisiguit River were a little more impressive. At this point the river flows through a bed of huge rocks described as black granite. The rocks weren't really black, but were rather a dark reddish brown and showed much erosion. It was said that Atlantic salmon fight their way up these falls during the fall. That would be a sight to see. We saw a family of ducks floating down the river, apparently undisturbed by the falls and rapids. They just tumbled over and through to restart their leisurely float downstream.
Our city hosts had lined us up for a tour of the local mining operation as an afternoon activity. This was in the neighboring town of Petit-Rocher ("little rock"). The exhibition was in a large building where we were conducted through by a young girl. We saw many different kinds of rock with demonstrations regarding how to tell the difference between them, we saw videos of the actual mining operation; we descended into a mine in a simulation machine; there was another video showing the processing of the ore; and we picked up a little history of the area.
Dinner was at Careys By The Sea, a little restaurant seven miles down the coast from Bathurst. This was a caravan treat and a good one. We had T- bone steaks (salmon for those who preferred) that were delicious. The chef was an entertainer as well as the cook. When we arrived back at the campground, we found that the city had brought in a musician to play the guitar and sing with a little girl dancing. It was too cold and windy to stay out long though.
August 14, 1995
Mileage @ start - 53055
The Acadian Historical Village was made up of authentic buildings brought in from their original locations to form a village designed to look like a typical Acadian village of pre-deportation days, i.e. pre 1755. There were many people around dressed in period costumes doing the things they would have been doing back then. Some were carding and spinning wool; others were spinning flax; there were weavers, blacksmiths, carpenters, broommakers, farmers, bakers; and there were lots of farm animals: geese, chickens, pigs, sheep, cows, goats, ducks, oxen, and horses. We spent 2/3 of a day there.
August 15, 1995
Mileage @ start - 53275
We entered Quebec for the first time, crossing the border at Campbellton. A bridge over the upper arm of the Bay of Heat took us into Quebec. From there the roadway followed the coastline, at times almost down on the beach. Farms, cattle, sheep, and other things rural go right to the water. Little towns were plentiful with ornate churches, bright colored houses, broad lawns, and beautiful flowers. We reached our camping destination in mid-afternoon after resetting clocks and watches back an hour. The place was a schoolyard in the town of Cap d'Espoir. We were separated from the beach only by a roadway and a few houses. We could see the ocean and almost hear the waves breaking from the trailers. We were greeted by one of the ladies from Cap d'Espoir, Mrs. Eileen Sweeney. She was a big help because she spoke English and could tell us the things to do while there. When she said we could come to her house to use the phone, I jumped at the chance to do that and log in to CompuServe for our E-Mail.
L'ILE BONADVENTURE ET ROCHER PERCE'
August 16, 1995
Mileage @ start - 53275
Today we took a boat ride to Bonadventure Island from Perce', Quebec. The views were spectacular, but it was windy. And it was rough. By the time we'd made the 1 1/2 mile crossing most, especially me, were green at the gills. Some got off to make a 3 mile hike to a bird sanctuary. Bonadventure has the largest colony of gannets in North America. Since we'd seen gannets earlier on Newfoundland, we elected to return to the mainland and get the rough seas behind us.
You wouldn't believe what it took to get people boarded at dockside. The boat was rising and falling at the dock about six feet at a clip, too rough for a gangplank. The crew couldn't hold it against the dock. The gap widened to 3 or 4 feet, then the side of the boat crashed against the dock. Crew members stood on both sides of the gap between boat and pier and literally threw people on when the levels coincided. The captain all the while was at the controls trying to keep things as even as possible. It was scary, but all 80 of our people made it aboard without mishap. We'll not soon forget that experience.
Bonadventure Island was once linked to the mainland. It is composed of a conglomerate of red sedimentary rock. It was one of the first colonies of Canada, but in 1919 was declared a bird sanctuary. There are many wooded areas on top, and numerous houses on the island, though no one has lived there since 1975. There are nature trails all over the 1.6 mile upper surface. Had the prospect not been for an even rougher return trip later in the afternoon, we'd have taken advantage of the hiking opportunity.
There is another tremendous rock just off shore from the town of Perce' called Rocher Perce'. It is 1545 feet long and 288 feet high. From one angle it looks like pictures of Gibraltar, but I don't guess it's anywhere near that size. Anyway, at low tide an "isthmus" shows up and it's possible to walk out to it on dry land. So, when we got our landlegs back after the harrowing boat ride, we walked the 1/2 mile or so out to the rock. The views from there back toward land were outstanding. Gannets and other seabirds were circling and diving. Waves were breaking on one side of the "isthmus", and the water on the leeward side was smooth. We had to scramble back before the tide came in or face wading back in 3 or 4 feet of rough water. The rocks were slippery and uneven, making the walk a challenge, but it was a sight like no other.
Many of the people here spoke only broken English, and more than a few didn't even try. Signs are all in French as are menus, etc. We didn't have much information about the area ahead of time. Had no idea of the beauty we'd be seeing. Little French restaurants were all over town. We chose one that had menus in both languages so we could have some idea of what we were ordering. Roads were not too good.
August 17, 1995
Mileage @ start - 53340
The wind died and the water smoothed out almost flat. All traces of sea fog vanished and the sun came out in all its glory. What a difference a day makes! We started at the Interpretation Center where we heard the gannet story again. The gannet colony on Bonadventure Island has grown to 30,000 pairs. 30,000 pairs, each with a young bird, make at least 90,000 birds by the end of the season. When on the rock a pair takes over a small piece of real estate where they build a nest, hatch one egg, and tend the young one. One of the pair always stays with the egg or the young bird while the other flies away for food. How they find their spot again amidst the multitude is a mystery, but they do. It's thought that they mate for life. When the birds leave the island in the fall, they separate, each flying in a different direction to follow the fish, travelling as far as the Gulf of Mexico. The young bird must make it on his own then. Only about 40% of the young survive the first year.
In the spring the birds find their way back to the island, taking up the exact spot they left, Mom and Dad again finding each other to repeat the cycle. The young do not mate and stake out a home until they are about five .ears old. They stay on ledges slightly apart from the adult colony. As the young birds mature, they gradually obtain their adult coloring, pure white with yellowish heads and black wingtips. Their eyes are an intense aquamarine color. If they survive their first year, they will live on the average of twenty years, but can live as long as forty, continuing to produce one young bird per couple each year throughout their lifetimes. It was an incredible story of nature and instinct.
Mont Ste. Anne is the highest point in the mountains behind Perce'. We drove a gravel road to an observations point almost at the top. What a view on a clear day! We were looking down on L'Ile Bonadventure, Rocher Perce', the harbor, and Gulf of St. Lawrence. This is one of the most picturesque spots on the eastern seaboard of North America.
The sea was so flat on this day that we wanted to make the boat trip again to the island and walk the trails, but there wasn't time. That will have to wait until another visit. Those that braved the wind before reported a beautiful walk and view of the gannet colony. The trail ends at a fence which protects the birds. Just beyond the fence were the thousands of gannets. Hikers could almost reach over and touch them.
The little town of Perce' is a tourist town, full of little boutique shops which the women loved. There was a beehive of activity, but this will soon come to an end. The shops are all boarded up after the summer season to withstand the harsh winter. Picture post cards showed skidooing on the ice out to the rock when the harbor freezes over.
The Yuetters and crew produced a sumptuous hot dog, hamburger, baked beans, macaroni, and dessert cookout in the evening.
Eileen Sweeney was there to join us for the meal. Her husband was a fisherman caught in the bind of government restrictions. She showed pictures of Cap d'Espoir in winter covered with snow, and pictures of their church burning the year before. The sad thing was that there was no money to rebuild. Eileen had done all she could to make our stop at Cap d'Espoir a good one. She came again the next morning to say good-bye and au revoir to each trailer as we left camp.
STE.ANNE DES MONTS
August 18, 1995
Mileage @ start - 53340
The caravan moved to Ste.Anne des Monts via a counterclockwise route around the rim of the Gaspe' Peninsula. We were told at the drivers' meeting the evening before that we were in for an exciting ride. For the first few miles we could look back and see the far side of Rocher Perce'. Then came the exciting part. The road became like a camel's back, up and down, from sea level to 1000 feet elevation, again and again, with steep grades, many at 15 percent, the highest 19 percent. The views out over the Gulf of St. Lawrence were gorgeous, when there was time to look. We passed through several little villages, all dominated by a tall steepled church. The hills continued for about 75 miles. About 60 miles from our destination the steep hills stopped, and the road hugged the shoreline at the base of enormous cliffs, winding in and around little coves. The beach was solid rock, black with a few loose stones about. Seals were playing in the breakers. The wind was strong, and the surf was up.
August 19, 1995
Mileage @ start - 53600
Ste.Anne des Monts is a town on the northern coast of the Gaspe' Peninsula on the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Our camping site there was a regular campground with three point hookups, the first in a long while. Those without solar panels were excited about getting electric power again. We spent the evening of our arrival playing a game called Sequence at the Dahlmeyer's trailer with Jim and Betty. Clint and Gladys Taylor joined in.
The next day we used to catch up on stuff, getting a newsletter printed and mailed, writing letters, getting on line for Email, and taking it easy. Others wandered about. There was a wind generator just north of town that was reported to be the largest of its kind in the world, producing 4 megawatts of power when running, all computer controlled without human operators.
August 20, 1995
Mileage @ start - 53600
The caravan moved westward along the northern coast of the Gaspe' today to the city of Rimouski, the largest city we've been in since St. John's, Newfoundland. The drive was just the right length for comfort, 107 miles. Passing through agricultural areas, farms, cattle ranches, seeing the rolls of freshly mown hay, one could easily think they were in a farming area of rural Georgia That was on the left. To the right though was water, the broad expanse of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Only the road separated the farms from the shoreline. The entire northern shoreline of the Gaspe' that we've seen is solid rock, no sand beaches anywhere. The further west we went the narrower the St. Lawrence waterway became until it was called a river instead of a gulf.
We passed a number of quaint old lighthouses en route, and as we neared the city there were several campgrounds, motels and inns, suggesting a vacation area. The caravan parked at the fairgrounds in Rimouski.
The AAA tourbook shows the population of Rimouski to be 30,900. We saw the usual signs of a larger city as we drove into town - Kmart, McDonalds, etc. Everything was still very French.
Rimouski, though it sounds like a Polish or Russian name, actually comes from a Micmac Indian word meaning land of the moose. Nobody's seen a moose around here for years however. We learned a couple of interesting things about the town when welcomed by a young man from the tourist bureau. There was a fire here in 1950 that destroyed the town, leaving 1500 people homeless. The fire started across the river in a lumber mill. The fire trucks from the town crossed the river to fight the fire and the one bridge burned behind them. When wind carried the fire across the river to the town there was no firefighting equipment left there to fight it. The city was established by the French in the 1600s, and many of the buildings that burned dated back 300 years. The city has rebuilt though, and is now a modern city.
Another thing we learned was that the second worst maritime accident in the world happened just off shore here. In 1914 on a foggy night the Empress of Ireland, a passenger liner, was rammed in its midsecton by a Norwegian freighter with the result that over 1,000 people were killed. This made it second only to the sinking of the Titanic in terms of the number of lives lost in a maritime accident. That story is told in a museum of the sea near the town. The ship still rests on the bottom 81 years later. The museum is located at the second highest lighthouse in eastern Canada. We climbed to the top, some 110 steps on the spiral staircase. Then 20 feet more up a ladder to the light itself where we had a panoramic view of the area. The air was murky as a result of forest fires to the northwest. The light on a clear night can be seen 25 miles to sea. It's called the Point au Pére light. In the museum were many parts and pieces of the Empress of Ireland that have been raised by divers. Hearing and reading about the disaster, then seeing the lighthouse and foghorn, brought a heightened appreciation of modern radar systems.
After settling in at our camping site, we were entertained for an hour in a welcoming session by a magician-comedian at the city park. Afterward we went out to eat at one of the many French restaurants in town, one that served Italian food: spaghetti and pizza.
August 21, 1995
Mileage @ start - 53707
Our day started with an organ concert at the St. Germain Cathedral in Rimouski at 8:30am. The 4500 pipe organ was played by an expert, and the features of the church were explained in an hourlong program. The church was a refuge in 1950 for those who were fleeing the big fire.
We then drove out to Les Jardins de Metis, billed as the grandest gardens in eastern Canada. They were pretty but something of a disappointment. With such a billing, we were looking for something comparable to Buchart Gardens in the west, but there was no comparison. The 40 acre garden was on the estate of the founder of the Canadian Pacific Railroad, a project of his wife. The old family mansion was in the center of the estate. They wanted another fee to tour that, so on principal we declined. They had a restaurant in the house too, but it was so hot without airconditioning, we declined that too.
August 22, 1995
Mileage @ start - 53710
It clouded over and got chilly again during the night. Thermometer was reading 57 degrees when we awoke, and the wind was brisk. Looked like a good day to stay in and relax. We went to the mall for awhile then just loafed away the afternoon.
We had another excellent cookout in the evening with pasta and meatballs, then pie ala mode. After the meal folks filled the tables with things to show. Some brought hobbies: quilts, pictures, cross-stitching, painting, collections; others showed off things purchased or picked up for souvenirs during the caravan, for an interesting "show and tell."
August 23, 1995
Mileage @ start - 53720
The caravan moved today to St. Romuald, a little town that, even though across the river, could be called a suburb of Quebec City. This completed the loop around the Gaspe' Peninsula. We had deparking and caboose duty, and were therefore last getting in. The tall buildings of Quebec City were in full view across the St. Lawrence River from our schoolyard campsite. Cool weather still prevailed.
We stopped once en route at the town of St. Jean Port-Joli, an artists' colony, the artwork being woodcarving. This was billed as the center of woodcarving in Canada. The main street is lined with shops, each with the product of a different artist. In most, the carver's shop was in the back with his work on display and for sale up front. Some of the work was striking, but none comparable to the Warther Museum in Dover, Ohio. There was light relief, bold relief, carving in the round, large and small. Many of the relief carvings were replicas of Norman Rockwell prints. The most impressive was a full wall made of 2x4s glued together on their wide side forming a slab 8 feet high and 15 feet long, then relief carved in a many figured landscape.
This was the last day that Robbie Simpson was with us. As sheriff this eleven year old grandson of Don and Virginia Simpson, was authorized to collect a quarter fine anytime he found a caravanner outside his or her trailer without an ID badge on. The money he collected, some $25, was used for an ice cream treat on the last night of his stay with us. His grandparents took him to the airport the next morning to board a plane for Knoxville, Tennessee. He had already missed one week of school. He was a lovable little guy, and his efforts have kept us all properly identified so we could more easily learn each other's names.
August 24, 1995
Mileage @ start - 53900
Our last three stops were all to see big cities: Quebec City, Montreal, and Ottawa. I don't think anyone was really anxious to drive in any of the busy downtowns, so bus tours were arranged to take us in. Two buses arrived at our schoolyard campsite at 8:45am for the tour of Quebec City. It lasted eight hours.
We began by crossing the St. Lawrence River, skirting the city, and driving to the Ile d'Orleans, an island refuge with many summer homes of people who worked in the city. Much of the undeveloped land was farm oriented. The views of the waterway were outstanding. From there we crossed back to the mainland and stopped at Montmorency Falls. The falls are the spillover from a high level lake fed from the mountains, and are 90 feet higher than Niagara. A system of stairs led up to the brink and across, but we had no time to consider doing that.
STE. ANNE DE BEAUPRE'
From the falls the tour took us to the Basilica of Sainte Anne de Beaupre'. This catholic cathedral was magnificent and huge, with ornate and beautiful mosaic work on the walls and ceilings. Sainte Anne is said to be the mother of Mary and grandmother of Jesus, and is considered the patron saint of Quebec. A million and a half people come to the shrine each year from all over the world, praying for Ste. Anne to intercede for them with God to heal. Many miracles of healing have been claimed. Inside the sanctuary there were two columns upon which people have attached all sorts of articles: crutches, braces, notes, pictures, and other mementos in evidence of their healing.
The atmosphere at the shrine was certainly conducive to having a spiritual experience. Though there is no scriptural reference to the parents of Mary, Catholic tradition records them as Anne and Joachim. The first church on the site was built by two sailors in 1658. They came ashore in a small boat, the only survivors of a disastrous shipwreck. Building that first chapel was their way of saying thanks to God for the miracle of their survival. The first of many recorded healing testimonies was when a crippled man was healed during the building of the first chapel. The beautiful building there now is the fifth church on the site. The awesome structure took fifty-three years to build, from 1923 to 1976.
From the basilica we went to a little Italian restaurant in the heart of old Québec. It was a busy place with good food, the cost of which was included in the tour. Afterward we reboarded the bus and made several stops around the city.
Québec City, or Ville de Québec, was first settled in 1603 when Samuel de Champlain sailed up the St. Lawrence and began to build the first houses. The area was explored earlier by the French navigator and explorer, Jacques Cartier in 1535. Today it is a modern metropolis with "French provincial charm." The streets are frequented by horsedrawn barouches and flanked by little restaurants with crowds of tourists. Four and a half million tourists visited in 1994. It is the only walled city in North America north of Mexico. The old part of the city is on top of a high cliff which afforded protection during the days when France and England were contesting North America.
Despite the natural protection, the British took the city in 1759. After weeks of bombarding the city, they chose a moonless night, and quietly moved troops in small boats up the St. Lawrence River past the city, landed and managed a surprise attack from the rear. The thirty boats were 10 feet wide and 30 feet long, each carrying 50 men per trip and 20 oarsmen. Some of those boats had to make three or more trips in the darkness to get the British army in position. The battlefield, called the plains of Abraham, is now a park. I'd read about the siege and battle of Quebec, but being here and observing the conditions made it come real.
Possession of the city was contested twice more. It was attacked by Americans during the American Revolution and again during the War of 1812. The city was successfully defended each time. Anticipating another attack that never came, the British built the present wall and citadel. Quebec remained under British control until Canada was formed in 1867.
The old part of the city, still behind the wall, has many old buildings and narrow steep streets. We drove back over after dark to see the lights. With cheap electric power no effort is made to be frugal with lighting, and it was quite evident.
August 25, 1995
Mileage @ start - 53900
Everybody said goodbye to Art and Robbie Higginbottom as they left us to travel alone back to the States. Art hadn't been feeling well, and their son was going to meet them to help drive them home.
We were back in Quebec City by 9:00am to watch the changing of the guard at the citadel. The ritual of this daily event is quite impressive. There were several hundred visitors watching as the Queen's goat paraded with the red and black uniformed guard and band. The pomp and ceremony was remindful of the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace in London, except there were fewer soldiers involved and all commands were shouted out in French.
The citadel is on the highest point of the cliff with a commanding view of the river and the city. After the ceremonies we took a guided tour of the citadel and museums on the grounds, then made the long walk back into the old city to the Chateau de Frontenac.
Le Chateau Frontenac is an old and prestigious hotel in Old Quebec. It was built in the nineteenth century in the medieval style with numerous castle-like turrets around the roofline. It faces the Ile d' Orleans with an extraordinary view over the town and river. This was a meeting place of Roosevelt, Churchill and other allied leaders during the second world war. It was here we had a noontime caravan meal. The elegance of our surroundings was notable, but the meal left a bit to be desired. I guess we were expecting something like the meal we had at the Banff Springs Hotel in Banff, Alberta, and it didn't come close.
After lunch each of us went our own way to explore the city on foot. Wonder upon wonder! We found a newsstand with a USA Today newspaper, the first in over a month. News from the States was welcome though it appeared that not too much had changed. The OJ trial was still going; The Braves had a commanding lead in their division; the hurricane season was active. By mid-afternoon, we had walked and shopped ourselves out, so returned to the trailers. We left Quebec City with a good impression. It is a beautiful and unique city with lots of interesting history.
August 26, 1995
Mileage @ start - 53930
This was moving day, from St. Romuald to St. Lazare, a suburb of Montreal. It was an uneventful and boring 200 miles through flat country on an interstatelike highway. The caravan parked in an airport near one of the taxiways. St. Lazare is about 35 miles west of Montreal.
August 27, 1995
Mileage @ start - 54145
Two tour buses pulled into our airfield campsite about 8:30am to load us up and take us on a tour of Montreal. The four hour tour was especially informative with a good guide. We learned a lot about the city.
Montreal is an island city, bordered on the south and east by the St. Lawrence River, on the north by the Fleux des Prairies (Prairie River), and on the west by Lac des Deux-Montagnes (Lake of Two Mountains). There are 26 bridges that provide access. Two million people live on the island, 1.6 million within the city itself. Our first stop was at the shrine of St. Joseph, an impressive Catholic cathedral at the top of Mount Royal in the center of the island. Montreal gets its name from Mount Royal, i.e. Mont Royal, i.e. Mont Real, i.e. Montreal. The tour took us through some nice residential neighborhoods on the waterfront, then to the Expo's stadium.
The stadium was one of the facilities built for the 1976 Olympic Games, an impressive architectural achievement that cost a billion dollars to build nineteen years ago. A 300 foot tall modernistic tower leans over the stadium. Cables extend downward from the tower to various points on the fabric which forms the roof. When they want to remove the roof, the cables are reeled up lifting the roof like a giant parachute that collapses against the tower. Our guide said that it worked well except on windy days. The wind though had to be less than 30 mph. It has not been lifted for the last three years because of decay in the fabric. With an enormous interest payment still due each year on the remaining debt, they can't afford to buy a new fabric cover.
From the stadium we stopped at an open air market where fresh vegetables, fresh bread, and other good things were being sold. Then it was downtown with its many skyscrapers. More impressive though was what was beneath the surface. Our tour guide took us into the underground city, where fifteen miles of shops, theaters, art galleries, grocery stores, and an array of other things, including an extensive subway system, are quite bewildering. What a place to get lost in! Residents who live in the city can survive all winter without stepping outside in the cold.
After driving along the waterfront, it was time to return to camp. The port of Montreal, despite being 1,000 miles inland, is still claimed to be the third largest port on the Atlantic coast of North America. By the end of the tour we had gotten only a glimpse of the city, but it was enough to say we'd been there, and it was a learning experience. Some of our folks planned to go back in the next day on the subway.
We found a little French restaurant in St. Lazare for dinner, making our wants known by sign language and a few newly learned words. Actually, the waitress was very patient and knew enough English to be a big help. It turned out to be one of the better meals of the trip, skewered beef on a bed of rice with vegetables, mushrooms, onions, salad, and rolls.
August 28, 1995
Mileage @ start - 54155
We chose to take it easy for a day, passing on the opportunity to go back into Montreal. There was a shopping mall not too far from camp that Ann wanted to visit. Then we played dominoes with the McGees all afternoon.
August 29, 1995
Mileage @ start - 54195
Our move to Ottawa was the easiest day of the caravan, 107 miles. We parked in a beautiful government campground in a maple forest west of the city. We had a shaded spot with picnic table, fire pit, and lots of room - electric and water too. In the afternoon we had a visit by Marguerite and Dave Waldron, friends who live in Ottawa. They brought fresh tomatoes from their garden. We met the Waldrons on the Maple Leaf caravan in '91, and last saw them in Wells, Maine at the start of this trip.
We also saw Al and Gracie Buchanan for a brief time. They stayed over a day after the first section of the caravan was finished. Al set up this trip and led the first section. They're leading a caravan to Alaska next year.
There was a campfire gathering at the Taylor's trailer as the sun went down. With roasted marshmallows and impromptu singing, everyone had a good time.
Ottawa is the capitol of Canada, a city of 300,000 people on the Ottawa River. The name came from an Algonquin tribe of Indians called the Ottawa. We drove into town in the afternoon with the McGees to get a feel for the place. It is a clean, modern city.
August 30, 1995
Mileage @ start - 54302
Buses came by early to take us on a tour of Ottawa. An interesting feature of the transportation system is the busway. Instead of a subway, they have a busway, a road dedicated only for the use of the city buses. So, despite heavy traffic on the freeway, the bus was able to get into Ottawa in quick time. We rode first up to Parliament Hill to see the brownstone turreted government buildings. We drove by many of the foreign embassies. The U.S. embassy is directly across the street from Parliament House.
The highlight of the tour was an unscheduled stop at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Academy where the riders and horses of the Musical Ride assemble and train. The academy is more than that. They are a respected police academy, but the Musical Ride is an important public relations effort, reflecting the heritage of the RCMP. The riders and horses had just returned a half hour earlier from an engagement in Saskatchewan. They are on the road most of every summer. When we saw the Ride last year in Brandon, Manitoba, they said that it would be discontinued due to budget cutting, but apparently they've found some funding to continue. We saw riders in the arena practicing and heard the story of how the horses are bred, selected, and trained, and how the riders are selected and trained. After a careful breeding and selection program, it takes 5 1/2 to 6 years to get a horse up to speed. Then it may stay on the Ride for fifteen years or more. The riders are chosen from the men and women of the police force who can qualify after they've been on the force at least three years. Out of a 1,000 applicants, only 14 are chosen each year. It is a four year regimen, one year to train, and three years to serve, then off. Having seen the Ride made the tour of the stables and arena at the academy much more meaningful. First impression was that all the horses were identical, but watching the animals in their stalls and as they were being led around, it was obvious that each could be distinguished and each had a different personality.
The tour bus brought us back through the city along the banks of the Rideau Canal, making several stops at strategic viewpoints. In these waning days of August we could see changes in the leaf color, a hint of the coming fall. Today the Rideau canal is used only by pleasure boats making the passage to Lake Ontario. In winter it becomes the longest skating rink in the world. The Rideau canal was dug after the War of 1812 to give the British unfettered access to the Great Lakes without having to go up the St. Lawrence River under the eyes of the Americans to the south. It was never necessary to use the 126 Km long canal, with its 45 locks, for military purposes, but it became a well used trade route, and soon the town of Ottawa was born at its upper reaches. Ottawa was chosen by Queen Victoria to be the capitol city of Canada in 1858. Compared with Quebec, Montreal and other major cities of Canada, Ottawa is a relatively new city.
The Humphreys called an evening meeting and gave everyone a refund of over $300 from the caravan kitty. That made the caravan cost about $1600 which included all campsites, about 20 meals, several ice cream treats, the ferry crossing to and from Newfoundland, several boat rides, bus tours, and other attractions. Not bad for 56 days of fun and adventure. Cost can't be placed on the new friendships formed.
Afterward the Taylors invited everyone over to their trailer again for singing and marshmallows around the campfire. Clint had some recorded singalong music, and I played a little harmonica.
August 31, 1995
Mileage @ start - 54315
The brilliant sunshine of the last few days turned to rain on this last day of August. Buried in the woods as we were, it was really dark at 7:00am. The skies remained overcast all day, but that didn't stop us from getting a tour of the Parliament buildings.
We were surprised to learn that these buildings were relatively new. They were designed to look old with the blackened brownstone, but were actually completed only 70 years ago. Compared to the three and four hundred year old buildings in England they were designed to look like, that's new. Most of the original Parliament building burned in 1916, leaving only the library. The library was saved because its iron doors were shut. It is now the only part of the building paneled in wood. The rest is somber stone. The style is called Gothic Revival. The tower in the center of the Parliament House is called the Peace Tower, but it was shrouded in scaffolding to repair cracks in the stone.
Parliament is divided into two houses, the House of Commons and the Senate. Even had the House been in session we would have been allowed in because it is always open to the common people. Members of the House are representatives of the population. Members of the Senate are representatives of a geographic area. Neither body was in session while we were there so we had free access to both chambers. Our guide told us all about the procedures for enacting new law.
We also toured the East Block, the building where members of Parliament have their offices. We entered four offices that had been restored to the exact state they were in at confederation, 1867, the time when Canada became an independent nation. Despite that independence Canada is still considered a constitutional monarchy, and the Queen of England is still considered the ceremonial head of state in Canada.
After these tours we walked downtown to the Eaton Mall and wandered around watching the crowd of people. We also visited the Basilica of Notre Dame, another of those extremely ornate Catholic cathedrals. The wood carvings in the sanctuary were amazing. This building is one of the oldest in Ottawa, having been built between 1844 and 1885. The stained glass windows were also impressive.
One feature of Ottawa and the surrounding countryside worthy of mention are the jet black squirrels that are everywhere. There were a few grays around too, but the majority were black. Our campground was full of them, and we saw them in all the city parks.
We squeezed eight people into our trailer for a game of Crazy Uno in the evening - the McGees, Frantzes, Lamers, and Bergs.
September 1, 1995
Mileage @ start - 54315
Yesterday's rain made today's sunshine seem that much brighter. We drove down to Gananoque and took a boat tour through the Canadian islands in the 1,000 Islands area of the St. Lawrence River. What a playground spot! Houses have been built on the smallest of rocks thrust upward from the surface of the water. Apparently this far inland there is no tidal movement, and the fresh water level stays about the same all the time. There are an estimated 1800 islands of all sizes, most of which are privately owned. Some have been handed down in the same families for three generations. Having a small boat in this dream world would be fun.
The crown of the island mansions is the Boldt Castle. This mansion was begun at the turn of the century as a monument to Mr. Boldt's wife, but she died four years into construction. He stopped right there, and there it still sits. Not having time to make the tour to the American side, we didn't get to see that this time, but from all descriptions it must be something to behold.
Our final banquet was held at the Best Western Motel near Ottawa in the Ottawa Room. A buffet of roast beef, potatoes and many cold dishes was awaiting us. Jane Geiger put together a pretty good show using caravanners as the talent(?). I played the part of a Newfie fisherman, out of work, enlisted to sit in a boat at the gate of Cheeseman Park in the rain at Port-aux-Basques to wave at the Airstreamers coming in. We had fun. Afterward Jim and Evelyn Humphrey were honored with a plaque, a signed card, and $390 in thanks for what they did for us as leaders of the trip.
September 2, 1995
Mileage @ start - 54550
After tough final good-byes we were on our own. One hundred miles later we were at the border. At a duty-free store we turned in all the receipts accumulated during our stay in Canada and received a GST (goods and services tax) refund of $102. Then after changing our cash back to U.S. currency (the exchange rate was up to $1.38), we crossed the St. Lawrence River into the U.S.A. The view of the 1,000 Islands region from the top of the bridge was beautiful. We were in upper New York state heading south. Herb and Phyllis Frantz stayed with us through lunch at Pulaski where we ate a huge hamburger while watching fishermen in the Salmon River. There was a tournament going on. The official weighing station was across the street from the restaurant. We saw one fish carried in that must have topped forty pounds. Then we said good-bye to Herb and Phyllis, and we were really on our own.
The campground book showed a campground on the shore of Lake Ontario in Pulaski. It was billed as the largest campground in the northeast, 1400 sites, so we decided to try it, thinking that with that many places we'd find an opening even on this Labor Day weekend. We did, but it was the last campsite in the park. The perils and trauma of being on the road again on a busy weekend on our own!
From Pulaski we drove to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and then on to Virginia to see family. So this concludes this series of travelogs.
As we told all our caravan friends, "See you down the road..."
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