Texas ~ Across In Bits & Pieces


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Taking US190 towards Jasper Texas, on our way to San Augustine and Mission Dolores Campground for the night, we actually crossed the Sabine River from Louisiana into Texas!  For the last several years we have had to take a very southern (and sometimes very convoluted) route because the Sabine River regularly floods and shuts down all kinds of crossings including Interstate 10!


Texas boat ramp on the Sabine River

We had our usual chuckle about how to know when we’ve entered Texas…the speed limit on that little 2 lane road we’ve been tootling along on at 45 or 50 jumps to 75 miles per hour 🙂 . Yeah really.


Spring wildflowers blanketed the sides of the roads and out across green fields of cattle reminding us once again how pretty east Texas can be this time of year.


Roadside Texas Bluebonnets

We stayed with State Rt. 21 the whole way to our destination of Bastrop (we’ve posted about Bastrop before) and recommend this route to any of you coming to Texas for say, Austin.  There’s not to much traffic, some cute towns, Nacogdoches in particular and especially in the spring it’s pretty countryside.  It will also allow you an opportunity to stop at the Caddo Mounds State Historic Site which to our great surprise was open on Easter Sunday!  The small museum doesn’t have a lot of artifacts, and what it does have are replicas, but there are good representational murals and structures.


Replica of a Caddo Indian Lodge.  The structure is amazingly sturdy and the mound in the distance is the burial mound.  There is also a ceremonial mound and a borrow mound scattered across 15 acres of open ground.  The site was abandoned around 1300AD.


We have been to Bastrop quite a few times but never stayed at the South Shore Lake Bastrop Campground until this trip.  Very busy on weekends and during the summer, arriving late on Easter Sunday, we found it almost empty, While level is an issue, we do recommend it for inexpensive, private, quiet sites and good shade.


In camp at South Shore Lake Bastrop

We also recommend the Bastrop Discount Tires store where we got 6 new Michelins put on the rig.


We had a few days to kill before visiting with our daughter-in-law in Leander and back to Bastrop for a visit with our “adopted” kids there, so we headed for Fredericksburg west of Austin on US290.  We have been here several times before so wanted to do something different.  Staying at Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park Campground just outside of town and RIGHT next to the airport which was quiet at night, we recommend only the Horseshoe Loop which was much less cramped than most of the campground.   We went to the National Museum of the Pacific War over the course of two days.  Admiral Chester Nimitz was born in Fredericksburg and there are several things to see pertaining to him and/or his family.  The huge and excellent George H.W. Bush Gallery is the only part we did and it involves a tremendous amount of reading.  Folks who have gone to museums with us know that Ed reads almost all and I do read all of the descriptions, so we don’t move along fast 🙂 . We do recommend you hold out part of two days (can’t take it all at once) and put this on your MVL (Must Visit List).  We also suggest you put the Buffalo Nickel Bar & Grill on your list for lunch, one of the best burgers ever and the buffalo chili is pretty darn good too!

In previous trips, I had always noticed signs for Enchanted Rock when passing through this area so I said let’s go see what it is.  Just 18 miles north of Fredericksburg, Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is worth the trip! The largest pink granite monadnock in the United States the climb to the top while steep is not difficult.  (A monadnock is an isolated large rock or small mountain hard enough to resist the erosion that has weathered away the softer surrounding rock. For you folks back home, our Sugarloaf Mountain is a monadnock)


Beginning of the hike up Enchanted Rock. The Summit trail climbs 425ft. in .6 miles to an elevation of 1825ft.



The Texas Hill Country all around down below.



I had noted on our map Longhorn Cavern State Park, so on our way to Leander, we took 281 passed Marble Falls to Park Rd which has some serious and unexpected (but fun) DIPS so if you’re in a big RV or travel trailer especially, watch out!  Way back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth and Ed and I didn’t know each other, we both did some caving and so we like to take a look when the opportunity presents itself.  Longhorn is not worth a special trip but if you’re in the area do stop in.


Extensive work by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp) in the 1930’s opened a great deal of this cavern to the pubiic.  They wheelbarrowed out tons of mud and rock.



This section is in Dolomite rock and worn by an ancient river. 

After our visits with family we set out for a couple of days at San Angelo State Park to do chores (taxes) and so we could visit the San Angelo Museum of Fine Art.  Turns out they were closed for an installation!  I told the young man we had come specially to see them… from Maryland no less!  He took pity, asked his boss, and he kindly let us in to see their small permanent ceramics room.  Proof, be nice to people and more often than not, they’ll be nice back 🙂





Looking back at the Fine Art Museum across the Celebration Bridge over the Concho River in San Angelo.



One of our favorite pieces, a ceramic teapot by Anthony Bennett.



A number of years back we stopped at Balmorhea State Park for the night and it was so windy and cold we did not go for a swim.  This time Ed had checked the weather and said let’s go, and I am so glad we did!


The CCC built the pools around the natural spring between 1936 and 1941.  The spring has a constant flow of 22 to 28 million US gallons per day at a temperature of 72-76 degrees and is as deep as 30 feet in places.  There are small native Pupfish which are endangered and the rascals nibble on your skin but it doesn’t hurt.



Another arm of the pool and Marti swimming.



After our dip, we headed for Fort Davis via 17 which is at the end, a very pretty drive.  We have been to Fort Davis before and I especially like the area.  It’s desert, but also because of the elevation has enough grassland to successfully ranch and pretty mountains to hike.


Early morning in the Davis Mountains outside Fort Davis.

There’s also an “upscale” and more importantly the only full bar restaurant in town called Blue Mountain Bistro where we had a very good, three-course meal prepared by a Vermont based visiting chef!  Yum. The next day we headed for the McDonald Observatory where every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday they offer their very popular “Star Party” with talks, telescope viewing and constellation tours. I had seen that they were completely booked for that, but we could still do their daytime tour and solar viewing.  It was VERY windy, 70 mph gusts, and consequently, they did not open the roof of their solar telescope. However, a very engaging and intelligent young woman gave an informative talk/powerpoint about the sun with live images from telescopes based around the world.  She then led the tour to their 3 big telescopes.


McDonald Observatory Visitor Center. Note the haze which is dust from the valley to the west stirred up by the 50-70mph winds.  No astronomers were going to open the big domes this night but we did get to look at the Whirlpool Galaxy from the 22-inch telescope in the near dome during Star Party when the winds had subsided.


This is the Hobby-Eberly 10-meter telescope dome on top of Mt. Locke at the McDonald Observatory.


AND the really fun bit… 3 reservations canceled, so we got to stay for the Star Party!  Lots of FUN with some very bright folks…..and the night sky…..WOW!!!


We are currently in New Mexico and will soon be inviting you to join us underground in a truly magical place!



The interior of the Visitors Center at Caddo Mounds State Historic Site.



Heading up Enchanted Rock.



The vernal pools on top of Enchanted Rock are teeming with tiny Fairy Shrimp and algae.  You have to look closely but once you see them they are squiggling everywhere.



It’s a big rock.



Tradescantia and grasses etc grow in the moisture caught in the cracks.



Some unknown Spring flower but Marti is too tired to look it up right now…



Pure crystals of Calcite growing on the walls of Longhorn Cavern.  The cavern got its name because local cattle would wander by and fall into holes into the cave and their bones were found once the cave was discovered and explored.



More fun ceramics. The lady is about three feet tall.



Along Rt 17 heading down to Fort Davis these Aoudad or Barbary sheep are imported from Morocco and North Africa nd doing very well where the Bighorn Sheep have failed.



The 107-inch telescope.  Nobody peers through an eyepiece anymore.  All the viewing is done on computer screens collecting light for spectrographic analysis. Galileo would be very jealous.




Blue Origin’s Space launch facility north of Van Horn Texas. We think the assembly building and launchpad are under the red arrow on the left but Jeff Bezos was not giving tours that day.



And lastly, bye-bye from Texas!












On The Road Again Southern Style ~ Georgia, Alabama & Lousiana


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Hi guys, remember us?!!

With the exception of a quick run to Texas in December, and a quick run to Sarasota the beginning of March, Ed and I were “home” in Dickerson, Maryland all of Fall, Winter into mid-March!  Once again we are grateful to our dear friend Carolyn Mackintosh  (and Bob 🙂  ) for our stay at Loch Moy Farm, home of the Maryland Horse Trials and our 2 month house/dog sitting gig for friends Chet & Paula and doggie Sammy.  It is always wonderful to be back with our many friends and family but we are soooooo happy to finally be back on the road again.

With the cold weather still a factor we headed directly south with our first planned tourist stop being Andersonville, GA., where we stayed at the Andersonville RV Park, which is “adequate”.


The tiny town of Andersonville, Georgia is home to a very small, very good Drummer Boy Civil War Museum in the back of the tourist visitor center/RV Park check-in. When we were there it was staffed by half Cherokee, half Cajun Cynthia Stormchaser who was a font of information and delightful to chat with.

You Civil War buffs will recall that the Andersonville POW camp was/is the most infamous of all the camps both South and North.  Neither side was prepared, nor expected, to have to hold the thousands of enemy prisoners resulting from a war which lasted far longer than predicted.  The overcrowding, bad sanitation, lack of medicine and inadequate food & clothing led to disease, starvation and exposure and took thousands of lives.  The POW death rate records suggest 15% of Union and 12% of Confederate POWs did not survive the camps.


The two posts shown here are two of many that mark the perimeter of the camp.  The post labeled Stockade is the actual wall location of the 15 ft. high stockade and the post 19 ft. further back was the “Deadline”.  A simple post and rail fence this boundary marked a line past which if any part of a prisoner’s body crossed for any reason he would be shot.



 Nineteen year old prisoner Dorence Atwater worked in the hospital where he recorded names and grave locations of the deceased.  He secretly copied this list and smuggled it out when released. After the war, he asked the War Department to publish the list. They refused. He and Clara Barton returned to Andersonville and with his list, they were able to mark the graves of many of the dead.



Andersonville Camp is now the location of the National Prisoner of War Museum which is in desperate need of better display lighting but otherwise interesting.




Continuing on with our look at Southern history we headed down Rt. 49 to State Route 280 and Plains, Georgia, home of perhaps our kindest President, James Earl Carter Jr., where we saw Jimmy this and Jimmy that, but not Jimmy himself 🙂 .  Oh well, the peanut butter soft serve was yummy!


Jimmy Carter’s Presidential Campaign Headquarters in Plains, Georgia. Marti voted for him. Me, well…


As usual for us, we traveled the secondary roads which were very busy with logging trucks (thankfully going the opposite direction).  We are accustomed to seeing them in places like most of non-coastal Maine and the Pacific Northwest but it was an impressive reminder of how much southern yellow pine is cut in this part of the country.

I purposely routed us towards Montgomery, AL in time for a late lunch at Dreamland BarBQ where we once again enjoyed delicious ribs before settling in for the night at lovely, quiet Gunter Hill COE campground where with our American Senior Pass $9 was our fee!

Next up on our history tour was Selma.  After parking, our first stop was the National Park Service’s Selma Interpretive Center at the corner of Broad Street and Water Avenue just before the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River.   On the first floor, there is an excellent photographic timeline illustrating the fight to win the most basic of civil rights denied African Americans at the time. The story leading up to and through Bloody Sunday, March 7th, 1965 and culminating with the March 21st start of the 54-mile walk from Selma to Montgomery, 4,000 marchers demanding voting rights for all African Americans, headed over the bridge named for a Confederate General and Grand Dragon of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan.  When the road, Jefferson Davis Highway narrowed to two lanes they were restricted to 300 people but by the time the marchers arrived at the Alabama State Capital in Montgomery on March 25th, they were 25,000 strong.


Looking back towards Selma from the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

On the third floor of this center, there is a short film largely narrated by participants in the historic march.  There are also a few comments offered by folks with a different view on the events leading up to and during the Selma to Montgomery March.  We strongly encourage all of you to put at least a visit here and a viewing of this film on you MVL (Must Visit List).


On the second floor of the Selma Interpretive Center, this display invites you to take a stand with the marchers.


After a brief visit to NOLA (New Orleans) to see our friend Michael Verderosa (if you’re interested in real estate here Michael is your man!) and to enjoy a libation or two (Sidecars and Woodford Reserve at the Carousel Bar in Hotel Monteleone YUM!!!!)


A very civilized afternoon.

AND to participate in New Orleans’ March For Our Lives protest,


Fulfilling what we believe is our civic duty. This is what Democracy looks like!

we drove down 308 south to Grand Isle, a finger of land into the Gulf of Mexico where we stayed at the very end in Grand Isle State Park.  Although the drive across the Gateway to the Gulf Expressway, a 19-mile elevated toll road from Golden Meadow to the Gulf of Mexico almost all over water is impressive, we do not recommend this visit unless you like fishing. The water here is rough, brown (stirred up sand) and not interesting to us, but we do understand the fishing out in the Gulf here is some of the best there is.


Our next campground was at Poche Plantation & RV Park along “the River Road” Rt. 44, known for the many Mississippi River Plantations located here.  NOTE fellow RV’ers…..Poche Plantation is basically just a $40 place to park for the night….to our thinking there’s no charm and the house, unfortunately, is NOT open for viewing.


Clearly, it would be a charming house to look at if it was open…

That being said, it is just 12.6 miles from Houmas House Plantation and Gardens.    Ed & I have been to many of the plantations in this general area on both sides of the Mississippi.   We think without question Houmas House is the most impressive in large part due to the gorgeous gardens and the civility of having access to the excellent Turtle Bar where for a reasonable price Ed enjoyed a healthy glass of Eagle Rare Bourbon as we meandered around the grounds.


Houmas House.  This pond is fairly new.  It was created after one of the centuries old magnificant Live Oaks toppled over one night last year and left a crater.

Named after the Houma Indians the main house was completed in 1840.  A working sugar plantation as early as 1803, the 10,000 acres were purchased in 1857 for $1,000,000 ($26.5 million in today’s money) by Irishman John Burnside who increased his holdings to 12,000 acres.  Consisting of several additional surrounding plantations all worked by approximately 750 slaves, the property had four sugar mills and rail lines to haul the cane product over Burnside’s vast holdings!  While we think the story at Laura Plantation is by far the best, and the live oaks of Oak Alley are truly magnificent do put Houmas House on your MVL.  Oh, and while the service at the Café Burnside (one of several restaurants on the grounds) is lousy, the food was pretty good.


Once a free-standing staircase, the back wall was added by a former owner to make a smaller room.



The centuries old Burnside Oak frames the plantation house at Houmas. Marti says that personally, the best thing about the South is the lovely huge Live Oaks.



Working our way west, we are currently in Texas having just finished a visit with our daughter-in-law in Leander and our “adopted” kids in Bastrop. We hope to do better at keeping you all up to date on our travels with lots of Ed’s wonderful photographs and my wandering comments and observations.  Hope you’ll want to follow along and forgive us if we lag behind our physical location 🙂

Until next time…..stay safe, happy and remember….Life’s An Adventure!!


At the Drummer Boy Museum, Mary Surratt’s bonnet which was removed from her head moments before she was hung for her role in Lincoln’s assassination conspiracy.


The dark lines at the base of these hills are the very small creeks which flowed through the camp and were the only and inadequate source of fresh water for the prisoners. Unfortunately, upstream was where the guard’s and officer’s latrine was located.


The prisoners prayed for fresh water from anywhere and a bolt of lightning struck the ground and a spring welled up.  This monument marks the approximate spot of their prayers being answered so they named it Providence Spring.


Billy Carter’s Service Station Museum in Plains, Georgia.  Ed could not find any Billy Beer though.


In New Orleans, in the French Quarter on Royal Street, we discovered and toured the Gallier House.  This wonderful home stands as it was built and decorated and is really lovely.



For our son Kevin’s Birthday present?



Fort Jackson is a masonry fort built as a coastal defense for New Orleans between 1822 and 1832. 40 miles upstream from the mouth of the Mississippi it was ruined by hurricanes Katrina and Rita and its condition is threatened.  There was a battle here in the Civil War as Admiral Farragut sailed up the river to take the city.



On Grand Isle, most houses are on stilts and some trailers are really fastened down.





Street poets offer a poem if you give them a subject.  Marti asked this one if she could give him the first line instead.  He said, “What is it?” to which she replied, “She slipped on her flip-flops, pulled on her hat and headed for the door.”

He thought for a moment, smiled and then started typing…

she slipped on her flip-flops, pulled on her hat,
and headed for the door,
unneeding of socks or laces like that,
interested instead in what was in store.
she spilled from the threshold and greeted the light
winced with some boldness in a way that just might
be met by the sun as a challenge to spar,
now there on the front step, the door still ajar,
she raised her eyes up as if to say to that god,
i have never feared you, so let the sweat drip.”
the sun, in response, that fiery pod
said, “alright. well, game’s on.” and left pools in her pits.

jacknorcross,neworleans,la, march,25,2018


Newfoundland, Part Seven~ St. John’s, The Big City


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Waking to a sunny day, we continued north on 10 except for side trip one, to Bauline East.  A small, pretty harbour in a tiny town we got our first look at what happens to cod after folks cut out the fillets and tongue.


Bauline East Harbour



After the fillets and tongues are taken, there is a lot of waste which goes right into the water to eventually be consumed by various bottom creatures.


Side trip two was to Bay Bulls where Pennecon Limited clearly must be the biggest employer in town.


Bay Bulls and the Pennecon Limited yard.


We wanted to go to the easternmost point in North America so we took Petty Harbour Road off 10 to wander the long way around to Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site.  The second lighthouse built in Newfoundland, it began operation in 1836.  Similar to the Cape Bonavista lighthouse, the light tower centered in the surrounding square wooden keepers house was built first with the house constructed around it.  The light apparatus was seven oil burners (Cape Bonavista light had six) set in silvered reflectors with the whole apparatus being turned by weights that needed frequent rewinding.  Fun fact: the copper-domed lantern room and the lighting apparatus, which had already been used for twenty-eight years in the Inchkeith Lighthouse on the Firth of Forth in Scotland, was designed and provided by Stevenson and Sons,  Stevenson being the grandfather of author Robert Louis Stevenson!


The original Cape Spear Lighthouse. There is no access to the tower itself unfortunately. 



We thought the way they stored the glass globes for the light’s oil lamps was interesting.



After enjoying the views at Cape Spear we headed the last 18 miles up to St. John’s and the Pippy Park Campground & Trailer Park.  With no reservations, there were no hook-up sites available but there was a small, mostly empty overflow spot where we could boondock.  St. John’s is the provincial capital city and Newfoundland’s largest city so we knew this was going to be a switch from the quiet we’d been enjoying for so long.

Opened in 2005, The Rooms houses the Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Provincial Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador.


The Rooms.  Everywhere we have been in Newfoundland and Labrador we always saw references to The Rooms holding artifacts from whatever Interpretation Center we were visiting.  We had to go.

We figured it was a good place to start our exploration of St. John’s, so we rang for a taxi, driving and parking an RV in the city not being high on our list.  🙂  Jumping into the cab, the driver who is just as friendly as everyone in the province, says, “So ya here for the regatta tomorrow?” “Ahhhh, what regatta?” say we.   “Ya donna know ‘bout the regatta?  The Royal St. John’s Regatta?  It’s huge, the whole island comes, 40,000 maybe 50,000 people!”  WELL…..surprise!!!  No wonder the RV park was full!  BUT….we went on to The Rooms.


On the very top floor of the exhibit, these canoes and kayaks were laid out on the rafters.


Having done pretty much all of The Rooms and had a lovely light lunch in the museum, we headed down towards the harbor in a zig-zag fashion looking for the famous Jelly Bean Row houses.  Pretty quickly it becomes apparent that these wonderful colorful houses (which by the by we have noted in previous blog posts are all over The Rock) are not just one row, but street after street of multi-hued homes, many accented with potted bouquets of magnificent flowers.


Jelly Bean Row Houses are a common and fun feature of St. John’s.



Flowerboxes add even more color.



The next morning, Wednesday, August 2nd dawns a bit raw and grey, but we’ve decided that after we run a couple of errands we’re going to join with all of (or at least a whole lot of) Newfoundlanders and go to the 199th Royal St. John’s Regatta,  It’s the oldest annual sporting event in North America.  Guess what….it’s a local holiday and pretty much nothing is open not even the grocery stores because, well, everyone is down by Quidi Vidi (kiddy viddy) Lake!  So we call for a taxi and he takes us as close as he can.  WHAT FUN!!


Bang! at the shot of the starter’s gun, the rowers are off for a half mile leg before turning around and finishing here at the start line.  The most strategic part is executing the turn properly.



Winners!  Racers of all ages from young kids to grey hairs, everyone used the same boats.



Having enjoyed ourselves with “all the rowing” and the famous French fries at Ziggy Peelgoods (four lines and nearly half hour wait) we hiked via Kings Bridge Road into downtown. Down at the harbour, we had an “okay” steak dinner at The Keg Steakhouse & Bar overlooking the ships tied up just outside across the way.  Afterwards, we wandered around a bit, heading back up the hill.  Note: St. John’s was built on a steep hillside so from the harbour most everything else is up, so good exercise! 🙂 As we got up to just below George Street all access was blocked, there were “event people” and “event security” everywhere and music could be heard.  As we walked up around the perimeter I asked what was going on and they said “Blue Rodeo is playing tonight”   “OK, who are they?”  “One of the top bands in Canada for the last 20 years!”  When we got to where they were taking/selling tickets I reminded Ed Life’s an Adventure and we handed over our cash, went in and had a BLAST!  Blue Rodeo is GOOD!


Blue Rodeo!  It was a late night but what a blast.  The aroma of weed lingered in Marti’s sweater for a week. No, she didn’t, it was just in the air.


Next day was an oil change and check up at the St John’s Mercedes dealer and errands.  In the late afternoon our friend, Suzanne Anthony a fellow full-timing, blogging RV’er also living in a View similar to our rig, joined us in camp.  We had been sharing notes and suggestions all around Canada so it was great fun to finally meet.

The following morning the three of us drove over to Quidi Vidi Village in our RV.  A neighborhood of St. John’s once known as a fishing village, Quidi Vidi Village is now a major tourist attraction because of the Quidi Vidi Brewery. They are famous for their Iceberg beer which I have mentioned before as well as seven other beers.  Unfortunately, there are no tastings without a tour, and all the tours were booked.  Oh well, Ed had tried a number of them already 🙂


The green building is the brewery.



The Quidi Vidi harbour is almost a lake with a tiny narrows, visible on the right, as the entrance to the ocean.



Next on the list of St. John’s attractions was Signal Hill, the site of Marconi’s first transatlantic wireless communication and Cabot Tower.  Overlooking the harbour and the Atlantic Ocean this high hill has been an important defensive position since 1640 and even held anti-aircraft and anti U-Boat defense guns of the United States during World War II.


Cabot Tower on Signal Hill.



The view of St. John’s and the harbour from the top of Cabot Tower. You can see what a perfect defensive position this hilltop is.



We dropped Suzanne at The Rooms where she would spend the afternoon and with plans to meet later in town for drinks and dinner, we went back to camp to do laundry.  With another taxi ride into town, we walked around a bit and then had a good meal at Oliver’s, which we recommend.

We had actually been a little uncertain about going to THE BIG CITY after all the quiet villages and no crowds we’d been experiencing.  As it worked out, even with the regatta, country/rock concert and all, it did not feel overcrowded and we had a lot of fun!  Plus, there is the bonus of meeting a fellow RV traveler and absolutely now having a new friend!  It’s an adventure!



Leaving Bauline Harbour we saw this really cute yard ornament.



In Bay Bulls, this drilling rig is at the head of the harbour, coming or going we couldn’t tell.



Like it says on the side of the ship, it’s a heavy lift crane…



…to lift heavy stuff like all this anchor chain.  Look at the size of the links and the anchors compared to the trucks in the yard.



The new light at Cape Spear which came on in 1955.  It’s a pretty place with lots of boardwalk and paths around the cape and cliffs.



A view from the cliffs at Cape Spear. Marti thinks the white foam looks like a bridal train.



The lightkeeper’s office which is restored to the period of 1839.  Note the flags used for sending messages and weather status.   In Canada, the job of lightkeeper is often passed down from father to son and so, the Cantwell family were the keepers of the Cape Spear light for over 150 years with only two short intermissions.



There are two heavy gun emplacements on Cape Spear to help defend the nearby convoy routes to Europe during WWII.  The 10″ M1888 guns were Lend-Lease batteries on disappearing carriages.  The emplacements are currently under restoration.



The current light, 45 feet tall with a visible range of 20 nautical miles, went into service in 1955 and is automatic.



The interior space at The Rooms is as beautiful as it is functional. History, culture, art and the archives of Newfoundland and Labrador are all housed here in one building.



As we waited for a table in the cafe at The Rooms, we had a lovely view from the balcony of downtown St. John’s and the harbour with Cabot Tower and Signal Hill in the distance.



What kind of chowder? Fish Chowder of course…  delicious too.



Mailbox detail from some of the jelly bean houses.



Newfoundlanders use color everywhere to brighten up their homes and lives.



At The Keg Steakhouse & Bar, they store the wine in these immense walls of temperature controlled movable racks.  



Quidi Vidi Lake on the right and St. John’s Harbour on the left from Signal Hill.



Yours Truly at the Blue Rodeo concert on George Street with thousands of our new best friends and their weed… 🙂



















Cape St. Mary’s & Ferryland, Newfoundland ~ Part Six


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Hello faithful readers!  We apologize for the long delay in posting and readily admit to actually being back in Maryland for some time now.  Life, as we’re sure you know, can just sort of get in the way and all of a sudden time has flown by.  We have been talking about our wonderful summer in Newfoundland so constantly that it’s a wonder our friends and family here at home haven’t abandoned us!  Having both agreed it would be unfair to not share with you the rest of our adventure in the hopes that you too will visit this amazing island, we shall pick up where we left off 🙂

As we continued our exploration of Newfoundland, now in our sixth week, we headed south on the TCH (Trans Canada Highway) for the Avalon Peninsula where we went around counter-clockwise south on 100 on the first “finger” known as the Cape Shore.

Avelon Peninsula

Avalon Peninsula – southeast Newfoundland

As usual, the road was full of potholes and DIPS, and I capitalize that to emphasize the seriousness of these struts, shocks, and axle wrecking road hazards.  Ed’s favorite bumper sticker was, “I’m not driving drunk. I’m avoiding potholes!”  Happily, however, when not closely watching this obstacle course of a road, Ed managed to also see the big hilled, lovely countryside stretching out around us.  At St. Bride’s the road turns east and becomes even more horrific.  Pretty soon, however, we get to the very narrow but smooth road out to Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve and our destination for the day. The site of some of Newfoundland’s largest seabird colonies, we were very lucky to have a pretty day as we headed out the easy 1 km grassy path to the best viewing point.


On the way out to the viewing point, the presence of over 60,000 birds becomes apparent.

Approximately 24,000 northern gannets, 20,000 black-legged kittiwakes, and 20,000 common murres, among other birds, come here each year to nest on the cliff edges and the 100 meter tall sea stack known as Bird Rock.  Before we even leave the interpretive center we catch whiffs of bird poo on the air and it’s not too far down the walk before we start to hear them, but it’s not until we get much closer that the smell and noise become really impressive, but WOW what a sight!


Nesting Northern Gannetts occupy the sea stack, Black-legged Kittiwakes, and Common Murres nest in the remaining cliffside niches behind Marti and behind where I am standing.



Northern Gannetts all perform this greeting dance whenever one partner returns to the nest.



Common Murres, one here holds a capelin in his/her beak.



A Black-legged Kittiwake contemplates its next move…

Having spent a couple of hours just sitting and watching the birds (and humpback whales) we slowly walked back towards the interpretation center enjoying the views and chatting with a couple of folks along the way.  Back at the parking lot, we settled in to boondock for the night. Over our cocktails, we watched the advancing pea-soup thick fog obscure the Lighthouse when the foghorn began sounding – all night, every 30 seconds.  The fog eventually became so thick the foghorn was hard to hear but it was a peaceful comforting sound all the same.


Just at sunset, the distant fogbank approaches for the night and next day.



…and here it is.


Before we departed Cape St. Mary’s we took one last hike out in the fog to view the birds again.



‘ Twas still foggy.

Next morning still in the fog we left Cape St. Mary’s, to continue on our journey. At the village of Branch, the road (now 92) turns north and the Sun came out…well at least for a while. 🙂  As is true in most of Newfoundland the road either hugs or is within a few miles of the coast and the view out the inland window is of wide open barrens punctuated with incredibly dense thickets of mostly fir, spruce, and ash.


This is the barren peat bog part dense with fern, berry plants and low scrubby growth.

At the top of this first loop we cross over to the Irish Loop heading south toward the town of St. Vincent’s where we’ve been told the whale watching is world famous.  A steep dropoff at the shoreline here creates a deep water area where the feeding humpbacks can be seen within 300 feet of the long stone beach.


Two humpbacks are blowing here right offshore.



The beach was littered with capelin which had washed up.  These small fish are what the whales, seals, and cod feed on.  They stay out to sea all year except when they breed in the warmer waters near shore. The whales follow them in which is when we get to see them feasting on the schools.

We continued on to Trepassey where for some reason I expected a larger town.  Sort of looking for a place to stop for the night we headed out a road with a sign that pointed to an “interpretive site” thinking that might be a spot where we could stay.  The road quickly turned to gravel, but we kept going and on a big curve I spotted a lighthouse ahead and figured ah ha, we can stay there.  Eventually, we rattled and banged our way to the end of the road where we did indeed find the Powles Head Lighthouse and outside the fence a small, mostly level, gravel parking space. The old lightkeepers home was just up the hill and someone clearly lived there, so we walked up to the screened door and knocked and knocked and called “Hello”.  After a bit, an older gentleman came to the door.  We pointed to our RV and asked if it was alright if we stayed the night.  He allowed as he didn’t know what the authorities would say but he certainly didn’t care. The weather had definitely deteriorated back to heavy fog and drizzle so we did not walk around, but we did have a peaceful night with just the sound of a foghorn once again lulling us asleep.

Next morning I had wanted our next stop to be the Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve which is world famous for the 575 million year old fossils preserved in the rock, and the Cape Race Lighthouse where the Marconi Wireless station received the Titanic’s fateful distress call April 14, 1912.  The dirt road to the end, however, is about 15 miles of what even locals call treacherous and the weather was still fog and rain so we put it on our “must come back list” 🙂

Ed & I are lifelong Marylanders and as such, we had to visit Ferryland and the Colony of Avalon site where George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore had his agent Captain Edward Wynne establish what became the first successful permanent colony in Newfoundland, with a population of 100 souls by 1625.  Calvert wanted the colony to be a refuge for Roman Catholics being persecuted in England. By 1629 Calvert, however, wanted a place more hospitable, i.e. warmer and so he set sail south, settling in what would become Maryland.


In its 25th consecutive season, archeologists have only uncovered a third of the original four-acre site.


We had the visitor center to ourselves and enjoyed reading about the colony and seeing the many items (be sure to open the drawers under the displays) already found in this still very active archeological dig. We also highly recommend stepping into the kitchen in the back of the gift shop and chatting with the delightful and knowledgeable docent in period dress, busily cooking something from a 17th century cookbook over the open fire!  They work at perfecting a different recipe each week, and there’s a social media contest for those who want to try their hand at it in their own homes.

The next morning dawned bright and sunny and we headed north up the coast to Cape Spear and St. John’s but that’s our next post.  Coming soon we promise!



Common Murres nesting on the cliffs.



Common Murres both in and out of the water.  They spend most of their time at sea and can swim underwater for distances of 98 feet on a regular basis with diving depths of up to 590 feet being recorded.



That bit of fluff there is a baby gannet.  Often they just lay around and we thought they were dead but then… they wake up!



Black-Legged Kittiwakes and babies…





Looking back towards the lighthouse at Cape St. Mary’s.



Looking north from beyond the lighthouse the evening was beautiful just as the fog approached from the south.



Cape St. Mary’s lighthouse.



It is a pretty walk.



but it can get foggy at any moment then the world disappears. On average it’s foggy 200 days out of 365.



Now you seem him, now you don’t…



Not your average RV park…



Looking back over the Avalon Colony site towards Ferryland.











Bonavista Peninsula ~ Newfoundland Part Five


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When one leaves an island to go back to an island I guess “returning to the mainland” isn’t exactly accurate. In any case, we off loaded from our Fogo ferry ride and headed off for 330 East and the village of Newtown where the Barbour Living Heritage Village is located.  We did the tour but in all honesty having been in Newfoundland some time now, we didn’t really learn anything new.  There is however a lovely church here.  Ed went to take a photo of it but the shot he wanted required walking into someone’s yard.  They happened to be outdoors and so he asked permission.  The delightful, elderly lady not only said of course, she then walked him back up the street to show him the house where she was born and raised.  Turns out it’s the oldest house in Newtown.


St. Luke’s Anglican Church, 1895, Newtown.


Not only the oldest, but maybe the cutest.

Next morning continuing south on 320 we took a side trip out to Greenspond, a small village settled in 1690.  We stopped to walk around and got to chatting with 3 men building an outhouse (although they said it would have a flush toilet) next to a walking trail, because “when you have to go it would be good to have a spot to do it in” 🙂  One of the men told us that many of the houses in town are now summer homes, including his, and because they are on a steep hill, on the wrong side of the prevailing winds, winter can be especially hard.  In fact he said the mayor last year had to phone for help because his home was finally covered half way up the second story. He said a “crowd of men” had to come dig him out!


Greenspond is an island community made up of several other islands. The part of town where we chatted with the men is off to the left out of the picture.

We camped the next two nights at Newman Sound in Terra Nova National Park where I made great use of the laundry.  Fellow RV’ers this is a big campground and the sites have pretty good vegetation screening, but it is very busy and there are lots of small children on bikes so watch out!

The Bonavista Peninsula is one of Newfoundland’s most visited locales and we were especially looking forward to our visit here.  While our weather was not the best we did take the side road 235-20 out to Keels on our way to Paradise Farm RV Park near the town of Bonavista. We based out of there for a couple of days and recommend their boondocking sites particularly.


Lobster pots and a squall headed our way in Keels.

The lighthouse on Cape Bonavista is the 4th oldest in Newfoundland and houses a rare catoptric light.


The light is on a stone column around which was built the keeper’s house so each room has as one of its interior walls the round stone tower.

An array of six parabolic (bowl shape) reflectors, in this case highly polished silver, reflected the light from lamp wicks burning seal oil.  This whole apparatus was turned by a weight driven mechanism similar to the weights of a pendulum clock, only this one required the light keeper to rewind the weights EVERY TWO HOURS!! If you are a lighthouse lover you must put this one on your MVL (Must Visit List).


This is the catoptric array. Not only did the windows have to be washed constantly, but the polished silver bowl had to be constantly cleaned.  You can see the modern light through the window.


This is the winding mechanism which turns as the weights pull down thus turning the gears and spinning the light, just like a clock.

There are paths around the light where we found many, many bird wings that were the remains of meals a Silver Fox and her kits enjoy when not getting hand-outs from tourists.


A very relaxed and unconcerned Silver Fox soaks up the sun as people walk by just below the lighthouse.

Near Bonavista we also drove in to Dungeon Provincial Park where there was actually a sign labeling the area as pasture and there were horses and cows!


The dungeon is a collapsed sea cave with twin entrances. Pretty cool.

As I said in our first Newfoundland blog post, icebergs were at the top of our list of things to see, second was PUFFINS 🙂  Elliston is famous for their root cellars (which are actually all over Newfoundland but there is a high concentration of them here), and, the Atlantic Puffin which come to nest each summer.


Very cute but I think it’s a sad face…


The males generally dig the burrows where one egg is laid.  They share in tending the nest.

Also on the Bonavista Peninsula is the village of Trinity where fisherman set up summer stations as early as the mid 1500’s.  This charming village is situated on the hills above a protected harbour. A delightfully walkable town we spent several hours poking about before a nice lunch at Dock Marina Gift Store & Art Gallery.  Trinity was also the shooting location for the 2002 TV mini-series, “Random Passage”.


The Trinity Museum is chockablock full of interesting stuff about fishing, sealing, life over the last 200 years and the first experimental use of the smallpox vaccine in North America.  Rev. Dr. John Clinch gave the first vaccines here in Trinity to his nephew and children in 1798 to prove their efficacy.


A vigorous Rosa Rugosa bush.  They were in bloom everywhere on Newfoundland and the magnificent fragrance just filled the air.


St. Paul’s Anglican Church (#3) built in 1892.  The first two burned down.

Across the bay from Trinity is Fort Point which entails a drive out a rather horrible narrow dirt road, but oh what a trip worth taking!


The lighthouse at Fort Point is not open for tours but you can walk around the grounds and learn all about the fortifications built by the French and British to defend the harbour.


After walking around the grounds of the light we parked here for the night and watched whales all afternoon and evening until dark.


We never tire of watching the humpbacks.

We cannot believe how very much we are seeing and how beautiful it all is. This is now post five and we expect to probably have two more about “The Rock”.  Ed & I thank you for being  armchair travelers on our Newfoundland adventure and hope you will keep “riding along” with us.


Bonavista Lighthouse.


The kitchen in the Bonavista Lighthouse. Notice the weight in a cubby next to the small table behind the stove.  This opening runs up in the stone column to the winding mechanism that turns the light.  Every two hours it needs winding.  Nobody got much sleep.


A rare sight on Newfoundland, pasture and a horse.


Our last iceberg on this trip in Port Rexton.  Ed managed to grab some more iceberg bits for his cocktail glass.


Also in Elliston is a nesting colony of Black Headed Terns. Constant non-stop activity as the mates brought little fish to the nest to feed the family.


Puffins are seabirds and spend most of their time on the water except when they come to land to build nests and raise their young.  This site near Elliston is considered the very best and almost only place one can see puffins this close up.


Marti is about to bust with excitement but you would never know it…


Beautiful, comical and sad, they fly astonishingly fast.


One of hundreds of root cellars where root veggies and cabbages are stored over the winter months.


The sanctuary of St. Paul’s Trinity.


We love the wide range of the painted colors of the houses of Newfoundland. When’s the last time you saw a pink, yellow and green house? Note the root cellar behind the garden.


Can you imagine the response of an American homeowners association to the delightful palette of these houses?


Inside the Trinity Museum…  Most items have a tag explaining what it is and who donated it.


English Harbour on Bonavista Peninsula.


The sea stack is known as Naked Man.  This scene is just to the right of where we overnighted on Fort Point.


Night falls on Fort Point and the light shines.

Fogo Island ~ Newfoundland Part Four


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On Fogo Island, the Town of Fogo Island is comprised of several small villages which used to be separate and unique defined largely by either their religion or ethnicity.  The villages: Fogo, Joe Batt’s Arm, Barr’d Island, Shoal Bay, Tilting, Seldom and Little Seldom were all amalgamated in 2011 forming one community in order to more efficiently provide services and a stronger regional voice politically.

Fogo Map

Fogo Island

The ferry to Fogo Island (round trip $22.25 Canadian!) operates on a first come, first served basis. We headed out really early from Twillingate and the hour long drive to the village of Farewell to hopefully be in line for the 9AM ferry.  It turns out I failed remedial reading and departure was set at 8:30AM. However, we did get there with lots of time to spare and easily made it on board.


The MV Legionnaire is a brand new ship and was nice and shiny.

On the Fogo Island side, the ferry docks just outside the village of Stag Harbour where we off-loaded and headed for the only RV campground on the island.  Within 10 minutes we were both grinning ear to ear already in love with this rocky place!  Getting to the campground we found a lovely spot on a rise overlooking Banks Cove in a mostly empty park. Bordered on one side by Brimstone Head and a much smaller rocky hill on the other this place is only lacking WIFI, although it can be had up by the Lions Club rec-hall at the top of the park.

First thing we did after hooking up was to hike the very steep, but largely staired, 338 ft climb up to the platform perched at the top of Brimstone Head.


Brimstone Head on the left with Banks Cove and our campground on the right.  Notice the stairs leading up to the platform.  Stairs and boardwalks are built all over Newfoundland and especially on Fogo to provide access as well as protect the bogs and fragile plant life.  

On the way up we stopped and had a long chat with Lorne Simms who pointed out her home near the trail just over on the other side from Banks Cove.  As we have already experienced, folks from Newfoundland are beyond friendly.  She told us to stop in for tea if we came by on a hike and offered her canoe if we wanted to paddle around the cove! In chatting with Newfoundlanders, Ed likes to say that in two minutes you are friends and in ten, family.

It was a very warm day, near 80*, hot by Newfie standards, and Ed decided he’d go for a swim just to prove he could.  After warming up he broke a chunk off the bit of iceberg just on the edge of the water and we had 15,000 year old ice for our cocktails 🙂


Marti insists that I did not swim but just dipped.  Call it what you will, it was cold. There was a Newfie fellow who did actually swim around for a good 15 minutes. This chunk of bergy bit provided us with a freezer full of ice for our cocktails.  The ice is so dense it does not absorb salt from the ocean.  Just rinse it off with fresh water and it’s good to go.


My legs are not normally purple.  It was COLD.

When we woke the next morning we could see a big iceberg just off the point of the next cove so we hiked out to take a closer look.  We sat for a long while just watching the icebergs. Giving different ones names so we would know which one was which, we talked about them as if they were dear friends.


We called this one the Matterhorn and it was with us for the entire week as it broke up and finally melted/floated away.

After about an hour we walked on around the point looking for the continuation of the trail we’d been told was there.  Not finding any kind of path Ed surprised the heck out of me and said let’s just go up and over!


It was remarkably steep and unlike most climbs we have done before, Ed found the footing very easy and secure and I did not.

When we first got to the campground I had a nice chat with the gentleman registering us. He informed me that there was a kitchen party here at the Lions Club Wednesday night and we should be sure to come as it was lots of fun with Newfie music, Newfie food (JamJams) and a 50/50. Oh, and of course we could also then be Screeched-In.  Ed in particular is always ready for a good time and so of course we headed up when the doors opened about 8:30.


Part of the Screeching-In ritual is reciting Newfie sayings and phrases.  For the life of me, I had no idea what Denny had said to me and my efforts to repeat it caused gales of laughter from the locals.  


The final step in the initiation to become an Honorary Newfoundlander (being Screeched-In) is to “Kiss the Cod”. He was frozen solid but still fishy.  You do what you have to do… We had a blast and have certificates to prove it.

Fogo Island is the largest of the Newfoundland Labrador offshore islands.  Originally a part of the French Coast, by the mid 1700’s the English and Irish were settling here and indeed the small town of Tilting on the northeast corner is to this day uniquely Irish and Roman Catholic.  In Tilting we visited the Dwyer Premises which offers a close look at the salt cod fishery process of old (for individual consumption the basics of the process has not changed).


Looking out from the Dwyer Premises to see the fishing stage and decking poles which are called longers, that make up the stage platform. The building is where the cod was split and salted, then a few days later the salt was washed off and the fish flakes laid out to dry in the sun and wind. Every night the pieces of fish were stacked and covered and laid out again the next day. The fishing of cod, salt preservation and extracting of cod liver oil was the whole reason for being in every village on Newfoundland.

Because there was an unnamed walking trail sign by a short dirt road we drove out to the little pullout next to a narrow path along Oliver’s Cove that was to be one of our prettiest hikes on the island.


Oliver’s Cove.  Marti just maybe might have found a rock she liked…

Our favorite village was Joe Batt’s Arm, and in all honesty it wins over Tilting because of Nicole’s Café!  As you dear readers have probably noted, we travel by our stomachs 🙂  If you’re on Fogo, DO NOT miss Nicole’s!  Everything is wonderful but the mussels are… WOW!


Fishing stages in Joe Batt’s Arm with the village across the water.

Just before heading to Fogo I had done a little Googling which is when I discovered that one of those really wonderful, off the beaten path, expensive inns I had seen one day while day-dreaming around the internet was actually here… on Fogo and in Joe Batt’s Arm!  Ed would not indulge me 😦


Zita Cobb left her home of Fogo Island at the age of 16, but after making millions in the dot com industry she returned to help the islanders she loved.  Long story short, she had this 29 suite inn built and decorated by local artists and workers.  It offers employment for up to 70 islanders and profits are used in many ways to help Fogo.  We have heard Newfoundlanders praise her efforts and express disdain that they could never afford to stay.  Personally Ed thinks it’s about the ugliest thing he ever saw.  The retired Coast Guard ice breaker is part of the recognition of Canada’s 150 year celebration . It is crossing from one coast to the other visiting communities along the way.  It was in town for the annual Dory Races in Joe Batt’s Arm.

We did the hike out to the Giant Auk sculpture and sat for a long time just watching the ice, waves and birds.


The Great Auk was hunted to extinction so now it gets a bronze statue to remember it by.  It is looking  towards Iceland where there is a matching Auk looking back. No, while big, they were not this big, but about 30″ tall.

Back in Fogo the village, we did the hike at Lion’s Den and also the hike up to Fogo Head.


Along the Lion’s Den Hike looking back to Shoal Tickle.  A tickle is a narrow and shallow passage of water that will “tickle” the bottom of your boat as you pass over if you aren’t careful.


Looking back at some of Fogo Village and Brimstone Head from Fogo Head. The pond is an old impoundment for the town’s water supply.

We watched icebergs for hours.  We had long conversations with the nicest people with the most wonderful accents (not all of which we completely understood).  We fell in love with an incredibly beautiful, quiet, rugged and magical spot populated with kind, caring, hard working honest folks.  We stayed 8 days…..a record for us.  This is a MVL (Must Visit List) place if ever there was one….but you must slow down and be content to just sit quietly for a long time to watch, see, absorb…..and to be rejuvenated.


That’s a big fishing boat, did you even notice it…  there is a reason there’s a huge Facebook Group following the Newfoundland icebergs.


Watching them, waiting for the moment a piece breaks off or it splits, the sound, a cannon-shot and then they roll over.  It becomes addictive, and peaceful.


Here, we happened to be looking in the right direction when a chunk fell off, we heard the sound and Ed started shooting.  I wish you could hear it.  Come to Newfoundland next June.


A bit of Joe Batt’s Arm.


The walk out to the Great Auk.  A 4.6K round trip.  Ed measured it.


Designed by the same architect as the Inn, this is the largest of four working artist’s studios around the island.


Detail of a small pool and rock on our walk out to the Auk. The water is stained by the peat and reflects clouds and sky nicely.


The interior of the fishing stage at Dwyers Premises


From the trailhead of Lion’s Den looking back at Fogo.


At the end of the day, after an unusual thunderstorm the clearing sky over our cove.


With apologies for the length of this post we offer you a little Maker’s Mark over 15,000 year old ice.


Twillingate ~ Newfoundland Part 3


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Please bear with me as I offer a word about this posting.  For those of you who follow us on a map….there are indeed a few miles (405 miles/653 kilometers) between the ferries from Labrador to the town of Twillingate where this posting begins. Having either covered the area before and/or because a lot of it’s on the TCH (Trans Canada Highway) and not a place which we explored or of which we took photos the decision was to skip ahead, soooo, here we go. You are not missing anything! 🙂

Welcome to Twillingate, Iceberg Capital of the World according to their signage and advertising and indeed there were a good number of icebergs to see.


Yes, there are a few icebergs.  It was a hazy day and they were a few miles off… but look at all that ice.

On the official Newfoundland map the Twillingate ~ New World Island area actually has its own enlargement which is quite handy as it covers three main islands, lots of coves, points and arms.   The roads for the most part are awful and we did arrive in the fog and mist soon to be rain, which wasn’t helpful, but hey we’ve learned, it is Newfoundland and the Sun will come out, tomorrow, tomorrow!  Hey, that’s a good idea for a song! 🙂

We stayed at Peyton’s Woods RV Park which has a laundry, and those can be a bit hard to find here so, yippee!   It is just a short drive from here out to the Long Point Lighthouse at Crow Head where there is also an elevated viewing platform.


A few hundred feet above the sea, the view from Long Point Lighthouse is grand, even with fog…  Even because of the fog.


Long Point Lighthouse.  Both times we were here, the lighthouse was closed. It is interesting to note however, that apparently the lighthouse is most unusual because it was designed and built for two families.

We drove down 340 and out the 345 arm to Tizzard’s Harbour and enjoyed the views and icebergs.  The landscape here is more mountains and tight coves with small villages tucked into little harbours.


Not really sure which place this is, but note as we have, the lack of pleasure boats.  All these boats are working boats.  So far on our visit to Newfoundland we have not seen a single non-working boat.

We especially enjoyed the little village of Valley Pond where we had a nice conversation with an older gentleman who wandered over to ask where we were from.  Chatting is something Newfoundlanders love to do as does my dear husband.  In fact, we have had the most delightful chats, both long and short, with many Newfie folks who might possibly be the friendliest people on the planet.


Over a ways to the left is where we had our nice chat with the man who lives in this house, cuts and stacks this wood and stays warm during the winter.

Over by Durrell just east of Twillingate town there’s the French Beach Trail which we took out towards French Head.


French Head.


Did you note that iceberg in the picture before?…  from French Head this is it next to Bacalhao Island nearly 8 miles away.  A big piece of ice and most of it is underwater. Yes, I have a telephoto lens.

The weather was not our friend and we did not cover this area as thoroughly as we generally do, we mostly just drove about the countryside. All prejudice aside, I do think these particular photographs of Eds are especially magnificent and I hope you enjoying seeing them more than reading my ramblings 🙂

Also, truth be told, while in Twillingate we had another place on our radar…. Next post, a ferry ride and Fogo Island!!


From Long Point Lighthouse it was very foggy but look at the iceberg ghost.


More foggy icebergs.  Aren’t they magical?


Long Point as the fog recedes.  You can’t believe the changes it makes moment to moment. Magic.


As the fog receded we walked around below the Long Point light.


Marti just can’t get over the fact that this is a big fat red milk bottle.  I guess you have to be old enough….


Seagulls get a front row seat to waves crashing.


This iceberg is still attached below water but has a gap that waves crash through.  Soon it will separate and roll over.


This the whole iceberg…  note the pale green underwater part and there’s a lot more we can’t see.


Near Valley Pond.


A bit of Canadian charm in Valley Pond.


On our hike around French Head it’s not always about the ocean.


We watched this iceberg float behind this island in about ten minutes.


The incredible mystical dance of light on 10,000 plus year old ice and billions of years old water, is beyond my ability to describe, so all you have to do is enjoy it.


The perfect picture.  A boat, a fishing stage, a light and an iceberg. It don’t get no better than this.


Well, maybe….  

Newfoundland Labrador ~ the Labrador Part


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When we started out on this summer’s adventure we always included Labrador because, well seriously how could we not drop in when this close?  What we did not actually register until being up here in Newfoundland, is that they come as a team.  This province is Newfoundland Labrador, and we now even have the flag sticker on the back of Whack-A-Mole Wheels to prove it 🙂

Driving to St. Barbe we bought our ferry ticket ($48.75 Canadian) for the 1 hour 45 minute ride to Blanc-Sablon which is actually in the province of Quebec.


Ed watched in astonishment as water poured out of the mouth of the ferry, MV Apollo into which we were about to drive.

However, literally a few miles up the road you’re in Labrador and shortly L’Anse au Clair.  Not putting to fine a point on it, the roads are CRAP!  We thought we’d seen the worst roads ever in Newfoundland but it turns out they’re running in second place!


Typical and it does get worse.

Hey, it’s an adventure 🙂


In L’Anse au Clair we checked into the Northern Light Inn & RV. The “RV” part is actually just a gravel parking lot, with water, electric & sewer across the street from the Inn and restaurant behind another building, but it works and once again we pretty much had the place to ourselves.


Campground view includes an iceberg, so all is good.

Still being mid-afternoon we headed up 510 to see what we could find.  The first thing that caught our eye was, L’Anse Amour.  Well yeah, “Love Cove” is a place to stop!  Turns out sometime back in the day the name was corrupted from the earlier name L’Anse aux Morts “Cove of the Dead” which probably is in reference to the many lives lost due to ship wrecks.  Interestingly however, the oldest known ceremonial burial in North America is found here.  Dating back 7,500 years is the stone burial chamber of a Maritime Archaic Indian adolescent. Carefully wrapped and placed face down, with a large flat stone on his lower back fires were lit around his body and offerings; a walrus tusk, harpoon head, painted stones and a bone whistle place alongside him.  Clearly he, or his death, was significant but no one knows why.


Completely innocuous, you could drive right past and never notice the oldest ceremonial burial site in North America.

Further out this potholed, narrow dirt road we came to the remains of one of the many shipwrecks in the Strait of Belle Isle.  The sort of fun part about this one is that just pieces are what are left after the British blew it up!


Bits and pieces from the shipwreck… sort of. Oh and if there is a picture of ocean water look for the white bits because it’s an iceberg. See it?

On August 8, 1922 the HMS Raleigh was either: running too fast and hit the rocks avoiding an iceberg OR the ship’s officers were drinking in celebration of their impending salmon fishing trip with the captain asleep elsewhere, when they ran aground not 200 yards from shore ripping a great gash in the belly of the ship.  Eleven lives were lost, but the remaining 680 officers and crew spent the night in every nook and cranny of the nearby Point Amour Lighthouse and surrounding buildings.  For several years after, the ship sat there looking fine (except for the 360 foot long tear in the bottom) and newspapers would run critical and humorous stories complete with pictures, about the negligence of the British officers.  Finally the Admiralty had had enough and sent the Navy to destroy it!


At the end of the road is Port Amour Lighthouse. The second tallest in all of Canada it was completed in 1857 and is 109 feet tall.  We arrived to discover not one, but two tour buses! Being late in the day we chatted with the nice lighthouse tour guides about when they opened and said we’d be back in the AM.


The Point Amour Lighthouse complex.  If you look carefully at the horizon, you can just make out Newfoundland across the strait.


We absolutely loved the red and green doors into and out of the lighthouse.

The next morning after our visit with the light we headed on northeast along the horrible potholed 510.  The Pinware River on its way to the Atlantic is a popular fishing challenge and we spent some time just enjoying its incredible beauty from the bridge high above.


Looking upstream into the hinterlands of Labrador from the 510 bridge notice that the Pinware River foam is brownish.  That’s from the peat bogs. Even our drinking water was stained tea-color.


Looking downstream from the 510 bridge, the Pinware River flows out to the ocean.


Red Bay was our destination and we arrived just in time for an early lunch at Whalers Restaurant where the fish ‘n chips are pretty darn good.


Red Bay, Labrador.  Our friend Suzanne who is also traveling in an RV like ours, came here a week behind us.  She wisely took the tour over to Saddle Island across the water there to view the old Basque whaling site and village. 

Fortified with food, I told Ed what I really wanted to do was head out the TLH (Trans-Labrador Highway).  Just under 775 miles long this is THE road in Labrador and vast amounts of it, particularly the eastern half where we were, are not paved and wild…. seriously wild, they’ll lend you a satellite phone if you’re traversing from one end to the other 🙂  We set out and WOW it’s pretty country!


Along the TLH looking out into beautiful country.  The white is snow not iceberg 🙂 

Back in Red Bay we went to the Right Whale Exhibit Museum which is excellent and like so many places we’ve been, we had it to ourselves. Red Bay was a major and important 16th Century whaling station for Basque fisherman starting in 1530.  For seventy years they came here in the spring hunted whales, processed the oil and returned back home for the winter! Can you even imagine?…


This is a nearly complete chalupa, a boat used by the Basque whalers to hunt and kill whales.  It was found in the harbor.


This is a flipper of the Right Whale.  They were called the Right Whales because they swam slowly, were easy to kill and floated when dead hence the “right whale”.  The mannequin is wearing attire copied from bits of clothing found in excavations here in Red Bay.  The barrels for the oil were all made onsite across the way on Saddle Island.

Labrador is basically uninhabited; really, we’re talking about 113,641 square miles of land with a population of 27,197 people! It’s wild and beautiful and empty, and someday we’d like to see it all, but unless we add a boat, plane, ATV, snowmobile and snowshoes to our collection and Inuit or Innu knowledge of the land it’s not likely to happen 🙂 For now however we suggest you put it on your MVL (Must Visit List).


The Captain slowly maneuvers the ferry into the dock in Blanc Sabon, Quebec avoiding the growler lurking beside us.  I asked him if he went to school to learn how do this and he said, he had done this 15,000 times…  


Almost all buildings in Labrador and Newfoundland, young and old have these holes or an open slot at the bottom of the storm windows to control condensation. One of the wonderful things about almost all the buildings in this part of the world is they have lace curtains.


The obligatory picture of Marti at the top of the lighthouse.  Some day she insists, it will be Ed.


Sometimes a photograph is better as black and white and besides it my photographic roots.


The walls at the base of the tower were six feet thick laid cut stone and narrowed as the tower went up.  The tower is a cone shape but the interior space remains the same width rising up. It’s a pretty amazing piece of construction.


And the stones were all cut by hand and keyed together. That’s a lot of tink tink tinking…


Here is where the Pinware River flows into the ocean.  Notice the icebergs?


The Pinware River from the TLH on the way to Red Bay.


The Trans-Labrador Highway is actually being paved slowly section by section.  The section we drove on was being prepared for paving this late Summer.  We gave up 51 kilometers into it but our friend Suzanne kept going all the way up to Lodge Bay, 77 kilometers away.


The recovery and restoration of this chalupa is amazing and the simplicity of its line is beautiful.  It’s very hard to imagine chasing down whales in a boat so small.


This is a diorama of the whale oil rendering ovens found on Saddle Island.


Fishing stage in the harbor of West St. Modeste. 


A pull off alongside 510…


In the Whaler Restaurant in Red Bay we are invited to pin where we are from.


Back at the ferry landing we wave goodbye to Labrador and you until our next post.




Newfoundland ~ Part Deux, Gros Morne


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Saying goodbye to the tippy-top of the Northern Peninsula we headed out in light fog for the 432 inland loop back towards 430 South on our way down to Gros Morne National Park.  Having just driven on past Gros Morne on the way up to L’Anse aux Meadows because the weather was so bad, we hoped things would be better now. Inland the sky was beautiful and sunny.  Of course when we got back to the coast the fog was well on its way to being pea soup thick.


Headed into pea soup fog…  oh well, it’s Newfoundland!

We settled into Gros Morne RV Campground in Rocky Harbour which while not a tourist town by US standards, it is more touristy then anyplace we’d been. The advantage with that is a wider selection of restaurants.  We did Earl’s which was fine although they know fish better than fried chicken.  The second night we went to Ocean View. I admit it, we can be a little snobby sometimes, but with real table linens, nothing served in plastic, complimentary dinner rolls, SEVERAL kinds of vegetables and good food….well it was a very nice 🙂

Note to RV’ers: we had low voltage issues at the campground.  We like to be tucked away if possible and so were at the end of the line which the owner acknowledged as the problem. We just didn’t brew coffee AND run the electric water heater at the same time and it worked ok.

The next day we had a reservation for the 11 o’clock boat tour on Western Brook Pond. It  is a lovely 3 kilometer walk from the parking lot to the boat launch & café at the mouth of this fjord. Naturally it was a foggy day as we headed out early with all fingers and toes crossed that the sun would do its thing and burn off at least most of it before our boat ride.  We got in line, headed up to the open top deck when boarding and they set out.


Lovely weather for a boat ride.

About 10 minutes into the 2 hour tour, the boat slowed almost to a standstill and they announced that the earlier tour boat ahead of us had just radioed back to say the ceiling had dropped completely to water level so we would be turning around and given a refund.  Back on shore I checked the weather forecast, whispered to the weather gods and booked the following day’s 12:30 trip.   Not ready to call it a day, we decided to walk at least part of the Snug Harbour Trail that’s just up from the boat launch.


Foggy days may suck for boat rides, but they are great for the colors of these woods.


The nice soft light of cloudy days really favors Ed’s new favorite flower, Bunchberry which is in the dogwood family and explains why when we first saw it we said to each other, “Baby Dogwoods???”

Heading back to Rocky Harbour and with the fog finally lifting we decided to drive out to the Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse.  The good citizens had long worried about the dangers their husbands, sons and neighbors had endured with only an oil lamp in a fellow fisherman’s home window offering guidance to those at sea. Finally this lighthouse opened in 1898 with a kerosene vapor lamp and a fifth-order dioptric lens maintained by keeper Robert Lewis, was sending out its life-saving flash ever 2 ½ seconds.


Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse only had three lightkeepers: Robert Lewis was the first keeper at an annual salary of $504 until 1902 when William Young succeeded him until 1941 when William’s son, George, became the third and final keeper of the light until 1969 when it was automated. 

We awoke to a beautiful sunny day and were so thankful our tour had been cancelled the day before!


Walking towards Western Brook Pond, it’s a better day for a boat ride. You can see the fjord’s opening.


Entering the Western Brook Pond fjord.  Technically it’s not a fjord because it has been cut off from the sea by rising land and is now all fresh water.  


Fjords are cut by glaciers which in this case pushed down the land and as the glacier retreated its weight was gone and the land rose to cut if off from the sea. Over time the salt water has been flushed out and replaced with fresh therefore it is no longer a technical fjord.

Wanting to sort of put a finish on the entire Western Brook experience we did the short walk out to where it flows into the Gulf of St. Lawrence.


Western Brook flows a short distance across the bog and down into the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

With another sunny day (yippee) we headed for the most southwestern section of Gros Morne to walk on the Earth’s mantle.  This part of the park known as the Tablelands reminded Ed of our desert southwest with its barren red rock.


A short walk out along the edge of the Tablelands is rock that is of the Earth’s mantle.

Pushed up from deep inside the earth by tectonic plate collision several hundred million years ago these mountains are peridotite, and very low in nutrients and calcium while high in heavy metals, magnesium and iron, hence unable to support plant life.


Pockets of green can be attributed to water and a lack of the heavy metals etc.

Before signing off I need to make a correction to our last posting and then a confession 🙂

I’m happy to say thank you to reader Deborah Gordon (via FaceBook) who not only corrected my location of the mini village in the Newfoundland ~ Part One post but also identified the artist,   ~  “That little mini village you photographed is directly across from my house and is actually in Ship Cove ( Cape Onion is on side of the point that runs parallel ). Built by Brian Decker as a community sponsored project, it’s meant to portray the old town, which still has some of those same buildings in it. Too bad you didn’t stop in for a cup of tea!”

Confession ~ I have taken things a bit out of order as far as our travels go.  In between these two blog postings Ed & I took the ferry over to Labrador for a very short visit.  We will share that adventure in our next installment, as well as lots more icebergs, beautiful hikes and wonderfully friendly folks.  We sure hope you continue to ride along!!



On our first walk out to the boat dock we encountered this yearling calf who was soon disinterested in all the gawkers so he just walked off.   There are over 120,000 moose on Newfoundland and all of them originate from four animals imported in 1904.


Foggy day walk to the boat…


Non foggy day walk to the boat. What a difference a day makes.


but what a beautiful walk we had in the misty, drizzly fog.


This is Cow Parsnip.  It’s all over Newfoundland and it’s pretty.  However, it is poisonous and will give you a nasty rash of blisters.  Don’t touch it.


Marti just loves the mosses and lichens and ferns and flowers etc, etc, etc…


On the sunny day’s walk in the bog Dragon’s Mouth.


In our family this is a big bugger but to geologists this is  known as an erratic.  A large stone dropped or deposited by retreating glaciers.


Pissing Mare Falls on Western Brook Pond.  Don’t blame us for the name…


The head of Western Brook Pond which by the way is neither a fjord or a pond.  It’s a big effing lake. The Brits called everything a pond back when they were naming places so it stuck.


The larger tour boat is in this photo.  Can you see it?  These cliffs are 2000 ft. tall.


We finished up our day on Green Point near Rocky Harbour.  Love the stratified rocks.


Gros Morne on our way to the Tablelands. Notice the snow on the distant mountains.


Tablelands, Marti may or may not have collected a rock, a particularly nice piece of Olivine/peridotite.


Trout River Pond in Gros Morne.


The village of Trout River at the end of the road in southwest Gros Morne.


Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse.


Ed peeks around the corner to say goodbye from our home, Whack-A-Mole Wheels.


Newfoundland ~ Part One


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Newfoundland (newfun LAND)  is an island and when driving an RV to an island the only way to get to it is via ferry, so we reserved a spot online.  Following the instructions to be there an hour before boarding, actually we made a point of being early, we arrived at the dock in North Sydney, Nova Scotia and were sent to lane 11 to queue up and wait our turn to drive onto the MV Blue Puttees bound for Channel-Port aux Basques, Newfoundland.


Waiting in queue as the 18 wheelers are loaded on to the MV Blue Puttees.  The vessel is named in honor of the Newfoundland Armed Forces in WWI who were nicknamed the Blue Puttees for the blue leggings (puttees) they wore over their boots.

After the 6 ½ hour crossing we off-loaded and headed straight for the nearest campground JT Cheeseman Provincial Park  where the sites are huge, private, with electric only but on both sides of the space and at least when we were there pretty much empty!  For you fellow RVers, the drinking water spigots all said boil before using, so we just didn’t use it.


The Long Range Mountains run up the entire Northern Peninsula and are an extension of the Appalachians.

We had decided to head for the Northern Peninsula and L’Anse aux Meadows first, so taking the TCH (Trans Canada Highway) to Corner Brook we picked up 450 driving out almost to the end of the road and Blow Me Down Provincial Park. The water here also required boiling.  Before getting there however we stopped at the Blow Me Down Nature Trail between Frenchman’s Cove and York Harbour.  A good distance from the parking lot is a lovely tall waterfall which doesn’t seem accessible but there is a trail that wonders off through the bog ending at what we’d call a river but the local kids we chatted with call a brook! We stayed there only long enough to get a photo as the blackflies were swarming near the water.


This is a  very popular local swimming hole and we passed lots of young people coming back, some wet, some not.  The water is cold snow melt.  You can’t see the blackflies, but trust us, they are there.

The next morning the weather was not in our favor, but very typical for Newfoundland, VERY low clouds/fog and misty.


Just a little fog…

The route up the Northern Peninsula is 430 running right along the coast. There’s a lot of construction on the first bit but one has to remember that with the winters here there’s a very small window to do any type of construction/repair work.  It was to our advantage actually because there wasn’t a lot of traffic and our short waits gave us a chance to look around before moving on up the road.


We could see the beautiful landscape even with the coming and going of the fog.

We stopped at the site of the 1919 wreck of the SS Ethie.  All crewmen and passengers were saved, including a baby that was transferred safely in a mailbag to waiting hands on shore but the ship lost.


Rusting bits are all that’s left of the SS Ethie.

We arrived at Port au Choix (Port ah Shuwwaaa) as the sky was clearing and checked into the Oceanside RV Park run by the United Towns Lions Club.  Situated right on the shore and with electric, water and wifi this is a no frills but wonderful location!  After picking our spot and marking it we headed into town.  Basque whalers in the 16thth century fished here and gave it the name Portuchoa meaning “little port”.


The Chaloupe, a vessel of Basque origins was used for hunting whales and fishing cod in the 16th century.  In Newfoundland, they have long disappeared.  The knowledge to construct them is still in use in Basque country in Spain, so in 2004 an association of Basque Maritime Heritage came over and three boats were built.  This is one of them.

Later this area was part of the “French Shore” given to France as exclusive fishing rights, but not as land for settlement, in the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, and hence the French version of the name which translates to Port of Choice.  We stopped for dinner at Anchor Café where we not only had excellent fish chowder and really good pan fried cod, our friendly and fun waitress Norvalee told us about Pointe Riche Lighthouse.


The wooden “pepperpot” style Pointe Riche Lighthouse in Port au Choix built in 1892 to replace an earlier light.

Back at the campsite we walked around the huge, flat rocks that are the shore and discovered they are covered with fossils!  All in all, put Port au Choix on your MVL (Must Visit List).


One of hundreds of fossils we saw in the rocks of Port au Choix.  Ed thinks it is a bill of a swordfish-like billfish.  Marti is waiting for an expert’s opinion.


The next day was just plain ugly weather wise, and not much better the following day, but we headed on north anyway towards Eddie’s Cove where we saw our first iceberg!


It’s easy to get excited when it’s your very first iceberg.  Marti was very thrilled. Little did we know what was coming up North. This size is called a Growler.

At this point the road turns east inland where the fog and rain slowly faded away, then up to the northern tip of Newfoundland, splitting into four fingers of road.  We drove up 437 to Cape Onion where we saw more and bigger icebergs.


She’s a Happy Camper at Cape Onion the northernmost point in Newfoundland.

Then back down and out 436 to Quirpon and Viking RV Park where we settled in for the night.

To our great relief we woke to find the beautiful sunshine had remained and we quickly headed on up 436 to L’Anse aux Meadows a place that I was very excited to see.  Discovered in 1960 when Helge Ingstad and Anne Stine came to this area following their study of the Norse Sagas. They asked the village residents if they knew of any mounds or unusual shapes in the surrounding landscape.  Local George Decker took them to an area they all called the “old Indian camp”.  Excavations began and with the discovery of an unquestionably Norse made cloak pin the first European settlement in North America was confirmed, dating from 1,000 years ago!


L’Anse aux Meadows National Park.  The boardwalk leads you through the settlement excavation site over to the recreated village.  Once excavated and documented the sites were covered back up with dirt to preserve their integrity for future study but the outlines of the building foundations are quite clear.


…as you can see. Yes, that is snow on the hillside.


Walls constructed of peat are based on the foundation excavations, the roof design is taken from known styles recorded in Iceland. They are very substantial and on this nice day pretty cozy feeling.


Back down the south arm of 430 we went to St. Anthony where we discovered Lightkeepers Seafood Restaurant.  Put this on your MVL!  We had lunch here twice and even stayed an extra day to try their dinner menu!


Located on Fishing Point, the Fox Point lightkeeper’s home is now a restaurant.


Amazing Seafood Chowder, the best yet for lunch one day and Cod Tongues for dinner appetizers the next.  The Cod Tongues tasted OK but had a chewy texture.  BTW, they’re not really tongues but a muscle from the cheek. Did we mention the Iceberg Beer… oh, oh, oh and Moose Sliders.  Yum!

There is a gift shop and museum across the way as well and we had a wonderful time chatting with the owner as well as purchasing some of his mother’s homemade jams.  On one of our visits I also walked the short trail behind the restaurant where a large white X was painted on a rock.


Do you see it?

Turns out the “X Marks the Spot” where on August 10, 2009 Francis Patey threw his 2 page message about his hometown, inserted into a plastic soda bottle, into the ocean.  For 544 days it traveled along an unknown journey until being spotted and picked up on a Brittany, France beach by Joy Nash!  Francis had included his contact information and Joy did just that!  FUN!!


We visited the Grenfell Center where we learned about the amazing Dr. Wilfred Thomason Grenfell who in the late 19th and early 20th centuries fell in love with Newfoundland and Labrador and spent the rest of his life, along with his wife, doctoring, educating and supporting the peoples in these two incredibly remote and difficult environments by building hospitals and schools.

We sat and watched on a foggy wet Sunday as men worked at the end of a newly constructed rock pier doing something in the waters of St. Anthony harbour.  Watching through binoculars, I asked Ed “What do you think that yellow broken tube thing is?” one of the guys had taken out of a box, my clever husband says “Dynamite, that’s what they were doing, they’re going to blast under the water!”


Boooooom! Only when under the water it wasn’t much of a shock but lots and lots of bubbles. The drilling rig is shown on the right side of the photo.  A platform on the end of a long arm attached to a tracked vehicle.  They are blasting away a huge rock shoal to make the harbor deeper for container and cruise ships.  Good for the local economy but we are afraid it might destroy the charm of this small town.

Newfoundlanders call their island “The Rock” and true there is precious little soil on it, but we are having a wonderful time and hope you are enjoying our window into this beautiful place.  There’s a lot more to come and we can’t wait!


Bottle Cove at the end of 450 near our campground at Blow Me Down Provincial Park.


Pointe Riche Lighthouse.


Pointe Riche Lighthouse, again…


June 25th, and almost 11PM this far north and it’s still very light in the western sky.  This is from our campground in Port au Choix.


There are small cemeteries all over Newfoundland.  We think it’s because they are by denomination and most villages have at least two churches each with its own burial ground rather than community cemetery like at home.


A small tableau on a hummock in Cape Onion.  We have no idea who built it but it sure is cute and real looking.


The interior of the big house at L’Anse aux Meadows is fully outfitted with reenactors who answer your questions and perform the daily duties of life in the year 1000AD.


Some of the accoutrements of daily Norse life.  We are told they are only Viking if they are off killing and pillaging. 🙂


Detail of an entrance and the sod construction. They cut the peat four miles away so as not to disturb the integrity of the site. The walls are three feet thick.


We saw what we think are Minke (minky) whales feeding in the bay of St. Anthony Bight.  These are the only whales we have seen because as we have been told, the capelin are still out at sea and the whales are there feeding on them.  There is no cod inshore yet either for the same reason.  The local fishermen are getting very restless.


Evening at the harbor of St. Carols, near St. Anthony.


Marti went for a walk after dinner at the Lightkeepers.  Fog, as usual is coming and going which makes for beautiful light, sometimes.


Ed looking very Viking-like.  Kevin says, “Keep your shield up or I’ll ring your bell Dad!” For those who don’t know, our son Kevin was a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism and participated in the Pennsic Wars as a teenager.