Thursday, June 13, 2024

Vikings

 Pistolet Bay Provincial Park - June 4 to June 14, 2024

I think most of us were taught in grade school that "In fourteen hundred and ninety two Columbus sailed the ocean blue" and discovered America. Since that time there have been plenty of archeological finds proving the Vikings were here long before Columbus. They just didn't stick around. One of the sites proving the Vikings were here first is L'Ance aux Meadows, which is about a 30 minute drive from where we are parked.

As part of our preparations to visit L'Ance aux Meadows we check cruisemapper.com. Yep, no cruise ships due at any of the local ports, we are good to go! I wish I could find a similar web site for tour busses. I don't begrudge any of the folks that choose to travel this way, it's just that they overwhelm whatever they visit. How can you enjoy a site when there are 50 to several hundred other people jockeying for position to see whatever there is to see. It's just best to avoid them if you can. That way you can stop and embrace the essence of the location. 

L'Ance aux Meadows is where the Vikings, or Norsemen, established a settlement in about 1000 AD. Archeologists say that this was not a permanent settlement but was sporadically occupied between a period of 20 and a 100 years. Remains of the village suggest that this was used as a boat repairing facility and a staging area for explorations that ranged further inland and further south.

Our excursion to the Viking settlement began with a slight diversion. We are always on the lookout for a good boondocking site. We found a gravel road that went around a corner hiding what lay beyond and piquing our interest. Hoping it might be a good site to camp, we went to investigate, and found our second fox. As usual, we were both so stunned by the appearance of a fox headed straight for us, that neither of us thought to take a picture until it was headed away.

We finally arrived at the Viking site where EJ is greeted by the inhabitants.


On the walkway to the Viking structures we passed through this. It is an artists vision representing the meeting of two worlds. Beats me how they get that out of it. If you squint really really hard the object on the left might represent a Viking sail. The object on the right, I got no clue! And in the middle, "Oh look, another iceberg!".

Eventually we arrive at the Viking village. There is a long house, a blacksmith shop and several others.



And it's not crowded. Just the way we like it.


Of course on the way out, we had to find a geocache and ended up here.

And to close out our adventure, the fog starts to roll in. That happens a lot up here.

Obligatory cat picture follows...







Bergs

 Pistolet Bay Provincial Park (CG) - June 4 to June 14, 2024


We are about as far north as you can get on the island of Newfoundland. Oh sure, there's the Quirpon Lighthouse Inn with it's lighthouse next door, which is even further north, but Miss Mosey doesn't float or fly and those are the only two ways to get there.


In spite of all the assurances we have gotten, we have discovered that boondocking spots for bigger RVs are very limited. We've searched and scouted and found some that were in beautiful locations, but access was by a big drop off, or skinny little 2 track paths. So the next best thing was this Provincial Park. No hookups, but there is water available and there is a dump station for taking care of business.

The drawback to the Park is that it is down about 9 kilometers (5.6 miles) of patch work road. Repairs on top of repairs along with the occasional whoop de do (sudden dip) that will surprise you if you're not paying attention. It appears that rather repave roads, they just patch over and over again. Don't get me wrong, we are thankful for what pavement there is. And so is Miss Mosey.

Back a couple of months ago we were debating on whether to go to the St. Johns area which is where in years past most of the iceberg activity seems to have taken place or to travel to Saint Anthony which is lesser known and not as well traveled. St. Johns is a very touristy spot with an international airport and lots of accommodations and attractions for those tourists. Saint Anthony, on the other hand, is harder to get to, requires a long drive, and has few accommodations and fewer restaurants.

To our readers who know our dislike for crowds, it should come as no surprise that we chose Saint Anthony. And it is a good thing we did. This year the winds and currents have conspired to give the greater northern peninsula area near Saint Anthony an abundance of icebergs while sending hardly any to the St. Johns area. Lady Luck was definitely smiling upon us. This is simply a sample of what we saw.







 It seemed as though almost everywhere we looked, there was an iceberg. And according to the latest iceberg map, there is another big batch headed our way. Excuse us while we pat ourselves on the back. Just joking, but since we don't really have a schedule we extended our stay here to catch all the bergs we can.

Obligatory cat picture follows...



 

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

What were we thinking?

 Pistolet Bay Provincial Park - June 4 to June 14, 2024

The end of the road in Saint Anthony is Fishing Point where the old lighthouse is located. This is another popular tour bus stop. We wonder where they come from because the nearest airport is at least 5 hours away. We don't recall any village along the way that could accommodate 40 or so passengers overnight. Oh well, according to cruisemapper.com no cruise ships are due in Saint Anthony today. But, during the 3 hours we were there, at least 5 tour busses showed up. Fortunately we only had to momentarily endure one, before embarking on our hike away from the swarm.

EJ had suggested we visit this area while the weather was reasonably nice. There was no rain in the forecast, which was nice. The temperatures were supposed to be near 50F. So we bundled up and headed of for a nice hike along the coastline.





It was pretty windy so we were waring our wind breakers. That 50F temperature feels pretty cold when it's blowing about 10 of 15 mph. Then sum fule (me) suggested we go find a geocache that is nearby. EJ said "I bet it's up there".


And she was right!

At the bottom we meet a local who is concerned about our physical capabilities and cautions us about the steps. Too narrow, sloping backwards, makes balancing hard, etc. We thank him for the information and he heads up the trail never to be seen again (at least by us).

We tighten our shoes, slurp down some water, suck on some Jolly Ranchers and mentally prepare ourselves for the ascent. And yup, the sign says 476 steps to go up 550 feet. 


After about 5 minutes of climbing, EJ asks me if I'm counting the steps???? I doing all I can huffing and puffing and she wants to know if I'm counting steps? So I tell her no, I'm not. Eventually we find a step that someone, obviously much younger and fitter than we, has marked with the number 100. We assume that means that this is the 100th step from the bottom, only 376 to go. Oh god! Taking many, many breaks we continue our ascent. We begin to wonder, where is step 200? Those younger, fitter folks didn't just number one step and then stop, did they? Maybe they aren't as fit as we gave them credit for! Onward and upward we trudge. We get passed by a slender athletic person almost running up the steps. 


Oh joy! What is this? A step with another number?


Hey, we're doing better than we though! 300, woohoo! Upward we continue our struggle. After another eternity we encounter the same slender fit person on her way down who informs us we are almost to step 399. We wonder is it too late to turn back? We are almost there! Will we make it? More slurps of water and another Jolly Rancher, we continue or climb.

Every time we turn a corner and look up, there are more steps. Finally, we make it.


They've even posted a sign up here showing us which way it is to Florida.


We find our cache, make our mark and return to begin our descent. This part goes much easier, but our leg muscles protest. They are quivering and protesting with every step. But, knowing we must prevail, we eventually reach the bottom.


Success! This is really gonna hurt tomorrow. But for now, a cold beer is just what we need.

A few days ago I met the owner of the Ragnarock Northern Brewery as he was delivering a case of beer to the Northern Delight Restaurant. I asked him about his dark beers and he confessed that he had none available right now, but he should have some ready to tap next week (which is now). He said he would have a stout and a red ready.

As it turns out, he had no dark beers available when he said he would, but he did have a new red that I tried. It was quite tasty. Our time here on the GNP (Great Northern Peninsula) is done. It is now time to head to Puffin and Whale territory.

Obligatory cat picture follows...




Friday, May 31, 2024

Wreckhouse

 Wreckhouse Parking Area - May 21 to 23, 2024


 We had just arrived in Newfoundland and needed a place for hang out while we planned our next steps and did some exploring. This looked like a good potential spot.

A huge level paved parking area. Mountains in front of us. The Gulf of St. Lawrence behind us. While we were marveling at our luck, we couldn't help but wonder why this big paved area existed in this particular spot. Was the Canadian Government being nice to us travelers by providing a nice resting spot after just getting off the ferry?



Our one night stay turned into 3 as we explored this part of the island.  It seems every group of 5 or 6 homes has a name on the map. St. Andrews, Tompkins, Doyle, and more. We drove through them hoping to find a shop or museum to explore. But nope, just a group of 4 to 6 houses. We did find a lighthouse at Cape Ray.


But I diverge from the main story which is about Wreckhouse. There is no visible explanation for this place. Just that sign at the beginning of this post.

So we jump on the internet to see if we can get more information about this place. Holy Crap on a Cracker! This place is known for it's extremely high winds. Up to 200KM/hr (125 mph). In the past, a narrow gauge railroad used to run through this area. If the train happened to coincide with the extreme winds, it would get blown off the tracks.


Now that train track has been turned into a hiking/atv trail and the modern victims of the Wreckhouse winds are tractor-trailers. 

So far it's good for us. The predicted weather is favorable so we are safe, right? Well the third night we stayed was one night too many. The weather turned sour. Rain was in the forecast. We had been out sightseeing in Pearl. On the way back we saw a digital sign warning of high winds at the Wreckhouse. 49KM/hr. Big deal, that's only 30 miles per hour. We've driven in worse than that. (not on purpose, nor were we happy about it.) Sitting still, it should be no problem. 

Something got lost in the translation between mother nature and that Wreckhouse digital sign. Back at Miss Mosey the wind started to howl. We considered leaving, but no way I wanted to drive in those conditions. Dishy, up on the pole, is vibrating in the wind. I trust the brackets that support it, but why push our luck. So dishy gets stowed. The slide toppers are flapping now, so the slides are brought in and we point Miss Mosey in the direction of the wind and hope it doesn't shift.

That night the wind blew us around pretty good. We were rocking back and forth. We extended the stabilizer jacks a little more and that helped to calm the motion. The rain blasted us so hard we thought a hundred pressure washers were pointed at us.

And of course, as usual, the morning dawned with almost complete calm.

And the reason for the huge paved area? So all those semis caught on the highway while the Wreckhouse winds blow, have a safe place to park. Now we know.

Obligatory cat picture follows:







Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Miss Mosey is going for a boat ride

 Port aux Basques - May 21, 2024

Finally, after leaving FnEJ's Hideway on March 13, 2024 we are ready to board the ferry from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland. The faint dashed blue line in the above picture shows the route the ferry takes from North Sidney, Nova Scotia to Port aux Basque, Newfoundland. This is a first for us, but we have read and watched everything we could find about taking your RV on the ferry. The journey is about 112 miles and takes roughly 7 hours.


Our Garmin GPS shows the Nova Scotia Highway 105 running right into the water. The ferry is the substitute for the highway across the water becoming the Trans-Canada Highway 1, or TCH-1, in Newfoundland.


This is the ferry we will be driving into, the MV Highlanders. We will be driving up that ramp that starts in the center of the picture through that door in the center of the bow deck. Contrary to what some people have heard, there is no backing up involved at either end of the journey. One fellow we spoke with had unhooked his towed car from his motorhome just because he was afraid he would have to back up at some point.



We approach the entrance to the ferry staging area where we are asked for our license plate number, our reservation confirmation, and the length of our rig. We gave them the required information and proudly announced we were 57 feet long. We knew this because EJ and I had carefully measured the length with a 12 foot tape measure several weeks ago. Well, they informed us we were wrong, that we were 58 feet long. Oops, I guess there was some slippage. Fortunately no more money needed to change hands as we were still under 60 foot mark which is when the price goes up. Once all that was squared away, we received our boarding cards and cabin key. Without a boarding pass, your RV will not be allowed to board.


Once we managed to get past the entrance gate gauntlet, we got to wait.  Here we are in line with all the other RV's anticipating the boarding process. We had purposely arrived 2.5 hours early hoping to get a good spot on the ferry.


We receive the notice to board and begin entering the bowels of the ship.


Here we are being guided into our very skinny spot. I kept trying to pull to the right and he kept telling me to pull to the left. My drivers side mirror was mere inches from that Maritime trailer.


So we are parked within the yellow lines, but the passenger side mirror hangs out over that line bine by a good 6-9 inches. But what can I do? The mirror won't budge, I've already tried that. We hope that we still will have a mirror when it's time to leave.




Because we don't want to be schlepping our belongings around for 7 hours and because we thought we would get some much needed showers and maybe a nap, we opted to get a cabin for the journey. The cost was about $56 Canadian which was a steal.


 I wish we had gotten pictures of the parking deck on Highlanders as we tried to find Miss Mosey. First of all, we used the steps going down from deck 8 (where our cabin was) to deck 3 (where Miss Mosey was parked). When we arrived, we used the elevators to get to our cabin. There were tractor-trailers parked everywhere. We couldn't even see Miss Mosey. Plus there was barely room to squeeze between all the trailers without getting road slime all over your clothes. 

We finally found Miss Mosey and we still had a passenger side view mirror. Yay! But, a semi was parked next to us and our mirror and his mirror over lapped. Ohno! But the parking guides knew what they are doing and extracted us with no damage to our home on wheels.

We have arrived in Newfoundland-Labrador which we will call Newfoundland from now on unless we actually venture to Labrador on another ferry.


For our first night we arrive at a large parking lot about 30 minutes north of Port aux Basque where the ferry docked. On Google maps this lot is known as "Arret pour une nuit". (What that means, I have no idea) There are mountains in front of us.


And the Gulf of St. Lawrence is behind us.


It's been a long stressful day and it's time to relax.


The setting sun adds a nice touch.

Obligatory cat picture follows...