June 9th evening
You must login to vote
I take advantage of free phoning privileges and phone my son in Ladysmith who is enjoying his stay at home holiday. I go for a short walk along the waterfront which has a dyke made out of interlocked steel sheets that create an attractive rusty border. The tide rips through the channel with amazing speed but unfortunately I miss the raising of the drawbridge to let a boat through. A couple show up and I phone Linda who shows them a room over the phone. When Iíd arrived Linda had asked for payment up front which I didnít mind at all. I was beginning to see why. Nobody was about and guests took it upon themselves to welcome others in and be helpful which Canadians normally do. In the evening I was sitting in the dining room wondering when supper was going to happen when a couple arrived looking for a room. Phoning her about them enabled me to ask about the dinner Iíd reserved. Itís down at the cafe and I drive down there thinking about the way theyíve parlayed the cafe into a off site drop in centre for guests. Linda had told me about her allergies when I arrived and was enjoying the free coffee and baked good they offered. Really great coffee and the brownie was terrific too. I make the very short trip back to the cafe and have an absolutely splendid seafood linguine. The worst thing about it was the lobster pieces because lobster isnít at the top of my shellfish hit parade. I prefer dungeness crab over lobster and adore scallops, muscles, and clams of any type. Lobster which Iíve had in Nova Scotia in season to make sure I hadnít just been fed lower class crustaceans from too tired tanks. I ask Linda if perhaps her allergies are due to stress which I felt might be present due to running two businesses. She says she is super stressed because her brother is dying of cancer on the other side of Canada. She tells me itís hard to hold onto help because of the new nickel processing plant at Long Harbour where they pay their cleaning staff $20 an hour. I immediately think how wonderful it is to have a job opportunity where youíre paid enough to survive the high taxes here in Newfoundland. Up the road a bit they had to bring in foreign workers from I canít remember where to work at a fish processing plant where they were being paid $11 an hour and wouldnít up the wage to attract Newfoundlanders but did wonder why if the unemployment was so high why these jobs went begging. It was simple math to me figuring out the cost of gas and travelling away from home and paying to keep two residences. It amazes me that supposedly clever entrepreneurs canít see past their own dinner table but then again my socialist attitude makes calculations simple. Youíll never get any of them admitting theyíre being penurious. Now, where was I? I finish the scrumptious meal and head back to the B&B. I swap a few stories and photos with another guest and then head off to my room where there is no TV which is fine even though everywhere else had super sized screens in the rooms.
After another night in a bed every bit as comfortable as at home I arise early as usual and entertain myself with my computer for an hour or so. I see the guest Iíd swapped quilt photos with the evening before. Sheís trying to brew a coffee in one of those newfangled machines. Two of us try all sorts of different button pushing combos and then I find the on switch at the back of the machine and we repeat the process. Iím not tempted because there is no cream in the guest fridge even though the sign advertises its presence. She gives up in disgust and I try one more possibility which works but sheís past caring and they go off for the free breakfast at the cafe. Again a bell goes off for me. Seeing a set up dining room in the B&B conditions me to believe one will be eating there. Itís just for show and computer use for the guests. I travel down to the cafe which would be a robust walk of about 10 minutes one way. I then decide I will visit a nature park with encaged animals that would not survive in the wild which is one of the attractions close by. Close by in Newfoundland means within a three hour drive. Iím fairly used to their attitudes about travel by now. As an islander myself Iíd sort of reigned in my ideas about day travel to something that fit the confines of my island because getting on and off with a vehicle is an expensive proposal which eats up a great deal of time to boot. Newfoundland is a much much bigger place and day trips here can be parlayed into journeys of several days. Itís another revelation that happened after I hit the road here. When something is 18 hours away over miles and miles of road one must travel twice itís less of an allure. Next time Iíll begin on the west side and drive my way east taking in the world heritage sites close to Labrador and maybe even take the ferry across so I can say Iíve been to Labrador which makes Newfoundland look like a hub of bustling activity.
I drive down the coast through some gorgeous cliff views to Cape Saint Maryís where thereís an ecological preserve celebrating birds. I head further along and arrive at The Salmonier Nature park just about the time Iím sure Iíve made a wrong turn or missed it. More landscape adjustment is required I suppose. There is an advertised 3 KM trail and Iíd been assured it was worthwhile so I take the plunge. This is a free attraction which requests donations so it must be a Province run park. One pays for National parks while Provincial ones are free. Another reason to come to Newfoundland. They respect their taxpayers who pay hefty duties to live here but so do I and almost every government run attraction in British Columbia demands a fee. My province is richer than Newfoundland too. Oh, off topic again to kvetch as a cranky taxpayer. I used to be a letter carrier and walked miles every day at a blistering clip while scurrying up and down thousands of stairs as well. Now the thought of a 3 KM stroll needs some contemplation. Iím annoyed at myself for being hesitant and take the plunge after donating five dollars to the cause. The boardwalk is not level but itís not steep inclines either. The sights are worth seeing, especially the close up horned owl, and I take my time sauntering around the course at a respectable pace which means Iím not passed by toddlers. This physical alteration of my energies was gradual until 2008 when I developed a nasty bronchial and lung infection which knocked the wind out of my sails drastically. I finally succumbed to prescribed drugs which Iíd avoided my entire life other than the occasional short term illness. Now Iím dependent of things which Iíd rather avoid and itís irritating. Iím hoping quitting smoking will lead to me being able to dump the drugs eventually. This is a source of chagrin for me and Iíve arrived at the point where I believe I should do some cardio exercises to increase my lung capacity. How freaking boring is that? Work outs were fine when I was getting paid to do so and they had an independent purpose. I finish the course in just over an hour which is scandalous to me but itís something I wouldnít have done a mere month ago. Then I take the road back which is a circle tour so the scenery isnít a repeat.
Back at the B&B more guests arrive with nobody but guests to greet them because Linda and Phillip have gone into St. Johns for provisions which is an all day trip. We hear one couple has had a flood in their room which is explained away as a bad plumbing repair which makes me wonder about what sort of water is leaking through the ceiling. Thereís no dinner at the cafe tonight because this shopping for supplies closes down the cafe. Iím thinking to myself thereís got to be a better answer and probably an opportunity for some entrepreneur but Iím saying nothing because of the Long Harbour job bonanza. We all head to the 3 Sisters Pub on foot because its close and I consider them to be understaffed too. Placentia is definitely not the place to run a small business because thereís no support network available. When the plumbing problem is conveyed to Linda she sends her help down to check into it and I get a glimpse of her for the second time in so many days and sheís gone again. She doesnít look happy to be there either. Linda told me they were planning on selling the B&B and I believe they should do so immediately because their hearts and minds are down at the cafe. Iím dismayed Iíve got so many things to be critical of considering this woman is not only from my province but from my island too. I think about how much time Linda spends talking about herself and realise sheís not the right fit for a service enterprise and wonder if sheís been talked into such ventures by her charming husband who fits the mould perfectly.
An early breakfast of scrumptious molasses and raison toast with fabulous coffee. The morning before Iíd had quiche which was amazing. This certainly is the highlight of this B&B even if you have to go out for it. I say my good-byes and Iím away to St. Johns for the final three days in Newfoundland. I decide to head down to Bay Bulls for a possible iceberg excursion because Iíd been told thereís a big one about down there. A couple of hours later after a couple of stops to admire the scenery I arrive at Gatheralls which was recommended to me and am told there are puffins, there are whales but no icebergs and the friendly woman does her damnedest to convince me that puffins are worth my time. If they were boasting owls Iíd be sold! Puffins, not so much. She tells me thereís a big iceberg at Ferryland. Who could resist going to Ferryland? Not me! Itís 40 KMs in the wrong direction but Iím game and the distance melts away when the iceberg comes into view. Itís HUGE but not as charming as the middling size one I saw in Twillingate that had meringue peaks and ribbons of impossible blue. Iíve heard the berg is grounded in the offshore depths which expands upon the ideas of icebergs' below water properties. I take oodles of photos and even a few movie clips because Iím convinced this will be my last viewing. My journey to see them was an incredible success and how seeing them made me feel proved my impressions of these Greenland travellers were correct. Seeing them in reality is a profound experience which rivals whales, northern lights, glaciers and other natural displays that are breathtaking. The bonus was meeting Newfoundlanders on their home turf and experiencing their love for sharing what they hold dear. They are warm hearted people who embrace strangers with charming vigour. I love them completely because theyíre captivating in their kindness and honesty. They worry about being a good host, they worry about visitors having a good time, they worry about each little detail that could make your stay more agreeable.
I find the airport easily and drop off my car with some discussion on the expense which is a couple of hundred dollars higher for one extra day than the cost of a rental in Halifax which is a short flight away on the main body of Canada. Iíd noticed my rental car was from Nova Scotia and when itís explained that itís costlier in Newfoundland I ask for the Nova Scotia rate because thatís where the car is from. It was a joke and she appreciated it but when she checks the figures she assures me thereís been no mistake. Maybe next time because Iíll have to pay for the flight it might be cheaper to bring Evangeline. It certainly would be a sweeter ride. It takes five to six days of HARD driving to cross Canada but itís an option. Iíve a place to stay in Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick & Nova Scotia to offset motel costs.
I catch a cab to my booked hotel and finally come across a bed that lacks an ounce of comfort so I sleep in the reclining chair for most of the night. Before doing some bedding alterations I book a tour for the 12th and then, wonder of wonders walk down the hill into the heart of St. Johns and partake in some more rum and have a lamb dinner at an Irish pub. The grub is okay but Ireland does better mutton than this place does lamb. I take several photos of a splendid statue in a small square and go look for a cab. Each time I stand off the curb along one of the main streets traffic stops to enable me to cross the road. After waving a few through one wonít move along until I cross and so I oblige even though itís not where I want to be. Then I see a cab and wave frantically and re-cross the street to hop in when he screeches to a stop. The hotel is right next to one of the cityís hospitals so a lot of the guests are here due to family being incarcerated in medical pens which doesnít do a lot for the ambience but itís a lovely clean reasonable place to stay. I shudder to think how much the Delta Hotel charges just down the hill. This place offers a free continental breakfast and has coffee on the go 24 hours a day. Iím content with the surroundings even though I wonít be using the provided kitchen itís nice to see it here.
One item Iíve noticed countless times during my travels is power poles fenced in by three foot high small corrals which are filled to the top rail with boulders. I suppose itís to keep the poles upright in spongier ground but I find the whole idea beguiling. The names of towns are so delightful theyíre used by Newfoundland to entice the tourists. Heartís Desire, Come By Chance, Cupid & Cupidís Cove, Little Heartís Ease, tickle this and tickle that, so many times I smiled as I drove by the turn off for another familiar name and some that I hadnít heard too. Newfoundland is rich with whimsy. Now itís two more nights in St. Johns before I fly back to Halifax and Iím already winding down.
"Tigers bloom where there's oodles of room." Zodiac Zoo