Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sea to Sea St. John's NL to Canso NS

From Twillingate, we headed south for St. John's, stopping for the night on a side road on the way to Gander.    En route is another lovely park, Terra Nova, but the only site-seeing stop we made was at an information center in Gambo, the birthplace of Joey Smallwood.  Apparently he lived there for only two months before being moved with his parents to St. John's.  For Gambo, the visitor site is a good draw for tourists like us but the area is also very lovely.  We knew little of Joey Smallwood but the displays and presentation of his life and times was excellent and interesting.  Where is his like today? He was passionate  and totally dedicated all his life to Newfoundland and its ordinary people.  We read speeches, excerpts from his book and other writing and added him to our long list of people and events we should look up again - but probably won't...alas.

In St. John's, we booked the car in for a service the next day so decided to go to the places needing a car and leaving city sites for the day we were on foot.
That meant heading out to Cape Spear, 13 km from the city.
The Lighthouse there is a National Historic site and the old lighthouse has been preserved, the new, unmanned one erected a bit lower down the hill.
I forgot to mention earlier - that when we went to Gros Morne, the agent at the entrance told us about annual passes to all the National Park sites across Canada.  So we are now the happy owners of annual passes - a bargain at $57 each, since it gives entry to any site in the country and reductions on camp fees at many of the camping sites as well.
Apparently, the lighthouse keepers who were replaced in the late 50's had looked after this lighthouse for about 170 years - generation after generation.

The work was important and they were well compensated (stg 95 pa) and the keeper had a large house - 11 children in one family it seems!  The photo shows the workshop on an upper floor, the lamp glasses were stored and cleaned regularly.  The lamps are very similar to the kerosene lamps we used in Malawi in our early years for house lighting before we had electricity. The lighthouse used seven such lamps on a turn-table.

Cape Spear also had gun emplacements during WWII, using guns (see photo) manufactured in the US in 1896, firing a 200kg shell several miles.  The gun mechanisms (no longer there) raised and lowered the gun barrel when firing so that it could shoot over the emplacement.

Cape Spear was also an important post for sighting enemy ships - St. John's being a harbour everyone wanted to control for access to fishing.  Cape Spear looks right across to Signal Hill in St. John's.

The lighthouse area was edged with steep cliffs and a very rocky shore.  Rolling waves as steep as the cliffs lunged at the barriers and foamed thick cream over the layers of rock and into the crevices.  I was entranced and quite overcome by the sight.  It seems the photos of this majestic assailant got lost somehow and the one here shows only a glimpse of the actual action.

We hiked further around the cliff
on a trail that went out to the point and back round to the lighthouse.  The layers of rock were almost step-like and between the steps, terraces on which grasses had taken root. 

While the camper was serviced, we wandered the lower town and harbour.  This Russian cruise ship is rusting at the dock & must have been abandoned some years ago - somebody is paying for that!

In the evening, we joined a local  group of Scottish dancers in St John's - very welcoming and good fun.  

After the group had left, we stayed in the church parking lot for the night - although it was right by the road, there was almost no traffic noise till morning.  And very convenient!

We set off next morning for the ferry at Portes aux Basques.  No stops except for tea and snacks - it was a 900 km trip and Richard has found we get much better gas mileage at 85 instead of 100 - the speed limit on most roads.   Arrived at Portes aux Basques at 9:30 - pitch dark.  Searched for somewhere to eat and found a pizza place - our first on this trip and, except for the lobster, the best restaurant meal we have had.  Fantastic pizza.  If you ever go to Portes aux Basques, go to Pizza Delight :-)

We joined the ferry line-up and before we had a chance to eat our pizza, there was an announcement about boarding.  It was 10 o'clock and departure time was 11:45, but... We scrambled to eat quickly and were then waiting for another 45 minutes before our line moved.  Oh well...

The ferry was very full and bunks and reserved seats all taken.  We were lucky to find two seats together.  Snuggled into our sleeping bags, reclined the seats and dozed/slept till arrival - or nearly till then.

First stop in North Sydney was the rust-proofing place.  The owner was a friendly man who has had this business for 35 years.  He rents trucks and U-Hauls.   He told us about a recent customer.  The wife weighed 600 lbs and could not walk unaided.  The couple had sold their home in Sydney, raising about $300,000 and planned to go to Abbotsford to buy a house and live there.  They had no idea, he said, what it would cost them, and no idea even what it would cost to cross the country.  The worst part of his encounter with them was trying to get the woman in the truck.  He was supposed to push her from behind while her husband tried to pull her in from the front.  Impossible.  They had a car which had been modified to make space for her and in the end, the car was put on the trailer with her in it and the trailer was pulled by the UHaul.  All the way across Canada??   The owner and his helper claimed to have watched her eat a turkey by herself and then share a Kraft dinner with her husband.  Sad to say the least.

Well, we were in Nova Scotia and en route to Halifax.  Dreary weather and vey foggy so we took the very long scenic route along the coast.   Hoped it would clear up.  It did, for a couple of hours and we stopped for tea and a dip in the Atlantic.
As usual, I got in first :-) and flapped around for a couple of minutes and then was able to take a photo of Richard who, of course, went in as well.  Can't say we "swam" in the Atlantic, but we got in for a dip anyway.

Stopped for the night at Canso campsite - no wi-fi but good laundry and great showers.  Halifax bound tomorrow!

No comments:

Post a Comment