Monday, September 04, 2017

Newfoundland Wrapup (#7)

It's taken me longer than I thought to get to this post, my apologies, loyal readers! And I probably should have split this into two posts, but as long as I was writing...

I spent 3 days in the Cape St. Mary area in the vain hope that the fog would dissipate and I'd be able to return to the Gannet rock. The port in St. Brides, which I could have seen from my motel had it not been foggy was quiet but a few boats came in to unload their catch of cod, guided by the plaintive call of the foghorn every 30 seconds. It is a small port, boats ganged up 2 by 2 on the pier, manned by hard men and brash teenage lads, some of whom captained their own boats. All of whom took the time to share a friendly moment with a photographer "from away", in typical Newfoundlander fashion.

The young lad in the blue shirt captains the black boat in the previous picture. It must be a family thing because a lot of boats had "Dohey's" in the name 

Crowded port. These boats docked with inches to spare. 

Room for 3 more boats on this side of the pier 

Cod fishing is still a "thing" in Newfoundland but quotas are restrictive for commercial boats, and strictly enforced. The Ministry of Fisheries is present when the catch is weighed in 

I shot a couple of abstracts while waiting for the weather to clear

With the winds in Newfoundland, drying clothes is a breeze. I'll bet very few houses boast a clothes dryer! 

In the afternoon, I took a drive. For groceries, if nothing else: there's nothing in St. Brides. You swoop along pothole-strewn Route 100 up hills above the clouds and back down in the fog to isolated sea-level coves, each with an name like "Ship Cove" or "Great Barasway", some of them boasting several houses but most with just one or two. Topping a last rise you come into the surprisingly large town of Placentia.

The newly renovated Sir Ambrose Shea lift bridge is raised about 2400 times per year to allow boats access through the "Gut" to the safe Northeast Arm. There's lots of signage and stories about the cable and mechanically drawn ferries that used to be the only way to cross this dangerous channel. Colourful buildings dot the landscape as usual. 

 The whole lower side of that town is built at sea level and back half a century ago, there was a huge storm that caused a huge amount of flooding. Afterward, the city built a large walkway cum seawall, probably several kilometers long. People told me they're going to get inundated one day anyway, and they couldn't understand how major companies like Canadian Tire and Loblaws would build facilities on a flood plain!

...and of course they love their churches on the Rock. This is actually a Roman Catholic one. Probably because although Placentia was probably founded by Basque fishermen in the 16th century, the French took it over in the mid-17th century and the remnants of their culture is still strong.

This too, by the way, would be under water on occasion if it wasn't for the extensive seawall. 

Nearing the end of my Newfoundland trip I started to feel a little burned out. But I had planned the last days so I could go back and revisit the Cape St. George peninsula, since when I saw it originally on Day 1 I had rushed around it in order to get to Twillingate for the night.

My plan was to drive from Cape St. Mary to Stephenville where I had booked a couple of nights at the interesting-sounding "Dreamcatcher Motel". Although it was a long drive, I allowed myself a couple of stops on the way.

The Heritage Warplane Museum in Gander had some nice flowers planted around it.  Some interesting planes too but nothing I haven't shot before.

I took the time to stop in a town called King's Point just to see what was there. It was another picturesque fishing town. They promised whales but they lied!

Just before the thunderstorms I had been playing tag with all day caught up to me.  

Stephenville is an interesting larger town right on the ocean. There's a long, flat beach along the Western edge where people camp – in Newfoundland you can basically camp anywhere you want – so there were a number of motorhomes and RV's set up.

Gathering firewood at dusk, then at the fire an hour later. These folks toasted me, "may ye be in Heaven before the Devil knows yer dead". There's a lot of Irish heritage here. 

If you looked at a map you would see that the "Port au Port" peninsula extends from Stephenville into the Gulf of the St. Lawrence. The edges of the peninsula are rugged eroded cliff faces until you reach the western end where it's really just flats dotted with small fishing villages.

Most of the beaches consist of rocks polished smooth by the endless tumbling action of the North Atlantic waters 

On the very tip of the Port au Port peninsula is Cape St. George. From the park high on the point you look down on the crashing waters. Seabirds are ever-present, from murrs to cormorants, all varieties of gulls, terns and Northern Gannets that nest further up the coast. 

There were some sandy areas as well, in protected coves 

I wanted to stick with it but it was time to go home. I was heading for the ferry at Port aux Basques but I had some hours to kill, so I took a random turnoff from the TCH and ended up in an area called "Codroy". Little did I know it is a well-known birding area!

Here's a Willet getting quite vocal! 

Spotted Sandpiper posing for his portrait 

I walked out on a flat at low tide. I discovered that the terns were nesting in an embankment there, and they REALLY didn't want me there. I came under attack! Fortunately I had chosen to wear my Tilley hat and a Cabela's jacket because they attack with a vengeance! High speed assaults to within a few inches of you and they are extremely accurate with their primary weapon, bird poop! First things to hit the laundry when I got home!

This guy actually threw that fish at me. Hit me right in the hat! 

Across the road was a sand beach and it was marked as a protected Piping Plover nesting area

With my 600mm lens and cropped sensor body, I didn't need to get close to get good pictures. I tried not to disturb them much but you could tell that papa plover was trying to lure me away from the nesting area.

With good reason. These chicks couldn't have been more than a couple of days old! I watched one of them running around, constantly stumbling and falling down!


This has to be the definition of "cute"! 

Closing shot of the day. My regular followers would also know that I did an oil painting on canvas based on this shot.  I'll post it in the next edition of the blog so if you want to be sure to see it, click on the newsletter link in the upper right corner of this blog. No spam will come your way.

With that, I boarded the ferry and left my island paradise in the North Atlantic. I really hope to get back there and maybe even acquire a property there for summer use (I was going to say something about winter, but no offence to my Newfoundland friends, you have to be mad to spend winters there!).

After a month on the Rock, the seascapes of Cape Breton and the Cabot trail held little attraction for me. After a cursory look at the Inverness beach and a stop at the Glen Breton Scotch Whisky distillery (they now have a 25-year old. It's only $750 for a bottle!), I turned West and headed for home. 

Inverness, Nova Scotia.
That was the last shot before home. One other notable thing was the best chocolate milkshake I've had in 50 years, at a truck stop restaurant attached to an Irving gas station near the airport in Fredericton, NB. Almost worth driving 1000 miles back there!

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