Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Newfoundland 2019 Post #1

Newfoundland Journey 2019 — Post #1

I'm on a two-month journey to Newfoundland. Like Last year, my goal here is to post some stories, words and pictures, to document my trek to the Rock. 
You can click on any picture in the blog to blow it up. This year I'm shooting with my Nikon D800 and the new Nikon Z7, so if there's any quality issue, it's on me not the hardware! Most of the pictures will be available as large format prints at very reasonable cost. Contact me.


Zero photos (so far). I'm in Montmagny, QC, my targeted first night stop. Long day — about 10 hours drive. Somewhere around Brockville, the "Check Engine" light came on and disabled the cruise control. I've been having some issues, Subaru can't figure out what's going on. Nothing's open (Canada Day) so I figured tomorrow I'd find a dealer in New Brunswick and get it reset but like magic, when I got back in the car after a pee-break (TMI, I know!) around Quebec City, it reset itself. Here's hoping.

I keep telling myself I have to speak with more people. Here's what happened today. Driving into Montmagny, I hit a closed road, shut down for Canada Day celebrations. I speak some French but not at the speed the person directing traffic was speaking: and the accent! Pure joual (oxymoron!) too. A guy walked over and gave me directions in passable English. In the course of the conversation, I learned that he picked up English because he's a motorcycle collector and has to do deals in English, especially in the US! The pride and joy of his collection is a mint 1926 Indian.

I told him I'm an ex-motorcyclist/instructor. In passing I said I remember meeting a collector somewhere North of Kingston years ago and had a tour of his 'museum'. So this guy said, "Oh, Barry Brown. I saw him last week. His collection's grown, he has a bike dating back over 100 years that he's selling for $200,000."

We used to call that "Zen-Spotting". Meeting someone you know or one degree of separation away in a totally remote place. The Zen reference dates back to running into a fellow Zen Rider member in the middle of nowhere, hundreds of miles from home!

Every time I make the effort to speak with someone, a story results. There's a message here...

There are supposed to be fireworks tonight down at the marina. If I can stay awake, I'll try to get down there for some pictures. Stay tuned...

There were in fact some fireworks, plus a local band and food and beer and picnic... I took a few shots.

Nova Scotia:

Skipping ahead a couple of days, mostly spent driving. I overnighted in Moncton, NB then headed for Cape Breton in Nova Scotia. I spent the night at a B&B in Ingonish Beach (lousy bed, too high, too soft. But that's just me. BTW the NS Tourism people are the best: stop at a roadside info centre and they'll find you a place to stay!) then I drove the Cabot Trail loop, including a side trip up to Meat Cove. 

It's been a long time since I did this loop, worth every moment. If you can't make Newfoundland, at least go here. If you're on motorcycle, even better! And hint, drive the trail counter-clockwise, you see the scenery much better that way. A few highlight shots:

Lobster fishermen in Ingonish Harbour preparing the boat and the bait to go out. They leave around 3am, tend their traps and get back around 10 the next morning. They also pointed me at the best local restaurant in the area. 

Up around Bay St. Lawrence, this mail carrier told me he looked down to see where the next piece of mail was supposed to be delivered, then looked up and... nobody hurt, car was right on its side before he righted it, his buddy George was on his way with a truck to haul him out. 

The road to Meat Cove is mostly dirt, but they pave the steep sections, for winter I guess. This is a superbly motorcycle friendly section and you can see Cape Breton's awesome scenery. 

Newfoundland at last!

I got to North Sydney a little early, had a bite to eat, then headed for the ferry terminal. If you're going to take the ferry, here are a few insights:

  • If you're there early, your car's going to end up on "Deck 1" which is the lower sub-basement of the boat. You don't want that. First of all, they make you do all kinds of weird manoeuvres to squeeze in, including U-turns and parallel parking. Second you're the last one off the boat at the other end. Tell them at the booth, "I don't want to be on Deck 1" and they'll try to accommodate you.
However I was still too early so found myself at the front of the third line which would have put me down there. A friendly attendant let me move to a holding area (with people who had pets in their cars, so they wanted to help them disembark early). It was frustrating sitting and waiting there because you end up being the last cars loaded. However they put us on Deck 3 amid the transport trucks and we ended up being the first off the boat! Ask nicely...
  • For  $20 extra, you get reserved seating in a private area on Deck 9 (the top!). You get a reclining airline type seat (although there's something wrong with the shape, so it's really not fantastically comfortable. Better than sitting on a regular seat, though). Hint: it gets cold sleeping through the night (if you can!). They have blankets if you ask, but I brought my own. I also brought some Tim-Bits for breakfast instead of lining up at 6 am for an exorbitant brekkie. Timmie's is right next to the ferry terminal, you can walk over after you park.
  • Gas is 20¢ cheaper in NS than in NL. Fill up before you board. And the ONLY gas on the TCan is 28km up the road, and they don't open until 8am. So much for being first off the boat!

My first planned stop was Codroy Provincial Park beach where I knew there were endangered Piping Plovers, I'd shot them in previous years and if you look in the dictionary under "cute" there's pictures of plover chicks! I was too early for chicks, though, I think, because I saw a bird still nesting.

I saw and reported a banded bird and got an email answer back from Research Canada a few days later. Remember Piping Plovers are an endangered species.

Glenn – thanks! White flag AJ was marked as a chick in S NS (Louis Head), and seen that fall in NB and FL Atlantic; not seen last summer (often they don’t nest as yearlings so we may not see them); seen spring 2019 in GA, and has spent the summer at Codroy Valley Prov Park, although I don’t know if she has actually nested.

Arjuna and Jacqui were there, just winding up their trip. They were flying out of St. John's in a few days and had to get under way. We had a quick brekkie, then I headed for Stephenville where I was spending the night. Pretty tired from lack of sleep on the ferry, I took a quick afternoon nap then headed out to my next planned spot, Cape St. George on the Port au Port peninsula.

Tim Horton's first, of course. Just an observation: it seems everywhere you go, your nostrils are assailed these days with the smell of burning oregano. Oh, wait, it isn't oregano... just hoping these folks don't hop in their car and drive high. I used that incident as the basis for a short story I started yesterday (or maybe chapter 1 of a novel... we'll see).

On the way there, I stopped at Hidden Falls. We'd been there before but couldn't see the falls. Um, I parked, got out of the car and there, straight ahead of me... Too far for a good photo but I gave it a shot with the ND filter on the 200mm lens.

Cape St. George was outstanding. Not the town, BTW: the campground right on the point. I had been hoping for a sunset and wasn't disappointed. Not only were there lots of birds flying around, but I spent quite some technical time putting together some hi-tech shots.

This was an HDR pano, comprising 5 sets of 3 shots stitched together in Lightroom and then I added some finishing touches with Topaz Studio. This is going to be a VERY large print! 

Not quite so complicated, this is a merge of 3 bracketed shots in order to capture the sunset colours and detail, and the cloud patterns. 

Sunset silhouette. I left the third person in the image because I thought it adds to the story. If you haven't noticed, this is my new (for now!) blog header photo.

Next morning, I headed up the coast towards Port au Choix, where I spent two nights en route to the North end of the Western Peninsula.  On the way, I stopped at the Arches park, where I found this interesting crow and later, along the route, this Common Eider duck. Common for some, new on my lifer list!

Why am I tempted to caption this, "Counting Crows"? 

That's enough for now! To be continued in the next edition of the Blog. Stay tuned...

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