From the first day we arrived on “The Rock”, we’ve commented on how hardy Newfoundlanders seem to be. We see them walking, jogging, and having a picnic in weather we would not consider suitable at all. Much more than their dialect lets us easily separate them from fellow tourists. While we’re bundled up with toques and scarves, they’re outdoors in sandals and short-sleeves.
We’ve been battling the elements. Three elements especially: Wind, Rain, and Cold. Some days, all three at once. Add in an emergency trip to the dentist this week, and you’ll see why it’s been a week where we could have easily changed direction and headed directly home.
But I’m no sook! (Newfoundland slang for “suck” or “softie”.) Exploring Newfoundland at this time of year was a conscious decision on our part. Every local we talk to confirms that the weather is usually not this miserable in September. In fact, the one element we didn’t count on was “bad luck”. This is apparently a year when summer really lasted only one month here – August.
Weather and my toothache were making us wonder if we could continue even before we reached Saint John’s. But we did. We reached the farthest point east on this trip. In fact, the farthest east on any trip that’s possible in North America: Cape Spear.
So, of course, we had to get up in time to be on the cape (along with 15 other hardy souls) so we could be first on the continent to see the sun.
But the sun was a bit shy that day. The clouds parted only slightly; however, it was enough to let us know where to quickly point the camera. And one of those “we can say we did it” things. We are thankful as well as hardy!
We boondocked in the parking lot where we played the late great Ron Hynes tunes, including “Cape Spear”.
The day cleared enough to allow us to carry our umbrella (mostly folded) as we explored downtown St John’s. We discovered (without having to embarrass ourselves by asking) that “Jelly Bean Row” is not one street, but a general term describing the multi-colored housing on many streets in the city’s historic district.
We walked the two short blocks of George St, the city’s famed entertainment district, at the completely wrong time of day. We were silly enough to think we might find a pub where we could catch some afternoon entertainment. But I think we were the only people on this street in the middle of the afternoon. Not sure if that would be the case even in peak tourist season.
We had better luck in the city’s Quidi Vidi Village. The Quidi Vidi Brewing Company had a matinee with excellent entertainment (Newfoundland style), and served a most excellent IPA (my beer of choice – in case we meet sometime and you wanted to know). There was a lively mix of locals and tourists for conversation as well.
We had planned to splurge on a lovely restaurant meal in Saint John’s. Wouldn’t that be nice? But, by this time, chewing was much too painful for me: I had not enjoyed solid food for two days. A great IPA was as good as I could hope for. We stayed for two.
We spent three days in the city, always looking for options that kept us warm and dry. We toured the visitor center and citadel on Signal Hill.
We needed one more day of indoor activity here to make it to Monday when we hoped to find a dentist. Nothing like a great museum and The Rooms had been recommended. It was just the ticket. We even happened to hit it on a day when admission was free.
We enjoyed the definitions of some Newfoundland sayings we’ve heard over the 4 weeks we’ve been here.
We did get into a dentist and, although not solved, we have a temporary solution: drugs. We’re soldiering on and will continue the trip. (I’m no sook!)
We made our way around the Bonavista Peninsula as planned. Too bad the weather was still cold and wet most of the time.
Another very pretty town: Trinity. Tourist-oriented and rather quiet at this time of year, but it always amazes me that we can camp for free and still wander the same streets, see the same scenery, and visit the same cafes (if they’re not already closed for the season) that those who pay $150 or more per night for accommodation come here for.
We hiked the famed Skerwink Trail, despite the cold and rainy day. It was nice but we both agreed it might not deserve the reputation of being one of the best in the province. Of course, we’ve hiked so many great coastal trails here now that maybe our ability to judge is impaired. The weather may have affected our judgment, too.
The weather was still perfect for indoor exploration. We never thought we’d include so many museums! The one in Port Union, the only North American town built by a union, was impressive. Randy was particularly impressed with all the perfectly-preserved machinery that was involved in printing a newspaper.
We got a private guided tour. In fact, by mid-day we were the only visitors they had that day. And at a nationally-funded historic site!
We weren’t as lucky at the next stop, in Bonavista, where the Ryan Premises had closed for the season a few days earlier.
We did brave the cold for some more outdoor activity this week, too.
Root cellars are common all over Newfoundland, many of them are still used by the locals in this part of the province where there are hundreds scattered along the hillsides. They are just harvesting their winter vegetable gardens to fill them now.
It got so cold at night that we did something we rarely do: we paid for camping even though there were many pleasant boondocking options available – just so we could have the luxury of plugging into electric to keep our furnace running all night. It made us reconsider adding a generator – something we’ve never felt we needed.
We’re now moving west and south, back to the ferry to return to Nova Scotia. We had planned to stay another week and reach Cape Breton just in time for the Celtic Colors Festival. We’ll be there early, at this rate, but there’s little point in delaying now. Even in Cape Breton, weather (and my ability to enjoy food again) will determine whether we cut the trip short or not.
We may have been “screeched-in” as Newfies, and we’re trying not to be “sooks”, but we must admit we’re also not hardy enough to be true Newfoundlanders.
- Total days on the road: 38
- Total camping costs: $75.00