Thursday, August 4, 2022
St John to Bonavista, NL
Cumulative miles: 3,682
Dreary and misting in the morning, clear later, low 70s
We were on the road by 8:45 and much of our day was on Canada’s Rt 1, the Trans Canada Highway, usually referred to as TCH. Small ponds were everywhere and were interspersed with flat, rocky land. Fog was an element during the early part of the drive, especially in the high areas. Later on the road became pretty rough with frequent signs that needlessly warned us of pot holes.
When we got to our campground, Paradise Farm RV Park, we had a site overlooking a lovely pond. It even had a small dock for people to launch their kayaks. After setting up we checked out the Bonavista area. It had a picturesque harbor with numerous commercial fishing boats. and we walked a short section of a shoreline trail admiring the rocky shoreline.
Out on the point, a couple of kilometers away, was a lighthouse that we drove to. Off the parking lot a well worn path lead us toward the points convoluted shore and a high, craggy area. The area was truly spectacular for its precipitous drop offs. Light fog was coming in off the water and it felt like we were in another world with vertical, craggy drops to the water. I felt like I was somewhere inside the adventures of Frodo the hobbit.
Returning to camp, we prepared a dinner of fresh gluten-free linguini with sautéed asparagus, onions and red pepper in a red sauce. After dinner, Sandy played Mexican Train with our gang while Bill joined a card game.
Friday, August 5, 2022
Mid 80s, very windy, chilly at night
Today the group drove around to multiple historic venues in and around Bonavista beginning with the Ryan Premises & Museum, which depicted the long and continuing history of the cod fishing industry in Newfoundland. Included was a demonstration of the complicated process of cleaning, salting and drying the fish to get it ready to ship around the world.
The Matthew Legacy features a full scale reproduction of John Cabot’s ship that he used to explore this area. The ship was sailed on her own bottom from England. She actually sits in the water, partially supported by a crib which is housed in a tall, purpose built building. We joined many other people poking around the workings of the ship, admiring the ingenuity of some of the design elements.
The Mockbeggar Plantation group of buildings is thought to be the oldest fishery plantation in Newfoundland and one of its buildings, built about 1733, may be the oldest surviving structure on the Newfoundland coast. The buildings served many purposes over time, including salt fish store, salmon packing house, salt store, fish dryer, barter shop, a residence, temporary Methodist church and Salvation Army headquarters.
A number of us stopped for lunch at the Bonavista Bicycle Picnics & Café. It was a small restaurant with seating on the beach. Oh, and you could rent bicycles to tour the area.
The Cape Bonavista Lighthouse, which we’d walked around, was on the list and we admired it again with members of our group. This time we were able to go inside the light to see how the light keeper and his family lived. Of special interest to me was the light, itself, which featured reflector lights instead of the Fresnel lens installations one usually finds.
Last on the list was Dungeon Provincial Park which featured an interesting formation that resulted from a cave along the rocky shore that had two entrances. Eventually, the roof of the cave collapsed resulting in a pond with two cave entrances to the sea.
As we returned to the campground we stopped at Foodland to purchase a few groceries and at a tiny fish shop to purchase some fresh cod. We poached the cod in some salsa and ate it accompanied by steamed broccoli.
It started to get pretty cold that evening.
Saturday, August 6, 2022
Cumulative Mileage: 3,823
Partly cloudy, clearing late in the morning with a high in the low 70s
Oh, boy … more Puffins!
Leaving the campground at 8:45, the group drove to Elliston. Although you see them occasionally, Elliston features numerous root cellars. Dug into hillsides with heavy doors, the rooms stayed cool all summer and didn’t freeze over winter so they were used to help preserve stored foods.
More important to us, there is a small island close to shore where many puffins have colonized. It was said that, if you visit early in the day you sometimes find puffins on the mainland but we weren’t that lucky. However, the island where they nest is only a few hundred feet from where we stood, so we got a pretty good look at them and even a few decent photos. (Had to brace the telephoto carefully) We really enjoyed watching them.
Next stop was the John C. Crosbie Sealer’s Interpretative Center. The center documented the sealing industry and how the seals were captured. It was brutal, not only for the seals but for the people who did the work. It was impossible for most people to make a living just by fishing. As was often the case everywhere, people purchased food and supplies on credit from a company and were paid in credits to the company. They often didn’t earn enough credit to pay off their debt at the end of a season. Since they couldn’t fish over winter, men then sought positions on sealing ships.
The ships went out among ice floes looking for colonies of seals. When they spotted seals the men jumped off the ship and jumped from ice floe to ice floe to capture and kill seals and then drag them back to the ship. The work was exceedingly dangerous and, on top of that, there were no real accommodations for the workers who often had to sleep on top of that day’s kill. The Center featured a number of old documentary films made of that work. It was sobering to view them and reminded us of the importance of workers cooperatives, unions and legislated workers rights.
Between stops, Sandy, Nan and I took a short hike on the Murphy’s Cove Trail in Trinity Bay. The trail worked its way through some woods and over a bit of slick rock before coming out on the water. Lovely views and I played around making a few flower photos without much success.
Finally we visited the Port Union Historical Site. The site celebrated the advocacy of Sir William Croaker for the fishermen of Newfoundland. Among his accomplishments he published a newspaper that provided fishing news and prices being paid for fish and organized cooperatives to purchase supplies for fishermen and to market their catch. He built housing, encouraged the railroad to service the area and even set up a hydroelectric facility to provide power.
That evening Barry & Terri made pork BBQ, green beans and coleslaw for the group. They even provided gluten-free brownies for dessert!