Song of the Iceberg – St. John’s Newfoundland (and Bay de Verde, Dildo and points in between – Day Four)

My first trip to St. John’s was in late September, beautiful and still quite warm. One of the local shopkeepers told me that June would be a great time to come for my next visit. She told me that June was generally the confluence of iceberg, whale watching and puffin seasons.  While I’d love to see puffins and whales, I was intrigued with the thought of seeing icebergs. Now it’s never guaranteed when and if icebergs will make their way down to St. John’s, I did my research. Often they would stall farther up, or if the weather was warmer, they could end up considerably smaller than when they started by the time they got that far down.

I’d seen pictures of massive icebergs getting grounded near the mouth of the harbour, or travelling past Cape Spear and then I’d heard of years where you’d be lucky to see any bergy bits or growlers from the shore. We thought about taking one of the boat tours, but I chickened out, the day we’d planned to do it the wind was quite impressive and I pictured myself curled up on the bottom of the boat quite green.  Instead we armed ourselves with the internet, namely which tracks active bergs  (in season) via spotters and satellite and planned a road trip up the Bay de Verde peninsula to see if we couldn’t spot a berg or two.

We’d plotted a few potential stops along the way that had reports of a berg, but even that is not necessarily guaranteed as there may not be a good (or easily accessible) viewing spot, or the berg may have collapsed, melted or moved on by the time you get there.

Still, we figured at the worst we’d get to see a lot more of the beautiful Avalon than we would staying put in the city (which was no hardship) and icebergs or not, we’d enjoy the drive.

Now, where I’m from, I’m used to signs warning of wildlife on the roads, but generally it’s deer. Down in Oregon we’ve seen warning signs for elk. This was our first moose warning.


Our first potential iceberg location was in a town called Harbour Grace. As it turned out, the berg was no longer there when we arrived, but we stumbled across some neat local history in the harbour. A statue of Amelia Earhart celebrating her amazing accomplishment of being the first female to fly solo across the Atlantic, on a flight that originated from, you guessed it, Harbour Grace.



We drove on, stopping here and there but had no luck. We finally spotted our first small iceberg, I couldn’t tell you where, but it was exciting to finally spot one and encouraged us to keep travelling up to Bay de Verde where spotters had located some a wee bit larger.

And on the way back, we planned to stop in Dildo (yes we’re immature enough to have a giggle at that name) to have our dinner at the Dildo Dory.

Sure enough, there were a couple of bergs in the bay (yays!) and we found a place to park and walked down to the harbour to get a closer look.


They were still a ways from shore, thank goodness for zoom lenses! Far away or not though, they were a thrilling sight!



We continued down the other side of the peninsula passing through more charming towns with even more charming names, especially the triple hearts of Heart’s Content, Heart’s Desire and Heart’s Delight. And then, you know. Dildo.

Sadly the Dildo Dorry Grill was closed for renovations or something, so we snapped a few photos of the beautiful sights and moved along.


We were hungry and needed to find another option for dinner. Someone from Tom’s work had suggested eating at a Ches’s Famous Fish & Chips, so we Googled the closest and headed there. It was a smallish location, only a few tables, but we were lucky to get a seat. We ordered and were asked if we wanted dressing and gravy (and we both said yes please) and wow what generous portions and most delish! Highly recommend for anyone heading to NFLD.



Another fabulous day in this fabulous Province.

Posted in travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Winds Gotta Blow – St. John’s Newfoundland (Day Three)

We woke on our second morning to a sunny but gusty day. We really played it by ear what we’d do and see each day, based on the weather and our own level of energy, really the best holidays aren’t ones full of schedules and timelines.

We agreed that it would be a good day to go to Cape Spear which is the farthest you can go east on the continent and home to a historic lighthouse. You can see Cape Spear from the top of Signal hill and vice-versa and I’d wanted to go there since last year.

We stopped in BlackHead Village and admired the view taking a few pictures and then stopping at a local tourist shop. It was run by a lovely lady who lives right behind the store. When we walked in she was in her home and saw us arrive. She came and pointed out a few items and chatted with Tom while I poked around. I ended up getting a couple of crafted necklaces, one for me and one for my mother made of sea glass. The people of Newfoundland are incredibly friendly and honestly seem interested in the answers you give to their questions about where you’re from etc.

Signal Hill/ Fort Amherst Lighthouse in the distance at the mouth of the St. John’s harbour as seen from BlackHead Village


We hopped back in the car and drove the rest of the way to Cape Spear, parked and made a beeline for the water’s edge and as we made our way to the water I kept looking back towards the lighthouses and the old keeper’s residence up the hill from where we were.


The view was nothing short of breathtaking, simply gorgeous. Pictures just will never do it justice.


It isn’t just how it looks, its how it makes you FEEL. The knowledge that you’re standing at the tip of the continent in such a historical place, the power of the Atlantic ocean churning below you, the sun on your face and the whip of wind in your hair.

There were plenty of reminders to respect the unpredictability of the ocean, the danger of being swept off the rocks and fences to try to keep people out of the worst of it. While we were there two people with cameras were on the wrong side of the fence… so not worth it!



I was enjoying the bracing wind, even though it played havoc with every attempt to keep it secured in a ponytail…


Tom found it a little uh, chilly…


As we made our way up the hill towards the newer lighthouse, the marine layer that always seems to hover offshore somewhere decided to make its way inland. We saw it creep ever closer as the sun tried its best to fight back.

DSC_1755 DSC_1760

The old lighthouse is so cheerfully coloured and set back from where the more modern lighthouse sits now and comes with an amazing panoramic view.




We stopped in the store and picked up a few more souvenirs including what is now my favourite mug and a little wooden replica of the 1836 lighthouse magnet for the fridge.


On the way back to St. John’s we stopped to take a few more pictures in the town of Petty Harbour before heading back to relax at our temporary home for a while.

When dinnertime rolled around yet again, we decided to do a bit of a walk about admiring the jelly beans in the sunshine…


…and then head down towards the down-town core. We were going to try to see if the crowd at Yellowbelly was a little less dense and luckily we managed (barely!) to get a table.


Tom was impressed not only by the spaghetti  and meatballs with the enormous noodles, but also the generous wine pours.

My ham <3

Grateful for the walk back including those hills to burn off dinner (urp) we headed back home to  take a look through our day’s pictures and enjoy some  more nice wine.  So happy that there were still many more days of adventures ahead.


Posted in travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Newfoundland Rain – St. John’s Newfoundland (Day Two)

Our first full day in St. John’s brought rain. It wasn’t sprinkly rain, it was RAIN rain. We knew the week overall looked pretty good weather-wise, so we took this as a sign that it should be an indoor day.


There were a few things the local Sobeys’ didn’t have so we hopped in the car and headed for Mount. Pearl to the Dominion’s. There are many roads around town that are crazy with potholes it’s even hard to see them when they’re full of water. I guess it was a side-effect of the previous winter. I don’t think it was long before our arrival that the last of the snow melted.


There is where I found what are now my favourite jersey cotton pyjama pants by Joe Fresh. I bought just the one pair at first, which turned into a half-dozen in different patterns by trip’s end. I should mention that I bought another 17 by mail order (half of which are still in packages as back-up pjs). I’ve learned my lesson from Tom, if you find something you like, buy more and keep them! Especially when they’re on sale…

When we got back from our drive, I surfed and read a book, Tom did something completely out of character and took a nap…heh. I can’t even count how many pictures I have like this from over the years haha.


When our stomachs started to growl, we decided to take a walk over to Pi, the pizza place that had served me so well on my last trip (as it was so close to my hotel back then).


Pizza is always a good travel option because a good pizza means good leftovers for lunch the next day…


And any place that has a poster like this is A-okay by me.IMG_5074

Posted in travel | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Heaven By Sea – St. John’s Newfoundland (Day one)

Have you ever fallen in love with a place at first sight? I did, last year when I went to St. John’s Newfoundland for a work trip. I had this overwhelming feeling that I belonged there, even though I’ve lived my entire life on the opposite coast.  Now with that feeling, came the desire to share the place with Tom. He’d heard me talking about it for so long he was game to going and checking it out, so we planned a week’s vacation. When I was there, I spent the better part of daylight hours working, so I didn’t get a chance to explore much. This trip would be different.

To make it even more special, we decided to rent a ‘Jelly Bean’ rowhouse and found a terrific one though VRBO. We’ve taken to renting houses rather than staying in resorts/hotels for the last few years to minimize the amount of ‘stuff’ we have to bring with us by having access to our own laundry facilities, a kitchen to store our breakfast/lunch stuff (and wine of course) and not sharing a bathroom like we do at home. There is also the elbow-room we get from having a whole house, no matter how big or small. It makes it feel a much more homey experience overall.

To get as much vacation bang for our buck, we booked a red-eye flight on a Friday evening after work. Even though I was exhausted, I just couldn’t sleep during the flight. Something about airplane air circulation that makes me feel like I’m lacking oxygen when I’m sleeping. I looked around jealously at all the people around me passed out while I was watching yet another movie. We switched planes in Tdot in the morning and landed in St. John’s around lunchtime on a bracingly cool but blue skied day. It’s a pretty small airport so we were quickly in baggage claim, I went to wait for the bags, while Tom got in line to pick up our rental car. They had run out of the small car we booked, so Tom ended up with a Dodge Charger, bright red too ha!

I stood outside listening to locals speaking with each other near the smoking shelter either waiting for family to pick them up, or waiting for their flight off the island. I couldn’t help but smile and feel that little surge of happiness that we were finally there and I got to hear those wonderful accents again.

Tom had written down driving directions to find our rental house, but we got a bit muddled and ended up driving in circles a bit until he found the best way around so he would be parked on the right side of the street. The house came with street parking (using a special pass which was only valid for the block the house was on) and as the house was on a quite steep hill (steeper still at the top), all I could think of was thank goodness it wasn’t me parallel parking that big car. I think we’d still be there trying to park even now!

The owner of the house had left a key to the place in the mail box, not something we’d ever think to do here! We brought all of our stuff in and then headed out to pick up the groceries and wine of course.

The house still had a lot of the original Victorian detail and of course those creaky narrow staircases. I cannot even imagine trying to get furniture up them! It was even a challenge bringing up our (still over-packed even with laundry facilities) suitcases.

Here are some shots of the inside of the house. The kitchen was modern and separated from the living/dining space by the brick fireplace. They looked to be two separate rooms as one point, but the walls on either side of the fireplace/chimney were opened up to make the lower floor more spacious.



I especially loved the entrance with the stained glass…


The master encompassed the entire top floor, with a sitting area and a pretty large bathroom. Tom took that one, while I took the bathroom on the second floor.


After running our errands we set out to forage for food downtown with a quick stop to gaze out at the view of the harbour. It was still really windy so the boats as well as the floating docks were swaying away in the water.


We didn’t have any particular destination and found ourselves outside the Yellowbelly Brewery, but it was packed so we decided to leave it for another day and ate at the Celtic Hearth restaurant. Tom and cod ‘n chips and I had a yummy lobster mac ‘n cheese. Sooooo rich I barely put a dent in it, but THE most lobster I’ve ever had in a dish that wasn’t all lobster. Most places out our way are pretty stingy with lobster, so a total treat!


A meander back to our temporary home (puff puff) uphill helped to work off a bit of the after dinner bloat. We settled in for the evening to enjoy some wine and DVDs because we couldn’t figure out how to get the cable to work, ha! Good thing we brought some along. Problem was Tom thought we’d just started the season of Grey’s but turned out we were partway through and we’d run out. Oops.

It was a wonderful feeling knowing that I’d finally get a chance to explore more of this heaven by sea.

Posted in travel | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ten Years Gone

For some reason I clicked over to this long neglected website this morning and realized that it’s been a few days over ten years ago that I started it. Back then I was so full of enthusiasm I would sometimes write more than one entry a day and now, considering my last entry was December 20th of last year, not so much. In the beginning I blamed Facebook and Twitter, but I’ve been lazy there too lately.

Ah well, I still couldn’t let this auspicious (to me) occasion pass without some kind of acknowledgement.

Ten years ago I was creeping up on 40 and feeling old, now I’m eyeballing 50 and feeling pretty young. Perspective.

Ten years ago the boys were teenagers, now they’re both grown men and make me feel short. To me they’re still kids.

Ten years ago I worked for the same company that I’d been working for since I was 20, now I’m (almost) 2 years at a company that I wanted to work for while I was at my old job. Sometimes things just work out.

Ten years ago we weren’t quite a year in our current abode, now we’re fixing it up to leave it. Three words: I want dogs.

Ten years ago I was driving a brand new Freddy, now he’s Chris’ and still going strong, but parked outside on the street instead of a warm garage. I still feel guilty abandoning him, is that weird?

Ten years ago I was just two plus years into my new marriage, now it feels like we’ve been together forever (in a good way!) I know how lucky I am to be married to my very best friend.

Ten years ago I didn’t realize how fast ten years could go by, now time passing gives me whiplash. Who sped up the world?

So anyway, happy anniversary to that enthusiastic kid from 2005 from lazy ass 2015 me.

Posted in Mind dump | Leave a comment

The Places I have been – Haida Gwaii

After what seemed like an extra-brief (and shortened) weekend thanks to the delayed flight home from Halifax, I was off to Haida Gwaii bright and early the following Monday.

My visit wasn’t going to be at the ideal time of year to visit the islands, Fall and Winter can be very stormy up the north coast and I was warned that there was always a possibility of not being able to get on, or off the island when planned. Fortunately due to some scheduling changes I was able to go in early October rather than the two or three weeks later I was originally supposed to travel there. Still a good chance of storms though.

There are a couple of ways to travel to the main island, via Air Canada to Sandspit along with a ferry ride to Queen Charlotte City, or Pacific Coastal airlines to Masset. I opted to fly into Masset even though I’d be starting work in QCC, the drive is about 90 minutes give or take and the flight landed early, so plenty of daylight to find my way down island. I figured cutting an extra mode of transportation out lessened the likelihood that I’d end up stuck there as ferries often will pull service (for good reason) during storms and I didn’t want to miss a flight because of that.

The flights run out of the South terminal at YVR and I knew the plane would be a smaller prop job, but it was a couple of hours flight so I figured I could handle it. After so many years of flying now, I am getting MUCH better at it…

Tom dropped me off at the terminal and I checked in and wandered around the small terminal area until flight time. When the flight was finally announced we walked outside to the plane and clambered up the stairs. It was indeed a smaller plane, but not horribly so. One side of the aisle had single seats, the other double. I was one of the last to board so I ended up at the back of the plane near the bathroom (lucky lucky) in one of the double seats. After everyone was settled the flight attendant asked for a male volunteer from the back to come sit up in an empty seat near the front. The guy in the rear single seat agreed to go, so I hopped over into his seat and both my seatmate and I got to sit alone.


I buried myself in a book for the duration of the flight until I caught bits of land appearing below me, so I knew we were approaching our destination. At first smaller groups and then finally a larger landmass with a distinguishable coastline appeared in my window as I felt the plane start to descend.


After a perfect landing we all trudged towards the small terminal to retrieve our bags. I was to pick up the car I was being provided while on island at the check-in counter. I’d received confirmation that it was there and what to ask for, but still the lady I spoke to didn’t seem to know what I was talking about At first she thought I was picking up a rental car (which I understand can be difficult to guarantee without a reservation) but after a bit more explaining she went to check the office and thankfully came back with a key. It was for a much bigger vehicle that I’ve been driving lately, an SUV, so I approached with trepidation. But after driving it around the parking lot to get used to the feel, I figured I’d be perfectly fine, despite the somewhat soft brakes.

I snagged a quick picture of the terminal from the parking lot before I left.


There is a lack of Google street view on Graham Island, but I did take a peek on Google maps to get an idea of where I was facing distance wise, unfortunately for me I neglected to write down if I was to turn right or left when I reach the end of the airport road. I sat there for a minute and finally turned left.

I passed a few properties and then a golf course, I figured seeing that I was on the right path, that is until I reached two bridges with alternating traffic, then finally a dirt road that warned me to proceed at my own risk. Uh. No. So after wasting 20ish minutes going the wrong way, I turned around and went back to the airport to ask directions, hoping someone was still there. I mean this ISN’T a busy airport with lots of flights. Thankfully there was and when I inquired how to get to Queen Charlotte City, the gentleman told me to turn right and just keep going. See there is one main paved highway on the island. I commented on the lack of signs at the airport and I was told that most people know where they’re going.

When I mentioned that to one of the people I worked with later, they laughed and told me that it’s probably very true. Most of the people coming were coming home or visiting family especially that time of year. But as they’re looking for more tourism there were finally some road signs put in geared more towards the first time visitor. As I discovered though it was once you’d turned the right direction. Ah well.

Safely on the right road now I headed towards QCC. I saw a little traffic nearer to Masset, but once I had a few KM behind me there were long stretches where there was no-one in sight. Unfortunately I had the wrong cell provider as there was ZERO signal even in the cell coverage areas (which are basically just around the main areas of population) but nothing, no matter which in the stretch of road between the communities. Not great for safety! I was glad though that I was travelling during the day for both of my driving days.

I started to notice plenty of what I thought were fawns by the side of the road. It confused me a bit as I figured fawns would be seen in the spring. I found out later though from a local that they are in fact full-grown deer, just a smaller local variety and plentiful due to no real predator. They made me nervous though, I didn’t want to end up in a wreck due to a spooked deer. When I saw them I would slow the car down and prepare for one to dart. Needless to say I did this a lot so the drive took me longer than it would have otherwise. Turns out I was told later to not slow down as that is more likely to spook them, and to be more concerned about deer on the water side of the highway (where that was the case) as they were the more likely to dash across the road to the safety of the forrest. Good to know for my trip back to Masset.

I finally came to see water through the trees and I knew I was starting the approach to QCC. I finally started to see a few more cars and then as I pulled into Skidegate I knew I wasn’t that much farther from town. I came to a very confusing signpost and the road angled a bit. I wasn’t sure which way to go and saw a smaller sign that said Queen Charlotte on the right up a slight incline, so I followed it and ended up RIGHT back on the highway. Huh.

Fortunately I saw a ferry worker and asked which way to go to get to QCC, she probably thought me an idiot and pointed to her left. So that meant basically to go up and around the signpost not quite straight. Got it.

I was told to watch for the hospital sign to locate my guest house. I saw the sign and looked for the hospital which was a smallish building which looked to be under construction. Now as a city girl I was expecting a bigger city when I hear city, but it wasn’t a city like I know a city, it was a village. I saw the sign for where I was staying on the main road and headed up a VERY steep incline to get there. The place is owned by a lovely couple named Dorothy and Mike and they are also part of the local volunteer run SPCA so there were a number of cats and kittens in the main part of the house where I was staying.

After settling in I attempted to email Tom and let him know that I was safe in QCC. No dice. I couldn’t get a message to go through. Thinking it was maybe their wifi I tried a few places in town to find a phone card or something. It’s a small village and things are kind of spread out. I happened to come across a business area and found out the internet to the island was down and had been for a couple of hours. That is the reality there. One pipe in that everyone shares and when it’s down it’s down.

I decided to find somewhere to eat and while I was there the internet came back, I got the wi-fi password from my server and was finally able to get a message through. I warned Tom that it was likely we’d not get to Facetime or maybe even message while I was there. It looked like that was indeed going to be the case. The food in town was pretty good, even the pizza which I wasn’t too sure if I should try. Pizza is pretty hit and miss at best even in the big city. On my way back to my temporary home I passed a small liquor store under a bar and picked up a case of cider as it didn’t seem practical to get wine. I forgot how much I do like a dry apple cider.

Needless to say while staying at the guest house I had fun with the kittens, but there was one particular cat that I couldn’t help falling in love with. He was still up for adoption and unfortunately I hesitated a day, because it isn’t something I would do without discussing with Tom. He immediately started looking up how to get a pet on a flight and I went to ask Dorothy about Mister the cat. She sadly told me that he was just spoken for by a nurse from Masset who came originally to look at the remaining kitten, but fell in love with Mister instead. Boo!


She said the adorable taffy coloured kitten was still available, but knowing Cinny and the, well face it, bitch she can be, I wouldn’t want to subject a tiny kitten to her! He was ADORABLE though.


It rained a bit while I was in QCC, but no major storms had yet hit. One evening I was drawn outside by sound of someone singing while musicians played. It was a lovely haunting voice from somewhere down the street. The evening was dry and cool, so I sat on a chair on the deck and listened to the music and watched the clouds dance over the moon for a while.


Soon it was time to head back up island to Masset. I was going to go right to work when I got there (logistics had me needing to spend two full days in each village) but I wanted to start the drive after daylight. Wise decision as it turns out as there were even MORE deer on the drive back. At least I could see them. The weather had cleared and it was a bright sunny day with a few scattered clouds. Apart from almost being run off the road by a truck that came flying onto the highway from a logging road without stopping, it was faster drive back up.

After work I grabbed a bite to eat at a local place and had a burger and fries. The burger seemed a little more dense than I was used to, and someone said maybe it was deer. Uh. Hope not!

I eventually headed down to my accommodations, this time a guest house called the Copper Beech house which is owned by a writer named Susan Musgrave, but was run by a lovely lady whose name unfortunately has slipped my mind. She showed me to my room which had a separate entrance at the side of the house but was in the basement area. It was a very eclectic place to say the least, but I liked it. The bed was difficult to navigate in and out of without, well, scooting, but it was very nest-like and I slept like a LOG.



There were some interesting people there to say the least, an older man with long flowing hair with a pink streak and his much younger lady friend with a matching pink streak. He reminded me of Sean Connery from the Rock before he gets his hair cut. Anyway, nice enough couple and he was nice to chat to, but she was a bit more into the whole spiritual journey thing. He lived there for a time and the trip there was a birthday present for him to return to a place he loved, so a spiritual journey for him too. Even a lawyer who was staying there, flown in for court day on the island. When asked why I was there, I said for work and I basically wouldn’t ever be otherwise they all stared at me. Heathen!

I think the point of the place is to spend more time up in the common area and socialize, but that’s not my bag. I stayed in my room and watched movies on my laptop.

That night there was an amazing storm and wind and rain lashed my window most of the night, but I still slept great overall.

My second work day, I happened to run into a local artist named Wayne Edenshaw riding a bike past me. He was carrying a canoe paddle and asked if I was interested in buying it. He’d made it and it was very cool but a bit big of a souvenir to get into my case home. He asked if I was interested in seeing some of his signed prints and I said sure! I needed something to take back home and I hadn’t had any luck at the shops in QCC. I chose this hummingbird, it’s sitting on my mantle as we speak waiting for a frame. He said his background was part Haida and part Skidegate First Nations. After our chat he said “Háw’aa” for purchasing the print, which he explained was Haida for “Thank you” and that phrase has stuck with me (though I admit I googled the spelling)!


After I was done working my final day in Haida Gwaii, I went out for dinner with few local ladies I had worked with and had a great time.

After work was through I started to become desperate to get home, especially as there are no flights off the island on Saturday for PC airlines, so it meant I wouldn’t get to leave until Sunday. Now maybe for the adventurous type this would be a great opportunity, but that’s not me and as I started to hear that the weather was going to turn for the worse again, it meant a possibility of not being able to leave.

I attempted to visit a local shop that according to the lady with the pink streak had some really nice stuff in it. It turns out though, that she may be open a lot, but will close on a whim to go to the beach if she feels like it. I guess the day I walked there was one of the days. I stopped off at the 50’s diner and had a grilled cheese (no more burgers for this gal) and then stopped at the local grocery store to get a snack to accompany my last couple of bottles of cider and yet another laptop movie watching session.


The store was busy for sure and you could definitely see that it was a bit picked over. I guess with the restocking of shelves happening less often than say a store back home, certain things were more likely to be bought first including meat. I was told that most people hunt and eating the rather plentiful deer was common.

Saturday night there was the literal calm before the storm. As I was sitting in my room I noticed the sun was breaking through so I ran out to the slough and snapped a few pictures before the storm clouds choked off the sun.



FINALLY the day to come home dawned and it was stormy. The worst of it hadn’t hit yet and there was still a good chance that the flight would get out I was told by the guest house hostess, the pilots were used to flying in bad weather. Still there was more gales approaching and I sat chewing my nails while I breakfasted. She called the airline for me and confirmed that the inbound flight was delayed, but was still on the way from YVR. As long as they could land okay and there wasn’t any danger to taking off I was going to get home. I still wouldn’t believe it until I was on the plane.

I finally see the incoming plane land (yay!) but notice it is smaller than the one I came in (boo!) and my stomach sank.



It was very small, so small you had to duck to get to your seat. One row on each side of the aisle and you could see the pilot and co-pilot the whole time. There were a few nervous people on the plane with me and our slightly bouncy ascent didn’t help. We were forewarned that it may be a bit choppy and it was. Still these are skilled pilots used to the area and they soon had us up above the worst of it. There were a few bits of turbulence but I didn’t care, I was just happy to be going home.

A couple of hours later a perfect landing and I was finally home! I don’t think I’ve hugged Tom any tighter than when I finally saw him again.

I’d wondered in the past what it would be like to travel to Haida Gwaii (or as it was known back then Queen Charlotte Islands), now I know. For the many people who love the natural unspoiled land and the remoteness, it is probably heaven. Me on the other hand, I think I need a bit more (minimum) four star hotels in my life. Still, an adventure just the same and the people who live there are some of THE nicest people you will ever meet. If you are the adventurous type and plan a visit to Haida Gwaii, I would recommend either of the places I stayed.

Personally though,  if I want to see the BC coastline, I’d probably stick to Tofino, it’s a little more my speed.

Posted in travel | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Places That I’ve Been – St. John’s and Halifax

My coast-to-coast-to-extreme coast journey taught me a few things: I love the Maritimes (particularly St. John’s Newfoundland and Labrador), I am a much better flyer than I was a few years ago (not completely freaking out when getting into a small plane in stormy weather), I’m still capable of travelling alone, but I prefer travelling with Tom, and there is no place like home.

*Heel click*

It all started with flying to St. John’s. I was at the airport pretty early on a Sunday morning, even with that I wouldn’t be in St. John’s until 9:40 their time. I paid for an upgrade to ‘Plus’ on WestJet and yeah there was some additional leg room alright and some ‘free’ food and drink, but I found I really didn’t need it that badly. Unlike Alaska you don’t get the nice wide boofy seats in first class so I took a pass on the other legs.


Is it possible to fall in love with a city at first sight? Well second technically as I arrived in the dark and didn’t interact with THAT many people until the following day. But fall in love I did. I cannot say enough nice things about the people of St. John’s. The accent? LOVE IT. The architecture? Two words: Jelly Beans! Colourful Victorians out the wazoo.



You can practically throw a rock and hit a restaurant or a bar on any main drag, on George street you don’t even need to throw a rock. The cabbies are full of stories…did I mention I love the people?

I was lucky enough to spend 5 nights there and work with some fabulous people. My last full day, I was encouraged to take a couple of hours (I wasn’t needed in the morning) and walk up Signal Hill. I was staying on Duckworth street not far from the start of the walk uphill. It was a somewhat steep climb (most people drove!) but it was worth it. The views of St. John’s were amazing. At first I was pretty much alone to enjoy it.


Then a few busloads of people arrived. The flooded the area, including the inside of the tower, but they didn’t stay long. The crazy winds drove them back to the safety of their bus.



I stayed for quite a while, snapping pics and enjoying the view.


I took a bit of creative license with this pic of the tower, it has a radio antenna on it I found kind of ruined the look so I photoshopped it out.


On my way back, despite being tired from that hike up the hill, for some reason I was drawn to the waterfront and completely by accident happened up on very special spot, mile zero of Terry Fox’s ill-fated cross-country journey to raise money and awareness for cancer research. As a west coaster and someone who had watched Terry’s journey on the news it was special and humbling to see, considering I was feeling tired and internally grumbling after my walk. This young man ran a marathon a day on one leg. Perspective.


As it was a work trip, I didn’t have a lot of time to take pictures, but I took the most of St. John’s.


I was told that in June you can watch icebergs float by through the harbour and sometimes they get stuck there. How cool would that be?



I regretfully left on Friday morning. I really should have spent my weekend in St. John’s, but everyone said I should spend my free time in Halifax. Not that it wasn’t great, it was and there were plenty of places I wanted to see in Nova Scotia, but I didn’t have a car. I just loved St. John’s a little bit more. Lots of history in both places,  in Halifax it was very much mixed in with modern surroundings like this old cemetery which is now a park.




The people in Halifax were also lovely and friendly, especially the folks I worked with. The seafood in both cities was beyond great. I made the mistake of taking a break from seafood and going to what was pegged as the best Chinese restaurant in Halifax. Coming from someone who has had GREAT Chinese food, that wasn’t. Lesson learned!

I moved back to seafood. Ever in Halifax I highly recommend the lobster croissant at Salty’s mmmm..


I found out that 121 souls from the Titanic were buried in Fairview Cemetery walking distance from where I worked the first part of the week so before heading ‘home’ to my hotel I wandered down after work.

There is a whole section clearly marked for visitors to find.


Particularly poignant was the gravestone for the unknown child who was it turns out later identified.


I had also read that a gravestone for a J Dawson is often adorned with flowers and the like from people who believe the character Jack Dawson from the movie Titanic was real. It was free from decoration when I was there though.

This Titanic grave gets a lot of flowers apparently from people thinking Jack Dawson really existed...


It was sad to see so many gravestones with the same date repeating one after another as I walked the rows. Sadder still to see the graves with no name, only a number.

After the two weeks away I was due for a weekend home before I flew to Haida Gwaii (up the coast of BC, Google it).

I was at the airport the requisite amount of time before my flight, made it all the way to my seat and to where the flight attendants start with their safety spiel when the captain came on over the speakers to inform us that some kind of indicator light was on which shouldn’t be, so maintenance would need to be called to inspect. We sat in our seats on the tarmac all silently hoping that it was a false alarm and we could get underway. That is until he came back on and said that there was indeed a problem and that we’d all have to get off the plane and wait to see if it was something they could fix. Those of us with connecting flights fretted. Mine was a reasonable turn around but as time went by, that window shrank.

Eventually they came on over the loudspeaker to announce our flight was cancelled, to go get our bags and head back to the check-in counter as the West Jetters were busily trying to find us alternate flights to our destinations. After standing in line for what seemed ages one of the reps asked if I was travelling alone. I said yes (with slight confusion), but it turns out she wanted to see if I had already been booked on a flight. She offered to check on the kiosk for me (using my original reservation code) so I wouldn’t lose my place in line. I was lucky, even though I was booked for a stopover in Toronto, I didn’t HAVE to land there so I had more alternatives. People actually flying to T-Dot in some cases weren’t going to see it until the next day.

It turned out I was booked on a flight that touched down in Hamilton and then flew to Calgary where I would switch planes and so she went ahead and checked me in. I thanked her for her help and ran straight for the baggage drop area, she came and found me and handed me a meal voucher. I headed right back through security as my flight was due to take off in an hour. Once there I found out my flight was, you guessed it, delayed! This put my last connection in Calgary at risk. At that point if I missed it, there was one last flight they could book me on, but that would put me in Vancouver after midnight, as it was I was already going to be there after 11:00 pm already 5 hours later than originally scheduled.

I thought I was never going to get to go home!

Eventually though the plane arrived and I was sat in the middle seat (boo!) but grateful to be jetting closer to home. We touched down in Hamilton and my two seatmates were replaced by a nice couple with a baby. They asked if I wouldn’t mind if they sat together and I gladly moved over. We chatted for a bit, I played silly faces with the baby and they found out about my long long long day and the possibility I may still miss my connection. They offered to jump out of their seats and let me in the aisle first once we hit Calgary to give me a better chance to catch the connection which was really sweet of them. I took them up on it and when we landed ran straight for the gate. That flight was just boarding when I got there thank goodness. I sent Tom a message to confirm I was on the flight so he’d know when to go to the airport to pick me up.

I cannot even express how grateful I was when I finally landed at YVR and saw Tom. Man I missed him sooo much, we haven’t been apart that long since we were finally living together!

Geez this post is already getting too long, on to Haida Gwaii next time.

Posted in travel | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment