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 icebergfinder.com 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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Another fabulous day in this fabulous Province.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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!

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

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Tom found it a little uh, chilly…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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…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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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

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

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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.
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I especially loved the entrance with the stained glass…

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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