June 21st, 2015

Arrived at port in North Sydney around 7:30ish am. Drove home the “Mountain Way”, as I call it. One of my favorite drives on a series of back roads through hills that are put to shame after the hills we saw in Newfoundland. The road was in rough shape and I went through many a pothole. Poor rental car.

Finally home! Sydney Forks. I decided to get the repacking of my suite case over and done with almost immediatley. I divided what beer I brought back between my “stock drawer” in my bedroom and my suitcase. Shells, rocks, my black jacket, were also left at home. And while we waited for our two O’clock flight, I signed up for Icontact and did other various things on my computer. We thought we’d have time to go out to eat, but The Old Triangle (nee, Joe’s Warehouse), being Fathers Day was slow even though it wasn’t packed so we left for lack. From there, I said good bye to Mom, as she wasn’t following us to the airport.

Lunch at the airport and snoozing on the plane. I was ever so glad to fall into bed when I got home. Ever so glad to see my cats, though I had a tremendous earful from Lizzy and no doubt again when I get back from Iceland.

June 20th, 2015

This morning we all piled into Treasure Box for their fantastic fishcake special. Mmmm. I love fishcakes. My group also had the opportunity to raid the gift shop to pick up last minute souvenirs. Rob found a sweater for him and Nadia. Pierre a gift for his little girl, Janet, partridge berry, baked apple spread and moose pate, to name a few.

Before we left for breakfast, I asked everyone to make sure they were packed and ready to go. All we would have to do is load up the cars, check out and get out of Dodge. The weather was beautiful on the way back to the airport, but I didn’t want to stop because Pierre had an earlier flight than everyone else. He was continuing on to St. John’s for a few days. As it happened, we did have a little time to spare if we wanted to stop once. Oh well. We said our adieu’s, see you again on the other side so Rob, Mom and I could continued on our way to Port Aux Basque to catch our midnight ferry.

Boy, did we have time to kill. Boy, did Rob make good use of it! Just before Corner Brook we veered off onto a picturesque cul-de-sac that eventually led to Cox’s Cove. It followed the coastline parallel to the TCH. Along the way we saw something that looked like a sign-board nestled in the hill. As we took the dirt road leading to it, we realized it was a drive-in movie theater. In the parking lot, there was a fellow shoveling gravel into the back of his pick up truck. As I was setting up my 4×5, Rob chatted with the guy finding out the drive-in closed 15 years ago. However, 2 summers ago, someone set up a projector on the roof of a car having a turn out of 50 people. What a great idea for enterprising young individuals, especially in the summer. The guy who was shoveling dirt said the last movie he saw there, was “Jaws” made in 1975.

We continued to the end of the peninsula, Cox’s Cove. It was the best little side adventure one could ask for. Not only did we meet the man himself, Mr. Gordie Cox, founder of Cox’s Cove, but were treated to the tastiest lobster caught not but a half hour ago, just cooked and still warm. It was the last of 12. By God, it had all three of our names on it. In Newfoundland there is no rule against catching female lobsters. I have never seen one holding SO many eggs! The cooked roe was akin to the most tender of liver from any animal. It was my favorite part. Just think of all those tiny baby lobsters……. on second thought, better not to think of it. Lobster was once considered a poor mans food and to those who live on the coast it’s the most accessible food there is. But for those who sell it at market price, they earn good money and are able to afford all the nice, new, large houses we came across.

Gordie’s grandson stayed to chat with us. He’s a quite young feller. Mom asked if he couldn’t wait to get of Newfoundland. He had just graduated from high school, but he said he didn’t want to leave. He loves the place he was bourn and bred into and hopes to become a fisherman like his father and his father before him. He truly was a boy after my own heart. Though I did make the leap to leave Cape Breton, I still want to go back to live.

Cox’s Cove is surrounded my majestic beauty. The word “majestic” is a pauper’s word still to describe its aching beauty. In one direction is Penguin point, a hill tall and proud like a sentinel, an apt perch for a deity to guard its people. There are three branches of inlets. One leads to (LOOK AT THE MAP), another to (LOOK AT MAP) and the last to (LOOK AT MAP). Gordie offer to take us in his boat if we had more time. That would have made my day absolutely perfect.

Next thing I knew, there was a great Newfoundland dog being led towards us. Her name was Rosie and was very affectionate. I was happy to give her belly rubs while Rob took pictures of Gordie. Gordie, I might add was the quintessential rugged Newfoundlander you could ever lay eyes on. I took a portrait of him as well. His deep wrinkles, leathery skin, mustache and Relic toque made for a wonderful black and white image. Though I prefer the coloured image of him with his handmade, orange dory in the background.

Our last stop in the area was yet another beautiful vista of hills and water. A trail led to a steep staircase., though neither Rob nor I attempted to climb down. It was in such bad shape. In Corner Brook, and back on track once again, Rob still in the drivers seat had scoped out with his eagle eyes, a café on the hill that had wonderful coffee and sandwiches. It was a beautiful day, and though still a little chilly, we couldn’t resist sitting on the balcony to enjoy our meal.

Once in Port Aux Basque we STILL had time to kill. We drove around, gassed up and had a snack at Tim’s before boarding the ferry. Even though we had time to kill after that, there was no line up at the ferry terminal. They didn’t even have the car wash on to sanitize our vehicle. They just waved us through after their preliminary questions of if we were carrying plants or potatos . There werent many people aboard, but because we were early we waited on board for the ferry finaly make her departure. The night was foggy, much to my dismay. I wanted to see the stars from the sundeck. A romantic image from “Titanic” when Rose is in the water waiting to be recued. We did watch, however, the lights of Port Aux Basque slip away. In retrospect, I wish we could have been in the town a little sooner. Not for any want of activity. The only thing that was going on was Bingo night. No, It would have been a wonderful sunset opportunity. We caught glimpses of it in between the hills and again on a craggy point in town.

NEVER AGAIN SHALL I DO THE MIDNIGHT FERRY RUN AGAIN! NEVER AGAIN SHALL I BOOK A FLIGHT WITHIN HOURS OF A CONNECTING FLIGHT! “Let’s not do that again.” Rob said. As the both of us slumped, heavy eyed into our seats. I think it’s the only…. No wait, the second time I ever slept on a flight. Normally I don’t sleep while I travel. The ferry, well, precious little sleep was gotten then. I’d say 3 hours? But I’m slipping into present tense.

June 19th, 2015

As part of the itinerary for my tours, I usually have a free day. This free day, however, didn’t work out quite as planned. I gave people the option of signing up for a third boat tour to Western Brook Pond. Which everyone did except form Mom and I. We did it last year. Even though it was magnificent, we didn’t want to do it again. Anyways, the boat tour didn’t happen. We would have had to make a mad dash from St. Anthony to almost Rocky Harbour for everyone to make the boat for noon. Instead, our last free day was spent driving back at amore leisurely pace revisiting places we went to in the downpour on the way up.

We did more than that. Before we came to Eddies Cove , we saw moose by the roadside. My vehicle didn’t stop. But Mom told me after that they came to a screeching halt, backed up and took some photos, which were apparently all off the wrong end of the animal. Allan was delighted to see he moose. Even though we have them in Ontario, especially Halibuton and Algonquin, they were few and far between for the average amount that is known to be a huge populous in Newfoundland. Indeed, when you drive along the 431 north, there’s a sign that counts the casualties of moose accidents within a season. The sign read 0 on the way up, but 4 on the way back.

Once in Eddies Cove, you see the ocean… the St. Lawrence…. We were met with clift line coast of crashing waves. Far out deep swells heaved over each other. I had Rob pull over to a place Mom and I stopped last year. A place with a grey shed and lobster traps. I’ve used this image before in my promotional materials if you may remember. Everyone put Rob’s anchoring technique into place as the force of the wind pushed you around. Legs apart, archery stance, elbows in. Although I put my camera on burst, I didn’t see in the majority of shots I took, the image I had hoped I would. Next time, I’ll breath with the rise and fall of the water. Waiting for a rhythm to take place, waiting for the moment when… the perfect wave dashes itself against the rocks.

Flowers cove is home to the Thrombolites , living rocks that live only here and in Australia. The explanation of what they truly are is still obscure. Neither Wikipedia nor the sign board at the site give a proper layman’s terms definition of what these creatures are What makes Newfoundland so unique and in some ways similar for them to survive here? I still don’t understand but have taken the fact that they are here at face value. These microbial creatures are living and quite interesting to see and contemplate.

The arches, by this time, were lovely. Vibrant green tufts of grass on the top. Glowing from the sea spray inside and incredibly moody against the dark clouds and foamy waves. It was great to spend a little more time there, as we weren’t able to fully appreciate it before. I think John may have picked up some beach rocks. I did, but will leave them in Cape Breton instead of adding more weight to my luggage. Bringing home Quiddy Viddy Beer is more important than rocks I’m afraid.

Instead of Earls this night for supper when we got back into town, we went to Fisherman’s Landing. They had moose sausage on the menu. Something I wasn’t able to get when the power was out. It was quite delicious, through perhaps a little over cooked. Though I tried to look out for butcher shops on the way up towards St. Anthony, they all looked closed. Even on the way back. No luck.

Because it was still relatively early after all was said and done, there was time for one last critique, everyone was present in Rob’s cottage where we were able to hook up the laptop via HDMI. Some of us during this critique did laundry which was close by and open 24/7. When you pack frugally, it’s nice to have clean clothes especially if you have a 5 hour, over night ferry ride ahead of you. Besides not having internet or a second remote to the TV for the older cottages, Mountain Range Cottages were ideal. Not too expensive but with essential creature comforts.

The most rewarding part of the critique and the entire trip maybe, was to hear Allan’s convert testimonial to these critiques. Everyone agreed that it was a harsh word to begin with. It doesn’t at all define the discussing of the groups images. That’s why some people were a little iffy about coming if they came at all. No doubt my group was able to get great tips from Rob, but all agreed that a new word should be used in the future. If anyone has any suggestions that doesn’t sound so class-roomy or workshopish, please don’t hesitate to let me know. You can leave a comment.

June 18th, 2015

Northland Discovery Boat Tours was the bomb! We knew when we saw small icebergs in St. Anthony, we where in for a treat. We weren’t too sure, however about the whales. But hey, seeing whales or not seeing whales were on secondary to the white majesties of ice. Once out of harbour, we could see at least 3 icebergs on the horizon. The closest one sat a half hour away. We were unprepared for how large it actually was. 225 feet tall. above the water- approx 400 feet beneath, 500 and change feet long. Our guide said it was the largest iceberg they’ve seen since they’ve started the tours this season. It had recently followed, meaning, bits of ice has fallen off the berg as ice would cleaved off a glacier to create the iceberg. Some were growlers and some were bergy bits. For more accurate info on the approximate measurements of these terms, the website, Anthropolis has good references. http://www.athropolis.ca/arctic-facts/fact-bergy-bits.htm.

I don’t get sea sick, but when the theme song for Titanic came on without Celine Dion (Thank God!) I felt like hurling. Thank goodness it wasn’t long lived. The guide explained the Iceberg that downed the Unsinkable was one third of the size of the one we saw today and only 400 km off the coast of Newfoundland.

It was more than amazing to be on the Atlantic today, Mother Nature graced us with such a beautiful, sunny day! Blue skies, interesting clouds, THE BEST LIGHTING CONDITIONS to photograph an iceberg. So said our guide, who took a picture saying, “You know it’s a fantastic iceberg when the guide photographs it.” Almost everyone in my group had lenses that could capture the entire thing. I however had my new 50 (not regrettably mind you). Remembering Rob’s Lightroom workshop only a few day before I left, I took full advantage of the new panorama builder. First chance I got I stitched together some images and wow, a beautiful Pano. Two great tips I forgot in my excitement however was: 1) Take the images vertically to get more of what’s above and below. 2) To hold your hand over the lens at the beginning of the pano, then once again at the end. This will keep record of what belongs in the series when reviewing your photos. That way, you don’t accidently delete necessary pieces of the puzzle.

For lunch we went to the Lighthouse restaurant on top of the hill on the outskirts of St. Anthony. Climbing up this hill is an innumerable amount of steps to the top and more than likely a breathtaking view. Because there was so much more planned for the rest of the day, we didn’t have time to do it. But should I go back, it would definitely be on my bucket list. There was however, time for everyone to get in a half hour of shooting before heading to the Viking settlement. I took the time to rest on an obligingly comfortable juniper bush on a hillside. Tangy wafts swirled in the wind. It was a great opportunity to catch up on some blog writing [as you know I’m still catching up]. Was it here we saw a small iceberg roll over not once, but thrice on the water? I can’t remember.

L’Ans Aux Meadows didn’t go over well with everyone, I’m afraid. Some people went through the buildings quickly, continuing on to do the hike that skirted the cliff side around the visitor center and back into the parking lot.

I however strayed to the beach where I found some rib bones from something or other. With these I made interesting designs. After the bones I found dried seaweed, straw, shells, etc. Before you knew it the montages were becoming more elaborate and larger, larger that what my 50 could handle. Dorothy kindly offered her Nikon with a 20mm, but when Rob came along, I didn’t take any time asking for his 20. Wow! Look at all that space around the subject! In retrospect, I enjoyed designing them than seeing the results of the image.

The Daily Catch. Everyone of us, but one or two ordered Fish and Brewis. The waitress came out to say there was only enough for one serving! OMG! Yes, I was a little loud in my exclamation, but can you blame me? Regardless, we ordered the last plate of Fish and Brewis, dividing it up for everyone to have a taste. No toutons. All drinks were served with chipped icebergs.

After supper, Rob, John, Dorothy, Pierre and I went to a previously scouted place for sunset. It was a peat bog pocked marked with pools of water, pimpled with rocky hills covered with moss. The trick to navigating a peat bog is to stay clear of the peat pools, finding firm footing within stubble growth of tall grass, juniper and whatever else. Trying not to sink too far onto marshy ground with a large, full camera bad and tripod was not an easy feat.

I’ve never thought of using the 4×5 for sunset until now. I went further afield than everyone else because I wanted to make damn sure the landscape and therefore the composition was what I wanted it to be. I’m not sure if I am entirely happy with it after all. Only the photograph will tell.

June 17th, 2015

Compared to today we really lucked out with the drizzling rain we had yesterday and the day before. That was nothing compared to the down pour we had for our trip up to St. Anthony. The roads were rivers especially in the rutted sections where years of tires wore the asphalt down. I tried to stay to one side or the other out of danger of hydro planning, but it was either that of be too close to the steep ditch or on-coming traffic. It was definitely white knuckle driving at it’s best.

We stopped in St. Barbe for a reprieve at a place called Dockside Restaurant and Motel. It also tripled as a ferry terminal to Labrador. The restaurant was a throw back to decades past, a place that hadn’t been renovated for eons. Classic ply wood tables with gingham table clothes with plastic covers, Washed out photographs on the wall and the most basic of menu items one can think of.

Everyone was so hungry we just had to stop somewhere. Finding places on the 431 to St. Anthony online was difficult as it was. But when Pierre was served a moldy club sandwich, I was completely turned off my own bologna and fries. Regardless of the experience, I was once more rejuvenated to drive the rest of the way to our accommodations in St. Lunaire-Griquet.

Just as we arrived at our destination and settled in, the rain finally ceased. Since we were by then hungry again, we decided to walk down to a little place minutes down the street called The Daily Catch, where we were told there was really good Fish and Brewis. The place was jammed packed. There was a live band and one person sitting at a table of eight. Naturally we made a reservation for the next day, emphasizing to the owner that we were counting on the Fish and Brewis. He said no problem and we went on our merry way to the Norseman in L’Ans Aux Meadows, where we enjoyed jazzed up traditional meals. MMMmmmmm…….

On the way back we were followed by a brilliant purply – pink sunset that made everything a rosy hue. We stopped briefly to photograph pink icebergs. Friendly faces came to the door so proud of where they live, offering us directions to yet another spectacular view. It was then I decided that I would come back to spend more time in these harbour’s. I’d hike every trail, find every nook and cranny, bring my 4×5 and LOTS of film.

Since people were still energized we decided to take advantage and do a critique. The recording (the only one I did) can be found on the Newfoundland West Coast 2015 page. Once I download it. Even though we were able to eventually get the TV mirroring working at Mountain Range Cottages, it was refreshing to have everything work so effortlessly at http://www.stbrendansmotel.ca despite being further afield. We even had working internet that didn’t need a password.