August 10, 2017, 188.1 miles
Paradise Farm Rv Park, Bonavista, Newfoundland
We arrived in Bonavista, Newfoundland after a bumpy short ride! The roads up here leave little to be desired, there are potholes on every road with yellow and white lines painted down the middle of the potholes.
The country is really beautiful, lots of every different kind of tree, lots of grass and open areas intermingled with ponds (in the states we would call them lakes) everywhere you turn. We have not seen any fishing boats of any kind on the ponds, which we are think maybe they are shallow due to the rocks that protrude out of the middle and around the edges.
Newfoundland and Labrador form the most easterly province of Canada. The population is estimated at 526,702 people. Between Newfoundland and Labradore, 92% of the population live on Newfoundland. No part of the island of NFLD is more than 62 miles from the ocean which greatly influences there cooler summer weather. In July the temps range from 66-71. The climate produces more variable weather, humidity, clouds, less sunshine and high winds. Their official bird is the Atlantic Puffin, while the official dogs is the Newfoundland.
The fishing of cod was the primary work for most people, most started with their families, some as early as 7 years old, catching, cleaning and salting the cod. There were cod factories with 1500 or more working, earning a living, most with out an education. After over 500 years of lives and communities on Canada’s eastern coast, the fishing of cod collapsed entirely in the early 1990’s due to overfishing. Canada then forced a moratorium on cod fishing. If anyone was caught cod fishing there was a fine levied. Many people with no education could not find jobs and went back to school, others left the area. After 25 years the waters showed that there were an abundance of crab, shrimp and other fish as well as cod, the moratorium was lifted but with strict restrictions. The cod fishing will never come back to the way it was as most have stopped eating it and the younger generation have never learned to eat it or like it.
Guy and I left St John’s around 9:00am and were the 3rd coach to arrive at our new campground, and how excited we were when escorted to our new site! We scored a spot looking at a beautiful blue pond with tall grass and flowers all around. I thought we would be so lucky and see moose in the morning…Ha Ha…the owner of the campground stated that there would be no moose, as they had been hunted so much on the island that they were scarce. But we talked to others that said there were plenty of moose, who knows because we never did see any.
Darn, I was so hoping to see them while drinking a cup of coffee, looking across the lake, in the morning. We had thought we would head into town and check things out as we arrived by 1:00 but the view was so inviting that we set up our chairs…made lunch and just relaxed watching the water move. Soon our neighbors, Lou and Karen with Lady, brought out their chairs as well, Paul and Steve our other neighbors soon had their chairs out as well. Later that night after everyone arrived we had a great potluck and socialized.
After dinner, Paul came by to see if we wanted to take a ride before dark to see the Atlantic Puffins….of course, who wouldn’t want to go, we were looking forward to seeing them. The Puffins could be seen up close if we went at dusk as they fly and eat during the day. It took us a little while to find the Puffins, once we parked the car it was a little hike along the top of the cliff out to see them.
Once out there we were surprised to see them so close to us…almost close enough to touch them. The majority were on another island across from where we were. Another plus while watching the Puffins was seeing the whales swimming off shore, we could see the black dots and them shooting water in the air, none were breaching nor lifting their tails.
Some facts for you on Puffins:
95% of Atlantic Puffins breed around NFLD’s coastlines…Puffins always return to the same island where they were born…they even return to the same burrow and mate…Puffins can carry as many as 22 fish at one time…
Puffins swim better than fly and keep their eyes open under water…Puffins do not sit on their eggs ike other birds, they tuck the egg in close and hug it with their wings…in cold weather Puffins lose their bright colors, their white feathers turn grey and their orange legs turn dark…
Puffins spend more time in the water than in the air…North Atlantic Puffins live in the ocean and return each spring to the island where they were hatched.
The next couple of days we shared driving to different highlights around town. We teamed up with Sharon and Steve with Steve driving. Our first stop was at the Ryan Premises which is a National Historic site. It is an example of a merchant operation for the town of Bonavista. We toured the propietor’s house, a retail shop, a fish factory, and a salt store. We had a demonstration and talk about the cod fishing industry and learned how to cut up a cod with a toy cod.
We went as well to view the Matthew Legacy which is a replica of the 15th century ship that transported John Cabot on his voyage in 1497 to discover the coast of North America, with his first landing site at Cape Bonavista, NFLD.
The Cape Bonavista Lighthouse was about 4 miles outside of town, as we were headed there we spotted a little roadside restaurant, that served ice cream….yes, we stopped!! It was a great treat as the day had turned warmer, Guy had blueberry ice cream in a cup, while I had a soft serve vanilla dipped in chocolate!! Yum…
The Cape Bonavista lighthouse was built in 1843, it is the only one of a few lighthouses that you can climb the stone tower and see the seal oil fueled light used in the 19th century. The lighthouse served for 46 years from 1859 until 1962. The light used 650 gallons of seal oil every year. The lights turn by the use of weights that are pulled every 2 hours and takes 15 mins to pull the weights into position. The lighthouse is not in use today but there is an automated light just outside the original.
The next day we headed to Elliston, which is the Root Cellar Capital of the World.
We watched a movie on Root Cellars which explained how root cellars came about hundreds of years ago and why they were used, there are over 140 cellars scattered around the area. Root Cellars were used to store vegetables such as potatoes, onions, rutabagas, carrots and many other root vegetables.
The cellars were all different, some with wood roofs, or cement, all are different sizes. They keep cool during the summer months which keeps the veggies from spoiling. After the cod moratorium cities were trying to find ways for folks to earn a living, Elliston realizing that they were the only place with so many roots cellars decided to capitalize on this and started to revitalize the root cellars. Now visitors come from all over the world to see the root cellars.
The root cellars were not far from the puffins so off we went to watch the puffins again, we could see them on the island across from us but there were not any on our side. Most of the puffins were out in the water or flying, some flew by with fish in their beaks.
Later, we also headed about 60 miles to the town of Trinity which we heard was a quaint fishing village. This a small town and was once a fishing village in the 16th century. It was not like any other village we had been to but I would not really classify it a fishing village. It seems that they have now turned the town into a commercial venture to entice the visitors.
It was right on the water, with lots of brightly colored houses, a couple of churches, parish hall, The Courthouse and Goal and The Rising Tide Theatre. Of course, there were the gift shops, ice cream stores, and chocolate shop. While we were walking around the town a play was in progress, people were dressed in clothes from the early days walking thru town from building to building, acting their parts as they went. There were guests with name tags who had paid to participate.
We head back to camp on a different hwy hoping to see the other side of the peninsula, it was a shorter ride than we thought but we did see two small towns along the ocean. There were also many whales off shore blowing water, looking rather lazy as they did not show themselves nor did they breach or lift their tails.
This was a great stop and very interesting, I fell in love with the Puffins and could have just stayed and watched them forever, but it was time to move on to Twillingate, we had a date to see the “Split Peas”….hmmm…what could that be??? If you want to know come on back and check it out.
Thanks for following along with us on “Our Rovin Journey” and God Bless you.