Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Newfoundland Rug Hooking

Hooked rugs or mats were traditionally made in Newfoundland as a way to warm up wooden floors during the long winters. Resources were very limited so burlap from flour bags was used as a backing. Worn out fabrics that were no longer useful for clothing were cut into strips and pulled through the backing with a hook (normally a bent nail).

Rug hooking continues today in Newfoundland as a hobby and artform. Many hooked creations are as likely to be found hanging on a wall as being used as a rug. We've always enjoyed checking out Newfoundland crafts on our trips. Linda was particularly interested in hand-made quilts and hooked rugs.

We visited the Molly Made Fibre Art Studio in Woody Point during our September trip. Molly White showed Linda how she cuts nylons into strips and dies them for use in her creations. She gave Linda a quick primer on how to hook a rug. Molly sells starter kits that have everything you need to get started and Linda bought one. She's since been hooked on hooking :). The kit consisted of a wooden frame, burlap with the pattern already drawn on, a wooden handled hook and the yarn need to complete the picture.

Linda worked on her lighthouse every night in the trailer. About a week later we found ourselves at The Roost in York Harbour. One of the owners, Roy Evans introduced himself as a male hooker. Roy has his work on display at The Roost. By this time Linda was loaded with questions and Roy spent quite a bit of time giving her some great pointers.

Roy suggested that on our way home at the end of the month, we should stop in Amherst Nova Scotia. There was a rug hooking shop there that was pretty much the Holy Grail of Rug Hooking.

In early October, we were off the night ferry shortly after 7:00AM. We would get to Amherst, which is just before the New Brunswick border around noon. We had lunch at a little diner in Amherst and then headed downtown to find Deanne Fitzpatrick Studio. Amherst has a nice little downtown and the rug hooking studio is right in the heart of it. We found a parking spot about a block away and spent the next hour checking it out.

Deanne who is a native of Newfoundland was not there, but her staff are very knowledgeable. You can see and buy finished works. They have an extensive selection of yarns and fabrics and all the supplies that a serious rug hooker could want.

Linda walked out with a starter frame, another hook and a bunch of burlap to take with us back to London. At this writing (late December) she's just finishing her fourth creation. The frame allows her to make a mat that's about 9" x 15". The next plan is to buy a more serious frame, so she can do something larger.

We'll likely stop in Amherst on the way back to Newfoundland in June. It's actually a great place to stop for a break, because it's about half way between where we stay in Hartland, NB and the ferry terminal in North Sydney, NS.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Gros Morne National Park - Boat Tours

If you are planning a trip to Gros Morne National Park on the west coast of Newfoundland, make sure you include a boat tour in your itinerary.

The two main boat trips in Gros Morne are run by BonTours.

We would highly recommend that you make time for both tours. You'll want to do them on different days. If you are in the park for a few days, watch the weather forecast. You can generally book either tour the day before. If it's foggy or rainy you're not going to see much. The tour schedule varies through the season. They don't run as many tours in June or September.

If you are only planning on one boat tour, make it Western Brook Pond. It's a land locked fjord and the scenery is some of the most spectacular that you'll see. We've been to Norway's fjords and Western Brook Pond definitely compares.

Call the day before to reserve your tickets. If it's a nice day the boats can be crowded. You need to arrive at the parking area at least an hour before your tour departs, because you have about a 3 km walk from the parking lot to the boat launch. It's not a difficult trail to walk. A lot of it is boardwalk across a large bog area. If you want to see what the trail is like, you can now take a virtual walk on Google Street View.

Western Brook Pond Boat Tour Dock
There's a large building, deck and dock at the end of the trail. You can pick up your tickets here. If you don't have a park pass, they will sell you one here. There's a snack bar where you can grab a hot dog before you head out on the fjord. There is also a small gift shop and washrooms. The boats are equipped with toilets, but don't count on that. The last time we went, they were not operating.

If there is a big crowd, which is normal on the nicest summer days, they will load you on one of three boats. The tour has great commentary. They take you to the farthest point in the fjord where you will see the spectacular Pissing Mare Falls.

Pissing Mare Falls, Western Brook Pond
The boat will sometimes stop at a dock at the far end of the fjord. If there are hikers on-board that are setting out on the trail to the Western Brook Pond Outlook. This is the famous photo spot that you see in all the Newfoundland travel brochures.

The Bonne Bay boat tour is also well worth doing and a little easier to get to. You just drive into Norris Point. Follow the main road right down to the dock. The parking is to your left. There is a gift store and ticket office. The boat is a short walk from your car.

Woody Point seen from Bonne Bay Boat Tour
The tour takes you out into Bonne Bay towards the Gulf of St. Lawrence. On our trip in June, we saw humpback whales and bald eagles. They return along the south shore of the bay past Woody Point and into the South Arm past Shoal Brook.
Bonne Bay Boat Tour passing Shoal Brook in South Arm

The views of The Tablelands from the boat are spectacular. You'll also have a nice view of Gros Morne Mountain. The crew is quite comical and the tour ends with the crew providing you with a traditional Newfoundland musical show.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Hartland, NB -
Great Place to Stay on the way to Newfoundland

Hartland is the perfect place to stay if you are on your way from Ontario to Newfoundland. Hartland is 750 km from the ferry terminal in North Sydney, NS. If you leave Hartland about 9:00 AM you'll be in Cape Breton in plenty of time for a relaxed dinner before arriving at the ferry terminal for the overnight crossing.

We like to stay at the Covered Bridge Bed & Breakfast which is in Somerville, NB, just across the St. John River from Hartland. It's very close to the famous bridge. Just cross the covered bridge and you are in Hartland. A very pretty town that has a great restaurant if you are looking for dinner.

Jeremiah's is in a renovated former Wesleyan Church. It's very nicely decorated with a beautiful bar. The service and food are great. It's not too far off the Trans Canada, I would even stop here if I wasn't staying in Hartland. To get to Jeremiah's just cross the covered bridge and turn right. It's just a bit down on your left. There's a large parking lot you can use that's across the street.

Update on Jeremiah's for summer of 2016. Unfortunately they will not be open and have the restaurant for sale.

We had a funny story here, I asked the waitress about the history of the building and was told that it used to be a Chinese Restaurant.

Doris Kennedy is your host at the Covered Bridge Bed & Breakfast. She's a local historian and has actually written a book about Hartland's history. Doris was able to tell us about some of the interesting buildings in Hartland. The town has gone through a couple of devastating fires, but amazingly the bridge has never burned.

My grandfather was from Hartland and moved to Cobalt, Ontario during the silver rush about 1910. Doris was able to give us some information on relations still in Hartland.

The Bed & Breafast is beautifully maintained. The room we stay in is very large, nicely decorated and across the hall from a large washroom that's just for this room. There is a nice common area with a kitchen and fridge. You are free to use it and clean up when you are done.

Breakfast is served in a guest dining area, where you can chat with Doris and the other guests.

For Newfoundland travel tips, please visit our website www.bobsnewfoundland.com .

Monday, 17 August 2015

Where to Buy Cookies in Kippens

We spent 8 nights in Kippens, Newfoundland exploring the Port au Port Peninsula and the Stephenville area. We stayed at the Zenzville RV Park.

Zenzville RV Park

Kippens is a bedroom community for Stephenville. You drive through Kippens to get to the Port au Port Peninsula. There is not a lot to see or do in Kippens. It's in a pretty spot on St. George's Bay. Here's a photo, coming out of the driveway from the campground:

There are some unusual white cliffs that you see coming into Kippens from the west (from Port au Port, driving towards Stephenville). I did not take a photo, but here's what it looks like on Google Street View.

They look like the hoodoos that you see near Banff. I have not been able to find any brochures or websites explaining what they are. If you know, please drop in a comment.

Jennifer's Sweet Occasions

Click here for the mapped location of The Cake & Pastry Shop.

They were very busy when we were there getting ready for weddings and other functions. They have great cookies. It's a great place to get some road food for your Port au Port scenic drive.

For lots of great places to see in Western and Central Newfoundland, please visit our Newfoundland Travel Website.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Places to Stay, Cape Onion, Newfoundland

Fog Bank, Cape Onion, NL
Fog bank rolling in, Cape Onion, NL
One of our favorite places we've stayed in Newfoundland is at the Tickle Inn at Cape Onion, NL. The inn is a heritage building and the oldest home in the northern peninsula. The photo above is a view right in front of the inn.

The nearby towns of Ship Cove, NL and Raleigh, NL have very limited services. The Tickle Inn is a bed & breakfast, that also has an option of an evening meal. This was nice for two reasons; Sophie is a great cook and it saves you from a long drive in the evening getting to a restaurant and back.

They'll even sell you a bottle of wine to enjoy with your dinner. We had an amazing afternoon with a glass of wine on the front lawn just enjoying the view.

Update to this blog: We have learned that the owner's of the Tickle Inn have retired and are no longer taking guests. You can still visit their website, they have published a cookbook.

View of Tickle Inn at Cape Onion, from Treena's Trail
View of Tickle Inn from Treen'a Trail

For hikers, you can start on Treena's Trail right in front of the inn. Going west from the inn you climb up a large hill. It's an easy trail with stairs installed. From the hill looking east you can see the Tickle Inn and also the large bay that separates Cape Onion from L'Anse aux Meadows. Looking to the west, on a clear day, you can see the Labrador coast.

Tickle Inn is an ideal location to stay for visiting L'Anse aux Meadows, St. Anthony and Burnt Cape.

Moose Calf, Cape Onion, NL
Moose calf in yard at Tickle Inn
We saw more moose on the road to Cape Onion, then anywhere else in the province. On our trip to the Northern Peninsula, we counted 35 moose and 1 traffic light.

If you are planning a trip to Newfoundland, you may enjoy our Newfoundland Travel website. We focus more on places to visit that are off the beaten path.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Introducing BobsNewfoundland.com

It's a new website about Newfoundland Travel.

We've decided to call it bobsnewfoundland.com .

It's a name that we hope people will remember, but more importantly, we hope people will find our information about traveling in Newfoundland to be useful.

The site has lots of pictures and we have map links for all the locations and for most of the photos. The site is mobile friendly, so our hope is people will find it to be a good resource when they are on the road.

The current site is still being added to. It's about 50% complete at this writing. We've decided to just talk about locations that we've visited, so every trip we'll have some new information.

The sections of the site that are now complete are:

South-West Newfoundland

Gros Morne

Northern Peninsula