Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Cool Places to Shop

Country Crafts is only 30 minutes from the ferry terminal in Port aux Basques. The shop is inside the Grand Codroy RV Park. Just drive into the park and it's on your right.

Arlene carries the best selection of made-in-Newfoundland crafts that you'll find anywhere in the province. You're able to find keepsakes and gifts to fit any budget. Arlene is also a great source of information for neat places to visit from Rose Blanche to Port-au-Port.

Linda loves her hand knit Newfoundland slippers by Esther Keeping. I like the hand-made boats. I have one for myself and have purchased one for a gift.

Corner Brook is the home of the Newfoundland Emporium. It's a large multi-level store in downtown Corner Brook. They have a large eclectic collection of everything Newfoundland. In addition to crafts, you can browse through second hand books, antiques and collectibles. My find was a Joey Smallwood hologram. Newfoundland's first premier handed these out in an election campaign.

Pic a Tenerife is in the south side of Gros Morne National Park. It's on your left just as you are driving into Glenburnie. Their specialty is hand-made quilts. They also have a good selection of knitted items and other hand-made crafts.

Read our rug hooking blog for a couple of other shops we really like. Molly Made Fibre Art Studio is in Woody Point. We'd also recommend that you check out The Roost which is in York Harbour.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Stephenville Area Trails

Stephenville is the gateway to the Port-au-Port Peninsula. If you like to hike, there are several great trails in the area ranging from easy to fairly challenging.

In this blog, links are orange. If you'd like more information about any of these trails, click the link which will take you to our Bob's Newfoundland page about that trail.

Erin Mountain Trail in Barachois Pond Provincial Park is quite challenging. The reward is a spectacular view of the park and Bay St. George. It is also very interesting to see the back country on the other side of the mountain.

The first section of the trail is very easy hiking with well maintained boardwalks and stairs. It takes you about 1/3 of the way up the mountain to a very nice lookout. The rest of the trail to the top of the mountain is fairly challenging. There are stairs, but there are also fairly steep climbs through a very rocky trail. In the Spring, you may be hampered by melting snow runoff, which tends to run down the trail.

When you reach the top of the mountain, take care to stay back from the edges. It can be very windy and weather conditions on the top of the mountain can vary a lot from the base. We went up on a very nice day and had lunch at the summit before our return hike. The total return time for us was about 4 hours.

The Blanche Brook Trail starts right in Stephenville and runs behind some businesses and homes. It's an easy trail that leads to remnants of a petrified forest. You don't have to be a geologist to easily identify the rocks in the stream bed that look like pieces of wood.

The Port-au-Port Peninsula is joined to Newfoundland by a narrow isthmus called The Gravels. It's natural, but looks like it's man-made. The parking lot for The Gravels Trail is on your right just across the isthmus.

The trail is easy hiking and is incredibly well maintained. It's quite lengthy with a couple of offshoot trails. You can decide to do part of it if you like, because it follows the shore of Port-au-Port Bay. It's spectacular scenery all the way.

Don't miss out on driving The French Ancestral Route around the Port-au-Port Peninsula. You will want to stop at the Hidden Falls in Sheaves Cove. It's well named, you could drive right through town and have no idea it was there. If you are not a hiker, you can see the falls from the parking lot. You'll be amazed to learn that all the trails were built and maintained by a local lobster fisherman and property owner. There are two trails. One takes you closer to the foot of the falls. The second trail goes along Bay St. George to a second waterfall that's right at the edge of the bay.

Boutte du Cap at Cape St. George is home to some of the most spectacular scenery on the peninsula. When you drive into the park, the first things you see are the Acadian Monument and a traditional bread oven. The Bread Crumb trail starts behind the bread oven. It's an easy trail that's not really long.

Drive to the end of the point and there are two trails that take you to kittiwake colonies. These trails are more challenging. There is a pretty good climb on the upper trail. The cliffs here are breath-taking, the photographs cannot due them justice.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Nova Scotia to Newfoundland Ferry

Most visitors that drive to Newfoundland will take a ferry from North Sydney, NS. In the summer months (mid-June to end of September) you can take a ferry to either Port aux Basques or Argentia. The Port aux Basques route runs year round. The Port aux Basques ferry takes about 7 hours for the crossing. The Argentia ferry is 14 hours.

If you are going to Port aux Basques, you can either leave at 11:45 AM or 11:45 PM. You need to purchase your tickets in advance on the Marine Atlantic website. The ferries fill up in the summer months, so book as far in advance as you can. Marine Atlantic is currently offering discounts if you book your June trip prior to April 3.

We've always taken the overnight ferry and booked a cabin. The cabin costs about $140 extra, so it's not a lot more than booking a room or bed & breakfast in North Sydney. The overnight ferry arrives in Port aux Basques at 7:00 AM, so we have the entire day ahead of us for our first day on the island.

The return trip from Port aux Basques to North Sydney is the same drill. We leave at 11:45 PM and sleep on the ferry. We get into North Sydney at 7:00 AM and have the entire day in front of us for the trip home.

Marine Atlantic has built two new ferry terminals in both North Sydney and Port aux Basques. The terminals are very nice. They have washrooms, a cafeteria, gift store, tourist information and large sitting areas with TV's. The North Sydney terminal has tourist information for Newfoundland and the Port aux Basques terminal has information for Cape Breton and Nova Scotia.

You are going to want to a have a bag packed before you load on the ferry. Once you load your vehicle you are not allowed to return to your car until the ferry docks on the other side. You may want to pack some Gravol and a small blanket. The ship is very large and we have found all our crossings to be fairly smooth. They don't sell Gravol on the ship, we have been told that you can usually get it from a purser on board.

They start loading the night ferry around 9:30 PM. They make announcements so you have lots of time to get back to your vehicle. The ship has three vehicle decks. If you are loaded on the first deck (just cars and light trucks), you'll be the first on and the last off. If you are driving an RV, you are likely one of the later vehicles to load.

Once you leave your vehicle you can go by stairs or elevator up to decks 7 and 8. Cabins are on deck 8. Deck 7 has reclining chairs, if you did not purchase a cabin. Deck 7 also has a bar, restaurant, gift shop and a snack/lunch counter. On the overnight ferry, the restaurant is only open for breakfast. I don't believe that the gift shop opens.

We book a two berth cabin which is perfect for a couple. You have a TV, two single beds, a private washroom with a shower and a small desk. There is a P.A. system in the cabins. They give you a one hour warning before you dock. That gives you time for a shower. You also have time to go down to the restaurant for breakfast.

There is no WiFi on the ship and your cell phone will only work when you are close to shore. You'll have to do your Facebook update while you are still in the harbour.

We always have breakfast on the ship. They have a short menu that allows them to offer a quick service. If you are heading to Port aux Basques, when you unload at 7:00 AM, the only place that's open is Horton's and it's pretty packed. You have to head quite a ways down the Trans Canada (over an hour) until you get to a highway restaurant. On your return trip, if you want to have breakfast in North Sydney there are quite a few more options.

When you are leaving Newfoundland and sailing to North Sydney, NS there is one difference. They actually inspect your vehicle. You are not allowed to take soil, or plants bearing soil off the island (that includes potatoes). If you've been on some muddy roads, they actually power wash your vehicle before they let you line up.

The sailing times from Port aux Basques are the same, 11:45 AM and 11:45 PM. We've always taken the night ferry. We'll have dinner in Port aux Basques or Margaree and get to the ferry terminal around 8:00 PM.

We book our return trip and cabins all at the same time as our trip to Newfoundland. You just need to print out and keep your email confirmation. You just show that along with your photo ID when you arrive at the ferry terminal gate. They'll give you your boarding passes and the key for your cabin.

Saturday, 27 February 2016


There's an old adage that's used across Canada. "If you don't like the weather... wait". It applies in Newfoundland just about as well as anyplace else. We like to visit little museums. We try to schedule them for rainy day activities.

Often the small community museums will be staffed by volunteers who can give you a guided tour. They also know everything there is to know about the community, so often we will pick up tips on trails or other points of interest.

Take The French Ancestors Route around the Port-au-Port Peninsula. It's one of the prettiest drives on the island and it will bring you to Mainland, home of the Sister's Dream Schoolhouse. Many communities on the peninsula have two names and French populations. La Grand'Terre (Mainland) also has a community park next to the museum with a community bread oven.

We visited in June. The museum had not opened yet, but we were lucky enough to run into the curator who gave us a private tour. She is from nearby Black Duck Brook (L'Anse a Canards). The museum has two main rooms. One is a replica of the schoolhouse. The second room is full of community photos and artifacts.

The view from the schoolhouse window is stunning. It's on the Gulf of St. Lawrence looking out to Red Island, which was populated during the time of the French Shore.

As you drive into Norris Point you will see Jenniex House on your right at the top of the hill. It's a traditional salt box house that was moved to this location as a museum and craft shop. The parking lot for Jenniex house is one of those 'Kodak Spots' in Gros Morne. The view of Bonne Bay and The Tablelands is spectacular.

Broom Point is in Gros Morne National Park. It's just north of Western Brook Pond on the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The Parks Canada staff that did our tour were amazing. They had worked in the fishery before they became park interpreters. There are boats on display along with all kinds of fishing gear. They show you how nets and lobster traps are made. They show you how a lobster trap works. There is also a small cabin that two families lived in during the summer fishery right up to 1975.

Dr. Payne's house was a little larger and better appointed than other homes in Cow Head. Dr. Payne used a generator to produce electricity before hydro arrived in town in the early '60's. Dr. Payne brought the first vehicle to Cow Head, a Chevrolet pick-up truck. The museum also has a craft store with a good selection from local craftspeople.

The Poacher's Lounge Museum is in Selby Parson's backyard. Sharlene our hostess at Aunt Edna's Bed & Breakfast on Little Bay Islands walked us down one morning to check it out. Selby has accumulated all kinds of interesting stuff including my favorite, snowshoes for horses.

Twillingate is one of the top destinations in Newfoundland. If you are putting it on your itinerary, make sure you stop at the Prime Berth Fishing Museum. It's just across the causeway that takes you onto Twillingate Island. The photo above shows the results of a cod splitting demonstration. The cod has been salted and the liver gets thrown in that small bucket by the window.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Newfoundland Waterfalls

Who doesn't like waterfalls? We are pretty thorough when we plan our trips. We did not know most of these waterfalls existed until we got to the area.

You get a nice view of Barachois Falls driving into Rose Blanche. There is a parking area and a great boardwalk trail that takes you to within about a quarter of a mile of the foot of the falls.

We got good advise before we went to the Port-au-Port Peninsula. Drive around the peninsula clockwise. I would also recommend that you take more than a day to visit the peninsula. Sheaves Cove is one of your first stops. Visit our page for details on how to find the Hidden Falls. You have a nice view from the parking area. There is an easy trail that takes you near the foot of the falls. There is a second small waterfall that flows directly into Bay St. George.

If you are eastbound on the TCH, Steady Brook is the next town past Corner Brook. A lot of people stop here, because there is a Tim's right on the highway. The falls is not far from the Tim's. There's an uphill hike and some stairs to get to the viewing platform. There are zip lines running back and forth across the gorge. You can watch as people zip line far above the falls.

When you visit Corner Brook and The Bay of Islands, everybody will tell you to drive the south shore of Humber Arm all the way out to Lark Harbour and Little Port. That is easily one of the most spectacular drives in Newfoundland. We would also recommend that you drive along the north shore to Cox's Cove as well. Stop at Lynn's Takeout for fish 'n chips and ask how to get to the falls. When we were there, the road into the falls was pretty rough. We drove part way in and than left the car and walked down the hill to the falls.

Pissing Mare Falls is not easy to get to. Walk 3 km trail to Western Brook Pond and than take the boat tour 16 km to the far end of the fjord. You'll pass several other waterfalls on the way. The best time for waterfalls is June, because that's when the snow is melting.

With a 140m drop, Rattling Brook Falls is one of the tallest on the island. It's difficult to get a good photo of it. Take the trail and then climb a lot of steps. You also get a beautiful view of Green Bay.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Newfoundland Churches

June 2016 will be our sixth trip to Newfoundland. One of the defining features of almost every community is the white wooden church. I realized over our trips, we had several photos of churches, many in beautiful locations. We have not been very good about recording the names. On future trips, we'll start keeping better records and take some more church photos.

Margaree and Fox Roost is the first community you come to driving east from Port aux Basques on the south coast. The two little communities are right beside each other. The church is on the road that connects the two towns.

Precious Blood R.C. Church is in the Codroy Valley community Saint Andrews. The church was built in 1912 by local carpenters. Saint Andrews can be very windy, It is just down the road from Wreckhouse.

Holy Trinity Church is in a stunning location in Codroy, just down the road from Cape Anguille. That would make this the western-most church on the island. This Anglican church was rebuilt in 1913 after the original was destroyed in a wind storm.

This little church and cemetery is right on the coast of Bay St. George. Highlands is about halfway up the coast between Codroy and the Port-au-Port Peninsula.

Our Lady of Mercy is the largest wooden Catholic church in the province. Construction took 11 years and was completed in 1925. Local men donated 1 week of labour per year to complete the project. If you drive up the coast to Point au Mal, you'll be treated to a view of the church across the bay on your return trip.

Burlington is on the Baie Verte Peninsula and you'll find this little white church on your left as you drive into town.

The Fogo United church is now a museum. The church was originally Methodist and dates back to 1877.

The red steeple of St. Andrew's Anglican Church is a prominent feature in the Town of Fogo. A walk through the cemetery takes you through the history of Fogo.

There are only 300 people living on Change Islands. There are four churches.

In Twillingate, the first thing that you will notice is the cross on the hill overlooking town. It's a great hike up to the cross and you are awarded a spectacular view of Twillingate.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Edible Plants of Newfoundland and Labrador

Book Review

We're just starting to plan our June trip. We are pretty excited, this year we'll visit Labrador for the first time. We'll have lots of new information to add to the website and the blog.

One thing we like to do in the winter to get ready for the trip is to order in some books. This blog is a short review on the field guide "Edible Plants of Newfoundland and Labrador" by Peter J. Scott, published by Boulder Publications.

The book covers by my count 64 edible plants. They are organized by where you will find them; heaths, forest floor, peatlands, seaside, banks and shores, disturbed areas.

The book contains beautiful full page photographs. For some plants such as the dogberry shown above, they also have a small inset photo to show what it looks like while in flower. For berries, they'll tell you when they are ripe and what you can do with them in the kitchen.

You could actually use this book if you wanted to forage for a meal. That probably won't be happening for Linda and I. We like to hike and it's just nice to be able to identify different plants. When we see berries, beyond blueberries and raspberries, we are never sure if you can take a nibble. We usually don't carry books on the hike, but you can always take a photo and than identify the plant when you get back to the trailer at night.

The book has an illustrated glossary for some of the terms used in the descriptions. This will be useful, I've forgotten most of my high school biology.

If you are really keen and want to cook something up with your harvest, the book has a recipe section in the back.

You can purchase this book from . Click this link to purchase.

American readers can purchase this book at Click this link to purchase.

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