Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Ceilidh on Cape Breton Island, September 2015

We stayed at Englishtown near to St Annes on Cape Breton Island for nearly a week. There is Gaelic music everywhere on Cape Breton Island and on our first night we went to ceilidh (loosely translated as kitchen party) at the Red Shoe Tavern in Mabou. Three hours of amazing Cape Breton fiddling.  

Argentia, NL to North Sydney, NS

Newfoundland has been a high point of this journey. Three weeks on the island was just not enough time. There are major areas we did not get to see including the Bonaventure peninsula. We were sad to leave. 

To depart we took the ferry from Argentia in Newfoundland to North Sydney in Nova Scotia. Argentia is adjacent to Placentia, which was an important fishing port (Plaisance) for the French in the 17th and 18th century. The ferry is modern and well equipped. We had a deluxe berth which was functional but spacious. A particularly good buffet dinner and off to bed early. 

Waiting to board in heavy fog

Leaving Argentia

Off the coast of Nova Scotia

Coming in to North Sydney

MV Blue Puttees and MV Lief Ericsson in port. The Blue Puttees is under repair for six weeks. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Quidi Vidi, St John's, Newfoundland, September 2015

Quidi Vidif harbor at St John's is just impossibly pretty. Set on a tiny harbor, with the river coming down from Quidi Vidi lake up the hill. 

The rope store for the fishing port has been rebuilt and repurposed as a craft incubator

The stream coming down from Quidi Vidi lake. There is a fish ladder to allow trout and salmon to move upstream.

The harbor. Could it be more pretty?

Our most easterly point, Cape Spear, Newfoundland, September 2015

We reached the most easterly point of our trip at Cape Spear Lighthouse, south of St John's. This is as far east as you can go in North America -- at least as long as you accept Greenland as being in Europe, which of course it is not. And, actually, there is a bit of Alaska that is on the other side of the International Date Line and technically more east than this. But let's accept Cape Spear as advertised. The lighthouse was first constructed in 1832 on a bluff high above the Atlantic. After many changes, the original lighthouse lasted until the 1950s. Parks Canada has restored it to its late 1830s appearance. We now turn West and South on our return travel to Los Angeles. 

Perched up on one of the shrubby spruces was a mature bald eagle, just looking at the valley and out to sea. 

Modern lighthouse with the original lighthouse in the background.

Original lighthouse

Looking from the original lighthouse. St John's and Signal Hill to the left.

The lighthouse keeper, his family and an assistant stayed all year at the lighthouse. 


Originally the light was fired with Sperm oil, which burns very strongly. Then seal oil, paraffin and finally electricity in the early 1920s. 

Replicas of the light chimney

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Jellybean House, St John's, Newfoundland, September 2015

And so on to St John's, the capital city of Newfoundland. There are only a little over 500,000 residents in the province and more than 200,000 of those are in St John's. It is a very old city, going back nearly 500 years. There were many fires but a particularly bad fire in 1892 -- the Great Fire. As a result, many houses were put up quickly in the couple of years after the fire. In the 1970s, Most were in the Second Empire style. In the 1970s, the local preservation society, the Heritage Foundation, started buying some of these houses, that had become very rundown. They restored them and resold them -- but painted them in bold colors. This just caught on -- one resident said to us that it was "like a virus." It is now a major industry, and you can buy a variety of artworks.  Here are some examples of jellybean houses.

Houses on Kimberly Row, in the Second Empire style

Houses on Kimberly Row, in the Second Empire style

Fogo Island Inn, Fogo Island, Newfoundland, September 2015

The largest project of the Shorefast Foundation is the Fogo Island Inn, again designed by Todd Saunders. It is a very high end, all inclusive hotel and a bit different from our RV park. It stands on an exposed area towards the sea at Joe Batts Arm.  We ate lunch there (food was excellent, but not outstanding) and then took a guided tour that they offer to locals and visitors not staying at the hotel.

Local themed front door to the hotel

Passage with all timber walls. The paneling is built like a local fishing boat.

Airwell above the sitting area

Locally made furniture

Dining Room

Looking from sitting area to bar and dining room

Looking from the other side of Joe Batts Arm


Our only Caribou, Fogo Island, September 2015

There are more than 200 caribou on the island. We went looking for the caribou -- and eventually saw a juvenile happily munching on the soccer field opposite the Fogo Central Academy. And then saw him several times. 

Tilting, Fogo Island, Newfoundland, September 2015

The town of Tilting is one of the oldest locations on Fogo Island. The town has Irish roots that go back to the 1750s. We met Ron Dwyer, a local author, on the ferry across to Fogo. He is also a story teller of some renown. Fogo is one of many lovely harbors on Fogo.  

The oldest building still extant. From 1780s.

Zita Cobb's artist's studios on Fogo Island, Newfoundland, September 2015

 Zita Cobb's first major exercise with the Shorefast Foundation was to build four artist studios, each designed by Todd Saunders. Fogo Island Arts is the vehicle used for this project. Each of the studios can only be reached by foot and we hiked to each. They are truly amazing. There are no words to describe this initiative. You just have to visit to see.

I have yet to load photos from the Long Studio which were taken with my Nikon rather than the phone.

Squish studio at Tilting --- the most striking location

Squish studio

Squish studio

Squish studio

The Bridge studio.

The Bridge studio.

The Bridge studio.

View from the Tower Studio

Rear of the Tower studio

Tower studio