John & Judy Maritimes 2017 Trip travel blog

Playing the ugly sticks

Entering a root cellar

Funky Puffins

A well protected potato patch. Need this for my tomatoes in Kelowna

Coastline with stalagmites formed by erosion

Newfoundland horses.

Bridge House. $2,000,000 grant for restoration

Picturesque Trinity

Moose Joose

Fishing boat in Twillingate

Does the wind ever strop blowing here? Apparently not. So far, we have had really good weather but I think that is about to change. Our first stop on our journey was a place called Bonavista on the tip of the Bonavista peninsular. Although there is no definite evidence, Bonavista is widely considered to be the place where John Cabot landed in 1497 and it was here that the first permanent settlement in North America was established by the French in the early 1500's. Cabot's first words, according to chronicles written by his ship’s surgeon, were bonne vista - happy sight. John Cabot, or Giovanni Caboto as was his real name, was an Italian. He was convinced there was a shorter route to the spices and silks of Asia other than around Africa so he set out to prove it. He couldn't get Spain or Portugal to sponsor him but he was able to get King Henry VII of England to support his journey. He didn't find that shorter route and the riches of Asia but he did find 'the New Found Land' and in his words 'waters teeming with fish.' He claimed the ‘new found land’ for England and the rest is history. NFL was the first British Colony and thus began the mighty British Empire.

Just west of Bonavista is the small town of Elliston - the root cellar capital of the world. You all probably remember the root cellars when you were a kid but just in case you are too young for that, it is a small room carved into the hillside and lined with brick or rock. It is here the bounties of the earth from their gardens, (potatoes, turnips, beets, carrots and cabbage) and any preserving they did were kept for winter. Several people had potatoes growing and their gardens were surrounded by fences of sticks to keep the livestock out. I need something like this for my tomato garden to keep the deer out. Elliston also has one of a few puffin colonies. Puffins are birds with brightly colored orange, white and black beaks and orange feet. They spend most of their lives out at sea but come onto the land to give birth to their young.

The town of Bonavista has done an excellent job of preserving their old buildings and restoring them. The first house built in Bonavista was the Bridge House. They have just received a $2,000,000 grant to restore it. You can tell from the picture they will need every bit of that $2,000,000. We learned a lot about the life of the fishermen and women. It was a very hard life with little to show for it. They would catch the fish, clean it, salt it and place it on the fish flakes (racks) to dry. Basically the only ones who made any money were the English merchants. The fishermen and their families would buy their supplies and needs for the winter on credit then pay off their account with their fish harvest. Quite often it was not enough. Today, the fishing industry is very tightly controlled. The fish are being depleted, so many have changed to crabbing. You can still buy cod from the fishermen but you can't buy crab. Nobody can catch a single crab without a license. Canada can only control the first 200 miles of ocean. Beyond that it is international waters and no controls. Unfortunately, the two best breeding areas of the Grand Banks are in the international waters and the overfishing there is effecting Canada's fishing industry.

The French were not to be outdone by the English and sent two of their admirals to establish a French settlement. They sailed into what is now called Trinity Bay on Trinity Sunday, thus giving rise to the name, and established what is today the town of Trinity. Other than for one night, we have stayed in B and B's of which there are many. We have thoroughly enjoyed this and met lots of wonderful people. The hosts/hostesses can't do enough for you and are only too willing to spend time with you. In Bonavista, our hosts introduced us to the 'ugly stick' and the ‘mummers’. At Christmas time, people get dressed up in all kinds of weird costumes and disguise themselves. These are the mummers and they go from house to house to entertain you. This is done mostly in the kitchen. They play the accordion and the ugly stick which is an old mop turned upside down. The mophead is decorated to look like a face and a shoe or rubber boot is placed on the other end. Several bottle caps are nailed to the stick so they make lots of noise as they are banged on the floor. I mentioned that you can make one out of an old mop OR you can buy one for $350 that we saw.

One of the things that Newfies take pride in is their jam making and every b and b we have stayed in has had homemade jams on the table for breakfast. My favorite is the bakeapple jam. This is actually a berry. The most common is partridgeberry jam. . Their blackberry is not like ours at all and is very similar to the blueberry. We went to the only winery in NFL and all of their wines were made from berries. They were quite nice but most were quite sweet. I found their labels and names they gave the wines hilarious. Most of them were a take on life in Newfoundland. Three Sheets to the Wind (referring to the clothes being dried on the line), Moose Joose (referring to the over 100,000 moose they have here), Krooked Kod, Fifty Shades of Bay, Iceberg Blu, Driving to Twillingate, we drove past the town of Lumsden which I guess is as close as they come to a beach resort. Twillingate is located in Iceberg Alley. When the icebergs break off from the glaciers in the spring, they are caught by the currents and float by this town. Icebergs can be from 10 to 750 feet tall. That’s equivalent to seventy five stories high folks. Unfortunately, they had all melted by the time we got there. So now, we are off to the west coast of NFL – a 700 km drive and … it is raining.

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