Monday, 29 August 2011

Icebergs and Vikings

Well here we are the morning of Monday August 29th and by all appearances are experiencing a mild fringe weather system related to Hurricane Irene.  We are camped right on the Western Coast of Nfl at a little place called Cow Head - attended live theater here last evening (well done).  We are looking out over the Gulf of St. Lawrence - getting some gusty winds and intermittent rain showers.  It is very warm and humid outside - related to the warm tropical air in the storm I guess.  We are further East from where the brunt of the storm hit the Maritimes.

We had planned a boat tour of the awesome Fjords of Gros Morne Ntl Park today - but think we'll sit the day out and wait for a better day.  Traveling the West coast of the Northern Peninsula takes time - there are many frost heaves in the Hwy and there are many little villages (coves and inlets) that the road winds through.  Very picturesque and interesting.  It is close to a 5 hour drive from St. Anthony to Gros Morne.

We finished off our St. Anthony visit with a tour of the Viking landing site at L'Anse Aux Meadows - a National Historic Site and only authenticated Viking landing site in North America - and the earliest evidence of Europeans in the Western Hemisphere.  This site dates back 1000 years and was excavated in the 1960's.  Between artifact and Saga they figure Leif Erickson, son of Eric the Red. landed here with a group of about 90 people in the late 900's.  It is felt the site was inhabited for about 20 years - and the goal was to find wood for homes and boats - as the main habitation was on Greenland where there was no wood to meet their needs.  Also at this site, they discovered bog iron - which they laboriously processed into low grade nails - further to meet their everyday needs.

Another interesting site in St. Anthony was the Grenfell Museum and original house.  Sir Wilfred T Grenfell was an outpost Dr. who came to the area in the late 1800's and established an incredible number of hospitals, nursing stations, orphanages and schools in Northern Nfl and Labrador.  He was a very charismatic energetic character - totally devoted to his work and inspired many to come on board and continue his work while he traveled extensively on speaking tours to raise funds for the cause.  His contribution is truly impressive.

We rounded a curve coming into St. Anthony, Nfl and this is what we saw!

Indentations in the earth - evidence of a Viking house dating back 1000 years +

A replica of a Viking house from the late 900's early 1000's - the house is built using blocks of bog with the walls 3' to 6' thick - making them amazingly warm on this harsh coast.

Doorway into the Viking bog block house - fires inside with small roof top openings meant that the women who worked inside at their 'work' - suffered a lot of lung diseases.

Sculpture at the Viking site - depicting the merging of ancient cultures

an example of wood piles that we would see beside homes in all the little villages and coves - besides oil, they rely on a good supply of wood to heat their homes.

The Shaw's in awe of the Bergs!  Sad though - as this is also an example of our melting ice cap!

A better shot of one of many roadside gardens that we saw.  Apparently the roadside has the best soil, as when building the Hwy they scraped off what little top soil there was and piled it at the roadside.  These are all private gardens belonging to the locals - and no one bothers a garden that is not theirs.  Amazing!!!!

Sir Wilfred T Grenfell - an amazing man who served the health care, social service and educational needs of the people in the Northern Nfl and Labrador area for his entire life!

Took a wee drive over to Goose Cove - and bingo - another awesome Berg - note the fissure on the right hand side - it is going to calve soon!

One of many roadside wood piles along the Hwy.  Not sure where they get all this wood as the trees we saw were not this big.

Overlooking St. Antony with another view of the Bergs down in the Harbor!

Wind molded trees growing along the shore line en route to Port Au Choix - we think it can be a little windy along this shore.

Maritime Archaic burial site at Port au Choix dating back 5000 years
On our drive down to Cow Head we stopped at another Ntl. Historic Site - Port Aux Choix where also in the 1960's they excavated evidence of habitation in this resource rich area dating back 5000 years.  Unlike the Northern tip and Labrador area, the ancient peoples here had a more prosperous and healthy existence.  The artifacts here are amazingly well preserved.

After the Gros Morne area our destination will to cross over the the East coast - St. Johns and area.  That will be a two day drive minimum.  Our visit to Nfl may be more than two weeks as we had originally planned!

Friday, 26 August 2011

August 21-25 Getting to the Rock

After Salem we journeyed toward NB, crossing into Canada at Woodstock.  We fueled up just before crossing the border at $1.05/L - in Moncton our fuel was $1.32/L - Ouch!  But we figured out that we paid $90 + in Tolls between Buffalo, NY and Woodstock, NB - so you can't have it both ways we figure!

After we crossed the border into NB our GPS went wonky - it couldn't find Moncton or any other destinations that we tried to punch in.  We thought it was our system so Barry checked with a Dodge dealer in Moncton and this has happened to others.  He said once we get into the Montreal area it will come back and be fine.  Now Margaret II (aka Sandra) (the GPS is Margaret I)  has to be on top of the maps and destinations so Barry doesn't have to make too many U turns with the rig.  Good thing there aren't too many major roads or interchanges in Nfl.

We crossed to Nfl on Tuesday the 23rd (a 5 1/2 hour sail) and had to park the rig in the dark once we landed - something we don't like to do - brings back memories of backing into a tree when we were in Alaska.  Margaret II got out with a walkie talkie to help the process - so no tree issues.

Arm of Gold (aptly named) RV Park near the Ferry dock in North Sydney - the rigs absolutely roll in - either coming from or going to the Ferry

Nfl Ferry - Blue Puttes - one BIG boat!  We were able to leave Buddy in the trailer and he was just fine.  We had 747 like comfortable seats on the 8th deck!

The Traveling Shaw's on the Ferry

Coming into dock at Port Aux Basques, Nfl

On the Rock!

Buddy sipping from a fresh water stream that is flowing into Bonne Bay

Sunset on Bonne Bay in Gros Morne Ntl. Park.  We stopped here for the night en route to St. Anthony.

The Viking Trail - the drive from Port Aux Basques to St. Anthony is about 8 hours.  We took two days to get there.

A power line pole secured with this crib of rocks.  We saw many of these and figure that they are unable to dig the poles down deeply enough so hence the rock crib. to secure the pole.

One of many wood piles all along the Viking Trail - we figure many people likely heat their homes with wood.

One of many wee garden plots along Hwy 430 (the Viking Trail) - some had scare crows and many had sheets of flapping plastic tied to the fencing - to scare away the critters I guess.  These appeared to be in the middle of nowhere.

Half mast flag in honor of Jack Layton

We started up the Viking Trail (West Coast of the North Peninsula) toward St. Anthony with plans to tour Gros Morne and Port Aux Choix en route until we heard that St. Anthony Harbour was FULL of ice bergs - something the old timers up there have never seen in their life time.  So we boogied straight up in order not to miss this spectacle.  Many have already left they said - I guess one morning it was real foggy and when the fog cleared people were awe struck by the towering giants (like high rises) looking down on their little town.  For some reason our ice berg pictures did not up load.  Will include them with the posting of the Viking Ntl. Historic sight which we are visiting today - Friday August 26.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

August 20, 2011 - Salem, Maine

Before leaving the Boston area we just had to soak up a little bit of witch craft in Salem.  From elementary school days (a very long time ago) Sandra remembered tid bits about the Salem Witch trials of 1692!  Well they have built an entire tourist attraction around this little piece of history.  Of course when you look at it - these New England States are in the same era as our old Quebec City - much older that us Westerners by about 400 years!

We were actually hooked up and en route when we stopped here, so there were some interesting (tense) moments of driving our rig through some very narrow, winding and unforgiving streets.  Well Barry had no hair to begin with and has even less now!  We made it though!

The Salem Witch Museum had an excellent over view of this era.

One of the few fellows who spoke out against the insanity of the charges etc.  He did hang, leaving his pregnant wife and        young  child fend for themselves.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Arresting Bridget Bishop

Five Hysterical young girls who instigated the entire affair!

Midwife Witness

The Accused - Bridget Bishop

Farmer neighbor - witness

Another witness

A deranged witness!

We (the Puritan Public) set her FREE!

Sandra's Father was named John Bertram!

One could spend 2 or 3 days here, we had a few hours, but did manage to tour the Witch Museum and a re-enactment of a pre-trial hearing of a woman accused of being a witch.  The fellow at the information booth said the Museum was hysterical and the re-enactment was historical.  He was right - but we did enjoy both and learned a bit about this piece of history.  Sadly, bored young girls of the era set in motion a chain of events that cost 19 innocent people their lives - all by hanging except one who was crushed to death.  A very sobering time and a blemish on our history.

Now we are off up through Maine and back into Canada at St. Stephen,NB - not sure of  internet connections from here on in.  Will keep trying.

BS, SS & B

PS:  Since we are on a couple of driving days here we try for the Walmart 'overnight' (to minimize $$$ and make up for all those darned tolls) if they allow it.  Because we were at Salem we pulled into Augusta, Maine late and Walmart looked like a campground.  Didn't have to bother asking their permission this time.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Aug. 17 - 19, 2011 New York to Maine

Well we are getting pretty relaxed about Border crossings now.  No major questions this time crossing into New York State at Buffalo, the only concern seemed to be if we had any illegal immigrants tucked aboard - so the agent peeked into every nook and cranny of the trailer.  Nope no one there!  But our biggest issue was with the toll booths - not having any experience with these - of course we have a 50% chance of getting in the right lane - oops wrong lane - we didn't have an EZ Pass.  Oh well we were waved through but were chastised on the other end for not having a slip or chip or something to show to the check out person.  But we still paid.  All told we had to pay about $63 in  toll fees by the time we got to the Boston area - now that would be about half a tank of fuel for us! This kind of defeated the savings gained on less expensive fuel - oh well!!!!!

We had a bit of an issue with a broken black water valve - so sat in a Camper World parking lot in 'Syracuse' (Sandra got a lesson in pronunciation here - our 'accent' is becoming obvious) for 2 - 3 hours waiting for them to check it and fix it - which they did - but just a temporary patch.  Hope it holds.  We always find other neat things for the RV at Camper World, so this stop did cost us a bit more than it had to!!

Our headache the 'Toll Booth' - stay out of EZ Pass!

The Fire House in Old Towne Boston - still functioning

An example of old towne Boston architecture - Condominiums that use to be on the bay (now reclaimed land) and way back when they would throw their garbage out the windows and the tide would take it out to sea.  After the land was reclaimed, they had to break the throwing out the garbage habit!

Guess where we had lunch?

WWII Destroyer - very interesting - the metal sheathing was no more than 3/8 - 5/8 of an inch thick hence the saying "Tin Can Sailors".  It survived a few hits and has been restored for posterity!

Barry in front of the Cassin Young

An example of the heavily wooded countryside surrounding the Interstate we traveled on through upper State New York and Maine

Looking for Walmart somewhere in this area?  No luck!  Had to make a couple of U turns!  Right!

Bobby Orr

The 'old' and the 'new'!

Kings Chapel - Boston

State House - Boston - the dome used to be copper, then a grey paint during WWII, and now gold leaf!

Another neat old building

Old State House - historical sight during the American Revolution - speeches and a call to arms!

USS Constitution - The oldest commissioned battleship in the world - and to hold this distinction it must sail 1 nautical mile per year.  This battleship was never defeated and dates back to the War of 1812 - it was nicknamed "Old Iron-sides".

The neatest fire pit we've ever  seen in an RV Park or Campground
We were amazed at the heavy bush all through upper New York State - and we mean heavy!  And even into Maine.  You are driving near towns and other habitation and absolutely cannot see any of this from the Interstate.  Once we got into Maine, we realized that there just are not many campgrounds or RV parks.  We finally found one about an hour out of Boston - phoned ahead and secured a spot that would hold us.  We kind of got lost trying to find a Walmart that we were told was in the area - guess it was burried in the bush somewhere.  We never did find it but did find the RV Park and managed to get parked with the attendant's assistance.   Lots of big trees - so no satellite but we had awesome internet connections without using our Verizon.

We thoroughly enjoyed our day in Boston once we got there.  Had to figure out how to get to the public transit and then to navigate that maze.  Managed to not get lost - which is amazing.  Boston proudly portrays its role in the American Revolution - kicking the British out - and establishing Independence.  This theme is woven through the fabric of the history of the region - Paul Revere's ride, the Boston Tea Party etc etc etc.  Interesting how "Taxes" have remained such an issue all these 200 years plus and still to this day.  We didn't realize it, but Boston today is 75% reclaimed land.  Many of the old building we saw used to be on the wharf but now are well inland.

Before leaving the area we enjoyed a bowl of Boston (New England)  Clam Chowder and a serving of Boston Cream Pie!!!! 

Tomorrow - Salem!