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We are off to Newfoundland so tag-along with us.

Placentia, Cape St. Mary's Ecological Reserve and Kitchen Party

Saturday, July 9, 2011

It was 21 degrees and sunny again today, so we decided to drive the 300 km Cape Shore Trail, on the Southwestern Avalon peninsula.  Our first stop is Placentia a town of around 4,000.  In the early 16th century Basque Fisherman were attracted to this area, which was very rich in codfish.  Placentia had one of the best protected beaches, fish could be dried right on the rocks.  During the 17th and 18th centuries the French and English fought over this prime fishing area.
  At the summit of Castle Hill, Fort Royal was built by the French to protect their fisheries from the British.  Castle Hill National Historic Park preserves what remains of the fortification.  We then drove a few kms down the road to Argentia, which had a very interesting history. This is  the location to catch the looooong ferry ride back to Nova Scotia, 14 hours.  When WWII broke out in the 1940’s the American Government was looking for a location that would best protect the eastern seaboard and Argentia was selected.  When they arrived to construct the base, the land on which the residents lived had to be evacuated, and the residents were evicted, given one month to leave and received between $3,000 and $6,000 compensation.  The US government wanted to cement over 3 cemeteries, however Father Dee would not give in to this and all the bodies were exhume and relocated to the community of Freshwater. The base was decommissioned in 1994.  Doug certainly was enjoying all the history.  The drive down along the coast was beautiful, the road followed the shoreline and had great views of the ocean.  To get to Cape St Mary's Ecological Reserve we had to drive 13 kms down a very narrow roadway which was surrounded by sub-arctic tundra, with very few trees.  Anyone who knows me knows I do not like being close to birds.  Well, I put on my brave face and walked the 1.4 kms out to the rocks where millions of birds were nesting.  I can't believe I did this, but I've heard so much about it I just had to go.
The sight was amazing!  Literally thousands of birds, Kittiwakes, murres, razorbills and gannets and of course seagulls. This location is the second largest colony of gannets in Newfoundland and the third largest in North America.

Gannets were the closest, thousands of them, many of them sitting on nests filled with downy white chicks.  Gannets are the largest seabirds in the North Atlantic with a wing span of 6 feet, it was awesome to watch them soaring around the cliffs and luckily not too close to me.

 I made sure Doug was standing watch over me, just in case one of those ginormous birds wanted to attack me.  We watched them for half an hour or so and then decide to carry on we were only half way around our trek.  We stop at the Cataract Provincial Park for quick peak at the waterfall that cascades into the gorge in two different locations.
  We finally arrive back at camp around 7:30.  We barely get out of the truck and our neighbour Gerard arrives with a huge cast iron pot of codfish stew.  No hamburgers again tonight.  He had already fed a bunch of other people, so we could have what was left.  OMG there was enough to feed everyone all over again.  He invited us down to his trailer when we were done our supper.  We just can’t say enough about the Newfoundlanders and how they have welcomed us into their province with open arms.  Nancy and Terry were also invited and oh my what a time we had.  Basically we had what they call a “kitchen party”, you sit around the table playing instruments and singing awesome Newfoundland music.
The 4 Ontarians didn’t do much singing but we sure did enjoy the evening of song and conversation, with lots and lots of laughs.  By the time we left around midnight the wind had picked up something fierce.  OMG we thought it was bad in Harbour Breton, well that was nothing to what we were getting in Holyrood.  I thought the walls were going to be blown in on poor Elbroko, and for sure we were going to flip end over end.  What a night, neither one of us got much sleep, every once in a while there would be a huge gust of wind and one of us would say “Hang on we’re going this time”.  We found out the next day the winds were in excess of 100 kms an hour.  It sure made for great conversation in the rec hall the next evening.

Don't Be a Stranger!

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