Day Eighteen: Amherst

This is the view we woke up to this morning. Kelly’s Mountain near Sydney, Nova Scotia.

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As you can see, the fall colours are at their peak, and continued to captivate us during today’s drive.

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Beautiful as it was, I found myself missing Newfoundland and Labrador. The landscape there is so vast and wild, with more trees, mountains and coastline than people. Here there are rolling fields, cattle and sheep grazing, and plenty of towns with gas stations and coffee shops.

We discovered too late that the Celtic Colours International Festival is on now in Cape Breton. How wonderful it would have been to attend a ceilidh! Another trip perhaps.

We skirted away from the TransCanada highway to explore some coastal communities and we considered taking the ferry to Prince Edward Island but our timing was off for that too.

We did stop in Tatamagouche to visit some shops.

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And we came across this delightful lighthouse in Wallace Harbour.

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And this was our view of Prince Edward Island in the distance.

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We also came across a lavender farm in Seafoam (yes, that is a real place).

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And drove past Denmark!

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You never know where your adventures will take you 😁

 

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Day Sixteen: Stephenville

The highlight today was the landscape. We drove in sunshine from Rocky Harbour to Stephenville, albeit via a rather circuitous route. Why drive directly to your destination when there are so many things to explore?

Once again, we saw brilliant colours on tree-covered hillsides followed by rugged mountainsides around the next corner.

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At times, you could see for miles and all you could see was range after range of mountains. I was reminded of that children’s song about the bear going over the mountain to see what he could see. And all that he could see was…another mountain!

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As we approached Stephenville, we turned off and headed out to explore the Port-au-Port Peninsula joined to the mainland by a causeway with a stony beach.

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The area has the most diverse ethnic and linguistic mix on the island including Mi’kmaq, French (descendants of French and Basque settlers from the 1700’s) and Acadians. We saw the Mi’kmaq flag for the first time today, and many of the signs were in 3 languages – French, Mi’kmaq and English.

The drive to Cape St. George and back around was spectacular. Here are some of the amazing views.

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On the way back to Stephenville, we suddenly descended from the mountains to a low coastal beach. The beach itself was made of thin stones that sank under your feet like sand.

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Newfoundland continues to surprise us with its diversity.

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Tomorrow we will be up before the sun to drive a couple of hours to Port-aux-Basques for the ferry to Nova Scotia. I’m not a morning person (as some of you well know!) so it’s a good thing I’m not the one driving 😊

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Day Ten: Newfoundland!

We started our day in Labrador with a long hike along the coast outside L’Anse-au-Clair. The trail took us to the remains of a house built by settlers from Jersey in the Channel Islands between Britain and France. They arrived in the 1800’s and settled along this barren coastline for the seal and cod fishing.  Beautiful as the area is, I can’t imagine coming here 200 years ago and creating a life from scratch.

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Then we drove a few minutes along the highway into Quebec at Blanc Sablon. The ferry to Newfoundland leaves from there.

It was a 1.5 hour ride across the Strait of Belle Isle. No whale sightings today.

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We meandered up the coast from St. Barbe, stopping to check out a couple of hiking trails.

The first one led to a series of unusual bun-shaped “rocks” that are actually among the earliest life forms on Earth. They are called thrombolites and are rare. The only other place they are found is in a place in Western Australia.

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After that we wandered through an area of limestone barrens where 118 of the 300 known rare plants in Newfoundland exist. Many of the low trees and shrubs are several  centuries old.

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I saw a stark contrast in the landscape between Labrador and Newfoundland. In Labrador, the terrain was mountainous with tall black spruce and tamarack. In Newfoundland, the land is very flat along the northwest shore and into the interior. The few trees tend to be scrub brush and you can see for miles.

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Further east, the land becomes hilly and mountainous and the trees grow a bit taller but the variety is different.

On our way to L’Anse-aux-Meadows, we stopped at The Daily Catch, the only restaurant that’s open in the area at this time of the year. The haddock had been freshly caught just off the coast of L’Anse-aux-Meadows and the partridge berry pie was delicious.

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I have it on good authority that the bread pudding with Screech rum sauce was good too 😉

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This is the sunset that greeted us as we turned into L’Anse-aux-Meadows where we will stay for two nights.

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We’re eager to explore the Viking archeological site tomorrow.