July – Newfoundland
We flew into St. John’s (since the 14 hour ferry is more expensive…?) and stayed with my roommate from when I lived there a few years back. I always love hanging out with Jill. She’s always a lot of fun, especially when she’s drinking champagne. (Hi Jill!)
We were only in town a day when we found Allan Hawco, star of the TV show “Republic of Doyle” on the street with his signature muscle car, waiting to shoot a sequence for next season’s show. Maria didn’t miss the photo op, though she was sad that he had his shirt on.
At Cape Spear we saw whales feeding on capelin.
We hiked the North Head Trail up Signal Hill, an old favourite of mine. Here is a the view of Ft. Amherst.
We also spent a day visiting the #2 Mine on Bell Island.
On the way back we crossed paths with some dolphins!
We left for Fogo Island after a week, which to me was to be the ultimate highlight of our whole trip. There’s something about going to Fogo Island for me that can’t fully be explained, especially when I’ve been away for so long. It’s a 4.5 hour ride from St. John’s, and that just gets you to the ferry. We had done the trip without a car, so we took the bus to Gander and had banked on the kindness of strangers to get the extra 45 minutes out the rural Gander Bay Road to the terminal. When I was a kid, you could hitchhike anywhere in Newfoundland, and it wouldn’t be long before someone picked you up.
We’d come prepared!
I wasn’t sure how long we’d have to spend on the side of the road, and was astonished to find it only took 6 minutes before we were picked up by a great guy named Randy. He told us he was only going as far as a bridge that’s about halfway there, but that was fine, we’d just find another ride the rest of the way.
When we got to the causeway at the halfway point, he decided to just take us the rest of the way to the ferry. Just for the hell of it. Just because he was an awesome guy. He wouldn’t take any money for gas, and by 2pm we were at the ferry dock. Unreal. I was worried be stuck in Gander overnight.
At the ferry we had no problem finding a ride across the island. We weren’t even on the boat yet and we met a guy who secured a ride for us with his niece and her husband- who happened to be the first cousin of my good friend from Fogo. That’s Fogo – everyone knows someone, or has a relation to them. We made it to our destination before dinner time. It made the homecoming that much more sweet.
It was not only incredible to be back home on Fogo Island, but it was sweetened by being able to bring Maria with me and share my spiritual home with her. (Corny!) We had traveled to the most north-eastern tip of Canada, and stayed in a heritage home that was only metres away from the most north-eastern tip on the whole island.
The Sexton house, where we stayed.
From the kitchen window at the back of the house, we watched minke whales feeding as the sun began to set. From across the road at the front of the house, we saw humpback whales breaching and leaping into the air. Fogo island has a certain kind of magic that can’t be explained. Those who make the effort to travel out there immediately understand it.
View from the window above the kitchen sink.
View from my favourite spot in the attic.
Town of Tilting:
The new Fogo Island Inn in Joe Batt’s Arm.
A view of Eastern Tickle on the north side of the island, hiking toward the small inlet called Lion’s Den.
Pitcher plant (think Newfoundland’s version of the Venus Flytrap.)
View of Lion’s Den, where my grandfather’s family once lived before they moved into the town of Fogo. If you can read the plaque you’ll see our family mentioned there.
Panoramic of the town of Fogo.
The following are from the Bleak House Museum in Fogo, where many of my family’s personal items are on loan:
We had timed our trip to see my friend Craig compete in The Fogo Island Punt Race, a somewhat new annual event that features a rowboat race across the open Atlantic ocean – 11 kms there and back. The race had been scheduled for Saturday, but was hastily postponed on Friday night for fear of rough seas the next day. Turns out the next day was in fact, a great day for rowing, and that Sunday, the day of the race, turned out to be challenging for everyone. 3 teams had to be taken off the water due to rough seas.
Craig and Kevin did it though, winning the race in 1 hour and 50 minutes – a time Maria had precisely predicted the day before! The next team came in 28 minutes later.
We left Fogo with Craig and returned to St. John’s for our flight back to Toronto. I always hate to leave the island. It never fails to break my heart, a sentiment shared by most people who visit there. The only thing that makes it possible is knowing that one day I’ll be back. Every return there for me is a great recharge, a resettling of molecules overly-jostled by travel and the experience of other cultures. One day I’d love to have a summer home there.
Toronto (Part II)
We had just about a week to say our farewells to friends and family back in Toronto. We had to pack our things in preparation for our move to Mongolia, and collect all of the things we were told might be hard to get there. I took the opportunity in Toronto to invest in some photography lights, so that upon our arrival to Ulaanbaatar I will have with me a portable photo studio. Something to keep me occupied during those long cold winters.
We said our goodbyes for another few years, and left for BC to see my family one more time.
So begins the next part of our lives – a two (or more) year stint in Mongolia where we will work as teachers. Other than work, I’ll be busy padding my photography portfolio, working on a novel I’ve outlined over the summer, and might even DJ a bit on the side (brought my mixer with me just in case!) I have a feeling our lives there will provide ample material for creative pursuits.
After 5 months of being on the road, constantly moving from place to place and living out of bags and suitcases, we’re both ready to do nothing for at least the next year. Nothing seems more exciting to both of us right now than the idea of getting to our new apartment, unpacking, and starting this next chapter.