Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Was this your last summer "Hurrah" Newfoundland?

Last week, my friends and I took a mid-week day off work and drove the 6 hr return trip to one of the ONLY sandy beaches on the west coast of Newfoundland. We have miles and miles and miles of rocky coastline; my childhood swims always included wearing a pair of worn sneakers to walk into the water. So sandy beaches are much revered.  

We travelled to Burgeo. First you're on the highway, then you're driving through the forest; but the last third of the trip takes you through the barrens which are quite beautiful; every corner brought a new, magnificant vista --- mountains and hills, fjords and ponds, boulders and meadows; and so many shades of green!

When we reached the village of Burgeo, we headed straight for the beach which is part of Sandbanks Provincial Park. The map showed 6 separate beaches divided by rocks, dunes and an interwoven 7 km trail: we visited 3 of these beaches. 

It was a lovely day; sunny, with temps around the 22 C (72 F) mark. I was reminded of beach walks in Nova Scotia with my international students. I didn't realize how much I missed that until I saw the long expanse of sand and heard the waves. I must confess, I did tear up a little. I miss my second home. :( 

Off came our sandals and into the cold north Atlantic went our feet as we waded through the waves.  We walked and walked and walked. At one point, I just lay down on the sand and let the warmth of the sun and the sound of the ocean envelop me. Heaven! 

Up and over dunes; climbing the rocks was a little more difficult, especially coming down. But we did it rather than climb the wooden stairs. I felt like a kid again. The bay was full of rocks and islands; you can actually take a ferry to one of the larger islands, Ramea, where people still live. And because it was a mid-week September, the area was almost entirely ours. 

We drove around this pretty little village and found a steep, high set of steps leading to a lookoff where you can get a 360 view of Burgeo. Spectacular view!

By this time, the day was getting late. We found a little restaurant and ate a relaxing dinner of fish 'n' chips (local cod, so fresh, I almost slapped it!) Yum yum!

Then we headed back to Corner Brook, tired and satiated.  On the return trip, we saw a moose eating dinner in one of the bogs; we saw an eagle in flight; then we met this little guy. 
We slowed the car and pulled over. Mr Fox walked to our car and said (Yes, I'm sure I heard him): "Please sir! I want more!" 

So, I gave him the leftover pieces of fish to take home to his family as I'm sure they needed it much more than I did. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

A View from the Top

Saturday was another wonderful hike with my group when we hiked South Head Lighthouse, a 7 km return hike which ascends 330 meters into the mountain range behind Lark Harbour. 

We started the hike at the parking lot by the beach and began a gradual climb through the forest. It was cool and fragrant in the shade of the trees; we stopped for pictures at the waterfall. But shortly after that, we came to the real killer ...
... this meadow!

By the time we reached the meadow, the sun was directly overhead and at it's hottest; and there was nowhere to hide for the rest of the climb. We followed a zig zag line up between the 2 mountains with occasional stops to rest our weary legs and lungs and to let other hikers pass.

Here's the view looking down. You can see the parking lot and the beach in the far, far distance. Wow! And luckily, I found a great walking stick to help me. 

The dogberry trees were once again heavily laden with berries. And once we reached the top of the meadow and began the last leg of our journey over the mountain top, there were blueberries everwhere! They were small and a little tart. (Kind of like me as a teenager!)

What a spectacular view at the top! We sat and ate lunch together and enjoyed the beautiful sunshine and the ocean/island(s) view. 

Corner Brook is at the end of a very long bay known as the Bay of Islands. Wee Ball (which you see here) is one of the largest islands therein.

Here's a panoramic view of where we all dined:

On my left is a slightly different way to meet up with the return path. And directly in front of me was, of course, WeeBall and the Atlantic.

If I turned my head to the right, I follow this mountain top to the valley below where we spotted 3 moose also eating lunch. Everyone was hungry, I guess! 

This has been my favorite hike to date. The view at the top is just so magnificant! The area around Lark Harbour has 6+ trails of all sizes and range of difficulty. I hope we do more before the cold temperatures set in. 

Into the vehicles and just a short jaunt down the road to our next hiking stop, Marlene's Tidewater Cafe and Crafts. What a joy it was to sit outside with a coffee and lemon square, resting my feet in front of this view.

I live in a beautiful province. 

(And when I'm buried in snow and ice from December to May, I shall repeat this mantra!)

Monday, August 28, 2017

"Havin' a Toime" at the Cabin

This past weekend (an extra long one for me) was chock full of fun. So much so, that I need to rest and live a totally boring life for at least a week! I'm not as young as I used to be! Let me tell you about my time at "the cabin".

Newfoundlanders love their weekend retreats - cabins, cottages, sheds, whatever. Lots of people go the usual route: buy a piece of land on a lake, build a cabin, fill it full of hand-me-downs and go there every weekend with the family and friends. But even the poor can have a "cabin" here in NL. If you've got a dwelling, a tent to pitch or a vehicle that has enough room for you to sleep in, then you've got a ready made "cabin". Just take practically any of the many woods or logging roads, find a spot (where there's preferably at least there's one other human), and there ya go! Set up your camp! If the logging companies don't want you on that particular piece of land, they'll not only let you know you aren't allowed, but they'll also show you where you can pitch your tent! Amazing huh, that there are still places like this in the world.

Anyway, my sister's "cabin" is an old travel trailer that's not roadworthy any longer but has certainly got lots of dry, weather-proof life left in her. We packed some food, drink and both cool and warm clothing, and off we went shortly after supper. 10 km off the highway -- past I don't know how many other side logging roads -- we finally reached our home for the next 2 nights. 

The logging companies clear cut areas in NL, leaving the birch trees and the brush where they are. This leaves the area looking like some sort of alien landscape or post-apocalyptic scene. It's quite sad really while at the same time quite beautiful in it's starkness. 

Important things first: make a fire in the pit outside, put the fresh corn on to boil, and make our beds. Then the fun could begin. 

The nights are chilly here in NL. But Linda always has extra hats and woods jackets on hand. We wouldn't win any best-dressed titles, but we were warm, watered and fed, the fire was crackling, the ancient radio was doing the same, and we danced in front of the flames. (Well, maybe that was only me.)

The next day dawned bright, sunny and warm. We took a drive to Pinchgut Lake for ice cream and a short walk round. We drove down several alien roads looking for moose which are usually plentiful. And on our return trip, we chased a caribou. Well, actually we were following him as he had to wait for the right spot to get off the road onto the scrub land and he refused to "pull over" and let us pass. Poor little guy!

Some favorite Newfie sayings.
Friday evening round the fire was cut somewhat short because of rain. But white wine, cheesies and a good book were just fine in the trailer.  We were home before 1 pm Sat afternoon; and even though I had a wonderful time, how good it is to sleep in one's own bed, huh! 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Weekend Wanderings

This weekend's hike took place in Gros Morne, our amazingly beautiful national park and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Park is full of hiking trails, from flat, easy walks to Gros Morne mountain itself (which we have on our agenda for the fall)

After Marble Mountain last weekend, this time we choose 2 fairly easy hikes with only slight elevations, ate lunch in between and dinner together afterwards. 

The first leg of our hike was Lomand River. It was a lovely day, not too hot with a slight breeze. We walked 6 km (about 2 hr) along a very pretty woodland path surrounded by ferns, wildflowers and lots of berries. We saw moose footprints and bear droppings, but our chattering group of 7 kept them at bay. At one point, we walk along the Lomand River; and we stopped for a picture at the river with the mountains on the other side. 

The last leg of this 1st hike took us through a well-known children's camp (Killdevil) and down the road to Lomand Campgrounds and the trail for our 2nd hike Stanleyville. At the campgrounds, we stopped for lunch, much needed rest and, thankfully, flush toilets! Hurrah!
Hot, sweaty and happy!
What a view!

The 2nd leg of our hike was a fairly steep climb up, a little flat terrain and then down again (which was then repeated in reverse order for our return). And despite the warnings of a bear in the area, we didn't see any scat on this trail. Just more beautiful flora and fauna and, of course, the wonderful smell of spruce trees. 

The Stanleyville hike was 4 km (1.5 hr), and we were all a little slower on this leg, especially with the elevations. In the early 1900's, Stanleyville was a small logging town but has been deserted for more than 80 years. There was never a road into Stanleyville; everything happened by boat. Park authorities placed a couple of Adirondack chairs on the beach which changes every year due to winter storms; and because of a pool of standing water, the black flies were brutal! So, despite the beauty all around us, we didn't stay too long ...........

..... just long enough to have a rest, and dip our toes in the water. 

Once back at the cars, we said goodbye to two and the remaining five of us drove into the picturesque town of Woody Point for dinner on the deck at the Merchant Warehouse & Retro Cafe. The fish and chips were delicious and the beer ice cold. Ahhhhh!

It was a long day -- we left at 9:30 from Corner Brook and didn't return until just before 8 pm. But what a day it was. Another lovely hiking experience with the group. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The View from Marble

I'm in fairly good shape: a little overweight but fit enough to hike 8-10 km, run after my grandchild, and dance several hours (with or without music!) But at this stage in my life, I know that I'm slowly losing my agility and ability. So when my hiking group said they were hiking Marble Mountain, I thought "I must go! Heaven knows if my body can wait another year." 

The Mountain itself is a popular skiing resort, but hiking, zip lining and swimming above the falls are all popular summertime activities. The climb to the top of the ski hill's highest peak is about 1,800 ft ...... and we climbed further and higher to the radar doppler. AND wouldn't you know, it was a really, really hot day to climb. Oh dear! What a bunch of dorks!

There were about 11 of us who started together, everyone going at their own pace. Two of us (and our wobbly knees) acted as caboose, not reaching the summit for 30 min after the first long-legged ones got there -- our 2 hr to their 1.5 hr. But what a magnificant climb! The beginning was through the woods over rocks and tree roots, but the greater portion of it was done on a steep, rocky service road with narry a bit of shade to be found.

In no time, we were at the wooden stairs and the lookouts. There were people ziplining over the falls when we reached one of the lookoff points. Right at the top of the falls (your far right), there's a deep, recessed pool; and there must have been over a dozen young people swimming. It sure looked good to us on our way back down the mountain, hot and sweaty as we were!

And there was such an abundance of wild flowers -- Yarrow, Bog Orchids, Ox-Eye Daisies -- as well as wild strawberries (about 3-4 days from perfection), raspberries and these little dew berries -- tart and so refreshing. At one spot about 3/4 of the way up, there were butterflies everywhere. It was so beautiful.
Fire Weed & Devil's Paintbrush

My hiking companion and I took lots of water breaks and would often stand in the ditch to get out of the sun. Half way up at the top of a few of the ski trails, this was our view:
We are looking down towards Steady Brook along the Humber River heading north to Deer Lake.

"Hey! What took you so long?"

Finally .... after many more rest and water stops, we reached the top. What a feat for my feet! Our companions were waiting for us, already finished their lunch and some of them actually on their way back down. But there were a few of us to savor the view. 

Cheese and pickle on rye never tasted so good!

And here I am looking down on the Humber River andCorner Brook in the background. WOW!

The climb down was, of course, much easier. And the iced capp and honey crueller at Tim Horton's at the bottom helped revive our energies. Next time though, I think I'll wait until Autumn to climb so far.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Winsome Wednesday

  1. attractive or appealing in appearance or character.

    "a winsome smile"

Yes, I once was a somewhat shallow individual who judged people on their appearance before I'd even become aware of their character. Such is the folly of youth. But as I've aged, not only did I begin to learn that character is so much more desirable but it became more and more evident as I myself began to lose my looks, figure and agility. Aging is one of the greatest teachers of humility and living through the enviable hardships of life is one of the greatest builders of character.

Peace and serenity are the desires of my heart these days. I have found that I more quickly accept those enviable hardships when they come as being part of life and no longer rally about how unfair life can be. I forgive more quickly; I accept differences more readily; I seek out those places of calm during the storm that have sustained me in the past; and I'm constantly looking for new ways to maintain that peace of mind. (My Spidey senses tingle when I come across some new method to try, so I'm always open to what could be interesting, hopefully fun and sometimes even weird ways to cope and/or grow. Whatever works and doesn't hurt others!)

Physical health is deeply connected to mental health, and I want to achieve the best health I can at this time of my life. So, after the initial fear that I often feel when life's shit-storms happen, I'll say to myself: "No Sandy! You can do nothing about this right now, so put that worry aside and enjoy life." Does this pep talk work? Always! It's not always instantaneous, but through practice and prayer over many, many, many trials and tribulations, I can usually find the oasis in the desert. 

All that deep, contemplative stuff aside, this does NOT mean that I don't still try to look winsome aka appealing in appearance. (The vanity's not been entirely knocked out of me by life yet!) So, I put on my makeup, style my hair, color coordinate my outfits, and try to look as current as possible without being "mutton dressed as sheep" and while still letting ME shine through. 

Today is a lovely sunny, warm day again here in western Newfoundland. And I'm meeting old school buddies for an extended lunch, one of whom I haven't seen in 42 years! I'm so excited! 

We'll be sitting at an outside deck under an umbrella overlooking the beautiful Bay of Islands. 

I decided to wear my beige and navy cotton tunic from Papillion, navy 3/4 leggings, and navy Naot sandals. (Even my Dr Who phone cover is coordinated, hahaha!) 

I added a couple of bracelets and a pair of my favorite gifted earrings, handmade down to the blown-glass beads (Katherine Gordon of LaHave NS)

I'm comfortable, casual, coordinated and, I believe, age appropriate ..... for the mature weirdo that I am!

'Cause that's what it's all about: us being us!