Monday Morning Musings

Posted on June 15, 2015 under Monday Morning Musings with no comments yet


Ben’s amazing art studio



It had been a full fifty years since I last visited the West Coast of Newfoundland until this past week when Betty and I took a four day mini vacation to visit friends ( our daughter’s in laws ). I know most of you will either fall asleep after reading 750 words or will have to rush off to work so I’m going to try and summarize the high points.

The scenery is breath taking, not at all what I expected , other than the standard pictures one sees of Gros Morne National Park. But like most places on the planet, after all the oohs and ahs, it always comes down to the people and you won’t find any finer than in Newfoundland. They are incredibly hospitable and friendly and I think they were all born with charm and a wicked sense of humour. In particular, I would like to thank our hosts and tour guides, Danny and Shirley for taking the time to show us around.

Traveller alert: if you ever go to Port Aux Basques as a foot passenger and plan to leave your car in North Sydney, ask me about the parking situation and the bizarre way you get from this private parking lot to the terminal. There’s an entire story that I might write about the two hours leading up to departure. I am tempted to call it “Terminal Illness.”  We, and two other very weary travellers,  were waiting for a shuttle to take us on to the boat. We feared that we might have been forgotten when a Marine Atlantic employee walked by. He said ( I’m not kidding ), “ If you see the ferry leaving the harbor, you’ll know you missed the boat.” More later on this heart warming experience.

Our home base was St. Georges, just across the bay from Stephenville. Less than 100 yards from the Conway’s back door, runs a stretch of the Trans Canada Trail. You can literally walk from Port Aux Basques to St. John’s ( approx.. 1000 kms. ). Now that would be quite the experience stopping every night in one of the small towns dotting the province.

If you ever go to Gros Morne you must go to Rocky Harbor. It is a quaint town and a local hotel hosts an evening of music and story telling called “Anchors Aweigh.” Once again, I could write an entire story about this. It is three hours of non stop rollicking music and fun. Four of the five musicians are old farts like me ( the accordion player is 74 and a whirling dervish ,at that ). The drummer is much younger. Mike MacDonald once played with the Fables. He is a fantastic drummer and singer. This is one of the best live shows you will ever see. They’ve been doing the show three nights a week for 19 years. And we didn’t get “dunched.” Anyone want to take a stab at what this means? It involves the overuse of a certain body part.

Gros Morne is, as advertised. Stunning. We didn’t get to Woody Point or Trout River but the locals tell us that these places are truly special. Almost forgot. We were out to dinner in Rocky Harbor and I asked for a non alcoholic beer. The waitress looked at me as if I had come from a far off planet. They didn’t have any but a few minutes later, she plunked an O’Doulls on the table. She had walked next door to the liquor store and bought a case. These are the kind of things that bring tourists back to Newfoundland. Hospitality is in the people’s DNA.

We traveled up to St. Anthony’s to get a glimpse of the icebergs. It is a very long drive especially when it is rainy and foggy the entire way. We stopped in Port Aux Choix for a bite to eat and to see the art studio owned by one Ben Ploughman ( ). Ben is an incredibly talented artist and an amazing story teller. Every one of his works has a story behind it and he is not shy to tell you all about his works. We bought a piece and it will soon adorn our living room wall. I am not an art collector but this is a place you really should visit if you get the chance. We spent a full hour at his studio.

If you’re from Newfoundland , I’m sure this is not news to you. Because the landscape is rugged and rocky, growing a vegetable garden can be a challenge. So, with typical ingenuity, Newfoundlanders plant their gardens along the side of the road, sometimes in the middle of nowhere. The expression “any port in a storm” comes to mind. Just outside of St.Anthony’s, we saw Ephram tending to his garden. I jumped out, took his picture and chatted for 15 minutes .I  plan to do a full length story of this phenomenon  at a later date.

So there you have it. What a wonderful four days.

“Long may your big jib draw.”

Have a great week.



Len and Ephram at his roadside garden

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