Newfoundland in the winter is not really the most hospitable place to visit. It's barren and blustery, cold and snowy and windy. However, I had a cousin that lived in the city, St. John's and I really needed a few days' break so I flew over to visit in March some years ago. It happened to be at the end of a winter where they had had record breaking snowfalls! The snow banks were still well over our heads even at the end of March when some of it had thawed away!
Newfoundland is an island so you can only get there either by air or a sea ferry. Flying worked best for me. St. John's is on the Avalon Peninsula, a southeast bit of the island of Newfoundland. It's got a small natural harbour and a nice sized city with a lively downtown area fill of shops and restaurants including the infamous George Street which is lined with bars, pubs and restaurants. The malls in the area, and the "big box" super stores don't seem to have taken too much custom away from the downtown.
One of the days, we drove out of the city and up along the northeast and northwest of a peninsular point of land north of the city stopping first at Middle Cove in Logy Bay. The cove was all iced in though the water was moving under the pack ice. The cove is surrounded by cliffs out of which spout frozen waterfalls and the "sand" is black crushed granite and pebbles, the beach littered with huge rock formations and immense "boulders" of dirty ice. I stepped back off that beach realizing three rolls of film for a 4 and a half day trip might not be enough!
From there we drove a bit further through Torbay and down a side road to Bauline, a tiny fishing village with narrow hilly roads twisting past a little church down to a small pier where most of the dories were hauled up out of the water and beached for the winter. It would have been really pretty under a sunny sky but it still had a certain raw ruggedness with a cold wind blowing in my face as i took a photo of a rush of water emerging from an icy bank into the harbour.
Further along the road, after a detour into the nearby city limits for a bagel and tea break at Tim Horton's, we headed back towards the shoreline for Conception Bay South. We stopped in St. Philip where there is a ferry to the small Bell Island and drove through Paradise to Chamberlain's Head where Chamberlain's Pond was on the map. It looked interesting on the map, like a bay that had been closed off from the sea by a strip of land so we followed a few rough side roads and down an unpaved one, not much wider than the car. That bay, or "pond" was frozen and the strip of land looked as if a celestial dump truck had laid a strip of gravel along to make an embankment across the mouth of the bay. It must have been the tides and waves breaking up the rocks over a natural breakwater underneath that formed it.
Along we drove through the villages, enjoying the stark winter beauty. We had a little bit of sun and blue sky but it didn't last long and was gone by the time we reached the highway back to the city.
The next day, we had a look in some of the tourist craft and food shops along one end of Water Street until it was time to meet Floyd and Lorraine at a little pub called the Duke of Duckworth for a drink. We left there after an hour or so for the Westminster restaurant which was just at the Water Street entrance to the alley. It's a British theme restaurant with British names slapped on the menu items, some of which are traditional but some of which feature the wonderful fresh Newfoundland seafood. We ordered an assortment of appetizers before our meal. It was a lovely meal and we took our time and had a lovely visit, ensconced in a deep padded booth in the corner.
Finally time to leave and say good bye. We drove up Signal Hill to see the end of the sunset over the city. There were at least another dozen or more cars parked up there too even though the evening was cold and damp with a chilly but fresh and bracing wind up on the hill high above the city. On the east side of the hill you can look down to the steep cliffs and walking trails to the sea and the lighthouse at the impossibly narrow mouth of the harbour by the small village called The Battery. The ice was broken up and floating back out to sea with the tide, where earlier, the harbour was tightly packed with it.
Another day, another drive. It was snowing when we left, big fat flakes that gently floated down. No wind. We headed for the trans Canada highway west with the requisite stop at Tim's for a takeaway coffee for the road. The turnoff we want is about 75 km. From St. John's. We are heading north to the village of Dildo. Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, the infamous Dildo, Newfoundland. There's also a South Dildo. The mind boggles. It's a small fishing village and i have no idea how it got it's name. There is an interpretation center there (honest!) but it was closed for the winter season. There is also a bed and breakfast overlooking the bay so there must be some tourist traffic even though it's off the main road. There is a fish processing plant nearby too, providing much needed employment. It's on an inlet at the back end of Trinity Bay. Even on a gray overcast day, fog over the water and a bit of rain falling, it's still picturesque with it's square houses and buildings scattered along two or three winding roads and up into the surrounding hills. The fishing boats are tied up at the pier and there is one in the process of being built on the small beach. There are a couple of derelict dories alongside of the road near the beach head, paint peeling, wood rotting, abandoned.
Back on the road cross country to the Conception Bay side of the peninsula, and a stop in Bay Roberts at Tim's for a loo break and a lunch of coffee and bagels. We then followed a narrow winding secondary road. There is a mention of a Hawthorne's Cottage, a national historic site on the road map. We were pretty sure it would be closed for the season but thought there might be a photo in it at least. It's in a village called Brigus and the village is very pretty in a touristy "quaint" way. I think they do get a bit of tourist traffic in summer because of it's beauty. Seems like it because there are a few little tea rooms and craft shops (closed) there as well. The house belonged to a sea captain, Bob Hawthorne.
Back to the main road and along the shore until we come to the turnoff back to the Trans Canada and back home. It's been a gray foggy day but not windy for a change and not very cold. One thing i noticed along the roads were these small painted structures about the size of an outhouse. But they were frequent and alongside the road, an odd place for one. And also, they had no doors so i knew the weren't what they looked like. Were they perhaps there for storage? But nothing seemed to be in any of them. I asked Gayle and what d'you know? Shelters for the children waiting for the school bus! I'd never seen that before on my travels on country roads. What a great idea!
We're having Chessy's fish and chips for supper, a local chain of fast food and yummy. The main reason for this trip was to visit family and see a little bit of the area. St. John's is a great city to visit. It's small but it has a few museums and some nice parks and places to hike. It's very hilly, though and some of the hills leading down to the small harbour are so steep there are steps in the sidewalks!