4 July 2011

Newfoundland Rocks

Newfoundland, also known as "The Rock"
(NL - part III)

For all of you 'visiting' Newfoundland for the first time just now, please make sure you attend the "Screech-In" ceremony posted previously.  There's no better welcome than an entire town cheering you on as you down a shot of screech rum and pucker your lips to kiss a cod fish. Click this link to watch it on Youtube, then come back to the Blog for the rest of the NL adventure:  <<Newfoundland Screech-In Ceremony>>

Seems Newfoundland hosts a number of  festivals and events all over the Island. There's the Salmon Festival, 'Trails, Tales and Tunes', Frosty Festival, Mussel Bed Soiree, Festival of Flight, an Iceberg Festival etc etc (of course with countless festivals and events being held in NL's capital, St John's).  I had landed here in the month of August to experience their annual Soiree event. Let's just say that if you're lucky enough to plan your vacation around one of these "home coming" events, you are in for a treat!!

Immediately following the house party (thanks to Tanya & Darrell for hosting and for so many of you coming out to join in, what fun memories), the crowd took their four newest honorary Newfies to a street dance. HA!  How incredible!  I’m sure not many can say that their Screech-In ceremony was followed by a street dance?! Woohoo...what a time!!  At some point I recall, long after the music stopped at the concrete venue, someone suggesting that we head home to get some sleep.

I was only here on a six day holiday and the list of things to do was extensive:  sightsee, reunite, explore, meet & greet. Honestly, not every waking moment was spent out on the bridge drinking, eating and singing (although there seemed to be loads of time for that too).  Oh excuse me, "the bridge" in case you're wondering, is the Newfoundland term for a deck or a patio.  We did have one more beautiful day of doing just that.  From the bridge later that same day, a crowd of us set off to attend the outdoor concert.  Streetheart took the stage first, followed by a rockin' performance by the Stampeders. How perfect! 

The concert lasted until after 11 p.m. but the party wouldn't end there. Don't worry, you had no trouble to figure out where to go ... "The Pub" "The Pub" everyone singing out the same, "The Pub".  Since it was definitely the local wateringhole, The Pub was ready and waiting for us. By the time we arrived, its frame was bulging from the crowd inside and guaranteed, you couldn't find a livelier, happier or more packed place in town.

It was here, at The Pub after the concert (back in 2007), that I met Guy Maye.  A  tall, dark haired fellow in his mid fifties, dancing & singing up a storm at the head of the dance floor (which was packed). He was a Karaoke specialist and the entertainment. He'd play whatever anyone wanted to hear or sing and if no one came to sing, then he would...what an amazing voice.  My favourite memory (and one that was recreated every visit to NL at the pub) was singing, arm-in-arm with everyone on the dance floor, along with Guy, to the song 'Strawberry Wine'.  He played it for us every night we were there. What a memory. 

I think the pub kicked us out at 5 a.m. ... oh dear!

"Up, up!! Get up"!  You don't want to miss the day out in the bay. The weather was cloudy and a bit windy, so when the crew said we'd be delayed because of the winds, I took their word for it. Many things in Newfoundland are subject to weather cooperation.  Wind, even more than rain & snow, can stop you from getting places, have Plans "A" "B" and "C" ready (just in case). Mother Nature decided to cooperate though and shortly after 11 a.m. we made our way to the boat launch.

Here I was sitting in a boat getting ready to explore the Atlantic Ocean. Life is good ... and experience is everything.  I grew up out in the country amongst farmland, thus boating in the Ocean hadn't been such a common thing for me.  Whereas, my friends here in NL likely started boating before they could even crawl as an infant and as such, had no fear jumping into their boats on this slightly windy day to venture out into the wide open blue. (The wind creates waves).

Compared to the landscape, the boats were small but they were comfortable, safe and allowed you to feel 'at one' with the sea.  Life jacket, rain suit and camera ready, I was psyched for this adventure (even though I suffered waves of anxiety once I got in the boat ... sorry for the pun).  As we began to leave land, I realized my vivid imagination had created yet another delusion. 

For some reason I had thought Newfoundland's coastline would be where land-meets-water and that its edges would be solid rock.  After this rocky edge, there wouldn't be any more land, it'd stop right there and only deep blue sea from there on out (isn't this why they call it the "Rock"?). However, the further we boated away from the wharf, I learned this concept couldn't be further from the truth.  Island after island lined the bays and coves within this saltwater paradise. Some of them rock, some sand, some treed.  There were so many cabins, cottages and homes ... mostly owned by people from Newfoundland who had chosen to build, visit and even stay out on these islands.

In total, our convoy was five vessels strong all filled with delighted passengers, who continued to smile, laugh and gaze as we skipped our way across the choppy water.  Round a corner, veer to the right and there it was...the cabin off in the distance nestled in a cove, surrounded by trees, rocks and water.  This is where we'd be spending our day.  At this moment, I was witnessing Heaven on Earth.

The day was filled with exploring, hiking, eating, napping, finding sea treasures and creating wonderful memories.  Oh yes, and swimming, though I did not.  The water is frigid, gives me shivers just thinking about how cold it was (imagine jumping into a bathtub half full of ice cubes!! "___", umm yes, that's exactly what I said haha).  I still have no idea how they didn't develop hypothermia!  The moral of the story of course is that the only limit to the possibilities out in the bay, is your imagination.

For hours and hours you could just sit on the front porch and stare out into the ocean ... totally off on some other planet as your worries continued to be washed away by the blue current. That's exactly what I was doing when someone yelled "WHALE" ... instantly my heart started to race, my eyes started to scan the open waters and before I knew what I was doing, my camera was in my hand and I was running to get to the furthest rock point near the water.  I needed a closer look. I had to see him! ... Darn it.  Gone.

Not too long after, while a few of us were at the rock's edge chatting just before heading back to pack it up for the day, we were visited by the whale again.  He was a long way off shore still, out there feeding.   Minke's aren't large in comparison but I was astonished to see him surface time and time again.  The distance, height of his spray and how long he’d stay down before reappearing.  And the sound ... I won't ever forget the sound of him exhaling as he met the air.  (This video is really shaky (I was way too excited) and I had to eliminate the volume...in my excitement, I might have said some things not worth repeating aloud. My apologies for both. Still want to see him? ... just click here: Holiday Heidi sees her first WHALE). 

The water had calmed.  The sun had started to set.  As we made our way back, I just sat in silence (smile on my face) wondering how I could ever thank these people for sharing and introducing me to all this.  What a place Newfoundland is, the landscape - its people...it so ROCKS!! 

By the time we were closer to town, it was pitch black.  No trouble seeing the other boats out on the water though, we were amongst those who'd entered the boat parade. Strings of lights, banners, horns, flags ...we were just a little under decorated. Funny. Not into missing events, Stephanie & I (et al.) went home, unloaded the gear, changed our clothes and made it back to the waterfront before the fireworks had started.  Mussels for sale by the bowl full, bands waiting on  stage for the fireworks to start & finish, surrounded by a town full of fabulous new friends ... how was I going to say good-bye?  Only one full day remained.  I wasn't ready to think about it.

I did say I wasn't ready to think about it yet (sorry).  The next installment entitled "NL...you know I'll be back!" will be posted within a week.  I hope you're loving Newfoundland?! 

Share your comments, your stories, your travel advice etc. in the section below (comments or reaction section) and give your answer to the weekly survey (top right of the blog page).  No sign up necessary, just a simple click :)  A little shy?!  Why not send me an email instead: holidayheidi@hotmail.ca.

Sadly, Guy Maye passed away September of 2010. 
My heartfelt condolences to his family and to the entire town for their loss.  Wish we'd had time for a full conversation. Regardless, I'd like to recognize him for my many fond memories on that dance floor.  I'm sure nights at The Pub haven't been the same since. 

~ Holiday Heidi


  1. I am so glad that I met you Miss Holiday Heidi. AND you have shown me once again what a wonderful place we live in. Can't wait to get you "home" again and in our arms(and to have a jiggs dinner)

  2. Awesome as usual. You really make our province look and sound so beautiful....and that it is. Hope to get to see you again this year. Maybe you'll come visit me in my little town! Cheers!
    Cathy xo