About John Reid

Hello all! I am very excited to be leading Franklin Tours' Newfoundland Spectacular once again this year. I'll be keeping our families updated using our online tour journal!

Day 18 & 19 – Coming Home!

Photographic evidence of a memorable tour!!

We are on our way home but a couple of “other” surprises happened today – we had an extra tour of downtown Fredericton where we saw Christ Church, The Lord Beaverbrook Statue and Art Gallery as well as the Military Barracks. On the way over Pont Quebec, I talked about the disasters associated with the Quebec Bridge and its two collapses at a terrible loss of life. Lanny pointed the bus in the direction of Ste. Foy where we had another little surprise…a tour of Old Quebec – Laval University, Plains of Abraham, the Military Barracks, the Cannonball in the Tree, Chateau Frontenac, Notre-Dame, the silos, the port and then a leisurely trek back to the hotel…

Just once…I want enough time for the driving range!!

My performance appraisal got a “Busy as a Beaver” award of excellence!

Dinner tonight was a celebration of the tour as well as a send off bidding, not farewell…but “Au Revoir!”. We want to see our passengers again!!

Yours truly had the Cedar Plank Salmon:

The choices were simply delicious:

And the gang (where did Wendell go???)

We have had an amazing tour!  We have seen and done so many different things that to sum them all up in a blog would be impossible!  The organization of the tour has been absolutely superior.  From concept to completion, this has been a truly unforgettable experience for all of our passengers.  I’m so pleased that each of you decided to take the Newfoundland Spectacular tour with Franklin Tours.  We pride ourselves on making memories that will last a lifetime and I’m sure this one will have our guests talking for years to come about their adventure on “The Rock”.  Thanks to every single one of you for pulling together, enjoying each other’s company and making this vacation a once in a lifetime experience (unless that reunion tour becomes a reality!!).

Happy Travels!
from John and Lanny

Final Critter Count: Thousands of Gulls, Murres, Terns, Puffins, at least eight Whales (close to the boat in P-A-B, and on our whale watch), about five Moose including one TODAY, all the various critters inside Salmonier Nature Park (too many to count…), many beautiful Northern Gannets diving, on the road in Cape Breton , Cod…glorious Cod – at least 20 specimens, several caribou, two bald eagles…I know I’m forgetting some but that’s a very good start!

Thanks also to the people who wrote in to the blog and let us know that you were following along at home!

 

Day Seventeen – North Sydney, NS to Moncton, NB

Today we started off with an excellent breakfast in North Sydney and we had a full day of touring on the agenda. Cape Breton Highlands awaits!!

Before we go too far, however, we needed a stop to make our “Bladder Gladder”. Flora’s Gift Shop takes care of many of a Tour Director’s requirements:
1. Beautiful Gifts for home
2. A Lovely Ice Cream Shoppe
3. Restrooms
The rug hookers demonstrated how they create fabulous works of art and the long hours that go into just a few inches of fabric.

Then we were off to view the highlights of the Cabot Trail and we went as far as Pleasant Bay before we turned around for all the west coast photo stops:

Fishing Point Cove

Pleasant Bay

French Mountain

This has been such an incredible tour.  We are filled with stories and laughter (I still hear everyone joking at the back of the bus!)

We hopped aboard the bus and made our way toward Moncton, had another excellent meal at Jean’s and turned in with full bellies and happy memories.

Well…we have had many surprises on the tour but usually it’s for the benefit of our passengers! Tonight I had a very special surprise from Monica who plans the tours and happens to be my wife. She flew in from Montréal to Moncton to surprise me while on tour:

It takes a lot of planning to be able to “GET JOHN” but she pulled it off and I’m so grateful.

Day Sixteen – Corner Brook, NL to Port-Aux-Basques, NL to North Sydney, NS

We’ve arrived back to North Sydney for our overnight. We have definitely enjoyed the tour, but the return voyage is an important step in realizing what we love about about the places we call home, and thus, we must return home (or we could just keep this one going!!)

Leaving Port-Aux-Basques:

We left “The Rock” this morning with fond memories, full bellies and “new-found-friends” all over the island. We had a very calm crossing; a few whitecaps reminded us where we were but even they dissipated at about the halfway point.

Not much in the way of “The Life Aquatic” this time but there was some beautiful scenery on departure, during and on our arrival.

Our first glimpse of Cape Breton on return

A Northern Gannet ushered us in…

Low Point Lighthouse, NS

St. Alphonsus

I caught Stan at what appeared to be a contemplative moment:

Our arrival to North Sydney was flawless at the hotel (thanks Brittany!) and we were settled in our rooms and ready for dinner. Cape Breton Highlands, “Here we come!!”

Day Fifteen – Grand Falls-Windsor, NL to Corner Brook, NL

We are headed home!  We visited the Newfoundland Insectarium and Lloyd gave us a delightful and informative talk about “the birds and the bees of bees”.  Although he kept us laughing, we also learned so much about bees and their behaviour (in and out of the hive!) This quickly became another highlight of the tour from the reviews I heard! The butterflies were amazing – over 700 butterflies in the Insectarium is a beautiful sight!

We even had one try to catch a ride back to Ontario…but it would need to pick a less obvious place than on top of Wendell’s head!!

And the shot everyone was looking for happened to be on your tour director’s hand:

After a delicious lunch in Deer Lake (when the crowd tells you they want pizza, you have to oblige!!) we made our way to Corner Brook for an early check in (and an early departure!).

There was one last stop before going to the hotel. In order to really take in Corner Brook, the best place to go is the Captain James Cook Monument high above the city.

Even an early departure didn’t prevent many of us from visiting the Glynmill Pond and taking in the beautiful scenery there.

All right – morning comes early and it’s time for this guy to turn in:

Day Fourteen – St. John’s, NL to Trinity, NL to Grand Falls-Windsor, NL

Today was simply a great day for travelling other than a few high winds that had Lanny thinking he was already on the ferry!!

(He was happy to take a seat that wasn’t bouncing or swaying!!)

We first visited the Salmonier Nature Park (this is a lovely 1.5 mile stroll through the park to see a variety of Newfoundland’s native / not-so-native species) and although I’ve since been corrected on my idea of a leisurely stroll, I feel that those who walked the park saw more of Newfoundland and its beauty as a result (and did I mention how proud I am of my group!!??) Here are the images they saw on the trip around the park:

The weather turned out to be beautiful once we arrived in Trinity.  This quaint little town, offers a variety of experiences from a town pageant (we saw a glimpse today) to a forge to beautiful churches and a chocolate shop. Discovered in 1501, Corte Real arrived here on “Trinity Day” and the town has been called Trinity ever since.  Here’s a sneak peek:

We also really enjoyed a visit to Aunt Sarah’s Chocolate Shop in Trinity (a perennial favourite!) With samples of Buttercrunch Chocolate to entice us, I had to give instructions about how to keep it safely stored!!

After lunch, we made our way down the highway (up the highway in NFLD?) toward Grand Falls-Windsor with a quick stop to see Joey Smallwood’s hometown of Gambo.

We then proceeded to Silent Witnesses near the Gander Airport. This somber moment on the tour gave us a moment to reflect on the tragedy but also brought us the realization about those universal emotions of loss and how we all deal with tragedy in our lives particularly when we try to grasp the tragedy others must have experienced.

Tonight’s “Mug Up” consisted of songs and culture and language and more songs followed by the coffee and tea for which the Mug Up gets its name:

Day Thirteen – St. John’s, NL to Bay Bulls, NL (and back!)

Welcome back!  Great day in St. John’s (again!)  Today was our day for Bay Bulls. After touring in the gift shop we were ready for the “real” tour.  The captain told us that we had come at exactly mid-season this year and the whales were plentiful as were the puffins, murres, gulls, razorbills and more on Gull Island and Green Island by the thousands!

We also had one other mammal who was on display fresh off the bus, b’y!

Lanny’s Sou’Wester stole the show early this morning but within the first 20 minutes of being on board “The Atlantic Puffin”, we were treated to something I’ve never seen happen – a humpback whale breach!!! This was so very impressive! I had almost given up hope of seeing one live…let alone capturing for all you nice people following along on the blog:

We spent about 40 minutes hunting the whales who gave us quite a little display:

Puffin!

And while the whales are impressive in their own right, the birds of Gull Island were amazing too!

Northern Gannet

Kittiwakes

Common Murres

Another Northern Gannet

Manx Shearwater



Join us tomorrow when you’ll see that I still have a couple of surprises up my sleeve!! TTFN!

Day Twelve – St. John’s

Day TWELVE!!  Can you believe it?? St. John’s has so much to offer – it feels as though we could spend the entire nineteen days exploring this city alone!

Today most of us took a tour of the east coast of island (fondly known by the locals as “down North”).  Our first stop was the Logy Bay Ocean Science Research Facility.  Memorial University students and faculty use this facility to study aquatic life and learn about these fascinating animals work within the ocean ecosystem.  From their website: “…[T]he Centre houses laboratories where research is conducted on the North Atlantic fishery, aquaculture, oceanography, ecology, behaviour and physiology. Research is conducted on organisms ranging from bacteria to seals.  It’s a fascinating place to learn about underwater life in the North Atlantic!  Of course, the seals steal the show!!”

 

Then we visited Middle Cove Beach – a wonderful, natural setting where I finally saw a “Capelin Roll” – no this isn’t a Fish Sandwich!  When the Capelin come in to spawn, they rush toward the shoreline by the millions.  The water roils above them just a little and you see them retreat with the waves.  It was pretty incredible and some of the locals were netting them for supper (easiest catch of the day!)

Here is a Capelin – it’s what everybody eats! The whales, the gulls, the puffins!!

More scenery (but it’s all beautiful!)

Since we were near Torbay, we looked in on the local fisherman who were gathering their take for the winter ( or maybe for now!).

This is how lonely it can get when you’re on tour…JUST KIDDING!  Kissin’ da cod is how the fisherman make us feel welcome!!  Hmmm…I’m sure I heard them laughing when we left!

 

Then several people were dropped off at The Rooms to see the Provincial museum and the art gallery.

Here are some of the “Lucky Rocks” and here’s Andrew’s hand holding the Capelin eggs (you may think…”white sand” at first:

Day Eleven – St. John’s, NL

Today was about exploring the capital city and its rich history.

We began with a wonderful breakfast at the Delta St. John’s followed by our city tour that took us to The Railway Museum, Jellybean Row, past the War Memorial, down to see the Terry Fox memorial and out to Cape Spear.

Here’s a little video I took from the top of Signal Hill. The music in the video is by a Newfoundland group called “The Freels”.

After the city tour, we had the afternoon to explore Downtown St. John’s (or…if you’re the tour director and driver…get some laundry done!!  Right Lanny!!?)

This old St. John’s local happily obliged with an enthusiastic rendition when I asked him to play the Log Driver’s Waltz for my tour group!


Once we had our “work” done, it was time to get out and enjoy the city. For me, that means taking photos and strolling Jellybean Row, the cathedrals, the buildings and the harbour.

Here’s another video at Mile Zero:

It also means supper at the Duke of Duckworth!

 

A thoroughly enjoyable day!

Day Ten – Grand Falls-Windsor, NL to St. John’s, NL

Welcome back my virtual travellers!  Travelling from Grand Falls-Windsor, we spotted Gambo, home of Joey Smallwood (1900-1991), Newfoundland’s first premier.  We also stopped at the Gander airport to view the Kenneth Lochhead mural. The mural shows the flora and fauna and the people of Newfoundland without the addition of technology interfering too much into the images.

Gander Aiport Mural

We have recovered from our Screech-In (right Ken, Diane, Doug and Carolynne?) and we have arrived in Canada’s oldest city as honorary Newfoundlanders!  Welcome to St. John’s – founded in 1583!

 

 

 

 

The Signal Hill Tattoo is an experience not to be missed in St. John’s.  The military tattoo tells the story of the Newfoundland regiment and the battles they fought. Here is a sample from this afternoon:

 

 

Making an “executive decision”, we went to Signal Hill (to take advantage of the warm, dry weather):

 

And a couple of our folks on tour around Signal Hill…

 

Day Nine – Port aux Choix, NL to Grand-Falls Windsor, NL

We’ve had another “see-worthy” day in Newfoundland! Today was full of adventures, intriguing stops and fun times with our dancing kings and dancing queens! Moving south through Gros Morne Provincial Park, we made a couple of photo stops to remember the gorgeous island.

Western Brook Pond

Norris Point (and a whale…not seen in current photo!)

Lobster Cove Light House

Cow Parsnip (like our Hogweed – with the same properties but slightly less toxic)

 

 

The Whale Pavilion was a highlight of the day as well where we had the opportunity to see a fully restored humpback whale skeleton.

After a lovely lunch in Rocky Harbour, we headed east at Deer Lake and made our way to King’s Point.  David, from King’s Point Pottery gave us a quick history of the shop, where they came from and where they are today.  The jewellery and the artisans’ crafts were unique and the shop had so many tempting pieces from over 300 artists.

Our overnight at Mt. Peyton featured Ed Power giving us a traditional Newfoundland “Screech-In”.  We were all treated to Ed’s voice and guitar and a few jokes!

 

If you want to hear a little more of Ed, here it is: