Day 18 & 19 – Coming Home!

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 impeccable.  From concept to completion, this has been a truly unforgettable experience.  I’m so pleased that each of you decided to take the Newfoundland Spectacular tour with Franklin Tours.  We pride ourselves on making our trips memorable and I’m sure this one will have our guests talking for years to come about their adventure on “The Rock”.  Thanks to everyone for pulling together, enjoying each other’s company and making this vacation a once (or twice??) in a lifetime experience!

John and Larry

Critter Count: Thousands of Gulls, Murres, Terns, Puffins, Several Whales (close to the boat in P-A-B, on our Outports Tour), 14 Moose, all the various critters inside Salmonier Nature Park (too many to count…), Hundreds of beautiful Northern Gannets diving, Three Partridges (sans Pear Tree!) on the road in Cape Breton (all still alive…), Cod…glorious Cod – at least 20 specimens, a small familial herd of seven caribou…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!

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Day Seventeen – North Sydney, NS to Moncton, NB

Well…we have our half-hour back and are looking to the last hour tomorrow.  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!)

Today was a “long haul” day but we were in good spirits (*ahem* so to speak!)  We began at Flora’s Ice Cream and Gift Shop where the rug hookers demonstrated how they create fabulous works of art and the long hours that go into a few inches of fabric.  Then we were off to view the highlights of the Cabot Trail and we went as far as Fishing Cove before we turned around for all the west coast photo stops.

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When it all works out, we do like to make our tours extra special for the individuals on our tour and while it may not always “work out”, we were able to “work in” a trip to the Glenora Distillery on the Ceilidh Trail.  Much to the appreciative palettes of those on board who desire the finer things, I think the distillery was happy to have hosted Franklin Tours even if only for twenty minutes.

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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.

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

Back on Terra Firma!

As much as we have enjoyed the tour, we know that in order to take another trip, we must return home (or we could just keep this one going!!)  We left “The Rock” this morning with fond memories, full bellies and new found friends all over the island.  The crossing was calm; a few whitecaps reminded us where we were but they dissipated at about the halfway point.

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It was about three hours into the crossing that we began to spot the Atlantic White Sided Dolphins, Northern Gannets and a Spotted Dolphin too!

Our arrival to North Sydney was flawless at the hotel (thanks Brittany!) and we were settled in our rooms and ready for dinner.

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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!)

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The butterflies were also a highlight – over 700 butterflies in the insectarium was a beautiful sight!  They must really like our tour group since one tried to hitch a ride on Larry’s back as he was exiting the pavilion!

After a delicious lunch in Deer Lake (and a photo opp with the moose!) we made our way to Corner Brook for an early check in (and an early departure!).

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That didn’t prevent many of us from visiting the Glynmill Pond and taking in the beautiful scenery there.

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

Today was simply a great day for travelling.  Although St. John’s did not look promising, the weather turned out to be beautiful once we arrived in the quaint, gorgeous town of Trinity.  Discovered in 1501, Corte Real arrived here on Trinity day and the town has been called Trinity ever since.  As there was a church lunch put on by the ACW, we were very fortunate in that we didn’t need to move the bus far for lunch!  For $10 we had our choice of soups, sandwiches, pie and a drink.  (Personally, I went with the: Moose stew, Ham and Cheese, Lemon Meringue Pie and a coffee!)  We were pleased to be able to help support the church’s ongoing roof repair.

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We also really enjoyed a visit to Aunt Sarah’s Chocolate Shop in Trinity (a perennial favourite!) With samples of White Cheesecake Chocolate and Buttercrunch Chocolate to entice us, I don’t think I’ve seen quite so many baggies of chocolate coming out of one store on any tour!!

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.

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We are all looking forward to our evening’s entertainment at Mt. Peyton – the “Mug-Up”!

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

Welcome back!  Great day in St. John’s (again!)  Today we finished up any final things we wanted / needed to do before we left for our Boat Cruise.  I had wanted to visit the Newman Vaults for a while and today I finally did it and I was very pleased I did.  The vaults really showed the progression and evolution of port storage throughout the history of the Newman company.  The guide (a trained archeologist) was very knowledgeable and showed his dedication and passion for history.

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At 12:45 we boarded the bus for Bay Bulls.  After a quick tour in the gift shop we were ready for the real tour.  Although it is getting late in the season for whales, the puffins, murres, gulls, razorbills and more were on Gull Island and Green Island by the thousands!

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Razorbills

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Before we went back to the hotel, we made a quick photo stop at Petty Harbour – a scenic and picture perfect pretty port!

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Day Twelve – St. John’s

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 (“down North”).  Our first stop was the Logy Bay Ocean Science Research Facility.  This is where Memorial University students study aquatic life and learn about these fascinating animals work within the ocean ecosystem.

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Then we visited Middle Cove Beach – a wonderful, natural setting where we listened to the water trickle over and through the rocks.

When Bob asked to see a fish, Andrew, our local guide, took us to Tappers Cove where we saw the Cod Fishermen filleting their catch.  We learned so much just from being right on the dock and seeing the men working with the knives. (like, “Where, exactly, are the ‘tongues’ located?”)

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Then we came to The Rooms to see the Provincial museum and the art gallery.

For dinner, most of us went to The Celtic Hearth.  Although the service was slow, we had an opportunity to get to know each other better and experience their take on a “Jigg’s Dinner”.

Day Eleven – St. John’s, NL

Today was about exploring the city and its rich history.

We began with a wonderful breakfast at the Delta St. John’s (There’s some kind of Oceanography conference going on here and it’s fun to overhear “geeked out” conversations about water – very cool that these discussions are happening here in St. John’s!)

St. John's Skyline

St. John’s Skyline

South Side Harbour

South Side Harbour

At nine o’clock we boarded the coach for our city tour that took us to South Side Harbour, Quidi Vidi Village, The Railway Museum, past the War Memorial, down to see Terry and out to Cape Spear.

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Then it was time for lunch. Ches’ is a traditional Newfoundland Fish and Chips restaurant with a few locations in the St. John’s.  I thought it would be a good choice since there were still a few people who hadn’t enjoyed the Cod Tongue delicacies.  I was very pleased to see that we could initiate a few more people to the experience!

After lunch, it was time for a Tattoo! Well, not the painful, permanent kind…the kind with drums and colours and military.  The story of the Royal Newfoundland regiment played out before us for a little over a half hour.  This is a truly impressive experience – not to be missed when visiting St. John’s.

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We returned to the hotel following the Tattoo to freshen up before dinner.  A thoroughly enjoyable day!

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

Welcome back!  We have recovered from our Screech-In and we have arrived in Canada’s oldest city, St. John’s – founded in 1583!

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.

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Continuing eastward, we visited the Silent Witnesses, a memorial for Flight 1285.

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Making an “executive decision”, we braved the elements (which were not much) to visit Salmonier Nature Park.

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

What a day we’ve had – full of adventures, intriguing stops and fun times with our crew!

First stop and full disclosure… John’s evening expedition of Moose Spotting paid dividends this morning as we took a trip down to the Port aux Choix Lighthouse where he saw a small herd of caribou (see photos from Day Eight!).  We took photos at the lighthouse then, believing the caribou had moved on (they had!), the group was so excited to see a bull moose!!

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Then we visited Port au Choix historic site and learned about the nearly 6000 year history of human life in the area.  Truly amazing!

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Moving south through Gros Morne Provincial Park, we made a couple of photo stops to remember the gorgeous island.

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After a lovely lunch in Rocky Harbour, we headed east at Deer Lake and made our way to King’s Point.  The pottery of King’s Point was unique and the shop had so many tempting pieces of art from over 300 artists.

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

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

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