Monday, September 5, 2011

A Foggy Trip Around the Irish Loop!

The next morning we decided that fog or no fog, we were going to do a tour around the Irish Loop. It starts in St. John's and heads south into the heart of Irish Newfoundland before looping back to St. John's. It is known for its scenery, wildlife and whales...and fog!

We arrived in Bay Bulls, one of the oldest communities in Newfoundland. You can take tour boats from here to see the ecological reserves, but somehow we didn't think we would see too much, and no one came running out to greet us!

An oil rig servicing can see the coils of pipe that are used to bring oil to the ships for collection.

We headed along Route 10 and noticed this little pond. What the heck? Someone has done an incredible job of making these models.

Complete with little people and buildings...

And across the road was this glass case with a scene of the Newfoundland seal fishery "The Way it Was." Obviously carving is a great winter hobby!

This shows the waterfront in St. John's in the early 1900s with the salt fish ready for market.

This is Ferryland. Doesn't it look a little desolate? Of course, everything does in the fog and drizzle. Ferryland is the site of an active archaeological dig. It was the first successful permanent colony in Newfoundland and had a population of 100 by 1625. It was destroyed by the French in the late 1600s and was forgotten until artifacts were uncovered and excavations began in 1980s.

This church was one of the last stone churches to be built in Newfoundland.

It was really windy and this lookout had some great waves!

From Ferryland, it was on to Trepassey where Amelia Earhart left as a passenger on the Friendship in 1928. She became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean.

We stopped in at the Portugal Cove Visitor Centre which offers tours to the world renown Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve. It's the only place in the world where Precambrian animal fossils are so abundant that they cover exposed areas the size of tennis courts. Huh! Who knew!

Nearby Cape Race was the site of the first wireless station in Newfoundland built in 1904. It was the only land based location that received a distress signal from the Titanic, and it played a major role in relaying news of the sinking to other ships and land locations.

We had lunch at the Trepassey Motel, and there was a lot of excitement in the restaurant as a local girl was being married that day.

We were back on our route when Ed, who was driving, pulled over to the side of the road and said "There's another one!" Another one what? Another carved village! Trust the driver to see it and none of the passengers!

Wow! What a lot of work!

There was a church, lots of fishing shanties, businesses and a school with little characters...

And this...the three wise men??

The Irish Loop is over 300 km, and by the time we got back, everyone was pooped. It was a great day, but I am sure we missed so much of the scenery because of the fog.

The next morning we decided to give Signal Hill another try. Signal Hill was the site of harbour defences for St. John's from the 18th century to WWII.

You cannot imagine how strong the winds were! In the gift shop, the girl said she was surprised they were still open. You seriously had to brace yourself when standing!

A view of St. John's from Signal Hill as it would have looked in 1831. Look at the ship coming into the harbour in the bottom left corner. The opening into the harbour is tiny! No wonder it is called The Narrows.

As it is today...or what you could see of it in the fog!

Right at the opening into the harbour is Fort Amherst. The first lighthouse in Newfoundland was built here in 1810, and the current one was built in 1951. The British fort was completed in 1777 and guarded the mouth of the St. John's harbour, but none of the original fortifications remain today.

Taking a break from our history lesson, I spotted this big snail. So interesting! I always thought their shells were upright on their bodies, not laying down. At least that's how you always see them in drawings and cartoons!

Marconi received the first transatlantic wireless transmission here in 1901.

Signal Hill today...

And as it was in 1933. You can see the transmission tower on the left.

And here come Barb and Ed down the hill trying to get away from the wind and the rain!

Trying to get out of the rain, we decided to visit The Fluvarium. There are nine viewing windows below ground level where you can watch the brown trout and salmon swimming by in their natural habitat.

Or you could, if there hadn't been so much rain that the water was all murky! And this was the best of the nine windows...

But they did have lots of aquariums where you could see trout and eels...

And frogs...

And then to complete our day we drove by this beach area to see some more waves.

It was so beautiful! When I got back in the car, I could lick the salt off my lips!

Listen to the wind...

This water from this waterfall near the road was rushing down...

And it was back to town again. We had lovely meals and met great people. How could we complain about the weather, when this is all they have had all summer!

And with that, our time in St. John's was over. We would love to come back. It really is a beautiful city!

Now we're heading to Halifax for the Buskers Festival...

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