Newfoundland – Our North American RV Tour

Windswept lake Newfoundland Canada
Windswept lake Newfoundland Canada
Friday, September 29 – Day 32
The group enjoyed a quiet night waking to a light frost and partly sunny skies, another furnace morning.
Our driving time today should be less than 4 hours we took advantage of our short drive delaying our departure to 10 am.
Once on the road, the scenery improved as the clouds lifted revealing rugged coastlines. The windswept trees looked as though a giant comb had passed through their branches.
As we neared St. John’s and the Atlantic Ocean the landscape changed to rugged rocky hills spotted with groves of stunted evergreens surrounding small lakes.
Each small lake sported a sign with a name. Newfoundland’s rivers are called brooks and lakes are called ponds, not sure why?
We arrived in St. John’s early afternoon, our destination is Pippy Park a large urban campground within city limits. Camping was pricey at $51. per night for an unkept pull-through spot complete with large puddles from recent rains, but handy to downtown St. John’s.
View from Signal Hill St. Johns, Newfoundland harbor
View from Signal Hill St. John’s, Newfoundland harbor
It was apparent we had not allowed enough time on the rock (the Island of Newfoundland as the locals describe it).
Our itinerary allowed only one day in St. John’s, hopefully, enough time to experience the culture and the people. Our plan included meeting up with a friend of our neighbor’s back home who promised to show us the town.
Terry and his wife Denise are younger than our group thus they still belonged to the workforce. We contacted them and agreed to meet for happy hour and dinner downtown St. John’s.
After setting up our rigs for the one night stay, a quick lunch and a cab ride downtown. The taxi driver was quite chatty as Newfies seem to be and asked if we minded a slight detour past his son’s school to check on him.
We drove past the school as his son emerged. The cabby and son exchanged a loud conversation as we slowly drove past. A strange but kind of refreshing encounter.

 

Signal Hill, St. Johns Newfoundland
Signal Hill, St. John’s Newfoundland
The cabby suggested we visit Signal Hill high above the city, one of the must-see sights in St. John’s. We took the cabby’s suggestion and headed to Signal  Hill.  Clouds and a cool wind greeted us as we got out of the taxi.
Signal Hill overlooks the St. John’s harbor to the right and the North Atlantic Ocean to the left. The look-out was the perfect vantage point to spot approaching enemy ships and protect the harbor during the Napoleonic Wars.

 

The gang inspecting the Queen's Battery, Signal Hill Newfoundland
The gang inspecting the Queen’s Battery, Signal Hill Newfoundland
Just below Signal Hill is the Queens Battery, an installation of large cannons guarding the narrow entrance to the harbor.
Signal Hill is also where Marconi made his famous first Trans-Atlantic radio transmission in 1901.
Good Sam Roadside Assistance
Good Sam Roadside Assistance
After the Signal hill tour, we walked down the hill to the St. John’s historic waterfront. This district apparently houses more than a hundred bars and pubs in a few blocks.

 

Old downtown St. Johns Newfoundland
Old downtown St. John’s Newfoundland
The sightseeing and two-kilometer walk made the group thirsty. We decided to duck into the first bar we came to.
We entered an old tiny bar featuring a talented soloist singing Celtic ballads. The middle-aged comical gentleman was entertaining and impossible to understand, probably the Newfie accent.
After a beer, we moved along the street to the next establishment, a proper Irish pub, The Golden Belly Brewery. A nicer bar but not exactly what we were looking for, no Celtic music like the first bar.

 

Our group enjoying deep fried pickles at an Irish bar St. Johns Newfoundland
Our group enjoying deep fried pickles & beer samples at the Golden Belly St. John’s Newfoundland
Newfoundland was settled by many groups, but the Irish influence seems to be the strongest especially in St. John’s.
The Irish pub was fun, the group enjoyed beer flights (5 samples) and a local delicacy, deep fried dill pickles with a spicy sauce. A surprisingly tasty fare although pricey at $7 for two pickles cut into lengthwise quarters.
The next bar, Shamrock City, was exactly what we thought an Irish pub should be, loud Celtic music belted out by Irish looking lads playing guitars and singing their hearts out.
We found a table, I phoned Terry and Denise and gave the name of the pub.

 

Terry and Denise with us at the Shamrock, St. Johns Newfoundland
Terry and Denise with us at the Shamrock, St. John’s Newfoundland
Terry and Denise were already in town. Soon they arrived and introduced themselves to the group. They shared stories of the St. John’s waterfront, their accent although thick was not difficult to understand, although the loud music didn’t help.
Terry explained his accent was mild compared to the small coastal communities where the ‘baymen’ live. Many of these coastal communities are only accessible by boat limiting outside contact thus preserving the old language and customs. They are almost impossible to understand, even for him.
We enjoyed strong Irish beer and shared Irish nachos as the place jumped with Celtic music and singalongs, most of which I could not understand.
Despite the language barrier, the group was swept away by the friendly party atmosphere.
The next pub O’Riley’s, is a two-story newly renovated pub, like any other Irish pub except for the second-floor balcony open to the stage and dance floor below.

 

The Shamrock Irish Pub St. Johns Newfoundland, Canada
The Shamrock Irish Pub St. John’s Newfoundland, Canada
This place was the most fun, the band played guitars, ukuleles, fiddles and sung their hearts out as everyone sang, danced, and indulged, reminded me of an old fashion country wedding.
Denise suggested we try a Newfoundland delicacy, Touton, a doughy bun stuffed with salt cod. As we tried this strange appy Terry explained he was raised on salt cod and there is nothing better than salt cod for breakfast.
There must be more to the description of Touton, but as often happens with Newfoundlanders, he got distracted by something shiny and didn’t share the rest of the story.
O’Riley’s became special to our group this night, we became honorary Newfies, ‘screeched in’ as it is called. The process is short and gross but hilarious.

 

Allyson kissing the frozen cod being "screeched in" St. Johns Newfoundland
Allyson kissing the frozen cod being “screeched in” St. Johns Newfoundland
As the first contestant, I was required to recite a Newfie expression, kiss a frozen cod for the count of 5 and down a shot of rum over nub lips and screech like a stuck seal.
It was a fun time although the last of our six complained the thawing cod was beginning to smell and become soggy. Henry got teased about French kissing the cod, YUK.
We finished the evening with another go at fish and chips, a Newfoundlander favorite. Every Newfie we talked too had a recommendation as to which place as the best. O’Riley’s was not on the top, but no one was thrilled with the idea of a cab ride.
Allyson and Lois after 'screeched in' St. Johns Newfoundland
Allyson and Lois after ‘screeched in’ St. John’s Newfoundland
The dinner was great, after which we bid goodnight to Terry and Denise with long hugs and pats on the back. We parted like old friends and hopped a cab for home.
Good Sam Roadside Assistance
Good Sam Roadside Assistance
  Saturday, September 30 – Day 33
We woke to a cool  6 degrees Celcius, cloudy skies and cloudy heads. I heard some traffic noise through the night but not enough to wreck my sleep, surprising our location was next to a busy highway, must have been the sedatives.
One of the bonuses of camping in an RV park, the electric heater takes the chill off while creating white noise and drowning out other noise. We have two, just in case one cannot handle the job.
Our plan this day was to make our way back to Terra Nova Provincial Park via a detour along the coast of the Avalon Peninsula a scenic drive called the Irish Loop.
The route was slow over rough, windy coastal roads through small fishing villages, orangey/red tundra, and groves of windswept stunted evergreens.
The skies cleared allowing the sun to highlight the ocean, cliffs and beach colors. These were the sights we had anticipated Newfoundland would provide.
 As we turned inland away from the roughed coastline to the forested inland hills fall colors reappear.
The Trans-Canada highway is the main route through Newfoundland traversing the island from west to east and back I guess.
Now that the skies have cleared we can see the picturesque mountainous formations we missed on our way to St. John’s.
We made our way back to Terra Nova Park arriving about 6 pm, a glass of wine with the gang a quick dinner and off to bed. A tired group after a long slow drive.
The clear skies brought cooler temperatures and overnight frost. It’s the last day of September, Newfoundland could get snow anytime. Fingers crossed we aren’t slowed by an early snow on our way back to the ferry.
Good Sam Roadside Assistance
Good Sam Roadside Assistance
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If you join through this link I will receive a small commission, helps with my costs, thanks, Gord.
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Next post, our last days in Newfoundland.
Thanks for visiting.
Gord B.

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